SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy)

So, Mr. Sensitive-New-Age-Guy, just out of curiosity, are the letters you respond to real or fabricated???? Actually, I very much enjoy your blog- you talk the talk quite well, and with great humor…

By the way, was that you in the Eldorado Supermart the other evening? (I was the paint-splattered woman buying posterboard, having one of those typical Eldorado social moments…) See…., you too, can now be victim of the “star-spotting public”, even in your neighborhood grocery…
Thanks for the entertaining column!
Shannon

“Sensitive-New-Age-Guy”? Yikes! A friend of mine has a term for that, S.N.A.G. I sure as hell don’t want to be a snag. Am I a snag? Do I came across as sensitive? I guess that’s O.K., but new age… no way! OK, so I’m definitely sensitive because that whole new age thing is really hurting my feelings.

Anyway, to answer your question, I absolutely DO NOT make up any of the letters in my column. When I first started doing the column, I begged a couple of friends of mine to send me letters, but I didn’t make anything up. I was genuinely surprised by how many people thought that I made up letters. Then I heard that Dear Abby and Ann Landers sometimes make up their letters. I can only say that I am not surprised. Both of those hosers really piss me off.

First, they are twin sisters who haven’t spoken to each other for, like, 150 years, and they give advice to other people on how to have successful relationships? That’s almost as ridiculous as getting advice from some pseudo-intellectual narcissist who has a long history of failed relationships.

Seriously, how did these two get a monopoly on the whole advice thing? Have you ever seen either of them on TV? They’re scary… really scary. Of course, if you saw me on TV, you wouldn’t want my advice either. But I am just a tiny minnow in the ocean of advice, and they are whales.

I have so many unanswered letters, that I do not foresee the need to make anything up. Abby and Ann must have millions of unanswered letters, so why in the hell would they ever make up anything? The only reason I can think of is that they have some axe they want to grind and no one has written them a good set-up letter for saying what they really want to say. I think that is really heinous? Anyway, on to another letter…

Dear Steve,
I am an extremely hot woman who usually dates really good looking guys with lots of money. Unfortunately, I am always disappointed with these apparently perfect men. I think that their good looks, stability and confidence just end up being boring.
Recently, I decided that I would only date underemployed men who have some glaring shortcoming (like they’re fat or something). My new boyfriend is an overweight writer. He is not particularly good-looking and he is not rich. He is also pretty self-absorbed. We spend most of our time at his house watching television or talking about his life. I never thought I would say this, but it is the ideal relationship. I feel so comfortable with him and we have the best sex in the world (when he is awake).
I strongly encourage all my hot sisters to find the nearest poor, unattractive writer and ask him out.
Signed,
Happy with my fat-narcissistic-writer-boyfriend

You would be surprised how many letters I get from women who love their self-absorbed, writer boyfriends. I will share your infinite wisdom with my readers. We can only hope that they will follow your really great advice.

Dear Steve,
Your column is so utterly fantastic that I am often left breathless after reading it. How much does the Reporter pay you? I can’t believe that it comes close to matching the unfathomable value of your sublime wisdom. Whatever they are paying you, they should pay you more. Thank you for making my life livable, you are a saint.
Signed,
“I live to read your column”

I really appreciate your comments, though I would suggest that they are somewhat exaggerated. I am, in fact, not a saint. Otherwise, I think you are dead-on in your observations.

