Thursday, April 28, 2005

Cosmopolitan Corner

I’ve never been one of the women who refer to Cosmopolitan as her “Bible” or who use its nickname “Cosmo.” No, my familiarity with Cosmopolitan is limited to extraordinarily lengthy layovers in airports and doctor’s offices. But it only takes a couple flip-throughs before you get the gist. This month’s features are “Bedside Astrologer” and “Cosmo’s Stud Search”. Their attempt at Grrrl Power is limited to a few snapshots of Women of the Month.

Cosmopolitan attempts to package my gender into a 198-page, glossy magazine, full of exclamation points and cutesy writing. Though I may experience problems similar to those of Cosmopolitan readers (“Eek! New boss is hotty—what do I do?!), their regular appearance in Cosmopolitan has led me to deny my traditionally feminine traits and trials—namely, girl stuff.

And so you get me: a woman with a secret love of products who will punch you in the face if you ever mention this in public. I don’t have any female friends in Paris. They're too girly. I’m waiting for another Susan--that is, another woman who will promise to puke on your shoes if you use the word “panties”--but I don't think she exists. Without her to keep me in line, I find myself drifting into cattiness.

Enter conflict, stage left: the ex and the ex’s new love.

A brief background. Before he was the ex, when I was the new love. My love for Takrit was of the all-encompassing, teenage variety. (Yes, I made up the name.) That’s to say, more intense than I would ever allow myself to feel nowadays. I stalked him for a full three weeks before he became my boyfriend for a full three years. Ah, my first love. Being sixteen, I was sure that I would spend the rest of my life with him.

But I would only spend the first few months of college with him, before I realized that I wanted to date someone else.

I broke it off. He tried to win me back, even appearing dressed in a suit at the train station, carrying flowers. In Cosmopolitan’s world, I melted right then. We’ve been married for six years. In my world, I said I couldn’t get back with him, no matter how nice the suit.

Takrit and I remained friends. It was rocky for quite some time, but we eventually came to a point where we could be in the same room without arguing or making the other one cry.

It’s now been five years since we broke up. Takrit and I have been in other relationships since then, but, living in different cities, we’ve never had any real interaction with each other’s newer flames.

Leave it to the marvels of technology to bring this tradition to a close.

The other day, I saw Takrit online, and, having not talked to him recently, sent him a message. No response. He was probably asleep. I went about my online business.

Two minutes later, a response came, with a muffled ding:

Her: Takrit’s not here. This is Shirley, his girlfriend. Nice to meet you.

Nice to meet me? Time to exit, quick.

Me: Nice to “meet” you too. (Nothing like cyber humor to break the ice.) Just tell Takrit I said hello.

Her: Ok. How does he know you?

Shit. There was no good way to answer the question. All the responses made me look like a jealous goon.

Me: I’m an old friend of his from Georgia.

Her: Cool!

I couldn’t resist.

Me: Emily. I imagined the sirens going off in their apartment.

There you had it. The Very Polite War was on. Her objectives: to stake her territory, show me who’s the boss of Takrit, rightly so. My objectives: to get out of the conversation as soon as politely possible.

I was suddenly engaged in the Cosmopolitanesque battle of New Girlfriend vs. Old (“My boyfriend’s ex is always messaging him—is it right to ask her to stop?!”).

Half of me wanted to get accidentally disconnected, and the other half wanted to make my presence known. Rationally, I knew this was dumb. Emotionally, I wanted to rank above her on Takrit’s list of Great Girlfriends. I was sampling the leftovers of a sixteen year-old’s jealous rage, dwindled down over the past five years, from shaking-angry fights on the telephone to passive aggressiveness typed on Instant Messenger.

We spoke briefly about Paris. I asked if she had ever lived abroad. She responded that she and Takrit were planning on moving abroad in several year’s time. “Several years?!” I shouted to no one, “We?!” It might seem innocent, but my Cosmopolitan side was telling me otherwise. She might as well have said, “Oh, and we’re planning on getting married and having a million babies, all named after me. You can come to the wedding—we need someone to serve the punch.”

I had to get to the post office. I cut the conversation short.

Several days later, I saw what appeared to be Takrit’s screen name signed on. I sent the tentative “Takrit?” A few minutes later, a message from an unknown sender popped up.

Her: Takrit’s still asleep.
Me: Well, just tell him I said hello.
Her: Will do.
Me: Thanks.
Her: I’m sorry if it was awkward talking to me the other day.
Me: No! Not at all!
Me: I mean, a little, just in that I’ve never really met someone on Instant Messenger. (I’d decided not to go into the details of my recent Internet dating extravaganza.)
Her: Well, quite by accident, I saw what you typed to Takrit the other night.

Shit. What part of the conversation? The part where I recounted my conversation with her and said it was really awkward? The part where I talked about jealousy with regards to previous loves? The part where we reminisced about the Good Ol’ Days?

I had taken this classic Cosmopolitan saga to a new level. I had ruined the Very Polite War by employing Very Impolite Maneuvers behind her back. Sounds of cats fighting played in the background of my make-believe soap opera.

