All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

How to Date American Guys: A User's Guide

The footloose Citizen of the World faces many confounding conundrums when circumnavigating the globe and delving into other cultures. Among the most famous are the language barriers, the variances in decorum, and of course, the gender politics.

Of the many grooves I had to get back into when I returned to the States, the groove of American guys was one of the trickiest. They aren't like all the Australians I'd been bumming about with or the Brit I'd been dating, and they certainly weren't like the Japanese guys I was constantly surrounded by at work and at home.

You see, Australian guys are incredibly easy to get along with. The secret is playing along with whatever harebrained schemes they concoct. They want to go drink and smoke pot down by the river like vagabonds? Great idea! They want to spend the first half of a night watching Bruce Lee flicks and the second half kung fu-ing each other’s asses? Wonderful! They want to freak out Japanese people by jogging up the “down” escalators? Brilliant! They want to run blindly through rows of speeding cars? Well, what are we waiting for?!

All an Australian really wants to know is that you’re down with his shenanigans and that he can be himself without fear of criticism from you. As an added bonus, hanging with Aussies will release your own inhibitions as well. You’ll probably find you rather enjoy running through traffic.

Aussie D getting stabbed by one of his mates in a bar. "There's always shenanigans."

A Brit is a more complicated animal. For a British guy – especially a well-educated, cultured British guy – wit is like currency. If you don’t appreciate life's little ironies, you might as well expect him to buy you diamonds with his belly button lint. You are doomed before you've even begun. However, if you are blessed with a natural knack for the drier brand of banter, you’ll probably find that most British guys are f*cking hilarious (or "focking hilarious" if they're from the north of England). All you need do to encourage them is throw a clever quip back, and you’ll be getting on like a proverbial house on fire in no time.

The only advice I've ever gotten about dating Japanese guys is: "Don't date Japanese guys." Students used to tell me this pretty frequently, but even on this side of the pond, I still hear it. Just a few days ago, I was talking to my friend K-ko about her sarari man husband, and she shook her and said, "Never marry a Japanese man." This seems a bit harsh, but the problem with Japanese husbands is that between the long hours they put in at work and the long nights they put in at the izakaya, you never actually see them. It's sort of how I imagine dating a ninja would be, but with less stealth and more abandonment issues.

Before I moved to Japan, I'd only really dated two guys: a soldier and a musician. The Soldier was an idiot and The Musician, like most musicians, was married to The Band. Dating a musician is easy. Simply acknowledge the supremacy of The Band. All things revolve around said Band, at least in so far as The Band or its members don't infringe on the blessed sanctity of The Music, from which all hope and happiness doth spring.

I was under the näive impression that this was particular to my American Musician, but having recently seen the film "Once", I realize it's actually true of musicians worldwide. The scenes at the recording studio gave me particularly strong déjà vu with just a hint of nostalgia.

"Once" is my recommended film of the month, by the way. Here's a little taste:

The first date that I went on after returning from Japan was with a guy called Mike. I consider Mike an "average" American, so he makes a good case study for our purposes here. Mike is typical of many American guys in the following ways:

  1. He has been out of the country a handful of times and considers himself "well-traveled," even though all the places he's been are tourist traps and he was completely hammered or a mile high 93% of the time he was there.

  2. He has an unhealthy obsession with the NFL. He has long ago passed out of the realm of Team Spirit and into the kingdom of Rabid Fanaticism, where Peyton Manning reigns supreme and pisses Bud Lite down onto the fawning masses. (I don't really like football, by the way.)

  3. He is NOT funny. The jokes he tells aren't funny. The movies he watches aren't funny. The only thing funny about him is the way he constantly nods like a bobble-head doll, and that is the bad kind of funny. The bobble-head thing is unique to Mike, but the un-funnyness is like a plague in American guys.

  4. He speaks in The Tone. This is not a characteristic of most American guys, but it's reasonably common. The Tone is that particular voice used by people who think they are smarter than you. Now, I've never been stupid, so I don't know how it feels to be spoken to this way by someone who's actually smarter than I am. Maybe it doesn't bother stupid people. I can tell you that it bothers smart people a lot. What's more, it's normally accompanied by a quarrelsome streak a mile wide. That amounts to a guy spewing the most ignorant, close-minded rubbish you've ever heard, then insisting he's merely playing the "Devil's Advocate" and telling you that you need a better sense of humor. Ha!

