The Rules of Cyber Dating
My first outing in dating cyber space was actually four years ago in Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to any of my friends until now, I surfed Match.com and found what appeared to be a pretty decent man. When he finally grew tired of my email novellas about how sick and ridiculous online dating was, he said, “Look, I’m not trying to be rude, but relationships are not about email. They’re about chemistry. I’m not going to email you again until you agree to meet with me.” Rule #1 about cyber dating – these people actually want to meet you. They are not looking for pen pals. Whereas I was perfectly content to swap lame jokes and use emoticons, Dominic was serious. I agreed to meet him in a VERY public place and quickly learned Rule #2 – when adding your photo to a dating site, do not upload the best picture you’ve ever taken in your whole entire life. It’s a good idea to upload an average picture. Let the person be pleasantly surprised when you finally meet in person. Dominic was cross-eyed. I was not (and frankly, am not) nearly mature enough to get past crossed-eyes. I decided my prime-ass real estate was far superior to anything in www-ville, and went back to crawling the bars at 2 a.m. looking for Mr. Right.
Upon moving to San Francisco, I learned about the online community, CraigsList.com. This website is an essential part of Bay Area culture. You can get a job, a roommate, a computer, a blowjob, …anything your heart desires on CraigsList. EVERYONE (literally) uses this site. CraigsList has a “Missed Connections” page, where you can post love notes to the strangers from all those random encounters that could have lead somewhere if only you’d had the nerve to say ‘hello.’ This page was a bit of a danger zone for me. Not because I posted a note to every bartender/bag boy/guy in a Benz I saw, but rather because I invented a very elaborate love life for myself in my head. I envisioned every bartender/bag boy/guy in a Benz posting longing messages for me. “Oh, hot girl that gets stuck in the I-280 commute everyday, please please please send me your email – I’m the Adonis in the Porsche who cuts you off everyday because I long for your touch, not because I’m an asshole driver.” After about six months of fantasizing I found myself exhausted. It’s difficult to be an imaginary cyber vixen – there were at least a few hundred imaginary men out there chasing me down, flooding the World Wide Web with messages for my whereabouts. I needed some time off from all the heart breaking. Rule #3 – You never get laid if you are merely a figment of your own imagination.
Then, the big dogs came to play. Every fellow Jew I knew was talking about JDate.com. That’s right, online Jewish dating. God Bless my Jews. Some schmuck out there is making $30 a month off of every Jew who’s single and tired of hearing Mom say “When are you going to find yourself a niiiiice JEWish boy/girl?” As if this topic of conversation wasn’t bad enough at the occasional Jewish holiday, like a horrible infection word hit the Jewish circuit and suddenly Moms and Bubbies across the country had fodder for their own active imaginations….“You know, Ira Weinstein’s daughter met a nice JEWish fella on JDate and they got MARried. Why don’t you give it a try?” There’s only so much a girl can take. When the grandp’s in Boca are pushing for a JDate membership it’s easier to just conform. Besides, the very thought of this cyber Jew world awakened the cyber vixen in me…she was itching to get out and play.
First, there was Matt.
Funny guy. Kinda cute. Things progressed nicely online so we swapped digits and I called him. Imagine the most Jewish sounding voice you’ve ever heard in your entire life….multiply it by a thousand. Rule #4 – You may not have luck with online dating if you are as immature as I am. Matt never even made it to a second call.
Next came Winner.
I was curious. What kind of guy actually has Winner as a screen name? Is he arrogant? Confident? Is he, in fact, a winner? His picture was cute, his writing was witty and he didn’t sound too Jewish, so we met. Rule #5 – Screen names are not remotely indicative of anything. Do not waste anytime using your secret decoder ring to figure them out. They do not reflect who the person is, nor who the person perceives himself to be. (Think about it – what would your name be? Whatever you choose, it’s going to sound dorky. You could just as easily name yourself rutabaga.) Winner was far and away the most timid individual I have ever met. I honestly felt like someone should have walked this poor kid home after our date. What if he got lost? Would he be able to ask for directions? Tell the cops what his address was?
Third up to bat, Not2Jew
We looove Not2Jew. For starters, he’s not too Jewish. Funny, witty and down right adorable. We’ve been emailing for about two months. We’ve spoken on the phone several times, but only actually met once. We’ve become pretty good friends, but we never hang out. I know there’s a Rule #6 in here somewhere, but I’m not sure what it is yet…. I’m going to need to consult the JDate manual to manage my expectations with this one. Lucky for me, JDate has a customer care staff that “is here round the clock to help you find that special someone.” Perhaps Rule #6 is – if you are such a social moron that you have to not only use online dating, but also the customer service center to figure out how to actually date, you should go ahead and shoot yourself.
While I’m trying to understand Not2Jew’s strategy, in comes Mr. Soprano
Mr. Soprano is a verrry, verrrry important Rule #7 - there are professional cyber daters. My, oh my is Mr. Soprano polished. This smooth operator knows his way around the cyber ladies. I honestly thought I hit the Jewish mother load. Imagine my shock when grown up Greg Brady stepped out of the brand new Jaguar to pick me up. Tony Soprano this kid is NOT! It was suddenly A Very Brady Christmas. As if my acting talents were not stretched to their utmost limit to be polite to my date (that’s Greg Brady – NOT Tony Soprano), he has an answer for absolutely everything. My personal favorite was when he informed me, “All creative people of any worth are emotionally underdeveloped.” I was angry for an entire week after this encounter. Greg Brady offended every last nerve in my body. Rule #8 – there aren’t just misfits and Curious Georges dating online, there are also bona fide pricks.
Greg Brady offended me so much, that I decided to cancel my subscription. I’d ride out the NottooJew experience and put the cyber vixen to rest for a while...
Except now I’m out there, and XfactorF83D came a knockin’.
(See what I mean – waste no time with the secret decoder ring. Who the hell knows?) What a cutie this one is. Very charming, interesting guy – has a PhD in law, is 26 and has decided to give it all up to start a BBQ sauce distribution company. Here’s what he knows about product supply management and food production: “Yo, like I spent four months in an RV touring BBQ country and I just really dig good Q.” Uh huh. Rule #9 – online dating is a great place to find that “type” you have never dated before, but have always been interested in. It is also good to help identify what kind of guy you have officially outgrown.
I’ve promised myself that this week is it. This cyber vixen is once again exhausted from her demanding public. More importantly, I have suddenly had a revelation: I’ve never really enjoyed dating Jewish men – WHAT IN THE HELL AM I DOING ON THIS SITE?????
Knock Knock – Hottie Here. Meet Slaid
What can I say besides Hubba Hubba. According to his profile, Slaid’s ideal first date “Probably ends with a couple ‘I Dos’ in Vegas with a troupe of Elvises in attendance.” Hee Hee. Blush Blush. Giggle Giggle. May as well stick it out and create a list of 10 rules, donchathink?
