The table next to mine in Brew Ha Ha was filled with college students – 4 girls and 1½ guys. There were, of course, two males sitting at the table, but the girls only saw one. He sat at the head of the table with his wing man off to his right. The girls circled around with rapt attention hanging on every word the alpha said. He was a nice looking kid, but no more so than his wing man (as far as I could tell; I profess no expertise in this area). He was holding court, but spoke no more frequently than anyone else. Even while silent he was the leading man of this drama. He wasn’t a blow-hard like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, but had a subtle confidence that kept him center stage in the interactions. What is it about him that caused this to happen?
This idea fascinates me because it is so foreign to my own experience. When I was in college I may well have been sitting at a table full of pretty girls, but it wasn’t because they were all entranced with me. They were just comfortable with me. I would ask a girl out and she would say it would be weird because I was like a brother. No amount of protesting my brotherhood status stopped me from having more sisters than a convent. What is it that separates the smooth operator from his wing man and me? Does he exude pheromones that render women weak in the knees whenever he is around? Is he the fabled creature that has actually figured out what women want and then serves it up with calm assurance? I don’t think so. There must be something else because life experience does not remain constant.
While I feared for a while that the only way to get a date in college was to hire one, I did end up with a few dates. These were with girls that found humor, sensitivity, and intelligence as adequate compensation for the lack of dashing good looks and suave skills. One was even convinced enough to marry me and share this adventure of life. We have a great marriage and I am ever thankful that God gave me such a good mate who doesn’t mind having a non-sexy husband. For years I continued to be the safe guy that you would trust alone in a hotel room with your daughter; an asexual being despite my three children.
Then somewhere in midlife God ran a blue-light special on funny sensitive guys and everybody wanted one. Now that I was completely unavailable, women finally saw me as a man with no familial connection to them. Women flirted with me. Don’t get me wrong, I was not having to fend off advances everywhere I went – my life is not an after-school special. But I clearly had some of the ingredient the young Casanova at the next table possessed. I don’t think I changed, but the world changed how it reacted to me. This phase of my life was not a long one, but long enough to leave me confused all over again about the dynamics of cross-gender relationships.
I like being safe. I like being loved by my wife. I still quicken her pulse after 32 years and that is enough for me. However, it would be nice to understand a little better. Perhaps some women can weigh in and dispel some of the ignorance I display here.