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A Brief History of the "Green Book"
The year was 1969. Man was walking on the moon; the New York Mets were clinching the World Series title for the first time ever. And all across the country, single Americans were experimenting with unprecedented levels of sexual and emotional freedom. It was a wild time. A crazy time. A historic time.
And for pioneering relationship psychologist Dr. Rutger Fury, a time of both crisis and opportunity. As one of the nation's foremost experts on heterosexual courtship, Dr. Fury witnessed firsthand the extreme stresses that the "sexual revolution" had placed on young men and women.
"When our work began," Dr. Fury later recalled in his best-selling autobiography, It Takes Two to Tango, "virtually every subject we talked to seemed to have his or her own opinion as to what constituted acceptable behavior during dating. In a time of great social upheaval, there were many incompatible, even contradictory, notions floating about. It was clear that order had to be established."
Then a researcher at Harvard University, Dr. Fury relinquished his prestigious chair to throw himself headlong into the personal and professional odyssey that would ultimately reshape the face of dating studies. Sensing that the fault lines then shaking the culture could most closely be studied on the West Coast, Dr. Fury moved to Sacramento, California, and founded the Greater Sacramento Human Relationship Initiative. Bringing together resources from government, academia, and private benefactors, the GSHRI became a test bed of private/public sector cooperation. In 1973 it received a charter from the California State Senate at a ceremony in which Secretary of State Jerry Brown praised "the bold innovation which lies at the heart of this unique endeavor."
This official recognition gave the GSHRI's work an important boost at a critical juncture. Thanks to the social upheavals and "sexual revolution" of the late '60s and early '70s, American society had undergone an unprecedented transformation in the types of dating opportunities available to the average man and woman. Responsibility, however, did not always go hand in hand with freedom. Reported cases of callous, thoughtless, and even intentionally cruel dating behavior had skyrocketed.
Something had to be done and the GSHRI answered the call, taking the first steps in a massive project that would eventually become the Universal Dating Regulations & Bylaws. The mission: to identify, codify, and publish society's heretofore unwritten rules of acceptable courtship behavior. Researchers fanned out across the country, seeking to establish the acceptable standards of practice for every imaginable dating-related scenario.
By 1975 the GSHRI project had ballooned to embrace more than three hundred professional researchers working in all but two of the fifty states. Recognizing that the true scope of the organization's work lay on a national level, Dr. Fury successfully led a drive to transform the Initiative into a truly continent-wide entity, the American Dating Association. In February 1976, the ADA charter was signed by President Gerald Ford in an Oval Office ceremony attended by fourteen state governors, nine university presidents, and a triumphant Dr. Fury.
That momentous year also saw the publication, after years of intensive effort, of the association's first edition of Universal Dating Regulations & Bylaws. A twelve-volume, seven-million-word opus, the 1976 UDR&B fulfilled its objective of codifying every conceivable dating-related situation. That first year, more than seven hundred complete volumes were printed and sold, mostly to research institutes, universities, and public libraries.
In subsequent years, sales of the UDR&B climbed steadily, topping two thousand copies by 1979. But for the man who had started it all, ADA chairman Dr. Fury, steady growth just wasn't good enough. "What I am seeking," he told the annual meeting of ADA researchers in the fall of 1979, "is a way to put the fruits of our institutional labor into the hands of everyone who desires it."
Thus began a five-year effort to find a way to somehow miniaturize and mass-produce the massive knowledge base that made up the UDR&B. The solution eventually arrived at was so simple and elegant that in retrospect it seemed obvious: to edit down the vast tracts of legalese into a single, slim, lightweight, and readable volume small enough to fit into the average back pocket. Voilà: The UDR&B Pocket Edition better known today as the Green Book, after its distinctive cover was born.
Upon its first publication in February 1985, the Green Book quickly climbed the best-seller charts, where it remained in the number one spot in the "Advice, How-to, and Miscellaneous" category for forty-seven weeks. Today the Green Book remains the best-selling book of its kind, and the fourth-best-selling book of all time.
