Megan K. and I put chocolate chips in our pancakes Saturday morning. It was fattening, delicious, and the only thing in our lives that has made any sense lately.
You see, Megs and I -- as well as a plethora of our other fabulous female friends -- find ourselves in a precarious and perplexing position: We're cute. We're smart. We're articulate, well-traveled (she more so than I), energetic, fun and down to explore. And yet, at 29 and 28, respectively, we are still single -- standing on 30's lonely doorstep -- with ZERO reasonable prospects.
In the past, we would have resorted to self-flagellation -- "What is wrong with me?" we may have asked through tears and a bottle of pinot. "Why aren't there any guys who want to stick around?"
But over Saturday's chocolate chip pancakes, Megan K. and I flipped the script:
It's not us. It's them.
You read the second paragraph I wrote. There's nothing wrong with us! Sure, we've got myriad flaws just like any other person on this planet, but there's nothing so major there as would send anyone running for the hills to return with torches and pitchforks.
It is NOT us. It's you people -- you men and your wayward penises. Megs and I have spent enough time with you all to come to the depressingly stark conclusion that at our ages, there are simply no acceptable men to date.
It's a strange phenomenon that slowly builds as you enter your late 20s/early 30s as a woman. We are watching the window of opportunity inch toward closed because from our vantage point, there is literally something entirely undateable about every single man we meet.
Reasonably speaking, that window I referred to is men ages 21-38 -- 21 at the low end, because while it is perfectly legal for us to date 18-year-olds, A) that's kind of creepy and B) there's pretty much no way we'd date someone who couldn't legally drink with us. And the upper limit is set at 38 because it's 10 years older, beyond which is also creepy (but on their end this time).
But within that window, NONE of them are acceptable -- something I've illustrated in the following helpful chart:
You should be able to click on that to blow it up and see it in its full glory, but let me break it down for you in sections.
First, the Younger Man:
I get the allure. Particularly for the uber-young ones -- the ones I've dubbed "fetuses." You think, "Hey, hot body, lots of energy. I'll be their Mrs. Robinson."
Then I realize they were in high school at the same time as my little brother, and that makes me feel like the second coming of Mary Kay Letourneau. And heaven forbid I ever see their apartments -- you can't take a single step without colliding with a roommate, as these men are just getting out of college and struggling to pay the bills with their first jobs.
It's admirable, no doubt, and we've all been there. But at 28, I am simply too goddamn old to contort my body into the yoga-like position it requires for two people to share a twin mattress. Additionally, I no longer believe "futon" is a synonym for "sofa," nor are curtain liners stand-alone objects (you need a fucking shower curtain, too, you heathens).
Furthermore (and speaking of going all Letourneau on it), I've dated a man in his early 20s before. But I was younger then, too. As a woman in my late 20s, I don't have the patience nor the wherewithal to be a female-anatomy instructor for yet another man. Some other girl can train you youngin's on how to handle our precious parts... I don't have the time!
(That said, I've got a date with a 23-year-old scheduled for this Wednesday, and he seems bound and determined to convince me that there's more than meets the eye to younger men. I'm skeptical.)
When it comes to younger, you've also got the Danger Zone to contend with -- guys who are in their mid-20s, who've been out of school for a little while, who've gotten a chance to mature. Maybe they've finished an advanced degree. They're more amenable to the idea of having a girlfriend, and have learned a little more about how to treat a lady.
It seems that they've been broken in, like a favorite pair of sneakers you simply cannot do without. But beware: These are the guys that will date you for two years, then suddenly realize they're 26, have been monogamous for two years, and then they let the overwhelming desire to sow their wild oats take over. Then you find yourself single and starting over again, but now you're older and even more desirous of companionship and settling down. It's a totally sucky situation.
So, younger doesn't work. But what about similarly aged men?
You'd think this would be perfect. But it isn't. Oh, no no no, it isn't.
The Venn Diagram says it all. Men in our range are either normal, but not single; single, but not normal; or, worst of all, single and normal, but somehow COMPLETELY FLAWED. They either live with their mothers, or they're not over their ex-girlfriends, or they're workaholics, or they've got horns and a goddamn tail.
The bottom line is they're enticing, but totally fucked up.
And finally, the older ones. These men have been my personal bread-and-butter, actually -- if you graduated from high school in the early-to-mid-'90s, I probably have gone on a date with you at some point. Call it the "Acceptably Naughty" factor -- there is nothing in practicality wrong with dating a 35-year-old when you're 28. But for some reason, I think about you being a collegiate 20-year-old when I was an angsty 13-year-old listening to the Toadies on my Walkman in my bedroom and thinking about how my parents just didn't get me, and the whole thing just feels forbidden and awesome.
More than that, men in their mid-to-late-30s represent stability -- these guys have been out of school for over a decade. They have carved their path in the world. They know how to handle their own business and are assertive and independent, and those are seriously sexy qualities.
But then you get to know them.
These motherfuckers do not have their shit together any more than the goddamn 22-year-olds. They're still single because they have no idea what they want, and they're too ADHD to sit down long enough to figure it out.
These men are the real life versions of Peter Pan, flat-out REFUSING to grow up and act their age. And even worse, these are the guys that will string you along the most.
The point is, Megan K. and I are on the brink. The precipice of spinsterhood. A No-Man's Land (literally). We want to find The One, settle down and get married (and, for me at least, have babies). But all we're finding is guys who are simply wasting our time.
We get it. We see the value of companionship, of going through life with a teammate, with someone who knows you better than anybody else, someone whom you can always count on, someone with whom you can build a life and a family.
There's value in all of that, and we see it.
So why don't you?
*Editor's note: As I write this note, it's April 2014. I composed this post in April 2011 as a tongue-in-cheek way to bemoan a temporary lack of prospects. If you're still reading/linking to this as proof positive of some bullshit alpha-male rules, you need rethink your life's priorities (and you should probably click the banner to be redirected to the front page so you can get current). Point is, this is a silly blog post with silly pictures of Peter Pan. I didn't take it seriously, and neither should you.
That said, I did see one valid criticism: I had written one sentence where I used "me" instead of "I" and "her" instead of "she." I've fixed it now, and I heartily apologize for my obvious illiteracy. If I could take myself out back and beat myself, you can rest assured I would.