O, Careless Love!

Damon Runyon

Among those I have checked and okayed for the purge is the fellow of whom it is said “He loves people.” I think we have gone along with him as far as we should.

I have never been able to get a bill of particulars from this fellow or his admirers. I mean detailed information for the basis of the statement “He loves people.”

I have not been able to obtain from or anyone connected with him an explanation for the significance of the propaganda “He loves people.” That is to say, what of it?

I have asked what people does he love?

How many?

Their names and addresses, please?

All right, then, two or three?

I have asked why does he love them?

No answer. Not a peep. Well, I never trusted this mugg much anyway, because if he was a square John and did not inspire the statement “He loves people,” he would have come out with a flat denial the minute it was first said of him, or with the info I suggest above as proof of its authenticity.

Let me tell you something. I have never considered it a boost to have it said of one that “He loves people.” Many, many, many, many, many people are mean and dirty and all around ornery and to have it said of you that you love them would indicate that you are weak minded, or, if you personally prompted the report, an infernal liar.

I am willing to let it be said of you without challenge, or you may say it yourself, that you love some people. Some, remember. Just kindly do not try to take in too much territory or I will have to call you. “He loves peoples!” Aw, filberts!

The statement about which I am making all this squawk often appears in obituary notices, used in the past tense, of course. It is with a blush of shame that I confess that I have used it no less than three times that I remember in the past couple of years―“He loved people.”

It is one of those things you drop in without thinking when you are trying to say something nice about one who has departed this vale of tears, who has shuffled off this mortal coil, who has kicked the bucket, or handed in his checks, as we say. “He loved people,” I said of each of these fellows, but I have since learned that two of them actually hated people, including their wives—or are wives people?

They made quite a point of mingling with people and of expressing their love for people, which should have made me suspicious of them at once because, curiously enough, the men who had done the most for people in this world were not disposed to association with people in the mass. On the contrary, they gave people the old whiskbroom treatment.

It is my opinion that the American who did more for people than any other man of the past fifty years was John D. Rockefeller, and he bothered not at all with people. He avoided them. I would be inclined to doubt that he loved them. I see no reason why he should. Yet he was one of the all-time great benefactors of people. Now I suppose you are waiting for me to round up that third guy of the trio I mention above.

Well, as I afterwards learned, this guy was arrested once for slugging a neighbor who complained about his dog, Toots, barking all night. The neighbor could not sleep. Then my man was arrested on three different occasions for kicking people on the shins in box office and ration board lines, two of his victims being women and the third a blind man.

Finally, there were no less than ten different beefs against him in his lifetime for swindling both men and women in stock rackets. I feel not that it was an exaggeration to say of him “He loved people.”