What Women Want

Take a look at any men’s health magazine the next time you’re in the grocery store. Notice the sheen of sweat that seems to be perpetually glistening on their skin, as if they’re in desperate need of a shower… or two. Admire the outrageously formidable, perfectly-formed pecs and cartoonishly rounded biceps. Drink in the sight of over-stimulated veins stretching across their forearms. Think ‘The Hulk’, but on steroids. This is every woman’s dream, right? Yeah, no.

This so-called ideal body type is being forced down men’s throats by other men. Just watch any superhero or action movie… the leads with biceps on top of biceps on top of biceps in some twisted homage to Popeye the Sailor Man, back muscles that you didn’t even know humans had, and abdominal muscles so defined you could count the muscle fibers. Women don’t admire the over-the-top superhero bod nearly as much as men do. It’s a power fantasy written by men for men. Being ripped isn’t appealing merely because they’re “more attractive” as a man; it’s more appealing because more strength equals more power.

Unfortunately, too many men buy into this whole idea that the sinewy, veiny, glistening body type is the only one that women desire.

Sigh…

The women I know don’t want the piles of muscles and veins. And we can do the rescuing for ourselves, thank you very much. We don’t need Johnny Protein Powder to do it for us; we’ve been doing it for years before he came along.

What do women want, you ask? Let’s start with a brain that doesn’t have its cells clogged by creatine. They want your chivalrous (note: chivalrous, not chauvinistic) actions to show how much you care for them, six-packs be damned. Rather than the models on work-out magazines, give us a man with substance.

Give us David Tennant and the Tenth Doctor’s undying affection for those he loves.  Give us Timothy Olyphant from The Crazies, who refused to flee a zombie-infected area without his wife because he was so devoted to her. Of course, I would be remiss not to mention Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. While he may have been an arrogant asshole when we first met him, his heart was in the right place.  There’s a reason why women loved Jim Halpert in The Office. It definitely wasn’t his work-out routine. Laurie from Little Women was aloof and misguided at times, but he was fiercely devoted and loved passionately. I’d take a Laurie over a Hasselhoff any day of the week.

So, men, you want to know what women want? Go ask your women friends who their fictional crushes are. I dare you. You may be surprised at their answers.

 

Keeping Up Appearances

Ladies, we all know that the pressures of society are a considerable weight to bear. Day after day, we get advertisements and marketing ploys shoved in our faces demanding that we look younger, thinner, more done-up than can ever be achieved naturally. If you don’t look good enough, someone is bound to tell you. But careful! If you look too good, it’s bound to be used against you. A zero-sum game played by wannabe winners.

And fellas, you’re not entirely immune either. The media constantly portrays what a “real” man should look like, what he should do, what beverages he should drink (hint: they say it’s beer and only beer). Society maintains that all men should have the washboard abs or swooping hair. They say all men should wear fine suits or rugged jeans – no in-between.

It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Yet we find ourselves falling for these traps, not just in how we judge ourselves but how we perceive others. Ugh, human nature… it sucks.

Here’s the worst part of it all – at the very end, the last stop on the train, the final exit off the road of life, there’s still pressure from society. You would think that we get some reprieve in our last moments above ground. You would think that our own funerals, the celebrations and memorials of our lives, would be the place where societal norms would be laid to rest for a brief moment (see what I did there?).

Nope.

We can’t let our guard down for a minute; death be damned. We need to keep up appearances. We have to make sure we look peaceful and angelic and gorgeous for our grieving loved ones to admire. Otherwise, we are exposed to the dreaded commentary of those in attendance, while we are powerless to change anything.

I can’t be the only one. I’m sure you’ve heard this narrative at funerals too.

“Oh, doesn’t her makeup look lovely!”

“Look what a good job they did on her hair!”

“My, what wonders they did with his face.”

Umm, excuse me… what?

What’s worse, there’s a flip side to that coin.

“Ooh, you can barely recognize him. How terrible.”

