Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fall for the wrong guys? Don't worry, it's because of birth control

For the past 20 years (I wasn’t interested in boys until kindergarten) I have been blaming my inability to meet the right guys on a whole host of issues. They are all dumb, I am sometimes confusing -- they can’t get their acts together, I am sometimes intimidating -- they don’t know what they want, I flirt weird.

Right. So maybe just two issues, but they’re like onions these issues - layered.

Apparently I was wrong. Apparently it’s all birth control’s fault.

According to a recent study out of the UK published in a CBS News article, being on birth control screws with our ability to choose the right mates.

Confusing story short: People end up, long term, most compatible with people who have opposite genetic constructs. Not like blondes end up happiest with brunettes – it’s confusing, science, inside-the-body stuff. This genetic construct is called one’s MHC and it is detectable through smell. Women smell men’s sweat and are generally attracted to sweat belonging to men with MHC’s opposite them – aka good mates for them. Interesting, but not important. The important/scary-as-shit part is that when on the pill, women shift toward being attracted to men with MHC's more similar to theirs – aka the wrong men for them.

Why does this happen? Too complicated. The article explains it, sort of.

Why is this the biggest problem you've ever heard in your whole life? Because it means we're now both mentally and genetically screwed. If we choose to be on the pill we are further tampering our own admittedly challenged ability to meet the right guys. As if it wasn't bad enough to begin with.

And what happens when a woman on birth control marries a man she was, genetically, falsely attracted to? According to the study lead, “Marriage counselors who have never heard about these studies tell [me] that the No. 1 complaint among women no longer sexually interested in their husbands is that they can no longer stand how he smells.”

Right, that makes sense. Fuck, that makes sense!

But not to worry. The study has a totally valid solution.

" 'A woman's response to a man's natural body odor will be colored by her feelings for him," [it] says. 'So if you fell in love with a man online, it would be hard to be repelled by his smell.' "

Oh, okay then. So as I see it this leaves us with three options:

  • Forgo the pill. Pray for no breakage. Meet your correct man and live happily ever after. Of course meet Mr. Right and end up pregnant and you’ll be in couple’s counseling for entirely different reasons.
  • Stay on the pill and shift entirely to online dating. Just watch out for guys who don’t want you to shave under your arms.
  • Find a guy with no sweat glands so you end up happy or not for an entirely different set of random reasons.
Maybe the study is wrong. It was conducted in the U.K., afterall. Maybe this is just some weird ploy to fuck with Americans so we’re rendered too freaked out to run our nation and can be re-taken over.
Yes, that’s probably it. Phew. Glad we cleared that up, because I was about to absolutely and completely lose my entire mind.

Close call.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A life lesson from a Swede

Last night a Swedish man taught me a lesson.

No. Ew. Not that kind of lesson.

I was out with friends for a drink or four at The Spotted Pig. It was, like always, a weird mix of people sporting hard-to-place accents and clothes that look vintage but are not.

I had just been to the impossible-to-get-used-to co-ed bathroom (Ally McBeal-style, not single stall) where I met a man who claimed to be the piano player at the Waldorf Astoria. True story.
  • Me: Oh, sorry, I’m in the way of the hand dryer
  • Liberachi: It’s fine actually – I’m not supposed to dry my hands with those.
  • Me (taking the bait): Hmm, why’s that?
  • Dude I’m in the bathroom with: Well I’m a piano player and that air is bad for my skin
  • Me: Interesting, makes sense. Where do you play?
  • Probable liar: The Waldorf (sticks out wet hand for shake), Astoria. I’m Marcus.
  • Me (I mean…): Right. Did you want a towel? I’m standing in front of those too…
After that I needed another drink, so I walked over to the bar and started shuffling my way through to get the ‘tender’s attention. I can’t recall what kind of look I had on my face at the time. Probably some combination of I’m drunk/god I want a burger/I wonder how Hillary’s speech is going/do I switch to beer now or stay vodka straight through/Fuck these uncomfortable shoes. Whatever it was, it didn’t come across as welcoming to the Swede standing next to me.
  • Male version of Claudia Schiffer: What is this look you have?
  • Me: What, huh, me, oh, hi, what?
  • Him: You know flies are caught with sugar.
  • Me (seconds from getting the bartender’s attention, finally): Huh? Oh. No, I think it’s actually honey.
  • Him: Hah. There it is again. This bad aura.
  • Me: Did you just insult my aura?
  • Him: I’m Nick from Sweden. And I just think if you looked happier you would do better.
  • Me: Mmm. I’m Jessie from here. And do better at what?
  • Him: Attracting men
Huh, I thought. Constructive criticism on my skills at attraction in real-time from an un-biased observer. ]
The writer in me found this interesting. He had a point. Smiling people seem happy, full of life, and inviting. But it was his citizen Hitch approach that interested me most. What if people just did that? Just walked up to other people when they saw bad behavior and provided helpful suggestions for improvement.

“Hi, I couldn’t help but notice you trying to get that girl’s attention by telling very loud, bad jokes. I’d like to recommend you instead walk over and ask her if she’d like another drink. Also please lower your voice.”

And while we’re at it why not throw in little verbal gold stars here and there to let people know they’re doing a great job.

“Excuse me. I just wanted to let you know that they way you boldly walked over to that group of guys and asked the one if he was a Twins fan was really excellent. Good use of context clues considering the Twins hat and expert segue with the fact that your Dad is from St. Paul. You're an inspiration to us all.”

Bars could be like happy places of learning and growing through helpful lessons and well-positioned praise – like mini kindergartens but with alcohol and breasts.

Then the girl in me kicked it.

  • Me: Well I’m not trying to attract men right now, however if I was, the ones I would be looking to attract would want me for who I truly am, and, further, would see my two second not-even-really-a-frown frown as a sign of character. Plastic smiles are for Los Angeles and, apparently, Sweden.
  • Him: You are just like all girls from New York.

So maybe we’ll just go with the verbal gold starts thing…

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cliff's Notes: Why Girls Go For Assholes

As promised, Cliff's Notes/Barrons for the longer posts.

Below: Why Girls Go for Assholes.

-They don't know they're assholes
-They'll take any kind of attention they can get
-They like a challenge
-They think they can fix them

Four theories. Three dislaimers. Lots of assumptions that make girls look not-so-great. But, in fairness, the basis of the post is that a lot of guys are assholes.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Why Girls Go For Assholes

By very popular demand – an expose on the age-old question of why girls go for assholes. A fact everyone acknowledges but no one understands -- sort of the like the solar system.

The below attempts to explain why girls respond to assholes in social settings. It does not address why girls stay in relationships with assholes that treat them terribly. That’s for Oprah to handle.

Below are current theories, thanks to the help of The Board - and my first year out of college

  • The "Strong Man" Theory

  • Ask a girl if girls always go for assholes and they’ll say, nooo we do not! Ask a guy and they’ll say, yeah, what the fuck is with that?! So the first issue may in fact be that girls don’t know an asshole when they see one while guys can spot a member of the doucheoise from his FB profile picture. A helpful guide identifying areas of confusion:

    - Arrogance - masquerades as confidence
    - Sleaze – can look, at first glance, like charm
    - Chronic competitiveness – may appear as strength
    - Lying cheater – often posing as an amazing guy

    Yes society has drawn a fine line between what a man is supposed to be: successful, strong, and commanding and what an asshole usually is: a consescending, not-nice braggart. In the female’s evolutionarily-driven search for the manliest man she can find, pieces of asshole are bound to slip in. It’s chafes to argue that our attraction to guy-burping-Alphabet is based in our belief he will best provide for our bear cubs, but apparently that’s (a piece of) what’s up.

    So where are those shining examples of kindness, respect, and chivalry with that hot element of edginess we all want? Not hanging out with assholes (and the girls who adore them). Right.

