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SAMPLING THE GOODS Listen to this: I am 36 and just met the love of my life a few months ago. It all happened when I returned to the church IÕve belonged to ever since I was little. He was an usher and very involved in church activities. I thought he was handsome so I became very involved in the church, too. We started dating and he was great. Things progressed a little too slowly for me, but all my friends said that if it was real, there was no reason to rush. They were right. We held hands like teenagers, kissed for the first time on our third date, and I fell in love. One night after we got back to his place, I jumped him. I tore off his clothes with my teeth, whispered seductively, and I assumed I was spending the night. ThatÕs when he told me that he had never known a woman, biblically. HeÕs 34. IÕm not sure what to do. IÕve been dating for 20 years now and sleeping with men for about that long. My magic number is in the double digits while his is nonexistent. I think heÕs going to ask me to marry him and that he will insist we wait until the honeymoon (although I might be able to sway him once weÕre engaged). IÕm not sure I can wait. I donÕt want to marry him without sampling the goods. Signed, A Tramp From Way Back Okay: So your odometer is about to turn over and his is still on 0. I think the last thing you want to do is pressure him for a test drive. I understand you wanting to take one. We try on clothes before we buy them. We test samples at the grocery store. But there are plenty of things you buy without using them first like ... wallpaper. And with houses, you may go inside them before you buy them, but you donÕt live in them. You just look at them -- and thatÕs what IÕd suggest in this case. IÕm discouraging the test drive for a couple of reasons. The first of which is that you want to respect his decision. I donÕt think he can fault you for what you did before you met him (okay, he can, but you can say youÕre a changed woman or some other crap), but pressuring him to change his mind would be sort of, well, trampy. I mean, you can wait a few months, right? He waited 34 years. Second, IÕm not sure -- how shall I put this -- that the handling youÕll experience during the test drive is going to live up to your expectations. I could be wrong. He might be some wonderstud, but no one knows that yet, do they? And itÕs not as if heÕs been out the last 34 years working on his game. But thatÕs exactly why you want to take the test drive, you say. The physical may not be the cornerstone of any relationship, but itÕs still important. Yes, I say, but ... we wouldnÕt want you scared off because it isnÕt the smoothest experience youÕve ever had (IÕm trying to keep this clean, but IÕm afraid itÕs not very easy). LetÕs try something else. For instance, if you sampled raw brussel sprouts at the grocery before you bought them, you might be less likely to buy them (IÕm assuming that brussel sprouts arenÕt your fave). But, in the long run, you need brussel sprouts; theyÕre good for you. And once you figure out how you like them cooked ... well, I think youÕre experienced enough to see where IÕm going with this. So wait until the wedding night. If itÕs good, youÕll be pleasantly surprised. If itÕs bad, youÕll have all your life to work on the recipe. Listen to this: Several weeks ago, I had what can only be called a one-night stand although I didnÕt know it at the time. I was on a blind date with someone a friend of a friend of a friend knew and we instantly clicked. I donÕt shy away from sex, so I had no reservations about going home with him, but IÕm not the type of woman who jumps into bed with everyone she meets. I guess you could say IÕm liberated but discriminating. I havenÕt regretted my decision. The sex was phenomenal and we exchanged numbers when I left the next morning. Days later, the warm fuzzy feeling was wearing off and I was wondering why he hadnÕt called yet. I was also wondering when I became a woman who would wonder why he hasnÕt called. With my patience running thin and two tickets to a local charity event in my hand, I went ahead and called him. He didnÕt sound overjoyed to hear from me, but he didnÕt sound upset to hear from me, either. And when I asked him to the event, he basically told me he was busy and wouldnÕt be available for several weeks. I was fine with the fact that it was a one-night stand, after I realized it was a one-night stand. I wonÕt lie, that realization smarted, but these things happen. HereÕs the twist. I was telling my friend about the whole thing and she indicated that she thought it was a bad idea I called him at all. IÕve been calling men, so to speak, since I was in middle school. IÕm not married (neither is she) so I canÕt say my success rate is 100 percent, but I donÕt think the technique has ever screwed me over either. Now IÕm not sure. I really liked this man and I thought he liked me so IÕm a little confused. Do I need to dig my copy of The Rules out of the waste bin and set forth to reading it immediately? Okay: No worries, The Rules can stay right where you left them. One of those women is divorced anyway, so her success rate isnÕt exactly 100 percent. IÕm going to sound like a candy commercial here, but thereÕs no one right way to begin a relationship. Or end one. You can only do whatÕs comfortable for you, whether thatÕs walking up and down Front Street wearing a sign saying, ÒIÕM SINGLE!Ó or sitting quietly at your neighborhood bar. But thatÕs the end of the after-school special segment of our show. It sounds like your phone call didnÕt make much difference one way or another and that he was never planning on calling. Probably he was banking on the fact that you would never call him. Sometimes we just have to face the fact that weÕve been used, whether it was intentional or not. It sounds like you know this, so here is my callous advice: Suck it up. Get over it. Actually I was watching a rerun of ÒKate & AllyÓ the other day on Oxygen and the plot was this: they both liked the same guy, they had set a trap to figure out which one of them he liked best but it meant he had to call one of them and he didnÕt. They moped around the set for a while waiting until finally, the two teenage daughters (and remember, this was in the Ô80s when the hair stood two feet taller than the people) told the moms to call him. Oh, we can do that now, both Kate and Ally said, weÕre liberated. Or something to that effect. What IÕm trying to do here is reassure you that if calling guys didnÕt make you a pushy, desperate slut in the Ô80s, it definitely doesnÕt now. My take on this has always been: Why wait for a muffin to come to you -- one you may not like -- when you can just belly up to the bakery case and pick one out yourself? Perhaps an oversimplification, but all the muffin can do is say no and then you get on with your life. Simple. My advice is, if you still have those tickets, head on out to the bakery. Or you can sit at home, feeling sorry for yourself and watching the Oxygen channel.

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