Who is Miss Abigail?

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

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About

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!

Archives

Dating Archive

Acquaintance Card

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Acquaintance Card

This Lover’s Fun Card reminds me of Eric Weber’s How to Pick Up Girls, for some reason. What a line!

How to Win a Woman, part 1 (1923)

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

This weekend prior to Valentine’s day, I return to Elinor Glyn’s The Philosophy of Love, which is a wonderful little book from 1923. In this excerpt, from a chapter titled “The Man’s Side,” the author provides advice to the fictional Richard, about the object of his love, Sallie:

~~

A young man should be very sure that it is the special woman who is drawing him strongly, and that he is not just imagining that she is his heart’s desire because he himself is experiencing the desire to love. Do make your own examination of your emotions, Richard, when you first fall in love with some girl ~ that is, first experience that drawing sensation which makes you desire to be near her, and causes your heart to beat, and gives you a sense of exaltation. Do ask yourself if she is appealing to your mind or your soul ~ whether you feel degraded or uplifted in spirit after you have spent some time with her. Because if it is only the physical she is appealing to, you have not much chance of future happiness with her ~ and you had better crush the feeling before it has gone too far and landed you in a morass….

Men are absolutely idiotic about women once they fall in love. They cannot see their faults; they appear to have no intuition which warns them they are being deceived; they are bamboozled and led by affectations which would not for an instant impose upon women! But because men’s senses are delighted, their reason sleeps, and they court their own unhappiness.

So do try to remain awake, Richard, and strip off the glamour from your emotion for Sallie, and see if there is “anything to it.” We will suppose you do this, and find she is quite a nice girl really, regardless of her attractions; then go ahead!

Show her that you like her, and think of little things to please her ~ she will be greatly touched if you do. Make her feel that you respect as well as love her, but that you do not intend to stand any nonsense, and the first time that she is capricious and unreasonable let her see that you resent it and will not be made a fool of.

If she is fond of you she will not want to lose you, and if she is not, you had better retire in any case ~ the abject lover is such a pitiful creature! But to make her love you in the beginning, when she seems to be indifferent, you must use intelligence.

Nothing pleases a woman so much as a quiet self-confidence in a man and his showing that he is taking trouble about her. If he asks her out to dinner, that he has arranged everything for her comfort; if he is to meet her anywhere, that he is not casual about it.

Any action which suggests to the woman that the man has used thought about her is delightful to her self-love.

Audacity, when it does not develop into impertinence, is also a great charm!

~~

Curious to see how things turn out for Richard and Sallie? Tune in to my next installment

Professor Huggum

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Professor Huggum

Yet another card in this month’s Fun Card series: “Wholesale dealer in Love, Hugs, Squeezes and Kisses… samples free on request!” Hee! This one speaks for itself.

Special Driver’s Permit

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Special Driver's PermitDid you score a group date with some friends this weekend? Today’s installment of the Lover’s Fun Card Set is one that could come in handy, particularly if you plan on cruising around with a carload of friends who are more into whooping it up, and less into safe driving. No worries about being considered a dullard – just fill in your name and present this to the driver. I’m sure he or she will respect your driving opinions. While we’re at it, here’s a some advice from the site on the topic of automobiles.

This one about “joy-riding to the roadhouse“, from Elinor Glyn, is a favorite of mine.

I’d Like to Make a Date With You

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

I'd Like to Make a Date with You

The first card in our Lover’s Fun Card Set suggests an easy way to express interest in a girl or guy that you’ve got your eye on. Why not print up a stack of these and carry them with you? Of course if you strike out and he/she hands the card back to you, you might not need a whole lot of them.

If the card doesn’t work, I’ve got a number of tips for asking someone out on this site. Girls who are afraid to make the first move might be inspired by Ellen Peck’s advice. A Miss Abigail classic is this one, which instructs you on how to ask someone out by telephone. And boys, here are some more tips for you to help you get up the nerve to ask a cute girl out.

Good luck!

Is Andy Interested In Me? or, Remembering Names

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

oh, yes, you can, if you want toQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Is Andy interested in me?

