From what I've seen and heard from my fellow eligible lady friends, good men aren't hard to find - it's nearly down-right impossible, especially when living among the hills and hollers of WV.
Now, I've written previous "pointer" columns in the past, trying to give all you good ol' boys some how-to's as to exactly how and how NOT to win and woo your heart's desire. Alas, though, it seems my sound, sage advice has gone unheeded.
With Valentine's Day right around the corner, it would seem that another round of helpful hints is in order. So, in an attempt to further the cause of Redneck Romances everywhere, I present the following tips and bits of handy advice to all you poor mate-less men out there lookin' for love.
1.) Leave the lousy pick-up lines for those long lonely nights at the Wander In, Wobble Out. No decent woman wants to hear how she's prettier than your new set of mud tires, or how her teeth look just as natural as Grandma's set that she keeps in the jar. If she knows you, she knows you're probably going to say something you'll regret later.
Less talk, less embarrassment, more chance she'll say "yes."
Get to the point and just ask her out. If you're too afraid to talk, write her a note. Use paper, not the local water tower, train trestle or overpass. It makes the "no" a little easier to take and costs less in fines, fees and bail money, too.
2.) Now, when dressing for that all-important first date, think "good impression." Get out your best jeans, not the ones with the grease stains and the Skoal ring, and definitely not the ones you were wearing when you skinned-out that 6 point last fall. No, go for the good ones that you wore to your sister's wedding, or the ones your Mama makes you wear to church on Sunday mornings.
Make sure the flannel shirt matches the ball cap, has no holes, all its buttons and both pockets are sewn on good and tight. As to your boots, shine them up real good. Nothing says "Love" like high gloss on the steel toes. Remember to shower, shave and smell good, too. Not so good that she can smell you before she opens the door, mind you, but just enough to hide the smell of the Gojo on your hands.
3.) When it comes to preparing your truck for the "big night," I have just a few practical pointers. Fill your OWN tank. Don't ask her to pump it, and for Heaven's sake, don't expect her to pay for it, either. Make sure you remove all of your last girlfriend's mementos, too. Take the pictures out of your wallet, off your dash, and don't forget the one in the glove box, as well.
Also, nothing will make your evening go sour quicker than the sight of Sally Ann's garter hanging from the rear-view. Don't forget, too, fellows, that no matter how much Ol' Blue pines for you when your gone, either leave him at home or be sure that he rides in the back. Your date may not appreciate his Milk Bone breath the same as you.
4.) Whatever you do, don't show up on her doorstep on Valentine's Day empty-handed. Don't show up with stuff you picked up at the Pak-N-Sak, though, either. Make sure the flowers are real, not fake. Make sure they didn't come from the graveyard or funeral home.
At least, if they do, take out the card that says "In Sympathy." Leaving it in is a sure-fire end to an otherwise promising evening. The chocolates should come in little boxes, not a bag or all in one great big bar, no matter how king-sized it might be. A box of Dots won't hit the spot on Valentine's Day.
5.) When you get to her house, remember your manners. Have Mama remind you of them before you leave to pick her up, if you can't recall what those are. Wipe your feet. Be polite. If she lives at home still, inquire after her Mama and Daddy's health. Make small talk about the weather or compliment her Daddy's gun collection. Assure them that their daughter will be in good, and good-mannered, hands. Help her on with her coat.
Open doors for her. Bring along a step stool for climbing up into your truck. If you don't have a step stool, give her a hand, not a boost. Try not to embarrass yourself by ogling as she comes into the room. Don't accept a beer from her brother or yell at the family dog.
Do not, under any circumstances, flirt with her sister, her Mama or any other female relative present in the house, regardless of how good Aunt Lurlene looks in her housecoat and slippers.
6.) When choosing a place or event for your date, keep her more feminine interests in mind. Gun shows, tattoo parlors, mud bogs, karaoke night and the bass boat show room are best left for later dates.
Tonight IS about romance, after all. A nice restaurant, a movie or some dancing after dinner are much better suited to your cause than Evinrudes or Elvis impersonators.
7.) Let's discuss dinner for a moment. When deciding on a suitable eatery, there are a few things to keep in mind. Food that must be eaten with your fingers should be kept to a minimum. The meal should be served on real plates and eaten with real silverware.
Finger foods should be kept to a minimum. The waitresses should be best known for their service, not their cleavage. Lastly, no big screen televisions of any kind, showing any sporting event, should be a fixture of the restaurant's decor. Candles and cloth napkins will, once again, go a long way to impressing your ladylove. Corn dogs and chili fires at the diner where your sister works will not.
8.) Lastly, a few pointers for how to end your evening on such a good note that you're sure to get a second date. First, walk her to the door. Don't drop her at the curb, and definitely do NOT hand her change for the restaurant pay phone and tell her to call her Daddy to come pick her up.
Now, whether or not to kiss her on the first date is up to you and your comfort level. If you do decide to take that all-important step, remember to remove your chaw first. No girl likes the surprising sting of chewing tobacco on the first kiss. (Whether or not to remove it in the future is completely at your discretion.)
Don't try and go too far, mind you. Just because Sally Ann let you get all the way to the garter on the first date does not mean that every girl will. Especially if Daddy is sitting up waiting.
Tell her you had a nice time. Tell her you'll call her tomorrow. Don't forget to actually call her, though. Even if you can only squeeze in a short call during commercials while watching the game on the big screen at the Wander In, Wobble Out, she'll still appreciate it. Once again, it's the little things that further the cause of true love more than the grand gestures.
Now, if I may take a moment to address the ladies. Remember gals, that we can't really expect too much of the fellows these days. Chivalry ain't dead, but it IS on life-support. So, here's a few tips for you on how to survive being romanced by a redneck.
If he does forget and brings you a box of Dots or a bag of mini candy bars, sharing them with him is certainly alright. After all, he DID make the effort, and that counts for a lot when dealing with the romantically-challenged.
If it slips his mind that flirting with Mama, sister Peggy or Aunt Lurlene just isn't done, or if the sauce on his steak starts to thin out from drooling over the waitress, a gentle reminder upside his head is certainly proper and appropriate.
Brushing up on your redneck reading material will go a long way to enhancing your dinner conversation, too. Field and Stream, Sports Illustrated, Bow Hunter and Gun Dog are all good choices, as would be a perusal through this month's edition of Truckin'.
Lastly, ladies, please keep in mind that under that flannel shirt and bandanna, there beats the heart of a valiant knight, albeit in rusty armor.