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I can remember when dating was a romantic sort of thing. A guy saw a pretty girl and admired her from afar, until one day he finally got the nerve up to ask her out. If he was lucky, the girl said yes. If she didn't, he continued to pine away until two or three months down the road when he saw another pretty girl and then repeated the whole process.

I realize that this is probably a romanticized version of what actually took place, but it's at least somewhere in the ballpark of what occurred.Things are not like that anymore. Girls have definitely decided they don't want to wait around while a guy works the nerve up to call.

I know this because since my boys became teenagers my phone hasn't stopped ringing.

As a mother I'm prone to being a little bit prejudiced - I think my boys are pretty handsome. Unfortunately, so do a gazillion (is that a word?) girls, and my boys are getting spoiled.

Where is their angst? Where is their suffering? They don't even have to pay for their dates.

Here's a typical scenario. A girl calls on the phone and asks Joshua out. His side of the conversation sounds like this:

"Hello . . . What? . . . A dance in Springville? . . . What day? . . . We have to wear matching shirts? . . . Everybody does? . . . You'll buy the shirts? . . . Cool . . . What'd you say your name was? . . . OK . . . You'll pick me up when?"

The day comes and the girl shows up with the shirt in hand, and it's not just any old T-shirt. It's a brand name, button-down collar, really nice shirt.

So Joshua goes on the date and comes back home and I ask him, "Did you have a good time?"

"Yeah, it was pretty cool. Nice shirt, don't you think?"

"Yes, it's a nice shirt. Are you going to ask her out again?"

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"I don't have her phone number."

"Then look her number up in the phone book."

"I can't. I don't know her last name."

I'm a little crazed by now. "You went out with a girl and you don't even know her last name?"

"Well, yeah. I got a shirt out of it."

I shouldn't have worried. She called back and they went out a few more times and I told Josh he should at least return the favor and take her out, but by now he was too embarrassed to tell her he didn't know her last name.

So one day she called when Josh wasn't home and while I was taking a message I politely asked for her full name and phone number.

That's just one girl, and others call all the time.

Well, who knows. Maybe suffering for love has been highly over-rated.