Posted by Yoda at 02:38 PM
The No-Talent Show - Surreal Life / Episode 4
Many apologies for not summarizing last week's episode of The Surreal Life. Surprisingly, it turns out that I actually do have a social life, and I was at a friend's birthday party during the majority of the show. I did however manage to catch a short glimpse while I was getting ready to go out. This unfortunately happened over a week ago, and the only thing I seem to remember was the baffling visual of Hammer and Webster sitting chummily on a rock together, surrounded by what appeared to be tents.
From this I deduced that:
A: They roomies were on a camping trip.
B: I didn’t miss much.
I did however have the misfortune of catching this week’s episode. For your reading displeasure…a short summary:
Their day began much like any day you or I might have. The roomies shared a cup of joe, and opened up their tailor-made tabloid newsletter to find out how they were to spend their day. “The Surreal Life Gazette” (or whatever it is called) told them that they were to organize, sell tickets to, and perform in, a wacky talent show that was going to be held at the mansion…all proceeds of course going to charity. (The charity likely being “Washed-Up stars in need of cash.”) Apparently, the “winner” of the talent show would win a secret prize!! Shortly after they received this news, a van pulled up to take them all to Hollywood so that they could push their tickets on unsuspecting passers-by. Six out of the seven roomies hopped out of the van, and shamelessly and enthusiastically hocked their wares. Vince Neil appeared to be the sole member of the group to realize that selling $10 tickets to a talent show is slightly demeaning. Instead of selling his tickets like the rest of his idiotic roommates, he simply went to a nearby ATM, took enough money out of his account to cover his required contribution, and gave his stack of tickets to a bunch of kids who seemed super-stoked to be given tickets from Vince Neil of Motley Crue.
After completing their sales, the roomies returned home to rehearse, and came to the startling realization that, with the exception of Vince and possibly Hammer, none of them actually had any talent. Webster at least had the intelligence to realize this, and when told by Andrea Zuckerman to just have “fun with it,” responded with:
"It's supposed to be for fun and humor. I don't find it fun, and I don't find it humorous."
That pretty much sums things up.
The rehearsal went on. Brande asked Webster for advice on how to breakdance, Andrea practiced her kazoo, Jerry wrote a poem, Hammer made dinner, and Corey got totally dissed by Vince Neil.
Corey, we found out, is in a band…a band that apparently had just released a record…and Corey was hell-bent on using both the show AND Vince Neil to shamelessly promote his new album. While Corey was rehearsing his song, he asked Vince to sing BACK-UP for him. Not only did he ask Vince Neil, lead singer of Motley Crue, to sing BACK-UP, he also had the nerve give him advice on HOW to sing back-up for his pitiful little song. Vince declined. Vince also declined Corey’s offer to play harmonica while Vince performed the song that he wrote for the talent show. This made Corey sad, and he stomped off in a huff saying: “Forget about this stupid talent show. I’m planning a wedding…that’s what’s real.”
God he’s an idiot. I hate him so much.
The audience, largely consisting of young street kids and disoriented tourists (who probably thought they had purchased tickets to Universal Studios or something), arrived and took their seats.
Brande opened the Talent Show with gusto, displaying the always popular talent of “Wearing a Cheerleader’s Uniform while Breakdancing.” It was difficult to watch. She should have just stood on stage in a bikini. It would have been far less embarrassing for everyone.
Next, Andrea Zuckerman played “While the Saints go Marching In” on the Kazoo. She was backed up by Jerry and Brande, who marched in place in the background while wearing short skirts and feather boas. It was horrific. I was too mortified to sit through the entire thing, so I went out on my balcony and plugged my ears.
Corey Feldman’s band,”The Corey Feldman Band,” performed next. Corey sang a god-awful song entitled “I Believe Again," a song whose lyrics seemingly were written by a three year old. Vince Neil DID end up singing back-up to Corey, but he looked rather reluctant about the whole thing. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he was somehow blackmailed or physically threatened into performing. He looked scared.
Next, we were introduced to “Clive Rufus Brown” (aka MC Hammer). Apparently Hammer didn’t want his reputation tarnished by the talentless buffoons he was performing with, and decided to create an alternate identity for himself. Clad in a white terry cloth robe, a black wig, and a purple pimp suit, he gyrated around the stage, yelping and shouting unintelligible syllables. So far, it was the best performance of the evening. Webster joined him on stage and danced about while Hammer repeated over and over again: “Manny Mo is in the house, Manny Mo is in the House.” This was a big hit with the audience.
Jerri read her poem. It was not good.
Vince Neil performed the finale; a song entitled “The Surreal Life Blues.” Compared to the other performances of the evening, his was a masterpiece. Best of all, the lyrics made fun of all his roommates:
Jerri's making a cocktail. In Australia there's nothing to drink.
Brande is a lifeguard. With that rack she'll never sink.
Gabby's in the kitchen, and how she likes to rock!
Hammer he's a preacher. He likes to hear himself talk.
We got the blues - The Surreal Life blues.
Manny says he's a fisherman, but he shouldn't use it for his life.
Corey's getting married, but he hasn't told his wife.
Well I'm in Mötley. There's nothing left to lose.
Sitting in a jail I call The Surreal Life blues.
Does anyone else smell a Grammy???
Naturally, the audience voted Vince Neil the winner of the contest, and he was awarded a huge bedroom in the house, all to himself. You could see the sweet look of relief on his face. I can’t even imagine how horrible it would be to share sleeping quarters with Corey Feldman.
The kids go carousing in Las Vegas, and Vince tells someone to f*&K off!! I for one hope it's Corey.
Posted by Jen at 03:42 PM
“Jen, do you smell gasoline? It’s really strong…Yuck.”
This is not a question you wanted asked of you while sitting at a fancy client dinner at The Ivy at the Shore in Los Angeles. This is especially not a question you want asked of you when you are the individual who had been doused in gasoline in an unfortunate incident earlier in the day, and therefore are a cause of the offensive odor.
Yesterday I had yet another of the infamous clumsy days that Gina has documented so well in “Jen’s Clumsy-time Journal.” I would usually just add to the journal, but I believe the extreme nature of the events that happened yesterday deserve their own recognition.
When I awoke at 5am yesterday morning, I was aware that the day was going to be hectic. I had a client visiting from Sacramento, and was staring down the barrel of a day full of meetings, followed by a huge dinner party that I had organized for a bunch of people. The client that I was picking up was a self-proclaimed cheapskate, and asked that I pick her up from Burbank airport and then shuttle her around town all day in order for her to save on the cost of cab far or a car rental. I agreed, anything to please the client, but warned her straight out that I had just moved to LA, and did not know my way around at all. Frightened of getting lost, I plugged all my destinations into Mapquest, and was armed with a stack of directions the size of a small novel when I arrived at Burbank Airport to pick her up. It was while I was waiting for her in the pick-up area when I had my first incident. I was waiting in my car, distracted by Howard Stern, and was startled when the security guard snuck up on me and pounded on my window asking me to move my car. I was so startled in fact, that my incredibly hot cup of coffee flew out of my hands and landed nicely in the middle of my passenger seat, spilling all over my car, myself, and more importantly, all over my directions. Luckily they were still somewhat legible, just quite wet. When my client showed up, whom by the way I was meeting for the first time, I was frantically trying to wipe up the coffee on my skirt and the passenger seat with a tee shirt from my gym bag. I greeted her with an overly-enthusiastic “Hi there! Nice to meet you.” She eyed me warily and hesitantly sat down on the just-clean passenger seat.
