Monday, January 28, 2013

What I'm Thinking As I Browse Through OkCupid

A Mother Life

I actually browsed through OkCupid for an extra long time just to find material for this blog post. You're welcome. Also, no one will ever message, meet, sleep with or stalk me ever again after this. You're double welcome, and also, thank you RE: the stalking thing.

“I prefer to tell the truth even if it hurts someone's feelings” – translation: “I'm an asshole who feels entitled to tromp all over others' feelings because they're whiny little babies who just can't handle the truth! There's nothing wrong with me, I'm a martyr to those who can't cope with my virtuous nature!” Thank you Gods of Internet Dating for helping me avoid these fuckers altogether.

“I'm looking for someone hardworking and respectful” – translation: “I'm looking for someone who doesn't need to be told twice IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.”

I won't make light of domestic violence but don't go out with this dude.

“Hi! I met my girlfriend on OkCupid and we're married now but I'm keeping my profile up CAUSE YOU COULD ALWAYS USE MORE FRIENDS!” – Sure, buddy. Fuck off.

“I hate liars and fake-ass people” – translation: “I'm a lying fake-ass motherfucker.”

“I don't do drama” – translation: “I DO ALL THE DRAMA LET ME DO SOME WITH YOU!”

“I'm in an open relationship but would love to meet new people.” – No you're not, shut up.

“I'm a dick” – Thank you for being honest.

I Spend a Lot of Time Thinking About: “Girls!” – You don't say?

“I had imaginary friends till I was twelve” – I still have imaginary friends. Wait, that makes me look bad, not him.

Oh well.

“Six Things I Could Never Do Without: A beautiful woman” – PFFFFFT please. *eyeroll*

"Six Things I Could Never Do Without: Sex" -- Stay classy.

“My friends tell me I'm a nice guy” – Is this a roundabout way of saying “I'm a nice guy” while not actually saying it? Are the nice guys getting wise? Do they know we're on to them?

Private Message: "Hey sexy, I think you're sexy" -- This is hot because dudes who think I'm an ugly shitbag message me and ask me for dates CONSTANTLY. Not. Sleazebucket.

“On a Typical Friday Night I Am: watching a movie while doing my laundry” – Oh man you sound so interesting.

“I love music and sound.” – You realize there's a huge difference between those two things, right?

“I am looking for someone who takes care of herself.” – I'm not sure, but I think this means “No fatties.”

You look like a ferret. I shouldn't make fun of you for that but I can't help myself.

Poor ferret-face, it's not your fault you look like a ferret. :'(


If your whole profile is just the lyrics to a popular song, split up to look like sentences and shit, please kill yourself.

DO NOT pretend to be someone else, such as a fictional character, cyborg, marionette or robot, unless you're the sort of very talented writer who can pull this off. Hint: You are not such a writer.

Dudes! DUDES! Stop posting pics of yourselves with your arms around other women. I don't care if it's your cousin, your sister or your grandma playing air guitar while snarling. Unless you specifically say otherwise, I'm going to assume that these are women who you have banged/are banging/will bang/want to bang, and I will immediately decide not to meet you. Yeah, some chicks might be turned on by the thought of the "challenge" of having competition. Do you want the word "cheater" keyed onto your car? No, you don't. Or maybe you do. I don't know, some people are into some weird shit. To each his own, I always say.

Finally, please post at least one picture that:

