Friday, 17 September 2010

Honourable Combat

I wasn't here yesterday because I was lying in wait for the Holy Father, Benedict XVI. First I hung outside the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh for hours, and then I rushed to Glasgow to await him in Bellahouston Park. And as is my usual practise, I prayed for all my little Singles at the elevation of the chalice.

While I was away, I got many emails. And one of them was from a Nice Catholic Boy who pointed out that if a man gets shot down by a woman or women in a small Catholic circle, moving on is just not that easy.

I know this to be true, which is why I addressed this very misfortune in the Catholic Register. Hmm...the Catholic Register no longer lovingly archives online every single thing I write, so I will have to reiterate my warnings against DRAMA below.

I am writing as an ex-drama addict. When I was 21 or so, nothing thrilled me like a good old lover's triangle, as long as the apex of the triangle was little me. I am not proud of this. I shudder to think what this will look like if I ever see my whole life flash in front of my eyes, e.g. on Judgment Day. So I feel qualified to tell the young Catholic men and women of the world to quit with the drama, to rise above the drama, and to actually behave like Christians.

First of all, if you are a man, and you develop a crush on a woman, for heaven's sake, don't let it evolve into an obsession that has nothing to do with the real her and everything to do with your idea of what the real her might/"should" be. Talk to her, observe if she seems interested in you (smiles brightly, touches your arm, asks you to a party) and then ask her out for coffee. If coffee goes well, ask her out for dinner. Don't, I beg you, just moon around for weeks and months on end without making a clear move. It puts a woman in a very uncomfortable position.

Second of all, if you are a woman, don't encourage those men you are not interested in. Yes, it's fun to hug your friends. But the second you start to think that ol' Greg or ol' Petey--whom you like but not in THAT way--has a crush on you, stop touching him. I mean that. Stop touching him. Since when did women start going around hugging men we're not related to anyway? And when ol' Greg or ol' Petey starts making date noises, turn him down swiftly and kindly. Ask "Is this as friends or as a date?" Hopefully ol' G or ol'P makes a reply even as clear as "As whatever you want it to be." At which point you say, "I want us to be just friends."

Third, and this is very important, you do not relate George's or Petey's humiliation (for no matter how swift or nice you are about it, it will be a humiliation) to your friends. Yes, this is very hard. Yes, this is almost impossible. But keeping quiet is the right thing to do. And when your pal tells you a week later that Greg just asked her out, you are going to have to pray to St. Jude the Patron of Lost Causes to ask the Lord to help you keep your mouth shut. You turned down Greg, and now he has the right to ask out anyone he wants. And he does not need you to make him look like a loser.

Fourth, Greg and Petey, if you ask a girl out and she says No, you are not allowed to go around talking about what a bitch she is. You are not allowed to go home and brood and wonder what will happen if you try again next week. No means No. Maybe in three months, the girl, having had time to think about you a little more, will be more amenable to your suit, but for now, drop it.

We all know what happens to our small Catholic circles when these rules are not followed. It's not pretty. It's bad for everyone. The nice Catholic men are humiliated and afraid to approach other women in the group, and the women wonder why they haven't been snapped up by a nice Catholic man yet. In short, behaving like a mute or babbling stalker (guys) or a bitch (girls) has its built-in punishment. And it hurts the whole community.

I hope to do my bit to end the war between the sexes, so I'm a little uneasy about the title of this post. However, the image I have in my head is of my difficult hero, the Red Baron. The Red Baron was, as you know, a German flying ace in the First World War. And fighter pilots in the First World War, no matter what country they fought for, usually had an honour code. They tried to shoot down planes, not to kill pilots, if you see the difference. Sometimes they would shoot down a plane, see if the pilot emerged, and then, if he did, waggle their wings in a friendly fashion before zooming away. They did not--unless they were real bastards--stood him standing there on the ground. The Red Baron was not a real bastard. He was a gentleman.

So my little Singles, I beg you to remember the model of the honourable German fighter pilot. Sometimes you have to shoot someone down, but you never have to make it worse for him or her. Gossiping about what he/she said to you, and what you said, and how disgusted you are that he/she would even dream, blah blah blah, is just nasty. Don't do it.


theobromophile said...

Complaining about men who are decent also has a second punishment: no one believes you - or any other woman - when a man does something truly terrible.

When you don't complain a lot, your complaints pack a lot more punch when you do call someone out. Contrariwise, if you act like Greg or Petey is a Not Nice Man that no Nice Girl should have around, then the NNMTNNGSHAs look like basically decent men, which does a disservice to every NCG who encounters those bad men.

some guy on the street said...

After chasing the Red Baron through the skies of France, the WW Flying Ace relaxes with a frothy mug of rootbeer.