February 01, 2005

Guess Who's Back!

Today's Musical Selection: "Tied to the Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers

Hello, everyone! I hope you all had a good weekend. A few of you have chimed in on my little mini-thought from yesterday, and I'll be addressing those and other recent comments tomorrow. For today, though, I have an announcement, the one you've all been waiting for since at least the start of this paragraph: Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice are back!

In a deep-into-the-night negotiating session of an intensity and seriousness that Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman can't even dream of, I resolved my differences with our favorite power couple, thereby ensuring their services for the coming year. They drove a hard bargain, but we all behaved thoughtfully and professionally, and in the end, fortified by some adult beverages, we struck a reasonable deal. And when I say we were fortified by adult beverages, I mean it. Boy, did we have plenty. I mean a whole lot. So much that I can't quite remember all the details of the negotiation. In fact, I think I'd better go take another look over the deal, in order to make sure that it's as reasonable as I thought it was.

While I'm pulling out the contract and getting my lawyer on the line, I'll turn things over to Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice. Take it away, guys! Hey, what's this about agreeing to let Uncle Millie use my car when he's in town?....

- - - - -

Blog + Love = Blove, and Other Equations That Don't Add Up, by Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice

UM: Hello, lads! Greetings from beautiful Boston, Massachusetts, where I have been invited to give a lecture on the Romantic Arts at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which explains the mathematical bent of this week's title.

AB: You were not invited to speak at MIT. That was a product of your overactive imagination. You've actually been giving "lectures" on "Good Ways to Get Laid" while standing in line to buy beer at the Store 24. And I think your title stinks.

UM: I'll admit, it is not what I would have chosen. But tell the truth, my dear: You vetoed my first choice.

AB: Oh, you mean "Love + Sex = Pure Bliss; Love - Sex = Marriage"? Yes, I put my foot down on that one. Not down, exactly, but somewhere I thought it might do more good.

UM: That was most unkind, my dear.

AB: Do you need some more ice?

UM: No, I'm all right. But we stray from our mission. Which is, of course, to help our young lads in romantic difficulty!

AB: Yes, we're glad to be back here for another year of advice giving. I'd like to thank Fred for the generous contract to which he's signed us. And I want to apologize about the negotiating session. I hope you've recovered well.

UM: What are you talking about, love?

AB: Didn't you notice that way poor Fred was starting to turn green at the end there? I don't think he's used to drinking that much. That was an unfortunate mistake.

UM: Ah, that was no mistake, my love. That was a negotiating strategy!

AB: What?

UM: When involved in a negotiation with a neophyte to serious drinking like our friend Fred, it's always a good idea to start the drinks coming early and often. He'll feel compelled by politeness to match your pace, and before long he'll be giving away the keys to the kingdom without even knowing it!

AB: I'm astounded.

UM: And you thought my cast-iron liver would never be good for anything.

AB: Little did I know.

UM: Well, we've got a full mailbag after our hiatus, so let's hop to it, shall we?

Dear Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice,

I'm 24, and all of my relationship follow a similar pattern: I'll meet a girl, we'll go out on a date or two, we'll have a great time, and then I'll try to step it up a notch or two, send her flowers at work and call her house and offer to take care of her if she's sick, and things will just kind of fade away. I'll start hearing from her sporadically, then not at all.

I don't understand the problem. I have a decent job, I treat people well, I have no criminal record, and while I'm not movie-star handsome, I'm not bad-looking. Why don't I have luck with women? Am I doing something wrong?

Jason in Camden

AB: Hi, Jason. Well, it seems to me that you're trying too hard. Things like sending her flowers at work or taking care of her when she's sick... I know you mean well and think they're sweet things to do, but they might seem like too much for her when she's only seen you a couple of times.

UM: Aye, lad, my beloved has the right of it. Romancing a woman is like holding a dove in your hand. Squeeze too tightly and you'll smother it. Squeeze too lightly and it will fly away.

AB: That's a lovely analogy, Millie. I like it.

UM: Lad, you're squeezing that poor bird into a bloody pulp.

AB: Well, it was a lovely analogy, anyway.

UM: I'm surprised you don't feel the bird guts oozing out between your fingers.

AB: That's quite enough. Jason, I think you need to learn to take a step back, and try not to rush things with the women you meet. If you have a good date, that's great. Let it lead to a second date. Try not to anticipate too far ahead. Try not to imagine standing next to her at the altar. One date is one date.

