The Romanticism of Californication

Some may say the humor in Californication is crass, low brow, raunchy, and dirty. To those people, I say you’re missing the point. Sure, it’s a sex comedy, similar to HBO’s Dream On that aired in the 90s, but with a lot more unsavory scenes when it comes to sex. However, Californication is a show deeply rooted in romanticism—exhibited in the theme of unrequited love and the setting of Los Angeles.

As a writer, I’m envious of Hank Moody to an extent. Though he finds himself in a high order of drama, I can respect the love he harbors for Karen, his baby momma and muse. He’s the tortured artist who got lucky and found his other half; then, riding that wave of love was incredibly prolific, and when it ended he couldn’t write. It’s a hell of a thing when writer’s block comes on and if it’s attributed to loss or heartbreak, it’s even worse. And that’s essentially the dilemma of Hank; a man trying to find his way after the ‘end of everything’. He delves into sex, alcohol and drugs, and rock n’ roll; and though I don’t condone his methods of self medication, as a writer I can understand them. When you find your other half, that perfect someone and things just click, you can’t imagine losing it. When it’s gone, you numb the pain in whatever way you can.

Hank is a tragic romantic looking to get back what he lost and punishing himself in the process. Los Angeles provides the perfect landscape for it—a city of glitz and under the surface, horrifically rotten. I believe it was LA historian, Mike Davis, who said “Los Angeles is a sunlit mortuary where you can rot without feeling it”. There have been times in my life where I could definitely relate. But as a writer and human being, you can’t wallow forever. You have to rise out of the murk, which Hank never really does in the series—kind of my major gripe with the writing. And though the series has various short-comings, I think it delivers as a strong depiction of what it’s like to be a hopeless romantic in a city where romance may very well be dead. In the end, we all want a Karen–a muse, a lover, a savior–our other half.

Good luck out there! As Hank would say, “It’s a big bad world.”

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Into the Abyss

We’ve all seen it, mostly in romantic comedies. The guy loses the girl, usually by his own ineptitude and sinks deep into boozing, poor hygiene and an affinity for wandering his apartment in a bath robe. You guessed it; it’s the aftermath of a breakup and it has become cliché—like some kind of 12 step program, and at the end they either move on or fight to get the girl back. The truth is there’s no easy way to recover after a breakup. For a long while, it’s going to be dark; it’s going to be the abyss.

However, breakups are healthy no matter how grim things may seem at the time. There are always going to be situations that aren’t healthy for us and we have to have the fortitude to get out of them. We have to learn to recognize those situations and move on because there’s a reason—there may be something better waiting. Recently I was talking to a co-worker, an ex NFL player who saw much success in his life. He owned companies, traveled the world and owned some amazing homes. And one day he lost it all—bankruptcy. His wife left him and he found himself back at square one. Then one day he gets a phone call from a woman he had met five years ago. Apparently she was cleaning out a closet and her phone book fell to the floor. It was open to a page with my co-worker’s phone number jotted down. She picked up the phone and called him that instant. They were married a few years later.

I hear stories like that and can’t help but wonder if we’re all preordained to be with someone; if all the dating and breakups are just part of the process. Though they hurt like hell at the time, they really are necessary. The trick is to not stay in the abyss; it’s to keep it moving. We owe ourselves happiness—we all deserve it. And out there is the right person who shares in your world view, your faith, and sees the same beauties of life that you do. They won’t try and change you but instead celebrate you. Love is supposed to exalt us; it’s supposed to dignify us and if it doesn’t do that, then it isn’t love.

In this Dreamland, it’s easy to get seduced by the newness of something—a new car, a new job, a new relationship. We all love the feeling, the rush of new. Yet sooner or later that novelty goes away and we’re forced to see the relationship for what it is. And deep down we know if it’s preordained and if it’s supposed to exist. The trick is to know when it’s forced and in that moment, you have to walk away. If there are doubts, there’s a reason. It’s best to cut your losses early. But for those dreamlanders like me, who are hopeful romantics and refuse to quit, it’s hard to say goodbye. So we learn the hard way and maybe, even if we lose it all, the one we’re supposed to be with will pick up the phone and say: “You’re not going to believe this but I really just needed to call you.”

 

Good luck Dreamlanders!

