It Came From The Search Terms: The Lusty Month Of May

It’s time for the monthly ritual where we answer the things people typed into search engines as if they were actual questions.

True story: In 1986 my 6th grade class did a medley/pageant thing from Camelot and I sang a highly edited version of this song wearing a flower crown, an ice blue polyester bridesmaid’s dress that had been adapted to be somewhat ren-faire-ish, and (of course) my giant plastic 1980s Dawn Weiner/Sally Jesse Raphael/Log Lady eyeglasses.

1) “I can’t have romantic feelings.”

a) You don’t have to! and b) You might be aromantic. Look it up, find your people, be happy.

2) “As a bi girl am I doomed to end up with a guy?”

Depending on where you live men who like women may be more numerous than women who like women, so it may take you longer to find women you connect with. However, please don’t “end up with” or even “date” anyone who makes you wonder “Is this my doom?” Be picky and choose people who fucking delight you.

3) “He can’t be with me because of depression”

He can’t be with you.

4) “Introvert boyfriend broke up with me”

He broke up with you.

 5) He says he wants us to be together eventually, what does that mean?

He doesn’t want you to be together now.

6) “What does ‘I can’t be what you need from me’ mean?”

“Don’t count on this relationship to be what you need.” “I am checking out of/trying to end this relationship.”

7) Boyfriend makes fun of medical condition.

What. A. Jerk.

8) “He doesn’t give me allowance but he wants to control my appearance.”

Even if he did give you an allowance he doesn’t get to control your appearance unless you have an explicit “this is a fun thing we like to do/kink we share and enjoy” agreement.

9) “I don’t like my boyfriend’s physical appearance.”

Okay? Options:

  • Learn to like something about how he looks and enjoy the beautiful love you share.
  • Admit to yourself that looks are really important to you and gently set him free to find someone who loves how he looks.

10) “Too many Indian neighbours.”

Move. Your neighbors shouldn’t have to live next to a gross xenophobe like you.

11) “Should I try speed dating?”

Sure! If you you don’t like someone or they don’t like you, there will be a new person in a few minutes, and if you hate it you never have to go back.


12) “Can men and women be friends?”

Glad you asked! I run an entire website devoted to this.

13) “I won’t allow my husband to play with female band mates.”

Women are half the human race, so, that’s a pretty sucky thing to do.

14) “How can I proceed to relationship that I already know she is not interested in relationship yet?” & 15) How to make a long distance girl you don’t know fall in love?

Or, you could just…not?

If you know for a fact someone is not interested in a relationship, leave them alone?

If someone lives far away and doesn’t know you exist, maybe…leave them alone and find someone a) closer to home b) who knows you and c) already likes you?

Stop trying to project-manage unattainable love?

16) Is 3 weeks too late to apologize to guy?

Probably not, as long as you offer a clean, real apology:

  • Step 1: “I’m really sorry for [specific thing I did that hurt or upset you].”
  • Step 2: Hope for the best but let it go. Let him be the one to decide if he forgives, when he forgives, and what happens now.
  • Step 3: Don’t do the thing again.

17) “Social anxiety play dates.”

This person was probably searching for this thread about arranging play dates for your kids when you have social anxiety, but it would be so cool if this were an app or a service that hooked people up with social anxiety buddies.

18) Ugliest floral arrangement for a funeral for someone you hate.

Yessssssssssssssssss! Let’s be hate-florists!

Description: Pink carnations and roses sculpted into a penis and balls. For when you care enough to send someone a dick.

Would a corpse flower be prohibitively expensive? Are those even commercially available? If not, worry not: Here are some other stinky plants and flowers.

I found a website listing traditional flower meanings.What if we combined:

  • CANDY TUFT – Indifference
  • GERANIUM -Stupidity; Folly
  • LILY  Orange – Hatred
  • MONKSHOOD – Beware; A Deadly Foe is Near
  • NARCISSUS – Egotism
  • NUTS – Stupidity
  • NASTURTIUM – Conquest; Victory in Battle
I don’t know if it would be sufficiently hideous – a lot of those flowers are quite pretty – but you’d know exactly how much shade you were throwing.
Now I wish that the Language of Flowers had an app where you could see each flower and build a virtual hate-bouquet (or like-bouquet, or “That secret sex we had was AWESOME and it fills me with shame. Elope with me?” bouquet) from them.


142 thoughts on “It Came From The Search Terms: The Lusty Month Of May

  1. seconding the thanks for #10, and also #18 is sheer genius. Let’s get ON that app!

  2. I read “social anxiety playdates” and thought WHAT A GREAT IDEA even before reading your answer. 😀

    Also, +10000000 to the idea of a floral arrangement shaped like a dick made entirely of orange lilies and narcissi. I know like six people I would send one to IMMEDIATELY. (I dated most of them.)

      1. Google search term: “Flower arrangement fail”

        This one should probably show up under Flower Arrangement Success, too. Someone WORKED on that.

        1. Yeah that’s definitely no “fail”. It’s a mission accomplished. I thought “well, maaaybe someone could convince me it was accidental”, but then I noticed they included the frenulum.

