Humor abounds in all relationships

We have been watching several Rom-Com movies where relationship humor between the lead characters seasons what would be a dry movie plot. Just yesterday, in the movie “Sleeping with other people,” the main, opposite gender characters (played by Jason Sudekis and Alison Brie) became best friends. If they ever had romantic feelings for each other, they would say the word “mousetrap” to stop those thoughts. That is a neat ploy.

It got me thinking about humor in all kinds of relationships – partners, friends, relatives, etc. I won’t repeat several stories that I have written about a few times before, but here are a few I have not.

Make sure the door can lock – when I moved to a new city, I was in a temporary apartment before we sold our house. When my family was visiting, the kids slept on a sleeper sofa, while my wife and I were in the lone bedroom. During, shall we say a romantic interlude, in walks my oldest son who was about seven and he said an audible “ooh” and left the room. Note to self, make sure the bedroom door can actually lock.

Old dogs can be taught – having learned the above lesson, we went on vacation and stayed in an old lake house, whose bedroom door would not fully shut and lock. Part of our foreplay was made to include placing a chair in front of the door to keep it from opening.

Yes, your parents had sex after you were born – growing up, my parents’ bedroom was adjacent to my brother’s and mine. Since my bed was on the nearest wall to theirs, it enabled me to hear things a boy probably should not hear in the room next door. Yes, my parents had sex after I was born; I am sure they enjoyed it.

Speaking of discovery – some good friends were visiting her mother and father and were sleeping in the guest room downstairs. After one of those romantic interludes, in walks the husband’s mother-in-law. It should be noted my friend is in bed, sans clothing, with one leg positioned outside of the covers. His mother-in-law sits on the bed while they are talking and starts to pat his leg and pats it again. Then, it hits her what has just transpired and she gets wide-eyed and immediately leaves the room. See number one about locking bedroom doors.

Invariably, kids will walk through when the movie gets racy – with one adult-child staying with us since the pandemic staying upstairs when home, he will occasionally walk through our main TV area to go the kitchen. Often, if our movie has a racy scene come on the screen, that is when he walks through the room. My wife and I will say to each other “I thought this was PG-13.” That and the surprise “f-bombs” that are used in movies cause some parental cringing. He will say, “it is nothing I have not heard before.”

Yes, a squeaky bed can be heard downstairs – when we travel, we often stay in a bed and breakfast which is usually an old house. At one place, we learned, after the fact, our bedroom and another was above the downstairs parlor. The reason we know there was another bedroom is the guests were having one of those romantic interludes as we had done earlier. And, we heard the squeaky bed while sitting in the parlor below. Oops. Our bed was squeaky as well.

When it rains it pours – staying at another bed and breakfast, we arrived during a torrential rainstorm. Our room was in the back of the home with an elevated poster bed which needed a stepping stool to get into. It also was underneath a veranda with a partially covered roof accessible by the second-floor rooms. Since this story is about romantic interludes, when we were about to Christen the poster bed, we saw rain leaking down the wall. This was a few seconds before the ceiling caved in from the rain on top of us. After getting dressed and letting the owners know of our travails, we were moved to another room across the hall, but it had water running down the walls as well. So, we ended up in a third room.

So, the moral to this story is not to avoid having romantic interludes. The moral is lock or block the bedroom door, test the squeakiness of the beds, and watch out for B&B poster beds in rainstorms. And, yes your parents did these kinds of things as well and enjoyed them. As for those movies, don’t trust a PG-13 rating.

Letter to the editor – concerns over attacks on others

I sent the following brief letter to my newspaper this weekend. It will likely go unprinted, but I want to share it with you in case you would like to modify and use. Maybe it will get printed somewhere.

Reading about the increase in verbal and physical attacks on LGBTQ+ citizens or the denigration of the rights of women or people of color concern me. This is especially troubling when it comes from people who espouse the teachings of Jesus. When he said treat others like you want to be treated, he offered no caveats. Full stop. If we would only follow that one rule, which is so important it is called “golden” and also appears in in other religious texts, we would be in a much better place with our civility. We have two ears and one mouth, we should use them in that proportion. We all deserve such treatment.

People died for our country to preserve the freedoms for all its citizens. That guy Jesus chose to spend most of his time speaking to and hanging out with the disenfranchised people in his time. We should remind ourselves why would they choose to do that. Our country has had fits and starts of trying to live up to our ideals. Yet, we should never stop trying to be the best version of ourselves.

