Friday, February 27, 2009

Closed-minded? perhaps.. Correct? probably.



I spent the greater part of 2008 being very open-minded about men. I dated someone slightly more conservative, someone mildly less caucasian, and someone much more divorced than myself. I also went on two blind dates with people my gut slash Internet search told me wouldn’t be a match.

Some of these were great guys and even greater learning experiences – some of them were shitty guys and not worth the lesson – bottom line, none of them are currently my boyfriend.

As such I’ve decided to approach 2009 in a direction I like to call “precision searching.” This can be most closely compared to close-mindedness, but I'm a democrat so I can't say that. My kiss a lot of frogs days (read: years) are over.  

I’ve decided the smarter approach is to hone in on one very specific kind of male – a male that is likely to represent the best men available to me at this given time and in this given place (in reality I’d like to be with a guy from Boston circa 1950 but Ted Kennedy is married...and dying).

And so – after a great deal of thought and research – I am from this moment on only looking to be dating a guy who works at Google. That’s it – plain and simple. One man whom I am reasonably attracted to and whose checks are signed by Google.

Here is why this is brilliant:

  • Google is among the pickiest companies about their employees. You have to submit your GPA and, in some cases, high school SATs to apply. I usually don’t ask a guy his GPA until the 5th or 6th date and never request SATs, so this is a vast improvement.
  • Everyone wants to work at Google so they’re forced to be extremely selective. I like to think of this as a personal pre-screening process. I like everything Google does always so it’s only logical that I will like the people they select to hire. I liken this thought process to an algebra equation, which I'm told is very precise.
  • The Google offices in New York are mostly populated by people working in sales, business development and brand development. Men in these fields traditionally possess personality traits that I am attracted to rather than annoyed by.
  • The Google offices in New York are located 6 blocks south of my office and 9 blocks north of my apartment. This makes dinner plans, quick lunches, and rushing to work after sleepovers extremely convenient for us both but mostly me.
  • The fastest way to a beach house on Cape Cod is stock options.
  • Everyone: “So what does ________ do?” Me: “Oh he’s with Google…”
  • Google is, thus far, recession-proof. This is significant as surprise unemployment does not a healthy new relationship make.
I think my reasons are very clear and obviously correct.

Regarding this new philosophy of "precision" over testing out people from all walks of like I say this -- if you were in search of a perfectly fitting, long-lasting, well-crafted, eternally chic trench coat would you browse through Banana, scrounge the racks of Filene's, try your luck at H&M? No.  No you would not. 

You'd take your jesuit education, your prohibitively busy schedule, and your Bank of America credit card straight to Burberry - try on their 3-5 finest models and walk out with something that will last you your whole god damned life.

(if you must slash already have one kindly substitute Bberry trench coat with item of equal value and significance to you like -- say -- top of the line outdoorsy man equipment).

Next steps: Google (man) searching (...it was right there...). 

Know anyone?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Open Letter to Patti Stanger, Millionaire Matchmaker

Patti – I’m confused…

I’m a loyal fan of your show, The Millionaire Matchmaker because it is wildly entertaining and oddly informative. Also with every episode I get closer to deciding if you’re a. actually a man and b. don't have ears.

And really P – you do a hell of a business. 99% success rate!? Even if you're lying by 20% it’s still pretty impressive.

I respect the way you keep your arrogant Millionares in line and the fact that you hired an office assistant who has blue bangs. You seem like an insane, close-minded bitch, but I can tell that deep down you really do just want to give people a love like you've found with your "Andy". While I tend to think "he" is a total front on account of you're a dude, it's a nice story and a lovely life purpose.

But the more I watch your show the more confused I get about how we woman in search of love should behave.

See I know you’re big on the old-school chivalry and respect in the early phases of romance: make a man wait to find out your age, don’t have sex outside of a committed relationship, dating is about minds connecting. You seek out smart girls with solid education, world travel, and impressive careers as the best fits for your men. "No gross models or skinny actresses," you say.

But when you meet with these smart and powerful women the focus shifts. You tell them to arrive for their date in a short skirt with lots of leg and high high-heels. You want boobs up and out, hair blown-dry straight, and glammed up make-up. You say, “You have to sex it up. These men want hot and sexy. Oozing sex. Sex Sexy Sexity Sex” (fine I added in that last part).  Last week you told a thin girl to lose 20 lbs.  The week before you denied someone because she had a zit.

I'm no fool Patti. I know that attraction makes the world go round. I don't deny that a guy's got to want you first and foremost, but your love/connection/lasting friendship headline is false advertising if your product shot is tits and ass.

My issue isn't that you want to deliver the hottest options for your paying customers -- it's that you're talking out of both sides of your oddly shaped mouth.

So I'd like to see  you tweak your tune a bit to reflect what's really going on. Instead of, "are you ready to meet the love of your life who you'll connect with straight to the soul?" maybe you ask your Millionaires if they want to pay you to find you a hot chick with nice boobs who may or may not be interesting.

Because if the reality is that every man, millionaire or otherwise, wants boobs first and foremost and brains if they come with the set then I'm going to need a boob job...

