Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hooked on 'Bachelorette'

I have to say, I'm a fan of "The Bachelorette" this season. Unlike the salaciousness of "A Shot at Love II" or the hot mess that is anything Flavor Flav is involved in, this show really seems to have the goal of a real relationship as its outcome. Well, as "real" as a relationship can be in six weeks with camera crews everywhere and 25 men competing for the attention of one woman.

What I like is the bachelorette, DeAnna Pappas, has decided she wants a husband-to-be at the end of this process, and she's let all the guys know it. The woman is 26 and she wants three kids by the time she's 30. She ain't playing around. I believe that people who want to be married and are ready to be married, will be married. Once you've decided, you try to find someone with the same life goals and you figure out if you can embrace the things you like about them and accept the things you don't. Because isn't that what marriage is all about? Love, yes, but also acceptance, understanding and compromise?

I think the most affecting episode happened this week, when DeAnna sent home Graham (pictured), the Raleigh native. Most people watching -- me included -- could sympathize with DeAnna's situation. She was attracted to Graham from the moment they met. She said he made her feel like a giddy schoolgirl. When she was with him, she couldn't keep her hands off him. She said she felt totally comfortable around him. And yet, not only did Graham have a problem with her dating other guys simultaneously (hasn't he ever seen the show?), he also didn't feel comfortable expressing his feelings. There were times it was obvious his mind was teeming with thoughts, but he wouldn't say a word. Total opposite of DeAnna. That standoffishness was probably part of his charm at first, but ultimately DeAnna got rid of him because she couldn't take the chance that he wasn't falling for her right back. (BTW, Graham has pretty much said he wasn't feelin' it, but if that's the case, speak up, dude! Just say you wanted TV exposure! She'd recover and move on!)

Yeah, DeAnna can be self-centered and irritating (alarm bells go off when she talks about the "perfect" life she could have with Jeremy ... or Jason), and yeah, the guys can come off as doofs, and yeah, situations are manufactured for TV. But it's still a fun show to watch, 'cause it's like Dating 101. You see how first impressions really can make or break you. Or if you're a nice person, but you have nothing in common with the one you're dating and there's no chemistry, it's not going anywhere ... and it really may be as simple as "she's just not that into you."

Relationship Mad Lib

Are you tired of playing soduku or Pogo's 'poppit' online? Here’s an entertaining outlet that not only could be rather humorous, but it might also enlighten your partner -- Relationship Mad Lib! As a kid, I loved filling out creative mad libs, (a word game that prompts one to list words for blanks in a story) and who says we can’t still “play” them as adults?

Here’s a mad lib – applicable to either married folks or singles. I’ll paste mine below, and I hope some of you will copy and paste your answers in the comments section. (And, yes, I came up with this on my own!)

Here goes, and oh, have some fun!

Dreaming Up The Perfect Date

If I were to go on a perfect date, I’d love to take ______ (date’s name) to ______ (city name). We would begin our evening by going to a _______ (adjective) restaurant, where we’d eat lots of ______ (food) and ______ (food). Spending the evening ______ (“ing” verb) at ______'s (date's name) ______ (body part, something similar) would definitely top off the best time together. For dessert, I want to take ______ (date’s name) to the fun ______ (place). There, we’ll jump on the large red _______ (noun) and I’ll buy him/her the ______ (adjective) present, such as a ______ (adjective) ______ (noun).
You know, it’s amazing how dating someone so ________ (adjective) and ______ (adjective) can complete me. I’ve always wanted a man/woman who had a large ______ (noun) and who wants to ______ (verb) with me. Our night would end ______ (adverb) with his/her ______ (body part) on my ______ (noun).


Alisha's version:

If I were to go on a perfect date, I’d love to take Richard to Miami. We would begin our evening by going to a semi-fancy restaurant, where we’d eat lots of steak and cheesecake. Spending the evening staring at Richard's smile would definitely top off the best time together. For dessert, I want to take Richard to the fun amusement park. There, we’ll jump on the large red ferris wheel and I’ll buy him/her the biggest present, such as a black gorilla.
You know, it’s amazing how dating someone so compassionate and honest can complete me. I’ve always wanted a man/woman who had a large sense of humor and who wants to laugh with me. Our night would end sweetly with his/her hands on my face.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Trend: Divorced couples living together

Gas prices, foreclosures, going green and bad credit are the hot buzzwords of 2008, and in these trying economic times, we’re all going about our lives with a different mindset than we did even five years ago.

One example of the changing times: Divorced couples are living together in the same house because they cannot afford to divide their assets, sell their house and move on.

Last week, The Boston Globe’s Lisa Prevost examined one divorced couple’s experience of trying to sell their home in a down market, all while having to cohabitate with their children.

When I first heard of the article, I immediately thought of a few friends who are in Charlotte and in the same predicament. It’s further proof this dilemma is not confined to just metropolitan cities like Boston, but it is in fact right in our own neighborhoods.

