Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.
Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)
Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
Life(?) of Trillian
Thursday, December 21, 2006 Sometimes I look back on my childhood and marvel at the fact that I survived to adulthood. I did some stupid stuff. My brother did some stupid stuff. I was often the “assistant” in his stupid stuff endeavors. Our friends and neighbors did stupid stuff. And yet somehow we all made it, we survived childhood.
"It's unclear what effects the Uranium-bearing ores might have had on those few lucky children who received the set, but exposure to the same isotope—U-238—has been linked to Gulf War syndrome, cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma, among other serious ailments. Even more uncertain is the longterm impact of being raised by the kind of nerds who would give their kid an Atomic Energy Lab. "
This fact is now even more amazing to me. Between the two of us (and some hand-me-down toys from older cousins and gifts given to my nieces) my brother and I had almost all of the toys on this list. Our friends and neighbors and nieces had other toys on this list. Suffice to say, with the exception of the Atomic Energy Lab, Power Wheels Motorcycle and Mini Hammock (seriously, you have to see the illustration for this thing. What amazes me is not that kids died in the hammock but that anyone bought the things based on that illustration in the first place), I have close personal experience with most of the toys on this list. The kind of weird thing to me is that neither my brother or I or our parents (or aunts and uncles) were apparently concerned about the safety features (or lack thereof) with these toys. Though for the record I staged a protest over the Cabbage Patch doll. Okay, sure, it was more of a protest on principle than on safety concerns of a chewing doll. Still. I didn't like the thing and didn't like the idea of our family buying into the Cabbage Patch empire. I'm happy to report my niece survived the chewing Cabbage Patch doll with all her digits, nose and hair unscathed. I'm guessing if she doesn't already have recurring nightmares about a demonic doll chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing and gnawing and chewing, she will one day. But because my sister didn't get rid of the doll when it was recalled there's little recourse now. Unless Mattel sees fit to pay for therapy for the emotionally scarred kids who had to deal with the evil maniacally chewing doll at too young of an age.
My nieces (and the rest of my familly) also survived the assault of the Sky Dancers with body parts, a semblance of sanity and most of the household goods unharmed. I will say though, I remember thinking those things might not be appropriate for very young girls unaccustomed to dealing with whirling blades of death. This is the advantage those of us with older brothers have over the girls who live in soft pink cushy households with nothing scarier than a My Little Pony. Those of us with older brothers learn very early that life is not one pink powder puff trip and you better learn how to either duck, fast, or catch objects hurling at you without maiming yourself in the process.
My brother was a Star Wars geek for two weeks back in the '70s. Riding his wave of enthusiasm, my dad made the presumption that my brother also liked Battlestar Gallactica. I don't think my brother actually liked the show, but, he sure did love the rocketeering/missile toys my dad got for him that year. My brother was nearly of legal drinking age when he received this airborne gift, but that didn't stop him and my dad and I from spending countless hours launching Battlestar Gallactica missiles at each other. It brought back all the happy memories of the delightful family bonding time we spent playing with the Star Trek disc launcher, which I notice didn't make the dangerous toys list. Which really surprised me because those things really hurt when they hit you. Those discs packed a powerful amount of velocity punch. My parents replaced the rain gutters on their house a few years ago. My dad took a look at the old gutters when they were on the ground waiting to be hauled away. In the gutter from the second story of the house he found one of those Star Trek discs and a Cylon Ranger among other toys just the right size to be ensnared by a rain gutter when thrown, launched or otherwise set aloft by enthusiastic kids trying to push velocity and height records.
We survived. We became adults. With the exception of me, we've spawned progeny who live in a gentler, more litigious society. Even my brother and cousin escaped the perils of the Bat Masterson Derringer Gun Belt Buckle and went on to father four children between them. And so far none of those children seems to be mutated in ways which might be directly linked to playing with the chemistry lab we all loved to abuse, I mean make educational experiments and fill our heads with scientific wonder. All's well that ends well.
Darwinism at work.
We regularly "played" Jarts, though I don't recall actual rules to the game ever being mentioned. Sometimes, if grandparents were joining in the Jart fun, we'd actually set up the plastic target ring. And stand clear. Way clear. In his later years Grandad had vision problems which were aggravated by Scotch consumption, so when there was a Jart in one hand and a tumbler of Scotch in the other we gave him plenty of space.
But usually we spent our Jart time trying to throw the Jarts over the house (two story) or into the neighbors' yards. I know we weren't the only ones who did this. I know this because seeing a lone Jart on someone's roof was not uncommon. Everyone knew it was the talisman of a failed attempt at an Over the House Jart toss. We were all going for feats of height and distance. And those babies could fly. No surprise, now that I have a few physics classes under my Bat Masterson Derringer Gun Belt, heavily weighted metal spears with fins can really go. Boy can they go. High, long and fast.
One of our Jarts had fin failure after several years of active play. The fin was cracked and eventually split off entirely. But we didn't let that stand in our way of hot Summer backyard fun, oh no, not us! We continued to "play" Jarts but prefaced the game with a pre-game of thumb wrestling. Whomever lost the thumb wrestle got The Bad Jart. The Bad Jart didn't fly very well. And it didn't spike into the earth with a smooth thwwip. It just kind of wobbled slowly and thunked on the ground. This is where I have to raise an eyebrow at my parents: Even after years of "play" (read: dangerous abuse) they tried to find a replacement set of Jarts so we wouldn't have to use the wobbly one. Because, get this, they thought the wobbly one was dangerous. They were disappointed to learn that Jarts were no longer available. I vividly remember my mother lamenting to the manager of the local hardware store which sold backyard Summer fun toys and games, "But our family loves Jarts!" Ahhhh. Simpler times. Times when you could send your kids out in the yard with flying metal spikes and know they wouldn't bug you for a few hours.
