In praise of 7s and 8s

My dad gives great advice.

He has a tendency to “sermonize,” as I call it, but those times when he gets straight to the point always end up being pure gold.

He also has an excellent sense of humor that few people have experienced in its purest form. When I would come home early from a date and he’d still be up, sitting in his red leather throne and watching Letterman, he thought it was funny to ask, with one eyebrow raised, “So what base did you get to?”

I knew better than to be embarrassed. It was never a serious question demanding a serious answer. The only reason he was even comfortable saying this aloud was that he assumed that I kept my hands to myself, which I did. Having two sisters gives you special insight into the damage done by sleazy guys with busy hands. Every girl is somebody’s sister or some dad’s baby girl.

I’ve dated more than my dad ever did, but he’s had more experiences with people.

If I remember correctly, he was standing at the kitchen sink, and I was sitting at the table. I must have gone through some minor break-up in the recent past that precipitated the following conversation:

“Austin,” he said, “Do you mind if I give you some advice?”

“No. Go ahead.”

“Okay. You’ve brought some pretty girls home over the years. In fact, most of them have been gorgeous—9s and 10s. The trouble is that you are disappointed time after time when they don’t seem to have much character or a very good sense of humor. They don’t treat you well, or they’re high maintenance, obsessed with their looks. You get your hopes up and you get let down. Don’t get me wrong: it’s important to be attracted to the woman you’re going to marry. By all means, date pretty girls, but all I want is for you to consider bringing home more 7s and 8s. I’d like to see more 7s and 8s around here. They’re the type of pretty you want to grow old with. 7s and 8s turn into 8s, 9s, and 10s the longer you know them.”

He had a point. I call it The Sunflower Principle, and I’ve written about it elsewhere.

Achtung, everyone: forget about 9s and 10s.

Remember that scene in A Beautiful Mind when Russell Crowe’s character, John Nash, realizes that if he and his friends all go after the hottest woman at the bar, then none of them will take her home, they’ll offend her friends in the process, and every one of them will still be alone? Nash has a revelation that he later applies to economics: if each one of them pursues one of her friends, they all have a much greater chance of success. In that fictional scenario, competition over the hottest woman guaranteed failure.

What he meant to say is that 9s and 10s are responsible for all the brokenness in the world.

Thank you, Dad, for good advice, even if you generalized.

Perhaps the world holds two or three women with perfect features and curvy, athletic figures who score a 10 out of 10 on the hotness chart and love Jesus (which is important to me) and like thought-provoking literature and films and eat sushi and nurture insatiable wanderlust and take good care of people and love kindness, compassion, and justice and want to recycle and support local businesses and ride bikes to work and eat organic foods and live within their means and don’t cake on the make-up and read poetry and refuse to answer their cell phones when in the middle of a conversation and aren’t afraid to go for days without showering. Maybe up to half a dozen of these women exist…

in the minds of sad saps who are afraid of commitment and believe that love is a feeling, not something we practice.

These are men whose fathers were playing golf and eating cheeseburgers on the day that they were supposed to tell their sons, “I’d like to see more 7s and 8s around here.”

Three cheers for 7s and 8s!

9s and 10s can have their big boobs and chiseled abs and eat a turd.

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