The Hazards of Blogging

To all my readers, I apologize for my absence of posts as of late… life has been hectic. And despite that my friends and family may have stopped reading my blog regularly, I would like to thank a devoted group of folks who keep my daily blog post reads usually in the 5 to 10 range.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with modern day blogging, most blog sites not only tell you the number of reads your blog gets per day, but it can also tell you the following:

*The number of reads each post gets per day and week.

*What search engines were used to find the blog.

*What search terms you put into google that made you click on said blog.

*What country you are in when you read my blog.

*And if you clicked on any of the photos in said blog.

This excess of knowledge about the people reading my blog leads me to:

Hazard # 1:  If you use the words “teen” and “tube top” in a blog title, an obscene number of perverts will be reading your blog daily (approximately 5 to 10 perverts per day).

That’s right folks… I get a pretty regular amount of hits from people plugging some variation of “teens wearing tube tops as skirts” into google and then clicking on this post: Me making fun of fashion for teens. I also get, less frequently however, young girls hoping for a tutorial on “how to wear a tube top as a skirt.” Ugh. Oh the downfall of society.

So thank you to all the devoted perverts out there, and all of the idiot teen girls bored on the internet: You are making the internet porn industry go round. The only thing satisfying for me about this entire ordeal is that everyone is leaving my blog post sorely disappointed as it only contains photos of mannequins.

So now that everyone is busy erasing their web browser histories we can move onto:

Hazard # 2: You will mock people, and they will say it is ok, but it turns out it really isn’t.

So I was on the phone with my Mom yesterday just chatting like normal. We catch up once or twice a week, but it has been on the less frequent side since she and my sister were both here a mere two weeks ago for a wedding. So it was kind of surprising when about 15 minutes into the conversation she pops up with “So I am moving to another apartment upstairs. The movers are coming tomorrow.” In case you are wondering why this is surprising or otherwise, please read this post…. which highlights the moving debacles of my mother.

So now I just feel bad because my 65 year-old mom is moving without my help (or my sister’s help… who only lives 45 minutes from my mom)… all because I needed the world to know that she owns too much shit.

As a manager, I know there are tons of ways to motivate people to do things. You can reward someone with words, with prizes, you can coach, or possibly inspire. But it turns out, that the most effective way to get anything done is through public shaming… even it if is unintentional. (It’s ok mom… I wouldn’t have told me either).  So now that you are thinking what a horrible human being I am… we can move onto:

Hazard # 3: To censor or not to censor.. that is the question.

So this may seem like a ridiculous thought to you all… but it turns out… people actually read my blog. I started writing as a cathartic way to get rid of some emotional baggage, and it turned into a funny thing that people wanted to read. So I have found myself doing a lot of writing and not posting because I am afraid of offending someone. I think with most humor writers this is always a conundrum (it is also the reason most famous people hate Chelsea Handler). And quite frankly, some of the most offensive stuff out there is the most hilarious. If we all sat around being polite all the time we would be like…the Amish.

And then there are the surprising messages/facebook requests from former flames (not even a phone call) regarding whether you kept writing (because they have apparently been google stalking you but can’t find anything because they aren’t adept at this whole new fangled thing called the internet). I politely told them all to fuck off.  You didn’t deserve me then and you don’t deserve me now.

If you want to know some things about me now… here it is:

I bike to work everyday like a bat out of hell. I am in a healthy relationship. At 31, “keeping it tight” takes longer than it used to… and now it involves heat rash. My current favorite form of exercise in drunk bicycling. I am far from perfect and it is a beautiful thing. I still don’t have any tattoos. I live in a safer neighborhood now so I am thinking about going blond again. I was recently told by a customer that I have nice gums (he later admitted he was an oral surgeon and then it made a lot more sense).  My beloved dog has a fatty tumor and will soon be having obscenely expensive doggy liposuction since the fat is in her armpit and getting large enough to impede her movement. After being involved with a lot of weddings this summer, if I ever get married it will be at a courthouse.  I am not too old to have friendship bracelets. I could go on for hours but will spare you all the gritty details… this week.

Thanks for reading. I promise to write each week. Namaste.

The FFF… is not the FFA or the FAA.

 

*I would like to preface this post with the following statements:

-I did not attend the Fetish Fair… I am only recounting what I saw in my place of work and taking a few highlights from online research.

-I am very accepting of all types of people, lifestyles, sexual habits, etc. But if one is ballsy enough to wear a ball-gag around the mall on a Saturday, one should expect that at least one person would write about it. I tried really hard not to stare. But I think that is kind of what they are going for, right?

Every year, the Rhode Island Convention center hosts the FFF, the Fetish Fair Fleamarket… which is exactly what it sounds like. It is a chance for folks of alternative sexual practices/lifestyles to come together and let their freak flag fly. Funnily enough, the convention center is massive enough so that the FFF only takes up half of the convention center for Presidents Day weekend, leaving the other half available for the busy holiday weekend. So who inhabited the other side for the weekend? In an awesome twist of fate… it was parents weekend for the local Catholic College.  Irony or amazing? They actually put a giant black sheet at the top of the escalators so the buttoned-up Catholic parents don’t have to see the fishnet/corseted awesomeness going on above them.