And that brings me to Creepy Crawlers. I was the assistant in the Creepy Crawler operation. Creepy Crawler manufacture was my brother's exclusive domain. Even (and probably especially) after he'd long outgrown the age range suggested by the Creepy Crawler people. He'd visit from college and crank up the ol' Creepy Crawler oven and that familiar smell of molten silicon would waft up from the basement. It was about this time I began to realize there's something different, something maybe not quite right about my brother. I was still young and in the specified age range for Creepy Crawlers, but, even I was bored with them. Maybe that's because I'd grown up with them and "assisted" in many Crawler Lab experiments. I was Igor to my brother's Dr. Frankenstein. I collected any small odd bits I could scavenge and gave them to my brother. He would then "enhance" the Creepy Crawler molds by adding the items (frequently broken pieces of Barbie playsets) to the molding process.
But my brother's artistic genius really revealed itself when he would combine pieces of differing Crawlers to create a new species. In his younger years he traded his "hybrid" (read: mutant) Crawlers for goods out on the street. At his peak the "hybrid" Crawlers trade was bringing in a steady supply of hockey cards, Hot Wheels and even a "good" yo-yo which my parents made him give back to the little kid who traded it to him.
My brother either had Teflon fingers or suffered for his art. Because on the few occasions I made Creepy Crawlers I burned my fingers to the level of blisters. Which is why I got into rock tumbling. Less chance of injury and blistering flesh wounds.
I'm kind of surprised at this list, though. My top ten would have included a few different toys. (Though I admit I didn't know anything about the Mini-Hammock or Atomic Energy Lab until I read the low-down on them.)
I'll leave off the snow and Winter related "toys" because they're more sporting equipment, and let's face it, any "toy" designed to be used with snow and ice carries with it intrinsic and assumed health risks and liabilities. If you don't fall on your ass or break a bone while using it you risk hypothermia by using it.
Slinkies. Yes. Really. Slinkies. In the old days Slinkies were metal. A metel coil. A flat edged metal coil. This was problematic because they would get tangled and then bend so the metal was not so much a smooth, slinking coil of steel as a crimped, lumbering misshapen band of metal. This was hazardous because it was a flat edge of metal in a coil. A sharp, flat egde of metal. My pinky still bears the scar of a metal Slinky incident. I was a young innocent victim in this one, I was not misusing the toy. I simply picked it up and it seared through the outside of my pinky. Fortunately it was a clean wound, you know, like the incision of a scalpel or X-acto knife. I never played with a Slinky after that and I still flinch whenever I see any kind of coil.
Clackers. Yes. I survived years of Jarts misuse but within the first five minutes of holding those two giant marbles on a string I a) pinched my finger and b) knocked myself nearly unconscious with a high velocity blow to the forehead and undereye. It should be noted that these were not my Clackers, they belonged to the older sister of a friend. We waited for her to leave for gymnastic practice, sneaked into her bedroom and tried out the contraband toy. The things had long been banned but her sister was apparently one of the early users and had hung onto them long after their popularity had died. Her parents didn't know she still had them and certainly didn't know my friend could gain access to them.
So explaining to her mother and then mine how I managed to get an enormous welt on my forehead and a black eye while playing Junior Scrabble was especially tricky. In the end my friend cracked under the pressure and narked out her sister. Amazingly, my parents didn't punish me too horribly for sneaking into places I shouldn't have been, messing with someone else's stuff without their permission and playing with Clackers. Which my parents had strictly forbidden several years prior. I guess they were just happy I was alive. My mother held me up as an example to all the other mothers regarding the dangers of those ridiculous Clackers. I never bring up the Clacker incident because I'm afraid my parents will realize I really should have been severely punished for all the rules I broke during those few minutes of Clacker experimentation.
Next on the list is Skip-It. You put your foot through a plastic ring until it was tethered around your ankle. Attached to the ring was a rope or cord about 24" long. Attached to the end of the rope was a weighted ball. A weighted ball just large enough to trip over as you began or ended your session with the Skip-It. The basic principle is the old classic prisoner's ball and chain ankle tether. Which should be enough to suggest to parents this is not a toy you really want to give a child you love. Or at least a child under your care. The design of the toy did come in handy one year when my brother dressed up for Halloween as a prisoner. He painted the Skip-It black and wore a striped outfit and won second prize for his costume. The actual object of Skip-It is to set the ball in motion by jumping and spreading your legs faster and faster so that momentum builds and centrifugal force pulls the ball around the ankle to which it's tethered. You have to time your jumps just right or you get tangled in the rope or land on the ball. Either way, you're goin' down. Hard. And worse, once you're down (and probably suffering with a broken wrist or ankle) you've got this ring around your ankle and getting the thing off you is impossible. Oh the times I limped into the house dragging that thing, stuck to my ankle, behind me and then holding up my foot so one of my parents could a) take off my shoe, b) take off the Skip-It and c) assess the bodily damage inflicted while playing with that thing. My parents eventually got it down to a science. As soon as they heard the skipping stop and the tell-tale step, drag, step, drag, my mother would get out the ice pack and my dad would position kitchen chairs across from each other so I could sit down while he ran the damage inventory.
