Who is Miss Abigail?

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

Find me on…

Get the feed


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!


Posts Tagged ‘petting’

Party Out of Bounds

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

scavenger hunt anyone?Friends, I selected this one in anticipation of my big birthday party on June 7th. Everyone is invited, but please, leave that bad, bad liquor at home!

1967: Party Out of Bounds

Sometimes you’re at a party that has gotton out of hand. Perhaps there is drinking that you had not anticipated. Maybe it has turned into a petting session. Some teen-agers are disgusted, because parties so often turn into unpleasant situations.

Usually parties get out of bounds because of insufficient planning. If the activities and games are planned for a party, it is unlikely that it will degenerate. People find no need particularly to turn away from relaxing fun and entertainment to other veins.

Sometimes there are parties without adults on tap. Chaperons may seem old-fashioned, but it does help to have adults at social affairs; their very presence keeps things under control. Regardless of how carefully you plan parties, incidents may arise that need a firm adult outlook. Suppose some fellows try to crash your party, bringing liquor with them. This is a hard situation for you to handle alone, but your parents would be able to put a stop to it at once.

Who Is to Blame?

When a party gets out of hand it’s usually blamed on the hosts or hostesses. True, much of the fault is theirs. If they had planned the party properly, and made sure adults were present, the trouble might not have started. In one sense, however, every person at the party is responsible when it gets out of control. If you’re at a gathering, and it seems to be getting wild, you might try to help steer it back to safety. The time to act is the moment the party starts to get rough. It does no good to wait until the next morning and then condemn the host.

What Can You Do?

Try to get some activity started to pull the party back in line. Suggest one that would be fun ~ really fun ~ to absorb the guests. Perhaps a game of charades will liven things up. Maybe there are enough table games around to capture people’s interest. How about a spur-of-the-moment scavenger hunt? Or maybe everyone would like to go out to the kitchen and make hamburgers or popcorn balls.

If a gang of boys try to crash a party, are you prepared to handle the situation? Do you know how to get help if they come looking for trouble? Many of the incidents that happen at parties can be avoided if each young adult takes responsibility for seeing that things run smoothly.

If you find that you can’t help keep the party under control, the next best thing is to leave. If people are are drinking too much and you’re not enjoying yourself, simply explain to your hostess that you had better be running along. No one has much fun at a party that has gone out of bounds. After you have left such a party, reflect on it a while. Maybe you can prevent it from happening next time ~ especially at your party!

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. The Art of Dating. New York: Association Press, 1967.
~ pp. 164-66 ~

When a Fellow Gets Fresh

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

If he tries something?This one comes from the first book in my collection (read about it here), and just happpens to be one of my favorite quotes. My friend Carita and I used to read this one over and over again, so we would know exactly what to do if and when those boys tried to take advantage.

1967: When a Fellow Gets Fresh

When a boy goes beyond what pleases a girl in his lovemaking, she faces a difficult problem. If she allows him to continue, against her wishes, she may be headed for more trouble than she will be able to handle. If she tries to restrain him, she must know how to do it without hurting his feelings or making him feel rejected as a person. This calls for delicate know-how that a girl must learn ~ in action.

The inexperienced girl may wonder, “If he tries something, shall I slap him and run, or just run?” The more mature girl knows that she doesn’t need to resort to either slapping to running in order to deal with the too amorous boy friend. She wards off unwelcome behaviour with a firm refusal to co-operate, accompanied by a knowing smile and a suggestion of some alternate activity. She may say, “Not now, Ambrose ~ let’s go get a hamburger; I’m hungry.”

Or she may take a tip from Marianne. When her date seems about to do something objectionable, she takes both his hands in both of hers, squeezes them affectionately, grins into his eyes, and says, “You’re quite a guy.” By doing this, Marianne lets her date know that she won’t go along with his intimacy, at the same time that she shows she like him as a person.

A girl’s best protection is in anticipating a situation and deflecting it. The wise girl who wants to avoid a necking session keeps up an animated conversation about things that interest her date until she is returned to her door, when she bids him a pleasant adieu and goes in. This is easier said than accomplished. But if the girl is sure of her objective, she avoids anything that points in another direction. She keeps to brightly lighted, well-populated places and away from dark lonely corners where the situation may get out of hand.

It is a wise girl who knows the variations on the “Come up and see my etchings” theme well enough to decline an invitation to drive to a lonely Lovers’ Lane “to see the view.” This kind of know-how often comes from talks with other girls. As girls pool their experiences they can share their knowledge of various boys and their approaches. And they learn from each other the skills for dealing with various problem-boy situations.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. The Art of Dating. New York: Association Press, 1967.
~ pp. 188-190 ~

Ready? Sex? No!

