When Status Trumps Success

status-money-looks-success_DSC9851It always baffles me when people are more concerned with acquiring status that than they are with achieving success.  In today’s world of instant gratification and entitlement, it’s no surprise that America pays attention to (if not idolizes) individuals, not for their success, but instead for their status.

If your aim is notoriety, call up Paris Hilton or a Kardashian sister and start hanging out with them. They have a pretty good grasp on being recognized for achieving… well, nothing. Maybe try out for a reality TV show, or try to beat Tila Tequila as the “most friended” person on MySpace (does anyone use that site anymore?  An outdated reference, for sure, but you get the picture).  Why not be Bruce Jenner’s son, Brody?  What exactly is it that he does?  Or maybe be a Kevin Federline and knock up Britney Spears?  Or how about just two words… Jersey Shore?  Two more… Real Housewives?

Yet, if your true aim is to be successful, and not just someone with status that ranks alongside the list above, might I suggest you choose a passion, choose a craft, choose an endeavor, choose a career…. and pursue it… perfect it.

You have to ask yourself, is it the destination, or the adventure along the way that gets you out of bed in the morning?

Side note: Wasn’t it Linda Evangelista who once famously said, “We (super models) don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day”???  I don’t view her as successful, by the way.  Professionally good looking (if that’s a thing), sure.  But successful in the pursuit of something… no.  Being born good looking is the equivalent of being born a Hilton sister and inheriting a ton of money.  You didn’t earn anything you have, and the status that has arisen from what you have been given is not the result of any real or hard work you have done.

That must be terribly unrewarding?  Sure, you are never left in want of anything, but then again, you never have the satisfaction of feeling what it is like to work for something, to refine it, to perfect it, to earn it… to achieve… to succeed.

And how you must also be lacking in identity when you are tied to a status instead of a success.  I mean, who is Paris Hilton without money?  Just another skinny blonde.  And Brody?  Just some So Cal dude who was gifted the unfortunate bro name of Brody.

But, before I go too far off on a tangent, I digress.  I want to get back on message.  This is about being successful.  About achieving and earning success.  This is about doing instead of being given.

I think David Frost can help me sum this all up nicely.

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost

Thank you Mr. Frost, for being the only name mentioned in this post who actually did anything to grant himself the status he deserves… that of a successful man.

The Willingness to Risk is the Reward

risk-and-rewardNot everyone will share a common vision or belief in your life goals.

And, as it turns out, that is perfectly fine.

Certain individuals you come across in your lifetime (traditionally the small of mind and spirit… those who find themselves to be the slaves to both doubt and fear of failure) will be most vocal about their doubts in your ability for success. Further, some individuals, for whatever reason (and usually a reason you will never know), will even take pleasure in your failures.

And, again, as it turns out, that is perfectly fine.

Everyone is entitled to opinion. And that is where it starts and stops. The opinions of those who doubt your goals and abilities are not prophecies. If anything, the negative opinions a person has of you are simply an indication of the esteem with which you should be holding that person.

In my time, I have found that an undying belief in yourself and an unwavering commitment to your goals, regardless of the opinions of others, is a necessary component to success.

Not everyone is cut out to take risks. Not everyone is equipped to deal with failure. That’s on them. Not you.

I am not risk averse. In fact, I thrive on the uncertainty of outcome in my pursuits. I have failed more times than I can count… but by continually putting myself into arenas with hard edges (those with wins and loses, successes and failures, blacks and whites) I have also achieved a number of things that I will hold dear for the rest of my life… Successes and experiences that have shaped and continue to shape me as a person. Through each endeavor, be it a success or failure, I learn more about myself. And thus, through each endeavor, I experience moments of personal growth.

My advice, if there is any to be offered here, is to surround yourself with like-minded, positive people. Spend your time, effort, and energy with those who support you, and those who are loyal to you. Cultivate the relationships that move you forward.

Life is too short to be stuck in the murky cloudy gray of doubt. So why not pursue your goals and passions, regardless of potential outcome? At worst, you fail… and then wake up the next morning with the realization that the sky hasn’t fallen and that life goes on.

On the other hand, who knows, you might just succeed…

The Outsiders

200px-The_Outsiders_bookWhenever I hear the term “outsider,” I immediately word associate and next thing you know I am throwing out terms like, “PonyBoy, Sodapop, Greasers and Socs, (of course, from the novel The Outsiders)… West Side Story, The Great Gatsby, and dare I say Romeo and Juliet…

And what do they all have in common?  In very simple terms, they all revolve around an “opposite sides of the tracks” storyline… They focus on the difficulty and peril associated with/resulting from crossing those tracks…  They are all stories with sad and tragic end… Cautionary tales of trying to live outside of ones given “place” in life.

To be an outsider is to be without means.  To be an outsider is to be of a lower social status.  To be an outsider is to be of lower socioeconomic status.  To be an outsider is to be lacking in power.  To be an outsider is to be left asking the question, “And what exactly makes them/you so much fucking  better than me?!”

In its basic, purest form, and outsider is exactly as it sounds… it is to be someone on the outside of a seemingly desirable existence, looking in.  If the outsider is you, then whatever it is you want (status, respect, a woman)… you see it, you want it, you likely even attempt a go after it…  But you are quickly reminded by society,  “it is not for you.”

What a bitter pill to swallow.  And many of the previously mentioned stories and their tragic ends result from the decisions and actions arising from an unwillingness to swallow that pill.  (But, in many of these stories, society insists the pill be swallowed and forces it down anyway… tragedy ensues).

But these are not just stories, in the sense of something you would read, say you read, and possibly remember reading it a few weeks down the road.  No.  These are great, widely read, critically acclaimed stories, that you never forget, no matter how long ago you read them.  And why?

Because of the way we can all relate to them.  In some form or other, we all relate.  There is an emotional connection to these stories.  They resonate with all of us.

At some point in time or maybe even what feels like (or is) all the time, each of us can relate to what it is to be and to feel like an outsider.  Maybe the group you want to associate with will not accept you?  Maybe the socioeconomic status you are looking to acquire you have not yet achieved?  Maybe the type of woman you wish you could be with is out of your reach, and you have to settle to see her pass by on the arm of “that guy?!”  Maybe it’s racism, maybe sexism, maybe bullying…

Whatever the reason, we can all relate to being an outsider.

So, before I get too long winded, if we all can relate to these stories of lacking and want.  If we all can see ourselves as the outsider from the wrong side of the tracks.  If we all can relate to feeling we cannot have something we truly desire… then this begs the question:

Who the hell are the insiders?!  And if the outsiders so greatly outnumber the insiders, and the thing that bonds the outsiders is the empathy of shared struggle, what is it that the insiders have exactly that we want?  Beyond status, or money, or some other materialistic or socially constructed entity, what is greater and more powerful than the bond of shared human experience?

What is more powerful than being able to relate to other people?

They say its “lonely at the top.”  And perhaps this discussion of outsiders is just one other way of confirming that expression.  And yet, despite it all, we all climb as high as we can.  We all scramble and hustle and grind…  Trying desperately to improve our expereince, our socioeconomic status, and our social acceptance.

Why?  Well, in short, The American Dream… but that is a post for another day.

Pushing Rope

a211ittlewonderropeIt’s very late.  I am very drunk.  And so is she.  I just met her tonight… an introduction through a mutual friend.  She seems very cool.  But what do we really know about someone we have just met, with whom most of the conversation is alcohol fueled?  She could be the greatest woman on the face of the planet, or the craziest, or somewhere in between.  No way to tell right now.  All I know is that she is sexy… and I want her.  She is tall, blonde, curvy, beautiful, well-dressed, well-spoken, intelligent, and has a sense of humor (and yes, this order reflects the order in which I noticed things about her… not in order of importance, mind you, but in a natural order when you meet someone for the first time).

