Beyond Anybody’s Respect or Help

I’ve said it before; I go to rummage sales or library used book sales to find things I’ve always wanted to read or discover unique-looking books.  Some of them I will pick up because I can tell right away they will have outmoded but perhaps hilariously written ideas.  You know, like Republican policies, but without giving everything away to the rich guys.

One gem I found last year was Margery Wilson’s “Pocket Book of Etiquette” (“for those who want to live smartly–correctly–assuredly, and avoid embarrassing mistakes”).  It was very popular after being introduced in 1937, apparently; it had 9 Pocket-book printings from May 1941 to November 1942.  It has gems such as “A sophisticated diner looks upon a colored wine-glass with horror.” Further down in that same paragraph, we have this admonition, so important it’s all in caps: “NEVER SERVE ANYTHING TO DRINK IN THE WRONG GLASS.”  So I guess when former skating gold-medalist Peggy Fleming stops by the trailer again, I shouldn’t serve her any Jack in a pint jar like last time.

In the corn on the cob section, “The only advice that is practical is to bare your teeth as little as possible, so that you will not look savage in your attack on the cob.” Under “asparagus”, though it’s eaten with the fingers, “this does not mean that one may pick up a long piece of limp asparagus and try to get under the lower wobbling end of it.”  She’s wrong about drinking though–“Very few people drink heavily any more,” and “The smart person never proceeds on the basis that if a little is good, more is better.”  Oh, Margery, had you only met me, you would know that “If some is good, more is better.”

The good guest “is pleasant if he finds his worst enemy or his last wife at the same house.”  (Wouldn’t they be the same person)

Under the section “The Body”, “Every one should be taught to turn on the balls of the feet.  Then when one walks up to a chair to sit down there need be no awkwardness of mixed-up, confused feet.  The sitter will merely see that just before he sits, one foot will be a normal step behind the other (directly behind, not to one side), then he will turn on the balls of his feet and can sit gracefully with no flutterings or hoppings.”

But the best advice from our dear Margery is about petting (if you’re under, what, 50?, you may need to Google “petting” or “heavy petting”).  “The so-called petting that is supposed to be necessary to popularity is a problem to the young woman of taste and restraint….After all, a man merely wants a good time.  He doesn’t really care how he has it!”  And later, “A girl need not stamp herself a prude in order to refrain from promiscuity.  The girl who thinks so little of herself as to indulge in both petting and drinking at the same time has placed herself beyond anybody’s respect or help.  The time is gone when men are considered as natural villains and women their innocent victims.  But petting as the price of popularity is a pretty cheap affair and will result in other types of shoddiness.”

And please, after petting, be careful when sitting–no more flutterings or hoppings.  That surely will result in more shoddiness.

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2 Responses to Beyond Anybody’s Respect or Help

  1. Averil Dean says:

    “A man merely wants a good time. He doesn’t really care how he has it!”

    Preach, Margery.

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