And The Winner Is…..

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Image by mrhands- via Flickr

And The Winner Is….

“Men are like pumpkins. It seems like all the good ones are either taken or they’ve had everything scraped out of their heads with a spoon.” Anonymous

According to the Chinese calendar, 2009 was the Year of the Ox.  Yet, 2009 was also a year dominated by H1N1 and men behaving badly. For all intents and purposes, it was the Year of The Swine.  It is appropriate on Valentine’s Day that we should always pay homage to those committed souls who understand that a lasting relationship is a lifetime achievement.  To remain faithful in an age that condones common law relations in lieu of marriage, transient “hook ups” and “don’t ask, don’t tell” liaisons is no easy feat.  It is like trying to whistle one’s way through a candy store while on a diet.

Men and women navigate these straits of fidelity differently. Men struggle at times with the concept of monogamy.  For all their bravado, men possess fragile egos that can enlarge or be damaged by seemingly prosaic events leading them to become more vulnerable to the siren’s call of life’s lost souls and home wreckers. Iconoclast Oscar Wilde saw men clearly as raw physical forces of nature.  In their pursuit of ego and power, men roam the world root out validation the way a swine might forage for truffles in the forest. “A man can be happy with any woman” mused the indulgent Victorian, “as long as he does not love her”

And so it has been since our meager beginnings as creatures creeping out of mud and dark waters, men continue to screw up a good thing.  Hubris, self-pity and the invention of hair coloring products have ruined more marriages and relationships than eating crackers in bed. Each year, a new class of “pigs” is admitted to the pantheon of philanderers, cheats and “is he out of his freaking mind” losers.  These offenders are indeed in dubious company.  The Hall of Shame is a who’s who of  “my will be done” piglets whose serial indiscretions visit shame and pain on anyone within a 200 miles radius.  They are politicians, CEOs, talk show hosts, average Joes and yes, even religious leaders.The more pious the offender, the porkier the pretender appears to us when they are finally outed for their reckless indiscretions.

2009 was quite a year for the sultans of swine.  This year we have chosen a Whitman’s Sampler of Valentine offenders who are all in contention for Swine of the Year.  It was a close race and our judges – John Gray (Men Are from Mars), Maureen Dowd (Men Should be Killed), Hillary Clinton (I Am Secretly A Man) and Regis Philbin (I am Secretly a Woman) were challenged to produce a single winner who validated the old saying that, “men marry women assuming they will never change.  Women marry men assuming they will change.”

After much deliberation, we offer for your approval a troika of tomcats who have managed to monopolize the media, ruin their careers and cause every man to feel guilty even when he has done nothing wrong. No words can truly describe just how far back these heels have set back male/female relations.  However, we have tried to memorialize their Win, Place and Show actions as a reminder to others that slime does not pay – -but the celebrity gossip group TMZ does. In winning the coveted Divine Swine award, these pigs have in their own way, helped families across America and have begun to establish fact patterns for women who are worried that partner is cavorting with a home wrecking strumpet.  Yes,  these 2009 “boys will be boys” curly-tailed infidels stooped lower than a well digger’s shoes. Let’s meet them, shall we?

(Applause)

Third Place Swiney – Governor Mark Sanford. This pig hails from the state that has a history of being the first to behave badly.  South Carolina was first to fire on the US in the civil war, and first to secede from the union – – as was its governor who seceded from his marriage after using tax payer money to carry on with an Argentine mistress.

Sanford caused a media sensation when he dropped off the radar for several days while the state legislature was in session. The father of four claimed that he was doing “foreign policy” research during his frequent trips to South America. We now know he was not camping in the Andes to clear his mind. He left his pup-tent at home along with his dignity.

What really distinguished this particular wild boar from the other straying swine was his public admission that he was indeed in love with his younger mistress who he considered his “soul mate.” He went on to say that he was going to return to his wife, Jenny, of 20 years to “try to fall back in love”.  The only thing he did not say was that he and his wife had one thing in common – they both love the same person. Yet, the Love Guv has met his match. Ms Sanford is no slouch.  She is a former VP of M&A at Lazard, tough campaign manager and the heiress to the Skil Power Tool fortune. She has now realized that she married the biggest tool of them all.

Second Place Swiney – Tiger Woods.  What can one say about this wax winged God of the dimpled ball who fell faster than the’ 08 Dow? Turns out Tiger was leading a double life and Scandinavian wife, Elin, did not clue in that the text messages signed “LOL” meant “lot’s of lap-dancing”.  The inch wide and a mile deep, uber athlete had an awkward, underdeveloped adolescence where he had not been allowed to play spin the bottle until he was 24.  According to Tiger’s high school sweetheart, Dina Parr, Father Earl, was also a serial slicer, known to occasionally drive out of bounds with female “friends”.

