Once upon a time, only a generation or so ago, the most popular names for girls were Mary, Susan, and Linda. Top boys names included David, John, and James. Nowadays, the variety in baby naming is mind-boggling. Of course, the infamous celebrity baby names stand out as a prime example of the shift in naming trends from subdued to hyper unique - Apple, Blue Ivy, Zuma, Pilot Inspektor, and Blanket - but the sheer lack of consistency in naming and, of course, uniformity of spelling is really awe-inspiring. Parents (and I will likely be one of these) seem to think that the name they bestow upon their child indicates their (the parents’, I mean) creativity, intelligence, and socioeconomic status and guarantees certain life outcomes for said child - pretty, skinny, talented, successful, driven, high-achieving, smart. As such, names just keep getting more and more “inventive” (“wacky” may be a better descriptor).
Yet we all know that. We also know that names like Ashley, Courtney, Tammy, and Kimberly may very well be spelled 14 different ways from those that I just laid out. And let’s not even get started on truly ethnic names (particularly those inexplicably given to WASP children). These days, due to creative naming trends, there can’t be any comfort in sending a letter or email without being sure of the spelling of the recipient’s name. Thankfully, if you already have an email from the person with the complicated name, the spelling issue is easily resolved with a little Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V action. Even if he or she hasn’t yet e-mailed you, business cards, Facebook, LinkedIn, or simply knowing his or her email address can often resolve the issue. So how can people just go about misspelling others’ names willy nilly?
It’s usually the hold-outs with the “average” names that are the biggest offenders. No one ever misspells their names, so either they don’t think to take a closer look at anyone else’s, or they just feel some weird sense of superiority over having an “easy” name and, thus, don’t feel the need to go out of their way to accommodate those of us with “hard” names. First time offenders - you guys are fine. We all make mistakes. But if you don’t learn from them, well then you’re an asshole. If I regularly correspond with you, if you’ve spelled my name right 60% of the time, if we’re sorority sisters, if we work together (particularly in the same group), if we’ve made out on more than one occasion, if you are responding to an email I’ve just sent that has my name in the “From:” field and at the bottom of my note - you have no excuse to misspell my name.
But what does one do with these offenders? In Sloane Crosby’s book, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, she suggests that, in response to others regularly excluding the “e” from the end of her first name, she should drop the final letter from the first names of all offenders. But that seems awfully passive aggressive, especially if these “offenders” are clients or co-workers. Do you just tell the other person directly? Or would that make them feel uncomfortable and/or make you come across as being anal and uppity? Should you try to create some humorous story about someone else’s name being misspelled and then casually mention that people do that to you all the time?
Frankly, why am I even pondering these various ideas? Why do I have any anxiety over this issue? I have a legal name, given to me by my parents and on record with the Social Security Administration, and I should feel fully entitled to ensure that others use it properly. When job applicants misspell a name, whether it be that of the company they are applying to work for or the person with whom they met with / are meeting with, they automatically get tossed out - so why should anyone get a pass for not caring or paying enough attention to the spelling of another’s name?
Yes, the crazy names popular in our society today are a bit absurd, but it looks like this trend is here to stay. We don’t live in the 1960s, and we’re going to actually have to care about getting others’ names right. So, one of these days, I’m just going to have to say to a couple of you - “Hey, I just wanted to let you know that it’s actually spelled with an -ar, not an -or.”
In the fifth grade, my class of roughly eighteen students sat down with our school’s guidance counselor for what I believe was a download on the death of someone in the school community. Frankly, I can’t quite recall what the intended topic that day was because it ultimately turned into an opportunity for the other seventeen students (barring a few who were truly close to me) to go around the room, one-by-one, and say why they hated me. One girl said she hated me (hated!) because I consistently got the top grades on the weekly spelling tests and was therefore the one who got to, every other week, read out the test words instead of actually taking the test – an “honor” she had always strived for. One boy said he hated me because I had too many shoes (though this could certainly be said about me today, at that time, I owned no more than ten pairs of shoes). I remember that hour of my life vividly. Where I was sitting in the room. The rage on that girl’s face as she described the spelling test issue. That situation will never leave my memory. Probably because it represented a poignant turning point in my life. From that point onward, my interactions with my peers never seemed good or healthy again. I never really recovered from that one day in fifth grade – and it’s not because I was so upset that someone I’ll never see again hated my shoes. Rather, it’s because ever since that one day in fifth grade, those overarching feelings of hatred toward me have only snowballed. I’ve had so many days like that day in fifth grade that I no longer even know how to meet new people or make friends, at least not without the aid of alcohol. I’m so absolutely terrified of the hatred people seem to always develop toward me and the judgement and ridicule that I’m often subjected to that I’ve more or less perfected the art of shutting myself down around people. Although, and I’ll address this later, that particular approach/defense mechanism is just as harmful; it simply produces a different kind of negative rhetoric.
Until the fifth grade, I was an incredibly happy-go-lucky, extroverted child. I loved to meet new people, spent all of my time with at least one other person my age, and loved to put on shows for anyone and everyone – whether they were piano performances or plays with my best friend and her brother attended only by our drunken parents. I don’t think anything dramatic changed in me between first and fifth grade, at least with respect to the way in which I interacted with my friends and peers, but when people hit fifth grade and that penchant for bullying and social posturing began to emerge, I suddenly found myself the target for most people’s negative attention. Over the years, the way this bullying affected my personality, namely making me aloof and distant and sometimes even prickly, only served to broaden my target. By the end of college, I think most people who knew me had found something to hate about me, had found something about me that allowed them to heap all of their aggression and negativity on me.
Fifth grade was hard. After that group meeting with the school counselor, I felt increasingly ostracized by my classmates, as if the criticisms I received put such a powerful dark mark on me that even my former friends and supporters became wary of me. At one point, my best friend’s mother even told my mom that their family wished I’d move or change schools. And they got their wish. Before I could see how this “uprising” against me would have played out as we got older and my classmates grew snarkier and developed a better ability to cut with their words, my parents’ marriage ended and I was uprooted to a new city.
I knew no one. I was the black sheep with the divorced parents and the gay father. Compared to my classmates at my new school, I was poor. And to top it all off, I was going through an incredibly awkward phase, physically – I had a terrible haircut, hadn’t yet learned how to use makeup, I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs, and I had an abundance of unflattering clothing and training bras. It’s hard enough being the new kid, but coming to the acute realization that you’re nothing like your peers and don’t fit in at all is daunting. Immediately, I found myself being bullied by my female classmates; they were harsher than the boys, though the guys had their moments too. Quickly, I learned to keep my head down and I tried to do my work and not be noticed; nonetheless, people found every possible way to taunt and humiliate me. At one point, a whole pack of girls went so far as to confront me on the playground and start screaming at me about how I should go back to where I came from or die (this being the byproduct of one girl trying to pass a note to her friend in class and it being intercepted by a teacher as it went by where I was sitting).
My diary entries from that time comment on the bullying, but in a way that now reflects my standard mode of dealing with my emotions – as if I’m discussing toasting bread. I wrote that girls were calling me duck face and chicken lips (what?), that they suggested I was a lesbian, that they compared me to a stupid dog peeing on the floor (again, what?), and that they were actively trying to convince the few girls who did try to befriend me to, instead, ostracize me. I began to retreat into a shell that had started to develop after that group counseling session in fifth grade. And from that point onward, the shell just got tougher and tougher. By the time I entered college, it was a full suit of armor - but, of course, covered in floral filigree - if you will - such as to make it seem more natural from an outsider’s perspective.
After the eighth grade, I switched schools – partially to get a better academic experience and partially to have a fresh start away from the senseless bullying I experienced at my middle school. But nothing really changed once I got there. Again, I was the new kid – one of only a few (people don’t tend to move around too much in the private school world) – and I was still pretty awkward looking. Things were improving looks wise, but I had horribly overtweezed eyebrows, braces, and cheap clothing (though my mom worked really hard to help out with the latter so that I would fit in more). Girls didn’t embrace me at my new school, but they weren’t outright cruel either. Instead, it was the boys who made me their punching bag. That’s the age when guys finally start to pay attention to their female classmates - and that either means “falling in love” with them or heaping insults on them. I fell into the latter category of girls given my appearance, socioeconomic status, and somewhat shy/awkward behavior that had developed as a result of my middle school bullying. And because I was new, I was even more of a target.
I had boys call me the jolly green giant for wearing a pair of olive green khakis – and not just on that one day. I had boys start rumors that I wore a wig. I was ridiculed for having big teeth, a crooked nose, and a mustache. Boys made fun of the way I talked and my laugh. I was terrified to speak in class. I felt uncomfortable in pretty much every setting – and I mean even those in which I was around only people who were my “friends.” I had been bullied so much by my junior year that I willingly cut myself off from everyone but three people. I didn’t feel like I could trust anyone. I felt like everyone hated me and thought I was disgusting. Even my best friend turned on me during our senior year for the “cool crowd” – or what she thought was the cool crowd back then.
Finally, it came time for college. I was thrilled that I’d finally be in a setting where everyone was new. I wouldn’t be the odd one out. In addition, I spent the summer before my freshman year trying to improve my appearance and wardrobe so that I’d have fewer reasons for people to ridicule me. Nonetheless, my freshman year didn’t end up going so well. A lot of it was my fault. Having essentially never drank before going to college, I did plenty of stupid things during my first term – embarrassing, offensive, idiotic – under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol. Furthermore, inside, I was deeply afraid of not being liked and of being made fun of. This combination of actual, self-inflicted embarrassing moments with my awkwardness generated by the all-consuming fear and paranoia I felt (and often still feel) inside gave people plenty of reasons to talk badly about me. I fully understand why the guys and girls who I befriended in those first few months of college aren’t on my radar anymore. But when I was initiated into my sorority during the second term of my freshman year, I thought things would change. For the first time, I’d have a group of girls ready-made to be friends with. I’d have a whole host of people to wear matching outfits with and eat meals with and go to parties with and do all the things I’d always wanted to do with a group of girl friends since probably the eighth grade. That, unfortunately, did not happen.
In a pledge class of 35 and a sorority of around 120, girls are bound to dislike each other. And it’s in the female nature to be somewhat backstabby and gossipy, even about one’s closest friends/future bridesmaids. However, I somehow wound up in a category of my own wherein I was pretty much universally hated. For a while, I thought that perhaps this sense I had that everyone hated me was a little dramatic. But now, I think I was fairly spot-on. No one wanted to live with me – a point which one of my junior year roommates made painfully clear as she screamed this at me in front of everyone else in the house (explaining that their decision to let me live in the house was “charity”). No one wanted to invite me places, although they often did to be polite. Everyone looked at me like I had five heads when I walked in a room or spoke. My small mistakes became earth shattering errors (if I didn’t clean a bowl after breakfast because I was late for class, well then I might as well have killed a puppy). I was never elected to a sorority position and was never (in 3.5 years) given any of the little gifts they passed around in chapter (like the support bra, which is meant for sisters going through tough times, even though I was literally breaking and drowning by the end of college). Girls said they disliked me because I was “anorexic” (I wasn’t, but even if I was, isn’t that a reason to try and help me rather than hate on me?). There was even one day where several girls confronted me about how much they disliked me for having expensive things and “flaunting them,” i.e. daring to carry the designer handbag that I was so excited to have received as a gift from my mother – this has always struck me as being funny, both because in middle and high school people mocked me for being poor and having “cheap clothing,” and also because the girls who confronted me also had many nice things, were debutantes, travelled the world, etc.
I felt like no matter what I did, I couldn’t win. Either I went out with these girls and was ignored or had my presence scoffed at, or I stayed home to avoid the awkwardness and then had the same girls talking behind my back (and sometimes to my face) about how boring and unsisterly I was and how I didn’t care to be a part of the group. Either I tried to hang out with and talk to people and I was obviously unwanted, or I didn’t talk and kept to myself and people said I was haughty and thought I was too good for everyone. And that last criticism was probably the most pervasive and damning one of all. People thought I was snobby and too cool for school, and they successfully propagated those labels far and wide such that it became my overarching image, even in the minds of people who never interacted with me. Some people cited my “bitchy face” as support for these rumors of my snobbishness. Sorry that my face looks bitchy. It’s just my face. I even heard of guys saying they wanted to “hate fuck” me - guys who had never even spoken to me and, thus, could not have truly hated me.
Funny thing is, I’ve never once felt awesome or superior, certainly not enough to drive haughtiness. Since fifth grade, I’ve perpetually felt like the outcast and the ugly duckling. Stupid and awkward and unwanted. Some people could look at a picture of me today and say, “Shut up, you’re pretty,” or see my resume and say, “Shut up, you have lots of great things going for you.” To which I’d say – I look in the mirror and I still see the girl that everyone ridiculed in middle school, the girl that got picked on in high school, the girl who never fit in or found her “home” in college. So many times I’ve wanted to run away from it all. Not to be dramatic, but legitimately because of this sense that things would never improve, that no one in my world would ever really like me, and that I would never be anyone’s best friend. And the latter is likely true because, at this point, I’m terrified to get remotely close enough to anyone to ever have a best friend. Because I have never understood the seemingly universal hatred people have for me – even before I was the person I am now, back when the hatred was over spelling tests and shoes – I don’t know how to make things better.
It never mattered how hard I tried to be liked or how hard I tried to be ignored. People always had issues with me, no matter what I did or what the nature of our interactions were. But I’m really not sure what I did to provoke this. I never made out with a friend’s boyfriend or gave someone the silent treatment for a year or cussed a “friend” out in front of the entire sorority. I’m not perfect and I’ve certainly been rude and mean and thoughtless to people at times. But I really don’t think I’ve ever done anything egregious to anyone. And yet I think the girls who’ve spent the most time with me and would appear to outsiders to be my friends would happily never speak to me again.
There were times in college when I thought things were improving. But, really, they were just glimpses of sunlight peeking through the clouds. Although the members of my “friend group” seemed to be united in hatred toward me, something strange would happen when issues arose between them. Suddenly, I’d have many more close friends. They would all come to me to talk and hang out with, as if they suddenly felt this kinship with me and understood what I was going through pretty much every day. But when their problems were resolved, it was back to hatred, dislike, and/or disregard. In other situations, girls would have moments of legitimate shock as words like these came out of their mouths: “Wow, you’re actually a really good friend,” or “Gosh, you were the only one who actually cared enough to email me while I was abroad.” Things like that. And, yet, as soon as those shocked expressions faded and the words had left their lips, it was as if it never happened. The labels people had applied to me and this myth that had been created about what kind of person I was were so strong that even when people would have moments when they realized I’m not actually awful, those realizations weren’t strong enough to change my image.
One day in college, sitting in the family room of my junior year house, one of my closest friends said, “You know, there’s always a Karen in every friend group.” At that moment, everyone looked at me – either overtly with heads spinning or awkwardly out of the corners of their eyes. I had never heard that expression. She then explained that Karen is “that friend” that people keep around but no one actually likes (this is from a Dane Cook stand–up routine). That was devastating. So many times since that day, this mantra of “I’m Karen” has played on loop in my mind when I’ve found myself in social settings. It never fully fades. And it keeps me in this place where I’m afraid to make new friends for fear of being their “Karen.”
I just wish I understood how I became Karen for so many people.
All my life, I have been an unabashed carnivore. Growing up in the Deep South, and specifically spending most of my young adult life in New Orleans, food has been as much a means for survival as it has been a tool for understanding my culture, bonding with others, and generally “having fun.” When I travel, I base my itinerary around restaurant reservations and local delicacies rather than shopping, visiting museums, or seeing “the sights.” As such, the idea of not eating meat – a term that I use to encompass beef, pork, poultry, fish, etcetera – has always been untenable. How would I interact with family and friends? From what would I derive pleasure? How would I truly understand and embrace a particular community or culture without allowing myself to eat anything and everything? Though I was always made to eat my vegetables as a child and love certain vegetables and vegetable-based dishes – broccoli au gratin, spaghetti squash, Brussels sprouts, creamy lima beans, and so forth – my favorite dishes all contain meat. Some of those favorites are highly personal and deeply linked to happy family memories – my grandma’s gumbo, my dad’s beef daube, my mom’s chicken and lima bean stew. Others are important to the culture in which I was raised – red beans and rice with sausage, shrimp creole, crawfish étouffée, spicy Natchitoches meat pies. And still others have been a part of my romantic relationship – the meatballs with yogurt sauce that my boyfriend is so proud of, his amazing experimental scallops dish, our late-night snack of steak and eggs. Because of all of this, taking meat out of my diet has always seemed like it would be a major obstacle to my most important human relationships and to my very identity. When friends, relatives, and co-workers have gone down the vegetarian path, I’ve always scoffed at them. You don’t actually like frozen veggie burgers and rice with beans. You can’t actually be satisfied by a mixed veggie plate or a salad. Even after watching Food, Inc., reading Fast Food Nation and The End of Food, and hearing my friends’ passionate arguments about forsaking flesh, nothing moved me. That is, until very recently.
I’ve never had a problem with vegetarian or vegan foods. Although I’ve never been compelled to go out of my way for them or adopt them 100%, I’ve had plenty of vegan and vegetarian dishes that I quite enjoy. Furthermore, I regularly eat meals that don’t contain meat without making a concerted effort to avoid it. In fact, I was recently introduced to a restaurant in Manhattan called Terri that’s all vegan, and in a quest for a healthy meal one Saturday after a trip to the gym, I popped in for a smoothie. I ended up ordering one of its vegan sandwiches, and it was actually delicious. In the past two months, I’ve returned four or so times. I’ve waxed poetic about it on Yelp. I’ve recommended it to my friends. During one of my visits, I noticed a few paperback books for sale on a shelf to the left of the register. One was The China Study, which I had zero interest in. A few health zealots (including one close friend) have told me about it in the past year, and what I’ve heard has not struck a chord with me. What one scientist says doesn’t really bother me, and effects on my cholesterol and “health,” generally, as a result of eating meat are not a concern, as I appear to be healthy (at the moment). However, the book displayed next to it caught my eye. Titled Eating Animals, it’s written by Jonathan Safran Foer, who I know to be a pretty good, contemporary novelist – maybe Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close wasn’t so critically acclaimed, but his other works have gotten fairly high praise. I read the back of the book and was intrigued – it represents his first foray into nonfiction, but is written from a novelist’s perspective. Nonetheless, I walked out with just a smoothie that day. A few weeks ago, however, while casually browsing a bookstore in Chelsea, I remembered Eating Animals. I asked the gentleman working the register if they had a copy, and since they did, I decided to purchase it. I wasn’t expecting much. Maybe a few salient points to turn the wheels in my brain, but nothing earth shattering – like I said, other books with a similar, anti-meat, anti-factory farming angle didn’t move me tremendously.
I went home and started reading that day. What immediately captured my attention was how much more readable and relatable this book is as compared to The End of Food, which had presented such a deluge of statistics and facts that I found it hard to digest and, thus, really care. Foer draws upon his own experience debating between a lifestyle as carnivore or omnivore to frame his research into the factory farming industry. He also touches on fishing/shrimping practices, but his focus is certainly on land animals (a category in which I include poultry, as they - by and large - cannot fly nowadays). The way he combined hard facts with anecdotal evidence, testimonies from insiders on both sides of the argument, and his own moral and practical struggles made it impossible to put down. He brought up facts that I had read and seen in documentaries, but the presentation was so much more striking.
Not only did it move me on an emotional level, but it also got me thinking actively about my eating choices and the impact that they have on the environment, economy, human health, and general way of life in the U.S. Sure, his opening bit comparing eating certain animals to eating other animals - cows versus dogs - and comparing animals more broadly to humans - what’s the real difference? - seemed like the same old silly schtick that people, including myself, tend to chalk up to sensationalism. However, once he really got going - started layering facts over top of interviews, explorations, personal memories, and so forth - I was completely engrossed. I can’t do the 267 pages of text justice in a blog post, but I’ll try to recap some of the more poignant facts and comments from the book here (everything below is a direct quote from the book unless bracketed). I’ve more or less ignored all of the moving discussions regarding animal cruelty because, though I find those points critical to my own stance on eating animals, they can be more subjective, whereas I’ve tried to focus on important objective points. Still though, everyone should read the book themselves to draw their own conclusions, find the parts that speak to them, and understand the message holistically.
