If You Buy it, He Will Come:Or My Mother’s Alternative to eharmony

“Forget about a puppy!” Ivy teased when I told her what I hoped to get  for Valentine’s Day. “How about a hubby! I bet your father wouldn’t say no to a hubby!”

What do you want for Valentine's Day? A puppy or a hubby? I'm leaning towards the puppy...

Ivy was probably right — my father sees no reason to bring another dog into the family, but I don’t think he’d object to the addition of an able-bodied human male to watch football with. Well, bad news daddy, it looks like you’re going to be paper-training a terrier long before you’ll be welcoming a son-in-law.

Then again…maybe not.

Thanks to a weekend in Dallas, my mother has written a new marriage mantra which she is convinced will produce my prodigal rich husband in no time:

If you buy it, he will come.

Buy what, exactly? The wedding dress, of course. Surely, there’s a superstition about that, Mom.

The trip to Dallas was for business rather than pleasure, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s never let a little business get in the way of a good shoe sale. Neiman Marcus was broadcasting a designer footwear clearance that weekend, and Dallas just so happens to be the Neiman Marcus mothership. It was a good thing I brought my big suitcase.

The Kevan Hall wedding dress conjured in a dream found in Dallas, Texas

Inside the famed department store, the sea of shoppers parted allowing me a clear line to survey the couture ahead. There, radiant under a single spotlight, stood the wedding dress I had seen only in a dream. Equal parts Victorian and modern, it was perfectly me in beige-pink lace.

“So are you planning a wedding?” the sales associate asked as I gently fingered the beading on my way to a price tag.

The real answer was “no,” but because I didn’t want the woman to think I was some crazy, desperate single girl who spent her weekends trying on wedding dresses for no one, I lied.

No matter where I went in the store, I couldn’t shake the dress from my mind. Not even Diane Von Furstenburg could hold my gaze. I had eyes for nothing else.

“I think you should just buy the dress,” my mother whispered when 20 minutes later she found me back in the bridal salon, dazed and drooling.

“But, I’m single.”

“Doesn’t matter. If you buy it, he will come.”

“My life isn’t a Kevin Costner movie.”

“Well, it’s not like anything else has been working for you. Let’s see if they have it in your size.” Sometimes, my mother is a bad influence.

So at the end of the trip, there were no size 8 1/2 Manolos or Louboutins, Jimmy Choos or Diors packed into my over-sized Delsey roller bag. Instead, just a receipt for a fairytale-sized confection of silk and satin and the promise of my mother’s voice saying “if you buy it, he will come.”

Love Letters Lost

His name was Simone Volpini and we met on a blistering August night in Paris.

The penultimate city of romance - Paris - an Italian architect and the promise of letters exchanged. It was too good to be true

I was dining in an over-sized bistro sandwiched between the tall, blond, brown-eyed Italian Simone and a handsome gay couple who had spent the day at the Musee D’Orsay. The couple and I quickly dove into conversation after one of the men compared my full pink cheeks and white skin to a Renoir — it was the only time I felt compelled to like and discuss Renoir. After they paid their check and bid me bonsoir, Simone asked me if I was American.

Simone was from Rome and was the only son of an Italian architect. He drove a white Vespa and was studying to take over his father’s business. He spoke little French and equally minimal English. I read Latin but spoke no Italian. We giggled through a conversation of muddled pig-romance-languages while we sipped our coffee. He called me his American Beauty and walked me out into the street to help me find a taxi. As I slipped into the car, he handed me a piece of paper.

“You will write me. Your letters will teach me English. I will teach you Italian, and then you will come stay with me in Rome.” A kiss on the cheek and we were both off into the Paris night.

Back home in the states, I wrote Simone a letter. His handwriting was atypical for an architect — messy and non-linear — and I could barely decipher the address. His letter was returned to sender.

Alas, I would not get to play the part of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

The sole letter I've received from a friend, celebrating our graduation from college 4 years ago. I still have it.

It had been years since I had thought about the love letter exchanges that never were, but then a chat with a guy I’d met early last week reminded me why I found the idea of a pen-pal romance so appealing.

“You’re working very hard to get me to go out with you,” I typed in the text box of gchat after having received a handful of flirty texts and emails over the course of the week.

“There’s nothing hard about sending you a text message or an email. I sent them on my way to lunch.”

Clearly, he wasn’t a smooth operator, but Chad had made a very good point: sending a one-line message while you’re working on other things is not very hard.

In the age of texting and sexting, we’ve come to expect constant and instantaneous messages of love (or lust). On the one hand, there’s something extremely romantic about receiving, at any time of the day, a note that lets you know your beloved is thinking of you. On the other, one wonders if this communication blitz doesn’t lack of bit of sincerity. If it’s so easy to key in an “I think I’m in love w u”  when you’re on the go, then do you really mean it? Texts don’t necessarily demonstrate commitment… sometimes I wonder if they might even be a sign of over-commitment.

