Thursday, 7 March 2013

Golden Age of Dating

I think it must be dating week here on Seraphic Singles, which strikes me as a bit of an anachronism, although who can say? What seems ludicrously out-of-date in New York City may be just ordinary life in Rolling Prairie, Indiana and Kielce, Małopolska Swietokrzyskie. And I never went on a date with B.A., not really. I just arrived in the Edinburgh bus station via Toronto and London, and when he asked if I wanted to eat in the city or back at the Historical House, I said "I want a meat pie and a pint of ale." Frankly, I don't remember who paid.

My mother's parents most definitely went on dates in the 1930s. I cannot remember where they went for these dates. I only remember that my grandmother's family home was a long walk from the bus stop, and it was a long (and in winter extremely cold) wait for the bus, and my grandfather's marriage proposal was, "Well, I'm tired of walking back to the bus stop. We should get married."

My guess is that the 1930s was the golden age of dating, and here is a lovely Polish song to celebrate it. I will provide a translation underneath. A cynical Polish man of my acquaintance commented on how much Eugeniusz (the singer's name is Eugeniusz) is shelling out for some girl who might break up with him. However, I  myself am not so cynical that I do not find the song very sweet.

(The singer is listening to the radio.)

Translation of first verse and refrain:

8:04, some record.
8:10, someone is reading something.
It's not important. Today she is most important.
First--seven o'clock, three o'clock, five o'clock...
Someone confused everything for me today,
but one thing, one thing I know.

I have arranged to meet her at nine.
I miss her so much already.
Soon I will ask for an advance from the boss.
I will buy her a [corsage] of roses.
Then the cinema, the patisserie and the walk
in the moonlit bright night
and we will be happy, cheerful
until midnight separates us
and I will make an appointment to see her at nine,
at nine just like today.

Why nine, I simply do not know. Frankly, I think it must be because "dziewiąta" (9:00) scans better than "siódma" (7:00) or "ósma" (8:00).

Ah, the 1930s. Comic books about Archie Andrews first came out in 1941, and the characters were based on people their creator met while travelling around the American Mid-West, presumably before that. Given the continued popularity of Archie comics among children, especially girl children, my guess is that our first impressions of teenage life and dating come from dear Archie, Betty and Veronica, who were teenagers before the Second World War. How sad to discover that life is not as it is in Archie Comics. Alas, alas.


Kasia said...

Kielce is most definitely not in Małopolska :)

Nine has more syllables than seven and eight in Polish, same number as ten - but ten would be far too late for a date!

Seraphic said...

Isn't it? I thought it was! Did the borders change or am I just completely wrong?

Kasia said...

It has never been in Małopolska as far as I'm aware. It used to be in Kieleckie, now it's in Świętokrzyskie.


Jam said...

Have you ever read "Modern Love" by Marcus Collins? It's an academic book, about the history of "mutuality", i.e., the idea that men and women ought to be equal and complementary (as opposed to a Victorian idea of hierarchy and separation, or modern individualism). At the least, I'd think you'd enjoy the introduction. It gives a really useful perspective on what has changed in male-female relationships.

An Englishman who once lived in Kielce said...

Kielce *is* in the historic region of Małopolska - just not in the (smaller, and more specifically, administratively defined) Świętokrzyskie voivodship.

Approx English equivalent: saying Norwich is in East Anglia (which it is - for all that there isn't a strict, official, definition of what that constitutes any more) - at the same time it is also in Norfolk.

I lived in Kielce for a month. More people attempted to start a fight with me there in that month than at any other point in my life, and I grew up on a dodgy council estate in East London. (One of my colleagues had three teeth punched out of him in an unprovoked attack in the main street in the town - and it would have been far far worse had the police not been passing).

Sadly there (and not only for that reason) my romanticisation of life in the Polish provinces ended, and for good.

Alas. As I did experience much goodness there too.

Alisha said...

