It is that point in the party where everyone is leaning in a little too closely and speaking a little too loudly. We have stopped talking about middle school and started talking about boobs.
“Mine are bigger.” She tells me. I don’t really need to answer. First of all MINE are bigger but second of all I don’t really need to have this conversation.
Earlier in the evening the two of us were sitting together by the fire pit strategizing about our party plan. We both anticipating an early night. A few hours later I am saying my good byes while she is comparing size.
“Mine are bigger” she insists leaning in towards me until we are chest to chest. They may not be bigger, but they are definitely more firm. Jab. Jab. Jab. I try to pull away from her but the counter is behind me.
We are here to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. We have made it through Canadian Trivia (6 time zones, Kiefer Sutherland, Newfoundland) and discussed what the fuck to do about white privilege. (who the fuck knows) We have each said the word sore-y at least 20 times. We have devoured turkey and gravy and politely disposed of a weird blue cheese walnut crostini (sounds good but don’t try it.) We have asked after each other’s children and businesses. I have ranted about the anti-semitic history of cotillion (which it turns out I have completely fabricated.)
I have talked about vulnerability and death with my friend who is poised and stoic.
So many of these things leave me spinning. Racism, death, Kiefer Sutherland. They are all pools of mystery. There are so many things that confuse me. I find myself muttering “you don’t know what you don’t know but you know that you don’t know it.”
In response I hear:
“I KNOW that mine are bigger” as a pair of beautiful breasts slam into my sternum.
At this point I feel I have to stand up for my boobs because they can’t stand up for themselves. I decide to stick with the facts.”My bra size is a 40G” Although swaying she is not swayed. “It’s my boots.” she tells me. If I didn’t have my boots on yours would be bigger.
“I think you are getting confused between boots and boobs.” I offer.
“Yes. If I didn’t have my boots on your boobs would be bigger.”
We don’t seem to have worked this out.
Maybe things will be clear next year. Until then we can blame Canada. And buy some bigger boots.
It was 4:30 on a Thursday and Steve and I were shut in the bathroom to avoid the two and four legged beasts in our house. It wasn’t supposed to be intimate or life-changing. This was the check in kind of sex. The type that says “I remember you.” A quick release and a promise of more to come.
Instead I ended on the floor unable to see or stand. My mind blown.
The pain in my head went way beyond childbirth. There was no number on the scale for what I felt. The clutching at the back of my neck radiated up to the crown of my head where clearly someone was stabbing me with a butcher knife. It didn’t take long for Steve to realize that this was agony not ecstasy.
Within three minutes the pain was completely gone. No side effects remained…I went through the list with the nurse on the phone no dizziness, no visual problems. I was expecting her to release me. To head down the stairs to the frantic dog and the warmly lit kitchen. Instead she sent me to the ER.
“It might be a stroke.” She told me. And suddenly that sounded right.
Last year Cards Against Humanity released a deck of cards around Hanukkah. Each card had a joke about jews. I carried one around in my wallet for a few weeks. “A headache that is definitely cancer.” I was a living punchline.
As we called friends to watch the kids and told them to make their own tacos I reassured myself. Even if it was a stroke I was not dead. As I walked to the car I began to see spots in my right eye. I reassured myself that it wasn’t an even quadrant of my visual field. My vision was poor in the best of times. But the evidence was mounting. I had had a stroke. I squeezed my fist to measure the relative strength in my hands. The right one seemed weaker. They both seemed weak, but the right one was weak-ER.
Steve was silent as he drove down Sixth Ave. The canopy of trees had lost their leaves and the giant houses were displaying their humongous lit wreaths. Before I moved to Denver I didn’t know that lit wreaths came in 30 foot diameters. But they do. And evidently they come in sets of two.
As the sky darkened the lights came into sharper focus and I tested my eyes squeezing one shut then the other. Were they the same? No. Certainly not.
At the hospital we went through the endless check in procedure and I reassured myself that I was clearly not emergent. At least judging by the attitude of the staff. My blood pressure was 157 over 101. “Very high” the med tech told me matter of factly. I thanked her for the update and my sarcasm seemed to be broken as well because she told me I was very welcome.
Steve tried to distract me with the text string he was having with Oliver.
“We have arrived at the hospital and mama is feeling good.”
“Sheryl will be there around 7.”
“Remember to take the dog out.”
“We are in a room expecting the doctor.”
wait for it….
Leo on the other hand is filling my screen with stings of emojis and heart beats. Pledges of “I love you.” And inquiries into my health. I am reminded of their differences. I am thinking about how much, stoic or emotional, both boys need their Mama.