In its impact upon dating practices in the United States, the book's effects were no less than revolutionary. Thanks to the Green Book, no longer could the raffish rogue carelessly break a heart and then claim, "Hey, I thought it was okay."
"It was like a drop of rain in a parched desert," recalls retired relationship therapist Jerry Moonly, who witnessed the book's initial impact. "We were all shocked by the huge demand that the Green Book generated."
The work of the ADA is hardly complete, however. On the contrary, its mission is more pressing than ever. In a chaotic and unsupervised dating environment, the feelings of unmarried heterosexuals are being trampled in unprecedented numbers. A recent ADA survey revealed that 89 percent of all single people would rather undergo a wisdom tooth extraction without anesthesia than repeat their most painful dating experience. The ADA believes that it can help ease their suffering, and, as ever, it stands ready to meet their needs.
"As long as there are single people," says Association President Jerome Smiley, "there will be the ADA."
How to Use This Book
First-time users of the Universal Dating Regulations & Bylaws often ask, "Just what kind of book is this, and how do I use it?" The question is an excellent one. The UDR&B is, strictly speaking, a tool, and its proper use requires handling as such.
Part field manual, part legal codification, the UDR&B is a highly rigorous and concise distillation of acceptable American dating practices at the turn of the twenty-first century. Within its pages are rules governing every conceivable dating situation, from the moment of first meeting until the very end of the breakup.
Years of research have confirmed a simple truth: If there is a way to hurt, humiliate, or embarrass another human being, someone will have done it. That's why the ADA has been extremely careful, in preparing the Green Book, to ensure that its users are covered at every step of the dating process.
The central eight chapters of the UDR&B cover the standard relationship arc in chronological fashion. To find the ADA regulation that relates to your current predicament, simply identify what stage your relationship is in and then turn to the corresponding chapter. Are you confused as to whether you and your companion are spending time together as platonic buddies or as potential life-mates? You're in the initial noncommittal stage of the relationship; turn to Section IV, "Early Courtship." Bothered because he's moved into your apartment, but still hasn't introduced you to his parents? You're suffering a confusion about commitment often experienced by cohabiters; turn to Section VIII, "Living Together."
The size, shape, and materials of the Green Book have all been carefully chosen to maximize portability and ease of use. In fact, tests show that the current edition is capable of being carried in the back pocket of 93 percent of all trousers sold in the United States. We here at the American Dating Association encourage all UDR&B users to carry the book with them at all times, even when they don't expect a traditional "dating" situation to spring up in the near future. Remember: You can't use this book if you don't have it with you.
Important Changes Since Our Last Edition
As society continues to evolve and change, so do its unspoken laws about what is acceptable while dating. Each year, then, the new edition of the Green Book is updated to add newly relevant material and eliminate sections that are no longer in keeping with the spirit of the times.
Among the more significant changes incorporated into the 2000 Universal Dating Regulations & Bylaws:
- It is no longer considered unacceptable to make or receive a cell phone call during a dinner date. One still may not make or receive cell phone calls, or indeed any type of phone call, during foreplay or sex.
- Email, pagers, and instant messaging have been added to the list of media which are not acceptable for the purposes of informing your partner that you are breaking up with him or her.
- It is no longer necessary for couples to discuss recent AIDS tests before going to bed together for the first time.
Due to editing errors, several mistakes were inadvertently incorporated into the 2000 Universal Dating Regulations & Bylaws. The American Dating Association apologizes for any inconvenience or misunderstanding that may have been caused.
- Page 15: the phrase "shall be tested by the insertion of a hot fork" should have read "shall not be tested by the insertion of any sharp object, including a hot fork, under any circumstances."
- Page 123: the phrase "clitoris, labia minora, and labia majora" should have read "Thursdays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays."
- Page 258: the ADA wishes to stress that, except when specific precedent-setting cases are being cited, all names used in examples are fictitious. In particular, the example involving a woman who comes home to find her boyfriend applying hot-oil treatment to her cat was in no way meant to refer to any real-life couple who happened to be named Mark and Diane.
Copyright © 2001 by Jeff Wise