Lay it Bare

"Honesty is a fucking aphrodisiac." - c. Me to the delightful Huny

When I talk to my girlfriends, one of the biggest complaints they have about dating is seeking honesty.  It seems like such a simple thing.  We talk. You ask me a question, I give an honest answer.  I ask you a question, you give an honest answer.  But somewhere in the realm of relationships, we develop this fear of letting that person see who we are.  We color our personalities, avoid mentioning certain frailties or failings, and avoid angering that person like the plague.  And that’s not real life.

Fear of revealing the same frailties and failings is why we lie.  We ALL do it.  Being honest about our shortcomings requires a certain vulnerability that we aren’t always comfortable revealing.  It takes a lot to admit to anyone, and especially someone we love and respect, that we totally fucked up.  I hate admitting it.

I’ve learned that in dating, most people are going to tell a few of what my friend Melissa calls “baby lies,” lies that you know they shouldn’t tell, but it’s not that big of a deal.  They’re frustrating because when they’re over something so small, you wonder why they bothered to lie in the first place.  Sometimes, people tell baby lies about things that they think won’t come up again, and it’s done just to keep peace.  On the occasions that things don’t go according to plan (as is often the case), that baby lie morphs into hydra of deception.  That’s hard to own up to.  But the point of this post isn’t really to examine why people lie.  I’d much rather tell you why you should tell the truth.

I can deal with absolutely anything a person has to tell me, if they shoot from the hip.  It might hurt and I may not skip off into a meadow, but it makes the situation easier for everyone involved.  There’s no dark karmic cloud hanging over you.  That’s really the worst that can happen.  You don’t owe that person anything else after you’ve offered honesty.  If they constantly hang it over your head, or throw it in your face, well take that as your cue to leave them alone.

But as for me, I just want the truth.  As I mentioned, honesty is an aphrodisiac.  There is nothing like being brave enough to lay all your shit on the table, because I thrive on trust.  A lack of fear in showing me your seedy underbelly tells me that you trust me enough to handle the heavy shit.  I don’t want to see the knight in shining armor.  I want to see the bruises, scars and ultimately, the soft underbelly.  I’m flawed, bruised and scarred my damn self, and my soft spots are plentiful.  Throwing down the honesty gauntlet at me lets me know that I can do the same to you.  And that’s bigger and more important than any mistake.  Be imperfect with me. Turn me on by giving me your personality in panoramic view.  That’s sexier than any façade.

It’s Not At All Different…Except it Totally Is

A week or so ago, one of the young fellas I follow on Twitter asked about the difference in dating after you’re 30.  It was perceived as a soft launched missile, but it made me think to myself, “Yeah…what is the big damn difference?  Wait a second…is there a difference?”  And the answer is yes.  Dating as a 35 year old woman is far different than dating as a 25 year old woman.  But not for the reasons you think.

Though I didn’t expect a grand revelation on my 30th birthday, I thought that my experiences would improve.  I’m older, so I will meet older, more serious-minded fellas.  Sounds good, right?  Allow me to introduce you to two facts of life:

  1. With age comes experience.  Unfortunately, this does not mean that with this age and experience will come the insight to benefit from what one has learned.  In certain aspects of life, age really is just a number; and,
  2. There is a large segment of the 20-something male population, who enjoys nothing more than getting his smang on with a “seasoned vet.”

So here we are, right back where we started.  We’re not only dealing with the 20-somethings we THOUGHT we abandoned in our 20s, but we’re also dealing with the less than mature over-30-somethings.  Adding insult to injury, these are the same immature over-30-somethings that our younger 20-something selves laughed at for being “too old to act that way.”  Now he’s your peer.  And was quite possibly your prom date.  Awesome.

But, what about the differences I mentioned?  Well, here they are:

