Trump Should Walk In Humility

 

Sexual assault is no joke.

(This blog post contains sexually explicit stories – no images.  Reader discretion advised.)

I confess, when I first heard the story of Trump’s “hot mic” comments, my first instinct was to brush it off.  As a man who worked in a UPS warehouse for 3 years, I’m very familiar with “guy talk”.  Nothing was off limits – there was no filter.

“Hey, sorry I’m not keepin’ up!  Yer wife wore me out last night!”

“Hey bitch!”  “Who you callin’ bitch?”  “I know you like it!”

“Hey, do you know what they call ‘rodeo fucking’?”  “No.  What’s that?”  “It’s when you’re about to get with a girl, you reach around and grab her tit with one hand, put the other around the waist, and then whisper in her ear ‘yer the ungliest bitch I ever seen’, then you try to hold on for 8 seconds.”

And God have mercy on our souls for the things we said when a box of pornographic magazines busted open.

I saw the light

But this morning, our priest gave a sermon in part dealing with this topic.  I was worried at first that she was about to get political.  She and I have different political views, and I’m fine with that.  As long as she is a priest, and not a political activist at the pulpit, she’s entitled to her political views and I think no less of her as a priest.

Fortunately, the sermon was only slightly political, and focused instead of the real victims of sexual assault.  She spoke of how this recent news has opened up old wounds to men and women who have been groped, or worse.  I quickly let my guard down and let her words in, and I’m glad I did.  (This is why us sinners need church.  He came not to call the righteous.)

I have a few close female friends in my life, and between them and family, I’ve heard stories of sexual assault, ranging from some jerk in a bar grabbing her in the wrong place repeatedly, to full scale rape.  When I hear numbers like 1 in 5 women have been victims of sexual assault, I am at first skeptical.  But when I think of the women with whom I’ve been close enough that they’d confide in me, I find that number more believable.  Just in my life, it seems half the women I’ve known well have a story like this.

The problem with guy talk

Like my 23 year old self sweating my way through UPS to pay for college, Donald Trump was likely engaged in “guy talk”.  But whether he meant to or not, his words, like the words of so many of us, contribute to rape culture.  Sure, I’d never do that to anyone.  But other people, hearing words like that from people like me, might take it a step further.

It desensitizes us.  When comedians joke about prison rape – “Don’t drop the soap” – it desensitizes us to the roughly 20% of prison inmates who are raped.  When Trump jokes about grabbing women (you know where), it desensitizes us.

I’m glad that Trump apologized for this.  Tonight, as he debates Hillary Clinton, it’s inevitable that this will come up.  Given Clinton’s sorted past, she hardly has the moral high ground.  I’m not merely talking about her husband’s actions, but also her defense of her husband’s actions.  I won’t blame Trump one bit if he counter punches her inevitable attack.  I hope, however, that he will show humility and penitence for his comments 11 years ago.

How Trump should handle this issue tonight

I hope Trump will express genuine compassion for the victims of sexual assault.  If I were advising Trump, I’d recommend that early in, he makes it clear that he is humbled by this experience, and it has forced him to do some deep soul searching.  I’d advise that he then make addressing sexual assault part of his platform.  He’s the “law and order” guy, right?  He should therefore propose increasing efforts to bring rapists and other sexual criminals to justice.

Furthermore (and I hope Ivanka Trump is advising her father of this as I write this), we need to focus on education in order to prevent this from happening in the first place.  I have before scoffed at third wave feminists when they say things like “teach men not to rape”.  I still don’t think that alone is a solution, but I do think it is part of the solution.  Don’t take those words too literally.  Of course, in principle, we know rape is wrong.  But yet we are desensitized to rape and other forms of sexual assault.

Trump should even reach out to Hillary Clinton.  He ended last debate by saying that if she wins, “I’d absolutely support her”.  He should now say that, win or lose, he will work with her, Joe Biden, and anyone else to end the rape culture and bring rapists to justice.  He should then ask if Hillary Clinton would be willing to do the same.  I don’t know if Trump will think to do this.  He may just fall into his old ways and go on the attack.  But I can always hope.

Does self-defense work?  My story

Lastly, I’d like to share a story of my own.  When I was 12 years old, I was a trouble maker.  I was skipping school one day, and hung out with two other boys.  One was about my age, the other was probably 15.  The boys were joking about raping some girl.  I didn’t take them seriously.  But then they started joking about how they should rape me.  I still thought they were joking.  Then one of them grabbed me.  From behind, he wrapped his arms around me.  I struggled, and managed to gain enough wiggle room that I elbowed him in the stomach as hard as I could, and I took off running.

