Hello, Readers. Welcome back to yet another potentially exciting week in the life of this blog. I have to admit that it’s been quite sketchy this season. How sketchy? Well, in light of the passionate responses I’ve received for my DP Tells All 4 Post, I’ve chosen to gloss over the final episode of Emily’s season. She picked Jef. He’s rich, relatively funny, has a huge family with tons of kids, and she did a thorough background check on him and his wallet prior to the season. It’s not a surprise, although I did enjoy the guessing game in the early part of the season.
I wish them oodles of happiness after the searing glare of the spotlight dies down and they’re forced to define themselves as a normal couple. Like Ed and his tiny green bathing suit, Jef lacked the physical prowess that many of his competitors tucked snugly beneath their v-neck t-shirts. It’s impossible to ignore the financial security and the giant ranch that comes with becoming Mrs. Jef; however, I’d like to believe the attraction was real. In retrospect, it was apparent from very early in the season.
Incidentally, I don’t fault Emily for putting healthy finances on her list of must haves. I never got the impression that she was looking solely for money and there’s nothing wrong with wanting a comfortable life for her and her daughter. In fact, one of you sent me an email about how Emily is independently wealthy (like five million bucks wealthy) via her share in her family’s business in addition to her little stipend from the Hendricks family. Every person wants a measure of security for his or her family. I don’t see anything wrong with being honest about that up front. If her intentions are not genuine, she’ll pay for it with a lot more than money.
With yet another season out of the way, it’s time for DP Tells All: Part 4. Thanks to those of you who sent in questions and, while I’m at it, thanks to all of you who sent well wishes about my last post. It’s incredibly humbling to know that what I type here each week makes it across the globe not to mention the fact that it positively affects a lot of you. I’m thankful each day for that gift and I smile each time I hit the “Post Blog” icon on my screen. Stay in touch this off season, please.
As is my custom, I took the emails I received and culled them down into common themes and subject matter. I try and cover all that is asked, but if I don’t hit your point, feel free to email me and we’ll discuss it off line.
DISCLAIMER: My usual disclaimer to first timers or some timers here is that these posts answer reader questions and are often my least funny. I answer what I’m asked. Hang in there for the next post if you want to laugh. More about that later. Also, this post is purposefully LONG. I know you’re starved for time killers during your week and I carved out some extra time this week to get some more questions answered. Feel free to piece meal this one in between whatever it is you all do for a living. I hope you enjoy. Now let’s get to it.
Your love of Emily is obvious. How do you feel about her fake boobs?
As far as I’m concerned, if I can touch them, they’re real. Alright, that’s my first reaction; however, after some reflection, I think what this reader is implying is that somehow any woman who chooses to get a little nip or tuck is somehow fake or disingenuous. I’ll comment on Emily and then on that issue in general.
The person who sent this is right. I find Emily attractive and I’ve made no secret about that. However, attraction is an odd thing and there’s a lot more to it for me than pretty wrapping paper, i.e. white shorts----perfectly fitting, perfectly placed, white shorts. Emily is by far the most sincere, articulate, and non-giggly Bachelorette I’ve seen since watching the show; and that includes the vast majority of the contestants on The Bachelor.
Granted, the “normal” ones with a conscience and at least a modicum of standards usually get sent home early, but I think it’s fair to say that Emily is “different” compared to what usually washes up on the wet driveway in episode one. She was empathetic, funny, a mother first, and seemed to have a grasp that she was on a game show. I liked Jillian too; although a little nip and tuck on her nose wouldn’t have hurt her appearance.
Plastic surgery is a personal choice and I have no problem with it from that perspective. If someone wants to make something larger or smaller in the name of self-esteem then so be it. The issue often resides beyond what can be nipped and tucked, however.
Additionally, we all know there are degrees that should be kept in mind when choosing to go under the knife. There’s a big difference between buying a new pair of dress shoes and running down to the dollar store for a pair of giant clown shoes. Plastic surgery is like a good haircut: it should be noticeable without being patently obvious. It’s one thing to be firm and perky. It’s another thing to look like you’re stealing ham or you’ve been punched in the lips. I think Emily’s alleged adjustments are tastefully appropriate.
