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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Viktor Rákosi (Sipulus) (1860–1923)

The Summer Outing

I BELONG to those inhabitants of Budapest who must spend the summer in the country on pain of not being received back into society in autumn. Heaven is my witness that I would rather remain in Budapest, and not depart by a hair’s breadth from my accustomed ways; but at the very beginning of summer my wife watches how many blinds are down in the neighborhood, indicating that people have gone away for the summer. Then the little woman gets hold of me, smiles her sweetest smile, and says, “My dear, bring home a few pounds of moth-powder.” As soon as the children hear this they skip with delight, and cry, “Now we’re going to the country! Papa is going out for powder!”

Our stay in the country is preceded by an enormous washing of linen, a cleaning up of unheard-of dimensions, and a failure of the children’s appetite. My children do their mother the favor of looking pale and delicate at the very beginning of the summer. If they look so in winter I am accused of surreptitiously feeding them on sweets; but in summer they are held to be accustomed to that unhealthy diet. What they need is change of air. “The doctor says so too!”

The doctor! Before that mandate all husbands are helpless. Of course, the doctor sends all his patients away, in order that he may himself go.

My wife carefully reads the newspaper accounts of the city’s health, but only in early summer. Thus, at breakfast she can tell me just how many cases of measles and diphtheria there are in the town, and how many of these have resulted fatally. Then she pets the children, and says, “If only we were out of this unhealthy town!”

One day a new disease was reported in the paper. My wife exclaimed: “Frightful! A new disease, and all who got it have died of it.”

I looked into the paper. One case was reported, and that had indeed ended fatally. Such is the mind of woman.

To avoid any misunderstanding, I wish to add that I never, by word or act, give my wife reason to think that we are not going on our trip. It was an unbroken custom of ours to go….

One year we went to a very fashionable Hungarian resort. There I had to fight four duels: one with a gentleman who stared at my wife, one with a gentleman at whose wife I stared, the third with the physician of the place, who gathered practise by forcing duels on the guests, and the fourth with the director of the place, because I remarked on the poor quality of the food.

The next year we went to a watering-place of the second class. There was nothing to eat and drink but bitter cheese and sweet milk. Furthermore, the town had a dispute with the manager of the summer hotel, and so the farmers drove their cattle across the promenade. Two months it was the chief business of my life to fight cows, and to this day if I meet a cow I give her a push, and if a cow meets me she runs.

The next summer we tried Budakezs. But there the guests held a fair every night for the benefit of Suabian children, for whom boots and shoes were to be procured, although they looked upon the articles with increased mistrust….

And then in the autumn we come back, worn out, to our dear old Budapest, and sing the praises of our summer resort so vigorously that in the course of a fortnight we really begin to believe we have had a good time.

During the third week we commence reviling the capital, and next summer we flee to the country again.