Happy Valentine’s Day! Have this dead squirrel

By Scott Green

If the dating scene is a meat market, I feel like a box of fish sticks. My head knows girls say they want funny guys, but my heart knows they confuse “funny” with “muscular” and “guys” with “guys who are not me.” It would be easier if I could figure out what girls are thinking, but I have a genetic mutation that prevents this – namely, a Y chromosome.

Last December I went on a first date with a girl named Veronica. (I am using a pseudonym; this is not to protect her identity but because I forgot the cardinal rule of both journalism and dating: Always get the other person’s name.)

I considered the date a great success. This was largely due to the speed with which she turned our dinner conversation to one of my favorite first-date topics, bovine flatulence. (Really. She’s a veterinary medicine student and dove into the subject over her third alcoholic beverage.) But Veronica turned cold afterwards, not returning my calls and generally being evasive. Luckily, I have a plan for such situations: Overanalyze everything and worry.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if women were as easy to read as men. There is a simple way for a woman to tell if a man is interested – looking at his eyes. Is he making steady, effortless, unbreaking eye contact that suggests he is comfortable and focused? Then he is not interested. What you women are looking for, ideally, is a guy having a hard time keeping his focus up to face level.

Because reading women is so tricky, I’ve always had a hard time behaving around the ones who interest me. When I was 13, I spent a lot of time going to bar and bat mitzvahs and slow-dancing with girls. I only knew one dance move, which consisted of holding my arms straight out in front of me, elbows unbent, my fingertips making slight molecular contact with the girl at about waist level, while awkwardly rocking side to side and staring into space to avoid eye contact. This was done to pretend I wasn’t interested in whomever I was dancing with, even though my 13-year-old caveman hormones were instructing me to club a squirrel and present it to her with my manliest grunt. I was adorable.

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Most of my attempts to feign disinterest at that age were directed at Michelle Zimbler. I needed to keep her totally convinced I did not have a crush on her, because the only good that could have come from her finding out would have been a long-term relationship, marriage, a brood of healthy children, and the founding of a charitable organization to feed starving third-world children.

Luckily, I dodged that bullet. At my own bar mitzvah, after the DJ threatened to make me slow dance with my mother if I didn’t find another classmate, I asked Michelle to dance with the classic line from “Romeo and Juliet”: “You’re better than my mom!” And I meant it.

So my background in dealing with girls is less than ideal. My only reliable indicator that a girl is interested is that I develop a cold sore. I’ve gotten one at the start of just about every relationship I’ve ever been in. On dates they’re like little chaperones. “You think you’re kissing that girl?” the cold sore says. “I think not.” Without the ability to kiss, my dates and I have to find other ways to demonstrate our mutual attraction, including – and this may shock readers of a newspaper of this caliber – having a conversation.

The big wisdom I can offer to men who are pursuing women is, you just have to be yourself and find someone who likes you for you, and stop worrying about trying to read their thoughts. There is no way to hide who you really are. In other words, I should have clubbed that squirrel for Michelle.

Ultimately things didn’t work out between me and Veronica the vet student, though this may not be such a bad thing. The whole time we were at dinner I was uncomfortably self-conscious. I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility that, a few days earlier, she may have attempted life-saving surgery on my veal parmesan.

Scott is a second-year law student. He is listed as “single” on Facebook.