Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dismaying Story #29: ISI:Blogspot

Have you ever caused a scene? An interpersonal scene? Well, welcome to ISI:Blogspot. That's "Interpersonal Scene Investigation." The relevance will be clear in a moment.

A big thank you for today's question goes out to Lizza, who maintains a blog called I Am Woman, See Me Blog!.

My posts over the last few days have been in response to serious questions from readers with significant stresses in their lives. Today is a little different, more of a "what if" scenario. A few days ago Lizza posted the following:

I haven't been watching TV lately, but last night I did some catching up (if you can call enjoying a trifecta of CSI re-runs catching up). They were all good, but the CSI:New York episode I saw was particularly interesting.

It went something like this. There was a woman working as a hostess in an upscale restaurant. She'd get the calling cards that male guests would leave in the restaurant's card bowl. Then she'd call them up anonymously and start the conversation with the line "My cat is in your garden." Many of the guys were intrigued by her approach and several of them ended up having phone sex with her. She never told them who she was or where she got their numbers; she'd call them a number of times over a span of weeks until they became obsessed with those calls. She agrees to meet one of them for some nookie -- and is found dead shortly after.

Some of this sounds strange to me. I do understand that a guy who has anonymous phone sex for a period of time might want to take it a step further, to meet her personally and have honest to goodness, real sex with her. But what if when he meets her for the first time he sees that she's actually butt-ugly, or that she has halitosis, or that she bears a strong resemblance to a purple female dinosaur? Would the fantasy that he's built up in his head about her over the weeks be strong enough to override her faults -- would he still go ahead with the tryst?

The idea that men can get turned on by anonymous conversations (even if it's sex talk) with women about whom they know nothing seems strange to me too. If I answer the phone and some male stranger feeds me a line like "My cat is in your garden," I'd hang up pronto. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus indeed.

I think I'll go ask Andrew what he thinks about this aspect of the difference between men and women. He's kind of like the Gil Grissom of interpersonal relations.

Dear Lizza,

I don't think I've ever been compared to a TV star like that before. Hopefully I can live up to your apparent confidence.

I called the CSI:New York producer and you'll be happy to know he agreed with you. He had to acknowledge they dropped the ball with that particular show. An entire side to the investigation had not been addressed -- the interpersonal side. So I dipped into my operating budget and flew to New York. After all, no effort is too much when it comes to satisfying my Faithful Readers. The CSI cast members were most helpful, walking me through the crime scene and making it possible for me to reconstruct the interpersonal scene. By examining the spots where the hostess had been when she talked with those men, I was able to determine the angles she used and how her words impacted her targets. I also went back to the lab and mixed a few solutions to test the chemistry between them. I even interviewed a few of the survivors and, lo and behold, their psyches still bear telltale imprints from the verbal barbs she shot at them. It was all very illuminating.

Some parts of that situation sound strange to you? I have to tell you, Lizza, pretty much all of it sounds strange to me. What would possess a young woman to phone a series of strange men and try to initiate phone sex with them? Extreme loneliness? A streak of perversion where she got some sort of thrill from it? Or perhaps she had some more mundane motive, like wanting to put them in a position where she could blackmail them for money. Either way, I can't imagine that very many women would or could actually make those phone calls.

Your questions, though, have to do with the men. Let's start with the issue of whether a guy in full sexual conquest mode might go into emergency retreat if the girl turns out not to be attractive to him. First of all, I don't believe there is any such thing as an ugly girl. The perception of attractiveness is entirely a characteristic of the beholder (in this case the guy), not of the girl. I'm sure we all know people whom we personally do not find attractive, but they have a spouse so obviously someone else has a different perception. I believe everybody, and I mean literally everybody, is attractive to someone, usually a very large group of potential someones.

I know what you mean by your question, though. What is likely to happen when the guy arrives all charged up, only to meet someone to whom he is really, really not attracted? It is well known that willing sex partners are harder to come by for unattached men than they are for women, so I suspect some men would be undeterred. Others would find a (hopefully, but not necessarily, graceful) way to extricate themselves from the situation.

If you want to conduct an experiment to test my theory, simply drop by any bar about half an hour before closing time and have a look around. I bet you'll see a number of "experimental trials" underway, several of which are likely to end with two people hooking up who probably would not have found each other attractive a few hours (and several drinks) before.

I'm a little confused as to where you got your idea that guys might be attracted to purple dinosaurs. I polled several guys I know and less than thirty percent of them rated the image on the right as "hot." Maybe guys are a little different where you are from, in which case you should be extremely careful while you are out conducting that experiment.

