Instead of the cocksure posturing of the alpha-male, I prefer the comic blunderings of the unsure average joe who finally realizes that finding love in this mad-cap world is all about being oneself, with an equal measure of adhering to the rule of scarcity or playing it cool. So, here lies a thinly veiled offering of what I’ve gleaned during the bachelor years from and around undergrad (go Cal State!) and after divorce (go fat bald guy!). Not so much a roman à clef as it is a few tips and mistakes to avoid when attempting to date, entertain, or simply enjoy the company of the opposite sex – mistakes which may befall you as well, dear reader of the same sex. If they do befall, remember that misery loves company and like sales, it all boils down to a numbers game: don’t worry, there are always other fish in the sea, and sometimes they even jump in the boat. So, here goes, some random samplings.
Rule 1: Never go out with any girl friend (especially one that you’d like to see again as a girlfriend) in a dirty car. Your buddies are wholly different creatures. They’ll get into your mud-caked ride even if you’re hauling wet manure in the backseat and they have to shove knives, a broken bottle and leaking quarts of oil over on the passenger’s seat to sit down. But, for the fairer sex, a cluttered car reveals a cluttered mind (same goes for your crib). You are already starting out "in the hole," most likely, handicapped by your gender’s reputation. Don’t let your car’s appearance confirm her suspicions.
After undergrad, my first job was at a bank and I used to meet-up with a girlfriend that I knew from high school, Arlyn, who worked at a competing bank. Our get-togethers were fairly regular, and it was always a joy hanging out with a beautiful, funny and terrifically smart young woman. But, because my job and 60 mile commute kept me on the road, I was always eating fast food, tossing bags in the backseat of my Mazda 626. Well, one night I mistakenly left a couple of windows cracked parked next to a dumpster and some flies found their way in to snack on the 3 or 4 bags of the Colonel or the Bell in the backseat. After one of our lunches, Arlyn asked me if she could see some of my bank’s collateral. It had been very cool in the morning, but by lunch, it was warm and those little buggers (that I was totally unaware of at this point) were hot to get out of the now steaming hot car. As soon as I popped the hatchback, pulling the collateral out of my briefcase for her, these flies (some frighteningly large; I mean bumble bee large) were bumping into us with their big eyes and loud wings. At first, I didn’t realize what was going on, but when I stood up with the papers for her to peruse, I saw that she was now 10 feet away swinging her arms around like a boxer swinging at a much faster opponent, hitting nothing but air. After several involuntary reflexive gags and a dozen or so shakes of her head trying to get them out of hair, she told me she was late for an appointment and hopped in her BMW, not offering her usual hug or planning our next date. Never heard from her again.
Rule 2: Have money in your bank account. If you don’t have it, don’t ask someone out, especially if you’re the type who thinks you just might have enough to pay for dinner. Your date will always order something else that you might not have budgeted for, like food and a drink. Don’t chance it. The credit card decline has happened to the best of people, and sometime it might happen to you. Don’t panic or freak. Just ask your date to meet you at the Starbucks for the after-dinner coffee (it will be her turn to treat), and then ask/beg the manager if you can bring the cash the next day. And, then don’t forget to get your license the next day when you do bring the cash.
Rule 3: Do NOT be friends with married women, that is to say, married women are not for paling around with. Period. No exceptions! I was very friendly (totally platonic) with a married colleague of mine (and her husband and kids) for several years whilst living in Newport Beach. I was newly married, and enjoying the first New Year’s Eve with my new bride. Champagne was chilling. Around 9:30pm, “Dave,” the husband of my colleague, Kami, is knocking on my front door, peering into my living room intently, like a kid at See's Candy with nose firmly pressed against the glass. Seems like another colleague of ours, “Bob” was more than friendly with Kami, and Dave was looking to make his acquaintance in the worst way possible. Needless to say, New Year’s was very memorable, not to mention ruined, with yours truly taking the 9mm handgun from hubby Dave's possession, and then riding in his car to broker a peace accord in some OC airport hotel (where I heard the phrase“I won’t kill you, Bob, if you stop seeing my wife” more than twice). Did I mention no exceptions to this rule?!
Rule 4: Don’t fight the breakups (see No.3 above). They will come. They stink, hurt and can really mess you up. Be grown-up about them, especially if someone cheats on you. Just because the love of your life, or this semester, happens to step out on you or just all over your broken heart, doesn’t give you leave to take leave of your senses, moral compass, or emotional center. Hold on dear friend. Time does heal. Promise. Besides, Valentine's Day is a commercial hack invention, and you have lots of other days to be with someone who truly loves you. Like your mom.
Rule 5: Don’t call too often when wooing or pursuing your most recent crush. This is a turn-off to be sure. Playing it cool is key – always have something to do, whether it’s studying at the library, reading a great book, or going to a jazz club (even by yourself). Keeping a taut social schedule is attractive to women. Especially if they see that some of your friends are women also (not too many, mind you. big turn-off and kinda creepy). But, remember, you can’t call too much when she's returning the vibe you've been vibing her way, and the two of you are beginning to get serious. Communication is key. So's playing the vibraphone.
Rule 6: Go to places where you both are comfortable. Whether that's church, or the museum, or Muscle Beach. Be yourself, and don't force any affectation by trying to be what you think she wants you to be. Believe me, she wants you to be yourself. So, now you can stop doing the George Clooney head cocked to the side thing, and dying your hair gray. That comes soon enough.
Rule 7: Now that you're a smashing success at introducing yourself to women you find attractive and getting on their calendar, do not roll up to a party with more than one hottie on your arm ... unless you enjoy being perceived as the total arse. I have seen this in my life a few times. Joker shows up with two women and several bottles of wine (“one for each beautiful baby and me!”). Unless you know the host or hostess very well, don’t be “that guy.” Very tough to pull off, as only the most preternaturally gifted (read vapid) bachelor can attest.