Thursday, March 31, 2011

Off Season Post 3: My Big Sex Scandal

Hello and welcome to my most controversial post of the off season. I realize I’m posting this way early, but the Final Four is on Monday and I have plans. Besides, I figured I’d give you some extra juice as you slide into your weekend. Actually, I don’t know how much controversy this will evoke, but it’s a hell of a true story. First, some background. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover this week, so I’ll dispense with the salutations. I’m glad you’re reading. Now, the background.

My best friend growing up was a guy who I’ll call Mike H. Mike and I met when we were probably 8 or 9 years old. We attended the same elementary, junior high, and high school. It was during the first part of the latter that we became very close friends. We played sports together, went on double dates together, ate together, drank together, and whatever other heterosexual male bonding ritual was common during that time. Ours was truly one of those rare friendships between males that went a lot deeper than sports, women, or superficial concerns. I literally trusted Mike with my life and he trusted me with his. We were true friends in every sense of the word.

Now Mike may sound like someone new to you; however, he’s actually been a die hard reader of the blog for about 4 months now. Over time, Mike and I lost touch. He moved to Hawaii. I moved to Austin. We put down roots in different places and we eventually stopped talking, not for any reason other than time and distance. A few months ago through sheer coincidence, Mike happened to look over the shoulder of his wife and her friends one evening as they sipped wine and laughed hysterically into the screen of his home computer at a blog written by a local writer.

As he began to read the blog, Mike noticed the small half-inch picture of the author and realized that I was, in fact, Some Guy in Austin. After an email or two, we realized that we lived only about 20 miles apart and worked just 5 miles apart. We reconnected and eventually met up at a local bar for some Lone Stars. He picked up the bill. Thanks, Mike.

As we reminisced, we belly laughed over dozens of antics and recounted the trouble we’d avoided and some of it that we didn’t avoid over the years. Most of you know him as “MH” on this blog now. It’s been great to meet back up after almost 12 years of silence and below is a story that brought us to tears the other night. Mike and I talked like we never missed a day in each other’s lives. My face still hurts from laughing. I hope I can do this justice. I’d like to apologize in advance to Mike’s lovely wife for telling this story—online no less. Apparently, she has a sense of humor. She’ll need it.

Disclaimer: As I’ve stated before, I often use hyperbole in order to make my point a lot of the time. However, like my Worst Date Ever story, the following story, with the exception of some condensed timeline and location facts is substantially and literally true. I’m good, but I’m not good enough to make up a story like this. I hope you enjoy it as much as Mike and I did during its retelling last week. With that said, let’s get to it.

As many of you know, I grew up in what was then a small town just to the North of Houston. My family moved there when I was 6 years old. The town had just a few thousand people in it, but was destined to one day be annexed by the City of Houston. That happened after I graduated from college. It wasn’t Mayberry but it wasn’t Wisteria Lane either.

As I grew, so did the town. Streets were widened, amenities began to pop up, and we no longer had to travel into the neighboring town for groceries. Schools were built, churches began to burst at the seams, and sports leagues filled to capacity. As the population grew, so did the need for local law enforcement. Because the town was not a part of Houston, 3 local constables from the nearby precinct were added to patrol the mean streets of my hometown to protect, serve, and eventually harass the hell out of my friends and me in the name of “upholding the law.”

Because of the lack of any “real” crime in my town, it was not uncommon for the constables to lie in wait in order to bust up a teen gathering at various local parking lots, parks, or house parties. We all knew the names of the three officers and they knew the names of the ones who were usually in the middle of things. Mike and I were usually in the middle of things.

To appreciate this story is to appreciate the stereotype of the local constable during that time and in that place. There was a fat, angry, middle-aged cop named Officer Bates. He was famous for calling us “chief” and asking “where’s the fire?” when he handed out speeding tickets like Valium in a pysch ward. Officer Bates preferred a ticket over a warning seven days a week and if you had a date in the car with you she was sure to be asked to step out in order to “ensure her safety” during the stop.

The next cop was a short, 100 pound lesbian named Officer Betty. She was, by far, the nicest and most lenient of the three. She preferred a stern, yet well meant, talking to over anything else and would regularly have us pour out our beer and throw it in the trash as opposed to hauling us down to the precinct and calling our parents. She was reasonable, cool, and although we never showed it, respected.

Then there is one of the central characters of this particular story: Officer J.R. Sharman. J.R. Sharman was probably in his late 20’s at the time. He was approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed about 115 pounds, including his utility belt, gun, and nightstick. His blonde hair was carefully manicured into that pseudo-military flat top specifically chosen by lower rent cops and security guards. He wore perfectly shined combat boots with his constable uniform and had the standard issue mirrored sunglasses that to this day I would swear he wore even at night like the bad terminator in Terminator 2.

He was the type of guy that became a cop, not to right the wrongs of suburban towns, but to get even for the beatings he took in high school. He used words like “vehicle,” “confiscate,” and “perpetrator.” He assumed guilt and loved to hide behind the authority of his badge. We all swore his gun was empty but were certain that he had one bullet in his shirt pocket just in case things went South.

Now to be fair to the fine law enforcement officers in my community, at the time of the subsequently chronicled events, Mike and I were about 17 or 18 years old. Mike was about 6’3”, 225 pounds, had a 30 inch waist, 18 inch arms and could probably turn over a car if he felt like it. I was about 6’1”, 165 pounds and could dunk a basketball and spike a volleyball with deadly accuracy. We were lean, tan, on summer vacation, and felt invincible. In short, we were your standard cocky, smartass, teenage sh*theads without a worry in the world. If I met myself at that age today, I would probably hate me. Granted, I would appreciate my good looks and beguiling demeanor, but I would hate me.

As I stated before, Mike and I were usually in the middle of whatever trouble occurred in town. Mike drove a black GMC pick up truck with red racing stripes and illegally tinted windows. Everyone in town, including our friend Officer J.R. Sharman, knew the truck and knew that we were usually in it. Mike and I both worked at a local pizza place where the ownership had a tendency to blatantly ignore state health laws as well as some federal drug laws. Mike delivered the pizzas and I cooked them. I could throw a mean pizza dough and Mike usually paid for the after hours beer with his tips since I was an hourly employee. Incidentally, the way we got back at the owner for firing us is another good story that perhaps I’ll share one day.

Mike and I were smartasses, but we were hard workers. We both worked full time during the summer at the pizza place and did some landscaping on the side for extra cash. Mike also worked for his father’s company down on the Houston Ship Channel loading boxes into shipping containers and 18 wheelers. We created a lot of noise, but generally we were decent kids looking for a few cheap thrills in a small town after dark. We would have characterized most of the fun we had as harmless. Officer J.R. Sharman had several words for it: criminal mischief, disturbing the peace, and disorderly conduct, just to name a few.

Since Mike graduated a year before me, he was preparing to enter his first semester in a college about 70 miles north of Houston and regularly spent time up there preparing his apartment, registering for classes, attending orientation and all of the things that accompany a young man’s first leap from the nest. I remember Mike calling me early in the week from Huntsville to let me know that he was coming home for the weekend. He suggested I take a couple days off and we could grab a few beers and meet up with some friends. I agreed.

Friday night came and went uneventfully. If I’m not mistaken, Mike, my twin brother, and a couple of friends bought some beer from the local country store just over the county line. The manager there had a fuzzy memory for faces and a very difficult time subtracting 21 from the current year. We headed out to the local baseball fields and drank some beers on the tailgate until we went home. Before he dropped me off, Mike suggested we hit the local athletic club for a workout in the morning. We agreed that he’d pick me up around 11:00.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Mike pulled up and honked his horn at 10:59 and we both waved to my father who was mowing the lawn as I jumped into the passenger seat of the truck. About a mile from my house, with the radio as loud as an air raid siren Mike misjudged a stop sign and jammed on his brakes before hitting the accelerator and spinning his wheels through the intersection. We giggled hysterically while inhaling the rubbery smoke around us. Just as the smoke was clearing we both unleashed an expletive as we saw the familiar sight of red and blue lights in our door mirrors.

Mike quickly pulled over and turned down the radio as I reached into the glove compartment in search of his insurance card. Preoccupied, I quickly knew we were in for lecture as I heard Mike say, “Oh sh*t. It’s Officer Sharman.” I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but I think my response was something like, “Here we go.”

Officer Sharman emerged stone faced from his police cruiser and sauntered up to the truck. With a smug look on his face he said, “Mornin’ Mr. H-----, Mr. DP, where are we headed today in such a hurry?”

Glad that I wasn’t called “chief” and asked where the fire was, I spoke up. “We’re headed to the gym, Officer Sharman. How are you today?” I said looking at my reflection in his sunglasses. Ignoring my inquiry, he took Mike’s license and insurance card and walked back to his car after suggesting that we “sit tight.”

When he returned, we got a five minute lecture about safe driving and a written warning for “exhibition of acceleration,” or what normal people call “peeling out.” We were told in no uncertain terms that if Officer Sharman smelled any more rubber anywhere around town, he’d be looking for us. Relieved, Mike and I proceeded to the gym. Incidentally, we worked chest, shoulders, and triceps that day. After all, beach muscles are important this time of year and I certainly didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get adequately pumped.

