Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Connubial Breakfast

Once upon a time not so very long ago, people married almost total strangers. Sure, they’d been on a few dates, dinner and a movie, and there was probably some chaste kissing at the lady’s doorstep at the end of the evening. After a period of engagement a wedding was had, followed by a reception and then the newlyweds retired to a hotel room to consummate their union before setting off in the morning for a week’s honeymoon.

Imagine the shock of sex after a really busy and emotionally draining day full of relatives in some strange bed with a guy you’ve never seen naked before but with whom you will have to spend the rest of your life even if the sex is horribly bad. Imagine discovering as you lay there all sore listening to him snore like a freight train.

When they return from their honeymoon the groom will pick up his bride and carry her over the threshold of their new home. Suddenly, married life begins without any practice at all and she’s probably already pregnant.

If she’s lucky, she will have been given a household management guide by her mother, which was an encyclopedic compendium of advice and reference for everything the new wife would face in her role as head of the household. Everything from how to buy furniture to how to make curtains to how to clean and what to wear, to cooking and being a hostess was described in detail. Mrs. Beeton had this pretty much covered in the tome that came under her name and was the absolute authority when it came to all things of the matronly persuasion.

If she’s less lucky she will have gotten married in 1965 and been given Happy Living! A Guidebook For Brides courtesy of Sibleys of Rochester, a department store hoping to cash in on all the purchasing it suggests you do. To help, it comes with a Bride’s Gift Record wherein one can list all the gifts one receives and keep track of whether you’ve acknowledged them of not. It’s ambitious; there are numbered lines for 256 gifts.

Among the truly revolting dishes it presents in nauseating Technicolor is this Apple-Beef Ring With Green Bean Succotash that resembles a dog bowl. Husbands must have recoiled in horror.

On the facing page is a recipe for A Connubial Breakfast of ham and eggs because “the bride, unsure of her mate’s morning preferences, might well serve them, for they bring that proverbial bliss.”

We all know what her mate’s morning preference is for "proverbial bliss," but curiously the guidebook doesn’t say anything about that whatsoever.

Happy Living! A Guidebook for Brides, American Bride Publications, 1965

Also from this book: Three Courses (Of Course)Creamed Eggs In A Corned Beef CrustAll For One And One For All!
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