One of Those Things

Damon Runyon


DEAR SIR My wife Ethel’s Uncle Ben called me up one afternoon not long ago and ses Joe, a friend of mine from Scranton is in town and he bought two duckets to the fight at Madison Square Garden tonight and all of a sudden he finds he can’t go so he has given them to me and I want you to go with me.

I ses why sure and thanks for thinking of me, Ben. He ses okay meet me at Fiftieth and Broadway at seven o’clock and we will have a nice Italian dinner somewheres and go. So I telephoned my wife Ethel that I would not be home and I met her Uncle Ben right on the dot and we went to the Progressivo restaurant in West Fifty-fifth and had some real nice spaghetti.

While we was eating Uncle Ben looked all around and then dropped his voice almost to a whisper and ses Joe, did you bring any dough with you? I ses O, so that is it, is it? I ses I suppose you are clean and I will have to pay for this spread? He ses no, no, Joe. It is all on me because I am really loaded tonight. I am there with over a hundred fish but I want to give you a chance to pick up a few seeds.

I ses how? Ben ses well, I have found out that this fight tonight is one of those things. It is a do-se-do. It is a rumba, with music by Cugat. Joe, the guy who is the one to three favorite is going to blow the duke to the other gee and all you have to do to pick up a nice bundle is to bet on the short-ender. I have already bet myself fifty and I will get you on for whatever you feel like going for.

I ses Uncle Ben, I do not feel like going for anything. I ses now that I am a partner in our business I have to be more careful with my dough than ever before and besides I do not think it is dignified for a business man to be betting on prize fights. Uncle Ben ses suit yourself Joe, but don’t get jealous when you see me with a hundred and fifty bills that I haven’t got now.

I ses what makes you so sure this is one of those things? I ses I have seen many a one of those things go wrong in my time at the old Ridgewood Grove. He ses why everybody in town knows it. A fellow standing on the sidewalk in front of the Forrest Hotel that I never saw before in my life told me. A shoeshine kid on Eighth avenue told me. A guy who runs one of the newsstands at Fiftieth and Broadway told me while I was waiting there for you. The whole town is hep, Joe.

I ses well, Uncle Ben, I haven’t paid much attention to fights since the war but if everybody knows like you ses, the price ought to be shorter than three to one because everybody would be betting on the short-ender. Uncle Ben ses well, of course I am speaking of the early betting. I expect it to be something like even money at ring time. Anyway, I will give you a piece of my bet at three if you like, Joe, but I ses thanks, but I am keeping my money in my kick.

When we got to the Garden, I went right to my seat but Uncle Ben hung out in the lobby awhile and when he came in I ses is it still one of those things? Uncle Ben ses sure. Everybody out there knows it. The favorite is to pull to the other gee from start to finish. The price is still three so I bet all the rest of the dough I had on me. I only hope there isn’t too much of a scandal about it.

I ses Uncle Ben, I would be worried about that price if I was you. I ses it ought to be shorter and he ses the price makes no difference and just then the bell rang and the favorite walked over to the other gee and belted him on the chin with a big right hand and the short-end fellow went down and plumb out.

I turned around to say something to Uncle Ben but he had disappeared and he didn’t come back for ten minutes when nearly everybody was out of the building and he ses I went around to see what happened. Do you know what happened, Joe? They forget to tell the favorite this was to be one of those things.

Yours truly