Advice: Her Cheatin’ Heart

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I have a friend named “Mary”. Mary and I have known each other for ten years now; we met as freshmen in college and have seen each other through a lot of things.

In my case, I have mostly seen her through breakups. And new hookups. And breakups again.

Mary is not one to be single for very long, and every time she starts a new relationship it’s with the most fabulous guy she’s ever met. Of course, she’s sure that this time around, she’s finally met The One, at long last. At least, that’s how it is for the first month, and then she starts having random hookups.

It’s never cheating. It’s just exploring. She says she’s getting this wild stuff out of her system before she settles down. Or sometimes, “something” just happens with a friend while they’re hanging out and she said she couldn’t help it. But it’s not cheating, ever, as far as she’s concerned. It makes me feel really bad for the men in her life when she tells me about her latest rando. And somehow, the boyfriends are seemingly oblivious, so I end up feeling even worse, because they’re being played.

Recently, Mary has gotten engaged, again, and she’s asked me to be her maid of honor. Again. As a person, I feel like I can be friends with her because she’s never done anything to me. Still. I do feel kind of like a dirty accomplice, and I’m a little put off at the thought of standing at her side on her wedding day, knowing what I know. She swears that once he’s put a ring on it she’ll be faithful to her future husband, but I don’t really think I believe her. What should I do? Should I tell her fiancé what’s going on? Do I cut and run out on a ten-year friendship? Or do I keep quiet and accept her at her word, that she’ll cut the cheating out when she’s finally a Mrs.?

Signed,

I See It, But I Don’t Like It

Dear Don’t Like It,

BnP: Well. Wow. It’s hard to know where to start on this one. But we’re going to start with… Yeahhhhh…we don’t like it either.

P: There’s the cheating. There’s the lying. There’s the demanding you be an accessory. There’s the whole “I’m just a girl who can’t say no,” or is it “the devil made me do it.” And then there’s the what in tarnation kinda friend is this?

I might start with the lying and asking you to lie. Which she does, every time she introduces you to a new BF and then proceeds to cheat on him and tells you and expects you to “wink, wink, nudge, nudge.”

Why would you choose that option? How is she your friend? Granted, your letter’s all about her cheating, but I don’t see one way you’re anything more than an accessory, or maybe a walking dispenser of absolution. Check your resume to see if the title “Mother Confessor” has been slipped in on your job description. Once she involves you, you start lying to the boyfriend. Granted she was your friend first, but if you like them at all, you’re helping her hurt him. And them. You’re lying too. Is that what you want?

B: I can’t help but feel that she’s coming to you to be absolved. Like, if you nod and metaphorically pat her on the head and tell her it’s OK, then it’s…you know. OK. Is that what you want to say? Is that the message you want to send? I agree with Ann, even though you’ve not said a word what you’re doing is lying right alongside Mary. Inaction is an action, people.

P: Now, for the cheating thing. Actually, none of us are perfect. Too many of us have done things of which we’re ashamed, especially when we were younger. We don’t know what we want. We don’t know how to ask for what we want if we do know. And all too often, we don’t know how to be honest about our misdeeds. These are the lessons we spend our 20s learning. You do lots of silly things early in life that you don’t do later in life because you learn they’re not good for us and they’re not good for people we know and love.

Cheating is one of those things. She’s a serial cheater. I don’t know whether it is an addiction. But I do know she’s not going to stop doing it until she admits that she’s a cheater and gets help figuring out what she’s looking for and why she’s destroying other people’s lives. Because that’s what she’s doing. And ding, ding, ding… if “things just happen” can we trust that she made sure that her surprise partner wrapped that rascal, or is she risking passing some dread disease on to her so called beloved? She’s not just risking giving her partner a broken heart in that case.

B: What I hate about “it just happened” is…well, yes, she’s not admitting to her behavior, but more explicitly, she’s not owning her sexual autonomy. You don’t “whoops” into bed with someone, it’s not like she slips on a banana peel and falls naked onto her paramour du jour. Engaging in sexual activity with another person requires a decision-making process, and unless she’s being forced into bed (which is another, far more dire letter) then she is an integral part of that process. She CAN keep her clothes on and prioritize her relationship with her fiancé. She CHOOSES to cheat on him.

P: I don’t care about her promiscuity. I care that she seems to have the need to do it within what she would call monogamy. Have (safe) sex all you want. But don’t rope some poor suspecting other into your life. People get to say whether they want to be in a threesome. And you are agreeing to hang out and be the voyeur. How’s that feel? Don’t you have better things to do? Do you have a partner? What does she or he think about your tacit approval of your friend’s cheating. It would make me nervous.

B: Yup, I also don’t care about whether or not she’s promiscuous, in that there are all sorts of sexual agreements that couples make that work for them, and they can certainly include other people in their beds. But the key word here is that it’s an agreement, mutually reached by both partners. Everyone has to be on board for an open relationship to work. Her fiancé is anything but. Mary can tell you all of her details, all she wants, and it doesn’t change the fact that she’s not telling the one person she should.

Which isn’t you.

P: We probably haven’t seemed really supportive yet, have we?

I think you need to decide what you think friendship is and what you want it to be. And then you get to be that friend. Being her friend may mean not being in relationship with her — because she’s not a good friend. I don’t want to hear the “she’s a good person.” She’s hurting people. Again and again and again. As the Wedding Priestess, I made my couples state their intentions to love one another for the rest of their lives and then I made their community sign up to love and support the couple and their intentions. I once did a series of three couples’ weddings. By the time Couple Number Three was getting married, Couple Number One was getting unmarried. Couples Two and Three came to me and said, “we went to talk to Couple Number One and asked them what they were doing. We reminded them what they had promised. We pointed out that it made mockery of the promises we had made to them and the promises we were all making to one another.” I was so proud of them. It took great courage. Nothing changed, but they were good friends. And the husband leaned on their love as the wife went on to the new life she’d already created.

But their actions were honest friendship in accordance with what they believed about loving coupledom and loving friendship. What kind of friend do you want to be? And what kind of friend do you think you deserve?

B: I think you need to spend some time deciding who you are. You wrote a letter asking us what steps you should take in managing your relationship with Mary, who exhibits behavior you no longer think is justifiable or can condone. And—I can’t believe how often I have to remind people about this—the only behavior you can ultimately control is your own. So who do you want to be? How do you want your behavior to be perceived? Your reactions help tell your story, and in your letter, in your own words, you say this situation makes you feel like a “dirty accomplice”, you’re “put off” by the idea of being in her wedding, and you “don’t really think you believe” she can be faithful after her wedding day.

