Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stuck: Beauty and the Beastly Confusion

[“I’ve always been best at rushing into things, and then running away from them,” she said. “It’s the wanting to run to things that scares me, and the leaving them in a slow and organized fashion.”]

I’ve been feeling “stuck” a lot lately, both figuratively and literally. I got “stuck” between Cait’s bathroom door and sink, which is no mean feat for a petite girl like me, but I somehow managed to get momentarily wedged in there, which was hilarious at the time. What was not so funny was getting a slug “stuck” between the bottom of my foot and flip-flop during the spur-of-the-moment 4 mile EpicTrek Alli and I took last night to find the best view of the heat lightning across the lake. Or getting a beetle “stuck” between my toes later during the same adventure. (Alli seemed to enjoy my utterly girly shrieks though, so it wasn’t all a disgusting loss.) But most aggravating of all, I seem to be “stuck” somewhere half-in and half-out of a relationship with Mr. Perfect.

I feel as though I am in a science experiment no one ever decided to tell me about. There’s the control group: women who have been broken up with; the standard: women who are in relationships; and then me, toeing the line somewhere in the middle because although he opened the “friends” door, Perfect neglected to throw the chain off—AKA: things are pretty business as usual. I am beside myself with confusion.

My hypothesis: although we both know that in the overall scheme of things, a relationship would not be the wisest thing to start at the moment (hence that discussion a week ago), neither of us are exactly willing to let go. Or, it seems, really change anything. Apparently, Perfect got the Hostage Relationship memo, because he’s doing his own job of keeping me quiet, close and (somewhat) satisfied rather well.

Being “stuck” and confused does not suit me. I am someone who is constantly in motion, be it physical, or, in the odd moment you can catch me lounging and seemingly doing nothing at all, most likely mental. For example, the time during my morning shower when because I am “stuck” doing the things I do by motion memory in my 10’-by-4’ white cubicle is my most mentally productive. That’s when I come up with my best ideas, revelations, and thoughts. Now that those wheels are clogged and slow with relationship un-bliss, I am not a happy camper.

I feel an overwhelming desire to get out of the city. But then, I get “stuck”. Where to go? What to do? I don’t want to go home yet, or to go ride my poorly neglected (and apparently, ever increasingly wide) pony, because Cait and Alli and I are going on a road-trip next weekend to go swimming with waterfalls and my fixed (read: nonexistent) income doesn’t allow for another tank of gas to be bought. So, that leaves me “stuck” in the city until the 3rd or the 4th, and I’ve already done all the requisite city things to keep busy—strolled Church Street, shopped, took myself out for tea, went grocery shopping, visited friends, went to the beach, etc. I have a slight feeling that my urgent desire to physically flee Burlington may be directly correlated to the fact that I am “stuck” emotionally, and there’s nothing I can do to evade that problem short of having another one of those lovely chats I am so not fond of of the “what are we doing, again?” variety.

What we are doing is what’s confusing me. I know, I know, I was the one plotting to keep this relationship hostage—I just didn’t plan on it actually happening. I’m “stuck” somewhere in between trying to figure out the right amount or timing of texts and messages to make them “friendly”, while Perfect is still sending me my morning wake-up texts. Our conversations, though while a little more awkward than originally—let me tell you how hard it is for two very sexual people to try and purposefully cut the “sexual things” out of their communication for the sake of being “friends” and not “overly friendly”—are still frequent and charming. I am still the first person he responds to when he gets coverage, and I still take priority when he’s out with his friends, but is still texting with me. He is still the first person I think of to text whenever I have news or am bored out of my mind, which is frequently. We are “stuck” being large parts of each other’s lives, but with no idea as to where or how we’re supposed to fit. It’s an odd transitional period that doesn’t come with any sort on instruction manual or handy survival guide—I’m having to make the rules up as I go along. A “stuck” girl is a girl in trouble.

What does a “stuck” girl look or act like, you may ask? Look for a girl with two primary facial expressions at the moment—perplexed/frustrated or zoned-out/bored-to-near-tears. Look for a girl who’s a little bit flustered—possibly saying or doing things that aren’t in agreement, or frequently losing track of her thoughts or what she was saying. Appearance-wise, she’ll look as pulled-together as normal, although when you look into her eyes they may be a bit panicked. A guy’s name will (totally uncontrollably) be every third word out of her mouth. There will be some obsessing going on, running the gamut from about him, to about her, to about life, to about the date on the milk carton and wondering if it’s ok to drink it one day past the sell-by date. A “stuck” girl will try to distract herself from her “stuck-ness” many different ways, so look for someone busy, busy, busy with self-made hobbies or activities of really no importance, or a To-Do list a mile long. Or for your best example what a “stuck” girl looks like, stop by. I’m usually home and in need of distraction from being "stuck."

Meanwhile, in between all the self-made reading and writing and tanning and visiting with friends, I am “stuck” dissecting over and over and over what went wrong or how I could possibly fix whatever is going on. Without a job to take up my time and mind, I have turned into a professional worrier. Possibly, a professional sign-reader. Without any clothing folding, phone answering, or customer servicing to distract me, I have taken to trying to interpret the deep and imagined meanings of all the texts Perfect is sending me. I fret the differences between the two-line texts he used to send me, and the one-line texts I sometimes receive now. (Does it mean he’s trying to blow me off?) I (try to) delve into all the possible emotions behind a “Haha”, a “LOL”, or a two-word message. The exclamation points that used to drive my perfectly punctuated self mental are now mourned like dead children if they don’t appear in a text. When he doesn’t respond to one of my non-response-needed texts (AKA: “I woke up at 7 this morning and still feel like a morning zombie after coffee. And an hour drive.”), it sends me into frantic spirals of “is he ignoring me?”s and “did he used to not respond to these?”s. I am driving myself, and I’m sure everyone else around me, crazy. But I am working my ass off to maintain the light, normal and un-weird conversations of days and weeks past, and I feel like I need to be thrown a bone before the next text I send is, “Perfect. I’m working my ass off here. Throw me a fucking bone and act normal.”

So to the age-old question: should I call him on his weirdness? Or is it weirdness made up in my own head because I expect things to be weird? Or like all women have a tendency to do that I believe goes hand-in-hand with flirting with disaster, am I thinking about this too hard? What if the problem is all in my head? But would I rather be “stuck” there, or really have hit the brakes with Perfect and be “stuck” with him in the real world? Where would it be harder for me to live with myself?

Obviously, the only thing that can really solve any of these (often asinine) questions would be to speak with the man himself. I don’t know if I’m ready to do that yet. Granted, it’s been the longest time yet that we’ve gone without seeing each other and he’s due up for a “girl’s visit” with Cait and I ASAP, but I don’t know if I can handle another “what’s going on?” conversation so soon. I know, I know—I bitch when I can’t talk to him, and I bitch about not wanting to when I could. It’s a woman’s prerogative, you know. But really, what could I say? “Stop being weird even if you don’t think you’re being weird because I’m desperately trying to maintain the charade that everything is fine and peachy here and I am fine and peachy with everything that’s happened even though I periodically burst into tears in my room when I try to open the windows and I can’t and the only thing that I can think of is that if you were here, you, in your hulking manliness and weight-lifting strength would surely do it for me if I asked nicely?”

Yeah. That would be an Oscar-winning speech.

In the meantime, I am not (physically or anatomically) dead. In fact, I was recently turned away from a research project UVM is doing on Women’s Sexuality because after answering the phone interview questions on things like sexual appetite, sexual desire and desired frequency of sex, it was determined that I would be an outlier and skew the data. Oh, yes. The libido is still alive, folks. It just has no outlet other than being beaten into submission at the gym. (I now think I understand Perfect’s two-hour gym-sessions. That poor man must be more sexually frustrated than I am, though I just clocked in my first hour and a half work-out. And have upped both the weight and the number of reps to my weight training.) Cait once said that I have “cute guy” radar like nobody’s business—I scope them out like a professional hunter, and if one is within a two-block radius, I will find them. It’s true—I do have a weakness for attractive men, and yes, I do look quite a lot. (I even found myself looking—to my utter mortification and to Cait’s amusement—when she and I and Perfect were all out for dinner one night. Hot man after hot man kept passing. It’s a wonder I didn’t get whip-lash from all the looking I was doing while Perfect was blissfully and thankfully unaware, mowing down single-mindedly on his lo mien beside me.) I am, I guess, the little girl that never grew up, and the world is my men-stocked candy store. It’s just the fact that though I may look, and appreciate, and possibly even flirt, when it comes down to it, all it takes is to get a text or hear a particular deep and velvety voice or see a certain face with beautiful bone structure, a long and straight nose, and red cheeks for me to think, “Yes, that is the most attractive man of them all. That is who I want to be with. Still.” I am “stuck” in Single Girl’s Hell—wanting, waiting, and wishing.


(I'm not 100% pleased with this post yet, though I've been, haha-- "stuck" writing it for the past four days. Expect edits in the future. I just need to clear it off of my desktop for right now, let it lie, and the come back to it when I can (hopefully) think more clearly.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Hop, a Skip, a Week, and a Drive

(Authoress’ Note: This column is a little out-of-order-and-line with the next one to be posted that I’ve been working on for longer, but this one just begged to be written and posted today, so here it is. I’m such a sucker—it’s hard for me to deny anything.)

Today was one of those days that I swear to God I rose awake like I’d levitated out of my bed from 0 to 60 and was basically screaming that I needed to get out of the city, out of the rut I’m in, and out of everything I know. These four walls (actually, taking the recesses and odd angles into account, these eight walls) of mine that I sit in day after day have closed around me so hard and so fast I’m searching for the sign posted somewhere that cautions to “please, do not feed or try to pet the girl.”

