Since getting DVR, I have taken up a lot of ill advised television habits-the worst of which is an unhealthy dependance on Lifetime original movies. This has had a couple of undesired side effects. See, there are two types of Lifetime movies that call to me. The first, like “A Date with Darkness,” tells the harrowing tale of a too good-looking dude, his dark secret, and the women brave enough to stand up to him.
The other, which has had even more disastrous side effects, is the rom com. The problem is that a Lifetime rom com, like say, “Lying to be Perfect” takes everything you love about rom coms and turn them up to 11. A typical, big budget rom com is so contrived that you can sit down and watch it and leave without having your world view disrupted. A Lifetime movie is so much more contrived and unbelievable that it ends up cycling back to completely acceptable and then it changes EVERYTHING.
Before, I was content to meet guys the normal way-through friends, or at a bar or party. Now, I’m convinced that I need to make my life into the ridiculous, over the top rom coms that I so hate/love. The real issue is that when you commit to something that is only acceptable in the Lifetime world, it has the absolute opposite effect, in that you immediately become the kind of person that guys run, not walk away from.
On a recent trip into crazy-land, I decided that a really cute, rom com way to meet a guy was to end up sharing an umbrella on a rainy day. I was walking home from work and I spotted an extremely handsome, umbrella-less guy. I thought it would be weird, and maybe take away from the adorableness if I offered, so instead I just walked awkwardly close to him with my umbrella held out, so that he might happen to be under it and then laugh and tell me thanks and then one thing would lead to another and so on. What actually happened, though, was that the handsome dude was too tall for me to get an umbrella over him without really reaching, and also walked too fast for me to casually sync up with him; so instead of being the cute girl who was generous with her umbrella, I was the scary girl chasing him with my umbrella stuck out in such a way that it probably looked like I was trying to use it as a weapon.
The flip side of the Lifetime effect is that when you’re not assuming that the hot guy on the train is going to catch you when you slip on the ice above ground and then tend to your sprained ankle over a home-made pasta dinner, you’re thinking he’s going to follow you home, tie you up, and sell you into sex slavery. Unfortunately, I tend to get my signals crossed when deciding which instinct to go with. Last summer, I lived in a less than stellar neighborhood, where my cup runneth over with catcalls and jeers from my fellow Harlem-ers. One night, I was walking home from the subway when a young man emerged from a bodega and started walking a little ways behind me. After 3 blocks of him maintaining the same 5 yard distance behind me, I became convinced that he was setting the first steps of his diabolical rape/murder/trafficking operation into motion. One block more and the thought had taken over. I began walking faster and faster, and then, after turning the corner before my last half block, I burst out my best sprint, managing to get through my front door to my apartment just before he turned the corner himself.
I sat in the foyer of my apartment building, my hands still shaking with adrenaline, congratulating myself on outsmarting a criminal, when I heard the unmistakeable slam of my industrial strength front door. I whipped around to find my would be attacker, a gorgeous twenty-something with an ipod and a briefcase, wearing his best biz cas. There was no doubt that this guy had been completely aware of every step of my downward spiral. He looked at me, annoyed and said “2B,” pointing to the stairs that I was currently blocking. I moved out of the way, too embarrassed to speak, and watched my never-before seen neighbor walk up the stairs, and into the apartment that he clearly lived in, and that clearly wasn’t lit by lamps with skin-covered shades.
I’m not crazy. I don’t love all Lifetime movies. I wasted two hours of my life that I’ll never get back on watching “A Friendship to Die For,” on New Years Eve, and I couldn’t even get 3o minutes into Sarah Chalke’s four hour epic romance, “Maneater.” I keep saying I’m going to kick this habit and return to life as a more normal, decidedly sane person. But then I queue up the DVR list, and find that at midnight the night before Sarah recorded “And Baby Will Fall.”