Writing letters are hard. They require time and thought. They lack that benefit of instant on-screen editing and spell-check — your flaws are more evident. And it seems that sitting down with pen and paper is something we only do these days when we’re taking notes, that is, if we haven’t forsaken a legal pad in the name of an ipad. It was not so long ago that a letter, composed with pen and ink, was our primary means of communicating from afar.  We’re out of the habit of letter writing.

Call me old-fashioned but “Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours” reads so much better when it’s scrawled on paper.

I kept the letter I wrote to Simone and every time I travel to Rome, I stuff it in my backpack. It wasn’t a love letter, but just in case I run into a tall blond architect riding around the Coliseum on a white Vespa, I’d like him to know I didn’t take the easy way out.

We’re All Pretty, Pretty, Neurotic Princesses

Of late, I’ve found a kindred spirit in Cinderella.

Sure, I have neither an evil step-mother who locks me in an attic nor ugly step-sisters who steal my clothes and spill pizza grease on them, but I have my share of chores that keep me looking like I just rolled around in a cinder bin.

 

Every Cinderella needs her own set of seamstress mice

 

Mornings are spent makeupless in old jeans and a t-shirt running errands for the family while my mother recovers from her recent hip replacement. I race through grocery stores, power-mop the kitchen floor, dust away the cobwebs from the corners of the living room, transfer the laundry from the hamper to the washing machines, groom the dogs, and put two meals on the table while prepping the third for my return at night. The projects I’m working on have me on call 24-7, and the majority of what I accomplish during the day is done between blackberry emails on the run and conference calls from my compact-SUV. At night, I’m “training” and if I’m lucky, home in my sweats by 10PM.

In short, I’m like every other modern woman as she tries to make her way in life on her own two feet while contributing to her family’s overall well-being. There isn’t much in the way of glamor, but there isn’t much to complain about.

On the console table near my front door sits an invitation to a charity ball. The event is being organized by a woman whose generosity, strength, and heart I greatly admire, and who has recently emerged as a fairy god-mother of sorts. A little bit of sparkle is something to look forward to, especially in the name of a good cause. As for the Cinderella transformation, do you remember that scene in the Disney movie when all the worker mice team-up and create a ball-gown for Cinderella from scraps of material? Yea, I’ve got seamstress mice too. Rather than buy something new, my tailor is reviving a unique vintage piece. It is a recession after all, and I’m a big believer in “once couture, always couture.” A needle, some thread, a little bibbidi, bobbidi, boo, and I’m good to go.

Hopefully, I won’t leave a Ferragamo behind on the dance floor.

All these parallels got my friend Annie and I thinking: If the 21st century New Yorker edition of Cinderella looks like me, what would the some of the other princesses look like in today’s Grimm fairytale?

 

Grace (of "Will & Grace") is the modern Snow White, and we love her

 

Rapunzel is that girl that lets men walk all over her. She’s the one most likely to get back together with the jerk who dumped her. Because she spends most of the day locked away in her room/office, Rapunzel is bound to get into trouble when she’s partying away a Friday night. As she goes off to the bathroom to make-out with the bartender, her friends say “It’s no wonder her mother had to lock her in a tower!”

Snow White shares a flat with 3 gay guys. In fact, all of her friends are handsome gay guys who take her shopping and tell her she’s fabulous and that they can’t live without her. She stopped having girlfriends after her jealous best friend slept with her boyfriend. Snow often eats indiscriminately and feels bad about it later when she’s passed out on her sofa in an apple-turnover-induced food coma.

Sleeping Beauty is the girl we all hate because every guy hits on her and she’s totally oblivious. She has no idea how beautiful she is or how charming. Men stumble over themselves trying to buy her a drink. She’s nonchalant about dating because she never has to work to get asked out, but she doesn’t like to ruin a good night’s sleep by having a strange guy stay over.  All her friends secretly hope she has an eating disorder…

Meet Me in the Meat Market

luuuurve in the produce department... so that's how guacamole is made...

I’ve always believed that supermarkets are the best place to play the pick-up game. Bars and clubs are unoriginal, expected, and often bothersome. But a flirtation in the oil and vinegar aisle, on the other hand, is surprisingly refreshing and thoroughly endearing.

You can gather more reconnaissance on a stroll past the cereals than during a 5-minute speed date. How a person moves through the produce section is extremely revealing, and a quick survey of a person’s shopping cart items easily helps you determine compatibility. Plus, there are few conversation starters as effective as a mutual interest in wild sockeye salmon recipes.

Yes, Whole Foods is the new OkCupid.

