[Hello, everybody! I am temporarily unretiring to share a column I wrote for my school newspaper. Keep waiting for my true return.]
As a polished man of the world, it is my burden to look on the missteps of other well-meaning chaps with a twinge of dread. To this end I have decided to invest my mesmerizing powers of psychoanalysis to pull forth from the ethereal domain of knowledge all the salient facts which can set a man on his proper course. In the interest of the propitiation of the species, I am gratified to share with you, the beleaguered gentleman, a few golden insights into the sphere of human romance.
Before sending off on our intrepid journey, it will be necessary to handle a few basics which have been overlooked in a surprising number of cases.
One common error made by our school's aspiring gentlemen is to smell like the gym shorts of a dead skunk, a habit which reduces their romantic prospects to (approximately) Barbara Streisand. Fortunately, the smell-encumbered fellow can ameliorate his musk with a clever spritzing of Febreeze. He may also wish to buffer his aroma by spending some time circuiting the inside of a shoe store. Shoes naturally secrete special pheromones which are attractive to women, and a lingering scent of Gucci or Prada can supply an almost irresistible appeal.
When engaged in the task of wooing, today's man will also benefit from wearing brightly colored clothing. Nothing is worse than approaching a girl he has strategically sat next to all semester only to learn she never noticed him because he wore the same Tapioca Creme as the shelving in the background.
Finally, he must be sure to always wear warm socks. One of the leading causes of not-asking-girls-out (so I have been told) is getting cold feet.
Now, as we are fixed on the cusp of yet another tribute to Saint Valentine--the man whose martyrdom is yearly commemorated by the disbursing of stale candy hearts--no doubt the reader is anxious about the soundness of some of the common traditions. Here, too, I will provide a wealth of established insights.
Today we live in a gilded age of flim and flam. Spiritual beauty does not show up very well in photoshoots. It is therefore preferred for a gentleman to maintain his intended as of a north-south, rather than east-west, disposition, and this is hardly possible if he bombards her with candied truffles on each and every 14th of February. (He may also complain that chocolates exceed the discretion of his budget.)
What I recommend is that he can instead purchase an excellent assortment of peeled carrots at a grocery emporium for less-than $3. For a dash of romantic flare, he could consider attaching a small note, which would begin by saying something nice, and finish with the recipient's name being correctly spelled.
If, however, his lady remains stubbornly attached to the idea of confections, it would be prudent to remind her of the countless children who perish each year excavating fresh ingredients from the harsh cocoa mines of Guatemala. This reflection will also cause her to feel guilty for doubting him, an association he should if at all possible cultivate.
When nutritious vegetables have run their course, it will be time to effect something more daring. In the seventeenth century, a flowery manner of speech--"But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun."--was very successful in precipitating the sort of full-blossomed love to which Shakespeare attributed double-suicide. Today, however, it is merely the sort of bilge which leaves one the subject of numerous restraining orders.
In place of poetry, our twenty-first century gentleman should consider composing a jingle featuring himself as the subject. The essence of the concept is to create an inextricable virus which targets the human brain. Even if a damsel does not fancy the author at the onset, perhaps likening him to "a foul-breathed troll-footed garble of puke", with a catchy enough jingle, she will find herself unable to dislodge his impression from her mind. (A small postscript for all the lovely young ladies out there--♫ doo-whop doo-whop♫ Ryan Shea is a super cool dude ♫ doo-whop doo-whop ♫--thank you.)
The sir who has been operating under these invaluable cautions and guidance is, more than likely, now in the position of entertaining an eager date, so I shall advance to the subject directly.
When our near-ancestors dated, a popular choice was dinner and a movie. In the present economy, however, the conjunctifying 'and' has been reduced to a less accommodating 'or.'
In the first case, it is happy to note that a prandial excursion provides an excellent opportunity to appear sophisticated by knowing all the ins-and-outs of modern food etiquette. Of course, as previously observed, practices must adapt to a diminished budget. But when silverware is in want, it still conveys a superb class to attend that mustard packets must sit on the left, ketchup packets on the right. Our refined sir is further advised, when passing the salt and pepper, to courteously ascertain that the lids are not unscrewed, as small children are known saboteurs. Last, if he would wish to observe some conscience of health, he may prefer to avoid the menu entirely, in favor of having earlier pocketed some peeled carrots--a highly versatile root.
The occasion of a movie is far simpler to arrange, as there is only one movie which could possibly achieve satisfaction: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. For the sake of appearing considerate, one may of course wish to consult his date's sentiments; however, having posed the question frequently, I have yet to encounter the young woman who has preferred a different Star Trek movie.
I hope my reader will find that, in his plot for successful romance, I have accurately markered the path. Yet, what advice can be offered to the bachelor who has studied my remarks of unimpeachable wisdom with diligence, only to fall flat in- and on-the-end? The essential conclusion, which I present as even less assailable than any of those preceding it, is as follows: women are loony to the eyebrows. Rational analysis is moot: your theories will be upended and your pittering heart reduced to flaming rubble. Give up, go home, and become a professional newspaper columnist.
I find it is quite bearable.
(Ryan Shea is also author of "Non-extradition Countries: Nature's Cure for the Alimony Blues" and a paid spokesman for Carrots of America)
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