Works in the Herald 1934

I am thinking of having my ears painted green.

This may seem a rather startling statement to the average male; but, when you come to consider what out still slightly better halves and five-eighths are other vulgar fractions are doing in the matter of personal decoration, it is scarcely to be wondered at that a revolt should happen sooner or later. It has happened now - and it has happened now because I have suddenly recognised that, to maintain the prestige of the male in the human race, we must decorate or go under.

Almost alone of the animal kingdom, man has allowed the female of the species to become decorative beyond all reason while he permits himself to become a drab and uninteresting moth dancing attendance upon a gorgeous butterfly.

The situation is fundamentally wrong; for, in nearly all the rest of nature we perceive that it is the male who clothes himself in the full consciousness that, to the eye at least, he is putting it all over his meek little mate.

In the insect world, the bird world, we find this an almost invariable rule. The male dominates and is, in decoration and distinction, supreme. Even the male spider achieves a measure of distinction by allowing his lady to eat him after the honeymoon. Thus he wins the world's sympathy while his bigger if not better half is looed upon as the avid ogress she is.

Modern man seem to be unable to gain even this much publicity and slinks through life in such a mean-spirited manner that he would, if he could, crawl under his own shadow in order to escape the derisive notice of other animal males, strutting in all their glory.

So (if in the enthusiasm of a great discovery, I may be permitted to mix a few metaphors) I intend to put my shoulder to the wheel, set the ball rolling, break the ice, and make every post a winning post - I am going to paint my ears green.

But, to be quite honest, I must admit that the idea is not entirely original. And, in deep humiliation, I have further to confess that it was women's latest fad that gave me the hint in the beginning.

But woman has pushed man just a little too far at last, with her latest decorative scheme and the revolt of man is about to begin.

I refer, of course, to the coloring of female finger nails.

The first set of these decorated nails that happened to come under my notice were colored a vivid and arresting red; and I remember thinking at the time that this was the silliest, craziest, most ineffective and purposeless fad I had ever encountered. But, a little later, when I happened to take the red-nailed lady to lunch, I had occasion to alter that opinion.

My guest's frock, though neat and fashionable, was in no way arresting; while other ladies in the room were clad in gorgeous and expensive raiment. Yet we had not been seated many minutes before all eyes in the room were turned upon our table - the feminine ones in ill-conceived envy, those of the males, in that ox-like stare of amazed admiration that is evidence of our sex's eternal unsophistication.

For my lady friend that lunch was a triumph; for me a slow and painful martyrdom. Seemingly supremely unconscious of her magnetic nails, she contrived to use them much as the blackfellow of our western coasts employs his erotic and iridescent pearl shell - hiding in the scrub to flash its reflections into the fascinated eyes of his passing lady love. And she used them with much the same effect.

I came away from that lunch savagely resolved to snatch victory from defeat in the eternal war of the sexes.

I don't care if I am stealing the enemy's ammunition. We males have fought too honorably and too long against an unprincipled foe to whom chemical warfare is an old, old story.

I am going to have my ears painted green!

Herald, 20 January 1934, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002