Here is another tale of romantic rejection from my youth in the interest of helping the youth of today navigate the treacherous shoals of Mormon dating. From this experience I derived advice that I gave to my young men when I was their youth leader, which advice today I characterize as the “Brad Pitt Rule.” That I can recount this tale today with such equanimity suggests that this happened long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Our story begins with an infamous seminary class camping trip to Nauvoo State Park. We kids all slept together in one big, coed tent. (I still laugh when I remember this, thinking how utterly shocked my current church leaders would be that our seminary teacher thought this was a good idea.) In fact, with all those kids sleeping in the same tent there really was no possibility of shenanigans. The most titillating thing that happened was when one girl publicly announced that she had to take her bra off. (Simply hearing the words “bra off” is sufficient to put a good Mormon teenage boy into a momentary seizure.) But of course she just slipped it off under her tshirt (so she could sleep comfortably), and that was that–we all just went to sleep.
Anyway, during that camping trip I spent a lot of time walking and talking with a girl I’ll call “Carla.” I was friends with her brothers, but had never really considered trying to date her. But she was certainly attractive and I liked her well enough.
Shortly after that, Carla and her family went on vacation to Florida. To my surprise, I received a letter from her while she was in Florida. It was two pages and rather personal in nature. No girl had ever sent me a letter from her family vacation before! I took this as a signal that she would welcome me asking her out for a date. So once she came home from vacation I called her and asked her out for the next Saturday.
She replied that she was committed to go with her girlfriends to the mall to shop for shoes that day. All well and good. But here is where my naivete and inexperience with dating proved my downfall: I actually believed her.
So early the next week I called again and asked her out (again) for the following Saturday. And again she had a prior commitment. This would be a better story if I could remember exactly what she said; it wasn’t “I have to wash my hair,” but it was just one level above that. It was a very lame excuse. And at that very moment I was enlightened and knew that she really didn’t want to go out with me, and was just trying to let me down softly.
So from this experience I derived what today I call the Brad Pitt Rule: When you ask a girl out, she’s only got one shot to assent. If she fails to assent upon the first request for any reason whatsoever, that’s it; never ask her out again.
I call this the Brad Pitt Rule, because imagine that, instead of a schlub like me, it was that particular woman’s dream man calling her. (I just use Brad Pitt because he is so widely perceived that way by women; if he’s not your cup of tea, just substitute Johnny Depp or whoever.) Now imagine that our friend Brad calls a girl to ask her for a date. Does she say that she is committed to go shoe shopping at the mall? Certainly not. Even if it is actually true, and she was planning on going shoe shopping at the mall with her girlfriends, what girl alive wouldn’t adjust her plans and say yes to Brad?
Now, what if she has a more legitimate excuse, such as that she is scheduled to work? A lot of women wouldn’t let that stop them, either, but let’s ignore that for now. What does a woman say when Brad calls and asks to take her out on Friday night? Does she just say “Oh, sorry, I have to work that night”? Certainly not. She would at the very least offer an alternative: “Oh, I’d love to, but I really have to work that night. But I’m free Saturday night, could we do it then?”
So, no matter how plausible the excuse she offers, if a girl doesn’t suggest an alternative, then she should only get one bite at the apple. If she fails to accept a date with you the first time you ask, never ask her again. She doesn’t want to go out with you. Even if it’s a legitimate excuse and she would be open to going out with you, if she has so little consideration for how daunting it is to call her and ask her out in the first place not to offer an alternative, then you don’t want to go out with her anyway.
This never would have happened to Brad Pitt.