Sunday, November 30, 2008

The three-month tell-tale

I have this theory that a lot of people disagree with.

I think that if a relationship doesn’t go anywhere in three months, it probably never will.

Bold statement, but hear me out.

You meet someone you think you really click with. You go on a first date, which you think goes pretty well. You go on a second date, which you also think goes pretty well. Roughly three weeks pass.

You don’t officially schedule a third date but you’re fully engaged in night-out (some friends and I are headed to Arlo & Esme – come meet us!) and occasion-based (saw BC pulled it out against Maryland – congrats!) texting. Maybe you meet up one of those nights. Maybe you go on a third date. Regardless you probably hook up. Now at three weeks to a month in, things have shifted.

You did the dates in dresses and a button-down thing. Those brought you to nights out and mornings in. At this point you’re either in regular-ish touch with future plans on the horizon, or you’re stuck in that unreliable texting-to-meet-up zone where you’re not really sure how the other person feels. You couldn’t with certainty say if this is going anywhere. You’re pretty sure you’ll hook up again, but you’re not sure if there will be a “do you want to grab some bagels?” in the morning.

Now it takes people different amounts of time to warm up. And two, like-speeded people could take more than three months to get to a point where they’d even say they’re seeing each other.

My theory does not apply to those people.

My theory applies to situations where one person, around three months, would say something like the following, “I mean, we’ve seen each other maybe one a week for two months and I still feel weird calling him” or “I’ve taken this girl out five, maybe six times, and she hasn’t once mentioned hanging out with her friends.”

And then the person on the receiving end of that comment goes, “oohhh yeeaahh, not good...”

If two people want to be legitimately dating each other they will figure that out within three months. If two people don’t want to be dating each other they will also figure that out within three months. But if one person wants to be dating someone who still isn’t quite sure – the late-night texting, occasional hook-ups, and is-this-even-a-date?-dates can go on for a very long time - years even...

That is my theory. That three months marks the time where one person has likely made a call one way or another. They might not be saying it, but they've probably made it.

And so, I believe that if you’ve found yourself in that confused places after three months, you're playing with fire. My advice, sack up and be clear about what you think is going on here or abort mission. Harsh, I know, but dating someone who doesn't think you're dating them is sort of like not dating anyone at all.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The truth will set you freak



Subject: Please don't sue your dry cleaner, Anna

Hey Matt,

So our mutual dry cleaner, Anna, has been on my case about the fact that we should meet. Apparently you are “nicest guy” and she seems to think I am “nicest girl” and therefore, in her mind, we should know each other.

The other day she gave me your business card from a stack you must have left in a suit jacket you brought to be cleaned.

It’s not every day a local service provider sets you up with a fellow customer, and I'll be honest, I’m pretty curious about who my dry cleaner thinks I should meet.

So perhaps we should make a really sweet Asian lady's day and grab a drink in the neighborhood?
Nice to finally meet you,
-Jessie-
------------------------------------------------------------------------
After one week and seven drafts, that’s the best I’ve got - the god’s honest truth.

When I read it, it doesn’t sound that bad. But I’ve had a few months to get used to. Matt has had no months. There’s a chance she’s mentioned me to him, but I still doubt it. To him this will be out of a place so much father than left field that it has no proper metaphorical phrase. Also, I’m sending it to his work email for that added element of whaaat?

Imagine the inbox:

  • Subject: _______ Ad buy
  • Subject: Site Trafficking report for ________
  • Subject: Please don't sue your dry cleaner, Anna
  • Subject: “ ______ in Media” presentation


His first move will probably be to show it to a co-worker. “Dude – you need to see this.” Within fifteen minutes it will likely be around the entire office. “Smitty – you hear about that freak email Matty just got?”

Shortly thereafter the more important people from his gchat list will be informed “So.....I just got a random email from a girl my dry cleaner set me up with."Then start the email forwards. Forward: sister. Forward: fraternity brothers. Forward: department that issues restraining orders.

The response I want:

Hey Jessie - wow, that's ridiculous, but Anna is the best. So where do you live on Thompson? And what do you do? Let's definitely grab a drink sometime soon. What works for you?

Yhe response I may get: Un-subscribe...

I have, as you can imagine, consulted countless members of my inner and outer circles looking for advice on this matter. Approximately half of them (including my Mother) have advised I abort mission.

  • Me: I just can’t believe how far I’ve gotten in this ridiculous situation Mom! I have to follow through!
  • My Mom: Far?! Jessie, you’re no where!

The rest – I’m convinced – want me to keep it going for their own entertainment, which I cannot blame. My own entertainment is a large part of why I'm keeping it going.I do have Anna's blessing, which is probably necessary.

  • Me: So Anna, I think I'm going to email Matt.
  • Anna: Hahaha Jessica.
  • Me: I know - hahaha - except I'm serious. I'm going to email him, tomorrow. (Her expression changes from hysterical to grave. She reaches for the small of my arm and grasps it tightly.)
  • Anna: Go for it Jessica. He really really nicest guy.


It doesn't get much clearer than that.

So after all their advice and my own accomplished over-analysis I’ve settled on this decision:

There are two kinds of people in this world. People who would contact Matt and people who would not. I am people who would. And based on Anna's recommendation and extensive Facebook profile evaluation, I believe Matt is people who would too. So I send. Tomorrow.

Please note that a few particularly incriminating posts may disappear from this blog for an undetermined period of time.Baby steps toward the full truth...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Laundro-Matt Lie


I now have six ways of contacting Matt.

I could call him, email him, friend him, or stop by his place of business. It’s too much.Two days ago he was a figment of my dry cleaner’s money-making imagination. Today he is a guy of like age and location (street, to be exact), with similar interests (30 Rock!), an admirable occupation (my company buys what his company sells - I mean...) , and really fun looking family vacation pictures. (They went to Africa. His parents are featured enjoying a wine tasting in the Sahara. These are my people).

My next move is critical. The way I see it I have two options: create an intricate and fool- proof lie or tell the very awkward truth.

Option one: The Lie

Matt works at ________ a place of business that my place of business often does business with. It is, in fact, entirely possible that someone within my company regularly communicates with a Matt-like person, if not actual Matt. So it is not outside the realm of possibility that I might need to contact a Matt-like-person-if-not-actual-Matt to ask questions about the capabilities of his company.

