June 29, 2008

A friend of mine has just begun dating someone new. He has been sending her texts letting her know how much he likes her and this is making her anxious.

She is not used to someone being so direct - in fact she finds it a turn off. The other day she said she wished she could tell him not to text her until after 7pm. Then she could spend the entire day worrying that he'd changed his mind and gone away. If he did that, it would be a huge aphrodisiac.

I don't have that problem. Whenever someone says they like me I don't believe them and don't' trust it. But only if I like them too.

Wouldn't it be great if men came with operating instructions to maximise their performance and shelf life?

For instance, with my ex, here's what the instructions would have said:

Warning: emotional conditions may render appliance subject to frequent disconnections and inoperable.

Best used in short bursts over limited periods of time.

Machine will regularly go into pause mode. This is not a malfunction, just standard operating procedure.

And the warranty would have a long list of what's not covered including reliability, accountability, responsibility or magnanimity. And any cost for repairs will not be refunded.

My friend Heather's operating instructions would read like this:

Congratulations on your new purchase.

Unfortunately, this machine's original instructions were misplaced during manufacture so you'll just have to figure it out as you go along.

Due to a systems failure at age six, unexplainable glitches may occur at random moments, especially when machine is dealing with actual or imagined threats of abandonment.

My own operating instructions would be more complex. To begin with, the pamphlet would be so excrutiatingly long, no one could cope with reading it.

But like an iPod - it would include a step-by-step illustrated Quick Start.

However once you began following it, it wouldn't make sense. Step 1 wouldn't take you to Step 2. It would skip to Step 4 and say you had to guess what Step 3 was.

And there would also be a note that said: Damaged in transit - irreparable - it is not purchaser's fault.

The trouble with handing someone an instruction manual is that most likely, they'll ignore it. So maybe a list is more manageable. I asked my friend Heather to make a list of what a guy should do to make it work with her.

1. Be emotionally available. But not too emotionally available.

2. Don't talk about ex-girlfriends except when I'm hounding you for information

3. If you must talk about them only respond with disparaging remarks.

4. Don't invite me to dinner Tuesday night on Tuesday morning. But don't ask me out for the third Friday of June 2010 either.

5. Make me laugh.

6. Be sensitive. But not so sensitive that I worry that I might make you cry.

7. If I get up to go to the bathroom after sex, don't say it's too bad I have to go home so soon.

8. If you're going take a break from the relationship, tell me face to face rather than disappearing with no explanation.

9. Ask me about me once in a while. Even if it's just once or twice a month.

10. Make me laugh.

Here's my list:

Show up.