Tonight I was tired. Tired but—perhaps solely through repeated mental flagellations—ready to be brave.
Tonight at the weekly swing dance, I was going to ask Miss Q to dance. Extremely talented, very attractive, and admirably most humble, too. Miss Q, that is. Darned ambiguous references, but indeed I digress.
Grammatical nits aside… for reasons I cannot quite narrow down for certain, it appears as though my bravery was either contagious or most coincidentally most ill-timed or a combination thereof. You see, that *other* fellow was determined to dance with Miss Q. And the young man beside him. And yes, that other chap dashing up beside the both of them.
Miss Q had a queue and a rather constant queue at that. Oh, not the visible English-style straight version, but rather a discernible one nonetheless. Ranging from skulking to brazen, star-struck and/or love-struck leads grabbed their opportunity, sometimes with frightening literalness, and Miss Q handled it all with the utmost in grace and good nature. Was she delighted or annoyed or simply exhausted by all the attention? I cannot say. I was quietly and perhaps just a bit more than mildly seething at my ill fortune, and so in this circumstance I cannot fully trust my normally perceptive nature.
But I know this: of the collective of Miss Qs here and elsewhere on the dancefloor—particularly in this arenas where the Misses outnumber the Misters—there by my estimation must be an aggregate tiredness and frustration on the shoulders of both sexes. The Misses have nary a rest, much less a chance to do much choosing of their choosing. They pair with those who are the quickest, the most cunning, the most persistent, the most unsubtlely lurking in the not-so-background, which may or—more likely—may not dovetail with those who are the most talented or otherwise desirable partners.
And, as you surely may have guessed, the disappointment lies not just within the fairer sex here, but rests upon the equally unlucky section of lads. For we have two choices: one-up the others in desperate aggressiveness or sit on the side passively ruing our lot and the escalation of hounding-stealing-hoarding that has led to this sorry condition. Those compelled into the former may succeed on occasion but feel ashamed on the whole of what they’ve been driven to. And those self-relegated into the latter behavior must simply feel, well, stamped writ-large with a neon ‘L’ upon their forehead.
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What does this suggest, other than that I have a dramatic flair for cartooningly exaggerating a seemingly run-of-the-mill situation rather than answering e-mail or getting much needed sleep?
Ah, dear reader, it suggests more than this! Much more! For dance is but a metaphor for life! Or, at minimum, the situation I’ve described above reminds me of social interactions in a much broader sense than just the lead-follow rituals associated with selecting dance partners.
Bars. Clubs. Particularly given the most-typical uneven ratios of men (many) to women (few), what we end up with is an ever-escalating atmosphere of urgency, high volume, and desperation, which leads to the all-too-cliched-but-true situation of women massively annoyed by obnoxiously brazen and bad pickup lines and (worse) physical aggression. And on the other side, an unfortunate mix of mostly puzzled, frustrated, and perhaps even angry men who refuse to raise their bets and behavior (and thus fold) The women go home and complain to their girlfriends about being besieged by “jerks” all night, and guys complain to their mates about the unfortunate and equally-unfortunately-named “sausage fest” and the lack of opportunities reasonably available.
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To clarify, my swing dance experiences are typically many many MANY times better than the hyper-clarified and starkly drawn portrait I’ve painted here. And for tonight, it was more my own stubbornness (I was set on dancing with one particular woman) that resulted in the sullying of what should have by all other measures been an outstanding night (presence of friends, a strong live band, etc.) But it made for a good excuse for a blog post and I found myself sincerely drawn (once again) to the parallels between social dancing and the broader arena of meeting and flirting and dating. Specifically, what I felt I was observing was a miniature version of the tragedy of the social commons which, upon further reflection, might better (albeit less pithily) be described as “The Tragic Inevitability of Behavioral Escalation in the Context of Mixed-Gender Social Environments.” But the latter—while a title I might be able to sell or rent to thesis’ing Psychology PhD students — is way too long for a catchy blog title. Almost as piss-poor a title as some musical one might otherwise wisely stumble upon.
Anyway, with all MY pontificating out of the way, what do you think? Do queues of the sort I described lead to women becoming frustrated and less apt to genially interact with guys? Or is this one-upmanship of sorts an expected but altogether benign reflection and self-selection of the assertive vs. the doormats, the latter of whom need to learn to buck up anyway? 😀 I look forward to hearing your thoughts, even if those thoughts are, “For the love of Dog, Adam, why do you overanalyze stuff to such a degree, and at 1am no less?!”