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

driving along a strange roadQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for six months. He pressures me to have sex, but I don’t think I’m ready. What should I do?


A Dear Dina:

“Wait until you are ready!” is the right answer, I believe. But for a bit more information, let’s read from Sense and Nonsense About Sex, co-authored in the fabulous sixties by Evelyn and Sylvanus Duvall ~ “top sex and marriage consultants” according to the back of the book. I can always count on the Duvall’s to provide useful tips about maintaining control. Lucky, lucky me.

1962: Expressing Feeling of Love and Sex

Our young people must themselves have a considerable knowledge of what conduct is right, and the self-control to behave themselves. Here are some suggestions that may help.

The first essential is to know clearly what your own moral standards are, and what you will or will not permit. It is the boy or the girl who is ‘iffy,’ who has not made up his mind in advance and developed the controls to stand by his decision, who is most likely to get into trouble, not only regarding sex but in all matters.

Secondly, if you want to maintain the ideal of chastity, it is not wise to permit yourself or your date to become unduly aroused sexually. Be especially careful about heavy petting. In many, many instances, fine young people who had no intention of actual sex relations have gotton into serious difficulties. It all began so innocently. They merely sat down in a secluded spot to watch the moon with their arms around each other. But one thing led to another. Before they became aware of what had happened, they had both become aroused to a pitch that fairly swept them off their feet. Sometimes they became parents of a baby for whom they were not at all ready to provide. Even if one or the other had ‘come to’ before actual intercourse had taken place, the result was a distressing experience that spoiled the date and placed a barrier between them.

How much petting is proper for you who do not intend to go ‘all the way’? One simple answer is this. Stop before, or at least as soon as one or the other becomes ‘uncomfortable.’ Who should decide? The one that becomes uncomfortable first should. The one who actually has the moral standards will. Until you know what the moral standards of the other person are, and have come to know him or her fairly well, watch your step. Be alert to the signs that the other may interpret as your permission to go further than you intend. Unless you know from previous experience how much the other can be trusted, don’t let yourself get in a position where the other can take advantage. . . .

But suppose that the other person either intends to go all the way, or is shy about telling how he feels, what then? Use the same sense that you would if you were driving along a strange road. Go slowly and with caution until you have had enough dates together so that you both know what to expect.

Who is responsible for upholding the moral standards ~ the boy or the girl? The answer to this is easy. The moral standards should be upheld by the person who has them. Furthermore, on any date, each person should know what the moral standards of the other person actually are, so that there will be no embarrassing misunderstandings.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn M. and Sylvanus M. Sense and Nonsense About Sex. New York: Association Press, 1962.
~pp. 85-86 ~

Oh, Miss Ab, He’s So Fine, He’s So Fine He Blows My Mind

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

the female's response is an all-over oneQ Dear Miss Abigail:

There is this really fine kid who wants to have sex with me. What should I do?


A Dear Linguica:

The question is, what do you want to do? Here’s a bit of advice, not surprisingly from the fifties, to help guide you as you make up your mind.

1956: How to Stop: The Girl’s Responsibility

Down through the ages it has been considered the female’s responsibility to keep relationships between the sexes under control. The big reason apparently is that women are less easily excited by sex stimulation and more slowly moved to demand sexual contact. It is true that on the whole girls are more slowly aroused and can stop love-making more easily than the average male can. The female’s response is an all-over one, generalized rather than localized, and more gradual in its build-up than that of the typical male.

Coupled with this physiologic difference is the fact that girls and boys alike, as well as almost everyone else, consider it the girl’s responsibility “to keep the boys in line.” If two lovers are swept off their feet, it is the girl that is blamed. She is held responsible. She should have known better.

Getting a boy to stop his love-making is hard for some girls. They are so hungry for loving that they cling to any expression of affection that they can evoke. Girls may be so afraid of losing the boy’s affection that they dare not refuse him intimacies that he seems to enjoy. Some girls just do not know how to say no to a boy without hurting his feelings or offending something fine in their relationship. Yet a girl can keep the expressions of affection between herself and her boy friends on a comfortable basis without losing his love, or his friendship, or the sense of everything’s being all right between them. . . .

Stopping love-making that is already advancing at a rapid rate is not easy. But it can be done. Cora was snuggling close to her boy friend in the car late one night. They were both relaxed and happy. They were very fond of each other. He began to kiss her, and she responded eagerly. Then something new came into their love-making as his hand slipped down between her breasts and his kiss took on an intensity that was frightening. Cora struggled free of his embrace, shook her curls with a jerky little laugh saying, “Ooooh, please, you are too much for me.”

Hazel takes a different tack. When a date’s hands begin to wander into the no man’s land which she considers untouchable, she firmly removes the hand as she says with surprise, “Why, this isn’t Tuesday, is it?” The humor, “corny” as it is, is usually enough to stop all but the most explosive of boys.

