It shocks me to realize that not only does the younger generation need an old-fashioned service, but that so, apparently do those who are supposed to be older and wiser. Never let it be said that I shirk my duty (so long as it does not involve mopping floors or clipping the dogs’ toenails), so welcome to Dear Aunt Libby.
I keep getting complaints like this:
“Dear Aunt Libby: I just can’t seem to find a nice girl no matter how I try. They all want to talk about how wonderful Obama is and how we should do more for the poor. They don’t even like my guns. What’s a guy to do? Bubba”
“Dear Aunt Libby: Men are so shallow! They think I care that they drive BMW and Lexus and wear Bally and Coach loafers. Aren’t there any left who know a Laffer curve from mine from a Kondratieff? Brainy But Nice”
Children, children, children:
There are rules about how to find a mate, when, and why.
If Aunt Libby were Empress of the Universe she would reinstitute marriages of convenience for two generations and see if that would facilitate breeding true for principles. The world ran much better when parents chose brides and grooms for their progeny, although I will grant that the kids should have opportunities to get to know each other and their choice of three candidates. Since this is no longer the case, listen while Aunt Libby explains to you why you end up divorced, unhappy, and disillusioned.
The purpose of marriage is to protect people and property. All conservative rules have the same goal. It has nothing to do with a cute rear end, pheromones, or settling for what is handy.
1. NEVER go out with anyone about whom you know even one thing which would be a bar to marriage. Break off immediately if such a trait or fact emerges. Even if it is the boss’ daughter.
2. NEVER attempt to change anyone. Do not believe that he or she will “change,” or “grow up.” Ignore trifling flaws that do not deal with character because otherwise you will end up with no prospects at all, but have nothing further to do with a liar, a cheat, a thief, a vulgarian, or a liberal. Look askance at vegetarians.
3. NEVER continue seeing anyone who wants to change you. That isn’t going to happen, either, other than on very small items such as “If you don’t ask me if that dress makes you look fat, I won’t call you ‘snookums.'” (In your spare time, watch a little Jeff Foxworthy.)
4. If you want a nice girl, go where nice girls are. They aren’t found hanging out in bars, and the ones behind the counter at MacDonald’s may be cute but they are too young to date and they are far too callow. The same basic instruction works for ladies: nice guys don’t hang out in bars looking for females to pick up. I, myself, would not date anyone who had ever worked for Goldman Sachs, but your Aunt Libby is extremely nice in her requirements.
5. If at all possible get to know the person first through e-mail, and I don’t care whether you use Match.com, the tiny bizarre site for self-styled intellectuals, or start a lively debate below this article, which is a better idea.
Calling all nubile, suitably intelligent and sensible ladies! Your Mr. Wright could well be a subscriber to W&G, and Aunt Libby will monitor your conversations, coach you, and smack knuckles with verbal rulers as required. Attention, superior men! Tell me about yourselves, and unless you are too much of a yum-yum to offer to others, I will play matchmaker. If you are lowlife Statist scum I will chase you off with words. Go find yourself a mouth breather with mush for brains.
6. Do NOT be in a hurry to meet. Don’t even be in a hurry to talk on the telephone!
Both of those things change the equation. Finding someone whom you can truly love and be happy with is a very lengthy job-interview process even to line up on the race track. It takes a lot more than Jacks or better to get into my game. As I told our darling Gary, I am certain there are at least six men worthy of me in the continental US, three of them might feel the same way, and a couple of them may not even be taken. He’s one of them! Alas, he is scarcely more than half my age and lives 1800 miles away, so I can’t annex him. I do look at his writing occasionally and feel like Russia eyeing Poland…If there is a truly magnificent lady between 35 and 45, please write below this article and explain to me why I should consider you a fit consort for a very, very dear friend.
My son has never brought a young lady home that I have not liked, but he wants a girl just like the girl who married dear old Dad. His girls are always very, very intelligent, sweet, funny, kind, and have Barbie doll figures. They have cute but definitely not beautiful faces. Andrew figured out very early in life that highly finished bits of nature tend to be dull, boring, arrogant, and ignorant. All they have ever had to be is beautiful. Gary did not have the benefit of having me for a mother, so he–and the rest of you menfolk–need to have these things explained to you.
7. Life is really very simple, my little sweet potatoes. By the time you have exchanged a dozen lengthy e-mails each, one or the other of you will almost certainly have transgressed Rule One. You will discover undesirable character traits, or demonstrate that you bore the other person.
You, with your pure, clean, innocent, ignorant young minds will find this difficult to believe, but your very own Aunt Libby was rejected by a yahoo who responded in horror, eventually, “I just want a nice, ordinary lady!” Well, gee, sorry, but I refuse to be dull, typical, and always predictible. I told him kindly, “Go find yourself a nice little robot or Stepford Wife.” Amazing, huh? I have spent a lifetime becoming what I am, usually deliberately, and he wants plain vanilla, and not even French vanilla at that? (We use only the real stuff out of Mexico, both beans and liquid.)
