Monthly Archives: February 2011


Everyone dies alone, cat wee or no cat wee.

Dear Captain Awkward,

My libido has largely picked up and walked off somewhere else. I’m waiting for it to come back from a trip to the corner store to buy cigarettes, but so far it hasn’t showed up.

It started in my late twenties after a series of flopping relationships and three years later I’ve hit my thirties and haven’t had sex in about three years.

The trouble is, I’m at a point where I’m looking ahead at the rest of my life and I don’t really feel like dying alone with seventeen cats. I only have one now, but we know how this story usually goes. Plus, while I don’t miss sex, I do miss affection and sleeping in the same bed with someone.

I also miss my younger, more libidinous self. She was a lot of fun and I have some great stories because of her, but I genuinely don’t know if she’s ever going to open the front door, Fantasia’s in hand, or not.

I’ve thought about exploring sluthood. I think it might have the ability to re-awaken my dormant sexuality. But unfortunately, where my body goes, my heart often follows and I don’t want to put my emotions through the kind of rollercoaster it might entail (which, now that I think about it, may actually be why I stepped off the sluthood boat years ago). On the other hand, there’s a whole world of human experience, monogamous or slutty, I am missing out on and I think that sucks.

Option #1 sluthood=libido=emotional rollercoaster/soul-sucking loneliness and despair/fantastic sex/valuable life experience. Option #2 long-term relationship=no libido=companionship/awkward sex due to lack of libido/inflicting my lack of libido on some poor guy resulting in relationship trouble, or Option #3 get another cat.

Are there other options I’m missing?


Dear Conflicted:

I’m going to try to answer your question without once using the words “get your groove back,” but you need to do me a favor, too.

I don’t know how cats became the ultimate metaphor for sad, lonely spinsterhood and dogs became the symbol for carefree happy couplehood, but cats are just cats and dogs are just dogs.  If you like cats, have a cat.

In my entire checkered past of dating, I’ve met exactly two dudes who were uncool with cats. One had a severe allergy.  Understandable. One made a joke about how he was hoping that I didn’t have a cat, since  I seemed really cool and he had trouble meeting cool chicks without cats, possibly as a Pick-Up-Artist-style trick to lower my self-esteem to get me to talk to him.  You know how you don’t get me to talk to you?  Pass off a shitty, lazy stereotype about single women in the hopes that I’ll try to prove that I’m not like all “those” women.  I was exactly like “those” women.  My answer was something like “Oh man! You’re right, I AM really cool, but I also have a cat.  Too bad!  We’ll never know what might have been.”

So your first step towards getting your mack back is to stop defining yourself as the the sad media picture of lonely single women whose singleness is a disease that needs to be cured and your cat is just one of the symptoms, like a furry tumor.  Even in a joking, self-deprecating way.  Even if Liz Lemon does it.

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Neat people recommended awesome stuff, which I am now recommending to you.

1) Awkward Embraces, a web series about geek dating, which my friend T. describes as “for (and by) geeky, smart, awkward (but not backwards) girls. We know who we are (were).”  Sexy Typewriter, did you know about this?   Sorry about your plans for the rest of the day.

Edited to Add:  It’s come to my attention that the Awkward Embraces team is just $3000 shy of their goal to make season 2.  Donate here if you’ve had someone smell your hair during a hug…or while standing too close on a subway ride.

2) How To Be A Woman In Any Boy’s Club, from This Recording, recommended by my friend B.  Here’s an excerpt:

“What If I Love Being The Only Girl In The Boys Club? Megan Fox Syndrome, aka Wendy from Peter Pan. It is the delusion that you can become an official part of the boys’ club if you are its strictest enforcer, its most useful prole. That if you follow the rules exactly you can become the Official Woman. If you refuse other women admission you are denying that other women are talented, which makes you just as bad as any boys’ club for thinking there would only be one talented girl at a time.

You will never actually be part of the boys’ club, because you are a woman. You are Ray Liotta in Goodfellas. You are not Italian, therefore you are never going to get made. And you don’t want to be a part of the boys’ club, because it is dedicated to preserving its own privilege at your expense. Why wouldn’t you want to know and endorse the work of other women who share your interests? How insecure are you?

Drive It Like You Stole It: Be the best. That is, assuming that you are the best. Be the best you can possibly be, whatever that means to you. Absolutely do not step down in order to not threaten people. Don’t apologize. If you genuinely fucked up fine, you are allowed to apologize once but then stop apologizing. Think about how much you hear women apologizing for themselves for no reason, or being self-deprecating or self-abnegating out of habit. What the fuck are you apologizing for? For being too good?”

