1915, by A. F.
Killick and W.
THE WOES OF WOMAN.
"I feel for you, Smithy, but I can't reach you," Fatty Lewis declared. "You're not going to boost my temperature up to 108 just because you've got a broken arm. Furthermore, I'm saving my sympathy for Mrs. Lewis and the rest of the women. They need it."
"Ain't it tough enough to have a broken wing without getting a grilling from some sack like you?" Smith inquired.
"I'm sorry for you all right," Lewis admitted. "But you're lucky and you don't know it. S'posing you had a lot of things to bother you like Mrs. Lewis. Pretty soft for you that you wasn't born one of the weaker sex.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with her," Lewis continued. "It wouldn't surprise me a bit if I went home tonight and found her in a complete mental collapse. She was sure in an awful strain when I left the house. She was so worried that she'd lost her own appetite and had almost forgotten to get any breakfast for the rest of us."
"What's the matter with her?" Hurrah inquired. "Anything serious?"
"Serious!" Lewis repeated. "You'd better believe it was serious. And it wasn't one of them things where a person's got a week to make a decision. Mrs. Lewis had to decide this question between 7 o'clock in the morning and 2 o'clock in the afternoon. There was a meeting of her card club scheduled and the meeting was to be at a house near Thirty-first Street and Prospect Avenue.
" 'I don't know what I am to do,' Mrs. Lewis said to me, looking all worried and upset. 'If I go up and take an Independence Avenue car, I'll have to walk an extra block. I'll save one transfer, although it will take longer to make the trip. If I take a Jackson-Hardesty car I'll have to transfer at Fifteenth and Jackson and again at Fifteenth and Prospect, but I'll save walking that block, and if I make good connections I'll make better time.
" 'I simply don't know what to do,' she declared in an exhausted tone of voice.
" 'It's way over my head,' I replied. 'I wouldn't care to take the responsibility of advising you. In case you can't decide in the next three hours you better call up the hostess and have her put in a substitute for you. Maybe you'll be able to dope it out before the club meets at that house the next time. Don't take snap judgment on these important questions. A person's liable to make a mistake.
"I suppose I really should have remained at home this morning and helped her out," Lewis admitted, "because I really didn't have anything to do but hustle around and dig up $123.80 for the premium on some life insurance and also pay the gas, water and telephone bills.
"I realize I'm selfish," Lewis continued. "I don't assume the proper amount of responsibility at home. Here I go drifting along, following the lines of the least resistance. I don't have to do a thing but arrange to pay for the stuff that Mrs. Lewis purchases. I slough all the hard work off on my wife. She just gets brain fog designing and planning meals.
"You needn't laugh," Lewis declared, "It's no soft snap deciding whether to fry, scramble or boil the eggs and make coffee and toast and boil some oatmeal. It's no wonder these women break down and show their age sooner than men do. All the boob men have to do is to produce the food. The women do all the work and worrying.
"It's sure telling on Mrs. Lewis.
" 'A man hasn't the least conception in the world of all the things a woman has to do around the house," she often remarks. 'I just wish you had to stay around here about a week. You'd soon find out.'
" 'What do you think, dearie,' she says,
'Would you have two vegetables or just one vegetable and a salad?' "
" 'I know it, dearie.' I admitted. 'I know it's no cinch washing dishes three times a day, making up those three beds and doing all that sweeping and dusting. You're a wonder. I don't see how your mother and you are able to do it.'
"I tell you these women don't have no easy time," Lewis declared. "Why, no later than yesterday Mrs. Lewis answered the telephone three times and 'central' told her: 'No one on the line.'
" 'And I certainly told that 'central' something, too,' Mrs. Lewis declared when I got home. 'I know she just rings that bell to pester me. I've got a good notion to report her to the chief operator. I had to drop my crocheting and walk from the dining room clear out to the kitchen."
"I was genuinely sorry for her," Lewis declared. "It must be all of fifteen or sixteen feet from the dining room to the kitchen, and that poor woman had to make that trip three times in one afternoon. Here I'd been loafing all day. I'd only stood on my feet for twelve hours and probably walked ten miles.
" 'Them telephone girls are great kidders,' I told her. 'All they've got to do is to answer calls just as far as they can reach with either hand, and tell a lot of people who are too busy to look at the clock what time of day it is. They've got a couple of other jokes they spring --the party that called you is gone, and the wrong number. But if they get fresh with you just report 'em.'
"Besides 'central' there's the iceman," Lewis continued. "Mrs. Lewis has to walk clear out on the back porch every morning to see whether she needs twenty-five or fifty pounds of ice to last her until tomorrow. All she has to guide her in her decision is the amount of ice remaining in the box. If she makes a mistake and guesses wrong, she has to go to all the trouble of calling up the grocer and have him send over a dime's worth to tide her over till the iceman comes the next day.
"The huckster is another prime evil," Lewis added. "Mrs. Lewis simply has ato drop whatever she's doing and walk out to the street. Sometimes it takes five minutes to select enough vegetables to last two days. Now and then she has to make a hurry-up decision as to a choice between green corn and tomatoes. She usually decides this question by buying both corn and tomatoes.
"I didn't know women had all them worries," Hurrah remarked.
"That ain't worries," Lewis replied, "that's just routine, every day stuff. You ought to be around when we're going to have company. That's when the old wrinkle producing brain fog gets in its deadly work.
"Mrs. Lewis gets sadder than Hamlet. She raves and tears around just pawing up the linoleum. She gets all flustrated and don't know whether to have chicken or roast beef.
" 'What do you think, dearie,' she says, 'Would you have two vegetables or just one vegetable and a salad?' "
" 'I never took no domestic science course,' I tell her, 'use your own judgment.'
"After she settles the vegetable and salad question, old dessert bobs up to pester and annoy. Sometimes it takes her three days to decide whether to use some of her mince meat or to open up a can of cherries for her pies. Then comes the big problem.
" 'What'll she wear?'
" 'Do I like her pink or her black dress? or shall she wear the skirt to her blue suit with her black lace waist? Which looks the best?'
"The black lace waist looked the best to me when I was settling for the wardrobe, because it was the cheapest, but I know she likes the black dress so I decided that it's the proper racket.
"Of course what I'm to wear don't bother me a bit. I'll dress up in a perfectly good 1913 model that I've had for two winters and with good care and if the moths stay away next summer I'll probably wear it next season.
"That company stuff is what sends women to nerve specialists and forces them to take vacations to rest up after nervous breakdowns.
"Then there's a lot of petty annoyances," Lewis added. "Monday morning Mrs. Lewis can't go downtown before 9 o'clock because the laundry man hardly ever gets there before that time for the soiled clothes. Wednesday is another bad morning. That's when the clothes are returned. There's the guy that reads the gas meter and other that reads the water meter and the boy that collects for the paper. They come every month.
"Then there's solicitors, peddlers and beggars. And Mrs. Lewis has to run to the door every time she hears the mail carrier's whistle, although she only gets a letter every month or so. She has to watch where the department store wagons stop to see whose buying something new. Sometimes the wagons don't stop, and that means a waste of two or three minutes. On the level, I don't see how she has any spare time at all."
"I'll come in," Smith admitted, "I'd rather be a man with a broken arm than a woman."
"So would I," Lewis admitted. "It's pretty soft for us men folks."