Archive for November, 2010

To Snoop or Not to Snoop?

November 18, 2010

Let me be clear: I do not snoop.  But not because I’m made of morally superior stuff.

I don’t snoop because I don’t like being hurt.

The last time I snooped through a guy’s things, I was in my late teens or early 20s.  I suspected my then-boyfriend of cheating.  He denied it, but I remained suspicious.  I used the first opportunity I had to be alone in his apartment to go through as much of his stuff as I could in the time it took him to go to the grocery store and back.

Of course, I found the evidence I was looking for.  I didn’t find panties, or used condoms.  I didn’t hire forensic scientists to do DNA analysis.  This was old school.  I found love letters, from her to him.  She wrote, in the flowery language of youth, of her love for him, and how safe she felt lying in his arms.  The English major in me wanted to red pencil the grammatical errors and send them back to her for a redo. 

I didn’t feel guilty about reading the letters.  My then-boyfriend had violated my privacy the year before by reading my personal journals, then confronting me about what he had read in them.

When he came home, I flung the letters in his face.  Much screaming, wailing and throwing of things ensued. 

Of course he denied everything.  She may have had feelings for him, but he didn’t feel the same way.  Yes, he had once held her at night, to comfort her over her sick/dead/dying mother (I’m not being rude, I can’t remember which one it was), but nothing ever happened.  Yes, he may have kissed her, but they never had sex.  He didn’t know why he kept the letters, but they meant nothing to him (this said as he dumped them in the garbage).

We talked about it all weekend and decided not to break up.  I said I forgave him, even though I didn’t.  In hindsight, not breaking up was a mistake.  For me, the damage was irreversible.  Regardless of whether or not they had sex, he admitted to caring about her.  The emotional betrayal was devastating. 

From that moment on, I felt no obligation to remain faithful to him, physically, emotionally, or otherwise — which is why I should have ended the relationship.

I vowed never to snoop again after that experience, and I haven’t broken that vow.  Here’s why:

1.  Unless you actually catch him in the act, whatever you find isn’t dispositive of anything.  See #2.

2.  Evidence can always be explained away.  One guy told me the black thong panties on his bedroom floor belonged to his ten-year-old daughter.  They must have gotten mixed up with my things in the laundry, he said.  I smelled them.  They were freshly laundered.  Call me nasty all you want. 

He had made no effort to hide them, and told the lie so effortlessly, I accepted it.  Which leads me to point #3.

3.  You believe what you want to believe, good, bad or otherwise.  Did I really believe those panties belonged to that guy’s daughter?  No.  Even before I had a ten-year-old daughter, I knew ten-year-old girls didn’t wear black thong panties.  But I wanted the lie to be true, so I talked myself into believing it.  (Of course he was lying.)

You can also convince yourself that a truthful man is lying.  Hence, point #4.

4.  You don’t have to snoop to find out the truth.  You don’t need to go through a guy’s cell phone, copy down all the females’ numbers and call each one.  Or hack into his Facebook or Twitter account and see who he’s private messaging or DMing.  The evidence is usually pretty visible on the surface.  Be observant.  That usually yields more than enough information to enable you to ask intelligent, informed questions — and to ascertain whether or not he’s lying.

5.  If you suspect he’s lying, by the time you’re tempted to snoop, you already know what you’re going to find — so why do that to yourself?  This isn’t always true, but it was certainly true in my case. 

If you need that final confirmation: finding the emails, the sext messages, the hotel receipts, the flavored lubricant he’s never used on you, to know for certain he’s cheating, you should do what works for you.  For me, it’s just too painful.  I’d rather trust my instincts than find all the damning evidence that hurts so much.

I totally understand the reasons people snoop.  I don’t judge those who do.  For me, though, the violation of privacy feels wrong.  And I believe the evidence you need of whether to trust or not to trust the person you’re in a relationship with often lies right on the surface, so long as you’re willing to trust what you observe, as well as your instincts. 

Ultimately, what’s right is what feels right to you.

Question: How do you feel about snooping?  Do you snoop through your lover or partner’s things when he or she isn’t home?  Do you worry about your lover/partner snooping through your things?  How would you feel if he/she did?

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Oh Canada!

