George Ade.

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Single Blessedness

and

Other Observations
By George Ade



Books by George Ade



ADE S FABLES

BREAKING INTO SOCIETY

CIRCUS DAY

Doc HORNE

FABLES IN SLANG

FORTY MODERN FABLES

HAND-MADE FABLES

IN BABEL

IN PASTURES NEW

KNOCKING THE NEIGHBORS

STORIES OF STREETS AND TOWN

MODERN FABLES IN SLANG

MORE FABLES

PEOPLE You KNOW

SINGLE BLESSEDNESS AND OTHER

OBSERVATIONS
THE GIRL PROPOSITION
PINK MARSH
THE SLIM PRINCESS
THE SULTAN OF SULU
TRUE BILLS (Fables)



SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS



BY
GEORGE ADE







GARDEN CITY NEWYORK

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
1922



COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION
INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES

AT
3UNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.



First Edition



a -



In this book you will find, possibly disguised
and altered, certain dissertations which first
found their way to the public through the col
umns of The American Magazine, The Cosmo
politan Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post,
The Century Magazine and Life. Also there is
some miscellany, first exhibited in private and
now put into type for the first time.

GEORGE ADE
1922



CONTENTS

PAGE

THE JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS ... i

COLLEGE STUDENTS 23

THE TORTURES OF TOURING 26

DIGNITY 42

LOOKING BACK FROM FIFTY 45

DANCING 60

MUSICAL COMEDY 63

ARRANGERS 69

VACATIONS 73

BABIES 76

TO-DAY S AMAZING CROP 79

PUTTING UP A FRONT 96

HOME-COOKING 99

BROADWAY 102

ADIPOSE 118

LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION 121

AWAY FROM HOME 125

ORATORY 145



viii CONTENTS

PAGE

GOLF 148

NON-ESSENTIALS 169

INDIANA 172

COMPARISONS 178

SERVANTS 182

THE OLD-TIME RALLY 185

OVERLORDS 196

Music 199

MARK TWAIN EMISSARY 203

WHIRLIGIGS 211

ADVICE 214

CHRISTMAS IN LONDON 217

LUXURIES . 222



SINGLE BLESSEDNESS
AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS



SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS

THE JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

THE bachelor is held up to contempt be
cause he has evaded the draft. He is a
slacker. He has side-stepped a plain
duty. If he lives in the small town he is fifty
per cent, joke and fifty per cent, object of pity.
If he lives in a city, he can hide away with
others of his kind, and find courage in numbers;
but even in the crowded metropolis he has the
hunted look of one who knows that the world
knows something about him. He is led to be
lieve that babies mistrust him. Young wives
begin to warn their husbands when his name is
mentioned. He is a chicken hawk in a world
that was intended for turtle doves. It is always
taken for granted that the bachelor could have
married. Of course, he might not have netted
the one he wanted first off. It is possible that,



2 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

later on, circumstances denied him the privilege
of selection. But it is always assumed by critics
of the selfish tribe, that any bachelor who has
enough money in the bank to furnish a home,
can, if he is persistent, hound some woman into
taking a chance.

Undoubtedly the critics are right. When we
review the vast army of variegated males who
have achieved matrimony, it seems useless to
deny that the trick can be turned by any man
who is physically capable of standing up in front
of a preacher or whose mental equipment ena
bles him to decide that he should go into the
house when it rains.

If Brigham Young, wearing throat whiskers,
could assemble between thirty-five and forty at
one time, how pitiful becomes the alibi of the
modern maverick that he never has managed to
arrive at any sort of arrangement with a solitary
one!

We know that women will accept men who
wear arctic overshoes. Statistics prove that
ninety-eight per cent, of all those you see on sta
tion platforms, wearing "elastics" on their
shirt-sleeves, have wives at home.

The whole defense of bachelorhood falls to
the ground when confronted by the evidence



JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS 3

which any one may accumulate while walking
through a residence district. He will see dozens
of porch-broken husbands who never would
have progressed to the married state if all the
necessary processes had not been elementary to
begin with, and further simplified by custom.

Even after he is convinced, he will stubbornly
contend as follows: "Possibly I am a coward,
but I refuse to admit that all these other birds
are heroes."

