Feminism

Dating Advice from the 1980’s: “How to Read a Woman Like a Book”

Is your dating life awkward? Do you think women speak a different language than men? Do you still have that Member’s Only jacket and want to dust it off? Then get ready, because I have the perfect video from 1987 for you! (But only if you’re a man.)

This video is full of so much good advice, 80’s fashion, and bad acting, I just couldn’t stop watching it. And I learned a lot! Like, how to talk to women. Or how to be on time for a date. Or what exactly women are thinking when they look annoyed (spoiler alert: they’re annoyed).

It starts out with a woman showing her subtle moves. She asks, “What if I did this? Would you think that I was trying to ask you out? Or would you think that I was just ready to jump in your lap? Or HAVE YOUR BABIES??”

a woman, flipping her hair looking seductively into the camera saying "what if i did this"

And she ends with, “Well sweetie, you’ve got a lot to learn.” YES, MUCH TO LEARN ABOUT HUMAN FEEEMALES. (Note: my gifs are tiny because I had to make the file size small. So I hope you brought your magnifying glass.)

So begins our glorious journey through: How to Read a Woman Like a Book. (Wait no, it’s “How to Bread a Woman”… It’s a COOK BOOK! AHHH)

a man seducing a woman, with the text

Cue the cheesy 80’s synth pop song, made exclusively for this video. “I never thought I’d feel this way. I’d like to settle down and make someone a part of me somehooowwww.” Does it have a sax solo? Yes. It. Does.

The scene starts off in a bar, where a wispy man is talking about a woman he’s seen recently. “She was beautiful…. Sally Field smile. Cybil Shepherd legs.” (Did you catch those timely 80’s pop culture references?) He’s talking about her as if he’ll never see her again. (Spoiler alert: she’s in the bar!) This dude, Dave, is our main character, and he’s talking to the bartender, Michelle, who doesn’t seem to be very busy in her packed bar.

sad eyes of a man

Saaad maan eyes, they’re watching you, they see your eveeerry move (except they can’t discern the feelings of human females).

Dave asks Michelle if he’s a cute guy, and she says, oh yeah he’s definitely cute. Then she adds, “You seem ok! If I read somewhere that you were a Lebanese terrorist or a squirrel molester, I’d definitely be thrown for a loop!” Those are some oddly specific examples, Bartender Michelle. Anyway, the gist is, Dave doesn’t understand why women aren’t all over him, at this 80’s bar.

She adds, “Sometimes I think you need someone to walk up to you and scream in your ear, TAKE ME! I WANT YOU! I’M YOURS!”

a woman screaming "take me, I want you, I'm yours"

“What was that Jody? Two Bloody Marys and a White Wine Spritzer.” (Oh right, this is a bar, and I’m a bartender!) Michelle walks away to get her drinks, and Dave takes this time to put on his Martian antennae and study the human couples in the bar.

a man wearing a headband with antenna on it

 

Our first case study is a guy who talks way too much about how important he is and his marketing job is. “Marketing, meetings, things like that.” And in between words, he’s blatantly checking out other women, and then interrupts his date when she tries to talk. Finally, she hangs her head and sighs–do you think he understands her body language? Naaahhh. Women!

 

I gotta admit, this actor is really putting his heart into his character. I bet Leo DiCaprio watched this film in preparation for The Wolf of Wall Street.

a man talking and staring at other ladies in the bar

Next scene: two women are talking, and one of them is telling a great story about how she wore her best 80’s attire (note: I think 80’s fashion is pretty fucking rad too, so I like her style). She says, “OK you’re gonna love this story. I decided I’m going to get him back now, OK? So I borrowed my younger sister’s pants–TIGHT! SKIN TIGHT!–it was so funny! I put on blue nail polish, COMPLETELY punked out! Teased my hair, red lipstick, the whole thing! It was so tacky, I wish you were there. He pulls up, I get into the car, his face just DROPS.”

two women talking at a bar

Girlfriends talkin’ bout guys and stuff! Girlfriends Talk Show!

Out of nowhere, a guy walks up to one of the women and says, awkwardly, “I was wondering if you know might who sings this song?” And it works! She goes over to the jukebox (I feel like I need to link to source images for this article like some sort of Wikipedia entry–since I haven’t seen a jukebox in ages.) And her friend gives her this look as she walks away:

a woman who turns around with an incredulous look on her face

If you think she looks familiar, that is SUSIE ESSMAN! Whom you may recognize from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Last couple: I think the nerdy guy is supposed to be a lawyer who talks too much but he reminds me of Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), the overzealous insurance salesman from Ghostbusters. This guy says a lot of words like, “Heh heh you know what I’m sayin’??” Well, dude, I’m going to tell you straight up, this lady is not picking up what you’re putting down.

a woman is annoyed at how much a guy is talking

As Chandler Bing would say, could her body language BE any more clear?? (Sorry, I had to get in a 90’s reference, I’m in the future.)

So far in this film: women are magical beings who are able to understand nonverbal cues and emotions. Men are aliens who are studying the human race by torturing women through inane bar conversations. (Bartender knows everything, like Guinan almost; man is amazed that he missed obvious signals.)

