What you need to know about that Saturday morning: I’d just finished a rousing round of quality time with myself. Look at me. Brave enough to allude to what I was doing but too prudish to spell it out. Walk with me here. I promise it has a point.
Anyway, there I was. Grinning, radiant, and ready to tackle the weekend. I slid open my phone’s screen for a quick morning scroll, only to find the last face I expected to see. Smack dab in the middle of my YouTube feed was the man who made me swear off men. Was this an episode of Black Mirror? Because I swore the same smile that convinced me to have drinks with him all those months ago sneered through the screen with smug judgement.
“How’s not going back to my hotel working for you now, Butterfingers?”
For a moment, I almost forgot.
Everything felt gloriously familiar that All-Star Saturday night. Even the winds slicing off the coast of Lake Erie as I directed a group of strangers to the bar their GPS failed to find twenty ice cold minutes earlier.
After two years on my couch, the very tall, very cute gentleman who invited me for drinks after the Dunk Contest was just what the doctor ordered.
As was downtown Cleveland in all its gussied-up glory. The twinkling yellow lights of the Theater District. Our three tall buildings decked in maroon and gold for the surprisingly good Cavaliers. To the relief of the disgusted 25-year-old in my head whose dream of lifelong singledom did not include Saturday nights watching YouTube, I still had it.
Unfortunately, me and my companion did not.
What we do have is an evening in a bar with the NBA on TNT crew. I check my inner dork enough to not gape at Charles Barkley and politely shake hands with Kenny Smith. I’m laughing. Soaking up office politics. Watching a group of Gen Z influencers I’ve never heard of get stopped for photos every five minutes. I run into old compadres from my social butterfly days. I feel like a clumsy caterpillar pretending she has wings.
While Mr. Tall and Cute takes occasional breaks from talking shop and tapping his phone to tell me how pretty I am.
Leading me to wonder, for what feels like the millionth time in the last few years: why are men so boring when they want to fuck you?
“Who told these dudes that endless gassing, instead of genuine interest and curiosity is the way into a woman’s vagina?” I whined when I recounted the details of the night.
The thinly veiled disbelief under Mr. Tall and Cute’s baby face when I explained I would not accompany him to his hotel room at 3:00 AM to “talk.” Or “watch movies,” which made me bark-laugh over my Jameson and ginger because I hadn’t heard that one since I was twenty-five. The near-argument we had when he couldn’t hail an Uber to get me back to my car, tried to say it was “a sign that I shouldn’t go,” and was told, as politely as I could manage through gritted teeth at 3:00 AM, I would walk to my car—with or without him—because I was going home.
When a wild Uber appeared, we ended on a “That was nice. You’ll never hear from me again” hug.
I had to know who this was working for.
Had the demands for “ABSOLUTE WORSHIP” from every corner of the Internet convinced men they didn’t have to be interesting; just heap on the praise? Had my post-35 body’s expanded bust and hip measurements rendered the rest of me not worth noticing?
“Do you know how many topics I can hold a conversation on?” Sports? Presenting: my ode to the New York Giants pass rush in Superbowl XLII. Music? I quote Hov better than most men. You a history buff? Sherman’s march through the South; not really mad at it. Philosophy? Those Stoics were really on to something, especially Epicurus. Into sci-fi/fantasy? Pick your poison: Star Wars, Marvel, or Game of Thrones? Pull a topic out of the sky. As long as it’s not physics or the fucking stock market (snooze emoji here), I got you.
And all men want to say is I’m “pretty”?
The ugly truth, wielded with trademark guy friend brutal efficiency—”Telling women they’re fine works more often than you think”—yielded the weariest of Old Negro Sighs.
Was I interested in a partner? No. But I was open to the thrill of new attractions. Without engaging repartee, the thrill was gone. I require plenty conversation with my sex. Word to T-Boz.
“So it’s me,” I declared, months before Taylor Swift made that a thing.
And with that, I was done trying to date.
Bringing me back to my blissful post-orgasmic Saturday morning. Moment of “Oh my god; can he see me?” absurdity aside, I had no regrets.
Handrew + an active imagination >>>>> a warm body + empty compliments.
Don’t ask how, but I recently ended up in a “men are not okay” YouTube rabbit hole.
I’ve been watching this space for a while (Ask my friends how many headlines I’ve text them with the question: “Are…men OKAY?!”). I spent my twenties and early thirties personally victimized by the “Here’s why you don’t have a man” advice industrial complex. The boys deserve their turn on the Summer Jam screen. Why aren’t they having more sex? How can they be more desirable, emotionally and economically?
To a degree, I empathize. I don’t envy learning that 70-80% of “how to be a man” is rooted in subjugating people no longer willing to be subjugated. It’s not your fault, but now that the shit won’t fly, it’s very much your problem. Masculinity needs a makeover. Unfortunately for everyone looking for romantic partnership with a man, you can’t knock it out in an hour-long HGTV block.
Committed bachelorette that I am, I’m passively interested. In an “I’d rather not get raped or murdered by some guy struggling with his place in society” way. Not a “HERE’S what I need from you as a man in order to be with you” way.
And certainly not in a “Awwww, the world is so hard on you. Here’s some pussy and a pat on the head” way.
Because a lot of the conversations on “the problem with men” is women not giving as many chances. Men need chances because they need responsibility. They don’t do well without
the promise of pussy at the end of the rainbow a sense of purpose.
Here’s where I get stabby.
That makes centuries of “you’re nobody until some man chooses you” propaganda—drumroll, please—A SCAM. Perpetuated to make US (hetero women) sacrifice ourselves on the altar to give MEN what THEY need to thrive. While we settled for the present of their mere presence. God forbid, you end up alone.
And now? It’s not enough. Can you be handsome and if not that, decently groomed? Are you an adult, capable of scheduling your own doctor’s appointments? Are you charming? Funny? Curious about new viewpoints and experiences? Do you have the resources you need to feel good about you? Are you able to locate a clitoris? Or open to feedback when you have trouble finding it?
Can you tell a woman something she can’t get in a mirror or an Instagram comment?
Lastly. Can you be okay when you’ve been the perfect gentleman and it’s still a “no”? Because chemistry. Or the moon. Or whatever. Politeness is basic human decency. Not a down payment on a blow job.
So, yeah. For the sake of society (and the whole not getting raped and murdered thing), I want men to be good. But if you ask me what I’ve got on moving that process along?
Good luck and Godspeed, my guy.