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Playing by The Rules

by Mad Dog


     We all must have done something terribly, horribly, unspeakably evil in our prior lives. For as if the Macarena wasn’t punishment enough for living in the 90’s, now we have to put up with hearing all about a best selling book which purports to tell women everything they need to know in order to catch a man. Right. Like catching a man is a big deal. Look, if you want to catch something you can really brag about, try landing a 900 lb. marlin. Or the Loch Ness monster. Then I’ll be impressed. But a man? Pshaw! We’re easy.

     The book is called "The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right" and it consists of little more than thirty-five supposedly unbreakable rules that will help you nab a fine specimen of a husband with whom you can spend the rest of your life in complete bliss.

     For this you need thirty-five rules? Come on! If God figured ten commandments was all we needed to live our lives correctly why the heck should it take twenty more to catch a measly husband? It’s not like men are that complex. We’re simple creatures, really. Give us a TV, a bowl of popcorn, a beer and a Sylvester Stallone movie and we won’t move an inch. Keep it flowing and we’re yours for life.

     Before going any further, let me state for the record that I’m extremely qualified to be discussing this subject, seeing as how I’m male, I’m single, and I like women. But the idea that single women all across the country are sitting around the house memorizing a set of rules designed to lure me into marrying them is very unnerving. Especially since the rules almost uniformly set my teeth on edge.

     - Don’t call a man. (Why should you? It’s much more fun to be upset at him because he didn’t call you.)

     - Don’t make yourself available every time he calls. (Wouldn’t you rather sit at home and watch reruns of the Donna Reed Show by yourself? Of course you would! What better role model is there?)

     - Never accept a Saturday night date after Wednesday. (See above.)

     - Don’t discuss The Rules with your therapist. (What? No one needing these rules could possibly need a therapist, could they?)

     The problem is, the very act of using these rules means they’re destined to become self-fulfilling prophecies. Saying "Any man who doesn’t play by these arbitrary rules isn’t good enough to marry me" automatically weeds out—you guessed it!—anyone who doesn’t play by these rules. Hell, if you really want to set your sights high, why not add rules like "He has to be worth over $100 million dollars", "He has to look like George Clooney", and "He has to do only what I want to do, when I want to do it, and how I want to do it"? Then you’ll find yourself a real catch.

     As rules go these are actually pretty lame. In Mogadishu, Somalia all men have to grow beards. In Iran, unmarried men and women are forbidden to socialize. But the real difference isn’t in the harshness of the rules, it’s in the punishment. Over here if you don’t follow The Rules you won’t find a good husband. Over there if you don’t follow the rules they’ll chop off your right hand. Then see how easy it will be to find a good husband.

     Here’s something to think about: Maybe the men you meet aren’t being turned off because you’re playing the game wrong and aren’t playing hard to get, maybe it’s the fact that you’re so desperate to find a man that you have to buy stupid books like this one and follow its silly ass rules like they’re the gospel that’s making men run away. Hey, even dogs smell fear.

     But I don’t want to be unconstructive about this. You want dating rules? I’ll give you dating rules.

1. Be yourself.

2. Let him be himself.

3. Throw away your self-help books.

4. Draw a moustache on Ann Landers’ photograph. But whatever you do, don’t read her column.

5. If you wake up, don’t smell the coffee. If you smell the coffee, go back to sleep.

6. Don’t date anyone who’s been engaged more times than your shoe size.

7. If you’re not having fun, go home.

8. If you’re not having fun at home, go out.

9. Take your copy of The Rules and give it to someone who really needs it. Like your local recycler.

10. Don’t listen to a word I say. Hey, what the hell do I know?


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