I have a love-hate relationship with all these fluffy “How Guys Really Are” pieces that pop up regularly in women’s interest magazines. They approach what could be an interesting topic with blasé mediocrity that barely challenges their readership. They gloss over depth and subtlety with a thick layer of cherry flavored lip balm. Mostly they irritate me. But I love these articles anyhow because they give me fodder for interesting posts to you, my dear readers!
For those of you who follow this series, I have written some previous responses to such “How Guys Really Are” articles (here and here), and last week I found a new one, courtesy of Redbook: Things Men Do When You’re Not Looking. Again I was disappointed and irritated,. but again it got my brain working in overdrive on how I would approach this.
So I present to you, my alternative version of What Guys Really Do When You’re Not Looking.
1. NOT cleaning/bathing
For some reason, when a guy is by himself, with no one watching, the concept of cleanliness and hygiene simply doesn’t cross his mind.
2. Eating like they are still in the dorms
It’s sad but true. The second a guy is left alone, away from the watchful eye of society at large, his eating habits regress to sophomore year of college. Meals will include such high-brow fares as burritos from the local Mexican place, sandwiches comprised of two slices of Oscar Mayer on white bread, or even worse. Some guys have been known to eat a bowl of cereal for every meal of the day.
When guys are left alone, they sometimes have weird flashes of being handy, or at least attempting to be handy. But, unlike when a girl asks a guy to help her build Ikea furniture, when a guy is left alone his handiwork is motivated by purely selfish reasons. For example: using superglue to repair the detached heel from the Oxfords that have been sitting in the back of his closet for eight months. Or, futilely trying to put the chain back on their fixie even though the brakes are shot and the bike is nonfunctional.
4. Video games
We are a generation bred on video games. Even guys who are in their early 40s had some form of exposure to Sega/Nintendo/Atari in their youth. And for those who didn’t have a set-top console, there were early computer games like Sim City and Space Quest. We can’t avoid it, it is engrained in our DNA, and sometimes we like to dabble in a trip down memory lane with a quick session of Gran Turismo, or Call of Duty.
5. Stalking/flirting with girls from our past
This one is touchy, but is also the most clandestine act of guys when they are alone. This can be as benign as scrolling through photos of exes on Facebook to see what they look like now. But it can also be a potential deal-breaker like e-flirting with past flings via instant messenger. I’m not here to judge the behavior, I’m just here to point out that guys do this, and frequently. Sometimes the curiosity is just overwhelming and we have to find out if our high school crush is still as attractive as she was in our AP English class a decade ago.
6. Showing affection to pets
When a guy is out with his dog, he treats the animal like it’s a fraternity brother; showing his fondness through grunts of approval and catch-all monikers like “homie” or “bro”. But when a guy is alone, all of the kindness, affection, and unadulterated love toward his pet emerges. We will hug our pets, speak to them in baby voices, gives them extra helpings of special snacks, and let them curl up with us on the couch. The irony of this is that all of the behavior that women traditionally find appealing in men with pets is reserved for when women aren’t around.
7. Pursuing passion projects
Not all of what a guy does on his own time revolves around laziness and poor hygiene. Frequently he uses his alone time to pursue his secret interest, like writing (myself), researching a start up idea (we all have one), or anything else in between. One guy I know uses his free nights to sneak off to the local ceramics studio and meditate over the potter’s wheel.
8. Revisiting their favorite movies
When a guy is alone he can sit down by himself and watch the same movie he has seen fifty times before and still find it entertaining. Worse than that, it is usually the silliest farce that keeps him coming back for more again and again. Movies like Superbad, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Friday, and Half-Baked are all classics in this genre.
9. Fantasy sports
If you only knew how many hours are spent trash-talking on bulletin boards and chat rooms of fantasy sports leagues…