Dear Margaret,

In your last Lowcountry column you addressed the “breakdown of our social structure” and questioned how your young daughter will “discover the sweet, sacred mysteries of human sexuality – mindfully, with wonder, and in her own time – when the world is so intent on commercializing, trivializing, demystifying, and demoralizing it?”
This is indeed an excellent question, as our social structure is decaying in front of our very eyes. It is the stuff which I attempt to address, albeit usually in a different way.
    What will happen when your daughter reaches dating age? Will she be “asked out” by email or texting? Will her date come to your house to pick her up, introduce himself to you, assure you that she will be carefully attended, and brought home at an appointed hour? Or will she simply go out in a group to who-knows-where (or with whom), as seems to be the norm these days?
    I remember (and oh-boy does this place me in time!) when I was growing up and certain families kept a copy of  “The Social Register” next to the telephone. When the parent, inevitably, answered the call of someone asking to speak to their child, the caller was not put through unless their family name and social connections were found, and deemed appropriate, in that “blue book.”
    What has become of the process of  “dating” and thereby getting to know someone? We consider email correspondence and “meeting” people on web-sites such as “Facebook,, Second Life” etc. as an acceptable way to search for partners these days. What will it be like five or ten years from now?
    A friend of mine, who is in her early fifties, was introduced by a mutual friend, to a man who pronounced that his lineage is of a socially prominent and financially respected “old family.” After their third date he telephoned her and announced: “I miss you. I really love you. And I want to get laid.” She, who might also describe herself as having a “prudish” reputation, was quite taken aback. She had her wits about her enough to respond: “I've had the benefit of  some intimate relationships in my life and let me assure you that none of them ever began with: “Do you want to get laid?”! Unabashed, the man proceeded to then say: “I'm a man. Do you want to do me? Or do you want me to do me?” As you might imagine, she stopped taking his calls. It seems his blue blazer and striped silk tie belied a crass nature – he was all show, no substance.
    Another friend who had been dating a man for several weeks suddenly stopped hearing from him. When she encountered him later, she asked what had occasioned his absence. He replied that she “was toast' because she was obviously on the two month, or perhaps two year plan, and he was on the two week plan.” Now when I make breakfast I think twice about whether or not I want to have toast, as this has given what I previously thought of as comfort food, new meaning. A two week plan for a new relationship? This man obviously has never made bread.
Because there is no reason to be sexist about this “dating” nonsense… here is another story told to me by a woman who was a house guest on the evening a party was being held by her hosts. She said she made a great show of leaving the party early and walking up the winding staircase, in full view of all the guests, where she proceeded to dangle a bag of protective devices over the railing and say: “Look what I have here – all sizes, shapes and colors! – who wants to party with me upstairs?” She, clearly, never read “The Rules.” She did, however – for those of you who are wondering – receive some affirmative responses.
     My question is – what has happened to propriety, romance, and protocol? And, more importantly, do we really want to let them go?

L.A. Plume