I’m glad I was able to defend myself.  I don’t feel like a victim, I am not traumatized.  I felt, and feel, empowered!  I’d encourage women everywhere to take self-defense courses.  Again, this is not the only solution!  This is only part of the solution.  I know that it won’t always work.  But often it will.  And I’d rather more rapists get elbowed in the stomach, than more people getting raped just because third wave feminists think that the only solution is to “teach men not to rape”.  I don’t think those two boys who attacked me could have been “taught” otherwise.  Maybe I’m wrong.  But there are thousands of them out there, and some are even women by the way.

Solutions, people!

We need to put all solutions on the table and address every form of rape and sexual assault, including but not limited to someone breaking in and raping someone, groping in crowds or parties, frat boys taking advantage of the unconscious girl who had too much to drink, prison rape, child molestation, all of it!  Whoever becomes president, I hope they will show more integrity than the Washington Post, who sees this as nothing more than a political opportunity, and instead takes sexual assault seriously.

Shamy Breakup – Advantage Amy

First, SPOILER ALERT if you’re not up on Big Bang Theory!

Sheldon and Amy seemed a perfect couple when they first met.  They’re both scientists, both severely nerdy, and socially awkward.  However, from early on, Sheldon always had the slight advantage.  Sheldon decided the status of the relationship.  He decided when they were just friends.  He decided when they become “boyfriend/girlfriend”, and he drew up the “relationship agreement”.  While he had the advantage, he did have to consider Amy of course.  After all, Amy drove him to start the official relationship by temporarily dating Stuart (the comic book guy) to make Sheldon jealous.  But even then, Sheldon was calling most of the shots.  Well, the short version of their history is that from time to time, Amy would nearly end it, and Sheldon would give in a little more.

If they both started out socially awkward with nearly identical personality types, why was it Amy who always wanted more, and it was Sheldon who would give in just a little each time?  Both became friends with Penny, and here’s the important part.  Penny is friends with both, seems to care about them both as individuals, but has always been rather neutral about their relationship.  Penny pushed each of them to break out of their shells.  Amy was easier than Sheldon.  It wasn’t long before Amy was going out for drinks with them, dancing, expressing her attraction to other men, such as the loveable but incredibly dumb Zack.  While Amy broke out of her shell, Sheldon only peaked out of his.  Amy then attempted to help him more, but with little success.

In the end, Sheldon was too self-absorbed, and too determined to stay in his comfort zone, and Amy had enough.  And so, Season 8 ended with Amy saying she needed some time to think about them.  Season 9 begins with Sheldon chasing after her, but doing a poor job of it.  It was too little, too late.  Who would have thought that SHELDON, yes, SHELDON, would be chasing after Amy while SHE is the run rejecting HIM?!  This is the same Amy who pretended to be sick just so that Sheldon would take care of her, according to the terms of their “relationship agreement”.  Well now, for once, Amy has the advantage.

I don’t know what will happen with them, but I think they’ll get back together.  I normally embrace the principle “male comrades before women who sell their bodies for money” (AKA “Bros before hoes”).  But in this, I’m on Team Amy.  She’s been wonderful to him, and he doesn’t show her enough appreciation.  I know it’s hard for him to deal with people in general, including Amy, but while they can be forgiving and patient, he needs to meet them, especially Amy, half way.  If they do get back together, Amy will likely have the well-deserved upper hand for a while.  Sheldon will have to come back on her terms this time.  Amy is a cute, nerdy girl with a personality that is just outgoing enough now (thanks to Penny) that she will have other options.  Sheldon?  Unlikely.  He’s beginning to realize just how good he had it.

When we last left off (Season 9, first episode), Sheldon concluded on an angry note.  He’s finally going through what most men go through in their teens.  It needs to happen.  It’s unpleasant, but healthy.  He’ll be angry at women, angry at Amy, but it will pass.  I hope that before they get back together, which I’m sure they will, I hope Amy dates around a little.  She could use the XP, and dating “normal” guys might remind her what is so unique about Sheldon.  For all his faults, he’s certainly one of a kind.