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Intercourse and Intimacy

Steve, Steve, Steve,
Alas, you have disappointed me in your response to Sara, the woman with blow-job issues. After you’ve won my respect and admiration, you had to go and blow it (actually, I don’t think you can compete with Dan Savage at the Village Voice, but that’s a different matter).
Anyway, straight to the point, let’s get to the head of the matter. Your argument for sexual intercourse being more “intimate” than oral sex, well, that is one thing that I just can’t swallow. I mean, what’s this thing about “intercourse can make children”? If you are going to use this argument, at least stick it in where someone won’t notice it, instead of putting it front and center, right out in the open like that, and please explain your reasoning. Have you ever considered that realm of sexual exchange that has been receiving headlines lately, ( namely the Texas sodomy case) or sex between members of the same gender? Now, we’re not talking about making children here, (unless the sex involves two lesbians, a turkey baster, and a sperm bank).
I know, I know, the question was from a hetero woman and she wanted a “straight” answer, but let’s face it Duncan, there are many men out there who have tasted the “love juice” in more ways than just from their lover’s mouth. And there are many men who would also cringe with embarrassment and homophobia to admit they had tasted their own cum while jacking off, and if they did admit it, they would qualify that act with being curious, not perhaps admitting their own seemingly perverted tendencies.
As for the term “intimacy,” as in trying to figure out which is more intimate, oral sex or just plain intercourse, let’s not even try to answer that in so few sentences. Just defining what intimacy means could take up more than your column has room for, (and is perhaps going too deep for your particular genre) an issue that you touched upon when you mentioned every person being “unique” in what they consider to be intimate, and in what constitutes their preferences. Let’s just say that your answer was limited, and I understand why, it is your opinion after all. But I also wouldn’t want any sexual “deviants” out there to feel left out of the conversation because, I for one, like to have a few more options, creative avenues, and roles that I might play than those presented in your column. If I was to understand your argument correctly, then I would assume that most same gender sex was not as intimate (whatever that means, since we haven’t defined it) as hetero sex.
Signed
-Can’t Understand Much

First, let’s start with Dan Savage. He receives letters like: “can I get athlete’s foot from masturbating into my sneaker” or “can I get an infection from letting a dog lick my pussy.” I have 600 letters asking why there are no decent men in Santa Fe. You do the math. Goo in the shoe is funny, women with high standards are not.
Second, intimacy is created in many different ways (sometimes, without any sex at all). I apologize to all the same gender couples, sexual deviants, and cum tasters – I validate and applaud your sexual choices. I should’ve said sexual intercourse is more “intense,” instead of more intimate (but you’d probably whine about that too).
It seems self-evident that a sex act that can, potentially, create a person, is more intense than one that cannot. Let’s say that sexual intercourse didn’t produce children, but it just produced household appliances. Wouldn’t that be more intense than sex that couldn’t produce appliances? If a microwave oven popped out of your butt nine months after some backdoor boning, wouldn’t that make the whole thing a little more intense (not to mention, more painful)? Isn’t creating a person as interesting as creating a toaster?

“That subtle knot which makes us man:
So must pure lovers’ souls descend
T’ affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
Else a great Prince in prison lies.”

-The Extasy, John Donne

Yes, I think the horizontal bone-dance (“that subtle knot which makes us man”) is special and more intimate than oral sex. So sue me. Since you’re a person who likes to celebrate diversity – why can’t you celebrate the diversity of my opinion?

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Romance

Dear Steve,
My marriage is on the rocks. I’ve been a Steve (desireless, excellent and retreating) for all of the 15 years I’ve known this woman. I spent most of the time ignoring her, having no desire for her, and being excellent at golf. About 8 months ago she turned totally Steve and is ignoring me, has no desire for sex, and is incredibly excellent at making tons of money. Of course, I now totally want her!

So, my question is… is there life after Steve? I’ve seen the errors of my ways and now it seems as though it’s too late to get her back. Do I once again start thinking about the single life? I’m 53 and Scared Shitless… but my handicap has never been better!!
Thanks for a very cool movie…!
Signed,
R in CA

First, a warning to all you cynics – the next two paragraphs are an earnest response to R’s letter, devoid of any comedy bits. Moreover, the remaining paragraphs consist largely of self-indulgent ramblings about love and politics.

Write your wife a letter. Tell her you woke up and realized what you’ve been missing. Tell her that anyone who could take her for granted doesn’t deserve her, and ask for her forgiveness. Include a list of the ten best things about her that nobody else would know. Tell her you lust for her more now than you did when you met.

Surprise her with a romantic dinner and a gift (something more symbolic than expensive – after all, she has her own money). Does she like poetry? Get her a book of poems. If you don’t already know the perfect gift, do some research. Find out what she would really want and not get for herself. At dinner, give her the letter along with the gift. Then humbly thank her for letting you spend so many years in her company, and tell her that your happiest thought is the prospect of spending many years to come with her. Good luck.

There’s an important lesson here, not just for you, but for Obama. One must not take anything for granted, be it a beautiful wife or crucial electoral votes. As I write this column, the election is still in doubt. 250 million Americans could be thrust into a Constitutional crisis. Hopefully, you and your wife will work things out. Either way, it shouldn’t affect the stock market.

