Category Archives: sexuality

From the Not-So-Secret, Not-So-Closely Guarded BOY’S Manual.


Burt Reynolds cover of Playgirl magazineThere’s an old joke that goes:

Why are fewer copies of Playgirl sold than of Playboy?”

Why?”

Because all a girl* has to do to see a MAN naked is ASK.”

SO true.

Sometimes, a girl has to finagle NOT to see the poor shmoe naked, as in:

  • Shaking hands at the door of a date that HE thought went a LOT better than it did…
  • The more merciful: Offering a cheek for the kiss, instead of the handshake…
  • The less merciful:I’m sorry, I’m busy Thursday. Yes, Friday, too. All weekend. Why don’t I let you know?
  • The downright cruel:I don’t THINK so. Thanks, though.” Slam. And, if the door is thin enough, the aforementioned shmoe might even hear the snickering.

The difference between men and women? (Well, ONE of the many?)

While he may mourn for a few days when she doesn’t call, he will NOT, as women will, agonize over WHY she did not call, because he ALREADY KNOWS.

He’s done it himself, in all likelihood.

Most boys have.

“I’ll call you.”

The three nicest – or the three most suspicious – and, too often, the three most horrendously echoing words ever heard pinballing in a waiting person’s mind, ever to fall from a careless mouth.

(This is not counting “I love you,” which is a whole other essay of “he said/she said” unto itself.)

cell phone number padHe says: “I’ll call you.

She hears: “I’ll call you.

He means one of three possibilities.

Possibility Number One:

He means:

Whoa Nelly, You Are The One, in which case. I don’t want to fuck it up by calling you too soon.”

She waits. Thinking mistakenly they are speaking the same language, which you will see they are not.

Possibility Number Two:

He means:

It was OK. Maybe I WILL give her a call sometime. Unless, maybe, tonight’s night works out pretty cool. I dunno. Hey – is that a roast beef hero?

She waits.

Possibility Number Three:

Hey, DUDE, what ELSE was I supposed to say? I WASN’T going to call?”

She waits.

And waits.

What women don’t understand is this:

WHEN MEN DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY,

OR,

WHEN MEN HAVE SOMETHING THEY’RE AFRAID MIGHT MAKE THEM OR SOMEONE FEMALE UNCOMFORTABLE OR (YIKES) UNHAPPY —

OR,

THE TERRIBLE POSSIBILITY EXISTS THAT TEARS MAY SPROUT FROM LUSHLY MASCARA’D EYES…

Something paralyzes their vocal chords more effectively than any cobra strike or sneaky pygmy blow dart.

Men shut down completely.

They practice avoidance. They become as unreachable as an Arctic research base. They return calls and/or texts as frequently as a sports agent.

Girls: take the not-so-subtle hint.

Cut your losses.

Move on.

Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men"This is, in Boy-Talk, their (yes, cowardly) way of saying: “I can’t HANDLE the truth.”

Even if it was going GREAT?

For some reason, it’s not going great anymore, and unless you’re prepared to start breaking several of the stalker laws in these United States, snag yourself a possible restraining order and even, perhaps, an arrest?

Fuck it.

He’s not worth it. No one is.

Move on to someone in whom you trigger the feelings outlined in Possibility Number One.

Even if you don’t feel the same? It’s good for your ego, at least temporarily.

Just don’t forget the MOVING ON part. Remember it’s HIS cowardice, and society’s hundreds of years of hammering into male heads that they MUST NEVER DEAL with feelings against you, NOT your own self-worth, that silenced your cell.

THAT last bit of cheering-up is in The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual, remember: It’s not YOU, it’s HIM. So you KNOW it’s true.

* Men and women are referred to here as “boys” and “girls” deliberately – because when it comes to relationships, we ALL turn into teenagers.

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He wishes I were his ninja girlfriend.


Ah. If only I were available; and if only he were HIM, which he’s not, since HE is not HERE, and HE … well, that’s another blog post, and frankly, none of your beeswax, anyway.

Still. It was nice – I think – being called a ninja.

Considering when I met him, I was shouting: “You suck!” at him.

I had an excuse. The house in which I live here in California is a virtual palace: in addition to all the black leather furniture, the stone floors, the decks festooning every outdoor wall, and the pool house – which houses, ha-ha, not only an in-ground pool and Jacuzzi, but also a pool table – AND an arcade, an air hockey table, a fuzball table, and other fun-fun-fun activities…

… but also the crappiest television service I’ve ever endured.

