Frankly, My Dear…

I had quite the revelatory weekend. But first, the next book:

The Technique of the Love Affair: by a Gentlewoman was first written in 1928. It caused quite a stir at the time, with Dorothy Parker (beloved wit, glorious alcoholic and devoted divorcee) saying that if she had read the book earlier in life she may have been “successful rather than just successive.” It was out of print for many many years and was recently reprinted (with editorial notes!).

Let me tell you my friends – it is fucking awesome.

It was written in the time of the Bright Young Things and conjures up the frothy, tongue-in-cheek attitude that epitomized the post-WWI era (see also: Noel Coward, Evelyn Waugh and the aforementioned Ms. Parker). It was a time of bootlegged gin, sharp wit and romantic dalliances. The author, Doris Langley-Moore, was only 23 when she wrote the book (she was married at the time but later went on to divorce her husband. Hmm.).

The basic principle revolves around the idea that the “love affair” is an art form and should be viewed as a diverting hobby rather than a necessity. The author advises her readers to garner as many suitors as possible; you’re meant to be light, charming and flirtatious with everyone and invest in no one. It’s all about building and maintaining your “prestige” (which is essentially what we now refer to as the upper hand). By showing a man that you care more for him than he cares for you or by investing in one man to the exclusion of others, you lose your prestige and therefore your appeal.

Essentially, I’m meant to model myself after Scarlett O’Hara for a month (an extremely exciting prospect as I’ve desperately wanted to be Scarlett O’Hara since I first read Gone with the Wind at age 10). I’m intrigued to see if I can manage to keep the upper hand for longer than a couple of days; I tend to start off with quite a lot of hand before quickly pissing it all away on impetuous text messages or “charmingly wacky” second date confessions. Well, no more! From now on, I will be the ultimate coquette.

The Triathlete was the first recipient of the new rules. His ardor waned considerably when I was away and all the keenness seemed to have been sucked out of him. He’d sent a couple of half-assed texts last week but he hasn’t suggested any new plans and has generally been a bit crap.

Now, if I wasn’t following an obscure 1920s dating guide and was just following my natural inclination, I would have texted him suggesting a date. But that obviously would have lessened my prestige so instead, I deleted all of his contact information from my phone. (I know myself all too well and would surely get drunk and send him a belligerent text if left to my own devices. Best to take matters out of my hands).

Saturday night (at a suspiciously late hour and three days after last hearing from him), Triathlete sent an innocuous text message asking how my weekend was shaping up. I ignored it. Sunday night, I replied as breezily and coquettishly as possible. The book encourages you to play suitors off one another and to make it seem as though you constantly have men clamoring for your attention. You’re also meant to fish for gifts. Thus:

“My weekend was great – so busy! It was my birthday so had big night out on Saturday and then spent Sunday in the park with my lovely friend B [Editor's note: more on that later]. How about you?”

It’s true about the birthday and about the park time with a male friend but I would normally never drop two such blatant hints into a single text message.

The response was almost immediate:

“Happy birthday! Seems I owe you a birthday surprise. Weekend was good but sounds like it was much quieter than yours!”

So far, so good. I haven’t responded and don’t have plans to – in order to maintain my prestige I should hold out on him as much as possible, particularly as he’s been a bit remiss of late. And I still haven’t reprogrammed him into my phone. Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen is a central theme in the book.

Right, I’m off to make a dress out of some old curtains for my date tonight with a crinkly-eyed photographer.

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  • Penny says:

    This books sounds a lot more fun than The Rules, but could also be more difficult. I have a hard time keeping my prestige and have also been know to send texts I shouldn’t. The most recent to Happy Bachelor. It was so bad a I didn’t even get a response. That man is good at keeping his prestige.

    Excited to see what happens next!

    • Meows says:

      Just got it from the library–looks much more “academic,” if that’s possible for a book of this nature.
      Not that I was very sucessful at trying to follow along with The Rules, but I suspect this next one will be even harder… multiple men!?! I can barely handle one.
      However, after a particularly awful Saturday night involving CRYING in a BAR over an attractive but emotionally immature dude who I knew just wasn’t that into me, perhaps it’s time to try something new? (Don’t worry, I don’t remember most of the horrid evening, thank god….)
      Anyhow, onward to Tara!

  • Frances says:

    At least this book is a bit closer to your true self. You were a flapper in a previous life, after all.


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