How Apple AirPods Will Save Women Everywhere

Recently a man published his masterpiece detailing how he forces a woman in headphones to listen to his words. Yesterday Apple solved everyone’s problems by doing for women what Bluetooth headsets did for people who talk to themselves. They created AirPods, the perfect excuse for any woman (provided she has long enough hair) to ignore those she does not want to talk to.

In case you, like Dan Bacon, are concerned that by using AirPods women everywhere are ignoring male mating calls and potential meet cutes, let me put your mind at ease. As a woman who has been approached while wearing headphones, I can tell you that women are not wearing those headphones because they are afraid to talk to you. They are wearing them because they do not want to talk to you. They do not want to hear your thoughts on superhero films and whether or not Jessica Jones counts as a superhero.

Wearing headphones and being surrounded by my own personal soundtrack is a perk of my life which I have fought hard and won. I do not take public transport in order to have multiple encounters which may end in meet cutes. I know that meet cutes are a myth  which only happen in a world inhabited by characters dreamt of by Nora Ephron and Nancy Myers. Twenty first century women make their own meet cutes on their own terms, because as Nora Ephron herself once said, we are all the heroines of our own stories. I have the power to decide what will be my meet cute, and a man making signs at me that I should pull my headphones out does not fit my ideal meet cute. What I want most in the world is to be let alone.

The time during my commute is my sacred time to myself. Virginia Woolf once said that a woman’s true freedom is a room of her own. In today’s society of roommates and multiple person dwellings, a personal bubble created by your headphones counts as that room of your own. Unlike Thoreau who had the ability to forsake all of his personal responsibilities, I cannot do that, and so this is as close to Walden Pond as I am going to get. This is my time to read my book, the news, or simply stare into space. It is sacred time, and male interruptions pantomiming that I should pay attention to them is not welcome. If I wanted male attention, I would go to a speed dating event. That door is closed, and there is a gone fishing sign on my door.

Earbuds afford women a privilege long enjoyed by man spreaders everywhere, but with one important perk. Earbuds mean we do not have to be overly nice to anyone. The burden of being nice is one which women have struggled with for centuries, and this is the first century in which we as a collective whole are realizing, we do not have to be nice. And now Apple has created a female friendly utopia here on earth, by allowing us all to point at our ears and pretend that we have made our choice to listen to music, and not you.

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A few centuries ago we used fairy tales to explain the unexplainable. Things were simpler in those days. He did not look like his father because he was a changeling. She died a spinster because a black cat once walked across her path. He died because he once walked below a ladder. She threw a hysterical fit because the woman next door stared at her. Life was good, life was easy, and it was a remarkably simple and logical matter to find explanations for life’s little mysteries.

In 2016 we have a better handle on how life works. DNA testing can assuage your fears about your child’s parentage. We know cats of any color are actually perfection, and that spinsterhood is not bad luck. Walking beneath a ladder is still a bad idea but if anything bad does happen it will at least happen quickly. And to this day, I have been largely unsuccessful in my attempts to cast spells by simply glaring at people.

With the advances of science, we now know the reasons behind most of life’s mysteries, yet our own bad behavior still confuses us. We can no longer blame our bad behavior on the witch next door, but we do have those bewitching candy-colored apps which live on our smartphones.

These apps take the blame for our bad behavior every day. Tinder waves its magical wand and makes us superficial creatures. Twitter nurtures our ability to not pay attention to anything longer than 140 characters. Instagram turns us all into the worst kind of braggers. Snapchat creates sexting monsters of us all.  Pokemon Go has brought on the zombie apocalypse and is selling your data to people you wouldn’t want to meet. No matter what your fault is, there’s an app for that.

But that’s not the way life works. You may be unable to see past the surface of a pretty face. You may lack the patience to read entire articles. You may hashtag your photo #soblessed because you are oblivious to the world’s problems. You may overshare. You may actually be a zombie. But whatever your flaw is, it’s probably safe to say that you weren’t cursed by an app.

