I was talking about books to some students the other day and the conversation went a bit like this:
"I'm reading this book called, I don't care about your band," I said. "It's well, a little graphic, so I can't tell you the details, but it's about this woman's dating experiences. It's funny, but it's really gross. Like, really, really gross. Some of the things that happen in it.... yuck. When I started the book, I almost decided to not continue past the second chapter, I was just thinking, this woman is a slut. But I kept reading and parts are hilarious. This woman, though, she's just stupid."
My kids were laughing. "She's just stupid," mimicked one of the boys.
"She is. I can't even tell you the things that happen. Makes me so glad I don't date and never have," I said. My students don't believe me when I say things like this, but it's true.
And that sort of sums up my feelings about his book. I don't date now, didn't really date in my twenties. There was one brief sort of almost-relationship experience, but in hindsight, I've realized it existed more in my head than in actuality. I was sad when it ended, but eventually I was glad that it never really, um, came to fruition, if you, well, know what I mean.
I suspect there may be something wrong with me for not having any real interest in dating and all that accompanies dating. But as it is, at the advanced age of 35, I don't really feel like I'm missed out on much. When I read a book like this, I am overwhelmingly grateful that I missed out on such experiences.
In the beginning she claims to have had a great, loving relationship with her parents, but if that was the case, why go on such a desperate search for "love"? Or whatever the heck she was searching for. She mentions often that she's in need of a husband and a father for her future children, but wow, did she honestly for even a moment consider any of those men to be candidates for a role in her future? She doesn't seem to be going about it in a way that I would consider to be productive. But then again, I don't know about this stuff. I've never had any interest in seeking out a future husband or life-partner or whatever term is used these days.
The author is giving blow jobs by ninth grade. Maybe this is normal and maybe I'm just that sheltered. If so, thank goodness. Some things do not belong in my mouth.
Despite my shock at her ninth grade experiences, I kept reading, and several times I found myself laughing aloud. As horrible and grotesque as many of the stories are, they are also hilarious. Most, or rather, all of the stories are more about sex than dating. She doesn't talk much about dating. She tends to meet guys and then get undressed as soon as possible. Ugly guys, fat guys, boring, unemployed, drug using guys, she's not particular. She does them all: Men with dirty apartments and bedbugs, men with criminal records and/or indie records, men who smell bad and treat her even worse. One impression I got from this book is that the author possessed no self respect, none at all. Why oh why would anyone put herself in these situations? You have to hate yourself to do some of the things she did.
While I believe the author and I are the same age, and I've been in situations similar to hers, known people like the ones she mentions, I couldn't relate to the way she interacted with these people. For instance, as indicated by the title, she talks about dating musicians and how a person who dates a musician has to go to every show. I will admit to having some involvement with musicians, it happens to everyone at some point, even to people like me who work hard to avoid "dating", but also, I never had a problem telling these men that I just couldn't attend every gig, sometimes I had other plans, sometimes, there was a really good movie on TV that I wanted to stay home and watch. Most of the guys respected the fact that I had a life separate from them. Those who didn't, well, they moved on, which was best for all involved. That's the difference between the author and I. I've never had a problem telling a guy no. At least, not since I was like 21. I'm a quick learner, one bad experience and I'm done. Works out well, really, it does.
By the end of the book, I found that I really liked the author, despite thinking she's not very smart, takes way too many risks with regard to her body and is completely lacking in self-respect. I especially felt that I bonded with her when she started in on her dislike of Brooklyn. I can bond with just about anyone over a dislike of Brooklyn. Though I have to say that her rant about how bothered she is that men are attracted to Cameron Diaz in Something About Mary and Pam on the Office made me think she and I wouldn't get along all that well. She sounds like one of those women that likes to get really made up because she thinks that's what men like and she's angry at the idea that they don't like that. Being that I've never done the whole "dating, seeking out men" thing, I've never given all that much thought to what men like with regard to how I dress. Maybe that's my loss, but after reading this book, I have to say I'm grateful for having missed out on all these experiences.
Overall, I enjoyed the book because it's funny. It took a few chapters before my impression of the book moved from disgusting to hilarious, but now that I'm done reading it, I've recommended it to several friends. In the end, the author claims to have learned from these experiences. She chalks them up as her "twenties". I think back on my twenties, which ended five years ago and all I remember is working late at a job I hated and so that I could pay the bills that accompany adulthood, so I guess I kind of appreciated living out the author's experiences from a distance, without suffering the consequences.
-- Random bit here: Near the end of the book there is a line in quotes, and I wondered if it was in quotes because it came from a song or movie or something, but whatever it was, I really liked it. Does anyone know what this is referencing, or is it just something the author wrote: "going to bed early at least a couple of nights a month to make the loneliness stop screaming for the night." Something about that line really hit home for me, even though I very much chose to be alone. Sometimes, well, sometimes, you know...