Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Lover Sings

“You’re the kind of girl who likes to open a bottle of pop too early in the journey” Billy Bragg, “A Lover Sings”

My friend Liz RT a post from a former, older male friend of mine: I could never be the cool dad. Unless tween girls think surliness & drinking & discolored sweatpants with weak elastic are cool. Do they?

I’m not going to go into all the moderately-scandalous details of our friendship (ask me about it at a party sometime) only that at one point he may or may not have referred to me as “his secret girlfriend.” *  But it was my early 20’s, and I was young and eager for affection, and he later broke my heart via a mix CD with Billy Bragg’s “A Lover Sings” (who does that?!?) and quit speaking to me until years later, when we got back in touch, had a too-long and awkward lunch and never spoke again.  

But seeing this tweet made me very, very sad.  He was never quite a fashion plate, although I do confess that I would swoon whenever he wore his yellow button-down and dark blue jeans, and he did have this cute blue scarf he wore clumsily looped around his unshaven neck.  He was a proto-hipster, a mix CD making, pulp reading, Chandler quoting genius.  And now, apparently, he just hangs around drinking gin and wearing gross sweatpants. But he was always surly.  Glad to see some bad habits never die hard.

Arlene and HGB and Dorothy put so much pressure on US, ladies, to stay fit and trim and cordial and pretty.  And there was no one on earth I tried to be as pretty for as him.  I would have DIED before showing up for one of our coffee dates in jeans and a tee-shirt.  Once, I wore cute go-go boots for him and he told me I looked like a streetwalker.  See what I mean about surliness?

But if a man isn’t going to put pride in his appearance, why should the woman he’s trying to woo put any into hers?  And then haven’t we all just given up?  Because it’s not about the clothes–it’s about the effort.  It’s about saying “I respect and care for you enough to put in some time” the same way we put time into our appearance when we go to work.  Looking good is not a crime.

And there is a time for sweatpants, a time for pajamas, a time for baggy jeans and a time for too-big tee-shirts. But it’s as if he’s given up.  It’s as if he’s given in.  The man who used to share his Junior Mints with me at Clive Owen movies and sat so close to me during Rififi that our knees were touching is no more, just one more sarcastic, bitter, middle-aged man loafing around while life goes by.  And those, darlings, are a dime a dozen and not worth a tenth of that.

Maybe that’s not the case, I don’t know.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, attaching value and meaning that isn’t there.  But what I do know is that the man I knew, the man who gave me vintage crime paperbacks and taught me to love French Roast coffee wouldn’t be caught dead slumming like that. 


*Answer: He totally did.

Don’t Mess With My Mouth

I’m in NYC for a few days, and finally decided that if anyone was going to teach me about makeup, it was going to be Sephora,  My favorite lipstick, which I never wear because it’s pretty intense, came from Sephora, a present to myself for my first publication sale to some nerd magazine about chem-free college dorm life (Oneida 4 A-L REPRESENT!) and I am finally able to afford maybe one little treat for myself.

I went into the store at Union Square and was immediately terrified.  Too much color.  Can I wear green eyeliner or will I look like a bad drag queen? (not an awesome one like Miss Uschi)  What do I do with THAT cream?  OH GOD HOW MUCH STUFF DO I HAVE TO PUT ON MY FACE?  Moisturizers, primers, glitter, bronzer . . . I almost had a panic attack standing in front of the Urban Decay stand.

Luckily, Desiree, who was wearing insane purple glitter eye shadow and rich dark red lipstick came to my rescue.  “You’re beautiful, and I’m going to tell you straight because you’re putting your trust in me,” she said in a thick, sassy accent  She even sat me down and dusted my face with Bare Minerals primer powder, smeared some bronzer on me and turned me loose in the mirror.

I could not believe what I saw.  I was beautiful.  I was a knock-out.  I looked like a doll.  My skin was even, flawless, perfect.  Wow.

I didn’t buy the primer.  Not at $27, but she packed a sample up for me and I’ll try to find a similar one back home.  But she showed me this awesome Moxie lipgloss which satisfied my desire to look like a dame while not leaving thick smears of dark red lipstick all over my coffee cups, and I picked up an electric blue eyeliner pencil because HECK YEAH.

