Category Archives: Looking Thin And Pretty

In order to horrify my mother, I have devised the following reality TV show

Way back in 2003/04, when my college girlfriend and I were living together in D.C. and bearing witness to all sorts of bad behavior on the infrequent occasions when we’d go to the Black Cat to drink Diet 7Up and meet with our napkin folding club, we devised the following concept for a reality television series. The concept has come a long way since then, in that I finally wrote it down, and I hear that other people are actually filming it for HBO. I’m going to wait and see if the HBO thing makes money before I inform Lena Dunham that I registered Poor Girls with the Writer’s Guild seven years ago. In any event, I now bring you…

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POOR GIRLS

a derivative, tragicomical, reality-based television series about a trinity of emotionally needy, financially impoverished, artistically confused, professionally aimless, aged-twenty-something female roommates in the big city

Treatment by

Wistar Murray

LOGLINE: Sex in the City meets Little Orphan Annie.

SYNOPSIS: We document the various Brooklyn-themed misadventures of three attractive, charismatic young ladies at the height of their seductive powers as they struggle to keep money in their pockets, get consistently laid, and preserve their dignity in a metropolitan setting. All three heroines issue from middling-class suburban families, but appear to relish being poor, slutty, and bohemian in their Five Boroughs personas. They also view their penury as crucial to maintaining their increasingly slim figures. Series includes an undercurrent of competition to reveal who can debase herself the most for free drinks, as well as some elements of frenemy. From episode to episode, we watch the girls largely succeed in getting by on their charm and sexual appetites, but they occasionally surrender to a valley of tears (see E. 5, a.k.a. “The Heartbreak Episode”). All three heroines are actively looking for the Oliver Twists to complement their Pippi Longstockings, with a preference for the former to play an Instrument and/or write first chapters of novels while waiting to claim his family inheritance.

PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS:

We fall in love with Eleanor when we see her updating her private sex diary in a cubicle at FedEx/Kinko’s, where she writes regularly because the staff there doesn’t force her to buy anything, such as bubble wrap or Post-It Notes.

We fall in love with Ashley when she entertains a rare doubt about the long-term propriety of sleeping with so many assholes, and wonders if her new blanket should be electric, like a fence.

We fall in love with Mary-Katherine when we see her make a pit stop in a Midtown cathedral during a Sunday morning walk of shame. We soon gather that she is not there to atone for her sins, but rather to seek the refuge of a clean lavatory, where she can pee and check her hair for cum without having to a buy a Starbucks coffee.

SEVEN EPISODES:

1. We open on frustrated sex between Principal Character Ashley and an unnamed hipster on her air mattress (see Example #1 of Snappy Dialogue). After the gentleman leaves, Ashley plans her search for a real mattress to replace her erotically disappointing Aerobed™. We see an extensive monologue in the confessional room (Eleanor’s closet) about Ashley’s terror of bedbugs, evinced to the degree that she once abstained from casual sex for two months to avoid catching them. “Bedbugs are the AIDS of the 21st century,” she often tells the camera. She texts last night’s unnamed hipster to find out how he feels about street mattresses. She wonders aloud if she can avoid buying a comforter for her bed by investing in thicker pajamas.

2. We see Principal Character Mary-Katherine embrace a new sexual identity as a Craigslist Unicorn. This endangered species is willing to hook up with couples to indulge the wife’s last-ditch efforts to save the marriage. The couple is typically so grateful to its Unicorn that the husband will shower it in gifts and free restaurant dining experiences, often without the wife’s knowledge. Mary-Katherine is empowered by her humanitarian role and we see a montage of her flirting quietly on the internet at a neighborhood cyber-cafe.

3. We watch as Principal Character Eleanor is forced, for an entire week, to wear the whorish boots she bought last Sluttoween because her more practical winter boots are in the boot repair shop and she doesn’t have the cash to get them out. She feels awkward going babysitting in three-inch, transparent heels, although she has to admit that the boots do a fine job of protecting her feet from inclement weather. In this episode’s psychodramatic subplot, Eleanor is disappointed to discover that her new crush’s adult Asberger’s also manifests itself in lovemaking. She had wrongly assumed that her new crush would land on the higher end of the orgasm spectrum.

