Friday, January 16, 2015

Quality vs. Quantity

Scott Alexander:

– I had a patient, let’s call him ‘Henry’ for reasons that are to become clear, who came to hospital after being picked up for police for beating up his fifth wife.

So I asked the obvious question: “What happened to your first four wives?”

“Oh,” said the patient, “Domestic violence issues. Two of them left me. One of them I got put in jail, and she’d moved on once I got out. One I just grew tired of.”

“You’ve beaten up all five of your wives?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yeah,” he said, without sounding very apologetic.

“And why, exactly, were you beating your wife this time?” I asked.

“She was yelling at me, because I was cheating on her with one of my exes.”

“With your ex-wife? One of the ones you beat up?”


“So you beat up your wife, she left you, you married someone else, and then she came back and had an affair on the side with you?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” said Henry.

. . . .

When I was younger – and I mean from teeanger hood all the way until about three years ago – I was a nice guy. In fact, I’m still a nice guy at heart, I just happen to mysteriously have picked up girlfriends. And I said the same thing as every other nice guy, which is “I am a nice guy, how come girls don’t like me?”

There seems to be some confusion about this, so let me explain what it means, to everyone, for all time.

It does not mean “I am nice in some important cosmic sense, therefore I am entitled to sex with whomever I want.”

It means: “I am a nicer guy than Henry.”

After hearing the above excerpt, Mrs. Phi speculated that the women "Henry" was getting were of "low quality", by which she primarily meant low social class. This would be consistent with Scott's psychiatric practice, which appears to be in Detroit. Mrs. Phi pointed out that that, in contrast, I, and likely Scott as well, had restricted my search for a wife to venues where I was likely to meet mostly girls from middle and upper-middle class backgrounds. And mostly, that's what I did meet.

Mrs. Phi was making two points: (1) that I would not actually envy Henry his particular conquests; and (2) that the women to whom I was marketing myself were not actually making quite the colossally bad decisions as Henry's were. (1) might be true, but perhaps only in hindsight. (2) is true as far as I know: among my own contemporaries, I only know of a couple of failed marriage, and those didn't involve domestic violence. Rather than dating Henrys, many of the girls I knew from church spent their twenties sitting around grousing about how we nerds weren't actually good enough for them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your wife is a very wise woman.