Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Act: A Fool, Take: Too Many...

Part of my problem is that I sometimes view circumstances like some movie scene - some movie scene I’ve written in my drunk head.

Take one night around two years ago.

I met Katie and Nina at Puck Fair for a drink after a long, bad day. I don’t remember what was long or bad about it. I just remember that I proceeded to drink like it had been really long and really bad. Never a good premise. For me frustration and beer tend to equal regret.

Someone in the group had brought some guy that was pulling off a skull cap (as in wearing it well, not taking it off his head). That’s not easy to do without looking like a tool, so I was intrigued. Intrigued, drunk, and still a little fired up from the day.

Skull Cap and I hit it off over a conversation about loving Italy and hating LA. It’s a known fact that if you wear something stand-out, say you hate LA, and know anything at all about Italy I will give you my number or ask for yours. Be warned slash informed. This guy was also a movie-lover. Done.

In my drunk haze I started to write different scenarios for how this would pan out -- this being our Sunday Style section-worthy exchange of information. These scenes usually involve him doing something charming, smooth, or surprising to get my number and set up a date.
All girls do this. It’s just in how far we take it and if we ever go through with it that we differ.

This time I took it to a very far place – and went through with it.

I, now borderline black-out, took one of the personal business cards I use for freelance writing (whatever, I really do use them for that) and slipped it in Skull Cap’s back left jean pocket with Ocean’s 11-style precision. Then I went on sipping my beer and making what I thought were witty, adorable comments until it was time to part ways. I told no one but the bar tender who saw it all go down. I'm just that mysterious...


So it was cool meeting you. We should hang out again. Can I grab your number?

[Beat. Camera 1 zooms in on our protagonist as she looks up at him with a coy glimmer in her eye. The kind of look that says – silly skull cap, I’m two steps ahead of you. ]


You already have it...

[Camera 2 focuses in on guy’s completely confused face. Not intrigued confused, legimately unclear.

Back left pocket...

[Camera follows guy as he reaches for his back left pocket and pulls out a tiny business card. Quick shift back to Camera 1 - girl. She is triumphant. Wasted and triumphant.]

It gets blurry slash embarrassing after that. He actually did call and we actually did have a drink, but it was just as likely and probably smarter had he smiled politely and run for the hills.

I'd like to say I've since worked on cutting the dramatics, but I haven't - not hard enough at least. That said I have the makings of a full evening of hysterical one-act plays:

I Cannot Wait Until You Have Kids So I Can Tell Them This Story

[working title]

Monday, September 29, 2008

On Monday: a metaphor

You see this a lot in the city. A group of pre-school aged kids walking from place to place holding on to a rope. Like here, they’re usually dressed in same-colored t-shirts five sizes too big contributing to it being the cutest-thing-you’ve-ever-seen. The rainbow rope with handles helps too.

It’s a simple safety device, this buddy-system rope, invented by some genius teacher or mother with too many kids – a way to keep all your ducks in a row and right before your eyes without losing or killing one.

I saw a set of these little kid commuters on my walk to work this morning. They were singing the Bo Bessie song (well, in my world it’s Bo Bess – as in Jessie Jessie Bo Bessie Banana Fanna Fo Fessie Me My Mo Messie – JE-SSIE!) and dancing around as they walked from one place to another. Their 3-yards-of-rope world was so Norman Rockwell-with-light-up-sneakers I almost lost it.

In a way – we’re not so unlike these string kids – I thought.

Some of us are moving around from place to place holding on for dear life to some home base that keeps us safe, together and in a previously determined order – rope, friend group, family... you see.

Sometimes we get bumped forward or back on account of bad behavior or because we’re dating someone in the blue section, but on we march singing whatever mantra we’ve determine most helpful to the collective life phase (this month’s verse: I’ll start saving when I’m 26…).

Some of us have made a run for it – dashing across busy streets toward ice cream stores in the distance without getting hit by a MAC truck or running to the corner but then freaking out and coming back. Others have just gotten hit.

What’s weird about our rope versus theirs is that no one is telling us to hold on. Yes parents and mentors and friends make suggestions, but ours is a self-imposed procession. We hold on for the same reason – it’s safe and comfortable together in our too-big t-shirts – but when and why we leave is now entirely up to us.
It’s nothing 12 years of school and 3 years of real-life haven’t prepped us for, but there is this certain sense that once you let go you can’t go back. It’s a loose sense and maybe a wrong sense, but it keeps you going – or rather staying. But then, if I remember that 7th Grade gym poster correctly, nobody ever won a prize for Staying. (Also - fyi - still no I in TEAM)

Lately I’ve been in a mad-dash-for-ice cream phase. I’ve mapped out a few different routes and keep a 5-er in my shoe so I can go the moment I’m ready - group mantras haven been written down for reference when necessary.
Only problem is - sometimes I'm lactose intolerant.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Go to a bar alone

I told myself I wasn’t going to go there – there being here – but the conversation has come up too many times to ignore. So by popular request, I am ashamed to introduce the most lame and clich├ęd series to hit this or any blog:

How Slash Where to Meet People to Date Slash Marry.
Somewhat proven advice that's not sure-fire or necessarily safe.

