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July 16, 2008

To Love, Honor, And Cherish

Something tells me it's going to be one of those days.

The Princess had a bad night last night. Woke up at 2:30 with the uncomfortable feeling the Attention Bill hadn't been paid. Made the world's largest pot of coffee, pottered randomly around the kitchen in the dark for a few minutes (thus allowing me to don the highly coveted Mantle of Domesticity), savagely threw an obscenely large spoonful of coffee ice cream into my coffee cup and headed for my office where I performed the ritual genuflection at the shrine of Santa Mañana, the patron saint of highly ineffective people.

Hey look: I don't think of it as procrastination. After 49 years of living on the edge, it's more like performance art.

Read an email from Pile. Seems Brit Hume is leaving FauxNews:

Brit Hume, a top anchor and executive with Fox News since the channel was launched 12 years ago, plans to step down at year's end. But he won't disappear entirely.

Sources familiar with the situation say that Hume, 65, will give up his job as Washington managing editor and anchor of "Special Report," the 6 p.m. show that has beaten the cable news competition for seven years. They say he is near a deal to continue with Fox in a senior-statesman role, not unlike that of NBC's Tom Brokaw, for roughly 100 days a year.

Hume would be a senior political analyst, anchor for special events, panelist on "Fox News Sunday" and occasional substitute for the host, Chris Wallace.

Mr. On, to say the least, was less than enthused about the change. In a desperate effort to cheer him up I'd sent back a snarky bit of repartee referring to a conversation years ago on ScrappleFace about how I thought Brit was just dreamy. Back then the idea had struck me as funny, given Hume's correct and rather formal manner. It worked as a riff on the old Carol Burnett/John Foster Dulles routine, except that Hume really is rather cute. The funny thing was that shortly after that I found myself at a fairly small cocktail party sipping a glass of wine when suddenly, my youngest son tapped me on the shoulder, one eyebrow raised with Spock-like interest (as though he had just placed two exotic but highly unpredictable specimens together in a Petri dish). My cherubic offspring proceeded to inform me of the great man's presence with what I deemed an unwarranted degree of relish.

There are times when I suspect I provide entirely too much entertainment value to my children.

Sure enough, there he was. Brit Hume. Standing not 20 feet from me. Sadly, my son also saw fit to alert my mother in law. Who decided we needed to walk over and talk to him. Fortunately, it was a very crowded party in a very small house. We spent the next 40 minutes or so weaving in and out of various conversational groupings whilst the Princess assiduously avoided any situation which might result in accosting FoxNews anchors.

The thing is, Pile can never resist the temptation to pull my chain.

My snarky comment, you see, had been something to the effect of, "Dang - I *knew* I should have spoken to Brit at that cocktail party."

To which he replied, "...if you had talked to him, did you know that he would for him be talking to a much younger chick?"

And that is all it took to send this too, too much younger chick's Clue Train right off the rails. The female mind is a Terrible Thing. Forty minutes of my life I will never get back, one deleted and unsent email later, my mind had been to Timbuktu and back. Poor Brit. And poor Ben Stein, because he is about to get dragged into this against his will. Back in March I wrote about the interplay between economics, decision-making, and happiness:

The architect's maxim that the form of a building should express its intended use cleanly and honestly seemed so right. But what interested me even more was a notion that occurred to me in thinking about the human implications of this idea. For often, perhaps because I'm female, I see human corollaries to ideas in economics, math, or even architecture. Not that, as a consequence, I am necessarily quick enough to correct my own behavior, mind you :p

I just lecture other people about how to correct theirs. This is one of the dubious joys of being a solipsistic parasite who traffics more in pronouncement than persuasion.

Once, after having a 'discussion' with my husband, it occurred to me that in marriage outward behavior (i.e., our "form") was in many ways more important than (and may even at times play a role in determining) what both partners think to themselves privately. In other words, some times if we are not happy, it's because we've fallen into the habit of not acting happy. Correct the behavior and you correct the state of mind.

Relationships are a bit of a feedback loop. In marriage, people tend to get sloppy and stop doing the nice things they did when they were courting. They take each other for granted. And all of a sudden, there is no positive feedback and they wonder where the 'magic' went? What they forgot was that the magic wasn't an externally created force: they had a role in creating it. If the flame dies out, you can re-ignite it. I think that's the biggest reason modern marriages don't succeed; couples are so busy with careers, the Internet, their iPods, and watching cable TV that they're forgotten to take an active role in their own lives. No wonder they're unhappy.

Stein picks up this idea. It's one that has always fascinated me - the notion that because it deals with the way human beings assign value, manage risk, and choose from competing alternatives in the presence of scarcity, economic theory applies not just in the marketplace but is broadly applicable to all facets of our personal and emotional lives:

In general, and with rare exceptions, the returns in love situations are roughly proportional to the amount of time and devotion invested. The amount of love you get from an investment in love is correlated, if only roughly, to the amount of yourself you invest in the relationship.

If you invest caring, patience and unselfishness, you get those things back. (This assumes, of course, that you are having a relationship with someone who loves you, and not a one-sided love affair with someone who isn’t interested.)

The economic corollary is "Don't throw good money after bad." - a maxim many women would do well to study. Stein has more:

The returns on your investment should at least equal the cost of the investment. If you are getting less back than you put in over a considerable period of time, back off.

Long-term investment pays off. The impatient day player will fare poorly without inside information or market-controlling power. He or she will have a few good days but years of agony in the world of love.

To coin a phrase: Fall in love in haste, repent at leisure.

Realistic expectations are everything. If you have unrealistic expectations, they will rarely be met. If you think that you can go from nowhere to having someone wonderful in love with you, you are probably wrong.

You need expectations that match reality before you can make some progress. There may be exceptions, but they are rare.

None of these, however, is what popped into my mind in response to Pile's "young chick" crack. Though I know he was just kidding, what popped into my mind was actually quite serious.

Men and women have such different perceptions about age and appearance. Being on the Internet has been an eye opening and at times disheartening experience. What is very much apparent, both through reading endless intuitively obvious studies and the comments of male readers is that men of all ages pretty much universally prefer young women. Duh.

The reverse, however, is not true. Women do not prefer younger men. Very much the opposite is true, in fact.

Men and women value different things in each other. But paradoxically I am not always certain we reward the things we claim to value in our mates. I am always interested in what finding out what people think. Consequently I try to visit other sites and read the conversations there from time to time.

I don't know how much skew there is in the readership of some of the larger sites, but I've been dismayed at the tone of the comments at Dr. Helen's and Ace of Spades. I see an awful lot of what seems to me to be very angry, unhappy men coupled with a lot of female bashing. There are times when I don't see much difference between what goes on there and what goes on over at Pandagon where the men are all evil, all the time and the women all seem to be victims of some galactic conspiracy to chain them to their Easy Bake ovens and force them to deliver unwanted fetuses.

I suppose I don't see life that simply. I see a lot of systemic problems in modern society which mediate against happy marriages but I hardly think all of them can be the fault of shrill, shrieking feminazis or the overbearing, testosterone-laced Patriarchy. Maybe - just maybe - there is some room for individual responsibility here?

Maybe it takes two people to make a happy marriage: a man, and a woman. Both have to try. Both take a vow: till death do us part, not "Like ... until this gets so, last week.".

What I see, mostly, is a mutual lack of respect.

I think this is largely a function of modern society, but also of a failure to honor the vows we take on that one day we make such a tremendous deal over. We hold nothing sacred anymore, so perhaps it is hardly surprising that we have lost the ability for reverence in our private lives. But nowhere is this more necessary than in a marriage. The marriage vows say, "To love, honor, and cherish." I believe the honor part is essential to a happy marriage. In order for a couple to form a bond that withstands the stresses and strains of modern life, each partner must feel the other has placed them first: in a place of honor and respect that takes precedence over anyone outside the relationship.

