On not being a lady
One of my favorite books is The Wheeler Dealers by ‘Adam Smith’. Our hero was originally from Massachusetts; however he has transformed himself into a cardboard Texan. Our heroine, Molly, is a young woman who is trying to make it as a stock broker. They work out a deal in which he teaches her how to manipulate stocks and she teaches him about culture. As part of the deal they do a bit of smooching on the side.
As a side note, the book begins with a discussion by two young women about the lines that men use. One such was the claim that sex is good for the teeth, the reasoning being that sex reduces tension, tension creates acid, acid harms teeth. In the end as our heroine is preparing to share the hero’s bed, she tells him, “You have no idea how good this is going to be for our teeth.”All goes well with the stock manipulation; as may be expected, the course of true love does not run smooth. There is a blowup when she discovers his perfidy (his mother and hers were college friends at one of the seven sisters.) In their exchange there is a critical passage wherein he informs her that she is not a lady. The actual passage runs much as follows: A lady is interested in flar’s and children. Somehow I misread (or misremembered) it as “flar’s and books’.
That is for me, I thought. I am interested in flowers and books. Ergo I must be a lady. Every now and then I would explain to people that I was a lady and would explain why I was a lady. Granted that I didn’t have a lady’s figure, but that was no bar – one doesn’t need a figure to be a lady; many ladies do quite without.
The book was quite a favorite; I reread it several time. Evntually it disappeared as books so often do in my abode. (Everything disappears in my abode, only to be rediscovered at a later, unforseeable date.)
Eventually it resurfaced as the missing so often do in my abode. It as though I were a scavenger dwelling amidst the ruins of a giant necropolis, profiting by my findings in the midden of my mind.
My joy in my rediscovery was mixed. The prodigal pages had returned. I opened them, determined to enjoy once more the tale within. Imagine my dismay when I encountered the fatal passage. It wasn’t “flar’s and books”. It was “flar’s and children”.
I can claim books among my interests. It was otherwise with children. I enjoy them – I can play with them, and, in an older time, dandle them on my knee (dandling is out these days – society looks with suspicion on unmarried men who dandle children) – but they do not excite my interest other than momentarily.
Lacking that essential qualification, I found myself to have been deceived about being a lady. It is just as well. When I was a lady people told me that I dressed so oddly for a lady. Real ladies do dress oddly but not as oddly as I.
This page was last updated December 1, 2002.