Forward with Rick
wish I could take credit for this story, it is not
mine. A dance student gave it to me
Back in those days I taught a course called "How to
Meet People" for Leisure Learning.
dance student took my workshop. After class,
she stayed behind to say she liked my class.
By the way, she had a story
to share with me that contained themes that similar to my class.
Would I like to read it? Sure.
Later that week, the lady handed me The Quest
at the studio with permission to use it in my Dating
workshop. I read the story and liked it. In fact, I loved it.
teaching the course in 1986 and forgot all about
The Quest. When I decided to begin
teaching my "Meeting People - Dating Game" again in
May 2012, by chance I ran across the story lying
there along with the rest of my ancient notes.
I read it again. While reading, I came
across a passage that was relevant to one of my
topics. I decided to read the passage to my
class that evening. My students were very
impressed. They asked if there was more.
I said yes and added I would be happy to share the
complete story. So here it is.
Prepare yourself for a very unique personal saga.
One - The Quest Begins
My editor Delores
called me into her office. I am
fresh out of graduate school in Journalism
and she has an idea for my first assignment.
“Cynthia,” she said,
“sit down. Take a look out
the window. What do you see?”
After I take my seat, I stare out
the window. This office isn’t
quite high enough for
a view of the skyline, so instead
I see the enormous buildings
“I see lots of
office buildings and windows,” I
those offices are professional men, most of whom are college
graduates. Many of those men are married, but many of those
men are not married. My question to you is this – how does
a single professional woman in Houston bridge the gap to
find those professional men? Where does she meet men like
that in hopes of developing a relationship?”
wide-eyed at Delores. “You are asking me? You realize I am
from another state and have only been in Houston for a
month. I don’t have a clue! I don’t even know where to
why you are perfect. I want to send you on an adventure. I
want you to pretend like you are a young woman who is new to
Houston and kind of lonely. Where would a girl like you
start to find a boyfriend?”
“You understand of course that I don’t have to pretend.”
Now Delores smiled. “Exactly. I am so glad we agree you are
perfect for the assignment. Are you game?”
swallowing hard. I was excited and terrified all at the
same time. I didn’t even know where to begin. But that was
exactly why my editor had chosen me. More so than her
experienced writers, I could give her a perspective like no
people to read her magazine. Her target audience was young
professionals. Houston was growing by leaps and bounds
thanks to the oil boom of the early Eighties. Many of these
people were fairly new to Houston. They would probably find
this article interesting, maybe even
“I’m in. Tell me
the details of what you want.”
Chapter Two -
there are a lot of princes out there in frog’s clothes,”
said my stockbroker friend Debbie. “There are
definitely men in Houston, but you have to know where to
look for them. Houston’s sidewalks are much too hot for
street life, so you have find the holes where they hide
to escape the heat.”
replying to my question about how to find the right guy in a
city like Houston.
I looked up
Debbie when I first came to Houston. Debbie and I had done
undergraduate work together at the
University of Colorado. We are both age 25, both
single. However, that’s about to change. Debbie is
engaged. While I have been immersed in
academia ever since high school, Debbie has been out
here in the Real World dating and learning. Therefore, when
it comes to men, Debbie is the expert, Cynthia is the
neophyte. I go to Debbie whenever I have a question about
my adventure, I took the time to look up the statistics. I
knew Houston had a population around a million, but were
there lots of frogs here? There should
be. Wasn't Houston was founded on a bayou?
Houston rates very high on the list of cities with eligible
bachelors. Statistics was not my
major, so I can’t imagine how they
come up with these statistics or who bothers to figure it
out. However, there is it in the
Houston has a good reputation with women around the country
as a modern-day Happy Hunting Ground for eligible men.
Well, good. Maybe this
assignment wouldn't be too much trouble.
The Bayou City is
considered one of the best places on Earth besides all the
single men in China and Alaska where a single gal has a
fighting chance at finding the guy of her dreams. This
reputation is due to the profusion of male-dominated
The bulge in
Houston’s population curve is filled with young working
adults 20 to 40 years old. According to the last census,
there are almost as many single men in Houston as women –
1.06 women to every man.
When you compare
that figure with the disheartening situations in New York,
DC, or San Francisco, single women are grateful to be here
and not there.
Many of us women
still believe the world is divided into two kinds of men –
all the wonderful, interesting ones we can’t find and all
the creepy, crawly ones who have found us.
started looking for men, I decided the place to
begin was asking some of my female colleges and
girlfriends what they thought.
never seen a more cynical bunch in my life. I got
the sense that these statistics didn’t mean a darn
thing to any of them.
there is a collective sensibility among single
Houston women that there is no one for them. The
conviction is that yes, there are plenty of men out
there, but no, these men don’t seem very interested
in much beyond having sex and whatever it takes to
lead to sex.
hurts because these same women were raised with the
hope of loving and being loved by a man.