It would – and mind you the draft is very rough at this point – go something like this:

Hi Matt,

My name is Jessie and I work with ________ from our digital team. _________ suggested I contact you with a few questions about ________’s capabilities for an upcoming program we’re working on with the _______ brand.

If you could give me a call when you have the chance I’d love to just ask you a few questions.

Thanks!
Jessie

Cake. He calls. We chat. I assess his entire person based on his business phone call performance. It’s perfect. We proceed with more calls and emails. I arrange an eventual meeting where I engage in appropriate-though-borderline work flirting. Then comes some vague "work” event as thanks for his help on this project. We drink, talk about our mutual love of theme parties and smart puns. End scene.

This plan affords me the opportunity to abort mission mid-lie if Matt proves sub-par avoiding the need for that eventual conversation where I admit I lied – he says, “how could you?! I thought I loved you! Now I don’t even know. who. you. are.…” and then we’re both seen walking around the city lost and forlorn to some heart-wrenching Brian Adams song – in the rain.

I could do this. I lie fairly well. But I can’t help fearing how I’ll back myself out of this if - sorry Oprah - when it works out.

For starters I’d have to delete every post about him and swear everyone I know to secrecy, including Anna who as we know is not easily trusted. I’d probably have to find an entirely new dry cleaner which is a bear of a task in this city. Then I’d eventually have to sit him down and tell him how this all really came about.

One of those "listen, there's something I need to tell you..." conversations. My version: our dry cleaner wanted to set us up. She stole a business card from your suit pocket and gave it to me. I used it to contact you and built an elaborate lie to meet you. I swore everyone in my life to secrecy and deleted the posts from the series of blog entries I had written about you and shared with hundreds of people, some of whom live overseas (what up Estonia!). I'm so sorry. I never meant for this to happen. Except...I sort of did."

According to most movies what follows next is a period of anger and total separation. It’s not that he doesn’t miss me. It’s just that he can’t trust me. And so I’ll have to concoct some grandiose romantic plan to win back his trust in a public forum with a well crafted speech that, god-willing, ends in him saying, “just shut up and kiss me.”

I’m fairly confident I can do it, but considering the obstacles it may be worth entertaining the option of telling the truth.

Next Monday: the truth option. Tomorrow: Happy Thanksgiving.

(thanks to Doug for Laundro-Matt. genius)

Friday, November 21, 2008

This is the Matt post I may eventually have to delete


With business card in hand I do what any normal citizen of the 21st century would do. I Internet stalk the shit out of him.
First stop: Facebook
As you (should) know, a Facebook search can be incredibly fruitful or painfully dead-end.
With a name like Matt _________ chances of multiples are high. Narrowing by network could work, plus Matt’s cell is included on his business card, so I could search by hometown city or college city. Both are promising but not solid. Land on an out of network, fully-locked profile and you’re done. But it’s mountains and valleys with this type of stalk: an in-network, wide-open find offers everything you need to determine if you could build a lasting life with a person.
Stakes are high. (note: Matt’s full name and place of business will remain private. This situation is fucked-up enough. But I will say this: his job is absolutely unbelievable. Sorry.)
My fears are endless. Matt could have acne, be bald, love cats, do drugs, be fat, own guns, be hairy, be inked , wear jewelry, keep kosher, be lazy, be married... Right. So they’re more like alphabetical. There's a longer story there...
I approach the Facebook global search box a bundle of nerves. Also, I’m at work. That should help your mental picture. I’m at work, still wearing my cloche hat and coat because I'm too flustered to remember I'm wearing them.
My search produces two results by the name Matthew ________. Two unbelievable results. The first – a 30-some year old Asian man who looks strikingly similar to Anna. Repeat: a man who looks like Anna.

“HA!” I yell out (still at work…). "Of course. Of. COURSE."

"Anna" Matt’s profile is locked but I can “see Friends of Matthew” of which there is one. One friend: a like-aged woman of like race. Also he’s wearing those sunglasses that have bright yellow lenses so he looks like a bug. Game over.
Matthew _____ number two is a man with no profile picture, no friends, no network and no access. “He” is essentially a non-person.

Non-Matt’s profile is also locked but I can see his friends too. Well could see his friends if he had any. He doesn’t.
So we have a potentially married Asian-woman-looking Matt in ski goggles and a total loser Matt who has chosen to not include a photo. It would be comical if it wasn’t devastating.
Just “Matt” __________ same results. “M” _________ no results. __________, “Matt” my Facebook froze.
On to Google:
The first two googs are my same Matt’s from le Book. The third though – the third is a Matt from Friendster. I know – who still has Friendster?! My future boyfriend, that’s who - back off.
Friendster Matt’s profile is accessible - accessible and very promising.Location: here. Birthdate: do-able. Occupation: a match to the b-card. Last date of Friendster activity: 2005 (phew!).

But here’s the catch. Neither the listed high school nor location of college match the cell phone area code on my Matt’s business card. So I’m not sold on this Matt. The evidence is mounting, but a cell phone area code does not lie.
I spend most of the day convinced my Matt is one of the two Facebook non-options. Part of me is relieved that it’s finally over. But the rest of me is - I’ll admit it - let down. Did I really believe Matt was going to be some sort of cosmic perfect match? That Anna, the woman who washes our clothes somehow knew what was right for us both?

Yes. Whatever. So did you.
I pick up the business card one more time at the end of the day and run my fingers across it looking for answers. Are you there, Matt? It’s me, Jessie. And then, as if answering my cheap allusion to a Judy Blume book, some unknown force draws me to Matt’s email address like a Ouiji board in a 5th grade girl's bedroom.

There, under that cryptic cell phone number I find that it’s not Matt@_______ - it’s Matty. He is Matty ________ like I am Jessie ________. Of course he is.
Back to the Facebook I fly and with one extra letter it all comes together.
Matty ________. Location: here Date of Birth: do-able Employer: _________. A perfect match.
It is Friendster Matt – strange cell phone area code issue aside – and his profile is wide open….

An Open letter to chronic talk-blockers

Hey there,

This may seem somewhat confusing and definitely selfish.

See, I know that you don’t really know how much I like _________. You’re not around when I see if there are any new photos on his flickr account or if girls he recently friended start writing on his wall. I don’t think you were there the night I got drunk and told everyone at the bar that I’ve liked him for the six to eight months I’ve known him - ten if you count the time I knew of him.

