Since penning my original “guide to young men”, written several years ago, I’ve seen it reposted several times and had several people ask me to do a different version or expound upon it. So, here ’tis, the revised Guide Vers. 2.01, now with bold new graphics! In truth, I’ve changed or nuanced my opinion on some things, and there are things I didn’t get into on the first round that are important. This is sort of an addendum to the first list, and not really in any sort of order just as I think of them:
1. I have no interest in getting you laid, even if I had such a power. If your goal is just to meet a woman to get your noodle wet, consult Penthouse. If I could write a “how to emotionally manipulate a man into giving you all his shit, letting you walk all over him, then abandoning him like the chump he is” for women, I wouldn’t write it for the same reasons. The goal of all my advice where relationships are concerned is to help a person with good intentions meet a person they can be happy with, date, marry, etc. If your life’s mission is to rack up a bunch of hookups, first shut off that pesky humanity that keeps most of us from being serial cocksman, and second just go find women with some daddy issues and treat them like crap. It’s not rocket surgery, but it’s a sad way to live.
2. Something often said in complete error and cynicism time and again is that there are no decent women, or that women are evil, selfish beasts out to wreck your happiness. Even better, that there’s some magical foreign country where women are subservient goddesses and a much finer stock than our American ladies. Oh, you sad fucks. I regard any blanket assertion that casts exactly 50% of the nation’s population as a monolithic behaving entity like the retarded dreck that it is. There are hundreds of thousands of decent women, all potential dates and mates for you. Maybe not the poster-perfect ideal you’re thinking you deserve, but good women who you might be very happy with. They are out there, in spades. Just because your fucked up attractions and expectations put you in contact with the same 3 broken women over and over again does not give you the right or clarity to denounce the whole pasture. Women say worse about men as a whole, and they’re just as wrong. If you start your life with the idea that “all women are _______”, and fill that in with some pejorative, you are pretty much daring the gods to smite your attempts at finding a good mate. 99% of the battle is to be positive, confident, happy with yourself and making good choices so that one of those countless good women out there are in your path, and you run into her. If so far your exertion to find love and companionship is to play BF3 in your apartment with your two retarded roommates, you don’t get to say jack shit about all women. So when someone gives you the Debbie Downer view of the fairer sex, ask yourself how much life they’ve led…where have they lived, who they’ve been intimate with, and what each and everyone of those women would say about the dipshit standing in front of you. I’d bet it wasn’t glowing praise and probably well deserved.
3. There’s an analogy I want you to scorch into your little man-brain. It’s very important, and retardedly simple. Men’s instincts with women are much like the way we treat a pet dog. Dogs are like men, they’re simple and agreeable and if you smile and say “come here!” the dog will run to your side. You can manhandle him, throw him on the ground, rub his belly, grab his ears and he’ll wag his tail with delight. It’s how we are, so we tend to treat women the same way. Women, they’re like cats. If you yell at a strange cat to come here, it won’t. If you grab it and throw it down, attempt to rub its belly or its ears, it will attempt to claw your face off, or run terrified in the other direction. We know this is true, even of women, but often we’re just too fucking stupid to treat women in a way they respond to. How do you get a cat to come to you? You look interesting. You hold still. You offer a gentle hand if they show interest. You let them come and rub up against you. Then, you pet them gently and see if they respond favorably. This is how you need to be with women. Don’t pursue. Don’t yell. Don’t grab. Be interesting, be calm, be inviting. Be the thing they cannot resist coming to, instead of charging them with your boner out.
4. The cat analogy works with regards to sex, by and large. If you engage in the touching of girl parts (especially for the first time) like you’re painting a fence or trying to scrape the weather coating off of a roof, expect your performance to be judged in terms of how many showers it took her to wash the fail off. Treat a new girl like a cat; gentle, slow, methodical. Let her respond to you, and push against you when things feel good. At the very least, you’ll look like you’re taking an interest in her pleasure, and that means more than being a super stud. She might be a “harder/faster” girl, and if so you’ll figure it out quick, but don’t assume. Girls = cats. Got it?
5. On the topic of being attractive to women, let’s make a little effort ok? Women are usually very keen observers of your dress and the way you take care of yourself. Right or wrong, they’ll zero in on certain things to decide what kind of guy you are (and you’ll do it to her too…what does a lower-back-tat tell you? Same process). Women notice how you groom, big time. They notice your general build, they notice your shoes (a great amount of focus is on your shoes, believe it or not which if you think about it tells someone a lot about you). They notice how your hands look, your nails, your hair cut, all of it. All of these things send a signal, so make sure that the signal is the right one. I’m never going to tell a guy who lives in Arkansas and loves his truck and hunting to dress like he’s a graphic designer living in Soho, rather make sure that the signals you send represent your BEST qualities. If you’re a blue-collar guy, A nice Carhart jacket and Redwings, a good fitting pair of jeans, a nice henley shirt sends your message, and if you’re well groomed and your duds aren’t filthy trust me you look very appealing to women who think about a working man. See what I’m saying? It’s not about dressing to impress, it’s about dressing so that your character isn’t obscured in shitty clothes. If you’re a bit tacky, or you don’t know what you’re trying to convey, ask someone to help you out. Got a hot cousin? Tell her to take you to the mall and figure out what makes you look good. Just trust me your 13 year old Phantom Menace shirt, black Levis and cheap tennis shoes sends the message that you’re a chronic masturbator and possibly retarded. Clean your act up, and that is all part of my always important message of being the best version of you…and not just because you want a woman. Oh, and avoid neck-tats…unless you hate having a job AND a sane woman in your life.
