Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wearing of High Heels and Helpful Behavior by Men

The wearing of high heels is an acquired skill; particularly if the high heels are really high.  Of course, the wearing of heels is expected in certain occasions: in business professional settings, in formal and semi-formal dress occasions, and even in beauty contests (generating the preposterous combination of the mandatory swimsuit plus high heels.)

Dr. Nicolas Guéguen, a psychologist at the Université de Bretagne-Sud in Rennes, reported a study looking at whether whether women's wearing of high heels elicited more helping behavior by gentlemen and other ladies.  In two separate experiments, he had four young french women wearing on separate occasions flats, two-inch heels, of four-inch heels.

In the first experiment, the women stood on the street and asked passersby to complete a survey. When the women were wearing flats, 25 out of 60 men (42 percent) agreed to pause and take the survey. When the women wore two-inch heels, 36 of 60 men (60 percent) agreed to take the survey. And 49 out of 60 men (82 percent) paused when the women wore the four-inch heels.

Female passersby stopped to complete the survey around a third of the time; they were not more likely to complete the survey if the survey-takers wore high heels or flats.

In another experiment, the women confederates dropped a glove or the street and noted whether men retrieved for them or not.  Again, they were wearing flats or high heels.  The men retrieved the glove 62 percent of the time when the women wore flats, but 93 percent of the time when they wore high heels'.

As for why high heels have this sort of influence, Guéguen offered a simple explanation: the wearing of high heels simply makes women more attractive to men.

It's nice to know what sort of stimuli press the gentleman button in guys.  Whether it provides justification enough for mastering the skill of wearing four-inch heels, I don't know.

In my opinion, this sort of research should be replicated on a sample of American men and women, extended to include possible helpful behaviors that require more time or effort, and/or the confederates wearing different colored or exaggerated high heels.  After all, it is well-known that certainly strikingly colored or styled high heels are deliberately worn to exaggerate the wearer's gait and to be noticed by guys.  You probably know the popular term for them, which I won't use.

I wonder also, if some men assume that ladies wearing flats might be seen as less disposed towards offers of help by guys, rightly or wrongly.  If so, there are some advantages to being a girly girl.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Euphemisms for "Living in Sin"

Times have changed.  Whereas back in 1960 or so, less than 10 percent of subsequently married couples lived together before marriage, nowadays about 60 percent do so.  And, of course, there are those who live together for a while, but who never get married.  One of the factors is that both men and women get married somewhat older nowadays: 27 for men and 26 for women; as opposed to 23 for men and 20 for women back in 1960.

And in some settings or communities, this is more common than in others.  For example, in Atlanta 22 percent of couples were living together but unmarried according to the 2000 census.  It's much lower in Salt Lake City or El Paso.  This change in couple demographics has required some families and groups to make accommodations.  Or, in the case of where traditional values linger, some subterfuge.  [Schoolteachers living together without marriage usually are at risk of termination or not having their contracts renewed.]  

But there is the linguistic accommodation.  How do you refer to people living in this sort of state?  Here's a few, with some commentary:

1.  Shacking up -- Somewhat 1940's in use; also carries disrespect for the habitation shared by the couple.

2.  Significant other -- This must have been coined by a lawyer.

3.  Lover -- To the point in a way; but can't married couples also be lovers?  And what about Platonic lovers?

4.  Main squeeze -- Somehow, juice imagery comes to mind.

5.  Common-law spouse -- An old term.

6.  Old lady or old man -- Only for motorcyclists.  But teens sometimes refer to their parents in such a way.  Not a wise move for family harmony.

