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The new rules of 'engagement'
Victor Pisano
Pisano is a Ford Plantation resident and an occasional columnist for the Bryan County News.

I guess that you noticed that there was no mistletoe hanging at this year’s office Christmas party. There was a reason for this of course. The new manly fear of "persecution-due-to-sexual-harassment."

Men of everyday ilk are absolutely mortified right now as to what the rules of engagement are when it comes to confronting the opposite sex. It’s like dealing with a black widow spider – careful – be careful how you approach her. What you say and what you do or how you touch someone could mean sudden death. Was that handshake too long? Was that pat on her back too suggestive? Was that "quick hug" not quick enough? These are now all suspect and worrisome greetings for any man or aspiring news anchor who wants to keep his job.

We "normal" single men are suddenly thrown into an untenable position that puts a damper on what was understood as traditional flirtation. This new harassment scare has commandeered the American social scene accompanied by the sounds of fear and confusion made by men as to what is acceptable engagement with women.

Whatever happened to innocently flirting with the opposite sex? The "dance?" Try it now with the wrong woman or the wrong inflection and you could be fired, disbarred, castigated and set out to a sterilized pasture for the rest of your life without parole. You certainly won’t be reporting the news, running for political office, or making any new movies in Hollywood. All for misrepresenting a mistletoe?

Now, this is not to say that there has not been predation and egregious activity perpetrated by lecherous, opportunistic men in order to compromise women – there has been, and most of them have been properly called out and sent away. But the greyarea left behind as to male flirtations leaves a chasm the size of Alaska — and just about as frigid. It places traditional courtship squarely into the realm of a "non-contact sport."

Let’s face it, men are confused and scared to death right now – and should be.

Certainly, we all know that inappropriate advances or forced intentions against someone’s will is unacceptable and illegal. But, what about the well-intentioned? What about the flirtatious wink of an eye or a suggestive smile? Evidently, if aimed in the wrong direction or misinterpreted, it could cause serious personal ramifications careerwise for any man for the rest of his life.

So, what are the new rules of engagement? No one really knows, because there aren’t any.

This does not only hurt men who wish to flirt as a vernacular or as a precursor to courtship, but it also holds out a limp long stem rose in front of any women who may welcome the attention. How can a woman accept a man’s advances if the guy is scared to death about declaring his intentions about wanting to go after her as a woman? "Oh, the humanity!"

This is serious business, folks. It may be the end of male flirtations if something isn’t done about it. Are we to become a nation full of meek emasculated single men who fear even their own shadows? It’s bad enough that driverless cars and trucks will soon clog the highways. Do we envision driverless dates and driverless relationships as well? Try suggesting that she pick up the check on the first date – double dog dare you.

Think about it.

Men know one thing — we know "manuals." I propose that a bunch of us single guys come up with a new official manual called; "The Black Widow Handbook." ("How to make subtle advances to your ‘intended’ without ending up a gelding.")

It’s our only hope, I reckon.

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