THE DINING ROOM FLOOR-- Junior, Debbie Baskins usually looks forward to Friday nights, but last weekend
she put herself through more torture than she would ever wish upon her worst enemies.
Debbie Baskins waits patiently for the phone to ring.
She has lost herself in cheap wine from her parents' cellar. She later begins to hallucinate and becomes quite violent.
Debbie spent Friday at home, waiting for a call from a new male
friend, Reggie Waltrip--a call that never came.
Debbie met Reggie on Wednesday at the Lion's Club's monthly Picnic
They struck it off, or so she thought. They had a good time and at the end of the evening they exchanged phone numbers.
"He said 'I'll give you a call'," Debbie recalled later. "It
only seemed natural he'd call Friday, which is the weekend and two days after meeting. Those are the rules, at least in my
Debbie's book of dating and social rules is a 1986 hard-cover
edition of Robert's Rules of Order and Dating. She got it from her step-father on her 17th birthday, and treasures the precision
by which social engagement is controlled.
Anticipating the call on Friday, but not knowing exactly when,
Debbie spent the whole day at her apartment.
"I had laundry and groceries to do, but I didn't dare leave,"
she said. "I just didn't want that first call to be handled by the answering machine. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the
first call should be answered in person."
By 7pm Debbie was getting worried. "I kept thinking that maybe
I missed the call when I went to the bathroom," she said. "But that's silly because I have a cordless phone and I carried
it everywhere, and there were fresh batteries inside. I kept checking for messages. Finally I ended up watching "Caroline
in the City" reruns on TV and turning the dining room light on and off. I was so disappointed."
Debbie admits that she did have Reggie's phone number and that
she could have called him.
"I didn't want to do that though," she said. "That's breaching
the rules of Personal Precedent that gives the Right of First Call to the guys. I know it seems silly in this day and age,
and really I should feel comfortable calling the guy first, but I've found that, for whatever reason, when the book says to
let him call first, you're better off letting him call first."
"That's why I was so disappointed," Debbie continued. "He said
he would call. He should have called on Friday. Those are the rules. And now I wasted my entire Friday waiting for him. Why
didn't he have his act together?"
When Reggie did call it was on Sunday afternoon.
"I asked if she wanted to go see the ball game with me," said
Reggie. "I really enjoyed her company at the Picnic and thought the ball game would be a good activity to get to know
her better and see if maybe there might be some kind of spark between us. I was surprised at how cool and distant she was
on the phone. It was like we had just broken up or something--and we hadn't even had a date yet!"
"I asked her if something was wrong," continued Reggie, "and
she said she wasn't sure she wanted to see me again if I couldn't follow basic rules. I found that confusing. I don't know
why, but I took a chance and engaged the Procedure of Cautious Vulnerability, level 1.3 to 1.7, where I confessed that I liked
her, said I didn't know what I did but maybe there was some sort of miscommunication and finished with a Question of Access,
where I asked her if she could explain without prejudice."
"That's when she mentioned the 'two-day rule'," said Reggie.
"I had to stop her right there, because in my book it's a four-day rule, and the first date must skip the first weekend following
an exchange of phone numbers."
When Debbie heard about Reggie's four-day rule she suddenly realized
where the problem was. "I remembered one of my girlfriends telling me about guys and girls having different perceptions about
what to expect from the opposite sex," she said. "And so I asked Reggie what book he was using. Like a typical guy he had
cheaped out on a paperback Puffer edition. They're poorer quality and usually reprint some ancient text from the 1920s or
some other text where the copyright has expired. I read him the rules from my edition so he could see where I was coming from.
We had a good laugh after that."
"I'm glad we got that straightened out," said Reggie. "I can't
wait to settle down so I can throw that damn book away."