  1. “Do you have kids,” becomes a polite and perfunctory question.  It’s code for “How many kids do you have?”  It’s not that everyone in their 30s has kids – it just seems like it.  It takes the strength of Sampson to stop your eyebrows from lifting in shock when the answer is no.
  2. Everybody has advice for you.  Suddenly, dating has become a team effort.  I know for an absolute fact that I managed to date successfully for years without a tribunal.  Now everything requires a decision by committee.  And no matter what you do, the committee is against you.  Girl where yall going? Oh I wouldn’t have gone to that restaurant. How did you meet him? Oooh…there? Who paid? He did? He probably wanted to get some? Did he try to get some? He did? Ugh. You gon’ give him some? No? Why not?!  Well why ain’t you talking about him? For someone you just met, you don’t think you’re talking about him too much? Are yall doing okay? Seriously.  They’re all well meaning, but it’s a bit much.
  3. The dudes in your age range either never want to get married, or they want to get married three weeks ago.  The happy medium is rare. One the one hand, you’ve got the dudes who have been hurt/are fearful of commitment and flat out don’t open up.  Often, there’s some chick out there that still has her hooks in him, whether he wants to admit it or not, and it prevents him from establishing new attachments.  In the other case, a dude may have enough self-awareness to know who he is as a person.  That’s fine, but he still doesn’t know me, or how he will react/relate to my brand of shenanigans.  “We ain’t gettin no younger, we might as well do it” doesn’t even sound good in that “Let’s Get Married,” song, let alone real life.
  4. The night of your most awesome date ever, the one where you abandon all of your hangups and decide that you are going to give him all the goodies on the first night, your period is going to start.  It doesn’t matter what the calendar says.  Your body starts staging little mutinies around 31, letting you know it gives not one solitary damn about your plans, goals, happiness or (largest of all) sex life.  It’s gonna happen. You will deal.
  5. You have to combat the urge to over-think EVERYTHING.  Well what did he mean when he said see you later?  Later tonight?  Like tomorrow later?  I have things to do tomorrow!  Wait…my schedule just freed up! Did I allude to being busy?  What if he won’t call because he thinks I’m busy?  Did he call? What if he calls?  Is Sprint tripping?  Am I getting all of my text messages? What if he doesn’t like receiving texts?  Can he read?  I never asked?  OMG AM I OVER-THINKING THIS!?!?!  Yes, fool.  You are, now chill out.  Things are going to be what they are going to be.  Be yourself, not your representative, and if it doesn’t work out, then you know that it’s a compatibility issue, and not something you created in your mind.

Whether you’re dating in your 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond, people are people.  Neither the players nor the game have really changed.  The only thing that does change is your perspective of them.  I’m not here to tell you how to score your next boo.  There doesn’t seem to be a true formula for that.

Here’s what I do know:  If you view dating as this horribly tragic activity, then you will always attack (and attacking is NEVER a good thing, unless you are a mother lioness eying the last antelope on the plain) dating with a sense of desperation.  If you see it as a meaningless thing, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you make a bunch of meaningless connections.  But my experience tells me that if you go into it open-minded treat people like humans rather than assembly line numbers, at the very least you’ll connect with some great folks.  Honestly, who doesn’t have room for decent, fun people in their corner?

Searching for Bobby McGee

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free, now now.
And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.
– “Me and Bobby McGee” as sung by Janis Joplin

I’m a firecracker.  My personality is kind of huge.  Explosive laughter, tight hugs, large smiles – and occasionally, epic cuss outs.  But with all that, my needs are actually quite small.  Defined, but small.  I’m not quite a diva, or high maintenance.  I’d prefer cold cereal and cartoons with folks that matter to me, than a fancy dinner with people who I believe to be “alright.”  Don’t misunderstand, I think acquaintances are very important, but core people in your life are priceless.

So we arrive at the part of the blog where I express what I need or want in a partner.  It’s quite simple, really: them.  Not in an all-consuming, “I can’t breathe without you” sense; just that person’s self, without the pretense.  Additionally, We live in a world that is so noisy.  Someone who is down to get together and allow themselves to briefly become overtaken by quiet?  That’s the good stuff right there.  I don’t need to be in constant contact with my significant other, nor do I need them to constantly check in with me.  But after being apart, I want that need to reconnect to be something serious.

I want intimacy; which, contrary to popular belief, is not the brass ring that comes with sex.  Intimacy is being across the room, noticing something, and immediately searching for your partner’s eyes to share a private joke.  It’s conversations about personal dreams, fears or frailties that belong strictly to the two of you.  It’s the good feeling that swells in you when you see your partner enjoying something that is totally separate and apart from your own personal joy.  Sex is the tangible manifestation of all those good feelings, which takes you to where words and glances simply can not.  And for real, it’s not the type of thing you want to rush.  When you’ve taken the time to establish intimacy with your partner, the “goodness” of the physical act is truly not far behind.

My thoughts on that?

More, please?