The whole clashing of full on conservative Catholics vs. people walking their spouses around on leashes (no joke) could be completely missed by the naked eye in the city of Providence since most people remain indoors. But since the mall is attached to the convention center and two massive hotels… this is one of my favorite weekends to work and have a front row seat to the show.

So the first customers of the day on Saturday are a couple of unusual nature… as to be expected. He is a good-looking guy in his early 20’s wearing a ridiculous ensemble of a fake fur vest, chains, and baggy black jeans. My first thought upon seeing him was “I am an advocate against animal cruelty but they have got to make better fake fur than that monstrosity.” He is accompanied by a rather unattractive woman probably in her early 50’s who could easily be his mother. Think Kathy Bates in “About Schmidt” but with acid wash jeans and a pink T-shirt (and no full frontal nudity… thank God). Just lovely. They wander around the store for a bit while my co-worker and I show them this and that… when this gem comes out of the mouth of western Rhode Island style Kathy Bates:

“So what do you have for a dominant like me who likes to have my feet rubbed?”

And that is when it clicks in my head. Riiiiiiiiight… You dress this poor dude up and parade him around like a young girl would a pony (insert your own inappropriate “riding” joke here).  So my thoughts for this poor guy jump from cruelty-free fake fur… to the questions that all women get asked on their annual trip to the gynecologist:

“Are you in a safe relationship? Do you feel that there is coercion in your relationship? Do you feel safe during sexual intercourse? Has anyone ever made you do something sexually that you didn’t want to do?” But I guess he likes it. Because I can think of no other reason that a relatively attractive man in his 20’s would spend his spare time FOR FUN acting out the movie “Misery. “

But instead of saying any of those thoughts out loud, I start babblinig about Foot Cream and foot scrubs (but definitely not offering to use them on her feet)… while they eye each other lasciviously. It was like “50 Shades of Gray” but with role reversal and terrifyingly unattractive people. My co-worker did give the submissive an arm massage and then western Rhode Island Kathy Bates threatened to take her back to the hotel with them and utilize her skills. It is going to be a looooooong day.

And after watching crowds of people wearing alternative stuff wander around all weekend… I was left with these thoughts:

*Why are there so many people in Kilts? Is this an homage fetish to “free-balling” or did the Scottish have a really kinky lifestyle that I an unaware of? Easy access perhaps?

*Yes we noticed that the dog collar your wife is wearing matches the pink and black leather leash that is in your back pocket.  We got it.

*Just because your kids are in their 20’s does not mean it is ok for them to attend the fetish fair with you. In fact… it is kind of creepy that you and your daughter have on matching bustiers. Paging Maury Povitch…. 

So this random mashup of life forced me to do some online research about the FFF. Turns out it is hosted several times a year and around the United States. And while the website is quite informative about what all goes on at the event itself, the FAQ was probably the most entertaining. Here are some highlights:

In case you are curious what to wear:

“Is there a dress code? What should I wear?

Fetishwear is not required for most events. You will see people in cardigan sweaters and others in head-to-toe spiked latex. You choose your comfort level, but for shopping and classes put on a pair of jeans and a black turtleneck/T-shirt and you will fit right in. (Sometimes the night time parties such as masquerade balls may require a costume, fetish wear, or formal wear.) In all shared areas of the hotel such as lobby, elevator, and restaurants, we require people to be PG-13 in their presentation. No G-strings or pasties, and no bare buttcheeks. No nudity is allowed at the FFF. (Note:Wearing something see-through that shows your pink bits is considered nudity.)”

I should have probably put the rules first, but these seem pretty straight-forward right?:

What are the rules? Anything I should or should not do?


The rules are pretty simple:


No nudity.
 No unauthorized cameras/photography.
 No cell phone camera use.
  (Those made sense. No one should probably let those pictures of people in turtlenecks out into social media… soooo 1980’s ski chalet).

No smoking and no open flames (Because as it turns out, both turtlenecks and full-body latex are not flame retardant).

No live animals or non-human pets.
  (Thanks for clarifying… ewwwww… and I don’t mean the sheep).

No food/drink in the vending area.
  (Because edible underwear is usually kept in hotel room fridge next to the $18 peanuts).

You must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
 No children, not even infants.
 (Which is a bummer because everyone wants to see the result of the last fetish fair… 9 months later).

No sex in event areas. Get a room! (I cannot even imagine what those poor hotel maids had to deal with all weekend…).

Remember you are in a public building, and respect the privacy of others.
 No drunken behavior.
 No refunds for those asked to leave the premises for breaking the rules.
 No refunds on pre-sales within 30 days of the event.

And by far my favorite… some counseling tips for unexpected situations:

“I just saw my boss/neighbor/co-worker at the FFF and I’m freaking out! What do I do?


Stay calm. Remember that if they are there, their reasons for being there are probably similar to yours. There’s nothing wrong with having some curiosity about alternative sexuality. Whether you choose to mention it to them is up to you. If you do mention it to them, though, do it in private — they might have been as freaked out as you were, at first!”

