Friday

PLOTZ STORY #3: Payback

PAYBACK

When she reached the age of 12, some of the prettier, more popular girls in Elizabeth McKennon’s eighth grade class began to pick on her for being too tall, too thick of body, too broad of nose, too flat, too needy, too brainy.

Convinced by this that she would never land a man, Elizabeth threw herself into the only thing in life that gave her genuine pleasure - chemistry. After graduating MIT with a PhD in molecular biology, she was offered a teaching fellowship at the Rockefeller Institute in the field of cancerous tumor eradication.

There, Dr. Chaim Resnick, a widower in his early 70s and a distinguished fellow in oncology, fell madly in love with Elizabeth and, despite the differences in their religion, age, and height – Chaim was not quite 5’ 2” – they married.

Several months later Cecile was born, a child who was the sublime combination of the very few good features of each of her parents, and, thus, when friends and family were shown photos of the much-photographed little girl, there were gasps of amazement at her beauty. Except for the fact that she literally saw Cecile come out of her own body, Elizabeth found herself wondering, in the manner of a suspicious father, if the child was actually hers.

This suspicion, mad as it was, only grew in Elizabeth as it became apparent that Cecile, year after year, was by far the most popular girl in her class. This is just the kind of girl who used to pick on me, Elizabeth often found herself thinking, even though it was obvious that Cecile was lovely and kind to all, the popular and unpopular alike.

Still, it was extremely difficult for Elizabeth to warm up to the child; and as a result, Cecile found herself futilely pursuing her mother, much in the way her mother had yearned for the popular girls of her youth.

PLOTZ: STRONGLY PLOTTED 9 SENTENCE SHORT STORIES: KUTZEN'S DOG BENJIE

When Kutzen read in the science section of The Times that in some cases owning a dog lowered the blood pressure and eased bouts of arrhythmia in those with heart problems, he insisted, despite his wife's misgivings that caring for the dog would fall solely into her lap, that they drive up to a breeder in upstate New York and pick out the spunky, cuddly chocolate toy male poodle that Kutzen had pictured in his mind.

Kutzen threw himself into caring for Benjie as he did few other things in his 74 year long life, getting up early and staying up late to walk it, shredding chicken and brewing gravy to give it its favorite meal. The rewards were great, for at those times when Kutzen felt himself slip into atrial fibrillation, he would place Benjie on his chest where it would curl up and fall asleep, as if it knew what was needed. Kutzen would fall asleep, too, and when he woke discover his heart had returned to normal sinus rhythm. Kutzen would have been convinced there was a special, almost magical, connection between him and Benjie but for the fact that when the Kutzens returned from the movies, the dog would fly toward Kutzen's wife, leaping at her and whimpering till she picked him up and cradled him. When she was through, Benjie would turn to Kutzen, offering a much more peremptory greeting, one you might give to a neighbor you didn't much want to get in conversation with.

Kutzen could have lived with this for years, even a decade, if the doctor hadn't explained to him that his heart condition had metamorphosed into what was now full blown congestive heart failure and he might want to get his affairs in order.

So when Kutzen returned from the cardiologists's office, he did what he always knew he would do in this situation, luring Benjie close and cradling his head in his hands, gently stroking the little dog's head as if washing a tennis ball or some other round object. Then, with a sick feeling in his stomach, Kutzen began applying pressure, steadily but with unmistakeable strength till Benjie began to thrash and yelp. It was harder than Kutzen had anticipated, for even at 7 pounds, the dog was strangely powerful and bit down fiercely on Kutzen's fingers, drawing copious amounts of blood, so badly did it want to stay alive. But Kutzen was resolute, his hands big and calloused and strong from golf; after a minute or two he actually felt the dog's skull give way in his hands.

He sat on the Bentwood rocker in the living room, Benjie on his lap, picturing the curiosity on Eileen's face as she came in through the front door, wondering why Benjie wasn't springing off his lap to greet her.
-------------------------------------
Yesterday this story was 18 sentences, double the number I'm aiming for. Today it's only 10, and all the better for it. But the goal is 9, and I'm going to work at it till I master the form. Send your short, short stories in as well, and if I like them, I'll publish them along with mine. They got to be good. e.

Tuesday

PLOTZ: STRONGLY PLOTTED 9 SENTENCE SHORT STORIES

From now on, each of my new blogs will be a strongly plotted 9 sentence short story. If you like and get the hang of the format, you may submit your own PLOTZ; and if I like it I will publish it right here on this blog. No payment, unless a film co. gets interested. Then we'll talk.

In PLOTZ stories, there will be no absurdly long run on sentences. The longest will be a two clause compound sentence. For example, "He loved baseball, and he hated golf" is okay - 2 clauses that can each serve as a separate sentence. But "He loved baseball, and he hated golf, and he was indifferent to bocce" is not okay. Though it's 3 clauses that can each serve as a separate sentence, and it's grammatically correct, and in many ways is a fine sentence, it's not acceptable in this format which only allows for 9 sentences. It's a cheat, a blatant attempt to stretch the rules. In short, 2 clauses good, 3 clauses bad. So the first story ever in this series is....

PLOTZ #1:

DRAPKIN'S SCRUB

Since her husband was at an orthopedist's convention in San Diego, she was spending Lobster Night stag at the table with the Crabbes, the Brighams, the Wilcoxes, the Harms, and the Drapkins. Sy Drapkin hadn't shaved in a week or so; and unlike the kids, whose dark stubble sometimes seemed sexy, Sy just looked like an aging, unkempt man. That the only Jew in the club could feel so comfortable in flouting the 88 year traditions of Pine Brook Preserve enraged her, nay, repulsed her, nay, he was repulsive to her. When they exchanged peremptory air kisses at the end of the evening, though she held him at arm's length, he managed to press his cheek to hers, his scruff startling her, scraping her.

When she lay in bed that night, the feeling was alive on her cheek, wiry, prickly, an irritatant. She fell asleep, but woke up a half hour later, sweating and restless. Not a soul was in the house, and she felt no discomfort walking up to the attic in her nightgown and fishing out the vibrator Tim had brought home on Valentine's Day, 1987, from The Sharper Image. Using it for the first time ever, and surprisingly without embarrassment or shame, she quite unexpectedly felt an urgent and intensifying rush of desire till her whole pubic area felt seized by what seemed like a cramp that spasmed and spasmed before it finally eased, leaving her drunk with a delicious fatigue. So this is what they call an orgasm, she mused, as she drifted off to sleep, thinking next time she saw Sy at one of those dinners at the club, she would grab him and dance with him cheek to cheek.



Sunday

THE MAN WHO SPEAKS THE SUBTEXT

Wow, he's so much handsomer than she is pretty. Maybe he has low self-esteem. Or married her because she has family money and knew he was going nowhere. Bet my wife is jealous. The fucking guy has some head of hair. It's not fair - my hair starting to thin in my twenties. Haven't had one good hair day since 1987. Dude's taller than me, too - a good 4 or 5 inches. But he works in human resources. How pathetic. So I make more money than he does. A hollow victory, but a victory nonetheless. Wonder if he has a bigger cock. My fucking wife can't take her eyes off the cock sucker. She's such a little whore. But then who isn't. It's all about looks, isn't it? Always has been, always will be. Beauty is only skin deep, my ass. I like the hostess, with her tight little butt. My wife hasn't had an ass like that since she was 12 years old. Fucking hostess - bringing in a chef to cook an authentic Basque meal, and us having to squeal with delight when the food tastes like shit and she's propping up her ego by showing us all what a big deal it is that her hulking, elephant-earred husband, whom I'm sure she can't stand fucking, has just made partner. I could puke.

Thursday

BOY WANTS MOM

Switching from Twitter to Blogger to give you a better handle on my Oedipus Complex Theory. Alright, here's the skinny. Infant boys get cuddled, swaddled, handled, kissed, crooned to by their mothers. Young as they are, the relationship is INTENSE. It doesn't take long, maybe just a few months, before baby boy wants to fuck his own mom. I know, I know, he's only 6 months old, how can he want to fuck anybody yet? I'll give it to you straight. He does. He's a male. He's got a penis. Even tiny ones are responsive. All that cuddling and powdering and diapering has its effect. In most cases males are wired to fuck females.

Listen, I don't want to spend any more time defending the theory. It exists. It's real. Go with it.

Okay, said little boy wants to fuck mother, powerful primal drive to. But - get this - in the midst of his oedipal passion it comes to him that she's already fucking somebody else. Dad. Big old fat hairy smelly Dad. Baby Boy's disturbed, hurt, pissed, enraged, out of his fucking mind. This big fat soft loving creature that was evincing in him the most powerful, loving, sensuous feelings was, behind his back, FUCKING HIS DAD! He'll never get over that.

So Baby Boy becomes the most dedicated man hater there is on earth. Suspicious. Angry. Paranoid. Watchful. Vengeful. He grows into a monster, competitive, damning, hostile, ready to chop off another male's head at the drop of a hat. You could hypothesize this is at root of all the troubles between nations, heads of state, armies, macho generals - hatred of the other guy who just might wanting to be fucking your girl.

It's probably why the males who are affected most by this brutal early life betrayal break through court orders to stay away from their estranged wives only to murder them. Even though it was her right, she fucked another guy.

Now to some, the big crack in this theory, no pun intended, is why doesn't Baby Girl harbor the same savage jealousy. 'Cause she's Baby Girl, lamebrain. She's not wired to fuck her mother. Thus, when her mother jettisons her to climb into the sack with Daddy, it doesn't have nearly the same snap of betrayal. Baby Girl never wanted to fuck big, soft, cuddly Mommy in the first place, so when it happens that Mom strays, Baby Girl doesn't give a shit. That's just Mommy being Mommy. Fucking some other guy. Girls do that.

Now she may want to fuck Daddy for all the reasons Baby Boy wants to fuck Mommy. But Daddy isn't the central figure in the baby's life. He's off at the side, occasionally showing up. But basically not the major person Baby Girl is imprinted by. He's off bowling, or tinkering with his car, quaffing brews with the guys. His role as parent just isn't as intense.

So there you have it, kids. If you're a boy, you're fucked 'cause you'll never quite trust your lady, always be looking over your shoulder, suspicious, untrusting, angry. After all, it happened to you once, at your most impressionable and vulnerable and weakest. You know in your bones, the bitch can always do it to you again. That's the power women have over men!

