~ADVICE GODDESS~

Doodie calls

Your advice for the 25-year-old woman who didn\’t want to get involved with a guy with a daughter was disgustingly shallow. In supporting her not wanting to date single dads you\’re saying, yes, segregate single parents, remove them from the dating pool! Yes, how dare they try to pass themselves off as people first, not as potentially inadequate mates due to being broke, having the psycho ex, and the bedwetting child?! Here\’s advice for you: Compassion. It\’s developed by seeing and sharing life. Try getting out of the shallow end of the humanity pool and seeing the wider world of relationships!

— Single Dad

Tragically, it seems you\’ve lost your all-access pass to the dating pool.

Unlike when you were in nursery school, and teachers aides saw that every kid got the exact same allotment of Jelly Bellys, advice columnists are not standing outside bars making sure everybody leaves with a smiley sticker and a hot 25-year-old. Grownup life is harsh. Actions have consequences. Sorry to bring down the giant fly swatter on your free-floating sense of entitlement, but you gave up your Romeo status the day you let Tommy Trouser Snake out to play without his raincoat.

Parents aren\’t people first. They\’re parents first. Here in \”the shallow end of the humanity pool,\” this means the parental agenda precedes all other agendas, as it should. In other words, you\’re a wee bit more likely than the single, 25-year-old stud boy to have your date interrupted by a frantic call from the neighbors: \”Little Sprogly\’s shot the babysitter with the staple gun!\”

Now, unless your ex died or ran off with the UPS man, or you worked a deal for some neighbor lady to be the oven for your bun, chances are you\’re not just a single dad, but a divorced dad. There is this notion of \”the good divorce,\” but is there really such a thing? There are better divorces and worse divorces, and there are couples who aren\’t doing their kids any favors by staying together and continuing to chase each other around with an ax.

But, let\’s be real, even if you aren\’t alimony-bled, with a psycho ex-wife and a 15-year-old who\’s suddenly wetting the bed, divorce doesn\’t exactly simplify a guy\’s life or leave a trail of rose petals and cupcakes in its wake. The girl in question, who admitted she wasn\’t ready to handle a guy with a kid, could have a boyfriend whose only real distraction is getting his motorcycle rechromed. Or she could have you. So … if you were her, which would you choose? Assuming you\’re looking for a boyfriend, not looking to become a one-woman chapter of the Salvation Army.

Oops … I forgot to ask if I could take your coat and your crown of thorns. And, please see that your stigmata don\’t drip on my white carpet. Next order of business: putting a tracker on my compassion. Actually, no need. I believe I left it in the kiddie pool with all the children of divorce. The last thing they need is for me to goad a girl who isn\’t ready to take on kids into taking them on anyway. Sorry if I\’m just too shallow to see it your way: Why urge some child-averse woman to bail now when she can bail a year from now, after your kid\’s really attached to her? On the bright side, what kids can\’t get in stability, they tend to take out in guilt, which may mean, before long, your kid\’ll not only be the proud owner of a miniature Shetland pony, it\’ll be living in her bedroom: \”Daddddeeeeeey, Rambler missed the potty again!\”

Altitude adjustment

I\’m having a hard time finding a boyfriend, and my friends say it\’s because I\’m too picky. I\’m very tall and really only attracted to tall guys (6\’2\” and up). How can I, as my friends suggest, be \”more open-minded\” on the height issue?

— Statuesque

People are quick to tell you \”It\’s what\’s inside that counts.\” Well, it counts for a lot, just not enough if you don\’t want to get naked with what\’s on the outside. Sure, relationships take compromise — asking a guy to wait till you\’re at work to rehearse his death metal ukulele, requesting he clip his toenails into the wastebasket instead of the ficus tree. But, it\’s not like you can ask him to stop being 5\’2\”. Much as short guys scream, yell, and pound their tiny fists at the injustice of height queens, what guy wants a girlfriend who\’s with him because her friends say it\’s the \”open-minded\” thing to do? Tell your well-meaning but misguided compadres it isn\’t the size of the man … unless the size of the man has you answering the question \”So, how did you two lovebirds meet?\” with \”Well, one day I lowered my standards and there he was!\”

~ADVICE GODDESS~

Give fleece a chance

As a single male, I find something extremely repulsive. More and more, women are making as much or more money than men. Yet, on dates, when the check comes, these career women conveniently disappear to the bathroom. I smell a scam. I\’m sick of this ugly \”What\’s mine is mine/what\’s yours is mine\” mentality. So, a little philosophical consistency here, or else I give up.

