August 29, 2011

The Language of the Fan

written by Rosa Morgan
As a gentleman who cultivates the skills of seduction, I pride myself on having recently learned the latest rage of fan communication. By way of this small article of a woman's toilet, a woman can convey the subtlest of emotions without the formality of an introduction. I'm a weekend guest at Lord and Lady T's country estate and shall advantageously employ this new-found knowledge. I spy two gentle creatures of the fairer sex; beribboned in the latest fashion, they're most comely to my eyes. However, they take no notice of me, nor employ their fans other than to cool themselves in this overheated domicile.
Hm, now here's a coquette eager for intercourse. Peeking coyly from behind her silk veil, she lets her fan rest on her right cheek. Her answer is 'Yes', to whatever my proposition may be. I nod acknowledgment of her meaning, then avert my eyes to disengage her. The weekend is just beginning, and though I do not wish to burn any bridges, I'm certain there are even more attractive damsels to conquer.
I do say, Miss Agatha is a vision in pink, and as I recall, a cracker in croquet. Though she's quite enamored with her nosegay, I shall attempt to attract her attention. Balderdash! She's twirling the fan in her right hand, thus relaying she's in love with another. No need to waste my time here.
There's sister Clara grasping her fully opened black Chantilly lace fan in both hands, which means she's asking that rake to forgive her of some trespass. Heavens, I shall have to reveal to her, the man's propensity for cards and fast women. Or perhaps, I shan't, for it will place me in those same seedy environs.
Dear Mrs. Whitmore is glancing my way, pressing her fan to her lips; a definitive invitation to be kissed. I dare say, her porcelain skin has never suffered the effects of the sun, and her dazzling blue eyes are surely a result of the prudent use of belladonna. Regretfully, I cannot succumb to her flirtatious enticements, for her boorish husband is also in attendance, and an expert shot.
Alas, my own heart betrays me, for Aliza Cranfield has entered the room. Catching my eye, she slips her fan's tassel over her delicate wrist, and with an adept flick, opens it wide. “Come hither,” it commands, and like a pup, I obey. Her vellum fan with mother-of-pearl blades is not adorned with the usual sentimental poem or decorative watercolor; nay, it holds signatures of our age's greatest gentlemen: Strauss, Rossetti, Dickens, and Tennyson. With her feminine wiles she has males at her beck and call. I have pursued the minx for months, to no avail, but now, she has placed her fan near her heart, telling me in no uncertain terms that I have won her love. Can it be true, she is now shutting the fan oh so slowly, promising to marry me. Farewell to my bachelorhood's roving eye, for I desire nothing more than the sweet embrace of Aliza.
More Fan Language
TOUCHING THE FINGER TO THE TIP OF THE FAN: "I wish to speak with you."
FANNING SLOWLY: "I am married."
FANNING QUICKLY: "I am engaged."
TWIRLING THE FAN IN THE LEFT HAND: "We are being watched."
PRESENTING THE FAN SHUT: "Do you love me?"
A CLOSED FAN TOUCHING THE RIGHT EYE: "When may I be allowed to see you?"
COVERING THE LEFT EAR WITH AN OPEN FAN: "Do not betray our secret."
Dear Reader, Have we lost the eloquent art of courting? Should we return to the language of the fan?

August 22, 2011

Aestheticism Threatens a Marriage

written by Rosa Morgan

Lenore blushed as Archibald carried her across the threshold and into the beginning of their life together as man and wife. As soon as her feet touched the hall's bare floor, she said with unbridled passion, "Dear, we'll have to order a Brussels carpet for this area." Stepping it off with her high buttoned shoes, she announced, "I'd say that stretch is a good fifteen feet long. And we must replace this hideous hall tree, posthaste! Why it looks like a Chinese pagoda, and lacks all function whatsoever. There's not even a bench to sit upon and remove one's wet wellies."

