Archive for April, 2009

Are you cute or crazy?

cute-and-crazyI’ve had a lot of people asking me about a new reality dating show on VH1 called Tough Love, in which “handsome, cocky and smart” matchmaker Steven Ward helps a handful of “desperate and single” spinsters … er … smoking hotties find true love by offering them brutally honest advice on how to trap a man.  (Hint: change your personality!)

 

As with previous reality dating shows, such as ABC’s now-defunct How to Get the Guy, Tough Love slaps labels on the contestants in order to facilitate the objectification process. Or as they like to spin it, the cast is comprised of “classic archetypes of the single woman.” You’ve got your Miss Picky, your Miss Bridezilla, your Miss Golddigger, and your classic “Too Much Too Soon” romantic. Apparently, Miss Too Smart For This Crap was busy. Although she did post a lovely video commentary about the show here.

 

While the “single-attention-whores-living-together-under-one-roof” motif is nothing new, there is a segment of the show called “Cute or Crazy?” that sort of stands out, probably because it focuses on human behavior, an endlessly fascinating topic (more on this here). In the style of a fake game show, male contestants sound off as to whether the contestants’ behavior is acceptably adorable or bunny-boiling-scary-as-hell.

 

Not surprisingly, almost everything is judged as crazy: organizing your cupboards, letting your cat decide whether you date someone, designing your own wedding dress, etc.

 

Hmmm, now that I think about it, that first one does seem a little off.

 

While on one hand, I hate the idea of the game show’s basic message (quirky girls have cooties!) seeping into the minds of impressionable youngins, I love hearing about people’s weird habits and oddball obsessions. Especially as it pertains to dating. Maybe it’s because I’ve been there. I once went out on a date with a guy whose house was completely filled with serial killer paraphernalia. Not just a book or two. We’re talking floor to ceiling paintings, posters, statues, skulls, books, movies, memorabilia, you name it (to read more on this and other scary first dates, click here). I was slightly freaked and the date lasted all of 20 minutes. In other words, he scored a big fat crazy on the Cute or Crazy? scale.  

 

What about you? Have you been freaked out by a date’s behavior?  Or has someone been scared off by something you’ve done? What’s cute and what’s crazy in your dating book? Miss Happily Single would LOVE to know.

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Are you allergic to sex?

no-sex-please-im-allergic4My story on oddball allergies went live today on MSNBC.com. In it, I cover all kinds of strange allergies, everything from nail polish to cockroaches to celery to cell phones to, well, sex.

Or perhaps I should say human seminal plasma hypersensitivity, otherwise known as semen allergy.

According to experts, semen allergies can result in redness, burning, swelling and even blisters wherever the semen has contacted the skin. In rare cases, having sex with someone to whom you’re allergic can even result in anaphylactic shock (not to be confused with a really intense orgasm).

Symptoms usually start within minutes after contact and can last from hours to days. Although men may be at risk, the allergy primarily affects women.

Treatment usually involves “desensitizing” the woman to her partner’s seminal fluid by injecting her with shots containing small doses of semen. Frequent sex is also recommended. As is using a condom — provided neither partner has a latex allergy.

To read the full story on MSNBC.com about weird allergies, click here. For more information on semen allergies — which are rare but often go unrecognized — click here or here.  To read Esquire’s sex columnist’s advice to a single guy whose new girlfriend turned out to be allergic to his sperm, click here.

Do you measure up?

mr-bigWhat do women want in men? According to a new online dating site, it’s euphemisms! Or rather, men who are “above average in their manhood.” Yes, just when you thought niche dating sites couldn’t get any weirder (MimePassions.com, SingleNudist.com, IBS Singles – need I say more?), along comes 7orbetter.com, a dating site where “size matters.”

The site, which is free, is operated by an outfit called New Life Ventures Inc., which also runs SugarDaddie.com, a site “where the classy, attractive and affluent meet.” 

Hmmm, I’m sensing a theme here. And it’s not Lara’s Song, that uber-romantic melody from Dr.  Zhivago.

So why does this site exist? Because apparently women just can’t come out and ask a guy his dick size at dinner. “For men interested in women, it is quite easy to see if the woman’s breast size is to his liking or not, or even the shape and size of her derriere,” the website tells us. “Unfortunately, because of how society is, it is very inappropriate to ask a man immediately how big his penis is or even if he is uncircumcised or not. A properly behaved woman that is respectful would never ask such a question.”

Thanks to 7orbetter, though, a properly behaved woman — or man (the site is open to gays, too) – can now surf around their website until they find a “perfect match.”  What a relief for singles everywhere!  No more wasting “days, weeks or maybe months” only to be “disappointed with what they find.” As the site puts it, “No more wasted time, no more guessing, hoping or praying that the guy has what it takes to please you.”

I’m still up in the air (so to speak) as to whether this site is an incredibly clever send-up of society’s increasingly shallow nature (and/or that whole male insecurity thing) or whether it’s the real meal deal. I’ve surfed around and it looks legit, but I haven’t joined so I can’t say that I’ve checked out any of the “members.” Speaking of which, the nature of the site makes for some pretty interesting terms and conditions. My favorite passage is on “member disputes” and how 7orbetter.com is not liable for any issues that may “arise between members.”

What can I say? 7orbetter makes me act 9 or worse.

Single moms: a scourge on society?

unwed-mother-movie-posterThe Pew Research Center, a “nonpartisan fact tank that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world,” released a study the other day regarding our country’s attitudes towards “unwed mothers,” one of those terms from the 1950s that’s apparently still with us. Seriously, when’s the last time you heard a guy referred to as an unwed father?

