Maybe He Has Malaria & Other Wisdom

little-red-flying-fox-hanging-out-serena-bowlesEveryone has a favorite party question. Who would you invite, living or dead, to a dinner party? David Sedaris, Cary Grant, and a recently bathed Queen Elizabeth I. What is your spirit animal? A Little Red Flying Fox bat, of course. What book would you smite from existence with a giant, fiery death ray? That’s my preferred party question, because there is only one answer. If you’re in possession of a literary fire ray, standard protocol calls for the destruction of He’s Just Not That Into You. Every misinformed, patronizing copy of it shall burn and we will dance joyfully in the ashes.

Fuck that book. Fuck all the articles claiming it might actually have value—I’m looking at you, Buzzfeed’s 65 Books You Need to Read In Your 20’s—instead of throwing it into the bonfire where it belongs. Now, I’m not a fan of censoring and I’m certainly not a fan of book burning. I just want this idiotic advice to die already. There is no romantic manual in existence, including the one that gendered the planets, doing more damage. Friends of mine, successful, lovely women with lots of sense, call it their bible.

2c85e416cee5e4f7ee3aed0df03e0ec1Here’s what I call it: bullshit. He’s Just Not That Into You has made a business out of tormenting innocent twenty-somethings. It gives us rules to date by, blithely handing out snippets of romantic fortune-telling to total strangers. If a guy doesn’t call you on Wednesday for a weekend date? He’s just not that into you. If a guy only texts you, instead of calling? He’s just not that into you. If you went home with a guy from the bar, he’s—wait for it!—just not that into you.

People aren’t that simple. I will go to my grave defending the complexity of mankind, friends. This book dishes out advice based on tired dating stereotypes: women are needy and guys must be tamed. This is dumb.

Wait, no!

This is so, so dumb that I have trouble finding words for it that don’t immediately make cerebral fluid leak out my ear. Lives are complicated. Every person we date has a history—little victories and heartbreaks that make them act they way they do. Maybe a guy is only texting you, because he thinks phones steal your life force, when talked into. Maybe he was slammed all week and, suddenly,  looked up to discover it’s Friday and he wants to see you desperately.

Sure, he may have cancelled your date because he’s an ass. Or, perhaps, he had a bout of intestinal malaria that had him clutching the Charmin for dear life. Rarely do we tell potential love interests of our bowel troubles. Instead we say “things came up” and ask them out at a later date. Thank goodness for that! You don’t want the knowledge of dear Marvin’s intestinal parasites cropping up mid-canoodle, do you? That’s how sexual phobias occur.

You don’t need this book. Romantic tribulations shouldn’t wreck your self-confidence, but there are no rules to love. If there were, no relationships would fail. We would all beatifically stroll through the world, happy and secure, until falling in love with precisely the right person at precisely the right time. That would never do for us! Humans are emotionally messy creatures, not robots. We must try the best we can. When it doesn’t work, throw a few bubbly drinks back, and keep living.

Let me be honest. If I’d followed the advice in this horrid tome, Professor McGregor and I wouldn’t be together. Hell, we never would have had a second date. Instead of being the darling man who surprises me with taxidermied mice, he would be that jerk who took two weeks to ask me out again. Horror of horrors. I’ll take a few weeks of emotional turmoil over that fate. The beginning of our relationship was filled with anxiety, yes, but it turned into something wonderful. That’s what matters.

h-armstrong-roberts-1920s-1930s-romantic-couple-evening-dress-embracing-about-to-kissYou don’t need a book to find love. You need courage, champagne on hand, and one piece of advice: Don’t date jerkfaces! If a romantic interest is mean to you, don’t date him or her. All of the advice in Barnes & Noble can be boiled down to that one, sparkling kernel. It doesn’t do to stress about timelines and made up dating etiquette. We’re all fucking clueless. Just treat people well and be wary, if they don’t reciprocate. If he brings your favorite ice cream, but didn’t call for two weeks? Ask him what’s up and eat the Mint Chocolate Chip. He might be just that into you and malaria.

