Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend by Felicity Huffman and Patricia Wolff

If you're a guy, you probably view them with mingled lust and suspicion. Yeah, it's great to go to bed with one, but by your thinking, woman are all crazy, and who wants to pal around with that on a daily basis? But the problem isn't that girls are crazy- to your way of thinking, they all are, but that by shutting them out unless you are trolling for nookie, you miss out on the great experience of being a boyfriend.

Things like not having to use the same stupid pickup lines on women over and over- having something to do with a woman pretty much every week and not spending all your time on the pickup phase. And while having a girlfriend can sometimes be annoying, you may suddenly find yourself with a cleaner house, better clothing sense, and someone who will always be there for you when you need her, as long as you treat her well.

And that's where the rubber hits the road. Women have a different way of thinking from men, and this makes them seem crazy to the men who love and care for them. Weight and appearance mean much more to women than men and this is because of how they are judged and how women's sexuality is objectified in the media. Everywhere she goes, she sees images of impossibly beautiful woman wearing what is essentially a sheer drape over a trio of band-aids made out of fabric- things that real women could never wear, and she is convinced that she will never measure up when it comes to her body-weight for men is not so fraught with images from popular culture and the media. This is why the "Do I look fat" question trips up so many men. Women aren't asking it for a logical assessment- they want to be assured that they are still sexy and you still want them, no matter how much they insist otherwise. This is a good way to rack up Boyfriend points- assure her that she's still sexy to you and you still want her and you'll rack up the "You da man!" achievement.

In fact, the best thing about this book is how hilarious it is. I often found myself convulsed with laughter over the chapters, pictures, and advice given. The shortest chapter in the book is titled "When do I become a boyfriend and who decides?" The next page has only two words: She does. This made me laugh out loud in the middle of work (Which is where I found and picked up the book) and what got me started reading it.

Even though it's meant for men (or so it claims- given the cover, I can't really see many men going into a store and picking this one up, it just looks too girly unless you're a metrosexual. And it's too long for a lot of guys to bother with, as this book, while not usual hardcover size, is still a hefty chunk of reading at almost 300 pages. If a guy does pick it up, though, it does offer some really good advice on what and what not to say and do to support your girlfriend and what to say or not to say to make her want to stay with you and see you as a good guy.

I'm sort of "of two minds" about this book. It really does give guys some good advice about being in a relationship and how not to screw it up with the minefields many women tend to lay in the path of the men who love them without meaning to, but it's a pretty large book and the cover isn't very guy friendly. It's more like something a woman who loves a man (in any way, brotherly or otherwise) would give the man they love as a self-help book, and even then, some guys are not gonna want to read it. For women, it's a laugh riot sprinkled with "Oh, that's so true!" moments, but I wonder how many men are really going to pick up this book. Recommended.

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