From the mound of emails I receive on this issue (about 50/50 in favor), I think two things are operating here. First, most feel that being 26 and naturally pretty should be enough. In other words, the plastic surgery is nothing more than an attempt to be, well, plastic. I disagree with that. It’s often the most attractive people who feel the most insecure. Remember the story of the Ugly Duckling? Pretty people often grow up awkward and those of us old enough to have perspective realize that we still see that Ugly Duckling in the mirror no matter how the rest of the world might see us. Perhaps Emily sees herself as that Ugly Duckling; which brings me to my second point.
The rest of the emails seem to imply that plastic surgery in general is something that spoiled, money-grubbing, rich women do with their boyfriends’ money. I suppose there is a segment of the population that meets that description. The entire Real Housewives series comes to mind. However, I don’t believe that Emily does. I compare this argument to the argument I get in with my more “enlightened” friends. There is a pitcher on the Yankees named C.C. Sabathia who signed an 8 year 181 million dollar contract. Humor me for a moment.
That’s about 23 million dollars a year. Considering the fact that Major League pitchers usually pitch on a 5 day rotation and the regular season is 162 games that means he’ll pitch in approximately 32 games. That’s about $720,000 per game. If you break that down to a standard average of 100 pitches (which is about the top end of how long they’ll leave him in there) then that’s about $7,200 every time he throws a pitch. If you break that down to strikes vs. balls, he’s into five figures every time the throws a strike. That number doesn’t include endorsements, by the way. So what’s the point?
The point is this: there is a huge segment of the population that would take the position that he’s way overpaid. I have two thoughts on that and then I’ll tie it back to the question at hand. First, no profit making organization is going to pay that kind of money if it doesn’t make business sense to do so. In short, the Yankees are like the family-owned, corner convenience store. If they pay 20 cents for a Slushee then they don’t sell it for 15 cents. Second, in
can be “overpaid.” If someone came to
you and said, “Reader, you’re the best Widget Maker we have, I’d like to pay
you 181 million dollars over the next 8 years,” you’re lying if you say you’d
balk in the name of being “overpaid.” The
market pays what it makes sense to pay.
That’s not a political statement, by the way, so please spare me the
“fair share” comments. Now watch my tie
it all together. America
Emily is obviously in a position where she can afford plastic surgery—among many pairs of perfectly fitting, well-placed, white shorts and glittery apparel. So what? If any of us were in the financial position to buy whatever tickles our fancy, we’d do it. Hell, many of us do that without being in the financial position to do so. I don’t begrudge her, or anyone else, for indulging what desires they can afford to indulge. Is that always “fair?” Perhaps not, but then again, it’s not fair that the father of her child was killed in a plane wreck either.
Incidentally, I think if asked most men (including Some Guy) would say they prefer real boobs as opposed to flotation devices. The most comparable male equivalent I can think of would be using Rogaine or undergoing a hair replacement procedure. The Bruce Willis cut is somewhat in, but I believe most women would prefer at least some hair on a guy’s head. Like giant fake boobs for men, a toupee—unless you’re Burt Reynolds—simply won’t work.
You reference Christian Grey and the book Fifty Shades of Grey a lot. Have you read it? What did you think?
My reference to the wonderful trilogy is purely driven by the Fifty Million Distribution Points that I see for the book in addition to the naughty buzz about it all over, well, everywhere. Like malaria in the jungle, it’s inescapable. For those of you familiar with the blog you know I love a good pop culture reference and I write about what I see and hear. It’s that simple. As you might imagine, there’s more to this story, however.
The Special Lady Friend is a voracious reader. She’ll read just about anything she can get her hands on and despite my well-planned attempts at “dropping” the Kama Sutra around the house, she chose to buy a copy of Fifty Shades—which is apparently pretty close to the Kama Sutra. Curious, I picked it up and read about the first 1/3 of the book before putting it down in disgust.
