31 August 2002
When is it a date?

Many have puzzled over this question, but the answer has never quite been forthcoming.

Until now, maybe. I stumbled across this on a LiveJournal account — no permalinks, scroll down to 29 August at 9:54 am — and it seems as good a definition as any:

It's a simple definition of what constitutes a genuine date and how to distinguish it from two friends of the opposite sex hanging together. It's a date if both the man and woman have the genuine desire at some point to see the other naked. Doesn't mean a date has to end in sex or whatever that night. But both the man and woman use the dating process as a way of getting to know each other, get comfy, so eventually they can show each other their nipples.

And I need to remind you that both parties have to have nudity as an eventual end goal. I hang out with a lot of women I want to see naked but that doesn't make it a date.

(Boldface as in the original.)

The only issue I might raise is the possibility that men, at least of the straight persuasion, want to see damned near every woman they know to which they are not related in a state of déshabillé.

(Should this technically be déshabillée? My French is limited to the ordering of dressing and/or fries.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:20 PM)
8 September 2002
It took time for me to know

About the third lesson in Bloggage 101 is "Find someone who says what you want to say, only better, and put up a link." Well, I can't very well link to a 45 (or, for that matter, an LP), but with apologies to the appropriate copyright holder and to anyone else who might take umbrage, here is something said better than I could, said many years before I could, by a chap who calls himself Lobo:

You told yourself years ago
You'd never let your feelings show
The obligation that you made
For the title that they gave

Baby, I'd love you to want me
The way that I want you
The way that it should be
Baby, you'd love me to want you
The way that I want to
If you'd only let it be

Repeat and fade. (Which, of course, I will.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:32 PM)
29 September 2002
The number of the two-backed beast

Jan Haugland's Secular Blasphemy teeters on the brink of Too Much Information:

"All men who haven't had sex in the last six months or worse have a sign on their foreheads to that effect. That sign is only visible to women, but they can all see it. And they'll avoid you like the plague.

"Thus the saying 'you have to slay the dragon to get the pretty maiden.'

"You see, you have to find a not-so-attractive girl who, despite seeing the sign on your forehead like any other woman does, are equally desperate, because she hasn't had anything for six months either.

"This will successfully remove the sign on your forehead, and you will be ready for the pretty maiden."

Frankly, I think I'd have better luck with a big, floppy, um, hat.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:41 AM)
19 October 2002
When no one wants you

From The Journal of Doubt, 10 October (no permalinks, sorry), on the results, or lack thereof, of placing a personal ad on the Net:

I am still saddened by the fact the three women I really wanted off these personals did not find me interesting. Mainly I say this because the ideal man they described in the ads sounded much like me. It only goes to show that woman are a complete mystery to me and I will never understand their thinking as long as I live.

If any of you three are reading this, please explain to me what makes me such a loser in your eyes. I'd like to know. Why don't the women I like want me any more? I must be losing my charm, or somehow I have become hideous and unattractive and I am mentally blocking this fact.

Speaking as someone who has never had any charm to lose ("hideous" and "unattractive" are somewhat more debatable), I can say only that women as a group are indeed a complete mystery. But I believe, for some reason unknown, and in spite of an almost total lack of supporting evidence, that each and every one of them has a clearly-defined path to her heart, and when this road is not taken, it's more often than not because (1) we simply don't know where the hell to find it, or (2) it's not in her best interest to point it out. Sometimes both.

Of course, I can afford to act detached about this, since I in no way resemble anyone's ideal and therefore am not likely to disappoint on this basis.

The Doubter continues:

Since I was rejected by the only few women I liked out of the hundreds who had ads, I realize I'm probably not cut out for the personals dating world. God, I sound bitter, eh? Maybe the women who rejected me spotted a flaw in me that I am not seeing, or I refuse to believe is a flaw. Maybe my opinion of myself is way higher than the reality. Maybe I'm just not very attractive.

All I know is that I am going through the worst romantic drought of my life. I'm getting desperate.

I shudder to think how long this man's dry spell has been, and I shudder even more when I contemplate my own, which likely dwarfs it.

But admitting to desperation is absolutely the most useless thing to do under the circumstances. It does nothing to enhance the possibilities; in fact, since women can detect desperation at the parts-per-billion level, it's likely to make matters worse — assuming there exists a condition that can be described as "worse".

So what's the solution? If I knew, do you think I'd be home blogging on a Saturday night? I generally don't recommend giving up except in the direst of circumstances, but the only alternative is to fall back on cliché: "You don't find love. Love finds you."

The irritating thing about cliché, of course, is that too often it contains entirely too much truth.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:40 PM)
25 October 2002
The shock of recognition

Hard as it may be to believe, when I was younger I was actually even more clueless about all things romantic.

(Muchas gracias, sort of: The World Wide Rant.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:23 PM)
30 October 2002
It's what's up front that counts

The only way through this is to quote it directly:

A Japanese doctor is making a titillating claim: The size of a woman's breasts exposes her true character.

Dr. Mitsugu Shiga tells the Mainichi Daily News that extensive examinations of cleavage suggest that women's personalities fall into three boob types.

Flat-chested women like Debra Messing and Gwyneth Paltrow are quick thinkers but really aren't into sex except to please their man.

Meanwhile, Shiga says large-breasted ladies like Dolly Parton or Pam Anderson "have the sturdiness of an ox" and a positive attitude towards life.

But bigger isn't necessarily better.

Shiga says the perfect breast protrudes 2.16 inches from the chest and claims women blessed with these boobs are straightforward, sexy but sometimes go off "in their own little world."

As a practicing (well, actually, out of practice) leg man, I should pay no attention to this, but a few of these assertions demand a response.

In the first place, Pamela Anderson's bust size has gone up and down more than the Nasdaq, what with old implants being replaced by new implants and God knows what other sorts of tweaking going on; the only thing one can reasonably assume about Her Pamness is that she has a fairly high credit limit. (These things ain't cheap.)

And I suspect, based on having heard too many songs and having once read her autobiography, that Dolly Parton would have essentially the same personality if she had a B-cup.

Gwyneth's and Debra's sexual proclivities are unknown to me, and probably to Dr Shiga as well, but I assume their names were thrown in for, um, balance.

My own experience in this realm is too limited to be statistically significant — additional research is, alas, extremely unlikely — but I tend to believe that women generally would benefit more from stuffing their brains than from stuffing their bras.

Now if Dr Shiga wants to extrapolate about the male half of the species based on, say, penis length, well, that's a tale for another time.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:27 AM)
31 October 2002
Gently, with a chainsaw

Jonathan Owiecki, literally on the edge of seventeen:

Dear Diary,

Today, I had sex. And by "had sex" I mean "watched Heathers".

Been there, saw that. [sigh]

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:16 PM)
21 November 2002
Blame it on the Casanova

Susanna Cornett is not one to mince words, anyway:

If a man goes Lothario on me, I'm likely to go Lorena on him.

I could argue, I suppose, that "that's not my style," but that would imply that I actually have a style.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:40 PM)
4 December 2002
Bookish

Spark is not happy with the unsolicited assessment she received:

Today, the garage attendant said to me, "If there's a movie with a librarian in it, I'll recommend you."

I asked, "Why?"

"Because you remind me of one."

And apparently this is not something to which she aspires:

Have you ever heard of a sexy librarian? Here I thought I had the sex-kitten-trapped-in-an-intellectual's-body thing going on, and all the time I just look like a goddamn librarian.

What better place to trap a sex kitten inside the body of an intellectual than at the Reference Desk?

Lloyd Dobler would understand.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:31 AM)
14 December 2002
One of those days (Part 1)

For a Saturday the 14th, today definitely seemed more like Friday the 13th.

Quite apart from the fact that I go into a coughing fit every time I assume a horizontal position, I was downright weepy most of the morning, though I attribute this to unlucky programming of the background music. Imagine this block of four in sequence on your local oldies station:

"Past, Present and Future" - The Shangri-Las

"Ask the Lonely" - The Four Tops

"The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" - The Walker Brothers

"Save It For Me" - The Four Seasons

From back to front, hope, dashed hope, permanently dashed hope, and paranoia. Curiously, the Walkers track started out as a Frankie Valli solo effort, which inexplicably flopped; in some almost-but-not-exactly-parallel universe, this set might have ended with a Four Seasons twin-spin.

The real killer here is "Past, Present and Future", which contains this truly twisted text (it's not really a lyric, since it's not sung):

Was I ever in love? I called it love. There were moments when...well, there were moments when.

Beyond that, deponent saith not.

The real fun to come, however, was in cyberspace.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:24 PM)
27 December 2002
Something blue

The next office over has a couple of Authentic Beauties. I, of course, strive to avoid them, simply as a matter of maintaining equilibrium; I'll toss out an occasional flip remark, but it never goes beyond that.

Yesterday, one of them (the younger) was sporting an engagement ring. "It's about time," I said. Certainly she thought so; they'd been dating seemingly forever.

And for some reason, this stung me, and I can't come up with any justification for it. I'd never even considered her as a potential companion — she's gorgeous, and she's fairly bright, but she's half my age (more or less literally) and we wouldn't have a whole lot to talk about — so it shouldn't matter if she goes into the Permanently Unavailable file. Yet somehow I mourn, even as I wish her great heaping gobs of happiness, and I mutter deep, dark curses against the person who causes me all this heartbreak.

Which is, of course, myself.

(10:20 am: Modified slightly to increase vagueness.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:11 AM)
2 January 2003
A few good men

Sometimes I schedule a book for future reading on the basis of the title, and the title doesn't have to resonate positively, either; Barbara Dafoe Whitehead's Why There Are No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman, a title I would love to hate on general principle, will simply have to be read.

In the meantime, the author has been interviewed for Atlantic Unbound, and some of her observations did strike me at, um, interesting angles.

Several women mentioned that at times in their life they felt that their intelligence or intellectual achievement seemed to work against them in their romantic relationships with men, but most women felt that there were some men "out there" who would be attracted to smart women. The problem was finding them.

The inference, as I see it: all else being equal, we guys would prefer to be the brains of the operation. This is certainly true of some of us; historically, I have often been drawn to women of greater intelligence than mine, but there's always that nagging thought in the back of my mind: "If she's that smart, what in the world would she want with the likes of me?" The author does in fact touch upon this phenomenon; asked if some men felt they "were being spurned because they aren't impressive enough", she replied:

[S]ome men did, yes, but they tended not to be four-year college graduates. They were guys who were not quite so well-educated and felt that many women looked down on them.

I think there's more to it than that — I don't think I'd be any more desirable (or, more precisely, any less undesirable) with a sheaf of postgraduate degrees — but frankly, what would a plumber have to say to an art historian? Or, for that matter, what would an art historian have to say to a plumber?

[T]he standard for someone who you'd want to spend your life with hinges much more today on emotional intimacy. It takes some trial and error and a pretty prolonged and dedicated search to identify the kind of person who is emotionally in sync with you and who is able to communicate and listen to trouble talk.

And when there is a perceived socioeconomic gulf, the ability to communicate becomes even more critical; the lack of common experience means that more often than not they'll be scratching around for conversational topics. According to the standard stereotype, men don't really want to talk about things, and maybe there's some truth to that, but the man who can't talk, I suspect, is no real improvement over the man who won't talk.

Women, I have always believed, have a Mate Template of sorts, and whether a man has any chance with her depends on how closely he conforms to the standards she has proposed. Some points are more negotiable than others, and perhaps some won't budge in the slightest, but ultimately, what determines the course of the relationship is how much she's willing to compromise on that template. (Men's selectivity is somewhat less linear, I think.) I don't want to get all Mick Jaggery here, but he was right: you can't always get what you want. Still, some do seem to get what they need.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:27 AM)
9 January 2003
Man smart, woman smarter

Meryl Yourish's take on my "A few good men" piece:

[O]nce the initial lust is gone, and you realize you have to literally define your words to the guy you're dating, the relationship generally just ends.

This does work both ways; of course, it could simply be that I hate having to explain myself. And while I'm no Einstein (not even Bob Einstein), I'm not quite as dumb as I seem.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:55 AM)
12 January 2003
Wed-letter days

There exists as a legal construct in some parts of the country something called "covenant marriage", designed by churchly types to be harder to get out of than the standard variety. (In Oklahoma, this is not a particularly difficult task, as the laws here are flexible, even bendy; I have yet to see anyone claiming, say, "watching too damn much football" as grounds for divorce, but it seems to fall within the guidelines.)

Yesterday a clergyman, having read the piece I wrote on it — or maybe not having read it, given its slightly-jaundiced tone — wrote me and thanked me for this bit of outreach, and suggested a link back to his own ministry, for the greater glory of the Lord and all that. There are times when someone else's earnestness outweighs my snarkiness, and this was one of them, so I duly tacked on a new paragraph.

Besides, given my tendency to look for connections where none likely exist, this weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the one time I took this particular step, a step for which I was poorly prepared and which led to some serious backpedaling not too many years later, and while I'm not arguing that what goes around comes around, certainly what goes around leaves little reminders of where it's been.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:59 AM)
16 January 2003
Dream a little dream of greed

On general principle, I refuse to watch things like Joe Millionaire.

What principle, you ask? I did time in pre-AOL chat rooms in the Eighties, and even then, the dating/mating ritual was seventy to eighty percent artifice, and most of the balance actual fraud. And back then, only the best and the brightest (well, and me) would be willing to spend a week's pay every month to observe this phenomenon.

So these days, I have to rely on other people's takedowns of these tawdry telespectacles, and fortunately, The American Prospect's Noy Thrupkaew is on hand to point out how Joe Millionaire is like lobbing a rock into a tree full of howler monkeys. Thrupkaew's most illuminating observation:

It's a bit horrifying, the way many of the women fight to be chosen by someone they don't even know. He's like a prince, they keep whispering, as they try to elbow their way into a fairy tale. Pick me, love me! I haven't seen such strenuous preening since I watched a dog show.

Gad, I hope Greg Hlatky doesn't see this.

(Via Hit & Run)

Update, 9:45 am: Monty Ashley at TeeVee tosses in this perspective:

I think I've figured out what really bothers me about it. The gimmick that the so-called millionaire really only makes $19,000 a year is phrased to suggest that therefore, he doesn't deserve love.

Does this mean I'm only half as undeserving?

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:14 AM)
28 January 2003
Standing in the shadows of lust

Donna filed this under "Been there, done that":

It is Sunday night and I am bored. That explains why I went on Match.com and looked up the losers who corresponded with me last Summer and then dropped me faster than a hot potato after one measly date. Can you believe most of them are still there!?! Certainly makes me feel better.... as if the onus is not on me. Online dating was a pulverizing experience and I am glad I threw in the towel-- Never Again! Although, I do get a sick thrill out of perusing Match.com just to see how many desperate, single men are out there.

Oh? How many?

Never mind. Don't answer that. Our numbers are legion and our dance cards are empty, and some of us should be left on our side in the dark until we mature.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 AM)
Birds/Bees 101

Pretty much the entire dating cycle is beyond my comprehension, so I am always interested in other people's methods, especially when they're less unsuccessful than mine.

On the other hand, this technique of Dawn Olsen's seems awfully familiar somehow:

My idea of dating has always been to zero in on my subject and then confuse them with a befuddling mix of flattery and abuse.

On the basis of the available evidence, I surmise that she is more efficient than I.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:07 PM)
2 February 2003
God is an iron

And an example of the irony committed: I come up as #4 in Google for "women will desire you".

Sounds like #2 to me.

(Apologies to any Spider Robinson fans.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:04 PM)
10 February 2003
14th nervous breakdown

Thus spake Bitter Hag:

Surely I'm not the only one out there who hates February 14th with my whole being.

I can assure her, and you, that she's not.

And if there's some vast quantity of pent-up resentment, well, so much the better. The Hag wants to hear your story. And there will be a prize for the most bitter, or least repentant, or whatever criteria she chooses.

You've got until midnight (Pacific time; you slackers on the East Coast can slide until 3 am) on the 12th, so get with it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:32 AM)
11 February 2003
When it's meant to be

Okay, maybe I'm somewhere between giddy and delirious, but I dearly love stuff like this:

Sarah and I had a lot in common. We were around the same age. We liked all the same bands (more importantly, we hated the same bands). We'd both worked extensively in publishing. She had a PhD in English; I spoke English.

Just one minor obstacle. After striving for all his life to get out of a 1.5-horse town like Seguin, Texas, he'd finally made it to New York City. She, however, lived in one of those 1.5-horse towns: Seguin, Texas.

You should probably read about it now, before it turns into a movie with Reese Witherspoon.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:19 PM)
13 February 2003
The D word

I am speaking, of course, of what Tammy Wynette referred to as D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

No, I'm not contemplating one; after having gone through the process in 1987, I have no marriage to undo. But I've always found the concept a bit disquieting, an uncomfortable reminder that the best of intentions will not always guarantee the best possible results. And seeking some connection between theory and real life, I looked at my own parents, who were wed on this date in 1953. My mother died in 1977; had she lived, they would be celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Or would they? Is it possible that somewhere along the line, after five children and however many harsh words, they might have decided that enough was enough?

If the topic was ever discussed, it certainly wasn't discussed in front of me. And I tend to doubt that anything was in the works in 1976 when she took ill, what with a nine-year-old still in the household. (Feel free to point out that in 1987, my younger child was six, and there had been a separation prior to that.) But for the life of me, I can't think of anything holding them together except the five of us: I may be wrong — it wouldn't be the first time by any means — but it always seemed to me that within two hours of the last child moving out, they'd put the house up for sale and head in opposite directions.

Second marriages, they say, are often better. After the standard Decent Interval following Mom's funeral, Dad married a co-worker, and theirs (she was also previously wed) might be; while there were certainly some rocky periods along the way, there's less of a sensation that there are burning issues being suppressed, and by now it's lasted two decades and more. My ex-wife's probably wasn't; while the chap in question was a bit more exciting to be with (and how difficult is that?), he had far too much fondness for the Peruvian marching powder to suit her.

Still, one doesn't get to a second marriage without going through a first. And with the hated Valentine's Day looming, I wonder about this mysterious force that works to bring together people who seemingly shouldn't even be speaking to one another, let alone making a vow to remain together for always.

But that, I suppose, is an entirely-different word.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:55 AM)
14 February 2003
When you walk in the room

Jackie DeShannon says it so much better than I:

I close my eyes for a second and pretend it's me you want
Meanwhile I try to act so nonchalant
I see a summer night with a magic moon
Every time that you walk in the room

Cue the guitars playing lovely tunes....

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:55 AM)
15 February 2003
Have a heart

Apparently I was wrong: it is possible to defend Valentine's Day. (No permalinks: scroll to 2/14/2003 12:15:41 AM.)

And there's one point I've made before, though in a decidedly less upbeat manner. Quoth Jonathan:

Being more romantic one day hardly means you'll end up being less the other three hundred and sixty-four. If anything, the opposite is true.

Contrast and compare to this bit from Vent #136, four years ago:

If I am fortunate enough to find someone to love — and, even less likely, to find someone to love me — shouldn't I want to celebrate it every day?

(No, I didn't enter Bitter Hag's contest. Why do you ask?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:11 PM)
23 February 2003
Time compression factor 1440:1

At first, Donna reports, she was disappointed, but finally it dawned on her:

[T]hen I realized how unnecessary it is for me to see a movie called How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days since I can lose one in 10 minutes.

Maybe that should be the sequel. (I can see the ads now: "Got a couple of hours? Lose a dozen guys!")

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:23 PM)
12 March 2003
It could happen to you

Well, not to me, anyway, but I still believe in all that hearts-and-flowers stuff.

And here's another reason why.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:11 PM)
5 April 2003
A fortress deep and mighty

At JoniElectric, the statement that many of us would like to make but comparatively few of us have dared:

I'm on the computer because I wish to avoid human interaction.

Geez, if only they'd had these things at the start of the Eisenhower administration.

Actually, during the last two World Tours, I did manage to do the in-person meet/greet thing in a few instances, and I was startlingly successful (translation: there were moments when I didn't look like a complete idiot). I might do it again for WT '03 if circumstances permit. But absent a truly cataclysmic lifestyle change (translation: none of your business), I'd just as soon be left alone the other 49 weeks of the year.

(Muchas gracias: Venomous Kate, by way of — no, I've already used that joke.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:36 PM)
9 April 2003
"Hummer" is a trademark of GM Corp.

Please tell me this isn't catching on.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 AM)
16 April 2003
Not one bodice ripped

Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl. I don't know what percentage of literature follows this basic pattern, but it's got to be considerable; writer-director Preston Sturges, in the Forties film The Palm Beach Story, sums up all this arcane man/woman stuff as "Topic A", and he wasn't exaggerating a bit.

If you tell the tale from her point of view, you inevitably end up with something called the Romance Novel, a genre of fiction scorned by readers of lad mags and embraced by women (and a few men) for whom this simplest of stories neatly splits the difference between fantasy and fact. Susanna Cornett, a respected fantasy figure in her own right, has done, shall we say, lots of research in this area:

I have, in my life, read literally thousands of romances, and I still get breathless over a hunky Aussie rancher.

Said rancher is an archetype: if you seek to win her heart, a resemblance to him is a definite plus. And truth be told, I'm not exactly immune to this sort of thing myself.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:35 PM)
4 May 2003
After the fact

I found this at a friend's LiveJournal; LJ eschews such things as permalinks, so if you want to read the whole thing, you need to scroll to 27 April, 7:26 pm. Before you ask: no, it's not about me.

I went to your blog today. I know I said I wouldn't but I did. I know you have your web stats to tell you that it was me. So sue me. I still wonder about you after all this time. I suppose if I had handled things differently we could have remained friends. Funny thing that, though. I have yet to discover the method that lets me remain a friend when I was once a loved one.

There's a noble (as distinguished from Nobel) prize for the person who does make this discovery.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:58 PM)
9 May 2003
Art imitates life

I just hate it when it imitates mine.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:37 PM)
11 May 2003
Birds/Bees 101 (revisited)

Something I posted at the end of January:

Pretty much the entire dating cycle is beyond my comprehension, so I am always interested in other people's methods, especially when they're less unsuccessful than mine.

On the other hand, this technique of Dawn Olsen's seems awfully familiar somehow:

My idea of dating has always been to zero in on my subject and then confuse them with a befuddling mix of flattery and abuse.

Now comes this from Donna:

I will try Speed Dating again next month. And I will really try not to be so verbally combatant with the fellows. Analyzing it, I think I may purposely alienate potential matches, so they don't get the chance to reject me later.

When even the Major Babes feel like they're getting nowhere, those of us on the fringes of date-ability must surely be doomed.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:44 AM)
Demi, or not Demi?

The erstwhile Mrs Willis isn't entirely devoid of appeal, I suppose, but I tend to fall on the "not" side of this question, inasmuch as I have a near-allergic reaction to some plastics.

The former manager of her Idaho ranch wasn't interested, either, and he claims she fired him for his lack of interest.

Donna? Dawn? Anyone? Does this seem plausible to you?

(Muchas gracias: Phillip Coons, who so far has kept discreetly silent.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:30 PM)
13 May 2003
No experience required

I thought I was picky, but get a whiff of this:

Age-wise, my lady should be between 27 and 35. She has to be located in West Los Angeles, even Manhattan Beach is fine. I'm sure the maple sugar farms in Vermont are very beautiful, but I'm staying right here, thank you. My lady absolutely, positively does not want kids, and needless to say she doesn't have any. She has to like cats, she doesn't have allergies, and she has to be naturally healthy.

These days, someone who doesn't have allergies might well be described as unnaturally healthy.

(West L.A. or Manhattan Beach? Marina del Rey is out?)

[S]he's 6 foot 3, and I'm a sucker for brown-eyed blondes with long hair. But red hair, brunets, and blue eyes are OK too. Here's where it gets interesting... my ideal lady has a nice sleek, flat little chest and a nicely rounded little poochy tummy! She is not skinny, she has long legs, and she likes to wear shoes that let her feet stand nice and flat on the ground the way nature intended. She doesn't wear jewelry or makeup, and she doesn't vandalize her body with tattoos.

Six foot three? In flats?

Then again, that would almost certainly guarantee long legs.

Last and most important, my ideal lady MUST be left handed, left handed, left handed!!! (This is the special request all the matchmakers refused to handle.) I'm not sure if this is a birds-of-a-feather thing or out-and-out fetish, but I just don't have any chemistry with right handed women because they don't know what it's like.

I'd say this guy has narrowed the field more than he can possibly imagine — and I've quoted less than half his laundry list. (Besides, if I brought this up, all of you would bust out laughing.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:11 PM)
14 May 2003
Singular, but no sensation

After the dispiriting experience described in "No experience required", I was ready for some good news, and needless to say, I didn't get it.

