My reply to Mr. Wolcott
MoDo Has No Mojo
Posted by James Wolcott
Steve Gilliard takes pity on Maureen Dowd ("Please will someone be MoDo's valentine?"), and wonders if I take pity on her too. He poignantly asks, "Isn't it sad that this intelligent, attractive woman is alone? And has to use her column to troll for dates?"
It is sad. It is a sad, sorry sight for a New York Times columnist to use the precious column inches that every pundit in America covets to take out a personal ad redolent of crumpled cocktail napkins and Dorothy Parkerish wisecracks disguising heartache. If MoDo's quest for a soulmate continues to cough up dust, she will be reduced to emulating Nick Kristof and purchasing the freedom of Thai go-go boys. But go-go boys, no matter how well they shake it, can never replace the love of a good man.
I wonder if there's any hope for MoDo in the romance department. I fear not. When men and women patrolling for a spouse reach their forties bruised and unmarried, it usually means that the mistakes they've been making throughout their single lives have become ingrained bad habits, and they'll continue sabotaging themselves no matter how aware they are of those habits. It's as if they have a defective chip in their brains, a repetitive cognitive disorder.
Uh, Jim, Thai go-go boys are usually gay.
I think she would start trolling for U Maryland grad students working in the Washington bureau. Speaking of Nick Kristoff, his wife is a Times reporter. Bob Woodward's wife is a WaPo reporter. Many journalists marry within the trade or in closely allied fields, like the law.
I think that MoDo's problem was that a mere reporter wasn't good enough. We're fat, balding or rail thin. No, she needed a superstar. Which is why she dated the junkie Aaron Sorkin and sex addict Michael Douglas. However, high profile men make lousy catches, since there is always a model who needs a daddy to bang her in the can.
I would bet there is more than one person in the Washington bureau who would be more than glad to fuck her silly, but they're not good enough. She needs a CEO or something. You can tell that she has esteem problems because she keeps chasing these men, who basically fuck her and dump her. Liz Phair's Fuck and Run comes to mind. But when you reach a certain age, that gets silly.
But as to the rest of the column, Jim is, of course, right.
Years ago I received a crash course in dating and romancing from a Southern spitfire, an experience I fictionalized in my novel The Catsitters. She was a brilliant tactician, completely unsentimental about her sex and mine, which mean there was no "Be Yourself" "Show Her the Real You" foolishness. I asked her once why she didn't coach women and she said, "Because they don't listen. Or rather, they listen, nod, and agree, and then go and do the very thing that you urged them not to do. And give you this story later about how they 'just couldn't help themselves.'"
I learned this myself. Women used to ask me "guy" questions for advice about someone they were dating, how they should handle certain situations, and I have to say I gave good advice, because it was Darlene's advice translated through a male outlook. Then I gave up, because time and again women would pretend to accept the advice only to turn around and do the exact opposite, explaining to me, "I couldn't not call him because that's not who I am" or "I believe in putting my feelings on the table." Well, they kept putting those feelings on the table, and the guys kept backing away from the table and moonwalking to the nearest exit.
Apropos, check out Melanie Thernstrom's eyeopener on matchmakers in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine. I know Melanie slightly, which makes the piece more piquant, esp the passage where a matchmaker tries to give her advice. I didn't venture advice to Melanie when we were chummier because she's one of those sincere types (tweet tweet) who believes that people are basically nice and good and that there's nothing in a fledgling relationship that can't be resolved through better communication, and as Lou Grant once said, there's no reasoning with a fanatic.
Now, about his friend Melanie....
I first heard of Florence through her son, Larry, who is a friend of mine. When I initially e-mailed her, telling her I wanted to write about matchmakers, she did not seem interested. Instead, she wrote back: ''Larry tells me you are not interested in being matched. I told Larry, Don't be so sure about that!''
In the following months, I was unable to shift Florence's attention to the article I was writing. If the journalist is single, she must be matched. What kind of single person refuses? Then she thought of Princeton. Why couldn't I date Princeton? she wanted to know. After all, we live near each other.
I demurred. Nothing against Princeton, I explained, but an absence of a sense of potential for deep connection.
Did I imagine that he wasn't literary enough? Florence wondered. ''He is a good catch,'' she wrote. ''He is very smart. You could marry him and have a friend who has more literature DNA.''
When successive e-mail messages over the course of the year revisited the subject of Princeton, I tried to be clearer. I am not interested. No interest. Not. And neither is he.
But interest for a driven matchmaker is neither here nor there. ''Please just consider some bourgeois perturbations to what you've been thinking,'' Florence wrote. ''I know this will make you angry, but . . . I've made some people angry on the way to making them happy.''
Although I had denied it, Florence was convinced that I was not drawn to Princeton because he was a corporate lawyer. She knew that I had once been engaged to an artist and liked poetry. So she decided that I imagined I could be captivated only by a poetic type. But ''tortured poeticness may ultimately be a shallow contributor to love,'' she wrote. Then, with a neat rhetorical trick, she declared: ''This is not to say that there aren't tortured poems that are worthy of love. It is to say that those poems can be part of your marriage by owning the book and taking it off the shelf when the children are sleeping. . . .
