The summer I graduated from high school, my South African godfather came to visit. At the same time, a boy I knew from out of town was staying in our guest room. It was a house full of foreigners.
“He’s a nice young fellow,” Hilton said of my 17-year old guest, “but he’s far too young for you. You need to be seeing someone who is at least 21, maybe even 22.”
I assured him that the young fellow sleeping in the room next to mine was in no way a romantic interest. I was flattered that my worldly godfather should think I deserved a boyfriend who wasn’t a boy, but a grown-up man. It felt good to be a teenager who seemed mature beyond her years.
My godfather was typical of those in my life — everyone I met had ardent beliefs about what type man was my match. They may not have all agreed on age difference, profession, and nationality, but all were quick to offer an opinion.
My roommate in college decided the only person I could have children with was Charley. “You’re sporty and strict. He’s awkward and friendly. You’d be the disciplinarian. He’d be the one that takes them for ice cream. Together, you’d read them The Odyssey at bedtime.”
I didn’t necessarily mind her pick, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about her assessment of my potential parenting persona. I do like ice cream, after all.
“You can’t marry a guy who makes you cook for him,” Dan said as he watched me drop homemade butternut squash ravioli into a pot of boiling water. “He has to be someone who will cook with you.”
I’d gotten so accustomed to people telling me who I should be looking for that I never designed my own version of Mr. Right. Then one day, I was blindsided by a question no one had ever asked…
“So, what’s the deal — what type of guy are you looking for?”
I was at a loss. Smart, funny, athletic, and good-looking is non-specific– it’s the standard-issue type for the indecisive. When I thought about it, every guy I ever knew or dated was, in some form or another, smart, funny, athletic, and good-looking.
I racked my brain. Could I name an actor? Would Gerard Butler suffice, or is Gerard Butler a look (and an apartment)? Someone interesting enough that our wedding will win the “Vows” column in the Sunday Times? Likewise, non-specific.
Finally, it hit me:
“I want a guy who makes me smile the way my puppy does. He should be the kind of guy who would propose while we’re hiking up a mountain but want to hold the reception in the atrium at MoMA.”
“I don’t know anyone like that,” the person replied. “But I can set you up with a guy who has season tickets at Yankee stadium.”
I shrugged and wondered why he bothered asking. It looked like for now, a man with Yankees season tickets was just my type.