Success has its price. The Working Lush, like other artists, is a lonely man. The isolation is the more painful for W.L. because, unlike other artists, he is seldom alone.His problem is that in the crowds around him there is noone he can confide in, noone he can trust (least trustworthy of all are his fellow Working Lushes, for, if they are successful men, be sure that they are cunning and without loyalty of any kind.)
The isolation begins in the morning, in the home. W.L. awakes alone and muddled. His craft deprives him of the most primitive of solace, that knowledge of personal history called memory. (It will be noon or later before he can recall what he did the Night Before.) This is not entirely a debit. What he did the Night before was probably embarrassing and best forgotten. Thus, W.L. taps some sustenance from his very bewilderment. He says to himself (and only to himself, no-one being trusted with this information), "I'm a Lush." So saying, he goes forth to pursue his art afresh. In the ordinary run of circumstances, his first contact is with his wife.
Working Lush examines his wife swiftly before saying so much as good morning. Prolonged scrutiny is rude and lends an ox-like quality to the hungover man, so W.L. looks quickly for two things: (1) is she talking? (2) is she talking only to the children? if the answers are in sequence "No" and "Yes," he makes a comment bespeaking absolute personal organization, as: "Conway has asked me to test-fire his new rifle at Abercrombie & Fitch at three-twenty-five this afternoon." If the reply is "I hope you blow your head off," then W.L. knows that whatever it was he did the Night Before, it has provoked no more than ordinary rancor. If, however, she turns on him, snarling, to say, "There is no Conway. He is a fiction you have created to explain torn garments, bruised flesh, and prolonged absences from home," then W.L. knows he was Pretty Bad last night. That memory will serve up, all morning, short takes of monstrous idiocy, starring himself.
In any event, W.L. avoids a clash with his wife the first thing in the morning. It is a lousy way to start the day, and he doesn't have a chance in the world of winning any argument. He has no idea what he did or said six hours earlier and cannot defend himself.
A final word regarding his wife. W.L. reflects from time to time on the hapless life his wife is leading--interpreting his mumbling, apologizing to practically everyone sooner or later, undressing him, etc.--and he has spells of compelling fondness, inspired by her profound loyalty to him. He also contemplates, with a glow like love, the strength there must be in that small body to carry him off to bed on occasion. When he thinks of these things, W.L. has a desire to unburden himself, to speak the magic sentence aloud: "I am an alcoholic."
He does not. For she will nod, and smile, and file that sentence away, and bludgeon him absolutely to death with it on an occasion of her choosing--Christmas Eve, perhaps, or the day following the Company Picnic. W.L. keeps his counsel. Lushing is a solitary craft, but it has its rewards.