Friday, May 28, 2010

Guest Blogger: How could this have NOT grown into this? or what's a hipster, and why were some of us destined to be one

A few weeks ago my friend Zac and I were talking about what hipsters were, what they've become, and how I'm probably never going to be one. Bottom line - I don't really understand it. Zac is a hipster, but of the authentic not purchased-on-St.-Mark's variety, so I asked him to write us a little ditty about the meaning behind the moniker.

On Hipsterdom: What It Is, Why It Exists, and Why I Can't Help But Be One

by Zachary Wilson
"Hipster" is a term I once despised. Everything about it: the word, the people, the god damn irony. But as I've been growing younger over this last half year, I've started to embrace my own hipsterdom, and I've started looking for it in others who surround me.

There's almost no way the creative subclass of our generation that has become Hipsters could have avoided it. Everything we subconsciously stand for—embracing the classics, paying tribute to the past, irony in all forms, taking life too seriously in a completely non-serious way (or is it the other way around?), free ideas, a taking-over-the-world attitude—was instilled in us from birth. Here, I'll use myself as a typical 20-something American hipster and you'll see what I mean.

Growing up, I was in the gifted program at school, which told me I was better than "average" and grouped me with other "above-average" kids like myself. I was encouraged, both at home and at school, to try everything that interested me and to always strive for to be creative. My parents, classic baby boomers, grew up with disconnected parents who had survived World War II, and they wanted to be the opposite: embracing, nurturing, loving, encouraging. As such, they always welcome me home, they understand that I have dreams unlike their own, that I'm restless, and they encourage me to pursue everything I can. They always told me I could be anything I wanted if I set my mind to it, and I still think that now. Which explains why I hate holding a job more than six months, why I hate going into an office, having a boss to be responsible to, sticking to a schedule. If it doesn't "feel" right to me, it must not be right, and according to my parents it's my birthright to be happy at all times.

I grew up on the Spice Girls, on Britney Spears, on the Power Rangers, the Ninja Turtles, on Ren & Stimpy and Rocko's Modern Life, Pete and Pete, Clarissa Explains It All. Every single one of these things is completely ironic, so how can I not be? They shaped my sense of humor. I love paying homage to the past, where authentic art and music still reined, because when I was at my most impressionable age, the "realest" thing around was Jimmy Eat World. And where my parents want everything new—a brand new house, a brand new car, brand new clothes—I need authenticity. I want vintage. I want to live in a "real" neighborhood in a "real" building, not a brand new high-rise in the middle of Times Square. (However, I do want my "authentic" place to have a nice shower, good plumbing, AC, a dishwasher, etc.—you know, the little things.)
Hipsters are stuck in this weird in-between world—we're used to the comforts of the American Dream, but we want to carve our own anti-American Dream, which in turn is just another version of the classic American Dream. It's not the freezer meals and suburban subdivisions of our childhood, but it's organic vegetables grown in our gardens out back and houses with what we call "character," which is more of a feeling than a look.

We want to feel this connection to the past, but in the Internet age what we're really feeling is the connection to each other. We're more socially active than anyone has every been—who goes more than half an hour without chatting, Facebooking, or texting a friend when their not asleep? We need to feel like we're right there, connected to everything. Want the past? Pull up Patti Smith on your iPod. Need comfort? Tweet at a friend. We don't like being alone, and we never have to be.

We don't just drive on the Information Superhighway, we built our house on it. (Actually, we bought an old house and renovated it, but same difference.) We have the ability to be obsessed with and completely consumed by something one week, then on to the next thing the next week. As such, we're mini-experts on everything and actual experts on nothing, filled with random bits of trivia that we're sure one day will add up to a way to make money.

We're the first generation expected to make less money than our parents, and the first expected to live shorter lives. We lack the loyalty that our parents had to one company. We don't respect the corporate ladder, we don't respect bosses because we often think they're "below us" intellectually. But we do respect creative thought, and when we recognize someone as impressive, as a role model or hero, we're with them for life.

We're extremely self-aware. We analyze every action, every feeling, every thought. Want to be a writer? Get a blog. A photographer? Get a camera. Want to be an actor? Put something on. We reject the traditional methods and pathways of creation because we were taught that we can just do it ourselves.

Americans today consume more than ever and create more than ever. But how much of it is valuable? Not much. And that's the main problem with our generation. Technology makes it easier to create than it's ever been, but it also makes it so much easier to just be a lazy consumer. It's easy to get jaded, to not think, to just live day-to-day.

But we're capable of so much more than that. We have access, we have information, we have technology, we have a weird worldliness; but most importantly, we have each other. We are each others' greatest resources, greatest sources of creativity and inspiration, of collaboration. It's so difficult to break down the barriers and get to know someone new—we all grew up thinking we're the greatest thing that's ever lived—but once we do, we find something incredible and unique not only in each other, but in the connection between us.

And in the end, that's what hipsterdom is about. It's connected creativity. Connection to each other; to the past, the future; to our heroes, our icons, our parents; to art and expression in all forms. Yeah, we're annoying, pretentious, pretty ridiculous. But we know this about ourselves and we embrace it.

So should you. Because there have been creative classes called hippies and beatniks, there have been movements called Grunge and Rock 'n' Roll. Now there's us, Hipsters, and over the next decade we will determine how the cultural 20-teens will be defined.

It's a big—no, epic (one of our favorite words)—responsibility. But our moms and dads tell us we can be awesome at anything anything. And we intend to be.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The female version: when I really like him I...

When I asked the male camp what they do different when they really like a girl I provided examples from guys I'd already spoken with. Examples like, "I find I text her after something big happens to me" or "I go out of my way to pick a kind of restaurant I know she's really going to like." And so I got back answers like those you read yesterday - a list of kind things men do to prove they care.

My query to the female side was a quick gchat survey of 10 random friends who happened to be online. I just said, "hey, what do you do differently to a guy when you really like him?" No examples, no qualifications. Just a one-line question. These are the 10 one lines I got back:

  1. I try really hard not to scare him away.

  2. I touch his arm a lot. It's so weird! I'll just immediately start touching his arm!

  3. Talk less

  4. I think I laugh at his jokes way too much even if they aren't funny

  5. I try not to, but I end up suggesting a lot of plans we should do together

  6. I say I like something he's wearing almost every time I see him, but what I really mean it I like your body

  7. Try not to seem desperate

  8. Listen to what he says really closely and then bring it up later so he knows I'm paying attention

  9. I ask a lot of questions about his family. It's just a gut reaction, but that's how I know I like a guy.

  10. Try really hard not to get wasted in front of him

I don't think I need to point out that 6 of the 10 answers are things these women try not to do - talk less, don't scare him, curb the alcohol intake.
In fairness, I didn't specifically say, "what are nice things you do differently for a guy when you know you like him?" If I had I'd probably have gotten more answers like #'s 6 or 8. But I think it's insanely telling that these responses were based on a loose question. These girls heard, "what do you differently when you like a guy?" and they answered honestly.
To sum it up - I try to keep myself in check so I don't scare the shit out of him.
There's a lot to evaluate around these answers, and those of the guys, so we'll tackle that tomorrow. For today, I'm dying to know - from the ladies - if you read this list and said, "yep - sounds about right" or if you read it and said, "wow - that's a sad bunch of 10 people..."
What do you do differently when you know you really like a guy? And even though I've revealed the true meaning of the question - what would your insta gchat response have been?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

From the mouths of men: If I really like her I'll...