So again, she seems cool.

The night goes on.  We hop from bar to bar with our friends.  We gravitate more towards one another as the hours pass and the drinks pass with them.  It’s getting late, and the two of us have long since forgotten we were even out with friends.  It’s as if it had been just the two of us since the beginning of the night. A good sign.

Closing time.

As we walk out of the bar I somewhat casually, mostly drunkenly ask, “What should we do now?”  Without hesitation she responds, “You live near here don’t you?”

And with that, we walk hand in hand down a few blocks to my place.  We are met outside by one of my buddies.  He had cut out from the group early to wrestle up some Mexican food, before passing out on my couch for the night (the usual pattern, and a good one in my mind.  DUIs do not sit well on anyone’s record).

So the three of us ascend into my place.  We hang out for a while, watch something on Netflix and we chat with my buddy as he downs his food.  We probably have another drink or two, but at this point I would have no recollection, nor do I care.

My buddy is done eating and the episode playing on TV ends.

And that signals the night’s end… or the beginning of a cruel and hellish journey if you were me.

I lead her into my room.  No sooner do we close the door, she strips off her clothes and jumps into bed (I told you she seems cool).  I do the same.  We quickly press up against one another and start passionately (more accurately, drunkenly) hooking up.  One thing leads to another and it is clearly “go time.”  But, as I reach into the night stand for a condom (safety first, and always), I notice something…

For the first time in my life, I have no feeling down below.  NONE.  There is no mind body connection.  I had simply assumed I was good to go.

I am not.  Not even close.

“This can’t be happening right now!?” I think to myself.

She notices.  She sees (and feels) what is happening.  And in what she likely thought was a sensitive verbal response, but what turned out to be the most devastating words I have ever heard in the bedroom, she says, “Maybe we should just go to sleep?”

I sigh the most deflating sigh.  She rolls over.  I don’t even try to tell her that this is the first time.  But you know what?  IT IS!  I have never had this happen.  Not once.  Not ever.  Never.

I am on my back staring up into the dark ceiling.  And in this moment, I a filled with disappointment and unrivaled shame.  But it only lasts a fleeting second, as the disappointment and shame quickly turns into unadulterated, drunken fear.

In this moment, I am somehow convinced that this condition is permanent.  I am convinced that I will never be able to get an erection again (alcohol fueled logic).

I let a few minutes pass, trying to think of my next move.  I come up with nothing.  I panic.  I jump out of bed and pull on a pair of shorts.  I leave my room and head out to the kitchen.  I stop at the couch along the way.  I wake my buddy up.  “Hey man, wakeup.  Hey!”  He stirs.  I crouch down low, eye level with him.  I look him dead in the face and say, “Dude, I can’t get it up.  For the first time in my life I can’t get hard.”  And as the true friend he is, he looks me back, dead in the face and says,

“Well man… You’re getting old.”

And with that he rolls back over on the couch and shuts me out so he can get back to sleep.

In this moment, I am the loneliest I have ever been…

But I refuse to pity myself, and I refuse to give up so easily and accept my current condition as my ultimate fate. Despite the fear and the loneliness, I reach deep and find my determination again.  I am going to will myself hard if it’s the last thing I do.

So, I stumble through the kitchen in the dark.  I take ever supplement, every vitamin, every protein powder I have and down them.  Multis, vitamin C, zinc, protein powder, you name it.  Down them all, and in massive quantity.  I then open the fridge and grab a Gatorade.  I take the Gatorade with me as I head to the bathroom.

As I arrive in the bathroom, I turn on the light and stare at myself in the mirror.  I am drunk.  Fucked up. Haggard. But I am determined.  I try prodding myself on.  I use my imagination to start.  Yet, despite me trying to picture the most intensely sexual scenarios I can, there is still no feeling.