Friday

CONCLUSION PART TWO

Although you at times may feel that the world is peopled with millions of handsome, romantic men from whom women can take their pick, the fact is that women have all sorts of terrible trouble with terrible men. They don't call back. They borrow money and disappear. They're bisexual. They drink and take heroin. They sleep with a girl's best friend or roommate. They can't hold a job. They smoke, they're dirty, they're abusive and battering. If you don't believe me, read the papers.

You may not realize it, but just being a regular, employed Joe without a police record, a wife, or a substance abuse problem probably puts you among the top 20% of all eligible, desirable men in the country. Now when you add to this the fact that you shower everyday, have never been institutionalized, don't take anti-depressants and aren't seriously ill, you're looking better and better.

And so by declaring very openly and clearly that you're willing to be a trusted, respectable, loyal and safe friend for a woman may, ten days or two months from now have, after she's been stood up by some creep, great appeal to her. She'll remember you're dignified persistence, your classy manner, your manly stature and way of behaving. And you may be astonished at how this woman who so clearly told you she wanted to have nothing to do with you all of a sudden wants to be your friend.

Let me add, by the way, that even after the phone call in which you agreed to stop phoning her, you can occasionally get in touch with her by sending her a book you think she'll like, or a poster or card. Include a little note to the effect that you still think of her from time to time and hope all is well with her. If something good has happened in your life, you can mention that, too. "Things are going well with me. I've just been made a Vice-President here at the firm."

The Ironman is persistent. He doesn't get rattled by a rejection, or even a dozen of them. He knows that he's of great value and that sooner or later the woman he desires will recognize it, even if it takes her awhile. Reflecting his deep inner confidence, he stays in touch. Life turns...and he knows that before very long it often turns his way.

Make no mistake, becoming an Ironman isn't something you will accomplish overnight. Chances are you won't get there in a year, or five, perhaps even ten. But if you follow the plan in this book you will get there for sure. And your relations with women will improve steadily along the way.

Furthermore, your confidence and self-esteem will grow mightily, and your ability to control and dominate almost any situation will burgeon. Business, sports, relating to men as well as women — your Ironman behavior will suit you in all aspects of your life.

Always remember, the world responds to strong men.

I wish you great success.

Tuesday

CONCLUSION PART ONE

It's not always easy to be an Ironman. As we have just discussed at great length, men who are strong, quiet, brave, tough, and consistent in their relations with women dominate women.

As simple as this premise is, however, it is difficult to execute. It is not easy for most men to be brave, tough, strong, quiet, and consistent in their relations with women.

This is true in many aspects of our life. We know what to do intellectually. But actually going ahead and doing it can be daunting. We get lazy, or frightened, or confused. We lose our will and our way.

Everyone knows that if you stand up to a bully he invariably becomes putty in your hands. But how easy is it to stand up to a bully? Not very.

I had a high school football coach who taught me that it was far more effective and less painful to tackle a man by lowering your shoulder and driving it as hard and as fast as you could into his thighs than it was to throw yourself onto his back. But how many of us have the courage to run full-steam ahead into a pair of powerfully churning thighs? Not many.

In short, it's easy to understand the premise of the Ironman, but it's not so easy to become one.

And so I've written The Ironman with the hope that, one, it will inspire you; two, show you that despite the absurd sexual politics of our time that most great women still prefer to be dominated; and, three, to provide you with an actionable roadmap so that the journey to becoming an Ironman is not some insurmountable, amorphous undertaking, but rather a trip with crisp, clear directions that, if not easy to follow, are at least easy to understand and doable -- eminently doable.

Stay tuned for more on being an Ironman- why women are ultimately drawn to safe, dependable men, and what it takes to become be outstanding.

Friday

WHO'S AN IRONMAN...AND WHO'S NOT.

To help further your understanding of Ironmaness, I thought it might be fun to tell you who I think are Ironmen...and who are not. So without further ado, here is a list of celebrities who, at least in the way they come across through the media, are Ironmen. And then an equally long list of celebrities who are not Ironmen.

IRONMEN BAUXITE BOYS
Johnny Carson Jack Paar
Dave Letterman Edwin Muskie
Jim Abbot George Steinbrenner
Pete Sampras Andre Agassi
Snoop Dogg Marky Mark
Robert Palmer Phil Collins
Whitey Herzog Tommy La Sorda
Buck Showalter Pat Riley
Emmit Smith Deon Sanders
Nick Price Seve Ballesteros
Marcus Allen Buddy Ryan
Sandy Koufax Tom Seaver
Warren Buffett Donald Trump
Dan Reeves Mike Ditka
Marv Levy Lou Holtz
Colin Powell Pat Buchanan
Andrew Dice Clay Spike Lee
Danny Glover Mel Gibson
Phil Simms John Elway
Jimmy Breslin Rush Limbaugh
Mark Messier Wayne Gretzky
Mario Lemieux Mario Cuomo
Lynn Christie Carl Lewis

It's a lot of fun deciding who are Ironmen and who are, instead, dandies and crybabies and fops and showoffs. Sit around with some friends and make up a list of your own.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN IS AWARE OF THE WORLD AROUND HIM

We all of us tend to obsess about ourselves and our predicaments and our ambitions. It is human nature. 'When on earth am I going to get that raise?' T hope this cough isn't anything more serious.' 'How come Danny got promoted and I didn't?' T wonder if that new receptionist is going with anybody.'

There is a tendency for some of us to obsess so deeply we become consumed by it. We don't pay attention to the news. We can't concentrate enough to read a book. We don't even get out to the movies or a concert.

This is not the way of the Ironman. Iron, to me anyway, signifies strength. The strength to stand up to our predilection to obsess, to be only interested in ourselves. The strength to get beyond ourselves and to participate fully in the world around us.

An Ironman cares about the environment. He recycles and treads lightly on the earth. He cares about others and so gets involved in volunteer work, in charities, in alumnae associations.

An Ironman is a Big Brother, or coaches Little League, or works with inner city kids in sports leagues or reading programs. One, because he is a member of this planet and the human species and, thus, is committed to its overall well-being. And, two, because he knows it makes him infinitely more interesting and appealing to others. They appreciate and are drawn to his high standard of behavior, his strength not only to find time to take care of himself, but to take an interest in the world and people around him. The Ironman is an admirable man.

Friday

THE IRONMAN IS INDEPENDENT AND WORLDLY

I've always been fascinated by the way women respond to pursuits that have typically fascinated men. I love golf. I could play thirty- six holes seven days a week and still want to play more. I love golf clubs and golf balls and golf courses and pro shops and tees and greens and books on golf. When I'm playing golf I don't have a trouble in the world, even when I'm hacking the ball from woods to sand trap to water hazard. I'm happy on a golf course and you'd think the woman in my life would be happy for me and not want to fuck it up in any way.

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. She somehow resents it, begrudging me the time I spend away from her at the links and, although she'd never admit it, the fact that I have something I love so much in my life and she doesn't.

So how has she responded to this envy? She's taken the game up herself. As have the girlfriends and wives of about fifty million other guys I know. Not only that, it doesn't seem enough for women actually to be playing the game, they want to play with their men.

Which somehow takes a game I love with all my heart and makes it about as enjoyable as, say, an evening at a fairly good movie. Not a disaster, mind you, but nowhere near the sheer pleasure golf can be when you're playing in the foursome you've been playing in for ten years now betting twenty dollars seven ways, with ten dollars for birdies and five dollars for sandies and greenies.

Of course, now that so many women have taken up the game, they claim to love it, just as men do. But how many women do you see getting up at three a.m. to get on line for a tee off time, or driving over a hundred miles because they've heard of a great new course downstate, or playing in the winter with thermal underwear on?

The truth is, the overwhelming majority of women who have taken up golf have done so to pursue men, to be near men, to do a man thing. Women are endlessly fascinated by and drawn to men who have passions separate and apart from them. They attend major league baseball games, cheerlead at football games, have learned to like hard rock and rap. And I submit not out of a natural attraction to these things but primarily because men are so interested in them.

The converse is not true. Men do not seem particularly drawn to shopping, knitting, dance, aerobics, cooking, etc. When they do get involved with these things, more often than not it's because their woman is putting pressure on them to do so.

My point is this: one of the significant differences between men and women is that women are curious about, envious of, and drawn to men's passions, while the reverse is dramatically less true. If you have traditional passions in your life ~ sports, woodworking, cars, hiking, mountain climbing — or less buff ones like gardening, painting, singing, traveling - stick with 'em. Indulge yourself in them.

Not only will they make your life more pleasureable, healthier, and fuller, they will make you more interesting to others, particularly to women. 'How can he be more interested in wacking a stupid little white ball around than in spending time with me?' a woman will wonder.

To some extent we are all drawn to those who seem more interested in other things than they are in us. It demonstrates an independence and a worldliness that makes one more worthwhile and attractive. Which is precisely why the Ironman makes sure not to skimp on his avocations but to indulge himself in them.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN HAS MANY THINGS HE LOVES TO DO THAT HAVE LITTLE TO DO WITH WOMEN

Do you love red wines ~ not just to drink but knowing where they come from, what kind of grapes they're vinted from, which ones to drink with what foods? Do you love the colors of the bottles they come in, the look of their labels, their very names ~ merlot, bordeaux, burgundy — and their makers — Mondavi, Rothchild, Chateau Neuf du Pape?

That's a good sign. Or do you love fishing and all the things that go with it — the different strengths of the lines, the variety of sinkers and lures, spotting a brook along a country road and just knowing in your heart that trout are darting through it?

An Ironman has passions in his life other than women. If he didn't, he'd be a Casanova, a Don Juan, a Lothario...and that's a different type altogether.

Maybe there's a book in it. The Latin Lover. Maybe I'll write it one day. How to devote every single moment in your life toward the seduction of women. But in truth my personal prejudice is with the Iron Man, the strong, silent type, the man of integrity and character, Lou Gehrig, The Duke (whom I spent a lot of time working with back in the late 70's and I'll tell you about one day), Walter Payton, Cal Ripken.

The difference is, while the Don Juan type pursues women, is continuously wooing and courting and serenading them, the Ironman is a character of such confident appeal that women are drawn to him. He does not fall all over himself chasing them.