It's been awhile since I polled the male blog board for answers to help us decode the dating process.

This time I was in search of the hints that you're a contender - that in his mind you've transition from "want to hook up with" to "want to date." We've discussed the whole guys-place-girls-in-buckets issue to death at this point (for a primer read this), but I've never blatantly asked, "how do you treat her differently once you know you like her."

From the girl end we say things like, "He's doing _______ so I feel like it's going really well," or nod and smile when our friends say, "Omg he _______?! He loves you."

So now, from the mouths of men - what fills in that blank?

  • Invite her to something as opposed to meeting up
  • Call vs text, and for purposes other than strategy to get laid

  • "Well. In general she'll just be on my mind more. I'll start to think about little things I can get for her that I know she likes. I've definitely gotten cards - like playful flirting cards, not serious - for girls in the past and it has both paid off and also backfired. But in general I'll think about things like that. Like if a girl tells me she loves some kind of beer or candy or whatever, or if she collects figurines of cows or needs new headphones for her ipod, or any other (random or not so random) example, I'll try to get her something related to that.
    • Remember things she says.
    • I purposefully bring up stuff I know about her to prove I've been listening
    • Take her to more date ish places
    • I like to recap the time we spent together and think about all the ways I made her smile or laugh. Then I focus on what it was that made her feel that way and amplify it even more the next time around. I also love to learn, so if there is a subject shes into that I don't know well, I will brush up on things she mentioned and ask her more about it next time. It gives her something to get excited about and I learn something in the process. Oh, and I offer her fine wine and a chance to browse through my library filled with many leather bound books.
    • I'll find myself texting her immediately after something big happens to me, good or bad.
    • I'll do a little digging into a food or neighborhood or something she really likes and then plan a date around that
    • I'll invite her out to meet some of my friends and be really good about introducing her around and making sure she has background on people.
    • I wish I didn't do this, but I'll start asking her about other guys a lot. Guys she works with. Guys she's friends with. Guys she just strikes up a conversation with at a bar. I believe the term is, jealous?
    • I'll find out her favorite foods and cook her dinner.
    So we've got a lot of different examples of stuff going on here, but it all boils down to the very simple act of paying more attention - with dinner, with texts, with jealousy. Not one guy said, "I try to play it real cool and ignore her for a few weeks." Now in fairness I don't keep assholes on the blog board (though it would be interesting for diversity sake...), so these are the reactions of kind and mostly mature guys, but that's who you should be looking to date anyway, so listen to them.

    Tomorrow: the female response. Prepare for shock. It looks nothing like this side's...

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Suburban Sabbatical: I'm no longer a single girl

    Humor me, if you will, and count the times in a typical week that you do something because you and you alone felt like doing it - watched two hours of DVR'd Addicted instead of cleaning your room, left the apartment at 10pm in search of Tasti D, walked to the grocery store to buy cheese in the middle of making a sandwich because any sandwich without cheese is a waste of a sandwich, skipped dinner with not-great friends because you didn't want to go in the first place, went to a movie alone because you randomly checked the times and found a good one playing three blocks away in ten minutes.

    Those are the whims of living an independent life. Add a boyfriend to that mix and suddenly things like, "went to see a Zog sports hockey game at 9pm on a Monday because your boyfriends' team was playing" get added to the weekly list. Did you want to do that because you care about him? Of course. Would you choose to do that if he didn't exist? No. Add a kid to that mix and you can erase the list.

    The life of a single person isn't void of obligation - you have a job; friends and family you care about; commitments to organizations and such - but your life is your own, and you can move about it freely without people knowing and questioning every detail.

    That life was my life one month ago. I came and went as I pleased checking in with my roommate and my friends and honoring my responsibility to work, but making my own, often aggressive daily schedule. As Chris once said, "No seams in your day, huh?"

    I always felt very "single" - in a independent and untethered sense. Like I was in charge and nothing was really pulling me in one direction or another. There's something really thrilling about up-and-deciding you're going to take the subway to a neighborhood you've never been to in search of a vintage clothing store and famous coffee shop. I did stuff like that all the time.

    Since moving home I have not secured a boyfriend and yet I feel decidedly less single. Like now I'm part of this unit of people juggling time, space, and moods over the course of each week as we navigate a collective living arrangement. "A family" I think they're calling it?

    Now when I come home I can't just say hello and retire to my room without feeling a sense of obligation to my housemates. "How was your day?" I ask them. "What are you doing for the rest of the night?" they ask back. "It depends on whether or not you finally remembered to DVR Modern Family," I say. "Oops," they say back.

    If I try to eat dinner alone at the kitchen peninsula someone will likely come sit with me because they don't want me to have to eat alone. They'll want to chat and tell me about their day because that's how you keep someone company and show them you care.

    When I want to go somewhere - the Dunkin Donuts, the grocery store, the J. Crew outlet - I have to discuss that trip with one of five other people who use one of our three cars. And then I have to brace myself for something like the following:
    • Dunkin Donuts? But we have coffee here.
    • I know, but I really want a cinnamon coffee
    • We have cinnamon. Just put it in the coffee maker, and you'll have cinnamon coffee.
    • I know but it tastes different at Dunkin Donuts.
    • How different could it taste?
    • I don't know! Just different!
    • Well I don't know why you'd want to spend $2.50 for something you can have here for free...
    • I know. It's foolish. I'm foolish, but I want it, so can I take the car?
    • Sure, whatever you want.
    • Hhmm, maybe I'll come.
    • Why? Do you want a coffee too? I'll just get you one.
    • No, but I wanted to go to Foodtown to get some snacks for the LOST finale tonight.
    • But I'm going to Dunkin Donuts.
    • Foodtown is on the way back.
    • Uuggghhhh
    • What is the big deal?
    • I just wanted to go to the Dunkin Donuts and get a coffee! I don't have time to go to Foodtown and shop for LOST snacks.
    • Geeez - fine - I'll take a separate car to Foodtown and shop for snacks for you to enjoy tonight, but you know gas money doesn't grow on trees.

    And if I spend five hours on Sunday writing alone in the-room-that-I-share-with-my-sister every single member of the family will check on me at least once, and 9 times out of 10 (that's an exact stat), they'll offer something like this: "We're going to Old Navy because flip flops are a dollar today. Do you want to come?"

    In general, no I don't want to come, but then this inexplicable wave of you-should-go-do-what-the-family-is-doing sweeps over me, and I find myself saving-as and changing out of my writing outfit (black leggings under Dad's old button-down) into something I'm content to be wearing if I see a kid with whom I graduated from high school. Then we have fun, I get flip flops, and the vicious cycle continues.

    If you asked me three months ago whether or not I'd forgotten how to live in a family I would have said, what? no? what does that even mean? I saw my family often, talked to them more often, and did things for slash with them all the time.

    But being in a family from afar and being in a family in-the-house are two very different things.