 

Gilbert Blythe and the Women

“Did you know Gilbert Blythe is dying?”
Those words were among the most tragic of my childhood. I grew up on Anne of Green Gables. Televised the year I was born, Anne was who I most wanted to be when I grew up, although my hair was the color of Diana’s, and like Diana, I was born in February. Anne was my role model. I borrowed her expressions, talked about needing scope for my imagination, and wished for puffed sleeves with all my might. But most of all, I wanted Gilbert Blythe.
Gilbert Blythe was the male character who most defined my childhood. With a father uninterested in anything to do with me, Gilbert Blythe was the one who survived my man hating era after my mom finally divorced my dad, being the one remaining male paper doll to survive the Danae-enacted-eviction of all the other male paper dolls.
Gilbert was kind. No, he wasn’t dashing. He didn’t go overseas and have daring adventures. He wasn’t rich or titled. He worked hard, went to college, and became a doctor. He wasn’t brooding. He wasn’t emotionally unavailable. He wasn’t like Mr. Darcy, or Mr. Rochester, or any of the other literary crushes I would later have, but he was Gilbert, patient, kind, and always set on Anne.
Love, we are often told, is a passionate affair, filled with fire and sparks. Think of Scarlett and Rhett. Think of Daisy and Gatsby. But Gilbert and Anne are the ones who taught us that sometimes, oftentimes, love comes in the form of a kindly friend, one who we can’t imagine life without.
Life gets in the way, and we forget this, because we are busy, and trying to have it all, leaning in and leaning out until we forget which way we’re supposed to go, much less what we are supposed to look for in another.
Then a generation of women like me were dashed back into reality when we heard that Jonathan Crombie died at age 48.
I had no idea that so many knew who he was, until I finally capitulated tonight and went online to order the DVDs from Amazon. They’re out of stock. They are out of stock at all my local Barnes and Noble stores. Even the complete collection of DVDs which adds up to over a hundred dollars and probably contains more discs than I am comfortable with switching in a three hour Annefest is out of stock until the end of the month.
For a generation of us, Gilbert Blythe was the one. We have all been reminded that he did mean something to us, something that no other childhood crush meant, and something that’s hard to express to our current significant others and even to ourselves. He meant that it’s okay to settle down into a comfortable life, and that kindness is perhaps the most important virtue to look for in other people, for Gilbert Blythe was kindness personified.

Where’d You Go, Lorelai?

Maybe it’s a sign of my sad little cat lady life, or maybe it’s just a sign that I’m done with the world, but the best news I have had all month was the news that Gilmore Girls was coming to Netflix.

Before you dismiss me as just another would-be manic pixie dream girl (been there, done that, only nets you heartache, but that’s a tale for another day), rest assured. I have been raised on the finest of classic television and movies. My earliest memory is watching Seinfeld when I was three, at age five had seen all of Dead Poet’s Society, by age six I had sat through most of 1939’s golden year of filmmaking. But there’s nothing quite like Gilmore Girls.

You’ve heard about the fast talking. You’ve heard about the manic pop culture merry go round of conversation. You’ve heard about the epic theme song, how Melissa McCartney got her start, and about the dance episode. These are all true, but the thing that brings us back to Gilmore Girls isn’t all that. It’s the story of three generations of women, and how they interact.

Even in a perfect television show, people will find things to whine about. Lorelai might be bratty sometimes, and Rory might make mistakes. Sometimes Emily is evil, and sometimes the guys in the show are just dumb. No, they aren’t perfect, but if they were perfect, we’d all be complaining that they were too one-dimensional. Gilmore Girls is an example of how a masterpiece cannot possibly please everyone, and therefore an example for girls everywhere. Don’t worry about being perfect. Don’t worry about your coffee addiction. Don’t worry if you prefer to read oodles of unknown authors versus Gillian Flynn. Don’t worry if your high school boyfriend turns out to be completely and utterly boring, or if your college boyfriend turns out to be a self-absorbed jerk.

Just be yourself, the messy imperfect self you are, and don’t let anyone shame you for binge watching Gilmore Girls on your couch, wrapped in a heating pad, with the cat, (a bag of chocolate chips because you are out of candy), and two bottles of wine. Because that’s what I’m doing right now, and let me tell you, it feels great.

A Laundry List for Life

It’s been a long summer of doom and gloom. Looking back on this year, here are a few things which I will and won’t miss.*

Things I Won’t Miss:

People who complain about Millennials.

People who write articles claiming that the Millennials will bring about the zombie apocalypse.

People who think that the zombie apocalypse is going to happen soon.

Adults who suck up to children by asking them questions, and when the children don’t answer, simply repeat the question louder.

Books named the Male Occupation’s Wife, Daughter, Niece, Grandmother, Step-Mother or Mother-in-Law. It’s not that I have anything against men, it’s just authors should be able to use a little imagination when it comes to naming the books they have labored over for long periods of time.

