I’ve been away from my blog for over a month now, going on two months. I kept waiting for an idea to pop into my head and inspire me to sit down and write. I thought of lots of ideas, but I never started writing. I decided that I would just sit down here tonight and write whatever garbage comes out of my brain. It could be awesome, but it could be awful. You be the judge!
Have you ever had a moment when you’re in a great group of people and you’re having a blast and you think, “there will come a day that I’ll never see these people again.” I guess I’ve lived long enough to have experienced this phenomenon often enough to question it. I should be enjoying the moment, and I am, but the other side of me is thinking that this is a situational friendship. We’re friends because we work together, or because we have kids the same age and we live on the same street, or we share something else in common. Being friendly is not the same thing as being friends.
Then, the job changes, the neighborhood changes, you stop doing your normal routine and start new friendships. You try fooling yourself and your old friends that you’ll stay in touch and get together again, but the best you can do is follow them on Facebook.
If you were my friend only because it was convenient for me, I apologize. We were really just acquaintances who enjoyed some of the same things. The last friend I had who always called me to hang out or go out and do something is a person I haven’t spoken to in over 6 months. That’s totally my fault, even though the phone rings on both ends. A really deep, lasting friendship is almost impossible to find as an adult. I found one when I met the woman who is now my wife. She is my cheerleader, my voice of reason, my audience, and the person I most want to impress with everything I do. She’ll probably stick around for a while.
Do you have someone in your life who you know will be there for you at all times, no matter what? Do you have a friend who knows everything bad about you and still loves you? You might want to keep that person in your life forever.
Any adult who still thinks they can have “sweet dreams” is dreaming! I woke up at 6:00 this morning due to the weirdest dream I’ve had in a long time, and I’ve had some doozies! This one involved a bunch of my family and extended family gathering at the house I grew up in, only this was a newer and improved house. I never went inside because the weirdness was outside. I saw a nephew, who I haven’t seen in a few years, riding a bicycle with his girlfriend. I don’t even know if he has a girlfriend, but she was pretty. I saw a few old friends from the neighborhood, and my brother who currently lives in China was there. So far, this doesn’t seem weird.
I was outside carving some weird meat that turned into jello when you tried to put in on a plate. So I found these jello glasses to put it in and my friend thought that was really smart, so he stole my serving. I don’t like jello, in fact I hate jello! I love alcohol but not when it’s put in a jello shot! I won’t touch it then. This weird meat was coming from some unidentifiable animal that was still alive and didn’t mind that we were carving it up. Then, for some reason, this animal turned into a dog with a really bad grooming job with patchy fur all over his body. I asked my friend what to do and he said I would have to kill it by breaking its neck. That’s when I woke up!
Where the fuck did that come from??? I can understand the family part of it since I’ll be seeing a lot of them at my wedding next month. Alana is having stress dreams about the wedding, which makes sense. But everything that happened after I saw my nephew doesn’t exist in the real world! How is that shit even in my brain to be processed? So I did what every person who has been freaked out by a dream would do – I went to google “dream interpretation.” There were 19,100,000 results returned in 0.12 seconds. I guess I’m not the only person having weird dreams!
My first attempt to interpret this was to find out what dreaming about a dog means. This particular dog was black. What I found was, “To see a black colored dog in your dream symbolizes the shadow aspect of a friend. The dark side of someone close to you is being revealed and you are able to see through to their true intentions.” I’m on to you, Alana! I can see your true intentions, I think. It was a small dog. What I found was, “To dream of small dogs, indicates that your thoughts and chief pleasures are of a frivolous order.” Yeah, that’s pretty true.
I didn’t spend too much time on this, but I couldn’t find anything about what it means to kill a dog. So I got curious and wondered what they had to say about killing cats. There was no shortage of interpretations here! My favorite was, “To dream of a cat, denotes ill luck, if you do not succeed in killing it or driving it from your sight. But if you succeed in banishing it, you will overcome great obstacles and rise in fortune and fame.” Killing dogs – bad. Killing cats – money!