  • The Low Attention / No Attention Theory
    A variation on the low wages is better than no wages theory. For some girls negative attention is better than no attention at all. When starved for contact, some may take whatever appears to be presenting itself – positive or negative. So if, “I see you’re one of those always-on-a-diet girls that just drinks vodka soda’s huh? (wink)” is the first “line” you’ve heard in months – it may sound to you like, “hey, let me buy you that delicious-looking drink. Mmmmm vodka – my kinda girl. My name is Matt, by the way.”

    Yes, insults are some guys’ way of flirting. No, they are never, ever great guys. Think of all the greatest guys you know. Envision them insulting a girl to get her attention. Right. Playful and insulting are two very different things. Now the next time some guy says to you, “nice dance moves – is that your best impression of Elaine?” and your first thought is, mmmm who’s this hottie??…please instead turn to him, say, “disrespect will get you no where!” (finger-pointing optional) and walk yourself to the nearest therapist.

  • Girls Like A Challenge (fact, not theory)
    Emily put it best. “As cliche as it is, there's something about the whole thrill of the challenge.”

    Weak girls go for assholes because they like the attention in any form. Strong girls go for assholes because they like the game in any form. It makes us feel powerful, competitive, and equal - even if, and sometimes more-so if, we don't want him. It is admittedly always fun to have to work for it – to take part in that delicate tango of whit and banter that signifies this person wants to play and is probably good in bed (I don’t know why we assume this, but we do). Again, evolution -- that whole chase thing.

    Where we get into trouble is if our competitiveness outweighs our logic. When we want to win for winnings sake but forget to consider what we’re winning. It’s this mentality that leads to regretful mornings and very large stuffed animals you have to carry around the park for the rest of the day.

    In this scenario girls are foolish, but well-intentioned.

  • The Only-I-Can-Break-Him slash Our Own Secret World Theory
    At its core: girls like to solve problems because it makes us feel good, look impressive, and have a stack of “solutions” indebted to us. Applied to assholes: if he’s an asshole he has problems and needs reform. If I can help him reform I’ll a. prove he really really likes me (worth it’s weight in gold slash abuse) and b. make him indebted to me and my Dr. Drew-like ways. All I have to do is work to unlock his potential and then fix him so he sees non-asshole behavior is better than asshole behavior and will love me forever. Says one board member, “And if he chooses to not be an asshole only to me (even for short periods of time), I feel like I have something he gives no one else. So in turn, he must see something in me that is unique, and so we are even further bonded.”

    So it has nothing really to do with the asshole and everything to do with the girl. Yes it is evidence of all sorts of issues, but that’s not what this post is about.

    Emily adds the clincher, “It’s because it's dramatic. It's an epic love story in which emotions are torrid and for awhile it seems as though in the end everything will work out. Except it never does.”

    In this scenario girls are sick, but you can at least follow the logic – if you’re a girl.
Remaining issues:
  • Sometimes girls just want to get laid and assholes are really easy to figure out/go home with
  • Further, Really drunk girls will go for most guys. Get in there
  • And there are actually instances where we all huddle up, pick an asshole, and have a little fun messing with him for the greater good of humanity. Sorry if this is confusing. We'll work on some sort of hand signal for, "I'm actually in a relationship but just fucking with this asshole so he won't ruin the night for my single friends. Apologies for any confusion."

One could make the argument that if girls stopped responding to assholes then guys would stop behaving like assholes but that’s a. never going to happen and b. would make it even harder to find the diamonds in the drunk. Sort of like if all guys wore uniforms. Convenient, but then how could you tell who's wardrobe consists of concert T's?

Sex and the Olympic City

We're not the only ones who used the Olympics as an excuse to hook up. Apparently the 16,000 athletes were hip to the trend too...
"Last night thousands of young men and women with the most fit, toned bodies in the world mingled for the last time before they fly home. What might they get up to?"
*back to real posts tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Things 20-Something New Yorkers Hate On

Our us-against-the-universe schtick is well-rehearsed now that we’re (more than) a couple years out of college. It contains “disguised” bragging (“So I had this work event for the cast of SNL at The Box the other night and the food was awful”), “careful” lying (“Can’t go to the Barney’s Warehouse Sale this month because I’ve decided to invest more in my 401K”), and rather advanced conniving (“Is this the ESPN table? I’m supposed to meet my clients for a drink. Oh, it isn’t? Shit – I need to find them and let them know we locked LeBron for the event next week. Hhmm…where are they?...I’m sorry, what? Stay here for one drink? Well that’s nice of you. I really need to get to them… but how about I come back over if I can’t find them? Be a doll and save me some vodka [wink]”

Of course cornerstone to our routine is the well-refined list of stuff we hate on – the things we, as 20-something New Yorkers (sorry, this one's location-centric) have collectively deemed annoying, worthless, and – let’s be honest – below us. It’s not pretty but, besides Christy Brinkley’s 50-year-old face, nothing true ever really is.

The concept of suburbia with its cookie-cutter, safe for kids, mall-shopping inhabitants goes against everything we poor, anti-cars, who-needs-a-backyard New Yorkers believe in. Drive for a decent cup of coffee? Over our barely-squeezed-into-our-4’x4’-bathroom-bodies. Plus dry cleaners store your winter clothes over the Summer for free negating the point of a house.

“It” bars on weekends

This is admittedly 5 years old but it works so well that we keep it around for sport:

  • Friend from city other than Manhattan: “So, should we go to some cool club tonight?!”
  • You: Oh my god no – it’s Friday! Those clubs are only good Monday through Wednesday. The weekends are so B&T , no one good goes out then.

Murray Hill
Murray Hill flies in the face of everything Manhattan stands for. It’s full of straight men and preppy girls drinking affordable beers in places predominantly featuring 80’s music that are conveniently located to the office and home. If that’s what we were after we would have stayed in Boston.


New Yorker’s hatred for LA runs so deep that we’ve placed Winter in our plus column, “I mean, how unnatural to not have four seasons – I could never live like that.” They’re plastic we’re organic. They sit in traffic, we ride air-conditioned among the true melting pot of our society. They drink, drive, and get caught – we drink, cab, and get ass. We don’t care that their apartments are twice the size of ours for 2/3rds the price – all the cool celebrities pick us and The Today Show is #1, always.

People who gawk at celebrities

Um can they not tell by the lack of blonde hair and smog that this is not LA?! Here we treat our celebrities with the decency and respect they deserve – we pretend not to see them, text all our friends we just did, and email GawkerStalker the second we can get to a computer.


We will sell our friend whose dad got her the Vogue gig up and down the river like a 5 cent whore – until we find a job posting for something at Conde that suits our fancy
“Hey lover – was soo excited to hear you got the Vogue gig – well deserved chica!! Also, just noticed a posting for something at Vanity Fair –wondering if your Dad could provide any career advice on that. Let me know. Drinks ASAP pah-lease!! XO”

Networking is not at all the same as nepotism.

See Murray Hill – add in traveling to New Jersey and bars that close at 2am.

Canal Street and everyone who goes there on purpose
If one more person softly whispers “for yooo – Gushi purse – 20 dollar” in my ear I’m going to knock over their entire table of $3 sunglasses and then take three pair for myself. Also – it is always 10 degrees hotter on Canal Street – tested fact.

People who refer to the subway lines by color
How do they not understand that the “blue” line is comprised of three trains - two of which are local, one of which curves from west to east, and the other an express that will take you from 79 to 125 without warning. This is not Paris – the letters here are written in English!!

When the rain shuts down the subway system

Two fold: it’s hard to hail the merits of your world-class city when rain is its transportation kryptonite. Also it pisses us off because we lose 75% of our salary to city taxes that apparently go to shit slash stadiums.

The one hour between 4:00 and 5:00 when it's hard to get a cab because the drivers are switching shifts
They are supposed to be available always and immediately. We cannot lose any grounding in our ever-waging war against LA.

Having a Blackberry from work
“Ugh, they can always get me on this thing. I just hate having it...but I had no choice,” we grumble as we check our gmail for the name of the bar, google search it, google map it, and blackberry message the link to our friends.

