I’m now at that stage in life where everyone’s finding long-term love, getting engaged and married, having children, and living in homes they bought with their own money. I’m quite used to getting wedding, baptismal, and housewarming invites. My social media feeds are filled with photos of PDA-ing couples, engagement rings, wedding scenes, and kids (cute or otherwise — to quote a friend, “hindi lahat ng baby, cute!”).
Yeah. Everyone’s in love and settling down. Me? Nope. Not happening anytime soon.
Being single does have many awesome upsides, particularly for people like me who do as we please. I’m generally fine on my own, and I find I can get very uncomfortable when not able to act autonomously. However, there will always be the spoken and unspoken pressure from society to settle down and not become an Old Maid. (I didn’t know I had a deadline.) There will also be random instances when I wonder why and how people get lucky in love in their first or first few tries, and I have a track record of kissing frogs, or just like-liking them.
These days, I don’t really dwell on singledom and lost love. I’ve become ambivalent about dating, though. I can get back into it, but sometimes I don’t think I want to. If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I also figure that if I’m going to be a spinster, I’m gonna be the best and coolest one there is. I guess I’m more annoyed with being “in limbo” than anything else.
Note to self…
Not everyone has the same attitude. I actually envy people who will do whatever it takes to find love, or even dare to say aloud that they’re looking for it. Like the unidentified people featured in two of the books I’m reviewing today, or the geeks who will buy and follow a modern manual on dating.
What I love (hah!) about today’s featured books is that they tackle the complex topic of love, but are still very quick and light reads. They impart lessons without being preachy, or making anyone feel too bad about being unattached. Plus, as with men, I like books that can make me laugh out loud, literally.
Enough rambling. Let’s get to the love and light reading!
Click on the link below or keep scrolling down:
- The Geek’s Guide to Dating, Eric Smith
- Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London Review of Books, David Rose
- Bakit Hindi Ka Crush Ng Crush Mo?, Ramon Bautista
Good guidance for geeks
Geeks are cool these days. (So are nerds. One can be a geek and a nerd, but they’re not synonymous.) So if you’ve been called a geek as an insult when you were a kid, congratulations. Enjoy your revenge. 😄️
Basically, everyone wants to be a geek, or at least look like one. But I’ve “discovered” a way to separate the poser geeks from the real geeks: make them read Eric Smith’s The Geek’s Guide to Dating — one of my purchases at Solidaridad Book Shop a few months ago.
This hardbound 2013 tome is filled with geek-culture references, seemingly cramming a few of them per page. I actually lost count a few pages into the second chapter, and it got to the point where I needed my phone or tablet beside me while reading so I can Google certain references. Every dropped name, game, movie or book make for solid “man, I feel old” moments. But it can also get overwhelming, especially for those who aren’t that well-versed or are just starting to embrace their inner geek.
I think the author stuffed his book with geek references up the wazoo to make the “before, during and after” of dating more understandable and less stressful for the hardcore geeks. I’m just amazed that Smith always found the perfect example or analogy to explain things.
Which brings us to my next point: I don’t want to believe that you really have to spell everything out for men, geeky or not. It’s impossible that they wouldn’t know about the basics of dating, relationships, grooming and conduct. But maybe I’m wrong. This may be why I’m still single.
The book’s geared primarily toward male geeks, but Smith made it clear that lady geeks can read and follow his tips and advice as well. And with the way he doled it out, and explained/framed situations, I might do just that.
The author used clever and imaginative explanations for the different dating stages and factors, and even framed dating as another (but more serious) game for geeks to play. Cheat codes, game combos, and walkthroughs galore! I also really liked the book sections on the kinds of people in the dating pool, types of geeks, how to dress and behave during a date, where to scout for dates, and even how to deal with breakups and get back in the game.
The best thing about The Geek’s Guide to Dating is that, whether you’re old hat or n00b, you’ll be encouraged to jump back into the dating pool and actually feel optimistic about the whole endeavor. Smith used simple language and a lighthearted tone, took a modern approach (with references to social media and online dating), and offered sensible advice throughout the seven chapters. The discussions never became condescending, or assuming — valuable for those feeling the pressure to couple up and settle down, or even get out of their rooms or log out of their MMOs.
The only big downside? All those typos, grammatical errors and missing words. The book’s peppered with them! This book geek just couldn’t handle it.
All the lonely hearts
This is common knowledge among bookworms, but it’s worth repeating anyway. If you’re book-shopping at any Booksale branch (well, any secondhand-book shop, actually), you better dig to find the obscure/limited ed/really good titles. This is how I found a hardback copy of Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London Review of Books at Booksale MCS — a longtime favorite of Manila bibliophiles — a few years ago.
