Last night, I invited my friends Tamara and Jenny over for dinner, wine and gossip. Tamara whipped up a hearty chicken stew, Jenny brought a tasty Greek salad and I made hot apple crisp.
We sat around the table and tucked into the delicious feast spread before us. As the evening wore on, the German wine loosened our tongues and turned the conversation away from work towards, well, more x-rated material.
But our most heated discussion centered on one topic – Vancouver men.
"The men here aren’t men, they’re boys," moaned Tamara.
Vancouver men are generally a passive, asexual, wimpy and unstylish lot. The only good men in this city are either gay or have already been snapped up by some lucky girl. This is Vancouver’s dirty little secret. They don’t tell you this when you move here.
Oh sure, from a distance it seems like the land of milk and honey. When the David Suzuki Foundation flew me out from New Brunswick for a job interview in 2000, I was dizzy from the sight of all the healthy, attractive, young guys jogging around the seawall, reading books at Chapters and parading up and down Robson Street dressed in Prada.
Almost five years later, not one of those guys has asked me out. Although many guys in Vancouver have asked me out, not one of them was actually from Vancouver. There was Octavian from Romania, Phil from Denver, Steve from Toronto, Andrew from Ontario and James from England. Not one single Vancouver boy in the group.
I can say with absolute certainty that it’s not me, it’s them. The fact that I swim on a gay swim team and live in the West End has nothing to do with my abysmal track record. I have lived in Toronto, Ottawa, London, Saint John and Fredericton. If they think you’re remotely attractive or interesting, guys in those cities will crawl over broken glass to approach you.
Every year, I go back to Toronto for two weeks at Christmas. And every year, I get hit on more times in those two weeks than I have all year in Vancouver. It’s depressing.
I am not alone. My friend Jenny moved back to Vancouver in June after two years working in Bosnia and Macedonia for the UN. This is a girl who attended the University of Victoria in the politically correct 1990s. For four years, she was surrounded by fleece-wearing, grunge-listening, beer-drinking, guitar-playing, pajama-bottom-wearing men.
So when she arrived in Bosnia, she was shocked at how "male" the men were. They opened doors for her, protected her as she crossed the street, and respected their wives and daughters.
"It’s chivalry to the extreme," she said. "The men were burly, hairy and angry. They drank a lot and smoked a lot."
Upon her return to Vancouver, the first thing she noticed was how badly the guys here were dressed and how disinterested they seemed in the opposite sex.
I’m not saying I want a man to drag me around by the hair but I do want someone with a strong personality, a backbone, confidence, ambition and a sense of humour. Maybe on a subconscious level, I’m looking for someone like my father. Someone who is decisive, takes control, is dependable through and through, and makes his wife and his children the center of his universe. Even better, he never takes himself seriously. My mom always says she married my dad for his sense of humor. But she met him in Toronto, not Vancouver.
Tamara has found her Vancouver man. Konrad is a transplant from Poland. He’s everything that Vancouver men are not. He’s goofy and silly with a quiet confidence. He’s a rugged outdoors guy who has climbed hundreds of mountains, but unlike Vancouver guys, doesn’t feel he has to brag about it. He has a great job and lots of ambition.
"European men are just more manly," said Tamara, who has also dated a Norwegian lumberjack and a German fighter pilot.
I’m not saying all Vancouver guys are wimps. In fact, I’d like nothing better than to be proven wrong. Make eye contact with us. Talk to us at the grocery store, Starbucks or a bar. Be assertive. Hold the door open once and a while. Ditch the fleece and stop wearing socks with sandals. Compliment us. Ask us out. And to all the Vancouver women out there, you’re welcome.