Sunday, November 29, 2009

Surviving Down Under

I don't care how good your physique is, guys, do not ever don a G-string. Mmmmkay?

Last night three girlfriends and I saw Thunder from Down Under, a traveling version of the Vegas male review show. Think Chippendales with Aussie accents - a bunch of shaved, muscular white guys gyrating to hip hop, country, hard rock and ballads.

The guys wore pirate, gangster, gladiator, cowboy and bull-fighter costumes because that's what we women fantasize about, apparently. By the sounds of the women's screams, they know their audience.

The guys had great bodies, and two of them looked like they might really be dancers. "Oh, good, they're really going to dance," I thought at one point. "I hope they don't ruin it by taking off their clothes."

And then, with a flick of two wrists, the pants were gone revealing their tiny packages, held in place by colorful swatches of fabric.  For added bonuses, the guys slid the thongs below their buttocks, eliciting ear-piercing screams from the ladies because, you should know, an exposed crack is way hotter than one covered with dental floss.

They did the best they could with a lot of horribly choreographed moves - Point to the sky! Point to the ground! Slide on your knees! Swing your shirt like a lasso in the aiiiiiyer! Hip thrust, hip thrust! Ornery smile stage right! Flex the bicep! Sliiiiiiiiiiiiiide the palm of your hand from your chest down to your woo hoo... give it a squeeeeeze!

As my mind wandered during the show, I wondered what mostly naked "costumed manly man" would get my adrenaline going if he were jumping around on stage? I came up blank. A nearly naked man prancing around on stage does not turn me on. As a matter of fact, a mostly naked man prancing around in the privacy of my bedroom would not turn me on. It would send me into convulsions of laughter.

The best part of the evening was dining and catching up with my girlfriends. I was thoroughly entertained last night, especially because I got to be with my gal pals, two of whom I haven't seen in too long.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Swift, tough and effective

My 12-year-old son is failing language arts. How is this possible? Kill me now?
The reason? He has to write 14,000 words this term, and he thinks that's too much. So his response, apparently, is to do none of it.
As a result of the failing grade, I have taken away his computer and beloved video games. The kid spends hours attached to those devices. When he brings his grade to a B, he gets them back.
Riding in the car yesterday he told me my punishments are not like his dad's, which are slow, verbal and take a long time to come. Mine, he said, are "swift, tough and effective."
"Thank you," I said.
"That wasn't a compliment," he said.
"How'd you get to be so tough?" he said.
He asked me how I came up with my punishment, and I explained that it was easy. What does Adam love? Computer and video games. What does Adam spend a great deal of time doing? Playing computer and video games. And this fill-in-the-blank question: "If Adam spent less time doing ______, he would have more time for his studies." Anyone?
That' right: playing computer and video games.
::applause, applause::
My ex is enforcing the no computer/video game rule at his house, too. He added a little carrot to it: If Adam gets all As, he gets a fat reward.
I get to be the bad guy; he gets to be the good guy. I'm totally cool with that. My son seems to enjoy it when I put on my strict-parent suit, which I don't have to do often because he is, basically, a good kid.
Two days into his electronic-free life, "I'm bored" has become his mantra. He strolls aimlessly around the apartment, reminding me that he wouldn't have to annoy me if I would let him play video games. He's sleeping more because there is no reason to stay up late or get up early; I'm turning him into a lazy bum, he said, by turning off his computer and PS2.
I'm loving every minute of it, and I suspect, so is he.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In memory of Charles the piano teacher

My son's piano teacher died.
We'd just started with him this fall. Adam liked Charles. He didn't use a conventional "method." His method was asking Adam what he wanted to play and teaching him how to play it. Because Adam can read music, they focused on fingering and rhythm.
They were working on Beethoven's "Fur Elise," and tonight when my son was tinkering on the keys, he said it felt weird to play it. 
Charles just turned 50 in October. According to his Web site, he died as the result of injuries sustained in a crash.
He was very wise and had a gentle way with my son, who tends toward the negative and lacks a little in self-confidence (didn't we all in seventh grade?). The best line Charles delivered, "You're confusing 'I can't' with 'I don't know how.'"
I'm bummed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I can't swim. There. I said it.

There's a scene in the movie "Brothers Bloom" where Adrien Brody's character kisses Rachel Weisz's character for the first time. She returns the gesture by kissing him back and nearly devouring his face, kinda like the way my son devours a bowl of chocolate ice cream.

Saturday with my workout group, I was reminded of that scene when our trainer encouraged us to "think like children without being childish." Approach challenges with enthusiasm and openness, as if you know nothing and want to learn everything.