1. Go to a bar alone.

In other words – intentionally go without any other people to a bar and enjoy drinks sans the planned company of others. Sorry. The first time I told someone to do this they said, “what do you mean?!”

Here’s how and why it works:

  • Pick a spot with a long bar you know will be fairly crowded with the type of people you like at a reasonable hour on a weeknight that people go out. I'd do Barrow Street Ale House. Thursday. 7pm. You get an after the happy hour crowd of people still drinking but not black out. So, the fun ones.
  • Sit at the bar and order something respectable (read: not pink). Tip the bar tender well. If the first person who sidles up is a douche, you want the ‘tender in your corner. I can also pay off to strike up a convo with him/her. Could turn into group talk with the bar sitters. Huge move.
  • Engage in some form of banal activity that prompts curiosity but not intimidation. I'd go pages of whatever side-writing I’m working on and a little notebook. I’m casually reading and jotting things down while maintaining a look of coy openness to the question, “what’s that you’re working on? Other options: weekly news magazine, movie script (www.imsdb.com), book with lots of pictures you just bought. Not options: sudoku, your blackberry, nailpolish.
  • Set a time or drink limit and do not move. Your mantra: this is not weird. Think of the bar as a much-more-fun coffee shop. You would have no problem at all sitting alone at a Starbucks sipping coffee and reading the paper (if you would, get over it). The bar is like Starbucks but people get drunk, feel bold, and talk to each other. It does not matter why you are there alone and is not wrong that you are. But if someone wants to know what your story is, they can ask. Mission accomplished.
  • You and your four best friends dressed up on a Friday night in a crowded, sweaty bar filled with a dime-a-dozen groups just like you is just bad odds. Dating is a numbers game. Put them in your favor.
  • While this is not weird (keep saying it) people don’t traditionally do it thus when they do it's noted and interesting to people who respect confident, interesting people. These are the people you want to meet slash be.
  • What do you have to lose? Right. We've been through this. The answer is: the cost of 1-3 beers, pride if you happen to run into an ex, and time if it doesn't work out. But remember - bars aren't just filled with people who might have date offers. They also feature people who offer jobs, apartments, or good advice. Hardly a waste.

Yes I realize this seems contrived. That’s because it is. There are lots of less contrived ways to meet people if you'd prefer. Popular examples include staring them down from across a party, winking at them from match.com, and telling your friends you really really want to meet them.

Sexism: On Guys and Girls on Phones, Part II

For (it seems all) guys

The telephone is a device used to communicate necessary information in as simple and efficient manner as possible. It is kept in the pocket which, though seemingly very close to the body, has no known osmosis-like effects.

The text message element of recent mobile technology is the male's preferred method of phone use because it allows for quick communication, without tone, under 160 characters. One can think about something then type and send when ready. Gone is pressure and grammar. Everything is simple, concise, and cannot be interrupted.

Guys use the phone (read: text) to make plans, share very important and timely information, or when it is the undeniably gentlemanly thing to do (we are sick, they need to apologize, someone has died). I’ve experienced and heard of men going through overly communicative phases, but from what I can see it’s not the norm and tends to wane with time. Explanations may inlcude: they understand women and are trying to hook one, they are very bored, they are on crack (and bored).
Men I know how provided the following rationale for why they don’t call like we do:
  • They think of us often and with love but can wait to tell us things until they see us (hhmm, waiting - interesting approach)
  • They fear calling often early on in a relationship will set a bad precedent that will in turn make us call more (yes, correct)
  • They don’t like to slash know how to “chat” (I have no response. I don’t understand)
Some psychiatrist out of Rhode Island once claimed the average woman uses 7,000 words a day and five tones of speech while the average man uses 2,000 words and three tones. “Men are talk-impaired, relatively speaking,” he said.
So it’s not that they don’t want to talk to us on the phone, it’s that the brain-to-mouth-to-phone process does not come easily or often. It's not that they're not calling us. They're not calling anyone.
I recently “stumbled” upon a very juicy piece of gossip regarding a member of one of my closest guy-friends group. It was the kind of gossip you’d steal a conference call line from work to discuss with your entire group of girlfriends. I immediately called my three closest contacts within the group (all guys) to spill the news and find out if it was true.
Three days later one of them got back to me – via email.
And so - in this case it really isn’t us – it’s them. What is us is the complete inability to recognize this, request what's reasonable, and move the fuck on.
Please let me know if you cannot move on and would like to try a gay best friend.

Sexism: On Guys and Girls on Phones, Part I

Among the cornerstone differences between guys and girls, level of phone activity is high --right up there with preferred terminology for women’s underwear.

We communicate differently, point blank period. Whether it’s on account of right brain left brain function or venus/mars origination doesn't matter. It’s a fact, and you’re not changing it. Time to recognize, accept, and move on.

To that end an evaluation of the true differences in phone thought and approach seems necessary to grasp just how differently the genders approach the device so you'll actually believe you're not changing it.

For (many) girls

The cell, office, home, and any other available phone is like an extension of our brain that can call people, take pictures, and play music. Much like the way the brain directs us to pull our hand from a hot object the second we make contact, it encourages us call you the moment anything happens that remotely involves you, your family, your job, and anything that has touched those things since we’ve known you.