That’s not the kind of thing you find at Big Lots, and that’s why I don’t spend a whole lot of time worried about being single.  It’s why I don’t throw my lady parts around like Mardi Gras beads.  Sure it’s a “search,” but it’s not a search of desperation.  I’m keeping my eyes open.  I’ll know it when I see it, and will not force it if I don’t.  It’s going to come when it comes.  It will be welcomed happily.  I believe in holding out for the good stuff.

Straight Outta Convent

Today is my baby girl’s tenth birthday.  Essentially, I have no more babies, which is totally strange to me.  With each year comes a new set of concerns and responsibilities for me as a parent.  They have stronger personalities, more concrete opinions, and even new sensitivities.  (I remember my own puberty, when breaking into tears at previously harmless jokes told by my parents was the order of the day.)  It also means having to occasionally deal with difficult questions:  that includes being on the delivering AND receiving end.  Last night’s cannonball was fired by her:

Mommy, are you trying to be a nun? Then why don’t you get married?

On  another day, that would have gotten me all up in my feelings.  I’m not always loving the single life.  Frankly, I’m not always loving my life.  These streets can be rough on a girl.  There are days when I feel like Atlas, and there’s some fool that keeps punching the back of my knees.  (Yes, this makes sense.) Even though my kids are of age to take certain responsibilities, I still want them to have a certain carefree nature that comes with being kids.  So this requires me to be Atlas, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Elastagirl.  In my down time, I get to play Medusa, but we won’t harp on that.

Suffice it to say, a partner would be lovely.  Not just to “help me carry the weight,” but just to shoot the shit, watch movies and play Scrabble.  Not this new age Scrabble, where you can be in Boston and your partner can be in Bahrain.  I mean real in your face Scrabble.  Break out the paperback dictionary, turn up your lips, “that ain’t even much a word, yo” Scrabble.

But, I’m a mom.  I’m past the notion of hiding behind my kids because I’m afraid of relationships.  (I have.)  I’m past feeling the need to do everything.  (On the cool, I can, but that doesn’t mean I SHOULD.)  I don’t even believe that their happiness trumps all, but it is a weighty portion of the equation.  They want me to be married.  They want another little brother or sister.  They want a cool dude around to balance my womanly craziness. I’ll even be daring and opine that somewhere in all of this, they even give consideration to my own happiness in having a partner.   I just happen to know that forming and maintaining relationships just doesn’t happen to be easy.  I can deal with stealth breakups.  I have a habit of ending things before they even start, and my kids are none the wiser.  I’m loathe to even have conversations with men that are romantic interests around my kids unless we are actually “going somewhere.”  That way, should things end, there’s nothing to explain.  I’m not crazy about the idea of people disappearing from their lives.  I’m not searching for perfect, but healthy and stable is non-negotiable.

But I’m also not blocking myself.  I’m getting out more, meeting more people, and I have my eye on a hottie (or two…a girl needs options).  I’m not searching for a relationship.  I enjoy my autonomy and desire companionship in equal measure.  I’m praying that when the right person comes around, I’ll be smart enough to happily tip the scale in his favor.

So, don’t work on your rendition of “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Melanie” just yet.  I’d be a shitty nun.

Tapping out

These past couple of months have been, in a word, interesting.  And this last month? Mercy.  I was kind of dealing with something that I thought was supremely messed up, but I had made my peace with things actually turning out for the best.  Just because something makes you sad, doesn’t mean it isn’t for the greater good, right?  And so now, I’m again, breaking policy and vomiting emotions all over this blog.

Well, it was a fairly large “something,” and in many ways, I had to deal with it on my own.  I wasn’t exactly sure how to react, so I pushed it on the side and dealt with other things.  In life, there are always “other things” to deal with; particularly when a large “something” is looming.  I wasn’t actively avoiding the issue, I just wasn’t sure what to do to it.  Because there was a large part of me that was relieved.  There are people and things that can become spirit vampires, and are only able to draw your time and energy from you with little return.  It’s not necessarily any shade against them; simply a case of everything (or one) not being for everybody (or me).

The conundrum lies in the fact that for as long as I’ve been an adult, I considered this person at the very least, a kindred spirit.  There were even times where the notion of “soul mate” was thrown around.  When the individual was rude or anti-social, I always managed to trace it back to something that I had done.  There was really not anything that this person could say or do that I could not find it in my heart to forgive.*  Even now, while I’m butt hurt, I still do forgive.