While at the gym Mike and I ran into two nubile female friends of ours and eventually met them at the outdoor pool after we worked out. Both of them were friends of ours and were a lot of fun. They told us about a house party about half a mile from our houses (Mike lived two blocks over from me). Kegs, drinking games, and music were on the agenda and, apparently, everyone knew about it but us. We agreed to meet them there around 9 o’clock. Mike and I socialized a little more and went in to talk to my mother who was the Events Planner and Front Desk Receptionist at the health club.

Keep in mind that strapping teenaged boys live by different rules. Our workout took almost two hours and our socializing took at least another hour and a half. It was almost three o’clock when we pulled out of the health club parking lot and headed home. Mike and I agreed that he would pick me up around 7 in order to grab some beer at our favorite look-the-other-way convenience store and hit a couple of standard rendezvous spots to look for other like-minded, bored teens before heading to the big kegger to meet the ladies.

With the radio blaring louder than an air raid siren, we headed down Northpark Drive on our way home. As Mike turned off into my neighborhood he goosed the accelerator and quickly rounded the corner. To our shock, he almost rear ended a car and had to stand on the brakes to avoid it. As the screeching of the tires stopped, we both collected ourselves from the forward jolt and looked out the windshield.

Insert blue and red lights.

As we sat there with our jaws on the dashboard, the car door opened and—you guessed it—Officer J.R. Sharman emerged from his shiny police cruiser, clipboard in hand, glaring at us from behind his mirrored sunglasses.

“Mr. H----, it appears you’re having an exceptional day today. How was your workout?”

Ignoring the pleasantries, Mike handed him his driver’s license and insurance card as if on cue and I sat there next to him trying poorly to stifle my laughter. Seeing this, Officer Sharman stopped mid sentence and walked across the front of the car and over to my window. I let him stand there staring into the illegal tint for a bit before rolling down the window with the hand crank on the door as slowly as I could stand to do it.

I slowly turned my head to meet my double reflection in his sunglasses as a drop of sweat rolled gently down the side of his neck. “I don’t know what in the hell you’re laughing at, son. You’re just as guilty as he is.”

I wanted to point out that we were in Texas and not London and, therefore, I did not have a steering wheel and an accelerator within my control. Ergo, I was, in fact, not as guilty as Mike—allegedly. However, I thought the better of it and simply returned my gaze to the front windshield. As Officer Sharman walked away I began to roll up the window. Before I could get the window closed, Mike let out a chuckle and said, “What a dick,” loud enough for Officer Sharman to hear it. He stopped, turned around and approached my window again.

“What the hell did you say, Mr. H---?” Silence. “What in the hell did you say?”

Although I was just a mere 16, I still possessed an innate ability to think on my feet. I spoke for Mike who was dumbfounded. “Mike was just telling me that he doesn’t believe these charges will stick,” I said with a straight face. Choosing to pick his battles, Officer Sharman walked away angrily shaking his head in order to write Mike a ticket for failing to do something and an improper application of something else--allegedly. After another—more spirited this time—lecture on obeying the law, we were on our way down the road.

I got home, ate, relaxed, did my share of the edging and weed eating in the yard, and showered and musked up in anticipation of my impending trip to the party down the street. My scent of choice back in the day, for the ladies (and Derek and the boys in South Beach) who are interested—and I know you’re interested—was Drakkar Noir. I found it masculine and enchanting yet not overbearing. It was the cherry on top of my well-tanned, six-packed, chest-shoulder-tricep pumped, athletic, teenaged body and I applied it liberally like an elephant bathing itself in an African watering hole with its trunk.

Incidentally, I was walking through a Big Lots recently and they had a bottle of that stuff for like $2.50 American and I opened it to take a whiff. I have no idea what the developmental curve of teenaged smell glands is, but mine were clearly underdeveloped. It smelled like jet fuel. Annnyyhooo . . .

With one warning and one ticket under his belt, Mike arrived equally musked and pumped promptly at 7 and off we went to get some beer. Careful to pay homage to silly things like speed limit and stop signs, we made our way to the county line slower than we liked but were happy to avoid our good buddy Officer Sharman.

It was 7:15 now, we reasoned. We pictured him at home in his sloppily kept one bedroom apartment sitting there on an old sofa with a weight bench as a coffee table surrounded by old issues of Soldier of Fortune and Hustler magazine amidst empty pizza boxes and fast food containers cleaning his gun as he talked to it while recounting his twice in a day bust of two young scofflaws who would have otherwise continued to intrude upon the quiet seclusion of the honest, taxpaying, citizenry of “his” sleepy little town. What a dick.

Mike and I had a couple of beers on the tailgate before making our way to the party around 9pm. Like all good keg parties, it was filled with a cross-section of the usual faces we’d see roaming the halls of our high school. We found the owner of the house, paid our $3 all you can drink cover charge, grabbed a plastic cup, and went out back to find the keg. On our way back, I heard my name and turned to see the two girls we’d run into at the health club. They were—as is always the case with women—in a pack with three other girls who we also knew. Game on.

After drinking and socializing a bit, Mike and I began to get bored. Mike let one of the girls know that we were going to take off and suggested they come with us. After all, we had some booze in the truck and some stories to tell about evading the law that were guaranteed to impress them. They agreed and we walked to their car so they could pick up the standard party pack for teenage girls: wine coolers and menthol cigarettes.

For the record, smoking is my number one deal breaker—followed closely by certifiably crazy. However, in high school Mike and I used to have a saying about teenage girls’ use of tobacco products. “If they smoke, they poke.” These girls smoked.

Mike and two of the girls got in the cab and the other three got in the bed with me. “Where are we going?” one of them asked. It was then that I had a brilliant idea. I suggested we take a drive to the local community pool that was located in the epicenter of the neighborhood we were in. The community pool is where I swam as a child. I spent many hours during the summer there. Mike and I lived on opposite sides of the pool which was centrally located about 30 yards off the side roads in the woods. There were bike trails, playground equipment, and benches in the woods around it. Plus, it was dark which gave us the cover we needed from the Five-O and provided some ambiance—you know, just in case. Everyone agreed and Mike drove the mile down the street into the parking lot.

We stopped, unloaded the beer, wine coolers, and cigarettes and headed into the woods. The community pool was your standard public pool. It had 20 yards worth of swimming lanes, a deep end with a couple of diving boards, life guard stands on either side, and plastic yellow and green patio furniture strewn about. The entire thing was surrounded by an overly optimistic 6 foot wooden fence. Mike and I made quick work of the fence as I hopped over and he assisted all five girls over it with me helping them down the other side. The pool was dark and still and the only light available was the faint, florescent glow of a mosquito-ridden halogen lamp mounted on the back side of a nearby tree. It was perfect for a makin’ out. I digress.

We quickly walked to the far end of the pool away from the halogen lamp and put the booze on a table and pulled up some chairs. We chatted and drank as some of the girls smoked. We laughed, talked about college, the party, and all of the things teenagers worry about. Mike and I had fun teaming up in order to tell our Officer Sharman stories. Of course, we exaggerated in the name of impressing the ladies.

At some point, two of the girls retreated to the bathroom together and emerged giggling about 5 minutes later as they dropped their clothes on a nearby chair and quickly jumped into the pool. Laughing, Mike and I quickly stripped down to our boxers and jumped into the deep end with beers in hand.

For me, this is one of those quintessential moments of my youth. I was young, in incredible shape, smart, safe, tan, and surrounded by 6 people who to this day are still the best of friends. It’s a shame that it took me years to recognize that. If I had I known what I a perfect moment I had on that night, I would have begged God that it would never end.

Mike and I ended up down at the opposite end of the pool where the girls sat on the pool stairs with their bodies carefully below the water and we leaned back against the side trying to act like we weren’t peeking. Mike asked the other girls to bring the remainder of the 12 pack of beer to him and all three got up and brought it over. Laughing, they told us that they were going to walk back to the party. Much to our delight, the two remaining—and naked—girls opted to stick around after we promised to take them home. Mike and I jumped out of the water in our boxers and we said goodbye before hoisting them over the fence.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

As we watched the shadows of our friends make their way through the woods one of the girls began swimming to the other end of the pool. She motioned for me to join her and I did, leaving Mike and the other girl alone. Now I know what you’re all thinking, but let me clarify some things. The two girls we were with were in my class—a year below Mike. To this day, they are two of my dearest friends and aside from a stolen kiss nothing ever happened with the one in the pool. I talked to her recently and we actually discussed this story fondly. She was a close friend and—as you’ll soon see—was trying to do her friend a favor.

As she and I frolicked in the deep end she told me that her friend had the idea of going skinny dipping because she was interested in Mike. Their plan was masterfully executed and, although it was dark, I could see that Mike took the hint well.

About 10 minutes into Operation Make Out with Mike, we were startled to see a pair of headlights pull into the parking lot and park next to Mike’s car. My girl opined that it was probably the three girls who left returning to hang out or return her purse. Being on the opposite side of the pool, I could not make out if that was the case.

As I was squinting to make out the details, I heard Mike exclaim, “Sh*t run!” Without time to ask questions I sprung into action. Mike and I jumped out of the pool and I ran to retrieve the 12 pack of beer along with the girls' clothes. Visions of watching my mother faint after she’d been told that I had been caught drinking and cavorting with naked girls after trespassing in the community pool raced through my mind and pushed me to act as quickly as I could possibly move.

