Advice takes a step back in time


Web site: offers timeless common-sense solutions to modern-day dilemmas.

June 01, 1999

"Hello, dear friends, and welcome to my online home," Miss Abigail invites. "Take a step back in time with me as I pull out relevant quotes, tidbits and words of wisdom from my collection of old advice books in a quest to solve your modern-day dilemmas."

The Web site is "Miss Abigail's Time Warp Advice," found at On it, Miss Abigail, a k a Abigail Grotke, posts timeless common sense about "puberty, dating, love, living together, marriage, sex, relationships, etiquette, home repair and housekeeping" from her collection of 252 books, spanning the years from 1822 to 1977.

"A somewhat conscious decision was made to not extend the collection past the mid-1970s," she writes. "For one thing there are just too many crazy books on these topics . . . and besides, they just aren't as funny or interesting. Good illustrations, good advice for the times, a historical perspective and especially the humor -- that is what I search for."

Each week, Miss Abigail posts a "Selection of the Week," most recently "In Flight," from 1934. There is also a weekly question from a Web site visitor, to which Miss Abigail responds with advice from her collection. Here are some of Miss Abigail's gems.

Q. Do you have any tips on kissing?

A. (From "How to Make Love," 1936.) "Now is your chance. The moment you feel the tip of your nose touch her scalp, purse your lips and kiss her, the while you inhale a deep breath of air that is redolent with the exquisite odor of her hair. It is then but a few inches to her ear. Touch the rim of her ear with your lips in a sort of brushing motion. Breathe gently into the delicate shell. Some women react passionately to this subtle act. . . .

[Several paragraphs follow, as the swain works his way around from the ear to the neck to the corner of the mouth, nipping with "the same gentleness as would a cat lifting her precious kittens."]

Ahead of you lies that which had been promised in your dreams, the tender, luscious lips of the girl you love. But don't sit idly by and watch them quivering. Act! Lift your lips away slightly, center them so that when you make contact there will be a perfect union. Notice, only momentarily, the picture of her teeth in her lips, and then, like a seagull swooping gracefully down through the air, bring your lips down firmly onto the lips of the girl who is quivering in your arms. Kiss her!

Q. What is the proper etiquette for lighting someone else's cigarette?

A. (From "Emily Post's Etiquette," 1945.) Striking a match directly at someone -- most often outdoors and "with the wind" -- belongs in the category with a pointed gun, should the head of the match fly off and land -- or sparks blow -- on a woman's inflammable dress.

Q. How are men and women different in love?

A. (From "Her Royal Highness Woman and His Majesty Cupid," 1901.) Man is capable of love as earnestly as woman is; but love is not the whole business of his life, whereas it is a woman's. When a child, she loves her doll, when a girl, her mother; when a woman, a man. She can feed on love and die of it. When a mother, she loves her children; when she dies, surrounded by beloved grandchildren, she may say that her life has been well filled. . . .

A man really loves once only. I knew a man under 50 who was married three times. He was a good and devoted husband to his three wives, but he never really loved but the second. If he dies suddenly without having time to take all his precautions, the portrait of his second wife will be found on his heart.

The reason of this is that men and women love in different ways. A man loves because his whole being -- heart, soul and body -- craves for a woman. A woman often gives herself to a man because it pleases her to be loved by him. For a man, love is the pleasure he feels in the company of a woman; for a woman, it is the enjoyment of the pleasure she gives to a man.

Q. What turns off a man?

A. (From "How to Win and Hold a Husband," 1939.) Don't look overjoyed when a man dates you up. Take it as a matter of course. A man thinks he must be a sap if he is the only one who ever notices you. Act as if you could take 'em or leave 'em and it didn't matter which to you.

Don't be too easy. No man wants the peach that threatens to fall in his mouth whether he desires it or not. The one he craves is the one that he has to climb a little for, but not too much or too high. So calculate your distance and don't really get beyond arm's reach.

Don't overdress. A man likes a girl to wear pretty clothes, but she scares him off when she decks herself out in what looks like a million dollars' worth of finery. He begins to figure the upkeep of a wife who is addicted to Parisian gowns and hats, and then he decides that he can't afford her.

Don't brag about your conquests and tell how many men you could have married. It gives a boy cold feet because he feels that he will be Exhibit X in your collection of scalps, and you will be giving some other boy all the gory details of how you slew him.

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