If There Was A Problem, Yo, I’ll Solve It!: Convenient Solutions to Common Interpersonal Problems

1318978832I remember the first time I heard somebody explain to me how they were going to keep their potentially enlarging spouse or significant other in shape over the years. Okay, that’s not true, I don’t remember the first time I heard it at all. But I do remember the plan:

“P, for reals dun son, as we get older, I’ll just park further and further away from the entrance of wherever we’re doing. Every day will just be like a German Volksmarch, exept without the beer and patch at the end to validate the event. If I’m lucky, it will have the effect of hearing Kendrick Lamar’s verse on “Control” over and over again for the next 20 or so years.”

Because the first time I heard this I was likely in high school, a solid 60 percent of that quote is made up. It’s like The Butler, except not 2-plus hours long. By the way, The Butler was a good movie.

Moving on, for righter or wronger, the idea behind doing something relatively benign to achieve a greater good isn’t outlandish. Sure in the case presented it always seemed a bit mean spirited, but you can’t break dance without Turbo and Ozone. And this can go both ways. We all saw Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Aunt Viv kept her figure no matter what color she was and Uncle Phil did too….

*cues Jazz being thrown from the hiznayee*

Well, this got me to thinking about other convenient solutions to issues you might confront in your relationship. And I’m not talking about significant problems, just more…differences between you and your other. Or just the other person with you at the time.

You need un ejemplo right? Is that example in that Spanish? I really don’t know. I could look that up. I totally didn’t.

Problem: The Non-stop Vocalist Non-Singer

So you ever been in a car with somebody who HAS to sing every damn song that comes on if they know it. Except, they ain’t no singer. Nor are they a a rap-singer. They justa be f*cking your entire driving experience with their 27-octave non-range and liberal interpretation of C-notes. It’s almost like singing on-key hurts more than off-key. Well this is a problem, albeit one you can learn to live with…if off note don’t bother you much. If they do, however, you need a solution pronto.

So what’s the solution? Well, you introduce them to new music. In the car. While you’re driving. Basically,  you make sure they hear music they DON’T know the words to so that they CAN’T sing them, all the while introducing them to some new music they will eventually slaughter. Of course, anybody who knows a non-singing singer knows, they will attempt to anticipate words with the music they don’t know so that they can sing, but it will happen less frequently than playing Beyonce, Justin Timberlake or Michelle Obama speeches.

Problem: The Opposites Attract Phenomenon

Say you forego conventional wisdom and decide to date somebody who stands at polar opposites in any number of stances: religion, politics, sexual deviance, cereal brands, favorite Jordan’s, etc. Well, there will come a time – many a time actually – where you will argue incessantly about these things. People have a need to have their opinions validated. Or discredit those ideas for which they don’t agree. I mean why ELSE do you think those Klondike commercials are so popular. Wait. What? If that made any sense to you, you smoke too much weed.

Anyway, here’s the most plausible solution here: not talking about it is out of the picture, it possibly encapsulates too much of your own personhood to pretend it doesn’t exist. Nope. you need a “certain topic safe word” like “tassle” or something. When you feel yourself getting too wrapped up in a convo, you just yell our your safe word and you both have to immediately take a time out for love and revisit the topic later. Or, after saying the safe word, you must engage in some naught behavior or something, you nasty fish you. Point is, in the midst of contention you must still express love. None of that J. Edgar Hoover stuff like the time he broke he and Tolson’s agreement to dine every evening. All because he was in his feelings. Just terrible. Just damn terrible.

Problem: The Temperature Soul Wrangler

You ever meet that person who is always either cold or just damn hot? Like they’re never Los Angeles in January. Nope they’re either Arizona in August or Michigan between January and December at all times. Of course, you being the even keeled weather respecter that you are  would end up with somebody like that.

So how do we fix this issue that so that both of can live and be happy? F*ck blankets and fans. Naw kid, for the person who is always hot, give them free reign of the AC for a month. Then hand them the bill. I’m sure their body will fix itself. Real spit, I got one of THE most egregious power bills one month where I had a family member staying with me for like 3 weeks. Trust and believe…sh*t got real. For the person who is always cold? Just get them those hotfeets footysocks that seem like they’ll electrocute you. Hopefully it doesn’t but as long as their feet are warm they’ll be okay.