Common Farming Exemptions make legal any method of raising farmed animals so long as it is commonly practiced within the industry. In other words, farmers - corporations is the right word - have the power to define cruelty. If the industry adopts a practice - hacking off unwanted appendages with no painkillers, for example… - it automatically becomes legal.
To be considered free-range, chickens raised for meat must have “access to outdoors,” which, if you take those words literally, means nothing. (Imagine a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a five-by-five dirt patch…) The USDA doesn’t even have a definition of free-range for laying hens and instead relies on producer testimonials to support the accuracy of these claims.
My note: Based on the wealth of shocking undercover footage we’ve seen from factory farms where conditions differ vastly and in the most horrific ways from factory reports and even “independent auditor” reports, I would think that this guarantees us nothing.
According to the USDA, “fresh” poultry has never had an internal temperature below 26 degrees or above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh chicken can be frozen…and there is no time component to food freshness. Pathogen-infested, feces-splattered chicken can technically be fresh, cage-free, and free-range, and sold in the supermarket legally (the shit does not need to be rinsed off first).
My note: Further below is an explanation as to how “pathogen-infested, feces-splattered chicken” could possibly be sold legally.
At a slaughterhouse in West Virginia that supplies KFC, workers were documented tearing the heads off live birds, spitting tobacco into their eyes, spray-painting their faces, and violently stomping on them. These acts were witnessed dozens of times. This slaughterhouse was not a “bad apple,” but a “Supplier of the Year.” Imagine what happens at the bad apples when no one is looking.
Why is taste, the crudest of our senses, exempted from the ethical rules that govern our other senses? If you stop and think about it, it’s crazy. Why doesn’t a horny person have as strong a claim to raping an animal as a hungry one does to killing and eating it? It’s easy to dismiss that question but hard to respond to it. And how would you judge an artist who mutilated animals in a gallery because it was visually arresting?…Try to imagine any end other than taste for which it would be justifiable to do what we do to farmed animals.
My note: I think it’s fair to make this point about killing animals in order to satisfy “taste,” as humans do not need to eat animals for survival. There are plenty of other ways to get fat and protein - as the ADA pointed out in a 2009 study, vegetarians and vegans “meet and exceed requirements” for protein - even athletes. And, to raise enough animals to feed the world’s population, we will have to dramatically deplete our grain resources in order to feed the animals.
On average, Americans eat the equivalent of 21,000 entire animals in a lifetime [based on USDA statistics].
Scientific studies and government records suggest that virtually all (upwards of 95 percent of) chickens become infected with E. coli (an indicator of fecal contamination) and between 39 and 75 percent of chickens in retail stores are still infected. Around 8 percent of birds become infected with salmonella…seventy to 90 percent are infected with another potentially deadly pathogen, campylobacter. Chlorine baths are commonly used to remove slime, odor, and bacteria. Of course, consumers might notice that their chickens don’t taste quite right…but the birds will be injected…with “broths” and salty solutions to give them what we have come to think of as the chicken look, smell, and taste. (A recent study by Consumer Reports found that chicken and turkey products, many labeled as natural, “ballooned with 10 to 30 percent of their weight as broth, flavoring, or water.”)
Once upon a time, USDA inspectors had to condemn any bird with…fecal contamination. But about thirty years ago, the poultry industry convinced the USDA to reclassify feces so that it could continue to use…automatic eviscerators. Once a dangerous contaminant, feces are now classified as a “cosmetic blemish.”
[After slaughter and processing,] chickens go to a massive refrigerated tank of water, where thousands of [dead] birds are communally cooled…By immersing clean, healthy birds in the same tank with dirty ones, you’re practically assuring cross-contamination. While a significant number of European and Canadian poultry processors employ air-chilling systems, 99 percent of US poultry producers have stayed with water-immersion systems and fought lawsuits from both consumers and the beef industry to continue the outmoded use of water-chilling. It’s not hard to figure out why. Air-chilling reduces the weight of a bird’s carcass.
…in 1995, when the [FDA] approved fluoroquinolones - such as Cipro - for use in chickens against the protest of the [CDC], the percentage of bacteria resistant to this powerful new class of antibiotics rose from almost zero to 18 perfect by 2002. A broader study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed an eightfold increase in antimicrobial resistance from 1992 to 1997, and, using molecular subtyping, linked this increase to the use of antimicrobials in farmed chickens.
The primary ancestor of the recent H1N1 swine flu outbreak originated at a hog factory farm in…North Carolina, and then quickly spread throughout the Americas.
The typical pig factory farm will produce 7.2 million pounds of manure annually, a typical broiler [poultry] facility will produce 6.6 million pounds, and a typical cattle feedlot 344 million pounds. The GAO reports that individual farms “can generate more raw waste than the populations of some U.S. cities.” All told, farmed animals in the United States produce 130 times as much waste as the human population - roughly 87,000 pounds of shit per second. The polluting strength of this shit is 160 times greater than raw municipal sewage. And yet there is almost no waste-treatment infrastructure for farmed animals…no sewage pipes, no one hauling it away from treatment, and almost no federal guidelines regulating what happens to it.
Smithfield alone annually kills more individuals hogs than the combined human populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Columbus, Austin, Fort Worth, and Memphis - some 31 million animals. According to conservative EPA figures, each hog produces two to four times as much shit for each American citizen. That means that Smithfield - a single legal entity - produces at least as much fecal waste as the entire human population of the states of California and Texas combined.
…list of shit typically found in the shit of factory-farmed hogs [includes]: “ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, cyanid, phosphorus, nitrates and heavy metals. In addition, the waste nurses more than 100 microbial pathogens that can make humans sick, including salmonella, cryptosporidium, streptococci and giardia”…The impression the pig industry wishes to give is that fields can absorb the toxins in the hog feces, but we know this isn’t true. Run-off creeps into waterways, and poisonous gases like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide evaporate into the air. When the football field-sized cesspools are approaching overflowing, Smithfield, like others in the industry, spray the liquefied manure onto fields.
My note: Why are people not thinking more about this when we see salmonella and E. coli outbreaks in lettuce and other produce? There are really few other ways to explain how produce becomes infected with E. coli.
…in 1995, Smithfield spilled more than twenty million gallons of lagoon waste into the New River in North Carolina. The spill remains the largest environmental disaster of its kind…The spill released enough liquid manure to fill 250 Olympic-size swimming pools…Smithfield was fined $12.6 million…[the] company that now grosses $12.6 million every ten hours. Smithfield’s former CEO Joseph Luter III received $12.6 million in stock options in 2001.”
My note: How is it possible that Americans are so up in arms about banking executives making large bonuses or getting attractive stock compensation packages because of the mortgage crisis and the growing income gap, but no one gives a shit (accidental but not unwelcomed pun) about these factory farming executives getting massive compensation packages when their companies are destroying the very earth we live on, making us sick, and abusing millions and million of animals each year? Do we really care that much more about our bank accounts or the square footage of our homes than we do about our health, the health of our children and loves ones, and the well-being of innocent animals?
There are very interesting discussions throughout the book about the rise of factory farming and the process of genetically modifying animals over time to make them “ideal” for consumption (ideal only if you ignore huge externalities like environmental destruction - both through waste run-off and global warming - human sickness brought on by filthy factory conditions, and growing human resistance to antibiotics due to those found in meat). These passages, however, are too long to be repeated here, but are very much worth the read. There is also quite a bit written about the intelligence of pigs, about the type of communities pigs form, about the changes in the nature of formerly pet-like pigs through rise of the factory farming industry, and about pig slaughter - again, too lengthy to repeat here and, also, sad for me to revisit.
The big question this book created in my mind was this: How have I been aware of all of these facts (and by facts I mean atrocities) on some level for most of my young adult and adult life and not acted on this awareness? Also, how is it that my peers, friends, family members, and so forth demonstrate the same apathy? Frankly, none of us are poor. In fact, most of the people in my life are upper middle class or above. Certainly, we have no need to purchase cheap meat from factory farms. Furthermore, most of us are well-educated and exposed to these issues and facts. So why are we all acting as though these facts don’t matter, that they don’t affect our lives, that we can buy $5 steaks from Kroger and call it a day? Certainly, one can make the argument that one person changing his or her diet won’t change an incredibly broad and powerful industry like the factory farming industry - but that’s just like saying one person’s vote doesn’t count in the presidential election. If we all make that same assumption, no one will vote and, similarly, no one will change his or her eating behavior. In addition, one person’s decision to change or to act can influence those around him or her. So a decision to forgo meat or exclusively eat meat from local, sustainable farms could result in one, two, three, or more people in one’s circle making the same decision. And then it’s a domino effect. Look at, for example, the swift action taken by general consumers in response to the “pink slime” debacle uncovered by The Wall Street Journal on March 15th. By March 22nd, all of the major grocery stores had responded to consumer outcry and either banned meat containing “pink slime,” i.e. lean finely textured beef, or implemented new policies wherein consumers would be able to find out which meat contains “pink slime” and which meat does not. If consumers can force the hands of nearly every major U.S. grocery chain in a matter of one week – including the notoriously stubborn Wal-Mart – think what we can accomplish if we rally against the truly awful, perverse system that is factory farming.
Some people may also make the argument that the factory farming industry is so large and powerful that to try and topple it would be nearly impossible, and even if it were feasible, there would be nothing to replace it with. However, I think it’s important to remember that factory farming as we know it is an incredibly contemporary development. Even 40 years ago, a large percentage of meat came from your local farm – raised, slaughtered, and sold by a member of your own community without any kind of corporate oversight. Returning to that system is not impossible. There are plenty of “family farms” out there - they are just essentially contractors for companies like Tyson (poultry), Smithfield Foods (pork), and National Beef (self evident). In fact, many farmers would be financially better off if they were not being strangled by huge factory farming conglomerates that outsource to them and force them to always cut costs and lower prices – usually at the cost of their livelihoods, the well-being of their workers, and certainly the health and well-being of their animals.
For the past month or so, I have gone primarily vegetarian – though that’s more of a byproduct of not being able to discern where my meat is coming from, as I would eat meat if it was local/sustainable/ethical, etcetera (although Foer points out that there isn’t even enough “…nonfactory chicken produced in America to feed the population of Staten Island and not enough non factory pork to serve New York City, let alone the country.”). I have however, eaten fish and shellfish on a handful of occasions - Foer makes very good points as to why we should either avoid fish/shellfish or select only those that are sustainable, but I’ve found myself in several travel/work dining situations that were prohibitive to vegetarianism. In terms of veganism - that is a lifestyle I don’t think I’d ever be able to conquer. And, anyway, I think (maybe incorrectly) that I’d have an easier time finding dairy and eggs that come from animals that have been treated ethically than I could with meat.
Though I feel that this foray into vegetarianism (maybe I have to say pescetarianism to be fair) has been relatively simple and painless, I fear that much of my sentiment toward this “lifestyle change” is due to the very nature of my current lifestyle. I work 13 plus hours a day. I have worked nearly every weekend since the start of the year. I haven’t seen my parents or any of my family since October/November. I only see my boyfriend every six weeks or so (and that might be generous). So I’m living in a pretty siloed environment in which eating is not a part of my interactions with others. There is no one around with whom food is part of the very fabric of our relationship. When I’m with my boyfriend, or when I go home to New Orleans, or when I’m with my family for holidays, this “lifestyle change” becomes much more challenging. While I’m fully open to eating meat if it is local/sustainable/ethical, that’s not always an option. It’s a realistic option with my mother, but with my father, this demand might produce more of a negative reaction than the simple refusal to eat meat – though that would undoubtedly also result in a heated argument (nevermind that I’m a self-supporting adult). With my boyfriend, though he also likes the idea of eating the type of meat I’d like to restrict my diet to, his budget and generous gifts of Omaha Steaks from his parents don’t make the purchase of local/sustainable/ethical meat possible even half of the time.
So what do I do? Do I inconvenience everyone around me for the sake of the ideals presented in Eating Animals? Do I limit my travel experiences and enjoyment of life, or at least as I’ve defined that for 23 years? Foer agrees that this is where the challenge comes into play. When I’m alone in New York, my “lifestyle change” is not at all problematic. If I had more vegetarians/vegans in my life, it would also be made simpler. But as it stands, I don’t know how successfully I can stick to these seemingly optimistic/romanticized ideals about my diet. I mean, my lord, I’ve even raved to the bf (strangely enough, I always pronounce that as “beef”) about Taco Bell’s new Doritos-shell taco and how much I want to try it – even though the meat found in Taco Bell’s food is one of the best representations of everything that is wrong with factory farming. It’s cheap, low quality, regularly (enough) plagued by E. coli – and by purchasing it, I would only be feeding into the factory farm system and reinforcing the idea that everyone just wants cheap, cheap, cheap meat regardless of environmental impacts, health implications, or animal abuse. Which, interestingly enough, has never been proven to be the case. In fact, the best studies we have indicate that people would willingly sacrifice cheap meat for more ethical and sustainable production.
In 2007, an Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics nationwide telephone survey found that 76% of Americans believe that animal welfare is more important than low meat prices. A 2003 Gallup News Service poll reported that 96% of Americans said that animals deserve legal protection and roughly two-thirds advocated passing “strict laws” regarding animal cruelty in factory farms. Nonetheless, most Americans still happily live as carnivores, and most do not go out of their way to buy meat from sources other than factory farms. In fact, most don’t consider the source of their meat, even if they are implicitly giving their consent to the factory farming industry by purchasing its products.
Toward the end of Eating Animals, Foer quoted Wendell Berry and asked his readers a question: “Few will actually farm, but…we will all farm by proxy. To whom will we give our proxy?” Consumers have remarkable power in this nation to shape the industries that provide us with the goods and services we desire. In our history, we have forced the hands of numerous corporations when it came to child labor, discrimination, fare wages, overtime, benefits, and so forth. We’ve demanded recalls, come together for class actions suits against companies whose products and services have harmed us, and boycotted those corporations whose practices are out of line with our ideals. So why are we not examining this issue more closely or working to affect change? Many people would say that Americans don’t care about factory farming because the ones it hurts the most are nameless, faceless animals. A steak is not a cow. Or a pet. Nor is a piece of fried chicken. As Foer put it, “The justifications for eating animals and for not eating them are often identical: we are not them.”
But to take this stance is to ignore a vast library of research and statistics regarding the externalities of the factory farming industry - the way in which its practices pollute our water and our produce, harm workers and take advantage of the poor and/or of immigrants, bulk up our children with hormones, make us more resistant to critical antibiotics. It is not tremendously hard to change your eating habits when you examine your lifestyle in a box - there are numerous non-meat sources of daily nutritional requirements, even if you don’t live in a big city or have access to organic stores like Whole Foods. And when you examine a vegetarian or humane meat-eating lifestyle in the context of interactions with others - even if it seems difficult at first, your changing ways may inspire those who are close to you and, thus, make it a community movement.
We should all care about this issue - it should rank up there with the budget and with women’s rights. Because even if we balance our budget and ensure that women get the care they need to avoid cancer, complicated pregnancies, and the like - if our world becomes overwhelmed with animal waste, if our food is contaminated, if we can no longer fight off illnesses with antibiotics, and if factory farms give rise to massive epidemics and pandemics, well then the other issues that our government is fighting over won’t mean a thing.
As they say - all good things must come to an end. As must horrible, soul-crushing, cornea-searing travesties.
The outcome of the finale was so utterly unsurprising yet disgusting that I see no need to write a recap. We all knew how the story would end, and yet we’re all saddened by it. No reason to relive it any further. What I do want to relive, however, is The Bachelor: After the Final Rose special that followed the sappy, “You are my forever” proposal. Because where it began and where it ended a mere 43 minutes later was truly mind-boggling. Much more so than any of the other shenanigans in all the years I’ve watched this show (in my view, except perhaps for when that squirrelly little dude dumped one contestant after proposing to her for the other girl that he had jilted).
The Q&A starts off with just Chris Harrison and Ben, who could not be more glib. He must be in the running for Matt Lauer’s spot on Today. Despite his artificially chipper / saccharin behavior, he does at least demonstrate how much more aware he now is of Courtney’s black-heartedness after watching the season. Sadly, his trip down memory lane did not provide him with any awareness as to how tragic his hair is. Instead, it somehow resulted in the decision to grow a patchy, shit-stain beard (okay, JK, I love beards, including Ben’s dirt face). In this Q&A, Ben also reveals how self-involved, immature, and perhaps even sociopathic he truly is. There were glimmers of this all season long, but his responses last night to challenging situations that would otherwise be fraught with complex human emotions were shockingly cold and, well, inhuman. As Lisa Hanawalt put it in a NYMag Vulture post,
Ben behaves like the creepiest camp counselor; he makes out with everyone, tries to keep the peace in the most detached way possible, and women who aren’t 100 percent in love with him by the fifth episode are eliminated…In his interviews Ben says “I could really see myself with this woman,” or “I’m falling in love with this woman.” It sounds like he’s talking about different sandwiches he could see himself ordering…He’s such a blank slate, it’s hard to imagine him having any kind of internal life or off-camera existence.
Ben clearly doesn’t care about how Courtney’s behavior affected the other women and, instead, only talks about how it made things harder for him; he describes how he gave Courney the silent treatment with no shred of emotion, let alone regret or remorse; he shows zero emotions over their break-up; etcetera. And back to the point about him coming across as a sociopath. When confronted with the rumors of his cheating - which were splashed across every tabloid in the past couple of weeks, complete with explicit, photographic evidence - Ben wholeheartedly denied them without even batting an eye. There was certainly no issue with the common, “Methinks thou doth protest too much” scenario that usually arises when someone attempts to deny an obvious truth. He simply closed the book on the idea that he cheated in a matter of seconds, even though there is no way a normal person could deny that they made out with three women when the photos are right in front of them. That’s like when I found a freshly used condom in my sociopathic ex-boyfriend’s room and he stated that he never used it - “It isn’t used, darling!”
Chris Harrison quickly became bored with Ben’s lies and sociopathic tendencies and, thus, within a matter of minutes brought a comparatively hysterical Courtney out to chat. I sort of loved Courtney’s dress - it was like an angelic dominatrix costume. Best of both worlds. Courtney repeats a lot of the self-pittying sentiments from last week, but goes into more detail on the deterioration of her relationship with Ben - which is the first time I’ve ever felt that her emotions were genuine. She was very clipped at first, hiding the tears and general deluge of emotions that soon followed. (I’m obviously describing her outpouring of emotions on a comparative basis with her typical witchiness.)
After no more than five minutes, Chris Harrison summons Ben back on stage - he was all over the place! For once, I found myself actually preferring Courtney to Ben. I don’t care how well he might be able to compartmentalize his feelings. His faux gay attitude was awful and really not becoming on someone with such filthy hair. Similarly, Courtney’s unexpected pandering to Ben was shocking and not becoming on someone who’s typically so headstrong, vocal, etcetera.
Wow. Courtney and Ben’s hair looked very similar. Similarly flippy. So, so weird. Sorry, moving on.
Strangely, I actually think Ben’s lack of emotions may allow them to stay together. Nothing seems to impact him in a meaningful way. So I feel like he could just “be with her,” even if the relationship isn’t fully “right” or “good.” And I think she just needs to save face now by making things work.
When we returned, I’m pretty sure I saw a 20-something-year-old dude wiping away tears. This show does crazy things to people, and not just the participants. Anyway. Chris Harrison cuts to a video of the proposal, which was awful. I want to block Courtney’s awful elbow-length, black day-time gloves out of my memory forever (really forever, not Ben’s version of “forever”). Also. It just reminded me of the emphasis Courtney put on the ring over the proposal / Ben. Which in turn reminded me how horrible and fake she is. God. I’m sorry. I really don’t want to / said I wouldn’t recap the episode / proposal. Back to After the Final Rose.
Ben and Courtney both start crying. Ben is an ugly crier. To lift their spirits, Chris Harrison makes his own proposal. He pulls the gorgeous finale engagement ring out of his pocket, which ABC had confiscated when Ben and Courtney broke up (I adore the corporate element of this love story), and offers it to Ben. I really wanted Chris Harrison to propose to Courtney at that moment. That would have been the most dank ending ever. Scandal! But no. Ben says that he still loves Courtney, and he slips the ring back on her finger. So, in 43 minutes, they’ve gone from semi broken up to engaged again. She responds to this move with a “Thanks, honey,” as if he had just handed her a can of soup she couldn’t reach.
After this touching moment, ABC brought out Ashley and that bald dude from the last Bachelorette to provide the kind of sage relationship advice that only a couple brought together by reality TV could. I hate Ashley’s overly animated, little girl ways. So I turned off the TV.
And, thus, this concludes my recaps of The Bachelor, Season 16. It’s been a ton of fun, even when I wanted to gouge my own eyes out. Thank you all for reading. Hopefully I’ll have a new TV obsession to share in the not-so-distant future.
Let me start by asking a couple of questions. First, since when do a bunch of grown women raise their hands to speak? To be fair, this probably makes since, as most of these rejects aren’t actually grown women - they’re more like PMS-ing middle schoolers whose parents make questionable choices and, thus, allow them to get breast implants at age 14. In any event, this hand raising thing happened about 400 times during last night’s episode, The Bachelor: The Women Tell All. Well, they didn’t really tell all because, apparently, they only spoke when Chris Harrison was so kind as to call on them (ok, let’s be real, they all wound up shouting over each other, but at least they attempted to be “orderly” and “polite” at the beginning).
Second, what in the world was ABC thinking showing us a preview of Bachelor Pad 3 at the outset of this episode? Was the network just trying to send us a message that this season’s “winning couple” will ultimately be a failure? And an epic failure, at that. One that winds up overly botoxed, squeezed into sateen minidresses and Express Men skinny pants, and tonguing strangers’ mouths in Las Vegas. Even Ali is bewildered by this nonsense, and she’s typically eating this kind of publicity shit up (probably given that she lost the chance to get valuable Facebook stock by choosing to pursue an egomaniacal pilot instead of working and, therefore, is likely now broke).
Also - I recognized one of the ex-Bachelor contestants and soon-to-be Bachelor Pad cast member, Erica, from that disastrous VH1 show You’re Cut Off! (this girl always wore a tiara, so she was memorable), but I don’t remember her from The Bachelor. She’s clearly addicted to reality TV. By the way, which season was Lorenzo’s, which she was apparently a contestant on? I obviously have not had a lifelong addiction to love for The Bachelor (thank god, or else I’d probably be single forever).
Now, on to the real show, The Bachelor: The Women Tell All. Because this show in and of itself is a recap, I pondered what the best way to recap it would be. What I came up with was this - a top ten eleven quotes list. For each quote, I’ve noted who the speaker is and to whom he or she was directing his or her comment. And, I’ve provided everyone’s real names (with nicknames in parentheses, of course). I just thought that, since this would be the last time I ever write about most of these people, they deserve to be represented by the names their mamas gave ‘em. So, without further ado:
1) Collection of voice-over clips: "Ben is gorgeous…Ben is amazing…Ben is absolutely adorable, his hair is so cute, you just want to eat him up."
When Chris Harrison provided an introduction to this montage, himself describing Ben as the “sexy Bachelor,” he looked as though he might actually vomit on stage. Perfectly sums up my reaction to these nonsensical descriptions of Ben’s appearance.
2) Brittney to Chris Harrison: "The first reason why I left was there was no attraction towards Ben, whatsoever."
Thank you, Brittney. You are the one honest girl on this show, on Ashley’s season of The Bachelorette, at every gossip magazine and early evening syndicated news program. Now, I sort of wish you hadn’t left so soon because, if not, perhaps we would have gotten more of this delightful candor. By the way, did anyone else notice the girl in the audience reacting to this admission with an incredibly exaggerated display of shock and disgust? Hi-larious.
3) Brittney to Samantha (Beauty Queen): "First of all, you are like the chihuahua of the house. You just don’t stop talking. You just don’t stop talking! Shut up. God, she is so annoying. Just shut up."
Ok, now I’m really impressed. How does the girl who bailed on episode three get two of the best lines of the night? She’s honest, ballsy, and unfiltered. I love it. Good for her that she had the guts and self-awareness to get off of this train before it crashed and burst into a ball of fire (like most other Bachelor seasons do).
4) Shawntel to Chris Harrison: "That was only the second time I’ve watched it. I muted it a lot when I watched it the first time."
Only the second time you watched it? I bet. Also, she says that as if it would be perfectly normal to just watch this on a loop for days. If I were her, I would have watched it once but with my eyes closed instead of on mute. I wouldn’t want to see my own, tragic, scrunched-up face and smeared eyeliner.
5) Emily (PhD) to Chris Harrison: "You’re clouding your own mind because you’re just thinking about sex, you’re not thinking about a relationship anymore." - to which Chris Harrison responded, "I think you have figured out men…the secret is out."
Emily also had some great lines tonight. She’s obviously the most confident, intelligent, and well-educated one in the group. Makes me wonder why she ever signed on for this show. Perhaps it was some secret research for her doctoral program. In any case, thank you for coming out and saying what we’ve all been thinking - Ben and Courtney have a connection based on sex. To be fair though, studies have shown that the chemicals released in our brains through sexual contact and/or orgasm give us the feeling of being “in love,” so Ben’s deeper emotions for Courtney as compared to the other girls - even if totally a byproduct of sex - are not actually surprising or unreasonable.
6) Emily (PhD) to Chris Harrison: "Does Courtney know love? Does she have a heart? I don’t think so. It could have been Joe Schmo sitting in the seat and Courtney would have done her damnedest to make sure she got a rose."
Another very accurate assertion by Emily. I appreciate how nicely she did last night in clearly articulating what is on everyone else’s minds. Even the other girls get that she is their figurehead. She knows how to represent “the people.” She’s like the Obama of The Bachelor.
7) Chris Harrison to Courtney: "The women are understandably pissed. I mean pissed. At you."
Yihhhhh, Chris Harrison. You tell her want a cunty cunt she is. I’m not sure why Chris Harrison even pretends to be an unbiased observer; he’s so much more entertaining when he lets his true feelings shine through. Like when he called Casey out on her back-home boyfriend.
8) Courtney to, well, no one in particular: "I’m going through real emotions and I don’t like being torn apart, my family, my friends in the tabloids…I’m sorry for hurting Ben."
Straight from the horse’s mouth (and, no, not Lindzi’s mouth, to be clear). Everything I said last week about her apologies to Ben being hollow have just been proven. While “apologizing” to the girls, all she actually did was feel sorry for herself and her family and halfheartedly apologize to Ben, who never actually experienced her cruelty and heinousness (at least not during filming, anyway).
9) Ben to Chris Harrison: "Welcome to my nightmare."
How did this not scare you away from doing the show at all? You are an idiot man-child.
10) Jennifer (Accountant) to Chris Harrison: "I go home and I’m like, really? Like, I went home and he’s considering taking Blakeley home to his mom? Like, no offense [Blakeley]."
This is a prime example of why saying “No offense” at the end of a ridiculously offensive statement is just unnecessary. It’s not as though once you say, “But no offense,” anyone forgets about everything you said preceding that.
11) Nicki (Southern Alcoholic) to Ben: "I will back that you are the best man I’ve ever met in my life. 100% until I die."
Nicki needs to get out more. That’s all I can say to this one.
As a parting note - more potential Bachelors should watch this episode each season. It will turn them off to the show, and perhaps to women, forever.
"I wonder if we're gonna be able to get to the vulnerable state that we both need to be in..."
Last week, I took an inadvertent vacation from The Bachelor (not as exciting as any of their vacations, sadly) due to Time Warner Cable’s utter incompetence. However, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. With my job keeping me awake literally 24-hours a day, I didn’t need the added stress that is brought on by watching The Bachelor. This week, however, my workload has begun to lighten a bit, so I figured I might as well supplant my newfound shortage of work-related stress with Bachelor stress.
I did, actually, watch last week’s episode - or some of it - and I have to say that I am just shocked that Ben sent Kacie B. home. Sure, she acted totally crazy in her post-rejection, backseat interview (“What the fuck happened?!”), but she was still the prettiest contestant and the one who most genuinely cared for him. Yes, her family was unsure of the situation. But that was a good and very normal stance. Ben should have respected that. But, no, he kept Horsey, who literally said at one point last week, “Vulnerable - that’s such a big word for me!” And don’t even get me started on Courtney. If Ben wasn’t scared away by the fact that Khloe Kardashian is her sister - meaning that he and Courtney will likely have hilarious but utterly trollicious children together - then he’s far more idiotic than I gave him credit for previously.
So tonight, we’re down to our last three ladies. I love this episode, as the dates involve a trip to the “Fantasy Suite” - which is made even more entertaining by the nonsensical notion that the Bachelor has to give each woman an invitation to this suite. As if he won’t jump on the chance to take each woman back to his room (ha, pun). I have to imagine the producers had a big chuckle when they threw out that idea - they probably didn’t think it would actually get used on the show. It’s one of those situations where intelligent, snarky people make a joke that, sadly, the more “dense” folks around them, such as those who they cast on this show, take seriously.
I am incredibly thankful that this episode takes place in Switzerland, as I imagine the weather might be better for Ben’s hair than that in the tropical nations in which they’ve been spending their time up until now. But, no matter, Ben already ruined his image in the opening sequence with his stupid, jenky bow tie. At the end of the episode overview, we get a preview of the upcoming Bachelorette season. This dumb bitch. She must be the worst mother ever. She left her daughter once to “find love,” and now she’s leaving her again? This poor little girl is going to have the worst separation anxiety and fears of abandonment as she gets older.
In any case, back to the real show. It struck me that, at this point, I actually know all of these remaining girls’ names. But I like their nicknames better, so I’ll stick with those. Even though Lindzi with a “z” is so ridiculous that it practically nullifies the need for a nickname.
In his opening interview, Ben explains when he started falling for the girls:
1) Southern Alcoholic - On the date where she described not only the failure of her first marriage, but also, her mixed feelings about her ex and about marriage in general
2) Horsey - The hometown date, where Ben awkwardly attempted to ride a horse
3) Courtney - When she gave him genital lice fucked him
Ben also continues to describe Courtney as being “weird” and “nerdy.” Let’s not forget that this is the girl who (A) earns a living modeling and (B) is openly disdainful of people who are “book smart.” Ben is “worried” about the way Courtney may or may not treat the other women. Yeah right. There won’t be other women around to whine about her when his p is in her v, so I doubt he really cares. Well, unless shelets him act out his full teenage boy fantasies - then there might be some other girls around.
A commercial for The Titanic comes on. I can’t help but think this will be how Ben’s relationship works out if he chooses Courtney. Except, unlike Rose, she won’t even try to keep him from drowning. She’ll just hold his head under water and then keep the door to herself for survival.
Anyway, the first date is with Southern Alcoholic - and there’s a helicopter ride! I can’t even be upset about this anymore. I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship with the helicopter. I’m just so numb to its ways. Okay, I’m sorry, but does this girl not know how much more attractive she is than Ben? She could literally do so much better. And, honestly, this good ole Southern girl isn’t going to be happy with the nerdy, faux-hipster winemaker. She’s just looking to fill the gap that her failed marriage left and get some sort of reassurance that, even though she lost a husband, she can literally win a new one. She says she doesn’t just love Ben, but can also see a life with him. Come on, honey, all of us can imagine playing house. I’m pretty sure studies have proven that most women fantasize about getting married to a guy on their first date.
These conversations between Ben and Southern Alcoholic are getting too serious. I’m bored. Southern Alcoholic does make a funny comment, however, about how she can’t believe they were just in Sonoma and San Fran - that’s because it was, like, 3 weeks ago. Also, she says she doesn’t want to get too serious with him - to which he says, “Well, you already dropped the l-bomb.” So that should be reassuring. They start talking about kids. Blechk. Fast forward. As I did so, I found myself saying, “You’re stupid. You’re so stupid,” over and over again to the TV. This girl’s pathetic, head-over-heels behavior and open willingness to make innumerous compromises for Ben without asking for literally anything in return makes me embarrassed to be a woman. Ben says she exudes confidence, even though all she’s doing is trying to placate him in any way possible. Which means his comment is clearly in reference to her ginormous, shirt-escaping breasts.
I then fast forwarded through the hot tub scene. Where I found myself saying to the TV, “Stop talking! Just bone!” Southern Alcoholic never shuts up.
Okay, time for the date with Horsey! Her hair looks like shit. I’m sorry. Those highlights are just atrocious. It’s one color on top of a dark base. No variation. No highlights and lowlights. Just garish yellow stripes on dark brown hair. Sick. They are practically neon, especially in the sunlight. Oh, and their date involves something with heights and facing fears. Neat. I guess they couldn’t arrange jumping from a helicopter in straitjackets with ten-pound weights chained to their ankles on such short notice.
There are some sheep and a hot tub. Horsey keeps saying the word “vulnerable.” She clearly invested in a dictionary since last week (or, since yesterday, if we’re going by Bachelor time). Again, stop fucking talking and just hook up. Ben does not care about what you want to say. He doesn’t want to hear about your emotions. No guy does. Just give him a little handy. It’s so clear what exactly Ben is thinking about slash what he actually wants from Horsey given that he immediately starts talking about wanting to give her an invitation to the Fantasy Suite (in his voice-over, to be clear) - but he says he fears that they won’t reach the “vulnerable state” they need to in order to get there. Don’t worry, dolly, those horse tranquilizers you packed will probably be sufficient.
Time for dinner. Horsey looks like a 37-year-old hooker from Arkansas. Ben’s bow tie is just too much for me to put into words. I’d need another day or so to fully articulate how fucking awful and stupid he looks at this moment. Serious chats. Blah blah blah. Fast forward. Oh! She wants to give Ben “all of [her].” Annnnnd, Fantasy Suite invite! Cha-ching! God damn, the embarrassing admissions on this show make me wish this was filmed during Prohibition - giving these bitches alcohol is like bringing crack cocaine into Promises. Once in the hotel room, we get a quick shot of Ben mounting Horsey (god, I’m so full of puns tonight) and doing things to her. We also see her butt, which was strange for cable TV. Those horse tranquilizers must have worked better than Ben expected!
Finally, time for the third date - and it’s the Courtney show! She recaps last week’s mock wedding and vows. How that shit didn’t get her sent home, I’ll never know. Reminds me of Ashley on The Bachelorette last season. Didn’t Ben learn anything from watching that? I fast forwarded through the “intimate train ride” - has this guy never travelled via New Jersey Transit? Not so intimate. Ben and Courtney play “Hey cow!” Which is actually kind of cute. I don’t like that someone as demonic as Courtney gets invited to play a cute little game with cows. I wish they would have charged her.
Ben and Courtney have a serious and much needed talk about what a pernicious bitch Courtney is. Not even worth recapping. You could all have scripted it yourselves. Afterward, Courtney acts remorseful - but really, she just doesn’t want to lose. It’s like what Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind: "You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail."
Courtney sucks up hard core at dinner, and we all know some literal sucking is going to follow. She plays the victim and talks so much that Ben has no room to get a word in - so he can’t challenge her or pose any difficult questions and is generally forced to just accept whatever bullshit she’s spoon-feeding him. She says she’d do things differently from the start if given the opportunity - but we all know that is just a crock of shit. Also, giving Ben an apology is meaningless - you have to apologize to the person or people you directly hurt, not to some third party. Her apologize is hollow and cowardly.
Fantasy suite time! There’s a hot tub made out of a barrel and some dry humping. Fast forward.
Ohmahgawd - preview for The Bachelorette. I own Emily’s trench coat! This will be the highlight of the episode for me - and I can’t even understand why that is. Bitch says that her daughter is her world, but I can’t imagine that’s true given that she’s left her for two extremely long periods of time just to hook up and go on dates.
Anyway. Back to The Bachelor. Ben is all happy and gleeful - especially after his night with Courtney - and he feels like he’s nearing a decision. But then, uh oh, drama!!! Of. Course. The Bachelor brings Kacie B. back to have a sit down with Ben. Or did she just do this of her own volition. Either way, I’m excited. I hope she’s coming to tell him she’s pregnant with his child. LOL. That would be too much drama, even for The Bachelor. I absolutely love that Ben is dressed in a denim-ish shirt and skinny tie - like a high school chemistry teacher - while just hanging out in his room. Kacie B. says she’s come all this way just for answers. Um, isn’t that what texting and email is for? Ben explains that they are just worlds apart - which is completely true of both Kacie B. and Southern Alcoholic. They will both be happy at the end of the day when they aren’t with Ben. He isn’t right for either of them. But it’s hard to see that through the veil of rejection. It isn’t heartbreak they’re dealing with. It’s the resulting loss of confidence and the self-doubt associated with a break-up. Kacie B. needs to not start trying to compromise the elements of herself and her life that made Ben send her home in the first place, but I know that’s what’s about to happen. It’s what girls do. It’s probably just generally what people do when they’re broken up with. I know. I’ve lived through it. Although I will say, part of growing up is realizing that you should never compromise (in a life-altering way, at least) for a relationship - because the right one won’t require that. Real love won’t force you to change yourself or your life dramatically just to “fit” with the other person. Kacie B. is just about my age, so I understand why she hasn’t figured this out yet, or at least begun to live by these truths.
Then, Kacie B. starts harping on Courtney. So, that’s maybe one way to play this. I mean, she has nothing to lose at this point - so why not. She pretends to be doing this for noble reasons, though she must know that Ben and everyone else can see right through that (she doesn’t even seem convinced that she’s saying this to “protect” Ben). Because I already know this conversation isn’t going to go in her favor and isn’t going to change the fact that Ben picks Courtney, I almost don’t need to watch this.
Finally, Ben kicks Kacie B. out. She collapses on the floor. Didn’t your mother ever teach you that you never lay on hotel floors? They are filthy. As are the remote controls, according to my boyfriend, who actually washes them before use - as I recently discovered.
Rose ceremony! So, so excited. Mostly because it means this dumb fucking show is almost done for the year - I don’t watch The Bachelorette. Ben whines to Chris about how confused he is after the arrival of Kacie B. He’s mostly upset because it’s forcing him to use a larger portion of his brain than normal in order to make a decision. And - what the fucking shit? How do you pick Horsey over Southern Alcoholic? Horsey has an IQ of roughly 97 and looks like she was ridden hard and put away wet - fitting, I suppose, given her nickname. I mean, none of these women are really “marriage material,” but at least Southern Alcoholic was attractive. Wow. Ben is going to feel really stupid once he watches the full season and realizes what a huge mistake he made with Courtney.
The end. Thank goodness I have a two week break until the finale. I’m excited that, instead of a helicopter, there’s going to be some kind of snow tram. And the ring Ben picked is insanely gorgeous. Super jelly. Maybe I could cope with his hair for that bad boy. Ha, just kidding. We’d have to have our marriage annulled due to failure to consummate. He’s gross.
Regularly, Time Warner Cable chooses not to record the shows I’ve asked it to, or it shuffles through an entire episode in a matter of minutes, or it records something I’ve never heard of (such as “I Just Want my Pants Back,” which has happened more than once). Today, it choose to record a marathon of the Jersey Shore instead of The Bachelor. I’m actually devastated. I have no outlet for my anger and snark. At least until it becomes available online or On Demand. Damn you to hell, Time Warner Cable! I hope everyone will come back in a few days for the recap.
There are few cities more deserving of the description “cosmopolitan” than New York (Manhattan, specifically). Why, wasn’t it Sex and the City, which was based here in Manhattan, that popularized the drink of that same name? In a nominal sense, the adjective “cosmopolitan” is meant to represent a person or place that has “…worldwide rather than limited or provincial scope or bearing” or “…wide international sophistication,” or is “composed of persons, constituents, or elements from all or many parts of the world.” Certainly, New York fits those descriptions. In my opinion, there is no other city in the U.S. where you can eat whatever you’ve ever craved, drink whatever has ever tickled your fancy, or do whatever you could have ever imagined doing (to be fair, I haven’t spent a great deal of time in Chicago or Los Angeles - to name just two competitors). New York can offer you every cuisine, every form of the arts and humanities, every professional sport, and much, much more. It may be lacking in the nature department – unless, of course, you find Central Park, the High Line, and other outdoor areas to be sufficient – but it provides easy access by plane, train, bus, or boat to many nearby areas that couldn’t feel less urban and yet are no more than an hour away.