Jarts aren't sounding so bad now, are they?
My all time high ranking injury stat toy is the Slip and Slide. Or as it's more commonly known: The Widowmaker. Cripes. Back in the old days before water parks kids had to rely on their backyards and garden hoses as a way of refuge from the Summer heat. Prior to the Slip and Slide you had swimming pools and sprinklers and that was pretty much it. If you didn't have a pool you had to make the best of it with a spinkler. That is until Slip and Slide came along. My friend had a Slip and Slide. And sizable hill in her back yard. (Well, okay, sizable to a 7-year-old kid.) And three brothers. You do the math.
We had names for all the various moves and styles which could be attempted on the Slip and Slide. Hang Ten, Tummy Rumble, Belly Whomp, Slick Spinaroo, Backbreaker Heartbreaker and Wave Good-bye are just a few which come to mind and are probably fairly self explanatory. Yes, we elevated mere slipping and sliding to an Olympic level. When we were lubed up with sunscreen and wetted down with the hose we were greased lightening. There was literally no stopping us. Literally, you couldn't stop until you hit the end of the plastic. And if the Slip and Slide had been in use for a while, the lawn around the plastic slide was drenched and also very slippery. So usually you didn't stop even when you hit the grass. I'd return home not only bruised and sunburned but also grass stained and ground scraped. It's interesting to note one of my friend's brothers grew up to be a pediatric brain surgeon and another is a Navy Engineer. I'm sure these career choices were made as a direct result of Summers spent abusing the Slip and Slide. (The Navy engineer also had the Johnny Reb Cannon. I remember this because he would sometimes launch cannon balls at us as we slid down the Slip and Slide. See what I mean about brothers lobbing stuff? Slip and Slide, toy cannon...Navy engineer...coincidence? I think not.) I gave up a tooth to the Slip and Slide, fortunately a baby tooth. Others weren't as lucky. By the end of an afternoon on the Slip and Slide the plastic would be glistening in the Sun, the greasy sunscreen slicks pooling with the water to create a blinding prism effect. Sort of like the Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez spill. Too many Slip and Slide related injuries occurred to detail here. Most of them occurred while attempting the Hang Ten maneuver wherein you were to stand all the way down the Slip and Slide, a la surfing. Many of them resulted in trips to the emergency room. None of them should ever have been attempted by anyone not actually employed by Cirque de Soleil.
What I'd really like to know is: What masochistic child hater came up with the idea of giving kids a long, narrow piece of plastic, wetting it down with the garden hose and letting young, barefoot, bathing suit clad kids lubed up with greasy sunscreen have at it? That Atomic Energy Lab with Uranium doesn't sound as maniacal when lined up next to something literally called: Slip. And slide. You slip. And you slide. These are not actions which in any other realm of life one seeks as a way of fun. Slipping and sliding are actions those of us on the higher end of the food chain try to avoid. Warning and safety hazard notes on the box? Why bother? The thing is literally named Slip. And. Slide. Play with this and you will slip and you will slide. Period. End of warning.
I haven't done any research because I don't think I need to dig up facts on this: I'm guessing the masochistic child hater who gave us the Slip and Slide also gave us the Sit and Spin. Here kid, sit yer ass on this lazy susan and see how fast you can spin and how long you can go before you puke. Who is this person who gave the world these evil "toys?" The Grinch?
ADDENDUM: I spent the holiday with my parents. We shared memories of all the Christmases past. Mostly good memories. Mostly. A few sweetbitter memories which we tried to quickly sweep away with more pleasant memories. Ahhhh, repression.
Toys were discussed. And one of my favorite toys of all time was discussed and subsequently rated as an “eminent peril” toy.
Yes. The innocent Spirograph. I love Spirograph. It’s undergone a lot of updates and transformations. The current iteration is pretty cool. I have one and gave a few to my mother and her friends in physical therapy. It’s been a terrific aid in my mother's rehabilitation. By the way. It's amazing what physical therapists don't think of in terms of rehabilitation aids. It's really surprising to me they're not very creative. They're all, "ooooh, here's a $200,000 'balance ball' and a $100 jar of Silly Putty." Meanwhile I'm like, "Hey, let's try painting or Spirograph or a game of Barrel of Monkeys!" and the physical therapists get all indignant like, "pssht. Whatever, I have $100 Silly Putty."
Right. Spirograph. It’s evolved into a plastic frame which holds plastic templates with abstract shapes cut into them. The frame holds the template in place. The Spirograph gears are then placed within the shapes and away you go on your dizzying voyage of design and point, line and plane theory.
However, this tame little art project toy has a sinister past. A few glasses of wine and a trip down memory lane dislodged a few repressed memories.
My siblings and cousins are several years older than me. Consequently I had a unique toy experience: My toys were: new and I didn’t have to share them with anyone other than friends; or, very old, very used or very unwanted toys cast off years prior by my siblings or cousins, either next-to-new because they were “stupid” or unwanted toys or dusty and ill working (or nonfunctioning) by the time I got them; or, my siblings’ and cousins’ toys which were meant for much older kids than me.
The Spirograph fell into the last category. Apart from crayons and all the paper I could color provided in steady streams by an uncle who worked at a paper plant in Canada, Spirograph was what launched my career in art. Technically I was much, much too young to attempt Spirographing when I first twirled those pen driven gears over paper. My sister received a Spirograph as a gift, tried it a few times and discarded it. My brother then stealthily snatched up the Spirograph and it resided in his possession for several years.