  • Is objectively good. Ask your friends to help you find a picture that makes you look like a well-groomed, appealing human being and not a sweaty, red-faced monster who's under the influence of multiple substances.
  • Clearly shows your face. Remember, no one wants to go on an internet date. No one ever wants to go on an internet date. No one. EVER. Wants to go. On an internet date. You could miss out on meeting someone really cool (like me) because they said to themselves, "I dunno, I don't even know what he looks like." And don't be making us ask for your pictures or try to be all coy like "I'll send you my pictures after we've chatted" or some shit like that. Do you think you're too good to put your pictures on the internet? Are you ashamed that you've had to stoop to online dating? Are you married? Will these pictures you're going to send us prominently feature your cock? These are the sorts of questions people ask themselves when you won't post a photo of your face.
  • Shows you smiling. There are two reasons for this -- first, if you're not smiling, you look like you're scowling. It doesn't matter that you aren't actually scowling. You will look like you are scowling even if you're not. Depending on how bald/hairy/beardy/babyfaced/muscular/tattooed/pierced/gaunt you are, you could come off looking tortured, brooding, melodramatic or overly serious. For the most part, however, you'll just look like a serial killer, and no one wants to date a serial killer. The second reason for smiling is that it shows you have all your teeth. I wouldn't even have thought of that before I wound up meeting more than one dude who was missing teeth. You might think I'm being shallow, but I think teeth are pretty important. If you are missing teeth and you'd like to keep that to yourself until you meet someone in person, you could at least do that thing where you smile without showing your teeth.

At least you won't look like a serial killer.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #61: Phrenology Edition

Phrenology is the belief that you can tell what a person is like by feeling their skull. I’ve always been sort of fascinated by the idea. While kind of totally not true, phrenology introduced some important ideas to the world, such as the concept that certain parts of the brain have specific functions, and that thought and behavior originate in the brain.

That's more than palmistry has ever done for us.

1) The pseudoscience of phrenology was invented in 1796 by a German doctor named Franz Joseph Gall. Gall believed that the brain was made up of an amalgam of different organs, 27 to be exact. By feeling the surface of the cranium, phrenologists could detect swellings, enlargements, shrinkages, and so forth in the brain organs. The phrenologist might use a head caliper, or craniometer, to measure the size of the head. Enlargement of a particular brain organ meant that the person was likely to exhibit personality traits associated with that particular region, such as combativeness, friendship or self-esteem.

Pictured here.

2) The Scottish lawyer and writer George Combe was largely responsible for the spread of phrenology’s popularity. It took off among the middle and working classes, who felt well pleased with themselves to be learning about science. Phrenology’s emphasis on inherent personality traits allowed for the criticism of upper and aristocratic classes, which were seen as having abused their own inherent personality traits. Knowledge of one’s inherent traits was also viewed as an important tool for self-improvement and social mobility. Even though it sounds silly to most people today, phrenology was well-respected for at least the first half of the 19th century; many important scholars and medical professionals supported it.

3) Mesmerist John Elliotson incorporated the principles of phrenology into his mesmerism treatments at his mesmerism hospital. Elliotson mesmerized people and then poked at their heads in order to improve and reform their behavior. I’m sure this worked wonderfully.

4) By the 1840s, the evidence against phrenology was too strong to allow it to continue as a mainstream scientific discipline. Experiments conducted by Jean Pierre Flourens on pigeons established that damage to some parts of the brain didn’t equate to loss of the functions or “faculties” associated with that part of the brain, or that it caused impairments of an altogether different type. Later, in the 20th century, phrenology experienced a brief, but small, revival, and would go on to do things like contribute to the Rwandan genocide. 

5) Apparently people today do still believe in phrenology, as the state of Michigan extended its six percent sales tax on personal services phrenology readings in 2007, so now if you want your head bumps interpreted in Michigan the state gets a cut. Also, there is this blog that has like three posts on it. And finally, there’s this website from 1998 which claims that “phrenology is a true science.”

6) Thomas Edison is said to have credited phrenology with revealing his own “inventive talent” to him, which is funny, because I didn’t know there was a “steal from Tesla” lump on the cranium.

I seriously don't see it there anywhere.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #60: Palmistry Edition

The other day I was thinking about this time back when I lived in an RV and I met this dude in Oregon who tried to read my palm. Apparently, my palm says that I hate my parents. I told him, “That’s not true, I only hate one of my parents.” But seriously, though, I think that’s a pretty safe guess to make about someone whose life choices include “live in an RV.” Here are some facts about palmistry, which is also known as chiromancy, which sounds a lot cooler.

It has been used to pick people up since 1594.

1) Chiromancy (which is what I’m calling it from now on because it sounds like something Gandalf would do, probably after blowing too many smoke rings) apparently, originates from India, China, Tibet, Persia, or Europe. Thanks for clearing that up, Wikipedia.

