Sorry I'm late today. First I wrote for money, then I rushed off for coffee with Calvinist Cath, and then I came home and surfed like mad for the latest news on the Pope's statement. You know which statement.
I got a fascinating letter this morning, but I haven't finished thinking about it, so I won't put it up yet. My answer was, as it so often is, to stay rooted in reality.
One of the best books about staying rooted in reality is Bernard Lonergan's Insight, which is over 800 pages long, so you might want to save that for a rainy day. Another great book about staying rooted in reality is He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. I'm talking about the self-help book, not the movie, poppets.
HJNTIY is way thinner than Lonergan's Insight and much funnier, too. By now you should be able to find it in used book stores for $1 (or £1), and I recommend it with the usual reservations, i.e. it does not apply as well to religious men. Ol' Greg holds that if a man is Just That Into You, he is sleeping with you, and obviously that is not true of religious men, at least, any religious man you should be involved with. Of course, if he is Just That Into You, he would like to sleep with you, but doesn't 'cause you're not married yet. Et cetera.
Greg's thesis is that when men are That Into You, there is no guesswork. Not exactly the subtle sex, when men are That Into You they call you up and ask you out and pay for your dinner and give you flowers and even little presents and generally try to impress you. They don't allow weeks to elapse between phone calls. They don't ponder their supposed call to the priesthood. (Okay, I say that, not Greg. Obviously Greg's life is not as complicated as ours.)
Now, when discussing this supposed jumping-to-action of men with Cath, I realized that to accept Greg's thesis is to accept his anthropology of men. What if men have changed? What if men are the new women? What if men loiter at home, carefully blow-drying their hair, waiting for the phone to ring and strong women to whisk them away in snazzy cars to French restaurants? But then I decided that that is moot because who really wants that kind of man anyway? It's much better to wait for one of the old-style models to come along.
Meanwhile, when I ponder the stories of happily married friends, the narrative always seems to be that he liked her and plotted to get her and she was, like, huh? wha--?, and the wedding rocked. I am cudgelling my brain for a story of a pal who chased down her man, lassoed him and brought him, happily protesting, to the altar, but I can't think of one. And I know some very mild-mannered men. One of them started his pursuit by organizing a party at his home for all his workmates in the hope that his pretty workmate would attend. She did. They've been married for yonks.
Anyway, although it can be disspiriting, I must say that I prefer Greg's somewhat brutal approach to months and years of daydreaming about some friendly-but-generally-uninterested-in-you bloke. Of course, some imaginations just need a tenant. Heaven knows I always had a crush on the go from the age of 4.
If that sounds like you, I suggest inventing The Perfect Hero in your imagination, not based on any one living man, and writing a Christian romance novel about him. And when that one is done, and all your girl friends have read it, send it to a publisher. Then invent a new perfect hero, and write a Christian romance novel about him. Who is Theodore (Laurie) Lawrence but the wish-fulfillment of Louisa May Alcott, after all? And he made her rich!
Ooooh! Just imagine. All the earning potential of a real man, but none of the laundry or snores. And finally--all that daydreaming harnessed and used for something useful. ;-D