Tell A Guy He’s Wonderful—George Nader
When I finally marry and become the father of a daughter, I shall give her a dowry when she first starts dating. The dowry won’t cost me a penny and the chances are pretty good that it will enrich her entire life. What is it going to be? One remark. One simple, little remark— namely, “Aren’t you wonderful!”
This, believe me, is all any girl needs to catch a man—if she learns how to speak the remark properly. It gives the plainest girl (and these days, no girl is really “plain” unless she neglects to make the most of herself) a big edge, even over the town beauty. Because the trouble with the town beauty—in you own and in my town, too—is that she reverses the attitude and wants the man to say, “Aren’t you wonderful!” to her, every hour on the hour, like striking a gong.
The girl who is invited to a party where the femme fatale of her set is going to make a bid for the attention of every eligible male on the premises would do well to practice this bit of dialogue, as well as her own special method for delivering it. She might even supplement it with, “Tell me more,” and “How did you ever think of such a brilliant thing?” But however she does it, she should keep the conversation and the spotlight of her interest full focus on the man.
Also, when she listens, she listens actively, putting in just enough admiring questions to keep the conversation lively. That’s what makes her so interesting. Take this as male gospel! Nobody is more interesting to a man than the girl who makes a man seem interesting to her.
Do I hear you asking me, then, why that nice little girl next door hasn’t married? Well, for one thing, maybe she doesn’t want to. In these days of all kinds of exciting careers for women, there are a lot of them who honestly want to make their mark in the business or professional world before settling down to the job of marriage. But if a girl wants to get married and hasn’t succeeded, the chances are that relatives or friends have tried to promote a husband for her too openly.
I always feel embarrassed for the girl in this situation. We have all been present on occasions when this type of promotion has happened. For the man, who is usually innocent of even having flirted with the girl, it’s a rough moment. For the girl, to whom this may have happened several times previously, it must be positively mortifying! Of course, if that nice little girl next door lets a date know, somewhere between the roast beef and the salad, that her favorite piece of music is the wedding march from “Lohengrin,” there is only one thing a bachelor can do—act as if he were hard of hearing and escape as soon as possible.
We men are predatory; we love to hunt—and catch—our females. I am not claiming that it is either right or wrong. We simply are born predatory, just as the leopard is born with spots. That witty dramatist, G. B. Shaw, may be right when he says that actually woman pursues man, makes us fall in love, marries us. But if this is true, it works only when a woman is subtle enough to make us think we have done it all. The man who feels hunted will run. The man who feels he is the hunter will keep on pursuing.
In Hollywood, there are altogether too many times when a girl calls up an unmarried man and asks him over. When he arrives, expecting to find a group of friends, he finds they are all alone. The lights are low; the girl is dressed to kill.
Her topic of conversation is what a good cook and superb housekeeper she is. This maneuver is in the same class with persuading the mouse that the cheese in the trap is imported. Speaking personally, I don’t like to have a girl call me, unless it is an invitation to some sort of general assembly. For the intimate, téte-a-téte type of dates, I want to do the telephoning. That hunter instinct, you see. No man likes a maneuvered romance.
Ah, here is where the full horror of the “publicity romance” hits a Hollywood bachelor. The studio calls and asks you to take Miss Curvaceous Cupcake to the premiere of “Love’s Last Tumble.” You don’t now Curvy, but you certainly know who she is and what she looks like. This is a seldom understood factor of movie life: it is just impossible to have a blind date in Hollywood circles. You know what is going to hit your eyes; so does the girl. So, in a sense, you find yourself in an altogether different situation than on the usual kind of first date. If you have heard a lot about the girl, you wonder how much of it is true. If you have heard nothing, you wonder why not. It is never that familiar line, “You’ll have so much in common.” In places other than Hollywood, it is usually true that you will have. People gravitate to others with similar tastes, and the fact that a friend wants you to meet a friend means you must have some mutual likes and dislikes.
In Hollywood, however, with a “publicity romance,” the chances are that all you and the girl will have in common is that premiere. Nevertheless, you go along with it. It’s very likely that you call for your “date” in a limousine the studio has provided. If she or the premiere are considered important enough, the studio may even have sent her flowers in your name.
Then Miss Cupcake appears, and she is a real stunner. In any other town, you’d be bowled over by her, but in Hollywood you wonder if the dress she is wearing is her own (and therefore a proof of her excellent taste), or whether her studio sent it over with directions from its top stylist as to just what shoes and jewelry to wear with it. You know Miss Cupcake must be wondering the same thing about your dinner jacket. Thus, in this atmosphere of mutual suspicion and unease, you proceed to the premiere, where you are photographed looking at one another like Tristan and Isolde.
In case you think I’m exaggerating, let me tell you about what happened to a close friend of mine, who is also a bachelor. My friend’s studio requested that he attend a certain premiere with a certain most important girl. They had never met before, but just when they arrived at the theatre, she kissed him—with fervor—and the cameras popped. As they walked down the aisle inside the theatre, she kissed him again—with more fervor. Then, just before the lights went down on her picture—and it was her picture—she kissed him once more. The cameras caught it every time.
After the show, this genie with the light-brown hair suggested they do a tour of the Strip night clubs. My friend knew what this meant—as does any Hollywood man escorting an important Hollywood girl. It means more photographers, plus several columnists. But how can a man refuse without being brutal?
In this case, the man didn’t. Every place they went, the doll kept on giving generously of her affections, with her best profile always to the cameras. Some hours later, when my friend got back to his apartment, his phone was ringing. It was a columnist demanding an exclusive on the wedding date.
