ne of my duties as an editor of a reference book is to chronicle disasters that take place around the world. Many of these tragedies are caused by acts of nature that are impossible to predict or avoid ( tornadoes, mudslides, Anne Heche ) . In most cases, though, they are the result of stupid accidents that could have been prevented if people had bothered to learn from others' fatal mistakes. For example:
• Don't get on a ferry in Lake Victoria ( they always sink ) .
• Avoid the ritual stoning of Satan during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca ( or expect to be killed in a stampede ) .
• And never, ever, go into a fireworks factory in China. ( Kaboom! )
Considering my expertise in the field of international disasters, you'd think I'd be skilled at dodging the dating disasters that befall so many of my sisters. But judging from recent experience, it's clear that I'm as big of an idiot as the next gal. Since I've never been one to learn from my own mistakes, I offer lessons here in the hope that someone, somewhere, will benefit from them:
• Don't cut your own hair an hour before going on a first date. It won't look good. Birds will try to nest in it.
• If your date is a vegetarian, don't take her to Morton's. And don't tell her your joke about veal. She won't think it's funny.
• Don't throw a temper tantrum if your date refuses to address you as 'J-Lo.'
• During dinner conversation, don't stroke a steak knife while telling her about your past relationships.
• Do not make long pronouncements about love in Pig Latin, and then insist that you were speaking in French.
• When dinner is served, don't yell 'Opah!' and yank the tablecloth out from under the plates unless you've already practiced this trick several times at home.
• Don't try to hypnotize your date with your dessert fork.
• When she takes you home, it's OK to show her your sea monkeys. But do not call them individually by name. Simply refer to them collectively as 'the sea monkeys.' Otherwise, she might think you're 'odd.'
• Don't ask for a sample of her DNA so you can map her genome. She may misinterpret the request and think that you are ready for a long-term commitment.
• When she kisses you, don't burst into tears and run screaming out of the house.
• The next day, when she introduces you to her parents, don't make out with her mom. I don't care how drunk you are. Don't do it. You will always be pegged as the 'bad guy' in this situation. And the mom will always be the 'victim.' Ha!
• A few days later, after she serves you with a restraining order, don't call her repeatedly late at night and recite blank verse about the absurdity of love into her answering machine. Limericks would be more appropriate in this situation, although they might result in a stiffer prison sentence. I'll know for certain after my next hearing.
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