Eden M. Kennedy

mission accomplished, pal

Eden M. Kennedy is the co-author (with Alice Bradley) of the book Let's Panic About Babies! (St. Martin's Press).

A former college-radio DJ, Mrs. Kennedy has driven cross-country six times in a 1973 Volkswagen Bug and enjoys standing on her head.

Currently she works a straight job and is just about finished writing her first novel.

Several million years ago, in one of many failed attempts to stay in school forever, I took a graduate seminar in Melville and Twain. It was a great excuse to read some hunkin' chunks'a nineteenth-century lit I'd have otherwise overlooked. Roughing It, and Moby Dick, and Typee: all honest-to-God page-turners that I thoroughly enjoyed.

It was a small class, maybe a dozen students, most of whom looked like they were on a fast track to a spare room in their mother's basement. The professor was a cardigan-sporting sixty-something who led tame discussions about theme and dénoument. While several of my bookstore coworkers at the time were downtown at NYU being held at knifepoint by Jacques Derrida and Julia Kristeva, I was up at Hunter College being asked to produce the intellectual equivalent of croched antimacassers. I felt that once again, despite my usual effort to be where it was at, my life was about as cutting-edge as long underwear.

One wet evening at the beginning of class, à propos of nothing I can recall, the professor mentioned a magazine ad she'd noticed that day, and asked us if we didn't agree that it was more of a "waste" for a man to be a model than a woman. Implying that a man ought to accomplish more with his life than get paid to be pretty, but don't we all feel perfectly comfortable when a woman trades on nothing more than her looks? I refused to link arms and march with her homosexist opinions, but I was pretty much alone in telling her so; I think a few people were actually taking notes in case this might be on the final exam.

So now it's two days ago and I'm looking at a NY Times fashion layout displaying a man on a runway wearing surf shorts and a green feathered headpiece, and I'm thinking, Dear professor whose name I've forgotten, how many choices does a man with legs that smooth have? Do you really think he'd be contributing more to the human race by delivering appliances? Sure, in another era he might have written epic poetry, or raped and pillaged his way through the middle east . . .

. . . but what can a twenty-first-century father expect from a beautiful son with a thick head of hair and a miserable expression? Should he take over the family pet store? Male models have dreams, too, you know!

If you really want to face your assumptions about men based on the way they look, go on over to Match.com and take their physical attraction test. Three hundred or so snap judgements later, you'll start to see some patterns in your thinking.

"Frat boy, would think I'm weird," and "Weird looking, would get too clingy," "Date rapist," etc. etc.

The point is, some beautiful men have brains . . .

. . . and some don't.

There are smart ugly guys and stupid plain guys and stupid handsome guys, and so what if a few of the pretty ones are smart enough to have figured out how to get paid for swishing around in designer skivvies? Does that make them less than men?

Well, kind of? Maybe sometimes, just a little bit.