Monday, 11 April 2016

Is Your Name John Deere?

I had a funny message from reader Michael, who took up social dancing after all our deliberations at "Edinburgh Housewife" on the subject. In short, he was a hit with the girls and other men around didn't like it.

Male competition for female attention is a funny thing. In one Italian-Canadian/Italian-American subculture, it was once customary for an envious man to chase a stranger away from "his" crowd of women by marching up to him and bellowing:

"Is your name John Deere?"

"N-no," the stranger would say.

"Then stop cutting my grass!"

My friend Valentino, an Italian-Canadian poet, once wrote a very funny post about this, and it stuck in my mind.  I cannot help but contrast this stag-like challenge with the whining of the Swiss (or German) young men in Michael's story:

Hi Dorothy,
This story is as follows. I took [very seriously] the advice of Alisha and the others to start dance. I even overcome my motor difficulties to learn how to dance. If there is a Christian dance night close by, I usually go. [I go also] to the ecumenical dance night of the campus ministries at the neighboring university town, some 60 km away. My good female friend, the same age as me [at 33], is a PhD student there.

Some 2 months after the last dance night, two young guys approached her and complained about me: that I look older than 35, that I have last-minute-panic, that I go to dance night to find a girl, that I dance with different women all night and that I even danced with a young girl who is younger than 25! The latter was actually about 23 and after she told me lots of jokes while dancing. I asked her only for her Facebook [friendship] but not for her e-mail-address. Also they [thought I was] a womanizer, which is very far from true. But [I think I understand why they thought this.] I wanted to [promote] dancing in saying [that] there has to be an intermediate stage of communication between men and women which is neither talking only or the other extreme [i.e. sexual intimacy]. Instead of [understanding me] to mean dancing was "intermediate", they [thought I meant] preliminary…. In the end it looks [as if] the boys, who didn’t want to dance themselves at that time, were a little bit [envious of] me. Happily, my friend and another girl defended me! I really feel that men really need time to mature. We are maybe 6 years behind the girls! What do you think about it?
Nice greetings Michael

What I think is that it is probably safer to have male rivals go whining to your female friend than marching up to you, flexing their biceps and yelling "Is your name John Deere?" I also think the male rivals are cowardly not to ask the girls to dance, especially when almost all girls at social dances are dying for the guys to ask them to dance. My mother used to say, "Faint heart never won fair maiden!" (Or was that Marilla Cuthbert in the Anne books? Ah well, same difference. That reminds me, when a Scotswoman denied any knowledge of the Scottish tradition that there must always be cake in the house in case a caller drops by, I realized that this wasn't Scottish, this was Lucy Maud Montgomery.)

Update: By the way, are any of my beautiful, Catholic, Single female readers tangueras?  Just asking. 


  1. Poor character is the issue here, not maturity. Both of them sound like sniveling little cowards who would rather tear people down than build up their own relationships. They sound rather effeminate, considering that women typically do what they did.

    On a personal note, I used to ballroom dance (the East and West Coast swings were my favourite), and I was surprised to read that one can find Christian dances, never mind dances in general; dance halls went extinct in my corner of the world decades ago.


  2. You may be surprised: tango, salsa and swing-dancing have become de rigeur among university students in North America and Europe! You can find swing-dances at least three times a week in Edinburgh, for example.

    1. I'm a so-called Millennial, yet I'm already behind the times. (I heard that this problem is compounded as one gets older.)

      I do miss swing dancing. Your correspondent was right that dancing is like an intermediary point in a growing relationship, which is why dancing was so popular before, say, the 1960s. (Note that schools always organized dances for their students.) The closeness and physical contact of dancing between a man and woman does offer a safe level of intimacy that no other couple's activity can offer. If anything else, it's a good way to meet girls.

      That is why the behaviour of those two men struck me as odd and pathetic. Presumably, a man goes to a dance to meet a girl or dance with his girlfriend or wife, not to snivel about other men.



  3. You may be surprised: tango, salsa and swing-dancing have become de rigeur among university students in North America and Europe! You can find swing-dances at least three times a week in Edinburgh, for example.

  4. Those other guys are acting like teenage girls.

    I wish I had the nerve to try dance classes, but I'm too scared of the Dance N@zis. When I was a teenager I went to the social part of a friend's dance class and a slightly-older teenage boy got annoyed at me for not knowing how what an 'American Twirl' was and not knowing how the flip to do it.

    Other dance-related trauma? This last weekend I was in a bridal party. During the father-daughter dance, the MC calls all 'couples' out to the dance floor. Every other member of the bridal party (and nearly every guest) had a spouse/fiancé/partner, and in an instant I was left very conspicuously alone at the head table. AWKWARD.

    Man. I don't think I can do another wedding.


    1. That was awkward. The last time I was left alone at a wedding was for the "All the Single Ladies" dance. Not the same thing, I know. I didn't feel awkward. Look, you don't have to be a bridesmaid more than twice. If you have, you can say "No" based on the old tradition.