Just wondering: do we have a personal ads service here in the Philippines? No, I absolutely do not want to place an ad. I think people use social media, chat rooms and sites like craigslist for that, but it would be fun to read a local version of the one offered by the LRB.
Anyway. Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland is the second LRB personal ad compilation; the first one was also edited by David Rose. I began reading it shortly after purchase, but had to stop after 30 pages or so because I felt sad and depressed about what I was seeing. All those nameless people using personal ads as a final stand for love/sex/companionship, and quite possibly failing at it… that made me feel soul-crushingly bad about my own prospects. It didn’t take long for me to chuck the book back on the shelf and move on to other reads.
I picked it back up a few years later, and with my overly sensitive and emotional life stage fully over. This time around, I thought many of those personal ads are well-written and hilarious. It’s amazing what you can do with a good editor and a few lines of newsprint.
Some ads make it clear that all the advertiser wants is a good fuck, while some are looking for more long-term and loving arrangements, or maybe a fun and frisky seasonal fling. There were also ads that reminded me of a couple of exes, past dates, and friends and their dating history. And of course, the batshit-crazy people I’ve had the great misfortune to meet.
Then there are those who see personal ads as their “last resort” in dating. One can say it doesn’t speak well of singletons’ options these days, but I say dating’s complicated and messy, regardless of where you live.
You’ll see all kinds of ads: cool, desperate, weird, funny, formulaic, quirky, kinky, meh. The variety of jokes and hooks in those personal ads also reinforce that everyone has different “types”. What’s revolting for me may be hot for others, and vice versa. It all depends on how vocal you’ll be about your requirements. Be plain vanilla, or let your freak flag fly?
The danger of going all out with your personal ad is the judgment that’ll be directed at you. You can say that dating involves lots of judgment anyway, but it can get worse when all you have to decide with are words on a page. Oo na, judgmental na. Kudos to the anonymous folks for having the balls to place their ads. And I liked these two lines from the Introduction:
…the LRB personals tell us not to be ashamed; to relax a little and enjoy what’s out there without feeling threatened by it.
They are simple and genuine statements about the people who write them and the people they hope to find.
Some of the ads and jokes won’t make sense to readers who aren’t British, or don’t live in London/the UK. I appreciated that the editor and publisher included footnotes and anecdotes explaining some of the punchlines and historical/cultural references. They really help make sense of some things, but I guess the impact’s slightly reduced.
Overall, a fun read. And for those who want to place personal ads — use this book as your main reference. In terms of creativity, you’ll need to get on the level of the LRB advertisers. 😉️
Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London Review of Books, edited by David Rose
Hardbound, Scribner/Simon & Schuster
Buy: National Book Store / Kobo Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
A few years ago, I spent an afternoon at the office of an established PR agency. I was there until the workday was over and everyone started packing up and logging out.
Some of the employees stayed behind, chatting and decompressing after a long day. One of them began reading a book named Bakit Hindi Ka Crush Ng Crush Mo? and read some of the lines aloud. Within a few minutes, everyone was laughing and cracking jokes. I think we stayed on for another hour before we locked the office for the night.
The book — the first for filmmaker, endorser, comedian, film professor, and self-described “Internet action star” Ramon Bautista— has since become a best-seller, and was even turned into a film. Now he has another book out; that aforementioned employee has something new to read to colleagues. 😄️
Bakit Hindi Ka Crush Ng Crush Mo? is comprised of the Q&As Bautista used to do with his fans via Formspring. It’s a really quick read; I got to the halfway point in just a couple of hours, and finished it in two days. If you want to, you can read it in one sitting.
I don’t usually read books written in Filipino or Taglish, so there were instances when I had to read the text aloud to get the punchlines. And once you get them, tatawa ka talaga. Bautista gives hilarious answers to fans’ questions (some of which are absurd and funny), and likes to be blunt with them. There’s lots of humor and wit, but they’re also true and no-nonsense answers.
There are also plenty of catch phrases in there, still used now in conversations and hashtags. Now I know all about preemptive (and counter-preemptive) supalpal, reverse bittering, and the Modular Life System. I also loved his answers regarding having crushes (and his 10 responses for the book title), being on “No Boyfriend Since Birth” (NBSB) status, the laws he’ll implement if he becomes president, sex and “responsible sexing”, virginity, and online criticism. He had also volunteered to beat up a fan’s boyfriend who was beating her up. Wagi ka, koya.
But some answers, I didn’t like and disagreed with. I didn’t like certain quips about fat people, and being adopted or ampon. I also hated the way he would refer to depression, stated by fans or implied, as being “emo”. Well, it’s possible, but it could also be actual clinical depression. Either way, don’t be dismissive about it.
If you’re looking for a very light, funny, and unpretentious read, check this one out. Didn’t know rejection could be made funny. Mamahalin mo ‘rin siya ng totoo. Hihihi.