  • We see a billboard that the band you love is coming to town – we text (we should get tix!?).
  • That cologne you wear is on sale at Saks – we call (heeey, it’s me, that Dior Homme I got you is on sale, wanted to know if I should pick up another bottle? Also how’s your day? Hope that pitch meeting went well. Give me a call as soon as you get a chance, okay? HHmm. Maybe I’ll just get a bottle anway… Okay. Call me. Byee.)
  • We see our friend out with a guy you used to work with – we text (OMG!!! Chad and Beth!!) and then in five minutes when you don’t respond we call (Hi, it’s me, OMG, Chad and Beth!!).

That’s how much we love to share our life with you and yours with us. To us, the phone is our end of the cup and never-ending, invisible string we think is permanently attached to you. We have a thought; we pick it up and talk. Why you don’t welcome and reciprocate these spontaneous moments of love in action is beyond us, yet does not stop us.

That’s part one.

Part two is that we love to talk on the phone at length with you every day about – you know what - it doesn’t really matter. This is an extension of the fact that we love to share, coupled with the fact that we like you, but mostly the former. To us love and care are – in part – exhibited through regular contact and knowledge of the mundane details of our every day lives. This is why we want to recap the day with you before we go to bed and hear from you every day of your vacation. I don’t know why – probably evolution.

But, and here’s the kicker, what’s even more important than talking to you on the phone is your desire to talk to us as exhibited by the fact that you call. It does not matter what about. It does not matter when. (note: the first draft of this included a Green Eggs & Ham-style section featuring all the places you can call us from. You’re welcome.) We just want you to call.

It is a cold, hard fact that any man could single-handedly eliminate all male competition by calling on a regular basis to chat and check in. Try it. Instant reign will be yours.

Now we are all working together and very hard to understand and accept that you are not conditioned to function in any of the above ways, but not one of us has succeeded so far. Please be patient.
Tomorrow, the guys.

Monday, September 22, 2008

He should just know that's wrong

Katie and I were working through a communications conundrum the other day.

This is what we do. Evaluate a scenario, assign a decision slash assumption, and then use that as set precedent for all future occurrences of that same nature – like lawyers.

Katie had texted guy at, say 7pm on a Thursday something to the effect of, “hey, what’s up, blah blah.” He had responded via Facebook at, say 9am the next morning, “hey, got your text, blah blah.”

For a second I thought somehow the God of The Book had rigged it so text messages were now routed through to FB inboxes. Not the case but I have since patented that idea by writing it down and mailing it to myself. Suckaas!!

What actually happened is that guy opted to access the Internet, sign into Facebook and type out a message versus texting back or, dare I suggest it, calling. Maybe he was on The Book, remembered the previous night’s text, and thought – oh, right, I’ll just respond now. Maybe the numbers and letters are rubbed off on his phone from excessive texting and now he can't text but forgets how to call. Whatever.

Our mutual reaction was – now that we’re old enough to rent cars could we please stop communicating exclusively via Facebook?

Seems like a reasonable enough request - especially since this has been a consistent issue with this person. And even if it isn't (fine, there is no real difference between the Facebook inbox, email inbox, and text message inbox), it’s our request and one that, once 3-5 dates in with someone, feels legit – part of that category of things you can politely ask for now that you're no strangers and have kissed. It would go something like, “Hey I’m not big on the FB message. I don’t get to check it enough at work. Could we stick to phone? I can check my cell at work.”

Yes I know that sounds dumb but I’m not the one who responded to a text with a Facebook message.

Ultimately, not the point or the crux of Katie’s and my conversation. What we were most curious about was whether or not you could say that and if so, whether you should.

I’m of the camp that if it’s bothering you and it’s that simple a thing, say something. Best case: he says yeah, sure. Worst case: he adamantly refuses in which case you jump ship because he's a freak. Win-win, but that’s the could.

The should is more complicated because it’s a piece of that place we all go to on issues like this: If he thinks it’s this is an appropriate way to communicate then he’s probably not right for me. I’m in the market for someone who just knows what’s correct.

Right. You do that. We all do. And while it would be nice for the people we’re interested in to have the same opinions and styles on everything that matters most to us – that’s not happening ever.

I recommend making a mental list. Column one: things one should innately know. Column two: things one could learn/I could help them understand are important to me.
Put text/FB-ing versus calling in the latter along with wanting to hang out with all my gay friends and never making fun of my weird outfits. Save the former for things like: cheating is bad, my sisters are amazing, and if you’re going to be more than 10 minutes late, call.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What defines a slut?

I was at a Yankee game a few months back when someone asked what defines a slut.

For the record, I was trying very hard to focus on the game. I was even wearing a baseball cap and sitting with my feet up drinking a beer as I understand this is how people properly attend baseball.

Still – girl talk found me. This blog will be my downfall.

I’ve never been asked to define the term “slut” or heard a group of people (all girls, in this case) argue it out. But stadium Socrates was intent on getting down to the nitty gritty.
  • “Someone who sleeps around a lot?” I said.
  • “But how much? And with who?”
  • “Hm, good point,” I said, “I think with multiple people, really often, and without really caring about it.”
  • “But what if the person just really likes sex and how now personal attachment and is clear with each partner that they’re not in a relationship?”
  • “Right. Okay, “I said, “I give up.”
We’ve established an accepted casual-sex culture, but still throw around the world slut or say “sheeeee’s a ‘HOooo” whenever we think it applies.