“She would have never done her makeup that heavily, this simply doesn’t do her justice.”

“Oh dear, she would have never been caught dead in that dress…”

Honestly, people! Can we not show a little respect by holding thoughts in our mind instead of speaking them out loud? It is possible to do, you know. No, really, it is.

We all grieve in our own unique ways, but this kind of grieving can be done on your own time. The funeral service is not the time to discuss the shade of lipstick chosen or the volume of their hair. They can’t even defend the choices themselves, for Pete’s sake.

Sure, the positive comments are often made to comfort the grieving family and bring some kind words to the fore. And I get it; it’s hard to know exactly what to say to the family or even to the others in attendance. Funeral homes don’t exactly spark the best conversations. But check your “thought filters” before you leave the house, so you don’t end up saying something to make things more morbid than they already are.

I seriously want to know, though: just how good are people supposed to look at their own funerals? Why is there a standard? Have we asked ourselves why we care so much about people’s appearance while their eternal soul is laid to rest? It seems there would be more pressing matters to consider. If ever there was a time in someone’s life, this definitely seems like the time to not be worried about hair, clothing, or overall appearance.

Alas, societal pressure is destined to weigh heavy on our shoulders – right up to the bitter end.

Looks are Deceiving

Beautiful Shaylee, fairy princess of the field, caught up in a reverie.

Hmmm… what are the odds of my survival should I opt to destroy my human servant while she sleeps tonight? She IS very good about buying my favorite food and sharing the canned tuna. But then again, I could always just get another stupid human to do my bidding. Decisions, Decisions…

 

Snob Appeal

During the trying times we find ourselves in, I find myself dreaming of doing things that were once so commonplace. I look forward to going to the movies again, for example. I eagerly await the day that I can go to a live concert. And oh, what a day it will be when we can dine at our favorite restaurants again! When the dust has settled, a nice dinner in the spiffy part of the city will be the first order of business.

There’s nothing quite like a dinner out on the town. The anticipation of the evening, the elegant clothes, the ambiance of the restaurant, the tiny portions – wait, the tiny portions? Maybe that’s not exactly a highlight. Come to think of it, the elf-size portions are the worst part. Why are we paying exorbitant amounts of money for such teeny scoops of food on oversized plates? That’s why I prefer the taco truck at the park … good food and lots of it.

Some of these Michelin Star restaurants are really giving folks the run-around with their menu. First of all, they’re serving people fish eggs on crackers and charging $125 per plate. What the hell? And people willingly order this dish, night after night. It’s amazing to me. Not to mention, it’s highway robbery.  I mean, these patrons do know it’s fish eggs, right? I find that hard to believe since they eat it with such relish. Well, maybe not relish, but they do seem to enjoy it. Seriously though, I’d bet good money that a lot of them only order fish eggs to give the impression of being aristocratic – just to fit in with the crowd around them. 

If only there were a way to conduct a social experiment and put these guests to the test. Invite them to the grand opening of a high-end restaurant but serve them low-end dishes, at premium prices, of course. With enough fluffy words and high enough prices, I’m sure we could convince people to pay top dollar for not-so-top-dollar meals.

That’s it! That’s my next business venture! I’m going to open a restaurant and call it “Paradox,” serving a high-class atmosphere with low-class cuisine. We’ll tell everyone that the most exotic ingredients are being used to create the unique dishes at sky-high prices. People will eat it up – literally.

Now, what dishes to serve… Mac n’ Cheese will become “Pasta du Fromage.” Peanut Butter and Jelly is now “Blitzed Nuts and Lingonberry Compote Crostini.” And “Crumbled Japanese Kobe Beef and Pasta with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce” is, you guessed it, Hamburger Helper. It’s perfect! And can you imagine the profit margins?

Sure, the guests who dine at the restaurant may tilt their heads and say, “Hmm, this seems familiar,” but do you think they would speak up about it? Absolutely not! They would never shatter the illusion of their posh lifestyle, especially in the presence of their posh peers. They would never risk upsetting the ostentatious status quo.

So many people pay for bragging rights rather than the product. What do I mean? People would rather pay for the overpriced tuna casserole at my new restaurant and post about their experience on social media than potentially miss out on the latest craze. They pay through the nose to make sure they stay a card-carrying member of the “in” crowd and experience the finer things in life. The thing is, they don’t fully enjoy the finer things (remember… fish eggs); they just want them because their peers do. They have FOMO – Fear of Missing Out, and it’s an expensive condition to have.

This sad truth makes me wonder if our “follow the crowd” instincts as humans are even meant for survival anymore. To me, it seems that our current culture takes advantage of it, and rather than benefiting us, it leads us to a place of nonsense – full of fish eggs and empty wallets.

Breaking the Chain

We’ve all seen the dreaded posts on our Facebook timelines:

“Like this photo or get ten years of bad luck!”

“Share this post and pass on a hug – I bet most of you won’t!”

“If you don’t comment and share this picture, all the evil of Pandora’s Box will fall on your head!”

Not to date myself, but… gag me with a spoon.

I thought with the death of sending letters through snail mail, the extinction of chain letters would also come about – wrong! Oh, so very wrong! It feels like the age-old tradition of chain mail has mutated into chain posts, chain comments, and chain messages – and it’s quickly spiraling out of control.

Recently, the trend has been to “test” your friends with these asinine posts. “Look at those who take the time to read to the very end and comment,” they all say. “Those are your true friends!”

Are they? Are they really your true friends? Is this how you judge the quality of your friendship?

What if you’re stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire? Are you going to turn to the people who commented on your Facebook post, and nobody else? What about bail money? Are they going to send you bail money? Or better yet, be right there in the cell with you after a weekend of debauchery.

What about this scenario: you need someone to talk to because you’re having a hard day. Your friend can see that you’re struggling, so they approach you and ask what’s wrong. Before you say a word, you hold up your finger and open the Facebook app. You check your post and see that this person never commented on it. “Sorry,” you say. “You’re not a true friend that I can confide in. You never commented on my “if you’re a true friend” post from this morning.”

None of us (at least, I hope none of us) would screen our friends like that in real life. So why subject our friends to that screening process on the internet?

Attention – that’s why. People love to get the likes, shares, comments, and conversations around their posts. They feel good when people notice them, and it’s completely fine to want to feel noticed. Until it’s taken it to this unhealthy level.

I recently came across this post on my Facebook timeline:

Too. Far. It used to be an annoying fad, but now it’s crossed the line.

To be clear, the person who made this post was not recently (or ever, as far as I’m aware) diagnosed with cancer. Why on earth would they want to worry their friends in this way? Someone very near and dear to me died from cancer. I mourn his loss still… it’s fresh in my heart, like it was yesterday. I have loved ones who have lost their battle. I have more who still struggle against cancer daily. I’m sure we all know someone. Cancer is an insidious disease that touches just about everyone in some way or another. Just because it’s common doesn’t make it fair game for ludicrous social media posts.

Do you know what a real friend would do if they read this post on your timeline? They would stop reading after the very first sentence. Their heart would leap into their throat, their stomach would twist into knots, and adrenaline would start rushing through their veins. They wouldn’t comment; they would be too busy picking up the phone to call you and ask if you were okay or if there was anything they could do to support you. That’s what a real friend does in a time of crisis – they reach out in real life.

If they made it through the whole post, heart in their throat, only to realize it’s a “trick,” a true friend might still reach out… if for no other reason than to slap you silly for posting such a ridiculous thing.

I understand that we love our social media. I understand that many jokes and pranks will be circulated with a few hundred thousand clicks. But please, for the love of all things good and pure, think before you post. Don’t mislead your friends and family with attention-seeking fodder, just to give yourself a nanosecond of happiness when someone comments on your post. And do not ever joke about cancer.

