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21ST CENTURY DATING
Column by Jen Frankel!


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computer woman21ST CENTURY DATING
Column

by Jen Frankel

TWO MINUTES ON A HOT STOVE

Dating in the Land of Shallow Perspective

Came across an unlikely Einstein quote the other day:

"When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it seems like two minutes. When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it seems like two hours that's relativity." -- Albert Einstein

Now, that's pithy.

Sometimes, though, I can't help wishing for the hot stove.

I've waded back a bit into the world of "getting to know members of the opposite sex while single," and I must admit, it's about as depressing an exercise as ever.

We worry about the fragile nature of our natures, our tender feelings, our desires. Life is one big, constantly looping replay of the song "I Want You To Want Me."

But we like to pretend we're different, because it reduces the possibility that we'll have to genuinely get and empathize with someone we want something from. That "something" could be unconditional love and understanding, or it could be "stay the hell away." But if we start off with the theory that true communication between the sexes is impossible, we take away any thought that the responsibility for communication problems is actually our fault.

Besides the fact that this is monumentally insulting for anyone who considers his- or herself an individual, it totally defeats the purpose of getting to know a person. If I can predict he'll do "guy-things" when I do "girl-things," it ain't a relationship, it's a sitcom.

We rely on what I call the "low denominator facts," the pretense that we can almost guess what a member of the opposite sex is thinking or will do based solely on stereotypes. Worse, we judge each other primarily on what we see when we first look.

Part of the problem is we have a lot of trouble getting over externals. That's not a wholly bad thing, because it's impossible NOT to be somewhat influenced by how another person looks, and whether or not that turns your crank.

But it's very dangerous if that's the ONLY thing you think about.

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Recently, a lawyer in the States argued that his pedophile client shouldn't go to jail because she's just too damn good looking. Forget the fourteen-year old student she slept with. She deserves special treatment because she's hot.

He says that putting her into general population would be like throwing raw meat to a bunch of wolves. Ignore for a moment how unappetizing a juxtaposition that is (I don't think there'll ever be a song called "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Hunk of Raw Meat") and let's examine the implications.

Now, maybe he really has the security of the prison system at heart. Maybe he's just trying, like a good citizen, to help us avoid a potential riot.

But I think he's really telling us that a majority of us are dumb enough and shallow enough that a pretty face can sway us from any belief we have in the justice system. And that, given a woman who's attractive enough, we are all just helpless victims of an inbred urge we can never resist.

That's gross.

To be honest, I don't see anything pretty about her. When I heard what she'd done -- becoming sexually involved with a student in her care -- she got ugly.

face As we evolve (and I mean individually this time, as we grow and hopefully mature), we should be more aware of our knee-jerk reactions to everything, from insults to, yes, beauty, and we should learn to put even Giselle Bundchen into perspective. After all, tabloids and layouts aside, what do you really know about her?

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All I ask anytime is to be treated like a person, encountered as if I'm an intriguing unknown, not just the end result of millennia of evolutionary sexual . If you get to know me and discover I'm a walking, breathing Barbie doll with air where my brain should be, then for sure treat me like plastic. Otherwise, keep your damn assumptions to yourself.

We're at our worst when we lock ourselves into those narrow camps of "man" and "woman." There's a huge richness of experience and connection available that has nothing to do with gender - although it's nice when it has something to do with sex...

Me, I like to look at good looking guys, but the pleasure stops if I don't see a sparkle in his eye that indicates an interest in life, if I hear him running down people with cruelty and malice, or if I see him kick a cat. I also like to listen to a guy I might never pick out of a magazine spread as a hunk who shows intelligence, or humor, or keen observations on human nature - who, in other words, just gets more and more attractive as he shows his true self. Then, I know I'm encountering a person who doesn't just get by on the excuse that men are men and women are women and the great evolutionary impulse to mate is all we have to hold us together.

Because otherwise, to paraphrase Einstein, sometimes being with a guy can be like two minutes on a hot stove.


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21ST CENTURY DATING