Tag Archives: “rules”

When, And If, The “Game” Ever Ends

Last weekend, when I was catching up with E, I told her about the guy I’ve been seeing. (You remember, the one I’m not blogging about.)

I mentioned something, it must have been a little hesitant, about the pattern of our correspondence.

“Huh,” she responded. “How long do you think that’s gonna last?”


“You know, the whole game-playing thing.”

Now might be a good time to note that in a few weeks E and her boyfriend will celebrate four years of being together.

I wasn’t sure how to respond to this for two reasons:

1) I hadn’t really considered whatever anxiety I expressed to be part of any sort of “game.” To me it just felt a natural aspect of the regular early courtship routine. You know, my life.

2) Assuming that it could be construed as “game-playing”–whatever that means–I have no idea when, or even whether, it does end.

The feeling that it might not probably comes from something I recently read: specifically, a nonfiction essay by Brian Doyle that is one of the best pieces I’ve come across in a while. (Not surprisingly, I read it in this year’s Best American Essays.) It’s called, “Irreconcilable Dissonance,” it’s about divorce, it’s about 1000 words, and each sentence is around 100.

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On Casual Sex, “Mad Men” and Expectations

I haven’t written much about casual sex.

There are a few reasons for this. For one, I don’t have it very often. For another, I have parents.

But my feeling is that many of you who read this blog do so because, most times, I try my best to be honest. And if we’re going to be honest about the life of a single twenty-something woman, sooner or later we’ve got to talk about sleeping with someone who is not your boyfriend. Because, when you don’t have a boyfriend–let’s be honest–that is who you sleep with.

Also, lately I’ve been watching “Mad Men.” (I have a habit of coming to cultural trends–TV shows, Gladiator sandals, quinoa–enthusiastically but several years late.)

I can see a number of reasons why the show has grown so popular: the clothes, the writing, Jon Hamm’s bone structure, Christina Hendricks’ physique.

But the thing that keeps coming into my mind is that there is a sort of illicit pleasure we may take in entering a world before we knew any better: before the phrase “politically correct” entered the lexicon, before we knew it was unhealthy to smoke and bad to litter and inappropriate to pinch your secretary’s waist.

Obviously most of us are extremely glad these things have changed. But I do think there’s a kind of perverse nostalgia for a time before we knew to be conscientious about, well, everything.

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On Haircuts, Confidence and Compliments

Among the numerous readers of my blog to whom I am related by blood or marriage, my sister-in-law, F, is not one.

So when we spoke on the phone earlier this week for the first time in about a month, she asked how my love life was going.

“Not great,” I sighed–informing her about my recent spate of rejection.

“Huh,” she responded, contemplative. “How’s your hair?”

“Kinda bad,” I told her. “It needs a cut.” I was tired, and possibly distracted by some blanket-laden homeless person on Central Avenue; I at first did not absorb her question’s implication. But then I did.

“Are you suggesting that men are rejecting me because of my hair?”

“I’m just asking,” she said. “I mean, I saw you recently so I know you’re not fat. Maybe you’re having a bad hair year.”

Let’s put aside for a moment any questions about the likelihood of bad hair lasting for an entire year, and allow me to provide some context. First of all, F and I have similar hair: she’s Italian and I’m Jewish and both of us have seriously thick, coarse and texturally schizophrenic manes to show for our respective ethnicities. Second of all, having dated my brother since I was five years old, F is the closest thing I’ve got to a sister and has therefore earned permission to tell me things no one else can.

But back to completely inane perceptions of what makes us more or less attractive.

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Storytime: Greetings from Taos/Speak Up, Please

So I’m at a writers conference for the weekend, aka a place where the male-to-female ratio is approximately 1.2 to 300.

Let’s not even get into who’s actually single. But the whole scene has gotten me thinking that, as much as I deserve blame/intensive psychotheraphy for being compulsively drawn to men who are emotionally unavailable–the feeling is often mutual.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a human hologram: attractive only to people who are prohibitively involved with other women or unhealthy substances.

Which brings me to a public service announcement of sorts: I understand it’s a delicate question, when two people come together in a potentially flirtatious context, at what point someone who is otherwise attached ought to say so. Too soon and you seem presumptious, too late and you seem like a jerk.