— More Than A Wallet

There will be plenty of time after you\’re married to drain her bank account and move to the Bahamas.

Life isn\’t fair, Bucky. Deal with it. Or, if you\’d rather, bow out of the dating game, and spend your nights on men\’s movement blogs posting rambling screeds about the \”feminazis\” and this new set of filet mignon mercenaries. Sure, men and women are now equal under the law, but that

hasn\’t made them the same biologically. Because women are the ones who get knocked up and stuck with mouths to feed, they evolved to seek \”providers\” — guys who show signs they\’ll stick around to fork over gifts and grub after the fun is done. Modern women are still getting this directive from their genes — even staunch feminists, chicks with six-figure incomes, and women who think of themselves as \”Barren!\” In short, there are about 1.8 million years of evolutionary hard-wiring standing between you and any clever notions that you\’ll wax your legs and Nair your mustache if she\’ll just pick up the tab.

We aren\’t the only species that goes on dinner dates. Anthropologist Helen Fisher calls gifts of food one of the \”universal features of wooing\” — and guess who\’s almost always responsible for the check? Fisher writes in Anatomy of Love that the boy black-tipped hang fly plies his crush with aphids, daddy longlegs or houseflies. (Hard to say which wine goes best.)

\”The male common tern often brings a little fish to his beloved,” She writes. “The male roadrunner presents a little lizard.\” And then, of course, there\’s the ultimate courtship gift, the male praying mantis letting the female praying mantis eat his head during sex. 

You don\’t have to go that far, but you could maybe buy a girl a glass or two of wine without making out like you\’ve fallen victim to one of the greater injustices of our time: \”I have a dream … that one day men and women will go halfsies on dinner … \” Actually, a glass or two of something-or-other, not dinner, is all you should be buying on the first date. You don\’t shell out big for a near-stranger. The point is getting to know a girl, not getting to know whether she prefers Kobe beef to lobster. And yes, the person who does the asking out — usually the man, poor dear — should do the paying. On at least the first and probably the second date. Beyond then, if a woman\’s wallet seems welded shut, have a little talk and suss out whether she worries you\’ll think ill of her for paying (some men do), or whether she\’s just a leech with lipgloss.

Look, either you\’re setting the stage for seduction or you\’re spearheading the investigation of the global conspiracy to make men pay for dinner. You have a decision to make: Accept that dating costs money, and consider it an investment toward finding love, or follow through on your threat to \”give up.\” Who\’s that gonna spite? All the women who are denied your company? Don\’t worry about them. They\’ll be out with guys who not only buy dinner, but sometimes even precede it by bringing flowers. And no, the little card tucked in there isn\’t an invoice.

Haul of me

I\’m a woman living in a remote area where most of the men have about six teeth. This great guy just moved here, and we\’re going for coffee. The thing is, I\’m a truck driver. Most men can\’t seem to handle this, but I really don\’t want to lie. How do I break it to a guy without chasing him off?

— Semi-Worried

Sooner or later, he\’s going to see your big rig parked out front. What are you gonna say, \”Oh, my Prius is in the shop, so they gave me this — and asked me to haul 10,000 chickens to Pacoima\”? You\’re a girl who drives a really big truck. Some guys will be hot for that, but a guy who can\’t handle your truck driving on the first date isn\’t likely to handle discovering you\’re a truck driver and a liar on the second or third. Forget that your town\’s men have a mouthful of teeth between them. Your job on dates is simply to be you — thus weeding out any guy who isn\’t man enough to be with a woman who not only wears mascara but delivers it by the ton to Wal-Mart.