Time passes.  Minutes become a half hour.  A half hour becomes an hour.  All the while I am hydrating, waiting for the supplements to kick in (like those would actually help my condition?!), and gently, forcefully, gently, quickly, slowly, forcefully… well… offering myself a helping hand, so to speak.

I may well have been using my tears as lubrication at this point.  I am so supremely confident that I have a broken penis and that it will be broken for the rest of my life.

And then, just as I am about ready to call it quits and head back to bed a defeated, shriveled man, I start to feel blood rushing down south.  I start to feel life in my otherwise lifeless member.  I prod it on.  I may have even verbally cheered it on at this point.  I can’t remember.

Can you imagine?!  A naked dude in a bathroom, drinking a Gatorade, masturbating, and drunkenly talking to his penis, cheering it on along the way?!  Yeah, that guy was me.  I’m not proud of it.  But I was going to get an erection by any means necessary.  I had a woman in that room who thought she was coming home with a man, and I intended to prove her right.

How funny a thing like pride can be.  The things pride will make you do.  The things proving your manhood will make you do, for that matter…

There is now enough life in me now that I decide to leave the bathroom and head back to bed.  No guarantees at this point.  She is likely passed out, and over it.  And who could blame her?!  This is definitely not what she signed up for.  All my struggle to regain stiffness may well have been in vain.  But, at this point, I am simply relieved to know that my flaccidity is not permanent.  I will take a working penis as my consolation prize, even if I am not granted the opportunity to prove it works.

I will spare you any and all of the intimate details from this point on.  They really don’t matter, and this isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey.

I found myself reviewing what had happened the next morning.  The most interesting thing I found myself thinking was how interesting is it to discover just how much I connect my erection with my sense of being a “real man?”  When I entered the evening, an evening full of potential and fun, I had no idea that what should have been a simple biological response to a strong stimulus was to become an epic odyssey, a profound physical and emotional struggle.

And this was just a one off for me.  I cannot imagine what it is like for those who deal with erectile disfunction.  It’s no wonder Viagra and Cialis do so much business.  Until my erection was taken from me, if only for an hour, did I truly realize how much I took it for granted.

I am not sure what the take away is here.  I feel for those who deal with this issue on a frequent basis, and am therefore happy for modern medicine?!  I am not a pharmaceuticals guy, but I am beginning to back the little blue pill, and yet hoping I will never need it.  I hope that women who encounter this issue are sympathetic to the the men who are dealing with it.  I have heard women casually state “yeah, he was never able to keep it hard” or “he couldn’t get it up” as a snub, a condescension, a dig.  And trust me, it is!  A direct attack on one’s manhood.  As such, I am relatively sure the woman I was with that night reported to her friends that (initially) I couldn’t get it up either.  And there is an inherent shame in that.  I felt/feel shame that I was unable to perform.  I felt less a man.  So ladies, please tread lightly.

Lastly, I hope you enjoy the ridiculous nature in which I try and overcome things.  I am an overachiever by nature, and have a serious amount of will power.  So yes, this was in fact a ridiculous story of triumph over tragedy for me…  I snatched victory from the jaws of defeat… and got the girl.

America loves a great comeback story, right?

Planting The Flag

pink toothbrush

It’s like any other morning that she has stayed over.  We have been doing this for a little over a month and a half.  “Dating,” or “seeing one another” I guess you would call it.  We have not made anything “official,” haven’t had “the talk.”  It’s pretty nice actually.  No labels.  No drama.  No fuss.  We simply spend time together and enjoy each other’s company.  If only it were always this easy.

On any given morning we wake up, roll around under the sheets, push it until the last possible moment, phone alarms blaring, then spring out of bed… her to her car so she can get home and get ready for work, and me to the coffee machine in my place so I can begin my day as well.  I give her a gentle hug and a kiss, she smiles, tells me to have a nice day, and she heads out the door.

If only it were always this easy.

