INTRODUCTION TO 2012 EDITION
Nobody knows the boys better than I do, being one myself. The ironic fact is that I wasn't supposed to be a boy, as my esteemed parents told me later that they would have preferred a girl. As it turned out, I was kind of like a girl in a lot of ways, although a tomboy and future lesbian sort of girl, meanwhile blessed with the gift of a boy's body and a male presence.
But gifts, however, can also be trouble, as you shall see in the following narrative. It's made for an unusual and somewhat solitary take on life -- this appreciation for the characteristics of both genders. The fact is that boys and girls would probably be a lot better off if they knew more about what the other was thinking. Girls especially are in the dark about who boys are and what they think. Girls think they know but they don't. They never really seem to grasp how genuinely submissive the best boys are, how willing and eager to be led.
In return, boys need to have their sexuality managed, guided, and directed. Bright men particularly require frequent orgasms, and the more inventively achieved, the better. John F. Kennedy comes to mind as the classic example.
The wise woman will therefore supply her man with what the writer Elise Sutton calls Loving Female Authority, which is an apt term for the phenomenon of a wife-led marriage. In her columns, Sutton outlines techniques for soaring male climaxes as well as strict, appropriate male discipline.
Which circles us back to the basic problem.
From the diary of Bridget Jones to the columns of Candace Bushnell to the internal monologues of Anastasia Steele, we have lately learned much about how contemporary women view sex, romance, themselves, and the opposite gender.
It may be in some instances that we know altogether too much, for feminine authors are not shy about expressing their opinions at length about males in books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, movies, television, the internet, or just over the back fence. Their obsession with romance is also well known.
What we very rarely hear expressed is how men feel about women, for men as a gender are rather reticent when it comes to matters of emotion. They don't talk much about their romantic feelings, either to each other or, perish forbid, to women. Why this occurs appears to lie in the fact that men are on the whole astonishingly inarticulate about their own feelings.
If they do try to say something about how they feel, it often comes out wrong, or misses that level of nuance that distinguishes sincere emotion from pretense.
One way or another, they can't get it right.
The narrator of this novel is an exception.
A novice writer, Patrick Compton boldly takes the plunge, describing, in colloquial terms, his feelings for the women of his time -- their looks, habits, attitudes, behaviors, sexuality, and personal capabilities.
The statements Pat crafts prove that one man was willing to provide an honest opinion during the time period covered, from 1977-1979, if only to himself. The years were, as the Chinese curse goes, "interesting" to say the least.
The broad outlines of a society that was to emerge are here examined in ways that I've seen nowhere else described.
And the most remarkable thing is that I was the person doing it. I won't deny that the source of the ensuing novel is based on my own journals, with some small embellishments. I'm seeing my own warts here for the most part, and it's unnerving.
Still, could there be any subject in literature more compelling than the relationships between women and men? I think not. In our narrator's circle, the young women are fishers of men.
By the time he starts writing, Patrick has been around enough to know that sex is a lure with a barbed hook at the center. Like most young men, he is willing to snatch the bait without taking the hook, if he can. Not very often can he, and when he tries, there are usually unpleasant consequences.
But he is also mature enough to know that a life lived alone is an inferior experience and he is therefore not totally averse to getting hooked, as long as it is by the right tackle and with the right angler at the other end of the line. Can he do it? That is the question, which hangs in the balance.
The memory is faulty and tends to play tricks. Words written as an event occurs or in its immediate aftermath are considered factual enough to be admissible in court.
For the sake of privacy and for purposes of art, I've altered many of the real names, places, characters, circumstances, and individual situations in this book. Otherwise, it stands as a true chronicle of the period. What else can I say?
The essence of the novel is the contrast between how young women appear to young men in reality, particularly one young man, as opposed to the romantic fantasies women entertain about themselves.
The obvious question: Could I have ever actually been this guy? The answer, fortunately and unfortunately, is yes.
On the other hand, our Mr. Compton's views, from raunchy to exalted, are not that unique nor are they out of the bounds of common experience. As the story unfolds, we are treated to an unvarnished look at the young people of a certain generation, now much older, and soon to be gone forever.
Nothing fundamental ever really changes between the sexes, because at a certain level, we are what nature dictates. Males seek to maximize their sexual opportunities, meanwhile taking steps to ensure that the progeny they parent are their own.
Females in turn seek security for their offspring as an absolute value. All the rest is window dressing -- style, fads, art, politics, religion, fashion, music, mores, and gadgets.