Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
One of the best things about being single, is that you can show up to things alone. I know some girls complain about not having an auto-date for every function, but they just need to get over their insecurities and realize what they’re missing out on.
This week has already been a whirlwind of holiday parties for me but for each one, I have the option of showing up sans un beau. And for the right type of party, there is no better way to enjoy then to show up alone. It forces you to meet people in a different way and at a function like a holiday party, people want to mingle. Plus, somehow everyone just intuits that you are more approachable. It gives you the option to flirt in a Bill Clinton sort of way with everyone, men, women, young, old. Even if you both have no romantic interests in each other whatsoever, there’s still something a little sinister about having a flirty conversation with an older man when you have a boyfriend. But no one looks twice, when you’re unattached.
Granted at times, being alone can bring some unwanted attention, but conversation is a skill that must be practiced and if you haven’t figured out by now how to worm your way out of a conversation with a fifty year old man about his body-hair waxing, there’s nothing I can tell you. In one evening this week, I met girls who gave me some insider secrets about my favorite designer, made friends with some awesome guys who I’m hoping to start a business venture with, and met a guy who takes the same yoga class I do. None of this would have happened if I had shown up with a date and it’s at least less likely if I had brought a girlfriend or two. Your conversation just goes a little further and a little longer when you don’t have anyone to return to. And yes, there are certain types of parties, where you’ll need to secure a date. For instance, if you work for a lot of women and you’re attending a work function, a date is a really good idea to protect against introducing your boss to some guy you just met at the bar.
But still, there’s something about being able to show up to a social function alone that will just open your world up to so many new experiences. A friend of mine whose identity I’m sworn to never reveal, started a social experiment last year to delve into this subject. She writes a fantastic blog called Girl At a Bar where she goes to a number of different bars every month, alone with no plans to meet up with anyone and she’s not allowed to be on her cellphone. She’s had some incredible experiences and all because she’s confident enough to simply be by herself. Her blog has actually inspired me to at times stop looking down at my iPhone and instead interact with the people next to me. I’m always shocked by people’s reactions when they hear about my friend’s experiment. The girls especially, react like she’s b.a.s.e. jumping and Girl At a Bar herself, writes about how when she goes out, people always pump her for reasons about why she’s there alone. But when you read her stories, you’ll see that having the courage to be alone has opened up her life to these incredible experiences. I can’t wait to see what the rest of December has in store for both of us!
Check out Girl At a Bar at www.girlatabar.com
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December 6, 2010 | 9:30 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I’m in the middle of studying for law school finals right now which means I’m close to suicidal. Actually, I should be but I’m really just procrastinating – the joys of being a 3L I guess. Every year, about this time, as I’m hating law school finals like the fat girls in sixth grade hated me, I start to think about dropping out. I don’t hate law school, but the finals are just so momentously brutal, that as I sit here staring at my Fed Tax Outline, my mind starts to wonder, would being a Sugar Baby really be so bad? Being a lawyer seems equally dreadful but if I pick Sugar Baby, I don’t have to take this final Tuesday.
