Friday, April 25, 2008

Texting your way to love

Here's something a friend from Seattle shared with me. Deirdre and I laughed heartily at it, and we think you might, too. Check it out and make sure to have your earphones on!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This issue teeters on 'Poison'

Here's a marital dilemma.

Husband wants to go and see Bret Michaels play at Alley Cat tonight. Wife wants to see the "Rock of Love" rocker as well, but she's not too keen on the $44.50-per-ticket fee.

You read that right - $90 to listen to the obvious (duh, roses have thorns) and see the obvious (women throwing themselves at the bandana-wearing 40-year-old-something stud -- or, wait, is he 50?) And you know once husband and wife buy a few drinks, the tab will be over $100.

Granted, husband says he understands it is a lot of dough to shell out and is relying on wife to be the "voice of reason." Understanding husband tells loving wife he realizes the cost is high and if it's not a smart decision, the couple just won't go to the concert ... but then he quickly follows up with "but I really, really, really want to go!"

Here's the issue: how can wife turn down husband's request to purchase said tickets when she herself recently signed up for a YMCA membership that roughly equals the same price as the concert tickets? Wife wants to be fair, and there has to be some give-and-take, right?

Surely all married folk have been through this sort of issue before. It's not huge in the great scheme of things; however, it does reflect on the core values of a marriage, including compromise and budget managing.

So, what would you do?

P.S.: Ahem, ahem, details in this entry were changed to protect the marriage.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Friendship has no age limit

I was dozing, enjoying a lazy Sunday, when I got an unexpected call. It was my friend Deirdre (yep, same spelling), phoning from her San Francisco home.

Deirdre and I met years ago at a party thrown by a mutual friend. Even though we seemingly had nothing in common but our name -- or maybe because of it -- we instantly clicked. She and her husband, Chris, are both more than 20 years older than me, but they have the look and energy and bohemian lifestyle of a couple much younger.

When I talk to Deirdre, it's as if I'm a student sitting at the feet of a master, and the subject she is schooling me on is Life. I always come away from our conversations feeling invigorated and enlightened. Yesterday, we talked for more than two hours about politics, religion, osteopathy, the business side of art (she's a poet; Chris is a painter) and more. Every topic was spiced with Deirdre's stories -- she's tells the most amazing stories, usually from her own life. A highlight of yesterday's chat: when we talked about early childhood memories, Deirdre recalled a World War II experience. Every family in the neighborhood except hers had blackout curtains (so interior light wouldn't show outside), and one night she opened the refrigerator. A policeman came to the door, Deirdre said, and exclaimed, "you're the only light in San Francisco. Are you trying to get us bombed?!" You don't learn stuff like that in high school history class.

I had another friend like Deirdre when I lived in California, a man who wrote columns for the newspaper I worked for. When Les stopped writing for the paper I would go visit him and Jessie Lou, his beloved wife of more than 40 years. They lived in a chichi retirement community on a golf course, but were close enough to the area's u-pick farms and produce stands that we'd have breakfast or lunch, then go get baskets of fresh fruit and veggies. All the while Les and Jessie Lou would regale me with funny stories of their travels and early years together in New York and Les's stint, decades ago, as a door-to-door salesman in the rural South.

When Les became gravely ill and was admitted to the hospital, one of his sons contacted me. I was there with his family during one of his brief periods of consciousness. Les's gaze flowed over the people gathered around his bed, then his eyes settled on me. I smiled and said hello, and his eyes softened. His son nudged me. "He recognized you," he said with a sweet smile. I never saw Les alive again, but I'll never forget the wealth of stories and advice he and Jessie Lou shared with me.

What I cherish about Deirdre and Les, and other friends who are much older, is that they don't discount "young whippersnappers," but instead embrace people no matter their age and learn from them just as much as they teach. It's the way I want to live as I age, and I think it may be the true secret to staying young at heart.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Is this the season of love?