''I am wondering,'' she concluded, ''if you should consider changing your model. . . . ''
Upstairs at Barneys one wintry afternoon, Samantha was doing a shopping makeover with a woman, for which she would charge $350. ''I won't accept her as a client until she dresses more suitably,'' Samantha tells me. ''She looks too 'downtown.'''
Downtown is examining a skimpy miniskirt when we arrive, though nothing in the store is as short as what she is wearing. A cashmere sweater with a black-and-white image of a nun knit into the chest is stretched across her breasts, so that the nun appears to be dissolving in her voluptuousness. Downtown says she likes to dress like ''a rock chick, like Pamela Anderson.'' Each rack is a struggle. Downtown pulls out a short powder-pink-rabbit-fur jacket, and Samantha holds up a white wool pantsuit, which Downtown observes looks like something from a ''Virginia Slims ad.''
''You're still going to look sexy,'' Samantha assures her. ''But guys don't like it when you can see it all upfront.''
''I get a lot of compliments -- I can't walk by a doorman without being whistled at,'' Downtown says defensively.
Samantha gives her a you're-not-going-to-be-dating-doormen look.
Samantha describes Downtown as ''a bit of a lost soul.'' She worked in the music industry in Los Angeles for many years but recently moved back to an Upper East Side apartment, where she is trying to write a screenplay and buying vintage clothing and jewelry to resell on eBay. In her mid-30's, she is still dating the kind of men she gravitated toward a decade ago -- aspiring actors, artists, writers, hipsters, guys who like to live on the edge. Internet dating was ''worse than her worst nightmare'' -- encouraging her tendency toward disastrous affairs.
She thinks now of the boys she knew at her prep school -- nice, bright, hard-working ''vanilla boys'' whom her parents would approve of, and she therefore disdained. ''Even a year ago,'' she would have rejected them, she says, but she regrets that attitude now. For the first time, she has a sense of needing intervention. She needs someone to take her under her wing and bring her into a social circle she has never considered desirable -- introduce her to the vanilla boys who have grown into marriageable lawyers and doctors and financiers, with whom she could have the life she was brought up for. She needs someone to circumvent her own desires and help her make better choices. Downtown's mother suggested Samantha, with whom she had a social connection. Downtown was resistant but agreed to a makeover so she would at least have clothes to wear to cocktail parties with her parents.
Which is why she's still single. Dated a loser, come on, he was a loser, who I bet cheated on her, and wouldn't commit to the things into her life.
I once had a long conversation with someone, about appropriate boyfriend behavior. She described an incident where her boyfriend ripped a contract he was signing from her and wouldn't let her read it. I was astonished, since this person had some training in the matter.
I explained that any guy who would do that is an asshole. Boyfriends who constantly humiliate you are not good boyfriends. Women often don't see what guys see, when it comes to their relationships. Men who need to build their self-esteem on the backs of their women aren't much good as men. The same kind of assholes who would call them fat in an argument.
You know, hipsters and bad boys, who I detest, are great when you're in your 20's. But as you grow up and want stablilty, these guys are fucking useless. They're users. Why do I detest them? Because they make it hard for people who aren't assholes to get laid. You know, you can be exciting AND responsible. Hell, in my 20's, I was drinking hard and responsible. What's dull about that? Of course I was useless with women, but that's another story.
Men are eager to listen to advice about relationships, because they know they don't get them right. Women, otoh, don't want to hear it. I understand Jim's frustration. You tell women things, and they get pissed. Like a 27 year old guy dating a 20 year old has an angle. Do not want to hear it.
Oh, and here's a hint: you are not 25 forever. It's cute to dress a certain way and act a certain way in your 20's. Downtown is figuring out that men who have normal lives like women who dress normally, not like hipster chicks or rockers. Wny? Because no one wants to take home a slut to meet their mother.
I think guys figure out around 30 that it's time to cut the shit and start dating women seriously, as in marriable women. Now, that doesn't mean you'll marry them, but the bartender/waitress set tend to fade as you start to date more serious people. People with real job and aspirations. I've dated one woman without a graduate degree since I turned 30. But a lot of women think what works at 25 can work at 35, and it doesn't. First of all, if you want a 25 year old, you can date a 25 year old. Second, you get tired of hearing about the loser boyfriends and bad dates. They don't change, because you keep making the same mistakes. I once yelled at my best friend to change who he dates if he ever wants a serious girlfriend. It kinda worked, but I could never say that to a woman, because it would hit a brick wall.
I think the reason men get married is not romance or love, but trust. You get tired of wondering about what someone really thinks. I believe people marry, at least successfully, people they trust. You just want someone who doesn't have a totally seperate agenda or is just looking out for themselves. That you're not going to get judged for everything you do, well until you ARE married, but that's the problem in living with people.
posted by Steve @ 9:23:00 AM