Read the whole thing – it’s for men, it’s for women, and from now on I will probably sneak it into the syllabus for my courses.

And now, Katharine Hepburn wishes you a good weekend, as do I.

LOL Hepburn created by Jen Earl

People hear what they want to hear.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m just over thirty and left my home and career in the US to live in Europe a little over 6 months ago. I’m now a full time student and also involved in several groups and volunteer work. I like having a very full schedule, I’m a bit of a workaholic and really have very little experience dating. I met an expat from Italy and I’ve been dating this guy for about a month now. He’s a few years older and divorced. I went into the first date not expecting much and ended up hitting it off despite the fact that he’s a little bit shorter than me. I tried to overlook it but I still feel a little embarrassed introducing him to my friends. He has no problem with our almost 2 inch height difference. I’m afraid to be seen in my town with him and meet him in his city.

At first we agreed to keep it casual and see other people. I’ve exaggerated a relationship with a classmate and I’m actually very busy and can’t really meet him as often as he would like. Progressively he keeps telling me he keeps feeling a unique connection and that he can fall in love with me. We do get along really well and have great sexual chemistry. Knowing how commitment-phobic I am, he keeps joking about introducing me to his parents and planning a wedding. Every time he has these romantic moments I keep reminding him that I don’t want anything more than what we have now. Other than those moments, and even those moments aren’t so awkward, I feel so comfortable and relaxed with him.

He keeps trying to passively but progressively move things to another level. He wants me to keep stuff at his place or give me a spare key to his apartment. I don’t think it’s necessary. He’s less willing to come to my place, but I don’t want to make a bigger deal of it because I don’t really want to run into friends of mine with him. I’ve even been avoiding becoming facebook friends with him! I’m afraid that I’ll find that his status is “in a relationship” with me! He seems to keep baiting and switching on me. For example, he asked me if I wanted to meet his 2 male friends. So I figured it was an excuse to show off that he has a girlfriend to his geek friends. I agreed to it but when I meet him and it turns out to be a double date. All of a sudden we make plans to see a few movies and dinners together with this other couple. His friends are really very nice and I’d like to get to know them but they are his friends. It feels like some trick to accelerate things. He has also been pushing to go away for a weekend together. At first he joked that we should go to his family’s city for the weekend. When I asked if we had a chance of running into his family, he joked that there would be no way we could go there and not run into his family. It seems so weird to me that he seems to want to introduce me to his family.

I’m hoping all of the newness and glow of this will wear out soon. It seems ridiculous to break up with him because he likes me too much and I’ve been honest all along about my intentions. I like things as they are and I like feeling loved and desired, but I’m afraid of things become more serious without realizing it before it’s too late. I also feel so horrible saying this, but I feel like I can do better.
Awkward Abroad

Dear Awkward Abroad:
There is a lot going on in this letter.
On the one hand, I want to call him and tell him to stop dating a woman who is so hung up on a slight height difference that she’s ashamed to introduce him to her friends. I mean, we’re all attracted to what we’re attracted to.  Plenty of guys I’ve met aren’t into fat chicks.  I’m not into smokers or guys who don’t spell out the words “you” and “are” in electronic communications, plus, you must be at least as smart as me to ride this ride and it helps if you’re really competent at something.  Sometimes I like to just sit around the house watching Intern Paul assemble computers while we discuss the politics of the day.
Where was I? Okay, height difference – read the wisdom of The Manolo on this subject and/or the Vorkosigan Saga.  You’ve said the sexual chemistry is good, and all cats are gray in the dark, so if you like this guy and want to keep seeing him, this one is squarely in the category of Your Weird Issue, and you’ll probably be happier if you do some thinking about why it’s so important to you and find a way to let it go.
On the other hand, I worry about you dating someone who you are embarrassed to introduce to your friends (and are you sure it’s just the height, or are you seizing on that because you can’t articulate anything else that’s ‘wrong’ with him?).  I worry that you are dating someone who is not hearing your “no” when you talk.  No, you don’t want to meet his family right now – ONE MONTH IS WAY TOO SOON TO BE TALKING ABOUT MARRIAGE & MEETING FAMILIES.  I want you to think about what happens when you state your feelings and say no.  Does he hear you?  Or does he laugh it off and then keep bringing it up in a “joking” way again?
You told me yourself how you feel at the end of your letter:  “I feel I can do better.”

Let's keep this logical between us.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I have just discovered your blog and I love it for many reasons. One of them is: I have somewhere to ask this question!

