Hello, 3.5 readers.
I’m a man. I have problems. Are you a woman? Yes, I know you also have problems. But I can only write about what I know.
There are some man problems I know all too well. There are other man problems I know nothing about.
On one side of the spectrum, there’s Don Draper of Mad Men fame (aka Jon Hamm).
Don has problems. He has more women than he knows what to do with. He cheats on all of them constantly and when one of them gets fed up, another soon arrives, fully aware of the cad’s ne’er-do-well-lifestyle but willing to give it a go anyway. Maybe she’ll be the one to change him.
In short, Don has some problems I wouldn’t mind having.
Don lives in a world I know nothing about. In fact, though I’ve never received the memo, I’m getting a sneaking suspicion that I most likely never will.
It’s a world where Don, as recently as Sunday’s final season premiere, walks into a diner, propositions a waitress, and within seconds they are engaging in flagrante delicto in a back alley.
Not for nothing, but I’m fairly certain had I tried to pull a stunt like that, I’d be tazed and pepper sprayed unmercifully.
Oh wait, it’s the 1960’s. She would have just cracked my skull with a rolling pin.
Don’s problems? Which one of these women do I go out with tonight? Which one of these women will I go out with and not tell the others about? Which one of these women that I used to go out with do I miss and want to see again? And how soon can I make another deal with my charm so I can grab some more money that I can use, naturally, to impress more women? Not that I need money to get women because, hey, look at me, but the extra cash doesn’t hurt.
Of course, Don is full of inner turmoil. He had a harsh childhood. He grew up poor – an unwanted urchin in a house of ill repute. When he becomes an adult, he hits it big, gets a taste of the good life and he becomes trapped in a paradox – life is short so he feels the urge to drink and get busy as often as possible. However, deep in his soul he realizes that no amount of cavorting can replace the love and stability of a loyal woman and along the way, he loses two wives to his bad habits.
I’m just going to throw it out there. Toss me January Jones and I’m a happy camper. Sorry everyone, no carousing for me. I have to get home to January.
Yep. Mad Men would be very boring if I were the star.
Don has problems. I’ll never know any of them. Stop being so depressed Don. Trade lives me with anytime.
At the other side of the man-a-verse spectrum is…”Louis Louis Louis Louis.” (You have to sing the theme song.)
Oh Louis. I know many of your problems so well. Not all of them, but many. I truly feel your pain.
Louis, when I see the expression of utter defeat on your mug, I can feel your misery, because I make the same face a hundred times a day. It looks like this:
Do you know what that look is called? It is the “I’m trying as hard as I can and nothing is going my way!” look. Defeat. Surrender. “OK world. You got me.”
Poor Louis. All he wants is to be happy and yet that long sought after emotion evades him at every turn.
And contrary to what everyone in his world thinks, it’s not for a lack of trying.
Don Draper? Sure, he feels the occasional pang of sadness when he misses his kids, but he quickly dulls the pain with the next short skirted secretary to walk by.
Louis? He loves his kids. He wants to do right by them. He only sees them a couple days a week and you can tell that weighs on him terribly – that the collapse of his marriage and the subsequent inability to not be with his children daily is a failure that haunts and suffocates him. He holds the time he has with them sacred and doesn’t let anything interfere.
Love? Louis wants to find it. Do you remember Seinfeld? That other show about a comedian? Jerry had a bevy of beauties, a new one to be mocked or offended by Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer every week.
For the most part, Louis dates average women. He doesn’t shoot for the stars. You can’t accuse the guy of swinging for the fences because he’s staying in his league. And yet, things inevitably go south for him anyway.
He takes a woman to a diner. A group of unruly teenagers harass and threaten him. Louis does the right thing – he lets it go. Are insults worth getting in a physical fight over? No. But his date thinks less of him and won’t see him again. It isn’t easy being a man. Even in today’s allegedly equal, liberated, forward thinking world, a man who turns the other cheek in the face of a threat is considered a wuss.
On another date, a potential love interest informs Louis that she has children. Stand-up guy that he is, Louis tells her not to worry – he also has kids. Quickly, the woman turns sour and skeedaddles. She wanted a man who would be accepting of her children but in an ironic twist, thought less of a man with kids of his own.
There’s Pam, who constantly harangues Louis with one putdown after another. She dumps him and later tries to come back, fully expecting that Louis will welcome her with open arms. She’s shocked to learn he’s in a relationship with Amia, as if the idea that ugly old Louis found someone else is impossible to believe.
Speaking of Amia, she’s Louis’ perfect soulmate but of course, she has to move back to her native Hungary.
Sure, occasionally a hot woman will show an interest in Louis, but even then, it doesn’t end well. A supermodel-esque blonde in attendance at one of Louis’ shows invites the comedian back to her place. In a freak accident, Louis unintentionally elbows her in the eye, causing her permanent damage and a hefty lawsuit that he can ill afford.
Luck is not on Louis’ side. Have you ever heard the expression, “Anything bad that can happen will, and at the worst possible moment?” That’s Louis’ life and I have more in common with a man like Louis than I ever will with Don “I wonder which model I’ll get jiggy with today” Draper.
Thought of as a loser by his ex-wife, a dufus by his kids, and a real mensch by his friends – Louis is that reliable guy that everyone instantly calls when they need help, but the favor is rarely returned when he needs something. Worse, no matter how far out of his way he goes for people, they still end up looking at him like a chump.
Bald. Paunchy. Not very good looking at all. Louis is the champion of defeated males everywhere – those who have resigned themselves to a fate where’d they’d be happy if a woman smiles at them. “Well life, how much crap are you going to spoon feed me today? Whatever. Bring it on. I’m ready for it.”
We Louis types are in awe of a Don Draper and fail to even comprehend how his lifestyle even exists.
We live on the same planet and yet, Louis CKs and Don Drapers live in completely different worlds.
So, what are you? A Don Draper or a Louis CK?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that since you’re reading a book blog with 3.5 readers, you probably trend more toward Louis.
Don’t be insulted. So do most men, even though we hate to admit it.