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Column: Ladies, a piece of advice

Under normal circumstances I would never presume to offer advice to women on how to live their day-to-day lives. Like all men -- with the possible exception of Elton John and Dr. Phil -- I lack both the anatomy and the life experience necessary to pretend I know what's going on inside the typical woman's head.

If television comedies have taught us anything, it's that every person in the United States is promised by the Constitution at least one wacky neighbor, weddings always go horribly wrong and men will never understand women.

Still, from time to time there are situations where I feel I can offer a little helpful guidance. That's why I'm launching a new segment in this column. I like to call it, Ladies, Let Me Help.

The focus in this first installment of LLMH is breaking the ice. Starting a conversation with a stranger can be difficult, and there are many ways to approach the task. But there are a few clear rules to follow. Among the most important is this: Never, ever, ever open a conversation with a man (or a woman, for that matter) by informing him he looks like a young Bill Gates. Seriously. No matter how well intentioned you might be this is not a compliment and no good will come of it.

Allow me to illustrate this with an example that actually happened to me as I was wrapping up my breakfast at an area restaurant Saturday morning.

Her: You know, you look just like a young Bill Gates.

Me: Um....

Her: I was just talking to a woman over there and she said the same thing.

Me: Err....

Her: And look, you're reading a business magazine.

Me: I, uh, have to go now.

I think I paid my bill before I left, but I really can't be sure. I can't be sure of anything anymore.

Don't get me wrong. The man behind Microsoft has many admirable qualities. He is one of the wealthiest men in the world, which is certainly a goal worth achieving. He is well known for his philanthropic efforts and he founded the business that has the single best chance of any current operation of eventually taking over the world and making us all his living chess pieces.

But these are not the qualities you evoke when you tell a man he looks just like the best-known supernerd this side of Steven Urkell. It's his appearance. And let's be honest, people hardly ever use "young Bill Gates" as a synonym for "super sexy."

I realize there are better looking guys than me. I've accepted the fact I'll have to give up on my dreams of a modeling career no later than 2015. But Bill Gates? Really?

There's really nowhere for a conversation to go once you invoke the Gates comparison. I spent most of my Saturday trying to figure out just where my life had gone wrong. Well, that and wondering just how much plastic surgery I can get for the change I find in my couch.

At the very least I figure it means I need a haircut.

Editor's note: So, is it true? Am I young Bill Gates' doppelganger? If you're not sure, check out this column with the accompanying photos at and judge for yourself.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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