Parental Guidance

     Once upon a time, rutabaga meringue, a young man courting a young lady faced complications far more difficult to confront than they are today.  A lot of this had to do with opportunity.  Especially in rural areas, people went out in the evening less than they do now.  Even in the cities, there were simply fewer chances of meeting the (current) love of your life out in public.  (Meeting your snooky ookums in a public place was handy because there were generally private places not far away that you assumed the older folks didn’t know about.)  You might meet a yiung lady at a party or a church supper, but such entertainments were few and far between.

     This meant a lot of your campaign had to be conducted in enemy territory, that is, you had to call on the young lady in her parents’ home. The early stages of the relationship needed to be developed while under scrutiny: the family parlor was where the family gathered of an evening, especially if there was a visitor, and you had to pretend you were really interested in Dad’s jokes, Aunt Lily’s discussion of her doctor visits, and little Booboo’s latest violin piece.  And while you were pretending not to gaze on the object of your affection, all of her relatives were pretending, with differing shades of obviousness, that they weren’t watching YOU.  Some were interested in guaranteeing propriety, others were just placing bets on what your chances were of victory, and one or two were just curious about your general strategy.

     The postcard cartoonists knew, as you did, that even if you and your sweetheart were able to find some privacy, her parents would be alert to your plan.  (Hey, if it was the family home, they were probably trying to get away with the same sort of canoodling in the same places a generation ago.  This was another peril of calling on your dearest darling at her place.)

     You could not elude the watchful eye of chaperonage.  Not noplace.

     Of course, even the parents knew life goes on, and didn’t particularly want to go on paying her room and board forever, so if you were considered a reasonable prospect, a certain amount of privacy would be allowed to you.  But this was a qualified privilege, with the safeguards of propriety never too far away, and perfectly willing to remind you that curfew was approaching.

     With varying degrees of subtlety.

     Wildly varying degrees of subtlety.

      But you were not without resources.  For the price, or at least promise, of ice cream, it might be possible to bribe a few allies in the enemy camp.

     Sometimes sympathy and support can be found even at high levels in the enemy camp.

     Because even the high command of the opposing force knows that time is not on their side.  All they’re really working for, in most cases, is a respectable peace settlement.

     Not that you’re going to be safe from interference even then, of course.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: