Something to talk about

Any group of people, whether it is business, high school, church, or some other association, will have people that perpetuate the gossip and rumor mill. This attribute is as old as the hills. People are going to talk.

One of our favorite artists, country-blues singer and accomplished slide guitarist, Bonnie Raitt, had a huge hit about this very subject, “Something to Talk About.” Here is middle verse and the chorus to give you the gist of a co-worker slowly realizing that another co-worker seems to be as smitten as she is.

“I feel so foolish, I never noticed
You act so nervous, could you be fallin’ for me?
It took the rumor to make me wonder,
Now I’m convinced that I’m goin’ under.
Thinkin’ ’bout you every day,
Dreamin’ ’bout you every night.
I’m hopin’ that you feel the same way,
Now that we know it, let’s really show it darlin’.

Let’s give ’em somethin’ to talk about
(Somethin’ to talk about)
A little mystery to figure out
(Somethin’ to talk about)
Let’s give ’em somethin’ to talk about
How about love?”

I love this song as she turns the rumor mill on its head. The rumors about them “standing a little too close” made her think and realize that is exactly what they were doing. The video which aired is clever, with Dennis Quaid acting as the interested and interesting co-worker.

Rumors at work do fly. It is hard to follow the advice of Dr. Wayne Dyer and defend the absent. But, that is what we should do. Yet, I shared the story of how a colleague was in a group dinner with a new senior executive who talked about everyone when each left the table. My friend said he did not want to go to the restroom as she would talk about him. It is hard to defend the absent when you might be next.

It is also hard to date someone at work for this reason. Yet, with limited social time, it is not uncommon to meet you future spouse at work. My wife worked at a small company that sublet some of our office space. What tickled both of us is a colleague of mine took credit for introducing us, when that was not the case. She actually told my future wife I was dating someone, which was not true, so she almost waylaid our plans.

So, if you do date someone at work, keep the PDAs to a minimum. More importantly, be prepared to ignore what people are saying as it is none of their business. As a friend, who actually met her husband at work, told her high school students she counseled, “if you do not take offense, you are not offended. Don’t cede your power.”

So, if you give them something to talk about, be OK with being the subject matter.

A man won’t be shot while doing the dishes (a reprise)

Staying married takes effort. The same could be said about any relationship. If you don’t work at it, it won’t last. The title is a funny, but true metaphor that will keep you married – if you do the dishes, even if only periodically, you at least will survive another day and not get shot. There are two messages in this saying – share the load and keep your sense of humor. Since we need a break these days, let me focus on the humor.

Comedian Tom Arnold had the funniest line which seems to apply to our household. When asked by the women on “The View” about how long does a physically romantic interlude last, he replied “thirty minutes.” When the women were surprised at his answer, he clarified, “yes, five  minutes of foreplay, five minutes of sex and twenty minutes to get all the pillows off the bed.” My wife and I roared with this answer as we have so many decorative pillows that take up more than 1/2 the bed.

Speaking of beds, in our house the last one up makes the bed. I sincerely try to make up the bed like my wife does, but apparently I fall short of perfection. My wife sighs and then pulls, smoothes and tugs to remedy my effort. My guess is my female readers who are or have been married are nodding yes as they read this. My wife tends to arise later, so it may this very reason. Or, it could be the first one up has to feed the cat and dog, make the coffee and get the paper.

There is one more chore with the cat, who we found out is diabetic last spring. He is doing well, but each morning and evening, we have to give the cat insulin. So, a common question in our house is strange, “Did you shoot the cat?” He will often come to us after eating and we will pet him, then give him his insulin. Yet, he will sometimes vamoose if he senses something is up or if the dog chases him away. Herding a cat is an art form.

The sense of humor thing keeps us honest. We often laugh at ourselves and feel open to teasing. Watching shows and movies are always interesting if they have a sad event. I will tear up with any scene where a parent/ child moment occurs over a tragedy or reunion. My wife will ball over any extended illness scene having lost her brother to Leukemia. So, we tend to tease each other about our sappiness. My wife likes to joke how I try to tactically wipe a tear away without her noticing, which I usually fail to achieve. I will asking “are you crying?” “No,” is often her answer through tears.

Finally, an unexpected hug, kiss, caress or a foot rub, will go a long way. The first three actions need not be long to share a moment of tenderness and can occur in the kitchen or hall. The foot rub will consume more time and usually be done while watching TV or reading. I firmly believe a torturer invented women’s high heel shoes. Mind you, both men and women like how they make a woman’s legs look, otherwise why would they wear them? But a day in those things will beg for some pampering of sore feet.

Share the load, laugh a lot. And, a well placed hug, kiss or caress never hurts. And, a foot rub will be added bliss.

Dating dilemmas – a repeat performance

The following post was written about five years ago. I was inspired to repeat this post by our blogging friend Cindy who shared her setting up her daughter with a blind date, where the lack of follow-up frustrated the mother and daughter both.. A link to her blog is below.

Being a tall person, I have had my share of dates who were much shorter than me. I have even dated a few women who were under 5 feet tall. But, those height differences are very manageable and provide interesting stories. The dating dilemmas occur when something surprising happens.

Here are a few I encountered, some funny some not so.

Why must you be so rude? – the first example occurred when I took a date to Disneyworld for the day driving from my home 3 hours away. The dilemma is she was rude to other people, cutting lines, being curt, impatient, etc. I was captive while there, but could not wait for the date to end.

You want to go there again? – I dated someone for a couple of months, but I learned she liked going to the same two restaurants that her family went to. She was charming and nice, but after going to one place a half a dozen times and another more than a few, I was encouraging of other venues. That was not the reason our relationship waned, but I must confess not going back to those two restaurants ever again.

We really must pray before the meal – one of the funniest blind dates occurred when a friend set me up with a minister without telling me. I was not expecting the answer that she gave me when I asked what she did. She was a nice woman, but I was too immature to get past thinking it was a sin to imagine carnal knowledge with a minister.

Prom dates need to pace themselves – I think many of us have had prom dates where too much drinking occurred. But, our double date before the prom started consisted of far too many Screwdrivers. When we arrived first to the prom, my date waved with a big gesture to the other couple when they arrived. When she did she fell backwards and for some unknown reason, I was able to catch her with one arm, six inches from the ground and straighten her up. Talk about scared.

Did you like how I parked my car?  – when dating a college friend, I offended her when I suggested we use her car, so a friend could use mine. She broke our date after I arrived, so I tried to back down a long, hilly and angled driveway. I drove off into a rock garden and my car got stuck. My last sight of her was as she watched from a large window as her father towed my car off his rock garden. 

Where did that horse come from? – as I was sneaking out of my girlfriend’s parent’s house after she moved into their basement apartment, I was unaware her horse was in the field next to the driveway. At 3 am, while pitch black dark, as I edged toward my car, the horse snorted and scared the bejesus out of me. If a horse could laugh…

I guess my audition failed – this actually occurred with the above horse owner. We went to a community play where folded chairs were placed on raised platforms. When we returned from intermission, unbeknownst to me, one of my chair legs moved off the back of the platform. As I took a sip of wine, I noticed my date moving forward in slow motion. In actuality, I was falling and made a huge crash when I hit the floor on my chair. It was indeed funny and the only thing hurt was my ego.

I am sure my dates can share stories about me. It is all about perspective. When I look back at my dating before I met my wife, I wish I had been more mature on occasion. Tell me your funny or surprising date stories. I am sure you can top mine.

Thursday this and that’s

Thursday is an underrated day. It does not get the credit it deserves as the peek-a-boo day into the weekend. When I worked, Friday was a day to just to crash and veg out – the restaurants are to crowded and the bar/ restaurants are too boisterous. Yet, we often would go out to dinner on Thursday as it was a little more relaxing and we need only worry about one work day, if we finished off the wine.

Couples get into nice rituals around how to yin and yang with each other. This goes beyond the intimacy part, so we will keep this PG rated. I was tickled by a line from the movie “All my Life,” which I recommended the other day in post, when the girlfriend invited her boyfriend to move in. She said “If you suck at being a roommate, I will kick you out.” This was after she laid out her rules and he countered, such as closet space is 80/20 in her favor, he would cook three times a week, but she would sample things, eg. to which he agreed.

So, going to dinner on Thursday instead of Friday is one of those rituals. Now that we are retired, we tend to go out to brunches and lunches, especially with the COVID pandemic. Fewer people to come across is a safety issue these days. Other rituals we tended toward is take out food on Friday, even still today. Chinese, Mexican, seafood, pizza, etc. are in the rotation. During harvest months, we tend to go to brunch on Saturday where there is a Farmer’s Market in the parking lot. And, with children, we had to have a date night. Full stop.

Yet, Thursday remains a good day, even when retired. But, it won’t find itself in songs. When I did a series of posts based on songs with the days of the week, Thursday was a less used day. Tuesday seem to get more attention, maybe because the first syllable could be accentuated more. Thursday also won’t have a restaurant named after it as do TGI Fridays or Ruby Tuesday. Maybe that is why it gets less respect.

So, go enjoy Thursday today. (For my Australian friends, I hope you had a great one). Go help the hurting restaurant industry and dine al fresco or get take out. Or, while it is still pre-fall back on the time, go for a walk after dinner in the neighborhood. You might even see a few neighbors doing the same, at least I do.

One final note, when drinking was still a thing for me, Thursday did lend itself to a concept called “Thirsty Thursdays,” where beer was cheaper. This was especially dangerous at the minor league baseball park with its quarter beers in small cups. You definitely needed a designated driver or a designated memory person in case you met someone you liked and were to inebriated to remember her (or his or their) name. Now that we don’t drink anymore, those days are behind us.

So, a toast to Thursday. May it get the attention it deserves.

All my life – a recent movie worth a view

If you want a movie about love, friendship and life, a compelling movie from 2020 is called “All my life.” Going in, you know you are watching a movie that will lose one of its stars. That is how it is advertised. But, oh how they lived, loved and cherished their friends is what this movie is all about. Family can be the friends you savor, as much as blood relatives.

Here is the movie summary from IMDb, “Jennifer Carter and Solomon Chau are a sweet, fun-loving, newly engaged couple whose whole life seems ahead of them. But when Sol is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in December, their plans for a summer wedding become impossible. In a race against time, Jenn and Sol’s friends and family launch an online fundraiser to help the couple create their dream wedding in just two weeks. In the process, they unleash an outpouring of generosity and attention from people around the world who want to celebrate the power of love with them.”

The movie is based on a true story which we learn at the end, seeing the real people. The movie stars Jessica Rothe as Jenn and Harry Shum, Jr. as Sol. They make a cute and fun-loving couple who sweep us up in their journey. Seeing Jenn define the rules of the house when she invites Sol to live with her (and he is bartering in return) will make you smile. But, the best scene is the fun and inventive marriage proposal. It is like no other and is the best metaphor for the movie. An early important scene of their first date is cute as well, when they get momentarily lost from each other at a farmers’ market.

Yet, the movie is about friendship as much as love between two people. They adore their friends and the feelings are definitely returned. The friends do not take no for an answer and step up to make the wedding happen. The teasing between friends is believable and fun. The friends are played by Jay Pharaoh, Chrissie Fit, Ever Carradine, Keala Settle, Michael Massini, Jon Rudnitsky, et al. Jenn’s mother is played by Molly Hagen and her role is as much friend as mother as if Jenn is sharing her friends with her mother. It is directed by Marc Myers and written by Todd Rosenberg.

This movie got so-so ratings, but it charms you. The actors playing Jenn and Sol make you believe they are falling in love and are both pained by his fight to stay alive. They laugh, love, tease, fight, but mainly lift each other up making each better as a result. And, the friends make you believe they have been such for a long while. It is worth the view in spite of the critics’ ratings.

Friday I got traveling on my mind

Fleetwood Mac fans will know this is the second line of the song whose title are the first two words of its opening sentence, “Monday morning you sure look fine.” It is about a fickle love interest, that by the end of the week has sown enough doubt, her partner is looking to leave. Yet, when he talks of leaving, she heightens her interest in him and he stays.

It reminds me of the old line, we don’t know what we want until it is gone. Think of why Rhett Butler’s line at the end of “Gone with the Wind” is so impactful. Rhett has had enough of Scarlett and her being smitten with Ashley Wilkes. So, as she pleads for him not to go and asks what shall I do? his response of “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn” brought down the house using a curse word not usually heard in popular movies in 1939.

