Every spring and fall a local WWII historical society hosts a hangar dance as a fund raiser. They deck out an old hangar with WWII memorabilia, bring some old WWII planes like the B-25 and P-51 out on the tarmac, and encourage people to show up in vintage attire. Fortunately for me I have an old Army Air Corps uniform and when donned with my bomber jacket I look the part rather well. Add to all of this about 700 people, the majority of which are in uniform and era clothing, and an 18 piece big band, and you have what I deem to be the closest re-enactment we can achieve today of what was the pinnacle of American culture for a glorious, but all too brief four hours.
But I take what brief American-glory-day hours I can get, and this past weekend presented such an opportunity, for there was such a hangar dance at scenic Fleming Field.
I arrived with a cadre of friends and about 20 students as I also teach dance on the side and host field trips to such events. And since most of my friends are just friends, and most of my students are middle aged married folk, I opted to mingle my way into the crowd to see if I could find myself a cute girl or twenty to dance with.
Bethel College, a local uber-religious college where they ban sex, kissing, holding hands and just plain looking at the opposite sex, oddly enough sent no less than 50 female representatives in sort of a "false advertising" sort of way. Of course I didn't know they had such representation until I danced with enough of them to know where they were sitting, who they were talking to, and just how numerous they were. But once ID'd, I knew who not to ask to dance as it would be futile.
This still left of bevy of immaculately dressed women, one of which in particular caught my eye; a 20-something platinum blond with a 1940's turquoise dress gift-wrapping an amazing figure. And knowing that in about an hour they would have all the men in uniform parade around the hangar, and knowing I had not brought a date, I would have to secure myself a girl in vintage attire to be on my arm for this parade. Thus, it was time to turn on the ol' Captain Capitalism charm.
I spent the next hour dancing the plurality of dances with this girl. Putting on some of the more flashy, yet easy to follow moves, thereby impressing her and at the same time making her think somehow she was a great dancer. I'd make some witty commentary about how she looked like Ingird Bergman, and then quote Casablanca. And as it was somewhat of a chilly evening, I employed a rather cunning tactic; when dancing on the tarmac I would have her wear my bomber jacket to keep her warm.
Oh yeah, I was in.
And I was, for when they announced the parade was about to start, she agreed to be on my arm for the parade.
So there we were. Me in my smart uniform, looking as if I had just got off the Memphis Belle. Her, with her nice blue eyes accompanying her turquoise dress, blushing a bit as she was a little embarrassed. All in the shadow of a B-25 bomber and an 18 piece big band playing away. It couldn't have gotten any better.
Which means it only could have gotten worse.
For while we were parading around the hangar and people were cheering us on, we approached a group of Bethel girls that I had recognized from the earlier that evening. They were looking at me and cheering me on giving me the thumbs up. But as I got closer I realized I misread their line of vision by a few arcseconds, for they weren't looking at me and giving me the thumbs up, they were looking at the girl on my arm. And sure enough as we passed, "Wooo! Way to go Jessica!"
Great, I had a Bethel girl on my arm.
"So, you go to Bethel?" I asked.
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
"Oh, just a guess....so hold old are you?"
Great, I was dancing with a child this entire time. And a religious nut on top of it.
Now, there is an element of strategy to these hangar dances. For unlike most other dances, the hangar dance attracts people that I deem to be morally similar to myself. In other words, in the past when I have gone out on dates with the girls I've met at the hangar dance, they tend to be of a bit higher quality and caliber. Furthermore, since the hangar dance is held only twice a year, it is somewhat urgent and important that you play your cards right and spend your time wisely. I just blew 2.5 hours on a 4 hour dance that would not be repeating itself for another 6 months.
So I did what any other normal red-blooded American male would do, I got myself a beer. The bar was inconveniently placed in a high traffic area, near the band and the dance floor. And immediately after I had finished my drink and turned around, I almost bumped into the most attractive girl in the entire dance.
I hadn't mentioned this girl before, for even though I noticed her very early on in the dance, up until that point in the dance, she was irrelevant. She was WAAAAY TOO ATTRACTIVE to mention. And even though she was one of the very first things I saw, she was soooooo attractive that I wrote her off like a brand new computer under section 179 because she was out of my league.
And now she was right infront of me.
Now, normally I don't bother with chicks out of my league. Which then prompts the typical discussion, "well, some of these girls are so good looking that they intimidate most guys and are actually rarely approached." None of which entered into my mind, because I was busy blurting out, "hey, wanna dance?"
So there I am dancing with the girl who is hands down the most attractive, drop dead gorgeous woman in the entire joint. (Mind you, this isn't my opinion. She just literally was that good looking!) And as I made my way through the dance, spinning her and so forth, I got to appreciate the amount of care and attention she put into her outfit. It was a stunning black ruffled, knee-length vintage dress that she accented with a cropping hat, black fishnets and cute 1940's heels. She had her hair done up in a tight style which displayed her face perfectly. Rarely am I intimidated, but she was so impressive that I was actually a little off in my dancing.
I thanked her for the dance, still under the impression I was not in her league and the dance was charity, but as the night went on, I noticed she was standing by herself, on the edge of the dance floor more often than not. And whilst enroute to the bathroom, something made me change my path and I asked her to dance again. This time smiles were exchanged, banter was engaged in, and another dance promised. This led to more dances which led to more conversation which led to more smiles, and soon flirting (which Bethel College also bans).
By the end of the night I had danced with this girl more than anybody else. And after we had finished our 6th dance, I asked her, "Hey, you going to dance next week by the same band?"
She said, "I don't know, I just heard about it tonight."
"Well, I know a guy who might be interested in taking you."
"Really? I might know a girl who might be interested."
"Really, well, how about I give you my number and you can give it to the girl. And you give me your number and I'll give it to the guy. And then maybe we can go on a double date."
"And then in the unlikely event that they stand us up, perhaps we can go to the dance together, you know, as back up."
And with a little smirk and a sexy squint she said, "Maybe."
And so I sashayed to the bar to jot down my number, returned for one final dance, gave her my number and said, "it was a pleasure." She reached out and touched my arm and said, "likewise." I headed home and fell asleep.
Now what does all of this have to do with 505025?
505025 is a theory I concocted back in my college days, that most of my male friends appreciate and deem one of my better theories. And it basically states;
"50% No x's 50% Show = 25% Go."
And it was the theory running through my head while I drove back to my humble abode that night, for during college my friends and I noticed that while a fair amount of girls would say yes to a date, a disturbingly high percentage of them would cancel or stand you up. Thus, on the onset, there is a 50% chance the girl will say no. But even if she says "yes" that doesn't mean she's actually going to show. i.e.- there is only a 50% chance of her showing up on the date, and thus an overall initial chance of a 25% chance of actually going on a date.
Now, empirically, the theory is more something like "30% No x's 25% Show = 17.5% Go" as sadly the majority of girls would say yes, but unfortunately, the majority of them would bail before the date (thereby unnecessarily raising your hopes, and crushing them later). And while I'd like to think that the banter, conversation, interaction and flirting I had with this knock out 40's babe was unique and special, sadly I had been in the position before where I was just as supremely confident and the random fates of chaos dealt me a different hand. Of course, I also subscribe to Oddball's theory from Kelley's Heroes, which advocates positive waves, but the economist in me really has a hankering for empirical and historical data.
Regardless, what does this tell us about economics? Nothing, directly anyway. But I guarantee you there is a lesson in economics to be learned here. For while it may not be obvious now, it will become very apparent in a future post.
But for those of you who insist on getting your daily economic fix, here's an interesting chart continuing with the theme and hailing back from the days of WWII.