Friday, May 28, 2010

A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF GREAT TALENT

I just had the strangest dream. I was in a corner room of some office building in Midtown, New York City, interviewing Gena Rowlands. The sit down obviously was happening some time in the past because she was 69, and I was 35 -- which is off chronologically because she turns 80 next month, and I just turned 41, but it was only a dream.

I know this because at one point in the interview, she started going on about how she looks her age, and I begged to differ.

"No you do not," I told her.

"Yes, I do. I look 69," she replied.

"You do not look 69. You look as good, better even, than you did in A Woman Under the Influence in the '70s, when you were in your 40s." I reminded her of how, in her mid 60s, she played the romantic lead in Unhook the Stars, and came off as being just as sexy and desirable as Marisa Tomei, which was an even greater feat in 1996 than it is now.

"And you do not look 35."

I took the compliment and ran. The interview was over, and I had just been complimented by Gena Rowlands.

I'm not sure why I had this dream. It's been ages since I've thought about Gena Rowlands. Maybe it's because I have been thinking about Simone Signoret a lot lately, and Signoret kind of reminds me of a French Rowlands. (This, by the way, is a connection that I made for the first time just a few minutes ago.)

I'm also reading a book at the moment called The Academy Awards: The Complete History of Oscar, so I have best actresses on my mind. Yes, I know Rowlands has never won a best actress Oscar, despite two nominations, and I haven't even gotten to 1974, the year she received the first of her nominations for A Woman Under the Influence, but what can I say?

It was only a dream.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

THE WRONG GUY

Have you ever gone out with the wrong guy? Like, literally? I did about five years ago during my first trip to Buenos Aires. I was at a club one night, hanging out with two guys, friends. One of them I was interested in, the other not so much. I gave them both my phone number and went home alone, intent on letting the chips fall where they may.

I didn't expect them to come crashing down with such a noisy thud. The next day one of them called. I'd forgotten both of their names, but I assumed Federico must be the one I liked because no one named Federico is ever not cute, right?

Wrong.

Imagine my surprise -- and utter disappointment -- when the one I had zero interest in showed up in my hotel lobby to pick me up for our date. I tried to hide my disappointment, and I think I succeeded through the walk across the street to the restaurant, through the appetizers and through the main course. But on the walk back to my hotel, it became painfully obvious to me that Federico didn't want to let this date end with a firm handshake.

I could play the early flight card since I was returning home the next day. Or I could fake illness. I decided to do the right thing and tell him the truth. I don't know what possessed me to do it. Was I afraid my nose would grow if I told a lie? Or was my mean streak coming out to play? As if it were all some colossal joke, I told Federico that when he called I actually didn't know whether it was him or his friend, so I wasn't sure who was going to show up tonight.

He wasn't laughing. Was I disappointed? He wanted to know. I didn't say yes. I don't think I said no either. I'm not sure what I said, but the look on my face must have told him what he needed to know. He accepted a firm handshake in the lobby and wished me a safe flight home.

I saw Federico a few times after I moved to Buenos Aires (always wearing the same white pants -- Is there a no-white-after-Labor Day rule in a country that has no Labor Day?), but he always pretended not to see me. As for his friend, I never saw him again. At least I don't think I did. Maybe I did, and I just didn't realize it was him. Maybe I even slept with him. And I still don't know his name.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

MIND, BODY OR SOUL?

Today I am 41 years old. But I don't want to talk about that right now. If you want to read my thoughts on being a year older, check this out on my other blog, "Pump Up the Volume" at True/Slant.

Right now, I'm thinking about language. Two in particular: Spanish vs. English.

I was just on the phone with my friend Rob, who did the old-fashioned thing and called me on the telephone to wish me a happy birthday. Remember when people used to do that? (Not that I'm knocking Facebook: I now get exponentially more birthday greetings than ever before!) As usual, Rob and I got to talking about boys in Buenos Aires, particularly dating in Spanish as opposed to dating in English. My two semi-serious boyfriends since moving to BA both spoke English, so we communicated strictly in English. With every other guy I've dated in BA, however, Spanish has been our primary interaction language.

To be honest, I could never see myself getting serious with a guy who doesn't speak English. Not only is it kind of a turn off (it screams: I'm provincial, and I couldn't care less about life outside of Argentina, or South America!), but it's just not conducive to effective communion.

While it's been an excellent way for me to practice the language and learn new ways of expressing myself, it fills me with even more dread and insecurity than usual. In addition to having to pay extra-close attention to what is being said, I become a different person in Spanish than I am in English. My dry wit, my sarcasm, my loveable diva-ness don't come across. In Spanish, I'm on my best behavior, and my words are as straightforward and clich├ęd as those of the people I'm talking to. "Hola. Como estas?" "Todo bien. Vos?" "Bien. Que contas?" Yada yada yada, somebody shoot me now!

So, what, pray tell, can these guys who continue to call and seek follow-up dates possibly be seeing in me? It must be my looks, which I find incredibly hard to believe. I've never been crazy about my appearance, and I've always felt that my personality is what reels guys in. But here the entire game has changed. All I have is the way I look, which, never having been my primary selling point, makes me feel inadequate and insecure in a way I rarely did in the United States.

In other words, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the guys to take a good look at me and realize that I'm really not that hot.

Or maybe my personality isn't actually as good as I think it is. Maybe my jokes and my attitude suck, and it's always been about my looks. I suppose if that were the case, it should be a boost to my ego, but it probably wouldn't be. Perhaps I'm one of those weird people who actually value personality over looks, not only in others, but in myself as well.

Now there's a birthday surprise!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD; IN BUENOS AIRES, DATING IS A PLAYGROUND

Last week I was nearly bored to death. I went out with this guy, and the two hours or so that we spent together were actually duller than watching paint dry. There was nothing wrong with the guy per se. He was perfectly nice and a perfect gentleman. But we just didn't have any chemistry. I spent the entire time praying for it to be over soon (which, come to think of it, I've been doing on every date I've been on since returning to BA one month ago).

When we parted ways, I thought that would be that, and for exactly eight days, it was. Then last night, he unexpectedly sent me the following instant message:

"si no te gsute decie asi te elimino"

Aside from the fact that his syntax is laughable, threatening me with expulsion from your list of MSN contacts if I don't give you the time of day pronto might be a good way to get my attention, but it's the worst possible way to hold it. I was actually kind of relieved, though. Now my ignoring him -- as he was me, by the way -- was justified. Guys in Buenos Aires can be ridiculously whiny at times, and although communication is a two-way street, when you don't talk to each other for a while, they can make it seem like it's totally your fault.

It's another example of their spectacular narcissim and insecurity (a deadly combination, but here they always seem to go hand in hand?), and one of the many reasons I've almost completely lost interest in them. A couple of weeks ago, I received three text messages at six in the morning from someone I had once gone out with who had seen me in a nightclub. Each text said the same thing: "No me hablas." Oh dear, here we go again! My question to him, which I didn't bother asking, was, do your legs and lips work? Why didn't you come up to me and say hello if it's important enough to you to send me three text messages. I don't understand why these guys have to be so off-puttingly passive-aggressive. Perhaps that's how the mating game is played here. Where I come from, it's a complete turn off.

But I forgot I'm dealing with children. I won't be saying anything to that guy the next time I see him, and he pretends not to see me, and I was relieved that I now had the perfect excuse to continue ignoring last week's date.

In fact, I took it one step further. Just so he got the message loud and clear, I promptly deleted him from my MSN. Next time he wants to get my attention, a simple "hello" (or in his case, a badly spelled "hloa") would do.

Playtime is over.