I am pledging to eat only lettuce. I am committing to walking 16 miles a day. I am wondering how much my weight is factoring into my fear and also my fate.
The doctor finally makes it into the room after we have made it through a nursing shift change.
He comes in and perches on the side of my bed. For the 7th time I describe the headache. Its intensity. Its short lived time frame. I explain my potentially psychosomatic vision problems.
“What were you doing when the headache started?”
I am sure it is in the notes. I have told this story to everyone, including the wrinkled raisin woman in the wheelchair who didn’t speak english.
“I was having sex.”
“Ah.” he says. “This is called coital cephalalgia.” “Sometimes it is nothing. Sometimes it causes a brain bleed with an increase in blood pressure.” “I don’t think I can let you leave here without a cat scan.”
Instead of staying in the moment I have leapt ahead. “What if it is a brain bleed?” “What then?” Somehow he is willing to travel to the future with me. As Steve tells me to take it one step at a time the MD is happy to engage me.
“We go in through your vascular system and just zap it.” I channel Oliver. “OK.”
He orders the cat scan, tells us it will be 90 minutes for the radiologist to read it and he will be back to confer afterwards.
Outside of our sliding door I hear someone ask him. “Is the stroke alert?”
“Yes.” He answers.
I squeeze my eyes and my hands one at a time, waiting for paralysis to set in on my right side.
I refuse the wheelchair when the transport team comes to walk me down the hall to the cat scan machine. It is a huge donut in a room mercifully free of florescent lights. My escort seems put off by the number of people in the room.
“Do you have time to squeeze in a quick head?” He asks them.
I want to ask if he likes being able to squeeze in a quick head but the humor doesn’t seem to reach my lips. Another sign of a stroke, clearly.
Five minutes later I am walking (maybe with a little lilt?) back to room ten.
For the first time I swing my legs onto the bed. I am giving in. I am no longer a mama and a wife and a woman who makes inappropriate sexual jokes to strangers. I am a patient. I am a stroke victim. I am someone whose brain is not healthy enough for sex.
We wait. We text the boys.
“OK” Oliver tells us about our updated ETA.
Things must be OK there. I tell Steve.
The third nurse of the day slides into the room between the scratchy curtain and the edge of the door.
“Cat scan looks good.” He tells us.
And there it is.
No doctor, no radiologist. No admonishments about my weight or advice about our sex life. I am no longer a patient. I am back to being me. I wonder why it is one or the other. But not for long…because as we walk out of the hospital hand in hand I say to Steve:
“That was anti-climactic.”
“In more ways than one.” He responds.
My hands feel strong. My eyes are equal and reactive. My walk is straight.
Most importantly my ability to laugh at poor sexual humor is intact.
This is not my first blog post. I know that very few of you clicked that link, so I will boil down De Botton’s beautifully reasoned piece with less lyricism and more lyrics.
Fields of Gold. People used to marry to get more fields (or gold, or titles or whatever.) That was the marriage of reason.
More than a Feeling. Now people marry because of feeling. The more reckless (you are 18 year old) or dangerous (you are going to be the one to heal someone bitter and broken) it feels the more it stands in contrast to reason. We think this is good. Reason was old school, like in olden days before there was even school to be old. So feeling is new school.
Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places. We tell ourselves that the magical feeling we seek is happiness. We believe that happiness comes from love. De Botton calls bullshit on that. Our first experience of love comes from our childhood. Each of us, in our own special way, had a fucked up childhood. So for us, love is familiar, and familiarly fucked up. We seek people who recreate old patterns of abandonment, or who need fixing, like many of our family members did. According to ADB “We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.” Double bummer.
Crazy for Feeling so Lonely. For those of us that don’t seek or can’t find partners with whom to lug around the heavy baggage of our youth there are other ways to choose poorly. Far less elusive than happiness is lust and excitement. Particularly on the heels of the loneliness of single life we can feel meaningfully drawn to someone who we just meet. Someone who in a moment makes us forget pain and experience pleasure. Sadly, as anyone who has been in a long term relationship knows, that feeling of pleasure is fleeting. Marriage doesn’t play itself out in a single moment of passion. It deals with shit, literal and figurative, and even worse than that it deals with the monotony of every day life. We were drawn towards a dramatic solution to a problem we never articulated. And now we drive screaming kids in mini vans.
Got to take it on the Otherside. ADB says none of this matters. He says we all have this problem…and because of this we would have this problem with any other partner as well. We should be content with our discontent. He tells us to stay married to the wrong person. Except he tells us in a more lyrical way.
