Born Yesterday

by Garson Kanin

My point is you can*t do me no harm if you make me out to be a mugg. Maybe you*ll help me. Everybody gets scared, and for me that*s good. Everybody scares easy. You can*t hurt me. All you can do is build me up or shut up. Have a drink. I thought you wanted to intraview me. (A pause.) I was born in Jersey. Plainfield, New Jersey. 1907. I went to work when I was twelve years old and I been workin* ever since. I tell you my first job. A paper route. (He pronounces it ‘rowt.*bought a kid out with a swift kick in the keester. And I been working ever since. I tell you how I*m the top man in my racket. I been in it over twenty-five years. In the same racket Junk. Not steel. Junk. Look, don*t butter me up. I*m a junk man. I ain*t ashamed to say it. Lemme give you some advice, sonny boy. Never crap a crapper. I can sling it with the best of ~em! I tell you. I*m a kid with a paper route. I got this little wagon. So on my way home nights, I come through the alleys pickin* up stuff. I*m not the only one. All the kids are doin* it. Only difference is, they keep it. Not me. I sell it. First thing you know, I*m makin~ seven, eight bucks a week from that. Three bucks from papers. So I figure out right off which is the right racket. I*m just kid, mind you, but I could see that. Pretty soon, the guy I*m sellin* to is handin* me anywheres from fifteen to twenty a week. So he offers me a job for ten! Dumb jerk. I*d be sellin* this guy his own stuff back half the time and he never knew. (Relishing the memory.) Well, in the night, see, I*m under the fence (A shovel-like gesture with both hands) and I drag it out (He does so.) and load up. (Puts stuff on his back.) In the morning (Tracing the way with a wide arc.) I bring it in the front way and collect! (Pockets imaginary money, gleefully.) So pretty soon I owned the whole yard. This guy, the jerk? He works for me now. (Happily.) And you know who else works for me? That kid whose paper route I swiped. (Magnanimously.) I figure I owe ‘im. (Modestly.) That*s how I am..

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