Monday, March 26, 2007

Z’s Perfect Day with the Men of “Lost,” Mine on “BSG”

My daughter Amanda, also known as Manzi, also known as Z (and BTW, she does wear boots a lot), recently composed her fantasy dream day hanging out on the Island with the cast of “Lost.” Specifically, the males in the cast of “Lost.” It reads thusly:

It starts with Benry at his breakfast nook where we’d have coffee and he’d tell me all about A Brief History of Time. Then I’d take a long walk on the beach with Jack and we’d fly kites. Then Charlie would interrupt and escort me to a secluded area to show me a picnic he’d made for us. Then Desmond would come by and notice that Charlie hadn’t brought any McCutcheon whiskey so he’d bring me back to his tent to drink whiskey and play drinking games with Hurley and Jin who just happen to be hanging out there. Then Sawyer spots the shenanigans and yells “hey...Nancy Sinatra!” (his nickname for me since I walk around wearing knee high boots...even on the beach) and invites me to play ping pong. Finally…when I think I can’t take any more hot island man love…who should emerge from the jungle to sweep me off my feet?? MIKHAIL!!!!! HE’S ALIVE!!! He picks me up and we walk into the sunset while everyone claps and cheers!!!
Personally, I can’t imagine anything more thrilling than having Sawyer give you a nickname. LOL

Inspired by Manzi’s ingenuity, I decided to compose my own dream day with the men of “Battlestar Galactica.”

I’d begin my day with a workout in the Galactica gym with Helo as my personal trainer; and come to think of it, I’d happily spend the whole day there if I could watch him work out. But moving on, after a shower I’d join Lt. Gaeta for a comprehensive tour of the computer system, during which he’d have to say “Action stations! Prepare for FTL jump!” at some point. I’d meet Lee Adama for lunch at the ship’s bar and we’d have a lively discussion of his opinions concerning the precepts of Colonial Law, after which he’d take me for a very gentle ride on a Viper. Then, sadly, I’d have to excuse myself from his charming presence to meet with Chief Tyrol for a tour of the systems on a Raptor, which would be fascinating as well as let him demonstrate his sense of humor. As cocktail hour arrived, I’d hook up with Gaius Baltar, and of course I’d have to take the opportunity to run my fingers through his famous hair. I would happily listen to him talk about anything at all in that great British accent of his. Lastly, of course, I’d join Admiral Adama for a quiet private dinner in his quarters, where we’d stay up late drinking and talking about his adventures through the years, and that would just be the capper. Sigh.
Well, from the paradisiacal locale of the Island, to the rather grim environs of the Galactica, a girl can sure have a good time with hot fictional men. And isn’t it fascinating the array of activities that pass for romantic with the right companion? An intellectual discussion of metaphysics, ping-pong, a spacecraft ride, military reminiscences, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the company of someone with an interesting personality. And he can be mysterious, playful, complex, or just have a cool Russian accent--it all works.

Ah, the joys of being with the opposite sex (if the opposite sex is your bag)! Now you understand why daily life isn’t enough for me, I have to create men all the time and enjoy a vast variety of romantic, erotic experiences on a fictional plain. And, likewise, why women like watching shows like “Lost” and “Battlestar Galactica.”

Variety is the spice of life.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Looking for Mr. Perfect

Man, it has been quite awhile since I’ve had a truly thrilling crush. With spring coming on, I’m sure in the mood for some of those heart-fluttering feelings.

Of course I’m not in the market for an actual love affair; I am, after all, happily married and perfectly content with the real-life love going on in my life right now. No, I’m referring to a good solid celebrity crush or even a small obsession with some fictitious character.

And right now I’m actually jealous of Scarlett O’Hara. I just started reading Gone with the Wind again and read the initial passages about her feelings for Ashley Wilkes. Ah, the joys of yearning for a man who makes you feel like that! Even though I know that relationship is doomed and will only bring Scarlett pain, I wish I were watching a Georgia sunset and dreaming of my own version of Ashley.

But those kind of thoughts just aren’t happening lately. In spite of my recent appreciation for Trey Parker’s musical aptitude, I haven’t been sitting around fantasizing about walking with him on a beach. I can’t seem to muster anything that fervent, try as I might. I’ve reviewed in my mind all the potential hot guys and nobody’s tripping my trigger.

The closest I have to a likely candidate is my personal hero, Les Stroud. I’ve been keeping up on his blogs from the field during the filming of his two African adventures for the new season of “Survivorman,” and he writes wonderfully. Is there anything the man can’t do? His dramatic but humorous accounts are quite thrilling. And I can’t say I haven’t had a torrid thought or two about the man, but I’m not genuinely romantically obsessed. Maybe because it’s because he does reality TV, and I’ve seen footage of his wife and kids and all that, so he seems like a regular guy, flesh and blood just like you and me.

