Wednesday 18 November 2015

Spoiled Fruit of the Revolution

I'm on a earn-more-spend-less kick, so I have stopped going to swing-dancing. It's a pity, as that was my guaranteed weekly exercise, and there are two guys there who are afraid of most of the other women, so they always danced with me. I like them: they were refreshingly humble, modest and clumsy. They knew they were clumsy, and they knew I didn't care. To say with with no irony whatsoever, who am I to judge?

Yesterday, after sitting around all day writing my brains out and growing fat, I got a phone call--I think from a mobile, as the reception was so bad. I muted the TV, and the caller became audible. He had phoned about the weekend "Balboa" workshop I had signed up for, as I hadn't paid yet. I apologized for not having contacted the society earlier to ask them to take my name off the list, saying something like, "I'm sorry I should have mentioned this earlier." "Yes,  you should have," snarled the stranger. "But I usually get an email," I stammered. "I sent you an email," he snapped. "What's your name again?" I asked, so ladies, Balboa-dancing M. is not the guy you want to take home to your mother.

M. had sent me the email the day before, and I had not seen it, as I had been busy writing, shopping, cleaning, cooking, entertaining, and then sitting in bed most of the next day writing some more. So I thought M. was right out of line snarling and snapping at me over the phone, and when I found the email from the "team" I told them a member of their "team" had made an angry phone call and please take me off their mailing list.

This is where I start judging, just so you know.

As I've mentioned (and as my mother will confirm), I know not how to suffer in silence, so I mentioned the event on Facebook and soon got a mention from a  local swing-dancer--one of the best, perhaps the best, followers in the club. She is kind, beautiful, hip, graceful, talented and in her mid-twenties. I would introduce her to Polish Pretend Son if she were not also an atheist. She wanted to know what had happened, and I ranted about swing being a "young woman's game" and how to be asked to dance one has to be either an advanced dancer already, or young and attractive.

And this truly charming, objectively pretty, unusually graceful girl wrote that she isn't asked to dance all that often herself. She usually asks men to dance, and they often turn her down. Some always turn her down--she doesn't know why.

"What!?" I inwardly screeched.  "What the h--- is wrong with those guys?!"

My hypotheses are two-fold:

1. Local men who swing-dance are spoiled rotten by the female attention.
2. Some men resent women asking them to dance and so won't dance with women who do, even if they are young and pretty and guaranteed not to miss a cue.

My kindly advanced-dancer Facebook friend is not from Edinburgh and noted that "girls-asking-guys" is the culture here. (Presumably this isn't the culture where she's from, and guess where that is? One guess.) And because she is so kind, I don't have the heart to tell her I think she is helping to perpetuate the problem.

M. might have just been having a bad day, but even then  I am not sure why M. thought that a good reason enough to snap and snarl at a woman on the phone, one who could identify him over Facebook in two clicks. Martyn must have thought it didn't matter a damn, and in a way he's right. Women at swing-dance want to dance with men, and M. is a man, and women probably ask him to dance all the time. I could denounce M. from the housetops, and still the eager young ladies of the Edinburgh swing scene will want to dance the Balboa with him.

Back when convention dictated that women didn't ask men to dance, dance organizers made sure there were indeed men who would ask wallflowers to dance. Hotels hired male as well as female professional dancers to dance with guests. Mothers poked their sons (and sisters poked their brothers) and hissed, "Dance with Samantha. She's been sitting there for fifteen minutes." Men asked women for dances in advance and women wrote their names down in a charming little notebook. Everyone knew that women couldn't ask men, and so there was a lot of social pressure on men to ask women. Now "of course women can ask men" is treated like a massive advance, but in practice it turns men into Scarlett O'Hara.

I am always annoyed when I read men saying they started a rock band to meet girls or had fantasies of girls throwing themselves at them. That's nice, but why don't they just march up to girls at parties and say "Hi! I'm [the host]'s friend from school/work/club/church. How do you know him?" If they like the girl, they can bring her a drink or something afterwards and have another conversation. How hard is that?

Believe it or not, this is a serious question, for when I think of the attractive young Catholic twenty-something men that I know, not-spoiled, not-snarling, not-rude, I wonder why so many of them don't have girlfriends. As a twenty-something, I would have hit on any of them, and not because I was this incredibly deep twenty-something. I would have gone out with them for intensely shallow reasons, protected from my folly by their own sterling characters. (Rather like I was protected from any fallout from my infatuated marriage-in-haste by the fact that B.A. actually is the perfect man for me.) So why do they not have girlfriends? They're tall! They're smart! Two have proper jobs! One has a car! I don't understaaaaaaaaaand!

It's such a waste of twenty-something Catholic bachelor that it makes me cross. And meanwhile those spoiled wretches at swing-dancing have women chasing after them for dances. What a world. I cry.


  1. "It's such a waste of twenty-something Catholic bachelor that it makes me cross"
    Hear hear! Although, is it entirely the fault of the young twenty-something girls? Perhaps single Catholic males in Edinburgh are different then single Catholic males in Canada. IF there are any (the quite eligible ones are few and far between) they do not seem much interested in females for the sake of marriage and family. Perhaps it's something in the air over here, I'm not sure. Or it's just a result of the past 5-7 decades of pulling men down from their "mannishness" and pushing women towards it. All this aside, I, for one, would rather see a solid Catholic young man single and "going to waste" then see him sadly entangled in a relationship with a young and pretty twenty-something who doesn't deserve him. This also happens too often.

  2. Well, I dunno. Do these Catholic guys you know actually ask girls out? Are there any girls in the parish? TLM parishes can tend to be male-heavy.

  3. aroseamidthorns - "the quite eligible ones are few and far between". Ouch! I'm not in Edinburgh, but Seraphic's description indicated a substantial proportion of her parish lads were 'eligible'.

