Tucked away in our circulating Dewey collection is one of my very favorite old library books, Jean Van Evera’s 1949 gem of manners, etiquette, and relationship advice, How to be Happy While Single.
It’s full of information on everything from choosing an apartment to mending a broken heart, and while some of the advice is very dated, most of it is either quite liberal (for its day) or just plain hilarious. Here are a few delightful quotes to pique your interest.
On the importance of telephones: (A man) can always go to the corner drugstore to make his calls but a girl can hardly drop in her nickel, call everyone she knows, and say: “I was wondering if you’ve been trying to reach me to take me to the Persian Room for dinner,” or, “Were you planning to invite me to the Peninsula for the weekend?” (p. 29)
On drinking: The girl who gets good and looped but rarely, will find her friends and associates tolerant, sympathetic, amused, maternal and paternal, but if she makes a practice of it, her social life will peter out. Or else she will find it is carried on in strange places with very strange people. (p. 74)
On when to call: You don’t call a man at his office unless you have something specific, brief, and impersonal to say. Frequently he is unable to converse privately, or he may have a suspicion that his secretary has not replaced her extension phone. (p. 88)
On affairs: The idea of an affair looks good on paper, like those pension plans which pay everybody $200 a month. But sex pour le sport does not work out well for a woman. If she can get by unharmed, she is very strong-minded, very callous, or possibly, in good practice. (p. 128)
On reading: Not so long ago, as time is measured, reading was considered a useless feminine accomplishment. Even today there exists among many women the mistaken notion that merely knowing words, sentences and paragraphs means that they know how to read. (p. 145)
And remember, even though it’s hidden on the eighth stack, How to be Happy While Single is a circulating book – so request it, check it out, and enjoy!