“Are you sure there’s crab in this?” Anna asked a waiter passing by as she, her friend Neal and I sat before a shared plate of crab cakes at a local eatery one Sunday.
“It’s impossible to find any,” she said.
“Yeah, kinda like trying to find a smart, attractive, grounded man in Marin,” I observed with a hint of snark.
Anna chortled, nearly choking on her appletini.
“Are you gals telling me that you can’t find a guy, any guy, in Marin?” an incredulous Neal said. “Come on! I’m not having a hard time finding women at all.”
Anna and I gave him a look that could have turned the neighboring table’s burger platter from medium-rare to well done.
It’s easy for Neal, a 48-year-old Mill Valley divorced dad, to say. When he and his wife split, he found a woman, eight years his junior, right away. When that longtime relationship ended, he found another, then another and then another until Janet came along and moved in.
Same with Larry, my fiftysomething neighbor. Within weeks after his romance with Susanna, his former fiancee, ended, he was happily romancing Diana.
Even Rob, my former hubby, hooked up with Tina almost immediately after our marriage ended.
So why are so many of my very attractive, smart, sexy and available fortysomething girlfriends still without beaus?
With 17,000 separated, widowed or divorced men and 29,000 separated, widowed or divorced women in Marin — plus who knows how many never-marrieds — it’s no wonder that there are so many happily dating men and so many women feeling like they’ve arrived too late at the annual Last Call sale at Neiman’s.
This is what Tim Harford refers to as “The Marriage Supermarket” in his book, “The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World.” Scarcity is power, and too many women looking for marriageable men end up coming down with a bad case of the Carrie Bradshaw blues.
But there’s more going on than just bad math.
The most obvious is, of course, looks. Not all single men are created equal, and that eliminates a certain number of them — but people sure like to get their feathers all ruffled about that. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’re not attracted to someone who’s short, bald, overweight, etc., if that’s important to you. It doesn’t make you mean, prejudiced or fussy. It makes you honest.
I’m not sure I could embrace — literally and figuratively — a man who has hair like Ron Jeremy; you know, a body uni-brow. I don’t like really hairy men, even though researchers discovered a few years back that body hair is a sign of intelligence in men. There are other parts of Mr. Jeremy, however, that I’d be totally happy with.
Yet even with our fantasy of what our dream guy looks like, most of us break our own rules if we meet someone fantastic who happens to have a few extra pounds or a few less strands of hair.
But I think a lot of men have unusually skewed expectations of the kind of women that they should be with. More out of shape, balding forty- and fiftysomething men are lusting after leggy, shapely blue-eyed twenty- and thirtysomething blondes who are probably not going to be lusting after them. Except maybe as a Sugar Daddy.
My friend Evan told me that his father is struggling to find someone to fall in love with — at age 90.
“But Dad, isn’t the retirement home full of eligible women?” Evan asked him.
“Pfft!!” he said. “They’re all old ladies!”
Eighty, evidently, is not the new 70.
And the men in Marin are particularly prone to babe worship because many have a huge sense of entitlement, especially if they’re wealthy and powerful. I mean, if you’re a guy driving a Ferrari Fiorano, what are the chances that your passenger is going to be a 50-year-old who shops at Chico’s and is fake-boob- and Botox-free — even if you’re short, bald and overweight?
After all the things women have battled for and against throughout the ages, from witch burnings to bra burnings, it still is pretty much all about the hotties. Younger hotties. Younger child-free hotties.
Jennifer and Charlie had a lot in common. Get them behind a stove, in a kayak, on a mountain trail, seated at the theater or in front of the TV with a good DVD and they were happy. So why did it end? At age 43, Jennifer, with a teenager at home, was done having babies. Charlie, at age 43, was hoping to begin. He’d never been married.
And that’s a big problem with trying to meet men at midlife — many men are still looking to start families and we, for the most part, aren’t.
It’s gotten so bad that I’ve actually started to feel a slight surge of excitement when I hear of another midlife divorce.
“You’re not going to try to date Chris, are you?” Mia asked me in wide-eyed shock when I told her that Chris and his wife, Jane — a couple we know very casually — had split.
“Oh goodness, no! I never date a man from within our ’hood, although I think Chris is a really nice, reasonably attractive guy,” I said.
“So then, what exactly are you saying?”
“Well, because he’s such a nice guy, he will attract a lot of attractive younger women, thus freeing up all the other men those women would be going after for us,” I said, with just a hint of self-assurance.
“Kat, what the heck have you been smoking?”
But even science is acknowledging that there just aren’t that many men around.
When social psychologist Roy Baumeister posed the question, “Is there anything good about men?” to the American Psychological Association last year, he wasn’t trying to have masculinist Warren Farrell put a hit out on him. Nor was he siding with Maureen Dowd as she wonders if men are necessary. In fact, he cited research by biologist Jason Wilder — no relation! — that has to do with DNA and chromosomes and things that I don’t quite understand. But what he said that disturbed the audience anyway was this: we have twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors, a fact he says is the “single most underappreciated fact about gender.”
Recent studies have shown that during the past 30 years, the number of male births has decreased each year in the United States and elsewhere, meaning there are some 135,000 fewer white males around.
If this sort of shenanigans continues, we’ll be facing an all-female planet situation not unlike “Planet of the Prehistoric Women” before we know it.
So if we single gals think we have it bad now, we should be really, really thankful we won’t be around looking for a mate in our daughter’s daughter's lifetime!