Monthly Archives: February 2012

Life lessons from The Bachelor

As a general rule, I do not watch TV.  Raised by parents who refused to buy cable, my only options were the Spanish channel, the Chinese channel, and My Wife and Kids.  Needless to say, I did a lot of reading instead.  Unless I’m at a hotel where I can rot my brain with shows like Engaged and Underage, How Do I Look, and Jersey Shore (everyone has her guilty pleasure, okay?), I usually opt for a good novel, magazine, or blog instead.

My one weekly indulgence is The Bachelor.  Laugh all you want, but I am just one of many, many Americans who loves this program.  (According to Entertainment Weekly, 15 million viewers tuned in for the season finale of The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love starring Jake, a hunky pilot, in 2010.)  My mom, aunt and uncle, and my cousin all watch on Monday night when it airs, I watch it online on Tuesday—because yes, you guessed it, I don’t own a TV—and we all email back and forth incessantly about it for the rest of the week.  It’s weird, but so is my family.  (In a good way.) There is something oddly addicting about watching one lucky guy or gal get the chance to pick a fiancé from among 25 eligible contestants, all while going on extravagant international dates and engaging in heavy make-out sessions.  I’m totally hooked.

Despite the fact that this show is, at its core, completely inane, there are a few important life lessons to be gleaned from its shiny cast of singletons.  Here is what I have learned over my long tenure as a fan:

1) Everyone has gone through that one excruciating heartbreak.  If you’ve ever felt like you are the only one who has experienced the pain of a bad break-up, rest assured that you are not alone.  Almost every bachelorette competing for the affections of our illustrious bachelor, Ben Flajnik, a winemaker from Sonoma, has her own sob-worthy tale of woe.  Lindzi, for example, got dumped after two years via text message.  Her ex broke the news with the words: “Welcome to Dumpsville, babe.  Population: you.”  (Seriously, people actually do stuff like that?  Yeesh.)  She claims that for the month after the split she felt like the world was ending, but that “You have to experience real old-fashioned hardcore heartbreak to know what love is.”  It sounds cheesy, I know—and seriously, she was only depressed for a month?  That girl should consider herself lucky—but I have to admit that I think there’s some validity to what she’s saying.  I know that my own heartbreaks have felt awful at the time (and for a long time afterward), but have ultimately allowed me to figure out what I’m really looking for.  Pothead jocks?  No.  Beer pong champions?  Definitely not.  Guys who prioritize honesty?  Yes please.

2) Everyone is afraid that they’ll never find “the one.”  After the rose ceremony when she was sent home Monica cried in the limo, wondering if love even exists—she’s starting to think it doesn’t because she still hasn’t found it.  Samantha tearfully wondered what was wrong with her—it hasn’t worked out with so many guys that there must be something.  It’s kind of pitiful to watch these ladies lose it when one dude—who is dating 25 other women, by the way—doesn’t like them, but I also understand where they’re coming from.  I’ve been in their shoes before (no, I haven’t been on a dating show; though come to think of it sometimes my life sort of feels like one), and boy is it unpleasant.  It hurts like hell.  And yet, there is something reassuring about knowing that other people feel this way too.  We all share the fear that we won’t meet the man of our dreams, that we’re doing something to repel him, that it will just never happen.  It would be hypocritical of me to write something about how it will all work out in the end, because I have the same anxieties.  But hey—if nothing else, misery loves company.

3) Wearing too much concealer makes your face look orange.  Seriously ladies, don’t do it.  In this arena, less is more.

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Read it and weep

(thanks, internet)

This girl’s got it right: there are just some things—correct grammar included, at least in this English major’s opinion—that are not worth sacrificing for the sake of a relationship!  And after she teaches him the difference between “your” and “you’re,” she might want to say something about that bizarre du-rag too…

Louise Rennison gets it right

Growing up, I was obsessed with Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging series.  What twelve year old girl could be immune to books written in hilarious and probably made-up British slang with titles like On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God and Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas (nunga-nungas being breasts, of course, because of the sound they make when someone gropes them and then lets them go).

