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Kiss And Tell: Alain De Botton

1170 words - 5 pages

The prose piece, Kiss and Tell by Alain de Botton, offers the reader a humorous, as well as embarrassing, glimpse into the life of a young woman named Isabel. Botton establishes a comical ambiance between the daughter and her parents, by creating a situation that many can relate to, by way of dialogue. Isabel faces an embarrassing, as well as common, circumstance, the presence of her parents when she desires it the least. When she first notices that her parents are attending the same show that she and her new boyfriend are she begins to commentate on their current state, her attention to detail is what one finds amusing. In line five and six Isabel is quoted: "...And what's that dress? It looks like a willow tree..." Botton uses an effective simile here to convey the daughter's embarrassment in a comedic way by relating her dress to a completely different entity. When referring to her father, Isabel remarks "...And he's about to sneeze. Look, there we go, aaahhtchooo. Out comes his red handkerchief. I just hope they don't stop us and we can escape quickly at the end." One might find this particularly amusing considering the girl goes from narrating her father's actions, and without missing a beat, jars right back to planning her and her consort's furtive escape. The onomatopoeia used in the quotation helps add to the imagery that the extract inspires, not only does one gather a mental visual, but an audible one as well. Isabel's words set the stage for the rest of the piece, which increases in its comedic daring as it progresses. The parents' reactions upon finding their daughter seated behind them reflect those that a child might make when meeting a long absent friend. Her father stands up, ignores that fact that an elegantly clad and refined audience surrounds him, and begins to wave energetically at his daughter; the text describes his motions as that "of a man waving off a departing cruise ship". Isabel's mother, when informed of her presence, begins to yell out her name in attempt to rouse her attention in "the presence of four-hundred people". Isabel's mortified response to her beau is "I can't believe this, please let them shut up." These responses of adults is comedic due to the fact that they are unexpected, for Isabel one cannot imagine how humiliating the experience must have been, especially in front of a new boyfriend, but he reader can find humor in the situation because it is not happening to them. At intermission, Isabel and her boyfriend, on the parents' instruction, met them at the bar; at this point, the prose piece became audacious with its conveyance of humor. The mother, while commenting on her daughter's dress said, "Oh, well, it's very nice, pity you don't have more of a cleavage for it, but that's your father's fault. You know what all the women in his family are like." One would expect a conversation such as this to be spoken in private and between only two people, not in a crowded playhouse...

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