Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Having Needs is Not "Being Needy"

Everyone has needs. Mine revolve around fresh air, salted margaritas, stinky cheese*, and self-respect.

One of the hardest lessons of adulthood is finding the line between having needs and being needy. However, if you have any desire to be involved in healthy relationships, it's worth it.

Having needs is a legitimate statement of self-esteem. We all need to be respected, treated compassionately, and liked for who we are. Needs are manifested by clearly stating fair and reasonable expectations for others. It drives the bad, selfish people away from you, because they're too self-involved to meet your standards.

Neediness is born of low self-esteem. It's a constant barrage of loyalty tests, anxiety, and desperation for approval. Neediness is no way to live, and it drives good, healthy people away from you because they get sick of your drama.

You need for your significant other to meet up and play nice with your friends. It is needy to expect your friends to emphatically approve of your significant other, especially if he's not that nice/doesn't treat you well/is married (and not to you).

You need your friends to RSVP to a dinner party in a reasonable amount of time so you can plan a menu. It is needy to hound them weeks in advance for a response, because you're anxious to see how much they like you.

You need for your significant other to make an effort, so you know you are valued. It is needy to expect a thousand yellow daisies because you saw it in a TV show once.

You need for your significant other to make specific plans with you, in advance, so you are not stuck waiting by the phone, or dropping everything and running like a puppy the second he whistles for you. It is needy to actually wait by the phone or act like a puppy. Make plans with your friends instead.

You need your significant other to notice when you've gone all-out to look your best. It is needy to expect your significant other to notice a microchange in your hairstyle, or that your socks match (even if that's a rare thing).

You need for your significant other to care about your birthday. It is needy to schedule your birthday party on a date that poses a big conflict, just because you want to stage a manipulative loyalty test.

In the comments, tell me your line between "needs" and "needy."

*However, may I suggest never eating blue cheese while lounging barefoot? It's hard to tell where the smell is coming from.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Announcing the Oath of Non-Douchebaggery

Now that I fancy myself a political blogger, I'd like to form the Civility Party. We will wear cool uniforms and have tea and crumpets on the veranda. Or beer and nachos. I haven't quite made up my mind.

Our political action squad will be known as Americans for Everybody Growing the Hell Up Already. Our first order of business will be to put Ronald Reagan's name on every airport and outhouse across America. Oh, wait, that's Americans for Tax Reform.

However, like our friends at ATR, I'd like to encourage our politicians to sign a pledge. Instead of an anti-tax pledge, let's call it the Oath of Non-Douchebaggery. Here are the tenets:

1. I solemnly swear to remember that God (or evolution, if that's your bag) gave us all two ears and one mouth for a reason. We are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk.

2. I will not disrupt the proceedings of our democratically elected government with inane outbursts, particularly anything along the lines of baby killing, lying or any party being in favor of anyone dying of neglect. This is because my mama taught me how to act. Moreover, if a member of my party engages in said disruption, justice will be swift, and will hopefully involve free doughnuts for everyone.

3. Should supporters of my cause disrupt said proceedings, and be escorted off the premises, I will not hoot and holler like an eighth-grader witnessing a cafeteria slapfight. This is because eighth grade was a very long time ago.

4. The buck stops with me. If any supporter of my cause engages in morally repugnant behavior, such as racial epithets, spitting or acts of terrorism against my fellow elected officials, I will react immediately with something a little less pansyish than referring to said repugnant actions as "isolated incidents."

5. I will not invoke the words socialism, communism, fascism, or any other -ism without a rudimentary understanding of what those terms actually mean. Also, I recognize that the word "Nazi" is not to be taken lightly, in fact, its use should be avoided. This is because I'm not a red-baiting McCarthyist douchebag. Though the term "red-baiting McCarthyist douchebag" is probably also best avoided.

6. I will assume that everyone is just doing their best and their disagreement with my principles is not malicious in intent. In fact, their ideals and views are probably just as heartfelt as my own.