  3. Hi! Bisexual woman in a 13-year relationship with another woman, one kid and another on the way.

    In my experience (and I’m only speaking for myself), a lot of bi activist spaces seem more geared towards people who are read as being in mixed-gender relationships (regardless of their actual gender identification). So it’s possible that both that and the biphobic claim that bi women always “go back to” men may be giving you that impression. But who you date and what you prioritise is up to you: I’m attracted to men and women but I way prefer being in a relationship with a woman, and specifically (obviously!) with my partner. Depending on where you are, you may experience various pressures to have relationships with men or male-appearing people, from various different sides, but hopefully it is up to you to decide whom and what you want to prioritise, whom you want to sleep with, whom you want to date, and whom you want to commit to. If you end up with a man, hopefully it’ll be because he’s the most excellent human for you, not because you don’t get a choice.

    1. Bi genderqueer FAAB person here who’s experiences overlap a lot with women’s. I’m with a dude bc I actively desired being with a dude and my partner is awesome for me.

      I notice there’s an idea out there that if you’re attracted to someone and the relationship is somewhat viable then you have a mandate to try and be with them. If you as a bi woman apply this idea then its easy to end up dating a lot of guys, even if they aren’t the best fit for you. You don’t have to, though.

      If you want to be with a woman, actively seek them out. Get GLBTQ friends, go hang out places with lots of queer women, ask friends or even family if they know any women you might hit it off romanticly with. Bottom line, again, you get to choose who you want to be with.

      1. Seconding this whole comment, especially the part of needing to seek girls out if you want to date them. You’re no less bi if you end up with a dude, but they are easier to find, so that’s part of the reason why there’s a cultural narrative that bi girls end up with guys. (Also a flaming shit-heap of misogynist societal attitudes, but that’s part of it at any rate)

        Personally I used an app. One that was exclusively for people who identify as female or non-binary, and you could list your sexuality if you wanted, so all the gay girls who would prefer not to date a bi girl could weed themselves out. I never would have really met that many girls any other way, let alone my gf.

  4. I got to #12 and thought, “If this website isn’t just the word ‘yes’ in giant letters, I am reading the wrong blog.”

    The word “yes” was in regular-sized font, but I decided it was close enough.

  5. For #2, one of the tricky things here is that if bi women do date men, well-meaning relatives may be pleased/relieved by our partners’ gender. It’s not always easy to ignore that, or stop wondering “do they really like him and think he’s good for me, or are they just pleased that he’s male?” if it comes from people who were having trouble accepting your orientation, even if they never say something like “I’m glad this one’s male.”

    You’re the best judge of your own motivations: as Mary said, you can be bisexual but prefer to be in relationships with people of a specific gender, and that’s okay, whether or not it’s the gender people around you think it should be.

  6. My cynical side interprets #5 as ‘he doesn’t want to be together right now, but wants to keep you emotionally invested so he has you for a backup partner if needed.’ And yes, personal experience plays HEAVILY into this interpretation.

    So person who searched for this question, on the extremely off chance you are reading this and if my interpretation resonates with you, please shoot this nonrelationship into the sun. Nothing good can come from being on some guy’s hook. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and it’s hideous.

    1. I read your second paragraph with the word “nonlationship” in it, and would now like to petition Mirriam-Webster that it become a real word.

    2. Yes. This is the guy who’s going to hit on other women when you are on dates with him, because they’re not “real” dates, because he already told you that he couldn’t commit *just now*…And after you’ve taken years to get over him and move on, he will wait until you’ve married someone else, then show up at midnight, drunk, to inform you that he finally realized that you were “the one” and he was planning to someday have children with you.

      1. And, for added bonus fun, you’ll get an angry call the next morning from his weeping fiancée. Been there, done that, hate that I ever owned that t-shirt.

      2. Yup. Or you’ll hear from mutual friends that he’s asking them if you’re happy now, to which they’ll thankfully reply, “yes.”

        Too late, guy, too late! You shoulda committed to me 7 years ago when this was on the table!

        It’s such irony, cuz in this case as we were ending our weird-non-committed-relationship(7 years ago!) I tearfully told him that a big fear I had was that he would eventually decide he was ready to date me… but I’d have moved on. Which is exactly what happened.

        1. Isn’t it funny how that ‘worst case scenario’ actually turns out to be awesome in situations like this? Like with my ex-guy (who was my boyfriend for 2.5 years, dumped me, told me we’d get back together ‘someday’, then flirted with other girls in front of my face but kept me around as designated driver/booty call whenever he got hammered–which was often. This shit lasted for a full year after we broke up) my ‘worst case scenario’ was not having him in my life at all. I cut off all contact over two years ago and here I am, happy as a clam and married to a guy who doesn’t cheat on me and isn’t a functional alcoholic. ‘Worst Case Scenario,’ indeed. Woe is me!*

          *Good riddance, asshole! 🙂

  7. I haven’t been active commenter of late, but I couldn’t pass up the funeral flower arrangement question. Uh, details slightly vaguified since I post under my own name: a close relative recently attended the funeral of a less-close relative. The deceased was survived by two adult children who were barely on speaking terms. Goodness knows what kind of conversation was had with the florist by either or both siblings, but the result is that the flower arrangement on the casket was half roses and half lilies. I mean literally: like two halves of two separate arrangements stuck unceremoniously together, with nary a sprig of greenery intermingled. #spiteflowers

      1. I dunno…that seems like it would make my boxing matches rather precarious.

  8. > Be picky and choose people who fucking delight you.