Side note: “don’t really think you believe” is a wishy-washy way of calling her a liar. Can we please just say the words?

P: And she wants you to be her Maid of Honor? Um… whose Honor? How can you have honor if you’re not being truthful with the bride or the groom? Marriage isn’t just about having a great wedding. Marriage actually matters. What if she does this once she starts having babies? And let’s be clear, why would we think she wouldn’t keep cheating? Because, trust me, babies add stress to a marriage. And what does she do when there’s stress? Mess around. That’ll be great for the kids. Wanna be the aunt who tells the five-year-old that Mommy found someone better to do? Want to testify at that custody trial? Who better than you?

B: Should you tell her fiancé about her activities? No, I don’t think so. He’s in an unenviable position but it’s not your job to manage their relationship. Or, essentially, tattle on her. But good friends find the courage to have difficult conversations when they’re necessary. Good friends make room to care about the legitimate well-being of a friend. They don’t take the option to look the other way when they know their friend is making serious, potentially dangerous, mistakes. Can this lead to a friend-breakup? Maybe. Mary hasn’t been a good friend to you, as Ann has pointed out already, but you’re not being a good friend to her by holding your nose when her behavior stinks. And you’re not beholden to the acceptance of behavior that at one point you were kind of OK with, but now don’t think is quite so cute or funny. People grow, and change. It’s what we do. She might not like hearing what you have to say, but really…too bad. So again, I ask you: who do you want to be? The dirty accomplice? Or the good friend? It’s up to you.

Hey, Old Pal. Looking a little rough around the edges, there.

Hey, Old Pal. Looking a little rough around the edges, there.

The Old Pal

  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce dry vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce Campari
  • Garnish: lemon twist

Fill a mixing glass 2/3 full with ice. Add whiskey, dry vermouth, and Campari. Stir until well chilled, about 20 seconds, and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink and use as garnish.

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Advice: The World Is Going To The Dogs (And That Ain’t Good)

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I’m not sure what I expect from you, but I feel like I need to get this off my chest. I’m just so taken aback. And angry. Okay, really angry.

I love dogs. I’m a dog owner and have always been a dog owner. Every dog I have ever had was socialized and well trained. Every dog has had up-to-date shots. Wherever you live, these must be the minimum requirements for being a dog owner. Dogs are not status symbols; they’re meant to be companions. But that means you have to be responsible.

In the last two months, I have had two friends on bicycles bitten by dogs, neither of which was contained in their yards. Luckily neither friend was badly hurt, but one had to have rabies shots, which are wildly expensive and painful.

I was with another friend, who was walking her dog very properly, on a leash, in a public park, when another dog, also on a leash but far larger than the elderly couple who owned it could handle, pulled away and savaged my friend’s dog. Their careless son got himself a big muscular dog, then got a job in the city, and foisted Bowser off on his parents. If they’d ever wanted a dog, I can’t imagine Bowser was their first choice. They wound up paying a lot of money in vet bills.

None of these dogs had been trained. And Bowser is just one more dog, completely unsuited to people without a massive amount of upper body strength and the willingness to work very hard to turn him into a family pet.

This deliberate carelessness leads to people who are devastated because their beloved pet has to be euthanized — and who are clueless that it’s their fault. It’s a waste of wonderful animals who could be companions to the right people, but will never be, because people confuse training with abuse. People and pets are injured because these poor animals have not had responsible pet owners. I think not socializing your dog is mistreating that dog.

Fed up with Status Dogs and Lazy Owners

 

Dear Fed Up,

B&P: I’m not sure what more we can say here because I think we’d just be adding our voices to your chorus. But you know, being a chorus for reason isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

B: Dogs can be wonderful. They can be, of course, faithful companions and a surprising amount of help, a source of love and comfort and security. But they are animals with limited reasoning capabilities, and they need to be trained. From day one. By owners that can clearly be in control of the dog; they may be limited in their ability to reason but they know when their owner isn’t actually in charge. Otherwise, they act according to their doggy will, which may be friendly or aggressive or aloof or high-strung or bitey, as their inherent doggy temperaments will accordingly predispose them.

P: While I like dogs, I don’t have them, because I know that I would not be a good dog owner. I’m not interested in taking the time they require to train and the attention they deserve when you bring them into your life. People look at a darling puppy, or even a jaunty senior and think, that dog is going to love me. That works about as well as having a baby when you’re a teenager. They may love you, but they require a lot of hard work to be good companion animals and good neighbors and citizens.

B: What people either fail to recognize or ignore outright—what I think about this depends on the day, sometimes the hour—is that when you take in a pet, you generate a sort of contract with that animal. You’re basically saying to that animal, I’d like you to live in this home. From you, I expect companionship/help/adorable YouTube videos, etc. In exchange, I’m going to do what I can to take care of you, including making sure you are either A) socialized into the society I live in, or B) in a cage/behind a fence if your socialization can’t be properly executed. It’s why you need to keep pet rats in a cage (can you blame the stranger on the street who would hit it with a rock, if it got out?) and also why wild animals like chimps and tigers make bad pets (they can’t be fully domesticated).

P: Much of my job, far more than I ever suspected, revolves around building community. Humans live well in societal groups. We feel secure; we can be more welcoming; life is better when we have a community around us. That means we have to live our lives aware of our neighbors. If we’re going to have pets, they have to be part of that communal society. One person’s right to have a dog is not larger than your neighbors’ rights to be safe. You can have a dog but the dog must be socialized. And most of them are trainable. But you don’t get to have a wild or aggressive animal.

B: What this explicitly does not mean is that you should be so cavalier/uninvolved/negligent/incapable toward a pet that it becomes a public nuisance. The bitey dog that chases bicyclists will only get so many strikes against it from the public health department before the dog warden will show up to take that animal and destroy it. Not through that animal’s fault. Through the owner’s. They’re the ones who violate the contract when they are careless with their pets. It’s kind of the same thing with people who are neglectful toward their kids, and let them run wild.

P: Right, Terri. It’s interesting that neither of us have dogs or children. We’re keeping other contracts. Because we like dogs and children, we didn’t have them — because we were not interested in dedicating the time they would require to grow up to be healthy, loving, contributing members of our families and communities. We enjoy other people’s dogs and children, when they’re enjoyable.  And we’re likely to be fairly clear about our boundaries for acceptable behavior and require it. Because we’re who we are, we often get the behavior we expect. However, it’s not our job to be there because you don’t do your job.

