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Video: Retro role models

TODAY books
updated 8/17/2009 11:17:27 AM ET 2009-08-17T15:17:27

In her book “How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World,” author Jordan Christy says that women should be polite, well-spoken, gracious, charming and thoughtful — despite the images proliferated by wild celebutantes. In this excerpt, she writes that in order to find love, women should not pursue men. An excerpt.

Let him come calling
Turns out our mother was right — ladies shouldn’t make the first move. Let’s be honest, do you really want to have to tell your children, “That’s right, kids, I had to beat down your father’s door and constantly create diversions to get his attention! I sent multiple text messages, wore my shortest skirts, and practically threw myself at him before he noticed me. But don’t you worry, I eventually wore him down!” Of course not. We all want a guy to approach us, fall madly in love, and not be able to wait to call us. So how do you make that happen? It’s actually not complicated at all (at least not nearly as difficult and convoluted as we girls make it). You’ll see how, starting with the basics of dating, the truth about girls who make the first move, the importance of not ruining a good thing, why he needs to call you, and when it’s okay to give it away.

First of all, we live in an extremely deceiving society. We’ve seen Lindsay Lohan making out with a different guy (or girl) in some pool every week and the Kardashians hooking up with every piece of eye candy the cat drags in. Casual sex is oh-so-glamorous through the lens of movies and TV. Instant messaging, texting, and video messages are the norm between guys and girls. But the painful, real-life truth is that none of this works. Why? Because it goes against the basic laws of nature, that’s why! If you glean nothing else from this book, I want you to hear this headline-worthy, urgent-newsflash, critical-emergency, vital-stat message: We make ourselves waaaay too accessible. How, you may ask? Let me count the ways.

In no particular order, we have the following means of scaring off a new guy: e-mailing, Facebook messaging, MySpace stalking, texting, calling, showing up unannounced, inviting him over, and did I mention coming on too strong? We will delve into these atrocities in more detail later on and talk about why being so accessible is nothing but a curse, but first let’s look at how it ever got to this point.

It’s no secret that we girls start fantasizing about a fairy-tale wedding and happily-ever-after love story around the same time we start teething (I still have a wedding book that I compiled at age six!). Relationships are a big deal to us. We want to hear all about our roommate’s new boyfriend, have to get every detail of our coworker’s upcoming nuptials, and lament right along with Jennifer Aniston over Brad Pitt as if he cheated on us. We love to watch TLC’s A Wedding Story, feverishly scan Us Weekly for the latest blossoming celebrity romance, and sob every time we see Sleepless in Seattle. We spend hours prepping ourselves for a date and even more time obsessing about what our potential children will look like and whether or not our initials mesh nicely. Conclusion: girls love love.

So why would you subconsciously sabotage all those efforts through your modern-day attempts at finding true love? This question baffles me daily. I’d like to think that it’s out of sheer naiveté — most girls don’t appear to be in a lucid mental state when they’re throwing themselves at some circus clown off the street and clearly aren’t aware that they are actually driving that poor boy further away. But luckily, you will no longer have to be the victim of such careless ways in love, because we’re going to start doing things the right way — the old-fashioned way! And it starts by not messing with nature.

Well over a century ago (in 1870, to be exact), William Shakespeare Hays wrote a wonderful song called “Truly Yours.” The lyrics just go to show you that this whole love–romance–dating thing has been going on a long time, and we’re probably not going to be the ones to change the entire course of it anytime soon.

In these lyrics we have the entire saga of love and romance summed up in a few phrases: guy meets girl, guy falls in love with girl, guy can’t think of anyone but her and is obsessed with girl up until dying day à la The Notebook. This age-old plot could explain the rapid popularity of said movie. I know all of us ladies love that love story, and as much as they might grumble, deep down, every guy likes the movie, too (even my husband, who has a beard, drives a truck, and aspires to be a lumberjack). Why? Because it is, without a doubt, the ideal, most picturesque illustration of romance: guys want a girl to chase after, and girls want a guy to want to track them down.

It has always been this way — from Adam and Eve to knights climbing the tower for their lady in waiting to Jane Austen’s generation of gallant gentlemen writing letters to their intended, right up to our reality-obsessed era of Girls Gone Wild. Guys still want to pursue the girl, and no amount of cell phones, sex tapes, and IM conversations are going to change that. I’m not sure why we’ve all of a sudden taken it upon ourselves to change the structural makeup of a guy’s mind, but I’m telling you right now, it’s pointless. The implementation of the Sadie Hawkins dance in 1937 didn’t do anything to alter the ingrained behaviors of guys and girls. I hate to say it, but you’re never going to get the guy until you simply let him be the guy. And what do guys want to do? Chase things!

