Ethel’s Pops and Joe’s Uncle Tim

Damon Runyon


January 11.

DEAR SIR the other night my wife Ethel was reading the paper and she ses Joe suppose we went to Paris and I bought a lot of lovely dresses at a big bargain. One of them would be for evening with sequins all over it. I ses all right Ethel there is no harm in me supposing that.

She ses then suppose I brought them back to this country but did not say anything to anybody about them when we got here and they found them in the secret place in my baggage where I had hid them. I ses who found them? Ethel ses why whoever it is that is always finding things like that. Then suppose they charged me for the dresses all over again and made them cost me more than if I had bought them in Brooklyn in the first place. Do you think that would be fair Joe?

I ses see here Ethel you are talking about smuggling. I ses that is against the law and of course it would be fair for them to charge you again for those dresses if you did not pay duty on them. She ses yes Joe but then they would not be big bargains. I ses never mind about them not being bargains. I ses what has that got to do with the law? I ses I am surprised at you even thinking of doing a thing like that Ethel.

She ses O I was not thinking of doing it Joe. What would be the sense of me running all over Paris shopping for bargains and then have it turn out that they were not bargains at all? I ses look Ethel sweets you make me nervous talking that way. I ses if somebody heard you talk they would get the idea that you are a criminal. I ses smuggling is cheating the Government and they would put you in jail for that. I ses think of the disgrace you would bring on us.

Ethel ses O pooh Joe I was just supposing something and you have to get excited. I would first have to get to Paris to buy those lovely dresses at a bargain and how much chance have I got to get there? I ses well Ethel you never can tell about those things and she ses Joe I would not hide them in a secret place after all because that is the first place they look. I would put them all on at once and wear them in even if it would make me look as fat as a pig.

I ses Ethel I wish you would stop. I ses think how I would feel if somebody named Turp was arrested for breaking the law like that and Ethel ses Joe what was your Uncle Tims last name? I ses his last name was Turp of course. She ses well do you know what my Pop ses? I ses I am not much interested in what your Pop ses but what was it?

Ethel ses my Pop ses your Uncle Tim was the worst bootlegger in Brooklyn when they had bootlegging here and it was against the law. My Pop ses your Uncle Tim was arrested more times for breaking the law than I have got fingers and toes and thats twenty Joe. I ses Ethel my Uncle Tim has got nothing to do with what we are talking about. She ses well you asked me to think how you would feel if somebody named Turp was arrested for breaking the law and his name was Turp. How did you feel Joe?

I ses I was too young to feel anything then Ethel and anyway my Uncle Tim was never convicted but twice. I ses your Pops has got his gall talking about my Uncle Tim when he has owed him for seven years for four bottles of gin and Ethel ses O Joe my Pops ses that was because it was half water. My Pops ses your Uncle Tim was very tricky that way.

I ses lets forget my Uncle Tim and your Pops too Ethel and she ses yes they are not very interesting are they Joe? What were we talking about before? O yes I remember now and Joe there is an ad in this paper that shows a lovely dress just like I would buy in Paris. It costs sixteen dollars and I bet I could not buy as big a bargain over there even if they never found it where I had it hid.

I ses Ethel baby thats a funny thing but I have got sixteen dollars to spare right here in my pocket and you go right down and buy that dress tomorrow and wear it in good health but please never talk about smuggling again. I ses people might get the wrong idea and she ses I will never mention it again Joe and you are a wonderful husband and I love you.

I was about going to sleep when Ethel shook me and ses Joe I just want to tell you one thing more and that will positively be the last. I ses what about? She ses why about those lovely dresses that I had you suppose I bought in Paris. I ses well shoot Ethel but remember what you promised me.

She ses Joe I have been thinking I would be awfully embarrassed if somebody I knew came to meet me at the boat when I was wearing all those dresses. I would not want the neighbors to know I had got that fat all of a sudden. They would think it was very funny after I had gone away so slim. Joe you never have to be afraid of me smuggling anything.

I ses good night Ethel and she ses good night Joe and thanks again for the dress.

Yours truly