6. One of the things that gets asked or said over and over again is that a young man will want to know how to get comfortable around women, or say that they’re awkward and don’t know what to talk about or say. This is nothing new, certainly countless young men have felt this way but there is something you can do about it. For one, don’t attempt to be a different you in the presence of women (or anyone else). Better to fail on honesty than to be thought a recluse because of your fear of being exposed. You might just find that you have more to talk about or say than you thought, but you have to talk to women with the same non-nonchalance that you would speak to your best friend’s little sister, or your cousin. You’re not aiming to impress, so it feels natural. Same here, you have to be able to put the brakes on your attraction enough to let you get past that first little hurdle…and it’s just a small hurdle that you can get past. I don’t normally prescribe tricks, but here’s one you can use if you’re in the company of someone you like and are having a hard time relaxing and being yourself. If you find yourself stumbling or feeling a little off, excuse yourself and say something like “Man, I don’t know why but I feel nervous. Isn’t that weird?” Say it very straightforward, and say it as if you are surprising yourself. It’s not a lie, you’re nervous, but it does something good which is address your feeling awkward and does it in a way that a woman will likely see as flattering. She’s evoking a reaction from you that you did not expect, and that will feel good to her…might even evoke some healthy sympathy (the kind that makes her want to make you feel better). The conversation that follows can be liberating for both of you, sometimes we just need a little permission to be scared. Women understand that. Women aren’t monsters, seriously. Well, some are. Cher for instance.
7. Another common theme I see with young men, and hell of a few old ones for that matter, is not being able to let go when they’re being jerked around. You meet a nice girl, you go out on a few dates, have fun and think she’s hot. Maybe you even sleep together, and then she start playing cold or is erratic or puts you off for mundane life. Newsflash: You ain’t doing it for her. Move. The. Fuck. Along. Now. Seriously, without going into a long explanation of the obvious, just ask yourself this simple question every time you face a luke-warm lady. If I am really into someone and it’s good, does ANYTHING stop me from being there or showing enthusiasm? Would a class? Would a busy schedule? Would another girl? No, no, and no. So, if you find yourself being played or stuck on the emotional tampon string, cut loose and never look back. For one, you save some much needed male dignity and for two if there’s a way to make someone realize you might be worth having afterall, it’s letting them know you’re off the hook (not that I suggest this as a motivation, but it happens). You don’t have to be mean, just move on with your life and stop taking their texts, or their half-assed tries, and go find your happiness with someone who doesn’t require all the work. Men are fixers, and we figure if you’ve gone out with us or let us down the panties (and it’s good), we can pry our way back in. That’s foolish, and desperate. Real attraction doesn’t require that, and again…think of the women like cats. When they want to rub your leg, pet them, but when they feel like roaming fuck it just a cat. Another will be by if you put your milk bowl out. Even if it’s hard, even if you really feel something, even if it kills you, don’t hang there waiting for it.
8. When it all goes wrong. If you start meeting women, going on dates, getting girlfriends or you’re already in that stage of your life and you find that in spite of your best attempts you just keep failing at relationships, put the handbrake on the blame game. It’s not the ladies, chief. The only constant is you, so it’s you. Let’s just get that right out there. I ate 9 times at White Castle before I realized that the diarrhea wasn’t the hamburgers, but my stomach protesting. I can blame the sliders, but at the end of the day I’m going to have to go elsewhere or spend some time in the shitter. Don’t be that dumbass. I’ve covered this in the first guide, but you are your attractions, and if they keep sucking then you owe it to yourself to break those cycles. Go somewhere else to meet them, hang out with different friends, join a new club, whatever the fuck it takes. And, when you find one that seems nice but isn’t just quite the ideal you’re used to, guess what? She’s probably the best choice because your trigger is broken. Start voting with the big head, and choose based on real actual compatibilities instead of “ooooh, feels right”. Because if you’re failing then “right” is “wrong”.
9. If you enter the online dating world, some pro-tips for you. Do not stand in a bathroom shirtless and take a picture of yourself in the mirror. This is sad, and desperate, and looks slightly homo-erotic. It works to pick up guys, tho. Also, under no circumstances should you ever aim that camera phone at your oddly misshapen dick. No one wants to see that shit. Women don’t want to, trust me. Well, I should say women that are worth dating don’t want to see your dick. Ever. Probably not even if they like you. If you post an ad, find a picture of you hanging with friends (this suggests you’re liked), make sure you’re all smiling (this suggests you’re fun), and make sure there’s at least one female and a dog in the group (this suggests you’re not creepy so as to scare off all females and pets). Do not post a long diatribe that attempts to dictate the terms of your many picky demands on women. Leave it wide open, mention that you’re fun and easy going, you love a girl that laughs and smiles, and will wrestle to determine which Meg Ryan movie you watch on your third date. You like good food, good friends, and wish you had someone special in your life. Don’t mention porn, your abs, or your car. I will write your ad for a small fee…usually for a picture of your penis.