We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning. We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.
Now. What. ?
Lets grieve together. If you are single you can grieve the loss of any sort of romantic idealism. There is no one out there to make whole, or to make you whole. There will not be musical montages of trying on funny hats and dabbing each other’s noses with ice cream.
Or (and this is where the partnered up people and the single people can join in their grief together), maybe there will be musical montages but they will be much longer and be scored by Phillip Glass rather than Wilson Phillips. The melody will be lost as you sit at the table feeling bored by both your partner and your dinner. Its like you married the goddamned chicken breast and broccoli for all of the inspiration your partner offers you. Or maybe it is Meatloaf (here let’s continue both the music and the food analogies) where this both inscrutable mix of meat and his crazy excited sing-screaming is confusing. Meatloaf is supremely unhelpful as you just try to get yourself, your kids, and your dog through another damn day.
This is how the grieving sounded in my head:
This article is not about me. I had a happy childhood and sought someone stable and loving. (Not that first guy…obviously I married the wrong person first, but THIS time…this time.) Who is ADB to say that WE ALL picked the wrong partner. That ONLY someone who is comfortable being single and waiting half a lifetime can find true love. What an arrogant ass. What is the work around if he is right… I have an idea… I could ditch Steve and be super choosy about the next one. When I picked Steve I was looking for someone who was left handed, had curly hair, could make an explosion noise, and had a job. I settled for two of those characteristics. I could hold out for all four. Or even a different four, perhaps one of them could be about generosity, or like civic mindedness. I don’t have half a lifetime left to wait…but I could give it a few years. I’m happy with Steve. I mean no one is happy, but I have a high approximation of happiness with Steve. So what if I keep him. What if I keep him but totally change our lifestyle (after the kids are grown of course) we could, like, live a life of migrant volunteerism. Steve’d be good at that…he rarely complains I could find the places that need us and he could do the water hauling. I know that wouldn’t work. I am way too lazy. And I never leave bed. It is terrible that I lead so much of my life from bed. I am writing this, the first thing I have written in four days, FROM BED. You know why? Because I always thought someone would come along and get my ass out of bed (after, of course, we enjoyed some bed together.) That person would want the best for me, and beyond wanting, would actually teach me how to want the best for myself. I feel it now. There is only one person who can get me out of bed…and that is me…and I married the wrong man. So now I have to worry about my weight, my work, and my waning romanticism.
Fine. So we have accepted the death of romanticism. We have married the wrong person. I ask again.
If you are single you are a step ahead. You can figure out what particular kind of crazy brings out less of your own crazy. Then pick that person. If you are prepared for less perfection, and less poetry you can probably come out OK. Simple.
For those of us married (to the wrong person) lets huddle up. I am thinking that we try a few things.
Spend a week and noticing some things about your behavior and your expectations. Take note of times that you feel you are being charming and quirky. Quirky is a codeword for crazy. Pay attention when your voice rises above normal speaking level. Anger is a big clue for the proximity of crazy. Now you might think it is your partner’s crazy that made you yell. Give it a moment. Write it down. Come back to it. Could it have been YOUR crazy? Possibly? I thought so. Do you have a scorecard? The one where you wrote thank you notes +1 (like you ALWAYS do +1,000) ,you made the doctor’s appointment +1 and frankly were the only one to WORRY about the MD at all +25, and…and… Take a look at that card. How does it make you feel? Bitter? Self- righteous? Does it energize you or deflate you? Just go ahead and notice. Are you muttering under your breathe? What are you muttering? Say it slowly out loud. Let your laments be spoken in a full voice. Listen to yourself. Don’t change anything.
Have your partner do all that stuff too. Don’t change anything.
After a week come together. Look at all of the evidence you have collected “against” your partner, the stories you can tell about yourself. You are both crazy. You are both hard to live with. Neither of you is pulling your weight in the areas of expertise of the other. Don’t change anything.
Don’t change anything. Don’t change yourself, your partner, your marital status. We are all fucking crazy. If you left for a do-over you will bring your crazy with you, and meet up with fresh new crazy. Doesn’t that sound tiring?
Only Steven Stills (of Nash & Young) wrote the chorus that should be the refrain of our relationships. Yet they still got it wrong. In their song they tell us that “if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with.” But we know the truth about “the one you love” He is most certainly a disappointment. She is most certainly out of her mind. So maybe we should propose a re-write. Something about having to settle to be able to settle down. It may not be lyrical but it could be lyrics. ADB tells us “Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.”
