Sunday, September 4, 2011

The "Defaulting Woman" (Alimony Racket) - 1927


FULL TEXT: Ed’s friends are worried about him.

Pretty tough to see a fine fellow like that going lo the dogs!

“Sally ought to get wise, to herself,” they say. “How does she expect to hold her home together it she jumps the job like that? Wonder if there’s another fellow.”

They’re wrong there. There’s no other fellow. Sally loves Ed as much as she can love anyone besides Herself and Her Children and Her Family. The whole trouble is this—Sally has never really counted Ed as one of Her Family. He’s only a husband, that’s all, and husbands take second place in Sally’s affections.

Sally was a “home girl.” Never had been away from her home a night in her life until she married Ed. Maw and Dad Smith, Brother Jim and Sister Flo, these four bounded Sally’s world.  Their opinions were the only opinions worth quoting. Their desires were of primary importance. The little town in which they lived was the only town on earth worth living in.

Then came Ed, and for a brief period of feverish delight Nature had her way with Sally. For three months Sally thought of someone besides herself and Her Family. When she came out of it Sally was living 2,000 miles away from her home town and her name was Mrs. Ed.

She felt like a stranger – and in some queer way she blamed Ed for all her suffering. She has never ceased to feel like a stranger, and beneath her seeming devotion her resentment toward Ed has steadily increased. Maw and Dad and Jim and Flo have helped it increase. Nearly every mail brought a letter saying how they missed her. And what a wonderful party Stell Briggs had just given. And how Maw was sorta ailing and hadn’t really been the same since Sally left home. An’ if she’d only married one of the home boys how different things would have been. An’ when was she coming home for a visit?

When was she coming home for a visit? That was the constant question in Sally’s heart and on her tongue. She began asking it before they had been married three months. She asked it with tears and bitterness before each of the two babies were born. And always devoted, distracted Ed had but one answer.

“Gosh, Sally, you know I’d love to send you back for a vacation if I could, but where are we going to get the money to do it? I’ve gone so in debt for the house and car. Can’t you be patient a little longer, honey?”

And Sally would look at him, with hate in her small, shallow eyes. He was cruekl and stingy, that’s what he was. Keeping her away from the folks when they needed her so, and she was just sick with homesickness. So at last, after one final tantrum, Ed borrowed the money, and Sally went home to visit the folks.

That was five months ago. Sally is still visiting the folks. And she refuses to come back to Ed. If he loves her he’ll come to her and get a job in Greenville.

“But, Sally, I’m just making my start out here,” protests Ed, by special delivery. “We own the house here, and you know I’m in line for advancement.”

That makes no difference to Sally. If he loved her he’d come. He wouldn’t expect her to go through all that suffering again. Besides Maw is poorly and needs her. She can’t desert Maw.

She can’t “desert Maw,” but she can desert Ed. And Ed is going the way of all deserted things. For a while he moped around, looking seedy and down on his oats. Then he started to taking a drink now and then to brace himself up. Got his dinner downtown — it was so fierce, going back to that lonely house. Looking at the kids’ toys— and the little blue slipper Sally used to wear. Going home to a dirty, lonely house — lots more fun to go to a swell little joint where a fellow could get a drink. Pretty soon he was one of a “gang of good eggs”. Good eggs? They look more like bad eggs, say Ed’s friends. Noisy bleached women, hard-eyed men – a tough outfit. But their cheap friendliness warm the heart of a lonely man. It’s better than going home.

And Sally stops back with Maw and Paw and lets the neighbors pity her because her husband doesn’t love her enough to come after her.

Sally thinks she’s a dear, sweet home girl. She’s not. She’s the meanest kind of a slacker and cheat. She let a man build his faith on her. She went with him into a Going Business. She tied up all he had to give of youth and ambition and love. And then, because she was too stingy of soul to do her share, she took her children and left him bankrupt of faith or hope.

Some day Sally is going to hear how Ed is “carrying on” and she’s going to be perfectly furious and divorce him and feel frightfully abused if he won’t give her alimony. Would you give an absconding cashier heavy alimony? For that’s what Sally is!

[Elsie Marlowe, “Wives Who Bankrupt Husbands Of Hope - No One Ever Thinks of Paying Alimony to Absconding Cashier, So Why Pay a Defaulting Woman” Premier Syndicate, Inc.), Jan. 11, 1927, p. 11]

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For more revelations of this suppressed history, see The Alimony Racket: Checklist of Posts

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