One of the first books on chiromancy, “The Teachings of Valmiki Maharshi on Male Palmistry,” was written by, you guessed it, the sage Valmiki Maharshi. It contained 567 stanzas, cause prose hadn’t been invented yet. That’s not even a joke, I’m pretty sure the Greeks invented prose. It’s said that chiromancy spread from ancient India to those other places I mentioned, and finally to Greece where Artistotle, Hippocrates and Alexander the Great popularized it, in prose form.

2) According to this dubious website, the shape of one’s hands and the lines on one’s palm are subject to change without notice.

I've never heard of such a thing.

Also, the guy offers long-distance palm readings; you need only email him pictures of your hands.

3) As the guy in Oregon who told me I hate my parents also explained that the left and right hands each have their own significance. The left hand symbolizes the inner person, or “who you really are,” as he explained it, and the right hand symbolizes the outer person, or “who you pretend to be.” He may have then told me I was a pushover and I may have responded by spitting on him.

"That's my girl."

I’m not quite sure he had that right. According to Wikipedia, my favorite source of information when it doesn’t really matter, the left hand represents the natural, spiritual self or the “yin” side of the personality, and the right hand represents the active, objective self, or the “yang” side of the personality, which is influenced by one’s education, experience and environment. So, they are both “who you really are.” Except they’re not, because NONE OF THIS IS REAL, but let’s just keep playing along.

We play so well together,don't we?

4) Chiromancers (I love that word!) consider several different aspects of the hand when doing a palm reading, including its shape. The shape of the hand is believed to reveal the person’s basic character, usually in a way that corresponds to the classical four elements, earth, air, water and fire. The Wikipedia article has a lengthy explanation of the different hand types that somehow describes all four of them as being either broad, or square, or both broad and square. This article has some rather amusing illustrations of the different types of hands, as well as a fifth type, the “mixed” hand.

5) There are, of course, several lines on the palm, unless you’re me, in which case, there are several hundred lines on your palm. As far as I can tell, I have about three life lines. I don’t know if that means I’m immortal, but I’m not going to put it to the test.

Normal people who aren’t freaks have five to seven distinct hand lines, as pictured here:

1: Life Line; 2: Head Line; 3: Heart Line; 4: Girdle of Venus, whatever that is; 5: Sun Line, also don’t know what that is; 6: Mercury Line, again, not explained; 7: Fate Line, self-explanatory, I guess.

It’s also possible to have a combined head and heart line, known as a single transverse palmar crease or, in old-timey insensitive language, a simian crease. This baby has one:

The simian crease does not mean you are a monkey (it’s called that because monkey hands look this way, I guess). It supposedly indicates an “intensity of purpose and single mindedness.”

6) There are also several “mounts,” or bumps, on the palm which, it would seem, add various layers of significance to the hundreds of lines on my freakish palm (I’ve now been staring at my own palms for the better part of two hours. You’re welcome.) and to the other lines on the normal, non-freakish palm that I assume you have. This palm has been labeled for your edification:

Each of the seven mounts relates to a different planetary influence. Sounds legit.

Across the top, you’ve got Jupiter, Saturn, Apollo (the Sun), and Mercury; across the middle, you’ve got the “Mars galaxy,” which consists of Mars positive, the Plain of Mars, and Mars negative. Across the bottom you’ve got Venus, Neptune and Luna, or the Moon. They stand for:

  • Luna: creativity, perception, sensory awareness and imagination.
  • Venus: sexual and physical health, beauty, and sensuality (I’ve got a big one of these, he he he).
  • Mars negative: physical energy (as in, general levels of, I’m assuming).
  • Mars positive: mental energy.
  • Jupiter: ambition, leadership, confidence, and justice.
  • Saturn: discernment, wisdom, coordination.
  • Mercury: communication, spontaneity, intuition.
  • Neptune: emotional sensitivity.
  • Plain of Mars: general enthusiasm, excitement and “passions” (code for “angriness”).
According to this website, I have an “unlucky, hollow palm,” which means that I am “lacking in enthusiasm” and that I “shall succeed in draining the energy of others when in their company” because I “lack the sparks that define a scintillating and vibrant personality.” So that’s what my fucking problem is – I HAVE A HOLLOW PALM. MYSTERY SOLVED.

