Friday, December 21, 2012

'Tis The Season For Post-Christmas Discounts

"I haven't finished my holiday shopping yet." It's a line I've heard from many of my friends over the past week. A thoughtful bunch, they are. They care so much for their loved ones that they spend weeks contemplating the perfect gifts before resolving to battle the crowds and buy whatever's left at Walmart on Christmas Eve. That's what the season of giving is all about.

Christmas just has a way of always sneaking up on them. This year, it's scheduled for December 25. I don't think my pals were expecting that, which is why they're behind on their shopping. "Christmas is on the 25th this year? Really? Seems early, doesn't it? Thanksgiving was just a few weeks ago."

Perhaps it would be less confusing for them if Christmas was referred to more often as the "25th of December," much like Independence Day is commonly referred to as the "Fourth of July." It's very easy to remember when the Fourth of July will be held on a year-to-year basis. It's always scheduled for the Fourth of July. Fourth of July: buy fireworks. 25th of December: buy gifts. Simple enough.

Websites like Amazon give lazy folks like my friends an excuse to wait until the last minute to buy presents. Buy a product on the 21st, and it will still qualify for two-day shipping; the 22nd, one-day shipping; and the 24th, local express delivery. You're out of luck on Christmas morning, but you can still purchase e-gift cards that can be emailed immediately. 'Cause who doesn't love the feeling of waking up early, running down the stairs and to the Christmas tree with laptop in hand, and checking their email to discover a gift card waiting for them?

I am not celebrating any of the gift-giving holidays this month, so I'm under no pressure. But I do have big shopping plans nonetheless. Specifically, I will visit my local drugstore the day after Christmas.

Why? Because all of its Christmas items will be discounted. The sales are ridiculous. December 26 is like a second Black Friday for those of us who didn't receive any gifts 24 hours earlier.

On Christmas night -- around 11 p.m. or so -- I'll line up outside my nearest drugstore, with a cup of coffee in my hand, anxiously waiting for the clock to strike midnight so I can take advantage of the post-holiday doorbuster deals. The best part is the store is open 24 hours, so I don't even need to bust down the door.

When I enter the store, the adrenaline really kicks in. It feels like Christmas has come 364 days early. Holiday cards, wrapping paper, Santa hats, replica Charlie Brown Christmas trees...the prices are slashed on all of them, plus so much more.

And it's all stuff I can use. For example, Christmas wrapping paper is festive no matter the time of the year. The look on my one friend's face each summer when I give him his birthday present, wrapped in paper decorated with reindeer and ornaments, is priceless. It's like Christmas in July!

The Santa hats...with the help of a pair of scissors, they can be fashioned into extra pairs of underwear, if you're running low and don't have time to do laundry. You just have to remember to cut off the white puffy ball at the top of the hat.

More than anything, I stock up on the holiday candy. I don't understand why the stores are so eager to get rid of them. Is it wrong to eat candy canes after Christmas? Do they all expire at the end of the year? Are they no longer fresh after that? I don't ever remember seeing a "sell by" date on candy canes.

What about other seasonal candy, like the Reese's Peanut Butter Trees? Are they not as tasty in January as they are in December? I don't think so. I like the idea of eating peanut butter candy shaped like trees in late winter or early spring, while everyone else is eating boring Peanut Butter Cups shaped like a circle.

This isn't a completely selfish shopping expedition, by the way. I do pick up one special item for my friends, something I know they will appreciate: Amazon gift cards. No shipping required. I just cover them in my newly-purchased Christmas wrapping paper and hand them over. My guess is they save the gift cards until December 21 of the following year.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

May The Odds Of Getting Married Be Ever In My Favor

It was my birthday earlier this month. I turned 32. It was fairly memorable, for a couple of reasons.

One, I had over 70 friends wish me a happy birthday on Facebook. Seventy! Not to brag, but I'm popular on there.

My friends anticipated my birthday as much as I did. It was really sweet -- they logged on to Facebook a few minutes before the clock struck midnight on the day of my birthday. They refreshed the site at 11:57 p.m., 11:58 p.m., 11:59 p.m. Then, at 12 a.m., in the upper right hand corner of their home page, four magical words appeared: "Shane's birthday is today." And the birthday wishes started flowing onto my wall.

I don't know for certain that this is what happened, but it's my birthday and I'll lie if I want to.

My one birthday wish every year is for all of my friends on Facebook to wish me a happy birthday on my wall. For whatever reason, their acknowledgement of my big day on my wall is important to me. I don't have an explanation for it.

Of course, I've set an unrealistic goal for myself, but I do expect a healthy number of friends to send along their birthday wishes. How many, exactly? To answer that question, I divide the total number of friends I have by two, then add seven. I use similar formulas to determine the minimum age of women I can date, and the maximum number of hours of Big Bang Theory reruns I should watch per week.

I can always count on my most distant Facebook friends to wish me a happy birthday on my wall. It's why I'm friends with them in the first place: so they can pad the total number of birthday posts on my wall. And I do the same for them. The relationship is strictly quid pro quo.

Oddly enough, it's my closest friends who let me down by not leaving birthday wishes on my wall. They tend to send me a private message instead. That's no good, because it won't help me reach my "birthday wishes on my wall" quota.

Some of them bypass Facebook altogether and call me. They tell me, "I hope you have a great day, you deserve all the happiness in the world, let's celebrate soon." And I think to myself, That's nice, but couldn't you have said all of this on my wall, where it would have counted for something? I want the Facebook friends who I don't care about to see that I have real-life friends who care about me.

The other reason why my latest birthday was memorable -- though not in a positive way -- was that it provided another opportunity for my family to remind me that I'm not married. "You're's time you met someone." Their watches are set to GMT: "Get Married Time."

Time is ticking, I understand that. I'm not getting any younger, etc., etc. I have actually discussed these concerns with a few of my closest friends, who aren't nearly as panicked as my parents are about my single status. Their response was, "I wouldn't worry. I know guys way worse than you who've gotten married."

What a relief it is to know that there are men in this world who are less desirable than I am. I ought to use that fact as a selling point for myself. "Why wouldn't you date me? Do you want to be one of those women who's stuck with a guy who's way worse than I am? Why hitch your wagon to a below-average man when you can be with an average man?"

I watched The Hunger Games on DVD a little while ago, and it had me thinking, This is what my parents would want. This is what the parents of all single, 30- and 40-something-year-olds would want. An event that would punish all men and women who did not marry within the first 10 years after college.

