The man from Sparta, a grave, intense youngster, babbled, “Say! I guess I’m as good a husband as the run of the mill, but God, I do get so tired of going home every evening, and nothing to see but the movies. That’s why I go out and drill with the National Guard. I guess I got the nicest little wife in my burg, but—Say! Know what I wanted to do as a kid? Know what I wanted to do? Wanted to be a big chemist. Tha’s what I wanted to do. But Dad chased me out on the road selling kitchenware, and here I’m settled down—settled for life—not a chance! Oh, who the devil started this funeral talk? How ’bout ’nother lil drink? ’And a-noth-er drink wouldn’ do ’s ‘ny harmmmmmmm.’”
“Yea. Cut the sob-stuff,” said W. A. Rogers genially. “You boys know I’m the village songster? Come on nowsing up:
Said the old Obadiah
to the young Obadiah,
‘I am dry, Obadiah, I am dry.’
Said the young Obadiah to the old Obadiah,
‘So am I, Obadiah, so am I.’”
They had dinner in the Moorish Grillroom of the Hotel Sedgwick. Somewhere, somehow, they seemed to have gathered in two other comrades: a manufacturer of fly-paper and a dentist. They all drank whisky from tea-cups, and they were humorous, and never listened to one another, except when W. A. Rogers “kidded” the Italian waiter.
“Say, Gooseppy,” he said innocently, “I want a couple o’ fried elephants’ ears.”
“Sorry, sir, we haven’t any.”
“Huh? No elephants’ ears? What do you know about that!” Rogers turned to Babbitt. “Pedro says the elephants’ ears are all out!”
“Well, I’ll be switched!” said the man from Sparta, with difficulty hiding his laughter.
“Well, in that case, Carlo, just bring me a hunk o’ steak and a couple o’ bushels o’ French fried potatoes and some peas,” Rogers went on. “I suppose back in dear old sunny It’ the Eyetalians get their fresh garden peas out of the can.”
“No, sir, we have very nice peas in Italy.”
“Is that a fact! Georgie, do you hear that? They get their fresh garden peas out of the garden, in Italy! By golly, you live and learn, don’t you, Antonio, you certainly do live and learn, if you live long enough and keep your strength. All right, Garibaldi, just shoot me in that steak, with about two printers’-reams of French fried spuds on the promenade deck, comprehenez-vous, Michelovitch Angeloni?”
Afterward Elbert Wing admired, “Gee, you certainly did have that poor Dago going, W. A. He couldn’t make you out at all!”
In the Monarch Herald, Babbitt found an advertisement which he read aloud, to applause and laughter:
Old Colony Theatre
Shake the Old Dogs to the Wrollicking Wrens The bonniest bevy of beauteous bathing babes in burlesque. Pete Menutti and his Oh, Gee, Kids.