Viewed through this lens, each sex's objections to certain things become more understandable. For instance, in reading Pile's 'young chick' joke, I immediately thought to myself, "Isn't that funny. Men do like younger women, but I'm hardly a younger woman. Haven't been for years."

Women, on the other hand, continue to find men attractive well into their fifties and even sixties. I often think of this when I'm getting ready to go out. I thought of it when reading an article in the WSJ this morning. It made me laugh:

My kid is playing Russian roulette with Creamsicles. He's seven, pushing eight, but he scarfs them down like he's got the arteries of a four-year-old. Then he rationalizes it all by boasting about his "HDL/LDL ratio" and his "fitness routine." Which is chasing the cat around the house 100 times.

Last week his doctor hoisted him up on the examining table and gave him a stern talking-to, complete with gruesome pictures of arterial plaques. In response, Harry noted that "a kid'll eat the middle of an Oreo first." But he knows he's whistling past the graveyard.

At least we got through the midlife crisis, which arrived like clockwork at Harry's fifth birthday party, where he licked the icing off 30 cupcakes, opened the piñata with my buzz saw and ran off with Meryl Braunsdorf for 15 minutes. That autumn in kindergarten, she wouldn't stop bothering him at nap time and left decapitated Steiff animals in his cubby hole when he tried to end things. At Thanksgiving he abstained from the pilgrims-and-Indians diorama project, calling it "scary" and "sad."

Now that he's getting slammed by the alternative minimum tax, though, all that seems quaint. He's been meeting with his accountant, Joey Scardino from next door. Scardino's the best, been handling tricky cases for most of his nine years, but from what I overheard of their working lunch at our kitchen table yesterday, it isn't going well.

HARRY (slurping): This milk is good and cold. Why are there bubbles?

SCARDINO (riffling through papers): Harry, you need to focus. I'm looking at accelerated depreciation here, I don't like your percentage depletion … bottom line, you're out of deductions. We're talking about a 26% rate.

HARRY (immersing cookie): How fast do you think it'll disintegrate?

SCARDINO (snatching briefcase and rising to leave): Harry, you're in denial. Call me when you're ready to deal with this.

I don't think he is ready to deal with it. It doesn't help that he's in a lot of pain with that torn rotator cuff, that and the itchy palms (his dermatologist says it's just dry skin but it's driving him crazy), plus a clicking he's started to notice in his jaw when he goes like this. He's been brooding a lot. Yesterday he snarled that if this $4 gas continues he's going to "go drilling in the damn Arctic Wildlife Refuge" himself.

"Dad?" he says, as I kneel by the school entrance to hug him goodbye. "You think Scardino'll get me out of this mess?

Whenever I go clothes shopping with my son, he or the sales clerk will bring me clothes and I invariably say, "That's too young for me - put it back."

And they say, "Nonsense. You don't look your age. Try it on." And I do. And it looks fine, and I buy it.

PUJL+15+(2).jpgI don't look my age, or at least what I remember as a child thinking someone my age should look like. Who does, these days? None of us does. My husband is proud of the fact that I've kept my weight down. I'm not beautiful, but I look OK... for my age. At my age, that is all I aspire to. And my husband likes me to dress nicely sometimes. Well, not like this exactly, but it is not so hard to dress like a woman instead of like some of those couples I see where I cannot tell which is the wife and which the husband.

The point of all this (and there is a point) is that sometimes I am struck by my own relative discomfort with all of this, but also by how much time men spend running down women who are "shallow" and "preoccupied with their appearance" while out of the other side of their mouths ostentatiously ogling pretty younger women and complaining that their wives have let themselves go. Do they ever wonder what their wives think of the mixed message?

I argue with Grim, sometimes, about why women spend so much time fixing themselves up? I would just as soon stake myself on an anthill as wear makeup and high heels and fussy clothes but the truth of the matter is that I look better with them on. Not to my next door neighbor, who doesn't give a rat's ass if I'm wearing a sundress and high heeled sandals, but to my husband. Because the truth of the matter is, the aesthetic I'm competing against, subconsciously, is that 19 year old supermodel with the cantilevered physique that often as not owes as much to the surgeons knife as to mother nature.

She's everywhere. Everywhere I look. And it's a competition that I don't stand a chance in hell of winning, and one that can often make me feel vaguely shamefaced. Truth be told, I'd rather be in shorts and a t-shirt. It would be feel more natural to me, and I'd be a hell of a lot more comfortable. But I'm competing with a million years of programmed biology, so I put my game face on and compete because I love my husband and I love to see that smile on his face when he comes home from work and I've taken his preferences into account, not mine.

But it's not just me. Feminists, of course, would tell me I'm "pandering" to the patriarchy. But isn't my husband "pandering" to me when he gets home from an exhausting day at work and makes boring conversation when what would be far more natural for him would be to zone out in front of the TV? There are times when it's pretty obvious that it - that I - take a lot out of him.

I don't think we're at all unusual. I see plenty of couples who do this, who accommodate each other. It's not difficult.
But what is also apparent is that increasingly, as with childbearing, a great many men and women can't be bothered to make the effort to accommodate each other, to place each other's needs above their own comfort zone.

I have no great desire to push my lifestyle, much my values, upon them. But what I wonder at is the bitterness, anger, and disappointment I keep seeing. As society and gender roles have changed, so have marriage and the demands of raising a family. But human nature and the basic truth that you get out of these endeavors what you put into them, haven't changed. The simple truth is still, after all these years, this: marriage is sometimes hard work. But it is still possible to be married, and to make marriage succeed.

The truth is that it is modern life which has gotten easier, and our tolerance for the work that is necessary to make marriages work that has changed. Another unpleasant truth may be that the erosion of our culture has eroded our will to work at institutions like marriage. As movie critic Pauline Kael learned to her sorrow after a lifetime of championing pop culture at the expense of craftsmanship, what we take for granted sometimes disappears altogether. Once the benefits are forgotten, the cost of producing what used to be the standard become unacceptably high:

Kael assumed she was safe to defend the choices of mass audiences because the old standards of taste would always be there. They were, after all, built into the culture. But those standards were swiftly eroding. Schrader argued that she and her admirers won the battle but lost the war. Acceptable taste became mass-audience taste, box-office receipts the ultimate measure of a film's worth, sometimes the only measure. Traditional, well-written movies without violence or special effects were pushed to the margins. "It was fun watching the applecart being upset," Schrader said, "but now where do we go for apples?"

...Not long before she died, Pauline Kael remarked to a friend, "When we championed trash culture we had no idea it would become the only culture." Who did?

And so it is with marriage. Will it the same thing happen, one day, with having children?

The birth rate among the Western nations suggests this may be so. And many of our "well educated" children whom we tried so hard to spare the pains we gladly suffered when we were young see no downside to all of this.

So much for progress. Or is it regress?

Posted by Cassandra at July 16, 2008 06:07 AM

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Brit is 65.

I had no idea.


Posted by: Pile On at July 16, 2008 12:59 PM

I am not 65.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 01:18 PM

I mean did you have any idea? He looks much younger, that is why I was surprised that he was retiring.

Posted by: Pile On at July 16, 2008 01:23 PM

While I don't find Brit Hume dreamy, I do like his straight ahead thoughtful approach to the news.

Journalism will slip yet another notch when he retires.

Posted by: Schnauzer at July 16, 2008 01:28 PM

The spousal unit thought that he had had some 'work' done. So did I. Given that he is a professional, I would not be surprised. He all of a sudden looked younger.

But no, I didn't know how old he was.

