Friday, March 28, 2008

Guest Writer Series: Drop Add

The Guest Writers series features the works of people who a. have fantastic, applicable thoughts and b. asked for works to be posted. It was developed in the name of democracy, actually having new posts, and Erin Taylor.

My mom has this healthy obsession with buying things, changing her mind and then returning them days or even fashion seasons later. Clothes, shoes, rugs – and once, even a sparkly tiara. You name it, the woman has returned it.

The beauty of commercial returns is that no one gets hurt. It’s as if there’s a non-verbal agreement between you, the store, and the absurd tiara, that allows you to take a chance and maintain the option of a charge (and guilt-free) return.

In college, we referred to this concept of experimentation without formal commitment as “Drop Add.” The scheme was simple but brilliant. At the beginning of each semester, you could enroll in whatever courses you wanted, go to a few classes, check the teacher for any annoying mannerisms or verbal inflections, scan your fellow classmates for potential new loves or more importantly any past flames, and of course read the syllabus to see if you were even interested in the subject.

Some students used Drop Add in the way that it was intended; sampling classes before settling on an optimal schedule and academic path. The rest of us saw Drop Add as a divinely granted “grace period” – an extension of summer or winter break that allowed us to enjoy all the pleasures of college life without any college. No homework, no commitments.
I’m three years into “post grad” life and I’ve decided that in the real world, there are no carefree Drop Add periods. Examine for a moment the three biggest decisions we make as 20-nothings. Job. Dating. Apartment. At any given time, at least one of these is in flux. You accept your dream job only to realize that you hate accounting and have an unexplainable desire to work with disabled children in Tibet. Or you meet a nice guy on the train, go on a few dates but soon realize you’re “just not that into him”, and then have to prematurely call it quits either in phone or via email (depending on your thoughts about relationship karma). We all have apartment debacles, [insert yours].

But if jobs, boyfriends and apartments came with Drop Add periods, we’d have the freedom to take more risks, test our options and make guilt-free returns. But in real life, when you abruptly drop your job, relationship or apartment, someone always gets hurts. There are no credit card refunds or store credit - only emotional consequences.

My best friend and I recently crossed the “more-than-friends” line (which in hindsight looks more like the Grand Canyon). Everything seemed to be going well until one day he hit me with the “I can’t do this anymore” line, which led to the dissolution of our relationship and inevitably the friendship too. To add to my heartbreak, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the reason I’d been “dropped” was because there was someone else he wanted to “add.” And scene.

So now I find myself unexpectedly at the beginning of a new semester in my 20-nothing life. I have the option to say “screw it”, accept the hand I’ve been dealt, and head to Mary Ann’s on a Tuesday night.

Or I can dabble a bit, explore my options, and maybe sign-up for something I would have never imagined trying.

-Erin Taylor

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Top 10 Things We Cannot Do

Being an adult is hard. Very hard in fact. There’s taxes and rent and cleaning your own bathroom and not sleeping with ex boyfriends and figuring out if/when to add new favorites to your Facebook profile. They warned us about this stuff, and they were right. It’s not easy.

Still in all the stresses of life-without-parents, there’s a select list of tasks/responsibilities/social goals that most of us can’t seem to master. None of it is rocket science, but for whatever combination of laziness, confusion or just plain we- don’t-want-to, we can’t get it together. Here, briefly though with ample sarcasm, are the Top Ten most difficult things for us so-called adults to handle – according to me.
  1. Thinking of ourselves and also others (being defined as one or more people who are not ourselves) at the exact same time. We can think of ourselves – expertly. And we have, once or twice before I’m sure, thought of others, but combining the two seems to be our Goliath. This is a piece of the Herculean struggle that is thinking of others before thinking of ourselves, but frankly that’s too hard and so just not fair to include in this list.
  2. Drinking alcohol and not trashing people. Self explanatory, well researched, and completely impossible.
  3. Being genuinely happy for people in really wonderful, stable, good-looking relationships. It’s not that we can’t express happiness towards these people. That we’ve got covered. It’s that we cannot actually be happy for them. We’re not proud, but we’re not changing.