I was captivated by Georgia Nicholson’s witty confessions, and gratified to meet a character whose over-the-top boy craziness matched my own.  Though she never managed to pluck her eyebrows quite right or act cool when the dreamy Robbie sang her his original ballads, her perseverance was admirable.  And would she ever realize that she and Dave The Laugh were meant to be?  I was hooked.

 

 

Ten years later, I have to admit that I still find these books highly entertaining.  What’s more, they provide terminology that’s as applicable to the romantic rambles of a pre-professional as it is to a pre-teen.  Take Rennison’s delineation of horniness, for example.  If you thought that “horny” only had one standard definition, my you were wrong.  There’s the Particular Horn, when you have only one paramour, the General Horn when you’re crushing on several people, and the Cosmic Horn when you’re hot for everything that moves beneath the sun.

What’ll it be, folks?  For this single future cat lady, the Cosmic Horn comes closest to approximating my horn-status: a few vague interests, but mostly I just want to go on a date with ANYONE who will ask.  (Okay, not ANYONE, but you get my drift.)  It will have to do for now—until, like Georgia, I become the girlfriend of a fab Sex God.

I’m dating my cell phone

I keep falling asleep with things in my bed.  Regrettably, these things are not men.

The other night it was my glasses—not the best to cuddle with, I have to admit.  They kept poking me in the ribs and made getting some much-needed shut-eye nearly impossible.  Then it was my iPhone.  Newly acquired, I have found myself loath to part with this fun little gadget.  As I get under the covers each night it calls to me from across the room, just begging for one more game of solitaire or Words With Friends.  It tells me the weather so that I know what to wear each day, it plays all my favorite customized radio stations, it provides me with important celebrity news updates, and I even downloaded an app that will interpret my dreams.

For the first few weeks we were in the honeymoon stage of our relationship: I bought it a cute pink case and plugged it in lovingly each time its battery ran low.  Now we’ve settled into a cozy routine, and each day I find something new to admire about it.  We rarely fight—only when the WiFi isn’t working.

According to this New York Times piece, what I’m feeling is common.  I have fallen for my phone.  Is this the next generation of romance?  I wouldn’t be surprised.  After all, my iPhone can’t claim that it isn’t over its ex, that the timing is off, or that we just don’t have chemistry.  It’s the perfect rejection-free relationship.

Or is it?  Last night I decided it was time to take things to the next level.  “Will you be my boyfriend?” I asked Siri.  After a moment of deliberation came the reply: “I’ve never really thought about it.”  “Does that mean yes?” I asked nervously.  “Hmm…Let me think,” the robotic voice responded.  And then: “I don’t know that.  Would you like to search the web for it?”

It looks like Apple is going to have to try a little harder when it’s time for the next upgrade.

 

Dudes say the darndest things #1

“Your hip is tantalizing.”

(Yes, someone actually said this to me.)

Since I like you, I’m going to act like I don’t like you

I recently ran into a friend of mine right after she had encountered a guy who has been flirting with her for the past few weeks.  Watching the two of them interact, it’s obvious that he’s into her: the minute she enters the room he turns all of his attention to her, he never runs out of things to say when they’re talking, he finds a ton of small ways to touch her—and he teases her relentlessly.  Most of the time their banter is a major turn-on, because it shows how quick and witty he is and it always keeps her on her toes thinking of the perfect comeback.  It’s this fun little game that the two of them play together, and it’s exclusively theirs.  Other times, though, it totally sucks.  “Why,” my friend asked when I ran into her, “does he always scowl at me like that?”

