Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The New York Times is on crack this morning. This is a pathetic and completely bizarre article.

The delicate posturing began with the phone call.

The proposal was that two buddies back in New York City for a holiday break in December meet to visit the Museum of Modern Art after its major renovation....

The weirdness was apparent once they reached the museum, where they semi-avoided each other as they made their way through the galleries and eschewed any public displays of connoisseurship. "We definitely went out of our way to look at things separately," recalled Mr. Speiser, who has had art-history classes in his time.

"We shuffled. We probably both pretended to know less about the art than we did."

Eager to cut the tension following what they perceived to be a slightly unmanly excursion - two guys looking at art together - they headed directly to a bar. "We couldn't stop talking about the fact that it was ridiculous we had spent the whole day together one on one," said Mr. Speiser, who is straight, as is Mr. Putman. "We were purging ourselves of insecurity."
What??? Who are these people??? The article goes on to coin a ridiculous term, the "man date," and basically tries to create a social stigma where there completely isn't one. "And thus a simple meal turns into social Stratego. Some men avoid dinner altogether unless the friend is coming from out of town." Because, clearly, no one should ever want to spend time with their friends.

Anyone who finds a date with a potential romantic partner to be a minefield of unspoken rules should consider the man date, a rendezvous between two straight men that is even more socially perilous.

Simply defined a man date is two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports. It is two guys meeting for the kind of outing a straight man might reasonably arrange with a woman. Dining together across a table without the aid of a television is a man date; eating at a bar is not. Taking a walk in the park together is a man date; going for a jog is not. Attending the movie "Friday Night Lights" is a man date, but going to see the Jets play is definitely not.
I don't know, and maybe I'm just insane, but the people I'm friends with, male or female, it's because they're interesting and I like talking to them, I like spending time with them, I like doing things with them. Otherwise, why would we be friends?

"Dinner with a friend has not always been so fraught." Give me a freaking break. I was honestly kind of incredulous when I read this article.

Maybe it's just me, but I do plan things with friends, and, in a lot of ways, I'd rather do things one-on-one, or in a group of three or four, than in a group of eight or ten or twelve or fifty. There's a level of superficiality when you're hanging out in a large group -- you're not really talking about anything, it's not really particularly satisfying. I feel like one of the things that makes life cool is developing connections with people, getting to really feel like you know someone and what they're thinking about, finding people who you do connect with, and who you can have actual conversations with, and enjoy spending time with.

I want to feel like I'm a part of people's lives and they're a part of mine. It's part of why the weblog thing has been cool. But it's even cooler in real life. And I'm just baffled that this article really thinks there's something wrong with this, that it's a thing at all -- I mean, why bother to have friends if they're not people you want to do stuff with -- and, further, I don't have any idea who this article is describing. Maybe it's a self-selected kind of thing, or maybe I'm just weird, but I don't really know anyone who's insane like the people in this article, and who really agonizes over whether it's okay to go to a museum with a friend, or to talk about something that isn't sports.

And, yes, at the extreme level, sure, it would maybe be a little weird to go with another guy to a "date" restaurant, or, I don't know, shopping for underwear. But is this really a thing? Like, a thing that needs a New York Times article? A thing that actually is a societal issue? I just find it bizarre. And kind of sad. Because I think people are missing something if they're not seeking connections with other people that go beyond the weather, and missing one of the points of life, kind of. It's pathetic if people really feel like the people in this article. I really think it is.

UPDATE: I'm glad I'm not the only person who thinks this is bizarre.

Waxbanks writes: "Ladies and gentlemen, arguably the stupidest thing I've ever seen in the New York Times that wasn't written by Maureen Dowd or Judith [] Miller: the man date.... So let's review: America is a nation is of pathetic insecure homophobes unable to attain a level of intimacy with one another unless hard liquor and meat products are involved - and for some reason the NYTimes thinks this ridiculous article constitutes news?"

Rebel Prince writes: "Oh, honestly. Has the idea of straight guys going out together for anything besides business or sports become so marginalized in popular culture that the Times feels it worthy of coverage?"

Sabroso City writes: "I guess I've been in NYC too long, but who the heck goes to a movie and leaves a seat between them? Are they that insecure and still in middle school?"