But don’t get it twisted.

The funny thing about love is, we talk about it as thought it is this abstract, self-sustaining thing that can never be extinguished.  It just is.  The truth that I have learned is that given enough time, when a person disregards you enough, takes your feelings for granted one time too many, and does a Mexican hat dance on the balls of your heart, that love shit can fly out the window.  When a person knows you better than most, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to handle you better than most.  I had to examine my own heart, and ask why this person had an endless supply of chances with me.  The math didn’t add up.  And after crying my heart out for over an hour, I decided that this person had struck the death blow on our relationship.  Not just romantic.  We can’t be lovers, friends, workmates, roommates, coworkers, Facebook friends, line dance partners, square dance partners or even like the same color.  I can’t love unconditionally, yet be loved with stipulations.  I won’t paint myself the victim here, and I’m sure if asked, this individual could come up with a laundry list of reasons why I fall short.  And to that I say, who cares?  I can’t fix what I don’t know to be broken.

So to that person, if you’re reading this, I hope you find your happy. I hope that when you do, you’ve let go of all your past  hurts and hold on to that happiness.  I hope you see your children, and their children, and their children.  But I also hope that you forget you knew me.  I hope you forget everything about me.   This can’t be  salvaged.  I’m not going to try.  I don’t want you to either.

You win.

*If there’s nothing a person can do to change your feelings for them, you would do well to examine those feelings a little deeper.  Co-dependence fits into love’s dress robes quite nicely.

Bare

No heels, No shirt, No skirt,
All I’m in is just skin.
No jeans, Take em off,
Wanna feel your skin.

– “Skin” Rihanna

“It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same.”

– Pulp Fiction “Fabienne”

I ain’t no diva.  It’s rare that you’ll see me in heels (since I am still not 100% on my ankle seven months later) and I was probably born in blue jeans.  I can work a smokey eye, but I like my face; the one I see first thing in the morning.  Seeing my words on paper will always pacify me in a way that seeing them on a computer screen never will.  When I cook, I chop each and everything by hand.  Falling in love with a best friend has always been the ideal, so I’ve never cared much for “set-ups.”  I’m earthy and organic; bare feet in the grass, taking in the sounds around me. And when it comes to sex…

No, when it comes to the aesthetics of sex, I am curiously lost in the sauce.  This is not due to some puritanical stigma.  There’s the sex circus, and there’s sex.  Of course , the two can intersect, it simply doesn’t always happen.  At the top of my list is lingerie.  For lingerie aficionados, this is not directed toward you.  There are different strokes for different folks. Since I believe you don’t know that you won’t like something until you try it, I’ve purchased a lace this and silk that in my travels.  Ultimately, it felt incredibly silly, because it’s not me.  Polished toes, one of my man’s roomy shirts, and nothing else would be much more my speed…for starters.

It’s not that have no desire to titillate, or be titillated for that matter.  What begins in the mind is essential to enjoying sex.  But it is also an act meant to be enjoyed physically, and not just observed as performance art.   But this is the notion that has taken over, we do what we’re told in terms of attraction and sexuality, rather than embracing what draws us in.*  Adonis-like bodies with perfectly formed faces are lovely to look at, but that does not guarantee a recipe for pleasure.   Frankly, there are like, thirteen people who look like that – on a planet of billions.  I’m can assure you that both the very lean, and the more Rubenesque are perfectly capable of getting down for their crown.  Yes, Darren Sharper is my fiance and future baby daddy, but I have no qualms with cuddling up with a burly fella, because…

When all is said and done, my intentions will be perfectly clear.  I want to enjoy the person I am with.  Conversely, I want them to enjoy what I am doing to and with them.  Being present in that moment of delight when those first sighs escape is what truly matters.  Accoutrement is perfectly acceptable.  Candles, oil, music, and other miscellaneous trappings of sensuality are nice.  However, if I have too much time to pay attention to those things, something is being done all wrong.  Low moans, the smell of (the mythical) him, and the taste of a sweat-salted shoulder happens to be what curls my toes.  If you can’t relate, you’re missing out.

Holla if ya hear me.

*At 12, I had a poster of Al B. Sure! in my locker and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why.  Now AND then.

