the act of giving a false appearance
I greeted her: “Hello, Dolores” (we had long dropped the
pretense of familial relationship).
present for acceptance or rejection
He had enjoyed his Mexican holiday, and still was unable to
proffer a bit of kindness to the woman who had waited patiently, busying herself with housewifely duties.
relating to or characteristic of or befitting an offspring
I know that the awful accusation struck not so much at my
filial love as at the foundation of my new existence.
dress up garishly and tastelessly
Dolores flitted around the car, screaming like a banshee, her face
bedizened with fury.
lacking grace in movement or posture
I had slid down the seat and slept the night through in an
willingness to respect the beliefs or practices of others
The lack of criticism evidenced by our ad hoc community influenced me, and set a tone of
tolerance for my life.
noble and generous in spirit
With the easy grace characteristic of Mother when she was given a chance to be
magnanimous she agreed.
not neatly combed
I arrived in San Francisco, leaner than usual, fairly
unkempt, and with no luggage.
dullness owing to length or slowness
I often thought of the
tedium of life once one had seen all its surprises.
In two months, I had become
the distinctive spirit of a culture or an era
Neither could do without or do with the other; yet the constrictions of conscience and society, morality and
ethos dictated a separation.
a heavy fabric woven from soft tufted cord
In an almost formal manner I was invited into a room with a clean
chenille-covered bed, an easy chair, a gas fireplace and a table.
fortitude and determination
In fact, she’d be pleased to think that I had that much
gumption, that much of her in my character.
a vast multitude
The world was moving so fast, so much money was being made, so many people were dying in Guam, and Germany, that
hordes of strangers became good friends overnight.
a feeling of righteous anger
From disappointment, I gradually ascended the emotional ladder to haughty
indignation, and finally to that state of stubbornness where the mind is locked like the jaws of an enraged bulldog.
brief and to the point
Mother gave me her support with one of her usual
terse asides, “That’s what you want to do?
having or showing arrogant superiority to
While I spoke in
supercilious accents, and looked at the room as if I had an oil well in my own backyard, my armpits were being pricked by millions of hot pointed needles.
impressive in appearance
Old buildings, whose gray rococo facades housed my memories of the Forty-Niners, and Diamond Lil, Robert Service, Sutter and Jack London, were then
imposing structures viciously joined to keep me out.
a short pithy instructive saying
She had a store of
aphorisms which she dished out as the occasion demanded.
from appearances alone
I only knew that one day, which was tiresomely like all the others before it, I sat in the Railway office,
ostensibly waiting to be interviewed.
extremely impressive in strength or excellence
The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a
formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence.
a small and inadequate amount
I believe most plain girls are virtuous because of the
scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.
a general feeling of discomfort, uneasiness, or depression
One evening as I walked up the hill suffering from youth’s vague
malaise (there was simply nothing to do), the brother I had chosen came walking directly into my trap.
The little pleasure I was able to take from the fact that if I could have a baby I obviously wasn’t a lesbian was crowded into my mind’s tiniest corner by the massive pushing in of fear, guilt and self-
deserving or inciting pity
For eons, it seemed, I had accepted my plight as the
hapless, put-upon victim of fate and the Furies, but this time I had to face the fact that I had brought my new catastrophe upon myself.