People who hate New York
We don’t really hate them, we just feel bad for them. But not everyone has what it takes to make it in the greatest city in the world: 3 to 5 credit cards, under-the-bed storage devices, and an expert ability to believe our own delicious lies.

Can you date outside your drinking zone and last?

It’s typically incompatibilities than end a relationship. She’s a Mormon, you’re a man. He’s a banker, you just got back from Peace Corp. She went to Notre Dame, you went to BC/USC/Georgetown/Michigan/Stanford/Villanova. This is not a revolutionary concept.

Heavy hitters tend to be religion, level of intelligence, and cheating style, but a few recent conversations (slash nights) have made me wonder how the issue of compatibility plays out on the alcohol front. People are quick to say, “I could never be with a drug addict” or “stoners are a deal breaker”, but where is the fine (crooked?) line drawn on the issue of libations? Can you survive with someone whose drinking tendencies are dramatically different than yours?

From my research and experience here are the issues:

One drinks, one teetotals (doesn’t)
Second to screaming babies on an airplane, being around drunk people when you are sober is the most excruciating thing known to modern man. The most fun-loving, totally non-judgmental, stay-out-‘til-5am sober people are a delight, but are not drunk. They don’t make drunk decisions or have drunk appetites or want to make out in the middle of the dance floor. They, unlike their drunk worse-half, can see the people around them. This relationship is fantastic for the drinker who essentially has a free body guard who sleeps with them (unlike a bodyguard you pay for and then sleep with), but it makes sober sally a custodian (if you vom)/lawyer (if you strip) and therapist (when you wake up guilt-ridden and poor). Also, why don’t they drink at all ever? There are 1-2 reasons that are legit and respectful and 2-4 that are giant red flags.

A binge drinker and a social drinker

Some people drink to enjoy a delicious beverage that happens to be alcoholic. Others drink to get drunk off whatever is available. Then there’s that selective set that drink and always get drunk because they don’t know how to stop enjoying a delicious beverage slash whatever is available. Parents and doctors call this set “binge drinkers”. I call them my friends.

Point being: there is a distinct difference between a drinker and someone who drinks. As it applies to a relationship, issues are as follows:

  • One person costs way more than the other person when out
  • One person remembers way more than the other person the next day
  • Alcohol affects some people’s performance in the boudoir – so if you’re the drinker and the guy that’s dick (pun intended)
  • People are judgmental about other people’s willpower. So you end up dealing with the whole, “I don’t understand what you can’t just enjoy 4 vodka sodas instead of 11” fight
  • Binge drinkers deny that they binge drink (and generally hate people who are judgemental) "First of all, it was 9 not 11, and because I unlike some people, know how to have a good time."
Both just drink a ton
Logic would suggest this has the greatest likelihood of success considering the issue is compatibility, but there a bit of that old “if a tree falls” adage going on. If neither person is ever really sober in a relationship – is it actually happening?

Both are sober
Aww – that’s sweet, but then how did they have sex for the first time?

Old habits die hard and drinking habits die harder, so to adapt the advertiser’s credo: Drink as you will, but try to relate responsibly.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Life Coach Finalists

There’s this woman who’s decided to live exactly as Oprah says for an entire year. And she’s not one of Oprah’s servants or Gayle King. She’s just a die-hard viewer who believes Oprah’s way is the right way to lead a happy life full of love, success, and money. Or, in her words, “I wonder, will I find bliss if I commit wholeheartedly to [Oprah’s] lifestyle suggestions?”

Yeah, I know.

This lady’s plan – as updated daily on her blog – is simple. Do anything Oprah says to do. So she watches Oprah every day and reads the monthly magazine cover to cover. If Oprah tells viewers that they must see “27 Dresses”, she sees it. If Oprah and her medicine man Dr. Oz tell people to drink more tomato juice, she drinks it. She also wears lots of slimming black, made an “Image” board to catalog her goals, and will vote for Barak Obama. I can’t decide what’s more concerning – that this woman is for real or that Oprah really has guidance for every aspect of life.

Will she succeed? Depends how you define that. She’s guaranteed a book deal, will for sure be a guest on the Oprah show, may end up with a column in O Magazine and, at the very least, will get major publicity for her yoga studio. So yes -- on a technicality, but whatever. There’s an article about her in the Sunday Styles Section of The New York Times, which would be enough for me.

But this freak got me thinking about whose advice I would follow for a full year. Who would be the best life coach on my path to bliss? Right now it’s a mixture of my parents and whichever friend tells me what I want to hear. But if it had to be someone famous, who would be my Oprah. Here are my finalists:

Debbie Phelps – loving, single mother who raised son to win most Olympic medals ever and show emotion. Dresses exclusively in smart, bold-print blazers.

Rev Run – if you’ve seen five minutes of Run’s House this should be clear. Excellent father, loving husband, brilliant business man, related to Russell Simmons, and came up with the name Rev Run.

Not Brittney Spears – might be difficult to approach it from the angle of doing the opposite of everything Brittney does, but it does seem like a fool proof way to not fuck up.

Alfred (Batman’s Alfred) – offers the confidence of a CIA spy with the kind of one-liner, meaning-of-life guidance that would render Oprah worthless. Also is a servant – major plus.

Kate Middleton – snagged Prince William. Must therefore have all the answers.

Bindi Irwin – coped expertly with tragedy and has established 5-year-old self with own wildlife programming empire worth billions. Looks great in khaki and has adorable accent.

Tina Turner – she’s like 70-something and has legs like that. Also overcame abusive husband and, reportedly, lactose intolerance.


Cliff's Notes: My Mom on modern dating progression

It's come to my attention that my posts are on long side of long. This seems very valid. From now on the long ones will come with Cliff's Notes so you can decide that you want to read the whole thing.

Today, in two sentences.

I think dating progression goes weeknight after-work drinks, weeknight late-ish dinner, weekend dinner and drinks, day-date, then no-plan plan. My Mom thinks I'm a freak.

For elaboration, see below.

(Thank you David).

My Mom on modern dating progression

I was talking to my Mom the other day about a date I’d recently been on.

I probably went on for five to ten minutes about the date details: where we went, what we ate, how he was great, blah blah. She listened intently-ish.

“Wait, when was this?” she asked, just as I was getting to the part where we shared a cab and he went out of his way to go by my place to drop me off – cornerstone example of Manhattan chivalry.

“Last Monday,” I said.

“A Monday?!” she squawked with the kind of tone reserved for reaction to a teenaged pregnancy. “Why would you go out on a Monday night?”

“Oh, no – not Monday night,” I said, “Monday after work.”

“Dinner right after work? So you couldn’t go home and freshen up or anything? That seems strange.”

“No no,” I said, “not dinner – just drinks. That’s what comes first -- weeknight, after-work drinks.”

That was the moment where I should have lied to end the conversation. “Oh, sorry, did I say Monday after work? I meant Friday at 8pm leaving ample time to go home, freshen up, not shave my legs just to be safe, and polish my chastity belt. Apologies for any confusion.”

Instead I spent 45 minutes trying to explain the common progression of dating in Manhattan – something I’m not even sure I understand – to a woman who once said, “I can’t imagine going out with someone who’s technically a stranger.”

Here are the highlights:

“So, see, first you arrange after work drinks because you don’t want to commit to dinner or waste a weekend night out if he sucks.”

“Jess, that’s awful. Shouldn’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?”

“No. I did the benefit of the doubt thing my first three years in Manhattan. I didn’t work out.”

“Ugh you have no faith in people.”

“That’s correct. Please stay focused.” (Mom rolls eyes) “Now the first, weeknight date can lead into dinner, but only if it happens naturally. If you choose to see the person again it is for later, weeknight dinner, i.e. Thursday at 8pm.”

“That seems late to eat dinner.”

“It’s actually early.”

“I don’t understand you people.”

“If by ‘you people’ you mean Manhattan then that’s fine - we don’t understand you either.”

(Eye roll #2)

“So after two successful weeknight dates you can move into a weekend drinks or dinner considering you’re past the just-drinks barrier.”

