Thursday, October 25, 2012

Stop that!

Meandering in the diverting thickets of Wikipedia the other day, I came upon The Anti-Flirt Club, a short-lived social movement founded by a group of young women in the Washington, DC area in 1923.

It seems these girls, under the leadership of their President, Alice Reighly, were particularly concerned about the recent growth of the phenomenon of men making passes at women from their motor cars. But their evangelising efforts  were aimed at their own sex rather than at men, aiming to stamp out the dangerous vice of promiscuous flirtation. Their 'Ten Commandments' - a rather repetitive and glibly epigrammatic set of injunctions for more decorous feminine behaviour - included such gems as:

Don't wink—a flutter of one eye may cause a tear in the other.

... and...

Don't annex all the men you can get—by flirting with many, you may lose out on the one.

But my favourite was the bafflingly verbose No. 8:

Don't fall for the slick, dandified cake eater—the unpolished gold of a real man is worth more than the gloss of a lounge lizard.

"Cake eater"?? Several online slang dictionaries I've just consulted are unfamiliar with the term, and it is not immediately evident why such a commonplace and innocuous activity should be associated, in men, with moral turpitude. Perhaps Ms Reighly's eccentric and obscure turn of phrase was to blame for the failure of the Club's great mission.

I am relieved at this failure. I'm rather partial to a spot of flirting myself. No harm can come of it - so long as the lady concerned is a safe distance away down the bar. And is leaving the country the next morning....

[Reading about this odd little campaign of yesteryear reminded me once again of The League of Health and Strength, a morally crusading organisation for young men that was active in Great Britain in the early 1900s.]

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