Alien Enthusiasms, Internet Friends, & Other Abiding Joys

As usual, the world out there is pretty shitty, Dames Nation. But do you know what makes it more bearable? SHINE-THEORY, BASED INTERNET-ORIGINATING FRIENDSHIPS that bring out the best in both parties

Leslie and Ann: one of the best examples of how friendships found in adulthood can transform your life.

WHICH is why we’re opening this week’s letter with this lovely column by #damespal Jasmine Guillory, written about OTHER #damespal Amy Spalding, and how the friendship they found via LiveJournal allowed Jasmine to achieve a dream she may never have otherwise persued . It so closely mirrors our own friendship that we couldn’t NOT share it, particularly not when Jasmine and Amy are going to be co-editing next week’s newsletter. So, take a minute, get acquainted with these wonderful women, think about pre-ordering their terrific new books-- The Wedding Date and The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles), and GET AMPED about all the fun you’ll have with them next week!
 


Ask TBD!

Iyanla has her problems, but she also has a point.

It’s that time again, darlings! Time for Sophie and Margaret to dip into the questions you have sent us via our handy Google Form, do our best Iyanla impressions, and fix your lives…. sort of. Which is to say: It’s Ask Two Bossy Dames week! Here goes:

Is it weird that I'm a guy and that I have no interest in half the things you guys talk about (guys, makeup, etc) and yet am obsessed with reading the letter and actually seeing you talk about those things?

-- Omar

You will never know just when your next epiphany will find you, or from whence it will come.

Hi, Omar!

We think, if you’re obsessed with reading the letter and hearing our witty, sage opinion about guys, makeup, fashion, and so on, then maybe this is a good time to revisit your understanding of yourself. It could be-- stay with us, now-- that you do actually care about those things. Not to the degree that we do, but maybe to the degree that we care about sports when our friends’ favorite teams are involved? We don’t live & die by the fate of the Minnesota Vikings, but we were honest-to-Prince THRILLED when they won their game last weekend & Dame Sophie has for sure been crying over some videos weaving together on-the-field coverage of the Minneapolis Miracle with fan responses. Of course, all her local friends are big Eagles fans, so this presents a true dilemma for this coming Sunday, but she’ll cross that bridge when she comes to it (and may even make use of the weirdly thorough guide on how best to pick an arbitrary sport’s allegiance that Dame Margaret wrote for… just such circumstances as these).

One of the core beliefs that We Your Dames share is: If something is massively popular, there is usually a host of good & interesting reasons why, even if it’s Not For Us. It can be easy to imagine-- particularly with interests that society often presents as gendered, like sports or fashion-- that all of the people who enjoy a given thing enjoy it for the same primary reasons. Which, in its turn, can make it easy to assume that if a popular thing  lacks immediate appeal for you, it will never be particularly interesting you. What we have often found to be true, however, is that a lot of things become popular because they have an unusual large number of different appeal factors or entry points.

Like, on a macro-level, maybe professional sports are popular because, as armchair psychologists are so apt to speculate, humans need an outlet for the feelings of tribalism and aggression that we used to work out via regular combat, or whatever. But that’s very unlikely to be the chief reason any specific fan loves their team. For individual sports fans, their passion for their team can be motivated by wild variety of causes, such as:

  • Keeping in touch with a hometown they’ve left behind

  • Observing the sheer bodily grace of athletes

  • Delighting in truly unpredictable and unscripted outcomes

  • Rigorously applying statistics to achieve practical outcomes

  • Being possessed of a conviction that one player on the team ought to be kissing another player on the team, or kissing the viewer themselves

  • Any number of other unpredictable reasons

Hockey Tumblr is WYLD, y'all.

Or, to use an example that's a bit more personal, while Dame Sophie was lured into One Direction’s orbit thanks to the top note of their appeal bouquet-- the intoxicating charm of the boys’ astonishingly non-toxic masculinity--, she was only bound to them eternally once she discovered that their music was packed full of lucious harmonies and delightful sonic quotations of the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, the Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac. So while her initial interest may have been sparked by an armchair-diagnosable aspect of the band’s appeal, her abiding love stemmed from something specific to her interests that she only discovered by engaging with the band closely.

All of which is to say: maybe you really, sincerely aren’t interested in whichever Very Popular Thing whose appeal is currently eluding you.

OR!

MAYBE you just haven’t discovered your personal entry point to it yet. While we want everyone to feel free to like what they like and lump the rest, we personally find value in embracing this sense of cultural agnosticism. If you approach the world with this kind of openness and curiosity, it’s hard to find any subject completely devoid of interest. And, if you can summon enough of both, you may even discover a new, nourishing enthusiasm where you least expected it. Thanks for reading, Omar, & we hope you continue to have fun expanding your notion of what you’re interested in! We are honored for whatever small part we’ve played in illuminating some of our enthusiasms for you.

