What I Think

Q: For the past four weeks I have had a morning coffee flirt going with a random guy at the Chevron station. We see each other every few days while getting our coffee and have exchanged smiles and bits of conversation. He has initiated these flirty conversations and I have willingly taken part. Last week I slipped him my e-mail address, he looked at it, read it back to me, smiled and we went our separate ways. I haven’t seen or heard from him since. What’s the deal do you think? — Morning Flirt Fizzle


A: I’m not sure what the deal is, but I do think if something happened to work out with this guy long-term you’d have a helluva story to tell your grandkids. Just think about it: “Well, little Mikey, there was just something about how your Nana would pour that steaming Sanka into her Styrofoam cup at the gas station every day that I just knew she was the one for me!”

So it’s a bummer your morning glory seems to have left the station. My first guess at why? He’s taken. He enjoyed the buzz from your attention, but once it escalated to the possibility of something more, he freaked. And getting his caffeine fix at the Exxon across the street is easier than the prospect of facing – and, in his mind, rejecting — you.

That, or you neglected to mention that you wrote something like “You can fill up my tank anytime” along with your e-mail address, which could have scared him off just a tad.

Still, you get huge props for having the balls to put yourself out there – as well as originality points, too. Meeting someone special at a Starbucks over a double-espresso-frappa-latte-no-whip-mocha-gotta-have-a-helluva-lotta-moolah-just-for-a-friggin’-coffee? Giant gaping yawn. Connecting over a 99-cent cuppa joe among truckers and tweakers during morning rush hour? One for the memory bank.

Continue to keep your eyes and heart open for amour in unexpected places, and you’ll be rewarded with somebody who uses that e-mail address the next time – or asks for it in the first place.

Q: On the way back from an outing, a cousin’s friend asked me some questions about my ongoing marriage break-up (my first breakup ever actually). And, by the way, I reckon break-ups are best handled like Bandaids: rip them off quickly and suffer the pain with a lot of cursing! Anyway, one of the questions was, “Is the break-up mutual?” I said, “Sorta kinda,” but I knew that was a lie as I’m a very loyal person and would never have had the strength to sever ties.

SO, my question is, are any break-ups really mutual? I reckon there’s always someone who starts the process off and the other one just says, “Yeah, I felt that way too” to save face. What do YOU think? – Breakup

A: I think – since you so kindly asked – that there are infinite ways breakups can generally be classified in terms of collateral damage to the people involved. But overwhelmingly, they don’t tend to be mutual – unless the dew in the atmosphere has the perfect pH balance, the Earth’s axis is tilted in the ideal angle and Disney-esque pixie dust sprinkles from the sky while doves flit around chirping songs about finding happiness on new horizons.  In other words, mutual breakups don’t happen all that often, but when they do they should be celebrated as miracles.

And this wasn’t part of your question, but I’m going to share what I think about it anyway. That little part about you being a “very loyal” person who wouldn’t “have the strength” to end things caught my eye. Since this is your first breakup – which is intense enough, let alone being compounded with the end of a marriage – you’re undoubtedly entering new emotional territory. I’m sure the pain is excruciating (and you have the Band-Aid part exactly right – curse like a sailor if it helps.).

But, going back to that loyalty stuff, I get the feeling you may have been putting your own needs behind those of your partner and your marriage. Being a loyal person is commendable indeed and an excellent trait to offer in a relationship. But it shouldn’t be synonymous with self-sacrifice. And if your loyalty was the primary reason you were still hanging on, then perhaps your partner did you a favor by taking action.

I hope this is something you’re beginning to grasp through the fog of the breakup, and that it can be a guiding light for the next time around. All breakups ­– mutual or not – can teach us a lesson or two if we let them.

Playing the Dating Game

Q: Some buds and I recently brought up the topic of homo-eroticism in sports. The main sport of conversation was rugby, but you could almost apply the same gay undertones in the more obvious sports like wrestling and swimming, and perhaps even boxing and baseball. In rugby specifically, I heard there are a lot of “traditions” that seem, well, gay. One tradition I heard about had to do with building team camaraderie by having the whole team strip naked and pretending to do an elephant trunk walk. You know, where one elephant grabs another’s tail with their trunk and then they walk in succession, but there’s only one obvious “tail” for a guy to grab — you get the idea. There’s a lot of similar “traditions” in rugby, and my question purely out of curiosity is, do these contact (and non-contact) sports have some roots in some dude-on-dude action? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. – Raunchy Ruggers


A: During high school Latin, for all the sleeping-with-your-sister stuff we learned the gods engaged in, we didn’t get much into juicy real-life behaviors. Like the fact that the ancient Romans were rumored to have some wickedly gay orgies. Or that the ancient Greeks played sports in the buff, supposedly to encourage appreciation of the male form. (In fact, the word gymnasium comes from the Greek word gymnos, meaning naked.)