Signed,
Evelyn

A Dear Evelyn:

I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify something for you and quite a few others who have recently asked me such questions as “Will I marry John Rachal?” and “Will I go out with Jonathan Bonin?” and “Am I wasting my time with the relationship I have at the moment?” Well, here it is ~ the one, the only, the OFFICIAL STATEMENT:

Miss Abigail’s Time Warp Advice is in no way whatsoever connected to the Psychic Hotline.

Whew. Now that we are all clear on that, you will understand why I cannot answer your question. So instead, I will use this space to share some totally irrelevant advice regarding the fine art of remembering names. I wonder, Emily, are you also troubled with this problem?

1961: Remembering Names

There is one thing that makes a hit with everybody. That is, remembering names. You may have heard people bragging ~ though they should have been apologizing for it instead of bragging about it ~ ‘I always remember faces, but I can’t seem to remember names.’

Oh, yes, you can, if you want to, and are willing to try hard enough. The late president Franklin D. Roosevelt was an outstanding example of someone who could call people by their first names after not having seen them for a long time. Nothing pleases a person quite so much as having his name remembered.

How can you gain this ability to make friends by remembering names? There are certain tricks and ways for developing this, but you can develop ways of your own. If you are determined to do it and willing to make the effort ~ and it does involve considerable effort ~ the battle is half won.

You can start this good habit better at your age than if you wait until later. Nothing will give you a better and bigger boost up the ladder of popularity, and the success that goes with it.

Source: Richardson, Frank Howard. For Young Adults Only: The Doctor Discusses Your Personal Problems. Atlanta, Ga.: Tupper and Love, 1961.
~ pp. 114-15 ~

What Should I Cook Him?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

ego, libido, and feedoQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Any tips on what to cook a guy for a romantic meal? I am thinking of his birthday. Thank you!

Signed,
Katie

A Dear Katie:

I do believe I’ve located some fabulous advice for you in Robert Loeb’s She Cooks to Conquer. It should help you plan your dinner. I’m sorry I have no room to include the complete recipes, which are actually illustrated (see “The Man Who Stayed for Breakfast” for an example), but I think the menu ideas will be enough to set you on the right path.

Oh, and you’re welcome.

1952: The Man Who Came for Dinner

Classical Circe, when ensnaring Odysseus and his crew, had to employ her magic wand upon occasion, and could not merely depend on her vintages and victuals for complete enchantment. The reason for this was that, like pilots who formerly had to fly without benefit of electronic devises and radar, Circe too had to cook by the seat of her panties.

But you Circes today, with the aid of the latest scientific findings, will not have to cook on a hit-or-run basis. By putting to use the results of surveys and information gleaned by psychologists in their minute studies of the male (and with special thanks and all due apologies to Doctor W. H. Sheldon), I am about to furnish you with a fool-proof guide. This will make as certain as possible that the luring dishes you serve your Odysseus will be the exact food of his choice. For, by grading him for type, you will approximate the yearnings of his own particular ‘feedo.’

It has been found that the male animal comes in thress basic sizes and varieties, each bearing a very complicated name that actually is easy to explain: the somatotonic, the viscerotonic, and the cerebrotonic!!!

Each of these varieties will be both illustrated and decribed briefly. All you will have to do is to determine into which category your own Odysseus belongs and then serve him a menu recommended for his type. Thus, in one fell ‘soup,’ you will have combined the magic of psychoscience with the enchantment of twentieth-century culinary savoir faire. What manner of male exists who will be able to resist such witchery?

~ ~ ~

Here is the male SOMATONIC: he’s the muscle man with paleolithic instincts, more likely to flex his biceps than his brain; he’s quick of decision, prone to passion, which he demonstrates in immediate action. He’s probably the club athlete, prefers the locker-room to the salon or boudoir, and his tastes in food run chiefly to red meat.

So here are two menus to choose from, graded for type and taste, when this muscled Odysseus arrives for dinner:

Muscle-Man Menus

No. 1:
Oeufs Riants
Steak Circe
Pommes de Ciel
Asparagus, Sauce Odysseus
Wine to Serve: Red Bordeaux ~ room temp.

