Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

Why We Broke Up

July 13, 2012

PERSONAL NOTE:  Exciting news! Some new projects have come my way (in part, thanks to this blog) so I’ll have great news to share with everyone over the next few months. The bad news, I’ll be super busy so am going to have stop writing this blog for now.  But don’t worry, TONS of funny, insightful stuff coming your way– be sure to keep track of me via facebook, twitter or my mailing list.  All those links are on the home page of!

Last year, I’d been working such crazy hours that I decided to avoid relationships because I didn’t have the time.  Then I met Kim and that logic went right out the window.  After just a few dates I was behaving in ways I never had— I even cancelled a business trip because she was in my bed and I didn’t want to leave.  The people expecting me were mad and I didn’t care.  I was in love.

We spent every free moment together having what felt like years’ worth of experiences in four months— dinner with parents, weekends away– like a microwave relationship.

And then it ended.  Just like that.  One night we rented The Hangover and ordered Thai food, and by the time Mr. Chow got out of the trunk, we were both single again.

It happened so quickly, I have trouble recounting how it went down. There was a disagreement about attending a party and, in a flash, we were both running down our list of grievances.  Turns out that these nine dealbreakers were standing in the way of our happily ever after: 

I wanted a little appreciation

The first time we went out we had a great time— I took her to dinner at a cozy gastropub, then bought cupcakes which we munched while aimlessly roaming the streets. After I dropped her off, I realized she hadn’t thanked me for the evening.  I never would have thought something like that mattered to me but, when it didn’t happen, I noticed.  During our time together, I’d come to discover she had far more enjoyable ways of showing gratitude (her special “wake up kiss” will never be forgotten), but something always struck me about the fact that she didn’t say thanks.

She wanted a little attention

I have a habit of being a crowd pleaser, which reared its head at her dad’s retirement party.  In going to great lengths to cement everyone’s approval and make a good first impression, I apparently “completely ignored” her. I don’t like that Kim felt neglected, but she got all of me when we were alone.  Was it wrong to spread the wealth?

I felt underdressed…in bed

After we’d have sex, she almost immediately put on a tank top and underwear, sometimes even shorts.  I didn’t pick up on the trend initially because she’d also go to the bathroom or get water, so putting on clothes didn’t seem that crazy (although I never did doing those same tasks). By the third time it happened I realized how awkward it was– me completely naked and her dressed for the gym.  Was she uncomfortable with her body? Uncomfortable with mine?  Could this be an extension of her goal-oriented personality. “Sex? Check. Next…”  Whatever it was, it killed the intimacy and any plans for round two.

She locker-talked about me

One night we were watching a Sex & the City rerun and there was a scene where the ladies were describing a guy’s “manhood”.  “How embarrassing,” I said, “I can’t imagine if a woman did that to me.”  She said nothing but had a guilty face.  My stomach sank.  “You haven’t…”  Turns out she had told her roommate, in some detail, what I look like “down there.”  I felt mortified— how was I supposed to look that woman in the eye again? The only thing that made it forgivable was hearing I’d received a positive review.

One word: “Woobie”

We were snuggling on the couch on a lazy Friday night, basking in the glow of that early relationship buzz (“You’re perfect!” “No, you are!”) when she called me “woobie.”  I beg your pardon?

Baby talk is a dangerous animal.  For one, you sound ridiculous so you need to make sure your partner is on the same page.  It’s like dirty talk in the bedroom without feeling the other person out first. My new pet name rolled off of Kim’s tongue so easily I suspected it was a recycled one from a past relationship– I recognized this move because I’d been guilty of it before, calling a current flame “schnoockums,” a term of endearment I’d used with an ex.  Schnukums II let it go without comment, which is how I chose to play this one.  Still, I kept wondering, does she “woobie” everyone? Was I not worthy of the effort to conjure a new (and, perhaps manlier) name?

I kid because I love

I grew up with all brothers, went to an all guys high school and for college attended the beer ‘n sports capital University of Notre Dame.  Coming out of these testosterone dominated environments, typical male teasing became a large part of my character.  It’s not intended to be hurtful– in fact I consider it a sign of affection— but I playfully gave Kim a hard time on a few occasions and she didn’t like it. This was the first time a woman brought this up and, when I thought back to past relationships, I realized I’d always poked fun.  Yikes, do I have rounds of apologetic phone calls to make?

“At the sound of the tone, please leave a boring message.”

