Saturday, September 3, 2011

Boy Chases Girl 'til She Catches Him!

If she likes him,
she'll fake a stumble!
There are lots of practical things a grampa can teach a gramson (and a gramdaughter) that parents some time miss.  The facts of life are often some of those things.

My own great dad was pretty sparce when it came to "the talk"  We were sitting on aluminum lawn furniture out on the edge of Laramie at 1408 Ashley, looking east at sundown one evening--just him and me.  It was a Saturday.  I had a date later.  I was a man of the world.  I'd been to Brazil.  I'd dated a few girls and I'd paid good attention in the locker room where this kind of informal "training" goes on and I was prepared.  

 It was 1969 and times were different.  AIDS had not been imagined. VD was only talked about in the seedier parts of our tiny downtown--and then only by what were then called, "Beatniks"  (anybody with a beard and sandals or long hair and a turtle neck--you get the idea.)  Most had done academic time in Berkley and had wild ideas and wilder mating habits.

I was the clean cut son of a railroad engineer--and I'd always tried to be a good boy.

"Now, son," he began, "When the time comes, make sure that you've got clean sheets on your bed."

Practical advice, nothing flashy--no great revelation.  Solid wisdom from a man who didn't say much--even to his near and dear.  He knew that the church his family were very active members of, taught the youth and adults to be totally celibate before marriage and totally faithful after marriage.  I was and he knew it.

The reason this all came up today was we got cable this week and on the Starz network I saw a wonderful romatic comedy called "How Do You Know?" with Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Jack Nicholson.  Though it didn't do well at the box office the writing is phenomenol (maybe that's why!).  Witherspoon plays a superb female softball player on the down hill of her Olympic career who gets cut from the team and changes her whole way of life.   

Wilson is a 14 million dollar big league pitcher with a 95 mile fast ball.  He is self absorbed and trying hard to be the perfect host to the many women he sleeps with.  Reese is getting ready to leave his palacial apartment when he says, "You don't have to wear that dress, here, try one of these!" He opens a big cupboard that looks like the hoody collection at Nordstroms--and they're all in pink!

"This is wrong, it just feels wrong!" she says, " I feel like I'm on an assembly line!"

Wilson responds, "Well, that's kinda how it works.  You sleep with a bunch of women choose one to get monogomous with for the rest of your life--that IS sort of an assembly line."

Earlier in the movie he reassures her with, "lady athletes always give good sex"  

"Couldn't you personalize it a little?" she asks.

I loved the movie, even though the Nick and Nora/Cary Grant and Roslind Russell banter is a bit pretentious and self conscious.  It's like a Shakespeare farce that would work just as well on radio--but came off wooden to the teen and twenty somethings who never saw the great old movies.

Without "spoiling" the ending she has to choose between two men as the plot thickens.  Her final choice is based on how the "Right" guy treats her without pretention,   

Hence the title above.  The boys chase this girl, as they do every girl, and in the end, she makes the choice.  And that's the bit of advice I would pass along to a grandson, if I ever get one, and when he's old enough to "get it!"  Those kinds of little bits of relationship understanding are great material for a grampa to pass on.

Finally, I met a smashing girl at one of the electronic stores.  She had a smile like Nora O'Donnel of CNBC and big eyes to match.  Her real name is not Annie, but that's the one I'll use in this story.  I bought a little smart phone stand to attach to the vent in the Kia.  Annie is a natural flirt--great hair, really good customer service and had learned to call me by name.  I admit it, I fell in love (in the way that a caring dad falls in love with an excellent find for his single 30 something son)  Upshot:  She let me take her picture to "test" the phone and she gave me her e-mail so I could send her an example of how much Nora O'Donnel she looked like--the high tech geriatric equivalent of my son getting a cute girl's phone number (and he does that a lot).

Here's the lesson- I casually showed him her picture and encouraged him to go down and do a little cell phone shopping at her counter, suggesting that she had a technical background and a great manner--and not bad looking either! (A perfect daughter in law).

My wonderful self absorbed bone-headed son got a touch of arrogance in his manner when he responded, "Well, if Annie thinks she knows tech, I can run rings around her!"  ....and I hung my head in defeat for a couple of beats!  He didn't get the lesson.   I reminded him gently that the purpose of courting was to be attracted to someone who would make a great partner, a fine companion -- a good match, and he'd lost it in the bullpen with an arrogance that denied all the potential she could bring to a partnership, and played up his superiority -- to the boredom of all concerned.

There's a little commercial running on network TV with two guys and a waitress.  I've long since forgotten the product, but I got the message that my son does not yet understand.  The nerdier of the two asks for the waitress to repeat the specials again--and as she begins to look exasperated the noble buddy interrupts her and tells his friend what they are as the camera cuts away to the waitress who looks with growing admiration at a man who obviously listens.

Self absorbed young men don't get to first base.  Caring, accomplished, secure, honest listeners who, like Judge Learned Hand love for others to participate in the conversation-- these get to second, sometimes third and more often than all others,score at Home Base.

By the way, Judge Hand was an apellate judge in Washington D.C. in the forties and fifties.  Hostesses were always careful to invite him to parties and he would show up armed with his mental list.  He had devised half a dozen provocative questions that he would drop like pearls into every coversation.  Then, and most importantly, he would actively listen and ask related follow up questions to prove it.

The secret to this message is girls fall for men who are secure enough to follow Judge Hand's excellent example.  Instead, most are so insecure they have to dominate conversations with a variety of versions of their own story.   "How  Do You Know" is a movie that at it's best illustrates the dilemma of communication that plagues modern couples--and demonstrates how, and how not to resolve the conflicts that arise!

This isn't the end by a long stretch, but it's a start on "the talk"  Did it help?  Can you feel me listening?


1 comment:

  1. I liked this blog so much that I read a few exerts to my fiance and my oldest son.
    This site is a Gem to find in my quest to raise 3 chivalrous men, who may not understand how women think but at least care. In our lives we have been lacking any such role models. Your input and guidance is appreciated here! Glad I sighed up for PowerPoint. Also this is not to brown nose :)
    Genuinely, A.
    P.S. This story was long, not sure where it was going but written very well I liked where the lesson leads.