UM: I understand your predicament, lad. You're overswinging. When a baseball player hits a slump, as it appears you have, he'll often try to compensate by swinging as though his life depended on getting a hit on the next pitch. As you might expect, more often than not this approach results in failure. And so it is with you.

I believe my lovely wife has put her finger on the problem. You're thinking too much in advance. And in this, I believe, lies the solution to your problem. If you hear wedding bells every time you look at a pretty young woman, you need to dial it back. Way back. Try to hear, instead, the sound of creaking bedsprings.

AB: Millie!

UM: I'm not finished. If you don't mind. Now, I'm certainly not advocating that you try to drag evrey woman you meet into bed.

AB: Thank goodness.

UM: After all, ballplayers who try to hit a home run every time up tend to strike out a great deal. No, if you can just get her to let you touch her-

AB: All right, that's just enough! Why haven't I realized yet that it's never a good thing when you claim to agree with me? And why do you insist on dragging every discussion into the gutter?

UM: It's all part of my unique charm.

AB: I beg to differ.

Dear Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice,

My girlfriend of five years, "Cecilia," broke up with me three months ago, and I'm having a hard time dealing with it. She was the light of my life, and she made every day better just by being around. But she decided that it wasn't for her, and without any warning, one day she decided she'd had enough and walked out of my life.

For about a month, I was completely lost. I couldn't sleep or eat, I didn't want to go out and do anything, and I barely managed to drag myself out of bed some days. I've gotten better about that, but I still can't bring myself to even think about other women.

My friends, who mean well, have been trying to fix me up on blind dates. I went on a couple to make them happy, but they were complete disasters. All I could think about was the ways in which these girls didn't match up to Cecilia.
Since then, I've shot down all my friends' attempts to set me up. They insist that I'll never get over Cecilia unless I start seeing other women. But I just don't feel ready.

Are my friends right? Am I weird for still having this much trouble seeing myself dating someone else? What should I do?

Kenny in Kingston

UM: I'm baffled by this question, but I'm not quite sure why.

AB: There are so many possible responses to this that it's hard to pick one.

UM: I'll let my beloved speak, and then I'll try to explain my confusion.

AB: Hi, Kenny. I'm sorry about your girlfriend leaving. It sounds like it was a bad situation. And I know it's hard to think of it this way right now, but there is a bright side: If Cecilia is the sort of woman who would suddenly abandon you without warning, then she's not a woman you'd want to plan a future with anyhow. I know it'd cold comfort right now, but keep it in mind.

As to your question about it being abnormal: There is no such thing as a "normal" grieving process. And that's what you're doing right now, grieving. We all do it at our own pace and in our own time. Some people bounce right back and are ready to start dating again (or think they are). Some people take longer. You're taking a little longer. And that's okay, particularly given the apparent shock it was for you.

Your friends, though they mean well, need to respect your grief. If your girlfriend had passed away suddenly, would they be in such a rush to send you out on dates? Well, you're going through a grieving period just as if she had died. You should explain this to your friends gently, and if they're truly good friends, they'll understand.

I would add one caveat to this: If you feel like you're ready to start dating but can't seem to do it, or if you yourself feel like you've been grieving for too long, it couldn't hurt to sit down with a counselor and talk things out a little bit. It might be a good idea to seek out a grief counselor anyway, just to help you with the emotions you're feeling.

Now, Millie dear, have you determined the source of your confusion?

UM: I have indeed. It's a simple thing, really. The lad and I are simply different people. We're not speaking different languages, exactly, but different dialects of the same language, which makes it difficult for us to understand each other.

AB: Now I'm confused. What are you talking about?

UM: Put simply, our lad has made a tactical error.

AB: I'm sorry?

UM: You've broken one of Uncle Millie's cardinal rules, lad. Always have a backup plan!

AB: I'm sorry?

UM: Always keep a young woman in reserve, lad. Always!

AB: I'm sorry I asked.

UM: Because of your silly fixation with fidelity, lad, you've gone and left all your emotional eggs in one basket. Now the fox has broken into the henhouse and stolen the egg basket, and is going down to her grandmother's house, only there's a wolf in sheep's clothing. Only it's the black sheep. And once you go black, you never go back.

AB: On the whole, I like your blithering incoherence better. It's less obviously offensive.

UM: If you'd kept yourself a spare girlfriend, lad, you wouldn't be in this quandary. This is why Uncle Millie never allows himself to be caught short. I'd sooner go without a spare tire.

AB: Are we talking about the one in the trunk of the car, or the one around your waist?

