At Least I’ve Learned A Few Things

The Breakup Chronicles: Part 2

First off, y’all are wonderful.  Thank you for your outpouring of support.  Sometimes we write just needing to get it out, and forget that people will have things to say.  And what you did say to me meant more to me than I can express.  You didn’t have to take the time to say a word, but you did, and it helped me a lot.  Never double that your kind words in a tough time are doing so much for someone.

Things are still uncertain and who likes uncertainty?  Not this girl.  I had grand plans to talk to Francois about it – a little check in, if you will – but when we last chatted I was tired and worried that I wouldn’t be quite eloquent enough.  So here we are.  Breakup week the second, confusion week the second.

I’m determined not to text him (or, you know, at least until Saturday).  Do you know how hard it is not to text?  It’s like when you’ve had a drink or two, and you know you really shouldn’t drunk text but you do because it’s so fun!  You’re so funny!  People must love you!  And then in the midst of that fun, when you’re trying to tell Grace one thing, you get drunk digits and instead ask her to milk you.  You know. Awkward times. (For the record, I don’t remember what I meant to tell her, but it was most certainly not for her to milk me.)    Right. Where were we?  Oh yes… I’ve been getting mixed signals out the wazoo which feels great because it feeds that little bit of hope I have, but it’s crappy because it keeps him in my thoughts.  And at the back of my mind I know that 99% of the time this sort of thing isn’t going to work out but those mixed signals are very powerful.  You tell yourself that you might be the situation that works.  It could be you!  Which is all to say, if you see me with a cell in my hand this week, you have permission to yell, “KATE, STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE.”

Here we are.  Day 9.   Here is what I’ve learned thus far:

When your bestie offers to drive in to see you?  Take her up on it.  Best friend therapy often can’t be topped and you’ll kick yourself for missing that needed time with her.  True, you will probably talk her ears off but she’s a doctor and can sew them back on.

Hang out with people, no matter how much you want to wallow or stay glued to Facebook checking for signs of activity.  (It’s unseemly the amount of time I’ve spent checking to see if he’s been active.  Someone save me.)  It’s very possible Francois will pull himself out of my life for good, but my friends aren’t leaving me anytime soon.  In times like these they are especially supportive and say the kind of thoughtful things that make you cry not because of sadness, but because you’re not sure how you got lucky enough to have them in your life.

Wine is delicious.

Pathetic walks by the lake aside, exercise is healthy.  Go on an extra long run but this time focus on overtaking the guy in front of you rather than checking the parking lots for signs of Francois.  Admire the runner’s calves as you approach.  Race past him.  Feel victorious when you leave him in the dust.  Round the corner so he can’t see you.  Walk.

Hug your cats.  I’m still missing the lazy mornings in bed with Francois but little furry gatos can be pretty comforting.  I will be not ashamed of my cat lady status.

Listen to your mother:

I hope for Francois’ sake he realizes he’s being a dick.  Because he is not going to find another Kate Hepburn.  Sometimes guys need a hammer to the head.  Just a little tap.

and later…

If things don’t work out, since you keep finding better and better guys, I think you should set your cap for…Prince Harry? Why not?

Also, two solid hours of dancing around in one’s underwear and lip syncing to Bruno Mars and Carole King is recommended.  Not that I have experience with such a thing.

-Kate

Get In The Bathtub, Dude: An Advertising Field Guide to Men

179b653565641b1dee73ecbdf6a7a69fThe time is upon us once again. People are sporting garish color combinations, insisting their friends eat chip-and-bean casserole concoctions, and complaining at every Saturday wedding they attend. It’s football season, kittens!

Usually, I’m not much of a football fan. I enjoy watching the actual game well enough, but take umbrage with so many aspects of it—hyper-masculinity, health dangers, its effect on education, and those wretched pink Lady ___insert appropriately intimidating mascot__ Fan! t-shirts—that it’s hard to give more than a rousing “Woohoo!” when that College Team I Follow wins. Thanks to living with a man whose school is doing particularly well this year, however, I’m watching a lot more football. And, as a result, football commercials.

