Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Romance Is...

I'm on page 129 of Northanger Abbey, thoroughly enjoying it, although as usual, the romance is doing zip for me...and it begs the question of what exactly DOES speak romance to me.

Good question.

It's been a year since the Jane Austen experiment began, and I'm nearly done with all the JA books. If this attempt at discovering my literary swoon-worthy lover is failing, I need to analyze why, and in order to answer that question, I need to assess what does and does not do it for me, romantically speaking.

Determining what makes me go "ooh-la-la" is tough; defining romance killers is a bit easier, so I'll start there.

Romance is NOT:
  • flirting with anything in a skirt. Especially if it's a short skirt. Or anything in a bikini. Or midriff-baring top. Heck, flirting with anyone other than your woman is blecky. Fidelity is attractive; skanks--male or female-- are not.
  • running to the mall on Christmas Eve and grabbing the first thing you see because it only then occurs to you that you don't have a gift for the supposed love of your life.
  • Counting the gifts under the tree to make sure that you're 'even.'
  • bringing home roses for Valentine's Day that still have the $9.99 supermarket tag attached, while complaining about the huge rush of men who were all vying for the last few bedraggled bouquets, as evidence of the dumb things men will do in order to "get some."
  • flirting with my sister.
  • asking what you "have" to do for Valentine's Day, and when no answer is given, saying, "Well, what are your roommates expecting me to do?" Word from the wise--if you are more worried about impressing outside parties than expressing sincere affection for your beloved, you're probably not ready for grown-up relationships.
  • Buying a commercial greeting card, writing "ditto" under the sentiments, and signing your name.

I could continue on (for miles), but that's depressing. On a happier note,

Romance is:

  • President Monson telling people that his wife has the most beautiful hands he's ever seen.
  • my brother-in-law Aron writing a list of 100 Things I Love About You for my sister when they were in 9th grade.
  • knowing someone well enough to give gifts that actually mean something. I still have gifts from a freshman-era boyfriend because he actually bothered to find out authors and musicians and films I liked, took the time to write funny/sweet poems to accompany them, and what do you know--15 years later I still like those books, albums, and movies. Still have the poems, too. And in case you're wondering, yes, he is still available, but not exactly to women.
  • someone who only has eyes for you. Fidelity is hot.
  • being the "sunshine in [someone's] life" (per President Uchtdorf's description of his wife, Harriet), or as Junie B. Jones puts it, "making [someone's] world all sparky." Romance is telling that person what she means to you.
  • a former bishop who took his wife shopping for a new dress because he knew that she'd never, ever spend the money on herself without some prodding. Romance is seeing the light in her eyes when she feels as beautiful as she always looks to you.
  • my brother-in-law Paul babysitting 9 kids, feeding them all lunch, cleaning up two messy potty-training accidents, and a minor medical emergency, so that his wife could have a girls' day out with her sisters.
  • slow dancing in the kitchen after the kids are in bed and laughing because you're both such terrible dancers and it doesn't matter because no one else will ever see you & your secrets are safe with each other
  • hearing him say you're beautiful, and knowing he means it
  • little acts of kindness. Romance is someone who thinks of your comfort, happiness, and well-being. It's opening doors, standing to block the wind or the sun, walking on the outside of the sidewalk, bringing you food, getting up so you don't have to, picking something up at the store, brushing your hair back when your hands are full... ah, romance is so simple.
  • knowing that you are exactly what he wants.

I haven't found it in Ms. Austen's masterpieces yet, but in real life at least, I know romance when I see it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why I Don't Date

Dear Cub Wannabe (You Know Who You Are),

The flirting was kind of fun. 30-something single moms of four little critters don't generally have much flirting in their lives, mostly from lack of opportunity, and also because the overall insanity of four little critters + work + school + church + staying up late to finish laundry & dishes just pushes everything else out of the brain and sometimes they don't even remember what flirting is or what it feels like.

So, THANK YOU for reminding me. 'Cause that was fun. Even if your attempts to hit on me were pretty hokey and lame ("No, really--I'm attracted to older women. Really."), hey--it's more action than I generally get.

But because I am a maternal soul, I'm going to give you some big sister-style advice, because maybe your big sister never told you these things.
  • Women aren't impressed by stories of all-night video game marathons. Especially if you brag about spending every weekend that way. This is especially true for 'older,' grown-up women.
  • Women aren't turned on by lists of all the toys you've bought, especially when followed by comments about how it's a much more productive use of money than dating. No. 1, I'm turned on by responsible money management, like saving and investing and frugal living. No. 2, --and I think most women would agree with me here-- I happen to think that spending money on dating ME is about the best use of financial resources any man could hope for.
  • Never, EVER hock a loogie in front of a woman. Especially a woman you want to impress. NEVER.
  • If she winces when you cuss, and a few minutes later tells you how much she really hates that particular crude word you've dropped a few times, the best possible way to attempt salvaging the situation is to immediately apologize and make sure you never use that word around her again. The best way to destroy any chance with her is to childishly begin repeating the word and throwing it into the remaining few seconds of the conversation every third or fourth word. Trust me on this--she'll be out of there fast, and she won't be back. See, she just learned two very important things about you: one, you don't care about her feelings at all, and two, you are crude, rude, and immature.
  • If her arms are loaded with books and bags, and you are walking together, it would up your odds if you offer to carry some of her things, or at the very least, make sure that you open every door between here and the parking lot. It will be a decided black mark against you if you amble alongside her, watching her struggle with the books and bags, waiting for her to kick all FIVE doors open with her foot so the two of you can go through. I mean, seriously--missing one door is absentminded, but actually WAITING for her to fight her way through four more---buddy, did your momma drop you on your head when you were a baby or are you just that self-involved? Chivalry is sometimes nice, but common courtesy speaks volumes about a person of either gender.
  • Telling her that your shared religious beliefs are important to you is somewhat undercut when you go on to brag about frequently missing church because you "usually" sleep in.
  • Being cool with four kids is huge plus; being positive about the fact that they are adopted is even better. Using derogatory racial epithets commonly reserved for those who share the racial heritage of said kids is decidedly un-cool. Consider yourself lucky that you got away with a withering glare and a few sharp words. Supreme self-control kept you from a pointy-booted kick to the crotch. We mommies just don't see the humor in trash-talking our kids. We're funny that way.

