and more of your questions answered
What sort of a man are you?
- Sarah in Texas
I don’t believe in ‘types.’ No two humans are alike intellectually – not even ‘identical’ twins. But I’m glad you asked the question. Let’s see if I can answer it for you.
Now, for those who regularly read me, the following will come as no surprise – at least I hope.
I am NOT a communist.
I am NOT a Nazi sympathizer.
I choose to believe that George W. Bush is NOT an idiot; that Michael Moore perhaps is, and that Bill Clinton should not be giving public access on co-ed university campuses. After all, the temptation for Monica II – the revenge – is just too great and that’s not what anyone’s daughter’s tuition is for.
Just so we’re all squared up and on the same page; my personal manifesto is as follows:
I am against whacking baby seals for their fur.
As far as the rest of the animal kingdom goes – I believe that every living thing should have its place on this planet. A chicken looks pretty damn good in my oven. I also love my leather jacket and couch.
I am in favor of every country living in peace, even though I realize some countries never will.
I believe that there is too much bloodshed in the world – all of it utterly pointless.
I pray for the living and remember the dead. But I put away my childish fancies for global solidarity when I turned eleven, because it was just around that time I accepted that some things will never change.
I appreciate sunsets, cauliflower and the satisfaction of a hearty sweat after a healthy workout.
I am a sun worshipper even though I recognize at some subliminal level that it isn’t the healthiest of pursuits. I don’t go out and bake extra crispy for hours on end. I simply enjoy exposing my skin here and there to the soothing warmth of the sun. Aside: for those who will continue their personal attack on my work after this, please forgo the skin cancer death wish emails. They’re not original.
I am against thong underwear being sold to anyone, but particularly pre-teens, because no child should be subjected to adult stupidity so long as their genitalia are matured beyond their intelligence. I feel the same way about some adults too.
I prefer the quiet comfort of a small troupe of loyal friends to a flashy flock of fair-weathers who generally don’t know and don’t care about me, but will show up regularly to eat my food.
I am usually a private person although, on occasion, I open the Ali Baba cave of secrets to inquisitors who have proven that they can keep them.
Sometimes I go out to dinner or the movies with friends. And sometimes I go alone. The former is infinitely preferred but I go either way.
I once contemplated being an animator for the Walt Disney Company. But considering what Michael Eisner has done, overall I am rather glad that I decided to stay home and wash my hair instead.
I don’t think anyone’s prior private sexual history should be made public – EVER.
Although, I have to confess, that if everyone retained those boundaries of general decency and decorum I would not have anything to write about in this column.
While we’re on the subject of sex – it’s overrated. It doesn’t last nearly as long as most men brag to their friends. A man that can go for fifteen minutes is gifted. A man that can go all night is a power tool. Enough said.
I believe in tact and humility. Honesty is my hallmark although, I confess, I’ve told more than a few half truths that didn’t pay off.
Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
Self improvement is more a valid claim for me than perfection. On that note then, I’ve come a long way.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have told a lot more people to go to hell and allowed a lot less of them to be relieved on my good nature.
I have never backed down from a challenge, but fighting is just a colossal waste of energy and time.
I consider myself fair and opinionated. I am proud of both those characteristics.
If I could describe the ideal mate, she would have to be more interested in me than in herself, and more interested in the concept of ‘us’ as a couple than in ‘me.’
To this equation I would accept her unconditional love, assume at least half her responsibilities and reciprocate all of her respect.
I do not support and have never supported terrorism. I’m not a terrorist either.
This is in response to one misguided sir from Missouri who, after reading my periodic – generalized - snubs at North America, made the quantum leap in assuming that I belong to Al Qaeda. Clearly, for this individual, two and two add up to one-eighty.
While it is true that I criticize our culture herein a lot, specifically aimed barbs are only lobbed at individuals I believe are deserving of them. That is why this paragraph is dedicated to you, sir.
