So this is the point in the life of a blog, and I’m just assuming here because this is my first one, where you start getting traffic beyond just your friends that stop by and the few blogs that link to yours. For whatever reason, my “On Dating” post has gotten exponentially more traffic than anything else, and from looking at the data dashboard the majority of daily hits isn’t traceable to another blog, website or some poor soul who Googles “nick manning droppin’ loads” and ends up here. So maybe I’m getting repeat customers, and if that is the case I thank you for making it a point to stop by. If you happen to be Zooey Deschanel, Gabby Glaser from Luscious Jackson (and you like guys now), or Kate Winslet (the “Quills”/”Holy Smoke” Winslet, not the really skinny one), then by all means be sure to say hello. I’ve got a million different things I could write about, and for a brief moment I actually thought about trying to appeal to more people for the sake of traffic. But fuck all that, I’ve always preferred dogs over people, so I’m sticking with what I’m feeling at any given time. And what I’m feeling usually revolves around women, food, the dismal failure known as evangelical American culture, and whatever quirky and sometimes offensive concepts that happen to be rolling around in my bean. Now, if I ever get the kind of traffic that could somehow make me some money, I’m not above going buns-up to corporate wastemongers.
So the thing that has been on my mind all week long is something, other than drinking, that came up at my therapy appointment this week. I was doing my best to communicate a thought that dawned on me whenever I was writing about online dating. It was something along the lines of…”After I lose as much weight as I can, I would like to get turned down by the same types of women who turned me down when I was at my heaviest, because then I will truly know my limitations”. That is not it exactly, but you get the general meaning. My therapist looked at me a little quizzically and asked, “Would you rather be judged by your weight than your character”? I immediately looked back at HER quizzically and said, “Are you joking? Of course. There is no question. I’ve never liked my weight, but I’ve always LOVED my character”. All of the self-image insecurities aside, I really do like the person that I am. Now the ironic thing is, those same insecurities have helped sharpen all of the strongest elements of my personality….the extreme sense of humor, cynicism, outgoing nature, devil’s advocate, etc. I think of it in terms of the old cliche about how a blind person’s other senses become much stronger to make up for the lack of sight. My habit of over-compensating for what I’ve always thought of as a debilitating handicap has helped to create the “character” that I feel I shouldn’t have to defend or explain…..pigeon-hole me as “the fat guy” and the biggest reaction you’ll get out of me is mock horror, but if you constantly make me explain when I’m joking or you never catch on to my deadpan sarcasm, I really start to doubt myself. Eventually I’ll convince myself that the problem is with YOU and be on my way, but not before going through a mental inventory to fix the issue. I’ve never been into sports, or been very competitive at all for that matter, so fortunately (or sadly) I’ve found other avenues through which I can channel all of that primal “dude” energy and become an extremely charismatic person who holds court. That’s what I do. I hold court. That is MY Superbowl. Granted, I only hold court with people I really care about, so they’re probably just being nice…”he’s kind of cute in that retarded Corky from Life Goes On kind of way, just let him do his thing, he’ll wear himself out eventually”…but it is COURT nonetheless, goddammit.
So in all seriousness, there is obviously some kind of irrational fear involved with no longer having the weight to fall back on when women go “what an asshole”. I’ve still got a ways to go before I cross THAT bridge, but I’m always eager to make my therapist earn her money. And now that alcohol (thankfully) has become “boring” to me like cheese did when I’d already stockpiled a ton of it, I have to keep her on her toes. Now I know there are a LOT of people who espouse the theory that “looks don’t matter, it’s what is in your heart that counts”. To those people I say…whatever works for you, but I live in this place we call “the real world”. I can’t tell you how mind-numbingly surreal it is when some famous model-type chick is doing a TV interview and they say, “really, I’m just looking for a nice guy who can make me laugh, looks aren’t that important to me”. But do any of them pair off with the Danny DeVito’s of the world? Christ no. And don’t go throwing that Julia Roberts/Lyle Lovett anomaly at me. I know I’m a cynical prick, but people generally breed with their own kind….they don’t usually go outside of their class (yes, we have a very strict class system in America) and they don’t venture too far outside the family’s DNA structure. That is the way it is and the way it always shall be. Even if I’m wrong, those are the pieces of our sociological puzzle that keep me sharp, so I’m sticking with my story.