    What's most shocking about my transition from a-far to inside is that I'm not miserable - far from it, in fact. I like when they come talk to me while I eat dinner. It's frustrating but also nice to juggle and cars and errands so everyone gets what they need to get done. And now I have a test audience to read whatever I'm writing.

    There's something strangely freeing about being grounded - physically - inside a house where five other people are orchestrating their days and weeks. I'm no longer a "single" girl who gets to move myself about my life exactly as I please. But I'm also no longer a single girl who has to move myself about my life as only I please.

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    The last thing I ever want to see on television

    Yesterday morning I almost threw up all over myself (and my boss) at a packed event - and a mustard yellow spectator mary jane with a 5 inch wooden heel in not the kind of shoe you want to be running in, vomit-covered.
    My near-reputation-ending scene stems from the fact that there are three things that can happen on tv (or in a film slash webseries and obvs therefore in real life) that freak me out to the point of near-vom.
    1. Suspenseful gun action – not like a police shoot out where we know dozens of cops have guns and will use them. I’m talking long, quiet, drawn-out scenes where a gunman is pursuing some innocent and unknowing victim in some terrifying place like a basement, or Seattle Grace Hospital (still shaking). My palms get sweaty, my stomach feels like I just relented to going on Tower of Terror, and then I do this (I think) very clever move where I point my head in the direction of the TV but am actually looking in a totally different direction. All but one guy has fallen for this. I stopped seeing him immediately
    2. That moment in a surgery where they first cut into the skin –A. eew and B. if they’re showing it it’s probably because something even more eew is underneath the surface of the skin. I literally close my eyes, five-year-old style, with the one fingers slightly separated so I can peak out incase, I don’t know, I grow the hell up between the time the scene begins and ends?
    3. any scene in which someone who has secretly loved someone for an extended period of time confesses that love - like one person has been harboring a secret crush on another person for years and finally for whatever reason slash drug cocktail decides to come clean. Examples include when Julie Roberts confessed her love to Dermott Mulroney in My Best Friends Wedding. I just go fetal position.
    Yesterday the CW previewed their new reality series Plain Jane at the upfront. There I was in the aforementioned yellow heels enjoying montages from the best looking shows in television history and texting everyone I knew would freak about the surprise Katy Perry performance (so, Brian) when this horror show pops upon the big screen.
    Synopsis: a painfully perfect British brunette named Louise or Eloise or Beatrice or whatever helps your average teenaged plain jane gain the style, confidence, and eyes brows to finally confess that she’s totally in love with her male best friend, to him.
    In theory this is a show about a girl who gets days worth of coaching on how to love herself and wear clothes that fit. In reality this is a show about a girl who spends a week preparing for what could be the most devastating five seconds of her life. I’d like to recommend they cut the wardrobe, confidence coaching and hair budget and just buy that poor girl a bottle of vodka.
    You know, first we mar sixteen above average Americans on an Island and make them survive while wearing a dumb-colored lycra tube. Then we put obese people in spandex and weight them on national television. And last year we created a rubberized obstacle course, dropped it into a mud pit and laughed our asses off as people careened off it in three to five seconds. But this, this is crossing a line.
    When, during the first few seconds of the show Perfect Spice says to our Anna-Hathaway-in-Princess-Dairies, “and I undah-staand there’s a supah special gent in your life who you’ve been meaning to tell something quite special” I thought, “ABORT MISSION ANNE-A-LIKE, ABORT!!” Then the make-over happens and it’s, “whaaat d’ ya think he’s going to say when he sees ya’ t’night?” and I’m all, “TAKE THOSE EXPENSIVE TWEEZERS AND RUN GIRL!” And when the moment finally came for the She’s All That reveal and our de-frizzed jane entered in heels-she-couldn’t-walk-in to stand before her maybe-man while Keira-Knightly-with-a-rack stood in the corner giggling, “she’s doing it! She’s about to bloody do it!” to the camera man slash criminal I thought, “OHMYGOD ISTHISREALLYHAPPENING?! ONTELEVISION?! RIGHTNOW!! MYGODMAKEITSTOP!! OOOHHH MAKE IT STOP!! THISISN’TRIGHT,THISISN’TFAIR, SHE’S JUST A BAAABY!!!
    Except I have a problem with thinking things silently to myself...
    Listen, do I think that if you’re that girl you should tell that guy how you feel? Yes, in theory. I recommend e-mails and or not-national-television, but to each her own. Do I want to tune in to watch someone do that week after week? No. Owing to a bizarre set of nerves rooted in, you-guessed-it, some delightful person history, I’d prefer a man holding a surgeon to gun-point and demanding she make the first cut.
    But will I watch this show? Hell yes. Fetal position with one hand over my eyes and the other grasping my cup o' vodka as I scream at that British bitch and her evil team of potential life-ruiners.
    Plain Jane premieres sometime this summer. I'll keep you posted.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Are women saying this? And are you one of them?

    "Lemme get your take on something," one male friend said as we ascended the subway on 23rd street after grabbing some sandwiches and sunburn at the Boat Basin. "I've experienced this situation a few times recently with a few different girls I've gone out with."

    "Okay..." I said, but what I meant was, "awesome because I don't have a blog topic for Wednesday..."

    "So we'll hang out a few times, maybe go on a few dates," he said, "and then it'll get to that point, and I'll say, 'so, do you want to go back to my place?' and then she'll say something like, "yeah, but we're not going to have sex."

    I laughed. Not because that's ridiculous in general, but because it was ridiculous to hear crossing from west to east on 6th Avenue and 23rd street at 3pm on a Saturday.

    "I feel like this just started happening?" he said, "Is it because we're at that age or something? And are all girls saying this? Do girls you know say that?" he asked. "Because it's a really awkward question. I mean, I'm not going in assuming that's going to happen - I never assume that - so why are they?"
    Yes, I know girls who say this, I told him, and I may or may not be or have been one of them...
    "Well imagine if I were to say, 'just so you know, I want sex out of this,'" he said, "because that's essentially the opposite of what they're saying."

    "I sort of wish guys would," I told him, "because it would make things a lot easier..."

    We laughed about how that dynamic could play out - if a guy/girl negotiation occurred prior to any hook-up - but I realized my joke of a response actually revealed the whole of the answer to his question.

    But take this one in order:

    Are women saying this now? First, let's talk about what "now" refers to. In this case my friend is saying "now that we're 26,7,8..." not now that it's 2010. He means now in the progression of what hooking up is to us as adults.

    Why is/could that be significant? Because perhaps people's sexual expectations change as they get older meaning what's expected out of the hook-up of two 21-year-old isn't the same as what's expected from two 28-year-olds. So part of the "why are girls saying this?" question is what's going into their thought process about hook-ups in general? Specifically, are girls at this age assuming that a guy expects a hook-up to involve sex?

    I don't really know but my inclination is to say yes. At 18 - 24 people hooked-up because it was the activity du jour. You got drunk, you hooked up. This wasn't necessarily right or safe or smart, but it was. Now at 26-30 you're likely drinking less and thinking more. It's first dates and not 3 hours on the dance floor that lead to the "do you want to come to my place?" question. So maybe we've grown up a little and, in the process, are less comfortable dealing with the "just so you know..." issue once the clothes are off?

