Thursday, September 15, 2011

Don’t Quote Me on That

By Dorothy Parker of the Algonquin Round Table Mysteries, by J.J. Murphy

My friend, the clever playwright George S. Kaufman, once declared: “Everything I've ever said will be credited to Dorothy Parker. Well, that’s my blessing and my curse. There are a lot of clever sayings that people have said I said but I never said. Allow me to right (and write) a few of these wrongs.

• “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – I never said this, and I don’t believe it either. The cure for boredom isn’t curiosity; the cure for boredom is a cocktail (or two, or three if you're really bored.)

“I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” – No, I never said this. I certainly agree with it, of course, but I never did say it. Then again, there have been times when I’ve had a bottle in front of me and I felt like I had a frontal lobotomy.

“If you want to know what the Lord God thinks of money, just look at the people he gives it to.” I did say this, but I was quoting someone else. Of course, I do wish I had been the first to say it because it rings as true as a church bell.

"You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think." – All right, I did say this one, too. But someone put me up to it. We were sitting around the Algonquin Round Table and someone asked me to use the word “horticulture” in a sentence. Taken out of context, it sounds like I’m simply being coarse. Taken in context, of course I’m being coarse.

“A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.” Many people say I’ve never met a four-letter word I didn’t like. That’s not true—I can think of many four-letter words I dislike. WORK is one of them. DEBT is another. Can you imagine—a clever, genteel little lady like me using foul language? No, sir, I’m not a fan of profanity. Swear words are the hallmark of lazy-minded a**holes.

• “I love a martini, but two at the most. Three, I’m under the table. Four, I’m under the host.” – Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t love martinis. I’ll happily accept one, but martinis and I are hardly on friendly terms. Give me scotch any day (or any night). To that end, what I actually said was, “One more drink and I'd have been under the host.”

Speaking of my host, I’d like to point out that today is the birthday of my dear friend Robert Benchley. You know him. He was the one who said, “Why don't you get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?”

At least I think that’s what he said. I was busy getting out of my wet clothes.

Dorothy Parker appears in MURDER YOUR DARLINGS: An Algonquin Round Table Mystery, available now. She and her cohorts return in YOU MIGHT AS WELL DIE, available in December 2011. She also appears in the short story HAIR OF THE DOG: An Algonquin Round Table mini-Mystery, available on Kindle and Nook.


  1. Dorothy, you are hysterical! Come down to Key West and I'll buy you a margarita:) Love, Hayley Snow

  2. Well, you certainly cleared that up, Ms. Parker. Don't you hate being misquoted?? ;-)

  3. Glad I wasn't drinking coffee when I read this, Dorothy!

    Keep talking. You've had us eating out of your hand for many years.

  4. I love these quotes, even if you didn't say all of them!

  5. Lucy, I get a nosebleed if I go above 81st Street in Manhattan, so I have no idea what may happen if I travel all the way down to sunny Florida. But thanks for the offer.

    Victoria, the only instance in which I really care about being misquoted is the amount of my writer's fee. No mistakes on my paychecks, please!

    Mary Jane, if you weren't drinking coffee, what were you drinking?

    Dorothy, you're a woman after my own heart--and my own name!