Tag Archives: Always Ask a Man

What The What?!?

“Robert Mitchum hates to see a woman “all trussed up”  . . .Men want us to look as natural as possible.”  Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man


So let me get this straight . . . men don’t LIKE rubber undergarments, but women wear them ANYWAYS?!?!

Are we INSANE?!?


Feck Spanx; or My Addiction to Work and Beauty

My associate editor at the paper, MJ, says she giggles every time she sees me, because she knows I’m wearing Spanx.  I love working at the paper, I love being “Libby Cudmore, Girl Reporter,” I love seeing my name in print* and I love getting the paper on Wednesdays and saying, “Wow, look what I did!”  Everyone in my office is grand and I’ve never had a better working environment.

That being said, the Spanx incident has really made my think.  In having a rubber slip squish me into loveliness, the realization that I could always be thinner was a tad horrifying.  I mean, as it is, I just sold a Hot Topic wiggle dress from high school because it didn’t fit anymore–as in it was too big.  The most I’ve ever weighed is 111, and that was for a very brief time.  I still fit in a bikini I bought (also from Hot Topic) in my freshman year of college.  I wear a size 1 juniors in jeans.

But I can always be thinner.

Subsequently, working for a newspaper means being ready to work every minute of every day.  “There are a million stories in the naked city,” my boss always chides when I struggle to come up with something notable to write about.  This is one of the few times in my life where I haven’t been working two/three jobs, but I work –in some form or another–seven days a week.  That’s not a complaint, that’s a fact.

A recent Forbes study showed that women work harder than men.  And we’ve all been told that the harder we work, the further ahead we’ll get in life.  Over a decade working multiple jobs and getting a MFA, and I’m still up to my ears in student loan debt and can’t afford an apartment

I can always work harder.  Anything else is failure.

I realized that this was a problem when on Tuesday night, I had nothing to do.  My stories were all written, my pages were all laid out, there weren’t any meetings to attend.  I had the whole evening free . . . and I had no idea what to do.  I hadn’t had a night off in so long that I had forgotten how to relax.


I Would Wear Triple-Spanx for That Man

So I asked my friend Mike, who works a normal job like normal people, and he was thrilled to be asked because relaxing is something he excels at.  Not in a lazy way, but in a way that he knows the boundaries between work and play.  He told me to watch bad TV or play video games.  Since the X-Box was at the Teen Center and our TV is hooked up yet, I peeled off my Spanx and sat on the couch, watched three episodes of Face/Off and then Justified, which I don’t even like, but, well, Goggins.

Last night, after working another full day doing tear sheets, I came home, made dinner, did some errands and watched Law & Order: Special “No, this isn’t Chris Brown/Rhianna, what gave you that idea?” Unit.  And finally, after days of having my smoothed and shaped butt up around my ears from tension, I relaxed.

And having relaxed, I think I’m finally able to get back to work.  In Spanx.


*And I’ve got a story coming out in the next issue of The Vestal Review!

Dinner Challenge–Not Getting Murdered By Dean Cain

I was watching SVU (“Starved”) with my F-i-L and noticed an eerie parallel between the episode and my Arlene Dahl-inspired Dinner Challenge: 


Yep. That’s the face of a creep.

Dean Cain plays Dr. Jergens, a control freak who rapes women who don’t like what he orders for them.  Mariska goes undercover at a speed dating event to try and catch him, and he orders her a dirty martini, which sounds disgusting and she says no (NO MEANS NO, SUPERMAN!) so he tries to follow her and the Stabler and Ice-T spout some cliches and haul him away and I assume he goes to jail although I didn’t finish the episode.  Maybe he kills himself and Ice-T shakes his head.  Maybe he gets away and Mariska makes that open-mouth fish face she makes when she realizes that Dick Wolf’s name is about to come up and she hasn’t finished her case.

Moral of the story–if you don’t like what your date orders for you, just be careful he’s not Dean Cain.  Go ahead and mace him, just in case. 

Say Yes To the Dress Day 2–Cold Ankles

“The most becoming lengths for skirts falls within an inch and one-half an inch between the bottom of the kneecap and the top of the calf. The kneecap is not the most alluring part of the female anatomy and should be covered in most occasions” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man

The hardest thing so far has been not wearing pajama pants.  I have a romantic satin Victoria’s Secret nightshirt, but with no pajama pants, I can’t exactly lounge around downstairs with my Father-in-Law there.  I stayed warm between two fluffy blankets, but when I got up in the night, by the time I got back to bed, my knees were chilled to the touch.

Did I forget to mention I live in upstate NY?