All joking aside… it is kind of cool that this exists for people who like to experiment in a safe environment. I feel like Providence is a city that provides a little something for everyone… and this weekend… I feel like it provided everything to everyone (and if Grandma got lost while looking for the bathroom at the college parent’s weekend, she got to see a lot more than she bargained for).

All in all, being in the store this weekend is fabulous because our customers feel that they can really be themselves, even if only for a weekend. This means that they are having tons of fun and spending freely. And if nothing else, a transvestite told me I was charismatic… and despite the nebulous nature of that being a compliment or not… I am taking it as a win.

And in case anyone is interested… here is the website:

http://www.fetishfairfleamarket.com/

Let your freak flag fly!

*As a post-script, I apologize to Kathy Bates… she took a bit of a beating in this blog. No pun intended. 

 

When a reformed control freak gets the flu…

Hi, My name is Erin, and I am a reformed control freak. I gave up my control freak ways about five years ago when I realized that it was giving me acne, stress chewing habits, and retail therapy addiction. So I gave up trying to control my family situation, my work life (even though I was a manager even then), and my quest for the perfect personal life. I also quit it because Saddam Hussein was a control freak not only did he not have too many friends… but being hanged seems like a pretty shitty way to go if you ask me.

And while I gave up most of my control freak ways, there is one area that I did not: and that is my personal health (because it is the one thing I can micro-manage and no one will hate me for it). Most people assume that I eat well, exercise, drink less booze (than I feel I am entitled to), and get adequate sleep because I want to look good. But truthfully, I know that if I maintain all those things in balance, I will not get sick. Because I HATE BEING SICK. Because my body does horrible things that I can’t control.

But of course, the holidays at work stressed me out… and I lost balance… and I got the flu. And therefore lost control of my body and its functions.

HELLO MENTAL BREAKDOWN.

So when I get sick… I am possibly the worst human being on the planet (although not intentionally). Because I think I am going to die. Not like in a hypochondriac type of way, but a… I have never been so miserable in my life type of way (except for every third year when I sick). Let me set the scene for you:

*It is Dec. 26th, the day after Christmas, which in the retail world is one of the days when I have to be 100% on my game. I have been getting sick since Christmas Eve… with a nasty cough, and a fever that started on Christmas Day. I already feel horrible because my family came all the way from California to see me and I spent all of Christmas day in bed… therefore making them sleep on the sofa and air mattress. And even though I have all the flu symptoms, I go to work anyway, because I am the captain of my store… and they probably need me! I can barely stand up, and am a delirious excuse for a human. Then I have to run to the bathroom and throw up in a public bathroom of a mall on the busiest day of the year. No one will come in to cover the end of my shift… so I have to call my second in command to come back in so I don’t throw up all over the store. Oh, and it is her birthday. So she has to work a double ON HER BIRTHDAY, the busiest shopping day of the year because today, I am the Captain of nothing… but my own vomit. I feel like the worst person ever (Val… I am still eternally grateful for what you did for me).

Ralph was going to go to the movies with my mom and sister, but instead, he drops them off at the movies and picks me up halfway through my shift. Although he probably doesn’t recognize the crying, shaking, feverish, weird smelling, achy, irrational, monster that gets in the car. But he knows me well, and just steers the car toward home. I make it about a block away from the mall before I start crying like a three year old who has just had their toy taken away from them.

So I spend most of my time crying/screaming on the car ride home because I feel like death. Keep in mind I am crying/wailing about my symptoms to a doctor, like he has never seen this before:

“I let my team down by not being there for them. I threw up in the public bathroom at the mall,  so I probably now have an STD on my face. And when I left the bathroom stall everyone looked at me like I was bulimic. I just threw up everywhere and for some reason I felt compelled to tell the ten people standing at the row of bathroom sinks that I have the flu so they don’t think I have bulimia! What is wrong with me!!!!”

Ralph remains quiet, knowing that the irrational beast is not done yelling:

“I feel like I have been drowning in my own phlegm at night, and I haven’t been able to breathe out of my nose for like a week!”

Of course, in all my selfishness, I don’t realize that I am screaming this at someone who has a deviated septum and hasn’t been able to breathe out of his nose for approximately 20 years. Also, I won’t go into the mechanics of making out with someone who can only take three breaths through their nose before they go into oxygen debt… but it is kind of like making out with someone who is drowning…. except you are the water.

“And I feel awful because Val has to work 12 hours on her birthday. And now you don’t get to see Les Miserables with my mom and sister (he of course… would rather take my sickness over seeing what is arguably one of the most depressing musicals EVER with my mom and sister crying). His night was doomed from the start… crying involved with either choice.

So we get home, and take my temperature to find it has risen to 102 degrees, and of course I am freezing because of the chills and insist on taking a boiling bath. So Ralph perches himself on the toilet seat next to the tub and chats with the angry monster that is still whining while in the tub. And then one of the grossest things in my life happened.

While Ralph and I are chatting, I suddenly have a coughing fit… and I know that I am going to hurl again. So I tell Ralph to move… but he insists upon an exit line and says… “Oh, well I guess I shall vacate the premises”… which was the two seconds I needed to get out of the tub and over to the toilet… and because of his need for humor in a shit situation… I didn’t make it.

