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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Chaslov's Antidotes


The love of Chaslov’s life and the source of his ultimate downfall, was the Countess Marianna Gandsky, who was later to become the wife of Prince Georgi Borosh. Of noble lineage, the Countess was the granddaughter of Ivan the Timid. Ivan was the first cousin of Ivan the Terrible, half brother of Ivan the Awful, and pen pap of Ivan the Really Nasty. Because Ivan had to survive in, to say the least, some very impolite surroundings, he became a master of lying low in the Moscow countryside while his kinfolk tortured, pillaged, and massacred each other, all in good masculine form of course. The lessons he learned were not lost on his descendents, who would often gather around the family hearth to listen to the old man sing the virtues of being very, very cautious.
The young Marianna was impressed by her grandfather, and soon she developed those cautionary traits that enabled her to elude the hard charging bull which most men either embodied, or were full of. In her later years, she codified the lessons of her spirited youth in her book, ‘Little Men’. Several of these lessons she used to great effect on the ever scheming Anton Chaslov, whose rather inflated view of himself allowed him to unknowingly drift about, blimp like, yet prone to guidance by the prevailing breeze of her feminine wiles. These lessons, known today as Chaslov’s antidotes, became a guide to those fair and meek maidens who wanted a strong, independent, courageous, and tender love whose every move they could subtly control.
In a sad chapter of a glittering and romantic life, Marianna’s antidotes worked all too well, and proved to be the undoing of Count Anton Chaslov. Longing for a final, ultimate romantic challenge, Chaslov broke even his own rules, and decided to pull out all the stops in a mad courtship of the Countess, even through he realized that she was happily married at the time Irritated to the breaking point by having to receive constant deliveries of flowers, perfume, and candygrams, her husband soon had enough, and challenged the Count to a duel. Anton had the grave misfortune to receive a superficial wound to the groin. Mistakenly believing that his career was truly over, the very shock of that realization caused him to expire on the spot. Thus ended a glittering and successful career, but the legend had scarcely begun.


  2. Marianna loved the company of men, yet in true feminine fashion, she knew that an prospective love would never be truly dedicated to her until he had mountains to climb, rivers to cross, deserts to travel, and assorted other minor inconveniences to fend off like starvation, thirst, and marauding Mongolian tribesman. So Marianna would entertain her prospective suitors in the drawing room of her Moscow estate, and took pains to encourage the amorous and sentimental fantasies of each one. To seal the emotional bond, she made wondrous romantic plans with each suitor, and after driving them to a romantic frenzy, she then moved with tender and tearful regrets to her summer cottage beyond the Urals near the Mongolian border. Faced with such a daunting challenge for what amounted to just a Friday night date, most of her suitors either wavered at the challenge, or else set out bravely, and fell off some obscure precipice, of fell into a raging river, glacial crevasse, or pot hole. Not to matter though, since for most, it was a glorious oblivion; after all this was the romantic age.
    Like Marianna, a woman must be tough minded about judging her prospective suitors. She has to be that way in order to tell exactly what a suitor really had on his mind.. If a man had the very realizable hope of a lasting and intimate relationship, just the hope would suffice to dissolve any ambivalence towards pursuing a committed relationship. Thus, a man’s true ambivalence towards pursuing a relationship is determined by simply observing not how strongly he pursues in the short term, but in the long term.
    For a woman whose heart is set on a more than transient relationship, intimacy should only be withheld for the amount of time it takes to determine whether a man’s intentions are serious. The temporary withholding of intimacy is not only a good way of gauging that interest, but is also an excellent means of raising his opinion of her. These aims are also well served if a man makes the time to see a lady that he truly cares for. The ‘climb every mountain’ test of courage and desire that romantic heroines subject their men to is an extreme case, but the concept is basically valid. A truly committed man will make the time to see his beloved, and a woman should set in his way at least enough survivable obstacles so as to reaffirm the depth of his commitment. However, it is absolutely crucial that those obstacles never bar the way of a very real relationship. Love always borders tenuously on hatred, particularly when a person’s courtship behaviors are directed to other selfish ends. Hence, the promise of a budding relationship should be valid and crystal clear, otherwise a lady may find a man abruptly and resentfully bowing out of the relationship.
    For both men and women, relationships are not ambivalent because one party or the other is confused, but primarily because one or both parties want certain things from a relationship that they cannot outwardly concede, or because they are still discovering and weighing in their minds the particular characteristics of the other person that will shape their ultimate posture towards the relationship. Since almost all men know pretty soon whether or not a budding relationship is the ‘real thing’; any ambivalence beyond the relationship’s initial stages will usually mean that the man wants the relationship to take a form that woman would never approve.
    Many men enter into a series of relationships that are cozy, sexual, and very transient, yet when they invariably tire of them, they find it not as painless to leave them as they were to begin. Because there is no easy and painless way out of their predicament, it is a natural that they either become confused, or feign confusion. Either way, an expressed confusion about the relationship is a safe way to soften the impact of what is very clearly a rejection. A woman must understand that a man’s ambivalence is rarely that, but rather a crude form of communication whose intent is almost always unfavorable to her best interests. Hence, a lady should give a gentleman all the time he needs to work out his difficulties, alone. In the meantime, she can very unambivalently pursue other interests, and other men, who are not so afraid to truthfully follow their best interests.
  4. Marianna was a radiant presence at Czar Alexander’s court, and her easy sociability made her a favorite among the Czar’s retinue, and it was rumored a favorite of the Czar himself. In actuality, Alex and Marianna did double date once or twice, but outside of sending out for pizza, there was nothing else that the couple shared. Nonetheless, Marianna displayed a calculated silence about the whole affair. Her silence set the court all a quiver about her ‘real’ activities, and soon rumor had it that she was the source of the unrequited passion of not only the Czar, but half the nobility, the imperial guard, and the palace gardener. These wild rumors soon reached the ear of Anton Chaslov, who decided, if only for pride’s sake to storm the citadel that guarded her heart. In translation, this means to arrange a hot date. He found his chance at the annual Grand Ball and wiener roast held in honor of the Czar. Mariana and Chaslov were introduced to each other by the Czarina, who knew from their plumage that here was a perfect match. After studiously ignoring each other while flaunting an invincible air of superiority, they both knew it was love at first slight.
    Alas, their relationship was doomed from the start, since both had the misfortune of figuring out each other’s motives. When Marianna asked Chaslov to cross mountains for her, Chaslov took the train, and when Chaslov gave her half his time, Marianna gave him in turn half of hers. Give that multiplier effect, soon Chaslov became no more than a fond memory to Marianna, which in her opinion was just as well.
    Whereas a man finds it necessary and useful to broadcast his attributes, a woman’s assets are usually much more subtly displayed, and can be no better highlighted than when she refuses to compromise her principles. A woman displays weakness when she acts a part that exaggerated or is contrary to her nature to secure the commitment of another man. Whether this be reflected in an easy sexual availability or through fawning over a man, a man can usually recognize this very quickly. This behavior hardly affirms the individual character and virtues of the man who receives it, since it obviously denotes a desperation for the company of any man, and thus a man is more likely to be insulated rather than complemented.
    On the other hand, a woman displays her strengths through her demonstration that she can exist and thrive independently of a man, and that she has emotional needs for a man who is a whole lot more than just a pretty face. As with men, a woman’s feminine needs must not be confused with feminine weaknesses. A woman should only act as dependent or ‘needy’ as is required for the man to recognize that his attentions are wanted and appreciated. Furthermore, her needs must be focused on the encouragement of the attentions of the ‘right’ man, or at the very least, to encourage a man to behave rightly. By tailoring her ‘weaknesses’ in just such a way to encourage to man’s equal posturing as a strong partner, she assumes a very necessary degree of control over her personal relationships with men that few man may fault.
Unlike Chaslov, Marianna was under no illusions about her own greatness. She too subscribed to the Chaslovian rule that absences often speak louder than words. However, as a very practical lass, she believed that while it was important to encourage men to build mental monuments to her through her calculated absence, it was nice to encourage them to build real monuments as well. To those brave suitors who proved their dedication to her by surviving a trek through the Siberian wilderness, she set them upon a variety of household tasks that would have done Tom Sawyer proud. Besides painting the fence, her suitors gleefully volunteered to wall paper her Moscow estate, add a sewing room, and lay the foundation for the Jacuzzi she had always wanted. These labors were of course a pleasure to them, since every now and then Marianna would offer them a glass of tea and an encouraging word to sustain the romantic fantasies which spurred them on.
In spite of the great strides women have made towards equality, its still very much a man’s world, and this means that men are still expected to shoulder the burden not only of supporting a wife, but also of raising a family. It thus becomes important to discover how seriously a man does indeed view his responsibilities beyond sustaining the mere romantic gloss of a newborn relationship. A woman must necessarily demand much from a prospective suitor because she has much more to lose. If she can direct his courtship behavior to display those psychological attributes that she demands, she informs herself of the ultimate and longstanding value of a prospective relationship, and informs him of the responsibilities he must assume to make a relationship work. Sometimes a true test of character is indeed a willingness to paint the fence.

