Can I say it? I feel really sorry for people who are dating now.
A whole generation has gone by since I last shopped for males. (In November, we will celebrate our 24th anniversary.) And from the looks of things, it's gotten kinda ugly out there.
I think it must be terrible for people to look you up and down, talk to you for five minutes, then press the buzzer: NEXT. Back in the day, before the internet, things were slower. You usually didn't press the NEXT buzzer until you knew the person fairly well and were CERTAIN it was time to press the NEXT buzzer. And even then, you might keep that person around as a good friend, the way Chris Rock says women keep a man in the wings: "In Case of Emergency, Break Glass." (Yes, she admitted, head hung low, I did that for years. Because as Chris Rock says, you never know.)
This post was inspired by a geek-hating tirade, and I just had to say something.
As an old lady married to a geek, let me say, geeks are the greatest. AND the smartest. (I admit, being married to a genius is important to my self-image.) But I understand that not everyone feels that way. Big Blogdonia hoopla over this intended-humorous post over at Gizmodo. (I thought Gizmodo was a geeky-site, so I was surprised that they would run an anti-geek piece.) Trendy young woman dates a geek, and suffers extended apoplexy:
The next day I Googled my date and a wealth of information flowed into my browser. A Wikipedia page! Competition videos! Fanboy forums! This guy isn’t just some professional who dabbled in card games at a tender age. He’s widely revered in the game of Magic that he’s been immortalised in his own playing card.This post exploded onto several blogs, as the geeks and geek-defenders came out in force. Gizmodo even replied semi-officially and took the guy's name out of the piece. (But with the multitude of information the author has provided, it would be really easy to locate him and his name.) Sady Doyle takes up the charge and defends the initial poster and her account of the shitty date. (NOTE: Sady is far funnier.) Eventually THAT thread has to be closed down too. The whole thing has caused a near-riot in Blogdonia.
Just like you’re obligated to mention you’re divorced or have a kid in your online profile, shouldn’t someone also be required to disclose any indisputably geeky world championship titles? But maybe it was a long time ago? We met for round two later that week.
At dinner I got straight down to it. Did he still play? “Yes.” Strike one. How often? “I’m preparing for a tournament this weekend.” Strike two. Who did he hang out with? “I’ve met all my best friends through Magic.” Strike three. I smiled and nodded and listened. Eventually I even felt a little bit bad that I didn’t know shit about the game. Here was a guy who had dedicated a good chunk of his life to mastering Magic, on a date with a girl who can barely play Solitaire. This is what happens, I thought, when you lie in your online profile. I was lured on a date thinking I’d met a normal finance guy, only to realise he was a champion dweeb in hedge funder’s clothing.
I later found out that he infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers. Mothers, warn your daughters! This could happen to you. You’ll think you’ve found a normal bearded guy with a job, only to end up sharing goat cheese with a world champion of nerds. Maybe I’m an OKCupid arsehole for calling it that way. Maybe I’m shallow for not being able to see past his world title. But if everyone stopped lying in their profiles, maybe there also wouldn’t be quite as many OKCupid horror stories to tell.
Meanwhile, I am rendered mute and remain utterly clueless about the whole thing. Really? A game? Really?
And what's wrong with goat cheese?
See there, I am already hopelessly uncool. I don't even understand the underlying premises of why this man is bad. As far as I can see, he didn't insult her or women in general, did not grab her tit or pinch her ass, was reasonably literate and dressed inoffensively. (She offhandedly says they discussed "normal stuff" and includes "college" as one of those "normal" things... obviously, a man who had not been to college at all would not have been regarded as "normal" or good enough, regardless of his interests or intelligence. In virtually all angry replies to the post, this casual elitism was unremarked upon.) Is it supposed to be bad or good to dress like a hedge fund guy? And why? Is capitalism considered an unbridled good by this person? If the guy had oodles of money (if his card-game-of-choice was the World Series of Poker rather than Magic: The Gathering), would she have been impressed?
Feminism is not just about women. Feminism is also about men. We cannot expect men to transcend their base desires and like us as people, if we are not willing to do the same to them. If we judge men solely by their wallets or their hobbies, we can hardly be angry when they judge us by our boobs or our weight.
