Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Rules of a Lost Art

Via Kim du Toit comes some superb advice for any young man (or a man of any age, for that matter). Equally well-written and brutally honest (by that, I mean he's honest in his language; the faint-of-heart might want to stop reading when he admits as much, but it's really nothing worse than one would hear on late-night cable), Kim expresses something I've noticed, struggled with, and have become annoyed with for quite some time:

It’s probably the only thing remaining which the French do better than we do.

I’m not talking about making wine, but making love—and I mean that in the most old-fashioned sense of the word: flirting.

Flirting is the art form in human communication and the piquant sauce in human interaction: that delicious, heady way in which the moth dances around the fire, getting closer and closer, sometimes getting singed, sometimes flying away, and sometimes being gloriously consumed by the flames.

[. . . ]

American men aren’t being taught this stuff anymore, and we are becoming the poorer for it. No wonder there are college rules which forbid complimenting and “staring”, when “Nice rack!” is what passes for a compliment.

You boor, you dolt, you insensitive, childish brute. Who the hell gave you the right to act that way towards a woman—a man’s daughter, another man’s sister, and somone’s future wife?

Because that’s where it ends. Without flirting, there is no romance. Without romance, all that’s left is heaving buttocks.

Here's a sample of Kim's rules:

1. Respect the lady. Respect at all times, respect beyond all reason, respect even if it makes no sense at all. All women are ladies. If they aren’t it’s only because they’ve never met the right gentleman before. Become the right gentleman.

How to show respect for women? Simple. Open the door for her. When a woman walks into the room for the first time, stand up. When you’re at the table, and she excuses herself, stand up when she leaves. Then, when she comes back, stand up again, and help her sit down in her chair. Always, always open the car door for her. When you arrive at a place, tell her to wait in her seat, then get out and run around to open the door for her. If she demurs, insist until she starts to expect it, and take it for granted. Always walk her to her front door, and wait until she closes the door before you leave. (And don’t expect a good-night kiss either, let alone anything else.) If she offers you her hand to shake, take it, and then bring it up to your mouth, and just touch it with your lips.

[. . . ]

5. Learn the difference between pride and vanity. Don’t be afraid of rejection. You are going to get rejected hundreds of times in your life when you flirt. Deal with it—that’s just hurt vanity, and that will pass. I don’t care how badly a woman treats you: either you deserved it (lesson learned) or you didn’t (let it become someone else’s problem).

[. . . ]

7. Finally, learn to love women. And I don’t mean that you should become a footstool; as a flirt, your whole life should revolve around making a woman feel appreciated, wanted, adored, and desired. Do it with subtlety, do it with grace, do it for fun, and do it without expecting sex at the end of it.

Learn to flirt. If some ghastly troll of a feminist thinks you’re trying to hit on her when you do so, just apologize graciously, and shut up. Move on to the next opportunity. You’ll be looking for someone who appreciates a man who loves women, and who appreciates being treated like a lady.

As Kim points out, both sexes, in this day and age, seem to be confused or misguided regarding how to flirt with and how to treat the opposite sex. In my experience, people are either unaware that there are in fact rules for flirting/dating/etc. or they are aware of the rules and are (like me) so socially awkward that any attempt at flirtation is saddled with self-doubt and a lack of confidence that is usually, if not always, noticeable by the lady in question. (I'm better than I used to be, I think; thanks for asking)

If you're a man, of any age/marital status, you owe it to yourself to read the whole thing; if you're a woman, you should read it as well, if for no other reasons than to learn how you should be treated and what you should expect from us.

Update: For a little perspective, from a lady and for the ladies, check out Mrs. du Toit's essay on the same subject. It's equally as honest Kim's missive and again with language not for the faint of heart; well -worth a read, regardless.

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