  4. a. Brushing our teeth without getting little flecks of toothpaste stuck inside the sink.
    b. Removing said SO GROSS flecks of toothpaste if/when this happens. Why the fuck is this?
  5. Budgeting our money. In my case it’s because I don’t add or subtract well and really like both vodka and shoes. We all have our different reasons. Bottom line – we have zero willpower and 1-3 credit cards.
  6. Refusing free drinks. This relates to the above. Free drinks are to today what Jolly Ranchers were to our 3rd grade lunch table. Gold. We will change any plan, complete any project, and schmooze with any asshole in pursuit of drinks we do not have to pay for.
  7. Letting go of first loves – legitimate or ridiculous. We’ll stop talking to them, and we’ll make every effort to stop talking about them, but in the presence of our closest friends, too much alcohol, or the actual person – we are putty. Older people claim this will improve with time, but on Easter Sunday I watched my 50-year-old mother become a blubbering idiot after bumping into her high school boyfriend at church. I’m not buying it.
  8. Being 100% honest about what we actually do at work. Whether we over exaggerate it, down play it, or flat out lie about it – unless the answer is as simple as “I teach third grade” or “I am a professional baseball player” – we don’t explain it right.
  9. Flirting in a social, professional environment with a client, colleague, or person of close periphery to either. Normal bar/drunk rules do not apply. Our boss is usually in the room. We still can’t quite figure out if it could get us fired. Too many X factors, work nerves, and alcohol. Trouble.
  10. Reading and/or understanding the newspapers – online and/or in print – every day. We have a very good handle on the "Top 10 Ten Emailed Stories of the Week" as well as anything someone posted that pops up on our News Feed. Anything else is a mystery.
Let's commit to working on the above. Yes I know it's hard. But we've developed the ability to find anyone and the last two people they dated on the Internet in less than 7 minutes - the least we can do is whipe off the fucking toothpaste and check our bank account from time to time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

To choose a choice.

I’ve decided there are too many ways one can live one’s life. Too many versions of career and lifestyle, non traditional and traditional, close to home and world traveling and cause-focused and family centered and totally moral and complete whore. Just too many choices.

I started thinking about this the first day I couldn’t finish a day’s work and a blog post. By the sixth day I was convinced – life choices are limiting. An obvious fact, but frustrating none the less . It reminds me of that day Senior year when Carly realized she’d never be a Laker Girl. We were watching something on TV – presumably a Lakers game. The girls finished doing their half time thing and a wash of disappointment passed over Carly’s face. “Wow,” she said, “I guess I’ll never be a Laker Girl. I guess I missed that chance, huh? I’ll probably never be an Olympic gymnast either. Huh. Wow.” It’s not that she ever wanted to be a Laker Girl - it’s just the realization that when you choose a road – less traveled or otherwise – you’re headed indefinitely in that one direction, not the other.

I really started thinking about this because I have a job that requires a good deal of commitment. It’s not a j-o-b job, it’s an investment job - the kind of job that consumes your life but you do it because you A. believe in what it accomplishes B. believe in what in will help you accomplish C. believe it’s really worth the money or D. (but this is rare) all of the above. Mine is A. and a little of B. but mostly A. right now because I have no idea what I’m actually trying to B. (HA). C, not so much.

When I think about what choices lead me to this 16-hour-a-day investment opportunity I’m confused – not confused like I was blacked out when I made them, confused like they don’t seem as deliberate as I envisioned my major life choices being.

I left my first job working in PR at (a wedding website) because I was miserable working in PR and among weddings (but mostly the latter). I ended up in PR because I was miserable in living at my parent’s house and assisting a fashion designer (but mostly the former). I didn’t really have career goals in the traditional sense. I had career likes: to write, to work in a creative environment, to interact with interesting brands doing innovative things. Loose career goals. I had fairly definitive life goals: to live in Manhattan, to work in media, to expertly run along cobble stone streets in heels, to attend events where martinis were free. Tight though bizarre life goals. I wouldn’t say I made choices willy nilly, but I didn’t exactly choose something off the high school guidance counselor pick list (for the record, the multiple choices test pegged me as a librarian – hysterical considering I cannot whisper and do not understand anything involving decibels).