Best of all, you can weigh each other’s words carefully, at your leisure, and you don’t have to get dressed or even put your shoes on. Extra hint: if the brute tries to lure you into lurid discussions of sex early in your correspondence, he almost certainly has other repugnant habits. You can give him the benefit of the doubt and make a demure, ladylike, but not cold, response…but if he keeps on–ditch him. Beware of those who want to take photographs; I am told they tend to show them around, sometimes to a new “love” interest!
Here’s another of Auntie Libby’s mistakes: I got coaxed by a friend into having dinner with a college professor here where I live. He showed up ten minutes late reeking of alcohol since he had started three hours earlier at Happy Hour at the country club. He continued to drink while I had On The Border, and I was so furious that I grabbed the check! I didn’t want to be beholden to that crass boor for so much as a glass of iced tea and a Marguerita. Yeech. College degrees and cc memberships are definitely no guarantee that you’ll have a nice time. The best to be said for him is that he sent me a charming poem (the only thing about him that charmed me) about how I was a type A and he was a type B. Moral: don’t break my own rules.
8. Take your own sweet time before you agree to talk on the telephone. That changes the rules of the game.
Alas, there are men you can talk to for many happy hours on the telephone only to discover upon meeting that you’re chalk and cheese, instant brothers and sisters. That’s th’ biz. Again, though, this phase has a very real purpose. You can see better what you have in common and how you enjoy conversing. You avoid a host of distractions. And you don’t have to put on makeup or your shoes. Men don’t have to wash their cars and put on a tie.
You are superior beings or you would not be listening raptly to your darling Aunt Libby. The chances are high, my cupcakes, that the person you really want in your life is not some glossy, pneumatic little lollipop with a tabla rasa for a mind. The sneaky idea, here (and very practical it is) is by the time you meet you will like each other down to the bones. So much so that physical attributes will not matter.
9. You really don’t need to be sitting in a restaurant, distracted by waiters and sweet, ladylike thoughts of “Oh, dear, I don’t want to order anything too expensive, and I really wish he would make a suggestion!” I have one of those, a suggestion, that is: if anyone hands you a “date” menu, demand, sweetly, of course, a regular menu with prices. Your date will appreciate your consideration and this simple demonstration of conservative principles. You may suppose that the gentleman would not have chosen a restaurant he could not afford, but that doesn’t mean he is prepared for you to order Michelle Obama’s $400 appetizer of champagne and caviar. A thoughtful gentleman would say, “The crab cake appetizer is very good here,” or you might smile, “I love onion rings, do you? Maybe we could share some?”
10. Do NOT whine about your diet. My way, you will know each other so well before you ever meet that you aren’t going to be filled with insecure thoughts about your attractiveness. You will like each other for things that are real and eternal, or you wouldn’t be there. By that time the fellow who interested you enough to agree to dine with him really isn’t going to care that your waistline isn’t quite what it used to be, and you really aren’t going to care that he doesn’t have as much hair as a Beatle.
11. Keep your hands off each other! Of all the things that will addle your minds (or, as bad, be unsatisfactory) and change the dynamic irrevocably, the very worst is beginning a sexual relationship prematurely. That stops conversation cold. It ends the process of discovering how his or her mind works. It trivializes your growing relationship. While it is true you might end up with a “friend with benefits”, that will distract you from your hormones and not take up a lot of your valuable time…well, put that way, perhaps it isn’t all that bad an idea, but it isn’t how you are going to find someone who can finish your sentences, as you can his or hers, who knows that nothing is worth arguing over other than principles, and if you don’t agree on those one of you should walk away politely instantly.
12. Absolutely, positively, no exceptions, never have anything to do with anyone who is “separated,” far less married. If he or she will cheat on his or her spouse with you, you can be quite certain that such a person will not be faithful to you in the long run either.
13. Kind hearts are more than coronets, and simple faith than Norman blood. Do look for the best combination you can find of all of those.
These are very simple basics, but if you apply these principles to choosing social companions you will be much happier and have a far greater chance of success. Oh…go catch up on back reports, polish your resume, or buy silver. Most of our lives it is far better to be an island. If you think you have problems now, give in to the nesting urge and complicate your lives with progeny and someone unsuitable. You’ll pay for that mistake for at least the next quarter of a century.
Do write if you have any specific questions. The chances are great that sweet Aunt Libby will tell you, “Read Rule ___ again!” Until the next time I feel inclined to untangle the messes you have gotten yourself in,
Aunt Libby Tarian
August 14, 2009