Monday, March 31, 2008


I lived with just my mother and sister from age 10 onward. The classes in the schools I went to were 80% female.

Women are not now, nor have they ever in memory been, mysterious to me. I mention this because the blogosphere seems awash in dating advice (Ace) this morning (Althouse) and to me it is all so much hieroglyphics.

After 4-5 years of hormonal torment--some of which could have been disastrous had I acted on one set of impulses rather than another set--I decided that my best bet for happiness was to get my own self together and not worry about having a relationship with someone else. (In contrast with the times, and perhaps dysfunctionally, I was more interested in finding a life partner than a sex partner.)

A few months later, I became best friends with a girl. A few months after that, we started dating. A little while after that came marriage and not too long after that, children. I'm glossing over some of the messier details and completely eliding the romance; such things are hackery and puffery when you consider that the story arc I'm describing is pretty close to the way previous generations operated en masse (in situations where one was allowed to choose one's mate).

The stuff I read--the dating advice, the stories of dating, the game playing, the unhappiness and lack of fulfillment, the questing for some mythical other that will, one way or the other, keep a person from having to get his own self together--makes me think we made the right decision lo those many years ago. Life has had many challenges, to be sure, and to have gone through them together has created a shared experience that is really otherwise unattainable.

It gets really weird for me when Allah and Ace talk about alpha males. They paint a picture of the beta male that wants but cannot have because of the alpha male. I'm no biologist, but animals (specifically chimpanzees) who are beta defer to the alpha. They bow down, they appease, they propitiate. They essentially fear the alpha male, and this keeps their behavior (and presumably their weak-ass genes) in line.

The beauty of being a human--especially one in a society without governmentally-backed royalty--is that you never have to defer to anyone. Right? Isn't that what all those old westerns were really about? A Man for All Seasons? Horton Hears A Freakin' Who? They talk about being beta as if it were their genetic birthright, but if you're a man, isn't it really always a choice? (A choice with some occasionally hugely horrible consequences, like beheading or being made into beezlenut stew, but if it were easy, it wouldn't be particularly admirable, would it?)

Maybe I'm oversimplifying. It's worked for me.

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