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Boy Watching's Down to a Science

April 11, 1999|BOOTH MOORE

Does he feed on a diet of takeout Chinese or protein shakes? Does he nest in his mother's house or a penthouse? When approaching females, does he hover and pounce or stalk and strike?

Parodying the Audubon guide, Marjorie Ingall's Web site (http://www.fieldguide.com) identifies species of boys instead of birds, cataloging them according to their plumage, mating calls, sexual and agonistic displays, courtship rituals and habitats. Ingall groups the male species into four families: casual, artsy, athletic and gainfully employed. Perhaps you've dined with the Acerbic Bipolar Novelist (Burroughs kerouacam) or the Spiritual Surfer Dude (Moana loa macadamius nuttum). How about the Socially Awkward / Possibly Deep Computer Geek (Cyberdorkus perpetuum)?

The site identifies dozens of species, with longer descriptions for nine of them, including the Unearthly-vibrato-bearing Opera Singer (Nessun dorma). A member of the artsy family, his plumage is a scarf used to protect his million-dollar throat. He can often be spotted scoping out the Metropolitan Opera House or dreaming ambitious dreams at high-end Italian restaurants.

A distant relative (very distant) is the Pierced Pissed Punk, also in the artsy family. He can be identified by his festive tattoos, Rancid T-shirt and excessive body piercings. His sexual manner is to grope an attractive female in the mosh pit, and his diet consists mostly of Hostess snacks.

If your boy isn't listed, don't despair. The Web site accepts well-researched e-mails with characteristics of newly discovered species. "I have gotten more than 1,500 responses from budding boy-watching scientists," Ingall says. Although most are from women, some are from men. "They must think I'm running a dating service here. They describe themselves, their wonderful characteristics, you can almost hear their Barry White voices."

Ingall posted the Web site two years ago to publicize her book, "Field Guide to North American Males" (Henry Holt, 1997), which is now out of print. So how did she learn so much about men? "I had a sorry, sordid dating life. I felt I should share my experiences as a panoply for single women." Now married, she continues her research of emerging species for fun.

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