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Let us suppose, for example, that you are a young man who has been invited to a dance to be given at the East Sh.o.r.e Country Club. It is your original intention, let us say, to attend as a "stag," but on the afternoon of the party you receive a note from a young lady of your acquaintance asking if you would be so kind as to accompany to the ball a guest of hers, a "sweet girl from South Orange" who was in her cla.s.s at college.
The correct costume for a dance of this sort is usually a dinner coat with a black or white vest, and when you have robed yourself correctly, you should drive in your car to the young lady's home. There you are presented to the sweet girl from South Orange, who is six feet tall and has protruding teeth. After the customary words of greeting and a few brief bits of pleasantry, you set off with your partner for the dance.
Arrived at the East Sh.o.r.e Club, you find the party in "full swing,"
and after shaking hands with your host and hostess, you should ask your partner if she would care to dance.
The first three times that she steps on your left foot, you should politely murmur, "My fault." But when she begins to sing in your ear it is proper to steer her over toward the "stag line" in order to pet.i.tion for an injunction or a temporary restraining order.
The "stag line" consists of a group of the wisest, shrewdest and most hard-hearted young men ever gathered together under one roof. The original purpose of a "stag line" was to provide a place where unattached young men might stand while searching for a partner, but the inst.i.tution has now come to be a form of Supreme Court, pa.s.sing life or death sentence upon the various debutantes who pa.s.s before it.
After you have piloted your partner five times along the length of this line you have a pretty fair idea as to her merits or demerits, and, in this particular case, you have a pretty fair idea as to just what the evening holds out for you. When the music stops you should therefore lead the girl over to a chair and ask to be allowed to bring her a gla.s.s of punch.
Instead of going directly to the punch bowl, you should turn your steps toward the "stag line." There you will find several young men whom only as late as that afternoon you counted among your very best friends, but who do not, at the present, seem to remember ever having met you before.
Seizing the arm of one of these you say, "Tom, I want you to meet----"
That is as far as you will get, for Tom will suddenly interrupt you by remarking, "Excuse me a minute, Ed--, I see a girl over there I've simply got to speak to. I'll come right back."
He will not come right back. He will not come back at all. And after you have met with the same response from four other so-called friends, you should return to the South Orange visitor and "carry on."
At the end of the second hour, however, your mind should begin to clear, and if you are at all possessed of the qualifications for future ballroom leadership, you should gradually throw off the slough of despond and determine to make a fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And when the music has once more ceased, you should ask your partner if she would not care to take a jaunt in the open air.
"I know a lovely walk," you should say, "across a quaint old bridge."
The rest is, of course, easy. Arrived in the middle of the quaint old bridge, which leads across a cavern some three hundred feet deep, you should quickly seize the tall college graduate, and push her, not too roughly or ungentlemanly, off the bridge.
And, if you are really a genius, and not merely "one of the crowd" you will return to the ballroom and, going up to the young lady who was responsible for your having met the sweet girl from South Orange, you will offer her your arm, and smile invitingly.
"I know a lovely walk," you will say, "across a quaint old bridge."