Due to the smeared and coffee stainded directions, I got lost several times on the way to my meetings. I managed to cover up my mistakes somewhat as my client did not know her way around Los Angeles either. She seemed to think that it took 45 minutes to travel what was supposed to be about five miles. After the long morning finally ended, I frantically rushed back into the office, late for a lunch meeting. I entered the dark, and very quiet, conference room where the meeting had already begun, and sat down quickly in the only available chair. I was shocked to realize that someone had used said chair as a resting place for their plate of half-eaten pizza and salad. I jumped up, yelled “SHIT!!” in front of everyone, and excused myself to the ladies room to clean myself up. I returned to the meeting embarrassed and pizza stained, and thought to myself, "This day surely can't get any worse."
I spent the rest of the afternoon driving my client aimlessly all over Los Angeles. As I dropped her off for the last meeting of the day, I realized that the frantic driving had drained my gas tank, and I needed a fill-up so as to not run out of fuel on my way to my big client dinner at The Ivy. I rolled up to the Shell station, and began pumping. As I reached down to fix the strap on my brand new pair of red leather sling-back stilettos (BCBG...and very NICE), the gas hose came flying out of the tank and proceeded to douse me from the waist down. I was soaked with gasoline. Literally soaked…it was dripping off my skirt, and had pooled in my shoes. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for someone to acknowledge what had happened. Unfortunately, the only person who saw the incident was a woman who appeared to be a prostitute, and even she was looking at me with pity. There was no gas station attendant to be found to help me out, and the station was one of those with only a small booth in which to pay, therefore offering no bathroom where I could take refuge and clean myself up. I whimpered quietly, wondering what the hell I could do. I didn’t have time to go home, and I HAD to attend the dinner. It had been planned for weeks, many people were coming, and I was the glue that was holding all the attendees together. I rummaged through my gym bag, found a pair of yoga pants, and proceeded to change into them while seated in the driver’s side of my car. I put my shoes in a plastic bag, and angrily threw my coffee/pizza/unleaded fuel stained skirt into the trash with a flourish. I called ahead to the office where I was to be picking up MORE clients that I was meeting for the first time, and told my boss what had happened. My explanation was met with silence and absolutely no compassion, so I forged onward. I returned to work, and spent about 20 minutes in the ladies room putting together an outfit that consisted of the aforementioned yoga pants, the shirt that I used earlier in the day to clean up the coffee in my car, a leather jacket (you know...to dress up the outfit a bit), and a pair of running shoes. I unfortunately still had no access to a shower, so I attempted to wipe the gasoline off my legs with paper towels from the women’s restroom. When we got to my car to leave for the restaurant my client informed me that I did in fact smell quite bad, and offered me some of her perfume to help mask the smell. I thanked her profusely, and, not realizing that the cap was already unscrewed, poured the entire bottle of Chloe onto my arm. It was then that I cried.
After the story of my being doused in gas came out at dinner, I had to sit through two hours of people making fun of me. The waiter went to light a candle…everyone at the table screamed “NOOOO!!” One particularly funny client asked the waiter to pretend that I was disturbing the neighboring table with my odor. I was not amused.
I woke up this morning with a fresh outlook on life. After all…it was a new day. Unfortunately, my sunny disposition quickly disappeared quickly. As I sat down at my desk this morning, my contact lens popped out of my eye and when I bent down to pick it up, I rolled over it with my chair, rendering it completely useless. As I type this, one eye is clear…the other blurry, and I have a low-grade migraine as a result.
Posted by Jen at 03:35 PM
In 90 days I managed to travel the country and see every single person I have ever known in my entire life. I was in Manhattan, Miami, Boca Raton, Chicago, Los Angeles and Peoria. This was helluva lot of traveling from my home in San Francisco. The child of two devoted United travelers, I naturally grew up to be a United traveler in my own right. All of my miles are on United, all of my credit cards are in the name of United. It was only in this 90-day explosion of domestic travel that I was forced to reach out and touch other airlines. (When corporate travel books your flight, you don’t ask, you just fly.) At the end of my 90 days, I learned two very important things: 1 – I will never take a job that requires a lot of travel. 2 – I now consider myself to be some sort of expert on the personalities of different airlines. They are not, in fact, all the same. They each own their own piece of the sky. The airline you choose can and will affect your mood once your feet are back on the ground. Here are a few things to keep in mind next time you’re booking a flight.
Come fly the angry skies. From first-class to us slobs in economy, ticketing agents to stewards, no one is getting enough – not enough food, not enough space, not enough ass-kissing, not enough information, not enough salary – frankly, from the scowls I’ve seen, it seems not enough sex, either. Everyone is just plain pissy. Growing up on United, I just assumed this was the way of the world. Airlines are places where travelers and employees come together to hate their current state of existence. It’s nothing more than a means to an end; get me where I need to go, or get me a lousy paycheck. Either way, thank you very little.
My theory on the angry skies is simple: The employees are pissed off that their company is going down the shit-tubes and the passengers are either A) pissy that there is such a ridiculous division of class in every aspect of this airline, or B) pissy that they have to ride on the same plane as those commoners in coach.
After being scolded for having my seat-back in the reclined position during landing (some bitchy steward actually said to me “You would have KNOWN this if you hadn’t SLEPT through my safety presentation before take-off”), I decided I officially hate United. I also decided that bitch of a steward had best not step in front of my car. Ever.
There really IS something special in the air. It’s called legroom! In a stroke of absolute genius, American actually was able to break through the whole division of class crap by offering more legroom in coach. This isn’t some silly marketing ploy – it’s real. And it’s brilliant. Whereas most travelers used to view United and American as essentially one and the same, those that have come over from the dark side are suddenly amidst friendly, polite, happy people. Just like on the ground! It’s amazing what a little space can do for morale. Those in first class are not nearly as aloof. In fact, more than once I saw first-classers checking out the leg room in coach and asking themselves why in the hell anyone would waste dollars/miles on an upgrade. That’s right – those coachers are suddenly the smarter and more savvy travelers. The playing ground is even, the stewards know it, and everybody’s happy.
Ever wondered why no one with green hair, tats or multiple piercings traveled? Then you’ve never been on Northwest Airlines. Hands down, the people-watching on Northwest is amazing. I never realized how terribly white the big two airlines really are. I didn’t see a single business suit on my Northwest trip. Rather, I got to watch two of the strangest human beings I have ever seen for four uninterrupted hours. (The guy actually ate an entire head of romaine lettuce in ten minutes. When I say entire – I mean ENTIRE – root and all. Did I mention he ate it like an apple? Bizarre.) The experience was sensational. Diversity. Just like on the ground! Amazing!
