Why Women Love Bad Boys

In the fun, and funny, two women, one-act play I was just in (with Amazing Woman Midge Gordon) titled 3:30 in the Afternoon Appointment, we have an exchange about why my character’s love life is so desolate – after her character decides she isn’t going to kill my character.

True...at any age.

True…at any age.

“I think it’s been in the timing,” my character says. “And I’ve had some rotten luck. And I like the wrong kind of men.”

“Me too,” Midge’s character replies. “But I just can’t bring myself to like the right kind of man. They’re too good, too neat, too unthreatening.”

For many women, that assessment pretty much sums it up.

It’s why so many women are poster children for “Smart Women, Stupid Choices.”

Bad Boys are often just more interesting.

Kevin Costner portrays the ideal type of a Bad Boy and Rene Russo shows how/why smart women fall for them in the movie Tin Cup. This video clip says it all.

She tried not to fall for him. But...

She tried not to fall for him. But…

Bad Boys are fun. They are interesting. They make you laugh. Sometimes they make you feel like cheering for them. They make you feel alive.

But there’s a spectrum of “badness,” maybe even a three dimensional quad that includes 1) the seriously stay-away-from-them Bad Boys type (jail, any propensity to violence, the protagonist in 50 Shades of Grey) 2) the Kevin Costner Ideal type, 3) the Just-More-Interesting-Than-The-Average-Guy type, and 4) the Broken Toys (you want to “fix” them but can’t — they are often charming and are abundantly available through online dating).

Maybe my “worst” Bad Boy an innocent looking, more-fun-than-a-barrel-of-monkeys, semi-hoodlum. We dated briefly one summer in while I was in college. He wasn’t going to college. He was working construction and, um, I’m pretty sure stealing things, or at least was a “facilitator” between those who stole things like cars, and “new owners.” He drove lots of Corvettes.

Needless to say my parents detested him, and it didn’t last long. Continue reading

Manners, 2014 Style

Etiquette, protocol, manners, civility.

Please...bring back "how to dress" etiquette!

Please…bring back “how to dress” etiquette!

In 2014 I think we can safely say that etiquette, ala white gloves at social events, is largely dead in the Western World. Not since touring the Vatican and the Arab portion of Jerusalem have I had to think about what I was wearing.

My mother used to dress according to etiquette rules like “don’t wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.”

Nowadays I’m grateful if, on those rare occasions I have to force myself to go to Walmart or other places drawing “the masses”, people are minimally dressed at all.

Different professions and businesses have their own etiquette rules, but even they have been under serious, and sometimes confusing, revision. Is it okay to call the boss by his or her first name? Are social functions at the bosses’ house obligatory?

And unless you’re on a guest list for a White House function or meeting the Queen next week, protocol isn’t likely a big part of your life either.

Remember, Julia Roberts had to learn "table setting" protocol in Pretty Woman.

Remember, Julia Roberts had to learn “table setting” protocol in Pretty Woman.

But what about Thank You notes? Have those gone the way of the dinosaur as etiquette or are they still on the “expected” manners list? And is an email Thank You an acceptable replacement for a handwritten note.

I don’t know. Continue reading

The Raven, The Spot, Same Thing….Never-frickin’-more

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 2.10.16 PM
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.’

Poor Ed Poe was so taunted by the tap, tap, tapping of a damned bird that he penned this poem in 1845. Must have been the Gothic version of a smoke alarm beeper. Wait, you say the poem actually has more meaning than that?

He got a bit, um, obsessed….

Ya gotta feel bad for the guy though. We all know lame people who get stressed out about crooked pictures, magazines that aren’t perfectly straight, furniture that can’t be moved…you know the type.

This is what it's like eating dinner with my sister Cathy.

This is what it’s like eating dinner with my sister Cathy.

You can imagine, for example, somebody getting really fixated on….a spot. Continue reading

Amazing Women: Kathrin Seitz

Kat the Teacher_1_ 004You never know when and where you are going to meet an amazing person (which is why “yes” should be the default answer to invitations and opportunities), or in this case, an Amazing Woman. Kathrin Seitz and I met hiding out in the kitchen at a Bunko party (dice, women, talking). We had both been invited as guests and didn’t find the game particular interesting, nor were we up on the gossip that was the real heart of the party, so we retreated to the kitchen. There Kathrin and I bonded over me, new to the Rhode Island area, needing to find a new hairdresser. She actually sent me to a hairdresser in Los Angeles…but that’s another story.

That’s the intriguing, always interesting and really fun part about knowing Kathrin though. If you were to mention to her that you were going to be in Tibet, or Paris, or Minneapolis next week and wanted to get a really good massage, meet with a spiritual guru, or have a really good Ethiopian meal, Kathrin could fix you up. I’m confident Kathrin’s mental Rolodex was the inspiration for the Cray supercomputer, able to retrieve information in a nano-second.

Though she was raised on Long Island, Kathrin’s parents were actual “Newporters,” a designation that takes generations to acquire. That’s how she ended up there in 2002 when we met, taking care of her aging father. The road back to Newport was via New York, Santa Fe and Los Angeles, making her mark at every stop.

