Bad Language

Damon Runyon


February 26.

DEAR SIR when I got home from work the other evening I ses to my wife Ethel hurry and get yourself fixed up because we are going over to New York to see a play. I ses my boss gave me a couple of tickets that a friend of his gave him but he cannot go because he is not feeling well.

Ethel ses O thats wonderful Joe. I have been dying to wear my new black dress. Is it a good play? I ses I dont know how good it is but as long as we are getting in on our sleeve what difference does it make if it is any good or not? Ethel ses well thats so Joe but it would not hurt if it was a good play.

I ses well my boss ses it got nice boosts in the papers from the dramatic critics. I ses they are the fellows who write up the plays and my boss ses they are very hard to please about a play and any time they give one a good boost it must be all right. I ses my boss ses in fact it must be a little better than all right. Ethel ses yes I sometimes read what those dramatic critics ses in the papers and they are very cross about plays.

So we went to see the play and when we were on the way home Ethel ses Joe tell me about dramatic critics. I ses tell you what about them? She ses what does one look like? I ses Ethel I never saw a dramatic critic to know him but I suppose they look like anybody else. I ses why do you ask? Ethel ses I was just wondering about them. It is funny how they like bad language.

I ses what do you mean they like bad language? Ethel ses well you ses your boss ses the dramatic critics gave that play nice boosts and if they gave it nice boosts they must have liked it and all there was in that play was bad language so those dramatic critics must like bad language. That is why I ses it is funny how they like bad language. I expect they use a lot of bad language themselves. I would not want to live in the same house with a dramatic critic Joe.

I ses now wait a minute Ethel sweets. I ses please now Ethel. I ses dont be starting one of those things with me. She ses why what things Joe? I ses one of those around and around arguments of yours. She ses why Joe I am not starting any arguments. I am just wondering about the way those dramatic critics like bad language. I wonder if they use it much in front of their wives Joe?

I ses Ethel just because those dramatic critics gave that play nice boosts it does not mean that they like bad language. I ses it does not mean that they use bad language themselves either. Ethel ses well all there was in that play was bad language. Joe why do they put bad language in a play?

I ses Ethel you have got me there. I ses I suppose it is because a play is supposed to show you real life and so they put in the same kind of talk you hear in real life. Ethel ses where do I hear it in real life? I ses wherever your Uncle Dan is for one place. Ethel ses well I never hear my Uncle Dan for whenever he starts I just stick my fingers in my ears. I ses well why didn’t you stick your fingers in your ears tonight?

Ethel ses why Joe then I could not have heard what those actors were talking about. Joe some of those actors looked like nice people and they must have been terribly embarrassed about that bad language. Do you suppose dramatic critics ever get embarrassed? I ses never mind about the dramatic critics for a minute. What did you want to hear what they were talking about when you knew they were using bad language?

Ethel ses why Joe I thought maybe they would talk about something else once in awhile that was not bad language and if I had stuck my fingers in my ears I could not have heard it. They never did though. I ses they never did what? Ethel ses they never stopped using bad language. I was terribly glad we did not pay our way in to see that play Joe. If I wanted to hear bad language I would not pay my way in to a play to hear it. Do you know what I would do?

I ses sure I know. I ses you would call in your Uncle Dan and keep your fingers out of your ears. Ethel ses I would not. I would go down to the dock and listen to those sailor fellows. My Uncle Dan ses those sailors can give anybody cards and spades even him when it comes to using bad language. Joe I expect those dramatic critics would love those sailors if what Uncle Dan ses is so.

I ses if it is so it is the first thing he has said in a long time that is so. I ses what was you fidgeting so much for when we was at that play? I ses I thought you was going to jump out of your skin and Ethel ses well Joe to tell you the truth I had a notion to get up and walk out when they were using that bad language and then I remembered we were there on passes and it would not have been polite to your boss.

I was just getting to sleep when Ethel shook me and ses Joe I have just thought of something. Your boss may have something against you. I ses where on earth did you get that idea Ethel? She ses because he gave you those passes to that play. Joe I still think its funny how those dramatic critics like bad language.

Yours truly