in rural Paris, Iowa, and Wordpress

Ladies, How to Spot a Jerk Early On: Rule 1

An enormous number of entries of the What-I-Want-in-My-Man ilk are posted in blogs, most of them by women. These blog entries ebb and flow over time, but it has been high tide recently what with the “Man on Top” naming contest in Salon.

By way of comment on one of the more eloquent of these blogs, I offered the observation that there is a marked disparity between what women say they want and what they truly want. If one disregards what women say and watch what they do, this becomes readily apparent. However, I was by no means implying in that comment that I understand women. Not at all.

Nor do I intend to disparage the subject matter. It is important. Young women are in the grip of Schopenhauer’s Will to Reproduce. (Please do not ask me to define “young.” It is a state of mind as everyone here well knows already.) In connection with his discussion of the Will to Reproduce, Schopenhauer tells us:

The relation of the sexes . . . is really the invisible central point of all action and conduct, and peeps out everywhere in spite of all veils thrown over it. It is the cause of war and the end of peace; the basis of what is serious, and the aim of the jest, the inexhaustible source of wit, the key of all illusions, and the meaning of all mysterious hints.

We should not be surprised then that the subject of men is therefore of some passing interest to straight, young women. Schopenhauer did not think highly at all of the Will to Reproduce and thought it the source of all of humanity’s woes, but Schopenhauer was a woman hater.

Perhaps in many cases we ought to amend Schopenhauer and call it the Will to Use the Tool of Reproduction Without Actually Reproducing or–say, in the case of an older young woman–the Will to Use the Tool  That Used to Be the Tool of Reproduction. Those are distinctions without any differences for our purposes here.

While I freely admit that I do not understand women, I can confidently say that I do understand men. I am an old man myself. I have spent significant time over the course of this life comparing attitudes and opinions on many topics with other men when no women were present. One of those topics was often women who were not present. Men are forthright and revealing in those circumstances. Given enough of these conversations and enough observations of men in action, one sees patterns emerge that are pregnant with meaning, if you will pardon the phrase.

In short, young ladies, I can help.

I intend to do a series on simple, easy to understand rules to help you identify a jerk for what he is early on. After having read quite a number of your blog entries and in many cases listened to other young women hold forth personally, this appears to me to be the area in which you need the most help.

Remember that this is not mandatory reading, but mock me if you will; excoriate me if you must. You do so to your own loss. I recognize that all of you can identify a jerk given months or years, but many of you could not spot a jerk quickly if your life depended on it. And in some rare instances it does.

Why can you trust the old solipsist? Because, to be blunt, the old solipsist has absolutely no interest in getting into your pants. This is more than you can say with any confidence about your male therapist or your clergyman . . . or your female therapist or your clergywoman for that matter. For his part, on the other hand, the old solipsist is pretty well safely worn out now by consequences of his earlier involvement with younger young women.

With that and if you are still with me, let us get on to the first important rule, Rule 1.

You may be surprised to find that Rule 1 deals with what would at first appear to be something innocuous. Almost invariably in your What-I-Want-in-My-Man blog entries, you list a sense of humor as a thing that you want. That is fine and laudable insofar as it goes. Some important fine tuning of that concept is necessary, however.

Please do this for me. After you have made that easy, initial determination that the man in question does indeed have a sense of humor, please pay attention to the objects of that sense of humor. If the 0bjects of the man’s sense of humor, the topics that he likes to have fun with, are habitually other human beings, alarm bells should start to go off.

Your problem is that this is not as simple to discern and not as self-evident as it sounds. He may be very entertaining, very witty, and make you laugh easily with this. Moreover, he may be having fun at the expense of people whom you yourself do not care for, which may delight you.

I am telling you, however, that it does not make any difference whether he is making fun of Dick Cheney or a boss you hate or someone you do not know. It makes no difference if he teases people to their face or makes fun of people behind their backs. Please make a big mental note with a Sharpie® if his sense of humor is always expressed at the expense of other human beings. Then watch like a hawk for symptoms of discomfiture or edginess when others tease him good-naturedly. You probably have a closet jerk on your hands.

I will explain The Solipsist’s Quick Jerk Assessment Rating Scale in more detail on some other occasion. Suffice it to say for the time being that on that scale the man who consistently makes jokes only at the expense of others must clearly display at least six unrelated, highly favorable character traits in order to cancel out that one jerk indicator. Six is the highest number of unrelated, highly favorable character traits necessary to cancel out any one of the solipsist’s jerk indicators on The Solipsist’s Quick Jerk Assessment Rating Scale. Men who have six unrelated, highly favorable character traits are rara aves. That is how important this is as a quick indicator, which is why I devote so much time to it.

This man who expresses his sense of humor only at the expense of others may have great, ongoing entertainment value for you strictly as a friend, even unto when you have become an old lady. But do not bed down with him. Not even as a friend with privileges. Why? For one thing because when you are then not present, you yourself are probably going to be an object of his sense of humor, most likely with other men. This is a big indicator of a man with respect issues. It will be painful when you discover that later.

A corollary to the rule. Let us say you notice that the man in question relates humorous stories or anecdotes in which he himself is the object. I am certainly not talking about the oh-woe-is-me type here. You do not need my help in spotting that one fast. I am talking about the man who displays a sense of humor about himself, a man capable of making himself the butt of his own humorous anecdotes or toss-offs. That is a man worth more time. You might be able to domesticate that man with acceptable results.

Of course you must still take into account other quick jerk indicators that I will discuss in the future and weight those by employing The Solipsist’s Quick Jerk Assessment Rating Scale, but I’m just saying . . . .

Now then. Does everyone still here have a good handle on the rule pertaining to his attitude toward his mother? There is another thing that is deceptively tricky to assess in the extreme, as some of you have no doubt discovered. I do not want to waste precious time discussing areas in which you are already sure you know what the hell you are doing. You will then not attend to anything I say in any event. I understand that everyone is in a hurry, which is the very reason that you need to be able to spot jerks for what they are early on.

I wish to leave you on a positive, hopeful note today. You have a natural advantage over young men in the grip of the Will to Reproduce, which manifests itself in them as something more akin to a Will to Fornicate. They are all single-minded sperm delivery systems. Some of them are extremely efficient at this, some of them are fumblers, and some do not deliver to women.

The only issues are whether the sperm delivery system in front of you makes deliveries to women and can be domesticated. If so, he might then be rendered useful for purposes in addition to sex, like enjoyable companionship for example. Your natural advantage in making that determination is that you are able to look past a pleasing physical aspect after the initial visual jolt if you will just do it.

In the meantime be careful out there and pay attention.

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