A Tough Audience for Underwear

Damon Runyon


April 22.

DEAR SIR the other night I took my wife Ethel to the movies and when we got home she ses Joe I have been thinking of something. I have been thinking that it is too bad those fellows who make the movies do not know any nice people.

I ses what do you mean they do not know any nice people? I ses what makes you think they do not know any nice people? Ethel ses why because they never put any nice people in the movies. All they put in is murderers and fellows who talk rude to ladies and sometimes slap them. That is what makes me think they do not know any nice people.

I ses look Ethel those fellows who make the movies put in those kind of people because that is life. I ses it does not mean that they do not know any nice people and she ses what nice people do they know? I ses that is a fine question. I ses you know very well I do not know any of those fellows who make the movies so how would I know what nice people they know?

Ethel ses well it is very strange to me that if they know any nice people they do not put some of them in the movies once in a while. Joe I am awfully tired of seeing people who have no manners when they eat and who sit around squirting tobacco juice out of their mouths and who talk terribly rude to each other like that husband and wife did in that picture tonight.

I ses Ethel those fellows who squirt tobacco juice out of their mouths are just for laughs. I ses they have them in lots of pictures and Ethel ses do you laugh at them? I ses no but some people do. She ses what people? I ses well I cannot think of any people by name right now but I often hear somebody laughing in the theatre when it happens. Ethel ses well Joe I think it is disgusting. It is almost as bad as the operations.

I ses what operations Ethel? She ses the operations on people they are always showing you in the movies. Do you like operations Joe? I ses no Ethel I am not really an operations man. I ses the way I do about them is to close my eyes when they get ready to have the operation and not open them until I think it is all over. Ethel ses well so do I do that about operations but sometimes those fellows who squirt tobacco juice out of their mouths do it when you least expect it and you do not have time to close your eyes.

I ses well Ethel it is just comedy stuff. I ses that talk between the husband and his wife in that picture tonight was comedy stuff too. I ses the husband was making smart cracks at his wife and she was making smart cracks back at him and Ethel ses well they were both very rude. Would you talk that way to me Joe? I ses certainly not Ethel but we are not the kind of people who make smart cracks like that at each other.

Ethel ses do you know anybody in this neighborhood that talks that way to each other Joe? I ses no sweets but the people in this neighborhood are not the kind of people they put in the movies. She ses why not Joe? I ses well I guess that kind would not be very interesting. I ses the people in this neighborhood are just little people like you and me and nothing happens to them that would make them worth putting in the movies.

Ethel ses are the people in this neighborhood nice people Joe? I ses Yes I guess they are nice enough and she ses then what you mean is that nice people are not interesting. I ses now there you go Ethel twisting what I ses around to suit yourself and putting me on the spot. I ses why do you always try to tell me what I mean when I may mean something else? She ses why what else could you mean Joe? I ses never mind Ethel. I ses just cancel it.

She ses well I would like to see one movie sometime where everybody did not drink a lot of liquor and get drunk all over the place and had nice manners and acted like ladies and gentlemen. I would like to see a picture where nobodys pants or skirts got torn off to show them in their underwear. Joe do you think it is nice to show people in their underwear?

I ses Ethel to tell you the truth I have never thought about that one way or the other. I ses I guess they put that in for laughs too and she ses well Joe no underwear ever made me laugh much and I ses no you are a tough audience for underwear. She ses I would like to see a movie where nobody got slapped or hit on the chin and where everybody talked polite to each other and did not holler and scream.

I ses Ethel that would be a very quiet movie and she ses yes thats the kind I want to see Joe. I want it extra quiet with no nasty little children in it screeching at me and nobody eating with bad manners or squirting tobacco juice out of their mouths and no automobile accidents. I do not want to hear any husbands and wives make smart cracks at each other either Joe.

I ses well if ever I hear of a movie like that I will let you know Ethel and now I am going to bed. She ses good night Joe but do you know what I think? I ses no what? She ses I think your remark about me being a tough audience for underwear sounded like a smart crack? Was it Joe? I ses cancel that one too Ethel and good night.

Yours truly