Scary, ladies, ain't it? It seems that when we leave the house, we are like lambs to slaughter, wading through a brambly, tropical hell of three-legged monsters who want to trick us into letting them recharge their masculine egos in the depths of our vaginal sockets.
Oh, that's so unfair, gents, I know, but it's seriously difficult for women to isolate the gems from the slag.
Femmes of the night, the other sex is plotting, planning, and playing. Believe.
Proof positive: the one young man who told me: "Anyone who says 'I don't play games' is lying to themselves and everyone else." The only way to get a leg up on the dogs is to know the types, know the game, and play your man before he plays you.
And with that, I present a case study in three parts: Chris, Gordon, and Steve. Their types: The dead eye, the guy you really want, and the straight-up dog.
Chris, a 26-year-old string bean with blond hair, occupied a stool at a high-top table on the crowded sidewalk outside Rush Street in Fort Lauderdale on a recent Saturday night. "Every time I fall in love, I get dumped," he said. "My experience is the nicer I am, the less a girl likes me. The bigger an asshole I am, the more they like me. Maybe I just attract bitches."
The young man's light-pink lips were reciting the male mantra of "Nice guys finish last." One look into Chris' blue eyes revealed that something was terribly amiss. In the blue-tinted windows to his soul, I spied unmistakable signs of the downtown Fort Lauderdale epidemic: dead eye. It's a condition in which a man's eyes communicate nothing, appreciate nothing, and measure everything against an inflated sense of self-importance. His irises were clammy beneath a thin veil; inside, there were no signs of sentient life.
Don't let the bright-colored button-down fool you, ladies. The typical Himmarshee village male is a dead-eye pod person.
Chris' dead eye was so severe that it seemed he and his two tall friends were dead-eye poster boys -- professional athletes.
But, no. They were the other intolerably self-important breed, young lawyers.
Let's not be too harsh, though. Everybody knows that a villain is just a gentle giant who's coped with a turn of bad luck by scaling back his humanity. It's the easy way to deal.
Case in point: "I've always had horrible problems with women because I'm too honest," Chris said. "I met a guy who told me about the three strikes rule. You give her three chances, and if it doesn't work, it's never going to work. The first time I call a woman, I leave a message. The second time I call, I don't leave a message. The third time, I leave a message with my phone number and never call her again."
This sounds like a safe plan -- but one devoid of sincerity.
Now, consider Chris' date-scheduling tactics: "What you do is you schedule three dates a night. One of them is going to blow you off. You postpone one. And you hook up with the other one."
This dating machine has barbed-wire fences and rabid dogs guarding his heart. No one's getting close, and here's why: "A girl is playing games even if she doesn't think she is. The one thing I learned is that you're either playing or you're being played. You never let a girl have power in the relationship. You only get hurt that way. The best way to change the power balance in a relationship is to play hard to get. Don't call her. Go out with your friends. Say, 'My buddy just called me. '"
This dead eye has put his pain into a game that goes a little too far. That creates a problem for this upstanding man. The girls he has burned line the nightlife battlefield with spikes on the toes of their high-heeled shoes, just waiting for a victim, which leads us to:
"I'm a Harry Met Sally kind of guy," explained 34-year-old Gordon, an easy-mannered, handsome bald man sporting the business-casual open blazer so popular at Lauderdale's hottest lounge, Blue Martini.
He's the smart, adventurous, professional man whom women would really want to date -- if they were lucky enough to find him.
Sure, Gordon's hanging out at the nightspot where men with hair plugs splurge on giggling spa bunnies who allow them to lean ever closer to suspiciously pert breasts that skimpy tank tops fail to contain. But it's also a place where he finds better-than-decent conversation.
"Yes," Gordon began, "there are those guys who make women skeptical. I have a lot of girlfriends who are jaded by relationships. These good-looking women go after good-looking guys even if they're pompous asses... They're vastly disappointed, and then they take it out on everybody.
"If I go up to a girl and say 'What's up?' after five assholes have approached her, then I get kicked in the shins. And guess what? I'm not doing it again."
Uh oh, Gordon's in limbo: Will he rebound from blows to the shins and meet a gold-hearted girl, or will he let his eyes die.
Gordon seemed to have a teeny crush on our attractive, bosomy bartender, Jersey. But, he said, "I bet she's jaded because of all the assholes who come in here."
I pulled the bubble-breasted, natural-faced beauty over and asked if she's defensive with men.
"Yes," she said. "But you give a guy about four shots and you can figure out if he's an asshole or not."
Another prick-savvy siren. Gordon beware.
And speaking of dicks...
Adamant about pouring more liquor through that hole to China that used to be my liver, I headed out to get soused on a Tuesday night at Tarpon Bend. There, I met a tall, average-looking, brown-eyed man named Steve. Every woman fears that someone like him is lurking inside her boyfriend.
He doesn't have to try to come off as an asshole to keep a girl's interest. "It's in my code. I can't help it. I circulate among three or four girls and they're great, but they're not the one."
Do you lie to these women?
"I go above and beyond to convince each girl that she is the one, but if I found that girl, I'd dump them all."
In the meantime, Steve says, "I have needs."
If you met that girl, would you tell her the truth about yourself?
"I couldn't," he answered. "She wouldn't want to be with me. I fish with a big net that has small holes."
His shorter, light-brown-haired friend, who was named Chris, revealed his tactic: "When approaching a group of girls, I always talk to the second-hottest one."
Steve wasn't buying it.
"My standards are low. In a group of girls, I look for the weakest link, the one who's not getting attention. I look for the wounded beast, the one who's limping along. Come on, she needs love too. I don't have enough time for the cream of the crop."
In his rotation of girls, he says, he's got a big one. "That girl is homely, but she knows her body. When she comes, it's explosive. I love that girl. The hotter one is not as good in bed. She has the tightest little 18-year-old ass, but that girl won't come, and that bothers me."
Her not coming equals her not being good in bed. How curious, I think, and suggest, "Maybe you make her uncomfortable." Indeed, how could he not?
"I never thought of that," he said, and seemed to feel better all of a sudden. It was as if his ego was the most important thing. And for the dead-eye dog in Himmarshee, it is.