As they threw on their shirts and shorts, we told them to walk back to the party and we’d meet them on the way to take them home. We helped them over the fence, threw the beer into their hands and turned to retrieve our clothes.

When Mike and I turned around we saw the light of a flashlight mere yards from the fence—and the chair that contained our clothes and the keys to the truck. Refusing to accept defeat, Mike and I carefully and silently got back into the pool like some scene from Deer Hunter and prayed that after a cursory inspection, the flashlight would turn around.

With my head barely out of the deep end water I heard some rustling and saw the jiggling of the flashlight as its owner hopped the fence into the pool area. “Alright, I know you’re in here. Come out now,” I heard as Mike and I struggled to keep our hearts from beating out of our chests.

As our eyes fought to focus in the dark, I could make out a shadowy figure behind the flashlight and as soon as I heard the next sentence, I knew our goose was, in a word, cooked.

“Mr. H---, I know that’s your truck out there. Three times in one day. Now come out of the water.”

Mike and I simultaneously popped our heads over the deep end ledge and revealed ourselves. Standing there just feet from the edge of the pool directly in my line of sight were the unmistakable shiny black combat boots of Officer J.R. Sharman. What a dick.

Mike and I exchanged a glance as if we were seeking the other’s consent to surrender. Realizing it was hopeless, we exited the pool as Officer Sharman inspected the premises for other people.

“Who else is here?” he asked, indignant and confused.

Nervous, wet, and caught off guard, we answered in unison, “just us” without thinking. Officer Sharman walked over to the table where we had put the beer and cigarettes and as his light hit it I realized that while I had thrown the beer to the girls because it was on our side of the pool, I had not gathered the wine coolers and menthol cigarettes.

His light panned over to our clothes and then quickly back on us as he walked toward us. As his light hit me, I stood there in a pair of thin, yellow boxer shorts dripping wet looking like some guilty Greek statue of an unlawful trespasser—allegedly. All I needed was a discus to complete the picture.

Without saying a word, Officer Sharman moved his light to highlight Mike. As I looked over I made eye contact with Mike and as my eyes panned down I noticed for the first time that Mike had previously removed his boxers during his little make out session. Mike also looked like a Greek statue except instead of a discus, Mike was sporting a javelin.

Granted, 16-18 year old boys walk around in a perpetual state of arousal. The bad news is that your every thought as a teenage boy focuses on that particular area of your anatomy. The good news is that you always have a place to hang your towel after you shower.

Officer Sharman took a moment to gather himself as he slowly moved his light from Mike, then to me, then to the wine coolers, then to the menthol cigarettes, and eventually back to us.

“What the. . .? I mean . . . I. . . You two are here ALONE?” Confused and flabbergasted I actually noticed him subtley reach for his shoulder radio and for a moment feared that he was calling for back up. He didn’t.

Realizing we had no choice but to stick to our story, Mike and I again answered reluctantly in unison, “yes,” as visions of my father fainting now inhabited my head.

“What in the world?” As he asked this, his light panned down Mike’s torso and we both noticed that Mike’s “javelin” now looked more the hour hand on a watch somewhere between 3 and 4 o’clock.

“For crying out loud, would you cover yourself!” he exclaimed as he actually turned off his flashlight and turned his back on us. “Clean up the bottles, get dressed, and meet me at my car,” he managed as he quickly made a hasty jump over the pool fence.

Stunned, Mike and I took our first breath in minutes and quickly tried to pull denim jeans over wet skin not knowing what was in store for us once we reached the truck. We deposited “our” wine coolers and cigarettes into the trash can along with our wet boxers and hopped the fence before making our way down to the parking lot in dreadful anticipation of our fate.

After inspecting the truck, Officer Sharman asked how close I lived from the pool. “We both live about half a mile from here,” I said sensing that he was more embarrassed than he was angry.

“Look, I don’t know what in the hell was going on in there. I don’t want to know. I know you’ve been drinking and you, Mr. DP, are not supposed to have tobacco because you’re under 18. I’m going to treat this like I never saw anything. You’re both going to walk home and Mr. H.--- you can come and get your truck tomorrow. If I EVER see either one of you so much as sneeze the wrong way again, we’re going to have a problem. Is that alright with you gentlemen?”

Again in unison, Mike and I answered. However, this time we looked police Officer J.R. Sharman squarely in the face and said, “Yes, Sir.”

As I walked home that night and processed everything it hit me that Officer Sharman now considered us to be the town’s only homosexual teenagers with a propensity for sport sex in public places. I laughed to myself until the wee hours of the morning as I stared at the ceiling fan in my room and pictured Officer Sharman shaking his head in angry disbelief as he sat at home in his sloppily kept one bedroom apartment on an old sofa with a weight bench as a coffee table surrounded by old issues of Soldier of Fortune and Hustler magazine amidst empty pizza boxes and fast food containers cleaning his gun as he recounted his run in with homosexual trespassers at the local pool.

I awoke the next morning to the sound of my mother’s voice outside my door. “Pick up the phone,” she said. I rolled out of bed, walked over to the phone on my desk and picked up.


“Hey, it’s Mike. Want to go work out?”

“Yea, come get me at 11.”

Well, there you have it. My big sex scandal. Mike, I know that no one is laughing harder at this than you are. I’m certain Officer Sharman is still scarred by what he thought he stumbled upon that night. It’s good to have you back in my life. Oh, and by the way, if we were gay, I’d totally be the top guy. I’m just sayin’.

Until next week, if you need me, I’ll be sipping a wine cooler in a public pool. DP

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Off Season Post 2: Relationship Advice 101

Hello, Die Hard Readers, and welcome to the second installment of my off-season posts. As we enter this week, it’s clear that the Bachelor publicity machine is in full swing. Brad is still touring the country denying the rumors of his break up with Emily. I suspect that, like me, you’re all sick of hearing about it by now. Like you, I wish them the best, but expect the worst . . . or is it the other way around? Regardless, you’re stuck with me on another Tuesday. It’s time to strategically move your computer screens so the nosey people walking by your office or cubicle can’t see that you’re wasting valuable company time reading this. Have fun stifling chuckles into your coffee mugs for the next 20 minutes.

As is my custom, I asked all of you to send in questions or suggestions for off-season blog posts over the past couple of weeks. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to email or write. While I received many suggestions, the ones that were most prevalent sought general relationship advice. Look, I’m not Dr. Phil and I’m certainly not that latently gay guy who wrote that Men are from Mars and Women Never Think about Your Penis book, but I’ll give it a shot.

Experience has taught me a lot in relationships and I also have the requisite chromosomes to answer from a male perspective. That’s the extent of my “wisdom.” I’ll disclaim the following advice by saying that if you don’t agree with it, that’s fine. It has no basis in medical fact, research, or theory. It’s just my opinion. With that said, let’s get to it.

My guy is acting distant. What are signs that he might be ready to end the relationship?

I suppose we need to define the word “distant” in order to adequately answer this inquiry. If by “distant” you mean that he stays out until 4am and comes home covered in jasmine scented glitter wreaking of bourbon with the phone number of someone named “Strawberry” written on a matchbook then he’s already checked out. If you’ve been putting up with that for any amount of time, then it’s time for you to check out. However, if by “distant” you mean that he’s uninvolved in your life, not present when he’s with you, and indifferent about the bedroom, then there are a couple of possibilities.

First, figure out what’s going on in his life. Work, school, kids, and life in general can weigh on a person and men—especially the type that have a difficult time expressing feelings in the first place—will often retreat into a sort of protective cocoon in times of emotional crisis. When that happens, it is incredibly difficult to squeeze anything other than a grunt or a nod out of him. Start talking about your best friend’s wedding shower or the wonderful color ideas for the guest bathroom that you’d like to run by him and you’re bound to be disappointed with his less-than-enthusiastic response. Even on your best day, would you want to discuss the benefits of the Cover Two Defense? I doubt it.

Contrary to popular belief, men are not unemotional people. However, men often don’t see the benefit of sharing difficult emotions or making themselves vulnerable—especially to someone they feel either looks to them for support or might potentially judge them. Like an abused puppy, men often need to be coaxed out of the corner. Like that puppy, sometimes we have to be left alone in order to come out on our own volition. Pushing too hard only makes the puppy more afraid. Eventually, it makes the puppy very mad. Eventually, the puppy will call Strawberry.

For men, I suppose some of that is hard-wired. After all, you can’t leave the cave and go hunting for dinner if you’re super sensitive and emotionally vulnerable. Sabre-toothed tigers and Tyrannosauruses are not exactly good sounding boards and it’s difficult to think about feelings when you’re running naked across a field in search of a meal. The rest of the problem is cultural, I think.

Despite the fact that literally entire sections of large book stores are filled with the latest self-help work on how to succeed in any relationship, how to get the love you need, how to speak the correct love language, or how to get married in a year or less, the truth is still the truth.

What is that truth?

It’s like the old joke, “how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: “One, but the light bulb has to admit to itself that it wants to change.” The same is true with men. Women can follow “The Rules” or whatever the current state of manipulative female conventional wisdom may be; however, if a man does not want to “change” then you’re out of luck. There’s only one person to ever walk the face of the Earth who could change stuff into other stuff and He never got married. You might as well be trying to change a lump of coal into a diamond.

