I have to admit, that a few chapters in I thought ‘what IS this book, and what did it ever do to earn itself an orange jacket?’ because basically, it was all about s#x, and nothing much else. And that was s#x from a male perspective, with technical details thrown in. So I nearly set it aside. But I detected a glimmer of something and read on, wondering what exactly I might learn about the “modern male” as it says on the back cover, which I checked again when I was wondering what sort of merit this book had (though now that I have finished I don’t know that I’ve learnt too much about any guy I know). And it is a very entertaining read — eventually.
I thought I’d quote a little of the book, but don’t take this as unqualified endorsement. You might actually find this book seriously unhelpful, and if you are single and in your thirties maybe especially so, and there might be parts in it, about being single and in your thirties, that you find really hard to read. I know there are bits where I could easily have become depressed, if I didn’t keep telling myself the correctives. All that said, I thought this was an insightful moment (it takes a while to get to the insightful moments of this book, but they do come), about what it is that haunts a lot of people in their thirties. It certainly resonates with me. This is the stuff that would keep me awake at night, if I didn’t know God and know his goodness and his sovereignty:
I guess you could see it as bitterness, if you wanted to. I don’t think of myself as bitter, but I have disappointed myself; I thought I was going to turn out to be worth a bit more than this, and maybe that disappointment comes out all wrong. It’s not just the work; it’s not just the thirty-five and single thing, although none of this helps. It’s … oh, I don’t know. Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself when you were a kid? Or pictures of famous people when they were kids? It seems to me that they can either make you happy or sad. There’s a lovely picture of Paul McCartney as a little boy, and the first time I saw it, it made me feel good: all that talent, all that money, all those years of blissed-out domesticity, a rock-solid marriage and lovely kids, and he doesn’t even know it yet. But then there are others — JFK and all the rock deaths and #@$&-ups, people who went mad, people who came off the rails, people who murdered, who made themselves or other people miserable in ways too numerous to mention — and you think, stop right there! This is as good as it gets!Reminds me a little of a song I really like: Disappointed, by the Frames.
Over the last couple of years, the photos of me when I was a kid, the ones that I never wanted old girlfriends to see … well, they’ve started to give me a little pang of something — not unhappiness, exactly, but some kind of quiet, deep regret. There’s one of me in a cowboy hat, pointing a gun at the camera, trying to look like a cowboy but failing, and I can hardly bring myself to look at it now. Laura thought it was sweet (she used that word! Sweet, the opposite of sour!) and pinned it up in the kitchen, but I’ve put it back in a drawer. I keep wanting to apologize to the little guy: ‘I’m sorry, I’ve let you down. I was the person who was supposed to look after you, but I blew it: I made some wrong decisions at bad times, and I turned you into me.’