So I know you don’t know that when I’m with him in group settings I’d like him to be exclusively conversing with me. Therefore I know it’s not out of spite, hatred or blindness-out-of-one-eye that when you're present you seem to fully occupy his conversation for most of if not the entire night.

I’m not sure if it’s because you’re just not paying attention to the internationally recognized signs of “I’m talking to this person for a reason” (touching of arm, buying of drinks, awkward giggling) or if you are trying to save me from humiliation because you heard he’s not interested (in which case it is the attention thing because if you were paying any you’d know that’s never stopped me).


Bottom line - you're a talk block, and from what I've heard, I'm not your only victim.


You talk-blockers are all the same. You just love group conversation so much that it prevents you from fully assessing the bar or house party lanscape to note that someone else would like slash needs to be talking to the person you're hogging. It's usually completely innocent, but is it not true that apathy is sometimes as cruel as intent? (It is.)


To you it's just another long conversation. But to the person - ney happiness you're blocking it's one more failed attempt at the conversation that potentially leads to ghcatting, which might someday transition to hanging out solo, which can sometimes lead to hooking up which 1 times out of 10, becomes dating.


Directive that comes after the bottom line: back off.

And if you must engage in solo convo with single men you have absolutely not interest in, please apply the gym equipment rule - fifteen minutes per man. Yes, I know it's technically thirty.

Many thanks,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I now know the identity of Matt.

Anna is redeemed.




Definitely a liar and potentially a criminal but at least, for now, redeemed.



I go in Friday morning to drop off a load of legitimately dirty clothes. It’s around 8:38…8:40 – I can’t be sure.


My plan is to say nothing. It’s been over two weeks since Anna’s even mentioned Matt so I’ve decided the drop-it-and-regroup plan is my best move. I walk in and she jumps out of her ironing seat.


“Jessica! Hi!” she says, walking quickly toward me. She proceeds to give me the kind of hug a person you don’t really know well accidentally gives you because they think they do know you really well but realize they don’t mid hug. This affection is unprecedented. I’m thrown for a complete loop. I immediately consider aborting the no-mission mission and launching straight into the cry-my-eyes-out strategy. Thankfully she speaks before I lose my shit.


“You JUST miss Matt Jessica!” (not this old routine…) “Look! There his shirts! Right there! On floor!”

Indeed right there on the floor were a stack of to-be-laundered button downs: a pale blue, a white with fine maroon stripes, a very nice taupe and blue check. They were the kind of shirts I’d like to be dating.

She’d pushed me over the edge.


“Anna. This is ridiculous. Why did you even tell me about Matt if you didn’t want me to meet him! You need to make this happen Anna. I mean, do you even tell him about me? Does he know about me at all?!”

(To help your mental picture of how ridiculous this is - I’ve launched into this Oscar-worthy performance while wearing my brand new felt cloche hat – the very type hat that Angelina Jolie is featured wearing in trailers for her most recent film The Changeling. Had I been yelling "I want my son!!" the moment would be identical.)


She balks at my boldness – balks and then cowers.


“No Jessica.” (her head hangs low) “I no really talk to Matt much. I very shy to Matt.”


Then she takes my dirty laundry out of my hand and starts sorting it on the counter as if to say – yes, yes you’re right – I am but a simple laundress, not the brilliant matchmaker I aspire to be; I've failed us both.


Just as I suspected. I go in for the kill.


“Well Anna – I’m really disappointed. Disappointed and upset and confused and sad.” (Whatever, she deserves it. She lied to me.)


Anna turns and walks away from me. Shit, I think, too far. Back peddle, back peddle…


“Oh, Anna – I’m sorry – I didn’t mean…”


But then I notice that she’s gone behind her counter and into the box where she keeps all the shit people leave in their pockets – spare change, dirty chapsticks, old condoms - and I see that among the bin of crap is a small stack of blue cards. Anna reaches for the cards, picks one up,walks slowly back and hands it to me.


“Look," she offers, "I have this?”


Then into my leather-gloved hand Anna places a business card - Matt’s business card.

I am holding Matt’s. Business. Card.


He, by chance, left a small stack of business cards in the front pocket of a suit he just dropped off. She, by chance, found that stack of business cards immediately prior to my arrival. And then she (and here’s the maybe criminal part) decided to give me one of those business cards on account of my hysterics (slash fate).


And so I now have, in my possession, Matt’s full name, office and cell number, work email address, and place of business.


And with that, things just got a whole lot more interesting…

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

FYGuys: Guys-in-suits

FYGuys:

a new, amazingly-named series providing tips to guys
straight from the cryptic minds of women.

The guys-in-suits effect is as illogical as it is impenetrable. It is not rooted in deep thought or consideration. It is does not vary by part of country or continent. It is not tested or even really questioned. It’s just fact.

A group of men in well-fitting suits are of instant interest. Not khakis and a blazer or nice slacks and a dress shirt. Black or grey, three-button, straight-legged suits. Light shirt, simple tie.

Yes the sum of any group is comprised of its parts; a singular man in a well-fitting suit can be a site for sore eyes. But the guys-in-suits effect is only an effect because of the group. The principle holds that the individual appeal of each member present is positively affected by the power of the group at large.

To better explain: here is what goes through the female brain when she sees a group of men in suits:
  • Well would you lookey there...
  • Those men must all have jobs.
  • Hhmm, though it could be that all those men just came from or are going to a very fun party where you dress up.
  • Either way – this is good news…
  • Let me take a closer look at all these guys-in-suits.
  • MMmm, yes many of them might be good looking. It’s hard to tell because I’m so distracted by trying to figure out why they’re all wearing suits right now.
  • Have they been hard at work all day raising money for an international charity that saves baby seals, water, and the auto industry?
  • Did they just celebrate the Christening of their best friend’s brand new baby girl with a classy dinner party but wanted to cap off the night just like the good ‘old times?
  • Either way – I can’t seem to stop looking at them…
  • They definitely look better than most of the other guys in this place.
  • Whatever the reason – they’ve really put some effort into the ensemble.
  • Yes – yes I think I’d like to have one of these guys-in-suits.
  • Now – which one…
It is – and I’m not proud of this – sometimes as simple as that.

