THE RADIO-HOUND’S BRIDE
CONSTANCE TRAVERS SWEATMAN
Every wife who has been glared into silence by a husband who is always “just getting Cuba” on the air will relish these musings of Marge. As Marge says, “A person has to smile once in a while,” and here’s a good opportunity.
WELL, say, Maurine, I did promise, on that postcard I sent you, that I’d tell you all about the adventure I had on my wedding night, didn’t I? Say, believe you me, that was some wedding-night! I bet nobody this side of the grave ever had one like mine. Listen:
Maybe I’d better begin with all the doings about my engagement, because you was away all summer, and I never got time to write. Not that being engaged took up all my time! Nothing like that! And let me tell you, dearie, getting engaged isn’t like you read about. I always thought they’d say something about how they’d love you till you died, which they might or they mightn’t, but, anyhow, I thought likely they’d say so.
Nothing like that, Maurine! Me and Nutty had been having a maple marshmallow nut-sundae at the drugstore; it was a night with a thunderstorm early in the morning. Well, when we were coming out of the drugstore, Nutty, he just took a hold of my arm, and said: “Say, Marge, old kid, let’s get married. How about it?” And,’would you believe it, it sounds awful dumb, but all I said, without ever thinking how it would sound to tell it after, or anything, all I said was: “Sounds good to me.” So, we were engaged. I hope yours’U sound better’n
that when you get it. . , . , , i-
Well, about two hours later that night, about 10 p.m., we were sitting, the both of us, in the old straw chair on the front porch with the light off, when out slaps father in the old slippers somebody musta wished on him the year he got old enough to vote, to look at them. I got off of Nutty’s lap, seeing the engagement wasn’t announced, and father says:
“That you, Ryan? Say, I almost got
Well, say, Maurine, listen: Now I’m telling you! You might as well be engaged to a telegram-pole as be engaged to a man that s nutty about radios. That’s where he got his name,
‘Nutty,’ see? He’s been bugs on the thing ever since they started getting static, whatever static is. I say static sounds like spooks, and who knows it isn’t? And I say nobody has a right to turn on a thing that gets all the spooks howling to stop it! Not that I blame the spooks! I feel like I want to start howling myself, every time father flops along in the old slippers and butts in and says he nearly got some darn thing that nobody cares if they never get it this side of Jordan.
Well, of course, Nutty always did get all fussed up about that old Cuba, though whether anybody’d get any more kick out of hearing “Freshie” played by a brass band in Cuba, any more than they’d get right here on a park bench in Montreal, on a nice, warm night, with somebody nice to listen, close alongside of you, well—whether they would or not, only the spooks in static knows, I guess, and they don’t tell much, only howl.
Anyhow, Nutty went in with father.
Well, Maurine, after I’d sat on the old straw chair all by my lone, for I guess maybe a week it seemed like, all alone, waiting for Mr.
Nutty to get through nearly getting Cuba, so’s he could come back and be engaged—well, I got fed up. So I went into the living-room, and sure enough, there sat that nut I d promised to marry two hours before, just like he’d never kissed a girl like me in his whole life!
He and father had on that grin; oh, Gosh,
you know the kind? It fits in neat between the ear-things on a headset. You know; ’s if they’d tuned in on Heaven, or something, and a angel was tickling them with a pinfeather, or something. First father bawls, like everybody’d gone stone deaf ’cause he can’t hear nothing, he bawls:
“I almost got it!”
Then Nutty, he leans over toward father, and he bawls
“You were right on top of it! Keep your fingers off the dial, for Heaven’s sake!”
Then father hollers back, and you got the idea he didn’t care for Nutty cursing at him, his neck got so red:
“Nearly ain’t quite, not by a darn sight!”
Well, Nutty had his mouth all set to holler back at him, but I snatched the headset off of Nutty’s head, and I said, if he was planning to sit there till father got Cuba, I guessed I’d accept that invitation to go out to your mother’s while you were there, and stay a month, and maybe they’d have Cuba by the time I got back, if they hadn’t, the both of them, died in their chairs trying.
So Nutty says, “Oh, the deuce with Cuba!” and we went back to the old straw chair, out on the porch.
