Wednesday, July 15, 2009

For Finding and Keeping

How To Be A Stellar Girlfriend, Or, Ways To Make It Virtually Impossible For Him To Leave You Without His Buddies Killing Him And Jumping To Line Up For You:

#1: It starts simple—the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach. If you can, cook for him. Or if baking’s more your thing, bake yummy things that will make the entire house or apartment smell edible. Even if you think you’re a horrible cook, just seeing you doing something in a kitchen hits a man in some primal part of his brain. Baking brownies from a box is remarkably simple and hard to screw up—try it sometime when he’s around. Or, invite him over for a dinner. I have a fail-proof recipe for seared steak and parmesan oven fries that very well could inspire fights, marriage proposals, or un-ending relationships. (Though you may say, “then why are you still single, smarty-pants?” Well, I haven’t gotten the chance to cook it for any of my men, yet, although a friend’s boyfriend DID have some of the oven fries and declared that if he weren’t an already taken man he would ask me to be his girlfriend. And that was just the fries! Imagine what a good steak could to do a red-blooded man!)

#2: Sneak their favorite treats into their car, gym bag, locker, refrigerator, office, apartment; whatever. Whether it’s chocolate covered gummy bears, like one of my exes, or a six-pack of their beer of choice, a new set of tongs for the grill, a pack of the condoms he likes, or the newest issue of Maxim or the movie he’s been waiting to come out on DVD, when he finds it, he’ll instantly think of you and how considerate you are.

#3: Treat them out to dinner, a drink, or a movie, like they would normally take you out. It’s a cute way to reverse roles and seem like you’re saying, “See? I’m with him. I’m proud of him.” They’re so used to being expected to pay for the women’s way , or at least attempt to offer if you normally go Dutch, that he’ll feel like he has a girl who’s really happy to be with him, and not with his checkbook.

#4: Ok, so, this one is a bit cliché, but so true. Give them head while they watch their favorite movie at home. The only thing that could possibly make “The Departed” more is if his dick is getting sucked or whacked off while the mobsters onscreen are getting whacked, too—just in a different, more Italian, Cosa Nostra way.

#5: Go buy something new from Victoria’s Secret or your favorite local lingerie shop that they’ve never seen you in before so you can spice up a night with the newness of it. Bonus points if it’s something you don’t normally wear, like garters and a garter belt, a corset, or a teddy. It will give him a new sort of thrill to see you in something new to both of you. Plus, hey, you both get to christen a new item of clothing. Ahhh, memories.

#6: If you live farther apart, make sure you split drive-time to visit each other equally. Gas is expensive, and plus, no one wants to feel like the host all the time. Swapping who drives each visit shows that you’re willing to put in your share of time, mileage, and gas to make this thing you two have going work—that you will physically drive to see him.

#7: Bone up a little bit on his favorite sport. Wikipedia is a good place to start for quick information. Really, if during a game you can tell the difference between a three-point shot and a free-throw attempt and what it’s worth, he’ll appreciate your effort and enthusiasm. Also, it might behoove you to know what the real definition of a “tight end” is.

#8: If he’s going to be spending nights at your place and needing someplace to wash up in the morning, get a couple extra toiletries to make him feel more at home. Get some manly soap so he doesn’t have to use your girly shower gel and then go into work, or worse, use nothing at all because he doesn’t want to smell like magnolias and jasmine. Buy a spare toothbrush in case he forgets his; believe me, this is a godsend to you, too. Make sure there’s an extra-big towel in a gender-neutral color that he can use—blues, greens, browns, and reds are good. No man wants to have to use your pink, you-sized towel, because let’s face it, you won’t be able to stop yourself from laughing when you see it wrapped around his waist like a dishtowel from the kitchen.

#9: Respect the “guy time.” Like you need your time with the girls without him so you can tell them all about your life with him, he needs time with his boys without you so he can either tell him about life with you, or actually not have to talk about you for once because you’re not there. If you do want to be included in the guy-time, ask him if he wants to invite the guys over to your place for a movie-night or casual Friday night. Offer to cook or provide the snacks as an incentive. Once they’re there, don’t monopolize conversation or try to distract them for the real reason they’re there: the movie, the beer, and your boyfriend. Let them do their thing. Watching the dynamics can be interesting and educational because you get to see your guy in his natural habitat—with other guys.

#10: If it’s not a big deal, and you can realize this, don’t tell him and try to make it his big deal, too. I see so many girls who make drama because they can’t help it and then drag their guys into it, which then drives him nuts, which then she can’t understand why he’s freaking out at her, too. Really—if you can work it out for yourself, lady, you do it. If you can’t handle it, then go to your girl friends. Only if you can’t help yourself, or can’t turn to your friends or mother for advice or an ear to rant to, then you go to your man. Half of the crap, yes, crap that is going on in your life or your friends’ lives he doesn’t want to hear about. The other half he’ll be more open to hearing and helping you with if you don’t burden him with made-up drama. A hiring, firing, pregnancy, win, loss, or piece of insightful personal information is worth sharing. A chipped nail, missed or lately-responded to text, misplaced ATM card, bicker at work, or jerk that cut you off while driving home isn’t worth the raised-voice, flapping hands spill-fest. Don’t be the “fulla drama mama.” Yes, there are some exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, dudes dig cool chicks, and that goes for laid-back personality. To your friends, roommates, and parents you can be a mess—to the guy you’re seeing, relaxed is a better mood to go for.