The diversity doesn’t end with the travelers. The stewards are equally pierced, overweight and flamboyantly gay. It’s FABULOUS. There is nothing corporate or big business about the employees of Northwest. They get it – I’m not asking for a pedicure, I’m just asking for another pillow. I don’t want to be ostracized for my high maintenance two-pillow-preferring ass.
And then there’s Jet Blue. Good God they must be pumping laughing gas through the ventilation system. NEVER will you find friendlier, happier stewards. And why not? These people are making money hand-over fist. Their CEO flies at least once a week to ask travelers what they like and don’t like. Then, in a strange and rare act of selflessness, he actually makes changes based upon the feedback! OMIGOD – has hell frozen over????
Jet Blue has NO, I repeat, NO division of class. Everyone gets a big fat leather chair. Everyone gets Direct TV. Everyone gets friendly stewards who can tell you what’s on for the duration of your flight. I got to see a horse, a cow, a goat and twelve puppies being born! I ask you – what better way to spend your time in flight than witnessing the miracle of birth on the Animal channel? But travelers beware – you must execute self-control. By the time I got off the 6-hour flight to NYC, I was afraid I was growing antennae. Direct TV two feet in front of your face for six hours can be a little much. I did much better on my way home. (Then again, there was a cute boy sitting next to me, so I focused on watching smart programs start to finish instead of surfing the Game Show Network, Home Improvement Channel and E!.)
So what have we learned? Always ask yourself what kind of trip you’re embarking upon before booking your flight. United is a great airline if you’re, say, flying to hell. When you don’t want the vacation to end, book a flight on Jet Blue – squeeze every last drop out of your trip. If you’re planning to be on a flight for more than eight hours, Jet Blue may not be the best thing for your brain – take the legroom on American instead. And if you’re looking for material to submit to bitch-sessions, by all means book your next trip on Northwest.
Posted by Yoda at 11:09 AM
Six Days, Seven If You're Lucky
My company recently issued a memo announcing the 2003 holiday schedule. This memo rivals its recent predecessors, the You’re All Getting a 10% Pay Cut memo and the Health Care Costs Are Going Up (So Stop Going to the Doctor So Much) memo in its shocking absurdity. There are only six days on the holiday schedule, seven if you are not an unfortunate bastard in sales or customer support. Since we’ve already used up New Years Day, this means my next official holiday isn’t until… Memorial Day? Are you fucking kidding me? No MLK, no Presidents Day, no Easter or Arbor Day. NO FUCKING VACATION DAY UNTIL MAY 26.
My friends who live in Europe get far more vacation time than their American counterparts, and they're happier with their jobs (and work harder) as a result. Companies in America are increasingly cutting costs, cutting jobs, and as witnessed by this pathetic memo, cutting holidays too. Do they think this is a way to motivate employees? What happens to the parents who have children out of school for holidays that governments recognize but companies do not? Do they get a babysitter? Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose of having a holiday in the first place?
All I can say is I haven’t done a lick of work since I got here, and I don’t plan to. I have bills to pay, thank you notes to write, and the life of a great civil rights leader to reflect on. The Powers That Be who think giving out fewer vacation days improves employee efficiency can kiss my web-surfing, personal-call-making ASS today, because I am the exception that disproves the rule. Now excuse me, I have a cigarette to smoke.
Posted by GxxP at 11:18 AM
I recently had a cell phone conversation with Jen that went a little something like this:
Jen: Hey girl, wassup?
Me: Busy day at work, but I’m chilling at home right now, about to meet the Brits as Hi-Fi. Hey, it’s 6:30 in LA, where are you?
Jen: I’m in my car.
Me: Wait a minute – does this mean you’re wearing one of those wacky headsets so you can talk while you’re driving?
Jen: (hesitates, giggles) Yes.
Me: (joins Jen in fit of laughter)
The week before I had spoken to Jayme, who was driving around Peoria with Syrus her dog along for the ride. As she gave an amusing blow by blow of a drunken Santa swaggering around the Toys R Us parking lot, I couldn’t help but find the whole thing so strange. Not only are my friends calling me from their cars, but they have cars, period.
I’ve been receiving a lot of phone calls lately that have given me pause. People calling me from their cars, or calling me to tell me they’re looking at houses, or asking me if I’m aware of how low interest rates are right now.
The answer to that question is NO, I haven’t been following interest rates, in fact I only recently appreciated the state of interest rates when my little brother called me from Wyoming to calculate the mortgage payment on a house he and his wife recently bid on. Yes, the same kid who was known for industrious yet unauthorized use of our father's credit card during his teen years is about to buy a house. Upon hearing news like this, my immediate reaction, after congratulating my friends and loved ones on taking the Next Big Step Towards Adulthood, is, “Am I ever going to grow up?”
I live in a playground for adults, in a city where anything you want is at your immediate disposal. As I watch my friends who live elsewhere enter adulthood, I begin to feel as if I’m suffering from some sort of arrested development. I go out a lot, I hang out with my friends, I shoot pool and smoke pot, and sometimes address my co-workers as “Dude”. I’m the only person I know who made a new years resolution to quit the gym. I live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in which every square surface is covered with a book, a CD, a photograph, or a sock. It’s a lot like my apartment in college, minus the slacker roommates. I don’t own a vehicle, and when I’m home for Christmas, I utter seven little words that bring me right back to high school: “Hey Mom, can I borrow the car?” I’m thirty years old. Is this a bad thing?
I guess compared to most people who share my demographic, yeah, it might be a bit strange. Over the years when I’ve returned to Peoria for holidays I’ve watched the local watering holes get emptier and emptier of people I know as they settle down, get married, have children, and forget what the inside of a bar looks like. I’m far more likely to see someone I used to baby sit in a Peoria bar than someone from my high school class.
Then I return to New York, and am welcomed by the open arms of innumerable 30-somethings just like me. I have settled down in one of the last communities in America where a 30-year old single woman is not considered a pariah, in fact, she's considered pretty smart. I have married friends here, but they’re really cool married friends, the kind who seem more like fun roommates than two people conjoined until death do they part. They, like my single friends, are a constant source of intellectual stimulation and good old-fashioned fun. Married or not, we’ve all embraced the collective culture that comes with living in a big city. We traipse around neighborhoods, befriending local business owners, chatting with strangers, constantly keeping our eyes and minds opens for new experiences.
I’m not saying that people that live elsewhere don’t embrace exploration, nor am I saying that mortgages and car payments an adult make. I do however know that when I’m away from the music, ideas, and excitement about life that I share with the friends I've made in New York, I want to get back to them as quickly as possible. My friends challenge me, they teach me, and they have a way of saying the right things at the right time. While expressing to Stevie my fears that New York City is a catalyst for arrested development, he broke it down like this. “I wouldn’t say arrested development,” he said. “It’s more like… prolonged young-adulthood.”