Well, I say, maybe that’s all right after you’re married and high and dry with a couple of father’s images wishc on you. Sure! You know darn well you haven’t got a le to stand on, and you gotta keep up your girlish prid some way! You know, Maurine—the poor things, walk ing around in the heat, with one kid in the carriage, an' another falling off of the sidewalk every minute, an' skinning its Sunday knees in bare socks, and hollerin “I want a ice-cream cone.” And she know ice-cream’ probably give it the stomach-ache, but it keeps o hollering, and she buys it, and she knows darn well she’ be up all night with that kid’s stomach-ache, trying t make it lay down and be good, because poor fathe played thirty-six holes, and he needs his rest. Poo father! Say! Any time I talk that poor father stuf) Every lucky single girl knows the married ones are pre tending to pity the single ones without youngsters, caus they have nothing to live for. Poor things! All the jo;
they get outta life, is playing golf on Sunda with your husband.
What’s that, Maurine? What’s golf got t do with my wedding-night? Say, wait a mir ute! Don’t rush me. I’m coming to that.
Well, I’m telling you, radios have gol skinned to a fade-out, for making you tall bunk to the other girls.
When you can’t keep your man out on th porch with you, and all the rest of the crow are sitting around cozy in couples, and you man’s leaving a perfectly good girl like you ou on the porch all by your lone, while he goes i the house and worries the spooks, to mak them howl—what happens?
He’s got the nerve to get mad when you te him you can howl, too, just as good as statii and he can either take you or leave you; be you’ll be darned if you’ll be left alone most c the time, when there’s lots of perfectly goo men, drummers like him, and otherwise bette: that feel like they want to do something abou it if they see a pretty girl left all alone on dark porch on a nice warm night and nobod to talk to, or anything.
Well, first thing I knew, after I’d bawle him out a few times for neglect and desertior he says: “What say we get married righ away?”
Well, by that time, how did I know bu what, maybe, that was love talking, or mayb it was just so he could listen to the spook till crack of dawn with an easy mind, and knor I’d have to stay put because I was safe! married, which no man knows, because bein married doesn’t always mean you're mad o being lonesome!
Well, of course, I can’t talk about what fool married women are, because I’m married, toe although I must admit, I never feel it.
Maurine, that’ life! Take it from me! ] a man’s bugs on a thing, he’ bugs on a thing, and if yo! don’t like it, you can get use to it; especially after you’r married. Like lots of marrie girls I know. For instance: There’s lots of married girl goes around saying they’r tickled pink to get rid of thei husbands on Sundays, afte
golf starts in the spring, so they can have the whol afternoon to their selves to take the children for a nie walk, because father needs the flivver for golf. “Poo father!” they^ay, just like they meant it, “poor fathei cooped up in an office all week!”
I certainly didn’t feel it on my wedding
night! There was I, married six hours and some odd minutes that didn’t matter, sitting in an unknown railway-station, waiting for a strange train to take me back to home and mother. And I had a kind of a hunch I’d be about as popular as a cat you tried to kill, turning up again on my wedding-night, just like I didn’t know whether I was maid, wife, or widow, and Lord knows I was fed up on the first two, and not so keen on the last!
While I waited the first half hour for that train, I thought I’d go stark, staring, raving mad, and static’d have nothing on me! And every time I thought of static, I felt I’d been ruined in every way, because of static, which means radio to me.
Well, I was sitting there in that unknown station—oh, gee, Maurine, gimme time! This is my wedding-night I’m telling you about, like I promised on the postcard!
Well, if you hadn’t butted in—I was going to say there was the best-looking man over in the corner of the railway-station. He was trying to look like he wasn’t looking at me every time I wasn’t looking at him, but I saw him, and, oh, gee, Maurine! It’s funny. You’d expect, being married, and all—. Well, anyway, there he was, and how was he to know he was looking at a married woman? Lord knows, I’m sure I didn’t look it, in my new hat and everything.
NOW, you know, Maurine, no girl could have been more patient or understanding about a silly man’s crazy old hobby, than I’ve been all along about this fool passion of Nutty’s for radios. If it had been another woman he was crazy about, I might have understood it, and probably wrung her neck for her. But why should us girls be neglected for a thing like that? It isn’t as though the world wasn’t full and running over with men that’d be tickled pink to help out when we’re lonesome; girls like you and me, I mean. Of course, lots of women are made for charity, and so on.