From Us to You, Omar. Thanks for hanging with us.

Dear Dames, 

I need a little addive on love and acceptance, for fuck's sake. 

12 years ago I had a love that was thwarted for various complicated reasons,* in the intervening years me and this beloved's lives have sometimes intersected with a predictable pattern that he acts like we are friends again or flirts with me, I respond, then later call him out for doing that while still maintaining that he is not interested in me romantically or even as a friend. This happened again on NYE- we ran into each other and we fell back into our joking and laughing together. A week later I saw him at a mutual friend's potluck and we nodded at each other but didn't speak despite being at the same house for over an hour. My mind knows we will never be together, my heart has not accepted it. Every time I think I have this pattern repeats. Additionally one of my best and oldest friends committed suicide right before Thanksgiving and it has made my hypervigilant and protective about old relationships and their value. I have read Tiny Beautiful Things many times and I still cannot find acceptance about this. WHY. All my friends are sick of hearing about it.

(the shortest version is he decided to pursue a path towards catholic priesthood, which he is now a priest. I'm married- to a lady. When I embraced being queer I left the catholic church, so he is a weird remnant of *that* too...) -- L

Dear L,

Oh, dear, you are dealing with so much right now, and it sounds like a lot of your tender feelings about this It Can Never Be relationship are tangled up with the sudden, tragic death of your dear friend.  Can we give you a word-hug? Hold your screen closer. Closer. Ok, squeeze gently.

Your instinct to try to listen to your conscious, rational thoughts is a good one, as is your naming it as something that won’t happen, no matter how your heart may wish it. Tiny Beautiful Things is wonderful, and by all means reread it again if it helps you as a touchstone text. But are big takeaways, reading this letter, is that we think the time has come for you to seek therapy. Simply applying your will and rational mind to this intense thicket of emotions isn’t getting the job done, and both you and your spouse deserve better. Working with a therapist will not only help you get more clarity on this specific relationship, but will also help you figure out what, if any, spiritual life you’d like to pursue, and how to care for your vintage friendships without harming your current ones. We are beyond flattered that you turned to us for insight, but to be deserving of your trust, we need to recognize and state clearly when a question is above our pay grade. This is one of those moments.

The best advice we can give you in the meantime is to try and build some distance into your friendship with this particular man until you’ve got a better hold on your feelings about him. If you two are meant to be friends going forward, the relationship will survive this period of conscious distance. If not, if he’s working out through you some of his ambivalence about his choices in the past or present, then it’ll blow away and that’s okay. Things that are meant to last are hard to fuck up, but something doesn’t have to last forever to have mattered deeply while it did last.

Try to be as kind to yourself as we would be to you, and try to find someone smarter than us bossy know-it-alls to untangle this painful knot. We are rooting for you, L.


And, in addition, a quick round of links!

Beautiful. Graceful. And highly flammable.

  • Sometimes, you can look at the past with satisfaction and think “Well, we have made a LITTLE progress.” Other times, the past is so ghoulish that it resists even the satisfaction of being gone-- as when you read that, in the 19th century, women burning to death in highly-flammable dresses was… kind of common. It’s the sort of news that will change how you look at tulle forevermore.

  • The Awl and The Hairpin are closing and , honestly, we’re too sad to say anything of substance about it now. Instead, we’re going to read this round-up of former Awl and Hairpin writers’ favorite pieces, and weep tears enough to drown in.

  • Then we’re going to comfort ourselves with a little celebrity gossip-- first,  we’ll take a quick hit with Lainey Gossip’s searing indictment of Justin Timberlake’s treatment of Janet Jackson. Then we’ll luxuriate in this long read about whether or not Wendi Deng, ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch, possible girlfriend of Vladimir Putin, cheated on her Fox News-owning husband with… former British Prime Minister Tony Blair!? Yes, maybe this piece is from 2011. But that doesn't mean it isn't still RIVETING seven years later.

  • Then-- perhaps while drinking tea-- we’ll fantasize about having one of the best jobs history ever invented: being a part of the FDA's team of designated tea-tasters.

  • And finally, we’ll applaud while comedian Paul Scheer takes feedback about his throwaway joke about a romance novel to heart, reads said romance novel, discovers that he kind of loves it, and livetweets the whole process. It’s such a great real-life example of what we told Omar: if you approach the world with a curious mind, you’ll be amazed by the things you’ll come to love.

Paul Scheer, tearing the roof right off your lazy assumptions.