The Chaslovian laws and antidotes summarize those manners that may spur or dampen romantic fantasy. The romantic imagination has often been called an interesting artifact of a bygone age, yet men and women continually emulate, if not the trappings, then certainly the spirit of the romantic hero and heroine. This is because romance depends upon the creation of a special mystique and allure that is meant to stimulate warm and affectionate fantasies, primarily of a sexual nature, that produce emotions and behaviors that rise far above those associated with the sexual act. The act of falling in love however represents no mere knee jerk response to , say, any pretty face, but is the culmination of a series of conscious appraisals, and is signaled by personal choice. Although sexual attraction is in many respects an involuntary act, the emotion of love builds on this response, and romance acts to trigger that emotion through the cognitive embellishment of a special person.
The decision to be romantic and to respond emotionally to romance is a personal choice that is determined by the appearance as well as the reality of the attributes of another person. Since people often find it hard enough to understand themselves, let alone other people, the ability to maintain and develop appearances, and to recognize what is mere appearance, is crucial to romantic success.
In the effort to attain romantic success, knowing when to reject romance is a far more important skill than knowing how to stimulate it. People behave most absurdly and painfully when they prematurely make the decision to fall in love, for love can literally be a powerful addiction that makes us blind to reason and our best interests. Much of the contemporary obsession with psychoanalyzing the opposite sex is due to the fact that many of us simply can’t let go of relationships gone sour because of this emotional attachment. Hence we grasp at straws, hoping that this analysis will suggest a change in some minute aspect of our behavior that can, like the invocation of an obscure clause in a legal agreement, restore a relationship to some ideal form. Unfortunately, it just isn’t so.
The initial stages of a relationship are when both individuals should be on their best behavior. If you don’t perceive that the other person is acting his best, then he shouldn’t be of interest to you, and most likely isn’t interested in you. Beyond this very crucial determination of those behaviors that in effect mark an individual’s relative ambivalence towards a committed relationship, one should provide every encouragement to the latent romantic fantasies of those individuals he or she finds of interest. Romance stems from the appraisal that the loved one is better than what he or she as an individual could ever hope to be, and a Chaslovian strutting, posturing, and elusiveness are the necessary foundation for this happy fantasy, that is hoped, precedes the reality of love.

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