What I always say is I might have known what sort of a wedding-night I’d have after the sort of engagement I lived through. I’d have been crazy not to know. But I bet, when Nutty peeked in our compartment that night, it wasn’t me that was crazy!
Wait a minute. Don’t rush me. I’m telling it!
That night, I quite agreed with mother about men in general. You know, she joined a hen-bridge-club six weeks after father bought his radio She got fed up on father’s back after he’d tried for six solid weeks, dark till dawn, to get Cuba. Of course, father sort of sat up after she broke loose and joined the bridge-club. She hates bridge, but what else could she do, poor mother. Father said he didn’t care if he never got Cuba this side of the grave, if she was going to start cutting up at her age. And mother told him what a man deserves to get the other side of the grave, if he listens to a radio every darn night, and breaks a faithful, loving woman’s heart that way-— well ,
Mother says, in case justice slips up and he doesn’t get it on the other side, give it to him now, while you’ve got him!
I don’t know but what mother’s right. I’m not much on this meek stuff. Maybe the meek do inherit the earth. But, I say, let them, if they like getting things that way.
I’ll take a chance!
Well, after supper, on my wedding-night — well, gee, I’ve been telling about it all along, but you wouldn’t listen — we were talking about one thing and another, and Nutty said it was perfectly darling of me to say “obey”, after all, in the vedding-service. I lidn’t explain that didn’t say it to
be “darling.” I said it before I thought. I was rattled, and I didn’t realize we were that far on in the service. But, of course, I said I thought it was pretty nice of me, too, only he needn’t start giving orders, to see how it felt to be obeyed, because obeying has never been one of my famous habits.
Well, I was telling you about the good-looking man in the railway-station.
I really didn’t mean to smile, when I looked at him, but I had to smile when I thought of Nutty’s face, when he peeked into our compartment, and found he’d all the time on earth to amuse himself any old darn way he liked! I didn’t care! I just had to smile, when I thought of his face!
It didn’t matter, anyway. A person has to smile once in a while, even if they have sat for an hour and seven minutes and everything, and their husband forgets they’re alive!
Well, when I thought of Nutty coming to our compartment in dead of night, and me not there—I smiled straight at the good-looking man, although it wasn’t him I was smiling at, if you know what I mean?
Well, of course, a good-looking man always knows it’s him, and why not, after all? I always say, you only live once.
So he smiled back. Then he came over to where I was sitting, and he says: “We’re having a long wait, but it’s only an hour more.” “Yes,” I said; and, thinking of Nutty, I smiled at him again.
“An hour needn’t be long,” he said; “not in good company.”
“No?” I said.
Well, after a minute, he was still smiling at me, so I said:
“You might as well sit here beside me, if we have to be bored to tears for an hour, anyway.”
For some reason, he stayed standing, and stopped smiling.
“I wonder if I quite got that last remark?” he said, sort of funny; so I had to say it again.
“Sit down with me, and I think the time’ll go fast enough,” I repeated. He certainly had beautiful teeth.
Well, by degrees, not all at once, I told him all about my wedding-night.
He asked me where I came from, and Ijsaid: “Montreal.”
He asked where I was going, and I said“Montreal.”
He asked where my home was, and I said: “Montreal.”
He asked me where my folks were, and I said: “Montreal.”
He looked sort of funny, and asked me where I was born, and I said: “Montreal.”
He sat quiet for quite a while after that, and he looked sort of sad, so I started the conversation this time. I asked where he was going, and he laughed, and said: “I hate to do this—
Well, I thought he was trying to get a little bit fresh, so I said: “I may not look it, but I’m a married woman!” “Good for you!” he said, and I thought it was sort of queer. “I knew we’d get out of Montreal some time to-night, if we kept on going!”
I thought maybe he’d been drinking, so I said nothing. After a while, he said, “Married long?”
I told him: “Long enough; six hours and fifty-seven minutes.”
He looked all around, and asked where the boss was. “If you mean my husband, he’d never know his self by any such a title,” I told him, and I never smiled. I wasn’t sure if he was a gentleman in every sense of the word.