At least, he will be ready to confess that any
one can get married at any time, provided the
party of the second part is no more fastidious
and choosey than he is.

These facts being generally accepted, the pre
sumption of guilt attaches to every single man
beyond the age of thirty. And if, as the years
ripen, he garners many dollars, and keeps them
in a hiding place which is woman-proof, he
slowly slumps in public esteem until he becomes
classified with those granite-faced criminals who
loot orphan asylums or steal candlesticks from
an altar.

Finally he arrives at a state of ostracized iso
lation. He has every inducement to be utterly
miserable, and probably would be so, except for
frequent conversations with married men.



4 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

At this point we get very near to the weakest
point in the general indictment against bach
elors: Is it generally known that bachelors pri
vately receive encouragement and approbation
from married men?

Not from all married men, it is true. Not,
for instance, from the husband of any woman
who happens to read these lines. But they do
receive assurances from married men, of the
more undeserving varieties, that matrimony is
not always a long promenade through a rose
bower drenched with sunshine. The word
"lucky" is frequently applied to single men by
the associate poker players who are happily
married.

The difficulty in rescuing the hardened cases
of bachelorhood is that the unregenerate are all
the time receiving private signals from those
supposed to be saved, to lay off and beat it, and
escape while the escaping is good. Many of
them would have fallen long ago except for
these warnings.

There are times when the most confirmed,
cynical, and self-centred celibate, influenced by
untoward circumstances and unfavourable atmo
spheric conditions, believes that he could be rap
turously content as a married man, and that he



JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS 5

is cheating some good woman out of her des
tiny. Conversely, the Darby who wants the
world to know that his Joan is a jewel and his
children are intellectual prodigies and perfect
physical specimens even this paragon, who
would shudder at mention of a divorce court,
tells his most masonic friends that it must be
great to have your freedom and to do as you
darn please.

No matter which fork of the road you take,
you will wonder, later on, if the scenery on the
other route isn t more attractive.

The bachelor, being merely a representative
unit of weak mankind, isn t essentially different
from the Benedict. Probably at some time or
other he wanted to get married and couldn t.
Whereas, the married one didn t want to get
married and was mesmerized into it by a com
bination of full moon, guitar music, and roly-
boly eyes.

A poor wretch who had lived under the stigma
of bachelorhood for years once confided to sev
eral of us that he was all ready to be married at
Columbus, Ohio, in 1892, and then learned that
it would cost at least eight dollars to put the
thing over.

Bachelors are willing to be segregated or even



6 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

separately taxed, but they don t wish to be
branded with too hot an iron. They come to
regard themselves as potential married men who
never received notice of their inheritances.
Married men are merely bachelors who weak
ened under the strain. Every time a bachelor
sees a man with an alpaca coat pushing a per
ambulator, he says, "There, but for the grace of
God, goes me!"

Whatever excuses the bachelor may secrete
in his own mind, the following definite counts
have been drawn against him :

1st. It is the duty of every good man to be
come the founder of a home, because the home
(and not the stag boarding-house) is the corner
stone of an orderly civilization.

2d. It is the duty of every high-minded citi
zen to approve publicly the sacrament of mar
riage, because legalized matrimony is the
harbour of safety. When the bachelor ignores
the sacrament, his example becomes an endorse
ment of the advantages offered to travellers by
that famous old highway known as The Prim
rose Path."

3d. It is the duty of every student of history
and economics to help perpetuate the species
and protect the birth rate.



JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

These are the damning accusations. Any
representative woman s club, anywhere, would
bring in a verdict of "guilty" against a notorious
bachelor, in two minutes, without listening to
witnesses.

The moment a man marries, the indictment is
quashed. For the time being, he is snow white.
A little later, after the divorce proceedings, he
may become speckled, but he never sinks quite
back to the degraded estate of bachelorhood.

He tried to be a good citizen.

Having an altruistic and. almost Chautauquan
regard for home and the marriage sacrament,
and feeling that someone had to step forward
and save the birth rate, he put aside all consid
erations of personal convenience and, like a sun-
kissed hero, stepped to the edge and jumped
over the precipice.

Yes, he did! You know he did!

