Dear Phrontis: A Taxonomy of Spinsters

Dear Phrontis is our advice column, featuring the questions we imagine people would put to us were anyone batshit crazy enough to write us for advice. The questions may or may not be made up or entirely drawn from our own personal lives, and the answers may or may not be safe to apply to your own. Previously, and previously.

Dear Phrontis,

So, I’m a single guy living in a big city where it’s hard to get to know people. The other day I noticed a cat stuck in the fence. Turns out it belonged the woman who lives in the apartment just below me. When I brought it home, she invited me in and we chatted for a while. She’s really pretty and nice, and I think there was a spark there. Thing is, I have very decided tastes, aesthetics, and lifestyle preferences, and I dream of a girl who not only shares them, but to an extent embodies them. Any way to figure out if this is even worth trying before I go and get myself entangled with my neighbor?

Searching for Soulmate in San Francisco

Dear Searching,

In times past, a discreet glance was enough to ascertain a lady’s station in life. Did she travel by post, or in the barouche box? Were her hands roughened by coarsening labor, or soft and innocent as the feminine mind? How much embroidery had her reticule? [Ed. Note: We think Phrontis may be making this one up.]

Feminism, of course, set out to destroy these simple methods. Not content with turning all red-blooded American males into puling, flaccid, beta-males, the feminist flood of sharp-elbowed women into places and positions formerly reserved for men has hopelessly muddled the time-tested systems for ascertaining whether she’s the marrying sort or just some tart.

Luckily, the pernicious project has enjoyed far from universal success. You may still discover, with minimum effort, whether the apple of your eye is a young lady of genteel breeding, or the kind of hussy who unabashedly watches Jersey Shore

You mention that this siren owns a cat. Here, for your guidance and edification, is Phrontis’ Guide To Cat Names and The Ladies Who Bestow them.

Snowball/Misty/Fluffy

The Snowball/Misty/Fluffy coterie is the baseline, the default, the 99 percent. She might be just as agreeable to you had she cats named Snowball to fill all of Cheapside, but I would advise you to proceed with caution. You will gain very little cultural status by such an alliance.

Cleo/Sam/other human name.

Perfectly respectable, take-or-leave. This is the great middle class of feline nomenclature.

Prunesquallor/Martin Chuzzlewit/Other name drawn from Victorian or Gothic literature.

This young lady’s tastes are of the over-refined sort that once would have befitted a governess; now, they grace students of English literature or aspiring arts and culture journalists. Like their governess ancestresses, these ladies forsee a long spinsterhood. It would probably not be gentlemanlike to contradict them.

Emily Dickinson/Elizabeth Bennet

A New York third wave feminist, college educated, single and pretending to be happy about it, overscheduled, undersexed, buys any magazine that says “healthy body image” on the cover. Every two years she takes up knitting for a week.

Catullus/Galinthias

Although she seems secure enough in her classical superiority to descend to terrible puns (much like those millionaires’ daughters who wear nothing but athletic leggings and expensive riding boots), this young woman will do you no favors. Her jokes will be terrible. More importantly, her references may stray far outside the decorous limit of quirky pop culture and New Yorker approved novels established by that guiding lodestar of feminine excellence, Gilmore Girls.

Mrs. Norris

You are mooning after Argus Filch or someone who obsessively read/reads Harry Potter. The second category is, alas, far too universal to base useful caste deductions on.

Tevildo

If you want your firstborn daughter to struggle under the burden of a name like Tinuviel, not only on the playground, but her entire adult life, be my guest.

Cat

This woman may style herself after Holly Golightly, in which case she is probably in high school and you are a creepy predator. Or she may just consider herself above all this nonsense, under which heading I can assure you that you and your delicate sensibilities will fall.

Bast/Astarte

This young person fancies herself a witch,  an avocation with the kind of cultural cachet that will increasingly diminish as you approach middle age together. One must not be short-sighted; seances in Bushwick are all very well, but can she charm a PTA meeting?

Hecate/Murgatroyd/Catalpa/Adderwort

This woman actually is a witch, and if jilted will turn you into a toad.

Tybalt

If her cat is named Tybalt, she’s your landed gentry.  Conscientious about imbuing even the smallest details of daily life with a picturesque sophistication, she respects the taste consensus too much to ever deviate far from its center. Here, truly, is a gently cultivated lady worthy of your devotion.

Yours sincerely,

Phrontis

[Ed. Note: While Phrontis’ hatred of single women is well documented, spinsters are possibly the most favorite and welcome demographic here at Babes. Especially when they bring gorgeously pretentious cat names to the party.]

RELATED

Speaking of witches, I am pretty sure this guy is a magician. Look at his name. Look at his picture. Look at his profession. Bam.

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