Or he’s a jerkface.

Who knows? I certainly don’t and neither does any damned book.

– Grace

The Apathetic Bridal Guide

l_b25aab40-f095-11e1-aee4-f3a7ac600006There exists in this world a rare and wonderful creature. The Apathetic Bride. Unlike her cousin, The Relentlessly Excited Bride, she does not walk in beauty like the night, but in indifference like the esoteric holiday. She is the Happy Arbor Day! of engaged women. Her wedding planning resembles a Hawaiian Columbus Day parade: short-lived, rife with confusion, and ending with a relieved trip to the beach. Centerpieces bore her and her idea of a catering meeting is a trip to Whataburger. The Apathetic Bride would rather participate in a rousing game of Collect The Camel Spit than attend The Bridal Extravaganza.

I am an apathetic bride, friends.

Don’t tell the bridal industry gods, as they get a bit smite-happy with those pointy cake toppers, but wedding planning is mind-numbing. There are so many things to consider, none of which I care about. Outside of my dress (which I’m making) and the cake (delicious), I could give two shits about any of it. Two giant whale shits. Worse, there is no advice for my kind. We don’t make the industry any money, so we don’t have our own handbook or magazine. We’d have to care about weddings, in order to produce our own pamphlet. The Apathetic Bride would much rather watch paint dry, thanks. And so, it is left to me. For while I don’t enjoy talking about weddings, I do so love making fun of them!

My dear ennui-struck compatriots, I give you my Magnum Opus:

The Apathetic Bridal Guide: Part One, Because A Whole Opus Takes A Really Long Time and I Have Sundresses to Sew.

ON COLORS

Apathetic Bride, do you have a favorite color that you want to splash everything with on your special yeti day? No? Don’t worry about. People will say that, for your wedding to make sense thematically, you must reduce the essence of you and yours to a color pairing. What will your guests do, if they don’t know that your relationship is best portrayed by sea green and puce? They’ll deal with it. Your wedding does not need a theme. Your wedding does not need a color. Pick some stuff you like, plan a party like you normally do, and don’t stress about it. I’m going to have lots of shades of rose & floral prints, because I like them and they’re easy.

When people badger you about “your colors,” feel free to take my response:

Innocent Bystander: Grace, you must be so excited about your WEDDINGMARRIAGEAWESOMEDAYOFAWESOME!
Grace: Totes.
Innocent Bystander: So, what are your colors?
Grace: Torment and anguish!
Innocent Bystander: Oh, like a fancy gothic wedding?
Grace: No, like how I feel when people tell me I should pick out specific colors for this party. Why do I need a perfect color pairing? We’re not painting a baby, we’re throwing a party. A PARTY! WOOHOO!

*run off yelling woohoo*

ON FLOWERS

1930sbrideFlowers are a big deal for weddings. They’re also hella expensive and will die a disgusting, wilting mildew death within a few days. You are not going to be Miss Havisham, surrounded forever by the corpses of your wedding day, so they really don’t need to be that fancy. Have you ever seen hideous flowers? Of course, not. They’re Mother Nature’s version of nipple tassles: bright, shiny, and attractive to horny insects. Whichever ones you pick—roses, daisies, even the much-reviled carnations—will be pleasing to the eye. As such, you don’t actually need to pay a florist half your budget. Order some wholesale flowers from a reputable source, then blithely gather bottles and vases during your engagement period. On the day, throw some flowers in some containers and group them on tables as you want.

Voila! Instant “rustic chic” centerpieces. You’re welcome.

ON DRESSES

You don’t have to wear a white, strapless dress.

That’s all the advice I have. Wear whatever you want, whether that’s a gigantic Vera Wang ball gown, or an orange bias-cut column gown from your favorite vintage shop. There is no law saying it must be white, expensive, and kept for future generations. Hell, if you get married on a nude beach, it need not even exist. These are my words of freedom to you. Wear something you like, then get married.

