On Planet XX, a single suggestion delivered in a commercial can provoke a fit, fun and attractive woman into suddenly wondering if people think her teeth aren’t white enough. Man secret: Men don’t waste a second worrying about this stuff.
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I just don’t get it. I know plenty of women, and they’re not like this either. The women I know have plenty to worry about, sure. They can’t afford their apartments. They don’t know how much to trust their boyfriends. They don’t know how they’re going to get ahead when the big dogs at work all wear suits and ties. But if any of them are watching daytime TV for a little escapism, all they have to do is wait for the commercials, and life turns ugly again, fast.
And I can only wonder what these ads make them think about men. Because there are barely any of them in these drama filled half-minutes—at least not many I recognize. Sure, there are the devastatingly handsome but utterly silent studs who sweep women off their feet at the end of makeup ads. (I’m sure they’re all stupid and vain in real life. So there.) And now and then you see a man in the background doing man things, like rewiring the kitchen or organizing his fishing tackle, even if half the time he’s an adorable fool who routes the plumbing through the light socket. But mostly, the dudes in these commercials don’t do anything: They’re acted upon.
Don’t get me wrong—Planet XY may not insult its audience as much as Planet XX, but in its own way, it’s just as unrealistic. Which got me wondering if there was anyone out there selling stuff on TV without scaring women or humoring men.
And one Saturday, looking for a baseball game, I found it—an oasis of happiness in between the golf and tennis programs of afternoon network sports. There, couples walked together on the beach, content and peaceful. They drove through the woods, at reasonable speeds, smiling wordlessly at each other. They looked like the sort of men and women who had survived all sorts of ups and downs and were still in love.
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What’s the secret to their contentment? They’re retired. They’re pitching retirement accounts and safe cars and expensive anniversary jewelry. And they’re all old enough to be my parents.
So there’s hope.