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Single Life

Nice Guy's Realization: Cads Are Catnip

August 12, 1988|SUSAN CHRISTIAN | Susan Christian is a regular contributor to Orange County Life.

When Marcus Meleton Jr. reluctantly told his mother that he had written a spoof entitled "Nice Guys Don't Get Laid," she insisted that one of the two would have to go: either the book's nomenclature or his.

For reasons unclear, the Costa Mesa resident could not bring himself to part with his raunchy, attention-grabbing title. So to spare his family's good name, he released his 90-page paperback under the pseudonym "Marcus Pierce Jr."

Ironically, as Meleton points out, "The title is the dirtiest thing about the book." Being a nice guy and all, he filled his masterpiece with such innocent passages as:

"I must admit I was considered quite an animal even in high school. In those four short years I kissed two, maybe even three girls--right on the mouth."

Meleton, 32, a project engineer at Rockwell International in Anaheim, arrived at the idea for his book after years off accumulating first- and third-person observations on the pitfalls of "nice-guy-itis."

"Nice guy--a term used by women to depict a male who is courteous, considerate and dependable, and therefore undesirable as a mate." That's how Meleton defines the affliction in Chapter 1.

The poor sap cursed with integrity and direction "is everything a girl thinks she wants but not what she is attracted to."

He is the kind of man who sends a woman flowers on special occasions, takes her to expensive restaurants and listens to her deepest thoughts--only to get dumped for the kind of man who has never remembered someone else's birthday in his life, brings over a six-pack at midnight and recoils from soul-searching conversation.

"Of course, the book exaggerates and generalizes, but there's a lot of truth in it," Meleton said.

The illustrated book follows a few autobiographical chumps through their hapless and humiliating attempts at courtship.

Two weeks before "the big event," Mr. Nice Guy telephones "Diane" and asks her to a play. She accepts--to make her boorish heartthrob jealous.

At 10 o'clock on the morning of the big event, the boorish heartthrob calls Diane and says, "How about you coming over and fixing me dinner?"

Diane replies, "Luckily, I haven't anything special planned."

Meleton says in a footnote: "Diane is right. To her, nothing special was planned."

At 6 o'clock on the evening of the big event, Mr. Nice Guy telephones Diane to confirm their date. She says, "Something important has come up."

He says, "Oh, I hope it isn't anything serious."

She says, "You're such a doll for understanding."

Meleton adds, "A 'doll' is an object you play with and put in a box when you get bored with it."

Mr. Nice Guy sits at home while his costly theater tickets go to waste; Diane's boorish heartthrob stands her up.

"I've been dropped a lot of times for someone like that," says Meleton, who doesn't let foolish pride get in the way of a good laugh at himself. He cited a recent incident when a crushee canceled a dinner date at the last minute, leaving him with a panful of thawed fish.

Published by Authors Unlimited, "Nice Guys" came out in February. The book has yet to hit the best-seller list, but its novice writer remains undaunted. "I'll always be an engineer," he says. "This is something I did on the side, just for fun, and if it doesn't work out, I'll survive."

A native of Shreveport, La., Meleton first noticed the disadvantages of gentlemanly--nerdy--behavior while in school. "Girls don't hang out around the engineering department to meet guys," he says.

In later years, his luck with women improved somewhat, mainly because he learned that nice guys finish last. "I'm no angel," he says. "I don't know if I just got jaded or what, but at times I can be Mr. Abuse (the antithesis of Mr. Nice Guy). I won't call or I won't send flowers or whatever."

His finest hour, or more accurately month, occurred a couple of years ago when he found himself dating four women simultaneously. "I guess I had more confidence, because I knew if one woman dumped me I still had three others," Meleton says. "The more desperate you are, the harder it is to get a date."

Confidence with women is Mr. Abuse's foremost quality. "He could have zero confidence at anything else, no job, could be undependable, useless and obnoxious," Meleton writes.

"When combined with lack of conscience, it is devastatingly effective. . . . He has to be able to say anything to a woman to lead her on, when he knows he doesn't mean any of it."

Such creeps seldom change their cheating ways, the part-time author said, because "they're not punished. They maintain their success, so there is no reason for them to stop. Generally, women will take more abuse from men than men will from women."

While acknowledging that he is not a psychologist, Meleton says a woman will endure Mr. Abuse because he presents a challenge: "Women are more complex than men; they try to read too much into men. They overanalyze and say, 'He does this to me because he had an unhappy childhood.' Well, so what? She's got to understand that this is the way he is now.

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