Monday, February 27, 2006

The one you've all been waiting for

The Pundit has a suggestion:

Make the rules a bit less obscure. For instance, when a guy pulls a bone-headed stunt like I did, maybe the girl should say to the guy "My, that was a bone-headed move. Are you a jerk by choice or by accident?" A girl could learn a lot about a guy from how he responds to that.
Pundit, you surprise me. The rules are not at all obscure; they are merely contingent. In any case, if a lady knows a gentleman well enough to speak to him thus freely, he has already passed more tests than he himself knows.

So far, we have been addressing merely the initial screening processes a gentleman undergoes, when vying for a place in a lady's affections. One of the common mistakes made by a man is in assuming that women's standards in general are as rough-edged as his own. He takes a look at a girl, thinks, "yeah, I'd do her" and that is that. A lady's mental processes are far more complex, and in the initial phases of an interaction, there are innumerable gross errors a man can commit which will eradicate him instantly from further consideration.

As they say in the software engineering business, "Assumption is the mother of all f*ckups." I shall now address a few of the major and erroneous assumptions commonly made by non-gentlemen, using as an illustration, Pretty Lady's Worst Date Of All Time.

(Aren't you fortunate. When Pretty Lady tells her male acquaintances the story of this date, initially they all tense up, ready for another interminable and humiliating session of man-bashing. As the story progresses, they visibly relax and become more expansive, with louder and louder shouts of incredulity, until by the end they are openly crowing with glee. "At least there's somebody out there more clueless than me," you can hear them thinking.)

So. On with the show.

Erroneous Assumption # 1: When a lady accepts a date with a man, this means she definitely wants to sleep with him.

The Truth: A lady's acceptance of a date means she intends to devote a couple of hours to getting to know you better. No more, no less.
Pretty Lady initially met the Egregious Fool (hitherto referred to as E.F.) at her job in the graduate research library. She was the checkout girl, he was the third floor stack supervisor. Pretty Lady has always had an artistic eye for mild eccentricity, and when she ran into E.F. at the periodicals desk, the thought crossed her mind, "that guy's kind of dorky. But possibly attractive, in an obscure sort of way." So she smiled.

E.F. was not a slowtop; he was on top of that smile like a duck on a junebug. He pranced, he cavorted, he presented her with a Stephen King novel done up in white paper, he invited her up to the third-floor stacks for a peep at a rare Codex. He asked her to dinner and a party on Friday. With some reservations, but in a spirit of exploration, Pretty Lady accepted.

Erroneous Assumption # 2: Ladies do not talk to their friends about their weekend plans.

The Truth: What else would we talk about?
On Thursday afternoon, Pretty Lady casually mentioned to her co-worker, Badgerina, that E.F. had asked her out. Badgerina dropped this into conversation with her housemate, Leila Darling. Leila Darling happened to be E.F.'s then-girlfriend. Or at least, she had been sleeping with him all summer, which in her mind amounted to the same thing.

Pretty Lady found out later that fifteen minutes before E.F. was due to pick her up, Leila Darling telephoned him and read him the riot act. Which explains a lot.

Erroneous Assumption # 3: The question of who pays for a date has something to do with the relative incomes of the persons involved.

The Truth: You do the inviting, you pick the restaurant, you pay. If you're broke, pick a cheap one. Duh.
By the time Pretty Lady and E.F. reached the Mongolian Barbeque, Pretty Lady was already beginning to regret the interaction. Eccentric is one thing, spastic is quite another. E.F. seized a plate and said, "This is a physical thing," meaning that we had to choose our own food, buffet-style. Pretty Lady's 'arrogant user' radar went into high alert. At the cash register, E.F. turned to her and declared, "Since we both know how much the other makes, do we go dutch, or do you treat me next time?"

Thoroughly unwilling to commit herself to even the ghost of a possibility that she might have to go out with this man again, Pretty Lady coughed up. Her budget was minimal in those days, and the price of the meal cleaned her out.

Erroneous Assumption # 4: If a lady is on a date with you, this definitely means she is out to get you, and is capable of doing anything to force you into a Serious Relationship.

