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victorian women, spinsters, historic humor
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Two women from the Victorian era.

“Spinster” was one of the worst insults a person could hurl at a woman in the Victorian era. Typically, a spinster was a single woman who was childless, unmarried and had few prospects.

Spinsters were the subject of cruel jokes and thought of as sad, lonely women, left on the shelf.

The term spinster dates back to the 1300s and refers to women who spun yarn for a living. This was often the profession of single women because they didn’t have the resources to purchase expensive materials, so they were relegated to spinning wool.

In 1889, the editor of Tit-Bits, a British weekly magazine, asked single women to write in and explain why they aren’t married. The woman with the best response would be featured in the paper and win a prize.

The article was discovered by historian Dr. Bob Nicholson.



The request was a response to an earlier piece the magazine had run asking male readers, “Why are you a bachelor?”

The editor received a ton of letters and they weren’t the cordial responses we’ve come to expect from women of the era. Nope. They were smart, funny and sharp retorts that showed there were a lot of women out there who were single for a reason.

The editor originally only planned to post one response, but instead, he ran 21 responses and gave each one an equal piece of the prize. Each woman earned 5 shillings, which is about $25 today.

Here are 11 of the best responses. The first one is a reference to the tide of American women who flocked to England to marry into the aristocracy in the era.

1. It's the damn Yankees

“Because I am an English lady, and the Americans monopolize the market," — Miss Jessie Davies

2. She's a wild horse

“Like the wild mustang of the prairie that roams unfettered, tossing his head in utter disdain at the approach of the lasso which, if once round his neck, proclaims him captive, so I find it more delightful to tread on the verge of freedom and captivity, than to allow the snarer to cast around me the matrimonial lasso," — Miss Sarah Kennerly

3. She's a self-made woman

“Because I have other professions open to me in which the hours are shorter, the work more agreeable, and the pay possibly higher,” — Miss Florence Watts

4. She's rare china

“Because (like a piece of rare china) I am breakable, and mendable, but difficult to match,” — Miss S.A. Roberts,

5. Only Shakespeare could describe her


“My reason for being a spinster is answered in a quotation from the ‘Taming of the Shrew’: ‘Of all the men alive I never yet beheld that special face which I could fancy more than any other,” — Miss Lizzie Moore

6. Ready for action

“Because I am like the Rifle Volunteers: always ready, but not yet wanted,” — Miss Annie Thompson

7. No need for a beast 

“…I do not care to enlarge my menagerie of pets, and I find the animal man less docile than a dog, less affectionate than a cat, and less amusing than a monkey,” — Miss Sparrow

8. We'll marry when John can afford it


“John, whom I loved, was supplanted in his office by a girl, who is doing the same amount of work he did for half the salary he received. He could not earn sufficient to keep a home, so went abroad; consequently, I am still a spinster,” — Miss E. Jones

9. Men are deceitful

“Because men, like three cornered tarts, are deceitful. They are pleasing to the eye, but on closer acquaintanceship prove hollow and stale, consisting chiefly of puff, with a minimum of sweetness, and an unconquerable propensity to disagree with one,” — Miss Emaline Lawrence

10. There's no way off the marriage toboggan


“Because matrimony is like an electric battery, when you once join hands and can’t let go, however much it hurts; and, as when embarked on a toboggan slide, you must go to the bitter end, however much it bumps,”
— Miss Laura Bax

11. Waitin' fer a dook

“Dear Mister Tit-Bits,-beein a cook with forteen pund 5/10 1/2 savins in the bank i natterally looks down on perlseesmen soljers an setterar, so i ham waiting fur a erle or a dook or sumthin of that sort to perpose fer my and and art, and that’s why i ham a spinster,” — Miss Annie Newton

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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