The Rulebook

Dear Friends:

As a practical person, I am a lover of clear-cut situations, yes-no answers, and reliable consistency. I work well with rules, and establishing, then adhering to, systems. I like to know that x + y will always equal z. However, in the realm of human behavior, all of this logic fails me completely.

Now, I have a confession to make, and I’m hoping you all don’t go using this as emotional kryptonite on me, because that’s just playing dirty. For the most part, I have absolutely no idea what you’re thinking. Your intentions, your feelings, your motivations… they’re all a complete mystery. For a long time, I made the mistake of assuming that everyone thought the same way I do, and, well, after a few Hindenburg-scale disasters, I abandoned that concept, and retreated into a kind of mystical wonderment instead. I felt a little better after Meyers-Briggs managed to quantify my issue:

Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ’s Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations. INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand. Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense.

Of course, that doesn’t help me any, but it’s still a relief, like finally getting a diagnosis for that mystery illness. God help me, I have interpersonal cancer.

So, the problem-solving girl has a plan. Realizing there’s no way I can quantify others’ behavior, I can at least account for my own. I need a rulebook, an essential guidebook to my actions and their underlying motivations. Ten or fifteen easy rules, which can eventually be condensed down to fit on a handy wallet-sized reference card or glossy brochure. And when I shake your hand for the first time and hand you your very own copy of the Guide to Me, you’ll never have to wonder what I’m thinking again.

Nice, right? Good.

All I have to do now is write my rules. The first one is something my friends and I have been discussing for some time now, and the source of much frustration for pretty much every person (particularly every female person) I know. Let me be the first to confirm this in a completely binary, black-and-white way:

Rule One: I will not touch you unless I want to sleep with you1.

a) I will touch you in case of emergency, or if human decency demands it. For example, after I pull myself from the burning wreckage of my jackknifed tanker truck, I will drag your body to the safety of a ramshackle farm outbuilding, despite my broken ribs, and apply a tourniquet to your severed leg. Then I will contact the authorities and wait patiently, repeatedly assuring you that you will, indeed, survive. I’ll probably even go find the leg, unless it was consumed by the resultant inferno, so it can be reattached by a team of skilled surgeons in a 30-hour miracle operation. I can’t guarantee that I won’t use your leg as a prop in a joke while we’re waiting for the paramedics, however. Just remember I’m only doing it to make you laugh, and therefore keep you conscious and alert.

b) I am known to hug occasionally, and I am aware that sometimes this may muddy the waters as far as clear interpretation. I’m sorry for that. Deal with it.

c) This rule only applies to me initiating the touching. If, for example, you hug me, I will likely return the gesture, even if what I’d really like to do is knee you in the groin.

d) This rule does not apply in reverse. If I don’t touch you, don’t assume that means I don’t want to sleep with you. I might. You’ll just have to figure that out for yourself, I guess.

OK, I think I’m off to a good start here. I’ll work on condensing the disclaimers so they can be read in under 20 minutes. After some brainstorming, drafting, and initial market testing in local malls, I should be good to go. I have to say that I’m really looking forward to the day when we can meet, exchange guides, and live in blissful harmony together for the rest of our lives.


1‘Sleep with’ in the vernacular sense, meaning, ‘engage in sexual congress3 with’, or more simply, ‘hump’.

2Don’t fool yourself, there are always disclaimers. Things can’t possibly be that black-and-white. I’ll keep them simple.

3If I ran for sexual congress, could I count on your vote?

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