When I was in my twenties and still dating, the quickest way a suitor could ruin things was by asking permission to kiss me. A request at once so innocuously sweet, so harmless and timid and proper, it practically begged for refusal.
What a man was supposed to do, what red-blooded American men have done for as long as there have been American movies to show them how, was to “just do it,” as Nike would have it. Take a risk. Prove himself worthy with a show of fearlessness a woman might just choose to reward. Only then would he discover whether he’d won the round or fallen flat, bloody but unbowed.
“Unwanted sexual advance” describes practically every date I’ve ever had with a man I wasn’t interested in. Dating in America has never been a “fair” sport, but it has long allowed each player to accept or reject the other, for any or no reason at all. An imperfect sorting system, where we fumble through a maze in search of our idiosyncratic prize, advancing in self-knowledge along the way.