But again, I started thinking about this because right now I’m surrounded by filmmakers. I’m spending my 16-hour-a-day days building an event that’s primary purpose is to help people who’ve made a very specific choice realize the dream which prompted that choice. They don’t have j-o-b jobs either – they have passion work. They don’t make films. They are filmmakers. Like artists and writers. I’m committed to my job because I want to succeed, do well, progress, and feel confident. They’re committed to their work because they can envision no other way to lead the one life they’ve been given. They made a choice. I chose a few things that dropped me in this current place. Sure I’ll eat PB&J for a month if it means living in this city and affording clothes from the vintage shop across the street. Yes I sometimes miss friend’s birthdays because I have to work so late. I sacrifice things for the choices I’ve made – choices that I’m glad I’ve made. But I’m not pursuing a passion. Every step I take is not toward the goal of getting my next film made. I’m guided by my passions, definitely, but I’m not pursuing one passion – one singular goal against which all decisions are evaluated. That’s one very specific way to lead one’s life.

I realized after all this thinking that I’m jealous of the filmmakers. They made a choice and now every choice they make is driven by that thing they believe in more than any other thing. To me, that’s one enviable way to live one’s life.

Me, I’m still looking for my ultimate choice, if there even is one. But in the meantime I figure I may as well help them with theirs, while running down cobble stone streets in my heels – on the way to free martinis.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Social actuaries in consumer dating culture

A career-focused, cynical post after a job-draining, thoughful week. 5 weeks until the Festival...

I took this course my freshman year of college called Shop ‘Til You Drop. It was, despite its name, taught by the well-known, social economist Juliet Schor. The class took a surprisingly in-depth look at modern American consumerism - purchasing patterns, consumption trends, value and status as it applies to goods. Not quite what the 75 girls in matching Polo polos were expecting…

I remember this especially riveting lecture on risk vs. reward – a study on the thought process people go through before making big investment purchases -- purchases that cause a set-back in day-to-day living but offered high return after time: first house, new car, adopted child.

My main immediately jumped to relationships. Risk vs. reward. Impact on day-to-day. Decision fear. Compared to picking a signficant other, new cars are cake.

The thought crossed my mind again this week after a certain conversation. “We have to be social actuaries,” the friend said. “We have to really weigh the risks.” They say finding that special someone is a numbers game – apparently deciding whether or not to keep them is too.

First, back to BC.

BC was a hot bed of consumption – and not just of the product variety. We bought up campus clubs and weekend retreats with the same ferocity as Vera Bradly bags and supplies for the ultimate Beirut table. We knew no moderation but were still methodical in our purchasing. Each acquired good was intentional and part of a greater image, need, or plan (I’m expounding – stay with it).

After that Shop ‘til You Drop lecture it dawned on my that our relationships – or lack there of (hhmm) – were another piece of this consumption game. With that background and my current NY life I've developed a theory:

In our over-achieving, 21-century, children of the '90s bubble, we are so conditioned to assess risk vs. reward that we've come to function romantically through that lens. We acknowledge that a relationship is a risk - a risk we treat as one additional element in our climb to "success" – conventional or otherwise. We weigh it just like a job/education/activity: is this worth an investment of my time and self? What will I gain vs. lose? To what degree can I guarantee the success or failure of this endeavor? How many perks are involved?

BC was a playground for this – a place full of people raised to focus on careers, dreams, goals – themselves. We were overachievers in every area but love (aaww). Post grad life, from what I’ve seen in Manhattan, often follows suit.

We've stopped valuing an investment in love because we're too focused in all our other investments. Stopping to focus on love might knock us off our track to the top. That combined with the fact that admitting our focus is love or relationships seems trite in this day-and-age. We don't value it personally because we don't value it societally.
And to take it one step further – we’re not used to failing. "We" being a fair percentage of career-focused, future-orientated, 20-somethings. We know what we want and we go get it. We rise to the top. We form clubs and then make them succeed. Risk failing in a relationship – no thank you. That might make us feel inadequate and confused. Frankly, we don't have time for that.