Before you run off and label me a Puritan, allow me to explain. As all of you know, I’m no stranger to a filthy joke, an inappropriate reference, or abject toilet humor. I’m also a fan of the written word. Authors like Geoffrey Chaucer were writing exceptionally filthy material long before E. L. James opened her toy box and started jotting down finger bang fantasies. Even contemporary authors like Phillip Roth have written what have been (justifiably) characterized as extremely dirty books. Read Portnoy’s Complaint if you don’t believe me.
In short, I don’t have problem with filth—as long as it is well-written filth. Penthouse Forum is more creative than this book for crying out loud. It is HORRIBLY written prose, it is unoriginal, uncreative, and unbelievably repetitive, not to mention wholly unrealistic. How many women—much less alleged virgins—can have that kind of sex every 10 minutes for days at a time and never get sore? Please. The yeast infection she’d have after a night with Christian Grey would justify renaming her vagina instead of his sex room The Red Room of Pain. Alexandra Steele’s favorite beverage should be cranberry juice.
Even if we ignore the fact that the lead male character is a shallow, misogynistic, single-minded, sex-obsessed bore, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the author has no interest in developing him or the plot beyond that. The prose is clumsy, awkward, and unnecessarily graphic to the point where I felt myself feeling embarrassed for the author. The dialogue makes soap opera scripts sound realistic. It’s a poorly written, poorly developed book. Oh, and it’s also been done before. Rent a copy of 9 ½ Weeks with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger if you’re interested in Christian Grey.
The bottom line is that the entire series is nothing more than a middle-aged woman’s collection of sex fantasies. I’d have less of a problem if it were marketed that way—like Penthouse Forum is for men—than having it crammed down my throat (no pun intended) as a legitimate piece of literature in every book store, convenience store, and airport lounge in the country.
My final point is one that I’ve touched on here. If a male author wrote this book the reaction would be much different. Instead of some liberating tale of a woman’s quest to find her sexual identity through an arrangement with a mysterious and intriguing billionaire the book would likely be panned as the trash that it is. Double standards apply, and I understand that. It’s just not a good book.
What is the “secret,” “key,” “one thing,” that makes a man do X?
This one is an amalgamation of many of the relationship questions I get from women asking me how to make their men love them, cuddle with them, take out the trash, or obey them. This is going to be a short answer.
There is no secret, key, or one thing that will “make” a man—or any other human being for that matter—do anything. The only feelings a person can change are her own. You cannot make a man feel a certain way about you anymore than you can make the Earth turn faster. That’s like asking Lindsay Lohan to stop smoking and getting in car accidents.
If you sent me this question and you’re in the early stages of a relationship, the real issue is compatibility. I love peanut butter and I love ketchup. However, I’d never put peanut butter and ketchup in a jar together and eat them. They simply don’t go well together no matter how much I want them to go together. However, if I put peanut butter on some bread with some jelly or poured ketchup on my French fries, both would be delicious. Look for the jelly to your peanut butter or the ketchup to your fries. Don’t try and turn jelly into ketchup. It won’t work.
If you sent me this question and you’re in the late stages of a committed relationship or even a marriage, then the issue is one of compromise. People either grow closer as a relationship progresses or the differences they had between them that were pushed aside or ignored in the name of what they had in common become more obvious and eventually become exacerbated to the point they have to be addressed constructively or the relationship becomes toxic.
Perhaps keeping the ketchup and French fries apart for a while will make the person eating naked French fries appreciate the ketchup. Perhaps the ketchup will realize that it compliments the fries and without them, will end up sitting alone in a dark, cold refrigerator hoping for some other, much hotter French fries to come along. Regardless, it’s important for them to talk. You get the picture. If that doesn’t work, try putting peanut butter on his banana. At the very least, that should get his attention.
You mentioned in your last post that you lost all of your confidence and were lost as a person. As a long time reader, I notice you Allude to that horrible time in your life often. Was it the Special Lady Friend who gave you your confidence back or, if not, how did you get it back?
Good question. Frankly, this one would make a good post on its own but I’ll do my best to answer it here.
