Sunday, January 13, 2008

Liz Jones & Tad Safran Go On A Date

I am not kidding. This ongoing saga could not get any better if it were melted with chocolate and peanut butter, poured into a giant ceramic mug, and served to me by a shirtless Cameron Mathison.

I read the entire article, and the situation is like Oreo cookies, to me. I know they're extremely unhealthy, full of toxic ingredients, but when I dig into them, I can't stop eating.

Here's the synopsis, from Liz's perspective. And yes, it absolutely did require my comments in bold.

"When I read the piece in a national newspaper in praise of American women, by screenwriter Tad Safran, I was outraged.

A single, solvent man in his mid-30s, living in London, he was bemoaning, in great detail, without pulling a single punch, the sorry state of British womanhood.

In short, he accused us of being ugly and unkempt.

Friends had tried to set up Tad with a woman who was, according to him, "something that surely would have been happier hunting for truffles in the forests of France or grazing on the grassy marshlands of Canada. My friend's wife had told me Sophie still had the body of a 20-year-old. Maybe she did ... dismembered in her freezer at home. She certainly didn't have it on her skeleton".

Poor Sophie never stood a chance, did she, when up against the women of his homeland: the glossy haired, over-aerobicised, high-achieving, Frenchmanicured, designer-clad U.S. female?..."

She still sounds a smidge bitter.

"...No wonder his vitriolic comments have caused such a debate. I, for one, was outraged. I spend £400 a month on my hair, have been known to trek for six hours in search of a competent beauty therapist to wax my eyebrows (that was in the Himalayas) and, well, let's just say at least the man from Net a Porter knows the location of my letterbox..."

I cringe at the needy pandering.

"...And so, I arranged a dinner date with the aforementioned Tad (what sort of a name is that?) to find out [why he would prefer American women to British].

Let's just say I went to an awful lot of trouble..."

I think she should have smoked a pack of Marlboro's and stood in a wind tunnel for 15 minutes.

"...First, I booked a table at Claridges - you can't get more English than that - and also a suite, should we take a shine to each other..."

HANH? Whaaa? Are you kidding me? You're kidding me. Aren't you? Kidding? Is everyone understanding this? She booked a hotel room, in anticipation of the date with Tad Safran. You get that. Okay.

"...I had my hair coloured and cut, put my legs in a sling for a Brazilian bikini wax and invested in an all-over airbrush tan..."

Now, what have I said about rustic tangerine as a skin tone?

"...I performed my own pedicure and manicure (Chanel polish, naturally; none of those nasty cheap New York brands)...

I bought a soft tweed dress from Alberta Ferretti, its bodice studded with jewels. I slung over my shoulders a Dolce & Gabbana cardie that is so exclusive it never even went into production, wedged a pair of Bottega Veneta bondage sandals on my babysoft feet (I wanted to send a signal that the average British woman's taste in the bedroom is very far from vanilla)..."

I am still aghast that she believes this guy is worth all the preparation.

"...and applied my no-make-up make-up with dexterity, even separating my eyelashes with a sterile pin.

I even had my teeth cleaned that morning in Harley Street. It's fair to say I was flying the flag for British womanhood.

Poor Tad. When he turned up - in, commendably, a new shirt bought that day from Emmett on the King's Road, a blazer, slouchy Levi's and a pair of proper shoes (British men, and I feel another article coming on, should take note) - he looked terrified, mainly because he had also (and here again I point to the laziness of British men, most of whom are too lazy to even bother) Googled me, which meant he had good reason to be apprehensive.

'I read your description of your former husband as a 'fat, sportswear-clad nobody',' he said, kissing me on the cheek, and sitting down. 'So, I thought I'd better make a bit of an effort.'

Just don't mention anyone named Daphne.

"...Tad, ...tried to challenge my viewpoint by pointing out that I have, in fact, written articles encouraging British women to spend more on grooming and products, and marvelling at the soign├łe, long-limbed beauties you see as a matter of course on the streets of Manhattan and Paris. Which is true, but I still think British women are more naturally beautiful, and don't men prefer that to someone who irons her hair?..."

Indeed! Hair ironing! (note to self - don't forget the European pronged flatiron).

"...'I love it when a woman gets out of bed, pulls on jeans and a T-shirt, doesn't do her face and walks out the door looking stunning, he swooned. 'But the reality is that to look good past the age of 17 takes hard work, and dedication. Brits are too lazy for that.'

