In So Many Words

Info-Comics by Larry Paros


Marital Disharmony

Why is it so difficult for men and women to make beautiful music together?

The protocol for a Victorian dinner party often had the men withdrawing at its conclusion to the appropriately named drawing room where they indulged in a fine cigar and a glass of Madeira while boasting to one another about their achievements — a process known as blowing their own horns (trumpets). As a form of competition among "Type A" males, the custom originated in medieval times when heralds announced with a flourish the knights' entrance into a jousting tournament.

The practice continues today, justified and embellished by the words of the British media mogul, Lord Beaverbrook, who advised, "If you do not blow your own trumpet, no one else will do it for you."

Back to the dinner party, you'd find the women busily engaged in harping on one thing or another. The harp was once the province of every properly bred young woman. Daughters showed their social graces by playing the difficult instrument, most simply plucking away at it, a string or two at a time. This equated harping with dwelling endlessly and tediously on a single subject.

Between men blowing their own trumpets and women harping about things, the resulting din was anything but music to one's ears.