    And Seraphic, you neglected to mention whether forming a rock band brought any female attention to the intrepid artists - I suspect not! Do those guys you know have opportunities to even speak to any girl in the church? Can't ask if you don't get a chance to talk to her. There are so few opportunities for young adult Catholics to mix and talk - that needs serious thought. Far too many scoot out of Mass too fast for even the priest to intercept them. No chance of interaction then, let alone romance (with each other, not the priest ;) ).

    Julia - all my local parishes have more single guys than girls. Low numbers of both, but very few single girls, sadly.

    At least you're thinking about these issues. Now we just have to get our bishops thinking it IS an issue! hehe

    Southern Bloke.

  4. Southern Bloke - by "quite eligible" I simply mean young Catholic men serious about and committed to their faith. Although from what you've said, it doesn't sound like you have many girls in your area. Maybe if the world inter-mingled more, we'd solve the problem ;) Unless it's just my TLM parish that has mostly young women, since so many people seem to have so many young men at theirs. Hmm....

  5. Oh, okay aroseamidthorns, sorry if I misunderstood. I thought Seraphic was quite explicit she was talking about really devout Catholic guys. To be fair to the girls, I suspect the guys are not doing a lot of asking, partly due to lack of good chances to talk to church girls; partly due to hyper-competitiveness of male culture.

    Guys tend to mock other guys mercilessly if they 'fail' when asking a girl out (its like a kind of sport to some, but is harsh for the recipient of the mocking), which means most guys prefer to talk to girls away from the group, which is a situation hard to obtain now. I recall trying repeatedly to talk to a girl I was keen on at church, and being interrupted constantly by others oblivious to my efforts to have 1-1 conversations with the object of my affection. I got so desperate at the interruptions, at one point I considered hanging a sandwich board on my back saying 'do not disturb, romantic efforts underway'.

    On the plus side, we have God :)

    One positive thing we could do is coerce the parish into publishing basic stats annually. I'm a big believer that if even simple numbers of baptisms, confirmations, marriages, etc for each of the last 5 or 10 years are published, the community will be aware of whether there is a problem trend. We have priests focused on baptising babies and children as fast as they can, but ignoring the far lower confirmations and near absence of marriages - a sure sign of a problem (dropout from church in late teens). Get the parish talking about the great number of baptisms, but lack of marriages, what they think the causes are, and how they can be addressed. At the moment, few people talk about these issues, so it gets swept under the carpet... A little thing only, but perhaps a start.

    Oh, and Seraphic, if you can, keep swing dancing! Ignore Balbao Martyn; at least you'll be company for Kindly Advanced Dancer girl. Maybe you should start poking the dance guys in the ribs, and whispering 'dance with KAD girl' :) And take KAD girl to church to meet PPS - she can convert!

    Sorry about comment length - can you tell I'm avoiding exam study?

    Southern Bloke.

  6. Actually, what was I thinking? Seraphic, take your likely lads from church to swing dancing!

    From what you say, there are plenty of lasses for them to dance with (and ask out if things happily proceed that way), the dance gals will love you for bringing them male dance partners (you can even snaffle them for a few dances yourself), you'll diminish the male scarcity and hence, hopefully, the desirability of Balbao Martyn as a lead ;) And if a few dates or even a marriage come out of it, you've answered your own question in the best way, and can legitimately wear a fairy godmother outfit to the wedding :D

    See, we've got a positive tone thing going already.

    Your welcome.
    Southern Bloke (who really, really should be studying...)

  7. This has been attempted. We shall say no more.

    In happier news, I once introduced a parish lad to a new girl, and they are now married, so I have made a match. I wore an ankle length beach dress to the wedding. I would like a fairy godmother outfit though.

  8. Hmmm. I suppose the only thing to get blokes more nervous than asking a girl out, is to expect men to dance! Probably due to women dancing a lot more when they were girls, and guys *never* having danced as boys. Though that does seem to be changing a little now, though clearly not enough.

    Perhaps you should have handcuffed your boys to a taxi and only produced the key once at swing dancing? Cattle prods may also have helped ;)

    And the beach dress for a wedding - very Antipodean :) I hope your matched couple are very happy, and suitably grateful for their fairy godmother...

    Southern Bloke.

  9. What the flip is happening over there across the ditch, Southern Bloke? It might be even worse than in Australia...

  10. Julia, what, you mean the boys getting handcuffed to a taxi to get them to go dancing? I'm pretty sure your mob have got plenty of spare cuffs over that side of the pond, right?

    As for us, the only dancing a Kiwi fella does is on the footy field, as your boys recently found out :) Actually, that is not far from the truth. Sure, there are guys who dance, but my little bro does dance, and says they are at best 2-1 girls:guys, and often far worse. A friend of mine said something similar, tho she hasn't danced for a bit now.

    And of course we are worse than Oz - we're the Greece of the South Pacific! (with apologies to the Greeks...). Work the longest average hours for the lowest average pay in the OECD, so no time left for dancing, unless its to avoid the bank manager. Fun times all round. Which is why I'm studying at 4am for a career change - science don't pay. I'd become a dancer, but y'know...

    Southern Bloke.
    P.S. Are you in Perth? If so what about all those sweet Irish lads over there rorting your work visa schemes? Gotta be a few Catholic irish dancers there, right? Tho judging by the recent gay marriage vote in Eire, maybe not ;)

  11. Alas, not in Perth, but Melbourne! I do have a new Irishman acquaintance though. He's, like, reverting to the faith or something.

    I have one male friend who does competitive ballroom dancing. His favoured style is New Vogue, which is apparently known internationally as 'Australian bush dancing' because no one else takes it seriously.


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