Men lie because the shortest distance between what they want and getting it is a rickety rope bridge swaying back and forth over a bottomless chasm that creaks when you put your foot on it. It is possible to inch across that bridge and get to the other side. But it’s more likely that the ropes will snap, and the creeping sneak will fall and, wait, did I mention that it’s not a bottomless chasm that the bridge dangles above? Actually, it’s a river full of alligators and piranha who have formed an unholy and unnatural alliance. Pretty gruesome.
Lies are moral shortcuts. There are plenty of reasons to take a shortcut. They seem faster, easier, safer. But I think every man should lead his life as if it were a tale of adventure that will be told for 1,000 years. Heroes are true to their word. They learn from their mistakes. They woo and laugh and weep with those they love. I’m not saying that being a decent man means your life will be celebrated through the ages by pacifist, vegetarian cyborg-vikings, but maybe it should.
But a hero’s journey means taking the long way. The long, rocky, boring path that looks more terrifying than the rope bridge. Quests are not novellas. No one wants to read a hundred pages about a tiny hippie who destroys the magical fashion accessory of darkness because he knew a time saving tip on how to get from elf town to the volcano of plot.
Honesty is hard. The problem with honesty is that honesty is honest. You will fall on your face. You will be scared. Failure is an option. But heroes are brave and bravery is what happens when honesty and action have unprotected sex. The odds are slim. Standing tall with knocking knees is the trick. You might fail, but you try anyway. A liar is a coward. That is why men lie.
I know what all of you are thinking: Captain James T. Kirk took a shortcut when he had to play the Kobayashi Maru, the no-win war game played at Starfleet Academy. Isn’t it eerie how I know exactly what’s flitting through the heads of so many fashion-forward women? Well, here’s the thing: he didn’t lie about cheating. He was just trying to prove a point. When it comes to protecting his ship and de facto family, he will try anything, even if it means sacrificing himself. Ahem.
The reason I’m writing about men lying is because I read an article in a New York City tabloid — that never met a sex scandal it couldn’t glibly exploit — that said men are lying about their age when dating. Specifically, older men in their late-30s and early-40s living the cliche dream of chasing young women because they assume they are easy picking. Traditionally, life experience was a man’s most potent tool when trying to pick up young women. I mean, that’s the stereotype. Sometimes it takes a man a good 10 years to learn about things like why a sheet’s thread count is important, that a good blender is an excellent kitchen appliance and how, when it comes to sex, nice guys finish last. It’s like that passage in the Bible that I’ll roughly paraphrase: “When I was a frat boy, I spake like a frat boy, I rocked liked a frat boy, I puked like a frat boy. When I became a man, I put away the beer bong.“ But men who lie about their age to curry favor with a post-graduate is a man in boy’s clothing. He is wearing an emotional hairpiece.
This deception is more than mere vanity. Modern men have been lambasted for tanning and waxing and checking themselves out in the mirror. Normally, I find all of that very tit-for-tat. The dark side of gender equality. If men have been superficial in their appraisal of women, then why can’t women return the favor?
But I think it is something deeper. According to the article, the men who admit to lying about their age feel pressure because of our “youth-oriented culture.” Which I call BS on. I loved my 20s, even though they were a hot Sloppy Joe of emotion, booze and bad life choices. I lived them and I would never go back to them. Never. People who pine for “the good old days” are lying to themselves. I despise those who try to relive past glories. I accuse these men of being spineless and for taking the wheels off their imaginations and dumping the heap in the front yard of the trailer park of their life.
I just turned 37 a few weeks ago. I will accept retroactive hosannas and baked goods, because lemon squares are my new whiskey. But, I am galloping towards forty. I know more stuff now than I did in my 20s, and I know I don’t know even more stuff. I’ve always been crabby, so decrepitude suits me. I’ve always loved watching “Antiques Roadshow” and spontaneous napping. But still, I’m too old to be pretending like I’m a post-college graduate and too young to connect to the Baby Boomers who are still running the show. Sometimes being a so-called Gen Xer feels like being squished between the most self-aggrandizing generation in history and their mollycoddled sequel. Sometimes being a so-called Gen Xer means I gripe and moan and write sentences like that last one. But I don’t feel any pressure from society. I’m not trying to date society. I’m just looking for one lunatic who finds the word “parfait” hilarious.
I don’t date women in their early or mid-20s. I’m not shopping for a child-bride. Also: I remember what an roller coaster of moods I was, and nothing spoils the ups and downs more than a companion who is all “BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. SIGH.” I traditionally date five or so years younger or older. Oftentimes, I think the only safe ages to date are women 45 and up and a two month window right after their 29th birthday. But, let’s say, hypothetically, that a woman in her 20s gobsmacked me. There was a countdown and ignition. I’m talking a sincere connection. I know plenty of men my age who pursue younger women like Ahabs with moisturized skin. But love has rules and exceptions. So let’s entertain such an exception. I suppose if I were to pursue a younger woman, I would absolutely have to tell her my age up front. Be honest. Because to lie, to willfully deceive, would be a chickens**t choice. I’d rather be rejected for being truthful.
And, 1,000 years from now, future bros will tell the tale of John DeVore, The Guy Who Tried To Tell The Truth, Especially To Himself.