Thursday, June 9, 2011

The New Psychopathy

Bored already with Jon Ronson's investigation of psychopathy, and tired of his once-charming wide-eyed routine, I have moved on to a new psychopathy. A very alert reader has informed me about Hotness Delusion Syndrome. Apparently, according to the Australian demographer who discovered the condition, middle-aged men are mistaking a demographic quirk of fate for an assessment of their hotness: because there are more available middle-aged men than middle-aged women, middle-aged men are getting more attention than they would based on any sort of objective assessment of their qualities but they think, erroneously, that they are getting this attention due to their hotness.

The topic was broached with respect to the Weiner scandal by Clarence Page, an op-ed writer on the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. Page, by the way, has Intelligence Delusion Syndrome, which is rampant amongst the op-ed writers in the United States, and whose most pitiable victims include Bob Greene, Richard Roeper, David Brooks, and anybody who writes "commentaries" on cnn (I'm avoiding looking at you, Ruben Navarrette, Jr). Because papers and web-sites are desperate to fill their empty spaces, they'll publish the drivel of any lower-middle-brow hack with something that resembles an opinion and spellchecker, and suddenly that hack thinks he or she is much more intelligent and insightful than he or she actually is.

Anyway, back to Hotness Delusion Syndrome. It does not only pertain to available men. It also pertains to hitched men. Readers, I'm going to tell you something that might be hard for some of you to hear. Brace yourselves. I'm taken. That's right. I'm not on the market. "But why are you blogging then?" you ask. "Why are you even using a computer?" Good question. And before we go any further, I want you to know that this doesn't change a thing in those sexts I sent you. When I said I was "engorged with desire" and "panting like an Alsatian in the Belgian Congo", I meant every word of it.

But I also have Hotness Delusion Syndrome. I realised it this morning.

Some time after dawn, I was standing in the living room-kitchen of my apartment, nursing a tea, looking out the windows. A group of construction workers repairing the exterior of the building ascended past the windows on their platform. They glanced in to see me standing there, stately, plump, and buck naked. And my first thought was, "You lucky Mexicans."

Of course, that is a symptom of Hotness Delusion Syndrome. I suspect that their eyes were not averted with illicit desire. I suspect that the suppressed smiles tugging at the corner of their lips were not shy flirtations. I suspect that the words they exchanged were not references to a particular passage in an Alan Hollinghurst novel they had all admired.

Anyway, I grabbed the nearest cat to cover my shame and raced to the bathroom where I had to look in the mirror and confront my malady, which now, at least, has a name.


Steven said...

I'm intrigued as to how this is really a "delusion": surely if these middle-aged men really are being pursued voraciously by comely females, then they are in a way by definition hot, whatever some "demographer" thinks about their alleged baldness and paunchiness?

sw said...

Oh dear, did I hit a nerve?

I feel obliged to observe, as a demographer with deep antipodean roots myself, that the first symptom of Hotness Delusion Syndrome is a belief that it is not really a delusion. Indeed, I had the same thought as you once the Mexican construction workers were whisked past my window, but I recognised it for what it was: part of the delusion. I have accepted my diagnosis.

I do not believe that demographers such as myself should diagnose people without meeting them in person with a clipboard in hand, but I suggest that you call up your local census office or your local council and request to speak to the staff demographer, who will guide you through the process of diagnosis and, if necessary, treatment. I hope that I am wrong in your case, but no matter what: good luck to you, Steven, good luck!

Daniel F said...

Turns out the lucky Mexicans actually were discussing a new Hollinghurst novel:

And, no doubt, thinking about the opening lines of Ulysses.

Is the new Ronson really unworthy even of lay consideration? :-(

sw said...

Fantastic news about the Hollinghurst; I knew it was supposed to be coming out soon. As for Ronson's book, I can't quite say: the problem is that he, like Gladwell, is a complete media whore and if film crews were passing by his window in the morning, he'd stand there in his birthday suit for an interview. Which means that there's been a lot of exposure. If you can avoid that and go straight to the book, it might be fun?