4. We watch as Ashley copes with the daily trials of being cold and hungry and bored with all her outfits. In this episode she discovers that if she sweet-talks a junior associate lawyer she’s been seeing (“Ryan,” a recurring minor character who fits awkwardly into the Poor Girls universe except on the nights when he’s doling out gratuit lines of coke), she can exchange fitting room blow jobs for cute clothes from Topshop. In a series of rapid cuts, we see Ashley order nothing but hot tea at expensive restaurants and then take the complimentary creams and sugars home to make her lunches with later.

5. Informally known as “The Heartbreak Episode.” When Mary-Katherine meets a man who is poorer, sluttier, and more beautiful than she is on the subway platform, we are right there with her. Three days after their steamy makeout session in the rear of a Dunkin’ Donuts, when he doesn’t respond to her flurry of obscene text messages, she is comforted/vindicated by finding his indie band’s CD in the dollar-bin of a used record store.

6. We watch as Eleanor goes on a quest for cheap condoms, finds Truth along the way.

7. We watch as the girls prepare for an elegant dinner party hosted around their dumpster-dived coffee table. Mary-Katherine, who is responsible for the salad (and bad at keeping up with her laundry), pats dry the romaine lettuce with the same towel that she’d earlier used to dry her hair. We watch with horror as the dinner guests pick damaged, dyed-blonde strands out of their first course. But then the night is redeemed by cheap karaoke around the corner and we rejoice along with the girls, who have by this point become our dear friends.

EXAMPLES OF SNAPPY DIALOGUE:

1.

“This mattress needs more juice,” Ashley says to her latest one-night stand.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” says the one-night stand.

“Don’t worry, doll,” says Ashley. “It’s not as uncomfortable as it looks. It’s like sleeping on a water bed, except with air.”

We hear the roar of the bed’s engine when she plugs it into the wall.

“Voila,” says Ashley, disposing of her bra and panties. “Inflated and ready for fucking.”

2.

“That douchebag came all over my t**s last night,” says Mary-Katherine.

“I thought you were into that,” says Ashley.

“Normally, yeah, but he stained my sheets and you know I just went to the laundromat. Quarters don’t grow on trees in Brooklyn.”

3.

“Who the fuck took my earblugs?” screams a wasted Ashley at 7am after she returns home from a long night of partying.

“Your what now?” says Mary-Katherine, who is making ramen dinner in the kitchen/living area.

“My earblugs! I can hear the family in the wall!”

“Why don’t you just have an orgy with them?” screams back Mary-Katherine. “You do with everyone else!”

Cut to Eleanor’s bedroom, where she’s straddling a groggy, half-naked bartender.

“We’ve got time for a quickie before I have to shower and go to work,” she purrs as she fiddles with what could either be a mole or his third nipple.

The bartender stares up at her blankly, stupidly, as if she is a ceiling tile.

“Did you hear me?” says Eleanor. “I said wake up and fuck me before my babysitting job.”

At his leisure the bartender removes the earplugs one by one from his ear sockets.

“Hm?” he says. “Are you talking?”

“Jesus Christ,” says Eleanor, and jumps up to borrow a condom from one of her roommates.

THE CLINCHER:

Eleanor’s Truth (see E. 6) turns out to be scabies.

The bride’s ego

You never know where or when the bride’s enormous ego will surface. Case in point:

“I just want a low-key wedding, Mom. Laid-back, informal, no-pressure. I don’t want to cave to the wedding industry with all its check-lists and up-dos and monogrammed water bottles.”

“Sure. Fine. We’ll just do family, a few friends. I’ll arrange some flowers from my garden. . .”

“Do we really NEED flowers?”

“I guess not. What about bridesmaids? Diamond rings? Crabcakes?”

“No way, Mom. I’m what’s called an enlightened, modern bride. I don’t need all the wedding foofaraw.”

“Okay. Well, you’ll need a dress.”

“Yes, and I want THE CHEAPEST WEDDING DRESS EVER. I want to be able to brag to my grandchildren about HOW CHEAP MY DRESS WAS. I want to flounce across the dance floor WITH THE PRICE TAG ON so everyone can see WHAT A GOOD SHOPPER I AM and how I didn’t BUY INTO THE SATIN PRICE JACKING that takes place at SNOOTY WEDDING BOUTIQUES. This December when I walk down the aisle carpeted in USED CHRISTMAS WRAPPING PAPER and CRACKED PISTACHIO NUTS, I want to hold a bouquet made of STORE RECEIPTS so my guests will be appropriately AWESTRUCK by my bridal bargain-hunting SKILLS. Suck on that, all you SPEND-HAPPY BRIDES trying on inflated GOWNS in your silky unmentionables. I DARE YOU to find a dress cheaper than mine. I DARE YOU. You will ALL FAIL because I am the THRIFTIEST PRINCESS and I will FLAUNT my ALUMINUM FOIL TIARA until all you BITCHES CRY.”

