Archive for Table for One

No such luck

I have generally steered clear of online dating, mostly for the same reason I have generally steered clear of offline dating: my expectations dance just barely above the null set. And I don’t know how well I could take something like this:

Then again, my life has had its similarly Dangerfieldian moments. And now that I think about it, poor Rodney’s headstone reads: “THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD.”

(Via the presumably datable — though not by me — @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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All heartbreak, all the time

For some reason, this made me smile:

Across the country there are exploration-worthy bookstores devoted entirely to genres like science fiction, mystery, and comics. And we love those stores! But where are the bookstores devoted to romance? There is not one store that exclusively sells romance books — even while romance is the best-selling genre in North America. Enter sisters Bea and Leah Koch, who are working to change this fact, acting as the knights in shining armor for romance readers everywhere.

To promote the genre they’ve always loved, the Koch sisters plan to open a Los Angeles-based bookstore filled to the brim with love stories. (If you don’t live in L.A., don’t fret! They will also have an online store!) “The Ripped Bodice is a store for the community of intelligent and outspoken people that write, read, and love romance novels,” explains Leah on their Kickstarter.

Also from said Kickstarter:

In the romance section of a full service bookstore, things are generally organized alphabetically, making it hard to browse if you just want paranormal witch stories/cowboy heroes with hearts of gold/Regency house parties that go terribly awry. Because The Ripped Bodice is devoted exclusively to romance, we have the luxury of organizing by sub-genre.

They may have to go to sub-sub-sub-genre to keep track of everything.

The sisters hope to raise $90,000 by the 19th of November; they’re already halfway there. (And I helped a little.)

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Spinning the wrong wheels

“It’s either me or that damn car,” she says:

3 long years ago… I decided to save for a new car after driving my Toyota Corolla 09. I had friends who bought civics “ultimate rice car” and they wanted me to join their crew. I was honestly jealous and was almost tempted to just buy one and make it a project car but I told myself I’m doing it for myself or my friends. It was just that teen vibe of riding with you re friends and feeling cool with loud exhaust you know.. Considering I did not get that with my corrolla. Any whom 3 years later I bought my DREAM CAR Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. Around an year an a half I met my girlfriend who now is threating me to break up with me due to me spending to much on modifying my car. She hates it but I love it. I’ve tried to explain to her everything why I do it and that I love working on cars… Anyways now she wants me to sell it or she will “break up with me”. (She is doing this because we are struggling financially and selling it would help a lot.. But I just don’t see myself doing it.) She says it’s “slowly tearing us apart before our own eyes”. I love her dearly… I love my car dearly.. I’d just like people’s opinions is all.

It’s pretty obvious to me: he values “feeling cool with loud exhaust” more than an actual, breathing female.

The amusing aspect of this, I suppose, is contemplating the vast number of clueless goobs out there who believe that driving the right wheels will bring them romance, or at least an occasional grope in the back seat. (Cars which lack a back seat — well, that’s another matter entirely.)

He may take comfort in the fact that Mitsu is dumping the Evo after generation ten, and he might even end up with a collector’s item if he doesn’t wrap the damnfool thing around a tree.

As for me, I’ve been to this neighborhood: after I got married, one of my first instructions was to get rid of my scary old ’66 Chevy Nova, the fright factor of which was derived, not from its speed, but from its junkyard-ready appearance. There were, I concluded, better things to break up over.

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Grow up already

There’s always been a lot of yammering about “separating the men from the boys,” but few ever get around to specifying the location of the line of demarcation. This is about as good a map as I’m likely to find:

I’ve never dealt with real gender-related ugliness (some women have gotten death threats online and such), but I’ve had a little frustration with it in real life. The stupid thing is, every MAN I’ve ever worked with has recognized I have a brain and know how to use it, and he has respected me for it. And I have worked with a lot of men in my life, both as colleagues and as students. I’m not quite sure how to approach — even if I need to — BOYS who can’t get that fact.

Perhaps it was just that simple, all along.


Heat indexing

I have to admit that this never would have occurred to me:

Rare and exceptional beauty is rare and exceptional, but because Hollywood, advertising and other media constantly feed us images of beautiful people, this distorts perceptions to such a degree that many people don’t seem to realize how rare beauty actually is.

