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Archive for January, 2009

marry-meThirty minutes into my first dinner date with Jeff, he leaned across the table and said, “you should know I’m eager to get married.  And I want children, probably no more than two.  A boy, hopefully, and I’d like him to have my name.  How many kids do you want?”

 

Thus far, Jeff and I had talked about the weather, our jobs and how tasty the Lobster Thermidor looked on the restaurant menu.  Now, suddenly, he was asking how committed I was to getting married and raising some kid named Jeff, Jr.  My answer?  I don’t know your last name.  I have no idea whether we like the same music.  If you went to the bathroom, I’m not sure I’d recognize you when you came back to the table.  Why are we talking about this?

 

At the first Man Panel, I discovered premature talk from women about nuptials-and-nesting is the bane of every single man’s existence.  Apparently, women who don’t talk about long-term domestic aspirations during the first few dates are a refreshing but rare exception to the norm.

 

I understand.  We’re impatient.  We’re getting older.  Our mothers are commenting on our sagging butts and pressuring us for grandchildren.  And it’s cold out here in Single Land.

 

But lots of singletons are rushing the process of intimacy, virtually ensuring their dates hit the eject button.  One panelist groaned about a woman who had her ideal world structured down to the minutest detail – cohabitation in six months, first kid in a year, a dog named Bruno.  Her and her prospective hubby’s combined salaries had to reach six figures.  Their SUV had to be cherry red or teal.  Their home could never contain wall-to-wall carpeting.  All she needed was a handsome creature with a penis and paycheck to plop into the puzzle. 

 

I suppose if all you want is to marry and procreate, utilizing this romantic litmus test makes sense, although who would even buy a pair of shoes before seeing how well they fit?  Maybe you can commit to a puppy because it’s cute and fits some finite checklist of traits, but human beings have layers of character and complications that take months, more often years, to penetrate.  Even shoes need to be broken in. 

 

Some of the Man Panelists blamed this IPod world we live in, where we put other people on “shuffle,” giving them mere seconds to win and keep our attention.  No longer do we luxuriate in the process of getting to know one another deeply.   Instead, we drag-and-drop the essentials of our perfect partner into a shopping cart and expect them to arrive in a box from Amazon.com.   

 

“What about what I want?”  One panelist wondered aloud.  “What about my time frame?  What if we want the same things and I just need another six months to find out?”

 

Of course, if two individual life directions conflict, a relationship may not be in the cards.  But doesn’t loving someone sometimes create new priorities and change life directions?

 

Ask me, relationships aren’t only worthwhile if they lead to marriage.  Personally, I adore all those tinier, life-altering interactions I’ve had along the way, the ones that make me better for the men I link up with for the long haul.

 

During our date, Jeff grimaced when he found out I couldn’t ski, but gave me a point for loving sushi.   Still, all I could think was, “dude, you already blew it.”  Rather than being installed into some weird algorithm in a man’s head, I want to be mysterious to one another, welcoming the future as a blank slate full of possibilities. 

 

At least until the check comes.

 

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malena

 

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the news.  Beautiful women love to cheat.  A University of Texas report released this week put forth that “physically attractive women may not only have more alternatives, but also [have] high standards that are difficult to satisfy…they may have fewer reasons to be committed to any particular partner.”

 

Indiscriminately chosen partners and meaningless sex?  Hot women just can’t get enough.  Something about the chemicals in their ovaries shooting rivers of indecision and sluttishness into their bloodstreams.   

 

Personally, I find these studies a godsend.  How else are we supposed to keep track of all the monstrous ways women are vandalizing the holy edifice of love?  We need this research to remind us that men are delicate creatures whose fragile hearts must be bubble-wrapped in relationships with undemanding females who will safely incubate their children. 

 

Remember the Forbes piece suggesting career women with university-level educations suck as mothers and are more likely to divorce?  How about Maureen Dowd’s op-ed about men only wanting to marry their secretaries, in which she concluded, “men think that women with important jobs are more likely to cheat on them.”  Nuggets of wisdom, the both of ‘em. 

 

The article I read about the U of T study pictured legendary jezebels Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe as icons of female debauchery.  Understandable.  What poor guy could possibly hold his own against these powerhouses of psychological might?  Liz’s eight marriages and alcoholism scream of the kind of daunting personal achievement that would scare off any man or mouse.  And Marilyn.  She really had her shit together.

 

Still, it would be nice if researchers occasionally did studies on why great-looking men cheat.  But I guess that just never happens.  Certainly, only unattractive guys would ever consider dipping their wicks into inappropriate wells.  Look at Liz and Marilyn’s contemporaries in Tinseltown.  Jude Law?  Hideous.  Brad Pitt?  What an ug-bug.  Clooney?  Don’t make me barf.

 

If there’s anything destroying American civilization and gnawing at our familial bonds, it’s all those beautiful, over-sexed hussies bringing in a second income and wanting their partners to have sex with them.  All those harpies who require their significant others to be intellectual peers, emotional reinforcements and animals in bed.  Thank God men don’t have such outrageous expectations.

 

Too bad though.  I’ve always thought the reason I’ve never cheated is because I choose partners with whom I can have relationships based on mutual respect, compatibility and lust, and thus, would be less motivated to stray.  I’ve always prided myself on having the ethical makeup and willpower not to give into temptation.  And I’ve been pleased to find I’m mature enough to end unsatisfying relationships rather than ruin them with infidelity.  Come to find out, the only reason I haven’t cheated is because I’m ugly, stupid and have a lousy job.

 

Good thing I can’t afford an MBA or a boob job.  What a skank I’d be.