Y’all, these commercials have totally opened my eyes. Back before Professor McGregor, I semi-longed to understand the proverbial menfolk. My mind told me they were just the same as me—regular people, with the added bonus of a penis—but friends told me they were mysterious creatures, mystifying in their ways and hairiness. It turns out, all we needed to do was watch more ESPN to discover the truth.  There are lessons to be learned, in between those brief periods of programming you actually want to watch. Sports advertising understands men and gives the rest of us handy man-dealing tips.

Truth #1: Men love to take baths, especially with wolf soap. I would never have known this from living with my teenage brother, but men really love being clean. Just when you think a man wants some sexy time with his lady love – boom! – he suggests bathing instead. And not bathing-together-in-a-sexy-way either, but side by side, each person with their own bathtub. Men cannot share tubs with you! They want to enjoy the warm water and romantic sunset in their own watery space! The only creatures a man wants to bathe with are wolves and eagles, who lend their essences to man soap. I always thought Professor McGregor’s showery scent was something with sandalwood or cedar, but these commercials are pretty insistent that he bathe alone in animal extracts.

Truth #2: Low Testosterone is an epidemic that must be solved. Everyone knows that the most important part of being a man is having a vigorous man member, which rouses quickly at the slightest hint of a womanly presence. But when men age, their testosterone levels naturally decrease, apparently making it really hard to do the one thing men are supposed to do all the time! Judging by the amount of commercials, low testosterone is reaching epidemic proportions in America. Sure, your husband tells you that he doesn’t want to canoodle, because he has the flu, but that is really the fever of low testosterone. A man who cannot canoodle is no man at all! We must save the canoodling man bits people! Who wants to plan a benefit walk/run for canoodling with me?

Truth #3: Men hate cooking, but love cheese. When men get together, they don’t want to make things. That’s crazy talk! Men don’t cook, they grunt and swear and worry about their fantasy football stats. To keep up their energy, however, they need to eat. That’s where cheese comes in. If you’re hosting a man party, it will only be a hit if you buy fast food covered in dairy product. Chicken tenders + CHEDDER! Pizza + FOUR CHEESES! Tacos + CHEESEY SAUCE CHEESE BYPRODUCT! These are man foods. Leave the expertly barbecued pork loin at home, Harold, unless you want all the other men to mock you.

72a16f1bdb1b793426a0cb0464eeeb0dTruth #4: Men are powerless, when presented with breasts.  All my adult life, I’ve had the power to rule menfolk and I didn’t even know it. When presented with breasts, men forget how to properly function as human beings. They crash cars, spill soup, and embarrass themselves in front of their friends, by following woman orders. This apparently, includes gay men, since I’ve never seen a sports commercial featuring a man distracted by great man shoulders. Surely, ESPN wouldn’t assume gay men don’t like sports and, thus, don’t need targeted advertising. Obviously, there’s just some sort of natural kryptonite reflex built into men, when it comes to breasts.

When Professor McGregor comes home tonight, I’m going to try out all these new, amazing lessons I’ve learned from sports advertising. Sure, he said he wanted to come home, make bison steaks and Brussels sprouts, then watch Much Ado About Nothing, but he’s a man! I suppose I’ll throw all those vegetables away, order a pizza loaded with four pounds of cheese, give him a blood test to diagnose his current testosterone levels, and force him into the bathtub instead. Thanks, ESPN!

– Grace

Hello, Big Boy: Pornography and Feminism

On Saturdays, We Talk About Sex is a new series in which the Spinsters talk about sex, sexual politics, and sexy things. On Saturdays. If you’re related to one of the Spinsters, or would prefer to never think of Grace/Kate/Mae mid-bedsport, this may not be the series for you. We recommend watching This ABBA video, instead of reading ahead. Everyone else, let’s talk about sex (on a Saturday).

04eMen watch pornography. It’s a bit of an expected thing, in this day and age. Teenage boys, given thirty seconds and relaxed Google settings, will find some people doing it. Boys will be boys, you know. Teenage girls, on the other hand, are expected to be horrified by porn, pretend it doesn’t exist, and spend all their time on Pinterest instead. This socially expected discrepancy will eventually play out in the following scenario:

A party of guys/girls. The first winter break of college.

