Friday, February 23, 2007

YouTube breakup: Not cool

Alisha: So, Deirdre ... I'm curious to know your thoughts on the infamous YouTube break-up, since it now seems our society has progressed (or digressed?) into breaking up with your partner in front of a crowd, and then airing it on the world wide web.
Deirdre: First, let me just say that if that had been MY man, I woulda stomped him into a grease spot and happily gone to jail for it. If what he did was for real (and there's some question about that), it was simply unconscionable.
Deirdre: Second, I blame Jerry Springer for this.
Alisha: From watching several online videos of "the breakup", I didn't see a fight break out, a shaved-head bodyguard or a 400-pound man in women's panties. So, why is Jerry Springer to blame?
Deirdre: People want their 15 minutes of fame and Jerry was really the first to provide a platform for relationship exhibitionists. All they have to do is humiliate themselves and the one they claim to "love." And now, thanks to the Internet and YouTube, people can take that yearning one huge step further, without having to fly to Chicago for his show.
Alisha: Eh ... With all of these new media outlets now accessible to any average joe who has a USB port -- audio, MP3s, camera phones, etc. -- I just don't think Mr. Ex-Mayor of Cincinnati should take the fault for this one. Seems to me the UNC student showed off his stupidity and his lack of respect. My thing, the girl, Mindy Moorman, seemed to handle her business. She didn't go off running and screaming. I applaud her.
Deirdre: Me too! She held her own, considering she was supposedly caught off-guard. But what really bugs me is the immaturity of it all. The guy goes off half-cocked because of what a friend told him, and didn't even bother to discuss the situation (she allegedly cheated on him) with the chick. The whole thing coulda been a lie.
Deirdre: But even if it wasn't a lie, you don't do such a thing in public. I'm a decade older than you, and 10 years ago, the dude would have confronted her in private, or just stopped calling her. There would have been none of this public humiliation business. Really, what does it say about HIM that he felt the need to do this?
Alisha: You mean none of this public humiliation business spread over the entire world. I'm sure the hippies and the beatniks and my grandparents' generation had alternate ways to humiliate. ... But you're right - that relationship screamed for some communication. At least now the girl knows what kind of a jerk she was hooking up with. Everything happens for a reason.
Deirdre: Yeah. If it was a true breakup, she's probably thinking she dodged a bullet. And if it wasn't, shame on them for trying to trick the YouTube universe. Don't they have, like, classes to flunk? Get back to studying!
Alisha: I'm thinking we're going to see a wave of copycats pop up. I will pray for all you single people, and hope I don't see you on the next Internet breakup video. Maybe the biggest dealbreaker of 2007 will be: "If the guy or girl has a YouTube account."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Faces behind sexual dysfunction

When reading Tonya Jameson’s story on sexual dysfunction affecting young couples in Charlotte, I have to say I was a tad surprised, but not for the reason you might think.

All of the couples interviewed went by first names only. Wow, that’s super odd, I thought. If the point of the story is to bust down this big myth that sexual dysfunction only affects couples well over age 40, then why would my generation even consider hiding behind a cloak of anonymity? You should be loud and proud, ready to scream to the world that you and your partner are not alone in your own little sexual hell.

But … wait a second here … The light bulb in my head all of a sudden grew into a much brighter shade of yellow. (No jokes please!)

There’s the catch. What if I had to not only admit to but also proclaim – on paper or in a blog, no less – that yes, my husband and I do indeed have a serious sexual dysfunction? It’s easy to talk about someone else’s problems, but when it comes to breaking down the game film of our own sexual lives – that’s hitting a tad too close to home.

I don’t want to spill my guts about every sexual problem my husband and I have encountered in our short marriage. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to divulge such sensitive topics. Would you want your family and coworkers reading your blog about how your husband lasts a mere five minutes or how your wife puts in a 60-hour work week and ya’ll haven’t had sex since before Christmas, for example (and no, these are not issues in my relationship)? I think not.

