Last week I attempted to write a rebuttal to my dear friend Caroline's attack on the GSElevator's "How To Be A F%#king Man" post. It fell way short of anything I would consider readable. Which I suppose is telling in some ways. I fall under the category of twentysomething girls who have no idea what they are looking for in a guy from one day to the next. We live in a world where a "contemporary man" can be easily muddled with an "arrogant a$$hole." Or are they really the same? According to Caroline, yes. When I first read GSElevator's post, which by the way made its way to CNBC and Business Insider (a daily go-to of mine) I was sold hook, line and sinker. The post is written in such a manner that certain key points stick out more than others, especially to girls who pride themselves on "standards." It seemed as though Cary Grant himself dictated phrases such as "you will regret your tattoos," "when in doubt, kiss the girl," and "measure yourself only against your previous self" to some young protege. They were enough to overlook the tips like "own a handgun" and "do 50 push-ups, sit-ups, and dips before you shower each morning."
If I'm being honest I agree with 63% of this list. Of the remaining 37%, 15% comes from disagreements with the actual "advice," while the other 22% comes from giving the notion that such a man, or better yet-population of men-even exists. I know men who brunch and roll up their ties in a designated tie drawer. I also know men who take the time to understand ERAs and become regulars at more than one bar. These are not the same type of man. The 15% of points I inherently disagree with is able to be overlooked. You should always give any person that much variance for benefit of the doubt.
The 22% is the problem that twentysomethings-not just girls, but the whole demographic-faces: long checklists. A few years ago, fresh off graduating from college, mine and Caroline's friend Julie and I took a road trip to Chicago for St. Patrick's Day. At the time Julie was seriously dating her now-husband, Ross and the picture of a life together looked very clear. While mine was as fuzzy as our weekend there. Though I did not think of it as such. On the way home Julie and I discussed our "futures." Hers included the basics: someone she enjoyed bringing to family parties, a partner for DIY home projects, and a personal comedian-even if it was sometimes at the expense of his Star Trek anthology. Mine included all of the above (though I couldn't really see a Star Trek trilogy finding a place amongst my Sex and the City collection) with the additions of being financially savvy (wanting and financing multiple homes), being cultured (traveling to a new foreign country and new U.S. city every year), and owning a boat. OWNING A BOAT. I'm sure I don't have to tell any of you, but that's not even a quality. These were just a few items among a laundry list I had in my head, but did not have the time to vocalize all during our trip home. Again-this was a few years ago, and I am [not-so] proud to admit that it did not take long for me to realize such things were just...well, all the things you are thinking. If I was making a list though, why not throw those on there?
Lists, outlines, bullet points-whatever your preference-are one of today's greatest forces of evil. People exist. Lists do not. I cannot even purchase a full grocery list at the treasure trove that is Trader Joe's. So how is a person-inherently born with faults-supposed to embody one?
When I originally drafted and [irresponsibly] posted this response last week I conceded to Caroline. If it's possible to take that back, I'd like to call it a draw. While I agree that the "Contemporary Man" seems more fictional than heroic, I find it at the very least aspirational. After all, guys should be ambitious enough to read a piece even more lofty than one that could be found in The Economist. However, I'll always take a guy who prefers his whiskey over his concern for sartorial togetherness. And I think that a girl who prefers otherwise should be entitled to her gem. Both, I am quite sure, could turn out to be fine, nice men living in these contemporary of times.