But if you really break it down, what is a slut?

The game was getting boring slash I don’t understand baseball, so I gave it some critical thought and bberry research.

Wikipedia: Slut (n.) or slattern is a pejorative term for a person who is deemed sexually promiscuous that first appeared in Middle English in 1402 as slutte with the meaning "a dirty, untidy, or slovenly woman." The modern sense of "a sexually promiscuous woman" dates to at least 1450.

Right. So then best to define promiscuous and figure we use slut because it’s shorter and sounds meaner.

From Oxford: promiscuous (adj.) characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, esp. having sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis.

Same questions: how many partners? How casual a basis? Is “mingling” what we're calling it these days? But there’s a word in there that hones on in what, to me, is the difference between sexually liberal and slutty: indiscriminate.

Mmm. So then, indiscriminate (adj.): lacking in care, judgment, selectivity, etc. Synonyms: haphazard, random, arbitrary.
It suggests a complete lack of care or thought is involved. You’re not applying real feeling or even sound decision to the sexual acts or relations. You’re just doing it for whatever instant need or desire pops up: to make someone jealous, to not feel lonely the next morning, to prove you can, or just to get off. The other person is barely involved.

Not by any means a closed case, but at least a little more clarity around the slur.

So next time someone mentions that ________ hooked up with ________ again, think twice before crying “slut”. Consider first whether she was selective in this move. Note whether she applied care and thought. Ask, was she simply expressing her feminist self or did she do it to prove she could?

Chances are this one act doesn’t make ________ a slut. It probably just makes her stupid.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Skip therapy. See The Duchess.

It’s often hard in our years of ever-increasing maturity to make time for a full-on emotional purge. We’ve spent three plus years training ourselves not to cry at work and drunk tears ended when we started blacking out before we realized we were upset. Plus if you’ve been reading this blog you’ve elminated all negative relationships and established a healthy distance from your mother.

And so we find ourselves with thicker skin and less tendency toward hysterics.

Sometimes, though, it takes a massive sob induced by an emotional break through to really clear out the mental ducts and get in touch with some deep inner shit. Apparently this is a girl thing which is fine but perhaps if the male population spent a tad more time crying it out one to three more massive banks would still exist.

So without alcohol, douche bags, and new Sarah McLachlin albums we’re left without much option for letting it all out. Until this Friday, that is.

I was fortunate to sit in on a pre-screening of The Duchess – Keira Knightly’s highly anticipated biopic about the tragic life of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

I am still crying. Seriously. 15 minutes ago the trailer came on while I was watching 90210 and I lost my shit. This – ladies and gay gentlemen – was exactly what we needed.

I don’t want to give the entire plot away, so by way of synopsis I’ll just say that all Georgiana Spencer (Knightly) loves in the world is torn from her delicate and impeccably-dressed limbs by her entire alphabet’s worth of dealbreakers of husband, The Duke (A: adulterer, B: bald, C: cannot communicate, D: dick…). Let me tell you, Ralph Fiennes will never do business in Hollywood again after playing this role because no woman will hire him. He is vile.

G finally finds love with a man who is both fantastic in bed and supports her politics (very difficult to find) only to SPOILER ALERT lose him and the child they bore to the unjust rules of the all-powerful monarchy.

Add deeply moving music to this god damn nightmare and it tops two bottles of Red Wine and an episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition where Ty is replaced by Michael J. Fox -- off the meds.

I worked through more buried shit in those 110 minutes than I have through a decade of journaling and four Ignatian discernment retreats. And, dramatic as I can be, I’m not a your traditional theater crier. I haven’t really lost it since Hotel Rawanda, and even then it was because I love Don Cheedle so much that it killed me to see him crying.

I was sitting next to a 30-ish dude with an uncanny resemblance to Seth Rogan (love) who was crying so hard he had to ask me for a tissue. Once the lights came up he turned to me, blood shot and snot covered, and said, “I should never have let Emily go.”

Opportunities like these don’t come along often. For the low cost of 10-12 dollars (prices vary by proximity to Manhattan) you can accomplish the kind of personal growth generally limited to expensive therapy and/or a really big fight with someone. See it and weep.

Monday, September 15, 2008

He thinks she's taken if...

I was recently talking to a guy about dogs and dog parks.

Manhattan dogs and their mini-fenced parks make the list of staple of city small talk among things like how crowded the subways are, when the Highline is finally going to open, and if Red Mango is better than Pinkberry. We’re a simple people.

This particular dog conversation was centered on this guy’s belief that a girl with a dog is almost definitely in a relationship. Simply, if he sees a girl walking a dog or playing with a dog in a dog park he assumes she’s taken.

Right. Why? His somewhat logical answer is that dogs are a massive investment that, to him, signify major stability and adulthood therefore a girl with a dog is settled and has space is ready to care for a dog thus is probably in a relationship. A dog, to him, is a together thing.

Could a single girl have a dog? Sure, but given the percentage he assigns to that likelihood (admitting this is entirely his own thought process), he’d never approach a girl with a dog. She’s essentially dead to him.

Fine, I thought. We all have our quirks. I’d never approach a guy with a tribal band tattoo or hair in a ponytail. But that’s not because I assume he’s in a relationship, and that’s a considerable difference.