I am a young, single, straight, cis woman. In my capacity as such, I met a man a while ago — and by a while ago, I mean, like, July. Super cute, nerdy, funny, flirty in a way that is respectful of my boundaries, etc. But due to career-related shenanigans, we weren’t in the same city at the same time for a few months. However, once that resolved itself, we went on a date that resulted in what was either the best sex I’ve ever had, or the second-best. Hooray!

Despite the crazy-awesome-fantastic sex, however, I’m not into him in a dating way. I like spending time with him, but even thinking the word “dating” sets of my blinkers of Bad Idea. Partially it’s that there’s no conversational chemistry — it’s just “talking with you is nice before we get to the making out.” Partially it’s that he is a total flake, who can’t make plans to spend time with me in a useful fashion. (Like, text messages saying “Hey, what are you doing tonight?” sent at 7:30 on a Friday.) It’s been a while since we last hooked up, and I’m worried I missed the window of establishing fuckbuddyhood.

My question is this: when I’ve been interested in guys for casual, respectful, sex-based arrangements, I’ve found that telling guys that that’s what I want rarely goes well. I usually say something like, “I think you’re really awesome, and I like hanging out with you and having sex with you, but I don’t want an actual relationship with you,” and while that sounds fine to my ears, there’s clearly something I’m saying or doing that makes them uncomfortable, and thus less likely to make out with me. Is there a better way to go about this?

Thanks for reading.

— The Polite Nerd

Hello Polite Nerd!

I read what you are telling these lucky sometimes-lovers and it sounds so honest and straightforward and like you are being a good Ethical Slut and covering your bases and also exactly like stuff I have said to people in the past, however, I also thought “Oof, people do not like being told that no matter how true it might be, even if they feel exactly the same way.”

I think good sex comes less from skill and more from connection.  When I was doing a lot of internet dating, one of the automatic dealbreakers was reading “I am very good at pleasing a woman“* in a man’s profile.  Because:

  1. I’ll be the judge of that.
  2. I am never going to let you touch me there, because by writing that you are telling me that you have some weird “system” or “method”  that you assume that you can transfer from woman to woman.
  3. Leading with that as one of your selling points tells me you are some mix of really  insecure and really overconfident.  Can’t we just talk about books or something and let that be a pleasant surprise?

So what you want in a sex partner, even in a friend-with-benefits situation, is someone who is easy to get along with, pays attention to how you work, can communicate about he works, and makes you feel safe and comfortable to be around,communicates honestly about safe sex, birth control, etc. Controlling for the occasional Zipless Fuck, it sounds suspiciously like you want someone who is actually your friend.

Has this guy ever indicated that he wants to have a traditional dating relationship and be your boyfriend?  Or are you guys just “hanging out” and “listening to music” when you get a last-minute text on a day that your schedules happen to line up?   Because that sounds like you already have the fuckbuddy-only relationship you seek.  If you’re going to have an argument with him about how making last minute plans doesn’t work for you and he should be more respectful when arranging dates, but also that the word dating gives you a wiggins, that’s getting pretty close to an argument you’d have with someone you are evaluating as a boyfriend.  If you’re fine just hooking up now and again, and he’s texted at an inconvenient time, you just say “Not tonight, sorry.  Tuesday?” and go on with your day and then you fuck when you fuck.  If he wanted to get more serious, you’d know, because he’d tell you, and then you’d have the opportunity to state your piece.  But even then, I’d recommend asking him where he sees it going vs. telling him that it’s going nowhere.  From what you describe, chances are you already on the same page.

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"Tact is just not saying true stuff." - Cordelia Chase

Dear Captain Awkward,

Are there times when the FU should not be silent when telling people the STFU? If so, do you have a combat guide for mild-mannered ladies who wear pearls and read a lot of Jane Austen?

Wanting to Get out the Sticks and Stones

Oh, my ladylike friend, one day you will be on the subway and a creepy strange man will be leering at you and trying to  talk to you, and where before you may have just tried to focus extra-hard on your book or retreated back into your happy place of recalling last night’s ball at Netherfield or mentally cataloging your spice rack, something will snap inside you and you will say “Listen, you creepy, disgusting motherfucker, why don’t you take five steps back from me because I just cannot handle your goddamn bullshit today” and it will feel fantastic.