DressDay2Yesterday was the 60’s, so today I decided that I was Veronica Corningstone and decided to wear my soft blue wrap sweaterdress.  With it I wore stained-glass patterned tights, shoes like Velma Kelly’s in Chicago and a beret.

A word about patterned tights–I’ve been rocking them for well over a decade.  Back before you could get them at Claires, and only goth chicks wore stripes.  My sister Shaun went to NYU, so when I went to visit, she would take me to the Sockman on St. Mark’s to stock up.  Polka dots, pinstripes, wild blotches of color, bright red fishnets.  For fancy occasions I had black silk thigh-highs with the seam up the back.  I wore these tights with a pleated skirt (that, for the record, still fits) and a sweater, because there’s this thing called the late 90’s, and it’s going to be around forever.

However, the problem with wearing nylons is that your ankles get cold.  No other part, just ankles. And cold ankles are a unique sort of misery. I wouldn’t recommend them.

“A girl puts a man on guard psychologically when she takes to wearing pants around the house. . . give a girl a pair of pants and she sprawls in a chair, crosses her legs like a man and becomes more aggressive in her speech and manner” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man

I’d hate to put my man on guard or be aggressive in my speech and manner* For the next seven days, I will only wear dresses/skirts.  No jeans.  No leggings-as-pants.  Not even pajama pants.  It’s dresses, skirts and nighties, no matter what the weather.

Today I’m wearing a black cotton empire-waist dress I bought at Urban Outfitters, which I normally don’t shop at because the clothes aren’t meant to fit right.  But this was on sale, and it was comfortable, and because I, an ex-goth chick, am automatically drawn to black dresses.

Over it I put a vintage blazer I used to wear a lot in Binghamton, back when was actually cool.  I was going through a phase where I wanted to look like I hung out in record stores, even though the only record store in Binghamton wasn’t exactly a hang-out place and was mostly populated by old crazy dudes in tie-dye.  Also, it was next to a drug front.

Dress Day1But if there HAD been a record store to hang out in, I would have fit right in.

I rediscovered this blazer in a “to repair” pile I’d set aside six years ago and spent a good part of Friday afternoon repairing the shredded lining, which immediately tore again when I moved my arms.  In keeping with my record-store flair, I topped it off with a loopy black scarf and a raspberry beret that I did, in fact, pick up at a second hand store.

Black tights, black flat knee-high boots and a sweater cuff I made.  With my Fantine haircut, I look very mod.

I’m mostly comfortable for the day.  My feet were kind of cold in my tights, and the empire waist rolled up to create some impressive underboob that, under my blazer, no one saw.  Whenever I moved, I heard a small tear in my shoulders.  But I did start making a deliberate effort to sit up straight and move with more delicate actions.


*Not really.  Aggressive is kind of how I do things.

Dinner Challenge #2: Boudreaux N Thibodeaux’s

“If only men back then knew how much easier things were women made their own decisions,” Mike wrote in an email as we went back and forth about the dinner challenge.  He labored over this for over a week, checking Yelp reviews, debating khakis vs. jeans and generally fretting himself into a mess.  “Can’t you give me a hint?” he demanded on more than one occasion.

Nope.  I want to be smart by Arlene’s standards, and she says that the man makes the decisions.


Gee, thanks

Mike is my oldest guy friend and one of my closest friends, even if he did kick off the evening by telling me my new haircut was “Very Paul Dano-esq.” (more on this tomorrow).  He makes me laugh, he knows what to say when I’m sad about my writing and tricks me into thinking he’s listening when I talk about Walton Goggins.

He didn’t tell me where we were going, and so I got sort of worked up myself.  I bought a new sweater, got a new haircut (more on this tomorrow) and wore my Betsey Johnson booties.  Mike said he was wearing jeans, so I wore my black skinny jeans.  Even in jeans, I wanted to look date-worthy.

Mike chose Boudreaux ‘n’ Thibodeaux’s, a Cajun place I’ve never eaten at before but had heard it was good.  He ordered hush puppies, sweet potato fries and jambalya for us to split, which erased the points he lost by making fun of my haircut.  He also complimented me on my new sweater, which is nice, because it’s brand new.

I’ve never had Cajun food, because I’m scared of the spicyness. The hush puppies were good, a little dry, and the sweet potato fries were great.  But the jambalya was amazing.  The spices blossomed on the tongue rather than burned it off.  It was the ultimate in comfort food, and I was glad I had leftovers to take home and have later.

It’s a small joint, mostly take-out, but there was another group having a series of very random conversations, including yelling out RECTANGLES! at one point.