Alisha: Today's forecast is projected to reach a high of 80 degrees. Thank goodness the warm weather is here, and with that, so is the perfect environment for love. Dontcha think?
Deirdre: Of course! I think there's something to that phrase, "spring fever." I know I've been feeling almost giddy lately. And have you looked around? People can't wait to get naked! Well, to at least wear fewer clothes.
Alisha: That's true ... I had almost forgotten what halter tops looked like till I saw five women wearing them as they walked down East Boulevard Thursday afternoon. Here's how I'd break down the seasons: Spring is a good time to start looking for a date, summer is when the hook-ups happen, fall is for either making the relationship last or ending it, and winter -- it's all about drinking something warm and snuggling up to someone.
Deirdre: Girl, I'm for looking and hooking and cuddling all year 'round! But spring is a special time. I think the longer and brighter days play a big part. We all just want to be ... out more. We've roused from hibernation, just like other animals. My cousin, who lived in Alaska for years, said that once spring arrived, everyone was walking around staring at everyone else, because they'd all been bundled up through winter and weren't used to seeing so much skin.
Alisha: I like the hibernation comparison -- it reminds me I need to shave my legs more often. Ha!
Deirdre: And get a pedicure! I started to put on sandals today, then noticed the sad state of my feet. Even my cat was like, "I wouldn't do that if I were you." If you're gonna start showing more skin, that skin better be worth showing!
Alisha: Readers, do you think all the warm rays and the lack of clothing gets you in the mood to seek out love, or would you rather find your potential mate in the dead of winter inbetween cuddling sessions?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Can't the sex wait?

A reader (I'll call him Single Black Male -- SBM) writes:

"Black male: 41, straight, never married, no kids, gainfully employed, homeowner, disease-free, social drinker, non-smoker, physically fit. What about the male perspective of being single and wanting to be in a relationship, but meeting a lot of princesses who turn out to be frogs?

"I meet very successful women through my business, church, socially, etc. As a man who has standards and values, you would think that being up-front about this would be welcomed. However, it has been my experience that many women are so conditioned to receiving or meeting men who are only interested in one thing, if you will, that when they meet a man who is interested in more, you are looked upon as strange or with a 'what's wrong with you?' attitude. Many of the women I meet do not value themselves and are in a rush to jump into bed. If you tell a women that we should wait, you get the gay label.

"Not that I have a walls up, but I am guarded about who I allow into my life. Is it too much to ask that we get to know each other first before we enter into a physical relationship?"

Listen, SBM, one of my closest friends told me he went to a club with some pals. He asked a woman to dance, and when they got out on the floor, she proceeded to "back that thang up." When he didn't respond by putting his hands on her and instead tried to put a respectful distance between them, she gave him one of those "what's wrong with you?" looks. That was the end of that.

I've heard stories like yours, and my friend's, so many times, from men and women. People try to rush the physical side of things for a myriad of reasons. Some might have a strong sex drive and genuinely just want to get laid. Some might equate sex with love. Some might tie their sexual attractiveness to their likability as a person. If you don't want to do them, a defense mechanism kicks in and to keep their self-esteem intact, something has to be wrong with you. In our mixed-signaled, sex-drenched culture, it's hard to not take this dating stuff too personally.

Most people do what they do because they think that's what it takes to get what they want ... if that makes sense. Some women think that to get a man they have to be sexually aggressive, or some men think they have to be "macho" to win a woman's initial respect. The trick is to find someone who's only willing to go as far as you're willing to go.

SBM, it sounds like you've been through a bad stretch of meeting women who aren't compatible. These low periods happen to us all, but trust me: there are plenty of women out there who want to know a man before they know him. Don't stop looking.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

How to handle 'alone time'

Your partner says to you one early afternoon, “Look, I really need some ‘me’ time. Can you just leave me alone for awhile?”

Here’s the quandary: Should you be angry and hurt they don’t want to spend time with you, or should you respect their wishes because you know he or she needs space from time-to-time?

I’m quite sure this is a common scenario among many relationships – especially if both people live together and are often on the same schedule. As a couple, you’ve (hopefully) learned each other’s idiosyncrasies and can pick up on the mood swings, but it still can be a piercing blow to have your partner say to you, “get out of my face for awhile, ya hear?”

So, how do you handle the situation if you’re on the receiving end as your partner asks you to leave them alone? Do you just accept it and walk away? Do you pout or give them a guilt trip? Or do you stand your ground and tell your partner you’re not going anywhere?

And, if you’re on the giving end of trying to communicate that you just need some space for a couple hours, then how do you go about it? Do you send your partner an e-mail during the day, warning them you’re in a bad mood and you don’t want to be chatty when you get home? Or do you just leave for a couple hours?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A smile for single ladies

I received this e-mail forward from a (married!) friend today. What I like about it is it flips the fairy tale of marriage to a "prince" providing women's happily-ever-after. Yes, it relies on stereotypes, but it still made me smile, OK? And a smile is worth passing on.