Sometimes it may feel like we are the only ones in this confusing cycle, but this whole process has been around since the beginning of time. It’s history. It’s nature. It’s just the way of it! Men are natural-born hunters — they like the thrill of the chase. It’s why boys like to race cars, bid on worthless eBay junk, and go hunting in the woods. They love a good pursuit. You don’t see many of us females out tackling opponents to claim some pigskin ball on a perfectly good Sunday afternoon, do you? Nope. We’re also not usually on the front lines racing after some impending tornado or disastrous storm. And while we were politely fixing tea and cupcakes for our dolls and friends, the rowdy neighbor boys were in hot pursuit of the bad guy, playing cops and robbers. It’s in their nature to hunt, chase, and track down, and if you make yourself readily available (calling, texting, stalking), guys no longer have anything to pursue. And if there’s nothing there to chase after, dream about, or hunt down, they’ve probably already lost interest.

Don’t believe me? If you’re still of the I’ll-get-the-check-not-him mentality, all stubborn and adamant that we just go out and snag a man, I challenge you to take a gander at the responses to the question I posed to ten delightful, successful, happily married men: Did she pursue you, or did you pursue her? Their answers show that the odds are against those trying to muster up the guts to do the asking first.

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Jeremy, married five years: I definitely had to pursue Sarah. She wasn’t interested in me at all, so I went out and bought concert tickets to see her favorite band to try and impress her.

Herman, married seventy-eight years: I met Emma when I was eighteen and she was just sixteen. I was very nervous about asking her parents’ permission to take her out, but I just knew she was the one and knew I had to go for it. So we started seeing each other and were married two months later. That was a long time ago!

Bo, married four years: Even though Claire and I had known each other for years, I had to make the first move. We saw each other for the first time in years, and she just looked so great that I asked for her number and asked her out there on the spot.

Joey, married eleven years: I had to go after Brandi. She just got out of a relationship and didn’t really want to have anything to do with me, or any guy, for that matter. But I eventually wore her down, and now she’s stuck with me!

Greg, married forty-two years: I had to pursue Carol. Two of our mutual friends even tried to set us up on a date, but she refused! So I just kept asking her out until she finally agreed. We went to a high school basketball game together, and the rest is history.

José, married one year: I had to pursue her. I met Tina when we were playing a show at a small club in this obscure town in Alaska. I thought she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, so I started talking to her after the show, asked for her number, and called her first thing the next morning.

Christopher, married seventeen years: I had to do all the work! I first saw Kerry when our high school football team played her school on a Friday night. She was a cheerleader, she was so cute, and I knew that I just had to say something to her afterward. So I waited around for an hour and a half after the game to talk to her.

Al, married thirty-three years: Well, we were only in eighth grade, but I still had to do the pursuing! I wrote Paula a note, asking if she would go steady. She said yes, and we dated all through high school and got married the day she turned eighteen!

Jefferson, married nine years: I met Bonita at a church picnic and definitely had to pursue her. She didn’t want to have anything to do with me, but I just kept annoying her and pestering her until she finally agreed to go on a date.

Ryan, married three years: Natalie came to one of our band’s shows with a bunch of her friends; I saw her in the crowd and just knew that I had to go talk to her, so I think you could safely say that I pursued her. I found her afterward, got her number, and haven’t stopped talking to her since!

My sweet boy Drew had to do the pursuing, as well — I even turned him down twice before agreeing to a date, because I thought he was too quiet. He told me later that he was beyond distraught and even couldn’t eat for days because he knew he wanted to marry me but I didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with him! Luckily, he mustered up what dignity he had left and asked again, and as it turns out, the third time was the charm. He ended up taking me to the exact place I had told my sister that I wanted my future husband to take me on our first date, and from that first night on, I knew I was going to marry him, too.

Even rock stars and celebrities have to do some pursuing. When it comes to men being the go-getters in relationships, Kelly Ripa’s hunky husband Mark Consuelos says candidly, “I don’t think guys like to be put on a pedestal or, you know, have their butts kissed ... Honestly, that kind of freaks us out. We definitely like a challenge.”

