JOE WEBB AND CO. – THE WRITTEN WORLD

LESSON #15: GO ON DATES

Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on September 27, 2008

LESSON #15: GO ON DATES

typewriter9          It seems like every week, someone in the English department will post an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on his or her office door lamenting the fact that “26% of college graduates can’t correctly make change” or “43% of American collegians can’t pick out China on a World Map.”  Now, obviously, these are problems that need to be addressed – because, in my opinion, a third-grader who can’t do these things should be labeled “a little slow.”  But, there’s another problem with our college graduates that I never see addressed in the Chronicle – and that is that 94% of America’s brightest young pupils (which, given the whole “change-counting” thing might be a bit of a generous label for “college graduates”) leave their alma mater with absolutely no idea how to date. And this is just a DISASTER.

          Now, as best I can tell after spending the last ten years at three distinctly different American universities, college students who don’t date fall into two camps.  On one side, we’ve got a group of extremely conservative evangelical Christians, who have all read a book by Joshua Harris entitled I Kissed Dating Goodbye.  Practitioners of Harris’s doctrine engage in a Victorian-era courtship, and after sealing their pending nuptials with a handshake, get married while they are still undergraduates and immediately begin making babies.  Because this group seems to be happy, and because the early returns have proven these marriages to be fairly successful, this post has very little to do with the “courtship” alternative to dating.  Just keep on, keeping on – I suppose.

          On the other side, however, the far greater majority of you don’t date in college because it is just too damn easy to hook up with a girl for the night.  If things go well during the initial encounter, you then simply continue to hook up with the same girl for a period of two weeks to six months, until you are either forced to acknowledge the arrangement as a “relationship,” or, because you find relationships scary, you are forced to begin hooking up with someone new.  If you choose the latter, you will get high-fives from your other single buddies after explaining to them that “a player’s gotta play.”  If you choose the former, you will then take the girl with whom you  have entered “relationship”-status to a formal dance twice a year, and this experience will constitute your semi-annual date.

          Now, before I explain in full the reasons why dealing with the opposite sex in this manner is both stupid and conducive to a state of Arrested Development, a word about “formals.”  Every service organization, fraternity, sorority, academic department, and athletic team seems to hold at least one of these formals each year.  And while going to a formal can be fun, it absolutely can not be considered the type of dating that prepares you for the real world.  After you graduate, you will never again be able to invite a girl who you haven’t even had coffee with to accompany you and one hundred of your fraternity brothers to Niagara Falls for a weekend of formal wear, Jello shots, Kanye West, and a night at the Radisson.  It just doesn’t translate past the age of 24.

          And so, this now leads me to a discussion of the two biggest reasons why you should learn to date in college:

          The first – YOUR HEALTH.  Hooking up leads to more sexual partners, less use of protection, and therefore greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or producing a child. Let’s think about both of these options in terms of the mainstream media.  You know how the people in the Valtrex commercials seem to be quite happy to have Herpes and act like it’s their privilege to take pills three times a day?  They’re trained actors and actresses who don’t really have the disease.  If they did, they’d look a lot less comfortable sitting on that park bench.  And, as for the unexpected pregnancy issue, let’s consider the movie Knocked Up – just in terms of the random sexual encounter as a means of selecting the person whom you are going to raise a child with for the next 18 years. Guys, listen to me.  That girl you sleep with after thirteen tequila shots doesn’t usually end up looking anything like Katherine Heigl – she probably looks more like Carrot Top.  On the flip side – girls, the random guy you sleep with after eight apple-tinis usually does look a lot like Seth Rogen.  This doesn’t happen if you go on dates first, then have sex.

          The second – YOUR FUTURE GAME.  In the United States, the average age at which males get married for the first time is 27.5; women get married around the age of 26.  Do the math.  This means that most of you will not be marrying one of the people you hooked up with in college.  Throw in those average-lowering “courtship” specialists and the guys from your high school who went straight to Diesel-Mechanic School, and it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re going to have to navigate the grown-up mating world for at least half a dozen years.  What you’ll quickly find is that the people who are still hooking up at bars on weekends are not the type of people who you want to be in a long-term relationship with.  All of the sudden, you’re like Willie Mays Hayes in Major League 2: your college game was big enough to hit home runs in the University-world that is Life’s Spring Training, but once you enter the regular season, all you’ve got is the kind of warning-track power that leads to long, pathetic put-outs.  The guys who can hit major-league home runs with doctors and lawyers and architects and graphic designers are the guys who’ve had substantial practice at asking girls out on dates, and who know how to operate in date-situations.  So, start learning now.

          Lastly, it doesn’t take a lot of money to date in college.  You don’t need to be the guy who takes girls to two hundred dollar dinners or the opera – in fact, they’d probably find you creepy if you did.  But, for the same amount of money that it costs to buy thirteen shots of tequila and eight apple-tinis, you can afford to meet a girl once for coffee, follow that first date up with Thai food and a movie, and still have enough money left over to send her flowers and a card the morning after you first make out – all without contracting one single case of the clap.

DWCG Quiz Game – Answers

Posted in Uncategorized by The Books Production Team on September 26, 2008

PRESIDENT, BOXER, OR SERIAL KILLER?

        Check out the paragraphs below to score your quiz in the inaugural installment of the DWCG Quiz Game!!!

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boston-stranglerThe Boston Strangler – Serial Killer.  Between 1962 and 1964, Albert De Salvo strangled 13 women with articles of their own clothing.  In 1967, he was sentenced to Life in Prison, only to escape a few months later from the Bridgewater Mental Institution.  Six years later, he was murdered in the maximum security prison at Walpole. 

