Sunday, June 21, 2009
Talk about a rendezvous, folks; this one is the real deal.
It reads: "The lady who made the acquaintance of a gentleman on Christmas evening, and parted company with him on Monday following, at 5 o'clock, corner of Canal street and Broadway, taking a stage down Broadway, and did not meet him on Friday, will please address W.W. Wilson, Broadway Post office."
I know! For your information, I looked it up, and the Christmas evening he refers to was on a Tuesday, which means these two were, apparently, holed up for about a week. You know, it's no surprise whatsoever that people were having extramarital sex back in the day. But I still have trouble wrapping my mind around a one-night stand in the 1860s, much less one that lasted a week. I suppose it's possible she was a prostitute, of course, but if so that would have been one very, very expensive engagement (hey, it's like Pretty Woman!). I also love how he says they made each other's "acquaintance." Okay, sure. That's one way of putting it.
I don't see ones like this too often, but I do wonder when reading this or similar ads if using the terms "lady" and "gentleman" were just conventions, or if the people involved actually did see themselves that way. Good middle-class Victorians simply did not do this sort of thing, and if she was a prostitute, she most definitely was not a lady! The fact that she failed to show up for their next meeting is even more awesome. This woman - I like her. I'll bet she squeezed his hand (no kissing in public, of course) when they said good-bye, promised to meet him again in just a few days, gave him a devastating smile - and then never looked back.
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2009 Pam Epstein