However, the above may represent a superficial examination of how “cosmopolitan” New York truly is – one that a visitor or newcomer might make. Once you spend more time here in the city, you realize that it doesn’t actually offer everything for everyone and, frankly, isn’t always as “ahead of the curve” as one would expect it to be. I love living here, don’t get me wrong, and I very much appreciate all that New York has to offer, even when I am forced to “accept” many of its “quirks” (please read a friend’s hilarious description of the real estate scene, for example). Still though, there are moments where I just cannot understand why things are the way they are here. As such, I’d like to detail some of my “What the fuck, New York?” moments. This list is constantly growing and thus is by no means comprehensive, but I just felt it prudent to point out some of these things now as a way of (A) ranting and keeping myself from murdering someone when they happen and (B) letting others considering moving here know about some of the city’s drawbacks (not including the rodents, bed bugs, and general filthiness):
1) Why does it take 200 years for taxi receipts to print? The speed at which this rather pithy receipt is printed leads me to believe that inside of the “printer” is actually a tiny little elf pounding out letters on a miniature typewriter. Every time I have to ask for a receipt, I literally feel my anxiety level increase ten-fold.
2) Why doesn’t Seamless let me input my own tip amount on my order right down to the exact penny I’d like to give? This is not a New York-specific problem, but given that Seamless was founded and is headquarted here, I’ll make it one. Really, I don’t want to be forced to give someone $2.00 or $2.25. I want to be able to give $2.13, for example. When I use Seamless at work, this is a particularly annoying drawback. I often have to give the delivery man $0.25 less in tip to meet my $25.00 cut off when I’m actually only $0.02 over the limit.
3) Why is there no wireless internet access on the subway? I know the MTA is trying to roll this out, but really, I can’t understand how it’s taking so long. Most of the subways aren’t even that far underground. By the time they get WiFi access in the subways, the world will probably have moved on to some other internet connectivity technology, like tiny satellites implanted in our brains.
4) Why is the city becoming so stingy with taxi medallions? Once upon a time, I could get a taxi anywhere, anytime. Except maybe in the rain. Now, it can be 7:30pm on Friday in Murray Hill and I’ll be standing on the street corner looking like I’m hooking for a solid 10 minutes. Often times, I have to walk all the way to First Avenue in order to catch a taxi coming into the city from Queens.
5) Why can’t I find more “unhealthy” foods? Yes, I get it, everyone in New York has a mild to severe eating disorder. Stores practically don’t stock any sizes above a 6. I mean, really, New York is a great place to shop if you’re skinny because stores probably have extra stock in your size – as opposed to in other cities, where it’s a one-and-done king of deal in sizes 0-4. In any case, sometimes, I just want to buy a frozen pie. Or Hostess snack cakes. And if I want to do that, I more or less have to leave Manhattan and go to another borough.
6) Why can’t I drink before noon on Sundays? Sure, I’ll admit that New York’s liquor laws aren’t terrible (unless, of course, you compare them to the laws in my wonderful home state of Louisiana), but that puts many brunch-goers in an awkward position. If you want to have brunch at a real brunch time, let’s say 11:00 or 11:30, instead of at a hungover, half-the-day-is-already gone time, you’ll be at least halfway through your meal before you can get your mimosa (or, as I like to order, champagne with a splash of orange juice).
7) Why are there so many Irish bars? I just can’t understand why there aren’t more chill hang out spots or sports bars that don’t have a “Mc__” or “O’__” in the name. I know there was a pretty strong Irish immigrant presence in New York back in the day – but, in those times, the Irish neighborhoods were not centered around modern-day Midtown. So why is there a dearth of non-Irish bars around my home and office?
8) Why are there so few good, middle-of-the-road boutiques? I don’t get to go shopping as much as I would like, but from what shopping I have done, I’d have to say that there is an unacceptably large gap in price and quality in the spectrum of boutiques here. Of course, you have your extremely high-end designer stores – both mainstream and “up and coming.” Then, you have the cheesy boutiques that carry no-name clothing that’s barely a notch above Forever 21 quality. I need a boutique with a selection of brands like Yumi Kim, Parker, Equipment, mason by Michelle Mason, Milly, Rory Beca, and the like – somewhere that I can find cute going-out and date dresses/outfits that I won’t be bankrupted by or ashamed of in two months. Bloomingdales or the 5th Floor at Saks can usually do the trick, but those stores are just too big and make me feel overwhelmed (especially when perfume salespeople literally chase me down and spray crap on me).
Despite these gripes, I have no problem admitting how happy I am to be living in New York. I wholeheartedly believe that there is no better city in which one can learn to be a “real adult.” So, if I have to spend an extra 25 seconds in a cab or wait until 1:00pm to have brunch, well then that’s OK. Maybe not forever, but certainly for a while longer.
I actually hope that more people make the choice to put up with the oftentimes ridiculousness of Manhattan - the overpriced rent, the surly people, the hyper-trendy restaurant and bar scene - to reap the rewards of living here. So much so, in fact, that I hope my future daughter (if I’m so lucky) chooses to come here, too. And then I can crash on her couch, go shopping, eat delicious food, and so forth. Ha, who am I kidding. I’m staying at a hotel.
Welcome to Season 16, Episode 7! Are we halfway done yet? In the intro to tonight’s episode, I hear some variation of “I love Ben” three times. And then, of course, the other half of the intro is devoted to Courtney-bashing. Which is unsurprising given that 66.67% of the magazines I bought today had Ben and Courtney on the cover. Yes. I am now wasting time and money on this show. If anyone is a masochist, it’s not any of these girls - it’s me.
We begin the episode with the group traveling to Belize and providing their customary introductory interviews. Ben says that island life here is “slow,” which finally gives him time to think through what’s going on. I’m not sure if Ben is really that self-deprecating about his mental capabilities or if The Bachelor producers and editors have a similar sense of humor to mine. Kacie B. says she’s as in love with Ben as she possibly could be. After four weeks, give or take. So she is essentially disproving the theories about love growing over time that have been expounded upon by authors, poets, and lyricists for, well, ever. I am so thankful to see that there’s a cool breeze here in Belize. Hopefully this will ameliorate some of the issues with Ben’s hair and general appearance. Southern Alcoholic says that she really doesn’t need any additional time with Ben in order to tell him she loves him. Which isn’t actually an indicator of her feelings. More of her BAC. Nevertheless, she quickly starts crying and admits that her connection with Ben might not be any stronger than anyone else’s. Ah, the depressant effects of alcohol.
We break for commercial, and first up is an advertisement for Neil Lane bridal at Kay Jewelers. Doesn’t Kay know that this show only discourages people from marrying? Pick your target market better, sheesh.
Ben shows up for his first date with Horsey doing his best Ryan Gosling impression in a striped wifebeater. PhD, however, compares him to a piece of cheesecake in swim trunks. Call me crazy, but that does not sound appealing. I don’t particularly like cheesecake, but even if I did… In any case, date one starts off on a helicopter ride. Duh. I am actually furious by how repetitive and boring Ben’s dates are. And yet he has the gall to describe this date as “unique” and “special,” at which point I nearly threw my remote at the TV. The date involves jumping out of the helicopter into the “blue hole.”
(A) What would Freud have to say about this?
(B) Why doesn’t a single girl ever tell Ben, “No, I don’t want to do this and if this is your thing, then we’re probably not that compatible”?
Horsey literally says, “I could die any second, but like a relationship….” - this is not a good comparison. At all. Just stop. And Ben. Please, please stop trying to “overcome fears” with these girls. Stop saying, “If we can do this, we can do anything!” Stop taking so many helicopter rides. I am actively upset right now. The cosmetics commercial following this segment will likely be the best part of this two-hour-long block.
Horsey is “definitely falling in love with Ben.” Listen, I’m an advocate for loving people openly and not being so paranoid about telling someone you love them, particularly in a culture in which sex has become a meaningless commodity to most. In the case of this show, however, the speed at which these girls “fall in love” is absurd.
Back at the house, there’s a Courtney bitch fest. Girls, if y’all aren’t going to just murder her, then stop whining. Your inaction is frustrating. A date card comes with a horrible clue - “Do you Belize in love?” Courtney cries when the date card isn’t for her. I wonder how many bottles of Visine the producers had to supply for that little clip.
The date with Horsey is incredibly lame. Ben describes their relationship as being both funny and serious - to which Horsey actually says, “Ohmahgawd, best of both worlds!” The two decide to pen a message in a bottle, and after Ben writes “Once upon a time,” Horsey tells him she likes the story and thinks it’s very doctor-like. What? Fast forward.
PhD has the next date. She says she’s excited to fall in love. You are way behind the curve, darlin’. She has to go home this week. It’s not that I don’t like her, it’s just that she doesn’t get what’s required of her as a Bachelor contestant. Their date is “super cool and right up [his] alley,” according to Ben. So I have to imagine it involves being dirty, awkward, and perhaps riding in a helicopter. But, no. They play drums and basketball, ride bikes, and drink coconut milk. Again, I must ask - has ABC recast for the role of Ben? Next, there’s an “impromptu” dive for lobsters. Oh come on, ABC. Stop asking us to stretch the boundaries of logic. We all know this show, by its very nature, cannot be spontaneous is any way, shape, or form. I’m bored and annoyed. Fast forward.
Back at the house, Courtney is playing the sympathy card better than anyone I’ve ever seen. She is an amazing actress. Screw modeling. She’s actually convincing these girls that PhD is some kind of villain (okay, mostly just the empty-headed Horsey, but still). Hopefully someone will see through this. Her interview is a bit more honest. She admits that she isn’t ready to bring Ben home to her family and says that it “sucks” because she “really liked him” - not loved him. Which is not unreasonable. Just an ill-advised comment to make in the context of this show. However, Ben consistently defies logic, so this admission likely won’t make a bit of difference.
Ben and PhD appear to be having a fun date and he has very complimentary things to say about her. She’s the only girl on this show who can actually hold a conversation and not sound like a dumb twat, and I respect that. I’m actually starting to feel sorry that this girl will be forever ruined by participating in this show.
Oh wow, back at the house, we get a side shot of the Southern Alcoholic’s face, and she literally looks like a 47-year-old trailer park resident. So much so that I didn’t recognize her for a few seconds. And Courtney gets the next date. Her pathetic, whiny act immediately gets dropped. Though Kacie B. takes on a new role that is highly reminiscent of the sisters in The Fighter - she just starts swearin’ up a storm and threatening Courtney’s life.
I’m having a hard time bringing myself to watch the Courtney date at all. But I’ll suffer through it, just for y’all. Ben takes Courtney to a Mayan temple, where she immediately starts talking about human sacrifice. How does Ben not realize she’s going to murder him in the near future? Courtney then begins to make threats and tells Ben that he’s in a precarious position with her. Damn. Why didn’t ABC cast her for The Bachelorette?
In the meantime, the girls bitch about Courtney and describe her as a black widow who is digging her own grave. PhD says she will never mention this to Ben again and that she thinks he’s perceptive enough to just get it. Yeah. Keep dreaming.
Back at the Temple of Doom, Ben says he wants a “weird,” “edgy” girl like Courtney. Thus making him the least perceptive person on earth. To be fair though, Courtney is the girl who managed to make the sentence “This is steep” sound sexual. Before this horrible date ends, we see a shadow from a helicopter overhead. This show is single-handedly employing every helicopter pilot in the Americas.
Chicken McBites commercial! Processed, fried chicken is going to be on my mind all night. Breakfast, perhaps.
Back to the date. Courtney is so fake I could literally claw her eyes out. I just hate her. I also think this show is elevating my anxiety. Fast forward.
We find out that Kacie B., Piercing, and Southern Alcoholic get the three-on-one date. That sounds like a bad porno. Back on the date, Courtney shits on all of the other women, and Ben essentially responds with, “Look at all the fuck I do not give.” When PhD did this about one girl, Ben lost his cool. Now that Coutney’s doing the same thing about all of the girls, he’s as chill as a Flintstones Push-Up Pop. I tried to fast forward through this exchange, but my remote didn’t respond. I nearly had a panic attack.
Time for the next date! In the process of Ben retrieving the three ladies at 4:00am, we find out that these girls all have to sleep together. This is so jenky, ABC. Don’t be cheap like that. We then have to watch the girls hurriedly shave their armpits, legs, and bikini areas in preparation for their date. I am not pleased by this, ABC producers. That’s just rude and overly personal. Especially on a show that absolutely does not value reality in any form.
I fast forwarded through half of this date. There was kissing, scuba diving, and jealousy. Kacie B. starts letting her crazy, redneck tendencies get the better of her. She is consumed by jealousy.
Oh my god. ABC is now sponsoring “Marry Me Monday” with Jared the Galleria of Jewelry (that isn’t an overly long name at all). This must be its attempt to make up for the fact that no one in 16 seasons of The Bachelor has ever had a happy or long-lasting relationship.
Back on the date, Southern Alcoholic is slurring and talking to trees and seashells. I can’t. This is too easy. And back at the house, Courtney casually mentions that she had a “late night” with Ben. To be fair, they played Scattergories in their flannels. But the other girls are still pissed. Ben finally gives Kacie B. some attention on this date, at which point she flat out tells him she’s falling in love. I’ve never seen a guy look closer to vomiting while sober. He is not happy.
Okay. Date rose time. It’s a “big rose,” according to Ben. You can see his envy. And, wait what? Kacie B. gets the rose. Maybe the sun was just in Ben’s eyes before.
And now - Rose Ceremony! This took me more like 40 minutes to get to tonight. I think I need to replace my remote batteries. I’m waiting for the Courtney and Ben hook up sesh confrontation. However, Courtney doesn’t have a care in the world at this juncture and is totally focused on her frozen piña colada (see the title above), which annoys the other girls. How are they not just finding her antics hilarious at this point? After waxing poetic about her skanky frozen beverage, Courtney informs the other women that Ben is not the only guy in the world - to which PhD whispers angrily to Horsey, “Did she just say that Ben is not the only guy in the world?” Amazing. Why do these women make my job so easy? Finally, Chris Harrison appears and breaks up this lovely gathering to inform the women that there will be no cocktail reception - Ben has actually made up his mind about something for a change and doesn’t need any additional time. Rachel is already crying in an interview, and I have to wonder when this little snippet was filmed - before or after the outcome of the Rose Ceremony? Courtney continues to say awesome and horrible things (“I’m sure we’re all ready to go home in some way - some of us for Ben to meet our families, some of us just to go home.”).
The Rose Ceremony finally gets underway, and it looks like ABC has purchased some non-awful ties for Ben - just kidding, it’s still terrible, but at least it’s normal-sized. Ben starts the Ceremony by “stealing Courtney away.” Either they’re going to have sex or he’s going to send her home. He’s so pathetic and submissive throughout this encounter. I have to wonder if his mangina has some sort of uncomfortable infection that’s diminishing his ability to act like a man. However, we don’t see the culmination of their conversation. Instead, the two simply return to the group with a bit of awkward tension between them. Leaving me to assume that they had sex. And my suspicions are “confirmed” when Ben picks Courtney over Piercing and PhD. We all knew this was coming, but it’s harder to stomach than I anticipated. Courtney frolics over to accept her rose from Ben - barefoot. This bitch couldn’t even be bothered to put on shoes. That’s how much of a shit she does not give. But at least we learn that the clip of Piercing crying from earlier was actually filmed after the Rose Ceremony.
Next week - there will be strange horse-drawn carriages, overly protective parents, angry fathers, and awkward admissions. Oh, and a visit with Courtney’s sister. Who is Khloe Kardashian’s doppelganger. I can’t wait. Too bad I finished all of my cookie dough this weekend and have yet to get my hands on some Xanax.
"Should I just bend over and take it up the tailpipe?"
Before I start this recap, I just want to take a second and remind the world that the man pictured above is the person that 30 women quit their jobs and left their families and friends to pursue. That being said, let’s get started!
In the intro to this episode, we’ve already travelled to a new country, been on a helicopter ride, and taken all of our clothes off (Courtney…). So, we’ve basically seen the entire episode. But I’ll go ahead and subject myself to emotional torture for a bit longer. Thankfully, I was able to DVR this entire episode and thus could fast forward through large chunks of it.
The group goes to Panama this week. I guess we can figure out who our felon was (the Accountant), since the group is now free to leave the country. Donald Trump gets a very unneeded plug for his gaudy hotel (is The Apprentice moving to ABC, or something?). Courtney quickly expresses a desire to get naked and go skinny dipping with Ben once more. Please god, no.
Ben arrives, and his balls look like they want to run away - his shorts are just so damn tight. And he’s acting like a dumb 11-year-old, per the usual. He describes this as a fresh start - meaning this is day one of his post-Courtney hook-up gonorrhea.
Kacie B. correctly predicts that she’s going to get the first date. She pretends to be nervous. This makes me hate her, suddenly. I realize she’s a fake bitch. And I have to agree with Courtney - ick - that Kacie B. is annoying. Kacie B. says this date is going to potentially change her life. Yeah. Either you’re dying in a fiery helicopter crash, catching an STD, or going home to be single and jobless. Or so I hope…
This is the most boring date, ever. Helicopters. Sightseeing. Water. Jungles. Sand. Ben worries that they’ll run out of things to talk about. I haven’t heard them speak more than two words yet, and we’re only a minute or two into the date. Kacie B. had to pack three things - she chose a monkey (what???), a corkscrew (with a knife, as she emphasizes), and some unhealthy snack. Ben brought a machete, a fishing net (i.e. rope), and matches. So he’s not sending Kacie B. home. He’s killing her and leaving her body on this deserted island. Have fun defending yourself with that dinky knife! Kacie B. even says that, sometimes, couples don’t survive together. She’s more intuitive than I thought! She then says that it’s hot watching Ben hack apart a coconut. She’s probably some kind of masochistic freak. I’m sorry, but I am not trying to watch Survivor: Murder Edition. Fast forward. By the way, Kacie B.’s bikini didn’t match. I hate that. It makes me actively angry. And, also Ben, being able to cut open a coconut together does not mean y’all can do anything.
Ben and Kacie B. have dinner. She says she likes to go to the grocery store and the gym. Big time. This girl is pure excitement.
Another date card comes. Group date. Ew. Piercing and Hooters realize they have the two-on-one. I hope they have to fight to the death. Or maybe they’ll just turn lesbian for each other. I mean, Hooters does say it’s going to be “amazing” - and she’s the one who almost hooked up with a girl on night one, mind you.
Back to the dinner. It’s so, so boring. They have nothing to talk about. Ben looks like a butch lesbian camp counselor. Kacie B. says she feels old. Ben says she seems so mature. This is obviously on a relative basis. She starts talking about her high school eating disorder. Oh my god. This girl is an idiot. It’s confirmed. Ben now knows you are a bag of crazy. She even admits that she actually used to make herself puke. Ben looks like he’s about to faint. He is literally dripping with sweat. This cannot end well. But this is Ben we’re talking about. So she gets the date rose.
Ben and the other girls then go on the group date. It involves nature. And being dirty and hot and probably catching malaria. One of the girls describes Ben as being “sexy” and a “man’s man” - please, everyone, reference the photo above. This girl must be legally blind. Another describes how cool it is that the boat is a hollowed out tree. Like hundreds of thousands of other boats constructed in the history of the world. The group comes across some native children who literally flee from them. So, of course, they chase them. ABC makes the natives put on clothing. And then the group basically mocks their culture. Don’t fear though, Courtney is here to keep it real. She strips to be “more like the natives,” to be “one with nature.” PhD is obviously furious.
Horsey says she wants to be a member of Ben’s cult tribe. Ben just wants to stare at Courtney’s tits. Things happen. ABC makes the natives wait on the girls hand and foot. This is embarrassing for everyone. As is Courtney’s nameplate necklace. It’s not just Hooters who has one. I suddenly want a nameplate necklace, too. What the hell?
PhD can’t talk about anything but Courtney. She is gone this episode, I feel it. Oh my god, I think I just saw Ben’s ball sack. Fast forward.
More things happen. People chat and make out. Courtney gives Ben her room number and suggests that he come over so he can repay some favor - I can’t imagine what that might be. She says she thinks he’s itching for more one-on-one time with her - that’s not why he’s itching, Courtney.
More things happen. More people talk. PhD says she has another man in her life - ha, psych! JK, LOLZ! She’s talking about the tribal chief. Hahaha. So funn-ee. Especially since someone is about to get kicked off by ABC for that very offense.
Horsey gets the date rose. Her hair is so awful - i.e. she and Ben are a perfect match. Oh, and Courtney gets stood up by Ben later that night.