ON CATERING

Wedding chicken sucks. It’s also expensive, boring, and needless. There are plenty of interesting ways to get around the traditional catering menu. Professor McGregor and I have decided to have an early-afternoon wedding and will be serving—All the pancake lovers rejoice!—brunch. You can have a beloved food truck roll up to your shindig or rent a BBQ smoker. You can serve hamburgers. Or, have a truly “retro wedding” and just eat cake & punch. Hell, you can get married in November and have Luby’s cater the entire thing as a Thanksgiving Dinner. Turkey and cranberry sauce for everyone!

Do not chain yourself to $35/plate catering menus. They aren’t your only option, whatever the wedding magazines tell you. Before you book a venue, make sure they don’t tie you to such shenanigans.

Here’s my final tip for wedding planning, dear ennui-struck ones: Don’t stress about lame things! All of those “traditions” you think are awkward and boring? Don’t do them. Invite some people, eat some food, then get married as fuck. It’s not odd to be uninterested in your wedding; it’s normal.

We will get through this lace-bedecked hellscape together.

– Grace

Where Have All the Love Letters Gone?

writing-letter

My workplace is limiting my email storage so I’ve been forced to look at emails I wrote back in the day.  It’s fun to see how unprofessional I was when I was a wee little Kate, making my foray into the business world.  Like the time I used 17 exclamation points in one message.  That was really cool.  I’m sure the Vice President who got my three-paragraph thank you email about lunch thought that was really cute.  But I digress. It was during this clean-up that I came across a rather large group of emails from my last official boyfriend in ::coughcough2007coughcough::. It would have been weird to go through them, re-read them, re-live my mindset from back then, so I quickly glanced at a couple then did a mass delete and it felt good.  But! I was reminded of something missing in my life and the lives of others.

Where have all the cowboys love letters gone? [It adds a little something if you sing it to the tune of that Paula Cole song.  Is it stuck in your head now?  You’re welcome.]

We live in an age where the love letter has been replaced with the email or the text message.  While some could use this as a platform to lament the use of the email or the text message, I will not.  You see, I actually like them quite a bit.  As opposed to a letter, they’re something you can get unexpectedly, any time of the day.*  That text message I got after a grueling meeting, the one from a date telling me he looks forward to seeing me tonight?  Yah, I’ll never object to it.

However, it’s the sheer volume of text messages and emails, and the obvious ease of sending them, which makes the love letter special, coveted, and missed.  It says something when your significant other takes the time to pull out the nice paper, a pen, and spend the time to come up with the perfect way to describe your golden locks or the way he goes all mushy when you tilt your head just so.  Or maybe he’s just letting you know how much he enjoyed the road trip to that one vineyard, and how he got to spend so much time with you.  I tear up just thinking about it!  Really.

Further, love letters provide the perfect opportunity for you to use your lover’s full name in a way that’s really sexy.  In romance novels, the heroine always notices when the hero uses her first name for the first time.  I don’t know about you, but seeing My Dearest Katharine** on the page would definitely make my lady parts quiver a little bit more than seeing plan ol’ Kate.  And that’s just the first few words!

Love letters are an acceptable place to describe that weird quirk about your lover that you never knew how to say in person.  Or maybe shouldn’t say.  Like the fact that in the mornings you like watching his nostrils flare while he’s still sleeping.  You think it’s cute.  But maybe that conversation is one that doesn’t go as smoothly in person.  The love letter, instead, lets you express these things and you get to avoid seeing the weird look on his face. But know that the weird look will probably turn into a blush and he’ll take a certain pride knowing his nostrils give you so much pleasure.

Love letters have an enduring and tangible aspect that just isn’t with an email or a text.  No digging through filed emails or trying to remember that sweet text message from five years ago.  The letters are there, in your hands, always available, and looking more loved and cherished over time.  Someday, your kids might even think they’d be great scrapbook material!