My apartment is a loaded and ticking time-bomb full of both happy memories and memories not-yet-made. I can’t look at my bed without thinking of the boy who so nonchalantly walked in and plopped down on it, stretching out so that his massive body took up most of the space, or how he rolled over to make room for me as we laid side-by-side and talked for hours. Or what else we did in that bed, in those sheets, on those pillows. Those pillows, which when I bury my face in them at night, still hold a whiff of him—soap, clean laundry, country air, and musk. On my closet door hangs that damned scarf I carefully slip-knotted for future use, (what use that is, I’ll let your over-active imaginations fill in the gaps. If you know me, you’ll get there.) Opening my closet door, I’m hit by a double-whammy of sensory grief—the scent of the soap I bought because my magnolia-scented shower gel wasn’t manly enough to share were he to spend the night again, and the bags, yes, bags of lacey, pretty, sexy, extravagant things bought at Victoria’s Secret. (The money I bled to them has me on first-name and friendship basis with all the sales associates in both locations in Burlington.) Under my bed, the condoms on my stereo that taunt me, asking when I thought they were going to be used? My laptop—he said it was nice and used it, his fingers on these same keys I’m pressing on right now. Every time I look out my window, I see the bridge we stood on and talked, just the two of us. I’m starting to distrust my very decorating skills because of how he looked around said, “I like this room. It’s comfortable. I like that you did with it.”

There are more things, more memories—how he sat on the sofa, propped up against the throw pillow, how he bounced on the ball in the living room like an over-grown, hulking child—us standing side-by-side in front of the bathroom sink and vanity, both of us brushing our teeth and looking at each other in the mirror. I love my apartment, but right now, I want to break up with it. Home is supposed to be my haven; where my heart is. Right now, my heart is elsewhere, and not residing in this little borough of Burlington. Right now, Melancholy has moved in, bring her roommates Despair and Frustration with her. Some women would take all these things and get rid of them, a sort of detox of the relationship and heart and home. I am of the grin-and-bear-it type, myself. I figure if I have made my bed, slept with him in my bed, and spent afternoons with him on my bed, I can damn well lie in it and contemplate what I’ve done.

The scream of frustration, boredom, pain,—whatever—that threatens to rip out of my vocal cords has been growing larger and larger every day that I come home, turn my key in the lock, and see these things. The urge to scream because I can’t do anything else to fix, change, or alter this in any way other than by discussing it with him has become almost overwhelming. But of course, I’m sure the rest of the apartment building wouldn’t exactly like that, and you best believe I have a set of lungs on me. (Thank you, Mrs. Harlow and eight years of choral training, six years of projection teaching from theater, and smoking and exercising for lung capacity.)

Today was one of those days that I couldn’t sit still or stay in the same place for the life of me. I wrangled Alli into agreeing to go on a road trip with me to Stowe, a town I’d never been to and was a comfortable enough distance away for me to feel like I was escaping without using tons of my non-refundable gas. It was the perfect day for a drive—sunny, with rain showers that turned the valleys between mountains misty and serene. It’s true, what they say—you can take a Vermont girl to the city, but you can’t take the Vermont out of the girl. I needed the sort of country atmosphere I grew up in—I needed the familiar sight of a small town, a white church steeple, a clapboard old one-room school house. I needed sugar shacks and cows and dilapidated barns. I needed badly paved roads fallen into disrepair that made my Little-Honda-That-Could’s long-gone shocks groan as they came back down to earth after being launched into the air by the remains of frost heaves and pot holes. I needed long stretches of road that ran alongside sandy rivers without any other car in sight, but possibly, a moose hiding somewhere in the swamp. (Moose crossing signs—another thing I love about Vermont. To me, a moose crossing sign for the next 15 miles would be a great way to get kids in a car to shut up and focus—bribery mixed with a sly, “Hey, what was that?” when they start to lose interest would achieve amazing results. And who said I’m not good with children?)

And moose crossing signs I got. And covered bridges. And cow after cow after cow. And ice cream. And a very speedy and white-knuckled drive through Mr. Perfect’s hometown.

I swear to God I wasn’t planning on it. It was one of those things where after driving to Stowe the first time to scope it out, and through Stowe to the outskirts of town (not hard—Stowe is far smaller and more touristy than I expected), I looked over at Alli and said, “Hey, do you want to keep driving?” When she said yeah, I called to mind all the maps I had looked at in detailing this excursion. “If we continue on 100, we can pick up 12, which will take us into Montpelier and then back to 89 and Stowe for dinner at Emily’s Bridge.” What I failed to remember until we were well on our way there was the fact that we would be driving right though Perfect Central. ‘Please, please, please,’ I prayed more fervently than I ever had in any church in my head, ‘Be at work. Be at home. Just don’t be on the road.’
I thought I was hiding my anxiety well until Alli piped up. “Wow, even I’m a little bit worried.”

I looked over at her. “If I see a 4Runner, I’m ducking, and you’re going to take the wheel and steer. Hopefully, he’ll be too shocked that there’s apparently no driver that he won’t notice the car or who’s in it.”

“I’ve been on 4Runner patrol for the past few miles,” came Alli’s response. “And I was planning on ducking too.”

Let me tell you: I’ve been that girl in awkward situations like this before; been at the receiving end of a highly skeptical “what are you doing here?” look or speech before. This is why I generally don't go to hometowns before I'm invited by the resident. Life just likes to fuck with me this way—if I can run into someone at an inopportune time, I will. Another lovely quirk I live with. Sometimes, it’s amusing. When you’re being called a crazy bitch, not so much. Thank whoever or whatever was watching out for me today and giving me the “get out of jail free” card, be it a manager who scheduled work, or a stop along the way for a few minutes that made our paths impossible to cross, but it remains—I got out clean, and unseen. My dignity, (what little there is to begin with,) remains. I didn’t have to make any (truthful yet shaky) excuses. I didn’t have to do the awkward wave of shame and see those familiar eyebrows raised in surprise and shock.

The drive home infuriated me. It’s ridiculously, stupidly, mind-numbingly easy to get from his place to mine. In fact, Montpelier itself is probably the most wheel-and-teeth-clenching part of the entire 45 minute drive, and that’s only because I don’t my way around. For someone who does, it’s probably cake and easier to drive than Burlington. As I ruminated over this fact, I made another realization—the time and mileage it takes to get from Point A to Point Me is almost exactly the same as what I used to drive three or four times a week to and from the barn I board my Super Pony at. Granted, I am far more in love and committed to my horse than I am to this guy, but still—the point remains the same. I’m used to this kind of drive. Hell, I’m a road warrior; the kind of girl who just wants to drive and drive and drive off into the sunset. I live for the kind of quiet and reflective time this sort of drive allows for, when it’s just you, the road, and something or someone at the destination you can’t wait to see. It’s the kind of drive I’d do for fun, let alone for someone I liked. And here I am, with no reason to do this drive or now know the way because we decided to bail out before I was able to say, “hey, it’s not fair you’re always driving to me—why don’t I meet you for a movie or dinner or something?” Life is kind of funny like that—I always seem to find the way after the fact it’s needed.

After an afternoon eating hummus and cucumber sandwiches in front of a covered bridge supposedly haunted by a young girl who committed suicide after her lover stood her up on the night they were supposed to elope, I returned home to my apartment to discover that the exorcism wasn’t quite perfectly executed, and I was returning to all the same old ghosts I had left. There’s nothing quite so sad as a woman left hanging.

(It’s 2 AM and Perfect will probably be waking me up in 6 hours with a good-morning text. I need to sleep. This beast needs editing, but I also promised a post tonight, and I keep my promises. If you’re reading this before noon on the 28th, please stop by again shortly, because there will probably be edits and revisions made to this that I’d love you to see. Thank you!)


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The (Boxer) Briefs

Because I am not, as some might assume, always plagued with romantic drama or spewing forth column after column (those things take work and hours and dedication and actually a topic or event to happen, you know), occasionally, to keep you readers in writing, I’ll be posting short(er) entries like this one with a “this is where I’ve been, this is what I’ve been doing, and this is what’s up” theme. There are always multiple things I can address, just not all of them in a longer format, so this is ideal. These sort of girl-about-town entries will be a mish-mash of either comments, quotes, short reviews on events, people, places, movies, books, etc; wish-lists, or just some social commentary. They’ll all be tagged under a “Girl About Town” file, too, so look for that.

Last night, I spent a Girl’s Night (plus Travis) at my favorite couples’ apartment. Some, (ok, I’ll be blunt, MOST) couples render me either squeamish, bored or murderous with their PDAs and sickeningly cute and happy togetherness. For a (newly) single girl, it’s like pouring salt and alcohol into an open wound and then sticking your fingers (or tongues) into it. The other night, one of the few exes I’ve remained friends with stopped by with his (non-fuctioningly stoned) girlfriend. As they cuddled on the floor in the living room, I fired off a text to my friend Madison. “They just kissed,” it said. “Someone is going to die and my sense of self-preservation is very great so I don’t think it’s going to be me. If anyone asks you, it totally wasn’t a premeditated double-homicide.”

Barring the couples that make me want to choke to death on my own vomit rather than witness yet another of their grope-fests while sitting awkwardly beside me, I actually have a few that I like. Emily and Travis (he’s going to be so pleased I’m writing about him—here’s your love, XOXO!) are one such couple. They’ve been together for over two and a half years, and have progressed past the point of the just-new and romantic to the sort of nonchalant closeness that can really only be achieved after you’ve lived together with someone for an extended period of time and share the same bathroom. Case in point: last night, after Emily made a gentle dig at Travis, he mimed jacking off and ejaculating at her. She laughed and mimed throwing it back at him. I mean, really. I love this. It’s perfect. This sort of playful sense of “you’re such an idiot but I love you anyway” is what I aspire to, one day.