7. I will recognize that the statement, "Yeah, but the other side acts like babies, too," is a total copout. Poor behavior, no matter its source, should be condemned.

8. I will recognize that there is at least the tiniest sliver of a chance that I could be wrong. Moreover, if I am demonstrably wrong, I will say so, instead of hiding behind spurious or flimsy arguments to the contrary.

9. I will recognize that I have been entrusted with a tremendous honor: to help govern a great nation. With that trust comes responsibility.

10. I will laugh at idiotic, senseless and misspelled protester signs, no matter their source. This is because stupid people are awesome, no matter their political views.

Does anyone have anything they would like to add? Or is everyone just hoping for free doughnuts?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm a Gun-Toting Rapist Slavemaster!

In between a flurry of highly observant, "It's Monday and it's raining!" Facebook status updates, I noticed a fellow Hylton alum had posted his views on health care reform. It was thought-out and interesting, so I added a comment basically saying I hadn't totally made up my mind, but would be willing to pay higher taxes so more people can have access health care. I also expressed a wish that both sides of the debate would engage in more civility.

My viewpoint, according to the next commenter, makes me handmaid to the political traditions of basically everyone who has ever been evil.

Actually, it's even better than that. I'm a gun-toting slavemaster rapist who, in the words of the great political mind of our time:

"You fail to realize that in order to help person B you must rape person A."
I don't know about y'all, but every time I send a donation to UNICEF, I like to make a stop along the way to rape the mailman.
There was also a lot of language about holding a gun to his head to enslave him and his family via his financial dealings with his doctor. Plus, I'm stealing from him so I can feel self-righteous about other people getting health care. Because taxes are theft. Or something. I don't get it, either.
See, I don't speak "Willfully ignorant screaming crazy teabagger man." But I suppose next time I'm out raping and enslaving, I'll have to bring my gun along for emphasis.

Or, maybe, just maybe...we could all chill the hell out? I'll take back my accusations of "willful ignorance" and teabaggery if we can all agree that there are many ways of seeing the world...and not everyone who disagrees with you is a gun-toting rapist slavemaster.

I would have been happy to listen to a conservative viewpoint on health care reform, if it was presented calmly and fairly, with a minimum of insults. But calmness and fairness are all too rare these days.

Demonizing the opposition does not add to a discussion. It only stirs in more vitriol and negativity, which in turn makes more moderate (and less frothingly angry) people less and less engaged in the political process. I'm a former pollster, and every election I worked on that involved attack ads saw depressed turnout. Folks get skeeved out by the nastiness and stay home, tipping the scales to the incumbent - which is one of the reasons over 90% of Congressional incumbents win reelection. New blood and fresh perspectives become more and more scarce.

Eventually (and this is what I believe the current political scene has come to), it's just a room of people seeing who can scream the loudest. Nobody's listening any more, nobody wants to give an inch, and nothing gets done. All we're left with is shouted threats, fingers waving in faces, and Obama-as-Hitler posters.
People, we can do better.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Don't Mess with a Bloody, Buddy!

You are now entering the Bloody Mary Zone, where fantasy meets reality, and the celery is only limited by your imagination. Here we have two weekends, two events, and one message.

Weekend One:

The scene: Capitol Lounge, brunch, a quiet time populated mostly by the deeply hungover, bickering couples escorting an overbearing matriarch on a tour of local haunts, and the occasional lone drinker, rocking gently back and forth on his stool.

I do what I do almost every weekend: order a Bloody Mary. I am handed a glass with ice and vodka, and told to fix my own drink from the Bloody Mary Bar up front. I scoff and snort - why would I come to a bar to prepare my own drink? Wouldn't I just do that at home?

All that derision makes me thirsty, so I reach for my glass of ice water and take a long pull. Which turns out to be from my Bloody Mary starter glass, meaning I just sucked down a mass quantity of rail vodka through a straw.

I spend the rest of the day mildly buzzy and smelling like the school nurse's bottle of iodine.

Weekend Two:

The scene: Ruby Tuesday's. The last stop before suburban oblivion, 2.4 kids and suing the neighbors over their ugly landscaping and cluttered driveway.

