From the November 1944 magazine.

The Meditations of Old MR. Perelman on "Dynamic Drunks

In my painful profession, the sole point of which is to juxtapose familiar words into an unfamiliar pattern and thereby maintain a full head of steam in the boilers of my dependents, I have been thrown into contact with countless newspapermen. Most of these romantic and legendary creatures today, of course, are based on Hollywood, where they function as scenario-writers; the inconsiderable few who happened to be allergic to celluloid have gravitated into advertising, publicity, and radio. It goes without saying that the majority of them are not the noisy, colorful desperadoes of The Front Page but industrious, God-fearing tax-payers who like nothing better than a fast bout of parcheesi with their loved ones at eventide. Unluckily, as I look back on the pressmen I have known, my memory plays me a shabby trick. I cannot recall the quiet, sensible, prudent ones; all I remember is the series of dynamic drunks I have had the ill fortune to encounter at point-blank range, ever ready to share my last dollar with me, always eager for a romp that might result in a broken rib, a lawsuit, or a writ of attachment on my household goods.

There was, for example, the burly sports writer I ran into one evening in a Los Angeles bar while looking for my mother. Proclaiming his undying fealty, he draped himself about me like an Inverness cape, demanded that fresh casks of usquebaugh be broached, and began detailing his newspaper exploits. I was reasonably familiar with them, having heard him recount them annually the preceding ten years, but he held me in a grip of iron. At three a.m., just as he was modestly admitting he had solved the Halls-Mills case single-handed, the bartender civilly voiced a longing to retire. In the ensuing shower of broken glass, profanity, and fists, I escaped to my car, dragging my succubus after me. I was conveying him home to his bed (an act of sheer Christian charity, as I lived a dozen miles away), when I caught him staring fixedly at my chin. "What are you looking at?" I asked nervously. "Your jaw," he said vaguely, "I got an idea it's glass." Before I could throw a guard around it, he drew off and clipped it with a small steamer trunk welded to his wrist. I awoke a few minutes later on a mound of shredded Buick at the foot of a date palm. My friend had vanished, but he reappeared the next morning at the hospital bearing a peace offering, a quart of brandy which he drained at the bedside. As he arose to take leave of me, he gave me a piece of advice. "It's your own fault," he said sagely, "Alcohol and gasoline don't mix."

-- S. J. Perelman

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