Tiger was not just leading a double life – he was playing an extra eighteen after the course had been closed.  Apparently his night vision goggles were not quite as keen as his light of day Tiger’s eye. As the legions of augmented, collagen lipped trollops crawled out from underneath bar stools and slid down stripper poles to greet us, we were expected to believe that these wholesome girls next door were really victims and that Tiger was just having, well – a putting problem.

You have to hand it to Woods and his spin doctor caddies.  They tore a page out of the Book of Really Lame Excuses and announced that the PGA pro was suffering from “sex addiction”.  He joins a long bread line of wayward souls who have finally found a clinical term to justify acting on the belief that the grass is greener on the other course. Have some empathy! This is a sickness. Just watch Dr Drew and Celebrity Rehab – Sex Addiction. Imagine if the stomach flu involved that much fun.  The clincher that cemented Eldrick Woods as our runner –up 2009 number two piglet was his rumored assertion to Elin that “none of the women meant anything. “

We have saved the best for last.  This human manatee has taken slime ball to a new level leaving his super libido pals behind to play handball against the curb. What is it about the Carolinas that spawns these swamp things with antlers the size of continents and brains the size of electrons?

Let’s give a southern “Deliverance”, Ned Beatty, pig squeal for our winning divine swine of the year – – VP, Presidential and STD candidate, ex-North Carolina Senator John Edwards.  This lying, pathetic sack of self deception fell into a deep coma of denial as he philandered with a bizarre earth mother who followed him 24/7 as his personal campaign videographer.  A recent kiss and tell book by ex-aide, Andrew Young called “The Politician” has unmasked this hypocritical scumbag (who made millions as an ambulance chasing, medical malpractice attorney) as a pathological liar and ego maniac.  Old “Love Lips” denied and then, when confronted with DNA evidence, admitted to being the father of Reille Hunter’s child – – carrying on while wife Elizabeth was being treated for terminal cancer.  Spouse Elizabeth is not entirely a poster child for “victim” according to Young, who claims she possesses a rather flinty and ambitious personality.  However, no amount of character defects can justify the senator’s frequent indiscretions and his duplicitous contempt for everyone that he was charged with serving or supporting.  Young portrays Edwards “as preening and arrogant, an Atkins dieter who hated making campaign stops at state fairs where ‘fat rednecks try to shove food down my face.’ Edwards was overheard to hiss,” I may have to represent them but I do not have to eat with them.”

Sen. Edwards is perhaps our most compelling choice in quite some time. He has carved a grand canyon of disappointment as a human being and a politician ( you notice that I distinguish between the two )  Edwards was portrayed to America as a pious, church going family man who was desperate to champion the cause of the little man.  Instead he chose to sire a little lady out of wed-lock with a Haight-Ashbury throwback who believes that their love child is “a golden messiah… the reincarnated spirit of a Buddhist monk who is going to help save the world.” One thing this miracle baby cannot save is Mr. Pig’s career, reputation and future as a reality TV star.  Possible contestants with Citizen Edwards on Celebrity Rehab – Lower Than Lowe (That’s Rob Lowe) will include 2001 Swiney winner, OJ Simpson, Son of Sam and Richard Simmons.

And there you have it – our 2010 Swine.  For 2011, we plan on expanding our ” Swiney” awards to include subcategories of cheating wives, star-crossed lovers and those caught en flagrante dilecto.  There is so much material and so little time.

However, do not let this dark Valentine drive you into the provinces of the cynical.  Love remains eternal, sacred and the essence of our human journey.  It is only through giving it away, that we can possibly hope to find it. The goal, as one poet shared, is to fall in love and keep falling in love with the same person – again and again.

Just make sure it’s the same person.

A Little Romance

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Image by x-ray delta one via Flickr

 

A Little Romance

 

Men are like a fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and it’s our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you’d like to have at dinner” Kathleen Mifsud

Men and woman have a different definition of what “romantic” means.  To psychologists, a romantic state is an endorphin and dopamine fueled experience – – a neurochemical “matrix” that allows us to see things as we want them as opposed to the way that they really are.  Romance’s accessories are lighting, old movies, alcohol, nostalgia and anywhere in Europe.  Men, generally do not get high marks for being romantic.  They are “explicit “creatures, and much further down the emotional evolutionary chain.  Men, like Pokemon, evolve in stages.  Most start in the “Pig “stage, a sort of larval state where everything is about them.  They eat, sleep, make noises, don’t call back and tell their friends everything that happened on your date. In time, life punishes this behavior and men move to the “Clueless“ stage.  Cluelessness is most commonly characterized by the statement, “what did I do? “ Clueless men take a three day trip with their college buddies every year and always come home too tired to take out the trash. Finally, after dedicated coaching and nights on the couch, men begin to walk erect and enter the “Considerate” stage.  This final stage is fragile and highly vulnerable to regression back to Clueless or even Pig phases.  Maintaining the Considerate stage requires years of marriage, therapy or the ability to admit to at least three Pigs that you cried during the movie “Brokeback Mountain”. Pigs can sometimes pose as Considerates.  However, they inevitably get caught.