    But to get to the gist of it - yes, many girls assume that a guy who is asking them back to his place intends to hook up. And many girls assume that a guy who wants to hook up after the first date would like for that to include sex. So to level-set the expectations about a. what's going to happen and b. who they are as women, many may feel inclined to say, "yes, but..."

    And to take it one semi-difficult to explain step further - in saying yes to the, "do you want to come back to my place?" on or around a first date/meeting many girls may assume that a guy is from that point on looking at them as "the kind of girl who goes home with a guy after the first date/meeting" and as a logical next step may assume she is the kind of girl who would sleep with a guy after the first date/meeting, so to re-set his view of her she says, "yes, but we're not going to have sex."

    Part of the problem here is that girls (think they're) experts at assuming what a guy thinks about them based on his stock guy actions (inviting her back to his place being one). We can't wholly be blamed because much of this is rooted in an unfortunate amount of experience-based research, but if this friend of mine is any indication, not every guy means, "so we can have sex" when he asks, "do you want to come back to my place" making answering him with a "yes, but we're not having sex" presumptuous and somewhat rude. I'd argue that these girls may be doing it as a gut-check - a let-me-see-how-he-reacts-as-another-step-in-my-attempt-to-discern-how-much-he-likes-me-before-I-get-in-too-deep. Again, can't be blamed, but can't really be endorsed.

    How did my friend feel about the various girls who disclaimed the night? It made things somewhat awkward but didn't ruin the exchange. His bigger concern seemed to be what he could have done to make them assume that's what he expected.

    I'm afraid the unfortunate answer is, "be a guy"...

    So is my gut-check right? And/or have you said this? Have you heard this? And what's your take either way?

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Suburban Sabbatical: the justification game

    You want to really upset someone, forget to tell them that you moved out of the city and back in with your parents a 2-hour bus ride away...

    It's not that I forgot to inform certain people, it's more that I couldn't get the full, well-rehearsed, why-I'm-doing-this speech into a text message or voicemail and e-mail seemed too I-think-this/I-am-important-enough-to-send-an-email. So in the absence of a group-skype session I opted to do nothing resulting in conversations like the following:
    • Erica: Can you get drinks Thursday night?
    • Me: Not really... it's sort of hard for me to stay in the city after work now.
    • Erica: Um...why?
    • Me: Right, so there's something I need to tell you.
    What's implied between the lines of my "forgetfulness" is that I'm not entirely comfortable with my decision. I'm not ashamed to the point of lying about it, per se (though we'll see how that pans out at my 5-year college 3 weeks...), it's more that because it's a very specific thing with very specific rationale that I want very specifically explained.

    I'm a message control freak. It can't just be, "yeah, I'm living home for awhile," it must be, "so I decided to move home to get my finances and lifestyle in check for pending life decisions and potential changes." This way I'm not "poor and lame" but rather smart, calculating, and level-headed. God forbid any friend of a friend of a friend should think I couldn't handle living in the city or gave up on life as a New Yorker. I can't have that rumor flying around the Facebook.

    And so in order to inform the uninformed of my now 4 week old lifestyle change I've had to reduce the TED Talks version of my tale to an elevator pitch when it comes up. "Yeah, moved home for the Summer to sock away some money. Sucks, but not as much as being in the hole."

    No, "I'm a representative of the struggling media and entertainment professionals of our era." No, "We can't be afraid to take advantage of the help we have nearby. You know a girl like me whose parents live in Montana doesn't have a way out."
    No, "You know X% of people over the age of 26 still live at home..."

    Does it matter what anyone thinks of my summer savings strategy? No. Does that change how I feel about it? Also no, sadly.

    And so in an effort to "be an adult about it" I think I'll spend month two of the suburban sabbatical owning the decision - either in silence or in whatever elevator explanations become necessary. Because most of the time people don't really know (or care to figure out) what they think about what you're doing - until you help them along with your own blatant self-consciousness about the issue...

    Also - unrelated but of paramount importance - I am close to mastery of the writing-on-a-laptop-on-a-bus process. Next step - staying awake to actually do it...

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Are you leading yourself on? a two-version story...

    Here's a short story:

    Guy and girl who already know each other hang out at a mutual friend's birthday party, get drunk, and travel from bar one to bars two and three together. It gets late and guy, who lives outside the city, decides to crash at a friend's place in the city. Guy offers for girl, who also lives outside the city, to join him. Guy and girl hook up a little at the friend's apartment. Guy and girl fall asleep. The next day both go their separate ways home.

    Given those very, very basic details it's hard to say what will happen next. You might say, "well the guy should call the girl to hang out again, he obviously likes her enough to invite her to stay over at his buddy's place," or, "this guy and girl will probably hang out and hook up again since they have mutual friends," or, "it has some potential, and the girl knows the guy, so she can go ahead and invite him to do something or hang out again."

    Those would all be completely reasonable assessments of the situation given the facts shared. And if you were the girl in this situation you might assume all of those reactions to be right, fair, or true.

    Now here's a longer story:

    Guy goes to a friend's birthday party in the city where he runs into and chats with a girl he knows. Guy decides to go to another bar, girl follows. Guy decides to go to a third bar, girl follows. It gets very late and guy decides to stay at his buddy's place in the city. Girl informs him she'll be joining him because it's way too late for her to go home. Guy says ok. Once at the friend's place girl puts the moves on guy. Guy is like, whoa there. Girl is essentially like, um you lead me on all night blah blah. Guy decides it's easier to just make out with this drunk girl for awhile versus deal with her drunk and annoyed. They make out a bit, guy pulls the exhausted card, they crash.

    Given these new details you'd probably have a very different assessment. Guy isn't going to call girl because he's not interested. He invited her back because it was the polite/safe thing to do. Girl shouldn't call guy based on the "success" of their time together because guy was essentially faking it to make it end faster.

    Now, a few disclaimers to the short and long story:
    • Some guys really lead girls on.
    • There is a way to delicately not hook-up with someone you have absolutely no interest in what-so-ever
    • Some girls are really crazy and make that impossible
    • Inviting yourself to stay with someone is different than being invited to stay with someone
    • Alcohol is the villain in all stories of this nature
    I wasn't there to see this story go down, so I can't say whether the guy did enough basic "leading on" to warrant the girl's assumptions. But in my experience (both personally and observation-wise) it can take very little to convince a very drunk girl that you're interested. This story is an extreme by anyone's standards, but the idea of it is not.

    "What is going on there?" the friend who told me this story asked? "What's this girl thinking?"

    The basic answer is that she's not thinking, but the bigger picture is that girls (and guys) can develop a sort of tunnel vision when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex. If they're into someone every minor action because a clue - a he did this so he must like me! So in the case of this story, in the mind of this girl, here is the evidence that he lead her on:
    • "I mean, he talked to me for awhile at the bar, and we had this awesome conversation"
    • "He invited me to follow he and his friends to the next bar"
    • "He told me he was going to crash at his friend's place and when I said I was going to come too he said that was ok"
    • "He made out with me"
    Yes, all true facts, but from the opposite perspective they go:
    • "Yes, we talked for awhile at a bar about a topic that interests me"
    • "I didn't invite her, but I didn't tell her she couldn't come"
    • "When she said, 'okay then I'm coming with you because it's too late to go home,' what was I supposed to say?!
    • "Honestly, it was easier to just make out with her a little."
    What's the lesson here? I think there are a few:
    • Wingmen and women exist to prevent us from leading ourselves on. Get one, and use them. And if you are one, don't lie
    • There is undeniable attention from the opposite sex and there is questionable attention from the opposite sex. Know the difference. And then decide your own threshold for guessing wrong. Mine is zero, but in defense of people who takes chances, I'm single...
    • 80% of embarrassing mistakes happen because of drunk tunnel vision. This is bad because it happens, but good because you have something to blame
    • And finally - there are two sides to every single story, and sometimes even the nicest guys make out with you a little because it's easier than letting you down awkwardly. I know, but chances are you'd done it too...

