Monday, September 25, 2006

In college a few of us had a habit of getting together and listening to ‘This American Life’ on public radio. One afternoon the broadcast (or as it turned out a rebroadcast) had a segment that included excerpts from a recording by Helen Gurley Brown providing advice to men on having an affair.

A few weeks ago in researching something HGB’s name popped up and I remembered the recording and then made a note to find the episode. Conveniently, the shows web site has their episodes cataloged and available as MP3 files. The one I was looking for is episode 40: Lessons, first broadcast 11/1/96.

The HGB segment if from the recording ‘Lessons on Love’, which provides advice to men and women on love and sex and was a follow up to her book Sex and the Single Girl. The The This American Life episode touched on two subjects mistresses and secretaries. The transcript that follows is not completely accurate as the only control available to me was pausing the audio stream.

Advice to (married) Men on how to have and Affair

Just because your wife is out of town that does not mean it is a convenient time for your girlfriend who may actually prefer that you make the effort to see her when your wife is in town.

Your girlfriend knows that that you take her to that little hotel in the country because you are hiding her out so it is important, particularly early in the affair that you go first class.

How do you keep her happy?
  • Never assume that the physical relationship is the most important thing, even if she enjoys your body.
  • What a woman really wants is a baby and an offer of marriage. Of course your’re married so presents are a welcome substitute and money is a perfectly wonderful present. It is not half as insulting as you’d like to think. Stocks and bonds are nice to. A US E bond tucked in with a bottle of Arpege is very hard to take offense with.
Don’t expect your girl to respect your wish not to be seen or keep the lipstick off your collar. That’s your responsibility. It may seem perverse, but a girl may take as certain offbeat pride in being seen with someone else’s attractive husband. If you do run into friends of the family don’t try to burrow your way to China. Just smile and be gracious and introduce everybody all around. If your trapped no explanations and no apologies.

Never drink up her booze with out replacing it. You really ought to bring a lot more than you consume.

Never, never, never let her spend her birthday alone, even if you need to lie your way into purgatory to get out of the house.

Never lie to her about little things. The big lie your living, that someday the two of you are going to be married is going to be hard enough to explain when the time comes. Be sure she can trust you in smaller matters.

Treat your girl with great dignity, like a princess.

Never, never cheat on her with anyone but your wife.


A secretary offers the only kind of polygamy that we recognize in this country. The chance to have a second wife at the same time you have your first one and not go to jail. If you select her carefully she can be the loveliest of all fringe benefits. And to think the company pays for her.

Turning your secretary into a girlfriend has one big advantage. You know where she is most of the time. If that is what you want I suggest you just follow the proceeding rules about getting any other girl to the brink and keeping her happy after she’s there. However I’m inclined to go along with the Broadway musical number that says a secretary is not a toy.

Why not let the one of the other guys at the office hire the gorgeous girl as a secretary and you borrow her for what ever you had in mind. In that way you can keep your own secretary to do more important things like running your life and bolstering your ego, protecting and mothering you, covering for you and sending out for sandwiches.

If the girl who should be doing that is a ravishing red head who you are off your rocker about, you’ll end up doing those things for her. Besides all romances end or end in marriage and you’d soon be out of a secretary again.

When listening to this I couldn't help but wonder how perverse it was, but also how true. Though the part about secretaries is a bit archaic. The bright attractive women who may were secretaries begat daughters who are directors of sales and VPs of HR or administration.



Anonymous VJ said...

Yep you nailed it there Kim. HGB was talking about, for and to an earlier generation, (the 20's to the 1950's actually). But a lot of the pure etiquette and 'fair treatment' has not changed all that much in 100 years. Hell even Heidi Fleiss did a credible and decent job with the same material in her 'Players handbook'.

But yeah, HGB was the go to gal on all of this from the early to mid 60's on. Before and at about the same time as Heff hit with Playboy. So that will range her. Grandad probably knows the crowd she hung with. They're mostly gone now. Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

10:03 AM  
Anonymous VJ said...

There is obviously a booming call for such things, now Britian's Debrett's (of Peerage fame) is getting in on the action! [From The Independent]: Cheers, 'VJ'


11:51 AM  

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