Scarily enough, in a younger, more naive part of my past, I would have tried to look past these things and find the diamond presumably hidden far away beneath your sooty exterior. I used to be stupid. In that past chapter of my life I fell for dumb Jane Eyre & Mr. Rochester stories.

I'm smarter now, and I know that 99.9% of the time, Beauty's beast is just plain a beast. In that sense, THANK YOU for revealing so much so early and saving me the time of actually dating you.


The Almost-But-Not-Quite Cougar

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Drooling a Little Bit: My Not-so-Secret-or-Guilty Crush on Hugh Jackman

Maybe crush isn't the right word. For starters, I don't want anyone else's husband. At all. Ever. And secondly, I don't even know Mr. Jackman, so basically I'm crushing on a PR version of a Hollywood ideal, and for all I know he's a belching couch-potato who would be a total turn-off in real life.

All that aside, this past week I've had the opportunity to reflect on Hughie-boy. And by 'reflect,' I mean "stay home sick from work and relive HJ in all his Wolverine glory." I must point out that, given hours at home in bed, I didn't pick up any of the several Jane Austen books I had lying near the bed, nor did I beg the Divine Ms. B to bring me made-for-BBC versions of JA books. Nope, it was all about Hugh Jackman. Thanks to her extraordinary kindness, I had my X-Men fix.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I would GLADLY watch any of the X-Men movies over again, but I'm not sure I ever want to see most of the many Jane Austen films I've managed to miss thus far in life. If this is evidence that I'm not a real girly-girl after all--well, I can live with that.

However, hours of meditating on Hugh Jackman's merits have done more to help me finesse my quest for my own Perfection Himself than all four of the Jane Austen books I've schlepped through so far. Here are the things I like about HJ, that just possibly might show up in my Future Guy:
  • He's talented AND smart. I first noticed HJ years ago when his acting ability caught my attention. I didn't particularly think he was sexy; I just thought he was really good at what he does. He's surprisingly well-educated for a Hollywood leading man, and his range of skill is impressive. Smart is always sexy.
  • He's funny and he doesn't take himself too seriously. Just watch any interview with the guy.
  • He's an adoptive dad to two gorgeous kids who don't share his DNA or even his ethnic heritage. Okay, that's a huge one to me, for 4 rather obvious and adorable reasons.
  • He's been happily married for 13 years to a stunningly beautiful woman 13 years older than himself. That age gap doesn't mean much of anything to me; however, I do arbitrarily extrapolate from it that he A.) is confident in himself, as that choice had to have raised some eyebrows, B.) he's not afraid to go after what he wants, because most men would lack the nerve to go after a gorgeous older woman, and by his own account he was 'planning the proposal within three months of meeting her,' and C.) he's capable of sticking to a commitment.
  • Related to his marriage, yet another reason he's on my list: he had his wedding rings engraven with a Sanskrit phrase that translates to "we dedicate our union to a greater source." I like that. It reminds me of something I journaled awhile back, about there only being a point to remarrying if marriage allowed me to serve the Lord better than I could alone. I like the idea of synergy in marriage, devoted to a higher purpose. Hugh Jackman can be my proof that there are men out there who agree.

Just so we're clear, I'm not really in love with Hugh Jackman. If he popped into my living room I'd shake his hand, get an autograph, and happily send him home to his wife and kids. I DO, however, want to find someone with the values and attributes I find admirable in HJ. If the Future Guy just happens to have a heartbreakingly-beautiful smile like Hughie-boy, well--that will just seal the deal.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One Thing We Can Agree On

I may not know where to find the literary version of The Man of My Dreams, but I know sexy & romantic when I see it. Pulling Baby out of the corner or playing mud with Demi Moore, he was the hottest thing to light this girl's fire at the age when hormones first start waking up. I lusted after his onscreen personna; I respected his offscreen integrity in championing causes that he believed in & creating a sustaining marriage to one woman throughout his life (together for almost 38 years? Wow.).
R.I.P, Mr. Swayze.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spreading the Love Around

The JA infestation is spreading....

My 12-year old sister Emma polished off Persuasion a couple of weeks ago, and Emma shortly before. I lent Lady Susan to her this past weekend and she devoured that on the drive home. The official verdict via text:

"relly good! I wz just prty disgusted wit susan & hr "dear friend" mrs. johnson."

You and me both. I suggested Pride & Prejudice next, but I think she's got the same masochistic gene that I do, and is going to do Sense & Sensibility just because I told her how awful it was.

I haven't been reading much JA lately--really, much of anything lately (although I have found time to finally fall in love with the Fablehaven books, and I know I'm waaaaay behind the rest of the world, but better late than never and at least I'm enjoying them now) because I am Very, Very Busy doing Very, Very Important Things.

One of those important things is studying for the GRE again because I have this insane idea in my head that going back to school would be a good idea. Because apparently working fulltime, teaching parttime, mothering four nuclear-energy level children, and blogging about Jane Austen is not enough to occupy my time and I have an unhealthy obsession with constant stress. Before I even get to the school part I've got to do the GRE part, and unlike the last time I took it, my math scores actually count this time. That's bad.

I would be freaking out, but I've got a secret weapon named Lucas and we are studying together for the GRE, and if anyone can help me bump up that icky math score, he can. In fact, just last night I quickly, easily worked through a couple of problems that he'd given me, that I actually understood, and I was so excited that I wrote a little song on my scratch paper that went something like this:

Oh yeah, oh yeah, who's the queen of the math house?
Who rocks the math world?
Oh yeah, oh yeah, that would be me, me, ME.
I rule the math scene. Oh yeah!

Trust me, it's better with the booty shaking. Use your imagination.

Anyhoo, (I know, I know--you're wondering what on earth my point is and when I'm going to make it) study sessions with Luc often deteriorate into rambling and never-ending debates over the relative merit of humanities vs. science. That's because the verbal and essay portions of GRE prep are my domain and Luc feels about them the way I feel about math, which makes for a great study partnership, aside from the endless tangential debates.