10. Again, in summary, have some good honest self-awareness about who you are, who you want to be, and what someone who enters your life will be worth to you. Dating, relationships, marriage, they’re all just tests of your nature and willingness to learn. If you’re a dumb shit, you’re going to flail around and be unhappy and have unhappy people near you. If you can be honest, and roll with the punches and change the things that don’t work then you stand a good chance of having something worthwhile. There’s a lot of luck and happenstance involved when two people meet and fall for each other, but like hunting if you walk around waiting to shoot an animal it will take extraordinary good fortune to achieve what a good hunter can do regularly. Understand the movement and habits of your prey, empathize with their life, and put yourself in the best possible place to find the game you’re after. That means stepping outside of yourself and seeing you from the prey’s eyes. Even ugly, weird, and odd men find happiness in relationships. It’s not impossible, just a test of you, and that’s why it’s worth it.
Dear Dr. Swingset,
I have a question for the master. Although this affects my relationship with my wife, it’s more of a general life question. I’m 28 and married, have a good job and things are going well for me, but I feel just generally like I’m in a terrible rut and can’t get out of it. I don’t feel depressed or hate life or anything, just this awful malaise and I’m finding it hard to get excited about anything. I try to be a good husband, hang out with my friends and family, but inside sometimes I just want to say fuck it and jump in a car and just go. I know this is all common shit, but you seem like you might have a perspective on what to do when life just leaves you feeling, well, blah.
Well Jason, you’ve come to the right man. Life Coach Craig is here to kick you in the balls with pep! Go team! Rah! Let’s do it!
Ok, truthfully you know as you said that this is common stuff. It’s part of being human, we all face a time where we fall into a rut and get bored or feel a little empty….to a greater or lesser extent. So, on one hand there’s small comfort in the fact that you’re normal facing a normal reaction to your life. On the other, it sucks when you’re gutted and wondering how to fill the hole with some happiness. What is missing? Who’s fault is it? What will help? What will make it worse?
All genuine questions. So, trying my best to shed any trite, over-used cliches I will tell you what I know about it.
First off, you have to be gut-check honest with yourself about some things. Namely, that you’re willing to realize you have created yourself, and that only you are going to get yourself that big bowl of happy…by the choices you start making. Trite? Ok, yeah that was but it doesn’t make it any less true. The sick feedback-loop of depression, or just of being depressed, is that you feel bad so you don’t move, and this makes you more sedate, more atrophied….more willing to shake off that nagging pressure in your belly that says “Get up, change shit, thrive!”. You know that’s what you have to do, but you don’t, or you rationalize why you can’t, or you just fear the failure if you don’t get it right.
So, here’s the deal…instead of going even more Tony Robbins on you, I’m going to give you five really good things to think about, things to contemplate about your situation, and your future. If they resonate, think hard on them, act on them, and use them.
1. Your situation is dangerous. I think you already know this. Happiness is terrific armor, and many of the poorest choices we make are because of fear, desperation, or sadness. When you feel empty or motionless, you’re more apt to work against your own best interests, and more susceptible to people who do the same. This is bad for you, and especially bad for your marriage. Be careful.
2. To start moving, it’s not as important to fix the big shit, as it is to start changing the stuff that seemingly is unconnected to your happiness. By this I mean start with the building blocks, not because they are important but because they structure the health of your future self – the you that you should be building. So what are these things? Start eating good, even if it sucks, even if you find it hard or expensive or confusing. Do the same with working out, keeping active. These do not make you happy by themselves, but they give you the tools and the mindset of improvement, and a stronger body and mind to build it with.
3. Next, change your habits. Feeling empty means you’re starting to not care about the little shit, I know, I’ve done it. The next time you see a cup on the kitchen counter that should be put away, don’t move right past it and get your cereal. Put it away, right then, no excuses. Make that kind of meaningful, constructive, purposeful action your daily habit. It will, again, spill into your new self in the best ways. We are our habits, and making yourself better is just that simple. Stupid, but true.
4. Ditch every single negative person in your life, and start surrounding yourself with people who are healthy. This one’s tough, but it’s the motherload of self-improvement. If your 5 closest friends are all lazy, shiftless guys who make shitty decisions, guess what? You’re likely going to be much like them, much of the time. If they are all hardcore workout freaks who play sports? Guess what? You’re probably going to be playing some sports with your buddies. See where I’m going with this? It might rub your constitution wrong to abandon friends, or family, or to put distance between you, but finding positive influences and surrounding yourself with them is in my humble opinion the most healthy thing you will ever do.
5. Lastly, before you begin turning yourself into the best version of you, which I encourage and applaud, take your wife out to a nice dinner and explain that you will be doing this, that you love her, and you want her to be your partner in making a new and better life for yourself. After all, the idea of marriage is an adventure together, and she had better be on board. If she is? You may find your newfound spirit contagious and see a change in her too.
It’s not an easy thing to want to be happy and just make it so, and a lot of people fail because they believe they have no control over their own emotional well-being, or feel that external forces are preventing them from it. It’s your life to live and make as you see fit, so get started.
I’m going to go off script and be political and serious…I promise it won’t be a habit.
I’m a union member, working in the private sector in Ohio, in a skilled trade with 20 years experience that required education and apprenticeship. I just compared the average state employee’s wages to my own. It’s higher than mine. Average bus drivers? More. IT people? More. Teachers? Firefighters? More. Police? More. They get twice as many days off (not counting teachers), have superior healthcare that costs a fraction of what I pay, pensions that humble mine, they get dental and vision, life insurance…all of which I have to pay extra for. Their retirement age is typically much lower than mine, their pensions set at a rate they can improve with OT helped by seniority, another advantage few have (I don’t).
I appreciate the jobs they do, the choice to serve the public for a living, but I’m having a hard time believing they speak for the middle class or workers everywhere, when they cry foul that the public (by way of its elected representatives) no longer wants the public unions to bargain against the taxpayer for pay and benefits the public doesn’t have access to. Many people, myself included, value state employees. I know your job isn’t always easy – but you work for me, and I’m getting tired of hearing what martyrs you are. You chose public employment, you sought it, and you should have known full well you work for that public not vice versa. In tough times where budgets are severely stretched, you’re being asked to live by the same standards of those you chose to serve, living with the same uncertainty and risk most of us do. You’re not being fired, you’re simply being asked to seek your own interests instead of having a big political body do it for you. Will you make less should collective bargaining be stricken from public employment? Maybe. Will you get less? Maybe. Maybe you were getting too much earning better than those you serve. If the voters are evil for asking this of you, and that’s who put Kasich in office btw, you can come walk in their shoes for a while. In fact, that’s the ultimate “collective bargaining”, isn’t it?
If the public was wrong for all of this, you’ll prove them right when services suffer at your loss…and they’ll demand your previous conditions. If one city pays better than another, the best employees will go there…their services will be better, their citizens happier. The other cities will follow or they’ll put up with less service. And, if you tire of public service and that pesky public that elected the folks who didn’t want your union, you can quit any time you like. In fact, again, that’s your ultimate action against whatever conditions you find unfavorable about your chosen profession. That’s how I have to do it, my union isn’t strong enough nor my employer pliable enough to ensure me limitless employment with all the benefits even when the coffers run dry.
I find it ironic that Wisconsin, now the hotseat in the battle over public sector unions, was the first state to allow them – when at the time even labor leaders thought the idea of collective bargaining against the state was absurd. George Meany, the former AFL-CIO leader said “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.” That changed when the dues money started rolling in, but at least early on people saw the inherent conflict even those deeply rooted in the labor movement.
FDR, darling of the unions, agreed with him: “… Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the government. All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations … The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for … officials … to bind the employer … The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives …
“Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees. Upon employees in the federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people … This obligation is paramount … A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent … to prevent or obstruct … Government … Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government … is unthinkable and intolerable”.
These statements were not made in the stone-ages or by hardcore conservative Neocons, this was at the height of the union’s relevance when it was seriously shaping the landscape of the American worker, mind you and the men who disagreed with the idea were the pillars of the collectivist landscape. I don’t think anything’s changed, except the precedence that allows people who seek to serve the public now feel entitled to pay and benefits better than those they serve, hell they’re demanding it in protest. I think that’s what FDR was cautioning against, don’t you?
If you’re still in favor of the public sector union, just do some simple “what if’s” with me. What if there were collective bargaining for military personnel? Don’t laugh, it makes perfect sense if you allow that police and firemen are afforded the same. The military offers you pay, work, but in return you offer as much risk, sweat, toil, industry and even your life as any “necessary” job in the public sector. The motivations to serve are the same, the opportunities very similar. Yet, if soldiers were allowed to unionize and collectively bargain for better treatment, pay, benefits and working conditions they would (like the cop and firefighter) be given the chance for union representation to file grievances over orders, the choice of battle & deployment, even seniority in rank and promotion verses merit, I can’t imagine a more slick and efficient way to run a military, can you? What is really different about the inherent conflicts of public unions and the idea of a military union? If you’re reading this and disagree with me, probably the only difference is you have a vested interest in your own paycheck or pension – and don’t have one in the military. Other than that, they are rather identical in the scope of what each entity serves the general good, and what potential (and often real) destructive influence a union has over each.
I got an interesting letter from a fan. By fan I mean an inmate at a correctional facility who apparently found my blog and enjoys reading it to pass the time between workout sessions and forced sodomy. Anywho…here ’tis:
“Dear mr. swingset (nobody calls me mister, but thank you anyway), what gives with your damned blog? You were like on fire and lately nothing! You’re not spewing out all the gems of wisdom that you used to. Are you broken? Do you need encouragement? Laid? What’s up with you?”
Signed, Larry in Lockdown unit 4.
Well Larry, thank you for your concern and for your letter. What with soap carving and shiv-making occupying much of your day, I can’t imagine that a little blogger in the free world would rate enough interest to reorganize your schedule…but I appreciate it.
Anyway, let’s tackle the big question. What happened that my posts just dried up like your conjugal visits once your beleaguered squeeze found out you got hep-C from a shower trist?
Well…there are three answers, all equally correct:
1. Nothing has happened (up until your refreshing state-sponsored correspondence) to warrant talking about.
2. I’ve been hard at work on my manifesto and making lists of people who will pay.
3. I’m lazy and my sex life is good enough that free time is rightly spent doing things you have to look up on the internet.
