In Defense of the Cad; 'Toxic Bachelor' Explains Rhyme, Reason Behind Men's Behavior

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 21, 2003 | Go to article overview

In Defense of the Cad; 'Toxic Bachelor' Explains Rhyme, Reason Behind Men's Behavior


Byline: Scott Galupo, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A week has passed since St. Valentine's Day, and some women already may have found out that their date - impeccably dressed, well-versed in wines, a sparkling conversationalist - is a cad.

Maybe it was a failure to return phone calls or some other cowardly letdown. Maybe he was forthright about his lack of serious expectations for a lasting relationship.

Either way, the cad's brushoff stings all the same.

Cad: (1) an omnibus conductor; (2) a man who acts with deliberate disregard for another's feeling or rights.

Apologies to the omnibus conductors inadvertently smeared by this definitional coincidence. It's (2) that concerns Rick Marin, whose new book, "Cad," was published last week by Hyperion Books.

Formerly a feature writer for the New York Times and Newsweek, Mr. Marin was a TV critic for The Washington Times from 1987 to 1991.

Part confessional memoir, part roman a clef, "Cad" follows Mr. Marin, a self-described "toxic bachelor," as he disentangles himself from a short-lived marriage and barnstorms his way through Manhattan's singles scene - sort of like a whistle-stop political campaign, except he is not after women's votes.

A compulsive dater, Mr. Marin wines, dines and beds a bevy of women, then offloads them like so many shares of Enron. But being a cad doesn't necessarily mean you still can't be a gentleman: He changed names and locations to protect the not-so-innocent.

Mr. Marin, 40, says he wrote "Cad" as a counterpoint to the feminine, hand-wringing culture of "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Sex in the City" - as "a view from the other side of the bed."

Valerie Frankel, former articles editor of Mademoiselle magazine, offers a word in defense of such "chick lit."

"Often there's a male character who is perfect and wonderful," she says, pointing out that Bridget Jones had a choice between a cad and a decent man and, as in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," she eventually realizes the difference between the two.

"Bridget Jones's Diary" may not dump unfairly on men, but neither does it explain how they think, as only a male writer could. "Cad" offers a view into a guy's decision-making process - all the sexual circuitry between the male id and neocortex.

Things are more complicated than women generally believe.

The "clean little secret" about men, Mr. Marin says, is that their wants and needs are just as nuanced as those of the fairer sex. "The difference is that we don't talk about what we want all the time," Mr. Marin, who is writing a movie version of "Cad" for Miramax, said in a telephone interview.

The digging, at least in the initial phase of a relationship, should not involve incessant phone-calling. "If the man is interested in her, he'll be happy to get three calls a day," Mr. Marin says. But if he is undecided, "it suggests to him that the woman has no life of her own. That's a turnoff. You want a woman who's got as much going on as you do."

Men naturally avoid conflict, he says. "Our passive-aggressive way of getting rid of women is not returning calls."

Of course, the phone-call blowoff means the man is the bad guy. But what's worse, Mr. Marin asks: not returning a call, or pretending to be interested and hurting a woman's feelings later?

He writes in "Cad": "Women blame men for acting fake. But women are the ones speeding from zero to intimacy like a Ferrari. Which is more artificial?

"I really think men get a bum rap for superficiality. Somehow, men became the villain in all of this."

"Every woman starts off a relationship with high hopes," says Miss Frankel, whose sixth novel, "The Accidental Virgin," is due out early next month from HarperCollins. …

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