If you still think that Alice B. Toklas was Gertrude’s “maid”, just “Wifey” like in any old heterosexual marriage pattern, think again. Many of Stein’s friends and enemies (some of them changed back and forth as the years went on) liked and admired Alice not just for the petits fours and eaux de vie she served at the salon, but also for her quick wit and pointed sarcasm. The story Gertrude dished up in “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” — that Gertrude talked to the brilliant men while Alice talked to their wives, is just that: a funny, ironic and self-ironic yarn. It’s certainly true that Alice was Gertrude’s bodyguard in terms of keeping annoying people out of her hair. But it shows the great story teller in Stein: such a piquant, exaggerated story makes for a perfect anecdote — one that everybody would love to repeat… My late friend, Samuel M. Steward (who did the rose tattoo which you can see in my previous blog) confirmed for me what I had already read: that a number of people preferred to talk to Alice and thought (as he did) that she was brilliant. How else could Alice have been the reader, the one, all-important reader for Stein, when nobody else read and understood her?