I order the house Bloody Mary, a portal to a damned dimension, known here as the Cajun Mary. I figure it's just a Bloody Mary with some extra cajun seasoning, a favorite add-on for me at home. I was wrong. I had taken a wrong turn into the Land of Everything That Could Possibly Go Horribly Wrong with a Relatively Simple Cocktail.

It was (and I shudder as I type...) sweet. Sickly sweet. With a funky aftertaste and the aroma of a grand experiment plunging toward bizarre and laughable failure. I was drinking the Chris Gaines of the cocktail world. I put the drink aside in pity and disgust.

The waitress noticed, and I sent the drink back for revision. The fix, the boozy lipstick on the drunken pig, so to speak? More Tabasco. Well, at least the sinuses got a hefty workout! So now it was sickly sweet and undrinkably spicy.

That's when I found out the secret ingredient in the Ruby Tuesday Cajun Mary. Hint: It's not love. Hint: It totally doesn't belong in any mixed drink, ever.


I haven't been so appalled since I found out that To Serve Man is a cookbook. The bartender came over and apologized, and brought me a new barbecue-free drink. By this time, I felt like a boozehound Goldilocks, but I was able to pronounce it "just right."

The Lesson?

Most people would assume the lesson is to stop drinking Bloody Marys. But that's not a lesson I'll ever listen to. After all, I had to be forcibly dissuaded from inventing Velcro Riding Breeches after I was (due to my own incompetence) thrown from a galloping horse at Camp Wingaroo.

Instead, the lesson is not for me. It's for all restaurants, everywhere:

Don't mess with a Bloody, Buddy!

(Hat tip for post title: Ric. Hat tip for writing style: Rod Serling)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Someday, Somebody's Gonna Fix this by Installing a Wet Bar at Gymboree

Apparently, the good folks of Park Slope, Brooklyn, have their skinny jeans in a bunch over whether it's ok to bring babies into bars.

Well, Brooklyn, I can answer that for you: No. It's not OK.

Really. It's that simple.

Despite my tendency to take a random and intense dislike to strangers' children (especially ones with whiny voices), I really do like and enjoy the kids I know. They're usually fun and adorable. Hey, I even like it when the neighbor kids play tackle football in the hallway. Their high spirits are endearing, and they quiet down whenever I ask them to.

But that doesn't mean I want to sip a Manhattan next to your squawking brat. Bars are places where adults go to be with other adults. And I can't imagine being a parent out on their first grownup date night in ages...only to be confronted with a boozy version of Babies R Us. The anti-kids in bars folks in Brooklyn complained about mega-strollers blocking the exits, and being shushed or told not to curse, all while the parent holds a weeping, overstimulated kid who probably just wants to go somewhere quiet. Oh, MAN. I have yet to see that in DC, but I would probably lose my mind if somebody told me to tone down my language to suit their crotchfruit's tender sensibilities.

I get that it's lonely being the parent of small children. Really, I do. It's a relentless series of demands and compromises. But that's a choice you made when you spawned. You don't undergo a change as major as parenthood without anticipating that your life is going to be very, very different from here on out. You're not going to have the exact same social life for a long time to come. Is it so hard to ask your friends to stop by on a Sunday afternoon, or meet for coffee instead of drinks? Just for a few years?

In the end, it's about courtesy. There are so many confined spaces that cram the child-free up against children when they're at their most most miserable: airplanes, transit, casual restaurants, Camelot (just kidding) what's so bad about a few adults-only refuges, like bars and R-rated movies?
Oh, heavens. Don't even get me STARTED about kids in R-rated movies.

In the comments, say, "You have a baby! In a bar!" Or tell me what movie that comes from.

PS _ If you're one of my friends, and you're reading this, I really do like your child. Kids I know are awesome - it's just the random ones who tick me off. And you can bring them over anytime. Just please, don't bring them to Recessions!
PPS - I predict this will be a big controversy in Columbia Heights in 5-10 years.