November 15, 2010

After my recent weekend trip to Toronto, I’ve been flooded with nostalgia about growing up in Detroit.  Or what I like to refer to as growing up half-Canadian.

In the Detroit of my childhood, Canada – our neighbor to the immediate south (Windsor) on the other side of the Detroit River, was a constant presence.  Canada was our New Jersey: greener and cleaner than Detroit, except, so far as we knew, without black people.  

In that land before cable, when all stations were either VHF (clear) or UHF (fuzzy), CBC Channel 9 came in on the VHF band.  Channel 9 was what you watched when there was nothing, absolutely nothing, else on to watch.  CBC used to rebroadcast a lot of shows from the British Broadcasting Corporation, so Channel 9 gave me my first exposure to Monty Python.  At first I would watch in utter confusion, somehow knowing that it was funny and irritated that I failed to get the joke.  Then one day, with maturity, I suddenly understood Monty Python, and it was as if the scales had fallen from my eyes.

My father was as much a hockey fan as he was a fan of any other sport, so on weekends in the winter, he was likely to be flipping channels between NFL football and a hockey game between two Canadian teams on Channel 9.  By “flipping channels,” I mean calling one of us kids (often by the wrong name) to come into the room from wherever we were to turn the channel-changing dial for him.

“Carolyn-etta! Come here!”

My sister Caroletta and I would fight over who he was calling. “He said Carolyn.  He meant you.”

“He changed it.  He said Etta.  He meant you.”

“Well I went last time!  It’s your turn!”

We knew he didn’t care whether Caroletta or Carolyn showed up, as long as the channel got changed.  When I lost the fight, I would stomp into the living room, snarling annoyance.  My sister would go sweetly, but always asked, innocently:

“Daddy, who is Carolynetta?”

“Y’all knew who I meant!”

No, Daddy, we honestly never did.

In high school, Canada took on different significance.  As the legal drinking age was raised from 18 to 19 to 21, it stayed 18 for a bit in Windsor. Then it went up to 19.  That was ok.  19 meant quite a number of American high schoolers could legally drink in Canada.  

Those who couldn’t drink legally could still drink, because Windsor bars apparently were not very diligent about carding. I used to hear about my classmates going to Windsor by the carload to drink whatever it was they drank in Windsor bars back then.  I was never on those trips.  I didn’t travel in the circles of the cool kids who went on drinking excursions to Canada.  My nerd friends and I figured out our own way to drink illegally without crossing a national border: we would dress up and go to restaurants like T.G.I. Friday’s or Benihana, and get served cocktails with dinner.  We never got carded.

During my undergraduate years, Canada became synonymous with peen.  Windsor was where I had my first official night-at-a-hotel-with-a-boy — my then-boyfriend, J.  During one holiday break, we decided we were grown enough to go to Windsor to gamble (Detroit didn’t have casino gambling back then) and spend the night at the Windsor Hilton. 

Everything was all well and good, until J’s car wouldn’t start the next morning.

“Call Ant,” I said.  Ant (appropriate nickname, for he did in fact resemble one) was J’s best friend.

Not surprisingly, Ant’s car was in the shop, and he couldn’t come get us.  Triple A wanted to charge a fortune to send a tow truck, a fortune we did not have.  J refused to call his father or sisters for help.

“Well, who else is there?” I asked.

“Your father?”  J said.

“I can’t call my father to come get me from a hotel in Windsor!”

But of course, that’s what ended up happening.  It is a testament to my father’s character, and the regard he had for J, that he never said a harsh word to either of us.  My father drove his rickety Ford Fairmont across the Canadian border, hooked up J’s jumper cables to his battery and gave a boost to a guy who, hours earlier, had been defiling his daughter in a Windsor hotel room.  My father spoke not a word of any of it to anyone — not even my mother, who would have gone apeshit.  The humiliation J and I felt was punishment enough.

“Your father is cool,” J said after my father left us, satisfied that J’s car would make it back across the border under its own steam.

I glared at him.  “Trust me.  He’s not that cool.”

But amazingly, he was.  My father and I never spoke of that incident.  I think he was just glad I was okay.

