Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Foot In Mouth Problem

            My buddy Wyatt is a funny man.
            He walks into my bar the other day, already drunk as a skunk.
            “Hey brother! Why don’t you set a young man up with a shot and a beer?” He yells out in his deepest Hick voice.
            I finish washing the last of the dishes and dry my hands with a clean dry bar rag.
            “Coming right up,” I tell him.
            It’s about 3 pm and Wyatt, bearded, standing there in his working man’s beige-green jacket looking like the illegitimate son of Jesus and Jack Kerouac with eyes gleaming a narcotic haze, leans forward, as if the bar itself is the only thing holding him up.
            It probably is.  
            “You doing all right, buddy?” I ask him.
            He doesn’t look up. He takes the shot glass between his trembling fingers and puts it back down. And, still without looking up, takes the can of beer and chugs that back. He places the two now empty objects down on the bar and belches loudly. Some calm folks nursing some whiskey gingers look over. He turns to them:
            “Howdy! Many apologies.”
            I lean close.
            “Hey, Wyatt? You don’t look so good. Sit down.”
            Wyatt looks right at me. “I’m not right.”
            “I can see that. Well, what happened?”
            “A date,” he says, head down to the ground.
            I shook my head. “I told you those things were terrible. What happened?”
            “I was too honest.”
            “Ahh, see, never do that.”
            “She said she lived in Bushwick and all I asked was if she had HPV. It was a goddamn joke.”
            “She didn’t find it funny?”
            “Not really. Then we drank more and I told her about my ex, the bitch.”
            “That’s another thing,” I say, frowning.
            “I just want to be straight with someone in this goddamn town. It’s gettin’ to be winter soon. I need me a curlin’-up-with woman.”
            “Maybe you should stop drinking?”
            He looks me dead in the eye.
            “What—are you crazy? And face this town sober? Who the hell can do that?”
            Poor Wyatt.
            He’s just feeling what a lot of people are feeling as they put on their winter jackets, feeling the cold chill up their spine.
            Wyatt’s just tired of the games people play.
            You just can’t say everything that’s on your mind.
            Perhaps it’s because I’m paid to talk I say whatever I want.
            I’ve actually been told on more than one occasion that I’d be a lot more attractive if I kept my mouth shut. Now whether they’re looking at me like a dutiful house frau who should get back to washing dishes or I’m actually not interesting at all and should go sit pretty in a corner.  
            It’s always better to let someone else say the stupid thing first.
            Don’t be the one with the foot in the mouth.
            Here’s a short list of topics better left unbreached on any kind of date:

            THE EX
            Don’t do it. Please. Whatever you do, it does not matter if the topic of conversation points in all directions to talking about what an believable bastard he was or how the last girl you loved cheated on you with another bartender, the moment you bring up the last person you had sex with to a new person is a date-killer.
            Nothing makes a person’s nose wrinkle in disgust than hearing how this other person fucked up. And, knowing that maybe one day they’ll be sitting with the one after you telling that new person all of your flaws on the first date.
            And certainly don’t speak well of any of the past lovers. You say one thing about how Frank was a great lover, that name will burn into the mind of your new beau for eternity as someone he has to compete with. If he says his mother loved Mary and you see that fondness in his eyes, you will construct this perfect Mary in your mind, a ghost you must fight forever.
            The past is dead. Leave it the dirt.

            I’m going to tell you a secret.
            Everybody has a fucked up childhood.
            It’s true.
            This is something that took me a long time to figure out. Because essentially people are flawed, then no matter what, your parents fucked up. That’s right. And that’s only because their parents fucked up. And their parents fucked up before that (who can blame them, it was the Depression after all). Nobody’s perfect in this game of life, and chances are, as the recipient of being the kid, you’ve inherited some issues, past down from long ago. It’s like an echo of problems bouncing from generation to generation. The thing is that no one really cares about how you grew up, and when you talk about it you just come off like someone in need of therapy, and that’s the wrong kind of head work.
            Don’t talk about it. Everybody had it bad in some way or another.   
            Say nothing about your parents, your youth, or the creepy people at the YMCA summer camp.


            Especially at the beginning. Don’t make any sexual references. To anything. This goes out to the guys out there. Just pretend you’re a Castrati and you’re only interests are independent films, the de Kooning exhibit at the MOMA, and the fabulous French dishes over at Flea Market on Avenue A. Even the slight mention of sexuality will put the lady off. She already knows what you’re about, especially if she’s ever hung out with a man before. They know the score. They want to know more about who the fuck you are and what you do, as opposed to your slight BDSM leanings and penchant for pornography.
            And this can be bad for women as well. I’ve actually been on dates where a woman has said things like: “Well, normally I don’t wait too long to fuck someone, it really depends.” Right away, I was put off. Stay away from key words like fuck, bang, or smash. These put off a fellah a bit, and sort of ring a little too close to that whore variant, which is great in theory, but gets a little disgusting when you learn just why she's great in bed. Practice makes perfect. Ha. Ha.  

            We all want to believe that the person we’re digging at the moment doesn’t have a past, hasn’t slept with an ‘estimated’ 80 lovers, comes from a shitty childhood, or has issues that will eventually be turned back on us.
            Of course, this is all a myth, everybody has a past, and a sordid one at that. But for some reason we really want them to be a purer person than they are. That’s why there’s relationships, so we can slowly take in the poison of the truth and build a tolerance to some of those less than romantic facts about the other person. Think about long-time married people and all of the horrid things they have learned about each other over the years.  
            But in dating, it’s about the beautiful lie. So instead of having to eat a crow each time, keep your mouth shut and smile.
            And could someone call a 12 step program for my buddy Wyatt, please?

            Till next time.   





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