There are documented records of an even higher stage called “Romantic” but it seems no male has ever been able to truly stay in this position.  It is a bit like climbing Mt Everest and being over 22,000 feet.  It is a death zone where no one can survive. Remaining in this zone too long begins to psychologically damage a male.  Binary brains cannot function with open ended questions such as “what are you thinking “and “who would you have married if you did not marry me?” Romance by its sheer nature is built on the seemingly conflicting virtues of spontaneity and meticulous preparation.  Therapists refer to it in metaphoric terms such as “setting the table” or “playing the mood music”. Men generally fail to understand the concept of playing mood music.  Men are rap musicians and clanging gongs.  They are overt, direct and venal.  Men march out to the windy plain and fight the enemy until the death.  Women, on the other hand, are folk musicians and piccolos.  They prefer to move stealthily, never engaging in direct confrontation, slowly winning a war of attrition through relentless passive aggressive behavior.

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love – women like to be a man’s last romance.”   – Oscar Wilde

The fact is if romance was a shirt, men would buy ten of them and be out of the store in five minutes.  Men don’t generally like ballads or love songs by Cole Porter.  They hate poetry. Walt Whitman?  Uh….wasn’t he…? ……Not that there is anything wrong with

that.! Shelley, Keats and Yeats? Weren’t those the names of the girls on Charlie’s Angels? Guys don’t want a soul mate, they want a cell mate. Guys want to be John Belushi in Animal House smashing the guitar of the guy with the goatee reading poetry and singing ballads on the stairs.  For some men, romance is as simple as having the lights out while watching Charles Bronson in “Death Wish”.  They can’t understand the difference between The Newark Marriott and Auberge d’Soliel in Napa Valley, except that one is a lot more expensive and has a smaller pool.  These men are the target demographic of the floral, greeting card and confection industries on Valentine’s Day.  Red roses, a Whitman Sampler and a beautiful card and you will be Charles Boyer.  Wait, wasn’t he a third baseman for the Milwaukee Braves?  

Marriage is the process of finding out what kind of person your spouse would have really preferred – Anonymous

 

Lack of romantic IQ is an age old liability.  The Greeks had myriad words to describe the many facets of love – – Eros was perhaps the most applicable word for romance and passionate love. In Southern Europe, many men are born “Considerate” and sometimes attain the highest evolutionary form of “Romantic”.  However, this only applies when they are courting a mistress or college student backpacking for the summer.  Across the Southern Mediterranean, men have a reputation for being hopeless Romantics but regression is always around the corner.  It is quite a different story in Northern Europe where being romantic is still synonymous with wearing a clean pair of underwear.  

 

The great question… which I have not been able to answer is, “What does a woman want?” — Freud

 

In the 19th century, there was a brief surge of estrogen in the cosmos in the form of the Romantic movement which encouraged impulse and intuition over repetition and reason.  Men liked the part of romanticism that encouraged them to be reckless and unaccountable. Men felt more free to read poetry, enjoy art, and pick petals off daisies while on a picnic in the country.  However, the Pigs began to worry that they were being overrun by the Clueless and the Considerate.  No one was showing up for hangings, bare knuckle fist fights or helping to break up local picket lines during labor strikes.  The bars were empty in the middle of the week. The Pigs started a rumor that anyone who read poetry was indeed a Communist.  This quickly led to a massive peer pressure regression known to many historians as “The Great Backslide of 1898”.  With Romanticism dying, the bell curve of behavior was more balanced, The Pigs breathed a sigh of relief.

 

However, society has continued to evolve.  Pigs are increasingly chastised for their misogynist views.  The Clueless attend classes with their partners and use “I“ phrases for sharing how they are feeling.  Considerates understand that relationships are a zero sum game and one is always in danger of being in a deficit position.  These men are beginning to realize that a little romance is not life threatening.  It may require watching a movie about far away places or star crossed lovers caught up in epic conflicts that conspire to keep them apart.  It may mean sitting outside listening to John Mayer music float gently on a warm summer night.  Romance means appreciating intrinsic beauty whether it is found in a lingering glance or a spontaneous kiss.  Considerates are finally grasping what Gable and Lombard had going.  They appreciate sunrises and sunsets.  They understand even the most ancient ember can be rekindled and that romance is its oxygen. They see integrity in monogamy.  Some even recognize when another man is a Pig, although this is a very advanced state of Considerate.

 

Valentine’s Day is framed with sepia sentiment, devoted nostalgia and stories of lovers whose words, music, and deeds transcend time. It targets the Clueless, occasionally snags a few Pigs and is supported by legions of Considerates.  Valentine’s Day for most men is a compulsory 24 hour chick flick.  For women, it is another chance for their partner to show a modicum of romantic intelligence and perhaps evolve.