“I’m so proud of you, baby.”

New trend in weddings: The mini bride

I bought three expensive bridal magazines this weekend so I could include my bedridden Georgia grandmother in my wedding planning. But no one seems less interested in looking at the glossy photos than me and and my grandmother, so I have delegated the wedding planning to Big Wistar’s round-the-clock nurses Elaine and Sheila. Together we sit on the couch during their shifts and decide what my colors will be and how I will wear my hair. By these means I have learned a lot about weddings, especially what not to do.

For instance, Elaine has a cousin whose recent wedding incorporated two matrons of honor, two maids of honor, thirteen bridesmaids, four flower girls, two ring men, and a “mini bride” who wore an exact replica of her wedding dress. I rolled my eyes at this litany of attendants until Elaine came to the mini bride.

“What a great idea,” I thought. “Here’s a chance for a young girl or perhaps a little person to experience the ritual of marriage alongside an average-sized bride. She can duplicate the whole ceremony on a smaller, more adorable scale. We can build a playhouse church beside the grown-up church and serve miniature glasses of non-alcoholic champagne ordered from the American Girl catalogue. Imagine what cute and precocious sex the mini bride and groom will have on their honeymoon!”

Wait. . .what? Get these damn kids out of my wedding.

I told my godmother Susannah about the mini bride idea and she said that it would be even more festive to have a giant bride accompany me down the aisle wearing a size 62 matching gown and carrying a flowering hedge for a bouquet. I think this would only be effective if the giant bride could breathe fire or reenact the climactic scene from Iron Man. Then I thought about hiring the girl from Shentai who performs with a flaming hula hoop.

I know every engaged woman says this eventually, but I am turning into Bridezilla. I literally want an enraged circus performer to storm the wedding ceremony and set all the decorations on fire like the legendary gorilla that invaded Manhattan. I think that would make a really fun party. And I would look beautiful surrounded by all those burning centerpieces.

Being behind on the internet but on top of my personal life

The worst thing about being a blogger is that the internet keeps going even when you’re too lazy or busy to check on it. At any given moment bloggers feel pressured to know exactly what the internet is doing, who the internet hooked up with the night before, what the internet ate for breakfast, etc. It’s exhausting. And if days go by without tracking every internet hiccup or virtual bowel movement, you feel like you’re a bad blogger. You’ll never catch up with all the action. There are too many missing links.

That’s why I’m going to take one more day to focus purely on me, myself, and my personal life – subjects that will always be fresh and exciting to us all. Namely, I’m recently engaged to be married to the bbf (blogging boyfriend). Or is he now the bfh (blogging future husband)? Or perhaps the bbr (blogger with buyer’s remorse)?

But hold your gift baskets! Recork the Cristal! Cancel your order for the matching china set from the Pottery Barn! We are determined to do this as minimally as possible. You can just send cash or check to my PO box.

In the coming months I will discover what engagements and weddings are all about. I will finish reading Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. I will send all my two dozen bridesmaids to the spa to get Botoxed at their own expense. I will coach my uppity flower girl to act less adorable so she won’t eclipse me on my special day. I will sample frosted layer cakes and brag to you about how delicious they are. Finally, I will admit to the bbf that I’m not actually pregnant with triplets or going to war but unfortunately he can’t revoke the proposal because the wheels are already in motion.

I am the prettiest princess! It’s me! In your FACE, less pretty princesses!

Skinny jeans don’t get caught in bicycle gears: In defense of the hipster

You’ve all been waiting with bated breath for me to respond to Douglas Haddow’s provocative Adbusters article about hipsters being the “dead end of western civilization.” Obviously western civilization will continue like a refrigerated cockroach in an atomic storm whether or not its youth wear skinny jeans. Western civilization will probably work for us into perpetuity, or until a meteor hits. But one must forgive Haddow’s (and Lorentzen’s) hyperbole thanks to our white collar convictions about journalism, patriotism, and an average editor’s circulation demands for a national magazine.

We all like to hate on what is fashionable. Fashion sucks, obviously . It’s a realm outside of our respectable “blue collar” tastes. And literati types are meant to be on top of things, especially inevitable backlashes against what is popular at any given moment. So I don’t blame Haddow for being mean to hipsters. Some of them deserve it. Some of them probably relish it. Some of them are convinced they’ll be young, hot, and threesomed forever. One day they’ll receive a wake-up call informing them that they’re actually incorrigible doofuses. And they’ll do that without the painful administration of front page stories when they die in a fixed gear bike collision.

