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Be A Doll For A Guy—By Tony Curtis

Ask any guy. He may not regard himself as the flipping end in such fields as electronics, architecture, or the carburetion system of the Eldorado Cadillac, but he can tell you a little about women.

Like me. Except that I have an advantage. I’m lucky enough to get a lot of mail from moviegoing girls. After I’ve spent a few hours reading the letters, I have a fair idea of what gives with the lipstick sex, what sends them, what produces pain and what they dig the most. I’m told that my overall conclusion, reached after reading, is not new. People have been arriving at it for several years: Girls are interested in boys; boys are interested in girls, and love is sweeping the country.

Everybody is looking for Shangri-La, but the trouble is how do you find Shangri-La (better known as Love-Happiness)?

Here are my ideas: First thing for a girl to take into consideration is the fact that a woman’s needs and interests are more uniform than those of men. That fact toughens life a little, but it also presents a challenge to women. A man may be a mechanic or a doctor, an actor or an architect, and his whole life will need to be geared for success in his chosen field. The abilities, the character and personality traits that insure success for a mechanic might ruin the professional chances of a doctor, so variety must be the keynote of masculinity.

Nearly all women, though, are fundamentally alike in life drive. They want to marry, to run a home and to have children. For this reason, it is much simpler for a girl to find a satisfactory mate than it is for a man.

Here’s another item: A man is, and has to be, competitive. He always has a flock of things he wants to accomplish: He wants to travel, to investigate the world, to adventure, to make a success in his calling. This is borne out by the traditional family story of the son who goes off to make his fortune while his sister stays at home, looks after the parents, marries and has her own family.

Naturally, since a man is thrown on his own resources, his reaction must impel him to dominate a situation. Sometimes it turns out to be impossible for him to control all aspects of his life Some jobs don’t permit a guy to make his own decisions, so it is doubly important for him to have some authority in his home. This need causes a man to dislike a woman who is aggressive—or even seems to be. Who wants to come home from a fast round at the office or the plant and have to start striving to establish superiority all over again? A man’s nature forces him to seek a situation where his word means something.

This will explain customary male objection to highly intellectual girls. It’s fine for a girl to be intelligent if this quality is modified by dependency. A girl should be ready to defer to a man in an easy, casual sort of way, because frequently he has had much more experience and really knows what he is talking about. There are few things as discouraging to a fellow as the thought that every time he opens his mouth he s going to be cracked by a free-swinging brain.

To get down to cases, why don’t we talk about the beginning of a romance and the responsibilities of each party?

A man has to feel that he motivates everything. By his nature he isn’t comfortable unless he is convinced that he has the right and the ability to pick and choose for himself. A lot of girls make a fatal mistake in the beginning of what might be a real romance by suddenly usurping the man’s role. We’ll say that a girl is aware—she always is—that a boy is paying her some attention, so she decides to let nature and the telephone company triumph. She calls the boy before he has called her.


A smart girl lets the boy cue her. If he doesn’t call, she doesn’t pursue. She doesn’t put herself in the awkward position of giving the guy the idea that she considers his attention more important than her own dignity; she doesn’t mislead him about what he can expect from a friendship with her.

Boy-chasing is bad enough for a girl, but it is also bad for the fellow being chased. It gives him a false idea of the girl’s entire approach to dating. And, more important, it takes away the zest a boy feels in being the hunter. It’s a little like working in a soda fountain; a smart proprietor tells the new counterman that he can eat all the ice cream and drink all the malts he wants. Chances are that after a few days he won’t touch it. Too easy.

You can believe it that men object to unsubtle women, and about the least subtle move ever made in romance is that of the girl taking the initiative.

I’m going to get, right now, to the subtle moves a girl can make: Numbers one to ten: She can be attractive. Naturally every girl isn’t going to appeal to every guy, but the most popular girls I have known, those who appealed to the greatest number of men, were attractive, rather than downright au beautiful.

Attraction is made up of scrubbed cleanliness, a sort of unspoken but clearly self-respecting pride in being a girl, a genial personality and an attitude of comradeship and compatibleness (like a kid I know named Janet Leigh).

Too many really beautiful girls use beauty as a weapon, and that’s all wrong. When it is used flirtatiously, usually to hurt someone, the girl makes a mockery of a possession that was a happy accident of genes and chromosomes—and for which she can take absolutely no credit. If a girl realizes that her fancy packaging was strictly luck and works to make herself as attractive in the ways that an un-beautiful girl must develop, then you really have something. In romance, beauty that is used constructively is one of the big plus items and the right kind of beauty grows more beautiful all the time.

In the beginning relationship, a girl can be very unfair. There is a type of girl who encourages a man, any man, just because she likes to tour the town. She gives him the big eye, soft sigh routine and he builds up a Jack story out of all proportion to the real attitude of the girl When a man is attracted, his interest is nourished by very small words and deeds. He is vulnerable; he is easily duped.

A girl should be frank. She shouldn’t encourage a guy out of all relationship to the interest she really feels. Always a girl sets the tenor of the future possibility, so she has the obligation to be honest.