The longer you wait the harder it gets. Literally and figuratively. The expectations rise, as do the sexpectations.
It has been seven days since I produced any fresh new text. And three days since I have produced any fresh new sex. Both of these counts are significantly longer than average.
With each hour that passes I become more tense, and it becomes more difficult to produce anything. Somehow the quickie, usually a low barrier for entry feels insufficient. The post most be meaningful and humorous. The acrobatics in bed numerous. This is tiring. Even to type about. In both areas performance anxiety creeps in where it rarely rears its head.
The solution to both problems is the same.
Forget the intricate weave of insight and intercourse. Let go of lingerie and lyrics. Ignore the verse and vigor. Lower that bar down to the floor.
Step 1. Write a shitty blog post.
Step 2. Have some crummy sex.
It is likely that one of these activities will exceed my expectations. At this point all signs say it will be the sex.
All you need to do is look at Oliver and Leo to see that our sex life is not a new thing. In the early days we couldn’t keep our hands off of each other. Each road trip had arms crossed and fingers on thighs, each nap was a tangle of body parts. It didn’t take long for that to cool. Kids, jobs, house renovations, we found our thrills and escapes in places other than each other’s bodies. At least I did.
Then one morning it changed…
I heard him pad softly into the room mere minutes after I had shut off the light. I held still. As he climbed into bed I felt myself involuntarily stiffen then relax as his chaste cheek kiss meant I didn’t need to worry about having sex tonight.
Steve and I were a fair way past the honeymoon period with two small ubiquitous boys.
I felt a vague sense of guilt about my physical withdrawal from my husband but I soothed it by talking to friends over wine and tea. They were tired too, they were nursing and snuggling and tending to kids. They were stretched literally and figuratively. We excused each other. Our bodies were not our own, but neither were they our husband’s.
The next morning Steve was making us family brunch with both boys underfoot when I came downstairs after sleeping in. Usually, he played records and worked at the griddle, frying pan and cutting board at once. The silence registered in the back of my mind as I slipped my arms around him for a front to back hug. It was his turn to stiffen. Moving around the island I hopped up on our custom cherry stools and started picking at the raspberries that he had begun spooning out on the plates.
“What’s wrong?” I asked him. It wasn’t with tenderness, but closer to an accusation. I knew what was wrong.. He asked for so little from me. None of it through words, but a physical appeal, and I had been rebuffing him for an unreasonably long time. Instead of apologizing, or leading him upstairs to really apologize I picked a fight; going on the offensive was a lot easier than dealing with the reality of our shrinking sex life.
“I can’t believe you are pissed at me. You know how tired I have been, it is totally unfair to be angry because I wouldn’t have sex with you last night.”
“It’s not that…” Here he trailed off. I was just revving up, gaining ammunition. He never talks to me about what he is feeling, blah blah. Somehow I didn’t move forward with my next line of attack. I saw the slump of his shoulders as he flipped the pancakes that he made from scratch without his usual flair. I could do it, I could beat him down until he was left apologizing to me, but this time I didn’t.
I had expectations for him as a father and as a husband. I wanted him to work full time, do the majority of the cooking, tickle and toss our kids, take out the trash, and listen patiently as I ranted about how obsessed everyone was with strollers. I felt entitled to a Sherpa, a chef, and a cheerleader.
What did he want from me? It was a short list. To feel as though he could make me happy. Secondarily he wanted to be satisfied in bed.
That was something I could give him.
I know the catalyst to connection for my husband is sex. For me it is conversation. It doesn’t seem fair that I justified withholding sex for days or weeks at a time. I would never accept a husband who ignored my attempts at conversation for a week. That would be ridiculous. I ignored my friends’ assertion that sex on Saturdays was all we needed to offer. I silently set myself the goal of sex five times a week.
To make it easier to get started I decided I would call these more frequent sexual interludes “quickies” requiring less intense attention to timing, mood setting and foreplay. A sort of in and out if you will. I would shut the door while the kids were watching TV and lead him into the bathroom. I set my alarm 5 minutes early and woke him naked. We decided to include a vibrator in our every day sex, ensuring that we could both be satisfied in a reasonable amount of time.
Seven years later, we have sex 5 to 7 times a week. Nothing like the tangled sheets of our early days, but from what I can tell from book club far more than our peers.
He feels the kind connections that he craves. He looks at me with love, strokes my hair and asks me questions. For less than thirty minutes a day I have my chef and Sherpa. Beyond that I have a friend and supporter whose physical affection I no longer rebuke. I also have orgasms at the hand of my husband, and that makes us both happy.