There’s also a whole page of stuff explaining why all the tiny lines on my hands mean I’m fucked.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Not Quite Wordless Wednesday: Apocalypse Timeline

Reader Allison Morris submitted this graphic, which illustrates a point I have probably already beaten to death, but whatevs:

End of the World Infographic

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #59: Magic for Realz, Y’all

I got the idea for this week’s topic when I visited Generator Land’s Plot Generator, on a whim! And not because I need help generating plots! Even though I totally need help generating plots! And it came back with, “A pig farmer with a crack habit opens a resort with a warlock from West Virginia.” I was like, “Huh, didn’t know West Virginia made warlocks.”

You learn something new every day.

1) Stage magic has been with us for hundreds, even thousands, of years. In ancient times and through the Middle Ages, people used magic tricks and sleights of hand to entertain one another, cheat at gambling, and rob people, as seen in this 15th century painting by Hieronymus Bosch, The Conjurer:

Check the dude who's staring off into the sky all like, "Who, me?"

Early magicians may have also used their talents to earn the loyalty of the ignorant masses, either by inspiring their fear or awe. Reginald Scot’s 1584 book The Discoverie of Witchcraft, a treatise on the practice of the dark arts, contains a section explaining the deceptive tricks charlatans used to fool the unwary. 
Unfortunately for Scot, the people most in need of this information couldn’t afford books and didn’t know how to read them.

Scot was ahead of his time, in that the premise of his book was that witchcraft and magic weren’t real. Accusations of witchcraft were based primarily on superstition, Scot asserted, and served as a means of persecuting the mentally ill, the simple-minded, the elderly, and the poor. Scot called for an end to the prosecution of witches. Scot’s book was banned by King James I in 1603 and most copies were burned.

The debate about the existence of witchcraft raged on, however, with authors such as Thomas Ady and John Webster picking up Scot’s mantle in the next century. Reprints of The Discoverie of Witchcraft began to appear in 1651.

You can't burn an idea.

2) The first modern magician was Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, a Frenchman who lived from 1805 to 1871. If that name sounds familiar to you, it’s because another famous musician, Harry Houdini, chose his own stage name to pay homage to the man now hailed as the “father of modern magic.”

Unlike his predecessors, Robert-Houdin performed not at fairs and street markets, but in opulent theaters and private parties. He was the first magician to wear formal dress; when you see a magician wearing a tail-coat and top hat, you’re seeing the influence of Robert-Houdin. He pioneered many illusions still used today, including The Marvelous Orange Tree, a trick featured in the 2006 Edward Norton film The Illusionist. In 1856, Robert-Houdin used his magic to help quell a native uprising in French-colonized Algeria. His tricks, including catching a bullet in his teeth, convinced the Algerian warriors that French magic out-magicked their magic, shattering their morale and helping the imperial army crush them.

He has a statue too.

3) Billed as the deadliest trick in stage magic, the bullet catch trick did more than pave the way for Napolean III’s victory over Algerian rebels in 1856. It’s also killed at least 12 people, beginning with Frenchman Coulew de Lorraine, who was beaten to death with one of his own guns in 1613, by an angry assistant.

In the olden days, the bullet catch trick relied on a magnet attached to the ramrod. The magnet would pull the bullet out of the gun immediately after loading, and the magician would rely on sleight of hand or misdirection to switch the real bullet for a blank. At least one magician was killed when the ramrod broke off inside the gun and was subsequently launched at his body at over 1,000 feet per second. Modern bullet catch tricks rely on gimmicked guns, or the use of wax bullets or blanks. Early 20th century magician Chung Ling Soo (an American whose given name was William Ellsworth Robinson) died when his gimmicked gun malfunctioned and fired a real bullet from the wrong chamber. Why you’d even put real bullets in a gun with such a purpose, I have no idea.

But it serves him right for being a racist.