Why some men hate romance

SheldonAndAmyAwkward

I haven’t been a very romantic guy in a long, long time.  I pride myself on how pragmatic I am.  I love my wife truly, and take pride in our relationship.  It’s a very realist relationship.  We look out for each other, we pick on each other, and we talk things through.  Neither of us have our heads floating in the clouds, and I love it that way.  Sometimes I make a romantic gesture for no other reason than I know she loves it!  But for me, I’ve little interest in romance.

A lot of guys are like me, and I think I know why.  For the last 8 years, I’ve been slowly working on a novel that is loosely based on some terrible experiences I had about 8 and a half years ago.  It is not an autobiography, but fiction loosely inspired by real events.  Heartbreak is involved, and seems to be the apex of the story.  I write of a character loosely based on me, named Henry, and a female character based on a girl I used to know, named Annabelle.  When I first started writing this 8 years ago, those feelings were still so very fresh.  Henry, you see, is deeply infatuated with this Annabelle whom he barely knows.  He’s got it bad…really bad!  When I wrote of it 8 years ago, I could still get those warm, fuzzy feelings.  I’d also get the anger at what followed, the most severe heartbreak Henry will ever experience, the kind of loneliness and depression I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

Now, all these years later, happily married and truly free from all of that, I get something very different.  I do not hate the girl who inspired Annabelle, but honestly, the thought of having any romantic feelings for her now just about made me vomit on my keyboard.  I recently remember a mushy, romantic story I wanted to include in this novel.  Here, I’ll copy and paste it for you…

We walked through Kensington Gardens, as I held your hand.  I told you of Peter Pan as we approached his statue, and you were moved.  Your heart was warmed and your cheeks flushed.  I looked into your eyes and you into mine, and I slowly pulled you close.  As our eyes gently closed, my lips began to meet your lips, and our hearts raced.  As we began to kiss more deeply, it began to rain.  We were so deep into each other’s embrace, the rain continued as did we.

I just typed this about 30 minutes ago, and it was painful.  I was not feeling any desire to have Henry walk with Annabelle, or hold her close, much less kiss her.  Ewww, yucky, pitooey!  I felt something in my chest area, but it wasn’t my heart pounding.  It wasn’t butterflies in my stomach.  It was nothing short of disgust.  It’s not just Annabelle, it’s the whole idea of falling “head over heels” in infatuation (so often mistaken for love).  It’s the same reason I hate chick flicks.

I think that many guys who hate romance, hate it because in the past, romance got them seriously hurt.  Guys don’t like being emotionally vulnerable.  There’s no strength in talking about how you were heartbroken.  But there is strength in scoffing at romance.  Part of the reason I so rarely show such romance towards my wife is because I consider what we have to be real, while what Henry has with Annabelle is all just fantasy, based on more fantasy that blended into real life.  When fantasy and real life get too close together, terrible things happen.

So ladies, if you and a man are deeply in love, and he makes too few romantic gestures for your liking, keep this in mind.  He may love you in a way that is very real.  He likely associates romance with something or someone from his past that he does not want to associate with you.  Don’t get me wrong, you deserve some romance.  Just like you do things for him simply because they make him happy, he should do the same for you.  But if it’s only on special occasions and every now and then “just because”, know that he doesn’t love you any less.  I don’t know you or your particular situation.  But what I present here is just a possibility.  The best way to find out, is to just talk to him about it, one to one.

P.S.  I know you like that Sheldon and Amy image!

My politically incorrect experience with an Asian barber

I just wanted to share my amusing conversation with the Asian lady who cut my hair today and the insight it gave me into racial segregation and political correctness.

On another note, here is the link to my published article that I mentioned:

http://sgo.sagepub.com/content/5/1/2158244015575556

I strongly recommend downloading this as a PDF, because the formatting is so much better that way.

Let’s fight pornography with compassion, not piety

RelationshipLove

Porn addiction is harmful to everyone involved.  Porn actors and actresses are physically harmed by the oversized penetration and rapid pace.  They are psychologically harmed by the humiliation, and hollowing out of something that should be very intimate.  Some are driven to suicide, many more are driven to drug addiction.  Viewers are harmed mostly psychologically.  Pornography desensitizes the libido, much like an addictive drug desensitizes the good feeling of dopamine in the brain (the high).  Pornography harms natural relationships by killing that wonderful feeling we get when being intimate with another.  Do you remember your first kiss?  I remember mine.  My face must have been red as a tomato!  I won’t dig any deeper than that, but the butterflies in the stomach, the rush of endorphins you feel your first time – it’s a beautiful thing!  Pornography offers only a hollow equivalent of that, and makes the real thing far more difficult to enjoy.