Serendipity being what it is, I just had a conversation with a wedding couple who have a disabled dog. An untrained, un-vaccinated, too big for the owner, large dog tore up this little Pekinese. The Peke lost one eye, was blinded in the other, is now deaf in one ear, and lost a leg. And the Peke’s owner was bitten trying to save his dog. “Hey, dude, he’s a big dog,” is not taking responsibility for the dog’s behavior.

B: Nobody—and I mean nobody—wants to live near the wild kids or the bitey dogs. Conscientious household stewarding involves recognizing the rights of your neighbors to be unmolested or live without constant worry of dog attacks. If you don’t want to tend to the dog and even want it to be bitey, then you’d better make sure you restrain it at all times. Make sure it’s always on a leash that’s being held by someone strong enough to hold it, and build a fence for your yard. Thoughtful dog training makes for better neighborhoods. It’s not funny—it’s divisive, it’s scary, it’s expensive, it can be fatal—for a dog to be allowed to run at will and bite. Dog owners, do you want to be that person? If you’re going to agree to take in an animal, then abide by the unspoken contract, and act in that dog’s best interests. The dog only knows what it’s taught; dog owners, it’s up to you to fill in the rest so the dog can function in our established society.

P: And when you don’t do the work you should have done, societally minded priestess that I am, I expect a couple things to happen. A) I expect you to take full responsibility (that means both an admission that your animal was out of control, acknowledgement that you were lax in training, and provision for financial costs incurred by your animal.). B) I expect you to make a sincere apology for their missteps. C) I expect you to take your dog for training.

B&P: We don’t know that the people we’re talking to will be reading this, but we hope at the very least we can empower more of us to speak up. Don’t let bitey dogs win. Demand training and ask to see the evidence. That makes you, dog owner or no, a good citizen and a good neighbor.

Seriously, dog owners. Don't be THAT guy.

Seriously, dog owners. Don’t be THAT guy.

Salty Dog recipe

1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. grated white grapefruit zest
2 oz. fresh white grapefruit juice
2 oz. gin or vodka
1 (2″-wide) strip grapefruit peel
Combine salt and zest on a small plate. Rub grapefruit peel around rim of a glass; rim glass with salt. Combine grapefruit juice and gin or vodka in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and pour into rimmed glass; garnish with peel.
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Advice: Relationships Should Be Better Than This

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I’ve been involved with a man, “Marc”, for six months now, and I really like him. He’s got a lot of admirable traits that most of us look for in a man. He’s gregarious, he’s honest, and he’s well-mannered and respectful. And, of course, he has baggage.

Marc was married before, but it ended poorly and he’s skittish about relationships. I get it. He’s also got this friendship with another woman that, frankly, I find confusing, and I don’t know if she’s just a friend or a romantic rival. They’ve been friends forever and I don’t mind that. But, he tells me things, particularly that she wants a relationship with him, but he’s not willing to give that to her yet. Honestly…I don’t know if I need Marc to be that honest with me. You know what I mean? He’s also told me that he loves her, and I don’t know if that means love-love, or friend-love. I’m so confused.

The other woman currently lives in another state but is considering relocating. Closer. Like, to our town. Marc says that her moving closer won’t necessarily mean he’ll want to be with her, and whenever he says that my stomach just plummets. Why is this even an option? I’ve been the girlfriend who’s been around, and caring, and am now emotionally involved. She’s just been some figure in the distance. What can I do to make him see that I’m here? Or should I try and protect my heart and walk away?

–Lost in Love

B&P: Oh my dear. No, no, don’t walk. Run away, far and fast.

B: I’m going to take issue right off the bat with this sentence: Marc was married before, but it ended poorly and he’s skittish about relationships. I get it.

No, you don’t. You don’t get it, because you’re not even listening to him. You say he’s honest, and you’re right. You just need to hear what he’s actually saying, and not what you want to hear (or decide to justify, if you don’t like your initial interpretation). He’s basically saying, over and over again, “I don’t want to commit to you.” He says it when he tells you he’s skittish. And he really says it when he says that this other woman moving closer jeopardizes the relationship you’re currently in.

Please note: by “relationship” I mean, you and Marc know each other and have some regular communication, but you also have relationships with your hairdresser, your co-workers, your mail carrier, etc, etc. The word “relationship” does not necessarily mean, you know. Relationship. Moving on.

P: And here’s the thing, when you’ve had a bad marriage and you’re skittish, if you’re a grown up, you do a couple of things: 1) you get some counseling and work through your issues, 2) you’re up front, not that you’re skittish, but that you’re unavailable. Oh, and 3) you probably don’t date someone here, while you’re planning on moving someone in from far away. So that’s him. What about you? As Terri says, and trust me the Bartender has heard ‘way too many of these conversations from intoxicated, broken-hearted people on the other side of the bar, you’re pretending that he’s interested in you. Why go out with someone who is not going to be in a relationship with you? You’re wasting valuable time or you’re using him as an excuse not to move into a grown up relationship while indulging in the drama that must ensue.

B: Now. I am not saying Marc doesn’t enjoy your companionship, and it’s possible that on some level he cares about you. But honestly, you sound like you’re a relationship fluffer as far as Marc is concerned. You’re enough to keep him aroused and entertained (on his terms), but not so much that he will take the relationship all the way.

Despite his vaunted honesty, dear, he is behaving dishonorably. What he’s doing is manipulative. Telling you that your place in his life is not secure, while “honest”, allows him to keep you at arm’s length and at the same time, keeps you walking on eggshells. Have you ever felt a moment’s peace inside this relationship? Have you ever felt secure, like you’re “home” with him? All you’ve told me and Ann about are successive instances of insecurity. NOT feeling loved. NOT feeling appreciated. At the end, you posit that you don’t even know if he knows you’re really there. WHAT. Though from him end, I wonder if he gets a real turn-on from it; he keeps knocking you down and you keep coming back, begging for more. This relationship—again, I use the term loosely—is so one-sided even you admit you’ve disappeared into it. Do you determine your sense of womanly worth by whether or not you’re with someone? I’m not being facetious or mean, it’s a yardstick people often use—men and women—to measure themselves.  You’ve already signed on to this and have agreed that this is your dynamic these last six months. Do you see it changing in a year? Can you live with this for another three years? Five? Do you still want knots in your stomach and eggshells under your feet twenty years and a few kids from now?

