My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 4, 1941: WASHINGTON, Friday—Last night Miss LeHand and I found ourselves at dinner surrounded by gentlemen. I couldn't help remarking how really unimportant it is to have our tables so carefully balanced as to an even number of ladies and gentlemen. We were certainly not evenly divided last night and yet everybody seemed to have a perfectly good time. Conversation flowed easily around the table. It looks as though the gentlemen could manage to talk to each other occasionally and have an interesting time. I've learned from experience that women can do this too, so we need not be so agitated when our tables do not come out exactly even.
The chairman of the Junior Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday made an amusing remark when he introduced me. He said that there was apparently some fundamental reason why women added something to the enjoyment of an occasion, but he wasn't sure what that fundamental reason might be. I hope that we may someday discover that there is no real reason for being divided up in social gatherings, and that women add to an occasion because they are pleasant human beings to have about.
The French rarely separate after dinner so as to allow the men to talk alone. They have a theory, I think, that conversation carried on by both men and women is apt to be more interesting. It all boils down really to individuals that are gathered together. If the men and the women are dull, the party will be dull.
The exact number on either side doesn't really matter. It is just the individuals who make an evening pleasant and interesting, or that send one home with a feeling of a wasted evening and a fervent wish that one had chosen a book as a companion instead of human beings.
I think I must tell you a secret. Someone who read my column in which I ruefully regretted that it would be another four years before I could have a little black dog to sit on my white fur rug before the fire in my Hyde Park cottage, sent me for Christmas a life-size black toy dog! He has created a sensation.
Little Franklin, III, and everyone else, young or old, picks him up from the corner which he occupies beside the fireplace here. My husband's real live little black Scottie hasn't quite decided yet whether he is an enemy or a friend. He comes and looks at the toy dog and if anyone picks it up and starts to make it move, "Fala" runs away. I think of all my Christmas presents this has proved the most popular.
I expected to fly to New York City today, but the planes are cancelled and I am taking the train. Such are the uncertainties of winter weather and I am wondering if I shall be able to fly back tomorrow night. Operating an airplane in winter must have its difficulties. Someone remarked last night that running a government must be an irritating job at times. Well, perhaps it is complicated for much the same reason that running an airline is. Human beings are about as unpredictable as the weather!