Fortunately for me, my brother came out of the womb afflicted with OCD. Well. Maybe that’s harsh armchair pop psychology talking. We won’t Dr. Phil my poor brother. It’s not fair to all the people who have bona fide mental illness. My brother is just anal retentive about keeping things neat and orderly. So the Spirograph kit was always perfectly stored in its box. A lot of kids lost one or many of their gears, or they were cracked and the subsequent design would have bumps in it where the pen skipped over the crack. But not our Spirograph. Thanks to my sister who didn’t like it, my anal retentive brother and me, the kid who treated her art supplies like precious and rare metals, the Spirograph in our house had many years of steady use. I started playing with the Spirograph early in life. I watched my brother, studied his technique, and quickly learned how to manipulate the gears and create a dazzling and colorful gallery of modern art. Not bad for a three-year-old.
What’s dangerous about this, you’re thinking?
Well. Back in the old days, the early days of Spirographing, the kit was comprised of several gears which worked in conjunction with each other. All the gears could be mixed and matched to create a never ending stream of infinite design possibilities. But one gear had to be kept in place while the junior artist guided the pen and rotating gear around it.
How to keep that gear in place… How indeed.
Short, sharp, pins. The pins were about two centimeters long and very, very sharp. They had a round red ball head on them, sort of like the pins you see on maps demarking battles and wild animal attacks on government display maps and dioramas at national parks.
The pins were pressed through the guide gear, paper and finally: A piece of Styrofoam.
You’re all intelligent people. I think you can figure out the fatal flaw in this system. Styrofoam. Moving, rotating pieces. Sharp pins. Small children’s fingers.
“Here kid, here’s a box of plastic gears, a ball point pen, a piece of Styrofoam and a load of small, sharp pins. Have a blast!”
True, I was a bit, okay, a lot younger than the intended age range of the Spirograph when I first started using it. But. Still. Even an eight or nine-year-old kid probably shouldn’t be playing with a box of small, sharp pins.
I don’t remember too many incidents with the pins, however I do remember pricking my fingers while attempting to pick up the pins from their space in the kit. And I remember a few blood stained Spirograph designs. The junior artist was supposed to reach into a large cluster of sharp pins and pull out a few to hold the gear in place. “Here kid, stick your hand in this mound of sharp pins, pull out a few small, sharp pins, and deftly stick them through miniscule holes in a gear and into Styrofoam.”
Where was DCFS when this toy hit the market?
My mother, however, recalled many surprising and potentially disastrous incidents involved the vacuum cleaner and those small, sharp pins. And shards of those pins shooting through the vacuum bag.
And there were a few incidents involving unsuspecting, un-shoed feet and those pins.
Even if the kid managed to escape those perils, I do remember this: the pins had a way of popping out of the Styrofoam when the pen in rotating gear action really got going.
Friction, plastic and static energy lesson, anyone?
Protective eyewear or perhaps a goalie mask, anyone?
Apparently the makers of the original Spirograph didn’t have a lot of physics classes. Because when things heated up on the circular design lab, the Styrofoam would literally get hot. I remember my hair flying wild all over the place from the static energy build-up. Even if a kid miraculously managed to escape an eye or facial injury from a pin popping up and hitting them, a Spirograph session often resulted in shock zapping sessions with siblings.
Using the Spirograph for 15 or twenty minutes was better than scuffing besocked feet across carpet. Unfortunately there were metal pins involved. The pins which didn’t pop out and disappear on the floor would serve as an electrical conduit for carrying the energy built up between the moving plastic gear and Styrofoam and straight to the unwitting kid’s fingers.
I do remember one particularly long and vigorous Spirographing session resulting in me being nearly thrown the the floor when I ran into the living room to show my designs to my mother. Somehow I escaped shock treatments when I removed the pins (perhaps those red plastic ball heads spared me). But when my mother asked me to turn up the light so she could get a better view of my art, the nano-second my Spirograph charged finger hit the light switch the shock zapped me so hard I felt it in my brain and left me weak in the knees. When my mother rushed to help me she also got shocked, badly.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Guys, please, help me and other women. Please explain why intelligent, emotionally well adjusted, professional men are attracted to women whose lives are in perpetual chaos.
They walk among us, these men. They're your friends, family and coworkers. They're normal, regular nice guys who one day wake up and decide to throw their lives into very, um, unusual circumstances for the sake of a woman. And generally not Hottie McBody women, either. Women whose lives are so different from these men, the men we like, that it astounds and confuses us and makes us wonder how they're able to even communicate much less establish a relationship. And yet, somehow, they do. These guys, these good guys, go in, we have to assume with eyes wide open, and embrace the chaos and weirdness, the trouble and sometimes serious legal problems of their new found loves.