Love ya!
Jessie

Monday, February 23, 2009

One sure-fire way to feel like a legitimate adult

If you asked me to assign it a percentage I’d say that 75% of the time I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.  I have a small c career, some hobbies on the side, and what people who live below 14th Street would consider an apartment, but when it comes to the check list of mature adult life (401K, stable relationship, ability to pump gas) I’m a late-if-at-all bloomer.

As I mentioned, I spent the weekend talking college students through the process of becoming a writer – a process I have by no means mastered, but have developed some sense of over the years. If the process were, say, a hard-boiled egg I would say that at t his point I’ve rolled it around on the table so the shell is all cracked and have now removed 40 -- maybe 50% of the little shell pieces and weird skin layer (look Dad! a food metaphor!).

The weekend was a success in many ways. I didn’t crash the mini van. I didn’t hit on any of the boys. And when it was over the kids included me in the group picture and said they were going to start a Facebook group for BC students who want to become writers. If that isn’t an indication of success then I don’t know what is…

But the greatest discovery to come out of my time in the woods of Camp Bemet is that sharing the details of your seemingly disorganized, not-quite-there-yet adult life with a group of college kids will actually make you feel like you have a legit adult life.

You take a group of kids who have little to no sense of what comes next and tell them about your job as an assistant to some CEO and they will hang on your every word. Throw in a couple “Devil Wear’s Prada”-style work nightmares and they’re putty in your hands. Tell one joke about the fact that your current apartment is smaller than your sophomore year dorm and they’ll laugh as if that was a joke.

The more honest I was about my desperation-induced balls the more interested they became.  "You did what?!...you called who?!...you applied for 100 jobs?!...wooww."

Having the chance to sit there and walk through my, I did this to get me there and that to get me here was like a Jamba Juice boost of "hey, at least you're in it". I had actually done some ballsy stuff.  I did really have some pearls of wisdom to share.  They asked me specific how-to questions and I knew the answers. They weren’t looking at my record as an adult and evaluating it against some checklist of maturation milestones -- they're just worried that parties after college are going to suck (I told them that they don't "suck" they're just different. Kindly corroborate on that story; these kids have it bad enough). 

I'm telling you - it really did work.  It was like some weird confidence therapy session.

Get some kids together -- college kids, high school kids, a group of cousins you can con into listening – whoever you can find. Tell them you’d really love to provide some wisdom on what they can expect from the real world -- tips, pointers, free guidance. Pepper it with a few stories about crazy job assignments or adult dinner parties or when you somehow ended up at a party with Debbie Harry (but don’t use Debbie Harry because they won’t know who she is…).  Say things like, "when I was you" or "if I could do that part again" or "and know I know that it's really just about..."

They will feel relieved and like they're privy to a real insider's view.  You will feel great and like you actually can do "it."  It's a win-win, and those are hard to come by in the legit adult world.  

Of course ask me how I feel in three months when these kids are all about to graduate.  In my post boost state I gave them all my email address and told them to get in touch the minute they needed anything at all...

Friday, February 20, 2009

If I'd known then what I know now...


As you read this I'm en route to a camp site 40 or so miles outside of Chestnut Hill, MA, the home of my beloved alma mater, Boston College.

I am driving a mini van full of college seniors to a log cabin in those camp ground's woods for a retreat entitled "Spark Overnight Series: So You Want to be a Writer?" There along with two legitimate adults and very legitimate writers I will share my experience over the four years since graduation in an effort to help kids who think they want to be writers find their way. Kids who, it should be noted, gave up drinking for three days of their last semester of college.


Little do they know I have no idea and really shouldn't be trusted to drive a mini van.


"We just want you to share your story and impart some wisdom about how to keep writing in your life while still supporting yourself," they told me before I agreed to attend. (I'm the "writer on the side" representative.)


"Define 'supporting yourself,'" I asked. They thought that was funny. I thought (still think) it's legitimately confusing...


Some people pay me to write so technically speaking I'm a writer. Four years ago I entered the real world, so technically speaking I have stories to share about how to do that without killing yourself. Whether or not they include wisdom is for these kids (or more like these retreat leaders...) to decide.


Needless to say, it's got me thinking about how to fill the 30 minutes I'm supposed to use to guide these eager young minds to eventual success. So far I have the following list of real-life get-a-job realities that I wish someone would have told me two months before they cut off my Eagle Bucks card.
  • The chances of you getting a response from a job you apply to off the Internet are about the same as that of you meeting a great, straight guy who's in a gay bar by accident.
  • Salary commensurate with experience means you're screwed.
  • Being the executive assistant to one very important person might be the hardest job you'll ever have, but it will get you further, faster than being the assistant to a department of 10 less important people.
  • Remove ALL incriminating or even slightly incriminating Facebook/Myspace/Flicker photos from the Internet before you start your job search. I know a girl whose entire job in the HR department of a prestigious company is to search for online evidence that you're an asshole.
  • Things not to say in response to "What would you say is your greatest weakness?" include: I'm too much of a perfectionist, I don't take criticism well, I'm not a fan of team work. The appropriate response is to think of one aspect of the specific job you're applying for and mention your learning curve in that area. I.E. You're applying for a job as an editorial assistant: "I think my greatest weakness would be that I'll have a bit of a learning curve in terms of editorial short hand specific to this magazine." No it doesn't exactly answer the question, but it doesn't matter.
  • Think twice about a job that doesn't have dental insurance. The cheap food you'll have to eat on account of your laughable salary can tend to cause cavities.
Maybe I have more to offer than I think. Then again all those bullet points focus on how to get one, entry-level job. Regarding how to like it, keep it, live off of it, and establish a legitimate writing career while doing it -- hopefully I'll figure that out on my 40 min. car ride to the woods. I'll be going 35 mph on account of I haven't driven in 4 years, so that should give me ample time...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Field Notes: It's actually hard to set someone up


