Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lad Theory

Last Saturday, I was drawn into a random conversation with strangers at a friend's birthday party. I listened to a guy, mid-thirties, make generalizations about sex and love and make indirect asides about his ex-fiancee and his friends -- and then I piped up, "Oh, isn't this just ladder theory or Harry Met Sally stuff?" It didn't phase him -- he just said no, it was his own theory, and a good one, about how men can't be friends with women whom they're attracted to.

Like your eighteen-year-old cousin who makes up "quotes" that are actually misremembered lines from old Modest Mouse tunes, I find a certain type of guy tends to regurgitate the Ladder Theory, whether they've read it or heard it recycled in fraternity discussions or actually tapped into that original vein of nice-guy-resentment from which the theory springs. Guys are simple! they'll have sex with anyone. Girls are impossible! they have two ladders: guys they'll sleep with and guys they won't. The theory recycles familiar tropes like the "friend zone" and the "nice guy" -- though here they're given ever-affectionate terms like "abyss" and "intellectual whore."