Once there was a Married Man who had two Friends whom he had not given up, even to oblige the Missus. They were two Men whom he had known since Boyhood’s Happy Days away back in Sleepy Hollow. Once in a while the Man would have the Two around to the House for Dinner.
Of these two Friends, one was a Gusher and the other a Grouch.
The Gusher was eternally bubbling over with Compliments and Kind Wishes. Whenever he met an Acquaintance he handed him a rhetorical Yard of Daisies and then smeared him with Sweet Endearments. His talk never had any specific Purport. It was unadulterated Con. The Gusher should have been in the Diplomatic Service. One of his hot Specialties was to get up at Dinner Parties and propose Toasts. He would hot-air the Ladies until they flushed Crimson from the Joy of being hot-aired. Even if the Speech was known to be cut-and-dried Blarney, it never failed to swell the Adorable Creatures, as he called them.
He had a pump-handle Shake for every Man he met, and after the second Day he called him Old Fellow and inquired as to his Health in a Tone of trembling Solicitude and picked little pieces of Lint off his Coat.
“I know it’s Guff,” the Man would say after the Gusher had passed on, “but my Stars! He can ladle out that Soothing Syrup and never spill a Drop.”
The Grouch, on the other Hand, gave a correct Imitation of a Bear with a Sore Toe. His Conversation was largely made up of Grunts. He carried a Facial Expression that frightened little Children in Street Cars and took all the Starch out of sentimental Young Ladies. He seemed perpetually to carry the Hoof-Marks of a horrible Nightmare. Some said that he had been Blighted in Love and had soured on the Universe. Others imagined that his Liver was out of Whack. At any rate, he was shy on Sweetness and Light. His Dial suggested a Map of the Bad Lands and he was just out of Kind Words. He could Knock better than he could Boost.
When the Gusher would arise at the Dinner Table to blow Bubbles and distribute Candy, the Grouch would slide down in his Chair until he was resting on his Shoulder Blades. He seemed to have a Calomel Taste in his Mouth as he listened to the musical drip of the Mush-and-Milk. That kind of Language went with some People, but nix for Sweeney!
The Wife of the Married Man liked the Gusher and tolerated the Grouch.
Every time the Gusher came into the Flat, he held her Hand a little longer than necessary and looked into her Hazel Eyes and told her she was becoming Younger and more Charming every Day. After a Woman turns the 30 Corner, those Speeches are worth a Dollar a Word, because she finds herself Guessing at times. Husband never was jealous. He knew that the Gusher told every Woman the same thing, playing no Favorites.
When the Grouch came to see them, he said “How are you?” and then began to kick on the Weather and tell about his Rheumatism. One thing was certain. The Grouch never would break up any Happy Homes. And it was predicted that he would never get a Wife unless he took her on a Mortgage.
Every Husband has a few Friends who come in for hard Raps from the Wife. And the Grouch got all that was coming to him. She used to declare up and down that she was going to break his Plate and revoke his License. Husband would remind her that he and the Grouch had roomed together at College and done the Comrades Act ever since they were Boys. He would assure her that the Grouch was a Good Fellow, but you had to know him thirty or forty years before you found it out. He would smooth her down and straighten out her Feathers and she would agree to give the Grouch just one more Chance.