And I guess I’m looking for Mr. Perfect.

In my younger days I was much better at thinking of men as perfect, or close to it. But now that I’m 50 and jaded, it’s harder for me to gloss over the flaws and shortcomings. Unfortunately, while I’ve grown more realistic in perception, my expectations are as unrealistic as they ever were. I can’t fall for a guy who isn’t a hero, and unfortunately heroism is almost impossible to come by.

Now do you see why I have to write romance fiction, and invent these guys myself?

For the present, I find myself making due with feeling a little flutter when ever I discover some quality of heroism in a guy or a character. Thus my attraction to Trey Parker, for being so creatively and musically gifted. The same can be said of all my little crushes, which lately have included M. Night Shymalan (for artistic and creative talent), Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre (for intelligence and complexity), Admiral Adama (for courage and leadership) and his real life counterpart Edward James Olmos (for humanitarianism and generosity of spirit). And of course, the obviously heroic Les Stroud.

The rare exception can be found in guys who are simply cute, charming and funny, the Jim Halperts and Sawyers of the world. (My husband is in this category, with a little heroism thrown in.) While I enjoy the presence of such types in my life, they rarely send me into a Scarlett-over-Ashley type rapture. Nope, for that it takes a purebred hero.

I used to assume a heroic-appearing guy was truly a hero until proven otherwise, which inevitably they all were, with painful results for me of course. But until I made that sad discovery, I enjoyed myself immensely. Unfortunately, it seems nowadays I no longer have that childlike naivete. Nowadays, alas, I assume the guy has faults, until he can prove me wrong. Of course I’m still looking in vain for that guy. Mr. Perfect.

So, what a fix I find myself in! Am I just too smart and cynical for my own good? Can I never again experience the joys of infatuation? Is romance dead for me? :-)

A few years back, as I wrapped up having a crush on a friend of mine, he wisely said to me, “Do me a big favor and promise you won’t do this again, with me or anyone else--I don’t want you to put yourself through this again.” So I promised him.

Yeah, I guess I’ve been happier since then than before--at least more emotionally stable. But still, I can’t give up hope on finding one more Mr. Perfect to get me all rapturous for a little while. Would that be such a bad idea?

After all, it’s spring.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Don’t Talk, Just Sing

I’ve always loved John Mellencamp’s song “Play Guitar,” in which he advises men who want to have success with the opposite sex that they should “forget all about that macho shit and learn how to play guitar.” In fact, any guy earns bonus sexy points by simply being able to sing.

I was reminded of this recently when I rewatched the movie “Team America.” You know, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 2004 hilarious marionette movie about a band of American heroes saving the world from terrorism. I felt my dormant adoration of Trey Parker (see also my
June 6, 2005 blog post) reawaken as I watched. Or, more accurately, listened.

“Team America” is, in itself, not a romantic film. In fact, it’s gross, particularly the endless and cringeworthy marionette sex scene. Oh, and the vomiting. Funny? In a twisted way. Sexy? Big NO.

However, what sent my heart once again fluttering over Trey was the amazing fact that he wrote or co-wrote all the vocal numbers in the film, and performs them as well. He does the love ballad, the stirring hard rock theme song, the Broadway spoof song, the lament in a satirical Korean accent, the country-western political anthem--all of them. You would guess at least six people sang lead on these numbers, but it’s Trey.

My point here is that in watching this movie, I didn’t get to see Trey Parker, I didn’t get to experience any romance, no--I was watching these insane puppets. Meanwhile, the stuff Trey sang was all satire, and profanity-laced satire at that. Nevertheless when the film was over, I suffered from that symptom that always tells you that you are smitten: the urge to use Google Images to see if there were any new photos of the guy.

All because he can sing.

It reminds me of the night I first watched “Moulin Rouge!” and incredulously heard the first few notes emit from the throat of Ewan McGregor. Before that I found him fairly cute; after I checked IMDB to be sure it was really him singing the role of Christian, I was madly in love. Or let’s take the example of how Hugh Jackman’s stock rose in my eyes after I saw him play Curly in “Oklahoma!” (Wow, and I think those are the only two Broadway musicals with titles that end in exclamation points. Oops, except for “Carnival!” Of course, I also have higher regard for Jerry Orbach, may he rest in peace, because he sang the lead in that show on Broadway. But I digress.)

It’s amazing to me how you can feel completely neutral about a guy one moment, and experience heart-throbbing desire for him the next, simply because he sings. This sort of thing also happened to me regarding Les “Survivorman” Stroud last year. Sure, it’s attractive that he has the wisdom and courage to survive alone in the hostile wilderness. But it wasn’t till I heard him sing that I lost my heart to the guy and decided to write a whole romance story based on him (Soulful Sex The Science Fiction Collection’s “Spacewrecked with Joel Fennimore,” if you’re curious). I didn’t have Joel Fennimore sing in the story, though--no audio, it’s on paper.