 

The study is of particular interest because, as it happens, single motherhood is on the rise. Statistics released last year show that the number of children born to unmarried women has increased by 26% since 2002, although we’re not exactly talking about “babies having babies” here. While there are definitely teenage moms in the mix, the largest increase of non-marital births is among women aged 25-39 years of age. Many of those women are in long-term relationships; they just aren’t in long-term legal relationships. Others are having babies because they want them and can afford them and don’t happen to have a husband around to make it all nice and neat and Leave It to Beaverish.

 

Which has some peoples’ knickers in a bunch (the majority of whom appear to be over the age of 65).  According to the Pew study, 66% of the 2,020 adults interviewed felt single women having children was a “bad thing for society” (although 25% said it made no difference and 6% said it was a good thing). Also objectionable, at least to 59% of the folks, unmarried couples having children; gay and lesbian couples raising children (50% thought this was “bad”) and mothers of young children working (41% felt this was a “bad thing”).

 

This might be a dumb question, but how the heck are you supposed to earn a living — and raise your child — without working?

 

My personal favorite were the folks who thought that women who go through life without ever having a child were also “bad” (29% went there). Equally offensive, at least to 21%: dads who stay home to take care of their own children.

 

Extrapolating on this data, my guess is 26% of those queried also think women in general are “bad” or “wrong.” And 65% think they have cooties. So what do you think? Are single mothers the scourge of society?  Or do we face more of a threat from belief systems (and perhaps even survey questions) that haven’t quite caught up with the 21st century?

Do I make you horny?

wang-the-human-unicorn-2My piece on cutaneous horns went live today on MSNBC.com’s Body Odd blog. 

What exactly are cutaneous horns?  According to Dr. Clay J. Cockerell, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, they’re a rare malfunction of the body that can occur in response to an  injury or some type of disease.

“The topmost part of the skin is the stratum corneum — it protects the body,” Dr. Cockerell told me in a phone interview. “But if the stratum corneum is damaged due to disease or something along those lines, then it can actually make a different kind of layer.”

Sometimes that layer can blister or become white and scaly, similar in appearance to a psoriasis outbreak. Other times it can become as thick as the hide of an elephant or a rhinoceros. Or start to form a very thick cornified layer in an upward spine or spike. That’s when you get a cutaneous horn, such as the 14-inch spike sported by the Chinese farmer (pictured at top) who appeared in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! in the 1930s as (naturally) Wang, the Human Unicorn.

Cutaneous horns don’t just grow on your head, though. They can occur all over the body and have been reported on the nose, eyelid, ear, lip, chest, neck, shoulder, forearm, leg and hand. They’ve even been found on the penis, in fact, one poor guy in India had multiple cutaneous horns on his penis.

For the full story — including some fun history — click here.

The gift of being single

gift-of-being-singleJust noticed that an essay I wrote for Singular Magazine a few months ago has now been added to their website, SingularCity.com.

The essay, The Gift of Being Single, talks about how I used to be one of those women who hated to be without male companionship, but finally figured out there’s worse things in life than eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom alone.

Here’s the top of the piece:

At age 22, I married a man I’d been living with for a year and a half. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision made during a road trip from San Francisco to Reno. The fact that I chose to tie the knot in the divorce capital of the country should have clued me in to what lay ahead. By 30, I realized things weren’t working and moved out on my own. I was miserable. I still remember moping around my studio apartment, writing bad poetry and crying into my canned ravioli dinners. I wailed to anyone who would listen. How could people stand being single? The loneliness, the despair, the interminable quest for meaningful companionship!

And that was after just three weeks.

For the next few years, I fell in and out of a series of unfortunate relationships — sort of like that Lemony Snicket book, only with more sex — but when I hit 35, a funny thing happened.

And here’s a link to the whole hot tranny mess, as they used to say on Project Runway. Speaking of hot, check out that fabulous artwork by John Ueland.  I may have to learn to drive just so I can keep up with my illustrated alter ego!

Speaking of hot dates …

I was tapped for an interview about dating dealbreakers the other day by Judy McGuire (How Not to Date), who in addition to writing the hilarious Dategirl column for the Seattle Weekly, does a regular column on dating do’s and dohs! for The Frisky. 

As someone who’s pulled some pretty big dating boners in my life (so to speak, anyway), I told Judy about the first time one of my long-term boyfriends spent the night and I attempted to impress him by whipping up a hot and hearty home-cooked breakfast. Heavy emphasis on the hot: I accidentally set off the fire alarm.

This wouldn’t have been so bad except the fire alarm in my apartment was hooked up to the fire station. Within minutes, I had six strapping firemen at my door — in full uniform. We’re talking boots, axes, firehats, hoses.  I was mortified, but the firemen — and my young man — thought it was all pretty entertaining. I remember they stuck around for quite a while, waving towels around and offering healthier, less flammable breakfast alternatives (“Have you given any thought to cereal with fruit?”). 

Click here for the whole sordid story. And feel free to pass along some of your own bone-headed dating moves.  Surely, I’m not the only one with an alarming past?


What’s the story?

Meet Diane Mapes, your friendly neighborhood freelance writer. My beats include health (with an emphasis on cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship) and lifestyle and singles issues, but I also love writing about history, natural history, pop culture and TV/film. On this site, you'll find links to stories, praise for my writing (*blush*) and the odd bit of social commentary about the single life. Also here, a few shameless plugs for my books (hint: see links below). Have fun, glad you're here and hope to hear from you soon.

Oh! And if you're looking for my breast cancer blog, go to Double_Whammied

Check out my books!

How to Date in a Post-Dating World A dating manual for the modern, mangled single.

Single State of the Union
Single women speak out on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

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