Leaning forward in rapt fascination
I was twenty years old before I realized that women do this on purpose. Previously, I thought that after a certain point in conversation—usually when someone mentions volunteering at the animal shelter near his summer home—a woman’s torso becomes insupportable, and she has to put all her weight on her elbows.
Tending bar, returning a sweater without the receipt, playing right field in rec league softball—all of these situations will cause a woman’s lower back to just give out, and the only cure is to push her arms together. This would never work for men. Even if it didn’t cause your tie to drop into your entree, the sight of a blurry shamrock tattoo covered in chest hair has never sealed the deal.
Suffering a mechanical breakdown
Mechanics across the country harbor two fantasies: 1) the reanimated corpse of Dale Earnhardt emerges from his tomb and rules the earth for a thousand years and 2) an attractive woman’s car stops working. I myself will pull over at the sight of any woman with an open hood, in the hope that the one problem I know how to fix—transmission fluid too low—will be what’s wrong. Whereas I once drove past a man in a wheelchair trying to change a flat tire.
Getting nominated for Vice President with very few qualifications
When Sarah Palin became the Republican nominee for Vice President, she went from being the mildly dumb governor of a state that isn’t even in America to being an inspiration to working moms everywhere—or a sociopathic brown shirt harpy, depending on your politics. While Palin’s maneuver wasn’t a dating strategy per se, she did become a national sex symbol, despite occupying roughly the same tier of attractiveness as your mother’s mean tennis friend. When Dan Quayle did the same thing, he became the transition joke from Janeane Garofolo’s set about the Gap to the one about her period.
A crying woman is allowed anything: speeding ticket torn up, camping trip canceled, watermelon—whatever will stop that sound. Bursting in to tears is like a special coupon she gets to redeem once a month, plus right after her mother calls, or if she’s had more than three drinks or sees a spider or she’s hungry. A crying man is something to awkwardly look away from, like when a retarded person drinks.
Next time you’re out with your friends at Au Bon Pain or whatever, try saying, “There’s nothing I can eat here.” Did someone put his hand reassuringly on your lower back? That’s because you’re a dude. Possibly as a result of one traumatic childhood viewing of The Karen Carpenter Story, I will immediately offer to take any woman who is not eating out for gelato. Men who are not eating will be asked if their pussies hurt.
Never ask a woman if she is pregnant—not because if you’re wrong you’ll offend her, but because if you’re right you will immediately have to give her your seat on the train, your help with the groceries and your share of the pizza. If the two of you are dating, you also have to give her your house. Pregnant women are the subjects of baby showers and Republican political campaigns and special warnings on cigarettes. If a man ever got pregnant, he’d spend nine months claiming he was just really hung over before mumbling, “I’ve got to drop the kids off at the pool,” and slipping off to literally do that.
Having an awesome car
Oh, sorry—that was from “Dating strategies that only work for men.” I meant to type, “being pretty.”
Dan Brooks writes about politics, consumer culture and lying at Combat!