So right about this time of year, careful to hide the screen on my mac from my fellow coffee-shop hipsters, I usually start searching sites like sugardaddyforme.com and sugardaddie.com and wonder which would truly be worse: marrying someone for money? Or taking my finals and being a lawyer? Well, let’s compare:
Being a professionally kept woman would mean sex with an old man = Lawyer 1, Sugar Baby 0
But being a lawyer still means Winter Final Exams + Spring Final Exams + the Bar this summer = Lawyer 1, Sugar Baby 1
Becoming a Sugar Baby means Sugar Daddy is probably divorced and has a daughter who has 45 friends in common with me on Facebook = Lawyer 2, Sugar Baby 1
Another semester with annoying law school kids who started studying weeks ago, post Facebook statuses about how behind they are, and think the funniest thing in the world is any joke about 1Ls = Lawyer 2, Sugar Baby 2
Probably being asked to sign a prenup instead of knowing how to get around a prenup = Lawyer 3, Sugar Baby 2
Old man smell = Lawyer 4, Sugar Baby 2
Listening to the kids on law review talk about how tough being a god, I mean on law review = Lawyer 4, Sugar Baby 3
Probably being the only parent who can carry your child without throwing out your back = Lawyer 5, Sugar Baby 3
Being the only student who will go to my review session today and genuinely need to ask questions because I don’t understand something big that’s going to be on the test instead of listening to some kid ranked first in our class ask a question about the most irrelevant part of the tax code pre-1928 so he can show the professor how smart he thinks he is = Lawyer 5, Sugar Baby 4
Explaining to my kids how mommy and daddy met online at sugardaddie.com = Lawyer 6, Sugar Baby 4
Finding a law job, being a lawyer, working with other lawyers = Lawyer 6, Sugar Baby 5
Buying a senior discount ticket at the movie theatre on date night = Lawyer 7, Sugar Baby 5
Wearing suits everyday vs. wearing short designer dresses that are inappropriately extravagant for errands = Lawyer 7, Sugar Baby 6
Spending 80 hours a week doing discovery vs. leisurely writing my novel = Lawyer 7, Sugar Baby 7
Alright it’s 2am right now and I’m exhausted so it’s time to make a decision. Do I stay up to understand why section 1014(b)(6) of the tax code says that there’s a double step down basis for a surviving spouse if the property value of a house owned in joint tenancy has gone down…...or whoring myself out for the rest of my life. Damnit! I really thought I was convincing myself this time…
December 3, 2010 | 9:00 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I was reminded recently of one of the worst dates I ever went on and thought I’d share. A little while back, this guy, let’s call him Matt, asked me out. He was a lawyer with a degree from a fancy school whom I had met a few times before on the local Venice scene cause we had a bunch of friends in common. I really wasn’t expecting much but I was in one of those phases where you convince yourself you need to be open to more things, so even though he seemed pretty boring I said yes anyway.
He happened to pick a new restaurant where I actually knew the chef but I hadn’t been in yet to see the place so I was rather excited. Very quickly during dinner it became clear, we were both just completely wrong for each other. We disagreed about everything immediately. I’ve been a vegetarian for ten years and somehow he thought that since I was out with him and he was planning on paying I should order meat. I had to say “no really I don’t eat steak and I’m not just going to have a little now” like five times. He was rude to the server which as a former waitress myself, really irritated me. When the chef realized I was there, he came out and comp’d a few things for us. Matt was even rude to and dismissive of the chef.
I think he thought that because he was a lawyer and I was in law school and because we were both Jewish, we would just be perfect for each other. First of all, nothing irritates me more than when a guy thinks that because we’re both the same religion, he suddenly feels like there’s an instant love connection. It happens a lot. I don’t know if it’s just because I have a lot of girlfriends who mostly are not Jewish but without fail, some wannabe Hollywood agent will come up to me as the only brunette in a sea of blondes and he’ll ask me outright if I’m Jewish. I actually find this question inappropriate and rude in the first place, but then when I say yes, he’s suddenly drooling over the prospect of bringing a hot Jewish girl home to his mother. He’ll sidle up to me and smile like we share some intimate secret. It’s almost insulting; he assumes that because he knows what I probably studied in Hebrew school, he knows me on some deep sacred level. But I digress.
So Matt was some high powered lawyer telling me all about how much money he makes and the car he was going to get next year. So I explain to him, that while I do go to law school, I consider it more of a hobby, don’t like most lawyers, and spend most of my time on my artistic pursuits such as writing. He responds with “oh artsy stuff is cool. I like it, sort of.” He tells me more about the regular tables and bottle service he secures at the hottest clubs in town. I tell him I don’t care. He loves Sarah Palin. I have a t-shirt that says “Can I Be VP?” And so on as we both just watch the date get worse and worse. I find myself getting insulted and almost snapping at him. He snaps back, I remind myself to check domestic violence court cases for his name later. Honestly, by now, I’m sure we both just wanna get out of there as fast as possible. Finally, the check comes. He has the nerve to leave an embarrassingly low tip – at a restaurant where we had just been comp’d free food and I know the chef! He sees me looking at it and says something like “they deserved less.”
