Category Archives: men

a proper way to flirt.

well well well.  I had written eariler about odd ways of being approached in daily life, but I had an experience a couple of weeks ago that left me feeling positive and complimented, and not violated.

T-storm and I have a BJ’s membership (laugh if you will), which is awesome if you want to buy sparkling water, Fage yogurt doubles and quinoa in bulk at a decent price.  Costco is a better company, yes, but at least we don’t have a Sam’s Club membership.  and I don’t even know where the nearest Costco is.

I was buying bottlewater in bulk for an event, and I headed to the register to get rung up.  maybe the cashier did actually check me out at the same time, but I didn’t feel like I was being objectified.  we had a conversation during the transaction, and he was particularly friendly.  of course, at big discount stores, they check your receipts as you exit, and I noticed on my receipt that I’d only been charged for three giant packs of water, when I’d gotten six.  I didn’t want to get my butt kicked by the exit police at BJ’s.  (that would be a pretty crummy fall from grace story if there ever was one – loss of career due to shoplifting bottled water at a membership discount store.  glory be.)

so I went back to remedy the situation.  and the cashier felt a little embarassed at his mistake.  but he also said to me, “Here I was, thinking you were coming back to get my number.”

I responded, with a grin, “No, I’m married.”  I nodded politely, we completed the transaction, and smiled away.   he said nothing more on the subject, but wished me a good way after he charged me for the other water.

I wasn’t objectified, and he had simply made a flirtatious, yet polite comment.  I certainly got the message that he’d like me to give him my number, but it wasn’t anything creepy or asshole type.  certainly not someone chasing me down in a parking lot at Panera shouting “EXCUSE ME!”

so for any Men’s Rights goons who think that feminism excludes the opportunity for men to be complimentary and flirtatious, please take this as an example of flirting without being a sexist prick.

it is possible!

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annoying blonde tropes, part II: Fred Willard film festival

So back to our Netflix queue, and annoying romantic comedies.  We’ve watched two so far this week, one that I had wanted to get off the queue for some time, and then one that just struck my fancy for the moment.

Both of these films had Fred Willard in a bit part.  Which I guess is not uncommon.  He might have the second longest list of IMDB credits, immediately after the cast list for Law & Order.  (I shit you not.)

We’ll get to the third film in just a moment.

Let’s discuss the first film.   Ira & Abby: a film about a guy who wishes he were half as funny as Woody Allen and this blonde blythe spirit who he marries within a week of meeting.

Yes, I sang along to the first Rilo Kiley song that appeared with opening credit sequence, but I got tired of the all-Jenny Lewis soundtrack less than a quarter of the way through the movie.  I would have had a better time just listening to More Adventurous while reading wikipedia articles.   The same philosophy that inspired Kubrick to repeatedly feature the work of the brothers Strauss in 2001 does not work with Ms. Lewis.  Sorry.

Anyway.  In short, the film is an “irreverent look at marriage”.  And it’s irreverent indeed.  It basically states that marriage has no point, and is not something that lasts and is not worth pursuing.

What an inventive concept.  No idea how they came up with this one.

But the really really annoying part of the film is that it introduces another Blonde Romantic Trope, even worse than the Melanie Griffith/Meg Ryan/Kirsten Dunst MPDG: Jennifer Westfeldt wrote herself as the Manic Pixie Dream Wife.  Ugh.

Her character insists that she (Abby) and her anxiety-ridden Jewish future husband (Ira, obvs) get married upon one day of meeting: he is “looking for a change”, or so he tells his therapist, and she offers this wonderful new path in life.  (Male protagonist resists change: main qualification for the female lead being an MPDG.)   One of her oh so polite requests upon being married is that she and her slightly schlubby husband have sex, every single day.  A streak they go to great lengths to maintain.  (Forcing yourself to be intimate when you’re not really feeling it is not exactly the key to a healthy relationship.  But this movie isn’t really focused on healthy relationships – it’s got that indie flick moral core of “do whatever you feel.”  No movie really gets that across better than Harold & Maude, and lots of films just keep trying, working in the same aesthetic, and fail miserably.  It starts to make me cranky.)

Abby is friends with everyone she comes across, and has this wonderful, loving family  – her parents are Fred Willard and Frances Conroy, both of whom I usually love.  She brings a feminine wonder to Ira’s apartment, which she moves into.  Eventually the couple divorces twice, and there is a whole lot of inter-familial melee (the best part of the film is the interwoven character montage of everyone at therapy; and the “let’s get in a circle invervention” scene further on ruins the effect).

The best performance in the film is from Judith Light, of Who’s the Boss fame, as an uptight New York psycho-analyst, who is strong and knows what she wants through the whole film.  Sorry, but I’d rather be her than Abby, who argues with husband Ira about having no ambition, and says, “What if I just wanted to be your wife?”  How post-feminist twee.  Gag me.

