Friday, Melissa and I finally saw "Crazy Stupid Love".
And I say "finally" because at this pathetic stage of my mandom, when a romantic comedy actually features someone I like (Steve Carell) it becomes as high on the "Must See" List as a new Star Wars movie, the best new restaurant in town or a doctor after a week in Mazatlan.
I have no intention of writing a review of the movie, or even supplying spoilers for those of you whipped men who will eventually be dragged to it, but the early premise of the movie is a topic worth exploring.
In short, in attempting to assuage his woes/move-on from a surprising divorce, Steve Carell mopes at the bar of a local hot-spot, observing Ryan Gosling continually pursuing and leaving with a new, beautiful woman every night. Eventually, tired of being depressed by the sight of Carell, Gosling does a "Miyagi" on Carell, changing his wardrobe and demeanor, turning him into a ladies man himself.
It is certainly no secret that every unmarried man, in a quiet moment in the mirror, fantasizes that he has the looks, style and bravado to approach and receive the affection of whatever beautiful woman he comes in contact with. (Any guy that says he hasn't thought about this is either lying, or has actually been successful in this endeavor and doesn't have the time to day-dream...)
What is less-known is that, much in the manner that Gosling does in "Crazy Stupid Love", that every man also dreams of being the guy that is so smooth, handsome and charming that he can convince any woman he comes across to go home with...his single friend.
Sounds ridiculous, I realize.
But there are a few factors working here:
1. Men--no matter how married and how deeply-committed/loyal they may be, will never grow tired of being liked and appreciated by beautiful women. We may have no intention of cheating, but we absolutely noticed her and really want her to like us. (Women are exactly the same in this regard. They love good-looking men the same way we love good-looking women.)
2. Much in the same way that grown men attempt to play tackle football on Thanksgiving with their high-school friends, married and engaged men like to dust off the ol' cleats every once and a while to convince ourselves that we've still got it when it comes to attracting a woman. (And much in the same way, we wake up the next morning feeling like they just got run over by a dumptruck.)
3. I don't know if a better analogy is "superhero" or "Robin Hood", but the badge of honor that they feel they've earned by giving one of their buddies what they wanted and were unable to gain on their own is a tremendously prideful opportunity for a man. Whether it is helping them move a heavy object or picking up a woman, the other guy doesn't forget, and you have a badge of manhood on your Cub Scout Uniform of life.
All of these combined lead to the simple premise:
Most committed men believe that they can pick up women for their friends. (Of course most men also believe that they were one bad break away from playing shortstop for the Dodgers.)
Call it "wingman" or "sidekick" or "Scottie Pippen" or whatever you like. Married and engaged men think that because we convinced one short-sighted, ill-fated woman to spend the rest of her life with us that we can convince a whole generation of unsuspecting women to spend at least the latter part of the evening with the buddy we walked into the bar with.
Pay no attention to the fact that we never once succeeded in that endeavor for ourselves.
Pay no attention to the fact that when we were single we didn't even approach women in public settings. Instead, we'd just decide between one of our two go-to options: A) walk around a bar, spilling drinks on every woman in sight, hoping that the goodwill achieved from your apologies outweighs the number of slaps and dry-cleaning bills you receive. Or B) spend 4 hours of every weekday analyzing papayas in the produce section, hoping that some woman will invite you back to her place to...well...do the same thing there...
And finally, pay no attention to the fact that our single friends have been doing the equivalent of living in Barcelona for the past 12 years while we're relying on high school Spanish to communicate with this foreign race of long hair and flowery perfume.
So a message from me to those affected by this ridiculous dillusion that afflicts so many of us:
To our Wives/Fiancees,
We need this. Allow us to go along. Allow us to brag about the minimal favor we did for our friends who never asked us to perform it. We're not going to cheat...we're not even going to think about cheating. We just need the strange, warped ego-stroke here and there.
(But let's be honest--you know that we don't have the courage or wherewithall to ever be unfaithful. Because we love you, cherish you and saw what Elin did to Tiger with that pitching wedge...)
Hugs and Kisses,
To our Friends,
We need this. Allow us to come along. Allow us to brag about our skills. It's really all we have. (But I'd continue to go after women on your own...we're really not going to help you.)
Fist-pounds and Chest-bumps,