Ted’s Book Club: A Woman’s Guide to Football!
HERE’S one for you gals among my, what, six readers: Seen on, and grabbed from, the free book cart at my local municipal book-lending distribution center, or library — and just in time for football season, which I understand will be starting up again soon!
A Woman’s Guide to Football!
Featuring the ol’ pigskin right on the cover, but, whaddayacall, femmanized, dere, with a pretty pink bow and a spray of flowers atop! Adorable!
It’s a “Dell Purse Book,” so it fits handily right into those purses you ladies are always carrying around.
Published by the good folks at Dell Publishing in 1969, what amounts to a foreword, under the heading “Forever On Sunday,” begins thusly:
Had the housewife of 1869 been able to see ahead, chances are she’d have stormed to New Brunswick, New Jersey and plunged her Victorian hatpin into the backsides of 22 students (from Rutgers and Princeton) who were assembled to play the first football game on record. But Granny was no soothsayer and as it turned out, her lack of foresight didn’t matter for the better part of a century. Until the 1950s, Sunday was a restful day — a time for visiting, taking a stroll, enjoying a leisurely dinner. But I guess you know, lady, things have changed . This is the age of television and the era of football, and between the two, you haven’t got a chance.
It goes on to gently warn readers that “it’s time for the women of America learned this new adage: The family that prays for the home team together stays together.”
Good advice, you’ll agree. And it just gets better from there, brother! …er, sister!
“A Woman’s Guide to Football” was written by Hy Goldberg, and as best as I can divine from thirty seconds of searching on the internet, it’s the only book the man wrote. A shame, too — the man had such a talent for writing for a female audience. Clearly, if he were around today, he’d be a regular contributor on “Bustle.”
Good heavens, even if you become passionate about the sport, don’t start absorbing too much knowledge — the ongoing existence of your marriage may depend on it! Besides, no one likes a smart woman!
“A Woman’s Guide to Football” is written in a question-and-answer format, with one of those, ha!, typically hapless, sports-baffled ladies posing questions and Hy patiently answering them.
Well, mostly patiently: Occasionally, even our author gets a bit frustrated (and who can blame him?), such as seen in this exchange:
…and so on.
Here’s how supermarket-checkout-counter-impulse-buying women of the late 1960s and early 1970s learned football, with examples chosen specifically not for Mr. Goldberg’s knowledge of the game, but rather for his approach towards addressing the feminine sex:
If you manage your time well enough, honey, you can probably baste the roast and take your curlers out!
While Hy does attempt something resembling politeness, occasionally referring to the reader as “ma’am,” more often he has nicknamed the reader, all readers, all women everywhere, as “Alice.”
But even “Alice” has her limits being talked down to:
Though when one remembers that it’s Hy writing both sides of the conversation, even “Alice’s” attempts at sticking up for herself become irrelevant.
Ah, yes: “the fancy place-kicker.”
“Old girl.” Apparently “Alice” is now a beloved horse.
Steady, Hy. Remember, this is all new to Alice.
Alice may grasp it, but she’s already been warned about being a know-it-all, so if she’s smart (and she shouldn’t be!), she’ll still act confused.
The “reader” finally gets to assert herself at the end, and explain that she’s not “Alice.” But not before ol’ Hy hits a game-winning home run of a hat trick (to use some of my own football knowledge) with this triple play of condescending misogyny:
One can only imagine the guys around Dell’s purse book division in the late 60s patting Hy Goldberg and themselves on the back for this one. “A masterpiece, Hy. And women can’t complain — because we let them ‘have the last word!'”
Anyway, after having picked this thing up and flipped through it with you, I realize there’s no way on earth this book would ever be published today.
And for good reason:
Any publisher would go broke selling an informative little volume like this for only two bits!
…And that staccato click-click-click-click, fellas, is the last of my female readers stamping their pretty little high-heeled shod-feet away from my blog.
Seriously, though — I’ve come across this particular Dell Purse book a few times over the years, and not surprisingly, they’re always in excellent condition. Were they purchased by women themselves who were making an attempt to learn the game and immediately turned off by the author’s condescending tone, or bought by husbands to give to their wives (with the same result)?
I guess we’ll never know, Alice.