Lucas has a delusional belief that converting me to the math/science spectrum is a possibility. A week or so ago he said he had a book for me to read. A physics book. As in, actual science stuff. Written by an actual scientist. The kind you look at in the bookstore and wonder what kind of geek actually pays money to read this stuff. Okay, I'm making it sound really bad when the truth is that I wanted to read it anyway, and probably would have been the geek picking it up in the bookstore but maybe not actually spending money on it, but I never would have admitted that. Ever. So because I am eee-vill, like the de-vill, I told Luc that I'd read his physics book if he read Jane Austen. I even generously offered to make it Pride & Prejudice, because that's the most tolerable one I've done.

He's on chapter seven and the verdict thus far:

"This book is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo boring! Auuuuuugggggghhhhh!"

Heehee. My name is Wendy and I have a special purpose (bonus points if you can name that movie!). Sharing the JA pain, one reluctant reader at a time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lady Susan (Betcha Thought I Forgot About JA)

A few days ago I polished off Lady Susan, a short and rather strange little Jane Austen gem.

  • Lady Susan herself is SCAAAAARY!
  • Excellent work, Ms. Janie, on the storytelling via narrative letters. I remember trying that technique in several different writing classes, and always falling in love with how much exposition you could cram into this form. Playing with voice and tone is so fun this way, and Jane Austen is, once again, the master of characterization.
  • One thing I really like about Jane Austen is that it's impossible to completely hate any of her characters, because they are just too real. She's so compassionate. Lady Susan is a complete witch with a capital B. I wanted to hate her, but I kept having uncomfortable flashes of recognition...and I don't mean recognizing my neighbor or my sister or best friend. Sadly, I suspect I've had my own Lady Susan moments. Gotta love writing like that.
  • Not to state the obvious, but holy cow--I'm so glad that I live in an era when women aren't defined by the men in their lives! Yeesh! No wonder some women (ahem) went to outrageous lengths to secure the man they idealized. That makes me sad.

Which brings me to my conclusion:

This was a pretty depressing book.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why Marry, Part Two

From a friend who shall remain nameless:

"We marry in order to validate our lives."

The friend thought this was a quote from a movie with Susan Sarandon. Maybe I should google the actual quote, but I'm lazy.

I've had this thought jotted down next to my bed, underneath my scriptures, where I can see it every morning and every night, and the repetition hasn't helped--it still sounds like a load of crap.

Several of my YOUNGER siblings married before I did, and when I finally married I was appallingly old for a Mormon girl, so I had plenty of time to think about whether I wanted to be married, and WHY I would marry. One important conclusion I reached was that I could have a meaningful, happy life regardless. And that's been true--I loved my life as a single woman, I loved my life as a married woman (a deluded married woman, as it turned out, but innocence/delusion is generally a happy state), I love my life as a single mom, and I trust that if I ever feel motivated enough, I will love being happily married--genuine happiness, not the delusional kind--again.

Everything about my life is real and valid and matters to me. Marriage wouldn't make it any more or less real and valid and meaningful.

I'm assuming the quote has more to do with the strength of shared experience, and I can see that. There is something to be said for the power of going through the heaven times and the hell times, and knowing that someone else is right there with you--not in a "I'll-be-your-friend-and-your-sympathetic-ear" way, but in a "this-is-MY-hell-too" way. Of course, marriage isn't a guarantee of that kind of relationship, although it does up the odds. You can be married and be more alone that you ever thought possible, and in a special brand of hell invoked by your spouse. It happens. But I agree that the ideal is that marriage means you share the good & bad stuff, and the shared experience somehow makes it all MORE real and more meaningful.

I just can't buy that marriage is an essential act of self-validation. Doesn't work for me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Is Marriage Worth It? Part One: Exponential Impact

This is going to be a multi-post treatise, as you nice people deserve lots of thoughtful responses to your plentiful and varied and splendiferous ideas on marriage.

Today's thought comes from Jessica, who used the 1 + 1= 3 analogy to express that marriage should make each partner more, in fact, should create something new that is greater than simply the sum of the two people.

I like this thought. Here's one tiny reason why:

The ultimate aim and purpose of my life is to serve God and do His work. It seems reasonable to me that marriage should only be worth entering into if it furthers that aim. Let's face it--I have plenty of cynical, pessimistic evidence that marriage can hinder one in accomplishing that task; faith suggests that ideally, marriage enables both partners to rise higher than they would otherwise. It reminds me of the old Quaker saying, "You lift me, and I'll lift thee, and we'll both ascend together." Becky's smart MIL, Camille-The-Goddess-of-Wisdom, addressed something of this a few weeks ago in a comment that has stuck with me, about the concept of 'supporting and sustaining' one's spouse. She pointed out that alternate definitions of the terms refer to broadening and enlarging--which has "broadened" and "enlarged" my understanding of our roles within marriage (sorry--that was shamefully bad).

Here's a question, though. In what ways do you feel/think that marriage allows you to be/do more than you could singly? I have some ideas, but I want to hear from Ye Wise Ones.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reasons to Believe (why yes, I am a child of the 80s--what gave it away?)

I've been a slacker about posting on the JA blog lately, mostly because I moved, and one week later ended up with daughter no. 2 in the hospital, then back in the hospital shortly thereafter, then daughter no. 3 decided to join the fun and develop a scary case of pneumonia. In between all of this, daughter no. 1 was diagnosed with gastritis, the precursor to ulcers, and the one and only son decided it was perfect timing to claim his share of maternal attention by acting like the beastie boy from h$&%.

Needless to say, Jane Austen, romance--or lack thereof--, heck, even reading, period, has been the last thing on my mind.

BUT, I've also had a hard time feeling motivated to care. 99.9% of the time I find myself feeling pretty apathetic toward marriage and relationships. As in, who needs 'em? As in, life is pretty good the way it is. As in, me & God have a good thing going--He's pretty awesome at providing everything we (kids and Mommy) need, so what else is there?

And I feel guilty about feeling this way, because I belong to a church that holds forth that marriage is ordained of God, and I believe that (in a generic, good-for-other-people kind of way), and I want to have a little more conviction when I say it.

So help me out here! Why is marriage worth it? Post a comment, email me, or grab my elbow the next time you see me. Give me your best sell.