The Truth: See #1.
Over dinner, E.F. opened up the conversation with, "You know, I'm dating Leila Darling. Someone named Badgerina has been gossiping. She told Leila that I was chasing you."

I suppose that Pretty Lady could, at this point, with perfect propriety, have thrown the plate at his head and walked out. The reasons she did not do this were 1) her grocery budget for the weekend was already shot, and she needed to stock up on the calories; 2) she did not want this twerp to get the impression that she cared enough to make a scene; 3) she didn't have a way of getting home.

So she said, "Oh, really? How is dear Leila?"

She doesn't remember much of the conversation after that, except that she was looking forward to being around somebody--anybody--else.

Erroneous Assumption # 5: When a friend of yours throws a 'party' at a commercial establishment, there is likely to be an open bar.

The Truth: Get another set of friends. If they'll have you.
When E.F. and Pretty Lady reached Scholtz's Beer Garden, there were a couple of fellows sitting around drinking Coronas. "Is the beer on you?" inquired E.F. The host shrugged blandly and said, "First round."

Since she had no more cash with which to anaesthetize herself against boredom and discomfort, Pretty Lady nursed her Corona and desperately awaited reinforcements. E.F. fidgeted. Eventually some housemates of an acquaintance of Pretty Lady's arrived; she greeted them like long-lost cousins. E.F. said, "I'm going to call Leila."

"See you," said Pretty Lady.

At this point in the story, the male acquaintances are generally aghast. "You mean he LEFT you there?" they say. The truth is that Pretty Lady infinitely preferred the humiliating task of cadging a ride cross-town from a minimal acquaintance, to getting back in a car with that idiot. Even his driving was spastic.

Erroneous Assumption #6: If a date goes badly, one has the right to ask for the return of all purported 'gifts' bestowed before the disaster.

The Truth: As if any doubt remained.
Yes, he did. Actually had the gall to send a note, asking for the return of that wretched Stephen King novel he 'loaned' me. Some co-workers and I went through it with a red pen and a highlighter, marking seemingly random but creatively insulting phrases. Then we sent it to him through inter-office mail.

Erroneous Assumption #7: A lady is 'playing games' when she makes a simple, direct request.

The Truth: Very often, we mean exactly what we say, only more so. "Please brush your teeth," then, translates as "I am totally grossed out; you have not brushed your teeth for a week, your teeth are covered with the same pinkish slime that accumulates on the toilet bowl, and if you try to kiss me again I may very well chop you in the throat."

Or: "I don't accept phone calls after 10 PM," means "I don't accept phone calls after 1o PM unless a relative has died or a close friend is in crisis." Thus it is terribly unwise to call a lady for the first time at 11:15 PM, and say to her answering machine, "I hope it's not too late to call. I just got in."

In the case of E.F., the statement "Please leave me alone," meant "Please leave me alone, you psychotic nincompoop."

In summary:
The worst, bar none, worst thing you can possibly do in any situation is to project your own crass, irresponsible and squirrelly behavior onto another person. It is both unspeakably rude and monumentally stupid to ask a lady out and then get defensive, while she is doing nothing but sitting there, regretting that she ever met you. This is the sort of mistake that not only shoots you in the foot with the lady in front of you, but with everyone who knows anyone who knows her.

The male of the species continually seems to fall prey to the delusion that other people ought to have an interest in preserving the state of his ego. Why should this be so? Particularly when the gratification of his ego depends principally on abusing the bodies, minds and emotions of others?

As a postscript: in Latin countries, where Pretty Lady has spent a considerable amount of time, it is considered a badge of upper-class manhood to be a flagrant womanizer. However, even there it is seen as a terrible breach of decorum to hit on the friends of one's girlfriend. It is only in the so-called 'liberal' echelons of American society where such idiocy is seriously defended. Pretty Lady puts this down to the utter inability of the untrained male to envision the collateral consequences of his actions; but this is a discussion for another day.


Anonymous said...

"I hope it's not too late to call. I just got in."

Hmmmm. I always get to see a part of myself in your little adventures. I just did that recently. I may have to quit reading or do better.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Nelson Said...
So what does a good date look like again?