Maybe this supposed “myth” really isn’t a myth after all. I bet most of us know sexual dysfunction doesn’t just affect Baby Boomers. I bet most of us know there is help out there for our sexual woes, no matter how long you’ve been married or how long you’ve had sex.

Thing is, what we do realize is it’s just not easy putting our names right next to it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Such a thing as nice guys finishing last?

Alisha: There's one cliche many of my guy friends tend to loosely throw out when discussing their dating lives: "Nice guys always finish last." I want to know why they feel this way.
Deirdre: Did you ask them?
Alisha: Yes. Some of them question why girls don’t want to be treated right. Others list off all the things they have going for them: a steady job, decent income, a loving family, etc.
Deirdre: Hmm. That's tough, because I know a lot of women who feel the same way. I used to feel the same way about myself, in fact. Here's the conclusion I came to: It's not about how much I make, or what job I have or how many years I went to college. What's going on here is I pick the wrong kind of guy. I think a lot of these "nice" guys and girls might have the same problem.
Alisha: So because you pick the wrong person, you automatically lump yourself into "I never get the guy (or girl) category?" Why not say, "I just always pick the wrong type to date"?
Deirdre: Oh, I agree! That's what we should be doing! But when it comes to the nice ones not getting the partner they want, part of it might be their behavior as well. Wouldn't you agree?
Alisha: Are you saying all nice people are timid when it comes to approaching a potential partner?
Deirdre: No. But some are. Courtship can be a scary thing, especially if someone doesn't have a lot of experience.
Alisha: Sure, the routine can be quite intimidating. It's just the reverting to the "I'm a nice guy so that's why I'm still single" is a bunch of hogwash. If people want to think they're always going to finish last and never get the girl or guy because they're a nice person -- I guess there's just no changing their mind. It all sounds like excuses to me.
Deirdre: True. But I would caution them to take a long, hard look at themselves. Are they going after unattainable people? To put it bluntly, there's a certain subset of people who think they are too young, beautiful, cocky and rich to hook up with anything other than young, beautiful, cocky and rich people. If you don't meet that description, keep your nice self away. Or ladies, know how there are "bad" boys? Avoid 'em like the bird flu. You might have a good time at first, but you'll probably get your heart broken ... or your stuff stolen.
Deirdre: So what advice would you give your "nice guy" friends? I'm assuming you've discussed this with them.
Alisha: Jump off the nice-guys-finish-last high horse, dust off your smile, open up your ears and look at life as though your one true love just hasn't found you yet. Oh, and stop making excuses – nice guys can finish first.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Good luck to all the guys and gals who had to buy gifts. I hope your beloved doesn't turn their nose up at what you got! And to all the chicks scampering around with roses delivered to them at the office: try not to rub it in too much to the folks who didn't get any, OK? That's bad karma.

Now, before I go stuff myself with chocolate and those chalky little candy hearts, I had to share this bit of incredibly bad timing. An e-mail from a friend:

"You know how occasionally sends you e-mails with recommended purchases? This is the subject line for the one I just got: recommends He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys and more

"Happy freakin' Valentine's Day."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Day of love, multipartisan style

I don’t like writing about Valentine’s Day. Everyone has his or her own opinion on how to deal with it, sans a significant other or not.

And much like Valentine’s Day, I don’t like writing about politics. No matter what you say or how you say it or with what spin you put on it, you just simply cannot win.

In giving it some heavy thought – over a Bojangles’ biscuit and a small sweet tea – I think there's some striking similarities between a person’s political stance and his or her approach to Valentine’s Day. Yes, this might be stretching things a bit and it might lean a tad toward stereotyping, but I’ve never seen a comparison chart of two such vastly different topics. So here’s my attempt:

Democrats: In this liberal relationship, both partners receive gifts. They’re the ones walking around Hallmark with the 4-by-6 foot Garfield “I love you” card. Valentine’s Day is spent with breakfast in bed, a picnic lunch, and a five-star steak dinner preceding a trip to the movie theater.
Republicans: With the more conservative approach, the lady is the one who is showered with gifts, chocolates and flowers. Guys take a backseat on this holiday. A typical Valentine’s Day would include the lady receiving red roses at work and the kids making Mom dinner.
Independents: These are the couples who will often decide together to boycott the holiday because, well, why do you need one day of the year to express your love? They might purchase a card for each other, but the festivities are spread throughout the year.
Green Party: Valentine’s gift ideas for a Green Party member – subscription to National Geographic, a basket filled with herbal tea and tofu and an aloe plant instead of commercial roses.
Libertarians: Don’t be surprised to see these folks throwing a Valentine’s Day party. Why not? Play some games, eat some food, drink some wine. As a party that believes in strong civil liberties, this group isn’t going to hold anything back when celebrating.
Socialist Labor Party: Doesn’t Valentine’s Day fall on a Wednesday this year? Um, yeah. So these people are going to treat Wednesday just like every other Wednesday. Get up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, go to bed and repeat the next day. It’s as simple as that.

Got any more political parties and similarities?

Monday, February 12, 2007

V-Day: Damned if you do .. or don't

I've got single friends scattered all over the place planning anti-Valentine's Day celebrations.

Oh, I know where the impulse comes from. The Valentine's backlash is almost as strong as the unyielding force that pushes so many people toward flowers, fancy dinners, lingerie and good chocolate on Feb. 14.

I used to embrace the "anti" concept. Because of uncanny relationship timing (looking back, I may have had more of a hand in that than I care to admit), I've spent more Valentine's Days as a single woman than as a girlfriend. So I did the "flirt madly with hotties in the club" thing. I did the "raucous night out drinking with girlfriends" thing. I did the "stay at home, drink cheap wine, eat Chinese food and watch sad movies" thing. I did the "meditate on where you are in life and open yourself up for love" thing, complete with the "cleansing" burning of the sage. And I've come to the conclusion that the anti-Valentine's Day celebrations are just as toxic as the Valentine's Day ones.

But really, what can people -- single or attached -- do? We've all been conditioned that Feb. 14 is a day of such romantic significance that even revelling in the rebellion is significant. I plan on treating Wednesday like it's a regular day, and even THAT is sending a message. You can't win for losing, in other words.

I even tried to start a mutiny in my last relationship. You can imagine how it went. We had been together only about three months, and I tried to take the pressure off by saying we didn't have to celebrate Valentine's Day. I patiently -- and, I thought, rationally -- explained my reasoning. Valentine's Day is a manufactured holiday that holds no real meaning. The day is awash in a sea of unrealistic expectations. Men get the worst deal of all, because they're supposed to produce the perfect gift -- if it's not shiny and expensive, it must be the most well-thought-out and heartfelt present ever. Plus, we were so new, I argued, how could we know each other's likes and dislikes? So let's just not get each other anything. Besides, the year has 364 other days for romantic possibilities.

My boyfriend said he agreed. He said it was a good idea that made sense. There were kisses and laughter. I breathed a deep sigh of relief, and was proud of this, our first big decision as a couple.

Then Valentine's Day rolled around, and he got me a card anyway. I got him nothing ... because that was the agreement. His feelings were hurt. "I didn't think that 'nothing' included cards," he whined. All I could do was shake my head.

So after years of Valentine's Days as a single and an attached person, I've come to this conclusion: All we can do is grit our teeth and power through it. Do whatever you've got to do to get to Feb. 15 and still be able to sleep in your own bed, talk freely with friends and loved ones, and look at yourself in the mirror with a clear conscience. If that means reservations at your beloved's favorite restaurant, do it. If that means partying with your single friends at an anti-Valentine's celebration, do it. If that means choosing a gift that didn't come from a convenience store or clearance rack, do it. If that means sitting at home, eating Ben & Jerry's and sobbing at the end of "Sleepless in Seattle," do it.

