Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What’s Your Hang-up?

Basically, there are only eight hang-ups couples (both intimate and platonic) have. Specifically, such hang-ups are determined by two key factors: the degree of sexual intimacy between the pair and the frequency of time spent together.

Let’s look at the details:

1. I wonder where this thing is headed?

Where many relationships start – the low intimacy, low frequency friendship. Maybe nothing happens out of it. Maybe you’ll both be very mature and embrace its platonic nature. Maybe, someday, you’ll drive a convertible through the Milky Way. Sure, it could happen. More likely, one of you will ask the above question.

2. I want to be more than just friends

Okay, so you hang out 4 times a week and you’re just friends? Right. By this point friends have already figured out that one of you has a serious crush on the other, and they probably know exactly which one. The sad part is that if this was mutual, you’d have moved up the chart and not across. Instead, one of you will say the above sentence at some point, where in all likelihood you’ll be sent with your broken heart back home.

3. It goes no further until I get some serious commitment

If you want sex, Buddy, you’re going to have to make more time for me. I know in the past I surrendered my body without so much as getting a name or phone number, but not anymore. I’ve changed. I’m taking charge of my life, even if that means pretending to be busy all week, when in fact I’m staying home, alone, watching the movie of the week on the “W” channel wondering why I feel like a martyr.

4. I can’t wait till you graduate from 9th grade

We’ve been seeing each other three times a week and we’ve only gone as far as second base? Oh, wait a minute. We’re in the same social studies class. And you live with your parents. At least I hope those are the facts. If not, this thing is either going nowhere, or I can’t wait till you graduate from 9th grade.

5. Oral sex is not necessarily sex

Hey, that’s what the President said, and that’s good enough for me. Besides, if we haven’t had intercourse, I can remain emotionally grounded about the two of us. Other than the fact that I think I’ve developed some kind of repetitive stress injury with my jaw, I’ve saved a bundle on contraception.

6. Am I just your booty call?

Not at all, Baby. I’m just busy, you know, with stuff. And I promise, you’ll meet my friends someday. They’re busy too. You got anything to eat in your fridge? Oh, you want my new phone number? I keep forgetting it. Wait a minute, it’s 555-…

7. Are you seeing someone else?

Just because you have never seen your bed buddy on any two consecutive days doesn’t mean he or she is living a double life. It could be work related. And don’t be suspicious about the cryptic phone conversations they seem to have in your presence. It could be work related. And pay no attention to that new hottie that recently joined your partner’s firm. Oh god, it is work related.

8. Why don’t we live together?

So we see each other 4 times a week and have a great sex life. You’ve got your tony apartment close to the downtown and I’m fifteen minutes away in my rent controlled loft. We enjoy each other’s friends and family. Neither of us wants to have kids. Both our careers are demanding, yet enjoyable. It’s about time we wreck a good thing!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Maxing Your Movie Mojo

I caught the movie The Constant Gardener the other night. Quick synopsis: the English Patient, with the global pharmaceutical industry playing the role of the Nazis. Of course, my date wasn’t so cynical about the flick, as indicated by the sniffles coming from her as the credits rolled. Ah, yes. Venus and Mars go to the movies.

Gladiator? Sure, I cried. After wasting $12Given my passion for lists and statistics, the research department forwarded me the following rankings from a recent survey conducted by a British tabloid on which movies make men and women cry the most. Interesting list.

Finding the right date movie can be a challenge. What I learned early in my dating life is that “first date” movies can often be a make or break moment in determining whether I will get that future date. It somehow sets the tone going forward. I’ve also received a lot of unsolicited counseling from third parties on what movies I should pick for such occasions.

My friend, the consultant, has one particular rule: if you haven’t slept with them yet, don’t see a movie that has any sexually explicit scenes, the theory being that it will create too much tension during the date and unduly influence the expectation down the road if you do fall into bed together and start comparing your off-screen performance to what you watched onscreen. And as most of us know, the movies sure make sex a lot sexier then it can be some of the time.

In fact, a good rule of thumb is one should only see a movie that contains sexual scenes that are only slightly beyond what you and your prospect have done so far. Which means, if you haven’t even gotten to first base yet, avoid any flick where the nipple has somehow made an appearance in some supporting role.

