Peter Pan and the Reason I Moved to 1954

I have dated a lot of men. Just dated, not “dated.” No air quotes are necessary, unlike with some people I know… ::cough:: Gail ::cough::

I’ve dated short chubby men, tall skinny men, unusually surly men, men who were probably gay, Atheists, men who look like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, men with furry hands… okay, those last two probably shouldn’t have been plural. Even I have not managed to date two men who look like they’re wearing September mittens. My point is, however, that I’ve had an… eclectic dating history. When I first started dating, newly divorced at 24, I was “overly specific” (air quotes totally necessary) with my dating goals.

“I just want an educated, gainfully employed, Catholic man, who’s 6’4″, well hung, can protect me if society breaks down, but still likes to debate Superman vs. Batman! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?!?!” Over time, though, I’ve become both more serious in my dating ventures, and more reasonable. Today, he only has to enjoy intellectual conversations (no degree required), love Jesus, and clear 5’7″. I’ve added a couple of things to the list, naturally, as I’ve discovered them to be issues. For example, military is out, because I’m not leaving my Gramma, Gaily, daddy, or career. He must be older than me, because zetus lapetus, I will be telling my great granddaughters of the horror that was my date with Civil Engineer

::wincing:: “Wooooooooow. You’re like a whole year older than me. How do you feel about that?”

… but I’m not being superficial anymore. If there’s even a chance I could develop a physical attraction to the man, over time, s’all good. The one thing I have not relaxed on, and will not relax on, though, is that “gainfully employed” bit.

Now, y’all probably know I had a particularly disturbing marriage. I’ve hinted and outlined and, even though the divorce was finalized three years ago, I cuddled my gun and slept with the light on just two nights ago. That kind of behavior is extremely and increasingly rare, but it does still happen… because my marriage was fucked up. One of the many ways in which it was, was my ex-husband’s refusal to work. By refusal, I mean that this man went to bizarre measures to actually fake employment. This is why I refer to men by their job titles. I’m much likelier to remember that he was a teacher, than I am to remember that he was called Matt. Also, I like the reminder that he does have a job, because of one freakish phenomenon I have noticed among the men of my generation: rampant Peter Pan Syndrome.

Why are there so many men out there who don’t work?!?! I’m not just talking about online dating. I’m talking about people I talk to at the library, men I’ve met at bars, and friends of friends. I ask a man, in his late 20s/early 30s, what he does for a living and he says:

“I’m going to school for graphic design.”

Really? Going to school for graphic design pays your bills, now?!?! Silly me, for getting my MLIS. I could have avoided an awful lot of student loans, if I’d just majored in graphic design.

I haven’t actually been on a date since Air Force, in part, because I’ve been working so much, but also because there haven’t been any men of promise. Recently, I thought I found one. He messaged me on OKCupid and told me he thought we might have something in common, since we’d also been matched on Christian Mingle. His profile said he was in finance. When I asked about it, he told me it was “way too complicated” to explain in a message. *Spoiler alert: no… it wasn’t. When we’d traded phone numbers and had the chance to text, I asked again. My phone instantly rang, though he hadn’t asked to call me.

Me: “Hello?”
Peter Pan: “Hey. Is this Belle?”
Me: “Yes.”
Peter Pan: “Hey. Sorry. I just figured I’d call, because what I do is waaaay too complicated to explain in a text message. You see, you know what the stock market is, right?”
Me: “Um. Yeah. I mean, I don’t invest, but I understand that it exists.”
Peter Pan: “Yeah, well, I grow assets for a living.”
Me: 
Peter Pan: “I invest in different enterprises and even spent a few years flipping houses.”
Me: “Okay, but you have an actual title and this is a steady paycheck, right?”
Peter Pan: “Oh, no. It’s not steady at all. I could lose everything tomorrow. I never have, though. I know people who have… but they always make it back. I mean I’ve got degrees, but it’s not like that means anything, today. Nobody cares about college degrees anymore. I’m actually planning on going back for my MBA and maybe my master’s in experimental psych.”

Me: 
Me: “Um… why? What are you planning on doing with them?”
Peter Pan: ::laughing:: “Nothing, really.”
Me: “So, um… what do you do all day, then?”
Peter Pan: ::laughing:: “Pretty much nothing.”
Me: 
Peter Pan: “I mean, I spend my days, pretty much, like… brainstorming ideas, hanging out with my nephews, taking care of my mom.”
Me: 

This man was 32 years old and lived with his mom. He was able-bodied and educated and chooses not to work. At best, he’s a professional gambler. At worst, he already has a wife he’s never met on World of Warcraft.

What the fucking fuck?!?! Why is this a thing?!?! Why are there people who don’t work?!?! Why are there parents who let their adult children live with them and do nothing?!?! 

No really. I cease my screaming at the heavens and express my sincere bafflement that there are so many adults who just choose not to join society. You haven’t read about The Guys in ages, save for Ward, because I don’t understand them. They’ll always be the boys who helped me leave my ex-husband, but it also seems they’ll always be the men who live at home. They’re my age and older. They have full time jobs. They even have degrees. Yet, my old guy friends all live with their parents for no reason and they’re not even all that exceptional in this. 

Sixty years ago, a man joined the adult world at 18, if he was lucky to last that long. Only the elite went to college and most of them were male. One thing was certain, though. Society did not pander to men who didn’t feel like growing up, just because they hadn’t decided what they wanted to do with their lives, or because it was cheaper not to do so. Men were forced to be men and women were forced to be women. I am so disgusted that this is no longer the way of things, that my next date is going to be in 1954 with a mad scientist and a DeLorean. I work two jobs to pay my way. In grad school, I still worked two jobs and once passed out from selling my blood to make ends meet on my own. I don’t need to date a cardiologist, but I am absolutely willing to demand that he makes a steady and livable wage! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?!?!

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10 thoughts on “Peter Pan and the Reason I Moved to 1954

  1. I literally have this rant consistently. To the point where I am currently working on a blog update about the Peter Pan generation. I do not understand it at all!!! The worst part is that the generation of teenagers now is going to be infinitely worse then ours is. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the collapse of society is caused by this nonsense.

    Also, side note, your original requirements for a man did not seem far fetched to me. They actually describe my fiance – expect he is only 6’2″ – I had to compromise somewhere. 🙂 So, yes, those men do exist – unfortunately I, too, had to kiss lots of frogs, some toads and a few downright jackasses to find him. So I guess you can always hold on to that dream, place it on a back burner and be pleasantly surprised if and when you meet Mr. Perfect-for-you.

    • Haha. Well, that’s good to hear, but I’ve definitely adjusted my priorities. It’s honestly most important to me to find someone with a well paying career he loves. And yes, when I have kids, it will be my main goal to teach them autonomy. This craze is driving me nuts.

  2. I know a young man who got a job at 16, left home at 18, has worked steadily ever since gaining merit raises and promotions and now, at 29, has purchased his own home. Unfortunately (for me) he is my son. Unfortunately for all you other young ladies out there, he is happlily married to his long time sweetheart. There out there, keep looking!

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