Friday night, my Bunco group met. Yes, yes, very suburban yuppie of me. It’s an interesting group of women from the neighborhood. We meet monthly and spend the evening playing the game while gossiping and eating and drinking. All but one are homeowners, and all but one (a different one) are married with children. Naturally, the other single girl and I gravitate towards each other.
She’s older than me – 32 – with about four years of homeownership under her belt. She’s been with her guy for nearly twelve years and thinks she may be nearing an ultimatum. We started talking about our reasons for buying alone and discovered we shared the same philosophy. When she bought, she had been with her boyfriend for seven or eight years and thought it was silly to keep renting when she could be building equity. She also wanted to prove to herself that she could do it without needing help from anyone else – my sentiments and motivations exactly. She didn’t need to wait for her Prince Charming to rescue her and carry her off to adulthood and a mortgage. If her relationship works out and they do get married, she already has a leg up and has built some equity, regardless of where they end up living. If they break up – well, she’d still have her home and everything that’s gone into it. As she said, he hasn’t shown any impetus to make a permanent commitment to her and to their relationship, so she has to take care of herself, first and foremost.
Which brought us to Juno. My Bunco buddy said her boyfriend is like the Mark character – a man who doesn’t really want to grow up. Sure, he’s older than her with a teenage son from a previous marriage – but he doesn’t see a push to marry. I hadn’t yet seen the movie but keep hearing and reading about it. After our conversation, I went out to the movies last night. Among the crowd were several other women on their own, plus a couple couples snickering in the back rows. (It was strange to hear the grownups laughing at such bawdy, witty lines – until I realized that I’m one of the grownups now. Sheesh.)
But my friend is right, as is Kathryn Jean Lopez. In National Review, Lopez relates Juno to Leonard Sax’s book, Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men. Lopez notes:
Mark Loring reminds me of a letter in Sax’s book from a woman named Sarah. She says her husband is stuck on Xbox, and while she loves him and so will tolerate a certain amount of his lack of motivation to grow up, she is “constantly haunted” by something he said: “He said that I might need to lower my expectations in life because he didn’t know whether he could provide them for me. What I find funny now is that I’m the real provider. I don’t feel like I’m part of a team. It’s wearing on me.”
I hear the same thing from many, many, many women my age. Why should men grow up when no one really expects them to?
Which begs the question, Are we waiting for Prince Charming to save us? Or do we need to save Prince Charming?