Two-on-one date time. This is four seconds away from a porno. Ben’s shorts are so tight. Again. That boner is going to be very hard to hide - ha, pun. They go dancing. I’m bored. Fast forward. God. Is there no A/C in Panama? Everyone is so sweaty. This is no bueno for Ben’s hair. They should have gone solely to arctic countries. Dinner is awkward. Everyone is silent. I hope he sends both girls home. Ben makes out with Piercing first. She moves her mouth like her jaw is dislocated. Then Hooters gives him a scrapbook. She must have huffed a lot of glue in the process of making that bad boy to think this was a good idea. And, finally, a semi-logical choice from Ben. He picks Piercing. Hooters actually runs away. She and Ben have a great little confrontation. I was expecting her to shiv him. She didn’t, sadly. But Ben totally abandons Piercing. Poor girl. Although she describes her night as being “perfect.” Really? Her night represented literally my worst dating nightmare. Hooters finally leaves. We see a montage of stray cats as she departs. Thank you, ABC. I loved that.
Finally. Drama. Chris Harrison confronts the near mute about her back-home-boy. And now she speaks. She says she might need therapy. And more or less admits that she is in love with her ex. Chris makes her go and talk to Ben. Who gets weirdly parental with her. She says all she wants is to get married. To someone. And have an escape from her ex. She’s so selfish. Ben asks her to leave. Then she moves from speaking to just generally making a lot of noise. She is the ugliest cryer. Ever. Of all time. She’s such a pretty girl, too. And one of the best dressed. Oh. By the way. The other girls all stood around and watched most this go down. They didn’t even try to be discreet. Love it!
On to the rose ceremony. Thank god. I’ve gotten this far in 34 minutes. Some girl I’ve never seen decides she needs to up the sex appeal to be more like Courtney. Except what follows is like your awkward first kiss at age 13. She sets it up for so long that Ben is expecting way more than a kiss. She also rips her dress, gives him ten minutes worth of weird and contradictory kissing instructions, and pretends like she actually just wants to get really freaky with him. I had to hide behind my hands for most of this. I have never felt so uncomfortable, ever. I never want to date again if there is even the slightest chance of it being like this. Ben’s interaction with this girl might as well have been with me - it was truly that painful to watch. And. Big, huge, massive surprise. Ben does not give her a rose. Two smart decisions in one episode. Did ABC switch actors for the role of Ben?
Next week. Another tropical country. This won’t be redundant. Someone is actually going to use the “love” word to Ben’s face! And Ben might be seeing Courtney’s true colors. And by that I mean - does the carpet match the drapes? Not - is she as much of a bitch as the rest of the world says she is?
Well, I’m exhausted now. And, for the first time, I think I want to be single. Forever. Dating is terrifying.
P.S. Yes, the title is a Courtney quote. No, it is not something she said to Ben.
When I was a sophomore in college, someone introduced me to the magic that is Old Gregg from The Mighty Boosh. For anyone who hasn’t seen the Old Gregg skit, I’m not going to go so far as to recommend watching it, but I wouldn’t tell you not to, either. In any event, there is an amazing, epic, wonderful song in this skit titled “Love Games” - and, truly, it is about 1,072 times better than Lady Gaga’s song of the same name.
The song features Old Gregg asking his hostage whether or not the hostage is playing “love games” with him. Lyrics such as these represent a dramatic shift from music popular in the mid-twentieth century, which often contained lyrics that, today, would be better suited for a Lifetime move script centered around stalking. Mel Carter once sang, “Hold me, never let me go, until you’ve told me what I want to know…,” while The Temptations crooned, “I know you wanna leave me, but I refuse to let you go.” Honestly, I can’t even type these lyrics out without thinking to myself, “What a psycho, stalker, loser.” And yet, I think my reaction is just a sign of the changing times. Because I doubt, given the number of songs with lyrics like that from the 1950s and 1960s, that people in our parents’ generation (or a bit older than our parents, perhaps) would have been similarly phased. The singers of yesteryear weren’t concerned with sounding pathetic or obsessive. They weren’t anxiety-ridden about the possibility of saying something dumb or showing too much emotion or making an unattractive face that might turn the other person off forever. In comparison, the lyrics of Old Gregg’s “Loves Games” bring to light how ridiculous it is that the modern-day dating scene comes with so many “rules” and “love games.”
Below are some of the dating “rules” that I’ve picked up over the years, most of which dictate how I handle myself with members of the opposite sex that I have even the slightest interest in. Many of these go out the window once you’re in a long-term, committed relationship - but, for the period of time where they “must” be adhered to, they make things unnecessarily difficult and stressful:
Don’t double text. If you say anything that goes unresponded to, you cannot text that person again unless it’s been at least several days or it’s an emergency of sorts.
Don’t send another text if the last one you received was under three words. If you’ve gotten a “No,” “Yup,” “Yah, “Ha,” “Haha,” “Cool,” “I see,” “OK,” or anything like that - don’t say anything else.
Don’t send a text that’s longer than 5 lines on the iPhone screen - even if that means you have to replace “and” with “&” and “with” with “w/” just to save space. It doesn’t matter if you’re just telling a story - if your text looks overly long, guys will think you’re insane and probably prone to annoying text message rants.
Don’t friend a guy on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and follow him on Foursquare in the same week - or perhaps even in the same month. In fact, don’t ever be the one to place the Facebook friend request, and then don’t even think about a Twitter or Foursquare connection, where applicable, until a DTR has taken place.
Don’t communicate in too many different forms. If you typically text message, don’t suddenly initiate a Gchat - otherwise, the guy will feel as though you’re attacking him from too many different angles. If the guy decides to Facebook chat or Gchat you, however, certainly respond. But in a nonchalant way, obviously.
Don’t message a guy too quickly when you see him pop up on Facebook chat or Gchat. It looks as though you’re creepily waiting for him. Actually, just ignore him altogether unless he reaches out to you first.
Don’t mention a guy’s status update, Facebook picture, blog post, check-in, or Tweet in conversation. It confirms that you do the “stalkerish” things that he assumes you do (and that he does too) but is still freaked out by.
Girls should initiate dates at the very beginning - it makes you look cool and confident. After the third date, however, never initiate a hang-out. Otherwise, you just look obsessive.
Never be the first person to describe a hang-out as a “date.”
Don’t be the one to suggest hanging out more than once in any one week period.
Don’t tell a guy he was in your dream. It could be totally no big deal in actuality, but once you say “So, you were in my dream and….” he’ll stop listening and start thinking instead about what a crazy you are.
Don’t. Show. Any. Emotions. At all. I’m not counting “happiness” or “glee” - those are just part of the “I’m cute, you should like me” act.
Just writing this list was exhausting - so imagine how tiring it is to actually adhere to all of these rules. To be fair, I have certainly been known to break some of these. But I try really hard - maybe too hard - to abide by them. It seems to me that technology has made dating so much more challenging, as there is a new standard of actual and implied dating etiquette that has sprung up since the creation and popularization of text messaging, email, instant messaging, Facebook/Facebook chat, Twitter, and Foursquare. And it really just makes dating not fun. I mean, just look at my list. The majority of my “rules” pertain to virtual communication. One day, I hope this all gets easier. Do you all have any other dating “rules” that should be added to this list?
James Brown once wailed, “This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world/But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.” And I’d have to agree with him. This is still, sadly, a man’s world – despite all of the strides women have made in my mere 23 years on this earth. However, I might disagree that – at this point – people truly realize that the world would be “nothing” without women. Certainly, no one can deny the importance of women as “incubators” for and mothers of the world’s children – but how many people see women as being integral to other functions in society? Universities might cite the move to coeducation as a major reason for their ascent in the rankings; employers might claim that increased innovation and success are the result of their increasingly diverse employee bases. However, do they – or anyone else – truly believe these claims? Or do we all generally believe that growth and development are byproducts of better technology, more years of experience, and the like? As I see it, the world largely continues to run as it did in the era so lovingly portrayed in Mad Men and in the years predating that – without much regard for the role of women outside of the home. Which is incredibly short-sighted given research such as that discussed in a 2011 Harvard Business Review article titled “Defend Your Research: What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women”. In this article, Professors Woolley and Malone of Carnegie Mellon and MIT, respectively, explained that women are incredibly additive to a team. Though a team’s collective intelligence shows very little correlation to the members’ individual IQs, if it includes more women, its collective intelligence increases. Other factors like group satisfaction, group cohesion, or group motivation showed no correlation to collective intelligence. Still though, the professional world continues to operate much like a good ol’ boys’ club.
So what are women doing to change this dynamic? If women inserted themselves more wholeheartedly in the same type of professional arenas as men, might there be a real opportunity to diminish this “man’s world” mentality? And that begs the question – why are there so few female entrepreneurs working to change the male-centric mindset of our society, and why are those women who do try their hand at entrepreneurship limiting themselves, for the most part, to hyper-feminine pursuits (in the most traditional sense of the word “feminine”)? Certainly, we need more women starting businesses of any type as a means to both resolve gender inequality in the world of start-ups and lead to broader economic expansion – but when do women start moving beyond the gender-constrained ventures that they seem to have a penchant for? Undoubtedly, there is a need for the female-oriented products and services that female entrepreneurs seem uniquely capable of offering due to their more complete understanding of the needs of women. However, if there were more female entrepreneurs overall, could they fill the void of products and services for women in our presently male dominated society while also starting other businesses that are gender neutral or traditionally masculine?
What originally got me thinking about this topic was my inability to find a dry cleaner that caters to women – sometimes, the most trivial “struggles” spark outrage and then critical thought. In New York, there is a dry cleaner on nearly every corner (they probably even outnumber Starbucks locations), and yet none of them are truly equipped to handle women’s clothing. In my experience, the machinery found at a cleaner is designed for men’s clothing, as many cleaners (or the machinery in their shops) have been around since the days when only a handful of women worked outside of the home and had a wardrobe (beyond gowns and the like) that required professional cleaning. As such, most cleaners must hand iron women’s shirts rather than use automated machines that are sized for men’s shirts – meaning that women’s shirts often cost significantly more than men’s to clean and iron. And when you can earn that kind of profit margin off of women – who, anecdotally speaking, are probably more concerned with the cleanliness and care of their clothing than men and thus have few other alternatives to paying these exorbitant prices – well then why would you invest in machinery sized to women’s clothing? And the profit margin really is huge. As cited in a Wall Street Journal article titled “The New Dirt on Dry Cleaners,” a 2009 study by Floyd Advisory LLC found that women pay, on average, 73% more than men for laundered shirts since “…women’s shirts don’t fit in [cleaners’] industrial presses as well as men’s and must be ironed by hand.”
If more women got into the dry cleaning business, would this problem be solved? Unisex pressing machines do exist – might female-owned dry cleaners utilize them in order to ensure that women wouldn’t have to pay so much more than men? Assuming the volume of female clients they could attract via a less discriminatory pricing scheme would outweigh the profit margin that can currently be made on women’s cleaning versus men’s, there should not be any conflict with the profit-motivation of these female business owners. In general, do we believe that it takes a woman to meet the needs of other women in society?
Perhaps ventures like this are good launching pads for female entrepreneurs. If women began to actively investigate opportunities to start their own businesses with the goal of providing themselves and other women with the products and services they need or want but cannot currently find, we could potentially see an increase in female entrepreneurship. However, this should just be a starting point. Female entrepreneurial pursuits should not be limited by gender norms, even if such pursuits legitimately fulfill the unmet needs of women and could be profitable ventures. Nonetheless, any female foray into the start-up world would be welcomed, as it is currently woefully lacking in female presence.
In a September 2011 study titled “Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers,” the Kauffman Foundation reported that only 35% of start-up owners are women – even though women account for roughly 46% of the workforce and more than 50% of college students. As Lesa Mitchell explained in the report, women have been able to break the “glass ceiling” and move up in the corporate world, but they have found themselves largely unable to break the “glass walls” that prevent them from moving laterally from a corporate job to a start-up. The root of this problem is not entirely clear, but is certainly multi-faceted. Studies have shown that a combination of factors limit female entrepreneurship or diminish the success of entrepreneurial endeavors undertaken by women: the desire for greater work/life balance than men, a fear of taking risk, greater difficultly securing funding (venture funds controlled by women are far more likely to invest in female-led start ups than those controlled by men – and only 14% of venture funds are led by women, according to the National Venture Capital Association), less financial security than men, and a narrow-minded view of potential due to a lifetime of both overt and subliminal gender stereotyping.
In 2007, the United States Small Business Administration (“SBA”) Office of Advocacy published a study titled “Are Male and Female Entrepreneurs Really That Different?”, in which it reported that gender in and of itself does not affect the gender imbalance in the start-up world or the performance of start-ups. Rather, other factors that vary between genders impacts outcomes. In summary, it found that men had more prior business experience, were willing to spend more money on their start-up, were more likely to start a business with the goal of making money, did more research to identify opportunities, and were more likely to start a tech-oriented business, while women had larger than average households to care for, were less likely to purchase their businesses, and were more likely to prefer low risk/return businesses – all factors that favor the success of male entrepreneurs over females.
Despite their marginal presence in the world of start-ups, female entrepreneurs seem to be a hot topic in a world that increasingly values independent thought and entrepreneurial spirit as a means to bolster the depressed economy and even bring about economic expansion. However, many of the discussions about and literature pertaining to female entrepreneurship are constrained by gender stereotyping, both purposeful and subconscious. Articles that detail the steps to success for female-led ventures often focus not on the technology needed to run a successful start-up or on tips for raising capital, but rather, on avoiding “late-night ice cream binges” brought on by guilt over having to be away from a young child at home. They describe networking opportunities taking place on a playground, a PTA meeting, or at a school event – locations that could all very well present rewarding networking opportunities but seem laughably narrow-minded and antiquated. Female entrepreneurs are often labeled with happy-go-lucky terms like “mompreneur” – though I haven’t seen cutesy, semi-demeaning labels applied to men who strike out on their own. Instead, you might see “visionary,” “revolutionary,” or the like used to describe a male entrepreneur. Even though many male entrepreneurs are husbands and/or fathers, you rarely see that part of their life influence the public perception of their entrepreneurial efforts in any meaningful way.
In March 2011, the New York Times spotlighted three books on female entrepreneurship – The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Single. Women. Entrepreneurs., and Minority Women Entrepreneurs. The women highlighted in these books include one who make dresses in an oppressive, war-torn nation, a Southern “mompreneur” (their word choice, not mine) who opens her own cupcake shop, and a woman who “rescues” and “rehabilitates” discarded mannequins. Even though all of these women have been “empowered” by their entrepreneurial pursuits, the ways in which they seek “independence,” or perhaps just self-fulfillment, are limited to the scope of normative gender roles.
Also in 2011, Inc. magazine published its annual 30 Under 30 list, which included 13 women – a great honor for all of the female entrepreneurs included. And, certainly, all of them are amazing, confident, and talented businesswomen. However, taking a look at the companies that some have founded serves to further the notion that women tend to be more inwardly focused and limited in scope of thought when determining their business ventures. Birchbox, The Shirt by Rochelle Behrens, The Refine Method, and Gianna Fair Trade made Inc.’s list – all of which skew to the highly feminine side. To be fair though, there are a number of female-led ventures on this list that are decidedly unfeminine. These include a private jet charter service, an app to recommend restaurants, a Vietnamese food truck, and an online money management company.
The portfolio of Golden Seeds, one of the most prominent venture capital funds for female-led start-ups that also happens to be run by all women, also indicates that many businesses founded by women are still highly feminine. Such investments include Dancing Deer Baking Company, DRY Soda, FashionPlaytes, gDiapers, Little Passports, Lovesac, RuMe Bags, and sweetriot. However, the majority of Golden Seeds’ investments are decidedly gender neutral, if not seemingly masculine – Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, Carnegie Speech Company, Chromis Fiberoptics, Cognition Therapeutics, Crimson Hexagon, eJamming, Hatsize, LARK, the New Century Brewing Company, Open Road, HarQen, Proto, RedPath Integrated Pathologiy, Saladax Biomedical, TowerCare Technologies, and ZeeToo, Inc. This portfolio mix between traditionally “feminine” and “masculine” products and services proves that women are more than capable of starting businesses in the tech space or in other sectors that are completely unrelated to childcare, shopping, fashion, beauty, or the like.
Regardless though, the nationwide trend is still toward female-led ventures that are feminine in nature. In 2006, two studies – “Does The Business Start-Up Process Differ by Gender? A Longitudinal Study of Nascent Entrepreneurs” and “Women’s Entrepreneurship in the United States” – more or less confirmed what we can attest to anecdotally. Statistics have shown that women are more likely to start businesses within the personal services and retail trade sectors, while male-led businesses are more likely to be found in the manufacturing and tech spaces. Because women tend to pursue business opportunities to provide income for themselves and their nuclear families, their focus is not typically on business models with high growth trajectories – which is fitting, given that retail and personal services businesses are unlikely to inspire thoughts of global domination. In addition, Astia research published in 2010 showed that women only account for 8% of the venture-backed tech start-ups. As the previously mentioned SBA study asserted, this may be the result of “..socialization and structural barriers” – women are typically employed in industries and occupations that society has deemed “appropriate” for women and thus tend to stick to these same industries when they start their own businesses, as they feel most comfortable in those spaces.
Nowhere is the trend of women starting highly feminine businesses better documented than in the field of microfinance, in which micro loans are made to individuals in developing nations to start their own businesses such that they can operate outside of oppressive and discriminatory “economic” systems found in their respective nations. The majority of micro loans are made to women, as women have proven themselves to be more responsible with their loans. According to Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking (“WWB”), 82% of the client bases of the 39 microfinance organizations the WWB works with in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East are women entrepreneurs. As explained by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, impoverished women in developing nations have better credit ratings than their male peers. In Bangladesh, for example, women have defaulted less often on loans than men. As compared to men, women are more likely to put their loans to good use, more likely to pay them back, and more likely to work collectively with other women in their community to advance the whole. Men have frequently squandered their loans, failed to invest the proceeds of their ventures wisely (purchasing consumer goods is the most likely outcome), and refused to work with others to advance the community as a whole and improve business opportunities for themselves and others. Though the success of women in the world of microfinance is undeniable, it’s interesting to examine what these women are actually doing with their loans. Making jewelry. Sewing dresses. Handcrafting pottery. All of which are perfectly legitimate trades and are certainly empowering insomuch as they lead to financial independence, confidence, pride, etc. However, they seem to confine women to the usual mother, caretaker, homemaker roles prescribed to them by men for centuries (or, really, millennia). These women likely do not have the education or “professional background” necessary to start any type of “tech” business like we would hope women in developed nations would found, but why aren’t more of them farming, producing animal products, etcetera?
Not only are the ventures of female entrepreneurs in these developing nations seemingly constrained by gender norms, but as microfinance goes “mainstream,” the number of female clients served by microfinance institutions tends to decline sharply. As microfinance institutions have grown and transitioned from NGOs to for-profit entities, fewer loans have been made to women. A 2008 report published by WWB showed that two organizations that made the switch from not-for-profit to for-profit saw their percentage of female clients decrease 28%, on average, in the five years following the switch. To me, this can only indicate that, as for-profit entities, these organizations begin to subscribe to conventional (i.e. archaic) notions that men make better businesspeople and entrepreneurs than women. I cannot think of any other logical explanation given that women have more than proven their ability to utilize micro loans to start successful businesses, repay their loans, and bolster the economic health of their communities.
So – what do we do to compel more women around the world to explore their entrepreneurial sides, how do we better ensure the success of female-led ventures, and how do we encourage women to think outside of the rather narrow confines of the sectors in which they tend to feel “most appropriate” or “most comfortable” working? Given the multitude of factors that influence the types of ventures women pursue, the diminished success of female-led ventures as compared to those led by men, and the overall lack of female entrepreneurship, there is clearly no silver bullet. The core of the problem, however, relates to deeply engrained gender stereotypes and commonly accepted gender norms in the business world – which cannot be changed overnight. There are steps that can be taken to ameliorate the issues relating to female entrepreneurship, however. The Kauffman Foundation provided several “Actionable Next Steps” in its aforementioned report – (1) provide greater funding for initiatives aimed at advancing opportunities for female entrepreneurs, (2) create more formal networking opportunities for women with heads of start-ups and large companies, (3) make female entrepreneurs and investors more visible and establish formal and informal mentoring, and (4) invite more women to join the boards of tech companies such that the focus of female-led ventures expands beyond the retail and personal service sectors. We could also promote tech-oriented college majors, more actively recruit women into tech-oriented careers such that they have the comfort level to start their own businesses in that sector, establish more or better partnerships between venture capital firms and female entrepreneurs and groups that promote female entrepreneurship, and create more online resources for women considering starting their own businesses or better promote those that do exist – such as The Daily Muse, Ladies Who Launch, SMARTY., Women 2.0, Savor the Success, In Good Company, and the YEC (although the latter is not specially focused on women, it has a strong female presence).