There exists something called the Soulmate Calculator, which will "calculate the number of American singles you must meet to find your soulmate." This being a Microsoft Active Server Page, I figured it probably would fail on dividing by transfinites, but I went ahead and plugged in some data anyway. Since I have a marked tendency to fall for women who are geographically unacceptable, I chose to limit the pickings to this general area; otherwise, I tried to be as unpicky as I could without making a mockery of it all, specifying a height range of four foot nine to six foot one (this would eliminate the lovely and talented Jane Galt, but she doesn't live around here anyway), ages 33 to 55, no preference on ethnicity or relationship status, and indicating a preference for some form of Christianity, on the dubious basis that leaving it blank would not expand the local field substantially.

There are fourteen characteristics which may be specified in percentile terms; on only three (emotional intelligence, compassion and humor) did I request higher than the median.

And after the server digested all this, it tossed out the following statistics:

  • My probability coefficient is 0.0080751 and a bunch more digits; I will need to meet 1,238 women to find The One.
  • I might have to move.

Gee, thanks.

Fortunately, I'm quite accustomed to desperation, or I might be tempted by something like this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:05 PM)
18 June 2003
Geographically acceptable

I reprint this NCBuy item (via Fark) without comment:

NEW YORK (Wireless Flash) — The Beach Boys may have wished they all could be "California Girls," but most American men prefer Southern belles.

According to a new survey by Harlequin romance, 30 percent of American men have the hots for girls from the south and 23 percent prefer east coast gals.

By comparison, west coast women only garner 14 percent, while the Midwest farmers' daughters attract 19 percent of guys.

Finally, only 6 percent of American men think women from the mountain states are sexy.



Permalink to this item (posted at 1:26 AM)
28 June 2003
Vindicating Van Halen

Was I sleeping all those years? I don't remember anything quite like Philly's Hottest Teachers.

Obligatory Up the Down Staircase reference: I am sure that were I to write a love letter to an English teacher (see text for contestant #21), it would be returned graded.

(Via Vincent Ferrari's Insignificant Thoughts: he doesn't remember teachers like this either.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:39 PM)
6 July 2003
Coming attractions

It has now begun to sink in at the office and among family members that yes, I'm hitting the road for three weeks, and yes, I have a number of prescribed stops along the way.

And someone inevitably asks, "Got a hot date, huh?"

Long and arduous practice has made it possible to stretch "Oh, puh-LEEZ" into six, even eight seconds, but the question persists regardless of the scorn quotient exhibited.

I'm toying with a Mellencampy "No, and what if I did?" as an alternate response, mainly because I hate the prospect of having to explain "Basically, I fear that underneath it all I'm just a fribbler at heart."

One never, ever admits to fear.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:32 PM)
It's worse than that

No, the next line isn't "He's dead, Jim," but thank you for playing.

What's worrisome here is the potential death of a cliché.

It has long been said that what a woman really wants from a man, even more than sixpack abs and a handful of platinum cards and [this item deleted in a desperate attempt to appear tasteful], is a sense of humor.

Now Frank J. of IMAO is to humor what Jim Traficant is to bad hairpieces. And yet here's Frank, trying to get a date.

What's wrong with this picture? And if, heaven forbid, Frank should fail, what chance have the rest of us?

I'm going to bed. This is too much to take.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:50 PM)
12 July 2003
Knees together

Virginity has never done a thing for me, so to speak; while a case can be made that too many people are having sex too early, you'll never convince me that I derived any benefit from waiting until I was [actual age suppressed due to acute embarrassment].

Still, I'm not quite ready to embrace Mark Morford's call for lubricity:

We have no true sexual role models in this nation. We have no delicious icons of healthy vice and open-thighed attitude and responsible divine lust and intelligent sexuality to thwart the bitter ass-clenched proto-Christian conservative agenda. Nina Hartley needs a national TV show. This is all I'm saying. But that's another column.

What we do have, however, is a BushCo that actually has the appalling gall to set aside $135 mil to force kids to learn all about the joys of repressing all sexual desire and bliss and bodily exploration and sensual spiritual power in favor of abstinence until they get married and then half of them get divorced because they were so goddamn lousy in bed.

I hasten to point out that this is not why I got divorced. (And even in Oklahoma, it's possible to obtain Nina Hartley videos.)

But do we really need national sexual role models? Do we need any kind of national sexual policy at all? Should there be a Cabinet-level Department of Screwing? (And will the IRS move out of Treasury when there is?) The less the Feds have to say about the subject, the better I like it, even if Morford is correct about our level of dissemblage:

We are perplexed. We are hypocritical and hilarious and two faced and upside down back-asswards. We are confounded and ridiculous and hypocritical and shy. Europeans laugh at us. We are terrified of our sexuality and horrified and/or weirdly shocked when presidents do it or teenagers do it or anyone at all does it unless it's us and then it's a fun little dirty secret but we don't talk about it shhh.

I admit to being perplexed, and barring divine intervention, I've probably had all the sex I'm ever going to have, but I suspect that Morford's concept of sex in the, um, hinterlands is somewhat skewed; okay, people in Des Moines probably don't have the sort of access to glory holes that's available in San Francisco, but I don't think that this necessarily means that Iowa is some sort of hotbed (or coldbed) of repression.

As to those "bitter ass-clenched proto-Christian" conservative types, well, I'd like to see the research that found a correlation between political stance and sphincter diameter.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:50 AM)
15 August 2003
8 or 10 simple rules

Rachael at Mookie Riffic has issued the Idiot's Guide to Teenage Dating. Not having dated any teenagers since I was, um, fifteen, and inasmuch as my children are well into their twenties and more or less permanently attached, I don't quite know why I noticed this, but what the heck. Here's the very first rule:

If you like someone, tell them yourself. Don't have Tina tell Gabrielle to tell Carmen to tell her boyfriend George that Sheila likes Dave.

Apart from the minor pronoun issue, this seems to be eminently sensible. There are nine more, seven if you count 8 through 10 as a single item, which you probably could.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:11 AM)
16 August 2003
Received wisdom (one in a series)

Touchingly lyrical, yet totally vulgar, this High Truth straight from Donnaville:

I have never understood the reason for strip clubs for women. If a woman wants to see a naked man, all she has to do is ask.

(If I had the slightest bit of sense, I'd kill comments on this item. Fat chance.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:15 PM)
18 August 2003
Last train to Splitsville

Tiger would like you to know that it's possible to kick a marriage to death with a single pair of size-six Manolo Blahniks:

I generalize, and there are sometimes good reasons to divorce, but in my divorce practice, it is the woman who files the divorce action more often than not and the reason most often given as the reason for her action: "I am just not happy anymore." Women are less choosy about the men they get involved with than were our grandmothers and their mothers and their mothers before them and seem to continually be looking for some reason not to be happy. Men have not changed; men will never change. Men are a bunch of sex-crazed dogs who will try to charm the pants off of any gal. They can be domesticated, but never tamed.

I don't hate women. I could never hate that lovely curvaceous gender than provides life and emotion to an otherwise bleak and lonely world. I just wish they would not work so hard to blur the line between what is expected and what is reality in the male/female equation.

Am I afraid of marriage? No, but I am very, very afraid of marrying the wrong woman.

I'm not so sure that women are less choosy in this day and age; if they truly were less selective, surely they'd be lined up on my porch more than none deep.

More to the point, we all have romantic delusions, and one of the worst of them is expecting the other person to meet every conceivable emotional need we may have. We marry, and we think all of our troubles are over, all of our fears assuaged. In practice, this lasts about thirty-six hours at most.

Similarly, the woman who believes she can change a man will likely merely exchange him for another.

I've already figured that there isn't anyone for me, but this isn't because women have fluctuating levels of pickiness or because I'm some sort of "sex-crazed dog"; it's because marriage ultimately is a transaction, and I have very little of value to bring to the proceedings.

And if you approach the altar with more than the usual degree of trepidation, perhaps you might be better served by the Lewis Grizzard system: "I'll just find a woman I don't like and give her a house."

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:41 AM)
18 September 2003
Advice for the loveworn

Jay Solo has been there:

[B]ecoming particularly interested in someone stresses me out so severely that a few years ago I made myself stop getting in that situation. Obsessing but being incapable of acting was so self-destructive I had to make it stop. I simply avoid getting interested, truncating anything more than the observation "she's cute."

A path I should follow, except that I've discovered that trying to become uninterested in someone stresses me out severely — which means that I tend to hang on until, you should pardon the phrase, a change of heart.

But damn, she's cute.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:02 PM)
23 September 2003
Dry spell

The top of the navigation bar at Chaotic Not Random contains the following item: Involuntary Celibacy Watch.

As of this writing, it's at 242 days. (And it got a chuckle from Ravenwood, for reasons I don't even want to think about.)

I have no plans to post a similar counter here, mainly because — well, just because, okay?

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:59 PM)
27 September 2003
Safety first

The late-night guy at the oldies station was spinning out a spiel, and suddenly he came up with something like this:

The music that's fun for you, and safe for your kids.

It was after midnight and I was somewhere on the cusp of drowsiness, but this bugged me for some reason. Admittedly, their playlist doesn't include any of the pimp material that rules elsewhere on the dial — and even that crap is somewhat sanitized before being allowed on the air — but "safe"? Has anyone listened to "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" lately? "So tell me now, and I won't ask again"? This is seriously adult stuff, even if it was being pitched to teenagers forty-two years ago.

But it's a slogan, and one does not get a good night's sleep worrying about radio station slogans, so I shrugged it off (and if you've never seen a horizontal shrug, you haven't missed much) and let it go.

Until this afternoon, when I'm snarled in traffic north of the ever-scary Northwest Distressway, and Diana Ross comes crooning out of the speakers:

No I can't bear to live my life alone
I grow impatient for a love to call my own
But when I feel that I, I can't go on
These precious words keep me hangin' on
I remember mama said
You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said love don't come easy
It's a game of give and take

And of course, I've started singing along, and I'm weeping profusely before she ever gets to "precious words". God knows what the people in the next lane thought.

"Safe for your kids"? This stuff isn't even safe for me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:23 PM)
6 October 2003
A lot of nerve

Lesley goes all Positively 4th Street on those males (we won't dignify them by calling them "men") who have given her the treatment recently attributed to Mr. Schwarzenegger:

I wish that men magically became women for one week and had to put up with the shit that we put up with on a regular basis. Then maybe some wouldn't so offhandedly dismiss the reports. Maybe they'd realize that it is demeaning and humiliating to have some guy grope you without your consent, and that it's not a sign of manliness. Maybe they'd realize that women actually can tell the difference between a man who is just saying he finds her attractive and one who is trying to intimidate her.

Bottom line: She'd rather see you paralyzed.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:01 PM)
9 October 2003
More than I can Bayer

Your health-insurance plan — even one as blinkered and philistine as CFI Care (not its real initials), which pays a smidgen of our medical bills at 42nd and Treadmill — will probably cover some measurable fraction of your expenses when you're suffering from a broken arm. It is less likely that they will cut a check when you're suffering from a broken heart. (If they actually did such things, I probably wouldn't have needed to spend an hour and a half importuning a loan officer this week; I could have bought a house out of pocket change.)

"But," says researcher Matthew Lieberman at UCLA, "the human brain sounds the same alarm system for emotional and physical distress." There may be no superficial resemblance between road rash and rejection, but the same two brain regions respond to both, and in very similar ways.

I'm not sure what the ultimate meaning of this may be, but I have noticed that I always have about a two-year supply of painkillers on the shelf. And that doesn't even include Jack Daniel's.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:59 PM)
13 October 2003
It's all about me

Self-absorption, probably a key component of the successful blogger mindset, has its uses, but it tends to be more of a drawback when the screen is off and people are approached one at a time.

Then again, I was that way before I got a Web site, and I suppose I'm in reasonably good company.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:47 AM)
16 October 2003
Why I will croak at 53, again

(First such statement is here.)

Alan Farnham, writer for Forbes.com:

The best that modern science can say for sexual abstinence is that it's harmless when practiced in moderation. Having regular and enthusiastic sex, by contrast, confers a host of measurable physiological advantages, be you male or female.

In one of the most credible studies correlating overall health with sexual frequency, Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, tracked the mortality of about 1,000 middle-aged men over the course of a decade. The study was designed to compare persons of comparable circumstances, age and health.

Its findings, published in 1997 in the British Medical Journal, were that men who reported the highest frequency of orgasm enjoyed a death rate half that of the laggards.

Last I heard, the death rate in this species was around 100 percent, and the only man reported to have beaten those odds — well, the extent of His sexual activity is not documented in detail.

Still, if there's something to this, my days (and my otherwise-empty nights) are obviously numbered.

And a side note to younger readers: That study was conducted among middle-aged men. Extrapolate at your own risk.

(Muchas gracias: The presumably-frustrated Combustible Boy.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:55 PM)
9 November 2003
Such a percentile

Lenore Skenazy isn't advising "Lower your expectations," exactly. Or is she?

Perfectly fine-looking women pick geeky-looking guys all the time — and I wish my single friends would realize this! Anyone holding out for a hunk should understand that no matter whom you marry, the next 10 years will be a time of steady decline. So if you can just put up with a few years of subpar attractiveness, you can have everything — the kids, house, happy home life — that the cheerleader who snagged the football player has, without the disappointment of watching your guy go downhill. He's already downhill!

I would dearly love to endorse this viewpoint, except that (1) improving my appearance to "subpar" level is something that CFI Care deems "not medically necessary" and (2) I've never even seen the hill these guys putatively descend.

(Muchas gracias: Kimberly Swygert, who probably looks better than this.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:11 PM)
16 November 2003
Machiavellian princesses

Someone wandered onto the site today with the perhaps-anguished search string why are women so devious; apparently he (I'm guessing) was serious enough to go through four pages of previous results before landing at Vent #300.

This is what I actually said on the subject:

Women are often portrayed (especially by men or by female rivals) as being calculating and devious, and the portrayers go out of the way to suggest that this is a bad thing. I'm not so sure. Without getting into that arcane left-brain/right-brain stuff, it seems at least plausible to me that women are certainly capable of working out the complex mathematics of human relationships, but most cultures familiar to us expect women to accept passively the results of those computations. Is she calculating and devious? More likely, I say, she's conducting a recount.

Which, from the vantage point of a year and a half later, seems to make even less sense than when I wrote it.

What say you?

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:04 PM)
24 November 2003
Staff evaluation

Helen the Everyday Stranger has some, um, pointers for measuring one's love-tackle.

And that goes for the 51 percent of you who are concave rather than convex, too.

(Before you ask: I think the technical term is "ill-hung", not to be confused with Kim Ill-Hung, last seen as the Dear Leader from Pyongyang.)

(Aside to Geoffrey: Dayum. Um, you're excused. Yeah. That's the word.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:03 PM)
8 December 2003
Breakfast ain't what it used to be

This was emailed to me, and I reprint it without comment:

Many times when marriage is brought up in a discussion between men, the statement is made: "There's no reason to buy the cow when you can get the milk for free."

For all those men who believe that, you may want to keep the following in mind: nowadays, 80% of women are against marriage, as they have wised up to the fact that for 6 ounces of sausage it's not worth buying the entire pig.


Permalink to this item (posted at 8:02 PM)
10 December 2003
Maybe it's all in the framing

Once upon a time, I came up with this:

"Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses," said Dorothy Parker. I never believed it, myself; I mean, it wasn't that I actually made passes at girls who wore glasses — scarcely if ever did I make a pass at anyone irrespective of eyewear — but I knew of no instance where a pair of glasses actually made someone less attractive.

Donna was quick to back up Mrs. Parker. Personally, I'm not at all persuaded that Donna is as spinsterish as she claims; for one thing, she's too darn funny, and for another, she's too darn pretty.

Now comes the lovely April Joy, and she, too, buys into Parker's Law:

I think I can hide better behind glasses. Unless glasses are your thing it's [more] likely that you'd look at someone without glasses than with.

I don't believe her, either.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:25 PM)
20 December 2003
You're never too old to yearn

Acidman, damn his hide, has come up with yet another post that provokes too much thought. "What makes the RIGHT ONE?" he asks, and takes a couple of stabs at it:

How do you know when you meet the RIGHT ONE? Beats me. Maybe it's someone who likes to eat the same food that you like, drink the same wine that you like and go to the same places that you like. Maybe it's someone who doesn't like ANY of that shit but purely enjoys being with YOU because it's a different experience.

You don't have to mesh like a set of gears. Sparks are good sometimes.

Maybe it's someone who disagrees with every opinion you hold, but respects your ability to argue those opinions. Maybe it's someone who doesn't believe that you are as attractive as Fabio, but still wants to sleep with YOU at night. Maybe it's someone who accepts all your flaws and loves [you] FOR them, instead of in spite of them.

I'd avoid the gears comparison: my synchros are shot.

The problem I have with the answer is basically the problem I have with the question: I don't actually believe that there actually exists any sort of one-to-one correspondence, or even a close approximation. "Love is all around," said the Troggs, but that doesn't mean it's evenly distributed; some people, for whatever reason, find that their cups runneth over, while others sigh and shake the coal dust out of their stockings.

This isn't, however, anything like an argument for blowing off the RIGHT ONE in favor of something RIGHT NOW; while I can almost — barely — work up some sort of rationalization for a quickie affair, I would hate to think that it's the best I could do. Especially if it is.

What I'd really like to do is to proclaim that Biology Is Destiny, that I've done my part already by passing on the family DNA to the next generation, and that I don't have to think about such things anymore. If I could say that with a straight face — but never mind, it's not going to happen. What is going to happen is that I will continue to encounter, on a not-especially-regular basis, women I can only dream about, and then not dream about them. At this level, the brain and the heart work together on exactly one thing: self-preservation.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:03 PM)
27 December 2003
When I fall in love

Well, when Pejman falls in love, anyway:

When I eventually meet, am lovestruck by, woo and win the lovely, kind, gracious, brilliant, angelically compassionate and devilishly sexy PejmanWife, I'm not going to look at other women. This isn't nobility. It isn't a sign that I have suddenly evolved into an extraordinary gentleman. It simply reflects the fact that I wouldn't want to look at other women. They wouldn't interest me. They wouldn't excite me. You could try to entice me with visions of striptease artists of the first rank coming to my bachelor party and doing all the things the profession is famed and honored for, and my reaction would be "Meh. Give me a day of golf, some fine cigars, a few drinks, touch football, chess, and movies with my friends, and I'm a happy man. I'll save the sexy stuff for me and my future wife, thank you."

In fact, if my reaction were anything indicating strong interest in the striptease filled bachelor party, I'd get the feeling that I'm marrying the wrong woman. She'd have to be the only one who could have any kind of hold on my emotions. No one else could exist. No one.

I'm going to have to file this under "Wish I'd said that", I think.

Not that there's anyone meeting that description for me, of course.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:27 PM)
29 December 2003
The wrappings of misconception

Dawn Eden is not impressed by this campaign by the American Foundation for AIDS Research:

To imply that women who do not carry condoms are failing to protect themselves from AIDS — which is what amfAR's Web site explicitly states as it refers to the ad's "shocking statistics" — is an insult to me personally and to every responsible, non-condom-toting woman I know.

The true message of the amfAR ad is that everybody's doing it, and those who don't "protect" themselves are just plain irresponsible. This is a valid message if one's target audience consists of B-girls, bags, bawds, bimbos, blowers, broads, call girls, camp followers, cats, chickens, chippies, concubines, courtesans, fallen womans, floozies, harlots, hookers, hostesses, hustlers, loose women, molls, nymphomaniacs, painted women, party girls, pickups, pink pants, pros, scarlet women, sluts, streetwalkers, strumpets, tarts, tomatoes, tramps, trollops, white slaves, whores, and working girls.

It is not a valid message if one is targeting ordinary single women.

(I break in here to note that I don't know anyone meeting the above description, and if I did — well, never mind, you know the joke.)

If amfAR truly wished its ads to be "arresting," it would go against the pop-culture stream and take a stand in favor of sexual restraint. But scientists will find a cure for AIDS long before that organization dares to profess that people should be "responsible" for anything other than "protecting" themselves from the effects of their own irresponsibility.

Myself, I don't claim that my ongoing extended period of celibacy is any kind of moral statement. On the other hand, it is quite clearly effective in warding off HIV, not to mention substantially less expensive than other techniques. (Condoms cost money; dates cost even more money.) And while I have had my own doubts about abstinence-only programs, it's clear that at least some of them work, and I'm not inclined to sneer at the results they get: the age groups at which these programs are directed really should not be sexually active, for reasons which go beyond the simple Thou Shalt Not.

Then there's this:

I still have urges to do things that would require what amfAR so delicately calls "protection." But I know that even if such protection were 100% effective against HIV, it would still be 0% effective against a much more certain disease arising from sex without love: heartsickness. Loveless sex is a very poor Band-Aid against loneliness, and it ultimately keeps the wound from healing.

Twenty years ago, I probably would have scoffed. Not today.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:47 AM)
2 January 2004
The best of all possible worlds

The wisdom of Jay Solo:

You should always fall in love mutually with your best friend. It's a Good Thing.

Few of us are so fortunate, but a Good Thing it most assuredly is.

My congratulations to Jay and Deb. May they find every happiness along their way to eternity.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:21 AM)
5 January 2004
Neither do they spin

I have almost always been puzzled as to the reason why perfectly desirable women would willingly embrace the term "spinster," a word which to me has always seemed fraught with despair and desolation and all those other D words I used to toss around so frequently.

After reading this, perhaps I understand a little better. I'm reasonably certain that not everyone using the term subscribes to every single item in the list, but I think they might buy this line:

We have a right to proudly reclaim the word Spinster, to uphold and forge this brave new identity, to embrace our singleness, to live our lives fully, and to never let our human expression be characterized as a paraphrased offshoot of the male experience with words such as "bachelorette."

Heh. She said "offshoot."

Now maybe I should look for a comparable term for myself — besides "dork," of course.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:26 AM)
12 January 2004
And the days go by

I note in passing that I got married twenty-six years ago today, in the middle of a blizzard.

Today: sunshine and 58, and I suspect both of us are happier four hundred miles apart.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:28 AM)
22 January 2004
Gee, thanks

Some poor soul waded through five dozen links proffered by Yahoo! Search for the keywords desperate unattractive dating before landing here.

Whether the individual in question is desperately seeking a date despite being unattractive, or desperately seeks to date someone unattractive, or finds dating out of desperation unattractive, is impossible to determine from the search string.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:56 AM)
14 February 2004
It's just another show

Joni Mitchell has the jump on me here:

I've looked at love from both sides now
From win and lose, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

With this thought in mind, and this being the feast of Valentine, patron saint of jewelers and greeting-card manufacturers, I have chosen to celebrate with a 25-track mix tape that captures both the frolic and the frustration of the day. I have no reason to think that the musical selections therein will do anything for your love life, but they will demonstrate both acceptable taste and relative diversity, neither of which is likely to hurt. The period covered is 1959 to 1972, which inevitably brackets the time when I first became aware of the existence of girls and the time when I realized that they weren't going to be aware of mine.

Or not. After all, it's love's illusions I recall, and just as perplexingly, it's more likely to be Judy Collins' version of "Both Sides Now" I recall than Joni's.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:14 AM)
18 February 2004
Born under a bad sign

As of this morning, if you Google for "why women pick losers" and press the I'm Feeling Lucky button, you will be taken to this very blog — specifically, this page.

Somehow, "lucky" is not my most immediate reaction.

At least I don't show up for "miserable failure".

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:14 AM)
21 February 2004
Barefoot and bathetic

A common complaint among guys of a certain age has to do with the general dearth of Major Babes: they may know lots of women, but no one that will really knock your socks off, you know?

Given the emphasis we tend to place on the visual, I've generally assumed that since I know a fairly substantial number of women who are eminently capable of destroying my entire sock wardrobe with a couple of glances, my tastes, if that's the word, are fairly small-c catholic.

And indeed, after following this link thoughtfully provided by Michele, which brings up a fairly lengthy test (presented by Match.com) that purports to determine the ingredients that contribute to that sock destruction, I felt I had confirmed my thinking on the matter, inasmuch as in the test, just as in real life, the women I found most attractive from a purely-physical standpoint didn't look that much alike. Obviously, I felt, I had fairly elastic standards of beauty.

