Monday, April 10, 2006

Male advice

I thought these were very fair responses to age old questions... the second one is hard for me abide by even though it seems to make sense. They kind of feel like a more basic, cleaner version of Salon's "Since You Asked."


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Posted on Tue, Mar. 14, 2006

Male Call: Couldn't she at least pay for the popcorn?

Q Is the guy always supposed to pay for the date? I've been out on a few dates with this girl, and she's never offered to pay anything, even though she knows I'm no moneybags.

A guy, San Jose

A A funny thing happened on the long, difficult journey toward equality of the sexes. Well, a few funny things. One is that men still make more money than women for comparable work. (Easy now -- we mean ``funny'' as in odd or lamentable, not funny as in ha ha, OK?) But another is that a few quaint Elizabethan-like customs have endured, like the practice of men paying for everything. Oh, and also dueling. But maybe that's just the crowd we roll with.

Sure, there was a short period in the late '60s and early '70s when you risked being slapped upside the Fu Manchu for attempting to pay for dinner or open a door for your date. But those days passed as quickly as patchouli oil and unprotected sex. Along with the eminently laudable idea that it was OK for women to be both strong and sexy came the more dubious notion that guys should finance the dates. (Just for the record, we think the trade-off -- a Ph.D in a push-up bra vs. us springing for dinner at Tico Taco -- was, like, totally worth it.)

So the answer to your question is a qualified yes. Guys are expected to pay, at least in the initial phase of the courtship. But contrary to what you might be thinking (``I could be spending this money on a new Xbox 360!''), the girl isn't out to fleece you. She's simply trying to get some insight into an important aspect of your character: Are you a cheapskate? To her, your insisting on going Dutch for your first few dates means that later on she'll probably be getting a Swiffer for her birthday. And everyone knows you should save that gift for Valentine's Day.

But it gets trickier after you've been dating a while. If she has a decent job and still never offers to pay for so much as the Junior Mints, you are allowed to question her motives. Which doesn't mean that if she does offer, you have to accept. Often, the correct response is ``Thanks, hon, I've got it.'' Of course, for all you know, she's got nothing but a can of Mace in her purse anyway. But at least she offered.

After a month or so of dating, you should know each other well enough to say, ``I'll get the tickets if you get the popcorn,'' or ``Do you mind picking up the lunch tab? My wallet is in Chapter 11.'' That should be enough of a hint for her to dust the cobwebs off the Gucci. And if she still manages to head to the restroom to freshen up just as the check is arriving, well, maybe you should be looking for a new Ph.D candidate. Or a dueling partner.


Posted on Tue, Apr. 04, 2006

Male Call: Honey, are we what you'd call a couple?

Q I've been out on a few dates with a certain woman, and everything is going fine. We really enjoy each other's company. But when do you know you're an item, so to speak, or ``going together,'' or actual boyfriend/girlfriend? I don't want to bring it up in those terms for fear of being too pushy and scaring her off. Thoughts?

A Ah, things were so much simpler in sixth grade, when ``going together'' meant acknowledging, through some complex elementary-school shuttle diplomacy, that you ``liked'' a girl. Then maybe you'd share your Lunchables with her (though not the bite-size Snickers), and to cement the relationship, slam into her a couple of times during recess tetherball.

Romantic times, certainly, but these days things are more complicated. As with so many modernities (computer literacy, hip-hop dance moves, the availability of prescription drugs), there is a generational divide, and the chasm is particularly wide in regard to relationships. For example, this ``friends with benefits'' phenomenon, meaning, we assume, that you hang out with a gal, and she lets you use her power tools. We figure this is what's meant by risky behavior.

And on college campuses, the preferred way of dealing with the stress of academic rigor is no longer to attend sorority mixers or burn down the ROTC building, but rather to ``hook up'' with other ``hotties,'' having no intention of ever seeing them again because you're too busy with homework. As Mom and Dad say, school comes first!

But we sense that you're a bit more old school. Dinner dates, amusing e-mail exchanges from work, PG-13 make-out sessions on her couch. What does it all mean? Simply that you both are enjoying the unfolding of your potential togetherness. Nothing more, at this point. So don't screw it up by trying to ``define the relationship.'' (Which is good advice for women, too -- that phrase being one that will seize up a guy's heart faster than running a V-8 engine with no oil. We speak from experience. The truck, not the girl. Well, OK, both.)

So your best bet is to let the thing you have, whatever it is, develop organically. In the fullness of time it will become apparent that you either are or are not a couple. And if that is too Zen for you, take three deep, cleansing breaths and open another beer. In the meantime, here are some signs that you might be heading into BF/GF territory:

• You accidentally call her ``Honey'' and the color doesn't drain from her face.

• She skips her Bikram yoga session to accompany you to your Renaissance jousting practice.

• She tells you about her psychotic family, and rather than sprinting for the door, you're oddly intrigued.

• You use her name by mistake when flirting with someone else.

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Male Call answers questions from men and women on etiquette, relationships, men's style and more, at malecall@mercurynews.com. Also check out our forum at www.mercurynews.com.

2 comments:

teahouse said...

My Boy and I have a good system - initially he asked me out and paid for the first few dates. But after that, we've taken turns paying for dates. We alternate dinners, movie tickets, cab fares, etc. It's worked out very well for us.

Eddie said...

Hi, I am not really writing this comment in reference to the blog that i have just read although it is rather amusing!!
I am having boyfriend issues and jus like you i enjoy and hate the over analysing that i do in my own life and my mates are being of little help to me in this way @ the moment.
I have problems infiltrating the boyfriends friendship group and this is really beginning to stress me out and i would really like some advice on how to deal with this from someone/anyone who is older and wiser than i!!

I have my blog which was posted yesterday which explains exactly what is happening with him. But long story short he invites me out with them but only if i want too, and that i shuld invite my mates as he obviously doesnt wana have to babysit me (lik im 3yrs old or somethin!!) Also they wont head into town till 10ish and from 8-10 they will be @ one of his mates houses which i have never been invited too - which in turn makes me think that he doest want me to infiltrate the group he would just like them to see me when they are out and for me to be out with my mates so that there is no pressure.

But what is fucking me off is that he moans i dont make the effort with them but then he makes things so damn hard!!
or am i making things hard? you must think that i am nuts, if so pls tell me as i would really like to hear from someone who isnt a 23yr old bitchy jealous grl!!

thanks, eddie