“I imagine he might not—in 1926,” he said, sort of sad again. “But where is he?”
Well, I told him that Nutty went through that railway-station in a compartment-car, at eleven fifteen. That he went through, and I got off.
He sat up, and looked at me, sort of interested. “Don’t tell me if you don’t want to,” he said, “but your story intrigues one!”
I never think that’s a very nice word for a gentleman to use to a lady, but I don’t know what he meant, so I said: “Have you a radio?”
“Most startling of women, I have not,” he said.
I didn’t like him calling me names, but I said: “Have you a vife?” and he said, sort of stupid, that he was not sure—that he had one when he left Montreal last week.
“Make your choice,” I told him. “Decide which you’ll keep. There’s not room for both in one house.”
“Lady,” he said to me, “I have only one wife. I have no choice. Has anybody?”
So then I knew he was pretty dumb, and I explained I meant to make his choice between a radio and a wife. He said something about both having their good points,
Continued on page 59
The Radio-Hound’s Bride
Continued from page 15
but you knew what you could do with a radio when you’d had enough!
Well, then I told him how I happened to get off the train, and sort of bust up my wedding-night, you might say. Well, Maurine! the next time I tell you a story, I’ll let you tell it yourself. I never saw anybody so impatient!
I told him that me and Nutty sat in our compartment for a while after dinner, and along about ten o’clock, Nutty said he guessed he’d go into the chair-car for a while, because a compartment isn’t so very wide, and unpacking a suit-case, and everything, well! So he went.
At half-past ten, he hadn’t come back; nor at eleven. I thought maybe he’d had a stroke, or something. His father died of erysipelas, or epilepsy, one of those things that takes fits. So I crept along the corridor in my new pink kimono, and, Maurine, you’ll never believe what he was doing—listening to the radio!
I read some place, “there’s a high moment in every woman’s emotional life.” That was mine. I went right up in the air! I was that mad, I just stood and looked at his sub-conscious back. Then I heard him say, and I’ll never forget it, to my dying day, he said: “Djever get Cuba?”
The operator, not knowing it was his wedding-night, said he often got Cuba, between eleven and two a.m., in the morning.
Well, Maurine, what could I do? You can’t stand in a train and holler to your husband—well, anyway, I had to go back to the compartment alone. I waited; and waited; and waited. I know now what makes murderers.
Well, along about half-past twelve, the conductor passed along the corridor, and I called to him and I asked him to come in and tell me what trains went back to Montreal that night. He looked at me kind of funny, and said he’d get me a time-table, so he went away.
I never could read a time-table properly, because I can’t stand on my head, and that’s the only way a sane person could make anything out of one of those crazy things, with “read up”, and “read down” all over the place. The only time I ever tried to figure one out, I found the train I was on, was coming back, instead of going, and that I’d get home the day before yesterday, instead of the day after to-morrow.
So when the conductor came back with the time-table, I certainly wasn’t going to make that much effort in my high moment, so he found it for me, and said he knew all the time about the one that went through the next station at three a.m. in the early morning; but he wanted to see what others there were. I told him I couldn’t take more than one; one was plenty. Imagine me having to explain a simple thing like that. Isn’t that just like a railway official?
Well, then he came in and sat down on the side of the bed. I was in bed, in my new pink kimono. He asked me, as solemn as anything, if that was my husband, listening to the radio, in the chaircar.
I said, if it was someone listening to a radio, he could bet it was my husband.
He said: “Girlie! Tell me the truth! Are you sure that young man in the brown check suit, and brown derby, is your husband?”
I sat right up in bed, and I said that if I didn’t know who was my husband, and who wasn’t my husband, I guessed I’d better go back to my mother, and ask her to lock me up.
Sure, Maurine, I told the good-looking man all this, just like I’m telling you. He was awfully interested.
The conductor said it mightn’t be a bad idea, at that. He got awfully solemn. He said:—
“Girlie, you take my tip. I’m old enough to be your father—” Say, Maurine, when they start that gag—well—
He went on talking like that. He said: “Do what ever your conscience tells you, girlie. If you feel you want to get off this here train, and go back to the safety of your mother’s arms—if it’s not too late, girlie—”
“It’s only twenty-five to one,” I told him. “That’s nothing in my young life!”