Guys: We’re so free and adult now! We can talk about sex in front of girls!
Girls: We shall hint about our newfound sexual adventures, because it’s college and we’re no longer automatically slutty, if we’ve seen a penis!
Guys: Oh my god. The girls are ALSO talking about sex.
Girls: Sex, sex, sex! We are so empowered!
Guys: You know would be awesome, group of friends we’re really excited to be talking about real things with? Watching porn.
Girls: But no! We’ve never seen such a thing! Our eyes, our eyes!
Guys: Porn it is!
Girls: Oh My GOD! PEOPLE ARE HAVING THE SEX AND BEING NAKED! BRING US OUR PEARLS, FOR WE MUST CLUTCH THEM!

I know this scenario happens, because I’ve been there. An eighteen year-old Grace quite vocally insisted that she had never, not ever, seen pornography and why would anyone want to watch such a thing and, also, gross! Of course, I had seen porn. I was a teenager with an internet connection. It was “off limits”, so I’d switched off my safe settings and gone traversing the great, wide world of people doing it on camera. Being a virgin at the time, it was also super enlightening to have visuals of acts that seemed somewhat mechanically questionable. They weren’t my regular internet haunts, by any means, but I’d seen some P put into some V quite a few times.

So, why the feelings of shame? The guys weren’t embarrassed, but I would have bathed in warm garlic mayonnaise, before admitting to any virtual voyeurism. It was, of course, fear. If I’d spoken up and asked what the big deal was, my friends might have thought me—terror of terrors!—slutty. Good girls don’t watch porn. Good girls can be in touch with their sexuality, but only to the extent that they sometimes have monogamous heterosexual sex without hurling. To not only enjoy it, but actively seek it out? Unthinkable. Boys were the ones super interested in sex, while girls simply gave into it. As porn served chiefly to aid self-arousal, porn was off limits.

Now, here’s the thing—I am not pro-pornography. I think there are a lot of problems, for women specifically, when it comes to modern internet porn. In many ways, it has radically changed the way my generation looks at normal sex and sexuality. The most tangible example is in our grooming habits: well over 80% of women under thirty completely wax their pubic regions. While we say it’s for our own hygiene or for the guys we love, it has roots in a trend started in 80’s pornography, with the goal of better camera shots. That a standard beauty practice for young women has direct roots in pornography and the resulting look of pre-pubescence should cause anyone to pause. As a feminist, such pervasive and quick changes to the expectations of womanhood make me uncomfortable. Moreover, it’s just the beginning. We’re only just now starting to understand all the ways porn has changed the bedroom politics of America.

Vol-4 erotism-lingerie  (12)I’m not here to make value judgment on porn, but instead on the way we deal with it. Anytime something is a labeled a “man thing,” my hackles start twitching upwards. What exactly makes porn an exclusively male domain, World? Well, Grace darling, it’s because men are base creatures driven by their sexual desires and they’re going to masturbate themselves blind anyway, so we should let them have an outlet. Women, on the other hand, are delicate flowers who aren’t as in to sex and certainly don’t want the kind of dirty, lewd things featured in internet pornography. Unless they’re slutty, of course. That’s where porn really comes from: sluts.

Yeah, okay, see that’s all reeks-of-sexism bullshit. Women are told, subtlety and constantly every day, that we shouldn’t like sex. When we make jokes about wives having headaches or thinking of England, we’re reinforcing the notion of appropriate, gendered sexuality standards. Bullshit! Some dudes don’t have super excitable sex drives, while some women want it all the damn time. What’s more, how many women enjoy sex a whole bunch, but don’t feel comfortable voicing that enjoyment? How many men are made uncomfortable by the impersonal nature of porn, but must pretend otherwise to their buddies?

We’re doing everyone a disservice with these Victorian notions of what’s appropriate for whom. How will we ever talk about actual problems pornography may foster, if we can’t openly discuss who’s watching it and what’s happening in it? World, teenage boys are not the only young people watching pornography. Your daughters are seeing it too. What’s more, it’s quickly becoming the way all teenagers truly learn about sex. We need to address what that means for us as a society and we need to do it honestly. Let’s stop pretending men are all hypersexual semen monsters and that women are all innocence and light. Neither gender is that simple.

Men are watching porn. Women are watching porn. Instead of treating it as the flesh-colored elephant in the bedroom, let’s treat it like what it is: our modern sexual reality. How you choose to deal with that is the next question.