So afterward, I’m sure that the date must have been awful for him too and that he’ll be so relieved to never see me again. But no, the next day, he calls and asks me out again. What is this guy thinking?! This guy should hate me. He does hate me. How has he not realized this? I don’t get this false sense of connection people fool themselves into thinking is there because someone fits into some box you imagined your significant other would fit into. Literally, I just wanted to remind this guy – you hate liberal artsy vegetarians! You essentially told me you did. I’m one of those! Hate me! Please! Why are you asking me out again? Is that what dating has come to? People just give up and start squeezing the next thing that comes along into a box? It was really depressing.
I was thinking about it because I found myself recently thinking about my own boxes. I think Matt just had this idea in his head of who he was supposed to be with. He had just turned thirty-two and suddenly decided it was time to look for someone he could be serious with and he had always imagined himself marrying some pretty Jewish lawyer from Los Angeles. I must have been the first one he had met and he was determined to see if he could make that work. I just couldn’t believe how much else he was ignoring. I knew this guy hated me. You should have seen his look when I ordered my soy tacos. And yet still, here he was, asking me out again.
So I’m reminding myself today, to kick down my own boxes. Maybe not the box that wants him taller than me. But, I would much rather date someone who didn’t go to a good college but can stand being around me when I order dinner, then a jerk who did.
November 29, 2010 | 8:59 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Ok so during Thanksgiving cocktail hour this year, my family took some time to run through the list of family friends we have with young single men and interrogate me about why I refuse to date them. I tried to explain why there was no future with a door-to-door insurance salesman who lives with his parents in the Valley and is shorter than me, but what caught everyone off guard was my mentioning the height factor. My dad literally called me superficial and was shocked that I could list something so trivial as a negative.
I suppose I’m tall for a girl but it doesn’t really feel like it. I’m 5’8” which apparently is three inches taller than the average woman in America. Actually I wish I was taller, but if I’m wearing my four inch heels (which I love), I do notice that a number of men suddenly seem less dateable. Despite my feminist instincts, I am more attracted to someone who is taller than me. I think on some primordial level, as a woman, I want to know that if there’s a fire or an earthquake, the guy I’m with can lift me up, throw me over one shoulder and run out the door.
I guess if he was an inch or two shorter but I still got the sense that he was strong enough to sling me over his shoulder in one fell swoop, I’m probably less likely to notice the height thing. And I would never say that it’s a deal breaker because as I tried to assure my father, I am completely willing to give up any pair of shoes for love. But I can’t shake this feeling that I want a man to not just be taller but actually be physically stronger than me. I know I’m supposed to want everyone to be equal and in most things in life I really do. But there is some primitive desire inside of me to be with a man who is physically stronger than me – not just equally as strong. I hate the idea of having to bend down to whisper in his ear, or be the one to reach things on the top shelf or have my arm be the one on top of his when we’re walking down the street. Should I really be shunned by the feminist community if I admit that I don’t believe in physical equality for men and women? Men are generally physically stronger than women and I like it that way. I believe women should have every opportunity a man does in life’s pursuits, but I also believe that I have a right to admit that I want him to be more physically powerful than me.
I know there are plenty of men who may be a few inches shorter than me and still plenty stronger and therefore I’m not willing to completely disqualify everyone shorter. But size does affect strength and it’s just in my DNA to associate one with the other. The fact is, if an earthquake comes and he thinks he’s hopping into my arms, I’m telling you right here and now, I’m making a run for the door. Alone.
November 23, 2010 | 9:00 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
In honor of the holidays and the shame my family is enduring due to this blog, I thought I would post something a little more good-natured than normal. This past year on my birthday, my Grandmother sang this song to me for the first time. My Dad and Uncle got her to retell it for posterity a little later on video. I could feel her trying to pass on not just the song but the wisdom and history of hundreds of years of ancestors before her who sang this song to their daughters and granddaughters; I found myself trying to memorize every single second of it, just hoping that I was soaking up what I was supposed to take from her. I don’t know if I did yet, but I know that by the time I pass it on, I will have.