And then came the bombshell in the middle of the results, which I quote:

It's official: You're "picky." The fact is you are drawn to the most beautiful of the beautiful. You know what you like in women and are more selective than most men your age. Your tastes seem instinctual. You'd make a great casting agent, because you have a good eye for women who have "star quality." In real life, your high standards may be an obstacle for you. It's hard to find a woman with the strong features you like, who's also well-rounded in other ways. Still, you know the importance of a real physical "spark" in a relationship, and aren't willing (or able) to settle for less. The challenge is finding a woman who really wows you physically, even if she's not the most attractive woman in the room.

Damn.

In addition to being unappealing, overbearing, mercurial and generally annoying, now I'm also excessively (like 98th percentile) selective?

And come to think of it, I haven't bought any socks in over a year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:21 PM)
6 March 2004
Ruled out

Dawn Eden, on the wisdom of compiling lists of desired (and undesired) characteristics possessed by applicants for the position of Significant Other:

[I]f one has not found one's soulmate by a certain point in one's life (let's say, age 35½), one is not going to come any closer to finding that person by compiling "can't stand"s and "must-have"s a la junior high.

Needless to say, she supplemented this wisdom with exactly that sort of compilation, which is of course the very same thing I would have done had I made such an announcement.

And after reviewing her desiderata, I decided that I probably should not make such an announcement. While I know several individuals who match my own list decently well (say, seven or eight out of ten desired characteristics and no real bêtes noires), I also know that when contemplating matters of the heart, my higher brain functions tend to dissolve into synaptic chaos.

Besides, the criteria I apply tend to be either absurdly vague or embarrassingly superficial, to the extent that I have no faith in the ability of those criteria to produce any reasonable results. But what's the alternative? Take the first person who doesn't immediately reject me out of hand? Been there, done that, and the rejection came on its own schedule.

I have never quite believed that there was exactly one person for everyone: the symmetry is beautiful, but the evidence is lacking. I try to encourage my friends who are still looking, lest they become downhearted and frustrated. (Been there, done that too.) But I think there's a definite limit, and not an especially high one at that, to how much you can affect the outcome; the factors that set a relationship in motion, more often than not, are random. (I'm not ruling out divine intervention, but assuming it exists, it is sufficiently unpredictable to meet my definition of randomness.)

And I'm quite a long way past 35½. Had I any sense, I'd accept that there was no one for me, and go on.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:34 AM)
11 April 2004
Reunited (and it feels so good)

No prospect is more daunting, I maintain, than meeting up, thirty-five years later, with your first love — and this applies no less when the object of your devotion is purely fictional.

Just over a year ago, I said this:

Next month I have to come to grips with the BBC Films/Independent Distribution Partnership's production of Dodie Smith's late-Forties novel I Capture the Castle, a book I first read in high school and dust off every other year or so just to reacquaint myself with the residents of ruined Castle Godsend and to see if I'm still in love with Cassandra Mortmain. (I tend to be, shall we say, frustratingly constant in my devotion, particularly when it is not returned, which is almost always the case.)

I could boycott the movie on general principle, and there's always the chance that it won't play here at all — after all, they may need extra screens for The Matrix Reloaded — but even if I can avoid the theatrical release, I'll still have to contend with the eventual DVD. Fortunately, the canned synopsis floating around seems remarkably true to the storyline, and the Samuel Goldwyn company, which is distributing the film in the US, has a reputation for picking up the Good Stuff.

Indeed, the film did not play here in the hinterlands at all, and when the DVD was released in December, I ignored it for two months, contrived somehow to have it back-ordered for two months, and when it finally arrived this week, I stared at it for two days, almost afraid to pop the seal, lest all the connections I've made to the book all these years might be disrupted somehow by the visuals. Finally, late last night, I worked up the nerve and started the disc, promising myself I would not spend four minutes out of every five looking for insignificant yet pickable nits.

I'm not writing a detailed review here — for that, I recommend this piece by Seattle's Three Imaginary Girls — but I must state for the record that whatever fears I may have had were unfounded. The castle itself is just what I envisioned; the countryside is classically beautiful (Wales and the Isle of Man stand in for Suffolk); and the cast is well-nigh perfect. It's a talky sort of film, but then these are people who have a lot to say. And Romola Garai brings Cassandra to life in a way I wouldn't have thought possible: not a girl, not yet a woman, struggling with both the cerebral and the hormonal but sworn to do the Right Thing come what may, this is the character for whom I fell so hard so many years ago.

Mere nostalgia? Hardly. In the grand scheme of things, one's first love ranks second among the most important romantic relationships of a lifetime — one's last love, of course, is the first — and Cassandra Mortmain, confused yet resolute, completely fictional yet utterly real to me, contributed as much as anyone to the structure of my life. And in one way, the film version improves on that structure; the book closes with nine words, a triplet spoken thrice, while the film ends with eight: "I love, I have loved, I will love." If the ending is not technically happy, it's not technically the ending, either.

Dodie Smith's book was published in 1948, the same year that C. B. Warr directed the construction of the house which today is mine, a reminder, to me anyway, that what we are doesn't start with when we're born. And life itself is much like I Capture the Castle: even when it's carefully plotted, it's still vaguely out of control. Heady lessons at fifteen; still viable at fifty.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:27 AM)
13 April 2004
A moment's pleasure

About twice a year, someone has the temerity to ask me why I would think any of the pop songs I grew up with could possibly have any relevance today. And my answer is always the same: I turn to the shelf, pull down Scepter 1211, then start the turntable. An opening perilously close to lounge music, and then Shirley Owens, somewhere between wistful and wanton:

Tonight you're mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow?

This was the first composition for Brill Building publisher Don Kirshner by Carole King (music) and Gerry Goffin (lyrics), and as the story goes, it was first offered to Johnny Mathis; Columbia Records boss Mitch Miller is said to have blackballed the song, claiming it was immoral.

Dawn Eden might think ol' Mitch may have been on to something:

Like many songs from that more innocent era, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" expresses feelings that most people would be too embarrassed to verbalize. There's something painful about the way its vulnerable narrator leaves herself wide open. Yet, even though her asking the song's title question implies a certain amount of courage, it's clear that she's ready to accept a positive answer without questioning it — which is not surprising, given the lyrics' description of how the evening has progressed. By the time one is worrying about how the other person will feel tomorrow, it is usually too late.

For most unattached single women in New York City, and I would imagine much of the rest of the country as well, casual sex is the norm. It's encouraged by all the women's magazines and television shows from "Oprah" on down, as well as films, music, and the culture in general. And while "love" is celebrated, women are told that they should not demand to be loved tomorrow — only respected.

If it's encouraged for women, it's almost mandatory for men; a woman who is not sexually active is pitied, while a man who is not sexually active is mocked and ridiculed. (Which may be one reason why very few men — Frankie Valli is one who did — ever recorded this song.) "Tell me now, and I won't ask again" turns out to be a variation on a theme by Scarlett O'Hara: "I'll think about that tomorrow."

And, says Dawn, "if you have to ask someone if they'll still love you tomorrow, they don't love you tonight."

I still love this song, and always will. But if you thought it was just an innocuous pop tune from forty years ago, you might want to think again. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" contains the seeds of the sexual revolution — and, perhaps inevitably, the counterrevolution as well.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:49 AM)
19 April 2004
Never happen again

I've quoted the Shangri-Las' "Past, Present and Future" a few times in my lifetime, mainly because its words (you can't call them "lyrics," really, since they're not sung) are so odd, yet so apt, that they fit very much into a lifetime as odd as my own.

This is the heart of the matter:

Was I ever in love?
I called it love.
I mean, it felt like love.
There were moments when....
Well, there were moments when.

My first (some may say last) Moment When was thirty-five years ago today.

And quite apart from the heinousness of their crime, I will never forgive Messrs. McVeigh and Nichols, and any of their friends and acquaintances who may have been involved, for displacing a good memory by a horrifying one.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:04 PM)
23 April 2004
Ask me about my vow of silence

Somebody planted this sign — complete with a color scheme redolent of Valentine's Day — in the grass adjoining a prodigiously busy intersection:

Are you single? Free info: 405-607-xxxx.

I'm pretty sure I'm single; I have a copy of my divorce decree. How much additional info do I need?

(And it damned sure wasn't free, either.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:07 PM)
25 April 2004
50 ways to scare a woman

Now I happen to think that Queen Latifah is a Major Babe, and there's no reason why she shouldn't be on the cover of Glamour.

And I suspect that Friedrich von Blowhard might agree with me on that point, but apart from the photo, much of what's on that cover and what's beneath it, he says, is worthy of the 2004 Nobel "General Rottenness To Humanity" Prize.

Of course, this cover conforms to the recent rule which says you must have something with an enormous number attached to it: in this case, "We tried on 1,300 swimsuits!" But digits are the least of your worries, young lady. As Blowhard notes:

"The 31 SEX & LOVE thrills no woman should miss." Since you can't instantly rattle off 31 sex and love thrills you've ever had, your sex life is clearly inadequate. But we knew that.

The conventional wisdom has it that everyone's sex life is inadequate, and something should be done about it. (Well, mine is, but I'm stuck with it. So there.) And you have to figure that magazines like Glamour are bought largely by women just barely out of their teens, which strikes me as a hell of an age to decide that your sex life is inadequate; what frame of reference do you have at twenty-two? (And if you're not out of your teens, you can get much the same harangues from, of all places, Planned Parenthood, which I suspect is a plot to insure continuing demand for their more, um, visible services.)

What you see in men's magazines, we are told on a regular basis, is transparently, flagrantly unreal, fantasies polished to a high gloss and airbrushed to perfection, utterly disconnected from any semblance of Real Life™. It may even be so. But it's hard to imagine that the dreck that clutters up the lad mags is any worse than the toxins that routinely course through material aimed at women; reading that stuff, says Friedrich von Blowhard, constitutes "masochistic abuse."

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:48 AM)
2 May 2004
From the Department of No Surprises

Why there will never be a romance novel written about me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:34 AM)
3 May 2004
An excess of nostalgia

She's fifty today, and has three (almost certainly) lovely girls.

But to me, she will always be fourteen.

Before you ask: Yes, I'm over her. But that first rush of emotion, the first ray of hope in a life mostly distinguished by a general lack of it — that, I miss.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:31 AM)
My bags are packed, I'm ready to go

"Even if you're not single," says Men's Journal (June '04), "it's nice to be in a place with some eye candy." Accordingly, they recommend the following communities:

  1. Athens, GA
  2. Santa Barbara, CA
  3. Columbia, MO
  4. Gainesville, FL
  5. Charlottesville, VA

To explain:

These are the cities with the best female populations, as measured by the male-to-female ratio, the average female body mass index, the percentage of college grads, and percentage between the ages of 18 and 40.

That's what they said: "best female populations."

I have always assumed that my own criteria were dubious, arbitrary, and generally shameful, and no doubt they are, but I cringe at the thought that there are guys far more shallow than I.

Especially if they have dates.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:38 PM)
5 May 2004
Yearning disability

Points on the curve, as determined at Altered Perceptions:

Lust is a Hershey bar, a Ford Fiesta and a walk in the park. Love is Godivas, a Rolls Royce and gazing down at the world from Pikes Peak.

Now to find a term that fits a random Skittle, a clapped-out Chevy Vega, and the view from the inside of the car wash.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:32 AM)
19 May 2004
Seize the, um, day

I had totally forgotten that May was National Masturbation Month.

Not that I have time to participate. I'm horribly overworked at the shop, as is the case every May, and it takes every last bit of energy I have to squeeze out the occasional blog entry or two.

In fact, apart from Palm Sunday...er, never mind.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:00 PM)
23 May 2004
Bitter irony of the day

Why search engines, even the most sophisticated, will never, ever replace good old fashioned human research:

This site (specifically this page) is listed at RomanceStartsHere.com as a Resource for "Dating Intellectual Single Men".

Can one cry and guffaw at the same time?

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:10 AM)
24 May 2004
Unofficial celibacy timeline

Note: I reprint this only as a public service; I am not able to corroborate any individual entry personally.

1 - 3 days: Romantic Glow
4 - 30 days: Dull Ache
31 - 90 days: Depressed and Sad
91 - 180 days: Frightened and Angry
181 - 225 days: Forget About Sex
226 - 365 days: Remember Sex and Get Desperate
366 - 666 days: Flirt with Pretty Chicks
667 - 800 days: Flirt with Ugly Chicks
801 - 990 days: Prepare for Self-Castration
991 - 999 days: Divorce Wife
1000 days +: Point of No Return

Courtesy of gratiot.pitas.com (18 May '04, 10:14 pm).

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:55 PM)
31 May 2004
Holding out for... what?

Francis W. Porretto fells a romantic fantasy with a single bullet:

"The one," or some variation on the theme, is the reason most romances fail. A lot of younger folks carry an idealized picture of romantic bliss in their heads. They insist on comparing their current romance to that picture, and their current beau to the demigoddess of their fantasy. Besides being monstrously unfair to any human lover to do such a thing, it guarantees dissatisfaction from one end of life to the other.

To insist on "the one" is to insist that some real woman mold herself into a reproduction of your fantasies. It's a demand for a golem, not a wife. Every real lover you'll ever have will be irritable, distractable, ornery, perverse, and independent of mind. How could it be otherwise? Other people never live up to our hopes for them. Not even the best of them, and not even when you've made it crystal-clear what you want and expect.

Which is perfectly true, but then he threw this in:

You don't have a lot of time to work. Most of us form our opinions of most of us within the first couple of minutes after being introduced. There's no way to recover from a major blunder committed in that precious opening interval. There's no way to recover if she adjudges you vapid, colorless, or spineless, either.

Mental note: Leave after three minutes. Saves a lot of trouble in the long run.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 PM)
6 June 2004
And now they're hooked

Joanne Jacobs points to this story in The New York Times Magazine which details the semi-detached suburban sexual encounters of contemporary teenagers, and there's something vaguely, maybe not so vaguely, impersonal about the entire process:

[I]f you want it to be a hookup relationship, then you don't call the person for anything except plans to hook up. You don't invite them out with you. You don't call just to say hi. You don't confuse the matter. You just keep it purely sexual, and that way people don't have mixed expectations, and no one gets hurt.

I rather think Dawn Eden might disagree with that last bit.

And Dr. Drew Pinsky, he who hosts the "Loveline" show, sees a downside, particularly for girls:

'It's all bravado. Teens are unwittingly swept up in the social mores of the moment, and it's certainly not some alternative they're choosing to keep from getting hurt emotionally. The fact is, girls don't enjoy hookups nearly as much as boys, no matter what they say at the time. They're only doing it because that's what the boys want.''

And what the boys wanted, when I was growing up, could be graphed on a baseball diamond. No more:

''We need to establish an international base system,'' Brian said. ''Because right now, frankly, no one knows what's up with the bases. And that's a problem.''

Jesse nodded in agreement. ''First base is obviously kissing,'' Brian said.

''Obviously,'' Jesse said.

''But here's the twist,'' Brian said. ''Historically, second base was breasts. But I don't think second base is breasts anymore. I think that's just a given part of first base. I mean, how can you make out without copping a feel?''

''True,'' Jesse said. ''And if third base is oral, what's second base?''

''How does this work for girls?'' asked Ashley, the 17-year-old junior. ''I mean, are the bases what's been done to you, or what you've done?''

''If it's what base you've gone to with a girl, you go by whoever had more done,'' Jesse told her.

''But we're girls,'' Ashley said. ''So we've got on bases with guys?''

''Right, but it doesn't matter,'' Jesse said. ''It's not what base you've had done to you, it's what bases you get to.''

Kate shook her head. ''I'm totally lost.''

''See how complicated this is?'' Brian said. ''Now if someone asks you, 'So, how far did you get with her?' you have to say, 'Well, how do your bases go?' ''

I don't know. (Third base.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:11 PM)
9 June 2004
As if to knock me down

No one seemed particularly anxious to accept my nonexplanation of why I wasn't dating, as affixed to this piece, and I can't say I'm especially surprised.

The fact is, whatever ideal I have kicking around in the back of my heart is ill-defined at best; I have a few desiderata that can be translated into words, but after so many years of vague, inchoate yearning, I don't think it's possible for me to be too specific about the object of my halfquarter-hearted quest.

On the other hand, some people know exactly what they're looking for.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:20 PM)
16 June 2004
Never meant to be

A commenter to this post asked me, more or less point-blank, why I wasn't dating Dawn Eden.

The obvious answer: she's 1498 miles away, give or take a wrong turn. "Hey, you wanna take in So-and-So at the Such-and-Such?" simply isn't feasible.

But there are deeper fissures between us than mere distance, and this one may be the deepest of all:

Today I found in the 3-for-$1 bin at Bleecker Bob's a 45 that looked, well, interesting. The songwriter was Ian Whitcomb of "You Turn Me On" fame, while the producer was Phil Ochs' old buddy Andy Wickham.

Unfortunately, once I got home, I discovered that not only is it dreadful, but it's actually on a compilation of The World's Worst Records (along with the far more listenable Mrs. Miller).

The record is "Hands," by one Debbie Dawn. If you would like to take it off my hands, I might — just might — be convinced to pay the postage, depending on the level of your enthusiasm.

Fain would I relieve fair maiden of her burden, but for the following:

(1) I actually have a copy of The World's Worst Records Vol. 2.

(2) What's more, the same horrid little tune shows up on The Force, one of the infamous Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders, which I also have.

A genuinely crummy and marginally offensive record, and I have two copies of it. Any chance of winning her heart has obviously gone straight into the toilet.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:59 PM)
17 June 2004
For what it's worth

It's called Intrinsa, a name I expect to see inflicted upon a handful of poor, defenseless baby girls a couple of years from now, and it's a testosterone patch for women that, says manufacturer Procter & Gamble, improves sexual desire and satisfaction in women whose ovaries had been removed.

Geez. I don't have ovaries, for obvious reasons, and my libido is basically shot to hell. Hmmm.... True Blue Deb says that she's not familiar with the technical term "female sexual dysfunction," but:

I have lived through a period of Zero Desire. Getting off the Paxil straightened that right up though.

I suppose I could quit taking Paxil, but that would require me to start taking Paxil.

Inasmuch as I don't have a partner to disappoint, though, this is probably less of an issue than it could be.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:50 AM)
Ladies and gentlemen, the Slobbovian ambassador

The real source of male slovenliness, says Andrew Sullivan, is women:

If women weren't so damn forgiving of slobbiness, if they weren't prepared to look for the diamond buried in the rough of a man's beer-belly, men might have to shape up a little. The only reason gay men are — on the whole — better turned out than straight men is because they have to appeal to other shallow, beauty-obsessed males to get laid, find a mate, etc. The corollary, of course, are lesbians. Now there are many glamorous lesbiterians, but even the most enthusiastic Sapphic-lover will have to concede that many are not exactly, shall we say, stylish. The reason? They don't have to be to attract other women; and since women find monogamy easier, they also slide into the I'm-married-so-what-the-hell-have-another-pretzel syndrome. When straight women really do insist on only dating hot guys, men will shape up. Until then, it's hopeless.

Unfortunately, it's not a diamond: it's a kidney stone.

Of course, I wouldn't have this problem if I didn't persist in falling for women who are so far out of my league it seems impossible we could be playing the same game.

(Update, 6:35 am, 18 June: Dawn Eden rakes Sullivan over the coals.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:51 AM)
21 June 2004
Playing the numbers

You gotta love this. From Dawn Eden:

The other night, I ran into a woman I know who informed me she was so dissatisfied with the caliber of men she was meeting through her social circle that she had joined a personal-ad Web site.

Unfortunately, she added, the Web site — one of the biggest in the business — had thus far turned out to be a bust. The five responses she'd received in her ad's debut week ranged from the perverted to the inane. But what could she expect? According to a survey on the site, she was compatible with only 4 percent of its members.

Just a lonely little 4 percent. How sad. I gave her the requisite "poor baby" platitudes. It wasn't until I got home that it hit me.

Assuming that the Web site's statistics hold true for real life — which they probably do, given the large sample — and assuming what I learned in fifth-grade math still holds, Personal Ad Gal can theoretically walk into any room containing 25 men and discover one case of mutual boat-floating.

It boggles the mind.

The numbers being what they are — J. Random Guy being a 96-percent flop — it becomes a better-than-even bet that one of these fellows might do the trick once you get seventeen in the room. (0.96 to the 17th power comes in at 0.4996; in other words, the chance of a match is 1 minus 0.4996, which is 0.5004.) It never becomes quite a certainty, as Zeno might have pointed out, and there are always imponderables to figure into the mix, but by and large, it shouldn't take a pool of candidates large enough to fill the Albert Hall to come up with Just The One.

Still, it's probably a good idea not to get too enthusiastic about the odds. As Dawn says:

In the film Big Fish, a boy sees a vision of his own death. That knowledge gives him marvelous confidence throughout life. In his moments of greatest fear, he can reassure himself by remembering, "This is not how I go."

Single women are told to view single men with an open mind, as though each one might be The One. I submit that this is counterproductive. When the difference between the right man and the almost-right man is analogous to that between lightning and the lightning bug, and when one faces the daunting task of weeding out 999,999,999 million almost-right ones, the answer is not to keep playing the field.

Until lightning strikes, the answer is to keep remembering: "This is not how I go."

Is there a chapel in the pines, waiting for us around the bend? I don't know. But one thing I do know: respect the power of the storm. When the atmosphere is right, things can change literally within seconds.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:45 AM)
28 June 2004
We're no angels

Anyone who has spent more than thirty minutes at a party, or fifteen minutes in an online chatroom, knows that some guys are real jerks yet somehow manage to land the babes.

If you're The Washington Post, however, it takes you days in a secondary-education compound and 2600-odd words to come to the same perfectly-obvious conclusion.

(Via the delightfully-terse Michelle Malkin)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:28 AM)
23 July 2004
The Roosevelt Rule

I found this in Caren Lissner's novel Starting from Square Two (Don Mills, Ontario: Red Dress Ink, 2004).

"I used to toss obnoxious men aside without a second thought. Now if I meet one who's single, I'm expected to look for the bright side. It's like the Roosevelt Rule."

"The Roosevelt Rule?"

"Fear of being alone is worse than being alone itself," Hallie said. "When I was nineteen and didn't have a boyfriend, I never felt bad about it. Because I figured someday I would. My friends and I had plenty of fun alone. What ruins the fun is the fear that you'll be that way forever."

Gert knew how scared Hallie was. "You know, you could find someone in the blink of an eye," Gert said. "It could happen tomorrow." But she didn't think she sounded convincing. She didn't like issuing comforting platitudes, but she didn't want Hallie to give up, either.

Hallie stood up and went over to her stereo and fondled the copper Empire State Building on top. "I'm in New York City," she said. "I'm healthy, attractive, and I have a steady job. I should be seeing every play on Broadway. I should be eating at the best restaurants and getting drunk with friends and singing at piano bars. I should be taking road trips across the country and sleeping under the stars. But since those activities are enhanced doubly and triply when you do them with someone you love, I've put them on hold and instead spent all my time looking for that person. It's just too hard to live in the moment when you know how much better the moment would be if you found someone."

Well, I definitely have no business singing in piano bars.

Still, I feel compelled to raise the possibility of a new deal, so to speak.

(Update, 10:40 pm: Fixed links.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:45 AM)
2 August 2004
One on one

You know, those boring old monogamists may have been onto something.

Really. "Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study" [it will cost you $5 to read the whole thing] is a National Bureau of Economic Research study by David G. Blanchflower (Dartmouth) and Andrew J. Oswald (Warwick). The idea: to link the common happiness survey to information on sexual behavior.

The following executive summary, sort of, appears in The Atlantic (September, "Primary Sources"):

Married people have considerably more sex than swinging singles and gay divorcees, and the "happiness-maximizing" number of sexual partners in a given year is almost exactly one. Rising wealth has no positive effect on the frequency of sex, and increased education actually has a slightly negative effect, particularly among men. (This is unfortunate news for the well-educated, since they are the group for whom sexual activity has the highest impact on happiness.)

Did I mention I quit school after ten years? :)

To expand on that "almost exactly one" business, from the actual paper:

How many sexual partners in the last year will maximize a person's happiness? Although persuasive cause-and-effect is clearly difficult to establish in cross-section data, the simple answer according to these GSS data is one sexual partner. In this sense, our work has conservative implications. After some experimentation, we report this monogamy result, in Table 3, simply as the variable 'single partner'.

Table 4 looks in more detail at the type of sexual partner. We find, for instance, that people who say they have ever paid for sex are considerably less happy than others. Those who have ever had sex outside their marriage also report notably low happiness scores.

[Preceding paragraphs © 2004 by David G. Blanchflower and Andrew J. Oswald.]

