Time Travel Tuesdays - "Out to Show Me Up" from Real Love #35 (January 1951)
Hello, romance comic loving friends! I hope the day is off to a good start for you! To make it even better, I have a classic romance tale for today's Time Travel Tuesday! "Out to Show Me Up" is from Ace's Real Love #35 (January 1951) and it's a good one! You probably will recognize the splash page image from the above header! Anyhow, on to the story!
As a new bride, Sharon has big shoes to fill -- those of her new mother-in-law. Formerly a secretary in a law office, Sharon is determined to measure up to the home life husband Wally has been accustomed to his whole life.
As soon as they arrive at their new home in New York, Sharon gets to work on making their new apartment homey and organized. Wally is extremely pleased...
...so pleased in fact, that he goes so far as to brag about Sharon's homemaking skills to their new neighbors, Jane and Harry Jenson. Sharon is thrilled that Wally and Harry find her comparable to their mothers. Meanwhile, super fashionable Jane expresses her distaste for the domestic arts, which makes Sharon cringe.
"I felt very superior as Jane displayed her irresponsibility as a housewife..."
Soon, the evening homemaking classes that Sharon attends take over all of her spare time, which frustrates Wally who wants to have fun as young newlyweds.
The tension between Sharon and Wally builds. Finally one evening, Wally tries to get Sharon to stay home from class to watch a wrestling match on their new television set. Sharon dismisses Wally's request and goes to her home decoration class anyhow. When she gets home, Sharon is angered to see the Jensons on her couch -- more specifically, angered to see Wally enjoying Jane's company.
After Jane and Harry leave, Sharon and Wally get into a full blown fight that lasts into the evening. Sharon accuses Wally of having a thing for Jane, and Wally accuses Sharon of no longer being any fun (or "gay" as they used to say back then).
Things only get worse when Jane knocks on the door that evening claiming to be looking for Harry. Sharon assumes she has just caught her husband and Jane in the middle of a tryst. Wally tries to explain that Jane was innocently looking for Harry, but Sharon cannot be swayed. The next day, in an attempt to seek revenge, Sharon goes to the beauty parlor to get done up à la Jane and be purposefully late in getting dinner on the table. When Sharon arrives home to show off her new look and send the message to Wally that she can't do it all, she finds Wally and Jane in a compromising position on the couch.
Jane starts sobbing and runs out the door. Wally yells at Sharon for being cruel and Sharon yells at him for going along with Jane's seductive ways. Wally then retorts that it is not Jane who is the problem, it is Sharon! With her perfect homemaking, Sharon is in effect, the true home-wrecker. Wally was only comforting Jane after she got into a fight with her husband over her lack of skills as a housewife. Upset and confused, Sharon learns that Wally wants her to be more wife and less housekeeper. Fortunately, the neighbors patch things up and Jane and Sharon agree to both try to find balance by drawing from each other's positive attributes.
Personally, I really like this story -- not because I delight in seeing either woman suffer, but for all the historical insights that it exudes. "Out to Show Me Up" embodies the expectations and pressures inherent in trying to "do it all" for the mid-century woman culturally trained to be both content motherly housekeeper and doting sex-kitten. I hope this story got you thinking just as much as it did me!!!