Polly knew you were meant to listen to music purely as music and not have it remind you of other things, but the melody—austere and rather mournful—made her think about herself, about her present sadness, her fear that her life would never be innocent again, and about Lincoln, who was an artist, too. As for the others in the Solo-Miller party, with the exception of Henry, Jr., who looked slightly moronic, and Henry Demarest, who was a plain, old-fashioned music-appreciator, the look of the higher mind was all over then. Beate seemed absolutely elevated. Music to them was philosophy, mathematics. They liked to be challenged by brain food of a very sublime order. And best of all was criticizing the performance at dinner. Wendy adored a bad performance, especially of anything written for the flute, an instrument she loathed. A bad flute player was all her joy: “So breathy and spitty,” she liked to say.
Laurie Colwin, Family Happiness.