Thursday, January 25, 2007

At the risk of sounding like a bitter ol' hag...

I have a friend, raconteur extraordinaire, who has made a name for herself with scalpel-point observations -- cutting unlikely bits out of the fabric of the universe, then placing them before you and explaining why they are Relevant. One never leaves her presence without a handful of pithy morals, a recent humiliating episode from her life that makes you feel much better about your own, a naughty joke or two, and at least one Key Life Lesson. And somehow she conjures all this from that same world we all inhabit. Every few weeks she attends church in my congregation and the most useful of our conversations are those in which she reframes the people and situations I encounter every day, capturing innuendos and subtexts that had whizzed right by me.

We are both on the elderly end of the LDS single female population, so the conversation always features some banging of our heads on the cement wall called The Male Mind. Tonight we were talking yet again about What Men Want, and she offered as an illustration something that I could have seen, but had missed. Last week she visited my ward and noticed a guy in Sunday School who was sandwiched between two girls. On one side was a skinny blonde hottie, and he had his arm around her possessively. On the other side was a plump, intelligent brunette. The whole hour of the lesson he had his arm around the blonde and never said a word to her, while talking continually to the brunette.

"That is what men want."

And to be academically honest, she backed up her anecdote with data: a survey of males revealed that the vast majority of them, if forced to choose, would rather be married to a brainless, gorgeous sex toy and fill their intellectual/conversational needs with an platonic woman friend than marry the woman they most enjoy interacting with and forgo the Angelina lips.

Oh no. I feel my inner b**** switchin' on, and nothing says "lifetime of loneliness" like a spiderwoman who wears her venom on her sleeve. Quick! Somebody find me a Harvard researcher who can debunk this stupid poll!

I guess I should be grateful to know that a good number of men at least desire some interaction with a woman of brains. But I don't want to be someone's mental mistress! I want to be someone's witty wife and seduce him with Andrew Marvell and raise him a brood of sassy back-talkin' babies!

Good thing Saturday's almost here -- I can tell it's time for some good old fashioned Jane Eyre therapy (Eyre-apy?) Time for a nice long dose of Gothic sap. Time to regress back to early puberty, when the universe could be counted on to make me the perfect cosmic match -- smart and fiery and smitten with my magnificent brainy plainness.

Why didn't anyone tell me that Edward Fairfax Rochester was so very FICTIONAL??? (Interpretation: someone please tell me that he's not so very fictional!)


Belladonna said...

Right now I'm on the 3rd CD of the book Jane Eyre. I first saw the movie as Beehive and have since seen 2 more recent versions but never got around to the book till just now. The language is AMAZING. And it is interesting to notice the differences in the book from the the book version Jane's school expereince was not nearly so dreary and abusive as the movies portray.

I'm right at the part where Jane arrives at the house where she is to be governess to young Adelle.

Knowing what is coming somehow doesn't spoil it - I'm totally intrigued listening to it all unfold again.

Rachel said...

I don't think that the idea of pretty OR smart really exhists. We are all pretty AND smart in various degrees. When I FEEL pretty, ugly, smart, dumb, witty, or boring, I act accordingly.

Our self-perception really has an influence on other's perception of us. It isn't bad to try to be pretty or smart. But anything that we become obsessed over becomes a problem.

I really have a problem with the excuse that ALL boys want this or like that. Just as all girls are not alike, all boys are not alike. If one particular boy doesn't want what I am offering, that indicates that he won't be able to satisfy me anyway. Next!

Marie said...

Belladonna: I was probably the world's biggest Jane Eyre junkie in junior high school. Nothing to get you through those awkward years like some delicious romantic fantasy. Few of my books look very loved because I'm a slow reader and so rarely reread anything, but my copy of Jane Eyre is on the shabby side. I'm still ridiculously opinionated about J.E. and wrote a looong, badly worded and miffy comment on the IMDb the other day about the inane new BBC miniseries. It went over the 1000 word limit and I had to pare it down. [sheepish grin] Too bad there's no such limitation on blog comments!

Rachel: as for my posting, it was only half serious, heavy on the hyperbole. As you once said (wisely), this medium is dangerous because the person reading can't take cues from your facial expressions. I have this problem all the time. I should either tag my facetious comments or lay off altogether.

