Bless You

Etiquette determines that in polite company one avoid talk of religion, sex and politics.

How one is supposed to have an enlightened and lively conversation without one or more of these topics escapes me. Art, I guess would be one alternative. Sports if you’re so inclined. Books if anyone read them.

Forget the etiquette and dig in, I say, because the verboten triumverate always get someone’s blood up, which leads to disagreement, which begets a real conversation where people actually defend what they believe. Which is why you should introduce these topics early into your dating.

I had a conversation with a woman friend this weekend, the main point of which was why a four-date dater had dumped her. She claimed it was over his embarrassment at farting in front of her, but that didn’t ring true to me. Delving a little deeper, the focus sharpened; they were politically polar opposites. My friend is a socialist, her date a capitalist. Sorry, but that just won’t work.

My analogy was this: if you’re looking towards building some kind of house together, you need to share construction of the foundation. Two different foundations that aren’t linked create two houses. Yes, they might be proximate, but that’s friendship or companionship, not a marriage or proxy thereof. Sharing solid – if abstract – understanding of how the universe works, what’s right and wrong, and through what prism to view life is critical to creating a stable union.

Exceptions exist, of course. My friend invoked James Carville and Mary Matalin, but I pointed out that

1. this is a very high profile example of precisely one (1) couple, and

2. they are joined more by being part of the media religion than their differences separate them.

In general, I suggest that the easiest path to a happy future is to find someone who shares your meta beliefs – or be prepared to live in a hurricane at least part of the time.

Cut The Grass

Rarely do I gain an insight into the way women work, so this I must share.

On a night out in Vancouver, the group of airline pilots I was with were proving yet again what a set of donkeys they are. Naturally my thoughts turned to finding something smelling a whole lot better, with smarts and softer skin. The two women I started talking to were pretty cute, around the right age and seemed pleased to talk. After a couple of drinks I decided that the younger one with the short hair flipped my lust-switch. Not that the choice was difficult; the friend was Frog-Canuck, and not only unintelligable, but she had a rotten set of Continental teeth as well. Uck, imagine that in the morning.

The next day I got to wondering about how long it takes women to decide if they’d have sex with a particular guy. From first laying eyes on a man, at what point will a woman make up her mind he is worthy of bonking? Fitz (my full-witted airline buddy) and I pondered this on a drive to Whistler. Despite being a master cocksman, even he didn’t know the answer. At a loss, I referred the question to Midwest upon return to Seattle. Without any hesitation, she came out with “Oh, we decide within five seconds.”

Are you kidding? This is a fact that, to men, is a world first. Brought up to believe that women make decisions slowly, with reference to friends, and over a period of agonization, this is a shock. Now I’m discovering that girls have decided whether you are sponge-worthy before you’ve come within earshot. All that bollox about having to woo a girl with wit and charm; all that received wisdom about getting as much neck-oil down her is suddenly utterly irrelevant.

Or is it? The trouble is, men, that it’s not that simple. Apparently the snap decision is either “possibly would” or “definitely wouldn’t” so it’s not like she’s going to jump your bones right there in the bar. You still have to prove yourself. So let’s salvage some of our wit and wisdom, and yes, another round of L’Egopeners for the ladies, thanks.

As with all revelations, this one holds great promise, but also the seed of one’s downfall. If you can find a way to figure out which way the decision has been made when you first meet a woman, you can save yourself loads of time, treasure and talk. But that requires divining what any individual woman is thinking, and as we know, men are ill equipped to do this. The sad truth is that the point at which you have the most likelihood of having sex is before you’ve said a word. Midwest swears that most men talk themselves out of more shags than they’ll ever know. See Rule Five: Shut up. Remember that despite all your lusting after a chick, before you’ve even asked if you can sit down, she knows the final score, the errors made, and who won Most Valuable Player.

Oh, and no, I didn’t get the Canadian. Some bum airline pilot came along and cut my grass. Prick.

Bar Life

If bar life was a television show, it would be “Wild Kingdom”. You know the drill: hunting, feeding, finding a prospective mate. No wonder we call going for a drink “meeting at the water-hole”. And just as there are an infinite number of TV shows showing bambi being breakfast for a bloody great house-cat, so bars will always be the Serengeti of the dating world.
Men love bar life because we have very short memories. Tonight (we reason) will be the night. Across the still water, in day’s last light, there sits our dream girl. She’s taking Cosmopolitans, gently sipping from the glass, aware only of the other females in her pride. Look at the way her ears twitch, alert for any sign of threatening activity. Hmmm, perhaps I’m taking this animal thing too far.