Then he sees her–the woman of his dreams. Check out those shoulder pads! Ugh, and that Sally Field smile. And those Bette Davis eyeeessss. 

a woman sitting at a bar

But is she interested in him? She’s smiling in his direction. The bartender advises, “In a place like this, if a woman holds eye contact with you for more than a few seconds, it means she’s interested in you!”  (Note: the song playing from the beginning video is still playing, alternating between a sax solo and a couple singing, “Be the best that we can beeaaooewooeo!”)

Dave gets nervous–he doesn’t know what to say to her! Should he ask her if she’s a model? Or if she’s on TV? In these situations, it’s best to just start off with a simple “Hey.” And, put away your Martian headband. Probably.

Dave walks over and introduces himself, to Janice. He means to ask if she has a boyfriend, he instead asks her if she’s with someone who’s been in the bathroom for 40 minutes with diarrhea.

Once he finds out she’s single, he sits down and eats something from what appears to be a giant ashtray full of cigarettes. No wait, it’s french fries. Definitely weird-looking fries. That aren’t his.

eating cigarettes

Nice chess set at the bar by the way. It makes her look extra classy when she sits next to it.

——

Time to get real with some real women, giving advice to men on how to avoid having bad dates. First up: don’t be late for a date. “When you’re late for a date, you’re telling me something!” (If you’re late, she wonders, has he been in an accident? Did she give him the wrong directions? Is the road flooded? Maybe he’s scared. Or he doesn’t like her.) Also, don’t be early for a date. (If you’re early, she will wonder, are you too eager? Hard up?? “Am I your first date in THREE YEARS????”) Be exactly on time. But don’t look like you tried too hard. Just please, stick within these narrow guidelines and only then will you be seen as an admirable mate.

a woman talks about a bad date

 

The next woman says to dress nicely, but not TOO nicely. Don’t unbutton your shirt down to your navel, unless you’re from Vegas. Don’t wear things that are too nice or expensive. Dress with *her* in mind (whatever that means). Don’t wear leather pants to her grandmother’s.

——

Meanwhile, back at Cinderella’s castle… seriously though, check out that flouncy satin bath robe!

a woman sits on a bed and tries to decide what to wear

She’s thinking to herself, “I hope he’s not too clothes conscious!” And now the scene at Dave’s place:16 I hope he's not too clothes conscious

Is he drinking a beer, in his underwear, on top of a pile of newspaper? Man, this guy really knows how to party. I bet he’s got a whole case of Miller High Life too.

Finally, it’s date time! But oh no, he’s LATE!! And when he finally does show up, his clothes aren’t perfectly suited to hers!

“You look great!” “Thanks………………………………..”

a man and a woman standing around in a park, awkwardly

You might think there is internal dialogue going on right now but there isn’t. Except at the end where he smiles creepily and thinks “Gee isn’t that cute. I don’t remember her being that shy.”

Then she starts to think, “He’s cute even though he’s dressed like a slob” *looks at sneakers*

And his brain replies, “Oh she sees my shoes, she probably likes the athletic type. We’ve been together two minutes and I’m batting 1000!” (He now reminds me of Kip from Napoleon Dynamite)

LATER IN THE DATE: They’re getting along perfectly, walking whimsically around a fountain backdrop. Then she says, “I know it isn’t very 80’s of me but I could see myself as Scarlet O’Hara, wanting Rhett Butler to sweep me off my feet at the end of Gone with the Wind!

a man and a woman near a fountain

I’m not a horrible person but….

Hahahaaaaah! I can’t think of a better thing to say on an awkward date. “Hey, I know this is really weird, but do you remember that scene from that old racist movie, where the main dude rapes his wife, and even though it’s rape, she wakes up the next day and is totally into it?? That’s like, what I want to happen in my life.” (Also, people need to say “I know it isn’t very 80’s of me….” more often.)

And he replies, “Is that my cue?” Which is of course the most perfectly awkward thing to say ever, after what she just said.

She quickly moves away from him and says, “Haha well you might look like Rhett Butler but it took them an entire Civil War to get together….and like 9000 dead people… and even then it didn’t work out.” Ouch. Sorry dude, mixed signals.

AT THE END OF THE NIGHT: They’re in front of her house. He reaches for her and says, “Do you think–”

She interrupts, “Good night!” and then awkwardly laughs and runs off, slamming the door.

He thinks, “She hates me.” Hey! He’s finally learning to read body signals! I think?

——–

BACK TO REAL WOMAN TALK, FROM REAL WOMEN, FOR MEN:

“When I first met you, you made me so happy! And I would reach out to touch your hand. That touch was a special Thank You! Because you made me feel wanted! You made my day! It WASN’T because I wanted to explore your KING-SIZED AIR MATTRESS! So, look a little deeper! You can only know so much, from touch alone.”

a woman with brown hair

Valid points. Even though he blew up his air mattress for you, it’s not cool to assume consent from one touch.

