Wednesday, March 2, 2011

All the Queen's Men

The Setting: Wedding at a nightclub on a Sunday night.

The Character: Your blogger, Miss Heather Taylor, in a pretty little black dress with a pearl necklace and red heels. No black tights tonight, nude panty hose. I mean business. I am also well beyond tipsy at this point, as is my wont when going out.

The Scene: I snag a guy from not one but two girls in under 1:30 of Katy Perry's "California Gurls" One of the girls is one of my friends, but she is totally cool with it. Proper dancing commences. Twirls, prettiness all around. DJ puts on salsa music. Dirty dancing begins. Hello, mojo.

The Big Time: Aaaaand, we're making out at the bar. The right side of my brain is feelin' good. This is promising. He is 3 years older than me. Has a great name. Very attractive. Employed. Well, damn this is a rarity for me. Here comes the phone number! It's looking up...

The Dealbreaker: "It's a temporary number." ...until it isn't anymore. The left side of my brain snaps my right side wide open. I stand there smiling, smiling, smiling but my brain screams, "What the what? Is this seriously my life. Can I ever get with a guy who understands how to pay for his phone bill? It is the basics of bill payments people! Red flag, red flag, RED FLAG."

I'd say I'd overreacted but I never actually said any of this to his face. And he never texted or called despite the fact that he did get his real number a few weeks later.

Le sigh.

It's just another night in the journey for the single girl who is forever looking for that "Real Man" (Trademark), the elusive creature of the night that even the Wall Street Journal is also musing over its recent disappearance from our society. Pulling quotes from author Kay Hymowitz's gorgeous article, maybe the answer is right under my nose as to "Where Have the Good Men Gone?"

"Among pre-adults, women are the first sex. They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34% of women now have a bachelor's degree but just 27% of men), and they have higher GPAs. As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive. These strengths carry women through their 20s, when they are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace. In a number of cities, they are even out-earning their brothers and boyfriends."

If there is one thing synonymous with me, it's my work ethic. As of right now, I work as a copywriter, manage two blogs, and work as a freelance writer on the weekends. Dull moments are rare for me, and I spend my life being caught in a perpetual swing of moving motion. I multitask and how!

I'll admit I go through phases of life WAY differently than most people. When I was 13, I had a pre-quarter life crisis. They say puberty is tough for everyone but for me, it was literally a loss of identity. I didn't know what I believed when it came to religion or politics. I didn't know how I wanted to dress or what I aspired to do with my life at all. Have you ever looked in the mirror and had no idea who the person looking back at you was? Have you ever had that feeling last for three years? I did. During this time, I turned to my Dad, the self-proclaimed "man for all seasons" who would take me out for lunches and listen to me wail about my life and offer me advice. I fought with him on viewpoints he had I didn't agree with and even during the moments I pretended not to listen to him, I always was. At that age, I craved intellectual conversation which I didn't get at school and only found my voice in books, which I read through like they were going out of print. My Dad gave me great advice on where to take my future, where my strengths lay, how to begin working for what I wanted because no one would ever give it to me on my own. He told me how to invest in the stock market and to begin a stock portfolio early on. Most of all, his biggest piece of advice was "always have an edge" which he argued that at the time I did not have which I fought back with him on until we were both blue in the face.

I am confident. I don't know how I am, but I hold tight to this invisible faith inside of me that everything will work out if I make it work. This year was the biggest year of my life because it was the first year I began to work for everything I have and take it in a direction without the comfortable confines of school holding me snugly in its bubble. Breaking out of the bubble hurt, but it had to be done. Prolonging adulthood, this dream of my career I've fallen asleep to on restless nights, was never an option to me. In many ways, I have my Dad to thank for showing me direction and being able to love me the way I've always needed love: at arm's length. Close enough to be there when I need it, but far enough to let me be and do things on my own terms and learn the lessons within them.

"It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing."

Here are the necessary qualities I look for in men.

*note* These are non-negotiable. Yes, I read Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink which references that during speed-dating and courtship most women will drop their ideal man in favor of the real thing, but I am not most women. I am me and I do not budge on certain traits. If I am single forever, then I'm single forever. Will I one day meet someone who will make this entire post seem girlish and moot in point? Maybe. Don't hold your breath yet...

1) Good sense of humor. Witty banter and verbal wordplay are included on this. If I'm not laughing, then I'm not happy. My happiness levels, I've discovered, are linked to how often I'm cracking a terrible joke or giggling at any given moment.

2) Sharp. Dressed. Man. I did the "date the hobo" thing and it did not work. I cannot tell you how awful it is to have an acquaintance come up to you and wonder aloud, "How are you two even together? You're so nicely dressed and he, er, isn't!" Love shouldn't be about clothes, but you're talking to a girl who gets stars in her eyes when staring at creases in dress shirts. It's probably not healthy for a girl to sit in class and fantasize a roomful of properly dressed guys in argyle and Oxfords sitting around her either, but there ya go.

3) Love At Arms Length. Because I need space and time to be alone very often. Giving up pieces of my independence comes very hard for me.

4) Able to hold their own with me. If I think I can, I will try the patience of someone with me and up the ante looking for a response. I also say inappropriate things, swear, and argue with the best of them. Just hold your ground with me. For once, I'd like the first fight to not be the last one.

