Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lovin' in public -- yea or nay?

Deirdre: On a plane trip last week the fortysomething couple sitting next to me was ALL OVER each other. They couldn't stop touching and stroking and murmuring and kissing. The public display of affection was overpowering. How do you feel about stuff like that? I'm so over it.
Alisha: We really disagree on this; I'm all about some PDA! It screams love. It shows happiness. And, well, I guess it does spell out horniness, too. There are certain times and places PDAs are not appropriate.
Deirdre: But why do people have to scream love and happiness by pawing all over each other in public?
Alisha: We want to put on display for others what we have and how we're feeling.
Deirdre: Why is it important that other people see what you have? Why isn't it enough that the two of you know? Why rub it in other people's faces?
Alisha: I never said it's important people rub it in. It's just when we are gettin' some lovin', it's natural to let others know. Is it boastful? Yes.
Deirdre: I'm not saying that when couples are in public they should never touch each other. Touch is a natural way of showing affection. But this business of making out in public, or groping someone else's private parts is taking it too far. It strikes me as immature and is a sign of insecurity. It also shows a lack of respect for others.
Alisha: If you're at an outdoor concert, for example, and there are thousands of people; why is not OK for two folks to give some PDA? Our society has so many other limitations as is. Why put a leash on kissing?
Deirdre: Because you're in public? Because there are thousands of people around you? Look, I'm not saying it's not cool to kiss in public. I'm saying it's not cool to play tonsil hockey in public. I don't see it as limiting yourself, or leashing yourself. I see it as exercising a little self control. What's wrong with saving the good stuff until you get home?
Alisha: Maybe because the stuff that's shown in public only gets hotter when the two people get home? View it as pre-game entertainment. The "Super Bowl of PDA" hasn't even been played yet.
Alisha: Honestly, if you don't want to see PDAs, then don't look.
Deirdre: I think some responsibility has to be taken by the couples doing the PDAing. That couple on the plane was sitting right next to me. The plane was full and it wasn't like a bus that I could get off at the next stop.
Alisha: But, this is groping and kissing. This isn't like smoking, where one person's actions is directly affecting you. Right?
Deirdre: It's not physically harmful, like smoking can be, but there are certain things we do as a culture to show respect for each other as fellow humans. A big one is not just killing each other for the sport of it. (Well, most of us don't.) On a smaller scale it's not making strangers witness something intimate between you and your mate. As my plane example illustrates, it's often not as easy as "don't look."
Deirdre: PDA behavior is another indication of us as a culture losing our manners. It's like screeching on cell phones and displaying other people's business on the Internet. Get my point?
Alisha: I get your point, I just don't agree with it. There are always going to be people who are rude and choose to give PDAs in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Seems to me there have always been "exhibitionists" in this world.
Deirdre: But do you think that even the people who do the PDA thing at the wrong place and time should still do so?
Alisha: No, I don't. There definitely needs to be an awareness for what is appropriate. I just think there shouldn't be a stringent regulation on when, where and how.
Deirdre: There is no stringent regulation. There's only common courtesy and common sense -- and some couples often utilize neither.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I've got love on my mind

A friend recently shared her frustration with me about dating. She's tried everything the books, magazines and Oprah experts recommend -- going to church, joining clubs based on her hobbies, volunteer work, Internet dating -- and she still hasn't met a man she'd consider pursuing a relationship with. She's like me: a thirtysomething who doesn't really want to date for dating's sake, but is looking for more than just someone for drinking and casual sex. (Not that there's anything wrong with either.)

I admit I've been floating on a sea of sighs since returning from my friend's wedding a few days ago. There wasn't a single available man there (well, maybe the DJ, but I didn't ask), so most chicks would have found the event a total bust. Not me. I was heartened by seeing all the happy, obviously still-enamored couples of all ages enjoying themselves as they giggled over drinks and boogied on the dance floor -- sometimes with their kids as adorable partners. I'm aware I have no idea what's going on in their relationships; for all I know, they fought in the parking lot as they approached the door. But for those few hours, everyone was caught up in the joy of a new marriage, and the thrill of being on hand as a man and woman, misty-eyed, pledged themselves to each other.

