Ask A Spinster: Beware the Affair

Once again, it’s time for Ask A Spinster!, the long beloved post series in which Grace answers all your questions. today’s question is especially interesting, but controversial.Neither bottles nor insults should be slung, whilst we discuss in the comments.

Dear Spinsters,
I have a thing for married men / men in relationships and cannot seem to settle for a real relationship. Can I just do my thing and date these guys or should morality prevail and I should steer clear from them?
Yours truly,
C

mailgirlMy dear Mademoiselle C,

What a brave question! Most people will have an automatic response to your inquiry. You’ve probably encountered this already: rotten tomatoes launched, heads shook in horror, and defenses for the sisterhood of women made. When it comes to affairs, modern ethics are black-and-white.

The short answer, which matches mine, is: steer clear from the attached men. My reasoning, however, is complicated.

I find that society can be all too quick to blame “the other woman” in these situations, rather than the person who actually took a vow of commitment. We cast women as opportunistic harlots preying on the weak wills of poor, tempted menfolk. This is ridiculously unfair. If you’ve made a promise to someone, don’t act like an asshole and give in to sexual longings! Men are not animals. We cannot blame every sin on their penises, then make negative character assumptions about the women involved.

If a married man makes an advance towards you, do I think you’re automatically a harlot for accepting it? Of course, not. This isn’t always a straight-forward situation, from any side, so we need approach the larger questions for you. What worries me is the health, emotionally and physically, of such a relationship. What is your end goal here? Do you want one of these affairs to turn into a real relationship?

If the answer is yes, then I caution you. The covenant of commitment is important. When we enter a monogamous relationship with someone, we expect it to stay monogamous. We’re more vulnerable, both sexually and mentally, because of that implicit exchange of trust. Anyone who can throw away such trust so easily once, can surely do it again. If you want a solid relationship, then starting with a broken promise is a bad way to get there. Even if he turns out completely committed to you, how will you ever know?

Additionally, if a committed relationship comes out of an affair, will your conscience be able to reconcile your happiness with being complicit in the hurt of another person? While there are some marriages in which affairs don’t cause harm, because of emotional or relational circumstances, most spouses expect—rightfully—fidelity from their partners. The realization that a spouse is cheating is, for most people, world shattering. It’s hard to shatter worlds, even when love is involved, and not feel guilt. It’s human nature, thank heavens. Living with such guilt, the kind that stays and festers, is no easy feat.

If you don’t expect these relationships to go anywhere, then my concerns are graver still. There are less emotionally destructive ways to have casual relationships. Affairs, from all sides, are messy. If a spouse or girlfriend discovers the affair, what will she do? Most women are sane, coping through a nice bout of chunking shit out windows and impressive streaks of cussing, but there are the Lifetime movie girls. Having affairs really increases the chance that someone will plot your demise. Meanwhile, a nice friends-with-benefits tryst usually ends in awkward small talk at a grocery store. Grace’s Rule for Life #42:Try to avoid encouraging other people to plot your demise. 

Why risk becoming fodder for Nancy Grace, if you don’t have to? I’ve done the pro/con and it never looks rosy for the side of affairs. They may be more exciting, but you can always go cliff diving instead. Some people find their true love, because of an affair—take Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, for example—but more end in tears or cyanide. Even Tracy and Hepburn had issues—despite over two decades of love, Hepburn didn’t feel right attending his funeral, out of respect for his wife. If even she had heartbreaking complications, surely us mere mortals will? Real relationships may not fare any better, but at least they have a fighting chance.

Good luck, my dear, whatever you choose.

With love and pie,

Grace, Giver of Advice

If you have questions you’d like answered by your friendly local spinster, leave them in the comments or e-mail them to us!

