The Complete Philanderer

Jot 101 Rex Stout picPart one

We have seen in a recent Jot how that great Sci-Fi pioneer and social satirist, Philip Wylie, was at base a misogynist. Here is the detective writer  Rex Stout (1886 – 1975) writing in the same Bedroom Companion offering tips on how a young tyro amorist could  achieve a series of notches on his bedpost.

Stout divides his advice into four categories: Equipment, Method, Raw Material, and Keeping Score.

As for equipment, the first rule is, travel light. Keeping your baggage at a minimum increases your mobility, helps to maintain financial solvency, and prevents your abanding valuable stores and ammunition to the enemy in case of emergency evacuation…I knew one fellow, a Lithuanian who operated on the Grand Street sector, otherwise a sound technician, who went so far as to advocate carrying one’s own mattress….and a man out west somewhere ( I never met him) who suggested an air mattress was obviously an impractical dreamer. Had he ever, I wonder, outraged his lungs—indeed his entire diaphragm—by inflating an air mattress to the required buoyancy? If he had, what was he good for then? He might reply that he also carried an automobile tire pump. I retort, what are we, gallants or garage mechanics?.

After stipulating the quality and colour of the amorist’s clothing ( a suit in grey, a shirt of whatever colour  and shoe laces that don’t have food spilt on them) Stout then suggests that no hat be born, though if the wearer does take one it must on no account bear the amorist’s initials. Rings are also strictly forbidden.

‘ There was a case recently in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, where an amateur amorist  ( a chap no-one had ever heard of) trying to use the quick approach, got his ring caught in the subject’s hair at the back of her neck, as the pair stood in the front hall. Unthinking, she screamed’ Ouch ‘, and the next door- neighbour, overhearing had her curiosity aroused. The neighbor maliciously called the subject on the telephone, kept her there for several minutes telling her funny stories, and completely changed her mood: and the amorist went home empty-handed, cursing his luck, when luck had nothing to do with it. His failure to score had been due entirely to his own criminal negligence in forgetting to remove his ring…’  


A further recommendation is that the amorist wear a streetcar conductor’s ‘ dingus ‘ around his neck. This would hold coins and thus ‘save a great deal of dillydally and folderol, since the money is in plain sight and thus settles at once in the subject’s mind such questions as dinner probabilities, champagne, shopping strolls, unnecessary indulgences, and—in rare cases—emoluments…’


Stout then goes on to ‘Method’. He criticises older writers on seduction, such as Ovid and Aretino, for formulating general rules when the whole business depended on ‘the personality and ability ‘of the amorist, the temperament and Receptivity Quotient ‘of the lady, the weather, the state of your finances and similar ‘acts of God’. He also urges the amorist not to withdraw from the battle if something unpleasant such as indigestion threatens to ruin the atmosphere of the meeting. Stout also stresses that there are things that the amorist must never do. These include creating an argument:

1) If she must have an argument, wrangle with her about football, the theory of relativity, tooth paste, dialectical materialism, palmistry, or any other topic that is handy, and when she seems pretty well talked out and begins to stop for breath, pounce.’


2) Never make remarks comparing blondes and brunettes unless you are certain of the original colouring of the current subject.


3) As regards any given gesture ( taking her hand, eye gazing, sitting up close, speechlessness though emotion,, kissing, embracing, what not),always perform it either ten seconds before she expects it , or ten seconds after. It confuses her and keeps her on tenterhooks, and is the surest way to retain control


4) The only gifts permitted in advance of consummation are flowers, candy, books, booze and toilet articles not of precious metals. Any other advance gifts, being bribes, disqualify you as an amorist and demote you to the grade of sucker


5) Excessively derisive or abusive remarks concerning a competitor will make you liable to instant expulsion from the American Amorists’ Association.


6) A yes in her mind is worth two in her mouth


7) Remember that reluctance may be the whitest flag she has. [ R R)


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