Today, I found an admirer while stocking on my Stoneyfield Farms maple-vanilla yogurt. There were smiles and waves before we went our separate ways, crossing paths and waving again in front of the wheels of parmigano regiano and the shelves packed with tea. Finally, as I waited in line for my iced latte, I felt a tug at my shopping basket. Before I could turn around, a white fluffy blanket hit my face.

I’ve had some pretty forward advances in my time, but no one’s ever thrown their bedding at me before… at least, not in public. He was pretty serious.

It was then his mother apologized. “He just turned 3. And I thought the twos were terrible!”

“I think I’m a little old for you, tyke,” I said as I handed the toddler back his blankie.

Okay, so it wasn’t the 6′, blue-eyed, dark-haired, wedding-band-less 30-something who smiled at me when I crashed into him while reaching for a head of radicchio, but this toddler dug me. And attention from a cute boy, even if he’s in a diaper, should never fail to flatter.

Next week my local Whole Foods is having a sale on t-bone steaks. I’m telling ya, it’s gonna be the new single’s night…

I’ve Always Had a Thing for a Guy with an Oscar

My Dear Readers, a few weeks ago, when I wrote about Richard Armitage, “Spooks,” William Blake tattoos, and my un-concealable nerdiness, I told you that I don’t have celebrity crushes, that “I can’t be bothered wasting my time fantasizing about the perfectly formed pectorals of some actor I’m never going to meet.”

Well, after some consideration and reflection on my younger years, I realized I lied to you all.

It’s true that Matt Damon’s marriage to Luciana Barroso ended my daydreams about wooing and wedding one of Hollywood’s leading men — I’ve come to accept that not everyone is a Katie Holmes (thankfully?). But such was not always the case…

J.T.T. my 12-year old crush

I’m waving the white flag. I surrender. I confess. I wrote a love letter to Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

and to Jordan McKnight… even though I couldn’t even  hum a single New Kids on the Block Song.

Once I moved out of my tween years, I went starry-eyed for Hugh Dancy and Hugh Grant while Russel Crow gave me palpitations (I always had a thing for fellas with an accent).

In early college, a friend and I would burn up study sessions planning how we would meet Ryan Gosling (hers) and Matt Damon (mine), win their affection, secure ourselves as Oscar dates, earn many-carat engagement rings, and live happily ever after. (Don’t judge too harshly… they were advanced calculus study sessions…we deserved the distraction.)

And then came December 9, 2005. Matt Damon got a Mrs. and I got a reality check. Now, rather than embodying the objects of my affections, hunky actors only typify my real-world “type.”

So if you know any “Richard Armitages” or “Gerard Butlers,” please, please send them my way.

Technology and Affairs of the Heart

Poor Sandra Bullock. Apparently, she received an apologetic letter from one of Jesse James’ mistresses via fax.

I didn’t know people had personal fax machines any more. Hadn’t the scanner and the PDF replaced them? Clearly, an “I’m Sorry” Hallmark card is passe. Perhaps, a fax retains more sincerity than an email or a facebook message.

The tabloid sites say that James met this Other Woman via MySpace. Remember those days when husbands used to meet stripper mistresses at strip clubs?

I know I’m not the first blogger to bring up the subject, but it’s amazing how technology has changed the way we meet people, date people, and break-up with people. We know we’re in an age of hyper communication. Thanks to our smartphones, we’re never out of touch. Gone are the days of landlines and dial-up modems only (yes, I’m old enough to remember late nights before wikipedia and craigslist). And gone are the days when our only means of meeting prospective significant others involved leaving our cozy apartments.

Let’s think about this…

If we want to find a date/one night stand/long term relationship we can log onto okcupid, match.com, eharmony, craigslist or myspace. We can find those “missed connections” from the subway platform or establish a flirtation through dating site aliases. Maybe we can coordinate a single’s night through a facebook group.

Then we meet someone and exchange email addresses, pins, skype names, or screenames. We go home and become friends on facebook and start following feeds on twitter or blogs on wordpress. We keep in touch/track movements through text messaging, bbming, gchat, AIM, and phone calls. Eventually, we announce that we’re “in a relationship” to the world through an avalanche of statuses.

And then we break up…

The breakup itself can happen through all the above forms of messaging. Apparently, the fax and the post-it note are also modern forms of communicating the end of the affair. In-person is always preferable, but thanks to technology, if that’s not convenient for you, a face-to-face termination can be initiated by video chat. In-person breakups are mandated only by rules of tact.

Then there’s the change of “relationship” status on the social networks followed by the defriend maneuver. Then we have to block his email address and delete him from our contact list.

There are so many things to keep track of… it starts to get a little overwhelming.

Especially for folks like me who, on top of her all the aforementioned “buddy lists,”still insist on keeping an actual hardcopy address book.  A left-click on delete is, in the end, far less messy than whiteout.

Good thing I switched to pencil…