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Can you answer a personal?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This ad reminds me of one that I posted about the elegant lady. It says:

Beautiful neighbor. - Your sweet face is sunshine to me. Where and when can we meet? Address CONSTANT, box 110 Herald office. State some particulars for safety.

Now here's my question: I've talked a lot about how men weren't supposed to talk to ladies they met on the streets, or in stagecoaches, or whereever. Poor manners and all that. But if this woman was really a neighbor, there had to be some easier way to meet her. They may not have invented the sugar excuse yet, but I don't know, if they lived close to each other for a long time he could have invented something. Now I suppose she could be married, which would require a lot more circumspection, but I don't think it's necessary to assume that just because someone's using a personal the reasons have to be scandalous.

In a similar vein, this ad appeared on the same day.

It reads, Tuesday, December 7, 4 P.M. - 'Can you answer a personal?' Fifth avenue stage from Grand in Twenty-third street. Please address BEN. VAN DYKE, Herald office, appointing interview. To prevent mistake mention some particulars.

Again, put aside the etiquette issues here; obviously, just because rules exist doesn't mean that people followed them - as we have frequently seen. The real question is, if he had time to talk to her, why not just ask for her address right off? They were in a stage; it's not like they were passing on the street. Even if it was only for a stop or two, they must have been in the same place for at least a few minutes. If he's going to break the rules anyway, why go through all the effort of a personal when he could have just introduced himself?

I like to think that all these people are nice and respectable - though of course there are a lot of exceptions I'm too lazy to link to right now. Overall, though, I think they are just trying to find the right person in a busy and anonymous urban world (not that I know anything about that), but ads like this make me wonder. I get the idea that this second one, at least, is some young rascal who might grow up to be a good person, but at the moment is probably flirting with girls left and right. I doubt he's planning to seduce her (as many critics assumed), but I don't think he's looking for a wife just yet.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

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