Damon Runyon


DEAR SIR The other night my wife Ethel was reading the evening paper and she ses strike, strike, strike, strike. That is all you can read nowadays. Strike, strike, strike, strike. Everybody is on a strike. I don’t know what the world is coming to.

I ses well, don’t worry, beautiful. I ses the world always comes out all right and Ethel’s Moms who was setting there sewing ses out of a clear sky, I was on a strike once. Ethel’s Pops got up and ses I think I will go down to Schultze’s for a beer before I turn in. Ethel’s Moms ses he doesn’t like to hear this story. Don’t stay too late, Pops.

Ethel ses, why, Moms, I never knew you worked at anything besides keeping house for Pops and her Moms ses Oh, I did a few things besides that. I worked quite a little before I got married and Ethel ses what union did you belong to? Her Moms ses I didn’t belong to any union. Ethel ses then how could you go on a strike?

Moms ses I went on a strike against cooking for your Pops and that didn’t call for any union. I found out he played a kind of trick on me and while it was years ago before you was even born I haven’t got over it to this day. But whenever I bring it up, your Pops thinks of an excuse to leave the house like he did just now.

I ses I should think he would, Moms. I ses a subject can get a little tiresome after it has been used for years but why did the cooking for Pops cause you to strike? I ses you are the greatest cook I ever saw in my life and Ethel would be second best if she would only concentrate. Ethel ses I hate cooking. Her Moms ses, daughter, you keep hating it and never mind what Joe ses about concentrating.

She ses I hated cooking, too, and the only reason I did it when I first married your Pops was because we was very poor and could not hire anyone to do it or go out to meals. Your Pops loved my cooking and he was always telling me that it was almost as good as his sister Martha’s cooking. She was married to a police inspector over in the Bronx and I never saw her very often but your Pops was always telling me what a wonderful cook she was and how her cooking was probably responsible for her husband’s success.

Moms ses your Pops talked about Martha’s cooking so much that I was very jealous of her and I made a regular study of cooking. I almost lived in the kitchen because I wanted to become a better cook than Martha. After your Pops commenced to do very well he would sometimes take me to a restaurant for a meal but he always criticized the food and told me it couldn’t compare with my cooking and of course that made me feel nice.

Once in a while I would ask him if I wasn’t getting better than Martha and one day he ses maybe I wasn’t better but that it was surely a dead heat and that pleased me so much I forgot about suggesting that we could afford to hire a woman to come in and help me with the cooking because it had really become quite a job as your Pops was quite a heavy feeder.

Then one day when your Pops was at work his sister Martha came to this very house to see me and she was really a very fine-looking woman with a big hat and a nice fur coat and when I told her your Pops ses I was a tie with her on cooking she looked at me in a funny way and ses I can’t cook a lick. I can’t even boil water. I never cooked a meal in my whole life and I hope I never have to start.

Moms ses that is when I went on a strike because I could see that your Pops had made up a story to keep me steaming in that hot kitchen learning to cook and I guess I would be on a strike to this day only after about a week of going to restaurants for meals I couldn’t stand their cooking any longer.

Yours truly