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Posts Tagged ‘single women’

The girl sitting across from me on the subway was an exact replica of me at fourteen years old: chubby face, disobediently curly hair, a slim body struggling to develop and a slightly rowdy innocence that would one day cause some trouble. She looked so much like me I had to do a double take, convinced a miniaturized version of me was within arm’s reach.

I may have gone on without giving the matter much thought, except that there was something even more me-ish about the girl than her plump cheeks. She was pining away over a boy who apparently was giving her the run around. Moreover, she was testing the limits of friendship by giving the pal next to her every minute detail of their last conversation.

Me much?

The boy had told the girl to stop calling him. He didn’t want to talk to anyone right now. He wasn’t replying to any of her texts or returning her calls. Every so often, she’d call late, sometimes after midnight, and was surprised when he wasn’t home.

Fourteen-Year-Old Me was confused. Older Me knew there were only a few causes for such behavior and they all revolved around other girls, lack of interest and overall jerkiness.

“He says he can’t handle a relationship right now,” the girl told her friend. “He’s worried about his mom and he has to get a job.”

The girl lifted her chest and proudly said, “And I was like, ‘you expect me to wait for you?’”

Older Me hoped either the guy fell to her feet in tears or she gave him the grand heave ho.

“’He told me, ‘no.’ So I asked, ‘do you want me to?’”

It took everything in me not to take the girl by the shoulders and shake her senseless. “Get some strength in those knees and stiffen that spine. You cave to this creep and you’ve got years of male crap to put up with. Get out now!”

“Honestly, Mary, I don’t know,” the girl continued. “I was like, ‘I can be your girlfriend and support you through this.’”

No, you can’t, I thought, trying to use mental telepathy to communicate with her. You can’t because he doesn’t want you to. Or someone else is his support. Or he doesn’t have a problem, he’s just making up bull malarkey because he’s afraid to cut the cord.

“I was like, ‘I’ll be waiting for your call.’ He didn’t call me, so I called him.”

You just earned another year of lessons from the Relationship School from Hell.

“He was on the phone with his cousin.”

Yeah, right.

“He kept crying and crying and I was like, ‘I’m right here for you.’”

Man, was this girl tugging at my heart strings. How many times have I begged some big wounded boy to let me love him? In fact, nearly every female I know has blubbered to me about some damaged soul who won’t let her heal his pain. Few things are as confusing to women as men who turn away love and support.

I wasn’t angry at the apple of Fourteen-Year-Old Me’s eye. Sure, guys like him can be selfish and plain mean. But they’re just snot-nosed little boys and it’s up to the women who adore them to cut their losses when the writing’s on the wall.

Unfortunately, it can take decades before a woman learns to stop hanging on to dead end love. I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me, but will confess to making tons of stupid decisions, dating scads of nincompoops and coming face to face with lots of not so pretty truths about my own inner workings. Most importantly, it took the real love of a couple good men to show me true connection isn’t something you have to beg someone to share with you.

I wanted to tell Fourteen-Year-Old Me to let this cad go and avoid love she has to wrestle to the ground. Spare her the agony of heartbreak or an on/off affair with someone who only kinda likes her. But like every hard lesson, you’ve got to learn it on your own.

All I could do was give her a smile that said, ‘you’ve got a long, hard journey ahead. But you’ll get there.’

She probably didn’t grasp my message. But maybe she will in twenty years, when her own Mini Me sits across from her on a train.

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I have a friend, we’ll call him Buster, who’s in a marriage most people might refer to as “shitty.”  He’s got the bitter wife, the resentful kid, the budding alcohol problem, whole nine yards.   Buster caters to his woman’s every wacky whim and exhausts himself trying to put himself in her dainty shoes to empathize and bridge the divide.  For Buster, saving his marriage has become a second job.

Those of us who are his friends have mostly been in the “dude, cut your losses” camp.  When a good pal finds more comfort in Jose Cuervo than his wife, not a lot of folks pitch their tent at Camp Hang in There.

