How to Avoid Douche-baggery in Yourself and Others

No one wants to be thought of as a douchebag, aka what we used to call a jerk in the olden days, so to avoid having people think of you as one, you have to avoid being one. Here's how:

1) Keep your word. 
It’s simple. Say what you will do, and then do it. If you don't think you can do it, if you don't think you will remember to do it, if you don't care, or just don't want to do it, or if there’s a potential conflict - even if it develops, later - tell people. You can say so, beforehand, or halfway through, or even at the last minute. For beforehand, say, “Sorry, I can’t promise that/ do that / be responsible for that.” That’s all you have to say. If you feel you must add more, say “I’ve got something else going on then / another conflict/ other plans / can’t afford it / don't support it / it’s just not my thing.”  Even if your other plans involve a nap. For the last minute conflict, say, “ I’m sorry guys, something has come up, and I just can’t.....” The person who is afraid to say “ I really don't want to do that “ and then is late, doesn't show up, or falls through on his assigned task, is a passive-aggressive asshole. He is fooling no one but himself. Don't be that guy. No one likes him. This sort of behavior makes people twice as angry as if he’d just say Nope in the first place.

2) Pay your share. Do your share. Give your share. 
No one likes the guy who always weasels out of paying or doing his share of whatever. No one likes the guy who never has enough money or time to devote to whatever. No one likes the guy who waits till the last minute and then bungles it. No one. People remember who that guy is, and stop inviting him to participate / join in. If you are invited to participate, see #1. If you are constantly running out of funds or time, re-evaluate your priorities. If no one is inviting you to join in, ask yourself why, and start behaving better from now on.

3) Spend time in self-reflection. Figure out who you are, what you value, what you want out of life, and put your money, effort, and energies towards those goals. If you never have the money or time for “x” but wish you did, re-evaluate. Keep a budget, a ruthlessly honest one, just for yourself. Where you spend your money is what you actually value, even if you don't “think” its true. If your old goals/habits/expenses/ friends aren't getting you where you want, find new ones. Scary though it may be, it’s better to start fresh and try a different tack than be stuck, miserable and complaining, for the rest of your life. If your friends are the ones who are douchebags, find new friends. 

4) What you sow, you will reap. If friends or family matter, go out of your way to cultivate them. If a career is number one for you, hustle and work for it. My personal advice is to balance it all - a little bit for each. Not moving in the direction you wish? Keep a daily journal. Be intentional. Nothing happens if you are passive. Make yourself do one thing each day that moves you towards your goal. Keep a list of what you did in the journal. It doesn't have to be flowery, it doesn't have to be long. Bullets are ok. If you forgot to do something towards your goal today, do two, tomorrow. Make the effort, see #1, 2, and 3. Worried about the past? Don't be. Turn over a new leaf and folks will respond. Just give it time.

5) Move through the world as you wish to find it. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Create the kind of reality you wish to live in. If you want people to like you, be likable. You can't treat people like dbags then expect them to hang around forever, being nice to you. If everyone you know is a jerk, ask yourself why. You have to give, in order to get. While it feels like your life should be all about you, it isn't. Remember you are just a small piece of a larger puzzle. Nothing wrong w/ that....fit into the whole harmoniously. Don't be the piece that’s all ragged and bent and gets hammered down then thrown away and replaced bc it ‘s useless. Don't be useless. See #1,2. If you've tried these things and nothing is working, then #3. 

6) There’s an old saying : Intellegent people talk about ideas. Shallow stupid people talk about other people. Don’t be a gossip. Don’t talk trash about others. Remember, a gentleman never reveals a lady’s sectets. If you can’t say something nice about someone else, just don’t ever say anything. Mark Twain I think was the one who wrote, “Better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” 

Sent from my iPad

Letter to the Young Men I Dated in HighSchool - Another Type of #MeToo

Something has been bothering me for awhile, and it’s a New Year, a fresh start, so I figured I’d take a moment to address it. I have let it sit in my thoughts for years, but I notice from FB that you now have wives and daughters, and presumably care about the females in your lives, so I want to start a generational conversation. 

I know that at various points, either long ago or not so long ago, some of you have said to other friends within our youthful social group that I had sex or slept with you. I know this bc others in our group have told me you said it, or told me you discussed it between you. You and I both know this isn't true. I was a virgin when I graduated from high-school. We may have kissed passionately, made out, groped around and consensually explored each other’s bodies with fingers and tongues, but you know and I know there was no actual sexual intercourse between us.

