I am not sure how young people today handle themselves in that frightening arena called “courting.” From what I have seen, it may well now mean one’s “day in court.”
Perhaps I am being unfair because the institution of marriage and all that it means appears still to be held in good stead and is, in fact, encouraged in certain countries, ours being one, I think.
However, several recent polls have shown that “living in sin” is certainly a well-trod option in Canada, something that has brought alarm particularly at the club.
My mater would have dryly commented that “It is not unlike having the milk without buying the cow,” which even back then was felt to be harsh, but food for thought nonetheless.
I so dislike the term “back in my day,” but back in my day, the girls of our crowd had what was called “the triage,” where the available men were strained through a very thin screen into three categories. During the First World War, the term had quite a different connotation. There were so many wounded that the medics would save the easiest first, the more serious second and the ones not expected to make it were made as comfortable as possible, drugged to ease the pain until expiration.
The system used by our girls was more subtle, as might be expected.
The first: Stupid but with a trust fund (STF). The second: Appalling but expected to inherit (AEI). Finally, the one that most of us fell into: Ghastly (G).
The only nice thing about the “ghastly” dumping ground was that one had a great deal of company. After a while, the girls realized that there were only so many chaps in the first two boxes who were quickly depleted, and so they cast their eyes downward toward us. They then began to sort the “ghastly” group into sub-species such as “Salvageable with a great deal of work” or “Poor as a church mouse but cute” or “Mummy likes him.” Then there was where I went: “Putrid.”
There were very many fewer in the “putrid” grouping than had been in the general “ghastly” box, but one or two braver ones took on a reverse form of elitism, which seemed to bring cheer to them, while I moped about thinking dark thoughts.
Sometimes one is in luck, and so it was with me. My future wife Kitty had early on cut one out from the small herd consisting of STF types and was now closing for the kill.
She and her frightful mother had decided that an extremely wealthy idiot called Clive was the bird (mixed metaphors) for them. They had circled him for months, with Clive appearing agreeable to the match as Kitty was one of the debutante catches that season.
But even an imbecile like Clive took umbrage at being fitted for the nose ring at an alarming speed between the soup and the fish at such an early stage.
It was clear that Kitty’s mum had overplayed her hand, for Clive became skittish, breaking from his halter and tearing off for places unknown.
Years later we heard that he married someone interesting in Uzbekistan.
Kitty was beside herself, because if not Clive then whom?
There was no one left in the first two categories, STF and AEI, with a few malingerers in G and in sub-species “putrid,” mainly me and a very nervous albino.
After sending scouts to ascertain whether I had been mislabelled in error and finding it not so, Kitty and her melancholy parent called upon my somewhat shocked mother to see what my prospects were. Mother, always a frank woman, said I had a nice smile.
I know why in the end Kitty married me, and it was not just that her parents had already spent a good deal on the anticipated reception and honeymoon. She just gave up.
Once again, the tortoise streaks across the finish line.
© Copyright 2013