Saturday, December 1, 2007

Book 12 of 52: Not Tonight, Mr. Right: The Best (Don't Get) Laid Plans for Finding and Marrying the Man of Your Dreams

Dear DaCapo Press publicity team:

I'm confused. Very confused. First you send me The Threesome Handbook: A Practical Guide to Sleeping with Three, a book that makes sleeping in trios look as normal as walking the dog.

But then you follow that up with Not Tonight, Mr. Right: The Best (Don't Get) Laid Plans for Finding and Marrying the Man of Your Dreams by Kate Taylor. Not only does this book advocate waiting to sleep with your man of choice, but demands that you wait six months -- SIX MONTHS! -- before getting horizontal.

If I would to follow advice from both books, I would be wearing a chastity belt for half a year when it comes to one guy, but dropping my panties whenever I find a randy couple looking for a third.

What gives?

Best,
Jen A. Miller

*

I kid, I kid (Lissa and Lindsey, you guys do a fabulous job, and I appreciate that you send me so many books -- you can tell your bosses I said that). But I think the fact that these two books are being put out by the same company around the same time highlight something: self help books try to help you in a zillion ways.

I picked Not Tonight, Mr. Rightfrom the stack of galleys in my office because I'm writing an article about the self help genre, specifically "chatty" self help books (think He's Just Not That Into You chatty. I usually chuck these books in the "to be donated" pile, which is why I didn't have many left on the shelf. I had to go to the newspaper's book room and sort through boxes and boxes of books (those labeled "do not review") to come up with the stack of a dozen self help books in a stack next to my desk. But, since I had the book in hand, I gave Not Tonight, Mr. Right a go to start my brain in the self help direction.

I've never been a big fan of the genre because I think they either prey on your internal fears, or regurgitate common sense. Not Tonight, Mr. Right does a little bit of both. Common sense: don't have sex on the first date. Duh. Prey on your internal fears: if you do, you will be bitter and lonely with a dozen cats unless you close your legs and act like a lady.

While I agree with some of what Taylor writes -- date a lot of guys at once; don't shag him in the back of a cab on the way home; make him work for your affection -- a big chunk is bunk, like feminism has hurt us on the dating scene, and that we should never approach a male (if that were the case, my dance card would be empty because I think a lot of those nice-guys-who-finish-last are very shy).

Another problem I have with titles like this is the "do everything I say and you will be a new person" tone. One book is not going to set any one woman to the path of pirouetting self esteem with a trip down the isle to boot.

Not Tonight, Mr. Right is not all crap, though (I'd say about half is). I like the science she offers about why we shouldn't get too close to guys too fast e.g. we bond quicker, but six months until sex? SIX MONTHS? And Taylor doesn't even allow some, um, self relief in that time period, and that's just not natural. That's taking it too far, especially when she offers 'success stories' where the winners didn't wait nearly that long, just longer than she normally would.

Another point where Talyor has something to offer that I think is worth paying attention to is about not feeling guilty for a guy's stupid actions. Case in point: last night, I was woken up by not one but two late-ish phone calls. The first was someone who called after his office party ran long. I was asleep, and he apologized profusely for waking me. Instead of trying to assure him it was OK and that I wasn't really asleep anyone (something I did with my ex), I accepted his apology and ended the call.

The second call came a bit later, though in text form. This is more of a hot button issue for me. My Icky Ex (read more in this post) did this all the time -- at least once a weekend -- on and of for two and a half years. He expected me to get out of bed and meet him at whatever bar or party he was already tanked at. Idiot me, I went 9 out of 10 times. Yes, dump. Yes, stupid. I chalk my behavior up to two things. First, I was young and naive. Second, I thought I was going to change his mind about me. I was wrong on the last count -- horribly wrong -- and I've decided since that I'm not going to let that happen to me again. So I was curt in responding to that text message. Again, apology texts and even an apology call from the guilty.

Guess who didn't apologize this time? Me. I'm better than that, and I'm not doing the after-bar phone call and flirt anymore. Granted, the guy who texted doesn't know this is a hot button issue for me, it wasn't that late, and he's used to talking to me before he goes to bed. It's just that last night, I went to bed early and he stayed out late.

Still, I let him know that this behavior is not acceptable, and he can make it up to me later. No more Ms. Cutsey when a guy does something I don't like.

Taylor's book reinforces this idea, but so do a lot of other dating books. Like I said in my review of Cindy Lu's The Four Man Plan (a self help book I happen to like), you have to be in the right frame of mind to read such advice and accept it. Good thing I'm in an excellent frame of mind.

I'll try not to load the blog with self help books, but that might happen since I'm writing an article about them. Once I finished Not Tonight, Mr. Right, I was going to go for the next book in the stack, but opted for a weightier non-fiction title instead (literally -- if I threw it at you, it would hurt). I'm also flying to Arizona next week and will have lots of plane time to read. As always, stay tuned...

Read more at www.nottonightmrright.com

P.S. Taylor is British and doesn't gloss over it in the book. I spent a semester at Oxford University and slip into a British reading voice after the first few chapters of a by-Brit book. It showed in the first draft of this review, too, when I typed behaviour instead of behavior. HA!

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