Notwithstanding the fact that I know a few women who are so uptight that if you put that piece of coal up a certain orifice you would indeed have a diamond inside of a week, the point is that if a man is removed, there is nothing you can do to unremove him. He has to want to reengage. Trying to change that only pushes him further into said cocoon. Ergo, the famous, “I need space” and “it’s not you, it’s me” discussion. It’s like Lenny in Of Mice and Men squeezing the bunny he loved so hard he killed it. A lot of women squeeze the bunny. Instead of dying, the bunny calls Strawberry. Push too hard and you’ll drive him away.

If you’re feeling neglected or uneasy in a relationship, try talking to him about the way YOU actually feel and not the way you think HE should feel. Pick a non-threatening time. Note: this weekend during the Final Four is NOT a non-threatening time. I don’t care if he didn’t attend Virginia Commonwealth and has no idea where Butler University is located. It’s not a good time. That’s like me calling you and wanting to discuss the finer points of the WWE Monday Night Smackdown during Oprah’s final episode.

Do whatever you have to do to communicate EXACTLY what you need in order to feel secure and loved in the relationship. Make notes, write a letter, rehearse a speech, etc. Men are terrible guessers. Be specific without being unreasonable. Some men hate to hold hands. Some men are not huggers. If either is the case, for example, then you have to be willing to weigh the sum of the parts and see if you’re willing to accept that about him. If you don’t ask, he won’t know it’s an issue. You can’t have every single thing you want in a relationship. No one can. However, know your deal breakers and if he’s teetering on one of them, tell him.

Then what? You see how he responds. By telling him how you interpret his actions and what emotions those actions invoke in you, you move away from an offensive stance while at the same time asking him to take responsibility for those actions. Subtlety is an art and the content of the message it’s just as important how that message is delivered. Men don’t like to feel challenged or attacked. Getting confrontational creates, well, conflict. Approaching him in a genuine, sincere matter is the way to be heard.

Additionally, men and women don’t interpret emotions the same way. Example: I had a woman tell me once that I was yelling during a disagreement (not an argument) and that she felt intimidated because of it. Surprised, I paid attention the next time we argued and I realized that my voice became much louder when I was trying to communicate to her. I had no idea that sounded or was interpreted as “yelling.”

Any good man will validate your feelings and, if he’s serious about you, he’ll reevaluate his behavior. The ones who won’t are either too dense to get it or simply not worth keeping around. You can’t “force” a man to feel a certain way. Stop trying. It’s literally like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic or trying to ignore Justin Bieber. Also, if you’re going to insist that your man listen, evaluate, and adjust, then be prepared to do exactly the same thing. Relationships, after all, are two way streets.

Final word of wisdom on this. If he responds and you don’t get the answer you are looking for then you have to have the courage to walk away from the relationship. Depending upon the nature of the relationship (newly dating, long term, married) you should give him a reasonable amount of time to reengage or to “change” what’s bothering you. What’s reasonable depends on the relationship.

Once that time is exhausted, you have to have the courage to walk away or you risk repeating the cycle and becoming more miserable each time it repeats. This, I think, is the lynch pin of every major relationship problem. Being stuck in this cycle leads to misplaced anger, resentment, infidelity, and a whole other host of problems. The problem with repressed emotions is that they eventually explode. If it isn’t working and you’re not getting what you need, communicate, give it some time, and if it doesn’t work, get out. Period. There’s nothing to prevent a reconciliation, but beating a dead horse is like beating a dead horse. The cure for the fear of being alone is often being alone. It’s not the worst thing in the world; it’s temporary; and it’s a hell of a lot better than wallowing in the quicksand of an unhealthy relationship.

Guys are always interested in my girlfriends. What can I do to get the attention?

Get some uglier friends. Alright, that was a joke. Women are like coyotes. They travel in packs . . . appropriately accessorized packs. There’s no getting around that. In the pack, there’s always one attention seeker and sometimes there’s an Emily in the bunch too. It’s difficult to stand out with an Emily in the bunch and quieter, more reserved girls often get shoved out of the way by attention seekers. The really pretty girls often get more attention. The same is true in groups of men; although women tend to migrate away from appearance more quickly than men do. Of course, I’m not suggesting that the person who sent this is not lovely. What I’m saying is that men are drawn to appearance first and personality later. The squeaky girl usually gets the grease.

A man would carry around a rock forever if he became infatuated with it. A woman would throw the same rock in the trash can if it didn’t make her laugh. Sure, she might let that rock pick her up in his sports car, buy her a few dinners, and take her dancing a few times, but if the rock doesn’t get it done between the ears there’s no way that rock is getting her between the sheets, unless of course she’s an unapologetic tramp. That’s just the way it is.

Rejection in any form is frustrating, if not difficult to take. I had a college roommate that refused to introduce me to girls he met for fear of them being interested in me over him. I always found that a little extreme, but the point is that if you really want the attention then you might have to go it alone with a guy. Incidentally, it’s better to know up front if a guy is interested in your friend rather than dating him for a while and finding out he’s been texting her in the middle of the night. Be thankful for that. Oh, and if you have a friend that makes it a habit to compete for guys she knows you’re interested in, then she’s not really a friend, is she?

Is there ever a time when honesty is not the best policy?

Frankly, yes. I can think of a lot of times. Let me first say what I don’t mean so I’m not mistaken for endorsing dishonesty. Without disinterring the gruesome details of my own past, I can represent to you that I’ve learned this lesson—the hard way--from both sides of the coin. Deliberate lying or lying by omission is never an acceptable way to exist in a relationship. It is a horrible, stressful way to live. Eventually, all lines become blurred and what was once an honest, open existence becomes a daily effort to juggle each lie. Every lie begets another lie and eventually, all the balls can not be kept in the air.

Every lie will eventually see the light of day and big lies have far more ramifications than simply upsetting the balance in a relationship, particularly when the relationship is one that is supported by family, friends, and even children.

Let’s face it, though. Every person toes the line in a relationship from time to time and sometimes there is someone behind that person who pushes that person over it. There are also uncontrollable circumstances that occur in the context of a relationship that will cause great damage if shared. Mistakes are made—big and small—and generally, honesty is the best policy. However, there are things that are better left unsaid for the sake of a healthy relationship. Allow me to elaborate.

Example: Woman goes to lunch at a local café and strikes up a flirtatious conversation with the man in front of her in line. Man in line likes her and they flirt for the five minutes in line, eat lunch together, and eventually part ways, but man leaves his business card with her. After a bad day in her current relationship she calls him a few days later, but discards the card and any desire to talk to him again. Improper behavior if she’s in a relationship? Probably. It’s not a deal breaker, but certainly not appropriate. That’s a little more than looking at the groceries on the shelf but a lot less than paying for them and taking them home and sleeping with them.

My belief is that telling her significant other about this in the name of “honesty” is likely to create more trouble than it’s worth. No harm, no foul. Let sleeping dogs lie or whatever cliché applies here. Volunteering this sort of information is neither necessary nor healthy.

More controversial example: Husband and wife go through a terrible, trying time in their marriage. They spend a lot of time apart and become distant for months. Wife meets stranger on an airplane, things progress, and she has an affair. She boards the plane home and in light of the affair decides to sincerely rededicate herself to her marriage as she’s seen what she could lose if she doesn’t. The affair and all contact with the other person ends. Husband wants to reconcile unconditionally as well.

IF, and I mean IF, the affair is truly and completely over AND the wife’s intentions are true, then I believe revealing the affair is the wrong thing to do. The only purpose that revelation accomplishes is to unburden her of the guilt of the affair and place it squarely upon the shoulders of the husband. The pain and betrayal that he then has to bear will literally define his life and marriage indefinitely.

A mistake that big is difficult to process and live with, but placing the burden of that mistake upon the husband is just as selfish as having the affair in the first place. For anyone who has ever been betrayed in this way, you know how painful it is. Knowing is not constructive in this scenario. Bearing the burden and responsibility of the affair in this instance is something better done by the person who had it.

Incidentally, I don’t believe that infidelity in this scenario is grounds for dissolving a marriage. Cheating is a horrible thing but taking that “till death do us part” and the “for better or worse” thing seriously means that you’re in 100%--in theory anyway. Trust can be earned back and people can atone for big mistakes in the context of a marriage, but forgiveness—real forgiveness—from the other party is eventually necessary. Making her pay for that mistake indefinitely will never work. It has to be let go over time. Those things may take years of work to happen and it takes a dedication that most people, frankly, do not possess in a marriage these days. If two people truly love one another, then a relationship can overcome just about anything. See my two way street comment above.

Now that you’re all disgusted with me, let me say this. Serial infidelity or serial lying is never acceptable. If one party is not on equal footing with the other party, then the relationship won’t work. A person who cheats and wants to reconcile should expect to agree to a big loss of freedom in order to earn forgiveness. A cheater should expect to eat crow for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for quite a while. That person must unconditionally accept the consequences of the infidelity and it is that person’s burden to make things right again. I’ve seen couples go through this and emerge on the other side of it in a much better place. I’ve also seen couples go through it and hate each other. Incidentally, while I know more men who have cheated, I also know plenty of women who have done it as well. Perhaps a “why men cheat” post is in order?