This would NOT be so terrible if I did not have two daughters, 13, and 10, who live with me in tranquil nowhere, and when they are bored, expecting me to be “Julie McCoy, their cruise director,” because apparently horses to ride, miniature horses to visit, three and half-acres (with a pond) to stroll around on, and the aforementioned Pool House of Joy are not QUITE as entertaining as, say, iCarly, or SpongeBob.

So there were actually two gentlemen – and gentlemen they were, indeed, to suffer such abuse at the hands of a tiny, leather-clad loudmouth, when all they really did was politely inquire:

“Excuse me: may we ask what service you use for your TV?”

Which triggered extreme wrath indeed, and the following blast, when I spotted their spiffy little “DirectTV” shirts.

“I have DirectTV, and you SUCK,” I said.

Loudly.

Maybe, kinda, too loudly.

To their credit, they were shocked and dismayed, instead of outraged and defensive, which, also frankly, (apparently Today’s Word Of The Day) would have been MY reaction.

The tall, blonde DirectTV guy, about six feet, six inches tall – putting him at about a foot and a half taller than myself,  bent slightly over me apologetically, with a dash of defensiveness.

“Well,” he said, “all you had to do was call 1-800-DIRECTTV.”

Still enraged, I stared back, eye to, well, chest. “How would I KNOW that? Is it on the screen, at night, when it would be a smart time to LET me know? When I might be inclined to order? Like I said. You SUCK.”

His babyface fell.  “You can call them right NOW,” Blonde Jock suggested helpfully.

“YOU call,” I dared him, crossing my arms over my chest.

Charmingly, he took my dare.

“I will,” he said, pulling out his flip phone.

And he DID.

(Later, the ex-footballer confessed, after we became Lifelong Friends For Five Minutes, he’d always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance. “Good choice,” I advised him, “You’ll get laid for the rest of your life.”)

Between the two of them, we got my service upgraded to the next level, easily and quickly. The only potential glitch was the customer service phone rep was Southern, and started out a little brusque, but that was easily dispatched when I laid on the Georgia sugar: that is, calling him “sir” (he was obviously older than I was) and deliberately mentioning my other home in Rocky Plains.

Amazing how things go smoother south of the Mason-Dixon line when you’re “from around there.”

It WAS funny watching the DirectTV Duo listen to me switch up accents quicker – and way better – than Angelina Jolie or Meryl Streep.

By now, we were all great friends; I’d pulled out my iPhone with the graffiti cover for admiration, as well as my ever-present Leatherman, for further admiration. (Blonde Jock is planning to get the iPhone soon, as was intrigued with my mirrored privacy cover.)

And, of course, anyone with a penis is always intrigued by a genuine Leatherman.

(If you don’t know what the Leatherman tool is, http://www.leatherman.com/)

ANYWAY…

After show and tell, the conversation turned to the fact I’d just been run over by a truck, which was true.

“So, you’re like, a ninja,” said one of them, in an impressed whisper.

Ninja? Aren’t ALL moms?

“I wish you were MY girlfriend,” he said, in a sort of awestruck tone. “Or that you could train my NEXT girlfriend.”

Thinking this would be a good time for me to mount my white steed Silver and “Hi-Ho” off into the sunset, since any time any conversation veers even remotely into the territory of “can I have your number?” or “girlfriend” or even “what’s your name?” I tend to get a bit skittish, I laughed and said there was fudge calling me at the front of the store (which indeed there was) and waved good-bye – where, in fact, the sistah selling the chocolate pound of wonder and delight even walked me to the very front of the line. How cool is that?

Ninja?

Nah. Just a woman, following the Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual.

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The Girl on the Left.


awkwardEtiquette: Useful. Nice is only a side benefit.

Oldest daughter, exasperated, from backseat, to me: “Mom? MUST you narrate EVERYTHING you see? As if it’s your business in the first place?”

Me, non-plussed by this surly teenaged dismissal: “Why, yes. Yes, I do.”

Oldest: “You’re the only one who can even SEE them.”

Youngest, cheerfully, having had the foresight to pipe up earlier:I call shotgun,” and therefore sitting in the catbird seat, immediately to my right, now pipes up: “I can see FINE.