Here is what happened:

The dear old goof found himself in immediate
juxtaposition to The Most Wonderful Woman
in All the World. When she smiled at him, his
blood pressure went up twenty points. When
she appeared to forget that he was among those
present, he wanted to rush into the street and
lie down in front of a taxicab. He hovered



8 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

near her, every night, until ordered out. Then
he reeled back to his den, stepping from one
cloud to another. He sat up in the still hours
of the morning to write notes which elected him
even if, later on, he had wanted to welch. He
arrived at his office without remembering
what had happened since he left home. He
tried to dictate letters, and nothing came from
him except gurgles. He wondered what was
happening to Her. In the telephone booth-
only about eight cubic feet of air partial
asphyxiation after twenty minutes. But who
wouldn t be willing to die, with the sound of
that Voice strumming in the ears, like an
j^Eolian harp hanging in the gateway of Para
dise?

Now, when Waldo finally got married, does
any one really insist that he did it because he
was prompted by a sense of his duty to provide
food and lodging for a member of the opposite
sex?

Did he calmly decide to give his endorsement
to the sacrament of marriage and to help protect
the birth rate?

Did he?

Lay the bride s curse on the bachelor, if you
will, and let his name become a byword and



JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS 9

hissing at every bridge party, but don t hang
any medals on Waldo until you have all the
facts in his case which will prove to be a car
bon copy of a million other cases.

Waldo got married because he needed sleep.
It was a toss-up between Sweeties and a sani
tarium, and he selected the easier way.

He could not picture an existence which did
not include the radio-magnetic presence of
Honey. He was governed by sex impulse and
not by what he had read in books on sociology.

Not until weeks later, emerging from the hon
eymoon trance, did he discover that he had hon
orably discharged his obligations to Society and
had become a member of the Matrimonial Le
gion of Honour.

What happened to Waldo might have hap
pened to any petrified hermit now hiding at a
club. And if Waldo, on a certain occasion, had
happened to meet merely Another Flapper, in
stead of The Most Wonderful Woman in the
World, he might now be camped at a hotel in
stead of being assistant manager of a nursery.

We are all wisps, and the winds of chance
blow in many directions.

Just because a man gets married is no sign
that he has a high and holy and abiding regard



10 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

for womanhood. Visit any court room and hear
the sufferer go into details: He threw a meat
platter at her squeezed her arm until it was
black and blue tore the feathers off her new
hat kicked the Pomeranian into the fireplace
made her sleep on the lounge, etc., etc., etc.

It isn t usually a lack of intense regard and
reverence for womanhood that keeps the bach
elor single. Often enough, it is a lack of regard
for himself as a fit companion for the goddess
up there above him on the pedestal.

One of the most highly despised bachelors I
ever knew once said that if he ever asked a wo
man to marry him and she said, "Yes," he d
begin to have his suspicions of her. And yet he
was supposed to be a woman-hater!

The rooming-houses are packed with mature
single men, each of whom looks up to Class A
women with such worshipful adoration that he
never has felt worthy of possessing one of the
angelic creatures.

Charley Fresh who regards himself as the
irresistible captivator googles his way among
the girls for six nights a week and is known as a
"lady s man." The marooned and isolated males
who watch his performance refuse to enter into
any contest which features Charley Fresh as a



JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS 11

formidable rival. If he is what the women
want, they cannot qualify. They accept the in
evitable, and decide that by habit and circum
stances they are debarred from the matrimonial
raffle, and they might as well make the best of
it. They know that they lack the peacock
qualities of the heartbreaker, as they have
studied him in Robert W. Chambers and the
movies. They never could live up to the spec
ifications. Not one of them wants to compro
mise by grabbing a third-rater. They want a
topnotcher, or nothing; and they haven t the
financial rating, the parlour training, the glib
vocabulary, the baby-blue eyes, the curly hair
and the athletic shoulders to make them real
mates for the distant Dianas of their day
dreams.

Some are restrained by caution, some by diffi
dence, and some are put out of the running by
Fate.

Is it not true that the bachelor uncle is al
ways a hot favourite with the children? And
doesn t he often tell Minnie, his brother s wife,
that he would give a thousand shares of Steel
Common if he could have one of his own? Of
course, if he had one he wouldn t know what to
do with it; but it just shows that the parental



12 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

instinct can often be aroused by a good home-
cooked dinner.

