Ladies, rev your engines! It’s Leap Day, and you know what that means: It’s the one day out of every four years that you can ask a man to marry you and not seem like a wayward whore.
In a custom that dates back to 5th-century Ireland, folks thought of Leap Day as a day that was sort of beyond the law. Tradition was out the window, and it became a veritable Wild West of love, ladies and gentlemen. You see, during leap years (but particularly on Leap Day), it was fine for a woman to act the aggressor. As one Irish site put it, “Consequently, women who were concerned about being ‘left on the shelf’ took advantage of this anomaly and proposed to the man they wished to marry.”
Not a love match? Then the fella better prepare to pay up. In 1288, Scottish law was supposedly passed stating that a woman could propose marriage in leap years, but if she was turned down, the man owed her a kiss, a silk gown, or a pair of gloves (take the dress!). In Denmark, scorned ladies came away with a dozen pairs of gloves.
Ladies lying in wait.
Men, it’s time for you to slug back a Leap Year highball, and get ready to grin and bear it. Happy Leap Day!
(Thank you to Bridget for the tip! And happy birthday to Lori!)
Yowza. This is a 1913 letter to writer H.G. Wells from his longtime lover, writer Rebecca West.
Hell hath no fury and all that.
During the next few days I shall either put a bullet through my head or commit something more shattering to myself than death. At any rate I shall be quite a different person. I refuse to be cheated out of my deathbed scene. I don’t understand why you wanted me three months ago and don’t want me now. I wish I knew why that were so. It’s something I can’t understand, something I despise. And the worst of it is that if I despise you I rage because you stand between me and peace. Of course you’re quite right. I haven’t anything to give you. You have only a passion for excitement and for comfort. You don’t want any more excitement and I do not give people comfort. [...] On reflection I can imagine that the occasion on which my mother found me most helpful to live with was when I helped her out of a burning house. I always knew that you would hurt me to death someday, but I hoped to choose the time and place. You’ve always been unconsciously hostile to me and I have tried to conciliate you by hacking away at my love for you, cutting it down to the little thing that was the most you wanted. I am always at a loss when I meet hostility, because I can love and I can do practically nothing else. I was the wrong sort of person for you to have to do with. You want a world of people falling over each other like puppies, people to quarrel and play with, people who rage and ache instead of people who burn. You can’t conceive a person resenting the humiliation of an emotional failure so much that they twice tried to kill themselves: that seems silly to you. I can’t conceive of a person who runs about lighting bonfires and yet nourishes a dislike of flame: that seems silly to me.You’ve literally ruined me. I’m burned down to my foundations. I may build myself again or I may not. You say obsessions are curable. But people like me who swing themselves from one passion to another, and if they miss smash down somewhere where there aren’t any passions at all but only bare boards and sawdust. You have done for me utterly. You know it. That’s why you are trying to persuade yousrelf that I am a coarse, sprawling, boneless creature and so it doesn’t matter. [...] But I know you will derive immense satisfaction from thinking of me as an unbalanced young female who flopped about in your drawing-room in an unecessary heart-attack.”
(On wedding tours)
“Custom prescribes a journey immediately after marriage, of a week or a month or two. It is an unwise provision. The event itself is disturbance enough for the system; and to hurried hither and thither, stowed in narrow berths and inconvenient carriages, troubled with baggage, and annoyed by the importunities of cabmen, waiters, and hangers-on of every description, is enough, in ordinary times, to test the temper of a saint.
“The foundation of many an unhappy future is laid on the wedding tour. Not only is the young wife tried beyond all her experience, and her nervous system harassed, but the husband, too, partakes of her weakness. Many men, who really love the women they marry, are subject to a slight revulsion of feeling for a few days after marriage. . . A half regret crosses their minds for the jolly bachelorhood they have renounced.”
–The Physical Life of Woman
Told ya so.
“So you are going to be married?
Teen timers, if you have a noggin filled with notions about tying the nuptial knot, lend a listen to some straight from the shoulder chatter on the matter of marriage.
If Jallopy Joe or Jeanie with the light brown hair bob has you cloud hopping when the door bell rings at date time, you are suffering from the acute symptoms of pedigreed puppy love. If you think Tom is tops or Jane is a wonderful girl, all well and good. High school is the time when mutual admiration begins. But — be cautious, Hep cats!!! The accent is on mutual admiration, not intense amour. The three r’s still remain reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, not ‘riting and ‘romance. We cannot mix coy glances and giddy giggles with a geometry proposition or the swoony sensations of first love with ancient history.”
–Teen Talks by a Teen Ager
The Catholic church, ladies and gentlemen!
I recently received this slang-heavy manual, along with several other pamphlets, from my friend Alicia. This was the first one I opened, and my jaw about hit the floor when I saw that it was a Catholic printing. Now I kind of wish there was such a thing as be-bop Mass. Dig?
Oh, to own this album!
Tracks for the fellas include “Getting the Most from Your Secretary” and “Little Man You’ll Have a Busy Day.” Ladies can enjoy such hits as “How to Love a Man If You Aren’t Pretty” and “How to Talk to a Man in Bed.”
All you phonograph record collectors out there, please keep an eye out for me!
“I repeat, sexual, physical attraction is the basis, the foundation of love . . . Love is blind, but Love also sees acutely and penetratingly; it sees things which we who are indifferent cannot see. [Love's] penetrating vision helps her to see good qualities which are invisible to others. And a homely person may possess certain compensating physical qualities–such as passionate ardor or strong sexual power–which render him or her irresistible to a member of the opposite sex.
But homeliness, ugliness or deformity have their limits, and I challenge anybody to bring forth an authenticated case in which a man fell in love with a woman–or vice versa–who had an enormous tumor on one side of the face, which made her look like a monstrosity, or whose nose was sunk in as a result of lupus or syphilis, or whose cheek was eaten away by cancer. Love under such circumstances is an absolute impossibility, because there is physical aversion here, and physical aversion is fatal to the genesis of love. A man who loved a woman may continue to love her after she has become disfigured by disease, but he cannot fall in love with such a woman.”
–Woman: Her Sex and Love Life
Oh man. Don’t get him started on fatties.
“Yes, love is a woman’s whole life.
Some modern women might object to this. They might say that this was true of the woman of the past, who was excluded from all other avenues of human activity. The woman of the present day has other interests besides those of Love. But I claim that this is true of only a small percentage of women; and in even this small minority of women, social, scientific, or artistic activities cannot take the place of love . . .
Nothing can fill the void made up by the lack of love. The various activities may help cover up the void, to protect it from strange eyes, but they cannot fill it. For essentially women is made for love. Not exclusively but essentially, and a woman who has had no love in her life has been a failure.”
–Woman: Her Sex and Love Life
Really, anyone who reads Cathy on a regular basis already knows this.