The other day I watched a really cute girl walking down an aisle in a library to pick up some books.

(Please don’t get hung up on how creepy that sentence could sound. I was just there, and so was she, and she was pretty and yes I was watching her as she walked by… whatever. Don’t judge me.)

In front of her was a man who stopped so suddenly that the woman nearly ran into him. She apologized and stepped around him to the end of the aisle and collected her books. When she turned back the man she had passed was standing in front of her.

Hi! he exclaimed in a high and warbling voice while his right hand waved firmly beside his head like a new ash leaf in a spring breeze.

I’m Walter! the young man continued as he held out his left hand. The young woman, her hands full of books, set them down and took a moment to decide how best to shake Walter’s hand. Eventually, she awkwardly shook his left hand with her own left hand.

As she retracted her hand her eyes showed a nervous awareness that she had been backed into the corner of a room by a man much larger than she. Then her face showed that she was contextualizing the absence of teeth in Walter’s mouth and the sloppiness of his bowl-cut and the goofiness of his smile and the high-water hem of his pants. It soon became obvious to her that Walter was quite special, and when she raised her eyes to him again they were full of kindness and patience, which was nice to see.

Do you have a boyfriend? Walter asked, and the young woman nodded and said that Yes, she did. Whether or not this is true I cannot say, but it was definitely and definitively the only appropriate response she could have given.

Okay, Walter replied, I’m gonna go use a computer then. If there is one. Walter turned and shuffled away and I met the young woman’s eyes and we both smiled.


Getting a date can be tricky. It can be difficult and scary and torturous. There are as many approaches to this undertaking as there are jellyfish in the seas. So let’s take a moment to rate the various aspects involved in the Walter School Of Dating.

Nuance: I’ll grant that this isn’t most subtle approach I’ve ever seen. But then I don’t think Walter is the most subtle guy, so serious props for being true to who he is. 9.3/10

Physical Placement: Cornering a physically smaller woman in a back aisle anywhere is definitely going to make her more than a little hesitant to say Yes to you. I see room for improvement on this measure, but I also commend the attitude: to get the job done you go where you need to. 8.6/10

The left-handed shake: while it might be awkward in the moment, it’s also very memorable on a deeply physical level. We shake hands with our right ones, and being forced beyond that is challenging and not something you quickly forget; in short, I think it’s a really wonderful touch. 9.6/10

**NOTE: This is an advanced move, and those just starting out should refrain from employing it too soon.**

Directness: As I wrote recently, for the scales to be properly calibrated sometimes a perfect score must given. To that end, I grade this component the big kahuna: 11/10.

Overall Score: Buoyed by the Directness, which accounts for the majority of the measures being evaluated, I give the Walter Approach to Dating a perfect 10/10.

Why I score the Directness, and thus the overall approach, a 10:

The directness is my favorite part of the Walter methodology. All of the stuff that makes a relationship work—your common interests in medieval torture machinery, your shared predilections for unripened bananas, a mutual and deep appreciation for Bruce Campbell movies—doesn’t mean bupkis if the other person is dating someone else.

Therefore, the first thing you got to do is find out if they’re dating someone else!

After that you can address what you may or may not have in common. And if it turns out you don’t have shit in common—oh well, at least you gave yourself the opportunity to find out, which removes you from the curse of wondering What if…? about anyone ever again. And who knows—at the end of the day she might just love ferrets as much as you do…

Practical Application:

Over the years I have heard, repeatedly and from far too many women, that men, especially men in Seattle, can be wussies when it comes to asking women out. Leaving aside the obvious inverse of this argument—it’s 2015 and we’re aiming for equality, so for god’s sake ladies: just ask him out if you’re interested!—let me direct all men who are looking for love to the Walter School of Dating.

Don’t dither with details, gentlemen, just get to the damned point: Does she have a boyfriend? 

Sure, this is the deep end, but fellas—your best recourse is to jump right into it. I realize that many of you might caterwaul about swimming in such strong currents. But I say: grow a pair. If Walter can do it, so can you.