2012-03-01 / Sandy Days, Salty Nights

Boys will be boys; and so will men

The witty Mindy Kaling — of Kelly Kapoor fame in “The Office” — has a new book. In “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” she offers insights and experiences in her signature quirky, funny style. In a plug for the book, Ms. Kaling recently wrote an article for Glamour magazine where she reveals an important realization she’s had about dating.

“Until I was 30, I dated only boys,” Ms. Kaling writes in the article. “I’ll tell you why: Men scared the sh*t out of me.”

What does a real man look like, according to Ms. Kaling?

“Men own alarm clocks. Men sleep on a mattress that isn’t on the floor. Men buy shampoo instead of adding water to a nearly empty bottle of shampoo. Men make reservations. Men go in for a kiss without giving you some long preamble about how they’re thinking of kissing you. Men wear clothes that have never been worn by anyone else.”

I had to stop reading for a second and put the magazine in my lap. My feet were soaking in the tub at the nail salon, and I leaned my head back against the rubber pillow of the pedicure chair.

Yes, I thought, woozy with the sudden insight. That’s exactly it. That IS whatw men do. And why have I wasted so muchm time chasing boys?

Ms. Kaling says men aren’t afraid of commitment.

“I’m not talking about commitment to rt romantic relationships,” she writes. “I’m talking about commitment to THINGS — houses, jobs, neighborhoods. Paying a mortgage. “

This commitment to a settled life, she says, carries over to romance. Which makes perfect sense. A man who can commit to a 12-month lease can commit to a relationship; maybe it really is that simple. Some of the men I’ve liked didn’t even have their own places — they lived in a state of permanent crashing on friends’ couches. How could I think they’d ever come around to the grown-up life I wanted?

I left the salon with a glossy mani-pedi and a new perspective on love. There it was, my revolutionary idea on romance: If we stick to the men with real estate and furniture, framed prints on the walls and table service for four, then maybe we’ll have better luck. Perhaps those are the men who mean business.

But just as I was figuring this out, I noticed a perplexing trend.

The men who fit this type, the ones who own homes and have steady jobs, seem to be trying to divest themselves of responsibility.

My friend Jeremy talks all the time about quitting his big-money corporate lawyer job, and — not so coincidentally, I think — just broke up with his live-in girlfriend of three years.

Then there’s Greg, who left his steady teaching gig to go to grad school and whose house is now in foreclosure.

And Jordan, who has worked since he was 16 and owned his own home by the time he was 25, but is ready to throw it all in and live on a boat. Boyish behavior if I’ve ever seen it.

The problem, I’m realizing, isn’t in finding men to date. It’s that all men secretly want to be boys.

And that’s a dilemma even Mindy Kaling can’t fix. ¦

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