The road goes both ways on this one.  Men enjoy getting letters just as much as women.  Dare I say they even enjoy the well-thought letter even more than many women do?

How many of you get handwritten love letters on a regular basis?  Do tell!

-Kate

*But to that guy, who texted me at 11:30 P.M., telling me he only wanted me to sit next to him in bed and talk and “nothing more.”  Yah, you didn’t fool me.  Less than subtle and highly offensive.
**But while we’re on this topic, a note of caution; the love letter is not the place to test out that new “pumpkin cheeks” name you thought of when you saw your loved one bending over in the supermarket aisle to reach for that can of green beans.

A Spinster’s Arsenal-in-a-Bag

woman-looking-in-mirror-vintage

Aside from the requisite lip gloss, wallet, and keys, there are a few other must-haves in my handbag.  Dating is serious business y’all.  It’s critical I keep a well-stocked arsenal on hand.

Tweezers

No, I don’t pluck my eyebrows on a date (or ever actually… are you picturing me with a Kahlo-esque unibrow right now?).  But when it’s patio season in Texas, you can bet every date will suggest drinks outside.  Just when I’m feeling confident that I’ve arranged myself to my best advantage on the sticky plastic chair that causes my thighs to sweat more than is seemly, I notice that errant hair twisting up near my ankle.  Y’all, it’s like a Sasquatch hair.  I swear it’s way thicker than any other leg hair I’ve ever grown and it has somehow evaded the razor for what must be weeks on end.  How the hell did I miss it?!  And so, bathroom break, tweezers.  I wish I could tell you this had only happened to me one time in the past…

A Compact Mirror

You might never meet another person who touches their nose more than I do.  And it’s because of this:  I fear a visible… crusty.  A bat in the cave, if you will.  When I get really paranoid, I can’t focus on anything else.  There was that time I dated someone for a month and couldn’t recall why he had joint custody of his dog.  There was a story he’d recounted on our way to a play, but my mind was otherwise engaged.  Surely, a bat was hanging out, and I’d been debating just how ginormous that bat must be.  Was it a dangler?  Was it lodged on the side, waiting to fling itself out of my schnoz the moment I laughed?  Perhaps it was only a fluttery little thing, but moving enough that it would distract my date?  Gone from my memory were the 15 minutes of conversation wherein the presence of the little white fluffball of a dog was explained.  This, spinster friends, is why I take a compact mirror.  Screw powdering my nose or touching up my lip gloss.  One must be able to confirm an empty cavity, and a compact mirror ensures I become a deeper listener.

An Extra Pair of Underwear

I’m not entirely sure why these are needed.  It’s not like I’ve ever crapped my pants, but maybe this is all those years of Girl Scout training, telling me you can never be too prepared.

My Cell Phone

…with Grace’s number on speed dial and text messages to my mother, sister, grandmother, best friend, coworker, supermarket bagger, and bank teller, detailing  key identifiers of my date.  You know.  Just in case he turns out to be an axe* murderer.

6:03 P.M.  His name is Michael. He’s returning from the pistol range, which means he probably owns a gun.

6:24 P.M.  Full name is Michael William Throckmorton IV.  He drives a 7-series BMW.  I’m not sure what that says about him, other than the fact that he has money, but you should probably be on alert.  He could do away with me and nobody would suspect the successful dude.

6:26 P.M.  For the record, I don’t care that he has money.  I’m successful enough on my own.  But you know this.  But I had to clarify.  Right.

7:08 P.M.  We made it to the restaurant.  No signs of zip ties or plastic bags.

9:55 P.M.  He wants to show me the “art” in his apartment.  Should I be concerned?  Is this a euphemism for something else?  What if he keeps hooks o’torture in his closet?

10:02 P.M.  Earth to Grace!  I have to make a decision here!

10:16 P.M. Ok, executive decision made.  We’re on the way to his apartment.

