Cafe Society

Damon Runyon


June 6.

DEAR SIR last week I got a raise in salary and when I went home and told my wife Ethel she ses why Joe that is wonderful. Now you can take me stepping to celebrate it. I ses all right baby where do you want to go? She ses Joe I want to go over to the Stork Club and see the cafe society. I ses what is the cafe society? Ethel ses well it is the society that you see in places like the Stork Club. I have been reading about it in the papers and it must be wonderful.

I ses well Ethel honey nothing is too good for a winner. I ses I will take you to the Stork Club and you can see all the cafe society you want. So I put on my tux and she put on her new evening dress and we went to the Stork Club and had dinner and knocked off a couple of rhumbas and I ses to Ethel where is the cafe society?

She ses why Joe all these people here eating and drinking and dancing are the cafe society. I ses well they look like anybody else to me. I ses they do not look any different to me than the people I see at Grogans over in Flatbush Avenue. Ethel ses O Joe you are wrong. They are much different. You can see they are a lot classier than the people you find in Grogans and I am surprised you do not notice it.

I ses what is classier about them? Ethel ses well it is the way they look. I only wish I knew some of their names. I bet anything they are the very same names I read in the papers. I ses well Ethel I see a waiter over in the corner that used to work in Grogans. I ses if you like I will call him over and maybe he will tell us who somebody is. I ses his name is Pietro and he is a nice fellow. Ethel ses now Joe Turp don’t you be talking to waiters like they was old friends of yours the way you always do. What would the cafe society think of us? I ses well he is an old friend of mine and what do I care what anybody thinks? Ethel ses well I do so never mind that waiter. Joe do you think anybody has noticed my new dress?

I ses baby there is not so much of your dress for them to notice but I bet they have noticed that. Ethel ses noticed what? I ses noticed that there is not so much of it to notice. She ses I do not know what you mean. This dress cost sixteen ninety-five and it is the latest thing. I think those ladies at that table over in the corner noticed it. I ses well baby anybody that did not notice that dress and what is in it must be blind. I ses now you just set here a minute while I go brush my hair and then we will show these chumps some more about dancing.

Ethel ses that is sweet of you Joe but don’t you go sneaking over to talk to that waiter and then I went away for about five minutes and when I got back a big fat fellow was standing at our table and talking to Ethel just as I come up behind him he ses to her did anybody ever tell you that you are beautiful? I took him by the collar and turned him around and I ses yes I have told her that. I ses kindly take a walk before I flatten you.

Ethel ses why Joe what is the matter with you? This gentleman thought he knew me and came over and spoke to me. He is just mistaken. I ses yes I know about those mistakes. I ses I used to make them myself. I ses it is a fine thing if a man cannot leave his wife setting for a minute somewhere without some tramp making passes at her. He ses who are you calling a tramp? I ses you. I ses now you go away before I have to cripple you all up.

So the fellow went away and Ethel ses Joe I was never so mortified in my life. Anybody can see that was a nice fellow and he was just admiring me. I bet anything he is somebody in the cafe society and what will they think of us now? But that is just the way you always are Joe Turp. Any time anybody admires me you have to show you are nothing but a roughneck from Brooklyn.

I ses see here Ethel the last time we was in Grogans all a fellow ses to you was Oh Oh when you went past him. I ses anybody is liable to say Oh Oh to a pretty girl like you when she goes past but right away you ses you had been insulted and wanted me to slug the fellow. I ses now a fellow comes right out and makes passes at you and you claim he is only admiring you.

Ethel ses yes but the other time was in Grogans and fellows there mean Oh Oh a lot different than fellows in the cafe society do when they tell a girl she is beautiful. Joe I think you owe that fellow an apology. I ses well all right if you feel that way about it so I looked around for the fellow but could not see him and then I called Pietro the waiter and asked him if he knew who the fellow was and where he had gone.

Pietro ses yes his name is Smith. The boss just threw him out for the second time tonight. I ses why? Pietro ses because he is a no good and the boss does not allow him in here but he sneaks in every time he gets a chance. Ethel ses Joe I think it is time for us to go home. You have to get up early. I ses thanks Pietro glad to see you. He ses likewise.

When we got home Ethel ses to me Joe do you know you told that Mister Smith a lie when you ses you have told me I am beautiful. All you ever told me is that I am pretty and beautiful sounds more romantic. I ses well Ethel baby I am telling you now you are beautiful and she ses tell me something else Joe. Tell me about the mistakes you ses you used to make like Mister Smith and I ses good night Ethel.