Then Why Do I Thrill?

If this isn’t love, well what is it?

I don’t know, Babe.

Don’t give me that. And don’t Babe me when you’ve just said you don’t love me.

That’s not what I said. I said I don’t know.

What, you don’t know if you love me? That’s not what you’ve been saying for the last six months.

A glass shatters against the wall and she screams and covers her face with her hands, cringing.

Shit he says. See what you made me do?

He sits down in a deep armchair. Sit down, he tells her.

No she says.

Sit fucking down.

She cries a little in desperation, but sits in the armchair opposite him.

They are both silent. He looks at the ceiling as though looking for inspiration. Goddammit, he says.

She looks at him. She has never seen him like this. She is afraid of him, for the first time. And the last, she decides. She’s not going to put up with this nonsense.

There is a long silence, broken only by her muted sobbing and by his hand beating time to the unheard song on the right arm of the armchair. He stares around the room as though he has never seen it before.

From the street outside they can hear the throb of traffic, which only seems to accentuate the silence between them. Her head is down, looking at her hands in her lap, clutching a handkerchief now. He clears his throat, but says nothing.

Eventually, after perhaps three minutes which seem to her like half a lifetime, he tells her he is sorry.


If I didn't care, honey child, more than words can say

Would I feel this way?


Don’t call me honey child, she says, speaking very quietly.

You used to like it.

Well I don’t now. You sound like a negro from the deep south.

You can’t say that.

I just did, she says, her head up now, glaring at him and speaking loudly, almost shouting at him.

He nearly laughs, but manages to keep it in. You still can’t say that. Now his eyes are down, looking at the legs of his trousers.

Anyway, I didn’t say it, they did.

Who?

The Inkpots.

Who?

The Inkpots.

She smiles. Try Inkspots, she says.

Does it matter? The guys that sing that song. That darky mob. Donkey’s years ago.

Why are you going on about them, for Christ’s sake?

What’s he got to do with it?

You know what I mean.

There is silence again.

The door opens, and her brother comes in. He looks at the scene and freezes. What’s going on? He asks, looking from one to the other of them.

She doesn’t look at him. Piss off, Gerry, she says quietly.

Gerald is still holding the door knob, uncertain what to do.

Do you, you know… are you all right?

Yes, she tells him. Go away.

Gerald stands there, looking from one to the other. Lover’s tiff? he ventures.

He gets no answer, but he draws away anyway and slowly closes the door. Then opens it again, just pokes his head in. If I can do anything, give me a yell, okay?

You can’t, they tell him in unison. Okay, he says. Okay. The door closes quietly.

The couple resume their silence, but they are both tiring of the argument. She gets out her phone and looks at the screen. He teases a loose thread at the edge of the right arm of the armchair, looking as though he is concentrated on an important task.

She sighs quietly.

Look, she says after a minute or so. What are we doing this for?

He stares at her in amazement. Because you just said you didn’t know if this was love. That’s exactly what you bloody said.

Don’t swear please. There’s no need for that.

I’ll swear if I bloody want to. If ever there was a time for swearing, this is it.

Don’t be silly. Please.

Well, don’t say you don’t love me.

She doesn’t answer. Then, very quietly: I didn’t.

You did.

I didn’t.

Well, you pretty much did. You said you didn’t know if this was love. What else could that mean?

Another pause as he looks at her intently, waiting.

It could mean simply that I’m not absolutely sure. At this moment, that is. Not absolutely sure at this moment.

He sits back with a look of horror on his face. Oh, shit.

She watches as his face pales.

You don’t mean there’s someone else, do you?

For goodness sake! Of course there’s not.

He stares at her, and gradually relaxes as though a danger has passed. Well, that’s something, anyway. He sits back into his chair. He gazes at the ceiling. Then suddenly leans forward. So what’s this all about, then?

You being silly, I think.

Oh yes, it’s always me, isn’t it?

Well frankly, yes it is. Not always, but more often than not.

He stares at her. Is that really what you think of me? Really and truly? D’you think I’m just silly?

Not silly, no. Just behaving in a silly way, quite often. There’s a big difference.

He stands, stikes a self-conscious pose and sings:


If I didn't care more than words can say

If I didn't care, would I feel this way?

If this isn't love then why do I thrill?

And what makes my head go 'round and 'round

While my heart stands still?


His vice wavers a little, but she smiles and he continues, singing more strongly:


If I didn't care, would it be the same?

Would my every prayer begin and end with just your name?

And would I be sure that this is love beyond compare?

Would all this be true if I didn't care for you?


He pauses, and when he starts again he is speaking slowly, rather than singing.


If I didn't care

Honey child, more than words can say

If I didn't care

Would I feel this way?

Darlin' if this isn't love

Then why do I thrill so much?


He kneels before her, takes her hand and sings again:

If I didn't care would it be the same?

Would my every prayer begin and end with just your name?

And would I be sure that this is love beyond compare?

Would all this be true if I didn't care for you?


Lyrics: Jack Lawrence - Recording: The Inkspots, 1939