One girl reports that when she is parked with a boy who insists on going faster in his petting than either of them has brakes for, she turns the key in the ignition and sweetly says “Will you drive, or shall I?” The particular technique a girl uses in assuming her responsibility does not matter so long as it works. If she can do it without making either of them feel shabby, she should by all means. She does not need to preach or to use words at all. Anything she can do which will tell him that she likes him, at the same time that she cannot permit such behavior, will usually work. Some boys are so insistent, that a girl has to know her own mind and be able to back it up with effective methods if she is to hold to her standards.

It comes down, in the last analysis, to how sure a girl is of herself. If she knows who she is in her own heart, if she cares about building toward a rich and full future as a woman, she will be able to put off some of the blind-alley activities that lead nowhere except into crack-ups. Petting is neither good nor bad in itself. It is what it means and what it stands for in a long lifetime of relations with men that gives the perspective a girl needs.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ p. 285-86, 288-89 ~

Kissing is Fun

Monday, July 19th, 2010

that affection which they needQ Dear Miss Abigail:

How do I know if he’s serious about me or just kissing me for fun? He has not expressed his feelings in words.


A Dear Carina:

Ever heard of “petting”? No, I’m not talking about your dog or cat. You know ~ making out, snogging ~ whatever kids these days are calling it. If he’s not displaying affection in any way other than a hot-and-heavy petting session than I think you know what the answer is.

1956: What is Petting?

Petting is love-making between members of the opposite sex. It produces sexual excitement. The ways of petting are many. Any combination of kissing, caressing and bodily nearness is commonly called petting. . .

One might think people pet because they are deeply in love. In reality, there are many other reasons boys and girls make petting a part of their dates. Some think petting is an expected part of dating, and they are afraid of being different ~ afraid of not doing the expected thing. Some young people receive very little love from their own family, so petting offers that affection which they need and want, sometimes unconsciously. Boys and girls who have gotten into the habit of petting from some former dating experiences, feel it is the only pattern for dating behavior. Some young people have found the sexual excitement of petting so tempting that they have become absolutely irresponsible and play at petting as a game ~ a game to be played with any partner available.

Source: Narramore, Clyde M. Life and Love: A Christian View of Sex. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1956.
~ p. 41 ~

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?


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 ~

Joy-riding to the Roadhouse

Monday, July 12th, 2010

course music and inferior liquorThis selection is from Elinor Glyn’s This Passion Called Love, which was published in 1925. Appearing in a chapter entitled “The Results of Petting and Drinking,” this excerpt has some very grave warnings for the youth (particularly the young ladies) of the 1920s. Personally I find “roadhouses” quite enticing, but I guess I could learn a thing or two from Miss Glyn.

1925: Joy-riding to the Roadhouse

In some respects, the automobile has become a disturbing element in the lives of boys and girls. In years past, courtship progressed at the girl’s home, on lovers’-lane strolls, at parties, dances and the like, while to-day the automobile and good roads enable the young people quickly to reach comparatively distant points of entertainment. Roadhouses and wayside inns have sprung up at places of necessary and desirable remoteness, where the restraints of nearby residents are not available for quelling unruly emotions and passions that follow course music and inferior liquor. So, young girls, unless you have been reared with a happy sense of restraint and the fitness of things, you endanger your peace of mind and your good repute by frequenting roadhouses in the company of casual male companions.

True it is that parents are much to blame for a certain slackness in the training and observation of their children. Father and mother, with their car, cannot always expect daughter and her friend to be satisfied to motor quietly about with them. If the parents are too often joy-riding alone themselves, they can hardly expect daughter to remain at home looking over the latest styles or trying out the newest fox-trot.

And, young girls, if you must joy-ride, insist that your escort return you home at an early hour. Do not frequent roadhouses where they serve liquor. Even though you may not drink yourself, you will be credited with having done so. In these days of abominable bootleg poison and lax standards, you may regret to the end of your days the moment you began drinking. Liquor is not for the young. Your blood is fresh and vigorous enough to give you all the stimulus you need. You are naturally vivacious. Impressions are new. You can have simply wonderful times without the assistance of liquor. Spirits will deaden your sense, will lull to sleep your caution, will lead you gradually and unknowingly and pleasantly to indiscretions that your later awakening will horribly contemplate. Heed not the taunts and sneers of your male escort or any other of the ladies of the party who may be indulging in liquor ~ the men may wish you to drink for a purpose, while it cuts the pride of the other girls to have you refrain. Such companions are not your friends ~ they will injure you, not help you.

Source: Glyn, Elinor. This Passion Called Love. Auburn, N.Y.: The Authors’ Press, 1925.
~ pp. 24-26 ~