The first video is her explaining the story of how her mother shared this Yiddish song with her and then her singing it to us.
The second video is of her translating the Yiddish to English.
November 22, 2010 | 9:00 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I’ve reached a point in my life where I have to start saying no to fillers. Fillers are the guys you sort of date in between. There’s nothing wrong with them per se, but for whatever reason you know right off the bat there’s no future. For instance, this weekend I was at a big music industry party and I immediately hit it off with this guy. He was attractive and dressed well and immediately got my sense of humor. So for the first twenty minutes we had some great flirtatious banter.
But pretty soon, it became clear, I was not going to date this guy. He’s a few years younger than me and works a cash register, but of course one day, he’d love to direct. Gag me. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a struggling artist and not making a lot of money while you’re going after your dream – I’ve done it myself. But just telling people that you’d love to direct doesn’t qualify. So when he asked for my number, I found myself hating him for putting me in a position where I have to be the bad guy.
At one time in my life, I would have said yes. We’d probably have fun on a few dates, go to some good restaurants, and I’d get to know a possibly interesting person until it ran its course. But, I just don’t want to waste my time with these guys anymore. I’ve seen too many of them and the complete lack of all ambition is not really a turn on for me. The fact is like it or not, I don’t date beneath me.
So the real question is, why do I feel so bad about saying no? Why would I rather give the guy my phone number and save him in my phone as do not pick up then just say to his face “no sorry I’m not interested.” But I find it so hard to do.
For generations this wasn’t a problem. A girl could get out of it pretty easily by giving a fake number. You could even give it to him one digit off and if you ever got caught just say he heard you wrong. But nowadays, you give a guy your number and he texts you immediately saying “did you get it?” So unless you have the guts to say to someone you’ve been talking to for an hour “sorry, I don’t give my number to losers” you’re gonna get stuck in this miserable elongated text exchange till you finally say no thanks.
I know plenty of girls just never respond to these texts but my belief in good manners means that I always respond. Usually I end these things by being evasive till I finally say I’m too busy with work to get together or that there’s someone else or that I’m dealing with a crisis and always via text unless they trick me into getting on the phone with them. The thing is, should I feel bad about this? Would the guy be happier if I said to his face “no thanks, you have no job, no prospects, and your degree from ITT Tech is not that impressive?” Is just “no, you can’t have my number” with no explanation better?
I genuinely want to be considerate here but I’m just not sure that the upfront honesty thing is the best way to go. I don’t want to stare someone in the face while rejecting him. If I really thought he preferred it that way, I guess I would suck it up and do it, but it seems to me that he’d probably rather be let down with some lame excuse in private. So in the end, the can’t-say-no policy, seems to be the best for everyone and unless or until I hear otherwise, I guess I’m sticking with it.
Maybe the real solution is for AT&T to come up with an automatic response for me. Like I could just save his number with a setting so that every time he called he would hear that nice lady from AT&T saying “hello. The cellular subscriber you are trying to reach wants you to know you have not reached this recording in error. She is simply no longer available for you to contact. Please delete this number from your records. To repeat this message press 1.” Life would be so much easier. Who knows how to make an iPhone app?
November 18, 2010 | 5:51 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Movember is a global charity aiming to forever change the face of mens heath. Simply put, Men everywhere grow mustaches for the month of November to raise awareness for cancers affecting men. And today is officially the the day that is declared “Have Sex With A Guy With A Mustache Day.” So consider it a good deed today.
They also have a bunch of cool events coming up this weekend including a Pub Crawl in Santa Monica.
Check them out. www.movember.com
Watch their plug here:
November 17, 2010 | 4:14 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
So recently things heated up with an ex of mine. It was completely unplanned and totally out of left field on my part but also kind of wonderful. He’s one of the few whom I’ve been able to keep a friendship with and in many ways we’ve become much better friends since our brief affair so it’s been just comfortable and easy. When I told my friends about, they said exactly what I’ve said to them “That’s great. You didn’t add a number.”