There is no judgment here. We're all going through the same thing.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Music to set the mood

Deirdre: Hello, young (and young at heart) lovers! Are you getting geared up for Valentine's Day? We've got something to help things go smooth-like: A dozen songs to get you in the mood. And while you may have heard these before, you probably haven't had a chance to get sick of them thanks to heavy radio rotation.
Alisha: And knowing what you guys know about us, you can probably guess Deirdre and I have not selected the same songs!
Deirdre: HA! So true!

Alisha: So, whatcha got on your playlist?
Deirdre: First on my list has to be a Marvin Gaye song. Not "Let's Get It On"; that's overplayed. I'm talking 'bout "I Want You." The song is candid and mature, and it's a perfect blend of love and lust, the sacred and the sensual.
Alisha: Who doesn't love Marvin Gaye? ... Topping my list is Tracy Byrd’s “Keeper of The Stars.” I’ll be honest: This is mine and my husband’s “song.” It’s just one of those country love ballads that speak right to the heart.
Deirdre: Sounds sweet. Next I'd have to go with a tune that's almost a standard: "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" It's one of the most romantic songs I've ever heard. It's been recorded by lots of great singers, but I'm partial to the version we sample here, by Mr. Mel Torme.
Alisha: I have to go with Greensboro, N.C.-based punk band, Athenaeum. A good friend turned me on to this group back in 1997. "No One" is a must-listen: "And out on your doorstep I was all butterflies/'Cause all of the moonlight in the sky/Was no match for your eyes."
Deirdre: Nice. I mentioned oft-recorded standards earlier, and here's another -- only it's Spanish: "Adoro." Every time I hear it, I sigh. Who wouldn't melt at the thought that another person adores everything about them? "You are my existence, my emotion/you are my moon, you are my sun/you are my night of love."
Alisha: Never heard “Adoro” before. You’re so worldly, Deirdre! … I'm a huge fan of Disney soundtracks. One of my faves, and it's a great song for those shy men out there, is "Kiss the Girl" from "The Little Mermaid."
Deirdre: Heh. Not too emphasize our differences too much, but I gotta mix it up and go with "Closer," by Nine Inch Nails. Sometimes you don't want tenderness and romance; you want rough passion. "Closer" is edgy, profane, obsessive and more than a little kinky. Totally hot.
Alisha: Hey, I can throw out a dirty ditty - country music style. And, this isn't one you'll find at any wedding ceremony - at least not the sober ones! Conway Twitty's "I'd Love to Lay You Down." One critic noted of this song: "Suggestive adult lyrics like these contributed a lot to Twitty's enduring popularity."
Deirdre: SOLD! I'm a big fan of cheesy '80s power ballads, so I have to include a perfect example of one: "This Could Be the Night," by Loverboy. It's all overwrought emotion and lyrics that don't quite make sense, but the message is clear: somebody's gettin' laid tonight!
Alisha: It's a good thing we have soundclips - I haven't heard half of your songs before! Speaking of the '80s - despite the fact I was 10 when this album came out - I love U2's "All I Want Is You." The lyrics tell your significant other that he or she will be given stories, harbors and diamonds, and all they have to do is be there.
Deirdre: Hey ... I just realized we don't have any chicks on this list! I'm gonna go the total opposite of today's screaming divas and pick Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love." I'm a big fan of string sections, plus this is a dreamy, understated seduction made even sexier, I think, by the fact the woman is doing the seducing here. The look of love/Is in your eyes/A look your smile can't disguise ...
Alisha: I sense a theme with your selections: Deirdre's Top Nookie Songs. I guess I'll settle for being your sidekick with my final choice. How about LL Cool J's "Hey Lover." It's all about a crush - and what better song for Valentine's Day? "I wonder one day could it be, simple dreams turnin' into reality/Our love would come down so naturally/we would walk down the isle of destiny."

Readers, we know we missed some genres, and we're ready to raid iTunes to build the perfect romantic mix. Got any favorites you want to recommend?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Me and musicians don't mix

One of my New Year's resolutions was tested this past weekend: "I resolve to stop cutting certain guys extra slack just because they're super hot. "

I'm not surprised. I had a feeling that would be the hardest one to stick to.

