Sunday, July 5, 2015

Not About Thomas Merton: escort cards of yesteryear



  

Now these are interesting, sort of. One of them things you see on Facebook, a link-to rather, while you're scrollin' along trying to ignore unbelievably hot-air-inflated, narcissistic swaggering and self-absorbed primping by writers who want you to know, in no uncertain terms, that they are More Successful Than You (while pretending to bewail the fact that they only sold 250 copies at their latest book-signing). Never mind. So you click on it, and sometimes it's interesting. More often than not it's a time-waster. But this is a little piece of sociological history. I didn't know about these things, presumably passed from a gentleman to a lady, and I am not at all sure what the exact meaning of it was, or the protocol. Was the gentleman in question really supposed to walk the lady home for reasons of safety? So she wouldn't have to traverse those dangerous streets alone?




"I shall be miserable if I can't love you" can be taken any number of ways, as can the description "sensible and good". He seems to be saying "your virtues are all on display, now please can I take them away"?






Hell, these are pickup things. What else COULD they be? How could you hand one of these cheesy things to someone you already know, and if you DON'T know her, doesn't the whole thing smack of "transaction"?




Think about it, though. If a lady walked alone, particularly in the evening, it sent a particular message. Kind of like all those elaborate signals you could send with a fan (like "come hither" or "up yours"). This one sounds like something out of a 1930s Busby Berkeley musical: "my style and complexion/going in your direction". Selection, affection: cute. But this innuendo-laden promise of "protection" is starting to remind me of an ad for Trojans.




Cute devil cartoons aside, the whispers between the lines are interesting. "Confidential card", "between ourselves": these don't seem to bespeak a jolly little talk between a lady and gent as he accompanies her a few blocks to her front porch. These seem to hint at Something Else.






Why am I suddenly thinking of Belle Watling's whorehouse in Gone with the Wind?




Here's a good one, with a little Cupid-esque figure on it. It talks about "appointing time and place for an interview" - and I don't think they mean for a typing job. The droll misspelled postscript "enter nous" seems to have a double meaning, somehow.




So. If she won't go home with him, he wants to reserve the privilege of staring at her as she walks by. Creepy.




This one expresses more ardour, or else is more arduous than the others. Strangely, two amphibia frolic (with no clothes on!), and "blissful" pleasure is hinted at. The card-bearer and his potential inamorata are "two souls with but a single thought; two hearts that beat as one". Very, very interesting indeed.




More ogling from the fence. Miawwwwww!




Sa-a-a-a-a-ay, are these cards really what I think they are?  For if they are, all this is beginning to seem a bit pink about the edges.




And I ask you, what could be so erotically-charged as an oven mitt? Such a signal could leave no doubt as to a gentleman's intentions. God only knows what those initials stand for.



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