I also attended a lot of bachelorette parties in Windsor.  There were a couple of all-nude male strip clubs in Windsor that catered to women.  We Midwest girls found male exotic dancers exciting, in a Madame Tussaud’s waxed-to-perfection sort of way.  The idea of seeing a hot guy take it all off in a safe, date rape-free environment appealed to a lot of us Detroit women.  So we piled in cars to cross the border for peen-themed bachelorette parties.

And were disappointed.  The male strip club dancers would gyrate their hips in earnest, but there was always a collective “ohhhh” (at least among our groups of black bachelorettes) when the final garment came off.

“Girl, is that it?”

“Hmpf.  He oughta be shamed of himself dancing nude if that’s all he got to work with.”

We black women would sit there smug, making jokes about the tiny white dicks dancing in front of us. 

“They oughta recruit some better endowed brothas from across the border!” we’d say, dapping each other up, pretending to believe that myth.  Like we’d never experienced even worse disappointment when a prospective lover of our own race finally dropped his boxers or briefs to the floor.

Him: *beaming*

Us: Hmpf.  Is that it?  He oughta be shamed of himself, sweating me so hard if that’s all he got to work with.

As a high school senior, I went to Toronto with my then-VBFITWEWFAEA (Very Best Friend In The Whole Entire World Forever And Ever Amen).  We couldn’t afford the senior class trip to Florida, so our mothers let us take the train to Toronto for the weekend. 

It was kind of amazing my mother let me go.  My sister Caroletta had gone to Montreal with a friend and apparently hooked up with some Barbadian dude, who was swiftly and forevermore rechristened “Barbadian Booty.”  Maybe my mother assumed I was more innocent.  Maybe she thought there was less Barbadian booty to be found in Toronto.

My girlfriend and I did not go to Toronto looking for booty, Barbadian or otherwise.  Being together, without adults, in a big city, was enough.  We had a very limited amount of money to spend, and we had budgeted it out to the penny.  Of course, being teenage girls, we spend most of our money shopping.  We weren’t old enough to do much of anything else.  Roots Sidewinders shoes were all the rage in Detroit back then (told you we were half-Canadian).  We were excited about taking advantage of the (then) favorable exchange rate and essentially getting them at substantial discount. 

We had paid very careful attention to the cost of the taxi from the train station to our hotel.  But being Detroit girls who rode in cars and not taxis, we didn’t really understand how taxis worked.  We assumed the taxi back to the train station would cost the exact same amount as the taxi from the train station to our hotel.  We spent every dime we had, save for that exact amount.

Traffic was heavier on the return trip, and we watched in horror as the meter clicked steadily towards and then past the amount we had left, since we were still far away from the train station.  The thought never occurred to us to explain our plight to the taxi driver.  It did occur to us to panic and flee, so that’s what we did.

“We better get out!” one of us whispered to the other.

We could see the train station.  It looked to be within walking distance, though we were poor judges of distance and it turned out to be several blocks away.

“We’ll get out here,” we said.

“Really? Here?”

“Yeah.” 

We jumped out of the cab when it stopped, and my friend flung our last remaining Canadian money at the cabbie.  We laughed like criminals who had just successfully robbed a bank.  In fact, we had just successfully stiffed a cab driver, a hard working man who didn’t deserve that. 

It was funny until we boarded our train, and then, as we thought of our own hard-working blue-and-pink collar parents, it wasn’t funny anymore.

A Dating Life

November 6, 2010

I talk about relationships a lot, but I rarely talk about my own current dating life, except in generalities. My post about being thirsty, the one that admonished women not to try to turn that temporary lover — the greasy burger — into a boyfriend?  It was mostly directed at myself.  Of course I failed to take my own advice.  The results weren’t miserable, but it ultimately didn’t work.  Intellectually, I knew it wouldn’t.  Emotionally, I was lonely and he met a need.  Until he didn’t.

It’s hard to talk about my current dating life, in part, because I feel ridiculous admitting, as a divorced woman with two kids, that I am just learning how to date.  I never dated in the past.  I had sex partners and boyfriends.  I would hook up with someone in school, or at work — usually, in the beginning, for sex and giggles.  (Gasp!  Yes.  At work.  Stop acting like you’ve never done it.)   Or I would go out with the girls and meet some guy.  If I was really feeling him, I was probably taking him home.  My girlfriends knew this.  Cock-blocking became their speciality, to the point that they now make really lousy wingwomen.

