I guess I should have written this a few weeks ago, but I’m not much for what I call Hallmark Holidays. My friends and I celebrate our own weird little set of holidays- last year we held the First Annual Spanksmas!, which is not nearly as kinky as it sounds- but commercial holidays fly right by me.
But enough about me and my strange holidays.
I don’t understand how the world has so many single people in it who desperately do not want to be single. I mean, I never particularly cared if I had a boyfriend (is that the appropriate term for me to use as I stomp into middle age?), but I’ve never been single for long. That’s not bragging; more of a curiosity, because it seems to me the world is riddled with singles who want, more than anything, a warm hand in the moonlight and a pair of lips on New Year’s Eve.
Take my friend Jay and yes, that is his real name, largely because I’m too lazy to make one up but also because he doesn’t care. Jay is, by anyone’s definition, a Good Guy. By Good Guy, I mean the sort of guy who will hear you like Snuggies and go buy you one, or make you a mix tape of Christmas music because he thinks you will like it. He does not need to have a romantic interest in you to do these things, but it helps. When he does them, though, he tends to creep women out. I can’t explain it but I have watched it. I wish I could explain it to him, because it’s like watching a puppy go up to a really haughty cat over and over and over again. The best I can come up with is that Jay decides what he wants rather quickly and can be rather intense about it. Since this intensity strikes well before the object of his affection has had a chance to come to the same conclusion, they usually back off. Which, of course, perplexes Jay, who is a logical sort and accepts but does not understand irrationality.
What I don’t get is, yes, Jay is a computer type and yes, Jay is a little esoteric and snarky and often a little too intellectual in his cultural references, but he’s fun to be around and makes a decent living and, while he’s not exactly a hardbody (see “computer type,” above) he’s not about to collapse because his muscles have atrophied, either. He has no open sores and no ex-wives or children and doesn’t live with his parents. So why, then, is he still single? Is it because he’s so intense with his attentions?
I think it’s more because Jay simply doesn’t fit a woman’s expectation of what she’s going to get in a man. My single female friends almost immediately discount him as dating material. I’ve known Jay since I was 15 and he was quite a bit older, and he’s certainly never going to be mainstream, but I wasn’t aware that mattered as we all graduated from high school many, many years ago. So what’s up with Jay? Why do all of my single friends- many of whom desperately want to marry and reproduce at some point- eschew Jay and all men like him? Why will an otherwise sane and lovely woman spurn the Good Guy and go after the one who uses the back room of her apartment to build a meth lab?
Perhaps most women who date with the idea of a prize at the end (marriage, child, house on the water, whatever) also develop a picture in their heads of the person with whom they will share those things. Which I understand without subscribing to, but it’s a shame, because it leaves a lot of lovely women single and, ultimately, settling for less than what they want or remaining unhappy and single indefinitely. Very dangerous, this idea of placing your dreams in the hands of an imaginary man. I’ve always preferred to count on myself to make my dreams come true, but then I’ve never really had a desire to have children, so maybe I’m not being fair to those ladies whose uteri (is that the proper plural of uterus?) scream for motile, potent sperm. And in the process, while the Universe has passed several “creatively” successful men through my life, I’ve managed, eventually to ferret them all out and decide that I can go broke and make mistakes very nicely on my own, thank you.
Nice Guys, or Good Guys, really don’t finish last, I swear they don’t. After several decades of less than that, I stumbled upon a decent man, and I do mean stumbled; I’m so incredibly clueless about dating (I married young, back when flirting was more libido-based than intellectually so) that had it not been for Mr. Nice Guy Jay and a savvy girl friend, I would likely still be having adolescent fantasies and trying to figure out how I could get his attention. After a few decades of –let’s call it misguided- dating it’s divine to not be dating the guy who cleans out your checking account or steals your dog or cheats on you with your best friend and then yells at you for being mistrustful.
I wonder, too, if the women who always manage to end up with these great guys, or Good Guys, do so because they don’t have an image in mind about what the guy would look like or act like or do for a living. I wonder if these women, like me, focused more on how they felt when they were with that man. Oh, and forearms. Forearms and shoulders count, too. At least, to me. I have a friend who is all about the eyes and another who goes in for chests. But none of us ever, to my knowledge, sat down and said, “I will date a man who makes six figures and has blonde hair and wears Armani and is in a band on the weekends.” At least, none of my friends who aren’t into imaginary men said that.
And trust me, these women aren’t ugly, unemployed, whiny losers. On the whole, they are thin, toned, gorgeous women with good careers, interests outside of makeup and shoes, and IQs higher than most. When I look at it that way, I’m not actually sure what they’re doing hanging out with me. Maybe I’m the funny one.
I don’t know how that career or thighs matter to much to men seeking partners, either. I suspect men care more about what women read and think than their career or hair color. I suspect they also find women who think about life, the Universe, and everything attractive as well, as they probably do women who find what they have to say scintillating. Of all my friends, you know who gets the most attention from guys when we go out? Shelly. Shelly, the lesbian, has more men paying attention to her than the rest of us put together. Shelly is beautiful, yes, but… how do I put this? No one finds out Shelly is gay and expresses shock. Stacey is supermodel thin; Leah has hair that would make Vidal Sassoon weep. Amanda has the bone structure of a Greek goddess. But Shelly… well, she’s not going to win any abs of steel contests, and she’s not going to be in a Victoria’s Secret catalog any time soon. Her favorite shirt in the world is a green checked thing that I think we’d all like to burn, and if you look up “cargo shorts” at Dictionary.com, you will see her picture.
But drop her in a nunnery and you will find Shelly surrounded by men almost instantly. Why? As far as I can tell, it’s because Shelly accepts people as they are and without expectation, which is, as a friend, about as good as it gets. If you have something interesting to say, she wants to talk to you. If nothing you say interests her, she will look for something about you that does. She doesn’t approach people with preconceived notions. Shelly, I think, would date Jay. You know, if she were attracted to men and they had anything in common but their mutual ability to snark.
None of this gets me any closer to finding out why Jay hasn’t found the love of his life who, in turn, returns his adoration. I still don’t get it; Jay is a lovable guy. He’s not Harrison Ford; he’s more of a cross between Rick Moranis’ character in Ghostbusters and Steve Jobs. Jay can be rude; he can be loud. He likes to sing karaoke. But I’ve dated men who thought Frasier was too intellectual. Hell, I’ve dated men who barely spoke English. How fussy do we have to be as a gender to turn down the Jays of the world? What lofty prize do we have in our heads that precludes a well-read, highly intellectual, fairly open-minded network engineer from our dating pool?
Because, you know, ladies, we have GOT to be running out of losers here soon.