Ethel’s Pops and the Mustard Plaster

Damon Runyon


September 15.

DEAR SIR when I got home last night I ses to my wife Ethel see here Ethel what is this I hear about your Pops getting arrested and taken to court yesterday? Ethel ses why Joe how did you hear about that? I ses Sully the cop told me that is how I heard. I ses is it true? Ethel ses well it is true all right Joe but I was not going to tell you because you worry about every little thing.

I ses do you call a mans wifes father getting arrested and taken to court a little thing? Ethel ses well what is big about it? Lots of people get arrested and taken to court. My Pops ses there is no justice in this world anyway. I ses I thought your Pops was sick in bed with a cold and Ethel ses he was and that is how he come to get arrested and taken to court. It was my Moms fault.

I ses what do you mean it was your Moms fault? Ethel ses well Joe you know how my Moms is when anybody is sick with a cold. She puts a mustard plaster on their chests and that is what she did with my Pops and he hates mustard plasters because my Moms makes them too strong and they burn the dadbusted daylights out of him.

I ses Ethel never mind what kind of daylights they burn out of him and she ses well I am only telling you what my Pops ses Joe. He was over here this morning telling me what happened and he ses it was because my Moms mustard plasters always burn the dadbusted daylights out of him and they do too Joe. I remember she used to put them on my chest when I was little and got sick with colds. They would burn the dadbusted daylights out of anybody Joe.

I ses all right Ethel all right we will let it go at that. I ses tell me what happened to your Pops that got him arrested and taken to court and Ethel ses well as soon as my Moms put the mustard plaster on my Pops chest yesterday she had to go down to the store for something so he got out of bed and put on his clothes and went out and took the mustard plaster with him. Joe do you know how my Moms makes a mustard plaster?

I ses no and Ethel ses well she takes two pieces of thin cloth and puts a whole lot of mustard in between them like a sandwich and the mustard is awfully squashy. My Pops ses this one was the biggest my Moms ever made and weighed about two pounds and when he got out in the street with it he gave it a big throw because he was so mad.

I ses what was he mad about Ethel? Ethel ses why Joe he was mad about the mustard plaster burning the dadbusted daylights out of him that’s what he was mad at. But he did not know that Tony the Italian fellow that sells the fruit off the push cart was coming around the corner when he gave the mustard plaster the big throw. Joe my Pops swears he did not know Tony was coming.

I ses what has Tony got to do with it? Ethel ses why he has got everything to do with it. My Pops wadded the mustard plaster up a little when he gave it the big throw but it came unfolded just before it hit Tony right in the face and splattered mustard all over him. Some of it got in his eyes and he started to swear so awful in Italian and American too that the neighbors closed their windows. Joe did you ever get mustard in your eyes?

I ses no I never did but what did your Pops do then? Ethel ses why he went on down the street to Schultz Bar to buy a glass of beer and there was a fellow in there with a moustache who was knocking Mister Roosevelt and my Pops got in an argument with him. Joe you know my Pops will not stand for anybody knocking Mister Roosevelt. I ses Ethel I wish you would get around to telling me why your Pops got arrested and taken to court. Ethel ses O that was a mistake.

I ses how was it a mistake? She ses why they thought my Pops was Tony. While my Pops was arguing with the fellow who was knocking Mister Roosevelt Tony came in looking for my Pops to ask him about throwing the mustard plaster but his eyes were all swelled up and watery from the mustard in them and he could not see very good. Joe he could not tell my Pops from the other fellow so he hit him.

I ses who hit who? Ethel ses why Tony hit the fellow who was knocking Mister Roosevelt and that was when Schultz sent for Sully the cop and he arrested everybody there and took them to court. Joe if you ask me I think Sully the cop had little to do to arrest people he has known all his life. He took them before Magistrate Coogan and my Pops explained everything.

I ses O he did did he? How did he explain? Ethel ses why he blamed everything on my Moms because if she had not put the mustard plaster on his chest he would not have had it to throw and the mustard would not have got in Tony’s eyes and he would not have hit the wrong fellow. Magistrate Cooney ses my Pops was dead right and let them all go except he fined the fellow who was knocking Roosevelt two dollars for disturbing the peace.

I ses Ethel where is your Pops now? She ses why Joe he is home in bed with a worse cold than ever and he has got another mustard plaster on his chest burning the dadbusted daylights out of him.