Jewish Journal


July 12, 2001

Losing My Rap


For a while, I was having a fine time "playing the field." Then Samantha broke up with me, and Kathy went back to her ex-fiancé. Lauren got serious with someone else before we even got to know each other, and that was that. I've been abandoned. I am more than alone now. I have no one and no prospects. You know that Sam Cooke song "Another Saturday Night?" There's a line: "If I can meet 'em, I can get em', as yet I haven't met 'em, that's why I'm in the shape I'm in."

I wish I were that optimistic.

I think I've completely lost my rap with females. Put me at a dinner party next to a woman and I begin to stammer, like Ralph Kramden caught in a lie, "hummina, hummina, hummina." To be entirely fair, I never had a great rap, but at least I had something like a good rapport. I never had a line, never picked anyone up at a bar. I was jealous of guys who could do that, but it just wasn't my style. My style was to slowly wear down their resistance with a lethal combination of charm and relentlessness.

A date with me is like doing the "Charlie Rose" show. I ask a lot of questions. I listen intensely, aggressively, aerobically. I make eye contact. Tons of it. After a while, a woman realizes it's just simpler to wave the white flag and surrender than to soldier on in a losing cause. She thinks: "Give him what he wants and maybe he'll go away." But it's like feeding a stray dog. Pretty soon you can't shake the cute little thing you once took pity on.

I don't know what happened, where my rap went, or how to get it back. I feel like Austin Powers without his mojo.

I was introduced to an attractive woman named Jane at a party recently. Unbidden, she told me that honesty is the single most important thing in a relationship. She said that if you can be honest with each other, the rest is easy.

Honesty, huh? I never thought of that. Imagine actually putting all the pretense aside. Stop playing games. Say what I really feel. Why, it's genius! It takes just as much time and energy to win a woman using deception, obfuscation and trickery, but none of these things seem to be working either. Maybe it is time for a change. I decided then and there to try it. From now on, honesty would be my policy.

Who am I kidding?

Over the course of the evening, Jane, the woman who placed honesty on a pedestal, admitted that she was wearing a hair extension and a push-up bra. Taken together with her high heels, dyed blonde hair and glittery makeup, she was about as phony as a dancer's smile.

There's a scene in "Tootsie" where Julie (Jessica Lange) tells Dorothy (Dustin Hoffman in a dress) what she'd like to hear, just once: an honest approach from a man. The next night Michael (Dustin Hoffman without the dress) sees her at a party, walks right up to her and recites the line back to her, verbatim. She throws a drink in his face for the effort.

Nobody wants or expects you to be honest, except your shrink. People want civility and compliments. People want courteous indifference. Honesty is the last thing anybody wants. Comedian Richard Jeni says: "Ladies, if you knew what we were really thinking, you'd never stop slapping us."

Speaking for myself, I can't handle the truth.

In the interest of total honesty, I've been reduced to begging for dates. Actually begging. "I'm begging you to go out with me tonight." It's not exactly mojo, but it's something. One woman was taken aback by the bluntness of my approach, but I reasoned with her that while other men may desire her and want to be with her and do this whole big seduction act, none of them actually beg. Score that round for me.

"If you can picture me on my knees," I said into the phone, "I'm not, but if you can imagine it ... that act alone separates me from other guys. If it's different you want, you've gotta admit this is different. Pathetic, maybe, not politically correct, but honest, direct and sincere. You're supposed to want those things."

Begging is now my high card. I don't stoop to beg a woman for a date, I aspire to beg her for a date. If that doesn't work I'll try the more conventional route, but by then I may have blown myself out of the water. Where do you go after begging? What options are still open to me?

I think this is progress.

Picture J.D. Smith on his knees @ www.lifesentence.net.

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