If there's anybody who gets the short end of the television stick, it's women. Television has taught generations of males that there are two kinds of women in the world homemakers and sexpots. If you're not cooking dinner or walking around in a short skirt, then you must just be an extra or a walk-on.
The only people who have suffered more at the hands of television are aliens. If we earthlings ever encounter real extraterrestrials, we're gonna have a lot to answer for just based on Alf alone.
But I digress.
As I was saying, television gave me unrealistic expectations about women. I grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, sitting in the floor of my living room, playing with Star Wars action figures while my parents watched “Dynasty” and “Dallas.” What little bits of these shows I caught between losing Luke's light saber and tearing Darth Vader's crappy vinyl cape severely warped my views of the opposite sex.
I grew up thinking all women were backstabbing, money-hungry sexpots.
Thank God there were shows like “Three's Company” to show me that women could also be ditzy, bumbling sexpots.
There was one area of my thinking about women in particular though that was more warped than any other: sleeping attire.
Growing up on “Dynasty” and “Dallas,” I imagined that most women went to bed wearing really frilly lingerie with high heels, full makeup and elaborately styled hair. It warmed my newly pubescent heart. I would watch Charlene Tilton or Heather Locklear slinking around in their little nighties and smile to myself at the thought of what wonders awaited me in the far-off halls of married, adult life.
And yeah, the first couple of weeks of my marriage, there was a lot of lingerie. But eventually, the lingerie goes back in the drawer in favor of more casual sleepwear. At first it came as a shock to my television-reared system. A T-shirt? Boxers? But ... but ... Joan Collins never came to bed in a T-shirt and boxers.
Eventually, you come to terms with reality, though. And to a certain degree, you can even appreciate the lack of pageantry. I certainly don't want to sleep in a ball gag and latex bodysuit every night, so I can't expect a woman to opt for sexy over comfort on a nightly basis either.
Lately, I've discovered something unusual happening a shift in what's considered sexy sleeping attire. And sure, styles change constantly, and what's sexy now won't be in a few years; but I'm trying to find a little rhyme and reason here, so work with me.
Flip through a lingerie catalog (in the privacy of your own home, preferably - I've recently discovered doing so on the bus or, say, in church can cause uncomfortable stares). Or, if you don't have access to a lingerie catalog, watch TV for a few hours. It shouldn't take long before you see a young woman in sleeping attire.
What do you notice? Tight T-shirts. Tank tops. Boy-style briefs. And while it's a pretty far cry from the Joan Collins, Linda Evans or Heather Locklear in a bustier of yesteryear, I think most men will admit to finding it sexy.
My point? I think we're seeing sexual evolution at work here.
Men have realized that it's unreasonable to expect their women to wear tight, restrictive lingerie to bed every night, so their tastes have evolved into something more realistic - a T-shirt and a pair of boys underwear. Or boxers and a tank top.
It's natural selection at work. Our biological imperative to breed couldn't rely on the fickle hope of teddies and garter belts, so it's adjusted itself to something more realistic without our brains ever even noticing.
And it's not just happening with men and their preferences in women's sleeping attire. I think the way the human brain responds to sexual stimuli is changing across the board. It used to be that to be a leading man on television, you had to be barrel-chested, with a full head of hair and a square jaw.
But look at television today. Who are our leading men? Jim Belushi, Dennis Franz, Ray Romano, David Caruso - prime time is full of short, bald, awkward-looking men, flanked by beautiful women, as if proclaiming that these men are the new male aesthetic. As if telling women everywhere, “A good body, a nice head of hair and facial features that look like they go together are too much to ask. From here on out, this is what you will consider sexy.”
The upside to all of this is that lowered expectations mean it's much easier for everyone to be happy. And if everyone's happy, breeding can continue at a normal pace and the human race will continue to replenish itself.
The downside is, in two more generations, everyone will look like Dennis Franz in a tank top and a pair of briefs.
(Editor's note: Patrick is on vacation. This column appeared in a previous edition of the Enterprise.)
Patrick Drury can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. Patrick recently published his first book, “PatchWorks Volume One,” a collection of his columns. To purchase the book, visit http://www.cafepress.com/patchworks.54813581