Unpleasant Truth: Dating Will Always Suck

Picture it- you’re 90 years old and living in an active senior living community, you’re widowed but lead a very active and happy lifestyle. You meet a nice widower who lives in your community, you become friends, you become friends who hold hands, you become friends who kiss, you spend all your free time together, you meet his kids and grandkids, he meets your kids and grandkids. It’s lovely. You’re the happiest you’ve been in years and this friendship/companionship/whatever it is makes you feel 30 years younger. Then, one day, he comes over to your apartment and tells you he is in love with someone else and moving across town to her active senior living community.

THAT SHIT STILL HAPPENS AT 90! FOR REAL.

Seriously y’all. I spend a lot of time at my grandparent’s active senior living community and the dating dynamics there are almost identical to the dating dynamics of people my age. Single and dating seniors have DTRs and label their relationships as “it’s complicated”. What. The. Hell. I thought relationships would be loads easier at that age. At least, I thought everyone would approach them more maturely. Not so! My grandmother has literally played go-between for flirting guys and gals in order to set them up.  People are using each other for sex and nothing more, which I have to admit, I’m a bit impressed by. But, I’m still absolutely shocked at the confusion, lust, and angst that go on in their relationships.

I’m shocked because it was my sincerest wish that dating would get easier when we got older because we would be more mature evolved human beings. Not so. Not so at all. Dating will always suck the life force from us and turn strong passionate women into tearful balls of confusion and centered mature men into lusty balls of indecision. Or vice verse. I’ve seen some of those precious older men have their hearts broken by wanton jezebels as well.  My point is, people who tell you that dating is better when you’re older is a liar liar pants on fire. Do NOT believe them.

The Delightful Despair of Bridesmaid Dresses

Let’s be honest, world. At this point, I’m only on Facebook to look at your wedding albums. Ex-boyfriend, I don’t care about your band’s latest gig. Eleventh grade English teacher, your newest grandchild is cute and all, but…I’m in it for the cakes and dresses.

You may call it wedding lust, if you like, but I know what it truly is: schadenfreude. Y’all, I love a pretty dress more than anyone and beautiful flowers never fail to make me smile, but – seriously – horrid weddings are my jam. I want to see the camouflage cakes and 76ers dresses. I want awkward family toasts and ill-fated bridal party dance routines. Even more, I want to see your poor, beleaguered bridesmaids. Nothing shows a bride’s true colors like the frock she forces upon her nearest and dearest. We think everyone will choose a pretty and universally flattering dress, but it is not so. And that, my dears, is where the fun begins.

Bridal Species (as classified by bridesmaid dresses):

The Trendy Bridedefining characteristics: extravagant ruffles, asymmetrical hemlines, and Tangerine Tango – Oh, darling, we know you’re into fashion. You have the latest it-bag and truly believe it, when Cosmo tells you that leopard print is a neutral. Unfortunately, your bridesmaid dresses reflect the dark side of your passion. You fell in love with that Spring 2012 dress from the Hot New Designer. You picked the color based on Pantone forecasts. As a result, your poor best friends are now decked out in orange ruffled, racer-backed monstrosities. When you look back in six months, not to mention sixty years, you will blush. Nobody outside of Madrid looks good in “Flamenco chic,” even if it is so in right now.

The Delusional Bridedefining characteristic: refusal to acknowledge that bridesmaids are not runway models – You have a dream, dearest, and you go for it. Sure, your maid of honor is eight months pregnant and your sister is a gorgeously curvy siren, but your plans for metallic sheath dresses will not be daunted! As a result, most of your wedding party looks like dreadfully uncomfortable Oscar statues. Don’t you want people to be happy and dance and eat cake? No? Oh, well good, because girlfriend can’t break out her best moves, when she’s wearing three pairs of Spanx and a strapless bra.

The Bride de Sadedefining characteristics: colors normally sported by fungi, four-inch “bridesmaid gift” heels, and an alarming glint in her eyes – This is your day. Yours, no one else’s! But what if someone’s eye strays to your bridesmaids for just one second? Luckily, you have a solution: brown. Not some nice chocolate brown, either. You, you lovely scalawag, have chosen Ace Bandage Brown. Sure, the tag may say “Caramel Latte,” but no one is going to look like a foam-topped Starbucks confection. Be they blonde or redhead, your bridesmaids resemble terminal disease patients, while you glow like a radiant butterfly. Well played, Machiaveilli.