With that history in mind, rugby – in all its nut-hugger-shorts wearing, groin grappling, 10-man-scrum piling, group-showering, drunken-game-playing glory – indeed can set off the gaydar. Sending it into overdrive is the Dieux de Stade, the annual calendar in which members of the French rugby team pose nude or close to it, and traditions that involve various states of nudity. Though I couldn’t confirm evidence of the “elephant walk” you mentioned, I did dig up several others that are swishily suspicious. The “zulu warrior dance” (post-match, players strip naked and dance around while teammates throw beer on them) is one; another is the “soggy biscuit” (involving a cookie, several players and masturbation. Google it yourself for yourself if you think you can – hint, hint — stomach the raunchy details.)


But whether these traditions are as you put it – gay — is where it gets a little fuzzier. Mark Simpson, a British journalist and former rugby player, made this distinction on an interview with the BBC: “That’s part of the problem about the word homoerotic. When you say something is homoerotic, it doesn’t mean it’s really gay. It just means it has to do with the male body, and there is an erotic dimension.”


It’s worth noting that Simpson is, in fact, gay. Which brings me to wonder, along with my sports nut friend M., who’s also gay, if all this talk is really just wishful thinking. M. wonders: “I would be curious to know the sexuality of the writer. I just think most gay guys fantasize about the hot straight athlete turning to the ‘dark side’ so they want to create curiosity.”


A few final points: Sports is one of the few social arenas where male intimacy is encouraged. At the same time, homosexuality isn’t — especially in chest-bumping sports like rugby, football and baseball. All of which tends to create a simmering cauldron of testosterone and tension – often masked as team-building — that manifests in various ways. But enough talking about all this. I’m off to flip on the telly and ogle over hot football players in tight pants slapping each other’s asses in the endzone.


Q: I’m a 25-year-old working guy who has just gotten out of a loooooooong relationship. Getting back into the single scene again has been surprisingly fun. I’ve been dating around for the first time in my life, honestly, and it’s helped me feel like a total stud! But I’m not ready to settle down quite yet, though I have met some women I’d like to keep seeing. What’s the rule on this? What if I want to start sleeping with one of them – do I have to disclose that? Help me – the rules have changed since I’ve been out here. – New on the Scene


A: Welcome to the most ego-boosting phase of dating: The Feast, a delicious time when besotted suitors fall at your feet. (The flip side, of course, is The Famine, when the flow of females dries up like the Sahara.) To savor The Feast as long as possible, be just honest enough about your other dalliances without providing any unnecessary info that encourages speculation, jealousy or competition. There’s nothing more irritating than a guy who drops obvious hints that he’s seeing other women. If you’re already booked, say you have plans; if you’re pressed further, say a they’re with “new friend” – just truthful enough. Sex makes things a little stickier, so hopefully by the time you get to that point, you’ll have narrowed down the herd.


One last tidbit to chew on: I’m not sure how long you were in a relationship, but you guys aren’t the only ones who pride themselves on having more than one candidate in the rotation. Until you’ve had the exclusivity talk, don’t assume you’re the sole dish on a gal’s menu.

A Labor of Love, and Other Clichés

Q: I need a little help. How does a man tell his woman that he wants some time alone and to himself without her being offended or thinking something is wrong or thinking I’m going to see some other woman? “To boldly go where no man has gone before …” – Lost Trekkie


A: I’m writing this column on Nov. 3, which, dear readers, is not only Election Day this year – it’s National Cliché Day, too! So, in honor of this occasion – and in glorious defiance of my talented editors and journalism teachers – my pearls of wisdom will come, hell or high water, via clichés this week. Because, you know, every dog has his day, and now that every cliché does too, I’m going to take this once-in-every-blue-moon opportunity to go overboard with them.


For starters, Lost Trekkie, while I raise my glass to your use of that “boldly go” line — now, incidentally, a cliché — you’re entering territory that plenty of men have gone before, for crying out loud, boldly and not so boldly. But that’s neither here nor there. Instead, let’s shoot for the stars on a positive outcome for you.


The key is not to burn bridges with your lady, lest you return from your solo sabbatical crystal clear that you two are a match made in heaven. Hammer it home that you don’t have ants in your pants to be footloose and fancy free of her – you just need some space. (As a Lost Trekkie, presumably you’re no stranger to the concept.) Setting some ground rules – Will you be talking to each other during the hiatus? What’s the time frame? – should help calm her nerves. (And believe you me, they’ll be rattled by this news, no matter how gently it’s delivered.) But don’t even think about pulling out the mother of all dating clichés: “It’s not you, it’s me.” That whole song and dance is a real slap in the face.


On the flip side, there’s nothing set in stone here. Her feathers might be so ruffled by your announcement that she decides to just fly the coop. And, in my humble opinion, she shouldn’t put all of her eggs in your basket, in case you decide she doesn’t complete you after all. While you’re off starring in your own 2009: A Space Odyssey, she could very well find her Prince Charming, with whom she rides off into the sunset and lives happily ever after. Because, you know, all’s fair in love and war. And when someone wants space, the writing is usually on the wall that they want out for good. If your lady is a smart cookie, she probably has that figured out – if not now, in due time.