It’s the oldest trick in the book, really.  We like people who provoke us, who make us think, who drive us crazy.  According to that great tome of dating advice, Wikipedia, “Challenges (teasing, questions, qualifying, feigned disinterest) serve to increase tension.”  A brief Google search returns literally millions of results with instructions on how to play hard to get.  eHow.com outlines five easy steps: 1) Flirt with your guy like crazy, but make sure that he sees you flirting with other guys, too; 2) Wait a day before calling him back—not too long and not too short, it’s the perfect amount of time to keep him guessing; 3) Only answer his calls and texts every other time—that way, you only appear “partially interested”; 4) If you feel the need to actually ask the victim of your affections on a date, opt for a group outing but never a one-on-one thing.  Step 5, the sneakiest one of all, instructs that you “Tell one of his friends you are interested in him, but tell another friend you don’t want a relationship.  This will send him a mixed message, which ultimately makes you look hard to get.  He won’t know if you are really ‘into’ him or if it’s just a rumor.”

Somehow, I’m not sure that this is the best way to go about wooing Mr. Right.

The implication of this confounding plan seems to be that the harder we have to work to win someone over, the greater the payoff.  It seems ironic, though, that our first recourse when we like someone is to act as though we don’t like them.  How many times have I waited for hours to text back a guy I’m into just so he won’t think that I’ve been obsessively waiting for my phone to vibrate?  How many times have I walked right by a dude I’m crushing on just so he won’t have a clue?  And then, of course, he doesn’t have a clue, and he starts dating someone else!  It’s preposterous!  Yet, I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s never done it.  I mean, hey, it worked for this girl, didn’t it?

A while ago, I told myself that I would stop playing these inane and often ill-fated games.  When someone texted me, I would text back right away.  When I saw someone I thought was cute, I would make a point of saying hi.  I always list honesty as one of the things I am most looking for in a relationship, so why not be honest?  (The number of emails I would have sent saying “I miss you” to the current object of my heartache, for one thing…)  The problem is that we’ve all been conditioned not to show interest.  The other day as I was walking to the library I saw a guy that I’ve danced with a few times at parties.  Just some minor flirtation, that’s all.  I looked over to greet him, and he was looking at some imaginary point in the far, far off distance.  It wasn’t that he was pretending not to see me—he was pretending that I wasn’t there at all!  So much for trying to be up front about things.  In a way, I guess, playing hard to get is safer: you never have to admit that something suggestive and potentially embarrassing is going on.  Safer, yes, but it seems to me that both giving and getting compliments could be a lot more fun.

Well, that’s all for now—I’m off to not return a few text messages!

When A Woman Loves A Man

When she says margarita she means daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, “I’ll never speak to you again,”
she means, “Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window.”

He’s supposed to know that.

When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

When a woman loves a man it is one ten in the morning
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
drinking lemonade
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.

When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, “We’re talking about me now,”
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
“Did somebody die?”

When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water rushing over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.

Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?

When he says, “Ours is a transitional era,”
“that’s very original of you,” she replies,
dry as the martini he is sipping.

They fight all the time
It’s fun
What do I owe you?
Let’s start with an apology
Ok, I’m sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying “Laughter.”
It’s a silent picture.
“I’ve been fucked without a kiss,” she says,
“and you can quote me on that,”
which sounds great in an English accent.

One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it another nine times.

When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the
airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he’s there. He doesn’t complain that
she’s two hours late
and there’s nothing in the refrigerator.

When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She’s like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn’t want the day to end.

When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.

—David Lehman

It’s date night!

Well, not for me, but I’m sure there’s a lucky girl somewhere out there getting ready for a romantic evening with a very special someone.

After this week, though, I’m starting to feel like all hope is not lost for this prospect-less second semester senior trapped in the Midwest’s tiniest town.  Nothing like spending Wednesday night dancing with a few under-21 dudes to reassure me that yes, I am still considered a good target for creepy grinding.  (Actually, I think this one guy who just came up behind me and got going was a little taken aback when I turned around and made him shake my hand and tell me his name first. At the end of the night he told me my necklace was “cute.”  Has no problem accosting me without warning on the dance floor but is thoughtful enough to compliment my accessories?  Who is this guy?  I don’t get it.)  Anyway, as Lou Bega wisely said in the immortal hit “Mambo No. 5,” “To me flirting is just like a sport”—and it never hurts to get a little exercise, right?