You see, I believe women, in their hearts, are more drawn to a man who does not seem to need them all that much than to one whose whole life seems to be a study in their very gender.

Friday

THE IRONMAN HAS PURSUITS AND HOBBIES

If you determine that you're spending too much time, too many nights hanging out with the guys, find some alternative pursuits. They don't have to be overly intellectual or boring. In fact, they should be things that have always interested you but inertia or a sense that it was not the "thing to do" have kept you from pursuing.

For example, if you'd like to have more money and have always been vaguely interested in the stock market, take a course in investing. A lot of the bigger brokerage houses like Paine Webber and Merrill
Lynch offer them for free.

I have a friend who's always been a pretty good amateur electrician. Other than what he'd learned in science class in high school, he'd never had any real education in the field. Nevertheless, he's always had a "feel" for it, being the one guy in our crowd who could hook up your VCR or attach an extra set of speakers to your stereo.

Anyway, about two years ago he got a cataglogue of adult education courses from the local high school and decided to take a course in basic electricity. From the first minute he was hooked. He'd never realized it before, but he had a natural predilection for things mechanical, electrical, automotive. He did so well in his course, in fact, and enjoyed it so much that he took advantage of his company's policy in splitting higher education costs with employees and enrolled in a part-time Masters program at a local college in civil engineering.

His boss was almost as excited about it as my friend was himself and helped him over the ensuing year to switch from sales, where my friend was doing okay, to research, where in a matter of months he began truly to distinguish himself.

'Now what,' you might ask, 'does this have to do with excelling with women?' Almost everything. My friend went from being a sort of aimless guy who hung out with the gang seven nights a week at Stanley's Bar to someone who traveled for his company, went to engineering conferences in Europe, loved his job, and participated dramatically more fully in life. He began making considerably more money, got a better car, apartment, and clothes. And he approached life with a far, far greater sense of optimism and possibility.

And, of course, this was reflected in how he looked, talked, carried himself and, most important to our subject, related to women. Before long they were viewing him in a whole different light. Instead of one of the tired old regulars down at Stanley's, he was a man who stood out. A man on the way up. A man who carried himself with a growing sense of confidence and accomplishment. A man who in a very practical way no longer had much time for Stanley's.

Today, five years after my friend took the first small step by taking a course one night a week at the local high school, he's a vice- president at his firm and engaged to an extremely pretty and bright chemical engineer whom he met at a conference in Europe.

Let me conclude by saying I know how difficult it is to take that first step, to overcome inertia, to break away from the pack which can be so comfortable and seductive. That is why I recommend doing something formal like taking a course or buying a subscription to a local theatre company. This way you're obligated to spend time away from the pack. Or volunteer to feed the homeless at a shelter or read to ill children at a nearby hospital.

And if you enjoy this and are meeting new people and discovering new dimensions to your personality, program something for a second and a third night a week. You'll be astonished at how much pleasure and energy you'll derive from breaking free from a tired and stultifying routine. You'll find your confidence growing and your ability to talk about things other than who's the reigning darts champion at Stanley's a source of real strength.

And don't worry about what the pack is thinking back at Stanley's. Of course, they'll be jealous. My eldest son and I discuss this phenomenon all the time — the pack calling you back. It takes guts to break away and decide, T don't give a damn what they're saying behind my back.' But, hey, that's no problem for you. You made the decision to buy this book. You're on your way to becoming an Ironman.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN HAS GOOD FRIENDS, BUT HE DOESN'T TRAVEL IN A PACK

Have you ever seen a bunch of guys in a bar or at the beach carrying on obnoxiously? There's a group bravery about them that you sense would disappear in an instant if each guy was alone. A lot of guys, it seems, feel pretty insignificant of they're not somehow hooked into a group personality. Without it they feel small and of little value.

To a decent woman, there's something pathetic about a man who doesn't really seem to exist without his pack of friends. She senses he probably won't be much of a success in his career because he's clearly not a leader. She wonders what kind of a husband he’ll make. Will he find it awkward and inhibiting having dinner alone with his wife...or spending a week driving through New England on vacation, just the two of them trapped together in a car? Will he always be wondering what the guys are doing, missing being with them at the bar, at the softball game, at the pool hall?

Think about your own behavior. How much time each week do you spend with "the guys"? I'm not suggesting you give up your Sunday morning football game or Thursday night out with the guys. But if you spend every single night with the guys and much of every weekend, then it's time to explore whether you're living your life to the fullest.

The Ironman is accomplished. He knows another language. Or even if it's not his career, he knows a great deal about electricity. Or blues bands. Or minor league baseball. He has interests other than hanging out with the guys, and, frankly, other than dating and getting laid. It's a sign of his versatility and a sign of his independence. or, rather, his lack of dependence on other people.

Friday

THE IRONMAN CHOOSES CAREFULLY

Identify one or a few great women you're really attracted to and forget the rest. By focusing your efforts I think you'll find you're more successful with the ones you like. When you hit on every woman who catches your attention there's something shallow and distracted about your approach. Women will wonder if you really mean business. And word will spread about you that you're incapable of genuine feeling, loyalty and commitment.

I understand, of course, that each summer day is capable of throwing dozens of beautiful new women in your face. Your primal male instinct will have you wanting to mate with each of them. Sorry. I never said that being an Ironman was going to be easy. It requires choices, self-discipline, a code. You will find, however, that once you subscribe to this code and put all your energy into living it, you will grow ever more sure of yourself. You will have a clearer and cleaner sense of how to behave, what to do, in any given situation. And the sense of purpose and mastery you feel will more than make up for any disappointment you experience in not feeling free to run around indiscriminately.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN IS NOT A WOMANIZER

Casanova, Don Juan, Errol Flynn — these are men who set out to seduce just about every woman they met. This is not Ironman behavior.
'But this is a book about dominating women, about being in control in your relationships with women. How can you then turn around and say the Ironman is not a womanizer?'

Because it's true. The Ironman wants to win women he is seriously attracted to, but he does not want to waste his time chasing every single girl who catches his eye. Yes, he's interested in a lot of women and finds many of them attractive. But he also understands there is something creepy and superficial about a man who can never settle down, who can never find one woman sexy and interesting enough so that he wants to spend all of his time with one rather than very little of his time with many.

I have a friend who, get this, is a very handsome physician who happens to have a great sense of humor, a Porsche, and a magnificent apartment overlooking the lake on the best street in Chicago. You can just imagine how many women come on to him.

Yet through all the years I've know him, he's rarely dated more than one woman at a time. He's had what in effect has been a series of serious relationships in which he's basically been monogamous. When I asked him why a guy with his obvious appeal hasn't dated dozens of women a month, he replied that he didn't think he'd find it very interesting.

"I like to really get to know one person," he said. "Dating a different girl every night leads to pathetically superficial conversations and relationships. As far as the sex goes, I think it takes time for it to be great. You never get there if you're only dating a woman once or twice. Not only that, I don't want to be seen as a playboy. It doesn't appeal to my self-image. All the people I've admired in sports and entertainment and government, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Clint Eastwood, Bill Bradley, Mike Singletary, Tom Watson, have had a serious, down-to-earth, manly image. You don't think of Sandy Koufax flitting from one woman to another. There's something kind of cheesy and weak about it."

My sentiments exactly.

Friday

THE IRONMAN DOESNT GO AFTER HIS FRIENDS' WOMEN

The Ironman is a man's man. His friends trust and respect him. They know he is a man of his word. They know they can trust him. And so an Ironman is absolutely resolute about not hitting up on his friends' wives or girlfriends. Again, even if it's difficult, even if an extremely sensuous, beautiful woman is throwing herself at him, the Ironman has a line that he will not cross. Remember, being an Ironman is not merely about dominating women. It is also about self-sacrifice, about living by a strict code.

Being an Ironman is zen really. It means living by a code because you believe in it as a better way of life. If good things happen to you because of it, so be it. They are a by-product of living as an Ironman, of living by your code.

And that code says the women of an Ironman's friends are off-limits. This is not to say an Ironman has to be stiff as a board around them, cool and aloof. A sense of flirtatiousness and play is totally acceptable. The Ironman is not a prig. He is not a bore. He can be as much fun as the next guy. The difference is an Ironman will never betray a friend. Women sense that about him. In fact it is why they are so drawn to him. Women often are drawn to what they cannot have.

I don't mean to imply, however, that an Ironman will not take another man's girlfriend. If he doesn't know or like the guy, the woman is fair game. He owes the other man nothing. I don't agree that all is fair in love and war. But, certainly, if a woman who is involved with another guy becomes attracted to you, or you to her, there is nothing wrong with pursuing it. Just make sure he's not a psychotic with an uzi in his closet. Make damn sure of it.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN ENJOYS THE COMPANY OF HIS WOMEN FRIENDS

It is also nice to have a fair number of women friends in your life during those times when you're not dating, or don't have a girlfriend. If you're invited to a dinner party or social function at work, rather than decline because you don't have a date, or hustle up a date you're not in the least drawn to, why not invite one of your women friends? It will reflect well on you. And because it'll be someone you enjoy, it'll make the evening fun.

Having women friends will also help you feel more comfortable and confident around women. It demystifies women. And it brings out and sharpens your instinctive, although perhaps not yet discovered, talents for relating to women. Then, when you're with a woman who turns you on sexually, you'll be more at ease.

There is something courtly and grown up about a male who counts a number of fine women among his close friends. It suggests you've got manners, style, grace, and the capacity to enjoy life beyond bars, brews, the boob tube, and baseball. In short it says a whole host of good things about you to women — without your having to say them yourself. Which is a good thing, since, as we all well know by now, an Ironman is not supposed to brag.

Friday

THE IRONMAN HAS A FAIR NUMBER OF WOMEN IN HIS LIFE

Perhaps, as you're reading these pages, you're developing a sense of a harsh, spartan landscape sparsely peopled only by sinewy silent men, much like those who appear in Clint Eastwood movies.
Not true.

For example, the Ironman has women in his life. Not lots and lots of them at one time. He's neither a gossip nor a dress designer. But not too few, either. The Ironman enjoys the company of women and has several good women friends he's known and kept contact with for a long time.