I check e-mails as the coffee is brewing, take some vitamins, down a protein shake.  A little Facebook.  Online news.  Twitter.  The usual morning routine.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  I head to the bathroom, and as I round the corner, I see it, plain as day.

Why does it have to be this hard???

Hanging smugly, almost triumphantly over my sink, is her toothbrush.

It stares at me.  Challenges me.  Stuns me.

She has planted the first flag.  The invasion has begun.  Shit has gotten real… real fast.

I do what any man in my situation would do.  I FUCKING PANIC.  Not because I don’t see myself with her.  Not because I don’t want to be with her.  But because this toothbrush brings us to an entirely new level.  A level to which I had not yet agreed.  The toothbrush itself is inherently symbolic of the very thing that has allowed our time together to be uncomplicated… the toothbrush is in and of itself, a label… a statement of  her intentions.

In my mind, I am confident it won’t be long before I am surrounded by candles and oils and scents I don’t understand, colors I cannot pronounce, and plants I did not know existed.  I will lose all privileges in deciding housing appearance (“decorating”), I will have more “show” towels (you know, the kind that look good, but can’t soak up a single droplet of water?!) than I know what to do with, I will have more throw rugs and more pillows than any human being could ever need.  And when I only have 1/16th of the closet space I once had, I will look around, accept my defeat, and think back to the day, not so long ago, that the toothbrush was firmly planted on the side of my sink.

This toothbrush, that I stare back at now, signals the beginning of the invasion.

“Come on, man.  She accidentally forgot the toothbrush.  Calm down,”  you might say?!  Oh… really.  When, in the history of time, I ask you, has a woman ever done something “accidentally?”  We need to give women more credit than that.  They are creatures of great ability, with impeccable planning skills, and powers of persuasion (sometimes manipulation) that no man can resist.  Even when a woman tells you she doesn’t know why she did something, in the end there is always some kind of purpose behind it.  Even the accidents are on purpose!  And how can we, as men, defend against it?  Well, if we really truly like the woman and have developed feelings for her, the answer is… we cannot.

And that’s the point.  She didn’t leave her toothbrush behind on day one, or week one, or even month one.  That would be a true accident.  She has brushed her teeth every single night she has stayed at my place over the past month and a half , and without fail has taken the toothbrush with her every time she has left.

But now, here it sits.  And why?

Because I caught the most dangerous STD known to man… I caught feelings for her.  I like her.  I like being with her.  I want to keep spending time with her.  And she can sense it.  She knows.  And she also knows I am male… so she knows I have a deep seated, intrinsic, carnal fear of commitment.  So she knows I will shy away from commitment any chance I get.

And with this knowledge, she plants her flag, not only announcing the impending invasion, but even more importantly, announcing our connection.  It is an unspoken gesture.  She has gambled, and she has gambled correctly, that I won’t say a word about the toothbrush.  After all, that would lead to an actual discussion of “what this is,” a Q&A with questions like “what are we doing,” and  “are we girlfriend and boyfriend?”

And yet, in not saying a word about the toothbrush, I silently submit to a connection beyond just hooking up, dating, and/or booty calls.

This is my dilemma.  I either quietly accept the toothbrush and silently admit that this is in fact becoming something more serious between us, or I confront the situation head on, mention the toothbrush, and get into the ever-dreaded conversation about the state of affairs and labels.

I, as most men would, choose the quiet route.  Why?  It is a way to let her know that I accept things are moving forward, but allows me the “out” in the future to still be able to say “we never talked about this… we never decided on a  label.”

It’s a guys silent relationship parachute.  At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.  That’s how we can sleep at night and not be in constant fear of the commitment we just entered into.  Is it a delusion?  Yes, most definitely.  Because, let’s be honest, if shit does hit the fan and things go sideways, the “we never put a label on this” defense isn’t going to cut it anyway.  Actions will always trump words.  And inaction (failing to confront the toothbrush head one) ultimately serves as an action (conceding to an agreement that the relationship is more than just casual).