Leave it to Nicolas to break it down for me: “Emily, what do you care if she doesn’t like you? I mean, seriously. What do you want? To get back together with Takrit?”
“Then what’s the problem here?”

I thought about it. The problem was that I’d behaved badly. I’d let jealous impulses lure me into a conversation, which, despite all polite appearances, was catty. All my Cosmopolitan bashing went straight down the tubes. I had neatly dug a hole for myself, that of the jealous and bothersome ex-girlfriend. That was the problem. I had inched away from the carefully constructed identity of Unassuming Friend.

But whom was I kidding. First loves die hard. My cousin once told me that I shouldn’t shy away from intense, teenage emotions, because those felt later in life would pale in comparison. And so I cherish my fading sixteen year-old state, in which I was wrought with love and angst and jealousy. It’s good to know that she’s still alive and kicking-- kicking Shirley’s ass, and kicking myself.


At 3:28 AM, Blogger The Michael said...

I am so glad I've gotten sooooo way past all that.......or am I? this is what graduating to "totally numb" is all about. Well, thanks, Em, it's nice to be reminded of that passion I forgot about so long ago.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Sara said...

I'm still insanely jealous that my first love married someone other than me, despite the fact that said love now weighs probably twice what I do and has two children. I'm happy in my life, but do I keep in touch with him???? You bet! Do I relish those times when he writes things that make me think that I might be a bit more "special" to him than his wife (read this with a large dose of I-know-this-is-not-reality)???? Absolutely! In short, I am not a Cosmo girl either, but there is a reason that it exists. We all have a baser reality. Fighting for our "territory" is one of them, and Cosmo is there to tell us how to do it! (or how not to)
(note that I do, however, use the ever popular nickname for the rag)
7:48 AM

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At 8:31 PM, Anonymous bwo said...

pfft, whatever. You live in Paris and are, if your picture is anything to judge by, the hot. How can you doubt you exceed what's-her-face?

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Nicolas said...

PS her name is Shirley, for crying out loud. Shirley is the name of a white trash suburb where I grew up on Long Island. So there.

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Emily said...

There's a white trash suburb of Long Island called Shirley? Sign me up!

The Hot

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm your cousin, and I never said that thing you said that I said!

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Susan said...

Takrit is a hot dude. What you did was totally normal and would have taken an X-treme X-men X-surge of willpower. I'm sure Shirl would do the same thing. It was harmless and understandable, and you're too far away (both geographically and chronologically) to be a threat to her.

You may not TECHNICALLY be a Cosmo girl, but you definitely have made me watch the following movies:
1. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
2. The Banger Sisters

Although, I get Martha Stewart Living, so, you know. We're all dorks.

Except Takrit. That guy is hot.

PS- If I'd been around to keep you in line, I probably would have just napped through the whole experience anyway, rendering my presence totally useless.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Emily said...

Okay, I admit that the first one was my fault, the whole How to Lose a Guy... um... wait, really?! I thought I saw that on a plane. Did I make you watch it on a plane?

The Banger Sisters? That was all Anna. So I only get half the blame. Plus, we thought it was going to be like a 2nd Almost Famous.

Plus, Goldie Hawn is hotter than Takrit.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Emily said...

And to my cousin... it's a good thing I have a lot of them. I'll just point my finger at a different one. The comment was said. Wedding. The cousin in question was drunk, and bothering me to tell him all about my romantic life.

At 1:29 AM, Blogger The Michael said...

Goldy Hawn HOT? My god, talk about a disconnect between what men think women think is hot and what women think.......oh, hell, my train of thought ran off the rails.....I always thought of Goldy as cute, funny, silly, my little sister (if I had one), and maybe a great chick to get drunk with, but HOT? Sure, she seemed a natural for Kurt, but beyond that....geeze, Em, I'm beginning to think your perceptions are And no, I never had this secret crush on Gidget that got transfered to you!

At 2:22 AM, Blogger Emily said...

Yeah... the Goldie Hawn thing was actually a joke. In "The Banger Sisters," she's actually kind of old and decrepit.

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's your cousin again . . . or one of them, any way. Well, I don't drink a lot, and I don't go to many weddings, so I guess it wasn't me. But next time you lay something at the feet of a cousin, I want you to name names! Then maybe I too will stop being anonymous.

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Neha said...

Gosh!!! How do you do that?? Voice ma thoughts?

At 2:06 PM, Blogger tafka PP said...

Coming in at the end here just to say- Classic- I was cringing and everything! And fab Cosmo-bashing too. Please, post more often...

At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Charley said...

Still no new content
Refresh and again refresh
Computer is broke?

At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Amol said...


At 1:24 PM, Blogger Randi said...

hey, Miss Emily, would you be so kind as to update this blog and not just metro stories? Sorry if I was rude..
have a good one!

At 6:43 PM, Blogger juliana said...

God, what an amazing post. Did you see mine where my ex invited me to his engagment party?! Still haven't decided if I'm going to go. Best of luck with men, and finding female friends in Paris.


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