“Fine. And what time does this dinner happen?”

“Ideally you meet for drinks at one spot around 8:00 then move to a 9:30 dinner reservation.”

“Do you really need drinks before dinner?”

“Need is a really hard word to work with Mom. Let’s just leave it at, yes.” (She makes this indescribable sound she makes when she’s disgusted) “Aren’t you going to comment on how late dinner is?”

“No, I’m just pretending you said 6:30.”

“Ah. Smart move. So, with three good dates - one being over the weekend - down you can move on the elusive day date or the really promising no-plan plan.”

“Oh this is going to be good.”

“Mom your sass is not appreciated. I’ll continue. The day date is a plan to do something casual during the day that highlights an interest of one or both parties or takes advantage of a city-based event. Examples include checking out the new exhibit at the International Center of Photography because you enjoy photography and he enjoys you or meeting up at the Big Apple BBQ Festival because you both love meat. It’s significant because it represents the desire to spend hours you would otherwise be sleeping, shopping, cleaning, or at the beach with this new person.”

“Well that sounds really nice.”

“Yes – really nice but also really rare. Now the no-plan plan usually comes before the day-date but is no less significant. It represents that fact that you’re comfortable spending un-planned time together deciding on a plan.”

“I don’t understand this.”

(That same indescribable sound she makes when she’s disgusted slips out of my mouth. Fuck.)

“It’s like he says, ‘Let’s do something tomorrow night. Why don’t you come to my place and we’ll figure something out.’ And you say, ‘Perfect, anything is fine with me.’” See? Because you just want to spend more time together doing whatever. This is very good. You don’t need an enticing restaurant or movie you’re dying to see as an excuse.”

“Ah, okay. Now what if a guy suggests something outside this 'plan' of yours?"

"Excellent question. It can happen and, in that case, you adjust the scale of the dating activity based on his move. So if he skips a step and, say, moves for a day date before a weekend dinner date, that's fine -- good even. But if, after a weekend dinner date he shifts back to after-work drinks -- not good. I also prefer not to skip an entire step, but I approach that on a case-by-case basis.

"I see. Um, Jess, did I do something to you to make you this way?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you just seem sort of – I don’t know – obsessive and maybe a little over analytical. Like you’re trying to write a lot of rules that maybe you should just leave alone and just let things happen naturally.”

(I roll eyes and make that sound.)

“Mom – it is very tough out there. Very very tough – and the more lines we can draw to help make things clearer the better off we’ll all be. Also these are not my rules. These are tried and tested facts of dating culture. I’m not making this shit up.”

“Right, okay, I see. Must have been your father then. And please don’t say shit.”

Point: Mom

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Olympics and Ass

Michael and I have decided that the Olympics are responsible for a lot of people getting ass lately.

Not as in, people at the Olympics are hooking up with other Olympians, though that’s happening too. (Trojan hands out more condoms at the Olympics than they do at any other national or international event, ever). I’m saying the occasion of the 29th Olympiad (you have to say it like that) is responsible for sealing a lot of deals lately -- that the Olympics are a major hook up enabler.

Under normal circumstances you go to drinks and/or dinner around 6:30/7:00. Things go well and you finish around 9:00/9:30 (Sushi, earlier – Italian, later) either drunk or on your way. It’s clearly too early to “go to bed”, and yet awkward to start a Netflix or go to a movie to buy time before it’s an acceptable hour to hook up.

Except with the Olympics in full swing there’s a lot of this going on:

  • So, hey, did you want to go back to my place and catch some of the Olympics? Phelps is up for another Gold tonight, probably.
  • Ooh, great idea. I keep forgetting to DVR them. Isn’t men’s all around gymnastics on tonight too?
  • Yeah, should we grab some ice cream and bring it back?
  • Perfect.
Considering the Olympics are on from 7am to 2am every single day this option presents itself... always. No matter the moment it is completely legitimate to move from restaurant/bar/walk-in-park to couch. No other programming can boast that kind of convenience while offering complete legitimacy. Everyone loves watching the Olympics because we always win and our athletes are great looking. Thus the Olympics viewing invite is not only perceived as legitimate but almost thoughtful and evidence of strong loyalty to our homeland. Try inviting someone to your place to watch DVRed Oprah at 8pm and see what kind of response you get.

Once back you have the opportunity to consume more alcohol, which is key. Also most people watch television next to each other on a couch -- another plus. And really the mood is just right - all cozy and patriotic and mainly featuring semi-naked people. Sort of like when your middle school boyfriend used to invite you over to watch Monday Night Raw but minus parents and plus alcohol.

Then arrives the aspect of Olympic’s viewing that really locks down the acquisition of ass.

It goes late into the night. Conveniently late.

Things like gymnastics, swimming and whatever else they have start at 8:00pm but aren’t resolved until well after midnight. And there’s no way you can leave when that short, red-headed American who looks like Fred Savage's brother from The Wonder Years is down eight tenths of a point in his campaign for All Around Olympic gold.

Which is why there’s a lot of this going on
  • Ugh, it’s getting so late but if I get on the subway now I’ll miss the end.
  • Oh, yeah, true -- crazy how late it is already. We’ll you’re welcome to stay over. Phelp’s 47th medal ceremony is on in a little while too.
  • Mmm, can't miss that either. God, that Debbie Phelps chokes me up every time. Did you want another beer?
And then, against the back drop of a teary-eyed Butter Phelps and the sounds of our glorious national anthem, you ___________ (insert sports-themed metaphor ala "cross the finish line") of your own Olympic moment in the most American way you know how.

Easy as American pie. Best to strike while the iron’s hot, though. They front-loaded the games with Phelp’s 17 swims and all the good gynamists. “Want to come back to my place to watch the women’s shotput finals?" is somehow less appealing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Update: She didn't lose anything

Remember my good friend who couldn’t decide whether or not to make plans with that guy from her past? Here’s what went down:

She used the number he provided to call him. It was not a fake number, so he answered. She let him know she’d be in the area over the weekend and, would he maybe like to grab a drink? He said, definitely, I’ll call you Friday after work to make a plan.

He called Friday after work to make a plan and offered to have her meet him out that night. Saturday worked better for her so he said, okay, I’ll call you Saturday.

He called Saturday. They decided on drinks at this local bar. He offered to pick her up. She accepted. They went to drinks and had a great time. The great time culminated in a romantic gesture.

Upon parting he said I had a great time, do you maybe want to see a movie tomorrow? She said, that would be great. He said, I’ll call you tomorrow morning, we’ll work something out.

He called her the next morning so they could work something out. They’re getting together the next time he’s in New York and have spoken twice since.

This, though delightful, is a very boring story. It’s very boring because everything goes well, both parties are happy, and at no point while reading it are you compelled to say, what the fuck!?

It is also the most important think you’ll read today if not ever (I can’t remember if we’re done with Harry Potter’s or still have one more to go…).

Re-read the above but this time, pay special attention to all the games being played.

(that was you reading)

Right. There are none.

Now go back and scan for instances in which one or both parties did something disappointing -- something contrary to what they said they would do.

(that was because you get the point)

He said he’d call and he called – he didn’t text or facebook message or forget. She said sure, and accepted the ride. She didn’t say, nah I’ll just meet you there and then show up 15 minutes late, with a friend. When he had a good time he said so, and made an immediate second plan. She had a good time too, so she accepted without calling all of her friends to make sure it was the right thing to do.

I once spent five years trying to arrange one date with a guy. Another time I played text tag for two months with someone I randomly hooked up with because I really thought there was something there. And then there was that time I thought I was dating someone who, turns out, was not dating me back – a time I affectionately refer to as 2006.

In a phrase (and a brilliant book title) it should not be that hard - or, put differently, when it’s right, it’s right. You could also look at it as, it’s not happening for a reason - or (just one more time) if when your friends ask, “so, how’s it going with _____?” the first word out of your mouth is well…followed by the latest example of how things are confusing and you haven’t talked but have been texting and you were supposed to get a drink but it didn’t work out and you hooked up again but you’re not sure if it means you’re dating or not, still – walk away. Apparently it can be very simply and really fun right from the very start.