No. 2:
Fruit Cup Cyclops
Lamp Chops Ajax
Spuds à la Maison
Peas Penelope
Wine to Serve: Rosé ~ chilled

And here we have the male VISCEROTONIC ~ a man of guts, if we ever saw one. He’s usually more balloon-shaped than streamlined, copiously equipped with avoirdupois and tummy. He’s accoutred with a jovial disposition, his emotional font being chiefly centered about his abdominal region. With a bird in one hand and a bottle in the other, he’s in a Falstaffian kind of heaven. Of the trio, he’s the one most vulnerable to your culinary wiles ~ he’s the gourmand, if not the gourmet.

Man-of Guts Menus

No. 1:
Soup Hades
Veal Vulcan
Pommes Aphrodite
Salad Athena
Wine to Serve: Cabernet Sauvignon, or Cabernet Franc ~ room temp.

No. 2:
Hors d’Oeuvres Hermes
Chicken Scylla
Potatoes Charybdis
Artichokes Artemis
Wine to Serve: Chablis ~ chilled

And here ~ the third of this trio of male ‘tonics’ ~ the CEREBROTONIC no less. Sometimes tall, dark, and handsome ~ or not handsome and not tall (he could be short and blond) ~ or just tall ~ but always lean and thin (you pick him for color and length). He is more apt to be a Casanova than a caveman. His approach is subtle and hidden; his ego, libido, and feedo are swathed in the skin in the sheep but beneath which pulsates the drive and appetites of the wolf. His taste-buds should be subtly titillated, but once aroused are rewarding.

Lean-Man Menus

No. 1:
Zeus Soup
Shrimps Poseiden with rice
Salad Persephone
Wine to Serve: Graves ~ chilled

No. 2:
Clam Juice Calypso
Lamb Laertes
Pommes Polythemus
Salad Telemachus
Wine to Serve: Red Bordeaux ~ room temp.

Source: Loeb, Robert H., Jr. She Cooks to Conquer. New York: Wilfred Funk, Inc., 1952.
~ pp. 29-31, 45, 59 ~

Dance ~ Contrived by Evil Minds

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

this giddy whirl goes onNow I bring you a selection from A Virtuous Woman by Oscar Lowry, who recommends in his introduction that “mothers place this volume in the hands of their daughters early in life.” I’m sure daughters (and sons) everywhere would be thrilled to read this passage regarding dancing. Something concerns me, though; the author sounds a bit too knowledgeable on the subject. Don’t you suspect that dear, virtuous Mr. Lowry has done just a smidgen of dancing in his time? I do.

1938: Dance ~ Contrived by Evil Minds

Perfect dancing, as all dancers will readily admit, demands perfect movement, that is, the two bodies must move as one. To this end the bodies are locked together by one arm placed about a woman’s waist as they stand facing each other, with one of the woman’s hands resting upon the man’s shoulder, her heaving breasts are against his while her right hand is held in his left, he places his foot between hers. To begin with, this position may be effected by the bodies being kept somewhat apart, but almost irresistibly the bodies come more and more in contact, mingling the sexes in such closeness of personal approach and contact as, outside the dance, is no where tolerated in respectable society. To this must be added, the young woman is improperly attired with a sleeveless, low-necked dress exposing more or less of her secondary sexual charms, her breasts. From this description any reasonable person can easily see that the modern dance has been contrived by evil minds for but one purpose, and that to awaken and arouse the sex nature, and to give human passions leave to disport themselves unreproved by conscience or reason, almost at will.

Now let us consider for a moment what this means. It is evening, the hour is late, the room is crowded, there is the intoxication of sensual jazz music which is intended to arouse the baser passions of both men and women. The women are dressed so as to set off their sexual charms, they are exposed to hot and poisoned air, perspiring bodies in close embrace, the personal electricity passing between the clasped hands, the hot breath of the man blown upon the exposed chest and arms of the woman, and still hour after hour this giddy whirl goes on until the dancers have covered a distance of from twelve to fifteen miles in an average evening’s dance. Oh, the horrors of it all!

Source: Lowry, Oscar. A Virtuous Woman: Sex Life in Relation to the Christian Life. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1938.
~ pp. 62-63 ~

When You Are A Week-end Guest

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

do not take sides or give adviceAs we creep toward the holiday season, it is wise to think about how to act when we are guests in the homes of our friends and relatives. These tips are also handy for visiting those “special” boys and girls in our lives.

