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Archive for February, 2009

mickey_rourkeThe Mickey Rourke bandwagon is making the rounds, but I already hopped aboard long before all this Wrestler hullabaloo.  Hollywood is working the comeback angle on tough guy Mick who may win an Oscar this year.  But the real moral of this story is simpler: being a bad boy is a lousy life choice.  Loving one is even worse.

 

Back when my high school’s handsome quarterback wouldn’t notice me, Mickey Rourke came to the rescue.  After encountering his chaotic sensuality in The Pope of Greenwich Village, I was maniacal in my pursuit of all things Mickey.  I fast-forwarded through Diner to get to his scenes.  I suffered through Angel Heart to luxuriate in the sound of his heartbroken voice.  And 9 ½ Weeks I watched on repeat until the VHS tape split in two.

 

The quarterback was the wholesome boy of my dreams.  But what I really lusted after was a sexy screw-up with a movie star face, the soul of a brute, and the emotional maturity of a bratty, six-year old girl. 

 

And along came Mickey. 

 

Supposedly, every woman wants a bad boy, and I’ve certainly had my share. There was the Irish mafioso in Boston, the Bulgarian mafioso in Spain.  The chef who had tattoos instead of feelings.  The policeman who boxed instead of cried. 

 

I finally quit bad boys cold turkey after meeting Dan, the boxing policeman with a raging bull body and Elvis-ian sneer.  Six months ago, the two of us enjoyed a passionate but hilariously brief time together, rehashing the ins-and-outs of his suckjob childhood and wondering why life, mostly his, was nothing more than an enormous pile of horse droppings.  Instead of a girlfriend, I became a comfort woman, a backbone, a shrink.  But what truly ended things was how we always hit an intellectual wall whenever conversation moved beyond cars and punching people in the face.  After we parted ways, I went from shrink to 3 am booty call, further evidence of how appreciative Dan was of my wisdom and encouragement. 

 

Truthfully, I was a bit sorry to see Dan go.  He boxed.  He bellyached.  He was my very own Mickey Rourke. 

 

And now, in the days before Rourke might win an Oscar, I get a voice message from Dan.  Since our split, he’s thought a lot about me, y’see.  Of course, I should ignore the call.  Instead I’m wondering why “bad” is so hard to shake. 

 

Is it because we really believe we can save these guys?  Or is that we’re still a bunch of cave women pining away for the beefy and strong?  We want men who can defend us when necessary against spiders and cat-calls and this mean ol’ grizzly bear called life.  But we also want someone who isn’t afraid to burrow down deep into the dirty muck of his own soul, to bring up the pain there and share it with that one special gal.  In relationships, women want to feel together, to suffer and prevail as one.  Shared feelings equal intimacy.  If there’s anything bad boys seem to offer, it’s a well of steamy emotion. 

 

And intensity.  Good guys may challenge our minds, but bad boys test our mettle.  A significantly more erotic interplay.

 

But there’s a fly in the ointment.  These boys rarely heal.  They just keep fighting, getting tattoos, puking up the bile of their own internal suffering and dribbling it into the lives of their worn-out girlfriends.  Bad boys don’t care about a woman’s personal shit because they’re too busy continually stepping in their own. 

 

After ruining his life with boxing and booze, Mickey Rourke comes back to us with an Elephant-Man-meets-bloated-wino face, and a fat Chihuahua he says is his dearest friend.  During the pre-Oscar Barbara Walters interview, Mick gets all self-help on our asses and admits to having issues around abandonment and shame. 

 

“Hardness is a shield,” he says.  “It hides other things.”

 

A man who deals with his issues is hot.  A man who’s conscious of other people’s feelings is positively breath-taking.  And a man who transcends the pain of his own life story?  Give this dude a medal. 

 

Tonight, I’ll root for Mickey Rourke to win the Oscar but I won’t return Policeman Dan’s phone call.  Like Mick, I stand at a defining moment where I can either move toward emotional redemption and romantic health, or get sucked back into bad boy-ism and a life of needless distress. 

 

Let’s hope Mickey can be as strong as I am.

 

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carrying-bags1One of my girlfriends thinks the worst part of being single is sleeping in a big, pretty bed with no man to warm her tootsies.  Another says it’s the holidays, when nosy relatives butt into her romantic life and worry about her shriveling ovaries.  But to me, there’s something more demoralizing, more torturous than any other trial single women must endure.

 

Grocery shopping.

