A big shy fellow from Spokane

Today is our patron saint Walker Percy’s birthday, born on this date in 1916 (died May 10, 1990).

A few days ago, Quin brought up Percy’s mention of Mt. St. Helens in The Thanatos Syndrome. Well, here’s another Pacific Northwest reference, from The Moviegoer this time. The scene is a meeting of stock brokers in Chicago, where Binx and Kate have traveled by train, confronting the failure of flesh poor flesh en route and the Genie Soul of the Windy City. It seems to me Binx’s irony softens quite a bit here and his sentiments towards Stanley Kinchen of Spokane are really quite sincere:

The delegates are very decent fellows. I find myself talking to half a dozen young men from the West Coast and liking them very much–one in particular, a big shy fellow from Spokane named Stanley Kinchen, and his wife, a fine looking woman, yellow-haired and bigger than Sharon, lips curling like a rose petal, head thrown back like a queen and a tremendous sparkle in the eye. What good people they are. It is not at all bad being a businessman. There is a spirit of trust and cooperation here. Everyone jokes about such things, but if businessmen were not trusting of each other and could not set their great projects going on credit, the country would collapse tomorrow and be no better off than Saudi Arabia. It strikes me that Stanley Kinchen would actually do anything for me. I know I would for him. I introduce Kate as my fiancee and she pulls down her mouth. I can’t tell whether it is me she is disgusted with or my business colleagues. But these fellows: so friendly and–? What, dejected? I can’t be sure.

Kinchen asks me if I am going to be in the Cracker Barrel. He is nervous: it seems he is program chairman and someone defected on him. He takes me aside.

“Would you do me a favor? Would you kick off with a ten minute talk on Selling Aids?”


We shake hands and part good comrades.

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