Those are some convenient solutions to common interpersonal problems. What other solutions do you have? What are some common problems that need solutions that require some nuance and cleverness to avoid bloodshed and yelleration?

Holla at a playa.

Smile, it’s almost September.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka lower.case.p aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

“Come Through” And Chill: In Defense Of The Cheap And Lazy-Ass Date

"So what if these bottles are empty? I had to use all of the water on my hair before the date."

“So what if these bottles are empty? I had to use all of the water on my hair before the date.”

***Good day, everyone. We have another new guest poster (or is it guest postee?) today. Please extend a warm VSB welcome to Maris***

I’ll admit it; I’m a lazy dater. I didn’t start that way, though.

After being off the market for a while (How long? Well, the last time I was single, Stringer Bell was still alive.), I found myself plunged into unfamiliar territory as I tried anew to navigate the single life. Approaches were replaced with pokes, talk sessions were replaced with texting, and courting was replaced with…

The Check Slide.

I’ll never forget the first time. I was sitting across from “E-Date Dude” after dutifully engaging all evening—whilst learning the valuable lesson that witty online=/=witty IRL— when the check came. Now, I haven’t been out of the game long enough to forget the customary “purse reach,” but I was unprepared for what my eyes met with when I lifted my head back up:

The check, in front of my plate, with his half under it-in cash. Like, actual cash. Like, “this negro was thoughtful enough about his cheapness to go to an ATM, get two twenties, and go to a store to get a Snapple so he’d have enough singles and quarters in change to pay exactly half. “

I convinced myself it was a fluke. That is, until a movie date with another guy, where upon arrival I learned he was already in the theater (“Just grab your ticket, I’m inside!”). Or the beer date, where I split a six-dollar check. I’ll spare you the rest. I was baffled.

Upon whimpering on my guy friend’s shoulder (and his girlfriend, c’mon people) he admitted that some men try to “wait” to see if you’re worth spending money on. As in, they want to have invested as little as possible in case they see no return. I went from baffled to livid.

See, dating has never been easy for me. I’ve always found the whole “sprucing up” thing a chore, but at least I was putting the effort in for a purpose. I always thought women spent a certain amount to look their best, while men spent a certain amount to show women the best time, for a first date. All’s fair, right? So if you’re making sure you get the pleasure of my company with the least amount of effort, why am I wasting all this moolah on hair and outfits?

The way I see it, if we’re going to be going Dutch until you deem me “worthy of the investment,” I’d much rather start the tab at zero.

***sidebar: is “going Dutch” an offensive term, like “Indian giver”? If I’m in Amsterdam and suggest we go halfsies, will somebody punch me? Moving right along….***

So the next time I was asked to suggest a location, I picked a dessert spot by my house, let my natural hair fly, took all the pressure off… and had a ton of fun. Truth be told, maybe they were on to something. Maybe in all that effort to work on our ‘representatives’ we forgot the point of a date was to get to know a person.  I’d much rather find out we can’t hold but ten minutes of conversation in front of a food truck than across a table at a two-hour dinner. Maybe some things are best left until I learn I want to spend more time with you.

There are some that argue if I never “act” like a prize, I won’t get “treated” like one. That what I tolerate the first date will be the way I am treated throughout. I say if all I have to look forward to are laughs and great conversation, I’m good. You don’t need to take me to a five-star, and I don’t need to pour myself into a cocktail dress.  No offense, but I’d much rather make all that effort and look all special to go on a date with someone I’m actually, well….dating. Until then I’ll throw on jeans and a tank (or a sundress if you catch my lazy @$$ on a hot day) and a swipe of lip gloss and meet you for ice cream in the park.

***You can find more of Maris at Black, Latina and Fabulous, where she writes about stuff that Black, Latina, and Fabulous people write about and shit***

Let’s Talk About Serial Monogamy, Mmkay Pumpkin?