 

Nothing says, “you’re alone, you childless monster from Hell” like the modern grocery shopping experience.  Even the shopping list itself is a hideous reminder of your solitary fate: One breast of chicken.  One stick of butter.  One can of lonely ass soup.

 

In the aisles of my local Whole Foods, I hear adorable couples saying cute, couple-ish things – “Do we have soy milk?  Did we run out of basmati rice?” – just to drive home to us singles that no one’s concerned about our dairy intake or whether we’re getting our daily requirement of grains. 

 

Meanwhile in produce, I’m being loathed by the over-worked vegetable lady who I’ve just asked to slice a cabbage in half.  Later at the seafood counter, the old fish guy offers a merciful grin after I order a single filet of cod. 

 

“Poor child,” his smile seems to say.  “Let’s get you the biggest piece of fish we can find!”

 

Loneliness, desperation and gloom are not emotions I feel on a regular basis as a single woman.  Sure, if a fairy came down to grant me three wishes, a sexy boyfriend might be first on the list.  As a married woman, there were days I would’ve given my life savings – the entire roll of quarters – to be single again, just as there are now days when I fantasize myself attached.  Mostly though, life is rich enough to keep a smile on my face.   

 

But the grocery shopping…gets me every time.

 

Living in a city without a car makes the whole ordeal even more gruesome.  Try walking through a foot of New England snow while carrying four heavy, tragically defective plastic bags.  One inconvenient shift of a pizza box and a week’s worth of groceries go tumbling into a snow bank.  If there’s ever a time I miss an ex-boyfriend, it’s during the long walk home from my neighborhood supermarket. 

 

“Peter had such a nice, warm car,” I’ll think.  “If there was one thing I loved about Peter, it was how gallantly he carried grocery bags.” 

 

I assume there’s now a permanent fissure in the muscles between my shoulders and neck after years of schlepping bags around.  On the plus side, I’m developing biceps that would make Madonna cower in fear. 

 

Truth is, grocery shopping is just an externalization of the harsh realities of being single.  Tough life decisions, disappointments and setbacks, the burden of trying to build a career and a fruitful existence – you carry by yourself.  Life’s challenges rest squarely on your own fragile shoulders.  The fantastic thing about having a partner is that he or she carries half those bags.  And sometimes, when you’re really lucky, he’ll just toss them in the trunk of his car so you don’t have to worry about them at all. 

 

Unfortunately, I have to eat which means I have to buy groceries.  Therefore, I’ve decided to start having my food delivered.  That way I can avoid all those evil beings who taunt me in the purgatory otherwise known as Stop n’ Shop. 

 

Now, if I could just find a way to heat up the other side of the bed.

 

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godiva-chocolate-valentine1If you believe chick flicks, I’m supposed to loathe being single on Valentine’s Day.  In chick flick world, I’d just lock myself in my bedroom singing Alanis Morissette songs off-key and slamming back pints of Häagen-Dazs. 

 

True, all the red roses and candy boxes can make single gals wistful around V-Day, and unfortunately the industry doesn’t do much to make us feel less crappy.  But this year, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve.  I’ve got The Secret.

 

Initially skeptical, I decided to give the idea a whirl after my friend Paula got a check in the mail for $368 at a time when she owed a creditor…$368.  Paula attributed her success to the Law of Attraction. 

 

The rules are simple: Ask, nay, demand from the universe what you want and think relentlessly positive thoughts to manifest your orders.  Shoot high, the book insists, nothing is out of reach.  I figure my chances are even better if I put my demands in writing, so here goes.

 

Dear Universe,

 

I command you to make the following happen on Valentine’s Day 2009:

 

George Clooney picks me up around eight.  He takes me to one of those restaurants where you can buy a $40,000 bottle of champagne, just so I can see how the other half lives.  During dinner, George is bowled over by my dazzling wit as we talk film, culture and politics.  As I explain my views on world cinema and ending global poverty, he stares longingly into my eyes then whispers, “from whence have you come, goddess?  Never have I felt so connected to another person.  We two are one.” 

 

After dinner, George and I go to a hip lounge to share some cocktails and smooch.  There, he hands me a heart-shaped box.  Inside, I find a publishing contract, a check big enough to pay off my student loans and an invitation to accompany George to next year’s Oscars.  Of course, by next year, my book will have come out, I’ll have turned it into a script and undoubtedly will be winning a screenwriting award at the ceremony.  Note to self: get Oscar speech ready.