When Rob Thomas met his future wife, Marisol, she apparently was not impressed with him or his appearance, and he had to pursue, as well. “He looked awful,” she says. “He was wearing khaki drawstring pants he’d rolled up to the knee for some reason. He was also wearing a gigantic T-shirt and a floppy fisherman’s hat with Mickey Mouse on it ... I just thought, ‘This is so wrong and so tragic.’” But despite her qualms about his fashion sense, she gave him her number when he asked for it, and a couple of months later, they were engaged.

So regardless of the guy’s current status, bank account, background, or beliefs, if he’s interested, he will do the pursuing. There’s no need to interfere with the ways of nature! Doing so will only scare him off (and I have waaaay too many stories to prove this — ask me sometime and I’d be more than happy to share them!). Of this phenomenon the bold and beautiful Beyoncé says, “When you really don’t like a guy, they’re all over you, and as soon as you act like you like them, they’re no longer interested.”

So how do you avoid the clingy-and-desperate act yet still let him know that you’re available? It all goes back to not making yourself too accessible. It’s not very twenty-first-century-empowered-woman of me to say this, but you simply need to let him call you. Grace Kelly once said, “Emancipation of women has made them lose their mystery.” And a woman’s mystery is one of the biggest attracting factors for a guy. So when in doubt, just put those phones away and keep them there, because dialing his digits four hours after you’ve met is only going to turn him off. In fact, here is a list of activities to abstain from during the initial courting period (which can range from the original meeting to several months down the road — you’ll know when this time is over when he asks you to be exclusively his!).

Making the initial call — the only way you’re allowed to call him is if he first calls you and leaves a specific message asking you to call him back. There are no exceptions, including “Maybe he lost my number” or “He’s really busy, so he probably just forgot” or “He has bad service, so I should just call him.” If he was seriously interested in you, he would never, I repeat, NEVER lose that number, and he would easily make his way to some dark alley to get a few service bars on his phone.

Texting incessantly — especially two hours after you met him to say how much you liked the shirt that he wore tonight. Nothing drains the elusive female mystique faster than a text message that showcases your innermost thoughts and feelings. Leave him to hope, wonder, and get butterflies. Texting does not leave him wanting more.

Social network interaction — nothing says overzealous like a creepy MySpace friend request, and I have yet to meet a girl that ended up with a guy she stalked online. If he’s interested, he will find you. And even then, you shouldn’t get involved in an e-message/IM situation. If he is truly interested, he will want to talk with and see you in person, so there’s no need to start a bizarre-o online relationship.

Too-revealing updates — you need to completely disregard that impulse to race back to your room and blog that you’ve just met the man of your dreams. Word will inevitably get back to him that you’re obsessed with him, and he’ll assume you’re a little batty and will be scared poopless. Guys don’t want to hear that you’re planning their wedding or naming their unborn children (even if you are!), so let’s skip the emotional Facebook updates and the tell-all Twitters.

Planting yourself in strategic spots — the unnatural act of hanging around his hangouts is not only transparent, it’s weird. I’m convinced that if you’re truly destined to be with someone, you won’t have to leave your house at a calculated time, hide out in the bushes for hours, and then magically materialize, looking fresh-faced, surprised to see him, and very available. For the record, driving by his house or apartment multiple times a day doesn’t work, either.

Again, once he has lovingly gazed into your eyes and said that he can’t imagine himself with anyone else, you’re pretty much free to call and text whenever. Until then, the key is to keep him wanting more. And you can’t do that when you’re getting a tan from the 24/7 glow of that cell phone, obnoxiously informing him of every minute detail of your day while subtly slipping in hints of matrimony and grandchildren. Luckily, by the time he’s professed his undying love, it means that he is so enamored of you that you won’t be able to get rid of him — soon you’ll be politely asking him to just leave you alone for a couple hours so that you can get some actual work done!

One of my favorite literary characters of all time, Gone with the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara, said, “Why does a girl have to be so silly to catch a husband?” Judging by the actions of most females these days, one might think this is exactly what we have to do. Between Tila Tequila’s degrading hooker-like antics and the bulk of The Bachelor contestants’ hot-tub-and-champagne shenanigans, silly is an understatement. But in reality, the majority of guys aren’t looking for stupid; they just want a fun, smart, down-to-earth girl they can take home to Mom.

Excerpted from "How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World" by Jordan Christy. Copyright © 2009 by Jordan Christy. Reprinted by Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

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