Let's call it The Bachelor Games. Each year, the names of all single men and women between the ages of 32 and 48 are entered into a lottery. The older a person is, the more entries he or she has in the drawing. A man and woman from each state are selected and forced into a televised game of survival, the sole winner of which is permitted to stay single for the rest of his or her life. I can think of at least five networks that would air this.

Or, using the Katniss-Peeta relationship in The Hunger Games as inspiration, the event could have the contestants from each state work as a team. They could look after each other, defend one another from enemies, treat each other's wounds, and ultimately (if all goes according to the parents' plan) fall in love. It could all culminate in an After The Bachelor Games TV special and wedding.

My family wouldn't be opposed to watching me participate in a Bachelor Games and put my life at risk, if there was the slightest possibility that I might tie the knot at the end of it. I can imagine them hugging me as I board the train to the Games, exclaiming, "May the odds of getting married be ever in your favor!"

If I were to win a hypothetical Bachelor Games and marry on live TV, it would undoubtedly be a very exciting time for them. And, I admit, for me, too. I'd get to update my relationship status, and I'd expect at least 70 Facebook friends to wish me a happy marriage on my wall.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rogaine On Lockdown

I have a bald spot. I thought you should know this. I don't mind telling you about my hair deficiency. I'm not embarrassed by it. Not at all. In fact, if this was Facebook, I would post a picture of it right now so you could see it for yourself.

Much like a Facebook picture, though, the novelty of a bald spot wears off after a while. Initially, it made for a great conversation piece. When I would walk into a room, the strands of hair would float off my head in slow motion, and friends would remark, "There's something different about you...did you do something with your hair?" I'd smile and respond, "Yes...I'm losing it."

What can I say? I like to be the center of attention.

Nowadays, for practical reasons, I'd prefer it if I didn't shed like a a Persian cat. There are hair bunnies scattered all over my apartment. It's messy. Sometimes, when it's really quiet, a hair tumbleweed will roll across the floor.

I have one ally in my fight against hair loss: Rogaine. I buy a three-month supply of it every, well, three months, though I try to stock up in advance whenever possible.

Sometimes I forget. Not a good feeling. When I pick up a can of Rogaine and discover that it's empty, and I realize I don't have more in the cabinet, my heart starts to race and for a brief moment I panic.

Fortunately, I buy Rogaine from a 24-hour drugstore.  It's reassuring to know that when I have the urge to rub foam on my head before I go to sleep at two in the morning, and I'm all out, I can get my fix pretty quickly.

I do have one problem with buying Rogaine at the drugstore, regardless of the time of day: A huge alarm is wrapped around it. This bothers me. A lot.

It's a slap in the face to bald people. There are no alarms on the mascara, or the candy, or the toilet paper. I don't like the implication that my hair loss has driven me to such desperation that I'd seek out minoxidil at any cost.

If nothing else, the alarm is a nuisance. Last month, I purchased a three-pack of Rogaine using a self-checkout machine, and forgot to ask an employee to remove the alarm. As soon as I walked out the door, a detector went off, a security guard yelled at me and I was chased down the street by a pack of Rogaine-sniffing dogs. I exaggerated that story for effect, but I'll leave it to you to figure out which parts are real and which are fake. 

The drugstore has no cause for concern. The vast majority of bald men are not thieves, I am confident of that. And if we all were thieves, we'd be smart enough to pool our resources and pull off one massive Rogaine heist. It would be like the opening scene of The Dark Knight. Except, hopefully, we wouldn't pick one another off in the middle of it.

This is my plea, on behalf of all bald people, to the drugstores of the world: Keep the alarms off our Rogaine, please. We may have less hair than you, but you can still trust us.

Believe me: if someone does steal your Rogaine one day, you'll be able to track him down quickly by following the trail of his hair out the door.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What To Expect When A Celebrity Is Expecting

Ryan Reynolds married Blake Lively two weeks ago. I have to admit, I never saw it coming. I knew they had been dating, but I had no idea they were considering marriage. After hearing the news, I spent five minutes wondering how this could have slipped under my radar. Then I spent another five minutes wondering how I could care that this slipped under my radar.

I'm incredibly happy for both of them, especially Ryan. He was the Sexiest Man Alive in 2010. (As determined by People magazine.) Last year that title was awarded to Bradley Cooper. So despite the fact that Ryan somehow became less sexy over the past two years, he still managed to snag a beautiful woman in Blake Lively. Congratulations to you, Ryan. I love a good underdog story.

(I'm assuming Ryan won't be named Sexiest Man Alive this year; only four celebrities have won the title twice: Richard Gere, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Johnny Depp. I didn't even have to rely on Wikipedia for that tidbit, thank you very much.)

And congratulations to Blake, too. It's a coincidence, but her rise to superstardom began the same year Ryan was named Sexiest Man Alive. It's true that she appeared in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in 2005, and has had a major role in TV's Gossip Girl since 2007, but her most credible work -- The Town, Savages, her relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio -- has come since 2010.

I should mention that she also had a role in the 2011 movie Green Lantern, which I've been told is not one of the better superhero films released in recent years. (Just another in a series of comic book movie lectures I've been subjected to by my friends.) But it did star her future husband, Ryan, so it wasn't a total loss. For her, not for the people who paid $12 to see the movie in the theater.

Regardless of how you feel about Blake's films, they always have a top-notch cast. I call this phenomenon the Blake Effect. Let's review. The Town: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm. Green Lantern: Ryan, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins. Savages: Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro. And what the heck, the 2008 sequel The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2: America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, Traveling Pants.

Blake is a smart woman. She works with an A-list crowd. And now she's married to an A-lister. Good for her.

I was going to wish her congratulations on her pregnancy, too, but it turned out to be a false alarm. There was a report that she might be with child because she was supposedly eating a lot more in the days after the wedding. But her rep denies Blake is pregnant. So either her diet hasn't changed at all since she got married, or she's just been hungrier than usual lately.

My mind operates at a completely different level from the sources who speak to the magazines and websites that report celebrity pregnancy rumors. When I hear that an actress is eating food, I just assume she's nourishing her body so she can remain alive. But when a "witness" or "insider" discovers that an actress is eating food, it often means one of two things: "Is She Pregnant?" or "SHE IS PREGNANT!"

Similarly, when an actress is spotted drinking bottled water, it may be because she's thirsty. Again, that would be my suspicion. Or it could be because "she's pregnant so she can't drink alcohol. She isn't getting any younger, and she didn't want to put off starting a family any longer, so now was the time. She'll make a great mom!"

I've never equated drinking water to pregnancy. But what do I know, I'm not a woman. I'm drinking bottled water as I'm typing this. Maybe I'm pregnant and don't even realize it. If I am, I'm sure I'll hear about it eventually from a source close to me.

