Sample K22 from John Cheever, "The Brigadier and the Golf Widow," The New Yorker, 39 (November 11, 1961), 53-54. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,018 words 377 (18.7%) quotes 1 symbolK22

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John Cheever, "The Brigadier and the Golf Widow," The New Yorker, 39 (November 11, 1961), 53-54.

Arbitrary No Hyphen: birthcontrol [0520]Note: locker room [0280] locker-room [0300]

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I would not want to be one of those writers who begin each morning by exclaiming , `` O Gogol , O Chekhov , O Thackeray and Dickens , what would you have made of a bomb shelter ornamented with four plaster-of-Paris ducks , a birdbath , and three composition gnomes with long beards and red mobcaps '' ? ? As I say , I wouldn't want to begin a day like this , but I often wonder what the dead would have done . But the shelter is as much a part of my landscape as the beech and horse-chestnut trees that grow on the ridge . I can see it from this window where I write . It was built by the Pasterns , and stands on the acre of ground that adjoins our property . It bulks under a veil of thin , new grass , like some embarrassing fact of physicalness , and I think Mrs. Pastern set out the statuary to soften its meaning . It would have been like her . She was a pale woman . Sitting on her terrace , sitting in her parlor , sitting anywhere , she ground an axe of self-esteem . Offer her a cup of tea and she would say , `` Why , these cups look just like a set I gave to the Salvation Army last year '' . Show her the new swimming pool and she would say , slapping her ankle , `` I suppose this must be where you breed your gigantic mosquitoes '' . Hand her a chair and she would say , `` Why , it's a nice imitation of those Queen Anne chairs I inherited from Grandmother Delancy '' . These trumps were more touching than they were anything else , and seemed to imply that the nights were long , her children ungrateful , and her marriage bewilderingly threadbare . Twenty years ago , she would have been known as a golf widow , and the sum of her manner was perhaps one of bereavement . She usually wore weeds , and a stranger watching her board a train might have guessed that Mr. Pastern was dead , but Mr. Pastern was far from dead . He was marching up and down the locker room of the Grassy Brae Golf Club shouting , `` Bomb Cuba ! ! Bomb Berlin ! ! Let's throw a little nuclear hardware at them and show them who's boss '' . He was brigadier of the club's locker-room light infantry , and at one time or another declared war on Russia , Czechoslovakia , Yugoslavia , and China .

It all began on an autumn afternoon -- and who , after all these centuries , can describe the fineness of an autumn day ? ? One might pretend never to have seen one before , or , to more purpose , that there would never be another like it . The clear and searching sweep of sun on the lawns was like a climax of the year's lights . Leaves were burning somewhere and the smoke smelled , for all its ammoniac acidity , of beginnings . The boundless blue air was stretched over the zenith like the skin of a drum . Leaving her house one late afternoon , Mrs. Pastern stopped to admire the October light . It was the day to canvass for infectious hepatitis . Mrs. Pastern had been given sixteen names , a bundle of literature , and a printed book of receipts . It was her work to go among her neighbors and collect their checks . Her house stood on a rise of ground , and before she got into her car she looked at the houses below . Charity as she knew it was complex and reciprocal , and almost every roof she saw signified charity . Mrs. Balcolm worked for the brain . Mrs. Ten Eyke did mental health . Mrs. Trenchard worked for the blind . Mrs. Horowitz was in charge of diseases of the nose and throat . Mrs. Trempler was tuberculosis , Mrs. Surcliffe was Mothers' March of Dimes , Mrs. Craven was cancer , and Mrs. Gilkson did the kidney . Mrs. Hewlitt led the birthcontrol league , Mrs. Ryerson was arthritis , and way in the distance could be seen the slate roof of Ethel Littleton's house , a roof that signified gout .

Mrs. Pastern undertook the work of going from house to house with the thoughtless resignation of an honest and traditional laborer . It was her destiny ; ; it was her life . Her mother had done it before her , and even her old grandmother , who had collected money for smallpox and unwed mothers . Mrs. Pastern had telephoned most of her neighbors in advance , and most of them were ready for her . She experienced none of the suspense of some poor stranger selling encyclopedias . Here and there she stayed to visit and drink a glass of sherry . The contributions were ahead of what she had got the previous year , and while the money , of course , was not hers , it excited her to stuff her kit with big checks . She stopped at the Surcliffes' after dusk , and had a Scotch-and-soda . She stayed too late , and when she left , it was dark and time to go home and cook supper for her husband . `` I got a hundred and sixty dollars for the hepatitis fund '' , she said excitedly when he walked in . `` I did everybody on my list but the Blevins and the Flannagans . I want to get my kit in tomorrow morning -- would you mind doing them while I cook the dinner '' ? ?

`` But I don't know the Flannagans '' , Charlie Pastern said .

`` Nobody does , but they gave me ten last year '' .

He was tired , he had his business worries , and the sight of his wife arranging pork chops in the broiler only seemed like an extension of a boring day . He was happy enough to take the convertible and race up the hill to the Blevins' , thinking that they might give him a drink . But the Blevins were away ; ; their maid gave him an envelope with a check in it and shut the door . Turning in at the Flannagans' driveway , he tried to remember if he had ever met them . The name encouraged him , because he always felt that he could handle the Irish . There was a glass pane in the front door , and through this he could see into a hallway where a plump woman with red hair was arranging flowers .