I don’t want to get all loopy-loo and Yoda-like, but I think this election is a wonderful, divine reminder of something crucially important that we often forget. Everything counts, everything matters. Whether it’s votes, or small demonstrations of appreciation and affection.

Pay attention to the little things. Jesus says that every jot and tittle will be accounted for. Honestly, I have never seen a jot, though I think I’ve seen a tittle or two. Seriously, I believe what Jesus means with the whole jot thing is this: every single one of your thoughts and actions matters, and when you die, you’ll have to watch them all on video tape.

I spend most of my days thinking about me and things related to me, and the Washington Redskins. Like R, I have ignored some wonderful women I have dated. Like me, I’m sure that you’ve asked yourself, ”what if I had just said something nice here and there, or told her more often that I love her, or any other spontaneous act of love?” I’m sure Obama has asked himself, “what if I had more barbecues,” or “what if I had worn a yellow tie?”

Appreciating people every day is cool. Looking back with regret and remorse really sucks.

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Roomie

Dear Steve,
I’m completely in love with my roommate and have been for some time. I moved in with him believing that he would never feel the same way about me and that was okay since I knew that going in. Lately, he has started telling me he’s jealous whenever I go out with other guys, but that he can’t “clearly evaluate the way he feels about me” because his life is such a mess right now. I asked him if I was just supposed to wait around until he could “evaluate” everything, but he told me that he realized he couldn’t ask me to do that. I’ve come to realize that for men its all about timing and for women its about finding the right man regardless, but… don’t you just know how you feel about someone? Is it really about timing or am I just the ‘fill in’ until he finds someone else? I guess the real question is…. should I wait until his life is sorted out or should I get out now before more feelings are involved?
Thanks!
Kelly in New York

Love is like pornography; you know it when you see it. I’m pretty suspicious of this guy who says he can’t “clearly evaluate” the way he feels about you? Trust me, a guy knows when he likes a girl. Saying, “I’m jealous when you go out with other guys, but I don’t know if I want you” is simply a way of marking territory. It’s like licking a piece of cake so no one else will eat it, so you can eat it later. He’s trying to put you on a lay-away plan, or a lay-you-later plan.

So I think he’s a loser. But, for the sake of argument (and to fill up some paper space), let’s say he’s telling the truth. Let’s say he’s some kind of emotional moron who can’t tell if he has feelings for someone. Then, my question to you is, “why do you want to be with an emotional moron?”

Let’s say this guy is really, really deep. He likes to read Rilke and he had a complicated relationship with his mother. He really does like you, but hasn’t sorted out other issues. Maybe he’s afraid he wouldn’t be good for you (isn’t that sweet). Maybe he’s afraid that if you guys got together, he’d lose himself and become emotionally dependent on you (yeah, that’s the ticket). He could be struggling with profound philosophical issues – “The Buddha left his wife to pursue enlightenment, maybe I need to be alone, so I can reach enlightenment.”

Do any of these possibilities sound like your guy? Let me suggest one other possibility. He likes you. Thinks you’re cool. Considers you a long-term relationship option. But, he wants to shop around a little more before he makes up his mind. When a guy tells someone that he needs time to work out his feelings, 99 percent to the time, he means, “I’m pretty sure I like you, but I think there’s a decent chance that I can do better.”

The bottom line is this – when you like someone, you grab onto them. I think it’s true for men and women. You say that, for men, it’s all about timing. On one level that’s true. A man doesn’t settle down because he’s met the right woman, he settles down because he’s become the right man. Whatever else is happening, it sounds like this guy hasn’t become who he’s going to be yet, so I suggest you move out and move on.


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Tall

Dear Steve,
I have a terrible time meeting women that I want to be with. I am 26, 6 foot 2 and 180 pounds. I am told by numerous people that I am extremely good looking. It always seems to be a girl who is already involved or one that I am not attracted to that tells me this. I am a picky person when it even comes to “one night stands.” My friends say that I am not very aggressive when we go out. Part of my problem is that when all of these people are telling me how awesome I am, why don’t those girls come up to me that are single and attractive. Any word of advice on what I should change or do.
Thank you Duncan,
Joe

Women are very intuitive. Unattractive singles and attractive unsingles probably know that you’re not interested in them, so it’s safe to compliment you because they know it won’t lead anywhere. Average looking women probably sense your lack of interest, move past that, and give you a compliment because they aren’t trying to pick you up. Hence, they aren’t risking rejection. But why aren’t the red-hot, single babes hitting on you?

