Ethel’s Salad Bowl Hat

Damon Runyon


May 9.

DEAR SIR the other night I could not get home for dinner so I had it downtown and I telephoned my wife Ethel to meet me at the movies and when I got there she was out in front of the theatre with the manager and another fellow the size of Max Baer and they was all having an argument.

I ses hello Ethel baby what is going on here and she ses O Joe I am so glad you came. I was setting inside in front of this big lummox and he hit me on the shoulder and ses take off your hat. I ses you better mind your own business and he sent for the manager here and he ses I have to take off my hat or get my money refunded. Joe he hit me on the shoulder hard and his tone of voice was very insulting.

Madam the big fellow ses I did not tell you to take off your hat and I did not hit you hard on the shoulder. I just touched you easy and all I ses was please remove your hat or scroonch down a little so I could see something. I paid my good dough to see that picture and how could I see it with that icecream freezer you have got on your head stuck up in front of me?

Ethel ses well that just shows what an ignorant man you are to call my hat an ice cream freezer. Joe this is my new hat and it is a salad bowl and it cost me five dollars to have Lucy Kaplan copy it from a picture in Harpers Bazaar. It is the latest thing out. Joe you see how insulting his tone of voice is.

Madam the big fellow ses all I ses was please remove your hat or scroonch down a little. That is all I ses and I was not insulting. I was very polite. You kept calling me a big lummox and then you ses for me to come outside and your husband would take care of me and I came out here to explain to your husband that I never insulted nobody and your husband was not here but the manager was and he ses he would refund your money.

Yes the manager ses I never ses a word about her having to take off her hat. I only ses I would be glad to refund her money. Nobody would believe the trouble I have around this joint over those screwy hats the women are wearing. I am half nuts right now. Ethel ses well everybody here seems to be trying to make me out a liar. Joe are you going to stand there and let them make me out a liar and not do anything about it? I told that big lummox you would take care of him and you will wont you Joe?

I ses wait a minute Ethel. I ses that hat you are wearing is pretty tall and maybe I would ask you to take it off myself if you was setting in front of me and Ethel ses O you are taking other peoples part against me are you? How could I take off my hat without spoiling my hair-do after it took me half the day to fix it?

I ses wait a minute Ethel. I ses just wait a minute and the big fellow ses madam if you had scroonched down it would not have been necessary for you to remove your hat but you ses you would not scroonch down for President Roosevelt.

I ses Ethel I still say that is a tall hat for anybody setting behind you to see over and she ses yes Joe but it is my new hat and the latest thing. It is a salad bowl and nobody else in Brooklyn has one like it yet but I bet that old Alma Brewer will have one tomorrow. She saw me in mine this afternoon and she is always copying somebody.

I ses Ethel I do not care what kind of a bowl it is or what it cost. I ses the last time it was a flower pot and the time before that it was a pill box and Ethel ses O no Joe you are wrong. It was a matteau sailor. The pill box was before that and then after that it was a disk.

I ses all right but whatever they was they was funny hats and the manager ses mister hats may be funny to you but they are serious to me. I am half nuts from the hats that come in my theatre and cause trouble like this one your wife has got on and the big fellow ses I will say I did not insult anybody. All I ses to your wife was madam please remove your hat or scroonch down a little and if anybody wants to make anything of that they can.

My wife Ethel began to cry and she ses I wish I was dead so nobody could insult me any more and I ses to the big fellow O a tough guy hay? He ses well no I do not claim to be tough but if anybody wants to make anything of anything they can. I ses well when you are talking about hats I do not like the dicer you have got on. I ses it reminds me of one I saw a bum wearing the other day. I ses nobody but a bum would go around insulting ladies about their hats and making them cry and he ses well I guess you are looking for it.

Then he took a punch at me and hit me on the nose and I took a punch at him and missed and we clinched and wrestled around and the manager run and got a cop and the cop ses here break it up boys. What is all this about? I ses it is about my wifes hat and the cop took a look at Ethels hat and ses it is not worth it so you go on home now and take it easy.

When we got home I ses see here Ethel the next time you are going to set in front of somebody in a hat like that, please pick out somebody nearer my size. I ses my nose feels busted and I ache all over from that big fellow wrestling me around and she ses tell me Joe do you like my new hat? It is a salad bowl and the latest thing out.

I ses never mind about that. I ses you just tell me one thing. I ses if you did not want to take your hat off to keep from spoiling your hair what was the harm in not scroonching down a little like that big fellow asked and kept out of all that trouble and Ethel ses why Joe you silly if I had scroonched down nobody could have seen my hat.

Yours truly