The bottom line is that my life—which had heretofore been ‘perfect’—took a right turn a few years ago. I’d prefer not to discuss the details, but let me just say that the build up to that right turn started many years before it happened. Eventually, the weight of those issues broke me as a person. Like a car with a blown tire, I struggled to stay on the road for as long as I could before veering off into the dirt and slamming into the first solid object in my path.
The fallout was something that I neither expected nor was equipped to handle. Prior to that turn, I was an A student, an athlete, a hard worker, a financial success, and I’d had relatively few regrets, if any, in my life. I never pictured failure in my life. That gross misconception, in a nutshell, accelerated my “right turn” and eventually became the biggest obstacle to my return from the abyss.
The easy answer to getting my confidence back is to say that I reached a point where I was so sick of what I saw in the mirror that I decided that “something” had to change. Even on the surface, I could not mask what was spilling over inside of me. I was out of shape, angry all of the time, apathetic, my career had gone from stalling to moving backward, and I cared only about my next trip to the local honky tonk and the cold Lone Star Beer behind the bar.
Not knowing where to start, I fell back on what I had done as a teenager when I was upset. I wrote. I bought a journal and began to write—short sentences at first—about what I was feeling. Those bi-weekly sentences turned in to weekly paragraphs and eventually into daily pages. I organized my thoughts and found my creative side again. Granted, my creative side was like Bambi on the ice, but it was no longer lying hung over in the deep recesses of my mind.
The journal allowed me to trace very small, sometimes imperceptible changes in my outlook and I often became encouraged by going back and reading what I had written weeks before. I saw my light come back on little by little. That urge to create turned into accepting my friends’ invitation to blog about the Bachelor. It was during this time that I met the SLF.
The bottom line is that I first re-learned to care enough about myself by exploring my own limitations and admitting and accepting my faults. By admitting my faults and accepting them as unchangeable I was able to make peace with the choices that led to my “right turn.” I was also able to realize what true strengths I had been given and to capitalize on them while simultaneously learning to limit my weaknesses.
The final piece of the puzzle came when I lost the 46 pounds I’d gained over a couple year’s time. I went from 22% body fat down to 8%. I went from barely being able to jog a quarter of a mile to running half marathons. I suffered tremendously—both physically and mentally—during that time but I never quit. I got my health back and my life back and the SLF is thrilled to look at a real six pack instead of carrying a six pack of empty Lone Star bottles from the coffee table to the trashcan because I’m too hung over to do it myself.
I learned that just like my failure, my success could not happen overnight. Rather, it had to come in short, tiny, incremental, extremely painful steps. Taking those steps required self-discipline, diligence, and an unshakable commitment. I remember picking a 3 mile rocky, up and down, trail run in a park about 4 miles from my house in order to begin getting back in shape. The first time I timed myself it took me 43 minutes of air sucking, knee killing, light headed jog walking to stumble across the trail head. Over the course of months, I made myself go day after day and do that run. My current record for that same run is 20:43 and I rarely run there because I prefer longer distances now. I could have never imagined that progress when I was literally crying—from sadness or pain I don’t know which—through each step of that run when I first started. That was an incredibly lonely, humbling time in my life. I wanted to quit every time I began at first.
Like Jacob on his ladder, I fell many times before I gained my footing. I was fortunate enough to have the SLF in my life at the time. She accepted those falls as part of my process and helped me off the floor rather than berating me for being there or simply walking away. I am eternally grateful for that support. However, the vast majority of my healing process took place in my own head. I still struggle from time to time. The difference now is that I understand that things will never be truly ‘perfect.’
Whoever sent this question, the best and shortest piece of advice I can give you is “Don’t Quit.” I hope that helps.
You have a really creative side. Are you creative in other areas of your life?
This question begs for a filthy response. However, I’m going to take the high road this time. First of all, thank you for the compliment. I’ve said before that one of the reasons I think this blog “works” for people is that I write directly from my stream of consciousness. In other words, reading this is exactly what you’d get if you were sitting down talking to me. I type, rarely edit, and just hit send. If that sounds “creative” then I suppose that’s what it is.
