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Archive for August, 2009

ElisabettaGeorge Clooney supposedly has a new girlfriend, an Italian actress/model who appears in skimpy bikinis in paparazzi photos.  Of course, she’s young and hotter than an Arizona summer.  And if you’re George Clooney or any famous fella, that’s exactly how you like it.

I’ve always had a thing for Clooney and alpha-males like him.  Dynamic, politically active (or at least aware) men with creative streaks and chiseled jaw lines drive me absolutely batty.

Thus, I can’t help but feel disappointed when these guys choose women who seem to offer little more than boobs, bums and gams.  Gorgeous George can’t seem to find anyone to bed except swimsuit models, soft-core porn actresses and cocktail waitresses.  True, I don’t know these women.  Perhaps they’re all secretly working on PhDs in molecular biology.  If so, you’d think George might want to clue us in on the fact.

Exceptional men have their pick of the ladies.  So, why do so many of them fail to choose women who match them?

I’ll admit it.  I’m green with envy.  I’m certainly no supermodel or porn actress (well, there was that one time…) but I’m not a dog and do have a mind.  However, I might give it up just to be hot enough to have access to a pool of exceptional men.  We commoners realize movie stars are out of our league, still it’s a bummer to watch smart men pass over smart and sexy women in favor of pretty dipshits.

So, I’m doing Clooney a favor.  I’ve found five stunningly gorgeous women who also have fantastic jobs, brains and talent.  George, I recommend giving one of these ladies a call.

Natalie Portman (Actress)

NatalieShe’s a Harvard grad, a master of the stage and screen and beautiful as a nymph from a Shakespeare play.  Any guy’s social stock would rise with Nat who counts thespian Javier Bardem and genius writer Jonathan Safran Foer as drinking buddies.  If you saw her rap on SNL, you know she also has a sense of humor.  Here’s a quote from Natalie: “To get a real deep, nuanced understanding of human behavior, art is the best way.”  Do Italian models use words like ‘nuanced?’  I think not.

Luciana Léon (Congresswoman, Peru)

LucianaHow ‘bout this, George?  A gorgeous, buxom, blonde…wait for it…politician.  And she’s from South America, we know how you dig foreign chicas.  Luciana was voted one of the most beautiful female politicians on the planet.  She’s from a center-left party which means she’s a good liberal like you.  Plus, she got in trouble for staying silent while her politician dad accepted bribes, which means she has a naughty side.  George, I can just imagine you salivating into your Armani necktie.

Alicia Keys (Musician)

Alicia While her peers shake their backsides singing about trifles, feisty Alicia dominates the stage with a piano and pair of pipes that blow her bootylicious competition into the audience.  She once said, “as artists we used to be way more instrumental in providing a soundtrack to the heartbeat of what’s going on in the world.  We all don’t have to think the same thing but it’s important to state what we think.”  See, George?  Girlfriend is deep.

Tamara Mellon (Entrepreneur)

TamaraTamara has that lanky, big-boobed brunette thing you seem to adore, but as the founder and president of Jimmy Choo, she has smarts, too.  She was ranked one of the richest women in Britain, which means she won’t be after your wallet.  Seems she dated Christian Slater, so she knows her way around the whole “Hollywood thing.”  Apparently though, she’s a conservative, but I’m sure you know how differing political opinions can set off fireworks in the boudoir.  George, I so like her for you.

Ghida Fakhry (Anchor, Al-Jazeera English)

GhidaGhida, an anchor on Al-Jazeera English, is so breathtakingly beautiful, she may just become my new female crush.  And Ghida has one of those soothing, smart-sounding journalist’s voices that will lull you to sleep over the phone when you’re on location.  As you’re trying to rub shoulders with global leaders and UN officials, wouldn’t it be better to have a woman on your arm who not only knows where Afghanistan is, but can spell it?

Bonus!!

HalleBeautiful, accomplished, with a body that won’t quit, Halle Berry could be a female Clooney; an Oscar winner, a producer of thought-provoking films and one of the most desirable stars ever to have graced the screen.  She’s already got a baby so won’t bother you for one (though you’ll have to woo her away from her man.)  The two of you could be Hollywood’s new power couple, a rival to Brangelina.  We’ll call you “Galle.”  Or, um, “Heorge.”

So, there you have it.  Six successful, brilliant and foxy ladies who I’m sure would be honored to accept an invitation from Hollywood’s sexiest leading man.

Good luck, George.  And no need to thank me.

