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Monday, January 1, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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`Yes' Is Wrong Answer For Timid, Easily Startled Guys

Knight-Ridder Newspapers

TODAY we're going to explore the mysterious topic of How Guys Think, which has baffled women in general, and the editors of Cosmopolitan magazine in particular, for thousands of years.

The big question, of course, is: How come guys never call? After successful dates, I mean. You single women out there know what I'm talking about. You go out with a guy, and you have a great time, and he seems to have a great time, and at the end of the evening he says, quote, "Can I call you?" And you interpret this to mean "Can I call you?" and answer: "Sure!"

The instant you say this, the guy's body starts to dematerialize. Within a few seconds you can stick a tire iron right through him and wave it around; in a few more seconds he has vanished entirely, gone into the mysterious Guy Bermuda Triangle, where whole squadrons of your dates have disappeared over the years, never to be heard from again.

Eventually you start to wonder if there's something wrong with you, some kind of emotional hang-up or personality defect that your dates are detecting. Or possibly foot odor. You start having long, searching discussions with your women friends in which you say things like: "He really seemed to like me" and "I didn't feel as though I was putting pressure on him" and "Would you mind, strictly as a friend, smelling my feet?"

This is silly. There's nothing wrong with you. In fact, you should interpret the behavior of your dates as a kind of guy compliment to you. Because when the guy asks you if he can call you, what he's really asking you, in Guy Code, is will you marry him. Yes.

See, your basic guy is into a straight-ahead, bottom-line kind of thought process that does not work nearly as well with the infinitely subtle complexities of human relationships as it does with calculating how much gravel is needed to cover a given driveway. So here's what the guy is thinking: If he calls you, you'll go out again, and you'll probably have another great time, so you'll probably go out again and have another great time, and so on, until the only possible option will be to get married. This is classic Guy Logic.

So when you say "Sure!" in a bright and cheery voice, you may think you're simply indicating a willingness to go out again, but as far as he's concerned you're endorsing a lifetime commitment that he is quite frankly not ready to make after only one date, so he naturally decides he can never see you again.

From that day forward, if he sees you on the street, he'll sprint in the opposite direction to avoid the grave risk that the two of you might meet, which would mean he'd have to ask you if you wanted to get a cup of coffee, and you might say yes, and pretty soon you'd be enjoying each other's company again, and suddenly a clergyman would appear at your table and YOU'D HAVE TO GET MARRIED AIEEEEEEE.

(You women think this is crazy, right? Whereas you guys out there are nodding your heads.)

So my advice for single women is that if you're on a date with a guy you like, and he asks whether he can call you, you should give him a non-threatening answer, such as:

"No."

Or:

"I guess so, but bear in mind that I'm a nun."

This will make him comfortable about seeing you again, each time gaining the courage to approach you more closely, in the manner of a timid, easily startled woodland creature such as a chipmunk. In a few years, if the two of you really do have common interests and compatible personalities, you may reach the point where he'll be willing to take the Big Step, namely, eating granola directly from your hand.

No matter how close you become, however, remember this rule: Do not pressure the guy to share his most sensitive innermost thoughts and feelings with you. Guys hate this, and I'll tell you why: If you were to probe inside the guy psyche, beneath that macho exterior and the endless droning about things like the 1978 World Series, you would find, deep down inside, a passionate, heartfelt interest in: the 1978 World Series.

Yes. The truth is, guys don't have any sensitive innermost thoughts and feelings. It's time you women knew! All these years you've been agonizing about how to make the relationship work, wondering how come he never talks to you, worrying about all the anguished emotion he must have bottled up inside, and meanwhile he's fretting about how maybe he needs longer golf spikes.

I'm sorry to have to tell you this. Maybe you should become a nun.

Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald. His column appears Monday on editorial pages of The Times.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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