The title is the perfect opening line for a country and western song, or a True Confessions story. But instead, we find ourselves (once again) in a Listerine ad.
She was a glamor girl during the season of 1938. As long as people stayed far back, that is. But as soon as the menfolk got within hailing distance – oh, you know the story! This is a Listerine ad, so you can see what’s coming down the Highway of Love, can’t you? It’s not a Streetcar Named Desire.
One night, our heroine “returns from the powder room and was seated behind some portières”* – that’s straight out of a sudsy 1930s romance novel. Even though all she means is that she’s hiding behind some old drapes. What she hears is not straight out of a sudsy 1930s romance, though. Her date, Mr. Simpson, is not fetching punch and cookies, he is complaining about his date:
I don’t think I can last out the evening. She has a case of halitosis that a greyhound couldn’t jump over. You’d think she’d never heard of Listerine.
Oh, that’s nice. And here she was too polite to mention all the brilliantine he’d put on his hair. She was going to say that a greyhound might jump over that, only to skid all the way across the dance floor. But it is always after the party that we think of what to say.
Of course she goes home, is distressed, consults a doctor and then starts in with the gargling. Many purification rites ensue. And in the end, Listerine leads to matrimony (as usual) – only not with that simpleton Simpson. With “a man just as eligible.”
Just as? Oh come on, let’s make it someone much more eligible, and wealthier, and with way better hair products. And then you can drive off together down that highway in a brand-new 1938 Chrysler Imperial. That’s the way to end an ad like this!
This fab 1938 ad is from Duke University’s Medicine and Madison Avenue (you can see the larger version there, of course).
* Just like Scarlett O’Hara making the green velvet dress out of her mother’s “poteers.”