If I’m going to force someone to listen to my voice for 30 seconds, why not be entertaining?  As such, I try to leave funny voicemails. Kim’s response to some of my masterpieces: “You don’t have to perform for me. Just be yourself.”  I resented her wish but concurred and began leaving boring “Hey, it’s me. Call me back” messages. And that didn’t feel like “me” at all.

She text-slapped me 

Everyone enjoys the cheesy smiley face or sideways heart, but Kim had a habit of using text messages to convey her feelings of annoyance.  One night, I said I would call after my shows but didn’t get a chance until well past midnight.  I turned on my cell phone to find a sarcastic  “thanks for calling. goodnite.” She had a right to be annoyed, but sending unfriendly texts to someone you care about is bad politics.  I’d have preferred she make sure I’m even OK and let us talk through a problem live. Which brings me to the biggest dealbreaker…

I didn’t address this list (or anything else)

While I really disliked Kim’s text complaints, at least she was speaking up.  I was so intent on things going well that I chose to ignore our issues. Now here we were, picking each other apart.

For a relationship that had so many highlights, it’s incredible to me that it lacked open communication.  I took such a leap in letting myself fall in love and then played a vital role in wrecking it. I can’t help but wonder if things could have worked out differently if I’d acknowledged the cracks before we were at the breaking point. Perhaps I’m just missing her, but I still believe there was more good than bad and I wonder if it really is over forever.  If I figure out that it’s not, this time I’ll be sure I tell her.


Romancing a Man

June 29, 2012

Webster’s defines “romance” as trying to influence someone with personal attention, gifts, or flattery.  I’m guessing a woman wrote that because any man I know would have said “stuff that feels good but isn’t sex.”  Sure both sexes enjoy thoughtfulness (my favorite remains the ex who found one of those Carvel ice cream cake with crunchies in the middle for my birthday, knowing these were the staples of every party I had growing up) but the romantic commonalities end there.  And since your guy might not be as forthcoming about his softer side I’m here to fill you in on how to romance a man…

Get him far, far away

For a man, traveling has the same effect as putting on a tuxedo— we get to act like someone else… or at least a more refined version of ourselves.  Changing up the scenery allows an escape from the routine and, in turn, time for things that get cheated by that grind– like romance.  My “good” relationship went to “great” after a week in Ireland.  Once away, we seemed more in tuned and attentive to each other… plus there’s just something about staying in a hotel that makes everything (and everyone) a little more fun.  Even better, we brought some of that energy home as a souvenir.

Don’t ask, just do

My brother had been cooped up in his apartment all weekend working to meet a deadline when he received a text from his girlfriend: “look outside ur door”.  He did, and found a basket filled with all sorts of snacks and energy drinks.  She was long gone and when he called to tell her to come back, she refused, saying, “Get your work done so we can play later.” People always use the ‘if you need anything let me know”’ line, but she (literally) delivered. He says it’s the most romantic thing a women’s ever done for him.

Make us feel like a stud

One thing that makes us feel like a real man is the belief that we’re keeping you content in the bedroom– so anything that affirms this is romantic, at least by the guy definition. References to how well we kiss, looks of satisfaction when the subject of sex is broached… they all prop up our ego.  And if things aren’t going so great in that department (perhaps you’ve been together a while and sex is getting routine), feeding him a little reinforcement may be just the jolt he needs.

Support his foibles…

My old classmate, Brian, lives a little in the past.  He still talks about the time he scored three touchdowns in a high school football game and his girlfriend’s heard all about it, too.  But at a recent party when she mentioned what a great athlete her man was, Brian couldn’t stop beaming.  It mattered to him and she knew that, so she took pride in it as well.

… and his indulgences

My friend, Dom, lives for the soccer. He even adjusts his work schedule and wears an Italia jersey to watch soccer games.  His fiancée could care less about any of it so when she called him to find out how his team did, he thought she was being sarcastic. Turns out Dom’s beau had genuinely reached out– but declined an invite to a rowdy sports bar for the semi-final.  Hey, she’s not Mother Theresa.

Wake him up naked

Nothing beats seeing you naked so imagine the impact when it’s the first thing we see… but this is supposed to be a blog about romance, you say?  Believe me, you, naked in the morning light will make him swoon.  And then he’ll want to have sex.  Ok, maybe you’re right.

Note:  I’ll be on vacation next week, back with a new blog July 12th.  Happy July 4th!

