He looked at me with distaste, and slammed his beer down on the bar top. He began to chastise me:
“Don’t go looking to marry another Ivy-Leaguer. That’s douche-y. You want to be one of those couples in the Sunday Times? Don’t do that. The fancy diplomas, the championship ring — those are your things. Find someone who has his things. Find yourself a real MAN. I mean, a MAAAAN. Someone who thinks you’re fabulous, not ya know, fab-u-looooous, ’cause that’ll open a whole ‘nother door of problems for you.”
Jimmy swished his hand in a stereotyping display, and if I wasn’t offended I might have laughed.
I had been judged unfairly, by someone who knew me better than most.
I was being scolded for holding out for someone who could keep up. To him, that read as I was looking for a man with all the checks in the column — multiple top-tier degrees, a power job, an All-American past and cross-fit future, a golden retriever, and a perfect hairline. This wasn’t the case. He clustered me in with “the 800 other 20-something women I know in New York who are over educated, under paid, and who just can’t find a guy who can keep up.”
“I have a right, you know, to ask for Mr. Right, whoever that may be.”
Luckily, just then, the drunk male Red Sox fan standing next to us started a fight with a drunk female Yankees fan, and a bouncer intervened. His chastising of me was forced to a halt.
When I first finished my MA and ended years of traveling round the world as an aspiring athlete, people were quick to warn me that I’d have a problem finding a guy who was good enough — who was smart enough, who was successful enough, who was worldly enough, etc. It seemed important to the people who met me that I be worried about finding a Mr. Right. I wasn’t and people couldn’t understand that. Sure, I wanted competent companionship… but after I found a job with health insurance.
The job came, my career was finally on the move and people stopped being interested in my dating life… or at least, it wasn’t the first thing they asked about. People stopped prescribing a rich husband and started asking how much was too much to pay for an artwork. I become more than a single girl with an advanced degree in something people didn’t understand. It was a relief.
And then I had lunch with the Professor…
“It must be hard for you,” he said, after confessing that he’d googled me and found my blog.
“What must be hard for me?”
“Dating. I imagine the pool you have to choose from is very limited.”
“What do you mean?”
“Someone with your education — there aren’t many men that can keep up, I bet.”
I suppose, I should have been flattered, but I wasn’t. He was exactly 20 years older than me, I was unclear about why we were having lunch together (the encounter walked a fine line between networking and well, not networking), and he didn’t know me.
“An ivy league degree doesn’t guarantee intelligence, or intellect, or sensitivity,” I replied. “What makes my dating pool small is not that fewer men have graduate degrees than women. It’s that I have passions and ambitions. If all I wanted to do was settle and have 5 kids, I’d be married by now. But I want more than that. I am more than the sum of my degrees and I expect my partner to be as well.”
He could sense the irritation in my voice. We proceeded to talk philosophically about happiness and relationships, about being a Marine during the sexual revolution and the pitfalls of being a dating blogger.