WARNING! SPOILER ALERT. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE AND YOU INTEND TO, DO NOT READ ON.

A couple of weeks ago a friend lent me the book, and I read it in a single evening. The book is like a diet–there are some excellent guidelines to be followed, but a strict regimen according to the gospel of authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo will do nothing but make you crazy.

The underlying message of the book and the movie is a good one: if a guy is into you he will show it, usually by calling. If a guy never calls you, he’s just not that into you, regardless of how much fun you have together or how great the emails are. Even if he’s not a phone person, he will call. There’s good advice in them thar hills.

The movie starts out with a young girl on the playground wanting to know why a boy is mistreating her. A young mother assures her daughter: “It’s because he likes you.” And that my friends, is where the confusion originates: we are conditioned, as women, to view mistreatment at a very young age as a sign of interest. This premise works for anyone under twelve but does anyone really believe such behavior spills over into adulthood?

Then the movie scans the world, showing that women in all cultures, of all ages, are busy making excuses for why their men aren’t showing them more affection: he’s busy, he forgot what hut I live in, yada yada yada. Any female who has been on the dating scene more than a minute has done this because the truth–that he may just not like you–hurts.

The movie, for the most part, follows the travails of a cute but somewhat pathetic Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays a convincing phone watcher and stalker. After a so-so date, Goodwin obsesses about the guy who doesn’t call her for a second date. She tells herself all kinds of lies to convince herself that he is going to call. When he doesn’t, she shows up at his favorite watering hole.

I have done this, although not recently. I have obsessed over a guy, checked my non-existent phone messages, analyzed the situation to death with my girlfriends, and done the ever-popular drive-by just to see if, ya know, he’s like, there. Goodwin does a great job demonstrating that erratic, insane behavior can emanate from a perfectly sane person. In fact, she sure makes the rest of us feel good.

The movie gets hilarious as Goodwin overassumes the interest level of different guys. The movie also, at times, feels like a horror flick: I found myself putting my hands over my face and shaking my head at Goodwin’s pathetic fumblings around the dating world.

Justin Long plays the mouthpiece of author Greg Behrendt. He befriends Goodwin early on in the movie and dispenses the cold hard truth about whether or not the guys she meets are into her. Best part of the movie.

The problem is that Long is a player, and gives us a bird’s eye view of how players think and act. The movie (more than the book) assumes that all guys are self-assured go-getters who know exactly what they want and will act accordingly. Rubbish. Men can be just as insecure as women.

And alas, Hollywood just couldn’t stop the cliche train. Long the player falls for Goodwin the good girl; the guy who said he never wanted to get married proposes; and the single girl goes off to India to find herself.

The last ten minutes of the movie nullify the first two hours. Tis a shame.

My number one problem with an otherwise good, thought-provoking movie, is that there are no happy single people in it. Everyone who is single is out looking for love in all the wrong places. No one is content, just living his or her life. Sex and the City suffered from this same character flaw.

Maybe content single people don’t make for good stories. I’d like to think otherwise.


So says my heterosexual life partner Jen. It’s also for kids. So guilt-ridden divorced folks have one more reason to shower their children with monetary tokens of love. Just kidding. Sort of.

Thinking about Valentine’s Day makes me retch. It’s really so ridiculous, and it has zero religious connotations, so it’s not even legit. I’m not going to go into the actual story of St. Valentine, cuz you’re super-savvy and have access to Google. You can look it up.

What I am going to do here is look back fondly upon the Valentines of the nineties. I’ve changed names and obscured actual places to protect the guilty.

First there was Edgar. Edgar I met in the mountains of California–he was a chef and a very good one at that. Edgar was a little bigger than I liked my men, but he loved me and cared about in a way no one ever had. But when we were out together we acted like an old couple–so content in their lives, so, well, settled. I was too young, stupid, and immature for a relationship like this one, so I dumped him.

Before I finally let him go, I tortured him. One year Edgar didn’t get me anything for Valentine’s Day and I ripped him a new one. His response was, “But I didn’t think–” and I cut him off there–“That’s the problem Edgar, you didn’t think!”  The next day Edgar showed up with jewelry and flowers to abate my anger. (I still wear the silver band.)

What a bitch I was. But then again, I was only 23. Aren’t you supposed to be bitchy? Through the wonders of Facebook, I have found out that Edgar is married with kids. Lucky her. He is a good man.

Stan followed Edgar. Stan was everything Edgar wasn’t: dashing, anti-establishment, athletic, ruggedly good looking, and a semi-pro mountain biker. I met Stan because he rented me my skate skis. (We’re still in the same California mountains.) One day he suggested we go out skiing together and from then on we were a couple. We were both training for a 30km nordic ski race. Out of over 700 participants, he finished fourteenth. I finished two hundred and eighty-second. Those were the days.

Then, sick of the lack of culture and intellectual curiousity, I bolted and left for Colorado, where I have been ever since. For some inexplicable reason, Stan followed me here. He even built me a bike, fashioned out of bits and pieces of bike laying about the shop floor. Once the two of us were in Colorado, we proceeded to have six blissful weeks together until I realized I was his cook and agent but certainly not someone he could or ever would emotionally invest in. We even met each other’s families. Then we broke up. For Valentine’s Day, Stan broke up with me. In response, I kicked him where it hurt.  A week later we were back together. Yeah, it was like that.

Two years ago I sold that bike–a beautiful 13-inch purple Cannondale 300. I miss that steed.

Reeling from my first instance of playing house, I soon fell victim again to another dashing, anti-establishment guy, this time someone I worked with. I like my men outside the box, which I why I couldn’t get excited about Edgar and which is why I was so excited about Stan. And now Larry.

Larry made Stan look like Prince Charming. Larry was manipulative, self-centered, and egomanical. But if you think he’s bad, why kind of girl dates a guy like that? A girl who’se twenty-six and has no idea what she’s doing. Against my better judgment, Larry and I moved in together after about six months. Little did I know he was still having regular rendez-vous out of state with a past lover, all of which he was able to justify. As I watched my self-esteem slowly drift away, my resolve to leave Larry (some day! I told myself) strengthened. I just didn’t know how or when. I just knew it would, and I did. Larry came home from work one night and I had moved out. Just like that.

For Valentine’s Day, Larry bought me two dozen roses and cooked me a surf and turf dinner. When I tried to brag about it to my girlfriends, they looked down at the floor. Their lack of look seemed to say, “Who cares if your guy does amazing things for you on Valentine’s Day? He’s jerk every other day of the year.” True dat.

For the past twenty years or so, I have been in the restaurant biz–as a hostess, server, bartender, and busser. Hence I have worked enough Valentine’s Days to kill a horse. They are fun social experiments–you can watch the new couples (they can’t keep their eyes and hands off each other), the couples about to break up (he’s doing everything he can to please her–she’s still acting like a bitch), and the couples who realize, somewhere between the overpriced lobster ravioli and the Death by Chocolate, that Valentine’s Day is simply not all it’s cracked up to be.

No shit.