Finding Mr Anyone
Sunday September 28, 2008
Are there any men in Sydney who aren't married or gay? Probably not, so what's a girl to do, asks Kathy Lette.There are many good things about being female. We get off sinking ships first. We don't have to readjust genitalia in public. And we can scare male bosses, policemen or aged judges with mysterious, gynaecological disorders or the mere mention of the word "tampon".But what's not good about being female is trying to find a mate. A new book by Bernard Salt, Man Drought And Other Social Issues Of The New Century, shows the man drought in Australia is leaving women gasping, parched and as dried up as old prunes. For female Sydneysiders this drought warning is nothing new. Thirty years ago I remember being marooned by the pretzels at parties playing "Spot The Hetero", with all the other women. It seemed all the men in Sydney were married or gay. Or married and gay. And the rest had a three-grunt vocabulary of "na, dunno or errrgggh". If a good-looking, emotionally articulate single heterosexual male was left unattended in our midst he was immediately stripped down and sold off for parts.In my early 20s, when my best girlfriend nabbed the only decent man in our neighbourhood, I got enough chips on my shoulder to open a casino. Seeing two people so in love, so united in mutual adoration, made me experience something I'd never felt before - nausea to the point of projectile vomiting.I then began to take the adage "plenty more fish in the sea" so literally I could have applied for a commercial fishing licence. Desperate to find Mr Right, I went on so many blind dates I should have been given a free dog.Like many other single Sydney women disappointed in love, I took refuge in feminism, persuading myself that I didn't need to be draped over the arm of some man like a human handbag. I could be significant without an "other". My single girlfriends and I convinced each other that dating was just something to do when you couldn't go shoe shopping ... until we ended up with more pairs of shoes than the entire cast of Riverdance.But once the snooze alarm goes off on your biological clock a woman's suddenly no longer searching for Mr Right but Mr Kinda OK ... Mr Vaguely Bearable ... Mr Two Corpses Short Of A Serial Killer - just to get those eggs fertilised. It is then you start husband-hunting in earnest, equipped with everything bar a net and tranquilliser gun. While birds, beasts of the field - invertebrates even - all pair off happily, breeding away without the aid of speed dating, Viagra, Sheagra, or internet sites listing GSOH (good sense of humour), the male and female of the human species need all kinds of help to get together. An innovative new website is promising to provide a psychological shorthand for flirtatious females. Penguin books is offering a dating site where potential partners are matched by their love of literature.It gives new meaning to reading between the lines. Men have often wondered what women really want in bed. Well, the answer is obvious. Breakfast. Oh, and a really good book. Is there anything more satisfying than slipping between the covers of a scintillating hardback?But will such a site really help pick the Romeos from the ratbags? OK, if you meet a man online who is reading Mein Kampf or the Marquis de Sade, along with Milosevic and Attila the Hun, I think he could be eliminated early from the ranks of Mr Caring And Sharing. But there's an obvious flaw in bonding by book. An amorous male may pretend to like Wuthering Heights, Pride And Prejudice and Jane Eyre, when all the time his reading material is limited to his bank balance and menu. If a man's fiction list is pure fiction, what other ways are there to make sure the Pope doesn't start ringing you up for tips on celibacy? Some of my single female friends have taken up male-dominated sports such as abseiling, hang gliding and mountaineering.In truth, most women are not that keen on the great outdoors, with all its multi-footed insects. We only like getting bitten all over by eligible blokes. But unfortunately the best place to find eligible blokes is the Great Outdoors.One of my girlfriends who is what Bernard Salt calls a "mingle" (a middle-aged single) has taken up caving, as she's the only female in the group. But it does mean camping. "Camping doesn't make me want to get back to the land. It makes me want to get back to some posh hotel suite for a bubble bath," she admitted as she packed for a weekend beneath canvas.I shuddered, remembering the music festivals of my youth. The true definition of a campsite is a stinging nettle-riddled, insect infested, leech laden area enclosing nostalgic, competitive men and pissed off, cold women secretly planning a mass exodus to the nearest shopping mall.While