I have always felt that the only thing that makes Tuesday anywhere near acceptable is the fact that it follows Monday. I mean, if Tuesday is bad, you can always compare it to Monday. Well anyway, yesterday was no different from any other Tuesday and so, along about four o'clock I happened to be walking along Massachusetts Avenue with nothing special on my mind, when I saw Ruby the Barber lounging in his usual spot.
Now Ruby the Barber is one very interesting guy. An avid follower of the bang tales, Ruby has, through the years, developed an amazing insight into the general sporting picture. He was, at one time, a tonsorial expert at a small parlor in The Big Town and in his day he has hobnobbed with many of the laudable figures in the world of athletics.
As I said, it was Tuesday, and I stopped in. "Ruby," I said, "how is it going?"
To me," he replied, "it is sloppy. About 17 points off perfect."
Ruby, being a Barber, liked Tuesday a good deal better than I did, the shop being closed the following day.
"What is now in the world today?" I asked, sliding comfortably into the chair and pressing for a conversation.
"To me," he said, "there is very seldom anything that may be termed new. As a matter of fact," he said, "I was just speculating that life is pretty much like a race track. Each race is called a new one, you see, but they are all run around the same course. Some are five furlongs, some two miles. But it is all around the same track and so there is very little different about horse races and life."
"This is all very interesting to me, Ruby," I said. "I never realized that you were a philosopher. Is it something special that has brought about this attitude of despair?"
"Well," he said, "there was an item in the paper last week announcing that Mel Ott was retiring from baseball permanently to go back into the contracting business, the place where he was before old John McGraw brought him before the eye of the people."
"Ashes to ashes," I muttered, trying desperately to get off a small pun.
"Yes," said Ruby, "it is indeed the full cycle. And do you know what, son? I think it's a shame. A dirty shame. I think it is too bad about Master Melvin."
"There is a lot in what you say, Ruby, but we must remember one very important thing. When Master Melvin was at the helm, he didn't produce."
"That is exactly what I am driving at, son. When he was masterminding the New Yorks, the columns didn't balance the right way. Too many L's and not enough W's."
"It is very sad," I said, "but he was no Peerless Leader, no Leo."
"Son, you have hit the nail on the correct spot. The thing that hurts, and the thing that has wrapped me in this mantle of gloom is the reason why."
"You mean . . .?"
"Yes, what Leo said was true. Nice guys finish last, son, nice guys finish last."
"Ruby, that is a very sad commentary, a very sad commentary indeed."
"Yes, son, but it is all true. That is the life of the sporting world and it is all too true. Is there something else, son?"
"Yes," I said, sliding back in the chair. "Just a little bit more off the top, please."