So I puked… in the bathtub… while I was sitting in it. So gross. Also, vomiting naked is a strange event. I don’t think that I have ever done that before.

I immediately got out and finished the job where I supposed to. In the toilet. Cleaned the tub. And took a shower.

And Ralph saw it all.

Let’s just take a moment to observe the grossness/hilarity that occurred. Ok… that’s enough time.

Many important things were learned from this whole ordeal:

*Sickness sucks, but it isn’t always my fault.

*Bargaining with God to not throw up doesn’t work. It will happen at the least convenient time possible. You might be naked and in the bath. I think I prefer throwing up in an alley.

*If you get the flu, don’t go to work. It will go down in history as the year Erin threw up all over Val’s birthday.

*An exit line is not necessary when someone with the flu tells you to move out of the way. Just fucking move. The faster the better. For your sake.

*Dealing with vomit always makes me think about holding off on having children. Because children throw up all the time (I read all the Facebook posts from my friends who are moms), not every three years like me.

*No matter how old I get… I will be a pain in the ass when I am sick.

*Thank God doctors are desensitized to vomit. Or thank you Ralph for loving me enough to get over it… but still tease me about it.

And after two weeks, I finally think I am 100% better. I can run again, manage to function off less than ten hours of sleep, and have regained my desire to eat. And the real lesson I learned this year is this:

Get the damn flu shot.

For anyone who has worked in retail…

So I work in retail. And I have worked in retail for 7 years.  And it is such an interesting place for me to observe the human race as a whole because all sections of life have come before me. I could literally write a book based on the situations that I have come across. But even through all the bad shit that I see during the week, I still stay in retail. And I think it is because I have met some super magical people in the last seven years… ones who didn’t know they were special, ones who did, and ones who believed in me for no apparent reason. But I know that isn’t what all of you see when you walk into my store, or even if you apply for a job in my store. This is what most people see in the retail world:

For a large majority of people who work in retail, retail is like purgatory. It is the hell you work at for 15 hours a week until you get your “real job.” I spend most of my time not getting offended by the people who work for me, chatting regularly about getting “real” jobs when they finish school, when the economy gets better, or when they finally move out of their parent’s house.  These people may be good to you, they may be horrible to you, and their actions largely depend on me as a leader.

I will be the first to admit, that there is some truly horrible customer service out there. Hopefully, few of them have come from my store. But I too have been ignored, discriminated against, etc. It happens to us all.  I think where managers go wrong is that they don’t care enough about their people as individuals… and that is why they don’t care enough about their customers. Because they see them as a sea of people at checkout, rather than the mom, the father, daughter, teacher, runner, lawyer, etc.

So I try to get to know my people. It is done typically in a very professional way, asking them vague questions while we stock shelves in the hope that they will share a little piece of their life with me. Because I spend 40 hours a week with these people… I want to know that they are safe, that their studies make them happy, and that they have some balance in their lives.  I do this partially because I know that happy people sell well, but also because I don’t want to work with people who are stressed out and mean. That makes my job no fun and your shopping experience no fun.

And over the years, I have met some people who changed the way I looked at the human race as a whole. Here are a few:

*A woman from Bangladesh worked for me at Pier 1, and about once a month, she would surprise me by bringing me authentic Bangladesh food she had cooked just because she cared about me as her boss. She had a full family to cook for, but she thought of me every once in a while. It always melted my heart. And it was always freakin’ delicious!!!

*A gentleman worked for me one Christmas when our store was doing a toys for tots drive. One day, a customer brought in this ridiculous dragon stuffed animal that I fell in love with. I carried it around the store one afternoon having it give me kisses on my cheek. Randomly one day, the guy who worked for me asked if he put two toys into the charity bin, would that negate taking one out. I didn’t think much of it, and told him to do whatever. A week later the dragon stuffed animal showed up on my desk as a Christmas present. I still have “Scorch” the dragon. He reminds me of the random acts of love that are in this world.

*I have been invited to their family’s birthdays, graduation parties, and funerals.  I have shown up to almost every one because inviting a random retail manager to an event seems like an honor to me. I am happy to share in their lives… even for just a moment.

*I had an employee who died unexpectedly while working for me. I watched a team grieve for the loss of their friend, and let them go to the funeral while I stayed and worked because some of them needed the opportunity to share their feelings without me.

*I had a woman whose husband died while she was working for me. I was one of the first three people she called when it happened because she didn’t want to let me down even though she was devastated by the loss. I gave her a month off with pay because she deserved it… she was beyond dependable and a mainstay at my store. And I went to his funeral and cried even though I had met him only a handful of times.

*I have maintained friendships with some of the most amazing people I met in retail. There is a magical group of about four of us who shared our 20’s in a store full of furniture that shaped much of who I am. I have watched them get married, get new jobs, go through heartbreak, and have parts in television shows (you all know who you are… I love you always!).

*I have had people believe in me when I didn’t necessarily believe in myself. People who offered me opportunities before I asked for them, and people who offered me a second chance. For both, I am extremely thankful.

