Single Track Mind

Damon Runyon

So you want a little advice from me on the subject of matrimony just in case you might someday think of getting married, do you, my boy?

Well, I will tell you something. Your approach is very clumsy. You do not want advice. You know very well, fellow me lad, that you have come up against a dame you fancy strongly, you are going to marry her, and you want encouragement from me in your design.

No matter how vehemently I might advise you against committing this act, you are going to get hitched at the earliest opportunity. Then someday when you are having a brawl with your dear wife you are going to crack to her, “Well, old Mr. Runyon was right when he told me I was a sucker to think of getting married and I wish I had listened to him.”

That is what you are going to say in the heat of anger to your sweet little wife and when you two are friendly again she will gently cross-examine you in such a way that you will not know what she is up to and will ask you, “Did Mr. Runyon really tell you not to get married?”

Well, perhaps some friendly instinct will let off an alarm in your noodle and you will deny that I said any such thing, but more likely you will try to pass it off without actually lying by saying airily, “Oh, you know how old Mr. Runyon is—always kidding.”

But, my boy, from that day on I will be in constant jeopardy of sustaining frost bite when I am in the vicinity of your lovely little wife. She may never say anything to me openly, but as sure as you are a foot high she would secretly put the black curse of Fifty-second Street on me and never mind that crossing your heart and hoping-to-die that you will not crack to her in the manner I suggest. I know youse young married guys.

Now, my boy, I do not want to prolong this discussion. I think you are snared. There is nothing I can do about it. If I undertook to show you that the whole set-up of life, economically and otherwise, is just a deck of cards that has been stacked by Nature in favor of womenkind to hornswoggle the male sex into matrimony, you would say that I am misstating the case.

But look at the lay-out, son. Perhaps a man yearns for a home, a little vine-covered cottage. Perhaps he gets one, all by himself. Well, the deal has been so arranged that there is a lot of tedious work around a little vine-covered cottage that gives a man a crick in the back in no time at all and brings to his mind the fact that that type of labor is performed with ease by women.

He has to give up the vine-covered cottage and return to life in a flea bag, contract a permanent crick, or get married. He usually takes the line of least resistance and gets married. If Nature was not conspiring for the women, why did she not make housework a genuine pleasure to the men? And then there is the matter of children.

Many a man would like to have little children of his own playing about his feet, their innocent prattle as music to his ears. He may be a man who has an aversion to women, but to acquire the children he has to get married. I submit that this is a prima facie evidence of a conspiracy for the women on the part of Nature else she would have made it possible for mankind to grow the children on trees.

If you lose a button off your pants, my boy, and are unhandy with a needle and thread and there is no tailor in immediate reach, you are reminded of the efficiency of a wife in emergencies of this kind. If Nature had intended to give a square rattle, she would have made them as skilful at sewing as the females, especially on trouser buttons.

I think I should point out that the women have long elaborated the inconveniences and discomforts of the male singletons, as for instance they have made a great bogie of lonesomeness in old age. I think if a bachelor has the foresight to save his money until he amasses quite a sum, his old age will be anything but lonesome. I know a lot of old pelters who are domestically unencumbered yet who have all the company male and female that they can stand.

I think you can throw the lonesomeness scare out, young man—but why am I talking to you? It is a good even money bet that you have the licence in your kick right this minute, like a fellow I was advising not to get married a couple of years ago. He was around not long afterwards smoking hot from the divorce court asking my advice about getting married a second time.

I said: “What can you lose?”

He came back six months later and said: “I just found out what I could lose. My second wife skipped last night with another guy and all my money.”