My next stop was to find out what dreaming about friends and family means. I went back to the dreaming dictionary to the “F” page and found an entry for facebook! If you’re dreaming about facebook, you might want to log off for a while! Then, there was a banner ad featuring the face of Barack Obama right next to the entries for “Fairy Tale”, “Faithless”, and “Fake”. Moving on. For family, we have “To see your own family in your dream represents security, warmth and love. It could also symbolize bitterness, jealousy, or rivalry, depending on your relationship with your family.” Jesus, that’s just no help at all!
Scrolling down, there is an entry for “Farting.” ”To dream that you are farting suggests that you are being passive aggressive. You need to express your feelings in a more direct manner. ” I’m pretty sure my farts are in a very direct manner! ”Feminine Napkin” – “Please see Maxi Pad.” Finally, down to “Friends” I found, “to see your childhood friend suggests that you have been acting in a childish manner. You need to start acting like an adult.” I sense a pattern now! My dream was trying to tell me I’m childish and frivolous! I think I’ll go with that and forget about the whole dog thing. I like being childish and frivolous! Now, it’s time for my second cup of coffee. I don’t want to go back to sleep!
I wonder what was on the menu when some genius came up with the cliche, “you are what you eat.” What does that even mean? You certainly can’t take that literally! If you could, I would be known as “Delicious!”
I know what I’m supposed to do to eat well, I just don’t want to. I go through phases of eating right, but I come back to eating the same stuff all the time. Monday through Thursday, I’m diligent about what I eat. Well, not Wednesday nights. That’s when I run with Team in Training and we go out for dinner and beer. I could eat right – the menu includes salads, right? Nope, I go for the mushroom and swiss burger every damn time! And bring me your darkest beer! If I want to drink water, I’ll get a Bud Light! OK, so it’s back on track for Thursday. Friday rolls around and I can eat well until dinner. If we aren’t buying a pizza, I’m making one. The one I make is actually very healthy for you and tastes amazing (that’s what she said – really she did, you can ask her)! But you can’t have pizza without washing it down with a beer, can you? Saturday rolls around, I go for a long run, and then it’s party time! Everyone needs a day off, and this one is mine.
The funny thing is, even when I try to eat well, there is always someone who thinks the way I’m eating is unhealthy. They’re probably right, but I don’t want to hear it! When I go out to dinner with a group of people, the skinny people order from a different menu. They always seem to get the healthiest item on the menu! Have they gone over to the dark side and converted to “whole foods?” Or, do they go home and have pizza and beer when we’re not looking? I’ve looked at the healthy weight guidelines for my height and I could be 20 pounds lighter and still be considered healthy. That’s just not going to happen! I’ve been gaining and losing the same 10 pounds for three years now. It’s the party weight that just won’t go away!
The only time I went on an extensive, life changing, “diet,” was the 18 month period while I lost 70 pounds using Weight Watchers. I counted every “point” and tracked them religiously, which is a good analogy because Weight Watchers is a cult! I’m not dismissing them, in fact I would encourage anyone wanting to lose weight to join them. They know their stuff! But going to a meeting is like going to church. Every Saturday morning at 8:00 AM, even with a hangover, which happened quite often, I was at the meeting worshiping at the altar of WW. The meeting leader was more of a motivational speaker, so it was like going to a motivational seminar every week. He told his story so often that I could get up there and recite it! But he was able to help people see that they really could eat what they want, but only if they did it the right way – with portion control. Telling food addicts that they can have a little food without eating it all is like telling an alcoholic that they can have a shot of liquor without drinking the whole bottle!
I think it boils down to my relationship with food. I’ve been a big fan of food from the beginning. Food will always be there for you. Sometimes it waits too long for me to love it back by eating it that it spoils the relationship by turning green. Then I have to dump it and get a fresh new food. You should never keep a food past its expiration date thinking that it will get better with time. Sometimes I eat something that I know is going to give me trouble in the morning, but I eat it anyway. Who can resist such a hot tamale? I often wonder if food gets jealous of other food. Does the lettuce in the salad bowl look at the steak on my plate and think, “he likes steak more than he likes me!” You both have so much to offer, can’t I love you both? Some foods just don’t belong with other foods. They just don’t get along! And why is it that “cheating” on your diet feels so good? Ice cream always looks at me and says, “come on, big boy, you know you want to eat me!” So I give in even though I know that the steak and salad I just ate are going to find out I cheated on them with ice cream.