*I have worked for three companies that gave me different opportunities and chances to be a leader. I have most recently worked for a place with a commitment to ethics that are stronger than most. I appreciate that what I do is not only fun, but ethical and good for the environment.

And I think that is why when my staff leaves it is harder for me than they assume. When it comes to selling, I give a piece of my sales self to you. I can teach you how to connect with people, or how to make people laugh. But everyday I spend with a teammate, I give a piece of my REAL SELF to you, and take a piece of you with me.

I have recently had a rush of people leave in the pursuit of more money. And I know that I cannot provide everything to these people. But I have entered so many situations where the first thing I see is the broken remnants of people and a team. I watch their anger and figure out how to cultivate them into leaders using their own motivations and communication. I have given structure to people who have never had a schedule. I have given tough love to the people who don’t want to hear it. And eventually they all move on. They tell me that they learned a lot from me, that I was a great boss, but their time is done. I am a sensei of life, in a black apron, that sells soap.

I am not writing this to pump up my sense of self worth on a shitty night. I am writing this because we all do this in some sense… in everyday of our lives at work. Especially if you are in a leadership role. It may look different, and you may not see the same result, but we touch people with every word we put out into the universe. Every word can make or break someone. I feel that we as leaders have a responsibility to be careful with the words we choose daily, because those words shape the people who receive them.

It is the holiday season, and people are running around avidly trying to get gifts for everyone on their list. And undoubtedly, I will get yelled at because the lines are too long, because we run out of something, or because someone didn’t get the experience they wanted from our store. But the good outweighs the bad… I will meet amazing customers who will smile and say thank you… and really mean it. And I will still get to spend 40 hours (perhaps 45 hours), with my team as they grow, learn, fail, and succeed. The reason I show up to work everyday is because I genuinely love people.

To those who are working in retail this holiday season, I salute you. And for those of you shopping, you may just see a person behind a desk ringing you up for gift for your Aunt Maud. But I may also be the person who has just counseled a teammate after she had an abortion, or created a team out of something that was broken. I will do my best to see you as a person, if you will do the same for me… and I am training my team to do the same. Thank you and Happy Holidays.

Upon further inspection… my “type” of guy is not what I thought…

Being single later in life is sometimes confusing for married people. Some married folks are very thankful that they don’t have to put in the plucking, fluffing, buffing, and shaving that is involved with single life. Others are jealous and want to know every dirty detail of you life because they want to live vicariously through you. Married acquaintances (you know… the bitchy ones at office parties) look at you like a science project. Married friends (the ones who really love you) want nothing more than to help you find someone… and this is the conversation that occurs:

Married friend: “So you are single?? I have so many great single guy friends!!! So what is your type?”

Me: “My type? Like my type of coffee? (dark roast… heavily caffeinated… thanks for asking)? My type of dog? (Has to weight more than 30 pounds… I don’t want to be able to punt it across a football field)? Or my type of tv shows? (I prefer comedy… life is already too serious for my taste).

Married friend: “No silly. Your type of guy! What type of guy do you like to date?”

My wit never seems to get me out of this conversation. I always hope that distracting them will actually make them forget the conversation topic. But to no avail. So after the question is asked my brain starts downloading “summary of Erin’s past boyfriends” to try and analyze how I have come to be an “equal opportunity dater,” ie. I have no type (as previously stated in blog… post titled… so this one time when I accidentally dated ex-indian royalty).” So we start at the beginning.

No one really dates in Junior High. Let’s be honest about that. The only people dating were the ones who wore too much eyeliner, crop tops, starter jackets (it was 1995) and actually had breasts. At the ages of 12 and 13 I was in none of those categories. I was probably also actively scaring away the skater boys with my silk vest emblazoned with… wait for it… massive sunflowers. Combine that lovely vest with braces and inappropriate blond bangs… and you have my seventh grade school photo.

In high school all I wanted to do was make my parents proud. I was a prim and proper blond princess who did all the right things… got good grades, was popular, played sports, and dated the right boy. In other words, I was a millennium class robot. I only dated preppy boys who did the same things as me… in other words… I dated another millennium robot… but with a penis (model 2.0).This trend would continue largely through to college, and after college too (barring Med Student… who was a baby faced bad boy in uniform… a deceiving combination for sure). However, in all of these relationships either myself or millennium robot 2.0 got bored. So after years and years of dating the same person I opened up my scope to hopefully find someone to be with long term.

But my married friends do have a point. Who is it that I am really attracted to (this includes famous people)? And I have to be honest that there are only three men I have had a visceral reaction to upon seeing (and each of them comes with a giant caveat which will be revealed shortly). Like an actual jaw dropping response. One was a real person that I knew. One was an unknown actor who would later become massively famous. The last one is a relatively unknown actor who will become extremely famous (I think).

1. In 2001ish… there was Legolas from Lord of the Rings. Even under the long blond hair I could tell there was a smoking hot Orlando Bloom. In 2001, upon admitting my lust for a blond elf to my friend Scott, he had the most appropriate reaction: “Erin, that is so narcissistic of you. He looks exactly like you.” Which was true in 2001 (and for most of my life), as I had long blond hair and slightly pointy ears. Touche Scott, touche. Also, I then dressed as Legolas for Halloween for years.