– See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/how-to-be-married-with-kids-and-still-have-frequent-sex-hlg/#sthash.QgQ3Fjm7.dpuf
My husband and I have a lot of sex. Better than that we have a lot of great sex. In the past month we made three purchases that improved an already good thing. Here comes the affiliate link disclaimer. There are no links. I am not getting paid. Except in the odd knowledge that I might be adding to your personal pleasure in the future.
Coconut oil. This is not a new tip from me. Its great on furniture and penises. It is smooth and delicious in stir fries and vaginas. There is no need to choose…we keep one tub in the bedroom and another in the kitchen. The only downside is that a coconut oil end cap display at Cosco can make your face turn red. Just grab a jar and keep pushing (the cart.) Buy the best lube here.
2. The very best vibrator. First a general plug. If you are on antidepressants like I am and want to have a mutual climax in under an hour then a few short cuts are necessary. To my friends who worry that their partner will feel less accomplished with a little extra help…screw it. Watching you feel pleasure is more important to the people who love you than taking 100% credit for it. Using it well enhances things for both parties. Helping you come more quickly opens up lots of extra slots in the schedule for sex. I’m sure your partner would sign on for that. If you are slow to come without toys there is a chance that you begin to worry that it will never happen. That anxiety might make you shy away from sex in general. Knowing that you have a magic bullet will help you sign on and dive in. So speaking of that magic bullet I would like to recommend this one. It is rechargeable, small enough to use between your bodies, and powerful enough to bring you to orgasm quickly if you need. As a bonus it doesn’t sound as if you are filling a cavity in the dentists office. The only cavity that is being filled is in bed. (I want to break the fourth wall for a minute…as if a blog even has a fourth wall. a. it was excellent to “inset this into the post” when I loaded the image and b. the shiny blond woman who has worked next to me at the coffee shop for 9 months and only once spoken to me when I dumped tea all over her DID see me spending time on a sex toy website. So even if you don’t enjoy this post I sure as hell did.)
3.A new mattress. So this is a big ticket item. So big that it took Steve and I almost a decade to decide to make the big move. Every night (and many afternoons) we are glad that we did. Like about a third of the population we prefer memory foam mattresses for sleeping and to reduce back pain. They two downsides. They heat my husband up…and not in a good way. He runs 110 degrees on that thing which drives me to the very edge of the bed. The other downside is that they dampen your sexlife. Literally take the bounce out of it. Like 70s music we have found that reverb is a good thing. Enter purple. Through magic it keeps Steve cool, is made of natural materials (food grade if you ever need a midnight snack). It claims a spot in my top three products because it strikes the balance between perfect body support for sleep and the rebound you want during more active bed activities. If you’ve got an extra 1,000 bucks lying around I encourage you to try this out. There is no pressure. They come pick the thing up for free if you don’t like it. I can’t imagine that is possible.
There they are. My three most important tools for a great sexlife.
Today I have the debut guest post on the site Making Midlife Matter writing about women’s desires to erase the laugh lines of life from their faces with a ubiquitous injection.
My article is a lightly edited version of an anti-Botox post I wrote in the fall. The day I published the original on my blog (Don’t read it, read the one on the new site…fewer typos for me and more traffic for them…) I met a friend for lunch. She is not a regular reader (I KNOW and I STILL eat with her…but I don’t buy her lunch) I asked her what she thought about plastic surgery and she floored me with this one. “I am thinking about having my lips done. My vaginal lips.”
Four responses crowded my brain at once
What. The. Fuck.
By the time they are down there no one cares what it looks like anyways.
Other than Georgia O’Keefe I don’t know many people that consider vaginas to be as beautiful as flowers.
I can’t wait to get this on my blog. (Maybe I should buy her lunch.)
I spat out something like “Fuck my ugly vagina blog down there.” It was her time to be confused. After a few calming sips of herbal tea I was ready to try again. I went with my most uplifting rebuttal:
By the time he (in her case) is down there he isn’t thinking about what your vagina LOOKS like. He is pot committed. I mean, he is already all in. What IS it with the poker. He is ready to poke-her. Oh god the tea isn’t working. I decided to cash in my chips and stopped screeching my outrage.
She is calm as she responds. “The surgery has a 90% success rate.”
I am less calm. “Ninety percent??? What could the other 10% feel like.”
I needed more than a few sips of tea as I contemplated these women, propped on pillows, swollen in pain, watching Downtown Abbey and slamming tequila shooters. These were the 90% success women. The other 10% were mangled, numb, or unable to come. Probably all three. Even tequila and the dowager countess would be at a loss with their loss.
