I am always amazed

“He remembered quite clear the cool sure-handed motion with which she had guided him from the surf, The lightest of touches, a gesture almost, but she had put all her strength behind it. For a few seconds. For a few seconds she had supported him. Curious. Indicative of what? Trust. Confidence. An Insolent assurance, an unthinking self-superiority that was wonderful to see. A nun.”

Thinking of her made him laugh. In his solitary laughter there was admiration, contempt and jealousy.

It was very beguiling, that female arrogance. There were women who would not refrain in their dealings with men from intimidating that it was they who were more at home in the world. Who could not forbear, all unprovoked, to run up their mythic pennants. Instrument of Birth. Shroud Weaver. Bent never Broken. It became very primitive very special. Talking some commonplace like genocide or the weather they performed a hula, a series of madras. Your eyes are hot and deluded, the signaled, ours are clear. We have suffered your rantings, your violence, your febrile illusions and endured. We can look on all things the same, we can imagine serenity. Grow up, they said.”

In Germany, he had once smoked opium with a young Sargent of the airborne troops who had described himself as a winner. “if you oppose me,” the young Sargent had explained, “I will win. You will lose”
Every time, the Sargent had explained. Because “the compulsion to lose was universal and only a handful of people could overcome it.”

So I punched him in the neck.. thinking he would shut up… or something but he just smiled back at me like I knew what I was talking about.