Okay, let’s talk basic respect right here and real quick.
Basic respect is letting a person finish their sentences. It’s treating them like a grown adult instead of like a small child. It’s not talking down to them. It’s not insulting things that are important to them, such as their religion.
I’m back in school for the new semester, and I have had some really shitty experiences so far.
The first was with a professor. She’s obviously smart, but she’s just kind of a jerk. I think she would enjoy being a kindergarten teacher more than a college professor. I just have a big problem with talking down to adults. It gives me a big bad case of secondhand embarrassment to hear someone be so condescending to another adult. If there’s someone sitting in the back row in a bank of computers that can’t be run independently because they’re connected to the presenter’s computer… Shut up. Don’t talk to him like he’s four and needs to sit in front. It’s rude.
Oh, and speaking of the word “rude”, don’t dismiss “rudeness” for “honesty”. They’re two COMPLETELY different things. Honesty can sometimes BE rude, which is why we have the white lie, but that doesn’t work the other way around. Rudeness is hurtful, honesty usually isn’t. It’s not rocket science.
This brings me to my next series of encounters. I have a couple of classmates (in a different class) who, ideologically speaking, are on the same page as me. They’re liberal dudes. Cool, good for them. However, they’re the most disrespectful people I have ever encountered in a college setting. They yell over everyone, professor included, and they don’t let people finish sentences. They interrupt everybody and it’s really difficult because they always get class off-track.
Today, however, this took a turn for the moderately horrific. It’s a class about interest groups, and we have to do a big research term paper on a group of our choosing. One of the obnoxious guys picked the Catholic Church, which is fine. Unfortunately he said that part of its agenda was protecting heterosexual marriage while defending child molestation. Someone in class got really offended, probably because she’s Catholic. So what does this guy say? “Whatever, you’re a child molestation sympathizer.” I wish I could make this shit up.
Now, I’m gay. I’m not really the biggest fan of most religious institutions, and that sentiment probably goes the other way here too. BUT I am also willing to let people have their religious beliefs and do what they’re going to do.
I’m not saying this because I’m some bastion of respectfulness, tact, and wondrous empathy or anything. In fact, I’m usually the one running my mouth with the first thought that pops into my head because I think it’s funny. That all being said, I do think these are some experiences that are forcing me to take a long look at how I am, and how I conduct myself and how disrespectful and stupid I may seem to some people.
I hope this does something similar to you. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to someone, even if you disagree with them.
The vast majority of women in America wear underthings. Of that majority, a lot of them seem to like having really nice underthings. You know, there’s just something super-swell that makes me feel great when I wear nice underthings.
Enough about my underpants. Women sometimes go to places like Victoria’s Secret and are bombarded with 8,000 kinds of bras, and about 7 options for underwear styles. It’s gonna take them some time to get through all this stuff, even if they thought they knew what they wanted before you even left the house.
I went on one such excursion not too terribly long ago, and I wasn’t flying solo. Yes, my ladyfriend needed new undergarments, and of course I would never pass up the opportunity to see her picking out attractive yet comfortable and functional underthings! However, this meant that I was the awkward person near the fitting rooms waiting for her to be done. It’s weird when you’re a girl, because the store employees are super nice and they keep asking, “do you need help with anything?” I wish I could say, “Nope, just waiting to see how great my ladyfriend’s rack looks when she comes out of that little room!”
But it gave me a new perspective on what guys must go through being the waiter-onner for someone trying stuff on. More likely than not, most gentleman-friends aren’t interested in the wares of Victoria’s Secret (unless you’re helping pick things out), so you can’t even claim the pretext of “I’m just browsing” without probably feeling a little weird. That’s gotta be rough! So how do you do it?
The best trick I have learned in my not so long life is that it’s very important to always look like you know what you’re doing. It’s part body language – stand up straight, be alert, and walk with confidence, my friend! – and part not looking like an overwhelmed lost puppy. This means don’t hang out like a creeper by the fitting rooms. It’s okay to wander around the store and look at other things. Your ladyfriend can help you by letting you know what size she wears, so if you wanted you could pick things out for her to try on. Everybody wins that way!
The other really important thing to remember is that it’s okay to touch the merchandise. I’m not saying you can necessarily go fondle the cups on all the bras (and definitely don’t fondle any of the employees, that’s just a bad idea all the time), but you can pick things up and take a look at them. Go one. I know you have probably wondered what the difference between a regular bra and a push-up bra was. Take a look! You might be a little bummed out to find that thongs look uncomfortable just sitting on a table (and maybe you can draw the conclusion that although they’re pretty, they’re probably really uncomfortable in real life on a body too!) But go ahead, look around and check out all the patterned underoos they have everywhere.
One other great distraction that Victoria’s Secret in particular has is a HUGE wall of lotions and smelly things. Go smell them. Yes, I’m totally serious. If you haven’t, you’re missing out. Find something delicious and ask your ladyfriend if she wants to smell like that sometimes, because she’ll probably be really glad you’re taking an interest in this store, and in how she smells!