A well-intended article titled “3 Self Interested Reasons to go Porn Free” attempted to make this case, but relied far too much on piety.  The constant references to “sin” may appeal to Christians like myself, but we’re preaching to the choir.  Yes, I know many Christians are addicted to porn, but let’s not limit our message to them.  Besides, it gives the impression that you’re being preachy, contrary to the title of the article.  Still, the article made some excellent points.  Porn rarely delivers the hoped for thrill, and usually leaves the viewer “fixed”, but unhappy.  Many porn addicts are in denial, and will claim that it does make them happy.  This is all the more reason not to put them on the defensive by calling their behavior “sin”, even if this is true.

My main point here is that there is so much real evidence on our side that we don’t need to be preachy.  We won’t free people from pornography with legal prohibitions, nor will we won’t free them with judgment.  As a Christian, I remember Jesus among the tax collectors and the prostitutes, and it’s clear what He would do.  Let’s meet them where they are.  Instead of piety, let’s try compassion balanced with knowledge.   Let’s show how much we genuinely care for those who are hurting themselves and loved ones (especially spouses) with porn addiction.  Many think it’s victimless.  They often give selectively libertarian retorts such as “if consenting adults…” (and you know the rest).  So instead of judging them, let’s persuade.  ASAPScience has done an excellent short video on the Science of Porn Addiction.  ASAPScience is not a church group.  It’s not a conservative special interest.  ASAPScience relies on solid science to give short, entertaining, and very informative lessons.  As they show in the video regarding porn, the science is on our side.  Deep down, porn addicts know they have a problem.  They need to know how much happier their lives will be when they break their addiction, and learn to love real people again.

PS I love the reference to James Hetfield in the article.  Here is the link to that video.

Making Baseball Interesting Again

MarlinHitter

Baseball is a most unfortunate waste of a good game.  Nowhere in the world will you find a sport so detailed, with so much potential for action without violence.  Yet the game has become incredibly boring, and that is largely because it is so defensive.  Pitchers usually strike out the batter, or the batter hits a fly ball that is caught, putting him out.  When a good batter comes up, the pitcher just walks him, for fear of a home run.

Major League Baseball is considering some rules changes to make the game more exciting, primarily a pitcher clock.  The pitcher will have a 20 second time limit for each pitch, and be penalized if he lets it run out.  This is a good change that will at least move the game along, but it doesn’t go far enough.  I have a much better suggestion, as follows:

Optional Walking.  The batter, if pitched 4 “balls”, should be able to decline the option to walk.  Strikes still count, but on the 4th ball, the batter may decline to walk and force the pitcher to pitch again.  With each continuing ball, the batter may continue to decline.  However, as the strikes still count, the batter would risk being struck out.

That is my proposal.  That way, when you see batter after batter struck out, and finally that awesome batter steps up to the plate, the pitcher will no longer be able to pitch four way off plate just to get that batter on first base, and go back to striking out.  Remember, it only takes 3 outs to change back to offense.  And with 3 plates, a pitcher can walk 3 good batters in a row, still not allowing a run.  If the next batter isn’t great, he will most likely either be struck out, tagged out, or hit a fly that will be caught, putting him out.  I think this change will allow more runs and make the game somewhat more offensive.  Good batters will no longer be a single base walk, but will actually have their fair chance to hit that home run.

What do you all think?

Bring back Bossy

#banbossy

Do you remember the whole #banbossy movement?  It was a mostly feminist effort to ban, or socially ostracize the word “bossy” because they decided that it was used to discourage assertive women who sought leadership roles.  They seemed to think that only strong women are called “bossy”, while strong men are respected for their leadership skills.

Some time back, I had a boss, an older lady about 5 feet tall, probably around 60 years old, blonde hair, and a deep raspy voice from years of smoking.  She was a strong woman who anyone with any sense knew not to mess with.  She’s also about the nicest boss I’ve ever worked for!  Anytime she wanted me to do something, she never told me.  She asked.  She’d always call it a “favor”, even though it was really me just doing my job.  She’d always say please and thank you.  Whenever someone did an exceptional job, she always showered them with verbal appreciation.  Result?  Everyone loved her, everyone respected her, and stuff got done.