2. The real life man was RomCom. We met in a restaurant in New York City. I saw him across the bar and was immediately drawn to his smile… and then noticed he had on the most delicious cognac colored leather jacket. A man with a killer smile and great taste in clothing? Uh oh.

3. The last and most recent was the Captain Hook from “Once upon a time.” He wears more eyeliner than I do… but I don’t care. That is one sexy beast.

But when looking back at the common thread between these men… I noticed one rather disturbing fact. Here comes the caveat.

The three men I have been attracted to have long blond hair, great taste in clothing, and wear eyeliner. Ummmm… should I be dating Rachel Zoe? Or Heidi Klum?

I kid, I kid. I just really apparently want to date rugged men who don’t look like they have showered for a decade. Pirates without scurvy or gold teeth. Elves on save the world treks who can handle a bow and arrow. Men with really good taste in leather and cars. That is fairly manly… right?

So for the married folks out there… this is why it is difficult to ask what type of guys a single person likes to date. Most likely it is because they have been dating the wrong type of guy for 10 years and that is why they are single. Or maybe it is because their isn’t yet a pirate themed dating website. Just saying. Wouldn’t you also eat this man for breakfast?

This House Comes with a Free German Shorthaired Pointer

There are days that I think being single forever would be totally fine. Most of the time, I date solely to break up the monotony of eating chicken and kale every night for dinner. But if I really think about it… there are many advantages to being single. No one’s snoring keeps me awake at night, no one argues with me about whether to buy whole or skim milk, and I can keep my apartment at a balmy 80 degrees year round and no one will complain about their “overactive sweat glands.” It seems better and better the more I think about it.

But then I go to California for the weekend to help my mother move (she moved from one apartment to another in the same complex). And I realize that men have a very important role in women’s lives.

See… I grew up with a single mom. And when my parents separated in 1988 (I don’t know the exact date… I was like six years old), they were actually one of the first couples among their friends to do so. The thought of divorce being an anomaly in this day and age seems rather archaic, but my mom actually lost several sets of friends because they were so judgmental about my parents divorce. Judgmental bastards.

If you were to ask my mom, she would tell you that divorce is awful. And it is… for a million reasons. But she did it for our benefit… mainly because she and my dad had such varying views on child rearing (hers was little more free spirited and supportive… and my dad’s was a bit more like the third reich). I think my sister and I would have both ended up raging drug addicts if they had remained married.

And while I was growing up, I am sure that my mother had many days where it seemed impossible for a woman who didn’t finish college in her youth… to finish her degree at 40 years old, go back to work, raise two young girls, and remain sane. But my mom did it fearlessly. My sister and I owe most of our life successes to our mother, who showed us that hard work, determination, and a positive attitude will get you anywhere you want to go. She truly is the best mom anyone could ask for.. and I hope that one day I will do something amazing to make her proud (But right now she is just going to have to settle for slightly insane blog writer daughter who usually remembers to pay all of her bills on time).

But growing up largely with one parent does have its downsides; namely, you don’t learn what it looks like for couples to argue about things (this was a rude awakening in my first relationships… I didn’t actually realize that people argue about stuff). My mom was the queen of her house… so I never watched anyone argue about what sofa to buy, how many sets of dishes are too many (my mom literally had 10 before her first move), or why painting a bathroom a color called “Nairobi Dusk” (it was a dark purple) is a ridiculous idea (you can in fact NEVER paint over that color).

I am getting to the point I swear. You know how there are “cat ladies” and very few “cat gentleman” (that doesn’t even sound right)? It is because most men put the kibosh on excess. Have you ever heard a straight man say “Oh sweetheart, we definitely need a different set of dishes for Thanksgiving this year… we don’t want our guests to get bored of the table decor!” Yeah… not so much. Unless your mom is married to one of the dudes from Queer Eye.

Men are ACTUALLY in women’s lives so that they don’t become hoarders.

Keep in mind, my mom is not exactly a hoarder. She doesn’t own newspapers from the 1990’s that take up an entire room, and she actually has no cats. But she does own 300 samples of skincare products, 42 paintings, soup tureens for every season/holiday, and a dining room table that is roughly the size of China. And I went to California this past weekend to figure out how to fit it all into a two bedroom apartment. If I had to make a comparison, it was like trying to fit a cow into a sock.

This weekend was actually our third attempt at downsizing my mother’s belongings. The first and most momentous attempt happened in 2007, when we moved her from a 3500 square foot house to a 2000 square foot house in Colorado. So this weekend of downsize # 3 in California was not my first rodeo. These are the things I learned the first time that turned out to be helpful the second time around:

1. My mother will stop packing approximately 2 days before the move. But she will have only started packing 5 days before the move. So the night before the move when you sit in the second 100 square foot unpacked storage room surrounded by packing paper, 17 pillows, 12 pumpkin shaped soup tureens and a shelving unit full of half burned candles, you will swear to never buy anything ever again. Like ever.