“Accidentally shot” is a common cause of death for magicians who perform the bullet catch trick, but it wasn’t the undoing of Ralf Bialla, a German magician who was allegedly wounded nine times in the execution of the bullet catch trick because he didn’t know when to quit. Ralf’s injuries are said to have left him debilitated with ceaseless dizziness. It was this dizziness that purportedly caused Ralf to fall from a cliff to his doom in 1975.

Don't laugh at Ralf's misfortune.

4) Pepper’s Ghost is a type of illusion invented by Henry Dircks in the 1860s, and made popular by his colleague, inventor and chemist John Henry Pepper. The illusion uses a hidden room, lighting effects and a pane of glass to reflect “ghostly,” transparent images onto a stage. Dirck’s original design, which he called the Dircksian Phantasmagoria (catchy) required any interested theaters to undergo extensive renovations. Pepper’s introduced modifications to the design that made it portable, allowing stage magicians and illusionists to install the set up in any theater prior to performing. Though Pepper tried to give credit for the invention to Henry Dircks, the success of his modified design forever linked his name with the Dircksian Phantasmagoria.

Illusions created with the Pepper’s Ghost technique remain popular to this day. Museums and theme parks, such as the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland or Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England, use the Pepper’s Ghost technique to create eerie apparitions for that authentically haunted ambiance. The technique has also appeared numerous times in film and on television. Controversy erupted when Pepper’s Ghost was used to project an image of the late Tupac Shakur onto the stage at Coachella 2012, much to the bewilderment of tweens everywhere.  Pepper’s Ghost was also an important plot device in the aforementioned film The Illusionist, though magic geeks seem uncertain as to whether the effects depicted in the movie could be achieved in real life.

5) Contrary to popular belief, Hungarian-American magician Harry Houdini did not die from a failure to escape the Chinese Water Torture Cell. The act had Houdini suspended upside down, with his feet in stocks, and lowered into a tank of water which would be locked at the top. He would then escape from the locked tank behind a curtain. Houdini performed this trick publically from 1912 to 1926.


That’s not to say that Houdini’s career in magic didn’t contribute to his death. According to eyewitness reports, a McGill University student, J. Gordon Whitehead, visited Houdini in his dressing room at Montreal’s Princess Theater on 22 October 1926. Whitehead asked Houdini if his, Houdini’s, claims to be able to take any blow to the abdomen were true. Houdini confirmed the claims, adding that he needed “time to brace himself.” Whitehead, apparently not hearing that last part, proceeded to punch Houdini in the stomach four times.

Houdini experienced extreme pain and fever for the next two days, until he finally saw a doctor and was diagnosed with acute appendicitis. Instead of doing the sensible thing and having surgery, Houdini opted to ignore medical advice and continue his tour. He is said to have passed out on stage at his final performance, on 24 October 1926. When revived, he allowed himself to be hospitalized only after finishing his performance. He died at the age of 52 on Halloween, from peritonitis brought on by a burst appendix.

Or from stubbornness; you decide.

Monday, January 7, 2013

5 MORE Signs He May Be a Serial Killer

A Mother Life

Several weeks ago, Christina at Solitary Mama blogged about serial killers, specifically, how to tell if the guy you are dating/are out on a date with RIGHT NOW actually is one. This is crucial stuff, especially in these modern times when we’re all meeting strangers from the Internet, egged on by that one smug bastard you know who’s all “Yeah, I meant my wife on and we couldn’t be happier.” They say 20% of relationships start online these days. They don’t say how many of those relationships end in murder, but I bet it’s a lot.

Christina already covered some of the basic signs of serial killer-hood, like “bragging about his mad serial killing skills,” “carrying a sword,” “taking you ketchup shopping,” “laughing like a maniac when you talk about your dead parents/sister/brother/kid/friend/dog,” and “being completely insane.” Here are some of the more subtle clues:

1) He’s Got a Case of Paper Towels, a Bucket of Bleach, and a Box of Rubber Gloves in His Backseat.

Yeah, it’s possible that he owns a hotel and really needs that stuff to clean the room. It’s more likely he’s going to use it to scrub your blood off his leather seats, lady.


There’s also a shovel and a coil of rope.