I don’t believe that being gay is “a handicap” anymore than I believe Anne Heche really thought she was a lesbian. This is in response to some fellow in Florida who thinks I’m homophobic, although I must confess, after going over this column with the proverbial fine tooth I just don’t see how that assessment was formulated.
Said critic from Florida also explained in the email – in great detail – just how many ways and positions he would employ in his attempt to expand my mind – other appendages optional. Thanks, friend - but everyone is entitled to their own sexual preference. Mine differs from yours.
To the young lady from Fresno who thinks I need a two by four across the back of my head I say, why waste a good piece of lumber.
To the liberal gent from England who thought my mind needed expanding, I believe your underwear is on too tight.
Ill-fitting undergarments have been the cause of more wars than we may ever know. Crusades, anyone?
To my friends – to whom your inclusion in this batch of quips seems to debase your loyalty, kindness and sincerity throughout the years – God bless you for taking the time to get to know me as a person. I could have done it all without you, but the journey would not have been nearly as memorable, poignant or fun.
Alas and finally, to my detractors, those who will continue to believe the worst about me, I hope that I have at least provided an arsenal of facts to add to your insults.
I state for the record one final truth; that everyone is entitled to an opinion – however unworthy you believe mine to be.
You’ll have to forgive if I smile, but I don’t give a damn about yours.
The crabby critic
Dear Crabby Critic
I suspect my boyfriend of cheating on me. I saw him type his password into his email account. Do you think it would be wrong to go into his mail and see if my hunch is right? What I'm really asking is if it's wrong to snoop?
Abby from Maine
...geez, that sounds corny. But to answer your question, if all you’re going on is a hunch with no proof, it would be absolutely criminal for you to invade your boyfriend’s privacy by ‘snooping’ into his email.
Computer technology has somehow managed to render the question of preserving the integrity of someone else’s correspondences moot. Reading an email that hasn’t been sent to you is akin to walking up to a stranger’s house and reaching into their mail box to read their mail.
However, if you suspect that your beloved is shooting Cupid’s arrow into someone else’s heart, my advice is to intervene with a healthy bit of accusation. I say healthy, because most often emotions get in the way and the confrontation degenerates into a shouting match. If you want to find out the truth you MUST be CALM.
Easier said, than done, I know. But if you catch him off guard with a sort of non-emotional segue like, “I’ve been feeling insecure lately. I hope I’m wrong, but I think there might be someone else besides we two in this relationship,” and say this with your eyes never leaving his – you just might get the reply you’re looking for.
At the very least, you’re likely to get the truth. And it’s best to know for sure, Abby.
If he’s not cheating, you’re suspicions will be quelled, and if he is, you deserve the opportunity to be educated in ALL the facts before making any life-altering decision for yourself.
This is a person you’ve shared your heart and bed with. He’s someone you thought of spending the rest of your life with. But what good will that life be? It’s often been said that the worst thing is to be lonely and alone. But I would argue that a life spent in chronic denial and suspicion is far more tragic for both parties. Certainly, for you, it will be self destructive.
You have my sympathies.
Here’s hoping your guy turns out to be the prince and not the frog.
The crabby critic
Dear Crabby Critic:
Do you think revenge is wrong?
The Chinese have a very old proverb on the subject: before embarking on revenge, dig two graves. The point of the proverb – just in case it’s flown over your head – is that revenge is never sweet. It’s not even bittersweet. It’s rancid, but particularly to one’s soul and outlook.
Will it feel good to stick it to someone who’s had it coming to them, so to speak?
Absolutely…for about thirty seconds.
After that, if you have a shred of decency left in you, guilt will start to set in, and the realization that you and the person you wanted to hurt have much more in common than you thought, because now you’ve sunk to their level.
I’m not a big fan of the Biblical proverb: turn the other cheek – because patterned behavior says that whoever hurt you once will undoubtedly crack the whip again, given half the chance. Unless you're into that sort of vintage kinkiness, I don't suspect that's an option most people would prefer. So, what I would suggest should be your immediate and permanent outlet: remove yourself from the equation that is causing you all this pain.