Bonus points if you make me laugh out loud. Bigger bonus points if you actually get this cold, cold heart to crack a smitch and say "awwwwww."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Deviating Into the Other Edward's Territory

Megan posted a link to this blog and I couldn't resist passing these two gems along:

Hahaha. We're laughing because it's true. This probably says something sick & twisted about Mormon women. Haha.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Screech! Hitting the Brakes on JA

Okay, life is doing it's normal thing, "the only thing constant is change," blah, blah.

Here's the deal--I have not picked up another JA since finishing Pride & Prejudice a month or so ago.

Deal #2--I''m selling my house and moving to a new one, wrapping up the end of the semester at my busy, albeit fun, job, planning for several new adventures in my professional & personal lives (because I am a cat, apparently, and have several intersecting lives. Or possibly just routine split personalities).

Deal #3-only ONE, got that--ONE person entered this last fabulous JA Challenge, which, I admit, wasn't as fabulous as it could have been. My Resident Relationship Guru has informed me that Heidi was the brave soul who took the plunge. Heidi, my dear, you pick--your very own copy of the Twilight movie (which I'm assuming you already have), or the complete works of Jane Austen (which I'm not sure you'd want...).

Deal #4--This particular JA Challenge is coming back as a lean, mean Jane Austen machine. The RRG did not give me Heidi's entry because we'll include it in the new & improved JA Challenge. I have a simply fabulous prize package planned, so sharpen your pencils and start plotting the Perfect Man. I'll post new details in late-May, after my move. Seriously, it's a gooooood prize. You'll be slobbering.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

JA Challenge II: Flex Your Descriptive Muscles!

Ooh, I'm so excited about this JA Challenge!

It's all about me, Me, ME, which shouldn't surprise anyone, since this entire blog is a massive exercise in self-indulgence where I get to be snobby and whiny and dismissive of the most revered masuline literary heroes, all in a quest to determine what it is, literarily speaking, that makes me go weak in the knees.

Here's the challenge: write a description of The Guy that sets me swooning.

Top Prize: "The Collected Works of Jane Austen" OR the "Twilight" movie--your pick. For those of you who would toss your cookies over either option, I will find something more neutral to satisfy you, should you actually write the winning entry.

Top Runners-Up (however many the Resident Relationship Guru picks): your very own Junie B. Jones book, 'cause you know Junie B. is the queen of relationship sparkies.

How it works:
  • Email your entries to janeaustenblog@gmail.com by April 12. They will be read and sorted by my Resident Relationship Guru, who will select the top 3 or 5 or however many she chooses, to blindly submit to me (meaning I won't know who wrote them). I'll choose the winner, because this is, after all, about ME.
  • Entries can be any style, any length (less is often more, as I tell my students), and you can enter as many times as you want. What exactly is it that makes me go all ga-ga? Is he a handsome, sauve Regency man or a hale & hearty Frontier guy? A contemporary metrosexual kind of man? What is it, in written word, that conveys Perfection Himself? I wish I knew. I'm hoping y'all will enlighten me. Sidenote-- the Resident Relationship Guru is clearly qualified to judge this thing. Over the phone last night she offered up her version of Wendy's Dream Guy. My jaw hit the floor. Plus, I think I drooled. Just a bit.
  • Keep it PG! Okay, maybe PG-13, at worst. Attraction does not equal lust, and some of my blog readers have young and unpolluted minds.
  • All entries may be posted on the blog. Entering the JA Challenge implies consent to use your text.
  • By all means, exploit all the blog posts where I've ranted about what is and is not attractive. If you know me IRL and have additional insight, use that competitive edge. I'll probably even help you, if you ask me.
  • If you are one of my friends in real life, DON'T base Mr. McDreamy on your hubby! I will be soooo icked out if I choose a winner and then realize he lives down the street from me & is married to my workout buddy (not that I'm saying anything about my workout buddies; just using it to illustrate the point). And do you really want my Vision of Male Perfection to be based on your spouse? Eewww. Just don't, that's all.

Questions? Post 'em in the comments section or email 'em to Ms. Relationship Guru at janeaustenblog@gmail.com.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm Just Sayin'...

So last night I had a pretty steamy dream about Andrea Bocelli. Pretty and steamy both. Which is so not me, mostly because I'm not prone to steamy dream (darn! um, maybe that's a good thing...), and also because, while I adore AB's voice, I've never really thought he was a hunka-hunka. Rethinking that one after last night.

However, it brought up something new.

I can "see" lots of pros to having a relationship with a blind man. Really--is there a downside? As an astute friend-who-shall-remain-nameless once said, speaking of her nearsighted husband, "Cellulite doesn't matter if your guy can't see it anyway." Exactly.

For example, another friend, hereafter known as C, married someone who lost his sense of smell as the result of a traumatic accident years ago. According to C, it was hard at first getting used to being with someone who couldn't smell, but "then I realized I could just let a fart rip whenever I wanted, and now one of my fears is that he'll regain his sense of smell and I'll have to start being careful."

There you have it. A new one for the list of virtues.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm In Love

I may have found my Fictionalized Romantic Hero in Pride & Prejudice. Bet you're thinking Darcy does it for me.


I'm all over Mr. Bennet.

Last night I was reading P & P, and laughing, and reading P & P, and laughing, and it clicked--my favorite laugh-out-loud moments are all Mr. Bennet.

Funny is very attractive.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Polishing Off Another Jane (burp)

After a couple of really late (3, 4 am-ish) nights, I finished Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I know this isn't another Jane Austen, but for some strange reason the Jane Austen experiment seems to have unleashed this urge to re-attempt all the classic feminine literature I've spent my life running from.

I know you are dying to hear what I thought.

Too bad.

Just kidding. Seriously, though, I'm in a bit of a quandry over how to discuss this book without getting too personal. For the Queen of TMI, I actually do have a few boundaries about dumping certain things out into the blogosphere, and Jane Eyre is hitting those boundaries.

See, the thing is, I think I married Mr. Rochester. And now I'm divorced from Mr. Rochester. So, on the one hand, I could totally buy the 'romance' because, obviously, in real life, I once-upon-a-time DID fall for it. On the other hand, the older & wiser me was horrified by that naive and stupid little Janie. I do not predict a happy long-term ending for Jane & Edward (what is it with the name Edward? Does it just scream 'romance' to sappy novel writers? Because it doesn't really do it for me. The name alone, that is. But it seems to be some kind of rule for romantic heroes.)

