I (Heart) Alex Ubago

I (Heart) Alex Ubago

I look intently at his CD cover with his doleful eyes and sorrowful, take-care-of-me expression staring back at me before handing it back over to Christa.

"He looks like a faggot," I inform her.

"No he is not!" she thunders back, snatching the CD from my hand and cradling it like it’s a young, wounded animal. Her lips purse and her eyes roll. "You just don’t understand."

"I understand plenty," I tell her. "Do you know how many women have swooned over someone really good-looking only to discover he’s gay? This guy" -- and I jabbed a finger at the CD -- "screams pillow biter."

Such as it is in all my conversations with women about why the Sensitive Guy is such a big deal for them. Christa loved this dude, Alex Ubago, a Spaniard who made her fall in love with him just by that damn photo on his album cover. After telling me how wrong I was, I had to listen to the entire CD, occasionally turning to a Spanish dictionary to make sense of the lyrics. Nice beat, easy pop hook, decent voice, but I couldn’t figure out what enraptured her so much.

But that’s always my luck in trying to figure out what women look for in a man. "He looks so sweet," she would inform me, "and the lyrics to his music just shows how much he cares about life and feelings."

"There’s more to life than feelings," I told her. "There’s the ability to pee standing up. I bet he squats."

This induces more eye-rolling from her. "This is why you’re still single," she duly informs me. "You just don’t get it."

Well, that I freely admit. I have no idea after all this time what attracts a woman to man; it’s an inscrutable mystery that I’ve determined to figure out because I can’t get any woman to ask me for my phone number or look at me when I enter a room and give me the once over. Usually if a woman looks at me, she hoping there’s a better looking man right behind me.

Christa, whom I’ve known for over ten years, always tell me that women like a man who’s sensitive but also has a lot of confidence. This is one of those paradoxes that I don’t pretend to understand. "Sensitive men aren’t confident," I argued with her. "That’s like asking for a man who’s tall but also a little short. It’s mutually exclusive."

At this point, I get the slight shaking of the head that move her dark curls gently. "If you used your powers of observing womens’ tits with such intensity for something better, you’d see how it’s not exclusive at all," she dryly tells me. "Confidence does not mean arrogance. A man can be confident, but he can also be sensitive to things around him, not how good he looks or how he’s about to score. And, contrary to your malformed opinion, sensitive does not mean weakness." And before I could say anything, she quickly added, "And weakness is also something that can be attractive about someone. Like when they realize they’ve hit their limits."

"You mean like asking for directions?"

"You see, this is the central problem with television!" she thunders. "You’ve got your head full of cheap, lazy marketing ideas about how men and women act. That’s not real life."

"Well, neither is this dude’s image!" I counter, using my entire right hand to do the air jabbing this time.

"Of course it’s not," she replies. "It’s a fantasy, it’s just packaging, and it works, but that doesn’t mean that the packaging can’t relate in some way to real life, in constrast to the tired jokes about all men loving sports, cars or not asking for directions. But a guy like this" --- and she casually waves the CD --- "offers a glimpse of what can be very attractive about a man. If it were just a picture, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But there’s the music and the lyrics. They’re nice and wasy to digest but they’re incredibly romantic because the guy can express himself without being overly sensitive. That’s very appealing to a woman."

Great, just what I fucking need, to somehow conjure up even more intangibles that can attract a woman. So it’s not just the broad chest, big arms or wavy hair (none of which I have) but now I have to able to write songs or automatically know just what to say and when. I found it funny that she would criticize me for appealing to images when she was dealing in the same terms.

I’ve become convinced that hooking up with someone is just a question of pure luck for me. I’ve gone to parties and other social gatherings only to just feel a stamp placed on my head when I enter the room: PART OF THE BACKGROUND. I’ve often tried to effect a presence, only to look like I had eaten something bad. I’ve worked out enough but can’t make a dent against what my parents dealt me when I was conceived. I’d buy into the confidence thing very easily if I could just figure out where they bottle it so I could buy a couple ounces: it’s something that you have or not.

So when I told Christa all this, she just smiled at me and said, "Rob, you are your best when you’re not aware of it at all. If you know who you are rather than wondering about it, that’s confidence right there. That’s sensitivity. That’s what’s attractive."

God, I hope she’s right.