Or an axe or a hammer or anything like that. ~ Luigi Zanasi

2) He Keeps Calling His “Mother”

Now let’s be honest, nobody calls their mother more than like, once a week, tops. Well, I’m only assuming that, because in my experience, mothers have a way of calling you.


He fills in his mother’s side of the conversation in a high falsetto voice.

"Yes, Norman, she sounds like a very nice girl."

3) He Emails You Even Though You Didn’t Give Him Your Email Address, or Your Name

This actually happened to me, and I may yet be serial killed for blogging about it. If I disappear or get murdered, you can find the guy’s number on the note I left on my dresser. I was going to straight-up make a bulletin board labeled “People Who May Have Murdered Me,” but I thought that might make me look paranoid to potential suitors.

Who will then feel free to murder me, since there are already plenty of other leads. 

I didn’t meet this guy online; I met him at the bar. Which is to be expected, since we already know the bar is crawling with weirdos.

Like I said, I didn’t even give the guy my name, much less my email address, but he somehow sleuthed it out anyway. I’m not a regular at this particular bar or anything, so Creepo would have had to use some dodgy detective skills to get this information which I, let me reiterate, did not in any way freely offer to him. Then he totally starts emailing me out of nowhere, and when I write back to tell him that he’s being creepy because I didn’t even tell him my name, he got all butthurt and claimed that he “overheard [me] tell the bartender” when I cashed out my tab and that there was “no mystery” in that.


You should already be running, but definitely run faster if he invites you to drop everything and drive two and a half hours to his isolated woodland cabin for a “long weekend.”


Dude sent me this photo, to lure me out, I guess:

He's got beer? I'm in! No, but, seriously, I'm grateful it wasn't a crotch shot.

4) He Talks About Bladed Weapons a Lot

Now, Christina mentions “brings a sword” as something that is totally, legit weird and a sign that your date is either a serial killer, one of The Three Musketeers, Puss in Boots (d’awwwww), or a Marine in full dress uniform. Alternatively, you’re twelve years old, the sword is plastic, and it’s not really a date because your mother is there.

I think that just talking about bladed weapons a lot on a date (especially a first date) is probably a bad sign, because nobody really uses machetes or samarai swords or throwing stars or anything like that for non-nefarious purposes anymore, unless they’re like, a jungle explorer, and that really rules out samarai swords, throwing stars, and switchblade knives.

You're not still dating that 1950's gang member, are you?


He speaks wistfully of “that feeling you get when you smell blood,” especially if he also tries to “show you his knife."

5) You Have No Idea Where He’s Taking You

You asked him to take you home, but he’s driving off in the other direction. I hope you have a cell phone signal, or at the very least, a fork in your purse.


It’s already too late.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #58: Dating Customs in History

Recently, my friend Christina (now 10% less bitey) blogged about some of the weird gifts she’s received on first dates, including a weird little Thai voodoo doll thing made from nails tied together. It has a ball of yarn for a head and a cute little bow in its… “hair.” It’s really an original piece of creep, you should head on over there and check it out.

This post sparked a lot of discussion about whether it is appropriate to bring a gift on a first date, and, if so, what sorts of gifts are acceptable. I, personally, have been the recipient of, on one occasion, a single red rose (was nice, but I didn’t think much of the guy and wound up throwing it away), and, on another, a small stuffed animal (I’m too old for toys, a fact that escapes many. My friend’s kid really liked it though). Neither of these gifts swayed me one way or another in my feelings toward the giver. Neither, however, seemed designed for use in syncretic folk-magic rituals, so there’s that.

1) According to some people, the origins of modern dating go back to the medieval European tradition of courtly love. Marriage in that time and place was used as a type of business transaction, intended to further both families’ financial interests, as well as a way to cement political alliances between families. Love had nothing to do with it. But you knew all of that, because you’re so smart.

The principles of courtly love stated that true love happened outside of marriage, and must be conducted in secret between lovers who would adhere to a strict code of conduct as the relationship progressed through various stages to “consummation.” There is some scholarly debate as to whether courtly love was actually a thing that people did in real life, or whether it was just an artistic convention used in poetry and song. There is still more debate as to whether courtly love was, in fact, used as a cover for adulterous affairs, or whether it was a means of chastely expressing one’s spiritual admiration of a beautiful lady. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am absolutely certain that, just like lovers of today, lovers of the Middle Ages were content to exchange declarations of love and tokens of devotion without ever dreaming of doing something as awful as sex.