So that ended that, which was actually unfortunate. For this girl is a nice girl, really, and my friend is the type who could have liked her very much. Possibly, they could have fallen in love so completely they would have married, if it hadn’t all been so rushed—and if that old masculine recoil didn’t start acting, the moment my friend felt he was being hunted.
Almost the same thing happened to a prominent beauty who, needless to say, shall be nameless. She was divorced, and she had set her sights on a particular movie male, also unmarried. At first, he was flattered by her continual calling, her constant attentions, her obvious interest in him. But it became a little too obvious when she saw to it that he was invited to every function she attended and it was taken for granted he was to be her escort.
For some time, this man had also been dating a comparatively plain girl, who didn’t have anything to do with the picture business. When he finally realized what was happening with the beauty, he called the plain girl. Very shortly thereafter, they were married—and so far, they are living happily ever after. However, I do believe that he and our famous beauty could have worked out a great married life, also—if he hadn’t been so high-pressured.
This, of course, is a problem that men outside of Hollywood don’t encounter—the fact that you can’t date a girl twice without it being spotlighted. You can’t see her four times without being snowed under with questions—particularly if she is a movie star or starlet. Then your phone rings constantly and you find yourself murmuring, inadequately and inanely, that you are just good friends. You even come to believe it, yourself. Thus, something that might have turned out to be the finest emotion in life gets lost.
These same pressures can also be applied to any man, anywhere, by eager and well-intentioned friends and relatives of “the bride that might have been,” if they’d let her alone.
Whenever an experience such as the ones I’ve mentioned threatens to sour me on marriage, I go visit my friends, Pat and Gene White, as happy a couple as there can ever be. I went to school with both of them, and our attitudes toward one another have never changed. After observing Pat’s and Gene’s happiness with each other, I am again reassured about what I’m seeking.
Someday I’ll find it, too—I hope. And I hope I wind up as lucky as a writer friend who recently married, after quite a hunk of bachelorhood. He had always gone with the most fabulous beauties, but the girl he married was by no means in that category. By comparison, she had nothing—except that she had the face of love for him.
I knew him well enough to dare to ask him about that, and his answer made me envy him. “Now that I come to think of it,” he said, “I guess she isn’t so glamorous, at that. But you know something, George? She’s got so much warmth, so much heart and so much sweetness, that to tell you the truth, I never stopped to think whether she was a raving beauty or not.”
That’s love. That’s the kind of love I’m hunting. I’m hunting? Who isn’t—except those lucky enough to have already found it!
Meanwhile, I’m taking the Hollywood bachelor whirl in stride, and what man could ask for anything more, except more of more? I feel this way even when old acquaintances from school point out that, when I am bid to Miss Important Star’s dinner party, I am not being asked because of my non-existent continental charm, or my devastating wit, or even my importance as a star. These I-am-nothing-if-not-honest pals let me know that my main appeal lies in the fact that I am an unattached man in a town where there are barely enough of them to go around.
I agree. I know better than to try to compete with a Gable in the charm division or a Holden in the brain department. I am content to take up the slack. I am not at all offended if I get called at 6:45 for a black-tie party that begins that evening promptly at seven. When I arrive, chances are 99 out of 100 that I will be seated next to the only unknown girl in the room. Before the evening is over, some anxious do-gooder may even try to play Cupid, using me as the target. When the party finally ends, I will be asked to take an unescorted girl home, and she will not be the one who lives at the Beverly Hills Hotel. No, dear friends, this is Nader speaking, and the girl he escorts home in such situations is, inevitably, one who lives just outside of Santa Barbara or San Diego, miles away.
But, as I say, I like it. You learn things you don’t find in the history books. And if they ever get around to handing out degrees for this particular kind of knowledge, I want to put in my bid right now. Because already I have learned several things. I know, for example, that when I find myself seated well below the salt at Mrs. Very-Rich-and-Beautiful’s dinner, the girl next to me will turn out to be Mrs. Very-Rich-and-Beautiful’s unmarried relative. She’s the one all her relatives are beginning to worry about.
People might feel sorry for me at this point, but instead, they are actually seeing before them a very happy man. For what I have learned as an unattached Hollywood male is that Mrs. Very-Rich-and-Beautiful’s nice little cousin is actually the most interesting girl in the room, and I will have a better time than anyone at the party. Why? Because she has to be to get invited there at all.
Let’s get this straight. I do not mean to imply that at a party I knock myself out over the least attractive girl in the room. But one of the things I’ve learned, and learned well, is that symmetry of face and form does not necessarily make for sympathy of soul.
Another big edge that the girl who’s less than a ravishing beauty has over her more generously endowed sisters is that a lady beauty gets spoiled early. Early in life, affection starts coming to her as easily as it does to a kitten, and with no more effort on her part. Kittens, however, grow up to be cats, and cats are the most ungiving of animals. (I know, I’ve got two—real ones, that is.) So, too, is the lazy beauty ungiving. She demands your admiration. She demands that you be dazzled, enslaved, enthralled. At first you are; the second time around you are. But along about the third date, your male ego begins to get lonely. You get hungry for a word of praise, but you can’t get a word in edgewise. When she isn’t looking, you creep stealthily out by the nearest exit.
Then it’s time to dine with married friends for a few evenings until, eventually, you start out once more, feeling like Diogenes with his lamp, looking not for an honest man (though that’s nice, too), but for a girl—beautiful or plain, from humble circumstances or grand, all of which matters not. All that matters is that “she has the face of love for me.”
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 1956