5150 is a California code section allowing a person to be confined for a period of seventy-two hours (usually against their will) if they are deemed to have a mental disorder making them a danger to themselves or to others. One might think that Kristen McGuiness could fall into that category for taking on the challenge of meeting "Mr. Right" in Los Angeles as recounted in her quirky and endearing book: 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life. Rest assured, Kristen may be crazy, but she's far from insane.
Kristen documents her yearlong journey of 51 dates in 50 weeks (hence the title and the suggestion she just might need psychiatric help). As a native Angelino, I shudder to think what this young transplanted Texan might think of the men here, often considered shallow and vain (especially those of us in television!) I was surprised, and certainly relieved, to discover that Kristen actually found many of the men worthy of another look (or at least a second date).
This is not a "how-to," but rather a book of self-discovery and honesty, which is both refreshing and enlightening. It was written from a woman's perspective, which made it even more valuable for me as a man to gain some insight into the mysteries of the female psyche and seeing men and dating through a woman's eyes.
Kristen is self-effacing and sardonic, as one might suspect is necessary, considering she was the guinea pig in this ambitious social experiment. It is a quick read and one which literally encourages the reader to root for this woman, who is clearly fearing that the snooze alarm is about to go off on her biological clock. As someone who has been married for twenty-eight years, it is easy to forget the angst and pitfalls of the dating "scene" and its innumerable and interminable rituals. But I have two daughters, each in their twenties (one of whom has a boyfriend) so I am sympathetic to Kristen's plight.
I think that this book is a cathartic and humorous companion for any young woman bracing the quest for a relationship in a big city. Kristen is no wallflower and she is no angel - think of 51/50 as Chelsea Handler's take on Eat Pray Love. Does Kristen find her soulmate? I don't want to spoil it for the reader, but suffice it to say that Kristen herself has said that often we search far and wide for something that is right in front of us the entire time. Maybe, in that way, this book is more like a modern day The Wizard of Oz, but instead of meeting a scarecrow, lion and a tin man, Kristen might just have to wade through a sea of guys who are waiting to be discovered as actors, but who all really "want to direct."