Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Rules

At the ripe old age of 18, my mom bought for me my very first relationship, self-help book.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Christmastime. I had asked for the 50th Anniversary Special Edition Publication of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead (and now that should clear up all those questions as to whether or not I have always been this big of a dork).

My mother, in an effort to either save time or trees, doesn’t wrap gifts. Instead she gives them all in gift bags. Well, imagine my elation as I pulled out my special edition of the Fountainhead. I think I may have even squealed a little. I ran over to my mother to hug her, when she stopped me and said, “There's more.”

I felt around the tissue paper and found another, smaller, paperback book. I pulled it out.
That’s right. My mother sneaked in a copy of The Rules: A Guide to Finding and Capturing Mr. Right.

On second thought, I decided not to give her a hug.

Back in my dorm, after the third phone call from her asking me if I had read it yet, I decided to humor her.

Fast forward four months. I am underage and out drinking with my teammates at a bar in University City. Some guy, who could have been a coxswain, but was probably a lightweight approached me and my friends to tell me that his friend thought I was cute. I looked over his head at his friend and told him I thought his friend was cute.

Most of my teammates dispersed to give me and my new boyfriend some privacy. All put one. I can’t remember her name, so I hope it wasn’t Allison (because that is what I am going to call her here). Allison grabbed me before I could walk over to him and said, “do not go over there. Make him come to you.”

Okay, I thought.

“And don’t talk to him for more than five minutes. Make up some excuse, come find us, and make him follow you if he wants. Oh, and if he asks for your number do not offer him a pen or paper. Make him find it.”

My head started spinning and it wasn’t all the shots we had done earlier.

“Oh my god, you read The Rules.”

She squealed like someone had just handed her a limited edition of the Fountainhead. “Oh my god, you did too. Then you know what to do.” She gave me a little hug and ran off.

Later, though not just five minutes later, I rejoined my friends and Allison beamed with pride. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I wasn’t following the rules, but my heart. See, I had excused myself to go to the ladies when I ran into the One That Would Change My Life (for better and for worse) and just saw no point in returning to the UVA rower.

In addition to such pearls of wisdom as “don’t help him find a pen to get your number” this ode to the antiquated game of playing hard to get also suggests you never call him (not even to call him back) nor should you ever accept an invitation for a date with less than three days notice. And never, ever, accept a date for the weekend after Wednesday evening. Instead, it suggests that on Wednesday evening, if you haven’t heard from Mr. Right, you should call your girlfriends and make plans. You know, so you won’t be tempted to go out with Mr. Right should he call at the last minute on Friday.

And maybe if I had played by the rules with the One (that changed my life, not to be confused with the mythical one soul mate that Hollywood and Hallmark have tried to convince us all exists) I could me Mrs. One right now.

But the part that really bothered me about the rules is that the authors insist the game-playing never end.

I know relationships all start out as a game, and I will admit I don’t have much experience with long-term relationships. However, I do hope that at some point everyone relaxes, the games end (or at least lessen greatly) and you get to just enjoy your partner. Because spending a lifetime playing a game with someone, especially if that game is "hard to get" sounds dreadful.

So, to recap. I’m no lady, nor am I a rules girl. Well, maybe Dr. Phil will be able to convince me to Love Smart.


jameela said...

Wait a minute Tatiana, you a Philly girl?

kheli said...

"Rules" be damned! Always follow your heart. And you are a lady, you are not a doormat, nor are you a passive-agressive, game-playing pre-teen. Real life relationships do not follow "rules", they ebb and flow with the circumstances.

Tina Marina said...

Could have been straight from the mouth of Maureen Dowd. One of my favorite posts this far!

And I got a real word for word verification this time - combs! Like Sean "Diddy."

TheNYCourier said...

I love The Fountainhead! Even though Ayn Rand's pseudo-philosophy makes me chafe a little.

Tatiana said...

That's right, Jameela. I have been in Philly for about 12 years now. As for the Fountainhead, I could do without a lot of Ayn's philosophy as well. But the book certainly does make you think. And I like that.

Anonymous said...

I was introduced to Ayn Rand (via Atlas Shrugged) back in 1973 by my then Mr. Forever the Right One in high school (lasted two years...until I caught him cheating). Very thought provoking.

Unfortunately, Tatiana, the games don't stop even in a long term relationship. I've been married almost 32 years to Dear Hubby (very good man, good work ethic, big heart-when he chooses to show it) and he still thinks he has to trick me into doing things for him. If he would just ask, I would probably be more than happy to do it. But he has to play his little games and I get my kicks out of saying NO.



Anonymous said...

I always found that the men for whom these rules actually "work" are not worth all the pussy-footing around for anyhow. I think when you find the right person the games do stop, and they will be just as relieved as you are not to have to pretend that you don't like each other!