    2. That was awkward. The last time I was left alone at a wedding was for the "All the Single Ladies" dance. Not the same thing, I know. I didn't feel awkward. Look, you don't have to be a bridesmaid more than twice. If you have, you can say "No" based on the old tradition.

  5. Bwahahaha! So much mirth in one post ;)

    Notes from the far side:

    1. Good on Michael for overcoming his coordination difficulties, learning to dance and asking as many girls as possible to dance - clearly the swing girls appreciated that even if the lads didn't :)

    2. Like Jacques said - there are 'Christian dances'??? While there may be secular dances in big cities, I've never heard of a Christian dance, let alone ecumenical dances...

    3. Did that John Deere thing ever *work*? I can see it just leading to fights...

    4. Mrs Mac, you keep telling us (quite correctly) that men don't own or have proprietary rights over women from the same cultural or religious group, so the fellas bellowing 'don't cut my grass' are doing exactly that, and are way out of line, even if it is understandable they don't want rivals cutting in on the girls they are most comfortable with.

    Which raises the question - what do you think the young guys should have done? We only have Michael's word they 'didn't want to dance themselves' and were maybe 'envious'.

    As they clearly had concerns about Michael's behaviour, should they talk to the organiser of the dance or the person who Michael went with (as they did) and be labelled 'whiners', or should they have John Deered things, and taken Michael outside for a 'chat'...
    Hard for guys to know what is best here, specially as girls view a guy taking the John Deere option as behaving like a cavemen who owns them.

    5. And frankly, I would've dragged Michael outside and thumped him if he had said he wanted to get 'intermediate' between talking only and sex with any girl I knew. Perhaps it's just a language barrier, but really??? Most guys in any culture know they are on verrry thin ice talking like that round other guys interested in the same girls.

    6. Poor Michael, I do feel sorry for him, as he made real efforts, but he does need to be more astute in his choice of language. And perhaps get to know the guys at the dances too, so they can see he is not a womaniser cutting their lawn.

    7. Michael is right, we blokes are 6-10 years behind in the maturity stakes, tho there are exceptions. And some of the 'immaturity' is really just not being in a financial/job/educational position to be ready for the serious stuff in life, like marriage, swing dancing, etc ;)

    8. heh, I have heard the 'faint heart never won fair maiden' quote too. Dunno source.

    Tango on,
    Southern Bloke.

  6. Ha!! I thought I'd heard all the John Deere jokes growing up in the American south but that's a new one!

  7. This John Deere thing, I find very funny!

    Oh' and some guys of the catholic campus ministry were also complaining that a young catholic girl has a protestant boyfriend! I feel that my comment was in the end helpful for the guys to understand that of course dancing serves a mating purpose. I would have used other words, of course! But I nevertheless they are prudish and childish clinging on me using that expression.

  8. I would have stuck to "It's a great way to communicate and have fun with the opposite sex without having to talk."

    Southern Bloke, it is never okay to beat up a man for using his freedom of speech. The first thing to do is to ask for clarification as soon as he has finished speaking, and the next thing to do is to challenge his arguments/assumptions with better arguments of your own.

    I am not sure when it is acceptable to take a guy outside and challenge him to single combat, but I am not ruling it out. I'm just ruling out in the case of men giving speeches.

  9. Julia, ouch! Sorry to hear you had such an awkward bridal dance moment. I thought groomsmen were supposed to accompany bridesmaids for dances (at least initially).

    A quick-witted groomsman could have asked his girl beforehand to sit out that dance so all the bridesmaids would have a dance partner and not be left alone at the head table. Don't give up on being a bridesmaid tho - I'm sure your friend really appreciated having you so close helping her at her wedding..

    Mrs Mac, sorry if I was a bit rash, but I got educated in the Galois school of thought (literally, sans the atheism tho) - he took umbrage at the treatment of the girl he liked, and challenged a man to a duel which he knew he would lose:

    And of course you ask for clarification of the offending fellas comments - what else would you talk about while dragging him out to thump him? ;)

    Joking aside, and with full acceptance of the fact Michael clearly has English as a 2nd language so I may be missing something in translation, I feel what he said was seriously out of line.

    And Michael - that is one reason those guys were so angry with you. You were implying you were going to get 'frisky' with the girls they were interested in. You may not have meant that, but that is the impression you created - on them, and me.

    Freedom of speech is wonderful, but doesn't mean everyone is going to like what you say. And if you say something that implies you are going to take advantage of a girl, other blokes are likely to do more than just debate the merits of that idea with you.

    Anyway, pax. I'm not looking to start an online scrap over what seems a miscommunication. Enough strife in the world without that. Although 2 guys fighting over 1 girl could claim to be in an 'irregular situation' and ask the pope for mercy... ;)


  10. Why do I get the feeling that those moaning/yelling "john deere" in any other instance would decry how there's no girls around to date?
    And Southern Bloke and others, my local Catholic student centre is having a speed dating event followed by a dancing evening.