My roommate, close friend, and part-time semi-personal chef Alli whipped up chocolate-covered strawberries and home-made hot cocoa for all of us (yes, this is the life I lead. I am blessed,) as we caught up over Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations". (If there was ever any question, I am totally and utterly besotted with that man. In fact, while watching him eat a mouth-wateringly good-looking sandwich in Brazil, I commented, “I could totally screw Bourdain and eat that sandwich at the same time. Totally. And you know what? He’s probably into shit like that.”) While Travis went to watch what will remain an un-named TV show in the bedroom, Emily, Alli and I all sat in the living room watching (irony,) “He’s Just Not That Into You” and discussing the sort of things women talk about while together: sex, men, porn, food, relationships, marriage (or lack thereof—both Alli and I are of the same school of “I want to live in sin with you forever and ever and ever rather than go through the white dress and pomp and circumstance and legal proceeding” thought), and other things. Here are the general findings of the night:

Sex and “Awkward Firsts”: The first time you have sex with someone is always the worst. You have no idea how the other person jives, what turns them on, or the little things they either like or can’t stand. I always have a problem figuring out how much noise my current partner can tolerate. (It’s a delicate balance, as I am almost unapologetically loud. Legs loved it, but with the much quieter Mr. Perfect I wondered if it was a little bit much.) And then you have to figure out if the person you’re with is a Listener or a Watcher. (A Listener gets off on sound and speech—aka moaning, panting, yelling, screaming and dirty-talk. A Watcher prefers to watch the act of sex and penetration. Most Watchers unsurprisingly have a pretty well-founded porn habit. When I asked Cait how Perfect spends his free time and she responded with “He likes to swim or bike; he spends time with his sister or his best friend who lives right by him; he has high-speed internet-”, I cut her off because that right there answered my question about some of his habits and explained a lot.) You break the moment during foreplay or sex (if you even succeeded in creating a moment,) to give warning notes and asinine information. You effectively sabotage yourself with your nerves. You destroy the very essence that is truly amazing great sex. And for what do you give these warnings about ticklish spots or apologize in advance for anything that either may or may not happen? So that you might hopefully end up having truly great, amazing sex. It’s basically shooting yourself in the foot. Or, more specifically, in the dick or vagina. The only way to really get to know how someone has sex or what they like is to keep having sex with them—something that I’m trying to figure out how to approach after my uncharacteristically nervous first time with Perfect that left me feeling as if I didn’t perform to my high standard and we have since decided to try “just being friends.” To my knowledge and experience, friends don’t shack up and there was no “with benefits” added to the end of that statement, so I have to figure something out. Plotting time is now.

Men, and How To Pick One Up: We came up with this jewel while discussing the heart- and panty-breakingly attractive waiter at a downtown restaurant. Alli started the conversation, and I tried jumping in when Emily cut me off, saying, “Wait! You have to hold your tongue!”

“I can barely hold my legs closed!” I protested, but it was worth it when after Alli came up with the pick-up line of “I just want to know what your mouth feels like. Is that ok? Can we do that?” I was able to come back with a “Possibly your penis in my vagina, too. Is that still ok? Does that sound good?”

Also discussed, Madison’s new boss at her summer job: a twenty-something all-American football-body type guy with the almost buzzed hair and bright blue eyes that bring to mind an apple-pie Marine or man in uniform. His nickname? Juicy McHotHot Boss. Oh yes. That’s one man that gives me office-sex thoughts, which is no mean feat seeing as I’m a journalist to try to escape the cubicle and be able to do my job from somewhere much more comfortable and private—namely, on my bed, in my underwear and a men’s t-shirt, like right now.

Porn, or Girl Porn 101: Some women hate porn. Some women love porn and will watch exactly what the guys watch. Some women have never watched porn. Some women have watched enough porn to get either sick of it or casual about it, because let’s face it—when it comes down to it, it’s just two people having sex. You can do that on your own time. I fall into that last category, but I recently stumbled across the equation for good porn for the every-day woman: foreign porn + a little bit of a plot + hot foreign men + 5 minutes’ worth of oral sex for the woman in it - a half-hour blow-job scene - anal sex or weird fetishes- ridiculous amounts of cum = good porn. “Field of Dreams” and “Cutting It Up In The Kitchen” come highly recommended. Granted, you can’t understand a word they say, but do you really need to?

In other news, summer weather calls for shorter hemlines on sundresses and afternoon plans. My favorite ways for a single girl to keep busy? The Self-Date. Dress up cute, but casual and comfortable, and go take yourself out someplace. (I, yet again, proved to myself that I am not a cheap date the last time I went out for tea and the latest issue of Cosmopolitan and ended up spending over thirty dollars on new novels in Borders.) Here are some of my favorite ideas for spending some quality you-time:

- Find a local tea house or coffee house that has a casual and relaxed atmosphere with couches or armchairs that encourage staying for awhile. Bring a book or magazine and treat yourself to a beverage while you read and relax. Dobra Tea in downtown Burlington has a great dark interior that suits brooding types and heavy thought, while the Vietnamese Sapa around the corner is brighter, more sunny and feminine, and serves not only bubble tea but some of the largest and best chocolate truffles I have ever had, in flavors like champagne, raspberry, crème de menthe, and espresso. Total cost should be somewhere around ten dollars if you bring your own reading material—more if you buy a new magazine for the occasion like I tend to. Also, some books I've read lately and highly reccommend: "The Wilde Women" by Paula Wall (blissfully snarky and sexy), "The Last Summer (Of You & Me)" by Ann Brashares (of "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" fame and possibly the best book I've ever read), "The Jewel Box" by Anna Davis (Carrie Bradshaw does the 1920s and London), "Girls In Trucks" by Katie Crouch, "Eat, Love, Pray" by Elizabeth Gilbert, "The Moonflower Vine" by Jetta Carleton (lost classic, but goodie), "The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club" by Jessica Morrison, "All This Heavenly Glory" by Elizabeth Crane, and "How To Teach Filthy Rich Girls" by Zoey Dean (of "The A-List" fame).

- Go to the beach and get some sun! Now is the time for free tanning and bikinis! I’m a fan of working out the night before I hit the beach and eating a light breakfast that morning for maximum teeny bikini confidence—freshly worked-out muscle is visibly firmer. Bonus is that most beaches around Burlington are free if you just walk in. (At North Beach, park in Burlington High School’s parking lot if school’s not in session. I’ve even done it sometimes when it is. Shhh!)

- A veritable marathon of good new movies are out—I haven’t heard one person who’s seen it say one bad thing yet about “The Hangover” and “The Proposal” with Ryan Reynolds looks downright yummy if only for him. “The Ugly Truth” with Gerard Butler and the always effervescently lovely Katherine Heigal is coming out soon—a definite must-see. For one ticket, some either chocolatey or buttery snacks and a slushie, you should have yourself a fun time for about twenty dollars.

- Go for a drive, if you have the wheels. Small towns in New England are so charming to drive through. (Hint: if you’re in the Burlington area and planning a short road-trip like this, fill up your tank at the Cumberland Farms or Shell station on Riverside Ave. Gas there is the cheapest in the area that I’ve been able to find.)

- Have a Girl Night. My personal favorite is to hole up either in my room or on the couch with a few episodes of Sex and the City, a few pieces of expensive and good chocolate (Lake Champlain, Lindt, or the cheaper but just as rich and creamy Dove), and a beauty regime. As a true native Vermont girl, I like to mix the natural and the classy—I’m fond of Burt’s Bees: their Milk and Honey lotion, Dr. Burt’s Acne Stick (just as good as the prescription goop I was paying $90 a bottle for), Almond Milk Beeswax hand cream—also good for chapped elbows and knees and heels—, Rosewater and Glycerin Toner, Shea Butter Décolleté Crème—does wonders for firming up the delicate skin—, Marshmallow Vanishing Crème—so refreshing!—and the Evening Primrose Overnight Crème. (That makes the skin on my face so soft and smooth the next day I can barely keep my fingers from caressing it-- potentially awkward!)

Oh, and the title? For those gentlemen of you in the know, boxer-briefs are the way to go. They do for men what the Miracle Bra does for women—puts everything where it should be, makes it look visibly firmer and tighter and bigger, and says, “Hey—look at me. I’m hot stuff.” I’m particular to men in variations in black or dark colors and smooth or silky fabric, myself. While I know that they’re not for every man, I actually suggest doing what Legs used to do (yes, I’m telling you that something he did was right): on the mornings that you wake up and life feels really normal, wear your beloved boxers. If you wake up and feel like today’s a good day and something exciting or special is going to happen, whip out the boxer-briefs.

And if you’re a die-hard boxer man—solids, stripes, and tasteful plaids are the way to go. (Actually, I love a man in plaids.) Please, overwhelming patterns of things like hotdogs, crabs, surfing pigs, or bananas (if you don’t believe me, go to ae.com and look at the men’s boxer selection), are absolutely either crass or juvenile. If I were to undress a man and find “party pickles” on his boxers, that would be my cue to walk out the door. Just saying.

Until next time,


Sunday, June 21, 2009

This Isn't A Hostage Situation, This Is A Relationship.

I have a friend about whom an inside joke is often passed around about. It deals with the fact that while we know and remember well when her relationship with her ex-boyfriend ended (and believe me, I know and remember that night well. I was pulled out of having sex with Legs when his room phone rang and he answered it with a mystified look on his face and handed it over to me, saying “Um, it’s for you,”), and we know that she knows that it ended—there was enough crying and grieving for this fact to be very obvious—but since then, she’s stayed so close and friendly with her ex that it causes us to roll our eyes and say poignantly as she trots down to his room night after night, “She got the memo, but she’s forgotten she ever read it.”

What I’ve decided to try is not that. Oh no. I got the memo that Perfect and I had a conversation about what we were doing and where it was going, and we both agreed that jumping ship now was logical seeing as he’s going away to college for the first time in the fall—dear reader, have I ever mentioned he’s six months younger than I? Well, he is, and deferred a year to boot, which would make him a lowly freshmen and me a lordly (ladyly?) junior—and doesn’t want to start a relationship that he doesn’t know could survive the move, 3 and a half hour drive, and emotional tension of not knowing where your significant other is, who they’re with, or what they’re doing at all times. (I get the feeling he could care less about things like that for the most part. I, unfortunately, live, breathe and survive for these not-so-small details. After being cheated on once (thank you, Inappropriately-Aged Boyfriend of six months), I’m very partial to knowing these things, and along with my penchant for jealousy and the fact that Perfect attracts female friends to himself like a walking, talking tower of muscular honey to their lusting, loving, besotted bees, this all seems logical for our non-continuation.)