I guess if I am what I eat, then I’d have to say I’m pretty happy. I eat happy foods and drink happy drinks. I run a lot so I can stay close to a normal weight. I actually practice portion control too! I have one piece of advice for you to follow – nothing good will ever come from a Taco Bell drive-thru after midnight. You don’t want to wake up to that person you took home from the bar at closing time, and you don’t want to wake up to a Taco Bell hangover! Finally, if we are what we eat, then most men are pussies and most women are dicks!
I have three sons, the youngest of whom just turned 18. They are all now legal adults! Their mother and I divorced 16 years ago. They didn’t live with me but when we had time together, I did my best to help guide them to this point in their lives. I knew I had limited time with them, so I’ve often wondered how much influence I could have had over them. So I’m writing them this letter to give them my rules for living so they can improve upon my successes, avoid my mistakes, and live a life that will make their kids proud. I don’t know if my kids are proud of me, but I’m very proud of them!
When your mother and I divorced, I had a few well-meaning people warn me that children of divorce will have an extremely challenging life. They told me you would have trouble in school, trouble with relationships, have psychological and anger issues. Instead, you turned into very resilient children. You never became a “child of divorce.” Your school work was exemplary, you were active in sports, and when you found jobs, you exhibited the work ethic I hoped I would see from you. I want to believe I had something to do with that, but I want you to know I give your mother credit for the majority of it.
Now that you’re adults, I want to give you my rules for living a happy, productive life:
Laughter is the best medicine. When you learn to laugh at yourself, you can get through anything life throws your way. You’ve heard the saying, “you’ll look back on this and laugh one day.” Laugh today instead! Laugh so much that people wonder about your sanity. I gave the eulogy for my mother and I had my brothers and sisters and friends of the family laughing during the service. Sure we cried before, during and after the service, but if you can laugh through your tears you’ll be okay.
Be kind to everyone. whether they deserve it or not. I learned this rule a long time ago and I’m still trying to perfect it. One day, I was driving to work. The guy in front of me at the light would not turn right on red even though there was clearly no traffic. I honked at him and got him to go. I turned right and followed him into the parking lot at work. He was the CEO of the company! I now gently tap the horn only when necessary. Be kind to everyone you know or don’t know, because that person you don’t know now could be someone very important in your life later. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.
Don’t let pride get in your way. There will be many times where swallowing your pride is the best way to resolve a situation. Swallow hard and do the right thing. Be proud, but not prideful.
Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Honesty really is the best policy. When you lie to people, you create a divide between you and them. That lie will always keep you from closing that divide and prevent you from being close to them ever again. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is not true. What they don’t know hurts you. Cheating is a form of lying to yourself. If you think you can win by cheating, you have already lost. Stealing is wrong. I have no pearls of wisdom about that – it’s just wrong.
Love women just the way they are. I love women! I have more female friends than male friends! Don’t expect your logical mind to ever figure out women because they aren’t ruled by logic. You will drive yourself crazy if you question a woman’s motivation for doing something. It makes sense to them, so it doesn’t need to make sense to you! Don’t fight with a woman, because you will lose! Even if you win, you lose. Go with the flow, enjoy their company, treat them with respect, and always open the door for them (even if they could bench press the building).
Learn how to work a room. At any social gathering, it’s important to learn how to enter and exit conversations. If you’re at a cocktail party and you see someone nursing their drink and standing off to the side, talk to that person. Ask questions to find some common ground and talk the shit out of that topic. Don’t look around the room while you are talking to them just to see if there is someone else you’d rather talk to. When you are ready to move on, do it gracefully. Give them a firm handshake, look them in the eye and say, “It was great talking to you.”
Handle your finances wisely. Don’t use credit for consumer goods. If it’s something that will last longer than the payments use credit. This means you buy houses and cars with credit. You might have to use credit to furnish the house. You should never use credit for impulse purchase or for groceries. If you need to use credit to buy groceries, it’s because you are paying so much on your credit card bills that now you have to charge everything. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Don’t do it!