To play devil’s advocate just a bit though, I have to ask the question – is my analysis somewhat unfair? Perhaps I am simply perpetuating the application of stereotypes to women and their ventures. Maybe there is nothing wrong with women staring businesses that some may deem “girly” when in fact they are meeting unmet needs of their peers and thus are pursuing ventures with a higher probability for success than something they have less experience with, something that there is less of a need for, etcetera. And maybe it’s not so wrong for women to pursue stereotypically “feminine” ventures when men are seemingly doing the same thing by starting “masculine” businesses instead of designing clothing, giving dating advice, or creating learning software for young children (though there are certainly examples of men doing all three).
Nonetheless, there is in indisputable problem with the lack of female entrepreneurship in our society and the hardship that women seem to face in getting their businesses off the ground as compared to their male peers. I hope that our society more wholeheartedly embraces the idea of female entrepreneurship and works to promote the start-up avenue for women – particularly in sectors that will help women across the world to branch out into jobs that do not fall within gender stereotypes. And if this goal is accomplished in my lifetime, I hope that one day I will find a dry cleaner that targets women – if I don’t just open one myself!
The Bachelor is like an STD. In the case of STDs, you’re terribly afraid of catching one and very, very upset if you do - but you just like sex so much that you’re willing to put yourself in harms way. Likewise, I know I shouldn’t be watching The Bachelor, I know it’s not good for me, I know I’ll get sucked in by the Maury-like drama, I know I’ll regret wasting these hours of my life at some later date - but I perversely enjoy the sheer ridiculousness of this show so much that I cannot stop watching.
Tonight’s episode started with - believe it or not - the group traveling to a new location. At this point, I’m just wondering if they’re being asked to leave every town in which they show up to film after day two. If I was the mayor of San Francisco, I certainly would have banned ABC, Ben, and all those semi-crazy women from my town after that obnoxious skiing stunt. Similarly, if I was the mayor of the community in Utah where they filmed last week, I would want The Bachelor to leave as quickly as possible so as to avoid reinforcing our polygamy stereotype.
In any event, this week, the group goes to Puerto Rico - which is obviously just the pinnacle of romance and luxury, as evidenced by this not at all low-budget tourism ad. Which of these ladies has a criminal record that’s preventing the group from leaving the country? When Ben arrives and conducts his first interview about how beautiful all his women and Puerto Rico are - you can see the little boy fantasies swirling in his head - I almost gagged from how absolutely sick and disgusting his hair looked. It has never been so greasy, frizzy, center-parted, and flippy all at once. I had to look away. Thankfully, his gaggle of women quickly comes bounding onto the scene, skipping across the beach as though they were auditioning for the Sports Illustrated Special Ed Swimsuit Edition.
They are quickly led to their hotel, where they all pee their pants over a couple of round, purple sofas. I’ve never seen a single person - let alone an entire group of people - get so excited over a sofa. Or over any piece of furniture. They all pile on like a bunch of overeager puppies - not cute ones, either. I started to wonder if perhaps some of these women were homeless before coming on the show (“The Bachelor - three hots, a cot, and pubic lice.”). If not, they will likely be once they get kicked off of the show, as most of these women gave up their jobs for filthy serial killer/man-child Ben.
The Southern girl with the ruddy, alcoholic face gets the first date of the trip. She expresses how sad she’ll be if she gets sent home. Duh. I feel like they must just give these women a teleprompter to read from - they all say the same things, and I doubt most of them are capable of stringing together a coherent sentence independently. The date starts out in a helicopter. Surprise. I read some interview with Ben over the course of the past week where he mentioned that someone told him he needed to bring back helicopter dates, “…like on the ‘old school’ Bachelor episodes.” As if this show has been on since the 1970s. I know the attention spans of the individuals on this show are so short that it might seem as though the show has been around that long, but it really, really has not. In any case - Ben, mission accomplished. You have brought back helicopters in a big way.
Once they exit the helicopter, it promptly starts raining. I was so relieved that Ben had another wet hair moment to help me temporarily forget how slimy his hair is. Ben explains that they had an exciting date of “walking around” planned, but that his grand plans have been ruined by the rain. And the fact that they’re apparently being chased by a cat. Ben then states that you can’t travel without something going wrong. Which might explain why this show is such an epic failure. Perhaps if they weren’t always traveling, one Bachelor would actually have a successful relationship.
Ben and the Southern alcoholic then decide to buy new clothing so they don’t start to mildew (Ben’s hair is always in some state of partial mildew, so he really doesn’t need to let the stench get any worse). Ben says stupid things in Spanish and throws on an entirely white outfit. It looks like something your dad might pack to wear to the “fancy dinner” on your five-day-long Christmas vacation cruise to the Caribbean and Mexico. Meanwhile, the Southern alcoholic dons a tablecloth. They’re halfway to the most embarrassing family vacation portrait of all time. They then go sit and watch some people get married. Because that’s a totally normal first date. The Southern alcoholic begins having flashbacks of her previous marriage. She says that watching the wedding brings back “old feelings,” but then flip-flops and says it just increases her feelings for Ben. I’m pretty sure she’s drunk or that there are some kind of noxious chemicals in the fabric of her tablecloth dress that are going to her head.
The date closes out with a glass a few bottles of wine on one of those incredibly exciting couches. Ben continues to try his hand at speaking in other languages. Somehow, calling wine “vino” was more upsetting than when he said things like, “It’s raining gatos.” The conversation takes an uncomfortable turn when the Southern alcoholic starts talking about how much she wants to be married again - because, obviously, her first marital failure presents many compelling reasons for Ben to give her the date rose and, later, make her his wife. Ben proves how out-of-touch he is with adult emotions when he asks, “How do you deal with divorce? Do you, like, go to counseling or something?” I felt like he was a child talking to his mom. As she gave her answer, his eyes completely glazed over and he began fiddling with his dirty hair, only furthering my impression that he has no idea what real emotions and/or adult problems are. Thankfully, we cut back to the house shortly after this moving chat.
The girl they pulled from Jerseylicious starts drunkenly whining about not going on a single one-on-one date. I’m thinking she’s the next pageant girl. Hooters begins reprimanding her, but I couldn’t really focus on what she was saying because her ridiculous nameplate necklace was so distracting. The next date card arrives. The clue has something to do with diamonds, and you can see all of the girls’ brains totally turn to mush after the word “diamonds” is read aloud. Hooters doesn’t get picked, and she expresses disappointment over not being able to show Ben her “fun” and “romantic” sides - i.e. her left and right breasts. But then I see her later on the date, so one of us clearly misunderstood the date card.
Back to this miserable one-on-one for a second. Ben tells the Southern alcoholic that it’s OK that she was married before because she was “young” - she seems legitimately shocked, as if she had never before considered this. As soon as the light bulb in her brain gets turned on though, Ben gives her the rose and it promptly turns off. They begin sloppily tonguing each others mouths, and I had to start fast forwarding.
Ah - preview for the date coming up after the commercial. So much screaming. My ears are bleeding. Some awful Honda commercial comes on where this girl is telling her boyfriend she wants a baby. Honda knows its target market. Well done. I almost forgot we had actually cut to commercial.
On to the next date. Ben waits for the ladies outside of some ramshackle baseball stadium to “play with his balls a little ball.” The women make note of how there is no jewelry on this date. They also note that Puerto Rico is “known” for baseball and claim that having a baseball date in Puerto Rico is way better than doing something that involves diamonds. And my suspicions about a teleprompter are confirmed. Ben seems distracted at the beginning of the date by his hair and tight shorts. The women are distracted by each other’s neon attire and the attractive baseball player giving them “lessons” - I vote for them leaving Ben there and taking the baseball player home. His shirt says “Gigante” on it - like, hello… Then, O.M.G., Chris Harrison shows up. I think this is a first. I’m immediately so much happier. I think we should make him the next Bachelor. That is, until he reveals himself to be a catty bitch. He tells them, “We’re having this ah-mayyy-zing party, but half of you aren’t invited. Natch.” Ben agrees that this is an awesome, not-at-all drama-inducing idea. Chris then explains that one woman will play for both teams and thus will be guaranteed an invite to the super shibby beach party. As such, I was sure Ben would pick Nose Piercing. But, no. He picked Horsey. Hooters starts getting a little anxious and explains that she wants to win so badly she can taste it. I’m pretty sure she thinks “playing ball” has something to do with Ben’s groin area.
This game is, like, “CRAZY COMPETITIVE,” says the girl who’s now spoken for about 34 seconds on the show. I mean, obviously it’s, like, super intense because the girls have eye black on their faces. You know they wouldn’t mess up their makeup if it wasn’t for hardcore competition true love. Ben looks even more like a man-child in his baseball outfit, as if he’s attempting to recreate the poster for the movie Jack. It isn’t even fitted or sexy. It’s just loose and baggy and unappealing, like he bought it from a costume store that only had a size XL. Kacie B. starts to get a little wound up, and her crazy starts to reveal itself. She starts screaming “Bitches!” as mascara and eye black run down her cheeks. The baseball started getting really boring - I can’t watch more than a couple of innings of real baseball on TV, so I was definitely not committing myself to 25 minutes of Bachelor baseball. Especially when these women are talking about things like “the agony of defeat” and Ben compares the Blue Team’s loss to losing the World Series.
When her team loses, Hooters starts crying and says, “It sucks that I’m feeling so strongly for someone that I’ve only spent a small amount of time with.” No, dear, that doesn’t “suck.” It’s just an ill-advised decision that makes you look deranged. Several women make mention, through their tears, of how “precious” time with Ben is, and I just wish that one of them would use her “precious, precious time with him” to give him a bath. And not in a sexy way, either (not trying to give Courtney more ideas).
Oh my god, I’m not even halfway through this episode.
The “romantic” half group date gets underway. Courtney has a moment where she seems genuinely nice as she describes how beautiful the setting is - but then she immediately switches back to bitchiness when she mocks the “losers” and imitates them crying on the bus ride home. Really? A bus? That’s just absurd. I know Puerto Rico might not be the most luxurious place, but I think ABC could have sent the girls home in something nicer than a prison bus. I actually think there were bars on the windows. Though in about three episodes, ABC will probably need to cart a girl, or multiple girls, off to the asylum jail in a bus like that. Hopefully after said girl(s) hack Courtney up with a machete. Courtney starts talking about girls being “annoying,” “hot messes.” Homegirl, please. Until you keep your mouth closed for five minutes and tweeze your eyebrows, you’re going to have to decide if you want to be the pot or the kettle.
Ben and Kacie B. have some alone time. Ben describes his former relationships as being “interesting.” Like a bad dye job. Or an unfortunate Christmas sweater. Meanwhile, the “losers” go home and whine a lot. The PhD student looks like she’s about to vomit as she says, “So, we’re back here to hang out with….you guys.” Kacie B. gets interviewed about connecting with Ben on a “serious” level. Because hearing about his “interesting” prior relationships is, like, so deep. Sorry, sweetie, but your talk was not nearly as serious as your Jheri curl. Ben gives her the date rose because she “listens” to him - i.e. her brain doesn’t work fast enough for her to be an active participant in the conversation.
Courtney gets all pissy, of course, and says Ben needs a “woman,” not a “girl” like Kacie B. And she’s probably right. He clearly needs a Mommy. Because he’s approximately 12-years-old. So she takes him for a walk on the beach. In her acrylic heels. Yes, this is the girl who had the audacity to describe Hooters as a “stripper” during the baseball game. Annnnnd here comes the skinny dipping we’ve all been waiting for. The music leading up to this moment was incredible. Very intense. Oh wait. Nevermind. Ben pusses out - for now. But we do get some Courtney side-boob action. Gross.
Anyway, the date ends and Jerseylicious gets the next one-on-one. I’m bored already. Who is this girl? Did she just come back from a one-night-stand with The Situation? Also, why is she crying? Why did she give up her job to be here? I’m so disgusted. Fast forward. She has really ugly luggage, by the way.
My DVR totally crapped out at this point. It began to shuffle through the remainder of the episode like a sign from the heavens that I should not be watching The Bachelor. Unfortunately Thankfully, however, it was available online by the time I made it this far. But I was really tired. So I fast forwarded through most of the rest.
The date with Jerseylicious looked super boring. And, for the first time, a girl does not receive the one-on-one date rose. That’s right. Jerseylicious gets sent home. She acts surprised, but really, if Ben doesn’t give you any one-on-one time until Episode 5, you have to know he really does not give a shit about you. But keep telling yourself you’re “successful” when you go home and have no job. No wonder they showed us a close-up of her ugly, quilted luggage earlier…
When Ben returns home from his date, there’s Courtney creepily waiting for him outside of his hotel room. Which will be similar to what she does before she bludgeons him to death. Unsurprisingly, Ben doesn’t really take her creepiness poorly and, in fact, finally agrees to go skinny dipping with her. I’m sure they played just-the-tip and paintbrush. I was so disgusted by this encounter that I had to fast forward to the rose ceremony.
Courtney has some scary, Cruel Intentions slash Bad Girls Club-like comments (“You better check yourself, bitch.”). The PhD student continues to defy logic and lessons from all the prior Bachelor seasons by ragging on Courtney right to Ben’s face (like, hello dumb-dumb, he just got it in with her, he is not going to listen to you). But she doesn’t get kicked off. Shockingly, the accountant does. In my opinion, she was the only one who seemed to really like Ben and not just the idea of “winning,” (except for maybe Kacie B.) and they seemed to have chemistry and fun together (relatively speaking) even if she was a little weird and awkward at times. But Ben clearly has no idea what’s good for him. I mean, he proposed to Ashley.
The end. I’m off to find a tub of cookie dough and a tranquilizer gun.
P.S. Is anyone surprised by the title of this recap? That was probably the second best Bachelor quote ever.
As a child living in a suburban gated community, I was surrounded by “soccer moms.” I hate that term, as many of these women’s children didn’t even play soccer, but it is what it is. I would have to lump my mother into that category because - even though she worked part-time from home - her life largely revolved around mine. She was an extremely hands-on parent - in a good way. She spent hours every day reviewing the multiplication table with me; going through my spelling words; shuttling me to and from school, piano lessons, and sleepovers; etc. When she wasn’t keeping my schedule in order though, she had a very active social life with the other “soccer moms.” They regularly held Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, and Avon parties. Once, there was even a sex toy party held at my home that got a bit out of hand (think 32- to 35-year-old women vomiting in our downstairs bathroom). They had a Bunco league, loved to play practical jokes on one another, and would have group outings that included drunk bowling and dinner at Hooters. Despite their “soccer mom” monikers, they were a bunch of rowdy, entertaining ladies.
However, there was one thing that an alarming number of these women had in common that (A) situates them squarely into that “soccer mom” stereotype and (B) I now find deeply disturbing. Many of them owned these horrible, oversized t-shirts with cartoon bikinis printed on the front and back. Thinking back on this “fashion trend,” I have come to the conclusion that these t-shirts are the saddest things in the world. Becoming a suburban “soccer mom” is less than ideal (at least in my opinion), but you certainly don’t have to completely give in to that stereotype, even if your lifestyle lends itself to its application - and I would say that most of those women did not. This shirt, however, represents the ultimate acceptance of the worst elements of that stereotype, and when I think about some of these awesome, hilarious women wearing shirts like this, I just feel sad and deflated. And if I feel that way as another woman and as an outsider to their lives, think how their husbands must feel. When your wife trades this…
do you feel as though your relationship has sort of - or completely - fizzled out? That passion and excitement are on their respective death beds? By no means do I think women need to “dress up” for their husbands all the time, or that passion can’t exist without superficial trappings. However, going to the extreme of actually making a choice to buy this horribly unflattering t-shirt is like mocking your husband. It’s basically telling him that you don’t care about looking “sexy,” “hot,” or the like - and, really, that’s just kind of a huge slap in the face.
As a side note - I used candid photos of Real Housewives in order to portray “Before,” as I didn’t think it would be at all fair to compare real-life housewives to sexy, twenty-something-year-old models or even to Housewives who had been airbrushed for a magazine.
I Would Have Been an Ideal Bachelor Contestant at Age Ten
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll confirm it - I’m a little “boy crazy.” Not so much in the sense that I’m always going out and hooking up with guys, commenting on whether or not guys are attractive, or eye-fucking dudes at the bar or on the street. Rather, I always find myself having a serious crush, or a boyfriend, or a friend with benefits that I’m trying to mold into a boyfriend. I fall in “love” easily. Not real love, mind you, but deep infatuation that’s close enough to love such that we can just call it that for the sake of simplicity. I’ve only known real, true love once, but I really like the people who I like at all.
In any case - while perusing my childhood diaries, I was a bit shocked at how lifelong my fixation on boys has been. It really started in second grade with my crush on a boy named T.G., but the first serious interest was in B.L., which started in fourth grade and extended until seventh or eighth grade. Since then, it’s basically been a revolving door of boys and men. Not really by choice - I’d happily settle down with one (not marry, at least right now), but my relationships haven’t lasted for more than two years since high school, and once one is over, I’m onto the next within a few months.
Below, I’ve provided excerpts from my diary entries that describe my feelings for various guys, give “love” and relationship advice, and generally exhibit how ridiculous I am (or was, let’s go with “was,” that’s more flattering). Some of these entries make me feel like I would have fit right in as a contestant on The Bachelor at age ten. I apologize that some are on the lengthy side, but I find them too amusing to condense.
Childhood Impressions of How Relationships Work - January 6, 1995
"Mom worked had today. Dad sent Mom flowers today."
As far as I’m concerned, at least based on my current understanding of how relationships work, these two sentences do not represent causation or correlation.
Blossoming Love, Soon to be Forgotten - May 13, 1998
"I found out that [J.A.] likes me as his closest girl as a friend (at least one of them). I love love love love love love love love love him so much. He does not know. Someday I will tell him."
This is the first example of how I (A) overinflate/overestimate my feelings for guys and (B) Develop feelings even when the other person clearly does not reciprocate them (I’m excited over being just one of his closest female friends, really?).
New Romance - January 3, 1999
"I got over my crush on [J.A.]. I know (sic) love love love love love love love lovelove [B.L.], even though he is 13 and I am only 10. I think he might really like me a little. If not, at least we are friends.”
Here’s where I began to (A) Go after older men and (B) Settle for less than what I want in the hopes that the circumstances will change (by the way, they never do).
I Just Can’t Shake This Lovin’ Feelin’ - June 1999 to November 2000
June 18, 1999: “I am extremely, very, a lot in love with [B.L.] He is soooo dreamy. He is also extremely handsome with brown hair and very tan skin. He is really nice to me and he is funny by being really sarcastic and judgemental (sic). I really wish I had the nerve to tell him that I love him even though he is 13 and I am 10. Oh well, if I never tell him I love him, we are still really good friends.”
I guess this is where my trend of picking snarky, i.e. douchy, guys who don’t actually have feelings for me began
July 30, 1999: “Tonight I went and said goodbye to my beloved, [B.L.]. I even got to hug him. But, it was a juevenille (sic) kidish hug so it doesn’t count! I really like him and it is too bad that I didn’t tell him or that he doesn’t feel the same way I do. Oh well!”
Ah yes, I am always so cavalier about “heartbreak” and tend to just put it back on myself. Also, the gall of a ten-year-old describing anything as “juvenile.” My lord…
October 24, 1999: “I still LOVE my darling, [B.L.]
February 22, 2000: “Oh yeah, ____ ____ ____ of ____ ____ ____ and ____ getting married. Isn’t that funny?”
Can you believe it? I actually self-censored. I crossed all of those words out so well that there is no chance of making them out now. But, I have a feeling I can fill in the blanks pretty accurately.
March 7, 2000: "I made a play on the computer today about [B.L.] and me…It’s cool!"
No, it’s not cool. It’s not cool at all. This is probably the last point in life where you can get away with being this creepy.
