Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Don't Know How She Does That

I am not a fan of the chick flick. OK, most chick flicks. I will watch "27 Dresses" if it is on, but mostly because James Marsden is so adorably cynical in his role as a would-be Pulitzer Prize winner forced to write about weddings. I always save room for "When Harry Met Sally," though it is heading for being dated 22 years later.

I like "Wedding Crashers" and "Bridesmaids." I loathe "Eat, Pray, Love" and "Sex in the City 2."

So without seeing either of them, I will write the Snarkshelfian reviews of two new releases "I Don't Know How She Does It" and "What's Your Number?" They really are bookended chapters of the same book.

I blame Carrie Bradshaw for both.

Carrie was the highly unrealistic witty, unlucky in love freelance sex columnist journalist heroine, played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the SATC HBO series and in the movies. Our heroine Carrie was emotionally about 14 years old, pranced around in hot pants and stiletto heels, apparently made big bucks working for a free, alternative weekly paper (in real life, she would nearly quailify for food stamps. They don't take those at Samba Sushi, last I checked). Carrie squealed and giggled and did the happy dance when someone was paying attention to her.

So "I Don't Know How She Does It" appears to be the sequel. What would happen if Carrie Bradshaw had a couple of kids and finally got a job where she had to do more than wiggle her fingers? Why, she would be stressed out! Let the hilarity ensue!

My husband likes me even though I have a JOB! Squee!

I actually read the book "I Don't Know How She Does It" when it came out a decade ago. It was mildly amusing and took place in England. But really, the movie should have been made about a decade ago, because the Mommy Wars, they are older and more tired than most of the moms I know.

We've been over this before. Working Moms sometimes envy Stay at Home moms. Stay at Home Moms sometimes envy working moms. Everyone has complicated reasons for their choices. There is always going to be one smug bitch on either side who can make you feel bad about yourself, no matter what your choice.

Sarah Jessica Parker perfected this dance with Carrie, where she would naval gaze and write pithy phrases like "What do men really want?" (answer: sex while the football game is on and for you not to ask them that question) or "Can Women Have It all?" (answer: nope. not all at once) and call it journalism.

In this movie, based on its Rotten Tomatoes score of 17 percent (which means very, very rotten), she squeaks and giggles and whines and pratfalls her way through both the board room and the PTA meeting, proving adept at neither and insulting the millions of real women who do their best every day.

Hey! I am a working mom with the same list. It makes for a boring Faceook status and an even worse screenplay.

On any given day, every mom I know juggles varying amounts of balls in the air. Sometimes she drops one. That's life. No need to beat ourselves up about our choices and our errands. And no need to make a movie about it.

"What's Your Number?" could be the prequel, before Carrie Bradshaw stopped hating herself for wanting to live New York and started scoring shoes and investment bankers.
Here's the premise: 30ish-year old Ally loses her job and around the same time she sleeps with guy No. 19. She also reads somewhere that a woman's chances of getting married drastically drop if she has more than 20 partners.

So, she spends her severance money and time tracking down ex-boyfriends, rather than updating her LinkedIn profile. Ally wants a do-over! Perhaps one of them is Mr. Right, she just didn't notice the first time around? She NEEDS to stop at 20 or she. may. never. get married.

Yeah, you read that right.

First, in this era of the Slut Walk, really?

Second, there is no subtraction. There may be regret. But you can't subtract. Trust me on this.

Third, the preview clip I keep seeing is when she goes to visit her gynecologist ex-flame, who doesn't remember her until her gets a look at her va-jajay in her pap smear. That might be the unfunniest movie scene ever, for women and for doctors (and va-jajays). Somewhere, both Betty Friedan and Hippocrates are spinning in their graves.

Fourth, no woman - and certainly no man - would ever run around giggling and saying "maybe I slept with too many people?" (and if it were Sarah Jessica Parker it would be punctuated with a giggle and a "squee" and a funny frowny face).

Fifth, you would never run maniacally around spinning these wheels. Snarkshelf girl code rule: tell one close friend your number and certainly never - assuming you are not punished for your choices - tell your husband. My BFF Justine vaguely knows my number, which is somewhere north of Princess Di on her wedding day and south of my college friend - we'll call her College Samantha, after the more realistic SATC character.

The post-sexual revolution, pre-AIDs early 1980s was in some ways a better time to be a woman. It was the era of Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" having sex with the stereo salesman AND Mike Damone and scuttling out for a hasty abortion on a Saturday afternoon. She was not struck dead. She didn't have last-minute remorse. If she were a real person, her eventual number was probably way higher than 20 and she got married anyway.

Back to College Samantha. She had a lot of sex. She kept a list of her conquests taped up on the inside of her closet. Virginal girls in fair isle sweaters who heard about "the list" would sheepishly knock on the door and ask to see it. Samantha would show them.

The list grew. The legend grew. College Samantha never for a minute pretended any one of these men was really her boyfriend. There was never a "I wonder if he likes me?" or "Why isn't he calling me?" and certainly no "Oh, squee, I better slow it down or I may NEVER get married (frowny face)."

There was a lot of "been there, done that, he's stupid, he's hot, he's even stupider, what kind of fun can I have tonight?"

Eventually she did find a boy she really liked and the legend of the list faded away. Eventually, she also got married (to someone else). She wasn't struck by lightning, and I am sure if a random guy from the era came to her office, she would scarcely remember him either.

I wonder what ever happened to the list. Is it in some scrapbook somewhere, like pictures of keg parties from the same era? Was it burned when she moved in with that first boy she really liked? I am going to Facebook her later and ask her.

The moral of the story: College Samantha owned her behavior, as would any self-respecting woman post-Sandra Dee and pre-Ally-of-the-shame-and-unrecognizable va-jajay.

There was not a frowny face written anywhere on that piece of notebook paper. Unless the guy couldn't seal the deal. Why doesn't someone make a tragic rom com about THAT?

Oh, I can't add past 20. So my odds of finding Mr. Right are super.

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