1. The sneaker obsession
Look, don’t get me wrong. I have been known to drool over a pair of absurdly pretty heels in my day, but I have never quite hit the point of mania that overtakes some sneakerheads in their quest to own the latest and greatest in footwear. I mean, there are videos on YouTube about the kind of fights that ensue over new releases. (Though, trust me, if I had the funds to throw down for a pair of Alaias, I probably would be throwing punches in line, too.) Still more puzzling though is the constant quest to keep your shoes as pristine as if you’d never taken them out of the box. If you buy white shoes, and you walk around any given city for a little while, chances are they’re going to get a little dusty. I get that you want to look presentable, but dude, nobody’s looking THAT hard. I even knew a guy who declared a pair of canvas shoes unwearable when his dog accidentally slobbered on them. Beyond the fact that he refused to the shoes in the wash because then the rubber would yellow and only further ruin the shoe, not only would nobody have even noticed once the doggie drool dried, nobody would have cared.
2. Making light of the engagement moment
If I had a dollar for every single time I had to field a friend’s nervous phone calls about The Date and how their boyfriend was being weird and secretive and going out of his way to be a gentleman and how this was The Night, only to receive a text saying that it was a false alarm, I’d be able to buy myself a ring. I mean, I get that you want to be romantic, and even asking her out to dinner to a really nice restaurant may be out of the norm simply for financial reasons alone. However far this statement may put us back in terms of progressive feminism, getting engaged is still a really big deal, and as such, girls tend to freak out a little bit. Also, turning an innocuous Christmas present into a joke in which you tell her entire family that you printed out a photo of her actual present, folded it up, and put it in a ring box to throw her for a loop is the perfect recipe for giving a girl a minor heart attack. For all your humorous intentions, will set her on edge for when It will happen until It actually does. (‘It,’ is the actual proposal, and you’d better follow through with a viral video-worthy method of asking if you’ve ever teased her about when and where and how you’ll ask her to be yours forever.)
3. The super-strict adherence of rules
Guys always seem to love rules. They thrive on time-honored traditions and secret handshakes and unspoken codes. But the thing is, they can’t actually make the rules themselves, lest they seem like dictators rather than compadres. If you try to introduce something as simple as a group gift swap to a bunch of guys who have never swapped gifts before, they will ask what all of the rules are to the point where you’re scrambling to make some up just to satisfy their relentless inquiry. And God forbid anyone deviate from the rules, for he that hath thought outside the box will be excommunicated and forced to prove his worth, Steve-Jobs-getting-fired-from-Apple style. (I admit that the fact that my female friends and I typically view rules as mere suggestions is probably not speaking very well of us either as women or as human beings, but I really like to think of it as being more creative than sneaky and dishonorable. It’s all about how you spin it.)
4. The general level of cleanliness
I read a study once that said single men change their sheets on an average of once a month. I still have nightmares about it. But all in all, a guy’s threshold for what constitutes as clean and what girls might consider to be clean are about as different as… well, men and women. Either you dudes are way, way braver in every single way, or you honestly don’t notice when the shower curtain starts collecting mold. HOW?!
5. The neverending obsession with boobs
Boobs are universally awesome, but every time I’ve ever asked a guy why he loves boobs so much, there’s usually a moment or two of a very blank stare before he shrugs and just says that he just does. I’ve had guys try to explain that it’s because they don’t have them that they like them so much, and that they’re hidden from the world and they consider it a point of luck and prowess when they’re allowed to see them. And this is a very Westernized, post-puritanical spin on the entire concept, because other cultures in the world think that guys who are obsessed with boobs are nothing more than big babies, seeing that the breast’s main function is to feed the young. And though I fully admit to appreciating my own set, I know it’s stemming from a somewhat manipulative place, because there is a point in puberty when most girls realize that we have an asset that guys like. And so we exploit it, and shamelessly so. We go to the full reaches of our powers, because the cosmos just so decided that we would have boobs and that guys would like said boobs. Anyone telling you she actually likes wearing the kind of push-up bra that shoves her set clear up to her eyeballs is a very twisted individual. Push-up bras, especially the kind that promise to add two whole cup sizes, are the devil’s work. There is always an ulterior motive to a push-up bra.
6. Having three television sets and two laptops on simultaneously
I know it’s tough to choose between games, and you want to root for your team while keeping up with how the enemy is advancing in their own battle, but SportsCenter does recaps for a reason, dude. You’ll live if you miss seeing Brady’s pass in real time, I promise. Moreover, if you have two of the games muted, chances are you’re going to miss something good anyway, which amounts to the effort being all but wasted. Give one team, your team, the full spectrum of your attention. They deserve it, don’t they? Root them on, coach them back to victory, and forget about how your rivals are doing. As long as your guys are doing okay, that’s all that matters.
7. The incessant competition
It’s just plain manic. I have known guys to pummel each other for the sake of claiming shotgun, and while your legroom might be at stake if you’re relegated to the backseat, it’s really not that serious. Most things aren’t. It’s understandable that your constant need from competition derives from a truly evolutional standpoint, wherein cavemen had to exert their dominance through the tribes, but we live in a society where such shows of he-manliness are all but obsolete. Grilling the best steak, being able to chug the most beers, winning the most video games, holding out and being single the longest—after a certain point, you begin to wonder what all of this rivalry means. This isn’t the space race. Your flag will not be on the moon. Contrary to what your football coach told you in high school, it’s okay if you don’t come in first in absolutely everything all the time, always. Really. (I’m type A, and I’m saying this. It was hard for me to learn, too, which is proof in and of itself that gender stereotypes are by and large superfluous. But life will be so much easier if and when you stop chasing every last battle you possibly can.)
8. Grunting at the gym
I understand why this happens, I just… still can’t fathom it somehow. You’re lifting some really heavy weight, and girls aren’t immune to the grunting, too. At a certain point, if you begin lifting stuff that’s truly straining, you’re going to express air, and chances are you’re going to express a sound along with it. But some of the grunts at the gym just seem downright gratuitous. It’s worrisome, really. Every time I hear a particularly guttural sound, I’m half afraid Mr. Universe over there is going to pop a hernia.
9. Acting personally scandalized if a meal does not have meat in it
Vegetarianism for one meal is okay. Nobody’s taking the bacon away from you, I promise. Nobody is forcing you to give up meat for good. There will still be steaks to eat tomorrow. There is still chicken left in this world. Eating a plant-based meal won’t be the end of the world. You will live, Ron Swanson. I promise you, you will survive this meal.