In the mid-to-late 1800s, dating only happened from April to July. Enter rainy April single, leave July with the perfect flower of a girlfriend. This timing is ideal for me, Eric, a 28-year-old marketing associate, because seasonal affective disorder renders me socially incompetent in the winter months, and my signature look of black jeans and Chelsea boots renders me too sweaty to date in late summer. Coincidentally, like a true Victorian gentleman, I prefer pale complexions, and Brooklyn women are most pasty in early spring. The only potential conflict is that Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres in April, but since I expect my perfect pale girlfriend flower to respect the sanctity of #GOT, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Language of the Fan
In ye Olde Days, one could tell whether or not a lady was single by how rapidly she waved her fan. In the era of fickle Facebook relationship statuses (thanks, Russia!), it’s important to have a reliable way of knowing whether or not a woman has a hot-blooded boyfriend at home. Given fans are not so common these days (thanks, China!), I suggest replacing the fan with a copy of any Elena Ferrante novel. As a sapiosexual, I like girls that read Elena Ferrante, and the paperbacks are slim enough to wave vigorously (single) or slowly (taken/her loss).
Instead of the Wild West atmosphere of Tinder or Hinge, introductions happen at balls. Eligible women don their lowest-cut dresses and most alabaster Glossier makeups. Each miss has a dance card. If I find one desirable, I write my name on her card. If my name is on her card, she must, by law, dance with me. As a Male Feminist, I do realize the problematic nature of this practice, but hey, I didn’t invent Victorian courtship etiquette, I simply suggest we bring it back and follow it to a male-centric T. During our dance, the lady can judge my interest by the way my eyes linger on her décolletage or how my hands wander towards her derriere. It is actually more dashing if I don’t speak, and I may wear a partial mask if I’m feeling insecure about the recent onset of my adult acne. Partial masks are acceptable—have you not seen Phantom of the Opera?; full masks are frowned-upon—have you not seen The Purge? Regardless of how you answer those questions, my girlflower will be forced to watch them for they are my favorite entertainments.
The Formal Call
Once I choose a strong, ahem, frail, candidate, I need not visit Yelp.com and scramble to find a posh Japanese whiskey den. I need not further max out my credit card. I simply visit that jammiest bit of jam at her parents’ uptown mansion. We play cards as they ply me with tea and cakes. Her spinster aunt serves as the chaperone, which is fortuitous because I’ve always preferred group dates such as bowling or Settlers of Catan. We keep it light. No politics. No border wall. Touching is not allowed, so I need not play the exhausting read-the-body-language-in-the-back-of-the-Lyft game. Everyone feels lovely and tea-drunk.
Going for a Chaperoned Walk
I will likely change this to a Chaperoned Bike Ride. I build fixed-gear bikes for disadvantaged seeing-eye dogs in my spare time. It’s important that the woman I choose exudes femininity but can keep up on two wheels riding sidesaddle. This would be a test of that. The chaperoness can hook up to my GoPro to monitor from the comfort of her wing-backed chair.
The extended family has me for dinner. The menu allows me to administer a second test as to whether the potential fiancée has paid close attention to my lectures over the course of our courtship. If the food is exceedingly spicy, exotic, and there are no raspberries, olives, oil, water, or calories from fat in any of the 20+ dishes, she passes. I impress the family with my knowledge of natural ice wines and improvisational comedy as I play footsy under the table with my soon-to-be bride or (!) her ravishing younger sister, who must be named Genevieve. I’m quite good at footsy. I remove one boot, which is unexpected.
The Marriage Proposal
Is in writing. There’s no need to concoct an elaborate scavenger hunt across town or hire a photographer to hide in a lighthouse on the Maine Coast. There’s also no need to face the possibility of rejection head-on. Instead, I type a 10,000-word treatise on my antique typewriter, mail it to her father, and just like that, I’m espoused.
The Engagement Ring
I’d have to take out my Chase Sapphire at this point in the love story, but she would too! That’s right, women often gifted men an engagement ring of their own. Mine would be sapphire, to match my eyes and my credit card.
This all ends with the greatest courtship crown known to the race of man: the wedding dowry. Any sort of dowry is acceptable to me: livestock, a chest filled with linens, an army or political alliance à la Westeros, (not to be gouche but) cash. Once I receive the dowry, I’ll retire to my new country estate West of Chester, where I’ll sire heirloom root vegetables and pale children and live in bliss forever.
And if it doesn’t work out…divorce was frowned upon in the Victorian era, but not forbidden. I would keep the dowry and the sapphire, my sun-tanned succubus of an ex be damned!