I was unusually busy this weekend for Polish Pretend Son came for a visit, there were sung Masses for three days in a row, and it was B.A.'s and my turn to host the weekly Sunday Lunch. This meant a lot of cooking and washing dishes in between bouts of Mass going, and it takes us at least an hour to get to the church where the local FSSP priest says Mass and the Schola (including B.A.) sings. Fortunately, although I am happy to leave daily cooking to B.A., who finds it relaxing, I enjoy the challenge of extravagant cooking, even though it often includes bad words, tears, and throwing everyone out of the kitchen. I am drinking a big cup of barszcz cierwony right now; yum, yum, slurp, slurp.
On the way to Mass yesterday, Polish Pretend Son, who is an Eavesdropper, lit into me because he feels I am leading you all astray with my advice not to settle, and when I bragged of the babies some of you now have (as I felt this would be a joy more tangible to his mind than the heightened satisfaction and tranquility of the current Singles), he went on about the principle of unintended consequences, which was nice because he is rather handsome. I don't really mind if men lecture me on the law of whatever as long as they are nice to look at. Benedict Ambrose himself was going on about some rubbish yesterday and paramount in my thoughts was how his eyes really are the darkest blue. They are so dark, you would think they weren't blue, unless you looked very closely, which you better not, for I am a tad jealous. Where was I?
Oh, yes. Leading you all astray. Last night during Lunch (since Lunch lasted from 4 PM until 2:30 AM), the Master of the Men's Schola, also an Eavesdropper, himself suggested I was leading you astray. Again, I didn't mind that much as he is also rather handsome, but on the other hand, he did not seem to have been Eavesdropping very carefully. He seemed to be under the impression that I tell those Singles that want to get married that you can just sit at home and do nothing and potential husbands will fall on their knees before you.
Well, of course I do not believe that, although of course all things are possible with God, and perhaps he wants you to marry an Amazon delivery guy or the UPS man or even the postman, so always smile at them and say "Good morning" or "Hello, did you bring me a present today?"
But, once again, the point to my blog is not to get you all married off, but to encourage the Singles in their Single lives and point out that life is worth living even if you are not married and have no children "of your own." My goal is to make you happier and more confident (and therefore simultaneously less interested in yourself and more interested in others) and eager to squeeze the juice from the orange of life. The fact that being happier, more confident (and therefore more other-focused) and more eager to squeeze the juice from the orange of life makes you attractive to men is just a welcome side-effect.
By the way, I cannot stress enough that when you are really confident, you don't have to prove consciously to people how confident you are. You can let them talk more, and you can ask them questions about themselves, and you don't take it to heart when they say something boneheaded, like a PhD is just the Bachelors degree of yesteryear. (Bernard Lonergan, the great Canadian Jesuit philosopher, called the PhD "your union card"; I recommend saying, "It'll be my union card!" instead of giving Mr Not Great With Words an angry lecture.)
Meanwhile, I do think there are things you can do to improve your chances of getting married to Mr Right, keeping always in mind that Providence is in charge anyway. (Being proactive and yet trusting completely in Providence is a tough challenge, as I know perfectly well, having dragged myself to scary foreign medical centre with its scary huge needles and PC jargon to find out why I can't get pregnant--ICK!) So here is a handy list:
1. Live in public. I get up to 1,000 hits a day. I don't have to leave the house to live in public. Of course, now my blog is targeted at women, and I keep comparing men to cappuccino, squirrels, fish and other lesser beings, so really, I don't think it would help me get married again. Which brings me to Point 2.
2. Think about your audience.
a)The book that I used to hide from my mother says that men respond well to women who wear bright colours and pastels, but not so much to women who wear black, brown and grey. It says make-up adds interest to your face and that men who say don't like it are wrong.
b)The manosphere insists that women should not cut our hair short.
c) The manosphere is unpleasantly blunt about body type. I think the manosphere is largely populated by wiseacres who get a thrill from writing the meanest things about women they can think of, but I also think we should all strive for whichever weight our own personal doctors tell us is right for us, and then dress to flatter it. Shovel all responsibility for the dread number on the scale onto the doctor. If Doctor Such-and-such says "140/10 st./63.5 kg stone" strive for 140/10 st./63.5 and to heck with everyone else. Meanwhile, exercise and vegetables are great improvers of mood, and sugar is the new antichrist.
d) Men hate being yelled at, berated, lectured (except in a lecture hall), chastised, told how a gentleman ought to behave, mocked, lectured on evils of the patriarchy, and told to get this and to do that. They hate it worse than poison. In fact, they sometimes take refuge in poison. Whenever I lecture him on the evils of the patriarchy, Polish Pretend Son rushes outdoors to suck industrial quantities of nicotine into his bloodstream.
(Okay, I admit poetic license on that one, but I couldn't resist.)
One of the most charming women I know has a fail-safe reaction to men she feels tempted to yell at, berate, lecture, chastise, tell how a gentleman ought to behave, mock, lecture and boss around. She laughs gaily, as if what they had just said or done was a hilarious joke, and silently and secretly despises them.
If they deserve to be yelled at, you shouldn't waste your time on them anyway. Don't waste the pretty; off you go. The only men worth yelling at are in your family already. Nothing says "female relation I am never going to be romantic with" like a good yelling or a firm lecture.
e) Men like being flattered in small, unscary doses. Even if they think you might be lying, they like it. But they especially like to be praised for anything they feel they deserve praise for, e.g. "Nice car!"; "Excellent report!"; "OMG, you washed the DISHES?!"). I imagine that this tendency spans the ages, but I bet it is even more entrenched now that girls are told we can do anything and boys are told they need to be more like girls.
f) Increasing numbers of men are flat-out terrified that if they marry, they will be bossed around, cut off from sex, divorced, unable to be proper fathers to their children, and fleeced of all their future earnings. I'm not sure what you can do about that, but it's something to keep in mind. Perhaps when the subject comes up, you can praise married women for how nice they are to their husbands and kids, e.g. "Janet could have been CEO, but she refused promotion because it meant she would never see Robbie and the kids. I admire that."
If you are tempted to add that ROBBIE would have accepted the promotion in a shot, and Janet and the kids would have been expected by society to lump it, remember your audience and stow it.
3. Don't waste your time barking up the wrong tree. Don't get involved emotionally online with men you will probably never meet in person. Don't date guys who have told you they ain't never getting married. Don't fall in love with homosexuals or bisexuals, no matter how nice they are, unless they are among the few ( perhaps the very few) who have gone straight and have "been straight" for years.* Don't fall in love with addicts. Resist all temptations to martyr yourself for some guy, especially if all your friends and relations mysteriously don't understand how great he is. Break up ASAP with the guy who says that he wants to marry someone completely different from you. Don't date seminarians. Don't date seminarians on summer holidays. Don't date recent seminary drop-outs. Don't allow yourself to think of your young and handsome priest friend as the most important man in your life. Don't be more than friendly to tourists. Don't take seriously declarations of love when you are a tourist, especially the night before your flight home. Don't date separated/divorcing/recently divorced men and say strictly "just good friends for now" until and unless he gets his annulment papers in the mail.
And that is all I have to say this morning.
*And even then, consult expert opinion. It's all too complicated for me. Evelyn Waugh did some stuff in university he ought not to have done, and still married (twice) and had seven children. But in his day Englishmen could go to prison for homosexual acts, and today the politics are such that just trying to figure out the truth about the fluidity of sexual orientation (e.g. if it exists) is fraught with difficulties.