Logical, I am not. Unfortunately, he is so practical and linear in his thinking that you could probably align your new Ikea bookshelf’s levelness with his thought-process.

What I propose instead is holding this relationship or whatever we have (had?) going hostage. Yes, that’s right—I’m not just going to take this laying down. I’ve heard the phrase, “it takes two people to be in a relationship, but only one to end it,” before, and for the most part, I agree. Our decision was more or less mutual—him more mutual, me less. He was the one that laid down the “I don’t want to start a relationship right now” line. I was the one who tried to compromise by waving the “can we back down to just having sex?” flag. Thankfully, he called my bluff and raised me an “I don’t think we can just do that. I’m past that point in my life.” I settled with his “let’s continue to keep in touch and visit and stay friends.” What I was thinking was, “what do you suppose the land-speed record for getting you back into my bed will be?”

I figure if anyone can hold a relationship hostage, it would be me. I am a master negotiator since childhood (being an only child and spoiled rotten will do that for you). I am used to getting what I set out for and not used to taking “no” as an acceptable answer and see no reason to start now, especially as this is something I genuinely care about. Who should be afraid of a little relationship pain? I am a big girl (actually, I’m rather petite, but you get the point). He is a big boy (literally). I’ve been through the worst—being completely and absolutely deserted by the man I loved after he took what he wanted from me and graduated, moving to Maine and days filled with waiting tables and smoking weed. Perfect was cheated on by the first girl he seriously dated, and left by the first girl he loved for another guy. We’re both no strangers to heartbreak. Which makes me wonder why two strong people should be afraid of something like distance and possible work to get what they both want.

So, I got that memo about the whole “no-more-sex” thing. I also received the one about staying close. And I definitely read, underlined, and took notes on the one where we both agreed on the same things: our mutual “clicking”, enjoying spending time together, and being together. Here’s where I’m ready to negotiate with Mr. Perfect: I will refrain from initiating sexting. I will refrain from wildly ripping the clothing off of his body when I see him, like I have the strongest urge to partly because he’s down-right delicious and partly to prove that the sex we had was not the best I can give, by far (this is the fact of our treaty that probably irks me the most, no lie. He has an idea about how I go about sex that is completely different from the normal, sober and absolutely fabulous way it really is). I will allow a few more days or hours to pass between our texts and messages than I have previously. I will appear to back down, a bit.


I am not going to be persuaded into this peace-treaty so easily. I am not going to back down and lay down. My middle name shall no longer be “Doormat”—I will not say “welcome” to all stipulations. I’m going to fight for this. Part of this comes from the fact that although I’ll admit this was the easiest break-up ever, possibly because it wasn’t “I’m just not that into you” but “I’m into you but I don’t know if we can do this without getting more hurt in the long run,” as well as partly being because after going through what Legs put me through anything short of being shot at point-blank range by a lover wouldn’t sway or shock me. Another large part is because of the fact that after more-or-less surviving the horrible relationships and break-ups of my past, I do not blossom to new relationship candidates horribly quickly. Sure, ok, my legs may spring apart like a well-oiled nutcracker, but my secrets and fears and desires and thoughts are slower in coming. (Much slower.) Because of this unfortunate fact and the short time-span Perfect and I spent “together-ish,” he is not aware of the fact that I’m quite possibly the world’s hardest worker inside of a relationship I think is worth it. Or even passably worth it, if the relationships of the past are anything to judge by. I’ve done distance like between his house and my apartment before—although then it was my house and the Inappropriately-Aged Boyfriend’s apartment and a half-hour away, not 45 minutes away. I can be that girlfriend that makes other guys sigh and consider trading in theirs for. I travelled to frisbee tournaments and doled out Icy-Hot, Gatorade, and kisses. I stay equal if not more active in the sex-drive groove of things. I road-trip to visit with the best of them because I actually enjoy driving. I accepted custody of dogs on weekends with all the gravity of a divorced mother. I buy condoms and usually go Dutch on dinner. I love and appreciate football and action movies. I played Boyfriend-Catch-And-Fetch-Express to those of which didn’t have cars. I hid weed on my body and in my personal possessions so that it could be sold and distributed more easily. I cook for Guy’s Night—and I cook in the first place. I bake like a fiend. I snuck favorite treats into cars and lockers and gym bags. I swallow, for Christ’s sake. But does Perfect know any of this? No. So guess what? Perfect is going to learn some of this, whether he thinks he is or not.

It’s genius and more than a little sneaky. If done right, Perfect will never even notice that while we had that “what are we doing, where is it going, and how is this going to work out” conversation that ended in a “let’s be friends for now” clause, he’s actually still in exactly the same thing he was in previously. Sure, the invitations to visit won’t be based on my naked body and The Party Shower in my apartment, but there will be invitations to things like clubbing and sailing and beach days and nights, clothing optional for the skinny-dipping man. (I can also think of no better things to tempt a self-professed “love to grind” dancing man back into temptation and my bed than going somewhere dark and hot and sweating it out pressed together on the dance floor. And you better believe I’ve got moves.) And ok, so I won’t be participating in blatant sexting anymore, but I’ve got a vocabulary a mile wide that contains many words with innuendo-filled meanings that a young guy can’t help but notice and think about.

Can you hear my evil chuckle, reader? I live for this sort of thing.

Perfect himself is showing some promise as far as being a happy hostage is concerned. Playing the Perfect Gentleman as always, he called Cait the day after he and I had our conversation to ask her how I was because he didn’t want to contact me before I contacted him first, not wanting to risk upsetting me or pushing in on my reflection time. (Cait, for her part, as much as I love her to pieces, did not really aide in my plans when she told him I was “fine, a strong girl, and going to find something new and exciting.” Not quite the message I would have wanted him to get as I’m not quite “fine” and certainly not looking for something “new and exciting” yet.)

(Attention for an important Side Note: It should be noted that despite the well-meaning but misplaced comment above, Cait is an invaluable source for information on all things Perfect. Being the one who set us up and has been one of his closest friends for the past few years, her knowledge is where I go to for insight into his behavior. The skinny-dipping text message incident that drove me bonkers? “Well, it doesn’t seem like him to say something like that to make you jealous, and he always goes skinny-dipping, so I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

As for the whole distance-relationship thing not working? Cait gave a decisive snort. “He probably talked to Baby Mix about it. He’s the only person Mr. Perfect really talks to about his feelings. Baby Mix probably told him it wouldn’t work and to dump all home baggage before leaving. He probably said, “Look at what happened to me and Cait.”” If you can’t tell, that was one hell of a long-distance break-down and break-up.

And possibly most telling, this gem: “You two clicked. That can’t be denied or taken away. He wouldn’t have slept with you and visited and texted and kept so in touch if he was just leading you on to dump you. That’s not Perfect. But if he’s having feelings that he doesn’t think will work out in the college scheme and get him and you more hurt later, yeah, he’s going to try to do the best by both of you, even if it isn’t what either of you really want right now.” And that I won’t deny—he’s done right by me. I’m the one who’s a sucker for the trying things that probably won’t work. Closet masochist, anyone? Or not so closet…)

These above “feeling” related insights and the instance of the caring enough to check in even if he can’t do it first-hand are the reasons why I’m not ready to give up on this thing yet, even if Perfect thinks he’s helping me and himself out. If he’s got the right feelings now, and I’ve got the right feelings now and we’re in the same place, why not? So, yes, maybe it may not work out. And yes, maybe we will get a little banged up and emotionally dented and hurt in the long run. But you know what? I’m willing to try, and try hard. As a dear friend of mine once said, “We’re big fans of trying real hard.” Another one of my closest friends, Emily, herself the veteran of a two-and-a-half-year relationship still going strong that was a year of distance between Pennsylvania and Vermont, has given me the thumbs up in trying the distance thing. “If you let a relationship happen, and it’s good, who says it can’t make it the distance in college if you’re willing to try?” she says. Perfect’s worth the trying, from the little I’ve learned and felt and seen in our month. And I like to think that if the boy has any sort of feelings like that for me, I’m not one to correct his assumptions and set him straight. He can get on with him and his feelings and his bad self and actually do the leg- and time work to discover if I really am worth it or not. Just trying is a beautiful thing. I’ve learned some of my best lessons in life just trying. I highly suggest it, not just to him, but also to you, too.

Today, when I texted him—the most seemingly cliché text ever: “Hey. How are you?”, four three-letter words that tried for nonchalance while still feeling heavy—for the first time since we talked that fateful night, he responded later within seconds of getting coverage, per usual. (God love Verizon for letting you know the instant when other members have received a text. It’s almost better and certainly less creepy than a personal GPS unit imbedded in your lover. Again with the “knowing where and when” thing and its importance to me.)

“Good, you?” he responded. (Actually, in his text, there was no comma between the two words, but it hurts my writer’s and writing tutor’s eyes to even imagine leaving it that way, let alone typing it. We’ll forgive him, though—he’s dyslexic and not a huge fan for writing or good at it by any means. One imperfection I actually find endearing when it’s not his only choice of punctuation—the exclamation point—unwittingly on his end screaming at me from my cell phone’s screen.)

Due to the late hour—11 PM—and his habit of going to bed at the unreasonable hour of somewhere between 10 and 11 PM that being an early-morning hours night-owl I just can’t fathom, I responded as lightly at first as possible before hitting the real point. “I can’t believe you’re still up, hahaha. I’m ok.”