I do have a problem with this guideline. First off, I think seeing some passion in a movie can move things along with the courtship. Otherwise, there is this risk of the potential relationship picking up “asexual stench” or AS -- the fast track to platonicland. I’ve seen friends in the AS rut. It starts off innocent enough with a few documentaries or maybe the occasional PG-13 comedy of some has-been Saturday Night Live alumnus. Somehow, the tone gets anchored. They’re in too deep, where neither one can suggest to the other anything more racy. It all ends at some IMAX theatre to the narrative of Buzz Aldrin explaining how the Space Station is the basis for man’s future in visiting Mars (as opposed to his future visiting Venus – if you get my drift).

I used to like Woody Allen movies for first dates. That was until he started sleeping with his daughter. Mind you, I still liked his movies, but noticed that he was a bit of a lightning rod for certain causes. Even suggesting one of his movies to some women implied I condoned his off-screen behaviour. It became too risky.

Getting back to sad movies, I tend to avoid those in early dates as well. I think most guys do, and not because they’re necessarily against the tearjerker – though most are – but because if the romance develops, we know, deep down, there’s going to be some emotional moments where we will be facing more tears from a woman than we can honestly handle. We always fumble through that stuff for the most part. And we know it. So why bother going out of your way for it. No sense overfilling one’s quota.

Foreign flicks are the best bet. I think that’s the trick with seeing something sexy onscreen without creating any undue angst while trying to light your own fires of passion. My favourites include anything Spanish. Maybe it’s the distraction of the subtitles that makes it more comfortable. Moreover, it’s the disconnect of the storyline to any personal reality. I know I’m no philandering latin lover who drives a Vespa. I’ve seen several Salsa moves with more mojo than anything I’ve accomplished on or off the dance floor. My date knows she’s no high-strung seductress pondering whether she should kiss me or drive a banderilla through my spine. And so it becomes easier to disengage without losing the titillating enjoyment of it all. You can both leave the theatre and talk clinically about the hot scenes and wank on about how they loved it at Cannes, all the while wondering quietly to yourself whether you remembered to put clean sheets on your bed.

Friday, September 16, 2005

All The BlogWorld's A Stage

This blog world can be interesting. The few of you that regularly read this site -- and I do mean the few -- are aware of the metablog that the Chair made the occasional contribution to in its salad days. It seems that the concept of the metablog was not so well received by some of the denizens of the Ottawa blog This is B: friend of mice
community once it recently became public knowledge. Apparently, the “blog about a blog” seems to have violated some unwritten code in the blogosphere that one needs to show unwavering reverence for those blogging their thoughts online. I can appreciate this point of view. I suppose if we treat the blog world as one would treat an open mic night at your local music club, perhaps irreverence doesn’t show the due respect bloggers are looking for when “getting out there” with some of their deepest confessions and personal musings.

The site followed by the metablog is somewhat unique, and maybe it reflects why it was chosen for this little cyber experiment. From our perspective, the Fifth Muse writes in a frank and often-poignant manner about personal matters. She pulls few punches in her editorials about people that cross her path and expresses her passion in a cogent manner – something I have rarely found in the blog world. Yes, who knows whether we were getting anything close to what this person truly is, but the content of her postings were compelling nonetheless. Some subjects resonated with many of us, other subjects less so. And so we used this as a springboard for our own creativity in the same public space. In so doing, we created the “blog about the blog”, mimicking a discussion group of a daily soap opera.

Some of the creepy Big Brother themes were deliberate – the web cams, the bus timetable references, satellite maps of the city – and were part of the broader social commentary the metablog was making about anonymous voyeurs and exhibitionists in the modern cyber world. Obviously, many of the readers did not understand this context, and instead got spooked about the creepy and subversive nature of the metablog.

What I think really bothered some of the local blogger elite was that we were hiding behind a layer of anonymity. It made it somehow creepier and unfair. I suppose if we were anonymously doing such commentary about a blog who’s contributor was not remaining anonymous, then that point may have some merit. In the broader domain, Ottawa has something akin to such poison penmanship and its called Frank Magazine, where anonymous insiders rat out their very public colleagues and bosses.

But therein lies the difference.