Although that could be just a matter of semantics, looking at the issue a little deeper, I realize that New York living has a way of keeping you young. I’m not just a 30-year-old, car-less, renter. I’m a 30-year-old, car-less, renting New Yorker, and I am all of these things by choice. There are plenty of years ahead of me in which I can pay car insurance and buy a house. Of course I probably won’t even be in NYC when that happens, because for starters there are no houses in Manhattan, and cars that aren’t painted bright yellow with a “For Hire” sign on their roof do not belong here. But when and if that day arrives, and I do finally join the ranks of my married, home-owning, driving peers, I’ll think back lovingly to this colorful mess of an apartment, the three block walk to Hi-Fi, and the cast of characters awaiting me there. As far as I’m concerned, adult life doesn’t get much better than this. I plan to prolong it for as long as I possibly can.
Posted by GxxP at 01:43 PM
Just a mere three days ago I professed my excitement over of one of the many, many reality TV programs gracing the airways this week. The Surreal Life premiered last night, and turned out to be everything I could have ever imagined it to be....and way, way, less.
For those of you who haven't been living on planet earth (or those of you who simply don't suffer from serious reality-tv addictions like myself), The Surreal Life is one the latest reality tv shows, and can simply be described as "The Real World" meets "The World of Washed-up Celebrities Attempting to Capitalize on their Former Stardom in One Last Pitiful Gasp." It's brilliant.
Let's meet the cast:
Former star of such great films as Goonies, Stand by Me, and The Lost Boys, Corey now dedicates his life to being a colossal asshole. Though being a colossal asshole is quite time consuming, Corey somehow manages to find time to insult and offend almost everyone around him. He is also is a self-proclaimed sex-addict. Lucky for him, his fiancé lets him sleep with other women, as long as she is in the room. I hate him so very much.
Lead singer for Motley Crue and Dr. Feelgood himself, Vince Neil has spent his life as THE bad boy of rock n' roll. Vince has seen and done everything, and is nonplussed by the actions and antics of his new roommates. He's jaded, he's cool, and he's my favorite cast member.
Emmanual "Manny" Lewis..aka Webster
Webster looks exactly the same as he did when he was nine years old, but slightly chubbier. His adorable looks have been preserved as if he's been kept in some sort of child star time capsule for the past 25 years. That, combined with the high-pitched squeal he lets loose every two minutes, frightens me to my very core.
Former rap superstar MC Hammer now spends the majority of his life away from the spotlight, preaching to his church, spending time with his family, and recovering from serious bankruptcy. Though he seems like a genuinely nice guy, his tendency to break into Mr. T - like rants when he gets worked up is rather annoying.
Former playmate of the year and Baywatch star, Brande now spends her days...um...well...being blond with big boobs? She also seems to have an unnaturally close relationship to her dog. She's boring. Next please!!
Andrea Zuckerman faded from the spotlight immediately following her departure from 90210. They claim she is the host of her own talk show "Gabrielle," but I work in TV, and have neither seen nor heard of such a show...ever. I was once the host of my own talk show too. It was called "Teen Talk," and was produced by my best friend in the eight grade. It was likely seen by more people that "Gabrielle," seeing as I forced all my friends and neighbors to watch it on a regular basis.
Former star of "Survivor: The Australian Outback," and former Playboy Playmate, Jerri is trying to stretch out her 15 minutes of fame as long as is humanly possible. She is a self-proclaimed "bitch," and strangely enough is one of the most likable cast members.
And so it begins...
Corey arrived first, kissed his fiancé (who is WAY too good looking for him) goodbye, and then promptly entered the house only to immediately call her and tell her how much he already missed her. Vince Neil arrived next, dropped off his stuff, popped open a beer, and plopped down on the couch. Webster, Hammer, Brande, and Andrea Zuckerman arrived in rapid succession.
Hammer and Webster immediately initiated a disturbingly close friendship and agreed to share a small orange room. Hammer got the top bunk. All joking aside...MC Hammer is actually sleeping on the top bunk of a bunk bed. While unpacking, Webster pulled a People's Choice Award out of his suitcase and began polishing it. Hammer laughed, reached into his own suitcase, and trumped Webster's People Choice Award with one of his very own Grammy's. The two new BFF's giggled, and prominently displayed the awards on a shelf in their room.
As the roommates gathered around the table for a meet and greet, they realized that they were still missing one member of the group. Despite the 700 pictures of her scattered about the house, it still took all of their collective brain power to discern that the last roommate would be Jerri Manthey from Survivor. This incensed Corey Feldman for some reason, who stated over and over that she was not "one of them," and did not belong or deserve to be on the show. They were, after all, big superstars, and Jerry was just a contestant on a reality show. Um, Corey? NEWSFLASH!! YOU are a contestant on a reality show.
As the roommates got adjusted, a small envelope containing $500 for groceries and supplies magically appeared, and the group decided to make a trip to the supermarket. Andrea Zuckerman lovingly prepared a specific list of food and supplies that they would need in order to survive the two weeks. Sadly, and despite all Andrea's motherly good intentions, when the group arrived at the supermarket the list was forgotten altogether and the organized shopping trip quickly became a wild free-for-all. Each roommate took a cart and barreled around the store, tossing food and supplies into their carts willy nilly as if on a celebrity version of Supermarket Sweep. Ten frantic minutes later, they all met at the cash register and spent about sixteen hours figuring out what they should and should not buy. Corey was a horrible nuisance, constantly yelling and bitching about the fact that he was a vegetarian and he could starve (STARVE!!!) if they didn't purchase him the proper food. While all this was going on the other supermarket patrons stood around, mouths agape, murmuring to each other and remarking on the ridiculousness of the scene. One women's cell phone conversation was overheard. "It's MC Hammer and Webster," she said with a disgusted and perplexed tone. "It appears that they're fighting with Corey Feldman about what groceries to buy."
Upon the roomie's return to the manse, the real fun began. Corey and Andrea had a knock-down drag-out fight about vegetarianism. Corey's argument made so little sense that I find it difficult to even convey, but I will try. The short and long of it was that he was a staunch vegetarian for moral reasons and NOT health reasons. He thinks animals should be loved and petted and not killed EVER, for any reason. He then proceeded to tell Andrea that she was basically a horrible animal killer. She was surprisingly gracious, brushed it off, and told him that he was welcome to his opinions. She then noticed his shiny leather shoes, and asked him how he rationalized wearing leather if he was a vegetarian for "moral" reasons.
"Leather," he screamed, "Has NOTHING to do with being a vegetarian for moral reasons." "Plus," he explained, "they were a gift, so it doesn't count."
"A gift?" Andrea asked with a condescending note in her voice. "How about if I give you a big fat steak as a gift, then will you eat it?"
"IT'S NOT THE SAME!!" Corey whined, and stomped off to call his fiancé for what seems like the 100th time that day.