I do know Blake is not pregnant. I just hope she and Ryan enjoy the early stages of their marriage. Ryan isn't getting any sexier.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Please Do Not Set Fire To The Rain

My favorite song of the summer has been Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." In fact, Carly Rae may be my favorite Canadian artist at the moment. Yes, she's swiftly moved ahead of Justin Bieber, Celine Dion and Nickelback in my "Favorite Canadian Artist" power rankings. That's how much I like "Call Me Maybe."

The song is so catchy that I often find myself repeating the lyrics in my head over and over again. "Hey, I just met you/And this is crazy/But here's my number/So call me maybe." This is crazy. Carly Rae is an attractive, ultra-successful pop star, and she's begging guys to call her. Why can't I find a woman like her who's just as desperate as she is?

Another reason why I like "Call Me Maybe" is that it's so different from another song I've listened to quite a bit this year: Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain." In case you're wondering, Adele is pretty high in my "Favorite UK Solo Artist" power rankings, ahead of Jessie J but behind Rick Astley.

I still put Adele and Rick in the same class, because both have songs with powerful lyrics that have brought tears to my eyes. Adele's "Someone Like You" is hauntingly beautiful, and the chorus resonates with me. Who hasn't had to let go of someone they loved? "Don't forget me, I beg/I remember you said/'Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead.'" Man, when I hear those words, something stirs up inside of me -- the same feeling I have when I watch Toy Story 3.

It's also the same feeling I have when I listen to Rick Astley on my iPod. "Together forever and never to part/Together forever we too/And don't you know I would move heaven and earth/To be together forever with you." Amazing. It's no coincidence that one of the most popular memes in Internet history was based on his heartfelt music.

In any event, "Set Fire to the Rain" is not at all like "Call Me Maybe." It's a breakup song. But it's not your ordinary breakup song. It's a breakup song performed by a woman who's thought about setting fire to the rain.

This is the chorus: "I set fire to the rain/Watched it pour as I touched your face/Let it burn while I cried/'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name."

Obviously, Adele didn't really set fire to the rain after her breakup. Nevertheless, the idea did occur to her, because she sang about it after the fact.

A little disturbing, don't you think? I've been through many breakups, and not once did I contemplate setting fire to the rain. Never crossed my mind, not even for a moment. It sounds dangerous.

I wouldn't even know how to go about setting fire to the rain. Didn't know rain was flammable enough to watch it pour as I touched someone's face and cried. Maybe next time there's a storm in my neighborhood, I'll go outside with a match and see what happens.

I have to say, Adele, having listened to the song many times, I empathize with your ex-boyfriend. I couldn't justify being with someone who has the capacity to entertain the mere thought of setting fire to the rain. It's kind of nuts.

But if you have a logical explanation for why you felt the way you did, I'd love to hear it. So call me. Maybe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The Real World" vs. "American Idol," And Why I Like/Dislike Reality TV

A new season of MTV's The Real World premiered a few weeks ago. I've yet to watch an episode. I wouldn't consider myself an avid viewer of the show, but I'll tune in on occasion, if I can't find a better option on TV.

What I like about The Real World is that it's easy to follow. The plot is very straightforward: party, curse, fight, and repeat. If I miss an episode or two, I won't be confused.

I've watched at least part of the previous six or seven seasons, so I know the score. I won't wonder, Hey, how can they afford to live in a mansion, or, How did they land such a cushy job -- all of them with the same employer -- in this economy? The show recycles itself over and over again.

The first episode of each season is emblematic of what I'm talking about. It mostly follows each cast member as he or she arrives at the Real World home. It's similar to what you experienced when you were a college freshman and moved into a dorm for the first time, except you didn't have cameras following you, or an outdoor jacuzzi, or a billiards room, or a stocked refrigerator...and so on.

The cast members' arrival to their mansion is always the highlight of any season for me, simply because you discover right away how naive many of them can be. I know their house will be extravagant, you know their house will be extravagant, but for whatever reason, there are a few people in each Real World cast who fail to realize this. They step out of their cab, run into all of the rooms inside the mansion, and, yell something to the effect of, "This is our house?!?!?! All this for us?!?!?" Of course it is, silly! You earned it!

And then they go out and party, setting up the cursing and fighting to come in subsequent episodes.

The American Idol contestants act the same way when they move into their home. However, you can be reasonably sure over the course of an Idol season that no one will throw a glass cup at another finalist or throw a chair into a pool at any point.

If I had a choice between living the life of a finalist after Idol, or living the life of a cast member after The Real World, I'd prefer the latter. As an Idol finalist, you can tour the country and maybe land a record deal, but then what? Chances are you release an album or two and then get dropped from your label -- if you're lucky.

But a Real World alum is set for the next 20-plus years, or however long MTV plans to continue airing The Challenge. It is ironic that many cast members of The Real World actively avoid living in the real world by repeatedly competing on The Challenge. If you've never watched it, it's sort of like The Hunger Games, but there are no deaths or sympathetic characters.

I propose that MTV throw a few past Idol stars a bone and create a Real World vs. American Idol challenge. Imagine: Tyler vs. Taylor, Johnny vs. Sanjaya, Wes vs. William H....if nothing else, if would make for great alliteration.

My one quibble with The Real World and other reality shows is that they operate under the premise that these people are commoners, just like you and me. But they're not at all like you and me, not when they're living in fancy houses (The Real World, American Idol), traveling or relocating to exotic places (The Real World, The Amazing Race, Survivor), having verbal arguments with feisty Brits (most Fox shows), and losing 200 pounds in eight weeks (The Biggest Loser).

Once The Real World cast members move into the home, I can no longer relate to them. They begin to live the high life and stop getting real. You know what I would do if I lived in the Real World mansion? I'd lie on the couch and watch the occasional episode of The Real World. Because that is my real world.

And I'd quit my job, hit the gym inside the mansion and train for the next 10 seasons of The Challenge.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Man Without An Enemy In The World

Chris Brown and Drake have been on my mind a lot lately. You may have heard that they had an altercation at a New York City club that escalated into a bottle-throwing melee earlier this month. Allegedly, it had something to do with the fact that they both have dated Rihanna.

I'm not a fan of either, really, although I admired Drake's performance as high school shooting victim Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation. But he wasn't known as Drake at the time.

(Never mind the fact that I was watching Degrassi: The Next Generation in my mid- to late 20s. But this shouldn't come as a surprise to you. I've established on this blog many times that I have the TV viewing habits of a 15-year-old girl. I doubt this will ever change.)

