Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!

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Archive for December, 2010

Be Second Sexiest at Parties

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Many of you are no doubt heading out to New Year’s Eve parties this evening, celebrating with a loved one or perhaps going solo, in the hopes of meeting someone special to welcome 2011 with. Ellen Peck, author of the fabulous How to Get a Teen-age Boy and What to do With Him When You Get Him (1969), has a whole chapter devoted to party going, which is so much better than party giving, where you have to devote all your energy to making sure others are having fun.  “When you go to a party,” she writes, “you have no responsibilities to anybody but you. Just see that you have a good time.”

Her chapter outlines how to find out about parties, how to get invited to them, what time to arrive, who to arrive with (if you don’t have a date already), and more. Since this book is all about “getting” a teen-age boy there’s quite a bit about flirting (if you’ve seen the play or ready my book or this site, you’ve heard some of this already). Conversation starters are covered, of course, because “party talk is planned,” but she also says that “you should also be planning your appearance.” Read on:

~~~

Wear pretty much what the other girls are wearing. If they’re wearing tunics, you wear a tunic. But look slightly sexier than most of the girls. Now hear this. This does not mean low, low necklines, long, long, lashes, body jewels, and beauty marks. This “sudden starlet” bit won’t work; you’ll just end up looking like you belong somewhere else. Don’t be the sexiest girl there.

But ~ can you manage to be the second sexiest?

Again, here’s where it helps to know what the other girls are wearing. If you know Irene is going to show up showing décolletage to the naval, you may cut your neckline down a bit. After all, if Kathy’s parties end in neck-nibbling and related indoor sports, you might want to show off a nibbleable neck before lights out.

Looking second sexiest gives you a couple of advantages. Especially over the girl who looks sexiest. That girl (Irene) is going to look slightly out of place. She’s going to make the boys feel slightly self-conscious about approaching her. Oh, they’re turned on by the way she looks, all right. But a guy looks at Irene and knows if he picks tonight to make-out with her, he’s going to go through a lot of ribbing all next week!

Also, do you know how all the other girls are going to feel toward Irene? Maybe hostile.

Do you think Kathy is going to think twice about asking so much competition over again? Maybe definitely.

So, better be second (or even third) than sexiest, as far as your appearance is concerned!

~~~

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Happy Christmas from Miss Abigail!

Miss Abigail’s (Timeless) Holiday Gift Ideas 2010

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Dear Readers: Today I resurrect my every-so-often holiday gift ideas post and bring to you some book titles that might tickle the fancy of people on your lists. If you aren’t done shopping yet, and need some help, perhaps these will do!

First up, we have a gift for the woman in your life. Although I thought this book might tell the “woman who hates to clean” that she should just hire a housekeeper and call it a day, it does assume that the wife, no matter how much she hates it, will be the one cleaning. Drat. Still, it offers “hundreds of ways to take the drudgery out of cleaning.” That’s sure to be appreciated by women and men (who are hopefully chipping in) alike.

Good Housekeeping's Miracle Cleaning Book (1955)

Next up, a gift for sis. Is she wanting to be on America’s Next Top Model, but doesn’t quite have the looks for it yet? She’s love this book, which was penned by Princess Luciana Pignatelli. The flap copy gives a hint to what are the secrets of a beautiful woman: “self-discipline, private bedrooms, work, cosmetic surgery, facial exercises, rest, repose, having late babies, the right kinds of husbands and loves, yoga, isometrics, and walking.” Your sister might also benefit from those sunglasses. Ooh, baby!

The Beautiful People's Beauty Book, by Princess Luciana Pignatelli (1970)

Speaking of isometrics, this next book would be perfect for anyone on your list. I mean, who wouldn’t love exercise that requires no movement at all?

Vic Obeck's How to Exercise Without Moving A Muscle (1964)

Dad might really enjoy this “Greeting Card Book,” which can be sent directly via the mail.  You could even send it anonymously so he has no idea that you doubt his handyman skills!

The Unhandy Handyman's Book (1966)

Young, frantic parents in your life might really appreciate this helpful guide from the Department of Defense. Who wouldn’t have a better grasp on how to raise preschoolers?

Department of Defense, Caring for Preschoolers (1982)

Here’s another for just about anyone on your list, from the business executive to those starting out in life  ~ this book has 871 pages full of etiquette and more, more, more. I was going to list all of the topics but I figured it was easier to just share the title page (click on it to see a larger size).

The cover of The National Encyclopedia of Business and Social Forms... (1881)

Title page of the National Encyclopedia...