This is, of course, if you don’t want to play games, waste time, and feel a fool. Sometimes a little drama is better than a lot of nothing. Sort of like how low wages are better than no wages, but applied to relationships.

So if you're content with 5 cents an hour because it's enough for rice and water, let me know. I have some recommendations.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Absolute Truths: The Top 10 Things You Should Not Text

No more confusing sex questions (today). Instead – another Absolute Truth.

According to Wikipedia, the text message was invented in the late 1980’s to enhance mobile communication for the deaf – sort of like how the Internet was invented for NASA but worked out really well for porn.

In early 2003 texting was adopted by all American cell carriers and with that the phrase Booty Call was forever retired (it’s Sex Text, pass it on).

We like to text because it’s short, sweet, and can be edited five times before sending. There’s technically the same risks with calling and/or leaving a voicemail – but the text has somehow established itself as the least serious form of contact. Might have something to do with the 160 character limit.

Like most/all things – there are/should be social rules around the text message. In its unbridled state, this communication form has caused more problems than the Facebook relationship status feature. And that’s saying a lot.

Here, to help everyone behave a little better, are the Top Ten things you should not communicate via text. (per usual, the below only applies to people and situation you care about - or are trying to seem like you care about).

  • Big Secrets

    The "forward" feature was invented to make it easy to send an exact copy of a text directly to many, many people. It also very conveniently allows you to alter the original message to take out things like, “don’t tell anyone but,” – for example. Tread lightly.

  • Sincere Apologies
    Not like, sorry I didn’t make it out last night – totally crashed at 10pm. That’s valid. Like - I’ve been thinking about our fight and it really was dick of me to ignore you at party cuz I was pissed from the night before. That’s invalid, over the character limit, and bound to set you back by at least another day. Also, it’s not an apology.

  • Birthday wishes to good friends
    Please just call. And if you get voicemail, please leave a nice message. Yes modern times have made it acceptable and common to handle things the quick and easy way, but for certain people, acceptable and common is not enough. Take 1-2 minutes out of your life and let your really close friend know you’re happy they exist.

    And if you have to ask yourself if the person is a good enough friend to call versus text, they’re not.

  • Legit Congratulations

    See above. Replace “you’re happy they exist” with “you’re so proud they won an Emmy.”

  • Pictures of your boobs and/or brand new engagement ring

    The boobs shot will get passed around like hot foreign athletes in the Olympic Village. The engagement ring will just annoy the shit out of whomever you send it to.

  • Passive aggressive fight starters
    "Um, r u dead or just ignoring me?"

  • Responses to passive aggressive fight starters
    "Just ignoring u"

    The fastest way to escalate a fight is to conduct it over a medium with no tone. Text, IM, gchat, email, blackberry messenger -- instruments of (further) destruction.

  • Condolences

    It’s hard to convey true sorrow over any kind of loss on a 3x3 inch screen. Unless what’s lost is dignity. In that case “Dude that ‘ho was bustd” works just fine.

  • Break-Ups

    I believe I’ve mentioned this in earlier posts but wanted to be sure to include again so it’s VERY clear. Don’t do this. Ever.

  • Initiation of first dates
    Last because it’s sure to elicit the most eye rolls. Listen, I think the text is a wonderful tool for sending snippets of info to speed up communication and save cell phone minutes (if those even still exist). I also acknowledge that it’s very nerve-wracking to make that first date call and very easy to type, “hey, it's Joe from last night. Want 2 hang Fri” – especially since all those words are the first option that comes up on T9. Bottom line, if you’re too nervous to call me, you’re too nervous to date me.
Okay. What did I miss?

Myth v. Fact: Sex too soon

No time for a drawn out introduction today. Way too much to cover.

There is a long-standing myth held by some girls that if you give it up too early, the good guys out there will no longer consider you serious girlfriend material -- “too early” and “good guys” obviously being open to interpretation. For the sake of this conversation let’s say under five dates is “too early.” I can’t define a good guy.

The myth is simple. Give it up too soon and the guy in question will move you out of the could-marry-her category and re-file you in, might-date-but-will-probably-just-hook-up with land. Ergo, if a guy puts those moves on you too early, you can assume he views you in the latter court; you’re not marriage or serious dating material.

Few issues you need to ignore before diving into this:

  • The idea of waiting until marriage.
  • My actual stance on this and my definition of “too early”
  • That this entire scenario centers around girls giving it up too early and not guys taking it too early
Moving on.

I consulted my consultants on the issue – two guys, two girls, and someone much older than me. They will remain nameless but can be trusted and should be followed because I like them.

When asked the question myth or fact? all five had the same response: Myth, mostly, but it’s more involved than that.

See why I like them?

Here are bits and pieces of several internet conversations paraphrased and edited to reflect The Board’s responses, with my commentary.

First and foremost, if a girl sleeps with a guy early on and then things end quickly, it's because the guy wanted to have sex with her but didn’t have any long term interest from the get-go. If he wants it, he’ll go for it. If it doesn’t work out, he’ll move on and/or try again drunk. That part's simple. Run from these men.

Next - there are girls you would want to bring home to Mom and girls you just want to bring home for that one night slash a couple hours. The girls in question for the sake of this discussion are group one – Mom girls.

Put simply, if a girl is a Mom girl, it doesn’t matter if she has sex on date 1, 5, or 20. In other words, you can both want to bring her home to Mom and also sleep with her date 2.

Here’s the rationale

Guys get a read on a girl pretty quickly and in general categorize them in four ways
  • 1. Total package- attractive, but also has all of the other things you would/should be looking for (personality, smarts, cultured, etc). This is completely subjective. A girl can be a #1 to some guys but a #4 to others. There's no one completely universal Mom girl.
  • 2. Surface only- she's hot, but she doesn't seem to have much in the way of depth or anything that would ensure long term interest of compatibility for you. You want specific parts of her, but not all of her.
  • 3. Personality only- friend zone...great to hang out with, but no attraction. You maybe set up one of those, if-we-both-get-to-40 deals, but you push it back by a year every six months.
  • 4. She offers nothing (to you) - not your preferred looks, no/not your preferred personality, who else is here in this bar that I can talk to...?
Consider that a rough but sadly accurate guide. There’s cross-over potential but it’s rare (read: guys may hook up with #3’s and 4’s, but it’s usually by accident slash alcohol).

So in the context of the sex question – A #1 is a #1, sex on the first date or not. If a guy thinks you’re a #1, he’ll wait (within reason). And he doesn’t need to sleep with you to figure out you’re probably a #1. Great sex will help seal the deal, but it’s not required knowledge to make you a candidate. If he’s acting like he thinks you’re a #1 but doesn’t want to wait, then he’s a good actor. Run from these men too.

So if you’re a #1 to him, you get a lot of leeway. This is wildly liberating. It means you get to do what you’re comfortable doing because he likes you anyway. This probably shouldn’t have been so hard to figure out, but it really was.

Now this next part might chafe, but it hits the point. A girl being a #1 has little to do with sex, but a girl being a #2 has a lot to do with sex. It would be garish to say that a guy only wants sex from the #2 group, but that is a lot of the motivation.

But, as I explained several times to the male board members, it’s because guys treat #2's this way that the #1's think guys who initiate sex too early are therefore categorizing them as #2’s. They think they’re getting #2 girl treatment. They think guys want their #1's to wait, just a little, so they don't initiate early sex with the 1's.

Apparently this is faulty logic. Guys know when they’re comfortable having sex. Therefore they create environments where sex could happen when they want it to happen. If a guy wants to wait he won’t take the make-out from the car to the couch. Guys are not out there testing a girl’s chastity by getting them in bed, initiating sex, and seeing if they go for it. Nor are they accidentally having sex then saying, “shit, that one might have had marriage material but now she slept with me – bummer.” It’s not that complicated. They want it, they go for it, and they’re therefore okay with you accepting it.