UM: In future, lad, you'll remember this harrowing time and keep a young woman or two on ice just in case.

AB: So you have a young woman ready to replace me, then?

UM: Well, I-

AB: What's her name?

UM: I didn't mean-

AB: Can I meet her?

UM: You see, I, uh-

AB: This is fascinating information.

UM: What's that, Fred? You're in a hurry and need us to wrap up soon? All right, if you insist.

AB: Boy, are you lucky.

Dear Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice,

I have a bit of an unusual situation. I had a long-term girlfriend (about three years) whom I'll call "Cathy." A couple years ago, I worked in a grocery store, and had a co-worker (call her "Sandy") with whom I became close. Very close. Perhaps too close. I never actually cheated on my girlfriend with Sandy, but we came close. In particular, we almost kissed one night in the stockroom. I left that job shortly thereafter, and Sandy moved across the country not long after that.

Well, long story short, Cathy and I broke up about six months ago. Since then, I've had a whole lot of nothing. And I've gotten a little lonely. And lately, I've been thinking a lot about Sandy and the kiss we almost had. I did an online search on her name once, but found nothing useful and gave up.

Well, now I hear from an old friend that Sandy's back in town! And as far as the friend knows, she's unattached. Needless to say, this has caused a lot of thinking on my part. So what do you think, guys? Should I take the plunge?

Karl in L.A.

UM: You have to ask, lad? You obviously got on well with the young woman and found her attractive. Your chance at romance was nipped in the bud by some unfortunate prior commitments. Why have you taken the time to ask? You should be in your car on the way to see her even as I speak. Go! Go now!

AB: Not so fast, Karl. I know this particular memory has a sweet romantic glow around it in your mind -- forbidden fruit and all that -- but do you really want to open that can of worms again? Isn't it possible that, since you already knew the relationship couldn't happen, you overlooked things that would have made the two of you incompatible? Come to think of it, if Sandy was so special, why didn't you leave your girlfriend for her?

UM: Sandy was his girlfriend, dear. Candy was the other one.

AB: No, Cathy was his girlfriend. Sandy was the other woman. There was no Candy.

UM: In a grocery store there was no candy? Some store.

AB: Ignore him, Karl. The truth is, if Sandy was really worth pursuing, you would already have gone after her. The fact that you're lonely now may make her seem more appealing, but I'd suggest you stay away.

UM: Where's your sense of adventure? I thought you were the hopeless romantic here. Doesn't this sound like a movie?

AB: That's the problem. They make movies with plots like that because it doesn't happen like that in real life. Better to let the warm memory stay a warm memory.

UM: Bullhockey! Lad, you should absolutely pursue this. It could be a beautiful thing! And even if she turns out to be a poor choice for a long-term relationship, the warm memories alone ought to be enough to get you a little quality time, if you know what I mean, and I know you do.

AB: Millie! What an awful thing to say! Exploiting a memory for cheap sex. Is there any depth to which you won't stoop?

UM: What are you on about, my dear? Are you suggesting that he frequent one of the ladies who charges for the privilege? Every time I give that advice, you hit me with something hard.

AB: I- you-

UM: I sense a double standard.

AB: Double standard! I- you- You're unbelievable.

UM: I know.

AB: Well, as usual, Uncle Millie has left me speechless.

UM: I have that effect on people.

AB: Do you ever. I think we should wrap this up now, before you run out of ice.

UM: Ice? Whatever for?

AB: The same thing you needed it for last time.

UM: To keep the beer cold?

AB: No.

UM: Oh. Well, in that case, I agree that we'd best be getting along. See you in a fortnight! Happy hunting!

- - - - -

Thank you, Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice. I'll be calling you later in the week to discuss certain provisions in this contract. I'm pretty sure I don't remember agreeing to fly you guys to Bermuda for "research." And I'm certain I don't remember agreeing to paint your house. My people will be in touch.

At any rate, I'll be moving along as well. Mailbag tomorrow!

Posted by Fred at February 1, 2005 10:54 PM

Hmmm, one has to wonder if "Kenny" is spelled F-r-e-d?

Regardless, I went through a very similar situation. True story. It took a good six months to recover to where I was willing to see other women. I had to recover before dating again, so it is definitely possible to recover without dating. About 16 months after the breakup, I was married to the love of my life, and we are going on twenty two years now.

A small part of me would like to see my ex someday, and she'd be a fat hag, but really, what would be the point?

Posted by: Tripp at February 2, 2005 03:11 PM
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