Though Archibald had hoped, nay imagined all day, an expedient dash up the stairs to the bedchamber, he could not but, indulge his wife's wish to peruse the house. He had purposefully kept from her his radical Aesthetic beliefs, hoping to gradually influence her. "I'm happy to see your enthusiasm for your new home, and I'm not disinclined to admit I've taken much pleasure in decorating it." Lenore's nostrils flared, "Pleasure? The value in a home's arrangement is its ability to imbue morality and purpose. It is with our rational minds and scientific bent that we must approach it."

Turning away from this man she now felt a stranger, Lenore ventured into the front parlor where she was confronted by ebony and gilded furniture, Japanese fans, and blue and white vases stuffed with peacock feathers. She felt the room spin, and would have fainted if there had been a fainting couch readily at hand. "Have I unknowingly wed a Bohemian; one who believes art is for art's sake? Pray do not tell me you parrot the philosophy of that decadent Oscar Wilde?"

Archibald was feeling ill himself, and brandishing his hip pocket flask, brazenly took a swig of hard liquor. With his voice choking with emotion, he proclaimed, "Yes, my love, I adhere to Wilde's advice; his lecture, 'The House Beautiful' is unparalleled in capturing my own belief that life must be lived intensely and that interior decorating is a means of self-completion!"
The young bride could see her criticism had truly injured her husband's sensibilities. She offered, "Now that I become accustomed to my new environ, I find the peacock feathers not too daunting."
Archibald conceded, "And I can see a hall tree with a bench would be beneficial."
The two lovebirds cooed their way up the staircase. Many an argument over interior design would darken their future, but with patience and diligence, they would find domicile bliss.

August 15, 2011

Gail Borden - Renaissance Man

written by Rosa Morgan

I was like a cat with nine lives, and with each of them, I wholeheartedly pursued a different occupation. Born in Norwich, N.Y., on November 9, 1801, I lived in Indiana for a time, but a persistent cough led me to my destiny in Texas. With my new bride, Penelope, I joined the “Old 300″ in Stephen F. Austin’s colony, and became its surveyor. Amid my other duties, I created the first topographical map of Texas and represented the Lavaca District at the Texas Convention of 1833.

Days after the Revolution began in Texas, my brother, John, and I, joined Joseph Baker in starting the "Telegraph and Texas Register." We were the first to list the soldiers who died at the Alamo. Compelled to get the news out, we were literally the last to consent to leave our new homeland, and dismantled our press with Santa Anna at our heels. We retreated to Harrisburg and were about to print a new issue, when Mexican soldiers arrested us, and threw our press into Buffalo Bayou. After Texans won their independence, we set up shop in the newly established city of Houston, which I also surveyed.

I next endeavored to help form the city of Galveston, where I became the Republic's first Collector at the port, and an agent for the Galveston City Company. Baptized in the Gulf, Penelope and I were staunch church goers, putting our efforts into the temperance movement and ridding our town of gamblers. I loved the island life, but tragedy struck in 1844, when my dear wife died of yellow fever, followed to Heaven by my son, Stephen, six days later.

Grief stricken, and with my youngest, only a few months old, I turned my mind to inventions, namely, a large scale refrigeration system as a means of preventing yellow fever. I next invented a locomotive bath house for timid swimmers, and a prairie schooner for land and sea. But my most revolutionary creation, one I felt certain would alter the human race for the better, was my meat biscuit. Known as 'the Portable Dessicated Soup Bread,' it was so tasty with concentrated nutrition, that it won a gold Council Medal at London's Crystal Palace Exposition. Remarkably, it turned out to be a dismal failure.

With my life's fortune lost and a short-lived marriage to Augusta F. Stearns over, I moved to to New York, and began in earnest on my next invention. I asked myself, what product does the immigrant traveling across the sea need, and what would benefit the soldier in the field? Condensed milk was the answer. and with the Civil War and Mary Todd Lincoln's endorsement, I struggled to keep up with the demand. Stonewall Jackson ate it with canned peaches, stirring it with the point of his sword.

My third marriage to Emilene Church was a happy one, and I kept up my creative ways until I took my last breath. I'm grateful to have not lived long enough to have seen the scandal of my distant cousin, Lizzie.