People play too many games with the hearts of others. Most often, it is due to the games player not being as in love with the partner as the partner is in return. So, the partner who is more smitten has to put up with a lot more. The games player wants to cover his, her or their options, so plays both ends against the middle, as Scarlett O’Hara did.

It is funny, my sweet mother was kind to every one, but the one character she did not care for was Ashley Wilkes. She did not like he was emotionally unfaithful to his wife and that he would not tell Scarlett “no.” On the flip side, Melanie Wilkes was a saint and there were many times you wanted her to confront her wishy-washy husband.

It is refreshing when people shoot straight with each other. Yet,it should not be so hard. Who should reveal love interest first? Does the partner love me as much as I do the partner? The hesitancy in these cases may relate to that “commitment” word that scares people, yet it is a variation of the games playing.

One of the scenes which speaks to this topic came in the movie “An American President” with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. Paraphrasing, Bening’s character says I am going to fumble this around, so bear with me. I am in love you with, for that I am certain….I love this scene as she tells him I am going to not say this well, but please listen. It reminds me how nervous each of us are when we first utter those words.

So, if we shoot straight with people, fighting our nerves along the way, maybe, just maybe, we can avoid those fickle relationships. And, we should not be scared of the word “no.” Knowing that another does not and will not feel the same about you is both painful and liberating. My educated guess is we all have been on the wrong side of this conversation more than once. And, the sun did come up the next day.

“They suck up and punch down”

The above quote struck me yesterday when it was uttered by conservative pundit David Brooks on his PBS Newshour weekly recap with Jonathan Capeheart. “They suck up and punch down.” What does he mean by that?

Brooks was defining too many politicians who have isolated themselves from others. He was speaking about Andrew Cuomo not having many friends he could call upon to help him in this time of the sexual harassment claims. Brooks noted some aides said Cuomo is acting toward subordinate women as he has always acted.

Brooks noted there are politicians who do good things, but there are too many that isolate themselves. They are good at sucking up (my guess is to donors and more senior officials), but they don’t have as many lateral relationships. This may be due to the lack of working with people across the aisle. It may be due to the elimination of common eating areas for legislators.

Yet, one thing too many do is punch down. They treat subordinates of both genders poorly, which disturbs me as well. I have long detested seeing people treat subordinates or perceived subordinates poorly, while sucking up to others. I added the term “perceived subordinates” as I have witnessed in many organizations someone who became surprised that perceived subordinates had more power than presumed when they put them down. It reminds me of the advice “beware of the quiet one.”

This was one of the many things I did not like about the former president. He sucked up to autocrats and donors and punched down to subordinates, reporters and legislators. One of the best metaphors about the Trump presidency was during a global summit, he was wandering the reception area alone after dinner. Others had grouped together and were not too interested in chatting with him. He eventually wandered over to Vladimir Putin’s table and spoke without an interpreter or aide close at hand. Since Trump is self-described as not a well-read or studious person, Putin likely felt as if he was a spider with a fly in his web.

So, Brooks’ term is interesting. They suck up and punch down. Two characteristics that I detest. And, I don’t think I am alone.

Wednesday morning, 3 a.m.

Simon and Garfunkel sang these wonderfully touching lyrics written by Paul Simon:

I can hear the soft breathing of the girl that I love
as she lies here beside me
asleep with the night
and her hair in a fine mist floats on my pillow
reflecting the glow of the winter moonlight

Yet, the song should end there, as the rest of the song is about his guilt for having to leave. He references feeling like he is committing a crime.

It reminds me that we should always dig deeper and get the rest of the story. This example may have been a great love, but it is not an everyday love as it will always be at a distance. It will be the eternal “could have been” relationship. While the longing may live on beyond the in-person love, the other person is not here.

I am reminded of one of the many great songs from “Fiddler on the Roof,” where Golde, responds to what she sees as a ridiculous question of her husband Tevye. “Do you love me?” he sings. Their marriage of twenty-five years was arranged, but lasting. Eventually, as he persists and she self reflects for all she has done and put up with, she tells Tevye that she does love him.

