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Advice Goddess: July 2014
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 20:17

Carbon dating?

I am a single 58-year-old woman with a one-year subscription to eHarmony. In the six months I’ve been on, only two men have contacted me. Of the dozen men I’ve reached out to, only one responded, and nothing came of it. I’m stumped as to why I’m getting such a sparse response. I am attractive, am very fit, have a career, and own a home. Is my online dating experience typical for women my age? Sad to think I’ll face the next 20 to 25 years without a partner. And I am NOT just sitting at home waiting for a man to fall into my lap. I’m in a cycling club, a wine group, a music lovers group, and a craft beer group. Yet none of it has produced a boyfriend. 

— Cobwebs


On dating sites, where the face-to-face embarrassment of overstepping the bounds of reality has been removed, 70-something men are hitting on 30-something women as fast as their wrinkly fingers can hit “send.”

In other words, the youngest guy to even include 58-year-old women in his search criteria will likely want to talk about Titanic — not the movie but the boat wreck he survived. 

Sure, dating sites promote themselves as a bonanza-in-waiting for people of all ages, but the truth is, online dating is heavily skewed toward younger people. It works like dog years. You may be 58 on your passport and driver’s license, but in Match.com years, you’re 406 going on 407.

Also, men on dating sites care first and foremost about your four or five profile pictures (in which you’re competing with pix of women in their early 20s — typically the height of female hotitude). Musical interests? Favorite hobbies? You may as well list them in Cantonese.

But there is hope for you, and it comes from behavioral economics research by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. It turns out that we decide the value of things not out of the blue but rather by comparing them with similar alternatives.

In other words, you need an “anchor” to make yourself look more attractive to men, and no, I’m not suggesting you start accessorizing with the big iron thing from a ship.

An anchor is a reference point for comparison. For example, after hearing about this concept on my radio show, a lumber company owner started stocking an expensive ceiling tile next to the one he sells a ton of, in order to make buyers feel they were getting a really good deal.

Likewise, as a 58-year-old who takes care of herself, you’ll look far more appealing in a neighborhood filled with 58-year-old reference points than 20-something ones.

Like, for example, on a dating site specifically for singles over 50, such as OurTime.com.

The same goes for activities. The best groups for you are those where you aren’t the anchor making some 22-year-old of average attractiveness look hot.

It may also help to acknowledge and even try to laugh about how hard dating is for women your age. Seeing this simply as an annoying fact of life after 50 may help you take it less personally.

It could also lead you to a greater appreciation of later life’s small victories, like when sex ends with a man rolling over and snoring (as opposed to being zipped into a bag by the coroner).


Hooked on a felon

My best friend’s new boyfriend is a convicted sex offender who has three children from three different women. He has no job and pays no child support. I’ve tried in vain to convince her that he’s a bad bet. They keep insisting we all go to dinner so I can “get to know” him. How do I explain that I want nothing to do with him without ruining our friendship?
— Uncomfortable

When your friend meets guys online, it shouldn’t be on MegansLaw.com. 

Unfortunately, pointing this out to her is probably futile.

We’re slaves to our ego, determined to see ourselves as smart, lovable, and making wise choices, even if it takes believing the unbelievable: “Soulmate, inmate — what’s the difference?”

What you don’t have to do is accept their offer of a ringside seat. Instead, tell her you’re happy she’s happy, but you’d prefer to spend time with her alone.

Her knowing you disapprove of him may put a gash in your friendship, but it may be a smaller gash if you stop trying to convince her. This may mean you’ll be around when she needs you most — after things go south.

Maybe you can at least keep her from immediately seeking his replacement, like by dolling herself up and lingering outside parole hearings:

“Hey, handsome…didn’t I see you on ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’?”


Bridle party
 
I’m going to a friend’s bachelor party in Vegas, which includes a strip club visit. My girlfriend said I have to sit that out. She believes going could lead me to cheat on her. I assured her that I have no intention of cheating -- ever -- and strippers have no interest in me anyway. Well, she’s adamant. I caved, agreeing to skip the strip club, but my friends’ teasing will be merciless. What if I just go and fib to my girlfriend to keep everyone happy?
— Restricted

Unless your girlfriend’s name is Moses and she’s just come back from a mountaintop chat with God, she doesn’t get to hand down commandments: “You look at some other woman’s woohoobies and I’ll ask The Big Guy to smite you.”

Regarding your caving to her demand, you should un-cave; go to that club with your friends. Not secretly. Openly. In other words, tell her you’re doing it. Because an adult shouldn’t get to control another adult’s behavior, and being in a relationship doesn’t change that. Also, allowing her to give you orders sets a really bad precedent. (What will she object you out of doing next? And how soon before she fits you for a leash and a bark collar?)