In short, Mike is kind of a douchebag.


After one dinner with Mike, I was ready to pack my bags and leave the country again. Then I met MJ.

He was a different type of American guy.

MJ was a Roles-Royce of a boyfriend. He looked like a rock star all the time, he had top-shelf taste in everything from films to footwear, and there was an actual orchestra playing in my head every time he kissed me. Okay, sometimes just a string quartet, but still, impressive. He was also intelligent and interesting to talk to. When we met, he'd just returned from backpacking in Europe, and we spent our first several hours together pouring over photographs.

Mazda Concept

Of course, he was not without his quirks. He was physically incapable of showering in fewer than forty-five minutes. Most men I know shower, shave, and dress in under fifteen, so at first I was a bit put off by MJ's uncommonly involved grooming rituals. Then he stepped out of the shower, and I realized: some things are worth waiting for.

But MJ's most dominant quirk by far was his profound and unfettered love of cars. While this love manifest itself primarily in the care and keeping of his own car, it also extended into anything else with wheels and an engine. Especially anything shiny with wheels and an engine. On one occasion, he took me on a "date" to the NAIAS, and he spent about five hours explaining to me how the whole evolution of mankind has come to glorious fruition in the flawless machine that is the automobile. I'm not much of a car person myself, so I was pretty skeptical going in, but as you can see from the photos, the whole show is designed to make cars look as sexy as possible. Combine that with MJ's impassioned commentary, and it ended up being a pretty memorable day after all.

Saab Aero X

After MJ moved to LA, I spent time with several different American guys and began to pick up on certain patterns among them. Douchebags of the Mikean variety often give them a bad rap, but I've found that on the whole, American guys are pretty cool. They're fairly laid back and easy to get along with, though you may occasionally find yourself suckered into watching "Dances with Wolves" or a Nicholas Cage movie. Generally, they seem to drink less -- not less often, but in smaller quantities -- leading to the delightful change of having a date who's coherent when you get home from the bar/club/concert/auto exhibition.

The key to an American guy is finding the One Thing in his life that he cares about more than anything else. If it's something you hate (football, for example), then kiss him on the head and walk away because otherwise you'll spend the rest of your relationship arguing with him about it. He is just not the guy for you. However, if his One Thing is something you like or something you could learn to like (perhaps cars), then make his day by asking him about it. Watch in amazement as he lights up like the Hindenburg. You'll soon discover that while they may seem low-key, American guys are intense, wildly passionate, and once settled into something they care about, deeply devoted to its pursuit.


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Anonymous said...

lol, so true! i especially like the bit about aussies! :-)

T said...

I think I went to college with "Mike"

kate said...

ha! i think i married "Mike"!

G said...

hmm... my condolences, kate.

Booyah! said...

true, true.. especially the bit about musicians being married to "the band"

neverbelieve said...

There is far too much truth in your paragraph about us British men.

Nerdy_Dancer said...

I think you are right about the aussies.. :)

Anonymous said...

Should you want to date a Japanese man anyway: be passive aggressive lol.
Find one who's more globally interested in an international pub and simply bet your eyes and smile at him till you think your face it going to stay that way forever. Worked for me :)

Anonymous said...

good write up, think i'll stay away from american guys and i live in the US, the're kinda weird if u ask me.

How to Date Asian Girls said...

Wow, I am an American guy, and i have to say, you really hit the nail on the head with A LOT of these.

I hope I don't have "the tone" but i also feel like a might!

hahaha have to be more aware fo that in the future I supposed.

Anyways good write up! kudos to you

Aude said...

Wow! You're so lucky with American, Aussi and/or Japanese men: dating a Dutch man is an absolute horror story compared to your experiences. Dutch men are too aloof and self-absorbed to even flirt and make witty comments. They also are really tight about money. All the cliches about "going Dutch" are true! Furthermore they tend to either look down on women or fear their intelligence so much that they prefer to spend an evening getting absolutely hammered with their male-friends or "bro-mances". Too make a long story short: I would love to escape these boring Dutch toddlers (the average Dutch guy doesn't grow up until he's in his forties) and meet a nice, intense, passionate American or mysterious Japanese guy for that matter. Anything better than the "living dead" I'm stuck with here in Amsterdam.