Saturday, June 1, 2013

You're Doing Everything Wrong: 1949 called and wants to teach you how to land a man

Welcome to my new monthly Island post: You're Doing Everything Wrong! In these posts, I'll discuss a topic that I am seemingly doing wrong by some standard. On my quest to be a leading lady, I need to take stock of what I could being doing better. After all, it's about self-improvement.

Today's topic: dating and seducing a man.

I don't know if you know about Buzzfeed but if you don't, please take a moment to leave the cave you've been living in and find the nearest Internet cafe (do these exist anymore?) or public library that will allow you online for 10 minutes.You will immediately find the cutest animals on the planet, every possible cat GIF that one could ever need, and lots of 90s nostalgia - and then be sucked in forever. Buzzfeed appeals to my love of lists, trivia, and baby animals. Several months ago, I found a post on Buzzfeed about seducing a man 1940s style. The post linked to an article from The Atlantic about this list which was originally part of Esquire's Handbook for Hosts published in 1949 (and sadly now out of print). The author(s) of the handbook posed a series of questions for a female audience to answer and, hopefully, hone their skills on seducing the perfect 1940s man. Misogyny aside, this list is hilarious. And of course, now I can benefit from this knowledge.

Now we all know that I'm incredibly socially awkward when it comes to dating and men. I ramble, I make really stupid jokes, and am a bit self-deprecating. Romantic comedies have trained me well in the ways of love. I assume because of these things that I will end up wandering the planet alone like the Incredible Hulk. I guess in this scenario at least I'll have intense rage and the possibility of membership in a superhero squad to look forward to.

Clearly I'm doing everything wrong when it comes to men and 1949 is here to prove it to me. Let's take a look at what I'm doing wrong:
  • I'm not trendy all the time and sometimes look a little less than impeccable - we all have our days, even our man friends. I'm guessing the editors of this guide also didn't think that women sweat in the summer and should always wear makeup. I believe I have "reliable" taste as the gentlemen of Esquire recommend but I'm not daring enough to "arouse admiring stares." Carrie Bradshaw I am not and don't care.
  • I can hold my liquor so I'm probably loose or have a bad reputation (totally not true by the way). As a young woman who grew up and went to college in the South, I believe holding your liquor is a requirement as long as you remain a lady. I'm also a firm believer in seasonal drinking - you should change your alcohol to reflect the season (clear alcohols, lighter beers, and white wine for summer; whiskey, dark beers, and red wine in the winter, and bourbon always).
  • I don't have two comfy chairs in my living room so no man will ever relax enough in my home to fall in love with me. I have one moderately comfy chair, a sort of comfy loveseat, and a terribly uncomfortable dining room set. Possibly my favorite part of the Esquire answer is "No man can fall in love unless he has the chance to relax and he can't if either of you sits bolt upright." I'm not sure what to say about this but I will say this if comfort is important for falling in love, then I am going to forgo binding date clothes and high heels. Comfy chair my ass.
  • I have hobbies - I like to think they make me interesting but 1949 says no.
  • I can't deal with boring. This is why I couldn't handle online dating - so many of my dates were so boring once we actually met. Why should I waste my time making small talk with someone who can't articulate anything?
  • I don't make the first move. I blame this on being an introvert.
  • I cannot play bridge and I prefer not to dance in public. Bridge seems like something from the realm of old ladies and Junior League members (no offense to either). As for dancing, well, I occasionally tell people that I'm from that town in Footloose to get out of dancing in public. I don't dislike dancing - I just know I look a bit spastic when I dance. Not Elaine spazzy, just not normal.
  • I can be incredibly indecisive about really trivial things like where to go to dinner, what to do on a Friday night, and what I want to drink. Here's the thing - I also have had a history of dating incredibly indecisive men. If it takes you months or years to ask me out, then shut up about my inability to pick a restaurant with any speed.
So now that I know what I'm doing wrong, what do I do with this information? Do I spend my time and lots of money becoming a fashion icon or invest in some new furniture (that I don't have the space for right now)? Do I give up my hobbies and settle for uninteresting because I shouldn't be picky? Should I limit my alcohol intake to white wine spritzers and Cosmos? Should I take ballroom dancing (actually I can behind this one)? Does anyone know how to play bridge?

The answer is probably none of the above. I may not be doing most things right when it comes to matters of the heart but I know that most of the helpful hints from the editors of Esquire aren't right either. Ultimately that's the problem with dating isn't it? There's no magic formula or checklist we can use to make it work.


  1. Catching up on my Island reading, and this post reminded me that I recently acquired a copy of this Handbook for Hosts, circa 1949. People put the darnedest things out in yard sales. Anyway, I'm inspired to read it now, so thanks for that :D

    Also, please don't ever become a person who drinks white wine spritzers.

    1. You'll have to let me know if there are any gems in the book - maybe something else I'm doing wrong!

      Never, never will I drink white wine spritzers. I don't think I'd be allowed back in New Orleans if I started that.