I have four real-life examples of men I know very well, friends and family, case studies which baffle even the most romantic minded observers. I thought it was just me who was at a total loss as to what these men see in these women. But lately conversations have turned to concern for these men. People who care about them are worried about them. They’ve become so deeply involved/tangled up with these women they can’t see what’s happening to their lives. I’ve been trying to maintain an attitude of “Hey, it’s none of my business, as long as he’s happy who am I to judge?” But the growing cause for concern in each of these cases is that the men aren’t actually happy and are in fact pretty darned miserable. Yet they are clinging to a seemingly unrealistic hope the woman they are entangled with will change. In every case the men think that they are a positive and stable influence which will ultimately be good for their woman. They think if they live by example and clean up the messes these women have made of their lives that the women will be grateful and happy and miraculously transform into wonderful supportive and caring life partners. And you know, hey, maybe they will. Anything's possible. Everyone deserves as many chances as it takes to get their act together. But as I sit on the sidelines observing some men in the midst of the weirdness, I see the scales tipping the other direction. The men aren't bringing up the women, the women are taking down the men. These once positive, caring, upbeat, professional, fun guys are turning into cynical, suspicious, less than reliable men. They're always late for everything because they're always bailing their woman out of some mess. (Sometimes literally posting bail.) Their friends, family and jobs have to take a back seat because their woman is always in the throws of some emergency they are incapable of handling on their own. At first I wondered what these women did before they met the guys I know. Now I know the sad answer: These women always have a stable of men on call to do everything for them. My friends are just one of many in a long line of men who've served a tour of duty under their women. They're replaceable, and weirdly, I think that's part of the spell they're under: They're competitive and don't want to lose to someone else so they rise to every challenge so no one else has an opportunity to get in there and replace them. That's just a theory.
Increasingly it’s looking like each of them is being manipulated and used. By women who have a proven track record of this behavior. All four of these men entered into the relationships knowing something about their romantic interest “wasn’t quite right.” But they pursued and persisted and got their gal and now they’re in the midst of Maury Povich/Jerry Springer esque drama. One of these men was actually asked to appear on the Maury Povich show. Is if that isn’t scary enough, his comment about the phone call from the Maury Show was, “If it was Dr. Phil I would consider it.” This is a guy who has a graduate degree, 15 years of experience in a very professional industry, volunteers for high profile charities and yet he was willing to risk the slam on his reputation by airing his personal dirty laundry on national television. His girlfriend doesn’t want traditional counseling, you know, in a private office where you go and work on issues, no, she wants to use this guy and their problems as a conduit to appear on television. Why would someone do that? I’ve always wondered about that...and here’s her answer: She thinks it’s an easy way to get discovered by Hollywood talent scouts. Yep. She’s a real smart cookie, fame and fortune are just a Maury Povich show away. The concern here is not for her stupidity, shallowness or (possibly, giving her credit she probably doesn’t deserve) naïveté, but that the man is standing by her and didn’t dump her the second he got the call to be on the show.
I’m getting ahead of things here. Let’s look at the case studies first, shall we?
Case #1 How Trillian Knows Him: Work Associate (not a co-worker) Age: Mid-thirties Education: Graduate Degree (Top Tier University) Family: Stable, “normal” Past Relationship History: Two long term girlfriends prior to this one.
Case #1 met his current girlfriend on a rare night out at clubs. It wasn’t love at first sight, he wasn’t looking for “anything” other than a night out with his friends. But this woman persisted, gave him her phone number, but he didn’t call her. About a month later he was out with the boys for a bachelor party. They went to the club where the woman persisted with him and what do you know?! She was there, too! It’s fate! Right?! I mean, what are the odds of them being at the same club on the same nights?! Turns out pretty darned good because she’s there almost every night. But that’s only recently come to light. At the time she said she hadn’t been in since the night they first met, it must be fate, he really should call her. And for some as yet unexplained reason, even though he wasn’t “that” interested in her, a few days later he called her. And thus began the downward spiral. He took her to a nice restaurant on their first date. He told her where he was going to take her. So she knew where she was going. And yet when she appeared she was clad in scant club wear, and what little there was of the clothing was skin tight. Not exactly the sort of outfit they see a lot of in this restaurant. He was concerned for her feelings, he thought she simply didn’t understand what kind of restaurant it was or that her outfit would provoke raised eyebrows and scoffs in “that kind” of place. When he suggested a different, more hip, more accepting restaurant she pouted and got angry saying he’d promised to take her to that particular restaurant. So they went. And as predicted the men stared and the women rolled their eyes. She teased and flirted with the men and threw sneers at the women. Case #1 was not used to being with “that kind” of woman and he certainly wasn’t used to dealing with “that kind” of attention. After the date he defended her and got on a high liberal hippie horse saying, “What difference does it make what she wears? She should be able to wear whatever she wants, wherever she wants! People need to be more accepting and less judgmental!” Yeah, okay, sure, we’re with you in theory, but, if a woman goes to what she knows is a conservative venue dressed (barely) like a cage dancer at Club Trance, it’s fair to reason that you are calling attention to yourself and men will stare and women will disapprove.
So, after their first date Case #1 was already overly defensive regarding his date because of something she did and the sexual attention she called to herself.
Two weeks and four dates later she had commandeered part of his closet, most of his dresser and was staying with him because she had a long cab ride home and she preferred to stay with him in the city. Fair enough. I guess.
Except little was revealed about her life. Where she lived, apart from it being a long cab ride, was not revealed. What she did for a living was also a mystery. Family? Friends? Pets? Hobbies? Unknown. She just swooped in and grabbed Case #1 and took over his life. Hey, sometimes love happens that way, right? I mean, it had been a while since his break up and he was thinking it was time to meet someone new, and, well, he did.
Three months into their relationship he was talking about marrying her. Sure, very little was known about her, but what difference does it make? All we have is the here and now, right? And they were having fun. Most of the time, anyway, so it’s all good, right? I mean, the mysterious mobile phone calls she got between the hours of 2 AM and 8 AM, the fact that she always had her mobile phone on her or within reach, her whereabouts during the day, where she lived, her job, the fact that all of her clothes were made of lycra or spandex, all of that’s inconsequential, right?