Go find your old high school yearbook and go through the portraits of the senior class, assigning the girls to an ordered ranking based strictly by looks, from the most attractive to the least attractive. Suppose that there were exactly 100 girls in your senior class. This means that the 10 prettiest girls would rate a 10, the next 10 prettiest would rate 9, and so forth.

It’s been 45 years since I was in high school — and yes, I do have my yearbook — but class portraits tend to even out the oddities. And there are variables which don’t translate. One classmate who comes to mind had a tendency toward unflattering hair styles, which didn’t do much for her face, but if you started at the end with the penny loafers, you’d discover a killer pair of gams. (Being messed up even then, I crushed on her younger sister, who was about 30 years ahead of her time in terms of sheer adorkability.)

And I’m not sure I’d know what to do were a 10, or a 9, or a 6.5, or whatever, to look my way.

Guys sit around watching a pro football game and, when the camera briefly shows the cheerleaders, guys talk about which one of them is really hot. Dude, they are all NFL cheerleaders. How many NFL cheerleaders are not “hot”? Zero. Or guys watching the Miss America pageant will disparage the less attractive contestants: “Miss Rhode Island? What a dog! Yuck!” Of course, never in his life has this guy dated anyone remotely as attractive as Miss Rhode Island and yet, when she appears in competition against other exceptionally good-looking women — Miss Oklahoma, Miss Ohio, Miss Alabama — the slightly less fortunate Miss Rhode Island is a “dog.” (I use Rhode Island as an example, because the New England states have produced only one Miss America winner — Miss Connecticut, Marian Bergeron, 1933 — whereas Oklahoma has produced six winners.)

Regarding that last point, I’d argue that living here in Soonerland, where the sky is constantly trying to kill you, somewhat sharpens your survival skills, and if you’re less scared than average, you come off as more attractive.

Where I differ from certain members of my half of the species is my refusal to believe, as they do, that I’m entitled to someone rated [pick a number] or higher because [pick a justification]. In general, I believe that all I have coming to me is life, then death, pretty much in that order. Everything else is purely speculative.


Just a touch of rue

Laura McGowan writes a blog called Skinny and Single, and this blurb in her sidebar made me chuckle, so I’m passing it on to you:

I’ve been divorced for ten years. I love being single.
Freedom … it’s worth all the heartache.
Freedom … it’s worth it.
Freedom … it’s in you to give.
Now, if only I could change a tire.

I’ve been divorced for twenty-eight years, and in all that time I don’t think I’ve ever written anything on the subject quite that precise.

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The power to reason away

Life imitates the Doobie Brothers:

Some time ago, I was talking to a woman about this wonderful, romantic week we’d spent together on a beach and she said, “Meh. I got sunburned so badly on that trip.” So the week that I have kept close to my heart for years as a near-perfect moment with someone is just, to her, that one week where she got sunburned. I cannot say that I was not angry with her for feeling that way. But only a borderline personality would fail to see that she has a right to her own opinion. The problem is that when I heard that opinion, it changed how I felt. So now, that week will live in my memory not as The Week That I Slept Like A Contented Infant Next To My Soul Mate As The Children Played Outside On The Sand but as The Week That I Put 1,340 Miles On My Porsche And Scraped The Nose Of It In A Parking Lot.

Now imagine that in Michael McDonald’s voice. I know I can.


No extra screws in the package

What’s the opposite of a pimp? Let’s see:

A Japanese-based company Softbank, which has created Pepper the robot, has forced customers to sign a document forbidding its owners from using the humanoid for sexual purposes, as well as creating sexy apps.

To tell you the truth, she doesn’t do a thing for me:

“Pepper is a social robot able to converse with you, recognize and react to your emotions, move and live autonomously,” the developer’s website states.

Well, some of your emotions, I suppose. The phrase “I am not programmed to respond in this area” comes immediately to mind.

Pepper is now available for use at home, though people have found that communication is really her only asset, as her domestic skills, such as cleaning or cooking are severely lacking.

Who’s buying this humanoid?

Currently Pepper is available for purchase for Japanese residents only and they must be older than 20.

And they must have the yen equivalent of $2,000 US, and perhaps an indulgence from the Space Pope.