It’s superficial to accuse people of superficiality when you base your analysis on superficial indicators. You go to an after-party, talk to a couple of fashionably insecure girls in their early 20s, look at a few late-night pictures, and suddenly you have a handle on what it means to be a hipster.

I wish I had a handle on what it means to be a hipster. I have hipster friends and family. I have at times aspired to be a hipster. And hipsters are sexy as hell. And they write editorials like this, making me sweat with their learned haircuts.

But there is life beyond haircuts. These hipsters are human beings with families and love affairs and hurt feelings. And who is to say that their world is less authentic because their style currently conforms to urban mainstream? There are only so many ways you can wear your shirt and your hair. I don’t see the harm in trying to stand out personally while capitulating to a stylistic homogeneity. It’s a lot easier than trying to create the new Steampunk. Think of all the money and energy that goes into that look, as opposed to buying a bicycle and a t-shirt from the Goodwill.

But I have some criticisms.

1) Wtf, hipsters? Why can’t you commit to a modern band, instead of always falling back on the t-shirt canon of the Rolling Stones, the New York Dolls, Led Zeppelin, the Ramones? Let’s take a risk every now and then. Wear a t-shirt that isn’t just a repackaged lack of controversy.

2) Don’t be scared off by all the older folks who pressure you to be someone important. You’ve got plenty of time. Relax. But don’t just take refuge in being a live hard, die young type. You’re worth more than that.

3) Don’t be afraid to love something in a non-ironic way.

4) Wear comfortable clothes, especially if you’re going dancing.

5) Question the use of fashion to get laid. It just attracts the wrong kind of element. Granted, you’re not good at sports, but find something that chicks will like just as much.

6) One thing I appreciated about Vice Magazine’s “Dos and Don’ts” was that the women the editors loved weren’t supermodel types. They were just cute girls with average bodies who knew their way around a pair of pants. Don’t cave to the fashion industry’s ideals concerning underweight girls with plump lips. You have the confidence to establish your own standards, even if they don’t belong on the billboards your style poachers try to feed back to you.

And thank you, hipsters, for making it cool to celebrate a diversity of music, fashion, ideas, and cultures. To some it might be stealing. To others it might be disseminating. You’re making the cultural panoply mainstream for the first time in all its unedited glory. And for the first time this is being done step by step under the desperate glare of the media.

So no wonder we* love to hate you. No wonder this dedicated microscope is painful for everyone involved. The fashionable ones have come to the crossroads where everyone is cross-examined, especially if you stand out. You’ve reached the line between being real and being false that we’re all trying to paw and navigate and decipher with teeth bared. At least we’re all united in diluting the boundaries of this line, making it harder to tell who is committed to what genuine dream. And at least trucker hats are no longer the barometer for cool. Although, to tell you the truth, I could use some kind of visor to protect me from this nonstop glare.

*And here I mix up my pronouns like Haddow, like a postmodern, like a person drunk on PBR.

Diary of an Exercise Addict

An old friend of mine from high school has a memoir coming out soon: Diary of an Exercise Addict. In the book, Peach Friedman (as seen in People Magazine! pdf) chronicles her bout with exercise bulimia, a condition that almost took her life. And OMG, Jamie-Lynn Sigler from The Sopranos is a Peach fan. More important to this story, I am a Peach fan. And my dad shot a guy once, Tony Soprano-style. Or maybe he shot a duck? Or maybe he surgically removed a bullet? Something like that. In any case, where’s Jamie-Lynn Sigler’s literary blog? And it’s not like she went to HIGH SCHOOL with a published author.

Remember those Firm exercise videos? The first ones? Featuring Janet Jones, Wayne Gretsky’s wife, who was freakishly strong? I did those. Sometimes three times a day. Sometimes without eating anything for 24 hours. Sometimes after running seven miles in case there was half a calorie left to burn.

These disorders are so isolating, contradicting their superficial appearance of pleasing others. They only leave you more alone, when it was the lonely feeling that drove you to begin your regiment in the first place.

I wonder if Janet Jones also found enlightenment eventually. Did she at last let some of her superhuman muscles atrophy? Or is she still doing squat thrusts with ten-pound weights into the night, praying that some other young woman is sweating with her in the dark?