Does it shock you when I tell you I married AN UNEMPLOYED PERSON? Of course, now, he has had his job longer than everybody, but when I met him, this was certainly not the case. Sady says there is no such thing as the Frog turning into the Prince and sees this as propaganda for girls to accept Frogs and to be happy with them:
We get a lot of sexist narratives about love, but none of them are more pernicious and subtle than this: The Frog Prince story. You could call it “Beauty and the Beast,” too. Or you could call it “Twilight,” or “Knocked Up,” or “Rory Williams Won’t Stop Whining;” it’s always the same story, anyway. Girl meets guy. On the surface, this guy is unappealing! Because he’s a frog! Or he’s not sexually attractive to her, or he treats her badly, or he’s immature, or he’s Rory Williams and he won’t stop whining; all of these are frog-like states, generally considered unkissable. But only a bitch would think that frogs don’t deserve our sweet, sweet kisses, so the woman doesn’t leave. Instead, she looks for the guy’s good qualities. She lowers her standards; she changes her expectations. She gives up on her silly little “ideas” about “attractiveness” or “compatible lifestyles” or “having fun with her partner.” Finally, she loses touch with her own desires to the point that she winds up making out with a fucking frog. At which point he becomes a prince. Or a loving husband, or a responsible person, or a whiny little Roman Centurion; the point is, in these stories, once you give up on wanting things from men, men magically become what you want.First of all, I was an alcoholic very active in AA when he met me, a single welfare mother with a three-year-old child, so I was not free of my own amphibian tendencies. And maybe those flaws are pretty glaring, but you know, everyone has them. Everyone. But because mine WERE so glaring, I could not lie about them or hide them, and had to face them up front. I was not a terrific bargain, and I did not present myself that way. Perhaps everyone should consider that? (Aside: Working-class and poor kids are frequently asked by their peers, Who do you think you are?, and I often wonder if the middle-and-upper-class kids are ever asked that question, because they sure don't act like it. But I digress.)
Here’s the secret, though, if you are the girl in this particular story: That guy never became a prince. At all. He’s still the same guy; he still possesses all those qualities you initially found unappealing, for all sorts of valid reasons. People don’t go from frog to mammal overnight, and they particularly don’t do so because you ask less of them; you are still making out with a frog, in the long run. The only reason he looks like a prince nowadays is that you lowered your standards to the point that you literally could not tell the difference between frog and mammal.
And second, I find it interesting Sady thinks the Frog tale is a propaganda story for women... when I think women wrote the story, out of personal experience.
In short, we SAW the prince emerge, so we know. For sure.
As one who has been married three times, let me share something crucial: you do not know who men are until the shit hits the fan. (Yes, I'm afraid the military is right about that one.) Our characters are forged in crisis. Will this man stand by you when you go to court with the ex? When you are sick? Been fired? Lost your mother? How will he respond? What kind of father will he be? You don't know any of this ahead of time, even if you think you do. One of the worst things that can ever happen, is finding out that you married someone who can't deal with emotions or reality, who subsumes himself in work or TV or porn. When you are young and carefree and everything is fun, you can easily handle things. But the first time something HAPPENS (i.e. somebody becomes an alcoholic, okay: ME) and this person can't deal? They will cut you loose and move on. It turns out they are not someone cut out for the long haul, and you had no clue. (How could you have had a clue? Nothing BAD had ever happened before.) You could go years and never know this about a man. And it happened to me.
What you want is a man who understands what true partnership means. These men are rare, so rare in fact, that you shouldn't turn them away just because they play the wrong game. Really, that is the least of it. (Some hints I can offer in retrospect: during the dating period, does he keep his distance when you are upset or yowling? Does he say, "call back when you have calmed down"? Move on. When you have children together, he will treat them like shit and refuse to deal. Because as you probably know, kids yowl all the time.)
The secret to being married a long time is: Your souls merge. Your MINDS merge. You may not like his games, but you will learn about them nonetheless. Even more than that: you will learn what traits he displays while playing said game, and why it makes him so happy. Similarly, he may not like your stuff either, but he will learn the lyrics of Who songs anyway. Eventually, you hear him tell someone else that the Who was great, and you privately preen. Just to yourself.
At this point, we finish each other sentences, or don't even bother with whole sentences.
Example: TV commercial comes on.
Him: "That reminds me of..."
Me: "Yeah, but that was a different actor."
Him: "No, same guy."
Me: "You sure?"
Friends: stare at us dumbfounded, and we don't even know why, until they tell us.
And I like it that way. :)
So here I am, defending the geeks. Because I am happily married to one, and have been for a long time. And girls, if you overlook them as a category, you are cheating yourselves. You really are.
But then, I occasionally eat goat cheese too. You might want to disregard my opinion.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Can I say it? I feel really sorry for people who are dating now.