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The Daily Newspapers Are The Last To Know
The Washington Post's Laura "Rumplestiltskin" Sessions Stepp wakes up from a coma and discovers "the wingman." Like, yesterday:

You know the wingman. He's the guy who accompanies his buddy to a bar to help him pick up babes. He does whatever it takes to give his friend some time alone with the girl of choice: telling flattering lies about him, enticing away the sidekick girlfriend, running interference at the approach of a rival male.

Yes, we do know the wingman. We've known about him for years (This blogger, for example, first heard of the wingman in 2003, and this guy wrote about him in 2002, and this guy, in 2001). But, I guess that's why "we" are not writing about relationships in The Washington Post -- and Amy Dickinson, Carolyn Hax, and Laura "Rumplestiltskin" Sessions Stepp are.

All these features editors sit around pulling their hair out about how to get "young people" to read their sections. Wondering why so many young people aren't -- when they're running these ladies above -- and bloggers like Susan Spano (conspicuously absent from the WSJ travel blogs article recommending La Coquette and The Paris Blog)...and columnists like this one: Cheryl Lavin, with "Tales From The Front." Yeah, from the front of the 50s.

Yet, Wednesday, an editor on the features editors' list-serve I subscribe to bragged that she was running Lavin. Serving, I guess, all those "young people" who are in their early 60s. Here's Lavin on short men and dating:

Dear Cheryl: I'm a man who's 5 feet 4 inches tall and 135 pounds, but I'm attracted only to big, tall women. I've been out with women 5-foot-10, 180 pounds.

Is there a reason for this do you think? Most women look at me strangely when I tell them I like tall, big women. Do I have a psychological problem?

-- Large in Spirit

Dear Large in Spirit: I don't think you have a problem; I think you have a preference. Some guys like blonds, some prefer redheads, others will date only brunets. The only problem, as I see it, is finding big, tall women who like short, thin men. But they're out there. You can spend a lot of time and money seeing a shrink, finding out why you prefer your women on the Amazon side, but the time and money would be better spent making yourself the best short guy you can be.

Oh, and here's my take on the subject. With actual substance included.

If somebody's a better columnist than I am, great, run 'em. If you're just afraid of getting angry letters from 3 little old ladies...well, maybe you should leave your job and give it to somebody who doesn't keep their balls in a little locket on their dresser at home.

Posted by aalkon at June 1, 2006 11:22 AM

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Comments

You gave much more sound advice than just the "keep on plugging" attitude. You actually gave him a strategy to increase his chances. Seems to me that the "tall and heavy" types really can't afford to be too particular anyway.

Who is that short NASCAR driver who is married to a taller supermodel? I saw them in Parade Magazine a few weeks ago. He's a looker, by the way. Solidly built, handsome face. Too bad he's straight.

Posted by: Patrick at June 1, 2006 7:14 AM

Wasn't there a Budweiser commercial that featured a wingman? I'm pretty sure that's where I first heard the term...

Posted by: Michael Heinz at June 1, 2006 10:04 AM

>>Wasn't there a Budweiser commercial that featured a wingman?

Yeah, I remember it too. It was Coors, though, not Bud. It's on YouTube: search for "Coors Wingman".

Posted by: Gary S. at June 1, 2006 10:32 AM

> Solidly built, handsome face.

Patrick, don't be gay.

> Wasn't there a Budweiser commercial
> that featured a wingman?

If true it must have been 1983 or so... Just before the Spuds Mackenzie years. This is DC we're talking about, where even the undergrads are middle-aged spirits. No one, no one, no one reads the WaPo to get laid.

Every now and then I scan Women Seeking Men on Craigslist. It's a stupid impulse, because even when it works out it doesn't seem to work out. But it's always remarkable how many women look for height in their partners. Being short, we (I) learn to sort of ignore it and plow through with daily life. It's weird to see it black and white. It's a parallel to the masculine fascination with beauty generally, or a nice rack. For women all those qualities get condensed into that one number. And they're not kidding.

Pinsky said once that men because men are more visual by nature, they're more likely to freak out when thinking of gays having sex, or old people, or their parents. What comes to mind is an IMAGE of an encounter with an imperfect partner. But women think of things in terms of feelings and emotional responses, so they're less uncomfortable. "Aw look, they're in love." And, fer Chrissake, women have already come to terms with naked men generally, which is just not a pretty concept. So anyway, height is the one exception to this.

Posted by: Crid at June 1, 2006 10:54 AM

As a 5'8" titan myself, its been my experience that only women between 5'5" and 5'8" themselves are totalitarian about their height requirements. Once a woman reaches the 5'9" mark, I've found that they are more self-conscious of their own unusual height, and thus less demanding that their date exceed 5'10". Also, taller women tend to enjoy being with a man confident enough to go out with a woman taller than them.

Posted by: snakeman99 at June 1, 2006 1:48 PM

The man writing to Lavin WASN'T asking for ways to improve his chances w/tall women, so why should she give him any? It seems like he has no problem getting these women to go out with him, he is just asking if his preference indicates a "psychological problem". The guy who wrote Amy was complaining that women didn't want to date him because he was too short. Two TOTALLY different situations. Lavin's answer was perfectly adequate for the question she got.

Posted by: Lisa at June 1, 2006 6:26 PM

She did him a disservice by not pointing out what I did. Because he likes tall women doesn't mean a thing. He's going to have an enormously hard time getting them if he doesn't project great confidence and/or have money. I put more effort into answers I dash off via email. Do you actually find her wise and entertaining? Or just too dull to get many complaints?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 1, 2006 11:59 PM

I've learned, by the way, that the question people ask is not always the right question. And PS, I'm not automatically opposed to the competition. Just the competition that sucks.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 2, 2006 12:00 AM

There was another great example of this phenomenon in my local newspaper today. Young people have been moving out of this area for years, and today's top story was "Missing: Generation X." Complete with urgent-looking extra-bold headline.

Posted by: Gary S. at June 4, 2006 8:39 PM

Where do you live, Gary? What's your daily paper?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 4, 2006 10:44 PM

Port St Lucie, Florida. Paper is the Stuart News.

Posted by: Gary S. at June 5, 2006 10:22 PM

The term wingman has existed well before 2001. Considering I used it in the mid-90s when I was in high school. Back then I was hardly with it and leading edge. Anyone that "discovered" the term as late as 2000 is behind the curve.

Posted by: Mo at June 6, 2006 12:44 AM

This is just what I found through a quick Google...just to show that it was pretty mainstream by 2000. Which is six years before 2006.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 6, 2006 6:21 AM

hi, i'd love to know what editor was bragging that she was running lavin, since i'm lavin. thanks, cheryl

Posted by: cheryl lavin at June 28, 2006 1:46 PM

hi, i'd love to know what editor was bragging that she was running lavin, since i'm lavin. thanks, cheryl lavin, tales from the front

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