She’s Just A Friend

You meet a woman—she’s cute, smart, good sense of humor, and is fun to be around. So why can’t you see her as more than a friend? Perhaps she suffers from a condition called: Dude-ish. Let’s face it, a man wants a lady. The type of woman he could take home to mom, or envision mothering his children. A major turn off for most men is when a woman doesn’t embrace or fully understand femininity. I’m not advocating for stilettos and miniskirts, or embracing some commercialized perception of femininity, but it’s more of an attitude. Here are 5 reasons why you likely keep her in the friend zone:

 

  1. Cursing. A woman that curses like it’s going out of style is semi-cute for about two minutes—kind of like the baby that shows up in tons of memes online. You know the one. A little boy at a UK soccer match exhibiting hooliganism—frowned face, middle finger extended, and surrounded by adult fans. It makes you chuckle because it’s the opposite of what modern society considers to be decent. Let’s face it; men want to feel like they exert the masculinity in the relationship. If every time a woman opens her mouth, she reminds you of a frat brother—it’s a turn-off. Nothing against the classic F-bomb, it’s become a quintessential part of the lexicon and has merit in certain situations. But if a woman drops one every other word, it’s definitely a romance killer. As a friend of mine once put it, after I asked him why he wouldn’t date a girl who was clearly into him—“She talks like a dude.”

 

  1. Etiquette. It’s great when a woman gets comfortable with a man, but comfortable enough to burp or pass gas in front of him can be hard to handle. I was once on a date where a woman drank two Diet Cokes in a forty minute sitting. On the second, when she reached the bottom of the glass, after a few final slurps, she released an eardrum-rattling belch. The patrons sitting near us stopped eating for a moment, clearly annoyed and disgusted. I was embarrassed. She brushed it off with an obnoxious laugh. I quickly asked the waitress for the check.

 

  1. Attire. It’s widely accepted that women are keen on how a man dresses. It’s one of the things they consider to be attractive. When a man dresses poorly, a woman can lose interest. A man who doesn’t dress well has become such a social cliché, that it’s inspired make-over segments on morning talk shows and became the basis for the reality TV series—“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”. But what of the women who struggle in the fashion department? I’m not saying a woman needs to be a fashionista, but men do notice when a woman presents herself well—a well fitted skirt, a tailored blouse, etc. I recently saw a woman enter a hotel lobby in high heels. I watched her struggle. It looked as if she was going to trip at any minute. She was greeted by a man—well-dressed in a sport coat and denim. After a quick embrace, he placed his hand on the small of her back and followed behind her into the hotel’s bar. A few steps in, and he looked down, clearly noticing that her shoes were too big and the back of the pump was gapping. In that moment, his body language changed. He seemed less in awe, maybe a little blasé. In every situation, confidence is everything. When a woman exudes it, it’s an incredibly attractive quality. And a woman who is comfortable in her clothes will always emerge confident—always. Shoes that are too big aren’t the end of the world, but if it affects how a woman carries herself and it diminishes her confidence, it can leave damper on the first impression.

 

  1. Talking About Other Men. The fastest way for a man to lose romantic interest in a woman is if she constantly talks about the other men she’s dated. Even if it isn’t true, a man wants to feel like he’s different—as if he’s captured a woman’s attention like no other man before him. A man will relegate a woman to friend zone swiftly if she continuously talks about other men. A man recognizes that the woman his dating probably dated and slept with other men; however, reminders are not necessary. This also includes displayed photos of previous boyfriends—especially intimate ones. As a man who’s experienced this, it’s not a good feeling. Though it wasn’t done in spite, when I saw a picture of a girlfriend kissing her ex, who she admittedly still was hung up on; it made me withdraw from the relationship. What some women fail to understand is that mystery is good. Men don’t want, nor do we need, to know everything about you in the first few months of dating. Men need pieces of information, and time to process that information. Unless it’s something highly pertinent; such as, a risk to your partner’s health or safety, a man doesn’t need to know right away. Even if you’ve cheated in the past, don’t drop that chestnut on him after the first few dates. Let him get to know you first and then be upfront. As long as a woman is truthful, a man shouldn’t lose respect for her.

 

  1. Cold and Cavalier. In romance men like a challenge—it’s the taming of the shrew. During the courting phase, playing hard to get can entice men. Once that phase is complete, a woman who’s cold, distant and aloof will only push a man away. A man needs a sign that a woman is interested. Some women seem to think a nonchalant or “whatever” approach to dating is the best policy. Tragically, there are women who will run good men away playing this juvenile game. Men crave directness and decisiveness when it comes to feelings. The marble throne in the high court of the friend zone is reserved for the woman who truly doesn’t know what she wants. Sometimes a man will stay in the picture hoping she’ll figure it out, but in time he’ll move on. It’s always best to have a defined relationship. Leaving someone in limbo only leads to resentment. Men are notorious for pretending not to be interested because they don’t want to come off desperate. However, it’s a double-standard, and though unfair, it’s a game a woman should never engage in. And frankly, if a man is really interested, he should have the balls to pick up the phone sooner rather than later.

 

At the end of the day, when a man truly likes a woman, he will overlook some things. The same goes for women. The friend zone is a place neither party wants to end up in, and a way to avoid it is to exercise tact and ethical judgment—along with staying humble, being honest and keeping these five tidbits in mind. After all, anything is worth a try when it comes to having a successful relationship.