It’s not often that I'm willing to admit I'm a hypocrite, but I thought I owed it to you to come clean on this one.

It’s actually really hard to set someone up.  I now understand why people don’t offer to do it.

Since my soap box post on dating it forward I’ve tried to practice what I preach. I went through my roster of available parties and created a pairing that I felt had excellent potential.

I casually noted both parties, supplied necessary background info, and received permission from each to proceed with the exchange of info. Both the guy and girl recommended I provide the girl’s email address to the guy so he could send a casual, introductory email.

Now to preface – I know both of these people well and like them very much. I would never want to see either hurt or frustrated or disappointed. While the set up was very casual and no promises or expectations were set, I truly wanted them to meet, decide they were made for each other, and then credit me for the rest of their happy lives.

But once I set the wheels in motion it became a god-damned mine field.  

For starters I felt compelled to ask the guy if he'd contacted her every hour on the hour.  When was he going to?  Was he thinking about it?  What might be preventing him from moving forward if, in fact, he was currently thinking about it?  Did he need a little help drafting an email?
  
It was half - please do this so I don't look like an ass - and half what really goes on inside the mind of guy with (great) girl's email address in hand (but mostly the me as ass part).   

In turn, I became obsessed with keeping her abreast of the maybe pending email. “Hey there – it’s me – just wanted to let you know that at 2:00pm on Thursday ________ re-confirmed that he had your email and just needed to finish up a few things at work before he got in touch. Don't you worry.  You're great!  You're fun!  This is going to work!” That sort of thing.

That was just 100% my attempt to deliver her the play-by-play that people would kill for in scenarios like these.

Was I on his side or hers?  Should I push him to pull the trigger?  Should I lie to her and say he just met someone he sort of likes?  What was he thinking of her? What was she thinking of him?  And what were both of them thinking of me??

And so I began to seriously regret my decision.  

I was a nervous wreck. More nervous, I’m fairly certain, than I would have been if I myself was being set up. 

See in this scenario two people could end up really disliking me. One or both could get hurt. Either/or could speak very negatively of me to friends and acquaintances. My judgment could be in eternal question from this set-up forward. The risk was high. If it had just been me maybe going on some random date I’d just have the guy and my already sub-part reputation to be concerned with - but this was two people who could talk shit about me to everyone they know -- one news feed item and I'd be ruined!
  
So you see -- it's very clear -- people don't set people up because they're sometimes selfish, self-involved, and overly neurotic ...

...which -- note to self -- might be the exact same reason people don't get set up themselves...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Movie Reviewed: He's just not that into you because he's hiding himself from himself

I saw it. I enjoyed it. At some points I laughed. At some points I cringed, but I can’t deny the fact that it represented a lot of what really happens out there; good, bad, and vom-worthy.

Yes – the movie centered on “the rules” but then ended with most characters ending up the exception. A. Hollywood does that, and B. it is true that some times thing work out and fairytales are real and all the signs you thought were wrong were right.

My gripe – or really question – is about the reality of what happens with the Justin Long and Ginnifer Goodwynne (sp?) characters (Alex and Gigi respectively). I’m calling bullshit on that storyline. In fact, most of my life is organized around calling bullshit on the idea of that storyline. So if I’m wrong and that’s right then we've got a real problem on our hands.

SPOILER ALERT:
Alex is the one who explains the “he’s just not that into you rule” to Gigi – a generally helpless and sort of pathetic character that we’ve all been once or always. Alex sets Gigi straight on how you know a guy is into you and how you know he isn’t. He then proceeds to treat her like he’s sort of into her -- pays attention to her, takes her calls even when he’s busy with another girl, tries to help her find a great guy, etc. Now, in my (very) experienced opinion, those are not strong enough signs to, say, throw yourself on someone, but Gigi thinks they are so she outs her perceived conclusion: “You’re into me! I know it! All the signs are there!” (note: don't do this.)  

He’s not, she’s wrong, he’s uncomfortable, she’s devastated, it’s very awkward – non-relationship over.

BUT THEN…

24-36 hours later Alex can’t stop thinking about her! He wants to call her. He wants her to call him. He’s making weird mistakes at work because he’s just that distracted. Seems he was wrong about his own previous feelings!  But now that she's walked away he's awakened! 36 hours prior he had so little interest in her that he didn’t even want to touch her, but the truth is that his emotions were just too closed off to accept deeply embedded feelings of into-her-ness. But now that she's presented herself as an option he realizes how much he wants her!