There can only be one explanation – you intimidate them. I mean, look at the facts; you’re 26, you’re 6’2”, you weigh 180 pounds, and numerous people agree that you’re extremely good looking. You’re a friggin’ Adonis. Any woman attractive enough to actually date you is probably too damn frightened to make the first move.

Your friends say that you are not very aggressive when you go out. You should probably work on that. Women love aggressive men. Sure, many women say they don’t like pushy guys, but does that apply to a really good-looking man? I think not.

You need to make yourself more approachable, more human. Find ways to put other people at ease (people like red-hot babes) and then they’ll start hitting on you. What I’m about to suggest is going to sound completely ridiculous to you, but I’m being serious: You should think about wearing some gold chains. Really. A gold chain around your neck says, “Hey, come talk to me, I’m approachable, I’m fun, let’s have fun together!” I think a gold chain might be the answer to your problems. It would make you a little more human, a little less god-like.

OK, OK, I’ll stop. I’m lying my ass off. Frankly, I’m not interested in helping some tall, good-looking narcissist get laid. I’ll tell you why the babes aren’t approaching you. You’re so in love with yourself, they figure you’re not interested in anyone else. Seriously, look at your letter. You don’t say that you’re a good listener. You don’t say that you’re smart. You don’t say that you’re caring. You don’t say that you’re funny. You say that you’re tall and good looking – as if that entitles you to an instant girlfriend. Moreover, you’re so full of yourself, you expect your instant girlfriend to come to you. And you’re picky? Even for a one-night stand? I don’t think you get the whole one nightstand thing. One of the distinguishing characteristics of a one-night stand is the lowering of standards.

Sure, women are almost as superficial as men. But most women need more than just good looks to get their engines revving. So put in some friggin’ effort and don’t expect to coast by on your good looks. News flash! Women rarely pick up men. That’s right, you may have to make the first move. But you’re great looking, so you can relax. Imagine what it would be like to make the first move if you were FAT, or had a big-ass mole on your face.

PS- If you do make the first move, remember to ask her questions about herself. Really listen to her. If you aren’t genuinely interested in what she has to say, leave her alone and find a woman in whom you are genuinely interested. And here’s another idea: Give a second look to some of those single, unattractive women who have complimented you. You may discover they have more to offer you than you originally thought… like soul.

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Self-Actualization

Dear Steve,
You, and all who have written on the subject of marriage, do not have the concept. Yes, far too many ill-prepared fools are getting married, because they are all getting married for the wrong reasons. True LOVE (not romantic love) is is an act, not an emotion. It is a choice. When two people decide that one-another’s needs and well-being are more important than their own, then they will both look out for each other better than they ever could have on their own.
I think that you are right about we North-Americans being too hung up on our own “super-specialness”. This pursuit of self-actualization completely negates the possibility of entering into such a symbiotic relationship, and thus marriages fail. In the end, I think we’ve all been eating too much granola (or maybe we need to eat more).
Signed,
Jim

I admit it, I’m a little tipsy right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do my job. It just means I can’t do my job well. Maybe it’s because I’m wasted, but I don’t get the granola thing. And, where exactly am I wrong on the subject of marriage? I‘m sure that I’m wrong about a lot of things, but you don’t really shed any light on what those things are. I agree that too many ill-prepared fools get married. I agree that true love is an act, not an emotion. Oh wait, no I don’t. Shit, I never really thought about it.

To be honest, my first thought is, yuck. Your mature kind of love sounds more, um, mature. But, it sounds like high school-guidance-counselor-love (not that there is anything wrong with high school guidance counselors). I guess that I want love to be an emotion. At the same time, I can see how it makes sense to want a relationship founded on reason, rather than emotion. I guess. I just have trouble imagining rational sex. Is it as good as emotional sex?

And there’s the rub, right. What drives those ill-prepared fools into the arms of romantic love? Sex. Or money. People who get married for money are incomprehensible to me, so I will not even address them (except to say that they must have experienced a time in their lives when they felt tremendously insecure). Okay, money doesn’t really play into romantic love (I’m pretty drunk right now). That just proves my point about sex, right? Sure.

