Academic journal article The Mailer Review

What Would Be the Fun of That?

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

What Would Be the Fun of That?

Article excerpt

THE FIRST TIME I MET NORRIS was when she accompanied Norman to Harvard for a lecture that he was giving in the spring of 1976. I was a junior at the time. She was only a few years older than I. But she was tall and beautiful, with cream-white skin and red hair that, as Raymond Chandler might have described it, was "like a fire under control but still dangerous." In part because she was with my uncle, in part because she was dressed not like my fellow college students, but in a pretty spring dress and heels, she struck me as a full-fledged adult. By contrast, especially in her presence, I felt tongue-tied, nearly protoplasmic. Which didn't stop me from proudly introducing her and my uncle to my college buddies. I think it safe to say that my connection to her scored me more points with them than my connection to Norman.

Over the years, some of the nervousness and awkwardness I felt around Norris on that first encounter melted away-but not all of it. I was always a little intimidated by her. She was just so damned beautiful and sure of herself and grown up. At the same time she was very much in touch with her inner child. I remember my surprise when I found out that she collected Barbie dolls. I knew there were people who collected them and never even took them out of their boxes so as not to diminish their value. But as Norris pointed out, "What would be the fun of that?"

She loved Christmas with the same kind of kid-like joy. By the time she was finished decorating the tree, I was always surprised that the damn thing was able to stand up under the weight of all the ornaments. …

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