When people asked me what my ex boyfriend did for a living, I seldom knew specifically what it was but from what I could glean, it was something that made me proud to be in love with him, because he was really going to make it one day. Even his major was elusive: psychobiology. When I'd tell people he was taking Organic Chemistry, they'd exclaim how hard and challenging that course was, and I'd beam with motherly pride: yup, that's my boy. Mentally and socially, he was unmatched when it came to being impressive. Minor Doogie Houser genius, Mensa member (this was back when that word impressed me) Honor's student, Who's Who, the list goes on. Emotionally and personally was where he was lacking, and while people were impressed with him, they often felt compassion for me, since loving a bi-polar manic depressive, alcoholic diabetic was a few grains shy of being completely self-defeating in an effort to be happy as his girlfriend.

At the onset, I could not fathom why someone like him would fall for someone like me. At the time, I had horrifically low self esteem, and I simply couldn't comprehend what he saw in me. In the years to come, I would find that he saw a mother in me, a caretaker who could level his life, which, easy to say, didn't say much for my intellectual aspects at all. When I moved here to be reunited with him, his friend, Bec, who came with him, didn't express joy that I was finally here because my ex had missed me awfully in the six months we were apart. Bec simply stated that he was glad I was back because now Gage would finally start eating right again, that in my absence, his physical well being had fallen to shit.

The year and half of guys I dated after I finally came to my senses and broke up with Gage were no trophies, mentally, professionally, or otherwise. They were all in the service industry because I either met them while at 1 of 3 service industry jobs I held or at bars I was frequenting on my off time. Men who work as waiters, bartenders, chefs or managers in the French Quarter, even if they are doing so to put themselves through college, had little to offer me in the way of impression. Women typically get asked by other women once they find you are seeing someone, "So, what does he do?" I was used to saying, "Oh, he works in a research lab for LSU Medical Center, developing software for computers doing tests on the brain pattern of cats." Ooh, ahh. After that it was, "He waits tables at the House of Blues" or "He busses tables at Café du Monde." Oh, well at least the money is good, right?

It's not that I was obsessed or snobbish about the jobs my love interests held, but it can't be denied that there are associations you can make between their occupation and expectations you can have of them. The last three guys I've been intrigued by have been a an architect, a web designer, a news cameraman, and a guitarist in a band. My most impressive date will always be that weekend stint I had with a neurosurgeon, which I'm sure is almost as bad, personality wise, as dating an upscale lawyer. He was very full of himself but hey, he was a doctor. I roped a doctor.

That said, despite the fact that occupations impress me, I never held on to any of them because their jobs were enough to keep me. Some women are like that, but usually only if the job has a big pay off, because it's the money they're drawn to, in addition to the prestige of the job title. I just found it interesting to tell people, a small conversation tidbit. I mean, if my job doesn't impress me and seldom impresses anyone else (except in shock that I am doing what I'm doing when I have a degree and could be doing something more impressive if I only used it), at least my boyfriend's job could be impressive. That would make me interesting by default, right?

I asked one of my friends who he could see me marrying, job wise. I had long given up on looking for personality attributes when casually tossing the idea of love around, so we pondered it for a few minutes. He'd limited it to what men's jobs wouldn't mix well for me: physical labor, corporate, medical, artistic, and computers were all varying in compatibility. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not so short sighted that I would turn a man down because his job didn't make the cut. My friend and I were simply looking at compatibility. I have already spent 4 years staring at the back of a guy's head, so computers just doesn't seem feasible, though I would like to be wrong, since most guys I've come across lately have that as one of their main interests. Plus I can't slant all computer geeks just because I picked a bad one off the tree. Times have changed, and I was dating a pirate who was more interested in stealing programs off the net than contributing to the services of the net.

While I am just on the verge of pursuing my own first interest in a real career, I expect the guys in my age group to be more focused than I am. Just as I can't see myself dating someone who is still in college, since I graduated from college 4 years ago, I can't see myself dating someone who isn't working towards a serious job goal. By the same token, I also realize that men's jobs are getting more and more demanding and that I will be competing more and more with the job for his time, and that is hard to accept. Or, rather, if what he does for a living is not the center of his world, it would be a plus if his job in some way motivated him, inspired him, or energized him.

This is why I would even think of such a seemingly unimportant facet of a guy, because whether we admit it or not, our professions say a lot about us, and tell others a great deal about us, leading them to make assumptions that, more often than not, have a grain of truth to them. I am led to wonder if men think about this at all when dating women, or if it simply a byproduct of willfully living in a patriarchal society.

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