Playing the Field

As part of my job here at The Daily Herald (motto: “The Other ‘Church News'”), I go to a lot of plays and movies. This is a great thing to do for a living, of course, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” over and over again, as it makes me feel as though I’ve read the Old Testament.

You’d think all these shows would be a great dating opportunity — “great” being defined as “free” — but it has its drawbacks. For example, what if I’ve already been on a date with practically every girl I know and all parties involved have agreed that it would be best if I not ask them out again? What if some of these girls have even made this point via restraining order? I still have to go to the shows — I just don’t have anyone to take with me.

With the movies, it’s OK. I can usually find some male friend who wants to see a free movie. But for some reason, men won’t go to plays with other men. Movie theaters, fine. Play theaters, not fine. Even men who enjoy the theater won’t go with other men, for fear that somehow, merely by participating in the fine arts, they’ll become gay.

I can get a guy friend to go with me to a play only if I assure him that going with him is only slightly better than going by myself, and that I’ve asked every other person on Earth already. In any other social situation, being someone’s last resort would be an insult. But not here. If they think I actually WANT them to go, they won’t do it.

The exception, of course, is the double date. Double dating is a way for men to hang out with each other, and even do questionable things like watch “The King and I,” without breaking any Guy Regulations. I feel sorry for the girls who get dragged on double dates, because they’re really just accessories so the guys can go out with each other. You’ll hear a guy say, “Hey, we should hang out sometime.” Then the other guy says, “Yeah, we should double.” It’s the same way girls say, “Let’s go to the mall: I’ll wear these shoes, you wear that dress.” Guys say, “Let’s go hang out: I’ll bring Susan, you bring Rebecca.”

From the girls’ standpoint, group dates are even worse than double dates. You’ve got five or six guys who all know each other really well, and five or six girls who have never met and who, having never met, in keeping with Girl Regulations, automatically don’t like each other.

This is, for some reason, the way women are. As soon as they meet, they instantly don’t like each other. Guys, on the other hand, always treat all other guys, strangers and friends alike, exactly the same way: with complete and total indifference.

But guys are not just jerks to each other. They are jerks to women, too. The thing is, many girls seem to like the jerks. Maybe they’d deny this, but I sure see a lot of jerks with girlfriends and a lot of nice guys at home with the TV on Friday nights. Women say what they want most in a man is a sense of humor, but as with most things women say, this is a lie. What they mean is, they wish the jerks they’re already dating were funnier. (“I wish he would tell more jokes while he was not opening doors for me.”)

But I shouldn’t complain. I live in Provo, the engagement capital of the world, and every year two or three of those engagements actually result in marriages. Plus, there are thousands of new girls being shipped in every fall. Surely among all these I can find, if not a wife, at least someone who wants to see “Joseph” for the twelfth time.

I'd been wanting to do my double-dating "chunk" for a while. In fact, this column would have run the previous week, except that MTV's "The Real World" came to Provo looking for cast members, and I had to write about that instead.

I hope my last paragraph, where I mention the new girls being "shipped in" every fall, doesn't sound sexist. In retrospect, it probably does make them sound like they're nothing but cargo, a truckload of potential dates. Ah, our good friend Retrospect.