2006-08-31 / Sam Bari

You can't beat a system you can't understand

Courting in the 21st century
By Sam Bari

A while ago, I wrote about that delicate time in the lives of children when they experience the "state of like." You know the time - somewhere around third or fourth grade, when boys realize they are attracted to girls and girls start to find boys interesting, but they have no idea why.

At this stage of the growing-up game, they never under any circumstances admit to actually loving a person of the opposing gender. They are only allowed to "like" the object of their affections. I'm not sure who wrote the edict on this sensitive subject, but it is compulsory behavior for any youngster in search of social acceptance.

Much like its counterpart, the state of like often has disastrous affects on the lives of the short set. Both the state of like and the state of love cause people to behave strangely. At times, they temporarily lose control of their sensibilities. When Pookie Grossberg attempted to stuff a caterpillar up Darlene Saunders nose because he liked her is a good example. She liked him too, so she beat the tar out of Pookie and sent him home with a bloody nose. I don't know if he ever completely recovered from the humiliation because he hasn't been quite right since. I believe they were 8 years old at the time. I shudder to think about the caterpillar's thoughts on the matter.

Nevertheless, if you lived long enough to experience the rites of passage into teenhood, which is little more than childhood with hormones, and you grow taller, you had to go through the bitter lessons of learning how to date.

When I was a teen, dating was made easy by involving a third party and arranging an alleged get together in advance. Thus, neither party would be subjected to the awkwardness of rejecting or being rejected.

If a boy found a young girl attractive, he'd contact one of her friends and ask if the girl was available. If that was the case, he'd ask the best friend to tell her that he was interested in her. The best friend would talk to the girl and return with a report. If the response was positive, he'd ask the girl out. If it was negative, the matter would be closed, never to surface again.

Today, the situation appears to have drastically changed. According to Henry Makow, Ph.D., of Duke University, "Thanks to feminism, today's coeds do not endure the daily humiliation of courtship. They don't worry about young men offering flowers or asking them out for dinner or a movie.."

In the 21st century, the date has apparently been replaced by the "hookup." Young men and women clandestinely arrange to meet privately and spend time together to satisfy socio-biological needs to varying degrees of fulfillment. One female student was quoted as saying, "The perfect hookup is when the two people involved can see each other in a social situation and their hookup is never brought up, as if it never existed."

Dr. Makow also said that, "Much to the disappointment of many students, female and male, there's no real dating scene at Duke, which is true for a lot of colleges."

''I've never been asked out on a date in my entire life - not once,'' said one stunning brunette. Nor has a guy ever bought her a drink.

I think that if anybody ever did that, I would ask him if he were taking drugs,'' she said.

Sadly, the quest for women to attain equality in a male-dominated world had some negative results. Romance appears to have taken a distant back seat to pragmatism. The age of chivalry, if not dead, is at least dormant. Why? According to young men who were interviewed by social scientists, it's because they don't know what is expected of them in the courtship ritual. "Some women are offended if you open their door for them, others expect it," said one. "A girl asked me out, which I found refreshing, but when I paid the check for dinner, she was visibly angry," said another.

To make matters worse, the different social movements have created

new lifestyle groups that include SNAGS (sensitive, newage guys), ILYAs (incompletely launched young adults), MOSSs(moderately over-stressed suburbanites), and YEEPIES (young, energetic elderly into everything).

The SNAGs are apparently real snakes in the grass. According to one college co-ed, "They appear to be compassionate until they get you alone and reveal their real agenda, which is the same as any other lothario." The ILYAs are offshoots of Italy's mama's boys, who live at home past the age of 30 to save money for a flamboyant lifestyle. However, women have joined this group, and as the cost of living escalates, more are living at home well past the age that used to be a mark of failure if one hadn't cut the apron strings and moved out on their own. If a male and female ILYA get together, "your place or mine" could present an awkward situation.

The human courtship ritual is so ill-defined that it's a small miracle that the population of the world is increasing. I guess dating is just part of that system we can't understand.

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