25 of Dorothy Parker's Best Quotes

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NPR

Had Dorothy Parker been a supercentenarian, she would have been 120 today, and she surely would have had some great observations about life in 2013. As luck would have it, many of her quotes apply to the current state of the world just fine. Here are 25 of our favorites.

On other people:

1. “Their pooled emotions wouldn’t fill a teaspoon.”

2. “You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.”

On beauty:

3. “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”

4. “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.”

On writing:

5. “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

6. "I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money."

7. “I hate writing, I love having written.”

8. “The two most beautiful words in the English language are 'cheque enclosed'.”

(Actually, this quote attributed to Parker is a paraphrase. In 1932, the New York Herald Tribune asked her for a list of the most beautiful words. Dorothy said, “To me, the most beautiful word in the English language is cellar-door. Isn’t it wonderful? The ones I like, though, are 'cheque' and 'enclosed.'")

9. “There's a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words.”

On drinking:

10. “One more drink and I’ll be under the host.”

11. “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

12. When asked if she was going to join Alcoholics Anonymous: “Certainly not. They want me to stop now.”

On money:

13. “Money cannot buy health, but I'd settle for a diamond-studded wheelchair.”

14. “I don't know much about being a millionaire, but I'll bet I'd be darling at it.”

15. When she was offended by the amount of money a producer offered her to write a script: “You can’t take it with you, and even if you did, it would probably melt.”

On love:

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16. “I require three things in a man: he must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid.”

17. “Now I know the things I know, and I do the things I do; and if you do not like me so, to hell, my love, with you!”

18. “Better be left by twenty dears / Than lie in a love-less bed; / Better a loaf that’s wet with tears, / Than cold, unsalted bread.”

19. “Four be the things I'd have been better without: love, curiosity, freckles and doubt.”

20. “It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”

21. “By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying -
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying."

On children:

22. “The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires.”

On death:

23. “Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.”

24. “That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.”

25. “Excuse my dust.” Parker suggested that this be used as an epitaph on her final resting place—and it was.

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August 22, 2013 - 12:39pm
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