Two new movies starring four very attractive people pose the questions: (1) Can “friends with benefits” arrangements work? and (2) Natalie Portman?! On (1) I’m leaning no, if only on the grounds that I would definitely fall for Justin Timberlake.
But Tracy Clark-Flory of Salon.com gives the matter deeper consideration. But her bottom line is basically this: “When you talk to people who have been there and done that — and even those who are continuing to do that — the response is overwhelmingly negative. As my own former ‘friend with benefits’ put it, ‘I’ve been in so many of these situations and, basically, they work until they don’t.’”
Read the rest (Tracy does a bunch of reporting and covers a lot of thoughtful ground) and let us know what you think: Does FWB ever benefit anyone? Under what particular circumstances? Share away, ’cause don’t worry; we won’t expect anything more from you than a good time.
World of Warcraft is definitely not for someone facing the end of three decades of marriage. Yet I am all of these things as well as a Darkspear Troll mage, with my home in the Barren Lands, a savanna populated with livid pink T-Rexes who wear blue necklaces and matching earrings. I am Level 21 (out of 70), just high enough to get out of the newbie playpen and die suddenly as I stray past cave bears or mega-spiders. /snip/
In many ways, “WoW” was weirdly evocative of what I faced in life. I was newly alone and, like my avatar, dependent on the skills I had, not the ones I wished for. At each turn, I seemed to be facing new dangers. Often, I died. But I rose again and again, finding within myself a bedrock strength that even this calamity did not erase.
My son and I learned “WoW” together. While he commandeered the keyboard, I sat beside him, to help him choose a path…My son has a generous, intuitive spirit. Though I’ve done my best to seem normal, like a weather vane he reads my moods. For weeks, I walked like the Undead through the routines of family life. I felt as gaping as the creatures in Undercity, a “WoW” metropolis, with their chests ripped open to expose neon-colored hearts….Then my son would invite me to play, his voice shiny with intentional cheer. I would find myself with his arm curled around my neck like the tenderest, toughest vine. His fear of what was happening to us moored me to earth. The end of love is a voyage to an unknown land, with mysteries and dangers that I had to learn to navigate…
So here are my “WoW” lessons, thanks to my son:…
Nope, sorry! Click here to behold Robin Kirk’s amazing essay in its full, gory, glory.
Writing at Salon.com, BG’s alterego talks to many brave women to find out. Of course, they shouldn’t have to be so “brave” in order to speak up, but what they speak about — the persistent stigma of STIs, especially for women, despite their breathtaking near-ubiquity — is exactly what otherwise keeps them quiet. (When one woman named Michele worked up the gumption to disclose to a potential partner, he said: “You seem like a very classy girl — I would never have imagined you having that.” Translation: “You slut.” And he was one of the polite ones.)
But! As it turns out, the vast majority of people interviewed in the story — even the expert doctor — wound up finding (a) community among others online, and/or (b) a happy relationship (with someone “sero-negative,” even). In other words, there is life — sex life, love life, LIFE life — after/with an STI. The morals:
We enjoyed this ruefully sweet essay by Sofi Papamarko in today’s Salon.com, in which she gets sucked into The Sims as an alternative to her — she felt — stalled single universe, which appeared to be late in delivering her standard coupled-up fantasies:
It is impossible to overstate how astonishingly easily my dream life came to me, how addictively its rewards added up. At the beginning of the game, for instance, I was given a charming little house in a nice neighborhood. Given! It was handed to me! I didn’t have to scrimp or save or deal with real estate agents or even apply for a mortgage! Landing a terrific job was as easy as showing up to the town hall in a pair of tight leather pants. I told my boss a couple of jokes and was instantly rewarded with a promotion and a healthy raise. In real life, my neglected tomatoes wither on the vine, despite my best intentions. In the game, I harvested huge, succulent crops after watering them no more than twice. I became a master angler and a gourmet cook, whipping up red snapper and catfish gumbo as if I were the secret love child of Nigella Lawson and Bobby Flay. Everything was easy.
And then I met Walter.
Ooh! Read the rest to find out how virtual Walter — and Bernie, and Jack — help Sofi discover that her reality is pretty fantastic, after all.
But beyond that, we can’t put how we feel about the Gores’ split any better than FOBG Rebecca Traister, writing in Salon:
My attempt to sort out why I am unexpectedly gutted by the news of Al and Tipper Gore’s separation:
1. Of course we only see publicly performed versions of political couple-hood, but the Gores’ public performance was pretty damn heart-warming, even if it did tilt a touch too far on the ew-gross-mom-and-dad-are-making-out spectrum. But that’s the point! Mom and dad made out and they still couldn’t make it?
2. Forty years. You get through forty years — of ill-behaved children and ill-behaved bosses and stolen elections — and then you split? This is precisely the kind of mysterious and inexplicable narrative of marriage thing that scares the bejesus out of people who are newly or not yet married. Forty years?
3. Relatedly: so soon after Robbins and Sarandon? Really? Couldn’t divorce have taken the Bushes, or maybe the Broderick-Parkers, first, and given us some respite from confounding and embarrassingly inappropriate sadness over the personal decisions of celebrity couples whose marriages we didn’t even realize we had any emotional investment in until they dropped this bomb all over our post-Memorial Day Tuesday and now we can’t work because we’re really, stupidly sad?
