A description borrowed from the novel Love Monkey by Kyle Smith and adapted to me:
I’m from That generation. You know the one I’m talking about. The one after the one that discovered the Beatles and nonbinding sex, the one before the one where seventeen-year-olds asked to be excused from Phys. Ed. so they could launch their IPOs. Yeah, that’d be us: the Lamest Generation. Cultural anthropologists of the future will remember us primarily for nonblack tuxedos, Valerie Bertinelli, and Men at Work. Our grandfathers won World War II. We can’t even tie a bow tie.
I’m not in great shape. I do, occasionally, complete one gasping lap around the reservoir. When I run, it’s prose in motion. My abs are a one-pack. My arms are steamed licorice. My teeth are carved of wax. I’ve been compared to a redheaded Winnie the Pooh, an Oompa Loompa without the self-tanning lotion, a slightly elongated Teletubby. For one formative grade — fifth — I was known exclusively as “Doughboy.” The first time some playground wit poked my tummy hoping to elicit a girlish giggle, it was funny. The 100th time it was less so.
I’m defiantly average, studiously okay, the Gap of bachelors. You know how when you go into Duane Reade and there’s a generic product next to the one with a logo and a memorable back story of amusing and informative TV commercials? IBUPROFEN. MOUTHWASH. ANTIHISTAMINE. That’s me: the man without a brand. The one you would never pick after you won the lottery. I contain all the same ingredients, and I’m a bargain. But I have no shelf appeal. If someone saw me in your medicine chest, you’d die.
I’m thirty-three, as healthy as any other Spam-raised American male. I look pretty young. Hair is disappearing from my scalp, but fortunately it hasn’t deserted me: It’s just relocating to my nostrils and ears. My face — my patriotic mug of white skin and blue eyes — is doing okay. I have no laugh lines (what’s funny?). I’m not short, not really. I stand the Minimum Acceptable Height for an Adult Male. (Some celebrities I know to be shorter than myself: Redford. Stallone. Pitt.) But the only way I could ever be labeled tall would be if I became a Starbucks beverage.
I’ve been thinking about this guy who wrote this book. It’s about this regular, warm, flawed fella and his girlfriend. It goes into his longings and his needs and his fears and how he keeps screwing up in lovable ways. The whole story is told in Top Five lists. Every girl I know has read his book, and they all want (or think they want) to meet a guy like the guy in the book. He wrote the world’s longest personal ad and got paid for it. They even made a movie out of it: the movie consisted of good-looking people reading the Top Five lists from the book.
So I reflect for a moment about improving my relationships. About the secret sorrows of men and the stated needs of women. About longing and forgiveness and how wise people learn to love each other’s imperfections.
And I conclude: I better get cracking on some Top Five lists.