Thursday, May 14, 2009

Damsel in Distress (Patricia)

I'm glad this topic came up, because I have the perfect entry for it.

As I do regularly, some time ago I went browsing the $1 racks at the incomparable Strand Bookstore in NYC (if you're in the city, go see it: 13th St. and Broadway, Manhattan). One of the books that caught my eye was Follow Me: Travels and trysts abroad for the woman alone by Jean Baer. After sitting on my shelf for some weeks, its time came and I picked it up. It turns out the book is a guide for the modern woman of the 1950s-- half about how she should travel alone, and half about how she should pick up men on her travels. The advice given is amazing to my 21st century liberated-female-trained-in-liberal-educational-institutions eyes. What's outstanding is Ms. Baer's desire to travel alone, in a sort of rebellious emancipation from the day' norms that would require her not to, combined with the advice given, as below. But then, really, experience tells me men still get tickled by the idea of helping a damsel in distress. Yes, even in 2009. So maybe the paragraph below is helpful?? (unless, by following this particular advice to the letter, you could also get yourself into a lot of trouble!)

Without further ado, here is an excerpt from Ms. Baer about using your Damsel in Distress act to pick up a gentleman... Ladies, read up:

"Play Helpless. The damsel-in-distress strategy works much better outside the U.S.A. Standard devices: be unable to understand the currency, cope with change, read the street signs, get on the right bus, follow directions from the slip of paper in your hand, or read your map. On ships you can be confused by a life preserver, on buses by where to get off, and on planes by how to hook a seat belt. All these dilemmas make it necessary for you to ask help from a man. When choosing your prospect, pick one who is not wearing a wedding ring. (Most Europeans do wear wedding rings, often on the right hand, so in nine cases out of ten you are pretty safe with the man minus the band; for the tenth case, proceed at your own risk.) If at first you don't succeed, don't give up. For example, you buy a large street map, unfold it while standing at a busy intersection, and look puzzled. If ten minutes later you're still puzzled, head for another corner and try again." (p. 81)


  1. This reminds me of a book I read recently called The Dud Avocado. (I loved it so much!) It is about a young girl travelling alone in Paris in the 50s. Sally Jay wasn't much of a Damsel in Distress, but now i want to read THIS book!

  2. oh this is amazing. haha. loveit!