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Couples therapyRecently, I met up with a couple old friends, a married woman and a single gal enjoying the fruits of a new romance.  I told them about all my turbulent relationships, joking about the slackers and bad boys, the commitment-phobes and jerky alpha-males who’d come into my life since we’d last seen each other.

“Oh, I’ve been there loads of times,” my married friend said after I described my most recent run-in with a sexy, relationship-shy stoner.

She’d been there loads of times?  Shocking.

Married women, especially once they’re moms, seem to me so organized and fulfilled, it’s hard to imagine any of these poised individuals knocking around with losers.  But once I thought about it, I remembered all the other married women I know who’ve admitted to the same sordid pasts.

My friend Sonya’s husband is a successful TV producer with a taste for fine wine, classical music, and most interestingly, fidelity.  But before she met him, Sonya was chasing after an egomaniacal actor who was two-timing her with a co-worker.  My friend Jane married a well-to-do marketing exec who’s the most loving, mild-mannered husband in human history.  Before him, she dated a series of flakes, most notably, a lunatic with an addiction to crystal meth.

The other intriguing comment from my married friend was in response to my single pal’s confession that she thought her new flame was “super nice,” but her “heart didn’t skip a beat” when he walked into a room.

“Never mind that,” my married friend said.  “The man you feel passionate about is not the one you should be with.”

So the good news is single women who constantly meet up with commitment-phobes and jerks can rest assured they’re not aberrations on the dating landscape.  Apparently, it’s normal to meet a bunch of meatballs before you find the good man you’ll call your own.

The other side of the story is how so many of my wifely friends admit these meatballs made their hearts go gaga and their loins lava hot.  On occasion, some of them even miss the beloved jerks who made them so loony, reminiscing about the roller coaster ride that added kick to life, the emotional depths they found themselves swimming through, and of course, the fantastic sex.  But these wives also seem glad to have been saved by their husbands.

Since the end of my marriage, probably ninety-five percent of the men I’ve dated fueled my engine, but were certainly not stars on which to hitch my wagon.  The “nice guys” who’ve entered my world always become friends while the not so nice become much more.  Maybe it’s because I’m a writer or because I bore easily and dig emotional extremes.  I’ve always preferred the roller coaster to the merry-go-round.

Of course, passion fades over time.  Unfortunately, even the most constant love can, too.  Both scenarios leave one numb.  So I’m wondering about this passion thing.  What is it anyway?

A skim through the dictionary will tell you passion is all about lust.  It also describes the most amorous love, the deepest hate and every overpowering emotion in between.  But the word comes from the story of Jesus, referring to the pain the man endured before he was nailed to the cross.

Thus, passion is really about suffering.  And, well, I’m tired of suffering in relationships and tired of deprivation.  You get to a point where the inner turmoil of loving a maniac loses its romantic sparkle and you want something that sticks.

Still, I am who I am, and I want to be as hot and bothered by a man, as I am comforted and contained.

Rather than finding someone who stirs my passion, maybe the point should be to find someone who has his own passion, so our two fires can fuse together and spark a volcano.  Rather than connecting myself to someone who lets me know through suffering how deeply I can love, the goal should be to find a person who doesn’t consider sharing and intimacy a death sentence.

A man can be a maverick without being a loser, and his intensity can be unwavering instead of chaotic.  He can be hot-blooded and also able to commit himself, self-assured without forgetting to be kind.  The challenge for a woman is to be emotionally ready for such a unique individual.

And be lucky enough to find him.

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Scary BirdA few years ago, I saw a BBC documentary about phobias in which an adult woman was being treated for her lifelong, incapacitating fear of birds.  Now, fear of heights, closed-in spaces, lawn mowers, I understand.  But who’s ever ended up in a hospital or morgue after suffering an aerial assault from a band of militant pigeons?  In Ohio where I grew up, flocks of geese were shot every spring because they crapped everywhere and ate berries out of old ladies’ gardens.  Not because of the frequency with which they were implicated in human maulings.

The doctor on the BBC show attempted to cure the woman’s bird phobia by forcing her to sit in the room with him while he placed a feather on the table beside her.  And not one of those colossal, menacing monstrosities of a tail feather from a peacock or even an ostrich.  The doctor put beside her a teeny feather that was so ridiculously small it had to have either been plucked from a baby bird or the underbelly of a duck.  Still, the woman writhed in her chair, limbs flailing, brow dripping with sweat, screaming, “make it stop,” as if two horses were strapped to either side of her body and preparing to run in opposite directions.