I’ll head you off on the weekend with a few quirkily romantic postcards from my personal hoard of favorite PostSecrets.

The kiss that is a contract

You’ve been texting for weeks.  You’ve gone out on dates.  It’s clear that you both like each other.  Then there you are, standing so close.  You know what’s about to happen.  Everything is going smoothly.  Well, as smoothly as these things can go, anyway.  Then, before you can stop it: that awkward moment when he asks if he can kiss you.

The first time that this happened to me was, appropriately enough, my first kiss.  It was with a guy who I worked on the high school newspaper with.  We had stayed at school late working on the next issue, and I was driving him home.  (Yes, I was old enough to drive—older in fact—when I got my first kiss.  Late bloomers for the win.)  I pulled up in front of his house and put the car in park so he could get his backpack out of the trunk.  Without warning he turned to me and uttered a variation of what I would go on to hear many, many more times: “So, are we gonna make out now or what?”

I didn’t know what to say.  Everything buzzed.  I had been waiting for this moment basically since I first noticed the opposite sex.  I thought this guy was cool, but I had given up on him ever liking me long ago.  “I don’t know” I answered, “do you think we should?”  And his reply: “Yeah, let’s do it.”  He stuck his tongue in my mouth for about thirty seconds and then pulled away, said “Peace!” and exited the car.  And my life—we barely spoke to each other for the rest of the year, a situation only made worse by the fact that we not only worked on the paper together, but were in the same homeroom and took our own two-person poetry class with a favorite teacher.  Oy vey.

I was swept up in what I then believed to be the passion, the raw lust of this exchange in the front seat of my dad’s Honda Accord, for about three days.  (Read: three months.)  Eventually I realized that the delivery of what he must have thought was a choice one-liner was unequivocally lame.  College boys didn’t do stuff like that, right?  Wrong.  Cut to sophomore year, when a cute senior guy invited me over to his house to share a bottle of wine.  When we finished it, he conveniently offered me a tour of his house, which conveniently ended in his bedroom.  As I was admiring his seashell collection (what? he was very into nature, okay?!), he looked at me and said “Would it be really out of line if I kissed you right now?”  Well, we had just been flirting on his living room couch for two hours.  I looked at the floor.  I looked back at him and he was still looking at me, waiting for a verdict.  I looked away again.

“Um, I guess it wouldn’t be that out of line.”

I hadn’t decided if I wanted the kiss yet, but given that we were already practically in bed and that there was a blizzard outside—I knew I wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon—I was well aware of what was coming.  It’s not that I was opposed to the idea, just that his question had been so awkward.  To be fair, it probably wasn’t awkward to him.  He probably thought it was nice, that he was being a gentleman.  True, true.  And yet.  Something about a guy asking if he can kiss me makes me not want to kiss him.  Shouldn’t I have been appreciative of the fact that this dude asked permission instead of just mauling me on the spot?  Yup.  Isn’t this a sign of politeness, of chivalry?  Totally.  No matter how good the catch, I just can’t muster the will to respond with a simple and direct “Yes.”

It’s not that I want men to presume that they can do anything they want to me.  Theoretically, I like a man who takes the time to make sure that what he wants to do is what I want to do, too.  Sometimes, though, I just want you to kiss me, no questions asked.