This all reminds me of that time the woman fell through the subway grate on some street in Manhattan frightening close to my apartment. See I (like all of us) was functioning under the very important belief that this doesn’t happen --- can't happen. The metal is stable, the streets are inspected and only a hypochondriac or girl in spiky heels walks around the grates. Then this woman falls straight through and my entire world is fucked.

So now I need to know if guys who show ample signs they like you but don’t make a move or refuse your moves sometimes simply don't realize that they actually love you.  But they do possess the potential for awakening to this deeply embedded fact the moment you walk away.    

‘Cause if that’s probable, or even possible, then I think I’ll go back to walking right over all the grates I come across with the hopes I too fall in. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In defense of Mr. Anonymous #2 or Does calling someone out make any difference?

Monday’s post incited quite a bit of insightful commentary (thank you Pierson).

Most of the broo-haha centered on the idea of calling someone out on account of bad behavior.

On Monday I implied that people get away with treating people like crap – flaking out, using people and the like – simply because they can...because we let them get away with it. If people stopped accepting that treatment and started calling people out, I surmised, maybe it would stop.

Mr. Anonymous #2, as he’s come to be known, posted an interesting comment in support. He said, “at a certain point for a 20-nothing, to see someone again for recreational purposes becomes more of a why not than a why. And when you're not required to give anything when you have that kind of mindset, you don't.” (should Mr. Anonymous not have been so Anonymous I would have sent him $20 for use of the term 20-Nothing as if it's a real phrase. Too bad.)

If you know you’re not going to get caught, would you cheat on a test or steal an extra beer sitting on the bar? Chances are you wouldn’t because it’s wrong and you could get caught.

But what if the teacher told you to cheat? Or if the bartender said, “go ahead – I won’t tell my manager.” You’d probably do it because those people are authorities and they said it was okay --- plus it's just one little test and one measly beer.

When we’re complicit in someone treating us like crap we become that teacher or bartender – we’re letting them cheat on the test, steal the beer, or – in this case – hurt slash use us. Yes, they technically know it’s wrong, but if we say or imply that it’s okay, it becomes a different situation.  And if an entire culture says or implies that it's okay, it becomes a different system of values.

See there’s a bigger picture thing going on here. Mr. Anonymous #2 wholly admits that he did something wrong – and that he knew he was being a douche while he did it. That’s not always the case because of where we are as 20-nothings in our sexual culture. The nature of our modern hook-up situation makes the lines of douche-marcation very blurry.

Everyone hooks up. Most people are okay with it. (ear muffs Mom) I can’t think of one person in my life that’s only had sexual relations (I’m including all four bases here) with people they intend to pursue a long-term relationship with. I’d venture to guess you couldn’t either. 

So is it wrong and hurtful if the other person is in full agreement? If both people are using each other does it just cancel out? If neither has anything interest in it going anywhere, does it matter who blows whom off first?

To me, the most significant part of Mr. Anonymous #2’s story was this: 

"I didn't call the next day, replied slowly to a text a week later, hooked up with her again, repeat, and then stopped contacting her altogether. Nothing happened. No rebuke other than a 'I thought I'd never see you again...' that was meant to sound reproachful, but I ignored it and that line of non-interrogation went away."

I want to be clear here - He was not a nice man - but she didn’t seem to require that. He was barely in touch and she hooked up with him twice anyway. Maybe she was sad afterwards. Maybe she was hurt, but her behavior and response doesn’t suggest either. But back to the point...

Would calling him out before the second or third hook up have made him treat her better? (the her in this case being any her or him who's been in this very common situation), probably not.

But could she have made the mistake of hooking up with him once versus two or three or months of times, absolutely. 

Dorothy Parker Was Here and Emily jumped all over Mr. Anonymous #2 for not being accountable for his 25-year-old actions. They said how dare he place the blame on her for not calling him out when he should know not to be a dick to girls without having to be told. 

They’re 100% right, but that’s not the point.  Nor is the point that this girl he screwed over should send him an email now expressing her upset and disappointment at his behavior.  

The point is – don’t hook up with people who show obvious signs of treating you like shit. You can call them out on this by saying, “No – I don’t want to see you tonight because I know you just want to hook up with me and I’m not into that” or you can just ignore their half-assed advances. But, and I know I’m going to get flak for this…you really can’t let someone walk all over you and then cry that you should have been treated better. Of course you should have been treated better.  Unfortunately these days, with the way we all hook up, we're not starting from very moral high ground.  Right and wrong sometimes isn't so clear.  So calling someone out is way less about teaching them a lesson and way more about taking care of yourself.  In that way, it makes a big difference. 

Bottom line: Sometimes we really don’t know if he’s that into us. Sometimes it takes us getting a little hurt to find out someone is a douchebag (or douchebook, right Troms?). But sometimes we do know – or should know – and I believe it is in those circumstances that we should either stand up for ourselves by saying something or stand up for ourselves by saying nothing and walking triumphantly away.