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    More my so-called advice: The "today I loved" journal

    It's not often that I write a piece offering an honest glimpse into a personal struggle that's void of both sarcasm and issues involving "men" - but this most recent Lemondrop piece is just that. A little window into my own self-help solution to getting out of a major life rut. Though, according to my Mom, she invented this..

    I am what people refer to as a "fixer." I see, have or hear of a problem and within minutes I've developing a step-by-step process to reach ... a solution. Come to me for advice and you'll get a project plan. Come to me in tears and you'll get several hugs, the food-fix of your choosing and a project plan.

    It's not that I lack compassion or empathy -- it's that I lack patience. I want it experienced, addressed, evaluated and solved before it seeps in and invites a when-it-rains-it-pours scenario.

    On the positive end of this personality trait -- I'm a thick-skinned Pollyanna with an impressive bounce-back rate. On the negative -- when I come up against a problem without a quick enough fix, I'm crippled.

    Such was the case one fall. I was struggling through a bad situation at a bad job, one of my best friends had moved across the country, my family was in pain dealing with the degenerative disease my grandmother had developed, and I was struggling with those typical post-grad questions of what am I doing? Am I ever going get out of this debt? And where are all the good guys? Simple, average problems but when combined, just the kind of pile that could send you into a deep rut.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    You'll get by with a little help from (the right) friends

    Listen, facts are facts and fact is you don't have time to be friends with everyone. There's TV to watch and cocktails to drink and second careers to plan. I know someone who commits upwards of an hour a week to a full check of her 767 Facebook friends so she can send as many "keep in touch" messages as possible. That is outrageous.

    My mom says you should be able to plop your friends into one of three categories: friends for a reason, friends for a season or friends for life (my Mom loves rhyming advice). I'm not sure which she says are best to keep, but I guess start there and see where you net out.

    The truth of the matter is that five to ten fantastic friends are better than three dozen you could do without. But if you're going to narrow it to just five, my reco is that they hold significant value. Not like can-cry-on-their-shoulder-day-or-night value. I'm talking actual helpful purpose in the futurement (whatever, it should be) of your being. It does take a village to raise a person, so I'm saying you best fill your village with the right peoples.

    Here are my recommendations:

    • a photographer friend: you want to feel better about yourself as often as possible? have an amazing photographer take some black & white action shots of you and your friends doing any number of ridiculous things. You'll say things like, "wow, we're amazing, we look amazing, my god we're having so much fun." Is it 100% true? Who cares! It looks true in your Facebook album. Also, photographer friends make for a source of excellent and very personal gifts for every occasion. Mine in the incomparable Jenny Anderson. You can't have her but you can buy any and all of her art for a very reasonable price.
    • an accountant friend: You know what is just terrible? Turbotax. Accountant friends are like living/breathing Turbotax except you don't have to remember any confusing passwords and also they have lots of other human value beyond computation skills. We're young so we don't know just how much we need our accountant friends but trust me, they will be excellent to have in the bag once we start buying real estate.
    • a lawyer/doctor friend: these are grouped together because they are of equal value. Doctor's appointments and lawyers fees are incredibly expensive making having a doctor or lawyer friend much like having a friend who works for a fashion label/closet/magazine. Free, expensive stuff + advice.
    • a friend who works for a fashion label/closet/magazine. See above.
    • a really handy friend - we of the never-did-anything-for-ourselves generation take for granted the importance of, say, wallpapering a room, laying tile, or hanging a door. These needs are real, and real expensive if you don't have someone who can teach-a-man-to-fish-you for free. I don't personally have one of this type of friend, but I'm happy to consider anyone who'd like to apply.
    • a chef and/or just really good cook friend - there is nothing more fantastic than attending the dinner party of someone who really knows what they're doing in the kitchen. That's all really, but shouldn't be undervalued.
    • a friend who knows wine - See, most people who know wine really well are assholes, so if you have a friend who really knows wine you could go to them instead of having to deal with some asshole sommelier. Or if your friend is some asshole sommelier you're probably more tolerant of them as you're already friends.
    • a friend who knows what to do with babies - there may come a time when you find yourself with a baby and no knowledge of what to do. In this case it's really excellent to have a baby-expert in your arsenal. This can/should probably be your Mother which wouldn't count against your five closest friends, so if you've placed yourself in close enough proximity to yours, bravo you've save a friend slot.
    • a graphic artist friend - it's amazing how many times you find yourself needing an original logo for some project within 24 hours, right?! A graphic artist friend can really be a coup in these circumstances and/or whenever you need to photoshop one person's body onto another person's head. Mine is Mr. Zachary Wilson (who also boasts impressive copy-writing skills to boot). Again, he's not for sharing, but he is for sale.
    • a really annoying friend you just can't seem to shake - what would the Seinfield 4 be without George? Probably all annoyed with each other. There's something to be said for having a friend that the whole group is against. Hate to admit, but doesn't it seem true?...
    Now, who did I miss?

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    My So-called Advice: on saving money

    Here's the latest in my contributions to Lemondrop (the all-things site for women's lifestyles and issues):

    or, how a cash-only lifestyle can save you hundreds, in weeks.

    Remember cash? That green, waxy paper stuff that features one of several dead presidents or Ben Franklin?

    Well, for upwards of four years, I didn't. Never carried it. Never used it. Couldn't tell you which guy went with which dollar amount. My preferred currency was plastic and like most of us slaves to the magnetic strip, I swiped with reckless abandon.

    Sure, I applied my version of mental checkbook balancing to each purchase, but come the end of the month my numbers never quite subtracted up.

    I was in need of serious spending self-help -- a solution that would remind me of the value of the almighty dollar and stop me from swiping without thinking.

    And so I went to the halls of self-improvement (the third floor of the local Barnes and Noble) and sought out the advice of the fiercest financial contributor to any morning news program. A woman who would have made Mr. Potter feel like a spendthrift. A woman who lives and breathes efficiency from the tips of her toes to the top of her haircut. The one and only Suze Orman.

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    "I'm in business school to get me my M-R-S"

    Carly emailed the below, hysterical youtube clip on Saturday afternoon.

    Katie - our Kellogg School of Management girl - responded immediately:

    "You all have no idea just how completely true this is..."

    The infamous MRS degree - a decades-old joke that the most valuable thing a girl can get out of a college degree is a ring. This Single Ladies mock from some Columbia Business School (CBS) ladies takes it one step further saying that if you don't complete that "degree" in undergrad, give it a second try in B-school - a jackpot of husbands.