Finally I calmed down enough to talk about the upside of plastic surgery. If someone is fixated on a particular part of themselves that can be “cured” by a simple surgery why not pay for that confidence. We do a version of this when we wax our legs and put on heels.
Make up has been around for over 6,000 years. A little injection, insertion, snip or tuck is simply progress. Or so the argument goes. I don’t even brush my hair so it comes as no surprise that I am arguing the extreme case for comfort over cosmetics.
A few weeks later at a “Ladies Mexican Fiesta” fundraiser for our public school I bring up the topic to a handful of women in the kitchen. I told you tequila would figure into this.
One sane woman walked out. The rest of us, various shades of blonde, debated the lip surgery. One or two never got past the idea that we were talking about lips that live beneath our nose despite my repeated cries of “VAGINAL lips.” More party goers seemed open to the idea than I would have guessed. I trod the five house home in my clogs and wondered what the ravages of time and hopefully other ravages have done to us.
What it comes down to down there is that the middle aged vagina shows it’s story the way the middle aged face does. Kids and love and lust have all left their mark. Why would we erase that?
[Tweet theme=”basic-white”]the middle aged vagina shows it’s story the way the middle aged face does.[/Tweet]
What do you do when you show up to a fancy party alone in sneakers and a fleece covered in cat hair? Find the nearest object of your attraction and try out one of these can’t lose pick up lines.
Hold up your foot and ask “Do you want to touch my aglet now, or save it for tonight?” If you are met with confusion circle your foot to get your sneaker laces dancing and explain that the aglet is the hard part of the lace that stands up when you excite it like this.
Lean in close and stare deeply into the space between a hotties eyes and declare : Your glabella is so smooth, can I stroke it?”
Pick three cat hairs off of your black fleece top while asking: “This white hair, this orange hair, and this grey hair all came from the same cat. Is it a boy or a girl?” When your conquest looks to you for more information tell him/her “There are two colors/ x chromosome, so any cat with three colors is ALL GIRL…” Best to purr invitingly.
“Do you have synesthesia? It is when people can hear, taste, and feel color. I have it and I can conclusively say you are RED HOT.”
Stick your finger out from the top of your forehead and nuzzle/repeatedly bump your target with it. “Did you know the national animal of Scotland is a unicorn?” Best results come when you speak with an unidentifiable accent.
Offer a refill of wine while saying “My finger fits perfectly in the punt…does yours?”
Mutter “I’m not drunk I’m brilliant.” Repeatedly. When you catch the right someone’s eye explain: “Repeating sentences under your breath is a sign of genius…Albert did it right out until his patent days.”
Find a silver fox and say “Ramjit Raghav became a father at 94… I bet we could break his record.”
Approach anyone interesting who is using an iPhone and tell them “Cleopatra lived closer to the invention of the iPhone than she did to the building of the Great Pyramid. She and I are like sisters. And I am the younger one.”
Offer up this nugget to another hungry guest “Vending machines are twice as likely to kill you than a shark is…want to live dangerously and split at Twix?”
“Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas….I know what I would do with a big banana.”
“An octopus has three hearts. You are making me feel like an octopus.”
You will be walking out the door with a silver haired hottie sharing a bottle of wine and Twix bar while speaking in brogue.
I am writing about my vagina for fuck’s sake. But still it is tough times on the table, and I am not yet in the stirrups.
I sit in my miserable paper robe, called “huge” by the chipper weighing woman, but barely closing with its mismatched ties. It doesn’t have enough slack to cover me.
When the doctor breezes in she is younger than I am. This should not be a surprise, but it is. She sits on her wheelie chair and leans agains the wall casually. She is inviting me to confide in her.
Here is my list: strange growths in private places (I’m so glad I have a husband), leaking pee when I sneeze cough, laugh or exercise (great excuse to skip the work out), perpetually lumpy breast tissue (super appealing).
She shrugs off the bumpy breasts as she feels me up. Peering down and then up my gown I see her shiny hair without a touch of grey as she assesses my garden of growth. She is complimentary about the thorough type and distribution of my skin abnormalities, but pronounces them benign and moves on to the main event.
The pap is the best part. Except of course when she says “Lots of pressure, lots and lots of pressure” and I can just make out a dull sensation.
“Have you heard of vaginal mesh?” she asks, her head between my legs.
“Why yes, I have always wanted to use my vagina as an excuse to both sew and sue.”
“Right” she replies. “Let’s wait until they have worked out some of the lawsuits…you will get much worse and then maybe it will be worth the risk.”