7.  Cohabitor -- Too pointed and clinical.  You may as well refer to "the person I have coitus with."

8.  Companion -- Only if she or he is a real dog [slang!].

9.  Living in Sin -- Can either imply a moral judgment, or an ironic commentary on the state of living together with benefits.*

10.  Friend with Benefits -- This euphemism implies that they're having sex; but FWBs don't have to live together.

11.  Persons of Opposite Sexes Sharing Living Quarters (POSSLQ) -- I swear, the U.S. Census came up with a neutral term to describe this shared nonmarital state.  In response to this term, CBS's Charles Osgood wrote this tender romantic poem:
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
If you would be my POSSLQ
You live with me and I with you,
And you will be my POSSLQ.
I'll be your friend and so much more;
That's what a POSSLQ is for
12.  Domestic partner -- Very commonly used, but quite oblique.

13.  Trial marriage partner -- It's like the person is saying, "I'm taking him for a test drive to see if he steers well and doesn't leak."

14.  Friend -- Too vague.

15.  Sex partner or the like -- Emphasis on only one aspect of the arrangement.

16.  In a relationship -- Keeps it satisfyingly vague.  

17.  Plays house together -- Too cute.

Obviously, the terminology adopted by the person carries heavily what he or she thinks or feels about what is going on.  Have you any other suggestions to cope with this linguistic terminology gap currently facing users of American English users?

*I was NOT implying disapproval of this; quite the contrary.

Let not the cohabitation of true minds admit impediments

Friday, November 21, 2014

Southern Comfort Food

Comfort food is a traditional food that is usually easily prepared, and provides feelings of nostalgia to the person who had been socialized in the culture of its origin.  Comfort food is more "feel good" food than healthy food.  This is the food to turn to when you feel blue, or are sick.

I'll restrict my examples to the Gulf Coastal South, the South as I know best.

Grits -- While they can be prepared in a variety of ways, including cheesy grits, I prefer the traditional butter and salt seasoning.  Hash browns at breakfast is a vile experience.  Some bacon or link sausage complements it nicely.

Jambalaya -- A traditional Cajun dish based on rice, some onion and possibly sweet pepper or celery seasoning, and whatever meat is available for adding: andouille, ham, shrimp, chicken, duck.  Maybe not alligator.

Red Beans and Rice -- A traditional washday Monday meal.  The red beans are even better as leftovers!  Use some ham pieces and flavor with a hambone.  Season with Tabasco sauce.

Gumbo -- A dish made of meat or shellfish, a roux, seasoning vegetables, and either okra or filé.

Barbecue pork or beef --  Get this from a barbecue joint, either as take-out or eat on the premises.  I prefer pulled pork or beef, as opposed to chopped.  A variety of sauces is fine, but no mayonnaise-based sauces, please!  Establishments that serve barbecue are referred to as "joints"; this does not imply a negative judgment about them.

Banana pudding -- The recipe is so easy.  Line the bottom of the bowl with vanilla wafers, cut up some ripe bananas, and pour some vanilla pudding mixed with the bananas on the wafers.  Let cool in the refrigerator.

Moon Pie -- This is Southern junk food.  Best with a Co-Cola or a RC.  That sinful, feel-good result is known as a Moon Pie High.

Pecan pie -- Here's a good recipe from The Food Network:

Hush puppies -- Another term for corn fritter.  Actually, corn muffins are good too.  Serve these with seafood, barbecue, or good ole Texas chili.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Lake Peigneur Disaster

I'm sure that working in a salt mine sucks, as judging from the common metaphor associated with work: "Back to the salt mines."

However, there was an occasion in which a salt mine itself sucked: this was the Lake Peigneur disaster of November 20, 1980.  The setting: Iberia Parish, southwest of New Iberia, in southwest Louisiana.

A Texaco oil rig was digging with a 14 inch drill when it accidentally broke into a salt mine of the Diamond Crystal Salt Company..  As a result, the fresh water of the lake coursed down the hole, filling the enormous salt mine.  Fortunately, no human lives were lost; the miners had an effective evacuation plan and were able to leave safely while the rig crew was able to get off before the rig got sucked into the maelstrom.