Now, about the idea that guys might respond positively to an anonymous female caller. Personally, such a call would make the hair on the back of my neck stand up and I would be off the phone in short order. Is it conceivable, though, that the CSI writers were correct -- that some guys would continue with the call? I suspect so. Guys are typically the hunters, not the hunted, so speaking with an anonymous female caller is nowhere near as threatening as it would be if the genders were reversed. Some guys would likely be weirded out and call it quits when she steered the conversation toward phone sex. A few of the more adventuresome sorts, though, would undoubtedly hang in there for the entire experience. The bottom line: some Martians would talk to the brazen Venusian, while others would pay attention to their bizarre-meter and bail out.

I hope that helps Lizza! Thanks for thinking of me.

All the best,

Today is the last day to take part in this week's Ask the Faithful Readers question. I will post my favorite response tomorrow and a new question on Saturday.


  1. I had a good laugh over this one.

    I have had the opposite happen to me where a strange male tried to initiate phone sex. I immediately hung up the phone and I was NOT intrigued.

  2. "My cat is in your garden."
    Goes well with “Curiousity killed the cat”.
    I think some people do things they wouldn’;t do out of bordom or seeking a sense of adventure.
    What about the online services where you meet strangers and have sex with them.
    First you meet for coffee then when you think they are safe you head off to a secluded hotel or if you’re dumb enough the strangers place where no one knows you and if you’re lucky them you have sex.
    If you’re not.
    Well you are a CSI episode.
    I guess desperate people take desperate measures.
    I personally don’t subscibe to this, plus I have found it a resource for married people to cheat on their spouse.
    As for annonymous people seeking sex, its not only men.
    I get heeps of emails a month from women trying to start something with me and some requesting cyber sex sex.
    Pictures are supplied as bate.
    I don’t even know if it’s them of some picture they found on line.
    The world is changing with the internet and dating services popping up everywhere, we have to be awake and aware always.

    Have a nice day

  3. (This is Thee, Hannah! calling from her secular blog.)

    Okay, I really needed a good laugh today. I, too, would hang up in about 6.8 nanoseconds if I got a call like that. I also wouldn't be the one calling. Whoa.

  4. Laughing out loud, Andrew!

    Thank you very much for coming up with such an informed yet entertaining response to my question. I knew you would!

    Did the CSI producers try to draft you to become their ISI consultant? :-D

  5. Thanks again, Andrew!
    (still dying from laughing over here)

  6. interesting thesis you have...

    but i have to agree with you - some men would stay on the line and some would not

    just like some women would call and do such -- and some would not

    makes us all unique...

    not being a TV watcher myself, i wonder how they think up these episodes??

    and less than 30% would be interested in the purple that seems a bit high to me - grin!

  7. Dear Andrew,

    My 17 month old son must be a little confused, because he loves the picture of the purple dinosaur on the monitor!

    Nice ISI work you have conducted here.


  8. I cannot believe that anyone would follow up a sexual converstion with a stranger by actually meeting them. But, the world is becoming more curious by the minute. I do recall be a young, nubile mommie and receiving an obscene phone call. After he had made his initial obscene remark, I said, "I beg your pardon!" with all the dignity I could muster and --- darned if he didn't repeat it!

  9. Hey Andrew - Your wish is granted...Hola, Wendola is now a proud sponsor of "To Love, Honor and Dismay"

    Now...what have you got to say about bossy, perfectionistic, high achieving spouses who think they are always right...and are, indeed, always right. How do the rest of us stay sane when the person we're crazy about is a merciless perfectionist?

  10. This post reminded me of college. I remember how the phone used to ring randomly in the middle of the night with anonymous people looking to have "phone sex" or let you know your refrigerator was running. It all depended on the type of drunk they were.

    Thanks for recommending the site, it's a great read!:)

  11. Hmmmmmm... I'm starting to think that Andrew never did fly to New York...

  12. I would have hung up on her immediately, but I believe most men who were bored would hang in there for a little entertainment. I recieved an obscene call one time and it scared me so bad I was shaking....then I wondered if it was someone who knew me...and that really scared me! I am trying to link you Andrew, I just got a new template and am having some trouble getting links in...but I will get to it!

  13. I think we are all forgetting the bigger picture here... if someone calls and says "My cat is in your garden"... you simply need to tell them to get the stupid cat back in their own yard. Toxoplasmosis is nothing to laugh at.

    Nicely done Andrew.