Kathrin started out as an Assistant Editor in New York in the 1960’s at places like Grove Press and Random House. She was an early career woman, and unabashedly non-domestic. I love the story one of her early NYC roommates tells, about a deal made that she would make mini-skirts for both of them for some big event, if Kathrin would clean their apartment. Kathrin agreed… but needed help with figuring out how to use the vacuum.

That’s okay – her talents were quickly recognized as lying elsewhere. She was an Executive Producer at ABC Entertainment in NYC, and then went on to Los Angeles as Vice President for Theatrical Films at CBS and at Nickelodeon. Along the way, single-mom Kathrin raised her talented son Alex, now a political analyst for National Journal

Today, Kathrin lives in Maine with her husband Rich Anderson. She is a writing coach by profession, teaching classes to rave reviews. She is also completing an MFA in Fiction at Spalding University in Louisville, completing her novel The Baby Comes With a Loaf of Bread along the way.

Kathrin is a life coach to all who know her. Her energy and talent – and her ideas! – create a whirlwind of energy around her that you can only hope will suck you in.

I’m lucky. Every now and then I get an email from Kathrin that says “let’s talk.” When that happens I know she’s been on her spinning bike thinking – and keeping in shape, one of the reasons she looks fabulous — and that somehow I am going to be fortunate enough to reap the benefits of that.

I’m available Kathrin, if you want to call!

Owning Your Own Home: The American Dream (or Pure Profligacy?)

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 7.48.52 PMWhen the housing market crashed in 2008 like others, I felt for those who had been duped into buying homes beyond their financial means. When I lived in Hawaii a few years before that, I was approved for a loan of almost a million dollars over the phone. I remember asking why they (the bank) would give me, a government employee who clearly couldn’t afford the payments, that kind of money? The bank “was confident” I would be fine.

But here’s the thing, I didn’t take the money because I can do basic math and knew I wouldn’t “be fine.” So, though politically incorrect to think so I also suspected some people who took the money did so, perhaps with a sense of entitlement and profligacy.

If ever I needed to have that suspicion confirmed, all I had to do was watch a few episodes of the show House Hunters on television.Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 7.50.15 PM

I’ve felt um, pressured, to watch that show because everybody in my family watches it and I’ve felt a bit “left out” of conversations on holidays. So I watched a few episodes.

OK, I know it’s a reality show. But either the show’s producers interview potential buyers saying, “Hi, we want you to come onto our show and act like real jerks and make yourself look incredibly demanding and greedy,” or these people really do embody those traits! I’m thinkin’ at least some of the time it’s the latter.

There are lots of real estate shows on television because people like to look into other people’s houses. It’s a socially acceptable form of voyeurism.

“I like to get ideas for decorating…” Sure.

House Hunters International is interesting to see what housing looks like in other countries. Same with Living Alaska (I want to rough it, but not too much) and Buying Hawaii (every house in Hawaii is on the beach, right?).

And on shows like Million Dollar Listing: New York (caught that one today getting my nails done) you expect spoiled, demanding clients.

But on House Hunters!?@

Many if not most of their “buyers” are first time homeowners.

A typical opening.

“Hi, I’m Jim Smith. I’m 24 and sell medical supplies. “

“Hi, I’m Sally Smith. I’m 23 and I work in telemarketing.”

Announcer: “Jim and Sally were married a year ago and have been sharing a two bedroom apartment with friends Bill and Sue in Buford, South Carolina until Jim got transferred to Chicago. Now they are anxious to find a place of their own, and have a $175K budget.”

Sally: “I want to live in the downtown area, preferably a high rise with a great view. We need at least 3 bedrooms, a large dining room and modern kitchen with granite counters, stainless steel appliances, and a gas stove. A gas stove is a must.” (Jim snickers, apparently Sally doesn’t cook. I’m shocked.)

I think it's obvious why I need double sinks.  It's a deal breaker for me...

I think it’s obvious why I need double sinks. It’s a deal breaker for me…

Jim: “I’ve always liked land – maybe an acre or so. Double sinks and a jacuzzi in the en suite master bath are a must, high ceilings throughout, and of course hard wood floors. It would be great to have a 3 car garage too.”

Seriously? Who are these people?

They’re lucky they aren’t living in the parents’ basement (which some recently have been) and now they have a “must have” list like they’re buying a million dollar villa?!

And then they walk through the remotely-close-to-the-wish-list places found by their browbeaten realtor who can barely keep from rolling his or her eyes in front of these diva buyers. “Someone is going to have to compromise” is realtor-speak for “Get real you unrealistic diva clowns!”

Sally, turning up her perky nose. “It’s got an electric stove and I don’t like the kitchen cabinets. They’re too dark and the hardware is outdated. And carpet. I can’t live with carpet. Those are deal breakers for me.”

Really? Not as nice as your place in Buford eh? Lots of deal breakers there too?