Realizing, however, that this seems to be a trend, I’ve been trying to work on my responses.  “I guess” just won’t do, especially if it’s a guy I really like—I don’t want to give the wrong impression.  Unfortunately, this, like anything, takes time.  The last person who asked if he could kiss me was someone I had strong feelings for.  Thinking about how much I wanted to kiss him, I couldn’t sleep at night.  Finally, the moment came after the texts, the dates, the standing close together.  We were lying on my bed, holding hands.  “Can I kiss you?” he asked, sweetly and with his light brown eyes so earnest.  “Yes!” I wanted to shout.  “Yes!  You can definitely kiss me!  Please do!”  But hey, baby steps.  “Uh huh” I said, and leaned in.

Be mine?

There’s no occasion more fitting for the inauguration of this blog than Valentine’s Day.  No other holiday throws into such sharp relief the plight of the perpetually single.  Nothing punctuates our misery like watching everyone else receive roses and chocolates and decide what to wear to the expensive dinners their significant others are paying for.  None of us can plan on anything more exciting than a million replays of “Fuck and Run” by Liz Phair, a good cry, and a hangover.

Don’t get me wrong—I am not the type to go around on V-Day pretending there isn’t anything special going on while simultaneously wearing all black as a sign of mourning.  (Oh wait, I TOTALLY AM.)  But honestly, there is something kind of satisfying about it.  I can’t think of a better excuse to relive crushes, relationships, and dates good and bad while reading really, really depressing love poetry in the dark.  And if you’re like me, and did get a heart-shaped candy sampler from someone (thanks, Mom), you can even do it while stuffing your face with mini KitKat bars and handfuls of pretzel M&Ms.

I’m all for spending today reflecting on (grieving over) the loves of years past, and maybe even celebrating my personal highlight reel of Most Romantic Moments.  That time over spring break when we spent a week apart and he told me he missed me?  He didn’t exactly phrase it that way and he did tell me via text message, but still—SO ROMANTIC.  The night when we sat in the coffee shop and talked for three hours without running out of things to say?  THAT WAS THE BEST DATE EVER.  You get my point.

I’m a little bit perplexed, though, by this piece I came across recently, Mary Louise Parker’s “A Thank-You Note to Men” for Esquire.  (Sorry you have to browse through all those naked pictures of her to see the letter; but damn do I wish I looked like that in an apron.)  At first, I thought it was sweet, even kind of moving.  “To the ones who destroyed me, even if for a minute, and to the ones who grew me, consumed me, gave me my heart back times ten.”  I’ve so been there.  Right on, MLP.  Then I started feeling angry.  How unrealistic!  Where is the part where we talk about how annoying men are, how they leave the seat up and always forget your birthday?  I have taken it upon myself to do a re-write.

To the boys I love(d):

To the assholes who slept in my bed for weeks on end and never once offered to take me to a movie; to the douchebags who said they would call and never spoke to me again; to the idiots who only wanted to take off my clothes; to the cowards who didn’t have the nerve to kiss me in front of their friends; to the sensitive ones who wanted to cuddle but conveniently forgot to tell me that they “weren’t ready” until it was too late; to the players who thought that making out was a suitable contribution to a serious relationship talk; to the jerks who used to text me all day long and now won’t look me in the eye—someday I’m going to forget about you.  Someday I will forget about you, how you broke my heart and didn’t look back.  But I hope I never forget what you taught me, things you didn’t even know you were teaching.  Things I don’t want to unlearn.  How when you called me some dumb petname like “babygirl,” or told me I was pretty, that I was sexy, I really felt that way.  How waking up next to you never ceased to thrill me, was almost holy, even though we both had bad breath and my eye make-up was smeared down my face.  How if I was lucky the pillow would still smell like you the next night.  How when we held hands I never wanted to let go, how certain songs reminded me of you.  Your gray t-shirt, so soft to sleep in.  What it felt like just to know that I had you, that I would see you again, that it was possible to care so much.  What it felt like to lose you and to realize, eventually, that even without you all was not lost.  If I am thankful for anything, it’s that because of you I am capable of waiting.  I am capable of hoping that next year on Valentine’s Day I won’t be thinking of you at all.

On that note, happy wallowing!