Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Man List

I've been feeling a bit quivery in the tummy ever since St. Patrick's Day, when I spent five hours holed up in the corner of a dark bar in Cambridge, gazing into my date's eyes and smiling foolishly at him in between smooches. A punk goth DJ was spinning across the room, and the crowd was a strange mix of green-clad Harvard kids and goths with spiky hair and black bodices. At one point I noticed a man in a very tight, very short green velvet dress and tall black studded boots standing just a few inches behind my date, but most of the time I was barely aware of my surroundings, including the eardrum-burstingly-loud punk music.

At such times, it is helpful to update my Man List to avoid getting carried away. The Man List is an idea that came from my sister's Wise Woman, and it consists of three columns: Positive Qualities, Question Marks, and Red Flags. Each time I meet someone I like I add a new row to the List. A few weeks ago, my sister, her boyfriend the Sensitive Bostonian, and I were discussing the Man List over dinner, and I suggested she pull hers out so we could look at what she wrote about Bostonian (probably not the best idea I ever had). A shocked look crossed his face. “Wait, this is LITERALLY a list?” he asked. We had discussed it before, but I guess he thought it was a mental list.

Even my twenty-two-year-old cousin has embraced the idea, and told me ruefully a few months ago that she had discovered a Red Flag in her relationship with her new boyfriend. This is quite advanced for her age; when I was twenty-two, I still subscribed to the romantic and impractical notion that love could overcome any issues. So far, her Red Flag (the fact that her boyfriend is a hunter and she's a vegetarian) does seem surmountable, though.

I haven't uncovered any Red Flags yet with my Brazilian date who I was with the other night, but we've only been out twice, and I still have lots of questions. (Notably absent, however, is one question I wrote next to quite a number of names – “I'm not sure if I'm attracted to him.”) It's helpful to keep these questions in mind so I don't get swept off my feet and can think rationally about his froggy qualities vs. princely qualities.

Here are a few notable entries from different men on my Man List, starting with Positive Qualities:
  • Good decision-making skills
  • Cute, like Paul McCartney
  • Doesn't like sports
  • Funny/good storyteller
  • Worldly
  • Likes his job
These last three items on the list are non-negotiables for me. Here are a few Question Marks that have come up:
  • Not sure if he wants kids (this is true of all the men I've gone out with)
  • Might be a slimeball because he's Brazilian (after a talk with my sister yesterday)
  • Might ski too much
  • Don't know if he's looking for a relationship
And finally, Red Flags:
  • Drove home drunk after our date (4 1/2 drinks = drunk, right?)
  • Drives an SUV

  • Doesn't know who Maurice Sendak is
  • Lied about his height
  • Too interested in poo/bodily functions
  • Not interested in kissing him
  • Likes baseball too much
So far no Red Flags for the Brazilian. And he doesn't SEEM like a slimeball; I just need a couple more dates before I can be sure and erase that from the list. It's probably a good idea to spend some more time kissing him, too, just to make absolutely sure I'm attracted to him.


  1. Well, driving an SUV is definitely a red flag. Not knowing Maurice Sendak? Worrisome, but could be remedied. Too much baseball, bodily functions, and lying about height I'd put in the questions column -- they aren't terrible things, just things that make you wonder.

  2. I think the "Not sure he's looking for a relationship" is in the red flag category... And yeah, lying about height, income, education level or anything else does not exactly set you up nicely for a long and trusting relationship!

  3. Well, it was literally "I'm not sure," as in, we went out on one date and I had absolutely no idea. Also I'm not totally sure that he lied about his height, it was just my sense that he was shorter than 5'7".