These are not women he feels strong sexual or romantic impulses toward, but they may in some cases be an old (former) girlfriend. Someone he knew back in college or the Army and who now happens to live in the same city as he.

The Ironman has women friends for several reasons.

First, because it's just plain fun. An intelligent woman can be so much more interesting than a man because she's so much more likely to open up and talk about what's really on her mind. (She's not the least bit interested in becoming an Ironman.)

A woman can be an excellent confidant, and let's face it, the road to becoming an Ironman — not to mention the life of an Ironman — will have its moments of isolation. No more whining or gossiping or backbiting or spilling your guts. Throwing yourself into your job, getting your place, your car, your body and your life into shape — this is a tall order.

A man's going to need his moments of opening up, of sharing frustrations, of taking time out — and there's no better confidant than a mature, honorable woman who is your tried and trusted friend. Someone you feel comfortable with. Someone with whom you can let your guard down.

You will instinctively feel less competitive with a woman; and, chances are, you'll feel less guarded than if you were with a male friend.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN LIVES BY A CODE

First of all, you'll seem different. Very few men have the confidence not to bring up other women. Second, she'll wonder what on earth you're doing with all those hours you're not spending with her. What she imagines about your exploits will be far richer than anything you could supply, for it's a fact of human nature that we're much more intrigued with what we don't know than what we know for sure.

If you really are seeing other women, don't worry. She'll sense it. Women have great intuition about these things. Also, people will tell her. T saw Jim out with a great-looking blonde at the movies last week.' Or, T hope you know Jim is dating at least two other girls.'

Furthermore, aside from all the mystery and stuff, aside from making you seem different, aside from provoking her curiosity about what the hell you're doing with your spare time, you'll gain her trust and respect. She'll see that you're not purposely trying to hurt her with tales of other women. She'll realize you're trustworthy, a gentleman, someone who will have the decency not to invoke her name when you're out with someone else.

She'll understand that you're a man of character. And if you're truly interested in this woman, think of her as someone you might want to spend the rest of your life with, then this perhaps more than anything will help to win her. For she will realize she can trust you.

She will understand you live by a code...and your code is one of decency.

Friday

THE IRONMAN NEVER BRAGS ABOUT HIS CONQUESTS

You've probably discovered by now that much of this book is devoted to showing you how to make yourself appear like a winner to the opposite sex — a successful, dignified man with a wide range of interests, a fine circle of friends, a good career that you are talented at and take pleasure in, and, last but not least, that you are someone whom women find desirable and a great pleasure to be with.

Then why, you might be wondering do I advise that you keep your conquests with the opposite sex to yourself. Simply because it is bragging and bragging is a sign of weakness rather than strength. It is transparent. If you tell a woman you're interested in that you are dating other women, she'll think to herself, 'What the hell is he telling me this for? Is he bragging? Trying to hurt me? Trying to make me jealous?'

If she's smart, she'll see right through you. And she'll think the lesser of you for it. She'll see it as a sign of insecurity. On the other hand, if you never mention another woman, never let casually slip how much you disliked a certain concert that a certain woman friend of yours dragged you to last week (and, believe me, I know the art of casually mentioning other women), you will continue to heighten the curiosity your date has about you.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN NEVER SCARES WOMEN

If you read the daily newspapers, I don't have to tell you that women suffer a great deal of physical abuse at the hands of men. Rape. Marital abuse. Date rape. Black eyes. Beatings, etc. Yes, there is the occasional article on women who strike back, but the fact is by far the vast majority of physical violence between the sexes is perpetrated by men on women.

I'm not an anthropologist, but I suspect a lot of it stems from our original caveman behavior...it's in our DNA. Men were the hunter/providers, bigger, stronger, more lethal, far better equipped to kill lions, bears, and, of course, other humans. Thus, when a man and woman are angry with each other...and find themselves reverting back to the behavior they were used to in a more primitive time...a man becomes infinitely more dangerous.

The Ironman has come a long way from his progenitors. He understands deeply that women carry around, at least in the back of their minds, a physical fear of men, a suspiciousness, a wariness. And so he makes sure that nothing in his behavior triggers or in any way arouses that fear. He quickly establishes that when it comes to physical violence, there is absolutely nothing to fear from him. A woman knows in her bones an Ironman would never hit her, never hurt her, never intimidate her with his size or his strength.

I mention this as urgently as I can for I want you to know that if you, in the past, have shown any sort of predilection for being violent or physical with a woman, if you've ever hit a woman or threatened her, if you've ever forced a woman to have sex with you, then you and I are not on the same wave-length. I will not countenance physical or verbal violence from any of my readers. There is simply no excuse for it.

If you want to read my books and follow my advice, then you must immediately and permanently give up any notion of physically overpowering women. You must not hit them. You must not force them to have sex with you. You must not frighten or intimidate or pester them. You must be sensitive to their fears...and make them feel as deeply as you can that you would never ever hit or abuse them in any way.

If you cannot subscribe to the above then I suggest you close this book, mail it back to me for a refund, and get yourself in the hands of a professional counselor who deals with men who are abusive to women. I want to have nothing more to do with you. There is simply no place for physical violence or intimidation in the relationship between men and women.

Let me also say from a very practical aspect that if a woman knows she can trust you never to overpower or hurt her physically then she is more likely to trust you. And if she is more likely to trust you then she is also more likely to take the time to get to know you and become attracted to you. Your very non-violent aura will make you more appealing to women.

Friday

THE IRONMAN DOES NOT LIVE FAST AND DIE YOUNG

The Ironman is also cognizant of other people's feelings, particularly the women in his life. He is a gentleman and a moralist. And so he would never force himself upon a woman in an unprotected state because he would sense how terrifying it could be to her, how insensitive. He would also understand that even if in the heat, the passion of the moment, that she was throwing caution to the wind, she will come to respect, trust and even love him more were he to demonstrate the self-control that she had momentarily lacked. 'This is a man I can trust', she would realize. 'This is a man who is good
for me.'

I understand that there is a certain glamor associated with a certain kind of man who may drink too much, party too often, drive too fast, smoke, brawl, ride a motorcyle without a helmet. I do not deny that this type often has appeal to women. Certainly men like this are glamorized in movies. In real life, however, they tend to get into lethal highway accidents, get fired from their jobs, left by their girlfriends and wives, die earlier deaths, and, ultimately, attract only scruffy, strange, masochistic women.

The Ironman feels confident, proud, and intelligent practicing safe
sex because it makes him feel he's doing everything in his power to make sure he and his partners are going to be around a long, long time.

The Ironman knows life is short even when one lives a very long time.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN PRACTICES SAFE SEX

The Ironman has learned how to enjoy life and, thus, wants to be around for a long time, to do as much sailing as he possibly can, to eat as many apples, to see as many movies, to enjoy more great ales and more bottles of superb red wine. And so, of course, he never has intercourse with a woman unless he is wearing a well-made latex condom (unless he is deep into a long-term, monogamous relationship in which both he and his partner have tested negatively for AIDS).

The Ironman does not live on the edge nor even close to it. This is not to say he is a coward, or has no sense of spontaneity, or is some kind of tight-assed, anal, control-freak. Rather, the Ironman is a realist who knows that even if there's only a one in one thousand chance that something can go wrong, it probably will go wrong. People do get AIDS. Unmarried women do get pregnant. By the millions. Men and women also get herpes, and gential warts, and all kinds of other depressing, life-inhibiting sexually transmitted diseases.

As a personality type, the Ironman is someone who plays the percentages, hedges his bets, takes only the most calculated, intelligent risks. He knows that life is complicated and unpredictable and has a way of doing what you least expect it to at the most inconvenient times. And because he's the type who learns from experience, and wants to spend as much possible time enjoying life, not fighting it, he practices safe sex.

Friday

THE IRONMAN IS THE LEADER IN THE RELATIONSHIP

My oldest daughter is a beautiful, funny, charming kid who loves to perform. When she gets a little positive feedback, she pulls out all stops. 'Jess,' I tell her, 'leave 'em wanting more, not less.' She likes when I tell her that. Although she's not always capable of following my advice, she sees the wisdom in it. She's making progress.

I want you to make progress, too. Leave women wanting more of you, not less. Give 'em a little of your brilliance, your charm, then get the hell out. Leave an hour earlier than you would normally, even if you're having the time of your life. You'll surprise the girl. You'll make her curious about you. 'We've just made love,' she'll think, 'and now I'd like to snuggle up against him all night and he's got to go home. What the hell does he have to do there that's more important than me?'

You'll also discover a surprising side benefit of a more restrained approach to starting and maintaining a relationship. You will have a better time. You will enjoy the relationship more. The girl in turn will remain more interesting and fascinating to you. Furthermore, you will feel proud of yourself, proud of your control, proud of your power to be self-constructive rather than self-destructive.

You will enjoy being the leader in this relationship, not the follower. And you will find that the more you follow this cool, measured line of relating to women, the easier it becomes to maintain, the more a natural part it will become of your personality.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN LEAVES A WOMAN WANTING MORE

Have you ever been drawn to an acquaintance, male or female, because there seemed to be something indefinably charismatic about them, a certain sense of fun or irreverance or wit that just made you want to spend more time with them?

So you asked them to have lunch or join your Saturday morning touch football game in the park or to hit the bars with you on Friday night. And before long, despite your fears that this person would be aloof, or distancing, he or she proved to be accesible, eager to spend time with you and always ready "to hang out. Here you'd expected someone who would be as flighty as a deer, yet rather than leave too early, he or she would stay too long, call too often.

And slowly but surely, or perhaps even very quickly, this person who had seemed so fascinating, whom you had been so drawn to, started to seem rather ordinary, even a little boring. Sometimes, even, you found yourself not wanting to spend time with him or her. He or she would call to see if you wanted to catch a movie and you'd find yourself thinking, 'God, how unexciting.'

The same phenomenon can occur in your relationship with a woman if, in response to her efforts to get to know you, you prove too willing, too eager an accomplice. Hold back. Bring her home a little earlier than you'd like. Don't stay over. Don't ask her back to your place. Don't order another drink. Don't insist she stay over at your place.

If she calls you at the office to see if you can make lunch that day, tell her you're tied up. If you're having a drink after work and she says she's meeting some friends for dinner and would you like to join them, tell her you've got some paperwork to catch up on. Not every time, of course. You don't want to seem disinterested. You simply want to sustain, not sate or exhaust, this quality of delight she takes in your company.

