MERRY DODGES A DEAD HEAT
Somehow I sensed it as a kind of a batty excursion at the start. You see, he’d asked me offhand would I come, and I’d said “Sure, Bo,” careless like, not thinkin’ any more about it until here Saturday afternoon I finds myself on the way to spend the week-end with J. Meredith Stidler.
Sounds imposing don’t it? But his name’s the weightiest part of J. Meredith. Course, around the Corrugated offices we call him Merry, and some of the bond clerks even get it Miss Mary; which ain’t hardly fair, for while he’s no husky, rough-neck specimen, there’s no sissy streak in him, either. Just one of these neat, finicky featherweights, J. Meredith is; a well finished two-by-four, with more polish than punch. You know the kind,—fussy about his clothes, gen’rally has a pink or something in his coat lapel, hair always just so, and carries a vest pocket mirror. We ain’t got a classier dresser in the shop. Not noisy, you understand: quiet grays, as a rule; but made for him special and fittin’ snug around the collar.
Near thirty, I should guess Merry was, and single, of course. No head of a fam’ly would be sportin’ custom-made shoes and sleeve monograms, or havin’ his nails manicured reg’lar twice a week. I’d often wondered how he could do it too, on seventy-five dollars a month.
For J. Meredith wa’n’t even boss of his department. He just holds down one of the stools in the audit branch, where he has about as much show of gettin’ a raise as a pavin’ block has of bein’ blown up Broadway on a windy day. We got a lot of material like that in the Corrugated,—just plain, simple cogs in a big dividend-producin’ machine, grindin’ along steady and patient, and their places easy filled when one wears out. A caster off one of the rolltop desks would be missed more.
Yet J. Meredith takes it cheerful. Always has a smile as he pushes through the brass gate, comin’ or goin’, and stands all the joshin’ that’s handed out to him without gettin’ peevish. So when he springs this over-Sunday invite I don’t feel like turnin’ it down. Course, I’m wise that it’s sort of a charity contribution on his part. He puts it well, though.
“It may be rather a dull way for you to pass the day,” says he; “but I’d like to have you come.”
“Let’s see,” says I. “Vincent won’t be expectin’ me up to Newport until later in the season, the Bradley Martins are still abroad, I’ve cut the Reggy Vanderbilts, and—well, you’re on, Merry. Call it the last of the month, eh?”
“The fourth Saturday, then,” says he. “Good!”
I was blamed near lettin’ the date get past me too, when he stops me as I’m pikin’ for the dairy lunch Friday noon. “Oh, I say, Torchy,” says he, “ah—er—about tomorrow. Hope you don’t mind my mentioning it, but there will be two other guests—ladies—at dinner tomorrow night.”