But I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend that all of us abandon our collective pride and for the sake of hopeful single people everywhere, tend toward the former. If after thirty minutes of talking and trading book recommendations I still don’t know you’ve got a girlfriend, that’s about twenty-five minutes too many. Because honestly, you’re not that smart or interesting and your writing isn’t that great and I really like to get eight hours of sleep if possible. I’ve got enough friends. We both understand hormones. Out with it.

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Boys and Bands and Airplanes

I would like to tell you–because I can–that as I write this I am sitting at the cafe on the top floor of the Tate Modern in London: overlooking the Thames river, a decaf espresso and three quarters of an apricot danish. For all of my frustrations with life these days, there are occasional moments that remind me how much I am extraordinarily blessed. This is one of them. I hope you have one like it soon.

Anyhow. So I will get off of the whole “rule” preoccupation soon, I promise. But first, allow me to report one aberration. It took place on the flight here from New York, and frankly was the one good thing American Airlines managed to do for me in the whole ordeal. (Actually the trip was totally painless, but good grief is their service unpleasant! If I could afford to boycott them I would.)

We all know the rule that whoever it is you spot while boarding a plane that looks somewhat interesting or attractive, you will not be sitting next to them. You will be sitting next to a young Orthodox mother or a priest. It is a law of life.

Of course, I’m here to tell you that such laws do get broken, and that by some miracle S and I were in fact seated next to not one but two interesting and somewhat attractive guys our age on the flight. They were together as well, and turned out to be members of a band about to begin a European tour. (For some reason they immediately reminded me of the guys from MGMT; they weren’t, but ended up not being all that different–physically or musically.)

This is all to explain how it is that, the other night, S and I wound up schlepping via commuter train to some remote corner of up-and-coming (emphasis on coming) hipster London to see a rock show featuring three Brooklyn bands. We may as well have been vacationing in Bushwick.

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The Question of Opposites

I just finished reading an incredible book called “Truth and Beauty”:  a memoir by the novelist Ann Patchett about her friendship with the late poet Lucy Grealy. Lucy, who had cancer in her jaw since childhood and was perpetually undergoing reconstructive surgeries, was probably best known for her own memoir called “Autobiography of a Face.”

Lucy also had an extremely extroverted, gregarious and difficult personality–unlike Patchett, who represents herself as being quiet, shy and conventional by contrast.

As the woman who recommended the book to me observed, it is basically a love story: theirs was not a sexual relationship, but it was every bit as intimate. She also remarked, rather insightfully, that Ann and Lucy’s friendship worked because they were such opposites: someone with more personality than Ann, she said, probably couldn’t tolerate–much less embrace–someone with quite so much personality as Lucy.

I thought of this today as I talked with my NY best friend S–who is, in many ways, my opposite. (Also, with whom I am now quite fortunate to be on vacation with in London for a week.) We have endless things to talk about–literally, she is probably the person in the world to whom I can, and do, talk on the phone most endlessly–but we have contrasting personalities. Namely, I am more of an extrovert and she is more introverted.

This came up during a conversation about the fact that every single man she has dated has been an extrovert, and almost every guy in my history is an introverted type.

“Maybe that’s why we get along,” she remarked.

We laughed. But it’s made me wonder: is it? Why is it that outgoing people do so often pair off with those who are more outgoing, both in friendship and romance?

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Breaking the Rules

I have a confession. For the record, it’s one that I may or may not have already made. I’m on vacation now (three weeks until summer session!)– relishing the comforts, cable and pantry of my parents home–and can’t be bothered to check.

Anyhow, it’s this: I started this blog impulsively. Spontaneously. I didn’t think through what I was doing, what I wanted it to be or not be. Basically I’ve been figuring it out as I go along.

One thing I’ve more or less decided that I don’t want it to be is a vengeful soapbox for calling out men who I date.

Well, on most days I don’t want it to be that.

Today, however, I am not feeling so generous.

The irony is that I’ve actually been feeling really good lately. Like, totally happy and content being single and appreciative of the many wonderful people I have in my life.

At least, that is what I wrote in an email to S and R, my two best NY girls–before pounding out several hundred words in which I vented about the guy who I would now like to vent about to you.

So here’s the thing: I know that technology has complicated traditional notions of dating etiquette–or whatever traditional notions of dating etiquette still existed by the time we all started texting.

And yet, I think there are certain basic courtesies that transcend modern developments in mobile devices and romantic courtship.

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