The short answer to the question is that absolute and unfettered honesty in any relationship, friendship, employment scenario, or whatever is not ALWAYS the best policy. With that said, admitting a mistake in an immediate fashion and owning the consequences is also essential to gaining the respect and trust of your partner.

Like Watergate or cruising for gay sex in a Minneapolis airport restroom, it’s not the act that gets a person in trouble, it’s the cover up. Honesty is overwhelmingly the best policy. It is incumbent upon any person in a relationship to be truthful; however, it is not necessary to share every detail of every experience. After all, as my father used to tell me, “if you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about changing your story.”

If you had to narrow it down to one trait, what is a guy looking for when it comes to dating?

Is a pair of boobs one trait? Alright, that’s a joke too. One trait is hard to pick. Obviously, every man is different. However, here are some global thoughts.

First date? Appreciate the effort a man puts into planning a first date and keep in mind he doesn’t know you yet. I, for one, put some thought into a first date. I try to keep it simple and flexible. Expectations run high, I think, on the ladies’ side of the first date equation and small disappointments can submarine a potential relationship.

Women call their girlfriends or text them from the bathroom when a date is going poorly. That’s not fair to the guy picking up the bill and sitting alone at the table waiting on you to return. A bad date is a bad date but have the consideration to see it through. Knocking off points because the guy missed the mark by taking the initiative to plan a date he thought you’d enjoy is like telling your 6 year old that the pony he colored for you is not very neat.

Want to guarantee a good date? Make suggestions before the date and tell him what you like to do. See if he pays attention but don’t be bummed out if you don’t get your way. Relax. Communicate. A man wants to feel like he’s, well, The Man on a date. The good ones put forth the effort to make sure you have a good time. However, even a good man will miss the mark sometimes.

Example: planning a nice dinner at a newly opened seafood restaurant as a surprise but not realizing you’re allergic to seafood. If that happened to me and a woman gave me “you should have asked me” speech, I’d never ask her out again. Recognize the effort and politely tell him you’d love to have a drink and see the menu. If they don’t offer something that won’t make you’re face puff up like Jerry Lewis on Prednisone, then suggest a different venue. We can’t read minds and a first date is a lot to plan on our own. It also tends to be expensive.

The “trait” I look for in any relationship in my life is an appreciation of who I am and a mutual respect. Even if a woman is not “into” me, if she shows me the same respect that she would expect in turn, then I’m alright with that. That respect is the proper groundwork for building any relationship. The Golden Rule comes to mind here as well. Incidentally, I can’t imagine a woman not being into me, but that’s an entirely different post.

My boyfriend is a bad kisser. What do I do?

Get a new boyfriend. Another poor attempt at humor.

If your boyfriend is a bad anything, here’s a way to solve the problem. Communicate your feelings in a respectful way and realize that you can make some changes too. Kissing is like ordering a sandwich at Subway. If you don’t specifically tell the “Sandwich Artist” what you want on it, it stalls the whole process and you’ll wind up settling for something you don’t want. Sure, it might fill you up, but it won’t be satisfying.

By the way, why is the guy that puts on the plastic gloves and drags my sandwich across that dirty, white cutting board an “artist?” I think Leonardo or Cezanne might feel differently. Annyyyhoooo. . . .

This formula also goes for other “activities” he might be less than adept at performing. Remember, it’s not about “right” or “wrong” as much as it’s about compatibility. One woman’s bore is another woman’s Lothario. Just because he’s not doing what you want doesn’t mean he’s not doing it “right.” Work together and find what works for both of you. That means setting an ego aside and making yourself vulnerable. That’s not easy to do all the time, but the payoff is huge. After all, relationships are tit for tat. There’s nothing more frustrating for a guy than doing a lot of tatting and never seeing any tits.

Sometimes I make myself laugh. That last sentence was one of those times. Oh, and don’t expect him to do anything that you wouldn’t do in return. Two way street, remember? Incidentally, Subway’s new flat bread is delicious.

I want to impress my guy for his birthday by taking him out on a fabulous date that he will love. Any ideas?

I’ll keep my Hooters and nudie bar jokes to a minimum here. The short answer is ask him what he wants to do and then do it. Throw in a surprise and a unique gift and you have a good evening. Including his friends in part of the plan is always a good thing, but make some time for you to be alone. As far as I’m concerned, I’d prefer the alone time at the front of the date and then want to meet up with friends later, but do what you know your guy likes.

One of my best friends (the now infamous Lenny) once hired his fiance’s favorite singer to show up at a restaurant and play her three of her favorite songs. He’s still reaping the benefits of that little stunt. Get creative. Get inside his head. He’ll appreciate the effort. Oh, and La Perla teddies don’t hurt either.

I need new flirting techniques. What has worked on you?

I have an issue with the word “technique.” To me, that term implies a person who likes to play games. I have many faults, but I was given the gift of being able to read people and I realized that from a very young age. For me, sincerity and openness are the best qualities that a woman can possess when I first meet her. Pretension doesn’t work with me. I like simple, sincere, and sexy.

With that said, most men appreciate the break that comes from a woman confident enough to approach them rather than having to approach you. Many times a man chooses not to approach an attractive woman, not for fear of rejection, but for fear that he’ll look like a complete chach for doing it.

If you’re interested, offer to buy him a drink, compliment him on his whatever, or simply say “hello, I noticed you.” Sure, popping out of a cake with pasties on will get his attention, but if you want to make a lasting impression beyond that, take the time to focus on him. Oh, and smile a lot. That’s nice. Get back to me and let me know how that works.

Well, there you have it. Some words of wisdom straight out of DP’s Chicktionary. I hope that sheds some light on the male species. God knows we all could use a flashlight every now and then. For next week’s post I plan to share a few stories with you. However, if you have any feedback or suggestions, feel free to shoot me an email or post a comment on the site. Thanks again for taking the time to read what’s in my head.

Take care of yourselves and good luck with the opposite sex. In the meantime, if you need me I’ll be practicing my kissing. DP

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Off Season Post 1: DP Tells All Part 3

Hello, Readers. Welcome to the third installment of my rip off from our favorite on-hiatus show. I’ve diligently studied all of the questions I received over the past week or so via email, Facebook, and on the site and I’ve once again narrowed them down for your reading pleasure.

For those of you who are new to my off season, please allow me to disclaim this post as—in my opinion—the least funny of the off season. I try to answer the questions I get as best as I can. I sort of leave the clever funny stuff for later in the name of answering whatever is on your minds. In short, if this sucks, please don’t blow off the rest of the off season, as I’m certain I’ll find something to write about that will tickle your funny bone—or whatever bone you need tickled.

As always, I’ve narrowed down the questions into some global categories and if your question didn’t make the cut, I’m certain the information you were seeking did. Read on. With that said, let’s get to it.

What are you really like? Is the whole SGIA thing an act?

Wow. I suppose this is a fair question considering that y’all sit down once a week and devote a portion of your day to reading my random thoughts on a reality show that, in the grand scheme of things, makes about as much difference as lying on the beach and wishing the waves would stop.

The short answer is “I don’t know.” I’ve been told that I’m fun, easy to talk to, easy on the eyes, and level headed. I think all of those things are true for most people that know me; however, I do have to confess that I have a bit of a dark side that only people who are close to me really get to experience.

No, I don’t have Womack-esque anger issues. Truth be told, I’m very slow to anger and I’ve been in relationships with volatile people who actually got madder at me because I would never lose my temper. It takes a lot to get me mad. The only person on the face of the earth who can instantly send me into an uncontrollable rage is—you guessed it—my twin brother. Of course, I’m discounting Justin Bieber. My brother knows exactly what buttons to push and how to push them. I suppose every person has someone like that in his life. I’ve had some bad stuff happen in my life that has brought me a great deal of perspective. I don’t sweat the petty things—although, I do on occasion pet the sweaty things. I saw that last line on a bumper sticker. It obviously stuck with me.

I can be moody at times. Cranky at others. I’m an introspective person so I routinely experience periods of significant self-doubt and an overwhelming realization that I’m nothing more than a failure at everything I’ve attempted in life. I’m certain the truth lies somewhere in between the “you’re so wonderful and funny” emails I get and the Dostoyevsky-ish self analysis I enter into every now and then. Still, it’s not always fun to be me.

My Some Guy in Austin persona is not an “act” in the sense that it’s a contrived character that I become once a week in order to comment on the Bachelor or various other things. People who know me and read the blog always say that it’s funnier to them because they know me. What you read is actually “me” and I’d find that impossible to fake. Of course I use hyperbole to make my points, but generally, what you read is what you’d hear if you were sitting next to me during the show or reading my thoughts.

Andy Gibb once said, “A lot of women run through my mind. They don’t dare walk.” Overall, I think I’m affable, approachable, and agreeable; however, I can be annoying, analytical, and angry. All in all, I think I’m worth the trouble. You’d have to ask the people in my life if that’s true, however.

Will you marry me?

Wow, that’s a big commitment to make on such short notice. That’s not a decision I’d jump into lightly. I’d have to really get to know you and what you’re about in order to make that decision. Marriage is a union that should be arrived at after much consideration and discussion. That decision alone with be responsible for nearly all of the joy and also the misery a person will encounter for the rest of his life.