First off, never did the metablog contributors “out” any details about the Muse that she did not already publish in her blog. Sure, we might have speculated about aspects of her life she didn’t write about, but in all those instances, it was merely that – speculation. Any astute reader would recognize it as such. And even if there were coincidental small world connections that got us closer to her, we were cautious in keeping such matters outside of our public commentary.
I'm too good looking to catch mice
We were actually very concerned about the protection of her anonymity --- particularly since we found that some of the content she was going public with could be considered slanderous and that those whom she was writing about could likely easily identify her. Many of the individuals for whom Muse had disparaging remarks could easily be identified in a small town such as Ottawa. In fact, I was quite surprised that given her connections and close friendships with some of the best known bloggers in the community, that no one had offered some counsel to her on some of her more controversial postings. Maybe she ignored such advice, but when the metablog raised this issue, she did some immediate revisions to her postings, which I believe was wise.

As for us remaining anonymous, I think that was perfectly fair, since we were commenting about an anonymous person. For those bloggers who personally know the Muse, it was probably hard for them to understand this context. They do not view the Muse as an anonymous person. And so, we would hear comments like, “they don’t even know her, how can they write that stuff”? Of course, we don’t know her. And I’m told television wrestling isn’t real either. What was really disappointing about the anonymity issue was the deliberate attempts we encountered to uncloak the anonymity of the Muse, members of the metablog, as well as individuals anonymously referred to in the Muse’s blog. Some of these attempts were by noted Ottawa bloggers, no less.

Some may argue, “fine do what you want, but what’s with drawing all this extra attention to yourselves?” Was there a need to share this with the rest of the blog world? Well, the irony, of course, is that none of the metabloggers posted to Muse’s site. Muse was anonymously contacted through the metablog members. She pointed out its existence to the rest of the blog world. We took that as a sign that she was reasonably fine with what we had constructed, and wanted to share this interesting diversion to the blog phenomena. Obviously, there were comments she did not agree with, but I believe she understood what we were doing, and moreover, that it should be treated as something interesting but benign. And there is no doubt that her content has multiplied since acquiring knowledge of the metablog.

The metabloggers have been referred to as “self-indulgent busybodies” by other noted Ottawa bloggers. I suppose that’s true. I think if one reads the blog, the members are highly self-aware, albeit somewhat irreverent, about that dubious honour. But who isn’t self-indulgent in the blogosphere? The thing is, once you’ve decided that your diary needs to be read by the rest of the world, you must accept how the rest of the world will react. Sure, you can turn off your comments, and insulate yourself to the known few that will stand by you, no matter what you put out there. But you are still out there. If you didn’t want to be out there, you shouldn’t be so public.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What I value (Part 2)

In the interest of fairness, I did the same “what I value” survey for 106 randomly selected men in the same age cohort on Lavalife. See table below.

Humour obviously ranks equally high for both sexes. And, in fact both share the same three out of the top five most valued attributes. I suppose that’s reassuring and may mean the whole Venus vs. Mars thing is a bit overstated. However, I’d like to point out a few differences between the sexes.

Men valued loyalty by a factor of almost two to one compared to women’s value of that trait. Maybe a dog is man’s best friend. That may also explain (and this one surprises me) that men also value respect for pets more than women. I just can’t believe that. Somehow, I think this is deliberate bait for the “must love [enter critter name]” profiles of women on Lavalife.

Not surprisingly, 8% of women valued a work ethic whereas no men listed this in their choices. However, about 9% more men valued open-mindedness compared to women. Maybe women need to become more open-minded about men with no work ethic.

Men seem to appreciate the ability to laugh at one’s self more than women appreciate this quality. Now, the irony with appreciation of this quality in another person does not necessarily imply that one likes to laugh at themselves. I, for example, like to laugh at others more than laughing at myself. However, like most men, I appreciate a woman who can laugh at herself. That way, I can laugh at her, and she can laugh at herself. Everyone is laughing. If she gets concerned that I’m laughing at her, I can say I’m laughing with her and not offend her feelings because she is laughing as well. It improves the compatibility.

Sadly, patriotism doesn’t show up on either sexes radar. Maybe that explains why my friends south of the border had to introduce that Act. That’ll root out Al-Qaeda if any of them are hiding somewhere on Lavalife -- all those profiles claiming “martyr looking for virgin”. I say, good luck getting a date with that pitch.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pragmatic patriots need not apply

From a survey of 106 randomly selected profiles of Ottawa area women aged 25 to 45 listed on Lavalife, an internet dating service.

Individuals could identify three things they value from a list of 37 possible choices.