~ADVICE GODDESS~

Look before you sleep

I\’m a stay-at-home mother of two young kids. Come Saturday, I want nothing more than to fade into the back bedroom with a 2-liter of Pepsi and the remote … leaving my saint of a husband to handle requests for food, more food, different food, a checkers partner, a Lego partner, and someone to read \”Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb\” for the 40th time since breakfast. My husband\’s 14 hours of kid-wrangling pale in comparison to my 70, and although he gives me no grief (saintly, remember?), I feel guilty for wanting alone-time so badly and taking it on his only off days.

— Tapped Out

The parental \”no\” has officially joined the ranks of chronically missing items like The Holy Grail, Atlantis and Britney Spears\’ underpants.

You\’re supposed to be your kids\’ mom, not their full-time birthday clown. This means meeting their needs, as opposed to falling prey to their ransom demands; i.e., \”Send in the chopper and the cupcakes or I\’ll scream my lungs out until spring!\” If you\’re keeling over from reading \”Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb\” 40 times, it\’s because you didn\’t say no 39 times. \”No\” is also the correct response when besieged with requests for a chunky peanut butter sandwich with all the chunkies removed. But, children can be such finicky eaters! Correction: American children can be such finicky eaters, because their parents tend to confuse parenting with working room service at a five-star hotel. In France, on the other hand, the kids\’ meal is whatever the parents are eating; brains, livers, kidneys and all. And while the kids can pick out bits they don\’t like, their choice is clear: eat or starve.

Saying no to your kids will not turn them into meth-smoking, liquor store-robbing carjackers. Actually, throwing up a few boundaries might even serve to prevent this — and less dire but extremely annoying outcomes (just what society needs, another 35-year-old snot who was denied nothing during childhood). Kids need to feel loved and secure — and that doesn\’t take hours of mommy-and-me Lego. In fact, psychologist Judith Rich Harris writes that \”anthropological data suggest … there may be something a little unnatural about adults playing with children.\” Anthropologist David F. Lancy notes that, beyond Western society, one \”rarely\” sees it. Regarding this apparent lack of a parental instinct for parent-child play, Harris writes, \”This implies that children do not require play with an adult in order to develop normally.\”

I know, I know, that\’s not what The Cult Of The Child tells you — when its proponents aren\’t too busy checking Amazon to see whether anybody\’s published \”The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Children.\” The reality is, your family is better served by a stay-at-home mother than a stay-at-home martyr. Take the advice of the late British pediatrician Donald Winnicott, and avoid trying to be the perfect mother — micromanaging your little darlings\’ every move (\”Harvard or bust!\”) — and just be a \”good enough mother.\” Your kids can entertain themselves — and will, if you suggest they do. Likewise, forget going for the Good Housekeeping Seal and just resolve to keep the health department from sealing up your house. Your kitchen counters don\’t need to be operating-room sterile. Just see to it that nothing walks across your lasagna.

You\’re probably not the only mom on your block who lives for the moment she can go catatonic in front of the television. I think we care for children all wrong in this country — in nuclear families instead of in a more efficient, tribal way where there isn\’t so much weight on the stay-at-home parent. My suggestion: Five families with kids band together in a child-care collective, with one parent (and maybe one consistent nanny) staying home with all the kids each day. Kids will be socialized together, and parents will find that having children feels a little less like a punishment for having sex.

Sex? Surely you remember sex. (Presumably, your children weren\’t dropped off on your porch by a giant cartoon stork.) From the sound of your schedule, if you fantasize about anything these days, it\’s sleep, sleep, more sleep, and maybe a half-hour to read a book about somebody who isn\’t four-legged and purple. Yeah, you need alone-time, as does your husband, and, of course, family time, but you two are also in dire need of regular date nights. And not just for your benefit, but for that of your kids. Marriages tend to last longer when one or both partners\’ preferred bed position isn\’t snoring into a pillow. Get any elements of aspiring supermom in you under control, try my commie child-care suggestion, and pick up a copy of Esther Perel\’s Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic + the Domestic. Eventually, when you find yourself really looking forward to getting in bed, it shouldn\’t be with a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi.