That’s it. No more but what if’s and but I feel like he’s not sure... He’s sure. Now you just have to be.

So if it makes you feel better to say, “I don’t usually do this so soon” or, “I hope this won’t change the way you feel about me” – go right ahead. But the only things he’s thinking in response are, “exactly how many people have you usually not done this so soon with?” and, “it will if it sucks”

Monday, August 11, 2008

On guys and the scary age

My fairly genius male friend started in on an interesting theory the other day. We were involved in a g-convo prompted by the scary age post. He brought up the fact that most guys, if they have a scary age at all, place it somewhere between 32 and 40. My limited research (a personal survey conducted at The 79th Boat Basin from 8-10pm, drunk-ish) suggests the same. I asked 10 guys (I think) and came up with four 36’s, two 40’s, one 30, and the rest confused (“What do you mean scary? What am I scared about?”).

This, my friend was suggesting, is appropriately in line with the whole girls-mature-faster-than-boys-deal (brace for broad, ugly generalizations). In pre-school boys were eating paste and girls were running plastic households. Girls said ew and/or cried then begged the boys to come play house. Boys refused; girls gave up/went and played blocks with them. Now boys are eating beer and girls are running Ikea households. Girls say ugh, beg them to play anything, hook up with them regardless then roll their eyes and re-affix their sites on someone three to eight years older. (I warned you).

According to my friend’s maybe genius theory, that’s just it. Besides the obvious biological clock argument, girls freak out at 25 while guys drag their feet into the next life stage (healthy relationship, solid career, properly fitting suit) because the boys-just-get-there-slower argument has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. He explained it better.

  • Him: It is actually women who empower guys to feel this way (and by this way, I mean, a sense that we can hold out without consequence)
  • Me: Oh this is going to be good
  • Him: Not to tie everything into again, but it's an easy way of showing how a lot of girls many of them are 'seeking' guys within a year or two of their own age on there? They are all looking up. A-25-year-old woman wants men between 26 and 32. A 29 year old woman is willing to entertain guys that are age 40.

    The refrain about guys being immature at our current age has become such a battle cry (and it has accepted as fact by so many women) that they now seek older, more mature
  • Me: Instead of somewhat “conditioning” men their own age to mature?
  • Him: exactly.... if that is going to be the case, where is the incentive for a guy in his mid 20s to behave?
  • Me: Shit. Hmm. I guess especially since girls will hook up with them anyway.
  • Him: When he knows that in 10 years, he can be getting women in their mid 20s, and they will ASSUME that he is worldly, mature, "ready"
  • Me: PLEASE write this up
  • Him: Ha. No.
If you’re a girl you read that as: girls are to blame for rampant male immaturity from ages 20-33 – the great enablers of the male condition they hate. You then stuck this post in an email to every girl your know. Subject line: Bullshit. If you’re a guy your takeaway was: girls are impatient so I buy time to fuck around in my 20s and can still get a hot 25-year-old when I’m 30-something. Glad someone confirmed that. I was maybe going to start worrying in 2 to 3 years. (Sorry, forgot the warning, those were generalizations too)

My fairly genius male friend didn’t offer a solution, hence the “fairly.” If you can get past the anger and realize this might actually be what’s up, you can move on to thinking of various “solutions.”
  • Girls withhold hook-ups from all 20-30 years olds un-willing to settle into a legit relationship until they realize it’s celibacy or maturity and universally get their acts together. Likelihood of success: 30%
  • This post reaches enough guys that read it and say, “Hhm, now that’s not very accommodating of us. Let’s all just get ready to settle down five to eight years earlier so we can be on the same page as the girls.” And thus a revolution is insighted. Likelihood of success: -75%
  • Scientists develop a way to implant the female biological clock in men so that they too feel all the same life urges and pressures at exactly the same times. Likelihood of success: 100% Likelihood of happening: less than that of all guys voluntarily changing
Or maybe it’s just that all the guys are lying about their scary age to seem fearless and macho. Maybe theirs' too hits somewhere between 25 and 30 but they collectively decided to push it back a bit to keep their gender edge.
Yes. I like that theory much better. Let’s go with that.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What's your scary age?

I think it was Katie who coined the term “scary age” – as in, “26 is my scary age.” It must have been sometime directly after graduation when we took to assigning maxims to everything about post-grad life. Like - “I’ll know it’s really over when I can’t go out three nights in a row” (check) or “the first time I mistakenly make-out with someone who’s still in college, I’m going to lose it” (double check). The scary age thing fit in among those conversations, aka all conversations. I’ve always hated the concept but probably because it - like that fucking biological clock - is a reality.

Scary age is hard to pin-point. Says Katie, "it’s the point at which I feel like I really have to get my life together - like every decision from here on out has to be really deliberate towards some kind of end life happiness.” Says Nora, “25.”

To me it’s like from zero to scary age is all that stuff in your E! True Hollywood Story that comes before the deep, scary-man voiceover says, “and then...just after her 20-blank-th all _____________ (came together/fell apart/made sense/came out)" - your goal is to make it so there’s light and happy, not dark and terrifying music in the background – color pictures of you holding awards and not black and whites of you holding empty bottles.

Broad terms – our scary age is the year we freak out over where we’ve been, where we’re going, and how it rates. In our minds we want all the pieces of our Sim Life lined up and ready to go by X date of X year – certain things should be built, other things should be in queue for building, and everything else should be sitting in our Sim Life dashboard, awaiting proper placement on the grid. 25, 26, 27, 28 – doesn’t matter. We lock it in and there it sits, waiting to arrive like some whole-life SAT except you write all the questions and all the answers and somehow still don’t think you’ll get one right. The markers you hit or miss are part your own invention, part societal pressure. It’s your goal to be published by 29. It’s societies fault that most people are married by 27. The details don’t matter. It’s that unfortunate fact that you only live once, and by X age you want to feel like you're doing it right.

I don’t know if there’s a correlation between someone’s scary-age and their general personality. I’d think the more focused the least scared, but it could be that focus leads to goals, which lead to failures and thus freak outs. Maybe it’s the less directed, the more adaptable, so the less consumed with benchmarks, and thus the better off? I’m told there are people who really do believe age is just a number, but I've decided not to believe that because it makes me feel better about myself. I admit that I’ve yet to hear a male use the term scary age, but maybe that’s just because it, like that’s such a nightmare or I’m in a funk, just doesn’t come out of (straight) male mouths.

Overdramatics aside (for this paragraph) – life stages are marked by numbers. At those numbers we hope to hit goals, make progress, and feel correct in this world – like our life has a thesis statement, and we're following it.

Today I turned some people’s scary age - 25. Quarter of a century. Half way to 50. Closer to 40 than from it. An official renter of cars.

I’m safe because it’s not my scary age. Mine was 26, but now it’s 28 on account of inflation and my dating record.

25 though still holds a certain weight in my head – like this marker of actual adulthood signifying the end of getting away with blatant immaturity (in public). I feel like at 25 I have to sit myself down and say, “Okay, where are we are? Oats, sewn; money, squandered; gateway drugs, tried; slippery sloap through gateway, avoided; and metaphoric notches in (twin) bedposts, carved. Good work, now stop blacking out and start saving money.” It’s like from here on out I don’t have to move forward in one, focused direction, but I can’t blatantly move backward. I’ve made some solid ground and lived a life of which 80% could be shared with my parents; now my life’s purpose is to not fuck it up. 25, the year I do as I say and not as I want.

For now I'm three years from scary and feeling like I’ve finally arrived at the age I’ve been dressing for since pre-school. Who knows, maybe by the time I approach my scary age inflation will push it from 28 to 30. Or maybe I’ll just actually accomplish all I've hoped for and be fully set on everything else I want exactly three years from this day.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What You've Got To Lose

Yesterday one of my very best friends asked me for some of my very best advice. It was on the subject of a boy (shocker) who’d made vague contact (un-­heard of) that could be reacted to in a number of ways (over a number of mediums) depending on how his move was to be interpreted (I only thought there was one way to read it, but she seemed to think there were 8-10).

