Amy Schumer has acquired a new boyfriend, a civilian man named Ben Hanisch. The two of them appear in a vacation photo together, which Hanisch put on Instagram and captioned with a cheesy little love note, so you know this is the real deal.
Now, Amy Schumer could have decided to date Bill Hader or Idris Elba, and it still might not have elicited the same excitement as regular guy Ben Hanisch, for Ben Hanisch, 29, is a “custom furniture maker” — in fact, as a People headline tells us, he is a “Handsome Furniture Maker,” which is currently the ideal profession for fantasy boyfriends.
If you don’t believe me, here is a test. Close your eyes and imagine your best friend is telling you all about a new guy she is dating. How do you respond when she says, “He’s a lawyer”? Meh? Okay, how about: “He’s a pediatric cardiologist”? No? Not doing it for you? Okay, how about: “He’s a carpenter with a small studio in Red Hook. He has a sort of mid-century-modern aesthetic. He smells like a redwood forest.” Did your eyes roll back in a fit of orgasmic ecstasy? Well, there you go.
Our lust for wood-dealing men was probably impressed upon us in our early days of Sunday school (or knowing people who went to Sunday school and talked about it a lot): Jesus was the prototype for the hot carpenter. A long-haired man with good abs who works with wood? Put a chambray shirt on Jesus and let me take him to dinner. In non-biblical form, the “Carpenter Boyfriend” immediately calls to mind Adam Driver on Girls, the arty lug doing something vaguely wood-related before his acting career took off; or Aidan from Sex and the City, because you cannot mention carpenters without someone saying, “Like Aidan!” or “Carrie should have chosen Aidan!” Or Keri Russell’s hot ex-husband, Shane Deary, who lives in Brooklyn Heights and I think might still be single.
But what is it about the Carpenter/Furniture-Maker Boyfriend that has such appeal? Well, there are the immediate superficial charms. He can make things with his hands, things of practical use! He’s got a sort of self-sufficiency that is always attractive to the primal parts of our brain, and also hard to find. Physically, hands that make things are often strong and callused, which is potentially erotic. When you imagine this particular man, it is easy to imagine him with a beard (or maybe long hair, or maybe just a nice scruff that is part of his work uniform but he will shave before coming to dinner) and a restored pickup truck that he uses to go pick up lumber. You can also imagine him bending over a wood bench with a furrowed brow, focusing very hard on crafting some sort of peg to fit in some sort of hole, which will eventually become a beautiful coffee table. He probably wears good Levi’s and American-made flannel shirts and work boots. All of this is hot. Again, does anyone know if Shane Deary is still single?
If we dig deep into our psychology, there’s more to the attraction than just imagining callused hands. (SHANE?) The Carpenter/Furniture-Maker is also a man who operates a little bit outside of the status quo, because he’s chosen to make money in an unconventional, self-employed way, which, again, very hot, as is the fact that he is ostensibly making a steady income by making things. And even if nobody is buying that beautiful $12,000 raw-edged walnut dining-room table yet, we’ve evolved past the point where we need the alpha male to provide financially, hence, the rise of the trophy hipster boyfriend. This boyfriend can provide in other, more primitive ways, like providing shelter, because all furniture-makers can also build houses, right? This is a definite shift from previous Ideal Boyfriends, which pretty much consisted of Architects, as Mindy Kaling noted in a New Yorker essay. Now we’ve come to accept that a creative who only makes money, sometimes is more attractive than a suit who always makes money.
More broadly, might our new desire for the Carpenter/Furniture-Maker Boyfriend and a shift away from the Architect Boyfriend reflect a shift in consumer preferences as well? Our nation’s trend-conscious shoppers now fetishize American-made, custom, small-batch things. Such shoppers wish to spend their money on intimate-seeming transactions, a table made by one lone man just for you, as opposed to something designed by suited men in big, shiny buildings for lots of people. The man who makes such items is held in esteem by society, and people who are held in esteem by society are often bangable.
If we really break it down, I think the appreciation all boils down to this: The Carpenter/Furniture-Maker probably built the bed he’s about to do you on. Good work, Amy. (Any update on Shane Deary?)