I rewatched The Mindy Project again last night, a few weeks after Hulu leaked the pilot episode which, as with most TV pilots, I had lukewarm feelings about. I enjoyed it a little better the second time around, two weeks later, probably because I didn’t have it playing in the background while I was at work as I typically multitask my TV watching with some form of additional working involved. After reading a few reviews from all of the usual suspects (Vulture, EW, NPR) it seems like the interwebz is in unison that the pilot was promising, the jokes were good, the heroine not perfect and fairly realistic (she can’t run in heels to the hospital so she takes them off and makes a barefoot dash in the streets during rush hour!) and hopefully the show stays golden, ponyboy.
In the show, Mindy is a doctor in her early 30’s who makes poor decisions when it comes to men. She is aware of this too, but slow to change. She desperately wants a romcom meet cute to happen which does in the form of Bill Hader, her boyfriend until they break up and he gets married to the hospital bagel girl and invites Mindy to the wedding. Mindy then uses the wedding to get drunk, use the toast as a moment to vent out her broken relationship anger, and rides her bike home, shouting out that she is Sandra Bullock and falling into someone’s pool where a Barbie doll at the bottom of the pool mocks her lack of a relationship "At least I have a boyfriend!" (Barbie, Barbie Barbie, Ken don’t count don’t you know that already.)
I liked this scene because it went there. Any other single TV heroine would have stayed at home with a close girlfriend on FaceTime, crying into some Ben & Jerry’s while still keeping her makeup intact. Not Mindy. The way Mindy behaved reminded me on varying levels of college Heather who drank more and exercised poor judgment in men. I might not have gotten arrested for being drunk in someone’s pool convinced that their toy doll was judging me, but I’ve had my moments. Shit happens and then it’s done and you go back to your work life and move on. Being single may get a bad rap from everyone from Mother Nature to your grandmother but being single while having a career is not a bad thing at all. Lots of pros work in your corner for it. Observe:
- First off, being single is not going to last forever. It’s not. Just because you aren’t engaged the moment you graduate from college at 22 or doing that whole “ring before spring!” bullshit does not mean that you won’t get engaged ever. The important thing is not to get engaged or married because you feel pressured to. Same goes with relationships. This is not popular advice, but don’t date people based on the loneliness principle. I get a lot of shit from people for not dating dud guys I know simply so I can hold that Facebook title “in a relationship with xyz person.” I am all or nothing when it comes to relationships and only date guys that I do genuinely like a lot and care for. Which to date has not been many, but so what? I’d rather do it this way than string a person along that less than 50% of me likes.
- You get to do your own thing! Go out of town on the weekends, head to the movies after work, sleep in on a Saturday, do some online shopping with a bellini in hand, and flirt with guys at Starbucks. You don’t have to report back to somebody or rush home to be with the kids or anything. Treasure this shit as your expiration date for it is fast approaching. Once upon a time when I was in grade school, my dad went to go see Congo at the movies after work and didn’t tell my mother where he was at. He typically came home at 5:30 PM and arrived back at about 8 PM that night. As this was in the time before the iPhone, my mom was furious at him for not letting her know where he was and yelled a lot. I felt bad for my dad and understood his plight. It was one time and a movie about radioactive gorillas. How could you pass that opportunity up?
- Here’s a major bone to pick with you relationship people: set ups and/or knowing what is best for your single friends. Your concern is cute, but please stop the set ups because I’m starting to get the distinct feeling that you think I’ll go out with pretty much anyone so long as he has a penis at this point. Are there no evaluations going into play here? No pre-recs or Google background checks? Why doesn’t the guy have a job? Why is he still living in his mother’s basement and playing Guitar Hero? And why doesn’t he at least TRY to dress up around me?
To date, I have only had one good blind date ever and it was with a hot Mormon guy who was hilarious and attractive and well dressed and incredible on way too many levels and I can’t remember his name and damnit he had to leave the country to go on his mission because I would have been so down to be a sister wife you don’t even know. The person who set us up? One of my best friends. She told me beforehand, “Girl, I would never set you up with somebody I myself wouldn’t date.” THAT’S A FRIEND LADIES. Find yourself a girlfriend in a relationship who gets that and you’re solid.
- Every day, hundreds of single professional women are left with the prospect of taking the easy road out of singledom and straight into engagement with the ultimate trapping device: the nice guy. He’s harmless and sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly or you and looks good on paper and he’s single and you’re single so hey why not get hitched but fuck it, he has no backbone. That backbone matters. You can’t get hot and bothered for a guy who treats you too gently 24/7 like you’re a little lamb about to run away from the pasture to the big bad wolf. Or at least I can’t.