I listened and read the correspondences and ran through various what-if scenarios with her. It was a somewhat tricky situation involving a good deal of background and even more future unknowns. After 62 lines of gchat and two second opinions, I said what I tend to say when I think going for it is the best option and/or don’t know what else to say, “I mean, honestly, what have you got to lose?”

It, like “what do you want from me?” and “um, are you serious with that?” is meant to be a rhetorical question. But the truth is there are legitimate responses. You always do have something to lose.

Thus a new series (if I write more than one):

What You Have to Lose
Honest loss-assessment based on real-life scenarios

Scenario 1: Guy from your high school that you were never really friends with randomly gets you on The Book. You, feeling bold, accept friendship then send him a message (Dude! It’s been ages! How’ve you been?). He responds with a life update and his number (Listen, if you’re ever back home, give me a call). You respond with your life update and accept his offer (Sounds great – will let you know if I’m ever back home). Three days later you realize you will be back home in one week. Do you call/message for that catch up or let it go considering the potential for awkwardness?

I said, “Go – why not? What do you have to lose??” Well, here’s
What You Have to Lose:

“Credibility” in the eyes of other “friends” from High School

When the mean girls find out you arranged a drink with John Tucker a gossip train will form the likes of when Easy Suzy was late to school because she had to pick up Plan B. And influx of Facebook messages and random texts will follow (um, u and J Tuck? Whaaa?). People will tell people who will tell other people. They’ll say things like, “can you believe she like re-made friends with him and then they went out? Um…can you say raaando?” Two things: you can but you choose not to. And credibility or really anything else in their eyes is not of your concern. You have an appointment for alcohol with a potential for dating that gave you its number. Point, set, match.

Undeniable, but are you really losing in the end if what you gain is delicious drinks, good conversation, and progress toward a hook-up/husband? Yes time is money but successful dates are confidence, which is power, which is strength to ask for raises, which is money. Like you had anything else to do “back home” at 9pm…

This is if you make the move and he says no. It could happen and that would be embarrassing because it’s never fun to be rejected. But let's recap the facts. He said, “we should catch up when you are next home. Here is my number.” If what he really meant was we should not ever catch up so please don’t use this number I’m providing, ever, well then that’s fucked up. The blow off would have read, “Life’s good – hope New York is treating you well – Later!” So we’re left with one of two options. He actually wants to get a drink or he’s schizophrenic. If he’s schizophrenic then you don’t want him anyway. Pride restored.
Money + Potential
If you go and split the bill. Sadly this is two-fold. He makes the “so how do you want to split this?” move and there goes your 20 bucks and maybe husband. I have long held that if he pays in this vague what-is-this scenario he’s either interested, or just a really nice guy. Both are good, one is better - figuring which it is a whole other conversation. If he doesn’t than he’s either not interested, doesn’t know how to show he’s interested (in which case you’re not interested), or is not a good guy. NG. So yes, you lose money and a husband but an emotionally draining situation can be very costly and time consuming which, as previously established, is money.
This concludes today's cost/benefit analysis.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Extra: Max's Movie Script

An addendum treat courtesy of

Excerpts from Tucker Max's forthcoming movie script. "Enjoy".

Monday, August 4, 2008

You may or may not be familiar with Tucker Max

The blogger turned author turned screenplay writer whose book I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell recently hit The New York Times best-seller list and is on its way into film production. Here is the intro to his blog:

"My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.

I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world."

I think that speaks for itself.

Tucker Max started with a simple blog about the “crazy” shit he does drunk/always. The “crazy” is because it's not actually crazy. He pounds beers, treats girls like shit, is a dick to his friends and sometimes, on particularly “crazy” nights, gets arrested. It’s stuff like - one time I black-out shit the bed but had the genius to convince the girl I banged that she black-out shit the bed because she’s a fat 'ho who’s totally busted anyway and it was hysterical and I can’t even believe I get away with this shit but whatever girls are dumb. And then the next night...” Draw that sentence out for a chapter and you’ve got the book. Add actors acting it out and you’ve got the movie. See – “crazy”.

A lot of people are very worked up about Tucker Max. Some number larger than the voting population of most US states reads his blog and bought his book, but about half those people still hate him and everything he “stands for” (I’d say you can’t stand for being a douche, but evidence would suggest I’m wrong). Sort of like all train-wreck reality shows – the worse it is, the more people watch. It’s not revolutionary. It’s American. Calm down and stop talking about it; it will run its course.

I’ve read some of his shit (note lack of parentheses). It’s Howard Stern in blog format except all the guests are Tucker Max. Blatant, crass, insulting to women, insulting to men, and alcohol infused. My Mom would say, “ugh why do people want to hear that?!” It’s simple: it makes us feel good to know that people are dumber than us, and we find humor in watching/hearing about other people suffer. No Comm. research paper necessary.

Embedded in the writings of Tucker Max are a few not-poignant, non-theses. Call them themes:
  1. The more of an asshole you are, the more girls want you

  2. Being drunk is wonderful and an amazing excuse for almost all things

  3. The shit I do drunk is really entertaining

  4. People are dumb
I have to agree with points 2 and 4, but only if you insert drunk before people on 4. I have to ignore point 1 because it makes me angry. Point 3 is open to interpretation. I say no. The New York Times says yes.

I don't think Tucker Max and I would get along. I laughed reading some of his stuff, but I’m still not a fan of his "work". As Michael put it – “his blog is like the antithesis to yours.” I’m not sure there’s an antithesis to something without a thesis, but if what I’ve been writing can be considered opposite to him, that’s just as good.

But in reaction to the Tucker Max situation that everyone from Michael Ian Black to is reacting to I do have three thoughts:

Tucker Max is a very smart
People were writing and people were being complete assholes, but people were not writing about being complete assholes and then marketing that writing for our enjoyment. Maybe they were thinking about it, but then they all got to that point where they thought, “what if my grandmother reads this?” and moved on to other stuff. It bears mentioning that Tux went to the prestigious Blair Academy then got a B.A. from The University of Chicago and law degree from Duke. Why doesn’t he use that obvious intelligence to write intelligent things or practice law? Because smart and decent are two very different things. He saw a hole in the market and he filled it, quickly. Maybe he’s also an orphan or working under a false identity, but someone raised him to come up with this idea so chances are they exist and weren’t ministers. Botton line – he called morality’s bluff and made a shit load of money on it. He also founded a small media company called Rudius to help others do the same figuring if we’ll read one blog about a drunk asshole we’ll read ten. I'm sorry for us, but that's genius. Gross, but genius.

Tucker Max is fucked for life
Rich, yes. And likely set in terms of future book and movie deals. But no amount of “I was just kidding” is going to land him a great girl. People will worship him but they will be assholes. Girls will date him, but only to figure out if he’s actually for real. His fifteen minutes may last for an hour if he can come up with enough material, but the Fresh Prince to Ali transition has only been done once. Maybe Tux would say, “Whatever. I don’t need a great girl, I don’t care who worships me, I’m in it for the money, and I’ll just take the 15 if it means I can get out there and have my crazy stories read by people who know how to have a good time.” Valid. Sad as shit, but valid.

One's opinion of Tucker Max is the new, single greatest indication of their overall personality
So adjust the first meeting question string. It should now go, “So, what do you do? Oh cool, and where do you live now? Nice, fun area. When did you graduate college? Phew, okay great. And hey, have you heard of this douche Tucker Max?”

Look on the bright side. Now that he’s done it, it’s been done, so people probably won’t be dumb enough to just copy it into a million different versions.

Parents are people too

Rumor has it that when I was two years old I asked my Mom if we could be best friends.

“I can’t remember what we were doing,” she says now, “We were either having a tea party or I was reading you a book or, you know, maybe you were in the bathtub.” There’s a chance it was all three; I was raised a multi-tasker.

