A Man Is an Island
Vag had thought that he was alone, but when he looked up he noticed that a girl had drawn near him. Summer School type, he mused. Ever seeking the eternal adventure, they, like the girl blocking his view, had come to bother him.
But he would protect himself, as he had always done when Radcliffe freshmen, wild with prep school passion, stormed his sports car to win his favor. Ever haughty, ever proud, Vag had constructed a wall between the world and himself. All that was inane, boorish, and crude was forever shut off from him.
But summer school types presented a problem with which Vag had never before been confronted. Like the girl he had met at the dance, the one who claimed she was schizophrenic. "Half the time I'm involved with myself; the rest of the time I am involved with my environment. What should I do?"
How could one deal with such people? Vag was indeed perplexed, especially when the rational world he lived in was threatened by a direct attack.
When he had decided last spring term to stay on in Cambridge for the summer, rather than motor to Mexico with his mother, Vag did not realize the import of his choice. Now he was in the middle of a world he could not come to terms with--a world far distant from the sedate evenings spent with a cribbage board that sparked his proper life.
Conversation, an exact art cultivated behind the somber oak doors of his club, reached grotesque proportions when it moved outdoors to the punch bowl, or shade tree, or Wigglesworth steps. Restraint, always a gentleman's religion, had given way to a type of familiarity which Vag thought rude and unpleasant. Grossly unpleasant.
So, confined by his own choosing in a world where all taste was poor taste, Vag naturally felt sullen. To belong in such an environment would require too much of a sacrifice. The inhibited perspective cultivated since school days was too ingrained to be surmounted. And the healthy pre-occupations which he too often witnessed down by the Charles violated the precious ethic of this well-mannered man.
Vag relit his pipe and turned slightly. He could see the Yard now, and what an unpleasant sight it was. Beneath him a couple appeared to be conducting some sort of pagan rite which struck Vag as being obviously suggestive.
Grimacing, he turned around and saw that the girl was still hovering near. Why should she take such an interest in him, when they clearly had so little in common? He, to be sure, was interested in her, but only in the same way his father, since youth an avid ornithologist, would be interested in the machinations of the oven bird.
Still he continued to stare--very rude, he reminded himself--at this girl. Young, buxom, obviously in perfect physical condition, soft-spoken (he extrapolated on this point), but with ankles a bit too thick and hands a bit too strong.
She certainly was not a Radcliffe girl, at least not like any he knew. And this realization, for Vag, closed off any further thoughts about her. Youth's folly was one thing, he told himself, but a gentleman would never make a sacrifice for that.