If you have any other tried-and-true tips, tricks, or hints, please, write in and leave a comment! I’d love to get a long, interactive, and informative list going that can be referred back to in times of confusion or need. Really, I need your help here, reader. You must have at least one fail-proof trick, you captivating creature. And guys, you’re not exempt. Let us know if something we “swear by” is complete bullshit, or if there’s something that would send you over the moon if your girlfriend or the girl you were dating did for you.

As Magnets Don’t, Opposites Attract Me:

Couples are a touchy subject for me, if you haven’t figured out by now. Just about the only couples I can stand are either ones I know, and not even then in some cases. I try to spend as much time in couple-free zones as possible. (Emily and Travis may be that exception, but they also have figured out the perfect blend of cute couple-dom while still retaining separate and non-overly touchy-feeliness around other people.) However, I can tell you what couples I do like. Couples who are complete opposites, because it always makes me wonder what brought them together. Couples who are mismatched in height. Couples who do decidedly un-coupley things, like skeet shooting or kayaking. Couples who just stay in and don’t feel the need to inflict their couple-ness on other un-coupled people. Couples I am a part of. (Ha. Ha. Of course.)

I’ve learned a few things from the couples I find cute. I’m a notoriously hard-to-peg person when it comes to having a “type” or categorizing what I like in a man—really. Let me take you on a written slide-show. First, there was the Inappropriately Aged Boyfriend—24 (I was 16, hence the moniker), red-headed, beardy, five-eight, with no real defined hobbies or interests other than ultimate frisbee, cooking, and working on expanding his beer-gut and bedding younger women. Then there was Catholic Boy, a grade below me in high school—dark, tan, soccer-boy fit, five-six, ten pounds heavier than I was, and into art, country music, and obeying his Mommy and priest. Then there was the Douche, half a year older—a short, stocky, and swarthy Italian with a Beatles haircut, who played the guitar, loved classic rock and partying, and never followed through with anything he said. The Flaky Artist was tall—six foot and one inch—had just shaved his head and looked like a lanky neo-Nazi and twenty days younger than me. He was into drawing, alternative music, cuddling, and videogames. Then Legs, a graduating senior in college when I was a freshmen—five-ten, 185 pounds of stocky soccer-body and those infamously toned legs, big blue eyes, pouty Cupid lips, receding hairline, baggy-casual clothing, hip-hop music, photography and a snowboarding and World of Warcraft addict. (You wouldn’t have ever known it looking at him.) Jersey Blunt was older than me while a year in college behind due to a probation stint, six-four with black hair and bright blue eyes, thick and expressive eyebrows, a nose with character and a mouth that matched it with what came out of it, and lanky while still managing to be broad in the shoulders and muscular; a button-upped dealer with a gangsta lean. He owned Timberlands, but he also owned a really nice pair of khaki Dockers which he ironed out. He loved his “mugobs” or “gobbies”—what we would call “sunglasses” and owned pairs made by such insignificant people as Dolce and Gabbana, as well as a watch by someone called “Movado”. And then, Mr. Perfect. Six-three, six months younger and two years behind me in the college adventure time-frame, 204 pounds of broad and thick muscle, floppy brown hair, clean-cut Vermont farm-boy attire like the classic broken-in jeans and waffle-thermal longsleeves in colors like muted lake blue, bright hazel eyes that always seemed to laugh, cheekbones that could cut glass, eyelashes a girl would kill for, a strong, straight, “perfect” nose, and a smile that could stop crime. Yeah. Obviously, this guy did, and still does nothing for me. Yeah, right. Hubba hubba.

There are some similarities. I’ve dated more men with brown or hazel eyes than blue, and I don’t really like blonde men—I prefer brunettes, usually with longer-ish hair; you know the cut: it comes down over their ears, the back of their neck, and their forehead resulting in a need for them to flick or toss it out of their eyes when they go too long between cuts, which is often. But I love it. I seem to be partial to Italians or darker-complexioned men, or men who at least tan well in sunlight. I also much prefer tall men, and they have to weigh more than me. I like muscles, quite a bit—after The Inappropriately Aged Boyfriend, I decided that was one thing I could be shallow about. I tend to be attracted to men whose physiques do the classic “V” of broad shoulders and slimmer middles and hips, although Perfect was a “perfect” rectangle, and I loved the sense of broadness and solidness he had. However, I seem to attract blue-eyed men with criminal records of average height and pot-smoking habits. Hmmm. Other than that though, personality seems to be what really draws me in. None of my past relationships really share looks or personality in common, so it seems to be a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about a guy that pulls me in.