Posted by: The Pizza Slut at July 16, 2008 01:30 PM

Who knew my innocent little question would lead to such introspection and a lengthy post. Here is what I envisioned...

Pile: ...if you had talked to him, did you know that he would for him be talking to a much younger chick?

Cass: Well, I am not young and good looking like you Pile but no, I had no idea that Brit was that much older than me.

Pile: It's probably due to Oil of Olay.

Cass: Yep. Probably Oil of Olay.

Pile: Have a rest of the day now.

Cass: I will thanks.

Posted by: Pile On at July 16, 2008 01:53 PM

I want the lady in the portrait.

In the worst way!

I'll give her a diary entry she'll never forget! :-o

Get back in the kitchen woman! Methinks you're hallucinating again. Brit Hume is dreamy? Man! And you make fun of me 'cause I think Kate Capshaw is hot!

I'd say get barefoot and pregnant but well..... we're all kinda' pass that point now aren't we? Heh!

Age is relative. Relative to what ailment I have at any particular time! ;-)

Posted by: Neanderthal Man at July 16, 2008 01:54 PM

At least it didn't show up in your Inbox, Pile.

This way, you didn't have to respond to it. I probably shouldn't have posted it either, but when has that ever stopped me.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 02:06 PM

"As movie critic Pauline Kael learned to her sorrow after a lifetime of championing pop culture at the expense of craftsmanship, what we take for granted sometimes disappears altogether"...reminds me of this:

"It is often said that great achievement requires in one's formative years two teachers: a stern taskmaster who teaches the rules and an inspirational guru who teaches one to break the rules. But they must come in that order. Childhood training in Bach can prepare one to play free jazz and ballet instruction can prepare one to be a modern dancer, but it doe s not work the other way around. One cannot be liberated from fetters one has never worn; all one can do is to make pastiches of the liberations of others."

(Michael Lewis, an art professor, in the WSJ)

See also these thoughts by Stravinsky.

Posted by: david foster at July 16, 2008 02:23 PM

So much info, so little time, so I'll just start with one piece.

Because the truth of the matter is, the aesthetic I'm competing against, subconsciously, is that 19 year old supermodel with the cantilevered physique that often as not owes as much to the surgeons knife as to mother nature.

Uh, not really. You're not having to compete with anyone. You see, we don't really care if you are a size 2 or have perfectly sculpted eyebrowns. We really don't. What we care about is that you make the effort to please us visually. It's the effort that is important, not the outcome.

No moreso than the outcome is important when he tries to make you a candlelight dinner. So what if the candles dripped all over the table, the roast was overcooked, the potatoes undercooked and the veggies are cold? You appreciate the effort just the same.

And those that don't. Well, you're better off without them anyway.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2008 02:25 PM

What's a Pile? One of those young guys that drives those cute little foo-foo foreign cars? Wait a minute, I just remembered he stepped up to the ultimate manly man vehicle; the mini-van! ;-)

You talking to me or him? I'm confused. How unusual. Don't make me revive Captain Caveman or you'll really be in for it then!

You know, they say the memory is one of the first things to go in women! Right after gravity strikes!

So many personas - so little time! :-o

Posted by: Neanderthal Man at July 16, 2008 02:27 PM

Dang, there was something I was going to say but after reading this very, very, very long post, I forgot what it was I was going to say! Dang!

Oh well, Cassandra said it all anyway.


Posted by: DougW at July 16, 2008 02:32 PM

Well Yu-Ain, I understand that I am not expected to BE a 19 year old :p

It is that blessing that allows me to relax and enjoy the process, where I have talked to many women who adamantly refuse to even try (yeah, women discuss this stuff). My take is similar to yours - if I know someone likes chocolate cake, I don't bake a lemon meringue pie. But the bottom line is, what you are still aiming for is chocolate cake.

Perhaps compete is the wrong word. But in another sense, I think it is also right.

If you plan to stay married for any length of time, you are 'competing' against outside influences which could cause your marriage not to go so well.

Some of them might be other people, some of them might be societal (distractions which take time/effort from the relationship), etc. Not all of them are threats - some are good things which make you grow as a person so you don't bore each other to death. You can't cut your partner off from the outside world and expect them to thank you - you need fresh things to talk about. That's why I've never minded when the Unit deploys.

It's hard sometimes but after it's over we both have a fresh perspective on our separate lives and it sort of reenergizes our marriage.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 02:36 PM

So many personas - so little time!

You came to the right place to practice, anyway.

Posted by: BillT at July 16, 2008 02:38 PM

You came to the right place to practice, anyway.

Yeah buddy but I can't even pick a fight here anymore! :-o

I have never, ever considered TLB having to compete for anything to make our marriage work. It's that whole Venus and Mars thing I'm guessing. She may have been thinking that, actually may be doing so, but it would quite naturally be way above my comprehension. Almost on a separate plane of consciousness. If that is why she likes to look nice for me all I can say is it works! :-)

Y'all think about the weirdest stuff.

TLB - "What ya' thinkin' about Honey"

JHD - "Nuthin'!"

And it's a fact!

Men are simply geared to NOT think a certain way. It's a basic self-preservation instinct!

Posted by: JHD at July 16, 2008 03:06 PM

Huh? What?
Oh... Yeah, that's true enough.

Posted by: bthun at July 16, 2008 03:12 PM

It's very hard, when you've been in a difficult relationship for a long time, to figure out which of the things that bother you are specific to the person and which are common to the gender. I try not to generalize--but can't help observing that there are an awfully lot of relationships in which the guy is treated pretty badly by the woman.

This isn't a prejudice I started with or anything I ever wanted to believe. My parents had a very good marriage, and most of their friends seemed to, also. In those days, when things weren't going well, it seemed more common that it was the husband treating the wife obnoxiously. Now, the other way around.

Posted by: don at July 16, 2008 03:14 PM

Well, sometimes the way I use words is not the way you all use them. I don't think of it in that way (as in feeling insecure or in a win/lose way, the way men seem to see a lot of things). What JHD says rings fairly true to me from what I've read.

In fact, it rings very true (sad to say) from what I've read of marriages that fall apart. Which is not to say that *his* marriage is falling apart :) Not at all.

But what I've read was that in general, men assume (unless they are specifically informed to the contrary) that everything is fine. Silence is a sign that things are hunky dory. But that is not the case in a relationship, or with a woman. Usually silence is bad - a sign that she has given up. A happy woman is usually tinkering with the relationship to some extent, based on her personality, of course, and what is normal for her and the marriage.

Women assume that they need to put time and effort into maintaining personal relationships if they are important. IOW, like a car, a house, or any other important asset, marriages and relationships break down if you don't pay attention to them and if you don't make them a constant priority.

So in that sense your marriage 'competes' with your job, your hobbies, your friends, with every other thing in your life. That is what I meant.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 03:21 PM

It's very hard, when you've been in a difficult relationship for a long time, to figure out which of the things that bother you are specific to the person and which are common to the gender.

I imagine it is, especially if it has happened to you. The tendency would be to notice, especially, instances that match your own experience.

I think there has also been a bit of a power shift. Women used to behave badly in lower numbers, probably due to lack of opportunity. Now, men have been cowed by social pressure into behaving badly in lower numbers and more women are doing it. Still wrong - I agree.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 03:25 PM

Silence is BAD? Ruh-Roh! I'm in deep doo-doo then. We've been silent for over 30 years! Heh!

So that means when we snuggle, and yes, old people still snuggle, and just hang out watching the tube not saying anything that it's a BAD thing? This whole woman/man thing is soooo confusing.

Juuust teasin'! I understand what you are saying. Fortunately men have the unique ability to develop selective hearing! ;-)

When I read this post I actually thought it had two different meanings that in turn gave two different connotations. To me the definition of competition is literal. It involves sweating, beating up someone else, and winning. Your interpretaion of the word is not literal at all. It is inclusive and the competition is actually the tinkering. This is a GOOD thing. Once I got that the entire premise made a whole lot more sense. But damn woman, you make it hard for guys sometimes!

What you should really do is come up with a Venus and Mars dictionary. Talk about making a fortune! I know I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Sure would save a lot of cold hard nights on the couch for doing soemthing I had no idea I did! :-)

Or are we back to that whole "you need to get in touch with your feminine side" thing? I keep tellin' ya' I don't have one, never lost it, and don't know where to look for it!

Posted by: JHD at July 16, 2008 03:40 PM

I only really have my parent's example of marriage upon which to base my model of what marriage is. Thankfully, it's a very good example. When the Bride and I have disagreements or rough patches, I never am tempted to throw in the towel, if not just for my love for her, but because I made her a promise before my family and God. Mind you, I'm not a terribly religious person. But I do take that seriously. I stood up in front of about 60 people in a church and made a solemn vow to love, honor and cherish her. What kind of person would I be to break that?

It is funny how different men and women can be. Because of her illness, sometimes she worries about me (seeing as how she can't "compete" as you put it Cass). She's actually asked me why I didn't want "a better wife" . And to be 100% honest, that question would not have occurred to me. She is mine, I took her as my wife, and I'd do it all over again in a minute. In my mind she has no "competition" for my attentions, because she has no competition, none can compete. I am certainly aware that a lot of other guys are NOT like that, and they DO get the wandering eye. Sure I'll LOOK (who doesn't?), but I'm going home with her.

Posted by: MikeD at July 16, 2008 03:41 PM

Liar liar liar.

You are both beautiful *and* hawt.

Yer exterior's pretty nice, too.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at July 16, 2008 03:46 PM

OK, under that connotation of "compete" I can kinda see where you're coming from.

My take was that a 5 year old does not really compete with a trackstar even if they are running the same race. The 5 year old may be participating, but he ain't competing. And that it is the participation that matters to us.

And while it may be overly pedantic, I think it is a distinction that may need to be made. Especially given women's tendency to do outrageous things "in the pursuit of perfection" to try to find a mate. You can be overweight and have small boobs and still be attractive. You just can't do it in a sweatsuit 2 sizes too large. :-)

As for aiming to make chocolate cake: That is all well and good if you *have* chocolate. If you don't, and can't really get any, we're more than happy if you aim for the lemon meringue pie. So long as you are trying to aim at something. It's when you refuse to try anything that there is a problem. And that's the problem with the women you mentioned refusing to try. They think we want chocolate cake or nothing at all and that's far from being the case.

(BTW, that's why I'm being pedantic, you often hear this refusal as "I can't compete with *insert fantasy here*.")

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2008 03:46 PM

Yer exterior's pretty nice, too.

[slipping him a $100 bill]

And they said chivalry was dead :p

They think we want chocolate cake or nothing at all and that's far from being the case.

I read once, and continue to believe, that a sense of joy and a willing heart are the best aphrodesiacs known to man.

I think what guys don't realize, though, (just as women fail to realize this about men) is how easily we ladies can be hurt.

That is the single realization that comes home to me over and over when I read people's comments, male or female.

Men think women are awful, scheming harpies who belittle them and only want their money.

Women think men only want to use them for sex but don't care about them, or never listen to a word they say.

I think too often men and women just misunderstand each other, get hurt, and react angrily. As the saying goes, we only hurt the ones we love.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 04:20 PM

Men think women are awful, scheming harpies who belittle them and only want their money.

Women think men only want to use them for sex but don't care about them, or never listen to a word they say.

I don't know that I agree with this unless you're saying that these are the negative stereotypes that men have for women and vice versa (which I think is what you were aiming at). The number one source of disagreements I see amongst my married friends (most of whom are just starting their married lives) tend to be when the wife is evaluating the husband's actions as if he were another woman, and the husband expecting his wife to communicate as if she were a man. And the fact is, men do NOT behave like women, and women do NOT communicate like men. When your husband doesn't immediately notice you had a manicure or had your hair done (unless you got something major changed), it's NOT because he doesn't care about YOU, it's because he hasn't scrutinized you for changes in your appearance. And when your wife asks you to take out the garbage 'the next time you get up', that does NOT mean it's ok to finish watching those three TV shows and taking out the trash on your way to bed. It means take the trash out soon. The worst part for guys is that in the trash scenario, she'll ask that, he'll say yes (or grunt in acknowledgement), she'll get mad an hour later when the trash is still there but won't say so. IF he notices she's mad, he's GOING to ask why. This will make her MORE mad, because CLEARLY he should know. If he doesn't notice she's mad, she'll think he doesn't care why she's upset (which will make her more hurt and mad). And once she finally can't take it anymore and yells at him for it, he's not going to understand, because he hasn't gotten up yet. He's obeying the letter of her request. If a guy asked you to take it out 'the next time you get up', that is what he literally would have meant. If he had meant 'soon', he would have said so. It's the little things like this that cause problems. The wife sees this as evidence he doesn't care about her or what she wants. He sees this as her nagging him unreasonably about something that he's already agreed to do.


Posted by: MikeD at July 16, 2008 04:44 PM

Good Lord, you people think a lot about things other than cars and music and politics and religion and girls in tight sweaters.

Might I suggest that, for once, y'all take just a moment out of your busy busy-ness to draw deeply of life's unfathomable bounties?

Posted by: spd rdr at July 16, 2008 04:48 PM

I must not have read that correctly, surely no one would be so thick as to question my manhood based on a vehicle I don't own and then start talking about snuggling and referencing Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.

What was your favorite chapter of that book? Dude? :)

Posted by: Pile On at July 16, 2008 04:49 PM


We only think about those things every 8 seconds, we gotta think about something else during those other seven seconds. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2008 05:25 PM

4! The pictures on page 96 are really cool!

I was purposefully confusing you with Spd. Heh!

It took you awhile but I knew you'd come around! Spd still hasn't figured it out. But then he's always been kinda' slow hasn't he? Or possibly he just didn't want to publicly admit he drives a mini-van. :-o

I miss hanging around this place!

Posted by: JHD at July 16, 2008 05:27 PM

Some day, I will learn to just keep my big mouth shut.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 05:32 PM

If you do Cass, I would never forgive you.

Posted by: MikeD at July 16, 2008 05:34 PM

Some day, I will learn to just keep my big mouth shut.

Aw, what fun would that be? I swear I've learned more about womyns from reading your stuff here than I have in 30+ years of marriage!

That can't be all bad huh? :-o

Posted by: JHD at July 16, 2008 05:36 PM

I like being "kinda slow."

As in "long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. kinda slow.

Of course, I call that "baseball."

Posted by: spd rdr at July 16, 2008 05:36 PM


I'm pretty certain that Cass was referring to the negative stereotypes (especially the ones she referred to in the post from places like Dr. Helen and feminist sites)

Personally, I don't have much of a problem with the comments themselves. Women certainly have justifiable greivances against men for the general tendencies of male behavior (See Cass's recounting of an interview she went on in the last "Battle of the Sexes" post). Men do to. (See Rachel Lucas' post on HGTV). Complaints don't bother me.

Where I have a problem is that, generally speaking, men have tried to change the culture by altering their behavior (such as reluctance to get married) while women have, again only speaking generally, have tried to change the culture by changing the legal environment (such as making it very difficult for a father to get custody even if the mom a dirtbag).

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2008 05:49 PM

Well at least you didn't evoke Water World so it's all good. I ain't touching that baseball bait. Nope. Ain't agonna' do it! ;-)

So are you really a closet Annette fan? I always thought you had that Eric Von Zipper vibe thing goin' on. Cool! The Mouseketeers died when Britney and Christina left to move into the wider and wilder world. Well, the exposure moved anyhoo!

Making fun of the Mouseketeers. What's next? Roy Rogers and Trigger? Is there nothing sacred man? HA!

Posted by: JHD at July 16, 2008 05:56 PM

Oh, I agree. The law wasn't equitable prior.

A husband should not be able to hold a wife (who was largely a SAHM and had been all of her adult life) captive by threatening her with poverty.

But neither should a wife be able to hold a husband captive by threatening to take away his children.

This is not an improvement. The feminists, though, didn't care so long as it was women who came out ahead. (This is why most feminists aren't really about equity, but superiority. To make the point, would we call those who believe that whites and blacks are equal a "Blackist" or a "Negroist"?)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2008 06:34 PM

That was very kind of you, Mike.

But I do go on way too long, mostly about next to nothing. A point I ought to keep in mind more often.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 06:36 PM

Well, now that Cass went and dumped a previous comment, mine looks a little out of place.

To provide context, Cass had brought up the fact that laws around gender issues (specifically around divorce and property ownership) were not equitable prior to the feminist movement. Which is undoubtably true.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2008 06:40 PM

I'm sorry Yu-Ain.

I'm kind of tired and crabby and I didn't want to seem argumentative, so I just deleted the comment.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 06:43 PM

I didn't think you were argumentative at all.

In fact, I originally had that response as part of my original comment because I figured that objection would come up. I removed it because I figured I shouldn't go borrowing trouble.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2008 07:09 PM

The entire point of being a gentleman is to blind ourselves and others as to our true nature as contemptable rutting pigs.

And also to organize the exit of a sinking ship or crowded elevator.

Posted by: Mr. Oink at July 16, 2008 07:23 PM

Which has nothing to do with anything previously posted here, of course. It just dawned on me.

Posted by: Mr. Oink at July 16, 2008 07:27 PM

The reverse, however, is not true. Women do not prefer younger men.

Which sort of works out to everyone's advantage in the end.

Very much the opposite is true, in fact.

It'd be a weird world where women always dated younger men and men prefered to date younger women.

Men think women are awful, scheming harpies who belittle them and only want their money.

From reading comments from certain men at the sites and topics you have mentioned, Cass, I got the impression that some men found it an affront to their honor to stupe to the level of emotional psychology that is required in dealing with almost any individual on an intimate level.

Since the women they have met were superior at this emotional manipulation, for ill mostly, they found themselves in a state of weakness and inferiority and that both stung their pride as well as put them in an inferior rung of the social hierarchy both privately and externally. Thus they decided to forgo marriage because learning the tools of human psychology and human behavior, and how this changes in society or according to human action, was something they saw as only negative and hurtful to them.

But I do go on way too long, mostly about next to nothing. A point I ought to keep in mind more often.

In this place, it most isn't about the end destination than the journey.

I didn't want to seem argumentative

That's another thing that differs some men from many women.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 16, 2008 07:54 PM

I am not sure whether I agree with you, Mr. Pig, but then I am not a man and so I am not an expert on what it is like to be a man, or a gentleman.

I only know what I have seen during my life, and what I have tried to draw from my experiences. Of course I think too much, and I also tend to see the best in people. But I am also not a bad judge of them. So I submit this for your consideration:

I always thought the point of being a gentleman (or a lady) was twofold.

First, those habits act as a barrier between us and things we might otherwise do and later regret.

Secondly, as I said in my linked post from last March, not only does form follow function, but function follows form. IOW, our outward behavior often shapes our inward perception of reality. So if we chafe against our situation, we feel restless. And if we act miserable, we feel miserable.

Conversely, if we decide to act happy, we feel more content with our lot and if we treat others with courtesy and chivalry, we feel more kindly towards them.

My husband and I have often wondered why neither of our boys ever struggled or cried when they were small and had to go to the doctor. My oldest had his finger stitched with no anaesthesia - it took over half an hour - and he never uttered a single cry. He just turned his face to the wall. When the needle went in, his face turned bright red and he clenched his mouth, but not a cry escaped his lips.

We didn't teach him that. Where did it come from? My other son, too, was deathly afraid of doctors, but was similarly brave. I think it was some unspoken expectation they absorbed from us without a word ever passing between us. You cannot reason with a child that young. I still marvel at it.

So, as with the stiff upper lip, perhaps the function of acting like a lady or gentleman is not so much to hide our inner nature but to help us live up to our ideals?

Posted by: Cassandra at July 16, 2008 08:13 PM

Unfortunately, I had to refrain from commenting earlier today. I might read a post here or there while I work, but I don't want to be commenting, too...

Anyhow, I think there is much validity to what Cass had to say in her post. When I was younger, I never imagined that I would still be single at this point in my life. I didn't date in high school (not that I wasn't asked out; there were just no actual romantic relationships back then). In my college years, I did date some, but again, nothing serious. Post-college, I tried a long distance relationship that just didn't go anywhere, and years later, when that guy called me up out of the blue, I realized I'd likely dodged a bullet as far as that went. But, there has been a very long stretch of nothing. I am no longer young and thin. And, it seems the men I know that are around my age and unattached aren't interested in me, as I am now.

I am 10.5 and 14.5 years older than my two sisters. The oldest sister is dating a man six months younger than me. The youngest sister just started dating someone who (although I'm not sure of his exact age) is likely closer to my age than my sister's. Since moving back to Texas, I've not developed a new circle of my own friends, so I have spent time with my sisters and their friends. Beyond my sisters' boyfriends are their other male friends. I know one is not much older than me (maybe 6 months), and another is also 30-something (the new boyfriend of the youngest sister being a friend of one of these guys, btw). Neither of them seems to have any interest in me. When I am out and about with my sisters, they are the ones who get the ogling and get hit on. When it comes to that "first impression", at least, it seems that men are more interested in the package you come in than anything else. I like to think that, although I'm not as thin as I would like to be (I'm working on that), I still take care with my appearance when I go out, so it's not like I'm wearing "a sweatsuit 2 sizes too large". I know there are guys out there who aren't so superficial, who will be interested in WHO I am and accept whatever package that comes in, but I've not found one off-line, at any rate.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at July 16, 2008 10:05 PM

A true gentleman would never pepper the pot without leave of the cook, even if only to season the discussion. I apologize for the former, freely admit to the latter, and thereby exclude myself from such a lofty distinction.

But then nobody ever had to actually tell me not to step on a woman's toes.

Posted by: Mr. Oink at July 16, 2008 10:06 PM

Fascinating discussion (both post and comments)...

And while it may be overly pedantic, I think it is a distinction that may need to be made...You can be overweight and have small boobs and still be attractive. You just can't do it in a sweatsuit 2 sizes too large.

HuH? Perhaps it is the hour, but I'm not sure I'm understanding. Would you be so kind as too expand on the point a bit?

As for aiming to make chocolate cake: That is all well and good if you *have* chocolate...And that's the problem with the women you mentioned refusing to try. They think we want chocolate cake or nothing at all and that's far from being the case.

Huh? Again, fascinating. I know when I look at people who have been happily married awhile and are neither as young or pretty or thin as they once were, I see that they still love and desire each other. And I can understand why--they share so much and such a bond that (as long as they stay within certain perameters) the appearance issues are lower on the list.

But does this really apply outside of long-term marriages or relationships? It seems to me that when free to choose from the buffet, the priorities would shift very quickly. I would love to hear your thoughts on this... And beyond that, isn't a man who settles for lemon meringue "just taking what he can get" while all the time wishing it was chocolate instead? How can that be satisfying?

And finally:

I think what guys don't realize, though, (just as women fail to realize this about men) is how easily we ladies can be hurt.

*ding ding ding ding!* If there are so many guys out there who find women sexy whether they are chocolate cake or lemon meringue, they are much to quiet about it. :)

Posted by: FbL at July 17, 2008 03:37 AM

My dear Mr. Oink:

It has come to our attention (never mind how) that a high ranking patriarch of the Prestigious Phalanx of Paternal Porcines has been engaging in what we can only deem most unpiglike behavior. During the long and proud history of our kind, pigs have been known to grunt monosyllabicly, root about, wallow in mud, and generally make pigs of themselves (usually on SuperBowl weekend). Humans are often admonished not to wrestle with us, and this is wise: they only get dirty and we enjoy it.

Pigs have aptly called "rude". Some of our membership have even been known, on rare occasions, to fly.

The one thing no self respecting pig does, my dear Mr. Oink, is apologize. THIS, SIR, IS INTOLERABLE.

We must insist that you cease this highly offensive and unporcine behavior AT ONCE or we shall be forced to pull your card.

That is all.

Posted by: Oinkitude, Inc., LLC, P.A., etc. at July 17, 2008 05:49 AM


I'd like to take a swat at that one even though I'm a woman, because it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately and I'd like to try out my theory and see what the guys have to say about it.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 17, 2008 05:59 AM

I think in a perfect world when we look for a mate (whether for a one night stand or permanent partner) both men and women are going to try - in a free market - for the best looking person they can reasonably attract.

I say that, because many people (like me) if they're interested in a long term relationship, intuitively realize that looks aren't everything and balance matters. IOW, if you are so infatuated with a guy that it blinds you to everything else, you will do dumb things to keep him and it will not bring out the best qualities in him either. Also, you don't love "him". You love the way he looks. This is infatuation, not the kind of love that lasts. I had this one figured out by the time I was about 13, after breaking with a really cute guy.

I broke up with him b/c I realized I liked him for his looks, not his personality. He was a nice guy, but he wasn't the world's smartest person and had he not been so cute, I would never have spent more than 5 minutes talking to him. I was ashamed of myself for falling for him, but even after realizing this, I had a terrible time getting him off my mind b/c I was so infatuated. But if a 13 year old girl can figure this stuff out, it really isn't rocket science.

From talking to most of my male friends, I'm not sure they analyze things that much, but guys are very pragmatic about relationships. Far more so, I think, than women are. Most guys, for instance, make the mental distinction between the hottie you'd like to take on a weekend to Acapulco and the woman you take home to meet Mom and marry. The point is: they are not necessarily the same woman and while looks/sexiness would be the first priority for the weekend on the beach, they are not the primary criterion for the woman they ask to marry.

This is going to be a long comment, so I'm going to post it in parts.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 17, 2008 06:16 AM

I'm afraid I can't confess to any pragamatism on that score. I just got lucky. :)

Posted by: Grim at July 17, 2008 08:58 AM

"they are not necessarily the same woman and while looks/sexiness would be the first priority for the weekend on the beach, they are not the primary criterion for the woman they ask to marry"...but for women, looks are less important than for men--not saying unimportant, but less in the scheme of things. And women DO tend to be physically attracted by status & money, especially the former, even when they're not consciously gold-digging. That's why ugly rock stars can get all the women they want.

Status & money are also major female criteria for LONG-TERM relationships.

So, maybe for women the male attributes needed for the hot one-night stand aren't all that different needed for something long-term.

Posted by: don at July 17, 2008 12:41 PM

I got married young, but I can honestly say I didn't even consider money/earning power. It just didn't signify. But other women have told me they do consider it as one of many factors.

Status may well be a different thing. That is probably important in that I think people need to be of roughly the same intelligence, social standing, and even what I'd call maybe aggressiveness to get along. If there is too great a disparity it will lead to conflict. Being evenly matched helps a relationship.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 17, 2008 12:46 PM

No problem. Since there are a couple of questions I'll deal with them seperately.

And while it may be overly pedantic, I think it is a distinction that may need to be made...You can be overweight and have small boobs and still be attractive. You just can't do it in a sweatsuit 2 sizes too large.

There are actually two different statments here. The first deals with the context of 'Competing'. The second deals with how successful you can be by simply participating.

Before the second can really be understood, you have to understand the distinction between Cass' use of 'compete' and mine.

While Cass' use would included the struggles of dealing with work, play, children, annoying neighbors who have rather "Westboro Baptist" type ideas about spousal relations and otherwise just life, I think this is perhaps too broad of a definition in this type of discussion.

When women talk of not 'competing' with models and actresses with regards to looks I don't think they mean they can't get a guy to talk with them because they can't get the guy to stop staring at the cover of Cosmo. What they mean is that they are not and can not reasonably become "in the same class as" the model on the physical attractiveness scale.

And so I think there should be a distiction made between, say "competing priorities" and "competing for the Gold Medal".

With that background in place, I use the "in the same class as" definition of compete.

And I have good news. You are not expected to compete with supermodels (and guys who do expect it aren't worth it anyway).

Here's a shocker, "model class" women are probably less than 1% of the population and the vast majority of guys aren't married to them. Additionally, there's the old quip "For every beautiful girl, there is some guy who is tired of her $h!t."

You see, despite appearences sometime, we do understand the difference between fantasy and reality. By way of analogy, this car is really beautiful. But at 6'2" and 260lbs it would be uncomfortable to sit in, has no room do deal with my stuff and completely unsuitable for my lifestyle. It may be nice to look at, (and if anyone were to ever let me test drive it, I'd be all over it) but there's no way I'm ever buying one.

And so it is with women. That model might be nice to look at, but she likely doesn't have 2 brain cells to rub together to stay warm, her idea of enjoying food is getting to taste that one tic-tac on both it's way down and back up, and couldn't care less that you had a stressful day at work, SHE BROKE A NAIL!!!!

We may put up with it for a test-drive, but we ain't buyin'.

That being said, looks aren't irrelevant either. We are visual creatures.

But you wouldn't accept it from a guy who took the attitude "I can't compete with the Casanova image put out by Hallmark, Hollywood and the Jewelry industry so I'm just gonna sit on this couch, have a beer while I belch and scratch myself and any women is just going to have to accept me as I am".

Neither do we like "I can't compete with the supermodel, so I'm going to put on a pair of scrubs, some shoes so sensible they could file your taxes for you, and put my hair in a bun and any guy is just going to have to accept me as I am".

You want us to put forth the effort to be romantic, even if the attempt is clumsy and awkward. Even if he will never be as witty as the actor with an entire team of writers thinking up the exactly right words to say at exactly the right time, you still want him to try to please you by making the effort to do as much as he can.

We ask no more from you when it comes to looks.
We don't care if you will never be as thin and toned as the actress with an entire team of workout trainers and fashion coordinators (and airbrush artists) thinking up exactly the right excersize routine and exactly the right dress to wear. But we would like you to make the attempt to look as good as you can.

In both cases it is not the success at becoming a Casanova or having a model's figure, but the attempt and effort it takes to please the other that is the turn on.

It's rather long already, so I'll come back to the others in another comment.

*Yes, I know. It's really median. Stop being so damned technical. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 17, 2008 02:17 PM

Next, and I'll try to keep this one shorter:

As for aiming to make chocolate cake: That is all well and good if you *have* chocolate...And that's the problem with the women you mentioned refusing to try. They think we want chocolate cake or nothing at all and that's far from being the case.

You ask if the man who accepts the pie is settling and would be secretly unhappy/resentful. That would be the case if what the man was truly looking for was cake. But I contend is that what most men (and women) are truly looking for is the willingness to please their partner to the best of their ability. If pie is the best of your ability, then my dear, that is spectacular.

