Out With Her

Damon Runyon

I think a man whose wife is ornery may discuss her in public the same as any other misfortune.

The question of the propriety of such discussion was raised the other evening among a group of my acquaintances after the departure of a chap who had been bending our collective ears with a narration of the orneriness of his ever-loving.

One of the boys said:

“Don’t you think it rather indelicate of Homer to be unveiling the shortcomings of his Missus in that manner?”

Another said:

“Yes, aren’t those things supposed to be kept quiet like skeletons in your closets?”

“In whose closets?” I demanded, just to let the guy know he could not pin anything on me.

“In people’s closets,” he qualified. “Do you think it right for a man to go around blabbing to everyone who will listen that his wife is a no-gooder? Do you think it proper? We will leave it to you, Runyon.”

My decision is as above.

It is quite all right.

One of those fellows who was discussing Homer’s gabbiness is named Gus and before Homer came along this Gus had put in half an hour telling us of his arthritis and all of us others chipped in one by one with advice on what to do.

Another gee named Sam has a heart condition and this also called for half an hour with the rest of us, including Gus, mentioning remedies and naming doctors that he ought to see. Then a bloke named Chris got away with half an hour relating his business difficulties which drew a full discussion and much free advice.

But when Homer arrived and started filing his beef about his wife he was heard in what you might call strained silence. Nobody offered him a word of sympathy though his tale was well nigh heart rending and only one, a bachelor named Willie, had a suggestion of any kind.

“Have you tried a bust in the jaw?” asked Willie helpfully as Homer concluded, but of course he was immediately frowned down and the minute Homer got out of earshot they started putting in the grease as lacking in a sense of the proprieties.

Yet I thought his tough luck was worse than Gus’ arthritis or Sam’s heart condition or Chris’ business difficulties because he disclosed his wife as a foul-tempered vixen whose extravagance is bringing him to ruin, as a liar, and a double crosser and I thought he was entitled to advice the same as the other hardluckers.

I think it would be a good thing if all men with nasty wives would talk them over with their friends or even with strangers if they can get any to listen, because it would let out a lot of bile that husbands are inclined to secrete in their souls and would make them feel better afterwards.

Personally, I find such disclosures interesting and entertaining. Just as you think you know all the cussedness of which a dame can be capable, up bobs some fellow whose wife has a new twist on meanness. Of course each and every one of my lady readers will understand that she is not the kind of woman I am talking about, though I will bet that they know some that fit the blueprint perfectly.

Many men with sour wives are too proud to have that mistaken sense of the proprieties that prevents them from bringing up their marital curses at the round table, yet if they just had a leg shot off they would think nothing of discussing that lesser misfortune. They ought to speak up and unburden themselves on their wives because keeping their woe buried inside is nothing less than fermenting spiritual acid.

Many a man is misunderstood by his friends through failing to explain to them that what ails his disposition and what may be hampering his work is a wife who is a rumpot, who nags, who is an emotional mess, who is foolish in the head, or otherwise a washout and many a wife trades on a husband’s gallantry in this respect by making it appear that he is the floppo of the combination.

I think another reason why a man should give his marital mistake a complete airing is the protection of his fellow man. You see, if he eventually steps out of the picture still holding his tongue about her, other men will have no line on her and she may be able to corral another poor mugg and thus further spread human misery.