“Good! Yeah, we were out late.” (I like the assurance of good-feeling to my well-being, and I’m taking the “we” to mean him and his best friend and other half, whom because of his appearance made my roommate remark that he looked like the young offspring of Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp shall henceforth be referred to as “Baby Mix”, whom he is apparently staying with for the weekend. Any further guesstimations on the “we” make my head hurt and stomach clench uncomfortably. Also, they’re very unfounded, where as Baby Mix is well founded as he’s Cait’s dreaded ex and she likes to have Perfect keep her informed as to where Baby Mix is and what’s going on to remain as far away from him as possible. Ah, the tangled webs we college students weave with our high-school romances and continuing friendships.)

Realizing I had nothing more to really say to Perfect, short of “I think we’re making a massive mistake and don’t you know I’m willing to work at this?”, I opted for a Little White Lie. “I’m actually getting ready for bed—I’m trying to get to bed sooner and wake up earlier. And by ‘earlier’ I mean around 9:30. Can I text you back tomorrow? I’m turning in.”

“Sure, that’s fine. Night!” (Again, no comma in actually text, but you better believe it’s legit because of that exclamation mark.)

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” I promised. “Goodnight.”

Overall, a nice start to the “we’re going to keep things normal starting with communication” part of our deal and my plan. Basically, I’m mostly disregarding what we agreed on and angling for a relationship to happen anyway (out-of-the-blue to him until the day he wakes up and goes, “Wait…I think…”), and will try to make it work when he goes to college. I’ll keep you posted on how the rest of this hostage situation goes, of course. Until then, good luck with your own “trying” endeavors.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

How To Find And Lose A Guy In One Month

Screw “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” After my forth failed one-month relationship with a guy (yes, that is four different separate incidences), I decided that by this point, I’ve become a veritable mistress on the subtleties and nuances of how to find, and lose, a guy in one month.

The first one-month stint ended mutually because Catholic Boy loved God and his Mommy too much to be flexible with a pagan princess. The second time, I was dumped via text message after the foreshadowing “fade-away” tactical maneuvers the Flaky Artist put me through. The third time around, still not any wiser, Legs graduated and deserted my life, sans calls, sans text, sans messaging in a move that would have made Witness Protection proud. This last time, coming to you hot off the emotional presses as of an 8:30 PM phone call last night, was by far the most healthy and normal “monther”, if you can get over the irony of that statement.

And so, without further ado, I give to you, dear reader, my pearls of wisdom in how to find and lose a guy in one month, four weeks, or 28-31 days, which ever seems most appealing to you. (For the record, Perfect and I somehow made it to one month, one day, and a three minute and 34 phone call. Achievement.)

Step One: Have a friend, preferably living with you, decide to introduce you to their best guy friend that they’ve known for years. Listen to them sing their praises, look at the pictures they show you, (you must see the goods, after all,) and then, (this is VERY IMPORTANT!) decide that this friend-of-a-friend is “no big deal” and you will “maybe meet them for a few minutes if you’re home when they come to visit.”

(Step One, Side Note: It is imperative that this guy friend of your friend/roommate lives 45 minutes or more away, took a year off between graduating high school and college, and is starting college in the fall, three and a half hours away. We’ll get back to this. Bonus points if he loves dancing and salsa dances, traveling, sings and plays and instrument, used to ride horses, spends two hours a day at the gym, and is as frankly sexual and explicit as you are.)

Step Two: Actually be home when the male friend comes to visit. Actually, be the one that opens the door for your friend/roommate and their visiting friend. Watch this person who you previously deemed not really worth your interest walk across a dark and dreary parking garage and think only one thing: “Wow.”

Step Three: While you are getting acquainted with this impossibly attractive, funny, hulking manbeast with your two other female roommates, be sure to send them both a furtive text message as soon as humanly possible after deciding that you like this dude’s groove. It need only be one word: “Mine!” and it will also serve as a time-stamp as to when you first laid dibs and made moves on this guy. Slink away to make a note that you have found the World’ Perfect Guy on Twitter, and then realize that That Perfect Guy is actually standing in your doorway, watching you Tweet away. Pretend nothing ever happened. Also, make sure, via your friend/roommate, after her guest leaves, that you two both mutually dig each other. (Addendum clause: Just a hint, alcohol should be involved somewhere in this first meeting with each other, as it will lubricate your tongue and unhinge your brain from your mouth and cause you to actually have the Jose Cuervo balls to say something like, “Are you a player?” to this person you may be interested in seeing again when his cell phone won’t stop vibrating with other girl’s texts. Bonus points if all these girl’s names begin with the letter J. But hold off on the spilling things and falling down until after he leaves.)

(Step Three, Side Note: If at all possible, have your friend/roommate’s birthday be within the next four days, and try not to be too excited when, less than twenty minutes after he leaves, your friend/roommate’s guy friend texts you to tell you how nice it was to meet you, and that he’ll be seeing you again soon for that birthday.)

Step Four: Four days later, when the friend/roommate’s friend comes back for the birthday, get both of you drunk. When it looks like he’ll have to sleep on the living room floor, in your intoxicated state(both by the liquor and by the lust), invite him to share your bed, saying you don’t take up much room with a liquidly coquettish look. After hours of playing, piggy-back rides, talking, and in the dark of your room, both of you laying in your bed, him on his back, you on your stomach, sometimes both of you curling in on your sides to face each other like a set of parenthesis, him using his cell phone to play you the music he wrote, sang, and played—sleep with him. Yes, you heard it right. The second time you meet this person, have sex with them. Really.

Step Five: Make sure the next morning is really awkward-- that you have to leave for a road trip at 9 AM; that your mother calls you while the guy is still laying in your bed naked and you are three feet away; you discover that you’ve left scratch marks all over his arms and back like he was mauled by a wildcat while trekking through the Amazon; that you will feel really bad for the girl who spent the night on your couch and probably had to listen to both your friend/roommate and her boyfriend get it on, not to mention you and the guy you slept with, who, oh, did we mention? is also a friend of the girl-on-the-couch’s…go through your morning routine in a flurried state because you’re trying to pack, and leave, putting your deodorant and acne stuff and make-up on in front of this guy who’s just lounging in your bed and watching you in fascination, and somehow try to figure out if he is ok with what happened, and is happening, or just as appalled as you are…sit and talk with everyone around breakfast for ten minutes, then wave an awkward good-bye to your friend/roommate, the girl-on-the-couch, and the guy while running out the door.

Step Six: Do not stress about this for the next six hours. Who am I kidding? Be massively, wretchedly, not-butterflies-but-rabbits-gnawing-on-your-stomach-lining worried about this. Continue feeling this way on-and-off throughout the next month because he is PERFECT, perfectperfectperfect, and you are a recovering alcoholic with a cigarette problem who previously has only dated losers and didn’t perform so well last night because of your extreme state of intoxication and nervousness because HE’S SO PERFECT and OH! you can barely even remember most of what happened other than the sight of his long, dark eyelashes and bulging biceps in the yellow glow of your lamp, set to its dimmest and most ‘moody’ setting.

(Step Six, Side Note: Over the next month, gradually remember more bits and pieces from that night in the most random times and in the most random places, like during your first meeting with your internship boss in her office. Try to make sure she doesn’t notice you’ve broken out in a light sweat and are trembling.)

Step Seven: Feel 16, 891,212 times better about this when the guy texts you that afternoon to check in, see how your road trip was, and acts completely normal. Continue to exchange texts, phone calls, and Facebook messages almost daily for the next not-quite-a-month now. Make plans for him to come and visit which will inevitable fall through because he gets sick. Sext with him while interviewing bikers at a local pizza places’ Bike Night. Then, be over-the-moon when he comes to visit a friend in the same town and makes plans to see you—this will happen twice—, and you end up seeing each other three days in a row, or four days in one week, culminating in him coming to your birthday bash and meeting all of your friends who will all adore him, even the guys—one (straight) guy going so far as to call him “studly”—, and going to his old high school’s graduation with your friend/roommate who also went there, where you will meet a few of his friends, see, but not meet, his father, and have two hometown girls try to roast you alive where you stand on the track with the ferocity of their gazes when you walk up and start to talk to him.

(Step Seven, Side Note: Buy a new very summery, cute and demure dress for this graduation experience as you will have nothing parent, child, or parent-and-child-attending-event friendly in your closest.)

Step Eight: Toward the end of the month, while sexting (per usual—you will have to become very adept at this quickly, as well as not to succumbing to demands for photos of you, or the lingerie you just bought, or you in the lingerie you just bought, no matter how much you really want to, because really, as the friend/roommate says, he is a hound and it’s better to keep the suspense going), when he tells you in response to your “I’m so horny they need to invent a new word for it because I destroyed the meaning of the previous one,” text to “fix it,” pretend to ignore this text and don’t respond in your livid rage. Actually, this is a good move. For real.

Step Nine: Get woken up at quarter to eight the next morning when he texts you asking, “Did you get my text last night? You never said anything back!” Be elated he actually realized your uncharacteristic silence meant something. To applaud this good behavior, go out and spend over $200 in Victoria’s Secret on assorted bras, underwear, and garters. Also, totally ignore your tried-and-true buying-men-clothing-never-turns-out-well curse (case in point: that purple men’s large hoodie draped over the back of your chair that now doubles as your second bathrobe instead of actually ever going to the person it was bought for), and buy the boy two brightly colored t-shirts that will look striking as all hell on him because you remember the “I only wear muted colors but want to start wearing brighter shirts” conversation you had with him.

(Step Nine, Side Note: Now, look back on this later and realize that although ridiculously inexpensive, it STILL is not a good idea to buy men who you are seeing clothing, because this is also the fourth time you have bought clothing and been left with it and a potentially awkward, “Um, so I know this is kind of weird now, but I bought you these shirts before, so here, have them,” conversation.)