A bachelor party is a male friendship ritual. While women tend to share their feelings Oprah’s couch-style, men often bond through drinking, ribbing and humiliation, like forcing their soon-to-be-married buddy to get onstage on his hands and knees to be spanked by the stripper. Your girlfriend seems to have given no thought to the social repercussions of your telling the guys your governess is making you stay back in your hotel room and watch a movie. (Would “Fried Green Tomatoes” work for her or would she prefer you watch something on the Lifetime channel?)

And sure, sex for pay is easily findable in Vegas. However, a typical bachelor party visit to a Vegas strip club takes place not at some seedy, out-of-the way joint where anything goes but at a ginormous corporate warehouse of stripping where some 6’8” genetic experiment of a man makes sure no male paws wander anywhere on the dancer they aren’t supposed to. The strippers at these places can make 100K a year just dancing, and they aren’t looking to the crowd for sex or boyfriends. (Their primary job isn’t even dancing but stripping men of their money.)

You could have reassured her about all of this if you each hadn’t taken the emotionally easy way out. Instead of talking about her fears, she went all ayatollah on you, and instead of standing up for yourself, you figured you’d just lie to her.

Problem-avoiding — rather than laying out your feelings and problem-solving — tends to bode poorly for a relationship’s survival. Backtrack and try a little adult conversation. You just might convince her that looking isn’t the gateway drug to cheating — much like ogling a Porsche doesn’t lead to grand theft auto and watching “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” doesn’t mean you’re just one big power tool away from dismembering people. 

Destitution Wedding


A friend asked me to be a groomsman in his wedding. It’s being held hours away, and the only hotel is pricey. With tux rental, attending will cost me over $500. I’ll also have to miss work. (I’m a waiter.) Is it okay to decline a wedding invitation because it’s too expensive to attend? 

— Not Richie Rich

 

Instead of just sending regrets, it’s tempting to passive-aggressively express your resentment: “Unfortunately, I have a conflict — in that I have to make my car payment.”


Some couples may only have friends who are big investment bankers who light their cigars ‘90s-style, with $20 bills. But in this economy, at least a handful of a couple’s pals will probably RSVP with something like, “Dude, I really wanna be there, but I can’t find another waiter to cover my shift.” Also, people in their 20s and 30s, prime time for marrying, can be invited to several weddings in a single summer. Costs for hotels, flights, clothes and gifts can add up, and that’s really not fair. (Being there on even your most special friend’s special day shouldn’t mean you have to take the bus for a year.) 


It’s up to the couple getting married to throw the sort of wedding their friends and relatives can afford to attend (or at least not get miffy that some invitees won’t be flush enough to come). That said, being fiscally inclusive seems the warm, hospitable thing to do, like making sure your vegetarian friends have something to eat — instead of just harrumphing, Marie Antoinette-style, “Let them eat steak!”

 

The truth is, it’s possible to throw even a fancier wedding without bleeding the invitees. “Black tie optional” allows groomsmen and others to wear a suit instead of renting a tux. And instead of basically telling bridesmaids “Go give Vera Wang $200,” you request something like, “Please wear fall colors.”


Regarding location, a ceremony at a nearby lake pavilion or in Granny’s garden will be no less moving than one at the Maui Four Seasons, and people will cry just the same when the couple dance their first dance whether the band is Beyonce or an MP3 mix.


Before you decline this invitation, consider your priorities. Even if your friends didn’t think to make attending their wedding affordable, they might resent you for not going into debt to come. In my mind, these aren’t real friends and they’re confusing a wedding with a telethon, but you may have reasons for wanting to keep them in your life.


As for how to decline, you could just be honest. Times are tough all around. (When I do buy clothing, it is “previously enjoyed” and arrives crammed into a recycled envelope by the eBay seller.) Another option is making up a story for why you can’t attend (Family obligation! Pre-existing work thing!) and then staying off Facebook so you don’t get tagged in a lie. If you do go, you might consider starting a new wedding tradition: Other people throw rice; you sweep it up afterward (so you can have something on your plate for the next month besides the little pattern around the rim).

 


Ed Driftwood

This great guy I’ve started dating is doting and sweet but, careerwise, lacks ambition and seems comfortable floating by with minimal effort. Unlike him, I am extremely ambitious. Is it okay to date men who are still “figuring things out”?
— Driven

It sounds like your boyfriend is really going places. Mainly to the fridge and then back to the couch.

A guy who appears to model his career trajectory on driftwood is unlikely to suddenly become ambitious.

Sure, there are people who have a catastrophic accident and realize life is short and they’d better get cracking, but it isn’t like you can wait for him to get into (and then miraculously recover from) a motorcycle crash to become the man you’d respect and admire.

To avoid getting drawn into a relationship that’s ultimately wrong for you, come up with what I call “Man Minimums” — a list of essential traits a guy has to have to stay in the running to be your boyfriend.

One of yours might be “shows potential and the drive to achieve it.” A guy like this will experience setbacks along the way but then turn his wrong moves into arrows toward the right ones.

