The man who smiled at breakfast

PARKE CUMMINGS August 20 1955

The man who smiled at breakfast

PARKE CUMMINGS August 20 1955

The man who smiled at breakfast


MY EXPERIMENT is over and marked down as a dismal failure. It came about because I am altogether too impressionable. For years on end I had been reading cartoons and jokes about husbands who are too terse and grumpy when they get up in the morning. You know the type. They snarl at their family and then bury their nose in the morning paper, refusing to communicate with anyone.

One night recently, as I lay in bed, I started reflecting on this instead of having the common sense to get to sleep. “It is a crime,” I told myself, “that I too, like those surly characters in the cartoons, have so often inflicted this on my loved ones. Hereafter 1 shall turn over a new leaf. Tomorrow morning -and on all subsequent mornings — I shall be a model of cheerfulness, a veritable paragon of husbands, and I shall elevate my family’s spirits to the skies.”

I am not one to make a vow lightly and, on the following morning, I called across the room to my wife, Virginia, “Time to get up, my honey lamb—-and boy, do I feel swell!”

She opened an eye, glanced at me and shut it again.

“Yes-sirree!” I continued. “A new day has dawned, and is it a beauty! Not a cloud in the azure-blue sky! The birds are caroling their sweet songs, and the flowers are wafting their fragrance on the balmy air. And, sweetheart, you’re looking like a million! Roses in your cheeks. Had a mighty refreshing sleep, eh?” “You’d better go shave,” she muttered — between her teeth, it sounded.

1 then bounded cheerfully out of bed and bounded—equally cheerfully—into our son John’s room where I hailed him (cheerfully): “Rise and shine, oh son and heir! There’s another stimulating day ahead of you! What are your plans? Some baseball, mayhap? I wish I had time to play ball today. I feel like a million. I’ll bet I could hit one a mile! Or maybe you figure to go swimming. Ah, I’d like to do that too! With my energy I’ll bet I could smash a world’s record. — OH! What a beautiful morning—.”

Perhaps I put a little too much umph in that “OH!” My seventeen-year-old offspring appeared to wince, and then muttered something under his breath. It sounded a bit like “Drop dead, willya?” but I figured 1 must have misheard because no son of mine would think of addressing a remark like that to his dad— especially a dad in such high spirits.

It was young Patsy’s turn to absorb my rays of cheer next, and I saw to it that I put every bit as much good feeling and affection into them as I did with the other members of my family. I loathe discrimination. “Time to arise and display your beauty and grace to the world!” I announced. “And how is Miss Universe of 1962? As full of vim and health and high spirits as I am, I trust. What a joy it is to be alive!

Oh, when my sugar walks down the street, ; the little birdies go tweet-tweet-tweet—.” Patsy’s color had looked wonderful when entered the room, but now I noticed that it ha suddenly drained from her face. “Are you a right?” I asked.

To this she made a puzzling reply. “A you?” she retorted.

I am slow at shaving, and when I got to ti breakfast table I noted my family there consultation, their voices muted. When appeared they stopped talking. “Already it taken effect,” I mused to myself happily, “j appreciation of the new side of my nature —1> friendly cheerful side—they’re planning sot gift. A set of golf clubs, perhaps, or a spc jacket or a new fly rod or—” I dismissed sit thoughts as .self-seeking and unworthy.

“Let’s have music!” I exclaimed. “Muwith our meals -that’s the ticket. Put th new mam 1)0on the record player, and moth and I will give a little demonstration of—.” At this point my spouse guided —or sort shoved—me into my seat. “Here’s the morni: paper,” she said, thrusting it in front of n face. I see there’s talk of the taxes going—.” “Dash politics on a wonderful morning ii this!” I said. “Let us converse in spright fashion. Let our spirits soar until they ha reached-—.”

Again the paper was thrust at me, this tit by John. “Here’s the sports page,” he sai “Our Davis Cup team—.”

“Nay, nay,” I objected -cheerfully—“I a a changed man. No longer can the printed wo compete with the charms of the most delightf: the most charming family a man was ev fortunate enough to—.”

“Daddy,” interrupted Patsy, “if you feel much like being noisy and acting silly wou you mind going out to the kitchen to eat?” I looked for my wife and son to rebuke h for this callous request, hut no rebuke w forthcoming. Instead John muttered sorr thing, and this time I heard him distinct! “You’ve got something there,” he said to 1 sister, as their mother nodded in agreement.

But I am a man who can take a hint, ant took it. If I reformed in a hurry I de-reform even more hurriedly. The next morning, wh I got to the breakfast table I growled: “G¡ me some coffee, and I hope it’s hot for a chan; And quit hogging the paper, John! Hand here!—Patsy, will you quit sniffling and ha the common decency to wash your face wb you get up in the morning and—.”

Just then the phone rang, and Virgi: answered it. There was some preliminary o versation, and then I heard her reply: “Pari Oh, he seems to be all right.” To which I added the word “again.”

Yep, I’ve learned my lesson. Come arou and have breakfast with me someday, and i promise to snarl and snap at you in a go healthy normal fashion, if

After years oí snarling aL the children, complaining about the coffee and burying bis nose in the paper, this man turned into a morning rav oi sunshine. Bui not for long