Traditional sitcoms catch a bad rap for being stale, slow, and shallow. Juxtaposed with smart, tight shows like “30 Rock” and “Modern Family” the criticism seems well-deserved. Yet sitcoms still excel at certain things, such as identifying common behavioral patterns and caricaturing them so frequently that you’d think there could be no more horse left to beat until another episode arrives on the scene with a baseball bat, further reinforcing the behavior.
Case in point: single men using puppies to attract other singles. The shtick definitely has life beyond providing a trope for the writers of “How I Met Your Mother” and “Will and Grace.” In college I personally witnessed many a young man’s four-legged chick magnet scheming, and I recently stumbled upon a how-to article providing fairly detailed instruction (see http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Use-A-Dog-To-Pick-Up-A-Woman&id=808719) which concludes: “Finally when you are ready to leave, make sure you tell her how much your dog enjoyed meeting her. Women find this endearing and it may make them want to see you again.” For sure. There’s nothing a woman hates more than being forthrightly complimented on her engaging conversation and/or appearance. Much more effective to use a canine intermediary.
One family, order, genus, and species removed, there’s the “pick up babes with babes” gimmick (see generally http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PickUpBabesWithBabes, including Raven Simone’s assurance to Will Smith’s character on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” that “[w]hen you take me to the parks, I can pick up more babes than a puppy.”). Though hugely popular in the sitcom universe, this dramatic vehicle never seemed to have any basis in reality. Sure, it has become clear to me that for those in their thirties, toddlers are the new cigarettes. “How old is s/he?” replaces “got a light?” as the number one socially acceptable starter of conversation between strangers. But doesn’t custody of a child generally suggest that the guardian already possesses a mate?
Apparently not. Executing a permutation not yet made infamous by sitcom adaptation, a random late-30-or-early-40-something recently stopped me on the street as Viv and I left the gym.
Guy: She’s adorable.
Guy: Is the father involved with you two?
Guy: That’s great! (Bows head and scurries away.)
Like an unwittingly campy sitcom, he picked me up all right, just not quite in the intended manner.