I also remember a young female supervisor from my UPS days, also blonde, also about 5 feet tall.  I grew to like her later on, but at first, she was bossy.  She shouted orders, repeated them even more angrily if you didn’t hear her (it was a very noisy warehouse environment).  She’d instruct me to do one task, and then catch me in mid task and order me to change.  I’m a completest by nature, and hate leaving something unfinished.  It’s as painful to me as holding my breath, and finishing the task is like suddenly breathing again.  Well, she was actually a smart, and very driven lady, but she really needed to change her attitude.  Over the years, she did!  My last impression of her is of her very effectively running a safe and efficient sort aisle.  She still had a stern nature, but had learned to be more consistent with instructions, and explained to her employees why things were being done a certain way, rather than just ranting orders.

I myself, many months ago, was trying to be more leader-like at a job.  I started seeing myself as the glue that held that place together, in part because I was training most new hires.  I came up with some of my own ideas to make things run better, and made the changes without consulting anyone.  My coworkers went along with it, and I’ve seen recently that my changes are still in effect.  When I needed something done, I didn’t ask, I told, especially when things were hectic.  I didn’t mean to be a prick, but I was.  Finally, a much older coworker, a veteran that I respect, pulled me aside and gave me some straight talk.  He told me flat out “You’re not the boss around here”.  It wasn’t pleasant, but I knew he was right.  Did I play victim?  Did I act like he was trying to discourage me?  Did I try to #banbossy?  No.  I apologized to him, because I knew he was right.  It was no fun being told that I was “bossy”, but I’m so glad that he told me (Oh, and I’m a man by the way).  I’ve since learned that no matter how logical my ideas are, you don’t manage people effectively just by being right.  If bossy men or women want to be treated with respect, they need to be respectful.  I’ve now learned that if I ask people nicely, and then say thank you, I get far better results.

Let’s bring “bossy” back.  I don’t mean bossiness, I mean the word “bossy”.  If someone is being bossy, have a talk with them one on one.  Don’t do it in front of coworkers, it’s embarrassing and disrespectful.  Do it in private.  That shows that even though you’re having an unpleasant discussion, you’re doing it not to hurt them, but to improve a situation.  If any women have been manipulated by the #banbossy video or movement, I ask that you instead take “bossy” as constructive criticism.  You’re not being called “bossy” because you’re a woman.  It’s because you need to improve you’re PR.  I know it’s easy to get so focused on the job itself that you just want things to get done, but your coworkers are human beings, not computers, and will go the extra mile for you if your make them feel good about working for you.  The small effort of a few kind words will pay you back tenfold in efforts towards the task at hand.  Just try it!

Interesting link(s):

Ana Kasperian and guests give a solid criticism of the #banbossy campaign

Just say “Merry Christmas” – It’s OK

Merry Christmas

The “war on Christmas” is not being waged by Jews, Muslims, the government, or even atheists or the political left.  I’ve never met a Jewish person who had a problem saying “Merry Christmas”.  I’m happy to wish them a “Happy Hanukah”.  My Islamic friends back in London got me a Christmas card and a gift.  Most atheists I’ve met celebrate a secular version of Christmas, and just see it as a day off from work and a time to have fun.  I occasionally hear rumors that the government is making it illegal to say “Merry Christmas” in a public place, but I have yet to see any evidence of this.  Christmas is actually a Federal Holiday, so clearly they aren’t the culprit.  As for the political left, as much as they loathe the open expression of religion, I have yet to hear of moveon.org, or even the radical feminists denouncing Christmas.  So let’s ask ourselves, this sudden discomfort we have saying “Merry Christmas” – this sudden reaction by cultural warriors (myself included) to the “war on Christmas” – who is causing this?  Well, where do you hear the more secularized “Happy Holidays” most frequently?  Do you hear it from President Obama, or former President Bush?  Do you hear it from your friends of other faiths?  Coworkers?  Maybe the coworkers…maybe.  But you usually hear it either on TV, or at retail stores.  On TV, you hear it on commercials, or the news.