Naturally the guys-in-suits effect grows more significant the further from 5pm and Wall Street the group is found. Guys-in-suits at O’Irish’s after the work bell rings are old hat. There’s also a law of diminishing return at places like weddings and funerals. In that circumstance guys in jeans and white Hanes undershirts would probably perform best. And though it should go without saying – bad suits are worse than no suits at all

But guys in decent-to-good suits in places and times otherwise unpopulated by guys-in-suits can only leads to girls-with-questions. And as previously discussed - 9 times out of 10, girls with questions about guys in bars will ask those questions at a volume loud enough to make their intentions clear.

Ergo - suit up. Groups of four or more work best. No small briefcases (“look! That guy has a murse”), black dress-shirts with silver shiny ties (“I’m pretty sure that kid wore that same outfit to his bar mitzvah”) or double-breasted jackets (No joke for this one – it’s really quite serious).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's because we don't have enough house parties



Liz made a very bold statement the other day – a bold statement that might – and I’m just forecasting here – save this great city. She said she thinks there is a direct correlation between the lack of house parties and lack of dating here in New York.

We were talking about the fact that three of her friends – not one or two but three individual people - had come out of various Halloween parties with dates -- dates they did not have before entering and actually went out with thereafter.

“Of course,” I said, “that’s directly in line with my Costume Conversation theory.”

“No,” she said, “I think it was the house party element. They were all Halloween house parties. I think there's something to the fact that you more easily meet people at house parties.”

The group fell silent – partly, I think, because our minds had been blown but mostly, I’m sure, because we didn’t know what a house party in Manhattan meant.

The environment doesn’t seem all that different than a bar, you’re thinking. It features the drinking of alcohol to loud music among people you do and do not know. Sure the booze is free and there’s a co-ed bathroom, but beyond that how different could they be?

About as different as a nursery and prison cell my friends.

The following intricate elements endemic to the adult house party scene are what make this environment ripe for the kind of interaction that leads to dates:
  • The booze is free:
People who work in non-profits, media, and education often have trouble getting drunk to the point of approaching the opposite sex because drink prices here are socio-economically prohibitive. Sometimes they even refrain from going to certain bars on account of $7 drafts. As the old saying goes: a corporate lawyer may love an editorial assistant, but where would they make their drink?

The house party provides an equal opportunity environment for all members of young adult Manhattan breaking down barriers that previously prevented us from meeting while drinking.

  • The bathrooms are co-ed.
The last time I met a guy in line for the bathroom at a bar he was too black-out to realize he wasn’t a girl.


In the house-party scenario the bathroom line is much like the line to buy textbooks that first week back to college. Easy opener (“ugh, long line, huh?”), cake-walk follow-up (“So, how do you know ______”), brilliant closer (“haha, okay, well I’ll see you back here in 20-30 minutes now that both our seals are broken!”). And, you're in.


  • It is smaller than a bar – much smaller.
Part of the problem with bars is that it’s often hard to get close enough to casually bump into and start dancing without someone without creeping them out. At a house party everyone starts in a state of creep-you-out-closeness such that minor bumps, taps, or grabs can seamlessly transition into conversation starters. “Oooh, sorry. Was that your hand? I meant to grab a beer.”

  • You - Seven-Degrees-Of-Kevin-Bacon-style – already know everyone there.

Somehow you’re connected to anyone present by an e-vite forward chain. Not only does that give you a padded comfort zone to start talking to anyone you’d like, but it also means most of the people present probably check out. I mean, you’re there.

  • The list goes on:

It’s easier to make-out seated on a couch vs. standing on a dance-floor. Nothing brings people together like an 8-layer dip. If you’re a smoker you may pop out to the fire escape with other smokers some of whom may be very attractive.

The theory checks out on all accounts offering one more dating aid to our ever-growing list of solutions (as a refresher it's: hot dog cart at 3am, halloween costume, and going to a bar alone)

Liz – you do us proud. I look forward to the invitation to your upcoming holiday house party.

Same goes for the rest of you. I make a killer 8-layer.

Dani 911

My sister Dani often adopts the language of a 60-year-old British kindergarten teacher when she’s really mad at someone.

She re-states the offense that’s been committed, highlights what about it is wrong, and explains how and why it must stop.

So what would be - “Johnny, I know that you took Susie’s hair bow and flushed it down the toilet. It is not appropriate to take other people’s things and destroy them. I am very disappointed in your behavior and want you to go apologize to Susie and take a seat in the time-out corner for five minutes.”

Becomes:
___________ completely disregarded _________, which is inappropriate and reflects terrible manners, and so ________ needs to ___________ immediately.

She thinks in action items.

She’s planning to go to Law School, but I think she should host a show like Nanny 911 but for grown-up misbehaviors. She could call it “You’re An Adult” – heavy on the tone.

Whether rooted in the princples of law or kindergarten – her process is probably effective. I can’t say for sure because she doesn’t reprimand me as I am both older and rarely wrong.

But it’s true that when tempers fly, bottom lines get lost and fights become about all sort of other lines not at or near the bottom.

Dani is a fighter of wars not battles -- a general not a private. Her strategy: to keep her opponent focused. Her tactic: to argue with a clearly expressed thesis statement. It’s sort of like a 5-paragraph essay you’d write for high school english. Example: Thesis statement: you are acting like an asshole. I will now argue that premise with the use of three, clear supporting details concluding in direction on how you should stop.

There’s more than just sisterly pride slash fear in this story. Dani’s fight mode makes me wonder how her tactic would perform in less combative environments like – say – the dating arena.

There’s no lack of moments in my supposed adult life that I need direction on how to make something happen as quickly and painlessly as possible. That usually involves getting someone else to do something. So could Dani’s kingergarten-literary analysis-Nanny-General approach work in communicating all sorts of confusing dating thoughts, as a start. Considering the following:

  • Dani making someone get her a date:

Shelley, as you know I’m looking for someone with like interests and goals to casually date until I know there’s potential for something more. I’d like you to recommend three options for our follow-up discussion next Wednesday.
  • Dani reflecting on the date:

_______ met my interest in like activites but was unclear on life goals. I’ve asked him to think about it and email me an answer for consideration of a potential second date.
  • Dani dumping said date

_________, your decision to hook up with someone else while dating me goes against my previously explained life goal of not dating douchebags. I’d like you to apologize and then never call me again.
  • Dani explaining to me why my writing about her entire dating process is unwelcome and frankly exploitive

Right.