F*ck n*ggas. Get money. F*ck b*tches. Get money.

F*ck n*ggas. Get money. F*ck b*tches. Get money.

The Best Man is one of my favorite movies. Not because I relate in any particular way to any character, though I feel like most menfolks with groups of friends probably fit in one way or another to a central character in the movie. It’s actually a good movie. Which is why I’m saddened that the sequel looks worse than Kanye West manhandling a paparazzi while news outlets report that George Zimmerman is a humanitarian and all around hero.

Seriously, Kanye can’t fight. He wasn’t even trying to fight dude, but he totally looked like he can’t fight. Reminds me of Tupac in Poetic Justice fighting Chicago. We know Tupac could throw them hands because he whooped The Hughes Brothers asses, but he didn’t look like he could…at all.

Well, The Best Man was the first time I’d ever heard the term “serial monogamist”. Harper was the king of leaving women strung out. According to Quincy, he’d get into these jive-ass public relationships, then as soon as the woman stepped outside of his little box, he’d kick them to the curb…presumably to do the exact same thing a short time later to somebody else. Which to me means that the general premise is that a person, more than likely to be a man, who bounces from serious relationship to serious relationship, without fully taking the time to process the previous relationship OR fully vet the new one.

Basically, its like a lot of stories we heard about folks who got married frequently because they clearly didn’t know that you didn’t have to get married. *coughRichardPryorElizabethTaylorDonaldTrumpcough* Or in this case, that you can just date people without fully committing until the time is right, and you don’t HAVE to do that right out of a previous relationship.

Let me switch gears for a second here. While I think that most women take the time to properly process a significant breakup or at least don’t quickly rush into new relationships, I’m not sure most men do or care to. We tend to just keep it moving. It becomes about sex as opposed to connection. Women don’t usually go that road. At least not to my knowledge. But something I have noticed is how little women seem to care that man is freshly out of a relationship. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – I’m not, I’ve got enough anecdotal evidence here to convict and get the chair – but a significant number of women don’t seem to truly care how long an available man is out of his last relationship, they just care that he’s not in one. It could be a few weeks or a month. If she wants him, and he’s “available” she seems to be willing to take a shot, clearly hoping that he’s moved on.

I’ve seen and witnessed it with my own two eyes. To be clear, I do think there is something to be said about taking some time to get your life together. I think most of us men, myself included, could probably stand to do a lot more self-reflection. Not all, but most of us. But…and Tamika got a big ole butt…if you are newly single, and this super bad chick comes into your galaxy and is trying to get with you, and you’re a relationship type of guy, its not hard to see who you might fall RIGHT back into the same pattern you just exhibited. You can tell her you just broke up with your girl and she’ll ask why. Then she’ll ask if you’re over the ex? Pretty much as long as you don’t longingly look towards the left, right, sky, or Hell, and take too long to answer, she’s going to accept what you say as law. Remember, she’s pretty much already invested.

The point…of it allllllllllllllll…is that clearly being a serial monogamist isn’t ideal, but if women are quick to try to make that thing work so quickly how can we blame a man for going that route. Assuming he’s a relationship guy. The other side of this is a dude who never commits and keeps these women strung out on hope. Like Obama. I’m not blaming women for this as a man, seemingly should just take some accountability, but if we are able to get over women quickly – which it seems like most men are, whether that makes us dbags or not is up for debate, I’m going to say it just makes us different than our women counterparts – then why does any man need to be NOT committing to somebody new who has made it clear that she doesn’t care that he just got out of a relationship in the first place, leading to hopefully something bigger in the second place, though it likely won’t make it t the third place because he aint properly see if he could make it in the fourth place which basically, my ninja, PLEASE STOP F*CKING WITH THE OCEAN, MY NWORD! (gives a new meaning to the word “selfie” doesn’t it, nature be on that bullsh*t.)

Assuming my definition holds water, serial monogamist are dangerous because they actively entertain and commit to women largely in name only, as they’ve usually got one foot outside of the door. Is my definition correct? If so, what’s a reasonable amount of time for anybody to wait to get into a new relationship? But does that even matter if you ain’t reflecting anyway? Can women be serial monogamists?