So how much do looks really matter? As much as I hammer on the dreamers, I do appreciate the counterpoint they bring to the argument. I truly do. It’s like people who have always had money and say it isn’t that important….they don’t have to worry about it because they’ve always had it. Someone with a dreamer worldview who has made it work for them is truly fortunate. I don’t say that as if I think they are ignorant of anything, everyone has their own pain and their own issues, I’m sure I’ve “always had” some kind of emotional capital that many of THEM can point back at me and tell me that ignorance is bliss. That aside, if I’m one shallow motherfucker for my belief in how much looks really do count and I’ve just never found “the right person” to make me quit believing that, then this is one old dog who can exist without the new tricks. I’m also a guy who is more than happy to give up all of the secrets about how (most) guys think. Looks matter to us. A lot. And oh yeah, no matter how much we may tell you we don’t care about porn, we’re only saying that to shut you up or make you feel better. We like porn. All of those times when you are suspicious about whether we’re looking at porn or not……..we’re looking at porn. We just don’t like to be called on it, so when we lie about it, it’s not so much the porn as it is getting called out. And when YOU like porn, on some level that scares the shit out of us because we lose some aspect of our control. Also, when you make us do things like go shopping or hold your purse while you try on clothes…..whether we realize it consciously or not, it is the reason for the next several days of passive aggressive hell we put you through. There are, of course, some exceptions to all of these things….plenty of couples like porn, and some guys love to clothes shop with their significant others. Either that, or these guys have evolved into a new breed of beautiful liar that I can only aspire to become. Well played gentlemen. Well played.
So back to the looks thing…..fortunately, not all guys like the same kind of woman (or women, men), so to some degree the whole discussion really is relative. For example, during those rare moments when I’m actually having lunch with co-workers and they are checking out women they find attractive, I often wonder to myself “so judging by her…is he really saying he likes ten year old boys?”. I’ve just never liked the classical blonde beauty that is the cornerstone of media-driven female insecurity in America; there’s nothing unique about them. Even as a teenager, when the SI Swimsuit issue came out I never really “got it”. But in my own way I’ve always been a slave to the looks/character conundrum that inspired this post. By society’s standards I’ve been the guy who always tried dating out of his class, so to speak, and in my twenties I would heap endless attention upon a specific breed of polyamorous, polytheistic little bundle of extreme contradictions…..and it would all end in tears (or worse….”friendship”). Then up until now in my late thirties I went too far the OTHER direction and went with what Bukowski referred to as the “quiet clean girls in gingham dresses”, supressing my core sense of humor and love for all things bizarre and politically incorrect in order to make them happy by being someone that I wasn’t……and it would all end in tears.
In my last relationship I was shocked and saddened to look in the mirror one morning and realize I had become the most heinous and unoriginal male stereotype…….the guy who “just doesn’t listen to her” and “never wants to talk about her day” or “never just hugs her for for no reason at all”. I wasn’t there for her unconditionally, and even though I knew this there was nothing I could do to make myself care enough to fix it. So when I think of all of those stereotypes that have made so many people rich with books about Mars and Venus and witty little catchphrases like “he’s just not that into you”, I believe the whole thing is much simpler than we give it credit for. Human beings like to make things more complicated in order to give simple events more significance….yet at the same time they want catchy, simple answers to life’s biggest questions. With the divorce rate in America being at least 50%, I think the following theory is at least worth considering……..all of the male and female stereotypes are bullshit. When you find yourself constantly speaking to the back of your husband’s head because he doesn’t want to talk to you, or you wonder when your wife will EVER stop beating you over the head with crap you did ten years ago…..maybe the simple answer is you never belonged together, and taking the easy route in order to be with someone has finally reached its logical conclusion. Sure, you should try and work to make things better because you’ve built a life around one another with the kids, the house, etc., but at its core the relationship just wasn’t a good match. So instead of beating your head against the wall by trying to “fix” them or yourself with the plethora of self-help marketing that is only meant to sell more books based on stereotypes, why not just see the situation as it really is, and try to accept them for who they are. And if you want to make things work go and find a professional that didn’t go to the school of Dr. Phil, so that you can start making sense of where you are at and work towards some level of happiness and equality. If that’s not a reasonable option, then either try to learn how to live in your misery or cowboy-up and go live a life that is not dependent on the acceptance of someone else. See what I mean? And THAT didn’t cost you one penny.
I guess I’ve stuck to KIND OF a theme with all of this. Or at least the looks/character topic was the springboard for all of it. I’ve never gotten very good at closing something out with one of those quippy little “….and so the moral of the story is” phrases that reuses a line from the first paragraph in a slightly different way for effect…..oh man I hate those, and if you are a writer who does that I hate YOU. Yes, I’m talking to YOU Charles Ferruzza from Pitch magazine. I’m not saying I have all of this self-image and relationship stuff figured out, I’m just a mildly literate rambler. And while I’m in love with my cynicism I do keep a few embers burning for a reality that may or may not exist, where I channel Bukowski in his final happily married years.