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The Brilliant Rejection Dating Maneuver

I was talking one day with my two teenage nieces?both sensible young women who apparently have never suffered through the dating experiences I had wrestled with. I started the conversation because I was curious as to the techniques and strategies of the mating dance in the 21st Century. After all, it was my casual observation that dating, as I knew it in the Sixties, had died some years ago.With patience and a healthy respect for elders, the girls gave me an inside look into their world, although I did get a few rolling eyeballs and a couple of those dad-was-right-Uncle-Bob-is-really-dense, big-eyed, blank stares.

But they hung in there like champs and explained to me the rules of modern engagement.I learned that "hooking up" is grounds for locking up and "hanging out" is something between a date and a party. I'm pretty sure that there is still a concept of dating but it no longer leads to "going out" or "going steady". It simply leads to more dates closer together which eventually lead to some kind of nameless monogamous relationship, at which point all roads lead to ownership, jealousy and breaking up. Whew, at least something is still the same.

As for the process of engagement, it is accomplished by IM'ing, or entering chat room discussions, or text messaging on cell phones. Essentially you can contact potential targets in the safety of your basement or bathroom or garage, without even actually talking to them directly. That translates into a New Cowardly World void of dark snarling parents, crackling octave-changing nervous voices, irritable bowel syndrome, and most importantly, the cold bludgeoning slam of a callous phone rejection. It's just servers, routers, cell towers, satellites and keypads nowadays.It is sad in a way that this has all changed because I had mastered a dating technique so sophisticated in its simplicity that it is a shame to see it whither away like so many of my other inventive adolescent coping skills?and I had developed a sack full of them.

The technique is called "The Rejection Dating Maneuver".Its birth was the result of the following phone call I made to supposedly a very sweet girl whom I had been introduced to about a week before that lowly moment. It was my first "cold" call to a girl for a date. (note: the following is an excerpt from a short story I wrote called "The Rejection Dating Maneuver". It is one from a collection of short stories entitled, "Still Living in the Sixties", available to read for free at my website).

After a lengthy pause, during which my short uneventful life passed before me, I released the last digit of her phone number on the rotary phone. I stared blankly at the spinning dial, clutching my sweat soaked notes between my thumb and index finger, unaware of my trembling hands.deh-deh-deh-deh-deh-deh-deh ? dah!.

Silence.My ear began to sweat against the receiver.Ringtone!.Rehrehringgg ? Rehrehringgg ? Rehreh.

"Ya-ello?" a deep voice boomed into my ear.Oh my god! It was her dad; her raspy voiced, connected (as in Tony Soprano connected) dad of all people. I never expected that he'd be home that night.

I figured he'd be out breaking legs or making books or both, but not at home on a Friday night.I needed to respond. He was waiting for some kind of sign of life from my end of the phone.

But my vision was blurred from anxiety, rendering the stupid script I held in my shaking hand useless. My lips were glued together with fear. But somehow I managed to eek out some sounds."Umm ? hello ? umm ? is Gina ? umm ? home?" I cackled like a constipated Leghorn hen."Yeah she's home.

Who's calling?".I ? I ? I didn't know. Who was I? Quick my notes!."Yeah, this is Bob. Umm Crane. That's Bob Crane who this is.

" I answered in broken English, as smooth as Barney Fife on crack cocaine."Bob Crane huh? You that Hogan's Heroes guy? You Hogan?".Was I? Maybe I was. I checked my notes. Nothing there."No sir.

Just regular Bob Crane. No Hogan Bob Crane. I'm just regular.

I like Hogan's Heroes but that isn't me. I'm just?".Her dad cut me off."I get it. You're not.

Jesus Christ I was just jokin' with ya son. Hold on!"."Thank you!" But before I finished, he covered the phone with what I could only imagine was his thick knuckled hand.

Though muted, I could still clearly hear him."Gina! Phone!".Muffled voice."The guy from Hogan's Heroes!".

Muffled voice."Just pick up!".It felt like an hour but I think it was about three seconds.Click."Got it Daddy.

".Click."Hello"."Hi ? Gina?"."Yeah?"."This is Bob Crane.

"."Who?"."Bob Crane.

We met about a week ago. Remember? After band practice? Carteret Park?"."Were you the guy wearing that red bandanna with the big floppy socks like that basketball player, 'Rifle Rick'?"."'Pistol Pete' ? yeah.

"."Yeah, I remember you.".Silence.

Hmm ? she remembered. I guess I was looking pretty cool. But there was no time to bask.

Where was I in the script? My notes!."Yeah, I was wondering if maybe you'd like to go out to the movies or something?"."No. I don't think so.".

Yeeoowser! That hurt.But I didn't stop. I continued along the script like a runaway train.

I was so nervous that I am pretty sure the receiver was shoved up into my ear canal, pressing against the eardrum, making it impossible to listen."I was thinking we could see The Last Picture Show."."Bye.".

Click."I can pick you up at 7 okay?".Dial tone."Okay, see ya then.

Bye.".I gently lowered the receiver and placed it onto the cradle. I felt sick to my stomach. I stared at the phone.

It stared back, snickering.(end of exerpt).At that very moment I went from "loser" lowercase to "LOSER" uppercase.

But not for long. Soon I would develop the "maneuver" and what a sweet maneuver it would be.Without going through the long story of how I figured this all out (read the story), it eventually occurred to me that it was not getting a date that mattered as much as it was controlling the rejection.

It was, after all, rejection?cold unadulterated rejection?that was at the heart of my searing pain. I needed to become one with rejection. And what better way to do that than guarantee rejection. So going forward, I did just that. I always made sure to schedule a first date at a time when I was positive the girl could not make it.

Knowing full well rejection was guaranteed, it was just a matter of judging how I was rejected that would determine if I would make a follow-up call for a real date.And you know what? It worked perfectly. Girls who wanted a date pleaded for me to call back, sometimes telling me what time worked best for them. In a rare case or two, they even rescheduled the date right then and there. As for those girls who were uninterested or violently ill at the thought, they simply jumped on the built-in excuse and politely bowed out. My feelings were never hurt.

It was a beautiful thing. And I used it unapologetically for years with great results.Needless to say, I handed this little juicy morsel down to my son. He has embraced it. And he has assured me should the dating world ever return to the days of the rotary dial phone, he will be ready and he will be thankful for my guidance.

He also asked that I not share it with anyone else, that it be our little secret. I did not promise (to his chagrin).And now I share it with all. Sorry son.

My mission is now complete.

.The article above was written by humorist Robert Crane. It is a short version of his story, "The Rejection Dating Maneuver", from his collection of stories titled, "Still Living in the Sixties", a Shepherd/Sedaris like romp through his life as a teenager growing up during a testy decade.You can read the entire collection for free (no nonsense) at his website: http://www.


By: Robert Crane


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