Now, that’s not to say that I have felt good about my neglect of the blog. It’s my baby, and like all good parents I do feel somewhat bad when I forget to feed it and I can see it squirming around all emaciated and sickly. And, sometimes I’d love it if the baby would just feed itself. I mean, it’s fucking selfish and I’d half-expected the thing to at least develop a pulse and tool-making skills by now.
Wait, what were we talking about again?
Oh yeah…anyway…I haven’t really been inspired. Not in the way that matters. I need things to mystify me, to anger me, to get under my skin. It’s fucked up, but I’m just happy and content and that’s no good for the soul. Sure, it’s pleasant I wouldn’t trade it for anything but Picasso didn’t paint naked ladies because he was content.
So, here’s what I propose. You need entertaining that Geoff your hulking convict cellmate can’t provide, and I need the spark of inspiration. We need each other, in a way. Perhaps what we can do is feed off of each other’s needs a bit.
I’ll keep spooling out the genius and shit, and you stop writing me emails because frankly it’s creeping me out. Deal? Now, don’t get your hopes too high cause my rants might seem mellow when I’m happy and all is right in the world…I might just bitch about the slow refills at the buffet and when you’re having to blow guys in trade for smokes, it may not light your fire but I know that some things are more important than me, and if it keeps you on the path of redemption then I must persevere.
There exists a deep, dark mystery in the universe. It’s a slippery, unknowable secret in the fabric of the reality we face from day to day. Is it the existence of life on other planets? Phffff. Kid’s stuff. Is it perhaps the conspiracy to kill JFK? Get out. Could it even be the meaning of existence itself? Nah, Bobby McFerrin had that figured out.
No kids, this is what we need to devote some neurons to. Why the hell do Arby’s sammiches cost so damned much? I spent $8 for a fucking value meal. That’s serious coin for a gooey bun with some shavings of not-warm-enough beef and some curly fries. Fuck.
As I type this, I’m watching a documentary on Netflix about Auschwitz, and perhaps my suffering pales in comparison. Who’s to say? But I can tell you this, not even the free-refills of Diet Pepsi made me feel like a satisfied customer, and I left the fast-food establishment feeling like my wallet had been violated worse than a female reporter in an Egyptian mob. Yeah, it was that bad.
Now, I know you’re thinking “Wow, swingset, your white guy problems really suck”, but I’m stung by this injustice and I want answers. Seriously, why is all that shit so expensive? Applebees charges $8.99 for a big restaurant style and fries. Chipotle runs ya $8 for a burrito and some Coke, and it weighs approximately 700 times as much as the Arby’s meal. I saw a salt truck weighing down his axles for traction with a Chipotle burrito bowl once. Swear to God.
Well, I don’t know if you have answers. Unless you’re on the corporate board for those beef-slicing terrorists, you are probably not privy to the evil machinations of their price structure, but I’m here to tell you it’s wrong, wrong, wrong.
Well, as Howard Beale said, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” You heard me, this sucks and I won’t be taken advantage of again, I don’t care how many free souffles of ketchup that hellhole offers in compensation. From here on out, I’m eating at the Chinese buffet. $8, all the salt & pepper frog’s legs you can eat and the cute little diplomats from the People’s Republic bring me a fortune cookie when I’m so full I have to be rolled out to my car.
I think as world events have shown us, a few motivated people can really fuck up a country armed with Twitter and the willingness to admit they have no plan. People need to speak up, they need to get organized, and demand answers to the problems of their society. If you sit there and take it, it’ll hurt our children, and their children. Yeah, it’s that important. It starts in small ways, like at Arby’s over the price of those fucking sammiches.
So, here I am asking you to do something too….fight the good fight. Resist. Don’t conform, comrades! Don’t you eat that Arby’s shit. It’s not worth it, trust me it’s just not.
Dear Dr. swingset,
I have a debate going with my wife, hoping you can settle this between us. We have a friend in common, a guy we both went to school with. He’s married, and we know and like his wife. She’s not our close friend, but we both think she’s a nice person. Our friend has told us both, separately on different occasions that he’s in love with his partner at work and is thinking about leaving his wife. This was several months ago, and at first we were just kind of “well, good luck with that” not knowing what to think. The problem is, my wife and I were talking in his company the other day and mentioned we were going on a cruise with another couple. He expressed a big interest in going, and asked if “we could tag along?” We stalled saying we weren’t solid about our plans yet but would let him know, but it’s incredibly awkward. We’re not even sure what “we” he was talking about, the partner or his wife, and no matter what he meant it’s weird.
I’m of the opinion that we should tell him we’d rather not since his marriage is in trouble and we like his wife and don’t want in the center of that. I don’t value his friendship so much that I want this kind of shit to deal with. The wife doesn’t want to alienate them as friends, or confront him like that and thinks we should let him and whoever come along or move our cruise date. What say you? Signed, Mike.
Well, Mike, I’d bet you know where I’ll side in this, especially if you’ve read much of my advice so let me surprise you by saying “Yes, I think anal sex is perfectly healthy and you should consider experimenting.” Oh wait, I’m confused I thought you were someone else.