I want so much to go into far greater detail on why the romance in this book concerned me, but I will exercise far greater restraint than I am normally capable of and forebear.

It did, however, give me an idea for another JA Challenge, which I will post later this week ;).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just Wondering...

I'm part way through Pride & Prejudice; both Jane Eyre and Little Women are also on my bedside table. Last night I was reading back and forth between P&P and Jane Eyre (yes, I know I'm weird), and it suddenly hit me:

Why am I searching for my romantic ideal in books written by women who only ever knew romantic IDEALS, not marital realities?

Does it seem odd to anyone else?

Because honestly, sometimes JA seems really naive about male-female relationships, and that's not just my cynicism speaking. This whole JA experiment has helped me do a lot of thinking about what kinds of literature speak to me, and one thing I've realized is that I'm drawn to stories of very complex, conflicted, REAL relationships--you know, the kind that normal, screwed up human beings have. I'm far less interested in the feel-good sparks of initial love, and far more interested in how people make it work, year after year, decade after decade, loving and arguing and making up and raising kids and working hard and having up times and down times and sick times and healthy times and sad times and joyous times. Those are the stories I like.

Just something to think about.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

And the Winner Is...

I passed all entries in the JA "Finish the Line" contest on to my friend Leigh Ann, who is far more of a JA/writing expert than I will ever be. Added bonus--the choosing was on her shoulders, not mine, so no cries of judicial partiality (holy heck, can you believe I just used "judicial partiality" in a real sentence? Sometimes I amaze myself. Sometimes I make myself gag, too).

The Winner:

“I was afraid you would think I was taking a great liberty with you—after all I did take your favorite soap and used it all up. But you can't imagine how dirty I was, really. When that blasted horse, Parsival, unsaddled me I landed right in the biggest pile of sh-... pastoral dropp-..., in some mud. I promise to ride into town this afternoon and get you some more. Do you like the floral or fruit scented soaps?"

"Edward, you worry yourself too much about soap," said Elinor with all the compassion of a vicar. "Besides, that was Marianne's soap and she doesn't wash much now that Willoughby has left ."

"Oh, good. I mean not good that she's not bathing-" he stumbled over his words, nervous to be in the presence of this plain yet sensible lady, "good, because I can be here with you and not out with that gluepot of a--, ah never mind, horses will be horses." Edward stood up, straightened his jacket then offered Elinor his arm, "shall we take a turn in the garden?"

Leigh Ann's official critique:

"First Place: 'I was afraid you would think I was taking a great liberty with you'--I could vividly imagine this being a scene in the book!"

There you have it.

The wonderful little prize is a $25 gift card for Dover Books, where classic literature is cheap, cheap, cheap, and you can get a boxful of yummy reading for pennies.

Becky-lou, congrats. I sent the gc via email a few minutes ago. Enjoy!

Thanks to everyone who sent entries. It was super fun reading them. We'll have to do this again.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Laboratory Findings

Page 129, Pride & Prejudice

Apparently I do have some estrogen running through my veins after all. Wait--does estrogen run through the bloodstream? I think it must. Relying on several years of infertility testing, I can say with authority that estrogen can be detected in blood, urine, and saliva. Maybe sweat, too, but I've never had to give a sweat sample.

Anyhoo, Pride & Prejudice...LOVING IT! Did you get that? I AM LOVING THIS BOOK!

It's not the 'romance' that is doing anything for me--I don't give a fig about Darcy. This is just a seriously engaging, funny, brilliantly well-written book. I started laughing on the first page and haven't stopped. I've been using bits and pieces of the book to reward myself for completing tasks on my extremely overloaded to-do list this week.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is hope for the Jane Austen experiment.

Monday, March 2, 2009

At Last!

Sense & Sensibility finally bit the dust! Somewhere in the skies over Ohio or Indiana or some midwestern state, I polished that sucker off.

I have to admit, the last third of the book was more tolerable than what preceded it, but that's kind of like saying that the last stages of chemo & radiation are more tolerable than the initial stages--still not something you'd ever like to do or recommend to others. Keep in mind, too, that the last third of the book was completed during a loooong cross-country flight, and may have been more interesting simply because it was better than staring out the window at the clouds.

Once the book was finished I was going to attempt watching the Emma Thompson film version again, but I just don't think I hate myself that much.

PS--this is just between us: thanks to an airport bookstore in Cincinnati, I started Pride & Prejudice on the return flight. Don't tell anyone, but I might actually be enjoying it. Shhh....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Emotional Honesty Is SOOOO Hot

A couple of weeks ago a friend handed me a little sticky note with http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/ written on it. I promptly stuffed it in my purse and forgot about it. A few days ago I found the note and pulled up the site.

Ooh-la-la, ladies, I was fanning myself off in my comfortably cool office. That there blog story is just a-swimming in romance. I swear, I could feel the sparks flying all the way through my computer. The screen practically fogged over.

Being me, I had to deconstruct this a bit. For one thing, I do NOT--repeat, NOT--like cowboys in any way, shape or form. Growing up in rodeo country cured me of any possible shreds of physical attraction to that brand of men. There is absolutely no room in my romantic fantasies for cowboys. So why on earth was I lusting after Pioneer Woman's Marlboro Man? And hiney tingles? Seriously? I didn't know whether to puke or laugh out my nose. And yet, there I was, salivating on the keyboard, breathlessly clicking through each post.

Number one thing to note: there is loads and loads and LOADS of making out in Ms. PW's story. Scrolling through page after page of uber-passionate kisses and gigantically romantic snuggles and barely-veiled hints of more is bound to raise the temperature. I'm not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it's at least a partial explanation for the workout my planner got fanning the air in front of the computer.

Number two thing to note: emotional honesty is SOOOOO hot.

Did you get that? Really, really HOT.