My friend's note: "Read this. Go have a cocktail. Then come back and read it again. Put feet up. Smile serenely."

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl "Will you marry me?" The girl
said: "NO!" And the girl lived happily ever after and went shopping, dancing, camping, drank martinis, ate chocolate, always had a clean house, never had to cook, did whatever the hell she wanted, never argued, didn't have to worry about her weight, traveled more, had many lovers, didn't save money, and had all the hot water to herself. She went to the theater, never watched sports, never wore friggin' lacy lingerie that went up her butt, had high self-esteem, never cried or yelled, felt and looked fabulous in sweat pants and was pleasant all the time. The End.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Little League the new Studio 54?

OK, so maybe this blog won’t be too informative from my point of view because, well, I neither have kids nor am I a man. So that’s why I need your help.

The question is: “Where do single dads in Charlotte go to meet women?”

I’m sure single men can be found mingling at Ri Ra’s, but is it necessarily the best place for a man who has two little ones at home to meet women open to the idea of a single dad?

For example, I can’t imagine a meat market like Crush as an ideal location for a single dad to land a girlfriend. I’m picturing it now:

Single dad: “Um, hey, can I have your phone number?
Cute woman: “Sure, just don’t call before 10 a.m., though, because that’s when I get up in time to make it to English 301.”
Single dad: “Hey, nevermind on that number.”

I asked a former single dad (he has remarried) about his own dating experiences. He said dating women who don't have kids of their own just didn’t work for him because on the whole, “they didn’t understand the commitment it takes to be a good father.”

Here are his suggestions:
* Join a sports team. Or take a fitness class. Or join a community service group. You'll meet people outside your normal comfort zone.
* Network. Just like jobs, it's about who you know, but it's also about who they know.
* Don't sit at home, even if it means going to a concert or an art festival alone. You may hate art, but women don't, and it's a great conversation starter.
* There are lots of singles groups through churches, the YMCA and other organizations, and many of them include and plan for single parents.
* The stigma of online dating is fading, so don't be afraid to give it a try.
* Bottom line: It's not how you meet that's important, it's that you give yourself the opportunity to meet.

There have got to be some good options or places in Charlotte single dads gravitate toward when dating, and I’d like to think We Can Relate readers could offer up some ideas or tips, much like the great advice above.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Guys: Would you get pregnant?

Yep, what you're seeing is real. Oprah Winfrey is on her show, rubbing the belly of a man. A pregnant man.

The guy used to be a girl, until he legally changed his gender. He had his breasts removed, but kept his female sex organs for this very reason: in case he decided to have a baby. (If you're wondering, and you probably are, his wife had a hysterectomy and they used an anonymous sperm donor.)

I ... wow.

It's fascinating that this man decided to live as a man, but still wanted to experience something that is inherently female -- the act of giving birth. Think about it: the idea is mainly shocking because of biology. Women are built to have babies and men aren't.

But what if pregnancy and childbirth weren't limited to the female sex? You never know, one day it might not be.

Guys, if you could get pregnant and have a baby, would you do it?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Would you dump someone over a book?

The most e-mailed story on right now? It's Not You, It's Your Books, an essay by Rachel Donadio, about literary dealbreakers in relationships.

The whole idea cracks me up. Dump a dude because of what he reads? I'd be happy if the dude read at all! But indeed, Donadio shares tales of people whose (in my opinion) book snobbery got the better of them and they had to end it.

I heard an interview with Donadio yesterday on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" (if you want to listen, the link's at the top of this page), and people called in with their two cents. One woman said she makes her husband take his Stephen King novels from the bookcase when her book club comes over (heaven forbid the ladies think she has such lowbrow tastes). A man commented that if he'd seen, for example, "The Secret" on his wife's bedside table, he might not have married her. Folks called and e-mailed in to say that if prospective partners hadn't read certain books, they could keep on keepin' on.


As for me, I side with author Ariel Levy, who told Donadio that she goes to her book group when she wants to talk about books, and that reading compatibility is a luxury. The goal, she said, is “to find somebody where your perversions match and who you can stand.”

What about you? How important is literary compatibility to you? Have you ever dumped someone because you found out they adore Ayn Rand or despise Dave Eggers? Or could you care less?