The Seasonally Inappropriate Bridedefining characteristics: pink chiffon dresses and blue-nosed bridal party – Ever since you were a wee little bride-hopeful, you dreamed of your perfect June wedding. Bees would buzz lazily, flowers would drip from your outdoor alter, and your maids would line up in short, flirty little sundresses. Unfortunately, scheduling has demanded you marry in January. In Minnesota. Never fear! It’s still your day, so when you insist on short, chiffon halter dresses and fun wedges, your friends must comply! They can just throw on a wrap, right? The rest of us, however, will be taking bets on which one loses the most external bits from hypothermia. (My vote: always the little one. Her lack of body mass will be your cab fare home!)

The Theme Bridedefining characteristics: cowboy hats, fairy wings, and/or clothing usually seen in 14th century tapestries – You are a unique bride, a snowflake special among special snowflakes. Naturally, you want to show that in your wedding. I get it! Weddings should definitely be personal to the bride and groom. It’s just, when I said personal, I didn’t mean you should deck your girls out in Star Trek uniforms. But, run with it, if you must. Of course, your friends want to dress as their favorite Care Bear. (Dibs on Funshine Bear!) Oh – or better yet! – in period-appropriate Victorian costumes. Nothing says “Bridesmaid to Flirt With” like a whale-bone corset.

Be warned, prospective brides. That old saying is true – karma is not only a bitch, but also a vengeful bridesmaid. If you torture your friends too much, you may end up in a pale yellow, tea-length bandage dress. That’s not a look you want posted to Facebook, however much I may enjoy cackling at the pictures.

– Grace

The Wonders Of Coconut Oil

Coconut

Do you know that drinking coconut oil in your tea will make you beautiful? Apparently, it will. At least, if all these articles I’ve been reading in fashion magazines, and wellness magazines, and ‘you could be so much better than you are’ magazines are telling the truth. And why would they lie to us? What motivation could they possibly have for lying to us? None, I tell you! None!

And not only should you put coconut oil in your tea (and who doesn’t want to drink oily tea) you should also slather it in your hair and on your body and oh my goodness why aren’t you bathing in coconut oil daily??!!! Coconut oil will make your skin glow, coconut oil will increase your metabolism, coconut oil will make all your fat go away, coconut oil will make {insert celebrity name here} fall in love with you, coconut oil will save your soul!

Seriously y’all, I don’t know if I have room to add one more thing to my daily beauty routine that’s supposed to make my skin aglow and my cheeks perfectly flushed and my eyes shiny and my hair stronger. And I just really wonder how much of my brainpower I’ve spent on concocting a beauty routine? Could I have better used that brainpower to cure a disease or solve the economic crises? We’ll never know because I’m too busy slathering on creams and drinking four cups of green tea with coconut oil in it everyday. True story.

I should probably say something really poignant about a society obsessed with beauty and how that’s bad, very bad, but hypocrisy is not a good look on me, so make of this what you will. It can be something very revealing about our culture or it can be about how awesome coconut oil is. Your choice.

The Last Boys Club: Women & Augusta National

Last weekend, as any sports fan knows, was The Masters. Arguably, it is the biggest tournament in professional golf. Professional men’s golf, that is. Women neither play a professional tournament at Augusta National nor are allowed to become members of the club. It is a place that values tradition above all else – a pimento cheese sandwich is still sold for $1.50, the famous azaleas are pruned to perfection, and it’s always, always, always a man’s world.

It’s also my favorite sporting event.

Growing up, golf was always a special bond between my father and I. Sure, my brother has a great swing and my sister loves Adam Scott, but Dad and I are fans. We e-mail news stories about our favorite players and record every tournament. If one of us scored tickets to The Ryder Cup, the other would be tapped to come along, no deliberation necessary. On my life list, the top two spots are: Play a round at Augusta and Attend The Masters with Dad. Like any other fan, I spend this one weekend in April glued to television. I pray that drive won’t hook left; I gasp in awe at the speed of the greens. Unfortunately, I also spend a lot of time defending my love of the tournament to friends.

