You didn't seriously expect me to write a post about How to Look like a Good Catholic Girl without writing a post about How to Seem like a Good Catholic Boy, did you? I admit it's more of a challenge, but I'll give it a shot. A lot of careful thinking has to go into this. Notice, for example, whereas Girls have to think about how they Look, Boys have to think about how they Seem. As simple men like to tell me, men are simple and women are complicated. Thus, as far as men are concerned, sensory impressions (Looks pretty, sounds nice, smells good, soft hands) are paramount, whereas for women the evidence (discussed obsessively) has to stand up in the court of female opinion.
WHAT a cynical and sexist beginning! Oh well. Boys, never forget that I think you are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life. Existence would be so dull without you. Which reminds me of the only time I thought someone else's fiance was super-attractive. This fiance's profession was X, and because I was worried about a Y, he gave me his card.
"I hope you don't have to call me," he said with a smile, and whoa.
Anyhoo, down to advice for Nice Catholic Boys:
1. Think Career. Either you are going to claw your way up through the office/departmental/military food chain or you are going to be your own boss one day. When women say, "So what do you hope to do after school?", tell them you hope to be the head of your own company/Chief Justice/Admiral/full professor of Biology at Columbia. Do not say, "I don't know. I thought I'd just, you know, take it easy, maybe backpack around Australia...."
Every trad woman's nightmare is that she is going to have to work a 40 hour a week job or, worse, two 20 hour a week jobs, plus have to take care of the house, plus doing all the shopping, plus having to pay some other woman to take care of her children--all because she's stuck with a man who can't get his career together.
This is not about class. I'm Canadian. I could not give a tinker's damn about white collars vs. blue. This is about the financial security every woman deserves when she hands herself, her future and her future children to some man in marriage.
2. Cut your hair. You are not a girl. You should not look like a girl. Maybe there is a Catholic Surfer subculture somewhere, so I will make exceptions for Catholic Surfers. Shave your face. You can do whatever you want about sideburns and goatees and all that stuff. But generally speaking, women think full beards are weird. Don't shave anything on the rest of your body unless you are an athelete and have to. And then don't tell. Oh, and if you pluck your eyebrows, don't overdo it and, again, don't tell.
3. Be Clean. Wash. Scrub. Brush. Floss, if you can remember. Wear clean clothes that do not have holes in them. Try to keep your soul clean, too, which means absolutely zero porn and also going to confession. Keep swear words to a minimum and apologize if you cuss in front of a woman. Do not, I beg you, tell stories that feature the words "sex", "sexual" and "sexy" to women. Banish the word sex from your social vocabulary.
4. Go to Mass. And not just on Sundays. So few people go to Daily Mass that you will stand out. Some of the unmarried women at Daily Mass will note your presence. They will think, "Aw! It's a man at Daily Mass! I wonder if he wants to be a priest. I wonder if he is married. I wonder if he'll be here the next time I'm here." Go to evening devotions, too. Go for the wrong reason (girls), stay for the right reasons. The right reasons include praying for a Nice Catholic Girl to fall in love with and for the ability to seem like a Nice Catholic Boy.
5. Talk to women at Church and Catholic School Socials. Be attentive. If a girl is sneaking looks in your direction, smile at her and toddle over. Incidentally, if you are 20, it's okay to talk to a woman who looks 30. But if you are 50, it is not okay just to march up to a girl who is 20. Do not be afraid to walk up to two girls standing together. Yes, I know two or three girls standing together are scary. But they don't bite. So if the circle they are forming is open, and not as tight as a rugby scrum, then pop right over.
That said, it's even better if you can get someone to introduce you around. If you don't know anybody, but the parish priest is there, you can introduce yourself to him, and tell him you'd love to be introduced to other people. He can do it, or he can get someone else to do it. It is a completely reasonable and laudable request.
Ask girls about themselves. Ask if they're still in school. Ask what they study. Ask what they do for a living. Ask them if they like that. Listen to their questions and answer them in a laidback, not bragging way. Tell them good things about your family, things that stress your Good Catholic Home, e.g. "My dad's a carpenter, so he has a great devotion to Saint Joseph." If you don't come from a Good Catholic Home, focus on some positive aspect, like your baby nephew.
6. Women are not Baby Machines. Women like men who like children, but they don't like being objectified as Babymakers. If you're over 40, and you only talk to women under 35, we know what you are up to, and we don't like it. I know a woman who was asked during a Catholic event if she were Single, and when she said she wasn't, she got this whole confession about how this guy really wanted a big family and so he really wanted to find a woman to be the mother of his children. My friend, quite understandably, felt rather uncomfortable. We want to be loved for ourselves, not for our reproductive capacities. And you could be sterile anyway, big boy.
7. Be Kind to Children, Women and the Elderly. Don't complain when kids cry or gabble at Mass. Don't diss your mother, sisters or (unless to your fiancee) your ex-girlfriends. Don't be rude to servers in restaurants or to sales staff. Hold open doors for elderly people, and give them your seat on the subway or bus.
8. Be Opinionated But Not Insane. Strong, confident opinions in keeping with the teaching of the Church are great. Conspiracy theories involving Jews/Masons/the Illuminati/John XXIII are whacked. If you have a nervous titter, find some way to get rid of it. And learn from the career of Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson is the king of Screwed up Catholic Boys. Incidentally, every time you do or say something dumb, pray for Mel Gibson.
9. Avoid looking like you belong the local gay subculture. If you actually do have SSA, you don't have to tell anyone, unless you want to, and hopefully you know that this is sensitive information you shouldn't tell just anyone. Nice Catholic Girls are very, very fond of their male friends with SSA, especially if you are doing your best to live a sex-free Christian life. All Catholic boys, whether or not they have SSA, should know that dying your hair blond once summer rolls around is kind of a gay thing, and, sure, you can do it, but Nice Catholic Girls will mentally cross you off our Potential Boyfriend list. Incidentally, bisexual men scare us out of our tiny AIDS-phobic Catholic minds.
10. Don't string a girl along forever. Don't waste a woman's precious time. Don't date girls you know you could never marry, no matter how cute and fun they are. Once you know she is not the One, say so. (She may be furious--I always was--but she'll live.) But when you know she is the One, say so. You don't have to have the ring already unless you are really, really sure she will say "Yes."
Sometimes you know after 10 days, like my husband did. Sometimes you know after six months or so. Sometimes it takes a year (or two or more, if you're in high school). But when you know, you KNOW. Meanwhile, keep in mind that when you are dating a Nice Catholic Girl, you are preventing her from meeting and dating Nice Catholic Boys who might treat her better than you do. And don't you dare pressure her for sex--or even kisses, if she doesn't feel ready to kiss you. (If she pressures you for sex, ditch her. Nice Catholic Girls do not pressure men for sex.) But if she gets worried because you've been dating for weeks and you've never even tried to kiss her, that is 100% normal.
Personally, I don't think you should kiss a girl on the lips unless you want to marry her. Feel free to tell a girl you think kissing is for engaged people. Don't tell her that right after she has grabbed you, though, because then she will be MORTIFIED. Nice Catholic Boys do their best not to embarrass Nice Catholic Girls.
Let the comments begin!
Update (April 14): Well, hello, Catholic Match! Your conversation has been fascinating!
©Dorothy Cummings McLean 2010