Well, he patted my hand and said
“God bless you, girlie, and show^you the right path.”
I thought he was going to let me off in some sort of a cow-pasture, or something, talking about paths. Anyhow, I got dressed again, all spitting mad at Nutty. We came to the jumping-off place,and I got off, and the conductor called after me: “God bless you, girlie. I knew you would repent.”
I was glad I had plenty money. Father gave me a hundred dollars,'because he said there was no use letting Nutty know, right off the bat, how extravagant I was, and it would save me asking him for money every five minutes on our honeymoon.
Well, the good-looking man listened till I got through, which is more than you did, Maurine! Then he asked me where I expected to get off, after doing a thing like that. I told him, Montreal!
He said he didn’t mean that. He said I’d better remember I was married, and that marriage wasn’t as easy to get out of as all that. He said, once you’re married, you gotta stay married, or you gotta have a whole lot better excuse than what I had!
I told him if there was one thing made me see red, it was for anyone to say to me, “You gotta.” Especially a perfect stranger.
He said: “I never heard anything so foolish in my life! I don’t know you very well, but I do know the law! It’s too silly to be credible!”
I said: “Of course the law’s silly; who said it wasn’t?” But it seems that wasn’t just what he meant. Does “credible” mean decent, Maurine? Search me!
He said I’d probably find out just how silly the law was if I tried leaving my husband every time I got mad. He asked me if I got no thrill at all out of the marvellous discovery, radio?
I said the radio didn’t seem any more wonderful to me than the telephone, or the gramaphone, or even the saxaphone!
He sorta groaned, at that. He asked me if I had no imagination. I said: “No, thank Heaven, I hadn’t.” Imagination gets you thinking things are that ain’t and never could be. I was pretty darn cold and dignified when I said that. Nothing freezes these fresh guys quicker than a little unexpected dignity after you’ve strung them along.
He said nothing ever gave him the thrill a radio did. He raved like a nut about the thing; talked about voices in the air; talked about sound-waves, and chloroform, and different anaesthetics, ether, and so on, till I thought I was cooped up in that station with a crazy man!
Then I remembered Nutty talking about chloroform-waves, or something, and trying to make me wise to how the thing worked out. But Lord! I got too much in my little old bean to take in everything at once; so I didn’t just get what Nutty had tried to tell me.
Say, Maurine, here’s where you get your jolt, same as I got mine. You gotta hand it to the spooks, after all! It is marvellous! There is something in this radio thing! I don’t expect you to grasp the ins and outs of it like I did, but— listen;
I said to the good-looking man that radio was not any more wonderful than the telephone, and not near as wonderful as the gramaphone. Cause why? Cause the gramaphone ran without any wires, and the telephone and radio—well, where’d they be if you cut their wires?
Say, you coulda blowed me down with a puff! That guy made me fully understand radio, for the first time. The darn thing has no wires! I know! I felt that way, too. Sorta fan-me-with-a-brick fade-away sensation in your brain, with shock!
When I got it straight, say, maybe I wasn’t ashamed! No wonder Nutty was crazy about it! He musta mistaken me for a dumbbell, when I couldn’t grasp it all! But he never really explained it right, or I would have got it long ago. A person isn’t a mind-reader, and he mixed me all up, talking about chloroform.
Well, the good-looking frost-bite sent a wire to Nutty, on the train—that’s something new, too. They can send them, and they not only send them, but you get them! Right on the train! Travel certainly broadens one!
He told Nutty, and signed my name,
that he’d gotta get off at some town, ^1 forget the name now, but it doesn’t matter, cause we stayed there that night, and will probably never go that way again. I was to take a train at seven in the morning that chased the train Nutty was on clear across the globe. And I’d catch Nutty at this little town I can’t remember the name of.
Well, everything turned out lovely. There was not a single radio in that town! And Nutty was so glad I hadn’t fallen off and broke my neck. I was spared, he said, so he could do it for me, next time I got funny!
What? Certainly not! Why should that good-looking refrigerator kiss me good-by? After he’d gone, I wished I’d powdered my nose!