Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dating Faux Pas

Today’s Rant is a bit of a departure from its usual topics. Hopefully this list is helpful. Feel free to add comments and additional points.

1. DO NOT DATE AT WORK! Resist the urge. I don’t care how “hot” someone is…don’t do it. It causes awkwardness if it does not work out. Unless you are 99.9% sure you will marry this person, it will most likely end, and as every should know, there is almost never a “clean” break where both people are “friends”. The reason friendship is not possible after a relationship is because there were deeper feelings in the first place, which means they do not magically disappear…and for both parties no less. And if you run with the same group of friends, then it causes tension…”Who’s side do I take?”…“If we want to go to happy hour, which one should we invite?”…Etc. Lastly, if you work in the same department, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT date that person. You have to work with this person. And if it ends ‘bad’, how will you continue to work with them? If you really want to date someone in your department, then either switch departments or find a new job!
2. MARRIED WITH CHILDREN…or any variation thereof! Getting involved, knowingly, with a married individual is not a wise choice. Even IF they claim to be “separated”, I wouldn’t take their word for it unless you have been attending the divorce proceedings. If they are not separating, and having an affair with you, then hopefully you are smart enough to realize it will not last. And if they do leave their spouse for you, then expect to have them cheat on YOU! Once a cheater, always a cheater!
Ah, the bundles of bliss that are children! Getting involved with someone who has children is very risky and frustrating. There may be resentment shown from the children…that you are trying to take their biological mother or father’s place. Plus, kids are work. Relationships are hard enough…throw kids on top of that…and unless you are a saint, prepare to be aggravated.
3. DO NOT LOAN SOMEONE MONEY! This is wrong on so many levels. First, if this is someone you have known a short while (i.e. less than 6 months) it is inappropriate for him or her to be asking you for a "loan". Assuming they are older than 18 years old, they have had at least that span of time to make longer-lasting friendships than yours, and can ask them. Second, if someone needs money, it shows they are most likely irresponsible with money and that is NOT someone you want to be involved with. There are various ways to get cash in a pinch and this person should be looking into those avenues…ever hear of a cash advance on a credit card?! So unless it is some extreme reason that you can VALIDATE, the person is probably bull-shitting you and know that if you “loan” them the money, expect to never see it again. Instead, expect that they will try to “hit-you-up” for money again!
4. TURN OFF THAT PHONE! If you are on a date, turn off your phone…or turn to vibrate and then check to see who called, check messages, etc. when you take a bathroom break. Unless you are waiting to hear the results of Grandma’s live-saving surgery, DO NOT PICK UP THAT PHONE. You are on a date, and want your partner to know that he or she has captured your attention.
5. ALWAYS LOOK SOMEONE IN THE EYES! This doesn’t mean stare the person down…which will have the opposite effect. Just be sure to look them in the eyes from time to time during the conversation. Again, this is to let the person know you are listening to them and when you are speaking, that you have their attention.
6. DON’T LIE/OVEREMBELLISH! It will only come back to haunt you. Unless you plan on this being the one and only date and will probably not converse with this person ever again for as long as you both shall live…don’t lie. First of all, do you really want a relationship to begin with falsehoods? You should know if someone likes or doesn’t like you for you...not for your lies. Plus, people usually get caught in them. It is hard to keep lies up forever. One day it might “slip” and then you have lost the person’s trust. So with that said…BE YOURSELF!
7. MEN-EXPECT TO PAY…sorry! Unfortunately, it is still very customary for a man to pay. Although equal-right activists/believers (like myself) agree this isn’t right, it is still viewed that a man should make a strong attempt to pick up the check. It should be custom that the person who asks the other person out, be the one to pay but if a woman asks you out, unless she INSISTS on paying, do your best to convince her otherwise if you plan on seeing her again. For lesbian and gay relationships…flip a coin! Just kidding. Revert to the aforementioned custom of the person who asked the other one out, be the one to pay. For group/orgy type dates…got me on that one!
8. TO KISS OR NOT TO KISS? Unless you are 7-years-old and believe the opposite sex has “coo-dies”, then at the end of the first date, a soft, brief kiss on the lips is very appropriate. It assures the other person that you are attracted to them without jumping in their pants. However, if as you attempt to kiss someone, they move back or give you their cheek, then that should send up the warning-sign that they “just want to be friends.” Otherwise, it is due to a religious belief, but you would know this before you make it to the end of the evening because the person has talked all night about their faith. Note: no garlic with dinner as this may significantly alter the intended outcome.
9. DO NOT DRINK…Too much! This can be an awkward moment on a first dinner-date. Ironically, it is usually at the beginning of the date. What happens if you order a drink and your partner does not? Don’t fret! Have your one drink but be sure not to order another one even if you are not the one driving. Also, do not comment to the person, “Why aren’t you drinking?” The person may be a recovering alcoholic and this puts them on the stop to divulge very personal information right away. If they happen to mention that they are recovering, don’t look shocked or disgusted, unless you want to end the date right there, rather comment that it takes a strong-willed person to overcome the disease. Staying positive is the quickest way too…
10. SEX…though you should avoid having it at least for a few dates! Although personally, a man I picked up at a bar and had sex with wound up being my longest relationship to date, do not use my life as an example to follow. If you have sex on the first date, you can usually be assured of one of two outcomes: a. You never hear from the person again. b. The person becomes obsessed with you and will not stop contacting you. If you think the sex is worth it anyway…then have fun and BE SAFE!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It Takes A Village...