IS THERE A CURE FOR IT?!?! And most importantly, why would anybody f*ck with the ocean?

Talk to me. Petey.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. I’M JUST GON’ LOOK AT YOU IN THE OCEAN FROM HERE aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Represent, Represent: This Is Me. This Is Me Meeting You.

My rep looks a lot like MC Gusto.

My rep looks a lot like MC Gusto.

So you know how folks say that when you first meet somebody and start dating, etc, that its your rep calling all the shots and being front and center? Well of course I believe this. I also believe in magic and miracles. Oh, and that I can fly. I totes can fly.

Or at least my representative can. My representative can do anything he sets his mind too. My representative can whip your representative’s ass and then tell you a gallant tale about the time he cut Joe Louis’s hair. Or something like that.

Thing is, while most of us do fully intend to be our true selves, we mostly bring the version of ourselves that we love to the table. See, while I can be remarkably jovial, the truth is, most times I sit alone in my four cornered room staring at candles. But if ever I go on a date, well I’m going to be the happiest go luckiest mofo lowdown around this town. There’s nothing wrong with this, believe it or not because both people tend to bring their reps to the table.

Sure she can’t cook, but she’ll talk about her favorite thing to cook that one time she cooked. No, he can’t change a tire, but he’ll overstate how helpful he was that one time he watched his boy rebuild a transmission and how it made him feel like a man.

Recently I got told that I “play a f*cking character online”. This made me think of my representative. So here’s the rundown of the Panama Jackson rep. [Sidenote: I'm pretty consistently the same person in person that I am online, or at all times in general as I suppose most people are...but its always fun to do some self-analysis.]. Who is my representative?

1. He talks passionately about politics

I’ve said before that I couldn’t care less about politics; ironic considering my employment. But he can wax philosophical about current events, political disposition and name at least 50 Congresspeoples.

2. He relates to foodies

You know who isn’t a foodie? Moi. In fact, I’m so unfoodiesque that I openly eschew fancy pants little exclusive restaurants for wings. A ninja like me, likes wings. But, interestingly enough, I’ve been to and tried an inordinate number of swanky, expensive bistros and places that only use cloth napkins. Real talk, as long as the fancy ass restaurant has wings, we can go there any time of day boo.

3. He’s into home decor and interior decorating best practices

Okay, this one might actually be true at all times. HGTV really is my channel. Hmm…

4. He likes Robin Thicke

I can’t for the life of me figure out why people love Robin Thicke, but my representative can find some appreciation for a few songs of his. Though I can’t lie, this all goes bad as soon as the discussion turns to “Lost Without You”. That’s the point where I give up on it all and start singing the praises of “Pop That” and why French Montana, while being detrimental to mankind love the kids as much as Wu Tang.

5. Doesn’t know who David Tutera is.

Aha…the opposite day one. Can’t come off as too into stuff like “Say Yes To The Dress” at first right? Women scoff at stuff like this at first then, expect you to want to watch it with them later. Funny how time flies when you’re making love this stuff works. Seriously, can somebody explain that one to me?

So while nobody condones lying, and I definitely believe everybody should be themselves. And to be clear, these are all parts of me just not the parts I spend the most time developing of myself. I think we all bring a certain version of ourselves to different tables. So who sits at the table when you first meet somebody new? And don’t pretend like everybody’s perfect. It’s Friday…

…who’s your rep?

Petey Jakes. Out. <—- That’s my rep’s name. He’s a rapper.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. OH NO HE DIDNT YES HE DID aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

60 Days? Try 60 Seconds: Why Age Makes Us Easy

"Where were you when I was 19???" "In middle school."  "Oh. Nevermind, then."

“Where were you when I was 19???” “In middle school.” “Oh. Never mind, then.”

While on Gchat with Panama last Thursday, he showed me a couple sex-related quotes with considerable overlap that he was going to include in his Friday post. One had to do with the fact that the older you get, the “easier” it seems to have sex. The other was about the idea that those arbitrary 60 to 90 day waiting periods some women set on new potentials before considering sleeping with them are usually null and void if she likes you enough. Basically, be her Jay-Z.