The recurring sentiment amongst Buster’s pals when we sit around talking about him is that he’s staying in the marriage because he doesn’t want to be alone.  Apparently nothing is more offensive to the average American than someone else’s fear of being alone.  I know lots of unhappy couples whose inner circle whispers about how their pansy asses stay together just to avoid ending up solo.  As if remaining single is a courageous act on par with traversing the surface of the moon.

However, I think I’m abandoning Camp Cut Your Losses.

Ever been alone for longer than, say, two years?  I have and I can tell you.  It blows.  No one wants to be alone.  What person prefers sleeping in a cold bed to snuggling up against a warm body?  Isn’t talking to your best friend better than talking to yourself?  Doesn’t life feel more consequential when someone else is watching you live it?  Knowing your mere existence plops another human being onto cloud nine?  That’s pretty rad.  And who wants to be on his death bed with some nurse he’s never met holding his hand as he transitions to the sweet hereafter?  I can’t think of a better incentive to work your tail off in relationships than to avoid being alone.

What are ugly are those relationships where folks have stopped trying.  Dead romances where people who used to love each other go through the motions of loving like state employees nearing retirement.  Should those people bail or just start noticing each other again?

Certainly, some circumstances call for hightailing it out of a relationship.  Like if your partner comes to you one day saying, “Wowza!  Two free tickets to the next Tea Party rally!”  Walk away.  This can’t be salvaged.  Otherwise, maybe put in the time.

Buster has a family and a woman who has known him for ages.  These are the building blocks for the one thing everyone wants most in life: forever.  Buster wants to grow old with someone and have his kids at his bedside when he kicks it.  He wants a satisfying relationship and contented family, and so will do what he must to make it happen.  He may also love his wife even if the rest of us think she’s Cruella DeVille.

There may come a time when Buster’s marriage should officially be pronounced dead and both parties should save themselves from being buried with it.  Until then, ain’t no shame in working toward forever.

[Photo of this completely awesome panda from rootsgpk.blogspot.com]

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Women can fake orgasms.  Men can fake entire relationships.

This juicy tidbit marking the romantic distinction between males and females recently made its way onto my Twitter feed.  Enjoying a brief chuckle after reading it, I soon realized how closely this alleged truth hits home: my friend Jay is in a fake relationship and I’ve been wondering if I should tell the girl.

Jay is one of those good-looking, charismatic fellas who rarely have trouble finding a female companion.  A decade ago, he was madly in love with a special lady who dumped him after his ego decided to feed itself by convincing him to cheat.  Since then, Jay has steered clear of anything “too heavy,” opting instead for casual relationships with dippy bores or overly controlling kooks whose mania gives him the perfect excuse to jump ship.

But every so often, Jay wants someone to care enough to check in on him each day, someone for whom he can make elaborate dinners and buy gifts, someone to offer him regular sex and hold him in the middle of the night.  And so, Jay gets a “girlfriend.”

There was the pretty actress with whom he spent every weekend for nearly six months and the slightly neurotic realtor with whom he went on a Roman vacation.  Both of these women were mighty surprised at the end of their relationships to find out Jay was never really feelin’ it even though his actions suggested otherwise.

Then there was the Latin American gal who flew herself back and forth to the States whenever Jay reemerged begging for her company.  The night I met up with them, I watched him walk hand-in-hand with her down the street, introduce her to his friends and fill her imagination with daydreams about a shared future.  Jay’s behavior offered the kinds of clues every silly women’s magazine might say is evidence a dude is thinking long term.  Obviously, the Latin American believed herself involved in a long-distance romance.  But in fact, she was one of a handful of women satellite-ing within Jay’s orbit.

My friend may be an extreme but he’s far from an exception.  I’ve known many guys who’ve gone through the romantic motions with women in an effort to avoid loneliness.  I even know a guy who stayed with a woman for five friggin’ years, knowing every single day there was no way in hell he’d ever marry the chick.

My gut tells me no woman would ever do such a thing and not for any noble reason, like sparing someone else’s feelings.  I just think most women are too gung ho on finding Prince Charming to waste time on a peasant.  And I can’t imagine any woman being able to turn off her emotions or even worse, pretending to feel something she doesn’t feel.  If you’ve ever seen a Sharon Stone movie, you know how to fake an orgasm.  But love?