P: Wow, I can’t say I think there will ever be kids… It won’t be enough about him. I wish I could say I don’t have any experience with this. But I bet most women have dated some version of him, hopefully for a short time. It was funny, right before Terri received this question I’d been reading an article (help, I can’t find it) that talked about why your ex would want to remain friends with you — big answer: because he’s a narcissist. He wants all the attention. And it’s an easy parallel to draw with Marc. He’s got “marriage issues,” he’s got a girl back home, and he’s got you keeping the home fires burning. And he’s so “honest” and “meaningful” and therefore must care about you, right? I wish he did. But more truthfully, I wish that you didn’t think he did. Whatever he’s saying, let’s pay some attention to what he’s doing. (A lot, and not much of it with you.)

B: I wish I had nicer things to say about where I thought your relationship could go, but I don’t. I think you’re Marc’s Miss Right Now, but I don’t think you’re his Miss Right. Of course, I can’t make you do what you don’t want to do but I can’t see a reason for you to stay. And more to it, I can’t see a reason why you wouldn’t make an appointment with a therapist and discuss your willingness to be strung along for six months, and even fall in love with the stringer. You know this relationship isn’t right, which is why you’re writing to us. But in much the same way that I can’t make you do anything, you also can’t make Marc do anything. You can’t make him love you more, you can’t make him commit (and mean it), you can’t make him stop having contact with Miss Out-Of-Towner. The only thing you can control is your behavior. Take a good, long, hard look at what you’ve got and where you’re going. If you truly, in your soul, like it, then stay. If your stomach drops to the floor and you feel that sense of panic, then I think you have your answer. Good luck.

P: I not only want you to look at what he’s offering, I would like you to look at what you want and why you’re willing to jam yourself into a relationship that gives you no place to be a valuable person. How can you move forward in your life if you’re so willing to be stopped by someone who really doesn’t care for you? Because if he cared about you — not for how you make him feel, but for you — he’d leave the relationship because he wasn’t giving you what you deserved. Nope. He’s using you and you’re enabling it. Are you enjoying the drama? I’ll tell you, drama is not love; it’s just drama. Please give yourself better. Allow yourself to deserve someone wonderful who’s ready to be in your life. Leave so you can have it.

How much louder does he have to say it?

How much louder does he have to say it?

Dark & Stormy

  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 5 oz ginger beer
  • lime wedge

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour rum over ice, top with ginger beer. Give a stir, and squirt with a lime wedge. Enjoy!

Got a problem? Email us at bartender priestess (at) gmail (dot) com. Human non-spambots, remove spaces, insert proper punctuation. All questions will remain confidential.

Want to know more about The Bartender and The Priestess? Go here!

Thank you for reading. Now go tell all your friends about us. {{{heart hug}}}

 

Advice: Painful Partisan Politics and Bad Manners

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I am a second semester freshman, thinking about majoring in political science. I love trying to understand how our policies actually work. I’ve been doing projects with local campaigns and for our town commissioners since 9th grade. I’ve found that even the people whose views weren’t mine were usually good people, looking to do a great job. In fact, the woman who was my best mentor was one with whom I share very few political views, but she loves the process and the privilege of the work and was really encouraging.

I turned 18 in December and have been very excited that the first time I get to vote is in a presidential election. I’ve been working on a campaign on campus and feeling really great that there was room for a freshman.

Except it all feels like it’s gone so wrong. These are the primaries. It should be exciting that different people are supporting different candidates. Of course I don’t like all the candidates. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who thinks differently than I do is a person who is too stupid to live. Someone from the same party as mine came over and terrorized me because I am campaigning for a different candidate. He called me the worst names.

I managed to hold on to my cool but I was really hurt and could feel a whole mouthful of childishness rising up my throat.

What happened to the notion of worthy adversaries and civil discussion? I thought I’d be most upset about the fact that people don’t think it’s worth voting. Instead I’m overwhelmed by the hostility.

How do you engage in constructive ways? And how do I keep from feeling beaten up for being different than some people want me to be?

Concerned Citizen.

 

Dear Concerned.

P: You are so right to be concerned, the Bartender and I are firmly in your camp. Being a priestess and all that, I usually try, at least publically, to refrain from vulgarities. There’s this one cartoon, though, that really sums it up for me. I’m sorry I couldn’t find it to give the artist credit. Hive mind? There was a guru sitting on a hill. And people trudging up the hill. There was a kiosk bearing the sign something like: Meaning of Life —don’t have time to wait. There was a person reading a pamphlet that said simply “Don’t be an Asshole.” It is stunning to me how many people use the electoral process to discover their inner asshole. Surprisingly — to them, at least — this does not make things go either smoothly or their way. And they become bullies.

This nonsense is bullying, pure and simple. What becomes a problem is how do you stay engaged in what you love — and how do you not get beaten up? And the fact is, the only way to stay engaged with the process is by disengaging with the bullies. You have to find a way to do what my friend Michael’s mother always suggested: Rise above. There is no sense working on a beautiful swan dive if you’re headed into quicksand — and conversations with people who aren’t interested in you, or facts or common courtesy are pretty much nothing but quicksand.

B: While modern-day politics may not be quite as dire as the sentiment expressed in A Game of Thrones—when you play the game of thrones, you either win, or you die—it can often feel that way. There is a tremendous amount of personal investment that goes into politics. Particularly when you’re young, enthusiastic, and establishing yourself and your beliefs as you take on the mantle of adulthood. We choose a political affiliation because it resonates with us on some level. We believe in their fiscal approach, or their take on social justice/international policy/environmental issues/health care, and so on, and so on. There are a million different policies that can attract a person to a party, and then further on to admire one particular politician over another. All of which should provide fertile ground for lively debate, particularly if you and your politico-colleagues are informed and passionate about your favored issues.

But we seem to have lost the ability to disagree. There’s a pervasive Game of Thrones mentality that rejects legitimate conversation in favor of trying to crush your opponent under your heel. Again, it’s an easy trap to fall into when you’re young, before you’ve learned the ins and outs of tact and diplomacy. Kudos for you to figuring this out long before many people in politics ever do.

P: You may need to develop some stock response that gives them no openings and repeat until they walk away or you can get them to stop biting your ankle. Words like: “It’s so interesting that people can look at the same issues in so many ways, don’t you think. And it makes me excited that people are so involved in this election. Oh, is that the time? Class at 11. Gotta run.” And then go! Don’t wait for rebuttal.

You cannot engage someone who is not interested in fact, nuance, or reality. It just doesn’t work. Being polite doesn’t mean letting people beat you up.

