Wednesday, 7 April 2010

How To Seem Like a Good Catholic Boy

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


IA_ said...


Remind the young men to dress well too (as fitting their sub-culture.)

Men judge women in part based on how they appear. Doesn't it make sense that women do the same?

Catholic Girl in NYC said...

It's also not so nice when a guy spends hours talking to a girl after a huge Catholic event, invites her to join his group of friends to hang out at a diner upon leaving, and then doesn't ask her out. She ends up with a crush on him because he acted like he liked her, but all he really did was string her along for a couple hours.

Alisha said...

I agree with all of these! :)
With regards to career, can I suggest a slight modification? Don't think just career, think "calling" and think "gifts" and the fact that they are not your own. Your life is not your own. A man who knows this and trusts God is living in the truth and the truth is beautiful...and the thing is, financial security may not always be part of one's calling. I include a link here to an article my Michael O'Brien, who is definitely a holy man, good Catholic, father of many children and yet his calling is not one that involves financial security but how that can fit in marriage. He speaks of it very elegantly here (look esp at paragraphs 3-6):

As to long hair on men...I think it depends how long and if they can work it or not - Antonio Banderas can, for example, and still looks masculine (warning - he is almost breaking the "no shirt rule", but then again, he is a fallen away Catholic - so pray for him and Mel!!):

Seraphic said...

IA, girls don't care as much about looks as guys do. Read the top bit! I only care so much about looks because I am over 30. In general, 20-something men fall in love with women because they think they're beautiful, and 20-something women think men are beautiful because they have fallen in love with them.

As long as the clothes are clean, not ripped, and do not hint at gay or gangster sub-cultures, our GCB is good to go. Oh, no Speedos or short shorts, of course.

CGNYC, oh dear. It sounds like the man was doing his best to be friendly and introduce you to people, not "string you along". Never talk to the same man for more than an hour, if even that long! I recommend "The Rules" about always ending a conversation/date first. SOOOO important!

Alisha, Antonio Bandaras is not by any stretch of the imagination a Good Catholic Boy! And I'm sure Mr. O'Brien did not tell the future Mrs. O'Brien that he was PLANNING on being as poor as a church mouse. He probably described dreams of being as famous a novellist as Graham Greene and as famous an artist as Emily Carr. The point is that a guy who is looking to find a Nice Catholic Girl has to have something to offer beside a space beside him on the couch while he plays video games.

Annie said...

Seraphic, is there a male version of you who can post this on his blog? I cannot overstate how awesome this list is, and how truly important item #1 is. It worries me that so few men realize that they either need things financially in order or have a plan to get them there before they seriously pursue a woman.

Am I the only one in who believes facial hair, particularly stubble, makes men more attractive? Please also don't tell me that I'm the only woman who swoons at crazy curly hair, (too many friends can attest to this).

Seraphic said...

Facial hair in general is okay. (See above.) It's full beards that women, in general, find weird.

I bet you wouldn't like crazy curly hair if it fell to a guy's waist. When I say "short", I don't mean "crew cut"; I mean "not like a girl's hair."

healthily sanguine said...

Mind if I add one? "Organize social events." I highly respect guys who can plan some kind of gathering/meeting/happy hour/what have you. Maybe this is something that goes without saying, but it also may be something that shy guys have to make an extra effort to do. Parties are a great way to meet people and, much as I love throwing them myself, it's great if the guys can take some pressure off by organizing stuff like that too.

Annie said...

Down to his waist would not be so attractive, point Seraphic.

Also, #6 is something that a lot of good Catholic men need to learn.

Lastly, I understand the importance of not being the only woman with a mantilla, but I don't own many hats. Would a scarf work? I feel so improperly uncovered without my head covered in some way for Mass and adoration.

Seraphic said...

Nothing wrong with a lovely silky scarf!

berenike said...

is dying hair blonde really gay? Oh well, learned something else new.

You could add "Observe your real-life and online self and ask 'is this camp?'". Camp not good.

Actually most of your points (and my campery one) apply to priests and male religious too!

Alisha said...

Hey, I know AB is not a good Catholic boy - I said so...I was just using him as an example to say that in some cases men with long hair can be attractive.
And Mr. O'Brien actually did not tell the future Mrs. O'Brien that he was going to be famous...did you read the post? It was she who encouraged him in his artistic calling...

fifi said...

Had to laugh re: #7. My Mom insists that she first sat up and took notice of my Dad because he treated his grandmother like a Queen! Thinking of others rather than yourself is a very good sign!

And I definitely agree with Alisha re: careers/calling. A man who understands that his life and gifts are not his own is SO much more attractive than the boy who is living for himself and prolonging his adolescence under that backpack in Australia. Truly, I don't care if you're a plummer rather than a physicist: just be a really, really good plummer, and have passion for your vocation! I want a man on a mission... and how can I sign up to join the expedition if he doesn't know what it is?

(Incidentally, a backpack does not always a selfish boy make. There can be a calling to take up your backpack for a time as a student of history and culture and psychology, and as a pilgrim communing with his God. All men love adventure, and women love that about them. Just... be a man!)

