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 ‘spiders’

Girl Meets Boy. Spider Meets Girl. Boy Likes Girl!

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

silly, but funny-sillyQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I’m a fifteen-year-old girl. I am fairly pretty, and I have had boyfriends before. I have a good social life, I get on with men, and I have an interesting personality. Yet I never get approached by men. I just never seem to meet any suitable ones! Is there something else I should be doing, or will I have to carry on waiting?

Signed,
H.

A Dear H.:

I bet you never thought that a silly little rhyme could help you meet boys. Well, it can! Although you’ve had boyfriends in the past, here’s a little refresher course in introductions and taking that first step toward L-O-V-E. It’s from a recent addition to the collection titled Teen Days. It was written by Frances Bruce Strain in 1946. And yes, “peeny, weeny pider” is what the book really says. Do you think I could make that up?

1946: Getting Under Way

But I hear you say, ‘My trouble is not too many dates, or going after other people’s dates or giving up dates. My trouble is getting under way in the first place.’ The strategic thing is the introduction. . . . Friends bring about introductions and introductions are touchstones. They can make or unmake a first date. What you say, how you say it, the way you look, your voice, gestures, posture, appearance ~ all of these are active forces in whether he says after a few minutes, ‘Let’s sit down somewhere,’ or ‘Can’t we dance this one?’ or ‘Where have you been all my life?’ or ‘You don’t want to dance, let’s talk,’ or whether he says ~ ‘I’m happy to have met you,’ and edges himself away into the distance.

You can make your own introduction through associations at school, or church or just talking the same bus to school, but it is nicer when some friend brings up a boy at some social affair and says ‘Tricksy, I’d like you and Dick to know each other. Tricksy, this is Dick Burns. Dick, this is Beatrice Hale.’ . . .

Introductions must be exploratory, both must share the exchange of remarks which follow. The talk must be small, very small and light. If there hasn’t been any hint given to act as a starter of conversation, you’ll just have to look about you and fasten upon anything that offers itself, even a tiny spider.

At a porch party two newcomers who had just been introduced caught sight of a little spider on the railing. Instead of screaming and acting silly the girl quickly chanted:

‘Oh, a peeny, weeny pider
Went up a water pout.
Down came the rain
And washed the pider out.’

‘Is there any more?’ asked the boy.

‘Oh, yes;

‘Out came the sun
And dried up the rain,
And the peeny, weeny, pider
Went up the pout again.’

Then of course the boy had to take a try at it with the resulting laughter as his piders and pouts got all mixed up. Silly? Yes, silly, but funny-silly. It’s that kind of thing that brings a first
date. 

Source: Strain, Frances Bruce. Teen Days: A Book for Boys and Girls. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1946.
~ pp. 140-42 ~