Step Ten: After a couple days of feeling weird and waking up from cryptic dreams to find yourself clinging desperately and apologetically to the body pillow as a stand-in for him, totally freak out (to yourself, your roommate, and your friend/now ex-roommate, but not to him), when he sends you a text saying he went skinny-dipping with friends late last night—a guy and about six other girls. Oh, and it was “fun but cold.” Rant and rage to everyone but him, to whom you say it does sound like it was “fun but cold.” Get up on your Jealous Horse (not a far climb), get it to calm down and get somewhat under control (for the most part), and spend an hour drafting the perfect “I have something to tell you, and what it is is that I have no clue what’s going on between us” text that hits all the right hints of self-depreciating, caring, and chill. A text that basically says, “Hey, so it may be No Big Deal, but I got a little jealous and realized I need to figure out where I stand.” Wait an hour for him to text you back. When your cell rings with his custom ringtone, know it is not good instantly and retreat into a room more suited for talking to him than on the couch with the friend/ex-roommate holding a hookah pipe. Take a few seconds to make “oh, shit, I’m in trouble but let’s pretend I’m not and SO CHILL” small-talk with him starting with “what’s up?” like you have no idea what’s going on and then going on to ask him about the movie he just saw, before he cuts to the chase and asks YOU where you stand on things. Come clean and tell him jealousy is a “less-admirable trait” of yours. Tell him you “really like him and enjoy spending time with him and seeing him.” When he tells you that he also enjoys you and those things but is heading to college in the fall and so not looking to start a relationship back at home that he doesn’t know will survive the transfer(refer to Step One’s Side Note!), decide you’re ok with still just having sex as a last-ditch effort. He comes back with “I’ve been thinking the past few weeks and I think that I’m past that.” Realize that you are both on the same page, in the same book, in the same place—hooking up is not enough, a relationship is too much, but somewhere in the middle (AKA: business as usual) would be great but neither can see it progressing without actually turning into a relationship—but it’s the wrong time. Decide to stay in touch as usual, still visit, and “just be friends” for now, even as your libido, bank account, and daydreams cry. End relationSHIT. Hang up phone. Proceed to smoke through three cigarettes and drink yourself so drunk you try mistakenly watering your just-blossomed marigold plant with the Smirnoff.

Voila! You have successfully found, met, bedded, casually saw, and lost a man in under a month! I would say “Congratulations,” but that hollow feeling in your chest and the sense of whiplash at how fast it all started and ended kind of cancels that out, doesn’t it?

(Author’s Note: No real people were used in the creation of this column. Any personality traits, characteristics, places, or events mentioned therein are all merely coincidental if they are you or happened to you. Except for if you’re the authoress and then, yes, they all happened to you and they are all real people mentioned.)


The Games People Play

[The scent of my cigarette as I lean over my keyboard makes me ravenous in a way I don’t like to admit, probably like how a sex addict craves the feeling of first penetration. Scratch that. I know that’s exactly how it feels.]

The first day I met Mr. Perfect, two significant things happened. The first was an example of one of those brilliant moments in life when liquor helps you discuss the issues that you normally wouldn’t be caught dead asking. While sitting side-by-side, knees touching on my living room sofa and watching Mr. Perfect keep reaching into his jean’s pocket time after time for his vibrating cell phone, Cait, my short-term roommate, our mutual friend and his closest friend for years, asked innocently, “Oh, Joellen?” Mr. Perfect gave her a look and muttered, “No, Joa.” Three minutes later, it was Janessa. The number of girls he knew whose names began with the letter J wasn’t the only thing that shocked me; it was also the number of texts from different girls he was getting all at the same time. In a moment of tequila-induced insouciance, I piped up, filter between thoughts and mouth not working. “Are you a player, Mr. Perfect?”

“No,” he said, looking a little embarrassed. “I just have a lot of girl friends.”

“Oh, so you’re a pimp? Ladies is pimps too,” I told him, mock-brushing the dirt off my shoulders in a moment that would have made Jay-Z proud to have penned those lyrics.

Mr. Perfect laughed with a charming grin and then acquitted. “Kinda.”

“He’s not a man-whore,” Cait agreed, which was enough for me and Mr. Cuervo. Privately and later, without tequila clouding my thoughts, I would re-evaluate this occurrence.

The second significant thing was a surprise. I didn’t realize that when Cait gave me Mr. Perfect’s number in case of emergencies (i.e—her cell dying while they were out and about in her car that was in the process of wheezing its last death-rattles,) she had also given him my number. So it was a very pleasant surprise indeed when not even twenty minutes after he had left my roommates and I to our drunken girl’s night, I received a text from him.

“It was very nice to meet you!” it said. (I didn’t know then that this marked the start of my love/hate relationship with the exclamation points that Mr. Perfect was so fond (exclamation point!) of using.)

It was cute; it was polite; it was unexpected. I’ve always held much stock about men who are willing to text you first, which is probably where the problem started. Jersey Blunt, for all of his faults (illegal substance and legal issues included), still managed to surprise me with a few random texts, most of the time about needing community service or getting new weed in, but still. This is probably one of the reasons why despite everything, I considered him a great guy. Communication is big with me, and a guy who is willing to communicate first gets extra-big gold-star bonus points. Women do not want to romance themselves. We already do enough of the talking and the typing and the texting. Sometimes, we just want to be pleasantly surprised by nothing more than a “What’s up?” Or, in my case, a “Got more Purple Haze in,” will do, too.

Hence, The Game. The Game is something that I put all my perspective men through. It gets its roots from the school of Playing Hard to Get, with enough feminist thought and self-torture thrown into the mix to make it really interesting. Mr. Perfect was a perfect candidate for the game. We texted each other every single day, sometimes for hours, since the day we were introduced and his first unbidden text message. We’d done this for about 12 days and 2 surprise text messages from him before I decided it was time to make him a player in The Game: I stopped texting him.

The Game is a remarkably simple one. It just involves not taking his name from my cell’s contact list and putting it in the address box of a text message. Also, not Facebooking or calling. Basically, I disappear for either as long as it takes for him to text me, or until I can’t stand it any longer. Usually, I end up calling or texting first, which means that I lose The Game and from then on have to deal with the knowledge that I’m more invested in whatever it is that’s going on than the Man du Jour is and that I shouldn’t expect a call or text from them out of the blue. Which is a little sad, but no more sad than the fact that I find myself having to play this game in the first place. Which begs the question, why can’t we seem to be happy without playing games with other people? Is it a hold-over from the days of elementary school recess tag, when we knew that Jason would always chase and tag Julia because he liked her? Are playing games our twisted way of trying to make our partners realize this and work for something, anything to happen like we are? Or do we just play games to excite ourselves because when it comes down to it, sometimes it gets our blood boiling more to play than to win?

Day One into The Game with Mr. Perfect, and I wasn’t expecting anything. I slept most of it away anyway, using the excuse of the unemployed and slightly hung-over. Day Two, I jumped every time my cell phone rang and ran to get it. By Day Three, I was starting to realize that Mr. Perfect would go about a week before texting to see if I’d died or just dropped off the face of the earth.

This may seem like a lot of needless work and worry to you, dear reader, but let me explain something: I knew I’d have to do this from the first time I met Mr. Perfect. Do you remember the first surprise that I got from him, all the mysterious women and their urgent texts? Well, that told me one thing after he admitted that while not playing them, a lot of women constantly called on him: that he was used to women hounding him for both his attention and his time. What throws a pimp more than one of his flock not needing him? Nothing, dear reader—nothing. It’s that logic is playing hard-to-get that while I can’t seem to follow in the bedroom, I eagerly apply to The Game: people want what they cannot have. If I fail in that aspect when it comes to abstinence, then I’m going to be the only girl not getting arthritis in her thumbs from texting him.

Every woman has her own version of The Game. Some follow the tried-and-true rules of things like the sex-on-the-third-date rule to make sure a guy is interested enough in her to go through three separate instances of public and monetary showmanship. Some enlist physical touch or making their hands (or any other body part, for that matter), available to see if the offer is taken. Others doll themselves up in heels, make-up and particularly pretty or provocative outfits to see if they can make men remember that they are, in fact, pretty damn fine women, and not just that girl who he always crashes on the sofa with wearing jeans and a hoodie. Still more women play the jealously card and go so far as to blatantly ogle other men or casually mention in passing to their beau another man who has recently admired them/complimented them/ asked them out. These are the games that women play, and we are not the only players. Men may either realize it or not, but they are almost always engaged in some sort of cleverly connived feminine subterfuge. (Scary, isn’t it?) If it’s done well, a man will never even know what hoops he’s being made to jump through—he’ll just know that he suddenly feels a strong urge to do something, the result of which is probably the means to the end of the game. Games and their outcomes tell girls a lot more about a particular guy than dating for a number of months or hours spent talking could.

This isn’t to say, gentlemen, that the next time you feel the urge to pick up the phone and call a lady, you shouldn’t because that means she “wins”. Dear lord, please…take what I’m saying with a grain of salt. There are no real “winners” or “losers” to these games. The only thing that can be said to be “won” is a sense of what is going on—if you’re into us enough to make a move, be it picking up the phone, taking our hand, threatening to take out a co-worker with wandering eyes, or asking us out for a forth date. And the only thing that can possibly be “lost” is the sense of an equal attraction. I know that my desire to let Mr. Perfect know what’s up every day means I want him to be part of my life; by finding out if he has the same desire to know what’s going on in my life or include me in his lets me know that I can let my guard down and let him in, and not have to worry so much about those fifteen other girls with names like Janelle and Joanna and Jessica. Now that you know what’s up, please, be a little more proactive—if you want your sex life to get better and/or more frequent, I guarantee you, this is the secret to making your life easier. Call or text her first, just to say “hey”. Compliment her on an outfit or on a choice she’s made. Take her hand when you’re out and about for no reason. Tell her that one of her male friends makes you feel jealous, even if it’s complete bullshit. I’m giving you gold, here—what women are really after. And the best part? You’ll win The Game, and she’ll never be none the wiser that you’re on to her own Game. Nothing like a little competitive spirit, eh?

As for Mr. Perfect? I folded and texted him on the afternoon of the third day. Score: Perfect, 1. Carissa: 0, but a sense of relief.


Perfection, or Lack Thereof

[“It’s not my fault…if I know it’s out there, I’m going to go after it. I’ve never been good about not giving into temptation,” the small girl said, biting her lip guiltily. From the kitchen, her roommate leveled a ladle at her like a sword. “Maybe that’s why you never made it as a Christian.”]

