Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why I am Embarrassed to be Part of the Human Race

My morning commute - remember, 3 years with essentially no rush hour so I'm still adjusting - makes me hate the human race. I think as a species we are ridiculous. I find nothing more maddening then driving. And stopping. Sitting. Driving 10 feet. Stopping. Sitting. My 12 mile commute sometimes takes an hour. And inevitably I find my evil brain actually HOPING for something interesting. Maybe the zoo was transporting a truckload of monkeys and they escaped! That would be exciting! I'd be willing to sit in traffic for an hour to get a look at that.

Alas, no. This morning it was three police cars pulled over onto the shoulder. The three policemen were standing outside their cars, chatting. Why you'd want to inhale exhaust fumes when you don't have to is beyond me, but maybe somebody called an urgent meeting. That's it, folks. That's the big excitement. Oooooh, aaaaaah. I guess if you don't get out much, three policemen in one place is a pretty big deal.

I give you that perhaps at one point there was something exciting - a truckload of monkeys or even an escaped python! (Can you tell my mom took a small child to the zoo yesterday? Obviously my subconscious is still thinking about this zoo visit.) But whatever it was happened to be long gone by the time I drove past. And I refuse to look. I refuse to be a gawking rubber-necker because I think it degrades us all. Wow! Shiny! Cars! People! Must. stop. and. stare for minutes. By the time I get to work I am exhausted and want nothing more than to put my head down on my desk and take a little nap.

As Mr. J. says, "Oh, boo-freakin'-hoo. Welcome to my world." So sympathy is in short supply around here.

There's a bottle of wine downstairs with my name on it. (Well, not really although that would be a nice Christmas gift.) I think I'll go pour myself a big glass of sympathy right now.



Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thank You

Considering all that is going on in the world right now, I truly appreciate the time everyone spent to help me with my teensy-weensy little "problem."

There were so many different opinions, but all sincere and I guess it makes me realize there really is no one "right" way to do this, although some ways are more mature than others (like my not answering her calls).

I had a message waiting from her tonight. She said she was starting to get concerned that I had fallen off the face of the earth. I returned her call and left a lame-ass voicemail like a big girl.

Your advice did help me answer some bigger questions, though. Perhaps most important is, "Do I care to salvage this friendship?" And I've had a long time to mull it over (I think since Tuesday, right?) and I think we're just not a good fit.

Another example: She constantly puts down her step-daughter to me, and I almost fell out of my chair the last time we talked when she said, "Abby is just such a selfish child." And it was after that conversation I stopped returning her calls. I had heard iterations of this before but nothing quite so bold and my response in the past has always been, "She's 13. It's in her job description" or, "She's a child and you're expecting adult things from her that she can't developmentally perform. You're not calling your baby 'stupid' because he can't hold his head up yet, right?" (Well, okay, I didn't say that last part about the baby).

In the past 2 years, I've started to feel like a broken record, "She's the child; you're the adult. Joe's her father; they're not peers. This is such a tough age." And on and on and on. I think I realized in that conversation that she is who she is. And I don't think she'll change.

Momentary aside: I do not pretend for one second that I actually know jack shit about parenting. I have other friends who are stepparents and all I can say is that it looks like about the hardest, most thankless (or second most thankless after "mom" but I guess that depends on who you're talking to) job in the world, right up there with garbage collector and meat-packing employee except there is no pay and the benefits are horrible. However, I cannot listen to someone talk trash about a child who is pretty much a hapless victim in a rotten situation and agree that yes, she's pretty dumb and of course, your husband/her father will NOT pay for her college because why bother? Oh, and aren't you a saint for throwing her a birthday party and yet you can't believe that you have to remind her EVERY morning to make her bed. She's a complete nightmare. Can you imagine? A child who has to be nagged constantly to do the simplest of things? (Her kids - perfect, of course - are 3 years and 11 months.)

Wait, where was I? I guess that was bothering me more than I thought it was.

Anyway, I've not come to any firm conclusions except as someone smarter than me once said, "The easiest thing to do isn't always the right thing and the right thing isn't always the easiest." Or something.


Monday, October 22, 2007

If I Have Any Readers Left

I know they made a whole Seinfeld episode about this, but how do you break up with a friend?

I'm especially nervous because I was once on the receiving end of a friend break-up (she sent me a "You've changed, have a nice life" letter) and it hurt like hell. I suppose even more than the loss of the friendship (10 years) I felt humiliated and like a fool. Apparently (according to the letter), we'd been "growing apart for some time" (news to me).

So I don't want to do this to my friend. In fact it's the last thing I want to do to her. I've been taking the mature and thoughtful route - not returning her phone calls. Instead of getting my lame-ass hint, she calls and leaves more demanding messages, "Um, Hell-o! I've left you a few messages now. Call me back." Her messages are only slightly less pleasant than ones you might get from a bill collector.

I suppose I could sit down and have a chat, but what would be the point? She is who she is, I'm not interested in changing her and it's not like there's this long list of "crimes."

Okay, maybe there is. Let's see:

  • She makes snide comments about Mr. J. and once actually said, "So, you guys don't ever really like, do anything, do you?" in reference to the fact that we don't travel much (or ever, what with all the house stuff.) Not traveling is one of the biggest crimes one can commit in her eyes and we are guilty, guilty, guilty!
  • Mr. J. took a week's vacation to tile the bathroom. Her comment, "Oh, so that's what he does with his vacation" in the snottiest tone possible. Translation: Clearly you don't go anywhere or do anything so this is how you burn vacation time.
  • Do I need to mention the babysitting? She seems to be under the impression that a.) since she pays for daycare during the week, she shouldn't have to pay for childcare at any other time. Her daughter will be four in March and to my knowledge she has only paid for a babysitter once. I got sucked in the first time by "Do you have plans tonight?" No, I didn't. What was up? Dinner and drinks later? "No, thank goodness. Now you can come over and watch the baby. I have to mow the lawn and then husband and I want to see a movie." That I only fell for once, or maybe twice. Now when she says, "Do you have plans Saturday morning?" she's not asking because she wants to go shopping (or maybe she is) but my standard response is, "What did you have in mind?"
  • Do I need to mention the highly annoying voicemails demanding an immediate return phone call because she's trying to "organize coverage for the babies." I'm not getting a Ph.D in baby-sitting. Also, one of the many reasons I don't have children is so I can spend my free time exactly how I want to spend it. I don't need you begging me to watch your kids (for free, always for free) because you and your husband need to go to counseling. (Well, that one's my fault. I get sucked in because I'm a neurotic mess and the only person who likes a doormat is someone with dirty feet.)

I could go on, but the point of this entry wasn't (believe it or not) to completely defile this person's character. I just want to know how to terminate a friendship in a way that is least hurtful for the other person. (And to be fair, right now I have a bit too much pent-up resentment to discuss anything calmly with her anyway so that may not be an option for a while.)

Have you ever had to end a friendship? What did you do? Have you ever had someone end a friendship? What did they do? What was the outcome? I'd like to hear your stories, please.