Can I get an AMEN?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Adopt-A-Boyfriend


I recently adopted a child in northern Mongolia because the guy offering her was really attractive.

I believe this is what they’re referring to when they say rock bottom.

It was a cold and snowy afternoon in Manhattan and I was coming home from seeing The Wrestler and grabbing a sandwich at Tiny’s Giant Sandwich shop with my friend Chris. Justin Hi-I'm-a-Mac Long was there as was a guy who may or may not have been Colin Hanks. For the purposes of this story, let’s say it was.

Afterwards I strolled home in the beautifully light falling snow reflecting on how much I love Manhattan and whether or not I should stop at Urban Outfitters to see if those knee high grey suede boots were any cheaper.

I was so distracted that I missed the street hawking “Save the Children” volunteers corralling people as they moseyed down Broadway.
These guys are rogue marketing geniuses. Instead of, “do you have a few minutes for starving children in Africa” it's now, “Hey! Do you hate babies?!” to which you have to say “no” because only an asshole hates babies -- openly.

I looked up from my boot-dreaming stupor to see a very attractive brown haired man (you can’t call a man a brunette) standing directly in front of me -- arms spread wide, big attractive grin on his three-day-beard face (S: scruff is among my deal enhancers which are not the same as deal makers and obviously the opposite of dealbreakers).

“Hey! How much do you love your Mom?!” he said. I mean...

“A lot," I said, “she’s great.”

"You probably love her because she gave you so much love and attention when you were growing up,right?" he said.

"Yes - that's among the reasons," I said...."Would you call your eyes ocean blue or sky blue..." I thought.

Now typically I would have seen this guy from 30 yards away, pulled out my cell phone and engaged in the following fake conversation:

“Listen, I know we don’t really have the funds, but these are disabled children we’re talking about. I want you to go find the money and don’t call me back until you’ve got it – ya' hear?!” This varies depending on the agency I’m ignoring.

But typically this guy would be 18 years old and a girl. Not the case here. Not at all.

It pains me to say that I legitimately believed there was a chance something might develop between me and this man who hawks potentially fake children on the streets of Manhattan, but I did -- fully.

“I’m sure she is great. I mean look at you,” he said. My F enhancer: forward flattery. Double word score.

“Aaww -well thanks,” I said.

“So listen,” he leveled with me, “you know the drill here. I’m outside in the cold trying to help some kids by asking people for a low monthly fee of $22. That's two cocktails a month. Do you drink two cocktails a month?”

No, beautiful man, I drink 30, but for you I could cut it down to 28...

“Ha, clever -- I like your style,” I said. I claim to be many things -- not-obvious is not one of them.

“Ha, I like that you like it,” he said with a Josh Hartnett grin. If I were watching this interaction from above I would have slapped me and told him he should be ashamed of himself. Instead I said,” You know, I am doing a few more freelancing writing assignments this month so…”

“Oh you’re a writer?!” he said. Mission accomplished.

“Oh, gosh, I don’t know if I’d call myself a writer, but I just love to write so I do as much as I can, ya know. It’s really competitive in the city, so I’m lucky to get any work really…”

I should have just said that I don’t love my Mom -- that would have made me less of an asshole than I was currently being.

“That’s really impressive,” he said, “It sounds like you understand what it’s like to struggle.” …Like a starving child in Mongolia, was what he implied.

“Yes, totally,” I said. …I am going to buy this child from you because you’re very attractive, is what I’m sure my response read.

Fifteen minutes later I was the proud benefactor of a 3-year-old-girl living somewhere that would destroy my chances at winning Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. I would 100% run to the wrong side of the floor-world map pissing off all the smarter, foreign kids watching at home. “Ugh over there!!! You idiot! Go left…LEFT! It's in ASIA!! Ugh, dumb Americans…”

At several points in our “conversation” I considered nudging it to the next level. “So does your girlfriend do this sort of work too…?” but my right mind won out.

Dave -- that was his name -- said I could cancel my donation within 30 days if I find I "can't manage the committment", but I've decided that if I'm dumb enough to adopt the kid for the most cliche reason in the book then I deserve at least one year of $22 monthly fees.

...Plus...there's still that chance he'll go back to search my donar profile so he can grab my email address to follow up and ask me out, see that I've cancelled my donation, and decide I'm not the honest, starving-children-loving girl he was looking for...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Obligatory "He's Just Not That Into You" Post

You knew this was coming.

In light of the Sex & the City-episode-turned-book-made-movie coming out this past weekend I thought an assessments was in order.

As background, I saw the episode, read the book, and intend to see the movie. Like most people, when I first heard the concept – that any wishy-washy, flakey, confusing interest on the part of a guy means he’s...all together now...just. not. that. into. you – I became a disciple. It made sense, and it made knowing when to abort mission easier.

