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Expiration Date: An interview with Undateable’s Anne Coyle

By Tony Peregrin in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 19, 2010 8:00PM

Anne Coyle
For their new book, Undateable:311 Things Guys Do that Guarantee They Won’t Be Dating or Having Sex, Chicago residents Anne Coyle (an interior designer) and Ellen Rakieten (former producer for The Oprah Winfrey Show) polled hundreds of women about things guys do that turn women off.

So, what makes a man undateable? Notable red flags include earnestly quoting the made-up philosophies of Obi-Wan Kenobi, juvenile names for sperm (“baby batter”), and owning a rodent.

Chicagoist checked in with one of the authors (we kept the Star Wars references to a minimum) to find out her number one undateable, and to get the scoop on the new VH1 five-part series inspired by their book.

Chicagoist: I can’t believe someone hasn't done this before now—how did you come up with the idea for Undateable?

Anne Coyle: Ellen and I were next door neighbors and best friends for 12 years, and we had worked together on decorating her house. (I am also a decorator—the March issue of Elle Decor actually features Ellen's apartment on the cover.) She had worked for The Oprah Winfrey Show for 23 years, and she was one of the first married women in the bunch. And by “bunch,” I mean 300 women, most of them single and dating. So as a result, every Monday, she had a line of single women waiting outside her office to regale her with their dating stories, hoping to get some sage advice. After a while, she started writing them down, wondering ‘Is there a book here?’ I had re-entered the dating scene after a divorce, and (unfortunately) had experienced some first-hand dating mishaps of my own. I started telling Ellen my stories, she started sharing her list, and we decided to write the book. We wrote it and sold it in about 3 months, which was pretty exciting.

C: What is your number one undateable? Were any undateables just too foul to make it into the book?

AC: We each have our own personal worst undateables. Some of mine include acid washed jeans, orthopedic-like walking shoes, and guys who attend medieval times or renaissance festivals. Ellen has a real problem with the use of the "c" word, guys who play air guitar, and men who don't come to the door and ring the bell, but insist on sitting in their car and laying on the horn as a way to pick up a date. We both can't handle speedos, skullets and mullets. Gages (ear expander discs) frighten both of us.

Yes, there were a few too vile or way too disturbing to put in the book!

C: What is worse: A skullet or someone playing pocket-pool on a first date?

AC: Definitely the skullet. It's a disturbing look that, if you are sitting across the table from someone, is hard to ignore. It also is a form of bald denial—the guy should not try and make up for the fact that he is going bald by growing a pony tail with the hair below his ears. The pocket-pooler is the second worse, but it's the lesser of two evils, as it would probably only last for about 5-10 seconds—you might be able to move on and forget about it if he's really nice or really funny. The skullet is just so....there.

2010_03_Undateable.jpg C: I heart the chapter on why your guy friends find you (other guys) undateable. What do you think is the number one undateable for a guy’s friends?

AC: We love "guys that do the phantom golf swing." We love the guy who puts a towel on his head turban style, and the guy who goes to Starbucks and pretends to work. Those are all funny. So is being known as "the porn guy."
C: Give us some Dos and Don’ts for how to be a “digital dateable.”

AC: Do not ever ask a woman out via text—it is lazy and cowardly. If you know someone, and have been out with them a couple of times, its fine to text to say hi, but do not use that as your vehicle to communicate. Also, no women worth her weight in salt would tolerate this.

C: Talk about the VH1 show. Is it a reality series?

AC: The show is basically one of their countdown shows. They usually do things like "The Top 100 Hollywood Hookups" or "The Top 100 Hollywood Romances" or something like that. For Undateable, they are doing the “The Top 100 Undateables.” It starts April 19th and will be a five-night, one-hour series.

C: You start off the book with a “Word About Swagger,” where you write “everyone’s got the right to develop their own swagger” and that nothing is sexier than a man with confidence, so if a guy reads this book and says he will continue to do whatever the F*** he wants, you support that? Why?

AC: If a guy thinks he looks great, and has the confidence to pull it off, there is something really appealing about that. Knowing who you are, what you like, and having the personality to transcend a really bad pair of Dad jeans is a special quality!

C: Whether or not a guy has swagger—is it ever okay for a guy to say he wants to “make love” ?

AC: Not that we can imagine, unless it's ‘My name is Johnny Depp. Welcome to my private island. Now, let's make love.’ I'm sure most women would find that acceptable.