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Title: Men I'm Not Married To
Author: Parker, Dorothy
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Men I'm Not Married To" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)



                                  MEN
                          I’M NOT MARRIED TO



                                  MEN
                          I’M NOT MARRIED TO

                                  BY
                            DOROTHY PARKER

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                         GARDEN CITY NEW YORK
                       DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
                                 1922


                          COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
                       DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
                ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF
                  TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES,
                      INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN

           COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY
                IN THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN

                     PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES
                                  AT
              THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

FREDDIE                                                                2

MORTIMER                                                              12

RAYMOND                                                               12

CHARLIE                                                               13

LLOYD                                                                 21

HENRY                                                                 21

JOE                                                                   25

OLIVER                                                                26

ALBERT                                                                26



                                  MEN
                          I’M NOT MARRIED TO



    No matter where my route may lie,
      No matter whither I repair,
    In brief--no matter how or why
    On lane and byways, street and square,
      On alley, path and avenue,
    They seem to spring up everywhere--
      The men I am not married to.

    I watch them as they pass me by;
      At each in wonderment I stare,
    And, “but for heaven’s grace,” I cry,
      “There goes the guy whose name I’d wear!”
    They represent no species rare,
      They walk and talk as others do;
    They’re fair to see--but only fair--
      The men I am not married to.

    I’m sure that to a mother’s eye
      Is each potentially a bear.
    But though at home they rank ace-high,
      No change of heart could I declare.
    Yet worry silvers not their hair;
      They deck them not with sprigs of rue.
    It’s curious how they do not care--
      The men I am not married to.


L’ENVOI

    In fact, if they’d a chance to share
      Their lot with me, a lifetime through,
    They’d doubtless tender me the air--
      The men I am not married to.



FREDDIE


“Oh, boy!” people say of Freddie. “You just ought to meet him some time!
He’s a riot, that’s what he is--more fun than a goat.”

Other, and more imaginative souls play whimsically with the idea, and
say that he is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Still others go at
the thing from a different angle, and refer to him as being as funny as
a crutch. But I always feel, myself, that they stole the line from
Freddie. Satire--that is his dish.

And there you have, really, one of Freddie’s greatest crosses. People
steal his stuff right and left. He will say something one day, and the
next it will be as good as all over the city. Time after time I have
gone to him and told him that I have heard lots of vaudeville acts using
his comedy, but he just puts on the most killing expression, and says,
“Oh, say not suchly!” in that way of his. And, of course, it gets me
laughing so that I can’t say another word about it.

That is the way he always is, just laughing it off when he is told that
people are using his best lines without even so much as word of
acknowledgment. I never hear any one say “There is such a thing as being
too good-natured” but that I think of Freddie.

You never knew any one like him on a party. Things will be dragging
along, the way they do at the beginning of the evening, with the early
arrivals sitting around asking one another have they been to anything
good at the theatre lately, and is it any wonder there is so much
sickness around with the weather so changeable. The party will be just
about plucking at the coverlet when in will breeze Freddie, and from
that moment on the evening is little short of a whirlwind. Often and
often I have heard him called the life of the party, and I have always
felt that there is not the least bit of exaggeration in the expression.

What I envy about Freddie is that poise of his. He can come right into a
room full of strangers, and be just as much at home as if he had gone
through grammar school with them. He smashes the ice all to nothing the
moment he is introduced to the other guests by pretending to
misunderstand their names, and calling them something entirely
different, keeping a perfectly straight face all the time as if he never
realized there was anything wrong. A great many people say he puts them
in mind of Buster Keaton that way.

He is never at a loss for a screaming crack. If the hostess asks him to
have a chair Freddie comes right back at her with “No, thanks; we have
chairs at home.” If the host offers him a cigar he will say just like a
flash, “What’s the matter with it?” If one of the men borrows a
cigarette and a light from him Freddie will say in that dry voice of
his, “Do you want the coupons too?” Of course his wit is pretty fairly
caustic, but no one ever seems to take offense at it. I suppose there is
everything in the way he says things.

And he is practically a whole vaudeville show in himself. He is never
without a new story of what Pat said to Mike as they were walking down
the street, or how Abie tried to cheat Ikie, or what old Aunt Jemima
answered when she was asked why she had married for the fifth time.
Freddie does them in dialect, and I have often thought it is a wonder
that we don’t all split our sides. And never a selection that every
member of the family couldn’t listen to, either--just healthy fun.

Then he has a repertory of song numbers, too. He gives them without
accompaniment, and every song has a virtually unlimited number of
verses, after each one of which Freddie goes conscientiously through the
chorus. There is one awfully clever one, a big favourite of his, with
the chorus rendered a different way each time--showing how they sang it
when grandma was a girl, how they sing it in gay Paree and how a cabaret
performer would do it. Then there are several along the general lines
of Casey Jones, two or three about negroes who specialized on the banjo,
and a few in which the lyric of the chorus consists of the syllables
“ha, ha, ha.” The idea is that the audience will get laughing along with
the singer.