Tomorrow: what do a house parties and a husband have in common?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Matt-tics. It's like tactics but I've replaced "tact" with "Matt" because I can't help myself

Public outcry for my next steps in the on-going Matt saga has been overwhelming – overwhelming and frankly really weird.

I’d like to thank everyone for their critical analysis of what’s really going on with Anna. If the crisis of my laundry love were, instead, the situation in the Middle East, I believe it would be solved. Too bad.

The following recommendations come from a college friend, a high school friend, a perfect stranger, and my Mom. Sources remain anonymous to protect the person who suggested option number 3.

1. The Pump Fake

It has been suggested that Anna is an evil mastermind who tells select, female customers about a mythical Matt so they too will obsessively clean their clothes in hopes of meeting this nicest guy. This conpsiracy theorist went so far as to suggest that Anna tells us hopeless women that “Matt” comes at different times of day – times of day when her business is typically slow...

I mean – wow – but okay.

Matlock suggests I disappear from Anna’s for two weeks then go back and tell her all about the nicest guy I’ve met through my new drycleaner. Game – set – match.

The move is based on the premise that Anna is, in addition to being an evil mastermind, a fiercely competative business-woman -- a valid and clever assumption based on the fact that she named her business Best Dry Cleaners (someone’s reading carefully…). But Anna’s whole issue with me is that she believes I have a secret boyfriend I’m not telling her about and therefore refuses to set me up w/ Matt because she’s afraid I’ll hurt him (wack, I know). So if I go in and actually tell her I have a new guy it’s all over for me. Also I cannot risk her spitting on my clothes.

2. The Purge Approach

Anna is, above all, a woman. Perhaps, suggested Nancy Drew, the best tactic is to appeal to her womanly side. Go in there and cry my eyes out.

“Anna – I’m just so miserable. It’s been so long since I’ve really experienced the comforts of a man. You know how lonely it can be in this dreary city. You know how hard it is out there for us working girls. I just feel like if I don’t meet a nicest guy soon I’ll resort to desperate measures.”

I’ve experienced success with this approach in the "please don’t­ write me a ticket officer!" And "professor, I’m just too­ sick to take this final" arenas. But do I really want to cry my way into a relationship? No, not again.

3. The Big, Strange Lie

“I know!” said one recent reader “you go in there and say – ‘Anna! You won’t believe this! I met Matt!! We bumped into each other and somehow got to talking about cleaning our clothes and where we go and I figured out he was Matt and now we’re friends and he asked me to pick up his laundry! Isn’t that wild?! Soooo – I’d like his laundry please.’

This way,” Inspector Gadget concluded, “you can get the laundry, have his phone number, call him and deliver him his stuff!!”

Hhhmmm. Okay. Let’s play this one out.

Anna is dumb enough to believe that I have met Matt and established the kind of comfort where he’s asked me to pick up his personal items. Fine. I get his things and therefore have his number. I call that number and say what exactly?

“Hi – my name is Jessie – ca –sorry -- Jessica. I’m not sure if you’ve heard about me, but we both go to Anna for our laundering, and she accidentally gave me your three, wool man suits which I accidentally paid $40 for. We should get together for a drink or something so I can give them to you. Oh, and also - I told her that I know you because - well - I don't have a good reason - so next time you go in there could you please just play along? Thanks.”

4. The voice of reason

“Wash your own fucking clothes at the laundromat and buy shit that doesn’t need to be dry-cleaned.”

Avoid distracting neighborhood escapism and wear clothes made in wrinkle-free cotton?!

I'd sooner move out of Manhattan all together.

Remain tuned...

Friday, November 14, 2008

On leagues and whether or not they exist.

You hear people referencing leagues all the time: she’s so out of my league -- I’m no where near his league -- and that whole group is in a league of their own. That sort of thing.

What they really mean is: she’s so much better looking that I am -- I’m no where near as cool or good looking as him -- and all those people were featured in the early ‘90s film about female baseball players.

Our “league” as it’s come to be called – represents our rate, rank or value relative to everyone else. It’s the unspoken number we’ve assigned ourselves – our understanding that if she’s a 10 ++ then I’m around a 6, 7 on a good day. Whether accurate or inaccurate (and this becomes important) – it’s how we perceive ourselves and therefore who we think we can get (can versus should becomes important too).

Some people don’t believe in leagues – one friend of mine adamantly so. He/They think self-judging and self-limiting are just outward expressions of self-consciousness – that anyone can and deserves to be interested in and attracted to absolutely anyone else. They agree that people’s attractiveness exists in a range -- not everyone is a 10 or a 3 – but in their opinion our self-defined number doesn't affect the range of numbers we believe we can get.

So really it’s not that they don’t believe in the idea of "leagues" as in buckets within which people sit based on what they look and act like. It’s just that they don’t believe those ranges mean anything. They think we should function as if we’re worthy of everyone because we are. That we can't know what other people want and/or think of us. That the phrase should therefore be, “I perceive her as being out of my league” but then the immediate next thought should be, “but I don't know what her idea of leagues is so I'm going to go ask her out.”

It’s only about my perception of the situation. I can’t know what she wants or who she’s attracted to so I go for it because who knows what other people are looking for.

I get that. Attraction is relative, perception even more so, and self-perception probably the most. So I get that with all those relative properties it’s impossible to really define these leagues and assign who can play in them.

Where I differ from my friend is that I don’t think any of that matters.

I think if you personally believe someone is out of your league, then they are. If their attractiveness, success, or cool-factor relative to yours makes you feel like you are unworthy of them, then you are.

Not in a punishing, "well if you’re self-conscious then you deserve what you get!" way. Just that what we’re really saying when we say, “he’s out of my league” is, “I’m too uncomfortable to be with him because he makes me feel inferior.”

When we create and assign value to people and ourselves we’re creating a reality that we then function within. We say I am a this and he is a that and therefore there are rules about how we relate. We've created those rules, but they're set. Whether right, wrong, or ridiculous, it doesn’t matter – it’s our reality. We’ve created it for various deeply embedded reasons, so breaking out of it to walk across the room and ask someone out becomes a veritable shift in our universe. It's not that we can't do it or shouldn't -- its that we don't want to. And so we say, “dude, no way, she’s out of my league.”

