Buttered Side Down: Stories
7. Maymeys From Cuba
There is nothing new in this. It has all been done before. But tell me, what is new? Does
the aspiring and perspiring summer vaudeville artist flatter himself that his stuff is going
big? Then does the stout man with the oyster-colored eyelids in the first row, left, turn his
bullet head on his fat-creased neck to remark huskily to his companion:
"The hook for him. R-r-r-rotten! That last one was an old Weber'n Fields' gag. They
discarded it back in '91. Say, the good ones is all dead, anyhow. Take old Salvini, now,
and Dan Rice. Them was actors. Come on out and have something."
Does the short-story writer felicitate himself upon having discovered a rare species in
humanity's garden? The Blase Reader flips the pages between his fingers, yawns,
stretches, and remarks to his wife:
"That's a clean lift from Kipling--or is it Conan Doyle? Anyway, I've read something just
like it before. Say, kid, guess what these magazine guys get for a full page ad.? Nix.
That's just like a woman. Three thousand straight. Fact."
To anticipate the delver into the past it may be stated that the plot of this one originally
appeared in the Eternal Best Seller, under the heading, "He Asked You For Bread, and
Ye Gave Him a Stone." There may be those who could not have traced my plagiarism to
Although the Book has had an unprecedentedly long run it is said to be less widely read
than of yore.
Even with this preparation I hesitate to confess that this is the story of a hungry girl in a
big city. Well, now, wait a minute. Conceding that it has been done by every scribbler
from tyro to best seller expert, you will acknowledge that there is the possibility of a
fresh viewpoint--twist--what is it the sporting editors call it? Oh, yes--slant. There is the
possibility of getting a new slant on an old idea. That may serve to deflect the line of the
Just off State Street there is a fruiterer and importer who ought to be arrested for cruelty.
His window is the most fascinating and the most heartless in Chicago. A line of open-
mouthed, wide-eyed gazers is always to be found before it. Despair, wonder, envy, and
rebellion smolder in the eyes of those gazers. No shop window show should be so
diabolically set forth as to arouse such sensations in the breast of the beholder. It is a
work of art, that window; a breeder of anarchism, a destroyer of contentment, a second
feast of Tantalus. It boasts peaches, dewy and golden, when peaches have no right to be;
plethoric, purple bunches of English hothouse grapes are there to taunt the ten-dollar-a-
week clerk whose sick wife should be in the hospital; strawberries glow therein when
shortcake is a last summer's memory, and forced cucumbers remind us that we are taking
ours in the form of dill pickles. There is, perhaps, a choice head of cauliflower, so