I understand the male need to brag about exploits real or imagined. I understand the need to save face, to act cool, join the club, to appear more experienced than one was, to avoid the appearance of rejection, and to trash talk about girls. I totally get it. I have raised a house full of sons and watched these dynamics unfold among 16, 17, 18 year old boys, both as a parent and as a teacher- where girls in high-school are several years older, socio-emotionally, than the boys, and tease, toy and manipulate the poor hapless fellows into a variety of situations. It’s a tale as old as time, and the very reason that teenage females were married off to older males, historically. 

I do not dismiss my own role in any of this. As a 16, 17, 18 year old young woman, I had passions, too, that I did not know how to channel. The ‘70’s were an era where young ladies read “Cosmo” magazine as a lifestyle hack and thought we were liberated when we did what it suggested we do. But I also had a strong self-concept, rooted in my own ego needs as a young lady with intellectual, cultural, religious, and social goals for my life, that I somehow managed to wrangle myself into achieving. I am not ashamed of anything I have done or not done - it has made me who I am today.

I did not have brothers or a father around to look after me, when I was a teenager, to have these conversations, to advise me, or stick up for me. But I write to you today bc it does hurt, even a strong minded woman like myself who has lived a good life and is above such petty things, every single time a man talks about a woman sexually in an exploitative way, even more-so if what he says is untrue. It is a form of emotional abuse to spread lies, to engage in dismissive braggadocio sexual banter about someone other than oneself that is untrue. It is, in fact, sexual harrassment. Please look at your daughters, wives, or other female family members and ask yourself: "How would I feel if some boy she knew spoke about her this way?" What sort of world are our daughters growing up in? Let’s change it.

No apologies needed......just stop doing it. Have a conversation with the young men you know, to let them know this isn't cool, and with the young ladies you know, on how to love oneself in-spite of it.

Listen to Joe Biden here talk about the issue (paraphrasing) “the important thing is to get guys to stop the loose talk about women.” The “loose talk” in general fosters the sort of environment where women are harrassed and not believed.


How to Attend a Wedding as a Guest

I know you know all this, but a few reminders. It is not enough to show up, you must also participate. Here’s how: 

1) You shall wear a suit and tie and nice shoes, trim your hair and beard before you go. Trim your nails, wear your best underwear. You want to look sharp, successful, and smell good bc weddings are the best places to meet people, especially potential dates/ girlfriends. I know you will be polite, handsome, and charming. Dance with old ugly ladies, too. At least offer to fetch them something to eat.

2) If you have not rsvp’d to whoever sent you the invite, do so NOW. Phone call, rsvp card, email or text. Do it. They need to know BEFORE THE WEDDING how many people will be there, so they can confirm w the caterer how many plates of food will be planned for / charged to them. If no one rsvp’s but everyone shows up, it’s a disaster - not enough food. 

3) You shall bring a wedding gift that cost over $50 (Texas prices; East and West Coasts start at $100.). No exceptions. Price of admission. $50-100 is the expected price range if you don't want others to think you are a dbag. Trust me, the bride (and her friends and family) will talk about this, as well as who wore what, who was with whom, and who behaved or didn't. Your ability to follow social conventions here will determine whether you pass or fail, in terms of being admired or laughed at, invited to future other friends’ weddings/ social events, and generally considered a contender, as a man, socially. Through one’s ‘20’s, weddings become a huge part of one’s social life. The cost, and the good taste of your wedding gift sets the tone of what others will think of you.....are you white trash? Country? A hillbilly? Or are you a civilized man who sets an example? A potential good provider, desirable? You decide how others perceive you. Always better to err on the side of too much than too little.

The typical thing before buying the wedding gift is to ask someone, before the wedding weekend - ask any friends you have who are also going, female friends probably know more about this than the guys- “Where are they registered?” Typically, the bride and groom “register” a list of gift items they want to set up house -  the only time in life it is truly acceptable to do so-  at several places around town. Back in my day, it was crystal, china, and silver at a dept store like Macy’s. Nowadays, it’s more likely to be blenders, dishes, toasters etc at Target . If a friend says, “Macy's, Ikea, Crate and Barrel, and Target”, you either go online and find “wedding registries” (usually stored by name of bride and groom) at one or more of these stores, or physically walk in the store, go to customer service, and ask. Note: You don't have to buy the item there, if you can find it elsewhere for less. However, you must buy the exact item they have requested, no substitutions. 