It's not always easy, or course, to pull yourself away when you're having a great time, when you're luxuriating in her admiring glances...the peels of laughter which greet your every comment. But there's a danger in this. It can make you overperform. The feeling of being loved is heady stuff. If you're not careful, you start acting manic, trying to be even funnier, sexier. You overstay your welcome. You overwhelm her attraction to you.

Friday

THE IRONMAN MAKES THE FIRST MOVE

We have all heard from our friends, of course, steamy anecdotes of how gorgeous girls dragged them into bed. And it has filled us with envy. Why, we've wondered, doesn't it happen to us? Why do we always have to make the first move? Why are we the ones who always have to risk the chilling specter of rejection?

Let me tell you something. I've been around a long time, and if I
haven't seen and heard it all, I've experienced most of it. I have some extremely handsome, successful male friends who do fabulously well with women. And yet for all the tales I've heard of men being propositioned with little more than a hello, the truth is most of the time ~ and by that I mean
about 97% of the time ~ men have to do the initiating.

My friend Harvey is a tall, good-looking finance executive who, literally, makes a million dollars a year. He's a bit of a wild man with women, having been married to three exquisite blonds, during which time he's also had dozens of affairs. Last year he related to me with some astonishment that a woman he'd just met at a business meeting in Phoenix had rather brazenly suggested the two of them skip lunch and go up to her room.

"But doesn't this happen to you all the time?" I asked.

"Never," he responded. "She said she found me terribly attractive. I've never had a woman come on to me so openly before."

I point this out because I want you to realize how out of the norm it is for women to be so aggressive. Yes, they flirt, they bat their eyes, they push out their breasts, they may touch a man's arm, spray on perfume, look at a man coquettishly. But this is all passive stuff. You will find that for every one woman who throws her panties onstage at Tom Jones, there are 9,999 waiting for you to make the first move.

When you understand this in the bottom of your heart, that it is a man's biological role to initiate seduction, not a woman's, then perhaps you will no longer rue the fact that women haven't been petitioning you for sex all your life. Perhaps you will come to accept the fact that it is you who must get the love-making started, not her. Perhaps one day, when you've become a true Ironman, you will even come to enjoy this role.

It can be tremendous fun.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN UNDERSTANDS MALENESS

There are a couple of other things the Ironman knows about women:
The Ironman knows a woman is far more interested in her own appearance than his. That's her role. It is biological. A woman uses her looks to attract a man so that he will want to sleep with her and impregnate her. This is what preserves the species which, according to Darwin, is the drive of all species.

The human female has a very limited, finite time during which she can conceive. She has a finite number of eggs. Thus, there is something a bit urgent about her desire to attract males. Her looks, truly, are her stock and trade.

The Ironman uses this knowledge to his advantage. It is why he is never defensive about his own looks. In the relationship between the sexes it is not
what he is selling. He simply gets in shape, keeps crisp and clean, dresses
neatly and simply, and puts any concern about his appearance behind him. While women attempt to lure him with their physical charms, he realizes what attracts them to him is his strength, his consistency, his loyalty, his ability to earn a living, and his bearing, which lets a woman know that he thinks highly
of himself.

The Ironman understands that his very maleness alone makes him a prized catch. And the women in his life know just by being around him that although he can be nice and solicitous, there is a very clear line which he will not cross in his pursuit of them. They can feel it in their bones. (More about this later.)

Finally, the Ironman understands that a male and a female are different sexually. A man is capable of impregnating a woman from the time he reaches puberty to his death. He generates trillions of spermatazoa. He could literally populate the galaxy. Because nature adores an excess of offspring to better the chances of preserving the species, it has programmed a man to become sexually aroused easily and quickly.

The human female on the other hand, because there are limited times during which she can conceive, is not usually aroused as easily or as frequently. Once again, the Ironman uses this knowledge to his advantage. He knows that it is his role to be the seducer, to make the first move, to initiate sex. And so he understands that there is absolutely nothing wrong, as he heads out on a date, to find himself thinking very consciously about how he is going to get this woman into bed. It is his role, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact
the true Ironman relishes the game and has become quite expert at knowing how to seduce a woman who on the surface seems icy and disinterested. The Ironman knows that just below the surface may be lurking a luscious and passionate woman.

Stay tuned for more on why men must be aggressive!

Friday

THE IRONMAN AVOIDS THE GOLDDIGGER

One little caution. I am in no way suggesting you attempt to buy a woman's love. Do not lavish inappropriately expensive gifts on her. Do not take her to places you cannot afford. Be very, very careful if she starts asking you to buy her things or pay for her rent. There are some, not many, but they do exist, really sick women out there who like to see how much they can take a man for. Avoid these like the plague. How can you spot one?

You're at a shopping mall together and she happens to spot a dress she's got to have and for some reason doesn't have her Visa card on her and wants to borrow yours. Or her rent or telephone bill is due and she's a little short this month. Could she borrow from you?

Each situation has to be evaluated on its own merit, or course. But if you run into anything like the two situations described above, be on guard. If it happens twice, forget her.

I do not want you under any circumstances, however, to use your dread of being 'taken' by a woman to keep you from being generous. An Ironman works hard to have money to enjoy life. He enjoys his life fully and when he invites a woman into it, it is not that he is suddenly stepping up his standard of living to impress her but, rather, continuing to live as he always lives ~ well. Comfortably. The way he wants to.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN IS NOT A CHEAPSKATE

The Ironman also knows a lot of other things about women. He knows, for example, that women like a man to be generous, and that cheapness can be one of the biggest turnoffs there is.

And since I know there are alot of cheap guys out there, I can already hear one of you responding, 'Yeah, but if part of being an Ironman is being in control, doing what you, not she, wants to do, if being an Ironman is moving ahead confidently and not worrying yourself to death about her feelings, then what the hell's wrong with following one's own masculine instincts to keep expenses down.A woman can spend you into bankruptcy if you're not careful. Isn't a guy being weak by throwing money at a woman? Isn't it giving her exactly what she wants?'

And my answer to that is by taking control, you are giving a woman what she wants. She wants you to be in control. Being an Ironman isn't about spiting women. It's about being and staying in control by maintaining our classic, genetically-predetermined roles. Your role is to be in charge; it's to be the wage-earner, the hunter/provider, if you will. Her role is to bear the
children, to nurture them, to decorate the nest, to be somewhat more solicitous of you than you are of her because you're the poor bastard who's got to go out into the world and earn a living everyday.

By being the one who's earning the living, or at least a bigger share of it, you're expected to pay for things. It's part of the deal. You get to escape the tedium of the nest everyday by venturing out into the lively, exciting world. To make up for it, you turn over some of the money you make to her.

The reason I'm such a strong advocate of being generous is that it says so many good things about you, Ironman things. It says you're a winner. You make a good living. You have a good job. It says you're confident. You're not squirreling away every penny you have because you expect to make more —lots more. And it says you have the inner toughness and personal fortitude to accept your genetically assigned role, not like so many men who do nothing but whine about how expensive everything is, but like a true Ironman. The good things in life, including a sexy, beautiful women, are expensive. So be it. You're the provider, you're damn good at it, and over the years you expect to do even better.

So be magnanimous, not a cheap chicken. Take your dates to nice places. If you're passing a bookstore or a candy shop, stop in and buy her something. It's astonishing how a little, occasional gift can open a woman's heart to you. It is the balm of relationships. It is, in its own subtle way, an aphrodisiac. I'm not sure a woman goes so far as to articulate it in her mind, but what she feels, if not thinks, when you bring her an unexpected present is, 'He's thinking about me. I'm on his mind. He's not afraid to spend money on me. He's not stingy. This is a good sign. I want to live a life with nice material things in it. He understands that. There will be more where this came from.

Friday

THE IRONMAN IS IN CHARGE

Women want you to be in charge, even if you've somehow come to the conclusion that in today's environment they want to be in charge. Don't believe it for a minute. It's patented, sociological hogwash, the idea of the day. If you go back through history, you'll find scores of decades in which women's rights momentarily became an issue in the march of time...and when the dust settled life went pretty much back to the way it always was, with men being the leaders of their country's government, businesses, most important public organizations, and, yes, marriages.

If you can internalize this notion, make it the backbone of your social life, you will find things improving for you almost immediately. For example, don't call up a woman and, in an attempt to please her, ask her what she'd like to do next Friday night. Rather, tell her that you've made reservations at the new French restaurant in town because you've just read a review that described it as one of the ten best restaurants in the region.

Don't say things like, "Whatever you want to do," or "How'd you like to catch a movie with me some night?" or "Do you like Chinese food?" Take charge. Say, "I'm inviting you to the Symphony," or "I'd like you to see the new Spielberg movie with me Saturday night," or "I know a great Chinese restaurant that I want to take you to."

Be positive, confident, clear, and definite. Don't think it's cute or endearing to be tentative, to fumble, to be solicitous. That's for little boys. And for Christ's
sake stop worrying that she doesn't like Chinese food or hates Spielberg. She probably doesn't and if she does, what's the big deal. Either she'll grin and bear it and be dominated...or she'll tell you, in which case you can suggest alternatives or even do what she wants to do.

I'm not implying that you should be a dictator, or that it would be weak to take into account her likes and dislikes. What I am saying is don't fall all over yourself worrying about them ahead of time. Have the confidence to put forth your plan positively and enthusiastically, as if you expect her to like it. If you're overly solicitous or wishy washy, you'll make her nervous. 'What's he trying to hide?' she'll wonder. 'What kind of man is this?'

Check back soon for a discussion on the pitfalls of being cheap, and how to look out for 'gold diggers'.

Tuesday

THE IRONMAN HAS COME TO UNDERSTAND WOMEN

Just because the Ironman is strong of body, somewhat reserved, a bit on the quiet side, doesn't mean that under this calm, cool exterior there isn't a brain that's not shrewd and observant. The Ironman watches what is going on. He learns from experience. He has worked hard to understand women — as far as anyone can understand women — for he realizes how critical this knowledge is to his keeping the upper hand in the continuing battle for domination.