So, Jay has started up again with the Latin American and is even considering giving in to her demands to be more exclusive.  From the beginning of this relationship, he has said, “I don’t love her and know I never will.”  Meanwhile, his girl is fantasizing about lifelong love, marriage and family.  So is Jay…with some other woman he hopes to meet one day.

I only met the gal for the second time over a group dinner, when she indirectly expressed doubts about Jay’s intentions.  She dropped hints about being open to any insight those of us who are his female friends may be able to provide.  Whenever I considered cueing her in, I remembered how perilous it is to place oneself in the center of a couple’s battlefield.

However, I also wonder if sometimes all it takes for a man like Jay to finally make a commitment is to force himself into one.  If certain men tell themselves they’re not in love in order to make sticking around seem less confining.  In the end, can fake love ever become true?

What say you?

[Photo from the film Lars and the Real Girl, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment]

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I love my mom.  But I think I’m going to have to cut her loose.  Apparently, she’s destroying my love life.

Lots of women have mothers who nag them about their figures, wonder aloud why their daughters haven’t found a decent fella or tsk disapprovingly about the way they raise their kids.  Not mine.  For the most part, my mother leaves me to my own devices.  Or so I thought.

According to a study by the University of Western Australia, the overt ways mothers try to influence their daughters’ personal lives don’t hold a candle to their more dire biological hand-me-downs.  Scientists studied the DNA of 150 college students and found “the more varied [her] genes…the more boyfriends a woman was likely to have,” the assumption being genetic variation leads to attraction.

The study was cited in an inspiring online article called “Still Single?  Not as Skinny as You’d Like?  Blame Your Mom.”  While few activities are more satisfying than condemning others for your own personal failures, the article is misleading, considering any person’s genetic makeup depends on a mother and a father.  Still, the theory is this: if your dumb mother mates with a man whose genes are too similar to hers, dudes aren’t gonna dig you.  Conversely, if she’s sharp enough to breed with someone from the other side of the genetic fence, well, attach a revolving door to your bedroom.

I’m no scientist, but this theory has lots of holes.  How does having more boyfriends necessarily ensure commitment and marriage?  I know at least five women from my high school who married, and are still married to, the guys who pinned carnations to their dresses at senior prom.  They’ve only had one “boyfriend” during their entire adult lives.  On the other hand, I know tons of women who’ve gone through men like Tiger goes through porn stars, yet still cry themselves to sleep each night because no guy presents a ring.

The study, or more accurately the article based on the study, suggests women with a melting pot for a genetic code should have men beating down their doors with marriage proposals.  But if you believe other stats, most marriages in the US are still made up of people from like backgrounds.  People may wade across the gene pool while dating, but unfortunately, they seem to go back to their side of the tank come settlin’ down time.

And here’s poor Jennifer Aniston again, the go-to girl in any discussion about women relationship-hunting men avoid like the plague.  The article uses her to prove its point that uninteresting genetics doom one to singledom.  But further research shows Aniston’s dad was of Greek heritage and her mother was Scottish and Spanish.  Thus, she should have lots of boyfriends.  And well, hasn’t she?  Why, come to think of it, she’s also had a husband.

Comparing oneself to Jennifer Aniston feels like romantic suicide, but admittedly, there are similarities between us.  I’ve got a genetic mix, too, with African, Italian, Irish, English and German blood coursing through my veins.  I suppose I should thank my mother for her procreative wisdom.  And, like Jen, I’ve had a marriage, and a handful of relationships intermingled with periods of romantic drought.  I’d say that’s par for the course for most people.  In fact, I’d say Jen and I have had fairly robust romantic lives thus far.  Is this because of or in spite of our blend of DNA?

I think universities and magazine writers just want to create controversy, so come up with flimsy facts and build worlds of truths around them.  I mean, I just disproved this DNA theory in seven hundred words.  Where’s my six-figure research stipend?