At the heart of this movie and play is how their daughters break with tradition. The first daughter marries someone the parents do not want her to, but the couple at least ask for permission, which is reluctantly granted. The younger daughter marries someone and the couple does not even bother to ask. This is the impetus for the fabulous song “Tradition.”

To say the obvious, love is complicated. The heart wants what the heart wants, but is the affection returned to the same degree? Is the level of commitment the same? Is there someone else you carry a torch for, but it is not returned? Is the sentiment lasting or is it fleeting, meaning is it more lustful than heartfelt?

I have long read the woman picks the man (and for same gender couples, one picks the other). But, using my example, she let’s him know that she is interested in him. And, for a man, there is nothing more attractive than a woman who is interested in him. Those continuing glimpses from across a room get noticed and are, hopefully, returned.

Yet, love must stand the test of time. Relationships are hard work. You must invest in them. Sticking with songs, Billy Joel sang “Tell her about it” meaning tell her or do something every day that shows you love her. Or, as I was reminded yesterday, Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote “But, will you still love me, tomorrow?” Well, will you?

You have been married a long time when…

My wife and I have been married several decades plus some, so we have observed how sayings, actions and tastes can arc toward a common theme. Note the title of this post does not use the phrase “too long,” as that is big no-no for newly married couples whose husband has not yet been corrected by his wife. The same applies for same gender couples.

So, using the framework of you have been married a long time when….

  • we hear a phrase or word on TV and start singing the same song at the same time. An easy one is following the word Argentina, we will break out with our inner “Evita” singing the obvious first line of the chorus. But, scarily we do this with other songs, as well.
  • your spouse starts using a line or word that you use use more often. An easy one is seeing a cemetery, my wife will note my line of “People are dying to go there.” Hearing your words echoed back can be flattering, but not always. Or, she might say “Don’t say it” if it us not funny.
  • we can define a restaurant, movie or actor without ever saying the name and it is understood. Just last night, I said about a TV show actor, she is that actress who starred in that Australian series about the matriarch who bossed everyone around. After one more sentence, my wife knew who it was.
  • your spouse can raise a topic and you immediately know she is bothered by something. So, you listen. Since more often than not, she wants to vent, you just listen, not try to fix. This is the best advice to young couples, especially the husband, as men like to fix things – listen more, talk less.
  • you pass to each other humming or singing ear worms. You may be humming a tune without really knowing it, until you hear your spouse humming the same song later. Why are you humming that? This is more frequent with all of the commercials using old songs to sell products.
  • you share take out dishes, as neither of you can complete one entree. Only rarely, will we order two meals from a Chinese take out restaurant, with the exception of getting two spring rolls to go along with our soup for one and one main meal.
  • you know your spouse’s favorite actors and vice versa, so you point out others who look similar that she may like.

What have I left out that you and your spouse do? I stayed away from looking alike, as people sometimes marry someone who has characteristics that remind them of their mother or father. So, they grow into those features.

Have you ever wondered…

Since I am in need to write something apolitical and, hopefully, funny, please enjoy the following. And, do offer your “wonderings” in the comments.

Have you ever wondered….

why it is nigh impossible to move cooked riced from one container to another without spilling some of it on the counter?

-why spilled oil and vinegar based dressings will invariably miss your napkin and find your shirt or blouse?

why a yellow towel, shirt, blouse, dress or shorts will eventually be stained by other clothing in the wash – some dark clothing will sneak its way in there?

-why your talkative friend who needs an audience will call as you prepare for dinner?

why some folks don’t understand that once you find yourself in a hole, the key is to stop digging?

-why too many men don’t realize a truism, a man will never be shot while doing the dishes?

why women and men tend to have different definitions of what it means to go shopping – something about that hunter/ gatherer difference or maybe it is in that Venus/ Mars article?

-why the best retorts you think of may be better left unsaid – something about winning a battle and losing a war?

why people fail to realize that there are very few one way communication problems?

-why more couples don’t realize those who tend to work at their relationships and marriages tend to have more successful ones?

why husbands and boyfriends don’t realize that their wives or girlfriends do not want you to fix their problem, they want you to listen as they vent?

That is all for now. Please forgive the generalizations used for humor as I recognize everyone is different and relationships vary. What are your thoughts?