B: And learn how not to get baited into an argument. You can exercise your right to not engage in something. When you were accosted for supporting the wrong candidate in your political party? You don’t have to try and convince the accost-er of your rightness. If someone’s that hostile toward you and your political choices then you’re usually at an intellectual impasse. If that’s the likely case, remember, you have the power to say things like, “I’ll be happy to talk to you about this when you’re less aggressive,” or go short and sweet and say, “I’m not having this conversation with you right now.” It’s not that there isn’t room in the political spectrum for spirited debate and mindful conversation. There’s just not room for it with that guy, at that moment. If someone were to walk up to you, knuckles up, out of nowhere, looking for a fight, would you tear your shirt off and dive into the fracas? Or would you think, this is nuts, and walk away? It’s the same thing. Learn to read a situation. Take a (mental) lap around the room before you commit to a debate.

P: I was so excited by the first part of your message. Not only are you interested in government, you’re getting great experience. And you’re allowing yourself to be mentored by people on both sides of the aisle. These are the people who matter. These are people who are doing the work and acknowledging your worth. Stay close to them. Learn what you can. Find more great examples of caring candidates. Watch them. There is nothing more exciting to me to see someone who is both idealistic and realistic about the democratic process. Go be part of it. Make the world better. It’s one way, for sure.

At an earlier point in my life I might have said some of the behavior you’re experiencing is based on people’s age and experience. But I am on Facebook, and I can’t tell you that I see loads of posts from my older, (cough cough!) wiser friends, filled with thoughtful maturity. I was so happy to see the (alas false) story about the knitting gorilla. Who cares if it’s false, here’s to knitting gorillas.

But there is something about that heady first taste of voting and freedom of opinion. You seem to recognize that it’s a responsibility as well as a privilege! Great adulting! Sadly, too many of your cohort does not. Again, don’t let them get you down.

B: I think Ann is right in that you’ve found some great people to get you started on the right foot. You need to remember the internal lesson you learned from your mentor. You and she differed politically, but were able to work well together. Why? Because you were invested in the process, and not in your ego. I mean, God, yes, it feels great to be able to express your opinions and—literally, when you’re voting—stand up and be counted. Who doesn’t like feeling like they matter? You and your mentor could still find common ground from either side of the aisle because you both understand that a political disagreement doesn’t mean you’re totally rejecting one another as people. It’s not your soul that’s attached to a political party, it’s your opinion, and those can change with time and circumstance. Don’t forget that.

P: And lastly, I am so sorry, but dealing with assholes is part of the skill set you’re going to have to develop to be an effective politician. So, yes, their behavior is intimidating, but you’ve got bigger things in view, so don’t let them intimidate you. Find your feet (we believe in you, and I’ll bet others do to) and stand your ground. And when at all possible, walk around the human quagmires. Otherwise make your landing a belly flop and breaststroke the heck away from there. Because you have something you believe in. Hold fast to that. Put a pebble in your pocket and name it that cause and grab onto it when people are being ignorant and hateful. But keep going. Because we believe in you. I’ll bet a lot of people do!

B: I just want to say, even if you’re not going into politics but plan on being an adult, you’ll still have to deal with assholes. Sad, and true. So. Learn to read a situation as it unfolds in front of you before you find yourself at their mercy, no matter into what arena you decide to throw your hat. Good luck!

political napkin

Here’s to wonkless politics! Ever forward.

Moscow Mule Mocktail
1/2 cup Ginger Beer
3 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
3 tbsp Club Soda

Mix ingredients in a copper mug 3/4 full of crushed ice. Stir together. Garnish with lime wedge.

Got a problem? Email us at bartender priestess (at) gmail (dot) com. Human non-spambots, remove spaces, insert proper punctuation. All questions will remain confidential.

Want to know more about The Bartender and The Priestess? Go here!

Thank you for reading. Now go tell all your friends about us. {{{heart hug}}}

Advice: Heart Problems Galore

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I am a 22-year-old man and recently got dumped. Again. And this last one really hurt.

We were together for about a month, and I really liked this girl, “Sally”. One night, we got involved in a long conversation about family, and family history, and the kind of baggage we have. One of the things she told me about (along with her parents’ divorce and an estrangement with another sister) was she had a brother who was born with a congenital heart disease. I thought, FINALLY! Someone who might understand me. You see, I too was born with heart disease. I got all excited when I told her about my condition. I thought she would get it.

Instead, she bolted. First, she was slow to respond to texts and calls. Then she stopped replying altogether. When I went to her house to ask her what was wrong all she said was, “I am sorry, “Bob”, I just can’t do this.”

It’s really painful. I know my life isn’t going to be terribly long, but does that mean I am supposed to be alone for it? Sally should know that as much as her brother deserved to be loved, I do too. How can I help a girl get past my heart problem and see the real me?

–Heart Problems Galore

B: Oh, my dear young man. You have my compassion and my good will. You were born with a very tough row to hoe, and I admire and respect your desire to push it aside in the pursuit of a normal life for as long as it’s available to you.

But you need to understand that your conditions bring a special set of complications into any new relationship you want to start. Of course you deserve to be loved; we all do. But you need to find someone who’s willing to love extraordinarily.

The girl you talk about, “Sally”, has already been through an unenviable degree of pain in her life, and if you and she are contemporaries then she’s only 22. You said her parents have divorced, and she’s got an estrangement with her sister. You also talk about her brother—the one who shares your congenital heart problem—in the past tense. He had a heart problem, he deserved to be loved. Has he already passed away? That’s a whole lot of anguish for one young woman to handle in only 22 years. You’re asking for her compassion but not giving her any in return. She may be wounded, and wounded so deeply she can’t dig down any deeper to give you the sort of love you were hoping for from her.

P: Oh, I’m so sorry. As if your damaged heart was not enough, now you have a broken one. Whatever your heart’s condition, you, like all of us, are looking both to love and be loved.

Understanding what may be true about Sally isn’t going to make your heart hurt any less, but her reality seems as complicated as yours. We don’t know why her parents split up, but statistics tell us that it’s often about the death of a child. It seems that everyone in her family ran to different corners. She already feels alone. So your condition may well represent a loss of everything rather than the possibility of something beautiful and precious.

While it seems that the potential to understand your life may be there, it doesn’t seem like she’s made that leap. She may never make it. She may always choose safety. You may be a wonderful choice, and the fact is that none of us know how long we have, but you are not a choice she can make.

In life, in work, and in love, people are only capable of that of which they’re capable.