    And, as applicable, the other way around.

    1. I am too tired. I tried to reorder the sentence as you suggested, came up with “Be chosen by picky people who fucking delight you?” “Be delightful and choose picky fucking people?” And then I parsed it correctly, at last 🙂
      (Asexual powers of being slow to get sex jokes, activate!)

  9. ” He says he wants us to be together eventually, what does that mean?”

    That you’re totally free to look around and find someone who wants you enough to be with you rather than putting you on the relationship shelf and expecting you to stay there.

    “Even if he did give you an allowance he doesn’t get to control your appearance unless you have an explicit “this is a fun thing we like to do/kink we share and enjoy” agreement.”

    Which shouldn’t happen if ‘he’ is your dad, which this very well could be. In which case – get support, practical guidance and validation from as many trustworthy sources as you can outside the house, make a plan for what you’ll do when you’re old enough to move out, and start working towards it now. xxx

    1. Ha, I also thought about the possibility of a controlling parent. In which case, still a good blog to find! 😀

      1. I also thought dad. And I agree, unfortunately there are some things you can’t do while under the roof of your controlling parent. I could not get my ears pierced for example…it just meant I got them pierced when I was 19. If he is your dad, it means he’s doing a great job of ensuring you won’t like him that much or talk to him as much once you’re grown and out of there.
        Also seconding the allowance doesn’t really play into this. All the money in the world should not give someone the strings to control you with.

        1. I didn’t initially think “dad” but now I’m remembering a classmate of mine in college (!!) who gave another floormate of ours a skirt because her father said it was “slit too high”. It was a kick pleat. In the back. To the knee, so one could, you know, WALK while wearing the skirt. I have a feeling that her father thought it was a much more conservative school than it was (because all women’s colleges must therefore be nunneries, doncha know?) because sadly Gigi never came back after her first year.

          So, yeah. If Dear Old Dad is that controlling, start planning your escape. And get help if you can.

          1. (because all women’s colleges must therefore be nunneries, doncha know?)


            Sincerely, a women’s college alum.

    2. Yep, also thought dad. Mine told me one time I was wearing too much mascara, to which I mentally replied “Dad, you don’t even know the difference between mascara and eyeliner; you don’t get to control my makeup usage”. And when I bought my first formal dress at 14 he checked that dance partners wouldn’t be able to see down the bodice by assuming standard dance position and trying to look down my dress. It was very… yeah.

      In fact, I’ve been living not in his house for a year and a half now, he just learned I’m planning to get tattoos, and he sent me a strongly worded “Don’t do that” text message complete with “I regret getting a tattoo” compilation article link. Thanks, Dad, but I really no longer care.

      1. And when I bought my first formal dress at 14 he checked that dance partners wouldn’t be able to see down the bodice by assuming standard dance position and trying to look down my dress. It was very… yeah.

        Ew. I’m sorry you had to deal with all this stuff.

        Glad you have been able to move out by now!

      2. My dad once held me down and forcibly scrubbed my eyelids with a barely damp, extremely worn washcloth before school. I have very thin skin, and had persistent insomnia as a teen. He was trying to scrub the dark circles off my eyes. He proceeded to yell at me for “going to school looking like I’d been crying”, which was at least fair. I *was* crying, because he’d taken all the skin off my eyelids with a washcloth.

        I left home at 17, which is not a shock.

  10. Regarding #2, I have a longstanding rant about “the ratio” – if you are willing to date people other than those of your gender and you hang out in spaces where same-gender relationships are welcome but not the focus of the space, you’ll probably end up partnered with someone not of your gender somewhat more than half the time, depending on the specifics of your identity. This includes, anecdotally, several relationships where someone went into the relationship with the public ID of butch lesbian and then came out as trans during the relationship. (I had an instructor in my MSW program whose counseling practice specialized in that specific scenario, so maybe that makes it seem more common.)

    Anyway. It’s harder to find women who like women than men who like women. And in addition to liking your gender they have to like you. In theory I would date men as often as women; in practice my history is about 50% straight dudes, 30% bi dudes (including the one I married), 20% ladies.

    I was also in my dating days the worst Lesbian Sheep ever, so that probably skews it somewhat.

    1. >> It’s harder to find women who like women than men who like women.

      See, this was never my experience: by the time I’d weeded out Men Who Were Sexist/Entitled Dickheads, the women-who-like-women group was a heck of a lot bigger than the men-who-like-women group. 🙂 You might have known a better class of men!

      1. But then you take out the lesbians who don’t date bi women, and right back to more dudes again.

        That was a huge percentage back when I was single! I don’t know if my experience is representative, but it was seriously not fun. I really never, ever want to hear again how I’m dirty and going to cheat and going to leave for a man and probably have 12 STDs at any given time. (Are there 12? I don’t know that there are 12.)

