Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Boys & Girls

My hands were clammy and cunning
She’s been suitably stunning
But I know there’s not a hope in hades
All the laddies cat call and wolf whistle
So-called gentlemen and ladies
Dog fight like rose and thistle…

(Elvis Costello)

I know some guys who say they watch “Sex & the City” in order to learn a little about how to deal with women. Others insist that they have asked their sisters for advice; still others have that one really, really good friend-girl that will answer all their questions. Yet they still can’t get dates.

I think it’s great that some guys out there are trying to educate themselves about what girls like and all, but I really think – if you’re looking for a lady friend to spend quality time with – you really have to try to understand what it’s like just to be a woman in this day and age. It’s really fucking scary, and more than half the time, we’re scared of you.

I asked a bunch of my girlfriends to tell me about some positive and negative experiences they’d had with guys over the years, in the hopes of getting some info out to the masses that may help just a little. This was inspired by a crazy day I myself had about a month back. I work in Beverly Hills, and on my lunch break, I try to go for a long walk in the ritzy neighborhood behind my offices. On this particular day, I was just cruising along when a Honda with tinted windows started cruising along with me. Now I don’t walk 15 MPH, so it was pretty obvious that this guy was checkin’ me out, but to me it was just a creepy guy following me down the street who could at any moment: 1. run me down 2. jump out and attack me 3. say something disgusting and drive off 4. do nothing.

Point is, girls have to think of these things. Rarely do guys. You may think I’m being a bit paranoid, but coming from a gal who has been jumped a couple times, nearly raped twice, and had various male body parts pointed at her in alarmingly close proximity, I don’t think so. And the thing is, lots of women have these sorts of experiences behind them. We look away from guys, because looking them in the eye can be seen as an invitation to trouble. We steel ourselves when we walk past a group of men on the street, because they’ll probably start saying all kinds of nasty stuff. And if you talk back, you get called a bitch. Yes, I’m a bitch because I was walking home and you told me that you would like to fuck me till I can no longer walk and that caused me to give you a dirty look… therefore, I’m not a nice person. ‘Kay.

So of course we’re wary of you when you come on to us in a bar! Or nightclub, or wherever it is… Lots of other men before you have ruined your chance. UNLESS… you’re just yourself. That seems to be the universal answer. Just be yourself. But you still need to get in that conversation somehow…

Okay, back to my crazy day… That night, I found myself at a bar, owned by friends, chatting with a group of about 6 or 7 people. The bar wasn’t too crowded, and soon I was just talking to two other women. There was a guy at the next table who got up to order a drink, heard a bit of our conversation (which was about dancing), and made a funny, relevant comment, and he was in. He actually didn’t try hitting on any of us, just casually joined in on our conversation and stepped out to rejoin his table a couple of minutes later. Totally non-threatening and nice. Not pushy. Any of us would have talked to him some more.

See? I had a similar experience at a show. My friend and I had been dancing like lunatics, and at the break, a guy came up to me to compliment me on my dancing. He then introduced himself to me & my girlfriend, and offered to buy us some drinks. Totally polite and sincere, and all was good! When he went off to get the drinks, another guy approached, blocking my friend, and said to me, “That was some FINE dancing you did there; I think I need to get to know you. I’m Jerome,” and held out his hand. Which I didn’t shake and said, “Nice to meet you, but we’re waiting for our friend to come back.” I grabbed my girlfriend and we literally turned our backs on him. He earned no points by acting like my friend didn’t exist and being slightly pervy. The first guy got my number.

According to my girlfriends, here are some ideas of what to do and what NOT to do:

1. Never yell or gesture from your car window. We all hate that. I mean, come on! “Yeow baby!” or “You got fries with that shake” or doing the V in front of your mouth thing is not a charming introduction to you as a person. (Some girls are cool with that after you get to know them, though.) As one friend put it: “It's such a pussy tactic on their behalf because they are in a moving vehicle. So it's not like I can chase after them or confront them about it.” Exactly. None of us wanna feel like the “hey chicky chicky” thing applies to us. Come on.

* However, just about all my friends said that at some point, a guy drove by and yelled, “Beautiful!” Not, “hey beautiful” or “yo beautiful.” Just plain “beautiful” is acceptable.

2. Pick up lines – they rarely work. The exceptions to this rule are only for very funny guys, because it seems that if you can say something really hilarious or clever right off the bat, then you’re in. And that’s kinda tough to pull off, so I wouldn’t really recommend it. Besides, we know that if you’re using a line, you’ve probably used it many times before, and a girl wants to feel special. Really.

3. It helps if you are a bit age appropriate. I got a lot of stories about dirty old men hitting on girls who were far too young (we’re talking 80 year olds to 13 year olds… now really), and also quite a few tales about teenage boys going for the older ladies. Sometimes these sort of match-ups work, but as a rule… we’re probably gonna think you’re kidding.

4. Common courtesy goes a long way… If a girl is there with friends, acknowledge them. She’ll be glad you were considerate. Don’t interrupt them, use manners. It really does break down some of that initial barrier. So even if a girl is not interested, she’ll be less likely to be nasty to you if you were nice to begin with.

5. Just be yourself. Now if yourself is a psychotic freak, then come up with something else. But if you are honest and sincere, we can tell and won’t be afraid of you. Then we can talk and you can get a better sense of if you like this girl enough to reveal your psychotic freak side.

One friend told me a guy actually licked her hand. NEVER do that. (My hand is itching just thinking about it.)

I’m sure we will return to this topic. As for now… good luck!