Read an Excerpt
From the Introduction
Despite reading countless how-to books, I've always found that learning by negative example to be a far more effective (not to mention entertaining) method. I'm not the only one. For example, you can tell a child not to touch the stove, but let little Johnny go ahead and fondle that burner and you'll never have to waste another breath on the topic. Of course there may be an emergency room visit in your future, but this book is about dating. If you are experiencing medical emergencies during your dates, you probably need more than a book.
Using the same logic, you can advise that a person refrain from dating a 35-year-old alcoholic who lives on his grandmother's cat-hair-coated sofa, but wouldn't grandma walking in on the two of you experimenting with female ejaculation be a far more effective deterrent? See where I'm going here?
During my seven-year tenure as a sex and love advice columnistthe majority of which I spent singleI've either experienced first-hand or read about dates so heinous it's truly a wonder my vagina didn't seal itself shut. There were dark days, when dating seemed like a minefield'round every corner lurked some emotional terrorist, waiting to break my heart and stiff me with the check. After a lot of missteps and mistakes, I eventually learned to navigate it with varying degrees of success.
And sure, while, other so-called "sexperts" might have things like degrees to prove they're qualified for the job, I have something more valuablesomething hard-won and not necessarily pleasant. What I'm talking about is experience. Do you think Dr. Phil ever watched as a crush hit on his friend? Pffft. . . I think not. But look at Dear Abby and Anne Landerstwo advice-doling sisters with zero in the way of professional qualifications, who went years without speaking to each other. Much like myself, those two embraced their dysfunction and used it to help others.
It wasn't like I set out to date weirdos and low-lifes exclusively, but for a while it sure seemed that way. Friends and family lost countless hours of sleep fretting over me and wondering when and where the freak magnet had been implanted. I could be dropped into a room packed with nothing but perfectly sane men with jobs and I would gravitate towards the one guy everyone else was trying to avoid. . . the unemployed know-it-all with the chronic case of psoriasis and a highly unsavory yen for his little sister. (In his defense, she was a half sister.).
So yes, maybe instead of field research, I should've parlayed my criminology BA into a PhD at some prestigious university, but who are you going to feel more comfortable taking advice fromsome married lady with an office and a framed piece of paper, or a dame who's been floundering about in the dating pool for years?
See, I thought so!
But even as prolific a dater as I was, one person's personal experiences do not a book make. So, utilizing highly unscientific research methods, I (mostly) ignored the experts and headed straight into the trenches and talked with others on the front line. . . those brave and resilient soldiers . . . my fellow daters.
What I found may shock you. It may also repulse you, impugn your faith in mankind and/or make you choke with laughter. What I have discovered is that contrary to what you might believe, not all bad dates are created equal. Nor does a rotten first date mean there won't necessarily be another one. Generallybut not alwaysa less-than-glowing first impression leads to a downright horrifying second, but as with all things, there are the rare exceptions to this rule.
Not surprisingly, different daters have different dealbreakers. For some, a seemingly minor violation, such an inadvertent butt-squeak or runaway nose hair might spell the end. Others can live with questionable hygiene and unpleasant aromas, but run shrieking when confronted with a fannypack or ill-fitting velour tracksuit.
What I've attempted to uncover are the universalsthings most sane daters would have an issue withand organize them into groups. Not only that, when called for I'll also tell you how to extricate yourself from situations gone horribly wrong.
Because, as Pat Benatar once wisely crooned, "Love is a battlefield," I decided to use the US Government's threat advisory scale as inspiration. I've organized and categorized the varieties of bad dates, according to escalating levels of heinousness.
What I couldn't do is abide by the government's color scheme. Red, orange, yellow, blue, and green? Boooring. Surely there must exist a snazzier palette than that! I looked around my apartment. Magenta kitchen, blood-red living room, cool, carribean blue bathroom. . . hmm.
Still, somehow not right. Then my eyes landed upon a cheery little magazine stuffed under a stack of unpaid bills. The J Crew catalog! I thumbed through and got more excited every page. No primary colors for these folks, no siree! Where I saw yellowy-brown, they saw "ochre." In the magical world of J Crew, green becomes "deep elm," pink is actually "flamingo!" So much more glam, so much more me!
So behold, the How Not to Date threat advisory chartin ascending order of awfulness:
The color beige, or, as the arbiters of preppy style at J. Crew renamed it, "Pale Surplus," is synonymous with a couple other "B" words"boring," "bland," and "banal." There's nothing really wrong with a date you'd categorize as pale surplus, but there's nothing particularly right about it either. Like a boring outfit that can be snazzed up with some festive accessories, this date had better come up with something interesting fast.
Geranium (an unpleasant orange)
The geranium date takes the unpleasant up a notch. Maybe it's the way she smells, perhaps it's the way she calls you daddy, but unless she starts sneezing dollar bills, you're probably not going to go out with her again.
Endive (aka, Kaopectate green)
Who hasn't been out on a date that's so bad you start looking around for the hidden cameras. There's only one reason to stick around for a date like this one and that's so you can entertain your friends with the tale later.
Carob (otherwise known as faux chocolate)
Remember being a little kid and mistaking mom's unsweetened baking chocolate for a Hershey bar? Much like that bitter, foul-tasting stuff, this date may appear palatable at first glance, but upon doing the metaphorical taste test, you're left with no choice but to spit and run.
My plan is that this book will make you laugh and maybe help you get a little better at selecting who to waste your time on. Hopefully it'll make you feel less alone and realize that bad dates don't only happen to bad peoplea crappy night out can happen to anyone. And, hey, even if there's nothing in this book that you can remotely relate to, at least it'll leave you with a yummy warm feeling of smug superiority.