– Grace

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

Forever Is A Really Long Time

Professor McGregor and I are probably getting married. We’ve discussed it extensively, my dad is scouting out potential venues, and I’ve already decided on a dress (to be fair: I’ve wanted a Dolly Couture dress for years now, forthcoming nuptials or not). He hasn’t proposed, but the only reason I use the word “probably” is because the apocalypse is supposedly nigh. Roving zombie hordes tend to change plans a bit.

Readers, I never thought I’d get married. It always seemed more likely that middle-aged Kate and I would share a rambling old Victorian mansion, collecting pets and rare books with a fervor and throwing tea parties for our bemused, but enchanted neighbors. This didn’t bother me. This, I thought, was a most excellent plan. None of my grand dreams for the future included a husband. Sure, I have a wedding board on Pinterest, but that’s because I live for pretty dresses and flower arrangements. It wasn’t even a daydream, it was an exercise in never-going-to-happen musings.

Now, in less than six months, it’s a thing that’s happening. I’ve met the guy. It’s wonderful.

It’s also terrifying. Why did no one warn me? Pop culture would have us believe that all the angst is in the finding of love, not in keeping it. This is not so! Admittedly, I find anxiety in the oddest of things, but the future seems to teem with danger. What if the things he finds endearing now become squeaking-dog-toy annoying? What if we violently disagree on the names of our spawn? What if I’m struck by a car, resulting in a massive head injury that changes my personality, forcing him to stick by me even though I’m suddenly a muppet supremacist?

It’s not Professor McGregor I doubt, but myself. I’ve never felt this way before, so how can I be sure everything will turn out well? Forever is a really long time. There’s plenty of opportunity for me to accidentally hurt him or ruin everything. I know that he’s funny. I know that he’s cute. I know that he’s eminently practical, which I both need and admire. But how do I know I won’t screw it all up? It’s easy to get lost in thoughts of pink bridal shoes and invitation sets, but the emotional questions keep me up at night.

People claim it will all work out. “What’s meant to be will be!” they shout with happy smiles. But, y’all, horrible things happen all the time. Nobody goes through life in a constant state of happiness. People die, people contract horrid illnesses, people inexplicably fall out of love. We take the good with the bad in life, but it doesn’t make the bad any less scary. I want to be this joyful forever. I want to be free of anxious questions forever. I just want to make Professor McGregor happy forever.

Forever, however, is like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. The path to happiness seems to lie in that sunny meadow over there, but an anaconda might wait in the grass, ready to snack on my heart. I can’t just flip the pages back in real life. Professor McGregor is the adventure I choose, happily and whole-heartedly, but I’d really like some carnivorous snake repellant just in case.

– Grace

Beards: Too Marvelous for Words

Men of the world, we need to talk. Don’t think I haven’t noticed what you’re doing. Everywhere I go, men are sporting more and more facial hair. Beards, goatees, and moustaches are running amok.

I love it.

Or, rather, my ovaries love it. Not so much the moustaches, as those skew a little 1970s creepster for my taste, but the beards. Good Lord, the beards. There’s something about a short, well-groomed beard that makes me more excited than Jessie Spano on caffeine pills. They’re right up there with British accents and three-piece suits on the list of Things That Make Grace Swoon.

Ryan Gosling, who doesn’t have a British accent, but is wearing a three-piece suit and sporting a beard. Swoon.

So, what is it about beards, exactly? We’re not supposed to like them. According to a study that made the rounds a few months ago, women perceive men with beards as more aggressive and older. By all biological rights, bearded men should send us running, mace can in hand (the foaming kind, mind you, to prevent blowback!), for the safety of a baby-faced harbor.

And, yet, I know I’m not the only one who loves scruffy men. Mae recently encouraged Captain Thoughtful to grow out a short beard for their wedding, because she wants pictures of a bearded CT sitting on their mantle for all of eternity. Bring up beards at a table with my friends and most of us start fanning ourselves. Is it because we secretly have caveman fantasies? Do we long for the embrace of a smelly lumberjack?

No. Well, not me anyway. You may love nothing more than a man who spends all day cutting down trees and wearing flannel. I shall not judge, liebling. However, my love of beards is a combination of things. First off, my sweet spot for men has always been the jawline. Blame it on all those Superman comics I read growing up. I love a strong jaw and beards do such a great job of defining one, or even creating one.

