My friend Sue's daughter, Kathryn, called last week to tell her mother she had finally found "Mr. Right".
"Honey, that's marvelous!" said Sue. "But how do you know he's the one?"
Kathryn was quick to respond. "We just have so much in common, Mom! Like, we both bite our fingernails, and neither one of us uses artificial sweeteners. Oh, and get this! We both adore Country and Western dancing!"
Later, Sue confided in me that she was nervous about her daughter's selection criteria. "Kathryn hardly knows this fellow at all, and yet she's ready to marry him. Just imagine", Sue wailed, "choosing a husband simply because he knows how to do the Cotton Eye Joe!"
I tried to reassure Sue that Kathryn would be just fine, but deep down inside I sympathized. After all, I remember when my own daughter was Kathryn's age, I used to lay awake nights worrying that one day she'd meet some guy at the grocery store, discover that they both prefer Blue Bell to Haagen-Dazs, and fall in love right there in the frozen foods section! Engagement rings have been bought on far less shared experience than that, you know.
The most unsettling thing about Kathryn's selection process is that it's so – well, so... female. I mean really, just what is it about choosing a husband that can turn thinking, rational women into starry-eyed, mush-brained ninnies? I have no idea. I suppose it's because we're so blinded by the passion of the moment, that we seldom stop to consider whether or not we're the least bit compatible with this man.
My favorite author, Jean Kerr put it this way, "Marrying a man is like buying something you've been admiring for a long time in a shop window. You may love it when you get it home, but it doesn't always go with everything else."
The more I've thought about this, the more I've decided that even though my own daughter managed to find a wonderful husband without my help, I owe it to the rest of the females still out there "shopping for Mr. Right” to offer my suggestions on a few things they should find out about him first. (And believe me, after living with my own "selection" for almost 38 years now, I know which questions are important!)
For starters, a woman should ask, "What time does he get up on Saturday mornings?" Can a girl who loves lounging in bed until noon, ever find happiness with a man who jumps out of bed at 6 a.m. and fires up the lawn mower? I doubt it.
Next, "What kind of personal habits does he have?" Is he the type to thoughtfully wipe up the water from around the sink after he shaves, or does he wait for Rosie, the Jetson's maid, to come along and do it for him? A woman needs to know these things.
How about this one: "Does he have overly-lofty expectations?" For example, I have a friend, Monte, who married a terrific guy just shortly after he graduated from West Point. Imagine her surprise when Mike insisted that she roll up his socks "military style", the way he'd been taught to do at the academy. Supposedly, this method makes it impossible to conceal weapons in the socks. Of course, prior to this bizarre request, it had never occurred to Monte to conceal weapons in Mike's socks. Now she considers it almost weekly.
Another question to ask is, "Did his mother spoil him?" If his mommy made happy faces out of syrup on his pancakes until he graduated from high school, will he look at you with pathetic eyes every time you set a box of cold cereal in front of him? Probably so.
Something else worth knowing is, "How handy is he?" There used to be a fix-it man on public television whose motto was, "If women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy". How true. If your fellow can't figure out how to put new batteries in a flashlight, what on earth will he do when your toddler flushes a sneaker down the toilet?
And finally, the biggest question of all is, "Can he carry a tune?" This is not a trivial thing, ladies. Consider the prospect of spending the next fifty-odd years (emphasis on the word "odd") hearing "O Solo Mio" bellowed from the shower every morning, with no hint of a melody or clue to the words. It's like having bamboo shoots jammed under your fingernails, and who could possibly tolerate something like that?
A starry-eyed, mush-brained ninny like me, that's who.