That means corporations are the culprit!  Massive retail stores who have spent decades, if not centuries turning a sacred time a year into a cheap expression of materialism and instant gratification, who now go out of their way to make their employees work on Thanksgiving Day (because Black Friday just wasn’t enough for their greedy hands) – these massive retail stores want their employees to say “Happy Holidays” because THEY fear that people of other faiths will be offended.  Besides, they want Jews, Muslims, Hindus, whoever to also buy their junk.  I feel sorry for the employees, often forced to work on Thanksgiving Day now, and pushed into saying “Happy Holidays” knowing that someone like me might get offended at the watering down of our celebration of the birth of Christ.  It’s gotten worse.  Due to our most justified reaction, this year I’ve noticed that retailers nervously just say “have a nice day”.  If they say “Merry Christmas”, they fear they might offend religious minorities.  If they say “Happy Holidays”, they fear they might offend us devoted Christians.

So here is my advice.  To retailers, unless your company forbids you from saying “Merry Christmas”, just say “Merry Christmas”.  It’s OK.  Religious minorities are not going to be offended that in a predominantly Christian country, where Christmas is a Federal holiday, people are wishing each other “Merry Christmas”.  If I went to Israel, I would not at all be surprised to hear people wishing each other “Happy Hanukah” and I would happily join in.  To the rest of us, just calmly wish our friends in the retail sector a “Merry Christmas”.  Don’t say it with politically righteous indignation.  Say it calmly and naturally.  We won’t win this culture war by fanning the flames, and causing a previously benign element of religious minorities to feel under attack.  They aren’t the enemy.  The corporations are the culprit.  They may be able to control what their employees say, but they can’t control us.  And I’m sure that if you wish the retailer a “Merry Christmas”, they will sigh in relief and probably say it back.  If I were in Israel, and witnessing a culture war by corporations against Hanukah, I would eagerly wish all my Jewish friends a “Happy Hanukah” not only as a warm wish, but in solidarity with them to protect their sacred holidays.  To my friends of other faiths, remember, this doesn’t just affect Christians and our Christmas holiday.  We live in an increasingly globalized economy, and if corporations can do it here in America, it won’t be long before they’re doing it everywhere.  So let us stand in solidarity against the greed of these multinational corporations.  Remember that the retail employee is just earning a paycheck, and they more than anyone deserve a warm, calm wish for a “Merry Christmas”.

The first minute is an example of an atheist who has no problem saying “Merry Christmas” and getting into the spirit (Stefan Molyneux, one of my favorite atheists, and libertarian)

PS. A link to my favorite Christmas song (You won’t see this one coming)

Small Talk – Top 5 Most Annoying Workplace Cliches

SmallTalk

You don’t actually want to know how I’m doing, and I don’t actually want to know the details of your life as you’re passing by.  It doesn’t mean I don’t like you, or don’t care about you.  It’s just that we can’t have a serious conversation in the next two minutes, and I don’t care to spend two minutes reciting meaningless pleasantries.  All we’re really saying to each other is, “I acknowledge your existence” and “I acknowledge your existence, too”.

So, without further ado, here is my top five list of annoying workplace conversational clichés, in descending order from least to most annoying.

5.  “Working hard, or hardly working?” This was a little funny the first time I heard it, 20 years ago!  Now it’s just dumb.

4.  “Thank goodness it’s Friday!” For one thing, not everyone is lucky enough to have a Mon – Fri schedule these days.  Besides, is work really so bad that you count the minutes until it’s over?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t do jobs that I hate.  Don’t get me wrong, I like time off, but I don’t get any pleasure by pretending that every waking moment of work is utter agony and that going home will be like getting out of prison after a 20 year sentence.

3.  “Don’t work too hard.” If I have a lot to do, I’ll probably work harder.  If not, I won’t work so hard.  But these 4 words have been repeated for so many decades now that they’ve lost all meaning.  I think they were intended to be a joke towards someone who has an easy job.

2.  “How was your weekend?” Unless you actually want to sit down and talk about our weekends, don’t ask.  I have no interest in saying “it was fine,” and then asking you the same question just so that you can give a similar response.  I once had an interesting coworker who told me of his weekends fishing, camping, or ghost hunting.  Now that, I’ll gladly ask about.

  1.  You – “How’s it going?” Me – “Fine”  You – “Well, I’m glad that you’re fine”.  When people ask how I’m doing, I just say “fine” and leave it at that.  I’m not going to follow that with “And how are you doing?” just to hear you also say “fine”.  It’s not to be inconsiderate, but let’s be honest, you didn’t actually care how I was doing either did you?