They most likely have already had several wedding “showers”, typically small lunch or afternoon parties w cake and more gifts. (Not to be confused w bachelorette parties, which include the bridesmaids and younger friends, and involve drunken revelry.) The showers will include older female relatives as well as younger, be during the daytime, and sedate. Brides get very excited about all this. The difference between a shower gift and a wedding gift is not only price, but seriousness and good taste. Shower gifts range from small items like pot holders, kitchen utensils and measuring cups to gag items like sex toys. If you have not been invited to any of the showers, don't worry about this. Showers are often given days and weeks before the wedding, and involve mostly female relatives and friends, and small or silly gifts. 

You must still bring a wedding gift, in the $50-100 cost range, whether you were also invited to a shower, or not. You will leave it in your locked car for the wedding itself. You will walk in to the reception (the party, after the wedding), with the gift, and ask a bridesmaid, groomsman, greeter, or any old lady, “Where are we putting wedding gifts?” before you sit down, greet friends, eat, drink or do anything else. 

After you have purchased your wedding gift item, you absolutely must wrap it in wedding style wrapping paper, with a bow and a card. No exceptions. So plan on also purchasing beforehand: a roll of wedding wrapping paper. Go to the greeting cards/ wrapping paper section of the store, and find something that is not Christmas, Valentines, Birthday or Baby Shower wrapping paper- this is in the category of advanced, as you must look at the designs here, and choose. Baby shower stuff is in pastels w animal pix, birthday paper will be in bright colors, etc. Wedding wrap is often white, silver, or gold. The more minimal the design, the better. You also need  ribbon and a pre-made bow and a card. You will be judged if you do not. Go to Target to do all this - another $10. An easy classic color combo would be white wrapping paper with ribbon and bow in another color- anything but black. The card is essential - tape it on strongly- bc later, after the wedding, the bride will write thank you notes, and she needs the card to tell her who gave her what. This is where the gossip mill spreads around who gave an acceptable gift, and who did not. If you ever want to be invited to future friends’ weddings, or hook up w the bride and groom's friends socially in the future, don't cheap out. Everyone will know.

Ok, lets say you can’t find where they are registered or you are too lazy, and want to give cash or a gift card. YOU MUST SPEND MORE ON CASH OR A GIFT CARD THAN YOU WOULD ON A GIFT. $75 is the minimum here. $100 is better.

If you decide that you need an all purpose tasteful wedding gift, can't track down the registry, or don't know what to buy, here are your best options: crystal bowls, silver candlesticks, high end cookwear like caphalon or le crueset. Buy one large skillet or a griddle or a dutch oven. Ask for a “gift receipt” (a receipt that does not show the price) when you buy it, and include it with the gift when you wrap it. This way, if the bride hates it, she can exchange it. But no matter what you do, she’s gonna know how much you spent. Stick to $50 minimum.

When dad and I got married, I did not register (long story, I was just coming off my divorce and felt it was in poor taste.) All my friends knew that.....but all of dad’s friends did not. They were determined to give us nice gifts, bc over the years, dad had given them nice gifts for their weddings. It is part of the civilized social exchange under which we live. So instead of the china pattern place settings people typically receive for wedding presents, we ended up with a ton of crystal bowls, silver candlesticks, vases, etc. Even my students at the time gave me gifts. The gifts we liked the most and used the most were the caphalon cooking pan set and a set of high end kitchen knives. We also received tons of random stuff from Crate and Barrel and the Waterford-Wedgwood store. When I need to buy a wedding gift, if I do not know the couple and what they want/where they are registered, I give them a beautiful large crystal serving bowl. When friends have a house-warming party (similar to a non wedding gift occasion) , I give a Le Crueset dutch oven in their favorite color.

Most of all, have fun! Be charming to the old ladies, yes, they are judging you. 


WIFE/ MOM FOR RENT : $50 / hour min 2 hours to start

Are you living in a dusty shabby covered in lint or dog hair slightly out of date man cave? Do you come home to your empty bachelor pad from work each day and eat pizza - again - while looking at that dead plant in the window? Are your sheets and towels gray and scratchy? Does your apt smell like old gym socks? Is all your furniture beige, with stains? Nothing but beer in the fridge?

Services provided: This is not a sex thing. I am not a maid. Be prepared to spend some money.

Cleaning - I will find an inexpensive maid for you, wherever you live, and hire her to come as often as needed. You will pay the bills.

Cooking - I will teach you how to grocery shop, teach you how to cook, and make a half dozen tasty meals, of your own menu choice, then freeze them for you in individual size portions. I will show you how to stock your fridge and manage a budget and food rotation.

Decorating - No flowers, just nice manly simplicity, I promise. We will reconfigure your apt tastefully, together, and remove the beer art, girlie pix, painting you found in the trash, etc. You can keep one Ikea object, the rest have to go. Hello, West Elm.