Has he seen any beauties on the Tube while he has been here? 'Honestly? No. Their make-up just looks wrong, their clothes are unironed and really cheap-looking, their boots are scuffed.'

Maybe they are all Polish, I venture..."

Ms. Jones has the most severe case of generalization-itis that I've ever witnessed. And she, apparently, hasn't noticed that Poland is responsible for producing a vast number of supermodels.

"...'No, they are Londoners. In the U.S., even the secretaries look a million dollars...'

The generalization-itis is dangerously contagious.

"...'Here, the female CEOs look scruffy. They think it is beneath them to spend money on how they look, or to appear ambitious. Or, actually, even to be ambitious. British women who went to really great universities and attained good degrees settle for really demeaning jobs, while in America they go all out to succeed.'

Is he intimidated by a woman who earns more than he does? (He seems fairly solvent, having sold several screenplays since he gave up his job as an advertising copywriter a few years ago.)

He laughed. 'Not at all. The fact that American girls are predisposed always to expect the man to pay is the one thing that puts me off them,' he said. 'One, when she spied my green American Express card, exclaimed: 'Do they still make them in that colour?''..."

I will never grow tired of that story.

"...He moaned a great deal about the fact we British girls moan a great deal. 'You are always complaining about juggling your careers and your lives, about not having a man, or if you do have one how awful he is, and about bringing up children. American women would never dream of airing how hard it is - for them, that's a sign of weakness.'..."

What? Is he kidding?

"...What does he prefer, a Brazilian wax or just a plain old bikini?..."

Oh my God, I'm now witnessing an episode of "Blind Date", just before they suggest a dip in the hot tub.

"...'I'm just happy to be there.'

Can he name the designer of my dress? 'Nope. Even American men don't care about labels. We just want you to make the most of yourself, and to try.'

I then asked him to describe me in three words..."

This does not sound like a smart request for her to make.

"...'You first,' he said, ordering a glass of red wine, having carefully grilled the maitre d' about its provenance (I have to say, I do find a man who knows about grapes strangely arousing).

'OK,' I replied, remembering he has a degree from Penn, his favourite author is Kurt Vonnegut and that his favourite film openings is that of A Matter Of Life And Death, a Powell/Pressburger English classic which I also love. 'You are kind, funny and intelligent.'..."

AAAAACK! Am I reading a script of "The Twilight Zone"? She read his article, and lists "kind" first?

"...He certainly doesn't know how to repay a compliment, displaying that great American trait: lack of tact.

His three words to describe me were 'bitter, driven and forward-looking', which would have been the most damning words of the evening ("Well, you do talk about your ex-husband all the time"), had he not then gone on to say he only fancies blondes. Charming..."

This is the point where I would hand Ms. Jones a copy of "He's Just Not That Into You", and comment that I hope she had not pre-paid for the room at Claridge's.

"...Even so, I did quite like him..."

I am completely out of exasperated, confused sound effects, and am now just shrugging.

"...mainly because, and I told him this, I didn't have to dumb myself down to be with him, something I often have to do with men because, the poor dears, they can't seem to cope with someone who is super bright..." Lapland in December. At midnight.

"...'Come on, I deserve a better review,' I admonished him a couple of days later via e-mail...."

Stalking will not garner you a better review.

"...He replied: 'I don't think you will be short of male attention for long, if that's what you want. You clearly pride yourself on making the most of yourself, and manage it without looking like something destined for a display case.

'In fact, you're a pretty good example of the point I made in my initial article: a British woman who is not ashamed to be seen to be making an effort, and looking all the better for it.'

You see? He didn't even ask what I was doing on New Year's Eve..."

Just more helpless shrugging from me.

"...Men may witter on about wanting women to be groomed and at the top of the career ladder and to stop moaning about our lot, but in reality, when confronted with someone who is the real McCoy, they don't get our jokes or find us remotely amazing..."

I find her astonishingly amazing. Just not in the good way.

"...All they want is a 22-year-old blonde who is as bendy as a pretzel and will look up to them rather than challenge them.

I think Tad is being a tad disingenuous. What he means when he says that British women don't measure up is that they are a bit too 'real' and challenging, rather than Barbie-like and empty-headed. American women are welcome to him."

Like the shiploads of tea you sent over, several centuries ago, we will politely decline.