[Tweet theme=”basic-white”]“Why yes, I have always wanted to use my vagina as an excuse to both sew and sue.”[/Tweet]
“Certainly!” she sings back at me with enthusiasm. “People talk about the mood swings, the hot flashes and the lower libido, but the most pronounced part of menopause is the atrophy of vaginal muscles.”
It is not every day that I feel this sexy.
My first son slipped out at 5 pounds seven weeks early. The silver lining of a premature birth was a terribly tight vaginal lining. Other than stretchy boobs from nursing my body felt pretty much as it had before. It was the second son that created the vast cavern in which my husband can mine. Who knows what treasure awaits. I try to remember that it is the big brain in the big head of my beautiful baby that brought me all of this bounty. Most of the time that helps.
Later, when my Steve has me laughing in (and wetting) our bed after somehow managing to enjoy my cave of a vagina I feel grateful for my moderately saggy vagina and its small amount of pee. I have always prided myself on being a bit of slacker above the belt. I am generally relaxed. Now my vagina reflects my true nature. Soft, easygoing, and utterly without primp and polish.
I am not a vain woman. My makeup includes mismatched nail polish and haphazardly applied sunscreen. In a world where my dentist offers Botox as long as teeth whitening I still consider it an add on to accept the flouride treatment. While my friends talk about fixing their vaginal lips and tightening things up with a stitch I nod with support…and realize I will continue without it. It is the love of my husband and birth of my kids that created this excess space. My fix for the floppiness is to screw my hasband AND the scalpel.
My Happy Place
Things could be worse, I could pee more, bring my husband less pleasure, and have the promise of prosecution in my private parts.
Steve is hot, has a job that he likes/loves depending on the month, does 100% of our cooking, 75% of our housework, is incredible with our kids, makes me laugh, brings me tea in bed, and drives me around when I ask him to.
In addition to my charm, excellent parenting philosophy, and decidedly good dowry I have a few flaws. I am obese, grow strange things off of my back, am super lazy, and require a fair amount of attention, wait I mean space, no I meant attention, actually space (and the ability for my partner to read my mind as well as my moods.)
I tell you this not to cast myself as an ogre…but to show that in many measurable ways I married up. It is true that Steve and I complement each other well yet he is not the only example of me advancing in the batting order. If you go all the way back to high school you can check my track record. My boyfriends, and the boys waiting in line to be my boyfriend were always above my paygrade. In high school I had a friend ask how I, a 7 (I was thinner then) had landed all the 10s in our class.
I haven’t quite distilled a formula, but it is a mix of strategy where most people hope for magic, truth when most people paint pretty pictures, asking for what I want, and the important distinction of not thinking of men as women with penises.
1. Have lots of guy friends.
You never interview for your dream job without practicing. Hanging out with guys, having days where you watch football, drive to new places, try curling, and talk about weird science stuff instead of who is dating who is both interesting and keeps you ready for a date. No guy really wants to talk about his relationship with his mother on a first date. Or at least not the guy you want to marry.
2. Leave your house.
Head out into the world without surrounding yourself by girlfriends. Unless you like electricians (and I must say, they are a great trade) and want to wire your house for all new lighting you must leave. Go to a concert. Get a dog and go to the dog park. Go to a bar. The challenge doesn’t stop there. Once you are out of your house you need to talk to people. It doesn’t have to be the cute shaggy guy in the corner. Try the dude next to him. Warm up by talking to the bartender, it is her job to talk back. But I repeat. Hit the streets alone. Your wing woman is more likely to squee about the Ryans on screen than talk to the Ryan right beside you.
3. Treat each errand as an opportunity.
Sure the postal dude has a wedding ring, but what about the guy behind you in line? Ordering at a counter? Ask him what’s good to eat, or offer your opinion. You are stuck in a chicken salad rut, you want to spice it up. What would he suggest? He might look at you as if you were asking him to cheat on a test, or he might engage. Do I think this will likely end in a date? No. No I do not. But it is possible. It is also practice in staying open to people. Staying open when you are ready to quit this miserable search is the single best thing you can do to stop being single. It helps to have a little fun along the way. And maybe try a new sandwich too.