Try posting something worth sharing instead. You really want to raise awareness and honor those who have battled cancer in the past? Go to the Fuck Cancer organization – post their message on your Facebook timeline, and make a real difference with the content you share with your “true” friends.

Game On

You may have noticed, but the world is plunging into chaos. Polar bears are on the verge of extinction, there’s a great big vortex of plastic floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and well, you know… *waving vaguely at everything.* I’m not naming names or anything, but if the world were Gotham City the supervillains would be winning right about now, and Batman and Batwoman seem to be on hiatus.

We spend so much time wondering when Clark Kent is going to fly in to save the day, complete with his underpants on the outside of his pants (go figure, obviously some human cultural norms slipped past him after he crash landed) that most of us don’t realize there are millions of gamers around the planet fighting evil, likewise in their underwear, every single day. Okay, so the evil they fight is on the screen, but honestly, what’s the difference between a modern politician and a Quake 4 demon zombie anymore? If the two were in a game of “spot the difference,” I think many people would get very, very flustered trying to work out the puzzle.

Forget Superman. What if our heroes are already here on Earth? Think about it. All comic superheroes are nerds, or at least start out that way. And I mean that with the utmost respect. Superman is a journalist in his usual civilian life. Tony Stark is a complete tech-head. And Wonder Woman, well she’s just wonderful. You could even make an argument that Deadpool himself is somewhat of geek. I mean, he’s a hardcore fan of Dragon Ball, after all.  Point is, all these superheroes started off as quirky outsiders sitting around in their pajamas before getting bitten by a nuclear spider or flung into the far reaches of space and deciding to don leotard outfits, or, you know, stay in their pajamas.

Nerds. Are. Our. Future.

No one has more practice slaying demons, dragons, and whatever other monster you can possibly think of than gamers. If aliens come to attack planet Earth, or heaven forbid, a zombie outbreak occurs, it will be gamers that will be most trained in the art of holding their nerve and planning a survival strategy.

They are our superheroes.

And slowly they are gaining more and more exposure and recognition. Gaming is now big business. American teenager Kyle Giersdorf won $3 million in New York this past July after taking the top prize in a tournament for the popular online video game Fortnite. That’s a hell of a lot better than the chump change the rest of us make. And hell, most of us aren’t even doing anything nearly as fun to earn our paycheck. Speaking of which, in the office wars, I bet most gamers would come out on top as well.

I mean, seriously, any list of gaming skills reads like the perfect CV. I know I’ve said this before, but gamers have to have some serious skills to be good at what they do. Not only do their reflexes need to be as sharp as samurai masters, but they have to stay focused and keep a cool head under pressure.  They need to be able to strategize and juggle multiple tasks at once. In addition, they need to understand and remember numerous complex backstories and be proactive in finding and exploiting glitches to the betterment of their mission or team. Don’t even get me started on stamina or mental acuity… gamers are capable of sustaining a high level of concentration and can stay on task far longer than just about any office dweller. Reliability, problem-solving, productive risk-taking… I’m telling you, they’ve got it all. Such talent surely translates into marketable skills, if not the potential for true greatness.  Come on, gamers, we’re looking at you… you are the future.

Game on.

Age is Just a … Fraction

Recently in one of my social media groups, a group member posted, “Roll call! Where are you from, and how old are you?” Now, this post intended to explore if there was any correlation between a love of classic movies and people’s ages. Things were going well with the post, plenty of comments and activity on it which was all kind of interesting, really, when suddenly, this comment came through:

“I am 49 and a half.”

[Insert crickets chirping here.]

Wait, hold on a minute here! Do we still get to count our ages in halves? Is that a thing past grade school?

More importantly, should I be counting halves of my age? Is there a backlog of half-birthday parties, gifts, and general celebrations that I am owed? If so, should I hold one half-birthday celebration every month to catch up, or one ginormous half-birthday extravaganza?

I think I’ll go with the extravaganza – that’s a fun word to say, and it will look great on an invitation.

