“Some Like Them Cold” is a good example of Lardner’s cynicism. Charles Lewis, an ego-driven but simple songwriter on his way to New York, meets the vivacious Mabelle Gillespie at the train station in Chicago. Charles promises to write his “girlie” as soon as he gets to New York. He does so, making sure to represent himself as a genius destined for stardom who wants to find a good, loyal wife. He takes care to let Mabelle know that he does not care for girls “on the make” and is therefore concentrating on his music despite the advances of several fast New York girls.
Interpreting his letter as indicative of true romantic interest, Mabelle writes him several letters in which she passes herself off as a “nice girl” who would not normally talk to strange men in train stations, who is practical, and who is a demure homebody who likes to practice thriftiness and keep house. What becomes abundantly clear is that both Mabelle and Charles are opportunists. He is looking for a wife who is useful. To him, Mabelle just might fit that bill, a pretty girl who will not run him into the poorhouse and who will boost his massive ego.
To Mabelle, Charles is a meal ticket, a rising star to whom she might attach herself. Both are exposed as phonies. Charles forgets about Mabelle once he can arrange a marriage with the nasty sister of another New York musician, Paul Sears, whom he thinks can boost his career. His new fiancé is clearly a shallow materialist who hates him, but Charles does not care. All he values are fame and riches. Mabelle shows her true colors as well, once she finds out that her “Mr. Man” is going to marry another. She writes him a biting letter that shows that she is well acquainted with the ways of the world. The reader is left thinking that Mabelle will wind up a lonely and bitter schemer and Charles will wash out as a musician and be left with a shrewish wife who delights in tormenting him.