ADDED: Somewhat aimlessly looking for etiquette advice about housesitting, I stumbled on Emily Post's 1922 book "Etiquette," and became engrossed in this chapter about house guests. Here's a bit called "A Room for Every Guest":
It is almost unnecessary to say that in no well-appointed house is a guest, except under three circumstances, put in a room with any one else. The three exceptions are:A suitable accommodation for a man and wife is a double room with bath and a single room next. And you must never assume that a man and his wife want to sleep in the same bedroom. I love this consideration about sleeping arrangements -- which most people today don't even make for themselves, even in their own houses. They just go on thinking that it's required for the husband and wife to sleep in the same room -- in the same bed. How much suffering could be avoided if people got past this narrow conception of married life. (I'm quite serious!)
But she would be a very clumsy hostess, who, for a week-end, filled her house like a sardine box to the discomfort and resentment of every one.
- A man and wife, if the hostess is sure beyond a doubt that they occupy similar quarters when at home.
- Two young girls who are friends and have volunteered, because the house is crowded, to room together in a room with two beds.
- On an occasion such as a wedding, a ball, or an intercollegiate athletic event, young people don’t mind for one night (that is spent for the greater part “up”) how many are doubled; and house room is limited merely to cot space, sofas, and even the billiard table.
In the well-appointed house, every guest room has a bath adjoining for itself alone, or shared with a connecting room and used only by a man and wife, two women or two men. A bathroom should never (if avoidable) be shared by a woman and a man. A suitable accommodation for a man and wife is a double room with bath and a single room next.
I guess this is a good point for me to confess that I've been listening -- on my wide-ranging summer walks around Madison -- to the audiobook of "The Diana Chronicles" by Tina Brown. Why would I "read" such a thing? I was impressed by this WSJ review:
Only Ms. Brown could deploy such words as "hottie" and "propinquity" in the same sentence. In her hands, a trashy (if delicious) tale is rendered vividly mordant. She writes with the feline flair of a woman who has met, but not necessarily liked, most of the characters in her book and who has an uncommonly good way with characterization. Diana, in the early period of her marriage, "was a work in progress, while Charles was a work in aspic." Later, on a hot night in August -- the last night of her life -- Diana sets off in a car in Paris "pursued by the farting motorbikes of the international press." The princess, an aristocrat by birth (her daddy was that "truncheon-faced old buffer," the eighth Earl Spencer), now believed only in "the aristocracy of exposure."It's not easy to write like that.
The book's greatest attraction, however, is its sheer wealth of detail, by turns salacious, vinegary, depressing and hilarious. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth is referred to below-stairs as "Betty Battenberg"? (It is a dig at her Germanic origins.) Or that the bulimic Diana's waist shrank from 29 inches to 23½ between the first and last fittings of her wedding dress? The eating disorder was, it seems, triggered by a stray comment from Charles about how "chubby" Diana felt when he put his hand on her waist.
One learns that in November 1983, two years later, the royal couple had an almighty row over Charles's "refusal to spend money on a tennis court [at his Highgrove estate], thereby depriving Diana of her sole outdoor activity." And their sex together wasn't terribly good either, we read, being merely a "roll on, roll off" affair. His Royal Highness, Ms. Brown writes, "had difficulty locating her erogenous zones." But Diana was nothing if not game: To make herself alluring to Charles after the birth of their second son, Harry, she "tried to dance her way into his heart." We are told that "she would put on sexy lingerie and low music and attempt to tantalize him with a striptease he is said to have only 'mildly enjoyed.'"
BONUS: Movie recommendation: "Housesitter."
Looks cheesy -- and both actors are too old for their roles -- but I really enjoyed this story -- in the "Bringing Up Baby" mode -- of a free-spirited woman annoying a very straitlaced man until he understands what it means to be alive. And the house -- which the man built to for another woman -- seems quite wonderful. Though it's probably crazy to have an uncurtained glass corridor connecting the bedroom to the rest of the house, this movie made me want one. Along with a big bathtub right in the bedroom....