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Friday, December 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 36.0° F  Overcast
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Call of duty
Do you still have to phone a date the next day?

After 10 years of a marriage that should have lasted two, I now find myself back on the market. And I'm wondering whether anything's changed while I was away. I'm specifically interested in the whole etiquette of when to contact someone, how to contact somewhere, etc. I was taught by my parents to call someone the day after a date and say thanks for a nice time, whether I had one or not. Does that still apply? Or can you just text-message her? Also, in this age of instant communication, does it really make sense to wait three days to call someone and ask her out again? That used to be the industry standard, or so I seem to recall from the movie Swingers. Sheesh, I'm really carbon-dating myself here. But I really am curious about how 'the other side' might have changed while I was hitched. Do they still like flowers? Or are they just interested in hooking up? Please reply, preferably within three days.

Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle: What can I say, Rip, you are so money! Unfortunately, because of inflation ' and the fact that you've been asleep for 10 years ' you may find that your allotment of looks, smarts and Old World charm ' taught by your parents! ' doesn't stretch quite as far as it used to. And with that Swingers reference, I'm beginning to wonder how far it stretched back in the day. Perhaps you didn't notice, Rip, but the guys in Swingers weren't really swingers. They were wannabes, Rip Van Winkle-ish throwbacks to a time when, if you had the right patter, the right convertible and the right aftershave, you were halfway home with the birds, the chicks, the bunnies, what have you. But if that stuff ever worked for anyone other than paid-in-full members of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack, the day is long gone. Frank's dead, Dean's dead, Sammy's dead and Vegas isn't feeling so good itself.

Have things changed? Oh God yes, everything's changed. Today, if you want to 'hook up' with a 'girl' ' would it kill us to say 'woman'? ' you simply go online, find the appropriate Web site (and we all know the ones I'm talking about), fill in the appropriate blanks, wait for the appropriate responses, sort through the appropriate responses, discard the inappropriate responses, respond to the most appropriate responses, make plans to 'hook up' somewhere, hook up somewhere, go back to his or her place and...and the whole thing's very neat and quick, very efficient. Women and men whom, in the past, it might have taken months to cultivate, plying them with candy and flowers and vials of cocaine, can now be had in about the time it takes to download porn. The only flaw ' if there is a flaw! ' is the slight nagging feeling that you aren't the only porn they've downloaded that day.

Miss the old should-I-call, when-should-I-call madness? Me, too. But here's the thing, Rip. It hasn't really gone anywhere. Lots of people are hooking up on the Web these days, but lots of people are getting together the same exasperating, exhilarating way they always have ' in bars, in coffee shops, at parties, at Laundromats, in my backyard. (Just tap on the window.) And as far as the whole etiquette of when/how to contact someone goes, there's only one rule: There are no rules. If you feel like calling her as soon as you get home from your date ' or in the car on the way home ' by all means, call her. She'll find it either romantic or stalker-esque. But at least you'll have acted on your own impulses instead of, say, mine. Likewise, if you want to wait three weeks to call, wait three weeks. She may even remember you! Oh, and flowers? You should definitely send them. Chicks dig flowers, man.

To meet me out by the compost pile, write to: MR. RIGHT, ISTHMUS, 101 KING ST., MADISON, WI 53703. OR CALL 251-1206, EXT. 152. OR E-MAIL MRRIGHT@ISTHMUS.COM.

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