Even wasting as much time online as I do, it’s still possible to miss things, and I apologize if someone else sent you here first, but not really. (People apologize for all the wrong things and none of the right ones.) I’m speaking of Picky, Picky, Libby Copeland’s amusing essay on what happens when people who have too many choices bring their attitudes to the battlefields of love:
There is something peculiarly modern about this phenomenon, something aligned with our dark privilege of too much , this consumeriffic culture in which jeans and houses and breasts and ring tones are customizable. Consider it all: geographical dislocation, cities filled with singles, extended childhoods and postponed childbearing, speed-dating, the growing sense that the dating pool is as vast as the 454 men-seeking-women between the ages of 29 and 31 within five miles of your Zip code on Yahoo Personals.
In a world of infinite possibilities, the notion of falling in love, of finding The One, seems itself like the taquito girl, small-town and old-fashioned. Once upon a time, The One would’ve lived in your village or another one like it. Now, she could be this sweet girl across from you at the dinner table, but she could also be someone you haven’t yet met. What if there’s another woman somewhere in the world, like this girl, but better? Someone who will snowboard with you, and doesn’t do that strange throat-clearing thing?
There are people like this, I know, people like Jerry Seinfeld’s sitcom character, capable of pushing the trapdoor button on women with man hands or the wrong laugh or whatever, but I’ve never had the luxury. Copeland quotes a personal ad:
Online, people attempt to custom-order mates with the awesome specificity of children at a Build-a-Bear Workshop. In the personal section of Craigslist, a man describes his dream woman: “you are very feminine but also a tad clumsy. you are short, but you love high heels . . . you have long dark hair and big eyes. you like to wear mascara and other eye make-up, and/or you have long lashes.”
I’ll bet my next freelance check — which will be a big one! — that this man is still alone.
But I think about this sort of thing in idle moments. I keep trying to finish this essay on newspapers, and I think a lot about whether they’re doomed because they’re badly run by the insecure hirelings of greedy corporations, or just because the very idea of a “general-interest” anything is simply antique. No one wants what everyone else has anymore. At the auto show last month, I wandered into the Rolls-Royce press conference, for no particular reason other than I had the time and I wanted to hear cultured British gentlemen say “motorcar.” The honcho giving the presentation said the biggest growth area in their company was the “bespoke sector,” i.e., the customizers. When you spend half a mil for a car, you don’t want to drive the same one the next guy with half a mil gets; you want one with chinchilla upholstery or paint the precise color of your wife’s hair or with a built-in cooler here or bulletproof glass there.
Maybe it stands to reason some think it can be applied to other people, too. Sooner or later they’ll learn.
By the way, I think newspapers wouldn’t be in quite so much trouble if they’d run more stuff like Copeland’s essay. I dunno about you, but by the time I read the features section, I’m not looking for tuna recipes or smart parenting stories. Maybe that’s just me.
A few days ago, some of were discussing school-play disputes in the comments, which only goes to show that NN.C commenters are ahead of the New York Times, which weighed in on Saturday with this depressing dispatch from the Culture Wars, about the cancellation of another play, this one in Missouri, after “some residents” (note: three of them) objected to its moral foundation.
The play: “Grease.”
To many, the term “culture war” evokes national battles over new frontiers in taste and decency, over violence in video games, or profanity in music or on television. But such battles are also fought in small corners of the country like Fulton, a conservative town of about 10,000, where it can take only a few objections about library books or high school plays to shift quietly the cultural borderlines of an entire community.
The complaints here, which were never debated in a public forum, have spread a sense of uncertainty about the shifting terrain as parents, teachers and students have struggled to understand what happened. Among teenagers who were once thrilled to have worked on the production, “Grease” became “the play they’d rather not talk about,” said Teri Arms, their principal, who had also approved the play before it was presented.
By the way, the principal also cancelled the next play — “The Crucible.” Wouldn’t want to produce anything that makes Christians not look like the loving, tolerant people we know they are, right?
Someone made Mitch Albom wait. No one makes Mitch Albom wait! That’ll teach him, Mr. Bigshot Doctor.
Hey, I like the Olympic beret. Others…don’t.