5) Older than me. I have a very strong attraction to older men. I think it was genetic.

I blame Judd Apatow for the invention of the "manchild", the kind of guy that seems to literally surround me nonstop today: grubby slacker with part-time job, ramshackle apartment, and Cheeto stains on his 3 day unwashed shirt. The question is does Kay see this too?

"Where have the good men gone? Their male peers often come across as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers—a gender gap neatly crystallized by the director Judd Apatow in his hit 2007 movie "Knocked Up." The story's hero is 23-year-old Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), who has a drunken fling with Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) and gets her pregnant. Ben lives in a Los Angeles crash pad with a group of grubby friends who spend their days playing videogames, smoking pot and unsuccessfully planning to launch a porn website. Allison, by contrast, is on her way up as a television reporter and lives in a neatly kept apartment with what appear to be clean sheets and towels. Once she decides to have the baby, she figures out what needs to be done and does it. Ben can only stumble his way toward being a responsible grownup."

Oh this is so disturbing. And by disturbing, I mean that Seth Rogen in this film is supposed to be depicting a 23 year old when he is clearly way older. But look at the way this is written. Only because Katherine Heigl is having a baby will he finally begin the road to becoming an adult. Is that what it takes for guys today? Do they need the girl they had a fling with to get pregnant to pull them away from their Call of Duty and excess bongwater collecting in their bongs? Is he being a good man here-or really just being a guy trapped into a responsibility that had it not happened, he wouldn't give a second thought to?

Hymowitz writes, "Americans had always struck foreigners as youthful, even childlike, in their energy and optimism. But this was too much."

Clearly, I am destined to be with a foreign guy. While I do love optimism, there's a thin line between remaining forever a child and growing up.

"The knowledge economy gives the educated young an unprecedented opportunity to think about work in personal terms. They are looking not just for jobs but for "careers," work in which they can exercise their talents and express their deepest passions. They expect their careers to give shape to their identity. For today's pre-adults, "what you do" is almost synonymous with "who you are," and starting a family is seldom part of the picture."

There you have it. When work ethic is to Heather as salt is to pepper, you know that in the event of sacrificing my identity through my career for a guy, I would give up the guy. What I do is who I am. Writing is my world, quite literally. When life is impossible or unpleasant, I create a new one through words. A long time ago, I wrote up my dream man with all of his fantastic qualities that you see written up there. Then I gutted him with flaws and problems and birthed reality into his veins. He still resides inside of my head where I continue to tweak and fiddle with his personality. If I ever stop procrastinating and write him out onto Word Documents, I'd flesh out a person you'd never forget. Which I suppose is my biggest flaw within him: this list of standards I have that fill up even my imaginary creations. My standards may be the death of me. Any guy reading this post I feel would slowly start backing away because once more, I'm behaving too intensely, taking too much control, behaving like well, like the man. A couple of my friends have told me that I tend to embody both male and female characteristics which makes it difficult for guys to approach me. In which case all I can say is, try. I have quite a bit of respect for men who approach me first as opposed to the other way around.

I don't bite, despite my reputation.

Joking :)

"Single men have never been civilization's most responsible actors; they continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers. So we can be disgusted if some of them continue to live in rooms decorated with "Star Wars" posters and crushed beer cans and to treat women like disposable estrogen toys, but we shouldn't be surprised."

Ugh, it pains me to caption a picture of the gorgeous Ralph Fiennes with this. Men of the world, read this and know that I, Heather Taylor, am always in awe of you. I admire how you dress so well, make conversation beautifully, pick up the bar tab, and hold the door open no matter what for a lady.

In contrast, guys of the world, you can be like this. I'm very much a believer that one day you will trade the Natty Light for a Manhattan, the Star Wars for Wes Anderson, and the part-time job at Kinko's to a managerial position at the nicer Kinko's down the street.

Ah, Jimmy, I know. The good ones are out there somewhere. Sometimes you just have to travel to other seas to find the right fish though.

Love to you all,


Jo said...

Cary Grant = perfection. No, not gay. Just had a bff.

No permanent phone number + getting one next week = still a BIG RED FLAG.

Still, good ones are out there. Lots of 'em! :)

Lindsey said...

They don't make them like they used to... and not to be contradictory, but Seth Rogen was 25 when he filmed Knocked Up...unbelievably.

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

He's out there for you dear. Never compromise. Be with someone who makes you better.

Btw, my husband is only a few months older but still pretty mature. I dated someone who was almost 7 years older but not so mature. It's a crapshoot.

Binny said...

*Sigh* I already worry enough about not finding someone, this post isnt making me feel better...

but I do like the eye candy pictures you posted :)

(I agree with you on dressing well being non-negotiable. I'm the same way)

Phoenix said...

I think guys definitely hang out longer in the Scruffy Guy period than they used to. But we always have to be careful about looking back longingly at the past - half the guys back then smoke like chimneys, drank, cheated, and/or hit their wives.

Every generation has to deal with guys who refuse to grow up. But there are definitely still some good ones out there, so don't give up hope, okay? :)

Celita said...

It's nice to see that someone else's non-negotiable list is so similar to mine.

And with the exception of "sharp dressed man", I can attest that they exist. I keep one at home ;)

Maybe the work ethic and intensity that make all of these "dudes" shy away, will someday be the things that snag you your match.