I’ll tell you what: Please send me a copy of the most recent bank statement from your trust fund tucked inside your swimsuit calendar along with a picture and the address of the bar you own. I look forward to joining your family.

I’m from the East Coast and don’t get the small town thing. I’ve been to several cities in the South and I hate going. I’m open-minded but don’t get it. Can you tell me what you see in the South?

Wow. So many thoughts raced in my head when I received this email. Upon further clarification, the person who sent this is from Boston, Massachusetts. In order to answer this, I think it’s important to make a few clarifications for those of you not from the “South.”

I’ve traveled all over the U.S. and spent a lot of time in various sections of the country outside of the South. I had a giant commercial fraud case a few years ago and was paired with co-counsel from giant law firms in Chicago, D.C., and Philadelphia. We all became friendly considering the fact that we lived on airplanes and in hotels together for the better part of two years. Despite the fact that these guys literally never took off their suits, we did manage to get to know each other. They still made me put “Esquire” after their names.

It was always interesting to me to field “Texas” questions at the end of a long day when we were sitting in some hotel bar somewhere having a beer. In fact, it became sort of a rite of passage in every city we visited. Of course, I drank whatever substitute for my beloved Lone Star that the bartender could conjure up. They, of course, loosened their ties—not too much but just enough to give the impression of relaxation, unbuttoned their vests—just the bottom button because God knows a lawyer wouldn’t want to show his unvested midsection in public, and pretended to enjoy Heineken--the preferred beverage of all pseudo-important, non-Southern lawyers. Here’s what I learned.

Despite professing an open-mindedness and a tolerance for everyone and everything, some of the most close-minded, negative assertions I have ever heard uttered out of the human mouth have come from Ivy League educated lawyers from the East Coast. That’s not an indictment of the entire geography; rather, it’s an observation I gained over the course of hours upon hours spent in business and personal settings with some of the supposed brightest minds in my business. The bottom line is that people not from the South don’t understand the South.

Generally, I think people who are not from “The South” view people from there as misguided, semi-educated, tea drinking simpletons who are one step removed from incorrigible racism and harbor a constant desire for secession. Men sit around all day polishing firearms in hopes that the North will attack again while the women sew and watch Paula Deen on the Food Channel.

Ironically, there is sort of a reverse arrogance through which the South is viewed. Gun ownership, living off the land, chewing tobacco, going to rodeos, country music, driving a pick up truck, or professing “Southern Pride” is viewed flippantly and serves as a running joke for the more “sophisticated” palates of the North. For those who have never been there, the South is viewed as sort of a novelty; a joke. It’s viewed as a reactionary place filled with people so ignorant they believe in the Bible and vote Republican.

I suppose this is not a surprise considering the fact that every time the media interviews someone from the South, they pick some toothless meth addict from the hills to speak for the entire area. Roger Clinton didn’t help either. The Southern stereotype is a brutal one and it’s virtually impossible to overcome.

The same people who believe that the number of teeth in Mississippi is equal to the number of people there are the same people who believe that everyone in Texas wears a cowboy hat and boots and attends KKK meetings when he’s not persecuting homosexuals or eating biscuits. For the record, I do love biscuits but I’ve never persecuted a homosexual unless you count complaining to the guy who cuts my hair about my sideburns being uneven as “persecution.” For the record, I did tip him after he fixed the problem.

Of course, the movie industry doesn’t do much to help the South either. Mississippi Burning, Dead Man Walking, and A Time to Kill all feed off the racist stereotype of the white, angry Southerner and the only required reading in most public schools that I’m aware of that encompasses a Southern based book is To Kill a Mockingbird. Granted, Atticus Finch is a picture of an oak of a man, but the book still perpetuates the racist Southerner mentality. I was going to include Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn but I believe some school boards became “enlightened” this year and took care of those for us. “Thanks.”

With all of that said, Texas is not “the South.” Texas is more Southwestern in its culture, traditions, and heritage than it is Southern. Hell, Texas was its own country for years before it became part of the States. Texas is bigger than France.

I would define the “South” as North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arkansas. Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri take a lesser affiliation with “the South,” although they are grouped in globally most of the time.

Anyone who has been to Texas and Alabama, for instance, will recognize the difference in the two. I think the quintessential Southern cities are Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. When you begin to get as far West as Texas, the geography and culture take on more of a frontier feel, rather than that of the Deep South. Texas is more Arizona than it is Arkansas.

For me, Texas is home. It is the state where I grew up, was educated, and where I make my living. I love it here in Austin and share a pride in my city and my roots that is unexplainable to people who are not from here. Austin, Texas is a beautiful, peaceful place and the city is appreciated, nurtured, protected, and loved by the people that live here.

There is an energy and an identity that comes from living here that is unique and to experience it is to fall in love with it. It is a place where any man of any age knows to give up his chair when any woman of any age is left standing. It is a place where I can walk into any establishment I frequent and have the bartender greet me by name before reaching in the cooler and serving me a beer. Austin is a place where dozens of people show up on a Saturday morning to help clean up the hiking trails for free. It is a city where everyone feels lucky to live, including me. It is as much a part of me as one of my appendages . . . yes, even that appendage.

For fear of boring those of you who expect to be reading something funny now, I’ll simply suggest you come and visit my great city. For those of you who want an idea of “the South” take a drive down past the Mason-Dixon line and stop off in the Carolinas. Or, if you’d rather read about it, buy a book written by Tom Wolfe, Winston Groom, or Margaret Mitchell. For those of you who want a lighter read, buy a John Grisham book.

I’ll end with the suggestion that you read my favorite contemporary author, Pat Conroy. All of his books—The Prince of Tides, South of Broad, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Water is Wide—are beautifully written, often tragic stories that feature the South, specifically South Carolina, as a central character. He captures the generational flaws of the Southern personality while highlighting the simplicity and beauty of growing up a Southerner.

“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.”

“I am a patriot of a singular geography on the planet; I speak of my country religiously; I am proud of its landscape. I walk through the traffic of cities cautiously, always nimble and on the alert, because my heart belongs in the marshlands.” ---Pat Conroy

What do you look for in a woman?

See the marriage proposal above. Alright, I’m just kidding. After my last rant about the South, I suppose I should get real funny real quick.

“Simple” is the word that comes to mind when I think about what attracts me to a woman. Not “simple” like Forrest Gump simple, but simple like she has an appreciation for small details and takes great pleasure in the non-complicated side of life. Being driven, confident, focused, independent, and all of that stuff that is fed to women in self-help books and grocery counter magazines is good in theory, but being all of those things often disrupts the balance between a true partner and someone I have to compete with in the relationship. Being “too” anything is a turn off for me.

I think most men appreciate a woman who will pick up a tab every now and then. It’s a nice gesture when a woman offers to pay; however, I never expect that to happen. It’s also nice when a woman appreciates having her chair pulled out for her, recognizes when I insist that she order first at the restaurant, or thanks me for opening her car door—not all the time, but once in a while. I’m not running around in tights and a poet shirt, but I take my roll as a man seriously. It’s nice to have that appreciated.

Beyond that, I look for someone who laughs at my jokes. That’s important too.

If Lone Star went out of business what would be your beverage of choice?

After I finished hyperventilating at the thought of the doors of the Lone Star Brewery being forever closed, I sat down to answer this question. Surprisingly, Lone Star is difficult to get outside of Austin, Houston, and Fort Worth. There are a couple of musicians that I follow on a regular basis who are sponsored by Lone Star and actually bring a few cases with them to certain gigs because the bars don’t carry it.

When faced with a choice other than Lone Star I can go several ways. I’ll drink Coors Light, Miller High Life, Pabst Blue Ribbon, or Guinness. I prefer a bottle over a can or a glass. I stopped drinking hard liquor years ago, but I will have the occasional whiskey chaser or whiskey and water at the appropriate venue and depending on how bad my day was. Also, I’m a big fan of Pinot Noir and Chianti and do enjoy my wine, again at the appropriate venue. I’m also regrettably addicted to Diet Coke.

In light of the revelations about Emily and Brad, has your opinion of either of them changed?

No, not really. Truth be told, I think it makes sense that Brad has a problem controlling his temper. He’s a 38 year old single guy with daddy issues. It’s not surprising that he’s internalized some of that pain. It’s probably a huge reason he’s been single so long.

I always laugh at the first few episodes of any Bachelor season when they highlight the star of the show. That person is always portrayed as a perfect specimen of his respective gender who miraculously cannot find the ying to his yang despite being so perfect. The sound bites they pick from the approaching women reinforce the illusion of perfection in that person. I suppose that’s necessary to woo the television audience into the fairytale theme, and I think we all buy into it mindlessly.

However, when the lights dim, the plane leaves the tropical location, and real life begins again, we see that the Bachelor is just like any one of us. He’s a human being with flaws and perhaps those flaws have kept him single past his twenties. I think the same is true with the women. There was a concerted effort this season to build Emily up as a perfect woman. Hell, I’m just as guilty of it as anyone over at ABC. However, we now see her as vulnerable and unsure in her relationship. I don’t think that makes her or Brad a worse person. I think it makes them real. At least neither one of them is perpetuating the false image by parlaying it into a stint on Dancing with the Stars.