I couldn’t imagine how something so unthreatening could provoke such terror in a grown woman, just as it’s always been difficult to believe anyone could ever be “afraid” of something as harmless as love.

The documentary had me thinking about a relationship I was in at the time.  Mike and I saw each other off and on over the course of a year.  When things between us were light and frothy, we were “on.”  When things got too intense, we were definitely “off.”

Only years later when our relationship had long been kaput, did Mike admit how deeply he’d felt.  He blamed an icky childhood and rotten divorce for his tendency to spaz out around intimacy like a bird phobe surrounded by chickens.  I accepted his explanation, but never quite understood.

Until recently when I saw The Hurt Locker, a film about an American soldier who disarms bombs in Iraq.  The soldier lives every second of his life teetering on death’s slippery edge, surrounded by a dismal desert and relentlessly confronted by how cruel the human race can be.  The soldier has a beautiful wife and child back home, but he prefers to be in this war zone.

Talk about intimacy issues.

The last thing anyone should be contemplating during a film about war and catastrophe is how it relates to one’s love life.  However, there was a moment during the movie where I thought, this guy is like Mike and all the other dudes I’m usually into – über-masculine, rebellious and completely unavailable emotionally.  What a dream.

Of course, this was only a film.  But during the brief moment when I stopped thinking about war and catastrophe and thought of romance, I recognized the soldier’s inability to feel satisfied with the love he got from his woman or even his child.  Yep, I thought, there really are people who are cut off from their feelings.  Some people truly are incapable of love.  Some folks do fear it.

On the other hand, soldier boy was a bit of a wacko.  Thus, part two of the realization was that healthy people don’t turn away from love.  Healthy people aren’t afraid to relate.  They know how.  They let feelings flow.  They can handle it.

Love is challenging and always a risk, but it’s also the most fulfilling experience on offer.  Some might even say love is the reason we’re here.  Marriage and family may not be for everyone.  But love?  What kind of freak show wouldn’t want some of that?

I feel for anyone who’s had such a rough go of it, they can’t be open to healthy relating.  But for those of us who can, there seems to be only one thing to do when we come across these poor souls.

Make like a bird and fly away.

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ShopaholicThe world must really believe women are a bunch of nincompoops.  At least, everyone seems to enjoy implying we are.

This week, I discovered TWITS (Teenage Women In their Thirties), a new term for women who shun marriage and kids in favor of a social life and personal freedom.  Then Time posted a story about how the South Korean government in Seoul is painting parking spaces pink and repaving streets so high heels don’t get stuck in them, all in an effort to make working women happy.

Then I read a headline from Reuters declaring, “Crisis pushes men to therapy, women to handbags.”  The story suggested the economy is stopping men from buying luxury items like watches, while women are scampering through Louis Vuitton and Hermes boutiques like kids in the candy aisle at Walmart.

First off, who are these people who make up, what the article calls, the “luxury-loving professional class?”  Call me crazy, or just plain poor, but are folks who’ve been put in the position of having to choose whether or not to continue buying luxury items really the best example of typical Americans?

More importantly, why does the culture have to keep insinuating that most females long to live in a shoe-filled, boy-crazy, rose-colored Barbie Dream House?  From shoving crud like Confessions of a Shopaholic down our throats, to offering women pink parking spots instead of job opportunities, to warning thirtysomethings their biological clocks are about to burst then making fun of them when they cry about it, women seem to keep getting pushed into a mean-spirited La La Land.

And here’s the thing.  These are all single women.  Women who may or may not have chosen to be romantically unattached, but who strive toward personal fulfillment through work, interpersonal relationships and, yes, their buying power.  Just like dudes.  Yet every step of the way, they seem to be labeled maniacs and twits.  The culture doesn’t belittle Moms so strenuously, unless of course, they’re the kind of Moms You’d Like to F***.

Really, it’s all in the delivery.  The headline, “Crisis pushes men to therapy, women to handbags,” reaffirms everything that makes men roll their eyes about women:  ‘Here we are in the middle of the worst economic crisis of the modern age, and these dipshits are out buying pocketbooks.  How shallow, how frivolous.  How typical.’

Bizarrely, at no point in the article is there mention of men paying for therapy instead of watches.  The word ‘therapy’ doesn’t even come up in the piece.  One expert is quoted as saying some men are seeing life coaches, but I reckon just as many women are doing the same.  Thus, we can assume the headline was only created to provoke and keep women in the Dream House.  Perhaps next week, Reuters can tell us, “Men are strong, brilliant creatures uniquely capable of running the world, women love puppies.”

