“You Americans are so sentimental. Maybe that’s why you think you should rule the world.” – Picasso to Lord

“How dare you bring that whore to my house?”

Stunned, I stepped backward and muttered some phrase to the effect of not understanding.

At this Picasso leapt to his feet, overturning behind him the chair on which he’d been seated, and shouted, “That whore Cocteau. He never would have dared to come by himself, so he used you. When I think I’ve treated you like a son, and you do this to me. It’s intolerable. I told Françoise you’d fail the test.”

“How could I know?” I stammered. “It was you who told me to go and see him. He was a witness at your wedding. You’ve known each other for forty-five years.”

“That buffoon,” said Picasso, “that perfidious arriviste, that vampire. How many young men do you think he’s destroyed? Maybe you’re one of them. Has he been fucking you?”

“No, he hasn’t,” I said. “And he’s never tried to.”

“Amazing,” murmured Picasso. “Opium then, I suppose.”

“Not at all.”

“Well, I can imagine he was pretty enraged by the gift I found for him, wasn’t he?”

“He didn’t say so. He didn’t mention it at all.”

“Ungrateful slut!” Picasso exclaimed, picking up his chair and sitting down again at the kitchen table. For some time he sat there in silence, staring at nothing, and it was as if he had ceased to be aware of my presence.

Feeling that it was time to leave, I said, “I’m sorry. I only wanted to please everyone. If it turned out badly, I’m sorry.”

“Oh, don’t burst into tears,” Picasso said calmly. “Here. Come and sit down. Have a glass of wine. You Americans are so sentimental. Maybe that’s why you think you should rule the world.”

I didn’t answer. The two of us sat together quietly for a few minutes, and then the voices of Françoise and the children came from outside. Picasso put his hand over mine. “Don’t despair,” he said. “What I told you about Cocteau is the truth. You’ll find out. But he has a song. If you find the music pleasing for a while, all right. I like it myself sometimes. Now I must go and put some teats onto my goat. Come back soon.” Then he was gone.

– James Lord, Some Remarkable Men: Further Memoirs, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 1996, pp. 111-112