Make no mistake, the Ironman wants to dominate. He's heard all the marvelous arguments about the joys of giving in, of ceding control, of letting somebody else worry about steering the ship. The Ironman knows that's fancy thinking. The drive to dominate is in his genes. If second place is so great, then why don't we celebrate the Super Bowl loser? How come everyone wants to immigrate to the United States instead of, let's say, Spain or Greece?

If someone else is in charge of our destiny, our feelings, whether we're happy or unhappy, why does it feel so bad? Why do we work so hard to escape, to get in control? No, the Ironman loves the feeling of being in control, thank you very much, and so he does everything he can to stay there.

Fundamental to this is his profound understanding that most sane and healthy women really don't want to be in control. Just as an Ironman feels nervous, as if life isn't really working the way it's supposed to, when he's not in control, most women feel nervous, that life isn't really working the way it's supposed to, when they find themselves in control in a relationship with a man. This may be the most important piece of information contained in this blog.

Check back soon for more understanding women and being in charge.

Monday

THE IRONMAN IS A MAN OF FEW WORDS

You've probably got the message by now loudly and clearly, but I thought it important to actually put it down in writing: THE IRONMAN DOESNT SAY MUCH.

You know that I count actions to be a trillion times more important, more informative, more substantial, more telling than words. To me words are just hot air, warming up, showing off, filling the void. Actions, instead, are everything.

If a girl says she loves you, adores you, finds you exhilarating and charming and sexy and fun to be with, but you can never get a date with her, what's the real truth? She'd rather be somewhere or with someone else.

If, on the other hand, she doesn't say all that much but rings your doorbell, comes in, and hops into bed with you, what can you read from this? That she wants to be with you.

Get in the habit. Read people's actions. Discount their words. It's only when the two are consistent...when a person does what she says she's going to do...that you can start to take great stock in her words.

Women, whether they're aware of it or not, will view you in the same way. Sooner or later they will pay a lot more attention to what you do than what you say.

Use this to your advantage. Be a man of great actions and few words. Invite a girl to a great restaurant, the best in town. Spring for a good bottle of wine. When she gets up to go to the ladies room, stand for her. When she returns, get out of your chair again.

When you take her home, don't ask if you can come in. Simply tell her you had a great evening, hope she did as well, and will see her soon. Wow! What an impact you'll have.

A man who's different. A man who doesn't automatically start trying to paw her just because he's bought her a nice dinner.

You can say all you want to a woman but unless you're a spectacular comedian or storyteller, and most of us are not, it's just hot air. But when you buy her a nice meal, behave like a perfect gentleman, don't fill the evening with the kind of self-absorbed bragging that most men spew out non-stop, your actions will be saying wonderful things about you.

You have the money to buy a nice meal, the taste to choose a nice place. You're not cheap. You think she's worth it. You have good manners. You're interested enough in her life not to have.to talk exclusively about' yourself. You're confident enough in your job and accomplishments that you don't have to be bragging. You're not so threatened by a dead spot in the conversation that you feel compelled to rush in and fill it with meaningless words. And you don't expect to be repaid with sex just because you bought her a nice meal.

Man, that's a guy who's different, who's not a blabbermouth, whose
actions speak of confidence and accomplishment and generosity.

Believe me, I understand the compulsion to speak, the belief that you can accomplish anything through speech. We're brought up on it. Look at Cyrano de Bergerac, whose words were so lovely they triumphed over a nose that just wouldn't quit. In the movies men are always seducing reluctant women through the sheer power of their language.

In real life, however, I believe you'll find that actions speak far, far louder than words. In my early twenties, after putting my foot in my mouth on date after date, after discovering the more I talked the less masculine and desirable I felt, I simply gave up talking. At first, it was just to limit the damage. I figured the less I spoke the less chance I'd come off looking like an idiot. Take 'em out to dinner, don't speak unless spoken to, and take 'em home again — that became my game plan. I wasn't even trying to get laid.

But what do you think happened? All of a sudden girls were inviting me in after dinner ~ for a drink, no less. Frequently, they'd even let me take them to bed. What I discovered was that the mere action of buying a girl a nice dinner - and not screwing it up by trying too hard to be different, creative, and loveable with my words — was enough. Girls were reading enough into just that ~ a nice dinner. It was saying far more than I could ever say with words. In fact, words had been actually screwing it up.

Give it a try. Buy a girl a nice dinner or take her to the theatre or a pro basketball game or a first-run movie and just say the bare minimum. "Hi. How's it going? How's work? How's everything?" Let her do all the talking. Be a man of action, not words. You'll be astonished at how effective it is. And how liberating and comfortable it is to feel that you don't have to hit a home run by being clever, that you can just sit back and enjoy the food, the show, whatever, while she rushes in to fill the voids.

In truth, your very quietness will have her questioning herself, wondering if you're bored, disinterested, wanting to be somewhere else. She'll start working that much harder to please you, to charm you, to make you like her. And you'll have discovered just one more way to dominate a woman.

THE IRONMAN SETS LIMITS

A critical chapter, so pay close attention.
In his pursuit of a woman, an Ironman draws a mental line in the sand over which he will not step. The line will vary at different stages in his development, and, curiously, may actually be more lenient and flexible as The Ironman matures, as he gets to know himself better and realize his full strength. In the early years, an Ironman may be far more hard-nosed.

For example, when he is very young, an Ironman may decide that if a woman ever neglects to return a phone message he's left with her secretary, answering machine, or voice mail, he will not call her again until she has made a positive move toward him, stopped by his desk and asked him to lunch, invited him over, left a phone message for him.

This is not a bad thing for a young Ironman to decide. I like it. It's a code. It's a set rule to live by. It provides guidance, a roadmap for those times when life has become murky, unclear. And I particularly like it because it's tough and uncompromising. There are many times in his life when an Ironman must be tough and uncompromising, even when it's hard, even when it's frightening, even when it's disappointing.

'She seems to like me,' thinks the young Ironman, 'yet two days ago I left a clear message on her answering machine to give me a buzz. I still haven't heard from her. Maybe her answering machine's on the fritz. Maybe she's out of town. Maybe I should overlook it and call her again.' But the young ironman has his rule: He never calls a woman who hasn't returned his call. Never.

So even though his feelings are cloudy and he's unsure what to do, he has a personal code of conduct that tells him what to do: Don't call. He may want desperately to call. He may be thinking, 'God, what if her secretary didn't take the message and by not calling it looks like I'm ignoring her.' Too bad. You're an Ironman and you got to take your chances.

Figure it this way. If she's lost whatever little interest in you she's had, big deal. You phoned once, didn't get a response, and so have moved on to other things. At the very least she'll think, 'H'mmmm, I guess he didn't like me that much, either.'

If she does like you and has neglected to return your call out of busyness or laziness, you've put yourself on record as somebody who expects to have his calls returned, no excuses. You'll get her attention. She'll sense your pride, your hard-nosedness. She'll realize, rather quickly, that you're not a man to be trifled with. You've got limits. You can't be treated shabbily or off-handedly.

Here's the worst-case scenario. She does like you — a lot. Her answering machine was on the blink. Now, because she hasn't heard from you, she assumes you no longer care for her. Hurt, angry, she resumes dating her old boyfriend, he asks her to marry him, they get engaged and you're out of the picture.

Unlikely, but it could happen. Too bad. You're the Ironman and you've got to take your chances. These miscommunications can happen when you have such a strict code by which you live. But I can tell you this. For every one time you lose a woman out of hard-nosedness, you'll gain a dozen. That's how much power you project when people sense you're a man with a code, an uncompromising sense of pride, the inner toughness even to lose a woman over principle.

And you know something? The longer you live by your code, the more strictly you adhere to it, the surer you'll become that what you're doing is right, and the more you'll come to enjoy your burgeoning sense of self-respect. For that's where being appealing to others really begins -- with your own strong sense of self-respect.

Earlier in the chapter I hinted that as an Ironman matures and truly comes to understand his inner power, the power he has developed by living the past ten years as an Ironman, he may, if he feels like it, decide to call a woman who has neglected to call him back. He can do it because by this time he has had so many women, and has been so fully in control in his relationships with them, he now has the confidence he will soon be dominating the very woman who neglected to return his phone call. It will just be a matter of time.

He calls her by saying, "I guess you didn't get my message. I called you the other day to say hello." If she really did get his message, she'll be pleased to be let off the hook. And she'll be impressed by his confidence. Of course she couldn't have got his message. Otherwise she would have returned the call.

But, again, this is for the experienced, confident Ironman. Don't use it as an excuse to phone a woman who hasn't returned your call. I'd much rather see you err on the side of hard-nosedness. It makes you different. With all the weak, compromising, anxiety-ridden men out there, a man with the guts to take the hard line, even if it means he may be cutting himself off from someone he likes, truly stands out.

THE IRONMAN IS PERSISTANT

Long about now, I'm sure some of you are wondering how an Ironman wins a woman who seems to be disinterested in him. After all, if the Ironman is relentlessly cool, strong, if he resists calling when he feels desperate to call, if he never begs nor pleads for a date, how on earth is he ever going to get a date with a woman who rejects his first or second advance.

Good question. In certain ways Ironmanness and pursuing a hard- to-get woman do seem a contradiction. But the truth is, once you fully understand what it is to be an Ironman, once you feel like an Ironman deep inside you, you will know that there is an Ironman way to do almost anything. You will simply ask yourself, What is the Ironman way to accomplish this? How would an Ironman approach it? Even tasks that somehow seem weak or compromising by their very nature, like borrowing money, or asking for help or affection, can be approached and often accomplished in an Ironman fashion.

The one underlying point you must keep in mind is that there is nothing inherently shameful or pathetic about wanting a woman who doesn't want you. That's life. Attraction is often, at least at first, chemical, instinctual. Just as there are some women who turn you off and some women you're attracted to, there will be some women who are drawn to the way you look, the way you act and talk and stand and smell, as well as others who find you totally bland or unappealing.

You may, of course, decide that if a woman isn't drawn to you, why fight it? There are millions of other ones out there, many of whom will quite naturally be attracted to you. On the other hand, what if there's a girl out there who appeals to you tremendously and yet has no interest in you whatsoever?

I submit that you're very decision not to give up, not to take no for an answer, is the very stuff of which Ironmen are made and in many ways most constitutes Ironmanness. For the very essence of being an Ironman is getting what you want out of life, not what life happens to shuffle your way.