If it’s a loved one – simply walk away; out of the room, house, get out of the car. Send a clear message that you’ve had enough – but more importantly, that you don’t feel they’re worth the effort of a confrontation. Just turn your back on them.
My philosophy: Hurt me once – shame on you. Hurt me twice – shame on me.
People can only harm you if you let them. You have to be willing to be hurt. If you say to this person – “hey, you know what? I really don’t have time for this. I certainly don’t have time for you. Sell crazy someplace else, it won’t fly here,” and then you leave – without being or getting upset – you will drive this other person wild.
They will be the ones scorned because their barb never went home. They’ll be furious with you. They might even hate you. But after all that resentment cools, guess what? They’re not going to bother you any more. And that’s going to be the best feeling of all. Because living well IS the best revenge!
The crabby critic
My friend never wants to come to New York to visit me. Her excuse is that she's too sick. I'm the one who always has to do all the visiting and frankly, I'm too busy, but I miss my friend. We could have a good time if she'd just fly in for a few weeks. Your advice?
Is she really sick or is she just faking? You make it sound like she’s using some faux illness to avoid seeing you. Don’t you think if she were well enough she’d come down for a visit? A weekend in New York sounds exciting by most standards.
I’m busy too.
Hell, I’m swamped.
But in between drowning, I always take time out to contact those who mean a lot in my life and say “hey, how the heck are you? I haven’t seen you since I can’t remember when.”
How dare you think that your life is the only important one in this equation!
What about your friend’s?
Don’t you think she has the same responsibilities, needs and obligations that need to be fulfilled?
If she’s really your friend then the only thing that’s standing in her way is probably her health.
Think about it this way – if you woke up tomorrow with a splitting headache you might think twice about doing some of your daily chores.
Your friend sounds like she has more than a headache.
She might be seriously ill.
What if she has cancer?
Would you still say, “well, that’s just too bad. She should come down here anyway because she doesn’t have much time left?"
Why don’t you make the first effort?
Fly out to wherever your friend is and stay for a weekend. See what the real deal on her illness is. If she’s just a bit of a hypochondriac and you guys have a fantastic weekend doing the town, then at the end of that weekend you need to say something like, “Well, I guess it’s your turn to come out and spend some time with me. How’s the first weekend of next month looking for you?”
If that doesn’t work and your friend still doesn’t want to see you – then maybe it’s time to go hunting for a new friend.
The crabby critic
Do you think the internet is a good or bad thing?
From your reader Cecile
As far as I’m concerned, the internet is a double-edged sword. On the one end, it has made global correspondence a reality. I can send an email to Tibet and get one back, all in a matter of minutes. Talk about hooking up. I can also use the internet to answer questions from readers like you that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to converse with at all…and that would be a pity.
Artists, poets, writers, researchers, et al. have used the net to establish their credentials, gain readership, share ideas and refine concepts without ever having to leave the comfort of their living rooms or offices. You can do a lot in your pajamas now that only a few decades before had to be done less efficiently on foot.
In terms of regular business transactions too, the net has proven a valuable resource – say, for transferring monies, or pay a bill, booking hotel reservations, buying home furnishings, clothes, etc.
So much for the pluses…what about the negatives?
Well, for starters, researching anything over the net is a risky venture unless you are absolutely certain of the legitimacy of the site you are surfing. There’s all sorts of misinformation floating around out there.
You can actually find ‘documented’ proof on the web, for example, that Saddam Hussein was a benevolent ruler, that George Bush is the anti-Christ and that communism is a superior mode of fiscal development to capitalism.
What the net has done is to validate everyone’s opinion, even though you and I recognize that not everyone’s should be validated. Certainly, many opinions billed as factual research are nothing more than grossly inflated or slanderously false and out of whack with anyone who’s not receiving encrypted messages through their toaster or microwave…if you get my hint.