If the man has sufficient gumption, he will approach dream-girl, try to charm her with wit and erudition and risk the one thing we hate the most: rejection. This is where the memory-lapse is important. In order to walk up and talk to the cutey with the cleavage and curves, we must forget all previous rebuffs. And before commencing the hunt, we indulge in a little positive self-talk: we consider ourselves Brad just separated from Jen; we make like the Benz coupe in the car-park is ours; our (mid) five-figure salary becomes (high)-six (if you include the bonus).

Fearless with falsehoods, you approach and start talking. She’s just as cute as you imagined. They’re real, and she’s laughing at your story. But tonight’s not the night, because somewhere, at another watering-hole, is the mate she’s beeing trying to marry for two years. He doesn’t want to commit. Fool.

And so you retreat back to the hide, heartbroken, but spying a little something tasty to your right………hot damn, she’s a fox! Where’s she been all my life?
Proving yet again that the only difference between us and the animals is that they take their drinks neat; we mix with cranberry.


Rule Five: Shut Up

You’ve arrived on time, and so has she. Sweeter than you had imagined – or remembered – she’s smiling and actually seems to be into you. It is at precisely this point you should look down, and realize that the palm fronds beneath your feet hide a man-trap. A deep, well crafted man-trap with many sharp, poisoned wooden spikes waiting at the bottom. Just for you. How do we men avoid falling into this dating horror?

First we need to momentarily change the way we think, and actually put yourself in your date’s shoes. (My mind naturally imagines she’s wearing high-heeled Manolos, but not here in Seattle, sadly, where even hetero chicks wear comfortable shoes. One wonders whether Washington State Victoria’s Secret stores stock anti-sexual politically-correct liberal undies as well.) By which I mean, what is it that a woman is looking for, social intercourse-wise, in a date? Men, she’s not looking for answers. She doesn’t want your resume, and she really doesn’t care about your golf handicap.

To explain this, we need to examine the different way in which men and women view the world. In short, women look for support, men look for the perfect home theater. Women like to talk, men look for a lower gas price. Women make their decisions in public, men make them surfing internet porn.

Let’s face it, for the first few dates, we want to make a good impression, and have the babe think the best of us. Make it easy for them, by asking questions and actually listening to the answers. Open-enders are best, and at least make an attempt at tailoring them to the individual. Asking whether she plans to watch the Bush Inaugural is truly a stupid start here in Dem-land, but something about raising money for Tsunami-ed unfortunates will be closer to the mark.

Which leads us to that awful time when you find that despite her cute visage and clinging blouse, all her gas-bagging is boring your tits off. Refer here to Rule Two: Concentrate. Under even the most adverse verbal overspill, keep eye contact, maintain the sympathetic sighs and tsks, and just tough it out. And if you are asked a direct question, be direct back, answer it, attempt humor if possible and gently lead your way back to her. It’s all about her.

If you find that over the course of the next few weeks that she gave you the heave-ho, recall whether you talked more than thirty percent of the time. If so, you fell headlong into that dating man-trap. I’d check for puncture wounds, splinters and get some blood work done. Don’t worry, the poison isn’t fatal.


Rule Three: Manners Count.

This happens to be a pet peeve of mine as well as the Midwest, because women (is this just a Seattle thing?) demonstrate loads of neanderthal behavior too.
First there is the whole compliment complex. I was under the impression that when meeting a date, it’s always a good start to say something extravagant about their clothes, the shoes or even the color of their hair. This is very dangerous territory, as the more specific you are, the more likely the woman is to question you as to the finer points of your observation. Be as general as possible, but do say something nice just the same.
Next, none of the following are acceptable: sitting before the date; ordering before the date; commencing eating before the date; finishing before the date; breathing before the date. Well, you get the drift.
Now, some vital eating etiquette rules:

1. Never, ever lick your fingers.
2. Never, ever chew with an open mouth.
3. Never, ever eat from the knife.

This is pretty basic stuff. From my observation however, taking those college dorm habits that were amusing when you were all nineteen, and strangling them, will gain you mucho kudos with any desirable babe. Here’s an idea men! Practise these skills all the time. Maybe then you’ll get a job that requires a tie. Continuing:

4. Don’t point.
5. Don’t pick your teeth. Oh boy, have I got stories about this.
6. Belching is a sign of delight in Arab countries only. Which explains why Islamo-Hugging Seattle is seeing an renaissance of outgassing at the meal table I guess. How inclusive. Yuck.
7. Don’t smack your chops. Strictly for bovines.
8. Don’t get caught with detritus between the teeth. If you are likely to make cake-hole to cake-hole contact later in the night, do yourself a favor and find a mirror. That would be the shiny thing near the basin in the men’s room wherein scruffy doofus stares back.
9. Washing your hands requires soap, water and time. Try it.
10. Buy some mints.

Too much to remember? Well, I’m just trying to help. Keep up your current indecent personal habits, buck-oh, and watch the quality of your girls keep pace.