A Man’s Body

June 21, 2012

Last week I got out of the shower and was going through my 30 second get-out-the-door routine (deodorant, any hair product within reach and a swig of Listerine straight from the bottle), when I caught a glimpse of myself in mirror.  I stopped for a moment and kind of stared– it had been a while since I really looked at myself naked.  “So this is what women see?” I thought.  God bless them, I wouldn’t want that body coming at me but thankfully some women have been open to the idea.

In fairness, I tend to be a hard on myself when it comes to physical appearance– partly because I’m human but also because working in entertainment I am constantly surrounded by attractive people.  Even the most confident person would get a little down.

Thankfully, past girlfriends have generally liked my body.  Among the traits they appreciate is my 6’1” height.  I like being tall– I was only a foot and half when I was born and, having been all the heights in between, I like 6’1” the best.  I can always see at parades and getting things off the top self is never a problem.  Moreover, there’s a perception of authority that comes with height–  I’ve never felt particularly authoritative but I don’t let on.

Another piece of the Michael package that garners positive reviews is my curly, blonde hair.  “Its so fun” has been uttered by everyone from girlfriends to random women at bars who feel entitled to just walk up and touch it.  Women love my hair.  As a result, so do I.

But the parts of my body of which I’m most proud of are never the things women pick out.  I work out in hopes of having strong, masculine arms yet women never mention them.  I remember lying in bed with my then-girlfriend and, as she ran her fingers up and down my arms, I subtly flexed my biceps to solicit a compliment.

“I like your hands.” she said.

What? Who likes hands?  Turns out, women.

One summer I decided I wanted abs.  I practically starved myself, skipped carbs and pounded out every stomach exercise under the sun.  After five intense weeks, I unveiled the results of my toil by asking my lady friend to help me apply suntan lotion (ok, sunblock) at the beach.

“I like the back of your neck.” She announced, while dousing my pale, Irish skin with SPF 50.

I lied there all afternoon, stomach pointing in her direction at all times, and not one mention.  I went out that night and ate an entire pizza.

Alas, I probably think about these kinds of things more than the average man… or do I?  I decided to ask some guy friends how they feel about their bodies (that sentence sounds as odd as the experience turned out to be).  Getting them to talk was no easy task but after promising to change their names and, in some cases, plying them with beer, they opened up more than I expected.  What I learned was fascinating…

“Women find my belly ‘cute’ and I hate it.”, says my friend Kevin, after three beers.  Kevin is a little overweight, always has been. “Sometimes they rub it and make a wish.”  Ironically, Kevin has no idea what he weighs.  “I don’t own a scale.  I just have different size pants in my closet and if I have to wear the biggest ones, I know it’s time to hit the gym.  Or break out the sweatpants”

My other buddy, Gary, required no booze to announce the fact that he likes being a little heavy.  “Extra weight actually makes you appear more powerful, both in business and bars.  Its a lot easier to push through a crowded bar at 220 than 180.”

Both, however, agreed to being a little self conscious during sex.  “Lighting becomes very important.” says Gary. “I prefer none.”

Kevin agreed, “Especially when I’m with someone new, I’m sucking in my stomach and flexing everything. It’s exhausting.    That’s half the reason I like doggy style, I don’t have to hold in my stomach ‘cause she can’t see me.”

The touchiest subject among men, however, was hair. Or, more accurately, losing it.  While I can’t relate to this one, I have a new appreciation for how lucky I’ve been to maintain my curls.

“The hard part is not being bald, it’s going bald.” says Brian.  “For a woman, imagine your breasts getting a little smaller every day until one day you wake up and their gone.”

Along with his hair went his confidence.

“I never had trouble meeting women, but when my hair started to go, so did my self esteem.  I thought, uh-oh I better develop a personality…”

It was right around that time Brian was lucky enough to meet Sarah, a super funny woman who loved Brian’s personality and could care less about his hair.  They’re now engaged. Brian admits, given the choice, he would still take hair, but the whole subject now seems much less important.

So if putting on weight and going bald are the male Achilles, what about those guys who won the gene lottery? I called my friend Matt, who is so good looking women describe him as “beautiful”– a distinction that totally gets other guys’ attention.  (We’re used to hearing the usual descriptors “handsome” or “hot”– but when a dude is so attractive that women have to use a word normally reserved for their own gender, we get rattled.)