But the net possesses more troubles than first meets the eye. Yes, you can go anywhere (so to speak) and see and do anything - from shopping for a new handbag, to surfing internet porn. But you can also get spammed to the point that it will immobilize your computer and wipe out your files…and that’s just from the legitimate sites.
From the less legitimate ones, you can have your identity stolen by hackers who’d much rather spend on your line of credit than theirs. You can wind up with an internet stalker. You can end up with a virus and worms…eee-yuck!
There’s also those target market research gurus out there on the super highway who latch on to your email addresses and send a ton of junk mail about fake employment opportunities for British Candy Exporters, black market Viagra, mail order brides from the Far East, Thunderball Lotteries (that, trust me, you’ve never won), girls (who are probably cops in disguise) trying to meet you for online sex (I’m never certain exactly how one humps a monitor, but the whole concept does give new meaning to the term ‘hard drive’) and a host of other ridiculous promotional junk that you would do better to simply send immediately to your recycle bin.
Bottom line: There is no fool proof way of defending yourself against any of these options, and a few more I’ve forgotten at present. It’s a sort of buyer beware scenario, only this time danger is only a mouse click away. I’m not trying to sound paranoid, but you really do have to assume some responsibility when you decide to throw caution to the wind and log on for whatever floats your fancy.
Best I can offer then, Cecile to your question is “yes, it’s good for some things, and, No, it’s not good for others.”
I don’t suppose that’s very helpful, but it does unfortunately happen to be the cold hard fact . While you’re searching the internet, it’s quite probable that somebody’s seeking out you.
Dear Crabby Critic:
Is your hair real? My boyfriend says it looks too perfect.
Is your boyfriend bald or just generally jealous of guys?
To answer your question simply – Yes, mine is real. But don’t let the online photos fool you. Those were shot in a studio under ideal lighting conditions. Most days I can fake it so that in person my 'do' looks almost as good.
I’ve a thick head of wavy dark brown hair, but that isn’t to say that I haven’t had my share of bad hair days. Tell your boyfriend I’m having one today.
That’ll cheer him up until the next guy comes along with some body part that he deems more flatteringly appealing than his own. Then tell him to acquire some inner security and grow up. There’s more important things to life than a thick mane.
If you don’t feel like confiding any of this to him, I suppose you could simply lie your way out of a paper bag and say William Shatner and I share the same rug.
Now, live long and prosper!
Dear Crabby Critic:
You sure don't look crabby. Are you really?
A lot of people don’t look crabby – even though quite a few are. I don’t think I’m crabbier than most, but I’m no Little Barry Sunshine either. Most days I have a critical outlook on the world. Truly, I just don’t see too many redeeming qualities about our abuse of one another and the planet these days.
Honestly, with all his infinite wisdom, God put US in charge of the world?!?!?!?
To misquote Dr. Phil: “What was he thinkin’?”
I do have my moments though where I smile a lot, cry a little, spread the good word to those who’ll take the time to listen and not judge me as full of crap, and then retreat into a cloud of “oh, to hell with it!” until the next round of positivism sweeps over me.
What can I say – I’m human.
What? You don’t have moments where you behave like someone even you wouldn’t want to know?
The crabby critic
Do you think men and women can ever be just friends?
Absolutely! The trouble occurs when one of the interested parties wants more…or had it, lost it and now wants it back. The so coined ‘battle of the sexes’ or ‘he said/she told’ saga has been going on ever since one figured out the purpose for which the other’s orifice had been invented. Ah me, the age of discovery.
But I’ve been plutonic with more than my fair share of women, and still am. There’s nothing sexual about our friendships – we merely value each other’s company and respect one another’s opinions. In my case, the women in my life who have not been the women in my boudoir have been remarkably clairvoyant with regards to my other relationships…and incredibly forthright with their advice, concern, respect and guidance. If anything, knowing these gals has made me a better man.
The trick is to recognize early on what the interest is for both parties concerned. Some women find a man attractive early on but quickly decide he’s more a ‘brotherly’ figure to them than a lover. Men do the same with women – ‘sisterly’ or ‘matronly’ rather than boom-boom, come back to my room.
