Today I counted how many times I have been to Poland in the past ten years: 12. Lucky 13 is coming soon, if I can keep myself from catching the Dread Germ beforehand. The tickets cost at least three times what they cost in March, so the idea of falling sick now really terrifies me.
Yesterday I was speaking to a friend from the days of my youth, and we talked about the different needs of Nice Catholic Boy Singles and Nice Catholic Girl Singles. My pal runs a house for young Catholic men to learn to cook, clean, and generally learn to live with people not their parents before they attempt to get married. It's a wonderful apostolate. There's daily prayer and (before the pandemic) occasional very well-attended parties.
Naturally I am a big fan of this house, but it struck me that Nice Catholic Girl Singles don't need to live together to prepare for marriage although it is (or should be) a fun thing to do. (I wasn't even officially living with some of my friends before one first one got married, but it felt like I was living there. Good times. Amazing parties with photos as evidence.)
No, what Nice Catholic Girl Singles need to do is learn to chill out.
My pal agreed with this enthusiastically. He thinks (and has for some time) that modern girls have their education and career plans worked out long before modern boys have, and what modern boys must do (besides learn to wash, cook and clean) is "step up to the plate."
Basically NCGs have to stop worrying so much and wait for NCBs to get their acts together. Clearly different NCBs do this at different times, of course. I think it has been some years since I have typed the words "It's just coffee", so it might be worthwhile to assure new NGG readers that when a NCB asks you out for coffee, it really is just for coffee. If you agree to have a coffee with an NCB, you have not verbally signed a contract to go out for dinner to, or to get pre-engaged, or to get married. You can go out for coffee with Joe or Mike once, and never say more than a polite "Hi" to him in passing for the rest of your life. It's allowed. It's okay.
That said, if you do have coffee with Joe or Mike, blurt out all your deepest, darkest secrets, and THEN never say more than "Hi" every after (or hide whenever you see him coming), that's not very nice. Having become chilled enough to accept coffee with Joe or Mike, you must advance to the next stage of chill, which is to talk only about fun, lighthearted topics at your first coffee. Incidentally, make a non-breakable appointment for an hour after your coffee, so you don't talk forever.
"But I am not a talker!" I hear you wail from behind your screen. "Talking too much is not my problem. It's not have anything to say that is the killer."
I feel your pain, but there is an easy way out of this: talking to Mr Coffee as if you were interviewing him for a newspaper. I did a fun interview last week, and I started off with "Where were you born and brought up and where did you go to university?"
I learned many interesting things just from those questions, and the conversation could have gone fruitfully in many different ways. However, I had an agenda, so "How did you get into politics?" was my next question. In Mr Coffee's case, if the "born/brought up/university" thread snaps, you could ask "How were you introduced to Tradition?" or whatever it is you know you have in common. Actually listen to the answers, of course, and notice whether or not he listens to your answers or, indeed, asks you any questions.
Long-time reader Tiny Therese mentioned frustration with men not making it clear if an appointment is a real date or "is hanging out". I'm feeling cynical today, so I would say that if he clearly took pains with his appearance, it's a date, and if he didn't, it's just hanging out. I would also say that if the appointment was his idea, it's a date (unless it becomes clear that he thinks it is a free psychotherapy session), but if you asked him, it is probably hanging out. One of the facts of life is that although customs change, human nature doesn't, so if you ask a guy out you will not know for a long time if he really likes you back, or if he just lazily enjoys female company. If a man wants to ask you out, he will ask you out.
My classic advice for coping with my ban on NCGs asking NCBs on dates is to throw parties to which you invite the NCBs you like best. As the hostess, you are expected to talk to all your guests, so you will be able to talk to the NCB you like best, just as if you were on a date, only in a much more relaxed way. Make sure he is not the last to leave.
Relaxed and happy is the best way to be if you are a NCG Single, which is a terribly hard saying, but I am telling you from experience that this is the zone to live in as much as possible if you wish to cease being Single.