The Brockton Blockbuster – Boxer.  Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1952 to 1956, Rocky Marciano retired with an undefeated career record of 49-0, including 43 wins by knockout.  He is the only Heavyweight Champion in history to never lose a fight.

grover-cleveland2The Buffalo Hangman – President.  Prior to being the first and only man ever elected United States President for two non-consecutive terms, Grover Cleveland spent the 1870s as first a Sheriff, then mayor, of Buffalo, New York.  While serving as Sheriff, he earned his “hangman” nickname when he personally hung two men.  Stop.  Wait a second and let that sink in.  It’s like Harvey Weingard’s choice in Entourage to join the marines as a young man because he wanted to know what if felt like to kill another man. 

The Butcher of Plainfield – Serial Killer.  While technically not exactly a serial killer (he is only known to have killed two people), Ed Gein earned a national reputation when it was discovered that he was digging up Wisconsin graveyards, performing experiments on dead people, and keeping their body parts as trophies.  Serial killers in the movies Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre all are based in part on this creepy dude’s life.  Now that’s a weird reputation. 

holmes-larry-77The Easton Assassin – Boxer.  Not to be confused with Serial Killer H. H. Holmes, boxer Larry Holmes earned his “assassin” moniker for pummeling opponents in his first 48 bouts – including wins over Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, and James “Bonecrusher” Smith.  He was later knocked out by “Iron Mike” Tyson – and now resides in his hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania. 

The Galena Butcher – President.  On June 3, 1864, Ulysses S. Grant led an ill-fated charge against the forces of Robert E. Lee at Cold Harbor, where 7000 of his troops died.  Years later, Grant admitted that he always regretted this decision, and the fateful moniker – “The Galena Butcher” – that arose because of this choice. 

The Human Iceberg – President.  In addition to the  previously mentioned nickname “Kid Gloves,” president Benjamin Harrison was also known as “Grandfather’s Hat,” because of a caricature showing the staid statesman wearing an extremely large version of the hat of his grandfather president – William Henry Harrison, or, “Old Tippecanoe.”  He earned his third nickname, “The Human Iceberg,” because, evidently, in person, President Harrison had about as much personality as the big chunk of ice that sunk the Titanic. 

van-burenThe Kinderhook Fox – President.  “Fox,” has long been a nickname associated with political caginess, and in Martin Van Buren’s case, it was paired with his home, called “Kinderhook,” to produce this boxing-worthy epithet.  While it’s easy for me to imagine the notoriously fiery Van Buren throwing a none-too-kind left-hook at his Whig rivals, it’s much harder for me to imagine that people ever considered him politically cagey – particularly given his handling of the Amistad situation. 

The Living Death – Boxer.  Also known as the “Sweet Swatter from Sweetwater,” mid-century boxer Lew Jenkins earned his “Living Death” nickname for the powerful punch he packed into a lightweight frame.  Then again, “Living Death” could also refer to his post-boxing career.  Jenkins had a lifetime record of 72 wins against 42 losses – and it can’t be easy to walk straight, let alone talk in complete sentences, when you’ve been knocked out 42 times by professional boxers.

The Louisville Lip – Boxer.  Cassius Clay, who would later become Muhammad Ali, earned his first boxing nickname because he talked a lot of smack.  See Ali – starring Will Smith, where the champ engages Howard Cosell in repeated bouts of banter.  Clay is also cited as a precursor to the modern musical genre of rap.  

hearns-thomasThe Motor City Cobra – Boxer.  Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns also proudly responded to the handle of “The Motor City Cobra.”  Often considered the greatest Super Welterweight of all time, Hearns has gone on record (in my mind) as saying he would gladly now lend his former nickname to any of the CEOs of Detroit’s Big Three auto manufacturers – and, because they couldn’t afford it, would even neglect to charge them for royalties. 

The Nebraska Fiend – Serial Killer.  Not a ton of information out there about “The Nebraska Fiend,” but Stephen Richards was arrested in 1879 for taking the lives of nine women.  I think, however, it’s a great shame that the “Nebraska Fiend” nickname was never reassigned to one of the following people: Connor Oberst, Chris Kline, or Eric Crouch.

The Pied Piper of Tucson – Serial Killer.  In 1965, America was set on fire by the trial of Charles Schmid, known more commonly as the “Pied Piper of Tucson” – and his murders were chronicled in famous stories by Jack Kerouac and Joyce Carol Oates.  In 1966, a judge took pity on Schmid, commuting his death sentence to 50 years in prison.  Unfortunately for Schmid, his fellow inmates disagreed with this decision, and he was stabbed 47 times in a prison murder. 

The Red Spider – Serial Killer.  So, this guy’s not technically American, but I really liked his nickname – and thus I made him a contestant in our game show anyway.  Lucian Staniak – a sexual deviant who killed at least twenty women – is the most prolific serial killer in the history of Poland.  He was famous for leaving poetry notes at the scenes of his crimes, and was also a quite exceptional painter. 

The Tennessee Tailor – President.  And, last but not least, we come to President Andrew Johnson – and doesn’t “The Tennessee Tailor” just sound like a serial killer?  There’s something about professions that involve an inordinate usage of scissors that seem (or, in Johnson’s case, “seam”) a bit devious.  He was the first U.S. President to be impeached, but only because he wanted to fire the nation’s Secretary of War.