As for the substance of what I wrote, you're right -- the survey didn't say that all men held that one opinion, but I was dismayed (though not entirely surprised) that most of them *did.* And you're also right that there is a continuum of attractions. From God's viewpoint, we are all beautiful and have an infinite capacity to increase in intelligence. But unfortunately I'm not looking to date God -- I'm working with American males, and by the standard of American males, I fit nowhere on the physically attractive end of that continuum. That is not self-pity; it is not self-loathing; it is not "pleeeze tell me I'm pretty!" (In fact, I quite like how I look most days, especially with my glasses on :) Rather, it's hard fact. If I weren't so embarrassed by it, I'd give you the data in the interest of full disclosure, but I assure you it is in the 99th percentile of jaw-dropping bleakness. It doesn't stop me from wearing lipstick or befriending men or believing that the promises that have been made to me will eventually be realized. And as you say, confidence often goes a long way, so here's hoping. But as every legless hunchback will tell you, even confidence can only get you so far <---(facetious comment). I'm still holding out hope and trying to play the part, but some days the woeful lack of results calls for some venting.

You are both pretty and smart by almost anyone's scale, male or female; sought after, and deservedly so. You need not worry about my goofball tirades on the topic of dating (or lack thereof). Like KaRyn says, blogging is therapy. Release the frustration into the universe and watch it disappear...

Belladonna said...

I'm curious. What is your opinion of online dating services such as e-harmony? My brother just got married a couple months ago to a woman he met that way. He RAVES about their ability to match people. I'd honestly like to hear your opinion of such enterprises.

Marie said...

I was really jazzed about eHarmony. Put in the time it took to answer the bazillion soul-searching questions and waited with bated breath for Mother Internet to arrange me the perfect marriage :) I got no matches for weeks, then one who sounded interesting who wouldn't respond to me, then one from Europe who disappeared before I could send him a message. There might have been another one, but I can't remember -- it was a few years ago. So two or three total in the time my subscription lasted. It was not $50 well spent, let's just say -- or maybe it wasn't eHarmony's fault -- maybe I'm truly the sock with no shoe! It soured me toward all internet matchup sites (though if it had been free I wouldn't have cared so much).

I have a lot of friends who have met people through LDS Linkup, but nothing that's resulted in a really serious relationship -- it seems to be turning into Elder Oaks's nightmare -- cyber hanging out. I've never tried it myself. Just recently our bishop and Relief Society president gave us grave warnings about a stalker that was spending hours compiling personal information about girls in our ward who were all linked on LDS Linkup, and made the point that we shouldn't put nearly so much effort into finding people online. I'm not surprised the guy was able to find so much stuff -- when I started blogging I discovered that there's a cyber-catacomb running in ribbons under my ward -- a whole other world of conversations going on under the surface of our face-to-face interactions. Weird.

I'm not opposed to cyber relationships in general -- there are many ways to meet people and if you're careful, it's a great way to interact with people with similar interests who you wouldn't run into any other way. I'm only opposed to the idea that true intimacy or understanding of another person can be achieved any way but in person. Also, I'm a much more interesting person in print than in person, so the temptation for me would be delusions of romantic grandeur if I found someone who fell for my writing persona and then found me dull and petty in person.

I'm glad it worked out for your brother, though! Many happy returns to him and his bride!

Rachel said...

Amen to venting. I guess that my big vent lately is girls giving up on boys. I just don't want to give in to the idea that they will all dissapoint me. Everyone just gives me that lighten up look... yeah well. Amen to being able to vent on other people's blogs.

I have an old friend from California who has strong Jewish features and a strong Jewish nose. One time she asked her Dad if she was a pretty girl. He told her that some people would think that she was pretty and some people would not. And I think the honesty kind of helped her not to obsess over the question anymore. She is comfortable in her skin and is a vibrant, talented, and loving person.

Speaking of online dating, she met another Jewish convert to the LDS church online. He thought she was beautiful and married her. But usually I think online dating is an excuse not to put effort into dating people in your circle of friends.

Marie said...

Thanks for that -- I love a good hopeful story. (Dear Lord, let it be before my ovaries turn to dust!)

wynne said...

I've been thinking about this post for awhile. Stuck in my head. Guess because Marie mentioned things that used to run around in circles in my head until it wore right down to the bone. Painfully frustrating. Um--I'll try to keep it short.

Rochester does exist.

And about that survey.... It’s silly. In the first place, it's a hypothetical situation. After all, brainless, gorgeous sex toys don't exist except in James Bond movies.
In the second place, any guy who is looking to objectify his wife won't have a marriage for long. And in the last place, your Rochester definitely isn't the majority-type of guy. Who wants one of those, anyway? Ick. Think about what it means to be a majority-minded male in the world today. No thanks.

Rochester is looking for someone he is attracted to on all levels. As is any self-respecting woman. And as far as "finding" him--it's completely out of your control. We don't find our Rochesters--we blunder into them. Or trip, bump, or smack. A cosmic accident, or destiny--whichever you prefer. In my opinion, every time two people get together, it's a miracle.