1963: When You Are A Week-end Guest

Only when the boy lives out of town do you ever consider spending the night or weekend at his home. Again never do you accept the invitation unless it comes by way of the boy’s mother or guardian and is relayed to your mother or guardian. An invitation to the boy to spend the weekend at your home calls for the same procedure ~ your mother or guardian phones or writes his mother or guardian.

Arrive at the Expected Time. If you are to be unavoidably delayed, advise your hostess.

The Gift. It is not a must. If you really want to arrive with a remembrance or to send one after your return home, it need not be expensive.

Participate in What Has Been Planned. You may not like baseball, but you go to the game because you are “game” for anything planned unless it be something that you know your parents would forbid, or is not in keeping with your own moral code.

Entertain Yourself. Never do we sit with a bored expression as if we were waiting for something to happen. Read, watch TV; in brief, occupy yourself. But do not become so engrossed in what you are doing as to suggest that you would not like to be disturbed.

Be Helpful. Keep your room in order, make your own bed, respect the furnishings of the home and offer to help with household chores. If there should be any differences (“lively discussions”) among members of the family, do not take sides or give advice.

Departure. We leave on the day we originally planned. We should tell our hostess this date upon our arrival. This gracious hostess will usually suggest that we extend our stay as the day approaches for us to leave, but the equally gracious guest will not accept the invitation unless, because of a special event planned, there is great insistence.

Thank You Note. The “thank you” note is written no later than forty-eight hours after we have returned home. 

Source: Culkin, Anne. Charm for Young Women. New York: Deus Books, 1963.
~ p. 104, 132-33 ~

(One Man’s Suggested) Office Manners (for Women)

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

the privileges of the weaker sexQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have an ex-boyfriend who immediately got a new girlfriend who works within my jurisdiction. His new girlfriend is my officemate. So I took revenge by forwarding their email that says “I love you”, using the guy’s email, to all of our officemates! Yeah, I knew his password. And eventually they knew I was the one who did it. Am I too bad? Do I really have to apologize when in fact they are the who started to mess with me?

Shao

A Dear Shao:

I could take this question in so many directions, but I think I’ll focus on one of the core issues at hand ~ your behavior in the workplace. Crummy boyfriend or otherwise, you better watch how you handle yourself at the office. Apologize now before you are out of a job, and take this opportunity to reflect upon your manners at work. Bad email-forwarding girl!

The following is from Walter Lowen’s How and When to Change Your Job Successfully (1954), found in a chapter titled “The Problems of Women in Business.” While the “problems” of the 1950s may have changed slightly (no, there was no email back then), it may help you to see that work is a very serious place and women should not take that lightly. Well, at least according to this guy, who seems to have a lot to say on how women should behave.

1955: Office Manners

Under the catch-all heading of ‘office manners’ comes a whole slew of things that can be problems for the woman in business if she doesn’t watch herself ~ and them. You know all about them, I’m sure, but just for a safety-first double-check, let’s run down a list of ‘don’ts’:

Don’t hog the telephone with your personal calls.

Don’t spend too much time in the washroom.

Don’t keep a sloppy-looking desk, outside or inside.

Don’t take long lunch hours to do your shopping.

Don’t dress too severely, or too glamorously. If you have a date right after work, wear something that will serve both purposes ~ such as a tailored suit that can be dressed up after five with a colorful scarf or gay pin.

If you have to be home at a certain time each night ~ to take care of your husband or child, perhaps ~ make sure the boss knows about this in advance, and agrees.

Don’t overdo lateness and absences and chalk them up to sick leave on the theory that women are entitled to more ailments than men.

Don’t excuse poor job performance by taking refuge in your sex.

Don’t carry on feuds with other female employees ~ a tendency which is especially true on the secretarial level.

Don’t gossip, especially about men, more especially about men in the office, super-especially about married men in the office.

Don’t expect to combine the freedom of the career girl with the privileges of the weaker sex. Any working woman who thinks she deserves special consideration because she is a woman doesn’t belong in a plant or office.

Source: Walter Lowen, How and When to Change Your Job Successfully. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954
~ pp. 191-92 ~