Jim, walking around the two car garage in the house the realtor schlepped took them to. “Only a two car garage….I think for what we’re paying we should get what we want. And the popcorn ceilings inside were really outdated. I’d have to change those before we even moved in.”

Popcorn ceilings are your biggest problem in your 24 years on the planet? Lucky effing you!

Hello…..with that budget in Chicago, they’re lucky the places they are looking at aren’t on wheels!

What makes people feel such a sense of entitlement? Is this a second order effect of helicopter parents? One too many undeserved trophies along the way?

The crown molding is acceptable, but the paint color is too dark....(so paint it you lazy $!^@OU!U)

The crown molding is acceptable, but the paint color is too dark….(so paint it you lazy $!^@OU!U)

I have decided better to be left out of holiday family conversations than to shout obscenities at my television during House Hunters. Those idiots home buyers are just way too “entitled” for me.

Never fails too (which is where the “reality” television loses it reality) that the super picky diva buyers manage to decide on one of the three locations shown to them – none of which they originally liked – buy it and then find that it is, in fact, their dream home.

Having bought and sold 5 homes – none of them EVER having everything I wanted, and my demands were small – I ask again, who are these people!?

I hereby forego all future options to participate in family conversations about episodes of House Hunters. My blood pressure can’t take it.

Women’s Week

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 4.03.49 PMGloria Steinem turned 80 last week and if this what the new 80 looks like, I’m on board.

Christine Lagarde, the first woman to lead the World Bank, gave a fascinating interview on NPR this week, including talking about her own experiences in the largely male dominated field of economics.Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 4.04.17 PM

I wrote a post on Midge Gordon that conclusively proves that age is only a state of mind.

And, the encore of the Strong Women Panel: Oh Yes We Can — which I have the honor and pleasure of chairing — is this Wednesday, April 2 in Newport.

So — especially for new readers or just in case you missed one — given all these empowered-women related events, I’m taking the opportunity to re-run prior Amazing Women posts this week on the It’s Not Me, Right? Facebook page

They will include: Marilyn Moss Rockefeller, Daryle Lademan (who was just promoted to VP at BAE systems, congratulations Daryle), Dina Velocci, Allyson Reneau, Cathy Cook Shepherd, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell and at the end of the week, a new post on Kathrin Seitz Anderson.

All are well worth a read….Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 7.57.06 AM

Amazing Women: Midge Gordon

midgeLook up “Bohemian free spirit” in the dictionary and Midge’s picture is what you should see.

Midge is my acting partner. Our GAMM acting class “finale” performance is next week. We are in a one-act, 10 minute play called “3:30 in the Afternoon Appointment.” I play a lawyer meeting a potential new client, played by Midge, in a restaurant. Midge is a very angry woman who thinks I’m having an affair with her husband and so, she announces soon after we meet, she’s going to shoot me, right there in the restaurant. What ensues is her rant about how she can’t stand the idea of me with her husband but can’t stand pain herself and so she has no choice but to shoot me. She also rants about the rolls served in the restaurant, evidencing the character’s “scattered” personality. Pleading, to save herself, my character confesses she hasn’t had sex since 2006 — with a computer technician she met at the Ground Round after getting drum at a holiday party, and so couldn’t be guilty of the charges Midge’s character makes. We end up leaving the restaurant as friends, on our way to shoot her husband.

We’ve been having a great time in class — and rehearsing outside of class. It has been these delightful out-of-class rehearsals with Midge that I’ve gotten to know her — to my good fortune.

Midge is a pioneer.

Marrying young to a wealthy man, she had a rich material life.

But at 35 in 1978, she got took her three children and got a divorce, seeking a rich artistic and “connected” life instead. Along the way, she worked as an instructor at Waterville Valley Ski Academy in New Hampshire, returned to school, spent ten years as a psychotherapist, and through it all, worked on women’s issues, including some of the first “empowerment” outreach programs in New England. She worked on women’s programs before women’s programs were in vogue, including establishing an early Women’s Center in Plymouth NH.

As Midge puts it, everybody is a composite, and the trick is to keep all the composite parts in balance. Though a free spirit internally, she said she was also an organized, responsible, put-dinner-on-the-table, take-charge mother to her children when need be.

The first time I was at her home to rehearse, her grandson was visiting, and we all had a chance to visit over a fabulous dinner Midge had prepared. Grandchildren come and go at Midge’s house — all appreciating, I would guess, that she is not a typical Granny.

Today, Midge is a theater devotee, attending performances from New York to New Haven to Providence to Boston a couple times a week. Our acting class was her first foray onto the stage, rather than watching from orchestra seats. She also teaches classes on theater and opera (her class on Verdi starts soon) to continuing education classes. My guess is she’ll be making her directorial debut somewhere soon.

She also volunteers at a number of community organizations, to “give back.”

Her Bohemian wanderlust has tamed somewhat — her plans to live in a Yak in Tibet no longer have the appeal they once did. But her joie de vivre is still strong.

Like many other women I am fortunate to know, Midge is a force of nature and inspiration for friends and family.

Thanks Midge!