So, today, when our To Be Re ( trainer announced a special three-week mini-extreme workshop taking place in December with "a different surprise location each week," I had a mini panic attack. "God, help me. What if we have to go to the pool!?" I don't know if I know how to swim. I took lessons as a child, but I never really spent much time in pools, lakes or oceans, and, so far, in my almost 43 years, have managed to create situations where my feet are always on the ground and my chin is above the water line. Or I'm clinging to some inflatable device or supported by a life jacket.

I'm not afraid to go into water. I'll play Marco Polo or keep-away in the pool, but if I have to go in the deep end, I'm hugging a noodle or clinging to the edge.

Before today, I don't think anyone knew that I can't swim. It's embarrassing. I've had a childish attitude toward swimming. Actually, it's an adultish attitude, right? Shame, embarrassment, hiding out - we master those things as we age. I am a master at avoiding water.

Today, I told three people, including a certain special someone - whom we'll refer to for now as my muse -  about my Embarrassing Secret. He calmed me down - which he has a knack for doing - and helped me see the ridiculousness of my hiding out.

I agreed to take swimming lessons, and I am going to approach them like a child and be open and fearless (or fear-resistant - how's that?). And next time I see my muse, I think I'm going to give him one of those Rachel-Weisz-Brothers-Bloom smooches.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What women want

On a recent trip to Ohio, I read the book "Act like a lady, think like a man" by Steve Harvey. Ladies, it's a short read and Harvey gives some great, SIMPLE insights into the male mind. Even if you are married or in a long-term relationship, this book is an honest and even funny look at what men want.
What I liked about Harvey's advice is that he is all about maintaining a woman's dignity. For instance, he offers a list of questions every woman should ask a man fairly early in a relationship. One of the questions, "What do you think of me?" took me by surprise. Really? Isn't that kind of fishing for compliments? I shouldn't HAVE to ask a guy how he feels about me. But after reading Harvey's book, I get it. Guys aren't about the subtle. Be direct. If you want to know, you are going to have to ask. And you want to know what he thinks of you.
Since reading Harvey's book, I've been thinking about how I would break down "what women want" into simple easy-to-understand, direct steps. Ha! Women are not that simple. You dudes have it hard, I am sorry to report.
While I consult the experts (my girlfriends) and seek counsel (from the elder women in my life), here is the first piece of wisdom I have for you men: The woman in your life wants to know that she is special to you.
When you ask her on a date, don't ask her what she wants to do or where she wants to go. You've initiated the date - you make the plans. She wants to know that you went to some trouble and gave your date some thought. It's OK to ask "Do you like sushi?"
Don't take her to your favorite restaurant, because she knows that all the ladies who've ridden in your passenger seat have eaten there, too. Discover new places together. Do some research. Learn what her favorite foods are. Take her to her favorite place.
We women will have a hard time mustering enthusiasm if we know that you are wisking us away to a B&B where you've wrinkled the sheets with another lady. We know you've been in other relationships. In fact, we are reassured that you have experience in committed relationships. While we're together, we need to know that we are the bomb. Explore new territory.
Did she say she likes jazz? Find a cozy jazz club. Did she say she likes motorcycles? Rent one and take her on a day trip. Is her favorite color blue? Show up at her door with a bouquet of her favorite color.
We don't care how much money you spend on us or if you buy us expensive gifts. (And if that's what she wants, you are with the wrong chica.) Women like little gestures that let us know you pay attention when we talk.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm going to tell you a secret

I've dabbled in the online dating world off and on over the past two years. What were the classified personal ads of yesterday that we used to assign to pathetic lonely hearts have become mainstream, accepted and event expected ways to meet members of the opposite sex.
I find it overwhelming. I have a love-hate relationship with online dating. After being absent from it for more than a year while I explored relationships with Blackberry Guy and The Parasite, I recently returned to it (and then quickly exited).
To all my single guy friends out there, I am going to tell you the secret to meeting quality women online.
Get rid of the photos of your dog. Women do not want to date your pooch. They want to see pictures of you. I have yet to hear one of my single girlfriends say: "He has the most amazing labrador retriever." Nuh-uh.
Get rid of the photos of sunsets, mountains, beaches and deserts. We have been to these places. If you are a romantic guy, write, "I am a romantic guy." Don't put romantic sunsets in your profile.  We are not interested in seeing them through your camera lenses. We are online to meet men, and we want to know what you look like. Take off your sunglasses.
Get rid of the photos of you with other women whom you've cropped out of the images. We know you have a dating history. We don't mind that you've been married. But we don't want to see photos of you with wisps of blond, red and brunette hair in the margins.
No more photos of you holding a camera up to the mirror and taking photos of yourself. Don't you have any friends? A sister? Neighbor? Here's what you do. Invite your friend over for a beer. Hand him your camera or cell phone. Tell him, "Dude, I need some photos of myself for online dating." He'll razz you a bit, but he'll do it.
I have mixed feelings about the shirtless looks. I'll accept one shirtless photo, but more than that tells me you are looking only for sex.
Proofread your copy. Send it to your closest friend, or even better - if you have a sister or close female friend, send it to her. Avoid using phrases such as "You only live once" and "Life is too short." EVERY guy says that in his bio.
"Your" is possessive, as in "I want to be your man."
"You're" is a contraction of "you" and "are," as in "I think you're beautiful."
"Their" is possessive of they, as in "Their happiness is all that matters."
"There" refers to a place, as in "I want to be there for you," or "I have been there and back."
"They're" is a contraction for "they" and "are," as in "They're my best friends."
Now, go get 'em.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mommy, mommy

