Sunday, May 18, 2003

How To Become An Alpha Male -- Lesson 16: Power Play

Someone told me they had no idea what these Alpha Male essays were all about. Okay, okay, I'm cool with that. Goodness knows, now that I'm around to Lesson 16 out of 18, I should be able to explain what the heck I'm writing about here.

So here goes. I started writing about the phenomenon called "Alpha Males" back in January because I was really worried that things have pretty much gone haywire in the world of men. I'm thinking of Mutual of Omaha's old TV show, Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins. Now there was a man. He wore a safari suit and hat, he showed you wild animals. Cool. You could depend on it. Just like Walt Disney on Sunday nights in those big old square shouldered suits, when I was a kid, he could show you The Wonderful World Of Color and you knew you might find a little Flubber there or maybe that wacky flying car or Hayley Mills (I hated her as she was "Hayley" and I was "Halley" and wrecked my chances at having my name ever pronounced correctly.) mooning around like silly Pollyanna. But you could depend on it. There were things you could depend on. Men and women had roles they pretty much followed. Life was easy to anticipate.

And like the alpha male dogs who fight to elect one guy as the main dog, there was a sense of how men operated, how they could be successful, how they did whatever it was they did. It was a ruled where they felt powerful and they ruled.

Well, I started writing these pieces because I got the idea all of that had just about melted down -- vanished before our very eyes -- and I wanted to think about what would be in its place. Seemed to me men had somehow ended up in a veritable no-man's land, damned if they opened the door for a woman, damned if they didn't. Damned if they didn't diaper their kid, damned if they did ("You have the thing on backwards, honey." -- she to he.) But in fact what we were witnessing was the erosion of male power -- the last days of "men as usual" if you also subscribed to the notion that we've lately seen the end of "business as usual."

We were surely leaving a "I Wanna Girl Just Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad." era, to a "I Married A Girl Just Like Dear Old Dad And She's Got A 7:30 Board Meeting." Yes, it was no more "Hi, Honey, I'm Home. What's For Dinner" but rather "Hi Honey, I'm Home And Of Course I Picked Up Junior From Daycare And Got Take-Out Chinese Because You''ll Be Glued To The Computer All Night Doing That Excel Spreadsheet You Didn't Get Done Last Night When I Wanted To Have Sex, But, Oh Yeah, I Remember, We Don't Have Time For That Anymore."

Once I started writing about men, lots of men started talking to me about it -- they told all -- and they thanked me for telling all, because they said they didn't dare spill the beans. They told me it was rough out there. They told me it was no fun. They told me they had a serious Vitamin R deficiency -- Vitamin Romance -- that they missed their partners. They missed having fun with their wives. And the unmarried ones missed having fun with their girlfriends. And the ones trying to date were nothing short of terrified at what they were seeing. And if they said anything about it, they got whacked along side of the head.

They needed massive amounts of Vitamin R. Vitamin Romance, but also, get ready to growl, Vitamin Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, that says, I want you baby. They needed to be told they were sexy, they were babes, they had adorable asses. They needed love letters. The love letters needed to say, "Your cock is so great and turns me on so much and I've been thinking about it all day. I want you, boy" They were men but they needed all the romantic wooing that women had grown to expect and complain about if they didn't get. They felt a little put out that Valentine's Day was all premised on what HE would get HER. Anniversaries were the same ... it was always about HIM getting her the big surprise. They wanted to be surprised. They wanted to come home to a woman who wanted to tear their clothes off and love them, deep and wet and messy and sexy and for a long time and then do it again. They needed it, they wanted it, they deserved it.

But what were they getting instead? Well, they were getting downsized and replaced by a woman who got promoted into the slot they expected would be theirs. They were getting "You deal with it, I'm tired," from their wives. They were getting no sex often as not in their marriage beds. There was not a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. A dark time in the land of men. Not pretty.

And I got the feeling that we were coming out of that dark time. Something was happening. A lot of Victoria's Secret lingerie was being purchased -- a leading economic indicator of a new order in the boardroom, in the bedroom. Men were going to be feeling a lot more hopeful. It was going to be a lot more fun. Women were going to love it too. They were going to get a bit more in balance. They were going to keep doing well at work, but they were going to remember you could wear dresses as well as suits to work. They were going to add something essential to the mix ... all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl. They were getting back to being female. They were showing their girl side. They were showing their goddess side. They were combining their new-found-out-in-the-work-world power with their old time girl-power. Yes, we were entering the era of Girlism, and not a moment too soon. We all needed it. So that's what all these lessons in Alpha Maledom were about. They were just a way of saying, "Hang on, man! It's about to get really, really good." We were twisting your arm to share some of your power with us. You were asking us to come home and play with you. And both those things were going to happen. And all of us would be having a helluva lot more fun.