Apparently I looked up at her with my black/brown eyes and nose too big for my face and said, “Mommy, let’s be best friends?”

She said okay, which was nice because I couldn’t offer much by the way of traditional best friendship. My clothes were too small for her to borrow and I didn’t have any nail polish colors she didn’t already have. I guess in theory she could have talked to me about boy troubles, but I wouldn’t have understood and they would have been about my Dad. She said yes anyway, and then I closed the book, finished my tea, inspected my wrinklage and got out of the tub.

It dawned on me yesterday, two hours into a discussion about her most recent full body skin scan, that she’d taken me seriously. I’d asked if we could be best friends, she’d agreed, and now we were – in her eyes – best friends for life. Names as good as written in Sharpie on the bathroom wall.

Do not get me wrong. Being so close to my mother is one of the things I’m most grateful for in my life (it goes Mom, rent-controlled apartment, skin that tans, and Downy Wrinkle Releaser – but sometimes Apartment, Mom, Downy, Skin depending on how much I’ve seen her lately and how quickly I need to change outfits). But if I’d known she’d hold me to the request I might have laid some best friendship ground rules - rules specific to the fact that she is my Mom. Like – mention of any and all thoughts regarding your marriage are off limits. I realize this is an important part of girl-talk but you’re married to my Dad. Sorry. I’ll promise not to share things I’ve done between 3 and 7am for the past five years in exchange. Also conversations about how you want your funeral handled should be reserved for your lawyer and/or Dad. While I appreciate you wanting to work through the details with a listening ear, I generally try to avoid conversation about the saddest things that will ever happen to me. Things specific to your female aging body parts should also be kept to yourself. It’s not that I’m unsympathetic or skeeved out – it’s that I have ½ your genes and don’t want a preview of what’s to come.

Whether or not you and your parents exchanged neon friendship bracelets and BFF badges in Brownies – the fact is that sometime over the past five years our parents became like this weird version of our peers. Long gone are the days of Mrs. Cunningham staying out of everyone’s business and the stoic, one-beer-at-dinner dad from the Wonder Years. Our parents want to be involved in our lives and therefore, they assume, we should be involved in theirs – everything from the day-to-day ‘Jim got the promotion I’d been gunning for so I’m having a rough day,” to the more broadly themed, “You just cannot imagine the devastation of caring for your grandmother like she is a child.”

Apparently parents are people too. People who now view us as capable of hearing their issues and providing the kind of comfort and support they've provided us for the past 20-some years. Unfortunately, I can’t handle it.

It’s somewhat like seeing the middle school teacher you adore buying hemorrhoid crème at the CVS. You get that they don’t live at the school and are probably married, but in your eyes the universe simply protects them from hemorrhoids and all other things negative because they are your favorite teacher.

Same applies to parents. You don’t want to deny them a real life filled with real feelings – pain included. But you need to go on believing they are invincible heroes with emotions of steel and no financial issues. Their regular sharing of their feelings is really inconvenient to your plan of never having to acknowledge they exist.

It’s funny. I can sit with a friend who’s just been dumped for hours as she sobs about how torn apart she is. I’ve even been there for a friend who’s experienced the death of a parent and provided support without completely losing it. But the minute my Mom launches into a “your Father really hurt my feelings the other day” I want to curl up into a ball and die. Instead I usually yell, “AAHHH GOD STOP!” before she can get to whatever it is that she needs to get off her chest. Mature – I know.

It happened again this past weekend. She was going on comparing her marriage to that of her friends and blah blah. I was singing Rhianna's "Disturbia" over and over in my head because I know all the words and like to keep segments of time as well-themed as possible.

“Are you listening to me?” she said 10 to 15 minutes in. We were alone on the beach. Now was my chance. I’d planned this speech a thousand times in my head.

“Mom. I love you very much. And I can never thank you enough for the years of support and counsel you’ve given me. You have made me the person I am today. That said I find it unbearable to hear you talk about issues involving your deepest feelings because it affects my deepest feelings and thus I find myself sad/stressed/worried about/for you. I would prefer to go on believing you are unaffected by the troubles of the world. This is not fair or mature or at all in keeping with my former request to be your best friend. Therefore I’m afraid I have to retract that request and ask that we, instead, move to becoming really good friends who talk endlessly about a to-be-determined list of items. How does that sound?”

Instead I say this, “Sorry, I was just distracted by that guy over there. What were you saying?”

The woman once took three, back-to-back, incoherent 2am calls from me after someone went home with someone who was not me. She then stayed up for an additional hour to write me a loving email about the maturity level of most guys and the simple facts about binge drinking. Also when I was broken in Florence she wired me $500 and handled telling my Dad.

If anything – she should retract the best friendship. Instead – I’ll just grow a set.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Second dates, first decisions

A friend and I were g-chatting about second dates the other day. How they differ from first dates. What our mind sets are going in. We may or may not both have one soon, so the topic was whether or not we go into them with a certain agenda – a certain goal in mind, hypothetically speaking.

I said my agenda was to make the person like me more slash still. He laughed twice and agreed it was a valid objective, but he was more referring to what, after session one, we’re most trying to figure out via session two.

I said it’s whether or not we want a session three. He laughed, just once this time, and said, right, of course, but what are we looking for to help figure that out? How are we gathering whatever evidence we’ve decided we need?

I said I was sort of serious about the third date thing – that the desire represented whether or not we thought it was going anywhere. Going anywhere, of course, having two meanings. One – we date in a direction aimed toward eventual relationship status. And the other - we “date” because it’s fun to go to dinner and we want to hook up.

True – he admitted – but if, hypothetically, you’re going to play this one straight –meaning put effort into determining enough compatibility to take this somewhere real - then how do you go about using date two as a forum to figure it out?

I said how does “one” and how do “I” are two different questions. This time he just did one of those half-laughs, so I cut the crap.

If a second date is a second interview then what set of information are we hoping to acquire to help us make whatever decision we’re looking to make? In the case of both my friend and me - hypothetically – it’s whether there’s really something there or not.

People usually say, “it’s just a feeling” or “I can sense we won’t be a good fit.” False.

It’s very specific things you find out by asking calculated questions. The person’s answers end up out of or in line with what you were hoping for in this / any person. You love going to see live music in the East Village. You bring this up by mentioning that you’re excited about this upcoming show at this place you love to go. Has he heard of the group? Has she been to that place? It’s not as callous as, he knows them he’s in or she loves it there, go for date three. The person can still have an interest in your interests – even if they aren’t traditionally inclined toward a group called The Clap at a bar called Plan B. It is a process known colloquially as “getting to know someone” but, when applied to the dating arena, becomes the most difficult thing we’ve ever had to do. No sarcasm. I’m serious.

Maybe it’s that the confusion has nothing to do with the person you’re seeing a second time. If it’s a game of detective – asking questions to find evidence that points in a certain direction – you have to at least know what direction it should be pointing. You have to known what it is you’re looking for. Then you can focus conversation around those things you want to find to see how well poor Second Date fits. It’s the same approach you’d take to figuring out if a new job is right for you, but more subtle and way-less focused on how much money the person has to offer, hopefully.

“I guess I have to figure out what I want then,” my friend said.

Yes - an inconvenient step one. This is not chicken or egg. It’s seed then plant. You have to know the goal is cherries in order to find the right kind of seeds. (Thank you Poppop).

We like to blame much of our dating woes (or lack thereof) on the people we’re dating (or not). It fits in nicely with our general avoidance of all issues we don’t want to deal with. But as our enemy Logic has it, if we don’t know what we’re after it’s hard to know why a person doesn’t fit it. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a hole that’s changing shapes every five second. You might happen to hit it right, but you’ll probably just get annoyed as shit and break the square peg. Then it will likely stop buying you dinner and tell it’s friends you’re very strange.

Moral of the story. Go with my gut. Just focus on trying to make the person like you more slash still. It’s a lot easier and has just a good a chance of getting you where you maybe want to go.

(Thanks for the material D)