I wish there were a way to convey in words the magic of this phenomenon. I wrote a novel once in which the heroine became completely captivated by the hero because of his singing voice, but it wasn’t easy to even try to make that work on paper. Which is a shame, because it’s obviously been a recurring theme in my life.

And here come the familiar strains again. I’m going to have to bust out my DVD of “Baseketball” in which Trey is particularly cute. Or even better, my DVD of “Cannibal: The Musical,” in which he sings a lot. And, happily, as himself rather than Kim Jong Il or Eric Cartman. Let’s not debate just now if either of these films is as good as the “South Park” movie--that’s not the point. Sure I admire Trey Parker for his wit, intelligence, ingenuity, guts, and sense of humor....

But there are times I simply want to say to him, “Honey, shut up and sing.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What Did I See in You?

This subject is on my mind lately because my daughter is getting over a longstanding love affair. But what woman over the age of fourteen hasn’t gone through it? One day you’re dreaming of spending your life with the guy, the next he’s suddenly out of the picture. It’s a big mental adjustment that can sometimes take even years to accomplish.

But heartache aside, sometimes this “change of heart” can be remarkably enlightening, especially if circumstances cause it to take place quickly. As your head clears, you may find yourself (metaphorically at least) gaping open-mouthed at this guy you recently adored, baffled as to what you could have possibly seen in him.

On Monday his reticence was alluring--it gave him a sexy air of mystery; on Friday you realize he is just aloof and afraid to open up. On Monday his moods made him interesting; on Friday, just annoying. On Monday his strong opinions made him seem manly; on Friday, stubborn and intractable.

You know what I mean. On Friday, having fallen out of love, you see it all plainly. And you can’t for the life of you fathom what you were thinking before. How could you possibly have seen so much worth in this guy, so many qualities you adored, so much you couldn’t live without in your life?

My dear mentor, the psychoanalyst Carl Jung, has an answer, and I think he’s right on. When another person offers enough emotional coinage to convince you “he’s the one”--someone you could love--then romantic love kicks in. You start looking for, and invariably finding, the qualities you most urgently need.

You’re not exactly lying to yourself, you’re just embellishing the truth. Problem is, the embellishments sometimes get a little too thick. While it’s only natural, and even healthy, to look for the best in your loved ones and overlook their flaws, sometimes the psyche puts too much stock in the perceived assets of the beloved. When that happens you can find yourself crushingly dependent on someone who doesn’t actually exist.

Case in point: well, let’s use me, that’s always fun! I once was infatuated with a guy and got myself caught in a terrible trap. It started because I’ve always had a need to please authority figures, and the bigger the challenge, the better. (It’s no fun pleasing someone who’s easy!) This fellow started the ball rolling by being attracted to me and showing it: he was attentive, excited to be with me, flattering, all that. I was surprised by this, because this guy was not one to act that way toward women. It made me feel special, like teacher’s pet. Our friendship became more and more intimate, which was also awesome to me because he was a very private person.

I won’t go into all the detail, but there were other ways in which this man tickled my fancy. But at the same time, he was a real pain in the arse. He was passive/aggressive, afraid of risk, incommunicative, moody, bad tempered. And yet, his standoffishness only increased the challenge, making my rare breakthroughs absolutely thrilling. The high I got from these occasional successes was enough to keep me addicted.

My pattern of fierce need and periodic exhilarating fulfillment made me feel desperately in love with this guy. He seemed like the center of the universe, the most attractive man in the world, the arbiter of my happiness. Even though I recognized the relationship was putting me through hell, I couldn’t see my way clear no matter what I did. He was--in my eyes--just too sexy, too powerful, too wonderful.

Well, for all that, I knew I needed to get over the guy, and eventually I did, thank God. At that point I no longer needed him to make me feel important and magically able to charm even the uncharmable. Once I didn’t need him for that fix, I no longer had to maintain the delusion of his wonderfulness and importance. I could finally look at him and see what he really was, just an ordinary guy with a few personality problems and a small neurosis or two.

I feel a little sad typing that, even today. On one level I still wish he was all I believed him to be, so that someone that wonderful might truly exist. But you see, no real person will ever be as wonderful as the psyche paints him. The unconscious mind projects a version based on need and desire, and no human could live up to that image.

It truly can be laughable, once the veil is lifted, to see what the object of one’s past affection really is like. “What did I see in him?” we ask, incredulous.

The answer is, your heart’s desire, glancing brightly off an ordinary human being.