There are so many issues with divorced couples living together – too many to list and everyone’s situation is unique depending on children, finances and other intangibles – that it is hard for me to judge anyone going through it. But there is one important lesson to be gleaned from this new trend: It further enforces the idea that marriage is a long-term commitment and you need to be truly ready to take that step.

Heaven knows you don't want the future to include you living in the basement while your ex resides in the attic.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pregnancy pact reveals underlying issues

Here's a story that'll give you pause: Seventeen girls at Gloucester High School, located in a small Massachusetts fishing town, are pregnant. That's more than four times the number reported last year. The really shocking part is that at least half of those girls apparently made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.

None of the girls is older than 16. One of the fathers is a homeless 24-year-old.

In the story, 18-year-old Amanda Ireland offered her theory on why the girls decided to get pregnant. She had a baby during her freshman year and remembers some of the now-pregnant girls telling her how lucky she was to have a child. "They're so excited to finally have someone to love them unconditionally," she said. "I try to explain it's hard to feel loved when an infant is screaming to be fed at 3 a.m."

I find the whole situation so sad. The town of Gloucester is limping along financially as its jobs go overseas. "Families are broken," says school superintendent Christopher Farmer. "Many of our young people are growing up directionless." The fact these kids feel they have to have a baby in order to experience love is heartbreaking. And what kind of future can they provide their children? When you're 16, you're not thinking about details like that.

The school clinic's medical director and nurse practitioner started prescribing birth control after they'd administered around 150 pregnancy tests. Some parents took exception to that, saying they had no right to make that decision for their children. But in this case, would birth control even matter? This is a problem that goes way deeper than sex ed. Hopefully, those parents can see that.

Addendum: One of the pregnant girls came forward and claimed there was no pact, that some of the teens just decided to help each other in a difficult situation. Doesn't change the fact that there's still 17 moms-to-be this school year.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Addicted to fright

I love to be scared. Not "oh my god, you're pregnant?!" scared, but more of the on screen "don't open the closet!" scared. My girlfriend -- not so much. She left fingernail marks in my arm just from "Spider-Man 3" so I can't imagine what she'd do if I made her watch "Saw 3" with me. It's better for my health to just skip this sharing opportunity. I'll settle for watching football together.

I remember watching "Friday the 13th" marathons before I could talk. Jason Voorhees became my anti-hero. I know you shouldn't cheer for the bad guy but c'mon ... he has my name, wears a hockey mask and is indestructible. That's pretty cool. Oddly enough I can't remember a single nightmare caused by a horror film. The blood and gore overload must not have done any permanent damage ... occasionally I'll hear Tubular Bells from "The Exorcist" playing in my head but I've learned to live with it.

I've grown out of my splatter film phase. I actually look for a glimmer of plot or suspense over body count nowadays. Recently viewed flicks I'd recommend:
"The Descent," "The Orphanage," "Silent Hill," "Saw 1-4"

I don't want to abandon my obsession completely but I'm not one to force people to do things. So basically, when the girlfriend's away the horror flicks will play. It works out. I still get my occasional fix and she goes on thinking "Halloween" is just a holiday.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gay marriage: It's about time!

As I sat scrolling through the wire photos of people getting married today, the first full day that gay couples could get married in California, I almost started bawling at my desk. Everyone seemed to glow with happiness as they received marriage licenses or kissed after completing their vows. I think it's awesome they now have the option, and I'm optimistic about this step we've taken toward total equality in the U.S.

Just as many black Americans thought they'd never see a black man with a serious chance at becoming president in their lifetime, many gays thought they'd never have the legal right to get married. It's been quite a year, huh? And we're only halfway through it!

It was particularly touching for me to see photos of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as he performed ceremonies and celebrated with newly wedded couples. (He officiated at the wedding of Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84, in the photo above. Del and Phyllis have been together for over 50 years and were the first gay couple to marry in San Francisco.) Years ago, I watched while Newsom, then a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, stood onstage with 100 or so couples (two of my good friends included) as they were legally given domestic partnership status.

I was later best woman when those same friends had their commitment ceremony. The room overflowed with love and support as we rejoiced in their union. I doubt my friends will get married any time before November; ever cautious of their future, they'd want to be sure the legality of the marriages would stand. But I bet they'll be partying up a storm this weekend in San Francisco. I only wish I could be there with them.

How do you feel about the legalization of same-sex marriage? Are you as thrilled as I am? Are you over the topic and ready to move on? Or do you think allowing gay marriage takes the country in the wrong direction?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

(The lack of) gym etiquette

Gym relationships can be tough, because for the most part, it's a bunch of strangers sharing space and equipment. Some people can be clueless or disrespectful when dealing with fellow fitness buffs. (I'm talking about YOU, cell phone gossipers!)