Do I think it can be wrong? Of course. Do I think all people are only attracted to people who they think look as good or bad as them? Of course not. But do I believe in the concept of leagues? Absolutely. I don't think they're a social construct - all girls who look like this go with guys who look like that. I think it's a personal construct. Whether completely off in one direction or another - it exists.

So while I would support changing the language to something like, “He’s totally outside my self-created boundaries attractiveness relative to my own and therefore I can't be with him because I would feel eternally uncomfortable about myself and likely assume he's cheating” – I’m thinking chances of that catching on are slim.

Not impossible or unworthy -- just slim.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A vacation. A vacation from your problems.

After taking the Enneagram personality test for the seventh time I decided my seven identical results must be fairly accurate – I’m an overachiever. Right. I feel like the character in a Far Side cartoon…

Home videos show that I have always been this way. In one infamous family video my two sisters are dancing around to Raffi on the record player shouting, “Daddy watch me spin!!” I’m in the corner saying, “Dad, when you have a chance I’d like to show you my most recent spelling test over here…”

None of this is really a surprise to me. I’ve taken a variety of personality tests over the years always hoping to come back a mysterious artist type but ending up some variation of the Type-A-girl, minus the variation…

There are, I imagine, people who can be different personalities in different occasions. Not to the point where they lack integrity – just where in varied social settings they high or lowlight different traits to best adapt to the situation at hand. They are chameleons.

I'm more like super glue or maybe permafrost or, according to my test results, a rocket pointed in five directions with a strong sense of competitiveness but equal desire to help other rockets point themselves in multiple directions so long as they thank me with intimacy.


It all made me think of What About Bob?

If you haven’t seen it and can’t get and watch it within the next 24 hours, read it here immediately.

For now: Bob (Bill Murray) a paranoid hypochondriac with OCD tendencies is directed to take a “vacation from his problems” by his psychiatrist, Dr…LEO….MARRvin!! (Richard Dryfus). Bob takes the literal approach. He halts all activity associated with his formal self using the vacation card as his excuse. It works; he’s cured.

There’s something to that – that easy excuse for deciding not to be who you usually are - for taking a little break from our habits.  For Bob it was to cure a bad case of paranoia and acute ODC. But I wonder if I/we could execute a variation on the therapy – if we wouldn’t all benefit from a little vacation from ourselves?

We aspire to depart from our “type” all the time. “God I wish I could be like her” or “What I wouldn’t do to stop doing __________.” What if all we needed was a metaphorical Dr.’s order – a Lenten-like promise to ourselves to stop acting one way and start acting another. To say, "for the next six weeks I will rely on everyone else in my life to make plans."  Or, "from now until next Thursday I will make direct eye contact and smile at every man I see."

We’d set a time limit, chose some do’s and don’t’s and see how the cards fell. I’d replace all cheesy bar one-liners with mysterious vacant stares and stop making sure my shoes match my belts. Maybe I’d pout a little, or do that thing French girls do where they say no when what they mean is yes. I wouldn’t return the phone calls of people I frankly don’t feel like talking to, and I’d wear strange hats wherever I go.  Or perhaps I'd give it more thought and come up with some actions that actually mean something.  Either way, I'd stop spending all day on gchat - as that can only help.

I'm not quite sure what it would cure me of, if anything.  But if a lovable fictional character with incredibly quotable lines (I'm a SAILOR!!! Look! I SAIL!) is any indication then maybe, just maybe, forcing ourselves to not be ourselves would teach me more about ourselves than always being ourselves ever could.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A game-time decision


I know someone who recently broke up with someone on account of failure to perform to the expected level during a college football weekend. He invited her onto sacred ground for a sacred weekend with sacred friends. She wasn’t into it. He wasn’t into that. They broke up.

Yes it sounds like the tritest reason to end an otherwise excellent relationship, but upon full explanation, it's not.

The game was Boston College vs. Notre Dame – a match-up that’s earned the nickname The Holy War. We hate them for lots of legit reasons that are meaningless to the outside world. They hate us because they know we’re better. BC has not lost to Notre Dame since 2000 – a streak I must point out began when I started BC. It’s my pleasure, really.

BC/ND weekends are unofficial reunions. Everyone arrives with A-games in tow. Each friend group executes on their own well-tested routine built for optimal pre and post game enjoyment. It is ridiculous and yet required. If you’re not into it, you don’t come. No one half asses this game.

So it goes without saying that welcoming a significant other into this ritual is a major move, especially if an airplane ride is involved. You don’t do it without a lot of consideration and careful managing of expectations. They need to know how you hope they will behave, but even more importantly, how you intend to behave yourself. The former is negotiable (they do not have to buy nips at Reservoir to maintain drunkeness throughout the game), the latter is not (you fully intend to and in no way find it over-the-top).
And let me be clear before you cry grow-the-fuck-up. Attending the game is not a requirement. Wanting to come and loving it is not a dealmaker. It is out of control and that's not for everyone. But coming and vocally hating everything about it is a dealbreaker. The difference is confusing and yet critical.

This person I know experienced the latter. Girl wanted to come, begged to come, was so excited to come. But upon experiencing the scene in action could not and did not hang. I’m unfamiliar with the exact details but from legend and experience I imagine it involved a fair share of asking to leave early, not wanting to play very fun drinking games, and lines like, “Um, do they have anything but beer?!” Yes, but trust me it's worse. These games are the most fun and efficient way to binge drink. And we will leave after they sing the Alma Mater - not a moment earlier.

Frankly, it is not hard to know how best to enjoy this environment. Look to your left, right, and down and do exactly what everyone you see is doing but in a more clever and louder manner.

If you’re currently rolling your eyes and mumbling, “god it’s just one football game…” you are exactly right. And this is precisely why one has every right to break up with someone on account of a poor showing.

It is one, 48 hour weekend throughout which you engage in two activities in three locations. Drink while being social slash excited at someone's apartment, in a bar, and on campus. You have one, full year to prepare for this task and that same amount of time to understand just how much it means to your significant other. If you are confused about what it might be like, watch Rudy. If you are thinking you aren't going to like it, don't come. If you thought you'd like it but get there and don't, fake it.
But if, after all that research and preparation you still think it's acceptable to act like a pouty asshole throughout your significant other's Christmas-in-November, don't be surprised if you get dumped.

