Men’s jeans should be “medium to dark blue, unembellished, unmarred, hang on your hips, cover your ankles, and extend to at least the top of your shoes. Levi’s 501s always work. End of story,” says Ellen Rakieten, co-author of Undateable.
Anne, you are a respected interior designer. Ellen is a former producer at The Oprah Winfrey Show. Not exactly the people we’d expect to write a humor book about dating. What was the spark?
Rakieten: I worked at Oprah for 23 years [before leaving to start a production company in 2009]. I started when I was very young; I was one of the first producers to get married. Harpo was filled with many, many, many single women, and on Monday mornings, everybody would come in and talk about their weekends, and I would hear the tales from the frontlines. I started keeping this little list. Then Anne, who is my best friend, got divorced and started dating. She had all of these stories that are hilarious.
What is your number one undateable?
Rakieten: What I like to call bald denial, which are all the things guys do to pretend they’re not going bald.
Coyle: I have a couple: one is acid-washed jeans. A skullet would be a problem for me: That’s the bald head with the long hair below the baldness. Going to any sort of Renaissance festival would give me hives. I would say those are three that would end it all to me.
In the book, jeans get their own category: You dis preripped jeans, sky blue jeans, acid-washed jeans, embellished jeans, and dad jeans. What kind of jeans should men wear?
Rakieten: Jeans should be medium to dark blue, unembellished, unmarred, hang on your hips, cover your ankles, and extend to at least the top of your shoes. Levi’s 501s always work. End of story.
There’s a large section of things guys should and shouldn’t say. One is the phrase “make love.” Women really say that’s a no-no?
Rakieten: We heard that a lot from girls. When guys say “Let’s make love” or “Let’s get it on,” it’s the same thing as “Can I kiss you?” You know what? Let’s not.
Coyle: It’s a little too soulful and precious. It’s something you’d think a girl would say. And even a girl shouldn’t say it.
The book suggests that men can be “fixed.” Is that the best way to approach dating? Do people really change?
Rakieten: Yes. After 17 years of marriage, I say yes. Of course, there are some things you can’t change—for example, if a guy is inclined to say things like “Hey, beyotch” or “Booya” or if you’re not thrilled with multiple tattoos or piercings. That’s why, when you look at the book, things got ratings [from a red flag, which signals a minor offense, to a skull and crossbones, which signals a deal breaker]. It depends on your taste.
Coyle: Yes. The more you’re exposed to, the more rules that you know, you can choose for yourself that you are committed to Crocs (undateable #38) or not. Now that you know they’re not a turn-on, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to take them off.
Photography: (blue jeans) Berrak Eti/istockphoto.com