        1. Oh damn, I didn’t realize what a bitter explosion that was until I put down my phone to drive home.

          Apparently I am still bitter? I did have a genuinely bad time with that happening, but it’s been a few years now. I’ll have to calm myself a bit.

          1. Of course a stranger online can’t tell you if you’re holding on to things too long or much for your own good, but I really didn’t think your comment came off un-calm or too bitter or anything.

          2. There are totally at least 12 STIs, per The All-Knowing All-Seeing Wikipedia. And also, biphobic queers make me want to scream, and I’ve never dated one, so I think you’re on solid ground here.

          3. tone is a strange thing online. I read that and thought “bahahaha! yep. that’s how biphobia is on the scene”.

            maybe you’re bitter, or maybe you were going for comic effect & solidarity with your fellow bi women (plus this bad asexual). I can’t tell.

        2. yeah, back when I was single I was Distinctly Unwelcome in my local queer spaces because Ew Bisexuals Are Gross. This…put a crimp in my ability to date women.

    2. I sent a *very* cranky letter to Dan Savage back in his “bi people aren’t real” phase because he apparently thought that bi people only exist if, as a population, exactly half of us “end up with” a partner of another gender and half of us with a partner of our own. In order for that to work out purely from a numbers POV the whole world would have to be bi/pan.

        1. Basically, if we MASSIVELY oversimplify human sexuality into two genders and three sexual orientations, bisexual people have more options but also more competition. I think I actually got it wrong – I also cannot math today! – but you’d need a lot more people willing to date within their own gender to even the odds.

    3. I can totally see this. Something I’ve struggled with a lot is that there’s a big narrative around that a romantic partner is supposed to be someone you just run into as part of your regular life and come to know and like, and this is a model that can work out decently for bi/straight men hooking up with bi/straight women but gets increasingly more iffy for other orientations. It’s taken me years and years of singlehood to really understand that if I want to date I am going to have to intentionally seek out LGBTQ+ generally and asexual-specifically spaces because a suitable partner crossing my path by chance + me realising they’re one is pretty unlikely. If I were bi, I could totally see myself having dated men in this period instead, because they’re the known-to-be-romantically-compatible people who happen to be around a lot more. None of that makes anyone’s identity invalid.

      1. The other problem that happens is the over-eager setting up by well-meaning friends. One of my same-sex relationships was the result of a mutual friend knowing “hey, they both are bi, they both just kicked Darth Vader Boyfriends to the curb…they should date!”

        Yikes. NO PRESSURE, amirite?

        Somehow the lady in question and I are still good friends but I think the relationship would have been much better if it hadn’t been formed by “You like girls? Hey, my friend here likes girls too! NOW KISS!!!” to start.

    4. Yes, definitely. I find that as a bi woman, it takes a lot more effort to even find women to date, let alone have it lead to anything. My friends in the city I live in are all straight, or gay men, so unless I actively seek out bi/lesbian spaces, or go visit queer friends in other cities, I generally am meeting men.

  11. With regard to your sixth grade performance, that beats putting on you short choir robe and singing in a stone groove of a tune all about Shadracg, Mesach and Abednego — whoa whoa whoa whoa. Fucking Lutheran musicals.

    1. I did not know about Lutheran Musicals. Thanks for the hilarious word-picture!

      1. OMG. Apparently those Christian musicals are worldwide phenomenons (Antipodean here…and I remember that one from school!). If someone tells me they remember Ants’hillvania as well…

        1. omfg, I had a CASSETTE TAPE of Ants’hillvania????? I listened to it over and over and over but also deleted it from my memory banks c/ age 9 probably? AHHHH. PECULIAR EVANGELICAL CULTURE.

          1. All I can think of is Anvilania from Animaniacs now O_O

            I only went to a Lutheran church for less than 2 years (ages 9-10) and I suspect I missed the window for weird musicals.

    2. I know this song…maybe not THIS this song, but a very catchy song on this particular subject (and how many catchy Shadrach Mesach Abednego songs do you suppose are out there?). I can’t remember if I learned it in Catholic school choir or from a VeggieTales episode, but either way, it’s been stuck in my head for two days now.

      1. I think the Veggie Tales versions were called Rach, Shach, and Benny, so it was probably choir.

    3. OMG. I LOVED that particular Lutheran musical. One of my favorites. I could still sing several of the songs Did you do Moses and the Freedom Fanatics? Lice, flies, and fleas flying, oh what a merry, merry sight, millions and millions in Egypt tonight… And the Tower of Babel? Babel, babble, Babel, babble, Babel, babble, BABEL!

      I gotta chalk those all up to things I loved about church when young, even though I’m an unrepentant atheist at this point.

      1. Come for the dick flowers, stay for the discussion of Lutheran musicals. 🙂

      2. Holy damn, yes, I did Moses and Freedom Fanatics/. “Mud bricks. mud bricks. yes all we make are mud bricks…. alllll day long.”
        You have no idea how glad I am that I wasn’t the only to suffer lapsed hippie Lutherans.

  12. Social anxiety play dates definitely sound like an awesome thing. Maybe we could mix them with the speed dating?

    1. Speed friend dating, I like it! I’d probably just spend the whole time in awkward intro mode, but maybe I’d find someone whose awkward intro mode complemented mine!

