MAD DOG: Mating Call or Rejection Notice?

There's little question that people give off signals about sex. If you pay close attention you can tell if another person is open to the possibility of sex, dying to have sex, not interested in sex, or a nun. Granted the last of these is generally easier to pick up on than the others, but don't be so sure. Many nuns don't wear habits anymore which makes it difficult to tell if the support hose, sensible shoes, and ruler in her hand are for religious, medical, or S&M reasons. Come to think of it, no matter how you look at it they're not good signs.

The key phrase here is "if you pay close attention." Most people, unfortunately, don't have a clue about these signs, especially men. We show the same insight and understanding we did during high school when quizzed about Dickens. In fact, to this day we still think of the Playboy Advisor as "Great Expectations." And yes, we consider movies like "Saving Ryan's Privates" to be a sex education film, but what's wrong with that? Are you saying when a woman answers the door and says "Thanks for the pizza" she doesn't really mean "Do me now, big boy"?

Basically a man works under the assumption that as long as a woman isn't snoring she wants to have sex with him. This just isn't true. I've had any number of women snore during sex. Women, on the other hand, have their own misconceptions about sex. For one, they think that any guy who buys them a drink, talks to their chest, and casually asks whether they prefer ribbed or unribbed condoms is only after sex. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Men are just naturally inquisitive. Why do you think we ask questions like "What's your sign?", "Are you wearing thongs or briefs?", and "Names shmames, do you want to go to my place or yours?" And women say we don't show any interest in them.

This really shouldn't be so difficult. After all, Animals don't have this problem. All you have to do is watch the Discovery Channel for a few minutes and you'll see mating rituals galore. Birds puff up their chests, lizards do funny dances, and that Crocodile Hunter guy shows off his latest catch, all in the hopes that females will think they're macho studs. My only fear is that these might be staged for TV, which would make them nothing more than porn movies for the animal world, warping our sensibilities and giving us false hope. It would sure be a drag to find out I've been killing myself using that Pec-master™, dancing like a fool, and showing women that spider I caught and it was all for naught.

The truth is, in most animals the signs of wanting sex is unmistakable. Take the Indian Elephant. When the male is in musth, which is a Hindi word that roughly translates as "typical for a male", they excrete a thick fluid from glands on the sides of their heads, dribble urine, and have only one thing on their mind: mating. This period lasts for one to three months, after which they cancel their subscription to Hustler, the Spice Channel, and BigTusks.com. Now compare this to human males who excrete thick dense words from their brain, dribble saliva from their mouth, and have only one thing on their mind: sex without mating. See how similar we are to the animals? Okay, except we're like this all the time.

Obviously it's easy for women to know what men are thinking since it's a constant, but how are we men supposed to know if a woman is interested in us or not? That's where body language comes in handy. This is the art of watching someone closely and interpreting their feelings based on how they look, sit, and whether they come back from the bathroom. For example, contrary to what most guys think, hands clasped demurely on the lap, arms folded over the chest, and a hand raised in the air signaling the waiter that they want the check aren't all signs that it's time to pull out your cell phone, call your mother, and say, "Guess what? It looks like I'm not going to be a virgin much longer!" even if it is the truth.

That's why people are trying to harness technology to help. A few years ago the Lovegety swept through Japan. This was a small pager-like device which would beep when someone of the opposite sex who was as desperate as you -- I mean, who also had a Lovegety -- got within fifteen feet. Now a company in Toronto has released the Gaydar, which is pretty much the same thing except they're marketing it to gay men and women to help them locate each other. This will prove handy for people who are new to the scene, who don't know the best places to go to find like people, or for those times when Jerry Falwell isn't around to point them out. Or out them.

Meanwhile, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley think they've found a more natural detection method than Gaydar. They discovered that most lesbians have an index finger that's shorter than their ring finger. While you'd think this would be welcomed by lesbians since it's cheaper than buying Gaydar, by and large they reacted by showing researchers the length of their middle finger, which interestingly is the same length whether you're gay or not.

In spite of these advances in science and technology we still need some reliable and easy-to-interpret sexual signals. Try to remember these: A smile generally means someone's open for conversation. A white band around the left ring finger where a wedding ring usually resides means they're open for a date. And if they're wearing support hose, sensible shoes, or a ruler, run. Especially if they're an Indian Elephant in musth.

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