Amy Alkon drags people, kicking, screaming, and laughing, out of their misery with her behavioral science-based advice column, which runs in about 100 newspapers.
Buy her science-based and bitingly funny new advice book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).
Got a problem? E-mail Amy at AdviceAmy@aol.com.
Pleased To Meat You
I turned 38 last week, and through some introspection, realized I'm unfulfilled. I thought a girls' night out might help. The last thing I wanted was attention from men. Of course, at the bar, I ended up getting hit on by a 50-something overweight man. Shortly after introducing himself, he told me I have a lovely figure and began guessing my height, weight, and measurements (including bra size!). Then he asked me my age! Outraged, I said my stats were none of his concern, and that if he's in the habit of treating women like sexual objects he should take his chauvinistic attitude elsewhere. Then I slapped his face, and told him it was on behalf of all the women who've had to endure his offensive pickup lines. He walked sheepishly back to his laughing buddies. My friends gave me "you go, girl" high fives, but said I seemed a little on edge lately. If they're right, do you know some good techniques to find inner peace? -- Venting
Common sense is getting rarer every day. My neighborhood grocery store just started tagging cheese with the sticker "CONTAINS: MILK." A Welsh regulatory agency said Smoked Welsh Dragon Sausages should be renamed so it's clear they're made of pork -- not dragon. Surely your local pickup joint will soon post advisories on the door, like "Contains drunks" and "To avoid attention from men, hold girls' night out in a convent, not a bar."
I'll hazard a guess as to what really went down last week. A man approached you at the bar. Although you consider men who judge women by their looks chauvinistic pigs, you noted that he was not a 30-something blond Adonis but a 50-something fat man. He noted that you noted this -- probably because you shot him the high school mean girl death ray for daring to even dream of hitting on you. Okay, fine. If he couldn't get you, he'd at least get a rise out of you. You didn't disappoint.
Naturally, you assumed he was a foot soldier in the vast conspiracy to keep women down -- not just some obnoxious drunk. Asking apparently uptight girls in bars their age and bra size -- isn't that what obnoxious drunks do? Come on, you know that, but acknowledging it isn't half as satisfying as flapping your wings and squawking about being "objectified" (as if people in bars are on the prowl for inner beauty and spiritual depth). Finally, to show him how the civilized half lives, you cracked him one. Just a thought, but if a guy did that to you, would you be slinking sheepishly back to the girls -- or feverishly dialing 911 to have him incarcerated for life?
As for what you could've done in response, you're a girl who was supposedly loath to engage. Didn't ignoring him occur to you? Or, if you wanted to give back in kind, since it was a fat guy going troll on you, when he asked "What's your bra size?" you could've looked down at his chest and said, "I dunno, what's yours?" You only became a victim when you started acting like a victim. You'll probably continue to feel like one until you figure out what's missing from your life, and take steps to change -- instead of taking out the feeling something's missing on the nearest aspiring toxic bachelor. As for how to find inner peace, Krishnamurti's "Freedom From The Known" has some pretty good guidelines. As for where; there's no paved path that I know of, but for best results, try standing by a babbling brook instead of a beer tap.
Reach Out And Slug Someone
My girlfriend always judges how I'm doing from how I answer her phone calls. Well, I can't see caller-ID without my reading glasses, or maybe I'm working or about to discover whodunit on CSI. Just because I don't put on a happy face to answer doesn't mean I'm teed off. Why do women consider the phone a device to analyze one's emotions? -- Receiving End
Some guys, like the Indian emperor Shah Jahan, show they care by cleaning out the royal treasury and spending 22 years building their girl the Taj Mahal. You can't put on reading glasses and "a happy face"? On or off the phone, women have the equivalent of dog hearing for deciphering emotion. In "The First Sex," anthropologist Helen Fisher speculates it stems from ancestral women learning to interpret the needs of their grunting, prelingual young. These days, your girlfriend probably can't help but pick up on the sound of preoccupied jerk mode, and worry something's wrong. So, if you can't help but sound like a preoccupied jerk, let your phone ring through to a little prerecorded charm -- assuming you care enough to want her to be thinking "You had me at hello" instead of "You lost me before 'So, what's up?'"