[Editor’s Note: Through an amazing combination of sheer luck and more sheer luck, I have actually had a girlfriend — the same girlfriend, no less — for four whole years now. However, since successful relationships are rarely the stuff of successful comedy — and, more importantly, since I’m incredibly lazy — I have elected to commemorate this Valentine’s Day by shamelessly posting a copy of an essay I wrote during my sophomore year of college on the subject of romance and how not to fail at it like I had. For more hilarious V-Day nonsense, check out the 1st Annual Humor Bloggers Valentine’s Day Carnival.]
I returned home this past fall break for a little undeserved R&R. When I arrived, my mom—apropos of nothing in particular—asked me three questions: 1) “So, did you go on any dates this week?” 2) “Go to any parties?” 3) “Did you at least have dinner with some friends?” My responses were, respectively, “No,” “No,” and “Uhh, probably”—clearly not the answers she was hoping for, but clearly the answers she was expecting, as indicated by her thoroughly resigned tone of voice. What can I say? I should just have the word “hermit” tattooed on my forehead and be done with it. Nonetheless, hope springs eternal…not for my mother, of course, but for those countless other matriarchs who continue to fret over their sons’ maladjusted antisocial tendencies (which may or may not be a result of their berserk pituitary glands). In order to prevent more mothers from falling into such a vicarious funk, I have taken it upon myself to facilitate for literal man-kind an affirmative response to my mom’s initial and most pressing question.
As they are to most men (and by “most” I mean “all”), women are a mystery to me. Other than Sex in the City and Brad Pitt, I’ve failed miserably these last two decades at various ill-advised attempts to uncover some universal feminine commonality that could be used to my advantage in the wooing of these delicate flowers. However, despite not having had an overabundance of success with the fairer sex (and by “an overabundance” I mean “any”), I believe I have gleaned a dollop of useful information regarding certain etiquettes which, when utilized in the general vicinity of womankind, will ensure—if not their everlasting love and devotion—at least your immediate survival. (And let’s face it men: when dealing with these Sybils of Sensuality, survival is really the number one concern.) So here it is boys, my worldly guide for the girl-free guy. The holy grail of the lowly male. The last master plan for the ass-backwards man. Etc. What follows, fellows, is a clearly delineated collection of my keenest insights and my most sublime revelations in the fields of femistry and womaneering. I can only hope they serve you as well as they haven’t served me.
- Be ripped. Girls like guys who are ripped.
- Never, under any circumstances, under ANY circumstances, refer to a woman’s weight in a critical manner, even if you are using your most lighthearted Simba-from-The-Lion-King voice, and even if she is your best friend, and even if she herself is always making self-deprecating remarks about her figure. Someone once gave me the silent treatment for an entire year after I made a playful remark about her midsection.
- On a related note: never ask a girl if she has lost weight. This inquiry is painfully unoriginal and suggests that the female in question had weight to lose. Rather, occasionally and sincerely tell the object of your desire that she looks fantastic and, if feeling frisky, ask if she’s been working out. This is a much more effective approach as it involves a direct compliment rather than a backhanded one.
- Eat sushi. Apparently that’s sophisticated.
- Actually act moderately interested in the girls in which you are moderately interested. That playing hard to get crap only works on 90210. (But oh how it worked!) On the flip side, don’t be a stalker. Women hate stalkers. Plus, restraining orders are wicked annoying…or, uhhh, so I’ve heard from someone who definitely wasn’t me.
- Have mad skills, à la Napoleon Dynamite. Numchuck skills are good. Cunnilingus skills are better.
- When attending miscellaneous social gatherings at which alcohol has been thoughtfully provided, try exaggerating your state of inebriation for information gathering purposes. To elaborate: by acting as if you have attained a somewhat advanced level of intoxication (while being sure not to cross that fine line into the realm of obnoxious drunkenness), you may then proceed to hit on your female peers with near impunity (again being careful to remain playful and unthreatening, as opposed to lewd and bothersome). Judge their reactions to your overly effusive compliments and note those few who don’t entirely recoil in disgust. The next day you can go around and apologize to the vast majority of the women who totally rejected you, attributing your loutish behavior to the booze. However, when apologizing to the piddling few who responded even the least bit favorably toward your advances, preface the act of contrition by adopting a mildly sheepish look and explaining in a thoroughly conciliatory tone that, although you may have meant everything you said, you certainly didn’t intend to make said strumpet feel uncomfortable in any way and hope that this one act of imprudence on your part won’t lead her to form too harsh an opinion about your character. (For those of you with any remaining reserves of testicular fortitude, now might be a good time to casually offer to make things up to her by treating her to a cup of tea and a scone, or some other hackneyed hogwash.)
- Talk about how sad you were when your dog died. Even if your dog is still alive. And even if you’ve never owned a dog. This is the only surefire technique for proving to a girl that you are a sensitive individual. It doesn’t matter if that assumption of sensitivity is based on a lie, because lying in a relationship is inevitable, and thus irrelevant. As my father’s son always says: relationships built on trust are relationships bound to rust are relationships ending in dust.
And now a piece of bonus advice for someone with an already established sweetie: Every so often, remember to pick up an inexpensive (which isn’t to say cheap) token of your affection for her—cards, kitschy gift shop souvenirs, and small fuzzy animals work well. Accompany your bestowal of the gift with a shy and ever-so-slightly mumbled, “I saw this the other day and it reminded me of you,” and she’ll be putty in your hands. To the female mind, this insignificant trinket is proof positive that you think of her when the two of you aren’t together, and chicks eat that kind of smarmy twaddle for breakfast. Remember though, do it too often and the gesture loses its meaning. However, if you don’t do it often enough, she’ll only be reminded of how infrequently you do little things like that for her (or she’ll think you’re feeling guilty about something in the relationship, and that’s even worse).
Well, that about does it. I have squeezed every last drop of woman-related knowledge from the desiccated sponge-like apparatus I call my brain in the hopes that someone somewhere might benefit from my years of accumulated failure. I suppose there might be people out there who won’t see the advantage in taking advice from some guy whose idea of a busy Friday night is instant messaging with multiple buddies at the same time, but don’t let one little prejudice like that stand in the way of a possible (and possibly superficial) love connection that could make you happy for the rest of your miserable life.
DISCLAIMER: While on the surface the above advice may seem fairly sound—if occasionally sleazy—let it be known that the author himself spent the night of February 14, 2004 completely alone…cutting his toenails…and watching a Freddie Prinze Jr. movie on television. I believe the point is self-evident.
 To my credit, I didn’t actually realize this until she started talking to me again. I’m super perceptive like that.
 “Smarmy Twaddle” — now that would make a great breakfast cereal!