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RODDY McDOWALL can’t understand why people think him shy. If they called him crazy, says Roddy, they’d be nearer the truth. "Because I am, you know. I do crazy things and go nuts."

His mother’s inclined to agree. It embarrasses her to have Roddy, driving with her and seeing a face he likes, wind down the car window and call out a cheery, "Hello, how are you?" to some charming stranger. It startles her to have him come home with the information that he’s rented an office. The office is a drawer in the desk of a publicity department friend. He pays a penny a month for it and it’s labelled Roddy McDowall’s Office. Sometimes he pays two cents in advance to establish his credit. Sometimes he falls behind, for the pleasure of receiving a dunning letter. He insists on a receipt, so he can deduct the amount from his income tax as business expense.

He thinks this false impression of shyness is a holdover from his youth. "When we were little, people would talk to us and we wouldn’t respond for a long time, but I think it’s because we were considering. Of course Virginia’s rather reserved with strangers, more reserved than me, and awf’ly well-behaved. Virginia’s my sister, and a year older. She’s awf’ly pretty and awf’ly nice."

Awf’ly nice is his term of high approbation. It may not sound extravagant, but to bet the measure of his enthusiasm, the words must be coupled with the way he says them — all light and warmth and eagerness.

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