Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Evolution of Political Correctness - Part II

Don’t Be Too Forward

If you are a woman and if you captured your significant other in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s, than I have to ask you a few questions. Did he chase you or did you chase him? Did you reveal what was in your heart before he revealed what was in his? Did you call him when he didn’t call you? Did you ask any of these questions – “Will I see you again?” “Can I have your phone number?” “When can I call you?” Or did you introduce any of these topics into conversation --- Going steady? Exchanging class rings? Next date? Marriage? Wedding garments, rings, rituals?

If you did, excuse me, but weren’t you just a little bit ‘too forward’? Did no one ever educate you in the Not-too-Forward-Political-Correctness (NTFPC) policy for young women?

In the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s – the NTFPC policy was in effect and rule number one was – men are in charge. They must be the ones to ask to see you again, ask for your phone number or broach the big question. Young ladies immediately lost all dignity and appeal by being brazen enough to reveal the intent of their hearts before he revealed the intent of his. And furthermore, most guys left nothing but a roiling trail of dust when assertive girls ignored the policy.

As a young women I had sound instruction in the policy. I understood the policy. But no one can be on duty 24 - 7, so sometimes when I was off-duty I did ‘sport fishing’. It was a nice break because when I was off-duty I could ignore the NTFPC policy and say anything I wanted to say, bring up any topic I wanted to, and tell some bewildered fellow to pick me up at 2:00 the next day. And then I could lay down the rules whether we were going to a dance, dinner, or shopping. Having broken the rules of the NTFPC policy, I pretty much expected I would never see him again, but so what – he was just one of those temporary catches that didn’t matter anyway.

But other times, I was doing serious fishing with only one thought paramount – to hold and to keep. And so, if that was the case I never ever said, “Do you want my phone number or where can I reach you?” I never said, no matter how lovesick, “Will you phone me?” I determined not to reveal the intent of my heart until he revealed the intent of his. Too ever-present was my real fear of a quick exit and a roiling trail of dust….

And that might have been all well and good but there was a spin-off from observing the rules of the NTFPC philosophy. I also, just realized the other day, that when in that catch and hold pattern, I never showed much appreciation either. I never said things I should have said. “I really had a lovely time. Thank you for asking me to come.” I never said, “I really enjoyed my evening,” or “will I see you again?” But that is the problem with Politically Correct Policies – they certainly put a damper on spontaneity. So you may well ask, if I never revealed what was in my heart, how did I catch Hub?

It is all quite amazing considering the impact of the NTFPC policy. I couldn’t be so ‘forward’ as to suggest to Hub that I was interested in marriage though that was my hidden hope. Everything I wanted to say, felt compelled to say, was so politically incorrect. Far “too forward”. So finally, at my wit’s end, I tried to diplomatically skirt the issue by suggesting that we go to the Marriage Licensing Office (MLO) for the purpose of self-education. It couldn’t hurt for us to know what getting married entails. It couldn’t hurt for us to know if, perchance, someday we might want to marry “ “ “someone” ” ” what was involved – if there was a waiting period, if blood tests were required, how much it cost, etc.

But the day we went to the MLO, the office was so busy, there was no time for explanations or questions. Before we knew what was happening, a clerk pushed us into a line-up and then with utmost swiftness and efficiency we were questioned, spun into a small chamber for blood tests, and out the door with a Marriage License in hand.

I brought it home, stuck it in a drawer, and there it stayed. But one day, while Hub was looking in the drawer for something else, the License resurfaced. He checked it out and that’s when he realized it had a fast-approaching Expiry Date. Had we discussed the matter? Of course not, cause it was up to him to bring the subject up.

And I never asked, which was how it was supposed to be. I never pressed, which was how it was supposed to be. But Hub, meanwhile, must have been frustrated at my reserved coolness about marriage and so he looked at the license and proposed in a rather oblique way with this stern ultimatum.

“If I’m not good enough to marry, I’m not good enough to be here, and if I’m not good enough to be here, I am walking out this door right now and you will never see me again!”

When he said that I panicked. And of course, I happily agreed to marry him.


When my kids were growing up, these were such busy years that everything remains a blur. But despite that I remained convinced that I passed on to them all the solid values of my upbringing including the NTFPC policy. But apparently not. Last week I had this discussion with one of my daughters and at the conclusion she looked at me in stunned silence, then laughed and laughed. “Oh Mom,” she said, “that is the funniest thing I ever heard. Will you be really dismayed if I tell you within those confines, I was much too forward.”


Joy Des Jardins said...

I LOVED this post Roberta! You are so right about the "rules" back then....God Forbid! Times sure have changed...some definitely for the better; some maybe questionable.

Loved reading about you and your husband's great! You are not only a wonderful storyteller; but you do it with such beautiful humor. That ALWAYS makes me come back for more.

Matty said...

Wonderful post Roberta. I can't help but think you 'had it all planned'.....of course you never mentionned it,,,,,you did everything but! Bet you even put it in the drawer that you knew he would be looking....didn't you? My my,,,my mom would have said you were a brazen young lady.
Did he ever catch on? haha!

Roberta S said...

Hi, joy. You certainly made my day. I was sorely tempted to cancel this post because it seemed so totally dumb. I'm glad, surprised, pleased as punch you enjoyed it.

It is also surprising that the interpretation I extracted from my upbringing was not only unique to me. I was not so twisted. Others believed the same.

Roberta S said...

Hi matty, there is a devious thought in your comment but I'm not so slow, I caught it. I laugh with good humor about the way you processed this. You are smart and funny, and I mean that sincerely.

Pauline said...

I read this through and then went right back and read it through again. How I remember all those strictures! Glad Hub had the sense to finally speak up lol. And your daughter's response could have come from my own daughter's mouth!

Roberta S said...

Hi Pauline. Things have sure done an about face, haven't they? I have no way of knowing but I wonder how the 'new' seemingly reverse-approach is working? The unfortunate part of the old policy was it didn't take into account that fellows can have the same insecurities as gals can.

Pauline said...

Did they ever! It wasn't until I was in my 50s that I learned a fellow I'd had an enormous crush on also had one on me but was too shy to say so! Makes one wonder how different our lives would have been if only...

joared said...

I wed in the early 60's and thought all that political correctness stuff was left over from the 50's and here I was still following some of it.

I thought surely everybody else in the 60's, especially 70's and 80's had long since thrown it out the door and I was behind the curve.

Interesting how you finally got to the point of marriage. Strange sometimes how things work out.

Roberta S said...

Interesting comment joared. Seems like this philosophy had a longer life span that we ever suspected.