25 percent desirability gap is significant
Editor’s note: “This story from Dr. Madjar’s upcoming book, “Take Love Twice Daily–Tales, Essays and Love Poems.”
Six months after I had lost the bet to Ed, I met him in a cafe in downtown Marquette. Ed wore an expression of doom and gloom.
“What happened to you, Ed?” I asked. Ed wore a beret and looked like a Parisian artist on a rainy day. It was summer outside, though, and not a cloud in the sky.
“I worry too much, Doc,” he said, “and more than anything, it is the 25%-more-desirable theory that steals my sleep.”
“How can a theory be 25% more desirable?” I asked.
“It isn’t the theory that is more desirable,” Ed said, “it is that scientists found that men and women pursue mates who are 25% more desirable than themselves. It was in the news, didn’t you hear?”
“And how is this a problem for you, Ed?”
“I did the math, Doc, and here is how it works: If Susan is 25% more desirable than I am–and she is–and if she is pursuing men who are 25% more attractive than herself, that leaves a gap of 50% between how attractive I am and the man of her dreams. It is a gap that is hard to bridge.”
I told Ed: “I heard this theory before, at least a version of it. It wasn’t from a scientist that I heard it, but the mother of a girl I dated. The mother wanted me to marry the daughter. There was some urgency and pressure, even desperation in the air that hovered above the kitchen table–heavy like an ominous cloud–to marry the daughter immediately, that is. And as a measure of convincing the groom, myself, the mother said to both of us, and I remember this clearly, that for a good marriage, a man needs to be just a bit more handsome than a monkey. I suppose she thought her daughter was 25% more desirable than I was and that this would be the key to a long, successful marriage.”
“Did you guys marry, Doc?”
“No,” I said, “I thought she was exactly as attractive as I was, and that we were both much more desirable than the average monkey, and besides, I wanted a girl who was more attractive than me, by exactly 25%.” Ed and I burst into laughter, shaking the wooden floor with out feet. I could hear the liquor bottles clinking against each other on the shelves of the cafe.
It was time for me to return home to my 25% more attractive wife, but I wanted to help Ed, so I promised I would read the article and perhaps come up with a solution that might bring calm and peace to his heart. On my way home, I walked along Third street, then took Washington street all the way down the hill to the lake shore, and I continued north along the shore. The lake was calm, and the sky was bright and intense; and crows which seemed to be talking among themselves, consoling each other, about love lost. And all that time I thought about Ed and his quest for love. I thought about the men and women I know, most of whom pursue partners who resemble themselves. And I thought about those who see love as a competition in which there are winners–the popular kid in high school, the handsome celebrity, the beautiful actress–who play a part in the desires and fantasies of everyone. Doesn’t that lead to the same exact result, I asked myself, where the most desirable pair-off with one another, followed by the next most desirable and so on, and everyone ends up with someone like themselves?
I thought: What if we could be objectively ranked according to our place in the hierarchy of desirability? I imagined Ed and Susan opening each their own letter with their desirability results. Suppose they are equal on the desirability scale, say both at the 78th percentile. And what if Susan is indeed 25% more attractive than Ed?
Would you wish to know your desirability ranking? Wouldn’t it make life much simpler, the game of matching clearer, and less painful? I shall return.
Editor’s note: Dr. Conway McLean is a physician practicing foot and ankle medicine in the Upper Peninsula, with a move of his Marquette office to the downtown area. McLean has lectured internationally on wound care and surgery, being double board certified in surgery, and also in wound care. He has a sub-specialty in foot-ankle orthotics. Dr. McLean welcomes questions or comments firstname.lastname@example.org.