It’s more an observation than a criticism. I do it chronically. And I do wonder, when it's all said and done, which instincts are smarter to trust: studied consumer logic or the x factor that is love?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

To trust the crush

Sometime between the end of high school and the beginning of today we stopped saying “I have a crush on.” I can’t remember the last time I heard it. I’m not sure if it was replaced by “I’m saying I like like him” or the very mature “you guys, I think I have feelings for her” – but somewhere, it dropped off.

I consulted my 14-year-old sister. She claims the last time she heard it was 7th grade. “So what are people saying now then?” I asked. “I can’t say it right now,” she said, “Mom’s in the room.” (Damn you Jamie Lynne Spears!)

I think this leaves us with a considerable verbal void. If not a crush, then what? I really like him? I’ve got such a thing for her? This one’s more than just a hook up? Doesn’t quite express those unreasonable first-feelings based on nothing but quick conversation and Facebook pictures.

Sure you like a crush, but not for reasons based in logic or studied evidence. It’s not “I have such a crush on him with that Roth IRA and stable family background – ugh I’m a sucker for that.” It’s dangerous intangibles – the way she makes the joke you wish you were fast enough to make, or how by the time the night is over he’s friends with the entire bar. Not quite qualities to build a life around. Non-sensible, totally hateable things like that that if you told them to your best friends, they’d laugh at you and then go home and cry themselves to sleep.

Maybe that explains where the crush went. Maybe we stopped using the terms because it’s so god damn embarrassing -- because we got tired of people giving us the look of death when we said, “Oh I don’t know – I guess it’s the way he looks when he drives. Really commanding and yet comfortable but still all in charge, just totally relaxed, you know?” It’s hard to take seriously. “Oh the way he drives – you know I was really worried about his history of drug abuse and three year old kid, but I didn’t know about the driving thing. I totally see it now.”

We grew up, got burned a few times or did some burning, and somewhere between realizing all actors are dangerous all bankers are assholes, figured out the devil is in the details and the husband is in the stats. We don’t trust the crush – probably because we can’t explain it. And much like religion and/or LOST, when we don’t understand something we either ignore it or make up something that we do understand.

We don’t trust feelings we can’t make sense of. We don’t want to hear ourselves say, “I know it’s crazy, and it’s probably never going to work out, but there’s something there, and I just can’t explain it.” We, George Bush and Big Brother 8 aside, are people of logic and order. We leave inexplicable attraction to nations that take a siesta every day - they have time for that shit.

We still have crushes – regardless of what we call them. But on the whole I think we aren’t comfortable pursuing something when all we’ve got is the crush. When we can’t really define what it is that’s behind the feelings we blindly assume they’re wrong – that we’re wrong. Isn’t that just it? If the crush is the universe’s way of guiding us in some direction (stay with me, I will in no way reference that crap book The Secret) then calling its bluff is our way of out-smarting ourselves. We say to ourselves, if I can’t explain it, it must be wrong so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead. It’s logical, it just might not be correct.

I recently told someone that I had a crush. I didn’t at all mean to say it. The friend was asking questions, and I was trying to come up with logical, convincing answers and as she grew more and more confused I just said, “I don’t know – I just have a huge crush on him.”

“Oh my god,” she said, “that’s so sweet. But is that all though?”

Maybe it is.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Re-writing opening Lines

You meet someone at a bar. Chances are it happened one of three ways: He sidled over and gave you a random but acceptable line (“hey, is that a vodka soda you’ve got there, or a vodka tonic?”). You danced around him until you were essentially dancing with him (watching this happen is among life’s greatest joys). Or someone introduced you two (meaning you don’t technically have to say “we met at a bar” - lucky). From there it generally proceeds as follows:
  • “So what brings you here tonight?”
    (Pray you don't hear 21st birthday, my bachelorette party, or high school graduation)
  • Nice. I’m here with my (insert an acceptable friend or colleague group).
  • “Do you live in the city?”
    (Focus on maintaining normal facial expressions in the event you hear: No, I’m in from LA. Nope, with my parents in Jersey. Or which city?).
  • “Oh great, where abouts?”
    (At this point anything below 126th is acceptable – just smile and nod)
  • “Nice I (insert comment praising or insulting neighborhood based on desire for future conversation/ass) there once/all the time/today.”
  • “And what do you do?”
    (The wild card. Run through your list of deal-breaker professions and hope for the best)
  • “Gotcha, I (relate described job to someone you know/knew/make up) in that same industry. Very cool.”
    (Home free. Continue on with job-related small talk if acceptable compatibility is established or excuse yourself for the bathroom and never come back).
What is your name? Why are you here? What do you do? Where do you live? This is how 85% of all interactions in Manhattan begin. Why?

