Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Amy V. Desexualizes Bidets, Persimmons
Amy Vanderbilt is a skilled technical writer. She makes the communication of arbitrary social protocol to the rising middle classes of post WW2 gringo populations seem effortless. Her style is as inoffensive as the white of a five minute egg.
Ms. Vanderbilt on Bidets:
"The initial use for the bidet is as an adjunct to personal hygiene after use of the toilet. If it is thought of as a minuscule bathtub it doesn't seem so outlandish. It may be sat upon forward and aft. It may be used for soaking the feet, giving a small child a sponge bath...Small boys like to float boats in it."
Ms. Vanderbilt on Persimmons:
"Grasping the persimmon with the left thumb and index finger, scoop out and eat a spoonful at a time, keeping the shell intact. Avoid the skin which, unless dead ripe, is puckery. The large pits are cleaned in the mouth, dropped into the spoon, and then deposited on the side of the plate. Persimmons...should be dead ripe and slightly spotted."
from Amy Vanderbilt's Etiquette: The Guide to Gracious Living. Doubleday: New York, 1952.
Oh Ms. Vanderbilt! What did you do, when you stepped away from your writing desk, with bidets and persimmons and words left unsaid?