Boys like smart girls. Girls like Botticelli’s Venus, standing glorious, bright, capable, useful. Intelligent, practical, prodigious women were the idyllic sought-after prize or at least that was what my parents told me when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I got to college that I learned this was not true. Proof of this theorem. Newton’s law of coupling and attraction: Boys like fun girls, flirty girls, and pretty girls.
Don’t get me wrong- some boys like smart girls (and I guess that was the subset my parents were targeting me for) but for the vast majority of 18-24-year-olds, intelligence was not at the top of their list.
The injustice of it all, truly a travesty of priorities on a monumental scale! I must have spent too much going to math club and reading the biography of Albert Schweitzer and not enough teen magazines to be boy-savvy in this realm. I was not good at “those kinds of games,” and I was much better at one-on-one on a basketball court. I know, I know there are anthropological underpinnings to the whole protector/provider thing, but I just couldn’t understand the appeal of helpless gazelle (then again I am not drawn in by kitten posters or Benji movies much either). While it seemed to work for some, I figured I’d better not try playing dumb because my acting skills were quite lacking (at least according to my 3rd grade TAG teacher who cast me in the seen-but-not-heard parts of flower and bookend in school plays).
At college, the curtains were certainly thrown open, revealing this whole shocking subculture of attraction, dating and marriage hitherto unknown to me. While I had exempted immature high school boys from appreciating well rounded girls, I expected more from the college set. I watched girls who spent more time working out and subsisting on tuna fish than cracking a book; girls who swindled their parents out of lots of money to feed their shopping habits through elaborate you-forgot-to-pay-my-rent schemes; girls who took superfluous classes or half the credits of the recommended semester allowance so they could drag their college career on indefinitely until they and found a desirable match because they believed nothing spelled plague like graduating unmarried (how I wanted them to wake up and smell the delicious textbooks); and girls whose likelihood to go out with a guy a second time was directly correlated to the size of his father’s bank account, his future bankability, or his degrees of separation from a general authority. These were the high volume daters.
Oh, was I disillusioned alright. My visions of boy meets girl were subverted, derailed. Somehow it seemed 90% of the boys on campus dated the same 10% of girls. I couldn’t understand how some seemingly unimpressive girls dated all the time, while some of the most amazing girls I knew were more acquainted with dates as dried fruits that went into fruitcakes than as something that occurred on Friday nights and involved dinner or kissing. Wasn’t the glory of God intelligence? Had no one read that part of the scriptures? It seemed to me that smarts were not being factored into the whom-to-call-for-Saturday-night equation, and by smarts I don’t mean so much IQ as just capable, repsonsible, sharp girls.
Watching these other girls go in out of their apartments with different guys each weekend felt like the supreme trump. There wasn’t much consolation in being the nice, responsible girl who every one’s parents liked. At first it was like getting picked last for kickball in elementary school, but it was then I realized I didn’t really want to play kickball with them anyways. While more dates might have been flattering, it was as much about me wanting them as them wanting me. If guys wanted girls like that I would surely never make them happy and they would never make me happy.
That is okay. In fact it’s how it’s meant to be. Like Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors. Because the other mantra my parents taught did turn out to be true: “There is a Jack for every Jill, and a lid for every pot.”
P.S. Eventually I did forgive my parents for their miseducation of me. Maybe it was when I finally married a guy who likes smart girls.
So what myths did you grown up with?
So what were you taught was picture of a desirable in a woman? Did this mesh with reality of what you saw?