In late 1998, I was a suburban teenager who listened to punk rock, played “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” on Nintendo 64, and watched MTV music videos after school.
Country music was far from my consciousness.
But one fateful afternoon, while eagerly awaiting another glimpse of Britney Spears’ “… Baby One More Time” video, I saw this:
My life would never be the same.
Whether you were a country fan or not, if you spent any part of your pre-teen or teenage years in the 1990’s, you either had a crush on Shania Twain, or you wanted to be her.
Just ask Harry Styles. Or Tua Tagovailoa. Or Luke Combs, who spent some time with the Queen of Country Pop earlier this summer with a look on his face that said he might have just won the jackpot on those scratch-off tickets he likes to sing about so much.
We all wondered back then (and still do): if brains, looks, and a hot car don’t impress Shania Twain, what does?
After 24 years of trying, I think I finally figured it out.
With a nod to Seinfeld’s George Costanza: I am the opposite of every man in “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”
Here’s how I did it.
First, I left my career as a rocket scientist (actually a middle manager at an aerospace company, but close enough) for a new career as a stay-at-home dad. After enduring a couple years’ worth of screaming and Paw Patrol, I don’t have the mental capacity (or the energy) to mansplain the importance of the James Webb Space Telescope anymore. One point for me.
I’m a decent-looking guy. But my love of late-night snack binges, too many beers, and a late-onset allergy to exercise suddenly spawned a dadbod this year that just kinda hung around through the summer and is threatening to stay all year round.
And while I appreciate a fast car or a big truck, they’re just not practical enough for a family man like me. So, I drive a best-in-class minivan, complete with two smooth, sliding doors, a touch-free tailgate, and dual heated seats for me and the Mrs., perfect for those chilly, winter morning drop-offs at the local elementary school, or a romantic trip to Costco.
I’m telling you, if a paunchy dude in a dad hat rolled up to Shania in the desert in his minivan, she would have thrown her leopard-print luggage into the trunk and hopped right in.
What made Shania so ground-breaking and provocative when she crashed the country and pop charts back in the late 90’s went far beyond the midriff-baring music videos that first caught the attention of me and my MTV-ogling brethren. Her songs perfected the balance between playful, sexy seduction and empowering, defiant feminism.
“Any man of mine,” she said, “better walk the line.” She was looking for something different: a man who could transcend society’s emphasis on achievement, appearance, and fancy automobiles. A man who would truly prioritize her, her dreams, and her lifestyle.
A man like me, dad bod and all.
Impressed, Shania? Well, even if you are, you’re too late.