Vegas. An adult playground of debauchery and denigration.
While this city is notorious for the opposite of honesty, sometimes the enchanted atmosphere encourages just that. Between the strange hours and excessive drinking, people show true colors that they wouldn’t otherwise. As a spectator, this has some pros and cons.
Scene: Late evening. A poker table at the Aria. I sat with a man-friend, the conspicuous lone female in an otherwise diverse collection of night owls.
The game had been going along amicably for nearly an hour when one of the players, a rowdy, ~35 year old New Yorker, started to get restless. He glanced around the poker room (full of men) and the casino floor just beyond a low wall partition (full of women), then decided to “holler at” a group of attractive girls walking past. His pick-up was along the uncreative lines of, “Hey, where you girls going? Come over here and have a drink!”
Everyone at the table paused to watch the ruckus, but the girls were unresponsive — they carried on their merry way without a sideways glance. It’s possible this wasn’t overt rejection. Maybe they had somewhere to be, or didn’t hear him. Still, when the herd of twenty-somethings left Mr. NY with nothing but echoes and a half empty G&T, he was not pleased.
In a more dignified city, he might have laughed it off. In Vegas, however, fella went for the gold. After a slew of curse words, he began rant about the doomed future every one of those girls, because women were (and I quote), “A depreciating asset.”
At this point, the ranter turned begrudgingly in my direction and muttered, “I mean, no offense.” My friend, always the gentleman, gave me an eyebrows raised nudge to see if he would be called into action, but the accusation was barely worth a smirk and a “None taken.” The other men showed a mix of amusement and contemplation, and let the rant go on like it was an Angry NY Guy original. I suspect, however, that some were pondering the same question as me:
Why did this all sound so…familiar?
Well, likely because we’ve heard it before. A controversial Craigslist legend started when an “enterprising” and “spectacularly beautiful” 25-year-old woman sought the advice of other posters about meeting men who made $500K+. Her ambition was grossly transparent: Marry a rich guy. Period. Along with some irate responses, one man took it upon himself to break down her proposal in economic terms. He explained that a woman’s looks would degrade over time, while a man’s income was likely to grow, therefore it would be bad business to “buy” aka marry her. Questionable interchange between dating and economic theory aside, the response was clever. The responder put the young woman in place, and showed her exactly what such a “deal” would look like from the other side.
Now, back to Angry NY Guy. He (and other men who cite the depreciating asset logic) completely missed the critical theme of the post: It addresses looks alone, not women as people. In the original query, the “Enterprising” 25-year-old represents her primary attribute as attractiveness, and clearly expects that is the key to marrying rich. The respondent points out how THAT exchange would be flawed, if it were strictly Beauty <–> Money. He doesn’t say that women are depreciating assets as wives or girlfriends. He merely counters that bringing looks to the table is not enough, and a man wouldn’t be well served by marrying her just because she’s hot at 25. (I like it when he suggests that the young woman “find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn’t need to have this difficult conversation” — Amen, brother.)
Knowing nothing about the women who walked past, Angry NY quoted the respondent but was on the path of Enterprising — he was interested in their looks alone, just as Enterprising was only interested in a man’s income.
Re-reading the 2007 Craigslist posts, today I wonder why they generated such controversy. The 25-year-old sounds like an unpleasant human being, and the respondent sounds like someone who was poking fun at her. It wasn’t really anything worthy of NY Magazine or CNBC.
Perhaps they strike a chord because we (men and women alike) fear that the exchange represents unsugar-coated honesty from the opposite sex. Men worry that women pursue them for what’s in their wallets, and women worry that they’ll be seen as aesthetically pleasing sex objects and nothing more. Indeed, we can’t ignore that these things “work” — Making a lot of money will attract women (just ask D. Trump), and being hot will attract men (just ask his wife/wives). To varying degrees, we act accordingly — Picking a career based on earnings, hitting the gym like you’ve got nothing but time. We do it to be more attractive to the opposite sex, though, not because it represents our value as people.
What Angry NY and Enterprising miss is that being hot or rich isn’t all. It’s not even close. Neither will substitute for other endearing personal traits, and I’d imagine a lot of women would rather live in a cardboard box than marry the Trump (not that he’s asked, that bastard). I can’t speak for mega-rich guys, but it seems they don’t marry for looks alone, either (e.g. Sergey Brin’s wife – an intelligent, interesting woman, but certainly no supermodel).
So, message to Angry NY, if we never meet again: Looks fade and income can be cut off like a faucet, but feel free to keep hollering. Maybe some Enterprising young woman will hear you.
Oscar Wilde – “I like men who have a future and women who have a past.”