  13. 1) c) You might have a different romantic orientation than you thought you “should” have. Either option (or none of these) are possible and okay.

    6) I have used something like this to impress upon a person that no really, I was serious when I said we won’t be an item and also this is why I was uncomfortable with staying in contact because they seemed far too invested, even after they accepted there was no chance of a relationship.
    So, just take it as mismatched levels of interest?

    1. Seconded on 6. I told someone that and we weren’t gonna date. I told them explicitly and repeatedly. Unfortunately their wishful thinking goggles were on and fully activated and apparently I broke their heart when I started dating someone else?

      1. Thirded on 6! I have said a paraphrase of this, something like: “You seem to want more from me than I can give” or even “You seem to want me to be something I’m not”. It just gets awkward when someone’s eagerly butting away at the boundaries of the Friend Zone.

    2. As someone whose anxiety problems/trauma/internalized homophobia used to make relationships super miserable – if you don’t feel romantic attraction and that’s fine, perhaps an aromantic identity is for you. If you feel, like, a series of yearnings and hopes and the tantalizing hint of giddy feelings and then dead gray blankness/rising pink panic that shuts down all those feelings at a certain point, it might be therapy time.

  14. If ending up with a guy equals doom, #2 may want to consider the possibility that she’s bisexual and homoromantic. I live in a mid-sized Midwestern city, and one of my best friends more-or-less falls into that category – she’s been dating mostly women for years now, so I know it’s doable in a large enough population center. Our intrepid searcher might also consider that women (in the USA in the past several decades, at least) are more likely to be socialized to be sexually/romantically passive; if she’s mostly standing around waiting for people to approach her, she’s likely to find that men approach her more than women (especially if she’s not hanging out in queer spaces, which might not be accessible depending on her area and age). She may have more luck finding women to date if she approaches women she’s interested in, if she’s not doing so already.

  15. I lived next door to an Indian family for almost a decade and my only problem with them was that whatever they were making for dinner always smelled way better than what I was making for dinner, so I suffered frequent Dinner Envy.

    1. It Came from the Search Terms Two, Electric Boogaloo: “Too many Indian neighbors not enough excuses to hold potluck dinners.”

    2. I live in a largely Bengali neighbourhood AND the hall next door hosts a Vietnamese lunch club twice a week – if I could live on fumes I’d be ten times my size (and very, very happy)…

      1. So not the point of the post, but can I just recommend the book Vietnamese Home Cooking, if you enjoy cooking and would like to learn how to make some of that Vietnamese food that smells so good? Highly recommending the noodle bowls and the lemongrass chicken and ANY of the grilling recipes.

  16. Aw, how sad to see that some people consider geraniums “stinky.” I mean, they aren’t roses or anything, but I enjoy their spicy scent very much. In fact, I usually have some in a pot on my front porch for this very reason (plus that they’re pretty *and* sturdy), but I was noticing the other day that I don’t have any this year because I apparently went a little begonia-crazy, and I’m contemplating making up that deficit over the weekend.

    1. I don’t think the implication was that geraniums are stinky.

      I think the Captain suggested two separate angles of attack – stinky flowers (with “Here are some other stinky plants and flowers” referring to the website hyperlinked in that sentence, not the list of flowers enumerated below) and, separately, flowers with insulting meanings (that’d be that list).

      Geraniums were listed because of their insulting meaning, not because of their scent. I suspect most people like their scent (not to mention rose geraniums, which IMHO smell even better than many roses, and make a delicious tea).

      Also your front porch must be super pretty.

      1. Well, I’m very glad to hear that – I have heard enough people say they don’t like the scent of geraniums that I have sometimes wondered if I were the odd one. Well, OK, I am a bit odd, but not when it comes to geraniums.

        And thanks. I think my porch is kind of pretty myself. 🙂

  17. I dunno. Been there, done that, wish I had trusted my instincts and been the “bad cop” that my partner was, in hindsight, begging me to be. It’s all very well to say, “Well, if that asshole needs you to do the emotional labor of policing her/ him off the Couches of Plausible Deniability if this world, you have at least one superfluous asshole,” it’s another thing (for me) to know I could have very easily prevented a huge mess and a lot of pain for everyone involved (including the affair partner, who, it turned out, had feelings too, almost as if she were a real human being who should not have been put in the way of emotional harm because I selfishly wanted to keep my Chill Girl Club card) by saying, “This is not a temptation you can handle right now, and we both know it. Walk into that swamp with your eyes open or not at all.”

    Maybe I would have lost the love of my life much faster, which would have been better for all concerned, maybe we’d still be together today. I actually like to think we still would have broken up but more firmly and kindly, instead of the messy half-amputation we dealt with for nearly ten years.

    Sorry, lot of pain in this comment, not a lot of contribution to the discussion, but I think there is something to be said for trusting your (examined) instincts w/r/t relationships and probably partner behavior, and that half-assing affair prevention by “staying sweet” makes one look like an idiot, in the end.

  18. Anyone who makes fun of yours, or anyone else’s medical condition, is the scum of the earth.

  19. Re #17 When my daughter was beginning to overcome her social anxiety, I in a well-meaning but clueless interfering mother way thought social anxiety buddies would be a great thing. So I found an on-line site with a forum for social anxiety and – I was so pleased – someone locally had had the idea of arranging an informal meet-up for people in the group.