Congress. But since they are representative of the people who elect them, maybe that should be Americans in general.

People who take the concept of life hacks to extremes. Examples, the life hack for the Constitution which will restore America to Jeffersonian bliss, the life hack that will fix your cable bill and save you hundreds of dollars, and tax people who claim they can hack your taxes and save you money somehow. It’s false, people. Don’t buy into their lies.

Scary women who wear dominatrix boots and pretend they’re business casual when we all know it’s a desperate plea for attention.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, because obviously it’s better to douse yourself in miserably cold water than be forced to donate. Or perhaps we should call this forced donation in general.

Unintelligible acronyms like TCOT, which always makes me think of tabby cats on twitter, and not whatever tea party mumbo jumbo it most likely means.

Things I Will Miss:

Earbuds and how they block out the entire world.

The idea of bourbon.

Somedays in Europe.

The hope of snow days as an adult.

Really strong coffee.

Talking about ghosts, black cats, and unexplained deaths around very superstitious people.

Candy Crush. Because sometimes that’s all that is needed after a long day.

Unexpected flowers which are not roses so cannot be a stand in to mark an important day, but rather make an unimportant day important.

Television binge watching on the couch.

The joy of telling people I’m busy when I’m actually binge watching television on the couch.

Cheese.

Cats.

*Thanks to Nora Ephron for the idea of creating lists of what one will and won’t miss.

The Platonic Form of England

When faced with the prospect of meeting a real, live, English person, I always get excited. Raised on a steady diet of BBC miniseries ranging from the famous one which shall remain nameless which starred Colin Firth, to the really archaic adaptations of Thomas Hardy, I’ve always preferred British television to that of American, and in this glorious age of Downton Abbey and BBC America, I, like Plato, know the form of the perfect British person. The British man should be a mix of Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Tom Hiddleston, and Alan Rickman. The British woman should be a mix of Emma Thompson, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, and Emma Watson. 
So when I meet a British person who could easily pass for an American exhibiting the worst of American fashions, it’s as if my beautiful bubble of Dickensian fantasies has been burst. 
This tragedy happened to me quite recently. I had to listen carefully for any hint of an accent, and he dressed just like an American. Not a hint of tweed, not a hint of whimsy, nothing. He may have even had American weapons hidden on his person. 
That is the main reason I have never been to England. A Platonic form of England lives in my head, and to wake up someday and realize that it is only perfect, grey, misty, beautiful London in my head, and in reality is just like New York City is a sadness which I cannot bear. So I shall shut my eyes to it. When someday I visit the great empire that was, I shall confine myself to Scotland, which I have no expectations of, and therefore cannot disappoint me.

On Beards, Daisies, and the American Man

Beards have three purposes. The first is to hide features which need hiding in order to be made marketable. Think Abraham Lincoln, whose beard won him the presidency of the United States. The second is to enhance features on an already good looking face, giving it a rakish or dangerous look. Think Rex Harrison, who grew a beard to win over American audiences and push his career to transatlantic stretches. Think Cary Grant, who sported a particularly nice one in his eighties. These men understood that beards weren’t excuses for laziness on the face. They understood that growing a beard meant that they would have to shoulder the great responsibility of taking care of their beards. 
The last purpose of a beard is one which is unique to Major League Baseball, and that is to grow the largest, scariest beard you can possibly come up with in order to freak out your opponents who are half expecting a rat to crawl out and launch itself at them. 
All of these are worthy pursuits, ones I can completely respect. But we live in the age of the hipster, one which takes fashions of old, re-appropriating them for the new, and often losing something in the translation of said fashions. In the pursuit of manliness, men often forget the key step of grooming and upkeep, meaning that their faces often look as if a small, unidentified mammal (hitherto only found in the darkest depths of the deepest forests), crawled onto their faces, and promptly died there. If I see one more hideous beard, with uneven hairs growing out, catching the light just so, I think I might scream. 

The beard craze is out of hand, and needs to be stopped. A beard should enhance the face, not make the owner of the beard look like they belong on a park bench with a Hefty bag of his most prized possessions. I can only assume that misguided men everywhere believe beards are catnip to girls, awakening some long slumbering impulse to mate. That’s not true, because nothing about the raggedy hair growing out of your face says to a girl that you are a superior specimen of virility. The recent trend of weaving daisy chains in your beard and then Instagramming said monstrosity makes me feel even less convinced that you have any viable sperm in your body, and even more convinced that you are uninterested in anything but your own self.