Men of the Produce Aisle

noted_shoppingmen_headerAlternately titled: Shopping for Men at the Grocery Store

Two years ago the husband of a best friend suggested I look for dates at the grocery store.  “This,” he proclaimed, “Is where you will find a man!”  He directed me to our local specialty grocer after declaring that it was not acceptable to date men who regularly shop at the organic grocer (“Granola-eating pretentious pricks. Don’t go there.  Well, only if you shop in the pre-made section. Even then, tread with caution.”).  And he forbade I even think about Walmart.  It’s been our little joke and we’ve been making veiled references to falafel balls and jumbo dill pickles.

This has caused my Kate mind to get a churnin’.  What would be the strategy for finding a man in such a way?  What does it say about the guy if he’s buying gummy worms in the bulk aisle?  Or scones in the bakery?

Thus, I offer to you my sage insight (read: random natterings) into manly grocery habits, and how you, too (!), can turn a run-of-the-mill dash into the store for toilet paper into a burgeoning romance. (We fell in love while I had indigestion!)

Establishment of a Schedule

It is not enough that you should visit the grocery store, but you must do so at predetermined, regular times.  I like to consult my horoscope to find the most auspicious hour, but if 6:15 after work and pre-workout is best for you…  There’s a reason for a schedule.  One must allow oneself to stake out an aisle and scope out the options.  Avoid gold and silver bands on the left hand.  Carefully weed out the men with curry and Pepto-Bismol in the basket.  Stalk the men with Nutella and crescent rolls.  Once you’ve latched onto this rare connoisseur you may begin the elaborate mating dance of grains and spreads.  And if 7:23 P.M. isn’t yielding any promising results, you switch your schedule an begin anew.

Dairy

If he’s purchasing eggs and milk, this is a clear signal of pending french toast breakfasts in bed.  Worthy!  Any penchant for chocolate milk must be heeded with caution. Does he have childhood issues of which he’s still working out?  Is he a mama’s boy?  Is he fueling for a marathon? Does he have the kids for the weekend? And if he’s buying chocolate Hagen Daz, he has a girlfriend or a pregnant wife.  Stay far, far away.

The Beer and Wine Aisle(s)

Don’t hang out here on a regular schedule.  Instead of chatting up the men they might start delivering flyers for the local AA meeting.  Or they might ask if they can join you.  Even if the man isn’t an alcoholic, you’ve likely stumbled across the local college men.  If you’re into the puma scene, have at it.

The Cheese Section

If he’s perusing the cheese curds, you’ve found a Minnesotan.  If he’s buying parmesan he’s a boring dud.  Gruyere indicates an appreciation for French cooking.  If he’s checking out the Gorgonzola he knows a long finish and is promising for a roll in the hay.

Bulk Dry Goods

Frugal.  Possibly cheap.  Proceed with caution.  This is either the guy who can renovate your kitchen for a mere $9,000 or he’s the guy who will take you on a romantic picnic dinner of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Gatorade.  Then, mid-dinner, he’ll pull a rifle out of his truck causing you to panic, knowing this is your end.  A buttered biscuit and a chicken leg would be your last earthly meal.  Surely your body will be dumped in the field and your face will be the one splashed across Nancy Grace headlines.  But wait!  He only wants to teach  you how to shoot a gun.  You’ll then spend the rest of your night trying to hit the Gatorade bottles he insists on chucking across the field for target practice.  This may or may not have been a young Kate’s first picnic experience.  I’m just telling you to watch out for these ones.

The Produce Aisle

The man who delicately fondles the peaches is a desirable mate.  Stay away from the dude who is attracted to the cucumbers.

The Olive Bar

This is the cultured man.  The holy grail of grocery store mates.  How many men do you know who can speak intelligently to olive varietals?  This implies of a man with off-the-beaten-track interests, but not so off-the-track that you’re forced to follow him with a machete and bug spray.  He could probably still hang with a Miller in hand while playing kickball.  A suggested pick-up line might be, “Olive your taste in Oleaceae.  Care to make peace over a cup of coffee at the cafe?”  Witty and alliterative.