"GSS" refers to the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

I learned two things from this report:

(1) My instincts aren't entirely unsound, after all;

(2) Seventeen cents a page for downloaded material apparently doesn't faze me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:52 PM)
15 August 2004
But surely there must be someone

Don't count on it. (And don't call me Shirley.)

Of course, I never once envisioned that eight years of cluttering up the Web, as I have, would fill even one of the empty lines on my dance card, but on the other hand, what else is there?

Well, there's this.

(Via Washington Interns Gone Bad: The Blog)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:44 PM)
29 August 2004
Girl talk

As a person of only-slightly-peccable male credentials, I spend probably too much time in the contemplation of the mystery that is woman, and the following is excerpted from yesterday's not-entirely-random thoughts.

Mary Sauer is an American pole-vaulter; she appeared unclothed in the September Playboy "Women of the Olympics" pictorial. I of course had checked out the fine print, and had found this little gem:

I'm afraid of heights. But when I pole-vault I can't tell how high in the air I am. I'll go driving down the freeway and see an overpass sign that reads CLEARANCE 14 FEET, 10 INCHES, and I think, Wow, I've jumped over that.

Yesterday I was westbound on the Northwest Distressway, approaching May, and there's the overpass, just about that height, and I thought, "Wow, she's jumped over that." Which is probably not quite accurate — she's cleared that height, yes, but I don't think she'd have made it across all four lanes and the guardrail. Still, for me anyway, it's an image as indelible as the photo that starts on page 132.

I had concluded, after too many fashion magazines, that while there actually are women this tall and that thin, it's the purely artificial photographic environment which creates the illusion that they're actually somehow attractive, and besides, they never, ever smile.

Two of them were in front of me in the checkout lane yesterday. Under the cold, hard, fluorescent lights of the workaday world, these two youngsters, dressed just this side of casual flirty, were, um, downright gorgeous. And worse, they were smiling. Apparently they were stocking up on party essentials, and Mom, who was busy writing the check, seemed to be in a good mood, considering she had just spent $300 and odd. (Mom, a little shorter and a little less angular, was pretty hot herself, but we won't go there. At least, I won't.)

Finally, an exhibit on the subject of why I've got it bad for Aisha Tyler, from her book Swerve: Reckless Observations of a Postmodern Girl, on why doing charity work makes you more interesting:

The next time you're out with a bunch of people and they're all babbling on about how their new SUV came with six cup holders instead of the standard factory-issue four, or how they're pissed because they couldn't find a pair of Super Humanity Force Five Superlow Cut Frayed Über-Denim jeans, you can talk about how you spent a weekend building a house for a low-income family and learned how to use a compound mitre saw. In metric. They will be cowed. But they will also be fascinated. Girls will think you've got balls, and boys will imagine you with a hammer in your hand, wearing nothing but a utility belt. Everybody wins.

Did I mention indelible images?

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:14 AM)
7 December 2004
No gifts, please

I hadn't thought about this — okay, I hadn't thought about this much — but Andrea Harris has:

No man will respect a woman who spends money on him. No matter how much he may love her and appreciate her at the time of the present-giving or check-picking-up or whatever it is, deep down inside he'll be ashamed, and eventually he will leave her and find someone who doesn't remind him of his vulnerabilities.

Having once been married to someone who outearned me — which doesn't take much, alas — I must concede that there's something to this. So does Chi-Lite Eugene Record:

All my friends call me a fool
They say, "let the woman take care of you"
So I try to be hip and think like the crowd
But even the crowd can't help me now

Did this phenomenon play any role in the Presidential election? The Twisted Spinster thinks so:

Witness all the attacks on John F. Kerry's marriage to the millionaire ketchup lady. His exalted gigolo status in the eyes of many Americans may not have been the main reason he wasn't elected but I'm sure it helped.

It is an unfortunate fact of my life that anyone who catches my eye, quite apart from the usual array of obstacles, will inevitably prove to be way out of my league. So I strive to be as self-sufficient as I can, knowing that neediness, at least in my case, always seems to breed resentment.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:24 AM)
5 January 2005
He's just not into looking at you

Feminism, says Laura Kipnis, was supposed to obliterate a culture of female inadequacy. But look what happened:

Yet for all feminism's social achievements, what it never managed to accomplish was the eradication of the heterosexual beauty culture, meaning the time-consuming and expensive potions and procedures — the pedicures, highlights, wax jobs on sensitive areas, "aesthetic surgery," and so on. For some reason, the majority of women simply would not give up the pursuit of beautification, even those armed with feminist theory. (And even those clearly destined to fail.)

Ann Althouse finds this curious:

Note that Kipnis can't just say feminism failed to extinguish the human love of beauty. It's not beauty, it's a beauty culture that is the problem, and a heterosexual one at that. There's some sort of crushing patriarchy imposing something on women, something unnatural, involving "expensive potions and procedures." The assumption — actually quite incredible — is that empowered women would not care how things looked. I think it's more likely that empowered women would demand that males meet a higher standard of beauty.

Or, as Andrew Sullivan once noted, "If women weren't so damn forgiving of slobbiness, if they weren't prepared to look for the diamond buried in the rough of a man's beer-belly, men might have to shape up a little."

And just to keep things interesting, a link to Dawn Eden's response thereto, which refutes the notion that the phenomenon bewailed by Kipnis is somehow heterosexual.

As your Standard Unattractive Guy, I just sit here and watch the (faux) fur fly.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:20 AM)
18 January 2005
Skinny legs and all

Michele has seen the Playboy spread, so to speak, of waifish Focker Teri Polo, and she is not impressed:

What is sexy? And I mean physically, so don't cop out and give me that "a woman with a brain is sooo sexy" line. Do you honestly like a woman who looks like she hasn't eaten since the last time the Mets won the World Series*? Is a woman whose protruding rib cage could conceivably pierce you during sex hot? Would you prefer a woman with a D cup and few pounds on her or an A cup with a child's waistline? Would you date a woman who is over a size 7? Over a size ten? Do you hold yourself to the same standards of physical perfection that you do the women you choose to date/pick up/marry?

* 1986.

Actually, the only standard of physical perfection I myself actually meet is "breathing," but this is true of rather a lot of us over here on the Y-chromosomed side of the aisle, as Paul notes:

I knew a lot of guys who were hard pressed to get a date, yet they talked as if they were George Clooney. I often pointed this out to them but never got a satisfactory response.

Being just as capable of hypocrisy as the next guy, I admit that I have, um, certain preferences, but that's all they are: preferences. Not requirements. (And if I did meet someone who looked exactly like the mythical Woman of My Dreams, I think it's a safe bet I wouldn't even be able to speak to her: I'd be too overwhelmed, and there's always the "What would she want with the likes of me?" angle.)

You might infer from that last bit that there have not been many women in my life, and indeed there have not, but they have been a fairly diverse lot, from sizes 2 to 22½, heights from 4'9" to 5'9", and don't even ask me to recall cup sizes. About the only thing they had in common was that at some point they thought I was acceptable, which is miraculous enough.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:40 AM)
29 January 2005
Whereas with a bicycle, you just climb back on

Brian is single again, and baffled:

It's such a conundrum. I want things that are in conflict with each other. I crave intimacy but fear what it brings. I don't want to be alone but the word "commitment" sends shivers down my spine. I want to be close to a woman, but when that closeness is offered I back off. The fear of being hurt again causes me instead to hurt someone else. I want to go slow but then I race ahead, only to shift into reverse a little while down the road.

I feel like a caricature of guys I used to scorn as "assholes". I don't treat people like this. I'm an honest man who cares about the feelings of others. I wish I could use my grief, confusion, and general male stupidity as an excuse. But thats not good enough. When you become involved with someone as a friend, lover, or something more, you have some responsibility for their feelings. I've been so damn self-absorbed that I haven't done nearly enough of that. No more. I've always considered myself to be a nice guy. But even nice guys can hurt other people. If anything, they have greater potential to do just that.

I don't have any trouble using grief, confusion, and general male stupidity as an excuse, but that's just me. Still, I know this territory all too well: being alone has its drawbacks, but if someone were to offer to fill in some of this empty space, the first thing I'm going to think is not "Thank you, thank you," but "What's going on here, and what's going to screw it up?"

Not that anyone actually is offering, of course.

So what's the solution? I could just sit home and not date anyone. That would certainly solve the problem. But I crave adult female companionship. Other people who don't have it all figured out are out there dating. I should be able to do it too... right? Part of the problem is that I haven't done much real "dating". I got married when I was young. Got divorced and had a couple of torrid flings. Got married again. Now I'm 43 years old and less experienced in the dating area than your average 23 year old. I don't know the rules and I don't know how to manage the expectations.

I haven't had that second marriage, and I'm eight years older, but otherwise I could have written that paragraph. Sitting at home is the path of least resistance, and I've done quite a bit of that, but I'm doing less of it these days. And what's more important, I think, is that I'm doing less of it without any expectations: if something happens, wonderful, and if it doesn't, well, I'm no worse off than I was, and at least I got out of the house.

One of the reasons I've kept up this site for almost nine years is to document the details of my life while I still have the ability to do so. One unexpected fringe benefit is the fact that when I'm tempted to bewail how nothing ever happens in that life, there's an abundance of evidence to tell me to put down the damn hat already, or at least quit talking through it. And if nobody seems to be rising from the hormonal horizons with the visceral impact of, say, Ursula Andress in Dr. No, well, it could be just that I'm not paying attention.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:02 AM)
14 February 2005
Total number of Valentines received

Zero One, maybe.

Not that I'm surprised or anything.

(And while we're on the subject, allow me to point to my Sixties-obsessed Valentine's Day Mix Tape, 25 songs guaranteed to — well, nothing, actually.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:45 AM)
Love and pain and the whole damned thing

Dawn Eden, recently a topic in the New York Post's infamous Page Six, strikes back on behalf of rather a lot of us:

It's things like that which make one realize there are really two universes: The Mainstream Media and Everyone Else.

The mainstream media forces Valentine's Day down our throats, stating quite clearly that unless a single woman has a hot date on this very day of the calendar, she is a pathetic, unattractive git.

In truth, anyone who knows anything about love knows that there is no guarantee that one will meet the right person at any given point in one's life. One may wish to just fool around in the meantime, but Page Six itself shows on a daily basis the toll of such hedonism, spelled out in bitchiness, superficiality, and backbiting, not to mention abortion and sexually transmitted disease.

Thankfully, there is another way, and — unless your name is Richard Johnson — chances are I don't have to tell you what it is. There are men and women reading this who are dateless today not because they're undesirable, but because they are too wise, deep, and principled to settle for something superficial. Here's to you this Valentine's Day. My heart goes out to you.

Richard Johnson, a name so fraught with phallacy that you'd think it almost has to be a pseudonym, is the editor of Page Six.

(Oh, and if the Post link breaks, as I have a feeling it might, let me know. I have a screenshot.)

(Update, 1:30 pm: Would you believe the Post ran the same piece again, with no substantive changes?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:25 AM)
15 February 2005
The field narrows

Not that I ever had a shot at her or anything, but Jacqueline Passey is swearing off guys until she finishes school. Inasmuch as study requires concentration, and dating borders on being the antithesis of concentration, I don't blame her in the least.

Meanwhile, closer to home, one of the hotties in the adjacent office showed up today sporting a strip of gold alloy with a large crystalline mineral mounted thereupon, excusing her from further participation in the dating game. And really, it's about time: it's always seemed implausible to me that someone hadn't snapped her up by now. Not that I ever had a shot at her or anything.

Fortunately for the likes of me, Valentine's Day is a good 364 days away.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:46 PM)
2 March 2005
Shot down at the fantasy factory

It doesn't happen too often, but when it does, I get to teeter on the edge of sanity for just a few moments and contemplate things that can't possibly be, before the real world reasserts itself and gives me a dope-slap.

And, well, the circumstances were right: a sunnyish (for March) afternoon, traffic crawling at 25 mph, and in front of me, a beautiful (this is my delusion, and I say she's beautiful, so back off) blonde in a Benz.

Not just any Benz, either; this was the SL55 AMG in Arrest Me Red, the first one of these I've seen in the city, and for a moment I had a flash of "Am I even allowed to drive around here?"

After about two blocks, I'd gotten to the point where we'd negotiated the prenup, and after two blocks more, we were flying to Stuttgart to pick up some AMG accessories Mercedes had unaccountably forgotten to include in the car's $124,020 price.

She veered off after half a mile, which at 25 mph takes longer than you'd think, and I wound up a few blocks later inhaling the diesel fumes from a Metro Transit bus. Back to reality. It is a measure of how serious this was that one of my favorite songs ever — the Walker Brothers' "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" — had popped onto the stereo and I didn't even notice.

Wherever you are, Lady Benz, thank you, and I promise to keep my distance.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:29 PM)
8 March 2005
Where the babes are

Kimberly Swygert quotes P. J. O'Rourke:

"It's not that looks matter per se. It's just that beautiful women are always on the cutting edge of social trends. Remember how many beautiful women were in the anti-war movement twenty years ago? In the yoga classes fifteen years ago? At the discos ten years ago? On Wall Street five years ago? Where the beautiful women are is where the country is headed," said my friend.

To which I would add only the following observations:

1. The Neighborhood Association, and therefore the neighborhood, has been getting a steady influx of Major Babes;

2. There are an awful lot of extremely attractive females on my blogroll, most of whom got there long before I had any idea that they were extremely attractive.

Yes, I am that superficial at times. Thank you for noticing.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:29 AM)
12 March 2005
Never tell me the odds

Miss Black and White meets up with a friend, the subject turns to Star Wars, and the truth comes out:

He was surprised and asked me if I knew what this meant. I shrugged. He said, "You know you can have any man you want. It would be like a guy who loves to go shoe shopping. There are three girls on the planet who truly enjoy Sci Fi stuff."

From which proceeds the following:

  1. There are presumably three guys on the planet who enjoy shopping for shoes;

  2. Mere delight in the fact that the store actually has something in my size (I wear a 14 EE) probably doesn't count;

  3. My dance card isn't going to fill up any faster.

And you know, I probably could have cut the last couple of words.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:01 PM)
13 March 2005
Playing the demographics

Women, according to the arbiters of political correctness, are an oppressed minority. I've always thought this was rather a bizarre notion, since women actually outnumber men nationwide, something "minorities" just don't do, and the term "oppression" is open to all manner of interpretations, not all of them consistent with history or with Webster's.

The only time you're likely to hear any mention of female numerical superiority, though, is in discussions of dating, where it is a common complaint that there aren't enough guys to go around. Men will look at this and sniff, "Yeah, right, so where are all the girls?" That's usually my cue to quote the late Jan Berry, who was bound for Surf City, where it's two to one.

There's no surfing to speak of in Bristol, Virginia, but it's almost two to one: 1.85 single women per single man, according to Census numbers and ePodunk. The flip-side is Crowley County, an outpost in the southeastern Colorado plains, where the men outnumber the women by slightly more than two to one.

In my own particular county, I'm facing a small numerical surplus of women, to the tune of twenty percent or so, but it's not a tune I know by heart, and picking it out, note by note, is a difficult task at best. Besides, narrowing the field to the one very specific subset required — "women who will actually put up with the likes of me" — is likely to produce an empty set, and a lot of other empty things besides.

(Suggested, quite inadvertently, by Michael Blowhard.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:31 AM)
1 April 2005
Wondering Y

Guys (of whom I am one of which, to borrow a phrase) tend to be somewhat anxious when contemplating the scary prospect of dating. Women's anxieties go beyond that, as Jacqueline Passey observes:

I and almost all my female friends have been sexually assaulted at some time in our lives, ranging from the very common but minor unwanted grabbing or pinching of body parts, to the less common but unfortunately not rare drug- or alcohol-facilitated date rape, to the thankfully much rarer violent assault and forcible rape. And even despite its relative rareness, I personally have several female friends who have been brutally raped, including one fairly recent incident. Many women are also sexually abused as children, and the abusers are almost always men.

I know that this behavior is not representative of how the majority of men act. Unfortunately, though, it seems that the men who do act this way each victimize several women. So a minority of men are assaulting a majority of women, ensuring that almost all women, through either their own personal experiences or hearing about the personal experiences of their friends, have good reason to feel afraid of men.

I don't know if it's truly a "majority" of women who are thus victimized, but even one is too many.

I'm not being singled out here — if anything, I'm likely to be criticized for being insufficiently libidinous — but I do feel a certain responsibility for this situation, if only because I worry that merely behaving myself might mot be enough to reassure someone who's been beaten up, perhaps literally, in the course of her love life.

Passey suggests that men need to "do a better job of policing their gender," which seems innocuous enough, but I'm inclined to think that those of us who aren't the target of her wrath aren't likely to have much influence on those of us who are: we can snub them, editorialize against them, pull them aside and tell them to clean up their frigging act already, but some of these guys seem to be a lost cause, and all of us, women and men alike, suffer for it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:31 AM)
3 April 2005
Expiration date

Those eHarmony ads on TV make a fuss about "the 29 dimensions that are most important in relationship success," which are presumably revealed in their questionnaire.

Of course, I tend to be drawn to people who give these questions the answers they deserve.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:50 PM)
4 April 2005
First person singular

I think I might have said something like this at some point:

The ability to live without coordinating with an overly hormonal companion is, in a word, liberating. Now I'm certainly no sexist, it's just that, at this point in my life, the cost of maintaining a relationship far outweighs the benefits ... yes, those benefits. Look guys, it's all about will power. At least that's what I tell myself.

Then again, I tend to think of myself as insufficiently hormonal.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:29 AM)
12 April 2005
The old Same place

According to legend, everyone has a twin. Somewhere out there, there's someone who looks exactly like me (shudder) or like you.

I have never quite believed this sort of thing, since it relies almost entirely on anecdotal evidence, the sum total of which simply cannot be equated to actual data.

And then I stepped into the dentist's office and there was one of the 42nd and Treadmill Office Babes — except, of course, that it wasn't.

Now I've been through this sort of thing before, and I have concluded that it's better to say nothing and look a fool rather than to speak up and look even more of a fool. So I scoped her out as best I could without actually going into Stare Mode.

And, well, it was the same face, the same hair (with the same indifferent 'do), the same general curvature. She even crossed her legs at about the same angle, which, once she switched to the other side, enabled me to determine for certain that it wasn't the O.B. (Tattoo, or in this case the lack thereof.)

After about five minutes, another young woman popped through the door to the inner sanctum and the two of them went out together: friends from high school, I guessed.

The O.B. wasn't here today, so I didn't pass on this story to her, and frankly I don't know whether she'd be creeped out by the thought or amused by the idea that it's possible to see her while looking at a girl of eighteen. I'm vaguely creeped out by the thought that I gave it that much thought in the first place.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:14 PM)
18 April 2005
Seek mode

Does this sound vaguely familiar?

With more than 30 million registered text users sending more than 30 billion text messages each month, it's clear that romance seekers ... will not be without a date for long. More than 50,000 people are registered for SMS (short messaging service) in Missouri, with 8,800 in the St. Louis area alone, suggesting that many people are beginning to realize that their cell phone can also be the key to a successful dating life.

Brian J. Noggle can trace this sort of thing back to 1820 or so. And forward, even.

("Shopping, sex and shopping for sex propel all new technology." — Penn Jillette)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:33 PM)
22 April 2005
The womanly art of self-defense

You want to "Take Back the Night"? Jacqueline has a recommendation:

If feminists are serious about empowering women against violence and sexual assault, their time and money would be far better spent organizing (and advertising widely!) subsidized defensive handgun classes for women than putting on hostile, exclusionary marches. Unfortunately it appears that the feminist movement is too wedded to the political left — the main group pushing gun control — to consider that seriously as a primary strategy.

Given my own position on gun control — I'll control mine, you control yours — I'm thinking this is (1) an excellent idea and (2) therefore not likely to be considered by the blah-blah sisterhood.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:47 AM)
2 May 2005
Not that this helps me, particularly

According to this essay on craigslist, there are fifteen reasons why geeky and/or nerdish guys make great boyfriends. One of these, apparently, is fidelity of a sort:

You won't have to worry much about your geek guy getting his "groove" on with club hotties because, frankly, he'll be too busy rooting around under his computer wondering where that spare cable went. You won't have to worry about him flirting with other women because, 9 out of 10 times, he'll zip right by them in a perfect b-line towards the nearest electronics store.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go run Defrag.

(Via the eminently-sane Chris Lawrence.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:16 AM)
6 May 2005
Is this even legal?

Somebody with more than $21,000 to spare is going to buy a Dream Date with Carmen Electra on eBay.

Well, someone 15 to 20 years old, anyway. (The lovely Ms Electra is thirty-three.) And, of course, 17-and-unders can't bid on eBay, but that's another issue entirely.

Meanwhile, I continue to fixate upon [fill in name of female blogger], whose price is far above rubies, let alone Carmen's.

(Via Lawren.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:50 AM)
9 May 2005
Blame it on Rio

Apparently this is Orgasm Day in Esperantina, a town in northeastern Brazil.

I assume it comes only once a year.

(Via Cutting to the Chase.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:43 PM)
28 May 2005
Pattern mismatch

Women, we are told, love spontaneity. Which means, of course, that I am doomed: I pulled up today at a chicken-takeout joint in the Village, and by the time I got to the register, they'd already pulled and bagged my order. I am so predictable. (And I hadn't been there in two weeks, either.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:11 PM)
12 June 2005
Desiderata

While pondering for the nth time my chronic datelessness, I happened upon the greatest personal ad of all time, and it wasn't even a personal. Technically, it was a help-wanted ad, but ... well, read it yourself. The headline was We Need a Girl!

Not just any girl. Not the usual Queen of the Cranberry Festival, but the ONE. A girl you'd climb the fence to get a close-up of. We mean a GIRL! What she must be or have is:

Personality, charm, couth, background, poise, education (why not?), chic, allure, a keen interest in cars and racing, pizazz, duende, vigor, enthusiasm, elegance, blond, brown, white, red (maybe freckles — why not? — we've never had one with freckles) or black hair; she must be loyal, able to talk to the boys in the pits as well as business executives, trustworthy, valiant, emotionally stable, kind, worthy (worthy?), polite, good to her mother, patriotic, single (it's less complicated that way when you're in Florida one day and California the next), compassionate, radiant, serene, sensible (sort of), stalwart, tactful, natural, have a desire to travel, a sense of humor, good health, warmth, personality (we'll say it again), sensitivity, a jet-set figure and sound teeth. The girl selected will become:

Miss Hurst Golden Shifter

She'll be the No. 1 girl in performance circles. She'll appear at all the major racing events. She'll act as hostess at Hurst exhibits and receptions and never, never be bored. It's a full-time job with quite a nice salary.

God knows I could use a little duende around here.

Oh, this ad ran in auto magazines in early 1966, and this is the person selected by Hurst. She'd be about 62 today, and presumably would still meet most of these qualifications easily.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:01 AM)
14 June 2005
Out of my league

I would dearly love to snipe at this guy:

This may not sound like a problem, but it is: My girlfriend is too rich. In a nutshell, I basically feel like crap all the time. We both worked in the same industry, only she's a stock-lottery winner while I was unemployed for almost two years, went broke, and finally moved in desperation to work in the city we both live in. She will not have to work for a very long time (or ever, as far as I can tell), dines like a queen, has a gorgeous house. I live in a small apartment and am ever the exhausted corporate cog, still financially making up for two years of having no money plus living far from friends and family. She travels everywhere, gets plenty of sleep, and generally has/does everything I've ever wanted or dreamed of. She is endlessly kind, smart, hilarious, and I absolutely adore her. But all the while I feel like a Grade A Loser, not to mention not much of a man. The envy and sadness eats at me rather constantly — she has no idea how badly. Am I just a whiner or what? Please advise.

Unfortunately for me, I suspect that were I in the same position, I would emit exactly the same annoying noises. (Does this mean I should be grateful for the attention I don't get?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:49 PM)
26 June 2005
The bin Laden/Dr Phil dichotomy

Per Andrea Harris:

The modern ideal of romantic love has contributed more towards the destruction of Western society than any Islamofascist terrorist could even dream of. Poor Al Qaeda — if only they had turned their energies towards becoming screenwriters and pop song producers. Because after all, what could we do, go to war against love? If you thought the war on drugs was unpopular...

Unfortunately, this would mess up my plans (not yet approved by Darth Rove) for Gitmo, which call for the replacement of those horrid noises by Christina Aguilera with the far-more-wretched sounds of "Honey" and "(You're) Having My Baby," which would make the jihadis' ears bleed in three minutes flat.

"See the tree, how big it's grown...."

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:17 AM)
2 July 2005
Did I miss something?

