This story was originally published in our Summer 2012 issue. Get your copy here.
Story by Paul Nakayama
To be perfectly honest, I’ve been dreading writing this issue’s Awful Truth for weeks now. Seeing as I’m currently stuck in my hotel room in Jodhpur, India, awaiting the passing of a brutal dust storm, I guess it’s nature’s way of telling me to get off my ass. I just wish my to-do reminders didn’t consist of strong winds scooping up cow dung from the streets and whipping them around town. I prefer the carrot to a stick made of hepatitis. At any rate, the topic for this issue is what men really want, so here’s what I did: I asked my single friends what they look for, and I asked my married friends what they love about their wives. If this works, the answer hopefully lies somewhere between a booty call and a divorce.
The Single Guys
Now this is a no-brainer, but with single guys (as with single girls), the company in which you ask this particular question will determine the political correctness and validity of the answers. For example, while I was having dinner with friends in Tokyo last week, I asked a guy what attracts him to a girl. Looking at the two women at our table, he remarked that he’s attracted to pretty eyes, a sense of humor and intelligence. He might as well have winked conspicuously, pointed finger guns at me, and clicked his tongue.
It’s not that he wasn’t telling the truth; those are things that most men would value, single or married. But it’s only a partial truth, a safe truth that can be uttered in the company of women without the threat of eyes being rolled or being gouged out.
I asked some single buddies of mine the same question while we were all crammed in a cab together. Now, keep in mind that alcohol was 90 percent of our stomach content at the time, but based on their answers, it would have been easier to post a multiple choice quiz, like so:
What do you look for in a girl? Is it:
1. A pretty face
2. Awesome bodunkadunk (or replace with your favorite slang term for buttocks)
3. Life-changing tatas (or replace with your favorite term of endearment for breasts)
4. All of the above
You get the picture. Everyone shouted all at once about something superficially physical followed by an unending round of high fives. I wanted slightly more definitive answers, so I asked them, “How about what you definitely don’t want?”
Immediately, I was bombarded with all sorts of things (excuse the graphic — yet verbatim — responses): “Bitches … gold diggers … naggers … trainers [girls that try to mold you].”
It was a laundry list that these men had pent up inside and had simply been waiting for someone to ask. Frustrations were just pouring out of them, like I had just grabbed hold of their gag reflex. If I had given them each a hug and a new car, it would’ve been like an episode of Oprah. It dawned on me that single men might know more of what they don’t want than what they do want. It sort of made sense. Let’s say single guys wanted a cake. They can’t define all the ingredients to make it taste right; they just know that there’s no vinegar or fish oil in the mix.
The Married Guys
Now that I had some sense of what the single men were seeking (or avoiding), I wanted to see if what married men had sought as bachelors was the same as what they love about their wives now. A tricky question to answer, I know, but that’s the beauty of anonymous sources (and blackmailing said sources).
A friend I had just met in Tokyo was more than happy to answer the question, from his perspective anyway, but I feel it’s a commonly respected trait.
“I love that my wife trusts me and gives me space when I need it,” he said. “Independence is key.”
“That’s nice, man,” I replied, “but does she know that we’re headed to a strip club right now?”
“It doesn’t matter. I trust her to have healthy fun, and she trusts me to do the right thing,” he answered matter-of-factly. A great situation for him, but I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t be blackmailing him for free sushi.
Several other friends agreed that having someone they can mutually trust and believe in is one of the great things about being married and in love with your wife. They also agreed that in their previous lives they would have traded trust for a 34C-28-36.
It’s funny, though, because as several married men touted the beauty of their independence to watch sports or drink with the boys, I got a different story from the wives. Cynthia, who’s both a wife and mother, laughed at what my married friends had said. “They may talk a big game now, but once they have kids, and their wife is now focused on the baby, they’ll be desperate for attention.”
She even recounted some stories where the men became jealous of the baby, then lonely, and eventually cheated on their wives, which of course ended in an ugly divorce. A cautionary tale for us all, to be sure. She bought me a panna cotta to curb the growing cynicism within me.
Guys in General
Having heard some depressing sh-t, I took a shot of Johnnie and then decided to go back and talk to my male friends some more, one-on-one. This time, I asked the single guys what they looked for in a girlfriend. Yes, the words “hot” and “sexy” came up more than a few times, but after signing affidavits that I wouldn’t attach their names to anything sappy in the article, I managed to squeeze out the mushy truth from them. In hushed, whispered tones, so as not to have their masculinity whisked away from them by the gods, they confided in me that in the end all they really want is a girl who can also be their best friend. Well, and sex. Lots of sex. But mostly a best friend.
Then I went back to my married friends and mentioned Cynthia’s comment. Things got real— like they were Bruce Willis realizing he was a ghost all along in the Sixth Sense. The fear that this trust and independence would turn into spousal neglect scared the crap out of them. I didn’t even have to ask them what they really loved about their wives; it was clear they just loved them. Rather than a follow-up interview, we ended up just chatting about recommendations for romantic restaurants. I pictured them slowly canceling their premium sports cable package and taking up ballroom dancing.
Last issue I talked about bromances and how men will often say to their best friends, “If you were a girl, I’d marry you.” Well,after this column, I realized that men do end up marrying their best friends. They just didn’t know it because it was all camouflaged under the boobs and stuff. So when it comes down to it, men, including yours truly, all want the same thing, whether we know it or not: attraction, mutual respect and companionship. And sex. Lots of sex.