It's not about the game. It's about compromise and understanding - the cornerstones of every successful relationship.

Yes, this attitude may explain why I am still single. No, I am not reconsidering my opinion.

Friday, November 7, 2008

An Open Letter to the readers of this blog in Austria, India, Singapore, Bermuda, and the UK


Hi you guys!

Thanks for reading! I can't for the life of me figure out how you found this blog. The web really must be both world and wide...

I know you're there thanks to a nifty "site meter" that pin points the locations of readers on a map. Scary, right?!

But really finding this thing was only half the battle. It's written in a version of English that can only be learned in American college dorms and very loud bars. So I should point out for the sake of your continued English studies, that totes, obvi, and ______ are not actual words...

Happy as I am to have readers from around this great globe, I am concerned about the way the stories depicted on this site have influenced your impression of America - specifically the America experienced by an average 20-or-so year old.

We've actually got it completely under control. All these stories are just massive exaggerations to take our minds off the fact that life is just one big success after another over here. If, since reading about the challenges, frustrations and total lack of social order contained in these posts you're thinking, "what the fuck is going on over there?!" -- worry not.

We're just making lots of sarcastic jokes because that's what we Americans do. It's really all streets-paved-in-gold and total gentlemen and strong women and giant savings accounts over here. We're so happy and settled that we have to pretend to be dysfunctional and helpless for sport.

Of course, part of me wonders if you too have an agenda. If you all actually know each other and are using the contents of this blog to develop unique ways to penetrate the American government. If you're researching our so-called dating psyche as a way to determine how best to dominate us in the real-life game of risk. You too recognize that business and politics are just dating with different rules and are secretly planning a massive coup over American via misleading text-messages and Facebook wall posts.

Part of me thinks it might be your collective, ultimate plan to develop a diplomacy based on unrequited love -- a multi-national cock tease.

You'll tell us you love us and our policies and our new President, hang out with us at International Summits and peace treaty meetings, send us foreign gifts (that actually come from your secretaries), invite us on whirlwind trips (that you technically get for free), swoon us into signing some fairly significant piece of legislature, and then slowly stop returning our official correspondences on account of some "big national civil war issue" or "massive natural disaster". "What's the problem? you'll say, when we have our Chief of Staff call you on our behalf, "we were never officially allies..."

If so, well played my friends -- well played.

If not - then please disregard the above conspiracy theory and revert back to the beginning:

Hi you guys! Thanks for reading! Are things as bad over there as they are -- err - we're pretending they are over here?!

Ciao,

-J

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Date it forward

I’d like to see more of the following going on.

I tell you I’d like to be dating -- that I’ve given it a lot of thought, and right now I’d like to be going on dates with nice guys whom I might eventually bring to BC football games.

You then rack your brain for every possible available and excellent guy you know and come back to me with a list of suggestions. Three to five would be ideal, but one is by no means too few.

We meet to discuss the list of candidates you’ve developed and look at their pictures on Facebook. If they’re not on Facebook or are on Facebook but have opted against a profile picture, they're not options.

I ask questions about each guy and you provide answers. You kindly remember that withholding important information about girls they’ve cheated on and Irish-themed football teams they support will only bite you in the ass in the end.

I don’t take it personally if you suggest a shitty guy. You don’t take it personally if I suggest you have shitty taste and obviously don’t know me at all.

Following our session I choose one to two candidates. My decision is final. You don’t go all rogue yenta on me approaching candidates I’ve deferred.

You then go back to my top choices and say, “I have this friend you have to take out.” Not "hang out with." Not "meet." It must be very clear that you are telling them to go on a date with me. I've got the vague, maybe-dates covered thanks.

To best control your communication of my finer points I’ll provide you with a bulleted list of key messages to share with my selections:

  • Jessie loves companies with a really strong brand identity
  • Jessie has appropriate outfits for every occasion
  • Jessie has hair that can be curly or straight
  • Jessie knows 85% of the game of football
Things like that. Please stay on script.

If I go out with one of your guys and have questions for you, you answer them. If I go out with one of your guys and don’t want to talk about it for whatever reasons, you stay out of it.

If your guy provides important feedback you think will make me happy, you tell me. If he provides negative feedback you think will upset me, you lie to me.

Because I am a very reasonable person (please add to bulletted list above), I ask that we go through this process twice and only twice. Unsuccessfully set me up once, shame on you. Unsuccessfully set me up twice, you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you accomplish a successful match – this being represented by my staying with your guy for one to three months - I will pay you $100 or give you a pair of my shoes (size 8, pre-selected from an exclusive grouping).

And of course, should the need arise, I will gladly return the favor by following the same process for you.

I don't really see how this could not work. I find the approach to be simple, straight-forward, and built for success.

And so I'd like us all to date it forward -- to find someone who needs someone and give them someone we know. Then perhaps someday that someone you gave someone will help find someone for you.

Read it twice. It makes sense.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I knew we could


Today is a historic day.

The kind of day where you forget about boy troubles and work stresses -- where you're compelled to say, "thank god, right?" to anyone wearing an Obama '08 button. 

It's the kind of day where state pride surfaces (that's my New Jersey!!! 15 point margin!) and national pride returns (only in America could we come  up with that CNN hologram business...).  

Today is the kind of day where you think - maybe it isn't so impossible and hopeless and out-of-reach.  Maybe the world really is shifted by $5 and $10 donations.  Maybe you can win an election with the help of YouTube.  

It's the kind of day -- maybe even the actual day -- we realize that we really are the change we have been waiting for.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Booby-trapping our way to maturity


Apparently we all suffer from (a certain degree of) multiple personality disorder.

A recent Atlantic article on the way the mind goes about decision-making suggests that there really isn’t one governing body in control – not one sane mind deciding if the devil or the angel shoulder wins.

Says the author, Paul Bloom, “The idea is that, within each brain, different selves are continually popping in and out of existence. They have different desires, and they fight for control—bargaining with, deceiving, and plotting against one another.”

This is sometimes why on a Friday night you know it's a bad idea to go home with ________, yet one week later you wake up in _________’s bed. Other times it's because you drank too much.