That wedding day, juxtaposed with my friend's frustrations, gave me pause. It reminded me of something I think most of us tend to forget: We can't take love for granted.

There's no guarantee each and every one of us will have a healthy, loving relationship. Look at all the single people out there. Look at the high divorce rate. And how many folks do you know in unhappy relationships?

Life is such a crapshoot. Folks who find love experience fate, or destiny, or sheer, stupid luck -- whatever you want to call it. I wonder, do people in love realize what a gift they've been given? There's nothing set in stone that says every human will have a mate.

As a single person, does that knowledge depress or scare me? Both, a little. Am I less inclined to date? Of course not. The need to share, to connect, to love is innate in us. I've told my friend to keep searching. Maybe she (and I) will be among the fortunate ones.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Names for my in-laws? Mom? Dad? Um, neither?

When you’re in the middle of preparing for a wedding, there are some technicalities that slip through the cracks. They’re small things that you never really think about until, oh, say, a year and four months into your marriage.

Eureka! What do I call my in-laws?

It hit me two weeks ago when I phoned my sister-in-law, and I found myself repeating “tell your Mom this…” or “I think your Mom …etc.” When I hung up the phone, I realized that, wait a minute – isn’t “your Mom” really my Mom, too? Technically, yes – by marriage. Technically, no – I have a Mom already.

It’s just one of those topics my husband and I never thought to sit down and discuss. He calls my parents by their first names, and I call his parents by their proper names. It’s as simple as that.

Often, when I’m addressing a birthday card or sending an e-mail to my in-laws, I have a tendency to write "Dear Mom and Dad," but then I always end up erasing it because it just doesn’t feel right.

So why is it an issue now? I do wonder if it’s disrespectful to my in-laws to call them by their first names, or if I should have broached this topic long before I married their son. The last thing I want to be is disrespectful – to my parents or his.

If only we had kids already, then I could just call them Grandma and Grandpa. But for now and with no bun in the oven, I think I’ll just stick to calling them by their first names.

Readers, by what names do you call your in-laws?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A single chick's wedding jitters

So this weekend I'm gonna be in a wedding. One of my closest friends is getting married, and she asked me to be her maid of honor.

I'm a wreck, of course.

It's a small wedding -- no more than 70 people -- but I'm as nervous as if it were 700. I have no backup; it's just me, the bride, the groom and the best man. I'm stressing like you wouldn't believe. Is my outfit gonna be OK? (The bride hasn't seen it.) What if I forget the Kleenex? (It's pretty much the only responsibility she gave me.) What if I trip walking down the aisle? (I'm a clutz, so that's a strong possibility.)

And -- oh, God -- there's The Toast. I break out in a sweat just thinking about it.

I've had several friends either marry or become engaged in the past couple of years. And in a mirror of America's ongoing cultural shift, most of them are getting married for the first time at older ages -- in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s. The awesome part is, I've known these people for years. I was there when they were involved in positive romances, but I also I saw them work their way through failed or unhealthy relationships and come out on the other side wounded, or relieved, or angry -- but with time, willing to try love again. It's wonderful to watch them leave their pasts firmly in the past and embrace the future with an adoring partner.

There's the expectation that a single woman at a wedding would be there on a mission. She'd be ready to body slam bridesmaids to get to the wedding bouquet, or stalk available groomsmen at the reception. There's the assumption that weddings make single people sad, or bitter, or desperate for any semblance of love ... and meaningless sex would do. (Think of the chicks from "Wedding Crashers.")

But when I attend weddings, they fill me with hope. The ceremonies I've witnessed were overflowing with love and promise. The couples were mature and clear-eyed, and they knew their lives wouldn't be happily ever after, but with work, trust and honesty, they'd live happily most of the time. I'm a pushover, so I usually cry at weddings -- not from self-pity for my single status, but from happiness at seeing two people making a committment to live for each other, as well as themselves. Such events remind me of what is possible between people who love each other, and I know if I find the right person, I can experience it for myself.