Second, they’re manly.

Fine. The damn study was right. Beards totally look all grown-up and aggressive. Why are these bad things, again? I know the 21st century is youth obsessed, but surely we can see the value in maturity. Maturity is hot! Do you really want a guy who gets carded every time he orders a drink? Or whom people sometimes mistake for your younger brother? No. You want a man who wears a suit well, but still looks like he can handle an ax. What happens if he whisks you to a Swiss ski chalet and the power goes out? Someone has to chop the wood shirtless, kittens.

Right. I just devolved into a Ryan Reynolds fantasy, didn’t I? Sorry about that. If you remain unconvinced of the beard’s allure, readers, I present one final argument: Bearded guys are fun to make out with. Not terribly scientific, I know. If my recent adventures with Professor McGregor are anything to go by, however, guys with beards are excellent kissers. The facial hair can result in beard burn, yes, but it also adds a bit of tactile interest to your romantic shenanigans. Who doesn’t love that?

Okay, readers, let’s dish. How do you feel about scruffy men? Do you love a smooth shave or do you prefer a little five o’clock shadow on your beloved? I’ve found points are best proven with photos. Lots of them. I shall get us started:

– Grace

P.S. Male spinster fans, I do apologize for this post. We try to be light on the mancandy around the blog, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I’d love to hear your beard thoughts, however! Do they itch? Are they hard to grow? Do you long to go all Gandalf and grow a long one?

Manfriend Musings

Hello spinster friends!  I’m a tad bit late with a post this week which is due to some Exciting and completely exhausting Happenings in the Land of Hepburn.  You might not know this, but this little Kate is an introvert so a wild week of unexpected travel, a flat tire, and not a single night spent vegging on my sofa with a good romance and a pot of Earl Grey… well, let’s just say it’s Saturday morning, I’m still in my jammies, and I intend to stay that way.

I’m not a whiner and complainer, that’s a lie, don’t listen to me, but in these particularly trying types of weeks I’m reminded of those little things that a manfriend might bring to the situation.  Sometimes, I miss them.  I give you my short list:

The Arm/Back/You-Name-It Scratch.

Spinster friends, you know what I’m talking about!  Nothing is more lovely than a night spent in, forcing your beloved to watch HGTV’s Design Time Saturday Night, and getting a good arm scratch.  One of those wooden back scratchers just will not do.  And nevermind if most men have nubs for nails.  It’s soothing either way.  Plus, I’ve perfected the technique so the future Mr. Hepburn need not put out more effort than necessary.  It’s called the Hot Dog.  Step 1: Place arm directly in front of partner.  Step 2: Manfriend starts scratching arm in a horizontal motion.  Step 3:  Rotate your arm like a hot dog at a hot dog stand and behold! total arm scratch satisfaction.

The Flat Tire Savior.

I know how to change a flat.  In fact, it was one of the first things I did in driving school.  (Aside: Did you know that in Texas we didn’t have to take behind-the-wheel tests???  We required only 7 hours of actual driving time.  Yah, I know.  So, if you’re ever in this state, forgive us on the road.  We know not what we do.  Well, I mean, I do but I can’t say the others have a clue.)  So when I get a flat tire, I just want to have someone to call.  Someone who would come and hang out with me while I remedy the situation.  Or if not that, and if I was fortunate to have an awesome company that sends someone to fill my tire with air, someone who would at least lend me their car so I’m not scrambling to figure out how to get to Very Important Places the next day.  That’s a particular spinster challenge, I feel – the lack of a second car option is the pits!

Breakfast in Bed

Alright, alright, nobody has ever made me breakfast in bed.  But as I’m sitting here in my jammies it strikes me as something that would be really nice.  I’d like a stack of four pancakes.  No, make that five, just in case.  With a little pat of butter and two bitty twin pots of crème anglaise, and raspberry jelly.  A cup of Early Grey with a tiny spoon that has a dob of honey would also be nice.  And a big glass of 1% milk.  Oh, and sausage links!  I love sausage links.  And if Mr. Hepburn would be so kind, that romance I left on the couch the other night.  He romanced me enough last night, I’ll give him a break this morning.

What am I missing?  What other nice things might a manfriend* do?

*Or ladyfriend as I can’t leave out our beloved gentlemen spinster friends!

-Kate