    It's funny because it's true - there's a total sense of "who's still available" among the grad school set, but the bigger question is was college (under or grad) the last, best-case scenario to find the right guy? Never again will we be surrounded by so many like-aged, like-minded, like goal-oriented peers. Never again will we have tons of free time, organized social events, and themed reasons to act like idiots. Never again will we have so many occasions to wear a name tag...

    I have no (legitimate) reason to go to grad school, so I'm disqualified from the conversation, but you've got to wonder how many girls out there hemming and hawing about the decision to apply add, "could find husband" to the pros column of their "should I?" list. Are they shallow? Are they foolish? Are they sexist? Or are they just right?...

    Bravo to these three who pulled back the curtain, in black leotards with these ridonc lyrics:

    "I'm in business school to get me my M-R-S
    The returns on a marriage are worth the debt
    Findin' a man in the markets' not happened yet
    So I'm gonna' find my hubby at CBS"

    Now, what say ye?

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Suburban Sabbatical: the one week assessment

    Thursday night April 22nd I moved from my Greenwich Village apartment to my parents suburban New Jersey home (why take the day off when your Dad is the equivalent of a professional mover and your life's contents fit inside a Toyota Sienna minivan?)Friday, April 23rd I moved seven of twelve bags and boxes from the garage to the bedroom I'll now inhabit and then stared at them for a few hours contemplating unpacking. Sometime around 7pm I figured out how to open just enough bags and boxes to assemble my clothing, shoe, accessory and bag needs for a week in LA. 25 or so of those minutes were spent trying to locate the purple suede peep toe wedges I needed for three of my five dressy outfit options, but then I remembered we took photos of my shoe-packing process so I went to the tape and there they were in bag two of three (that was a good idea Geanna).

    Saturday, April 24th at 7am I flew to LA for a week of work with some vacation in the mix.
    • LA friend: "So where do you live?"
    • Me: "Well, actually, I moved home to New Jersey recently.
    • LA friend: "Oh wow, when?"
    • Me: "Yesterday."
    So my first real day as prodigal daughter wasn't until Sunday, May 2nd when I flew back from LA and drove south not north in the Skyline town car.
    • Driver: "You go where?"
    • Me: "Freehold, New Jersey."
    • Driver: "Oh, whoa - I thought Freehold, New York."
    • Me: "No sir, there is no Freehold, New York."
    And there is officially no New York in Freehold.

    I grew up in this bedroom community of 35K situated 60-or-so miles from Manhattan, so it's by no means foreign. After my freshman year of college I commuted in to an internship with a fashion house on 56th Street and for the first six months of my post-grad life I lived home and traveled in to the temp and freelance jobs I had before my first, full-time gig - so the route 139 bus from Freehold Mall is not new to me, nor is the intricate dance that is the morning commute to Manhattan.
    But much like what I'm told about childbirth - you never quiiite remember how bad it is until you're going through it again.
    First of all - it's a bus not a train which means it's subject to traffic. Unpredictable, non-sensicle, makes-you-want-to-tear-your-hair-out traffic. You can, for absolutely no reason at all, sit for 30 minutes inside the Lincoln Tunnel at 8:35 in the morning (Tuesday). Or spend 18, that's right, 18 minutes in the EasyPass line of the Parkway Toll Plaza (Thursday). And if - heaven forbid - moisture falls from the sky in any form at any time, it can take you up to three and half hours to go sixty miles (Monday...).

    • Bus Driver: "Listen folks, this isn't gettin' much better, and frankly I'm not gonna make it, so we needa' take-a' pit stop."
    So far this week I've gotten home at 9pm, 9:30pm and 10:45pm, but in fairness that's because I'm unwilling to abandon my city life and friends during this money-saving stint. I'm sure that will change with time, as will the amount of nights of spend on friend's couches, but as far as week one goes, my life maintained normalcy; I just slept 50% less hours.
    On the very positives side are a few key items:
    • My Mom insists upon making my lunch. She makes herself a lunch (and the other two of my three sisters who currently live home), so what's one more delicious chicken and swiss with lettuce, tomato and raspberry dressing wrap? she says. I will never stop feeling guilty about this, but I've relented. Those wraps are damn good.
    • Someone picks me up from the bus every night and says, "hi, how was your day?" I imagine this is what being married or having a caring live-in boyfriend is like. Really lovely.
    • There is everything I could ever need ever in that house. A pantry stocked with food. A washer and dryer. A closet full of office supplies and arts & crafts. And four sets of female clothing in a range of sizes, shapes and styles. I have yet to unpack a thing and yet I've gone to work clothed every day. On Tuesday I assembled an entire outfit from the clothes Sara's didn't take to London and Wednesday I grabbed some cute top out of the laundry room. I don't know whose that was, but thanks.
    This weekend I fully intend to organize my belongings, donate the clothes I no longer need, and get myself officially situated into my new, temporary location. The entire fam is being incredibly gracious about helping me through this process...
    • Mom: " haven't unpacked anything yet..Ok...I'll help you this weekend. We'll handle it."
    • Dad: "Let's take a trip to Sam's Club and get some extra plastic containers for you."
    • Alex: "Jess, there's room in the basement for some of your stuff. We can put it there."
    ..which seemed like just the warm welcome my life-changing deserved from the greatest support system in my life. Until this:
    • Me: "So I figure I'll start this week, but I have over a month until Sara comes home from England."
    • Dani: "Um, Sara comes home May 22nd."
    • Me: "No, June 22nd."
    • Dani: "Nope, May 22nd."
    • Me: "WHAT?!"
    • Dani: "Yeah, that's like two weeks, top."
    • Me: "WHAT?!"
    • Dani: "Yeah, and she's going to flip a shit if your stuff is all over her room."
    • Me: "WHAT?!"
    • Dani: "Yeah, like crying style. You need to get that in order"
    So. Week one: check (...ish).
    Stay-tuned. Wish me luck. And don't worry Sara - it's totally under control.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Female response to the male mind story

    Yesterday's post raised some eyebrows, but the most consistent response from those who commented and/or gchatted was essentially - "yep, sounds about right."

    Was anything in this guy's account shocking to me? No. And for the record - the uncensored version contained some crude assessment of Katrina's physical nature and the guy's experience with self-proclaimed "whiskey dick" that seemed unfit for even this blog. To give you the summary in less graphic words: guys like thin girls and if they drink too much they struggle to perform. Even that wasn't shocking.

    Not all guys act/think like this but many do, even the "good ones" among them. Do all guys doggedly pursue one night stands with whomever they can get? No. Would most guys go home with a girl on the first shot and sleep with her if he was drunk and she was willing? Yes.

    This is why - guilty though I feel - I will always respond to the classic but-he-seemed-like-a- good-guy whine with, "but you knew him for less than six hours, all of which were spent drunk."

    Does that make my cynical? Maybe, but it's a drunk hook-up situation. I'd like to think my low expectations just make me sane...
    Now outside of the fact that we expect guys to think and behave like this guy did, there are a few interesting issues present in the story.

    1. She initiating the going of home. She said, "or we could just go back to your place." She consented to sex. And then she consented to morning sex after the first sex was bad. Ergo - I don't feel bad for this girl, and I don't think she's looking for pity. Like I said to Doug online yesterday, I don't think as many girls go out pursuing a one night stand, but I think many say the opposite of no after a bunch of drinks and some interest from the guy. She was as into it as him, which changes my view of him as the exclusive villain. No one's the villain - they were both just drunk and horny.