    So I read the thread. Person had arranged a meet-up, it had for various reasons fallen through. Person arranged another, it also fell through. Person arranged third: same result. Person snaps, thunders something to the effect of “Every time I suggest this, I get lots of responses from people eager to come, but no-one ever actually shows!!!”

    Bit of a pause, then someone responded “That’s kinda what we do.”

    1. Truth!

      The best way to make this work might be to buddy someone with social anxiety up with a socially-assured, friendly, relaxed person for an event like a movie or a play or a craft or something else where there is a definite activity that you do during the time you hang out.

      1. A friend of mine suggested recently at a conference that a good way for introverts to make friends is to find a compatible extrovert, because if you can make one friend who is an extrovert, they will often introduce you to other interesting people. (The extroverts in my social circle have this fascinating habit of collecting introverts.)

    2. Or we go and then try to make sure we’re acting perfectly appropriate at all times, with compulsive apology/thank you comfit for dessert.

  20. I secretly harbor a desire to be a floral designer as my retirement gig. “Hate bouquets” are DEFINITELY going on the list of services!

    1. I don’t really like the idea of actual hate bouquets, but I would send the hell out of some sarcasm arrangements. “Congratulations on your new opportunity!” to the someone who started their fourth fast-food job in as many months because working isn’t as much fun as smoking grass and playing Call of Booty. That sort of thing.

  21. #6 My first thought is he’s insecure (DH and I had a point where we both thought the other was too good for us) but your thoughts are worth keeping in mind.

    As fun as the idea of a corpse flower is, I imagine they’re quite hard to get a hold of and as the bloom cycle is both unpredictable and short, getting one in flower at the right time would probably be a nightmare even if you could get one. (I actually got to see one near-bloom last week, they’d had it for years and this was the first time it actually bloomed. It was only open for a day).

  22. As for, “ugliest floral arrangement,” well, the dick is hilarious to think about and meta, most flowers being severed genitalia anyway, but I would want to consider the feelings of those left behind, in the end, who also suffered the deceased, and maybe either donate to a passive-aggressively thematically-appropriate non-profit (therapy for adult survivors of x; bespoke funds for maintenance of the bottomless, sound-absorbent pit the Center for the Education of Mansplainers; fund a low-cost neuter in their honor; sponsor a guide dog because that ol’ hound dog could have been useful if he’d only been trained.) Or, you know, get YOURSELF some flowers, instead of being a jerk to some widow.

    I feel the moral here is: don’t wait until someone dies to send them a giant floral dick. Send it now, to their work or other very public place, when they can really *appreciate* it.

    1. This is a great point. Why waste the hate bouquet on the grieving people who maybe liked this person? Water your garden of loathing while ye may!

      1. Miss Manners had a delightful thing on the language of calling cards – folding each corner meant different things that could be combined, such that you could deliver “congratulations on your loss” or “just stopped by to say I’m leaving”. I enjoy that even with four options, passive aggression is always on the table.

    2. I feel a compulsion to quote your last paragraph out of context. Never floral-dick tomorrow what you can floral-dick today!

      1. I’m thinking a parody of that one poem the Lederer twins used to reprint on slow advice days: “I’d rather you have a gigantic, floral cock now/ Than a truckload when you’re dead.” One could write it under the pseudonym “Goldenrod.”

        Oh, hey, wonder if you could pay the florist extra to use ragweed and poison ivy/ oak/ sumac in place of the greenery?

    3. Just a humble lurker here to suggest the edible version of the floral dick: the company “Dicks by Mail” (not sure if I am allowed to link, but you can just google them) will anonymously send a bag of gummi dicks to your recipient of choice, along with a card saying “eat a bag of dicks”. I may have tried it myself in the past 😛

      1. If you really despise someone, there’s also the anonymous envelope of glitter. Not exactly genetalia, but certainly effective.

  23. #8, in the event that this person is an adult caregiver in your life, see Ice and Indigo’s comment above about assembling other trustworthy adult sources and a plan. In the meantime, though, I’m caught on the question of an allowance. This says to me that what you’re being asked to do is above and beyond your means/willingness to pay for – whether that’s razors and shaving cream, or make-up and expensive/fashionable clothes – in which case, tally those costs up. I had a set of awesome parents who were constantly after me to dress more feminine, and my dad at least often had no idea what things cost – the pink tax is real, but my dad wasn’t in the habit of shopping for “girl stuff” so he was constantly surprised by how much it added up to. Once he became responsible for providing for my then-stepsisters and their decidedly more fashion-forward femme looks, he quit asking me if I was ever going to wear makeup or even shave regularly – me and my tomboy ways were saving him loads of cash. So, if your goal is to get your allowance increased in order to cover those costs, do the math, make your case.

    I mean, also, is it weird and gross that parents so closely police their kids’ appearance? I think so, but you may have a tough time making that particular case if your family sees things differently. “Do the math, make your case” is the best interim solution I’ve got that might help you offload those costs back onto your folks, which, frankly, is where it belongs.