Have any of you reading this ever tried to actually tell someone how you’re doing when they ask?  You’ll likely find they quickly exit the conversation, as they had little interest to begin with.  So I for one see no reason we can’t just say, “good morning” and “good morning”, and leave it at that.  I once worked in a building with a man who didn’t even do that.  He just nodded.  When I was trained, my coworkers told me “Oh he’s a nice man, he just isn’t much for small talk”.  For them, his morning head nod was awkward, but for me, it was a breath of fresh air.  Is there a more efficient way to acknowledge someone’s existence than with a simple head nod?  Working with him was far more pleasant than working with most people, who mean well, but really just wear my patience with superficial small talk.

Interesting Links for further thought:

Interesting article on small talk as it relates to happiness

As annoying as is small talk, this article makes a case for why it is important

An amusing blog post by someone who fears succumbing to work place small talk

Leonard and Penny – Believable?

Penny and Leonard image

Be honest!  If you saw a couple like Big Bang Theory’s Leonard and Penny walking down the street, you’d probably think poor Leonard was in the “friend-zone”.  Either that, or he has a lot of money.  Penny is very much the quintessential “hot blonde”, from her blonde hair and blue eyes, to her breasts that “defy gravity” (according to the “Amy” character), her legs, her assets.  Leonard is kinda cute in his own nerdy way, but he’s short, he’s no Brad Pitt, he wears glasses, and is too much of a nice guy.  Guys like Leonard are usually “just friends” with girls like Penny.  Yet, as Big Bang Theory enters its 8th Season, there they are together again…and engaged!

My first instinct is to say, “only on TV”.  However, I’m a big fan of the show and have paid close attention to these two since the beginning.  A younger, naïve Penny likely would have seen Leonard as a sweet guy who could be a good “friend”.  Many girls with Penny’s looks and insecurity would happily string poor Leonard along to give themselves an ego boost between dating, as Penny calls them, “dumb guys from the gym”.  Penny has certainly been around, as the Big Bang series began with Penny heartbroken from dating a big jerk with huge muscles and a bad attitude.  As the series continues, we learn more about Penny’s promiscuous past.  However, from day 1, she was always warm, open minded, but deeply flawed.  Some fans of the show claim that Penny only uses Leonard when she’s depressed, insecure, or just wants a man and has nobody else available.  Genuine friends do lean on each other when they’re depressed or insecure.  There was also one particular episode when Penny was drunk and attempted to have a one-night stand with Leonard.  However, she turned down Zack (a rather handsome “dumb guy from the gym” type) to be with Leonard that night.  While it certainly wasn’t Penny’s finest moment, I think it shows that deep down, her feelings for Leonard were developing.

Consider also how Penny has gone out of her way to make Leonard happy.  She threw him his first birthday party late in the first season, because he never had them growing up.  Despite her financial woes, she bought him several thoughtful gifts that she herself had no interest in, such as a vintage Star Trek transporter toy.  Furthermore, during those periods when they weren’t dating, Penny often gave Leonard helpful advice with women.  Lastly on this point, she cried when Leonard left for his trip to the Arctic Circle.  Penny may be insecure, reckless, and yes, willing to turn to Leonard to bail her out of bad situations she’s put herself into; but she’s also kind, considerate, and loyal as a friend.  Women as attractive as Penny are often shallow and stuck up – but not Penny.  She sees beneath the surface.

I think that after that four year relationship that Penny was in before the series began, she grew as a person.  The continued bad experiences with that ex-boyfriend matured her to the point where she would finally consider a sweet guy like Leonard.  She finds him cute, and definitely cares about him.  Does she have a strong, bestial attraction to him?  Nope!  And why is that necessary?  I know this is just a TV show, but while Penny and Leonard’s relationship is unusual, I do find it believable.  Rare, but believable.  Penny may not be a science genius like Leonard or Sheldon, but she has street smarts.  Her street smarts led her to a wise decision to invest her love in Leonard, and I look forward to seeing it continue.  As for Leonard, his biggest flaw with Penny has always been his – to put it bluntly – his spinelessness.  Once when they were on a weird, “friendship” “not really a date” type…whatever it was, Leonard started being more assertive and Penny liked that.  I think Penny wants Leonard to be more assertive, in part because she cares about him, but also because she’s a woman, and women are attracted to that.  It’s just human nature.  So, in conclusion, if Leonard is assertive, makes Penny happy but doesn’t bend over backwards trying to appease her, I think they both will have a bright future indeed.  Well, the new season starts tonight, and I can’t wait!