Following on from Friday’s discussion of learning to tie a cravat, it seemed the sensible thing to do to learn how to remove it. The which I have now done after taking some advice on the matter.
And the method is as follows: Index finger into the front of the Gordian knot and pull, though not so hard to begin strangulation proceedings. The knot should give way. And then once that has happened, index finger into the looped-over bit and pull again.
And there I am, looking devilishly ready for mischief, or bed, with my cravat ends hanging loosely about my neck. Or, as it happens: “His eyes were red-rimmed and about his throat his neckcloth hung limp and dishevelled as it he’d spent the night whoring in some King Street bordello. He hadn’t.” (May 1812, Chapter One)
However, assuming that our hero is in the throes of a love scene (yes, this is the practical reason why I learn all this arcane nonsense), let’s start at the beginning.
Make dashed certain the boots (with or without horse muck on them) have been left at the door or really anywhere but in the bedchamber, if at all possible. There are two reasons for this. One, this may be vital at a time when there are no Dysons. But also, the method of removing one’s boots generally required the backside of another person, and gentlemen didn’t much care for bootjacks as it was said to break down the back of the boot. Equally, the reason a gentleman did not ‘sit down in all his dirt’ was a pungent one.
So shoes are a better bet. Easier to slip off.
So it all starts this way: with the the kissing…this could go on for a long time. A very long time. Because the most important thing is always that she feels and knows that her wishes and desires are paramount to his.
Then, the jacket comes off. It’s easier, I’ll be frank, if the beloved slips her hands upward from his chest toward his shoulders and lifts it away from him. But assuming she’s an innocent and that he doesn’t have his coats cut so as to make getting them off akin to peeling an obstreperous orange, he shrugs the thing off, first one shoulder, then the other, all the while still kissing her. Because kissing is the greatest intimate compliment there is.
Then, the waistcoat. Button by tiny button. All eleven or so of the things. Or more than that if the waistcoat is double breasted. And with each button, a sensation of incremental yet greater sensual liberty is attained.
The waistcoat now on the floor with the coat he slides his index finger into the front of that knot at the base of the throat and pulls. And index finger into the remaining tied-bit and pulls. And freedom. And the end of the cravat is yanked and pulled off and discarded onto the floor.
Then, he takes down his braces if he’s wearing them, first one, then the other.
And finally, he unbuttons his shirt. But being slightly impatient, he pulls it off over his head without unbuttoning it all the way.
But, the removal of the shirt only happens when she wishes it to happen. And all the time, his removal of his clothes is secondary to touching her, kissing her, telling her in every wordless way, that her beauty blocks out the sky and the stars and is all that he sees.
And that’s how it’s done.
“To teach thee, I am naked first…” John Donne