The more I read about the fight, the more I understand that 1) I should never, ever, under any circumstances, date Rihanna; and 2) I don't have any enemies. Maybe for the first time in my life.

That last statement requires some clarification. I do have people in my life who rub me the wrong way, irritate me, annoy me even: my boss, my mailman, my friends, the entire Yankees organization, Taylor Swift. I wouldn't consider any of them to be enemies, though. Not enemies in the sense that I'd throw a bottle at them. And as far as I know, they don't have any problems with me.

This must be a sign that I've matured over the years. In my younger days, I believed I had the innate ability to get under the skin of my peers. It just came naturally to me. I'd have five or six enemies at a time. As much as I try to forget them, it's not possible, since Facebook constantly recommends that I send them a friend request. How many times do I have to "X" out their name before Facebook stops toying with my emotions? And for goodness sake, I'm not going to "like" the Yankees; dig through my personal information a little harder next time, Facebook!

I have to admit, there's a part of me that wishes I did have an enemy, just one, someone I can really despise and have a feud with. Not on the level of Chris Brown and Drake, but something that could lead to a heated dispute or Twitter war. It would make my mundane life a little more interesting.

Think about it: Where would Alec Baldwin be without the paparazzi, Jerry without Newman, LC without Heidi? (Didn't I tell you I have the TV viewing habits of a 15-year-old girl?) Drama equals excitement.

Fortunately, I've found a website that matches potential enemies: OkCupid. Really, it is a dating website. For those of you who've never used the site, it calculates your match percentage with others on the site, i.e. how compatible you are with them.

But the site also calculates an "enemy" percentage; the higher it is for a particular person, the more likely it is that you aren't a good match for one another, based on differences in lifestyle or philosophy.

I've already failed at finding the woman of my dreams on a dating website. So maybe I should try to find the enemy of my dreams. It might be fun to meet someone who I'm at least 50% enemy with. It can be a boy or a girl, doesn't matter. As long as I can meet them and tear them down to their face. And then we can continue to grow the relationship; he or she can write nasty comments about me on Facebook and Twitter, I can call them and then hang up on them. You know, the things that make for a really good relationship between enemies.

Ideally, I'd look for something long term. I'd want to settle down with that one special enemy that can frustrate me for the rest of my life.

I'm not looking for anyone who throws bottles, though.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Pros And Cons Of Online Dating

Last year, I joined an online dating website. I'd resisted for a long time, but I caved after hearing so many success stories from friends who used the site. Besides, whenever I have the opportunity to sign up for a website that will take up way too much of my time, I take advantage.

I can't tell you how many hours I've spent on this site -- and on its mobile app -- sifting through my matches, on the theory that my soul mate could log on at any moment, day or night, so I better be on there when she does. I've yet to find her, but if you happen to make contact with her on the site, let her know that I'm online right now.

So, my experience on the site has been a mixed bag so far. I've been on several dates, but none of them resulted in a long-lasting relationship, which was my hope.

Really, I'm in the same position I was in before I joined the site. That's very discouraging to me, so much so that I've started to wonder whether it's worth my while to continue using the site.

With that in mind, I've made a list of pros and cons. I was inspired to do this after I tuned into Nick at Nite recently and watched the episode of Friends in which Ross had to choose between his girlfriend, Julie, and his longtime crush, Rachel. He, Joey and Chandler created a pros/cons list, and Ross picked Rachel. But she rejected him after finding the list, and Jennifer Aniston's love life has never recovered.

Hopefully I'll have better luck with my list.

Pro #1: Using the site requires very little effort.
All I have to do is log on to the site, and instantly I have access to hundreds of single women. A lot of them attractive, too. Because there is no face-to-face interaction, at least not at first, I have no reason to be afraid to initiate a conversation with any of them.

When I'm in public and I spot a girl who interests me, I tend not to approach her and introduce myself; I simply admire her from afar and hope she notices my winning personality. So you can understand why online dating has a certain appeal for me.

And to think, I once thought it would be embarrassing for me to try online dating. At some point I came to this realization: If I'm not ashamed to order pizza on Seamless and have it delivered to me from a shop that's located only a few blocks away from me, I shouldn't be ashamed to chat online with women who are located only a few miles away from me.

Con #1: I don't have many suitable pictures of myself that I can upload to my profile.
I don't own a digital camera. I do own a smartphone, but I rarely make use of its camera. Highly unusual in the Facebook age, I know.

On my online dating profile, I have posted exactly two pictures, neither of which were taken within the last two years. I don't really have many recent photos of myself. I just don't like having my picture taken. I know what I look like. I won't forget. And in the unlikely event that I do, I have three mirrors in my home.

Of course, not having many photos of myself puts me at a disadvantage on a dating website. What I need are more pictures like the ones I typically see on the site I use: extreme close-ups of my face; pictures of myself standing 100 feet away from the camera for no particular reason; shots of myself standing in front of a tourist attraction, preferably one that's located outside the United States; photos of myself at a sporting event; pictures of myself making a goofy face while surrounded by a group of friends. That sort of thing.

Pro #2: The chances of me finding my soul mate online are pretty good.
Here's an interesting statistic: eHarmony says, on average, 542 of its members marry one of their matches every day. That's a lot of marriages. Gives me hope for the site I use.

Here's another interesting but unrelated stat: one in three divorce filings last year cited Facebook as a factor. It's wonderful how the Internet can bring people together and then tear them apart, isn't it?

Con #2: The women are not easy to please.
OK, that's an unfair generalization. I would say that many -- not all, but many -- women on the site have specific tastes. Very specific. In no particular order, they'd like to meet someone who is tall/nice/fun/honest/mature/outgoing/driven/intelligent/thoughtful/supportive/caring/family-oriented/goal-oriented/adventurous/ambitious/spontaneous/active, and enjoys the outdoors/has a sense of humor/is gainfully employed/has money in the bank/likes dogs/doesn't own cats because they're allergic/believes in chivalry/respects the fact that they're vegetarian or that they just don't like to eat whatever it is you like to eat/doesn't play games/doesn't upload photos of themselves shirtless. And so on.

These are all admirable traits, to be sure. But it is extremely unfair, as a single man on the site also looking for love, to be held up to this unattainable standard. Ladies, if you're going to use a dating website, then you need to have more realistic expectations. You only have so many guys to choose from. None of them will meet all of your requirements.

It's not a Build-A-Bear Workshop. The goal is not to create your own "perfect guy." Your objective should be to find someone who could turn out to be a pretty good guy who you can see yourself in a relationship with. And no, you can't customize him with accessories or stuff him with cotton once you meet him.

