Wedding Anniversary

Damon Runyon


April 4.

DEAR SIR last night when I got home from work my wife Ethel ses Joe do you know what day this is? I ses sure I know. I ses it is Monday. She ses is that all? I ses is what all? She ses is that all the day it is?

I ses well Ethel it is the third of April. She ses is that all? I ses let me see now. I ses the year is nineteen hundred and thirty-nine. I ses Ethel that is about all I can tell you about what day it is. I ses I know it is not pay day and it is not a holiday because I worked like a dog all day.

Ethel ses O Joe you never remember anything. What happened today three years ago? I ses let me see. I ses was that the day I broke my finger? She ses of course not. The day you broke your finger was a Sunday and it was not three years ago. It was last year. I ses well Ethel I have just been kidding you. I ses I knew it was your birthday all the time and I bought a present for you but I forgot and left it down to the drug store when I stopped in there to buy some smokes just now.

Ethel ses Joe my birthday is in December and not in April and even if it was my birthday it could not be something that happened three years ago and you did not forget my present in the drug store. You just want an excuse to sneak down there and buy me a box of candy like you always do when you are reminded that it is my birthday. I ses Ethel I will have to give up on what day it is and she ses O Joe I thought you would remember just once anyway. It is our wedding anniversary. We were married three years ago today.

I ses listen Ethel. I ses I knew all the time what day it is. She ses did you honest Joe? I ses how could I forget a day like that? She ses well you did not mention it this morning and I ses no but I have been planning all day to take you somewhere tonight to celebrate after we have had dinner and she ses we can go right now Joe because I did not make any dinner. I thought it would be nicer to eat out on our wedding anniversary.

I ses thats swell Ethel so I took her to Caseys place in Flatbush Avenue and ordered steaks and beers and Ethel ses Joe I am awfully proud of you. There are not many married fellows who remember their wedding anniversarys. Only the ladies remember things like that. Joe I see Tommy Moriarty sitting over there. Did you ever make up your quarrel with him?

I ses no Ethel and I never will. She ses well now he is coming over towards us and he looks like he was not feeling very friendly. I ses let him come and Ethel ses O he is coming all right and when he got there she ses hello Tommy. He ses hello Ethel. You are still all right with me even if you are married to a lost ball. How is your Moms and Pops?

Ethel ses they are fine Tom and so is Uncle Dan. He ses I do not care anything about your Uncle Dan. He is a lost ball too like this one you are married to. I ses look Moriarty I do not want any trouble with you in here because Ethel and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary. I ses Ethel thought I had forgotten about it can you imagine that?

He ses well I am going to give you something that will always remind you of it. I ses what are you going to give me? He ses I am going to give you a bust in the nose. It was lucky I came in Caseys tonight because I am leaving town tomorrow morning for good and I would have missed giving you that bust. If you had been an hour later coming in here I would not have caught up with you and I would have regretted that all my life.

I ses listen Moriarty it is not a nice thing to start anything in Caseys place with ladies present and he ses O I will wait until you step outside and I ses well all right but there is no use delaying it then. I ses come on. I ses Ethel tell them to keep my steak hot and she ses O Joe and Tom I wish you fellows would not fight on our wedding anniversary. He ses there will not be any fight. I am only going to give him one bust and that is all he gave me because he walked out the door first and then turned as I stepped out and hit me in the eye before I was ready.

Then he walked away and I did not follow him because I could not see good and when I got back to the table my eye was swelled shut and all black and Ethel ses Joe I feel so sorry for Tom. You know the real reason he is mad at you is because he liked me so much when I married you. I ses Ethel I have had five hundred fights with fellows who liked you and have been sore at me ever since we got married and if there are more in Brooklyn I am liable to get killed before I get through. I ses look at my eye.

Ethel began to cry and she ses O Joe I am so sorry and you will never forgive me for that terrible eye. I was sitting here thinking of the last time Tommy Moriarty proposed to me and it was the night before we got married and Joe it was not the third of April we got married after all. It was the second.

Yours truly