~ADVICE GODDESS~

The incredible sulk

I\\\’m not the biggest horse in the barn, but my wife of 35 years has always said I\\\’m perfect, she\\\’s satisfied with me, and my size doesn\\\’t matter. Recently, a commercial for \\\”male enhancement\\\” pills came on and I said, \\\”Maybe I should try some.\\\” She said, \\\”Bigger is nice, but I like being with you.\\\” This really hurt as I viewed it as a comparison to men she\\\’d dated before me. I\\\’m so angry because I\\\’d never compare her to anyone and feel I\\\’ve been lied to for 35 years. I didn\\\’t speak to her for two days, and when she asked why, I told her. First, she didn\\\’t remember saying anything, then said she didn\\\’t compare me and apologized. I\\\’m still hurt and have no desire to be intimate. I need advice though, because I don\\\’t want this to come between us.

— Still Stunned

So, in a perfect world, the first time you had sex, your wife would\\\’ve announced, \\\”As man-tools go, yours is one of those little eyeglass screwdrivers.\\\” Instead, she pronounced you \\\”perfect\\\” — a cruel lie. Worse yet, she claims she\\\’s satisfied with you, and says your size doesn\\\’t matter. Actually, it seems pretty clear it does, except it isn\\\’t your small penis that\\\’s the problem, but the fact that you\\\’re acting like a really big pinhead.

Your wife tried to be sweet, reassuring you, \\\”Bigger is nice, but I like being with you,\\\” and you\\\’re acting like she\\\’s erected an altar in her head to The Big One, The Really Big One, and Whoa, Don\\\’t Hurt Me With That Thing. How dare she compare you to any other man?! Uh … are you for real? Sorry to bust up your fairytale idea of human nature, but people assess what works for them, in part, by comparison: Bigger, smaller, better, good enough, hasn\\\’t behaved this idiotically in years.

Hey, Doofus! With all those Big Biffys out there, she married you. So, if you\\\’re not exactly big, apparently you\\\’re big enough. And, a little something else to consider: While most of the sex problems I get are from couples in flannel pajamas and separate beds at the 3.5-year mark, you and your wife are still doing it at year 35. Or, rather, were. Good move, sailor!

Adding to the ridiculousness, Mr. Dinky\\\’s little strike started with a commercial for something that doesn\\\’t even work. Well, that\\\’s not entirely fair. \\\”Male enhancement\\\” pills do increase size — of the bank accounts, number of resort homes, and fleets of yachts of the people selling them. But, as urologist Dr. Irwin Goldstein told Nutrition Action Healthletter, \\\”There\\\’s no pill, prescription or otherwise, that will make a penis longer.\\\” The good news comes from Dr. Eugene Fine, another urologist I interviewed a while back: \\\”Most of the anatomy in a woman that\\\’s responsive to sexual pleasure is right at the front door. Just get in there and ring the bell.\\\”

Probably the most effective \\\”male enhancement\\\” is confidence: thinking of yourself as a MINI Cooper among men — small, but surprisingly powerful, and great on the curves. And then, of course, there\\\’s not acting like a vengeful, passive-aggressive weenie when your wife\\\’s doing her best to let you know you\\\’re loved and wanted. Now, be a big man in the way that counts, and apologize. Be grateful that she knows you don\\\’t measure how much of a man a guy is by sticking a ruler down his tighty-whities, and see if you can\\\’t distract her from what a nitwit you\\\’ve been with a little game of \\\”Hide the salam — \\\” uh, sorry … Slim Jim.

Adventures in babysettling

I was angered by your response to \\\”Not the Mama,\\\” supporting this horrible girl who was put off by dating a single father. She should consider herself lucky she found an involved dad. If she isn\\\’t woman enough for him, send him and his daughter my way. I actually have the capacity to love, understand, appreciate and accept.

— Single Mother Of Three Amazing Children

Stalin. Hitler. Pol Pot. 25-year-old girls who want dates, not play dates. As \\\”horrible\\\” people go, perhaps, in her case, it\\\’s a bit much to start lighting candles and reciting, \\\”First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew …\\\” What I find horrible is your contention that an \\\”involved dad\\\” is some kind of rare animal, like the white rhino. Frankly, this girl wouldn\\\’t even be horrible if she admitted to finding kids merely loud, sticky and expensive. But, she doesn\\\’t hate children; at this point in her dating life, she just favors the unborn kind. Recognizing that is a good thing. As for your capacity to love, understand, appreciate and accept, feel free to extend it to a girl whose idea of childproofing her house happens to be stocking up on Trojans.

