Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Old habits

Jennie called to my attention this recent boingboing post on this book about the art of manliness. The post mentioned two terms that quite charmed me:

"Snotter, or Wipe-hauler. A pickpocket whose chief fancy is for gentlemen's pocket-handkerchiefs."
The whole idea that one might even consider calling oneself a snotter or a wipe-hauler just makes me smile.

As I was enjoying these terms, I realized that one of the reasons I so liked them is that I carry a cloth handkerchief every day. I always have. My mother taught me that a gentleman should always have a handkerchief on him, and my allergies made the handkerchief's presence quite useful on many occasions. I still carry one today, though now thanks to allergy shots and deviated-septum-repair surgery, I need it rarely.

Most men, though, do not. The habit is fading away and will soon be gone. I can't say that it's any particular loss for humanity, but it will render terms such as those above even more obscure than they already are.

I should note that I do not iron my handkerchiefs, nor are they of the finest quality or even entirely white after years of use, so any snotter who indulged his fancy with my pockets would no doubt shake his head in disgust at the sad state of gentlemen today. So go many things, not in a bang but in a slow unraveling.


Sarah said...

"Nor are they of the finest quality."

Readers, there is a team of people which actively tries to steal these handkerchiefs and burn them. They are in that deplorable a condition.

J. Griffin Barber said...

"not with a bang, but a slow unraveling."

With such wisdom and smooth delivery, you should write or something, Mark.

Mark said...

Sarah, I have to say that the last sentence is a bit harsh. It is true that the stealth chiff hunters exist. It is also true that many of my chiffs are in such bad shape that they have nicknames like "Chiffy McNoFringe." Many, however, are in fine condition and can pass for white in dim light.

Mark said...

Thanks, Griffin. I'm working on that front.


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