This lovely paragraph brings to mind the opening paragraph of “On Learning To Talk,” a commencement address Gass gave in 1979: “ Dinner, let us imagine, has reached its second wine. We are exchanging pleasantries: gossip, tittle-tattle, perilously keen remarks. Like a fine sauce, they pique the mind. They pass the time. A thought is peeled and placed upon a plate. A nearby lady lends us a small smile, and there are glances brilliant as the silver. Patiently we listen while another talks, because everyone, our etiquette instructs, must have his chance to speak. We wait. We draw upon the cloth with unused knives. Our goblets turn as slowly as the world.