Years ago I had a colleague who often lamented his difficulties meeting women and getting dates. He was a robust Nordic type, neither handsome nor ugly, with a ready wit and wide-ranging interests. I couldn’t understand the reason for his trouble, but I thought I could help him.
At the time, I had two dogs, an intense German Shepherd female named Lexi, and Mojo, a twelve-pound ShihTzu/Poodle mix with little button eyes and curly black fur. “Why don’t you come to my house some afternoon, and I will lend you Mojo to take for a walk,” I said to my colleague. I had a strategy in mind. We lived near a university campus, and I figured that if he appeared on one of the quads, all tall and manly and with tiny Mojo in tow, he would soon be accosted by a host of fawning women—undergraduates, librarians, female faculty, and perhaps even a doddering emerita or two. Mojo, I was sure, would be more successful at getting him female attention than a pheromone-laced aftershave or a bright red Porsche.
There is something deeply stirring to the female psyche in the sight of a man being kind to a small creature. It’s akin to the effect on men of a woman’s perfect hip-to-waist ratio, which subconsciously conveys valuable information about health and childbearing capacity. As for women, a man holding, and even better, cuddling and murmuring to a cute animal leads them to conclude (perhaps rashly) that he would be the type to stick around and not abandon you with a babe in arms. Christian iconography figured this out long ago, ensuring female devotion to bearded, virile Saint Joseph by picturing him not, say, with his arm around the shoulder of the adolescent Jesus, but instead with the divine Baby in his arms. (In the other hand he holds a lily, a symbol of chastity. But that’s another story.)
For the babe magnet effect to succeed, small dogs with dome-shaped heads such as French Bulldogs or Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are preferable to long-muzzled, wolf-like German Shepherds and Huskies, and puppies are way better than adults. Kittens, however, with their big eyes and tiny mouths and fluffy little upright tails—not to mention their mewing, which sounds uncannily like a newborn human’s cry—trump everything. Human babies work too, in a pinch, but only if it’s perfectly clear that the man is not married and the child is not his.
This response is so deeply ingrained in women’s DNA that, even when dating is out of the question, the presence of an infant in the care of a man captures female attention. Think how much more gushing a baby elicits when it is being carried down supermarket aisles by a man, versus when that same baby is held by a woman. Sometimes, a mere sign that there is a baby somewhere in the man’s life will do the trick. A friend reminisced recently about using one of his children’s diaper pins to secure a torn backpack strap and being amazed by the chorus of “awwwws” from his female co-workers.
A man who spends hours in the gym sculpting his abs in the misguided hope of attracting women would do well to consider adopting a pet instead, and taking it for walks. Depending on the kind of partner he wants to entice, he and his babe magnet would visit parks, college campuses, shopping malls, or, on Sunday mornings, church parking lots. Of course pet adoption, like dating and marriage, does tend to complicate life….
As for my dateless colleague, he never did take me up on my offer of Mojo, and then I moved away and lost touch with him. But I was told sometime later that he had adopted a dog from the Humane Society. And shortly after that, I heard that he had married.