It’s absolutely fatal in these above scenarios if one of the parties suddenly proposes that the sisterly/brotherly bond turn into a ‘get naked’ scenario. Even James Bond understood this. You’ll recall he never bed Miss Moneypenny. Still, they always remained good friends – particularly when Lois Maxwell was in the role. But I digress.
I suspect you’re asking the question here because either a girlfriend or family member thinks you’re nuts for even considering a male/female relationship in which no bodily fluids are exchanged. I know a lot of people out there who tend to view the opposite sex as ‘fresh meat’ ONLY on the mate market.
Personally, I think that’s a very sad, very skewed perspective. I feel sorry for those people. You see, they’ll never be able to relate to any woman or man – not even the one they eventually settle down with – because ultimately their first and foremost consideration will be zeroed in on that little flap of skin situated due south of their equators.
What I find rather off putting however, is when these same people decide to attach an aura of weirdness to the otherwise benign men/women friendship schematic – as though anyone indulging in a friendship that never goes any further is either sexually/psychologically frigid, or entertaining homosexual tendencies, simply for not taking their interests further and lunging at someone as though you were an alcoholic and the other person was ‘last call’.
You’ve got the right idea – be friends with whomever you decide is worthy of just such a friendship, and to hell with the naysayers.
The crabby critic
I have a friend that wants to have her teeth removed to be more attractive to men. What do you think?
Yeah, toothless chicks rate real sexy on my list.
Right up there with ones covered in warts, flaky patches of psoriasis and four letter tattoos. Well…there’s no accounting for taste. Especially if you have none!
Do you mean that she wants her ugly teeth capped or corrected? I suppose that’s alright. Oral surgery has helped many a buck-toothed babe and porn star assuage the ol’ French whore look for some glamorous pearly whites. Aside: the latter are still ol’ French whores. They just don’t look like ‘em anymore.
But I would advise your friend of the following: if she’s changing her appearance for a man or men in general she’d do better to take that hard earned cash and blow it on some nice vacation to a tropical paradise.
Any guy who would say something like “Hey babe, I like you, but yank out that bicuspid to swear your love” isn’t worth having around.
He’s hardly Prince Charming. Tell him to give his molar (and other appendages, if he should so desire) a hearty tug to see how he likes it. Then tell him he has halitosis.
The crabby critic
Dear Crabby Critic:
My best friend is mad at me because he thinks he is in love with me and the feelings are not reciprocated. The sure death of a friendship, isn't it? Is there a way to prevent this from happening again with a new friendship?
The short answer is – NO. You can’t stop someone else from falling in love with you any more than you can stop yourself from falling in love with someone else. It just happens.
Since you obviously have NO romantic inclinations towards this person, my advice would be to steer clear of the friendship all together for a couple of months and keep any contact you do have with this person to a marginal polite “hello.” Don’t even ask “how are you” because you’re likely to get a bitter “pining after your sexy butt, or don’t you recall?!?!?” reply.
The worst thing you could do is give in to this person’s advancements and sleep with them, because then their pursuit will have been validated and you’ll be miserable and left pondering just how much time should pass before you can crawl out from under the covers and go back to looking for Mr. or Miss Right.
That’s what’s known as a pity f _ _ k. Don’t do it!
I suppose the friendship has come to an end…unless your pursuer finds somebody else to set his/her heart afire, in which case he/she will return to you rather sheepishly – if they’re a person of merit at all – and acknowledge to you that your assessment of the friendship - as staying a friendship – was the correct one all along. That would be the best case scenario. But you should also be prepared for the worst.
The crabby critic
There's a question I've been tossing around in my head for several days now, and it's affecting my sleep at night: What is the meaning of life? Can you answer it? My sleep loss is beginning to cause problems.
Clear the fog out of your eyes.