 

On the way to George’s hotel, I get a call from the Nobel Foundation.  They’ve seen the manuscript of my book and have decided to award me the Nobel Prize for Literature.  The book hasn’t come out yet, but it’s just that darn good.  Next, I get a call from Barack Obama, inviting me to the White House to celebrate my new prize.  As an aside, he says, “you seem to have some creative ideas.  Maybe you’d like to be a member of my cabinet?  We need more women.”  And I say, “thanks, but I wouldn’t want to overshadow Hillary.”  Barack mentions that if I ever need a place to stay in DC, I can totally crash at his place. 

 

Sharing a cocktail back at the hotel, Clooney says, “y’know, I realize I have a reputation for being a drunken, womanizing schmuck who only dates leggy waitresses and soft-core porn actresses.  But baby, you move me.  Will you be my wife?”

 

And I say, “man, I told you I’m not sure about marriage.”

 

And he says, “dear God, woman, don’t you see how I suffer?  It’s always been a dream of mine to have a short, brown wife like you to live in my sprawling Italian villa and write novels all day.  What if I put in an extra pool?”

 

So, I tell him I’ll think about it.  Then I think about it, then I say yes.  And George weeps and says, “I don’t deserve to be this happy.”

 

Then I let him get drunk and womanize me.

      

Thank You, Universe,

 

XOXO,

 

Laura

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

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online_dating4Due to my tendency to date emotionally wounded slackers and skirt-chasing alpha males, my friends have determined that I’m incapable of choosing worthwhile partners.  This past Christmas, they banded together to buy me an online dating subscription and I’ve been suffering ever since. 

 

Until last Friday’s Man Panel.  Before then, I had my doubts.  To me, locking eyes with a stranger across a room then unpeeling the layers of his soul is the key ingredient to making romance so delicious.  Locking eyes across an information superhighway then downloading answers to contrived, immaterial questions – who would play you in the movie of your life? – is about as romantic as renewing my driver’s license.  Still, I’ve been giving it the ol’ college try.

 

Glancing at my profile, you’d probably assume I’m an artsy, occasionally nerdy, city girl.  So imagine my surprise when I was paired with a man whose greatest passion in life is the Boston Bruins and a Paul Bunyan type holding a wide-mouthed bass in his profile picture.  My favorite was the guy who answered, “not much,” when asked how often he reads.  What a match made in Heaven: a guy who doesn’t read…and a writer.

   

Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with those men or their interests.  My point is that if we’re all paying for some high-tech match-making system, we’re totally getting gypped.

 

Fortunately, the Man Panel offered encouragement.  Research was brought in to show that people do find partners online.  In fact, many of the panelists were dating on the Net because they had buddies who found their significant others there.  One panelist met his fiancé online.

 

So, what gets a gal a match?  Flattering photos, indicative of your personality and an accurate representation of the way you currently look.  No bikini shots unless you’re looking for a booty call.  No pics of you holding a martini unless you’re looking for a twelve-step program.

 

Dig into the essence of who you are, advised the panel, consider what fascinates you about the world, then find interesting ways to say it in a profile.  Avoid clichés, negativity and don’t bother apologizing for being online, i.e., “I hate these sites, but here goes…”  You’re there, darlin’.  Work it. 

 

But there was bad news, too.  According to panelist and online dating expert David Evans, not everyone out there is searching for long-term amour.  Twenty percent of people are even married or in relationships.  And yep, some dudes are only looking for sex.

 

Then there are the guys who juggle several women at a time.  One panelist confessed to creating a spreadsheet to keep track of his most desirable dates, which he categorized in descending order as As, Bs and Cs. 

 

Predictably, these discoveries had the audience in a bit of a tizzy.  But Sam Yagan, the CEO and founder of OkCupid.com, made a spectacular point.  The realities of dating online are the same when dating “offline.”  In both worlds, any guy could be a player or someone else’s husband.  In both worlds, you’ll meet dynamos and dullards, but you may also find a gem.  As Mr. As, Bs and Cs said, once you meet the A of your dreams, the Bs and Cs disappear. 

 

Though still a bit skeptical, I’m now more open to the prospect of dating online.  Maybe the Bruins fan has a kickin’ collection of indie films.  Maybe Paul Bunyan can teach me to ski. 

 

Meeting “the One” is like finding a needle in a haystack.  Dating online adds more hay, but it may also add a few more needles.  Really, it’s a crapshoot.  Like dating offline.  Like dating anywhere in the world.

 

Like life.

 

 

*Thanks to Sam Yagan at OkCupid.com and David Evans at onlinedatingpost.com.

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