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The Lost Art of Conversation

(Anne Schott) Permanent link

Finals are over. Summer is here. My nephew wants a puppy.

No, he’s not in 2nd grade. He’s in college. In truth, what he really wants is a girlfriend. Yet he has somehow convinced himself that adopting a puppy is the easiest way to achieve this goal. A girl is simply incapable of resisting the charms of a puppy, he says. His theory is that it has something to do with the female instinct to nurture. He claims that it power shifts into high gear at the mere sight of a cuddly, three-month-old, golden retriever puppy. And--here comes the part I don’t quite follow--somehow by extension the guy walking the puppy is included in this bubble of warmth and love.

I can hear my nephew in the next room discussing his theory and his plans for pet adoption with some guy friends. They all agree that puppies are the fastest way to a girl’s heart. That is, unless you’re willing to fake a physical injury. The panel of 21-year-old dating experts in the next room all seem to believe that the ultimate, number one method of attracting female attention is to receive some kind of bodily injury, especially one that requires crutches. The obvious downside being that hobbling around on crutches might limit one’s ability to actively participate in sports and fun activities. However, the guys agree that they’d be willing to forgo this temporarily if it means hooking up with a girl.

Then I hear one of the 21-year-old experts say that his older, married boss has confided in him that there is nothing that attracts women more than the sight of a guy carrying a baby. In an act of generosity, this older, married boss has even offered to lend him not only a Snugli baby carrier but a baby, his baby, to place inside the carrier. The boss has been encouraging him to take the baby out for a spin in the Snugli some afternoon, just to test his luck. 

As I think about this, it occurs to me that my nephew is missing the point. While it may be true that many women are drawn to cuddly puppies, guys on crutches, and cute babies, that’s only part of the story. I think what really appeals to my newphew and his friends is that by using these props they are relieved of the painful burden of approaching a girl and beginning a conversation: they run no risk of being shot down. After that first step has been taken, puppies, crutches, and babies supply instant, friendly, no-brainer topics for conversation. It's something that even the shyest 21-year-old guy can handle.

So, ladies, if you, too are looking for love this summer, this might be something to think about. It doesn't take more than a friendly smile and a quick hello to get the ball rolling.

Let me know how it goes.


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