This week, Brooklyn author Adelle Waldman’s excellent first novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. will be released in paperback, and since its debut last summer, the titular character has become more than just shorthand for the book itself, but a trope particular to the kind of man who’s both charming and intellectual yet inexcusably self-absorbed, entitled and emotionally immature. He’s got beta-male sweetness that made him a late romantic bloomer, and he’s replaced the inherent bitterness that follows with an impervious wall of self-assuredness built on exceptional intelligence. In other words, he’s 21st-century literary Brooklyn incarnate, and Waldman’s novel—told from Nathaniel P.’s perspective—makes us hate ourselves for loving him.
Sound familiar? You’ve probably dated a ‘Nathaniel P.,’ or you are one, or more likely, you’ve been told you’re one and refuse to admit it. Here’s how to know whether you (or
a loved one an ex-loved one) qualifies:
For each of the following questions, give yourself one point for each ‘yes’ answer. More points, more Nathaniel-ness.
- Were you average-looking as a child, but recently realized you’re handsome in a way that is perhaps not classic, but nevertheless relatively alluring to women?
- Alluring to the sort of women who used to turn you down?
- Were you raised in the suburbs but moved to a big city with dreams of becoming professionally creative?
- Would you describe yourself as open-minded, thoughtful, progressive and critical (of like, society)?
- Were you lonely as a kid, causing you to become extremely self-conscious and hyper-aware of yourself and your surroundings?
- Did you go to a ‘good school’?
- Was it an Ivy?
- Did you major in something noble, like English or Philosophy, where you surrounded yourself with other noble majors who are probably also ‘Nathaniel P.’s?
- Are you dumbfounded when women from your past express anger towards you, having no clue what you did wrong?
- Does your ideal partner share similar traits to you? (Thoughtful, creative, attractive, unpopular as a child?)
- But when you find a partner who shares said traits, do you feel tired and frustrated within six months of dating them?
- If you slept with a woman but didn’t see a future and she had to get an abortion, do you think one phone call to ask whether she was feeling okay is sufficient, and then never seeing her again?
- Do you have trouble sharing your home space?
- And is that home space messy? I.e., are you content with an environment that others in your social or economic class would find unsuitable?
- Do you find yourself wielding inexplicable power against others, especially women you’re dating?
- Can you feel women trying to please you, and does that make you kind of hate them?
- Does the idea of settling down with one person make you feel constricted, even though you wouldn’t want people to think of you as the type of guy who can’t commit?
- Do you attend a decent number of dinner parties?
- Let’s rephrase: Have you ever attended a dinner party?
- With like, intellectuals talking about intellectual stuff?
- Have you held more than five jobs with the word “editor” somewhere in the title?
- Do you mostly date women who also work in publishing, but who, more often than not, have titles with “assistant” or “intern” in them, even though you would never accept such a position?
- Do you relish in the idea of giving career advice to said women?
- Do you find women becoming more attracted to you the older you get?
- Are you currently working on a book?
- Is it a novel?
- Are you already working on your second book?
- Does the idea of running into an ex on the street haunt you?
- (Because you’re worried about what she’d say to you.)
- As much as you think you love the down-to-earth writer types, is what you really want a hot, feminine and relatively high-maintenance woman?
- Has a woman ever called you a ‘Nathaniel P.’?
- Would she, now knowing what a ‘Nathaniel P.’ is?
Now add up your points!
0-0: Who Are You?
Are you a human male, living in Brooklyn? Do you have a job? (Please comment with link to your OKCupid profile.)
1-31: Pretty much Nathaniel P.
You almost definitely qualify as a ‘Nathaniel P.’ Do not embrace it.
32-32: Actually Nathaniel P.
You are literally ‘Nathaniel P.’ from Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. (Please also comment with link to your OKCupid profile, because dammit, I think I love you.)
Follow Rebecca Jennings on Twitter @rebexxxxa