My Matrimonial Bureau by Bill Nye

Story type: Literature

The following matrimonial inquiries are now in my hands awaiting replies, and I take this method of giving them more air. A few months ago I injudiciously stated that I should take great pleasure in booming, or otherwise whooping up, everything in the matrimonial line, if those who needed aid would send me twenty-five cents, with personal description, lock of hair, and general outline of the style of husband or wife they were yearning for. As a result of thus yielding to a blind impulse and giving it currency through the daily press, I now have a huge mass of more or less soiled postage stamps that look as though they had made a bicycle tour around the world, a haymow full of letters breathing love till you can’t rest, and a barrel of calico-colored hair. It is a rare treat to look at this assortment of hair of every hue and degree of curl and coarseness. When I pour it out on the floor it looks like the interior of a western barber shop during a state fair. When I want fun again I shall not undertake to obtain it by starting a matrimonial agency.

I have one letter from a man of twenty-seven summers, who pants to bestow himself on some one at as early a date as possible. He tells me on a separate slip of paper, which he wishes destroyed, that he is a little given to “bowling up,” a term with which I am not familiar, but he goes on to say that a good, noble woman, with love in her heart and an earnest desire to save a soul, could rush in and gather him in in good shape. He says that he is worthy, and that if he could be snatched from a drunkard’s grave in time he believes he would become eminent. He says that several people have already been overheard to say: “What a pity he drinks.” From this he is led to believe that a good wife, with some means, could redeem him. He says it is quite a common thing for young women where he lives to marry young men for the purpose of saving them.

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I think myself that some young girl ought to come forward and snatch this brand at an early date.

The great trouble with men who form the bowl habit is that, on the morrow, after they have been so bowling, they awake with a distinct and well-defined sensation of soreness and swollenness about the head, accompanied by a strong desire to hit some living thing with a stove leg. The married man can always turn to his wife in such an emergency, smite her and then go to sleep again, but to one who is doomed to wander alone through life there is nothing to do but to suffer on, or go out and strike some one who does not belong to his family, and so lay himself liable to arrest.

This letter is accompanied by a tin-type picture of a young man who shaves in such a way as to work in a streak of whiskers by which he fools himself into the notion that he has a long and luxuriant mustache. He looks like a person who, under the influence of liquor, would weep on the bosom of a total stranger and then knock his wife down because she split her foot open instead of splitting the kindling.

He is not a bad-looking man, and the freckles on his hands do not hurt him as a husband. Any young lady who would like to save him from a drunkard’s grave can address him in my care, inclosing twenty-five cents, a small sum which goes toward a little memorial fund I am getting up for myself. My memory has always been very poor, and if I can do it any good with this fund I shall do so. The lock of hair sent with this letter may be seen at any time nailed up on my woodshed door. It is a dull red color, and can be readily cut by means of a pair of tinman’s shears.

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The two following letters, taken at random from my files, explain themselves:



“TENNESSEE, January 2.}

“DEAR SIR–I am in search of a wife and would be willing to settle down if I could get a good wife. I was but twenty-six years of age when my mother died and I miss her sadly for she was oh so good and kind to me her caring son.

“I have been wanting for the past year to settle down, but I have not saw a girl that I thought would make me a good, true wife. I know I have saw a good deal of the world, and am inclined to be cynical for I see how hollow everything is, and how much need there is for a great reform. Sometimes I think that if I could express the wild thoughts that surges up and down in my system, I could win a deathless name. When I get two or three drinks aboard I can think of things faster than I can speak them, or draw them off for the paper. What I want is a woman that can economize, and also take the place of my lost mother, who loved me and put a better polish on my boots than any other living man.

“I know I am gay and giddy in my nature, but if I could meet a joyous young girl just emerging upon life’s glad morn, and she had means, I would be willing to settle down and make a good, quiet, every-day husband.

“A. J.”
“December 20.}

“DEAR SIR–I have very little time in which to pencil off a few lines regarding a wife. I am a man of business, and I can’t fool around much, but I would be willing to marry the right kind of a young woman. I am just bursting forth on the glorious dawn of my sixty-third year. I have been married before, and as I might almost say, I have been in that line man and boy for over forty years. My pathway has been literally decorated with wives ever since I was twenty years old.

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“I ain’t had any luck with my wives heretofore, for they have died off like sheep. I’ve treated all of them as well as I knew how, never asking of them to do any more than I did, and giving of ’em just the same kind of vittles that I had myself, but they are all gone now. There was a year or two that seemed just as if there was a funeral procession stringing out of my front gate half the time.

“What I want is a young woman that can darn a sock without working two or three tumors into it, cook in a plain economical way without pampering the appetites of hired help, do chores around the barn and assist me in accumulating property.

I. D. P.”

This last letter contains a small tress of dark hair that feels like a bunch of barbed wire when drawn through the fingers, and has a tendency to “crock.”

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