So while I'll gleefully down drink and cake and dance to my heart's content at the reception, I'm honored to witness the creation of such an intimate bond at the ceremony. And since I'll be witnessing this bond at close range, I'll try not to forget the Kleenex.

And I'll do my best not to trip.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Longing for 'the one who got away'

In the past month, I have had three guy friends tell me something quite interesting, almost jaw-dropping. It’s something I never thought I’d hear from three masculine, scruffy-type, sports nuts.

Each guy has recently been plagued by the thought of "the one who got away.”

Three males – the gender that farts at will and would rather watch re-runs of the 1998 Utah-Chicago NBA Finals than enjoy a candle-lit evening for two – were reminiscing and longing for women who were no longer a part of their lives. Who would have thought?

I always figured it was us gals who got all sappy about that hunk that swept us off of our feet, then had to move 2,000 miles across country and was never seen or heard from again, or the serious boyfriend who wanted to settle down and start a family while you wanted to experiment and enjoy the other fish in the big sea of men. Our culture has conditioned us to feel like most men aren’t the lovey-dovey, nurturing, crazy-in-love romantic types. And longing for that partner – the one who got away – certainly lends itself to the destruction of that stereotype.

For that matter, how does one know that they've missed out? Is it that instinct – the stomach-churning feeling you get when you see the movie that you first saw together? Is it a matter of simple deduction based on number of girlfriends (zero) since the spectacular relationship? Is it the fact that all you can think about is her – her scent, her laugh and her touch?

I feel as though the one who got away will always be just that – away. If things were meant to be, then, she wouldn’t have gotten away in the first place. You would be dating or married or would have given the relationship a shot, decided it wasn’t going to work and then, well, at least you wouldn’t be longing for her as the one that slipped through your fingers.

It’s romantic of us – even the male gender – to dream about that idealistic perfect partner. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming about her scent, her touch. But, sooner or later, we all have to get our heads out of the clouds.

