Monday, March 08, 2010

A good woman, who shall find? For her worth is beyond rubies.

--Proverbs 31:10

A string of mini-updates to my Facebook page invited people to comment.

Andrew Schwartz -- GOD AWFUL date night. Attempted to give self lobotomy with pasta fork. Largely unsuccessful, though the memory of my social security number is a little foggy and I can't explain the infield fly rule anymore.

Andrew Schwartz isn't going to know which way to look the next time he meets that woman, now that I've heard her incredible and uncredible story.

Andrew Schwartz thinks that women who have jobs and are sexually empowered are inherently to be mistrusted and feared.

While people found it exciting to apply all three of these updates to the same person, they're actually about three different women.  The first was a Friday night date (discussed HERE).  The second was the "colorful" personality (discussed HERE).  The third was actually an oblique reference to the story of the KU basketball tickets and the hoopla (heh, "hoop") regarding the recipient (discussed HERE).

It would make for a more interesting story if they were somehow connected, I won't deny.  At rehearsal yesterday, a friend of mine came over to discuss my dating.  She asked something to the effect of "do you just date random strange people?"

That's certainly not my intent.

Relationships are strange animals.  Some people work well from the get-go, others reach their stride sometime later, and some just go tooth and claw all the way to the finish.  Like most things in life, they probably boil down to preparation, skills, and luck.  Having just recently exited near-unemployment, these are the same factors for job hunting.

Resume that doesn't have pizza stains on it?  Preparation.
Actually being able to lion tame when you apply for the circus?  Skills.
Being able to start work the very day the previous apprentice meets the angry end of Panthera leo?  Luck.

It's remarkably similar to dating.  Preparation involves all the time one spends in company, learning the way that people talk to and act around other people.  If you pull someone's hair and laugh derisively, you don't get invited to the good bar mitzvahs.  And for all the wind that stand up comics expend trying to talk about how different men and women are, they pretty much want similar things from their mate of choice: don't be cruel, don't be untrustworthy, don't be unapproachable, etc.

The skills are the result of the preparation.  When engaged in first date conversation, 75% of your energy should be devoted to passive skills: listening, watching, thinking.  That's not to say that you should BE passive; I'm merely asserting that what the other person does should register with you.  If they make a face whenever you bring up basketball or couture purses, be aware enough to change subjects.

Finally, there's luck.  Everyone hates luck, because you can't predict it, account for it, or effect it at all.  Please note that proper application of the skills and preparation can create opportunities that seem like luck to the observer (and even the subject!).  In truth, only a portion of the good fortune is luck.

The true luck cannot be manipulated.  If you just happen to get trapped in an elevator with a person who likes the same music as you, that's luck.  If you get a first date based on that trapped conversation, that's skill.  Living in the midwest, there are lots of small towns which aren't really close to big towns.  What happens if everyone in your small town is in a relationship but you?  That's just luck.  What does it mean when you're the ONLY person in town in a relationship?  That's skill.

So where's Doctor Andy's failing, I hear you ask.  I've got some of everything, like a lot of people.  I don't have a long history of rejections and successes, so I still take it somewhat personally when a girl who "seems great" doesn't work out.  What did *I* do wrong, is what I say.  That's partially a preparation thing and partially skill.  While I've mostly got confidence in the product I'm selling, it's not always easy to stay on message when things are going poorly.

And there's luck.  When I think I did pretty well, but things STILL go haywire, it could just be luck.  It's important to note that when I attribute something to luck, it may not be the same for my date.  Let's take a couple of Fridays ago...

My date started going on and on about subjects that weren't interesting or even comfortable for me.  That's just bad luck on my part, since I didn't really have anything to do with it.  She, on the other hand, had a failure of skills by not recognizing that the sand was shifting from under her feet.

The flipside could also be true.  Maybe she thought it was bad luck that I wasn't a person to get all fired-up about something she passionately believed, and (from her perspective) my skills were flawed in the art of "up with people".  Or "up with abortions," in this case.

Regardless, the strange people I seem to date could just happen to yield one that's strange in all the ways I like. Gotta keep submitting those applications.

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