It's a good thing I was reading the tabloids at my doctor's office, because after looking at the latest Us Weekly and In Touch, I felt like I could use a heavy dose of antibiotics. I'm not sure when it hit me, but somewhere between the picture of Lance Armstrong holding hands with Kate Hudson (not long after he'd stopped canoodling with Ashley Olsen) and the snapshot of John Mayer catching some rays with Jennifer Aniston (mere months after telling Jessica Simpson he wanted to see other Wonderlands), I started to feel a little queasy.
I'm no stranger to the porcine habits of men, what with being one and all. But doesn't it seem like these guys are going a little beyond piggy lately? Mayer keeps hitting "refresh" on his love life, dating Mandy Moore, Minka Kelly, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ricki Lake, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Simpson, and now Aniston, and then blogging about the breakups ("Perhaps you didn't understand the last time I told you . . . I do not wish to have you in my life anymore"). Armstrong's vaunted staying power deserts him as he cycles through a dizzying array of blondes; Vince Vaughn helps America's sweetheart get over being dumped by publicly cheating on her; and Tom Brady proves he's more afraid of babies than of linebackers.
Not long ago we had "ladies' men," "Casanovas," "Romeos," "bad boys" - guys who stayed just this side of masher-dom by deploying a certain roguish charm, along with arcane skills like discretion and shirt-wearing. Women wanted such men, and men wanted to be like them. Now, every other magazine features another famous frat boy in flip-flops or bro in Bermudas with a starlet-of-the-week on his arm - bros who don't seem to know the meaning, let alone the public-relations value, of shame. These bros are hos. They're BroHos.
Yeah, I'm looking at you, Lance. I'm guessing a guy with enough self-discipline to climb an Alp on a bike might be able to occasionally say no to a cupcake. What's with the Tour de Your Pants? Sheryl Crow, Tory Burch, Ashley Olsen . . . it's like a different girl every week. (BTW, if you're so into variety, how come they all kinda look alike?) And why would a music icon like Crow and women with fashion empires fall for a BroHo, anyway? Is taming these guys the ultimate alpha-girl achievement?
As for you, John Mayer: I know you're still young enough to be Waiting on the World to Change, but trust me on this, it's the world that's waiting on you to change. Into some clothes.
And Vince? Could you have pretended to wait a few nanoseconds before panting your way over to a still-in-the-throes Mrs. Pitt, making everyone wonder if Wedding Crashers was actually a documentary? Not to mention bailing out of Thanksgiving a few months later so you could do your part for some sorority's Junior Year Abroad program. Not exactly money, babe.
And don't even get me started on you, Tom, calling an audible at the beginning of girlfriend Bridget Moynahan's pregnancy, because, you know, the only thing more fulfilling than raising a child is dating a model.
Look, I have nothing against a little good, clean ho-ing now and then. And everybody needs to be a bro once in a while. But bro-ing and ho-ing don't mix.
Or perhaps these guys should take a cue from Cary Grant: By all accounts, he was the Ho of Babylon, and yet his legacy is all rakish charm and sex appeal. It's a matter of style.
Maybe I give Cary Grant a pass cuz he made Notorious, while Matthew McConaughey made Failure to Launch. Whatever. I'm just saying, guys--have a little self-respect, OK? Seriously. Keep your shirts on. Live strong.
Peter Birkenhead lives in Los Angeles. He is working on a memoir, Gonville (Free Press).