Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Whole Generation of Guys

I had two really interesting conversations with two very different friends about relationships this past week.

It started on my way home from dinner with some friends. I was planning on walking home, but it was getting late and I really have to stop pretending I live in a super-safe neighborhood. So when my friend, Kelly, offered me a ride, I accepted.

Because we were out with a group, I hadn’t really had the opportunity to catch up with Kelly. So, as soon as we were in the car, I asked her about work, her home, her running, and then her boyfriend.

“Oh, we’re not together any more.”

You know how there are friend’s relationships that when you hear they have ended you aren’t surprised, but you sort of have to act surprise – at least at first? Well, this wasn’t one of them. I was genuinely shocked they weren’t together anymore and so I had to follow up.

“What happened?”

“He disappeared.”

She said it so matter-of-factly, I considered for a minute that he actually disappeared. Like in some freak Manhattan Experiment or alien abduction. And because I was intrigued by the chance that these things actually could happen, I asked, “What do you mean he disappeared?”

“He disappeared. One day he just stopped calling. Stopped texting. Stopped e-mailing. And he wasn’t returning my phone calls or text messages or e-mails. He just disappeared.”

I was speechless.

“Then, one day, he did pick up the phone when I called and said that he has just been really busy and trying to focus his life and he just doesn’t think he has time for me in it.”

I have to admit I was disappointed to learn he didn’t actually disappear. For a moment I dared to hope that boy disease wasn’t the epidemic I feared. That maybe, just maybe, men really are disappearing.

“And what? He didn’t think you earned the right to know about this decision?”

Kelly sighed. “The problem is we are surrounded by an entire generation of guys. Not men. But too old to be boys. Just guys.”

An entire generation of guys. I felt as if I had stumbled upon a small truth. Like my life would never be the same now that I knew this.

She continued, “They refuse to be grown-ups. They don’t want to settle down, buy a house, be responsible. They want to play and not make decisions and just not care about the consequences.”

Kelly pulled her car to the curb and I realized I was home. I wanted to sit in her car and continue to discuss what more she knew about this generation of guys. But I knew we both had to get up early the next day and so I promised myself to bring it up the next time I had her alone.

Then, a couple of days later, e-mailing with one of my close male friends, Bob, the conversation turned to our respective love lives. Bob asked me about mine and, remembering my conversation with Kelly I said, “I think the problem is I’m surrounded by a generation of guys.” (Of course I gave Kelly credit for naming my plight).

Bob responded back that women were partly to blame. That the movie Say Anything ruined a whole generation of men because women wanted that. They wanted drama. And love shouldn’t be about drama. He then went on to say that women can be selfish (something I don’t disagree with, but I also think selfishness has a certain virtue to it) and that women in their 30s are acting like they are in their 20s.

I didn’t disagree with anything Bob said, though I did wonder if I shouldn’t point out that men started it when they decided that they were better off as bachelors and started spending all their money on hair products and baseball games and going to clubs and not settling down with the woman that loved them, instead holding out for that something better that was sure to come along.

However, I refrained. Because I knew he could come right back at me that women started it when we started taking on traditional male roles in the relationship (e.g., the breadwinner) leaving men confused and insecure. And on and on we would go and really nothing would get solved.

He also added, toward the end of e-mail, that he believes relationships come down to two things – chemistry and timing.

For the second time in a week I felt like my life would never be the same.

If you are anything like me, you sometimes sit around, maybe with a bottle of wine, wondering why all your past relationships have failed? What if it is all just a matter of timing and chemistry? What if right now (or back then as the case may be) you had great chemistry with someone but it just couldn’t work because the timing wasn’t right. Or maybe the timing was perfect, but without chemistry why bother?

Sadly, I fear, for most of us (and by us, I mean single women who have their lives pretty much together and are now looking for someone to share the life with) we are surrounded by a generation of guys. So the timing could be off for quite some time.

Oh and before you ask, yes, you can expect a couple more blogs about this idea of a generation of guys. And probably a couple on timing and chemistry. So if you disagree or are already bored of these topics (this was a long post after all), I suggest you not check back for awhile.

I’ll even do you the favor of announcing on Twitter when I have tired of the subject. Promise.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Drinking with The Enemy

Ladies (and gentlemen), I have met the enemy and she is a tiny little myopic thing that works in accounting.

I was out with old co-workers drinking at the Spank Bank – I know, I know, I hate this place, but they keep giving away free happy hours to my friends – what’s a girl to do? So, I’m standing there, catching up with a woman I used to work with, asking her how things were going at my old place of employment, when she started talking about Senior (her boss) and the Enemy rolled her eyes.

Okay, I didn’t actually catch the eye-roll, I only assumed it happened because my former co-worker, whom we should call Polly because she sort of looks like a Polly, commented to her, “I know you don’t like her, but she really is a great person.”

I looked down at the Enemy (and I was wearing flats so imagine how tiny she must be) and her face was still contorted in disgust. So I asked, “Oh, you don’t like Senior?”

She twisted her face up even more and shook her head.