Pretty Lady said...

Boys, you are ALL perfect just exactly the way you are--and you can ALL do better. This is one of life's little paradoxes. I promise I will dredge up The Perfect Date, if I can remember back that far.

The Aardvark said...

"E.F. was not a slowtop; he was on top of that smile like a duck on a junebug"

"duck on a junebug" is the last assemblage of syllables I ever expected from you.

Why, I'm in crush all over again!

This is toweringly entertaining. Thanks.

Pretty Lady said...

"duck on a junebug" is the last assemblage of syllables I ever expected from you.

Ah, my Aarvark, the depth of a Pretty Lady is very close to infinite.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pretty Lady,

I take exception to mens only rough decision being:

"He takes a look at a girl, thinks, "yeah, I'd do her" and that is that. "

Perhaps some men. In any event, some of us exercise somewhat greater discrimnation.

Friendly regards, A Gentleman.

Pretty Lady said...

Yes, dear Anonymous Gentleman, you are correct, and I love you for it. Pretty Lady has perhaps had a tendency, in this lifetime, to encounter a larger number than average of Worst Case Scenarios.

Nate said...

I'm so glad I never did the "dating" thing.

The Rules women go by, pretend to go by, and wish they could go by piss me off quite a bit.

In fact... I always found it a good rule of thumb to ignore every so-called rule a particular female had.

Anonymous said...

This is the way mating works:

Man is easier than woman.
Hence, woman is more selective.
Hence, man is more annoying.

The end.


ZTora said...

Pretty lady said:
- He takes a look at a girl, thinks, "yeah, I'd do her" and that is that. -

Now this is partially correct. For the most part guys will "do" any women. It just a matter of how much effort they would put into it AND if they are of the disposition to only go for sex.

Take myself. Many women fit in the "do her" category but I'm not of the disposition for random sexcapades thus my use of the "yeah, I'd do her" is only meant in the "I find her sexually attractive" category. This should not be confused with attractive. Some women are attractive, and some are sexually attractive.

Now look at my friend. For this discussion we shall call him Richard. Richard just likes sex and doesn't really care where it's from. His use of the term "I'd do her" is really a misnomer as he would do any women. For him it becomes a matter how much effort it would take to get in her pants. Richard is an attractive guy and very charming and thus seems to get the ladies with some regularity. That said he is not stupid and targets women who for the most part are stupid or share his enjoyment of wonton meaningless sex.

As shallow and straight forward as we men are there is still some variance in our usage of similar phrases. I'd definitely encourage you ladies to be selective. As much as I love my fellow men, there do seem to be few true men out there. Many are just boys. Then again many of the women out there are just girls. Oh how I dream of the day when ladies will rise up and take back their mantel of womanhood. Same goes for us men. Problem is there are laws and I can just shoot the bastages.

- ZT

Nate said...

Women are only more selective in some areas.

Men are far more selective when it comes to marriage for example.

Anonymous said...

Pretty Lady has perhaps had a tendency, in this lifetime, to encounter a larger number than average of Worst Case Scenarios.

Without revisiting your stereotypical comments about men, let me suggest that you may be the one to blame for the problem above. If you do not like the results of your search, maybe you should be changing the criteria and/or the parameters of your search.

"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you will get the results you have always gotten."

Pretty Lady said...

Dear farmer Tom, you are absolutely correct, and I can assure you I have seen the error of my ways. I have turned over an entirely new leaf, as evidenced by the fact that I am turning traitor on my past and Confessing All. My social life is minimal; I sit at home, staring at candles and thinking of the Holy Spirit. I have given up the idea of finding the passionate lover of my early dreams; now I only dream of creating the perfect abstract form. Bless you.

Anonymous said...

I've long ago seen why the countries with arranged marriages don't have a demographic (negative population growth) problem. Parents are smart, and it seems even a random choice is better than what people think they want.

And I'm getting a much clearer understanding of dowry. Do you take this woman (plus a preemptive sum for pain and suffering) to be your lawfully wedded wife...

Why do I think the vocation problem for celibate religious orders is soon to disappear...