Have you ever memorized something (speech, literature, poem, Scripture) just because you wanted to know it by heart?

Yes, as a matter of fact I have. This is the first thing that came to mind when I read this question.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent
The smiles that win, the tints that glow
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below
A heart whose love is innocent! ---Lord Byron

I also thought of this:
“Look, I'm a shit, but I'm not that big a shit. I have to tell you something. Remember when you came home from riding on the bull that first time and the trailer was all clean and flowers around? I didn't do that. Sissy did it. She was there. She left you a note asking you to phone her. I tore it up, ‘cause I was sorta jealous. I wanted to keep my cowboy. You don't love me Bud, and I don't really love you; not like that. So you shouldn't let her get away. But I tell you what, if you ever wanna make her jealous, you know where I am.” ----Pam from Urban Cowboy

“Sissy, I’m prideful . . .and hard headed . . .but I want to apologize clear back to the first time I hit you. I love you, Sissy.” ---Bud Davis from Urban Cowboy

. . . aaaaand this:

“True love is hard to find. Sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a God damned magic show ready to double team your girlfriend. . .” ---Mitch Martin from Old School

I am literally an encyclopedia of quotes. I love words and have a knack for remembering them. I know song lyrics, movie lines, and literature quotes. I don’t know why but they’ve always stuck in my brain. Thanks for asking that question.

Are you more attracted to smart or funny?

This is a tougher one than I imagined. Smart is always good. It’s nice to have good conversation over a broad range of topics instead of sticking to “guess what I found at the mall today” or “who do you think Brad will pick on the Bachelor finale.” Yes, I appreciate the irony.

Funny is easy to be around and there is no better feeling than sharing a hearty, guttural laugh with a person you love. I’m tempted to cop out and say that I look for a balance between the two; however, I think I prefer smarter over funnier. I will not be with someone who is humorless but it’s almost impossible for me to enjoy myself around someone who walks through life in a haze of confusion.

Smart wins, but funny has to be there.

True or false? The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

False. If you’re at the stomach, look a little lower.

Alright, that’s not entirely true. I, for one, love to cook and I love to be cooked for. It’s nice to have a woman in my life who knows how to cook something other than spaghetti. I love to share a meal with someone I love and I appreciate it when the food in front of me was made with me in mind. That’s nice. It’s like wearing a scarf your grandmother knitted for you. It might be made of the same stuff as the one in the store, but somehow it feels warmer.

On that same note, I find it incredibly unattractive when a woman has no idea how to cook anything. That’s not because I’m some sexist, a-hole who believes women belong in the kitchen, but because I learned how to cook, clean, do laundry, iron, etc. all by my little old self. It amazes me that any person who wakes up, dresses, and does anything would be crippled to the point of starvation if Wendy’s suddenly closed. I think we’d all agree that food is a big part of life. If you’ve gone through life as an adult without learning to prepare any of it, I tend to wonder what else you’ve missed.

How do you know when a guy is in to you?

Boy oh boy, the potential this question has for an inappropriate response is almost too much to ignore. Proving I’ve matured as time has gone by, I’ll skip the inappropriate play on the definition of “in to you” and move toward a serious answer. I’d like all of you to pause for a second and appreciate my self control.

I think women (again, generally speaking) make the biggest mistakes of their romantic lives when they attempt to answer this question amongst themselves. If this question is ever posed, a reliable straight man should always be consulted to confirm the results. Think of it like the accounting/consulting firm of Coopers and Lybrand when they are called to certify the Miss America votes. It’s an extra, but necessary step.

So, why do women mess this one up? Simple. They overanalyze everything and, frankly, give men more credit than we deserve. What? You want an example. Fine.

Example: Man and Woman go on a date and Man does not call, text, or email the next day.

Woman thinks Man thinks: He’s going to play it cool and not call me. Perhaps he doesn’t like me but he might be busy and I don’t want to bother him so I won’t call, text, or email even though I want to call, text, and email all at the same time in order to figure out if there is a reason he hasn’t called, texted, or emailed after the wonderful date we had last night. I’ll wait a few days and see if he calls.

Answer: A man who doesn’t call, text, or email the day after a “fabulous” date is NOT into you. Period. Unless he calls a week later and says that he suffered a horrible tragedy of Hiroshima-like proportions, he’s simply not into you. A man who does call, text, or email the day after a “fabulous” date is interested in seeing you again. Period.

Men are simple. It’s like when some “artist” puts a vacuum in the art gallery and dozens of pretentious people in dark-rimmed glasses attend the show in order to stare at it for hours an comment on the statement it makes. Much of what is discussed is merely an invention of the people looking at it. At the end of the day, it’s just a vacuum in a glass case. Nothing more. Nothing less. A non-call is a non-call. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Solution: Call, email, or text the guy and simply ask him if he’s interested. Any honest guy will give you an honest answer. Any guy who equivocates or doesn’t give you an honest answer is either not interested or he’s not worth your trouble. That is a distinction without a difference.

Tell us another funny story.

I have some funny stories in the barrel over the next couple of posts. Keep the ideas coming. It’s a long off season.

Well, there you have it. Granted, that’s perhaps the most uneventful DP Tells All, but I just answer what’s been asked. Stay in touch. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be finding my heart through my stomach. DP

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bachelor Recap Episode 12: After the Final Rose

Hello, Readers. Welcome to a special Thursday post of your favorite blog. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you. Top O’ the Mornin’ to ya, Erin Go Bragh, and whatever other Irish expression suits your fancy. I, for one, will be sipping cold Lone Star beer out of a bottle later today while watching a majority of revelers pretend to enjoy price-gouged, flat, green food coloring-filled keg beer from a giant plastic cup before being forced to puke in a 4th Street alley because the street festival failed to anticipate the correct number of port-o-cans to order. Overcharged and oppressed, just like the Irish. It’s a great holiday, isn’t it?

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day this special edition will be filled with Irish references. I hope you can spot all of them. With the big season over and our new couple being slowly weaned from the ABC udder, we head into the After the Final Rose show. My end-of-season shout out goes to a reader named Bianca who I believe lives in Dallas. Bianca has sent me a few messages via Facebook over the past few seasons, but she is almost always the first person to comment on postings. She’s been a loyal, dedicated reader for a few seasons now. Thanks, Bianca. Your posts don’t go unnoticed. With that out of the way, let’s get to the Special Irish Edition of the After the Rose Post.

We begin with our host Chris O’Harrison appearing in one of the two shows where he actually has to work. He arrives to the overwhelmingly energetic applause of the gussied up crowd of 25-50 year old women, all of whom have waited in line for hours like Irish coal miners at the company store on pay day just to get a glimpse of O’Harrison’s dashing blue eyes and comely smile.

Realizing he’s only got an hour, O’Harrison doesn’t beat around the potato bush. It was dramatic, emotional, and Brad and Emily will be out soon he tells us. First, we need to check in on this season’s roller coaster, Chantal O’O. Like a roller coaster, she’s been up and down and ridden hard. The least we can do is see what she’s up to.

Arriving to sympathetic looks and a round of “we’re jealous you slept with Brad but sorry you got dumped” applause, Chantal O’O makes her way to the hot seat in a fitted red cocktail dress looking skinnier and healthier than the last time we saw her---at least on the outside.

Harrison pushes the on switch with a simple question and Chantal O’O spits out weeks of accumulated thoughts in a rehearsed, cathartic speech amid poor baby looks from the audience. O’Harrison revels in the uncomfortable silence—or perhaps he was just as bored as I was. Chantal lets us know that she was “confident” about a marriage proposal after she kissed Brad’s blarney stone in the Fantasy Tree House all night. Of course, we all know that was wishful thinking, but hey, I’m sure it was fun while it lasted. As we’d soon find out, her decision to Erin Go Bra-less in the Fantasy Suite will haunt Brad more that it will ever haunt her.

Chantal clichés her way through the next portion of the segment. She’s “strong” now and “everything happens for a reason” she tells us. Of course, that’s what people say when something really sh*tty happens to them for absolutely no reason at all. I’m sure that’s what the Irish said when fungus ate up all of their potatoes and they were forced to avoid starvation by jumping on a ship and coming to Oklahoma.

Everything happens for a reason? I had no idea that Chantal was a Calvinist. I’m not an expert, but something tells me that God’s plan has a lot of To Do items on it that rank above “Have Brad Womack Bang Chantal O. in a South African Tree House So that She Can Gain Perspective on Her Divorce,” but what do I know?

O’Harrison stirs the pot a bit before bringing out Brad O’Womack in his grey suit and matching tie. Doesn’t this guy every shave for crying out loud? That five o’clock shadow look is so Magnum P.I. He should just cap it off with a full mustache, some short corduroy shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and a Detroit Tigers cap. Not surprisingly, Chantal O’O begins to cry. (Insert Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”). Incidentally, Prince—who is not Irish—wrote that song.

For fear of boring you and pissing myself off, I’ll sum up the entire segment in this paragraph. After a tearful “why not me” from Chantal, O’Womack basically tells her that he was in love with Emily the entire time and took her to the final because he had to take someone. Ashley was too annoying to put out, Michelle was too crazy not to, and she was somewhere in the middle. Whatever. Chantal cries some more in direct contradiction of her “I’ve moved on” and “I’m over it” statements before telling us that she’s met some dude with the balls to wait at the Seattle airport with a “Chantal” sign near Baggage Claim. Want to bet that he saw her parents’ house and hightailed it over to whatever bar he knows she frequents after practicing with his garage band for a few hours? Good for you, Chantal. You dodged a big, angry car bomb when Brad dumped you. There’s a pot of gold at the end of your rainbow, Chantal.