Q: My lovelife sucks … or maybe I should say, I HAVE NO LOVELIFE. It seems the older I get, the more it’s lacking. I’m not really meeting any new women and at 43 years of age, it seems to get harder and harder to do. Any pointers on a guy my age getting out and meeting ladies? – Still Looking


A: First of all, there’s no need to paint yourself into a corner over your age! You’re acting like you’re already over the hill, but don’t you know the 40s are the new 30s? Give yourself a break already – you’re 43, not 93!


As we all know, there’s usually more than meets the eye with matters of the heart. Without reading too much between the lines of your letter, sounds like you need to take the reins of your love life instead of waiting for dates to fall in your lap. That happens next to never. Finding love is less luck of the draw and more a numbers game, plain and simple.


So, getting out of your romantic rut will depend on you getting out and about. Shake things up:  Get on some online dating sites. Get your groceries at a different Publix. Get signed up for a new swing class. Just get out of your comfort zone a bit, and I’ll bet my bottom dollar you’ll start getting in front of scores of datable ladies. The bottom line: With dating – as with everything else under the sun – practice makes perfect. You just gotta give it the old college try!


Also remember that confidence goes a country mile in the dating world. However you can boost yours – extra workouts, mastering a skill, whatever floats your boat – will give you an extra skip in your step, a brighter gleam in your eye and more dates on your calendar. Last but not least, if things don’t work out with one woman, don’t sweat it. There are always – wait for it – more fish in the sea.

Racists and Racy Conversations

Q: What is with guys and their obsession with three-ways? I’ve been dating somebody fairly seriously for about eight months, and we have a raging sex life. I like kicking up the kink factor but one thing he keeps bringing up is his ultimate fantasy of getting with two girls at the same time. He’s 39 and I think it’s one of those bucket list things for him and because this milestone birthday (40th) is approaching. Problem: I don’t know how I feel about it. I’ve heard about couples who have broken up because of threesomes and it scares me. Also, how do you find the other person? What if he likes her better? And what if I just can’t stand the sight of him [being intimate with] someone else? I’m also afraid he might break up with me if I don’t agree to this. Please help. – Freaked Over Three


A: All valid questions, Freaked, which I turned over to a friend who has had several threesomes for his take. On why they’re such a big deal to guys: “[Emotionally], ego, bragging rights and the fact that men love variety, something new. A man’s line of thinking is simple — share a girl and it’s not cheating. And I will say I developed a new level of confidence. [Physically], four hands stimulating you feels good. Ever had a 4-handed massage?”


On the danger of your guy falling for the other girl: “‘Old’ chemistry competes with ‘new’ chemistry. Since the dude has already experienced the old, the new is usually more interesting. But this also catches some women off guard — they may enjoy the other girl more than they were expecting.” I’d add that many couples establish ground rules up front about what’s allowed (heavy petting but no penetration, for example), which could alleviate some of your anxiety.


On where to find your third, should you decide to proceed: “[Their] best bet is to go out of town, far away, and chalk it up to a wild night out or a wild vacation experience, then disappear from the ‘new’ girl and everyone agrees not to exchange numbers.”


And I’m glad to have male validation of my thoughts on the last line, which my friend agreed was a “huge red flag” — if your boyfriend has, in fact, threatened to break up with you (has he actually said the words?) should you nix the idea. Which brings up that boring old c-word yet again: communication. You two need plenty more of it before bringing in a third party. I hope my friend has provided some good insight, but the person you really need to be asking these questions is your boyfriend. His answers should go a long way in answering whether you’re up for this or not.


Q: I met the most incredible woman a few weeks ago. She’s good-looking, incredibly smart, quirky in an endearing way – I could go on forever about all her wonderful traits. But I have a sneaking suspicion she’s a racist. Some of the things she’s said when we’ve been alone made my skin crawl. I have lots of close friends from different cultural backgrounds, and I can’t imagine bringing them around her after she’s said these things. I’m incredibly disappointed by this troubling turn of events. How do I go about getting over this? What do I say to her? I don’t see myself getting more involved – but I don’t have any real evidence of anything that bad, except for what she’s said. – More Than Skin Deep


A: This is one of those situations where you gotta go with your gut. And what your gut is telling you is that even if this chick isn’t a raging, all-out racist, there’s something about her character and values that just doesn’t jibe with yours. You don’t need any “evidence of anything that bad” (what do you think you’ll find, for God’s sake? A tall, pointy white hat and noose in her trunk?). Observing her behavior and comments is enough to know this isn’t going to work.


So, what do you say to her? You could wimp out and take your pick of tired old lines: the chemistry just isn’t there for you; you’re not ready to settle down; that your mom just bought you “The Family Guy” box set and your DVR is the only thing you’ll be seeing for the foreseeable future. If you’re feeling a bit bolder, tell her those niggling comments and behaviors – be sure to cite a few – just aren’t sitting well with you. Repeat what you’ve written here – you can’t imagine bringing your friends from different backgrounds around her. That should get your point across without you having to actually say, “I can’t see you anymore because I think you’re a racist.” But if you really want to sack up, that’s the very thing you should say. She probably won’t change, but at least she’ll know that all the “wonderful traits” in the world won’t make up for her being a bigot in the eyes of open-minded fellas such as yourself. In my book, that’s how you get over the disappointment of something like this.