- We know what we want and what we’re looking for. In finding the right match for myself, I would like a guy with the following traits:
1) Funny and can make me laugh and smile as much as possible. That’s non-negotiable. My levels of happiness are connected directly to my funny bone.
2) Chemistry. Think of a car ride together. You want the comfortable silences and relaxed feeling in the air, not the urge to throw open the car door and roll on out on the 101 freeway instead because that would be less painful and awkward.
3) Well read. Aware of pop culture and cultural events globally. We should be able to sit together for 5+ hours at the bookstore and not feel like we need to be anywhere else.
4) Established. This is a tricky one because I feel like it automatically translates to “having money.” Money is a very fluid thing that comes and goes, but the idea is that the guy would have a good career or a career in the works. I am not on board with the Peter Pans of the world.
5) You need nice grown man clothes. They don’t have to cost a fortune. I can help with this.
7) Feeling beautiful around you, even if I’m in my yoga pants without any makeup on. (Does that not look like a Taylor Swift song lyric or what? But it’s true. And knowing that you’ll be beautiful to me no matter what also.)
8) Patience, trust, kindness, spontaneity (of the flower bringing kind, not “hey we’re going kayaking today - take the afternoon off of work!”), comfort in tough times, and love at arm’s length where you can be close but not to a smothering point.
Clearly I know what I want.
-Final pro from my corner: the ability to take a super long nap on a day off and not face any judgment from it. Maybe some light teasing from my roommates, but… you know what there really should never be judgment for napping ever no matter what kind of relationship you’re in. Naps rejuvenate you. Don’t date someone who thinks a nap is stupid or pointless. They’re probably the same kind of people who don’t want to tell you about that weird dream you had the other night where you were in New York City making friends with homeless bums and picking up the trash off of the ground and throwing it away either.
Correction: meeting people to date period who aren’t psychopaths/creeps/wackos blows.
If there’s one thing that can be said for the education system, it’s that going to school from pre-K through graduate means that inevitably you’ll be surrounded by a shitload of people for about 8+ hours a day, five days a week. Now you may not like all of these people and most of the time you might just want to run home and hide in a cool and quiet place that isn’t frantically yammering on about so and so hooking up with so and so’s best friend’s third cousin twice removed from Indiana. But the nice thing is that these people typically rotate out the higher up the school ladder you go. Before you know it, you’re in high school with a whole new group of guys and girls, then college, then perhaps even grad school. And no matter what year you are, you’ll definitely meet people that you genuinely like and develop solid friendships and spend some very meaningful drunken moments with.
Beyond the friendship comes the relationship. A very popular (but unproven) statistic roaming on Tumblr states that at the age of 16, 80% of people have met who they’re going to marry. Cutesy. In the real stats category though, lies this bombshell from MSNBC’s ‘Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others’:
-men who have graduated from high school begin thinking about marriage at the age of 23 and 24
-men who have graduated from college REALLY start thinking about tying the knot at 26
-men who are college grads are likely to propose between the ages of 28-33
-31 and 32 are the tipping point ages for educated men looking to commit - still high but slowly slipping
-37 and 38 are the years where the will to get married decline significantly for men
And so on. Just as women are given creepy deadlines for their uterus’s, so must a man be pegged into the Will Freeman box if he isn’t married by a particular age.
Stats aside, I have always harbored a slight resentment toward people who found their mates in high school/college. Ironically enough, I have some family members who did that. My uncle and aunt met in high school and married shortly afterward. A similar thing went down with my parents who met when they were both in the military together. The resentment is that from where I stand, it seems easy and convenient enough when you’re in school or in a similar establishment that has rooted through the weirdos. Not when you’re in your twenties as a post grad and nobody warns you that from here on out, you’re on the road to blind dates, set-ups from friends, and meeting people online.
Meeting people online to date is rough and I do mean that in the fullest sense. Even that little protective computer screen mask can prove to be a disadvantage because you never quite know if the person behind the screen is just like the way they portray themselves in real life (and it always, always, always sucks when they aren’t.) People online don’t always “get” how to talk to the opposite sex either - no, no brah, none of that “ur hotttt w/a bangin’ bod” mess - did you go to school at all? Is that what wins people over? I feel like I’d need a boatload of daddy issues in order to enjoy that noise.
And then there’s the whole “let’s meet up!” thing with online dating. That in itself is, unbeknownst to the guy, an entirely orchestrated affair on my part. It has to be in a well lit place in an area that I am familiar with, with at least one or two people I know scattered nearby in case the date goes sour. Well, more than just sour, in the event of creeptasticness occurring. My life isn’t about to turn into a real life version of 'Megan is Missing' or have a sudden plot twist laced with Ted Bundy elements. Maybe it does sound paranoid to some degree, but to me it’s smart and I’m certainly thankful that as a teenager I read as much about true crime as I could.
