You Get What You Advertise For


Most of us have a particular look and behavior we project and don’t even know why? It just feels comfortable to us. But in reality, it’s often directly related to the friends, and more important, the partners we are seeking. In fact, it says less about you and more about whom you’re looking for.

Many of us don’t even know whom we’re wanting to hang out with or choose as a partner. So here’s a little test that might give you a clue in your pursuit:

Story: A man is beating his wife. She escapes from the house to run to the house of her lover. But she must cross the bridge over the river first where there is a maniac who is wanting to kill her. She manages to escape past him and runs to the house of her lover. The following morning, the lover kicks her out. So she runs to the house of her best friend. But the friend doesn’t want to get involved and turns her away. She realizes her only option then is to return home. So she goes to the boatman and asks him to take her back across the river. The boatman tells her this is how he makes his living and she must pay. She explains she has no money. The boatman says he is sorry but he cannot take her across. Resolved to her fate, she returns to cross the bridge and, in doing so, the maniac kills her. End of story.

There are six characters in this story: she, herself, the husband, the lover, the best friend, the boatman and the maniac. Out of the six, which one do you believe is most responsible for her death? Think a moment. I will give you the meaning of your answer later.

My first clue to ‘getting what we advertise for’ came after reading an article years ago on the current gay look. This was back when gays favored plaid shirts, heavy mustaches and tight jeans with the crotch bleached out. Yes, they actually scrubbed the crotch to lighten it and bring attention to their ‘baskets.’ The article went on to explain that the look was actually so that receptive partners could easily be identified in the general public. I found that interesting, the identification, in particular.

Is it okay to dress and behave a particular way to find our desired match? I don’t know why not. Years ago, I became acquaintances with a 6’7″ black drag queen in Greenwich Village at the clubs. I once asked her if she ever worried about the negative reaction she must have gotten from others. Her response was enlightening. She shot back with, “They don’t buy my chocolates.” I never forgot that. Too many of us worry constantly about the opinion of others when the only ones of real importance are the ones we are actually looking for. Of course, our appearance and behavior can sometimes have serious repercussions, especially in environments like family, educational institutions and the workplace. And that’s a factor best considered if we’re looking to be accepted, or at least not rock the boat there. But in our own social lives, we have complete freedom to be who we want to be. Imagine living in a country were stark conformity is not only favored but required. The masses of Mao’s former China come to mind or the broad populace of, say, a repressive country like North Korea. But there are areas in our own world just as conforming like it or not; any place where uniforms are required, for example: the military, certain public services such as police and, interestingly enough, the clergy. I was once told that the wearing of black for priests and nuns is an effort to eliminate any individuality, sexuality in particular. Everyone is one, the Church. Ever wonder why the pope always wears white? And don’t forget men’s suits in certain business environments like stuffy law firms or Wall Street banks. They’re equally conforming.

Here is the meaning of your answer to the earlier story. It may very well point to what you’re looking for in your friends or relationships:

  • She, herself represents fidelity.
  • The husband represents security.
  • The lover represents sex.
  • The best friend represents friendship.
  • The boatman represents money.

And here’s the kicker:

  • The maniac represents public opinion.

Your answer is what is most favored by you in the person or persons you’re looking for. Think about it. I can’t attest to the accuracy of this test, but all I know is every person I have given it to over the years has unanimously agreed with the meaning of their answer, at least after thinking it through. You may be the exception, but I doubt it.

The point is it’s nobody else’s business how you choose to dress or behave. What’s important is your right to be yourself whether it works for or against you. After all, we are all unique and wonderful!

For a truly provocative read, check out Saints and Dragons, Edward Snowden in His Own Words.