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The Column

Don't Feed the Alpha Males
6/15/03

When I'm at a bar with a few friends and the night is not spicy enough to hold my attention, I have come up with the perfect solution - throw ice.

At least that's what some no-necked classmates of mine used to do on lazy Thursday nights. It's a quick way to generate hatred from your fellow bar-goers, which would instantly make anyone's night better.

I have a little man in my head whose job it is to remind me not to throw ice at people. He's due for a promotion soon, since I've never even thought of doing it. Hopefully, you've got that same little man working for you. If he's on a break, on strike, or never seems to show up on time, you are probably a bar jerk.

The impressive thing about bar jerks is that they can be bar jerks in any situation, even without the presence of alcohol. These same guys can elbow you out of the way to catch an elevator, catcall at your girlfriend while your arm is around her, and peel out of a parking space to get caught behind a red light. The bar jerk is a mere annoyance and often amounts to nothing. Which is ironic, since the route of the bar jerk's behavior is the galactically mistaken impression that he is more important than you.

The bar jerk's intelligence can vary. He may be a football player or a med student, or a football playing med student. But he throws ice, which puts him on an evolutionary par with the Cro-Magnon man and Howard Stern.

In some ways, I am the stereotypical classification of an Alpha Male. I played on seven intramural teams in college. I watch SportsCenter more than once a day, and often consecutively. I was the social chair of my school's Greek Council. I don't let a conversation go on in front of me without butting in. And my job is to get on a stage and entertain people. But the day I throw ice at you is the day someone sets you on fire.

My friends and I pride ourselves on being regular guys. We are guys that prefer conversation to blank stares. Guys that are equally comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt as we are in khakis and a polo. Guys that will call our girlfriends when we want to talk to them. Hell, we are guys that are willing to call someone our girlfriend in the first place.

If you're a guy reading this and wondering if you are an Alpha Male, you're probably not. An Alpha Male has already known he is an Alpha Male ever since he got in trouble for hitting on his third grade teacher. But more importantly, you are willingly reading something that does not contain pictures or statistics, virtually eliminating the possibility of your Alpha Maleness.

When I meet another guy, I can't always tell right away if he's a displaced bar jerk or not. When I meet him through a girl, I can always tell. Especially if one of us is dating her.

If he actively seeks conversation, he's usually a good guy. If he closes up, puts his arm around the girl, or insults me before he knows my last name, he is just a jerk marking his territory. And if he pees on her, well, maybe they're into that but it's not my style.

The reason why quality girls are left single is because they've been scorched by so many bar jerks that they inadvertently become very picky. They need to be sure not to repeat their poor choice, and thus are scared that the slightest male behavior will lead to ice-throwing. Bar jerks ruin it for the rest of us. In economic terms, quality guys are not competition for other quality guys. They just inflate the market demand. On the flipside, bar jerks are not worth the ice they throw at each other. Even if they're on fire.

So here's to the guys that hold the door open for people, regardless of gender. Here's to the guys that enjoy fancy dinners on anniversaries. Here's to the guys that walk someone home without the express intent of getting some, know how to cook more than cereal, and actually own a book. Maybe more than one. And here's to the guys that have enough respect for themselves that they can spare enough for the people around them.

Ladies - next time you meet a quality guy, make sure you appreciate how easy it would have been for him to be a bar jerk. Be happy that he has bucked the stereotype and come out a decent human being. Smile at how he actually listens to more than the rustling of your sweater when you stretch. Maybe even buy him a drink. On the rocks.

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