“Every few months or so, some horrifying child-abuse case elbows its way onto the front pages, and there is a general outcry: How could this have happened? Where were the caseworkers? Lock up the monsters who did this! Let’s investigate and reform the child welfare system.” (Bob Herbert, New York Times) But then the story subsides…Americans go back to worrying about all the other issues plaguing this country. Personally, no issue is as important as this one! “Child abuse is a hideous, widespread and chronic problem across the country. And it doesn’t get nearly enough attention.” (Bob Herbert, New York Times)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported nearly 1,500 children DIED from abuse or neglect in 2003. Yet this estimate is probably low since most state records are notoriously haphazard. This same year, authorities were alerted to nearly 3 million cases of youngsters who were alleged to have been ABUSED OR NEGLECTED and confirmed at least a MILLION of them. To give you just ONE example of the horrors that take place, authorities in Michigan reported the case of 7-year-old, Ricky Holland, who begged his school nurse not to send him home to his adoptive parents. He was later beaten to death with a hammer. Prosecutors said his bloody body was dragged away in a garbage bag. To think we live in a country where this happens FOUR times a day!

“We know that there is a profound connection between child abuse and substance abuse…We know that abuse and neglect are more likely to occur in households were money is in short supply, especially if caregivers are unemployed…And adults who were abused as children are more likely than others to be abusers themselves.” (Bob Herbert, New York Times) Putting these generalizations aside, we have a viewpoint in this country as reflected by our President, Republican Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee and others, who commented during a debate on same sex marriage, "Will activist judges not elected by the American people destroy the institution of marriage, or will the people protect marriage as the best way to raise children?” If the numbers previously mentioned don’t send shivers down your spine than maybe you agree with this viewpoint.

"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman." (Bill Frist) Here is another generalization, since legalized gay unions are fairly new, it would be likely to conclude that the 1,500 deaths and 1 million cases of abuse and neglect came from an opposite sex household. (Of course I could be wrong!)

“Child-abuse prevention programs are wholly inadequate, and child protective services, while varying in quality from state to state, are in many instances overwhelmed and largely unaccountable.” (Bob Herbert, New York Times) Then maybe we should be spending our time, money and efforts trying to prevent another Ricky Holland from being beaten to death than squabbling over the definition of marriage. After all, aren’t safe, happy homes the real goal here?