the discreet charm of old handbooks

I swam with boys in a public swimming pool – can I be pregnent?
I’m desperate and have nobody to talk with: two months ago I started bleeding from my vagina. am I going to die?
these questions are real and come from a handbook adressed to young girls that I once found at home - it’s from the middle 60’s and most probably belonged to my mother or her sister (or both). nothing will tell you more about how times changes than books of that kind – a spring of advices that seem too banal to be real (like how and when to wash your hands) and questions you may now receive only as jokes.

but still, I do adore these books and I appreciate many of „old wisdoms” and the domestic DIY you’ll defenitelly find there. everything on one place: from how to make sure what kind of skin type you are to how to get rid of lime in a kattle, how to plant a flower and cure a baby, how to sew and how to stop smoking. after all, it’s a spring of really useful information – especially when you don’t want to waist money in a drugstore.

some time ago we got a serbian book called „a woman and a house” („žena i dom”) - feels really vintage (though it’s not that old). among other advices it also explains what to do in case of a gunshot wound or a wound from a stab. no, you don’t call emergency. you look for sheep fat, melt it and as long as it’s hot, pour it into the wound. it should cure rapidly! the book says this is the way macedonian and albanian hajduci used to do. any better recommendation that that? :)

oh, and if any fighting feminist reads these words and would like to stand against the role of a woman entrenched in old handbooks I’ll just say that „a woman and a house” was a gift the male part of bombone got from his mother when he moved out from a family house. time changes rapidly. and you don’t need sheep fat, nor an emergency call to make it happen.



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