If there is a piano in the house Freddie can tear things even wider
open. There may be many more accomplished musicians, but nobody can
touch him as far as being ready to oblige goes. There is never any of
this hanging back waiting to be coaxed or protesting that he hasn’t
touched a key in months. He just sits right down and does all his
specialties for you. He is particularly good at doing “Dixie” with one
hand and “Home, Sweet Home” with the other, and Josef Hofmann himself
can’t tie Freddie when it comes to giving an imitation of a
fife-and-drum corps approaching, passing, and fading away in the
distance.

But it is when the refreshments are served that Freddie reaches the top
of his form. He always insists on helping to pass plates and glasses,
and when he gets a big armful of them he pretends to stumble. It is as
good as a play to see the hostess’ face. Then he tucks his napkin into
his collar, and sits there just as solemnly as if he thought that were
the thing to do; or perhaps he will vary that one by folding the napkin
into a little square and putting it carefully in his pocket, as if he
thought it was a handkerchief. You just ought to see him making believe
that he has swallowed an olive pit. And the remarks he makes about the
food--I do wish I could remember how they go. He is funniest, though, it
seems to me, when he is pretending that the lemonade is intoxicating,
and that he feels its effects pretty strongly. When you have seen him do
this it will be small surprise to you that Freddie is in such demand for
social functions.

But Freddie is not one of those humourists who perform only when out in
society. All day long he is bubbling over with fun. And the beauty of it
is that he is not a mere theorist, as a joker; practical--that’s Freddie
all over.

If he isn’t sending long telegrams, collect, to his friends, then he is
sending them packages of useless groceries, C. O. D. A telephone is
just so much meat to him. I don’t believe any one will ever know how
much fun Freddie and his friends get out of Freddie’s calling them up
and making them guess who he is. When he really wants to extend himself
he calls up in the middle of the night, and says that he is the wire
tester. He uses that one only on special occasions, though. It is pretty
elaborate for everyday use.

But day in and day out, you can depend upon it that he is putting over
some uproarious trick with a dribble glass or a loaded cigar or a pencil
with a rubber point; and you can feel completely sure that no matter
where he is or how unexpectedly you may come upon him, Freddie will be
right there with a funny line or a comparatively new story for you.
That is what people marvel over when they are talking about him--how he
is always just the same.

It is right there, really, that they put their finger on the big trouble
with him.

But you just ought to meet Freddie sometime. He’s a riot, that’s what he
is--more fun than a circus.



MORTIMER


Mortimer had his photograph taken in his dress suit.



RAYMOND


So long as you keep him well inland Raymond will never give any trouble.
But when he gets down to the seashore he affects a bathing suit fitted
with little sleeves. On wading into the sea ankle-deep he leans over and
carefully applies handfuls of water to his wrists and forehead.



CHARLIE


It’s curious, but no one seems to be able to recall what Charlie used to
talk about before the country went what may be called, with screaming
effect, dry. Of course there must have been a lot of unsatisfactory
weather even then, and I don’t doubt that he slipped in a word or two
when the talk got around to the insanity of the then-current styles of
women’s dress. But though I have taken up the thing in a serious way,
and have gone about among his friends making inquiries, I cannot seem to
find that he could ever have got any farther than that in the line of
conversation. In fact, he must have been one of those strong silent men
in the old days.

Those who have not seen him for several years would be in a position to
be knocked flat with a feather if they could see what a regular little
Chatterbox Charlie has become. Say what you will about prohibition--and
who has a better right?--you would have to admit, if you knew Charlie,
that it has been the making of him as a conversationalist.

He never requires his audience to do any feeding for him. It needs no
careful leading around of the subject, no tactful questions, no
well-timed allusions, to get him nicely loosened up. All you have to do
is say good evening to him, ask him how everybody over at his house is
getting along, and give him a chair--though this last is not
essential--and silver-tongued Charlie is good for three hours straight
on where he is getting it, how much he has to pay for it, and what the
chances are of his getting hold of a couple of cases of genuine
pinch-bottle, along around the middle of next week. I have known him to
hold entire dinner parties spellbound, from cocktails to finger bowls,
with his monologue.

Now I would be well down among the last when it came to wanting to give
you the impression that Charlie has been picked for the All-American
alcoholic team. Despite the wetness of his conversation he is just a
nice, normal, conscientious drinker, willing to take it or let it alone,
in the order named. I don’t say he would not be able to get along
without it, but neither do I say that he doesn’t get along perfectly
splendidly with it. I don’t think I ever saw any one who could get as
much fun as Charlie can out of splitting the Eighteenth Amendment with a
friend.

There is a glamour of vicarious romance about him. You gather from his
conversation that he comes into daily contact with any number of
picturesque people. He tells about a friend of his who owns three
untouched bottles of the last absinth to come into the country; or a
lawyer he knows, one of whose grateful clients sent him six cases of
champagne in addition to his fee; or a man he met who had to move to the
country in order to have room for his Scotch.