I'm liking Andrea more and more. I actually thought she was being rather generous offering him a steak. At that point in the show all I would have been willing to offer him as a gift would have been a big fat kick in his gigantic head.
Jerry Manthey of "Survivor" showed up soon after the argument. She was greeted with lukewarm hellos from her fellow cast members. Corey made it a point to be excessively rude, seemingly following her around for the sole purpose of putting her down and making her feel like a "lesser" star. Brande, Jerri's fellow Playboy Playmate, was the cattiest of the females...stating that she was incredibly disappointed that the seventh roommate was a "nobody."
After a touching heart-to-heart in the living room, followed by a chorus of Kum Bah Yah...the roommates went to bed and the world was at peace for eight hours or so.
They next morning the roomies got up and discovered that the "Surreal Life Fairy" ( aka the producers of the show) had left them a "Surreal Life Newsletter" and several pans of brownies. The "Surreal Life Newsletter" kept them abreast of the goings on in the house, and basically spread gossip in the manner of the National Enquirer. The headline of the newsletter screamed "Brande says, "Jerri Manthey is NO Robin Givens." Huh? I must have missed something because I have no idea what that means. I don't feel so bad, because it didn't appear that the roommates knew what the headline meant either. It certainly sounds scandalous though doesn't it? One of the other "stories" in the newsletter was entitled "New Roommates give Brownies to Neighbors."
About 10 minutes later, somebody said, "I have a great idea! Let's go deliver brownies to the neighbors."
What followed was one of the saddest, most pathetic scenes I've ever borne witness to. The seven roommates marched along the street, pounding on doors, and thrusting plastic pans of brownies in the faces of their wealthy neighbors, many of whom sensibly did not open their doors. Webster and Hammer led the group, like two mismatched drum majors directing a band of nerds. I felt sorry for them. So sorry for them in fact that I could no longer watch, and changed the channel for about ten minutes to catch part of a rerun episode of Queer as Folk on Showtime.
After a healthy dose of gay soft porn, I was ready to return to our friends on The Surreal Life.
I don't know what I missed, and frankly I don't care. When I returned to the show, the roommates were readying themselves for some sort of dinner party. They arrived in the backyard, and found that the producers had prepared a lavish feast of sushi for the group. Hammer, Webster, and Corey were disgusted. Why were they disgusted you may ask? Well, this was no ordinary feast of sushi. This sushi was elaborately displayed atop a scantily clad, and very well endowed, Asian woman. Again you may ask....Why were those three men disgusted? Saki, sushi, and near nude females are usually not something that most normal men oppose to. It has been well established however that Hammer, Webster, and Corey are nowhere near normal. Not liking sushi, loving god and family, and not wanting to exploit women were some of Hammer's reasons for fleeing the scene and running back into the house. Webster was made so uncomfortable by the situation that he couldn't stop giggling like a hyena. He immediately joined Hammer back in their room. Corey also begged off, stating that he wasn't allowed to enjoy the company of another woman unless his fiancé was present. He also made it a point to let us know once again that he was a VEGETARIAN and couldn't have enjoyed the food anyway. (I swear, if I hear him say that one more time...) Always the hypocrite, two seconds later he let us in on the knowledge that if his fiancé WAS there, he would have been able to enjoy both the woman AND the food.
Corey's Rules of Vegetarianism:
Killing of animals is immoral and wrong.
Addendum 1: You can wear leather if it is a gift.
Addendum 2: You can eat meat if sex is involved.
Do I have that about right?
The four remaining roommate's attempt to enjoy their meal was thwarted by the three opposers, who, continuously throughout the meal, returned to the table to tell the diners how immoral and wrong it was to be gawking at a near-nude woman. These sentiments failed to ring true with me, as all three
naked-sushi opposers gaped and stared the "poor exploited women's breasts" during the entirety of their diatribe.
Some drinking happened after that, and some more fighting. Corey placed about 43 more calls to his fiancé, during the last of which he asked her to marry him on live TV during the last episode of the show. "Honey," he said, "Just think, our marriage will be seen by the entire world!"
Corey, I have some news for you..the "entire world" is a bit of a stretch. Keep acting as you have, you'll be lucky if all seven members of the cast show up for the ceremony.
The episode ended with what I'm sure was intended as dramatic revelation, but turned out to be nothing more than Corey Feldman trying to get some camera time. Corey gathered his roommates around and announced with gusto that he would be getting married on the show!!! Brande looked confused. Vince Neil yawned and popped open a cold beer. Hammer and Webster missed the announcement entirely as they had tucked themselves into their bunk beds promptly at 8pm.
Next week on The Surreal Life:
Some nudity may be involved, bikinis are definitely involved, and Vince Neil drinks more beer. Most importantly, someone makes Corey Feldman cry.
I will put myself through he pain of watching this show again for the sole purpose of finding out who caused Corey's pain. I plan to send that person a heartfelt letter of congratulations and thanks.
Till next time....
Posted by Jen at 01:52 PM
Wurd of the Day
Emoticon-itis - Condition in which one is inexplicably tempted to put tiny smiley, sad, and winky faces into one's emails and instant messages. Those suffering acutely will include them in their hand-written missives, although they find it difficult to turn the faces back upright after years of typing them sideways.
Posted by GxxP at 12:09 PM
My name is Jennifer, and I am a reality TV addict.
I have been a reluctant, yet avid, fan of reality television since its onset many years ago. In 1992, I watched with innocent eyes as MTV premiered The Real World to skeptical audiences. Unknowingly beginning a trend that, 11 years later, has spiraled wildly out of control. I unfortunately have been caught like a deer in headlights for the entirety of this 11 year evolution. I watched each season of the Real World with religious fervor, and when MTV decided to add Road Rules to its reality repertoire, I jumped on the bandwagon without skipping a beat. Embarassed, I kept my addiction quiet, though it was quickly revealed that I wasn’t the only one watching. It soon became clear to producers that TV viewers as a whole seemed to be a voyeuristic lot, and it therefore came as no surprise when the major networks finally opened thier eyes and eventually picked up on the trend. With the premiers of such shows as Survivor and The Mole, reality television broke through into broadcast TV, and there was no stopping it. The onset of each new season brings us a seemingly endless supply of this increasingly sensational and entirely ridiculous world, and my addiction is constantly fed.
It was fed especially well last night.
WHO IS OUT FOR LOVE? WHO IS IN IT FOR MONEY?
Romance and reality intertwine as 20 women travel to France for a whirlwind romance with a man whom they think is a dashing millionaire. What will happen when the truth is finally revealed that he is a just a regular "Joe" and his wealth is a facade? Will his true love accept him for who he is, or reject him in search of greener pastures? As this handsome, young, eligible man begins his search for "The One," he discovers which of these women are out for true love and which are just interested in his bank account in JOE MILLIONAIRE…
Will his chosen companion reject him once she learns the truth, or will true love win out?
