Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A guest blogger blogs on the blog!

A Modest Proposal to Attain the Perfect Mate
by Jonathan

First off, I want to thank Sarah for the honor of being a guest on her marquee blog. As a loyal SeeSarahBlog reader, I will do my best to uphold her standards for wit, passion, and journalistic integrity.

For those NYT readers out there, today’s article on Friends with Benefits, reminded me of an evolving theory of mine.

Context: I was recently quoted as saying that women (or men) could be viewed as a ‘portfolio of skills and attributes’, the relative importance of each skill/attribute depends on the specific tastes and preferences of the seeker, coupled with the seeker’s life circumstances. (e.g., a conservative man may value spiritual attributes and domestic skills higher than a young New Yorker). While my original motivation for postulating this theory was rooted in shock value, looking back – I think I was on to something.

In the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis, the Oakland A’s were faced with a predicament when they lost Jason Giambi to the Yankees. How do you replace such a complete player when you can only afford to pay half his market value? The A’s figured out a way to decompose Giambi into the core statistics that made him so great and then synthetically reconstructed those statistics with a combination of cheaper players….so they, in effect, retained the combinatorial effects of Giambi, without having to pay for it.

My point: Would it not be much more efficient and effective to not dismiss those that don’t meet all our requirements, in the obnoxious quest to find ‘the one’, and instead componentize our interactions across several people, effectively achieving all the benefits of having the perfect mate?

Note…I am not advocating polygamy as that would actually compound all the negatives under one roof. This is more of a virtual sharing, a societal understanding if you will. “I am not hanging out with your wife because I want to sleep with her, but because her attribute of enjoying football fulfills a component within my portfolio of needs that encompass the perfect woman.” Yes, I could watch football with the boys, but that’s not the point…we are about achieving the net effect of having the perfect mate.

How many times have you met someone and said, “Wow, I really like this and this about you, but that and that unfortunately precludes a sustainable, committed relationship…so good luck in your quest and have a nice life”. Under my system, the interaction would go more like this…”Wow, I really like this and this about you, those qualities fit into my portfolio of needs and I would like bolt them onto my synthetic dream person. I will reserve 10% of my time to appreciate this and this about you, and you can continue your quest to find someone that appreciates that and that about you, but at least we are both 10% of the way there!” Each interaction with a new person would bring you one step closer to constructing the perfect mate, however minute the percentage, as opposed to the current ‘all or nothing’ decisions we are making now. Without a doubt, these all or nothing decisions are suboptimal and prevent us from being as happy as we should be.

Women, recount your frustrations with those wonderful boyfriends that would have been ‘the one’ if they would only have listened to you talk about your fascinating childhood pet ‘Slippers’ or gone shopping with you at Bloomingdales and lovingly sacrificed their afternoons while you patiently made up your mind about which pair of pants goes best with your silver top. Now, it would be perfectly acceptable for you to pull your artist friend Pierre off the bench to laugh about ‘Slippers’ foibles and take a point of view on whether denim complements silver. It may be me, but I only see upside here.

To be Fair: There are some limitations to my theory. 1. Timing: your schedule and your portfolio’s schedule may not always coincide perfectly to optimize your pinnacled happiness, however, let’s be honest, there are always substitutes available to meet most needs, especially when we break down our needs and requirements into discreet packets, or quanta. Plus, as we are comparing this scheduling constraint to the all or nothing option, we are certainly better off so this should all be viewed in relative measure. 2. Biblical constraints: I suppose the bible/Koran/etc would frown on such behavior, so the gentiles may have to pilot the experiment, but remember how much religion has changed over the years based on societal shifts…I’m confident the happiness attained by the flock will inspire a revelation of some sort. Isn’t that how Joseph Smith came up with the polygamist revelation in the first place?

Conclusion: Knowing that you are no longer limited by the skills and attributes of one person, all those ‘Dear Diary’ descriptions of the perfect mate should no longer be viewed as unattainable. I think people, in fact, would work harder to both understand themselves and what others have to offer. With our interactions spread across more people, I’m not talking conjugal interactions…you can still maintain monogamy under my system, the fabric of our society would weave tighter and we could be one step closer to world peace.

Comments welcome.


Daniel said...

You had me at conjugal interactions.

ellie said...

Fitzy, I believe the concept you have so elaborately described here is known as friendship. Congratulations: you have just reinvented "having friends."

Interestingly, though, taken to its natural conclusion, your argument suggests that it would be beneficial to decompose our needs as much as possible in order to find the person who most deeply satisfies each discreet need, thus making us happiest. This has at least two troubling potential implications:
1) We become so focused on finding "the right one" for each need that we are now agonizing over finding "the right 27" which, frankly, will require many more diaries.
2) People begin to specialize in their roles, as in any free market, and we lose our ability to fulfill more than one need at a time: Jason Giambis become extinct, and we are overrun with "good listeners" and "boytoys."

In conclusion: Do I think that people having more and closer friends will accomplish world peace? Not without more and closer conjugal interactions it won't.

Sarah said...

Fitz, do you want to be my friend who buys me clothes? Because I need one of those. I am also in the market for a friend who gets free concert tickets and a friend who wants to watch The L Word with me. Conversely, I can be the friend who will eventually introduce you to the guy who said "Inconceivable!" over and over again in The Princess Bride. Is that on your list? If not, what's wrong with you?
Oh my god! I just figured it out! You hang out with me because I have a blog.

Jonathan said...

To Sarah: as my perfect mate would have a blog...that is the need you satisfy. As for my value to you, I'm happy being the one that summarizes the most important points from each month's Men's Health for you.

To Ellie: to your point #2: Is specialization such a bad thing? At least the 'boy toys' can be honest with themselves, stop trying to be something they're not and avoid being average at everything. I know I don't need to explain trade theory to a fellow econ major.

to your point #1:...you may have me on that one, damn you!

Joe said...

Heady stuff, Guys. In the 60's we would have said, "Heavy!" You're way beyond "deepish."