I take a more pragmatic approach to online dating. I compare the site I use to 7-Eleven: Everything looks great, and I'd be happy to leave it with any of the available options. Any one of those girls could be the Fanta Blue Raspberry Slurpee of my life.

Pro #3: First dates are cheap.
Every first date I've had with a girl I met online has taken place at a Starbucks. This is a major compromise on my part, because I don't drink coffee.

I prefer a get-together at Starbucks for the first date for two reasons: 1) It's a relaxed atmosphere, and it lends itself to good conversation, and 2) I know I won't have to spend a lot. Feel free me to call me cheap. But to be fair about this, I do let the girl order anything she wants off the menu. Money is no object if we're at the 'Bucks.

I'm not inclined to drop a lot of cash on a girl I barely know. It's one reason why I've never auditioned to be the star of The Bachelor. Just days after the bachelor meets the women, he takes them on helicopter rides, on vacations in exotic countries around the world, and eventually to fantasy suites. I can't afford any of that.

Con #3: You can't just forget about a woman if you go on a date with her and it doesn't work out.
The dating site I use is littered with girls I went on one date with and subsequently stopped communicating with, either because we mutually agreed we weren't right for each other or because they agreed on their own that I wasn't right for them. I can't even count how many girls I am 97% compatible with and have a 0% chance of going on a second date with.

I personally believe that any girl who chooses to stop dating me should close her account, as a courtesy to me. It would be the nice/mature/thoughtful/caring/intelligent thing to do.

After reading over the list a few times, it seems I didn't resolve much, did I? Oh, well, I guess I'll remain on the site for now. What do I have to lose, right? At some point, the woman of my dreams has to show up on there. Hopefully.

In the meantime, can anyone lend me some money so I can be on The Bachelor?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Don't Shed A Tear For Me (Shed A Tear for "Toy Story 3")

Forgive me if I'm a little emotional right now. I just watched an incredibly heartrending film. It was a story of friendship. It was a story of struggle. It was a story of survival.

It was Toy Story 3.

I cried while watching it. I cried while watching a movie about toys. Animated toys. How embarrassing. And this was the second time I'd seen Toy Story 3.

There's one scene in particular that really touched me. In the film's climax, Woody, Buzz Lightyear and their toy friends are trapped on a conveyor belt leading to an incinerator. Facing certain death, they reach out to one another, hold hands and close their eyes.

(Spoiler alert: They all live. Another spoiler alert: There's a climactic scene in which they are trapped on a conveyor belt leading to an incinerator.)

At that moment, I lost it. Tears were streaming down my face. The mere thought of a beloved movie franchise killing off a fictional wooden cowboy and an electronic space ranger was more than I could bare.

I'm reflecting on this after the fact because I would have never felt this way had I watched Toy Story 3 as a kid. For whatever reason, I have more of an emotional attachment to the toys now than I would have had when I was younger.

I owned a piggy bank. I owned a Mr. Potato Head. I owned a dinosaur toy. And I treated them all terribly. I didn't so much play with them as I tortured them. I threw them down the stairs, kicked them around, called them names.

That wasn't even the worst of it. I popped off He-Man's head. His arms, too. Tried to force them onto Skeletor's body. This is how I treated the most powerful man in the universe.

Who knows what my toys were saying behind my back whenever I left my bedroom. They probably would've jumped into an incinerator had they had the chance. I was like a real-life Lotso.

Not once did I regret the way I treated my toys. And I didn't cry when my parents gave them away. But when I watched Andy in Toy Story 3 say goodbye to his toys and hand them over to a little girl, my eyes welled up and I overreacted more than Taylor Swift whenever she's announced as a winner at an awards show.

As a kid, I rarely cried while watching a movie. To be honest, there were only three pop culture-related moments during the 1980s and 1990s that made me cry: 1) The first time I watched a horror film; 2) The scene in Jerry Maguire in which Tom Cruise tells Renee Zellweger, "You complete me"; and 3) the post-match segment during WrestleMania VII in which the "Macho Man" Randy Savage reunited with Miss Elizabeth after being estranged from one another for two years.

Nowadays, it doesn't take much to get the waterworks flowing. Toy Story 3 is one example. Million Dollar Baby is another. Though it won the best-picture Oscar in 2005, I never got around to watching it until recently. Prior to renting it, I thought I had a firm grasp of what the plot would be. I thought it would be the female version of Rocky; Hilary Swank rising through the boxing ranks to become a beloved boxing champion.

So imagine my surprise when she was sucker punched, fell on a stool and was paralyzed. Didn't see that coming at all. I cried throughout the rest of the movie. That scene scarred me so much that I refuse to watch The Next Karate Kid, the only Karate Kid movie I haven't seen. I don't want to risk the possibility of witnessing Mr. Miyagi pull the plug on Hilary Swank.

I'm proud to say that I did not cry when I watched the animated movie Up. A lot of people told me I would during the film's first 10 minutes, which essentially spoiled the beginning for me. Since I knew beforehand that there would be some sort of emotional element to the initial scenes of the movie, I was unmoved when the old man's wife died. It was a much different sensation than when I watched Toy Story 3.

Perhaps if she'd died after being trapped on a conveyor belt leading to an incinerator, I would've felt differently.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Relationship Jinx

I'm a firm believer in the jinx. And not the game of jinx, i.e., I yell "Jinx!" after you said the same word I said at the same time, and therefore you cannot speak again until you buy me a soda. Or the Sports Illustrated jinx. Or the dreaded game of Sports Illustrated jinx, in which I yell "Jinx!" after you read out loud a headline on a Sports Illustrated cover at the same time I did, and you suffer a terrible injury from which you cannot recover until you buy me a soda.

No, I believe in the relationship jinx. In a nutshell, I don't like to discuss my romantic life. With anyone. Ever.

When I'm dating a woman, and the relationship is going really well, I'm happy. And I want to remain happy. And I can't shake the nagging feeling that if I openly express to my friends that I'm in a relationship and am happy, I will jinx it all. The relationship will end, and I will be unhappy.

I know this sounds paranoid, but I'm drawing from past experience. For example, a few years ago I had a girlfriend I was really smitten with. I thought she was "the one." I told anyone who would listen she was "the one." It turned out she really was "the one." She was "the one" to break things off, she was "the one" to move on with her life, she was "the one" who married and started a family. She's a jerk, she should've just stayed with me.

If there ever comes a time when I decide to propose to a woman, I absolutely will not tell anyone about my plans beforehand. I'm going to keep the proposal to myself, and no one's going to know about it except for the 20 thousand fans in attendance who will be watching it live on the big screen.

