Tuesday, April 15, 2014


When I first put this uniform on,
I said, as I looked in the glass,
"It's one to a million
That any civilian
My figure and form will surpass.
Gold lace has a charm for the fair,
And I've plenty of that, and to spare,
While a lover's professions,
When uttered in Hessians,
Are eloquent everywhere!"
A fact that I counted upon,
When I first put this uniform on!

I said, when I first put it on,
"It is plain to the veriest dunce
That every beauty
Will feel it her duty
To yield to its glamour at once.
They will see that I'm freely gold-laced
In a uniform handsome and chaste" -
But the peripatetics
Of long-haired aesthetics,
Are very much more to their taste -
Which I never counted upon
When I first put this uniform on!
William Schwenck Gilbert

I don't clearly understand what my better half sees in me; though I'm profoundly grateful that she does find something attractive. So perhaps it doesn't make a lot of sense for me to spend any effort trying to figure out why women seem attracted to men in uniform. But

Gilbert emphasises the flashy aspect of the uniform, and I've heard others say it is the "safe bad boy"--somebody dangerous but disciplined; strong for you and strong for your children and likelier to have strong children with. The latter seems a trifle reductionist, but it probably plays a role.

BTW, I'm talking about the ideal of the soldier, not the real one the woman gets to know later. We can all find plenty of exceptions--or at least those of us who actually know policemen or soldiers can.

Another aspect occured to me yesterday. A soldier or policeman takes on an open-ended commitment. So does a parent or a spouse. (So also, whether they want to know it or not, does someone who becomes a Christian.) The ideal soldier is someone who is capable of commitment--a creature a little scarcer on the ground that he used to be. I'd think that would appeal to both sexes, but the effect in men is probably swamped by other preferences. Someone who has the sense of adventure and trustworthiness for the long haul is a good catch.


Ann Hammon said...

We had friends in LA who had bomb shelters. Do you remember them?

Ann Hammon said...

We had friends in LA who had bomb shelters. Do you remember them?

james said...

Not really. I remember some talk, but not much more.