2.. You do actually need boxes to pack items. The first downsize in Colorado my sister and I avoided total crisis by pulling a hail mary out of our asses at 3:00 p.m. on moving day. After two full 40 foot moving trucks have left the house stuffed like a Mississippi Walmart cart at Christmas… and there is still tons of shit to pack, my sister and I rented a budget truck and bought 50 boxes from home depot and just started piling anything left in them. Allie and I swiped the counters “supermarket sweep style” without a care as to what was getting placed together. I am pretty sure I packed live plants with cleaning chemicals just to get it the fuck out of the house.

3. On this latest downsize… the boxes have somehow again been forgotten again. So I get inventive and come up with this:

Look… the hobo in lululemon yoga pants is moving to the apartment across the street using a bell hop cart and target bags. How cute.

4. Never ever let the people moving into your old house start moving in before you have moved out (pushy assholes). Because the cluster fuck that will occur will cause you to be too excited to leave the house after moving from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (especially after you see their ugly ass furniture… who has a fluffy, matte black leather sofa these days? Melrose Place called and wants their damn sofa back) My sister, myself, and Ralph (being the saint that he is) practically ran out of the house when all the of stuff was packed up. We sped away with unparalleled joy… or an odd mixture of exhaustion and euphoria… only to realize about two blocks away that I had left my dog in the backyard.

Hence the title. Please don’t tell the ASPCA.

5. For some strange reason, my sister and I will automatically assume genetically predetermined roles for the move:

I will become the packing Nazi. I am vital to the day of the move because I get shit done… but don’t plan on taking a break to eat because I probably won’t let you if there is still stuff left to pack. I literally said to Ralph and Allie “Why have you stopped moving? Do you need a job? Are you eating Taco Bell? THERE IS NO TIME FOR TACOS!!!!!”

It can get a little ugly.

My sister will become the unpacking Nazi. My sister thinks that clutter will actually cause the end of the world. Over nuclear war. So when my mom isn’t looking Allison is throwing away expired food and beauty products in black plastic trash bags that are hidden on the side of the house. If you hope to save anything in a move, put it in a safe place so Allie won’t find it. She is like the TSA of expired shit. A clutter drug sniffing dog.

And unfortunately, this move didn’t turn out to be that different. We moved from about 9:30 a.m. to about 6:00 p.m.

So at 6:00 p.m. when my mom and I were in the elevator with the Clampett style hobo moving cart, the only other lady in the elevator gave us a look of sarcasm/pity and made this comment:

“I hate moving, it’s when you lose all of your friends.” Which is kind of funny… and slightly true.

But I wanted to tell her that there is some universal law in life, that if you came out of someone’s vagina, you can’t say no to that vagina when it asks you to help it move.

And that is the truth. My Mom reads my blog and is probably feeling a not entirely unexpected mix of thankful (for the nice comments) and extremely pissed off (for outing her moving debacles) right now. But here is the truth Mom… I will help you (and all of your belongings) move anytime you need.

Just call and remind me to grab my dog before I leave.

Sometimes… I date a medical student.

However, I also dated this same medical student…

When we was a midshipman at the Naval Academy.

When he was a helicopter pilot.

When he was a physics and mathematics graduate student.

When he was a computer programmer outsourced from India.

And when he was a bicycle mechanic.

Clearly he has a commitment problem. Of course, I could have gathered that much after the almost TEN YEARS that we have been dating on and off. In fact, it was pretty damn hard to ignore the fact that relationships and careers are like kryptonite to superman for this kid. However, he is very committed to the dog he stole from me, his car that looks like it has been used as a bomb shelter for fifteen years, and ironically… non-commitment. I’m not bitter or anything.

So I shouldn’t really find myself surprised when conversations like this happen:

Medical student: “Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that when a man co-sleeps with a baby that the man’s testosterone levels go down? It’s evolution man. Men have babies and totally lose their sex drive.”

Now, I know I am not in medical school or anything… but I don’t think it means quite that. So I respond with:

“Ummm… I don’t think it means quite that. I just think it means that men don’t want to have sex with babies.”

Which clearly is a relief for all of us out there that were concerned (I am extremely thankful… after I watched my dog cuddled in his lap uncomfortably close to his junk ten minutes earlier… because pedophelia and bestiality for some reason don’t seem all that far apart to me). And let’s be honest… I have tons of male friends who co-sleep with their kids and they still want to bang their wives on the regular.

I know he made this comment in jest (we tease each other like it is an olympic sport). I know he was just trying to make a joke and be funny… probably to show me that he isn’t terrified of having kids. Because I think after 10 years and two broken engagements (that’s right… I am pretty sure that I am the only insane person who has been engaged to the same person not once… but twice. Well… me and Elizabeth Taylor) you can no longer put a ring on it to show commitment. You want to put a baby in it (props to Nancy for that truth). And so we continue our dysfunctional friendship… but we had a rather dysfunctional beginning so I guess it is par for the course.