men may find it romantic to sleep rough and live off the land, using candles and eating by firelight, to most women it just describes fleeing the Taliban over the Afghanistan mountains. At least you can use the uneaten damper to tile your patio later. As my women friends limp back from scuba diving expeditions with only one operating lung or hobble home on crutches from a dodgy sky dive, I can't believe that extreme sports enthusiasts, otherwise known as organ donors, haven't taken up "husband hunting" as the ultimate risk-taking thrill. Another ploy for the desperate and dateless sheila is to fake an interest in manly sports: rugby, footy, cricket. To me cricket is baseball on Valium. It's the sport version of tantric sex - but the only thing that gets sticky is the wicket. But, in the interest of finding a male, women are willing to put up with a numb bum, sunburn, wind chaff and hours of tedium watching some ball being lobbed from one end of a field to another. Warning note: don't ever go out with a footballer - they treat their women just like footballs. They'll make a pass, play footsie and then drop you as soon as they've scored). Surely there's an easier way to attract an Antipodean male? Beer-flavoured lip gloss? But take heart. Drought relief is on the way. Salt says we've simply been looking in the wrong places. There are men, they're just not in the cities.Education and employment opportunities have lured women born in the country into the big smoke, leaving their menfolk forlorn. Things have become so desperate, the mayor of Mount Isa recently advertised for "ugly women", assuring them of a warm welcome up north. And what of Glenden, 165kilometres west of Mackay, on the edge of the Bowen Basin coalfields, where there are 23 bachelors for every single female? (The only city where the men outnumber the women is Darwin, with 13 per cent more blokes.) But what would it be like moving to a farming community or mining town? I worked as a governess on a sheep station between Cobar and Broken Hill and I can tell you for a fact that country blokes are Real Men. We're talking about blokes who can take a cold capsule and still operate heavy machinery.They also possess a sense of humour drier than the desert they live in. I blew a tyre once on a back road near Wilcannia. A shearer came to my rescue. When I thanked him he tipped his lid and replied: "Don't mention it. All in a day's work." Such men have a delicious tendency to erupt into a great nonchalance. Not to mention the softest hands from working with lanolin. My ovaries were positively quivering. The downside to falling in love with an Outback Jack is that he won't have a metrosexual bone in his muscular body. You may start to feel that your small intestine communicates with you more often than he does. These men are emotional bonsai - you have to whack the fertiliser on to get any feelings out of them.Ask a country bloke about his feelings and, judging by the slit-eyed look that will come your way, you'll think you've unintentionally accused him of pedophilia, alcoholism or rampant homosexuality.Still, Salt's research is fascinating. But will news that there are what he calls "man dams" in country communities have single women stampeding west in covered wagons? In truth, now that women are economically independent and can fertilise ourselves, if our sex aids could kill spiders in the bathtub, light the Barbie and tell us we don't look fat in stretch lycra, would we need men at all? Statistics reveal that marriage suits men much more than it suits women. Married men live longer than single men, have less heart disease and mental problems, whereas single women live longer than married women, have less heart disease and mental problems. Marriage statistics are lower than Britney Spears's bikini line. So perhaps it's women who've developed PMT - Pre-Monogamy Tension? Love may be blind but marriage is a real eye-opener. Women may finally be wising up to the fact that marriage decreases a woman's libido but increases the risk of being murdered in her own home. But if you don't want to remain footloose and fiance free, forget about consulting computer websites, tarot cards and tea leaves to find your perfect match.Forget a shared passion for pets, matching Trekkie uniforms or a mutual addiction to Marmite. It seems to me that the best indication of compatibility is a similar sense of humour. If a man ever moans that women can't tell jokes, simply explain that's because we marry them. A man who can laugh at himself guarantees that Mr Right's first name won't turn out to be "Always".So happy hunting, girls. May you find your Knight in Shining Armani.Kathy Lette's latest novel, To Love, Honour and Betray (Till Divorce Us Do Part) is published by Bantam Press, $32.95.