Listen up, studs. If, like all real men, you spend most of your time planning ways of getting horizontal with the hotties, I have some urgent advice: Change your reading habits. Throw away those lad mags with articles about death sports, cars that go zero to 60 in a spit and photographs of Elisha Cuthbert in a thong. Instead, curl up with a copy of Cosmo for the evening.
Here's the thing: Men's magazines know nothing about women.
The truth is men have been giving other men terrible advice about women forever. You probably heard the seduction rap from those older guys who hung around the park in high school. Scope out some honey at a club, ask her how she likes the music, then look deep in her eyes, sticking your thumbs in your belt loops so they point toward your crotch. If that isn't subliminal enough, pepper your conversation with words that almost rhyme with "sex" or "orgasm."
If you try to follow any of this advice, prepare to be shot without the mercy of a blindfold or last cigarette. That's what happened to my friend Bert, a notorious strike-out king. One night, he ambled down to the local watering hole, where he saw an attractive young woman and decided to try the script. He approached her and asked her how she liked the music.
She liked it a lot. Turned out she was living with the DJ and she expounded for four hours about the finer distinctions between Thai trip-hop, ambient techno and supersonic house acid bebop while he tried to stoke her ardour with a steady stream of Jagermeister shots. Every few minutes, he'd say something like "My uncle once had an angiospasm" to no effect. By the end of the night, as Bert was helping the DJ boyfriend load his sound system into a van, all he had to show for his efforts were an empty wallet and red lines on his thumbs.
Bert was disappointed and, like many disappointed men before him, he found himself, in the wee hours of the morning, leafing through men's magazines at the 24-hour convenience store. He had just finished reading a page-turner in Maxim when his eye strayed to the right side of the rack where the women's magazines were. It was then that Bert had his epiphany.
Scanning the images of glazed beauties with open-mouthed pouts, it occurred to him that some of the most industrious minds of our time have been dedicating themselves for years to answering the very question he craved: What do women find fascinating?
There they were laid out enticingly before him -- Allure, Chatelaine, Cosmo, Elle, Glamour, Jane, Marie Claire, Flare and Vogue -- a host of lovelies ready to unfold their perfumed mysteries before him.
Women, he learned, are as devoted to sex as he is. The word appeared on every cover. He was relieved to discover that women are not obsessed with size unless it comes to waists and hips -- though they are unequivocally obsessed with questions of amount: "342 ways to sensationalize your summer wardrobe!" "213 hairdos for the many sides of you!"
Women are also intrigued with names that begin with J: Jessica, J. Lo, Julia, Jennifer. And Johnny Depp. He learned that women fear jiggly thighs and molesting doctors, are desperate to lose 10 pounds in 10 days and want to learn hundreds of ways to drive a man wild in bed. Bert, who had always felt that "naked, female and present" were sufficient conditions, was humbled by his oceanic ignorance.
Today, Bert, who subscribes to several thousands of dollars worth of women's magazines, is a new man. For starters, he has changed his name to Jasper.
He is now a walking encyclopedia of fizzy fun facts -- the best kicky new twirl-ready skirts for summer, the ancient Aztec ingredients in J. Lo's body cream, Jennifer Aniston's secret heartache, how to choose a dermatologist and how to know if your secret crush is crushing on you. He lives the life of a Hugh-Hefner-style early-seventies swinger, with so many paramours running through in his bachelor pad that Casanova might weep with envy. There has been a price to pay: The women seem more like "subscribers" than actual girlfriends, and I'm afraid Bert has achieved bliss at the cost of turning himself into a kind of living publication.
Just the other day, I ran into Sandi, the incarnation of contemporary womanity. She was at the end of her lunch hour, barrelling out of a high-end cosmetics shop.
"Tell me," I said. "Do you really care at all for my friend or are you just using him to save yourself a fortune in magazines?"
With a dismissive wave of one Prada-clad arm, she said: "Look, I'm a busy modern woman who has to have it all and Jasper knows just what I need. He's a breeze to talk to and amazingly efficient. After I've spent a couple of hours between the covers with him, I'm good for another month."
Liam Lacey is a movie critic with The Globe and Mail.