Flirting, Friending and that Other ‘F’ Word

They say prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, but I think flirting is the world’s oldest diversion.  Flirting stems from attraction, whether it’s attraction to a person’s sense of humor, affable personality, or the very primal desire to ride it like a rodeo.  In it’s place, it can be fun.  (I’m hesitant to attach the word “harmless,” but we’ll address that later.)

Enter The Dragon.

By Dragon, I mean, The Internets.  Dare I say, it has revolutionized flirting, dating and relationships.  People from all walks of life and corners of the globe can interact in ways that were once impossible.  Of course, as with every new thing, there are high and low points.  Once taboo, meeting people from the internet is now the norm.  You’re “meeting” a person in a very sanitized, controlled environment. We quite often become very comfortable opening up to objective strangers.  So yes, on the internet, a person may well reveal the sensitive part of themselves they rarely share with friends.  However, you may not realize that they are rude to wait staff (sounds like a small thing; it is NOT).

Myriads of people are connecting romantically via the internet at an increasing rate.  The pull to do so is all but irresistible.  So we poked and threw sheep on Facebook (you should NOT be doing this anymore).  We send thinly veiled suggestive “@replies” on Twitter.  We comment on pictures and blogs.  We laugh our virtual asses off.  We roll on the floor while laughing said asses off.  We IM.  We text.  We call.  They take too long to reply to our text.  They don’t call back.  We go to their Facebook page and don’t say anything.  We stalk their pictures and blogs.  We’re not laughing anymore.  Our asses are safely in tact, and the smiley faces are replaced with makeshift side eyes.  You know the ones: O_o.  We wonder why the hell so and so always “likes” his/her statuses?  What’s to like about “I’m on my way to the grind?”  Oh snap son! They’re e-creeping.  Ultimately, onlookers get to witness the passive/aggressive coup de grâce:  “Well maybe you’re getting me confused with one of your other girls/dudes.”

In my years perusing these here internets, I have lost count on how many times I have actually witnessed that progression.  Particularly the final blow.  I can tell you that I was originally inspired to write this piece, after witnessing some variation of e-player accusations/hate crimes three times in one week, and it was only Wednesday.  Infatuation makes us crazy.  Not everyone knows how to flirt, and some people have either never been the object of flirting in real time, or it happens extremely rarely.  When that’s the case, those people simply do NOT know how to act.

I can speak from my own experience: there is NOTHING harmless about my flirting.  If I take my time to send a couple of flirtatious key strokes, that means I have at least entertained the possibility of a dry hump.  (Do people still dry hump?  I don’t know the rules. I’ve been in emotional seclusion.)  Reason, however, prevails.  There are a million reasons that you should not become physical with every person you flirt with.  I do it almost subconsciously at times, so if I were to engage every object of flirting, I would quite possibly be a veritable Ground Zero of ho shit.  With that said, I can flirt with you, and though I might entertain thoughts, I have no intention whatsoever on doing anything.  Lots of people are like that.  We’re trapped in offices all day and we need something fun to do.

But we’re grown folks, and sometimes sex DOES happen.  Not everyone is going the marriage, 2.5 kid, white picket fence route.  People aren’t even always going the shack-up route.  Some people really, are just trying to have sex.  Ideally, these people should hook up with others of their ilk. Since I love you like play cousins though, I’ll acknowledge this:  There are people who just like to be players.  Having “just sex” isn’t enough for them, and part of their hunt is getting a person to be attached to them, whether they plan on sustaining a relationship or not.  Mentally dog-ear those pages where they let their true intentions seep out.  (I promise you they will.  People ultimately want you to know who they are so they can absolve themselves of guilt if necessary:  But I told you…)

If you are looking for something more, or just getting yourself through the day, govern yourself accordingly.  I’ve seen far too many people create, or fall victim to, what I like to call “Fantasy Monsters.”  You create these virtual romantic situations, yet one person is too invested, the other is not invested enough, and neither of you are equipped to deal because your communication is nonexistent.  Simple words on a page become this fire breathing dragon that makes you stalk pages and wonder why Person X is tagged in not one, but two pictures.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for the people you let in your cipher.  Govern yourselves accordingly.  If you’re an emotional person and you ignore the signs and symptoms of a player, you must exist with the knowledge that you will ultimately be benched.  If you are a player and you ignore the signs and symptoms of a Stage IV clinger, you must exist with the knowledge that your spot can and quite probably will be blown up at any given moment.  It’s crazy in these internets.

Govern yourselves accordingly.