Driving around this afternoon I heard an interview on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" with Newsweek reporter Tina Peng, who talked to some fitness club managers about gym rats' most obnoxious habits. The story was sparked by a Manhattan incident of gym rage: one guy became so annoyed by the grunts and shouts of a fellow rider in spin class that he tipped the other guy right off his bike and into a wall (been there, wanted to do that). Tina's list of offenses is impressive -- and yes, it includes some nut who used the sauna to make grilled cheese sandwiches, like the photo illustration above.

Not to be outdone, listeners called in with gross-out stories of their own. One dude saw a guy use the communal hair dryer to dry his private bits. Then a gym owner called to complain about people who spit in the water fountain. Ew.

What about you, area gym people? Seen anything that really ticks you off?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Wanted: Thriving singles group at church

A reader shares her dilemma:

I live near Ballantyne and am looking for a church close by with lots of singles. It seems to be a big problem around here. Carmel Baptist has lost many members; I went there for a long time. Calvary Church doesn't have a strong singles group, Church At Charlotte is in the process of building one, and the singles group at Forest Hill Church dissipated.

Can you ask the community for suggestions? Many singles feel without a home.

What say you, Relaters? Do you have any church suggestions for her?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

MANegories for the ladies

Ladies, are you still trying to figure out what kind of man you're after? Here's a handy list of the three basic MANegories for you to choose from. You're welcome:

Appearance: Always a sharp dresser and doesn't wear anything that's been tested on animals. Has a closet full of pink button ups and dry-cleaned underwear.
Drink: Whatever she's having.
Food: Spoon feeding his date builds an appetite. A squash and zucchini medley should suffice.
Mood Music: Anything from the current "American Idol" winner.
Sex: Probably the best sex you'll ever have... if you can ignore the uncontrollable sobbing.

Appearance: On a rare occasion you might spot an Average Joe with his shirt tucked in.
Drink: Beer snobs. Will send a draft beer back if the glass isn't cold enough.
Food: Has never met a food combo he doesn't like. You could shove a full course meal in a blender and he'd drink it with a smile.
Mood Music: Plays it safe with the 80's "Monster Ballads" CD.
Sex: Solid performer but tends to have trouble focusing. Avoid watching "Lost" or anything with complicated plot twists before doin' the nasty.

Appearance: Are blue jeans acceptable at a wedding? They are if you're a Manly Man!
Food: Anything that might possibly fight back.
Drink: Domestic tall boys are the drink of choice. WARNING! It's possible he'll shotgun it and crush the can on YOUR forehead.
Mood Music: Assumes Metallica's "Kill 'em All" gets all the ladies hot.
Sex: Sometimes gets sex confused with working out his abs. Stretch beforehand just to be safe. No matter what happens expect that he'll tell all his friends how awesome he was... don't worry, he'll tell you how awesome he was, too.

There are of course many other sub MANegories such as the Sugar Daddy, Great White Rapper and the elusive Man Candy but at least now you have a starting point.

Monday, June 02, 2008

I recommend 'Sex' with friends

Over the weekend I did what a lot of women did -- I went to see the new "Sex and the City" movie. (Don't worry; no spoilers here.) I didn't watch many episodes of the show, but I read so much about it, and had so many friends who constantly made "Sex" references, that I felt I knew the characters well enough to enjoy the movie.

I heard a critic refer to the movie as "the chick flick of the millennium," and he may be right. The complex I saw "Sex" in -- Phillips Place -- buzzed with feminine energy. Lots of women made an event out of it. There were so many cute summer dresses, and THE SHOES. My God. In my jeans, T-shirt (grabbed because it was clean) and flat thong sandals, I felt decidedly underdressed. I passed a gaggle of ladies standing in the lobby and asked a chatty, frock-wearing trio what they were waiting for. Turns out it was the line to enter the theater for a screening an hour later. "We came early because we wanted to get good seats together, and because we're psycho," one of the girls replied. But she was grinning, because her madness was shared.

I decided to go see "Sex and the City" opening weekend because I wanted to be a part of that energy. As we waited for the movie to start, the theater my friends and I sat in hummed like the crowd before a big concert. People clapped when the lights dimmed for the preview trailers. During the movie I laughed, gasped, cried, cheered and applauded with the rest of the audience. There's a reason "Sex and the City" is so popular with viewers. It's amazing how the characters' predicaments mirror so many real-life situations women face. (They fact that they do it while being ridiculously well-dressed is a lovely bonus.) Watching Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte together made me want to call my best friends and tell them I love them.

The next day, I squealed with glee when one of my closest friends phoned before I could call her. Turns out she had seen the movie as well, and her impulse was to call me, too! We recapped our favorite scenes (I waxed poetic about the sexiness of Chris Noth), and talked about the larger themes the movie represented: the complexity of romantic relationships and most of all, the power of female friendships.

Ladies if you haven't seen the movie yet, throw on a sassy outfit and some lip gloss, grab your friends and make a night of it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.