You probably know the routine. You have 8pm reservations at the hottest new restaurant in town. You've looked forward to the meal all week, and to seeing the expression in your loved one's eyes once the realization sets in that you are one thoughtful mate. However, it's getting near the magical hour, and your better half is still nowhere near being ready. You check your watch. How many outfits can one person try on? How much hairspray can one person use? Who cares which style of sandals you wear? Can we go, already?
And they say women are just as bad.
Way back when, when science fiction writers tried to predict what the 21st Century would be like, flying cars were de rigueur, as were jet-packs and meals you ate by taking a pill. What Asimov and his ilk probably never envisioned, however, was a world in which men and women would fight not about whether or not dinner was ready after the man arrived home from work, but over whose turn it was to go to the Aveda store.
Who is this new breed of man? His natural habitat is usually an urban area, almost out of force of nature. He needs nightclubs to show off his fabulous self, after all -- and places to shop, and a good gym, and his local man-spa. His sexuality may vary, but not the true object of his desire: himself. To boot, he's long since been given a name, thanks to writer Mark Simpson: the "metrosexual." The cheeky label has received a lot of press this year, thanks to a fashion feature in the New York Times, television shows like Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, and mentions in magazines as disparate as The Economist and People.
Mr. Metrosexual isn't the only one palling around with Paul Mitchell, however. As with any new trend that crashes into our public consciousness, there is inevitably another wave to follow: that of The Followers.
You know The Followers. You have seen The Followers.
The Follower is usually somewhat handsome, and, as he spends so much time grooming, possibly vapid. He generally attracts the kind of gals (and/or guys) who want to accentuate their own good grooming and genetic stock by having him as arm candy. After the initial hookup, they don't have to worry so much about having things in common, as new partners are always just a nightclub away. And with all the time spent working out and getting coiffed and watching reality TV and visiting a tanning bed, who has time to talk to their mate anyway? Besides, it's time to go to a club, in hopes of one last -- hopefully naked -- workout (no doubt checking out their own bodies while they do it).
There are exceptions to our shameless stereotyping, of course. Some men, neither metrosexual nor Follower, come about their attractiveness naturally, and don't need a whole lot of polish (see: The Sean Connery). Others have gobs of money, which, especially in the Charlotte dating game, is the ultimate airbrush (see: The Donald Trump). And, as always, there are those whose allure is indefinable (see: The Clay Aiken).
Three guys sit in a Tryon Street bar. All are putting back the brew at a breathless rate. Members of the opposite sex mill about. The men smile and punch arms, conspiring. They look at the guy beside them, and laugh. One imagines their conversation including the word "pantywaist." "Excuse me, buddy," one says, turning to the guy sitting at the bar by himself. Oh no... Here it comes! Duck!
"Hey...are those the new Diesel jeans?"
What has led all these narcissists to water? Some argue it's the result of women shunning popular paradigms, simply preferring to live alone rather than settle for Joe Sixpack. As women in this Oprah-fied nation wrest control of their personal and professional affairs (and, finally, close the earning gap between themselves and their male counterparts), they're also standing up for themselves when it comes to the kind of man they want to date. As women have gained more "independence," the man who loves women must learn to adapt to her wants and needs -- or else. That can mean understanding the way women behave, even if this so-called "understanding" of the female is as antiquated and stereotypical as the idea of the beer-swilling, Man Show-watching, football-betting American Male. Yes, instead of hopping into the local bar to swill massive amounts of beer and watch the Raiders take on the Chiefs, Today's Charlotte Man now heads with his lady down to the local wine bar to hoist a glass of Riesling.