A Middle-Aged Young Person: (June 1883)

THE other day a young middle-aged person called at my house. She had read certain things of mine which she did not wholly dislike, and desired a few minutes’ converse with me, surrounded by my Lares and Penates. I call her a young middle-aged person because, though she was of an uncertain age, — which always means past thirty-five, — she was, in manner and habiliments, young. She came from the West, the land of promise, the land which gives us our presidents, and is, some day, to give us our literature. She was not a brilliant conversationalist, but she was not without a certain aplomb that fitted her for dropping in on an entire stranger, and occupying time which, so far as she knew, might have been very valuable to him. As a host, it was my duty to be courteous; as an author, it was my wish not to shatter any possible ideal that she had formed of me from my humble writings. I found that I had undertaken a difficult contract. My elderly young friend had very little to say for herself; she was a most unsuggestive person; her remarks were upside-down hooks, upon which it was nearly impossible to hang anything. In order to avoid those dreadful hiatuses which occur between constrained or stupid people, I was obliged to talk and talk and talk. At last my guest departed. A few days afterwards I saw everything that I did n’t say on that occasion fully reported in the columns of the Western Reserve Bugle.

I should like to ask some contributor to furnish me with a phrase that will adequately characterize the conduct of that middle-aged young person.