A few weeks ago, I went out to a bar called The Happy Ending in Hollywood with my old roommate from college. It was her sorority sister’s birthday and I was a little anxious about spending the evening with a bunch of people I’d never met, but I had forgotten how quickly alcohol enables new friendships. In quite literally a matter of minutes, I met a girl who, immediately after finding out I was single, became hell-bent on playing match-maker and finding me my fish in the sea.
“Wes, I love you! I know I just met you like five minutes ago, but you’re awesome and we’re friends and I am going to find you a man!” she announced with intoxicated enthusiasm, which is the nicest way I know how to say “sloppy-drunk and in love with everyone.”
“Haha, umm, we are?” I asked, with a slightly more sober apprehension, which is the nicest way I know how to say I thought she had maybe done some coke in the bathroom, too.
“Yeah, I work with a ton of awesome guys! I can totally make it happen! So, what’s your type?”
Now, along with the rest of the general population, I’ve been asked this question many times, but I can never seem to give the right response. I used to always go for the cop out, “Oh, I don’t have a type, as long as they’re nice!” …which is obviously stretching the truth. I’ve since tweaked my initial response to this, which is how I replied on Saturday night: “Well, I want a guy that I could take to church, but not one who would ever actually make me go to church.”
Really, this is just my silly and roundabout way of saying someone clean-cut and moderately well-dressed; by using the word ‘church’ I immediately cast away any potential attempts to set me up with a crazy, drug-addicted party boy or a punk-goth type with facial piercings and a full-body dragon tattoo. I guess a more popular way of phrasing it would be “the boy next door,” although in this case I’d prefer that boy to have grown up, moved out of his parents’ house next door and into a luxury apartment building somewhere in the city. My new friend laughed.
“Ha, too cute! Churchy boys who aren’t actually churchy! That’s like, my new favorite thing! But like, be more specific. Name an actor or something!”
Without a good answer, I downed another gulp of my beer. Name an actor? Most young actors are pretty good looking! Josh Hutcherson doesn’t look anything like Chase Crawford, but I find them both insanely attractive. And yes, it would be awesome to date Channing Tatum’s gay twin, but that wouldn’t mean anything to me if he were also a moron or a huge asshole. And let’s say this girl did happen to know a Ryan Gosling look-alike — why in God’s name would that guy want to date me? Let’s be real.
Unwilling to name some hot celebrity, I started brainstorming generic physical features I find attractive. In shape would be nice, I want someone who can keep up with me, but I feel like this girl probably assumes as much already. Someone around my height would be good too, although slightly taller or slightly shorter doesn’t matter much either. I’m not really narrowing things down here. Eye color? I know I have a soft-spot for pretty blue eyes, but does it actually make a difference what color they are as long as there’s love behind them when they look back at you? And hair color? I find it doesn’t matter much in the long run whether the hair is blonde or brunette, as long as they make that soft noise of affectionate approval when you run your fingers through it. So what does that leave me with? Saying I like a nice smile? Who doesn’t?
What I really want to say is not the name of an actor I find attractive, but the name of a movie, book or song I really like, and hope that this hypothetical guy would like it too. I’d like to tell her that I want someone who would be okay with a comfortable silence in the instance we ran out of things to talk about, instead of forcing me to participate in meaningless small-talk. I’d like him to be optimistic, someone who genuinely believes there is more good than bad in the world, but won’t drive me crazy with inane pep-talks when I’m in the mood to be cynical. I want him to know how to tease me and tell me the truth without hurting my feelings. I want him to tell me when he likes what I’m wearing, as I’ve probably changed my clothes six times trying to decide what he’d like best. I want him to laugh when I spill my drink or slur my speech because I’ve had a bit too much alcohol, as I can judge myself enough for both of us. He wouldn’t be perfect, of course — maybe he’d tell stupid jokes or he’d always be late, but I’d put up with him because he puts up with me. He’d like my friends and I’d like his and we’d spend lots of time at bars and clubs with them, but I’d know he’d also be content to hang on the couch with just me, watching re-runs of a 90s sitcom together.
Of course, you can’t say these kinds of things at a bar, let alone to the super-drunk girl you just met. Had I explained what I really wanted, I’m not sure what her reaction would have been. Maybe she would have thought it was sweet and romantic. Maybe she would have said that I’m being unrealistic. Maybe she would have laughed and told me that I’m going to die alone. I guess I’ll never know, because instead of answering her question, I just smiled and yelled, “Let’s go get another drink!”
We may have been celebrating at The Happy Ending, but I knew this girl wasn’t going to help me find what I’m looking for; if I want my own happy ending, I’m going to have to wait for someone who is just my type.