Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mashers and Poor Manners

“Even now, it is not uncommon for a native rough-neck to stop in front of a man who is walking with his wife and speak to the wife, sometimes quite as impartial as if he were viewing a beautiful statue, and often, with about as much courtesy as an East Side gunman is wont to employ.”– A young man and woman, dancing the tango in 1920’s Argentina... A couple’s dance, the tango originated in the 1880s along the River Plate, the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay. It soon spread to the rest of the world.

 In 1920s Argentina 

BUENOS AIRES. (By Mail to United Press)—A girl who can walk a city square alone in Buenos Aires without being spoken to by from one to a dozen men, either is so hopelessly ugly that she offers no attraction whatsoever to the opposite sex, or else is able to inspire by a belligerent attitude the belief that she is a veteran prize-fighter. Even then, she is likely to be addressed from a safe distance by a languorous Romeo with soft dark eyes, and the price of two cups of tea in his jeans, who assures her that she is the loveliest creature that ever hit the pike, that he would gladly let her adopt him, walk over him, or deprive him of his last 30 centavos to appease her angelic thirst.

 An American or an English girl usually will blush and hurry on under such circumstances, or else halt and prepare for a fair fight, according to her conception of what the situation demands, but an Argentine girl will proceed undisturbed, unless accompanied by her mother, in which case the mother will turn about and gravely thank the observant gentleman. Two girls, one blonde and English, the other brunette and an Argentine, were walking together on the Florida – which in Buenos Aires is the next-best thing to Fifth Avenue —when the blond girl literally “blew up” in indignation: “Dang these mashers,” she said, loud enough for the policemen on the two opposite corners of the block to hear. The Argentine girl chided her: “But why are you angry? Is it not a compliment for the men to observe and praise you?” “It is not!” 

However, even the Argentines are beginning to recognize the difference between impersonal praise and appreciation of beauty and common ordinary “mashing.” The recognition was hastened by the increased annoyance caused by the number and insistence of the “mashers.” Even now, it is not uncommon for a native rough-neck to stop in front of a man who is walking with his wife and speak to the wife, sometimes quite as impartial as if he were viewing a beautiful statue, and often, with about as much courtesy as an East Side gunman is wont to employ. Not infrequently one of these men walks right up to a good looking woman and takes her by the arm. It is a serious offense — a penitentiary offense —to strike an Argentinian in the face and disfigure him, but there are few women visitors who know the law, and the police are a liberal lot. They usually side with offended beauty. – By Morgan Easterling, United Press Staff Correspondent , 1923

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia