Friday, April 10, 2015

Country Fried Dating

A friend of mine from high school recently posted a link on Facebook to this article on "10 Traditional Dating Rules We Need To Bring Back."

Which reinforced for me that Facebook is a place where I maintain year's defunct relationships just for the occasional opportunity to find things like this to hate on. (Technically my secondary use of Facebook. I primarily use it as an awkward dumping ground for new acquaintances who I don't like enough to give my phone number to, but still want some means of contact. Thirdly, I use it to keep in contact with people I actually care about. *hi, bestie!*)

In any case, sometimes people I know on Facebook will post incredibly dumb relationship things and then I get to bring them here and fisk them for my enjoyment. Congratulations, you've all won tickets to be along for the ride as well.

First, the article is from a site called Country Outfitter. Which makes me think maybe it's a clothing store dispensing dating advice? Except instead of selling tit curtains and T-shirts with indie graphics, Country Outfitter would deal exclusively in gingham, denim, and truck nuts. (Seriously, the girl in the picture for this article is wearing an American flag tank top.)

For brevity, I'll skip the intro to the article and go straight to the rules themselves. There's an interesting mix. Some of them are actually helpful advice. Most of them are ridiculously backwards "shoulds" that have an undertone of technology apprehensiveness.

1. The guy always calls the girl. The girl never calls the guy.

I distinctly remember how angry my mom would get when flirty junior high girls called to talk to my cute 7th grade brother. She'd give them a short dating etiquette lesson that ended with her abruptly hanging up the phone. (Of course, this was back when girls had to actually call the "house phone" - a word I have had to teach my sons). Girls, make the guy call you, not the other way around. If a guy really likes you, he will call. If he doesn't have the guts to dial seven numbers and say, "hello," then he's not worth dating.

A landline phone?!!! What is this, the eighteen hundreds?

Seriously - this completely discounts any form of romantic autonomy. Women can be interested in men, but they should never ever initiate any contact. I also like how it's not explained how women are supposed to "make" a guy call them.

2. Guys need to call it a "date" and make their intentions known.

This is one of those that, in theory, makes total sense. Yes, if you want to "date," say that word. (Although, of course, I'm going to advocate that you explain what exactly you mean by "date," but that's just me being a stickler.) 

However, it's still entirely on the man to establish exactly what the expectations and timbre of the relationship are going to be. The woman's still just sort of along for the ride, not talking or expressing any opinion.

Then we get to this gem:

Dating just for fun is great for high school kids, but not so great for those 20 and 30 somethings who are ready to get married, so just keep your intentions clear and you can avoid all the awkwardness and ambiguity of "hanging out."

Hear that, 20 and 30 somethings? Your priorities are totally different and you just need to accept that. As if it wasn't difficult enough to keep track of your romantic priorities based on your gender, now you also have age to consider. 

3. Guys always go to the door to pick up their dates.

Guys should always go to the door to pick up their date, preferably with flowers in hand. This way the guy can introduce himself to his date's parents, giving her father a firm handshake, allowing him to say a few words about "shotguns" and "shallow graves." (This, is, of course, assuming she lives with her parents.)

It's parenthetical because, of course, she still lives with her parents. Who the hell else is supposed to restrain and handle this unwieldy female creature before she finds a suitable husband? I also really appreciate the grammar in this rule, as it's unclear if the father or the suitor is the one making jokes about shotguns and shallow graves. 

4. Dress nicely for a date.

Girls have no problem with this. They try on five different outfits and spend hours planning what they will wear, but guys, please take a shower. Put on deodorant and a nice (clean) shirt and jeans, (maybe even some cologne).

As an incentive for the type of guys who would read this article to shower:

5. Guys - pay for the date. Girls - don't order a salad.

This is a non-negotiable, especially for a first date.

I considered copying the rest of this rule (it does elaborate), but I'll save you all the headache. All that matters is that of all ten rules, this is the only one that is an absolute commandment. The tl;dr on why is because guys shouldn't ask for a date if they can't afford it (maybe "hanging out" is cheaper? But you're only allowed to do that until you hit 20) and because guys will be offended if you try to be a "cheap" date and order salad. Moral of the story is everything is still completely about the man's perspective, even when it comes to dietary preferences. (Also, has the person that wrote this article been to a restaurant recently? Actual entrée salads are some of the priciest things on the menu.)