She continued to shake her head as Polly protested, “She’s really an amazing woman, you just don’t know her.”

Which is when the enemy finally piped up, “If she’s such an amazing woman, why isn’t she married?”

Readers, I almost hit her. Thank god I had only had one glass of wine at the time or I may have. Instead, I asked, “Your definition of an amazing woman is that she’s married?” with all the attitude mixed with horror that you can imagine.

“Well, no, but I mean, if she is really so remarkable, why isn’t she married?”

Polly jumped in and started singing Senior's praises as I staggered back, shocked at this little girl’s ignorance. As Polly explained to this little insect that Senior could have been married, had she wanted to settle, but instead worked on herself and her career and her spirituality and is now really happy with her life.; a life so full it leaves little time to find a man – a life so full it begs the question whether one really needs a man.

Still struck dumb, I nodded and looked into the face of the enemy. All I saw was smugness. Her face clearly said, “Sure, whatever Senior needs to tell herself to get to sleep at night. But at the end of the day, we all know she can’t possibly be happy without a man in her life.”

At this moment I found my voice. I turned to Polly and said, “I have to go before I hit someone.” I then glared down at the enemy, who no longer looked smug, but frightened. I started to walk away, but doubled back. Now that I had my voice, I realized I had more to say.

“Can I ask how old you are?” I was still glaring and the Enemy who was still clearly scared I might hit her.

“Umm, 22.” She squeaked out.

I smiled. “That explains a lot.”

Here’s the thing. At 22-years-old, you don’t know anything, but you think you know everything. How can I know this? Because I was once 22 and I remember thinking I knew everything. I remember thinking it was all so easy. That you can have your cake and eat it too and still fit into your size two jeans. And yes, you can have it all – but it isn’t easy. It’s a full-time job on top of your real full-time job.

And because it is so hard you learn to value what is really important to you. Some people call these compromises, but I don’t think that is the right word for what you are doing. I think prioritizing is a better word for it. Yes, you would like a boyfriend, but you want a promotion more. So you work harder, longer hours, maybe go to school, and this leaves less time in your social calendar. So you have to decide how you would rather spend your few free hours, on an awkward first date or out with your girlfriends, laughing your face off.

Then when your schedule does free up some time to meet a special someone you find even there priorities have changed. Yes, it would be nice to meet someone with a full head of hair, washboard stomach and Popeye forearms, but what would be even better is to find someone that supports your goals and likes your friends. And, as you look around at your life and realize things aren’t so terrible and actually are pretty awesome, you realize that there are things won’t compromise on. That whomever you decide to share your little perfect world with will have to be pretty exceptional.

And inevitably your mother will call you too picky and, apparently, 22-year-olds will question your awesomeness.

Well, 22-year-olds, now you know the truth. Your ignorance on this matter will no longer be tolerated. If I ever hear you say anything like, “Well if she is so great, why isn’t she married?” you will be punched.

In the throat.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Tale of Two Pimps

Growing up in Allentown there were two dance schools (well, maybe there were more, but only two that I knew of): Dolly Dance (I am keeping the actual name here because it is just too good) and The Other School (not actually the school’s name, but since I will be speaking disparagingly about the place, I figured I should mask its identity).

Dolly Dance was run by Miss Dolly, an older woman that labored under the misguided belief that all her students dreamed of one day performing for the National Ballet and it was her job to prepare us for this future. Her classes were not fun – they were hard. We weren’t allowed to wear cute leotards – black leotards and pink tights were the required uniform. Our hair was to be pulled back in a bun; if your hair wasn't long enough to pull back into a bun you employed bobby pins to create a reasonable facsimile. Our shoes were proper, leather ballet shoes, not glittery, pink slippers. If you wore pink slippers, your mother would get a lecture from Miss Dolly. During recitals, Dolly frantically ran around back stage, making sure everyone’s hair and shoes and make-up were perfect and yes, that none of us were wearing underwear. I imagine Miss Dolly’s nightmares included five-year-olds perfectly executing her choreographed dances with unsightly panty-lines.

The Other School was run by a younger woman, we’ll call her Miss Holly. At Holly’s school (because you didn't have to call Holly Miss Holly), you could wear whatever fun leotard and coordinating tights you could find. At Holly’s school you could take Jazz and Modern Dance after only one year of instruction (at Miss Dolly’s school you were required to be more than 13 years-old and have at least five years of basic ballet and tap lessons). At Holly’s school, her dances, even her tap and ballet dances, were set to new, hip music – stuff you could hear on the radio and not just in elevators. But the main difference between the two schools were the recitals. At Holly’s recitals, whole classes of girls would stand in the middle of the stage, looking left, watching Holly (standing just off stage) for what step to do next.

My parent’s sent Lana to The Other School but learned from that mistake and sent me to Dolly Dance. The result – I am an excellent dancer, while Lana, not so much. Though she has finally broken the habit of staring over her left shoulder.

My point? Friday night I had two pimps out with me, Salty and Pepper, and the two styles of pimping reminding me a lot of Miss Dolly and Holly.

