#1 Find a wombat.

After I graduated college, I regressed back to elementary school. I may have gotten a degree in filmmaking and screenwriting, but what is true for a quarter of all college grads was true for me–my first job was in a completely unrelated field.

I moved away from Michigan, the home of my alma mater, 24 hours after cap and gowning it through all of campus. So much for celebrating five years of hard work. I went back to New Jersey to live at home for a “saving year” aka, I just realized what it means to have student loans. I took a job as a classroom aide in a second grade classroom, hoping that adulthood would overlook me among the seven year olds. However, second graders themselves are surprisingly astute and perceptive–

Especially when it comes to your relationship status.

They were persistently curious. There was, of course, the occasional inquiry about a boyfriend and, for some, the constant transformation of “Miss Rocket” to “Mrs. Rocket.” And then there were the more serious incidents of being informed that I needed to “work on” getting a man. And the alarming way that the only thing my students remembered from all I taught them about Ireland pre-St. Paddy’s Day was that the way I wore my Claddagh ring meant that I was unattached and lonely. They were seven years old and they couldn’t remember how to spell “doesn’t,” but they knew enough to say, “I have a boyfriend, but Miss Rocket doesn’t.”

And then there was the day the librarian taught my students about wombats.

“Wombats,” he told them, “are small, hairy bear-like animals from Australia. Though they’re wild animals, they are surprisingly friendly. They’ll walk up to you, let you feed them and pet them and play with them. But, after a month or so they’ll get bored. Just as soon as you think you’re starting to develop a special bond with the wombat, as you’re becoming its friend, as you think you’re beginning to understand the wombat, it picks up its droppings and leaves. Never to be seen again.”

The librarian then administered a quiz to the students to see if they were wombats.

They all passed as humans.

That’s when I realized–most of the guys I’ve dated wouldn’t have.

It made me think. Why is a man like a wombat? They wander into your life, decide to make themselves comfortable, let you feed them and care about them, play with them, and then, just as you think you’re getting to know them, they pick up their shit and leave. Usually without warning. And usually, because you’re a cool girl and haven’t crowded them or demanded labels or created a family photo album from MakeABaby.com, there isn’t even any way to follow up. Should I text? Should I call? I don’t want to seem clingy or, worse, desperate. What’re the odds of a successful booty call versus making an ass of myself?

Maybe, like wombats, men are wild animals that need to be free. They come to camp to be… refreshed, but ultimately they just can’t hack it in a civilized world and they return to the wild, a primal place of no rules or expectations.

This is not true. Mostly, they’re just idiots. As a society, we’ve actually failed the male gender. We haven’t encouraged their wild side enough. Instead of inspiring them to be bold and courageous and heroic, we’ve let them flaccidly flip flop around in quandaries of indecisiveness and irresponsibility. We’ve prolonged childhood. And now we have wombats instead of men.

My name is Judy Rocket. I am nearly a quarter of a century old. I live in Michigan [again] where I try to hack it as a writer and a person who actually gets paid.

These are the stories of the boys I met, the kisses I remembered, and the feelings that stayed from the boys that didn’t. I thought maybe it was time to write it all down. Because we’ve all been there. And if you haven’t, you will be soon.

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