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There is the physical, and there is the mental, and some of us try to keep the two discretely, even discreetly, apart — to our eternal humiliation. Not even Frank Sinatra can help us.

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So much for Extra Lean

Vegans may want to click on something other than thisanything other than this — right about now:

Location based dating apps like Tinder are great for assessing prospective dates based purely on their looks and proximity, but sometimes you can’t help but feel like it would be nice to know a little bit more about this person before you swipe them into your life. Sometimes you have want the answer to some deeper questions, like “do you prefer turkey bacon or pork bacon?” If the answer to this question is make or break in your prospective relationships, you might be interested in Oscar Mayer’s new bacon-based dating app called Sizzl.

Possibly the most ridiculous but admirable marketing product of all time, Sizzl will allow you access to a network of bacon lovers, which makes your chances of finding that perfect someone look pretty good.

There are people who love bacon even more than I do, but they’re probably wearing the stuff already; it hardly seems necessary to develop an app to find them.

There is, of course, a subtle form of discrimination afoot:

Right now Sizzl is available exclusively on the apple store for free on versions iOS 8 and later, so sorry Android users, it looks like you’ll have to eat your bacon alone this evening. We feel a bit left out.

It’s always something, isn’t it?

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Now don’t be a species-ist

About three years ago, I wrote an overly long short story about a man and a unicorn and the love they came to share. The reception it got was better than I had expected; still, I concluded from this experience that inter-species romances of this sort were not ready for prime time.

But that was then, and this is now:

Becky is a young woman living in the Los Angeles area in the 2015 TV series The Muppets.

Beginning with the pilot, she is dating Fozzie Bear, and introduces him to her parents for the first time. Holly and Carl have a hard time understanding how the relationship can work, questioning how they’ll raise their children.

At San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Bill Prady stated that Becky’s relationship with Fozzie would continue to be explored in the series.

Becky will be played by Riki Lindhome, the taller half of Garfunkel and Oates, and it occurs to me that this might make some sort of sense after all: in the all-but-forgotten Hell Baby (grossed about $5000 total), Lindhome has a brief (three minutes) scene with Rob Corddry, who looks a bit Fozzie-esque, or at least would if you put a hat on him.

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Staring blankly

The Male Gaze, to hear some people tell it, is about a quarter of a tick, if that much, short of Actual Sexual Assault. If you think about it, this stance trivializes physical assaults: if everything is rape, then it’s no longer possible to take a rape charge seriously. I don’t think anyone, with the possible exception of the serial rapist, really wants that.

Some gazers, inevitably, are more annoying than others, particularly if they’re trying to engage the gazees. How to foil them? A sharp rebuke ought to be enough, but there’s something to be said for reducing the potential payoff as well.

In 2001, writer Larry Young and artist John Heebink put together a four-part comic-book story called The Bod, about a young woman rendered invisible by an accident with special-effects gear. Her newly acquired state gains her fame and fortune; it also brings out her worst qualities.

And it essentially deprives her of the ability to say “Hey, jerk, my eyes are up here!”

Panel from second episode of The Bod

Still, this might work better as a meme.

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Quote of the week

Alexandra Petri explains Manic Pixie Dream Girls:

They don’t have personalities. They have quirks. They wear rain boots and call coffeepots “elf beaneries” and talk about how the stars are God’s daisy chain. They descend on nebbishy male writers in search of muses the way seagulls descend on a French fry.

Their hobbies include but are not limited to: running in the rain, dancing in the rain, listening to better bands than you in the rain, playing the ukulele in the rain (it sounds no worse), coming up with twee nicknames for household objects in the rain, and breaking up with nebbishy male writers for reasons that said writers find completely impenetrable, sometimes also in the rain. And then, as the writers sob over their departure, they realize that this heartbreak was just the impetus they needed to create That Elusive Masterwork That Was Always Lurking Just out of Reach.

They’re catalysts. They are airy free spirits who, since the dawn of manuscript time, have come waltzing into the lives of nebbishy male writers to urge them to Get Out and Experience Life. They generate plots.

Unfortunately, all the plots are about the same: A young girl sparkling with life, often but not always with erratically colored hair, comes pirouetting into your humdrum existence and teaches you how to feel, love, and throw away whatever medication is keeping you from alarming the neighbors. But then the relationship ends, and you transform your whimsical, credulity-straining romance into a classic work of fiction, and the plaudits come pouring in from all corners.