Following ABC's wild success with The Bachelor, FOX too has decided to hop aboard the love train, throwing in the aforementioned exciting new twist to make things really interesting. In the premier episode last night, we met Joe Millionaire (aka Evan), and watched as he bumbled around his borrowed chateau, clumsily pulling the wool over the eyes of 20 gold digging women who were so busy mentally tallying up their fortune that they failed to notice that Mr. Moneybags didn't know his middle name, let alone how to properly mount a horse or waltz around a ballroom. After the end of a nauseatingly boring, yet strangely compelling hour, Evan narrowed down the field to a mere 12 ladies, a choice seemingly based solely on breast size. Next week...Catfighting and crying!! Meow! Sign me up.
Sad that you missed Joe Millionaire? Don't fret! Network television never disappoints! Premiering in the upcoming weeks are a whole slew of bad reality programs in which you can get your fix.
Not missing a beat, ABC picks up right where The Bachelor left off, with ...The Bachelorette. This gem of a show stars Trista, the rejected finalist from the first season of The Bachelor. She's not letting being dumped on national television get her down! Trista is "still single and optimistic about love," and looking to find a man. Good luck Trista. Good Luck. Hopefully one of the men you spend two weeks with will ask you to marry him and you will live happily ever after. Realistic AND romantic. Sigh.
Meet the Folks
Those crazy matchmakers at NBC are at it again. Meet the Folks is back, and badder than ever. Have you ever liked a guy, and thought to yourself, "Gosh, I really wish I could compete for his love with eight other girls, have frightening secrets revealed about myself on national television, go through a lie detector test in a scary basement, and then have his parents tell me that I am or am not good enough to be with their son." ?? Then this is the show for you. See the website for details about how you too can be humiliated in front of millions of viewers.
High School Reunion
Ever want to re-live high school for all eyes to see? Well the WB is letting 17 former classmates from the Oak Park/River Forest, Illinois Class of 1992 do just that on their new reality series High School Reunion. The tagline reads: 17 Former Classmates; 14 Days on an Island; 11 Lingering Crushes; 6 Old Scores to Settle; 5 Amazing Transformations; 3 New Loves; 2 Knock-outs; 1 Marriage Proposal.
I watched the premier. I saw: 1 day on the island, 3 makeout sessions, 2 dates, 1 breakup, lots of tears, 3 washed up jocks with beer bellies, receding hairlines too numerous to count, and a bunch poor saps willing to whore their lives out for a shot at being on national television.
The Surreal Life
Saving the best for last, I reveal to you...The Surreal Life. A brief description says it all:
The recipe for The Surreal Life is a simple one: Take seven bigger-than-life celebrities from every genre of the entertainment industry - rap music, heavy metal, feature films, sitcom, drama, and even reality television itself. Throw them together under pressure. Stir.
Trapped without transportation, cell phones or personal assistants, they must interact with each other, share bedrooms and bathrooms, do household chores, go grocery shopping and prepare meals together. The cameras never stop rolling, so the power struggles and personality clashes are all captured on film - along with the very real new friendships.
The familiar faces include:
MC Hammer, Emmanuel Lewis, Brande Roderick, Corey Feldman, Gabrielle Carteris, Vince Neil, and Jerri Manthey.
A group camping trip, "Naked Sushi" night, a softball game, a unique backyard talent show and a surprising Hollywood wedding ... it's all part of everyday life - and it's always surreal.
I have to give The WB the blue ribbon on this one. Never has a reality show combined everything I look for in bad reality television and thrown in washed up celebrities to boot. It's too good to be true. This is the ultimate, the best, the Sistene Chapel of reality TV. The possibilities are endless. Just imagine... What will happen if rap star-come-preacher MC Hammer has to share a bathroom with Motley Crue's Vince Neil? Will Webster get the top bunk or the bottom bunk? What will Playboy Playmate Brande Roderick wear to bed? Will Corey Feldmen get laid? Hopefully on January 9th at 9pm all these questions, and more, will be answered. I for one know I will be watching.
Still a fan of the old standards? Not to worry. In addition to all of these exciting new and innovative series, you can rest assured that you will still be able to view all your favorites. Survivor, Fear Factor, Big Brother, American Idol, The Osbornes...They're all returning once again to rot our minds and provide thrilling water cooler conversation. Best of all, and most important in my eyes, The Real World still continues to plug along in its unprecedented 12th season. Minus, of course, is any semblance of reality whatsoever. The time is long past when we witnessed roommates inhabiting sparsely decorated apartments and scraping together money for food. These new kids live in an Ikea showroom on the 20-something floor of a posh Las Vegas Casino. Their biggest hardship seems to be the fact that they stay out too late every night dancing, drinking,and media-whoring. In and of itself, that's not so bad, but their hangovers render them so exhausted that they are too tired to behave dramatically enough to merit extended periods of camera time.
God I love reality TV.
Posted by Jen at 03:53 PM
In a moment of boredom during Christmas week in Peoria, I got an idea. I will apply to grad school! Perhaps this revelation was inspired by two of my close friends, Jayme and Glenda, who after suffering through months of unemployment in New York City, decided to apply to law school last year. I stood idly by, offering words of encouragement while they took hours of practice LSAT tests, scoured resources on the schools most suitable to their needs, and penned essay after essay during the application process. As impressed as I was by their ambition, I couldn’t help but think, I’m so glad that’s not me.
It was funny, then, that this idea hit me, and even funnier that I decided to act on it. It started with research I conducted from my dad’s computer on Christmas Day and ended eight days later when I sent off my application to an MFA program at a New York University. Only a week had passed, but much had happened. Not only had I managed to compile 30 pages of prose, compose (and re-compose) a personal statement and book review, and gather three letters of recommendation and my college transcripts, but I also finally understood what Jayme and Glenda had been going through over the past several months… hell.
This experience was challenging for a number of reasons. For starters, I didn’t exactly have a lot of time. How was I supposed to know that in order to go to school in September you have to apply by January? I’ve been out of college for nearly eight years and forgot how this works. Which leads me to another reason why this was hellish. I’ve been out of college for eight years. I have no academic references pertinent to what I’m trying to do – not only would my college psychology professors not remember me, but they wouldn’t have a hell of a lot to say about my potential to become a creative writer. While gathering essays for my writing sample wasn’t hard – an extensive cut-and-paste session on this website yielded far more than the required 30 pages – honing it down to material that didn’t mention wanton drug usage, porn, or me making an ass of myself proved to be a difficult task. And that was the material that I had at my disposal – there was still much to write beyond the creative sample. I’ve never written a personal statement, and am humbled to report that my first draft was the schmaltziest piece of writing I’ve penned since I got drunk on peppermint schnapps and wrote my holiday cards. (All two of them.) With the help of friends, I cleaned it up, at least into something I wasn't humiliated to submit.