He was actually the last person in the world who I was supposed to love. Slightly worse than Romeo and Juliet but slightly better than Ike and Tina. We met when we were 19, the spring of my sophomore year of college, when he was dating my then-roommate. At that point, he was about as sexually attractive to me as a belgian waffle. I didn’t even think of him in terms of sexuality because he was dating my roommate who was also my best friend. Seeing him as a sexual being was a non-issue (because I am a good girl… most of the time). Then my roommate went to France the following semester for study abroad, and he and I chatted occasionally over Instant Messenger (I am dating myself a lot… but I really miss IM) about how much we missed my roommate/his girlfriend. Still, not sexual at all. He was still non-sexual when he and his roommate (we will call him pepperoni nipples… no explanation needed) came to stay with me for the weekend before Thanksgiving since our schools did a joint choral performance for Messiah (because pepperoni nipples can in fact sing). Keep in mind that after spending 10 hours with pepperoni nipples pretty much any man in a ten mile radius is non-sexual because you lose faith in the entire male population since he is such a ridiculous representation of the population. You know how there are some people who should be taken out back and hidden in a shed for life so that they don’t ruin the reputation of the general population? Kind of like Lindsay Lohan, Snooki or my current favorite Amanda Bynes. Pepperoni nipples also falls into this category. I was more sexually attracted to my goldfish after spending the weekend with those two.

Then, in a surprise twist, med student and my roommate broke up over Thanksgiving (like five days after their visit). And I was devastated for both of them (I had a lot more “feelings” then). And yet, he was still, a non-sexual being to me. A non-sexual sad puppy. Again, no one wants to bang that.

Then two months later, there was one phone call that changed it all. I didn’t quite get it at the time… but it made me feel fuzzy inside for some strange reason. You know, that warm feeling you get in your tummy from drinking champagne… right before your buzz hits? No? Is it just me?

It was Christmas break of my junior year and I was sitting at home taking down the extra-large Christmas Tree my mom had gotten that year (which college readers remember that story? I’m thinking there is an Xmas special blog coming up soon). And my cell phone rang… and it was Med Student calling. I was surprised for two reasons:

1. The only reason he even had my phone number was because he planned a Valentine’s Day surprise for my roommate the prior year and he needed my help… I was surprised he had saved my number in his phone.

2. We hadn’t spoken since the weekend of Thanksgiving when him and my roommate broke up (because I initially didn’t believe him when he told me over IM… I had to call to verify).

So we chatted. He mentioned he was driving back to Maryland from Kansas where he had spent Christmas with pepperoni nipple’s family and thought he would call to say hello. We caught up for like 15 minutes… in our stereotypical banter that we had become accustomed to in the brief time we had known each other. And then we said goodbye. I was surprised at how fun the conversation was, and that he chose to call little ‘ole me.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been flattered at all. Because if I were driving the 18 hours from Kansas to Maryland in a 1992 Eurovan with my showtune loving roommate in the back strumming a guitar and probably singing Fiona Apple (as med student was), I would have called everyone in my phone contacts list… from my mother to my gynecologist just to make conversation (See any good cervix’s lately Dr. Haverill?) I recently asked now med student if there were any “feelings” behind that phone call. He laughed hysterically and said while he didn’t specifically recall the conversation (he has the personal memory of a fruit fly… yet he can remember all the medical bullshit in the world.. and all that medical bullshit in Spanish too), that there were no feelings behind it specifically (I’ll make sure that Dr. Haverill’s number is in his contact list for his next road trip). Although he apparently always thought I was cute… from the moment he met me… sitting on the back of a chair, rather than the seat of the chair… as I stared at my computer. He told me that he remembered that for sure.

And we didn’t really date until that following May. In fact, I was dating someone else that March when I invited med student on a vacation to Costa Rica (I desperately needed a buffer) where he probably saved my life but also my sanity (the story of the trip with dad’s ex-girlfriend/third cousin will be covered in another blog one day… or maybe a book called… “How to survive 7 days in a straw hut with the anti-christ”). Med student and I got together later. Friendships got ugly (No matter how much I tried to hate him I still broke a major girl code… and true to the double standards between men and women… he got rounds of high-fives for banging roommates). And eventually things healed. And ten years later I still have a best friend in med student.  Regardless of where we have gone, the good the bad and the ugly… he is the one person I know who will always show up for me. We have seen some pretty ugly days together… ones that we caused and ones that we didn’t. And yet, even after the heartbreak of it all, he is still the first person I think to call when something great happens, or when I need a friend.

Originally I wrote this blog to call him out. To see if he was actually reading my blog (as he isn’t on Facebook). But we chatted about my blog one day because I continue to be humbled by the over 800 reads it has gotten, and the fact that it has been read in Chile, Ireland, Sweden, Slovenia, Norway, Canada, the UK, and of course the United States (again… thank you). And he said he wouldn’t read it if I wanted my personal space.

I’m sorry what? You are going to respect my space? Do I smell maturity baking? At 29 med student is becoming an adult? Well that throws a wrench in world domination plans doesn’t it?

Is that love? Feel free to weigh in with your comments. Tell me what makes your relationships successful in the long run.

And this is just the beginning of the saga. Tune in next week to hear the story of Costa Rica survival. Thank you for bearing with me the last two weeks of non-posting while I worked through some organizational bullshit that took more time than I thought.