As for whether it applies more to married men than single. I would say yes, but not for the reasons you might think.

You find it more in married men not because being in a long term relationship made them that way, but because men with that attitude are more likely to desire marriage. A guy who simply wants a trophy is not really in the marriage market to start with.

Oh, and as for men who aren't really letting it on that they might find you attractive, one might say the same thing about women. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 17, 2008 02:56 PM

...as for men who aren't really letting it on that they might find you attractive, one might say the same thing about women.

She might not be too thrilled at *that* prospect, Yu-Ain...

Posted by: BillT at July 17, 2008 03:22 PM

*rummage, rummage, rummage*
Now where did I put that dang heliflopter gremlin, I know it's in here somewhere.
*rummage, rummage, rummage*

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 17, 2008 03:39 PM

"...as for men who aren't really letting it on that they might find you attractive, one might say the same thing about women."

And my attempt to comment is denied for questionable content? Not that there is anything wrong with that... =8^}

Posted by: bthun at July 17, 2008 04:09 PM

That is probably important in that I think people need to be of roughly the same intelligence, social standing, and even what I'd call maybe aggressiveness to get along. If there is too great a disparity it will lead to conflict.

Yeah, nothing's better for preventing conflict than a couple of really aggressive people. :)

Posted by: Grim at July 17, 2008 05:04 PM

Yes, Grim, nothing is better for preventing conflict than a couple of really aggressive people.

So long as both;
1. Are overtly aggressive, or have a propensity towards overt aggressiveness
2. Know this propensity is mutual
3. Have a large degree of impulse control
4. Do not like violence in the abstract

then both parties will exert to their utmost not to blow situations beyond proportion because they know it will lead to a bash-up. And here is where the male/female difference comes in; a good bash-up between two men can result in a good long friendship. It does not happen all the time, but it is an acceptable and not uncommon outcome. A man and a woman having a go at each other sounds a great deal more unpleasant and against societal mores.

A thought for Cassandra; a man works for his family. This has been so ever since God kicked Adam and Eve out for doing the naughty. It's just that in the past, this took a long, long time and a great deal of effort, so much so that the whole family worked for the whole family. The commons never really had much time for the higher levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs; they were very busy trying to fill the bottom level for anything else.

Now, though, a large chunk of the upper 'class' have got plenty of time to 'self-actualise'. And when a man looks at the prospect of getting a wife who not only does not work for the family, but is likely to parasitise on his work (alimony) as well as deprive him of his family (custody), it probably seems very logical not to embark on the journey in the first place.

Now, this is not the way I think. I am still steeped in an Asian culture, where divorce is very frowned upon and marriages still last a lifetime. It is part of my life's plan to grow up (somehow), marry, have kids and do the whole serene domesticity/retirement thing. But I look at the way certain parts of the USA are portrayed, not only in pop culture but through the comments of ordinary folk (like the ones on Kim du Toit's blog, for instance), and well, I can see why men would do this particular costs/benefits analysis.

Posted by: Gregory at July 17, 2008 08:11 PM

I have to agree with FbL, re: chocolate cake v. lemon meringue pie. Might work if you're already in a serious relationship. But, if you're not in that LTR, I don't think it carries. If he wants chocolate pie, but you are lemon meringue, he might not give you a chance. Both are desserts, but they are quite different. You'd have a better chance attracting Mr. Chocolate Cake if you were say, a chocolate chip cookie, or maybe a chocolate cream pie. Speaking for me, if my choice is lemon meringue or nothing, I'll go with nothing, if what I really want is chocolate cake.

I'm willing to make certain compromises off what I might consider my "ideal man", but certain things will be deal-breakers. If he's not chocolate cake, but maybe chocolate pie, chocolate ice cream or a chocolate chip cookie, that's one thing, but lemon meringue just isn't in the same league. For me, not being a great looking guy isn't a deal-breaker. From my experience, looks seems a lot higher on the "deal-breaker" list for guys before any potential relationship even gets a chance to start.

And, I know someone above said something about women being more concerned with a man's status/wealth. I'm only concerned to the point where he has a history of gainful employment and is financially responsible, and I'm not looking for a doctor or a lawyer or some other "high status" career. I guess my point is, I'm not the stereotypical female looking for some man to take care of me the rest of my life. I guess I want a not-stereotypical man (though a "real man" as was discussed in one of Cass' recent posts) who will want 30-something me, and not be really wishing for someone like my 20-something sisters...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at July 17, 2008 08:44 PM

Most of the time I like to just read what's going on, and I really like Cass's writing style from a conservative point of view. I agree with your point Cass that a Husband and Wife need to work at a marriage. But because my wife has a habit of being critical, ALL THE TIME, I have chosen to ellavate HER, to the CEO of our relationship. Guys, this has paid dividends down the road. As she see's me going out of my way to please Her in every way, SHE does the same for me. I have made it my goal, to live up to my marriage vowes too, I forgot who said it, and have also told myself that divorce is not an opption for our marriage. I will gooooooooooooooooo to the ends of the earth to please her. I'm 65 and she is 64. Thanks Cass and good luck guys.

Posted by: Dennis frieboes at July 17, 2008 10:47 PM

This just gets more and more interesting.

I think that in discussing the role/importance of physical attraction and comparisons to a supposed ideal in this conversation, we're talking about 1) The role/importance in a longterm relationship, and 2) the role/importance in initial attractions.

Question is... are the roles/importance different in each of those two situations? And if so, how does someone who is at a physical disadvantage move from the situation 2 to situation 1? (you never get to 1 if you can't get past 2) And how does love figure into it all?--i.e. rose-colored glasses such as in the case of the man who adores his very plain wife and thinks she is gorgeous (did he always think so? Was she ever gorgeous? Did he decide she was so when something else about her lit the spark for him?).

I have more to say on it, but it's time to sleep, so I'll come back to it tomorrow.

This is all something I've long puzzled over--the relationship between physical attraction and love. I suppose it would make more sense to me if I had more applicable experience to draw on--I've known deep and genuine love and I've known romance/attraction/desire, but never in the same relationship. So I've never really experienced the interaction between these two aspects of bonding. As of now it's all a fascinating and seemingly contradictory riddle. ;)

Posted by: FbL at July 18, 2008 01:33 AM

Women do not prefer younger men.

Then why haven't I been getting more phone calls?

*catching sight of reflection in window*

Never mind.

Posted by: BillT at July 18, 2008 03:42 AM

Yeah, nothing's better for preventing conflict than a couple of really aggressive people. :)

Well, it works for the Special Forces and Marines.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 18, 2008 04:16 AM

When they're both on *your* side, anyway...

Posted by: BillT at July 18, 2008 05:09 AM


In my experience, they way most successful couples get to situation 1 is not through situation 2.

The kind of person that walks up to a stranger (or near stranger) and hits on them likely does not have long term plans in mind. How could he? He would have no way of knowing if you were the sweetest girl in the world or a cast iron bitch. But that doesn't matter, he's not concerned about much past tonight. If next week/month happens, that's OK, but that's not the goal. It is these guys who are more likely to only want chocolate cake, as it were.

So how do you get to 1 without 2?

Why do so many relationships form in highschool and college? Because you have similarly interested people who interact and get to learn about the other person first. Asking them out comes later. So often, the "initial" attraction isn't quite so initial. There is some level of relationship that exists first. It is this second group that is more likely to care more about the effort to make lemon meringe pie than actually getting chocolate cake.

And perhaps regressing a bit, but here is a concrete example of what I'm where I'm going. It's by no means perfect, just a relative example. (and you peoples better be appreciative, I loathe looking for makeover pictures :-) ).

There ain't no chocolate cake here, tough.

