The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

WORDS OF WISDOM: “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.”
Song of Songs, Chapter 4:1-2

The wise young man (or woman; there’s no point being sexist here) may read Holy Scripture for any number of good reasons. They may be seeking enlightenment and the meaning of life, or to understand the slow working out of the Lord’s will through history. They may want to learn how to best lead a righteous life or simply to find out that maybe boiling a goat in its mother’s milk isn't such a good idea after all. But I think I can say, without too much fear of contradiction, that the one thing our ardent young seeker is not likely to get from the Bible is really good advice about dating.

The quotation above is from The Song of Songs, which is the closest thing the Bible has to a sex advice column, and as you can probably tell, the young Israelite man about town who used any of these pickup lines got nowhere fast and spent an inordinate amount of time, energy, and money getting there. I mean, really, “…thy hair is as a flock of goats”? The young man who tells his girlfriend that her hair looks like a flock of goats is a young man who can count on going home alone and with black and blue marks on his shins, especially after she just dropped a week's pay getting her hair washed, cut, styled, and colored by that insufferably snotty gay guy down at the mall. She doesn’t need to hear you badmouthing her hair after she’s spent all that time and energy getting ready for this lousy date with your sorry self.

And then there’s that whole flock of sheep metaphor. Pardon me for saying so, but for absolutely lame pick up lines this is about as bad as what’s your sign and do you come here often? This may have worked with Israelite girls in the eighth century B.C.E., although the archaeological evidence is still out on that hypothesis. Frankly, I think it's unlikely, but whether or not it worked then it’s going to get you nowhere now. First, the whole Little Bo Peep thing is a con job from start to finish. Sheep, even shorn or not, are not, as some people would have you believe, big fluffy adorable white wool balls. Wool is not naturally white; wool is naturally whatever the color of the last thing the sheep was rolling around in, which is usually dirt, grass, and/or sheep flop. That’s right, sheep flop; sheep are not, as you might have guessed, the brightest bulbs in the barnyard; herds of sheep will come to a screeching halt at STOP WATCH OUT FOR CHILDREN signs to check what time it is. In addition to this, as sheep go a-romping and a-rollicking through hill and dale audtioning for parts in nursery rhymes they will, on occasion, slip on yesterday’s breakfast and not wash up afterwards. Sheep are real pigs at times.

And I'm sure that every father likes to hear that after five years of braces and a small fortune spent on the orthodontist you think his little princess’ smile looks just like a bunch of stinking farm animals with a buzz cut. There’s a dad who’ll put in a good word for you when you two have a long and stupid fight about what movie to see on Saturday night. Without him on your side it’ll be a year of chick flicks every weekend without fail, and not a car chase, light saber, or explosion anywhere in sight. And to rub it in, she’ll make you stay until the end of the credits so she can listen to the sappy theme song and check out who the gaffers on this epic were. And don’t forget to bring the Kleenex, smart guy.

“And each one shall bear twins, etc…” Forget it, bubba, life as a single man is over—you just asked her to marry you. Maybe that’s not what you said or even what you meant, but that’s what she heard, take my word for it. If you’re well along in this relationship you might want to try that goats in the hair line again; that will get her angrier than blue blazes, and with any degree of luck you’ll catch a break and she’ll forget all about the proposal you didn’t know you were making at the time.

Now, you may argue, but it’s in the Bible, it has to work, right? Not necessarily, as Gershwin put it. The problem with all of these lines is that Solomon wrote them. I don’t want to criticize Sol here; a man with three books in the Bible (Song of Songs, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, where he calls himself the Preacher, like the Clint Eastwood character in Pale Rider, except without the pistols) obviously doesn’t need my advice at all, and who knows, maybe in Sol’s day these lines actually worked. People talked differently back in the day, like hammy actors saying stuff that no real person would say in a month of Mondays, with a lot of thees and thous and all sorts of whatnot like smiting hips and thews. There’s a lot of smiting of hips and thews in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, but you couldn’t get away with that sort of thing nowadays, what with women’s liberation and low carbohydrate diets. If you tried smiting a thew in public now the cops would come and arrest you, and probably send you over to the local loony bin for before you could hurt yourself. So maybe in a world where everyone spent their time waiting for Cecil B. DeMille to do their close-up the bit about sheep might work, although it calls for one mighty big leap of the imagination, I think.

But if you ask me, and I know you didn’t, but here’s my opinion anyway: if it doesn’t work now it probably didn’t work then, either. Even eighth century B.C.E. girls knew that the writers were the low men on the totem pole, and my guess is that at the time blondes, dumb or otherwise, were pretty scarce in that neck of the woods. Maybe I’m being unduly cynical here, but my guess is the reason those lines worked for Solomon was because he was the king. Girls then and now will excuse a lame pick-up line if they know a guy’s got a lot more to offer than some limp wheeze about them having doves’ eyes. How else do you explain Donald Trump’s success with women? Solomon may have been the hot young writer of the time, churning out copy day and night with whatever type of quill pen hot young writers used then, but he didn’t land chicks because he was a sharp man with an proverb, not by a long shot. He got them because he was the king, and like the man says, it’s good to be king. That’s one real sweet gig, no two ways about it.


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