This defense of bachelors is getting to be
pretty wobbly; but it still has a few guns in re
serve. For instance, if the birth rate lan
guishes, shall no part of the blame be put on
the modernized young woman who is ring-shy
until he can show her a five-thousand-dollar
automobile?

How about the great armies of salaried wo
men who have come into financial independence
in the office buildings and don t wish to ex
change it for the secluded dependency of the flat
buildings?

There are oodles of reasons why the bachelors
have not married. Let there be general rejoic
ing that many of them have remained single.
Special congratulations to the might-have-been
children ! They will never know what they have
escaped.

Who knows but your old friend Bill was made
a bachelor by Divine decree, so that some poor,
frail woman wouldn t have to sit up until two or
three o clock every morning?

And now for some pointed advice and inside
information: If you believe that grown-up
males who refuse to marry are, in the aggregate,



JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS 13

a menace to society, don t base your propaganda
on the assumption that bachelors live in a care
free Paradise, which they are loath to exchange
for the harrowing responsibilities of the family
circle. Try to convince the bridegroom that he
is winning a prize instead of surrendering a
birth-right.

If you want to keep a line waiting at the mar
riage license window, preach to the wandering
sheep that they should come in from the bleak
hills, and gambol in the clover pastures of con
nubial felicity.

Arrange with the editors to suppress all de
tailed reports of divorce trials; also to blue-
pencil the shoddy jokes which deal with mothers-
in-law and rolling pins.

Fix it with theatrical producers so that the
stage bachelor will not be a picturesque hero,
just a trifle gray about the temples, who car
ries a packet of dried rose leaves next to his
heart, while the husband is a pale crumpet
who is always trembling and saying, "Yes, my
dear."

Try to induce department stores to remove
those terrifying price tags from things worn by
women. Many a wavering bachelor has looked
in a show window and found, by an easy mental



14 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

calculation, that his full salary for one month
would supply My Lady with sufficient wardrobe
to take her past the morning tub, but not
enough to carry her into the street.

The two lone items of hats and shoes would
spell bankruptcy to a fellow of ordinary means,
and he knows that there must be countless other
intermediate items connecting up the $60 hats
with the $22 shoes.

At least, give him credit for always picturing
his phantom wife as being extremely well
dressed. Married men may be tight with the
checkbook and moan over the bills; but the in
tangible, make-believe wife of the secluded
bachelor always wears the most chic and allur
ing confections shown by the shops.

He has no intention of giving up the two-
room snuggery which has been his home for
eight years, but if he should become adven
turous at any time and go sailing the uncharted
seas, he knows that his travelling companion
will be a queen in royal garb. She will sit in the
rear of the boat, bedecked with pearls and wear
ing a coronet. He never meets her, but his in
tentions are generous, up to the last.

"I wouldn t get hooked up unless I could give
my wife the best of everything." How often



JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS 15

have we heard those words, spoken by some
brave outlaw. The inference being that he has
passed up a sacred privilege for fear that he
could not supply Her with all of the costly luxu
ries she deserved.

Whereas, his associates know that he has be
come encased with a hard crust of habits and
could never adapt himself to the give-and-take
conditions of married life.

They can t be taught new tricks after they
begin to moult.

But they continue to explain, and even in the
deepest recesses of the most funereal reading-
room of the most masculine club, you cannot
find one so fussy and crabbed but that he will
insist that he is "fond of children/

The lexicon of the unyoked is full of Old
Stuff. The most hopeless misogynist (see dic
tionary) can always hang the blame on some
one else and give himself a clean bill.

The point now being made is that the infor
mation agencies, by which the credulous public
is influenced, seem to aid and abet the bachelors.
Newspapers, magazines, picture plays, novels,
current anecdotes all have fallen into the easy
habit of making it appear that the bachelor is a
devil of a fellow; that the spirit of youth abides



16 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

with him after it has deserted the stoop-
shouldered slaves commonly depicted as mow
ing lawns or feeding furnaces.

The bachelor, as an individual, may sell very
low in his immediate precinct; but the bachelor,
as a type, has become fictionized into a fascinat
ing combination of Romeo and Mephistopheles.

You never saw a bachelor apartment on the
stage that was not luxurious and inviting. Al
ways there is a man servant: It is midnight in
Gerald Heathcote s princely lodgings. Gerald
returns from the club. Evening clothes? Ab
solutely!

