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Genius Guide to Jazz

Romance and the Modern Bachelor

By Published: August 16, 2005
I generally classify a companion as any non-human comrade such as pets, invisible friends (very popular among the regression-therapy set), favorite inanimate objects like teddy bears or Virginia hams, or the ghost of pioneering trombonist Jack Teagarden who just can't seem to stay out of my refrigerator. The companion serves as a silent sounding board, someone who listens without judgment. The companion is not to be underestimated in importance when it comes to romance, because there are times in a relationship when you just need to get things off your chest without worrying how they are going to take it. I can tell my parakeet anything, no matter how embarrassing or naughty, and he will simply cock his head to the side and assure me that I'm a pretty bird. There's a certain comfort in that.

Another group whose importance cannot be underestimated is the ex-girlfriend group. These are the women you've dated and remain friends with. This is the most brutally honest of the bunch, because they have seen parts of you that no one outside of a group of highly specialized medical professionals have seen. Ex-girlfriends are the group you go to when you want an unbiased appraisal of the state of your current relationship. Their job is to keep you honest, grounded in reality, and rightly penitent for all those times you screw up without realizing it. They provide the most useful insight, on the whole, and can usually be counted upon to remind you often that it could have worked out between the two of you if you weren't such a bastard.

It is the girlfriend group with which we are most concerned. The Modern Bachelor chooses a girlfriend with the same amount of consideration and discretion with which he would choose a CD-box set. Both must contain something new, something familiar, and something unusual but not too unusual. You wouldn't buy a Miles Davis box set just for a cut of him playing Embraceable You on the nose flute, nor would you date a girl just because she had a tattoo of Dexter Gordon on her butt.

Forget I said that.

Once the girlfriend has been chosen, it is now time for the romance part. And if it continues to take me longer and longer to get to the point of these articles, you'll have to read "Ask Ken" to find out what in the hell I'm going on about each month.

Be that as it may.

The Modern Bachelor is above such hackneyed romantic devices like flowers and a Whitman's Sampler. Yet, he must still appreciate the magic of traditional wine and candlelight. What is the difference between traditional and hackneyed? It's the difference between Frank Sinatra singing "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" and Kenny G playing it.

Adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

So now that we've chosen the right girl, and we have some general idea which direction we're heading, it is time to throw the romance machine into high gear (being careful to let off the clutch slowly, so it doesn't stall). This is where your Official Modern Bachelor Pad comes in. There is nothing more romantic than a quiet dinner for two, that you cooked yourself, lit by candlelight and set to the garment-loosening sounds of Coltrane's sax.

If you don't know how to cook, it is high time you learned. I'm not suggesting you enroll at Le Cordon Bleu, but the basic ability to prepare a decent meal is just one of the things that sets the Modern Bachelor apart from his take-out dependent heathen brothers. Buy a cookbook, watch a cooking show, and give it the old college try. Just remember the best rule of thumb: never try to cook anything you can't spell.

Keep in mind also that the meal should be something appropriate for a date. That means that messy "guy" foods, like babyback ribs and Buffalo chicken wings, are definitely out. Women have a different relationship with food than men do. We like foods that bring out the primal hunter in us, the visceral sense of conquest that comes from eating meat right off the bone. Women have complex and conflicting relationships with food. There are the things they eat in front of us, and the things they eat when they are alone or with other women. Weigh this in the balance when choosing the meal. Serve something light, and she will interpret this as meaning that you think she's fat. Serve something heavy, and she will be self-conscious about eating it in front of you. And if you try to be clever and serve what she really wants, like a half-gallon of Turtles ice cream and a German chocolate cake, you will end up sitting on the couch together in your bathrobes watching Sex in the City and painting each other's toenails. This is not the Modern Bachelor's idea of romantic.

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