Love yourself. There will be many times in your life where you will not be proud of yourself. You will do something you’re ashamed of. You are not alone – this is human nature. As hard as we try, we can’t live a perfect life. When you mess up, learn from it and never do it again. Then, you have to forgive yourself and let it go. You can do this only if you love yourself and respect and value who your are. Loving yourself opens up your ability to love someone else and accepting them as they are. Then, when they fail to be their very best, you can be there to help them rather than scold them. Loving yourself lets you love others freely.
Friend quality is better than friend quantity. Having a few close friends who know you as well as you know them, and they love you anyway, is better than having a bunch of “friends.” Your best friends should be your spouse, your brothers, and a few other close friends you would trust with your life.
You aren’t the only one. There will come a time when you are surrounded by people who appear happy and successful and who seem to have it all figured out. When they are alone, they have doubts, fears and frustrations and they question why all those other people seem to have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out all the time. Everyone has doubts, fears and frustrations. You’re not alone.
If all else fails, follow your instincts. You have been given the gift of intelligence and good looks, thanks to yours truly, and you’ve proven that you’re moral, ethical, and caring individuals. But there will be times where you don’t know what to do. Your conscience will never lead you astray. If what you’re considering feels wrong, don’t do it.
Finally, if you could just do one thing, it should be “enjoy life.” If you use the above tools, you should be well on your way to enjoying life to the fullest. We are on this earth for a mere blink of an eye. I hope to live long enough to read what you want to pass on to your children.
Show of hands – who here has gone on a date with someone they met online? That’s what I thought, I’m not alone! Ten years ago, I met many women through my Wednesday night karaoke routine. Every Wednesday night (and some Mondays/Fridays/Saturdays), I would close the karaoke bar. My confidence was through the roof during this phase of my life! I mastered the art of meeting people, not just women, and striking up a conversation as if we had known each other for years. I still count a few of those people as my friends even though I don’t get out much anymore. But I learned that chicks dig a guy who can sing and who approaches them with confidence while making them laugh at the same time. I learned much about the art of conversation because I met so many people each week.
I tell you all this so you can understand how unbelievably horrible my date from hell came to be. In the Spring of 2011, I became single again. It took me until the fall to begin looking around at all the dating sites available online. I created a dating profile on a couple of sites and sent out a few messages. Two things surprised me. One, the women who sent me messages were absolutely not my type! I’ve read that people psychologically choose people who they see as being roughly as attractive as they feel they are. If that’s the case, then I must be extremely overweight and horribly ugly! That was the type of woman responding to me! The messages I would send out to the hot women went unanswered, so I assume they were at their computer saying, “what the fuck is this guy thinking?” The second thing that surprised me was, the profiles people put up were not exactly accurate! Shocker! After having a phone conversation, and after one meeting for coffee, most of the people I met just ended up boring me. I couldn’t make a connection with anyone!
And then, the date from hell entered my world. I will call her “Lucifer” because I can’t remember her name. We agreed to meet at a bar/restaurant about half way between our homes. I arrived slightly early as I always do, and I sat at the bar with a view of the door. She came in and we had the normal chit-chat for about one minute. She then said, “I’m hungry, can we order some food?” Well, I really wasn’t planning on spending that much time with her as I had already made up my mind in that first minute that she wasn’t someone I’m interested in. So I responded politely with, “I hear the chicken wings are good here.” I’m such a wimp! She said, “I think I want some chicken fingers.” Awesome! Maybe we can bond over chicken!
Then things got weird. As we waited for the chicken, she wouldn’t speak unless I asked her a direct question. Once the question was answered, she clammed up again. There was no, “I was born and raised on a turnip farm, and you?” It was just, “I grew up on a turnip farm.” Silence. Awkward pause. ”So, a turnip farm, huh? That must have been interesting.” ”Yeah it was.” Silence. Awkward pause. When the chicken arrived, we had that to talk about, so it was all good. ”So, how are your chicken fingers?” ”They’re good.” Silence. Awkward pause. Om nom nom nom. Then her cell phone rang. She couldn’t find it in her purse before it stopped ringing, but the call was from her son. She sat there staring at her phone for a few minutes obsessing over why he would be calling her. ”Maybe he’ll call back. I’m sure he’ll call back if it’s important. Did he leave a voicemail?” ”No. I don’t know why he called.” Silence. Awkward pause. ”I wonder why he called me.” ”I’m sure he’ll call back.”