The clock was constantly ticking, and I was keenly aware of how many days and hours I had until the deadline arrived. I holed myself away in my apartment for the entire weekend, leaving only once Saturday and once Sunday, both times to get food. I may have taken one shower. I was sleep deprived, and was a slug at work Monday and Tuesday. I struggled to dedicate myself to my job while my future as a Woman Of Letters hung in the balance -- plus, I had a book review yet to write and 30 pages of text to edit. At night I conferred with friends, all of whom had a different angle and opinion and didn't hesitate to share it with me. It got to the point that I didn't want to talk about it anymore -- the more I talked about it, the more hopeless I felt.
Still, I got it done, and accomplished in eight days what most people take months to do (and now I know why.) I have many people to thank, in words and free drinks, for their help. I'm sure that the kind souls who wrote my letters of recommendation had plans for their New Years week that didn’t involve getting me get into grad school. Two of my three letters I picked up in a bar – and that’s only because the third person I enlisted to vouch for me forgot to bring her letter to the New Years Eve party. Perhaps the aroma of champagne wafting from the page will intoxicate some unsuspecting faculty member into accepting me into their program.
To be honest, I have no expectations of getting accepted, and even if I do, I’m not even sure that I will go. I know that makes this whole process seem like a waste of time, but it wasn’t. At my age I feel some sort of social obligation to apply for graduate school – it seems like a rite of passage not unlike the thirtieth birthday party or the day you decide to take men home with you only if you really like them. The most important thing that I gained, besides the knowledge that I’d like to start taking writing classes again (although not necessarily two full-time years of them at the staggering price of $7-15K a semester), was the experience itself. In one week I vacillated between a wide range of emotions, from, “Yeah! Graduate school! I will walk among the academics, sipping coffee with fellow creators and pontificating on Things That Matter!”, to, “My writing is shit. It’s so shit, that it’s not good enough to get me into a program that will help me improve my writing. I’m doomed, forever shackled to the advertising industry and the vapidity of Corporate America. Woe is me!” I felt all of these things and more, sometimes within the same minute, which made for an emotionally-charged week.
I have no regrets about this past week, other than the tornado of activity I subjected my friends and loved ones to in order to get through it. I don’t like doing anything half-assed, so the fact that I applied to grad school in only a partially-assed manner makes me feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. I’m not sure what this holds for my future, if anything, but I do know that it was a worthwhile experience. It feels good to think about the future beyond next weekend, to ask yourself what you want out of life and assess what you need to do to get it. It's downright character-building to scoff at the odds stacked against you, roll up your sleeves, and just try. Most importantly, it feels damn good when it's over. Those present at Mickey’s Blue Room last night can certainly attest to that. (I was the deliriously happy girl drinking vodka-ginger ales and singing Eminem lyrics into my pool cue.)
Posted by GxxP at 01:59 PM
In “The Day I Turned Uncool – Confessions of a Reluctant Grown-Up”, essayist Dan Zevin gives a witty account of his personal experiences with aging. Through twenty-four confessions ranging from “I take pride in my lawn,” to “Expanding my horizons isn’t worth the hassle anymore,” Zevin juxtaposes his adult days with a wilder, less responsible time.
Not your average adult, Zevin makes the clear distinction between “regular” grown-ups and reluctant ones. “Regular grown-ups lead regular lives,” he explains. “They fret about their 401(k)’s and lose sleep over their receding hairlines. They use words like ‘interface’ and ‘multi-task’, and they are not even kidding.” Zevin, a self-proclaimed reluctant grown-up who still wears sweatpants he owned in college, admits to such reluctant grown-up behaviors as hiring a cleaning woman, joining a health club, and going out for dinner as a replacement for going out. Each confessional chapter paints an amusing image of the author, who would rather walk his surrogate daughter, a labrador named Chloe, than visit his friends with children.
Zevin is a pupil of the world, bumbling his way through etiquette courses, wine tastings, and golf classes. “I liked Ben,” he says of his golf instructor. “He had a pleasant laugh and the patient demeanor of a special ed teacher. Which was a very good thing, since I was going to be his pupil.” In “Back to School”, he incredulously relates his first experiences as an adjunct instructor at a local college:
On my first day of school, the kid sitting next to me raised his hand and made the following inquiry: “Professor, does that count toward our final grade?” I, for one, was taken aback, not so much by the question, but by the odd understanding that it was being asked to me. He may has well have called me Your Honor, or Captain, or some other title best reserved for serious, responsible figures of authority. “Professor”? That would suggest I have something to profess.
But he does have something to profess. Not many people, reluctant grown-ups or “regular” ones, are as undaunted as Zevin by the beckoning hand of Father Time. His ability to laugh at his fears makes him fearless, and his humbling tales lessen any misgivings we readers may have about our own advent into adulthood.
Zevin spins his tales from suburbia in a manner to which anyone can relate. In “The Grass Is Never Greener”, he laments his codependent relationship with his lawn:
Whenever I am faced with a looming work deadline, I’ll seize the opportunity to procrastinate with a little mulching. The effect is a lot like doing laundry: it’s never what you should really be doing, but it makes you feel like a productive and worthwhile human being nonetheless.
You don’t have to own a lawnmover to nod your head in empathetic appreciation.
Zevin joins the ranks of a refreshing new breed of writers who straddle the worlds of non-fiction and fiction through their humorous memoirs. Like fellow essayists David Sedaris and Amy Vowell, Zevin showcases his talent for storytelling, cleverly introducing a motley assortment of characters from neighborhood handymen, passive-aggressive etiquette instructors, and anti-social dog-walkers.
In one of the most entertaining selections, “Not My Junior Year Abroad”, he visits his brother, who is spending a college semester in Spain. Suffering from an unfortunate eyeball injury, Zevin compares his experiences as an early-to-bed, visually-challenged adult traveler with embellished entries from his college journal. The adult-aged Zevin watches HBO in his hotel and soaks his eye in tea, while the college-aged Zevin pens idealistic prose from his semester abroad in Copenhagen. College Zevin’s marijuana-induced journal entries reveal the truths of life, (“NEIL YOUNG = GOD”), whereas reluctant grown-up Zevin’s do not carry the same zeal. “The most intense drug experience I’ve had in recent memory involved double-dosing on ibuprofen,” he admits, “which, incidentally, you’ve got to try if you – like me – have been jonesing for a mind-blowing anti-inflammatory.”
Readers looking for earth-shattering subject matter need not look here. Zevin admits to steering clear of politics, philosophy, and just about any topic other than sports and his dog. Although some may prefer more socio-political commentary from their reading list, in an age of global warming, imminent war, and human cloning, Zevin’s sophomoric confessionals offer refreshing asylum from the world’s problems.
Zevin’s anecdotes strike the perfect balance between realism and hyperbole. He challenges us to rage against the dying of our youth, and reminds us that although we all grow older, with the right attitude, we can remain young at heart. Despite the book’s title, Zevin’s uncanny ability to make us laugh at the absurdity of adult life makes him anything but uncool.
Posted by Book Bitch at 08:10 PM