 

 

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why-didnt-he-call

Studies suggest people who have suffered severe trauma to the frontal lobe of their brains have trouble projecting into the future and making plans.  These unfortunate folks are “trapped forever in a perpetual now, a world without end, a time without later.”*     

If you were to go out with a person with a compromised anterior lobe, you shouldn’t be surprised when he or she neglects to phone you after a great date.  Such is the case with Matt, the moody chef with whom I enjoyed two weeks of soul-mending emotional entanglement and erotic bliss, then didn’t hear from for…a year. 

Our last date, on a Wednesday in February ‘08, ended with him feeling euphoric about our new love affair, and begging me to join him on a hike the following weekend.   When I didn’t hear from Matt the next Friday, I assumed our hike would be postponed for Saturday.  On Monday, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, then on Thursday waited patiently for a phone call and explanation.  

But by Christmas I was starting to worry.

In truth, after ten days and a couple unreturned phone calls, I was certain Matt and me were kaput.  But recently, a gal pal and I ran into him, prompting my friend to ask what had happened with Mr. Moody Chef.  Thus, I was thrust back into that unanswerable why. 

Why did Matt disappear? 

My gal pal drew the usual conclusion – he had commitment issues and got scared.  But to me the answer was much simpler: Matt was lobotomized as a child.  Just a hunch, but my gut says he’s missing his frontal lobe. 

Since the start of the Man Panel – a monthly series started by yours truly, where women ask men everything they want to know about relationships – the recurring question has been “why didn’t he call?”  You could be talking about movies, tuna fish, the history of the glockenspiel, but all single women want to know is, “why do men withdraw?”

Last November, the panel of men offered clues:

·         He liked you but his feelings changed

·         He didn’t like you, or at least, not enough

·         He liked you but then met someone he liked better

·         He’s not over an ex

·         He’s crazy about you but isn’t ready for a relationship

Furthermore, he didn’t call to tell you because, a) he thought you’d “go psycho,” b) he’s a wuss, or c) he didn’t want to hurt you.  If he doesn’t tell you, y’see, he isn’t hurting you.

Men pursue women they want.  They don’t pursue women they don’t want.  No reason to ask the advice of your friends, scour self-help books or send the guy’s last text message to the FBI for decoding.  It would be lovely of him to provide closure, but sometimes you just won’t know what went wrong.  Doesn’t matter.  Turn the page.  Ouch.

As an old hat, I stay relatively calm while waiting for “the call.”  Sure, if a call doesn’t come, I cry, I drink, I consider shaving my head and becoming a nun.  But afterward, this ol’ gal moves on. 

Thankfully, through scientific research, I now have more information.  Instead of thinking a guy stopped calling because he lost interest, I’m just going to assume he’s suffering from severe head trauma.  In fact, before I give any guy my number again, I’m gonna ask, “how’s your frontal lobe?”, and if he says, “cool,” then he has no excuse for not calling.

 

*Stumbling On Happiness, Daniel Gilbert

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jimmydonna

According to family legend, my grandparents met while ice-skating on a Canadian pond that could have come straight off the set of It’s a Wonderful Life. Grandma wore a muffler and a Donna Reed haircut. Grandpa had on starched trousers and Brylcreem. She was coy and giggled at all his jokes, he bought her a hot cocoa to let her know she was the cat’s meow. After months of courting her with hand-written love letters, fresh bouquets sent each week and two-stepping with her to Andrews Sisters records, he asked her hand in marriage.

Grandma never spat into Grandpa’s face after her third blow job shot. She didn’t bounce her backside into his groin to the beat of the Pussycat Dolls’ latest strip-club anthem. Grandpa wasn’t wishy-washy about commitment, Grandma’s biological clock wasn’t ticking and neither of them were hauling around enough emotional cargo from past relationships to fill Fenway Park.

Back then, romance was beautifully orchestrated. The rules were in place and only required gents to take the lead. All women had to do was bat their eyelashes and wait.

Two generations later, I live in a messy, messy world. Half the people I come across are in stable, committed relationships. Who knows if they’re happy, but Lord knows they’re safe. But the other half…

God have mercy on the other half, the confused, hyper-stimulated guys and gals trying so desperately to figure out how to connect. Somewhere between the second and third circle of hell is a whole other level called “singledom,” a world of awkward coffee dates, sporadic email exchanges and calls never returned. Here, you’ll find speed daters desperate to get from the date to the maternity ward, players keeping their booty calls on weekly rotating schedules and wallflowers with ugly profile pictures alone on a Saturday night. There’s lots of heartbreak, heaps of cruelty and tons of scrumptious but ultimately meaningless sex. Undoubtedly, there are even more tears.

Everyone wants rules, but there aren’t any. Everyone wants answers, but can’t come up with the right questions. Everyone wants to know how to play the game but no one seems to realize this isn’t a sport.

The world has changed and we’re a new race of people. Women have careers, emotional needs, sex drives. Men have disposable income, feelings, Viagra. We are no longer Dashing Knights and Maidens in Distress, and love is no longer a game. It’s a test to see if we can enjoy the world of opportunities at our fingertips yet still make wise choices. To see if we can selfishly suck up all the novelty and change we need to evolve solo, but still find room for compassion in relationship. To recognize the value of love and commitment when, really, there seem to be plenty of reasons to steer clear of the muck.

Without the rules and conventions our grandparents lived by, we’re left to confront each other as individuals. Nothing to hide behind, no roles to play, no expectations to fulfill.

So why don’t we see how lucky we are? And why don’t single folk see themselves as the luckiest of all, because they have the chance to start fresh, to build relationships based on true compatibility and the revelation of souls? Finally, we can be with each other yet still be ourselves.

Here we are, bare-ass naked. Just you and him, you and her, you and me. Aren’t we gorgeous?

So, I ask. What are we afraid of?

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