So my friend Bob and I are wooing the same woman. That this is fictional should already be apparent, as no one has used the word "wooing" seriously in about 40 years. Suspend your disbelief for a moment.

I've gone on a few dates with her and she seems nice. Bob has done the same. The time has come to take the relationship to the next level, so she has to choose. We are both decent guys, and not without our respective merits. Bob and I each get one final date to make our pitch. I go first and promise that, despite my gargoyle-like appearance and mouth like a longshoreman, I'm loyal, supportive, and funny. And I do a lot of housework to boot, should we ever move in together. She seems pleased. I like my chances.

After she meets with Bob, he and I convene to talk about our experiences.

I relay that my experience was positive and I think she has an interest in me. Bob agrees; "I felt like you were going to be the choice, so I had to sweeten the deal." What does that mean, I ask? "Well", Bob replies, "I offered to pay her rent. And to buy her a car. And I guaranteed that I'd come over once weekly to clean her house."

"Jesus", say I.

"And do her laundry."

"Oh, Bob. That's…that's pitiful. Have a little dignity."

"Save the sour grapes for another time," Bob says. "I think you're just jealous. And upset that she picked the better man."

This actually worked? "Yes," Bob tells me. "It's official. She and I are now a couple." While I find this surprising and sad, I realize that a woman who would choose a partner based on such criteria must be fickle, shallow, and altogether incapable of long term commitment. I am better off without her, and to Bob I wish nothing but the best in what is likely to be a bad relationship. Unfortunately Bob and I aren't very close anymore, as he seems to derive great pleasure from gloating about his superiority over me and his desirability as a mate as evidenced by his ability to snag this questionable excuse for a woman. "Bob," I say gently, "she picked you because you're basically paying her to be your girlfriend. She might think you're a total loser for all you know." The words fall on deaf ears. He is proud of his "accomplishment." I pity him.

Then self doubt sets in. Should I have done more? Am I undesirable? Will I be alone forever? Is this what it takes to find a partner these days, and I need to get with the program? Rejection is never easy to deal with and all of these negative thoughts are natural responses to it. Ultimately, though, I tell myself that I did the right thing. She was cool but I'm not about to start paying people to date me. That makes absolutely no sense. Then again, I suppose the rationality depends entirely on how desperate one is to be in a relationship.

Neat story, right? And on a totally unrelated note that I will leave here for no particular reason, two counties in Georgia just outbid several other sad sack states (both Carolinas, Mississippi, etc.) for a new Caterpillar factory and 1000 to 1400 jobs. All it cost them was $60-80 million in incentives and the promise of a docile workforce that would be thrilled to get $11/hr.