My recent post about the embarrassing question I asked my son has spurred some conversations in my part of the world.
First, let me assure you all that I've learned my lesson and will refrain from intruding on his privacy. Despite the fact that I changed hundreds of diapers on that little bottom...
I am positive my mom asked me the same question, in the same blunt way (she has the same missing filter), when I was that age. And I would have answered her. But I'm a girl, and I like attention.
When I was my son's age and went through the rites of passage, I blabbed about it to everyone. I was 14 when I got my first "mommy, mommy," as the neighborhood boys called it.
That's when a girl of a certain age goes to the bathroom for the first time and finds a crimson surprise that will visit her each month for the next 40-some years. She yells, "Mommy, mommy!" from the bathroom, the boys said.
I told all of my friends of my new womanhood, and they told their brothers, and pretty soon the Colbert and the Wills brothers were teasing me for having my first "mommy, mommy." I was always smaller and slightly behind the developmental curve among my friends, so when something like that happened, I wanted everyone to know.
It's what we girls did. We compared our bodies and the changes they were going through. When I was in sixth grade, one of my classmates was the first to grow hair "down there," and she held showings in the girls bathroom on the third floor at Highland Park Grade School. "Lisa's going to show us her pubic hair when we go for our bathroom break!"
We surreptitiously passed around the book, "Are you there God, it's me, Margaret," and dog-eared the page that referred to the main character getting her first "mommy, mommy."
I apologized to my son for embarrassing him. As he passes through those awkward stages of maturity, I too pass through awkward stages of parenting.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The "it" factor

Let's all take a moment to pay homage in honor of Guy X, who was put to rest in my dating hall of fame. (Actually, he doesn't really qualify for hall of famage as we had only three dates.)
After days and days of incessant text messaging, he finally asked me on a date. He sent a text and invited me to lunch. "I don't think so," I said. "I'm sorry but I just don't think we're going to work out."
He asked what changed. "Too many texts," I said.
He responded by saying that he never felt comfortable calling and that I don't seem available.
I don't get that. After asking him out three times (yes, I initiated our first three dates), I told him it was his turn. "It might be sooner than you think!" he texted me.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
What part of "I am free today and tomorrow" leaves the impression that I don't have time? I gave him several opportunities to ask me on dates.
And I don't. want. to. be. asked. on. a. date. by. text. MESSAGE.
Let's face it: If there was something there,  I would have made it happen.
My friend Diane calls it the "it factor."
"It" isn't love at first sight. It's like chemistry, that thing that leaves you wanting more. It makes you smile uncontrollably when you see his (or her) name pop up on your text in-box, caller I.D. or when you see him walking toward you. "It" is that electrical thing that goes off inside when your knees touch under a table or when you take in his or her scent. I know. I sound like a silly girl.
It shows up early. It is there when you meet. If It isn't there by the third date, It isn't going to show up. Move on. Next.
Likewise, be wary when It shows up followed by red flags (Hello? Parasite?). It can be quite powerful.
I definitely didn't have It for Guy X. I liked him, but I didn't have It for him.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Getting bussed on the bus