Happy birthday to my hard headed woman (I am truly blessed)

This post was written about eight years ago and reposted a year ago. I thought of it to honor my wife’s birthday, as this and two other songs are good introductions into her character.

One of my favorite Cat Stevens (Yusuf) songs is “I’m Looking for a Hard Headed Woman.” I tease my wife (and she returns the favor) about being hard headed. But, if you look at the lyrics of this song, you will note that Stevens is singing about looking for someone who is real and not contrived. He wants someone who is hard headed about being true to herself and seeking the same in her partner.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman,
One who will take me for myself,
And if I find my hard headed woman,
I won’t need nobody else, no, no, no.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman,
One who will make me do my best,
And if I find my hard headed woman
I know the rest of my life will be blessed — yes, yes, yes.

I know a lot of fancy dancers,
People who can glide you on a floor,
They move so smooth but have no answers.
When you ask “Why’d you come here for?”
“I don’t know” “Why?”

I know many fine feathered friends
But their friendliness depends on how you do.
They know many sure fired ways
To find out the one who pays
And how you do.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman,
One who will make me feel so good,
And if I find my hard headed woman,
I know my life will be as it should — yes, yes, yes.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman,
One who will make me do my best,
And if I find my hard headed woman…

Two lines jump out at me in the song, one in the beginning and one in the end. First, he says “one who will take me for myself.” He does not want someone trying to make him into something he is not. Yet, in the final stanza, he sings “one who will make me do my best.”  He wants a partner that will help bring out the best in him. He wants his lover to believe in him and help him do the best he can. To me, that is what having the right life partner is all about.

I have used two other songs to describe my wife of now about thirty-seven years. In Loggins and Messina’s “Danny’s Song,” also made famous by Anne Murray, they sing in the last stanza “Love a girl who holds the world in a paper cup, drink it up, love her and she’ll bring you luck. And, if you find she helps your mind, you better take her home, don’t you live alone, try to earn what lover’s own.” Holding the world in a paper cup is a terrific metaphor for someone who is genuine, such as my wife.

The other is from Gordon Lightfoot, “Rainy Day People.” He sings “Rainy day people, always seem to know when it’s time to call. Rainy day people don’t talk, they just listen until they’ve heard it all.” My wife is the best of listeners. In fact, she would rather hear you talk about yourself, than the other way around. And, it is raining right now and she is out helping a friend, which is not unusual.

Like Stevens sings about, once he finds the hard headed woman, his life will be blessed. My wife is one who holds the world in a paper cup and knows when it is time to call. Thank goodness she is also hard headed, as well. For I am blessed…and equally hard headed. Happy birthday.

 A true aphrodisiac

My apologies for the provocative title, but I wanted to share an old lesson about the rules of attraction. A person becomes more interesting when he or she is interested in you. This does not make them attractive by itself, but having someone interested in you increases his or her appeal. It is a true aphrodisiac.

I was reminded of this paradigm watching a movie about a woman who had taken care of her father after a stroke for several decades. She had not loved or been loved during this time. The movie is about a traveler who takes an interest in her and slowly breaks through her protective resistance. Their first kiss surprised her as she pushed him away, but it peaked her interest and she reached out the next day to apologize for overreacting.

I have long believed the premise the woman picks the man. Her interest in him is intoxicating. But, maybe that is too one sided. We pick each other by being interested in the other person. In the documentary movie “I Am” on what makes us happy, it is noted the heart gives out an electrical current that can be felt several meters away, so if someone makes your heart beat faster, it can be felt by another in the same boat. I like to think that faster pulsation is the sound effect to the mutual eyeing of each other.

An old consulting friend used to say he was looking for a woman that was Attractive, Witty, Interesting and Interested. He loved acronyms, so he called these four terms AWII. While forgiving his consultative nature, I find his use of the word “interested” meaningful. If the target of your affection is not interested and she or he cannot be persuaded to be such, then you need to take no as an answer and move on. Ironically, he and his second wife began dating after he thought she sent him an anonymous card after meeting, so when he called to ask if it was hers, she said it was not, but she wish she had sent it. They were married for three decades until she passed away much too early.

Attractive, Witty, Interesting and Interested. What are your thoughts on the subject? Am I all wet? What attracted you to your partner?

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.