No words are necessary. The heat alone from the backseat is enough.

Words come, anyway.

Oldest: “Why do you even CARE about them, anyway?”

Me: “Because it SUCKS to be the girl on the left.”

Youngest: “I don’t know what you’re talking about at all.”

Oldest (still furious, about my car-to-car meddling, and the whole shotgun thing in general, since she knows quite well she’d completely understand what I was talking about if SHE COULD JUST SEE FOR HER OWN DAMN SELF): “ohKAY, why does it suck to be the girl on the left?

I grin, happy at last: my chance to give a short lecture on the nature of awkward situations. (It has to be short, the girls know, because we are headed for the bank, which is coming up just a few turns away.)

The car in front of me has three people in the back seat: on the left, there is one brunette ponytail. In the middle, there is a blonde ponytail, who is being bear-hugged, and generally molested by, a burly boy – probably a footballer – on the far right.

This jock is so into his blonde ponytail that he keeps nuzzling his squeeze – and is ending up squeezing the girl on the left ever-over, ever-closer to the left-side passenger door. She doesn’t turn her head, not once, not ever. She is graciously bearing this indignity; why, I do not know.

I myself would have given them a good shove back, and suggested they find a room or something. Well, maybe not “find a room,” since that’s pretty cliché.

Perhaps instead I would “accidentally” drop my purse, lunging forward towards that endlessly annoying hump in the middle, knocking them BOTH toward the RIGHT side passenger door. When they both responded: “HEY!” – as if “how dare you interrupt our foreplay?” I’d smile apologetically, while at the same time planting my ass just a little further to the right, with my big fat backpack/purse/knapsack, or what have you tucked to my left, in between the passenger’s side door and myself.

Cozy but effective strategy for flipping the awkwardness back over onto THEM. My, aren’t we ALL awfully close now? Still want to kiss her, quarterback, now that I’m practically on her lap?

If THAT didn’t send the intended message across, I’d wait till the next big smooch, break out my math homework, and tap the blonde ponytail on the shoulder right in the middle of tonguing it.

Hey, Brittany, did you understand what Mrs. Meyer was talking about when she ran through that binomial theorem today, because I’m TOTALLY lost? Mind taking a look at my notes for a sec, and seeing if they make ANY sense to you, because I’m about to have an EPIC FAIL here.”

Then hold aforementioned binder right up to yon spit-covered face, with innocent smile.

Basically, you get the strategy: incredibly annoying politeness until the people you’re being annoyingly polite to either catch on that they’re being ludicrously rude, and stop, or just stop out of sheer annoyance. Either way, what can they say to you? You’re being incredibly polite.

The beauty of politeness. Don’t let anyone tell you that politeness, etiquette, good manners, is to make other people feel BETTER. That’s just a side benefit.

Etiquette is for one main thing only: So you ALWAYS know what to do in any given situation, without being embarrassed. That’s it. It’s almost as practical as money. Which is why most people who’ve had money for a long time have good manners.

It’s not really snobbery. It’s sensible.

Best of all? YOU can do it, too. Just keep reading this blog, and I’ll learn ya.

My daughter, of course, at 13, could not rest at letting me be right.

What if she didn’t mind?”

Me: “You think the girl on the left ENJOYED being squeezed over while the two of them sucked face?”

Oldest, grasping for straws: “Maybe she’s a lesbian.”

Me:In that case, she’d have to be a pretty CHARITABLE lesbian; don’t you think otherwise she’d be jealous?”

Oldest: “Maybe she IS a charitable lesbian.”

It DOES take all kinds to make a world. My oldest COULD be right. The one thing I DO know? At 13, the one thing Mom isn’t, is right. About anything.

For everyone else? Take my word for it. If you ever find yourself The Girl on the Left? Try etiquette.

Ah, etiquette: the most effective way to be obnoxious and get away with it.

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More Dumpage Tips from the Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual



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 NOTE: This blog post, and the previous post, are dedicated to the group of loving friends that make my studio the heaven it is. These incredibly intelligent, stomach-crunchingly funny individuals are possessed of a Zen-level patience and tolerance of my “okay, let me read THIS draft to you: I changed a syllable, so I have to read the entire thing again…” They are futon-draping, chair-grabbing, pillow-lounging folk whom my daughter calls simply “The Cool People.” Today, in particular, I send my love to Aris*, the willowy and graceful beauty who allowed me the honor of photographing her last night, preserving the rare and unique beauty she someday will know she possesses.