B: You need to understand that it’s not about you, even though it affects you profoundly. It’s about her, and her capacity to keep opening her heart. And it’s not that she’s wrong to draw in and protect herself. She may have reached her pain limit, and that needs to be respected, in everybody, at all times.

The unfortunate thing about relationships is you can’t make the object of your desire, desire you back. That’s the part that hurts.

You have a difficult task. When we start relationships that we think have staying power, we tend to project our cozy newfound couplehood into a gauzy ideal; we picture what our children would look like, we imagine long nights under the covers, we see Thanksgivings fifty years from now, with gaggles of squirrely, laughing grandkids around the table. What we don’t project into is widowhood at 40. We don’t imagine starting over. We don’t start relationships thinking, “What’s my next move when this relationship comes to an end?” And, unless you experience a medical revolution regarding your heart problems, that’s exactly what you’re asking your new love to ask herself. What will she do when you leave?

That’s a tough starting point.

P: There are so many myths out there about love, and most of them are fairytales. We choose to love people. And as painful as it is, we can, and sometimes must choose to unlove them. Because her choices, given her baggage, as you call it, are for safety. You’re not a safe choice, partially because your heart is damaged and partially because you’re willing to grab what life has to offer. That scares the hell out of a lot of people, and good for you!

B: You are digging into your life with both hands. You are not letting your condition best you, and you’re blazing forward with the intent to love, and do so wholly, for as long as you are able. It’s admirable, and it’s brave, and it’s intense, and it’s incredibly healthy. You just need to find someone willing to make that plunge with you, knowing the likely downside and deciding to go for it anyway.

But you can do it. The thing is, if you want to have an extraordinary love, you need to be extraordinary. And by default you are asking your intended to step outside the parameters of a “normal” relationship.

You’re allowed to be disappointed by the outcome of your attempted relationship with Sally, because you thought you had an “in”. But, as we all have to discover as we navigate every relationship we’re in, we can’t let other people’s baggage define us.

So no, Sally wasn’t capable of having a relationship with you.

P: As Terri says, you get to be extraordinary. Why not let your heart condition be part of what makes you that way? Not in a negative fashion, but in an aggressive, “one of the side effects of my congenital heart disease is that I live passionately and love deeply” kinda way.

Are you an activist for your disease? I know it’s not everyone’s dream to become an activist, but there’s something so exciting about bold people who tell you what their limitations are and then wow you with their strengths. If your heart problems are just another (out front) piece of you, then the people who come into your life come in knowing some of your weaknesses, they’re going to run away long before you fall in love…

Being part of a group these days almost always means you get a tee shirt. Get a bunch. Wear them! Go to conferences and meet ups, get to know other people who are living with your disease. Educate people. And do things you want to do. You know that the likelihood of a shortened life is your reality; what are you doing to ensure that the time you have is fascinating?

You deserve a fabulous life. (we all do) You got dealt a crummy card. (many people do). But that card isn’t all of who you are, by a long shot. Discover your passions, love yourself wildly and watch people line up — if you have time given that you’re busy having a good time.

And figuring out what groups to belong to will give you a chance to meet new people while your heart is healing. Because you cared a lot about Sally and you had high hopes. That leaves you with a very tender heart. The tenderness will heal. I think we can promise you that. (Because pssst: Both the Bartender and the Priestess have had their hearts bruised on more than one occasion. But bruises heal; yours will too.)

broken heart napkin

Pomegranate juice. For heart health.

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Want to know more about The Bartender and The Priestess? Go here!

Thank you for reading. Now go tell all your friends about us. {{{heart hug}}}

Advice: Freeloading Downloaders

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I am a small business owner. I provide Virtual Assistant services to other small business owners. I love my business and find it incredibly rewarding. I like my clients and the variety of work they offer me. As a support (and thank you) to my clients and as a marketing technique, I’ve written a number of small ebooks. Each one addresses an issue that people in business may encounter and offers a number of ways to deal with that issue.

I get great feedback from my clients about these booklets. It helps them think about what questions they want to ask me if I’m doing something for them, or simply offers them a way to think differently about something they’ve always done.

I’ve also gained several clients this way — often because they were talking to a client and their client said, hey, you know what, XYZ Virtual Assistants has a booklet on that very topic. You should pick it up. They do. They like it, and they will often work with me on a small project to test the working waters.

What’s the problem? Well not those people. What bugs me beyond belief is the people who, whether they’re surfing or have been directed to my site, hate the booklets. Not content to say, “wowza, XYZVA has nothing to offer me, what’s wrong with my friends that they work with her?” Instead they write to excoriate me on the fact that my booklet on something requires people to think for themselves and why yes, it’s true, often suggests that a well qualified Virtual Assistant may well be able to help. It contains contact information.

What galls me is that I’ve received more than one letter, email, phone call from a stranger, berating me, complaining that I didn’t give them enough information in the free download. When I politely (after all, part of my business includes responding to uncomfortable questions) remind them that this was a free booklet and intended to speak generally to a topic, they go nuts.

People persist. They’re rude. They’re demanding. I haven’t lost my cool yet, but I worry!

Do you have any thoughts about how to deal with people who, having gotten a very lovely piece of something for nothing, now insist on belittling the offering and demanding more?

Stupefied at the (Virtual) Office

Dear Stupefied,

BNP: Oh, we feel your pain!

P: What is it with people? You offer a gift (never mind that you have reasons for offering, of course you do), people take the gift and then spend time whining that the gift is not enough and being aghast that you would actually charge for your expertise if they wanted more information. Would that the Bartender and I had no experience of this.

And in between the acceptance of the gift and the complaint, there is never a passing glance at gratitude. Not even a tip-o-the-hat to common courtesy.

It’s really depressing. It’s well past time to bring back both common courtesy and common sense!

B: There’s an unfortunate truth to the notion that if you give a person an inch, they’ll go for a mile. I generally think it’s rooted in that person’s innate desire to have power. You just gave me something; now I am going to make you give me more, even if I have to bully and debase myself to do it. But that’s not your question. Your question skips the why (though sometimes, I can’t help playing the armchair psychologist) and goes straight to “How do I handle this?” Well.

P: I think most people know when they encounter a freebie whether you’re the expert to take them farther. If they didn’t want more, they wouldn’t be trying to get it from you. Why they think they’re entitled to more without paying for it is really beyond me.