So what does this have to do with me and couples? Well, dating all these diverse guys has made me realize the things I find adorable in couples. One—I love height-mismatched couples, especially if the guy is really tall and masculine and broad and the girl is really small and cute. Being with tall guys always made me feel more tiny and feminine than I do normally, and I have a “big personality”, so this is usually hard to accomplish. Most of the time, until I need to reach a shelf, I think I am about five foot and ten inches. When Jersey Blunt could tuck me under his chin up against his chest, or the Flaky Artist would draw me up next to his body and tuck me into him under and arm and rest his head on top of mine where I cuddled in his nook on the couch or Perfect could lift me up and move me around , or carry me piggy-packed for over half-an-hour, I finally got to feel like the petite girl I really am. This directly correlates to my behavior—you can visibly watch me become softer, sweeter, more girlish and less dominant. I bat my eyelashes more. My voice raises an octave, and my mannerisms become more delicate. When I see couples like this—him clearly masculine, her clearly feminine—it reinforces this idea, which I love to see; two people, so comfortable in their roles and with each other that he gets to feel like The Man and she gets to be quiet and lovable and light and airy. Call me traditional, but I can’t help it—when I see these couples on the street, I always think one thing: Love.

I also like couples who are complete physical opposites in their features: he’s dark and she’s light, or vice-versa. If he has really heavy features and black hair and dark eyes, and she’s refined-looking and pale and has wispy and almost silver hair, I think of things like the evil prince and the peasant girl who melts his heart from my childhood story books. (I’m a sucker for storylines, especially in couples.) Or if she’s all sultry and mocha, and he’s icy and cold, it makes me wonder how their opposites attracted. (Again, with the storylines.) The couples that look alike, like they’ve been together so long they’ve started to become one another; they don’t interest me so much. It’s the ones that look so striking together that get me thinking, wondering, and liking.

Where The Wild Things Are:

Every week, an alternative newspaper called “Seven Days” hosts an iSpy section along with the personals. Like a little kid with Christmas presents, I know which one I want to open up to first, but I do love the delicious sense of putting off desire, so instead, I pretend-casually flip through the first section, read all the pertinent area news, open up the second section (getting warmer now,) and read through all the club listing, checking out who’s coming into town. I then read the personals, just for fun, and to play “Guess That Person” because it is, after all, a small town, and finally! On the next fold, the iSpys.

An “iSpy” is basically an ad someone takes out with a description, time, and place that they met someone they want to reconnect with or meet. Or, it can be a shout-out to a friend, a thank-you to a dear lover, or a general note to a group of people or establishment. To me, the iSpys are the ultimate Valentine. Though not especially a fan of Valentine’s Day myself, as I have always, always, always been single and generally tried to avoid the masses of happy and money-spending couples, there is something so fantastic, so novel about a witty and clever blurb in an old-fashioned, black-and-white newspaper whose ink rubs off onto your hands as you turn the wide pages.

I desperately want to be Spied. Every time I go about town, I dress in something distinctive to mark me out from all the other short, small blondes across Burlington with blue eyes. Every week is like a new birthday or Christmas—my heart speeds up and as I get closer to that page, I always think, “Maybe this will be it.” Who would Spy me? That’s half the fun. What would it say? Would it be smart, or would it be totally corny? (I guess this boils down to “what sort of total stranger would I attract?”) How would I respond? Would I respond, or would I take it as the most flattering thing of my life, move on, and never read the iSpys again, mission complete?

I don’t think so. As this hasn’t happened yet, I instead read the iSpys to see what sort of people DO get Spied in my place, or what particular towns are particularly Spy-heavy. Montpelier, actually, attracts a lot of Spying. There’s one blonde, 30-something worker at the Meadow Mart with a great smile who was getting consistently Spied in a bunch of consecutive issues this past Spring. Sometime when I’m in town next, I’m going to stop by and try to find her and see what all the fuss was about.

And an Honorable Men-tion:

A special thank-you tonight to Will, who still gives me the best relationship advice a straight guy can give his female friend, not sparing the gory details of the inner-workings of the young male mind, always sticking up for the manliness and spirit of the guy I’m trying to force into submission to make me see it from his point of view, and for saying the hard things even when he knows I may not want to hear it though it’s the truth—all of this even after the completely unfounded rumors going around campus that we were hooking up. Now that’s friendship. (Also, if anyone knows where/how those rumors started, feel free to fill us in, because we’re clueless. Though I’m sure anyone overhearing us in the cafeteria as I ask him something like, “Hey, what do guys think about when they’re watching porn?” or say something like “I had the most amazing orgasm last night,” would think they knew what’s going on. But honestly—that’s how I talk to all my friends. Aren’t they the lucky bunch?)



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