By the end of the film, she’s no longer his wife, but they’re still together, and everyone’s okay with that.  And she eats McDonald’s everyday and is still thin.  OF COURSE.  Because that’s a medically sound probability.

But that’s why she’s such a Dream Wife: she throws caution to the wind, she eats like crap and doesn’t gain weight, she cares about the sex, and the loyalty, and not the whole marriage business.  And she’s friends with her exes but faithful to Ira, who wasn’t even given much of a fair shake in a hasty end to the movie.

Doesn’t every guy want a ragingly hormonal lady-friend who wants to be his partner for as long as they last, and doesn’t ever bother him about the wife thing?  And refuses to go to therapy (because therapy never helps anyone, of course)?  Women, we’ve got to cool down about the whole ambition and marriage thing.  Obvs.  Or not.

The movie had its charming moments, but it was also annoying as all get out.  Yeah, yeah, I get it.  It’s just a movie, she’s just a character, everything is fine, nothing is ruined, whatever.  There is still the possibility that pop culture characters are more than just characters but whatever.

I know that indie film producers and screenwriters and Manic Pixie Dream Girls everywhere out there want to make us think that being happy is all there is to life, but it’s so much more complicated than that.  Referring back to annoying blonde tropes, part I, I will say that Ira & Abby are just as screwed as Joel & Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Maybe Ira and Abby are just more okay with being obnoxious about it.   Either way, I really disliked even the grown-up version of the MPDG.

Next.

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furthermore! on how not to be a douche.

One of the things I love deeply about living in Wilton Manors is that I never, ever, ever get harassed.  Go deeper into straight-ville Bro-town Fort Lauderdale, and it’s all over the place.  I was outside a bar called The Poorhouse (which has just somehow gotten into serving five star bar food…so many contradictions) this summer and some dude grabbed my ass in a walk-by.  I shouted out as severe an obscenity as I could think of as loudly as I could down the street, but he probably still snickered as he walked away.  Fucking asshole.

I wrote a few months ago about an odd fellow whose pick-up line in a Panera parking lot while I was on my lunch was “EXCUSE ME!”  (Incidentally the same line I heard some dude yell in the Publix deli aisle as he was about to start a grocery store brawl – I was just trying to pick up fried chicken.)

But not only do I avoid harassment here, it seems, so does everyone else.  All of the bars here make their intentions clear, whether they be Bear Bars or places with names like Ramrod, whatevs.  But whatever happens indoors, it doesn’t lead out into the street.

One of the greatest mythologies that homophobes have, I think, is the idea that if they encounter someone who is gay, they’re going to get hit on and made uncomfortable.  Having lived here, in the US city with the 2nd highest number of homosexuals per capita behind San Fransisco, for a year and a half, neither my husband or I have ever experienced anything remotely akin to this.  I get hit on in creepy ways by straight men in lots of places, but neither of us is ever bothered here.  I see women get hit on in compromising, uncomfortable ways all the time, but I don’t see anyone hitting on anyone uncomfortably out here.

Maybe it’s because the gay community knows what it’s like to be maligned, even bullied.  But the streets of my small city are some of the safest places to walk at most times of either day or night, it seems.  And not just in conventional ways.

I was reading this article a few days ago, and what I love the most about it is that the author brings up ways in which dudes can gather females’ attention without being creepy, stalk-y, and harass-y.  One of the more important ones being of course, don’t touch her.  (Re: earlier statement – just because my ass is big, whether I’m wearing something short & tight or not, does not mean it’s communal property.  I have plenty of friends who I will freely permit to smack away.  But I don’t know you from pig shit, so kindly back the fuck away.)

I have a couple more to add:

1. Smile.  A smile from across the room is the simplest, most effective form of opening up communication.  It’s an invitation to initiate conversation.  And no, not in the Usher inspired “noticin’ you, noticin’ me” sort of manner.

2. Unless you meet at a fetish club/orgy party, sex talk can wait.  At a coffee shop?  Don’t make bad jokes about foam.  At a bookstore?  Leave out the “between the pages” talk.  You get the drift.  Don’t be a Casanova.  Just be a person.

3. Compliment a conscientious detail of his/her style you like.  “You have really cool glasses,” is obviously kind of a targeted line, but it works.  Compliment something that you can tell the target of your affection picked out themselves.  And yes, dudes, you can compliment a girl’s clothing choice without sounding gay, if you are needlessly worried about that.  A dude I dated forever ago who is now one of my all-time ever best friends first caught my attention when he complimented my black and grey plaid corderoy pants.

4. Don’t be artificially nice, just be nice.  I would advise from doing anything you feel that you can’t really keep up throughout the course of well, anything.  Honesty is a good point to start from.  Women, men, everyone is starving to meet people who are kind and who are also upfront.