Meanwhile, the blind date and set-up road has 50/50 elements to it. I’ve been on a few successful blind dates (the few, the proud) and more godawful ones (the wigger guy from college, the end.) What makes the blind date work for me is if the guy comes in with confidence and can make me laugh from the get-go. He has to be able to keep my interest. More importantly, he has to be able to keep me from wandering over to the bar and making a new guy bar friend. My ex in college won me over with a joke about cocaine (it did not hurt that we had stupidly high chemistry together either). So… just be confident and funny and willing to challenge me and we should get along just fine for the night.
Oh yeah and there’s that other thing, that whole “I don’t want a long term relationship!” thing that I bring to the table. Just the other night, I was chided via text for leading some dude on for being “too flirty.” Luckily for him, I was three bellinis deep so the text didn’t have its intended effect had I read it straight poker faced but it was a weird message. Who tells a person that being too flirty is a bad thing? And to that end, this is the first time I have ever been referred to as “too flirty.” Well shit son, it really is a new age in my life! Hester Prynne better step off because somebody’s gonna be rocking that scarlet letter “F” with some serious pride.
But let me break down what “I don’t want a long term relationship!” means in the world of Heather Anne Taylor. I know what I want and what I’m looking for and will not budge. This element of expectation has pissed off some of my girlfriends (the super savvy dating ones) who constantly tell me to lower some of my expectations. And I do, occasionally, but those expectations only drop for the short term. The long term is elusive. It’s for somebody I don’t know yet. I haven’t met this person. I know this because the moment I have I will know - or at least as much as I can know. The only feeling I can compare it to will be how I knew what college I would go to. That feeling weighed me down each day but in a pleasant, motivating way. And I do believe the feeling will be mutual on the other side which is also the only way I can have it.
You want someone you can laugh with, fight for, hold up when they’re down, get that comfortable silence with, confide, trust, and believe in and really just feel like ripping all of their clothes off constantly (or is that last bit just me?) Why consider any of that to be too much of a tall order or an expectation? It shouldn’t be and that my friends is what I would want in a long term relationship. Sure, there would be shit days and good ones and unexpected things you just don’t want to happen. But you would be able to weather through that storm and come out on the other side stronger. I think that’s what I envy about couples the most. No matter what the platform you met them on was like, it’s just knowing that there are two people who just get each other so much that together they make each other all the stronger and happier for it.
It’s really quite beautiful if you put it into that perspective.
IN THE MEANTIME, your girl isn’t dumbing down that single life by any means. Go on and get it with your wonderfully awesome single self! Wear that scarlet letter F for flirt with pride! Do that single and mingle thing for what it’s worth! Even if you’d rather build a fort in your bed and watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers while eating gummy bears, motivate yourself to "throw on a skirt, take off [your] underwear, and make your Pop-pop proud!"
And really just be able see every dating mishap as a great story to tell - some of your couple friends cannot say they once went out with a white guy with a gold tooth and a do-rag with his pants hanging off this ass. But you can. Air five to you.
And setups and “oh man my good friend just happened to join us to the movies, hey did you know he’s single?” moments. Pretty much anything that starts with the phrase “I think you guys would hit it off!” is doomed with me too.
I’m picky alright? I’ll be the first to say it. There was a study that Malcolm Gladwell did once that referenced blind dating and how when women go in for a blind date, they have a list of criteria in their heads for what they’re looking for and don’t like to fall off that criteria by much if at all. But if they happen to meet someone who isn’t matching up to that list YET they still have insane chemistry together, the list is forgotten in favor of the magnet connection.
That is not how it works for me. Gladwell and the rest of the world needs to do a serious case study on my brain. Crack that sucker open and try to figure out why, why I have the impulse to be just so outright unresponsive or mean to guys. Most of it has to do with the fear thing. I cannot and will not have the time nor the tolerance for guys who are afraid to talk to me or who make half-hearted conversation and fail to keep it going. Or worse, speak to some other girl sitting at the table with us because she’s easier to talk to. Nothing makes me more furious faster. I’m well worth the battle. I’ve been on successful dates before! Not many, but some. But I will rock your world with pop culture references like nobody’s business so I highly recommend fighting to talk to me ahem, men of the world.
I just don’t want to baby guys and walk them through talking to me. I don’t want to be the one constantly keeping the conversation going and poking and prodding at them to respond. And I really don’t want or need the sympathy of anyone who feels bad for me being single. I like being alone. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t, but for the most part I’m good.
It will take a very special kind of man to truly get me. I have no idea who or where or when I will ever meet that person but they’re out there somewhere.
And they need to be able to appreciate that for all of my adultness and grown up behavior, I am all about building a fort in my bed. I am the champion at doing that.
Single and fabulous,