Pammmela, who slings lattes for the Barista of Bloomfield Avenue, observes:

In the world of dating, women of a "certain age" are faced with less than stellar prospects. Every available female over the age of 40 knows the three types of men:
  • The newly divorced male, who will only date 25-year-olds.

  • The still married male who is looking for a little fun, and will only date 25-year-olds.

  • And the male who has never had a meaningful relationship of any kind, who would date anyone.

Not that there's a thing in the world wrong with being 25 years old, but inasmuch as my daughter is about to turn 27, a fact which injects a certain amount of creepiness into the dynamic as I perceive it (cf. Steely Dan, "Hey Nineteen"), I shy away from women that age, or would if any of them showed the slightest interest, which of course they don't.

Does this qualify me for a fourth type?

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:36 AM)
8 July 2005
Amazon women on the move

It was six-thirty when I saw them rounding the corner: tall, fierce, formidable. I'd be outnumbered by one, but here were two, and fortunately for me, they were happy to see me.

Donna and her sister Lisa greeted me in downtown Newtown, and we promptly descended upon Isaac Newton's and discoursed on dozens of situations of varying gravity.

Lisa disappeared for a moment and returned with Master Beauregard Duke Bebop W. Le Moko, a charming young fellow who was anxious to make friends. (Bobo also got in a few licks at one Harry, a West Highland White Terrier who was heading in the other direction, or so he thought.) A splendid time was had by all, although one question continues to nag at me: Why aren't the guys lined up at her door yea deep? Did beautiful, smart and funny suddenly become disqualifiers?

For those who demand photographic evidence, be assured that it exists, as surely as the Cake Batter ice cream at the Zebra-Striped Whale.

And just as sweet.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:24 PM)
9 July 2005
Has this ever been tried?

This, I mean.

And, were someone truly not interested, would it be treated as spam?

(Via Jacqueline Passey.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:16 AM)
13 July 2005
How to bag a Republican babe

After all, it's in the Weekly World News, so it must be true, right?

(Courtesy of Meryl Yourish, upon whom I would not dare try even one of these lines.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:14 AM)
20 July 2005
At least I try to finish last

I read this over two or three times to make sure it didn't apply to me:

[G]uys who attribute their dating failures to niceness per se are often being self-serving. It's comforting to attribute to excessive niceness what might be better explained by shyness, awkwardness, or other less flattering interpretations. (I'm equally suspicious when Maureen Dowd complains that she can't get a date because she's too intimidating. Frankly, there are more parsimonious explanations.)

Often, the self-proclaimed nice guy wants special credit for just for being nice. It's as if he wants you to exclaim, "Oh, you poor fellow. What a burden it must be to treat women as you'd like to be treated. Above and beyond, old chap. Above and beyond!" I'm all for niceness, but I consider it a basic moral requirement for all humans, not a special bonus feature.

With certain notable exceptions, nice guys don't feel compelled to tell you how nice they are. In my experience, most of the men who explicitly attribute their romantic failures to their own niceness are playing some sort of unendearing head game. Note, I'm not talking about acting nice, considering oneself to be nice, or valuing niceness in others. I'm talking about guys who tell you how nice they are and go on to complain about how women (read: you and your friends) don't appreciate nice guys (read: me). The subtext is that if women (you) weren't so stupid and hypocritical you'd appreciate nice guys (beg to blow me).

She's definitely got a point. As for a "less flattering interpretation" that might apply to me, some mix of "old," "decrepit," "argumentative," "mercurial," "fugly" and "difficulty with forest-spotting due to tree quantity" could approximate it.

(Swiped from Caren.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:47 AM)
23 July 2005
Carpet maintenance

Found at Dr Pants' place:

I can't compete with the girls in Playboy ... because they have full-time pube stylists.

Obviously, you thought I was going with how tan and skinny and well-endowed they are. And they are, no doubt, but this isn't what bothers me. Most men can look around them and see that, in fact, most of the women they work with and see on the streets and in the mall are not gorgeously bronzed size 2s with triple D cups and a bedroom stare. I think they know that Playboy bodies are hardly a dime a dozen.

But you generally don't see the pelvic region on your coworkers, unless you work for said publication or turn tricks on 11th [presumably in Tulsa].

It is for that reason that I am deeply concerned that a generation of men is going to grow up thinking that women are supposed to have a nice, tawny, thin little landing stip of fuzz over their better parts. Let me tell you, it ain't like that. These guys are going to be in for quite a shock when they disrobe to find a veritable Cookie Monster between the legs of their amor.

Well, at least it isn't Chewbacca or Cousin Itt.

For myself, I have not made up my mind what I think about all this — insufficient data, you know — but I will report that once, and only once, I was faced, so to speak, with a freshly-waxed surface, and the circumstances of this are sufficiently bizarre amusing capable of filling up space to warrant recounting here.

The night before, after all, I had sneezed, which is the sort of thing that breaks the mood. She reasoned that maybe something had tickled my nose, and in the proper scientific frame of mind, set about to remove one possible variable from the equation.

And, well, I loved it, though I couldn't tell you, twenty years after the fact, if this was due to actual delight or sheer novelty value. At the very least, it motivated me to do my own brush-clearing exercise, which persisted until we finally broke up.

Although I must confess that I wouldn't recognize a "bedroom stare" even if it came to me from the bedroom.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:42 AM)
27 July 2005
Endangered subspecies

All other problems in Britain having been solved, Her Majesty's Government is now going about the task of abolishing the terms "bachelor" and "spinster", in connection with the Civil Partnership Act which goes into effect in England and Wales in December; individuals qualifying as such will now simply be described as "single."

The Registrar General's office will presumably pressure the Church of England to drop the words, which still appear in the reading of banns of marriage. The Church has indicated that it will resist: "We are quite open to the way language is evolving," said a Church representative, "but we do not see any improvement being made here."

Indeed. "Bachelor" and especially "spinster" may have acquired unfortunate connotations along the way, but connotations are temporary at best, and some of us might even embrace the terms, especially if the proffered alternative is likely to be some sort of euphemistic verbal workaround.

(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:52 PM)
2 August 2005
The adventure of a lifetime

What else could it be?

One fortunate man, and one extraordinary woman. Of such are legends made.

(No, I don't meet the qualifications, but thank you for asking.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:04 AM)
14 August 2005
He fears/she fears

Rather a lot of advertising boils down to "Use our product/service and you will get laid more often." However, you apparently can't use the same approach for men and for women, as Lindsay Beyerstein explains:

I've recently gotten paid to write posters suggesting to men that Viagra may help them lead a more fulfilling life — but we wouldn't dare suggest that anyone actually needs Viagra. Oh, no! Marketing to men's sexual insecurities is all about "you're wonderful, but you could be extra-personally-fulfilled." When marketing to women's sexual insecurities the message seems to be "You are vile, but you could be acceptable."

I don't have any particular sexual insecurities — one of the most secure bets on earth is that my dance card will continue to remain blank — but she's quite right: you let a guy think, even for a moment, that John Thomas won't be up to the task, and you've got the very definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I admit, though, that I don't understand why women would respond to a pitch that tells them that basically they're undesirable and unappealing and generally worthless. Columnist Cynthia Heimel once claimed, "We have no faith in ourselves," and proposed this test:

Walk up to any woman on the street and say, "You know something, sweetheart? You'd look an awful lot better if you lost fifteen pounds. And do you really think that hair style is becoming? Don't you know anything about bone structure? Anyway, with ankles like yours, I wouldn't bother to leave the house."

Instead of the proper response, which would be to deck you, nine out of ten women will apologize, burst into tears, and run away.

I hasten to point out that I have not tried this experiment, and don't plan to do so.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:30 PM)
15 August 2005
In the wanton summer air

Don't they get any points for monogamy? The Boston Parks and Recreation Department discovered last year that Romeo and Juliet, the swans in the Public Garden, are actually both female, but kept the news under wraps lest visitors be disillusioned, or something.

I suppose you could write your own joke here. Me, I'm disinclined to mock a happy couple.

(Via Steph Mineart.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:00 PM)
20 August 2005
Rotsa ruck

I have never placed a personal ad. (Okay, I filled in a profile at OkCupid, but this was so I could get a look at some of their funkier personality tests.) The major reason, surpassing even "What if I got a response?" (which is scary enough), is "What in the world would I say?"

Whatever it would be, I hope it wouldn't come off like this:

The next president of the United States is looking for a female running mate for life. I am a Christian & when I choose a running mate it will be for life. She must be in an excellent physical condition as I am. I love Asians and I love kissing Asian woman & large lips. My mate must send me to heaven with her kisses. Our lips don't have to connect to kiss sometimes your imagination is better than reality. I want to be cocooned by her. I need an alien Asian woman as a running man. Any beautiful woman will do. I'm 49yrs old in top physical condition, & bench press 245lbs & the reason I don't do more is because the Nona less machines I work on only go to 254lbs. I have a perfect smile as I paid for it. I have porcelain veneers. I have women stopping me in the street who don't know me saying "Do you know you have the perfect smile?" I should I paid $40,000 for it! All I needed the day I went to the dentist was a night guard. My dentist told me that I had ground my teeth right down to the bottom under stress. I could wait and do nothing or get porcelain veneers. If I waited and did nothing, next year I would need 28 root canals and $1000 more than the porcelains per tooth. I had a decision to make & I won't tell you what I decided, but the perfect smile. I am 6"4, Blond Hair, Blue Eyes, extremely articulate. I have a bachelor's degree, and I know the cure to cancer and the common cold. They are food supplements I take now. I will treat my woman like a princess and make her a queen if she wants to be! Ladies with accents will take priority. Seeking ages 17-35. Serious candidates only. All interested candidates call John on [number redacted].

(As seen in the Dallas Observer, and referred to yours truly by Aldahlia. I have no idea if she has an accent.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:00 PM)
21 August 2005
He's just not that into ... something

This particular Ask MetaFilter thread (observed at Plep) gave me pause. Here's the opening:

So this guy I have a thing for, but who lives on the other side of the country, is coming to visit and will stay with me for one night. I've had the hots for him since the moment I met him a few years ago. A friend who has seen us together said she definitely detected two-way sparks. Here's the problem: he never makes any sort of move and neither do I, being very insecure. (I'm cute but 30 pounds overweight.) The last time I saw him, he walked me home after dinner and I invited him up (which is as forward as I get and really, can that be taken any other way?) but he declined. Obviously, the likely answer is that he isn't attracted to me. But I can't understand why such a smart, funny and hot straight 40-year-old guy is single in the first place. Could he just be hopeless around women? Here's my shot to find out for good and all. What do I do? The idea is he will sleep in the living room but I want him in my bed. Yet, I don't want to throw myself at him and be rejected and make the rest of the night painfully embarrassing for both of us. I was thinking of asking him flat out over drinks why such an attractive man is single. Is that a direct enough message? How can I make it plain that I'm hot to trot while protecting both of us from embarrassment if the feeling isn't mutual?

(No, this has nothing to do with me. I'm way over 40 and decidedly unappealing, and the odds that anyone would have the hots for me are essentially nil. I will, however, cop to "hopeless around women.")

You probably should read the entire thread. (And if you do, you'll learn how it turned out, or more precisely didn't, turn out.) I'm bringing it up here, though, for the same reason I introduce a lot of stuff here: just to see what kind of responses it brings.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:57 PM)
25 August 2005
Right past me, as always

I was running a little earlier than usual this morning, so I decided to run by the Gazette offices and pick up a copy; I got one yesterday at the store, but it was missing about 16 pages, including the cover story.

(Speaking of the Gazette, I do suggest you read Kurt Hochenauer's op-ed about how the state's progressive/socialist [take your pick] beginnings will likely be totally overlooked by the folks planning the Centennial.)

It was half an hour before sunrise when I turned south on Shartel from 39th, and there were at least a dozen women out for a morning run along the west side of the street. (More had appeared by the time I reached the Gazette office on at 36th.) This is, of course, sensible: once the sun comes up, things get hot in a hurry, and the 70-plus dew points we've had for the last week or two make it worse. Me, I pulled into the far lane and slid into Yearn Mode, and not even the exhortations of Solomon Burke on the stereo ("Got to Get You Off My Mind," of course) could jolt me out of it.

Tomorrow I'm going back down I-44.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:06 AM)
30 August 2005
Am I nerd enough?

Dawn Eden apparently thinks so.

Addendum: Rachel demurs.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:59 PM)
18 September 2005
Tales of the one-handed typist

Note: I have written this three times, rewritten it twice, and maybe twice isn't enough, but dammit, there comes a time when you have to put something out there and take your lumps. On the reasonable chance that some of you are encountering it for the first time on Monday at the office, I've set it after the jump, for reasons which will become distressingly evident.

I used to read Cynthia Heimel's column (called, with disarming simplicity, Women) in Playboy, where it ran as (not necessarily) a counterpoint to Men, by the late Asa Baber. Which led me to seek out some of her other stuff, which is why I remember this passage:

"If only I were a little prettier," she says to the men in the white coats, "and had better skin, and weren't a seething mass of psycho-neurotic schizophrenic paranoic manic depressiveness, someone would very probably love me."

This is a crock, said Heimel:

Ugly women have boyfriends, mean women have boyfriends, hopelessly insecure women have boyfriends, stupid women have boyfriends, women covered with hideous warts have boyfriends.

This would seem to suggest that what we define conventionally as "desirability" is not so essential as contemporary culture insists, which is why I picked up on this Aldahlia assertion:

I live by a simple rule concerning female attractiveness: As long as no one has called you "Grandma" yet, it's entirely likely that every male friend you've got has masturbated to you at least once.

It may be disgusting to consider in some cases. It may sound vain, and presumptuous, and inaccurate. But ... because I'm never gonna actually ask for confirmation, and no one can read their dirty little minds to factually disprove me, I assume that it's a basic law of male/female relations.

This means that my body image is probably healthier than it could be.

That's what it comes right down to, though. Being "pretty" is about attracting sexual attention, and 95% of girls are duly fuckable, so long as they don't smell funny or have oozing sores. And sometimes even that won't get in the way.

Beyond the question of whether "oozing sores" and "hideous warts" are in any way equivalent, this is certainly worthy of attention.

As regards myself, I can say only the following:

  • While I am disinclined to put out a list of, um, fantasy figures, I will state for the record that the upper age limit for same is at least sixty, and has been since I was thirty-five;

  • That word "duly" makes it sound too much like work to suit me;

  • That word "every" makes it sound like I'm falling behind in my work, so to speak.

What I'd like to know, frankly, is whether women are generally repelled by, delighted by, or utterly oblivious to, the thought that someone is thinking of them in this manner — or possibly all of the above, depending on circumstances.

(And while we're on the subject, do the same patterns exist for homosexuals?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:57 PM)
25 September 2005
Something bluer

I wrote this three years ago:

The next office over has a couple of Authentic Beauties. I, of course, strive to avoid them, simply as a matter of maintaining equilibrium; I'll toss out an occasional flip remark, but it never goes beyond that.

Yesterday, one of them (the younger) was sporting an engagement ring. "It's about time," I said. Certainly she thought so; they'd been dating seemingly forever.

And for some reason, this stung me, and I can't come up with any justification for it. I'd never even considered her as a potential companion — she's gorgeous, and she's fairly bright, but she's half my age (more or less literally) and we wouldn't have a whole lot to talk about — so it shouldn't matter if she goes into the Permanently Unavailable file. Yet somehow I mourn, even as I wish her great heaping gobs of happiness, and I mutter deep, dark curses against the person who causes me all this heartbreak.

Which is, of course, myself.

I bring this up because the older of the two got married yesterday — I reported on her engagement here (second paragraph) — and I went to considerable effort during those twenty-four hours to avoid thinking about it, but obviously the reaction won't stay in its cage where it belongs.

I'm thinking I can hold out until the actual wedding photos show up, after which I will probably lose it. (She looks wonderful in pastels.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:42 AM)
28 September 2005
Secret Asian man

I thought I complained a lot about the horrors of the dating scene. [You do.—ed. Shuddup.] Jacqueline Passey has an interesting bit about the romantic gripes of the Asian male:

I'd vaguely heard of complaints about interracial dating regarding white women "stealing" black men and white men "stealing" Asian women before, but I didn't realize just how heartbroken and bitter many Asian men felt about this.

And they don't score with the white girls, either, says one fellow:

"It boils down to the fact that most white girls don't even think about Asian men when they picture a 'datable' guy. The Asian guy they know is a nice guy, is polite, can help them with their math homework — but is never somebody they would fantasize about wining and dining them."

Jacqueline (who incidentally is dating an Asian guy) says:

At this point I realized just how much my teenage boy-like taste in movies has probably warped my brain when it comes to stereotyping Asian men — because when I think "Asian guy" I don't think "nice, polite, math tutor" — I think hot, built, ass-kicking kung fu movie star.

The one Asian guy I know best — he worked at 42nd and Treadmill for some years — is definitely closer to the hot, built, ass-kicking side of the scale. (I have no doubt he could kick my ass.) We won't discuss his math skills.

Somehow, things like this make me feel better; being rejected by everyone suggests a refreshing lack of racial considerations.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:10 PM)
1 October 2005
Protect yourself

The following public-service announcement is brought to you by The Daily Bitch:

Police today warned all men who frequent yacht clubs and dock parties to stay cautious when offered drinks by women.

Females are using a date rape drug called "beer" to target unsuspecting men.

This drug comes in liquid form and is available nearly everywhere.

"Beer" is used by female predators to persuade hapless male victims to go home with them.

Women need only persuade a man to consume a few of these "beers" and then ask him home for no-strings-attached sex, a simple approach that renders most men helpless.

After several "beers," men will have sex with even unattractive women.

Often men awaken with only hazy memories of the night before, a horrible headache, and a vague feeling that something bad happened.

Some really unfortunate men are even separated from their life's savings in a scam called "a relationship."

In extreme cases, females have entrapped unsuspecting males into long-term servitude through a punishment called "marriage."

Apparently, men are much more susceptible to this scam once "beer" is administered.

If you, or some man you know, have fallen victim to this insidious "beer" and the predatory women who administer it, rest assured: male support groups exist in every major city where you can discuss the ugly details of your encounter in an open and frank manner with similarly affected, like-minded guys.

For the support group nearest you, look in the Yellow Pages under "GolfCourses."

You have been warned.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:13 PM)
5 October 2005
All generalizations are false

Including, of course, that one.

One item within the 75k or so of rotating boilerplate that appears in the "It Is Written" section reads: "Man loves little and often, woman much and rarely."

Girlfriday finds this statement questionable, and it might well be. For myself, I can say only that my experience in that baffling man/woman stuff is not likely to produce any words of wisdom.

(Who said it originally? I don't know. It's on a few quotation sites, always credited to that legendary deep-thinker Anonymous.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:26 PM)
10 October 2005
In the dark all cats are grey

Benjamin Franklin, tongue perhaps in cheek (though we'll never know for sure), once explained why younger men should seek out older women, and this is the sentence that always struck me the hardest:

The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend making an old Woman happy.

Not that I have any experience making old women happy — for now, we will overlook the young ones I may have made miserable — but that's not why we're here.

A fellow identified as "Steve Trevor," noting a reference to Harold and Maude in this Donnaville post, commented as follows:

I can tell you, anecdotally, that when I was a 21 year-old college junior, I dated one of my professors, who was 54 at the time.

She was childless, divorced, and had a PhD in British History. She looked about 45, and drove a pretty cool Nissan 300-ZX. We often enjoyed the symphony, opera, and other cultural events.

I loved her dearly; she most definitely provided me with a proper initiation to the finer things in life, and the countless joys of dating older women.

Older women tend to know what they like, and aren't perpetually indecisive. Their physical passion may not be at the same level as younger women, but the emotional intensity and bonds formed are purer, and sweeter.

To all the male readers of the Donnaville, you haven't truly lived until you've dated a woman in her late-40s or older. If nothing else, the experience will provide you with a good life barometer. The fiery intensity of an older woman's kisses, alone, is worth the experience.

I never claimed to have truly lived, and I suspect I would have thought twice before posting something like that to the blog of a woman barely into her thirties, but maybe that's just me and my off-center sense of propriety.

Still, I suspect that there's truth to what he says, and really, there are worse things in life than being on the same side of an issue as Ben Franklin.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:27 AM)
16 October 2005
Just friends

Alicia at LOOK@OKC distrusts the term:

I have decided that it's possible for men and women to be friends if neither of them want anything other than friendship. Of course this mutual lack-of-nookie & love-seekin' is rare. I spoke with an older male friend of mine who admits that many men will lurk about waiting for their chance ... yet after knowing a female for years, he finally accepted that nothing would happen. In a way, he accepted his role as a friend to her.

I have also decided that men and women can be friends if one or both of them is ugly and non-sexual. In my opinion, men find it hard to be on platonic terms with a female they'd want as a bedmate. Women may find this situation equally frustrating, but speaking from experience, there is a line one can draw between "friend" and "other" that is fairly easy to ascertain and respect.

So, I think men can be friends with women they find unattractive. And vice versa. However, once sexual desire and want come into the picture, the rules change ... as do many of the motives.

Well, maybe. I haven't run up against this particular wall, but this is only because my acceptance "that nothing would happen" usually falls within the first twenty seconds of meeting someone.

And I'm not prepared to argue, as Laura does, that "men do not have a clue how to behave around a woman"; surely some of them must, or the species presumably would have died out years ago.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:15 PM)
18 October 2005
The futilitarian approach to dating

Jay Tea admits it:

I love it when a woman is crying and turns to me for help. It makes me feel all manly and wanted and needed. And if it happens to be a woman I happen to care about a bit, that's all the better.

Which he promptly retracted, sort of:

No, on second thought, I don't. It makes me very angry, and that anger is best sated by finding out what made her cry and causing the person responsible to suffer.

The exact definition of "a bit" remains unspoken, but this parenthetical aside at the end of the post gives me pause:

[B]efore anyone starts playing matchmaker between me and my departing colleague, I've considered it — and rejected it. For one, she's nearly 13 years younger. For another, she's just too damned nice — my rougher aspects would steamroller her, and "nice" people like her should be allowed to continue to be "nice," and kept from getting too close to brutes like me.

Apart from the absence of 39-year-old women in my life, I could have written this myself, and probably gotten this scolding from Francis W. Porretto:

Stop playing at being noble and do what you know you ought. Ask her out to dinner. If she's known you for any length of time at all, she's probably been waiting for it. For you to withhold yourself, and all you can offer, out of concern for her is just a rarefied form of cruelty. Besides, just think how much she'll enjoy working on you.

Those of us who were written off as lost causes years ago tend to question that potential level of enjoyment.

And unlike Jay, I don't feel compelled to take action against Person B who made it necessary for me to provide assistance to Person A. I consider that it is my function to provide assistance, and eventually I'll actually get around to doing it; the identity of the person requesting it is largely irrelevant. (Besides, some people react extremely badly if they think you're playing favorites, especially if you are.)

Oh, and "rougher aspects"? I suppose I'd be bipolar, had I a second pole.

(Half an hour later: a couple of phrases added to reflect Jay's corrections in Comments.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:49 PM)
22 October 2005
Love is in the air

Or maybe it isn't. My capacity to judge the condition of the atmosphere is no better than anyone else's, and surely poorer than some.

Then again, I was sitting at a stoplight today behind a black minivan, and the couple therein, in between exchanging words and/or glances, were exchanging brief kisses. This is not something I see particularly often, else I wouldn't have noticed it. I also noticed, mounted on the tailgate, a set of five of the standard-issue Christian fish emblems, two larger ones leading three smaller ones, which I took to be an echo of biological reality for this couple, in which case it's yet another indication that columnist Mark Morford, who for some reason thinks Christians "asexual," is unusually clue-resistant even by the standards of moonbattus barkus sanfrancensis. (Dear Mark: You don't have to worry. You can't be busted for sodomy, even in Oklahoma, for having your head up your ass.)

A couple hours later at the supermarket, and here's a sixtyish couple holding hands as they stride (well, maybe "stride" isn't the right word) across the parking lot.

I never know what to make of what the school administrators have dubbed "public displays of affection." On one level, I want to hurl; on a deeper one, I curse myself for being insufficiently demonstrative, overlooking for the moment the inconvenient fact that there is no one for whom I can perform any such demonstration in the first place. What I can do, though, is fake a smile, put up a brave face. And if that face isn't enough, there should be nineteen others available.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:38 PM)
29 October 2005
How 1 percent of the other half lives

All sorts of interesting things in the November Harper's Bazaar, but the one destined to draw the most controversy, I suppose, is the 12-page Rolex ad with a number of expensively-dressed (of course) women who presumably are not freezing their size-2 behinds off despite being stuck on a glacier.