At the very least, Petri should send Woody Allen — and Joseph Gordon-Levitt circa (500) Days of Summer — a bill for her investigative work.

Source: A Field Guide to Awkward Silences (New York: New American Library, 2015).

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The wurst that could happen

Excuse me while I wince in pain for a moment, or several:

A woman was arrested after she allegedly tried to bite off her husband’s penis.

Chickasha Police made contact with husband and wife, Jesse and Merci Keene.

“[Merci] took Jesse to the ground and said she tried to bite his penis off,” the incident report said.

From Merci’s account of the incident, Jesse never hit her and only tried to defend himself, the report said.

What brought this on, anyway?

During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Jesse was holding the couple’s minor daughter when Merci attacked him. According to the report, Merci confronted Jesse after she heard Jesse was allegedly leaving with their daughter.

Something must be missing here, because if Jesse was in a position to lose his sausage, he probably didn’t have his car keys handy, and how does the youngster fit into this scenario?

Result: two charges for unmerciful Merci, booked for domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor.


Just friends, nothing more

Although the little green fellow does seem to fancy a certain, um, type, wouldn’t you think?

Kermit the Frog and Denise the Pig

But just to be absolutely sure:

Not buying it: HelloGiggles. “This frog/pig romance is so on.”

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Still got brass in pocket

Chrissie Hynde speaks, 2015:

Rape victims “have to take responsibility” for what happened to them, according to rocker Chrissie Hynde.

Sparking outrage among women’s group, the 63-year-old lead singer of the 1980s band the Pretenders said she was speaking from her own experience during an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times Magazine.


Chrissie Hynde speaks, 1994:

“Don’t moan about being a chick, refer to feminism or complain about sexist discrimination. We’ve all been thrown down stairs and f—ed about, but no one wants to hear a whining female. Write a loosely-disguised song about it instead and clean up ($).”


I think I know some things we never outgrow. You think it’s wrong, I can tell you do.

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Dining alone

Unless I’m on the road, I eat out once a week, maximum; that leaves six evening meals of varying complexity which I prepare on my own, inasmuch as no one is going to do it for me. And I don’t have a problem with that:

When I was a kid, cooking for singles wasn’t an issue, because you were generally married not long after you got out of high school.

And in the not too distant future it won’t be a problem because you’ll order whatever you want from Amazon Instant Delivery and it will arrive ten minutes later, delicious, steaming hot, and ready to eat.

But in this interregnum with “boys” cowering in basements rightfully fearing commitment, and women shrieking that they need men the way fish need birth control, there are a lot of hungry singles out there.

And almost none of them even know how to boil water.

Trust me, I can boil water. (The trick, of course, is to marinate it in bourbon for several minutes.)

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Behind the unseens

Earlier this year, we brought up the concept of Invisible Girlfriend, a phone app that pretends to be dating you for whatever reason that leads you to believe you require pretense. (Invisible Boyfriend is also available, should you prefer.) One thing we didn’t get into was that either this was some seriously upgraded artificial intelligence, or some poor soul has to sit there and write all those texts to you.

We have now heard from one of those poor souls:

With each job, I would see the person’s first name, last initial and hometown; “how we met”; and my own assigned name, age, and which of six personality types they’d given their Invisible. Now I’m adventurous and fun. Now I’m cheerful and outgoing.

There were 3 major rules:

  • I was always supposed to be upbeat in my messages.
  • I’m not supposed to break character.
  • No sexting. (Photos are blocked on the service.)

I’d get the story of how we met and the last 10 messages we’d exchanged. This setup is designed to create the illusion of continuity; ideally, an Invisible Boyfriend would seem like a steady, stable presence in a user’s life, instead of what it really is: a rotating cast of men and women. And it is both: a woman who works for the service previously told me she prefers playing the role of boyfriend because she knows what a woman wants to hear.

And what price love? Surprisingly little:

If I spent an hour answering texts, and took the full five minutes to write each one, I’d be making 60 cents an hour, far below the minimum wage. This is legal because all the workers on the platform are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. “Contributors have a tremendous amount of control over their decisions — for example, when to perform a task, when to complete it, and even if they want to complete it at all,” said Jeffrey H. Newhouse, an employment lawyer at Hirschler Fleischer, by email. “That means the contributor isn’t an employee and, as a result, employee protections like the minimum wage don’t apply.”