So, without further ado, here's how an Ironman goes after a woman who appears to have absolutely no desire to go out with him. He simply calls back a week or two later and asks her out again ~ not defensively, not referencing his previous rejection -- but proudly and straightforwardly. "Hey, Ellen, how are you? I've got two tickets to the Bulls game Friday and I'd love to have you join me."

If she again turns you down ~ "Sorry, Bill, but I have a date that night." -- you simply say something like, "No problem, just thought you'd enjoy it." Sound confident, happy, upbeat, never peevish, only mildly disappointed. Maybe she really does have a date.

Call back a week or two later. Again without referencing your previous rejection. After all, you're an Ironman. You've got a thick hide. You know you're worthy, desireable. Furthermore, you're the opposite of paranoid. You don't think she's making up excuses so as not to go out with you. You simply called a day or two later than the other guy.

If she still says, no, call back again. This time don't wait as long. Call back a day or two later. You just got tickets to Miss Saigon which has recently come to town. Or the Symphony. Propose dates that are classy, substantial, that she might really want to go to despite her not being all that turned on by you. Make them events that reflect your worldliness, good taste, financial wherewithal. And if she still says she's busy, why then call back again. A week or two weeks or a month later. Remember, the Ironman is persistent.

Consider this. If she hadn't been aware of your existence, she certainly will be now, even if, to some extent, negatively. She'll know you're someone to contend with, someone who doesn't give up easily, someone with a healthy enough ego to take a few hits and still come back with a smile on his face. These are all characteristics women value in a man for, at least on an unconscious level, a woman knows that a strong resilient man is more likely to be a good wage earner and someone who will stick around for awhile.

Okay, what happens if, on your sixth call, the woman tells you very directly that she's not attracted to you and has no interest in going out with you. Is now the time to fold your tent, fall apart, babble an apology for having bothered her, blow up and call her a bitch, slam down the phone? No, no, a thousand times, no. You simply respond,

"I'm sorry you feel that way because I'm tremendously attracted to you. Of course, I don't want to be perceived as a nuisance, but this is not a feeling that's going to disappear easily. I want you to know that at least for the near future there's a good, strong, capable man out there who would love to spend some time with you. Keep that in mind. If you're ever feeling harrassed or lonely or bored out of your mind, just give me a call and we'll grab dinner or a movie together, or I'll just be a good listener over the phone to whatever's ailing you."

If this is a woman you work with or see around your neighborhood, don't turn away the next time you see here. Remember, you're the Ironman. Rejection doesn't hurt you. It's part of life, water off a duck's back. Inside you know you're a person of great value who any woman in her right mind would die to go out with. You're clean, fit, loyal, generous, honest, trustworty ~ not a drug dealer or user, not an alcoholic nor wife beater, not psychotic nor mentally disturbed, not a womanizer, not suffering from any dreaded sexually transmitted disease. You don't have a criminal record, aren't bankrupt, or illiterate or in this country illegally.

I mention all this because the scenario of phone calls we've just gone through — and, of course, I don't intend for you to use them word for word — will accomplish the following: It will let the woman know you exist. That you're crazy about her (this alone is an aphrodisiac for many women). That you're straightforward and honest. That you're brave. That you're polite. That you're not dangerous. That you're mature.

THE IRONMAN IS BRAVE

Most men are not brave. They will call a woman they are certain will go out with them, and stall for months before finally phoning a woman they are less sure of. Or. more likely, they never call her at all.

The Ironman knows that taking chances are part of his life. Not stupid, wild, swing for-the-fences, hope-to-get-lucky chances, but intelligent, calculated chances where, with a little bit of luck, things might go his way.

No, he doesn't call up the beautiful executive assistant who has just started working for the president of his company, the one he met for two seconds while waiting on line in the office cafeteria for his baked sole and cauliflower special. But he does call the woman who lives in his condominium complex with whom he frequently chats pleasantly in the laundry room of his building. Even if he's not all that sure she wants to go out with him.

The Ironman enjoys the challenge. Believe it or not he enjoys the suspense, the tension, the nervousness of not knowing whether a particular woman will go out with him; for he's experienced how much greater a pleasure it is to be going out with her than a sure thing.

I have a friend who was riding back from the beach, where he'd spent the day hanging out with a group of friends and friends of friends. Seated between him and the driver was a beautiful brunette whom he had spent some time tossing a frisbee with, her long legs and abundant bosom tantalizing him as she dove for the spinning platter. She was an acquaintance, not the girlfriend, of the driver, who seemed as interested in the girl as my friend. Sensing she was up for grabs, he decided that before very long he must make a play for her.

He sat there for a few seconds, listening to the soft jazz on the radio, taking in the scent of the girl's perfume, and experienced a strong impulse to throw his arm around her. 'My God,' he thought to himself, 'she'll think I'm mad. I hardly know her. I'll be overstepping my bounds.'

But then he considered the other side of the coin. It could just be interpreted as a sign of friendship. Or the shifting of a limb during a long ride. And if he didn't make a move soon, his friend would. So, throwing caution to the wind, he put his arm around the girl, cupping her shoulder with his hand. Instantly she melted into him like soft ice cream. And they wound up spending the weekend in bed.

Of course, aside from the rewards of being brave, the Ironman has also discovered that if he does get turned down, it's no big thing. Besides a mildly bruised ego, he has survived to try again. He's also learned that life is a mixture of defeats and successes; and that it is those who have come to accept the fact that you can't always win who develop the strength to keep on taking risks, being brave. For they have confidence that even when things aren't momentarily going their way, their luck will turn simply by forging ahead.

An Ironman is brave because it is his role and because he enjoys it. He has found that bravery is one of the traits that helps him most get what he wants out of life. He knows that his bravery becomes him.

THE IRONMAN DOESN'T WHINE

It's human nature to kvetsch (that's Yiddish for complain, schmuck). 'My boss is an asshole, my landlord's a dick, my roomate's an idiot', etc., etc. We even complain about people and things we like. 'My friend's a nut, my mother's so anal, by sister's a real bitch, my car's driving me crazy.'

It just seems to come out. Start talking and before you even realize it you're putting things down. You almost can't help yourself. Must be biological, in the DNA. (You hear me saying that a lot.)

I liken it to a flock of grackles on your lawn. 'Caw,' complains one grackle. 'Caw caw,' bitches back a couple. 'CAW CAW CAW,' responds the whole tribe. Maybe complaining is just that, the start of communication, warming up, breaking the ice.

I've noticed that in the East complaining has been elevated to high art. New Yorkers distinguish themselves with the care and the creativity they put into their non-stop criticisms. 'See how special I am. I look down on everything. Nothing's good enough for me.'

In the Midwest, guys don't feel good or masculine about complaining, but they've got to do it anyway. So they sneak up on it. 'I really like Ellen, but she should do something about her weight.' Or, 'Don't get me wrong, I think Steve's doing a great job. I'd just do it with a little more enthusiasm blah blah blah blah.'

On the Coast (West, that is), men don't seem to complain much at all. In fact, they don't seem to say much of anything that I can actually remember ~ maybe the weather's too nice. Why talk when you can be out bicycling or surfing?

No matter, whether whining is big where you come from or non- existent, Ironmen don't whine. It's unattractive. It's predictable. It's boring. And it's wimpy. It says something bad about you.

After all, if your boss is such an asshole, why'd you take the job in the first place? Why aren't you changing jobs? Why don't you have his job?

If the way you try to build yourself up is by putting others down, people will soon begin to see it as a pattern of yours. It is transparent, making you look weak, impotent, self-pitying. If the woman you're with doesn't come to this conclusion consciously, she will unconsciously. She'll sense it in you. 'This man doesn't have the get up and go to change his job, his apartment, or his friends,' she will think. 'I guess he's not confident he has what it takes to improve his life.' She'll see you as someone who prefers to sit around and wallow in his misery rather than take the chance to improve your life. Not very attractive, pal.

On the other hand, the Ironman's approach is refreshingly different. He doesn't whine a bit. Not a word of it. For the most part, he asks questions and listens. With not a bad word to say about anybody. If things aren't going his way — the waiter's been forty-five minutes getting your drinks — instead of mumbling what a lousy restaurant this is, he simply calls over the manager and declares that he expects your order to be filled immediately.

Imagine how different, and, frankly, better you'll seem than the next guy. A woman will think, 'here's a guy I can trust. He doesn't say anything bad about anybody, so chances are he won't say anything bad about me. He's not constantly complaining about his fate in life so he must be reasonably satisfied with the way things are going.' This is a signal to her that you're not a loser. That you feel you're in control, that you believe in yourself.

Instead of bemoaning your fate, obviously you have the confidence, the wherewithal, and the energy to get up off your butt to correct the situation.

Let me tell you how I made the transition from whiner to beginning Ironman (I'm still not sure I've achieved anywhere near true Ironmaness). One night I returned from a date that hadn't gone well. I was feeling somewhat disgusted with myself. Sometime during the evening the woman I was with had casually mentioned that she thought my friend Harry was a great-looking guy. Filled with jealousy, I informed her that Harry had once admitted to me during a long evening of drinking that sometimes he worried he was gay.
This from a guy who had bedded dozens of spectacular-looking women!

Hah! I thought to myself, that ought to queer (no pun intended) any interest my date has in old Harry. But in truth the revelation didn't seem to bother her one bit.

"Oh, well," she responded, "all guys worry about that at one time or another. Doesn't mean a thing." And instead of turning her off Harry, my remark seemed to turn her off me. The rest of the evening was filled with uncomfortable silences, with me rushing in to fill the voids with gushes of words and my date looking impatient to be home — alone.

Christ, I thought when I got home ~ alone and much earlier than I'd hoped — I've got to change my life. My running off at the mouth had repulsed me, left me feeling unattractive, undesirable, and vaguely creepy. Badmouthing a good friend — no wonder this woman hadn't been able to wait to get out of my presence.

How else could I have handled her comment? I ruminated. Why not, 'Oh, yeah, Harry's a great-looking guy. Ever since we've been teenagers, girls have been throwing themselves at him.'

It certainly would have been loyaler and truer. And it would have said, implicitly, a whole host of good things about me:

I support my friends.
I can enjoy someone else's good fortune.
I'm a cool enough guy to have good-looking friends.
I must think pretty well of myself since I don't seem at all jealous. And so on and so on.