It's worth noting that this guy really likes dogs – would absolutely consider getting one himself -- and would prefer to be with a girl who likes them too. But if she already has one he assumes she’s already taken and so he moves on. All the single girls out there with cute new puggle puppies can count one less fish in the sea.

It makes you wonder though – if this guy’s x’ed out all the dog-owning girls in the world, what else have other people deemed a red flag for “relationship”? Beyond the obvious is carrying flowers or has stroller in hand, what else signifies someone is off the market?

My mind, the following:

  • Is non-stop texting someone while at a bar –to me this says I have someone somewhere else that I am either with or trying to be with. Disclaimer: a game is on and guy is not with all his friend. It is my understanding that game score discussion and/or mocking is a common subject of male texting

  • Is carrying a very, very full bag from one of the following stores: Bed Bath and Beyond (they hit BBB overload at one-two items), TJ Maxx (only a girlfriend would suggest TJ for discount work shirts), or West Elm (they may not be taken but they will be gay).

  • Is walking around the house wares section of Urban Outfitters looking lost slash miserable: your average guy doesn’t even know Urban sells house wares. Poor dude is there because someone suggested the gold-sprayed deer antler sconces would be fab beside grandma’s antique cuckoo-cuckoo clock and could he please pick them up after work??

My list is just as judge-able as the dog-owner assessment above. But it all stands as further evidence of the sad fact that we cannot control other people’s crazy minds.

And so we return to my previous recommended solution: get set up.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dwelling kills

Bad though not shocking news.

Over sharing, analyzing, dwelling, and gossiping is bad for you – especially if you’re a girl. In fairness, the article is based on adolescent girls, but in reality – that’s what we behave like.

According to recent studies covered in today’s NYTimes - excessive talking about problems can contribute to emotional difficulties, including anxiety and depression. Researchers call the frequent, obsessive conversation on the same topic “co-rumination.” I call it my work day.

Of course there’s a difference between self-disclosure (sharing that helps people get to know you and you, yourself) and rumination (re-hashing and dwelling on the same topics with many people). The former is good. The latter gives you ulcers.

The latter can also lead to a scary-though-logical “mental hazard” (their words…) what psychologists call “emotion contagion” or “contagious anxiety.” “One person’s negative thoughts or anxiety can affect another’s mood, sometimes over a long period. Research has shown that people who live with others suffering from depression tend to become depressed themselves.”

Makes perfect sense, unfortunately.

Why though? If people pay for therapy to essentially do just this – air out and re-hash the issues in their life – why is the ability or desire to share that with many people you’re close with problematic?

The article says it best: “It’s like you want to solve a problem whatever it may be, but the advice of one person never satisfies you and you’re constantly on the hunt for more advice…you are looking for empathy and you want someone to feel the way you do. You want your feelings to be justified.”

Right. In these dangerous cases we're not sharing for the sake of sharing. We're share in a form of dwelling to get the answer we want/need. We talk it through over and over again until we hear what we want. I’ve done this. It’s not good and doesn’t help.

But what’s a girl to do? Cap sharing of each issue to three friends tops? Make a cut off of one week of dwelling per issue? Two weeks if it’s major?

Apparently it’s not something you can place rules around (ugh). Apparently the best process is to know when you’ve covered everything there is to cover on an issue and gotten to a point of either resolution or stand-still – then stop and move on. Place a moratorium on the convo and stick to it. Identify that it’s over – then end it.

Okay great. So first we’ll learn to do that with conversation and sharing. Then we’ll learn to do that with men. Then with all our extra time we’ll promptly cure cancer and fix Iraq and dismantle the Republican Party.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On Guyland and why people aren't leaving

So we have a few things going on here.
  1. Instead of settling down and assuming golden generations lifestyles (j-o-b, wife, house), today's guys are relishing in the glory of post-grad lifestlyes that are like college minus the classes (so, college)
  2. Part of why they're in this state is because we've fallen on hard times economically, politically, and some may say fashion wise. So it's not all their fault.
  3. While this seems fun/great/so much better than growing up - it has its detriments for guys these days -- like higher suicide rates, deb, and unemployment. Also they don't read the newspaper or vote.
  4. The media slash Judd Apatow support slash enable this with their barrage of messages suggesting that marriage is bad and beer is good. Beer being a metaphor for all things fun. Best line of the article: "According to a study released last month by the Parents Television Counsil, prime-time broadcast audiences are three times more likely to hear about people having sex with pets, corpses or two other people simultaneously than they are to see a blissed-out marriaged couple between the sheets." (note: use of term "blissed" out is in no way supported).
  5. Apparently if you ask a lot of guys in a dark room and promise not to print their real names, they admit that they're somewhat miserable, fairly lonely, and don't feel all that great about their "Peter Pan" lives. (note: that never say Peter Pan -- only this author did).
I know these guys - some of them very well - and so their condition is not shocking but rather status quo to me. Maybe that's because I too gawk at the thought of marriage "so early" and relish in my weekends up at BC tailgating with my Senior and Sophomore sisters. Yes I have a career and consider myself responsible and directed 5 out of 7 days a week, but I could be making greater sacrifices toward the goal of owning a house or marrying a man. I, like the guys of Guyland, believe I have plenty of time to be a "real" adult. Guyland, in some ways, could be GirlLand (Ladyland?...it is cuter...) just as easily. Not really the point, but something to note.
The point is a question -- one of the many that this article prompts, but the one I'm most interested in.
How and why did we become afraid of settling down? What do we think it's so worthy of eye rolls and Everybody Loves Raymond plots? If studies suggest people are happier settled and building a future versus hanging on to college habits, why do we have trouble believing it?
I don't know. My specialty is dating rules, not marriage success. But here are a few theories - potentially wrong, but worth noting.
  1. We grew up in the age where the divorce rate sky-rocketed from whatever percent to 50.4% - for whatever reasons. And so the vernacular around marriage became, "don't jump in too early!" or "just marry for money and it will all be fine" or "I had a life until I got married." We were raised cynics of marriage.
  2. The studies are wrong/not thorough enough and the real reality is that while marriage has more benefits than singledom, early marriage holds more risk than later marriage. I've written to the author about this. Will get back to you.
  3. This entire condition only exists because parents continue to support 20-somethings well into their 20s leaving us free to choose a life void of responsibilty. Show this article to a soldier in Iraq or a blue collar worker in the Bible Belt and they'll laugh their ass off - then hit you.
My money's on #3. Then again maybe that's because it's also the 20-something condition to blame our parents for everything...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Newsflash: you're in a relationship