10:37 P.M.  Damn it, I forgot to check his apartment number.  We’re in the middle of the complex, down one of the halls.  3rd floor.  His door faces someone who has a Hello Kitty wreath.

10:38 P.M.  Also, why does he live in an apartment if he drives a 7-series?

12:11 A.M.  So… he really did just show me his art.  OMG.  What does that say about me?!  Shouldn’t he have tried to get my pants off?  I wore mesh panties! That should count for something!

12:14 A.M.  The panties are really cute.  Remind me to send you the link.

12:31: A.M.  OK I’m home.  Damn it.  The cats say hello.

Speaking of cats…

An Industrial Lint Roller

If I’ve dressed in anything nice or dark-colored, it’s like a homing beacon for the cats.  Is that a black sweater?  Why no, it’s now a white cat hair blend!  I might as well throw on my cat necklace and keep a stash of kitty treats sticking out the top of my bag.

If you’ve been counting, this makes no less than 12 trips to the restroom.  The guy must think have a bladder the size of a pea or that the shrimp scampi isn’t settling well.

What other key items do I need to add to my list?

-Kate

*I like to contemplate what an Axe murderer might be like in the men’s fragrance sense of the word.

The Hickey: A Plague! A Mythical Love Plague!

Iil_570xN.392181666_nxoln eighth grade, I knew a lot about kissing.

I hadn’t actually done a lot of kissing, mind you, but I’d heard expert advice on such matters. (Note: For a thirteen year-old Grace, those experts were Dawson’s Creek, the classic movie channels, and Ashley Lindsey from my US History class who made out with her boyfriend in the canyon behind school every afternoon.) In my mind, there were three absolute rules of kisses:

  1. The greatest one of all time had already happened, thanks to Wesley and Buttercup, so the pressure was off.
  2. Boys tasted like Doritos and rubber orthodontia bands.
  3. If you really made out with someone, you’d have to wear a turtleneck the next day.

Two of these things ended up being true. The third, however, was a load of hippopotamus vomit. Do you know how bloody impossible it is to give someone a hickey, kittens? In order to make that perfectly crimson blemish, a delicate balance of sucking and biting must occur. All of this must happen while making noises of make out delight and balancing atop your prey partner. So: biting, sucking, and balancing. These things do not go together seamlessly, unless you are a world-renowned lollipop gymnast. You’re not. You will bite too hard, or suck with too much effort. Unless your kissing partner is a masochist, such attempts shall result in high-pitched squeals of pain, not a hickey.

How did this become our visual shorthand for passionate encounters? Give me tousled hair! Give me beard burn! Instead, we’re left with rare painful welts. Kissing shouldn’t have so much in common with Ebola, friends. What’s next? Using Black Death-esque buboes as code for “We’re pregnant!”? Nothing says bundle-of-joy like massively swollen lymph glands!

What’s more, if my kissing partner ever actually marked me in such a way, I’d be enraged. Deigning to make out with someone does not make you theirs to mark! If you want to tell the world you like me, buy some damned flowers. Roses speak of affection more efficiently than scabs. If Professor McGregor broke skin during our canoodling, I’d have grave concerns about his mortality. Have you encountered anyone who sparkles lately, love? Is your skin turning to ash in the sun?

We brand cattle, not romantic partners. If you’ve practiced giving hickeys enough to actually be able to pull them off, please put your free time to better use. You’d, no doubt, be good at imitating a blowfish. Perhaps join a circus as The Human Sea Porcupine? Whatever you do, don’t hickey any more unsuspecting souls. That’s how these ridiculous tropes get started. Now, if you’d share what you’ve learned here today with Those Construction Workers Who Whistle at Women Pedestrians, it would save me ever so much time.

So, am I the only one who’s never displayed this ultimate sign of passion? Tell me true, love hamsters. Hickeys: fact or fiction?

– Grace

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!

Why Is There A Couch In This Meadow?