There is just something totally irresistible about a man with the courage and honesty to put his feelings out there. Guys, well--straight guys anyway, if you are taking notes, note this: women just melt when you put yourself on the line. I'm not talking about emotional neediness or manipulation here. I'm talking the strength and self-confidence that says "I can walk away if she doesn't want me, but I want her so much that it's worth the risk to open myself up." Yowsers! That is just so dang sexy!
Important disclaimer here: I do remember a few times in my earlier dating life that a perfectly nice guy expressed an interest in me and for whatever reason, I didn't reciprocate those feelings. His laying it on the line did not melt me into a little puddle of wanting him. But the thing is, every single time, it made that guy jump up a notch or two in my estimation, because you can't help but be impressed when someone has the guts to risk rejection and be up front about what he wants. And even if the guy reminds you of a frog and that's why you just aren't interested no matter how nice he is, it's still flattering that someone with that kind of strength and honesty of character would be interested in you.

And in case you want to argue with me, that cowboys are actually hot...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Completely Self-Indulgent Book List That Partially Justifies Not Finishing Sense & Sensibility Yet

Just to make myself feel better, here is a list of books I’ve read since January 1, during the same approximate time that I’ve been trudging through Sense & Sensibility:

“A Single Life” by Kristen M. Oaks. I expected it to be cheesy; it was. It was also unexpectedly candid, honest, and refreshingly positive.

“Gods Behaving Badly” by Marie Phillips. Clever, often hilarious, and chock full of wry commentary on this strange contemporary society we live in. Thanks to this book I now know that apparently I DO have a limit as to how much XXXXXX (okay, I just went back and deleted the sentence I had written, as I don’t want any of my younger readers asking their parents what I meant). Let’s just say this is quite a naughty book and leave it at that.

“The Ultimate Career” by Daryl Hoole. I know, I know, I felt like a traitor to my feminist roots. But the thing is, I actually found some good ideas for taking care of my house and kids, and that’s worth something.

“Broken Things to Mend” by Jeffrey R. Holland. What can I say—is there anything NOT to like in Elder Holland’s writings?

“The Wish List” by Eoin Colfer. Kind of dull and uninspired. Felt like a tepid, watered down version of The Screwtape Letters, which didn’t work for me at all. Give me good ol’ Clive Staples Lewis any day.

“Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception” by Eoin Colfer. I do not approve of authors killing off perfectly nice characters. Who does Colfer think he is—J.K. Rowling? Tsk, tsk.

“Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident” by Eoin Colfer. I thought I was catching up on the Artemis Fowl books; Christian informed me that I’m mistaken. On the bright side, there are two more A.F. books waiting for me! March's reading list just got happier.

“Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty & the Beast” by Robin McKinley. Fine, if you want to read the Disney version of B & B all over again. I had to repent after being annoyed all the way through the book when I discovered that the Disney version was based on McKinley’s book, not the other way around. If only I had read it before I saw Miss-Provincial-Life-Disneyesque-Belle.

“The Blue Sword” by Robin McKinley. This book is so not my friend. I don’t want to rehash all the reasons; let’s just leave it that I don’t recommend it AT ALL.

“The Hero & The Crown” by Robin McKinley. On the other hand, THIS book is my friend. It was the most enjoyable read I’ve had in awhile. The romance even mostly worked for me. Because of this book I’d read McKinley again.

“Larklight” by Phillip Reeve. Okay, I said the above book was the most enjoyable because I hadn’t read this one yet. If books were men I’d be in love with this one. Well, I don’t know if I’d be in love romantically speaking, or in love as in wanting to take it home and be it’s mommy. What an inventive, brilliant, super fun flight of fantasy! I can’t wait to read more by Reeve. Days later I was still giggling over some of the lines, and still mulling over some of the deeper themes explored in this YA novel. Five stars!

“Purity & Passion” by Wendy Watson (Nelson). Third time through. It’s that good.

There! It may take me an obscenely long time to trudge through Jane Austen, but hopefully I’ve at least partially redeemed shreds of my literary reputation (not that the books listed above qualify me as much of a literary person. They are, however, proof that I do read from time to time).

I’m taking Sense and Sensibility with me this week as my in-flight reading. If I can’t polish off a dull book in dull airports, there is officially no hope. Wish me luck.

PS--Send me your gems for the JA challenge in my last post! I found a cool prize and the perfect person to choose a winner, so give me enough lines to make her job hard ;).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sense and Sensibility Insanity

Sense and Sensibility is quite possibly the most boring book I've ever read. I haven't posted because I’ve rather assumed that no one is interested in reviewing my progress through Sense and Sensibility, as it would go something like this:

Page 69: SS is so dull.

Page 94: SS is so dull.

Page 108: SS is so dull.

Page 121: Did I mention that SS is extremely dull? And this Edward gives the name a bad—and very dull—taste.

Nor would you care that this book is so extremely dull that I’ve been forced to rethink the entire Jane Austen experiment, wondering what masochistic urge made me think it would be a good idea to attempt surviving even one JA tome, let alone six. My conclusion: I am obscenely pig-headed, to a really ridiculous degree. Even though it may just kill me, I WILL read every single one of these blasted books.

However, SS is becoming deathly, to the point that I can’t justify continuing to read it unless I liven things up a bit.

Here’s your challenge:

Choose one of the following lines from the book and complete it in a much more lively and INTERESTING fashion. Example: “Poor thing—she looks very bad (original line). Indeed, if I had her face I should keep myself indoors during all day hours and full moons. She is a living warning for the wisdom of judicious cosmetic application” (new line). PS--feel free to do more than one if inspiration strikes, and please feel free to share the fun and pass the challenge to witty friends :).

Post your completed line as a comment or email it me. I’ll include them all in a new post, and most certainly award prizes for the most dastardly/brilliant/clever lines. Isn’t this WAY more fun than reading Sense and Sensibility?

1.) “I was afraid you would think I was taking a great liberty with you—“

2.) “It is a beautiful country, but these bottoms must be dirty in winter”

3.) “I have been open and sincere where I ought to have been reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful”

4.) “If he were ever animated enough to be in love, must have long outlived every sensation of the kind—“

Friday, February 6, 2009

Forget Janie; I'll Stick With Junie

We have discovered the wonder of Junie B. Jones at our house. In honor of the coming holiday, we read "Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime" yesterday. And it happened! It really happened! Little flickers of something twittery flashed from the ashes of my cold, cold heart.

"He rocked back and forth on his feet very bashful.

'You make Room Nine sparky,' he said kind of quiet.