But I digress.  The fact of the matter is, I like her.  She is very high quality, we get along great, and I want to spend more time with her.  But, I cannot articulate that to her as simply as I just wrote it in the previous line.  Absolutely not!  Why?  Because I am a commitment-phobe, like the majority of the male population.

So, as the toothbrush continues to sit defiantly on the edge of my sink, I think to myself, “why does it have to be this hard?”  And in the midst of my panic, I find a glimmer of happiness, and I start grinning.

Why?

Because this toothbrush, this flag of defiance, this signal of the ensuing invasion, means she is into me just as much as I am her.

The Next Great American Novel

I’ve written it a hundred times in my head.

Pages upon pages of concepts, ideas, themes, plot and story lines swirl around in my head… minute by minute, hour by hour, day after day after day.  Current events juxtaposed with the pervasive and unifying social themes from time immemorial.  All the makings for an excellent novel…

The next Great American Novel… with me as its author.

And what do I have to show for it?  Nothing.  I have yet to commit a single word of it to paper.

To be sure, all of it is clustered in my mind.  It’s all there.  Completely unorganized, yet immediately accessible at the worst of times… driving in the car, showering, out on a run, during work, in the middle of a dinner conversation.  Everywhere and anywhere that I can think, but cannot act, the novel has been and is being written…  But not on paper.

Oh, it makes so much sense in my head.  It is so powerful.  My commentary on the human condition.  My contribution to a greater understanding of ourselves, of our society.  My calling.  My purpose.  My contribution…

Again, what do I have to show for it?  Nothing.  I have yet to commit a single word of it to paper.

So then, who am I to even begin to presume that I could offer anything of substance, anything worth reading on a blog… let alone a contribution to the American literary collection?!  I mean, come on… I am going to write the next Great Gatsby?  To Kill a Mockingbird?  Or wait, maybe I will just crank out an easy Moby Dick or Grapes of Wrath, and cap it off with the present times version of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?!

I so desperately want to speak about the profundities of the American experience.  But what could I possibly have to offer that would ever be viewed as a contribution to the collection of American Literature?

One day, I have promised myself… one day I will commit it all to paper, in an organized an intelligible way.  I will make my contribution to society… In a literary masterpiece, the likes of which would place my name in the same standing as Faulkner, Salinger, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald.

will write something, the thing, that will resonate in readers for decades and centuries to come.

In the meantime, I guess I will just go for a run after work, take a shower, and drive to meet some friends for dinner.

Look At Me?!

“So you’re a swimmer?”

She was blonde, she was beautiful, she was popular.  And she was talking to me?!

“Um, yeah… Er…. Uh… I mean yes, yes I am.” I try my very hardest to assert some kind of authority over my words, but I can’t believe “Jenny” is talking to me. I am, for the first time in my life, being noticed, like really noticed. And not for my oily skin, cracking voice, and just plain old awkwardness… But for something I do.

“That’s cool,” she says with the kind of casual elegance you would expect from any one of the 80s movie teenage stars I had ever fantasized about. “We have a good swim team, don’t we?” she continues with a smile, as her hair blows gently in the wind, emanating from some fan I am  presently unable to locate.

“Yes, we do have a really good team,” I state with some semblance of authority in my voice. “We won the sectionals last year.  We have a really good shot of winning again this year.”

“Why are you saying weve won?” She asks.  And not in a condescending way, but in a truly inquisitive one. “You’re not on the the Varsity Squad, are you?” This time there is a hint of sarcasm.

“Well, yeah, actually I am. I swim the 200 and 500. I beat out one of this year’s Seniors for the spot.” I am half proud and half scared as I make the announcement. I hang on her every word, as she says…

“Wow! And you are only a Sophomore?! That is really impressive.”

