We were friends before he knew I was a blonde

He's got a thing for brunettes only -- but we blossomed via e-mail, and now we're stuck with me!

Topics: Sex, Since You Asked, Craigslist, Love and Sex,

Hi, Cary–

I have a relatively minor problem, but given how frequently it eats at me, I’ve decided it’s time to address it.

I’ve been dating this guy for a few months now. I met him online, of all stupid things, in the Strictly Platonic section of Craigslist because I was new to the area and wanted somebody to hang out with. This is relevant because he didn’t know what I looked like when we started e-mailing, and we were friends for about four months before any sort of romance emerged.

This guy and I get along famously. We have a similar sense of warped humor, and damn it, we have fun together. The problem is that before anything romantic happened between us, he told me he didn’t like blonde girls, or redheads either, for that matter, and that he was really only attracted to brunettes — dark brunettes, with dark brown hair and matching dark features.

Do I have dark hair? No. I have strawberry blonde hair and light green eyes.

My hair color has never been an area of distress in my assessment of my appearance. In fact, I haven’t really ever had any hang-ups about the way I look, at least until this guy rolled around. He claims now that it doesn’t matter, and yet, when he’s talking about a girl he thinks is good-looking, or thought was good-looking in the past or whatever, the issue of how dark her hair was always seems to come up in the same way that a normal guy might mention a woman’s legs.

I find myself staring at my stupid light hair in the mirror, once rather content with its warm California glow and they way it looked as though it was on fire when the sun hit it. Now all I see is that it’s not brown — even its underbelly, and even when I squint.

I know this isn’t his fault. But I guess my question is: How much does a physical ideal matter? Does everyone have one, and if so, how often do the people you wind up with actually fit it? I should mention that until relatively recently, he was in an extremely long-term relationship with a girl who matched his “ideal” to a T. But he broke up with her. Then again, he’s also mentioned he’s mildly attracted to his cousin. What the hell is going on?

Blonde and Bitter

Dear Blonde and Bitter,



It has been suggested that a preference for a body type is a taboo; this means it has great power. If it is taboo, then it has great power. That is where we store the things with great power: in the taboo box. Because the taboo box is strong. And we let taboos out only on holidays.

So you come sheepishly, and I say, No, no, don’t be sheepish, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Of course you’re uncomfortable with this!

It is like the Internet is making arranged marriages. (You wonder: Does a kid, facing an arranged marriage, say to the arrangers: “Sorry, I only get off on blondes with nose rings!”?) Visually unsuitable partners are put together who never would have cast eyes at each other before — because they didn’t cast eyes at each other in time to look away and move on.

I like to try new things. It means that often I do not finish old things. I have another thing wrong with me, too. Sometimes I don’t like to try new things. I stick to the old thing. So on the one hand I like new things and on the other hand I like to stick with things. I view everything as a character flaw. You’re supposed to get it that when I say the sky is falling, I don’t mean literally. I mean it just seems that way most of the time, and we chuckle about it.

Meaning what? As to the blondeness and the fetish?

Your saying that it eats at you eats at me. I think because it’s so elemental. We’re in a savage state here. We’re operating in a primitive way, in the realm of taboo and urge. We are consuming and being consumed; things are eating at us.

Do you like the new style? (Said with a flip of the head. I was reading Fence, and it was like a permission slip.)

Permission to speak frankly, sir?
Permission granted!
May I lie down, sir?
No, but you may assume an oblique position!

This is written just upon arising. That may be another reason. The stress, you know, of large sums of money. Yesterday was Many Forms Day, like going into the Army. We made tea with tea bags and tried not to laugh.

So today is a new day, many dollars shorter. Try not to laugh.

So I’m boring you and holding you captive. You really have things to do. So let me read your letter again now and see what we can do:

OK. Upon rereading, my favorite part is where he says he’s mildly attracted to his cousin.

Oh, dear. I’m not helping.

Here is something. You seem smart. You can use this: The taboo and the fetishistic have power. Is that good for a relationship? Often not — because, precisely because, it has such power. If you have deep brown hair, then you can reduce him to a fawning slave. You don’t want that. You would grow tired of your slave. It’s better for you not to have the fetish thing, or not to own the fetish. But you may borrow it for holidays and special occasions.

So do this: Buy a wig and wear it for fun. See what happens. It will be like high black boots and garters, or a whip. But don’t make fun of him. Be gentle.

Now, what bugs me is we talk about these things as if we really know. And we don’t. And we lower it by talking as if we know. Why do we do that? I think: because we know how much power it has, the taboo. We know how much power it has, so we pretend. We say, Oh, it’s only sex. Like, oh, it’s only God. It’s only death. It’s only the mystery of existence. Like, it’s only the mystery of existence, and don’t worry, I have devices. (But I do have to get up in the morning and go to the guillotine. Just warning you. Sorry.)

(And to Fence I say, I too was literary once. Have you ever tried to get a job?!)

So I’m back, and I’m highbrow again. You feel me?

And finally, the words I long to hear spoken to him, given his predilection: You feel me, Cuz? You feel me?

Yes, I feel you, Cuz, she’ll say. I feel you loud and clear.



Curl up tonight with a good, strong fetish



Makes a great gift. Can be personalized for the giftee of your choice. Signed first editions on sale now.

What? You want more advice?

 

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>