As far as the rest of my life, I just live it like I live it. I love the outdoors and I literally feel most connected to myself and to the world when I’m on a mountain bike or running through nature. Those moments inspire me and it was the loss of the opportunity to connect with that side of myself that lead to the circumstances I discussed in the last question. So, in a word, I suppose that my creative side needs to be fed in order for me to be me. Starving it doesn’t make me a nice person. The problem with repressed feelings is that they eventually find a way to unrepress themselves. For me, expression in a positive way is a necessity. That carries over into all areas of my life.
Example? My high school English class was given the assignment of picking a literary work and dissecting the prose in order to identify various literary devices used by the author. Alliteration, caesura, rhyme, rhythm, etc. were what the teacher was looking for in our presentation to the class. After sitting and listening to my fellow classmates stumble over Shakespeare, botch Bacon, and destroy Donne, I got up, cleared my throat and said: “You were born to be my baby and baby I was made to be your man.” I pointed to the brilliant use of alliteration by the modern poet, Jon Bon Jovi.
Despite the laughter in the room and the utter shock on the teacher’s face, I received an A+ on my project. The teacher took me in the hall before the next class and encouraged me to do something with my writing. I suppose that was a point in my early youth that I realized my gift of gab could work in my favor. True story. I use that talent liberally today while constantly reminding myself of the aforementioned faults I have. Balance is the key to keeping that talent in check. Hell, balance is the key to keeping that talent at all.
I suppose the series of politically based questions I get stems from the fact that we’re 4 months out from what promises to be a contentious election cycle. These questions range from asking my political party preference, my stance on gay marriage, and my hatred of either party’s candidate.
Elvis Presley was once asked a similar question in an interview at the Houston Astrodome in the early ‘70’s regarding his stance on the Vietnam War. His reply was something like, “Honey, I’m an entertainer. That’s what I do. I’d prefer to keep my political opinions to myself.” Amen.
If I wanted to express political opinions or engage in social commentary I would have started a politically based blog. I comment on a reality show and share anecdotes about funny things from my life. That’s the point of this blog and that’s as far as I’d like to take it.
I doubt that I’ve said enough within the pages of this blog over the past few years that would lead any person to an accurate description of my beliefs. The only thing I’ll say is that I have very strong political, social, and religious beliefs and I make a constant effort to explore what I believe and why I believe it. I think any person who plans to vote, protest, or worship—or question the manner in which anyone does the aforementioned three things—should do the same. I never cease to be amazed at the lack of knowledge people have in bar discussions, dinner debates, and even on television shows when it comes to discussing issues.
Look, I’m not George Will or James Carville. However, I won’t debate an issue that I’m not well-versed to debate. I’ll admit ignorance or I simply won’t engage in the discussion. The best example (and least politically charged) I can give is when people bust my balls about how badly they hate lawyers or how “wrong” the court was in a well-publicized decision. About 99% of the people who give me a hard time have no concept of the law, the jury process, how a verdict works, etc. They regurgitate what they read and latch on to a purely emotional response. It’s impossible to reason with someone who is only seeking an argument. The same goes for religious arguments. Incidentally, there is an exceptionally well-done documentary entitled Hot Coffee about the legal system and, specifically the infamous McDonald’s coffee lawsuit that every person should watch. You’ll be amazed.
I respect people like George Will and James Carville. Although I might disagree with either one of them on a variety of issues, they are people who know what they believe and why they believe it. I look for the same qualities in the people I vote for to lead me. That applies to the President of the
all the way down to the President of my Homeowner’s Association. United States
I give a
lot of myself in my relationships. my husband and my family demand a lot of me and I do my best to make everyone happy. I am
starting to resent this a lot because I feel like I don’t get a lot of simple things back from them. I love them all but I’m tired. Advice?
“I give a lot of myself in relationships” means that you often feel like a doormat.
“My husband and my family demand a lot of me and I do my best to make everyone happy” means that your husband and family expect you to do everything for them and you end up doing it out of some sort of misplaced feeling of obligation that amounts to enabling them.
“I am starting to resent this a lot” means that you’ve been upset about it for a long time but you have no idea how to make it stop.
Am I close?
