Friday, March 19, 2010
Well folks, a long time ago, when this blog was still young, I posted this ad, in which A.B.D. Hunter promised women that they could win a man if they had a pretty little foot (and of course, A.B.D. Hunter also promised to help women get a pretty little foot if they were "willing to submit at first to a little inconvenience").
At the time I laughed! Ha ha ha! Who could make a women's feet smaller? (I guess foot binding was still in vogue in China at this time, but I doubt American-born men would have found that appealing. Also, I think that just works on children. Anyways.) More to the point, would having smaller feet really attract men?
But the last laugh is on me, because look at the ad I found recently:
Pretty little foote, elevated railroad - Sincere admirer desires acquaintance if agreeable. Address, giving some incident, Discreet, Herald Uptown office.
Finally, I know why I'm still single! It's my big feet! (I'm kidding!) Seriously, though, it's interesting that the author writes "foote" with an "e," a spelling I have never, ever seen. It could just be a typo on the part of the paper, or the advertiser could just be an idiot who can't spell. I suppose it's also possible that it really is "Foote" and that is, in fact, a last name, and somehow they know each other. And when you get down to it, there's no gender mentioned here, is there? I read "pretty little foote" and I just assumed it was a woman being referred to - "pretty" and "little" not being words generally used together to describe men (and most ads of this nature are from men) - but the author is an "admirer"; theoretically, that could mean a man or a woman wrote it.
You know, this ad is suddenly much more interesting than I'd originally realized! Is it "foot" or "Foote"? Who is the man and who is the woman? For that matter, is it a man and a woman - or could it be two men (or two women)? Maybe the avoidance of gender pronouns is deliberate because it's a man reaching out to another man - which I'd certainly buy as a real possibility. I've always believed these ads must have been used by same-sex couples, or for same-sex meetings; perhaps here's an example. And the "Discreet," while not unique, would certainly bolster such a theory. When you tell someone to address you as "Discreet," you are not at all trying to meet that person in the hopes of finding a spouse. You are looking for something that is going to be entirely secret and illicit.
Hmm. I sure do wonder now what the "incident" the author mentions was! This went from silly to racy in no time!
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2010 Pam Epstein