Lemon Meringue Pie.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 18, 2008 10:25 AM


I definitely look better than your example of "not chocolate cake". But it can take a bit of cash to get that kind of makeover advice, and to fund a decent wardrobe. Men, I think, have it much easier in that department: underwear, pants, shirt, shoes. Women? panties, bras, maybe pantyhose, shirts/blouses, pants/skirts, dresses, shoes (do you go for something you can actually walk (or drive) in, or do you go with what makes your feet and legs look good, regardless of comfort? And, for a woman like me, often times, if an article of clothing "fits" one part of you, it likely doesn't "fit" another, so it just doesn't work. For a woman who doesn't have a "normal" body (regardless of what size she is - I had certain probably back when I was skinny, too), shopping for clothes can be a particularly frustrating and depressing endeavor... Now, since I took the afternoon off to get new tires (ouch, that hurt the wallet...), I'm off to go do some of that potentially harmful shopping...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at July 18, 2008 03:43 PM

Hmm, let me try something here. Let's take this out of the dating realm and move this to a much more neutral setting.

Imagine you're hiring a new employee, and two show up for interviews. They're both equally qualified, similar resumes. But one shows up in jacket and tie, and the other in jeans and a t-shirt. Which one is more likely to get the job?

It's not that the one in the jacket and tie is a better person than the t-shirt dude, or even is more qualified. But the former put forth the effort to make the impression. The jacket and tie might never get seen again, but on the time when it mattered, the jacket and tie was on. The effort was made. And I think that's where Yu was going.

Posted by: MikeD at July 18, 2008 03:57 PM

That was very kind of you, Mike.

But I do go on way too long, mostly about next to nothing. A point I ought to keep in mind more often.

And you don't think we enjoy it? I was not merely being kind (ok, I was, but not just for the sake of kindness). I actively enjoy coming here and reading what you and the Company have to say on a broad variety of topics.

Some of the most interesting discussions have come about because of what amounted to "next to nothing". It's almost like brainstorming or free association. You find topics to discuss come from something unrelated to the original post, and especially around this crew, something interesting inevitably comes forth.

Posted by: MikeD at July 18, 2008 04:00 PM

Men, I think, have it much easier in that department: underwear, pants, shirt, shoes.

No man can be properly dressed without a good hat.

Posted by: Grim at July 18, 2008 04:07 PM

Sadly Grim, I've got 'one of those' heads, and I've never found a hat that suits it. Thus, I guess I shall remain improperly dressed.

Posted by: MikeD at July 18, 2008 05:18 PM

Miss Ladybug,

The issue of a multi-thousand dollar makeover is one of the reasons I put in the caveats. I simply needed a before/after comparison of a person that was not a stick-chick to start with and that was the first one I found.

I just wanted to put a concrete example out for my assertion that someone who certainly could not "compete" with a model's figure can still be attractive. Does it take more effort? Certainly.

But I'm not naturally demonstratively affectionate, so it takes more effort for me to do that. But I try harder.™ :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 18, 2008 05:19 PM

Yeah, I've been looking for a "real" hat (as opposed to baseball hats) for a while and everything I've looked at makes me look like Charlie Brown.

Any help would be appreciated.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 18, 2008 06:07 PM


For the circles I more recently have traveled in, the only "hats" the guys wear are ball caps. Dad always had the ones that went with his various uniforms, but he's been retired now for almost 17 years. Only one cousin ever wears a cowboy hat, so that was not something that came to mind. And, I've thought the men I see out at the baseball games wearing cowboys hats (especially the one guy also wearing shorts & a tank top) looked kinda silly in that settings :-p

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at July 18, 2008 06:22 PM


I'm not sure what you're getting at here:

But I'm not naturally demonstratively affectionate, so it takes more effort for me to do that. But I try harder.™ :-)

Anyhow, I was only partially successful with my shopping this afternoon. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find Lemon Meringue attire when you aren't Chocolate Cake, and won't be any time soon.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at July 18, 2008 06:27 PM


Find a good, beaver hat that seems slightly too small. Put a kettle on the stove, and steam it all around the outside of the band. Put it on your head while it is hot (though not so hot as to burn your skin), work it around so it fits comfortably, and let it cool while you wear it.

It will fit.


Ball caps are for boys. :)

Posted by: Grim at July 18, 2008 07:39 PM

Tell that to my Dad... Of course, he is one of the assistant coaches for the high school baseball team. Or my sister's boyfriend, who plays softball on teams that go to tournaments and place, and sometimes even win. And, I think Dad (and J) would both look silly in a cowboy hat...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at July 18, 2008 07:57 PM

"Ball caps are for boys. :)"
Now Grim, you know good and well that in our neck of the woods, there are a lot of good old fellows who might think otherwise. =8^} Why a Georgia Bulldogs, Atlanta Braves, Realtree or Mossy Oak camo, Massey Ferguson, CAT, Red Man, Shooting Times, Hot Rod, etc. are all badges of honor displayed upon a ball cap cover.

Not to mention those niche market Joe Dirt special edition Mullet equipped ball caps. Why they are a perennial southern fashion statement.

I find that I only wear my cowboy hats on special occasions, horses and live stock having slipped into my past. Otherwise it's a Poncho-n-Lefty straw hat, a felt fedora if formality requires, or a ball cap if outdoors toil and sweat is the order of the day. The right tool for the job at hand. =8^}

Posted by: bthun at July 18, 2008 08:02 PM

Hey! It's Friday.

It's five o'clock somewhere.

And the thought of my fashionably chic, albeit rode-hard-put-up-wet Poncho straw hat, à la Poncho and Lefty, fired off a synaptic stimulation which led me to this tune for the Friday toast.

So, a toast to our folks in uniform and to their support staff... doing what they have to do. Thank you.

Posted by: bthun at July 18, 2008 10:34 PM

This has been the best conversation! I've been watching it all week. Very insightful and I have my two cents to put in.

Being a sparrow, as most people are, I dress just fine and consider myself a blank canvas when dressing and fixing my hair, etc. However, the most important thing I accessorize myself with is a fiery smile.

It works even when my best friend Jen and her husband drag me to La Hacienda Ranch for steaks just after I've been re-upholstering Jen's kitchen chairs in the July heat, and there were no clean clothes to change into. Scotty boy was in such a hurry to eat he wouldn't even let me take a spit bath.

We ran into a guy (LWB) I've been interested in for months now and there I was with sweaty hair, streaky makeup, and I'm sure I smelled like a goat. Well, I couldn't help myself and I smiled real big when I saw LWB. He was with some other friends and when they finished their dinner he came up behind me, smooched my sweaty neck, and asked me out for last night.

I hadn't spent anytime with LWB before last night, I had just seen him around some of my social circle. We boot scooted all night in Fort Worth, and I'm heading out for a show with him this afternoon.

Ladybug, you already have everything you need to make chocolate cake. Fire up the oven and make that cake, it's all there within you. Everything else is just decoration, and if you can't express yourself with a smile, your nod, and the glint in your eye to catch his attention, then nice clothes won't help you attract someone.

What's your best physical feature Ladybug? Even if it's your ankles, find a way to accent that feature and use it to attract a man. I have pretty good eyes that I can fire up with just a little makeup and my big honkin'smile. Works like a charm both in business and socially. You have one of those attributes too. Find it and use it to attract someone.


Posted by: Samantha West at July 20, 2008 01:33 PM

Miss Ladybug,

Don't know if you're still hanging around this thread, but...

What I was trying to get at is that everyone has areas where they have to put in more effort than others to attract a mate.

Yours may be finding clothes that fit properly, mine is being overly stoic.

So, because we are not #1, We Try Harder.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 23, 2008 05:49 PM