While conditioning my hair in the shower this morning, I had an epiphany. Full-blown; fully-realized. And though I usually write at a coffee lounge on Mercer Street, this post comes straight from my desk chair in Brooklyn. In fact, I’m still in my bath towel, having careened out of the bathroom, hair dripping. I have forsaken a proper scrub and shave for the sake of a blogpost.
First, some background.
Last Sunday evening, Jyll and I met her new lust interest at a bar in Brooklyn. Settling into a cozy corner with a glass of Stella, I was looking forward to meeting Harry. Or rather, re-meeting Harry; Jyll and I first became acquainted with Harry at an East Village bar on Halloween. Though he was funny and charming and undeniably enamored of Jyll, he was - by his own admission - under the influence. Well. Under a few different influences.
So, at this bar in Park Slope, I was charged with the task of re-assessing Harry. I could vaguely recall his physical appearance, but I vividly remembered his demeanor: bumbling, babbling, disarmingly candid and verbose. At the time - at midnight on Halloween at a bar on 11th Street - I attributed these traits to the cocaine and alcohol. I was mistaken.
Sober Harry was identical to Sloppy Harry: Talky. Forthcoming. Self-deprecating. Comical. Uncensored. Sweet.
He exhibited traits so antithetical to what Jyll and I have come to expect from New York men (and men in general) that we became wary, analyzing his innate kindness to a pulp.
Liz: He must have a wife and two kids. Why else would he live in Park Slope?
Jyll: No, I think must have been molested as a child. Why else would he be so sweet and sincere?
Liz: I’ve got it! He’s an undercover CIA agent. He’s playing a role; he’s courting you for an eventual position as a spy for the U.S. government.
Jyll: Alien. Harry is definitely an alien.
It’s pathetic. Our expectations of New York men are so embarrassingly low that we found ourselves reducing Harry to a caricature: a deadbeat dad/alien, a married undercover agent who had been molested at an early age. Why ELSE would he be so wonderfully vulnerable?
Scrubbing my scalp in the shower this morning, it hit me like a load of bricks. Harry is the “manic-pixie-dream-girl”. HE’S Natalie Portman in Garden State; he’s Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown; he’s Rachel Bilson in The Last Kiss.
And Jyll and I, like the male protagonists in these films, underestimated the manic-pixie-dream-boy simply because he is so care-free and kind. It’s hard to understand, his open-ness. It’s scornful, his sincerity. Harry’s personality traits should be refreshing; instead, we found ourselves rolling our eyes at them.
This is just a feeble observation, but it seems that girls and boys have two opposite battle plans when it comes to attracting the opposite sex. Guys act cocky, cool and reserved; they try to impress you with their intelligence and drinking ability. Girls act open, caring, and interested; they try to attract you with their warmth and attentiveness.
And it is only acting; we overstate these attributes to gain the attention of the opposite sex. And worse, we’re really only guessing at which attributes would attract the opposite sex. I know that I tend to act pretty flighty around guys that I like; I’m hopelessly attentive, forgiving and sweet. If you know me at all, you’d also know how unlike me these attributes are.
Harry, though, isn’t acting. He isn’t affecting the demeanor of the brawny, super-intellectual and cooler-than-humanly-possible male. He’s just…Harry.