Logic would suggest these starter Q&A’s are our way of weeding people out. That from these basics we’ll be able to establish the massive dealbreakers. But will we really? When you break it down – it’s not the most telling info.
  • Name: The polite way to begin and the thing you’re least likely to remember
  • Reason for being there: Breaking the ice – forming common ground – you don’t know how else to start
  • Profession: Interesting no doubt, but still a one-three word answer that's really easy to lie about
  • Location: Maybe most important. Nobody wants someone completely GU
What are we really accomplishing here? If it's actually true what Oprah says - forgive me - since it's always true what Oprah says, then dating is a business. But are these interview questions our best strategy? Consider the following alternatives:
  • “So, how was your day”
    Simple. Direct. Open ended. Yes it’s a tiny bit Mom-at-the-dinner-table, but think of just how much info you get from that one simple question -- general demeanor, outlook on life, level of stress. Plus you come across as sensitive and thoughtful - bed points for you.
  • “Can you believe this (insert applicable NYC news topic that any intelligent individual should know about i.e. taxi cab strike, random Guilliani scandal, easy sports reference) situation?!
    A real winner. With this you procure relative intelligence, political sentiments, and ability to form an opinion. Conversation gold. Just pray the person doesn’t know way more about it than you do.
  • “Could you hold my drink while I run to the bathroom?”
    I’m not kidding. This may be the most direct indicator of whether or not the questioned party has any interest in you. Would you hold a drink for someone who you wanted to continue a conversation with? Yes. Would you if you didn’t? No. I rest my case. Right. Roofies. Well if you’re worried then don’t actually drink it when you get back. You can sacrifice one vodka soda for the potential love of your life.
Adapt as you will, but if it’s all about those first five minutes of chemistry assessment, why not mix it up a little with some queries that could really narrow it down? Then slowly but surely we could adapt to the point of asking the real questions we want answered:
  • How drunk are you?
  • Do you want to be in a relationship right now?
  • Are you now or have you ever been gay?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Modern Etiquette: How naked is too naked?

*A little levity from the heavy, relationship talk

Much like those mysteries of the universe, there are things we encounter etiquette wise that no one's quite written the rule on. Not like Emily Posts's guidance on wedding gifts and thank you notes. More like do you tell your boss who you wildly respect that you're unhappy and looking for a new job? Or, if you're at dinner with people who can all afford far more than you can, do you ask to split the bill by meal?

A(nother) new series: Modern Etiquette. Today's question: Is it ever okay to walk around naked in the gym locker room?

The funny thing about being naked at the gym (or really anywhere) is that it’s never 100% necessary. Nakedness is a choice - the choice to not take advantage of the options available to cover onesself (towels, robes, post-shower transitional clothing, tissues). For the purposes of this discuss we'll stick to pre and post shower nakeness (because any other nakeness is even less necessary.)

Unless you’ve simply forgotten a towel (which is possible but embarrassing given they’re everywhere) you’re naked in the locker room pre or post shower because you want to be. And everyone around you knows it. They know that there are towels and robes and clothing and tissues and that you’ve opted against them. Also, you have to dry yourself. So at some point in the process you were holding a towel.

Given this logic, I say prance with caution. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the naked body or that it’s offensive to others – it’s just that it’s weird. Given all the options, you’d rather be naked in front of other people. It begs the question – why? Why would you rather be naked in front of everyone? Yes, I know the towels are tiny, but if you can't be bothered to wrap just hold one up for crying out loud. Our privates are conveniently grouped in the front for your convenience.