Monday, January 08, 2007

First-date advice

Deirdre: My big resolution is to date more this year -- and I'm sure I'm not the only one! Now that I'm getting mentally psyched to date -- it is a state of mind, after all -- I've been thinking a lot about how to handle one of my least-favorite things ever: The First Date. You remember what that's like, right, ol' married woman?
Alisha: Oh yeah! Six years ago I had a first date. I was super nervous. Wore extra deodorant. Dressed to the nines. Was super attentive, and made sure I was on time. I always thought I was a cool cucumber on first dates. Some people aren't, though.
Deirdre: You just hit, like, the top four things you're supposed to do on a first date: You eliminated the B.O. possibility, dressed to impress, made sure it wasn't all about you and were prompt.
Alisha: If only I could continue doing all those things now that I'm married. OK ... I do wear deodorant every day!
Deirdre: Well, we singletons don't do those things every day, either, even though we should (especially the deodorant part). After all, you never know when you might meet somebody dateable. What else do you remember being important for a first date?
Alisha: Use generic conversation. Nothing too specific. For example, I would never bring up my life-long commitment to having two kids by age 28, like some people do. That's heavy stuff to take in the first time you meet someone.
Deirdre: Amen! And I think it's a little unrealistic to have such a set-in-stone plan, anway. If you're determined to have those kids and you haven't met Mr. Baby Daddy by the time you're 27 1/2, you're likely to marry the first critter that offers you a cubic zirconia.
Alisha: Oh yeah. But I know lots of women who are determined not to stray from that life plan. Scary. OK, so what advice do you have for first-date etiquette?
Deirdre: This is a "duh!" comment for most of us, but some people never learn: When you're out with someone, don't salivate over someone else, like that waitress with the nice rack. People do notice that crap.
Alisha: Good one. Oogling eyes are a huge turnoff. Don't care how bad of a time you're having -- stay focused on the person you're hanging with. How about: On a first date, never expect to be kissed unless you just know the chemistry is definitely there. You're just setting yourself up for disappointment if you expect it. Think about the first date as hanging out with someone really cool, and hey, if there's a second date - awesome. If there isn't - nothing lost.
Deirdre: And I have to add to that one shouldn't pounce at the end of the date in an attempt to "close the deal." The only deal that may be closed is the decision to call 911. Now, here's one: Don't refer to an ex as "methhead" or "firecrotch" or anything of the sort. It makes you look bitter and tacky. In fact, don't refer to exes at all unless asked ... and then, be tactful. (For God's sake, don't mention restraining orders!)
Alisha: For a "Do," how about pay close attention to detail. If your date absolutely hates condiments, and she orders a plain cheeseburger. Surely to goodness, don't be a fool and decide to make her hot dogs stacked with ketchup, mustard and relish on the second date.
Deirdre: Since we're talking about eating out -- ladies: don't order the most expensive thing on the menu, thinking it's cool 'cause the dude is paying. And guys, don't choose a place one step above Mickey D's 'cause you don't want to spend too much money. Gotta pay to play ... and girls, that can mean -- GASP! -- going dutch.
Alisha: Excellent advice. My final what-not-to-do on a first date: Don't get drunk. First of all, you don't want someone to see your alter ego because it could be quite an ugly sight. And, we all tend to be rather honest when the spirits hit us. If you aren't diggin' your date, whoa ... you're just askin' for an episode of Jerry Springer to happen.
Deirdre: No lie! A friend of mine had a first date with this sketchy dude and he drank so much, he had to sleep it off on her couch. Talk about losing most of your cool points! Careful with the mojitos and Sam Adams, people. But overall, I would say on that most important of dates, treat the other person as you would like to be treated.

Readers: Got any first-date advice you want to share?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Our relationship resolutions for 2007

Deirdre: It's that time again: A brand new year. A chance to start fresh and dream big!
Alisha: Thank gosh! I'm ready to kick 2006 in the rear end.
Deirdre: No lie! It already kicked my butt, so I'm certainly ready to return the favor.
Alisha: So among the vows to return to the gym, eat better and get more sleep - I bet we can come up with some relationship resolutions, huh?
Deirdre: No problem there! And I'm willing to start. No. 1: I resolve that 2007 will be The Year That Deirdre Dates. I WILL get out more, even if it means cutting back on my Netflix subscription! And I may even join one of those newcomers clubs I'm always suggesting to other people.
Alisha: No. 1: I resolve to open up my ears. I've gotten pretty good at multi-tasking and with that talent, something is inevitably going to fall by the wayside, and that's my listening skills. I want to focus on listening more when my husband talks (and yes, this is what he considers to be my biggest fault).
Deirdre: My next one: I resolve to stop cutting certain guys extra slack just because they're super hot. If the guy doesn't treat me right from the very beginning, no matter how foxy he is, he's gone!
Alisha: My next one would have to be hanging out more with family and friends. I wouldn't call myself a hermit by any stretch; however, life is too short to spend it in the house 24-7. I want to make new friends, grow with my old ones and reach out to friends I haven't talked to in years.
Deirdre: Here, here! My final one, and this'll probably be the hardest: I will try to loosen up more when dating. I'm so busy thinking ahead, trying to figure out what's going on -- does he like me? do I like him? should I wait until he calls me? what did he mean when he said ... -- that I often don't relax and just enjoy getting to know somebody new. Every man is not the only man. I should tape that note to my mirror!
Alisha: Amen! ... My final one: Sorry, Mom ... you might want to stop reading here. I resolve to spend more one-on-one time with my husband (wink, wink). Busy lives, conflicting work schedules, and tired routines be damned - it's time to focus on us ... in the bedroom.
Deirdre: You go, sister! No one can accuse us of not tellin' it like it is!

What about you, readers? Have any relationship resolutions you want to share?