Let's look at The Book.

Let's look at The Book.

And Now..

(Drum Roll, Please…)

More Dumpage Tips from
The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual.

In the highs and lows following a spectacular drop from a great height, many of us make mistakes we later regret with the same shuddering horror with which we look back upon our school pictures: what was I thinking?

Clearly, you were NOT. Thinking, that is. Thinking is NOT something you will be good at for the next little while.

You have suffered what we can term an “emotional concussion.The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual provides for this, offering guidelines of what you SHOULD and SHOULD NOT do immediately after someone tells you they want nothing more to do with you.

#1: Your comprehension skills are at an all-time low right now.

Know this, embrace this, and STOP. LOOK. LISTEN. Be slow to act, and even slower to respond.

For example: when your former “significant other” tells you it’s over, they COULD mean anything from:

“I’m a: complete jackass/player/fool/commitment-phobe/blind in one eye/liar/coward/<<insert any number of possibilities here, including (I hate to break to you) Just-Not-the-Right-Fit, and Mr.-Not-Right-Now, or even – and this DOES happen, because no one is all bad, even your ex’s… I’m-a-nice-guy-and-I-see-it’s-not-working-so-I’m-letting-you-down-easy-now-instead-of-later-when-it’ll-only-be-tougher.>>

The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual, however, deeply encourages you to interpret WHATEVER is said to you, at least for now, thusly:

“You are: wonderful/fabulous/exciting/any person’s dream come true. For some reason, I’ve experienced some brain damage and cannot perceive all your unique and charming qualities, so you’d best either simply be my friend, since I could obviously use all the help I could get, or forget me entirely.”

Then – and this is the most important thing of all DO IT.

#2: Your literary skills are not what you think they might be at this vulnerable time.

So stop e-mailing all those WAY too long, really stupid, soulful volumes that belong in your diary instead.

dump-emailThere are several reasons why this is an abysmally bad idea.

Unless you are a woman, and your ex is a woman, too*, you might as well be writing: “I really want to have your baby, spend all your money, and your penis? I’ll keep that safe in my hope chest; you won’t need it anymore.” If you listen carefully after you hit the SEND button, you’ll hear the musical “beep-beep-ZOOM” of the Warner Brothers Road Runner. It’s him, running for his life.

[*N.B. – Deeply soulful, heartfelt outpourings work far better on woman-to-woman relationships, although tread carefully here; the line between deeply heartfelt and profoundly pathetic is thin indeed.]

Pouring your heart out like that, although you want to everyday, all day, several times a day, is worse than useless. It’s not that he doesn’t care – after all, if he was with you once, he certainly DOES care. THAT’S why it’s so bad.

Heartfelt outpourings make him twitchy, itchy in his own skin, guilty, and miserable. Yeah, yeah, you might initially be pulling a joyful fist down and shouting “Boo-YEAH,” but what’s really happening is this:

Who wants to feel twitchy, itchy, guilty and miserable?
Remember that weirdo with the crush on you from Starbucks a couple of months ago?
The short, creepy dude who kept staring at you and your girlfriends?
The one you guys laughed at, especially when he kept giving you free lattes, and trying to strike up a conversation, but you kept shutting him down because he was really starting to make you feel uncomfortable?

Now that’s YOU. How’s THAT for some perspective?

Suddenly, you don’t feel like sending those e-mails anymore, do ya?

#3: Mention no names, but start telling strange, cute men that you just got dumped.

Sub-tip: Do not EVER leave your house without looking your very best.

dump_flirtChances are, in your misery, if you are thin, you will have gained a few needed pounds. If you have been looking to lose a few, you have. Ergo, one delicious benefit to your agony is that you are, in all likelihood, looking better than ever.

Doll yourself up – not ridiculously so, of course. You’re not going to the grocery store in a little black dress. But instead of a tank top… maybe… throw a halter on. Show a little shoulder. Wear your nicest jeans, with some awesome shoes. Stand up straight; you look confident and thinner.

Casually mention to hunky guys that you’ve just been dumped, but be sure to say it in your most cheerful voice, with your most dazzling smile.