Previously, the water from the small lake flowed into Vermilion Bay;  however, the stream connecting the two temporarily flowed in reverse, resulting in salt water flowing into the lake.  This in turn temporarily produced the largest waterfall in the state of Louisiana.  Also, the water that coursed down the hole into the salt mine tended to flow outward through the ventilation shafts, producing unLouisiana-like geysers for a time.  Here's a video of the event.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fandom as a Factor in Home Decoration

There are different degrees of fandom; and some homeowners may wish to up their fan game a notch or two.  It takes a HUGE commitment to paint your house in your team's colors, not to mention possibly violating city or neighborhood covenant rules which address color schemes.  Now this house in Faubourg Marigny has a nice lavender color scheme that quite elegantly displays the fine carpentry work.  But what if was a deeper purple with gold trim (LSU's colors)?  The result might be a bit in your face.

Of course, unsympathetic neighbors or apartment owners may limit your desire to express your team loyalty in this way.  In which case, you might subtly do it in your garden.  A bed of purple and gold Johnny jump-ups (miniature pansies) can hint that you're a Tiger fan.  And this color scheme can pass if you're living in a community in which a rival team is located.

Still, there are supporters of some teams that might have trouble with acceptable decors.  Consider the Green Bay Packers scheme: green and yellow.  Or a benighted homeowner who decides to paint his home in the Cincinnati Bengals' stripes like on their helmets.  Or, maximally odious: the Oregon Ducks' day-glow color scheme.

Perhaps they should change their loyalties to teams that have less jarring color combinations.

And never, never, never go in for team logos.  While some are okay, the New England Patriots' helmet logo is absolutely the pits!

Monday, November 17, 2014

When Should You Stop Wearing Youthful Clothes?

A recent survey in Mail Online asked 2,000 women to indicate which age when they should stop wearing some of the more youthful, sexier fashion choices.  Here are the average cut-off ages that some inhibited, self-conscious Brits proposed . . . .

Crop tops that show off your midriffage 34
Really short shortsage 35
Belly-button rings and piercingsage 35
Leggingsage 37
Miniskirtsage 37
Bikinisage 40
Stiletto heelsage 41
Long hairage 42

However, 16% of the women surveyed disagreed with any age limits.  Good for them!  In my opinion, as long as you feel comfortable wearing it, you should do so.  Don't let anyone rob you of your zest for life.  Often, other people might, for whatever reasons, try to influence you.

In an unscientific survey of "what you shouldn't be wearing after 30 or so article , I found the following fashion statements labeled by the Ms. Grinches* who wrote them specified such items as:

a)  Mini- and microskirts (Can Deep South and California residents have an exemption?)
b)  Daisy Dukes (Ditto.)
c)  Furry boots
d)  Boots that glitter (I am considering getting a pair.)
e)  T-shirts with cartoon animals or strident messages on them (They will get my Hello Kitty t-shirt when they pry it out.....never mind.)
f)  Leopard print clothing or accessories
g)  Scrunchies  (Why, for Heaven's sake!)
h)  Tiaras (You mean I can't be a Cajun princess?)
i)   Crop tops
j)   Neon-colored clothing (Never wore any' I don't hunt.)
k)  Knee socks (Have they no heart?)
l)   Hoop earrings (So I can't channel my inner Gypsy?)
m)  Sparkly pants
n)  Sneakers (I'll pretend that I didn't see that.)
o)  Clunky platform shoes (I don't have any)
p)  Tube tops (Wearing one would make me insecure.)
q)  Mismatched socks


Apparently, you are not supposed to have fun with clothing after a certain age.  At least the following weren't mentioned:

a)  Parasols trimmed with lace
b)  Kimonos
c)  Elegant Gothic Lolita fashions
d)  LSU t-shirts
e)  Big hair, like from Nashville or Jersey
f)  Retro rah-rah skirts
g)  Hiking boots
h)  Edward Gorey jewelry
i)   Cowboy hats
j)   Kitty cat or puppy purses
k)  Sundresses
l)   Two piece exercise clothes
m)  Yoga pants
n)  1950's-style conical bras (just kidding!)
o)  Mardi Gras beads

Of course, some people are more likely to be critics:


*Think the b word.