''Joe Millionaire''

From 'Zorro' to Zero

The six ''Rules'' for dating -- Don't reenact a film with swordfights, always shave your bikini line, and more useful guidance from Caroline Kepnes

Evan Marriott, Joe Millionaire | SPLENDOR IN THE SHRUBS Sarah and Evan did a little lip-smacking off camera
SPLENDOR IN THE SHRUBS Sarah and Evan did a little lip-smacking off camera

The six ''Rules'' for dating

No offense to Paul the Butler, but I think neither love nor money will prevail in ''Joe Millionaire.'' The big winner here, as we saw Monday night, is mojo. Not the dearly departed blonde of the same name. I'm talking good old-fashioned skills ripped from the pages of ''The Rules.''

Silly Mojo broke all of them -- what with her poems, puzzles, and panache gone wrong. Yes, I'll admit to reading ''The Rules,'' that trashy tome -- for work purposes, I swear -- and I remember enough to be sure that these greedy gals aced Male Manipulation 101. So in their honor, I present ''The Six Rules for Joe Millionaire Gold Digging.''

1. A lady ''slurps,'' ''mmmms,'' and does something to her man that causes a ''smack'' sound. Who can't love a show that features two people making out in the woods as words like ''Mwah'' and ''Hmmm'' appear in quaint white boldface on the screen. Sarah, you are so smart. You got drunk (but not too drunk), you rode a bike (but you wore respectable, construction-worker-friendly jeans), and you got Big Boy to say, ''I think it'll go better laying down.'' Viewers will never know what happened behind those French bushes, but I think we're all pretty sure that although the heat was on, the fire didn't burn all the way. Sarah left Evan longing for more, and that's why she got picked.

2. A lady lies. Oh, Melissa. I totally thought you were gone. You can't tell the difference between an onion and a clove of garlic. You don't know how to grill mushrooms. But when you said that if you were rich you would go to a third-world country and clean babies, I was like, You are a lying genius! All of it sounds like pure bunk. (I'm hardly a cook, but I think most of us over 25 can identify garlic.) But props and rubies to you, girlfriend, because you made Evan feel all domesticated, perceptive, and suave. And that old tactic always works.

3. Your family pictures are like a woolen turtleneck or a speech about why you admire Shania Twain: They have no purpose in a dating competition. Here I was thinking Mojo was going to win. After all, not-so-nice, super-manipulative, 10-gallon-hat-wearing, sword-wielding Southern belles who know what they want always finish first. But my goodness. Could you believe that ridiculous care package?! I have never seen a 1-2-3 punch like that in my entire dating life. A poem. Wham! A puzzle that's actually a picture of Mojo. Bam! A scrapbook of photos and various other whimsical, personal junk. Bam! I don't blame Evan for saying ''No thank you, ma'am.'' Sure, it's a dating double standard, but it works: Boy writes girl poem and girl swoons (Think Ryan on ''The Bachelorette''). Girl writes poem and boy freaks.

4. Shave your bikini line early in the morning. This rule goes for any girl with a hot tub looming in her unpredictable, televised future. When Melissa said she was going to shave I was like, Okay, did NOT need to know that. And I was a little confused about why she didn't do that in the morning. After all, shaving is as feminine and fun as lazing about, smoking cigarettes, and gossiping. No, really, it is!

5. If you're going to reenact a movie, pick a cutesy one or a porno. Disney-esque Zora good. Mojo dressed up like ''Zorro'' not so good. I have a soft spot for fencing, as my uncle won an Olympic medal for it in the '70s. But I hardly think Evan, or any man, gets turned on by a girl flooring him with a sword. If she were sporty, if fencing were her thing, he'd swoon. But there's a difference between a competitive spirit and a generalized lust to knock others to the ground.

6. Do not write poems to guys who are swapping spit with three of your housemates. Unless poem begins with ''There once was girl from Nantucket....''

Originally posted Jan 28, 2003