Shopping for men doesn’t come without its share of spoiled goods.  Nothing is more disheartening than finding your perfect man sneaking down the feminine hygiene aisle, tossing tampons into his cart as he tosses your heart out the window.

Have patience, spinster grasshoppers.  There’s always the chance that special someone will show up with his green plastic and wire chariot cart as you’re checking out the specialty balsamic and be so taken by your superior taste that he’ll offer to cook an Italian dinner for you.  He might even insist upon massaging your feet, calluses and all.

And to that I can only say… clean up on aisle 5!

Commentary and further analysis welcome.  After all, I haven’t even touched upon the man who buys salmon versus the man buying tilapia.  Or guy buying hot apple pie in the bakery section.

Special thanks to my friend Adminderella for her collaboration on this one!

-Kate

She’s Just Desperate (for Something Normal)

gil-005bKittens, have you heard about Prunella? She’s signed up for one of those online dating sites. Clutch your pearls!  It’s so unseemly, admitting that you’d like to find someone to love and share your life with. Women should get married, of course, but they shouldn’t admit that they want a romantic partner. That’s how you scare the men off! Everyone knows that. Men are attracted to the unattainable, not the open and friendly. What Prunella should do, obviously, is wait for some nice man to decide he wants to settle down, then pose outside his door in a short dress, with a basket of bread she baked and a three-legged puppy she’s nursed back to health, hoping he’ll notice her. She should not approach or—Mary Tyler Moore forbid!—talk to him. Just smile and wait. A true woman never looks desperate.

Pardon me for a moment, lieblings. I have to go beat society senseless with a potted plant. I shall smite your ignorance with a ficus!

Alright, I feel mildly better, if still excessively annoyed. Have you ever noticed that the only thing worse than being a single woman is being a desperate single woman? In men, a desire for a relationship is called “settling down,” but in women it’s sad desperation. As soon as a single woman admits to wanting love, people pull out the pitying looks and sharpen their old maid lampoons. You shouldn’t be single, society insists, but if you do find yourself in that “unfortunate” state, pretend to be outrageously happy about it. Remember how sad Jennifer Aniston looked for all those years, dating man after man trying to find a loving relationship? You don’t want to be like her, do you? She’s only gorgeous and successful and widely beloved.

Look, sometimes people are single. For many women, it’s a conscious choice that they’re happy about, but for others it’s not something they want. That’s totally okay, y’all. Why shouldn’t Prunella want to find a loving, committed relationship? Being in love is lovely! Meeting Professor McGregor was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, personally. Not only do I have someone snuggle up to at night, but also someone to watch all the Star Trek movies with and send lewd greeting cards to. That’s fucking awesome. And if such a thing sounds similarly awesome to you, say so!

It’s not pitiful to want love. It’s not embarrassing to admit you want to eventually get married. Should it be everything you want from life and the thing that drives your every thought? Uh, no. But obsessive thoughts about anything are detrimental, be they regarding romance or flamingos.  We seem to think that a woman who actively seeks a relationship is sad, sitting at home eating ice cream and reading Jane Austen. That’s ludicrous. Not only are Persuasion ice cream nights awesome, but such stereotypes are hurting us all. Everyone wants things in life that they don’t yet have. I’m not a bestselling author yet, but it doesn’t make me a tragic figure. It makes me someone who knows herself and her goals.

If you want to find love, why not shout it to the world? Or, at least, feel comfortable enough to admit it to your family and friends? In a society that so values coupling up, it seems odd to insist that a single woman has to be happy with her state. If she is, that’s wonderful, but if she isn’t, we shouldn’t cast judgment. We applaud people who actively pursue other goals, so why not this one? It’s not that I think a man completes you or that you should throw yourself at all available specimens, but only that emotional honesty is good for us all.

I’m desperate for a trip to Paris and a giant book contract. If you’re desperate for a life partner and a pilot’s license, that’s wonderful. Good luck to us both!