Now Mike is one of my dearest friends, but he had a little trouble grasping the concept of this project.  He’s one of those people who is always right in his opinion, but doesn’t take his own advice to heart and couldn’t quite see why I didn’t take his compliment about my haircut as such.  “Paul Dano is awesome!” was his defense, which is fair, except that women generally don’t like to have dude haircuts.

In another instance, I mentioned that I was done with Kevin Smith movies, because Kevin Smith is a pop culture junkie idiot loudmouth, and he told me to “get over it” and see Clerks 2, the way you’d tell a child to “get over” not like asparagus.

This from a guy who won’t see movies with Julia Roberts in them–not even Closer with Clive Owen and Natalie Portman, both who he really likes–because Julia Roberts beat out another actress he liked for an Oscar.  Bear in mind she didn’t beat out his mother or his cousin, just another actress.

But if you tell him to “get over it,” well, it’s different, of course, because Mike is always right in everything he does.   But part of him being one of my best friends is loving him in spite of his faults because he loves me in spite of all mine.

So when I told him about some of the projects, he had advice for how to do it better or why I shouldn’t do it at all.  This project is a way for me to explore not only the world around me, but myself.  Do I get more done when I get up early?   Do people treat me better when I smile?  If I stop swearing, do I have more fun with words?  But for him, that impeded on my individuality, and he couldn’t understand why I would do any of this and not just say “screw you, I’m ordering my own dinner.”  Because I wouldn’t have ever tried Jambalya, that’s why!

It ended with me yelling WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SUPPORT ME AND NOT CRITICIZE EVERYTHING I DO?!?!, which, under normal circumstances, is a pretty bad way to end a date.  He just sort of stared, and then I apologized for yelling, and the evening went on as usual.

As for a date, well, Arlene would probably not approve of me yelling.  But I had a good time, and I hope Mike did too.  I’m two for two on great food.  Nice job Mike.  Rectangles.

Not a Douche

“Add fragrance, packaged specifically for this purpose, to your douche.  Another good idea is to add a teaspoon of white kitchen vinegar to the douche twice a week”  Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.

There are a lot of bad beauty tips out there that can actually hurt you, which is not pretty.  This is one of them. 

I know two things about douching–1) “Douche” is French for soap, which always gets a giggle in French class and 2) When the word “bag” is attached, it becomes one of my favorite insults.

That’s about it as far as my knowledge of douching goes.   So before I tried this one out, I consulted Planned Parenthood, because as dedicated as I am to this project, I don’t have health insurance, so if I’m going to put vinegar near my personal lady parts, I want to make sure it’s not going to burn my uterus out.

“No,” was LNP Sherry’s answer the minute I said “douche” but before “vinegar” came into play.  “Not ever.”

.Apparently, douching washes away all the good bacteria that keeps everything . “The vagina is a self-cleaning oven,” she explained.  Also, I can’t imagine how that would smell good. So I took her advice and left the vinegar in the kitchen.  


How To Watch TV With a Man

“Draw out his ideas to which you can gracefully add your footnotes from time to time.” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man

Bill, my father-in-law, is now one of the main men in my life.  Namely because he owns the house we’re staying in for the next six months.  So I decided to try this one out on him.


I will watch anything, literally anything, Walton Goggins is in.

Bill watches a lot of TV.  That’s not unusual for a 60 year old bachelor in the middle of an upstate New York winter (last year for Christmas, we made him a wool snuggie, which he boasts is one of his favorite gifts ever).  And the one thing he likes more than watching TV is talking about TV.  He would often regale us with something he heard on the news or a funny bit he saw on a sitcom or a particularly gruesome episode of Criminal Minds, which is normally too horrifying for me, even the episode with Walton Goggins.

Thursday night we watched  two episodes of Mystery at the Museum, and I asked him open-ended questions about other episodes, gracefully adding some notes about my own experiences with history (like the time Matthew and I visited the site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre) when the opportunity present itself (they were showing a barber chair that Albert Anastasia of Murder, Inc was killed in).  But mostly I let him fill me in, because the man is an absolute history buff.

Last night he gave me the choice between Cold Case and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.  I am a huge SVU fan and have been since college (even though it has been terrible the last four seasons, and I think they should have replaced Chris Meloni with Michael Chiklis) but I remembered my quest and gently said, “Whichever one you like best.”  His logic was that Cold Case is only on one a week, so we watched that.

It was kind of nice.  Since we’re living in his house, I want him to feel like we’re not just taking over his life, and I think letting him dictate what he wanted to watch was a good way to do that.  Plus, I had never seen Mysteries of the Museum or Cold Case, and both were pretty awesome.