Based on what I’m seeing out there, here are some common answers as to why, given all options available, you've decided on naked:

  • I ran into the shower and just forgot a towel: Fine, but did you really? Because there are towels outside the locker room and also towels inside the shower area, plus you had a towel with you the whole time you were working out, no?
  • I’m examining a mole that I recently found under my armpit and want to now check out up close because there are mirrors here in this locker room: Yeah. No. There are mirrors lots of other places and…you know what….just no.
  • I want to weigh myself without any clothes on: This is among the more legit rationales. Just make it quick. Also, do not walk from the shower to the scale dripping wet (and of course naked), weigh yourself, and then go find your towel to dry off and dress. A. you weigh more wet B. you’re dripping all over the floor and that’s just rude
  • In between taking off my clothes and putting on my work-out clothes I realized I have to go to the bathroom: Hold it.
Bottom line (pun intended) – think twice before you make your privates public. We know what’s up (again, intended) and we’re making assumptions that, in this case, just make an ass out of you.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Don't worry - girls are lame too

I’ve been hard on the guys these past few posts. Today, a little criticism for the other side:

Why is it that you never hear a woman say, “I picked this great guy up at this bar the other night.” Think about it – even just as it applies to yourself. It’s always, “I met this nice guy,” or “I talked to this really good-looking guy.”

Are women still rarely picking men up? After burning those bras, legitimizing pants suits and Hillary Clinton – are we still not making the first move? I don’t believe it. I’ve seen one-too-many vodka sodas nudged every-so-slightly closer to a nearby Stella. I think it’s happening all over, it’s just being re-told in a very specific way. And by specific I mean untrue.

On women and picking guys up: a hypothesis in three disjointed parts

Women are competitive with other women when it comes to dating. Really competitive. One would think that in this arena you’d get extra points for the pick up, that being fearless would equal cred among the home team. One would be logical, but wrong. This is not a team sport. It’s not women against men. It’s women against women. You get points for getting picked up because it makes you feared in the eyes of other women. It means you have that special something the rest of us can’t seem emulate -- or buy. But pick someone up, relay the story, and prepare to hear the following, “oh wow, you’re forward” (read: a whore) “I could never do that” (read: would never do that) “Nice work!” (read: since sadly you had to work for it). You’re that girl – that forward girl. Are other women secretly jealous? Maybe. Should they be impressed not annoyed? Yes. Will this truth make you more inclined to tell your tales of pick-up success? Probably not.

I’m afraid that in our heart of hearts – that place we only go to after years of therapy, bottles of vodka, or if our mother’s make us – we’d prefer to be picked up. We don’t want to have to pick guys up. Because with guys, the game is us against them. Make the first move and you’re up one guy but down one edge. And we all know what happens when you put the ball in his court. You overanalyze the shit out of that ball.

Did he really want to talk to me or was he just being nice? If he really wanted to talk to me why didn’t he make the first move? Does he think I’m just some power-hungry whore?

We don’t brag about it for the same reason we don’t brag about joining – we’re not actually that thrilled. We’re mostly terrified about what this means for our future with the Pick Up-ee and obsessed with what our Book Club might think about us.

So for the love of God, when will it end?! Maybe when we end it. Maybe the more we admit it happens the more normal it will become. Also probably the less we let underhanded comments from other women make us feel inferior the less they will. Still, it takes a village, and Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if you want something done you have to do it yourself, etc.

For now let’s try this: if you pick someone up tell someone you did it, proudly but without bragging. When they say, "wow, you're bold," you say, "it really wasn't that big of a deal. I just went over and talked to him." Then maybe they’ll do it and admit it and so on and so forth until we all cut the competitive crap and start focusing on going after what we want.

How exactly does one pick up a guy at a bar? I have no idea. I could never do that.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The People vs. The Facebook

Monday’s post prompted heated reactions.

The guys who reached out were uniformly obstinate. “Obviously it means he’s interested. I mean what more do you want?” And “You know it’s harder than you think to ask a girl for her number.” Also, “Some really confident guys are actually very self-conscious about approaching a girl.” Then finally “What’s wrong with the Facebook, girls use it too. Don’t make like girls don’t do the same shit.”

The girls were similarly in synch: “Yeah – no - lame.”

Guy friends told me I was being too harsh. Girl friends told me I wasn’t reading the writing on the wall. The guys: he’s just taking a little less forward approach. Girls: he needs to grow a set.

Apparently it really was a question for the ages. Problem is, both sides think they have the answer.

