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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Posts Tagged ‘insecurity’

Boys, in 500 Words or Less

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

rough and readyQ Dear Miss Abigail:

What is the best way or sentence to sum up boys between the ages of thirteen and fifteen?

Signed,
Meg

A Dear Meg:

Golly gee whiz, Miss Meg. You’re assignment is hard! I couldn’t find just one sentence to answer your question, so I’m going to ramble on a bit. Here is more than you ever wanted to know about teen boys, from authors Frances Bruce Strain, Harold Shyrock, Frank Howard Richardson, and Ellen Peck. Do I get an A?

1946: The Art of Conversation

Boys say, ‘Girl’s can’t talk about anything but their hair and clothes,’ or they say, ‘They gossip about other girls and other fellows. It makes you uncomfortable.’ If you listen to the talk of girls on the street or bus or in a tearoom you are inclined to agree with the boys.

Boys talk about athletics, school affairs, their jobs outside of school, about their hobbies, their clubs, camp, today’s news, politics, movies, television, radio programs ~ everything. The detail a boy’s mind can carry is amazing. He is ready at the drop of a hat to talk on a hundred topics. The other day I chanced to inquire of a fifteen-year-old high-schooler about a certain radio program. he knew not only the programs, but the hours, the networks, the artists and even the daily theme or motive of every program in the week!

Source: Strain, Frances Bruce. Teen Days: A Book for Boys and Girls. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1946.
~ pp. 153-54 ~

1951: Secrets About Boys

A teen-age boy is masculine in his attitude and somewhat rough and ready in his relations to the outside world.

Source: Shryock, Harold. On Becoming a Woman. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1951.
~ p. 27 ~

1961: What About Petting?

‘Lots of the boys who try to make you pet don’t really want you to at all. They do it because they think it makes them look like real he-men. They are what I like to call “sheep in wolves” clothing.’

Source: “Janie” in Richardson, Frank Howard. For Young Adults Only: The Doctor Discusses Your Personal Problems. Atlanta, Ga.: Tupper and Love, 1961.
~ p. 57 ~

1969: What the Teen-Age Boy Is Like

Actually, a handy definition of a teen-age boy, as far as you’re concerned, is a guy who yearns after sharp girls and wants like crazy to avoid losers. Reason? Insecurity. A sharp girl ~ a real winner ~ is going to make him feel more secure and sharp himself. (‘If she likes me, I must really be somebody,’ he’s thinking.) And a loser is going to make him feel more insecure than ever. (‘If that’s all I can get, I must be nowhere,’ is the flip side of the coin.)

How does a guy decide who’s sharp and who’s a loser? Every girl, all by herself, tells him. Generally, without saying a word.

Source: Peck, Ellen. How to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What To Do With Him When You Get Him. New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1969.
~ p. 57 ~