So, yes, as a person who seems to value ambition, it’s okay for you to date men who are still figuring things out — as long as what they’re figuring out isn’t that you can reach for the stars. With one hand. And then roll over and go back to sleep.


Jerk stoppage 

What’s with a man who fathered three children with three different women but never married any of them? He always cheats on girlfriends and then just moves on to the next. Sadly, I was the most recent. By the time I learned how he operates, I was very much in love with him. I told him he’ll end up a sad old man with no one to care for him, but he still won’t work on our problems; he just left and is now with some new woman. When does he pay the piper?
— Still In Love With Him And Hating That

Unfortunately, “paying the piper” is just a metaphor, out of a folk tale about a town with a rat infestation and a mayor who tried to stiff the medieval cousin of the Orkin Man.

As for your rat problem, the state may make this guy pay child support, but they can’t make him come back and talk about his feelings.

You say you love the guy. But you don’t. You love who he pretended to be, like in one of those movies where Mr. Wonderful’s face finally falls off, revealing the creepy space alien underneath.

You’ve now seen the creep. Focus on that, and use it to avoid being fooled again. Even the cleverest deceiver will have little truths that leak out — behaviors that don’t match their words.

We’re prone to focus on the good things about a person, but it’s essential to also look for the bad. It’s the bad stuff that leaves you filled with longing — for your boyfriend to be thrown in somebody’s trunk, tried for crimes against womankind, and sentenced to spend the rest of his life being belittled on national TV by Dr. Phil.
(c.) 2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



 
‘A Grand Night for Singing?’ A sparkler
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 15:43

‘Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry...’ (and do) in fun Rodgers & Hammerstein revue


By JOHN NORTH
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WAYNESVILLE — “A Grand Night for Singing” is a certifiable smash hit for the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre.

The cabaret-style musical features imaginative takes on — and smooth flow with light-hearted transitions between — many of the most beloved Broadway standards by lyricist Richard Rodgers and composer Oscar Hammerstein II. Arguably the best such songwriting duo in history, the pair was known for being exceptionally witty, intelligent and clever.

The June 21 music-and-dance-packed show — spanning one hour 45 minutes, with an intermission — received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end, in the nearly full 255-seat James Auditorium. The proverbial stars — the cast, the seven-piece orchestra and the set with three different looks — were in alignment, enabling this musical gem to sparkle.

Unlike the forced-fictional storyline of HART’s recently presented jukebox musical “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” (see review below), the revue of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s songs was — thankfully — conveyed in a fluid manner, with no effort to cobble together some lame-but-unified story.

The late Rodgers and Hammerstein have ascended to the status of the “gods” of Broadway music. In many circles, anyone tinkering with the duo’s flawless creations is committing something akin to blasphemy.

However, while this revue adds a few twists and changes to the original arrangements, it succeeds in a manner that does these Broadway standards justice.

Singer-actor Brad Mercier, a 23year-old gradute of UNC Asheville graduate, was clearly the standout of the talented five-person cast, full of charisma whenever he was on stage — and appearing to revel in his roles, a feeling that seemed to deeply resonate with the audience.

He told the Daily Planet afterward that the song he most enjoyed singing during the show was “All at Once You Love Her” (from “Pipe Dream”).

Mercier’s four cast-mates also showed much promise, including the only other male, Ricky Sanford, who particularly excelled in romantic roles and ballads; Alison Young, who topped her female compatriates in dancing, acting, sex appeal and scoring a hit with her vocals; Carson Rose Funk, who unleashed a strong operatic voice and stage presence; and Calintha Briggs, who also showed dynamic vocal potential.

The cast seemed to especially shine during the faster-paced songs, as opposed to the ballads, and the two males seemed to get the more fun and lively parts, compared to the slower, more serious and weepy songs for the females.

Among the top song-and-dance numbers were “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” (from “Oklahoma!”), “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair” (from “South Pacific”), “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” (from “Oklahoma!”), “How Do you Solve a Problem Like Maria?” (from “The Sound of Music’), “Some Enchanted Evening” (from “South Pacific”) and “Kansas City” (from “Oklahoma!”).

The Rodgers and Hammerstein revue opened June 20 and closes July 6. (HART will make it three in a row on a summer musical note with a production of “Hello, Dolly!” from July 11 to Aug. 3.)

“A Grand Night for Singing,” which opened on Broadway in 1993, was nominated for two Tony Awards — Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical — and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revue.

The gorgeous set sported three looks, including a large black backdrop with lights symbolizing stars; to stage left, a park bench, behind which was an old-style street lamp; and to stage right, a small round café table, draped with a white tablecloth and set with an open wine bottle, two wine glasses and a candle, set against a flower-covered trellis.

The terrific seven-piece orchestra, perfectly sized for this production, included Brad Martin, piano; Andrew Adams, keyboard; Alaina Seidle, flute; Michael Tanguay, clarinet and saxophone; Pat Johnston, cello; Kyle Leitch, bass; and Michael Abernathy, percussion.


 



 


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