Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Happy Birthday to Meeee ...

Yes, it's true. Today is my birthday.

It's kind of a middling one -- not the best I've ever had, but certainly not the worst. On the one hand, I'm unemployed, which casts a pall. And my boyfriend was slightly cranky today (work stuff).

On the other hand, I got flowers and cake and Yojimbo and really good pizza. So, even being jobless, it was still a pretty good day.

Plus I got my very first pedicure ever today.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Deathmatch: Jake Ryan vs. Lloyd Dobler

For some reason, IMDb decided to link to an old column by Hank Stuever of the Washington Post talking about women's undying passion for Jake Ryan.

If you anything like me (and there's no reason to assume you are), your first thought was, "Jake who?"

He's the hunky senior in "Sixteen Candles" who dumps his bitchy cheerleader girlfriend to start dating the Molly Ringwald character, according to Stuever.

And still, I'm thinking, "Jake who?"

This is probably because, despite having seen it in first run at the movie theater, I've only seen "Sixteen Candles" once. I know -- heresy. And I'll dig myself in even deeper: I was never that into John Hughes' movies. I saw them all: "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink," "Some Kind of Wonderful," etc. They were okay. They were entertaining for an evening, I guess. But they didn't do much for me.

Every girl I know -- every right-thinking girl, that is -- had an enormous crush not on Jake Ryan, the Ken doll of "Sixteen Candles," but Lloyd Dobler.

Do I even have to tell you what movie has Lloyd Dobler as the main character? Or did I say his name and you immediately thought, "I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen."

Lloyd Dobler is, of course, just as much of a fantasy man as Jake Ryan. But to me, he's a better, richer fantasy: a fantasy of a sweet and caring guy whose main concern is not himself, but his girl.

We don't all get to date the handsome quarterback. Even when we do, we find out how shallow and vain and self-centered the quarterback usually is.

But if we keep our eyes open, we can find a Lloyd Dobler. He might be a little geeky -- heck, it's pretty much required. He's not going to be a pretty boy. He's not going to pick us up in a Porsche and turn us into Cinderella.

But he will hold our hand through the panic attack we know we're going to have on the airplane ride to our new life together. And that's better than a Porsche any day.

UPDATE: My own personal Lloyd Dobler has insisted I include a link to Chuck Klosterman's essay, "This Is Emo", which explains how that fucking Lloyd Dobler has ruined Klosterman's life.

Done and done.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The 1970s -- It Was A More Innocent Time ...

I knew when I saw this post by Amy Sullivan at Washington Monthly that the cry would go up about how things have changed, oh so much, in the past 30 years. And always for the worse.

That's right, the 1970s is now that "more innocent time" that people long to return to.

I mean, it's not like there was a highly unpopular war going on or anything.

Teenage girls certainly never got pregnant during the 1970s, or had abortions. Nope. Certainly not.

And all of those serial killers you've heard about? Didn't have those in the 1970s. Nope. Especially not in sleepy little suburbs like Des Plaines, Illinois.

(Fun fact: Des Plaines is pronounced locally as "Dis Planes.")

What's really changed since the 1970s is not the danger that our children and teenagers are in -- all available statistics show that our children are safer than ever, less likely to die in accidents or from drug overdoses or from stranger abductions than they were 30 years ago.

What's changed is our perception of danger. Girls were abducted and murdered by creeps 30 years ago, but none of them became household names like Polly Klaas or Samantha Runnion, because the news stayed local. Now, the national is local, and the murder of a teenager in Bangor, Maine, will make a mother in San Diego keep her child indoors for a week.

There is one, and only one, childhood danger that has increased since the 1970s, continues to increase, and is a continuing danger for the rest of the child's life:


We are in danger of killing our children with our paranoia about their safety.

When I was six or seven years old back in 1976, I would walk -- by myself -- about three blocks to my friend Liz's house, and we would walk the other four blocks to school together. Of course, my parents warned me to watch out for dangerous or suspicious strangers -- even in the 1970s, we knew to be cautious. But they didn't think it was a terribly dangerous thing to do.

Today, letting a child that young walk to school by herself would be considered not just dangerous, but actively neglectful. A parent who did so could expect serious social shunning, if not a visit from Child Protective Services. Because "everyone knows" that child is in enormous danger from the moment she leaves the house.

Unlike Amy, I have no simple prescription like, "Complain about what's on TV to make yourself feel better." Not only is there not a simple answer, I'm not sure there's an answer at all. What we're fighting against is what people "know," and people will always choose to believe erroneous facts that "feel" right over than actual statistics. Because statistics mean that somebody, somewhere, will come out at the short end.

And no one wants to be that one.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Why Girls Have Fucked-Up Body Images

Two shows on at the same time on different channels:

On E! Entertainment Television: "Slimdown Secrets of the Stars"

On VH1: "How Thin Is Too Thin?"

And men wonder why we whipsaw between "I'll just have the salad" and "I'll have the bacon double cheeseburger."