Dave Barry on Dudes

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CONTRARY to what many women believe, it's fairly easy to develop a
long-term, stable, intimate, and mutually fulfilling relationship with a
guy. Of course this guy has to be a Labrador retriever. With human guys,
it's extremely difficult. This is because guys don't really grasp what
women mean by the term relationship.


Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks
her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few
nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves.
They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one
of them is seeing anybody else.


And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to
Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize
that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud
silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I
said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he
thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't
want, or isn't sure of. And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months. And
Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of
relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd
have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we
are, moving steadily toward... I mean, where are we going? Are we just
going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading
toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready
for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?


And Roger is thinking:... so that means it was... let's see... February
when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the
dealer's, which means... lemme check the odometer... Whoa! I am way
overdue for an oil change here.


And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm
reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship,
more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed -- even before I
sensed it -- that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it.
That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's
afraid of being rejected.


And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission
again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right.
And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What
cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a
goddamn garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.


COMMUNICATIONS GAP



And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry,
too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help
the way I feel. I'm just not sure.


And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty.
That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.


And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a
knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next
to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly
do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is
in pain because of my schoolgirl romantic fantasy.


And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a
goddamn warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it right up
their...


"Roger," Elaine says aloud.


"What?" says Roger, startled.


"Please don't torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning
to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have... Oh God, I feel so..."
(She breaks down, sobbing.)


"What?" says Roger.


"I'm such a fool," Elaine sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I
really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."


"There's no horse?" says Roger.


"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Elaine says.


"No!" says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.


"It's just that... It's that I... I need some time," Elaine says.


(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries
to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he
thinks might work.)


"Yes," he says.


A BEFUDDLED BEAU



(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)


"Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?" she says.


"What way?" says Roger.


"That way about time," says Elaine.


"Oh," says Roger. "Yes."


(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him
to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it
involves a horse. At last she speaks.)


"Thank you, Roger," she says.


"Thank you," says Roger.


Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured
soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he
opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply
involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he
never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him
that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty
sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's
better if he doesn't think about it. (This is also Roger's policy
regarding world hunger.)


IT'S ANALYSIS TIME



The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them,
and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In
painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything
he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word,
expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible
ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for
weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never
getting bored with it, either.


Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual
friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown,
and say: "Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?"


We're not talking about different wavelengths here. We're talking about
different planets, in completely different solar systems. Elaine cannot
communicate meaningfully with Roger about their relationship any more than
she can meaningfully play chess with a duck. Because the sum total of
Roger's thinking on this particular topic is as follows:


Huh?


But the point I'm trying to make is that, if you're a woman, and you want
to have a successful relationship with a guy, the No. 1 tip to remember
is:


1. Never assume that the guy understands that you and he have a
relationship.The guy will not realize this on his own. You have to plant
the idea in his brain by constantly making subtle references to it in your
everyday conversation, such as:


-- "Roger, would you mind passing me a Sweet 'n' Low, inasmuch as we
have a relationship?"


-- "Wake up, Roger! There's a prowler in the den and we have a
relationship! You and I do, I mean."


-- "Good News, Roger! The gynecologist says we're going to have our
fourth child, which will serve as yet another indication that we have
a relationship!"


-- "Roger, inasmuch as this plane is crashing and we probably have only
about a minute to live, I want you to know that we've had a wonderful 53
years of marriage together, which clearly constitutes a relationship."


Never let up, women. Pound away relentlessly at this concept, and
eventually it will start to penetrate the guy's brain. Some day he might
even start thinking about it on his own. He'll be talking with some other
guys about women, and, out of the blue, he'll say, "Elaine and I, we have,
ummm... We have, ahhh... We... We have this thing." And he will sincerely
mean it.


The next relationship-enhancement tip is:


2. Do not expect the guy to make a hasty commitment.
By "hasty," I mean, "within your lifetime." Guys are extremely reluctant
to make commitments. This is because they never feel ready.


"I'm sorry," guys are always telling women, "but I'm just not ready to
make a commitment." Guys are in a permanent state of nonreadiness. If guys
were turkey breasts, you could put them in a 350-degree oven on July
Fourth, and they still wouldn't be done in time for Thanksgiving.


Excerpted from the forthcoming book, "Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys"
by Dave Barry, (c) 1995 by Dave Barry. Reprinted with the permission of
Random House Inc. Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.


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