How can I, a card-carrying feminist and well-educated woman, support an institution that is so anachronistically anti-women? Honestly, it’s difficult. This is one of the most gut-wrenching issues for me as a woman, despite how shallow it may seem to others.  As an outsider, it would be easy to recommend I just stop watching it, until Augusta admits women. Boycott that which oppresses us, right? Besides, it’s just a game.

Only…it’s not. For me, this one tournament – this one game – is the live battle between a talisman of my father-daughter relationship and my very passionate viewpoints on modern equality. I wish to cheer for the green jacket’s winner, just as much as I want to rail at the board members bestowing it. Because tradition is all well and good, but sexism cloaked as tradition? That’s not something to defend.

This year, finally, I had reason to hope. One of the unofficial traditions at Augusta is that a membership offer is extended to CEOs of the major tournament sponsors. As of January, one of those CEOs is now Virginia Rometty of IBM. That’s right. A woman. Cue shocked gasps and pearl clutching. Much was made in the media of whether or not a membership invitation would be extended to Rometty, before this year’s tournament. There has been a change in guard of the Augusta leadership, so most assumed this would be the year. After all, in an age where a woman is the CEO of a company so powerful it sponsors The Masters, shouldn’t that same woman be allowed to join the club?

If I ran the PR campaigns for Augusta, I would encourage them not only to invite women to join, but to insist on an LPGA event hosted there. Yes, they are a private club, allowed to make their own rules, but those same archaic rules threaten to turn the sport’s most revered event into a joke. Half the pre-Masters headlines this year dealt with Augusta’s stance on women, not the strength of the field. This is a game filled with brilliant men and women, both amateur and professional. Is there anyone who would argue Annika Sorenstam is less qualified to join Augusta than Phil Mickelson? They’re both living legends. They both deserve equal treatment by this nation’s greatest golf club. Anything less is backwards thinking.

Unfortunately, backwards it remains. Virginia Rometty attended the tournament not wearing a member’s green blazer, but a smart pink cardigan instead. There is talk that invitations take time to be extended to the new CEO, because Augusta is a notoriously secretive organization, which runs on its own shadowy timetable. But…I’m still disappointed. I felt like this was the year. This was the year I could watch my favorite tournament thinking “One day, both Dad and I could be members there.” Instead, this was the year I watched with a cynical eye. This was the year I was too focused on the background politics to notice the azaleas. Next year, if Rometty still isn’t a member, may be the year I don’t watch at all.

– Grace

The Girl Who Cried Bitch.

Dont call me a bitch

Do you remember the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”? In it, a bored shepherd boy decided to amuse himself by frightening the townspeople by crying wolf. He succeeds the first two times in scaring the townspeople but when he actually does see a wolf and cries for help the towns people don’t come and the boy loses his flock of sheep.  As children, we are told that story so that we may learn the lesson to never lie.

I’ve always taken this story very seriously and I dislike lying very much. I strive to be extraordinarily honest in all situations and admittedly sacrifice politeness for honesty sometimes. If you ask me a question, expect an honest, if not always cordial, response. In fact, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation in my industry for always “telling it like it is”.  And yet……

And yet, when I was called a “Bitch” in front of several people at my last agency and responded by filing an official complaint, the honesty of my story was immediately questioned.  I was baffled. I was insulted. I was mad as hell y’all. Why was it that without ever having made such a claim before I was instantly labeled “The girl who cried bitch.”? I spent 4 hours in the boss’s office attesting to the honesty of my story. I was questioned again and again. I had to repeat the situation several dozen times. The very boss who once called me “too honest” now questioned the honesty of my story. When I finally told him to ask the people who had witnessed the altercation if he didn’t believe me, they made the entire situation worse by qualifying it and saying that perhaps “I had taken it the wrong way.” that the man “didn’t mean it that way.” I was probably being too sensitive. Someone even had the audacity to suggest that I might be “hormonal”.  Um, excuse me, what other way did he mean it? And for the record, I wasn’t “hormonal” but even if I had been, that in no way means I deserved to be called a “bitch” or that someone shouldn’t be reprimanded for calling me one.  Why does a comment like that deserve to be qualified and defended? Why was everyone so uncomfortable with a woman standing up for her right not to be called a “bitch” in the workplace? I was upset, but I was also leaving the agency so I chalked it up to everyone there being an asshole.  It was easier than me diving into the reason behind people being unwilling to acknowledge that the situation was unprofessional and demeaning. I took the path of least insanity.