Makes me think a lot of one of the songs in the Jacques Brel song Madelaine which is part of the show I am in right now. It is about a guy who is waiting expectantly and with each verse more and more time has passed but he still continues to hold out hope that she will show and intends to come back and wait again the next day. It's so upbeat and yet heartbreaking:

Kasia said...

@Englishman: I believe Seraphic was referring to administrative region, not historic or geographic. Otherwise she would have written Rolling Prairie, Midwest, rather than Indiana. Your East Anglia equivalent is logical (and very commonly used - I know I coincidentally lived there), but I'm afraid doesn't work in Poland where people are far more accurate when describing location. We wouldn't say Wroclaw is in Silesia - we'd say it's in Lower Silesia, Bytom is in Upper Silesia and Nysa is in Opole Silesia - even though all are in Silesia and Opole Silesia is indeed part of Upper Silesia. No one would ever say that Zakopane is in Malopolska, even though it administratively lies in Lesser Poland (Malopolska) Voivodship. Zakopane is in Podhale. And Kielce is in Swietokrzyskie, even though historically it's been part of Malopolska (I admit I was wrong, it used to be part of Malopolska administrative region up to 17th century - lesson learned: NEVER use universal quantification!).

Wrt to the place being dodgy - I don't want to get into a pointless discussion about it, but the picture of the place you're painting is thoroughly unfair. I'm indeed really sorry about your and your friend's experiences, and I'm not trying to question them or even try to understand why it happened, but unprovoked fights most definitely are not a common occurrence in Kielce. It's not the most wonderful place in the world, but not unsafe either.

Seraphic said...

And so ends the discussion! There is a total ban on heated arguments on this particular blog, as the vast majority of its readers are women and don't like them.

Thank you, Kasia! I understand now, and I will máke the change!

Sarah said...

I've been talking to one of my guy friends who has been putting off asking out this girl he likes for a couple months now.

I've been telling him how important it is that guys start asking girls out on REAL dates (not just "hanging out") and pish-poshing all of his excuses... but then I came up with a plan...

There's a website called "Stikk" that allows you to create a goal for yourself, and for every day you don't meet your goal, it sends a set amount of money from your bank account to the bank account of a friend or a charity of your choice.

I think I could kick start the dating scene, and start a lucrative business this way if I could get enough love-struck but shy/unmotivated boys on board. ;)

Stoical said...


I've been wondering recently whether it makes sense to date men at all, and expect anything for your future.
I'm nearly 30 and and haven't met single NCB for years. Where I live (Poland), many Christian men of my age are taken. Many guys who declare themselves catholic sleep around but still they expect ther future wives to be virgins (Grhhhh...) I work in a very secular environment and it's very unlikely that I could meet quality men who won't expect to start the relationship in bed.. I wonder whether it wouldn't be more sensible to fend off men at all and contemplate spinsterhood instead. Otherwise I'm doomed to constant dissappointment.
Any advice?

Seraphic said...

Well, I have several thoughts. The first is that wages are better in the UK, where it is rumoured that the average Polish girl is much prettier than the average British girl.

My Polish class is full of lovesick English, Scottish and other guys learning Polish because they have Polish girlfriends/fiances/wives.

The second thought is that your parish priest might know of lay adult organizations where actually devout (and not just cultural) Catholics can meet and socialize.

The third thought is that it makes a lot of sense to fend off men and pay attention to them only if they are actually love-struck to the point of begging you to give them a chance. ("I'm not a bad guy, I swear!")

The fourth thought is that quality men do not actually expect to start the relationship in bed. They expect to wait AT LEAST three dates. And there are indeed quality Single men in Poland who do not actually sleep around.

At least, I am pretty sure there must be, since I was told that this whole picking up one night stands in bars was a British thing and very surprising to the average Polish migrant.

Meanwhile, save for your old age and make friends from all generations and have as wonderful a time as you can being Single.

Seraphic said...

(In this case I am assuming that quality men does not necessarily mean "religious men who are deeply committed to premarital chastity.")

Actually, I don't know what quality men means although I can certainly guess.