I (obviously) agreed. In fact, I’d bet that if we polled all the 30+ men and women on VSB, most would agree that it’s substantially “easier” (more on why “easier” is in quotes a little later) to get someone you actually like in bed now than it was when you were 21. Ironically, for those who went to college, this theory still may hold true despite the fact that you might have literally lived within four blocks of thousands of eligible singles at that age.

Anyway, while I have no doubt that age makes us easy, I spent all weekend (and by “all weekend” I mean “the 240 seconds it takes me to drive from my house to Giant Eagle“) thinking about why. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

1. Sex Just Doesn’t Matter As Much

Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok. Put down your pitchforks and rotten tomatoes. I don’t mean that age makes sex meaningless or unimportant or irrelevant or any other adjective you’d use to describe Swizz’s role in the Magna Carta Holy Grail spot. Sex is great and wonderful and magical and murderous and shit.

But, as a grown up, the actual act of having sex with a new person just doesn’t have the same gravity as it does when you were younger. As you get older, sex morphs from that THING that has a tendency to define a person’s social status and their entire perception of their own self-worth to a thing that people who like each other (or just happen to be drunk next to each other) do. Or don’t do.

And, when you remove all the social baggage—as age tends to do—getting some becomes less overwrought with metric tons of external and internet conflict and context and just, well, easier.

2. You’re Better At Vagina Vetting (and, um, Penis Protecting)

I imagine that most of you reading this have at least a few people in your dating histories that make you cringe, crack up, or cry (or all three) when thinking of them. These don’t even have to be people you dated seriously. Maybe it only lasted for one date, but you shake your head at the fact that you even accepted an invitation from that guy at the bus stop with the plait beads and the Coogi jumper who wrote your number down with a magic marker.

No one is above this. But, hopefully those types of stories happened more often when you were younger. As you get older, though, you (should) start to get more of a grasp on what you like and don’t like. Maybe you don’t have the exact answer yet, but the spectrum of what you’re willing to consider gets smaller and smaller each year.

As the spectrum shrinks, you’re less likely to interact with people you know you have absolutely no future with. Naturally, this makes you more likely to date people you actually like. And, if you’re spending more time around people you actually like, you’re probably more likely to like them enough to sleep with them. You’re not necessarily “easier,” just more thoughtful about dating people you could be easy with.

3. You Just Know More About The People You Consider Sleeping With

2007 was the last time I did a cold, context-free approach. I’ve met/approached numerous different women in that time period, in numerous different venues, and in numerous different manners. But, in each situation, there was some commonality. Maybe we were at a house party and shared friends. Perhaps we were at a happy hour and belonged to the same professional organization. And, maybe we knew who each other were before actually getting to know each other.

Point being, it’s extremely rare for me to meet someone new without any type of back story. And as I get older, it’s becoming rarer. (I am a pretty big deal and shit.)

Perhaps this doesn’t happen as much in cities with higher populations or with people who travel more often than I do, but I bet my experience is more the norm than the exception.

I’m bringing this up because this familiarity—even if it’s faint—causes us to relax ourselves a bit more than we would with someone completely new, and this relaxation tends to lead to quicker asswaxation. Maybe we don’t knowknow them yet, but we know where they work, know who’s in their circle, and know that we have 118 friends in common on Facebook.

And, like with all other things, context can be good (more informed choices about who we actually decide to date) and not so good (“I know I shouldn’t hit it raw, but she’s a lawyer and a Delta so we’re probably good.”)

4. You Give Less F*cks

And, when you give less f*cks, you do more f*cking!

5. The Power Shift

At the risk of offending 77.8% of the people reading this, I’ll keep this short. When younger, women (generally) wield most of the sexual/dating power. The first 21 or so years of most men’s life is a perpetual quest for “Yes.”

The power dynamic starts to shift as we get older, as (generally speaking) “committed relationship” replaces “sex” on the top of the “Thing Wanted More Than Anyone Wants Anything Else” list.

This change, um, changes things.

(And that’s all I’m going to say about that.)

.—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)