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The Catch

On one of the many beautiful -- thanks to global warming -- winter mornings, I decided to take the bus to university. My intention was to attend a student assembly, gauge the political atmosphere, and estimate how long the sit-in would last -- the students were protesting against the modification of a constitutional article on the event of which the foundation of private universities would become legal. The bus left me outside the main entrance, and after climbing to the second floor and admiring the breathtaking view over Athens -- one can even see the ships at the port of Piraeus -- I drew the courage to approach the auditorium where the assembly was taking place. Entering during an assembly is no piece of cake: the windowless, poorly ventilated auditorium is packed with around 300 people more preoccupied with smoking and chatting than paying attention to the "democratic process." Speakers from various student parties alternate at the podium, each engaging in the same leftist tirade as in all their former appearances -- assembly sessions take place weekly during periods of "educational crises."

As a nonsmoker, I had a hard time tolerating the suffocating atmosphere and soon sought refuge outside the entrance of the auditorium. That way I could monitor the progress of the assembly without accumulating enough tar in my lungs to pave a highway. To my right stood an attractive girl wearing a superfluous amount of makeup. She was engaged in a stagnant conversation with the nondescript guy beside her. She turned to me and inquired about which party was currently addressing the assembly. Despite my ignorance, we approached each other and, joined a second later by the nondescript guy, started a rather lively conversation about the demise of the student assembly. The nondescript fellow eventually excused himself, and we were left alone. Inside the auditorium, Che Guevara wannabes roared about the "suppression of political liberties." We talked about our future plans and scientific interests and then, out of the blue, she asked me for my phone number.

My internal alarm went off. For a fraction of a second, I was overwhelmed with joy, which was immediately succeeded by suspiciousness. As I was reciting the digit sequence, I imagined a huge blinking billboard right in front of me with the message "What the heck is going on?" Did she feel attracted to me to the extent of bluntly approaching me? Or was there some kind of catch? Was I nothing but a mere instrument, used to engender jealous feelings in her boyfriend, who may have been in our vicinity during our conversation? Or did she just think I could be an invaluable consultant, helping her make curriculum-related decisions based on my substantial experience as a student?

Nevertheless, a few hours later, as I was mentally going through the "footage" of the encounter, it suddenly occurred to me that the message of the aforementioned billboard is not something to be taken for granted. Why should there be a catch? Why can't a blunt approach by a girl be considered normal? Why do the guys have to do all the work? And please don't get started with the whole social/evolutionary armchair science. I am fully aware of the saga about the males being the sturdy, bludgeon-carrying hunter-gatherers who, in primitive societies, had to be strong and protecting in contrast to the feeble females. This is the 21st Century! Things have to change. But they will only do so at an abominably slow pace for warm-blooded wus...er, dudes like me. That is unless drastic steps are taken that will require the participation of the planet's entire single male population ( sinister Dr. Evil laughter) .

The global conspiracy I propose resembles Aristophanes's comedy Lysistrata , only with the roles reversed. In my plan, men will simply cease approaching women with romantic intentions, depriving them of the attention that centuries of chivalry have made them take for granted. Confronted with the possibility of lifelong loneliness, single women will have no other option but to reprogram themselves and start making moves toward men on their own initiative.

One might object that some women already do that. It is true, but with my method, this will happen on a massive scale. When the new tendency has been established, men can gradually go back to their old practices, which will now be optional and not mandatory. In this way, humanity will be ushered into a new era of relationship dynamics, where both sexes will equally try to approach one another. What a detriment to Angel DeDavido, Mr. Geheimnis, and Jeffrey Ross! And poor guys like me won't have to wonder about "frauds" and "catches."


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