I feel bad for men. No, I really do. Most single women my age lament the scarcity of available men of substance, especially in Los Angeles, where men in their 40’s or 50’s, if they have some financial means and are still in good shape (and not necessarily both) can pick from a much younger and much willing crop. New York girlfriends report on a similar situation on the other coast too. So, what is a smart, still attractive, financially independent single woman in her 40’s to do? My suggestion would be to get a dog, always happy to see you, a relentlessly wonderful listener and eager to cuddle in bed any time of day or night. Just kidding – I really have no suggestions although dating websites don’t seem to me to be the answer but what do I know?
No, the men I feel bad for are the married ones or the ones in long-standing relationships with smart, still attractive, financially independent women in their 40‘s who don’t seem, on the surface, to need anything. But, in talking to the “other” girlfriends, I feel a discontent, a frequent asking, after 10, 15 or 20 years with the same man, if this is it. I attribute it to the impending doom of the big M hanging over us all, making us reach towards our colourful past with a tinge of nostalgia.
I believe it’s the Grimm’s Brothers’ fault, and all those other men who, long ago, wrote those wonderful fairy tales in which damsels in distress were saved by princes on white horses, frogs mutated into attractive males, castles were the abode of choice and you could even go to sleep for a thousand years and be awaken by the kiss of a dashing royal. If we were fed these stories in our infancy, the myth was perpetuated with the young adult literature in the same vein (except for Nancy Drew who had no real need for Ned and, to my knowledge, never wedded him). To add to all this nonsense, we allowed ourselves to be seduced by the real life not so fairy marriage of a young, sparkling English rose to the older (and not so dashing) prince. But still a prince.
All of us grew up to understand the difference between fact and fiction but a speckle of that expectation lingers – every time the poor husband falls asleep one time too many while watching tv or is reluctant to accompany us to see another Jane Austen screen adaptation or doesn’t appreciate the elaborate meal it took us hours to prepare or flatly doesn’t understand our need to go hikings up the Andes and suggests Florida instead. Anyone remembers the Chris Rock sketch in which he muses “what is she thinking when you find her staring at you in silence? That she is settling”. It might not be quite that stark but I think we all, single and committed, like to dream of our version of the Marlboro man of old (he died of lung cancer by the way, no really) coming to drop at our feet an exciting and improbable life.
Being who we are and standing up for who we are is exciting enough, without having to be Snow White or Princess D. Sometimes it’s made even more exciting when someone next to you sees you off to the Andes and welcomes you back with open arms. I believe all the girls who came after us and grew up watching Power Rangers will instinctively know that.