He sends Wilkins away and lights a cigarette.
There is a brief silence, with Gerald sitting so
that the fireplace has a chance to spotlight him.
It is a bachelor s apartment and midnight.
Which means that the dirty work is about to
begin.

If, at any time, you are sitting so far back in
a theatre that you cannot get the words, and you
see a distinguished figure of a man come on
R. U. E., self-possessed, debonair, patronizing
no need to look at the bill. He is a bachelor, and
the most beautiful lady in the cast is all snarled
up in an "affair" with him. If she ever crosses
the threshold of his voluptuous "lodgings," un-



JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS 17

accompanied by a private detective or a chap
eron, her reputation won t be worth a rusty
nickel.

That s the kind of a reputation to have!
Never too old to be wicked ! Lock up the debu
tantes here come the bachelors!

Now, if you persistently represent single bless
edness as seated in a huge leather chair, with
Wilkins bringing whisky and soda, and a mar
ried woman of incredible attractiveness waiting
to call him up on the phone, you need not be
surprised if, in time, the whole social organiza
tion is permeated with a grotesque misconcep
tion of the true status of the bachelor.

For years I have been compelled to observe
large flocks of him at close range. Only about
one half of one per cent, have lodgings which
could be used effectively for a Belasco setting.
Only a very few, mostly east of Buffalo, employ
English manservants to "do" for them. Those
who like to refer to "my man" are compelled to
get new ones every few weeks. Probably the
lonesomest job in the world, next to taking care
of a lighthouse, is to valet an unmarried man
who has gone in for dancing.

Bachelors do not habitually wear evening
clothes. To get one of them into the extreme



18 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

regalia may involve the use of chloroform.
Nearly every bachelor knows a few married
women; but these women are not pursuing him
that is, not all of the time. Once in a while
they pursue him in order to find out what has
become of their husbands.

If one of these charming matrons visited a
bachelor apartment, it would be to throw a
bomb. She has him down on her list as poison
ivy.

The bachelor is a polite outcast, and he knows
it. The married folks tell stories about him,
and it is all for the best that he never hears
them. For instance: "I helped him off with his
overcoat when he came in. We wondered why
he didn t follow us into the living-room. I went
back and found him standing in the hallway.
Yes, indeed, waiting for his check! When the
children came in to meet him, he trembled like
a leaf thought they were going to kiss him.
When he sat down for dinner he inspected the
knife and then wiped the plate with his napkin.
After dinner the maid found a quarter on the
tablecloth."

The idealized bachelor of fiction may be a
super-gallant, but the real article is a scared fish
the moment he swims out of his own puddle.



JOYS OF SINGLE BLESSEDNESS 19

Possibly you expected from me a wordy at
tempt to prove that a man may acquire happi
ness by avoiding matrimony. Well, you cannot
secure contentment by a mere avoidance of any
thing. The only worth-while days are those on
which you sell a part of yourself to the brother
hood of man and go to the mattress at night
knowing that you have rendered service to some
of the fellow travellers. The more you camp by
yourself the more you shrivel. The curse and
the risk of bachelorhood is the tendency to build
all plans around the mere comforts and indul
gences of the first person singular.

Sometimes a bachelor gets to taking such
good care of himself that he forgets that some
day or other he will need six friends to act as
pallbearers.

Next to solitaire, probably the most interest
ing single-handed pastime is trying to visualize
one s own funeral. The bachelor often wonders
if it will be an impressive function.

No use talking, when a transient undertakes
the journey alone, he is compelled to be in doubt
as to terminal facilities. His friendships are in
secure and all the arrangements unstable. He
has a lot of liberty, but he doesn t know what to
do with it.



20 SINGLE BLESSEDNESS

No man can cheat the game by merely hiding
in a hotel and having his meals served in his
room.

He can run in the opposite direction from
matrimony until he is all out of breath, but he
will never travel far enough to get away from
himself. When he flees from the responsibili
ties of family life he is incidentally leaving be
hind him many of the experiences which belong
to a normal career. He cannot get away from
the double-entry system of accounts revealed in
Doctor Emerson s essay on Compensation. The
books must balance.

No man can take twelve months vacation


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Online LibraryGeorge AdeSingle blessedness, and other observations → online text (page 1 of 11)