My version is people’s being stunned that I charge for doing weddings. “But you work for a church. Why should I pay you? This is my wedding.” “Do you go to my church?” “No.” “Do you contribute to any church?” if “No,” then I don’t work for you, and I need to be paid an honest exchange for the very good work I do. If, “Yes,” perhaps you should have your minister marry you! I, however, still need to be compensated for my time and my expertise. I’m old, um, mature. I have years of experience. You don’t get that for free.

I’ve actually had people spending a whole lot of money on a wedding who think I should marry them for free because “You’ve taken a vow of poverty.” No. I didn’t. Did you take a vow of ripping people off? Sigh. No, I don’t say that, but oh, it rises to mind.

B: Ha ha. A vow of poverty. I wonder if anyone has ever asked that of the Joel Osteens of the world. I often find people are surprised that I want to charge them for writing projects. If they asked me to come to their house and plumb their sewer lines, they’d expect to be charged for my time and effort and expertise. What makes this different?

P: I really think that the only way to deal with these people is to have a set fee for different kinds of work and practiced responses. You may want to have them on your website or FB page. If you have those things set out, there’s no reason to take other people’s silliness seriously. You answer their questions about the information they want as by telling them what that will cost them. It’s perfectly logical that they want more (because your freebie was fabulous) but more must be fairly compensated.

And then I think you really need to hang up the phone or end the email.

B: Yes, you’re in customer service and I understand that you don’t want to fly off the handle, but it is still your business. Be in control of it. You can choose to engage with a problematic freeloader, or, you can end your communication. For the freeloader, they’ll only be happy if you give them something for free. You’re not really risking the loss of a potential customer because this person was never going to pay you anyway. It’s not about the quality of your service. It’s about the quality of the freeloader’s character.

P: Once you go beyond their statement of their wants, your explanation about the price of fulfilling those desires, you’ve begun haggling. You do not need to be defensive. You’re unlikely to convince them — and they’re unlikely to be satisfied customers if you do. There is nothing worse for your sense of humor or your business than an unsatisfied customer. And if they didn’t like what you gave them for free, they’re unlikely to be satisfied with what you’ll give them for money.

If, as they say, neither courtesy nor sense are common, then perhaps it’s always been people’s tendency to see what they can get away with. You, however, do not need to take that personally. You offer what you offer, you charge what you charge for more, and other than that, unless people need a reference to 911, you’re probably done.

B: Practice this phrase: This conversation is now over. That’s it. This conversation is now over. And when you say that, follow it up with, “I am hanging up now/ending this email thread now/asking you to leave my office now.” And stick to it. You don’t need to make that the first thing you say, but it needs to be in your arsenal. Because the thing is, someone who’s going to try and bully you into giving away a piece of your livelihood isn’t going to care about a well-reasoned argument. There’s no “good way” to interact with that person. They’re not calling you so they can hear you; they’re calling you so they can extort you. And you need to understand that difference.

So learn how to tell someone no, practice ending the conversation, draft a stock email or letter to keep on hand to send out politely stating your company’s agenda (Thank you for your interest in XYZVA! As you have seen from our selection of complimentary downloads, we are a full-service virtual assisting company. Our professional services begin at the low fee of $$.00 per month; please see our attached pricing sheet for more information). And then?  Call it a day. If someone persists in verbal or email abuse, make sure it’s documented so you can protect yourself. And continue to nurture the clients you do have and grow your clientele selectively. You’re not obligated to work with every single person who darkens your door, especially if they’ve shown their willingness to be irate and abusive.

P: Is it possible that there are not-for-profits that you might be willing to donate time to? Yes. Is a cold call with a demand for more of what you gave them likely to be the right charity for you to assist — I’d say the odds are small. I’ve created and celebrated rituals for people who have no resources, but they’ve been very special situations and very special people.

B: Remember, being in customer service doesn’t make you someone’s whipping boy, and you’re not in it to be taken advantage of. Be strong. Be firm. Be polite. Be unassailable. And be in charge. Good luck!

WP_20150128_22_03_27_Pro-008

Make ’em a (business) offer they can’t refuse.

Godfather Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Scotch or bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce amaretto

Directions:

Fill a glass about two thirds full of ice. Add whiskey and amaretto. Stir until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Serve.

Got a problem? Email us at bartender priestess (at) gmail (dot) com. Human non-spambots, remove spaces, insert proper punctuation. All questions will remain confidential.

Want to know more about The Bartender and The Priestess? Go here!

Thank you for reading. Now go tell all your friends about us. {{{heart hug}}}

Advice: Promposal Problems

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I am a senior in high school. Since the beginning of this year I’ve held a part-time job, and put most of my money into a savings account. I’m going away to college in the fall on a partial academic scholarship, and my parents and I decided it would make sense for me to work now and save everything so when I go to school I can focus on my studies, and still have some spending money. We don’t have a lot of money, so maintaining my scholarship is really important to me, and to my parents.

My problem is, there’s this girl I’ve been dating, and I really want to ask her to the prom. It’s a big deal in my school to do promposals, and I know some guys are planning big ways to ask girls on dates—taking them to a fancy restaurant for dinner, getting their girls specially embroidered his and hers running shoes (so they can be prom-body-ready). One guy got his girl a charm bracelet that spelled out “P-R-O-M” in the charms. Of course I want to make the girl I ask feel special. I’m already planning on the tux and flowers and prom tickets and dinner beforehand, and the limo. And that’s fine, I’m ready for it, I’ve been planning for it. But this seems like so much more extra money, and I know I can’t ask my parents to pitch in with this. They already do so much for me. How can I compete?

Thanks.

Prom-Plexed

Dear Prom-Plexed

BnP: First, kudos for the great signature! And your question succinctly nails an issue — a trend; perhaps even an obscene trend — that makes us ca-razy. Is it about the money? Or is it the fact that our young vibrant women feel like they need to be Disney princesses? They need public displays of desirability (and thus, validation)? And how romantic is it that boys are increasingly expected to be nothing but cash cows? (Can we even say how much we hate these two things?) Is it that nothing can simply be what it is? We’ve maxed out the stuff we can add onto the prom (What??? You’re not spending the week at the shore???), so we’ll invent this idea called “Promposal”. Let’s see if we can help. Prom-body ready, where’s the fainting couch.

B: Give me a minute to congratulate you on earning a scholarship! That’s no small feat. And, congratulations to you and your parents for taking your academic achievement and growth seriously, and making plans to preserve your scholarship eligibility. You’re just in high school, but you’re looking ahead and weighing the variables of your life with a maturity I don’t always see in adults three times your age.