In the spirit of more clichés O’Womack tells us that “that woman” (Emily) “makes him a better person” and that he’s “in love with that woman more than he’s ever been.” After “thank you-ing” the audience for responding to the “Applause, please” sign, Brad continues to shock and awe us by revealing (Gasp!) trouble in paradise. Like Leo Bloom in Joyce’s Ulysses, Brad somberly reflects upon the mistakes in his relationship with Emily. Alright, James Joyce was Irish and I figured I’d throw it in there. Brad could be Leo Bloom if Leo Bloom shaved his chest, drank protein shakes, and covered himself in Axe Body Spray.

The crowd ooooh’s and ahhhh’s at the mere mention of a break up. Frankly, I don’t know why this shocked anyone. He’s a 38 year old single guy with an absent father issue who has worked in college bars for most of his adult life. He lives in a town populated with 18-28 year old active, in-shape, single women who routinely go to those bars and hand out their numbers to guys like Brad. He’s never had to answer to anyone and he’s probably never been ordered to go to Home Depot and a candle store in the same day. Emily is 14 years younger than Brad and has been a mother since she was 19 years old. Why does it shock anyone that they could have a few problems to work out before she packs up her daughter and moves West?

After letting Brad set the stage, O’Harrison brings out Emily. Sporting a wonderful white, strappy dress with black trim in all of the right places, Emily emerges looking more mature with her low lights and complimentary make up. Frankly, I was disappointed she didn’t wear the white shorts, but I think we’ve established that they’ve probably been donated to something for a good cause.

Like the Molly Maguires, Emily admits to resorting to angry tactics in order to get her way. Her relationship with Brad is “not all roses” but she’s “not letting him go.” That’s not exactly “I’m so in love with that woman” is it?

A shaky Emily shocks the audience by revealing that she’s not ready to get married and she couldn’t move to Austin. She reveals that Brad has “a bit of a temper” which really means that he’s a raging jackass when he doesn’t get his way. Odd, a 38 year old bachelor with a daddy issue who has anger issues? Go figure.

Emily tells us that she and Brad need to learn how to fight, deal with things, and communicate before she commits to anything. Say what you want about Emily (some of you already have), but she just proved herself to be far more mature than her much older “fiancé.” Anyone who has ever been in a constructive, successful relationship knows that it’s healthy to fight every now and then as long as the fight serves a purpose and the issues are dealt with constructively.

The fact that Brad—at his age—is not equipped with these skills does not bode well for a future with a 24 year old mother who plans to pack up her life and move to his city. If the relationship does end up working it will be because Emily had the discipline to consider these things before jumping off the life raft. If you’d like a good example of what can happen when people jump unprepared off the life raft, scroll through your DVR and watch Jake and Vienna’s interview. You’re luckier than you realize, Brad.

Emily lets us in on the fact that Monday nights brought with them great anxiety as she prepared to watch Brad repeat the same thing to every woman. O’Harrison has a flash of brilliance when he asks Emily with a straight face if Chantal was the most difficult to watch because “she naturally went the furthest.” Damn right she did, O’Harrison and Emily knows it. I’m certain that Brad’s Axe Body Deodorant was put to the test during this portion of our little program.

To be fair to Brad, a lot has come out about potential skeletons in Emily’s cute little closet over the past couple of weeks. He doesn’t need to wear a hairshirt around like some modern day Tartuffe. (That’s an Oscar Wilde reference for those of you who are counting. He was Irish). I’m sure that stuff hasn’t exactly been easy for him to deal with. However, he doesn’t have to watch her make out with half of Austin, either. Speaking of skeletons, if Emily needs any help hiding a bone, I’d be happy to help. Alright, that was a bit uncalled for. Funny, but uncalled for. I’ll stick to potato famine jokes.

After Emily goes on record admitting that her “edit” portrayed her as boring, O’Harrison tries to help a silent (and undoubtedly clueless) Brad out by pushing back on Emily for withdrawing emotionally at the sight of Chantal and her giant cans rolling all over Brad in the Fantasy Suite. Emily lets us know that Brad’s family warned her about Brad’s temper. Brad’s family wondered if Emily had “poked the bear.” Assuming that the bear refers to Brad and depending on the contextual definition of “poke,” I think it’s fair to say that Emily is upset because Chantal “poked” the bear before she did. Frankly, the bear could have saved himself a lot of aggravation if he just lied to Emily about that.

The Irish flag might be green, white, and orange, but the fact that his family felt the need to warn Emily about his temper, my friends, is a giant red flag in my book, especially considering that Lil’ Ricki will be around when that aforementioned temper flares. The Titanic was built in Ireland and we all know how that ended up. As we cut to break, we wonder if the S.S. Brad and Emily isn’t headed at full speed toward a giant iceberg.

My take. Look, here’s what I think happened. In the interest of full disclosure I’ll tell you that I do have some inside information about this, but I’m not at liberty to say where I got it. Suffice it to say that it’s from someone close to the source.

Brad broke the rules and told Emily VERY early in the game that she was the one he was going to pick. She believed that to be the case for almost the entirety of the taping of the show. That explains her complete lack of jealousy and her willingness to simply turn her back on what ultimately drove women like Chantal and Ashley H. batty enough to be eliminated. Because of that early promise, Emily believed (and I think rightfully so) that Brad would not, shall we say, indulge in the carnal pleasures of another woman. Apparently that didn’t happen and Brad was forced to tell Emily the full story—in great detail—as the show unfolded from week to week. Aaaaaaand, cut to After the Final Rose.

Moving on . . .

In an effort to further perpetuate our “therapy helps” theme, the next segment focuses on the few Bachelor success stories. The good news is that O’Harrison had to get on the horn just three times in order to get all of the success stories in the studio to “advise” Brad and Emily on making it through life in the fish bowl.

Let’s see. There was Ali, who looked lovely in purple but was still annoying. She arrived at the studio sporting many accessories that, while existing only in the background, complimented her appearance; like her earrings, necklace, and Roberto, for instance.

Of course, Jason and Molly were there. Jason still dresses like a limo driver and Molly looked like Jane Seymour. Finally, there was the Holy Grail of Bachelor couples, Ryan and Trista. I thought it would have been a nice touch if the six of them would have shown up in traditional Celtic outfits and formed a line behind O’Harrison dressed as Michael Flatley and performed an interpretive Riverdance demonstrating the potential pitfalls of reality dating shows.

Frankly, I actually found that segment to be the best one of the show. All of the past “winners” seemed genuinely interested in helping. Perhaps that will make a difference. I’m certain that Emily got her turn to complain to Trista, Ali, and Molly over a few cosmos in the Green Room after the show while Jason and Ryan secretly congratulated Brad for dropping the hammer on Chantal before proposing to Emily. Roberto probably couldn’t join that meeting considering that his permission slip went unsigned in Ali’s purse right next to his dignity and his testicles. If he’s good, he’ll have an opportunity to visit both of those things in a week or so.

Harrison resumes control of the bus and leads Brad and Emily back to less adversarial days when they’re love was fresh and new and the air smelled like dew soaked shamrocks on the banks of an Irish spring. Perhaps that was Brad’s Axe Body Spray, but you get the picture.

Brad and Emily watch their engagement again. Considering the way Emily was ambushed this season with the private jet and the race car dates, I half expected unedited shots of Brad and Chantal in the Fantasy Suite to flash up on screen.

As they relive their finest moment in picture-in-picture, we see an audience shot of Roberto as he wonders why Brad didn’t have to ascend 300 steps in overbearing tropical humidity and heat dressed in a suit in order to propose while sweating profusely over his muse. Although we didn’t get a shot of it, I’m certain that Deanna threw her glass of chardonnay at the flat screen television in her fiancé’s living room. She’s about as over Brad’s dumping as Chantal is. I’m happy to know they’ll soon bond at one of those ABC-sponsored orgies.

Reminded that they believe that they sort of fell in love once some time ago . . . maybe, Emily and Brad “I love you” each other to death before he breaks out the newly sized Neil Lane engagement ring and places it back upon Emily’s finger where it will remain—like Excalibur—until the right man comes along and removes it.

Harrison takes us home by wishing Brad and Emily the best and then throws in an “I really do” showing that he’s always in control regardless of what appears on the teleprompter.

Well, there you have it. As always, I appreciate the readership, the comments, the emails, and the attendance at the meet and greets. Please stick around for my off season posts which will still be posted on Tuesdays in addition to an occasional mid-late week post if I can find the time and, more importantly, the inspiration to write that much. Next week’s post will be a third installment of DP Tells All. Please continue to send in your questions for me in addition to any ideas you would like to see me write about. Without your prodding, I’m as boring as a sober Colin Farrell.

For those of you who will not read, please come back this summer when I plan to dissect our favorite spin off show, Bachelor Pad 2. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be walking around downtown not wearing green in hopes of getting Emily to pinch me. DP