Collectively speaking, Houston’s single women are
feeling pretty forlorn.
It is so
tricky to make a sweeping statement like this
provocative and have it be true for everyone. For
example, my married friends told me just the
opposite. No, their husbands didn’t just fall down
from a tree, but by and large, Houston rewarded them
with a more than adequate mate.
there were the ladies in committed relationships.
Not surprisingly, they tended to be bullish on
Houston’s dating prospects as well.
learned that I could predict a
woman's response based on the marital
or relationship status of
who I was talking
Girls with men said Houston
was okay, girls without men were pretty negative.
There are no statistics on the
number of women who are looking. Hence
I can't say whether things are better or worse on
the Houston Dating Index today than say a year ago.
However I can say I have enough anecdotal evidence
to definitely say there is a veritable legion
of Houston women currently
in despair of ever finding
One girl grinned at me
ruefully. "It's so bad out there I can't find
any frogs either."
Chapter Three - The Women's Movement, Blessing or Curse?
I was in Journalism school, one of my assignments was to write an
opinion article on the Woman's Movement. My personal
conclusion back then was the Women’s
Movement didn’t do us girls any favors
when it came to harmony between the sexes.
I still feel the same way.
Not that I disagree
with the main principles of the Women’s Movement.
While I was in
school, I had the time to give these issues a lot of thought.
I completely agree that women
should have the final say on reproductive rights.
We carry the babies. We do the suffering.
It is our lives and our bodies that are disrupted by pregnancy.
And who ever heard a man dying during childbirth? So who
are men to tell us what's right and what's wrong?
agree women should receive equal pay for equal work...
assuming we produce the same results of course. I like to
point out to my feminist friends that a male logger can probably cut
more trees per day than a female logger, so he should be paid more.
who is going to argue that sexual harassment, domestic
violence and sexual violence against women isn’t a major
problem? Of course men are
bigger, stronger and faster than women. Everyone knows
that. And of course men have used their superior power to
ravage and pillage women ever since the Stone Age. Just
because men have the brute strength to take us at will
doesn’t make it right. The whole idea of ‘civilization’ is
to teach us all how to live in harmony given our updated
vision of what is right and what is wrong. As man evolves,
his moral principles are elevated.
in values and principles are rarely graceful. More often
than not change is accompanied by violence. Witness
first the Civil War and
then the Civil Rights movement as
that change in our society
is often painful.
is no surprise that changing
attitudes about women are met with opposition.
Unfortunately not everyone agrees that women should be the
equals of men. There is something known as a “Woman’s
Place”. A woman’s place is in the home. A woman’s place is
in the kitchen. Real men don’t change diapers.
Real men don't make beds. Real men
watch football while women wash dishes.
'Honey, will you bring me beer?'
Movement, ‘Feminism’ if you prefer, strongly challenged
these ideas in the Seventies and threw our entire society
into a tizzy. Judging by the way the wind is blowing, now
that we are in the Eighties, it seems to me the dust still
So what does this
have to do with Dating in Houston? Quite a bit as it turns
out. No one is sure what the new rules are. No one is sure
who they are dealing with. Some of
the men I would meet were quite bitter about the social
changes. Their idea of womanhood clearly did not mesh
with the new ideas. From that point on, I remember
being cautious to feel a man's attitudes out upon first
meeting. Does this guy worship at the altar of Archie
Bunker or is he a bit more enlightened?
If so, how
The men are
equally confused. Dealing with women has never been easy
for men, but now they are less confident than ever. They
know how their fathers treated their mothers, but they have
a queasy feeling that today’s woman expects something
different, something better. If so, what? What does a
modern woman want from a man? I could write a book on
As far as my
Quest is concerned, let’s just say that at the moment
everyone is more confused than usual about the opposite
sex. That sums it up nicely. Given all the uncertainty, I
think it is the men who feel the most uneasy. Men have
always been a bit flat-footed dealing with women. Legend
has it that men don’t communicate as well as women and I
have seen nothing to dispel that rumor.
Given that men
don’t communicate well, given that most men are terrified of
women anyway, and given that the Women’s Movement has shown
images of countless angry, bitter women burning bras and
screaming venom about the violence
they have been subjected to, I think it safe
to say that men sometimes approach strange women in the same
fashion they might approach a porcupine.
Truthfully, all women really want is
to be treated with respect and to be treated fairly.
If we do the same work as a guy, why shouldn't we get paid
the same? It shocks women that some men have the nerve
to disagree with us on what should be cut and dry issues.
the Women's Movement forces women to tiptoe a strange
are trying to simultaneously stand up for their rights and
be feminine at the same time, whatever the heck that means.
Should we be defiant? Should we be submissive? Should we
keep our thoughts to ourselves? Do we have the right to
call men without losing our historic advantage of forcing
them to make the first move?
still have to let men beat us at cards, Scrabble, and ping
pong in order to keep their fragile egos intact?
