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Quick Thinking

  • The memo's chief function ... is as a track-coverer, so that you can turn on someone six months later and snarl: 'Well, you should have known about it, I sent you a memo.'

  • [To a woman whose cellphone rang during a formal meeting:] You'd better answer that. It could be someone important.

  • [Refusing to name her dinner guests to a police interrogator who said 'But, madame, I should think a woman like you would remember her dinner guests:] Yes, Monsieur, but with a man like you I am not a woman like me.

  • The keen spirit / Seizes the prompt occasion, makes the thought / Start into instant action, and at once / Plans and performs, resolves and executes!

  • Sylvia was forever running into lawyers who greeted her familiarly and whom she couldn't recall having laid eyes on before. She took to calling them 'there,' as in 'hi, there.'

  • Improvisation can be either a last resort or an established way of evoking creativity.

  • [To the maid who dropped the turkey on the floor at a White House dinner:] Never mind, Mary. Just take this turkey back to the kitchen and bring in the other one.

  • It is the quick thinkers who become leaders. He who hesitates is bossed.

  • Another good way to learn how to think fast on your feet is to be a pedestrian.

  • [Feeling a friendly pat on the shoulder and turning around to realize it was King Edward:] Oh, Sir! Am I wounded or knighted?

    • Lady Londonderry,
    • in Mrs. Stuart Menzies, Recollections and Reflections by a Woman of No Importance ()
  • [After Alabama decided not to renew midwife licenses:] I don't need a permit to deliver no babies. ... I know they cain't stop a daddy from deliverin his own baby. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if I was asked to he'p a daddy.

    • Onnie Lee Logan,
    • with Katherine Clark, Motherwit: An Alabama Midwife's Story ()
  • [To the woman in the next restroom stall who had no toilet tissue either:] Well, then, dahling, do you have two fives for a ten?

  • [To the man who came up to her at a party and exclaimed effusively, 'Tallulah! I haven't seen you for 41 years!':] I thought I told you to wait in the car.

  • Older boys often asked me to teach them 'some bad words in your language.' At first I politely refused. My refusal merely increased their determination, so I solved the problem by teaching them phrases like 'man kharam' which means 'I'm an idiot.' I told them that what I was teaching them was so nasty that they would have to promise never to repeat it to anyone. They would then spend all of recess running around yelling 'I'm an idiot! I'm an idiot!.' I never told them the truth. I figured someday, somebody would.

  • [To her assistant, after Mrs. Peabody, a movie studio executive's wife, personally delivered a dinner invitation and then left Dorothy's office:] After a decent interval, write a note to those illiterate, phony bores that I can't make their damned party ... [Mrs. Peabody re-entered the office] ... because I'm dining that evening with the Peabody's.

    • Dorothy Parker,
    • in Edward Gross, Embarrassment in Everyday Life ()
  • [To a woman who congratulated Ilka Chase on her biography, Past Imperfect, saying 'I enjoyed it! Who wrote it?']: Darling! I'm so glad you liked it. Who read it to you?

    • Ilka Chase,
    • in Walter Winchell, syndicated column ()