While we're looking for ways to live more efficiently, we should consider cutting words out of the English-language dictionary. Think of all the trees we would save by eliminating homonyms.
Do we really need compliment and complement? One means an expression of praise and the other means something that completes or makes perfect. I bet most of you didn't even know there are two. I say we get rid of the one with the "e."
Another one we can pitch: roll and role. Totally unnecessary to have two. Would your life be worse off if you put butter on a role or had a roll in the school play?
Scull: rowing motion. Skull: your noggin. Why two? Who knows. Who nose.
I bet you didn't know this one: seel and seal. One means to sew shut or blind something, as in the eyes of falcons during their training (wish I didn't know that…). The other, seal, means "to close."
Because seal is also the name for an animal, I say we get rid of seel. Most of us didn't know about it, anyway.
Storey and story. Storey, as defined by says:
  1. a: the space in a building between two adjacent floor levels or between a floor and the roof; b: a set of rooms in such a space; c: a unit of measure equal to the height of the story of a building (one story high).
  2. a horizontal division of a building's exterior not necessarily corresponding exactly with the stories within.
Anyone get the difference between story and storey as it pertains to buildings? Me neither. Raise your hand if you vote to eliminate "storey," which my automatic spell checker keeps correcting to "story" as I type this? It's settled.
How about counsel and council? One means an adviser, and the other means a group of leaders. I'm totally cool with getting rid of counsel.
Stationary or stationery? Principal or principle? Who cares?
One last one: capital and capitol. One means "most important" and the other is the center of government. We could argue that they are close enough in meaning that only one is necessary. My vote goes to the one with the "a."
By the way, "buss" means to kiss, and "bus" means, well you know what that means. So when you see a sign at your child's school that reads: "School busses only," what that means is "school kisses only." The plural of "bus" is "buses."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Embarrassing questions

Driving in the car today, I looked over at my son and noticed the hair above his upper lip is a little darker, a little more coarse than the baby-fine hair he has on his face. I pointed it out, "You've got the beginnings of a mustache."
He pulled down the visor and inspected the growth, telling me that some kids at school have serious crops of fuzz.
"Do you have any hair down there?" I asked.
As someone recently pointed out, I lack certain filters.
What can I say? I'm a mom. I am curious about these things.
Not only would he not answer, but he wouldn't acknowledge that I'd asked a question.
I even tried to bribe him.
Pulling into the Blockbuster parking lot, he asked me if he could get some junk food.
"If you answer my question, I'll let you get junk food."
It didn't work. "No junk food for you."
If I'd had a daughter, she would have answered me.
I'm in unfamiliar territory here. I knew my question would embarrass him before I asked it, though it wasn't my intention. I'm just curious! If my kid is approaching puberty, I want to know!
Why do I need to know? What will I do with the information? Don't answer that. I already know the answer: It's his body; my my own business.
I'd probably blog about it, anyway.
The kid's smart to keep it to himself.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Get real

I had a conversation with someone yesterday about the ins and outs of text messaging in the dating world. I said, "Why is it that guys hide behind text messages?" (To be fair, he said women do it, too.)

I met Guy X a couple of weeks ago. We had lunch, then went to dinner then met for breakfast one morning. He's a nice guy. He text messages me every day, several times a day. Now, I don't mind a cute "I'm thinking of you" text or, "Where is the nearest sporting goods store," or something that makes me laugh or smile. But text messaging does not and cannot replace real conversations. I'm at the point where Guy X, though very sweet and cute, is almost an annoyance. I do not want to be wooed by text messaging, instant messaging or e-mail. I don't to be asked out on a date via text, and I don't want to learn about your family, career and hopes and dreams in 160-word bytes.

If you want to talk to me or see me, pick up the phone and call me. I'm a little old-fashion that way, I suppose. How would these guys have survived 15, 20 years ago when telephones were wired to walls and e-mail was known by only a few hundred IT nerds?

I like the guy who isn't afraid to pick up the phone. I like a guy who sends me a random text message during the day then later picks up the phone to continue the conversation, which could last into the late hours of the night (which is, like 10 o'clock for me).

I admit I've hidden behind the safety of my cell-phone screen. The bottom line is: If he (or she) is truly interested in you, he (or she) will call or take your call. Anything less than a phone call is superficial. It isn't real.

Monday, November 9, 2009


I'm laying in bed ...

Or is it lying? I never understood the grammar rules for lay/lie. If I'm lying in bed, I think that means I'm not telling the truth. If I'm laying in bed, then I'm supine, yes? Must not lie in bed.

Anyway …

I'm laying in bed this morning, trying to be still and not let the two little devils know that I am awake. Once they know I'm up, they are on the bed, purring and pawing at me to pet them. I make it until about 6 a.m. They ascend on me purring and insist that I share some love. As Lily tucks herself in conveniently within reach of my right hand, Bug paces around my head, stepping on my hair, forcing me to awkwardly reach overhead and pet her with my left hand.

As I lay there, (right? lay?), my cats trick me into thinking that this is all about me, when it is really about them, seeking attention, adoration, affection. I think, "I wonder if it's like this for Hugh Hefner …"