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

The Stages of a Breakup

The Breakup Chronicles: Part 1

Spinster friends, I was in relationship bliss over the past several months.  We’ll call him Francois the Dapper because he really is dapper and he’s kind and interesting and smart and funny and pretty damn attractive.  So you can imagine my…

1.  Shock

…when he texted me the other night and asked to come over.  I knew something was up, as he never asked to come over before (we’re, after all, of the generation where nobody can seem to make a decision: “What are you up to?”  “Nothing much.  You?”  “Nothing much.”  “Wanna do something?”  “Yah, what were you thinking?”  “Not really sure.  You?”  “I don’t care.”).  He walked through the door, stopped me when I tried to kiss him, and my heart plummeted.  A chill of dread spread through me, I felt hot, and all I could do was look at the floor, avoiding eye contact as I stated to myself over and over, “I will not cry, I will not cry!”  I’ll spare you the upsetting details but suffice it to say it involved a past relationship, lingering baggage, and confusion over his feelings.  My heart was wrenched apart, but I quite calmly offered my support and understanding.  I also offered him a piece of cake.  Then that night that I poured my feelings onto 4 single-spaced pages of nearly 2,000 words.  Y’all, I could not stop the words or the feelings.  I knew I was in…

2.  Mourning

There weren’t enough tea bags in the world to shrink the bags under my eyes.  You know the feeling; it’s where the tears roll down your cheeks in fat drops and you’re just not sure they’re going to stop this time.  It – I – was just so sad.  I re-lived every good time, every future plan.  I tried outlining the bad times I could think of, hoping they’d make me feel better, but they were only a reminder of how well I felt we worked through our problems.  I texted Francois, and asked to meet him again.  He agreed.  It gave me…

3.  Hope

Not only did we chat, but we got pastries.  I poured out my feelings.  I told him all my fears about the situation and my hopes.  He listened, he told me he had a lot to think about, and then he asked me if I wanted to hang out.  Can you blame me for saying yes?  And it was pretty nearly great, save for that two hours of a movie we spent without holding hands for the first time since I’d known him.  We parted ways in the evening and I sobbed my feelings to Grace and to my mother, but I maintained the day meant something.  He was thinking about it.  The next day I contemplated all the possibilities.  Things were looking up so I took a walk around the lake which only served to send me to a whole new level of…

4. Patheticism

Shut up.  That’s a word.  And that walk?  It was to take advantage of the sunshine and the beautiful weather!  To clear my mind and increase my endorphins!  To watch the sunset!  Or so I fooled myself to think.  I looked in every parking lot for his car, hoping that the distant runner was him coming toward me.  By the end of the walk, I was dragging my sobbing, puddly mess into the car, dialing Grace and asking her to tell me that I wasn’t the most pathetic person that ever lived.  She’s a good friend, she told me I was normal.  And then later that night, Francois called me.  We talked for 30 minutes and my hope was renewed.  And it was then that I began seeking …

5. Validation

…from nearly anyone who would listen.  Grace and my mother?  Check, check.  My coworkers?  Check.  The mailman? Check.  It was really important to talk it out.  Really damn important to tell my side of things and have others tell me that my feelings were reasonable.  I need them to confirm my interpretation of how he should feel and how it made sense.

6.  Obsession

There was also a really low moment in there.  Like, really, freakin’, low.  As in, I figured out the mysterious her.  And when I say “figured out” I mean I went through every length of internet stalking I could think of.  I’m so good at it, people should pay me.  We went to the same college.  We share a couple of friends.  She’s funny.  She works in advertising and marketing.  She’s a runner.  She has a gummy smile.  The list…it goes on.  You can bet I revisited the same pages over and over and over again, obsessing about why she should have left such an impression on this guy that I cared about, why their old relationship was ruining mine.

6. Anger at Him

This came on just a fast as it ended.  I think the outrage of my friends seeped into my own mind and I was so angry that he would contemplate giving up on us and giving in to something that wasn’t ever going to be.  There isn’t doubt that I won’t feel anger again, but it was short lived because I soon directed all my…

7. Anger at Her

Sure, this might not be the most logical thing, but I go back to what Francois told me about the relationship and it makes me steaming mad.  They were that on-again-off-again couple, and based on what very little I know (read: I’m a writer and I’ve crafted an entire relationship story from a few limited comments), I’ve concluded she was a terrible, no-good person who didn’t deserve Francois.  That’s a little harsh.  But you know, people you care about deserve better.  Also: sometimes I’m petty and I act like a 12-year-old.

