Monday, March 10, 2008


EA and MG and I have been swapping emails over the last couple weeks, discussing our usual topic - men.

The exchange started with a description - "he looks good on paper." That led to a multitude of emails detailing the traits we consider "non-negotiable."

I'm still happily on my man fast, but this is an intellectual exercise which never grows old.

My list:

A guy who:

1. has the dark, brooding good looks of Clive Owen
2. the talent and quirkiness of Johnny Depp
3. can correctly spell and punctuate his sentences
4. can hum or play Bach

EA's list of non-negotiables was much more reasonable. But nonetheless, we decided that the only men who actually possess all the desired traits are gay - which violates the only TRULY non-negotiable trait: heterosexuality.

So it's really a matter of prioritizing and compromising - because at some point, you have to accept that one's expectations might be unrealistically high.

That said, I had a conversation the other day with a guy that I have no interest in romantically or sexually, but it was a good conversation - he was smart, thoughtful, capable of engaging in a lively conversation on a wide variety of topics and showed insight into how others think, and demonstrated interest in my opinions. This isn't such a remarkable thing, well, at least it SHOULDN'T be so remarkable, but given that such conversations with straight men have proven to be quite rare, I found it a shockingly new experience and thought him more attractive for it. Is this an example of expectations being too low?

A friend of mine wanted to uncover the specific reasons behind my man fast:

Friend: "Is it that you are just too picky?"
Me: "Well, think of some of the guys I have been with. Clearly, I'm not picky at all."
Friend: "You've got a point there."

The man fast is in place because I can't really spare the energy right now to take a man seriously.

However, despite the fast, I still keep my hand in the dating scene because there is something that would trump the reasoning behind the fast, something that would even trump any and all of the "non-negotiables": the tingles.

And the tingles happen inexplicably, unpredictably - and might not be necessarily inspired by washboard abs or broad shoulders, although, of course, those attributes don't hurt.

I have great respect for the tingles. And I have rarely ignored that siren call. Even with my self-imposed man fast, I would break that fast in a blink of an eye, if I heard the call strongly enough.

But in the meantime, I flirt with boys, usually those far younger than I am, whom I do not have to take seriously. It's just play, with all the control in my hands, no demands for more than I want to give, no compromise necessary on my part.

I find it rather amusing that I started this post by discussing standards and expectations vis-a-vis men, and I have ended it by realizing that I have not only somehow become a man, I've become the asshole version of one.


Robespierre said...

Your post reminds me of a running conversation that I have with myself: arranged marriages. I have come to see the wisdom of them. Marriage is too important to be entrusted to the young. I am not advocating that we fully return to an age where Dad arranges your spouse and there that is. But perhaps a modified version of this should occur: arrange your own marriage. Here is how this would work for you. You do not completely forget the tingles, but you put that down a few notches. Here is your priority list:

(1) Is he a nice person? This is a simple one but it is all too often ignored.
(2) On a daily basis would he make my life better or worse? Basically is daily life with this person going to work.
(3) Does this person value long-term relationships? Does he have long-standing friends that demonstrate his desire to know people for a long time.
(4) OK OK .... here is where the tingles and face/body/what he does for a living come into play etc. etc. SO if he has enough of #4 to get a date and then passes #'s 1,2,3 .... you are now at the self-arranging marriage stage. You don't need to think anymore. This is a person you can be happy with and if you are not happy with them, it is because you yourself do not pass the #'s 1,2,3 test.

Thank You. Stepping down from soap box now.

C-Belle said...

LOVE this. I love checklists and schedules and easy to follow paradigms. Will print this out on little cards, laminate them, and distribute to everyone I know. Maybe I'll even charge a buck or two.