Now, Salty has been my pimp for a very long time. And while occasionally, she does get hand’s on (the time she actually lined guys up to talk to me for five minutes a piece before literally pulling them away if I wasn’t interested springs to mind). So, Friday night, when a group of guys walked in, two of whom were both over six feet tall and one of whom was exactly my type, I knew Salty would have something to say.

At first, her something to say was that I should make out with the funny (though short) friend of the two tall drinks of water that was talking to us. Salty sometimes does this. She finds a guy that she would like to make out with, but because she is married, she tries to force him on me. After I convinced her that I just couldn’t do it – she turned her focus to the second tall drink, we’ll call him Bobby.

“You know what? It is late. We’ve all been drinking, he seems just as shy as you are so I say, just walk up to him and ask, ‘do you want to go outside?’ and then start making out with him.”

I shook my head. I had heard this advice before and I was pretty sure it wouldn't work. “How about if I go over there and make myself available to him to talk to me.”

Salty rolled her eyes but knew this was still a pretty big step for me.

What I didn’t realize was that in moving across the bar, I was stepping into Pepper’s territory.

Pepper’s style is definitely more stage mom than Salty’s. For instance, I was only standing there a moment when Pepper stage whispered to me, “Tati, he’s six-four” and pointed at Bobby. I smiled. He smiled. Pepper commented on his smile and asked me, “Doesn’t he have a great smile?” All his friends smiled. And the next thing I knew Bobby was asking me if I wanted to go outside.

Thank god, Salty had explained to me that "do you want to go outside" was code for "do you want to make out?" or else I might have said no. It was kind of cold outside and I had on a sleeveless top.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Grandfather Clause

As anyone who also follows my adventures on Facebook is aware, I was at the shore last week. See, Marie and I both decided that since neither of us had a real vacation this summer, we would borrow our friend Salty’s condo in North Wildwood and spend the days in the sun, baking ourselves until we were golden bubbly (and spend our nights drinking and laughing and eating crackers and hummus).

For those of you who have never been, the nightlight in North Wildwood leaves a lot to be desired (unless you are under the age of 25 or over the age of 65). Still my friends and I could have fun with a paper bag so I wasn’t really too worried about it. We had wine. We had beer. Oh and look, both came in paper bags. Marie did want to go out one night – Monday night to be exact. She had heard the Soul Cruisers were playing at a bar only a couple of blocks away and Marie loves Soul music. So after a long day doing nothing by the pool, Marie and I got gussied up and headed to the monstrosity that is Keenan’s Irish Pub (a monstrosity because this “pub” pretty much takes up an entire city block).

Now, before I go any further, I should explain that when visiting any beach town, my 20lbs of hair expands to at least 45lbs of hair. The Wildwoods are no exception. And since I was tan (from the day sitting by the pool wearing only SPF 4) and already had huge hair, I decided it was the perfect occasion for my bright red lipstick. Marie would later hypothesize that no man can resist my big blonde hair and bright red lips. I am thinking about testing this theory out in Philadelphia tomorrow night.

I won’t bore you with all the details of the night. Instead, I will fast forward to the close of the evening. The Soul Cruisers were rocking and Marie and I were chair dancing in our bar stools. A very old man was standing not too far from us and asked me why I wasn’t up there dancing. This was approximately the 18th old man that had stopped to talk to me and Marie in the two hours we were sitting there. I smiled and said I wasn’t much of a dancer. Marie stepped in and announced, “She’s just shy” (I swear she also gave me a little pushed towards him but she denies this of course). And with that, Pop-pop, took my hand and led me out to the dance floor.

My first thought was how the heck am I suppose to hold on to my cookies while grinding with Pop-pop to “Give Me Just A Little More Time”? Then Pop-pop grabbed my hand, put his other hand on my waist and I thanked the heavens above that Pop-pop was too old to even know what grinding was – that or his fake hip wouldn’t allow it.

Once I was able to relax, I have to admit, it wasn’t the worst three minutes of my life. It wasn’t even the most awkward. We danced and he twirled me and thank goodness he didn’t try to dip me (between his back and my strapless dress it could have been a disaster) and when the song was over so was the Soul Cruisers’ set and so Pop-pop and I walked back to our bar stools. He thanked me for the dance and kissed me on the forehead. The closest I came to upchucking was when Marie leaned over and whispered, “You totally gave him a boner.”

So a couple days later, we are reliving the week for Salty. We get to this point and Salty asks, “Wait, how tall was Pop-pop?” (My height requirement has become a bit of a thorn in everyone’s side as they are all looking for someone for me to date).

I shrugged my shoulder, “I don’t know, I guess he was a little taller than me in flip-flops.”

“And you danced with him?” (The basis of my height requirement really boils down to not wanting to look ridiculous when I am dancing with my boyfriend).

“Yeah, but he was old and has probably shrunk. My guess is that he was once six feet tall, so I grandfathered him in.”

I understand this opens up a loophole for 5’10” 80-year-olds, but it is quickly closed by my father’s rule forbidding me to date anyone twice my age or older.