The gist of it is this: If a guy likes you it will feel like being liked: attention, affection, compliments, interest in being around you, attempts at impressing you. If a guy doesn’t it will feel like not being liked: ignoring, confusing, sometimes rude, mixed messages, no attempt to impress you.
When a guy likes you he will make all necessary moves to get you and keep you so that no other guy can have you. Ergo - there's no such thing as mixed messages. The message is either I want you and want to be sure you know that, or I don't.

Inevitably the “what ifs” roll in:
  • What if he just doesn’t know how to show someone that he likes them: well then he is an idiot and you don't want to be with him.
  • What if he is afraid to show me that he likes me: well then he is a coward and you don't want to be with him.
  • What if he really did get busy and forget to call me?: if he needs to be reminded to remember you that’s not a good sign
  • What if he is 80% into it, but not 100% there, but all I have to do is prove I’m worth the other 20%: You see this a lot -- people acting like they need to incentivize people to like them all the way. Frankly I’m gunning for someone to like me 100% without me having to convince them I’m worth it.
But we do this – all of us -- male and female to be fair. We hear that logic of the book/movie message and immediately start in on all the scenarios that could prove it wrong.

Why? Why don’t we get it? Why don’t we want to read the writing on the wall? Why do we work so hard to be with people who aren’t working at all for us? I believe I've narrowed it down to three main reasons:

We don’t like to think that someone doesn’t like us.
Simple and juvenile, but 100% true. We’d rather blame the blow off on a million excuses and justifications than settle on the pure fact that not everyone likes us and not everyone wants to be with us. That hurts and so we play many mind games with ourselves to ease the pain.

We think guys think like girls
Sometimes (fine, often) we play games with guys who we like a lot for a lot of reasons that I'll have to get into another time. We therefore assume guys do this too. From what I'm told guys play games but not with girls they really, really want to keep. The one's that do are terrible and should be avoided at all cost...as should we when we pull that same shit.

We’d rather have something, even a bad, confusing thing, than nothing.
Having no prospects, no one in the wings, nothing even potentially going on is a debbie downes. It’s lonely and sometimes boring, and against our human nature. So we take the low wages are better than no wages approach and tolerate shitty treatment because at least it's something.
We don’t have enough confidence and self respect.
Heavy for a Monday, but tough love is true love.
We don’t think we deserve better. We don’t think we can ask for total respect. We’re out to find something “good enough” because we’ll be lucky if we can even find that. And so we let people treat us like we’re 80% because sometimes we only feel 80%.
I'm sure the movie will be hysterical in that "oh-god-that-is-so-painfully-true" way. The obsessing over phone calls -- the decoding messages -- the running through every detail of a first date with all your encouraging friends.

But what I really wonder is if it'll have any effect. If audiences will leave the theater with a "fuck that bullshit" attitude toward anything less than clear-cut treatment. If people will realize that if it isn't obvious that it isn't anything.

Dating, like almost everything, follows simple principals of economics. Supply and demand. It'll stay whatever ridiculous price the seller can get away with until people refuse to pay it. In the HJNTIY scenario though, we're paying -- and usually a lot -- for something that we're not even being sold.
Maybe, for a brief time, people will just stop buying it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Recession Romance: it's only logical


I was assigned the below freelance piece by The Daily Beast just before the New Year. Unfortunately they've since killed it and all recession lifestyle related stories on account of there are way too many of them and Obama took office.

Thought it would be a shame to let all this embarrassment go to waste.  Enjoy!  80% of it is absolutely true.  

    
Recession Romance
By Jessie Rosen
1.6.09

Forensic science is not my typical approach to finding men; I’m more of an Oprah’s advice and alcohol kind of girl. But in light of our so-called recession and Oprah’s credibility, I thought it might be time to switch to logic-based boy scouting.

Fact: rich men are living modified lifestyles in light of this so-called recession. As such they are frequenting locations A-typical to ballers in an effort to save a G or ten. If I can determine those locations then I am likely to meet a very smart and potentially vulnerable man. It’s like detective work, which is technically classified under the sciences, which are very rarely wrong.

I start where any man with an excellent body who’s trying to slash expenses would start– running outside. A smart, morning-person man would freeze his gym membership to pay a low, monthly fee.

I will wear form-fitting gear boasting my east coast alma mater and head to the most expensive neighborhood I’m willing to walk to at 6:45am.

Day one: I take a cab.

In my selected viewing area I immediately find many men running in faded Ivy League sweatshirts suggesting graduation six to eight years prior. Location: success. Approach: challenged. 

I don’t know how to make them stop running and start talking to me without making a scene. And if I did find one stopped somewhere, panting heavily to catch his breath, what would I say? “Want to grab a coffee? Oh, you were going to run all the way home? Right. Me too.”

I’ll have to establish daily runner rapport with these men so I’ll feel comfortable “tripping” in front of them and expecting their assistance. To be continued.

In my personal money-saving travels (read: daily life) I’ve noticed a very popular hot dog establishment offering a “recession special.” This place has a so-bad-it’s-good thing going, plus all men love hot dogs because they’re allowed to.

I am delighted upon arrival to find the outpost plastered with Obama-supporting posters providing me an interesting conversation starter beyond, “so how do you like your dog?”

