Monday, October 31, 2011
Guys - you all know what I’m talking about. You are at a table in a public place. It could be in a food court in a mall. It could be in a rotating restaurant atop a skyscraper. You are having a conversation with a woman you would like to know better. She swirls the ice in her lemonade. Or maybe she licks the salt off her margarita. Then she excuses herself to powder her nose. Typically, one or more friends accompany her.
When she returns to the table, the tenor of the conversation radically changes. She may casually drop the fact that she has a boyfriend. She may allude to a recent outbreak of leprosy at her workplace. The verdict is in. You have been weighed and measured and found wanting. The waitress in on it. “Abandon all hope,” reads the check she hands you.
Or it could go the other way. The potential love of your life (or considerably shorter) lets you know her favorite spot to watch the paint dry, which is your cue to respond with something like, “Why don’t we check it out?” You’ve passed the road test. The waitress who hands you the check is doing an end zone dance.
What just happened?
Here is what I only just found out about women’s rooms: An inner door opens into a spacious oak-paneled chamber. A panel of twelve women in judicial robes are seated around a mahogany board table. The woman you may or may not get a chance to know better (perhaps with one or more of her friends) takes a seat at a smaller table.
It doesn’t matter whether the venue is a trendy eatery on New York’s upper east side, a dive in Bakersfield, or a tea house in the Himalayan foothills. All inner chambers to women’s rooms are built to the exact same specifications. At all times, twelve women with the power to decide your fate are on duty. There are no exceptions.
The women jurists have observed everything via discreet monitors. The deliberations begin. Conversation is brief, judgment is summary. If there is any doubt, a wall panel slides open, revealing a ten-foot flat-screen monitor. The monitor is in a particular shade in the blue-violet spectrum for which they have yet to assign a lip-gloss name.
The monitor shimmers, slowly revealing three Jungian archetypal woman in some type of ancient Egyptian or Aztec or Inca gear. Or maybe they are Cher’s hand-me-downs. No one says anything, not the archetypal women, not the twelve jurists, not the woman (or her friends) seeking a ruling.
Finally, the chief archetypal woman - the one looking the most like Cher - signals the tribunal’s decision with “the look.” There is no room for misinterpretation. Everyone in the room gets it instantly.
In the case of a thumbs-down, three woman dressed as social workers emerge from a side door. Their job is to advise the woman petitioner on how to best carry out the verdict. The old “I just remembered I need to return a library book” trick?
If it’s a thumbs-up, a pit crew of makeover artists descends on the woman petitioner. A subtle shift in fabric this way or that way, a faint splash of scent, a slight application of color. Nothing a man would actually notice, but on some unconscious level would register in his brain as an actual “yes.”
It could be a conditional yes, a modified unconditional yes, or a mixed modified conditional/unconditional yes. The man, of course, has no way of figuring this out.
And there you are - poor guy - alone at the table, pretending to check messages on your phone, totally clueless, totally unaware.
Now you know. A lot of good it will do you.