So many reasons are blamed for the state of our relationships: feminism, genetics, male psychological dysfunction, women in the work place, the advent of birth control, economics, education gaps.  It’s hard to accept we’re having so much trouble making relationships happen.  Love may be about scientific truths and social realities, but it’s also about luck and just following the natural course of life.  Ultimately, we’ve got to accept this, ignore the research and leave poor mom alone.

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Winter cramps my style.  All I want is to cover every inch of flesh to avoid the elements, which completely trumps being fashionable.  I see women in stylish canary yellow coats, in sexy stockings, in cutie-pie knit caps topped with tufts of yarn or those funky Russian jobs old guys wear to go hunting.  Despite the icy tundra surrounding us, these gals look like a million bucks.  

Meanwhile, I’m dressed in four layers of clothes beneath a down coat hanging to my knees.  I’m in a bulbous hat covering my entire head, a chunky scarf and boots heavy enough to pass military inspection.  Because of my shortness and round features, the look is far from flattering.  I could only describe my winter style as “igloo-esque.”  

The winter is my cocoon period, a season of reinvention in which I discover new ways to put myself into the world once I become a butterfly in spring.  Clothes may be the most superficial aspect of this rebirth, but certainly they’re the most fun.  Usually, I only get rid of old stuff from the closet or choose new words to describe my style.  Last year, I was going to be “funky,” the year before a bit more “boho.”  But 2010 feels different.  More transformative.  My next incarnation?  

I’m going to be an Italian woman.   

I was watching this foreign film about an Italian guy trying to extract himself from a relationship with one woman while sleeping with another.  The first time we meet the passionate Cloe, woman numero uno in the film, she’s sunbathing topless.  When her bully of a boyfriend comes round to demand she get ready for dinner, she yells something impassioned and Italian at him, like, “I cannot live like this, you are nothing but a worm!  I have no use for you.  This isn’t love, it’s brutalization!”  Cloe slips on a wrinkled, sheer blouse and ties her hair in a loose knot yet still manages to look absolutely stunning.  Then she and her man go to a restaurant where she continues to don the see-through top, proudly displaying her breasts to any other patron who dares to look in her direction.   

I’m totally gonna start doing that.    

Really, I’d been working Italy into my wardrobe for years, but lots of items have remained hidden in my closet since I’ve been back in the States.  In fact, much of the vivacious, voluptuous, hot-blooded textures Europe gave to my character have been subdued in an attempt to re-acclimate.  Undoubtedly, it would be kind of odd to go to the movies in a busty, Sophia Loren-type getup or disagree with a colleague at work by telling him, “Your cruelty seeps into me like poison.  You are a fool and you are dead to me.”   

Anyway, it’s more than getting bored with my wardrobe.  It’s about wanting to free a caged part of my soul.   

Part of my reason for coming back to the States was realizing I couldn’t spend a lifetime drinking sangria and writing stories in cafés with manic poets and directionless bums.  But why does the alternative have to be so humdrum?  One doesn’t have to be a wanderluster who moves half way across the globe to know the way we’ve constructed our worlds kinda stinks.  The passion is gone from our day to day.  The vast palette of color that enriches our lives has been drained by a fixation on success, or nowadays, survival.   

I want it back.  Maybe I don’t have to channel Italian women, move to the other side of the planet or even alter the life I’ve built for myself in the here and now.  Maybe I simply need to be adamant in not allowing my own passion to drain.  Let the thigh high stockings beneath my business suit be a silent rebellion.  Let the sound of my laughter reach socially unacceptable levels as a more explicit revolt.  Maybe next time someone bullies me, I’ll skip the Oprah-style courtesy and let him know he’s a worm who’s destroying my life.  I’ll take flamenco classes and mimic the languages I hear in foreign films and write stories raw enough to unsettle more emotionally detached sensibilities.  And I’ll keep falling madly, dangerously in love.  That is, once I get out of this dag-blasted parka.

 Man, I can’t wait for spring.

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I want to be a man.  If only so I can feel good about myself when reading magazines.  

I’m a smart, confident woman.  I subscribe to the Atlantic Monthly and Vanity Fair so I can stay abreast of liberal politics and sit in my “garden-level” apartment pretending to be an elitist, East Coast blueblood.  Lately though, I’ve been keeping up with women’s magazines for blog ideas.  And I gotta tell you, reading them makes you feel like dog doo. 