– Grace

The Time For Equality Is Now

Today, Facebook is awash with red. A good portion of Americans, including myself, have replaced their profile pictures with red and pink equality symbols. This is because a historically good portion of Americans—53%!—unequivocally support same-sex marriage. That’s over half the nation who believes that love trumps “tradition.” That’s over half the nation who believes that marriage is a right, not a privilege. That’s roughly 167 million people who are hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the side of gay marriage. That’s a lot of love, kittens.

Of course, there is still the other 47%. This is a blog post for them.

559103_10103094451990284_2071591861_nHello there, my dears! My name is Grace and I’m your local spinster blogger. Normally, I blog about things like taxidermied mice and how hot men with beards are, but today I wanted to talk about something else entirely: you. You, I am given to believe, don’t think that my friends Anna and Shelly should get married. You, I am told, are narrow-minded and hateful and backwards. But that can’t be true! Didn’t you spend last summer building wells in Ecuador? And didn’t you nurse that sick stray kitten back to health? Surely, you’re not actively hating my friends.

In your defense, this morning I read up on why people oppose gay marriage. What I found, was odd. I’ve read article after article, but still can’t find a good argument against my friends. You’ll see what I mean.

Reason #1: Traditional Marriage is Between A Man & Woman. We Must Hold Up Tradition! Oh, interesting argument. How terribly Fiddler on the Roof of you! Marriage has been between a man and woman forever, so we should keep it up for the sake of tradition. Here’s the thing: tradition sucks. If we kept up with all our traditions, this world would be in a sad state. Women would have no rights, people would be kept as slaves, and the TV would be considered the devil’s instrument, so none of us could watch Buffy. Is that what  you want? You can’t be in favor of a world full of oppression and lacking Spike! For that matter, there are plenty of examples of homosexual marriage in history. So whose tradition are we going with, exactly?

Reason #2: Homosexual Marriage is Against God! Interesting. You’ve got me there. I fully believe in religious freedom, so how can I judge you for your beliefs? I can’t, but I do have a question. If marriage is a religious covenant between a couple and God, then why can atheists and deists and agnostics and pagans get married? If this is a Judeo-Christian God issue, then shouldn’t only Jews and Christians be able to get married? If people who don’t believe in any God at all can get married, then surely Anna and Shelly don’t need His approval for marriage either.

Reason #3: This is the Downfall of Morality! I am befuddled. Isn’t one of the basic tenants of morality settling down and getting married? If you hate the sexual revolution and think we’re sliding into Hell faster than Helena in a handbasket, then you should be pro-marriage, period. The more people getting married, the less people living lives full of single shenanigans. If you don’t let gay couples get married, then you can’t complain when they slough off all monogamy.

Reason #4: Children Need a Mother and a Father! First off, how many times must I tell you that just because you’re married, doesn’t mean you want children? Second, if we believe so hard that children need both parents, then we should probably take kids away from single moms and dads. It would be better for those kids to be raised by two strangers with complimentary genitalia, than with one parent who loves them. Children need both mothers and fathers, because as everyone knows, gender decides personality traits. Who will nurture a child with a bruised knee, if there’s no mother? Who will throw a football, in a fatherless home? New law: kids only go to two-parent heterosexual households! It just makes no sense.

Reason #5: Homosexuality Violates Natural Law! Heterosexuality propagates the species! Oh, this one is rooted in science. This is more like it! Except, quick question, don’t we violate a whole bunch of natural laws? Humans can’t fly, but we’ve gotten pretty good at this whole airplane thing. People are also supposed to be omnivores, but a lot of people I know are vegetarians, so they must be abominations too. And if we’re so hot-to-trot on species propagation, then we should probably test all couples’ fertility, before they get married. If you can’t have babies, you can’t get married! We will do a ten year check up to make sure that everyone is procreating successfully! Wait, that feels…wrong. We can’t take away people’s rights, just because they can’t have children.