As for your question…

I haaaaaaaaaaate promposals. It probably borders on the irrational, and if I were a judge I would in all likelihood have to recuse myself from this case if it came to my courtroom. Luckily, this is an advice column and I can rattle on at will.

I can just hear parents now: oh, come on, party pooper, they’re cute! They’re harmless! And who doesn’t want to see “PROM?” spelled out on their front lawn in sparklers? But negotiating the social strata of high school is tough enough without having to add in an extra layer of manufactured courtship. I *swear* this is an idea devised and perpetuated by the wedding industrial complex to train future brides and grooms to go big or not leave the yard.

P: Just thinking about this brings back the high school trauma. Yuck. And back then, there wasn’t dinner beforehand, or breakfast afterwards, let alone promposals. Yes Priestess is Ancient. There was just the wondering whether you’d be asked, the fumbling conversation in the hall by your locker and then the agonizing what-will-I-wear. Thank goodness my mother sewed! But a promposal? This is the wedding industry going amok, an extravagant marketing ploy. This is, how to say this delicately… hogwash.

That said, here you are. Living in this world.

You want to go to the prom. You want to have a good time. You want to go with someone interesting. You don’t want to break the bank. That pretty much it?

B: Going to prom can be fun. You get to wear fancy clothes, ride around in a nice car, sit at a big round table with all your friends and eat banquet food, do a little dancing. It’s a way to practice a ritual of adulthood, and fills the niche created by the (now largely abandoned except in certain circles) debutante ball. Prom-goers put themselves out there, displaying themselves as they get ready for adulthood.

Practicing at adulthood should also (theoretically, at least) contain an element of practicing what to look for in a desirable partner. Promposals can skew that. Yes, some promposals can be cute. It’s like a storybook, right? Awww. But what they tend to do is put a glossy sheen over the meaningful work of dating, which involves determining someone’s personality. It establishes an expectation that girls should expect to get treated like fairy princesses, and if Prince Charming isn’t riding in and saying he wants to take Terri to the prom with artfully strewn rose petals, then either the boy who’s simply asking (“Terri, would you go to the prom with me?”) isn’t worth Terri’s time, or Terri doesn’t merit a proper asking. Do we really need to reinforce the idea that our sense of self depends on the value placed on how much of a public spectacle we are made by other people?

P: Hopefully the girl your dating will be able to appreciate your opinion, if not have the same abhorrence that you do for the crass commercialism. The prom is really about having a fun evening, or should be, and not an opportunity to worry first if your promposal is sufficient and then if your prom-date is sufficient. 

I hope she’s a wonderful, independent, non-drama princess kinda young woman. I’m sure she’s someone interesting that you’d like to spend a fun evening with, someone you’d like to know for a long time, whether it’s as a girlfriend or as a great friend.

B: You said the girl you want to ask is someone you’ve been had some dates with. More than one date. There’s some reason to believe you’re at the very least compatible and share some of the same values. So it seems like you’re looking in the right direction.

P: It’s important for you to remember that you have great values. You’re working hard for your future. You’re considerate of your parents. You’ve thought about making it a fun date. Someone’s really going to want to go to the prom with you. Let’s not think about this as a lack in you but rather a positive. You’ve got goals. You’ve got principles. And you’re trying to figure something out. You’re interesting! If your date, who knows you, tells you she don’t want to go to the prom with you because you’re falling down on the promposing, it’s going to be hard on the ego but really, this is likely not someone you want to know really well.

If you have to, go ahead and think about this invitation as a promposal, but why not just think about it’s being asking the girl you’re dating to the prom? Let it be about the two of you. Why not make your invitation one more opportunity to get to know one another better? You’re going to have to talk to one another a long time at the prom. It’s a good idea to keep building common ground. You can be very romantic without spending beaucoup bucks.

Do you two share an interest? (hint: it’ll be more fun at the prom if you have things in common).  A little research and you can figure something out. This is getting to know someone. This is effort that will not be wasted and will stand you in good stead your entire life. Truth to tell, I find someone’s interest in me far more romantic than someone who throws cash because it’s the thing to do — something that has noting to do with me.

B: Again, being willing and able to talk to someone you’re interested in—making the effort to get to know your future date, and not just want someone who looks good on your arm—is a sign of maturity. Of *course* we all want to be attracted, and attractive, to the person we date, but a date can go sideways pretty quickly if all you have is the pleasure of looking at one another. If you wanted that, you could take a picture of that person and put it in your wallet. But your date moves and breathes and talks, so find out what interests her and go from there.

P: Looking for ideas? Do you hike? Go some place special, take a picnic. Look for a heart shaped rock. There are loads. Start collecting them. When you’ve got enough hand them to her and say, be my prom date! Take car drives, go see something special. Find two animals in the field together. Ask her to go with you to the prom. Live in a city near a favorite museum? Go see a painting, ask her to the prom. Use your bus passes and spend the day hopping on and off the bus. Go on a picnic. Play a game. Learn to make an origami flower, get really good at it. Do it in front of her, ask her to the prom.

Be creative, interested and hopeful. And the origami thing? You’ll always be able to use that!

B: I want to take a moment to beg the parents who encourage these sorts of displays, or smile benignly upon them as they’re happening…please stop. Your son is not a gesture-generating ATM, your daughter is not a princess, and we should be working toward raising young adults who are independent, not codependent. There are so many wrong messages attached to the idea of a promposal.

As for you, Promplexed, remember, when you go forward into your life, that relationships do not thrive on flashy gestures alone. Be true to yourself, your goals, and your personal value system, and don’t EVER feel like you’ve got less to offer than anyone else because you don’t put bling before substance. Have fun at the prom, and best of luck to you in your future.

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Prom objective: Don’t get too stressed. Have fun. That is all.

Ombré Grapefruit Cocktail
Ingredients 
  • 1/2 c. grapefruit juice, chilled
  • 1/4 can Sprite or 7Up, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp simple syrup
  • 1 tsp grenadine
  • sugar to rim the glass
  • Use champagne flutes for a pretty presentation
Instructions
  1. Pour a very small amount of grapefruit juice/grenadine/simple syrup onto one plate, and a layer of garnishing sugar on another 
  2. Dip the rim of the glass in grapefruit juice, and then into the sugar so it coats the rim of the glass
  3. Carefully pour grapefruit juice into glass
  4. Add simple syrup
  5. Top off the glass with soda and drop in the grenadine
  6. You can add a stir stick or straw, but don’t stir it until after it’s served or else it will no longer be ombré

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