I’ve touched on this before, but recent observations prove an entire post is in order.

We of the TGIF generation - line-up: Family Matters, Full House, Step by Step years - approach relationships like BC QB Chris Crane on a 30 yard touch-down pass. We run around like we’re about to make something happen then blow it by 2 feet, 30-seconds too late (that’s for you, Druck).

Thus we often find ourselves in Relationshits (Dan Cook said it, but I thought it first) – relationships that you refuse to acknowledge are relationships that therefore quickly turn to shit.

Thesis paragraph: It is completely valid to take your time getting into something and progress at a slower speed for mutual avoidance of error. It is wildly invalid to treat someone like you’re in a relationship on Monday, Wednesday, and some Fridays but pull the, “I don’t know what their problem is – we’re not officially dating” card when you want to. This I’m seeing in abundance.

To me it’s simple – if you’d have to have a sober, sit-down conversation in order to stop seeing someone – you’re in a relationship. You don’t have to call it that if you don’t want to slash lack balls, but that’s what’s up and everyone but you knows it.

“But Jessie,” you say, “it’s really confusing out there. There’s lots of grey area and fine lines and we haven’t had the talk yet…” You shut your mouth and let me finish, then we’ll discuss how you’re still wrong.

Bullet points (because you clearly need them)

You are in a relationship if:

  • It would be out of the question to make a weekend night plan without at least letting the person know what you’re doing. They don’t have to be invited, but you’re at the point where it would be weird if they didn’t know.

  • You have been invited to an event that holds significant meaning to them: wedding, Cancer Society Benefit, BC game watch, etc. After your performance at said event they said something to the effect of, “you were great” and then wanted to cuddle more than usual.

  • When you meet up with your friends without your person they say, “Where is your person?” And when you say, “I didn’t invite him/her” they look at you like you’re an asshole.

  • You cannot get away with not getting person a gift for one of the following holidays: Birthday, Chrismakkah, Valentine’s Day.

  • If your person found out you hooked up with someone else on that night you told them where you were going but didn’t invite them, they’d break up with you.
Like I said, you don’t have to call her your girlfriend or email Mom that you’re finally dating a guy. All I’m saying is if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s going to get pretty pissed really fast if you don’t start treating it like a duck.

“But Jessie,” you say, “What if we have a talk where we both make it clear that we don’t want to be in a real relationship right now - we just want to spend together not in a relationship of any kind.”

That’s nice. Good luck with that.

Reading Assignment: "Why I'm Leaving Guyland"

"What used to be regressive weekends are now whole years in the lives of some guys," Kimmel tells NEWSWEEK. In almost 400 interviews with mainly white, college-educated twentysomethings, he found that the lockstep march to manhood is often interrupted by a debauched and decadelong odyssey, in which youths buddy together in search of new ways to feel like men. Actually, it's more like all the old ways—drinking, smoking, kidding, carousing—turned up a notch in a world where adolescent demonstrations of manhood have replaced the real thing: responsibility. "
Ouch, but interesting ouch. Thoughts on Wednesday. Until then - pass it on.

You know you're not in college anymore when...

It’s hard to wrap your brain around how not in college you are until you pay a visit to your alma mater and hang out with your sisters who now both go there, for example.

Me: So do you think everyone thinks I’m a student? Sara: No, you look old.

Every moment is a reminder of the fact that your chapter ended 3 + years ago and now someone else is having the best time of your life, only better.

Me: My god that little girl has a blackberry! Some kid: Everyone has a blackberry. Where have you been?

In hell, kid. I’ve been in hell.