Matt was uncomfortable with the premise of my inquiry, which was essentially, “What is it like to be physically perfect?” But I assured him it was for a good cause. And bought him beer.

The biggest surprise was when he confided to me that he actually has trouble meeting women.  “Before I even open my mouth I’m considered a player so they stay away. Meanwhile my roommate– who’s just an average dude— hooks up constantly!”

While Matt does have a heartbreaker look about him, he is truly one of the kindest people I’ve met in New York.  I was almost ready to sympathize with him when I noticed every woman at the next table staring at him. Tough luck, Mr. Beautiful.

So, while guys are probably still more accepting of their bodies than women, they proved far more aware than I ever anticipated.  For my part, I’ve decided next time I’m standing naked in front of the mirror I’m only going to say nice things.  And next time your man is subtly flexing in the hopes that you’ll swoon, throw him a bone.

Sexy Things That Aren’t Sexy

June 14, 2012

Not that long ago, sexy was subtle and usually a variation of something we already knew.  Like the toe ring.  We were used to seeing rings on female fingers so women changed it up.  It was different, simple and fun.  And we liked it.

Lately, however, sexy has gotten way more overt.  Jeans are riding lower, skirts keep getting higher and thongs have become the norm…  as I wrote that, a woman walked into the coffee shop wearing a loose tank top and no bra.  I am pretty much looking at her entire left breast.  Suffice to say men are getting spoiled, not that we’re complaining.

And it’s not just outfits– my gym offers a pole dancing class where women can shake their money makers in the name of exercise.  Some of the women even dress in layers so they can actually strip.  And to think wearing a skirt above your knee was once considered risqué.

But while women continue to knock sexy out of the park in innovative ways (boy shorts, oversized shades), the line between sexy and not so much is smolderingly thin. So if you’ve found yourself doing any of the following you’re not alone… but odds are guys aren’t digging it.  Sure, you’ll always find someone who appreciates this stuff (there’s a reason women still do them) but I bet there’s a far longer list of guys who will thank me for finally spilling the beans.

Animal prints (underwear or outer wear)-

When I encountered a woman wearing cheetah themed underwear at the end of successful date last Spring I giggled to myself— where am I a brothel?  I think these might have been hot in the past but now, well, let’s just say there’s a reason you see this pattern most on Halloween. You’re not a leopard and it’s not 1975.

Jello shots, Screaming Orgasms and other “crazy” drinks –

When my friend Mark’s date ordered a “Sex on the Beach” and shot him a flirtatious look, he got uncomfortable. “She looked at me like this sudden vixen.” He recounts.  “If that’s what you like great but it doesn’t add to your appeal. Want to impress me with your order, do a shot of whiskey.”  It’s true, while fun for guys to watch a girls night out do shots topped with whipped cream, we’re not looking on thinking “now that’s sexy”.  Oh, and everyone in the bar hates when women belt out “wooooo!!!” after.

Breathing into our ear –

There’s nothing sexier than an incidental female breath in your ear but when my last girlfriend intentionally unloaded directly into my eardrum I felt like I was in a wind tunnel. Plus it hurt.  And mixing in fake moan doesn’t help– that’s actually kind of funny.

Playing with our chest –

The male chest is not a sex part so when you spend time kissing that area we get kinda bored.  In fairness, we spend hours licking and kissing things that do nothing for you so I guess we’re even.

Fishnet stockings –

I think these were popular during prohibition.  My old roommate, Gregg, agrees: “They remind me of those 40’s films where a lady is sitting on the piano with a long cigarette.”  Fishnets are a little too vintage for some and for others too brash, “Its like she’s banging you over the head ‘notice me!’” according to my buddy, James.  “I get it, I get it. You’re proud of your legs. For me sexy should be more subtle.”

Not wearing underwear –

This one’s circumstantial– incredibly sexy when it’s just for us but when we find out you spent the whole day that way not so much. See, when you go commando we think you’re ready for action with the snap of a button.  But if you’ve been al fresco at work for 10 hours, it means some other dude was just a snap away.  And that’s not hot.

Happy Birthday to Me(n)

June 8, 2012

Tomorrow is my birthday.  As always, I’m excited about the prospect of spending an entire day celebrating the existence of me but also long for the days of childhood celebrations.  I’d invite the entire school over, we’d play whiffle ball, eat ice cream cake and give presents to me.  My parents planned everything, I reaped the rewards.