Another woman has a message about dudes dealing with rejection. She went out with a guy who she found boring and didn’t want to date anymore, but she had to “let him down gently.” After telling him her schedule was booked, he kept calling and calling. She says, “Don’t make me clobber you with rejection. Listen to what’s beyond the words! There’s a lot more to what I’m really saying than what I’m saying!”

I feel like at this point is where (80’s) men go I DON’T UNDERSTAND WOMEN.

—-

BACK AT THE BAR: Dave is complaining to Michelle, as usual. (I bet, if this video was the length of a full-feature movie, Dave would find out that Janice isn’t actually the woman of his dreams, and in fact it’s been MICHELLE the whole time! The quirky, attractive bartender, who was right there in front of his face! Seriously, look at the looks she gives him.)

a woman looking sympathetic

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

He says, “I’ve been calling for two weeks and all I get is, leave a message at the sound of the beep! Sometimes I get a busy tone and two seconds later it’s the answering machine!” Ha, remember when answering machines had those tiny little cassette tapes in them? And you would have to rewind them to record over old messages? Anyway, Janice hasn’t returned his calls in 2 weeks. (I think she was being a little spiteful because he was 10 minutes late for their date. Oh, Janice!)

Michelle counters with, “Look at Roger. He’s no Robert Redford (ouch, Michelle), but every single night he walks over to a woman, and he makes his move! Two hours later, they walk out together. Watch him. The guy just goes over a woman and faces her directly, looks her in the eye, and starts talking! And he LISTENS to what they say–that’s very important.”

I feel like this is exactly a conversation an alien would say about observing human mating rituals. Look at how he faces the female! And looks her in the eye to establish dominance! And get this–he LISTENS when she talks, what a fucking concept! Next, he smells her glands to tell if she’s ovulating or not. (No, wait, too far.)

Meanwhile, another case study: Roger approaches a woman who is sad. (And we all know where this is going, in two hours.)

a man and a woman talking at a bar

He puts some money in the Jukebox and looks at her (making sure to face her body, with eye contact), “I usually don’t do this, but when I first saw you, I just HAD to play that song!” (A song plays, sounding like a classic Delilah slow jam with toy piano intro–awesome.)

And she responds, “That song is exactly how I’m feeling!” Whoa.

Back to Dave now. He looks crushed. But then, OH NO. His old date walks over and he immediately tries to shield his face and goes “I DON’T want to talk to her!”

Janice is trying to play it cool (or, trying to be a normal person) and walks over to him (facing his body, making eye contact), “Dave, Hi!”

Dave, quite rudely, says (out loud!), “Oh god… is she talking to me? Did she just say hello to me??”

a man looks annoyed at a woman

She can only sense motion, so if I don’t move, she can’t see me.

Bartender Michelle gives him a look and then tries to play it like off like they aren’t even best buddies. “Umm you two have been in here before haven’t you? Can I get you something?” She walks away to get them some wine.

Dave goes from being super annoyed at Janice, to holding her hand and apologizing (while facing her body).

man and woman at bar holding hands

He says, “I rushed things!”

She says, “No, it’s ancient history!”

And Dave says, “You’re so forgiving… I thought you wanted to be Scarlett O’Hara?”

“Well she didn’t end up with the guy in the end.” (Haha, yes, that is literally the only reason why someone wouldn’t want to be Scarlett O’Hara. I don’t know if it’s very 80’s of Janice to mention that she really needs a man, though.)

Cue the theme song. When the scene ends, Dave and Janice look like they’re about to make out. The film cuts to more real women giving real advice, on all the signals they give men, and how they’re ignored.

And then the credits rolled and I made a good effort to look up the actors on IMDB, without much success. Except for Susie-friggin-Essman! I wonder why this film isn’t listed on her film credits?

——

I hope you learned something today. When you talk to human females, make eye contact, and face them with your body. Listen to the words that are coming from their mouths. Don’t talk over them, especially about boring things like Marketing. Play them songs recommended by Delilah (maybe some Taylor Dayne? Atlantic Starr? Color Me Badd?). Be perfect, but not too perfect. But not too not perfect either. That’s it! Simple dating advice. I hope you’ve learned how To Serve Women.

Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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4 Comments

  1. September 4, 2015 at 11:52 am —

    Oh, speaking of mocking retro misogyny, Mike and the Bots did Outlaw of Gor once.

    • September 6, 2015 at 10:18 am —

      I so miss waking up on Saturday mornings and watching MST3k…

  2. September 8, 2015 at 9:20 am —

    I know this IS very 80’s of me, but I’m pretty sure I saw this, on TV, when it was new.

    I seem to remember trying very hard to memorize the advice the show was giving.

    In my defense, I would have been 14 at the time, and 14 year old boys really are like aliens from another planet. “Girls like you to listen to them? I need to remember that!”

    • September 8, 2015 at 8:23 pm —

      I mean, there is something to be said for being able to judge a person’s body language. Although to have to remind men that women like to be listened to…. haha. I guess that’s a product of the times. Plus the bad acting, omg.

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