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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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


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,


[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.]


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.

Dear Phrontis: Marriage Prospects

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. 

Dear Phrontis,

I’m 27, and between Susan Patton, Julia “What Are You Waiting for” Shaw, and my Aunt Agatha, I’m totally freaking out about my marital future. Sometimes I don’t want to get married right now, and then I feel like kind of a bad person/idiot. And then sometimes I do want to get married (abstinence kind of sucks?), but then I feel like I’m going about it the wrong way. Should I entertain the attentions of any boy not raring to charge up a mountain in order to bring me eidelweiss? Is that actually a real flower? Should I be avoiding bars? Frequenting bars? Wearing lipstick? So many questions, so much pressure! Help!


Conjugally Challenged in Charleston

Dear CCC

I’m going to pass over your vulgar allusion to your so-called “sex drive;” which, by the way, reveals quite a lot about the root of your problems with nice Catholic men. I’m glad you’re feeling bad about your ambivalence towards marriage; it is a sick and sad world when women play coy with their duty and only shot at happiness because of some immature piffle about “goals” and a lifetime of unpaid laborEconomic upheaval, widespread moral anarchy, and the growing threat of Golden Dawn fascism in Greece are all mostly the fault of unmarried women.

But, although guilt is the first step towards atonement, I’m not sure there’s much you can do in your case. As my friend Tennyson (mostly) writes:

Her tongue got sharp, her hips got wide;

Her ovaries shriveled up inside;

“Crone-hood has come upon me!” cried

The lady of Shalott

How do I put this gently? You, my pet, are a 27 year-old prune. As James Taranto tells us out of the disinterested helpful goodness of his heart, young women like older, clever, sophisticated, rakishly charming men (much like James Taranto), and older men (like James Taranto) like coeds.  Once you’ve passed your expiration date, there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

If you insist on freaking out about a grim future completely beyond your control, why not focus on the things that will actually destroy your life? Scan the headlines; “sequestration” and “North Korea” are getting a lot of press time right now. I’ve found setting up a google alert for “pandemic” can be particularly helpful.

But, if you really think you’re going to be the one that beats the odds, here are some ground rules rules to follow.

1) Men are not real, different, complex people like you and me. The lessons from the decline and fall of your roommate’s last relationship should definitely be extrapolated to all men, everywhere, at all times.

2) Men don’t like: girls who are easy, frumpy, ditzy, threatening, talkative, boring, crazy, opinionated, made-up, ugly, feminists, not Grace Kelly (actually, no one should like you if you’re not Grace Kelly), women who make the first move, women who make any moves, and in some cases, women. Adjust your behavior accordingly.

3) Remember, there is nothing more attractive than a woman living with the paralyzing fear that if she violates a constantly shifting set of arbitrary rules and fails to mold herself into the perfect Eternal Feminine, no one will love her and she will die alone.



P.S. If you are fool enough to go out with some Mickey Rooney clone, or any other sop who goes around yowling “Annie Laurie” (of all things). I wash my hands of you.


More excellent advice


Dear Phrontis

Dear Phrontis is our new 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. 

Dear Phrontis,

Recently, I’ve been seeing this great guy. He’s smart, kind, considerate, funny, tall, handsome, the works. I really like going out with him, and I wouldn’t say no to some hand-holding on park benches and other similar shenanigans in the near future. The only problem is, I was at his house the other day, and was naturally very interested in the contents of his bookshelf. Imagine my horror when I saw, third row from the top, not one, not two, but three Ayn Rand novels. It’s not even that the mere thought of Rand’s sex scenes temporarily kills any desire to ever interact with any man ever again, it’s just that I cannot date a guy who likes Ayn Rand! I absolutely cannot date an objectivist wannabe! But I really like him!  Should I dump him? Should I figure out if he actually believes the philosophy or just inexplicably likes the writing? What do I do??


Subjectivist in Seattle

Dear Subjectivist,

First of all, what on earth were you doing in his house? Nice Catholic Girls do not go to men’s houses, or ride in their cars, or look at their bookshelves. Why buy the cow when you can get the literary criticism for free, as I’m sure you’re mother must have told you. You have got a mother, haven’t you?

Secondly, take a deep breath and get. a. grip. What makes you so high and mighty and prissy just because you have the good taste to avoid Ayn Rand? Good taste isn’t something you earn, and I bet you’re not without your shameful pleasures.

Finally, burn those books. No, I’m serious.  Ayn Rand poisons everything, and must be treated accordingly. Sure, it would be helpful to ascertain whether he’s merely committed a literary blunder or is deep, deep in her pernicious clutches. But this is just diagnostic. To address the problem, you must go the source. Burn those books, and if he buys another set, burn them again. Keep doing this until a Pavlovian response sets in. Eventually he will associate seeing you (which I am assuming he enjoys) with not owning Ayn Rand books. You will now be ready to continue your happy, healthy relationship.