4. Good god, does this mean that Al Gore is going to date? And plus, oh please please please tell me he has not already been dating. Do not want to know. Nyah, nyah, nyah. I cannot hear you. I cannot heeeeaaaar you.
5. Relatedly: they were supposed to be the functional couple. The ones who personally disapproved of the cigars and the thongs and the rest of the ridiculousness so mightily that they eschewed the Big Dog’s help in 2000 and look what happened! All because they were the functional couple!
6. It had never occurred to me that it would bother me in the slightest if Al and Tipper Gore got a divorce mostly because it had never occurred to me that Al and Tipper Gore would ever get a divorce.
…I didn’t know I had any room at all to care about the Gores’ relationship, but maybe because it’s something so much smaller, so much more personal, a headline so much easier to absorb than the other larger tragedies playing out around the globe that this small piece of political gossip turns out to be such an unbelievable freaking bummer.
“The enthusiasm for the ‘Wild Kingdom’ analogy is a sign of how strange and hysterically funny the idea of energetic female sexual desire is — whether it’s in the form of 34-year-old Drew Barrymore, who has cheerily referred to herself as a “pre-cougar” or “puma” because she’s dated men a couple of years younger than her, or 50-year-old Madonna, who recently dated 20-year-old Jesus Luz,” writes Rebecca Traister at Salon.com. “How sad and backward that we have to give it a nickname, animalize it as if it’s outside the boundaries of civilized human behavior, make it a trend, pretend that Demi Moore invented it. That’s not progress, and it’s not a step forward for women.”
And by “good time,” they mean hiking, eco-activism, trading nerdy theories about “Lost.” Yes, Ryan Blitstein and his girlfriend/wingman have each other — and Facebook and MeetUp and CraigsList — but they also have solitary jobs in a relatively new city (Chicago), and, as Blitstein writes in a nice essay at Salon.com, they are also having a hard time making friends.
“My Facebook profile is bursting at the seams with hundreds of acquaintances, colleagues and contacts, many within walking distance. But I can count on one hand the number I’d even take out for a drink. So much for the brave new world of social networking,” Blitstein writes. “Until recently, I thought of myself as different, especially when it came to maintaining friendships with other men. I am not afraid to ask a guy out on a so-called man-date. I don’t need to use SportsCenter or an action movie or an indie rock show to overpower the supposed latent homoeroticism that some men attribute to one-on-one male socializing. I’m as comfortable talking about relationships with another dude as I am arguing about politics. But it seems the older I get, the harder it is to find new people to engage in these conversations.”
And: “There is a vast gulf between vaguely keeping in touch with someone and actually sharing, experiencing, exploring and all the other things you give and get and take from a close friendship. I find it increasingly difficult to cross over that gulf with those I’m meeting now. It’s a poignant thing to be a full-grown human and realize you’re deficient in something that seems so effortless for children.”
Blitstein’s essay is not an obvious broadside against the “alienation” of “technology,” yadda yadda. (I’d argue that the “connectedness” fostered by Facebook, while often superficial in one sense, still does the job of affirming one’s role in one’s own life story. High school! Camp! That crappy post-college internship! OMG! Hi hi hi!) But judging by many of the letters written in response, Blitstein and his girlfriend are not, so to speak, alone — and I think there is something new and modern, if not high-tech, about that. When we married much younger, skipping the seeking-our-fortunes/-selves segment of our twenties, we kept our high school and college friends because we’d graduated with them, like, last year. Now, like our phones, we’re mobile. There are more phases in our lives, more places to put down — and pull up — stakes. Makes sense to me.
What about you? Has making friends gotten harder for you as you get older? Might that also make it harder to make more-thans, too, given that “through friends” can be a romantic goldmine?
Filed under: Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:23 am
Here, from FOBG Mary Beth Williams at Salon.com, a dismaying/touching account of the penny-pinch of heartbreak:
Sep. 22, 2008 | My marital separation would be so much easier if I were in a better income bracket. Then again, if I were in a better income bracket, maybe my husband and I wouldn’t be separating at all. I could rattle off all the reasons why the man that I promised to love forever is not sleeping next to me tonight. I can list all the heartaches we’ve endured over the last two years. Or I could cut to the chase and tell you that this is a story about money.
FOBG Rebecca Traister’s ode to Scully is more than worth a day pass to Salon.com’s premium offerings. After all, you’ll need something to last you till tomorrow.
Dana Scully was not standard television beautiful, but a diminutive pre-Raphaelite, pale of skin and red of hair, who could give equal amounts of soul to lines like “Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, just in contradiction to what we know of it” and “Well, seeing as how it’s Friday, I was thinking I could get some work done on that monograph I’m writing for the penology review: ‘Diminished Acetylcholine Production in Recidivist Offenders.’” A woman who, when asked by her pestering partner to examine a cadaver’s head just one more time for a set of horns, can snap on her gloves and mutter “Whatever” like she really means it.
And, about TV romance — or at least spooky chemistry:
The pairing, based mostly on the dynamic between actors Anderson and Duchovny, crackled, and the show had at its core a professional relationship that was not just sexually, but romantically, electric. Of course, back then, when we all walked a mile to school and programs started the season in September and finished them in May, slow-burn television relationships burned really slowly, especially in comparison with today’s short-attention-span theater, when an unrequited prime-time couple can maybe make it to sweeps before kicking off their panties. Not only did the sparks between Mulder and Scully fly fast and far, but the drawing out of their relationship allowed their audience to fall for them too, despite the irritating imperfections of both character and plot.