    2. For guys - or at least this guy - sex is about the sex feeling good and thus making the guy feel good, but it seems to also be about the sex being good, the girl confirming that, and the guy feeling good (emotionally not physically) as a result. His reaction to that girl telling him she thought the sex would be better knocked him down a few rungs slash entire ladders. (Also, (Dear Katrina, hahahahahahahaha and thanks. XO -Jessie)

    3. Sports movies are the single greatest resource for male stupidity. This dude had morning sex with a chick he did not enjoy sex with the first time because of an Al Pacino quote from Any Given Sunday. Next to him reading Robert Frost poetry in bed, that is the single saddest part of the story. And not because Any Given Sunday is a bad movie - it's a great movie. Let's leave it at that and not use it to justify bad morning sex.

    4. Alcohol changes everything. This needs no further explanation.

    To answer the many questions I received on the topic - no, this guy doesn't have a blog...yet. But you can read his same story over 200+ pages in a book called I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by a guy named Tucker Max. Same shit. Different guy/girl/night/morning/Al Pacino quote.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    From the mind of male: the one night stand

    Today: One anonymous man's recount of a Friday night out slash Saturday morning in. Eye-muffs Mom - this is not a tale of our generation's finest moment...

    Tomorrow: An assessment of what it means. For him. For her. For us. That is, if it means anything...

    Also - don't shoot the messenger.
    Late Friday afternoon rolls around, and I'm sitting at work looking out the window, exalting in the burst of relaxation and excitement engendered when one's boss leaves for the weekend. My buoyant mood notwithstanding, I still don't have a plan for the evening, until Jeff texts me. "Andrea is bringing friends to the beergarten." Andrea, for the uninitiated, is Jeff's new woman du jour. She's 24, works at JP Morgan, and is outgoing such that I think she might have friends who are built for speed. I arrive at Jeff’s and after a few beers and a few innings of the Mets beating the Phillies, we head two blocks over to the beergarten. 

    Andrea is already there, standing near the entrance with a cute friend named Mary. Mary is 5'4", dyed blond hair, suspiciously tan, but still possessing that attractive dirty/slutty/fake-tanned/fake-blond look. It works pretty well for her; she is fit, with a little meat on her bones. And, she is wearing tight clothes that also show off a pretty decent rack. I can work with this. She is outgoing, and a little crass. Fun.

    Five minutes into chatting, she mentions that her friend Kevin is coming. Oh shit. Friend Kevin. My night just got a lot worse. I will be playing 5th wheel, and lord knows it could get really ugly fast, since Jeff and Andrea greeted each other with a smile-filled kiss. But then Mary makes a kick-save and a beauty. She says, "why do I feel the need to say my friend Kevin is gay?" I'm sure I did not hide my emotions: my face probably light up like a Christmas tree switching on. From zero to hero. The prodigal son returning home. Pauper to prince. Those were the most beautiful words I could have heard. She's making a point to say she's still available, so I continue chatting with her.

    We sit down at one of the long tables, alongside Jeff and Andrea, and Jeff's brother Tom and his friends, and we soon commence some flipcup. In the first round of flipcup, Andrea is struggling. She takes forever to down her beer, and then can't balance the cup on the table. Then, after the round concludes, she's learning back in her seat, such that I'm scared she's going to fall right out of the picnic table. Then, as soon as Jeff asks her if she is okay, she grabs him and starts whispering into his ear. Andrea has a wry smile as she's whispering into his ear, and Jeff ellicts a cheerful response of: "Well....hahaha...okay, let's have a few drinks here then we can go." My guess as to what she said: "Let's go back to your place…." 

    How did Andrea end up so drunk two beers into the night? I don’t know, but this is not helpful for my chances with Mary. Andrea makes a few trips to the bathroom with Mary, but they don't really improve her situation. She's very drunk and not going to last long. I forget about this potential snafu, and I continue chatting with Mary. I start to make some good progress, discovering we are both English majors, and she even claims to like Robert Frost. She tells me about her work selling insurance for alternative energy projects, and she even suggests we should meet for coffee. A little weird to have a girl ask you out so quickly, but hey, it feels like a good sign. Then, disaster strikes. She gets a call from her roommate, who's having some emotional breakdown. In an instant, I'm giving her a kiss on the cheek goodbye. I left with Mary's business card, a drunk Andrea/Jeff, and Mary's "gay friend" Kevin.

    The group leaves the beergarten, and heads to a bar. Jeff/Andrea put forth a valiant effort, and do show up at the bar, but 2 minutes later they are gone. So I'm left solo with Tom and his friends. I haven’t spoken to any of them all night, because they were far down the other end of the table. I don’t even know half of them. I grab a bacardi and diet, and stroll over towards Liz, a friend of Tom's who is a familiar face. She's chatting with a buxom blue-eyed blond girl - Katrina. I pull out my strongest game, because I'm kind of drunk. Let me tally up the drinking thus far...

    I had two full 1-liter mugs of beer at the beergarten, and I made sure to pick out the beer with the highest alcohol content. Very Tucker Max of me, I know. Add into that the beer from 10 rounds of flip cup and the couple I had at Jeff's, and, well, yeah, I'm feeling good. This is probably why I went with Bacardi Diet, which is my party drink. It hits you harder than beer, it's got a little caffeine in it too, and it's diet! 

    So what's my very best game, you ask? My best pick-up/bar move is offering to guess everything about a girl. "Nice to meet you Katrina...wait, don't tell me anything...I'm going to guess where you're from, where you live in the city, and what your job is." This is actually a pretty fun exercise, and girls love it. It's also practical, because it's a natural conversation starter. In the process of hints, clues, and guessing there is a lot of laughing and room for digressions.

    Now Liz is going on and on about how she's related to Boss Tweed. It's fairly interesting, but gets boring after a while. Thankfully, the conversation turns to my shirt. Now, I agonized for longer than I'd care to admit about what to wear out yesterday. I ended up choosing a white dress shirt that also doubles as a tuxedo shirt. It's a very sharp looking shirt, it's textured and has french cuffs, so my sleeves were rolled up. Katrina is saying how she loves the texture, and starts rubbing my chest. Liz does the same, and says she wishes her boyfriend would wear shirts like mine. Liz, with her boyfriend watching, is rubbing my shirt more intently than Katrina. Katrina and Liz go to grab drinks, and Adam comes over and jokingly tells me to stop hitting on his girlfriend. 

    Now's it's decision time. Do I jump in a cab home and give my body some time to digest this alcohol, meaning there is a chance I'll wake up early feeling good on a beautiful Saturday morning? Or do I make a full-court press for Katrina. You guys know me: I'm a whore. I think all women are attractive, and I'll sleep with just about anyone. Of course I went for Katrina. It turns out she is pretty interesting. She was an astronomy major at Barnard, and I impress her with my knowledge about stars, relativity, the history of the universe, and snarkily remark about how I watched the first episode of the new series on Discovery written by Stephen Hawking, but I didn't learn anything new, because I already knew it all. She's picking up what I'm putting down. Things are going well. The group heads to another bar, and I buy a round of drinks. Of course, in that round I bought three shots of Jamo. Why 3? I don't know, but it's always good to have extra. I tell Katrina that one is for Tom, one is for me, and unless she can beat me in rock-scissors-paper, she's taking the third. It's best out of three, and I lose the first two games straight away. I'm like the Oklahoma City Thunder. But you know what? She grabs the shot and downs it anyway. L'Chaim!