November 19, 2000: "Let me tell you about my love, [B.L.]. He’s 5’10”, brown spikey hair, hazel eyes, great smile, tan, extremely funny, 15 years old, lives in Indiana, has 1 brother, 1 dog, nice, charming, handsome, suave. I could go on and on. Now don’t think I’m one of those phyco (sic) girls who would hurl themselves off a bridge if he got hurt. I just like him a lot…he’s so cool.”
It’s funny that I felt the need to qualify my ramblings on “love.” I clearly knew I was acting like a psycho.
November 20, 2000: “I told [B.L.] that he was my best friend. I wish he was my bf. He’s so hot!”
First preview of how superficial I can be.
November 21, 2000: “[B.L.] is SOOO HOT! I wish he was mine!”
The superficiality continues.
I Have Love ADD - June 2000 to February 2001
June 18, 2000: "I was like soooo in love with that hot guy [N] (almost [B.L.]’s age) that I forgot about [B.L.], but not anymore because…I found out that [N] raped a girl named [T] and KNOW (sic) this because he likes [T] A LOT, and he’s acting like he likes this 6th grader (going into 7th) [K] and he asked [K] to come in a room alone with him and flash him! Duh! He’s so cute though!!”
The faulty logic and absurdly cavalier attitude in this entry are almost too much to bear. I am going to have to chalk it up to the fact that I was only 11-years-old.
[NO DATE]: "SORRY Newsbreak! Title: Crushes & Guys. Last night I went to [a Christmas party] and [S.H.] and [V.H.] were there. We had fun. I AM IN LOVE WITH [V.H.]! He’s kinda cute, he has braces, glasses (not dorky), dark brown hair, tan skin, and brown eyes. They invited me to come watch a movie with them…and I said yes…after [S.H.] fell asleep…[V.H.] walked me to the elevator. I WISH HE WOULD HAVE KISSED ME! Then there’s [B.L.]. I was talking with him today and he found out about my dad [being gay] and it was like a love scene from Sweet Valley. AAHH! I love him too (well neither love but crushes). THEN! There’s [D.G.]. He’s cute with blue eyes and blond hair and he can be really sweet and funny when he wants to…I’M CONFUSED!”
It’s like a love scene from Sweet Valley? Didn’t one twin’s boyfriend cheat on her with the other twin? Didn’t some girl get date raped? Didn’t the “artsy” girl get crushed during an earthquake only to have her “popular” boyfriend watch her die? Great comparison.
December 19, 2000: “Oh diary, I’m still in a pickle. I know [D.G.] will probably never be the one for me, and neither will [B.L.], but I’m still hung up on [B.L.] and [V.H.]. I love them just as much, except [B.L.]’s a tad better looking, so to solve it, I’m going to make a girl characteristic quiz and send it to them and then see who describes me the most…P.S. I’m soooo embarrassed that I talk about [B.L.] so much because I don’t wanna sound like some obsessed stalker. Extra note - I don’t love either of them.”
I’m still in a pickle because (A) Probably only one day has gone by since the last entry and (B) I’m an idiot. Also, glad to see that I’m starting to understand that these “crushes” are not love and that I sound straight crazy. By the way - I did NOT send that “quiz,” thank god.
December 20, 2000: “[B.L.] Pros and Cons. Pros: cute, funny, is super nice to me, shares secrets with me, only 2 grades older. Cons: lives far away, doesn’t love me (actually, I don’t know). [V.H.] Pros and Cons. Pros: really nice and funny, lives close, only 2 grades older, has a sister who’s my friend, HAS A CRUSH ON ME! Cons: has girlfriend (?), semi-cute. If he got hair cut and dyed, got clothes from AF, would be awesome! So, [V.H.] is better, but I still really like [B.L.].”
There are such serious problems with these lists, the least of which is my desire for a man to dress in clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch. “Doesn’t love me” and “Has girlfriend” are not “Cons,” they are deal breakers (if love was actually a factor here, at least).
January 15, 2001: “I’m totally in love with this 37 (looks 27) year old Spanish (close-Latin) actor (Julia Roberts’ boyfriend) who was a star in the best (and funniest) movie ever. It also starred Sandra Bullok (sic) [Miss Congeniality]! SHOW TO MY KIDS ONE DAY!”
January 19, 2001: "[B.L.] is sending me a pic. He better be hot because I LIKE HIM A LOT! I wish someone would hurry up and come kiss me. I really wonder what it’s like, of course it would have to be [B.L.] or [D.G.]"
What an attitude. For a girl who was an ugly duckling and had never been kissed, demanding that anyone be hot or having preferences as to her first kiss is a bit ridiculous.
February ?, 2001: "I kinda got caught up in something and forgot about [B.L.]. I gotta be charming when I see him! OH GOSH (hehe). I REALLY WISH HE LIKED ME!"
How quickly my “love” wavered.
Commentary on Relationships and Other Sage Advice - June 1999 to November 2000
June 17, 1999: "I think my dad is gay but he married a woman because society does not accept gay people."
I would still say this, but obviously I now “know,” and the acceptance bit is a past tense thing/the motivation for his decision-making in the past.
July 30, 1999:"…here is some food for thought:
How To Tell If a Boy Likes You
(1) He’s even more annoying than usual
(2) He acts differently around you than other girls
(3) A boy who is nice is nicer”
Where did I get this advice from? The Disney Channel? Lizzy McGuire? Sure, #2 and #3 are probably accurate - but here’s a big fuck you to any guy who tries to pull #1 and expects me to take that as a good sign.
June 18, 2000: "[Classmate] and I started becoming less friends…All [she] cares about is…impossible loves with older actors (and ugly ones) like C. Thomas Howell and Frankie Muniz (BLAH!)"
Apparently, I am a bit of a hypocrite. I am the first to get so wrapped up in a guy that I let my friendships suffer as a result. I’m such a bitch.
November 19, 2000: “[B.L.] is 15 and I’m only 12, but age shouldn’t matter as long as he doesn’t take advantage of me”
I still wholeheartedly agree with this assessment, though the age gap thing has proven more problematic as an adult than I would have imagined.
"I almost just want to rip her head off and verbally assault her."
Each week, despite my one-time disdain for and disgust over InterventionThe Bachelor, I find myself watching the show and live-tweeting my reactions. As such, I thought it was high time to provide a recap of one of these crazy episodes. I’m not sure I can bear to make this a weekly blog entry, but last night’s episode was just so out of control that this needed to happen. It’s basically my way of coping with how scared I am after watching this show - even after I fast forward through two-thirds of it.
In any case, last night’s episode began with Ben Flaj-a-neliak, whatever, and his gaggle of semi-retarded, semi-attractive, brainwashed groupies going….somewhere. They are always going somewhere. This time I think it was Utah. Which is fitting because Ben is bascially some kind of polygamist cult leader, and these women are about two episodes away from donning Little House on the Prairie dresses and braiding each other’s hair. I really can’t understand why ABC feels the need to fly these women all over the world and pay for Ben to take them on highly elaborate, extremely expensive dates.
(A) That’s not at all what a real-life relationship with Ben would be like, so ABC is just setting the relationships and thus the show up for inevitable failure once the cameras stop rolling.
(B) These women have proven that they would happily frolic around in manure if it meant getting a cheap, already dying rose from the ever-so-greasy Ben, so why does ABC bother spending any money away on these dates?
In any case, the cute, husky-voiced, blond-haired chick with the tragic nose ring got to go on the first one-on-one date. This girl is from New York and definitely looks like she’s gotten it on with another girl at some point, one who probably could have passed for a guy if you squinted a little bit. So taking her on a canoeing date seems ill-advised (or maybe perfect?). But whatever. Ben has proven to me thus far in the season that he could not give two shits about the girls’ personalities as he picks dates for them to go on (ha, what am I saying - we all know Chris Harrison is picking these dates).
Anyway, they go on their little outing. I fast forwarded through half of it. Though I periodically stopped to hear the girls back at the house bitch and struggle to hold back their tears. Ben and Nose Piercing have dinner, and Ben looks like he’s absolutely disgusted by her. His facial expressions read like “Are you sure you’re a woman? What is going on with your nose? Are you a smoker? Why do your eyes keep bugging out when you talk? Why are you wearing so much eyeliner.” I’m thinking this girl is going home, fo’ sho’. Especially after she gives Ben some bullshit speech about how she has a hard time communicating, being honest, opening up, etc. - basically, she lacks all of the attributes that are required for a healthy, long-lasting relationship. But because Ben has shown that he has absolute shit taste in women (Ashley, Courtney, etc.), he becomes elated by this admission and gives her the sad, likely diseased date rose. Nose Piercing goes home, bitches are totally surprised she’s still there, and everyone puts on a fake happy face - except of course Courtney, who literally looks like she has feces spread all over her upper lip 96% of the time.
The next day, an alarmingly large group of girls goes on a fishing date with Ben. Another nature date. Cool. This isn’t boring and monotonous at all. Also, I have to wonder - is this some bizarre hunter/gatherer mating ritual held over from our Neanderthal days that Ben is trying to revive? “If you catch me fish, I make you wife.” Something like that? These girls are all so obviously pissed that they’re wading around in a creek and that the humidity is making their hair look like shit (as if most of their hair didn’t already look like shit - but thank the lord baby Jeuss that someone was finally allowed to touch up their roots on this episode). Within five minutes of donning their fly fishing gear, they all take on this expression of having been lobotomized. Which I think Ben would probably be into (“Oh, you’re so limp and quiet. Neat. I’m going to make my move. I love pathetic, submissive women.”)
Kacie B. (the spelling of her name is such a problem) ups her Southern charm act, which is actually fairly effective at hiding how unintelligent and stalkerish she is (let’s not forget, she said in her first interview in EPISODE ONE that she was falling for Ben and that they would be great together because they’ve both gone through “things”), and gets Ben to help her catch a fish (they fail). Ben pretends to be helping her with the fishing, but you can tell he’s just thinking about controlling his boner (he essentially admits this later on the group date).
Of course, Courtney decides this is her moment to steal Ben away. They go off together and actually manage to catch a fish. Ben and Courtney both look overjoyed (“You make good wife. You bring food to family.”), but Courtney’s facial expression returns to that horrible look of sinister plotting the very moment Ben turns away to grab the fish. She makes him kiss it, and you can tell how much she enjoys the fact that his mouth has to touch that slimy, dirty fish - it is so painfully obvious that she has zero feelings for Ben and that she would be the girl who wins the competition and then murders him.
More things happen, the group goes back to whatever resort they’re staying at (which is definitely not as nice as ABC’s lighting and floral arrangements make it appear to be), and do things. Mostly drink and hang out in the pool. The usual. I mean, all I ever want is to be cold, damp, and drunk - duh. Girls talk to Ben. They get all giddy - probably because the fact that Ben’s hair is wet disguises how filthy and greasy it is - and they say things like “I’m falling for him” and “I’m scared by how strong my feelings for Ben are.” Yes, you should be scared. Because it makes you look straight crazy. And when you undoubtedly get sent home, you’re going to be really scared by how few romantic prospects you have now that dudes know you’re a crazy, stage-five clinger. Let’s be real girls. The overwhelming majority of you will go home without a rose and will then have to pick up the pieces of your pre-Bachelor lives. And being on this embarrassing show is going to make that exceptionally difficult. Being on The Bachelor is bad for women the same way that our wedding boards on Pinterest are bad - it provides men with alarmingly clear insight into how nuts we are. They don’t have to think we’re crazy or wonder whether or not we’re crazy - they now have proof.
Anyway, former beauty queen and resident alcoholic Samantha makes the unwise decision to pull Ben away from a make-out session (I think) to have a “chat.” And there is no attempt on her part to sugarcoat what she wants to say - or maybe there was, but the alcohol had other plans. In any case, she blurts out, “I want one-on-one time. I deserve that. Why are you only bringing me on group dates? What does that mean?” Ben looks horrified, as he is not into strong, assertive women raving lunatic alcoholics. He says to her, “I don’t think you’ve earned a one-on-one date based on your behavior on the group dates” - i.e. you’re always hammered drunk and it’s just sloppy and embarrassing and I don’t want to play babysitter to you on a one-on-one date. He then informs her that this is going nowhere and she needs to leave right now. She sits there looking dumb stunned for a moment. Clearly, no guy has ever told her to leave. Usually, they just leave her in the middle of the night. She creepily begins licking her lips and chuckling. Her tongue motions are terrifying. She looks like she has a five-pound weight attached to her tongue. She then starts to cry - like every other time we see her on this show - and Ben sends her away. She doesn’t even get an interview in the car. Unless I fast forwarded through that.
Courtney then takes this moment where Ben is feeling a twinge of guilt, or some other human emotion, to whine to him about how hard this process is and how insecure it makes her. Instead of reacting like a normal guy - “Wow, you’re a whiny bitch. I’m sending you home too.” - Ben dons his Bachelor superhero cape and says “I need to reassure her.” As such, he gives her the date rose. She looks elated for a split second, but - of course - as soon as Ben turns away to rub some olive oil and bacon grease on his hair, that sickening look of pure evil returns to her face.
More things happen. Ben then takes the maroon-haired accountant on a date. She is prettier under ABC’s lighting than the light of the sun. I have a feeling she might be the craziest one of the bunch but is just really effective at keeping it under wraps. Ben takes her hiking. Surprise. And then they find a “No Trespassing” sign. Naturally, that’s where the date is taking place (ABC can do anything). They hop a fence and approach a huge crater in the ground with scary barbed wire and caution tape all around it. NBD. Looks like a swell place for a date. This is where I had a revelation. Ben is probably the next Ted Bundy (though he isn’t even that charming or attractive). I mean, look at him. The limp, dirty hair. The lack of any real human emotions. The strange tinge of joy in his voice when he says things like “And then she told me how much this process was tearing her apart.” Throw some oversized glasses on this dude and he is a 1970’s sociopathic serial killer. So he takes the accountant down into this hole for a swim and a bit of tongue action, though he is clearly preoccupied by thoughts of taking someone here later and killing him or her. Hey, sometimes you just have to kill two birds with one stone (ha, pun) - get your date over with and stake out your next kill spot.
Anyway, Ben and the accountant hang out, kiss, and have some insipid conversations. I fast forwarded through most of this. He gives her a rose. Not sure why, although he’s given everyone a rose on his one-on-one dates. She looks like she’s going to cry, pee her pants, and puke all at once. They go to some concert being attended solely by paid ABC extras. She goes home. Bitches are pissed that she’s still there, but she’s probably the “nicest” - at least for now - so they mostly don’t give her any shit.
Lots of other things happened on this episode, but it’s really hard to condense two hours into a manageable recap - even when you watch the whole episode in under 35 minutes. So, let’s just skip to the rose ceremony where the drama erupted.
Courtney has been a disgusting c*nt throughout this episode, and the girls are roughly one episode away from forming a lynch mob and killing her. She says all kinds of awful, shockingly bitchy things that you think only screenwriters can come up with to try and make everyone feel like crap. Really - and I wish the other girls realized this - her behavior just shows how absolutely insecure she is. If she was as confident as she claims to be and if she really felt like she had an awesome connection with Ben, she wouldn’t need to tear the other girls down. I think her behavior toward the other girls also demonstrates how fake her connection with Ben is - she’s only in this for the “win,” so I’m sure she worries that she might give herself away and lose her chance at reality TV glory.
The PhD student, who is clearly not getting her doctoral degree in interpersonal relationships (or maybe she is and the problem is just that Courtney and Ben aren’t really humans), decides to go to Ben and tell him what an evil troll Courtney is. He basically tells her “Fuck you. Courtney is hot. Next week, I’m going to bone her. If you mess with my game any further, you’re out. Because I know you’re not putting out.”
She cries and whines to the other girls. Of course, one of them runs and tells Courtney what happened - it’s that one girl who has opened her mouth for a grand total of about 27 seconds on this show, so I’m sure Chris Harrison directed her to do this. Courtney goes on a tirade where she says things like, “I don’t start fights, I finish them” (did I just switch over to Mob Wives?) and “I almost just want to rip her head off and verbally assault her. Or shave her eyebrows off in the middle of the night.” I’d pick the former. The PhD student barely has any eyebrows as it is - she won’t miss them much.
Girls cry, everyone is unhappy. Probably because Ben looks filthy and is wearing a tie so skinny it gives the bolo tie a run for its money. He hands out roses. The PhD student gets the last rose as a weird form of passive aggressive punishment for trying to save Ben from Courtney (who I really believe will murder him if she wins this show). A big-boned, older looking girl goes home. She cries in the car. But she’ll be really happy in, like, two seconds when she no longer has to worry about Ben’s hair grease staining her clothing.
The end. Now, I’m going to go douche my eyes with Summer’s Eve and drink a wine cooler to forgot about the train wreck that was this episode.
Yesterday, I received a text that read “stole your doughnut date idea.” To explain this, we have to rewind a few weeks.
When the Yale Nerd (from “Synesthesia, and Other First Date Nonsense”) and I were first talking about getting together, I proposed that we check out the Doughnut Plant in Chelsea. I love doughnuts and thought this would be the perfect way to hang out in a very low-key setting. Ultimately though, we decided to do something else, as I was feeling a little “rotund” that day and didn’t think I needed a doughnut.
So after our date (i.e. torture session) went completely sideways, this guy apparently decided to take some other girl on that doughnut date instead. Which is A-OK with me - I hope he finds someone who shares his particular viewpoints on synesthesia and parenting. However, the fact that he felt it necessary to share with me that he “stole” my idea just goes to show how awkward and immature this individual is.
This morning, while looking for a charger for the phone I used before finally getting an iPhone 3GS in 2009, I found all of my childhood diaries (let me just be real for a second, I was only searching for the charger so I could torture myself by looking at look at old text messages sent to me by someone very important at the point in time when he was becoming very important). Before I moved to New York, my mother forced me to box up the things I wanted to save from my room in New Orleans because the rest would be sent to Goodwill (I can’t even begin to describe the fight that ensued from this prompt, but I did convince her to hang on to a few critical items for me, such as the nightlight I turned on every single night before bed until the age of 9 or 10). As such, I have been storing a number of diaries, photo albums, and the like in my closet for the past year and eight months.
Now, it’s not as though I’ve never read any of these diaries since writing in them, it’s just that I normally flip through, have a bit of a laugh at my handwriting and childhood crushes, and then put them away. Today though, I actually read through all of them - and I was shocked that it was actually me who had written them. Honestly. I was the happiest child. I have vague memories of this, but once my family unit sort of fell apart, we moved to New Orleans and started a new life, etcetera, I grew to be so reserved, pessimistic, jaded, and cynical that I largely forgot what I was like before that period of turmoil. To be fair, I was never much into journaling (until now, apparently), so my entries all tend to be short - and this may lend itself to a rosier picture than was actually the case. But still, the number of times I say “fun” and “happy” is hilarious. I’d like to present a few examples (with original grammar, spelling, and sentence structure):
January 1, 1995: “[Friend’s Mom] called me and said I could come over and sleep. I had a loose loose tooth!!!!! We had fun with…the dog and I had fun with [Friend]. Later I pulled my tooth out. I am happy I got one dollar.”
January 2, 1995: “I watched Return of Jafar with Dad. I played Go Fish with Mom. I had fun. I made snowflakes.”
January 8, 1995: “We went to church. I loved my 1st grade class…Mom and I had dinner at [Friend - no “‘s house”]. [Friend] and I danced a lot.” - Now, I really hate Christianity (this is fine and won’t change) and dislike most people, so the part about loving my class is sort of funny to me.
January 9, 1995: “I made Dad a birthday card. I had a good day at school.”
January 10, 1995: “To-day my dad turned 36…We danced and sang and had fun…I gave him a sweater vest. I had a good day.” - Thinking of my dad at age 36, particularly wearing a sweater vest, is adorable.
January 11, 1995: “hi. are you good? I am good. I hope Dad and Mom are good”
June 3, 1995: “I had my dinosauru [???] party at school. It was fun. and all my friends had fun too.”
September 30, 1995: “hi today it is my birthay. I am turning 7. I get a limeozen. It will be fun…ADDED LATER. Taylar had a great B-day. Especially because she was with her friends.”
June 22, 1996: “When my mom and dad get home I’m going to a BBQ. I hope it is fun. I think it will be because there will be a lot of kids.”
June 24, 1996: “I had a very fun day. I went to camp at my school today. Today we read about a turtle. And then we made a projcet (sic). It was fun. When I got home me and [Friend] played barbies. Then…I went to a baseball game. It was fun.”