I've actually reversed jinxed a friend. It was a complete accident. Here's my explanation: When someone asks me, "Guess what?" I assume one of two things: the person is either engaged or expecting. At my age, there's really no other answer that demands such a dramatic buildup. Aside from the time a few months ago when I discovered The Wonder Years airs on cable TV at 3 a.m. I gave an enthusiastic "Guess what?" to anyone who would listen for the next five days.

So the friend, who'd been in a serious relationship for a while, said to me, "Guess what?" And I exclaimed, "Congratulations!" Confused, he asked, "Why are you congratulating me?" I replied, "You're engaged, right? You popped the question." He said, "No!"

Not even a week later, his relationship ended. The relationship jinx struck again. He refused to speak with me for days. Until I bought him a soda.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Let's Eat Cereal!

I'm 31 years old, and I can't cook.

This isn't a confession. I'm just stating a fact. I'm not embarrassed by it. Not at all. Still, I'm often told by friends and family that I should learn how to cook. "You really ought to learn how to cook."

I ought to do a lot of things, according to them. "You really ought to learn how to cook." "You really ought to exercise." "You really ought to get married." "You really ought to floss more." (Word of advice: Don't accept your dentist's Facebook friend request. He won't hesitate to remind you on your wall that you don't floss enough.)

This is how I'm encouraged to find my soul mate, by the way: by listening to my friends and family attempt to destroy my confidence by listing all of the reasons why any self-respecting woman should not get romantically involved with me. You can't cook. You don't exercise. You don't floss enough. You're not getting any younger. You can barely take care of yourself. Now go out there and find the woman of your dreams!

I try to live my life as the president does. What better role model can an American have than the leader of the free world? So whenever I hear one of these "ought to" lectures, I immediately think of the president.

Is he married? Yes. Does he exercise? Yes. Does he floss? Probably. He has a nice smile. So I can't really argue with friends and family on those fronts.

But does the president cook for himself? I doubt it very much. For starters, he has a staff of chefs. If he's craving Wendy's at 2 a.m., they have to whip up a Dave's Hot 'N Juicy burger right away.

I'm not sure the president does much with the vegetable garden at the White House, either. Maybe he does, I don't know. But it seems the first lady does most of the supervising of the garden. She's the force behind the "Let's Move!" campaign, which promotes healthy eating. It's OK, but I much prefer Dolley Madison's "Let's Eat Ice Cream!" campaign.

The president is a busy man. He doesn't have time to cook. I'm a busy man. I don't have time to cook. I much prefer eating cereal. Many bowls of cereal. You can eat cereal any time of the day. It's easy. It's delicious. It's nutritious, if you choose the right brands.

I often serve cereal to houseguests. They love it. Here's a tip: If you want to make something extra special for your guests, try mixing four or more brands of cereal into one big bowl. It doesn't even matter which brands. Go ahead, combine Raisin Bran with Lucky Charms. It's not a bad idea to balance the sugar and marshmallows with a little fruit.

For whatever reason, many of my friends and relatives are cereal snobs. They look down on me for eating cereal so much. "You can't eat cereal all the time!" As a way to further taunt me, they post pictures of their home-cooked meals onto Facebook. The arrogance comes across in every caption: "Made this for dinner after finding the recipe on Pinterest. It's vegetable lasagna, but I added an extra dash of pepper to put my own twist on it."

And each photo receives at least 10 "likes." When I post a picture of my outstanding Froot Loops-Rice Krispies milk stew, it's completely ignored. How anyone can prefer vegetable lasagna over a Froot Loops/Rice Krispies mix is beyond me.

I can't be the only adult male who'd rather explore cereal mixology than learn how to cook. If you're like me, let's swap cereal recipes. I'll gladly share my secret behind the Froot Loops-Rice Krispies milk stew. Even with you, Mr. President. Let's eat cereal!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hosting "Saturday Night Live": Part II

It's a dream of mine to host Saturday Night Live. If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know this, because I once wrote an entry listing the reasons why I'd be a capable host. I am so eager to host SNL that I created a monologue for myself, featuring special appearances by Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin and Michael Cera. I thought it was rather entertaining, myself.

I published that entry three days after the premiere of the current SNL season. We're now halfway through the season, and I've yet to receive an invite. Disappointing, to say the least.

I don't have any formal training in acting, but I am confident I can be an SNL triple threat if given the chance. I can star in movies, I can perform live, and I can write sketches. Preferably in that order.

Later tonight, Lindsay Lohan will host SNL for a fourth time. Before I Googled her name, I hadn't realized she'd hosted so many times before. I'm not saying she doesn't deserve to be on the show again. I'm rooting for her to have a successful career comeback. Her personal problems were never my business, so I have no reason to hold them against her, or wish anything but the best for her.

But there are two reasons why I feel I should be allowed to host SNL before she does: 1) She's six years younger than I am, and she's had plenty of opportunities already; and 2) according to IMDB, she's "known for" Herbie Fully Loaded and the 2004 MTV Movie Awards. Aren't I more qualified to host SNL than Lindsay based on the fact that I didn't appear in Herbie Fully Loaded and on the 2004 MTV Movie Awards?

In any event, I promised that I'd continue to write sketches for myself, just in case my dream comes true. As I said, I've written a monologue. I'm skipping the opening sketch; it's usually political in nature, and the host generally doesn't take part in it.

Oftentimes, the monologue is followed by a pre-taped commercial parody. So here's one that I've written, inspired by the end of Oscar season. It's pretty self-explanatory. Enjoy.

"When you're an actor, there's no greater feeling than being nominated during awards season. You're invited to parties. You're winning awards. You're wearing fancy clothes. You're talking to Ryan Seacrest on red carpets.

"But what happens to you when there are no more awards to be handed out, and the parties are over? Do you feel an inexplicable void in your life?

"You're not alone. Dozens of actors every year suffer from what is informally known as post-awards-seasonal blues. A nagging feeling that the average film critic or moviegoer won't pay attention to you until next fall, at the earliest.

"Post-awards-seasonal blues may be related to the uncertainty regarding whether you'll ever be nominated again. This is particularly true if you're between the ages of 10 and 21.

"Fortunately, there's a cure. Trophyum will keep you motivated as you work through the relatively unexciting spring months, attending film festivals and promoting movies that aren't all that important in the grand scheme of things.

"Trophyum is not for everyone. Do not use if you are dating Jennifer Aniston or will star in Martin Scorsese or Woody Allen's next movie. Side effects may include loss of hair, bloating, and an increasing desire to be followed around by TMZ.