Charlie has no end of anecdotes about the interesting women he meets,
too. There is one girl he often dwells on, who, if you only give her
time, can get you little bottles of chartreuse, each containing an
individual drink. Another gifted young woman friend of his is the
inventor of a cocktail in which you mix a spoonful of orange marmalade.
Yet another is the justly proud owner of a pet marmoset which becomes
the prince of good fellows as soon as you have fed him a couple of
teaspoonfuls of gin.

It is the next best thing to knowing these people yourself to hear
Charlie tell about them. He just makes them live.

It is wonderful how Charlie’s circle of acquaintances has widened during
the last two years; there is nothing so broadening as prohibition. Among
his new friends he numbers a conductor on a train that runs down from
Montreal, and a young man who owns his own truck, and a group of chaps
who work in drug stores, and I don’t know how many proprietors of homey
little restaurants in the basements of brownstone houses.

Some of them have turned out to be but fair-weather friends,
unfortunately. There was one young man, whom Charlie had looked upon
practically as a brother, who went particularly bad on him. It seems he
had taken a pretty solemn oath to supply Charlie, as a personal favour,
with a case of real Gordon, which he said he was able to get through his
high social connections on the other side. When what the young man
called a nominal sum was paid, and the case was delivered, its bottles
were found to contain a nameless liquor, though those of Charlie’s
friends who gave it a fair trial suggested Storm King as a good name for
the brand. Charlie has never laid eyes on the young man from that day to
this. He is still unable to talk about it without a break in his voice.
As he says--and quite rightly, too--it was the principle of the thing.

But for the most part his new friends are just the truest pals a man
ever had. In more time than it takes to tell it, Charlie will keep you
right abreast with them--sketch in for you how they are, and what they
are doing, and what their last words to him were.

But Charlie can be the best of listeners, too. Just tell him about any
little formula you may have picked up for making it at home, and you
will find the most sympathetic of audiences, and one who will even go to
the flattering length of taking notes on your discourse. Relate to him
tales of unusual places where you have heard that you can get it or of
grotesque sums that you have been told have been exchanged for it, and
he will hang on your every word, leading you on, asking intelligent
questions, encouraging you by references to like experiences of his
own.

But don’t let yourself get carried away with success and attempt to
branch out into other topics. For you will lose Charlie in a minute if
you try it.

But that, now I think of it, would probably be the very idea you would
have in mind.



LLOYD


Lloyd wears washable neckties.



HENRY


You would really be surprised at the number of things that Henry knows
just a shade more about than anybody else does. Naturally he can’t help
realizing this about himself, but you mustn’t think for a minute that he
has let it spoil him. On the contrary, as the French so well put it. He
has no end of patience with others, and he is always willing to oversee
what they are doing, and to offer them counsel. When it comes to giving
his time and his energy there is nobody who could not admit that Henry
is generous. To a fault, I have even heard people go so far as to say.

If, for instance, Henry happens to drop in while four of his friends are
struggling along through a game of bridge he does not cut in and take a
hand, thereby showing up their playing in comparison to his. No, Henry
draws up a chair and sits looking on with a kindly smile. Of course, now
and then he cannot restrain a look of pain or an exclamation of surprise
or even a burst of laughter as he listens to the bidding, but he never
interferes. Frequently, after a card has been played, he will lean over
and in a good-humoured way tell the player what he should have done
instead, and how he might just as well throw his hand down then and
there, but he always refuses to take any more active part in the game.
Occasionally, when a uniquely poisonous play is made, I have seen Henry
thrust his chair aside and pace about in speechless excitement, but for
the most part he is admirably self-controlled. He always leaves with a
few cheery words to the players, urging them to keep at it and not let
themselves get discouraged.

And that is the way Henry is about everything. He will stroll over to a
tennis court, and stand on the side lines, at what I am sure must be
great personal inconvenience, calling words of advice and suggestion for
sets at a stretch. I have even known him to follow his friends all the
way around a golf course, offering constructive criticism on their form
as he goes. I tell you, in this day and generation, you don’t find many
people who will go as far out of their way for their friends as Henry
does. And I am far from being the only one who says so, too.

I have often thought that Henry must be the boy who got up the idea of
leaving the world a little better than he found it. Yet he never crashes
in on his friends’ affairs. Only after the thing is done does he point
out to you how it could have been done just a dash better. After you
have signed the lease for the new apartment Henry tells you where you
could have got one cheaper and sunnier; after you are all tied up with
the new firm Henry explains to you where you made your big mistake in
leaving the old one.

It is never any news to me when I hear people telling Henry that he
knows more about more things than anybody they ever saw in their lives.

And I don’t remember ever having heard Henry give them any argument on
that one.



JOE


After Joe had had two cocktails he wanted to go up and bat for the trap
drummer. After he had had three he began to get personal about the
unattractive shade of the necktie worn by the strange man at the next
table.



OLIVER


Oliver had a way of dragging his mouth to one side, by means of an
inserted forefinger, explaining to you, meanwhile, in necessarily
obscured tones, the work which his dentist had just accomplished on his
generously displayed back teeth.



ALBERT


Albert sprinkled powdered sugar on his sliced tomatoes.





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