2011-06-16 / Sandy Days, Salty Nights

Girls, stow the baggage when you meet that guy

The male mind is a splendid thing, dark and convoluted in parts, flat and simple and open as the Plains in others. Just when I think I have men figured out, I learn — for what feels like the thousandth time — that I have no idea what’s going on up there.

I recently wrote about my friend Jerry, who turned down the advances of a woman who I thought was chasing too hard. I was at dinner with a group of friends and the shy, pretty waitress spent the last part of the meal indicating her interest to Jerry. In their conversation, she mentioned her kids and recent divorce. I watched his interest cool as they spoke and I chalked his weakened enthusiasm to her determined efforts.

It turns out I was wrong.

Men have been writing all week to let me know I made a bad call. Southwest Florida bachelors — who are among the most with-it dating-wise — wanted to set the record straight.

“Even nice guys have baggage restrictions...” “Even nice guys have baggage restrictions...” “You say you could feel Jerry’s interest wan when she divulged information about her life — two children and a recent divorce,” Phil from Punta Gorda said. “Maybe, like me, he summed up too much baggage.”

The situation seemed like a lot of effort for a questionable reward, according to Phil. He had this bit of advice for the waitress: “She should have held back divulging her liabilities until she proved she had assets to share as well.”

Another reader, Joe, spelled out the scene in specific terms. “I dondon’tt think you understood what had actually hap-happened,” he said. “I am also a single man and Jerry was right.ht. He was in the inter-interview/ qualify stage,, and myself and most people would havee also run to the door like someone was chasing me.”

According to Joe,oe, here’s what Jerry found out: “She iss a waitress — long weird hours, low pay, no career. She has two kids — luggage. She just went through a divorcevorce — baggage. Three strikes and she was out.”

Sheldon, who is 50-plus and loves online dating, had a similar reaction. c rf “And as for your example of your friend Jerry, I would say that he lost interest in the waitress not because she made herselff available, but because she was recently divorced with kids. That ‘baggage’ was far more of a deterrent than her being eager to date.”

In a world where half of marriages end in divorce and many divorced women have children, I was shocked to hear her situation would be such a turnoff. For the responsibility-averse man, sure. But for the bulk of men? I didn’t see that one coming.

Later in the week, I bumped into a friend who had been at the original dinner. “Jerry’s still talking about that waitress,” he said. “What aabout?” I asked. “About her kids and her divorce.”

So what the bachelors had been telling me was true: Even nice guys have baggage restrictions.

“She didn’t seem like a bad girl,” my friend said. “She just led with the wrong topic.”

I asked him what would have been better. He thought for a few seconds. “Trucks,” he said. ¦

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