I have, admittedly, a few bad habits. Maybe even some downright nasty ones. On the nervous tick side, I chew on the insides of my cheeks when I’m nervous or thinking particularly hard, and I picked up split-end pulling as a side-effect of having OCD. On the more destructive side, I’ve already had a brush with alcoholism in high school that has made me extremely wary of vodka, and a small-time pot-smoking habit, mainly for escapist reasons. I casually smoke clove cigarettes, but mostly when I’m stressed or nervous, not as a real habit, and it can take me a month or more to smoke a pack of twenty. I do swear like a sailor or seasoned barmaid, and, if you haven’t picked up on it, am downright casual and outgoing about sex and sexual things.

It’s no wonder one of my high school’s boyfriends’ Roman Catholic mother absolutely despised me.

I’m not perfect.

I’ve been in three real relationships, but had three or four more “things” that defy any sort of definition, mostly because I hate titles and somehow missed out on getting the female gene responsible for making me want to talk about “what’s going on”. My longest (by far) relationship lasted six months. The rest of them, one. I somehow have perfected the art of entrapping, loving, and making one of us in the relationship (or whatever it is we’re doing) check out after four weeks. Despite this, by the tender age of nineteen, I’d already collected two marriage proposals, both of which I’d turned down.

(The first was my seriously older serious boyfriend in my seriously-in-over-my-head six monther. The second came from one of my cousin’s seriously drunk friends at a wedding. That’s my favorite proposal. He was a young heir to a very wealthy New Jersey mafia family and had a last name you would probably recognize. After thirty minutes of conversation with him, he looked at me and said, “Wow, I could marry a girl like you. What do you say? Will you marry me?” I thought for a moment about the repercussions of saying “no” to someone whose family owned a waste-removal business that did inexplicably well and decided that all the Dior in the world wouldn’t make up for having to look over my shoulder for baseball bats, guns with silencers, or piano wire for the rest of my life. I let him down gently, pleading the too-many-gin-and-tonics excuse. He sighed, and told me he hoped I’d reconsider someday because I’d be “a valuable asset to The Family”. I was charmed.)

Although I have been in love with a man, I have never said “I love you” out-loud. Neither have any of my various men ever uttered those words to me. Generally, I tend to consider myself unlovable. At first, I may deceive people into thinking I’m easily loved, but once you discover all my bad habits (see above), spend some quality time with me (read: extended periods of time, like all weekend; special functions; experience me hungry, tired, or really pissed off), or start to see my odd quirks (won’t even go into those), I can even see why most men would rather run for the hills than spend another week with me, let alone tell me they love me.

My mother has always said that that man I end up with…

(Note she says “end up with.” Despite the marriage proposals, I have no intents on ever getting married. I feel it’s a dying institution and find the idea of waking up next to the same person every morning for over thirty-five years of my life like my parents have to be utterly demoralizing)

…Will be someone incredibly interesting who will give me a good run for my money.

Because if he’s not, I’ll certainly manage to get rid of him.

I am loud, bawdy, cocky, have a tendency to have to put my foot in my mouth, saccharinely sweet when dealing with people who I don’t want to have to deal with that they can sense, two-faced in dealing with my personal and professional lives that I see no problem with, have never had to meet the parents and so am terrified to for the above reasons, and generally a very good example of the term “a hot mess.”

But what does this all have to do with anything, you ask? Well, I’ve just met Mr. Perfect, you see. Maybe not my Mr. Perfect, as he’s lacking the blue eyes and criminal record and subsequent nefarious mind that I seem to find so appealing, but I think the rest of the world would agree on the fact that he is Perfection. Hence, the moniker. In fact, I think he was actually behind me the day we met when I ran to my bedroom to Tweet to the rest of the Twitter world that I had “met the perfect man, and in fact, I think he’s standing right behind me as I write this.” If so, he was perfect enough not to mention my zeal and indisgression.

He is six-foot-three, and a solid two-hundred and four pounds of “I work out at the gym for two hours every day and did track and field in high school” muscle. Make that, “I have the state record for a discus throw, too,” muscle. He has soft and floppy brown hair, and bright and mischievous hazel eyes. He has a quick and bright white smile, with teeth that either boast a few thou worth of orthodontia work, or some of the finest genes Mother Nature ever handed out. He dresses nicely, wears size fifteen shoes, and has hands that are so big his fingers bend down mid-knuckle over the top of mine. (And yes, if you’re wondering…he is proportional.) He’s out-going, and makes friends quickly and conversation easily. (I refer to his disposition as the Labrador of people. Big, charmingly goofy and attractive, and has never met a person that hasn’t liked him. Except for maybe one of my exes.) He has a beautiful tenor singing voice, writes his own music which he performs, and plays the bass. He spent two months in Costa Rica with a few friends this past spring on a whim, and while there learned how to both salsa dance and surf. He, in fact, likes to dance. And used to ride horses. (His family has two.) He is, surprise surprise, just as casual and into sex and sex-related stuff as I am.

And of course, I am not the only one who has realized he is perfect. Of course. But I always did like a good fight, and I never play fair.

We actually met on a fix-up. My short-term roommate Cait just happened to be one of his closest friends, and one Friday afternoon called me into her room to show me pictures of her friend who was going to come and visit. “I think you’ll really like him,” she told me. “You two are a lot alike and I think you’ll click.” His pictures didn’t really do him justice, even after Cait gave me the “track and field, state records, works out, really tall and attractive” spiel. I was indifferent.

“If I’m around, sure, I’ll meet him,” I told her.

I happened to be around when Cait brought him back to the apartment, and went to go let them in from the parking garage. As I held the door open for them and watched him walk toward me, I had only one thought:


Needless to say, we did click, as Cait had predicted. By the time he left that first night, and Cait asked what he thought about me, he told her he thought I was cute and fun and would love to hook up, if possible. I considered it very, very possible.

Four days, a few texts, a collective eight vodka shots, four beers, a half-and-half clove and marijuana cigarette, a drunken invitation to share my bed for the night, some quick meeting of my friends (and an ex), over two hours of soul-searching and past-enlightening conversation, and a cute come-on later, I slept with him. The second time I met him. Though this officially made me a slut, and not, as my best friend protested, “horny and opportunistic,” it was the right move. We both wanted to, so why not? I’ve never held much stock in that whole wait-for-the-thrill-of-the-chase thing.

Since then, Mr. Perfect remains an on-going experience. We’ll see how long it takes him to figure out that under the big blue eyes and quick wit, I am anything but perfect.


No MSG, and no STDs: The Curious Phenomenon of Substituting Chinese Food for Sex

Recently, I found myself with a new boy-toy. Mr. Perfect was, as his pseudonym suggests, perfect. Perfect to look at, perfect to talk to, perfectly nice, perfect in between the sheets, and even so perfect he not only put the toilet seat down, but also the cover and closed the bathroom door when he left, just like I like it. Perfect, that is, in every single way except for the fact that he lived forty-five minutes away with a full-time job and so was not always perfectly available.

I was fine with this for about ten days, which was the amount of time it took for me to become a raging ball of hormones and pent-up frustration. More frustrating was the fact that his weekend schedule included an unplanned-for cold and a previously planned-for visit to his college that knocked our plans for knocking boots and my bed frame against the wall out of the water.

And so, after a week without Mr. Perfect, I found myself sitting bolt-upright in bed during the middle of a Sex and the City marathon with a desire that demanded to be addressed: I wanted, no—NEEDED Chinese food. I found myself fantasizing about…rice. Dreaming of hoisen sauce and stir fry. Fingers clenching for chopsticks to hold. It was the oddest moment of misplaced lust I have ever felt in my entire life.

And I was not alone. One of my roommates had lamented a few months earlier one late night that because she was lacking a sex-life, she had turned to making rice to satiate herself. As I found myself in my kitchen at 1 AM, chopping garlic, boiling rice, adding a splash of soy sauce to my pork and carrots and orange pepper, I couldn’t help but wonder: is my stir fry addiction replacing my need for sex?

Let’s think about this: Chinese food and sex aren’t so very different in the first place. When they’re good, they’re really, really good, and when they’re bad, it’s horrid. Both have the ability to make you sick to your stomach. Both contain three-letter acronyms that hold feelings of dread—MSG and STD. Both are really good the next morning, too, even cold. And the most curious similarity between your lo mien noodles and your favorite sex partner: after a half an hour, you always find yourself hungry for more.

The more I looked around, the more places I saw it. In the early and slow stages of her newest relationship, a friend of mine turned to Tiny Thai’s tofu when she couldn’t get laid yet. Another friend used dumplings as a replacement for her boyfriend after he left, eating them almost every night. And I, the mistress of the calm, cool, collected and self-sufficient, turned up in my kitchen to make a brown sauce good enough to make me forget about Mr. Perfect’s blissfully bulging biceps. If only for that half an hour.

Maybe it’s the convenience of Chinese food that makes us readily willing to use it to replace sex. Like sex, it can be cheap, quick and greasy to get. Unlike your love life at times, delivery is guaranteed in 15 minutes or less. Tipping is done monetarily, and not in emotional change.

But let’s face it: your General Tso’s chicken cannot hold you. It cannot keep you warm at night, compliment your choice in outfit or movie, and if it can ever make you orgasm—well, you are a far luckier person than I. Your beef and broccoli will never break your heart, nor will it ever make you learn from your life lessons. It will not show up unannounced on your doorstep to surprise you just because it thought it would be nice. It won’t call you to ask how your day has been or to tell you it misses you. Your Chinese will never give you the same butterflies that someone else’s smile will. And in this aspect, Chinese food loses to sex every single time.

For the meantime, though, my elegant bowl of julienned carrots and sliced pepper and pork over steaming jasmine rice will fill me up. It will comfort me and make me sleepy. It will warm up my stomach, and it will make me satisfied for this next half-hour. And after that, I can go back to wanting Mr. Perfect.