`` Infectious hepatitis '' , he shouted heartily .

She took a good look at herself in the mirror before she turned and , walking with very small steps , started toward the door . `` Oh , please come in '' , she said . The girlish voice was nearly a whisper . She was not a girl , he could see . Her hair was dyed , and her bloom was fading , and she must have been crowding forty , but she seemed to be one of those women who cling to the manners and graces of a pretty child of eight . `` Your wife just called '' , she said , separating one word from another , exactly like a child . `` And I am not sure that I have any cash -- any money , that is -- but if you will wait just a minute I will write you out a check if I can find my checkbook . Won't you step into the living room , where it's cozier '' ? ?

A fire had just been lighted , he saw , and things had been set out for drinks , and , like any stray , his response to these comforts was instantaneous . Where was Mr. Flannagan , he wondered . Travelling home on a late train ? ? Changing his clothes upstairs ? ? Taking a shower ? ? At the end of the room there was a desk heaped with papers , and she began to riffle these , making sighs and and noises of girlish exasperation . `` I am terribly sorry to keep you waiting '' , she said , `` but won't you make yourself a little drink while you wait ? ? Everything's on the table '' .

`` What train does Mr. Flannagan come out on '' ? ?

`` Mr. Flannagan is away '' , she said . Her voice dropped . `` Mr. Flannagan has been away for six weeks .

`` I'll have a drink , then , if you'll have one with me '' .

`` If you will promise to make it weak '' .

`` Sit down '' , he said , `` and enjoy your drink and look for your checkbook later . The only way to find things is to relax '' .

All in all , they had six drinks . She described herself and her circumstances unhesitatingly . Mr. Flannagan manufactured plastic tongue depressors . He travelled all over the world . She didn't like to travel . Planes made her feel faint , and in Tokyo , where she had gone that summer , she had been given raw fish for breakfast and so she had come straight home . She and her husband had formerly lived in New York , where she had many friends , but Mr. Flannagan thought the country would be safer in case of war . She would rather live in danger than die of loneliness and boredom . She had no children ; ; she had made no friends . `` I've seen you , though , before '' , she said with enormous coyness , patting his knee . `` I've seen you walking your dogs on Sunday and driving by in the convertible .

The thought of this lonely woman sitting at her window touched him , although he was even more touched by her plumpness . Sheer plumpness , he knew , is not a vital part of the body and has no procreative functions . It serves merely as an excess cushion for the rest of the carcass . And knowing its humble place in the scale of things , why did he , at this time of life , seem almost ready to sell his soul for plumpness ? ? The remarks she made about the sufferings of a lonely woman seemed so broad at first that he didn't know what to make of them , but after the sixth drink he put his arm around her and suggested that they go upstairs and look for her checkbook there .

`` I've never done this before '' , she said later , when he was arranging himself to leave . Her voice shook with feeling , and he thought it lovely . He didn't doubt her truthfulness , although he had heard the words a hundred times . `` I've never done this before '' , they always said , shaking their dresses down over their white shoulders . `` I've never done this before '' , they always said , waiting for the elevator in the hotel corridor . `` I've never done this before '' , they always said , pouring another whiskey . `` I've never done this before '' , they always said , putting on their stockings . On ships at sea , on railroad trains , in summer hotels with mountain views , they always said , `` I've never done this before '' .

`` Where have you been '' ? ? Mrs. Pastern asked sadly , when he came in . `` It's after eleven '' .

`` I had a drink with the Flannagans '' .

`` She told me he was in Germany '' .

`` He came home unexpectedly '' .

Charlie ate some supper in the kitchen and went into the TV room to hear the news . `` Bomb them '' ! ! He shouted . `` Throw a little nuclear hardware at them ! ! Show them who's boss '' ! ! But in bed he had trouble sleeping . He thought first of his son and daughter , away at college . He loved them . It was the only meaning of the word that he had ever known . Then he played nine imaginary holes of golf , choosing his handicap , his irons , his stance , his opponents , and his weather in detail , but the green of the links seemed faded in the light of his business worries . His money was tied up in a Nassau hotel , an Ohio pottery works , and a detergent for window-washing , and luck had been running against him . His worries harried him up out of bed , and he lighted a cigarette and went to the window . In the starlight he could see the trees stripped of their leaves . During the summer he had tried to repair some of his losses at the track , and the bare trees reminded him that his pari-mutuel tickets would still be lying , like leaves , in the gutters near Belmont and Saratoga . Maple and ash , beech and elm , one hundred to win on Three in the fourth , fifty to win on Six in the third , one hundred to win on Two in the eighth . Children walking home from school would scuff through what seemed to be his foliage . Then , getting back into bed , he thought unashamedly of Mrs. Flannagan , planning where they would next meet and what they would do . There are , he thought , so few true means of forgetfulness in this life that why should he shun the medicine even when the medicine seemed , as it did , a little crude ? ?