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A manual for you: How to Find a Wife

Messenger Columnist

March 17, 2001 10 PM

You have little to offer or show,

Leading a semi-boring life.

Poor guy, you’re just another beau

In search of a beautiful wife.

As a last resort, Joe Desparan buys one of the current best sellers, A Manual: How To Find A Wife, but doubts it will help.

The first line jolts him: "Only losers buy this manual."

The second line commands him to stand a full minute in front of a bodylength mirror.

Joe’s reflection shows a figure barely 5 feet, 8 inches, a thinning pate, slight eye bags, double chin, flat chest, paunch, pipelike arms and legs – a physique common among the nearly 40 sets of white-collar workers.

Returning to the manual he gets jolted again: "How dare you, a physical slob, fantasize about finding a tall, beautiful, well-figured, sophisticated, sexy wife!"

Embarrassed and angry, Joe considers trashing the manual, but the next line changes tune. "Wait, there is hope. Don’t despair! Follow instructions carefully and you’ll probably find a suitable mate."

Reinspired, he reads on.

"First, avoid putting on an, act to impress the future Missus. Be yourself, however dull that may be, because nubile women can spot a phony in an instant.

"Second, are you trustworthy? If not, return the manual and get your money back. Women overlook a lot of faults, but never an untrustworthy man.

"Third, become a good listener. Once a prospect gets to know you, expect a detailed autobiography.

"Fourth, tolerate loquacity as a virtue, because a reticent woman may have a cabinet stocked with unpleasant skeletons.

"And fifth, dine at the local eatery rather than at a fancy restaurant. Informality counts here."

Joe’s confidence grows with each page, and he finishes the manual in one sitting.

For the next three months he dates a variety of women, none who consider him mate-bait. Discouraged, he recalls a passage at the end of the manual: "Persevere; the odds favor you."

Finally Joe meets Emma Readyfor, a lady not unlike his own profile.

With the manual’s advice now second-nature to him, all goes well. And, as predicted, Emma opens up on the fifth date.

A year later, despite a hitch or two and a non-fairy-tale romance, Joe and Emma marry.

Though not naively in love, both recognize that compatibility beats a lonely, single life.

Emma moves her belongings into Joe’s tidy apartment. Dutifully he helps her unpack and arrange everything as ordered.

Tired and sweaty, Emma takes a break to shower.

Joe unloads the last box filled with books and places them neatly on a shelf.

One especially catches his eye. A Manual: How To Find A Husband.

Nick Costes writes a regular column for The Messenger.  

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