The More Things Change . . . .

by Judith B. Glad

     Well, actually, I'm not sure they do. Change, that is. Not some things.

     Like romance.

     I imagine that Oog, the Caveman, courted his lady with much the same subtlety as modern men do, although the manners of the times may have made him do it a little differently. And Oogla probably was every bit as coy as a Nineties woman with purple hair and a ring in her nose.

     Regency bucks may have had to contend with chaperones and social strictures, but I'll bet that they managed to steal a kiss or two if they were determined--and if they were determined enough, they may have managed a little pat on a tempting derriere. Surely they must have said more to their ladies than "Pass the biscuits," when they were having tea together, although "How's about it?" might have been thought too bold.

     What about the prudery of the Victorian Era, a time when ladies didn't have legs, but shared limbs with trees, and the mere sight of an ankle was enough to make a strong man swoon? Right. That was also the era when some of the most erotic prose of the English language was composed. You can't convince me that men and women (and yes, even ladies and gentlemen) didn't manage to carry on in all the ways that lead to matrimony--or whatever they had in mind.

     No, I'm not indulging in prurient speculation. I've got the postcards to prove my proposition. At least for the early decades of this century. For instance.....

the bashful maiden, under siege

     My grandfather courted my grandmother with postcards:

Romeo and Juliet, at the turn of the last century

The message was "Please be good & come up to the social & then I will be good too." And she, whom I remember being as prim as they come, got right back at him with this one,

Love surrendering

writing "It will take more than that to make me be good." Granddad was determined, too. There is a whole series of these, dated a day or two apart. Here are two more of them, both showing behavior that must have been publicly unacceptable. At least to the Grammie I knew, who used to have a fit if my mother kissed my father in public:

Spooner's delight -- at the beach

     Their courtship lasted about a year. He was an itinerant carpenter, she an unemployed spinster with her mother to care for. So much of it was necessarily done by mail. They fought at least once, and this card carried his apology:

promise not to do it again

Mostly though, the course of true love ran as smoothly as the Post Office would let it, as shown by these other cards:

unwanted attention?

a close decision

Rapid Pulse

castles in the air

Of course, there was also the time he sent this one. I have no idea of Grammie's reaction:

the lonesome bachelor -- washing dishes!

     A rather more romantic postcard arrived shortly afterward, though.

Love -- but canteloupe....

Shortly after the wedding, Granddad advised his sister-in-law her to treat her husband this way when he was bad:

a place kick

In retaliation, she sent this back to him and Grammie:

I will get you yet!

Another of Grammie's sisters was a frequent writer, and she often used humorous cards, like this one:

a marriage limerick

     The romantic postcards dwindled, although their travels are documented by the postcards they sent home to Grammie's mother. Times must have been bad, because Granddad moved around a lot, seeking work--to Ohio, to Oklahoma, to Ohio again, then to Florida. And it was from Tampa that Grammie sent another postcard to her sister, when Granddad died of influenza in 1918.

     So let me tell you about a friend of mine. She met a man in an Internet newsgroup. They discovered they had a lot in common. Eventually he traveled across the country to meet her, and soon after that they were married.

     I sure wish I could get hold of the emails they exchanged. They'd prove that it's only the medium that changes, not the message of romance.

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