At this point, I was wishing someone would call me and tell me my apartment was on fire and I was the only person on earth who was going to be able to save the puppies in all the other apartments. I finally just gave up and said, “Why don’t you just call him back?” ”Oh, do you mind? I really want to find out why he called.” ”Please, go call him. I’m good here.” So she reaches into her purse and pulls out her pack of cigarettes. I’ve dated people who smoked and I lived with a woman who smoked, but this go-around, I was making smoking a deal breaker! ”I thought your profile said you didn’t smoke.” ”Oh no, I smoke all the time – way too much.” Stunned silence on my part as I watched her take her smokes and her phone out to the designated area outside the bar. Roughly 10 minutes later, she comes back in and, without explanation, says “I think I have to go, is that okay?” ”Oh sure, that’s fine.” I was celebrating in my head that this night was mercifully going to end! ”Well it was nice meeting you, thanks for dinner.” And we’re back to stunned silence. ”You’re welcome.” No awkward pause this time – she was out the door! I sat there and started laughing. I’m sure the bartender thought I was crazy, but I was just so happy she was gone! I paid my tab and went home to see if there were any puppies who needed to be saved.
I now had a great story to tell people. One of the people I told was the next person I met online. This one was someone I thought was too hot to respond, but she did. After a week of e-mails and a two hour long phone call, we went on a date. We met at the bar next door to Go Bananas. I sat at the bar with a view to the door. She came in and she was even prettier in person than the one picture she posted online. We chatted for a few minutes, and then we went over to the comedy club. She sat down and picked up the limited food menu they had and said, “I think I want some chicken fingers.” If she could have kept a straight face, I would have believed her. I saw just a hint of a smile as she waited for my response and then it hit me – I told her that story among the many things we talked about on our week of e-mails and two-hour phone call and she remembered it and used it against me! I’m going to marry that woman! No, really, I am! This woman is Alana, and the only way I can get her to read my blog is if I mention her! I put her at the end, so now she has been forced to read a story she’s already heard. It took me a while, but now we’re even for the chicken finger joke!
Everyone says you don’t really get to know someone until after you live with them. You can take that two ways. One, the person you’re dating will reveal her true self after living with her for a while. Two, she’s going to find out about my true self too! That’s kind of scary! Only I know my true self and I’m my worst critic, so how can I let her see that guy? You are always on your best behavior during the dating stage. The gentleman opens the door for the lady, you call if you’re going to be late, you’re always in a good mood, and the most important rule is, NO belching or farting!
Alana and I spent a few dates in that “polite” stage, then we spent some time telling each other our deepest, darkest secrets. I think she was telling me what she thought would scare me away. This just caused me to tell her things I thought would scare her away. I found out rather quickly that she accepted me flaws and all, and I accepted her without judging her. We had this mutual, unspoken, agreement that we were getting and giving a new start to each other. It was like getting a do-over! The funny thing is, this acceptance of each other created a bond very quickly. We entered the “impolite” stage soon thereafter. That’s when I found out that you keep a woman who won’t fart in front of you, yet who laughs at my farts! Her laughter is what has saved her from the dreaded Dutch Oven.
As soon as I moved in, she did everything she could to make me feel at home. She helped set up the Man Cave in the finished basement. Then I found out that she sends me to The Cave so she can watch TV alone! This really is a good thing. I’d rather watch the shows I like and not be forced to watch The Bachelor in order to compromise with her! Every so often, I’ll go upstairs just to say hi. She is genuinely happy to see me every time. Forced togetherness causes resentments. Being able to be home with her while doing what I like to do without her makes me want to be with her more! This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings – “how can I miss you if you won’t go away?” Our “alone” time makes our together time all the better.
