I heart Carina Chocano.
I instantly fell for her deliciously acerbic wit when first I stumbled across her summaries of “Temptation Island” on salon.com. The Fox reality series which depicted the sex lives of impossibly good-looking couples on a tropical oasis was rather trite and idiotic, but I became an avid viewer of the series, just to read Chocano’s hysterically biting blow-by-blow commentary.
So I was a bit perplexed when I discovered Chocano had authored, of all things, a relationship manual. Had one of my favorite silver-tongued scribes sold out?
Hell, no. Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid? is not your whiny, pimple-faced roommate’s self-help guide to love, the kind of crap that clogs the shelves of New Age bookstores. Rather, Chocano sets the record straight right off the bat when she states, “Is there advice in this book? Yes, but it’s terrible.”
Through the course of this all-too-brief text, Chocano details the modern-day phenomenon of “serial monogamy,” the practice of “leaping from one long, sincere ‘committed’ relationship to another like an overstimulated squirrel monkey.”
Chocano mercilessly dissects the stupid shit we perpetually repeat in relationships, from five types of bad boyfriends to five types of rebounds. She provides handy guides to reading between the lines of a normal conversation (“‘I’ll call you’ never just means ‘I’ll call you’”) as well as charting the rise and tumbling fall of a typical relationship — again, and again, and again. Such chapters as “In Love or Insane” and “The Five-Year Breakup Plan” may not cure you of tried-and-true romantic bad habits, but at least you’ll feel like you’re not alone.
You’ll laugh out loud (and cry, as you see the same mistakes mirrored in your own pathetically turbulent love life) as Chocano tackles such subjects as:
Single life, the myth
If magazines and television shows are to be believed, being single and female is like a long, drunken day at Disneyland. And in the magic shoe kingdom, you don’t walk the least bit funny in four-inch heels.
Single life, the reality
Being single today has very little to do with romantic weekend getaways, and a lot to do with doubt, fear, panic, insecurity, self-loathing, boredom, frustration, and mewling on the phone to anyone who will listen.
Why tie the knot, when you can simply leave the rope slung casually over your throat?
Some day your prince will come. And if he doesn’t, some other dude will.
If it weren’t for so-called “bad” relationships, many of us would have no relationships at all.
Love is a nightmare of compromise and generosity. Still, when it goes wrong, when it fails to appear, or when it comes home blind drunk at three A.M. and pees on the bed, we experience disappointment and a crushing sense of failure.
Luckily, relationships are nonbonding and therefore marvelously flexible. If you find that you have accidentally committed to the wrong person, you may scrap the commitment and commit again with total impunity.
A general rule of thumb when it comes to looking for love in the modern world is to stop being so picky.
This is the kind of book you buy for your best friend, when she’s smearing red lipstick marks on Jack Daniel’s bottles because she’s been awkwardly dumped by some self-serving knuckle-dragger who wasn’t even worthy of her time. Or perhaps that girl is you. In any case, Chocano’s book will provide a much-needed belly laugh (and that’s more than you can say for your ex-boyfriend) to those limping injured across the sidelines of love’s battlefield.
It might be wise to buy a copy for your mom too — just to shut her up about those damn grandkids.
Sarah Klein is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.