Mere incongruity, though, matters not. What caught my eye, apart from various expanses of flesh, was this tagline:

ICE IS LIKE A MAN'S EGO. FUN TO CRUSH.

Not that any of us would ever take this personally.

Yeah, yeah, I know, just having a little fun with the patriarchy. Fine. If it takes you a bauble that costs as much as a three-year-old Toyota to provide you with that fun, I have no objections. Just don't plan on sending me the bill, 'kay?

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:57 AM)
31 October 2005
MoDo with no mojo

Lindsay Beyerstein probably isn't buying Maureen Dowd's new book:

Remind me why anyone should take dating advice from Maureen Dowd. This is the woman who regularly uses her New York Times column for content that belongs in an F4M classified ad. Asking Maureen Dowd for perspective on intimate relationships is like asking Judy Miller for advice on journalistic ethics.

If this catches on, I can give out diet tips. But it's only the beginning:

Dowd thinks she's finally gotten the last laugh on those ugly, slutty, Birkenstock-wearing feminists from college. She and her mom knew all along that the feminists were kidding themselves. It's just a Fact of Nature that men hate self-actualized women. Always have. Always will. (Details are sketchy, but apparently Science has established that it has something to do with dopamine and ev psych.)

I adore self-actualized women. I also expect them to ignore my existence, but this is a different matter entirely.

Dowd's bitter takehome message is that women have to play by The Rules, whether feminism endorses them or not. Otherwise, they'll end up as barren old maids in corner offices. Feminism has confused women, Dowd thinks: The women's libbers convinced us that, at least in the abstract, women ought to be able to enjoy sex, power, and money without alienating men. They gave us the (probably correct) idea that it's degrading to hide your personality in order to manipulate some poor sucker into marriage.

I might suggest that what MoDo needs is an all-encompassing, utterly transcendent, and most of all brief affair, just long enough to get the blues out of her system — but then, it's also been suggested that this is exactly what I need. (And never, I hasten to add, has it been suggested by someone actually volunteering for the unpleasant task.)

It's not often I get to quote from both LB and FWP in a single post, but this Porrettoism seems apt:

The woman who wants to improve her relations with men will first clarify her own appreciation of what she wants, including (of course) what she wants from a man. That and only that will make it possible for her to be honest with men — and to know how to deal with them not as enemies, and not with contempt, but from a position of strength.

You make your template, then you start matching shapes. Not before.

Addendum: Lileks observes: "Just for the record: I am married to a Strong & Successful Woman. I have no problem with Strong Women. On the contrary. But I am less than fascinated by Strong Women who have issues like the Roman sewers had mice."

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:18 AM)
2 November 2005
The second mouse gets the cheese

There's very little I can add to this:

Courtship melodies, which are sung at a frequency beyond human hearing, are common among birds, insects, and frogs, but such behaviour in mammals had been thought to be restricted to humans, whales and bats.

The discovery that mice have a gift for song could mark the most significant leap in the understanding of rodents since it was discovered a few years ago that rats have a chirp-like laugh.

I see one parallel in my own life: were I to attempt a courtship melody, I'm sure she wouldn't give a rat's ass, as it were.

(Via miriam's ideas.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:19 AM)
5 November 2005
A lover with a slow hand

Or other appendage as appropriate.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:23 PM)
Lacking in essential Bobness

Just to make one thing crystal clear: "Bob" in this Jacqueline Passey post is not me.

Really. It isn't.

(Nor did commenter David Alexander grow up to be me, either, in case that's occurred to you.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:00 PM)
6 November 2005
Mirror, mirror

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want:

We yearn for something resembling fidelity,
Like an intertwining of sweet dependencies,
Something which surpasses and contains existence;
We can no longer live far from eternity.

So writes Michel Houellebecq in La poursuite du bonheur, and while it's controversial in some circles even to mention his name — in 2002, he opined to the French literary magazine Lire that while your major monotheistic religions were ultimately based on "texts of hate," Islam was the "most stupid," a statement which got him hauled before a French court for inciting racism, a charge which did not stick — what I've read of him reminds me very much of me: part romantic, part misanthropic, and never quite able to reconcile the two.

In a few months, an English translation of Houellebecq's novel The Possibility of an Island is due out, and its thesis is disturbing: the demand for sensuality has increased so much that actual satisfaction has become a remote possibility at best. Ariadne von Schirach writes in der Spiegel:

In his new book, Houellebecq writes that the consistent pursuit of individuality must inevitably lead to the death of love, to a state in which we will be so in love with ourselves that we will no longer be capable of loving anyone else.

I find this prospect unutterably scary. It's no particular secret that I have loosened my leash, become more self-indulgent in recent years, and while my state of mind has "improved" (read: "become less despondent"), possibly as a result, the idea that I might be heading for full-fledged narcissism is chilling in the extreme. (We will ignore for the moment the idea that anyone with a blog is already a narcissist.) And I have written far too much already for the "Love, lack of" entry in the index; the last thing I need is more fodder for the topic.

But self-indulgence, at least in my case, does not equal hedonism, at least not yet. For one thing, I can't afford to be a hedonist: it requires financial commitments beyond my present capacity. More to the point, I wouldn't be a very good hedonist: I would never be able to persuade myself that I deserve what I'm getting. (This might reflect the not-inconsiderable influence of Jack Benny, who, accepting a prize of some sort, said "I don't deserve this award, but then I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either.")

Still, I don't hold myself so far apart from the rest of humanity that I can claim any immunity to its foibles, and if I'm destined to descend into Houellebecq's brave new world of self-absorption and disgruntlement, I want to know about it now, so I can take either countermeasures or drugs. Or both.

(Translation of the opening quatrain by Richard Davis. This piece was inspired, if that's the word — God forbid anyone should find any inspiration in what I write — by this post at doxology. Apologies to anyone whose vision and/or digestion was affected by the Spice Girls reference.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:44 PM)
7 November 2005
What's the opposite of "kismet"?

For some reason, I said this about Maureen Dowd last week:

I might suggest that what MoDo needs is an all-encompassing, utterly transcendent, and most of all brief affair, just long enough to get the blues out of her system — but then, it's also been suggested that this is exactly what I need.

Shed those Dowd-y feathers and fly a little bit? Maybe, maybe not. But the mind reels — at least, my mind reels — at the very idea that MoDo and I might have something in common. (And here's the complete reel.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:54 PM)
9 November 2005
Honey, I canceled your vote

Question from Sister Toldjah:

Would you let someone's political affiliations stop you from dating them?

I'd be more likely to go after someone who didn't use both singular and plural pronouns to refer to the same person (cf. "If you love somebody, set them free" — Sting), but I don't think that's a political consideration.

Actually, I think I'm close enough to the center to be incompatible with both left and right. The real difference will be in fervor: someone of an activist bent will likely despair of my general indifference to all the hate and injustice in this world/all those damn Marxists running around loose [choose one].

I think, though, that for a long-term relationship, it's better if the couple is somewhere within the same chapter, if not necessarily on the same page.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:24 AM)
Order option package MCP

Chevrolet has put out a little twelve-page booklet which I found glued to the inside of one of the car mags this month. It's called MEN, WOMEN AND THE TRUCK, subtitled A RELATIONSHIP HANDBOOK, and the bow-tie boys have managed to work in just about any vehicle-related sexual stereotype you can think of. I mean, here's the opening: GIRLS PLAY WITH DOLLS. BOYS PLAY WITH TRUCKS. LET'S START THERE.

But the real winner is page 10, the last full page of text. It begins, yes, with all caps, LADIES, YOU'RE GOING TO OUTLIVE THE MEN ANYWAY.

Not really fair, is it? Nonetheless, it's statistically true. You need to soften this news with more truck to love — inside and out. The Chevy Silverado Half-Ton Crew should do the trick. Surround him in an available plush leather-appointed interior larger than either Ford or Toyota. Entertain him with an available 150-channel XM Satellite Radio and rear-seat DVD with auxiliary audio/video jacks. Empower him with a wireless remote control. Give him four full-size doors so he and his friends can make the most of this life. Show him that the most distinctive difference between men and women is your generosity and benevolence when it comes to trucks. And heck, when he's gone, the resale on this bad boy is going to be sweet.

If I hear of a copywriter in Detroit being run over by a Silverado driven by his wife, I'm going to assume it's the guy who wrote this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:10 PM)
10 November 2005
It happened just this way

Not from the Sisters Grimm:

Once upon a time, a girl asked a guy "Will you marry me?"

The guy said, "NO!"

And the girl lived happily ever after and went shopping, dancing, drank martinis, always had a clean house, never had to cook, and farted whenever she wanted.

Moral of the story: Martinis give you gas. Or something like that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:40 AM)
Equally joked

File under "too much to hope for":

I love funny guys. I think that, when looking for a relationship, one of the first things I consider is whether a guy can take a joke, and whether a guy enjoys being a tease (in the good way). If a guy can get that perfect balance of self-(or me)-deprecating humor, without erring on the side of offensive or making offhand remarks about my Hello Kitty kitchen appliances, he's an automatic in. If he can get me (and I have only met one man my entire life who can do this — and he has no idea) to forget the line of joke because his comeback is so good, I'd marry him.

"No idea" describes me often enough, but she's definitely not talking about me here.

This is, however, not all that far from my own benchmark. I have a tendency to throw in vague cultural references, obscure bits of text, and a (half-)vast number of puns, and if someone picks up on more than 50 percent of the aggregate, I am duly impressed. (I'm surprised when I understand half of what I say sometimes.) There remains the issue of why someone that smart would want anything to do with me, but I'll deal with that in the unlikely event that it actually comes up.

And if we must mock Hello Kitty, let it be for the bedroom appliances.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:11 AM)
13 November 2005
Beyond mere personal ads

A British woman has taken out newspaper ads seeking a boyfriend for her daughter. Applicants should be single, 24 to 30, geographically acceptable, and must produce a 500-word essay detailing their qualifications. The young lady in question is twenty-four, a student, and has a six-year-old son from a previous commitment. Appearance is not a major criterion, though "Brad Pitt lookalikes will not be rejected out of hand".

Meanwhile in Denver (first spotted at Okiedoke), a woman in her late forties is offering a package deal: buy her house, and she comes with it. Asking price is $600k, which doesn't seem out of line for the Washington Park area of Denver, especially given the amount of work she's supposed to have put into it — I pulled up some MLS listings in 80209 and even the smaller bungalows start in the 400s — but, you know, some things are harder to appraise than others. I bounced this premise off a few women of similar age, and they were somewhat suspicious of the entire venture.

I'm inclined to think that Maureen Dowd isn't going to be trying these particular ploys any time soon.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:10 AM)
18 November 2005
Where are all the gamma girls?

From Souldanse:

Researchers have apparently found that men prefer long-term relationships with subordinates rather than co-workers or supervisors. Women, however, showed no significant preference for socially dominant men, or for socially inferior men. They appear to hanker for their peers — while, sadly, their peers are at Applebee's hitting on the women who bring them their burgers and pies.

I always assumed that alpha men wanted alpha women, that kings wanted queens. Not so. I guess that holds true only for wolves.

In addition, British researchers have recently "discovered" that the higher a woman's IQ, the fewer prospects she has for marriage. (Jane Austen could have told them that.) To be a droll, dry, wry, sarcastic or clever woman is deadly, apparently. (Yes, you may point out the example of Mr. Darcy, who loved Elizabeth Bennet's witty repartee, but I still say he's secretly gay.)

Down here on the bottom rung, I myself have no subordinates, but I've seen this phenomenon in action, and it's not pretty. (Another reason to avoid fishing off the company pier, despite the occasional presence of cute fish. Besides, not one of them has expressed the desire for a bicycle.)

I can't, of course, address the king/queen issue, inasmuch as I don't know jack.

(Mr. Darcy gay? What did I miss during my last reading? Surely it can't be because his first name is "Fitzwilliam".)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:08 AM)
19 November 2005
I guess it cures headaches

Unfortunately, I don't see any reason to stock up on this, though I did briefly entertain the idea of buying a case and FedEx-ing it to Maureen Dowd.

(Via Mister Snitch!)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:00 PM)
23 November 2005
No, no, I said 'Grand Forks'

This survey by Men's Fitness and Shape asserts that the horniest women in America are found in, um, North Dakota.

Somehow I just knew it had to be a state with a very small population.

(Via Joshua Claybourn.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:54 PM)
25 November 2005
It's those damnable prepositions

Jennifer of I Make Out with Geeks approvingly quotes Maureen Dowd:

Smart men are better in bed because they're more imaginative and more studious, pouring over a woman as though they're getting their master's degree in her.

Does that count as lab work?

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:24 PM)
26 November 2005
Fine for parking

"Beware the Frabjous Brassiere-Latch,
More frumious than the Bandersnatch!"

A commentary by the late Allan Sherman, circa 1973:

Dear Reader: If you have tears, shed them now for the ardent young lad of those years, on the night of his first conquest. Pity him, sitting there in the front seat of a borrowed car, both emboldened and embarrassed by the throbbing of his own erection. This boy had to know not only how to dress and undress himself, but how to disrobe a silent, uncooperative girl in almost total darkness, with one hand from behind — and with no practice except a few stolen moments in the attic with his sister's brassiere and his mother's dressmaking form.

Wish him well, for this will be his first live encounter with the diabolical American brassiere-latch. Pray for his quivering fingers as they make first contact with this engine of torture, with its treacherous snarl of hooks, snaps, clasps and traps.

Women's brassiere-latches in 1940 America looked like innocent little pink satin rosebuds, but each one secretly contained a special spring-loaded delayed-action guillotine, ready to snap off unwelcome boyfingers at the slightest movement of the concealed hair trigger.

Build a better mousetrap, the saying goes — and with the brassiere, Yankee Ingenuity did exactly that. But the true stroke of genius was the new bait. The old-fashioned mousetrap was loaded with cheese; nobody cares much about cheese, except mice. But when American Know-How reloaded the brassiere with tits, every heterosexual male in the country was hopelessly trapped. (Remember — at that time, tits were available only in brassieres. If you wanted a tit, you had to open up a brassiere to get it. It was something like eating a lobster. Trouble, but worth it.)

This passage has troubled me for many years — what the hell were they putting into those undergarments beforehand? Kleenex? — but it never occurred to me to challenge the basic truths at its core: I still have scars from an encounter with underwire.

And it appears that things have not necessarily improved for the next generation, either.

(Via Michael Blowhard.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:38 AM)
30 November 2005
Between vignette and vinaigrette

I am not particularly fond of the erstwhile cast of Friends, and of the three female leads Jennifer Aniston was always my third choice, but I must defend her against this absurd John Derbyshire blast:

While I have no doubt that Ms. Aniston is a paragon of charm, wit, and intelligence, she is also 36 years old. Even with the strenuous body-hardening exercise routines now compulsory for movie stars, at age 36 the forces of nature have won out over the view-worthiness of the unsupported female bust.

It is, in fact, a sad truth about human life that beyond our salad days, very few of us are interesting to look at in the buff. Added to that sadness is the very unfair truth that a woman's salad days are shorter than a man's — really, in this precise context, only from about 15 to 20. The Nautilus and the treadmill can add a half decade or so, but by 36 the bloom is definitely off the rose.

"Salad days," indeed. I don't know where Derb's eating these days, but surely he knows that it's the dressing that makes the salad: otherwise, what you have is nothing more than a bowl of wet vegetables. (Should I wish it undressed, I will order it so.)

I know too many gorgeous women over 46 to believe this nonsense.

(Via Is this blog on?)

Update, 1 December: Derb keeps digging:

Conservatives, as I recall, are the ones who believe that "human nature has no history." It follows that we are at ease with the fact that the human female is visually attractive to the human male at, or shortly after, puberty, and for only a few brief years thereafter.

Civilized male conservatives, among whose number I very much hope to be counted, regard the visual attractiveness of women as a welcome lagniappe in the grand scheme of things, other attributes being far more important practically all the time, and those other attributes being the grounds for our respect.

So, John, how about those farm subsidies?

(Anything to get him off this topic.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:25 PM)
3 December 2005
Some assembly required

Cue Neil Young:

My life is changing in so many ways
I don't know who to trust anymore
There's a shadow running thru my days
Like a beggar going from door to door.

I was thinking that maybe I'd get a maid
Find a place nearby for her to stay.
Just someone to keep my house clean,
Fix my meals and go away.

There are people who to this day believe Neil Young was some sort of male chauvinist pig for writing this song, mostly because they focus on that second verse without paying any attention to the first. In context, it's clearly more sorrowful than sexist, even allowing for the fact that Neil would sound mournful singing the likes of "Walking on Sunshine," but even if a W-2 form is involved, it's still the master/servant dynamic, and therefore, in our "enlightened" age, it must be horribly wrong. (Call me when Hollywood leftists start taking out their own trash.)

On the other hand, no one, myself included, is going to complain about this idle musing of Laura's:

[I]t's time for science to invent a robot. I'm thinking a cute guy, who looks about my age, slim, wears western attire, knows horses, is loving, warm, good in bed, knows how to listen, can cook, etc.... He would know how to snuggle, wouldn't mind helping with housework, and doesn't ever get depressed or angry.

Then, on those days I feel the need to be alone, I could turn him off.

I'm willing to bet, though, that were I to express a desire for a girlbot of comparable complexity and capacities, I'd catch all kinds of hell.

Addendum, 4 December: I found this on a LiveJournal:

Problems usually arise when one party to union mangles definitions: when husband (lover/living partner) expect his counterpart in love / cohabitation to perform service jobs unpaid, as part of "good wife / child rearer / soulmate" character. Part of Victorian atavism: a provider husband and housekeeping wife. Again, an honest arrangement, basically a barter of skills.

Too often, however, despite realities of contemporary life, when both partners work outside of home, only one party is expected — and not only in her partner's eyes — to do a second shift as cleaner / cook / decorator / nanny / tutor etc. I heard someone who express her dissatisfaction with this extra unpaid work load to be called "unkind" and even "unfeminine" by her long-time partner.

Of course, different people come to different domestic arrangements; attitude-wise I find one example to be ideal: Lileks family.

When I was married, things weren't precisely egalitarian, but my cooking and accounting skills were inferior to hers, so I assumed more responsibility for cleaning and laundry, at which I was reasonably competent.

I think both of us would have appreciated some mechanical assistance.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:48 AM)
14 December 2005
On the verge of desiccation

I know a dry spell when I see one:

I was unprepared for marriage when I tied the knot at 24 with an equally unprepared woman. We stayed married for twelve years. Our dysfunctions remained dormant as we fought side-by-side thru countless non-marriage-related battles. We were a hell of a team as long as we had a common enemy. However, once we were both out of college, working well-paying jobs, and focusing on the future, things got easy. Too easy. Without those common enemies, our marriage got stale and fell apart. As did the few relationships I was involved in after the divorce.

I didn't make it to twelve years, but I do have the "Been there, done that" T-shirt.

And I do recall a few things that sound like this:

I miss having the interaction of another person in my life. I know how to deal with myself and my quirks. (Well, most of them...) Being with another is what's missing. I miss the companionship and the conflict and the commiserating and the sharing of Sunday morning breakfast. Life — just like a relationship — brings about a swirling river of difficult sacrifices, unexpected complications, and competing demands. At least in a relationship, there's a woman on the other bank of that river!! I've long ago thrown off the notion of blissful abandon, where nobody says the wrong thing, where nobody gets their feelings hurt, where nothing goes awry. That's the stuff of Hollywood and the (pulp) literary world. I'm much more pragmatic about love and relationships at my semi-advanced age. A healthy relationship should be equal parts romance, individuality, and mutually-beneficial business arrangement. To make it all work requires effort, optimism, patience, and occasional mumbling to oneself in the basement.

Then again, I said to someone at the shop today:

Most of my love life seems to have been covered in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; if I need to go through that sort of thing ever again, I'll just buy the damn DVD.

Maybe I'm getting too old for pragmatism.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:04 AM)
19 December 2005
Cuomosexual tendencies

Weezer lead singer Rivers Cuomo says he's remained celibate for two and a half years, and that it's not particularly difficult:

Abstinence doesn't require as much self-discipline anymore. We never had any serious groupies, anyway. Our generation got screwed.

Or didn't get screwed, as the case may be.

To all you guys who started garage bands in the hopes of meeting girls: you have my deepest sympathies.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:36 PM)
23 December 2005
She's just not that into you

Been here, seen some of this:

A woman has a close male friend. This means that he is probably interested in her, which is why he hangs around so much. She sees him strictly as a friend. This always starts out with, you're a great guy, but I don't like you in that way. This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, You have a great resume, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we're not going to hire you. We will, however, use your resume as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But, we're going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn't work out, we'll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired.

(Via Scipio by way of Chris Lawrence.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:24 PM)
27 December 2005
It was just a matter of time

Table for One

No, you can't have a copy.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:16 AM)
9 January 2006
Things to do in [trochee] when you're dumped
  1. Register your ex's name as a domain and whine about her for ten pages.

  2. There's a 2?

(Via Cruel.com.)

Update, 11 January: Well, this is cute. There's a comment here, identified as from a member of a police department I shall not name, requesting information on this matter. I, of course, didn't have any, and said so. This is the response I got:

There has been a complaint submitted to the [municipality name redacted] Police Department. I would appreciate a phone call. These postings are irritating in nature and would be appreciated if they were taken off the site.

Inasmuch as there is no indication that any of the other half a dozen or so sites who picked up on this link received any similar communications, I'm going to assume that the major objection was actual mention of the town name in the title. Since it's largely irrelevant except for prosodic purposes, I've opted to delete that name; I've also fuzzed up the comment for concealment purposes. (No sense blowing his cover.)

On the other hand, if I deleted everything that might irritate someone, you'd be looking at a blank page right about now.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:01 AM)
10 January 2006
Holding out for a heroine?

In a statistical sample, the mode is the value which occurs most often. It might be near the median, but it doesn't necessarily have to be: not all curves make nice bells.

Which is by way of introducing Tyler Cowen's concept of the Modal Spouse:

I define a modal wife (or husband) as a person you would have married (could have married?) had you met them at the right time, unattached, and under normal life conditions. The number of modal wives is typically greater than or equal to the number of real wives, although clever philosophers will recognize possible [sic] counterexamples.

Under one view, you have hundreds or thousands of modal wives, most of whom you never meet. (How many does the average person meet, how soon do you know when you meet one, and how confused would you be if they were all in the same room at once?) Your correct dating strategy is to cast your net very widely, and hope to find and marry one of these people.

This is, of course, not the only view available:

Under another view, modal wives are no big deal. Your so-called "modal wives" are no better for you than, say, the best woman you could pick out of a lot of thirty eligibles. The key inputs for a good marriage are attitude and a minimum degree of compatibility, not search and discovery.

If this is true, searching for modal wives, or perhaps even thinking about the concept, can make you worse off. The quest for the perfect mate makes it harder to come to terms with what is otherwise a compatible marriage. Which perhaps is all you are going to get anyway. Marriage is good for you, and don't be too fussy, this is not iTunes. Too much choice, or too much perceived choice, is problematic.

Wait a minute. There are thirty eligibles?

This is, in essence, a restating of the old principle that "the perfect is the enemy of the good," which goes back at least as far as Voltaire. And settling for what you can get (call it Option Two) is presumably more likely to produce positive results than waiting for what you think you really want (Option One).

Except, of course, that I've already exercised Option Two, and made a botch of it. (Well, I had help; normally it takes two pairs of shoes to kick a marriage to the curb.) Bottom line: either a choice which has proven itself to be suboptimal, or a choice which likely will produce no results whatsoever. It might be easier just to throw I Ching.

Out the window, if need be.

(Via Jacqueline Passey.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:22 AM)
Advantages of Western civilization

Somehow I can't imagine this catching on in the States:

According to the religious edict issued by Rashad Hassan Khalil, a former dean of Al-Azhar University's faculty of Sharia (or Islamic law), "being completely naked during the act of coitus annuls the marriage".

The religious decree sparked a hot debate on the private satellite network Dream's popular religious talk show and on the front page of Sunday's Al-Masri Al-Yom, Egypt's leading independent daily newspaper.

I've got to wonder if this is why he's the former dean. But it gets better:

During the live televised debate, Islamic scholar Abdel Muti dismissed the fatwa: "Nothing is prohibited during marital sex, except of course sodomy."

"Of course"?

For his part, Al-Azhar's fatwa committee chairman Abdullah Megawar argued that married couples could see each other naked but should not look at each other's genitalia and suggested they cover up with a blanket during sex.

Suddenly, demure Wendy Shalit comes off as a wild-eyed libertine.