There are many things I’ve learned about her since moving in. Whenever I do something that makes her laugh, she makes me do it again. She’s like a little kid saying “do it again, do it again!” So I do it again and she laughs harder than she did the first time. There are things I have repeated for months now just because it makes her laugh! Because she is so competitive about everything, I’ve also learned to let her win most of the time! She has found out that I sometimes need to vent about something that frustrated me. She listens and understands my venting has nothing to do with her – I just need someone to care that I’m frustrated. She makes these faces and says “you’re scaring me, Baby.” I know she’s joking and that helps defuse the situation. She realizes that once the venting is done, I’m happy again.
Life with me can’t be a bed of roses, but it’s been pretty spectacular so far! We have so much respect for each other that when disagreements or misunderstandings occur, we work them out very quickly. She figured out the trick to staying happy with me is to not take me too seriously. I figured out the trick to staying happy with her is to just let Alana be Alana. We fell in love with each other after we allowed each other to just be ourselves. Neither of us wants to change anything about the other. I guess that means no matter what else we learn about each other over the rest of our lives, that’s going to be okay too!
I got married when I was twenty years old. Everyone said we were too young to know what we were doing. They were probably right, but we were married for 15 years, had three wonderful boys, and currently have a good ex-spouse relationship. She took the plunge relatively quickly and remarried a few years after our divorce. I spent the next 15 years being either single or in relationships that weren’t going to lead to marriage. I wasn’t about to get married again. Not that being married was horrible, but I wasn’t ready to commit over that 15 year period.
As I dated, I found that there were three types of first dates:
- The date that can’t end quickly enough. I had these types of dates quite often! I went on dates with women who wouldn’t talk and who wouldn’t stop talking. I went on dates with women who claimed to be casual smokers but smoked a pack an hour. I went on dates that were supposed to be just a quick drink but ended up with them ordering food that they assumed I would pay for! I even went on a blind date because a mutual friend thought we’d hit if off. During the date, I began to question if my friend really knew me at all because this person was not my type at all. This is the kind of dating that leads to hilarious stories in the future.
- The date that leads to more dates. These types of dates gave me some hope that I might be able to meet someone normal after all. They were a good enough first date to warrant another. So you go out again and learn more about each other that you can’t learn during the first date “interview.” It might lead to more dates as you haven’t found anything causing you to turn and run as far away as possible – yet. Eventually, something happens that makes you reevaluate this person and decide it’s best to walk away. This is the kind of dating that makes you hopeful in the beginning, but you know in the back of your mind that it’s not really what you’re looking for.
- The date where you find “the one.” This is the date that is so obviously different from all the others that you go home alone wishing you didn’t have to. This is the date that tells you your life has just changed irreversibly because you just met your future. This is the type of date that made me want to ask Alana to marry me. Not on that date, mind you, but cautious optimism became outright giddiness. This is the kind of date you get to have once, if you’re lucky.
On our first date, Alana made a very subtle, straight-faced, joke about one of the stories in Date Type #1 that I told her about over the phone. You had to be there, but let me assure you she caught me off guard. The date was at Go Bananas, which is a great first date place to go. You get to spend some time talking while waiting for the comedians, then you get to see what makes them laugh. I already knew I could make her laugh because we talked for hours on the phone before we even went on the date. She loved my sense of humor and I loved making her laugh. A comedy club was the only natural choice for our date. After the club, we went next door to the bar. She spent the majority of that time flipping me off and saying “fuck you!” I knew I had either met my match or met the female version of me. This date took place in late November.
I’m 50 years old – she’s 36. I’m a Reagan Republican – she’s a Clinton Democrat. I’m an early bird – she’s a night owl. I’m a recovering Catholic – she’s Jewish. I could list all the ways we’re different but none of that matters. Over the next few months, we became inseparable. We started out by spending just the weekend together. Little by little, it became Friday through Sunday then Thursday through Monday. Then, it became odd to be at my apartment alone for even one night. I loved being alone in that apartment when I leased it in May 2010. I couldn’t wait for the lease to end in 2011. We became “roommates” for good on June 1st.
To be continued . . .