Parlor at the Bolling Haxall House; Library of Congress, Prints and
Photographs Division (reproduction number LC-DIG-highsm-16629)
Some of my readers have mused, “What advice might May give to a woman suffering the capricious whims of men’s ways?” So, herewith, are May’s remedies for some vexing situations.
My fiancé says he only has eyes for me, but whenever we’re around other women he constantly ogles them. How can I keep his eyes from wandering?
Distressed in Dubuque
Pshaw, girl, your problem is not his roving eye. Of course a man’s eyes will wonder. How do you imagine he found you? You merely need to assure yourself that he will bestow his gifts and favors on you and you alone. But you haven’t told me if you’re content with your engagement ring. That is the all-important starting point. If it is not the best and biggest he can afford, finagle that very thing out of him before you put my plan into motion.
Now, once you have a nice diamond gracing your delicate hand, you must find a friend, a beautiful friend that your betrothed has not yet laid eyes on. Then you must set her to work on testing your husband-to-be’s fidelity. When she looks invitingly at him, does he ask her to dinner? When she dines with him, does he propose an after-dinner stroll? When he walks her to her doorstep, does he plant even the most innocent of pecks on her cheek?
If he can resist the temptation of a beautiful woman then you needn’t bother your sweet head about those roving eyes. But if he should succumb, well, you’re better off without him, that is, as long as you keep that nice diamond.
May, the proud owner of a French bulldog, never spared the diamonds.
I am a young woman of modest means. However, many men have remarked on my beauty. Why, then, can I not land a well-to-do husband? Here in New York it’s hard to break into the circles of the wealthy, even though I frequent the opera and symphony as often as my meager budget allows. Working as a ticket agent at the theatre is not exactly lucrative. What am I doing wrong? Should I try Europe?
Lonely in New York
Yes, breaking into the right circle is just what you should do—you’ve got that much right. But your employment circumstances will never do. You must find your way into the world you wish to inhabit; only then will the doors of high society open to you. And I daresay slogging away at some second-rate job will not get you there. Why ever would a rich man take the tiniest interest in a dreary working girl?
We women must sometimes make little sacrifices, though not without first artfully withholding those sacrifices and thereby increasing their value. You must identify a recipient worthy of your sacrifices and charm—a man who runs in the circles you strive to penetrate, ideally one who will not restrict your freedom while you endeavor to seek out that perfect, more permanent companion.
Above all, you must understand that you deserve such a companion. Never doubt that you are worthy of the very thing you yearn for, and do not undercut the one quality you need most as you embark on this venture—confidence.
As for Europe: If you have a titled or wealthy relative, even the most distant of family, then get thee there! Why bother traipsing all over New York if you have some European kin nicely ensconced in a castle?
I raise a glass of the best champagne to you. Enjoy the journey!