Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Coming Attractions" (new JW column is online)

Greetings columnizers. My newest Jewish Week singles column, "Coming Attractions," is now available online. Coming Attractions by Esther D. Kustanowitz New York Jewish Week, First Person Singular August 18, 2006

When my friends and I moved to New York City after college, theater and high culture were out of our price range. But at the movies, we found affordable, air-conditioned entertainment. Popcorn was always extra (in terms of both coins and calories), but a secret bonus was included in the price of admission: Before the film started, we were treated to numerous movie trailers, designed to entice us into future movie ticket purchases and to create buzz for upcoming film releases. We’d predict how many trailers we’d get, and be delighted when we got more than expected. Based on how good each preview was, we’d make our decisions right there — “no way!” “totally!” and “maybe on DVD.”

In the dating world, several mechanisms operate as trailers, setting us up with overly vast expectations or none at all, and causing us to make instant judgments about the people we meet as romantic potentials. If we’re looking, we’re often “treated” to previews of the main attraction before we even determine whether the featured presentation holds any attraction at all. The movie judgment mechanism is activated. Bearing little information, we discard potential dates before we ever meet them, or elevate our expectations to such a level that no man or woman alive can ever hope to reach them.

To read the rest of this article, visit this page at


Nice Jewish Guy said...

Link seems to be dead...?

Lyss said...

I found the same


VJ said...

The link can work, but only for the 'regular site' and Not for the specific article. So just dial up the shorter URL. Cheers, 'VJ'

VJ said...

Thinking about this some, I've come to the firm conclusion that all the trailers & 'coming attraction' reels & ads lie in life. Sure they can tell you a bit about the movie. Often it's fairly deceptive, and predictably so. But it's a Movie. Life just a'int like that.

We can have that movie going on in our hear of all our brilliant success, some, perhaps most of this in the indefinite future, but we've got plans. This alone would make us unusual for a teen or a 20 something, and even some 30 & 40 somethings just have no clue.

The Navy promises adventure, and most of the time you saw it from far below decks in the communication room or worse. The Army promised to send you to exotic lands, and all you see of it is down the barrel of a gun most of the time, or in barracks. The law firm promised untold riches & power, but all you've seen of your family since signing up are short spurts of pure misery & strife caused by your extended absences. Like the Army or Navy, that might go on for awhile, 20 or so years perhaps. Who questions the proposition that if the dismal reality were better known, these positions would be much harder to staff? No the cute ads play on our emotions and tell us what we dearly want to hear.

What's love got to do with it? Well, let's get there. Take the average 2nd or 3rd wife, trophy or not. She's 10, 15, perhaps 20 years younger than the Mr. Big. He's exciting, mature, worldly & wise, and of course comfortably well off due to his high powered job & executive status. He's nothing like the flighty boys who she's been chasing since forever, and vice versa. The woman naturally expects to live a certain 'life style' that she has aspired to all her life. Perhaps for generations. It's in all those old 'Lifestyles' reels! And there it is, right in front of her in the comfortable form of Mr. Big, a slightly pudgy older gent who smiles whenever he sees her, showers her with affection and gifts galore, what's not to like?

That movie trailer never mentions your ticking odds. That lonely Greek gent will live just long enough so you can collect a fortune and have some fun. That former stock hustler on the make who was always good for a C note tip at dinner? He's the one with hidden heart troubles that will disable him for the next decade or more, with you playing the loyal nursemaid. You'll have no place else to call home, and no one else to nurse you when you come down with a chronic disease. You'll soon follow him off this mortal coil.

That lovely fit & trim female executive who ran daily will have a tragic car accident the month after you marry her. She'll never quite be the same. Nearly 20 years on and about 150 pounds heavier, you, her 2nd husband lug her wheelchair all over Europe on her lucky extended vacations. This is before a liver & kidney transplant list will keep her tethered close to home. She still has that same smile & certain charisma, but she's not the same person from her highlight reels, which date back to a self that is all but unrecognizable to most people 'who knew her when'.

Let's not even think of mortality or morbidity, although these clearly are some of the greatest risks to any marriage, relationship & your financial well being. Let's think of the fun loving 'party gal/guy' suddenly thrust into the responsibilities of parenthood. Sometimes this can work reasonably well with enough reading, learning, understanding and desire to see it through. Oft times it does not work well, and people can suffer from the result for years if not generations. Hidden psychological flaws can reveal themselves at severely inopportune times. The husband who comes to deeply resent the attention his children gets from his wife. The wife who although friendly enough to strangers, never seems to get along well with relatives as the years go by. The good mother finally & tragically overwhelmed by work at home & on the job. The good husband who strays seeing a silly opportunity with the cute young thing in the corner shop.

These failings and foibles may be well known to us from movie plots & real life, but few of these events are all that predictable. You can't look into someone's eyes from across the table and know or predict all these things. If you 'get' 20 % of 'it', you're doing better than average. A lot of the future is unknown. Famously as Rummy put it 'There are the known unknowns & the unknown unknowns'. On a populational level, there are predictable patterns of behavior. But what sort of animal are you chowing down with & possibly bedding? We've not a clue. And there's no one else on this green earth that can do much better.

So Life's not like the movies. Not one damn little bit. Even the bad movies usually turn out better. They have to or no one would want to watch them! Just some thoughts from real life. Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

VJ said...

Geez, alrady typos. This should have read:

'We can have that movie going on in our heads of all our brilliant success, some, perhaps most of this in the indefinite future, but we've got plans'. Cheers, 'VJ'