A manual for you: How to Find a Wife
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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