“Ivy Club”

“The one interview that stuck in Skylar’s mind for many years took place at Ivy Club. Mr. Oswald Crocker Astor III ought, on first appearance, Skylar reasoned, to have been immediately soaked in formaldehyde and placed in a glass container by a biologist eager to preserve a creaturely specimen long considered extinct. At a time in American history when even a typical conservative Princetonian wore his hair at ear level and grew a mustache, Mr. Astor imitated the less-is-better look of Hugh Beaumont as Ward Cleaver in Leave it to Beaver. In an era of massive war protests and an ecstatic renaissance of rock and roll music, when most male undergraduates pulled on a sweater if they wished to dress up, Oswald donned an expansive black bow tie, rust and navy-blue checked sport coat, tailored wool trousers, and wing tips. He studied chemical engineering and expected to succeed his father as the Chief Executive Officer of Astor Pharmaceuticals (the largest privately held drug company in the United States) at an opportune time. The atmosphere of Ivy Club partook of only one place Skylar had ever encountered (and that solely in his imagination): the aristocratic men’s clubs of Pall Mall in 19th century England. Everyone the Ohioan met struck him as a cardboard cutout for a 1920’s men’s shirt advertisement. A permanent hush seemed to have settled on the place, as if it had been a library. Members greeted one another with old-world courtesy and formality. The furnishings consisted of splendid antiques, all chosen with an eye to rejecting ostentation in favor of subtle refinement. The sofas and armchairs were claret colored and black; the artwork on the walls portrayed hunters and foxes; tables and bookcases were of polished mahogany and the carpets, somber, thick, and woolen. A black butler escorted Skylar into the library for his interview with Mr. Astor. That gentleman looked Skylar over carefully as they shook hands, almost as if he were applying for the position of son-in-law. He considerately and politely asked if it would bother Skylar terribly if he continued to smoke his pipe (it would not) and they both sat down. Despite believing that he possessed some minor talent as a dramatic artist, the performance now demanded of Skylar greatly challenged him. He was a true son of the middle class but had to pretend to belong here, with the social aristocracy. He considered himself a democrat but needed to appear as an aristocrat. He had grown up wearing Thrift Shop hand-me-down shirts that cost a quarter apiece but was suddenly forced to seem comfortable hobnobbing with the sons of multi-millionaires.”

Richard Maddox

Richard Dietrich Maddox's writing focuses on the search for permanent happiness, the goal of finding paradise on earth, the attainment of human Enlightenment. His work, though fiction, attempts to convey the profound spiritual Truth passed on to humanity by Enlightened Masters. Maddox approaches spiritual wisdom from a Western level of experience, presenting characters to whom readers can easily relate, offering situations in which readers might well have found themselves. His work offers, in a style which those living in the West will find understandable, the possibility of blissful existence.

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