It's too soon to post it up, but this morning all I can think about is an email from a gentle reader who says she has never been alone with a man to whom she is not related. This is not a gentle reader from India or Saudi Arabia but from, I believe, the Good Ol' US of A. And she is in her late 20s.
Now, I did ask in my response if she meant that literally. For example, sometimes one does find oneself alone with a bus driver. Or in the work place with one's boss. Or in the hair salon with the hairstylist. Or in an office with a male prof, the paranoid prof having jammed the door open with several books. Or in priest's office, weeping into a tissue. This would be much, much better than never, literally never, having been alone with an unrelated man. Because, really, how could one cope on a date, for example, if one had not so much as chatted with a bus driver?
And as a matter of fact, my poor reader did get ambushed by a neighbour, who suddenly popped up behind her car in the dead of night, to say that he had been watching her from his window, and she looked beautiful and like a true lady, and would she go out with him.
Terrified about the idea of being watched by the neighbour every time she got out of her car, my reader told her mother, and her mother gave her a hard time. Turns out Mr Neighbour asked her parents first, and the parents had never told her. And Mom went on to give him a chance and said mean things.
Excuse me? The parents never told their quiet, shy, never-been-alone-with-a-man not to expect the neighbour to come bounding out of the dark with date proposals? What the heck? And why did Doctor Spock never write a book called "How to Parent your Adult Daughter?" Because, I'm sorry, my poor reader went on to have a nightmare that she had been whisked off in the neighbour's pickup truck against her will.
Someone is not rooted in reality, and it's my poor reader's mother. If your daughter is shy, retiring, and has never been alone with a man in her 25+ years, it is up to you to do something about it. You can't expect her to suddenly trust random neighbours with pick-up trucks just because they live next door and she's 25+ years old!
What Baby Boomers don't seem to get is that by tearing down society and ushering in the Sexual Revolution they have made the sexual realm so much more scary for their children. It's bad enough for girls who have to go to school with sniggering, hyper-sexualized boys; imagine the home-schooled. The girls in co-ed schools have at least learned what to expect and how to deal with it. The home-schooled go to college and discover a guy in a phallic costume shoving condoms at them during "Healthy Sex Week."
My reader's mother would probably wonder what I expect her to do, and first and foremost I expect her to tell her daughter within ten minutes that some guy is was interested in dating her. It's not like the daughter was going to say, "Oh, Mom! You ruined the surprise!" Second, I expect my reader's mother to realize that her daughter has managed to be as socially sheltered as a well-brought-up 19th century lady and that it is up to her, the mother, to invite suitors into the parlour. It's the freakin' neighbour. It wouldn't even have to be into the parlour. It could be into the kitchen for a cup of coffee.
Update: I just asked a young Eavesdropper in the house where his generation learns how to date, which was a silly question, as the Eavesdropper looks not to his own generation for cues as to how to behave but to that of General Piłsudski. Were I his mother, I would probably arrange cotillions and things like that, shoving him at lovely, bashful wallflowers and cutting off married adventuresses at the pass. Well, I suspect his generation learns how to date from television---a horrible thought, but since so many women thought "Sex & the City" a good guide to real life, there maybe a lot of men who think "How I Met Your Mother" is the way things work.
If true, that would be very pathetic. Does anyone know if the "Third Date Rule" is still floating around out there? I haven't had to worry about it for five years. But if it is, I shall have to write about it again because I hate the idea of my gentle readers finding out about it the hard way, as I did.
Update 2: And that was extremely pathetic. He was living with his mother, whom he shooed away for the night, and cooked a meal that took simply forever to prepare, so that I was quite starving, and had a special mix tape including "Rainbow Connection", which he sang along with Kermit, and when I finally realized what he was up to and asked what gave, he asked, "Haven't you heard of the Third Date Rule?"