Not pictured: Sexy times. Probably.

2) Dating as we know it today didn’t begin to evolve until after 1700. That was when people the world over began to move away from the belief in marriage as a necessity and in wives, in general, as a form of property. While it would take a few centuries for women to gain equal rights to own property and work, and while women today still don’t earn as much as their male counterparts, people slowly decided that freedom of choice was crucial to deciding when, whether, and who to marry.

While most people think of 18th and 19th century dating as a courtship ritual in which young ladies receive young men at home with the supervision of their mother or another older female chaperone, this was common practice only among the upper and aristocratic classes. The lower classes, whose homes were less suited for entertaining, went right ahead and just went out together like the regular, not-snooty (snootless?) people that they were.

3) Bundling was a tradition that is believed to have originated in Britain or the Netherlands, in which a courting couple were allowed to share the same bed, ostensibly so that they would have time to get to know one another without being forced to stand around outside in the cold. A “bundling board” would sometimes be placed between the erstwhile lovers to keep them from sexing it up. Sometimes the young people were wrapped up tightly in sheets or quilts. It may also have been acceptable to tie the young lady’s legs together.

"Why has the rope been cut?"

From about 1750 to 1780, bundling was a very popular custom in colonial America, where it was practiced not just among courting couples but among travelers and their hosts. Families would allow travelers to bundle with their wives and daughters, using the practice as an excuse to rent out half a bed and thereby earn some extra money. The practice was especially common among the lower classes, who saw it as a way to save candles and firewood without necessarily having to put a stop to the evening’s socializing, and who also couldn’t afford that many beds anyway.

In no way did these travelers take advantage of the ladies whose beds they shared, wink  wink, nudge nudge. Nineteenth century author and historian Washington Irving claimed “that wherever the practice of bundling prevailed, there was an amazing number of sturdy brats born . . . without the license of the law, or the benefit of clergy.” An old man, speaking to his grandchildren about the practice, is said to have remarked, “What is the use of sitting up all night and burning out fire and lights, when you could just as well get under kiver and keep warm. Why damn it, there wasn't half as many bastards then as there are now!”


4) In olden times, suitors presented their intended brides with intricately carved wooden spoons known as “lovespoons.” The lovespoons were intended to display the suitor’s practical woodworking skills to the intended and her family, and, in some cultures, to serve as wedding gift or a symbolic part of the bride’s trousseau. Though the oldest known lovespoons date back to the late 1600s, it is believed that the tradition may be much older. Though the lovespoon tradition appears to be most famously tied to the Welsh culture, it also appears in many other cultures all over Europe and Africa. In France, people wore wooden spoons to weddings. In Romania, Scandinavia and parts of Africa, two decorative spoons are carved from one piece of wood, with a wooden chain linking them together. These linked spoons may form part of a traditional ritual in which both partners eat from the same bowl to symbolize their union.

These spoons are Irish. ~Immanuel Giel

In Wales and other parts of Europe, lovers carved traditional symbols like four leaf clovers, horseshoes, lover’s knots, anchors (which were preferred by sailors), keyholes or locks, vines, birds, sheaths of corn, acorns or oak leaves. My personal favorite, a German spoon from 1664, has little people on it:

Fuck yeah Germany! ~B. Deneke

5) Here’s one I really didn’t believe, but appears to be true. Puritan lovers used “courting sticks” to speak to each other while courting in the presence of the girl’s parents and all seventeen of her siblings. They were kept strictly separated and forced to whisper to one another through a six to eight foot long hollow wooden tube, for fuck’s sake.

This 1954 newspaper column hilariously calls for a resurgence of the courting stick as a means of getting teenage girls off the telephone for a change. It also seems to suggest the courting stick as a means for family members to talk to each other while watching television, so that they don’t disturb anyone else.

I couldn't find a picture of one, so here's the spoon again.