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Feature/Culture Writing

In addition to her book chapters on culture, Dr. Cauwels has written features, reviews, and letters on literature and history.

Reviews and Articles

• Features in Focal Point, Silver Scene, Woman's World
• Book reviews in New Directions for Women

A book review in New Directions for Women

Book Chapters

• "Stereotype vs. Superwoman: The Social Context of Bulimia" in Bulimia
• "The Social Smorgasbord" in Imbroglio
  (An excerpt appears on the Imbroglio page.)

The New York Times

• "The Old-Fashioned Way"
• Nine letters to the editor
• Several anecdotes in "Metropolitan Diary" and elsewhere

The Record

• One ghosted letter on Taiwanese baseball

"The Old-Fashioned Way," New York Times, December 12, 1999

Many years ago, certain things were worse, of course, but for that reason sometimes other things were better.

Back then my father owned a large tavern-restaurant in Paramus, NJ. Early one morning his bartender, Smitty, was preparing to open when he heard a brisk knocking at the front door. Looking out a window, he saw a cab idling in the parking lot with a male passenger inside staring back at him. Another man, equally well-dressed, stood at the tavern door. Smitty went and opened it.

“Good morning,” the man said. “Sorry to bother you, but can we come in for some drinks?”

“We don’t open till ten,” Smitty replied.

“Please,” the man said. “We’ve tried every place between here and Ridgewood. We’d really appreciate it.”

Smitty studied him for a moment, then shrugged. “Well, if you don’t mind me cleaning up,” he said.

The man shook his head and beckoned to his companion, who paid the driver and followed him inside. The first man nodded toward the dining room. “Mind if we sit back there?” he asked.

“Go ahead,” Smitty said. “What can I get you?”

“A fresh bottle of Scotch and a pitcher of ice,” the man replied.

When Smitty arrived with the tray, the two had removed their ties and jackets and seated themselves at a table in a far corner. They paid for the liquor and added a generous tip.

“Now,” the first man said. “We’ll probably be here all day, and we’re going to get very drunk. We don’t need anything except refills. But if we start to get too loud or obnoxious, please let us know.”

They sat drinking while Smitty cleaned around them. The tavern opened, and they kept drinking. They drank through lunch and all afternoon. When Smitty replaced their bottle, they paid and told him to keep the change. A few times their conversation became raucous, but when Smitty asked them to quiet down, they apologized and complied immediately.

As dinnertime approached, the first man waved Smitty over. “Could you please call us a cab?” he slurred.

When Smitty returned to tell them the cab had arrived, they staggered to their feet, picked up their ties and jackets, shook hands, and thanked him.

“Look, it’s none of my business,” Smitty said, “but I was wondering—what was all this about?”

The two men exchanged rueful smiles. “We’re doctors at Valley Hospital,” the first one said. “Last night each of us lost a patient.”

He patted Smitty’s shoulder as they shuffled by.

“So long,” they said.

Copyright ©1999 by The New York Times Company. Reprinted by permission.

Letters to the Editor of the New York Times

"Make It Edwardian," May 9, 1999

Both David Mamet and your writer refer repeatedly to The Winslow Boy, a play (and now a film by Mr. Mamet) set “in London just before World War I,” as typically “Victorian” [“A Well-Mannered Mamet Retells a Victorian Tale,” April 25]. Judging from the photo, the costume designer at least knows better.

Crowned in 1837, Queen Victoria died in 1901 and was succeeded by Edward VII, who ruled until 1910. The Edwardian period ended with the accession of George V, under whose rule Britain entered the war in 1914.

Untitled letter under "Willy Loman on Ritalin?" March 7, 1999

Having once published an analysis suggesting that two characters in Charles Dickens’ novel Little Dorrit exhibit borderline personality disorder, I read your Feb. 28 Week in Review article with interest.

Psychiatric diagnoses applied to dramatic or fictional characters may simply make them more believable to us, which is particularly helpful with respect to Dickens’ women. I demonstrated that it may be incorrect to describe borderline personality disorder as a particularly modern illness grounded in current social conditions. A hallmark of the disorder—tormenting uncertainty about personal identify—was at least equally influential when it resulted from illegitimacy in Victorian times.

"Truth in Language," October 5, 1998

A letter’s comparison of President Clinton’s legal defense to the textual criticism of a John Donne sonnet dramatized in the play Wit misses the point [“Grammar is Everything,” Oct. 2].

Textual criticism reconstructs as accurately as possible what an author actually wrote in order to interpret correctly his or her intended meaning. Although usage continually evolves, incorrect punctuation could distort this “truth” as dramatically in the 17th century as it can today.

Analysis of the niceties of “ordinary” grammar and punctuation honors the subtle flexibility that contributes to the power and beauty of language. To equate this process with its politicization or other abuse is misguided.


More feature writing appears on the Corporate Communications page, first-person narratives on the Miscellany page, letters on the Corporate Communications and Entertainment pages, and writing about textual criticism on the Academia page. Or return to the Top.