From the male camp it goes like this: Far too much is expected of guys simply because they are guys. They are actually far less confident, comfortable, and experienced in the delicate process of asking a girl for her number after meeting her (for the purposes of this argument we’ll stick to that scenario. Guy fears over asking a girl out that they know well are equally, if not more complicated. Check back Thursday.) In an effort to protect themselves they will gladly opt for the least direct approach to continuing their contact with girl. The Facebook is a God-send. They can sober up, think it through, and place the ball in girl's court until they develop a plan. Girl accepts – they move on to phase two. They find it to be simple, direct, and effective. Some even go so far as to say it’s better for everyone involved and that girls are just as uncomfortable fielding a phone number request as guysy are delivering one. Bottom line: they want to be as certain as humanly possible that the girl is not going to reject them. Facebook solves that. The defense rests.

The girls – bastions of understanding that they tend to be – don’t quite see it that way: They think it’s a cop out. They think guys in their 20s should be able to figure out how to ask a girl for her number. They acknowledge that it’s an easier, less risky, and less definitive move, and that’s exactly what they don’t like about it. They want the instant gratification of an in-person, evening-of request. They don’t want a guy to have to think about it for a while the next day. Because while he’s overanalyzing whether or not to reach out with the friend request she’s overanalyzing why he didn’t ask for her number after a fun time spent together. And it is a girls sole purpose to avoid scenarios that require over analysis (yes, I know it doesn’t seem that way). Bottom line: they want to be as certain as humanly possible that the guy really likes them. Facebook confuses that. The prosecution rests.

I see both arguments, even though one was originally my own. For reference the story that prompted Monday’s post worked out perfectly. But just as many examples have gone south. Sadly no absolute truth’s here.

Thus I propose a settlement with the condition of mandatory rehabilitation.

Guys: you can have the Facebook and call it legitimate, but please make your request within 24-48 hours of meeting girl so she can tell her friends things like, “see he must have totally regretted not asking me for my number because he friended me right away.”
Girls: you can cut the guys some slack and calm down with the judgment, but still tread lightly. If he doesn’t use the Facebook as the impetuous to begin normal contact (phone, email) you’ll need to start managing your expectations.

By way of rehab, both sides needs to rehearse the following conversation until it becomes natural.

Asker (Guy or Girl, this is 2008):
“Hey, it was great meeting you – we should do this again sometime.”

“That sounds great. Here’s my number. Give me a call.”

(This) case closed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lexicon: V1

I love words almost as much as I love avocados and boys who aren't afraid to wear purple. For today, as a diversion from male over-analysis - I've assembled a little modern-day Lexicon of the things we're saying (or should be) and the phrases that should be relegated to the ranks of "dang quesadilla."

  • Joaquin Phoenix - (n.) a term used to describe someone who is ugly beautiful. "No, he's not traditionally great-looking, but he's a total Joaquin Phoenix."
  • rex it - (v.) to barely eat for a period of time in an effort to shed lbs. "Big event on Saturday - will probably have to rex it until then."
  • Ford the river - (adv.) a reference from the early '90s educational computer game Oregon Trail. To take the harder though more respectable route. "I think you're going to need to ford the river on this one."
  • band-aid it - (adv.) derived from the popular Band Aid approach. To deal with something quickly and then not look back. "I need to band-aid this shit. She's getting too attached."
  • G.U. - (adj.) Geographically undesirable. Used to describe a person who lives further away than you're willing to deal with. "Amazing guy. Too bad he's completely G.U."
  • JimPam - (adj.) A non-relationship relationship where one person is in love with another who is tragically unaware or unavailable. In honor of the sweethearts from The Office. "Yeah I mean they're perfect for each other but it's completely JimPam."
  • R.D.T - (n.) Relationship defining talk. A serious talk used to shift the definition of a relationship. "We've been hooking up for four or five months. I think it's time for an R.D.T"
  • sexy eyes - (adj.) an impossible to describe though instantly identifiable "come hither" stare used by drunk people as a form of flirtation. "No, I didn't walk over there, but I gave him sexy eyes."
  • James Frey - (adv.) to add untrue though convincing details to a story. "I had to James Frey it a little to make it more interesting. No harm done though."
  • black out - (adj.) a derivative of the verb "to black out." To be very, very drunk. "Ugh I was so black out last night."
  • red state - (adj.) a political reference used to describe something that is particularly conservative, stuffy, or stick-up-the-ass. "Did you see Muffy's reaction when you told her about sleeping with Biff? She was soo red state about it!"
  • [insert word].com - (adj.) A form of exaggeration in which a random description is attached to the suffix .com. "That movie was!"
  • idk - (??) use of the now popular online abbreviation for "I don't know" as a spoken word. "Idk what her problem is, but she better back off."
  • totes obvi, totes rando - (compound adj.) - the combination of the commonly abbreviated "totes" (totally) with the commonly abbreviated "obvi" (obvious) or "rando" (random).
  • O-Bamb - (adj.) a positive exaltation derived from the name of Senator and Presidential-hopeful Barak Obama. "That shit's the O-Bamb!"