And then one morning she got a call which set her into a panic. She said, “I have to leave, I’ve got a family emergency, good-bye.” And wasn’t heard from for two weeks. Case #1 was crazy worried about her. She finally left a message for him at work telling him to stop calling her. He did. And the next week the Maury Povich Show called him telling him that his “girlfriend” was going to be on the show and had a surprise for him. Case #1, not familiar with the Maury Povich Show, thought she was going to ask him to marry her.
Time out for a minute. Sometimes in relationships there are signs that things are not as they seem. Maybe it’s odd phone calls, maybe it’s a little too much unexplained cash laying around (or not enough). Just little things that don’t quite add up. You’re not a suspicious person by nature but something’s just not quite right. You choose to ignore the signs thinking, “This person has not betrayed my trust yet, and until they do I’m going to assume the best of them.”
But. When a daytime television show calling asking you to be a guest because your partner has a surprise for you, be afraid, be very afraid.
Fortunately Case #1 didn’t agree to be on Maury. He told the producer who called him to tell his “girlfriend” that he wanted to see her but not on national television.
She eventually called him trying to persuade him to be on the show. She thought it would be “fun” and a “big break” for her because a talent scout might see her and launch her career. What career? was the question on everyone’s lips. The question remains unanswered. She really wanted to see Case #1, though, because she missed him and had a surprise for him.
You know where this is going, don’t you? Yep. Straight to the DNA testing clinic.
The “girlfriend” was pregnant.
She was uncertain who fathered the child.
But wait! There’s more! She already has two children by two other men, one of them: Paternity unknown. So she wanted to go on Maury to get free DNA tests for her two already born children and get in line for a test for her unborn child. Oh. And. Get discovered by a Hollywood talent scout. Apparently she missed the auditions for “American Skanky Ho Idol.”
Here’s the baffling part of this. Case #1, my work associate, a nice, professional, responsible, relationship minded man, wants to try to work things out with this lying, irresponsible skank. He thinks all she needs is a positive influence and the emotional and financial security he can provide for her. He has this fantasy of adopting her children and putting her through college so she can make something of herself. He doesn’t care if the baby she’s carrying is his or not, he loves her and wants to have a life with her and her children, excuse me, “their” children.
I mean, all nice and noble and gee what a swell guy, but um, ya know, he dated some really nice, normal, calm, women who don’t manipulate men with pregnancy. What is it about the lies, the deception, the lycra, the Maury Povich Show and the babies by other men which make her irresistible to him? Why isn’t he running to a) get tested for STDs and b) a lawyer? Putting that elusive and weird thing called love aside, from a point of, “What the heck are you thinking?” why is he so willing and even eager to let this woman into his life? She admits she was having sex with “a lot” of men when she was with him but says she never lied about having children, she never said she didn’t have children. She never said she had children, either, and the whole lie of omission point doesn’t get anywhere with her. I mean, having two children is kind of a big deal. To most people. But not to her. My concern was for the existing children: Where were they when she was spending all that time with Case #1 (and the apparently many other men)? Who was taking care of these kids? Why wasn’t she, their mother, with them? Why would she conveniently not tell Case #1 that she had children? I mean, what the...? It concerns me that Case #1 doesn’t ask these questions. He just accepts her. Which is, you know, nice, but um, well, obviously she’s using him. And yet he doesn’t feel at all used. He feels honored when she finds time to spend with him. He is apparently happy being lied to and manipulated.
It’s his life and each their own, but what I’m wondering is, why is this woman whose life is completely out of control so attractive to him? Why does it not concern him that he was very nearly the unwitting “other man” on a DNA test Maury Povich Show?
Case #2 How Trillian Knows Him: Met as an Online Date (didn’t work out, became friends) Age: Mid-thirties Education: Undergraduate Degree (Big Ten University) Family: Stable, “normal” Past Relationship History: A very long term girlfriend and two short relationships prior to this one.
I met Case #2 a few years ago when I first tried online dating. He didn’t feel any “chemistry” and to be fair, much as I hate that concept, I didn’t really feel anything special toward him, either. One big issue was that he absolutely did not want children, didn’t want anything to do with kids, didn’t like being around kids, kids? Nope. Uh uh. He’s a neat freak and kids are messy. He likes things planned, orderly and on time. Children tend to disrupt schedules, order and plans. We kept in touch and every now and then we talk or meet for a drink after work.
A few months ago he met a woman online. She lives waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out in the suburbs. The country, actually. He lives in the city. He’s been driving out to her neck of the woods because, well, funny story. At first she told him she doesn’t like the city. After a few dates it came to light that her driver’s license is revoked because of a few, okay, several, DUI offenses. She did a little jail time for one of them but hey, at least now when she drinks or gets high she can’t drive! It’s a little inconvenient because she has three children. By two different men. (Hey, at least she knows who the fathers are...) and her friends or the father of one of the kids has to drive them everywhere. But really it’s not such a big deal because said father of said child still happens to live in their house. Or, well, technically she’s and her kids are living in his house. But what about getting to work? you may be wondering. Funny you should ask about work. Not an issue. The woman has never worked a day in her life. She’s literally never held a job. Ever. She doesn’t want to work. She wants to be home with her kids. Which, you know, hey, that’s a noble desire. One might think one would consider how they are going to feed, shelter, educate and clothe their children before they actually had children, especially if one desires to be a stay at home mom. Because, you know, usually stay-at-home moms have go-to-work husbands or partners. But she found a way around that! She just moved in with her ex boyfriend who happens to be the father of one of her children.