Okay, maybe not so surprising.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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Past the top of the slope

Tom T. Hall once explained the Meaning of Life: “It’s faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money.”

Jack Baruth understands that. And a discussion of movable automotive spoilers somehow ended up with this disclosure:

Most of the women with whom I’ve formed any real emotional attachment have been between three and ten years younger than I am.

But if you don’t think it’s a genuine thrill to sleep with a woman half your age, you’re kidding yourself so you can sleep at night. It’s like driving a badly-developed NASA American Iron Extreme car — nothing but smooth flesh and full lips and fresh scent.

Well, driving a NASA AIX car is nothing like that. But you get the idea.

I’m forty-three; my expiration date is approaching fast enough to Doppler-shift the noise. When I’m sixty years old I can live a life of the mind the same as I can now — but I won’t be able to do what I can do physically now.

I don’t want to look back at my life and count all the opportunities I avoided due to fear or self-pity.

Come see me in thirty years. I’ll either be a grown-up or I’ll be in the ground.

I suppose, by this definition, I’m some sort of grown-up. Who knew?

And perhaps more instructive, NASA — no, the other NASA — apparently can’t be bothered to maintain a site for American Iron Racing in any class.

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Heartbroken hopper

I admit to crying at weddings. But breakups can make me just as weepy, especially when they’re like this:

I mean, this was the one cross-species romance that simply could not fail — and yet somehow it did.

I just hope this one isn’t next.

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Followed by twenty years of groveling

News Item: The parent company of Ashley Madison, a matchmaking website for cheating spouses, says it was hacked and that the personal information of some of its users was posted online.


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I haven’t the Vegas idea

Our old friend Cripes Suzette is in Las Vegas, and as always, she’s determined to find out what’s going on:

I wondered what was in the “Intimacy Kit” on the minibar on this hotel room so I picked it up to see.

Feel free to see for yourself. There is, of course, a downside:

And now I’m going to have a $32.00 charge on my bill for moving it off the sensor.

Curiosity killed the Carte Blanche.


Because boys don’t diet

The Coca-Cola Company says so:

I think I’ll take another swig of Dr Pepper.


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Make me a match, already

Does this need explanation?

To quote the guy (29, Harvard Biz grad):

[I]f you work 12 hours/day, how would you want to spend the few waking hours you have left? Probably not standing around in a bar with your fingers crossed. This is way more fun for me.

If the relationship holds up for six months, he writes the check. I, for one, wonder how anyone can have anything resembling a relationship with a person who works twelve hours a day for a few weeks, let alone half a year.

Disclosure: I work about 9.5 hours a day.

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All those darn variables

We have here a clear example of “We didn’t plan for this”:

If bisexuals confuse them so, imagine what pansexuals would do. (Or perhaps you shouldn’t.)

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Yet this is a match?

Online dating, it’s always seemed to me, is problematic by definition; it’s the equivalent of buying a used car without a test drive, and you don’t have anything resembling a warranty. So I’m not too surprised by this question:

Recently talking to a guy on [OKCupid] and asked him out for a beer after a rough day. He replied “only if you’re buying”. Are women giving into this douchebag attitude and reinforcing this kind of behavior? Wtf?

A reasonable attempt to answer:

Have guys gotten more douchey? I don’t know. I think fuckwits like the ones in all of these stories have always been there. Negging isn’t exactly new, nor is concern trolling women about their attractiveness. The reality is that a lot of men feel completely comfortable expressing their unsolicited opinions about our looks or body. Many men are still under the impression that we exist solely for their gaze. As such, they believe they have free reign when it comes to offering suggestions about how we could become more attractive. Because, see, that’s our main purpose on this earth. I think we’re hearing more about this sort of behavior now because of social media.

All of that said, I think a lot of men on dating sites are tired of being used for free stuff. You asked this guy for a drink, which means you should have expected to pay. While completely tactless, it sounds to me like the guy was trying to make his expectations clear. Additionally, I think it’s safe to assume this guy wasn’t terribly interested in you, which brings me to the dating leagues issue we often discuss here. If this guy was genuine in his interest for you, he wouldn’t have said that. He would have met up with you and offered to pay.