Must we still pretend to be helpless and weak to make a man feel
strong? Or has the day arrived when
we can we bravely stand up and
shout ‘I am Woman, Hear Me Roar!’ without men
running in terror?
What is the right
way for a modern woman to behave?
Let’s face it, girls, we
are often just as confused as the men are.
or not, there is one thing most women still agree on. Most
of us want to be married and have children “someday”. Eons
of natural selection favoring the genes of women who are
good at reproduction have created an entire planet of women
ready and willing to give birth given the right opportunity.
Women’s Movement or no Women’s Movement, we all understand
that the drive to find a mate is programmed into our DNA.
At this moment in
time, the recent social upheavals seem to have caused a rift
in the larger scheme of male-female relationships. Every
woman I know is dismayed by this turn of events. My
generation was led to believe that our enhanced emotional
and economic independence would enlarge our capabilities for
loving and being loved. We were raised ready, willing, and
able to meet our future spouse. Now where is he?
Four - The Hunt Begins
spent my first week on the Quest talking to every woman who was
willing to share her opinions on men, Houston, and dating. Not
surprisingly, most women were more than happy to help. Finding
men and keeping them happy is a topic near and dear to every woman's
I asked a
beautiful, sophisticated 44 year old woman named Rita how things looked from her
perspective. This is what Rita had
“There are a lot of amusing, entertaining, attractive
men around, but most of them are not interested in
anything but a short-term relationship. There are good
fragments but very few whole men. Men younger than
35 at least have a prayer. They are lucky because they’ve
been bought up in a different era.
However the Boomer Boys are a mess.
Most of the men I
know between 35 and 50 are going through a delayed
adolescence. They act foolish, making up for lost
time. There is a whole
group of older men who have been so emasculated financially and
emotionally by divorce that they are virtually impotent.
These are men who
used to have money and now they have little. They used
to have a career full of promise ahead of them. Now
most of these guys are clinging to their jobs by a
thread and wondering about social security benefits. A
woman with her own money and career needs to watch
herself so that a man doesn’t latch onto her as a meal
I was depressed
by that appraisal. I went back to my stockbroker friend
Debbie for consolation. As I
hoped, since Debbie was about to be
married, she had a rosier look on things.
“I think Rita
occupies a far different life space than you and I.
Rita hangs around guys whose sun is setting. Naturally
she is going to get a different slant on things.
However I bet she is right that the under-35 crowd sees
women differently. The bottom line is
that the younger Houston men
are entrepreneurs who
impressed with women who are
go-getters, women who are
in business and can demonstrate equal
skill to what men can do.
In my opinion, most of the guys my
age are decent, kind human beings who care.
My peeve is with women who walk around with these huge
lists of what they expect in a man. I think too
many women think they know in the first 15 minutes who
is right for them and how isn’t.
think this is the wrong approach. You’ve got to
give a man room to grow. Many men behave
awkwardly at first because they think they need
to put on a big show to impress a woman.
they settle down in a relationship, they really
begin to blossom.”
with Debbie that women can
be picky and hasty at times. However, giving a man room to
grow is the least of most women’s worries. First
she has to find one!!
Frankie had another take on it. Frankie explained
her biggest mistake was graduating from college
without a wedding ring.
never knew what I had in college. Here I was
in Austin surrounded by
25,000 single men
and I was too young to understand they
would all disappear the moment I graduated.
Where the heck did they all go?”
So where have all
the young men gone indeed?
I decided in this
giant city a woman has to be enterprising about meeting the
men she’d like to get to know. What would happen if we
threw ourselves into finding a man with the same passion
that we previously pursued our education and jobs?
That night over
margaritas and shrimp enchiladas at Café Adobe, two
girlfriends and I discussed that exact topic. They
understood that I was paying on the condition that they took
my project seriously and would help with strategy.
To their credit, they allowed me to
guide the conversation all night long.
thing to bubble to the surface was our disgust that we were
in this position in the first place. Damn it, aren’t men
supposed to be looking for us? The
ancient rules dictate that the man makes the first move.
What the hell were we doing
here plotting out ways to find men? This was wrong.
Deep down, we
felt angry. We shouldn’t have to go out looking for men. We
agreed that we weren’t alone. Many women rebel at this
thought. And why not? I am pretty, I am kind, and I have
master’s degrees in English Lit, Art, and
Journalism. Why aren’t the men knocking down the doors for
Well, maybe they would
chase me if they knew I existed. But
they aren’t finding me and now I am
reduced to finding
Yes, it galls me
no end that I am doing the hunting. It makes me feel like a
tart on a heroic quest. But I am also a practical girl. I
have gotten into every college program I’ve ever applied to
through a combination of organization, enthusiasm, and
How can I use
these skills to find a man in Houston? What are the mating
rhythms of Houston?
Surely there are
more tricks to this than learning how to get in and out of
the car in the Texas heat and still managing to look cool in