    1. I really agree about the weird policing thing done by parents. *You are not about to interview for a job when you’re 8* so it’s the BEST time to do whatever the hell you want and dress however you want. I am so jealous of other kids who got to wear whatever and dye their hair blue and shave half their head when they were kids. I looked so very….perfect daughter aesthetic…for so many years.

      1. One of my friends had kids with hair dyed green and pink last summer. She explained it to me as if they experiment now when they’re young, it’s a normal thing when they’re older, and then they’ll only be doing it if they genuinely want it rather than in response to peer pressure or sudden freedom. And Kool-Aid apparently makes an excellent nontoxic hair dye.

        1. if they experiment now when they’re young, it’s a normal thing when they’re older, and then they’ll only be doing it if they genuinely want it rather than in response to peer pressure or sudden freedom

          This makes a lot of sense. My youngest had their hair dyed in a rainbow at the beginning of the school year and while I hadn’t quite thought it through to that extent – mostly, I’d hated having my appearance controlled as a child, so as an adult with kids of my own in a public school with no uniform requirements, I tend to encourage them to style themselves as they like – I’m definitely gonna use this moving forward to explain why I let my kids do stuff like this.

          1. I’ve thought this too, re: letting my daughter dye her hair BEFORE she has job interviews. The Kool-Aid idea is brilliant though!

    2. I was thinking this too. At the very most harmless interpretation, a parent is offering input on age- or situation-appropriate clothing and a teenager is trying to enact a quid-pro-quo where following the rules is remunerated. … Sadly the cultural context of teenage clothing policing is such that I feel like I can’t say anything that’s not a dogwhistle for slut-shaming, but I DO think that it’s part of parenting to cue adolescents about how to navigate complicated social contexts. Even if the only explanation is “these are subjective and ridiculous rules, but I want to make sure you understand them and know how to both follow and subvert them.”

      But it’s also very possible that this person is being asked to do something without being given the means to do it, by someone who hasn’t thought through the logistics of the issue themselves. In which case the teen doesn’t need an allowance, they need a shopping list + a scheduled parental shopping trip. If this is a question of “the teenager actually does need to buy their own clothing out of their own work income because of family finances, and the parent still wants to have input so that the teen has appropriate things to wear to school events and funerals” then that’s a really delicate situation that requires some strategic thinking. My mother definitely clothed us out of thrift shops my whole pre-adult life, and the clothing she chose was often … completely appropriate, clean, and neat, but very much off-trend. If I had a problem with it, I could have fixed it, but I think I would have been understandably irate if she’d not provided an alternative (thanks for the christmas tree turtleneck, mom!) and then tried to take away my Hot Topic corset top or whatever.

  24. Edmonton represent on that wikipedia article about the Corpse Flower. Our Putrella actually bloomed again at the end of April – they closed (or narrowed) the vents in the conservatory to keep it extra stinky. They are perhaps a bit large for spite use – and I think only bloom every two years after years of growth. So the other options are probably a bit better.

    1. Oh hay fellow Edmontonian. I didn’t get to see her this time, but I did see her last time, and I agree that they’re a bit large, unless you also feel like sending a message of “Here’s a GIGANTIC BALL OF RESPONSIBILITY”.

  25. Re social anxiety – meetup groups and other “activity based” groups (eg sport, orchestra/choir, craft, etc etc etc) are all great for this. The first few times will feel awkward as all get out, but persist and you have a nice, low-stakes social interaction that is scheduled in regularly.

    1. My experience with those is that while people are happy to say hello, I never seem to break through to the point of ever exchanging numbers or hanging out outside of the activity. Is there an extra step I’m missing? Or does it take years?

      (*whispers* Or am I just totally unlovable?)

      1. I don’t know. I don’t know. I do know that the brainweasels are wrong, you are NOT totally unloveable, you are absolutely loveable but Hollywood claims that if it does not happen fast then it won’t happen at all. Hollywood is (at best) shortcutting for purpose of story.

        I do know that I went to my orientation for college and I looked at a room full of over a thousand people, all either in line to get food OR currently seated and eating and socializing. The room was loud from all the hundreds of conversations, and I was an out of town student, and I knew literally no one.
        I looked at my future. It was another four years that would be just like the last eight years: I would sit alone, no one would talk to me, no one would notice I exist, I would be alone.
        And something snapped, dear Sconn. Some kind of anti-brainweasel in my head suddenly rose up and said, “NO THIS IS NOT HAPPENING.” I had the adrenaline shakes because I was doing something that absolutely horrified me, but I turned around in the lunch line and said to the 2 people immediately behind me, “I don’t know anyone here and I refuse to go through college with no friends. Do you want to eat together?”
        I was Awkward As Can Be, dear Sconn. To make matters worse, both of these boys blinked at me with the “deer in headlights” expression of introverts caught in an excruciatingly Do The Extrovert Thing moment.

        They both said “yes”. Actually, the guy immediately behind me said “Uh, yeah, sure,” and the guy behind HIM said, “Can I sit with you too?” and I said “Yeah, of course,” because I had meant both of them. Anybody who actually heard me. Any human being.

