The term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” has been around forever. (Well, at least since 2020, when Nathan Rabin used it to describe Kirsten Dunst’s character in “Elizabethtown.”)

But I personally hadn’t heard the term “Manic Pixie Dream Guy,” until I read the following description on Jezebel today:

 ”A handsome man with tousled hair and an aversion to commitment showed up at my door, suitcase in hand, seeking shelter from the storm. (Okay, he’d called beforehand, but still.) We had a two-day romance — he played music, I wore a dress, we talked for hours. Then he disappeared from my life on a six a.m. flight, and that was that. It was the emotional and quirky hit-it-and-quit-it. [...]

We came to a conclusion so bizarre that it had to be true: he’d Zooey Deschaneled her, hard. He was a manic pixie dream guy.”

Oh my god. Oh my god! All these years of flippantly talking about manic pixie dream girls, and I’d never stopped to notice all the manic pixie dream guys, that while suspiciously absent from pop culture, are everywhere in real life.

One guy I used to know immediately comes to mind. I was studying in Berlin at the time, and he emailed out of the blue to say he was “passing through,” and could he crash on my couch, and by the way did I have any drugs?

I didn’t even know this guy that well, but I was dazzled by his transient lifestyle: he had been living somewhere in Europe, and was on his way to work on a vineyard in Italy for the summer. He was so different from the rest of the 20-something college guys I knew, so I told him he could stay.

So he took the night train to Berlin and arrived at my door. In a purple velvet blazer. I can’t stress enough the fact that the guys I was used to hanging out with, the goofy guys I attended college with, wore Old Navy t-shirts and cargo shorts. For the first time in my life, I found myself tempted to describe someone as a “dandy”, though he was definitely straight.

He was a little full of himself, but had this cutting humor that left me breathless from laughter. I would go to class, and he would wander around Berlin all day. He’d text me at night to meet him at random restaurants I’d never heard of, where he had managed, in the course of one afternoon, to meet and befriend the owner. We would sit at restaurants neither of us could afford, and I’d balk as he ordered appetizers and fondue and port. He’d always manage to charm someone into giving us a discount. I would have found him absolutely insufferable if he hadn’t been so interesting, so different, and so, so, funny. It was the best time I’d had in years.

And then, after a few days (or a week? I don’t remember anymore), he left for the vineyard, and after a few Facebook messages, I never heard from him again. He’s too much of a Manic Pixie Dream Guy to even have a Facebook account that’s really worth stalking. I like to think of him as an old fashioned Troubador, wandering the couches of the world, paying his way by charming girls with his wit — did he have a guitar? He may have had a guitar.

I think the major difference between Manic Pixie Dream Girls and Manic Pixie Dream Guys is that, for women, a guy like this isn’t an ultimate fantasy: he’s a thing that just happens to you when you’re young, but he’s not the guy who’s going to sweet you off your feet, not the guy you want to settle down with. Maybe this is why pop culture isn’t rife with this type of guy: he’s manic and he’s pixie, but he’s not a dream guy. Jezebel argues that this reflects a disconnect between Hollywood and what women actually want. And maybe, yes, RomComs could do with a slight deviation from the stalwart Colin Firth types that we usually see. But when I think back on the manic pixie dream guy of my own, he’s definitely not someone I’d want to have a leading role in the story of my life…more like an amusing, if inconsequential D-plot.

I’m sure you all have some “Manic Pixie Dream Guys” in your past…care to share the story?  

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