The Reuters piece suggests that because women don’t place the whole of their identity on work and status, they’re not as devastated by the financial crisis.  Men are not as used to dealing with change, says the article, unlike women who have better coping mechanisms.  While men are focusing on getting themselves out of the economic and emotional slump, women are occasionally “cheering themselves up with a treat.”

Wait a sec.  Basing one’s self-concept on things beyond career and social standing.  Being able to cope and care for yourself in times of crisis.  Those sound like good things.  Wow, ladies!  Yay, us!

I realize there are some women who would sell both sets of their grandparents for the latest Coach bag.  I don’t like those gals either.  And true, lots of dames like to have trendy clothes and to buy stuff instead of mope.

But doesn’t anyone imagine we also have bigger fish to fry?  Like figuring out how to enter and stay in job markets historically bereft of women?  How to share household and child-rearing responsibilities as wives, and how to maintain healthy relationships as girlfriends?  How to be assertive in the workplace and in our lives, without being labeled harpies?  How to keep our chins up in a life filled with as much joy and triumph as it is racked with crisis and failure?

Nah, we just want handbags.

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lipstickMathias was a German I dated in ’07 while he was on a break with his girlfriend.  I didn’t find out I’d been in break territory until a week ago, when I ran into Mathias and he told me he’d gotten back together with his fräulein for the fourth time in their ten year relationship.  Apparently, I was one of several women he’d strayed with.  Seemed his girlfriend occasionally drifted, too.   

But Mathias didn’t see these infidelities as evidence he was either a) in the wrong relationship or b) a no-good cheat.   

“The affairs are a good thing,” he told me.  “It makes our love stronger.” 

When I lived in Germany, I met both men and women who were involved in full-blown affairs with people in supposedly committed relationships with other folks.  Like Mathias, these committed individuals seemed utterly devoted to their partners, believing fully in the longevity of their relationships and doing everything in their power to maintain them…with the exception of remaining faithful.

Certainly, most people want loyalty from their lovers.  But generally speaking, there’s a lot less hoopla around infidelity in Europe.

Back in the States, of course, anyone who cheats we consider definitely not in love with his or her partner.  Any relationship riddled with affairs we assume completely lacks intimacy and is destined to fail.   

However, it seemed for some Europeans I met the opposite was true.  Plenty of the couples I saw together seemed to share an intimacy with their partners I watched with agonized longing.  The closeness European couples seem to have evidently comes from being together for ages, weathering storms and consequently knowing each other so fully that losing one another might be like losing a best friend, therapist and favorite blankie at the same time.   

But the cheating seemed to give these dynamic duos a peculiar kind of intimacy.  I envisioned tortured lovers extracting themselves from heated affairs, followed by sobby, beseeching confessions, passionate fights, unbearable separations and teary eyed reunions.  The guilt and ensuing protectiveness the cheater must feel toward the cheatee, and the cheatee’s wound which only the partner can heal, must be a quite torturous but strengthening seal.  The fact they’re both hurting and healing each other on a regular basis seems to add a brutal intensity to their bond, making it addictive, seeping with feeling and wholly impossible to sever.  For those who don’t admit their infidelities, the protectiveness may be a mark of devotion, as in the case of Mathias, who kept valiantly declaring it his duty to protect his girlfriend, needless to say, from himself. 

Going through that emotional upheaval and subsequent calm together time and time again, could undoubtedly be enough to keep two people psychologically conjoined for decades.  The jilted lover, or the sin of temptation itself, acts as the evil force against which the couple defend themselves, only bolstering them as an impenetrable whole. 

According to Mathias, cheating stirred his loins, allowing him to bring freshness to his “real” relationship.  It also acted as an agent of change keeping both he and his woman on their toes and preventing the relationship from getting stale.   

“Sleeping with you will do wonders for my relationship with my girlfriend,” Mathias once told a woman.  Unfortunately, he didn’t get her in the sack. 

Still I wonder if these Europeans are onto something.  With our constantly shifting lifestyles in a world of temptation and sexual liberation, is it more realistic to admit complete fidelity is unfeasible?  That boning other people and leaving a smidgeon of yourself with them, is nothing compared to the profound entanglement you can have with a partner for years?  Is it best to choose one person and deign to stay with them come Hell or high water?

There are many things I wish we could import from Europe.  Universal health coverage.  Artsy, melodramatic cinema.  Soccer.  But I dunno…maybe the “affairs” thing should stay across the pond.

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