Don’t You Think?

B

eing old(er) suggests more experience. And at 50, I have had my share of experiences. Some of it good, lots of it bad, all of it learning. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ve learned my lesson well. I have bumbled my way through a number of bad experiences, some I have repeated a few times. As you might imagine, all these experiences fall within the very narrow scope of an Asian American male, so I should be the last guy to give anyone advice, don’t you think?

Still, some people come to me for advice. I have to tell them that I don’t know the answer, as most of the issues fall within the very narrow scope of their individual lives. The best thing I do is ask questions. As an academic, this is one of the few things I do well. So when a student comes to me with a question–What should I do when I graduate? How do I tell this girl I like her? How do I get this boy off my back?–I usually start by asking questions about their concerns: How do you really feel about it? How badly do you want to do whatever it is you want to do? Fortunately for me, the person will usually come up with his own answer, and I will look like a genius… which I’m not. Well, maybe just a little, not because I give advice, but because I don’t. People really have to take care of their own shit, don’t you think?

Advice seekers are not limited to my students. I get a few inquiries here as well, such as the following

Hey Onigiriman, could you please advise me on the old-fashioned (proper) form/method of dating. I recently went on a blind date with a girl and am interested in getting to know her better. I was brought up in a conservative household but with the dynamic area of dating I forget what is and should be proper? Thanks!

Posted 7/26/2005 at 11:36 PM by Cboy918

First, sorry to be so late, like eight months after your blind date. I meant to write this earlier, but i never got around to it. And besides, what the heck do you mean by old-fashioned? Are you suggesting I’m an old fart? Hrumph! Well, perhaps I am–ok, ok, I know that I am. Anyway, what was the question? Oh yeah… The proper form of dating…

I didn’t know if there is a proper” form. I presume you mean how to act, right? Some gys will take flowers, go to the best restaurants, whatever. These are nice, but behavior, I think, is more crucial. But we are all different. What one guy can do, another guy can’t. What one girl will accept as funny, another would consider an insult. The variables are too great. For example… hmm… let’s see… um… I was actually quite a flirt. I might be considered a flirt even now by some, but it has nothing to do with the words or the lines. It’s the attitude… and practice. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and so what I can get away with may not be so easy for others. But this is a topic for another post, I think.

There is one principle, however, that I try to abide by–I emphasize that this is something I TRY to do, because I am such a dork sometimes that I forget my own principle. Be that as it may, the one thing I always try to do is show respect. I respect her opinion, her ideas, her words, her values, and of course her body. I like to talk–God knows I like to talk–but I also listen. If she offers an opinion, I don’t toss it off, even if–particularly if–I don’t agree with it. I mean, it’s okay to disagree, but I don’t treat it as if it were useless discourse. I will ask her about it, probe her more, ask her to explain her position–politely, of course. I don’t force my opinion or values onto her, and I don’t talk about it so much either, unless she actually asks me. I sometimes catch myself talking too much when it’s too late–she’s either rolling her eyes already or looking right through me at the wall behind me.

Finally, I don’t touch her unless I am absolutely positive it’s okay to do so. I won’t hold her hands, unless she extends it for me to grab, like when we’re getting out of a cab. If she doesn’t mind my touch, she’ll squeeze my hand or arm a bit when she wants to emphasize a point; she’ll lean into me when she laughs, she’ll make an effort to sit next to me when we are in a group. She’ll signal something. The exception, of course, is “the handshake.” To me, this has always been the kiss of death. Been great talking to ya’. Please understand that this is the most intimate you’ll ever get with me. Brrrrrrrr.

One other thing. I always try to be a gentleman. Yes, this is the age of equality. Men and women are equal. But since you asked me, and I AM old-fashioned, I will tell you that while men and women are equals, we are not the same, we are not identical. I hold open doors for the woman I am with. For M, I will open and shut the car door for her. She often opens the door herself once I park the car, but I will make every effort to shoot to the other side and open it for her. At restaurants, movie theaters, when we enter the house, it is always ladies first. Once, we were in DC on New Year’s Eve, and it was frosty. M wore a coat, but it wasn’t warm enough for her, so I pealed off mine to cover her. She looked nice and toasty. Unfortunately, certain parts of my anatomy still do not function properly to this day… just kidding. The bottom line is that you must be willing to do ANYTHING for her. And it starts with the dating and continues for as long as you are with her. I REFUSE to have someone talk behind my back about what a lout I was. I mean, holding a door open. How hard is that? I think I would look pretty pathetic if I complained that it was too much trouble. I’m sure to get a lot of crap from “Today’s women”, but I’m sorry, I’m old fashioned. So sue me.

In any event, these are the principles I try to follow even today. But these are my values, and I would never suggest that you should do the same. But there are worse things you could do than being respectful and gentlemanly toward your date, don’t you think?

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