How to outwit the one you love

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

One would like to think that love is a many-splendored thing, love is blind, love can move mountains, etc.

And maybe for some women it is all those things. I think those women are the serial daters, falling hard for someone and then moving on quickly after a broken heart.

For the rest of us, love is a test of skill. You must outwit the object of your affections.

So when I heard about a dear young friend planning a "romantic" weekend with her man to go to a hockey game in St. Louis, I knew what was up. She also has a three-day "romantic" weekend planned around another hockey game in Chicago next month.

Does she love hockey that much? Probably not. But her man has season tickets and an all-Blues casual wardrobe, not to mention an all-Blues bachelor pad motif, complete with a full set of Blues beer steins.

Despite all that, she loves her man. And she knows that, if she is to get any sort of long-term commitment out of him, she must pretend to enjoy hockey the way he probably pretends to enjoy pillow talk.

Oh, don't get all holier-than-thou and talk about how you are WOMAN, hear you roar, and you wouldn't ever put on an act for a man. If you have dated someone while in your 20s, you've done this.

My mother pretended to enjoy weekends in the country and gourmet cooking to land my stepfather. At the time, I just enjoyed the hiatus from Hamburger Helper and kept my mouth shut.

A friend who will soon celebrate her 20th anniversary spent her weekends fishing with her future husband.

"I was petrified of being finned," she said. "I squeezed the fish so hard that poop came out."

Another friend pretended to have a deep interest in "A Clockwork Orange," "Naked Lunch" and avant-garde film in general to get her man. It's 10 years later, and I think the last movie she saw was "Spy Kids."

For me, it was The Three Stooges and auto racing.

Back then, The Other Half was just a cute guy at work with an on-and-off relationship with a girl who was totally wrong for him -- at least, compared to me. He mentioned his love for The Three Stooges one day.

I reached into the depths of my mental filing cabinet and came up with this: "I LOVE the Stooges! I think I read that WGN or TBS or something is having a Stooges marathon this weekend. Want to come over and watch some of it?"

"Really?" he said incredulously. "You love the Stooges, too?"

"Oh yes," I said. "They are HILARIOUS."

In short, I hate the Stooges. What is to like about men beating the living daylights out of each other in many different ways? I can watch that on the news.

As for auto racing, I had no idea who Mark Martin was until 1993. I had to wing it.

Over the course of our dating, Mr. Half came to appreciate me for the things I actually liked. Today, I take only the occasional trip to the racetrack, and that's because it's only right for a woman to be supportive when she can stand it.

But I think I still have him fooled on the Stooges. If they come on, I simply feign disappointment and say, "Darn. I have to do the laundry."

Works like a charm. Seven years and we're still in love.

Heidi Hall is managing editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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