Fatherly Advice

Damon Runyon

DEAR SIR the day after the twins came I was in Schultze’s bar shaking hands with everyone and buying them beers and cigars and they were all slapping me on the back and congratulating me and calling me Pops and daddy when a big sour-looking guy with a moustache who had been watching and listening moved up to me and ses who are you, anyway?

I ses why, my name is Joe Turp. He ses what happened to you that everybody in this joint is making such a fuss over you? I ses I just had twins. He ses what do you mean, you just had twins? I ses I mean my wife Ethel had them but of course they belong to both of us. He ses well, why don’t you give the little woman credit right off the bat instead of saying you had them?

I ses Oh, I am a little excited and it was just a slip of the tongue, I guess. I ses we never had twins or even any other kind of children before. He ses what are those twins, girls or boys? I ses one is a girl and one is a boy. He ses well, what makes you think you and your wife have done such a great big thing in having those twins?

I ses I didn’t say we had done a great big thing, mister. I ses I just told you why these people in here was making a fuss over me when you asked me. I ses they are all my friends because this is my old neighborhood and they are all glad my wife Ethel and me have got the twins.

He ses well, do you realize that about fourteen or fifteen years from now you and your wife will be the cause of considerable expense to the taxpayers of this community when your boy is picked up for juvenile delinquency and sent to the reform school? Do you think you have any right to do that to the taxpayers?

I ses mister, what gives you the idea that my son will be a juvenile delinquent? He ses why, just sizing you up. You are the type that produces boys like that. He will probably be caught robbing some poor old man’s candy store. A couple of years later the girl will run off with a bum and you will have to support them the rest of your life.

I ses mister, do you know what I think? I ses I think you have drank too much and are looking for trouble. He ses who am I looking for trouble with? I ses well, maybe with me. He ses Turp, look at me. I am bigger and stronger than you are and I could break you in two but why should I want to do anything like that? You haven’t done anything to me.

I ses I don’t think you can break me in two, mister. He ses now, you see? You are the one who is looking for trouble, and I don’t see why. All I have done is to tell you what an expense you and your wife have brought on the taxpayers of Brooklyn by bringing a juvenile delinquent into the world and that your daughter is going to run away with a bum and you get sore and tell me I am a drunkard.

I ses I didn’t tell you any such a thing. I ses all I ses is you have drank too much and he ses it’s the same as telling me I am a drunkard. But that has got nothing to do with what we are discussing. Turp, don’t you think you and your wife should be ashamed of bringing juvenile delinquents into the world two at a clip to be burdens upon the taxpayers?

Well, about this time a friend of mine by the name of Jackson motioned me from the doorway to come outside and I ses pardon me to the guy with the moustache and joined Jackson who ses I have been trying to bail you out for ten minutes but you never looked my way to give me a chance. That guy will drive you crazy.

I ses who is he, anyway? Jackson ses he is a printer who lives in Williamsburg. He is feeling very moody because his wife has just had their tenth baby. Keep away from him, Joe.

Yours truly