Lee Katzman, a be-speckled red head from Long Island, likes his with beans and sour kraut. “Nah, it’s just cheap and quick,” he says when I ask if he’s here to support change we can believe in. I don’t like anything cheap and quick, least of all change.

(Run day three: I boldly wave at U Chicago Hoodie. We’ve passed each other three times now. I believe him to be The One because we’ve passed each other three times now.)

This cheap food idea seemed promising, but truly highbrow men can be picky. I switch tactics and go to the most expensive organic market in my area. It has five tasting stations offering hearty options that, if combined, could serve as a free meal.

Once there I load my basket with items that might be conversation-worthy to a man: ostrich egg, three racks of lamb, the biggest knife they sell, etc.

As suspected, I bump into the same guy on my second tasting of the free-range chicken meatballs. He looks like Clive Owen in a tasteful bomber jacket. I smile and shift my man basket into his view. Nothing.

But not five minutes later, we’re both back for another taste! Shocked I say, “Ha! Looks like we should buy a package and cook dinner together some time!”

He says, “Haha,” and walks away.

Tester woman says, “Wow,” and offers me a fourth meatball.

(On day six U Chicago beats me to a “hello.” I am almost fall accidentally and way ahead of schedule.)

I was striking out for the typical female reason – assuming men think like women. They’re not carefully clipping coupons and shopping wholesale. They’re probably spending more money to replace the money they lost.

And so I went where, apparently, no fedora-clad woman with a moleskin notebook has gone before, an Off Track Betting center.

It was in fact 100% men, but ¾ were 65 plus and wearing those winterized denim jackets with the fuzzy white material at the collar. Deal breaker.

Then in the far right corner, staring at me like you might a baby you found alone in a bar, I noticed two guys in quite nice pea coats.

“Hi, I’m doing a little research,” I mustered, “do you think you could talk me through how this whole thing works?”

Dave K. (26, accountant) and Andy R. (25, actuary) politely gave me the 101. “So, trying gambling to make some extra cash in the light of these hard times?” I asked Andy because he was better looking. “No,” Dave rudely answered for him, “He’s a gambling addict.”  Right. 

(U Chicago has turned into Wash U, which is less pretentious so I’m pleased. I now say “Hi there,” and he says “Hey”. I think we’ll be very happy together.)

I chatted with four men among five midtown headhunting firms, but decided unemployed does not a promising start make. In the pre-tour holding room of my local top ten-business school were at least ten men of various ages and nationalities. None were my type, but I’m scheduled for a full info-session next week. And in the Financial Planning section of The New York Public Library's Rose Reading Room I counted three attractive men who were not (obviously) homeless. Careful table placement could prove very effective in that environment.

Wash U and I continue to build toward an entire sentence exchange. When I last saw him he was wearing expensive new running shoes and has switched to the latest iPod, so either he hasn’t been affected or this really is a fake recession. I’ll take either.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Brain Sex: true love or trouble


When I first moved to the city I met this guy with whom I had the greatest brain sex of my life.

We never actually dating, and I wasn’t even wildly attracted to him (outside the brain situation). But we had that indescribable mind connection where every conversation is like weird fore play – a quick rhythm of jokes, challenges, witty insults and flirts – where you say something looking for a certain response and you back a better one than you could have ever imagined. There's banter, there's challenge, there's a manly pun or two...it's just hot, consistently.

That doesn't do it justice, but if you’ve had it, you know.

Brain sex is my Achilles heel. I can tell you within 10 minutes of meeting someone if we’ll be good together (in that way), and if the answer is yes then I’m putty -- very obvious, totally transparent putty.

Everybody has their weakness – that one quality the opposite sex possesses that makes them weak in the knees slash judgment. I know a girl who loves more than anything to be taken care of – really smothered and pampered in the old-school spirit of chivalry. She dates lots of guys but with that variety she goes completely stupid.

I know a guy who’ll always fall head over heels for a girl who’s wildly independent and doesn’t really “need” him at all. He loves the game of wondering whether or not she's really into it.

Jersey chasers, Band groupies, girls who love guys who have a bizarrely strong relationship with their mothers – we all have our hang ups.

I think mine is brain sex because I have a particular brand of humor slash reality that only really meshes with very specific people. That’s not to say that with 80% of people I’m only 80% myself; it’s that with .01% of people I’m 120% myself. It’s in that zone, with a guy, where things can really get dangerous.

Question is -- how much does that mean? How much weight does - or maybe should that facet of my connection with someone hold? Are these weaknesses of ours the real sign we may be onto a “one” or just some weird turn-on manifested by whatever they did to us in pre-school?

Do I love guys who really give my mind a work out because they’re the one’s I’m most likely to find lasting, ultimate love with, or is it just a rush for me to go eight rounds with a guy, but eight months in I’ll be over him.

...it's just one more question to add to that survey I plan to give to couples who've been happily married for over 60 years (let me know if you know any).