After that, he smiled very cute. And he poked my arm with his finger. And he made a sparky sound. 'Zzzt!' he said. 'Zzzzt! Zzzzt!'

I laughed very loud. And I sparked him right back. 'Zzzt! Zzzzt!' I said.

And so guess what? Then me and that silly guy started chasing each other all over Room Nine. And we kept poking and sparking! And it was the funnest game I ever even heard of!"

So, maybe Jane Austen doesn't do it for me. I don't really want to think about what it might mean that I found more romance in kindergarten lit. But I think Junie B. is on to something. Really, doesn't every woman want to make some man's world all sparky? And whether you're five or thirty-five, poking and sparking IS the funnest game ever (sorry--couldn't resist that one).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some of You Will Appreciate This...

the rest will be as confused as I am.

From "Seeking Enlightenment Hat by Hat: A Skeptic's Path to Religion," by Nevada Barr (the February "It's-Not-a-Book-Club" shindig-thingy book--Friday, Feb. 2oth, 8:30, my house, if you're interested):

"My friend Debra once defined optimism as walking into a bookstore thinking 'hey, maybe there'll be a new Jane Austen' " (23).

1.) I feel betrayed by Nevada Barr--I never would have pegged her for a JA lover. And if SHE, Ms. Dark & Twisted & Absolutely-NOT-Romantic-In-Any-Way Suspense Author, gets this whole JA thing, I'm really screwed (up).

2.) Um, is it just me or is there a difference between optimism and just plain stupid? Optimism would be walking into a bookstore thinking, 'hey--making J.K. Rowling decided to add another volume to the HP series,' or 'hey, maybe Stephenie Meyers published a graphic novel version of Twilight.' This is optimistic because both JK & Stephenie are STILL ALIVE, and therefore there is always the chance, however teeny, that your optimism could be justified and it might actually happen. But hoping for a 200-years dead author to suddenly pop off with a new addition to the canon strikes me as more on the 'stupid' end of the optimism spectrum.

3.) So, is this brand of 'optimism' a hallmark of JA fans? Because that would explain why I can't seem to share the joy. It would also make me feel better about not enjoying the books so much...

4.) Blogging out loud: maybe this is a tad bit personal for me because the MFKAMH frequently called me a pessimist. I prefer to think of it as pragmatic realism, and his brand of optimism as 'living in la-la land.' And really, which one is a happier place to be? If I expect the worst, 99% of the time I'll be delightfully surprised by just how joyful life actually is. If you live in la-la land and honestly think that maybe one of these days there will be a new JA, or the money fairies will give you millions of dollars just because you're so darn cute, or your wife will somehow never find out what's really going on...well, dang--you're just setting yourself up for chronic disappointment. Personally, I'd rather be surprised by joy. Mmm...that sounds like a C.S. Lewis title. Oh wait--it IS a C.S. Lewis title. Now there's an author I can enjoy anytime. I can read him on a plane, I can read him on a train, I can read him in the dark, I can read him on a lark, I can read him with a moose, I can read him just like Suess.

Okay, I'll stop now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Musings on Sense & Sensibility Thus Far

Janie and I are in agreement (kinda):

"He is such a charming man, that it is quite a pity he should be so grave and dull" (77).

Amen, sister! Why, oh why, does Jane Austen believe that boring = appealing? I'm on page 93 of Sense and Sensibility, and I don't believe I've ever read more dull 'romantic heroes' than Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon. I can't even think of anything funny or remotely witty to say about them because they are just so blah.

Goodness, virtue, kindness, and rectitude are necessary in Romantic Guy-Types, but it is possible to be all those things AND at least a tiny bit interesting, too.

Shall I note that one on my Future Guy list? "Must have at least a speck of humor, a wee bit of charm, and a smidgen of personality, in addition to all the essential virtues." Is this asking too much? Are my expectations too high? Am I completely unrealistic and unreasonable?

I confess, at this point my sympathies are more with Marianne.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Catch-up on "Clueless"

Confession: I'm on page 66 of Sense & Sensibility, and I kinda want to blog about it thus far, but I feel compelled to wrap up Emma completely before moving on, and that means covering Clueless from last Friday. Random observations:

1.) I was highly distracted from the movie by having so many of my favorite people all in the same room at the same time.

2.) That sugar stuff on the truffles was a touch of divine inspiration.

3.) I think I prefer the tahini recipe of hummus better than the olive oil one, although the OO one certainly hit the spot.

4.) Alicia Silverstone has a weird mouth. Not bad-weird, just "I-can't-exactly-figure-out-what-it-is" weird.

5.) Stacey Dash is GORGEOUS. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. I just did a quick search for a pic to include in this post and most of them are semi-porno nudie shots with a hand covering strategic places. Well. I'll give her gorgeous; modest is apparently another issue.

6.) Hehe. Turk was in that movie. Turk with braces. I love Donald Faison. In a brother way. Like a cute, annoying little brother way.

7.) The convoluted relationship created to explain how the psuedo-Knightely could be sort of like a brother, yet not, didn't really work for me. Neither did the age gap. Neither did that whole relationship. But if anyone could have pulled it off, Alicia Silverstone could have done it. I was impressed in spite of myself.

8.) I'm still cracking up. During the 'bedroom' scene, Eric and I were feeling empathy for two totally different characters, for two totally different reasons. So cute!

9.) All said, it was a pretty clever, fun adaptation of Emma. Who knew?
10.) I'm pretty sure I would have turned it off after a few minutes if I were on my own. Being in good company definitely improved the film.
11.) It took me until yesterday to fully catch up on my sleep. Still worth it :)
12.) How cool is it that two of my favorite people were already favorite people together and we didn't even know it??!!! Having friends is great; sharing friends is even better.
Thanks for sharing the adventure--and the cold family room--with me!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Jane: "The Scottish Chiefs"

If goodness and virtue are the primary measuring sticks for my Romantic Ideal, this book had 'em in spades. Ms. Porter has some high ideals for romantic love, and I found myself mostly nodding along in agreement.