Monday, March 3, 2008

Today's mystery of the universe

There’s this whole list of things I can’t quite figure out. Not, like, the stock market or how some people still don’t accept homosexuality – not, like, mysteries of the universe. It’s more social things where the rules are unwritten. Like – what you’re supposed to do if you’re 100% certain your best friend shouldn’t marry the guy or if it’s okay to pursue a guy who has a girlfriend if he tells you it’s “totally over with her.” Things like that. Things that, I’ve found, no one’s really quite sure about. My weekend prompted one such thing.

I meet a guy with whom people who use the phrase “hit it off with” would say I “hit it off with.” I’m not one of those people. It’s like “I have a strong buzz going” or “I’m totally obsessed with.” Just don’t like the way they sound.

Guy and I converse exclusively, guy offers to purchase me a drink, and when it’s time to go get coats, guy accompanies me to coat check. Three pieces of fair evidence. There also may or may not have been a hand grasp. Not a hand hold – an intertwining of fingers lasting greater than 30-seconds and generally repeated throughout time spent together - a hand grasp – a quick-though-lingering, romantic-seeming touching of the hands generally occurring prior to one person entering or exiting the area or in cases where dancing is involved. So maybe four pieces.

For various reasons guy and I part ways. We don’t, as expected, exchange numbers. I wasn’t feeling particularly forward, and who knows what guy was thinking. All fine and well. Stranger things have happened.

The next afternoon I open gmail to a Facebook friend request from guy. Enter thing I can’t quite figure out.

Has the friend request replaced the phone number exchange as the first point of contact? Is it a sure sign of interest? A next step? I asked around. No one knows.

This particularly scenario really tested the issue.

How could guy be so certain I even had a Facebook account? Were guy’s feelings about me undecided enough such that he was fine dropping it if I didn’t have a facebook account? Did I at some point tell him I had one? And if so, did knowing I had one and that he could reach me via that less forward first move change his entire strategy? Did he first think “nah, probably don't want to see her again”, then think more about it later and decide, “hey, maybe.” Did he first think maybe and then figure a little Facebook stalking would get him to yes or no?

Endless unknowns. I tried to determine how a Box Car child or Angela Landsbury in Murder She Wrote would deal with the situation. So I put on overalls and made a list of things I knew for certain in a British accent.
  1. Following our interaction, guy’s interest in me was greater than 0.
  2. Nothing negative occurred during our interaction such that guy’s interest was of a malicious nature. He likely did not friend me to later hurt/sabotage me in any way.
  3. Guy remembered my first and last name sober. Or at least exactly what I look like.
  4. Guy is, himself, on Facebook
But with every certainty came even more questions:

Should guy’s choosing the friend request over the number exchange be a deal breaker? Should he have waited the requisite three days commonly applied to phone number exchange before making the friend request? Should he have left a message with the friend request like he’d have to if his first contact was via text? Do I leave a message if and when I confirm?

I have no answers, no matter what accent I use. For now it remains one of the great quandaries of our time. I decided to let it go, appreciate his thought, and confirm the request, regardless of its meaning. Maybe while I’m at it, I thought, I should friend that great guy from Saturday afternoon. If only I could remember his first and last name or exactly what he looks like...