I love my book club. Every month we have a different book and theme (duh), and while some books are amazing (“Gone Girl”), some are errr….eh…interesting (“Bared to You”). Occasionally we read books that are non-fiction or autobiographies, like Mindy Kaling’s. So when I found out this month’s book was by Aziz Ansari, I was planning on not reading it (sorry gals), because Ansari isn’t my cup of tea. Granted, I had no idea what it was about. I figured it would be another comedian writing an autobiography and name dropping. To the contrary, it’s about dating in the 21st century, backed up with crazy amounts of research and focus groups. Oh. Well, dating is miserable in NYC, why not just pick up a book to enforce that notion. I think they call this being a masochist.
To my surprise, “Modern Romance” is actually a good book. A good book that made me want to swear off dating, nonetheless. But I digress. For the most part, it focuses around online dating. I can’t name a single friend of mine in NYC who hasn’t done some form of online dating, be it Tinder (gag), Bumble, OkCupid, and the website where I get hit on by men in their 50s, Match.com. But, a lot of people have turned to those for a multitude reasons:
1) No one wants to meet the love of their life in a bar.
2) It’s too hard to meet men the “normal way” in NYC.
3) We hopelessly want to date someone.
4) We want to get married and move to the suburbs someday. LOL. JK. Wait, no one? Just me? JK. Kinda.
5) Or just for a quick hookup. #21stCenturyProbs
But let’s be honest here. In NYC alone, most people skew towards getting married in their late 20s to early 30s. So can we just admit that a lot of the time people just use these apps for #5? In the book, this was roughly referred to as “emerging adulthood”. It’s somewhat of a new concept. In the olden days, people got married in their early 20s! But now we just can live our lives until we kind of feel that we want to jump into that actual life thing called plain ole adulthood. Which a lot of the time includes getting married and having kids. Ansari went to a retirement home to ask a few questions regarding dating and marriage when they were younger. Most of the people got married in their early 20s to either someone that lived in their neighborhood or sometimes just a setup. And that was just how it went. My mom (and those in the retirement home) is all for me being a part of the “emerging adulthood”. She tells me time and again to just take my time and not force myself into a relationship just because my friends (Southerners) are getting married. Lemme tell you mom, first, thank you, and two, not a problem in NYC. But I understand. You’re not tied down to anything! But please don’t talk to my Nana. My phone calls always consist of her asking when I’m going to get married. Unfortunately, even though she did get married at 20, she doesn’t comprehend the whole emerging adulthood thing. Sorry, not sorry.
Although with the whole internet dating scene, we have a LOT of options. Maybe too many options. One day you could be dating someone who has great potential, but you still swipe away hoping that maybe, just maybe, you could find someone who is even better. This is a serious catch 22. Then we think to ourselves again that maybe we should just meet people in public. Oh wait. We don’t want that. And that’s the endless circle, my friends.
On another note: once emerged into a relationship, can people just drop texting? Have we been just so conditioned to do so that we can’t even move on to calling people? We (GenY) didn’t live our whole lives glued to our cell phone. Why can’t we just recall those days before iPhones? Wait! I know why. It’s so much easier to hide behind an inanimate object when things go awry. Ghosting, slow fading, and now this new thing called “benching” makes it so much easier. Lord help us all. (But seriously, guys, GET IT TOGETHER.)
Even though a large chunk of the book is written about people in America, Ansari hops over to Tokyo, Paris, and Buenos Aires. Due to studying in France and having a good friend from Buenos Aires, I kinda had an idea of the dating scenes there. Tokyo, not so much.
So, Buenos Aires first. Recently I was catching up with my good friend Santiago* because I saw that he CUT HIS HAIR. I know this sounds trivial, but he had long locks for as long as I knew him and I was surprised to see short hair. Eventually (and not surprisingly), he brought up my dating life. Basically, guys in Buenos Aires are romantically aggressive. I won’t go into the huge details that Ansari does, but more so on how my conversation with Santiago went. Obvious first question: How’s your love life? Me: Umm… well I’m on too many dating apps. Him: Wait, why? Me: Umm, most guys just want hookups. Him: Is that a bad thing? Me: I’m really not one for one night stands. Him: Well, all we do is hook up here [Buenos Aires]. Me: Eh, well that’s just not my cup of tea. Him: I like one night stands. I like relationships. We’re different here. We like to have a lot of physical contact. /THE END. Actually that wasn’t the end of our conversation, but that’s how they do it down in Buenos Aires. Yeah, that sounds kinda like what we see in the states, but they don’t just ask once and move on. They press until you say yes. His last message to me said, “Just come visit me in Buenos Aires.” I see what you did there Santiago, you cheeky monkey.
*Name changed because he’s a celeb. I’d hate for this to show up on their Page 6. Although, I doubt he’d mind.
On to Paris! Oh la la! So, I didn’t study in Paris; I studied in Cannes. But it’s all the same. They’re casual in dating. There’s no back and forth texting that we do in the states. I’ll use some quotes from “Modern Romance” for it to make total sense:
Ansari is talking to a French woman who looked bewildered and puzzled while texting a guy who is from the states, because she’s frustrated with the whole back and forth texting and Ansari asks, “Okay, well, what would a guy in France text you, if you met him at a bar?” She said, “He would write…’Fancy a f*ck?'”
Okay well that’s just right to the point. Are the French men just all of the American men on Tinder? But seriously, that’s how those froggies are. Merci, mais NON MERCI.
And lastly, his trip to Tokyo. He promised talk of amazing food, so honestly, that’s all I cared about. Ramen is my bae. But, in short, dating sucks in Tokyo. We may complain incessantly about how dating in the states is bad, but this my friends is another planet. I figured (just as Ansari did) that it would be a pretty cool city to date in. Awesome food, tons of karaoke, quirky restaurants, etc. Butttttt, there’s apparently some sort of crisis with people getting married. Not like our “emerging adulthood” getting married. Like, people just aren’t interested. And this is so much of a problem that the government (wut?) is getting involved. Okay so, why aren’t people getting married? Because there’s this thing called an “herbivore man”. Basically, the guys just don’t have time to date because their married to their jobs, and when they get home, it’s all about video games. And to make things worse, it’s apparently taboo to try and pick up a woman you don’t know! If you tried, they would most likely say no. Or if they said yes, the woman would come off as being too open and then the guy says forget it. THIS DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE. But on the other hand, the women that Ansari talked to would prefer the guys to make an initiative. They find it frustrating and have started to get the name of “the carnivorous woman” because of it. Is the moral of the story that guys suck in general in Tokyo? But seriously, y’all, I just can’t wrap my head around this. So basically, I’m not going to date in Tokyo. I’ll just be there for the ramen and sushi.
While this only scratches the surface of Ansari’s book, I still think it’s a pretty good read. It really does hit the nail on the head with the current dating scene. There are also some solutions to the dumb problems we have, which was nice. Knowing that I’m not alone in this does give me a sigh of relief.
Also, poor Aziz. His girlfriend broke up with him after this was published. Sorry, dude.