I will probably never be a heavily made-up dame.  Desiree was cool with that.  She didn’t try to dump a bunch of products I would never use.  She showed me some tools for beauty and, better still, taught me that I had the power to use them.  And damn if that lipgloss doesn’t bring out my big wet smacker (easily my best feature)

Reader Submission

Melissa, who awesomely tweets under the handle @nursethebeer as “The future ex-Mrs. Malcolm” (it was pretty much love at first RT.  Seriously, follow her, she’s hysterical) sent me this amazing collection of video tutorials about keeping clean, neat and pretty enough so that people won’t run screaming from you.  For instance, internet, did you know taking a bath every day is a good habit?  Also, don’t wear red nail polish if you have stubby fingers.  It’ll draw attention to your gross deformity, and you’ll probably end up in the Mutter Museum, you freak.


Dirty Words, Nasty Thoughts

“There is no one who doesn’t shudder at the sound of an oath on a girl’s lips” Dorothy Dix, How To Win and Hold a Husband.

The one thing I’ve continually failed at in this experiment is not upsetting Ian with angry words and stressful stories.  One day I’ll make a deliberate undertaking of it, but for now, I’m merely self-conscious about after the fact.

In the last week, a bunch of idiots at my horrible grad program, Stonecoast MFA (sorry Elizabeth and Suzanne, you were great) decided that blah blah long story anyways, it ended with a bunch of CNF writers saying some really personal, hateful things to my writing partner, Matthew, which is NOT OKAY.

(now I can say this, because I’ve been in CNF workshops with all of them, and the girls in question are some of the most narcissistic bimbos I’ve ever met, like how B***** dad fighting in Vietnam TOTALLY RUINED HER LIFE. Call the waaaamublance.)

I take this kind of personally, because I had a pretty decent life, some trauma that I don’t like to talk about because it’s not really anybody’s business, parents who loved me, but I was told, by these same idiots, that my stories–and therefor, the life I lead–wasn’t worth hearing about, that my pain wasn’t painful enough.  My mentor, a man I formally respected, told me that I wasn’t allowed to use the word “addiction” because I guess he owned it or something.  That’s basically saying “You’re boring and no one cares.”  I didn’t write CNF for a long, long time because no one ever gave my work feedback, just told me what a horrible person I was (for what, I don’t know.  I wrote about records.  Sorry I wasn’t molested).

So I was ranting and raving to Ian about how these girls attacked me for no reason, and I called former classmate B***** a c****, because she is.  Her essays were all about her blowing dudes at NIN concerts for coke and she was TOTES ANGRY BECAUSE HER DAD WAS IN VIETNAM, plus she called me a bitch in workshop and the workshop leader let her get away with it.  And now she tried to use me against Matthew, like he should be ashamed of me and of himself for being friends with me.  I’m more hurt by her attacking him than I am at her attacking me.

But Ian, like most normal people, hates the c-word, so he got all mad at ME, and I ended up not only carrying my PTSD, but his stress about my dirty language.

I know I shouldn’t have said that about B***** because it was mean, and I don’t want to stop to her hateful level.  If I was a better person, I would pray that she finds some sort of happiness because she seems to hate everyone and everything, most of all, herself.  And I’m torn between feeling like I can lean on Ian when I’m terrified of my own ugliness and being afraid to let him see the ugliness inside of me.  I know Dorothy would say to keep it tucked in . . . but neither her, nor Arlene, nor HGB ever say what you do with that ugliness if there’s no outlet.

Throwing Shade

“Perhaps Arab women, swathed in veils, and Victorian maidens screening their complexions with scarves and parasols have the right idea”  Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.

I was blessed with a lovely alabaster complexion that turns a hellfire red if I’m out in the sun for more than eleven seconds.  I usually slather on a nice SPF 50 before going out of the mail, but I decided to try out my vintage Chinese paper parasol, because I’m fancy.

It was cumbersome at first and took a bit to get used to.  I had to lug that and my purse, and I wasn’t going far, just from the car to the mall.  But I got a ton of compliments.

I went out to Brewery Ommegang with Mike, thinking we’d get some beers, eat some lunch and walk around the grounds.  I was still wearing high heels, but I figured that the grass was lush enough where I was going to kick them off.

We decided to eat outside because it was so beautiful out, but with two master’s degrees between us, we couldn’t figure out how to get the table umbrella up.  Ah well, I thought to myself, setting down my parasol.  We’ll only be here long enough to eat and then I’ll walk around with my parasol up.

Two hours later we’re still sitting there, just talk talk talking, and my arm and shoulder has turned bright, bright red.  And it hurt.  