A lot of those hook-ups turned into relationships of a sort, but they were never fulfilling or satisfying.  Call it a double standard if you will, but a lot of men can’t go from a one-night stand to a relationship.  In my experience, no matter how much I otherwise filled the “good girlfriend” role, the guy often couldn’t forget that I was ass up, face down four hours after he met me.  And he never let me forget it, either. 

Still, for me, chemistry is critical.  If I’m not at least thinking about having sex with you shortly after I meet you, we’re never going to work as a couple. 

Trying to navigate the dating waters again after being out of the game for over a decade is tough.  It’s not the competition — I find that I can still hold my own out there — it’s what goes on inside my own head.  What are the rules?  Do I have to follow the rules?  Is there still a 3-date rule?  Do I have to wait three dates if I’m feeling this guy now? 

On the reverse side, if I feel no chemistry with a man on date 1, shouldn’t I cut it off then?  Or should I go out with him again to see if it gets better?

Having kids has definitely forced me to modify my behavior.  If I didn’t have kids, I probably would have snapped back into my pre-divorce mode of turning (or trying to turn) sex partners into boyfriends.  But the kids are like the roommates from hell, who never leave.  I’ve tried the sneak-him-in-after-midnight, sneak-him-out-before-sunrise routine, and it’s nerve-wracking.  Don’t make too much noise, don’t wake the kids – ugh! 

And the last thing I want is for my daughter or son to wake up to find some random stranger standing in the kitchen in his underwear, drinking orange juice out the carton, or cursing the fact that I have nothing in my fridge to make into a sandwich.

I won’t even allow my brain to fathom the notion of a random stranger giving my teenage daughter so much as a single sideways glance.  No sir.  No men around the kids unless I know he’s someone I want and expect to be around.  Having kids has made the random stranger encounter decidedly less appealing.

There are some aspects of the modern dating game that, I have to admit, I just don’t get.  Dear men of the universe: what is up with texting pictures of yourself to women and asking women to text pictures of themselves to you?  One guy texted me five pictures of himself within the first 12 hours after meeting me.  What part of the game is that?  I didn’t ask for that.  I just met you.  I know what you look like.  You, shirtless, isn’t all that different from you in a shirt.  Please stop.  Boy bye.

I haven’t gotten the dreaded penis picture yet.  I really don’t want pictures of it.  If I want to see, it, I want to see it.  Not a picture of it.  And what — do dudes now have a standard portfolio of penis pics on their phones, ready to send to every new woman they meet?  Do you take them from different angles?  Do you adjust the lighting in your bathroom mirror to display your penis in its best possible light?  I can’t. 

Practically every guy I’ve met has asked me to text him pictures of  myself.  This might be acceptable in the context of a long-distance relationship — or in the context of a relationship, period — but send you pictures of myself when I just met you?  Why? 

“You know what I look like,” I usually say. 

“Oh, you’re one of those,” was one guy’s response.

“One of those?  Oh, there’s a category for that now?  Women who do not text pictures of themselves?  Yes, I guess I would fall into that category, then,” I said.

He had no comeback for that.

So please allow me to make a brief public service announcement:

Dear men of the universe: I do not text pictures of myself to people I just met.  It’s a personal quirk.  Please stop asking. 

I also haven’t wanted to blog about specific people or dates, because it seems unfair.  These men didn’t sign up to be characters on my blog just by meeting me.  Even the appellations I use with my friends when I talk about these men are less than flattering: Happy Meal, Cute Dumb Guy, Corny Ass.  Hopefully, if any of them read my blog, they won’t know which appellation applies to them.

I may blog a bit more about dating, but I think I’ll still refrain from being too specific.  At least, until one of these guys morphs into an actual boyfriend.  Then he’s fair game.

Angry Birds

November 3, 2010

Top Five Signs You’re An Angry Birds Addict:

5. You know what this post is about.

4. You celebrate – as in, break out in obnoxious end zone dances – each time you clear a new level.

3. You find yourself saying “fuck the pigs!” in your head, and you’re not talking about the cops.

2. You log onto You Tube for cheat tips and techniques.

And the number one way you know you’re an Angry Birds addict?

1. You get your kids hooked on it, too.