The dating game with a dwarf
The Early Essays
There's a Federico Fellini film in which a character, upset over his failings with the ladies, climbs a tree and refuses to come down. When his family tries to coax him down from the tree, he answers, "I need a woman!" When they climb a ladder to get him down, he throws stones at them, then shouts, "I need a woman!" It's an absurd scene, but, watching it, I thought immediately of gender relations at Notre Dame.
Of course, I grant that some of us here are in healthy relationships, the kind that run deeper than Notre Dame's peculiar mating dance involving formal attire, a useless gift and a fifth of tequila. For the rest of us, it's awfully cold outside during this Valentine's Day hangover, with the supermarkets still hocking stale chocolate and dead flowers.
This is why I thought it might prove beneficial to explore a few gaffs common to courtship. Along the way, I'll try to provide ways to avoid these types of disasters. And as a result, if this column instigates one meaningful relationship or even one lone random hookup at a freshman party in Lewis, I'll take satisfaction in that. So, if you sit by yourself with your waffles right now in South Dining Hall and I suspect you do, I urge you to take out a pencil and paper.
Male-female relationships are dependent on dialogue. They always have been except for the silent movie era, when pick-up lines were pantomimed. Nowadays, unless you're at The 'Backer, you have to speak with her. Let's analyze some routine discourse.
Him: Hello, I'm Steve.
Her: Hi, I'm Suzie.
Him: How are you doing?
Her: Not too bad. My father works at a faucet company in Gary.
Great. Steve and Suzie have established a rapport and Suzie has offered up a topic of conversation. Steve can go a myriad of directions with this father-faucet-Gary information. I expect good things for this couple. Unfortunately, most encounters don't run this smoothly. Say, for instance, a month from now, a different guy, let's call him Ben, hits on Suzie.
Ben: Hi, I'm Ben. What's your name?
Suzie: Suzie, but my boyfriend calls me Sue.
Okay. A little painful for Ben, but the message is clearly sent and Ben and Suzie will go their separate ways. Ben may cry a little on the inside, but on the outside he will most likely just play more GoldenEye. Believe me, there are more callous ways of going about things. Consider Kelly.
Ben: How are you?
Kelly: My boyfriend is not you.
Ouch. There is a word for girls who operate like Kelly, but this newspaper will not print it. Still, for all Kelly's personal shortcomings, sometimes you're still interested in her because she can really fill out a sundress. If this is the case, you need to stay poised.
Remember, girls often use the b-bomb as a test. To get a girl like Kelly, you have to call her bluff. Watch Racecar and learn.
Kelly: Hi. I have a boyfriend who plays volleyball with big muscles.
Racecar: I am engaged to two different girls and married to Claire Forlani.
Racecar and Kelly will wed in three months. Why? Two reasons: (1) Racecar is perhaps the coolest name ever and (2) the relationship is founded on fallacy.
The last thing you want in a serious relationship is for the other person to find out who you really are. Truth and love are like PLS majors; they will never complement each other. It's true. My uncle unknowingly married a fake robot and has never realized it. Theirs is the most harmonious relationship I've ever seen.
Uncle Vito, if I remember correctly, is the name of the Fellini character stranding himself in the tree and I know you're dying to find out what happens to him.
It's quite predictable, actually. A dwarf nun climbs up the ladder and coaxes him out of the tree. And, if you'll allow me to wax sentimental for a moment, isn't that what each of us is really waiting for, a dwarf nun to convince us down from our tree of lonesomeness? I know in my fantasy, for instance, it's not an Italian dwarf nun but a 5'9" French maid and she's not coaxing me out of a tall maple, but tying me to a piano. But these are insignificant details.
Our world is an entirely lonely place. It is empty study cubicles and silent dorm rooms. It is 20 page research papers about Thoreau and, "Sorry you have no e-mail." For happiness here, you must find that special someone to talk with, to drink with, to dart with, to share your life and your illegal copy of the sociology exam with. And if you cannot find this special someone or if you do and she looks too much like a duck, then you need to get cable.
Scott Blaszak is a senior Arts and Letters student. His column usually appears every other Tuesday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Thursday, February 22, 2001