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July 13, 2006

Please address your hate mail to crazyauntpurl@delete.com. Thanks!

The July 2006 issue of Esquire magazine has an interesting cover story:

That's me, with Esquire and my boughtnpaidfor nails...

The article and a few surrounding pieces focus on "The State of the American Man" and you can read it online here. I bought this magazine because when I was flipping through it while standing in line at the 7-11 (surprise!), I saw this quote:

We're faced with the accrual of a large population of boys who aren't well-prepared for either school or work. "The problem," says one advocate, "is what this will add up to in twenty years."

As soon as I read that, I said to myself, "Oh, my little 'advocate' ... you don't have to wait twenty long years to see what this will add up to! All you need to do is come to Los Angeles right now and try this crazy thing called dating." Of course, I kept that thought to myself, because I am a nice girl and also I am deeply sensitive to the amount of hate mail I could get for saying a thing like that out loud. I know I'd be instantly branded a bitter hag of a man-hater and fish/bicycle references would pour in.

Then yesterday I saw reader Susan's comment, in which she said:

I apologize PROFUSELY for the generally horrid job our local mothers have done raising thier sons to be decent dating material. May I offer up my three most valuable bits of hard-earned dating knowledge for avoiding "Los Angelenos Horrible Mannerus"?:

#1 - Beware the "we should hang out sometime" routine! If a man isn't going to get up the nerve to ask you on a proper date - how the hell's he gonna get anything ELSE up to do even more vital functions? Just smile and change the subject. If he's dying to spend time with you, he'll find the nerve to ask properly!

#2 - I always made my weekend plans by Wednesday at 10 pm. Firm. If the guy of the moment doesn't call by then, he's gotta wait another week, or until lunch on Monday (if he wants to buy me lunch!). This culls out the possibility of being a last-minute resort some Friday night when he's realized he's bored and his x-box hasn't got breasts.

#3 - To avoid the loathed "So, whaddya wanna do?" after you're in the car, ask "So, what's the dress code?" when you settle on a time for a date. "Is it a picnic, the movies....what should I wear?" Maybe it's just me, but I HATE guys who don't properly plan a date -- it's like a host that invites you to dinner, but expects YOU to plan the menu!

I know it's kind of bitchy and old-fashioned. But hey, in a town where it seems most of the guys are watching "Entourage" as a dating manual, a girl's gotta have skills to get respect.

It was as if Susan had read my mind.

As ya'll know, I waited a LONG LONG time to venture back into dating, and I took my time, thought it through, worked on some personal stuff so that I wouldn't be working out my issues with every poor Joe and Harry who encountered me and my matched 32-piece set of heavy luggage. So I got my emotional baggage down to a manageable carry-on, handbag and drama wallet. Then I got my hair did and my nails done and ventured forth into the fray.

What I discovered was ... kind of sad, really.

In the space of time between now and when I was last actively dating (what? ten years ago? give or take a little?), men have lost the ability to properly date. Not just that, they have lost the ability to even ask a woman on a proper date.

I've only been doing this horrible dating thing since March, and I have discovered that the old, perfectly lovely phrase "Would you like to have dinner with me?" has been replaced by the following:

A: "Hey, you want to hook up sometime?"
Translation: I'm too lazy to make plans with you.

B: "Hey, wannna kick it sometime?"
Translation: See Option A, plus I have bad grammar.

C: "So, want to come over and watch a movie?"
Translation: I'm too lazy to make plans, and I am also cheap. But I'm hoping that proximity will get me laid.

D: "I could come over to your place and we could watch a movie."
Translation: My place is a mess/I live at home/I'm hiding a significant other, but I want to get laid.

E: "Call me if you want to hang out sometime."
Translation: (I have no idea. See how bad I am at this dating thing?)

One might think this sort of behavior was limited to men ages 25 and under. One would be wrong. How a man can reach the age of FORTY YEARS OLD and not know how to take a woman on a proper date is beyond me. And ya'll. This isn't brain surgery. It's not like we're asking to be catered to and financially supported and worshiped in gilt-shrine-fashion with expensive gifts in tiny, blue boxes. Just a phone call and a proper date. Call and say, "Hi. Would you like to go see a movie/go have coffee/go to dinner/attend a free concert in Woodland Hills/go on a picnic at the beach/go to a party with me next Saturday?"

That's all. SO EASY. (And, of course follow through on said date.) (Notice the freebie option, too. I'll take good manners over a hefty wallet any day of the week and twice on Sundays.)

I told this very thing to a guy I met recently, and he informed me he just didn't like having to "jump through some woman's hoops for a date."

Well, sir, I don't really want to shave my legs or underarms or pluck my eyebrows or get a haircut or wear my contact lenses or listen to that story about the time you won your fantasy football league, either. But because I do not want to be a rude, hairy woodland creature with bad eyesight I JUMP THROUGH THE AFOREMENTIONED HOOPS.

(Jump through hoops indeed. I quote Samantha when I say, "They don't call it a JOB for nothing.")

At this point, those of ya'll already penning your poison email should back slowly away from the keyboard. Simple fact is, I don't hate men. I wouldn't care about this apparent man crisis if I hated men! I LOVE men. I love the way they smell and walk and talk and fix stuff and you know what stuff I mean, I just love everything about them.

But I'm not real fond of BOYS. Especially BOYS that should already be grown and be MEN. Just seems like a lot of guys don't want to man up, don't want to participate in normal adult dating behavior.

Is this just a Los Angeles thing? Or am I an antique? A relic from another time, when dating meant a phone call on Wednesday asking you to a date on Saturday? Am I too small-town? Old-fashioned? Or have men really stopped being men and now they have descended into some x-box/playstation/DVD collecting no-man's-land (literally) where they desire only to live forever in an extended adolescence?

Help me. Help me understand this. I am so confused.

Send wine. And real men. c/o General Delivery, Los Angeles CA. Come to think of it, you can send your hate mail there, too. Whoops.

Posted by laurie at July 13, 2006 9:29 AM