You’re in the right here, as far as your own marriage, vacation and integrity goes. I don’t think there’s much of a debate, really. Your friend is on the rocks and probably cheating on his wife, has put that little burning egg in your hands to hold, and now wants to put that weird situation in your lap on a vacation where you’re trapped on a boat, in the ocean, far from reality and where you went to relax and forget about shit like this. Not only no, but hell no.
And, this assumes the best case which is the wife comes along. Even then, the potential for weirdness and distraction is great, and in the worst case you’re being used as a front for him to bring his side squeeze…hopefully he’s not that bold, but I don’t put it past anyone.
There is I believe a defining characteristic of all real friends, and it doesn’t come from how long you’ve known him or how many tools he’s let you borrow, or if he’s helped you in a fist fight. Those things don’t really matter. A true friend does not ask you to carry the burden of his self-made chaos.
This friend has done just that, and he’s done it to you and your wife. He’s already placed you in a tough situation just by his announcement of intentions to leave his wife, now he’s wanting to make it even more awkward. That’s nothing you need in your life, and if he’s prone to laying it on you it won’t be the last dump of chaos you’ll be expected to carry.
Your plan to tell him no is not only the most prudent, but the most honest, and ultimately shows you’re the better friend by forcing him to confront his own choices. He needs to hear that laying his marriage trouble on you has consequences, and your wife’s plan either rewards them or sidesteps them. I understand her not wanting to do so, that’s a normal reaction, but I believe yours is the prudent one.
A good marriage sets boundaries and guards them from all encroachment. Even if this seems like a little thing, and even if your friend’s actions won’t necessarily ruin your trip, it’s still important to put your guard up and say “Hey, we’re not really happy to be in the middle of your mess at the moment”.
How you deliver this to your friend is probably dependent on whether you want to keep him as friend, but I’d suggest telling him that you’re not sure what’s going on with his love triangle, and ultimately you’re not there to judge him, but you think he should sort that out before going on a vacation with you. If he’s any kind of friend, he’ll understand. If he can’t take it? What have you really lost?
Last week on the podcast I introduced listeners to story of my beginnings in the working world, my short and memorable first employer – the now defunct Burger Chef fast food chain. It was 1986, and the world was fresh and new to 16 year old swing. Maverick & Goose were flying high, President Reagan was kicking ass, and I had a battered 1977 Chevy Malibu that got 8 miles to the gallon, and that tank needed fillin. Where else can you earn $2.92 an hour and wear a humiliating rayon baby-shit brown safety-suit, all while rocking out with the hippest and most upwardly mobile folks in Central Ohio? There was only one place where it all went down.
It was an innocent time, I needed money and the flailing, struggling Burger Chef needed someone dumb enough to stand over a burning hot grill for 8 hours in a flammable polyester suit and soak up airborne grease. We were quite a couple, Burger Chef and I. My employment entailed the incredibly complex task of being the grillmaster’s helper, the #2 meat man…the “decorator”. I took the freshly pressed & cooked patties and splashed them with condiments and piled them high on freshly (or not so freshly) toasted buns….wrapped them up neatly (as if a blind paraplegic had wrestled them), and then sent them down a stainless steel playground slide to the front counter help. Easy peasy.
Sure, there was an intensive training period. I worked out to Kenny Loggins tunes, jogged, lifted weights, skipped rope to sharpen my mind and body to be a master of my meat-craft. It wasn’t enough to just wear the regulation one-size-fits-none pants and striped smock. You had to LIVE the meat decorating. You had to dream it, sweat it, do it without thought or contemplation. I bled grease and mayo, bitches.
Now, I mentioned it on the podcast but the brown regulation uni’s were a holdout from an earlier, more successful time in the Burger Chef arc. They were from 1979, but 7 years of hard laborious use hadn’t worn these sexy duds out at all…in fact the grease and teenager sweat had formed the fabric into a dense, indestructible matrix….like a poor man’s kevlar. In addition to being a walking firehazard, the suits acted as a super-insulator. All heat was retained and the balmy 114 degree temps around the grill station made wearing the whole get up quite cozy. Other interesting properties of the brown leisure suit was that it could repel women and small arms fire. How this was handy to my kitchen assignments, I really don’t know but it kept me focused on the important work of slathering cheap meat with ketchup.
Unfortunately for you, and fortunately for me, no pictures exist of my time in the brown sex I called the Burger Chef uniform…but some googling has revealed two photos of employees of that era dressed in these duds. This one shows Burger Chef Daryl, working behind the promotional characters Burger Chef & Jeff, manning my former station…the #2 grillmaster spot. Notice the sexy paper canoe hat, and how comfortable Daryl looks as his hair and pores soak up all that grease and heat.
This is another picture from around the same time featuring the same smock I had to endure, with the fantastically slick striped sleeves…embroidered so as to never fall off. I love this picture, because I imagine that just prior to this the manager informed Ronnie here to take the mop to the back of the store, and run off those pesky clowns and parade animals.
It was a hell of a uniform, notice the huge collars, the bewildered face on the poor guy….not unlike the vacant stare of a Holocaust victim right before liberation. How I wasn’t waist-deep in pussy after a hard shift, I’ll never understand.
So, we’ve seen the pride I obviously had in the digs and overall aesthetic of working Burger Chef. It’s not to say it was all bad. I dug the food. Really.