"Love, true heaven-born love, that pure affection which unites congenial spirits here, and with which the Creator will hereafter connect in one blest fraternity the whole kindred of mankind, has but one cause, The universal fairness of its object!--that bright perfection, which speaks of unchangeableness and immortality; a something so excellent, that the simple wish to partake of its essence, in the union of affection, to facilitate and to share its attainmentof true and lasting happiness, invigorates our virtue, and inspires our souls. These are the aims and joys of real love. It has nothing selfish: in every desire it soars above this earth; and anticipates, as the ultimatum of tis joy, the moment it shall meet its partner before the throne of God" (570).

I can't do justice to the book in this brief and limited review. It is well worth reading for the historical perspective and literary experience; I found it a fascinating saturation in gender identity, sexuality, concepts of self vs. community, nationalism, and pre-feminism. For purposes of this blog, however, I'll focus exclusively on how the book does or does not match my Romantic Ideal Personified in Fiction, or in other words, what does this book teach me about the Future Guy?

I've gotta say, I was right there with Ms. Jane Porter-Author-Lady, and William Wallace was looking mighty fine, right up to the very end. Nearing page 700, Willie and Helen finally get together, in true High-Flown-Ideal-Love fashion, with a prison cell/death bed marriage proposal. They know they only have a few days together as husband and wife before Willie-boy heads to the scaffold. So they sleep together. And by this I mean, literally SLEEP together. She falls asleep on his breast; he falls asleep in her arms. And that's it. Oh, in between long and flowery speeches about the purity of their love. This is not just a period convention from the authoress--she makes it very clear that absolutely no hanky-panky is going on. Their love is so pure and righteous and perfect that physical consummation would just be wrong. Willie refers to her as his "virgin bride," and Helen rapturously raves over the *blessing* of having her marriage bed also be her death bed. They refer to each other again and again as brother and sister (which kinda turned my stomach a bit, I've got to say), and thank God for this honorable and virtuous (read--sexless) love they share.

I'm all for purity, virtue, goodness, honor...the whole shebang. Without them, relationships--most especially marital relationships--are worthless. But I'm just not buying the whole "no-sex" thing.

To quote someone far wiser and with far greater authority in these matters than myself:

"...Human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God...physical intimacy is not only a symbolic union between a husband and a wife—the very uniting of their souls—but it is also symbolic of a shared relationship between them and their Father in Heaven. He is immortal and perfect. We are mortal and imperfect. Nevertheless we seek ways even in mortality whereby we can unite with Him spiritually. In so doing we gain some access to both the grace and the majesty of His power. Those special moments include kneeling at a marriage altar in the house of the Lord, blessing a newborn baby, baptizing and confirming a new member of the Church, partaking of the emblems of the Lord’s Supper, and so forth. These are moments when we quite literally unite our will with God’s will, our spirit with His spirit, where communion through the veil becomes very real. At such moments we not only acknowledge His divinity but we quite literally take something of that divinity to ourselves" (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Personal Purity,” Ensign, Nov 1998, 75)

I'm tempted to expound on this thought, but I think I'll just let it rest.

Good read, though. Lessons to file away in Wendy's Romantic Ideal File:
Purity, goodness, selflessness = Very Good Things.
Marital sex = Also a Very Good Thing.

Willie-boy is so, so, so very close to the Romantic Ideal. I really thought he was it. But, as I told Ms. Becky, if I ever brave wedded bliss again I DEFINITELY expect some sheet dancing--this celibate-marriage stuff is a load of hooey!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Clueless Reminder

Just a quick reminder & disclaimer:

Clueless, my house, this Friday, 8:30pm. Email or call if you need directions. Bring food if you want, but don't feel obligated--this isn't a potlucked-refreshment type of activity.

Normally I never bother apologizing for my house because I figure that if you are visiting me, you are my friend and you A.) know that housecleaning is rather far down the list of my priorities, B.) like me anyway, and C.) are used to it. But given the complete blitz-o of snow we've had recently, and the hours upon hours I've spent shoveling snow instead of, say, doing dishes and laundry, or even more essential things like showering and sleeping, it's looking bad even by my standards. And yes, the Christmas tree is still up.

Ignore the house. Come watch Clueless and enjoy good--albeit slightly snooty--company :).

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Diversion from Jane

Since the over-arching purpose to this noble quest was to determine what exactly in fiction hits my romance bone (assuming that I have one), I have been working in a few diversions to Ms. Jane along the way.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis didn't do much for my romance bone but it did tickle my funny bone, and even better garnered a few appreciative grins and chuckles just for the sheer pleasure of reading something so cleverly intelligent disguised as your basic sci-fi/fantasy/time-travel/whatever the heck genre you'd call it.

On the "romance" side, it offered these little gems:

"Even lying there with her greenish-brown eyes closed and her mouth half-open, drooling gently onto a mildewed boat cushion, she was still the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen" (231).

"I'm completely recovered. I don't find you attractive at all" (260).

"He refused, we quarreled, and he threw me in the river, and then he kissed me, and oh, Mama, it was so romantic!" (379)

I just started "The Scottish Chiefs" by Jane Porter, on Trenya's recommendation for feeling twitterpated. That 700+ page book of teeny, weeny print is somewhat daunting.

Onward and upward!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Warning: This Post is Rated P for Sexual Innuendo (Betcha Want to Know What P Stands For)

I can't lay Emma to rest until I survive Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. Such a thing should not be attempted alone. As I said to a friend likewise untouched by Alicia S, "Let's be Clueless virgins together and lose our innocence in a group setting. Oh wait, that didn't come out quite right..."

Therefore, slacker that I am, we're skipping the sparkling, witty, and clever (read: pretentious and snobby) literary salon for January in favor of Emma dressed up in Hollywood's version of teen angst. Besides, I need an excuse to mop my floor since last month's shindig.

My house, Friday, January 9, 8:30pm. Bring cushions, pillows, blankets, and any other creature comforts desired, as my family room contains one lumpy futon and a hard wooden rocker and sometimes gets so cold that I avoided that level of the house entirely for months after watching Sixth Sense. Rumor has it that the Divine Miss B might bring her World-Famous Chocolate Truffles, but I'm not telling anyone that because I like our small, intimate, and snobby gatherings, and being overrun by the entire neighborhood would be so plebian. Though understandable, if you've had the truffles.

PS--come even if your Clueless virginity was lost long ago. We'll engage in verbal intercourse, strictly parthenogenetically speaking.