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Bad Dating Advice From “An American Tragedy”

As a general rule, I’ll say it’s probably a bad idea to take dating advice from novels.

At the bare minimum, I’d say it’s a horrible idea to take dating advice from Clyde Griffiths, the protagonist in An American Tragedy.

Clyde is fond of the obsessive stalker approach—a technique he uses throughout the novel on 4 or 5 different females–all of which he’s pretty much just met. It takes all of 7 seconds for Clyde to fall in love and express that to his female companion with the passion of a man who’s been in love for years.

Although I’m totally out of the dating game, I’ll go out on a limb here and say this is a horrible approach. Ladies, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

In today’s post, I’ve pulled out some of Clyde’s obsessive quotes from An American Tragedy. Following each quote is my interpretation of what Clyde was actually trying to say—what was going on in this young man’s infatuated, stalker mind.

“I think about you all the time. Really, I do, Sondra. You’ve made me just crazy about you, so much so that I can hardly sleep for thinking about you.”

I have nothing in my life of worth except for my thoughts about you, Sondra. I stay up all night and say your name over and over while I snuggle with a lock of your hair I stole while you weren’t looking.

“I never go anywhere or see you any place but what I think of you all the time afterward.”

Actually, you never go anywhere or any place that I don’t follow. My uncle’s ladder is the perfect height to reach your bedroom window. That wasn’t a tree branch that hit your window last night.

“Ever since I saw you at my uncle’s last April, I’ve been wishing I might see you again. I always look for your name in the papers.”

I have a shrine for you at my house. I collect articles about you in a laminated notebook. I’ve written your name over and over again in that notebook with letters I cut from magazines.

“The papers here seemed to think you were interested in some one from Schroon Lake and that you might be going to marry him.”

I will dump both of you in the bottom of a landfill if you marry him.

“Even tonight when I saw you dancing with all those fellows I could hardly stand it. I just wanted you to be dancing with me–no one else.”

I sat in a dark corner, with a watered-down cup of fruit punch, and stared at you for hours while you danced with those guys. I looked for the switch that opens the floor to the swimming pool underneath–like in It’s A Wonderful Life–but I couldn’t find it. You probably shouldn’t dance with those guys again, though. I’m liable to murder them all.

“Don’t you care at all like I care for you?”

WILL YOU JUST FREAKING LOVE ME, SONDRA? Will you just validate my existence with your warm touch? I hate myself.

To all of this, Sondra’s response, at least initially, was…

“She merely looked at him dubiously, wondering what could be the result of such an infatuation as this.”

So, to sum it up, Clyde Griffiths is not a good role model for dating. Remember, he ends up in jail for murder.

If I was a woman, I’d keep guys like Clyde Griffiths at an arm’s length. Or, actually, at whatever the length is for a restraining order.

Am I missing something here?

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13 Comments Post a comment
  1. great read into Clyde’s psyche – clever, funny, and true in a creepy sort of way – love revisiting this novel through you

    Like

    June 21, 2012
    • He’s very creepy, isn’t he? Weirds me out.

      Like

      June 21, 2012
  2. Hilarious!

    Like

    June 21, 2012
  3. I never imagined seeing myself using those fancy pick up line. If you want girls to go away, you consider using some of these pick up lines.

    Like

    June 21, 2012
    • Indeed, these are horrible pickup lines.

      Like

      June 21, 2012
  4. I love it! Especially the newspaper clippings quote and your interpetation. He has the makings of a serial killer for sure! Very clever.

    Like

    June 21, 2012
  5. Hmmmm….I’ve heard about guys like this. Thank God I was never this infatuated. 🙂 Going to the library now, however, to check this book out. Thanks, Robert!

    Like

    June 21, 2012
    • Enjoy it! Long read but I’m digging it, despite Clyde’s obsessiveness.

      Like

      June 21, 2012
  6. Ahahaha, infatuation to this extent I can’t relate with…but maybe just a little bit lol. Your interpretations were awesome too.

    Like

    June 21, 2012
  7. “At arms length…or whatever length for a restraining order”…. LOL…That’s priceless! I love your thinking!

    Like

    June 22, 2012
  8. Very clever 🙂 It’s amazing how creepy “love” can become.

    Like

    June 22, 2012
  9. Jeff #

    Those were the tricks Blair used to get me. What can I say I’m a sucker for it.

    Like

    June 25, 2012
  10. I really loved those fancy pick up lines, but I doubt that I’d ever use them though.

    Like

    January 30, 2013

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