6. Don't forget basic manners.

Guys should open car doors (and all other doors)...

7. Give your date your full attention.

This is one of those I don't have any major arguments against. They do play that fun game again where you're supposed to be simultaneously honest about your feelings but also not.

Don't act bored or disinterested (even if you are).

Spoilers: rule 9 tells women that they should be honest if they're not interested in a second date. Which is understandably confusing if they've spent the entire first date pretending that they're invested.

8. Walk your date to the door, and make sure she's home on time.

There is no better way to make your date's parents question your integrity than by breaking their rules.

Because, again, the idea that she'd be living on her own (even in her 20s or 30s) is laughable.

9. If a girl isn't interested in a second date, she should let the guy know.

Already briefly covered up at rule 7. Good advice unless you take into account all the other garbage in this article that tells women to be as coy and passive as possible. It's unclear how a woman is supposed to speak her mind and say she's not interested in a second date when the previous 8 rules all told her to just shut up and enjoy being wanted. 

Of the few rules in this list that are aimed at how women are supposed to behave on a date (rule 4: getting ready, which is "no problem." Rule 5: "no salads"), this one joins the ranks as ultimately being about the guy. 

...You don't want to hurt his feelings.

I imagine the let-down this article is envisioning comes with a lot of apologies on the part of the woman. 

10. Kindness, respect, and honesty go a long way!

Yes, yes they do. In fact, let's just make this Rule 1 and pretend the rest of this article never even existed.

Got that hate hate hate hate hate

Today, on the way home from work, I noticed a car with this bumper sticker:

Note: not a photo of the actual car. Because besides the No Zones, I also remember from Driver's Ed how we learned not to try and take photos while driving at 60mph. Luckily, images exist online of this atrocity of a sticker. Good news: this stupid thing is also available to be emblazoned on your laptop, coffee cup, or T-shirt. Advertise at every moment how maybe, just maybe, you don't really understand what a horcrux is. Although I guess it's also possible that the people who buy this kind of stuff also have a secret penchant for having their things destroyed by basilisk fangs. Who am I to judge?

I try my best to not nerd hate. Community in-fighting just creates problems, and dueling fandoms is problematic. But I absolutely hate stuff like this. The, "omg it's that thing from the thing!" It's the entire reason people keep recommending Big Bang Theory to me, and the entire reason I continue to refuse to watch it. "You like all that nerdy stuff." Yes, yes I do. But I like the nerdy stuff because it gives me something to think about, and talk with other people about. But from what I've seen of Bingo Boingo Time, it's all hand-fed bullshit. The kind of references that allow people to shut off their brains and just point at the TV whenever somebody has a Tom Baker scarf on and moistly yell, "I get that reference!"

I don't give a shit if somebody can't name all the actors who've played Dr. Who. Or if somebody's only seen a few episodes of Adventure Time or Game of Thrones. Or whether somebody's read the comic as well as seen the movie (of any franchise). I don't need anybody to be able to recite all seven books of Harry Potter from memory. Whatever thing you're into, and to whatever level, that's your bag, baby. All I'm asking is for the intelligence to recognize that references can't just be thrown out there. Having a car (or anything else, really) that's a horcrux is actually an incredibly bad thing. (For those not into the Harry P, briefly: a horcrux is an item that an evil wizard has put part of their soul into, sort of a path to immortality because the evil wizard will be unkillable unless that item is also destroyed. The horcrux becomes a "cursed" item that also influences anybody that might encounter it unknowingly to do pretty terrible things.)

As a counterpoint:

That makes sense, because a Nimbus 2000 is a broom that wizards use for transportation. It's classic "x is to y as a is to b." "My other car is a Millennium Falcon." "My other car is Serenity." "My other car is the Enterprise." All of those fucking make sense. They're all other transport vehicles. The original sticker might as well have said, "This car is a Dalek." "This car is a Gollum." "This car is the Ice King." What the fuck do any of those even mean? Yes, they're references to things, but not accurate or insightful in any way.