Guaranteed: you will be consoled, flattered, and told what an abominable half-wit he was.

Enjoy this, but TAKE NO NUMBERS. You are not ready for a new relationship; just revel in the glory of the insults he cannot hear, and the joy of hearing how wonderful you are – for you are, and soon you will be fine, and you won’t need anyone to tell you.

You’ll just know.

* Aris: Not her real name. Her real name is cooler, like she is.

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MORE secrets from The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual



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dumpFace it, it’s no fun, and we’ve all been there… unless you’re one of those who’s married your elementary school sweetheart and have no experience whatsoever with the words:

“It’s not you, it’s me…”

…which everyone (except you) knows actually mean: “It’s not you, I’m an asshole.”

There are a zillion different scenarios, which I won’t delve into here. For instance, the kind where you see it coming: he’s phoning less and less. Your stomach lurches every time you look at your cell phone and notice all the little green arrows. Huh. Every time you see his number, YOU called HIM.

Bad. Bad sign.

SO…. you start getting a little pissier each time you DO talk. HE doesn’t want to call someone who’s always pissy. Would you? Things spiral downhill from there… yet somehow… when the big fat DUMP comes…

Surprise! (was it me? what did I do? why doesn’t he want to have babies with me? wait – I don’t WANT babies. wait – was it me – wait. WHAT?) All you say, however, is just a quiet, emotionless: “Okay.” Sometimes your back stiffens and you get a little formal, and you might give him two whole words: “That’s fine.” 

The big fat LURCH in your stomach comes up– and sometimes, later, even the contents of your stomach itself.

The point is, he or she doesn’t want you anymore, despite all your brilliant qualities, your sparkling conversation, your cool emoticons, nifty predictive texting, and the Brainbone Awards gleaming on your Facebook Page.

So you’ve eaten three and a half Ben & Jerry’s Rainforest Crunch tubs. And the Family Size Bag of Fun-Size Snickers. And the loaf of toast, with Thousand Island dressing dipping sauce, when everything else was gone.

You’ve called in sick, so you could surf the Web all day. You’re struggling to resist e-mailing him, and as you’re trying to distract yourself, you find yourself on WikiHow.com, seeing if you can teach yourself how to pull off a Denial of Service Attack Hack on his web site, or if you would get caught if you learned how to program a Trojan Virus that would wipe him out of existence, or at least write your name over and over on his screensaver.

But you know, from the Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual that you were handed in the cigarette-smoke filled bathrooms in school that you will not do any of these things.

It’s okay to fantasize epic revenge, of course. In fact, now’s as good a time as any: Here, I’ll help you: 

Go ahead, you can’t be judged by your thoughts, only by your actions; let’s get it out of your system, and then you’ll be free. C’mon, you can do it. You know you want to. Yeah, see? I see you smiling. 

You see him, don’t you? Old, and alone. Your picture, clasped in his bony, fragile hand, his other hand, trembling and thin, raised to his sobbing, thickly creased face. Your young, beautiful face is partially obscured by his many past tears, it is obvious. The room he is in is dark and cold, and an old, tattered blanket rests across his wheelchair. You can just barely hear his voice call your name, in a throaty voice profound with regret – then you hear the nurses behind him, whispering more loudly amongst themselves: “Poor bastard. He’s been like this for years. All he’ll ever say is her name.”

There, now. Don’t you feel better? Now, get over yourself.

NOW:

You WILL:

Stoically behave as if you do not care; it’s not as if anyone can actually HURT a superwoman such as yourself.

You WILL:

Casually toss your hair back, as if moving onto the next dance partner at the waltz, your crinoline waving around you in a graceful cloud.

You WILL:

Gently (so as not to further damage the delicate skin under your eyes) clear those dark smudgy puddles of mascara and tears, and max out your cards at the Esteé Lauder counter so you will look even MORE fabulous. You are allowed to get your eyebrows waxed, perhaps a mani-pedi, but you are NOT allowed for the next four to six months to cut your hair. You are WAY too vulnerable.

You WILL:

Embrace “THE CONCEPTS.”

  1. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
  2. He doesn’t deserve me.
  3. I was too good for him.

You will NOT:

Wander aimlessly through the 7-11, absently muttering “ASShole,” loudly enough to offend innocent passersby.

