Thursday, July 1, 2010

Old Maid

According to "A Girl for all Seasons" July is all about weddings. An article called "Love's Telegraph" in the first edition of etiquette manual Enquire Within explained
"When a lady is not engaged she wears a hoop diamond on her first finger; if engaged, on her second; if married, on her third; and on the fourth if she intends to die a maid."
This got me thinking. Does any woman intend to die an old maid? Is it not something that just happens? I can't imagine a little girl dreaming about being an old maid in her later years. It's more about white dresses, veils and a Prince Charming!
And what's with the term "old maid" or even worse "spinster". Bachelor has a nice ring to it, evoking images of freedom, boozy nights out and desperate women flinging themselves at you. Spinster, on the other hand, conjures up images of grey hair, cats and knitting!
A few years ago I was setting an English summer test. The pupils had to give the feminine noun to go with the corresponding masculine one. For the last one I decided to make it difficult to really test my little 12 year olds! I put down bachelor and waited to see what answer I would get. As I suspected, most were left blank.
Apart from Gerard who wrote down virgin opposite it....and then crossed it out! Bless him, I had to give him the mark, as he was in for enough disappointment in later years!!!
Another time, I was preparing 7 year olds for their First Holy Communion. We were reciting the Hail Mary
Blessed Mary, ever virgin
when I was asked the question
"Miss, what is a virgin?"
Of course you have to answer age appropriately, so I thought for a moment and said
"It's a woman who's not married." Enough information.
Quick thinking, Noeleen. It's both age and era appropriate.
"So Miss, that means you're a virgin?"
"Ok class. Time for lunch. Put away your Religion books!"
And I just know that when the parents asked their children the daily question
"And what did you learn in school today?"
They all replied
"Oh, Teacher told us she was a virgin"
And the parents all said
"Yeah, right!"