Thursday, October 23, 2008

Acquire This

"Do not text him back for at least two hours."

"What?? That's ridiculous. It's rude!" I slammed my coffee down, spilling a bit, burning my knuckle. We were at the Mission Beach Cafe, which has become something of a weekend ritual at this point:

David looked at me, sternly, and then back at his brunch menu. I tried to slyly reach back into my pocket to take at my phone, just to look at the text I'd just received...but David is about a foot-and-a-half taller than I am and seeing what was going on in my lap over his menu was no challenge for him. He looked at me like I was a three-year-old with peanut butter in my hair.

"Gabster, do you want him to like you or not?"

"I do."

"Then you have to make him sweat. Make him wonder if you're even going to bother to text him back at all. It's all about perceived value."

Well that's kind of depressing.

The thing is though, David's right--as humans we tend to like things (and people) more if we think they'll be difficult to acquire. Now, I am by no means easy to acquire, but I do tend to wear my feelings on my sleeve--or in my text messages--and lately, that hasn't been working out all that well for me.

There was a controversial little book first published in 1995 for women about precisely this topic, called The Rules, written by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. And now, thanks to my friend Tom (who also happens to be David's best friend), it sits on my bookshelf. (Actually, that's a lie. It sits in a drawer next to my bed along with How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk and He's Just Not That Into You.) The Rules' thesis is simple: play hard to get and you will eventually snag a man who was willing to work hard to get you. It makes sense, truly, but as a modern feminist, I find parts of it somewhat offensive (Rule #3: Don't Stare at Men or Talk Too Much), rude (Rule #5: Don't Call Him and Rarely Return His Calls), and downright crazy (Rule #31: Don't Discuss The Rules With Your Therapist).

But David (along with Tom) has known me for over twenty years and I fully trust that he had nothing other than my best interests in mind. So I waited. I waited while our breakfasts arrived (I had latkes with poached eggs and gravlax. David had huevos rancheros with garlicky guacamole. Both were phenomenal.) I waited while we paid. I waited a whole hour. And then I texted back a 2-word, non-commital text message.

Oh yeah, am I aloof or what?

The thing is though, I don't think I'll ever be a Rules girl. I will never insist that a man pay for everything on every date, I will never not return phone calls as a strategy to get someone to like me more. I will talk to my therapist about whatever I please because that is why I am paying her. But still, I don't think the concept of the book is without value. When I complained to Tom that The Rules suggested I do stupid, ridiculous things that were completely out of my nature, he told me, "Just remember Rule #1 then. That's the most important one anyway. Be a "Creature Unlike Any Other." Just remember that you are really special and whoever you are with should have to work hard to get you.

OK, that I can live with.



Unknown said...

Gabi, I think we are counterparts w/the wearing our feelings on our sleeves. Great post!

Unknown said...

It sounds like that rule book was written before the Internet.

They should probably add something about not telling suitors about your blog, if you plan on blogging.

cotleen said...

This was the perfect entry to send me to on my quest for exactly that question. Why these rules? If I like him, I like him, why should I have to pretend that I don't? But then again, when I really don't like a guy, and I naturally ignore him, it always ends up that he likes me more. WTF? I hate the whole equation, it's like it's inverse. And I hate math.

JD said...

UGH! I hate rules.

JJH said...