Anyway, to make a long story a little shorter, I decided from that moment on to stop putting people down on dates, to stop running off at the mouth, to quit gossiping and rumor-mongering and backbiting.

Of course, it wasn't always easy. The temptations to badmouth can be overwhelming. And in truth it took me about six months to fully rein myself in.

But the results were wonderful. I developed a whole new system, characterized by the following disciplines, for conducting my relationships with dates...actually, for conducting my relationships with everyone -- male and female alike.

1) I asked by dates questions their lives and their hopes.

2) I complimented them.

3) I told appropriate jokes and anecdotes.

4) I volunteered occasional facts about myself without bragging or complaining, but only in response to a question from my date.

That was, and in many ways still is, my formula: questions, compliments, anecdotes, responses to questions. Nothing more than that.

It may seem a bit spartan, but I can tell you this: within six months my dating life had improved immeasurably. Women seemed to respond to me with much more warmth, openness, trust, affection, and respect; and I felt tremendously better about myself. And when you like yourself better, so do others. It's as simple and as basic as that.

THE IRONMAN IS PATIENT

The Ironman knows that although compared to the life of a galaxy, the human life is all too brief, still, a lot can happen in a lifetime, a decade, a year, even in an hour. It is why the Ironman doesn't get overly excited when things are going great nor terribly disappointed when things aren't going his way. This tends to be the mindset of someone with experience more than the mindset of a kid.

Experience is the great teacher. One is doing great at one's job, winning raises, promotions, a mentor...and then the mentor leaves, someone new takes his place, and the new boss tends to be distant and aloof. In a situation like this, many will panic. 'The new guy doesn't like me. He's going to fire me and replace me with one of his own buddies. I'll be out of a job and unable to get a new one. I'll wind up peniless, alone, and sleeping on the street. No decent woman will ever look at me again.'

This is not the way of the Ironman. He's been through it all before. He knows a whole bunch of things. The new guy may not last very long. Or, if he does, he may soon come to respect the loyalty, hard work, and expertise of the Ironman. And if he doesn't, and is so parochial as to replace perfectly good people with his own cronies, so be it. There's always a good job out there for a good man.

The Ironman knows if he just hangs in there, and doesn't panic, and follows his own creed and work ethic, that sooner or later things will start going his way. He's come to learn this through business, sports, hobbies, and, yes, relationships with women. If he just hangs in there, sooner or later, he'll get what he wants.

A case in point. A friend was going with a girl his freshman year of college. She was a slender, dark beauty, and the young man was nuts about her. But as they headed into their sophomore year, the girl told him she felt hemmed in and wanted to date other people. The young man's heart was broken, but being an incipient Ironman he kept his hurt to himself. He stopped phoning the girl cold turkey, and when he passed her on campus he merely nodded politely.

By their junior year, they began dating again. The boy was as in love with her then as he had been two years ago. However, after a few months went by, the girl again expressed a desire to date other people. "Okay," said the young man, "I'd rather you didn't, but if you feel you have to, go ahead. I can only tell you this: I'm going to get on with my life. I may be here when you decide you want me back -- and you will ~ and I may not. That's the chance you're going to have to take."

After college the young woman went off to become a model and then a stewardess. The young man landed in Boston and went to work for a bank. Although he dated other women, and there were even a few who had fallen in love with him, he couldn't stop thinking about the girl from college. But he remained steadfast in his resolve not to call her, not to write her, not to plead with her to come back. For some odd reason, he had a bedrock confidence that he was meant for her and she him. At the same time he was equally resolved that if she never came back, he would find someone else, that life would go on.

Sure enough, after about five years had gone by, and they were both in their late twenties, he received a letter from the girl. Her job as a flight attendant was taking her to Boston for a night. Would he like to have dinner? Since she had initiated the contact, he agreed. Over white wine and halibut at Legal Seafood, they remembered old times. She ordered a second bottle of wine and opened her heart to him. She had missed him terribly. There had never been another like him, not as sexy, not as much fun, not as loyal. Why don't they just do what they'd always been destined to do and get married?

Our young hero's heart was breaking in two. How convenient if he agreed right then and there on the spot, how sweet to put an end at last to those years of longing. But well on his way to Ironmaness, he listened to the small but unmistakeable voice in the back of his brain telling him to slow down, to take his time, to trust not in instant solutions, TO BE PATIENT.

And so he was. After all, he'd been twice burned. This time he wanted to be certain. So he simply replied, "I've missed you too.

But let's not rush things. We haven't even seen each other for five years. What if we've become two completely different people? Let's keep in touch and see how things progress." She was woefully disappointed, hadn't been expecting this kind of response at all. After all, she used to have such power over him. It got her attention.

When they finished dinner, she wanted him to come upstairs to her hotel room. "Next time you're back in Boston," he said. "Really?!" she eplied. "I've been thinking about this for five years. How can you stand it?" He simply smiled.

It wasn't two weeks before she was back in town. This time our young Ironman really surprised her. "Sorry," he explained over the phone from his office, "but we're putting a special financing package together for one of our biggest clients and I'm probably going to have to be here all night. When are you going to be in town again?"

"You're kidding!" she responded, sounding crestfallen. "Are you trying to tell me something?"

"Of coure not," he responded. "I'm really looking forward to seeing you. Tell me when you're going to be here next and we'll set up an official date."

"Well, actually," she confessed, "I've requested Boston as a regular assignment, and so I'll be staying over twice a week from now on." Our hero smiled confidently to himself. It was working. They made a date for the following Thursday night.

This time they did spend the evening together. It was extraordinary, the culmination of five years of desire. The girl snuggled up to the young Ironman in bed and told him again and again how much she loved him and had missed him, as if she were trying to get him to admit the same. He refused. He couldn't stop thinking about all the men she must have had during the years they'd been apart. As much as he wanted her, he had grave doubts about her ability to stay faithful, to keep from getting bored. He felt he still had to be in greater control, to dominate her, to have the balance of power shift ever more into his court. So he simply pulled her to him and silently made love to her again.

They began seeing each other nearly everytime the girl was in Boston, with our hero being careful to disappoint her occasionally by being tied up at work. Although he didn't much feel like it he continued to date a woman he'd been seeing for the past year, sometimes even when the girl he loved was in town. The stewardess in turn began openly and aggressively to suggest they get engaged. "Soon," our Ironman would reply. "I'm just not sure I'm quite ready yet."

"How can you say that?" she railed. "I'm so crazy about you. I can't stand being apart from you." Inside he felt the same, but he'd be damned if he was going to let her know.

"Well, can't we at least agree not to date anyone else?" she asked. Somehow, although in true Ironman fashion he'd never mentioned the other woman to her (more about this in a separate chapter), she'd sensed there was another woman in his life. The young Ironman felt he was now in sure enough control to allow the girl a small victory.

"Okay," he allowed, "we won't see other people." Privately, he wondered if she somehow weren't screwing every pilot she met, but for some reason he sensed that her passion for him had escalated to the point where other men were of little interest to her. Women are often like that. When they're mad about a man they're not sure of, they often have absolutely no interest in anyone else. Not till they somehow feel certain of him. And the Ironman was not about to allow her to feel that way. Not for the rest of her life.

After several months of dating each other exclusively, she suggested he move to California, so they could be together more often. Once again our hero was sorely tempted. He loved San Francisco, the weather, Northern California, the mountains, the bay, Napa Valley. But he refused. "You move here," he countered. "My job is too important to me." The girl readily agreed and was able to get the airline to switch her to a ground job so that she wouldn't have to spend several nights a week out of town.

Of course she'd wanted to move in with the Ironman, but true to his strategy he suggested it would be wiser for her to get her own place, at least for awhile, till they were completely and absolutely sure they were right for each other. " But I've been sure the first time I ever laid eyes on you," she responded. "Aren't you?"

How quickly we forget, thought the Ironman. "I'm getting there," he responded. "I'm getting there."

Six months went by and the relationship continued to flourish, with the girl constantly pressing for them to get engaged. "Soon," the young man would reply. "Soon." And although they continued to see each other almost every night, the Ironman would make sure every once in a while to spend an evening out with the boys, suggesting at the same time that she spend and evening with her friends. "But I don't really feel like it," she'd reply. "I'd rather be with you."

"Yes," he'd say, "but it's healthy for us not to become overly dependent on each other." In truth, he would just as soon have spent the evening with her, but he was resolute on keeping the upper hand, on making her feel that she needed him more than he needed her.

Game playing, you say. So be it. Life is full of games, of strategizing, and the Ironman knows that if he is going to achieve what he wants then there will be times when he must act with a certain icy self- interest, when he must say and, more importantly, do things that run counter to his instincts to be soft, to be self-indulgent, to be accomodating, to take the easy way out.

What makes it all worthwhile, you will find out, is that after awhile acting like an Ironman starts to feel more and more like a natural part of your personality so that one day, perhaps when you're thirty- two or thirty-eight or forty-one or fifty-six you will have become an

Ironman who does the Ironman thing naturally, instinctively. In short, you will have become an Ironman and Ironman behavior will be your true norm and weak, self-destructive impulses will be as difficult for you to act on as strong, patient, tough-minded ones may be now.

Another six months went by, and the girl was actually beginning to show signs of the strain the relationship was having on her. She lost weight, was having trouble sleeping, questioned the young man occasionally if he loved her. Sometimes she wondered aloud if he was having an affair. He began to sense that she really and truly loved him, that he was terribly important to her, that she wasn't caught up in some momentary infatuation but had bonded with him deeply and profoundly. In short, he had her where he'd always longed to have her. And so he asked her to marry him.

He was overwhelmed by her response. She broke into tears of true joy and wept openly for the entire evening. "I've never been so happy in all my life," she said over and over again. "I've never been so happy."

They were married in a big, elaborate, traditional wedding at her family's home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, two mature young people in their early thirties whose relationship had had its ups and downs and one that had survived a long and testing courtship. One had the sense that this was a relationship that was going to last, and so far, twelve years and three children later, it has.

But the Ironman continues to keep the upper hand, to be strong, at times a little distant, to keep her guessing, for he remembers how painful it was to have lost her, how desperate and out of control he felt. And he knows he never wants to feel that way again.