Marriage is about love and commitment, not kids. People aren’t getting married only to have children or to satisfy God’s will. The vast majority of people in modern America get married because they love each other. People get married because they want the rights of a legal partner, in case their beloved gets ill or passes away. People get married, because they’ve found their other half. What business do we have saying that you’ve chosen the wrong half? Modern marriage is a personal union based on love and consent, not a moral or religious covenant.

The tide has turned and progress is coming. Don’t you want to be on the winning side of history? You have a right to your beliefs, but our country shouldn’t violate other people’s rights because of yours. I hate mayonnaise and think it’s an unholy white ooze, but America shouldn’t forbid tuna salad, because of my opposition. Let them eat mayo! Let them get married!

It’s time for equality, my dears. It’s time for love.

– Grace

How NOT To Embarrass Your Husband

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 4.58.48 PM

Ha! I totally tricked you with that title because I almost always embarrass my husband. Except he always tells me he isn’t embarrassed which is a real testament to his inability to embarrass and less about me not saying embarrassing things. Because I do. FREQUENTLY.

Anyway, here are things you should avoid if you don’t want to embarrass your husband. I’ve done every one of these things. You probably shouldn’t. And since I’m telling you that, I’m totally counting this as a public service. You’re welcome.

  • Nickname his penis.
  • Nickname his penis and then tell your closest friends about it.
  • Ask him questions through the bathroom door at your parent’s house.
  • Slap his ass at the grocery store.
  • Tell everyone he has a hole in the crotch of his pants.
  • Remark on his pooping capacity over dinner with friends.
  • Tell a story about tampons and TSS over dinner with friends.

I know, it’s kind of crazy someone wanted to marry me, right? Although, I think the moral of this story is, I shouldn’t be allowed to have more than one hard cider ever. EVER.

– Mae

Send Me No Flowers, Only Dead Mice

il_570xN.337775143The stuffed bears cometh. They sneak in the night, armed with heart-shaped boxes of bad chocolate, taking up residence in grocery store aisles and college dorm rooms. According to the media, the proper Valentine’s Day gift involves: pink things, hearts, stuffed animals, chocolate, and flowers. I disagree. Professor McGregor, all I really want for Valentine’s Day is you.

And an ethically taxidermied mouse dressed as King Henry VIII.

Unlike many other things I say, this is not actually a joke. I for real real want a costumed mouse. Preferably one dressed as a historical figure. Just think how adorably macabre Marie Antoinratte would look on my dresser, with her wee feathered wig, or Lucrezia Boursin armed with a mini bottle of poison.  Maybe it’s because I’m deeply twisted or that I’ve decided to base all of my life choices on Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but either way: dead mice for Valentine’s Day. This is what my soul wants!

Which brings me to my point: the Valentine’s Day industry is lying. Do not fall for their tricks, friends. The commercials tell us that women want flowers and hearts and extravagant gestures. She doesn’t. Or she might. Honestly, I don’t know what your wife/girlfriend/inamorata wants for Valentine’s Day, because I don’t know her. Maybe the thought of jewelry bores her, because all she wants is a tour of a sewage treatment plant! Or, perhaps, she just wants you to leave the house for three hours, so she can watch the Rockets game in peace. I do not know the innermost workings of her mind! Neither do the ad executives.

It could be that she doesn’t even want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, because she believes that it’s an invented holiday to shill pajamagrams and mediocre boxes of candy to the bumbling masses. She could very well think that even mentioning Valentine’s Day is giving it more power, like creating little verbal horcruxes of consumerism, and she’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist. Or maybe that’s all a ruse, concocted by her clever mind to see how much you really love her, so you better show up with daffodils or else. I don’t know!

Valentine’s Day is complicated, because—surprise!— people are complicated. Sometimes they want flowers and sometimes they want dead animals in Victorian garb. It’s a toss up. Good luck, you zany kids!