First are all those supermodels and actresses with their awesomely toned bodies, shiny hair and perfect skin.  Their photos are surrounded by tips on how we can achieve the look as if none of us have jobs or families to attend to.  Did you know Jennifer Aniston had two rice cakes and a teaspoon of peanut butter for breakfast?  When she wants to splurge, she eats bread.  Wild woman.  

Women have been kvetching about the impossible beauty standards set by ladies’ mags for ages.  But to me, the articles are the killers.  In the past month alone, I’ve found out my hair is unsexy (because it’s curly), stress may cause infertility and men’s midlife crises now start at thirty-five.  I read an advice column that screamed, “Help!  My Internet Boyfriend’s a Bisexual Cross Dresser” and another offering, “5 Signs You’re a Bad Co-Worker.”  And I thoroughly enjoyed reading the masterpiece, “Why I Stole My Best Friend’s Guy.”  As if skyrocketing unemployment and endless wars aren’t scary enough.  Now we have to fear our best gals mackin’ on our dudes.   

‘Course, in these mags, men are a bunch of selfish, untrustworthy hound dogs who either game-play their way into women’s undies or must be manipulated into relationships.  “Make Him Stay” and “Why Men Cheat” are constant titles, while the slew of articles meant to guide women through human relationships could be summed up by the headline, “Ten Things Women Do to Screw Up Their Relationships (and, basically, their lives…idiots).”  

The best article this week was a stunning piece of investigative journalism entitled, “Did You Know Your Vagina Can Fall Out of Your Body?”  Must be one of those secrets the medical industry keeps from us.  I can only imagine the conversations that’ll now take place across the nation: “You hear about Gwendolyn?  She was running to catch a bus and her vagina just popped right on out!”  

Ladies, we’re doomed.  If you believe women’s magazines, we’re all a bunch of horribly unfit, unlikable, deathly ill losers who no one will ever love.  And we can’t trust anyone.  Not men, not our friends and certainly not ourselves.  

Keeping oneself centered in the midst of life’s challenges is quite a feat, though usually I stay fairly balanced.  But now I find myself asking, “why don’t I look like an oiled-up Eva Mendes in my Calvin Klein skivvies?  Will the sunflower seeds I eat be linked to a healthier heart or leprosy?  And who really cares if stress causes sterility if your vagina’s gonna fall out anyway?”  

Ah, but men’s magazines.  What beacons of hope!  What tidings they bring of reassurance and good cheer!   

There’s Maxim, an orgiastic handbook of gadgets, cars, sports and half-naked starlets.  Maxim is like a guy’s frat brother urging him to have another beer (it won’t kill you), and offering tips on how to sneak out of the house or get his girl to shave everything “down there.”  

Then there’s Esquire.  I enjoy this one because their well-written articles treat readers as if they might have brains.  Tailored suits, expensive watches, fancy cars, high-end scotch and disrobing A-list actresses – Esquire’s world of men rocks.  No matter how chubby, boring or unsuccessful a guy is, reading it will make him believe he’s awesome.  They present cover boys like Matt Damon and Bill Clinton as buddies, and offer comforting words for men’s failings.  Romantic ineptitude, professional failure, erectile dysfunction – no worries, Esquire’s got your back. 

Reading the October issue, “The Feel Good Issue,” left me positively glowing.  Even before you open the darn thing, they’re already throwing roses at your feet.  The headlines on the cover offered readers the “Sexiest Woman Alive,” “Encouraging Words from President Clinton” and finished off with a “You Look Great, By the Way.”  Sure beats Shape’s, “Scary Truth about Germs.” 

Inside was a “Box of Permanent Joy,” which included ‘70s sitcoms and Mahler symphonies.  There was “A Guide to – and Celebration of – the Ablutions, Unguents, and Bathroom Rituals that Make Us Men.”  Wow, even their grooming practices are worth celebrating. 

Really, I love being a woman.  Though I love peeking into the world of men, I prefer taking on life as a female.  I only wish my magazines liked me as much as I like myself.

