In Geneseo, the town which according to Money Magazine has the 10th highest percentage of singles in the nation, the advice of a savvy "dating doctor" may be all too appealing. Students seeking such advice filled the Union Ballroom Friday before 10-time National Speaker of the Year Dave Coleman; the inspiration for the movie Hitch.
Armed with 11,000 allegedly-memorized pick-up lines, a slide show of funny jokes and pictures, and enough uses of the word "sex" to amuse any semi-sober college crowd, Coleman engaged the audience within the first few minutes. He spoke with the charisma and tonality of Jack Black, and kept the performance interesting by interactively engaging the audience.
"At first I thought it was a joke," freshman Jessica Hurley said. "But then I found it very entertaining and funny." His advice notwithstanding, Coleman's presentation was worth the hour.
Coleman opened the show with a seductive promise. "I'm going to put a plan of action in your head and courage in your heart so you can meet the 'Hmmm' of your life." However, when it came to dispensing the knowledge, he spoke in vague generalizations and categorized common sense, He filtered Cosmo-caliber advice into lists, with gems such as the ABCs of initial interest, the five stages of a relationship, the five characteristics of a relationship, the three types of love and the six stages of a break-up. According to freshman Ann Matthys, "He talked like he had never been wrong in his life."
The information he shared, irrespective of its accuracy, consisted of observations to consider rather than actions to follow. This left something to be desired for those who feel paralyzed in the face of the opposite sex. He revealed the "what" without the "how" for common romantic interactions. In one slide, Coleman shared the characteristics of a person who is romantically interested in another. Coleman encouraged men to notice when a girl breaks the touch barrier, plays with her hair, or makes good eye contact.
All of these observations are, of course, important. Regardless, the question people really came to have answered was how to get another person interested in the first place. The most oblivious individuals could recognize the signals Coleman pointed out, and the most lovelorn people could have confidence to proceed if they received any of them. But Coleman presented the attraction - the tough part - as though it was out of people's hands entirely. To extend his own doctor metaphor, he misdiagnosed the illness and failed to prescribe a cure.
To his credit, the doctor was honest in his feedback. His interaction with the audience, in terms of advice and entertainment, was more satisfying than his break-down of half-baked formulas. He spoke frankly, and didn't cater too much to people's emotions when dispensing advice about relationships. He promised from the beginning that he was bound to offend everyone in some way. Sure enough, Coleman brought a girl to tears within the hour, warning her of the pitfalls that come with long-distance relationships.
His discussion of control, sex and self-respect in relationships also seemed to be as accurate as it was applicable. While most of the singles who attended are likely still single today, those in relationships may have already noticed subtle improvements. He explored the full spectrum, discussing romance as "performing ordinary acts of love or kindness at an unexpected time," but also pointed out that the key to long-term relationships is not caring about the future.
Coleman's delivery was both heartfelt and sincere, but it was also composed of impractical thinking for the dating world.
"His points were very generalized," freshman Michael DelDuca said, "and didn't help for any particular person."