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June 26, 2014

Where are the Men in Their Prime? ~ Jennifer Ginsberg

old man

As I wander the streets of West Los Angeles making my daily pilgrimage from the farmer’s market to yoga to Whole Foods, I am continually baffled by the men who approach me versus the men who don’t.

At Whole Foods, the eligible bachelors in business suits who peruse the hot food bar in the early evening after work are too busy staring at their iPhones (probably refreshing the inbox of their online dating profiles) to notice me. However, the produce men and butchers and sexy tattooed kids who work the register love me.

Recently, one such man almost risked his job by asking me out.

As he placed my ginger-aid kombucha and kale-quinoa salad in my reusable bag, he leaned across the checkout counter and whispered, “I could totally get fired, but you’re so pretty. Can I take you out?”

I looked into the eyes of a child who appeared to be only slightly older than my nine-year-old son and blurted, “How old are you?”

“Nineteen,” he said with a sheepish grin. I grabbed my bag and ran so fast toward the exit that I almost slammed into an “old grandpa” (as my daughter calls anyone with grey hair) who was eating cashews directly out of the bulk bin, which ironically is exactly what my dearly departed grandfather used to do.

“Where you rushing off to, sexy lady?” he grinned, revealing a mouth full of beige dentures.

How did it come to this?

Granted, I haven’t dated in over a decade. But since filing for divorce, I’m struck by the fact that an age appropriate, “normalish” man never approaches me.

In fact, I can’t seem to attract anyone besides the supermarket checker or an old grandpa.

All my single friends complain of the same phenomenon.

Beautiful, successful, kind women who secretly wonder, “Maybe that homeless man on the corner of PCH isn’t so bad. I mean, if he took a shower, he could almost pass for a scruffy Ryan Gosling”. Okay…maybe that’s just me.

But the problem is more broad.

It’s as though these eligible bachelor types have had the testosterone sucked out of them. I believe that feminism, as well as Internet dating, has done a number on men.

Why bother with potentially ego-crushing rejection from an attractive woman when there’s a bevy of girls just a click away who view sex as a great getting-to-know-you activity?

The feminists having been telling us for decades that it’s liberating to have sex like a man, and the message has finally sunk in.

Yet both personally and professionally in my work as a psychotherapist, I’ve heard many tales of women who felt obligated to ride the cultural wave of promiscuity.

But rather than experiencing liberation, they are only led down a path of degradation and loneliness.

The stories that are most poignant and sad are those of women who have had sex with literally over one hundred men, but not experienced anything resembling intimacy or love.

Sounds really liberating, doesn’t it?

And while men think they want an easy woman, they really don’t, because that kind of meaningless sex leaves them empty, too.

And in the long run, it seems to vaporize their biological drive to pursue a woman.

Perhaps the reason that young men are’t shackled to this horrendous code is that their strong hormones override it.

In the young male, perhaps testosterone bubbles so ferociously that they simply can’t wait long enough to get behind the safety of their computer to make a move, and so have not yet been emasculated by technology.

And for those “old grandpas,” perhaps it’s because they were socialized in an era when men still went after the women they desired and, as long as they recognized the difference between a “yes” and a “no,” they weren’t stigmatized for it. (Or maybe in certain cases it’s early-stage dementia!)

However, I was pleasantly surprised at yoga the other day.

Just as class ended and I was rolling up my mat, this totally cute and age appropriate man (whom I was discreetly checking out in Warrior II) walked towards me.

Our eyes locked, and I counted to three to indicate receptiveness (just as all dating books instruct), then looked away. Suddenly he was standing over me in all his shirtless glory.

“Hi, I’m Steve,” he said, holding out his hand. “I’m Jennifer,” I said with a soft smile.

And just as my hand grasped his, I noticed a thick, gold band on his ring figure. I sighed and trudged across the street to Whole Foods.

As I walked by the scruffy homeless man perched on the front stoop, he called out, “Smile pretty lady. It ain’t that bad!”

“You ain’t that bad, either,” I thought as I put a dollar in his cup.

 

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Photo: Neil Moralee/Flickr

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Jennifer Ginsberg