SENSITIVE is out, that's probably the best news for the '90s Guy -- if you don't count the fact that more and more women are willing to split the check.
Which isn't to say the '90s Guy is unfeeling. No sir. If he's driving with the wife and kids and they hit a dog, the '90s Guy doesn't shrug and say "Hey, that's what they have kennels for" before draining his orange Big Gulp and letting out a burp that can be heard in the next area code.
By the same token, the '90s Guy doesn't take long walks amid the brilliant autumn foliage, only to collapse on a rock with tears streaming down his face and say: "It's just so . . . beautiful."
The '90s Guy's face doesn't cloud over with concern when Hope has her baby on "thirtysomething." (Whether the '90s Guy even watches "'thirtysomething" is open to debate. Statistics indicate that on Tuesday evenings at precisely 10 o'clock, millions of American men head for the basement to sandpaper and varnish old bureaus. They return promptly at 11.)
Is the '90s Guy supportive? Understanding? Good to his mom? Does he floss? Yeah, yeah, yeah. You betcha.
The '90s Guy knows day care and the Dolphins. He can handle ATMs and Arsenio, call-waiting and computer-dating, safe sex, Tex-Mex and Comtrex, Bud Light and the Berenstain Bears. He can speak eloquently on the subject of recycling as well as relief pitching.
He's just not such a . . . dork about things, the way he was in the '80s.
The '90s Guy doesn't push the sleeves of his sport coat up to his elbows. He doesn't "relate" to anyone. He understands that Lamaze is a huge con game, and that all the breathing in the world is no substitute for (I'm thinking out loud here) 750 cc's of morphine when a 7-lb., 11-oz. baby is careening down the birth canal of the woman he loves.
The '90s Guy accepts the ground rules of modern romance: No fooling around on the first date, casual exchange of sexual histories on the second date, a more frank and detailed examination of sexual biographies on the third date, an open and honest discussion of morality and sexual inclinations on the fourth date, the exchange of blood test results on the fifth date, the engagement of private detective surveillance on the sixth date, the joint analysis of polygraph data on the seventh date followed by -- tadaaa! -- wild, spontaneous sex (with a brief time out for the fitting of a condom) on the eighth date.
Hell, yes, the '90s Guy understands all that. And has no problem with it. He is, above everything else, flexible.
When the auto industry lost its very soul and sold out to the Japanese, and big, roomy Chrysler Imperials gave way to Chevy Chevettes with all the leg room of the Apollo 12, the '80s Guy adjusted his lovemaking by disdaining the back seat of his car in favor of cheap motels with short-stay rates and lava lamps in the rooms.
So it is with the '90s Guy. He knows the old line "If you really loved me, you'd do it" has no more relevance today than saying "I like Ike" or "Oswald acted alone."
There is disease out there. The '90s Guy is no fool, even though he feels like one at times, such as when he tries to program the VCR to record (there are only two or three '90s Guys in the whole world who can do this) or when he confesses to not understanding "Twin Peaks."
What else can we say about the '90s Guy? Here's something: He's very big on communicating. The genesis for this occurred some years ago, when the '80s Woman turned to the '80s Guy (probably during the NBA finals) and said: "You know what your problem is? You don't communicate."
So the '80s Guy started communicating -- although not without first looking up the word in the dictionary. Pretty soon he was telling her about his hopes, his fears, his dreams, his new riding mower with the attachable leaf-raker, his agonizing over whether it was less filling or tasted great, until finally the '80s Woman rolled her eyes to heaven and thought: "Geez, this guy just won't SHUT UP!"
Well, guess what? The '90s Guy won't shut up, either. Ask him the time, he'll tell you who made the watch. It feels so good to unburden himself that the '90s Guy has turned into a loose-lipped, swivel-hipped chattering fool, although to be honest, many of his deepest thoughts center on: The Jeep Cherokee -- would I look cool driving that baby or what?
In the next column: How to tell if you're a '90s Guy.
Providing you're man (or woman) enough to read it.