Boys Don't Cry

At this rate, you'll end up childless and alone.

'Yeah. Fingers crossed. Hopefully.'

-Nick Hornby

The other night over drinks at a local sports bar (there's a phrase I never open with), a group of us were debating Deal Breakers.

A dealbreaker is that habit or trait or behavior you observe on a first date, and know from that moment on, there will be no second date.

(This is different from those occasions when you do something to ensure there won't be a next date. Like when one of the wingmen purposely forgets his wallet and begins every sentence with "buy a brother a beer?")

One guy, for example, admitted fankles are on his list.

Fankles are what happens when a girl's legs come to an abrupt conclusion at her feet, in the region where her ankles should be. It's a contraction of "fat" and "ankles," but the term more precisely refers to the lack of demarcation between calf and foot, as opposed to any excess weight.

I once had a professor with fankles. And one of my ex-es married a woman with fankles (it wasn't disclosed on the invite...still, everybody knew). Nice gal too. Indicating that it is possible to find happiness with a woman who doesn't have a trim proximal tarsal.

So while I thought the fankles exemption might be a tad shallow, I still felt comfortable bringing up my No Mustache rule.

That really opened the floodgates for a wide array of distastes and dislikes.

None of the women would put up with a man who ordered sissy drinks (banana daquiris and mimosas made the list-though no one could recall ever knowing a guy who'd even tasted one; this was more of a pre-emptive strike).

No one of either gender would cut any slack to the poor guy or girl who drinks White Zinfandel (more points subtracted if they abbreviate to "white zin").

Then I realized how poorly my own standards were holding up as everybody began to animatedly contribute to the conversation.


Everyone had an opinion. Opinions so vehement they bordered on violent. (One guy we know well feels free to characterize all women who smoke as "dirty whores." To put it in context, you could offer to set him up with a millionaire Baywatch babe who has a cool car...and if you let it slip that she's a smoker, his response will inevitably be, "Huh. Too bad she's a dirty whore.")

Uncharacteristically, I have no real opinion on the matter.

Smokes? Doesn't smoke? Who cares.

No shooting up. That's my rule. That's where I draw the line when it comes to filthy, life-threatening habits.

Another guy brought up "bad teeth" and got widespread assent from the table.

Not from me.

I can't draw the line there, I protested. That'd rule out Sam Shepard.

Not like he's planning to leave Jessica Lange for me...but I had to take a stand on principle.

Maybe I would, instead, amend my dealbreaker to a guy with "no teeth."

Though I've spent so much time dating guys 20 years my senior I may well have broken this rule and not realized it (it's probably true what they say: Fixodent and forget it.) I gave up on that age-group once they all hit the AARP. (At least in part because there's a difference between "lasts" all night and "takes" all night.)

My dealbreakers are minimal, and pretty well-known, since I write about them constantly.

Let's see, there's height...

And...That was pretty much all I could think of.

Then a guy at the table chimed in with "Cheese." And it's true I did break up with someone because he would clink glasses with people and say "Cheers" or something similarly cheesy. In public. Everybody hated that guy.

Another ex of mine is a real crybaby.

Always with the waterworks.

I can be as sympathetic as the next person, but I don't want to have to constantly tell my boyfriend "cowboy up," or "get ahold of yourself man!" Come on, we all knew REM was washed up when they started with all that crap about "everybody hurts." Yeahhhh, everybody does, but that doesn't mean we want to hear about it.

Just do what we do in my family when something incredibly frustrating or painful happens: tamp it down. Sure, all that repression has to go somewhere, and we keep half the cardiac teams in the state in business, but hey, it works for us.

So yeah, as one person at the table put it, I'm really only interested in a big guy... Or to be really picky: a big guy who has his own teeth.

He doesn't have to be a good dancer (men shouldn't dance; it's more embarrassing than having a credit card rejected).

He doesn't have to be a sensitive listener who wants to have all-night talks about all his dreams and everything he cares about. (There's a word for guys like that: chicks.)

He just has to be big. And if he has a mustache, he'll have to shave it.

At least I'm not as superficial as the guy who voiced strong opposition to women with the "Funky Toe" (which can't be shaved).

Prompting all the girls assembled to hoist our feet to the table for his review, to see if we possessed the dread appendage (defined as a second toe that's substantially longer than the Big Toe).

Fankles. Bad Teeth. Funky Toes. We might as well've been at a podiatrist's convention.

I mostly just kept my mouth shut and my shoes on.

But I try not to do either on a date. Definite dealbreakers.