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Letters to Nowhere

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pretty damn seldom....

I happened to think of this today, and it sort of reflects how I anticipate my married life will be. I came across this on a thin sheet of old typing paper, written up decades ago.

I remember when I was little how my mother used to say that a soft answer turneth away wrath, but I always thought Father's system...a gay answer...was better. Later I discovered the best system of all, and I don't mean no answer; for you don't get anywhere in married life not having an answer.

It was a Chinese traveler who evoked the magic formula which makes quarreling almost impossible for my wife and me. One day, late for his train, he rushed over to the station baggage room, threw his check on the counter and demanded his bag. The attendant couldn't find it. As precious minutes went by, the Chinese finally could stand it no longer. He pounded the counter with his fist and yelled, "Pretty damn seldom where my bag go. She no fly. You no more fit run station than godsake. That's all I hope!"

Before hearing this, when anything of mine got mislaid around the house, I used to scream like a wounded banshee. But now I merely holler, "pretty damn seldom where my papers go!" In the old days, my wife used to come back snappily with, "IF you put your papers where they belong, you'd know where to find them!"-which is sheer nonsense.

I found the only answer to such a remark was, "You no more fit run house than godsake!", which put her in her place, until she learned to retort, "That's all I hope!", stopping the argument.

In silly old days I used to moan, "Why don't you fill out your cheque stubs properly?" Now I just say, "Pretty damn seldom where my money go. She no fly." And I get just as far as I ever did, which is exactly nowhere. As for the children, we never quarrel anymore about who is spoiling which. One of us merely look at the other and says in a resigned way, "you no more fit run children than godsake!" Which nobody can deny.

Well, there is is. Pretty damn seldom where you happiness go. She no fly. But if you don't try this next time instead of quarreling, you no more fit run marriage than godsake.

That's all I hope.


  • I have one source of that, was in a compilation of Reader's Digest stories, it was written by J.P. McEvoy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:30 PM  

  • I read this story in a Reader's Digest book years ago and have been trying to find it again. Do you know what book it was in?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:41 AM  

  • My Dad just emailed this to me ... says it ran originally in Reader's Digest in the 1950s

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:54 PM  

  • It's in my Reader's Digest book, How to Live With Life, printed in 1965. Reading Chapter 4,The Merry War Between Men and Women, is a great way to start the day.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:52 AM  

  • Today is 5-25-14. For some reason, this story came to mind this morning. I remember reading it in the Reader's Digest as a young kid in the 50s. I remember trying the author's solution on my folks, but the word "damn" was not allowed in our house, especially coming from an 8-year old. Anyway, after my random morning thought, I goggled "pretty damn seldom" and there is was. Wonderful memory from more than 6 decades ago. Thanks to whomever posted it.

    By Anonymous rev pops, at 11:16 AM  

  • The Cornell Daily Sun, October 5, 1934, p.4 is the earliest version of this story that I can find. The character is Chinese, and the phrasing is somewhat less absurd than the most commonly seen version (though still plenty silly). As for the quotation and story, I suspect it is completely made up.

    By Anonymous Al de Baran, at 9:08 PM  

  • For some reason today (9/19/16), the quote, "pretty damn seldom where my bag go" came to mind. Although I recalled it was based on a joke my mother had read in Reader's Digest, and used exactly as the author above uses it to express frustration at the loss of something, be it tangible or otherwise, I couldn't remember the full joke. But God Bless Uncle Goggle. I entered what I remembered and was fortunate to find the full joke again, and comfort taken in the human condition that has lead others to savor what we must all sound like trying to communicate non-fluently in a foreign language.

    By Blogger maggie dukes, at 5:01 PM  

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