But do people say to themselves, “oh, I think I’ll marry so-and-so because they light my figurative fire.” No, it’s one of those unconscious things. But you probably aren’t ever driven by unconscious motivations to be with someone you probably shouldn’t. Still, the rest of us are often drawn to someone for reasons that are not entirely rational. In fact, it may be the very primitive nature of our feelings that drives us to do something as inconceivable as share our lives with someone else.

You suggest that self-actualization is somehow part of that North American feeling of “super-specialness”. I disagree. When I spoke about “super-special people”, I was referring to those individuals who feel like any assault on them is an assault on the very soul of truth and justice. For this reason, the super-specials cannot endure any infidelity in their marriages. I don’t remember why I am talking about this, but there must be a point.

Oh yeah. Self-actualization is identical with the idea that we are all equally special and worthy of forgiveness. If I am right, then self-actualization would serve the purposes of romantic love by creating a more tolerant atmosphere in which love could grow. Sorry, that was so hokey. If you are right, and the pursuit of self-actualization completely negates the possibility of romantic love, then we should all do our utmost to avoid romantic love, because it would suck to give up self-actualization. I hope that you are wrong. Because I want to be self-actualized, but I don’t want to be a sixty-year old bachelor who brings pictures of my dog to family reunions (not that my dog isn’t totally cool).

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Sexy Ugly

Dear Steve,
Why is it the men you’re least attracted to are the best in bed? (I had a male friend tell me once he only dated ugly women because beautiful women were lame in bed.)
-Andrea

I hope you’re not too disappointed, but this is the first time I’ve heard that theory. I can only speak from my own experience, and I have not found your theory to be true. That being said, I’ll attempt to explain your experience.

Possibility #1-
Unattractive people try harder. It’s always nice to be appreciated, and, perhaps, unattractive people are more appreciative. Conversely, it might be the case that beautiful people don’t try as hard. I can easily believe this. I have been with some gorgeous women who consider it a tremendous honor just to let you see them naked. That can be a bummer. Still, the best lover I ever had was an astro-babe. Which brings me to…

Possibility #2-
Maybe your friend is wrong. Maybe unattractive men make better lovers, but not necessarily unattractive women. Most men are so damn superficial that how a woman looks is still a big part of their whole sexual experience. Moreover, effort is more essential to a high quality male performance. Most guys I’ve talked to agree that they don’t require a great deal of effort from their partners in order to have a really great time (though it’s always nice). On the other hand, the women I talked to agreed that a little extra effort is always nice. I don’t know what it’s like to be a great looking guy, but I know that I’m lazy. If I thought I could get away with less effort because I was good looking, I’d probably do it.

Possibility #3-
I find it a little spooky that your friend only has sex with ugly women. I’m also a little uncomfortable with the term “ugly women”. Nonetheless, maybe your friend has better experiences with unattractive women because he feels less threatened by them. Maybe it gives him a feeling of control or power. It might be that he is better able to maintain emotional distance from a woman if he is not attracted to her. Any way you slice it, it kind of freaks me out.

Possibility #3A-
Maybe you have better experiences with unattractive men because you are less comfortable with a man you find attractive. Maybe it’s a fear of becoming too attached to someone. However, I’m inclined to believe that unattractive men, on the whole, make better lovers . I’m not going to find out for myself.

Possibility #4-
Maybe it’s some divine law meant to make life more fair. You either get to be good looking or good in bed. I would really like to believe this, but I can’t. A friend of mine is a model, and he has women lining up around the block at two o’clock in the morning. I don’t think it’s just because he’s good looking. You know what I mean?

The Bottom Line-
Brace yourself, I’m about to get pretty corny. I believe that 99% of the whole sexual dealy-bob is chemistry. It’s not a question of who’s a good lover, it’s a question of who’s a good lover for you. Back when I was a complete moron, I hooked up with this one girl because a friend of mine told me that she was the most spectacular lover in the universe. That was not my experience. Likewise, while some women have found me to be an adequate lover, others have sent me brochures with such titles as “How to regain your sex drive” and “Rediscovering your libido”. What works for one person usually doesn’t work for another. Pretty obvious, right?

Whoever your lover is, I suggest you tell him what you like, and what you don’t. It’s such a cliche, but communication is really important. If that doesn’t work, take one of those unattractive love-gods and treat him to a makeover.

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