You will NOT:

Jam your car into Drive, or into Park, hard enough to do enough damage to cost you actual money, because it will most certainly not be said asshole who will be paying for it now, will it?

You will NOT:

Get dolled up and go alone to a fancy bar – or worse, a dive bar – just for the comforts of flirtation or free drinks. Do I really need to explain why THIS is a bad idea?

Don't let this happen to you.

Don't let this happen to you.

And, this bears repeating, because you WILL be sorely tempted: 
YOU WILL NOT, I repeat, NOT, CUT YOUR HAIR. Maybe – and only if a unanimous decision is approved by your closest friends – consider a color change or highlights, but ONLY IF DONE PROFESSIONALLY. 

YOU WILL:

Recall that as The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual gets scribbled over during your lifetime with jotted notes, footnotes, and Post-Its, it evolves, somehow, into the Not-So-Fucking-Secret-Mutually-Supportive-I’m-Here-For-You-Sister-Woman’s Manual, and you learn:

THE CONCEPTS are actually TRUE.

There ARE plenty of fish in the sea. The thing is, those fish are the people who really DO love you: your family, your kids, your friends – your guy friends, too, who come in really handy at a time like this – and your best girlfriends, who are AWESOME, and to whom you CAN mutter “ASShole” as loudly as you like, and they will set up a cheer squad for you, complete with pyramid.

If he’s foolish enough to dump you, he probably DIDN’T deserve you, and you WERE too good for him, so do YOURSELF a favor, and move on – it’s actually the best thing for you, because moving on, having no revenge at all, ironically turns out to be the best revenge of all –

… because men always want what they can’t have.

If you move on, have yourself a good old life, happy with yourself, you just MIGHT haunt them forever as the one that got away.

It won’t bother YOU.

You’ll be too busy fighting the rest of the fish off with a stick.

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The Top Five Lies an Honest Person Should Tell



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Lies, Lies....

Lies, Lies....

 

Consider yourself an honest person? Well, bully for you. That’s a very fine quality in a person – especially in a person who meets me, since I can typically spot a liar at twenty paces – moreover, I myself never lie as a general rule, since I have a memory like a broken sieve. To lie would be to deliberately place myself in harm’s way, since I would trip myself up too easily.

Did I say Greece? I meant Ireland. Yeah, that’s right. I was in IRELAND last Thursday. THAT’S why I couldn’t make your party. Yeah, big bagpipe convention. What… oh, yeah, I mean SCOTLAND.

See? I SUCK at lying. No, wait, that’s a lie right there. I’m actually a stellar liar; I could make you believe you were an alien from space, if I really wanted to, but I’m a sucky rememberer. You’d come to me, later, all wrapped in tinfoil, and when I laughed at you, you’d go all crestfallen on me: “But… but… you said…

Then I’d remember and go: “Oh, yeah, Andromeda Galaxy, that’s right. Whoops. Eh-heh…”

HOWEVER (I’m also a terrific digresser) to get to the main point here: SOMETIMES, it’s important to LIE. Because the worst kind of mean-hearted bully is the kind who tries to use “honesty” to hurt other people, to wit:

“I’m just being honest here. You DO look fat.”

Now come on. Is that EVER necessary? No. Lie, people, lie your asses off. If some friend of yours is stuffed into something that makes them look like Jones Pork Sausage, what the hey? They’re already out and dressed. It can’t be helped now. What they need NOW is CONFIDENCE to pull off the look.

Lies, delivered in the spirit of loving dishonesty, do just that.

#1 Your Haircut Looks Great.

Even if you can barely look without flinching, even if your eyeballs start to tear, you MUST manage this, because hair only grows so fast, and your friend/acquaintance/boss/mother now must live with this horror for at least a few long and terrible weeks.

“Is it bad?”

“NOOOOOOhhhhh,” is your answer, as enthusiastically as possible. Add a little primping touch of the hand, as if you can’t resist the touch of the prickly mess, if you can bear it. “It’s terrific. Only YOU could pull it off. It suits you so well!”

#2 No, it SO wasn’t you, it was them!

Your friend is devastated by the loss of a significant other. Perhaps, you, who have followed the drama and the saga, know for a fact that his or her giant chasm of need DID in fact, drive the poor bastard away screaming and babbling incoherently.

NOW is not the time for a personality review.