Last but not least, if for some reason your lady won’t tell you her size and you feel super awkward, you can always reserve the right to agree to meet somewhere else after a given amount of time, possibly at another store. That’s part of the wonder of cell phones and watches – instantaneous contact means you don’t really lose people in malls. I would vote this as a last-ditch effort, though, because I think it’s important to get out and do stuff with your significant other. And that’s what I think is really Victoria’s Secret.
I hope you all had a fun, happy holiday week or so with your families! I know I did.
I know that for some of you, “family” doesn’t necessarily mean your biological family. It might mean an adopted group of humans you get along with better than the people who birthed and helped raise you. But at any rate, I hope whatever you did and whoever you did it with made for some great times and memories. Did you score any great loot? I got a pile of gift cards and my mom made my girlfriend hand-knitted wool slippers
That being said, let’s get down to business.
Not too long ago, my pal Aaron had a conversation with me about his ladyfriend. Unfortunately it was not such a good conversation. I mean the subject wasn’t good, it was kind of depressing. It was about when a good time is to drop The L Word. (insert pic of TLW cast with “no, not this L word”)
His girlfriend said she loved him. This is great, right? Well, I think it’s great, but I’m kind of a sap and I love mushy stuff (If you ever tell anyone, I’ll deny it). The tricky problematic part comes when the second person is either not ready to say the L word, doesn’t feel like they are in love, or offers some other response that isn’t “OMG I LOVE YOU TOO”. So what’s a dude to do?
If you’ve never been in this kind of situation, here are some sample responses from two of my favorite humans – my girlfriend, and the person who usually makes my delicious iced mochas, Kelly!
Girlfriend says: “I probably wouldn’t but maybe if that helped me realize that I was, in fact, in love with them too, then I would say it back. Imean, didn’t that kind of happen with us? I’m always the first to fall in love anyway, so…”
Kelly: “Eventually it’s gonna get awkward for her and she’s gonna keep saying it and being like “What the hell!” I don’t know, he needs to figure out what he does feel and if he doesn’t feel that way maybe he’s just wasting her time. How long have they been together? How old is the dude?”
First things first, don’t panic. It’s okay to not be ready to say you love someone. It’s also totally okay to not be in love with someone! That’s the great part about human emotions – we can’t really force them, we just have to learn how to deal with them in their own special way. I strongly advise against saying it unless you’re ready (and ESPECIALLY don’t say it if you don’t love that person) Seriously, that should go without saying but it unfortunately DOESN’T go without saying. Some people are just stupid about repeating things they hear back to someone, especially when it’s considered a horrible awful thing to NOT say it.
Second, give her some SPACE. Saying something big like “I love you” is a big deal and people need time to react, even when they’re the ones saying it. This is especially a million percent true if the person who said it doesn’t get the response they hoped for right away. So what is an appropriate course of action for this situation?
My girlfriend probably said it better than anyone else could (except maybe for me): “ideally someone would sit you down and be like, ‘Hey I’m in love with you how do you feel about that?’ and then you’d have the opportunity to voice concerns on the matter and maybe talk about how you do love that person or maybe you’re really really slow to fall in love with somebody because of XYZ but when somebody’s just like ‘I love you’ it’s kind of hard to build a discussion out of that or be rational about that.”
I know that love and emotions don’t qualify as rational, but right now let’s realize that you can speak rationally about irrational things. That’s a little deep so I’ll leave that alone, but really, it is A-OKAY to wait and cool down before talking about something big like being in love.
Here’s some really important advice for EVERYONE to follow: if your dudefriend (or ladyfriend, I obvs can’t judge/discriminate) doesn’t say “I love you” back to you right after you say it for the first time ever, DO NOT PANIC! This is a big deal for them, too – it’s not easy to hear someone confess love, because I honestly don’t think anyone truly considers the fact that someone other than a parental unit loves them in a big way. If you don’t get a response right away, remember to chill out about it. Being upset won’t make them say it out of anything but guilt, and that is SO unhealthy I can’t even come up with a good comparison.
Also, remember that they might just plain old not feel that way. Once again I turn to my trusty pal Kelly to bring this one home:
“I also think I’d be comfortable enough to say it, or maybe comfortable enough to tell them I’m not ready to say it”. (And then she sang Haddaway’s “What is Love?” and the conversation stopped being productive)
To summarize, don’t freak out if someone you’re dating says they love you. (Wait. Freak out if it hasn’t been a longer term thing. If you’ve been together a week, don’t be declaring undying love. There’s NO way that’s a real thing.) Don’t smother those people bugging them about why they think they love you or whatever, unless you are really trying to change their minds. And try to keep it comfortable and intelligent, don’t insult anyone and don’t break anyone’s heart. Most DEFINITELY do not mess with someone in a vulnerable love-declaring state. It’s rude and I guarantee you’ll lose all your friends forever.