Ok. The number. I actually hate this discussion because it’s an inherently sexist conversation but the fact is, we live in a world where it matters. So let’s go there. At some point, we girls know that when we are in “the” relationship, we’re going to get asked how many people we’ve, ahem, “dated” in the past. And we know that they are looking for a low number. Now some girls lie about this; I know girls who are happily married to men that think their wife has dated only three other men, and the women feel absolutely no remorse about it. And some women tell the truth and are with men that are completely fine with it. But every girl fears being asked it. There’s no good answer. If you said you were a virgin, the guy would be wondering what’s wrong with you or what type of fundamentalist religious nut you are. If you lie and say just a few, you’re lying to someone you love. And if you confess a high number, most men will bristle. If you think your girlfriend/wife is the exception and when she told you her number was one, she was actually telling the truth, well having plausible deniability has long kept many relationships alive. Look, I know there are some genuine exceptions, but if the girl went to college, then moved to an urban setting, and is reasonably attractive, she’s going to end up dating more than one guy before you. (If she’s unattractive, lives in the Ozarks, and couldn’t get her GED, well then this blog isn’t for you.)
This gets me so angry because girls don’t bristle at the number of women their boyfriend has dated. In fact, when a girl finds out a guy is a player, she usually romanticizes that she will be the one whom he finally falls in love with - the reason he gives up lusting after other women. It’s almost a bragging point for some women - like they were the only one who could turn him. I personally have no desire to learn this number from the men I’m interested in. It doesn’t matter to me. If there are ex-girlfriends who have had a big emotional impact on him, then I’m sure he’ll share it with me as I would with him. But this momentous number of his - well it would never even occur to me to ask. In fact, I have had exs tell me their number and I can’t even remember it. Why is anyone counting? The number is irrelevant as proven by the plethora of women who lie about it and go on to have healthy relationships.
And yet, it’s there. This looming number that I’m subconsciously trying (and succeeding according to many standards) to keep low. But why can’t I stop caring? Not adding a number really did seem like a valid plus when this ex reentered my romantic life. I’m just recycling a number. But is this keeping me from meeting someone who I might actually have a future with? Exs by their very nature are usually exs for a reason. And the fact is, this abstract number should have no bearing on if you decide to date a guy or not. If you like him and it’s right or even if you don’t like him but you’re going through a period of exploration while on a Kibbutz - whatever your reasons are, they shouldn’t have to include this number. Women should have the exact same rights to choose how many people they want to date as men. And while of course on the surface they do, we live in a society where they really don’t. Dating many men comes with a stigma. It’s still a no no. That changed for men (and it would seem permanently) in the Sixties and Seventies. Why has it still not changed for women? I’m not saying that a high number for every woman is right. I’m just saying that for those women whom it is right for, why are we still casting aspersion on them?
So this is why I love recycling. It doesn’t add a number which my friends and I are constantly pointing out to each other. You’re both single, you’ve been there before, it’s comfortable, why not? But when I think about it, in the last two years I’ve recycled two exs. And neither time did it turn out well. In fact, after our first relationship ended, we had a better relationship than we do now. After the second time around with both of them, I barely speak to either one. So maybe it’s a terrible idea? Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to remain friends with an ex. You keep them around till you end up recycling, but once you’ve done that, there’s an impetus for all contact to be cut off. I just wish I didn’t care. I really wonder if either of these two recycling relationships would have occurred if I didn’t dread having this discussion one day. But on the other hand, maybe my friends are right and it is a truly great thing. After all, I get to keep a low number and at times like now when I’m not dating anyone, I get to have the warm comfort of someone whom I trust and like.
So for the women out there with high numbers, I salute you on your ability to make decisions that are not limited by societal conventions. Forget the recycling. You’re only young once! I truly admire you.
For me, I’m probably going to go text my ex. I guess in the end, I have to admit I love recycling.