So you think men and women are just about equal in the modern world, do you? Equally hireable? Equally trustable? Equally intelligent? Equally accomplished?
What if I told you that a silly little business card separates them?
That's the word from my old buddy, Tom Curtis, also known as Tommy the Matchmaker.
Tom is proprietor of the Yacht Club, a meeting and mating place in Bethesda that caters to the over-30, over-minimum-wage crowd. He's a legend for helping marriages (and remarriages) flower.
His hitchings and engagements total is 134 -- perhaps more by the weekend, with any luck. This makes Tom a tenured professor in the discipline called What's Up With Adult Singles?
When we kicked that question around the other day, Tommy had an interesting take:
Even though women carry and use business cards every second of the business day, they often won't bring a business card with them to the Yacht Club. Tommy estimates that 30 percent of women who possess cards fail to take them along when they visit his place.
That means a budding relationship can get doused with weed killer before it has a chance.
Picture this encounter. He eyeballs She. She eyeballs He. He chats up She. He buys a drink for She. He tells She that He'd like to call her one fine day. He offers She his business card, by way of further introduction. She offers him . . . nothing.
Maybe she forgot to bring cards. Maybe she has cards and doesn't want to appear to be leading the guy on. Maybe she doesn't like the guy and doesn't want matters to continue. Maybe she has a boss who wouldn't appreciate her taking a social call at the office. Maybe all of the above.
Tommy thinks it's more basic. He thinks women are uncomfortable about offering a card to a strange man -- even when they've come to his place so they can meet strange men.
Women don't think business cards should be used for a social purpose, Tommy theorizes. Meanwhile, men "always" use business cards for social purposes in the same way that they use them for business purposes, Tommy says.
So what happens when a She lacks a card to give a He? According to Tom, one of three things.
* The guy will ask for the woman's number and write it in ink on his hand (you thought high school was ages ago for these people?).
* The guy will write the woman's phone number on a cocktail napkin. But then he's odds on to place a drink on it, according to Tom. Physics being what it is, moisture will creep across the napkin -- and obliterate the phone number.
* Worst of all: the $20 bill stunt.
According to Tommy, a guy looking to impress a woman with his wealth will ask for her number. Then he'll whip out a roll of bills and write the number on the $20 bill on top of the clump.
What's that I hear?
A huge cry of "Tack-y-y-y-y-y-y-y"?
"Of course, five minutes later, the guy will use that 20 to buy a drink for another woman," Tom said. Bye-bye to the first woman's phone number.
Obviously, it would be more efficient if every woman who visits a meet-'em place carried (and used) business cards. But women still want to be wooed, says Tom. They aren't looking to "close the deal" in the first 15 seconds, as men so often are.
Tom didn't say so, but I'll bet some men aren't so quick to lay a business card on an attractive woman if their jobs don't have snazz appeal.
If your card says you're a press aide to a senator, hey, wow. If your card says you collect rare left-handed goldfish, hey, no.
Men are still the ones who make the first move, says Tom. They also reach for the pack of business cards first. Some things never change. Some things probably never will.
Say this much for Citibank. The company may not be willing to halt the come-ons it mails to potential credit card customers. But it's willing to tell a customer how to stanch the flow herself.
In a column this month, I told of a woman who has spent barrels of sweat and tears trying to get Citibank to leave her alone. Citibank simply won't. So the woman has decided to charge the bank for her time and suffering. A great take on a very annoying problem, I wrote.
Asked to comment, Maria Mendler, a spokeswoman for Citibank, said the bank continues to solicit "dry" prospects because "something may pique their interest next time." She said people may need credit cards at one time in their lives, but not others.
And then she told the world how to avoid Citibank (and many other) solicitations.
Just call 1-888-5OPTOUT. Your name and address will be removed from the databases of the four major credit reporting agencies. This will work for any company that uses these agencies. Most big companies do, including Citibank.
To strike yourself from direct marketing lists, write to Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, N.Y., 10512. If you want a divorce from telephone lists, write to DMA, Telephone Preference Service, P.O. Box 1559, Carmel, N.Y., 10512. Supply your first, middle and last names, your address and the area code and telephone number of your home phone.
By the way, Gerald J. McKiernan, media relations manager for the U.S. Postal Service, was one of several readers who were frosted by the term "junk mail." Gerald asked me to use "advertising mail" instead.
I suspect Brother McKiernan also calls used cars "previously owned." Sorry, but Levey does not allow gussied-up phraseology. He is partial to compromises, however.
"Sale mail," anyone?