And in that moment, ALL of my self worth becomes tied to my athletic performance. How could it not?! One of the hottest and most popular girls in high school, who just happened to have her locker next to mine, actually spoke to me,  actually offered me recognition for my athleticism. She validated me.  The feeling is intense… a lusty adrenaline filled pride.  I want more. I need more. In this moment, with the words of a popular and beautiful teenage woman, I am empowered.

I now know what I have to do. I have to become the best athlete I possibly can.  This is my ticket to inclusion.  This is the validation that I had up until this point been unable to acquire. The equation became so clear, so simple…  Become a great athlete and people (important people… like Jenny of course, one of the hottest girls at school) will take notice of you, talk to you, accept you…

It is often strange, the things we tie our identity to, isn’t it?  It is strange how we choose to define ourselves.  Stranger still are the discrepancies in how we view ourselves versus how others view us.

Years after my encounter with Jenny at the lockers, a very close girlfriend of mine turns to me during a conversation about life, existence, and contributions to friendships/relationships/society and says, “You know you have more to offer than just your athletic ability, right?!”

I would look at my friend completely and utterly puzzled. How could anyone see anything in me other than my ability to perform in athletic endeavors? What other qualities do I have? No seriously, I had no idea what she was talking about. Not until many more years after my close friend pointed out that I might have more to offer this world than my athletic prowess, did I ever truly understand what she was getting after.  And although I feel I haven’t yet fully figured it out, I have a better understanding that I have the capacity to offer more to this world than my accomplishments.

Going back to that fateful day in high school… All I knew was that in the moment Jenny recognized my ability as a swimmer, she brought me into existence.

And, at that point in my life, that’s all I needed to know. Her validation and acknowledgement years ago made me into someone.  Or perhaps better stated, she set me on a path to become someone.  Showed me the way.  The encounter with Jenny created within me an identity.  An identity  I clung to for years and years. Because of Jenny, I was no longer, well, a no one. I was no longer the introverted high schooler with acne.  I was no longer (as) awkward.  Regardless of the “nod” from Jenny, I was still every inch the introvert.  That didn’t change instantly. And yet, in my brief encounter with Jenny, with validation on my side, I could feel the tide was shifting.

The desire to express myself, to open up, to unveil myself to the world was in motion. It didn’t happen all at once. It was gradual.  From introvert to extrovert… it was a journey.  From high school, to college, and beyond.  But it was one I eventually completed, in only the way a true overachiever could do.  I swung from bashful to confident, from “(PLEASE) don’t look at me” to “HEY EVERYBODY… LOOK AT ME!”  Did I swing too far in the direction of confidence, perhaps to a level of over confidence?

You’re damn right I did!

But you know what? It sure as hell beat the non existence I had lived from Kindergarten to Tenth Grade.

Oh Jenny, if you had any idea what a service, and disservice, you did me this day….

Manscaping

Fellas, in this day and age, manscaping is a must.  In the same way you likely don’t like your woman to rock 70s style body hair (although there are some dudes out there into questionable stuff these days), your woman likely doesn’t want you to be Tarzan, King of the Jungle (in your pants).  In the same way you shave your face or trim your beard/mustache, it is en vogue to do the same with your chest, back, happy trail, and nether region.

Now, just how much manscaping is necessary is open for debate.  From trimming to total removal and everywhere in between, men are faced with the dilemma of just how much is right.  In a lot of ways, it comes back to personal style, and feedback from the ladies. But in my experience, I have yet to meet a woman who is completely stoked on the idea of a twig and berries combo that is completely bald.  The nuclear option,  or scorched earth as it is also known, is a dangerous policy for manscaping.  Men are men.  They come with hair.  A pretty good amount of it, actually.  And pretty much everywhere.  It can either be a hinderance, or you can accept it and play into it and take your manly refinement up a notch by managing the hair you’ve got.  There are lots of man specific grooming devices out there, made specifically to meet the needs of any man looking to trade in his Chewbacca status.

