As if you didn't know . . . Guide: A book by three men claims to tell women what it is that guys want. Two Baltimore bachelors comment.

August 04, 1998|By Judith Forman | Judith Forman,SUN STAFF

The 17,428 shelves of dating guides at your local bookstore have recently become one book more crowded.

This one says men will take advantage of women who let them.

You don't say!

This one also says that men are turned off by women who play hard to get, that men's natural inclination is to have sex with many women, that a woman's looks are almost everything and that men cheat on the women they love.

"What Men Want: Three Professional Single Men Reveal to Women What It Takes to Make a Man Yours" (Cliff Street Books/HarperCollins Publishing, $19) has joined the swelling ranks of romance recipe books such as "Secrets About Men Every Woman Should Know," "Attracting Terrific People," "What Men Really Want" and the beyond-hyped "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" and "The Rules."

"What Men Want" was written by three Long Island high school buddies: Bradley Gerstman, 30, now a lawyer in New York; Christopher Pizzo, 29, a CPA in New York; and Rich Seldes, 30, a doctor in Philadelphia (and a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University). They offer their tips for women on subjects ranging from the first encounter, phone call and date to sex, loving and the relationship. The book is based on one premise: "Weed out Mr. Wrong, Nurture Mr. Right."

The authors stress the word "professional" throughout the book, describing themselves as "the guy in the suit on the subway, the clean-cut guy drinking Dewars at the bar, the athletic guy jogging in the park, ... ambitious, well-educated, family-oriented men."

The three say they've not been deluged with hate mail from women calling them sexist pigs or from men complaining that they've given away all the tricks of the dating trade.

"Women have basically come up to us and said, 'Thank you, it's about time,' " Pizzo said. "A lot of it is a little hard to digest, but the honesty outweighs the ugly truths. Men have said it is endearing, well-written and sensitive to women."

We asked a couple of men from Baltimore magazine's 1997 list of the city's hottest singles to read the book and comment. Here's what they had to say:

Scott Huffines, 34, owner of Atomic Books, an alternative, eclectic bookstore. Status: single.

"I thought it was really, really cheesy," Huffines said. "I was cracking up every other page. It was very stereotypical -- like a bad episode of 'Friends.' "

His biggest overall criticism: It stated the obvious.

"If a woman was raised on a desert island by wolves, it would be good for her," he said. "I would assume women know what men want."

Huffines agreed with some of the book's seemingly outrageous statements: Men are turned off by hard-to-get games ("I don't even try -- I give up easy"); the way to a man's heart is through his ego ("true, men are basically insecure, even more so around women"); men cheat on the women they love ("I don't, but I don't know about the general population. If they do, they don't really love them"); and men are inclined to sleep with many women ("If they can manage it, they will").

He even found truth in the author's assertion that when it comes to sex, men still believe in the double standard.

Huffines said the section advising women to "Use Your Body to Let Him Know Your Mind" (look at him, raise your eyebrows and tip your drink as if to toast him, wave or mouth hello) too strongly told women how to act.

Huffines offered his own advice to women who want to know what men really look for in an ideal woman: Be available, make the first move, open up the lines of communication, have their own hobbies and interests and be sure to set up an e-mail account, which "makes things a whole lot easier to get to know them."

But, ladies, beware: Don't plan on owning "What Men Want" if you want a chance to date Huffines.

"I would be mortified if I went to someone's house I was dating and saw this on their bookshelf," he said. "I would run out screaming."

Don Mellinger, 49, president of Site Support Services, a commercial air-conditioning and electric contractor. Status: Engaged

The information in the book "was pretty much true of most guys out there," Mellinger said.

"These guys really emphasized the professional thing too much. ... They reminded me of professional cave men."

As a self-described "die-hard old-fashioned romantic type," Mellinger said he thought the book focused too much on sexual relationships. He especially took issue with the authors' recommendation to refrain from sexual intercourse until at least the fifth date. Mellinger thinks couples should wait longer.

The authors "seemed to always be leading into a relationship that quickly leads into a sexual relationship," he said. "This was love -- New York-style."

He did agree with some scattered points, such as the ideas that "A woman has the power to invigorate a man or to crush him" and "Men appreciate women who take the initiative."

But he found no truth in the section about the importance of guys' nights out: how every man needs to bond with his brethren and take part in male-bonding experiences.

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