(Yes, I am well aware that the OG version of this quote belongs to José Micard Teixeira, but I prefer it misattributed to Saint Meryl, ok?!)
There are a few pivotal moments in a young woman’s life. There is the moment you realize that your waist-to-hip ratio is never going to measure up to Candice Swanepoel’s, so you might as well make peace with it. There is the moment you start feeling uncomfortable in denim hot pants paired with heels and worn as outerwear. There is also the moment when your taste shifts from tortured hipsters / arrogant rich boys / [insert your personal dbag kryptonite here] to normal human beings.
Like most real-world miracles, it doesn’t happen overnight. First, you get burned by a few douchebags, weakening your overall tolerance for all things shady. Then, you find yourself dozing off while listening to eat another “life-is-out-to-get” me rant or life-altering Burning Man recount. Next, you go apeshit when a guy reappears after a week of radio silence, or his wallet gets hijacked by invisible evil birds for the third time in a row. (ENTER EUREKA MOMENT!) You catch yourself suddenly engaging in a long intellectual discussion with the super-nice nerd at work, all while estimating how much effort it would take to tweak his cool factor. When it proves to be too much of an undertaking, you revert to your familiar zone of dbag misery, only to discover yourself less comfortable there than before.
You begin realizing that there is something pleasant in good manners and predictability. That you want to – no, deserve – to be taken out to dinner and treated like a lady. You start choosing more wisely and having fewer terrible dates. Before you know it, the mere sight of a dirty beanie makes you want to regurgitate your $15 avocado toast that you just ate at a yuppie restaurant with you boyfriend who showers on the regular and understands the logistics of a mortgage. It dawns on you that your rebellious youth is not only in the past, but also replaced by everything you previously abhorred: stability, sanity and a clean shave.
Sometimes, it can be a positive experience that resets the course of one’s love life in the right direction. A (slightly younger) friend of mine, who used to spend days on end skateboarding across the Williamsburg bridge with hot male models, had her “Aha! moment” while standing in a guy’s bathroom. “I met this guy, not my usual type. Clean-cut, has a real job that’s not in the creative industry. Back at his place, I asked if I could use the bathroom. I walked in, and it was just so clean and nice. I don’t think I had ever experienced that before. I realized how low my standards had dropped.” Just like that, she was converted.
“You know, I’m such a romantic,” she says, “I used to go for all these difficult hipsters with their disgusting apartments, because I thought real love had to come with suffering and pain and drama. But then I realized that we have nothing in common. We weren’t raised the same way.” Indeed, it’s not that you become less romantic – it’s just that your perception of romance changes. Rather than seeking highs and lows and every single feeling under the emotional rainbow, you start looking for a conversationist, a partner, somebody you can actually count on. You start looking for a real man.
In case you belong to the narrow sliver of women who never liked difficult guys, or delinquent hipsters, or just plain old dbags, you are lucky. You understood life’s realities early on and probably slept with one male model before abandoning child’s play and going for a young budding lawyer who is now a standout father and husband. You are lucky to never have experienced the nausea of waking up on a sheet-less mattress, or sponsoring your date’s pot habit, or dealing with pathological commitment-phobia.
But, I wonder, do those women ever have any regrets? Does a failure to indulge in one’s youthful desires, be it for douchebags or denim-short-and-Louboutin-combos, lead to any bitterness in the future? Is this something that you will look back on later on when you are a senile old lady in Florida and your granddaughter brings over her rock star beau, and you will think “God, I should have had myself a piece of that?!”
Or is this me simply me trailing lyrical odes to the giant potluck of time waste that could have been spent doing something far more productive?