8. Confusion

Rehashing every look, action, and word of this breakup sent me into confusion in the end.  Francois never called it a breakup, he just said he had to think about things.  I gave him so many easy outs in our conversations, and he never took them.  I even asked that whatever the answer was, that I just got a clearly defined one.  None of this casual conversation that fades into nothing because he’s trying to spare my feelings.  Please not that.  He agreed.

So here we are.  The stages aren’t complete. I don’t doubt that most people feel they can see this for what it is, but I’m still confused and waiting.  There’s also the responsibility that one needs to place on Francois, lest you think I’m ignoring that. But I gave myself permission to stop feeling embarrassed about my feelings – my hope – and I’m just riding the emotions for now, rather than forcing myself out of them.  It was a debate to share this with you, Spinster friends.  There’s always that fear of looking ridiculous, but I can’t be the only one who has experienced all of the above, and sometimes it’s good to put it out there because someone else might read it and have that sigh of relief that their own similar situation is… normal.

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

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

An Ode to Men in Sweaters

Friends, this morning I’m feeling very passionate about a pressing world issue: Men in sweaters. In the Northern Hemisphere, winter is firmly upon us. Cardigans, gloves, and scarves have been unearthed from their attic boxes.

I am thrilled.

Winter is my favorite fashion season. I admit, this is helped by the relatively mild Texas winters. We don’t see a lot of blizzards around here. (I know, you just gasped in surprise, didn’t you?) What we do see is the temporary rebirth of classic men’s fashion. Suddenly, guys are busting out sweaters to wear over their polos and scarves to wrap around their necks. Men who normally wear t-shirts are donning rarely seen pea coats, for heaven’s sake! This is a heterosexual fashion-loving woman’s dream come true.

Example: A few weeks ago, Mae and I were eating at our favorite spot (hummus to-die-for, freshly baked scones, and an Anthropologie next door – need I say more?), when our favorite manager walked in. Wearing a white Oxford shirt, with a navy sweater over it, he was clearly in chilly weather mode. Now, this is a cute guy already, but in a sweater? He was a Ralph Lauren advert come to life. I blushed. I stammered. If there had been a fainting couch, I would have swooned. It was embarrassing and all (Well mostly – he is rather dashing all the time, it should be said. The boy has a beard!) caused by an extra layer of clothing. How extraordinary.

It does make me wonder, however. To quote one of my personal icons, Cher Horowitz, “I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don’t get how guys dress today.”  It’s not necessarily baggy jeans and greasy hair like in Cher’s day (thank God), but most twenty-something guys I know don’t own an iron, much less properly fitting pants. When did men stop taking pride in their style? It seems a recent phenomenon. If Mad Men is to be believed, right up to the late 60s, a well-tailored suit was considered essential to any man’s wardrobe. People even shined their shoes!

Now, a date is considered dressed up, if he shows up to my door in a polo shirt and clean jeans. I actually know guys who don’t own sweaters, because they consider them “too feminine.” Color me befuddled. How can an extra, classic layer of clothing be gendered? Maybe it’s just living in Austin. Not only are we the Live Music Capital of the World, but also the Wearing Paleontology T-shirts To Fancy Restaurants Is A-Okay By Us Headquarters of America. Our city is filled with smart, successful people who will probably wear Toms to that wedding this weekend. It drives me stark, raving mad. I long for a little shine, a little polish.

You can call me shallow, but I choose to think of it as nostalgic. Blame it on all those classic movies I watched as a child. My parents never subscribed to the Disney Channel, so I missed Justin & Brit on MMC, but I was fed a steady visual diet of Cary Grant and Gene Kelly instead. Imagine my surprise when I realized men don’t walk around in three-piece suits any longer, but may show up to lunch in white undershirts. I’ve never quite recovered from the shock. Too many of my past dating disasters have been caused by a certain blindness that occurs when I’m faced with a truly well-dressed, twenty-something man. Sure he does cocaine every once in a while, but did you see him in that sweater? It was cashmere!

To sum up: I love men in sweaters. I almost wish this would be another Year Without A Summer (without the crop failures and other awful effects, naturally), if only to make it last a little longer. Shoes may not be shined, but a scarf or coat is plenty dapper enough to set my heart aflutter. For one glorious season a year, I can walk around pretending to live in a glamorous Hitchcock film. Only, you know, with less carnivorous birds.

- Grace