This final entry is for the car lovers in your family, particularly those with VWs. It’s not an advice book, but I found it on my shelves while poking around and it seemed like the perfect gift for both “Volks folks and Normal People.” Here’s a few to whet your appetite: “There was the Dallas oilman who paid for his new Cadillac with a $10,000 bill and took his change in Volkswagens” HA! Or how about: “Here’s a tip to help you quickly dry your VW after a washing. Pick it up by the windshield wiper and it will shake itself dry.” Hooboy, what a riot! Here’s one more: “Give a man with a big car an inch and he’ll take a mile, but give a VW owner a foot and he’ll park his car.”

The Jokeswagen Book (1966)

Well, that’s it for another year. I hope these ideas help with your last-minute gift shopping, and that you all have a wonderful holiday!

Miss Abigail 8 Ball (and other gifty things)

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Magic 8 BallThe folks over at the Off-Broadway show version of Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage have opened up an online store. You can get a signed (by me and Eve Plumb) copy of my book there, among other fun things.

I’m personally hoping Santa puts a Miss Abigail Magic 8 Ball in my stocking this year. Just imagine how much easier this advice business would be.

Dear Miss Abigail: I like this boy but I don’t know how to tell him, what should I do? “Consult me later.”

Dear Miss Abigail: I am 35 and have never been married. Is there any hope for me?  “Maybe.”

Dear Miss Abigail: Is it rude to talk on your cell phone while in a public restroom?  “You Can Count on It!”


How to Tell Disposition and Character by the Nose

Saturday, December 11th, 2010
nose

The Grotke Nose

I’m digging around my books looking for things to feature in a holiday gift ideas post, but came across this and thought you might enjoy. It’s from Professor Jefferis’ and J.L. Nichols’ Search Lights on Health: Light on Dark Corners, which was published in 1911. This book is packed with information about sex, purity, love, courtship, marriage, families, diseases and other health related topics. It’s all here, including a whole section on “How to Read Character,” with the first part focusing on the nose…

~~

1. Large Noses. ~ Bonaparte chose large-nosed men for his generals, and the opinion prevails that large noses indicate long heads and strong minds. Not that great noses cause great minds, but that the motive or powerful temperament cause both.

2. Flat Noses. ~ Flat noses indicate flatness of mind and character, by indicating a poor, low organic structure.

3. Broad Noses. ~ Broad noses indicate large passageways to the lungs, and this, large lungs and vital organs, and this, great strength of constitution, and hearty animal passions along with selfishness; for broad noses, broad shoulders, broad heads, and large animal organs go together. But when the nose is narrow at the base, the nostrils are small, because the lungs are small and need but small avenues for air; and this indicates a predisposition to consumptive complaints, along with an inactive brain and nervous system, and a passionate fondness for literary pursuits.

4. Sharp Noses. ~ Sharp noses indicate a quick, clear, penetrating, searching, knowing sagacious mind, and also a scold; indicate warmth of love, hate, generosity, moral sentiment ~ indeed, positiveness in everything.

5. Blunt Noses. ~ Blunt noses indicate and accompany obtuse intellects and perceptions, sluggish feelings, and a soulless character.

6. Roman Noses. ~ The Roman Nose indicates a martial spirit, love of debate, resistance, and strong passions, while hallow, pug noses indicate a tame, easy, inert, sly character, and straight, finely-formed Grecian noses harmonious characters. Seek their acquaintance.

~~

The other ways to read character, according to the authors, are by:

  • Stature
  • The Walk
  • Laughing
  • The Mode of Shaking Hands
  • The Mouth and Eyes
  • Color of the Hair
  • a few bonus “secretive dispositions”

I’ll take requests if anyone would like to learn more about any of the above!

Retro Christmas Cards

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
Gifts for mom, card from whatsbuzzin.com

"Gifts for Mom" card from whatsbuzzin.com

The prize for a contest I recently participated in was an assortment of Christmas cards from What’s Buzzin. While I sadly did not win (the competition was pretty tough!), it did make me fall in love with these cards, and I just placed an order for a bunch of them.

You might enjoy some of these, or these. I had a hard time choosing!

A Wise Purchase: Quellebelle Artisan Silk Scarves

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

My friend Nina, who happens to also be my book cover designer for the latest edition, just launched her new venture –  Quellebelle: Artisan Silk Scarves – and just in time for the holidays! The Vibrant Scarf is a favorite of mine (I think the color matches my site quite nicely), and it is even better in person. But they are all lovely. From Nina: “maybe someone on your holiday list would enjoy a gorgeous, delightfully silky scarf that will both bring her pleasure and evoke complements whenever she wears it! (I’m offeringfree shipping at the moment, too.).”

I think this would be considered a wise purchase (as this advice from 1929 describes), don’t you?

Congrats, Nina!