Bagging babes

Perhaps it’s too easy, or merely redundant, to castigate a memoir for being self-indulgent. But if you haven’t lived through events on par with, say, China’s Cultural Revolution or the dissolution of a popular TV drama, it seems you might want to explain why you think 284 pages on your sex life are relevant or, more to the point, worth $24.

In all fairness, Rick Marin’s manwhore journal is about more than just bagging babes. It’s about facing personal obstacles, correcting self-destructive behavior (womanizing) and growing up late in an era of extended adolescence. It’s also, however unwittingly, a forum to showcase Marin’s wit and musings, which are by turns hilarious and insufferable.

From the author’s photo on the back cover, there’s no reason to believe the Toronto native and New York Times lifestyle reporter is any sort of heartthrob. But, if we’re to believe the premise of the book, we must accept that the man is possessed of some sort of charismatic elixir that has granted him access to the bedrooms of an expansive cross section of New York’s womanhood. It’s a puzzler that adds a certain mystique to his tale, especially for mediocre-looking guys, which, let’s face it, means most of us.

Cad chronicles Marin’s romantic résumé from a brief marriage borne of his need for a work visa to a final and bittersweet arrival at the cad killing fields of true love. While working as a freelance magazine writer in New York, Marin runs the gamut of one-night stands, month-long stints and protracted breakups with “sort-of girlfriends,” including book publicists, medical students, inappropriately aged editorial assistants and even a Los Angeles astrologer. Common themes include Marin’s propensity for women whose emotional and cultural sensibilities foster his contempt, condescension and flight complex. Of course, this does not impede his indulgences in their bedsheets.

Cad sits solidly within the milieu of the male confessional—the “I was young and badly behaved but am now contrite” sort of thing. Compared with the similarly oriented novels of Nick Hornby, Marin’s repentance feels rather disingenuous. Of course, his deadpan irony is often hilarious. Take, for example, a personal ad he considers placing after a long, dry stretch: “Moderately insensitive bachelor, 29, seeks vivacious female with highly developed sense of irony. Should have seen at least three Fassbinder films, without liking them. No vegans or spiritually inclined respondents, please. Appreciation of P.G. Wodehouse, Pee Wee Herman and lingerie an asset.”

However unwittingly, Marin seems to embody the ethos of a frat boy with a Harper’s subscription. This tone is evidenced in his loving references to his strategic maneuvers on the battlefield of carnal conquest, which come complete with their own lexicon. Quite frankly, the use of the term “closing” to connote completion of a sexual rout is as nauseatingly arrogant as anything meted out by the fart-joke lords of The Man Show. Subsequently, this male’s confessional reads more like: “I was young and badly behaved and am sorry, but damn I was hot!

Despite my better judgment, Marin could nearly conscript me into another sex-war crusade with a few of his stands for the male species, particularly in regards to the presumed neatness of females and the tendency of some bachelorettes to craft intimacy Marshall Plans after the first bonk. Cad is a book to be checked out of the library, read in small doses and promptly returned. The ending—a confrontation with the death of a parent—is honest and almost profound enough to recompense for the author’s inveterate smugness.