The only way this could possibly be beneficial is if one of the participants looks like me.

(Via aldahlia.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:37 PM)
20 January 2006
Lonely weakened

The Snitchmeister recommends that I read this book, and of course I shall, since it fits neatly into an ongoing research project, something along the lines of "If I'm so wonderful, why am I stuck at home this Friday night?"

Short answer: "The Hornets are playing the Wizards."

Entirely too long answer:

To borrow a phrase, I live with dust on my heart. It's uncomfortable, it impedes breathing, and it probably smells funny too. It is not, however, particularly lethal.

This paragraph by one of Glenn Reynolds' readers has been getting lots of play this week:

As a 48-year-old never married single man still in decent shape, successful and now retired, and having weathered the "feminist" cultural storm still raging since my teens, I can tell you that even your having read Norah Vincent's book, you STILL have no idea of the anger, the hatred, the vengeance and the pain so many otherwise attractive and available women are afflicted with. It is an epidemic of conflict and self-distortion that begins and ends with an impenetrable sense of entitlement, based on a false sense of victimhood, and for which not just any man but every man must pay forever for the restoration that's never good enough.

As a 52-year-old once-married (score that as a fluke) single man in suboptimal condition, hardly successful and a long way from retirement, I can tell you that while I have no doubt that some such women may indeed exist, I've never seen one: at least I've never been subjected to lengthy expositions of said anger and hatred and vengeance and pain, and I went to the trouble and expense of buying Maureen Dowd's book with the expectation of actually finding one. What I got was snark and petulance and more snark, which is something less than endearing, I suppose, but hatred? Not even close.

So maybe it's just me? Certainly I don't suffer from an exaggerated sense of entitlement:

My birthright, so far as I know, is to draw a finite number of breaths, and that's the end of it; anything else that happens during the interim is a matter of chance.

Nor do I buy into the notion that there's someone for everyone: there is a certain amount of symmetry in the world, but not that much.

But sometimes the simplest explanation is the most plausible. Love is two souls moving in the same direction; my particular path, torturously winding and lacking in both definition and destination, can be safely presumed to be of no interest to anyone but me.

Had I that sense of entitlement, I could rail about the general unfairness of life. But Babylon 5's Marcus Cole has the better argument:

You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.

There is no one for me, and there is never going to be. I accept this situation with approximately the same composure, even complacency, with which I accept my utility bills; I may complain once in a while, but the only rational response is to write the checks and live another month.

And, of course, to catch the Hornets game. (They're playing the Wizards tonight.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:09 AM)
23 January 2006
Greatest pickup line ever

Oddly enough, it showed up in the Mayor's State of the City Address:

A friend of mine was recently sitting in a restaurant and noticed a woman kept staring at him. Every time he glanced in that direction, she was staring at him.

After this continued for several minutes he finally went over and approached the woman. He said, "I couldn't help but notice that you keep staring at me."

The woman blushed and said "I'm sorry, but you look just like my third husband."

The man was a little flustered and all he could mutter in return was, "How many times have you been married?"

The woman said, "Twice."

I'd be flustered. Flummoxed. Flabbergasted, even.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:00 AM)
24 January 2006
Regular issues

Lesley has a list of things she'd just as soon never again hear spoken by some guy, and I suppose it (sort of) speaks well of me that I've only said one of them myself.

(When I was in fifth grade. Sweden and Finland, as I recall, were also in Scandinavia.)

And this would seem to be so obvious as to go without saying, but apparently not everyone has caught on:

If you want to have a relationship, you will need to put up with the other person's issues. The key is to figure out which issues you can deal with and which you cannot. If you are having trouble finding someone who has issues you can deal with, the problem is likely with your expectations, not with the vast majority of the opposite sex. (Nor, incidentally, should it be particularly shocking that a group of people with similar experiences will share similar issues.)

Actually, my problem is with finding someone who can deal with my issues, which are vast (or at least half-vast) and complex, reason enough, I suppose, to keep the door closed.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:24 PM)
29 January 2006
Long walks on the beach, my eye

Kathleen Fasanella pulls from her vintage book collection an odd little 1945 tome by Thomas Horton called What Men Don't Like About Women, and I suppose, judging from her description, it could just as easily have been titled Are Women Necessary?

With the war on, I don't know how he got it published although he does write excruciatingly well. He's also vitriolic, contemptuous, misogynistic and contradictory; the only women he thinks are of any value are prostitutes. For some reason, he likes prostitutes, considering them to be virtuous gems of femininity.

There's an article by Horton under the same title in the July 1939 Esquire, which suggests to me that he put out a couple thousand words, was thrilled to see them in print, and thus spent the next six years, four of them possibly in uniform, thinking of ten or twenty thousand more. Here's a sample from the book:

Occasionally life gets so complicated that the only refuge seems to be a walk — in the park, on the sea shore, or just in the street. When a man gets into his funk, eternal romantic that he is, he often picks for his companion a woman — to his boundless regret. The fact is that it is absolutely impossible to have a pleasant time walking with a woman. She will stop at store windows, she will chatter about her bowel movements, she will relate the sad tale of what her nephew said last Thursday to her uncle from Poughkeepsie, she will orate on the value of women getting together to reduce the price of fur coats for working girls, and so on — when all the man wants is the mere presence of a silent sympathizer. The result of such a walk, of course, is that the man returns home in lower spirits than before — and determined never to see that chatterbox again.

Truth be told, were I a girl, I don't think I'd hang around this guy either; I mean, he just stands there and doesn't say a word.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:40 AM)
3 February 2006
Reasons not to reverse a vasectomy

1. It may not work.

2.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:25 PM)
7 February 2006
You should see the questionnaire

I swiped this off a message board and cleaned up some (though by no means all) of its all-too-numerous offenses against the English language. It's, um, different:

I think since we have a registry for sex offenders and violent crooks we should have [a] registry for grotesque, desperate and unconfident singles. This would save those of us who are attractive and confident from dating those out there who are clearly losers and do not deserve dates or relationships. Just think of it the next time you are asked to go on a date with someone you look them up and find out if they're a loser or not. Then you could tell them you know they're a loser and to get lost. I know it would save us all tons of time. Besides do we really need the dateless wonders and one date wonders procreating. I think not. The only ones of us that should be procreating are those that are beautiful, confident and talented. Just think how much money we would save on welfare alone. The savings could pay off the national debt.

I really don't see what this would do that likely couldn't be accomplished by some judicious Googlage.

And if I'm reading this correctly, those who are "attractive and confident" apparently don't make these judgment calls very well, or they wouldn't need the registry to begin with. At the very least, that should shake their confidence, n'est-ce pas?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:20 AM)
8 February 2006
Unless, of course, you're binomial

At what time of the day are you the most sexually responsive?

Here's the formula:

AL / T + 10 x AG / SF x G = TOTAL / 60 = sexiest time, where:
AL = Represent units of alcohol consumed each week
AG = Your age
SF = sexual frequency per week
G = Gender ( Male - 2, Female - 1.5)
T = Sex time preference ( 1.5 - Mornings, 2 - Evenings)

Add or subtract your answer to or from 6am (e.g +11.75 means 4.45pm is the best time to hit the sack, if you scored -4, 2am is nookie time for you)

And so Samantha tried it, and this is what she got:

0/2 +10 x 30/3 x 1.5 = 150/60 = 2.5

So, since it's in the positive, I add two and a half hours to 6 am, and that means I need a visitor around 8:30 am.

I need hardly point out that if I try this, it violates a sacred rule of mathematics: the one about dividing by zero.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:16 AM)
9 February 2006
Quote of the week

From James Joyner, on a theme I've surely mentioned before:

Not only has it never occured to me that beauty and brains are mutually exclusive — indeed, my experience has almost always been that when it rains, it pours — but I can't even imagine what one might do with a stupid woman on the second night. Well, certainly, the second week.

Suggestions, within reasonable bounds of decorum, are welcomed. (By me, not by James, who is happily spoken for.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:08 PM)
12 February 2006
O brothers, where art thou?

It's true that you never go back, says Susan Crain Bakos in the New York Press:

I am sure there must be some black men who aren't good in bed. Personally, I have not experienced one who isn't. (True, I am not dating down the socioeconomic ladder, but I didn't do that when I dated white either, so the racial comparisons seem valid and fair.) They look better than white men, they touch and kiss and make love better than white men. Statistically, their penises are only a fraction of an inch bigger on average, but they seem bigger and harder.

White men over 40 have lost their waistlines and their zest for life — if they ever had it. They carry resentments, grudges and extra pounds in their basketball bellies. Perhaps a good part of that bloat is unhappiness. Even the thin ones look flabby somehow and deeply aggrieved. They nurse the smallest perceived slight longer than their double shots of Scotch. Surely our culture as much as biology turns them into softer, spongier, less-interesting versions of their youthful selves just at the point where women and black men and other minorities are emerging strong. Society overvalues the white man, leaving him angry and bitter when he realizes, around age 40, that he's not all that.

Personally, I figured out that I wasn't "all that" around the age of nine; the flab came quite a bit later. (The anger and the bitterness, well, that's another topic.)

And really, this fits with something I've been saying all along: women have a template for what they're looking for, and another one for what they're not looking for, and they wield them with micrometer precision.

Besides, this explains Barry White better than anything else I've read. (Don't believe me? Imagine any Barry White record sung by an actual white guy, and admit defeat.)

What I missed from the Bakos article is any suggestion that she's eventually going to give up the dating game and settle down with one of these gentlemen, but maybe that's just projection on my part. And I'm not going to suggest that, say, Maureen Dowd could get her groove back with a Taye Diggs type, but weirder things have happened.

(Via Michael Blowhard.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:46 AM)
14 February 2006
Valentine depository

Actually, I'd have better luck putting up a tip jar, but what the hell.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:29 AM)
Verse for the occasion

Donna's is better, but mine is longer, so to speak.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:46 AM)
Don't touch my sausage

A suspiciously-timely survey by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation (and who knew we had one of those?) with the assistance of Domino's Pizza says that it's possible to predict a couple's compatibility by their pizza toppings:

[T]hose who prefer more non-traditional topping combinations, such as pineapple and onion, are most romantically compatible with people who prefer similar non-traditional toppings.

If you prefer traditional single-meat toppings like pepperoni, your ideal match is a person who likes a pizza loaded with meat toppings — someone who is extroverted.

The survey said those who prefer multiple vegetable toppings tend to be introverted and that people who don't like or want any toppings are a mystery.

Or perhaps they're just cheesy.

Inasmuch as Domino's is reportedly involved with this survey, I'm wondering why they didn't pose the question I'd most like answered: "Will she come in 30 minutes or less?"

(Via Fark.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:08 AM)
The lure of the forbidden

The office — not my office, of course, but the one adjacent — contains surprisingly high levels of babeliciousness. (On a whim, I sent that word to Google, and it asked me if I meant "bootiliciousness"; the answer is "Not necessarily.") As one of the mainstays thereof was loading up her car for the trip home, I was bouncing some of my Standard Frivolous Ideas off of her; she was as polite as she could be without actually having to listen to me.

She started up the car, I retreated, and I discovered quickly enough that I'd been seen. "You still like her, don't you?"

My preachy side roused itself to the fore. "Once they're off the market, it's worse. Always."

It occurs to me that this bit of romantic pragmatism probably wasn't precisely the explanation she wanted to hear, but in my experience, it's almost invariably true. There's another one, same shop, 15 years or so younger, who used to be way cute. Now that she's tied the knot, she's freaking gorgeous.

And it further occurs to me that if this also works in reverse, it would help explain the lack of names on my dance card.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:30 PM)
16 February 2006
Floral and hearty

File this under "Why didn't I think of that?"

If any female juniors at Cypress Bay High School [Weston, FL] weren't aware of classmate Paul Kim — they know him now.

The 17-year-old junior ordered 500 red roses and had them delivered to nearly all his female classmates on Valentine's Day. A card attached to the roses said, "To all the lovely ladies of 2007, here's wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day. Affectionately, Paul Kim."

"To me, Valentine's is a special day," Kim said. "I realized that not many girls would get anything and it would be an ordinary day. I figured I'd take the initiative and put a smile on their face."

I have to agree with Samantha Burns on this:

Either this kid is going to have to schedule dates from here 'til his high school graduation or he will become the laughing stock of the entire school.

Having been the latter in my day, I hope the former befalls him.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:40 PM)
18 February 2006
Do unto me, dammit

Ace is all over this "sicko marriage contract" which specifies all manner of things which the Master of the House requires: "one matrimonial innovation after another," says Ace.

Except, as you may have guessed if you've read anything I've written in the last decade, that it's not exactly innovative; Prince Buster made a record out of this premise forty years ago. (It was not a hit in the US; then again, what would you expect from a ska record released on Philips, fercrissake?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:44 AM)
19 February 2006
Cultural mavens, all of us

Darla has identified what she calls the Fantasy of the Good Life, and it goes like this:

This mostly applies to romance novels, chick lit, and women's fiction. I haven't seen this phenomenon in any other genre. Obviously, it doesn't apply in sf/f.

It seems that an inordinate number of characters, regardless of their personalities or how they grew up, know all about:

  • fashion (a bricklayer can distinguish Armani from another designer from across a crowded room)
  • wine
  • flowers (even self-professed black thumbs know the names of every flower they encounter)
  • classical music (a woman who grew up in a slum can name a Vivaldi concerto in 6 notes or less)
  • perfume (every man and most of the women can identify a woman's brand of perfume at 20 paces)

My theory is that the authors who do this are trying to portray the characters as living The Good Life, and that these details aren't necessarily things that the authors themselves are all that familiar with, but they're things they imagine would be important to living The Good Life. It kind of goes along with the stereotype of women being into shopping and fashion, and looking for status in a mate as opposed to physical attributes (stereotype! I said stereotype!).

Which may explain why you don't see this in science fiction/fantasy, since the author's concept of The Good Life therein is likely worlds away, so to speak, of what we might aspire to in the land of Manic Mundane.

But I'd rather have the stereotyping, such as it is, than some vapid attempt to impose some sort of cultural "authenticity," itself a stereotype, on the characters: it's not useful to have someone drawl just because he grew up in Lubbock, nor to have him fighting said drawl just because he grew up in Lubbock. The object lesson for me came about 15 years ago, when I met a young black woman, maybe not incredibly gorgeous but certainly credibly gorgeous, who worked in the medical field and who was a major Elton John fan; for some reason it took me quite a while to adjust to this particular reality, as though African ancestry would somehow prevent someone from listening to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." I'm incoherent enough in the presence of beauty, so this bit of silliness made matters much, much worse, and I truly hope that she's forgotten my existence. (Inasmuch as we never had an actual date, I think this is likely; on the other hand, really blatant stupidity is hard to erase from the memory banks.)

On a scale of 0-10, this is how I'd estimate my expertise on the cultural indicators given:

  • fashion: 3
  • wine: 2
  • flowers: 4
  • classical music: 5
  • perfume: 1

Then again, were someone like me to appear in a romance novel or in "chick lit" (surely there ought to be a better name for it than that), he would almost certainly be the guy the heroine avoids at all cost.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:04 AM)
27 February 2006
Refloration

I am normally not one to grumble about plastic surgery — hey, it's your body — but this seems a trifle weird:

Women have resorted to backstreet hymen repair for centuries in religions and cultures in which marrying as a virgin is sacred and losing your "maidenhead" before matrimony can mean shame, or even being put to death. But an increasing number of women ... are now electing to be "revirginised" using modern techniques as a purely cosmetic or lifestyle choice, to "put the sparkle" back into their marriage or give their husband a surprise on the second honeymoon.

They usually opt also to have one of the new "designer vagina" procedures, such as tightening up of the vaginal canal slackened by childbirth, or the cosmetic trimming of enlarged labia.

Even if I didn't live in a place where tattoo shops are illegal, I might think this was a bit much. Then again, I own no such, um, plumbing, so perhaps it's not for me to say.

Of course, if a monologue should ensue, I reserve the right to dismiss it as so much twaddle.

(Via McGehee, who also resisted the obvious "cherry" jokes.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:15 PM)
3 March 2006
Bombshells of the Mesozoic

Okay, not that early, but get a load of this:

Thanks to a food shortage and a man shortage about 10,000 years ago, men were in such demand they had their pick of mates.

With so much competition among women to find a mate, nature and evolution kicked in to give some cave women a distinctive look to attract the opposite sex: blond hair and blue eyes.

So says a new study published in the British science journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Impossible. If it were a real British science journal, it would be called Evolution and Human Behaviour.

And anyway, there's a simpler explanation, says Dr. B:

[A] woman who is blond tends to have pale skin that will absorb more sunlight, and therefore more vitamin D, and will not develop rickets. Rickets causes bone deformities (bow legs, deformed pelvises) ... and not only are women with rickets less attractive, but if you have a deformed pelvis, you have a good chance of dying in childbirth. So blonds will be healthier, have more kids, and voila, genetic drift into blondness...

I'm inclined to accept the good doctor's version of things, especially since Betty Rubble, not even slightly blonde, always struck me as way hotter than Wilma Flintstone.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:16 AM)
14 March 2006
Come up and see (not all of) me sometime

Alexandra Foley at Modesty Zone finds a perhaps-unexpected role model:

Consider the following quote by Mae West:

"I like my clothes to be tight enough to show I'm a woman, but loose enough to show I'm a lady."

Mae West, as you know, was the silver-screen actress famous for two things: her large bosom (her ample frontage inspired the name of a WWII life jacket) and her sharp wit. West's quips — such as "When I'm good I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better" — live with us still.

West thrived on being a verbal provocateur, so I am not certain how to take her statement about how tight clothes should be. On the one hand, given her bad-girl persona (she practically invented the genre), it would seem to be an endorsement of immodest clothing, clothing that is designed to arouse prurient interest without causing an outright scandal. On the other hand, her rule of thumb seems to suggest a happy medium between prudery and lewdness, and this is how I have always understood the virtue of modesty.

I think a closer match for that "happy medium" might be Dolly Parton, who has always been willing to mock her sexpot image — her trademark line might be "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap" — and who leads one of the least-scandalous lives in all of showbiz. Still, both Mae and Dolly were on the right track: they controlled their scenes, and should you presume too much, you could expect to go away empty-handed, or worse.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:45 AM)
15 March 2006
Nigel Wick speaks up

Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson did the 20Q thing with Playboy this month — by which I mean April — and get a load of Q6:

PLAYBOY:  Your Maureen Dowd interview was almost flirtatious. What was going on? Can you have as much fun with Ann Coulter?

FERGUSON:  I adore Dowd. I find her endlessly fascinating, endlessly sexy. She's very female, and I like that. But one of the things I like most is that when I challenge her on something, she seems delighted. It's what makes her such a good writer. Coulter thinks that everyone who disagrees with her has a political stance contrary to hers. She's strident and seems angry about something. Maybe it's just an act, but she has kept it up every time I've met her.

I'm not persuaded that it's an act, but if it is, it's a good one: I never hear of her breaking character.

This alleged Dowdian delight on being challenged is apparently something she switches on and off, depending on whether she wants to be Dr Jekyll or Miss Heidi; I await further research into this matter. I will point out, though, that anything more animated than obvious boredom will be interpreted by some guys as being flirtatious: Amanda Congdon caught some complaints about yesterday's Rocketboom. She replied:

If two men had a chuckle together, would that be flirting? I find it very sexist that every time I have a good time with the person I am interviewing (whether it be Steve [Brudniak] or Senator Edwards) people misconstrue it as "flirting" because I am woman. It just goes to show how women still can't be looked at without that weird sexual angle. It's 2006 and gender equality is just so far away. I realize that more and more every day.

Me, I think all sexual angles are weird, but maybe that's just me. I would suggest, though, that gender equality isn't the issue here: rather, it's gender interchangeability, which is even farther away and which I am not anxious to approach.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:21 AM)
16 March 2006
The tyranny of the collar

Back around 1980, there was a sort-of-annoying TV-movie called Hardhat and Legs, with Kevin Dobson as a rough-hewn construction-worker type who finds himself in an unexpected romance with uptown divorcée Sharon Gless. I admit to having watched this, because (1) I have always been curious as to whether it's possible for a relationship between a duchess and a commoner, so to speak, actually to work, and (2) I had to figure Gless' character was called "Legs" for a reason. (Well, two reasons, more precisely.)

This otherwise-unused memory is brought to you by Lesley, and here's why:

Why is it when men marry women who are less educated and with lower-paid jobs, this is generally considered normal (in the non-statistical sense), but when women do the same thing, it's "marrying down"? This strikes me as being sexist in so many ways. It's both anti-woman and anti-man.

A lot of the men I date make less money than I do. So what? Am I supposed to value men primarily based on their earnings? Why should I? I make enough money to support myself and someone else. I have more options than I would if I made a lot less money. The same options that were, previously, mostly only available to men in selecting a partner. I don't think I'm dating men who are somehow inferior to me (the implication of "marrying down"). The whole notion says a lot about the ingrained sexism of our society (by which I mean more than just American society).

It is a measure of something, surely, that I can read these paragraphs, nod in agreement, say out loud "Yes, that's so true," and still give out with a whimper of despair at my own lack of accomplishment and/or wealth.

About the time Hardhat and Legs came out, I was still married, and contributing roughly 42 percent of the household budget, and feeling very much like I wasn't carrying my share of the load. (This was not the cause of the breakup, except to the extent that it represented yet another manifestation of the fact that I obviously didn't have any business being in any sort of relationship, given my horrendous immaturity at the time.) And a quarter-century later, I don't think I've quite outgrown this particular neurosis. Worse, I tend to fixate on women two or three social strata above me. ("Someone of prodigious desirability who wouldn't have me on a bet" was the description I proffered in the infamous OAQ File.) Is this the very model of a modern self-fulfilling prophecy?

I don't think, though, that this particular attitude, at least in my case, stems from vestigial sexism; it's just as easily, and perhaps more convincingly, explained by Non sum dignus.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:20 AM)
Frock and role

Interesting comment by Verbify on this thread at Modestly Yours:

There are ninety different ways a woman can dress which provoke the epithet "easy," but not a single outfit I can think of that would result in a man getting called a "slut." And I'm not sure if the solution to this disparity is imposing even more rules upon what a woman can or should wear.

I suspect that it would take more than a mere outfit to get a man characterized as "slutty," or whatever synonym might apply. It is indeed a disparity, though the more disturbing disparity is that there's still a tendency to lionize men for promiscuity, even as we castigate women for it. (Double standards? We got some.) If we can clear that up, the wardrobe issue might well solve itself.

Elsewhere, the thread contemplates the strictures suggested by Pope Pius XII back in the 1940s: "below the knee, halfway down the arm, and two finger widths below the collarbone," as regards hemline, sleeve length, and neckline respectively. Pius died in 1958; am I remembering correctly, and did hemlines slowly start to creep up right afterwards? (Keep in mind, I was five years old in 1958 and had no idea of the significance of hemlines until much later.)

Update, 18 March: Aldahlia describes Sleazewear for Men.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:08 PM)
22 March 2006
Handle with care

After a sudden upsurge, as it were, of books about What It Means To Be A Man, comes a pointed question from Aldahlia:

Do you really think being in posession of a penis requires a user's manual?

Heh-heh. She said "manual."

Actually, the best treatment I've ever seen of this exact question came from author Catharine Lumby. In a short story Lumby contributed to Fiona Giles' anthology Dick for a Day, in which a number of women were asked what they would do with such a thing for twenty-four hours, journalist Rose Sélavy orders a dingus via FedEx to try out for herself, and the following instructions accompany the organ:

PENIS™ INSTRUCTIONS
Standard Heterosexual Model (U.S. Patent No. 6,945,776)
Patriarchal Privileges Fully Included
One Size Fits All

Please read this booklet carefully to familiarize yourself with the operation of your Penis™ and with the Limited Warranty.

WARNING: Please note that the consumption of alcoholic beverages may seriously impair the performance of your Penis™. Phallocraft Incorporated bears no responsibility for psychological damage to the wearer resulting from malfunctions.

Rose didn't think much of the booklet:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Rose flipped the page and skimmed the rest of the laborious text. Jesus. They made it sound like you needed a Ph.D. in biology to operate something half the idiots on the planet were wandering around with. Trust male engineers to make the male organ sound more complicated than it was.

And in truth, it's that very simplicity that proves to be Rose's undoing.

Incidentally, U.S. Patent No. 6,945,776 had yet to be issued when Lumby wrote her story; the number has since been applied, to a method, and an accompanying skid member, to restrain heat transfer from hot material to a skid coolant pipe and introduce hot gas within the reheating furnace into the skid member to compensate for heat loss in an upper portion of the skid member.

