Short Pants

Damon Runyon


May 24.

DEAR SIR the other night my wife Ethel was reading the paper and she ses Joe how did Mister Kennedy ever come out about the short pants? I ses what Mister Kennedy? She ses why the Mister Kennedy who is ambassador to England. Are there any other Mister Kennedys?

I ses look Ethel there are Mister Kennedys all over town. I ses if you went to places where Irish people live and hollered for Mister Kennedy ninety fellows would come running. I ses what about the short pants?

She ses why I read in the paper not long ago that Mister Kennedy ses he would not wear short pants when he went to see the King and I was wondering how he came out. I ses O you mean Joe Kennedy. I ses I never heard how he came out about the short pants. I ses I never knew he was in any argument about short pants but if Joe Kennedy ses he would not wear short pants you can bet he did not wear them. I ses what did they want him to wear short pants for?

Ethel ses well the paper ses it is the custom to wear short pants when you go to see the King. I ses why? Ethel ses the paper did not say why. I ses well they tell me that Joe Kennedy is a tough turkey and if he ses he would not wear any pants at all to see the King he would not wear any.

Ethel ses why Joe Turp that is silly. How would somebody look going to see the King fix without any pants and what would the King do? I ses maybe he would laugh. Ethel ses I bet he would send for the cops and have somebody without any pants put in jail. What do you think Mister Roosevelt would do if somebody came to see him without any pants?

I ses Ethel I guess it would depend on who the somebody was. I ses I guess if it was Mister Farley without any pants Mister Roosevelt would laugh himself sick. I ses what is the idea of that custom of wearing short pants when you go to see the King anyway? I ses what is the matter with long pants?

Ethel ses well Joe it has always been more fashionable to wear short pants and every fellow does it and thinks nothing of it except somebody like Mister Kennedy. I bet anything I know why Mister Kennedy does not want to wear short pants. I ses why? Ethel ses I bet it is because he has thin scrawny old legs and is afraid to let people look at them. I bet he is afraid people would laugh right out loud at his legs and make fun of them.

I ses see here Ethel it is not patriotic to talk about the United States Ambassadors legs like that. I ses now you bring it up I remember reading something about those short pants myself. I ses the reason Mister Kennedy would not wear them is because he is a one hundred per cent American.

Ethel ses what has being an American got to do with short pants? I ses Americans do not wear pants like that. I ses Americans always wear long manly pants. Ethel ses why Joe Turp George Washington wore short pants. I ses how do you know? She ses I have seen lots of picture of him in short pants. He had nice legs too. I bet anything if Mister Kennedy had nice legs like George Washington you could not keep him out of short pants. Are you an American Joe?

I ses of course I am an American. I ses I am as American as Joe Kennedy and Ethel ses well you wore short pants a couple of years ago when you played golf only your legs did not look as nice as George Washingtons. I ses Ethel kindly leave my legs out of this. I ses my legs are as good looking as anybody’s legs and Ethel ses O no Joe they are awfully scrawny. I bet Mister Kennedy has legs just like you or he would be proud to have people look at them.

I ses well I do not know anything about Mister Kennedy’s legs. I ses I have never seen them and what is more I do not want to see them. Ethel ses well I bet he has funny looking knobby knees like you and that is why he will not wear short pants. I bet if he had nice looking legs like Errol Flynns in the movies he would wear the shortest pants in the world.

I ses well it is certainly a fine thing for somebody’s wife to go around looking at men’s legs like Errol Flynns and then knocking their own husbands legs and Ethel ses why Joe you know you look at ladies legs and talk about them when they are nice looking. I ses well that is different. I ses anyway I do not think you should criticize the United States Ambassadors legs when you do not know anything about them. I ses you ought to say it is a great thing for him not to wear short pants because he is an American.

Ethel ses well Joe I will tell you what I will do. If you will write a letter to Mister Kennedy and get him to show that his legs are not scrawny and his knees knobby but are as good looking as George Washingtons or Errol Flynns I will not say anything more to you about it and I ses Ethel you are not going to say anything more about it to me tonight anyway because I am going to bed and good night.

Ethel ses good night Joe sleep tight but I bet anything Mister Kennedy not only has scrawny legs and knobby knees but that they are bow legs too so I guess he is pretty smart to stay out of short pants after all.