A group of girlfriends and I went to a NoDa club to hear a musician we like. This musician, a drummer and singer from the Bobby McFarrin school of performance -- except with all the talent, yet none of the obnoxiousness -- had another drummer with him as accompaniment. This other drummer was yummy: tall and lean, with bedroom brown eyes, dreadlocks past his shoulders, and a sexy, gray-sprinkled Van Dyke (the 'stache-goatee combo that's so popular these days).

We wound up meeting the two guys after the show, and later joining them at another bar down the street. However, the guys were being pulled every which way by enthusiastic groupies, so I and another of the girls decided to call it a night. As we left, we said goodbye; they were very flirty in their farewells. While my friend got a kiss on the cheek and several touchy-feely hugs from the main musician, I chatted with the dreadlocked sidekick. As we talked, he had a moment of realization that I love: the moment where a man realizes he's a tallish guy chatting eye-to-eye with a tallish woman ... and he likes it.

"How tall are you?" he asked, after a surprised pause.

"Six feet," I responded.

"Yeah," he said with a dreamy smile of appreciation, reaching for another hug. Suede jacket. Strong arms. Dreads brushing my face. Lord have mercy. "Six feet. I need me something like that."

"I'm available," I heard myself say, mentally doing a double-take at my boldness. I had a couple of his dreads in my fingers at this point, playing with them; he didn't seem to mind.

He laughed. "Awww, don't you start!"

I decided it was really time for me to leave, before I did something rash. We were standing close and he asked my name again, wanting to get the last name correct. He knew where I worked and said he would look me up on the Observer site.

Riiiiiight. Dude probably forgot my name before I made it to the door.

But, see, here's the thing. I went through The Musician Phase before. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about? When you think guitarists are sooo sexy, or drummers are really hot, or nimble-fingered keyboard players totally turn you on? And you want to try to date them? Yeah, I caught that fever a few years back. I was a starry-eyed groupie of a great cover band, with the lead guitarist serenading me during shows (how hot is THAT?!), but he quickly lost interest after I repeatedly refused to take him home with me. And I've got photos of myself wrapped around a foxy, dreadlocked Jamaican drummer I clicked with after a reggae concert. He gave me his number, but a woman answered the phone when I called a few days later. She wasn't his sister. (Ooops.)

Even though I've already been through that phase, the other night I briefly considered contacting the dreaded drummer through the main musician's Web site. Then my New Year's resolution -- and common sense -- kicked in. I don't want to be a stop on some dude's booty call tour. The lyrics to a song from an Elvis movie kept running through my head: "I love only one girl/the one I put my arms around/I love only one girl/one in every town." I'm not gonna be that girl.

Besides, one of my friends unwittingly made it easy for me. Turns out after my early exit, she and dreads had a little make-out session. It stopped there, but when I found out, that killed the attraction for me. I don't do anything with men who've been physical with my friends. Sloppy seconds? Not my thing.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sex and health issues: It's our duty to speak up

After reading this story, I knew I wanted to find an angle to blog about.

I enlisted my husband’s help. I read aloud the majority of the article, both of us snug in our king-sized bed, and with each sentence, he rolled his eyes. Frustrated, I said: “Look, this is serious stuff. What is it? Do you not care research suggests there are direct links to sexual problems and health issues?”

His response, laced with a direct, poignant tone: “Alisha, what does this story have to do with relationships, most specifically fodder for your blog?”

Thinking, shrugging and pondering. It hit me. It has everything to do with relationships. Cue the “in sickness and in health” portion of the marital vows.

We have a responsibility to our partner to watch over him or her. It should be our duty to monitor sexual problems, dysfunctions and quirks, and to report those to a health professional. If this research has even an ounce of accuracy, then just by speaking up, we could be the catalyst for treatment for possibly a more serious health condition.

Our sex lives, especially when there are problems – and, let’s face it, every couple has an issue at some point in time – are not to be taken lightly. We’re talking about our health here, people, not just our libidos or lack thereof.

Indeed, this research has everything to do with relationships.

“Till death do us part.”