pacing the void

By Mark Joseph Goldenson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 31, 1997

From Al Gore to Mother Theresa, public figures reveal the keys to dating


Chad Strawderman
Arizona Daily Wildcat

O-Chem finals. Thesis dissertations. The Iron Maiden. For centuries, these torture devices have caused horrible human suffering. Yet, even they can not rival the most excruciating experience known to man. This trial of life affects all people, of all races, at all ages, from kindergarten to college. It is the act of asking someone out.

We all know the feeling- racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, cold chills, stuttering, drooling, paralysis. Humans revert about three steps on the evolutionary chain during this frightening leap of faith. A successful attempt could yield months, even years of relationship bliss. A failure causes weeks of moping, not to mention an ego scarred for life.

But fear not, fair reader. I have ventured into the dating world and conducted an in-depth study of this intimidating ritual. What follows are my results, an ensemble of the most effective approaches for asking someone out, from the direct to the deviant. I hope this wisdom will influence your own approach and guide you to dating nirvana. If it doesn't, be masochistic and explore new means to failure.

  • The Don Juan: A classic approach- romanticism in overdrive. Praising a body part of the prospective mate is mandatory. Eyes, ears, hips, hair- it doesn't matter. Just make it sappy and make it good. Buying a gift is also required. Any of the traditional ones will work: roses, candy, balloons, BMWs. The gift need not be expensive, yet studies show a successful response is inversely proportional to the weight of your wallet after purchase. But, don't buy something too big, like, Tahiti.

  • The Mother Theresa: With political correctness on the rise, this theme is especially popular. You must display as much philanthropy as possible. Set up a date in a soup kitchen. Whip out your organ donor card. Show off pictures of adopted children in Guatemala. Be sincere, and you may woo your desired date with compassion. If not, don't sweat it. Your beloved is probably one of those cold-hearted Republicans.

  • The Clinton (also known as the Kennedy): The Clinton is a bold approach, requiring wild exaggerations and a maximum of charm. Invite your intended for a midnight drive in your Porsche (make sure you steer clear of bridges). Practice a goofy smile in the mirror, and laugh constantly. Then, have the Secret Service deliver flowers. It's a long shot, but even if it works, don't ask for oral sex on the first date. You may want to be president some day.

  • The Pee Wee Herman: Self-explanatory.

  • The Dan Quayle (also known as the Ross Perot): The Dan Quayle is another long shot, rooted in hopeless incompetence or unbridled insanity. Quayle practitioners must aim to amuse or confuse their potential dates to such an extreme that they accept just for entertainment value, or to study your psychosis (the Quayle works best on psych. majors). To prepare for the Quayle, study films by Chris Farley and Jim Carrey. Wear beanies and moo-moos. Make obscure analogies comparing two totally unrelated concepts. For instance: "You know, this here cactus is like the government- big, green, and prickly all over." Success rate of the Quayle is low, so don't expect a commitment. If anything, expect to be committed.

  • The Al Gore: The Gore is the behavioral antithesis to the Clinton. This approach is monotony incarnated. Gore devotees aim to incapacitate their potential mates with unparalleled dullness. Much like a deer in headlights, the Gore victim is powerless to resist a date proposal. To be a disciple of the Gore, adopt the personality of cardboard. Take accounting classes, drive a Yugo, and follow the PGA golf tour. However, be cautious. Due to unreliable results, this approach, like its namesake, is a desperate last resort.

If all else fails, and every approach only brings you Saturday night bingo with mom, there is one last option. It's called "honesty." Studies of this peculiar approach are sparse, for it is so rarely implemented. Apparently, "honesty" practitioners use no approach at all. Although studies are inconclusive, this theme may be somewhat successful. Maybe, no facade is the best facade of all. Maybe, this "honesty" is the best way to find our counterparts.

Nah. It's probably just for masochists.

When he isn't practicing masochism, Mark Joseph Goldenson majors in psychology and molecular and cellular biology. His column, 'Gold Standard,' appears Fridays.