The Secret Life of Ronald Mitty
Jan 26, 2015
|"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a short story by James Thurber. The most famous of Thurber's stories, it first appeared in “The New Yorker on March 18, 1939, and was first collected in his book “My World and Welcome to It” in 1942 and is one of the most frequently anthologized short stories in American literature. The story is considered one of Thurber's "acknowledged masterpieces". It was made into a 1947 movie of the same name, with Danny Kaye in the title role, and again in 2013 starring Ben Stiller. The popularity of the story eventually helped create a new word, “Mittyesque”, to denote a person who spends more time in heroic daydreams than paying attention to the real world. You can read the original New Yorker magazine 1939 short story in just a few minutes here.
It was just after one o’clock in the afternoon when Ronald Mitty pulled his brand-new 2015 Holiday Rambler 38’ Ambassador motorhome , towing a brand-new Jeep Cherokee, up in front of the office at Bluewater Key RV Resort in Key West, Florida. Nuggie, Mitty's no-trouble 14 year old cocker spaniel, looked up from her napping spot on the dash, and watched as Mitty open the motorhome door, triggering the electric steps to decend, and walked into the office to register. Mrs. Mitty waited with the dog, and was lost in thought as she worked Friday's New York Times crossword puzzle, desperately trying to figure out a four letter word for a unit of power equivalent to one joule per second and equal to the power in a circuit in which a current of one ampere flows across a potential difference of one volt.
“My, what a beautiful motorhome you have,” said the lady behind the desk, is it new?” “Yes, Mitty replied, “picked it up a few days ago in Minnesota for the trip down here, drives like a dream.” “I’ll bet it was expensive”, she said. “Don’t know”, Mitty said, “I just told the salesman to put it on my American Express Black Card, so maybe I’ll find out when the bill comes, I won the Powerball, you know …”
“RON, RON, WHY ARE YOU DRIVING SO FAST?? You’re going 5 miles an hour over the limit!” Reality came blurring in, as Mrs. Mitty continued. “Honestly, I don’t know why you drive so fast, this road up to the Indian casino is narrow and winding, and look at the traffic!” Mitty realized he wasn’t in a new $250,000 motorhome at an expensive ocean-side RV park in Florida, he was driving his 22 year old RV, worth ten grand maybe, to a casino an hour from home in Minnesota.
The Grand Casino RV park was nice, there were no palm trees or fishing for marlin, but, the daily rate was a hundred or so less than Key West, and the water lines were heated in the winter. Mitty was hoping he wouldn’t be the only motorhome in the park, like the last time.
“I don’t understand it, Hazel”, he said, “why are we always the only customer in the casino RV park this time of year?” “Because”, Mrs. Mitty replied, “all the other motorhomes in the state are down in Florida now, I think there’s a law requiring that”.
Mitty checked in at the RV office, paid for two nights at $22.50 each, a special rate with his brown casino “players card”, the one they give to just about anybody, got the old motorhome parked, and caught the shuttle to the casino to play cards.
He sat down at the first table, next to an attractive woman wearing a slinky dress with a plunging neckline and a platinum players card lying next to her huge stacks of chips. Mitty sheepishly put out his brown card, the one they give to just about anybody, bought a hundred bucks worth of five dollar chips, put one out on the table, and amazingly won the first hand with a blackjack, an ace and a king. The dealer paid one and a half, a whopping seven dollars and fifty cents. The woman took a drag on the cigarette in her long cigarette holder and said “That was a good hand, mister…" she paused, hoping Mitty would tell her his last name.
“The name is Mitty”, he replied, as he lit his cigarette with a solid gold lighter, “Ronald Mitty”.
The James Bond theme started to play, Mitty looked down to discover he’d lost 50 pounds, was wearing a tuxedo, and the slight bulge under his armpit was a shoulder holster containing his favorite Walther PPK 7.65 mm semi-automatic. The gun had jammed once, and nearly cost Mitty his life. Still, he loved that pistol, with ammunition available worldwide. And, he might need that gun tonight, "M" had warned him that agents from SPECTRE might be on their way to kill him.
“RON, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? YOU DON'T SMOKE!!” It was Mrs. Mitty, who had come to check on her husband. “Take me to the restaurant, Ron, they have a monthly special I’ve been looking forward to, a Jumbo Shrimp dinner for $9.95 with a players card, and they’ll even honor that brown one they give to just about anybody.”