Birthdays as a male adult aren’t so festive— an assembly of friends is your responsibility and can feel a tad pathetic (“I’m throwing a party… for… myself.”) Plus friends never know their role– bring gifts? Can I just buy him a shot?  As a result, a lot of guys I know tend to do nothing on their big day as it’s just easier.  And that’s perfectly ok with us.

It’s not so ok, however, when you’re in a relationship.  In fact, most women I’ve dated have taken my birthday more seriously than me.

“What do you want to do?” the woman I was seeing a few years asked a week in advance.

“I don’t know, order food, watch a movie.”

“No!” she practically bellowed. “I want to go out!”

Whoa, whose birthday is it?  Her response threw me but I knew not to resist.  I got talked into some swanky lounge where everyone wore fancy jeans and pretended to listen.  A few of her friends stopped by as did two of mine and, while not normally my scene, I must admit I had a nice time.  Doing something completely different broke me out of my adult birthday malaise– score one for the girlfriend.

Then we went back to her place where she announced it was time for my gifts.  And that’s when the celebration waned.

“It’s a photo album so you can organize your pictures,” she told me excitedly as I opened my second gift.

“Thank you so much!” I said with forced enthusiasm, thinking to myself, “I can write about how this makes me feel in my first gift– a new journal.”

Raised politely, however, I put on a mini-performance about how I’d been meaning to sort through my pictures so this was the perfect gift.  The remaining gifts got no better- two books I suspect she wanted to read and a tweed cap I wouldn’t have worn for money.

I’m not trying to sound ungrateful but it didn’t seem like she factored me into the equation while shopping.  Perhaps she was buying for the boyfriend she wanted?  Regardless of motivation, I never used nor do I know where any of those gifts are today.  So, in honor of my birthday, here are some strategies when it comes to buying a gift for your man…

An upgrade

For three years, I cooked with an old pan that had no handles. (When it was hot, I’d pick it up with a bath towel.) None of this struck me as the least bit odd until the woman I was dating gave me a new frying pan and oven mitts.  The kitchenware made me feel pretty adult— and made cooking a whole lot easier.

Gifting the 2.0 version of something he already owns is nearly bulletproof— nicer wallet, soft towels, T-shirts without holes.  But caution: Don’t try to replace something that has real meaning. My friend Alex still uses the beat-up alarm clock that got him through medical school. When his girlfriend surprised him with a fancy one, he was torn between sentimentality and gratitude. Both clocks are now on display. Alex tells her he just hasn’t read the manual for the new one.

Time with the Boys…

Brian’s wife gave him the “greatest gift ever”— two tickets to a NY Giants football game.  Like a good husband, he assumed he’d be taking her to the game but she refused, insisting he’d  have more fun with a friend.  I was thrilled by her coolness, especially because I wound up being the friend.

They do a lot of stuff together, concerts, etc., but in this instance she played it perfectly.  Drinking beer and yelling is not her idea of a good time.  She has enough confidence in their relationship to know him having fun doesn’t mean she always has to be there.  Her move came back in spades as he must have texted her nine times from the game to thank her then stopped on the way home for flowers.  That’s a win-win.

Something You’d Hate

My mom still hasn’t forgiven my dad for the Christmas when he gave her a suitcase. (“She needed one!” he maintains.)  My pops failed but, when it comes to men, the more useful the gift the better. I’ve loved receiving added memory for my Mac, dry-cleaning gift certificates, but my favorite example comes from my friend Jeff. He used to save his junk mail in a bag and drag it to work to put through the office paper shredder until his girlfriend got him his own. “Now I sit at home watching baseball and shred away,” Jeff says.  He’s happy as a clam, she doesn’t get it at all.

Not sure what qualifies as a good, solidly practical present? If you’d be mad about receiving it, you’ve probably got a winner.

A Massage

There are few things better than a professional massage– someone whose sole mission is to totally relax you and wants nothing in return.  “The only problem…”, says my buddy Hank, “my always girlfriend thinks something sexual will happen.  Maybe at those sketchy places by the airport but a nice spa?”  Professional massages aren’t sexual at all, they just feel great.

And if you’re still not convinced do what my last girlfriend did, come along.  She booked “His and Her Chocolate Massages”–  we went into a room together, got completely naked (already a great gift) and then lied side by side as two masseuses doused us in chocolate.  I was skeptical at first but it was sexy, romantic and a nice prelude to the dessert she gave me when we got home.