5. Be thoughtful.  Don’t reuse “techniques” or old lines.  Think of something creative, but not too eager.  And if someone wants to be left alone, as previously mentioned, take a hint.  Sometimes women (or men or whoever) just want to be left alone.  Sometimes people doing things individually are not starving for company.  Sometimes they are eating on the way home from work while their husbands are in grad classes.

Just be cool.  And maybe it’ll make the world at least a slightly more tolerable place.

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like your talisman

Advice to straight men: don’t do a woman a favor and then expect that you are owed a flirtation in return.

I think that’s what just happened to me in the grocery store.

Two lessons for the dude behind me here: 1) never underestimate a somewhat slight, pale girl in glasses buying a 12-pack of beer on a Monday evening.

2) kindness is not necessarily flirting. Neither is smiling. I know it seems bizarro, but some people are actually just nice. Some people believe in the niceness of others.

And just because a woman is taken doesn’t mean she stays at home all the time and waits for her husband to go out to buy groceries with her. Oh, for heaven’s sake! Maybe I should just go to the store and buy beer myself! I tire of waiting politely at the dining room table, apron on, for my Knight in Shining Armor to come riding home, briefcase in hand.

As if.*

I am grateful though, for some of our society’s cultural norms.

BEWARE: if you start yelling at a cute girl in a parking lot, you will have to face the WRATH OF THE SAPPHIRE!

I was leaving my summer job this summer (natch) and grabbed lunch at Panera in some strip mall.  Heading outside, I heard some guy yelling “EXCUSE ME!”  The last time I’d heard that sort of cadence of someone yelling as such, I was in another Publix and saw a cart go flying down the deli aisle.  Some dude was about to start some shit with another dude in the cold cuts line.  Eeek!

So the “EXCUSE ME” followed as I walked, and I don’t start shit with anyone (ever, not even last week when I got rear-ended – I hugged the dude as he blubbered apologies) so I kept walking.  He couldn’t possibly be yelling at me.  And then everyone else cleared out, and I still heard “EXCUSE ME!”

It had to be directed at me.  Damnit.

So I turned around, luckily leading with my left side, and then heard, “Oh, I’m sorry, I was going to call for you, but I see you gotta ring.”

You’re damn right I do, fella.  And even if I didn’t, what makes you think that shouting at me in a strip mall parking lot when I’m walking as though I have somewhere to be is going to stop me in my tracks?

I laughed it off and told T-storm later.  He thought it was pretty funny, and said about the ring, “So it’s like your talisman.”  Yes.  It totally is.

But seriously.  I’m not telling guys that they shouldn’t pursue women where they please.  Or maybe I am.  If you’re sitting next to her in a bar and you quietly say hello, then okay.   But if she’s got her arms full of stuff and is swinging her keys in the air, then leave the lady alone – she has to go back to work, or buy some cardstock or do something else.  Or check her stock portfolio.  Or go run a 10k.  Maybe when I was 16 and had no effing clue what I was doing, public displays of being hit on were more appealing.

Now I’m old and (almost) married and I just want to go about my day.  Or I want to buy oh-so-craved milk and cookies at the gas station without the cashier asking me if I’ve got a sweetie. (That happened this summer, too, when T-storm was outside pumping gas.)

This is part of why I love living in a gay neighborhood.  I have taken to wearing way more short shorts and way fewer bras since moving here, mostly because no one gives two shits what I wear.  I don’t do it to be skanky, I do it because that’s what’s lying on the floor and that’s what I have been sitting around my apartment in.  I’m not going to put on a burqua to change the laundry out, or take out the recycling.  My neighbors are sweet as pie to me.  That whole fear of being objectified is so not one little tiny bit an issue in Wilton Manors, and that thrills me to my core.

Let’s settle it – I’m not telling men how to hit on women.  Where to hit on women.  Certain things cross the line, yesBig time.  And barista boy, I guess you’ll never know if the cutie getting the Rooibos latte is single unless you make an inquiry.

But how well does that really work?  I mean, really?  I suppose some women find it endearing, but most women would just rather be left alone while ordering tea.

Opening doors, kind.  Okay.  Minor compliments, i.e. “you look very pretty,” okay (although more likely to come from my neighbors).  Although I am always cordial, almost to a fault, I don’t owe anyone anything for their kindness.

Insisting that I put down my beer ahead of your jug o’ wine in the express lane, and then looking eagerly to initiate more conversation.  You know, that hungry, “I did this for you, now what are you gonna do for me?” look.

Creepy.

 

 

*I read way too much Jezebel anyway, and it’s been littered with glorious 90s references lately.  As has everything else I’ve encountered.  Thank you for the indulgence.

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