The $400 bra (not accounting for inflation)

Heard this epic bra story on NPR this morning. Fell in love with Ms. Betty Jenkins of Cincinnati, Ohio. Promised myself I wouldn’t wear plutonium push-up bra on flight to Portugal.

Day 5 without a hairbrush

On Saturday I misplaced my only hairbrush, but I didn’t notice until Tuesday. Now the squirrels have moved in to build their nests. My hairbrush should arrive in the mail tomorrow, but meanwhile I have become used to squirrel babies pooping down the back of my neck. And the literary advice they whisper in my ear has really improved the direction of my novel.

Funny hoo-ha

I realize that anybody who is anybody on the internet has already blogged today about the “Who Says Women Aren’t Funny?Vanity Fair article, itself a response to the VF article “Why Women Aren’t Funny” by Christopher Hitchens. [Full disclosure: Christopher Hitchens will always be a god to me because he devoted an entire book to putting down Mother Teresa. Who else would have the audacity to do that?] Nevertheless, I want to weigh in on this important debate contrived to sell magazines. Are women funny?

Let me start by saying that all those SNL hotties were ugly in high school. I lack the evidence to back up that statement, but I feel in my gut that it’s true. They were ugly and that’s why they cultivated their personalities. And I have to put that out there because a large portion of the latest Vanity Fair article, supposedly extolling the comedic talents of the fairer sex, is about how pretty these funny ladies are. Alessandra Stanley writes:

It used to be that women were not funny. Then they couldn’t be funny if they were pretty. Now a female comedian has to be pretty—even sexy—to get a laugh.

At least, that’s one way to view the trajectory from Phyllis Diller and Carol Burnett to Tina Fey. Some say it’s the natural evolution of the women’s movement; others argue it’s a devolution. But the funniest women on television are youthful, good-looking, and even, in a few cases, close to beautiful—the kind of women who in past decades might have been the butt of a stand-up comic’s jokes.

Of course female comedians are beautiful. Vanity Fair loves to take pictures of beautiful people. Vanity Fair gets to pick and choose who to put on its cover. Vanity Fair gets to slather the funny women in makeup and dress them in revealing “costumes” and Photoshop them into oblivion and then slap rubber chickens in their hands and pretend that their sexuality is not being exploited.

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Hallmarks of good gym etiquette

I recently joined a gym, and boy would I be looking good if working out didn’t make me so hungry for Mexican food. And it’s not just any gym – it’s the most state-of-the-art, LA/Manhattan/Madonna-worthy gym in Virginia. I get a discounted membership because of my mob connections. Also, my sweat doesn’t stink.

I have been loving the gym, but here are some tips to make my personal fitness experience even more enjoyable.

1) If you can get away with wearing only short shorts and a sports bra when you work out, please mount the machine in front of mine. This will inspire me to work harder so I can have your body.

2) I feel a lot of goodwill between strangers at the gym. The natural amiability seems totally asexual, which is understandable because everyone looks so gross. But boundaries can still be crossed. If a girl is doing a stretch that involves bending over or spreading her legs, it’s not appropriate to talk to her. Whatever you have to say, she is going to feel self conscious about you looking down her jog bra or into her perspiring crotch area. Wait and talk to her when she is performing a less provocative stretch, like the neck stretch:

Neck stretch

3) If you like to make locker room conversation, at least make a show of getting dressed while you’re talking. For most people, it’s hard to think of smart and funny things to say when staring at a naked body. Putting on clothes should be your first priority, not making small-talk, clipping your toenails, or blow-drying your hair.

4) Be creative with your gym outfits. It always makes my day when I run into the guy who works out in jeans, bare feet, and a halfshirt.

5) Don’t leave clumps of your hair in the shower. I am actively trying to contract a foot fungus as a gym rite of passage, but I still balk at stepping on other peoples’ hair wads. Figure it out, ladies.

6) If you are way into Nia dance aerobics classes, try not to look like such a dork. Just kidding – dance is all about free expression. And you can do what you want because I won’t be taking any more of these types of classes.

7) Please spray down my machine after I use it.

8 ) Don’t throw down your iron barbells after every set. The loud noise scares me to death when I’m on the treadmill trying to watch Drumline. Last time I had my headphones on so I couldn’t hear myself cursing, but everyone else could. If you’re strong enough to lift the heavy weights, you are strong enough to set them down gently.

That is all for now. Does anyone else have advice for uncouth gym-goers?