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strippersI didn’t want to be a stripper.

Really, I have no idea what I wanted from the exotic dance class I’d enrolled in at an adult education center.  I didn’t know whether the course catalog’s promise to help “create a full repertoire of floor-routine and chair moves you can use in enticing performances” was an achievable or even worthwhile goal.  But there I was in a leotard and stilettos, undulating my hips against an inert and perfectly innocent chair.

The first order of business on day one was to pick our stripper names.  The gaggle of married lady friends in matching pink leotards seemed to be in a geographical mood, seeing as how they chose names like Savannah, Sierra and Asia.  The mousy woman recently dumped by her boyfriend chose Sexy Sadie because it was her ex’s favorite Beatles song.  The pretty but uptight Indian woman apparently didn’t grasp the smutty aspect of the renaming process because she replaced her stripper-ready real name, Shiva, with Diane.  I went for Cinnamon, possibly the most clichéd stripper name in the history of the universe, but which impressed my classmates nonetheless.

Our second task was to learn the basics, namely, the sexy walk, grinding against a wall and “butt circles.”  Circling the hips whilst jutting the posterior outward is how one performs the indispensable “butt circle,” the centerpiece of any striptease worth its weight.  In fact, said our instructor, Candi Apple, the move makes up ninety percent of any performance and is always a good fallback during lulls.  When in doubt, do butt circles.  An apt piece of advice for much of life, no?

In the second class, I realized something most people don’t understand about the tease: it’s damn hard.  Easing your back onto the seat of a chair then spreading your legs in the air?  You can’t just do it, the move takes vast amounts of coordination.  Crawling across the floor like a lascivious feline?  Without hours of practice, you look like an out-of-control slinky.

Candi Apple wasn’t thrilled with my sexy walk.  The point was to strut to the beat of the music, but unlike the rest of the class, I was catching the backbeat, if you consider Pour Some Sugar on Me as having a backbeat.  Once the crappy ‘80s-era hair bands were replaced with Beyoncé, all hell broke loose in my hips.

“Don’t dance, Cinnamon,” Candi Apple shouted as I shimmied across the floor.  “Stop being funky!”

Certainly, there was something compelling about the whole scenario.  The gaggle of married gals seemed smack dab in the middle of a sexual renaissance, rediscovering their bodies after decades of matrimonial monotony.  Sexy Sadie had retrieved some confidence and the Indian woman had added some voluptuousness to her willowy charm.

Yet, something rubbed me the wrong way.  Stripteases are hot.  But if you’re counting steps and making sure your walk isn’t too funky, how much energy are you putting toward seduction?

Needing another pair of stilettos, I went into a store days later called Wet Seal, which anyone who’s been knows should really be called “Ho Clothes.”  Thigh-high patent leather boots and crotch-length mini skirts are only some of Wet Seal’s offerings to its core demographic of 15 to 25-year old girls.  At the register was a rack of Sour Patch Kids, Pixie Sticks and other candies for sale.  I wondered if anyone else was bothered by the fact that they’re selling red latex thongs to people who might also want to buy Pop Rocks.

I also wondered, since when was it cool to be a stripper?  As if they have fantastic lives.  We’re bombarded with stripper exercise videos and adult ed classes, while dippy celebs brag about the stripper poles in their bedrooms.  I’m just waiting for “hooker aerobics:” Lose weight without leaving your bed!

In class number three, I watched as the Married Gaggle, Sexy Sadie and Shiva/Diane performed a synchronized sexy walk across the studio.  They looked confident yet indistinguishable.  Like slutty Stepford wives.  I feared the legion of women who’d graduated from the class, seducing men across the city with the same walk, same shimmy, same butt circle.

I’m glad my classmates were gaining confidence, but strip class wasn’t for me.  I dropped after the third session.  I prefer to see how a body moves to its own natural rhythms, I like sexuality that comes from instinct.  Y’know, like how I’d rather see a lion in the wild than in a circus.

I don’t need a training manual for my body.  My name ain’t Cinnamon.  My hips catch the backbeat.  And the last thing I want to grind when I’m feelin’ frisky is a wall.

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