A good many girls, I’m led to believe from my spy reports, don’t make proper use of ready-made romantic accessories. For instance, few of them seem to take advantage of the seasons. We’ll say that it is a balmy spring night, air scented by early blooming flowers, moon shining, all that stuff; instead of going to the movies, a girl should suggest that she and the boy take a walk in the moonlight. Or if it’s a miserable night, cold and raining or snowing— depending upon your geography—instead of going to the party as planned, a girl would do herself plenty of good by having a big fire in the fireplace and inviting the boy to spend the evening in warmth and comfort.

Too many girls are interested in places rather than in people. A fellow senses this, but he doesn’t know what to do about it because once he has instigated a romance, it is up to a girl to maintain it and give it meaning.

One last dating idea: After a girl and a boy have gone together for some time and the boy finds that things aren’t really so right and decides that the romance should be ended, he shouldn’t be made to feel indebted or guilty. If there is anything a man hates it is a martyred woman with her brave little smile and a shining tear in her eye.

Many girls get the idea that once they have gone steady with a boy, he’s hers forever. (This notion has been fostered by novels which bring the old boy friend back on the scene after twenty years in Africa—still unmarried, still infatuated.) Of course, if the girl wants to make other arrangements, she expects the boy to be a good sport about it. Only if it is the boy who first loses interest is he labeled a 3-D square.

The other day I learned a new proverb. It’s Viennese: “A bachelor lives like a god and dies like a dog; a married man lives like a dog but dies like a god.”

Most American guys believe that a bachelor lives and dies like a dog, so they get married as soon as they can manage it financially. That brings up the fact that, in the early days of marriage, one thing needs to be established. In living arrangements, a man must set the pace because women are more adaptable than men and can accommodate themselves to a wider variety of living conditions. In case a man’s job takes the couple out of the girl’s familiar environment, out of her city, her state or even her country, she has to be ready to adjust to the new locale. Most girls do this very well, as the war days proved. Service wives by the million followed their men and set up a semblance of home in everything from resort motels to piano boxes.

However, pity the poor guy whose wife is forever harping about how nice she had it at home, or how much more interesting her old friends were, et cetera. Not only can this wear a man down emotionally, it can spoil his work and his chances for advancement.

For this reason it is up to the wife to get along with all the general surroundings of a home. If she has trouble with her neighbors, a husband is expected to back her up, an obligation that can be very uncomfortable. Many a man would like to borrow a lawn mower from the fellow next door if his wife hadn’t caused so much ruckus the time their dog came into the back yard.

In another department, the management of a married couple’s social life requires a wife to use her head. (I’ve had a lot of letters about this one.) Because men are so varied, a man should be allowed to determine the friends with whom the couple will spend free time. A group of girls seldom marry men who are compatible as a group, so that men’s night at the girls’ bridge club is likely to bring together a professional football player, a concert violinist, a butcher, a furniture dealer.

A wife can spend her afternoons with her girl friends; if she is wise she will reserve her evenings for her husband and his associates.

Here’s another mild blast. Some men speak more frankly than others. Conversation in a submarine, for instance, is slightly different from that usually heard around a dinner table, but now and then a slip-up is possible. At such times, the wise girl refrains from making a phony show of outraged virtue or putting on a haughty hat.

In the family financial department, most guys feel that the husband should have the controlling vote. He is the guy who has to go out and pop for it, so it should be up to him to decide what can be bought, when and at what price. A lot of girls (who have never worked) aren’t especially good at managing money, but it would be a fine idea if they would buy a book and learn.

The amount of the family budget, and its management, ought to be agreed upon by both partners, but the husband should be liberal enough so that his wife will have a little leeway. A woman certainly should be able to pick up a little something that she wants now and then, without having to report it and without feeling cramped and apologetic.

Also, here’s another mild complaint I have picked up from male mail: A girl should be careful about pushing for better things. The average man has ambition enough of his own to move along as fast as his abilities and opportunities will allow without feeling a spear at his back. 

Here is one last thing. Every once in a while some girl writes that her good old Joe doesn’t seem to pay much attention to her anymore—after five or ten years of marriage.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that when a man stops noticing his wife, there is likely to be a good cause. Probably he isn’t indifferent to all women; more likely the girl hasn’t bothered to keep him interested in her. And when I say “bothered,” that’s what I mean. It takes time, thought, tact and energy to operate a romantic marriage.

And, let’s face it, it is a girl’s job to give flavor to life. It’s up to her to keep romance alive. Why shouldn’t she, some evening, burn a little incense so that when her man comes home he sniffs, grins and says, “What is this? India or something?”

Why shouldn’t she wear a party dress for dinner some Tuesday night, cook a good dinner of her husband’s favorite dishes and burn candles at the table? The guy may crow about not having enough light to see what’s he’s eating, but inwardly he’ll get a kick out of this switch in routine.

Distill it, as outlined herewith, and what do you get? No magic amulet. Just my personal notion that the most important secret for a girl to remember is that it doesn’t really take much to make a man happy and to keep him that way. Just love, loyalty and a few loughs now and then.




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