Compounding that is the situational nature of memory – the fact that remembering something is easiest when you’re in the same state the original act occurred. “Someone who learned something while he was angry is better at remembering that information when he is angry again; the experience of one’s drunken self is more accessible to the drunk self than to the sober self.”

So sometimes if you’re mad about something when it’s time to decide whether to go home with ___________, you’ll be less likely to go. Other times you'll just angry-drink and go home with _______ later.

One more learning, then the pay-off.

“Sometimes one self can predict that it will later be dominated by another self, and it can act to block the crossing—an act known as self-binding…Self-binding means that the dominant self schemes against the person it might potentially become… Ulysses wanted to hear the song of the sirens, but he knew it would compel him to walk off the boat and into the sea. So he had his sailors tie him to the mast.”


So we can use our memory to booby-trap the self we predict will vie for power grown-up Goonies style

We do this all the time - put people in charge of us before a night out so we don’t make-out at the bar or cut up credit cards so we stop shopping.

But now - on account of the two premises above - people are buy self-binding technology applications for every-day use. Wrote Bloom, “As I write this article, I’m using a program that disables my network connections for a selected amount of time and does not allow me to switch them back on, thereby forcing me to actually write instead of checking my e-mail or reading blogs.”

This is good. We can do this -- develop a variety of weakness-based programs that force maturity through creative self-binding. Then we’ll make Facebook applications for them and we’ll all become responsible adults with healthy savings accounts.

I'd like to suggest the following preliminary options:

  • An online system where you register yourself and an appropriate dollar limit with any number of participating retail stores. Store security escorts you out the moment you attempt to make a transaction over the amount you've predetermined in your registration information. $40 at H&M, $100 at J. Crew, $19.99 at Payless.

  • A gchat bank account function that takes one dollar from your checking account and puts it in a un-touchable savings account every time you gchat a person on your black list of contacts. Suggested use: Guys you cannot get over. Girls you tend to fight with on online. The drug dealer you correspond with via gchat.

  • A text message setting whereby when you text an individual in your pre-determined black list it automatically texts that same message to the last four people you've called. So Mom, Dad, Work, and New Hong Kong Chinese will all know that you'll be "in bed waiting 4 u in 15 mins".

  • A refrigerator that locks after 2am.
Other suggestions?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Matt Log: Week Four, Still No Matt


Anna wants him for herself. I'm sure of it!

She's avoiding introducing him to me because she thinks she has a future with him.

Today, this:



  • "Anna, I'm so sad that you haven't introduced me to Matt yet..." (Approach #3, the guilt-trip).

  • "Jessica - I think you lie to me. I think you have boyfriend and you no tell me." (Um...wtf Anna)

  • "Anna! You think I would lie to you?" (Pouring it on thick)

  • "Haha - no on. But Matt is soooo good guy. I tell him if I not so old I date him myself." (Oh really...is that what you told him...)

  • "Ha. It's too bad you are too old though." (Whatever. She asked for it.)

  • "Haha. Okay. I tell him you say hi." (She did not make direct eye-contact. She knew what she had done...)

  • "Yes. Please do." (I tried to raise one eye-brow but failed.)

So you see. Clear as day. She Indian gave Matt like some 7th grade girl who says, "You would be soooo cute with _______," when what she meant was, "I would be sooo cute with _______".

Time to bring in the big guns. Reverse psychology and enhanced tipping. I have considered bringing her food.

I am not above bribery.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

In-costume conversation


Friday night was Halloween. Well, technically it was the whole day but for the purposes of this and most discussions, it took place at night.

Geanna, Katie, and I went out to a few bars because that’s where they serve alcohol and play music.

I was dressed as a mullet* (suit-style front, party paraphernalia all over my back. Right. Business in the front, party in the back), which didn’t go over quite as well as when I was eggs over-easy (egg carton on a headband, very little clothing on body) but was better executed than my version of white trash (white trash bags fashioned into a dress…ish). Yes, I tire of myself – frequently.

Over the course of the evening I spoke to eight men. I’m sure of the number because with each additional man I went into the bathroom and said the number to myself in the mirror. “Six men. You have, at this point, spoken to six men.” I do this when I’m drunk. Go into the bathroom and tell myself things in the mirror that I don’t want to forget. I think in my drunk head I’m telling a more sober reflection, but that makes no sense. Yes, this is bizarre, but not as bizarre as the fact that I’m sometimes compelled to run home when drunk. Literally, I jog – doesn’t matter the distance or outfit.

What’s interesting about those eight men is that they represent a number two times greater than the sum total of men I have spoken to in bars in the past six months. Statistics like that warrant further investigation. At man number eight I went to the bathroom and told my reflection to remember to think more about this situation tomorrow. See. It works.

I’ve decided it’s the costumes. What makes Halloween viral ground for productive interaction is the fact that we are all in costume. I was just as talkative and made just as sexy sexy-eyes throughout the night. But I did it all dressed as a mullet providing men open forum to walk up to me and say, “what the fuck are you supposed to be?" 

Same applies to me re: them. On Halloween it’s, “Hey, you make an awesome Michael Phelps” or “love the Pee-Wee Herman get up” or, “What are you Carlton from Fresh Prince or Bagger Vance?”

Consider the typical Friday night alternative: “Hey, you make an awesome guy blacked-out” or “love the blue button down” or, “what are you? Jewish or catholic?” Right. No.

Much like the hot dog cart situation, the bizarreness of Halloween provides the kind of group mentality that results in a lack of inhibition. There is a built-in mechanism for conversation. We’re dressed as cartoon characters from the ‘80s; guards are already down. 
I find that in general we don't to talk to people in bars because we don’t want to feel like assholes should it go poorly. But on Halloween we already feel like assholes; what’s one more conversation?  I walked right up to a guy and asked if he was Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air (thrice-pleated pants, loud argyle sweater...uncanny).  "Carlton?!" he said, "I'm Russell Simmons! What the fuck are you?"  
Fifteen minutes later he walked his friend over to introduce me.  "Look. This chick's a mullet.  She's your kind of girl." See.  Community. 

And so - with this strong theory rooted in statistical evidence we must move for solution.  I propose a universal, significant increase in the number of themed events in cities nation-wide. Bar theme nights, friend’s theme parties, fully-themed work events – I don’t care.

Just give us a reason to wear costumes of any variety so we'll already feel like assholes and can move on to talking to each other.
*Thank you Kristen :)