You are a classic people pleaser and, in turn, an enabler. People take from others only what they are allowed to take and people like you will give until you’re miserable either for fear of disappointing someone or out of a desire (likely a subconscious one) for unconditional acceptance. You wear this obligation like a hair shirt. It humbles you yet gives you a feeling of self-worth. You struggle with this feeling on a daily basis because you tell yourself that it is your job to please the people around you yet you’re miserable doing it.
Am I still close?
In relationships—PAY CLOSE ATTENTION LADIES—people get exactly and only what they are willing to accept. Changing your own behavior is the key to changing the behavior of others. If you cap that off with the fact that a people pleaser like you is unlikely to protest or complain even though she’s miserable then the person (or people) taking and taking tiny bits of your soul each day remain oblivious to the fact that they are taking it. Setting a firm boundary and sticking to it is the first key to fixing the problem.
Remember the ketchup and peanut butter example from above? Apply it here. It sounds like your people pleasing which is normally a good quality if not taken advantage of—has been mixed with a person or group of people who lean too hard on your propensity to please. That’s either because you picked them that way or you’ve cultivated that propensity through your own behavior. The balance has been tipped in their favor and pleasing has become hard work.
Try this four step approach EVERY TIME you find yourself bending until you snap.
1. Set the boundary: If the question is “honey, can you get up and get me a beer?” Simply, get up, get the beer and then tell him that he should expect to get himself a beer the next time both of you are sitting there in similar positions.
2. Weather the storm: the next time he asks, remind him that he should get the beer himself and then do not allow yourself to be guilted into getting it. People used to you doing what they ask will literally react like 4 year old children when you tell them no. They will throw a tantrum, become hurt and angry, and try to manipulate you into giving in to old ways. Hold the line and stick to the boundary. He’ll get up if he wants the beer badly enough.
3. Reset the expectation: Thanks for getting the beer. I appreciate you doing that. It let’s me relax instead of waiting on everyone.
4. Don’t be afraid to dig a trench: If the boundaries are not ultimately respected do not be afraid to take the hard line. If he won’t agree then you have to take a hard stance. Not only do you not get the beer from the fridge, you no longer buy it at the store. This is not a competition but it can become a battle of wills. You get the picture. If you’ve communicated a boundary that is necessary for your own happiness and you’ve done that in a respectful, constructive way without being arbitrary, then it becomes incumbent upon the people that you chose to bring into your life to respect that. It is never too much to ask, particularly of a husband, that mutual respect be a part of the equation.
With family, it’s funny. It’s much more difficult to ask a parent to undo a lifetime of parenting, but ultimately, a version of that has to happen in order to you to truly be an adult—and therefore a peer as opposed to a child—in your relationship with them. Parents—mothers in particular—are masters of manipulation and guilt mongering. Being able to draw a hard line and change that relationship is very difficult but it reaps huge rewards.
Use the four steps above with any problem and you’ll find that setting the boundary will lead to one of two conclusions if you stick to your guns: the relationship with either change for the positive or it will get worse before things can ultimately change for the positive. Like my runs through the woods, it will be a struggle seemingly not worth going through at first. However, there is no solution beyond that. You either accept your current situation or you take the steps necessary to change it. That may end up costing you that relationship in exchange for your sanity. Only you can make that choice.
Finally, do not be afraid to ask for what you need in return. I’d like a day at the spa or I’d like to go on a walk after I cook dinner so you and the kids can clean the plates and table. Whatever it is, be clear, communicate it without equivocation, and expect them to act on it. Be aware of your propensity to give in and your overwhelming desire to please and recognize the pitfalls associated with that behavior. At first, minimize your exposure to situations where you’re vulnerable. It’s like a freshly sober alcoholic going to a bar or a fat person going to a fast food restaurant when she’s hungry. It’s no different for you. It’s all about the boundary and it’s all about being realistic.
Well, there it is. DP Tells All Part 4. So serious this time! Never fear, however. I have a great story from my youth teed up for next week’s post. Thank you all for reading during the season and thanks to those of you who stick around for the off season as well. Stay in touch, send in ideas, and take care of yourselves. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be setting boundaries. DP