So much for my delicate pale skin.  We’ll try the parasol when my 3rd degree sunburn finally heals.  But for now, aloe and long sleeves


How To Sound Like an Idiot

“Don’t look overjoyed when a man dates you up.  Act as if you could take them or leave them, and it doesn’t matter which to you.” Dorothy Dix, How to Win and Hold a Husband.

ImageSo let’s say there’s this guy I like.  Older guy, blonde, big muscled arms, beautiful lips. Okay, let’s just say that it’s Kenny Johnson from The Shield and I’ve had a crush on him pretty much since day one.  I even watched Major League 3: Back to the Minors so I could look at him in a leotard.

Now let’s say I follow him on Twitter, because Twitter allows us to stalk people.  And then let’s say, for the fun of it, that he follows me back.  And for kicks, we’ll add that it’s just before my birthday and OMG I’M GOING TO FAINT.

Now the question is, how on earth do I communicate with this person without sounding like a drooling idiot fangirl?  The answer is, I haven’t. All I do is get up every morning to check that he still follows me, try to think of something clever to say (“I want to write a TV show where Kenny Johnson solves crimes with dinosaurs”) erase it and go about my day in a semi-neurotic state (that’s my usual mode and has nothing to do with Kenny Johnson).

I’ve never really been good at talking to boys I like.  I have two modes: Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Coy Seductress.  Mostly Manic Pixie Dream Girl, where I act all weird and goofy and bubbly, and I ask silly questions and make mix CDs because there’s this thing called the 90’s and it’s gonna be around forever.  Because more than anything, I want to be liked and I want to be adored.  I want to be special to a man, even if it’s just as a friend, and not just another series in dumb forgettable fangirls.  

So what to say to a boy I like?  According to Ms. Dix, nothing, apparently, not unlike Morrissey’s “The More You Ignore me, the Closer I Get.”  

The Nervous Home-wrecker

So last night my bestie Rachel’s husband Dave took me out to see Warm Bodies.  We’d sort of half been planning this date for a while; namely, when I went to see The Hobbit with him and our friend Darcy (and was a GREAT date by NOT falling asleep and drooling on his shoulder, because I’m ladylike) and we saw the trailer and he half-asked me if I wanted to go because, like The Hobbit, he didn’t think his wife would be interested.  That’s me, the Movie Mistress.

I was strangely nervous, partially because I could tell he was a little skittish about being seen out with me (and rumors starting that he was stepping out on his wife) and partially because I think Rachel is one of the most awesome people in the entire world, and if I somehow acted like a goober, it would get back to her and she wouldn’t like me anymore, which would be a mega-drag.  Not being liked by Rachel and Dave is one of my biggest fears.  It might be my biggest fear, actually, because I think they’re both so cool, and I’m sort of surprised they let me hang out with them, because I am a dork.

A little bit about Dave.  I like Dave a lot.  He smiles out of the corner of his mouth like Han Solo, and  he laughs at my jokes, and he has a very sharp, dry sense of humor that I dig.  He’s a great husband and a great dad, and I think that’s what I like best about him.  (See also: he laughs at my jokes.)

He picked me up at 8:15 in his wife’s car and immediately handed me his iPhone.  “You pick the tunes,” he said, already starting the date off on an awesome foot.  I picked the soundtrack to Les Mis, partially because I’d been making fun of him about it for a few days and partially because I was afraid of the touchscreen.  He rolled his eyes and laughed and sneered, “Oh shut up” and then I laughed.

It also marked the first time I was taller than my date.  My wedges propped me up so I was just slightly above him.  He took it well.

He bought us Cokes and a Lindt chocolate bar, the movie was free and there was free freshly-popped popcorn.  “You’re a cheap date,” he said in a way that made me feel like a million bucks.

The movie was passable, but we both made fun of it for MST3K bonus points.

Afterwards, he took me out for a beer at the same bar he and his guy friends go to, which also made me feel cool.  He was treating me like one of the guys instead of some delicate hot-house blossom, which is exactly how the husband of my best gal-pal should treat me.  We talked local politics, we made each other laugh, and around midnight, we both realized that we had to get up early for the exact same Mystery Train performance in the morning and said goodnight.  No hug, no kiss on the cheek, just “Catch ya later.”

There was no expectation, no weird tension, no performance on either of our parts.  We went out as two friends, we watched a cheesy movie and drank delicious beer in an empty bar with “Shipping Up to Boston” playing on the jukebox (not our choice).  It was one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in awhile.