I need to have words with my family and friends. Surely they were aware of this half-birthday business and decided to be economical instead of showering me with gifts twice a year. Rude.

Wait, if this person has counted their age in halves for 49 years (and a half) that begs the question: is there an age cap on half-ages? Do people count their ages in halves right up to the bitter end, or only until retirement?

And another question: if there are people out there counting their age in halves, are there also people who take it one step further? Are there people who count their age in quarters? What about eighths? Entertaining the idea of half-ages opens up a whole can of worms that none of us are ready for, if you ask me. There’s a world of fractions out there, folks. Do we really want to delve into the mathematical pit?

Side note: if you or someone you love counts their age in quarters or eighths, there is hope. Don’t stay silent. Reach out, get help.

Moving on…

Can you imagine if half-ages were used as age qualifiers for everything in our lives? For example, you couldn’t legally drink until you were 21… and a half. You can’t vote (or smoke) until you’re 18… and a half. No rental cars for you until you’re 25… and a half. Those half-birthdays seem like a bigger deal now, don’t they?

Age isn’t even the half of it. (ha!) There are so many things that would be strange to count in halves. Imagine that you’re grocery shopping. You pick out a few tomatoes but feel like you just need a teeny-tiny bit more to make your recipe perfect. So, what do you do? You use your fingers to squeeeeze the tomato and rip it clean in half. Well, not so clean. There’s tomato juice all over your hands, dripping onto the floor, leaking onto the other tomatoes, your sneakers now look like you’ve been walking through a crime scene. And when you reach the checkout counter, the clerk calmly swipes the half-tomato across the scanner and puts it in a bag with the others, leaving a trail of tomato juice and seeds across the belt and the scanner.

Do you think this is just a tad far-fetched? Do you think this is out of the realm of possibility? I thought adults counting their ages in halves was, too – yet, here we are. Buying half-tomatoes and renting cars at 25 and a half, and probably ordering half-pizzas for dinner tonight.

But I digress – I’m only half-joking.

Age is just a number; this much is true. Now, I find out that age is just a fraction. I’m not quite sure what to do with this information.

So, why not go for it, then?  Host the half-birthday extravaganza of your dreams (or half of your dreams) and invite all your friends (or half of them), eat plenty of cake (or half of a piece).

Just be sure to enjoy every minute wholly.

Missed Connections

Craigslist has brought us some of the most memorable and shocking content of our time. People have tried to sell a piece of cheese for $100, put out ads for replacement friends, and even given away human-sized hamster wheels for free (it’s a thing, look it up).

But some of the brightest gems of Craigslist are found in the most intriguing section: Missed Connections.

This corner of the internet is the perfect place for you to search for your better weirder half. Have you ever been mesmerized by someone dressed in a sloth costume? Have you been completely smitten with the Taco Bell employee taking your order? Or have you fallen in love with a mugshot on the local news channel?

Some people have. And in pursuit of connection (or something like that), they appealed to the Missed Connections gods. For your reading pleasure, here are some of the best.

  1. I YAM IN LOVE

Okay, I can’t help but wonder how old is the OP? He mentions that the Crazy Lady is in her 50’s or 60’s, so I feel like we need some added context. Age is just a number, and love knows no bounds, yadda, yadda – but we need to know! Is this a gentleman of a similar age, or a young man making a head-tilting plea to the internet?

Knowing Craigslist, it’s probably the latter. I hope he brought enough sugar to the yam candifying party.

  1. MIXED SIGNALS

Man, what a turn we took there! I don’t know what’s better, the fact that the OP still posted the ad after completely changing his mind about finding the person he made out with, or the fact that there is a festival called “Plough and Stars” in Philadelphia.

Don’t worry, OP. We’ve all been there. At least it was ‘pretty solid.’

  1. HOLD YOUR HORSES

Even though this is a short post, there’s a lot to unpack here. OP is kind enough to post on behalf of their friend, which is the sweetest part of this whole mess. But, apparently, seeing a horse in a hotel just wasn’t enough for the friend, they had to take it one step further and find the horse’s owner!

