Maria, our new housekeeper, who was working for the Leslie Fiedlers in Forio, phoned yesterday afternoon from Rome and we went to meet her at Frascati.  She nearly talked my ear off while we were having our risotto but Pavlik thinks it was from nervousness at the newness.  I told P. that we must spoil her a little if we expect to be spoiled. He said she’s going to cost us “lots of money,” finds her full of “oil.”  Relationship with a servant is a vicious circle: you’re not happy unless she’s happy and she’s not happy if you’re displeased.

Frankie asked me when am I going to get married, I said, “During carnival time when you become a signorina, I’m going to marry you.”

“That face has done everything,” I said to Pavlik about Maria, “a real Moll Flanders.”

“The moment you speak to her it’s like an open faucet,” says P.

Gray Foy and Leo Lerman came out to lunch.  “I’m an impossible man,” Pavlik is saying to Gray, “you have to know that.  You have to see what I’m doing now—the space is dancing—space moves on a spiral line—the form moves on an oval round thing … they walk, they dance …”

“Not like Duchamp?” asks Gray.

“How not like Duchamp!  You think I’m a damn fool?  I’m myself, not like anybody else.  That’s why I want to go to Paris—people get up….”

“Doesn’t it make you uncomfortable?”

Gray is saying all the wrong things.  “…Scholarship…intellectual…” (about Uccello’s drawing of the chalice).  “Not art but science….”

Pavlik says: “I give you one advice”—Gray is an aspiring painter—“look at all the past—don’t come to the past with your little American ready-made ideas … go on your knees … very humbly.  You come now from America with all the one-track mind.  Look at everything and wait till everything turns over and clicks.  If nothing turns over and clicks, pack your luggage and go back home ….  I feel so near to Egypt, I feel so near to the Etruscans….”

“I suffer when I see dirt”—Maria’s line.  Pavlik says she makes “emotional chantage” on him, like his sister, Choura: “Wipe my bitter tears”—Pavlik applies this phrase to Maria’s habitual expression.

Leo Lerman asked me yesterday, “Would you like to hear something depressing?” I said, “No,” but he wanted to tell me so he told: “Truman Capote is making $500 a day in Rome working on the script of a DeSica movie.”  I told Gray: “My cynicism is gay.”

Bice comes in to tell us that Maria is leaving in a week, will return to the Fiedlers.  Said Maria didn’t want, or was too afraid or ashamed, to tell Signor Paolo herself.  So she’s taking the old job back in spite of there being seven people (5 children) to work for instead of two.  She’d already told me that she felt as if she were in prison out here—that one had to be born in the country to like it.

“Arachne, Arachne, you are queen of the world.”—P.

“November 1954”

I took a terrace walk and saw the most brilliant falling star—I always make the same wish: Love.



From: Water from a Bucket: A Diary 1948-1957. Turtle Point Press – ISBN 1 885586 20 5