The Sorrows of Old Boyhood: An Essay by a Woman
Hark! Heterosexual men! Listen to me, for I am a woman and, in many cases (I say “many cases” but I really mean a niche amount of cases where a man is not intimidated by my laissez-faire attitude towards body hair and my aggressive attitude towards feminism), I am your target demographic. Or, at least someone who shares parts similar to mine. I am hear to speak about a vital issue: you.
There is a start to every relationship that a woman has with a man (be it romantic or platonic) where she has to wonder, “Am I dealing with a boy? Or, a man?”
It is hard to tell. Boys, often, pay rent—just like men. Boys wear suits to fancy-dress occasions, just like men do. They are often the same height. They can have similar facial hair (or lack thereof), and they both love Breaking Bad. They’ve both read books. They can both pay taxes.
But men are fundamentally for women. And boys are for girls. And herein lies the major difference. Women get shit done. Men get shit done. Boys and girls think about the shit that they want to do, and never actually do it. “I’m thinking of going to grad school. I’m thinking of learning piano. I’m thinking of getting a bed frame. I’m thinking, I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” Boys and girls, always with the thinking!
Thinking is great. Thinking is lovely. Thinking of the kind of person that you want to be when you grow up, for the children of high-earning adults, is such a lovely daydream to have over and over and over while seated in the pastoral greenery of your overpriced educational institution of choice. Isn’t it just lovely to dream of it?
And then the world comes at you with its taxes and jobs and rent and having to learn how to get laundry done and work a 9-to-5 and pay your bills and pursue your dumb artistic pursuits from 10PM to 6AM like some sort of unsleeping animal from the hellish deep. And those people, those people who realize that the thinking is done, and the doing is the thing now—those people become men and women.
Now, there are many things that separate men from boys: emotional maturity (including an ability to listen), an ability to make plans without crying, an ability to own up to faults without resorting to passive-aggressive bullshittery, etc. The list goes on.
But, in light of the Buzzfeed-ridden culture, we live in here is a list of five known boy-beloved cultural institutions. Women, if someone you went on a date with talked a lot about these, you should probably move in the other direction. Boys, if you are the person I am describing, you should probably… change yourself at your core.
1. High Fidelity (movie and book): “High Fidelity” chronicles the story of a man who does very little to fundamentally change and is inexplicably rewarded with a female lawyer for a wife and a better life. This book has hoodwinked numerous young men into thinking that if they hold onto their love of indie bands long enough some woman will pluck them from the obscurity of their shitty life to live as they are, but in a better apartment for which they do not have to pay. If you see a boy 13 or older reading it, just slap it out of his hand. You will have done the world a favor.
2. The Matrix (even the animated, especially the animated, one): “The Matrix” has spawned a whole generation of people who think reading the Wikipedia entry on Nietzsche has made them see “the beyond.” They see beyond your bullshit, man! They get it! We’re all controlled by the Man! These people are terrible and never quite dealing with the fact that yeah, our capitalist overlords suck, but we all have to pay rent from our barista pay.
3. MMA: A man who is too into MMA is probably a little too into getting into bar fights. I cannot consider any person who watches men RIP THE EARS OFF other men a civilized person. Imagine that person at dinner. “What are your hobbies?” you ask, dreaming of slathering items in chalkboard paint together. And, he responds, “Watching people bleed to death.” WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? MMA will never look pretty on your Pinterest board and, therefore, will not look pretty in your life.
4. Judd Apatow worship: Listen, we’ve all laughed at Judd Apatow before - he’s made a lot of movies and TV shows. It is inevitable. But any man who lists Judd Apatow as his favorite auteur is bad news. First off, it means that he’s never seen a David Lynch film so there is no way you’re ever getting an orgasm out of this person, never mind choked in bed like you always dreamed of in the back of your mind. Secondly, in his fantasies of his own life, you’re Leslie Mann. Do you want to be Judd Apatow’s version of his wife? You’re not a harpy, you’re a beautiful shit-getting-done woman. Don’t do this to yourself.
5. Chuck Palahniuk (especially Fight Club): Chuck Palanhiuk writes in short sentences. Brief. Visceral. You read it and you think, yeah this is young Hemingway. This is the Hemingway we need, you say to your pal Tyler because everyone has a pal named Tyler because it is 2014 and we all lived through the the 1990s. But we won’t live much longer, Tyler says without ever using quotation marks because quotation marks are for pussies. “Are there any women in this story?” the woman on the date asks, but she is ignored because she used quotation marks like the pussy that she is. What the fuck is she doing here? Tyler asks you. You don’t even know why you are on this date, why you are living in this world. Your whole life is an existential crisis but a really white one that centers on your dick. The woman leaves and you don’t even notice because you are very busy waiting to punch someone after you jerk off. You’re patiently waiting for the day you can unleash it all. Tyler knows. Tyler punches you in the back, and says, let’s just watch The Matrix til the world burns. Yeah, you say. That sounds good.