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  • Being with him was like being in a crowded elevator, stuck between floors.

  • ... he was a man whose absence was usually preferable to his presence.

  • It is easier to study the 'behavior' of rats than people, because rats are smaller and have fewer outside commitments. So modern psychology is mostly about rats

  • Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds ...

  • Mr. Jesmond made a peculiar noise rather like a hen who has decided to lay an egg and then thought better of it.

  • ... Holly conducted herself like a bird of paradise that had flown through the window of a house in Des Moines and settled down; she explained very little.

  • He ... raised his hand when he saw me with the dignified gesture of a patriarch greeting the appearance of an expected sign.

  • Claudia's the sort of person who goes through life holding on to the sides.

  • Mrs. Gollie came into Luke's office as if she was hastening to the scene of some terrible personal disaster, or perhaps merely going on the stage.

  • ... to be with her was like living in a room with shuttered windows.

  • 'Ah,' said Mrs. Peniston, shutting her lips with the snap of a purse closing against a beggar.

  • Her incessant movements were not the result of shyness: she thought it the correct thing to be animated in society, and noise and restlessness were her only notion of vivacity.

  • The gardener was one of those who are never surprised without being thunderstruck. He was very thorough in habit, and drank every emotion to its dregs.

  • ... he received insults with a glow most people reserved for compliments.

  • 'Nan is thirty-three.' 'A dangerous age.' 'All Nan's ages have been dangerous. Nan is like that.'

  • Everything was 'just a phase' to Ben. I didn't think he even viewed death as a major setback, just another phase. Just once I would have liked to have seen Ben work himself into a state of hysteria.

  • Mrs. Adams mentioned a great many English ways and customs — which was clever of her, for she had never been in England — more, positively, than I thought there were.

  • ... he had all the charm of a turtle and was as amusing as a traffic accident.

  • She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper.

  • Mrs. Bennett was restored to her usual querulous serenity ...

  • He gazed on her thoughtfully, like a cook who has been brought an unfamiliar kind of game and wonders if she ought to prepare it like quail or like plover.

  • After careful observation, Gilbert concluded that it is more effective socially to be tall and barely civil than short and eagerly sociable. This did not affect his height, but it taught him when to shut up.

  • Perhaps the greatest rudenesses of our time come not from the callousness of strangers, but from the solicitousness of intimates who believe that their frank criticisms are always welcome, and who feel free to 'be themselves' with those they love, which turns out to mean being their worst selves, while saving their best behavior for strangers.

  • If only life were one long crisis, everyone would be perfect.

  • 'Be yourself' is good advice, unless you notice that people are always excusing themselves and moving away from you. In that case, try being someone else!

  • 'Certainly.' He beamed uncertainly. 'Certainly.'

  • Private behavior in public is now the norm.

  • Trying to act normal is the most unnatural behavior of all.

  • Behavior is the currency of human transaction. Whether by purpose or by chance, most often our actions affect others and theirs affect us. Behavior, then, is a matter of social concern.

  • When you see persons slip down on the ice, do not laugh at them. ... It is more feminine on witnessing such a sight, to utter an involuntary scream than a shout of laughter.

  • Some people say he bounds about like a gazelle to prove his knees aren't stiff yet, but I think that's unfair. I think he was told it was gay and attractive and believed it.

  • None of the three great apes is considered ancestral to modern man, Homo sapiens, but they remain the only other type of extant primate with which human beings share such close physical characteristics. From them we may learn much concerning the behavior of our earliest primate prototypes, because behavior, unlike bones, teeth, or tools, does not fossilize.

  • In the short distance between the two houses he had somehow managed to acquire the ragged, spent look of a man who had crossed a continent on horseback.