Men in their late 20s and early 30s suck. Their female peers are trying to grow up and become responsible for their lives, but they’re still stuck in a fantasy land and hooking up with younger girls. How am I supposed to date them?—Kristin
A bitchy canon has developed, documenting the ways in which thirtyish men are failing women—not with the darker tropes of man-dom, all of that aggression and avariciousness, but in their habits as messy, dumb, in perpetuam little boys. And, at least within the confines of the mostly white, mostly straight, mostly middle-class milieu, this boy panic is currently fever-pitching a hissy fit. It’s all over fiction (Girls, the HBO show helmed by a 26-year-old genius, Lena Dunham) and non-fiction (the lengthy Atlantic article by the 40-ish Kate Bolick) and all the way over every conversation I’ve had with other girls about guys for, like, the last five years.
While Dunham’s sexual appeasement to her non-boyfriend in Girls (“I almost came”) was too, too perfect, what’s missing from all of this is that you, I, Dunham, and Bolick aren’t guys. There is, yes, a generational crisis of maturity, of economic possibilities, of smaller narcissisms, and of how to be a man in the company of whip-smart women and without ever having gone to war. It’s just that girls are usually the ones who want to talk about it all the time.
It’s insane that “Come over and eat cereal and watch cartoons” could seriously mean “I planned our first date.” (And you’re welcome for that embarrassing detail of my life.) But so? It’s just as unappealing when women are perennially mad at “child-men” while still having uneven sex with them (“I almost came!”). So don’t date them. Date older guys who will pay for everything and know how to make you come, or date younger guys who are sweet and fun. Date a non-manic scenester who has a job and has never heard of that HBO show you love. Just don’t get into it with someone who is fundamentally unable to give you what you need. That’s dumb. Guys are amazing and the best and their shoulders feel so good, but sorting them out isn’t yours, or ours, to do.
I was on the subway with my buddy and a lady leaned right into my face to tell us to keep it down. We were just talking a bit loudly, and I’ve seen people straight yelling on there! Is she allowed to do that or am I right?—George
Good manners aren’t about getting away with what you can, up to the specific point of being a jag. Good manners are about making other people comfortable and doing so as invisibly as possible.
Based on my 12-year-long organizational memory of Toronto, it seems that the standard big-city eff-you-ishness and the de rigueur Canadian passivity are neon-toxic when they collide, which so often is on the TTC. Brad Ross, executive director of corporate communications at the TTC, is familiar with the disgusting spectrum of human behaviour on its vehicles, but says, “The TTC is not in the business of trying to make people polite.” Fine. There are some bylaws that relate to bad manners, but Ross says, “We don’t want to write tickets. We just explain to people: Please take your feet off the seats; don’t block or hold the doors; remove your backpacks on a crowded vehicle.” Another TTC bylaw opposes music played without (or bleeding through) headphones, which is shitty for that guy on the streetcar who’s really excited to share a Skrillex track with you.
Still, Ross says, “People won’t say anything to the person, but they will gripe about it online.” (Passive! See?) Considering that the TTC will soon have track-level cell service, it’s up to Torontonians to re-up the social contract by STFU-ing where appropriate and kindly reminding each other to STFU, too. So: You were both wrong. Try harder.