The American Woman by Col. Stoopnagle

            Ever since I can remember, there have been women.  A rather stateling startment, isn't it!  But without women, I suppose this world would be pretty dull.  I'd hate to see nothing around but men and children, especially if there were just men.

            Poets have spent a great deal of time making rhymes, and philosophers have done anything but neglect women in their sly references to the vicissitudes of the human race.  James Russell Lowell and Alexander Pope lived in different centuries, as so many people did in those days, yet strangely their combined consideration of women of the female sex boiled down to this: "Earth's noblest thing -- a woman perfected -- is at best a contradiction still."  Mr. Pope goes a bit farther, all by himself, to assert that "...every woman is at heart a rake."  Now, as the modern expert on women, I hereby claim that the American woman is a noble thing, a contradiction and a rake.  So, you see, women haven't changed one whit since the seventeenth century, although many have changed husbands. 

            There's an old thing by George Pope Morris (that Pope fellow keeps popping up everywhere!) that goes, as best I can recall it: "Woman, woman spare that tree!"  Journalist Morris wrote the line while Mrs. Morris was tossing his family tree in his direction, I understand.  And the American woman ever since has spent entirely too much time chiding her husband about his ancestors when she should be shining his boots, hanging up his clothes, filling his pipe, ironing out his forehead wrinkles and making him generally comfortable.  Instead she lies abed, sometimes until seven in the morning, vacuums the baby, variegates the victuals, damns the domestic, darns the socks, vases the flowers, faces the magazine saleswoman, effaces the wall smears and does a thousand and one other totally useless things.  Then, praise be, she has the consummate nerve to take three hours off in the afternoon to lose $1.80 at gin rummy.

            Doggone it, even though I shall probably be known to posterity as the Colonel Stoopnagle of my time, I find myself a little at odds with myself on this American woman question.  Sometimes I think she is double-peachy with whipped cream and other times I just don't think.  The upshot of it all is that I invariably find myself back home each evening, smoking a roaring carpet slipper, sitting by the snug fire, with a julep at my mint elbow, tired feet gloriously ensconced in mauve Corona Coronas.  The American woman is a magnet which at once attracts and repels, and I am but an old, bent carpet tack named Brad.

            I conducted my own private Gallupnagle poll a while back, to find out how, if and when this strange creature known as the A. W. is thinking.  If you don't mind, I'd like to set forth some of the most flagrant results.  The question was: "Do you or do you not think that American womanhood, in its devious manifestations, is a thing of the past or future?"


            "I think American womanhood is a thing we can well observe in times like these, when the sooner the war is over, the sooner the conflict will have terminated."


            "I didn't understand the question."

PHOEBE B. BEEBE, owner of a new canoe canal:

            "I find American womanhood a continued source of utter femininity."

MRS. PEACHY FREDERICI, mother of the now famous Frederici Octuplets:

            "My eight babies look so much alike I call them all Henry except Jane."

CARRIE NATION (no relation to THE Carrie Nation), spot welder:

            "My name sounds like a Roosevelt headline in an election month, doesn't it?"

PHELIA PULSE, resident president of the Vermilion Pavilion:

            "The word 'womanhood' has great significance in itself.  Do you realize that it comes from two words -- 'woman' and 'hood'"

            The results of this poll have been widespread, to say nothing of several of the women interviewed.  Only yesterday, I received a note from a farmer in West Ghastly, Vermont.  He couldn't write in longhand because he was shorthanded.  So I had to hire a beautiful overdeveloped eighteen-year-old blonde to transcribe his letter, among other things.  The letter goes like this here:

"Dear Gallupnagle:  Now that you've so thoroughly covered the subject of the American Woman, how's about conducting another poll?  We have been told time and again to display the Red, White and Blue.  Only a few are doing it.  I wish I knew the percentage.  I wonder if you wouldn't come to West Ghastly and conduct a flag poll.  (Signed)  A Friend of the Serl."  To this man, I can simply say: "Train reservations are not only impossible, but you just can't get 'em!"

            Then I got a telegram from some executive in Mustn't Point, Oregon.  I didn't fully realize the significance of it until I saw the man's name.  The wire said: "I CANNOT COMMIT MYSELF. (SIGNED) HARA KARI."

            One of a series of two consecutive post cards, which came in a day before yesterday, was postmarked c/o Postmistress, San Francisco.  (Guess the Postmaster has changed uniforms!)  Here's an excerpt:  "Dear Gallupnagle: Where I am, although it's a strict secret, there are American women, too, only they rub noses and live in igloos.  Like their sisters down in the States, they make with the copious tears when they want something.  But I suppose that if you and I ate nothing but whale fat and candles, we'd blubber, too.  Your chilly friend, (signed) Boazen Smate.  P. S.  I can't tell you where I am, or whether it's cold or hot, so I will only quote a famous remark by Julius Caesar, who said: 'Attu, Brute?'  By the way, if you want the comment of one of the women up here, let me know and Al ask a."

            Ah, yes, the mail is piling up and the telephone is ringing constantly.  Pardon me.  I think I hear a slight tinkle right now.


            "Is this Gallupnagle, the famous poll-conductor?"

            "Oh, to be sure!"

            "Well, this is William Dilliam, your next-door neighbor.  There's an old telegraph pole on my front lawn.  Would you come over right away and conduct the pole to somewheres else?"  (Sound: Receiver on hook)  Sorry to have had to interrupt our conversation that way, but that was my next-door neighbor.  He's crazy.

            Yes, things are really buzzing now with the American Woman, ever since publication of my poll.  Not only am I convinced that she is here to stay, but I will venture the assertion that she will probably continue to dominate the lives of American Men.  Fearful of the wrath of "a certain woman" which might come tumbling down upon this poor, soft head, I shall dally no longer in saying just this:  I think there's no wonderfuler thing on earth than a good, reliable, trustworthy, companionable, irresponsible American woman.  I say I shan't dally, ladies, because I believe in "action now."  He who hesilost is tates!


[From MLLE, circa 1944]


Page created November 15, 2006.  Copyright 1998-2006 by Richard D. Squires.