    The night's winding down and we're outside the bar talking. Everyone's leaving. I work the classic, "let's grab one more drink. We both live on the west side, it's definitely too early to call it a night." So somehow I ask her, "where do you want to go?," which is not the right move, because you need to be assertive and you need to have a plan. Those are key elements in any successful date or any successful attempt at getting laid. She mumbles some nonsense that as best I can remember was: "I'll go anywhere. We could go to a bar...don't really care...would be fine. (Sheepishly) I'll even go to your place now if you want." Wow, talk about making it easy for me. I flag a cab and we're on our way to my apartment.

    Now - the thing about sleeping with a random girl for the first time is that the sex is rarely good. Sex is perfected only after you have chemistry with a girl. And, I don't mean you need emotional chemistry. It was pretty good, but not my best performance ever. Immediately after, she says out loud: "That's it? I thought you would have been better."

    Ouch. I can't believe she said that. Here I am, abandoned by Jeff, drunk, and then she insults my performance. Wow, what a low. I should have struck back but I demurred, got us both some bottles of water and we drifted off into a drunken sleep. But, not before she warned me that she snores. Endearing. 

    I wake up, to a beautiful day, with sun beaming in my window and a swath of blue sky visible. I can tell that Katrina is awake, and she wants me to wake up too. She wants me to get up first and move about, so she doesn't have to climb over me and get dressed in front of me. She certainly doesn't want to be the one to break the "morning after silence." I don't really care, I want to sleep more. So I just go back to sleep for 20 minutes without saying a word. Then, I start to feel charitable, and I break the "morning after silence" by saying "good morning." Morning after silences can be really awkward. I was kind of reeling from being insulted last night, so I purposefully let this one drag out for a little bit. Cruel, I know, but then I went to fetch us some waters. 

    I head to the bathroom first, and looking at myself in the mirror, some self-pity emerges. I look like a complete mess. My hair which once looked really good, courtesy of the Ax messy look paste I applied before going out, now looks horrible, precisely because the combination of sweat, sex, and sleep have mixed with the ax messy-look paste to make my hair look like a bird's nest that's been split in half in a heavy rainstorm. I have a slight hangover, and my eyes are bloodshot and still adjusting to the light of day. Self-pity is growing fast and strong. 

But, then, I have an ah-ha moment. My inner thoughts shifted to Pacino's speech in Any Given Sunday. 

    "I don't know what to say really.
Three minutes
to the biggest battle of our professional lives
all comes down to today.
Either we heal as a team
or we are going to crumble.
Inch by inch
play by play
till we're finished.
We are in hell right now, gentlemen
believe me and
we can stay here
and get the shit kicked out of us
or we can fight our way
back into the light.
We can climb out of hell.
One inch, at a time."

    I decided to climb out of hell, gentlemen. I fought for that inch. I threw on my Motown playlist in the living room, grabbed to bottles of water, and went back into the bedroom ready to fight for some morning sex. I was going back in. Sadly, It was another subpar performance but I shook it off, grabbed my book of Robert Frost poetry and engaged her with that. She seemed to enjoy it, and I read her a few of my favorite poems, and discussed them with her. 

    Soon enough, she was on her way out the door. To be polite, I asked for her phone number. And she left with the always classic, morning-after-a-one-night-stand euphemism: " was really great you last night," she said in a slightly embarrassed tone as I showed her to the door.

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    LA versus New York, chivalry-wise

    Somehow between this and my last trip to LA a bunch of my West Coast friends have secured relationships. They're all in varying phases of execution - preparing for a first vacay together; embarking on the first serious relationship of both their lives; re-connecting after years of hhmmm maybe...

    So on this trip in LA I spent a good chunk of time discussing actually dating in that city versus New York. People shared varying opinions, as people tend to do - dating in LA is different because you have more space; because there's more outdoor activity to do; because people are always randomly on hiatus...

    But the thing I found most interesting was an observation my friend Laura shared over beet and goat cheese salad (which is served at every single LA restaurant) at the Palihouse (which is the most New York restaurant I was able to find) just off Santa Monica Blvd (where I both successfully drove and parked my rental car).

    "I think LA offers guys much more opportunity to be traditionally chivalrous," she said.

    Now it's important to note that Laura moved to LA from New York a mere four months ago. After spending her immediate post-college years as a PR professional in Manhattan she was ready for the east-to-west coast shift. She made that transition through her employer and is happily living in a spacious studio and dating a lovely man she met at the gym. It should be noted that Laura did a fair amount of first-dating in New York and met plenty of guys, but none were quite the right match, so she comes at this chivalry perspective with legit experience from the right coast.

    Laura's point wasn't about personality - that an entire coast of men are just different - her point was about circumstance - simply that certain features of LA life require men (and by extension women) to behave more maturely at the onset of a potential relationship (so, while dating). Here were her primary examples, with my commentary.

    The pick up - Because cars are LA's mode of transpo, guys will pick you up for a date offering the opportunity for them to show their date-approach colors. Are they late? Do they get out of the car to retrieve you? Do they open your car door? Do they drive like assholes? Do they look for parking or pay for valet? (which holds different meaning for different girls. I'm of the he-looks-for-good-parking-and-can-parallel-park-when-he-finds-it persuasion)
    • The New York version - you meet there opening up a series of wild-cards about what may go down open arrival, aaaand departure. There is nothing more awkward than sharing a cab home after a date and deciding whether you're making one stop or two.
    The drinking - Because he's driven, a guy will likely drink far less than he might on a first date in New York offering a more honest look at his sober personality. In turn you, not wanting to look the lush, will (should...) also drink less. The result is a conversation that, when you play it over in your head the next day, doesn't make you want to kill yourself. Also, if he drinks way too much, you're aware of that off the bat. Same goes for you.
    • The New York version - I can't comment because I'm too busy trying to re-play 4-year-old conversations in my head...
    The hooking-up - People hook-up in LA, make no mistake. There are house parties and nights out at bars where people get just as wasted as they do in any other city. But that's not after a first date. Now, how many legitimate first dates in New York end in a sleep-over? Unsure. The point here is that if a legitimate date occurs in which the guy picks the girl up and therefore drinks less than he would if he weren't driving, the night will likely not end in a one-night stand.
    • The New York version - to put it simply - a first date in New York is just more of a wild card than it is in LA. Maybe you'll be out for a sensible after-work cocktail then call it a night, but maybe the mood will be right and you'll hop from one bar to the next until 2am. You can be more spontaneous in New York because you're not driving, and there are far more bars/restaurants/events per square block.
    Is it that much different - I don't know. I surveyed ten people with one specific opinion. Ten others might say LA is full of dogs with no manners.

    But my personal experience with the matter this past week supports Laura's suggestion -much more chivalry than I've experienced in 4+ years of dating in New York...