I have even more questions than that, though. Why was the horse in the hotel in the first place? Why was the horse left unattended? Did anyone sneak him in, or did the horse sneak in himself?

Considering that the location is listed as “not sure,” the world may never know.

  1. STEALING YOUR HEART

There are just… so many things. My forehead is sore from face-palming, just from this post alone.

OP, maybe you haven’t been an accessory of a crime before, but did you honestly not expect the routine pat-down? I guarantee it was not a gesture of love, ma’am. And speaking of which, what “romantic” movies are you watching if you thought being roughly grabbed by the arm and dragged into a room was romantic?

You know what, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.

I hope that when you did do go to court, you at least pretended to support your friend while you were eyeing up your Loss Prevention Lover.

  1. EXPRESS YOUR LOVE

This ad is the best, the winner, the ultimate champion. I know that 2009 was a weird time for everyone, but this guy takes the cake.

Honestly, I give mad props to the OP. Even in the most vulnerable position known to humankind, he made smooth moves on his lady love. I’m not sure what I would have said at that moment, but “hey beautiful lady,” definitely wouldn’t have been it. And he does have a point – their relationship just advanced like, a whole year now that she’s seen him pooping. I just hope she likes Indian food too.

If you’re on the hunt for a partner who lives just on this side of stalkerdom, do yourself a favor and peruse the Craigslist missed connections. Your one true love may be searching for you too.

Just a Number

The other day someone asked me, “What’s the latest age that someone should begin to write?”

My answer to them?

When you’re dead. Then, it is definitely too late to start writing, I’m sorry to say. Unless you are reincarnated as the next Stephen King or James Patterson, in which case I suppose you’ve managed to circumvent the limitations of time anyway, which is a pretty nifty trick, if you ask me.

There should never be an age cap on writing. To be clear, there should never be an age cap on anything you love to do. I know I’ve talked about this before, but too often we convince ourselves that there are age limits or expiration dates on starting new hobbies, learning new skills, or even continuing to do things we already know and enjoy. I say to hell with that nonsense.

Remember Sergeant Roger Murtaugh in the 1987 film Lethal Weapon? You know who I mean. Sergeant Murtaugh was known for the infamous phrase, “I’m getting too old for this shit.” Any time things started going sour, he would let out a sigh from deep within his weary bones and mumble, “I’m getting too old for this shit…”  And I felt it. You felt it. We all felt it. The man had a point.

I think we all feel a little too old for this shit sometimes. I mean, I can certainly see why… *waving vaguely at everything*.  There are bound to be days when we feel too old or too weary to go about our normal routines, much less add anything else to our plates. And it’s totally okay to feel this way every once in a while.

Operative phrase: every once in a while. Don’t convince yourself just because you’re having an I’m-too-old-for-this-shit kind of day, that it’s going to be a permanent feeling.

Perhaps there are some things in life that are best left by the wayside when one reaches a certain age. Who knows, maybe you’d want to give up extreme-MMA fighting, or shark wrestling, or even volcano surfing – once the midlife crisis has passed, anyway. But who am I to judge? You do you. I am a firm believer that there is no “latest age” to begin anything.

Does happiness have an age limit?

Does joy have an age limit?

Do feelings of content have an age limit?

A resounding NO – a thousand times, no.  Picture yourself doing something that brings you joy. Go on, picture it! Is it baking? Painting? Horseback riding? Writing? Surfing? Moving to the wilds of the Australian Outback? That feeling that arises, that inherent sense of delight, does not have an age limit.  There’s a whole world out there, offering you a chance to feel alive and joyful – age be damned.

Don’t fall for the trap of “it’s too late.” It’s never too late. Take ownership of the life you’re living. Learn that new skill. Take that class. Visit that place you’ve always wanted to go to. Write those words. And, above all, forget your age – it’s just a number.