When we opened up photographer Mark Mann's photo gallery for Esquire magazine called "Life of Man," we weren't sure what to expect. But the photos, brilliantly capturing 80 men (one born every year that the magazine has been in print), read more like dreamy, romanticized portraits of our dream boyfriends. Which is when we realized: duh! That's exactly what Esquire wants us to do.
Why else would they give us such extreme close-up shots of these generally very accomplished and often good-looking men if it weren't to stare into their light-ringed eyes and deep into their souls? We got a little lost along the way, imagining the romantic vistas, the sweet and intimate moments, but thought that we couldn't possibly be the only ones to suffer a similar fate. Hey, we'll take any chance we can to daydream at work under the guise of "research."
So, we figured we'd take the legwork out of the equation for you and give a peek into what dating one of these men would undoubtedly be (except by undoubtedly, I mean totally doubtfully, because this is merely a written fever dream and/or fan fiction that my editor let me get away with).
Now read how your many, many imaginary famous boyfriends would treat you on one of your amazing dates.
Your boyfriend Aziz Ansari appreciates the simpler things in life. His perfect date would involve going to his favorite city in the world, New York. Surrounded by people you both care about, perhaps you'd take in a show at Carnegie Hall (a place he once sold out) before hitting up the best food trucks and hole-in-the-wall taco joints you've ever experienced. He'd quickly grab your hand and playfully dash for the door without reason, until you reach your destination and he explains that your table at the latest underground speakeasy (surprise!) was ready.
Your older imaginary boyfriend Cal Ripken, Jr. wants to make any date with you special. Which, to him, means being a good listener. You find yourselves in deep conversation for hours and you love that he lets you go off on your little side tangents. Following one of your particularly involved Disney princesses rant, he looks at you and smiles as you snuggle in closer while sipping on his 12 year, barrel-aged whisky by an evening outdoor fire.
Your perfect date with boyfriend Blake Shelton would be a lesson in endurance. (Hey! I know what you were thinking just then. Cheeky! Hush.) It would be a marathon of drinking, BBQing, and even an impromptu concert at his favorite watering hole in Nashville. You'd manage to peel him out of the bar at 2 a.m. and he'd declare that you two should be married as soon as possible. "How soon?" you'd laughingly protest. Without hesitation he'd say, “November. It’s my favorite month of the year. Because I like it when shit dies.” Ahhh.
Your perfect date with David Chang starts out accidentally. While at a party for a friend of yours who makes locally-sourced, artisanal salsas, you bump into David at the appetizer table grabbing a few too many amuse-bouches than would be looked well upon. After tossing back a couple beers on the roof, you end up party hopping until four in the morning. When you wake up at his place the next day, he makes you the best scrambled eggs you've ever had. You spend the morning lazily watching television and riffing on your favorite bad jokes.
Your boyfriend Ronan Farrow is a man of the world, and the product of some truly impressive parents. On top of that, he's also got incredible smarts and a resumé to prove his chops, so it was hard, at first, to not be intimidated. But Ronan charmed you immediately with his candor and down-to-earth outlook on life, putting you both at ease. After dating a year, it doesn't surprise you when he wakes up like a shot in the morning and proclaims that "today's going to be the best day."
You spend the day meandering around the parks of Manhattan with the most amusing names before checking out a show at Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. Before you know it, you're heading back into Manhattan for drinks with a couple of friends. Cool, casual, and utterly charming, these sorts of evening salons don't bother you — in fact, they're made all the more dreamy by your imaginary famous boyfriend Ronan's impeccable charm.
How quickly one date turned into marriage for you and your imaginary boyfriend, Aaron Paul. There's just something about him — that charm, that broken character he plays on Breaking Bad — that turned one date into as long as you both shall live. Now he's got bigger plans on the brain: namely, kids. While at dinner with your parents one night, your mom asks him about his plans for the future. He grabs your hand and squeezes it under the table before saying, "Maybe having some kids running around would be nice ... if she wants," he smiles and insists. But he's ready when you are, girl.
Active, active, active! It amazes you every date you go on with Daniel Rodriguez how he never stops going. Which is surprising, considering his Purple Heart from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he's also determined. You spend the morning hiking, nibbling on snacks, mimicking the random bird calls you hear in the trees, and you grab lunch at a mom 'n pop Southern soul food joint before heading out to catch a movie. It's an early night for you both, though, as he has a big football game at Clemson tomorrow — he has to prepare and his mind needs to be sharp as a tack. Because as he puts it, "It’s not how you start something, it’s how you finish it."
Your imaginary boyfriend Junot Díaz is a passionate man, so the night starts out with some good eats at his favorite local restaurant before meeting up with a bunch of your other friends to go dancing up at this teeny, tiny club in Harlem. You stay long enough to see it get packed to the brim like a sardine can and then quickly cut downtown to a wine bar you like to decompress and ruminate on the silly things you saw people say and do throughout the evening. His mind is clearly caught on something, though, and before long you're at home as he heads to his desk to write through the night. [Photo via Embajada de EEUU en la Argentina/Flickr]
Let's be real: your perfect date with fake imaginary boyfriend Jon Hamm involves three things: you, him, and his very untethered Hammbone. Ba-dum ching!