Burger Chef had some good burgers, and their apple pies with cinnamon sugar were the source of my gastrointestinal fortitude. Even as a youngin’ I begged mom to take me to the Chef for a Funburger box. Remember those? They fucking rocked. I still have a couple of the shitty little plastic frisbees that they came with.
There was a lot to love about the Chef. That was, until you spent some time cleaning the ladies bathroom with a mop and a little spray bottle of red cleaning fluid. Then, it was just a matter of survival. I can’t hold that against my former employer…such is the penence for a young man trying to better himself. It was a character builder, and if the brown suit didn’t kill me then some tampons and baby diapers weren’t going to.
In truth, I miss it sometimes.
Life was simple. Grab meat, squirt some stuff on it, throw it to a 17 year old girl that thinks you’re a douche while a manager that’s fresh out of community college screams at you, repeat/rinse.
Life turned out ok for me, I eventually graduated from the Burger Chef school of hard knocks and got that dream job at Putt Putt. But I’ll never forget the Chef and the good times…the pay, the women, the summer of love spent dodging flying beer bottles, putting every cent of my paycheck into gas to get home, the Silkwood-shower to remove the film of toxic grease from my clogged skin, it really was magical. Let me leave you with some more pics that capture the magic of Burger Chef. Mmmm.
Dear Dr. swingset,
I have a little relationship conundrum and I know you have an answer for me. My brother listens to your show and after I told him this, he said “You have to ask swingset”…so here I am. I’m 24, female and going to graduate school. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 6 years and we’re doing the long-distance thing he’s at school too that’s several states away. We have a great relationship and have plans to be together after school. Every time we see each other, which unfortunately isn’t that often, it’s great and we’re very happy.
The problem is I have a friend, we’ll call him Joe, that I have gotten to know and see daily. We hang out from time to time and I’ve found myself growing increasingly attracted to him. He knows this I think, and I know he’s kind of into me but so far I haven’t done anything about it. Of course, I’m conflicted because I get lonely and miss my boyfriend and still love him but increasingly I find myself thinking about Joe and know that he’s into me and the prospect is attractive. I’m so torn I don’t know what to do. – Jill
Well Jill, the good news is I’ve heard your story before. It’s not uncommon at all, and you’re not alone in battling separation, temptation, and your own expectations. The bad news? Well, you’re careening towards breakup curve with a bottle of Mad Dog between your legs.
The very problem with long-distance relationships, especially for young people, is personified in your story. Separation creates loneliness, then opportunity, then doubt, then ultimately a turning of the attraction sails until you don’t remember who you’re supposed to be with. None of this is necessarily an indictment against you. You have been with your boyfriend since high school, and relationships at that age seldom last into adulthood anyway…they’re really not even designed to, but you’ve got a boyfriend somewhere else while you live your life and grow up where you are.
That’s the whole crux of the problem. You’re in a trajectory of your own life…learning, growing, experiencing life as a new adult. So is your boyfriend. The issue here is as you attempt to experience your young life you’re changing and your attractions are vulnerable. It’s hard enough to do it when you’re seeing each other, it’s even harder when the only thing tethering him to you are memories and somewhat lifeless communication. You know he’s far away, and you know hot-blooded Joe is right there. Joe, by the way, is inevitable. If you’re attractive to anyone, separation will bring out a warm body who will seem good for you, or promise to end your loneliness. It’s probably happened or happening to your boyfriend too. That’s why long-distance relationships implode as a rule.
Now, that’s not to say all is lost. You’re torn, but you’re not torn because your relationship with your boyfriend is bad. You’re in conflict because there’s a cupcake under your nose, the one you’re not supposed to eat, and you’re hungry. So, from here on out realize that whatever choice you make or decision that comes in regards to Joe, you’re willing that one to be. Your boyfriend is away and it sounds like neither of you can change that…but how you behave in his absence and the behaviors you engage in are yours to own, good and bad, just as you’d expect from your boyfriend.
If you value your relationship with your boyfriend, and you want that to be your future you need to cut Joe out of your life, wholly and completely, and stick to it. No “just friends”…that’s bullshit and you know it. You’re in a state of foreplay, he wants it and you want it. We’re clear on that, yes? If your boyfriend is more important than your attraction to Joe, tell Joe no more and don’t see him anymore. Propriety keeps you from making a bad choice, innocent contact turns into relaxed behavior, justification, and separation from your feelings for your BF…they already have.
If you can’t look past Joe, and honestly feel he is worth losing your boyfriend to – and let’s be honest anything you do with Joe will and should be the end of your present relationship – then be honorable and deliver the unpleasant and honest news to your boyfriend that you’re done. Don’t toy with him, don’t give him false hopes, tell him it’s over and you wish him well but you’re in love with someone else. The end. If you’re going to go through the trouble of falling in love with someone else, of your own choice, then be decent and give your boyfriend the chance to cleanly move on with his life and find his happiness with someone else.
There’s no “right” answer. Joe might not be the right guy for you. Your boyfriend might be a safety valve that you rely on, but ultimately not a long-term prospect. In fact, neither guy may be your husband or long term love. That’s the risks and chances we all live with. I can’t know your relationships to tell you how to choose, all I can suggest is that if you keep plowing ahead trying to keep a hand on both vines, you’ll fall and possibly lose them both…and some of your emotional integrity to boot.
