The story would be more amusing if he wasn't obviously sleeping with all or some of them. As it is, it is slightly seedy. A worldly woman may risk sleeping with a guy who might be sleeping with just one other woman, but five other women? Who knows where those women have been?
Really, Mr Rubin appears to be a bit of a cad, and alas girls do seem to like cads. Aelianus told me that his otherwise splendid friend Benedict Ambrose was incredibly wicked about women and someone really ought to marry him and save him from hell. Women flocked to him, said Aelianus. They threw himself at his feet.
So naturally I had to meet this incredibly wicked and charming Benedict Ambrose and perhaps save him from hell. Luckily for both Benedict Ambrose and me, Aelianus had been exaggerating to an enormous extent. Women do like B.A., though, because he is enormously cheerful and good-natured and just this side of being the class clown. And they don't like him so much that the other chaps don't like him, if you see what I mean. If you took a poll among our extensive Edinburgh acquaintance, the vast majority would doubtlessly agree that B.A. is the better half of Mr and Mrs McAmbrose, Inc.
"What does he see in her?" they moan behind my back.
Actually, I don't know if they do that. If I catch them at it, however, I will slay them where they stand.
But to go back to the subject of multi-dating, I think it is an excellent idea, if it is actually dating and not going-to-bed-and-seeing-what-happens. Once upon a time, there was a lot of healthy competition between males for the attention of the prettier/richer/most talented girls in the village. The less popular girls put up with this and waited for the village belles to make their pick so that the attention of the leftovers would fall upon
In the 1950s and 1960s, to judge by girls' books from that era, plus my mother's smug stories of scholastic social success, there was a lot of multi-dating. There was apparently no stigma to going out with Fred to the films on Friday and to the dance with Tom on Saturday. As long as you never asked out boys yourself, and just went out with the boys who asked you and slapped them if they put a hand wrong, you were perfectly justified in the perhaps envious eyes of your female colleagues. If you had the misfortune of being asked out by a boy you really didn't want to go out with, you could say no, but then you had to stay at home that night. Thus being asked to the Prom by the Wrong Boy must have been a trial.
I wonder whatever happened to the boy who asked my then 14 year old future mother to his Prom. Thanks to him, I was allowed to date when I was 14. Just ask me if I would have allowed my own daughter to date at 14. Ha! Ha! Convent school until married off to Polish Pretend Son or some other eligible parti, let me tell you. (I wonder if she would have liked Seminarian Pretend Son? Hard to say, though, as she does not exist.)
Anyway, the dating world was before us in pieces by the 1980s, and as far as I could see there was none of this "Fred, films, Friday" and "Tom, dance, Saturday" stuff going on in high school--at least, not openly. As I felt like an ugly mushroom of woe compared to my prettier friends, I am amazed today to read in my diaries how many dates I went on in high school. First dates. I went on lots of first dates, but not many second dates. Which was just as well, as the only girl who got married out of high school was in what I hope was the last Italian arranged marriage in history. Not a girl I knew married her high school sweetheart, knowledge which would have shocked me to the marrow of my bones back in Grade 11.
Meanwhile, the ordinary dating behaviour among my friends was to go out only with one guy, maybe once or twice a week, and keep on going out with only him, if one liked him, and say yes if he asked you to become is girlfriend, and breaking up with him if he Went Too Far or Wanted To Go Too Far or cheated or, I presume, slapped you around. Kissing him in public was considered simply shocking and could get you labelled a putana, especially if someone else had a crush on him--but then I had rather conservative friends.
I am now completely opposed to dating in high school, and think that no unrelated boy and girl under 19 has any business being alone together in a warm room watching TV, etc. High school is for studying your brains out, relieved by artistic, spiritual and athletic endeavour, not for romance. University is also for studying your brains out, relieved by artistic, spiritual and athletic endeavour, but boys and girls are now almost old enough to marry, so I don't see a problem with them being alone in rooms, or semi-alone in restaurants, the cinema, pubs, etc. However, I do think that they should feel free to go out with a different guy or girl for a coffee as often as they like, on the grounds (no pun intended) that it is "just a coffee."
To put this into context, I still meet up with men for coffee. It's just a coffee. Come to think about it, I occasionally meet up with them for lunch and beer too. When I was in London, I had a G &T with Andrew Cusack, lunch with PPS, lunch the next day with SPS, and beers with a Polish astrophysicist. Goodness, I'm popular. Yay, me! Although, come to think of it, when you are married, it is WAY better to have lot of male friends who are not your husband than, you know, just one.
Meanwhile, it is very good for my male friends to be seen out drinking and lunching with me, for it increases their social capital with other women. Women like chaps whom other women like, and it is also good for the younger chaps who like women to get used to talking to us and buying us drinks. Obviously coffee with Mrs McA is not as exciting and fraught with anxiety as coffee with a Real Live Potential Girlfriend, but the conventions are basically the same.
I notice, with rue, that I have many more male friends now than I did before I was married, which makes me wonder if I stared at men in my Single days like an unusually hungry hyena and frightened them into fits. Oh well. What's past is past, and if B.A. shuffles off this mortal coil sooner rather than later I will bang on the Benedictines' door anyway, so nobody need worry. But my ultimate thought is that I am all for multi-dating (chaste multi-dating) until one finds the man/woman for whom one is truly willing to forsake all others. This way you choose to marry in total freedom, knowing you had options, not because you think this is the only person in the entire world who would ever have you.
Incidentally, never assume that you are the only person someone is meeting for coffee. If it's just coffee, you probably aren't. If it's your second dinner-and-a-movie, or a kiss at the door, you might want to ask. Actually, in the case of kiss-at-the-door, you should ask. Otherwise you might end up just another one of someone's six girlfriends. Eeek!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: If you are a Single "female friend", watch out for this, though. Down with this sort of thing.