Baltimore Evening Sun (18 September 1911): 6.
All Baltimoreans may be divided into two classes–those who think that the Emerson Tower is beautiful and those who know better.
The lesson for the day is from the code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon (B. C. 2285-2242), the fifth article.
Let us, by all means, increase the water rents by 30 per cent. and so save 12 cents on the tax rate. The actual gain to the taxpayers of Baltimore will be $00,000,000–but how well the ensuing flapdoodle about the low tax rate will sound.
The aim of an Old-Fashioned Administration, it appears, is to woo and delight the ears. The common people have no noses.
During the past week I have received nine letters from moralists, all protesting, and with considerable acrimony, against late remarks in this place upon the virtues of swearing, vivisection, Sabbath-breaking and tobacco chewing. It may be only an accident that seven of the nine are anonymous. However–
A box of prime five-cent cigars to anyone who will give me the name of one barber who can depilate a male visage from the eaves of the ears to the base of the larynx without once disinterring the dermis, reversing the epidemic scales or introducing saponaceous or saprophagous substances into the buccal orifice. If such a master exists, he gets my trade. But I doubt that he exists.
Why is it, indeed, that barbaric skill is so all-fired rare among barbers. It is the common belief of the craft that those men who shave themselves–a rapidly increasing number—do so to save the fee and tip. A sentimental delusion! A superstition! As a matter of fact, most men who shave themselves do so because that is the only way to get rid of facial flora without pain and disgust. Not one barber in 5,000 can shave a client without abrading the skin. Not one in 10,000 can do it without getting soap or witch hazel or some other such revolting stuff into the client’s mouth.
A cleanly and fastidious man views all barber shops with horror. He believes, perhaps, that somewhere in this great republic, in some shop or other, there is at least one barber who actually knows how to barb, but bitter experience has told him that he is not likely to strike that barber. So he buys half a dozen razors, a brush and a cake of soap and proceeds to shave himself—cleanly, safely, quickly—and with dignity.
Let me not be unfair to the barbers. Their gross and lamentable incompetence is not unique. It extends to all the so-called skilled trades. A tinroofer who can put on a tin roof so that it will last for five years, without once springing a leak, is a man so rare that we may well represent him by the sign of minus infinity. A plumber who actually knows how to plumb—a master of every little trick and quirk of the plumbing art–a fellow who can lay a pipe that will never brurst and never freeze–is just as rare. And where is the carpenter who drives every nail straight, who saws off every board exactly square? Where is the paperhanger whose paper never peels? Where is the upholsterer whose Morris chairs are without lumps? Where is the piano mover who never breaks a pedal or scratches a leg? Where is the cook who never spoils a broth?
Alas! the whole world is made horrible by the inefficiency of so-called experts. The dentist who can pull a tooth wtthout also pulling a yard at two of arteries and cartileges is rare as the motorman who can start or stop his car without dislodging the spleens of his passengers. Find me a cigarmaker who can make 1,000 perfect cigars in succession, or even 100, and I’ll buy you all he makes. Find me a professor of English who can write 600 words without at least three errors, and I’ll eat 40 dictionaries in 40 days. Even the greatest of tenors, for all his professional passion for discord, often blunders into the key. Even the best bartender, for all his intellect and ardor, occasionally puts a Maraschino cherry into a Martini.
From all persons who lift their eyebrows when one mentions sauerkraut, and from fat women who loll grotesquely in automobiles, and from the saccharine flapdoodle of F. Hopkinson Smith, and from the theory that Edgar Allan Poe was a great poet, and from school commissioners who feel that the experience won’t do them no harm, and from the key of B flat minor, and from cold dinner plates, and from woolen lingerie, and from the new thought melodramas of Augustus Thomas, and from boils on the neck, and from pragmatosm, and from Brussels carpets, and from barbers with pale, freckled hands, and from neighbors who do not drug their children at night, and from German waiters wearing detachable shirt fronts, and from lumbago, and from tight collars, and from young pests selling tickets for church fairs, and from bassos with prominent Adam’s apples, and from persons who believe that chewing tobacco is sinful, and from theatre orchestras which begin business with the “Raymond” overture, and from patriotism in all its hideous forms, and from cigars that won’t draw, and from the struggle for existence, and from argumentative Christian Scientists, and from church bells which break into matutinal dreams of wealth, and from grass butter, and from newspaper reporters who describe a police station marriage as “romantic,” and from reporters who say that “their friendship ripened into love,” and from squeaky piano pedals, and from leaky raincoats, and from obscene novels by lady novelists, and from cold, drizzly Monday mornings, and from the Emmanuel Movement, and from delirium tremens, and from husbands who bore their friends with depressing tales of domestic differences, and from amateur dramatic critics, and from beer mugs with slippery handles, and from sticky doorknobs, and from street car conductors who are new to the line and don’t know the names of the streets, and from scissors that can’t be found when cuffs are to be trimmed, and from Maryland cooking, and from the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and from psychical research, and from Martini cocktails, and from adult males who wear diamonds, and from all boosters for tin-pot fraternal orders, and from Chinese restaurants, and from dogs too aristocratic to have fleas, and from disconcerting queries from the proof-room, and from seasickness, and from clothes pressers who send the clothes home damp, and from the initiative and referendum, and from the Prestonian brand of guff, and from “Dixie,” and from anti-vaccinationists, and from Fletcherism, and from vaudeville, and from the doctrine of infant damnation, and from bier-fisch, and from loose rugs on hardwood floors, and from lavender hosiery, and from persons who believe that “alright” is an English word, and from the
[To Be Concluded Later On.]