Case #2 knows the living arrangements are not “ideal” and is working two jobs in an effort to save enough money to buy a house big enough for the girlfriend, her three kids and himself. This house will have to be in her town in the country because one of the kids is in school there and she doesn’t want to take him out of that school. He likes the city, he really doesn’t want to move to the suburbs, but hey, what choice does he have? She doesn’t work and can’t drive and there are the children to consider, so he feels the choice is made for him.
I’m not saying I’m a good catch. I’m not saying I don’t have problems. I’m not saying we were a perfect match. But. Given the choice between me, a woman who has a full time professional career and a part time job on nights and weekends to make ends meet, no jail time or DUI or children or ex boyfriends living under my roof, and woman who’s never worked, ever, done time in jail, has a revoked license for DUIs, three children and living with an ex boyfriend, I’m thinking the choice should be a no brainer. Apparently the obvious choice is not me.
I’m not jealous, in fact I really hoped this guy would find someone. I’m just surprised at who he found. The question is, why? Why would a normal, hard working, nice (albeit a little uptight in the schedule and tidiness areas) guy who doesn’t like kids be so drawn to woman who’s lazy, addicted and comes with three children? I can maybe understand changing your mind about kids, but somehow the combination of kids and an addicted mother who refuses to work and lives with an ex boyfriend doesn’t make me think it’s the little ones who won him over and changed his mind about kids. Opposites attract? Maybe. I dunno. Seems kind of extreme.
Case #3 How Trillian Knows Him: Relative Age: Early-thirties Education: Graduate Degree Family: Stable, “normal” Past Relationship History: Two serious girlfriends
This one sucks. Big time. But, it’s more proof to my strong stance that workplace romances are bad, bad, bad, bad news. Many lessons to be learned here, boys, so read carefully. Case #3 is in the medical profession. He hired an assistant. He fell for the trap and ruin of many a poor medical professional and hired “the hot one” instead of the “older one.” She flirted with him at the interview and he hired her. They were getting freaky in the exam room by the end of the second week she worked there. She moved in with him a month later. Four months after that she came home with an enormous diamond and told, yes, told him they were engaged and she’d bought the ring. This guy hates to shop so he was okay with that. And the thought of having a hot wife instead of just a hot girlfriend was okay with him, too. He was ready to settle down and, he, she was hot. So hot that she’d been a Budweiser Girl and was a swimsuit model. So hot all the male patients wanted her assist them. So hot a couple of new regular patients switched to Case #3, darnedest thing, they all knew the new assistant and had odd and recurring medical conditions and since she was familiar with their health history she took special care of them. In the exam rooms. So hot that whenever she went shopping she’d come home with a bunch of phone numbers from men she met while she was “shopping” with her girlfriends. On Friday nights. So hot she had three different mobile phones, one for family, one for friends and one, well, he never really did know why she had the third one.
One year after he hired her they were married. Two months after that she said she wasn’t feeling well and that she couldn’t go into their office that day. Case #3 called to check on her a few times during the day but when she didn’t answer the phone he just figured she was asleep. When he got home that night the house had been stripped of all the valuables. If it was worth more than $500 it was gone. Furniture, electronics, appliances, family heirlooms, everything had been meticulously removed, clearly a pre-meditated and calculated plan. Case #3 thought they’d been robbed. He cursed the alarm company and then panicked about the safety of his hot bride, who, gosh, what a coincidence, was home sick the very day they were robbed.
Obviously they weren’t robbed. The woman put together this plan the second she laid eyes on him. Looking back on it, she sure did know a lot about pre-nup agreements and divorce laws in their state. Looking back on it it was a little odd that none of her family and only a handful of her friends came to their huge lavish wedding. Looking back on it it’s weird that she didn’t really seem to know a lot about medicine, you know, for a medical assistant. Looking back on it she did have a lot of her swimsuit model photos on different websites. Looking back on it most stores close by 9 or 10 on Friday nights so where was she shopping?
Case #3 has been duped, robbed and used. He’s lost a lot, I mean, a LOT in this whole thing. She drew up a water tight pre-nup and she’s legally entitled to half of everything he ever earns. Thing is, she’s done this before. A man contacted Case #3 and said she’d done the same thing to him. He’s also in the medical profession, she used the exact scam on him just prior to meeting Case #3. So. There’s a chance they can prove that she’s running a scam and maybe get out of their pre-nups. But. Get this. Case #3 wants her to have whatever she wants. Money, stuff, whatever she wants. Because he wants her back. He wants to “work things out” with her. He doesn’t care what she did to him or what she’s done in the past. He just wants her back in his life.
Um. Yeah. Okay. I mean. I know the heartache all too well. And it’s a sad a horrible situation. I know that feeling. I know what it is to know you’ve been duped and treated badly and not care because that person on a bad day is better than anyone else on a good day. I know. I know. Apparently this runs in my family. But. For all his emotional savagery HWNMNBS never stole from me, didn’t marry me for my money (ha! that statement in conjunction with me makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts) and to my knowledge wasn’t using that money to fund internet porn sites, posing for those sites and providing sexual favors for people met via said sites. Which is exactly what Case #3’s ex was/is doing. On the one hand it’s kinda nice to finally not be the sole source of shame and humiliation in the family, on the other hand I know darned well if she wants to reconcile he will jump at the chance.