Apparent conclusion: loser, but not necessarily typical loser.

Test drive concluded. Return vehicle and keys, and never speak of this experience again.

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Stepping out

Caroline Cossey is a fairly normal Southern housewife with a trace of England in her voice; she’s sixty, she’s tall (6′), and since she lives in Kennesaw, Georgia, she owns a gun. But once in a while someone stumbles across the memory hole, and in this month’s Playboy there’s a repeat of a 1991 pictorial of Cossey under her nom de model Tula, and a new interview with the woman once known as Barry Cossey.

Tula in styleMinor anatomical detail: Cossey was born in 1954 with a variation on Klinefelter’s syndrome; instead of XX or XY, she was XXXY. She transitioned in her late teens, had The Surgery at twenty-one, and began a not-so-low-key modeling career, perhaps peaking with her appearance as an extra in For Your Eyes Only, which led to her first appearance in Playboy, in her capacity as one of several anonymous Bond girls. Things might have leveled off there, except that one of the more odious British tabloids, the News of the World, put her on the front page with the headline “James Bond Girl Was a Boy.”

Playboy asked her: “Has the growing acceptance of LGBT people made life easier?” She replied:

“I don’t know if I’ll ever stop feeling like a second-class citizen. It’s embedded and instilled from birth. You grow up, you don’t fit in, you don’t belong, you’re bullied. That doesn’t go away in five minutes. I don’t think it ever goes away. When I look back at it all, what I went through was tragic. But how do you deal with pain? You shrug it off. That’s the British way of doing it, at least.”

Would she do another James Bond film, if asked?

“I would never say no to something that’s tastefully done, but I’m not expecting to grace any covers anytime soon.”

Her 1991 pictorial was tastefully done, but, if you don’t mind my saying so, surgical techniques may have improved since then.

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Crush zone

The July Collectible Classic in Automobile is the legendary Alfa Romeo Spider, manufactured from 1966 to 1994, and Kara Snow’s description of her ’74 made my heart melt a little:

The Spider adds a little Italian sophistication to everyday life. Rare are the days one can cruise the sun-dappled country roads of Tuscany or visit Verona for espresso and biscotti at a posh outdoor bistro. Yet I can wrap my head in a diaphanous scarf, don sunglasses and driving gloves, and stomp on the gas pedal with a Prada stiletto, transforming the mean L.A. streets into an Italian daydream. You’ll get no such experience in a Mazda Miata.

If your immediate reaction is “Well, yeah, but the Mazda won’t break during your daydream,” let me go back to the end of the previous paragraph:

[M]ost repairs can be done in the driveway. For instance, I replaced the Spider’s stock Spica fuel-injection system with twin Italian-built Weber carburetors in an afternoon.

For, you see, I have daydreams of my own.

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Relax and jill out

The last time we checked in with the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, they’d come up with a term to replace “hymen”: “slidkrans,” which has the advantage of not meaning “membrane.”

That was five years ago. And it’s not like the RFSU has had nothing to do since then:

Last year, Swedish Association for Sexuality Education announced it was holding a poll to find a new word for the act as an important step in establishing equality for the sexes. Now, from more than 1,200 suggestions, the winner has emerged as “Klittra,” a combination of Clitoris and Glitter.

Guys, of course, have been holding their polls for years. Or something like that.

But what about further afield? The reaction to the story in the English-speaking world suggests that there isn’t currently a suitable term for female masturbation in English, and the concept and etymology of the Swedish term make it a perfect candidate to fill a void that is just as pressing in English as it is in Swedish.

So don’t be surprised to see Klittra make the move across languages in the next few years and establish itself as the world’s universal term for what is, after all, a universal act.

Mulva (or was it Dolores?) was not available for comment.

(With thanks to Nancy Friedman.)

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From the very depths

After several years of wry but (mostly) cheerful breakup songs from tall blondes, I suppose it was time I went as far in the other direction as is humanly possible:

For lack of a better description, this is grief personified. And towards the end, she does what she must: she puts herself as far away from the source as possible.

If I’ve ever done this to you, can you ever forgive me? (The answer, of course, is No.)

(Via Sheila O’Malley.)