In her recent book, Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, author Kay Hymowitz offers an explanation as to why men in their twenties and early thirties fail to grow up. ”The child-man… is the lost son of a host of economic and cultural changes: the demographic shift I call pre-adulthood, the Playboy philosophy, feminism, the wild west of our new media and a shrugging iffiness on the subject of husbands and fathers,” she states. “He has no life script, no reason to grow up.”
In an interview printed in March on MyDaily.com, Hymowitz translates pre-adults as “young, educated, single people between the ages of about 21 and 35.” She asserts that with marriage and children happening much later and women earning as much as, if not more than, men, cultural norms are evaporating. Women want equality in the boardroom, yet we want men to ask us out and pay for dinner. Or do we? What are the rules?
As a 32-year-old female living in New York City, I feel that Hymowitz’s book offers some illuminating reasons as to why the men I’ve dated have possibly behaved the way they have. Gender rules are confusing.
Personally, I don’t feel the pressure to get married or have children and haven’t yet decided if I ever will. I’m allowing myself this indecision instead of freaking out. (Which would be easy to do when listening to members of my family ask for the millionth time why I don’t have a boyfriend or when am I planning on getting married.) This doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t want to find someone wonderful. If wishes were granted, this man will be sweet, intelligent, funny, curious, open-minded and able to hold a conversation, all the while making me feel as if I am the most important person in his world. We shall see.
In the meantime, in the spirit of good will toward New York City women everywhere, I’m sharing with you 10 men I’ve dated in this town. So watch out for:
1. The hot guy with the leather jacket and sideburns on the L train.
After we made eye contact and started talking, he walked me 10 blocks and asked me out just as I realized that he had moss growing out of his hand. Well, it looked like moss. “Oh, yeah, the other day my window fell on my hand pretty bad, and I don’t have insurance—so I sewed it up myself.”
2. The steamy Tommy Hilfiger model.
I met him at a Williamsburg party. When he disappeared to the bathroom after our heavy make-out session, I asked if he was OK, and he responded, “Not really, I think I’m gonna go. I’m peeing blood.”
3. The nice man I met at the gym.
Who I discovered while having dinner together owns his own business dedicated exclusively to designing military outfits for dogs.
4. The deeply poetic musician.
He told me over spaghetti that, since he had completed his “opus,” he was ready to die. (He also told me that, based on a dream, he would die in a car accident alongside a brunette. I’m a brunette).
5. The sweet guy who, because he knew I’m a vegetarian, made reservations at one of the nicest restaurants in town.
Before we even sat down, he turned to me and gravely said, “There’s something you need to know: I have a serious health condition.” I said, “OK, what is it?” imagining all kinds of horrible things. “I can’t stop coughing up mucus chunks, and I take lots of medicine that makes me fall asleep,” he explained. He went on to tell me that his parents’ divorce when he was 4 had “fucked [him] up for life.” Nothing like a little small talk to get to know someone.
6. The gorgeous rocker with tattoos.
I met him in a quaint East Village coffee shop. We watched the rain trickle down the foggy window and ended up dating for three months. He sweetly insisted on switching sides with me when we walked down the sidewalk so my high heels didn’t get stuck in the grates. After not hearing from him for a few days, I left a message asking him to tell me what was going on, to which I received an email the next day that explained he’d hooked up with his old girlfriend at the wedding he went to upstate. “I’m sorry,” he wrote. “But she and I are gonna give it another go.”
7. My downstairs neighbor.
A bald psychic—and 30 years my senior—who confessed that I have secretly been his muse and that I have inspired him to paint again and will I pose for him nude?
8. The Italian.
With his thick curls and deep voice, the Italian told me: “You don’t want me. I’m minced. I’m broken. I’m diced goods.” Oh, and he only had one testicle. The latter didn’t bother me as much as the former.
9. The self-righteous, cynical, Leonard Cohen-obsessed Buddhist who stole my therapist and wanted to be an actor.
OK, this guy was my first love. After an hour-long phone conversation in which I confessed my feelings, I told him I never wanted to see him again, since he didn’t want to date me exclusively. All night I cried. Next morning I reported to the van where five other cater-waiters met to drive to Montclair, N.J., to work a millionaire banker’s Christmas party. I wore my tuxedo that made me feel like a man. Guess who I had to drive the hour-anda-half trip with in total silence? I didn’t even know he catered. Awkward.
10. The guy who smiled at me this morning after I left my yoga client’s apartment.
He wore a suit, and the early morning suited him. I smiled back. Hey, you never know.