I can think of many non-artistic professions that are not particularly conducive to providing comfortable incomes for families. Teachers and Youth Ministers/DREs are notoriously underpaid, for example. A breadwinner might also be faced with the need to go back to school at some point, to remain competitive in his field. But it's always possible to find creative solutions and divisions of labor that work for your family. And I think facilitating this and balancing the different needs and talents of everyone concerned is a huge way a man can provide for his family. It's not the narrow definition of "providing" money, but rather leadership and administration, much like the CEO or HR Manager in a firm.

For example, my own parents each had to take on side jobs, in addition to my Dad's 9-5 job and my Mom's homemaking, to keep us solvent. But I think my Mom's teaching job was generally a fine creative outlet for her rather than a burden, because my Dad was not above helping her put the baby to bed, and making sure us kids were learning and taking on household chores as we grew older. He worked with her to keep everything in balance. It ended up being good for them, and good for us.

Not really directed at anyone, just musing aloud...

Lemons said...

I just don't like the word "seem" as used here. Men should *be* Nice Catholic Boys. I don't want some charming man to come to me using all the things in this list, sweep me off my feet, get me to want to marry him (or worse, actually marry him) and find that he's a sexist, long-haired, voluntarily jobless loser.

Men should strive to BE these things, and do these things for themselves and their own soul before they do them in order to attract Nice Catholic Girls. Because eventually, they'll tire of trying to impress someone else and relapse. The change has to be for them before it's for a girl.

Seraphic said...

Fifi, I think your phrase "a man on a mission" sums up the heart of what I mean in #1!

Lemons, I suspected someone would eventually make that objection. I have three answers, and they are

1) that Holy Scripture and the Catechism tell men how to BE Good Catholic Boys--they don't need me for that,

2) that all Catholics know deep down that we are BAD Catholics, totally dependent on the mercy and forgiveness of God--I use NCG & NCB in a slightly playful way, and

3) that a lot of good men have no idea how to present themselves as good men, so I am providing them with tips.

A lot of good men are as awkward as a three-legged chair, which means some are still Single into their 30s and 40s--very good news for us girls over 35! Not so nice for them, though, if they have been lonely for 20 years because no one ever told them to stop wearing clothes with holes.

Seraphic said...

Berenike, well--yes! Not all Nice Catholic Boys are getting married one day.

As for men dying their hair blond, I was once electrified by a friend with SSA suddenly saying, as we were walking down a city street, "Ah, you know it is summer when the gay men have started bleaching their hair!"

theobromophile said...

Agree with organising social events. I've dated loners and introverts, and it's not fun.

As for money: be aware that the two biggest things that couples fight about are sex and money. (Yeah, I've said this before.) Make enough so that a woman won't fear for the sanity of your marriage or the well-being of future children.

healthily sanguine said...

The guy I'm currently interested in jokingly laments his entrance into law school, saying it was motivated by the desire to provide for a non-existent wife and children: "I was putting the cart before the horse!" Meanwhile, he's tall, handsome, and on the verge of beginning a successful legal career . . . what's not to like? :)

Seraphic said...

Hmm, Healthily Sanguine, should I be sending up a prayer...?

healthily sanguine said...

Oh, please do! :) I'll send some back your way for all the good work you do!

littlegreengardengal said...

So am I really in the minority that I like beards on guys? I'm sure it has to do with where I grew up, but I much prefer beard to no beard. Hmm.... I was surprised to see that on your list.

I really like #7. Kindness (or lack thereof) is one of the first things I notice when I meet someone.

Seraphic said...

Apparently, most women like light stubble best of all.

And for light stubble, your average guy will have to shave once every two (or three?) days or so. I guess it depends on the guy.

My husband HAS a beard, so I only have a vague idea. I think my clean-shaven brothers look bizaare with stubble.

I never imagined I would marry a man with a beard, but without the beard he looks exactly like the young Eric Idle, which freaks both of us right out.

Elayne said...

It's also important for a NCB to remember that if a woman indicates she is not interested in him (friendship or romantically) it's polite for him to leave her alone. There are lots and lots of other girls who such a NCB could be spending energy on.

Lemons said...

My long overdue response to your answer that we're all technically bad Catholics anyway is that

1) it sounds a little Lutheran, but that's just me. :P

2)the quote "Be perfect, even as my Father is perfect." comes to mind. Many of us may never reach perfection in this life, but that doesn't mean we should continue to only try to "seem" like a good Catholic.

3) How many of us attempt to read the Bible, let alone understand it and make correct interpretations? That's why most of us read good Catholic blogs like this one, for a more educated approach to Catholic teachings. If the Bible had everything we needed to know written in layman's terms, we wouldn't need priests, the pope, "modern" (as in, not written 2000+ years ago) spiritual reading, or Seraphic Singles. :)

Julie said...

I have seen far too many dudes with that sort of Beethoven long hair, brushed back from the hairline and shoulder length and it is the WORST JUST THE WORST. I know you think you're showing how old fashioned you are but sweet lord, just say no.