But now, I’m wondering, what’s up with that? Why is it that a woman automatically gets labeled “The girl who cried bitch” even if she is telling the truth? Seriously, what’s up with that?

The Girl Who Would Be Bridezilla

Last Monday was the best day ever. No, I didn’t marry Stanley Tucci or get offered a role in the Newsies musical. It was – almost – better. At 8:30am, my cell phone rang and a very lovely author informed me that I’d been nominated for a Very Important Publishing Award. Cue swoon.

Me! A leg lamp writing award! In four months time, this very spinster will be flying off to California to attend a fancy publishing conference and a black tie awards ceremony. It’s like the Oscars! With more carpal tunnel sufferers!

Of course, being the ridiculous person I am, my thoughts immediately turned to one thing: the dress. There is an old saying my mother taught me: When one gives an acceptance speech to 3000 people, one must look super fly. The chances of me winning are slim, but a good former Girl Scout must be prepared. No one remembers The Girl Whose Dress Was Not On Fire. In that vein, I spent the past week looking for a gown.

That’s a lie. Not looking, but obsessively searching. For seven solid days, I did nothing on the internet but look at evening gowns. If you are going to a black tie function soon, tell me what you want to wear, because I have seen ALL THE DRESSES. No department store lay unchecked, no designer unscanned. I called Kate not once, but three times, for hour-long dress powwows. Finally, after talking myself out of a Marchesa and a Carmen Marc Valvo, I tracked down the perfect dress. Grecian-inspired, emerald green, and on sale!

A question bears asking, I know. Why was I in such a frenzy, when the awards aren’t until late July? Because I am totally nuts, friends. I like to call myself enthusiastic, but – let’s be honest – the word is obsessive, Grace. When I embark on something, be it a new hobby or a gown search, it becomes an all-consuming quest. I must be the best sewist, own every rare Nancy Drew edition, and track down the one gown that will make my wildest dreams come true. The quest is all I think about. If I hadn’t bought that damn gown, the next four months would be spent doing nothing but comparing this color green to another. That way madness lies! I have a deadline coming up and dress shopping is not an excuse my agent will accept.

This bodes poorly for my future. If I ever become a bride, watch out. It better be a short engagement, so I don’t lose whole years of my life to flower arrangements. I’ve always thought planning a wedding would be easy, because I know exactly what I want, but that may be the problem. Knowing what I want leads me to set up complicated Ebay alerts, just in case the perfect pair of Frye riding boots appear in my size (Dorado riding, Bordeaux, 9.5). No matter that I have four other pairs in my closet already – they’re just stand-ins for the real prize. Can you imagine what picking out a wedding dress would be like? Those poor people at Say Yes to the Dress (Atlanta, obviously) would explode from frustration.

Y’all are so lucky you only know me on the internet. Kate and Mae are probably praying that I never meet Mr. Right, if only so they’re spared the experience of being my bridesmaids. My name is Grace and I’m a future bridezilla. It’s lucky this blog is anonymous, don’t you think, poor unsuspecting male population?

– Grace

P.S. I’m currently on a quest for The Perfect Gold Belt for the gown: thin, braided, double wrap. Any leads can be sent to ConfederacyOfSpinsters (at) gmail.com

Avada Kedavra: Unfriending With Panache!

Friends, I am not a wizard. There it is – the great tragedy of my life unveiled. Never will I attend Hogwarts or toss back butterbeers in the Three Broomsticks. Despite perfect form, my wingardium never seems to leviosa. However, there is one mortal action that is decidedly wizard-like: unfriending people on Facebook.