– Grace

Please Don’t Be Eaten by a Wolf

tumblr_kumhia1e3c1qzb7gjo1_400This weekend, I sobbed at the bookstore. If that sounds ridiculous to you, don’t worry. It was completely ridiculously ridiculous. There, in the middle of the New Fiction aisle, my eyes welled with tears and I choked back an involuntary sob. It was pitiful. It’s also what I deserve for reading the ends of books first.

Yes, I’m a book cheater! Rare is the novel I buy, without first checking to see how it ends. I’ve done this for years, scandalizing the hell out of our dear Mae, who believes in preserving the integrity of intended story structure. I’m all for story structure, but I’m also all for not being surprised by the narrator getting boiled alive in the school showers halfway through the book. Spoiler alert: I may have been traumatized by R.L. Stine’s Cheerleader series. As a late 90’s tween, I vowed never to be caught off guard by charred pep squad captains again! So, I cheat.

Which is what I was doing Monday afternoon, when I took my little sister on a celebratory “We don’t have school today!” bookstore adventure. Perusing the new releases, I picked up a book that received great buzz in the UK last year. The plot was intriguing, but had the potential for tragedy: woman is hired by man, man is training to hunt man-eating wolves in a forest, man and woman fall in love, despite danger of wolf attacks*. So, I flipped to the back of the book and read the end. Surprise! The man totally goes into the forest and gets eaten alive by wolves, after the woman begs him not to go. He tells her he loves her, kisses her, then nobly marches to his doom.

woman-cryingY’all, I lost it. All I could think about was Professor McGregor choosing to do the same thing. In reality, were we ever endangered by lupine warriors, he’d hire someone else to do the hunting or construct a clever trap that would keep him from becoming wolf vittles. Also—let’s be real—we live in Texas. A person is much more likely to be bitten by a snake, than to be eaten alive by anything. Logic was beyond me, however. I was overwhelmed by the realization that forever, that word that had so terrified me in past months, is not really forever. Barring miraculous advancements in modern medicine, we are not immortal.

Yes, that’s a morbid thought. It’s also one that needs to be dealt with…in a way that I feel completely at a loss to grasp. Love on screen is a lot of smiling and pining, which is certainly involved, but my variety also contains equal parts worry and protectiveness. Part of loving Professor McGregor is wanting to see him safe and happy, always. But there are things in this world – wolves and snakes and diseases that no gun can reason with – that threaten us.

Working in hospitals, I’m reminded of human frailty everyday. It’s just now, that I have a person who is mine, that the full impact of that hits me. For the first time, I’m jealous of Bella Swan. It’s not because she’s a spineless twit who made two supernaturals fall in love with her, but because—no matter how she might wish it otherwise, once she realizes how annoying Edward’s whining is—their love is actually forever.

Which brings me back to the wolf book. I’ve always been an empathetic person, quick to see myself in characters and situations, but suddenly my reactions are more violent. It was easier to read stories of love not conquering all, when I was neither in love nor desirous of its presence. So, am I just going to cry a lot now? Will the rest of my life be spent with tissues and waterproof mascara close at hand? That sucks. Y’all, I don’t want my days to feel like Nicholas Sparks marathons. Puffy, splotchy wimp is not my chosen aesthetic! Hell, I’m super embarrassed to even be writing this post. Walking around so vulnerable/drippy would mortify me!

I’m not marrying a vampire. Surely, I will get used to that fact eventually and stop being so damned emotional. You know…unless we have kids and I start crying over children, instead. I may have to institute a stronger Happy endings only! rule in my reading material. One can only bawl in Barnes and Noble so many times, before they ask you to stop shopping there. That would really make me sad.

– Grace

*This is not the actual plot, but just in case you want to read the book I picked up, I invented a storyline to keep you from being spoiled. You’re welcome. Unless there is a book about wolf wars on the shelves now and I just spoiled that one. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry and, also, what a coincidence!