Why? Why would a guy do this? Why would a well respected professional want anything to do with a woman who lied, connived, stole, cheated and shamed him? Because she’s hot? Really? I mean, seriously, being hot excuses everything else, even if everything else includes manipulation, thievery and porn?
Case #4 How Trillian Knows Him: Friend Age: Early forties Education: Graduate Degree Family: Stable, “normal” Past Relationship History: Three long term girlfriends.
Hoooo boy. Where to start with this one. Begin at the end of the beginning. They dated for a few years, she cheated on him. Twice. They broke up. He moved on with his life. For several years he was happily moving forward and upward with his life. He had a couple of good relationships which fizzled. He found the old flame who cheated on him and within a few days they were engaged. Within a few months they were married. She moved into his house. Within a year she “renovated” a spare bedroom. And moved into it because she didn’t want to sleep with him. She’s never lasted at a job more than eight weeks. (Her usual tolerance for a job is about three weeks, but she hung in there at one job, really toughed it out for a whole eight weeks.) She has not worked for the past three years. She claimed to be bi-polar. Case #4 believed this to be true because she had been exhibiting wild mood swings and a violent temper. He begged her to get professional help. She refused. She became more violent went from punching him to throwing things at him and threatening him with knives. He called the police. They made her get counseling. A team of psychologists concluded that she was sane and balanced and was faking bi-polar symptoms to get out of working or sharing affections with her husband. One of the psychologists recommended that my friend be tested for STDs. And yet, he stayed. Because he loves her and knows she has worthwhile qualities and in her own way she loves him. So he’s been providing funds for every whim or class she wants to take. She goes to a lot of self help seminars. Which don’t seem to be helping. Funny how people who are fascinated with pop psychology often “develop” the symptoms they’re studying. Dr. Phil is like drugs to her, every show brings a new symptom or cause for her to try out and blame, another excuse to use for not working, not being affectionate to her husband and basically not doing anything at all except point a finger at other people. Meanwhile, Case #4 is deeply in debt and struggling with emotional problems as a result of dealing with his wife’s make believe emotional problems. Lately she, too, has started stealing. Mainly from his elderly father. But because he and everyone else in the family are so afraid of her they let her get away with it. Yes. She’s manipulating Case #4 and his family. He knows this. And so far, doesn’t care. He feels it’s worth it. There’s something about this woman which captivates him. He doesn’t know what, and increasingly he’s seeing her more for what she really is than the sublime unrealistic version he sees. But. He finds her captivating and mysterious. Which is just another way of saying moody and suspicious. But he says even if he were to find another woman he’d want her to have the same or similar qualities as his wife. He would like it if she would work and contribute to the family income, help pay some of the household expenses or even just pay for her courses and hobbies. But if she doesn’t that’s okay. He’s got a decent job and an okay income, he doesn’t mind sharing, especially when he’s sharing it with one as special as she is.
I’m too close to this one to make too much fun of it. But. The point is that he could have had several different women, professional, intelligent, funny, nice, honest women. But he chose the exact opposite. A lazy, stupid, yelling, mean, liar of a shrew.
Why do such great guys fall head over heals with really awful women? Or at least women whose lives are complete and utter chaos? Is it the knight in shining armor thing? Is it some need to feel like you have to constantly defend someone? A need to work like a slave to provide a home for a woman who refuses to work? A need to be used and manipulated? A need to feel insecure and unsure of the stability of a relationship? A need to not be able to trust their partner? What is the lure of these women?
People have told me I’m “too nice.” I don’t believe in “too nice.” As long as a person isn’t being taken advantage of there’s no such thing as being too nice. We should all strive to be too nice. Aware, yes, and smart and perceptive enough to know when someone has an ulterior motive, yes. But also nice.
Since I’m obviously totally ignorant when it comes to relationships we can assume I’m completely wrong about my opinion on being too nice. Look at the women these guys date and marry. Those women are certainly not too nice, and they’re calling all the shots, not working, and getting their way, have everything provided to them by men who happily take great pains to give it to them. They are not too nice and they have a supply of men wrapped around their fingers.
This is beyond the bad boy syndrome. Women do like bad boys, oh yeah, we all go through that phase. And we should. We need to go through that phase to learn the allure, though fun for a few moments, comes with long term price tags we can’t afford. We learn we want to spend our emotional dollars on something more stable and trustworthy. We learn we don’t want to feel like crap because of a bad boy we knew was trouble. We learn to spot bad boys and avoid them in the future. Bad boy phases are completely necessary. But. They’re usually phases. Usually (hopefully) very quick phases.
They guys who fall for these women build their lives around them, want them forever and always. This is not a phase, this is some deep need which goes beyond exploring the wild side of life for a few weeks or months.
The lesson I (and other women) learn from this is: Behave badly. Use men. Lie. Cheat. Steal. Treat ‘em like crap. Have a bunch of kids by a bunch of different men, develop addictions, don’t work and generally be a drain on society. Apparently men like that sort of thing.
I’m thinking of changing my online profile to read something like that. It’s a little project I have brewing for the new year. A test case. If you know of a great guy who's head over heels with a woman who is, um, well, not exactly a great catch, send me some examples. I'm not home during the day so I can't use Maury as a classroom on bad behavior so I could use the pointers. I’m kind of scared, though, because I don’t think I’m going to like the results. I have a hunch it’s going to be wildly more popular than my honest, kind, professionally, emotionally balanced profile. Sure, during the holiday season it's easy for me to get my Grinch on, but I'm not sure I'm ready for a meaner tougher Trillian as a way of life.