I never did hook up with the best brain sex of my life. We both ended up getting involved in half a dozen side projects and lost touch, but every once in awhile I go back and read some of the exchanges from our brief affair -- the dozens of hysterical back-and-forths about absolutely nothing -- and wonder how all that email would translate to dinner and a movie.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Words to the wise re: the maybe-people issue


A few weeks ago I wrote about the concept of maybe-people – those people you’ve always kept in the back of your mind as potential, eventual mates.

It’s clearly a very thought-provoking conversation issue – one you might want to bring up with friends over beers, say. You’d talk about what it really means to be a maybe person. How many you have floating around in your head. What percentage of people you think end up with one of their’s.

Someone will inevitably say, “I don’t have any maybe people” – to which everyone else will say, “you are full of shit.”

It all seems like the makings of great and scintillating discussion. Unless, of course, the group is composed of guys and girls who know each other pretty well – say college friends or high school buddies. If that’s the case I am warning you right now – don’t do it. Don’t bring it up. If it’s brought up, change the subject. If it’s brought up and quickly dies, let it die.

Because mark my word – as the beers and conversation continue to flow around this topic you will start to look around the table and question where you rank in the maybe/maybe-not lists of every person of the opposite sex present. If one of your maybe people is actually there you’ll become consumed with whether or not they know they’re on your list. And eventually, as things are getting drunker, someone in the group will say to someone else, “wait…am I one of your maybe people.”

And then boom goes the dynomite.

If the person says, “uh-huh, you’re one of mine” then they’re essentially saying, “yes guy sitting directly across from me who I’ve know for 8+ years - I’ve considered marrying you once, probably twice and am still considering it right now, at this moment, at this table.” This instantly becomes very awkward for everyone involved. I recommend spilling your entire beer all over the table or punching the person directly next to you in the face sos to throw the group’s attention.

But what’s worse than that – way worse - is if the person responds, “no, you’re not.” Because what they’re very clearly saying is, “I have considered everything I know about you over the past many years and decided that I don't ever want to be with you – not even maybe.” And what can take that scenario to total fuck-yer-fun level is if the person asking is a girl and the person responding is a guy.

Do. Not. Do. This.

If you’re thinking it, don’t ask. If you’re asked it, don’t tell the truth. If you’re witnessing it go down, do everything in your power to stop it and change the subject. Induce vomit. Take off your shirt. Throw your glass across the room. Whatever it takes.

There is little that will set a girl off quite like telling her you’ve had zero interest in her, ever. If I have to explain why then that means you're probably a guy who will likely argue, "well that's dumb, not everybody wants to be with everyone else - that makes no sense. Cut the guy some slack!" I realize this. What I'm telling you is that it doesn't matter. Every girl wants every guy to believe she is marriage material. This is a fact.

Consider yourselves warned.

Monday, February 2, 2009

They tell me it's courting season


More than one person has told me that courting season is upon us. Apparently it started somewhere around November and lasts until roughly March depending on Groundhog Day and, I assume, the economy.

I’m still fuzzy on the details, but from what these people have described, courting season is that winter phenomenon where all people decide they want to be in a relationship, or something like a relationship, because it’s cold and annoying to go out and just much easier to cozy up with someone you have on retainer.

“It’s also very nice to have someone around the holidays,” one female friend added.

I don’t deny the fact that it’s cold and that this makes it annoying to go out. I also always find it easier to have a sure-thing, cold-night cuddle. And no, there’s no denying the joy of romance around the holidays.

But are people who aren’t girls actually out there making this happen on account of the season? Unconscious or otherwise, do people up their game come winter’s chill so they have someone by February 14th?

If in fact this is happening by choice of both men and women then certain specific factors must be at play. People just don't register the temp drop, decide it's time to get someone and have them within a week right?!
  • People are probably lowering their standards - Katie's Aunt Con once said, "just go out and date someone, anyone...have fun with it!" There's some validity to this. I often claim that if you want any old boyfriend you can get one. So if people are being more open minded on account of the "feels like" reading than it's likely that matches will be made.
  • People are probably going back to old standards - The most sure-fire way to score a hook up is to go straight to people you've already convinced once. If people are desperate - sorry - cold - then they're probably shooting texts that read "yo...been ages...at that spot we used to love...where r u 2nite?" to which equally chilly people might be responding, "nothing...yet."
  • People are probably making this up to help them explain to themselves why some of their friends have all found relationships around the same season - It is often very hard for us to come to terms with the fact that some/many/most of our friends have had success in making other people date them. We say things like, "well they met at work so, you know, that was easy," or "I'm not sure but she probably met him on Jdate," as if to say - there is no way this person pursued all the traditional, no-judgement requiring methods that I am, of course, pursuing as they are most noble and true, and actually found a guy. And so in this vein we have gone so far as to blame it on a season. "She looks like shit in a puffy coat so she had to lock a guy down before it got cold and no one would give her the time of day."
Hey - maybe it's true. I often play the cynic because it helps me maintain control of the way I've decided the world exists, but maybe there are whole sets of people out there meeting on account of a mutual desire to stay in and, say, watch the entire Monty Python collection. If so, bravo. But if come April I hear that people are starting to date like crazy because of a mutual desire to lounge around the park on a plaid blanket I'm calling bull shit.