November 8, 1996: “Today was cool!! I am freaked. When I was up-stairs and I heard a growl. Then I turned around and saw three scratches on a door.” - Always had an active imagination…
May 18, 1997: “I had an o.k. day. The pool opened…finally. But I could only get in the shallow end up to my neck. And thats because my mom say I had the comin cold and said that because I for once didn’t get sick yet this school year and you get an awarded for it. So she doesn’t want me to get sicker and miss school. The good thing was I got a tan [ah yes, childhood vanity] and had a grill out. I got a potato chip that looks like Elvis and I gave it to my dad and he said, Elvis…(by the way dad isn’t a fan of Elvis) and he stuffed it in his [mouth?] like a lunatic. He is real serious. He never did that before!! I love my family.”
Even the less “gleeful” entires are still pretty cute and tinged with positivity - they aren’t wrought with horrible self-pitying despair like a journal entry written by me today might be prone to:
January 3, 1995: “Today I had a bad day. On my first day back to school I got hit on the head with a ball. My foot was stepped on. I had a good lunch. [Friend] gave me and my class cupcakes. My dad gave me a surprise.” - Really? Well, the way to my heart remains food and gifts. But still - to go from “I had a bad day” to “I had a good lunch” is a pretty hysterical leap.
March 24, 1997: “Today was pretty good. Exsept the insedent at P.E. because of [Classmate] Fart Head. She tells on all the girls for nothing we did to her. I hate her!! I like writing in you it calms me down. Guess what? I’m watching the Oscars, also known as the academy awards” - Another hilarious segue from “hatred” to excitement.
March ?, 1997: Today was a very bad day because I had to see two movies [really?]. One was good. The other one was bad because it was about a stupid woman with lokimium.” - I just can’t…
January 1, 2000: “It’s the year 2000! We went to 4 parties…It was fun until at the 4th party [Friend] hit my shirt with a sparkler and burnt a hole in it. The shirt is like $30.00 from the GAP and it was the 1st time I wore it…Well, I gotta go. Love ya!”
February ?, 2000: “Today, in science, little miss [Classmate], hippie girl with cheap clothing that’s too small and stringy hair that hasn’t been cut in a year, barfed one foot away from me…Isn’t that nasty? I almost got sick from seeing it. On a much lighter note, I GOT THE BABY-G [watch]! I’m soooo happy!!!!”
Really, why am I not like this now? Nothing that happens in my life that I deem to be “bad” is really all that devastating or life-altering. I just choose to dwell on the negativity. And, really, I could just as easily choose to be positive.
There was a period of time during my sophomore year in college where I made the decision to be “happy” - I’ve always thought happiness is primarily a choice. And it worked. Things were not great at that time (backstabbing friends, cheating boyfriends, and such), but I just remember being very carefree. To the point that people were actually asking me what the hell was wrong with me (that’s kind of sick, no?). I recently heard someone describing that if you choose to be positive and habituate the positive, your brain actually starts working differently and in a way that reinforces positivity because it like the habituation. I can’t recall if the speaker had any authority to be saying these things, but I’d like to believe this is possible. So, it’ll be my new goal.
Next up - love and relationships with Taylar in the late 1990’s, early aughties.
A few months ago, I wrote a post titled “I Think We Have Too Many Street Fairs,” in which I commented on the absurdity of having so many obnoxious, cheesy fairs around the city that only serve to block traffic, create a good deal of noise, and perpetuate the sale of ambiguously new socks. In that post though, I mentioned my amusement at a man who also happened to be walking through a street fair on a Sunday afternoon and had the most ridiculous hairdo ever. I even provided a photo of his hair styling and overly tight wardrobe, in which a large cross-like object and an unidentified tome could be seen.
Well, wouldn’t you know, I saw this guy on the subway over the weekend. I was shocked. I have only run into someone I know on the street twice in two years, and the only other people I see in public and recognize are a couple (an older man and a young, pretty girl - kind of icky) and a middle-aged Asian women that happen to cross my path on a regular basis as I make my way to work.
In any case, on the subway, I was able to get a better look at the man’s cross and “unidentified tome,” which gave me a better understanding of what he’s all about. His hair may be dank, but his “message” is a little disturbing. He was pacing up and down the subway car holding a large, mirrored cross while yelling about his search for an “angel” - i.e. a young, attractive girl, specifically under the age of 18. Clearly, this guy is a psycho and probably a chimo.
Why can’t I see someone cool or attractive more than once in the city rather than a straight crazy?
Though I have never been single for longer than three or four months, I’ve been on surprisingly few “first dates.” Sure, in the most nominal sense, I’ve had a first date with every person I’ve ever been in any type of relationship with that spans beyond a hook-up. However, when I say “first date,” I’m really referring to the first time you ever spend with another person - this is in contrast to how most of my prior relationships have begun, which is to say that I’ve usually known my boyfriends through mutual friends or shared social circles before we’ve actually become an item and started going on dates. First dates in the sense that I’m referring to are absolutely horrible. They are anxiety-inducing and prone to ending disastrously. I can honestly say I’ve only had two good first dates. A few months ago, I wrote about a pretty awful first date, but I didn’t know what “awful” really was back then. Nowadays, I do. Below are snippets of conversation from the most tragic, horrendous date I could ever imagine. They speak for themselves.
Yale Nerd: I don’t really understand, watch, or enjoy football. If I don’t do something myself, I just can’t care about it.
Me: Do you go to or like movies?
Yale Nerd: Sure.
Me: You’re not an actor though.
Yale Nerd: That’s true.
Yale Nerd: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve actually gotten less social. My senior year of college, I joined the chess club, and now, I go out with my friends and talk about simple math and do math problems. They go to Columbia.
Yale Nerd: Let me ask you something. I ask everyone this. What color is the number five?
Yale Nerd: Okay, okay, so you don’t have synesthesia.
Me: *blank stare*
Yale Nerd: Yeah, I didn’t think you would. Only 1% of the population does. It’s where you randomly associate colors with numbers and letters. I read a lot about math geniuses, and many of them have this ability. So I’ve been training myself to do the same thing, because I don’t naturally have synesthesia either. You know, number five is green, nine is pink, and so on.
Me: So, do you have a lot of friends from college in the city?
Yale Nerd: Oh yeah, a ton. Lots. You?
Me: Not too many. Most of my graduating class/sorority pledge class wound up in D.C. I’m actually kind of glad though that there aren’t a ton of us in New York because it forced me to branch out and meet new people instead of continuing to live the same lifestyle I did in college.
Yale Nerd: That’s bitchy.
Yale Nerd: That’s really bitchy.
Me: I have no idea what I just said that could possibly be considered bitchy.
Yale Nerd: Would you let you kids play football?
Me: Sure, if they want to, why not?
Yale Nerd: Aren’t you worried about injuries?
Me: Well sure, but the game isn’t that rough at the middle school or high school levels. And you could get injured doing just about anything. Take horseback riding. You could fall and break your neck.
Yale Nerd: I guess so. But I wouldn’t let my kids play football. Actually, I aspire to be a Tiger Dad. Are you familiar with that term?
Me: Yes - and do you really know what you’re implying? A lot of those kids are very depressed, lack social skills, etcetera.
Yale Nerd: Yeah, but they’re, like, killing it - math, science, violin.
Me: I don’t think having a parent essentially abuse you into being perfect at completing some task is really the best choice. There are more important things than being good at a task. I would just be worried that your children wouldn’t have time to socialize with their peers, would become depressed because they hate the things you’re making them do, or would start to resent you for treating them like you’re a military sergeant.
Yale Nerd: Well, I’d be more worried about your kids if you plan on letting them play football. They’ll probably get head injuries and become retarded.
Are you in New York City? Are you planning on being in New York City? Do you want to be in New York City? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you should hop on over to my Yelp page and see where you should be going and what you should be doing (or, where and what you should be avoiding at all costs). A few people think I’m funny, cool, and/or useful - maybe you will too! Or, maybe you’ll think I’m a useless twat. Either way!
"Don't bash me over the head for this - but you're a bit sassy"
It was recently brought to my attention that I’m a little sassy, and that some people take offense to this. Of couse, my sassiness (some might say bitchiness, or worse) is something I’m very aware of, and I do recognize that it can be problematic at times. In many situations though, it’s a good thing - it can make people laugh, it can provide me with good material for my blog, etc. However, I should be more cognizant of the fact that my sassiness may (a) offend people and (b) be used as a crutch such that it takes over my entire personality. I realized that latter point as I took a look at a recent photo of myself. On New Year’s Eve, I used Photo Booth on my Mac to take a picture of my makeup just to be sure that I didn’t look all kinds of jenky. And, please, just take a look at the resulting photo (it has been edited, obviously, in an attempt to crop out/blur out my apartment). Apparently, I can’t help but look sassy and bitchy even in a photo for my own use in evaluating my makeup:
2. “I could drink a cigarette faster than I could drink a beer.”
3. “He’s probably gay. He’s probably given a handjob and thought that was OK.”
4. Crew neck t-shirts with blazers
5. People from Queens
6. People with enough free time to own dogs
7. Terrible pick-up lines: “I’m not ready to get married, but if you have the ring already, then maybe.”
8. Broken glass mixed with gin and tonic
9. Being aggressively touched by strangers
10. This shirt:
Can you guess where I was? But of course, a “bar” in Meatpacking. It wasn’t really a bar, club, or lounge; rather, it was that strange hybrid of all three that only Meatpacking seems capable of producing.
2011 was a year of major changes for me, although certain things remained the same (as tends to happen). I grew up a lot over the course of the year - I learned to be OK on my own (really on my own, not just living alone) and I developed a love of bleu cheese, über-peaty scotch, brussels sprouts, and full-bodied red wines. I let go of certain rules, though I developed some new ones. I let new people into my life and I kicked others out. The latter part of 2011 will likely be the most memorable though.
It wasn’t until mid-2011 that I really began to feel like an adult - and it wasn’t the financial independence, increased responsibilities at work, or general lifestyle in Manhattan that made me feel this way. Rather, it was shaking some of the negative influences from my youth and college days and associating more with a whole host of new and diverse people. I’ve been exposed to a new side of life, New York, and myself through the people I met and got to know in 2011. And, by better defining my social life and friend group this past year as compared to years prior - when I would let rules, obligations, and social pressures dictate my life - I felt more mature and in control. I’ve also discovered a lot more about human nature, interpersonal relationships, and what it is that I want and need.
Some of the people that indirectly taught me these lessons are still in my life, others are not, and others are being or will likely be phased out - but regardless of these individuals’ roles in my life come next New Year’s Eve, they will always be an integral part of that “coming of age” period of my life - you know, that year or so we see portrayed in movies like Good Will Hunting, The Graduate, and Almost Famous, the period of your life that you one day talk to your kids about as they are finally embarking on their adult journeys.
I’m excited for what 2012 holds, and I feel like I’m in a much better place to begin a new year of my life - more confident, happier, and self-assured - than I was last New Year’s Eve. So, to 2011, goodbye. It’s time for you to go, like each year before you, but I certainly won’t forget you.
Definition: A slang term that refers to a male partner, sexual or romantic, with high net-worth who bestows much of his wealth onto his female companion. Synonyms include “Sugar Daddy,” “Caretaker,” “Baller,” and “Big Poppa,” among others.
"Ooo girl, where’d you get that fine-ass bracelet from? That shit looks like it must have cost twenty-grand! Where are you getting all your money from?"
"Oh, you know, God."
"Oh come on now, I know God didn’t come down from Heaven like that."
"Alright well, you know, I date wealthy men."
"So you found yourself a golden dick?"
"More or less."
"That’s right, bitch. God didn’t give you that. God gave you a hole for you to make your money from."
You all don’t know this, but music is a huge part of my life. Listening to music is one of my favorite pastimes. I am totally content just sitting on my couch, listening to music, and doing nothing else. I can be a bit ADD at times and flip around a lot. Alternatively, I sometimes find myself fixated on one song and will listen to it 17+ times in a row. I listen to music in the morning, at night, while I run errands, pretty much all day during work (much to the chagrin of my co-workers, who already struggle to be heard by me given that I’m deaf in my left ear), etc. As such, I decided to put together a list of my 50 favorite songs of the year - the music that’s been keeping my ears cozy all year long. Some songs were released in 2011 while others came out in years prior and were only discovered by me this year - so I’ve organized my list into 2011 Songs and Non-2011 Songs. I initally attempted to order these songs based on my level of love for them, but that was extremelty difficult, so you all should think of this as a list “in no particular order.” I hope you all enjoy at least one of these songs as much as I do, and I’ve tried to link as many songs as possible to Bandcamp so you all can listen to them in full andpurchase them - if you want - in order to support these great artists. I think they’re all pretty aurgasmic.
When I joined Tumblr, I did so because I thought it offered a better platform to interact with other bloggers and potentially other like-minded people than the comparatively austere WordPress. However, I did not realize that Tumblr was more or less Pinterest Part 1, full of 16 to 19-year-old girls reposting pictures of anything ranging from glitter to hardcore penetration gifs without really attributing anything to anyone. It can be annoying having my dashboard comprised almost solely of pictures, gifs, and quotes (particularly when they get reblogged multiple times by others that I follow), and sometimes I’m just aggravated when someone posts something I love (a dress, a hotel, a shade of nail polish) but I have no way of finding out where it came from. I just can’t figure out how no one on Tumblr gets in trouble for essentially stealing the work of others or why we are all so content getting spammed by “curated content” blogs. To be fair, there are some that I love, follow, and draw inspiration from, but I regularly come across copy-cat blogs or blogs that are more sloppily curated, and I can’t understand how they have amassed so many followers.
I’ve been on the hunt for some great original content blogs on Tumblr, but it’s been harder than I would have imagined. In my (brief) quest, which took place via a Google search, I came across an amazing article on Get Off My Internets that discusses the way in which Tumblr has completely clouded the meaning of “original content” such that it has become increasingly more difficult to find anyone on here that shares unique thoughts:
I’ve gotta say, this continual PR push from Tumblr that a valued blog is one composed of content that doesn’t belong to the blog owner and is instead the equivalent of an inspiration board or magazine cutout scrapbook has got to be really frustrating to the bloggers that actually try. Even Sara Zucker…must wonder why she even tries. She could start posting photos of her favorite editorial spreads and call it a day. They’d still love her for her “original” stringing together of pretty pictures.
I get that they want blogs with a strong follower base and consistently high traffic, but to say that they chose these bloggers because of original content is way off the mark and, frankly, embarrassing in the way it’s embarrassing to watch someone say something really stupid in front of a crowd. Are they confused about the definition of “original content”? Are they egotistical enough to think they can define it however they want? Probably both.
I could be old-fashioned, but I think it sets a poor example to reward people for hijacking other people’s hard work. Their argument would probably be that the Tumblr platform is designed for reblogging and content sharing. However, if that means that a blog entirely composed of stolen photos with credit only randomly assigned is something to be celebrated, then their leadership is even more intellectually challenged than I thought. Hmm, actually? It’s par for the course.
Ironically enough, I’ve kind of “stolen” someone else’s content for the purposes of this post - but at least I attributed it! In any event, if anyone knows of a great blog featuring mostly original content, please let me know. It’s always nice to get a taste of others’ writing styles, be exposed to new ideas and opinions, etc.
I’ve always been one for escapism. My whole life, I’ve loved acting, dressing up in costumes, seeing plays, going to movies, and generally doing anything that will allow me to be someone else or insert myself into some other life for a brief moment. It’s not that I’m unhappy with myself or my own life - it’s just that there are so many other lives, situations, personalities, images, identities, etc. that I’d like to try out. Life is too short for monotony, so I try to branch out and explore when possible. However, I am very tethered to reality by this unrelenting need to be “right” or “good.” I am intensely practical and focused on advancement of goals, collection of accomplishments, etc. As such, I find it hard to engage in any “escapist” activities on more than a superficial level. Nowhere is this better displayed than through my hair.
I have long, dense, rather pretty hair - if I can go ahead and just say that about myself - and I keep it cut in a very conservative, “classic” style. There are very few layers in the back, there are long layers around the front to keep it from looking heavy, I part it on the side, I wear it straight nearly every day, and that’s about it. Nothing too exciting. I always fear getting a wild haircut, as it takes so long to grow out - and if I really hate it, I don’t know how I would handle being stuck with it for months. I had one horrible, awful haircut at the age of 10 that ruined my self-esteem and social life for years, and I had another less-than-great haircut in college that required a ridiculous amount of maintenance, Therefore, I try to steer clear of anything that’s going to be “permanently” ugly or unmanageable.
I do, however, get extremely bored with my hair and thus my overall appearance, so I turn to color as the solution. Color can be covered, so I view it as a “temporary” means to imitate some other person who I see any think, “I love their look.” Naturally, my hair is a light brown color with blondish streaks here and there. Not bad. Actually quite pretty. Nonetheless, I’ve been covering it with dye for the past five or six years. In just the past 12 months, my hair went from a somewhat brassy, medium brown to medium brown with a smattering of highlights, to a very highlighted blond, to a cool dark brown, to a somewhat botched ombre, and then to a very botched red/plum. Right now, I am recovering from the red disaster and have been trying to get it to fade for about two months. On Saturday, I have an appointment at a new salon to try and correct this dye job gone wrong, where I hope they can remove some of the red without having to dye my hair a very dark brown. Even though I look fine with very dark hair given that my eyebrows are practically black, I’m really more interested in going back to my “natural” color. When I say natural though, I actually mean a little darker with a few highlights around my face in a kind of ombre style - but certainly no overall ombre again.
How my hair isn’t falling out, I don’t know. And why I continue to put myself through potential chromatic agony, I can’t explain. In the last year, four or five of my seven or eight dye jobs have resulted in anger or tears. As my best friend said to me this morning while discussing my hair appointment on Saturday:
I feel like you going to the salon is like the kickoff at the first game of the Miami Dolphins season every year. So much hope, but disappointment is inevitable.
So, we’ll see how Saturday goes. I know this intense red pigment is going to complicate things tremendously, so this might be a month long process. But I’m kind of excited. My new salon is in Brooklyn and is half hair salon, half tattoo parlor. The man cutting my hair is named Corvette and is a former drag queen. So this is either going to be awesome or awful.
Maybe this past year of minor hair traumas and thousands of dollars down the drain should be a lesson to me that I should give up this need for escapism, this chromatic wanderlust, and just be content with myself - but hey, where’s the fun in that?
Opportunity Ain't Gonna Knock If Ya Don't Build a Door
On the Friday after Thanksgiving, I went out to a lengthy lunch with a few friends. Not only were the food and company great, but we also had the most attractive waiter of my life. That’s no small feat either. There are tons of gorgeous, wannabe actors and models in New York that work a day job in the food services industry, but this guy was the most attractive for me. Tall, lean, bearded, tattooed, with pretty blue eyes and an affinity for my Southern dialect - particularly my constant use of the word “y’all” - this guy is my dream boat. In fact, he looks like Adam Levine - and he thankfully lacks that annoying, femmy voice. If you were to read the reviews for this restaurant on Yelp!, you’d actually see several that mention him by name and discuss how beautiful he is.
In any case, being newly single and kind of pathetic (I had just been officially broken up with four days prior to this lunch), my friends urged me to do something “crazy” and leave this guy my number. I went to the bathroom and surveyed my appearance. I was in yoga pants and an Under Armour shirt with dirty hair and no makeup - at best, I looked like a fitness model in training; at worst, I looked like an unkempt lesbian. Given the latter, I was a bit hesitant to leave my number and be rejected (yes, this guy was a total randar, but coming off of a break up, all rejection is magnified). Nonetheless, my friends persisted, and I ended up leaving my number and a little note on a postcard at the end of the meal that said something to the effect of, “If you’re interested in having another y’all-filled conversation sometime, feel free to give me a call.”
Two weeks went by and nothing. I actually forgot about it after day three; that is, until last night when I returned to the same restaurant for dinner. He wasn’t there, but I ended up recounting the story to my dining companions, all of whom were very somewhat amused.
Then, something crazy happened. Around 3:30 today, a text message popped up from an unknown number. It was him! And he said:
Hey ___ it’s ___ from ___. I’ve been out of town for almost two weeks, but let me know if you would like to get together sometime soon.
How wild! So I guess that’ll teach me an important lesson - you can’t come close to getting what you want if you don’t even put yourself out there. This will probably go nowhere, but it’s at least a good learning experience.