August 8, 2011

Adventures of a Victorian Pussycat

written by Rosa Morgan

I'm Tom the Tomcat, though, you'd never surmise from this ridiculous outfit my master's daughter has put me in. No matter, it's a trifle price to pay for the luxury of hearth and home. I did not always have a saucer of milk to call my own. Indeed, I was born in an alley, and barely escaped, along with my six siblings, a watery grave in the Thames.

The man who rescued us turned out to be a maniacal musician, who wanted us for his cat-piano. Attaching our tails beneath a keyboard, we were arranged in order of the pitch of our voices, so that when the keys pressed down, we cried out in pain, thus creating a song of sorts. This barbaric instrument was for the purpose of treating patients who had lost the ability to focus their attention. It definitely captured my attention, and my tail has never been the same since.

The musician's wife had pity on us, and assisted our escape, but my kitten-hood continued to be fraught with one mishap after another. It may appear I'm having a gay old time atop this fashionable woman's muff, but truth be told, my sister and I are grieving. That beautiful marmalade fur is made from the pelts of my three murdered brothers!

As the only male left, I kept a stiff upper lip, trying my best to watch over my sisters. Those halcyon days of playing in Hyde Park, make for some of my fondest memories.

We even managed to become a part of a vaudeville act with the Barrison Sisters when they came to London. Billed as the Wickedest Girls in the World, their notorious routine used us in a most foul manner, and I'll not venture to recall the title of that song.

Breaking free from this depth of depravity, I turned to mousing, and found I had quite the knack for it. However, again bad luck followed me, when one day, I left my sisters to make the rounds. Upon my return, I found to my horror, the Pie Man was catching them up, one by one. I shall never again be able to eat a shepherd's pie without a great deal of grief.

Heartbroken, I soldiered on through those mean streets. I fought for territory with the other toms, and ate what I could catch or salvage from the rubbish. Then one moonless night, when life seemed not worth living, I heard a man call, "Kitty, here Kitty, Kitty."
There was no doubt he was looking directly at me. With my dismal experience with mankind, I hesitated, but his kind eyes gave me pause to trust him. How grateful I am that I did, for here I sit cozily with my new family. And if must occasionally don a bonnet, I don't mind in the least.

August 1, 2011

Nostrums or Essential Remedies

written by Rosa Morgan

As a devoted wife and mother, I make sure my cupboard is stocked with the essential remedies to keep my family in the pink. The following are a few necessities you'll find at your local apothecary.

Wilcox and Co. produces these wonderful cigarettes for every conceivable respiratory ailment. Filled with the herb, stramonium, they are perfectly safe for women and children, though too much will cause hallucinations and can be fatal. I especially enjoy them when I am winded after climbing the stairs.

It is the rare family that doesn't have an invalid suffering consumption or some other wasting disease, and who wouldn't benefit most profoundly from cod liver oil. Rich in vitamins A and D, it's also essential in daily dosing of your little ones to prevent rickets. They may balk at the nauseating taste, but Scott's Emulsion, with a sweet glycerin addition, has made it as palatable as milk.

I confess I keep my Malt-Nutrine all for myself. With two percent alcohol, it's truly food in liquid form. It's perfect for nursing mothers and aids my sleep, so I'm not disturbed by wailing babies. I take my bonnet off to Anheuser-Busch for making such a superb tonic.

My children love, nay, they demand their Ayer's cough syrup. I'm not sure if it's the delightful cherry flavor or the morphine in it, but either way, never has bedtime been such an ease.

No longer do I need scrape the bark off the willow tree for my family's aches and pains, for the German, Friedrich Bayer, has done all the work for me in developing his Aspirin.

Alas, my new favorite drug, is Bayer's Heroin. They've named it after
the Greek word, Heros, because of its heroic effects on its user. They say it's nonaddictive, and will, I pray, get my poor husband off his tooth powder addiction.

Dear Gentle Reader, Scott's Emulsion is still around!