I ponder the great question occasionally too, but I’ve never lost sleep over it. There is no all inclusive definition to the ‘meaning of life.’
Everyone’s life is different.
Everyone’s goals are different.
Everyone’s aspirations are different.
Instead of contemplating universals, ask yourself specifics.
What gives you great happiness?
What makes you smile?
What do you get up for each morning and why?
That’s the meaning of ‘your’ life, and it’s good enough for anyone who’s worried that Mars will collide with Jupiter and spoil that garden party they were planning on giving. Don’t turn your life into a Bugs Bunny cartoon over this silly eternal.
As earthlings, I don’t think we were ever meant to unravel the riddle. If it’s causing you to lose Z’s I wouldn’t suggest you visit the spirituality section of your local bookstore either.
There are a lot of quacks out there – both secular and non – who’ll claim in print to have received ‘the word’ when actually they’re just been channeling shortwave signals by mack-tacking a piece of tin foil to their foreheads.
Look within yourself for the answers. If you look hard enough, you’ll discover there are a lot more of them there than you thought.
Yours truly, C.C.
I have two friends, each married to someone else. They are planning to have an affair. The thing is she's old enough to be his mother. What should I do?
Set up a lawn chair and get comfy for World War III.
Oh, and STAY OUT OF IT!!!
Nobody asked you to vacate your own private Shangri-La and move into Peyton Place.
Both of your friends disgust me. Anyone who cheats has that same effect on me, I’m afraid. No sympathy afforded there! But bottom line is: you’re a bystander. I don’t know how you come by this info about their pending affair – are you a busybody or what?
But let us just assume, for the sake of argument, that one or both individuals in contemplation of this affair thought little enough of you as a friend to invite you into their looming badinage. What are they expecting you to do with this information? Ponder it thoroughly or sell to the highest bidder for their silence on E-Bay?!?
If the answer is nothing, why tell you? Perhaps they’re testing the integrity of your – ahem…loyalty to them on this subject. Will you go and tell their respective spouses that the hobby horse is being ridden by proxy at another stable, or will you just stand by and let the manure pile where it may? Either way, it’s none of your concern.
A lot of times people contemplate getting involved in situations which do not concern them directly. This scenario would be entirely different if, for example, you were out shopping one afternoon and saw the two of them groping one another like a pair of sweaty farm animals in heat in the parking lot. If you were a good friend of one or both of their respective spouses, and, depending on the depth of that loyalty, you might have chosen to tell the innocent spouse in either equation that their significant other was an amoral stooge. But since the two perpetrators are the ones sharing their infidelities with you – I say, let everyone find out for themselves what’s in store after the condom comes off.
By the way – your reference to the whole May/December slant of the affair is a benign issue. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that having the affair in the first place is just plain WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!
You want to know how this will play out: he’ll get tired of her before she does of him. He’ll either keep his wife as a sideline and lie to her until the illicit tart he’s bouncing either gets pregnant or resentful at the fact that he’s not exactly chopping off his wife’s finger to slip the wedding band on her.
If you still feel you should do something for these two morons, my advice is to run out to the closest Blockbuster Video and buy them each a copy of Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful. Then wish them both ‘good luck’. If you’ve seen either film, you know that they’re both going to need it very, very soon.
The crabby critic
How do you know when it's time to end a friendship?
The short answer is – when the friend in question becomes disloyal, for whatever reason. I fly on the side of personal integrity. Some people have it. Some don’t. But anyone who would cross your path, especially after taking the time to set up a relationship based in trust, mutual respect and good faith is clearly NOT YOUR FRIEND.
And it doesn’t matter how remorseful after the fact that person may become once they find out that you’ve found out about them. That’s no consolation. They would have kept being disloyal if you were either naïve or dumb enough to keep them on as a confident.
Life is too short to waste it on people who don’t give a damn about you! Both of your 'friends' have proven that adage.
Fair-weather friends come in flocks, but the genuine pure of heart are as rare to discover and keep as finding uranium ore in one’s underpants.