Why You Need To Grow (Huge) (Invisable) Made-For-Dating Balls

The (almost only) unfortunate fact about sex is that the only way to get better at it is to have more of it in the first place, yet the idea of propositioning a guy kind of makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth with sheer nerves and terror. There is no convenient game-based program you can hook up to your TV and play for an hour or two to gain more “Life Skills Sex Points” and hone your craft, like how you can play Mario Cart to practice acing your driver’s test. Instead, you have to find people who either like you enough to sleep with you, or are stupid enough to sleep with you. (Don’t hate—you know it’s true.)

Thus, I believe, dating was invented, along with the whole torturous process to go about procuring a date. Dating, of course, only came about as a way to wine and dine someone into submission so you could sleep with them. Once in awhile, you hear about or find yourself on one of those rare things called a “great date” in which conversation flows as freely as the liquor and you find yourself walking beside someone in the cool night air thinking, “I could totally put up with this person’s ridiculous quirks for like, a month or two.” But mostly, dating is about the sex.

Because of this, some people have evolved to the point where dating feels like a superfluous, out-dated notion; the last time I went on a bona-fide date was, umm…ah…well, last year? Needless to say, I’m not much of the dating type. In fact, you might say I’m a dating disaster. Dating and I just don’t seem to go hand-in-hand. I’m the kind of girl that actually fights a guy to go Dutch over the bill, can’t relax when he pays for all of it, and then gets flustered and accidentally opens the door for him while he stares at me and wonders why the wolf pack ever let me stray out of the forest. However, I am a huge proponent of the “let’s-just-stay-home-and-order-in-and-watch-a-movie-and-destroy-your-couch” method. That, I understand.

But more and more recently, I’ve been hearing more men say that they want women to be the ones asking them out and making the moves on them. I have a group of male friends who were all griping in their apartment one afternoon about the fact that more women don’t step up to take the pressure off and ask men out, and they should. I don’t know how I feel about this. The overwhelming argument is that the men have the penis—if you want to stick it in, you ask the girl out. On the flip side, if I really want to have sex with you, well, I’ll just have to grow an invisible set of my own balls and ask. But just let me state the way the formula has worked for years, even centuries: it’s the girls’ job to make it obvious that she’s interested in a guy, and from there it’s his job to actually say, “Hey, do you want to do something sometime?” (Hopefully, there’s a little more thought and clarity put into this statement in real life.) (For you guys, just a hint—there should be.)

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with empowered women asking men out. All the power to those girls who can just waltz up to some dude and say, “Hey, you’re cute; let’s grab a bite to eat and then fuck.” This is just to say that for all of my blunt, free-wheeling talking, I am still kind of old-fashioned at heart. I get heart palpitations at the thought of having to find you at some point when you’re not hanging out with all your buddies, and string coherent words together that somehow get the main point across of “please consider going somewhere with me for an evening so I don’t feel like a huge slut when I sleep with you that night.” I am slightly loathe to go into that territory. Mostly because I never seem to get able to get that point across. Instead, it comes out as something along the lines of “Hnnnnnghhhh…uhhhhn…didyouseethefinalscoreofthegameanddoyouwannacomeover?” I am ridiculously chicken-shit.

Just be ready to expect this, guys. Just like some of you don’t want to be the only ones putting yourself out on a limb when you’re jonesing for some spring-time lovin’, some girls are never going to be the type to say “you wanna go out sometime?” Your best bet in this case would be to start reading body language…we girls don’t just happen to make prolonged eye contact and flip our hair and touch you by accident. Unless she has a chronic neck spasm and no sense of personal boundaries, she likes you. There’s a beginning. Go from there, my horny college students. Happy hunting!

Although the author was born with the express purpose in life to write about love and sex, she would occasionally love some advice about what to personally lambast next. If you have a relationship conundrum or social issue you’d like to see her investigate in her own special way, email her with it.
(Marriage proposals, spam, and misdirected emails will be deleted. Slavish praise and the phone numbers of hot men always appreciated. Laughter mandatory.)


He's Just Not That Into You, or "Don't Expect Me To Ever Call You Again After This Movie."

Right now, the movie adaptation of He’s Just Not That Into You, the best-selling self-help book based on relationships, has reached the second-place spot in box offices across America, and is being touted on TV as “the perfect date movie”. But I ask you, what sort of guy would take a girl to see a movie that will blow the cover wide open when later that night, he tells her he’ll call her soon, and never does? Taking a date to see this movie is kind of like ripping a band-aid off quickly so that it doesn’t hurt; I would feel as if my date was trying to prove the point that he doesn’t really like me all that much and was trying to head me off at the pass so he could avoid the calls I would leave on his answering machine for a week afterward. Which is why I went to see it with four of my favorite single girl friends.

From the beginning, it should be noted that the movie is not a strict follower of the book, mainly because the book is a self-help guide, and therefore, has no characters. What the writers and director of the movie, (Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein of Never Been Kissed writing fame, and Ken Kwapis of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and NBC’s The Office,) did was to take the basic scenarios of the book and create characters who go through the experiences, including “He’s just not that into you…if he’s not calling you,” “he’s just not that into you… if he’s not having sex with you,” “he’s just not that you…if he doesn’t want to marry you,” and last but certainly not least, “he’s just not that into you…if’s he’s married (and other insane variations of being unavailable.” (I actually just quoted those examples from the table of contents of the book, which I own, and which I read, if that gives you any further reassurance that I’m confident about what I’m talking about here.) The basic plot-line weaves a tangled web of would-be romance and intrigue: Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) just wants to find a guy and takes Alex’s (Justin Long) advice, while her co-workers, Beth (Jennifer Anniston) and Janine (Jennifer Connelly), respectively can’t convince their men Neil (Ben Affleck), and Ben (Bradley Cooper) to either marry them or not cheat on them. Meanwhile, sultry singer/yoga instructor Anna (Scarlett Johansson) is fooling around with Janine’s husband Ben, and slighting her wannabe-leading man, Conor (Kevin Connolly), friend of Alex, who just happens to meet unlucky-in-love Mary (Drew Barrymore).

Besides featuring an obviously star-studded cast, the movie also boasts some wonderfully cheeky lines, such as when Anna tells Ben he has a “dry-hump-able ass,” and some cringe-worthy moments of truth that viewers can relate to and feel for Gigi as she throws herself on Alex, only to be rejected, yet again. But what fascinated me most about this movie was not, in fact, the movie itself, which has received moderate reviews, (it scored 6.6 stars out of 10 on IMDB.com, as well as 2.5 out of 5 possible in the New York Times’ review section,) but rather the people who came to see it. I went, as stated, with a group of single girl friends, all of us well-dressed, articulate, and (I would hope) averagely attractive. Other groups of similar college-aged women peppered the audience in groups ranging from twos to seven or eight, who all “ooh’ed” and “aww’ed” and laughed and groaned at the appropriate times. A few couples cuddled together and smooched loudly through the decidedly mostly unromantic movie, which really made me wonder why they had come to flaunt their together-ness in a dark theater full of single women to see a movie about why men are such douche-bags and why women are so crazy about emotions and overly-analytical. Oh, and did I happen to mention this was on Valentine’s Day?

The sort of guy who takes a girl to see this movie on Valentine’s Day is also the sort of guy who, as Ben does in the movie, would tell his wife in the middle of Home Depot that he’d slept with another woman. I sat there, stunned, in the dark theater, and then actually murmured out-loud, “But there are power drills there. And power saws. And staple guns. Why would you tell her that somewhere she could easily hurt you with large, expensive machinery?” Not well thought-out. Unfortunately, the writers decided to take this scenario somewhere I would never expect it to go in real life if it involved a woman with any self-respect or sense of vindication, and instead Ben’s wife, Janine, takes a moment to mull this information over and responds with a bland, “We’ll work through this.” The writers seriously missed a chance for some good, realistic, full-blown action here.

On the other hand, the sort of single girl who goes to see this movie on Valentine’s Day is a closet masochist who just wants to quickly run through why she is single again while she internally panics while wondering if she and the delusional Gigi are really so alike, but brings friends to remind her of what to do, and what not to do, next time she goes on a date. Also, it doubles nicely as an intervention meeting. If you have a friend who just can’t get out of her own way love-wise, just pay eight bucks for her to see the damn movie and hope something sinks in. While Greg Behrendt, main man behind the whole “He’s Just Not That Into You” philosophy can be downright depressing at times, some things he does seem to get right across the crossed lines of gender-miscommunication: if he’s not calling you, he’s not interested, so don’t waste your time calling him, ok?

Otherwise, the movie was visually pleasing: attractive cast, with someone for everyone. (Ben Affleck has aged really well, by the way. Like fine wine. Or maybe whiskey.) Good lighting, bright and cherry in some scenes, and dark and moody in others to reflect the feel of the current action. Nice setting and sets—night shots of Baltimore after dark were a refreshing change from the glitterati of New York, while the apartments and offices of the characters told you more about their characters, from the obsessive-compulsively color and modern architecturally schemed construction going on in Janine’s new house to funky Mary’s eclectic and warm-colored advertising agency’s headquarters. Other than the odd choice of putting Scarlett Johansson in t-shirts tucked into high-waisted and chunkily belted jeans (blasphemy!), costume and make-up was classy, classic, and well-done. In short, the men were well-dressed and rugged, and the women looked like they had been ripped out of the pages of the latest J. Crew magazine.

My humble advice? If you’re a single girl who wants a reality check and will take any excuse to ogle Ben Affleck or the quirky and humorous Justin Long in the dark, grab a couple friends and go spend the money to see this on the big-screen. And if you’re a guy, do NOT bring a girl to see this movie no matter how much of a good idea she thinks it is, because buddy, after 120 minutes, your shit has been blown wide open, and you’re going to have a suspicious date glaring at you when the lights go up asking, “You are going to call me, right?” Ouch. I hope you weren’t planning on getting laid.