Sunday, July 6, 2008

When Your Honey's On The Telephone

July 6, 2008
Dear S. D.,

Thank you for contacting the Robert Benchley Society. In response to your inquiry–
I have been carrying a phrase in my head since teen age that I think is from a Robert Benchley Essay.

Something like:

".... I've got my honey on the telephone....."

Can you find the original for me?
I believe you have in mind George S. Kaufman's "When Your Honey's On The Telephone," published in The New Yorker, February 22, 1958, p. 29

The writer likes honey for breakfast. Sometimes the telephone rings during this meal. When he takes the phone off the cradle the wire dangles over the honey saucer just close enough to pick up the merest daub of honey. Once he wiped it off, and transferred it succesively to the telephone instrument, dial holes, coffee cup, bathroom doorknob, his belt. Nowadays he's more careful...
The piece is actually very similar to a Benchley piece "Read and Eat," in which the morning newspaper and the breakfast reader's suit are successively smeared with butter, marmalade, and egg. According to Gordon Ernest in his Robert Benchley: An Annotated Bibliography, the Benchley piece first appeared in the San Francisco Examiner, February 18, 1935, p. 11. It is available in My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew (1939), p. 116.

–David Trumbull, RBS

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