Yes, it’s that time again. I wish everyone a favorable Yule/Solstice/Saturnalia celebration, and please try to remember that the reason for the season is to co-opt the traditions of Pagans, non-Christians, Romans and pretty much everyone else who wasn’t at one time on board with the birth of Baby Jesus, who was in all probability born around May 20th. He’s a fine guy, and I wholeheartedly wish you and he all the Merry best on his birth, but please for fuck’s sake stop pounding your fist in righteous indignation that someone has co-opted your Christmas with commercialism or non-religious pagentry. You have no claim on this season, but I’m still willing to share it. Even as a skeptic and infidel, I enjoy Nativity scenes and religious carols. It reminds me of the beauty of the season, the memories of my childhood, the reverence for a day of giving….and even Jesus blowing out his candles in May could understand that. I love Christmas, even if it’s not really Christmas at all. It’s a season of togetherness, of unity, of peace and happiness just to be with the ones you love. I totally dig it.
It’s also a time of good bowl games, and sales at the mall, and cool movies, and cool food that only comes around once a year. That’s not a slam on the Big J, it’s just another thing to smile about. Stop taking it personal, Christians, celebrate in your own way however you see fit and don’t demand that everyone else does exactly the same, too. Heck, if you want it all to yourselves, move the whole birth of the Big Guy up a couple months for some accuracy. That’ll show us.
There’s room for it all, I hate political correctness as much as anyone, in fact I want to kick the atheist who insists on removing religious idoltry from the town square for being a douche. But, there’s nothing holy about December 25th, so don’t get high and mighty and kill my fun with dour predictions of the demise of America because Kmart says “Happy Holidays” on their sales banner. It’s as much the Jew’s claim on it as yours, just chill out. Trust me, the whole season’s a lot more fun when you relax.
Seriously, have a wonderful and safe Christmas this year. Thank you for reading my blog, listening to my podcasts, and I hope your year is wonderful.
Nothing on earth makes me as frustrated as grown men, slave to the word of their wives for everything they do. Seems like more and more when I get to know someone I otherwise like it turns out their dicks are in a mason jar over the wife’s headboard, and anything the husband wants to do, even the slightest indulgence or good clean fun must be begged for by the woman.
Now, I know this is not the woman’s fault – in fact it’s entirely the man’s, but I still end up getting furious at both of them for being fucked up.
I have a shooting range on my property, a pretty cool one. And, of course this is like having a swimming pool in that folks want to come over and use it. That’s cool, I partially built it so that me and my friends could enjoy it. The problem comes when friends call me (mind you, they call me), and ask if such and such a day we could get together and shoot. Great says I, I’m always up for it and I immediately make plans. This includes letting the wife know “Hey hon, I’m going shooting on Saturday”.
Now, here’s where the pussy coward makes his first mistake. When I INFORM my wife of my plans, I’m doing just that, not asking…because until now the presumption is I have the day free. My plans are sealed because I’ve a: not heard of anything else I should be doing, and b: given my word to friends that I will be available. 99.9% of the time, this is completely kosher with the wife…just as it would be if she told me of plans of hers. If we need each other, we say so. If I hear nothing, then my day is open. Isn’t that supposed to be the way planning works?
Well, of course the vagina-phobe trembles at the sound of his wife’s voice – and he’s such a noodle-spined 12 year old that he made plans with a buddy without mentioning it to the wife, hoping that she will LET HIM PLAY. He then slinks to her, like a beaten catholic school boy, hoping that when he drops news of his plans, she doesn’t counter with “But I wanted you to hang Christmas lights for 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday at precisely the time you wanted to shoot, and not a second before or after!” And, like a good boy, he says “Sorry dear, you’re right I’ll cancel my plans because your inconsistent whims outweigh my happiness and the plans of my friends that I’ve now fucked up”. CRACK!
And to even further exacerbate his lack of manhood, nitwit fails to own up to his lack of scrotum by waiting until Friday at 11pm before emailing me and letting me know that not only has his wife shit on his plans, but mine as well as I’ve now shifted my schedule so he can come and play on my range, which WAS HIS FUCKING IDEA!!!!!!!!
I have now adopted a new policy at my range. If you are married, or in a serious relationship, and you break plans and fuck up my day because of your cowardice where your joyless hag is concerned, you don’t get invited back. Added to the bottom of the range rule sign right under “Don’t shoot yourself” will be “If you can’t keep that bitch in line, stay home and bake cookies like an emasculated whipping boy!”.
Ok, I feel better.
Ladies, if you shit on your husband’s hobbies like this merely to squelch his having fun, I hope you get cancer of the happy hole, and rot to death in a nursing home all by yourself. Do you really want to take the small indulgences your husband enjoys and vilify them or take them away like a mean-spirited nun? If so, you are the only reason I celebrate the institution of divorce. I hope your husbands leave you for a gay cowboy.
Cuckolded men, if you want to have a hobby with other men, well guess what? You’re not going to because of your mother issues and your controlling, dour, gorilla of a wife. Sorry about your luck. Maybe she’ll let you build balsa planes or read books about birds.