45Congratulations! You’re officially engaged. It all seems like fun and games, marrying the love of your life, but there are expectations, darling. As a modern engaged woman, you must: set a date, find a fluffy dress, act like you care about centerpieces, play catering chicken roulette, and get engagement photos done.

What’s that you say? You don’t need professional engagement photos? You’re perfectly happy just sending out invitations, not Save the Date postcards, and besides you’re going to have wedding pictures taken anyway, so what’s the point? The point, liebling, is that it’s expected. People, apparently, want to see glossy pictures of you and Dr. Swoodilypooper. They want you to post them on Facebook. That want you to make Save the Date magnets with them. They want to stare at your smoldering love eyes while they eat cheesecake from a box at midnight, damn it, so smolder already.

Or, I guess that’s the point. I’m kind of foggy on the whole thing myself. People are really insistent that Professor McGregor and I have an engagement photo shoot. Note: that’s a photo shoot, not a quick portrait session. Important distinction! We need to be wearing perfectly coordinated outfits in a grassy field, or else. Ideally, a professional photographer will lie in wait for us there, snapping shots of us frolicking, staring deeply into each other’s eyes, and lying whimsically on a couch. Lolly-gagging on furniture in meadows is how people recognize true love!

Engagement photo shoots are, let’s be honest, a very odd phenomenon. The generations before us did not think it normal to hire a professional photographer, rent an abandoned warehouse, then stand broodingly against a brick wall staring into the distance. That’s not vintage romance, that’s modern excess. We’ve gone from using the camera to document our lives, to fashioning our lives for the camera. From my Facebook feed alone, I’ve seen couples posed in fields, reenacting classic movie train scenes, and posing in faux-picnic scenes. We do not see couples being in love, we see photography skill and styling.

Is this another example of our generation, the oft maligned Millennials, being self-obsessed twits? It’s easy to say yes. The wedding industry preys on our notion that this life event is just that: an event. Brides are fairy princesses, to be indulged in their every whim, and the union they form with their grooms is unique, magical, and rare. As such, that love should be documented properly! Instead of candid pictures of the couple at football games or Scrabble tournaments, they need glossy professionally finished photos worthy of magazine spreads. Or, rather: blogs and Pinterest boards and Facebook feeds. That is where this phenomenon comes from. Now that our whole lives have been boiled down to the images and text on a screen, those images take on more value. Our generation actively judges people based on their engagement photos. Of course, they’re going to get ridiculous.

k-k-vintage-engagement-11

We don’t believe you stumbled across vintage furniture in a meadow or that you bring a Victrola on your romantic picnics, but we do believe you should. When the self is distilled into a social media page, the desire to properly express that self is inevitable. You like vintage things? Grab an old dress and find an airport hanger: you’re on a retro vacation! You’re originally from Texas? You’ll want perfectly coordinated cowboy boots and a picturesque horse ranch. Hipsters need edgy graffiti; comic lovers need to fend off zombie hordes. How else will your friends and family know the true nature of your love?

Y’all, this is ridiculous. Life does not exist to look lovely on your Pinterest board. A relationship’s strength should not be judged by how photogenic it is. We’re not fooling anyone with these pictures. No one seriously snuggles up on velvet couches in poppy fields, or packs for a honeymoon in vintage suitcases. They’re lovely, but—darling, please!—a carry-on needs wheels. Must we all look like Stock Photo Couple #34, for our friends to know our relationship is legit? Do we really have a rare “fairytale” love, when it’s portrayed just like everyone else’s?

I vote we stop with this nonsense. If your grandchildren need proof you were once hot, you’ll have your wedding photos. A professional photograph is not required for all our life events. If we really want keepsakes, we’re doing it wrong. It’s not awkward smizing on a bench we’ll remember in fifty years, but the parties with friends and shared triumphs. We should be documenting the truth of our lives—the imperfect makeup, along with the real from-the-gut laughter—not a glossy, solar-flared impression of it.

– Grace