Not everyone curses like a sailor in an extremely unprofessional manner, when, say, teaching a class on lighting for film and finding that every single light in the kit I’m using to demo is broken in a slightly different way.  Invective might not roll off the tongue for you, which is okay, because people who are just learning to cuss end up sounding kind of cute when they try.  It’s especially noticeable from novice actors and directors who attempt Mamet or Mamet-like (Mamet-ish?  Mamet-y?) dialogue.  They overemphasize the swears because the little kid inside them gets excited about saying them or they want to be dramatic, so the rejoinder to Creepy Subway Guy (above) comes out as “Listen, you creepy, disgusting MOTHER (pause) FUCKER, why don’t you take five steps back from me because I just cannot handle your GODDAMN (pause) BULLSHIT today.” Amateur hour.

Thankfully we have Miss Julia Sugarbaker to turn to in times of crisis.  Look, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched an episode of Designing Women and I have no idea what she’s so mad about in this clip but I’m pretty sure I agree with every word she’s saying.

You might have to age into that some to get the right mix of patrician elocution and crazy eyes, but that just means it’s something to look forward to! Does anyone know if Dixie Carter attended some kind of Auntie Mame-training academy and, if so, can I go, too?  Maybe there I can learn to cultivate pointed silence in the face of vapid absurdity.

If you want to ride down the middle of the road and can master a sufficiently cutting tone, here are some all-purpose phrases that might get you through a trying conversation if you’ve exhausted “Really,” Wow,” and “What.”

  • “Well, I’ll be doing the opposite of that, but thanks for your opinion.”
  • “It’s amazing that you think that’s your business.”
  • “Let’s just pretend this never happened. It will be less embarrassing for you.”

When I am rich and dead, teenage girls will get copies of The Portable Dorothy Parker and The Handmaid’s Tale* from my dead rich lady foundation, so that they learn exactly how depressing and terrifying life can be and develop the necessary sarcasm and drinking skills to cope.  Dorothy Parker could bring the pain.

So, you’re the man who can’t spell ‘fuck.‘”
-Dorothy Parker to Norman Mailer after publishers had convinced Mailer to replace the word with a euphemism, ‘fug,’ in his 1948 book, “The Naked and the Dead.”


Have you been watching Downton Abbey?  Because Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess Lady Grantham is delightful. When I use the word “cunty” to describe her character’s amazing ability to deliver a backhanded compliment, please believe that I mean to convey only respect and awe.

Lady Grantham: “You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.”
Mrs. Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.”
Lady Grantham: “I must’ve said it wrong.”

It seems what is required is to just remove one’s filter.  Strip it right off.  Why wait for dementia to set in when you could be enjoying an unfiltered life right now?

I hope you found this educational and improving.  Shall we take a turn about the room?


*What else (besides Auntie Mame, can’t believe I left that off) should we add to the curriculum for the Academy for Wayward Girls Who Want To Stay That Way?

If you like advice columns (and I think you do) and seriously badass honest writing (and I think you do), you might want to read Dear Sugar.

My favorite recent thing she’s done is this letter to her younger self:

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

…There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness

….One evening you will be rolling around on the wooden floor of your apartment with a man who will tell you he doesn’t have a condom. You will smile in this spunky way that you think is hot and tell him to fuck you anyway. This will be a mistake for which you alone will pay.

…Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

…You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

…The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

Damn.  Her writing reminds me of one of my favorite poems, that was a manifesto for a long time:

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Racist AND Sexist. Gross.

You guys, sorry to go all serious and unfunny on you, but I am incredibly creeped out at the news reports of what happened to the CBS News reporter* and her crew in Egypt, especially the ones that need to mention that she was an “attractive blonde” so that you can really, really picture it.  Gross. Unfortunately, as you an see from our handy visual aid, the “Swarthy Foreigners Are Defiling Our Women” meme is nothing new.

If you’ve got a strong stomach and a nice padded place for when you give up on humanity and start banging your head against the walls, Manboobz has the scoop here and here.

This incident, plus the semesterly reading of Freshman creative writing where I have to explain that “Hey, the part of your story where your female character said she didn’t want to have sex and then the male character got her really, really drunk and had sex with her anyway?  Yeah, I think that your character just raped that lady,” told me that it was a time for a little bit of schooling around this extremely awkward topic.

Here’s what happens when you get raped:

1.  A person or people carry out a serious invasion of your personal space.

2.  You risk a whole bunch of shitty complications afterwards, including but not limited to:  STDs, pregnancy (which you might be forced to carry to term thanks to religious zealots), physical pain and emotional trauma, bad dreams, flashbacks, plus every asshat in the world second-guessing everything you’ve ever done in your life in an effort to explain what you did that led to you getting attacked, possibly for the rest of your life.

Here’s how you got raped:

1.  You went about your life and used your liberty to pursue happiness.

2. You encountered a rapist who decided to rape you.


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