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Etiquette Lessons

Monday, November 23, 2009

You'll forgive me for posting another ad that's not strictly "advertising for love," but I saw this one today and it is so unique that I decided to post it anyway. If it's real (and that is, of course, always a big "if"), it's awfully sweet.




A young married lady wishes to correspond with refined woman of the world competent to advise wholly inexperienced young wife who soon will enter society in New York and Washington; she will be liberally remunerated.  Address YOUNG WIFE. Herald Uptown.

Aww.  There's something so charming and a little poignant about this.  I've never seen an ad like this before, and it is odd.  I'm picturing a very young girl who married for love, but now she's uncertain about how to behave in society; that's fair.  But how can she not have one single woman in her life who she can turn to for this kind of advice?  No mother?  No aunts?  Not even a mother-in-law?  She's so desperate to find help that she has to place an ad in the personals column of the newspaper!  Whatever the case, she doesn't sound like she wants anyone to know about this (thus the reason she doesn't go to her mother-in-law or husband?) and is hoping no one will notice her awkwardness and lack of social niceties. Poor thing.

Perhaps this girl has married "above her station" to a man she didn't know for long, and is now starting to realize that her husband moves in circles and lives by rules with which she is not familiar (I'm thinking Holiday, but with the sexes reversed).  Perhaps the monumental array of etiquette manuals available at the time are too generic and vague to be useful.  What if she eats with the wrong fork?  What if she doesn't curtsy or shake hands appropriately?  What if she fidgets in her box at the opera?

Wait a sec.  This isn't Holiday!!  Oh my lord, I had it wrong. I take everything back; it's Pretty Woman.  Maybe by refined woman "of the world" she doesn't mean society lady, but high-end escort!  Perhaps this ad is not so sweet after all!

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

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