"Trophyum: It gives you bliss once you've gone A-list."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Just Say No To Coffee

When I was a child, I was taught to stay away from drugs. I was warned repeatedly -- by my parents, by my teachers, by my favorite TV shows -- that I should never, under any circumstances, use illegal drugs. Drugs are dangerous, they said. They could harm you. They could kill you. They are really expensive. And so on.

It really didn't take much to convince me that I shouldn't touch the stuff. I recall watching a television commercial in which the toxic effects that drugs have on the brain were compared to an egg being dropped into a frying pan. You probably remember this ad if you were raised on 1980s TV, as I was. It had a profound influence on me. Because of that commercial, I haven't eaten an egg in two decades.

My elementary school came up with an even more creative anti-drug campaign. It assembled all of the students into the gym, where we were greeted by five or six people dressed as real-life professional wrestlers. They told us to stay away from our studies and do hard drugs. No, that's not it. They told us to stay away from drugs and study hard. And then we all participated in an impromptu battle royal.

I was a pro wrestling fan back then, and I knew the sport was scripted, but I usually had no problem suspending disbelief. But the idea of having 1980s-era "pro wrestlers" lecturing kids to not use drugs...well, that was a stretch, in my opinion. The message would have been more believable had it come from, say, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who, in another memorable commercial, advised me to "GET OUT OF THERE!" if a kid were to offer me a drug. (Walk up to any man in his early 30s and say, "I'm not a chicken, you're a turkey!" He'll understand the reference immediately. Trust me.)

I make light of these campaigns, but they obviously worked, because I don't use illegal drugs now. I don't even consume much caffeine. It's a drug. It can be harmful in large doses. And I've never seen a pro wrestler or a Ninja Turtle ingest caffeine. So aside from the occasional soft drink, I'm caffeine-free.

The same cannot be said for my friends. They are absolutely hooked on caffeine. They are caffeine junkies, always looking for their next score.

The caffeine cycle begins the moment they wake up in the morning. They're tired, their eyes are red, and they desperately need their fix of caffeine; specifically, they have to have coffee. And they're very open about it. "I didn't get much sleep last night. I can barely keep my eyes open. I need something to perk me up, something to keep me going for the next few hours. I need...COFFEE."

This is typical of a caffeine junkie. Not only are they addicted to coffee, but they're addicted to telling other people that they need coffee.

I feel uncomfortable around coffee addicts, to be honest. They give me the third degree when I tell them I don't drink coffee. They can't even comprehend such a thing. "You don't drink coffee?!?!" That question is asked with the same incredulous inflection as two other inquiries I hear often: "You're not married yet?!?!?!" and "You've never seen a Godfather movie?!?!?!" On my bucket list, drinking coffee to stay awake ranks somewhere in between watching The Godfather and tying the knot. I'll let you figure out the exact order.

But that's so typical of coffee drinkers -- they act like I'm the one who has the problem. They can't even bring themselves to admit they have an addiction. "I don't have a coffee problem. I can quit anytime I want." Mind you, they'll say this as they're holding a 32-ounce tumbler filled with piping-hot coffee.

Aside from the fact that caffeine can be addictive, I find the idea of consuming a very hot drink for the purpose of keeping alert to be counterintuitive. There's an immediacy to coffee, because you need it to stay awake, but you can't drink it right away, because you'll burn your mouth if you do. You have to sit there and blow on it repeatedly, willing it to a lower temperature. Take a small sip...blowwwww...take another small sip...blowwwww...get annoyed that it's still hot...blowwwww. That's a sign of addiction if I've ever seen one.

You could argue that pizza is also very hot and can burn your mouth. But you can afford to let a slice of pizza cool off for a few minutes. And pizza still tastes pretty good when it's cold, doesn't it? No one drinks a cup of cold, day-old coffee for breakfast.

Bottom line: Don't be a coffee addict. You'd only be hurting yourself. If you're one of those people who has to stop at Starbucks in the morning before going to work, seek help. If you're one of those people who refills your mug with coffee every hour, seek help. If you really believe that the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup, seek help.

And if someone ever offers you coffee and a fried egg, GET OUT OF THERE!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Promoting With Friends

As you may know, I recently released a new humor book, Nonsense for Nothing. So far, the response to it has been very positive. My family can't recommend it highly enough.

I'm not sure how my friends feel about the book. To be honest, I haven't told too many of them that it's now available. I'm not much of a self-promoter. It's not easy for me to talk about myself. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I suppose this is one reason why I've yet to be invited onto a late-night show to discuss the book.

(If I were a guest on a late-night program, it would be the shortest segment in TV talk show history:

"Shane, tell me about your book."

"Yeah, it's called Nonsense for Nothing, and in it I talk about love and pop culture and glasses and stuff. I guess it's entertaining."

"Very good. Valentine's Day is coming up. Do you have any plans?"

"No. I'm single."

"Yes, I understand you recently came out of a long-term relationship?"

"No, that's incorrect. I think your researchers got wrong information. I've been single for a long time."

"OK...well, the title of the book is Nonsense for Nothing. Shane, thanks so much for stopping by. We'll be right back with Lana Del Rey!")

I did share an iTunes link to my book on my Facebook page, but only after great hesitation. I was initially worried that I would be bothering my friends by plugging a book they might not even be interested in reading. But I became less concerned after I logged onto Facebook, scrolled down my News Feed, and counted 11 or 12 baby pictures that had been posted by friends earlier in the day.

Make no mistake: I am so happy that my friends are raising healthy children who are impossibly adorable. But since they've chosen to provide hourly updates on their babies on Facebook -- they never even bothered to ask me if I wanted to receive updates -- I won't feel too badly about repeatedly linking to my book. They can promote their babies, and I'll promote my books.

In one sense, Nonsense for Nothing is my own baby. I created it and raised it to be the best humor book it can be. In another, more important sense, it's a book that I want my friends to download.

I've posted the iTunes link to Nonsense for Nothing on Facebook five or six times, but I don't believe many friends have seen it. My pals tend to act surprised when I mention the book to them in person. "You released a book? Congratulations! I'll be the first one to download it!" "Too late for that, it's already received a lot of downloads." "Great! I'll download it right now!" They never download it "right now," but it's the thought that counts, right?

I wish my friends would be more honest with me. My feelings wouldn't be hurt. I'd rather they say, "I don't think I'll download your book. I'm not reading anything you write unless it's available through a Washington Post or Yahoo! social reader." Or, "I'm not going to see your dumb band play at a dumb bar. I retract my 'Maybe' from your group invitation." Or, "Learn how to cook already. We're all posting pictures of our dinner every night on Facebook while you're wasting your time eating cereal. Don't be anti-social."