4. Join shit.
Go on a group hike, go to a tweet up, start a club. Once I left the target rich environment of high school and college (and got divorced from my college boyfriend) I had to create spaces where I might meet someone. I started a poker night, I created a social service arm of my alumni association, I volunteered at art events.. I made quite a few friends whom I treated as gateways to other more potent friends. Then I went so far as to open a bar to meet a guy. I don’t mean I was there at the door at four pm. I mean I built a bar, with booze and inventory and point of sale. Which was not the point. Finally I found a way to bring the potential partners to me. I have to admit, it worked a little too well. I was pretty slutty (a combination of strategy and having been in an unsatisfying relationship for 8 years.) Thats what the bar fostered. I mean. not my bar in particular, just the late night bar scene. It led to hooking up. Sometimes with dinner. When I got serious about finding a real partner and not a fling I got a dog. And started hanging out at the dog part at 5:30, which is when the people with jobs would go. That strategy worked. What else is like a dog park? The specialty beer store. At 6pm. The counter at the best brunch spot at 9:30 on Saturday. 10:30 is too late- those are slugs. 8:00 is all the breeders. 9/9:30 is good. The coffee shop at 2. Sit at a big table. Let the other tables fill, invite people to join you. Practice staying open.
Now you are on the date. This first date is the best time to let your freak flag fly. Mix it up. Some funny stories of cousins peeing off porches, a little bit about what you are reading/listening to, a few questions for him that are not too personal or pushy. Then go for it. Tell the truth.
1. About you.
Don’t put him on the spot about his life and history, tell him why he won’t like you. Even if you sound a bit creepy. Whats the worst that will happen? This will be your last date…that is excellent news, now you aren’t wasting time on someone that won’t like you in the long run. The best case scenario? He convinces you that you are right for him. He can deal with your rabid Patriots fandom. Its good to mix in quirks that are not so scary…football fanatic, with legitimate dealbreakers- in therapy and medicated for depression. Sure if he has a prejudice about mental illness you might be able to educate him and do a service for the world, but I’m guessing he won’t be your life partner. So put it out there. Religion, politics, money. Talk about it. Why all the fluff on first dates? This kind of truthful intensity It makes things go faster. Both the date and the relationship. If it sounds like to much try on a bit of it.
2. About him.
When you do ask him questions make them a balance of specific and open ended. Specific to help prompt him, and open ended so you get to hear more. Instead of what do you do for fun try “Tell me about a time this July you got filthy.” Follow up: “Would he do that again? How did that take him outside of himself?” Or…”What made him visit a new city? Does he have a strategy to not feel like a tourist? What makes him want to return home?”
3. Wrap up.
If you want to see him again tell him. Think of a meeting you run. Would you leave without action items? No. Would you leave without the next meeting on the books. Hell no. You will send him the link to that comedian, he will look up the name of the author of that book he is reading. When you ask him to go to the movies on Friday get an answer. If he waffles or wiggles then you know the interest is not mutual. That’s fine. Don’t overanalyze and think he is still on the table. Waffle= he is not going to join you for breakfast for the next 2,000 Sundays. You had a good night, got some practice with a desirable guy, and learned about a way to get dirty in July. Celebrate that.
Men are not just women with penises.
Not to generalize, but totally to generalize. Men have a bias towards action. Even just a little bit of motion can help a guy talk (assuming that is what you want…) a great second date can be running errands, doing a green up day, taking a fly tying class. Something where there is a bit of action, and a bit of a plan to follow, that takes the pressure off the conversation, keeping it from being the full content of the date.
More action. Show him you like him. He may not know. I mean, this is assuming you didn’t show him on the first date. Which of course I am fine with as long as you were safe and consenting. You need to show him physically that you like him. Put your hand on his knee in the car. Again if he recoils try not to feel hurt, instead feel thankful that you have that information.
Even more action.
Ask for what you need.
Perhaps you have a tight friend group. Tell him you need him to meet your friends. If there is one super bitchy friend maybe leave that one out (maybe forever?) and go bowling. Again, if it is dinner cook together (this way you know if he will be able to cook for you in the future). Group restaurant dates are not the best until later. If you want him to drive, ask him to pick you up. If you want him to stay over or stay off of his phone, ask him for that too. If he has been slightly too polite give him permission to swear. Whatever you are worried about, whichever quirks might make you rule him out, give him a chance early to show you another way. Don’t expect him to read your mind. This doesn’t mean telling him: ” you strike me as socially stilted, has anyone ever evaluated you for Asperger’s?” More like: I often express my excitement with piss poor language, is this OK with you…not that I can stop anyways, just wanting to check in before we show up for a 16 person ski trip. And by the way. I will not ski.
What does this come down to?
Do more, ask what for and about what you want, tell on yourself, try it all again.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Guide to marrying up: Do more, ask what you want to know, tell on yourself…repeat. via @annawritesstuff #dating” quote=”Do more, ask what you want to know, tell on yourself, then try again.”]