My suggestion is, however you decide to manscape, make sure the length of your body hair does not exceed anything that you think would end up in her having to stop, reach into her mouth, and fish out that rogue hair (if you get what I am driving at?!)

And lastly, if for no other reason, a well manscaped member is good for the illusion of at least one extra inch.  Fact.  So, bring your game up a notch, if not for yourself, for the lady that has to deal with your unkempt self!

Condoms Are Emotional Barriers

Condoms are GREAT! They serve as a physical barrier to potential exposure and contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as a physical dam that would prevent any of your fearless swimmers from setting forth on their journey in hopes ultimately diving headlong into the egg.  At the same time, I also humbly suggest that condoms serve as an emotional barrier.  After all, taking that big step with your significant other and deciding not to use condoms represents a very high level of trust.  And trust is inherently bred from an extremely strong emotional connection to your partner.

So, every time a buddy of mine tells me he had a one night stand and decided not to use a condom, my mind is blown.  Seriously?!  You just met this chick, don’t know her from Eve, and you are gonna throw it in there raw dog?!  I understand how my buddy got there (ending up bare back with a woman they barely know) in so far as for guys there is a massive difference in feel between condom or not.  When I ask a dude why he had adownloadcondom-less one-nighter, generally the response is,  “It just feels so good without a condom, bro.”  Yeah, I know it does.  But you know what else feels so good?  Living STD free without a bunch of unplanned little kids running around calling you daddy.

I really don’t trust any woman who comes home with me on night one (I see the irony, and potential hypocrisy in that statement).  But seriously… if a woman comes home with me on night one, you can safely assume it isn’t her first time doing this sort of thing (despite her protesting, “I never do this kind of thing”.  Um, yeah, sure you don’t).  Furthermore, I really don’t trust a woman who comes home with me night one and says she wants to do the dirty without a condom (and yes, that has and does happen).  Yeah, that’s not for me.  And it shouldn’t be for my buddies.

Condoms provide peace of mind.  The only time that that peace of mind can exist sans condom is when you trust the woman you are with.  If I have sex with you without a condom, I am making a statement that says, I trust you with my sexual health and with my family planning.  After all, there is no pill for men, and that fancy form of contraception known as “pulling out” isn’t always fail proof.

This is all to say that I really see a connection between condoms and emotion.  Now, this isn’t to say that couples who continue to use condoms throughout their relationship do not have a strong emotional bond.  For them, it’s just the chosen form of contraception (especially if a woman doesn’t want to be on the pill).  But, this is to say, when a condom is taken out of the equation, a certain emotional barrier is removed along with the physical, and a statement of trust is issued.

For those of you who aren’t like my “horny health gambling let’s just go raw dog on night one with a completely random woman” buddies, do you feel there is an emotional component to the removal of condoms from the equation in your intimate relationships?

The Time-Traveling Sext-Selfie

Little tip from the pros:

Ladies (and dudes bold enough to send the ever-controversial dick pic), when sexting, don’t be lazy.

When sending a naughty pic, please be sure to send a sexy selfie that you took at either that exact moment in time, or send one taken within an acceptable range of time that you have been seeing/dating/sleeping with the recipient.  Let me explain. For those that don’t know, in this day and age, photos are geo tagged and time stamped. So, when the recipient syncs their phone, and the photos upload into iPhoto for example (which can be categorized by date), you best have it all lined up. After all, there’s nothing better than that, “Oooooooh, look at that topless selfie you sent me, taken…. 8 months ago (and we’ve only been seeing each other a month)… In a completely different city (likely Vegas)… Surely intended for some other dude you were banging at the time (most likely that son of a bitch ex-boyfriend you won’t shut up about).”

Nothing softens a dick faster than seeing a pic you realize some other dude enjoyed a lifetime ago.  So, again, either send current selfies to the dude you are currently with, or learn how to turn off the geo tagging and time stamping for your photos.

This goes for the fellas too… But honestly, does anyone truly want pictures of our junk?