BAD: “Yeah, sweetie, it WAS you. Poor schmuck couldn’t take you following him to work, calling his cell every ten minutes, texting him every five, I mean, think about it, hon.”

GOOD: “Sweetie, he didn’t deserve you. You’re better off without him. Here: have another pint of Chunky Monkey.”

Later, perhaps, you can suggest counseling, or a good lawyer to deal with the Order of Protection.

#3 How old do I look?

Hang on, here, I have to stop laughing so I can type. Do I really need to spell this out for you folks? Is there anyone out there who really thinks they get some kind of cosmic points for guessing RIGHT?

I’ve seen this – mostly guys – smiling, as if someone’s going to hand them a fluffy carnival toy when they see a woman’s mouth drop open. “I got it, didn’t I? I’m right, aren’t I? You’re 40.”

I have actually said to guys that have done this: “Asshole.”

They’re completely oblivious to the idea that the woman with the mouth agape is struggling NOT to knock the block off the self-satisfied jackass.

Two very good rules to follow here.

Number one: refuse to guess. Claim it’s a policy of yours. This is, in fact, the safest way to go, and if you have the balls to ride it out, you’re good to go. 

Number two:
Part A: If, say, an obviously 50-ish person asks (and stupid, by the way, to ask in the first place), don’t be stupider and say “21.” Why is this stupid? Because it’s so clearly not true, it makes them think YOU think they’re SO old that you have to guess WAY too young to flatter them. It ends up insulting.

Hey – I didn’t say it made sense. I’m just giving you the skinny on how people think.

Part B: Instead, if you think you’re ANY good at guessing – and you best be DAMN good at guessing – take THAT age, and subtract 10-15.

THAT will make it seem real that you guessed wrong – and way under.

The very BEST way to flatter people about their age? If and when they mention the ages of their children, look SHOCKED and say: “I can’t believe you have kids that age. You don’t look old enough to have kids that age.”

That’s believable – and flattering. And it comes up naturally in conversation, and can make somebody’s DAY.

# 4. You’re right.

My grandfather used to say: “A man convinced against his will remains of the same opinion still.”

It’s up to you, here, folks, but personally? I don’t give a rat’s ass about whether most people KNOW I’m right, as long as I do.

For instance: you come across some hardcore goofball on the sidewalk – maybe wearing a sandwich board, proclaiming that he’s a taco.

You know, of course, that he is NOT a taco. Tacos, for those who do not know, don’t have faces, for one thing. Neither do they argue on streetcorners.

Believe it or not, there are some people who will waste valuable moments of their lives they will never get back, trying to convince the buffoon that he is, in fact, NOT a taco, but actually a living human being, and inedible for the most part, outside of a few cannibalistic rainforest dwellers. (Who probably will not wrap him in Mexican breadlike outer coatings and hot sauce.)

Why bother? You KNOW you’re right, he’s wrong, go on your merry way.

It’s so totally okay to be right and have no one know it but you. Even if said Taco Dude has a band of merry Taco Followers mocking you, calling you Dufus. Shrug, and move on to the next street corner, where perhaps you’ll find someone who thinks they’re a hamburger.

#5 This is delicious.

Even if what you’re served tastes like Dog Turd Pudding (see earlier post), if you’ve been the lucky recipient of free food and the free hospitality at someone’s home, however humble, you are unfortunately obliged to eat it.

Tip: your olfactory sense – that is, your nose – is connected to your taste buds. So if you can’t smell, you can’t taste. So breathe through your mouth and choke the Cream of Whatever down. Somehow.

BONUS LIE:

“Everything is going to be all right.”

Actually, this one isn’t a lie. My grandmother – the wife of previously mentioned grandfather – had a good saying, too: “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” So: no matter what ever happens to you, no matter how shitty, everything DOES end up all right in the end. The wheel turns, and daylight breaks again. So this one, once the cosmic shit storm passes, is the truth.

Keep it in mind. 

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I’m with stupid.


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I'm with stupid. Thank goodness.

I

It takes someone really, really intelligent to pull off stupid.

I don’t mean your ordinary, garden-variety stupid — the kind of stupid I encounter like this:

Me, to my dog, Tucker:Arrêt. Assieds. Viens ici.” (Meaning, in informal French, “Stop. Sit down. Come here.” More about this later.*)

Onlooker (or is it “onlistener?”): “Your dog speaks French?”

