Marriage Counsel

Damon Runyon

Our Old Man said one time a charming young lady by the name of Miss Abagail Zuz came to him for advice on the subject of marriage. She was being courted by a young man named Clukey and also by Obadiah Envelope, a sod widower of several years’ standing and twice her age. Our Old Man said she asked him which one he thought she should marry and that he advised her to take Obey.

He said he told her that he did not entirely agree with Benjamin Franklin’s advice to young men to marry widows, but that he did think it was an excellent idea for young women to marry widowers. He said he explained to her that it had been his observation that second wives had all the best of it because their husbands tried to do for them all the things they had neglected to do for their first wives.

Our Old Man said he told her that a girl who caught a fellow who had been bereft of his helpmeet after 10 to 20 years of married life became the beneficiary of conscience payments by the husband to the memory of the first wife, although Our Old Man said the husband was not always really to blame for inattention to the first wife. He said as a rule a first marriage comes in youth and a fellow is out hustling around to make a living and is too busy to remember the little amenities of matrimony, such as taking the wife places and buying her things.

He said that after a lapse of years marriage became a routine with the husband, and he did not notice how hard the wife worked at home or how tired she looked and in fact gave her presence scant consideration until one day she up and died, and then he got to remembering her only too well. Our Old Man said then the husband began thinking of the things he could have done and perhaps meant to do for her and was downright conscience stricken, so when he got married a second time he was generally always on his toes trying to make up to the second wife for his derelictions in the case of the first. He said he told Miss Zuz that he had known Obadiah Envelope long enough to feel that he was that type and that she would be missing a right good thing if she failed to nail him.

So Miss Zuz became Mrs. Obadiah, but Our Old Man said she was around in two weeks complaining that the advice given her was all wrong, especially with reference to Obadiah taking her places and buying her things. She said Obadiah was about as loose as the post office foundations with his money and that he was not conscience stricken enough to keep her from doing all the housework. Our Old Man said the former Miss Zuz was right put out and wanted to know what he advised now.

He said he suddenly remembered that Obadiah inclined a bit toward spiritualism, so he told Mrs. Obadiah to leave everything to him. Our Old Man said then one night he dropped in at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Obadiah and that he took with him a friend of his by the name of Mrs. Toober who gave séances with a table and after a little social chat he got her to call up a few spirits and one of them was the spirit of the first Mrs. Obadiah.

Our Old Man said Mrs. Toober said this spirit wanted to talk with Obadiah and what the spirit talked about was how it suffered thinking of the way Obadiah had neglected it in life and how it hoped he was showing the second Mrs. Obadiah every possible kindness and spending plenty of money on her. Our Old Man said he never heard a more convincing spirit than this one, although Mrs. Toober did all the talking for it, and Obadiah cried as if his heart would break and he promised the spirit he would do just as requested if it cost him the fifty thousand dollars he had saved up and for several months the second Mrs. Obadiah had a wonderful time.

Our Old Man said it would have gone on indefinitely but one day Mrs. Toober told one of the neighbors that he had directed her what to say at the séance and the neighbor told Obadiah and Obadiah shut down on his generosity to his second wife until she was no better off than the first one was. Our Old Man said Obadiah wanted to fight him for interfering with his married life and the second Mrs. Obadiah hated him for advising her to marry Obadiah and on top of that Mrs. Toober persecuted him for years claiming he had promised her five dollars for the séance.

Our Old Man said it was remarkable the way his well-meant advice was always getting him into trouble.