~ADVICE GODDESS~

Prints Charming

I’m a 20-something guy with a hobby of taking pictures of myself with female friends. Nobody objected in high school, and collecting memories of girls who were kind to me brought me comfort, since girls rarely talk to me. Now, in the workplace, everything’s complicated. Although some friendly female co-workers agreed to be in my photos, someone complained, and my supervisor said I could be fired for sexual harassment. I was depressed, and lonelier than ever, then I discovered volunteering. I began asking to photograph some of the female volunteers; some, near strangers, but 60 years from now, will I care? The following week, the coordinator said I was making other volunteers uncomfortable. She asked me to delete the photos, but I only pretended to because I’d done nothing wrong — I’m just a normal guy taking photos with female friends. Now she says I can’t bring my camera to future events. How do I continue without getting in trouble?

Misunderstood

“I’m just a normal guy who enjoys collecting fingernail clippings to remember women who’ve been nice to me. Uh … ‘Scuse me, ma’am. I know you don’t know me, but would you mind if I took a swab of your DNA?”

Quit kidding yourself. You aren’t making friends, you’re gathering specimens. You call this a “hobby of taking pictures,” and refer to yourself as “just a normal guy.” Sorry, but “normal” is going home to a wife or girlfriend, not a picture of a girl sitting next to you at a bus stop in college. And I say this as somebody who’s quick to precede “normal” with “boringly,” and who sees “everybody’s doing it” as no reason everybody else should be doing it, too. The problem is, women don’t find your behavior normal, they find it creepy. Sure, maybe they agree to be in the picture, but probably a good many of them picture it as a prelude to ending up in a 55-gallon drum in your garage.

If you like being a loner, fine. Go live with the grizzlies. Otherwise, cut the charade. Alleviating loneliness with pictures of people is like giving a homeless guy a picture of a cheeseburger, and telling him, “I’ll be back later with a picture of an apartment!” Your problem isn’t that you might get rejected but that you absolutely refuse to be. Yes, but what if some girl laughs at you or tells you to bug off? What if? Ball lightning will not rise from the floor tile and reduce you to a pile of ash. Lock up the camera and make yourself talk to 100 people, men and women, and you’ll see. It’s really pretty simple. Express interest. Ask people about themselves, and not just if they’d mind standing a little more to the left.

This little program is sure to start out hard and unfun. But, is being blown off, or the mere prospect of it, really so devastating that it’s less painful to sentence yourself to 60-plus years of creeping over photos of the life you wish you’d had? There are some real dorks out there who have wives, friends and girlfriends (some, all at the same time). The difference between you and them? They had the guts to try to mouth-breathe their way into the girls’ lives. If you’re going to try, you’d better hop to it. Creepy at 23 can be adorably awkward, and is probably fixable. Creepy at 43 is probably permanent, which isn’t to say there’s no hope for friends or girlfriends — providing you aren’t too lazy to inflate them.

Adventures In Babysettling

I’m 25 and was into the guy I was dating — until he told me he had a young daughter. I’ve tried to be accepting, and even bought her presents to show I’m comfortable with this. Truthfully, I’m not, and wasn’t the last time I dated a single dad. Is this weird considering I want kids of my own someday?

Not The Momma

Like dating alone isn’t challenging enough. I know! Let’s add the snake pit and the alligators! Just a warm-up for the vindictive ex-wife and the bedwetting child of divorce. (If only you were out of the way, Mommy and Daddy might get back together.) What fun! Maybe you can have your first date on Dr. Phil. And maybe you’ll have to, because, with Daddy’s alimony payments, the free pre-show snacks might be all the fine dining he can afford. Even if the reality isn’t so bleak, there’s a big difference between wanting a family someday and joining one already in progress. Remember, you’re single, 25, and at the peak of your hotitude. Maybe what you need to accept is that it’s time to be shopping for something black and skimpy to show how much you care, not the Ultimate Fairy Princess Kit to show how much you wish you did.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)

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