There’s no lack of striking juxtapositions between college life and now, but over the course of my three days at Boston College none was more depressing than watching my sister and her five best friends get ready for a party in their Mod (a 1,500 square foot, two story condo equipped with 2.5 bathrooms, free furniture, and a backyard located among 65 other Mods in a section of senior housing best compared to heaven). In general I avoid being a Debbie Downes, but this shit was too upsetting to endure alone:

Getting dressed
  • Senior Year of college: Depending on sizes you have between 3 and 6 full wardrobes to select from. My sisters Mod is complete with five full length mirrors in addition to five best friend consultants who will go so far as to select a complete ensemble for you if you don’t feel like it slash are already too drunk. They will also do your hair and/or make-up.

    Junior Year of the-rest-of-your-life: Depending on the size of your apartment you have between .5 and .75 wardrobes to select from. There’s a 30% chance you have a full length mirror and a 20% chance your roommate is home to dress you – though even if she was it’s now too weird to ask.
  • 21: Power Hour around 9pm to kick off the evening. Best option for a 5-7 hour evening with a peak around 2am. This has been tested at length.

    25: 10:30, half-dressed, alone in your room listening to your power hour soundtrack from college. Your in-house options are a glass of wine or a beer. Go wine and you might fall asleep before midnight, again. Go beers and you might not fit into your outfit in an hour.

  • BC: You know exactly who’s coming, approximately who you will make-out with and are in discussion with the girls around the short list of second options should the need arise.

    NYC: You assess chances of meeting a straight, decent guy around 10%. Chances of seeing said straight, decent guy after hypothetical meeting, 3%.
The Scene
  • Time of your life: Your entire extended friend group in your living room drinking 30’s of Busch Lite that cost $14.99 a piece to a mix of music you spend your entire Summer perfecting.

    Now: Let’s just leave it at 2 drinks cost more than that whole 30 and your entire friend group hasn’t been in the same place in 3 years.
I got more than one weird look as I screamed, “SAVOR EVERY MOMENT!!” upon leaving the Mod. Then I saw a guy projectile vomit onto the girl holding him up outside my sister’s place. “Eeeww! I am totally not hooking up with you tonight now!” she said.

Hm. Right, I thought. Do not miss that.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This just in: cheating is genetic

Great news. No sarcasm. Guys have a genetic disposition toward cheating. According to a study recently published in the Proceedings Of the National Academy of Sciences (a very official sounding document), “Men are more likely to be devoted and loyal husbands when they lack a particular variant of a gene that influences brain activity.”

I know. Wow.

The gene variant – which has a weird name – is present in two of every five men. Yes, that’s 40%. In studies men with two copies of the allele (thank you seventh grade bio) had twice the risk of experiencing marital dysfunction compared to men carrying one or no copies (I can't do that math).

The allele studied regulates the activity of a hormone in the brain that acts as a sort of key to a lock box. Inside that lock box – the desire to cheat (and whatever Al Gore put in there). So men with two keys (two of the alleles) are more likely to get that box open. Doesn’t mean they’ll make the move to open it, but it’s there – taunting.

Why study men and not women? Because the hormone being examined is known to play a larger role in the brains of men vs. women. Sorry.

So why is this great news, no sarcasm? Two reasons.

It confirms that rage-inducing maxim: “once a cheater, always a cheater.” People tend to be touchy about that phrase. Like they feel about, “all girls turn into their mothers.” With cheating based in the genetic code we can just say “born a cheater, always a cheater” and, girls share ½ their mother’s genes it should just be “all girls are already their mothers”. Nice to have that settled once and for all.

We may some day be able to test for the cheating gene in men. Yes, weird. Sure, dangerous. But no doubt helpful. Just because a guy could cheat doesn’t mean he will (according to both logic and this study), but at least you’d know what you were getting involved with. It would be like having the chance to interview every girl a guy ever dated before you make a decision on him – sort of.

Of course it does leave you wondering what else is pre-imprinted on the genetic code, for both guys and girls. I’d like to propose we do some research into the following:

-complete and utter ability to apologize
-tendency to say, “what do you want from me” as an attempted close to every argument
-stalker-like cell phone, blackberry, email, and Facebook

You decide to which side they apply.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It all started with Sunday Night Sex Talks

Today marks the 100th post. This is, I’ve determined, the first time I’ve created 100 of anything. Yes it’s true that one “creates” an outfit, but I stopped taking polaroids of them around #89.

Considering the occasion I figure it’s fitting to explain how this whole thing got started – how and why it seemed like a good idea to put the conversations inside my head and most bars on the online page for group consumption.

In the literal sense - Pierson made me start a blog because he thought our daily gchats and my column-length emails should be shared. He thought that, like Bob Dylan and Whitney Houston, we were hitting on issues that were at the heart of our generation’s plight. I agreed because it was a slow season at work and I really do love to write. Credit is due to Pierson, though. I came up with the name but he figured out how to use blogger, without which this would be not a blog.

But in the figurative sense – the seeds of this site were sown several years ago, in a healthy-sized common room of a Boston College dorm, at 4-something in the morning over a session of beer-induced sharing we would later term Sunday Night Sex Talks (god bless coincidence).

If memory serves me, it was just after a Drinking Survivor competition (like most genius things were). My college life partner Katie and I were, per usual, cooking Dutch pancakes for whatever collection of guys and girls were still awake. Typically we would sit around and talk about whatever collection of guys and girl were not still awake, but on this night the conversation somehow turned to hooking up.