Housekeeping - I will stock your home with sheets, towels, dishes, soaps, cleaning products, appliances large and small, assorted necessary items you miss from home but never knew you needed, etc, so you can stop living like an animal. Little touches - We will confer together on your sense of “style”, and discuss what else is needed.

Instead of “Queer eye for the straight guy” it’s “Female eye for the young person of either gender” aka How to Adult. As an added bonus, for a limited time only, I also offer: How to sew on a button and how to iron a dress shirt. 

Act now and receive this offer: More lessons in “How to adult”, including:
* How to speak on the phone
* How to speak to other adults in a work setting
* Interview skills
* How to ask for something
* How to say NO
And more!


#Me, too

I was almost raped by a young man I knew, an acquaintance of mine at Rice University, in the fall of 1979. He was a friend of a friend. 

There had been a recent assault and killing of a young woman near the edge of campus my freshman year, probably not related to anyone at Rice, and the students decided to create this group of volunteers, all males, who would walk the females around campus, after dark, an escort service ha-ha to escort you to your destination. It was common to go to the library after dinner to study, or to the rehearsal rooms if you were a music major, there were plays and movies and other events on campus, people played racketball, foosball or pool, etc in the student rec center, and two different pubs on campus. The common night time destinations each had a desk w a group of guys studying, who would walk you back to your dorm or wherever, if you asked them to. The idea was that these were guys you knew, men you could trust to get you there safely.

I was leaving Weiss, a residential college on campus, where I’d eaten dinner one night w friends, and headed over to the library. Two guys - one of whom was dating my roommate, and the other, his good buddy/ roommate, offered to escort me there. We had no sooner crossed the street from the Weiss college dining hall, where there was a thick strand of trees, when it happened. The one who was the buddy of the one dating my roommate suddenly pushed me down to the ground, hard, knocking the wind out me, and crawled on top of me, pinning me down. He restrained my arms w one hand and used the other to try to take off my clothes. He began roughly trying to unzip my jeans, pulled my shirt buttons off as he ripped open my shirt. I called out for help but his friend, the one dating my roommate, just hung out a few feet from us and looked away. Clearly, they had planned this.....as the guy unzipped my jeans, tried to stick his dick in me, I kept twisting and turning, averting my hips side to side so he couldn’t hit his target. I struggled, worked one hand free and tried to push him off, and kept hollering for help. He put his hand over my mouth, roughly, bruised my lip. He was an athlete and much stronger than I. He started to hurt me. I remember weird things crystal clear : how quiet it was, how absolutely no one was around. It was dusk, not completely dark, 20 ft across the street from where I’d just had dinner with these people. I could see the sun going down over the football stadium in the distance. Blackbirds were gathering, squawking in the trees like they do in the winter dusk. The man on top of me was getting angrier and rougher with me as I struggled against him. Suddenly a group of people I knew walked by. I called out to them, which startled the person on top of me, and he paused for a just a moment. I rolled out from under him, jumped up, and ran over to the group walking by while frantically trying to button up my shirt and zip up my jeans. They just looked at me weirdly. I said nothing. 

I was young when this happened to me - 18. I had never before known guys who were violent, abusers, rapists, or assholes. I was naive and way too trusting. I didn’t know what to be suspicious of, wasn’t educated about the topic, thought it could never happen to me. I thought I’d been careful...I thought I knew these young men, that being acquaintances somehow vetted them. None of us were drunk, it was a weeknight, I was sober and planning to study that night. I hadn’t flirted with this guy, or led him on, spoken to or even interacted with him much at all, previously. The fact that he’d sat there, at a large dinner table, a few spots down from me and acted normally before he did this made it all seem surreal. I felt stupid, like this was all my fault, like maybe I had somehow done something to provoke the attack, like I should have known better or something. I felt relief that luck was on my side and people had walked by just in the nick of time. I didn’t tell anyone, it had been a near miss, what was I going to tell the police? I didn’t want a lecture. I didn’t want to get embroiled in a “he said, she said”. I did not feel I would be believed; hell, I almost didn’t believe it myself. I was ashamed, embarrassed, and felt weird. I also really needed to study for a test that night, didn’t have time to waste. Just dealt with it, all these years. I guess since it was a near miss, I’m not as fucked up about it as if the guy had finished his plan. My attempted rapists name was Karl Hack. His roommate, the enabler, was Steve Connelly. I wonder how many other girls they worked their little routine on?  I never took a campus escort again - figured I was safer walking myself home, alone in the dark.