Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Women Doth! The Westminster Follies

The Westminster Dog Show wraps up today, amid a flurry of pomaded fur and questionable news coverage. Westminster, the oldest continuously held sporting event in America with a 133-year history, is a splendid prism through which to refract widely-held ideas about sex, money, oppression and public micturition. To wit:

Women of Westminster, your shoes are duly noted.

The economy sucketh: Part 298,398,202.

I am not sure exactly who is supposed to be urinating where in this LA Times account:

"...right now the floor covered [sic] in wood shavings, red fire hydrants on the left for the boys, a pink settee and glitter saw dust on the right for the girls and 1,000 dogs seemingly always on the go here.

There are exceptions, of course, and available just off the lobby, pink panties are being sold with Poise inserts. "Pink is a little sexier," says sales lady Neena Pellegrini..."

The always-appropriate PETA showed up in full KKK regalia. Because you know what fancy dog shows are exactly like? This. Mmmmm-hmmmm.

(Aside: How can you tell a KKK protester from a PETA protester cheekily pretending to be one? That is a real question. I have no idea.)

Of course, all this Westminster blithering is just an excuse to drag out the amazing 1907 story (PDF alert!) Adam Gaffin found in the NYT vault a few weeks ago. It has everything, including a headline of the They Just Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To variety:

"WOMEN WITH BIG DOGS IN WEST MINSTER'S SHOW; Fair Owners Comprise Nearly a Fourth of the Exhibitors. -- GIANT CANINES THEIR FANCY -- Miss Whitney Will Have Excellent Display of Great Danes -- Show's Big Increase in Entries."

Though the story exhibits some of the perkiness characteristic to the genre--even at a 100-year remove--a mysterious pall hangs over its protagonists, human and canine:

"...It will occasion no surprise if the catalogue of the coming show discloses the fact that of the probable 850 exhibitors close upon 200 are women. Many might suppose that they confine their fancies to the house pets or toy dogs, but that is far from being the case. The giants of the show ring are among their fancies, indeed, it may almost be said that in the slump of the St. Bernards they were saved from the fate of the mastiffs mainly by Miss Marks and Mrs. Lee. The former would undoubtedly have been an exhibitor at the coming show had she lived to enter the well-known Willowmere dogs."


And now, a supplication. Please, please, please send me your ancient Women Do stories. Send them on PDFs. Send them on crumbling microfiche. Send them on yellowed parchment and calfskin vellum tanned with its own brains. I want to know what the ladies were up to in what passed for newspapers in ancient Sumeria. I want incredulous accounts of motor-car-driving amongst the Fairer Sex from the era of Henry Ford. Oh yes. All your Women Doth are belong to me.

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