In general the details of hooking up weren’t something we spoke about it detail with members of the opposite sex. In specific they weren’t something we spoke about at all with members of the opposite sex we’d hooked up with. Both applied to the group present.

It started vague – Katie: “Do you think guys and girls want the same things out of a hook up” but ended with the sort of specifics that would make the quote wall first thing the next morning – Berrini (a male): “I mean, do you honestly think you could be better at giving a hand job than us?!”

We laughed and argued and blushed. One of us may have taken notes. Another may have thrown up (from the beer, not the topics), but we all left feeling like we just had the best sex ed class of our lives.

And so by popular demand our Sunday Night Sex Talks continued. People found out and asked to be included. Other people found themselves in the right place on the right night for a very good time. Whomever the mix for whatever the forum slate, we opened up a lot and learned a whoa lot.

Katie and I likened ourselves to wise figures – like modern teachers of men to fish, albeit for better sex, healthier relationships, and a clue as to why some guys never call back.

I can say with certainty that I made one less mistake and two more smart moves (one literal ;) ) from that point on because of those conversation.

Today we are generally sober and can’t fit a group larger than three in our living rooms. We also tend to go to bed by 10:30 on Sunday nights. But I thought, and old members agreed, that the time is riper than ever for open discussion of closed issues. Real-life topics like work and money that have been mixed in because they're (sigh) now just as important as who’s hooking up with whom and how.  But the philosophy of those drunken Sunday nights remains:

To say and share what we’re thinking, feeling, and wondering – no apologies or holds bar – so that we might someday live non sexually-repressedly, openly communicatively, and less pissed-offedly ever after.

The end.

Sexism: Guys v. Girls on Marriage Thoughts

It’s no mystery that girls think about marriage more - and earlier - than guys. My first job out of college was working for the online weddings resource, TheKnot.com. Our most prized stat was the fact that upon first discovering the site, women spent an average of 3 hours there -- only 1/3 of them were actually engaged.

One would venture to guess that less than a third of all marriage-aged guys even know that TheKnot.com exists.

Old series, new topic: Sexism - on thoughts on marriage

Warning: what you are about to read may induce anger, shame, and denial – if you are a girl.

For girls, it usually goes like this:

Someone says someone is a great guy and that we would totally get along with him. We immediately consult The Book and find that he went to VTech. Aaaannnnddd we’re off!

Right. ACC school, we think (see, we went to Boston College), that could be good. We could throw awesome game watches at our place with our collective ACC friends. 8-10 people ideally. And with that 8 layer bean dip Mom used to make. Excellent. And then when BC plays VTech we’d make a trip to wherever the game is and have a college friends reunion. Of course the tailgate we own will be at BC. Hhmm, yes, that would be very nice.

Yes, it’s that bad. And it works just as freakishly the other way.

We meet a guy we click with at a bar. “I’m from Central Jersey, you?” we say. “Oh, you’re close to home, nice. I’m actually from Iowa,” he says. First thought. Ugh that’s far to fly for the holidays. Boom!

It’s essentially a word association game except all the associations have to do with how well this life fits our life.

I’m an only child -- No obligatory bridesmaids.

I’d say Football is my favorite sport -- There go Sundays.

I’m really close to my mother -- Fuck.

The devil loves the details.

What's weird is that we ("we" representing those whose minds work this way - I assess it around 75% of the female population) don't necessarily want to marry these guys. So there's no need to panic slash break up with whomever you’re seeing. We do this to everyone. And, ultimately, these insta-assessments aren't making or breaking the deal. It's just what we do. Yes, more so if we really like you, but it’s nothing to freak out over. It's innate and we're not stopping. Trust us, if we could stop, we would.
For guys I assume it sets in a little bit later
(read: not prior to actually meeting the person):

When VTech finds out we went to BC maybe he goes, “cool, good football school, maybe she’ll like watching football,” but it’s doubtful he takes it as far as, “shit, we probably can’t afford two tailgates so we’re going to have to pick one, and I’ll be damned if I’m spending every Saturday with those fucking Flutie freaks.” Guys don’t alliterate.

From what I understand, guys drop girls into buckets fairly easily. So “could marry her” is just a massive extension of “could date her” (something a guy can figure out pretty easily) that he'll deal with sometime around 30 slash when she makes him.

So naturally for guys details like where her hometown is and how much tailgate spots at her alma mater go for aren't really in context yet slash ever.

“But really when is it? Fourth date? 2 months? After they’ve slept with her?” I pressed one male member of The Board.

“I don’t know. I depends on what comes up I guess,” he said.

“But everything is coming up all the time!” I said, “You’re getting to know the person. It’s a constant barrage of details and clues.”

“Hhmm. No. It’s just hanging out and getting to know someone. But I feel like I could maybe start to look at a girl seriously, like in a marriage light, if I maybe felt like I could be upset and possibly cry in front of her.”

"What?! I mean that's precious but how are you supposed to figure that out?"

"Just a feeling I guess. And would definitely take a lot of time."

There you have it. A non-answer answer, but arguably a way better response than that of the girl camp.


Results from this investigation lead me to believe that thoughts/plans/assessments around marriage, should be filed in the same category as opinions of each other's friends (and who they're dating). Things Best Left Undiscussed and Never Confessed Unless Someone is About to Get Hurt (slash married).

Proceed as necessary.