The precise relevance of this invention to the dangly segment of the male anatomy is left as an exercise for the student.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:01 PM)
26 March 2006
No Schick, Sherlock

Meryl Yourish takes a stand against facial hair:

Men have a blind spot when it comes to facial hair. They simply cannot tell when they look sexy, and when they look ridiculous.

Fond as I am of Meryl, I must point out here that she's unnecessarily circumscribing her premise: it's not just facial hair. Our blind spots are far more extensive than that.

Fortunately, no one has ever accused me of thinking myself to be sexy.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:34 AM)
7 April 2006
Paper cuts

Gayle cleans out the old billfold, and look what happens:

I was cleaning out my wallet at work and had all these useless business cards I was dumping out on the table along with receipts and other built up wallet junk. The woman I am working with this night says "I bet all those cards came from men". "Yeah, looks like most of them are, why?" I ask.

"Well", she continues, "I know two things in this life for sure. One. Never trust people that say 'trust me'. And two, men give out business cards to women they want to sleep with".

"As if!" I reply. I'm sure that's not what these men intended. I mean most of them were handed to me in a professional business setting. "Well", she continues, "it's a subtle way to maybe get lucky, and ask youself what other purpose the card really serves in each of the cases you got one".

I looked over all the cards. I tried visualizing the context I was given each one. At the time they all seemed professionally appropriate or at least not socially perverted. But in all these cases there was also really no good purpose to give me their card.

Two observations. First, this from Costa:

Maybe it's an old boys' network tradition, going hand-in-hand with the two-martini lunch. Personally, I had no overt intentions along these lines. I really just wanted to generate some low-impact publicity for the blog, and my own self. I'm wondering now if the women to whom I doled out cards thought I was on the make.... I probably was, but I didn't want to make it this obvious.

And from me: It has never, ever occurred to me that it might be worthwhile to have a batch of business cards printed up. And the card does have the ability to pass on one's phone number.

[Cut to Dean Friedman's "Ariel," collecting for the Friends of 'BAI in Paramus Park, who writes her number on the back of his hand.]

Sometimes even my grasp of the obvious is tenuous and insecure.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:15 AM)
8 April 2006
The case for being committed

Colorado psychiatrist Dr. Doreen Orion, herself a stalker victim, has written a book about it: I Know You Really Love Me: A Psychiatrist's Journal of Erotomania, Stalking and Obsessive Love.

Cruel.com reports that one particular Amazon.com review of the book disappeared into the bit bucket, and after reading it, I can see why it could have:

The only difference between stalkers and anybody is else is that unlike other people, these people don't waver indecisively from person to person, and are more motivated. They've found somebody who matches their ideals — they can't imagine a better fit, a more perfect match — and they suffer from this incredibly. Who can it hurt if they observe from a distance the one person who taught them the meaning of the word "alive"? Be thankful if you're one to socially jump from one person to the next uncaringly that you may be spared the all-consuming intensity of real love. I wish upon no one the pain of watching the person you'd give anything for, who you know like the back of your hand — from their needs and desires to the fears and moral qualms that wrack their concious [sic] — stay in some deadend relationship regardless of any hoops you jump through — regardless how you look, what you'd say, give, do — nothing.

As expressions of self-justification go, this rivals anything you're likely to see in the political arena.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:15 AM)
28 April 2006
Mimi screams, or so I hear

Romance writer Dee Tenorio is looking for synonyms:

"Have you ever screamed in pleasure?"

Not your typical question and I had to really think about it. I don't think I have. I don't think anyone has, outside of films. To me, a scream is a full-throated belting out of sound and air. If I'm in that much pleasure, I have to say ... I've got better things to do than scream.

This isn't to claim that a heroine can't get noisy. By all means, share your joy with the world, but isn't there a better word to use for it? Isn't "screaming with pleasure" just another kind of wandering body part, a phrase we use for shortcut instead of creating real prose and working for our heroine's good time?

I'm afraid I'm going to be no help here, since the reaction with which I am most familiar is "stared in disbelief," and not in a good way, either.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:39 AM)
3 May 2006
Welcome to eHardly

Joanne Jacobs has an idea for a dating service:

Match low-earning, socially adept teachers with high-earning, socially challenged engineers. Good for the teaching profession, good for family income, probably a good mix for the gene pool.

This strikes me as just slightly problematic: the socially-adept educators might assume that they don't need a dating service, what with their surfeit of savoir-faire and all, and the nerds with the slide rules probably aren't as lonesome as the stereotype suggests.

Of course, even if this scheme comes with a money-back guarantee, there's no point in sending me the brochure.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:20 AM)
A miner for a heart of zinc

Well, what do you know: Neil Young was right about something after all.

(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:00 AM)
4 May 2006
Capsize matters

In this age of True Love Waits (no relation to Tom Waits), a Sage suggestion for determining sexual compatibility:

I've discovered over the years that canoeing with a partner can generate a pretty good sense of what the sex will be like. Canoeing can be done solo, but it's much nicer with someone else there. Canoeing is different with every new person you're with. Both people in the canoe have to adjust for one another's stroking. Being with someone with a strong, slow, even stroke is very different than being with someone with a quick and excited kind of stroke. But if it's good, soon you get into a nice easy rhythm. Sometimes this happens without even speaking.

And one should perhaps be suspicious of someone who stands up at an inopportune moment.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:59 AM)
9 May 2006
Birds do it, unlike some of us

Found at Salon's Broadsheet:

In some respects, nice guys really do finish first, according to Sharon Begley's story in Friday's Wall Street Journal. Or at least nice birds do.

The findings, based on research with male flycatchers, essentially blow Charles Darwin's theory of sexual selection out of the water. The so-called sexy-son hypothesis holds that a female who mates with an attractive male will have cute offspring. They, of course, will be just as charming, able to get the girl and give their mother a gaggle of gorgeous grandkids. As time went on, the most desirable genes would survive since females would covet them.

In the case of the flycatcher, however, the hot male birds were so busy getting their groove on, they ignored their little ones. The busted birds, on the other hand, were better fathers, creating sons who later had no problem getting the ladies to lay a few eggs.

The idea that females choose mates by getting an eyeful of how they look in their genes is being increasingly challenged. "Instead of choosing mates who will increase the genetic quality of their offspring, females make choices that will increase their number of offspring," Stanford biologist Joan Roughgarden told Begley.

I long have had reason to distrust that hypothesis: my kids are cute, and their kids are cute, despite the fact that all of them are related to me. Maybe it's the other side of the family whose genetic material prevailed.

"Each kind of male has its own way of going about its life. Each works out fine," stresses Roughgarden. So what does this tell us? Well, for starters, women are not always won over by all the male genetic bling out there. Maybe it explains why human females are so fond of the sweet guys with the soft bodies and bald spots, who make us laugh, and take good care of their little flycatchers. Now, that's sexy!

I don't think anyone's likely to accuse me of sweetness.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:32 AM)
10 May 2006
Niceness: threat or menace?

We need a definition of the Nice Guy, says Paul of York, and this is his:

Nice Guys ... are guys women do not want to meet but have to sometimes and will never get serious with or be seen with, if possible. Look it up, if you don't believe that.

Nice guys are the ground feeders of the male gender, a suffering gene pool, the male seals kept off the beach, a wandering group of optimistic hopefuls fooling themselves, thinking their likability can convert into love.

Looks like I missed on a couple of counts.

Compare this to Leo Durocher's definition:

"The nice guys are all over there. In seventh place."

The media managed to screw up Durocher's statement, which is remembered as "Nice guys finish last," which is off by at least one position, inasmuch as the major leagues had eight teams each in those days. And I once twisted that 45 degrees or so and came up with "Nice guys let her finish first," which perhaps unsurprisingly played better in theory than in practice.

Then again, to quote Zen master Yogi Berra:

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

Which, I have to admit, has a nice symmetry.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:39 PM)
17 May 2006
Minor deficiencies

We are none of us perfect, but this seems a bit much:

I think we girls do have to accept those imperfections — that slightly crooked nose, that awkward gait, the bad taste in shirts, a tendency to be late, propensity to lose keys, the inability to fix things, the ineptitude in hanging anything straight, the annoying sneeze, irksome in-laws, the sloppy cereal eating, the choppy lawn maintenance, the need to have shoes lined up or enjoying slopping muddy shoes across the floor — you know, every single happily married person I know has mentioned one of the above and many many many more.

Just for the record, I am very seldom late.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:15 AM)
18 May 2006
Don't be this guy

And by that, I mean this guy:

A labourer was jailed for a month and put on the sex offenders register for seven years after he slapped the bottom of an off-duty policewoman.

Anthony O'Neill, 22, was stunned when he was given the sentence. His relatives are furious and say the punishment is over-the-top for, what they say, was a silly joke. They say he has lost his job and been branded "a pervert".

Imagine that.

After he was arrested, O'Neill admitted: "I have done it before. Some women like it, others don't."

I suspect they may not like it as much as he thinks. Lesley analyzes the matter:

I hate to break it to any man who doesn't already know this, but sometimes women pretend to be okay with something a man has done to avoid what we fear might be a worse consequence if we react negatively.

Having said that, maybe there are some women who like it. So what? How do you identify the ones who do from the ones who don't until after you've committed the act? You can't, unless you know them. The better part of simple civility dictates you don't commit an act that a lot of people might not like on the chance you might find someone who does.

Absent a placard that reads "Please fondle my bum," it would seem prudent to assume that this sort of action would not be welcomed, and pleading silliness will not help your defense.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:58 AM)
27 May 2006
Is this a moving violation?

Back in January, I quoted P. J. O'Rourke to the effect that "Write what you know" was a bad idea.

In the same spirit, let me point you to the 10 Most Irritating Things Women Do During Sex, none of which I have ever actually seen.

(Via Venomous Kate, who admits to one.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:34 AM)
3 June 2006
The brain that wouldn't die

This is not the sequel.

(Probably not safe for work during one particular scene.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:05 AM)
29 June 2006
Throne a fit

It's stuff like this that makes for a Grrl Genius:

[O]ur number one tip for sharing a bathroom is this: Don't.

A survey was done by some homebuilding association that showed that relationship happiness within a dwelling increased with the number of bathrooms available. Interestingly, there was no cutoff: even above a one person/one bathroom ratio, the people just got happier and happier.

Even if it means renting a porta-potty and sticking it on the patio, you will be happier.

I get that it's not always practical, but whenever possible, try to accumulate as many bathrooms as possible.

I have always suspected that the woman who used to own this house let it go because (1) she had a boyfriend and (2) there's but one bathroom, and a small one at that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:56 AM)
13 July 2006
A matter of taste

Actually, I suspect that mere flavor is a minor factor.

[Possibly NSFW]

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:12 AM)
14 July 2006
Deputy Dan, though, has no friends

It's called Dodgeball, and Melina explains:

[It] helps lazy urban people find their friends on a Saturday night by pinging them with text messages on their cell phones whenever they are within 10 blocks of each other. It's actually sort of brilliant.

Beats walking around with a Geiger counter, I suppose. And there's this:

Dodgeball is all about bringing people together ... we'll tell your friends where you are, we'll let you know if friends-of-friends are nearby, but what about that cute girl or guy that you have nothing in common with? How are we going to hook you up?

Simple ... crush lists. Whenever you check-in, we'll check to see if any of your crushes are nearby. If so, we'll send a message to your phone letting you know that someone on your crush list (we won't tell you who!) is somewhere within 10 blocks (we won't tell you where!).

At the same time we'll ping them with a message letting your crush know where you are ... and if they have a camera phone, we'll send your picture along too. Who knows — if they think you're cute, maybe your crush will stop by.

I hasten to point out that (1) this service is not yet available in Oklahoma City and (2) the likelihood of my being on someone's crush list is somewhere between infinitesimal and nonexistent. That said, though, I'm impressed with the methodology.

And with this:

Oh yeah, 5 crushes per person please. This isn't a brothel.

Although I have no doubt that the technology could be adapted for exactly that, which would cast a new light on the old term "call girl."

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:20 AM)
16 July 2006
Ha, ha, only serious

From the It Could Happen To You files, a bald assertion by the not-bald Brian J. Noggle:

Why did a hottie take up with a down-on-his-English-degree printing press operator like me?

Because chicks dig sardonic humor and classical allusions, apparently.

Remember, Googlers, when you're trying to figure out how to attract hot women, the answer is read more Shakespeare.

Given the amount of success I've had with this approach, which is none, I suppose I might as well give up on that Titus Andronicus cookbook.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:33 PM)
20 July 2006
Shoe math

No, it doesn't have anything to do with the Brannock Device. Let's say she says you've got, oh, eight inches on her:

Listen. The first time I was standing next to you, it was evening, so I was wearing dressy shoes. All my going-out shoes have about a 3 inch heel. Except my formal shoes, which are higher, but I wouldn't have been wearing any of those. And you were wearing normal inoffensive contemporary men's shoes, which would have had about a 1 inch heel, or we probably wouldn't even be speaking right now. So comparably, that nets me two additional inches. That aren't really mine. And even with the two inches, I probably only came up to the bottom of your nose. Bottom of the nose to the top of the head, probably about half a foot, plus the two inches I shouldn't have had. Eight inches. Give or take.

At least as accurate as the tape measure in my toolbox, and without making that bendy-metal SSPROING! noise either.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:05 PM)
21 July 2006
Give in and take in

Well, why not? Sex advice from Objectivists:

Q. What can Ayn Rand teach us about sex?

A. That it's not just a meeting of bodies, but also of minds. Find someone you can admire personally as well as physically. The sex will be sexier and you'll feel better in the morning.

Hank Rearden, asked to comment, said, "Can you do that?"

Update, 22 July, 11:11 am: Jennifer at Ravings of a Feral Genius notes: "It's not often that you hear 'Ayn Rand' and 'healthy sex life' in the same non-ironic phrase."

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:28 PM)
24 July 2006
Sort of noticed

The dating site OkCupid is probably better known for its battery of tests than for its success at getting couples together. Back in the spring of '04, I took one of said tests; for the sheer hell of it, I filled out a perfunctory profile, and then mostly forgot about it. Last summer, I said something to this effect:

I have never placed a personal ad. (Okay, I filled in a profile at OkCupid, but this was so I could get a look at some of their funkier personality tests.) The major reason, surpassing even "What if I got a response?" (which is scary enough), is "What in the world would I say?"

I am compelled to note that someone actually read said profile today and presumably did not run screaming into the woods. From her own words, I suspect she's looking for whatever equivalent of a drinking buddy exists among people who don't actually drink. I was sufficiently surprised by this event to rewrite the profile extensively; whether it's now more appealing — or less so — will become apparent in the years to come. (And I figure, if it takes 27 months to get one response, "years" is the minimum time frame involved.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:56 PM)
25 July 2006
The reflex

OkCupid (last mentioned here) has a profile-area menu function called Woo, which splits the difference between an IM (not so intrusive) and a private message (not so restrained). Amusingly, if you have your own profile on screen, the menu item for this changes to CAN'T WOO YOURSELF, which unsurprisingly gave me the idea that this premise has potential as a "Get lost" kind of response: "Oh, go woo yourself!" Of course, both grammatical and anatomical precedents exist.

(Note to those who are wondering why I am suddenly paying attention to this sort of thing: it was either this or MySpace.)

Addendum, 2 August: OkCupid user Altara complains: "As a narcissist I feel like I'm being discriminated against."

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:49 PM)
28 July 2006
One minor detail

"My friends," said my daughter, "are trying to talk me into one of those online-dating services."

There are a number of reasons why this might not work, but this one stands out:

She has no computer and no Net access.

I would consider these major obstacles, but then, I'm just the parental unit.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:20 AM)
31 July 2006
All together now: "Duh"

If you read a profile at OkCupid, the upper-right corner displays "VITAL STATS". These, they say, are mine:

compared to other guys
  • He's less kinky
  • He's more introverted
  • He's more mathematical
  • He's less sex-driven

Um, okay. If you say so.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:21 AM)
The kind he likes to meet

File this under "Cultural Advantages of New York City":

Today, I'm marveling at how many pretty women I'm encountering on the streets of New York.

From the demurely attractive thin girl with sandy-brown hair on the train this morning, to the exotic-looking model type with close-cropped black hair and long dangling earrings strutting down 7th Avenue this evening, I've seen one knockout after another. And don't think I'm not appreciative.

I certainly wouldn't think that. But what are they thinking?

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:57 PM)
6 August 2006
Making the pitch

I've mentioned before that I was hanging around a bit on OkCupid, which is a dating service based upon screwy TheSpark-like tests — which isn't surprising, since the same guys were responsible for TheSpark.

And I'm not at all thinking I'm actually, you know, going to meet anyone as a result of this, but I get a major kick out of reading the user profiles, and the following is a selection of stuff I read today.

I am not one of those glass-half-full people but I am also not one of those glass-half-empty people either. My freaking glass has holes in it and the water is dribbling out down the front of my shirt.

I spend a lot of time doing homework, and even more time doing nothing. I'm also learning to throw pottery. You know, on a wheel, not across the room. I learned how to do THAT ages ago.

I enjoy just about any food as long as it doesn't contain flaked coconut.

I have a pretty strong sense of humor, though it can dip to the dark/dry side where not even I quite get my own jokes.

Someone pointed out to me the other day intimidate and intimate are only 2 letters different. Thought that was interesting.

I shave my legs pretty infrequently, partially because they're a little sensitive in spots, but mostly because I'm lazy and it's a real chore.

I am one of the most independent people I know, but according to whatever this site uses to measure independence, I show up as borderline basket case. I wholeheartedly disagree. As they point out though, it's only a website.

Hey, it beats reading me all the time.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 PM)
8 August 2006
Made for each other

It says here that Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson got married because — well, it wasn't a shared interest in 18th-century French literature:

Kid Rock married Pamela Anderson because she's amazing in bed.

The rocker and the former Baywatch star tied the knot on a yacht in St Tropez on Saturday.

After the unconventional ceremony, Rock lifted the lid on the reason he was marrying the blonde actress.

He reportedly said: "I just married the most beautiful girl in the world. She f***s me and scratches my back!"

Pammie, 39, has also hinted the great sex she has with Rock was one of the main reasons she wanted to become his wife. She previously said: "I'm not going to pretend it doesn't make a difference. I know women say size doesn't matter. But it does, at least for me. Put it this way, I can't see any down side to a man being well hung."

And I suppose he can put it this way, should he be so inclined.

Given these imperatives, my own list of desiderata (sweet smile, killer legs, gets a minimum of two-thirds of my jokes) seems even more pathetic than usual.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:36 AM)
9 August 2006
We few, we plumbers

Actually, I'm not a plumber, but I felt like one when I read this bit by Lori Leibovich in Salon.

In the fourth article in its fascinating series "The New Gender Divide," the New York Times looks at why marriage rates among men without higher education are declining at a significant clip.

The reasons for the decline vary and include greater economic independence for women, and the increase in the number of couples who live together without getting married. The Times interviewed men who are afraid to commit, men who fear divorce, and one 41-year-old who says he'd love to have a family but he just hasn't met the right woman.

But the single most significant reason these men remain unattached is "because the pool of women in their social circles — those without college degrees — has shrunk," according to the Times. "And the dwindling pool of women in this category often look for a mate with more education and hence better financial prospects." As Shenia Rudolph, 42, from the Bronx said succinctly, "Men don't marry because women like myself don't need to rely on them."

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'd rather be rejected because I'm dumb as a post than because I never bothered to compose a thesis.

(Crossposted to OkCupid.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:16 AM)
Nice pair, as it were

The late Shel Silverstein wrote a poem, eventually a song, called "Stacy Brown Got Two", and, well, it goes like this:

Do you know the reason for his success? (No we don't, so tell us)
They say that he is double blessed (Not like you fellas)
They say that Stacy Brown was born
Just a little bit deformed
But still his girlfriends wake up smilin' every morn.

(Singing) Everybody got one (Everybody got one)
Everybody got one (Everybody got one)
Everybody got one (Everybody got one)
But Stacy Brown got two.

Esquire seems to have found him a date.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:00 PM)
15 August 2006
Too good for you?

Jacqueline Passey is a "high-quality woman," and if you don't believe it, just ask her:

I know that sounds arrogant, but let's consider the facts:
  • I'm slim (whereas 62% of American women age 20 to 74 are overweight)
  • I'm attractive (my new picture has been rated more attractive than 86% of the women on Hot or Not — and the women who upload their pictures are a self-selected sample that is probably already biased towards being more attractive than the general female population)
  • I'm relatively young (whereas 82% of American adult women are over 30 years old)
  • I'm intelligent (IQ tested at 145 when I was a child, which is 3 standard deviations above the mean — higher than 99.85% of the population. Even if I've gotten dumber as I've aged I'm probably still at least a 130, which is higher than 97.5% of the population.)
  • I'm educated (whereas 77% of American women do not have bachelor's degrees)
  • I have my financial shit together (no debt, perfect credit history, 6+ months living expenses saved, adequate insurance, self employed)
  • I have a strong libido and love having sex (my lover *never* has to beg, unless it's for me to let him get some sleep!)
  • Most of my interests tend to be more popular with men than women: science fiction, libertarianism, blogging, politics, economics, guns, gambling, etc.

And she caught a fair amount of flak for saying these things: one ex-reader (I assume) sniffed, "Is there a more self righteous bitch anywhere else in the blogsphere?" (Answer: Scads of them.)

For my part, I can't get too worked up about this. At the very least, she's upfront about what she has to offer, and it's up to you to decide whether she matches your particular priorities; rather a lot of folks hide their light under a bushel. (Ask me about my grain elevator.) She doesn't happen to hit mine especially well, as it happens, but that's hardly a reason to criticize someone. And while I tend to be wary of an elevated sense of self — rather a lot of people have defined themselves as Good while doing their best to hide from the advance of Evil — I suspect she's closer to the Ayn Rand side of the spectrum, where love and romance are transactions like any other, and hey, it's a tough market out there. Besides, I'm older than her target age group, and I suspect that the clash of dissimilar libidos would result in either heartbreak or heart attack, neither of which is on my list of Desired Outcomes. Still, I am a firm believer in holding out for what you want, and I can't fault her for doing the same. Bottom line: I think I'd like her; I have no reason to think we ought to be dating.

She adds:

I'm sorry if I've offended you, but I'm also really sick of getting e-mailed several times a week by delusionally hopeful men who read my blog and think because I am their dream girl that I'll therefore want them too. Too often they act crushed when I reject them, which I feel bad about, but if they had stopped to consider whether they had as much to offer me as I have to offer them then they might have had more realistic expectations.

Now that's gonna leave a mark.

Disclosures:

  • I did actually email her once, about something of not much importance. Her response could be fairly characterized as direct and precise.
  • Approximately half the population is below average in appearance; a different half (inevitably there is some overlap) is below average in intelligence. I assume I qualify for at least one of the above.
  • I'm relatively old. Even my relatives are relatively old, or at least older than they used to be.
  • On the wealth curve, I rank as "not broke but not rolling in it either."
  • Most of my activities tend to be of no interest to anyone.
  • I get zero emails a week from delusionally hopeful women.

I should also point out that this post multiplied Jacqueline's traffic ninefold, so I can reasonably expect to get three, maybe four extra visits out of this response. And if what you wanted here was a point-by-point response to her assertions, try this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:27 AM)
24 August 2006
Because it's been a while

Michael Bates thought it was about time to tweak me again about Maureen Dowd, and he pointed me to this Fred On Everything denunciation.

I would remind him, and the rest of you, that I am aware of her, um, deficiencies. Except for the alleged resculpturing — "She probably gets more daily maintenance than a 747, but she still looks as though a vocational school held an injection-molding contest and everyone lost," says Fred — her deficiencies are fairly similar to my deficiencies, and therefore I'm inclined to cut her a bit more slack than she might deserve.

On the other hand, were I to decide that I must have a pundit around the house, I'd probably do better, or at least somewhat less badly, with the likes of Mary Katharine Ham, whose politics are a bit closer to mine, and who — never mind, this can't possibly be said with any degree of finesse.

And keep in mind that I don't consider myself in a position to look down my nose at Jacqueline Passey, either. (That is so last week, you know?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:09 PM)
3 September 2006
Sound your Z

A term I hadn't heard before:

zzzzuh! - noun

1. When a man, who is neither conventionally good looking, nor what you would ordinarily define as your "type," walks into the room, and the moment your eyes lock, something in your brain screams, "Yes! I want to have your babies!"

You'd hardly need a 2.

Anyway, it should surprise no one that I'd not heard of this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:02 AM)
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