In the great social media swarm that is modern life, Facebook is the queen bee. Almost one billion people currently use the site to chronicle important happenings, like the grocery store running out of 1% milk. It stands to reason that, with such life-changing information being shared, one should be choosy with their “friends.” Everyone has their own set of rules. The boy from your third grade swimming lessons may be acceptable, but the girl who has come to your tea shop every day for three years is not. We do not judge your friending system. (Well, okay, I kind of do. Seriously, dude. We have flirtatious, fun banter for years and you memorize how I take my tea, but we can’t be Facebook friends? Crucio!) But what happens when a previously acceptable friend becomes an undesirable? Unfriend them, of course!

Unfriending is, in this day and age, the ultimate insult. With one click of the mouse, a person can be banished forever from your (virtual) world. I’ve known people who went through horrible, bitter break-ups as cool as cucumbers, only to utterly lose their shit when the former partners finally unfriended them. Some people use it to cut from their lives those who have done them wrong, while others just like to periodically cull their friend lists. I know, that’s crazy. Who wants only their actual friends to know every intimate detail of their lives? Personally, I’m not really into unfriending. Sure, there are people on Facebook whom I would hide behind a giant pumpkin to avoid, but unfriending feels so mean. Besides, I’m nosy. I may not want to talk to you ever again, but I do want to make fun of your wedding dress. I’ve never seen much need to banish people from my profile.

Until now.

There’s this girl, let’s call her Celeste, whom I have known since I was a wee young Grace. We were, for a good chunk of that time, the best of friends. Sure, she was a bit negative, but I’ve always been rather cheery, so it seemed a good balance. In high school, I introduced Celeste to my new neighbor, a boy who could match her snarky comment for snarky comment. They were a match made in the middle areas of purgatory. Over the course of college, we grew apart – I was ridiculously busy with school, friends, and organizations, while she was busy planning her future life with Sir Sourface. It was all good. We’d meet for lunch every month or two and, if perhaps our conversation wasn’t as easy as before, we were still friends. I happily attended their wedding and later called to congratulate her on the impending arrival of their spawn.

Fast forward a year. Celeste is now the maid of honor in a mutual high school friend’s wedding. Another dear friend of mine is also consigned to wearing a taupe polyester dress and eating lukewarm chicken and, thus, has been attending all sorts of wedding events with Celeste. Who has, it seems, decided I am a horrid person, rivaled only in pure evil by the creators of pajama jeans.

Yes, that sound you just heard was my head exploding in confusion. The things she has said are not only cruel, but strange, considering the last time I saw her in person was her own wedding day. A day on which I gave her a particularly lovely gift and wished her a lifetime of happiness. I didn’t realize those were the makings of a feud! I would have worn my good feuding pants! So, here’s the thing. What she said, to the face of one of my dearest friends, was horrible. Things meant to wend their way back to me and make me feel, well, less. Unfortunately, I’m not good at that. They just made me, alternatively, moderately angry and amused.

They also made me certain that, for once, I should unfriend someone on Facebook. If anyone deserves it, it’s Celeste. Every time I post a happy status or mention my latest book release date, my joy will be dimmed a bit by the knowledge that she is actively wishing me ill. But, here’s the thing, unfriending is too passive aggressive for my taste. Sometimes, I like to just be aggressive. Instead of her friend count mysteriously going down by one, I want to go out in a fiery blaze of righteous indignation! Facebook, where is my option to send a special message with my unfriending?

I need fireworks, Facebook dear. I want my choice of Harry Potter curses to send her way. I want the music video of N*SYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye!” to pop up, when I press the red button. Hell, I actually want a red button that, when pushed, shows her friend box exploding into space, never to grace my page again. I want her to know I unfriended her and to feel the shame of it for days. Is that too much to ask?

Fine. Perhaps I am more than moderately angry. In reality, she would feel no shame, I know. But when something is given the social importance that unfriending is, it should feel more important when carried out. This doesn’t feel big, but sad instead. Still, I did what my peace of mind required. I have pressed unfriend. Say it with me, friends: Avada Kedavra!

– Grace