Me: (struggling to restrain myself from flicking their head with my thumb and forefinger) “Well, he’s really terrible at correcting my French, I’ll say that much. But mostly he’s a good listener.”

Because dogs don’t speak ANYTHING, DUH.

So I don’t mean THAT kind of stupid. We’re all immersed in THAT kind of stupid everyday, and actually we can view it positively.

especially when we do something that makes us feel developmentally disabled, like struggle for an embarrassingly long time pushing on a door you’re supposed to pull, when you tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, or when some joker at the party ruins your joke by saying something annoying like “What do you mean you don’t remember the binomial theorem?”

especially when we do something that makes us feel developmentally disabled, like struggle for an embarrassingly long time pushing on a door you’re supposed to pull, when you tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, or when some joker at the party ruins your joke by saying something annoying like “What do you mean you don’t remember the binomial theorem?”

We can feel like geniuses, especially when we do something that makes us feel developmentally disabled, like struggle for an embarrassingly long time pushing on a door you’re supposed to pull, when you tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, or when some joker at the party ruins your joke by saying something annoying like “What do you mean you don’t remember the binomial theorem?”

Or worse, when you’re wasting time online and get sucked into those horrid IQ tests, and realize that you really aren’t even dull normal. (Why don’t I know the capital of Greenland? Did I ever? Do I need to? Does anyone else? Do they even, in Greenland?)

Still worse is when your nine-year-old comes to you with her math homework, and you — you, who began your own college career as a math major before you realized you didn’t have the imagination for it and became a writer instead — goggle at it, desperately turn the workbook upside-down in the hopes that perhaps that will help, and then feign a casual shrug, rationalize that you are encouraging their independence and say: “We learned math a different way when I was in fifth grade. I suggest you ask your teacher.”

Okay. So now that we’ve ruled out the kind of stupid I don’t mean, let’s talk about the kind of stupid I do mean.

I have enormous admiration for actors like Brenda Song, Suzanne Somers, and Ashton Kutcher, all of whom play, or have played, characters who are so dim they border on nearly retarded, were they to inhabit real life. It takes an extremely intelligent actor to pull that off.

You can tell, because less intelligent actors try to do it and it just doesn’t work. They actually ARE stupid, and it shows.  The jokes aren’t funny, the timing is off, the whole thing falls flat.

Two days ago, my older daughter, who is 12 going on 22, and I, were having a very funny exchange, making fun of each other because she is a golden blonde who dyes her hair red, and I am a redhead who dyes her hair blonde.

(I do this, not for the blonde thing, but because my naturally auburn hair grows in dark – but the very second I step into the sunlight – winter or summer – my hair lightens considerably, making it LOOK as if I color my hair. So I figured, what the heck, why not play?)

Hence, blonde jokes are inevitable. Now: my oldest has developed a rapier wit that leaves you bleeding before you even feel the knife. I’m funny, but her dad is funny too – in a very dry way. She’s gotten the best of both. She’s a colossus of brainy humor, and you NEVER see it coming.

I am at the stove, obediently cooking bacon for the girl, who is growing like a beanstalk and already towering like a willow over me. She is sitting on the kitchen island, swinging her long legs, sitting bolt upright, hands crossed over her chest, lips pursed.

“I don’t know if I can eat that,” she says, in a too-sweet voice. “Is bacon a meat?

Not quite catching on yet, I turn a head. “Boy, you really ARE blonde.”

“Well,” she continues, à la Valley Girl, “I’m re-evaluating my commitment to meatatarianism.”

I hop onto the stupid train with her. “Well, it’s a spiritual thing, you know. A real commitment has to last, you know, like, at least, like, a few hours, at least – you know?”

“Are you a vegetarian?” she asks, big blue eyes wide.

“I don’t know,” I respond helplessly.

She tilts a sympathetic head. “It’s Oh-Kay…” she says, extending the vowels, “everyone experiments sexually.”

I was gone after that. Not only was I flabbergasted that my 12-year-old could make such a clever joke, but I was delighted that she was intelligent enough to play stupid so very well.

* I speak French to my dog for two reasons: one, he is more intelligent than most humans, and once I taught him all the commands in English, he got bored, so I decided to reteach him everything in French. The other reason is that I don’t have anyone else to speak French to, so I speak French to him.

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