Because most of my friends haven't seen my links, they seem to have trouble finding my book online. I've told them they can download it by searching for it on iTunes. Their standard response: "Can you send me a link?" I inform them that they can find the iTunes link to my book on my Facebook wall. "Cool," they reply, "send me a link." Note to Apple: you really ought to promote this iTunes thing. I have friends who have no idea how to access it and search for stuff on it.

It's slowly sinking in that my links are not very effective, for whatever reason. I'll still continue to post the links, though. At least until I become a father and have something new to promote.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

May I Throw Out Your Wedding Invitation, Please?

Hello, my happily married friends. I haven't spoken to many of you since your wedding, so I thought I'd check in and say hello. How are you and your spouse? Are you both well? And how is your newborn child? Is parenthood everything you'd hoped it would be?


I need to ask you a question. See, I have a small problem. My apartment is an absolute mess. In particular, I have a lot of clutter on my kitchen table. There are piles and piles of papers and cards on there. Lot of old mail, notes to know, things like that.

I'm not even sure why I hold on to these papers and cards. I have no use for them. They've long since outlived their usefulness. I don't think I need them anymore, to be honest. I should probably shred them or throw them out or something. What do you think? Should I toss them? I should toss them, shouldn't I?

You're right. I should get rid of all of the papers and cards on the table. Why keep them there? They don't need to be there. So, since we're in agreement that I should throw out the papers and cards, let me ask you one more question.

May I throw out your wedding invitation, please?

I feel guilty asking you this, because your wedding was such a special moment. But it was a long time ago...what was it, one year, two years ago? I don't need to save the invitation since the event already took place, right?

I know you put so much effort into designing the invitation. The ribbon on the front was lovely. The calligraphy was beautiful. I was so honored to receive your "request" for my "presence" as you "celebrated" your "love" with your then-fiance/fiancee. In fact, I recall you were so excited to announce the details of your wedding that, for the first time, you revealed your middle name to me, inside the card. What a memorable moment that was in our friendship.

But now that you've celebrated your love and you had your fun, I request your permission to throw out your invitation.

Your wedding invitation, I should emphasize, was the perfect way to follow up on your creative save-the-date card/magnet/pencil/bookmark/photo/sticker/thing. Those of you who sent magnets, you can be sure that I still have them displayed prominently on the front door of my refrigerator. Whenever I'm in the mood for orange juice and I walk towards the fridge, I'm reminded of the day you were married. And also the phone number for Piazza's Pizzas and Wings, since their magnet is right next to yours.

Since I brought it you mind if I throw out your magnet, too? I don't need to remember the date anymore, do I? You'll eventually write something about your anniversary on Facebook, won't you?

Oh, by the way, I haven't had the chance to thank you for your sweet "thank you" card you sent me after you received my wedding gift. I'm not sure why you needed four cupcake and muffin pans, but I was more than happy to supply them to you. Did you hold a bake sale to raise money to buy a home? In any event, I'm glad you're putting them to good use.

And thank you also for the "thank you" card you sent me after I bought you another present following the birth of your child. It was so cute how your son/daughter insisted that he/she sign the card. I wasn't expecting the card to be signed by you, your spouse, and your newborn child. He/She is, what, three months, four months old? Where did he/she learn to express himself/herself so clearly, and with such poignancy? I bet he/she reminded you to send me the card, didn't he/she? He/she said, "Hey, did you remember to thank Shane for the blanket/diapers/jar warmer/something-or-other he sent us? Don't forget!"

I accept your "thank you." You're welcome. Would it be alright with you if I put your "thank you" cards in the trash, too? I thank you in advance for your cooperation on this.

Again, thanks for hearing me out. I wanted to run all this by you and explain myself so you'll understand and won't be offended in case you ever ask me what I did with your cards.

We can talk about what to do with all of the birthday cards you've given me at another time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Has Anyone Ever Told You...

I was at a friend's apartment last week, and I found myself in a conversation with a nice man whom I'd never met before. Very friendly. As we were making small chitchat (as if there's any other kind), he spoke the following words: "Hey, has anyone ever told you..."

Ohhhh, boy. I knew what was coming.

" look like [insert celebrity's name here]?"

Ugh. I knew it. I knew he was going to compare my physical appearance to that of a celebrity. There wasn't a doubt in my mind. It was so predictable the moment the words "Hey, has anyone ever told you" came out of his mouth. The question is never, "Hey, has anyone ever told you your blog is hilarious?" Or, "Hey, has anyone ever told you that you should've won an Oscar by now?" The first six words in the question are always meant to set up a long and pointless debate over which actor or singer or reality TV star I look like.

We have this unusual preoccupation with comparing ourselves to the rich and famous. We've all had the following conversation with our friends: If Hollywood was to make a movie about our lives, who would play us? I can make an educated guess as to who would play my friends and me in a movie: No one. Because none of us are remotely interesting. My Facebook News Feed reminds me of this every day.

(But for the record, if Hollywood did make a movie about me, I'd cast Armie Hammer as myself. He portrayed identical twins in The Social Network, so it would stand to reason that he could play both me and my brother, who kind of looks like me. And Evan Rachel Wood would co-star as the tormented girlfriend I wish I had to make my story more compelling.)

Back to my friend's apartment. The nice man strongly believed that I resemble a well-known celebrity. Who? Woody Allen.

This was a first. I've been compared to many stars through the years, but never Woody Allen. Woody is a real stretch, or so I thought at first. I'm often grouped with other short people who wear glasses, because, as I've detailed before, all short people who wear glasses look like they're related.

I laughed when he mentioned Woody's name. Then we talked about Woody some more, and he slowly began to convince me that I do look a little like Woody. And I grew more and more neurotic over the possibility of looking like Woody. Neurotic like Woody. I was feeling more and more like Woody with each passing minute. Maybe Diane Keaton should play my girlfriend in the movie about my life.

As luck would have it, I ran into the same man on the street a few days ago. Upon further reflection, he said, I don't look like Woody Allen. I thought, Finally, he came to his senses. Then he told me I actually look like a cast member of one of the Police Academy movies, though he couldn't remember which one. I'll assume he wasn't referring to Hightower, Tackleberry or the guy who made all the sound effects.

I don't think I look like a celebrity. I think I look like Shane, which is good enough for me. And Armie Hammer. And Evan Rachel Wood/Diane Keaton. And Woody Allen, if he wants to direct the movie about my life.