What separates boys from men?
As a "young woman" I am frustrated by the lack of terminology for people like me. We don't have to think about the boy vs. man question often, because hey, they're all "guys." Natalie Angier likes the term "gals" for us not-girl-not-woman types, but that's a wee bit goofy. In order to be a "gal" I need pedal pushers, a bowling ball, something jauntily plaid (hat?), and a convertible. But I digress.
Given the obscuring nature of the guy designation, it's possible to go from being a 12-year-old boy to a 40-year-old man without any definitional confusion; you can just shrug by on "guy" for the interval. Female types have more trouble. I minorly cringe at being called both "girl" and "woman." The former is someone with pigtails and/or Chapstick. The latter is someone with children and/or pantyhose. Guys are just guys but the term is too casual for me: it always comes with a shrug attached.
Consider the following:
"I'm seeing a new guy." --> whatever. He's just this guy, eh.
"I'm seeing a new boy." --> mincing, yet inexplicably sexy, I've got to say.
"I'm seeing a new man." --> seems aggressive somehow.
Augh! What to do?
Lexicological squeamishness aside, I'm interested in the deciding features of boyhood and manhood. I used to have a simple test: male individual = 'boy' if he wears flipflops or those giant overpadded sneakers more than 50% of the time. However by this criterion, there are almost no men in Sri Lanka, and Ross is not a boy*. Indeed?
A better analysis is needed. I suspect that this is a morass quite similar to the problem of deciding when one is a Real Grown-Up. Let's hear suggestions. Males reading: what do you call yourselves?
*actually, this is not logically implied. It's funny, though, if you know Ross.