The Only Answer

Damon Runyon

DEAR SIR last night after supper I sat down in my big chair in the living room and was all relaxed and dozing a little when my wife Ethel ses Joe you look very comfortable. Do you feel that way? I ses yes beautiful I do. I ses it is a wonderful thing for a fellow to be able to sit down in his own home like this and not have to think about anything. I ses I was afraid you would want to go out tonight.

Ethel ses well I was going to suggest that we walk down to the Conovers. They are having some kind of a party but I would rather be home with you Joe. I ses I am glad to hear that Ethel because those Conovers give me a pain. I ses I never feel just right at their parties because they try to do too high toned. Ethel ses yes Dottie Conover thinks she is better than anyone else in this neighborhood though sometimes they do have fun there. But I don’t really want to go Joe especially if you feel like talking to me a little because I want to ask you some questions.

I ses go ahead and ask all the questions you like sweets and I will do my best to answer them and she ses well Joe I have been wondering why they call them dry goods stores. I mean what is dry goods. I ses why Ethel I guess dry goods is stuff that women buy like linens and woollens and silks and things like that. I ses that is all dry goods so stores that sell them are called dry goods stores.

Ethel ses yes but you can buy perfume and shampoos and other things like that in dry goods stores and they are not dry are they? I ses well lovely maybe the name started before those stores sold wet stuff and they never changed it and she ses yes that may be it Joe but there is another thing that puzzles me. Why are fellows clothes made different from ladies clothes? Why didn’t they make them all the same in the beginning and who first thought of making them different?

I ses Ethel I don’t know who first thought of it but I guess they made them different so you can tell dames and guys apart. I ses if guys and dames clothes were all made just alike you would run into a lot of mistakes these days. I ses which way would you have wanted them made Ethel? She ses well Joe sometimes I think it would be handier if they were all fellows clothes but of course they are not so pretty as ladies clothes. But I often wonder why somebody in the beginning ses we will put this kind of clothes on the ladies and that kind of clothes on the fellows. Don’t you ever wonder about things like that Joe?

I ses no Ethel I don’t think I do. She ses don’t you ever wonder why we whistle at a dog but not at a cat? I ses no gorgeous. She ses don’t you wonder why some very wicked people have a lot of money and some very good people are terribly poor? I ses well Ethel I guess I have wondered about that now and then but not for long because I figure that is the way it is and there is nothing I can do about it. She ses but don’t you think there ought to be a way of taking that money away from those wicked people and giving it to the good people Joe as a reward for being good?

I ses look Ethel. I ses did you say the Conovers are having some kind of a party? She ses well they are having a few friends in and Dottie asked us. I ses maybe we might as well drop in on them sweets. I ses maybe we can get a few laughs there although I think that Chet Conover is a first-class dope. I ses get your hat you pretty girl and we will go and Ethel ses all right Joe but do you know what I think? I think you are willing to run the risk of being bored to death at the Conovers rather than answer a few little questions for me.

I ses well Ethel do you know what I think? I ses I think you knew if you asked me enough questions like that I would give in and go to the Conovers because that is what you wanted to do in the first place and she ses yes I want to go all right Joe but I really would like to know what you think about taking that money away from those wicked people and giving it to the good people.

Yours truly