        We ate together. We talked about inane, stupid stuff. We ran out of words about eighty times. There were huge awkward silences. I don’t think I ever spoke with that first guy ever again in my life.

        The second one, three years later, married me.

        So I dunno if this is a cautionary tale or what, but I am submitting to you the possibility that people in your meetup group are playing it safe. They’re perceiving “potential rejection” everywhere in the air, and they’re only taking a “risk” of reaching out to anyone who acts like a cheerful extrovert .(Because an extrovert will never tell you “no”, never reject you, right? Which is baloney.)

        If you can form up that anti-brainweasel yourself, a sudden voice that shouts down all the “I am unloveable” voices by saying “I reject the status quo! I will DO THE THING!”, then you might have a nasty case of the shakes and your voice might squeak but you can still say in the middle of the group thing “I am going to the Dollar Theater next weekend to see whatever tearjerker movie they’ve got. I have all the experience I need in my life of going to a movie alone. Does anybody want to meet me there? Cheap movie, stale popcorn, overpriced fountain drinks? No pressure to be charming?” You might find that, if you’ll make the plan, other people want to follow your lead.

        It might take a few tries before people join in. They might be terrified. They need someone else to be brave first. It sucks that I’m asking you to be brave first, you’ve already been brave so many times, you’ve tried again and again and so far things are not working. If it doesn’t work after a certain number of tries, 3 maybe, then quit that group and go find another group activity!

        1. OMG, I love that story. And the point it’s illustrating. I am going to hold this close and try to apply these principles the next time I am in this sort of situation.

        2. Yeah that’s what I basically did in university as well. I told myself: “You are alone here and don’t know anyone so you better strike up a conversation whenever the opportunity arises.” So when I had questions about class or was unable to find a room or whatever, I asked. As it turned out, I gained one friend by wondering aloud “Do I know you from somewhere?” (I didn’t) and another because she approached me, maybe with the same thoughts in mind.
          And I had many more conversations that didn’t lead anywhere because that’s how it is for most humans.

          Basically, getting to know people is a numbers game, where you have to take the initiative repeatedly. Some of it may stick, some connections look fine but then taper off. Honestly, most of the interactions will go nowhere long-term. But then you can pat yourself on the back for having initiated one conversation today or invited one person to a coffee (friend) date (even if they politely declined). Good on you!

          It might also be the hobby group – groups work differently. Some are too tight-knit to get in. Some you might not even want to “get in” to because you do not mesh with the majority. Some might be “here for the hobby” only and don’t want to chat or meet outside the group. In this case, too, it’s a numbers game and just generally getting to know yourself: What do you like? When do you have fun?

      2. You are not totally unlovable!

        In my experience, activity-based group stuff tends to lead to activity-based friendships – and while your mileage may vary, for me this has meant that I spent so many hours a week with some folks, and I wind up not chatting to them or having contact details for them outside of that specific activity, because it’s just a thing we do at the same time in the same place as opposed to a thing we do ~together~, if that makes sense. Most folks who attend the activity-based stuff seem to be there for specifically for the superficial, low-stakes nature of the interaction, where they aren’t expected to up the ante with any of the other attendees, and any friendships that grow from those interactions are viewed as bonus desserts, not the meat n’ potatoes point of the event.

        I’ve heard that people have more success with making friends through activity groups if they make an effort to flag themselves as available for that. “Hey, I’d like to participate in this activity more regularly and could use a training partner,” or “hey, I’d love to play this game more often, is anyone else interested in a second game night” type of things. If it’s too much to announce, check around the venue to see whether they’ve got any type of forum or bulletin board for these kinds of queries – an associated facebook group might be a good bet.

        Good luck!

      3. “No!” to that whispering brain weasel.
        #971 speaks to this, and some other archive material. (I know risking rejection is horrible, but maybe you need to be proactive in exchanging numbers/suggesting hanging out … always at some specific place and time, see archive. And try a couple of times before leaving it up to the other person.)
        Wrt risking rejection, there was this CBT advice that one should ask people on dates who are very likely to say “no”, e.g. on the street. It’s supposed to “train” you to realize that you can survive being rejected and the sky doesn’t fall down. While that perspective is valid, CBT can get a bit silly and that recommendation may well be a couple of decades out of date anyway. It was about 25 years ago that someone who may have been practicing this asked me in the street if I’d go out with them. I was creeped out and kept checking he wasn’t following me!
        Anyway best of luck with it all!

      4. Of course you aren’t unlovable! Do you ever try to initiate further hangouts or ask for numbers yourself? If saying something like “hey, you seem cool/I’ve enjoyed talking to you, want to get coffee next week?” seems like Too Much, maybe try talking more generally about something you’re interested in doing – eg, “I heard there’s an awesome bakery that just opened downtown.” If they seem interested, (“oh yeah, I heard they have the best cupcakes”), it’s a bit of an easier shift into “would you like to go there next week? I’ve been looking for someone to go with.”

        I also tend to default to the mindset that people do generally want to hang out (especially if they’re at a meetup type thing), they’re just too shy/awkward/inertia’d/etc to take on the emotional labour of setting it up themselves.

  26. #14 could have been written by someone I am dealing with right now, though he can write grammatically. In that connection he has also said #5, which could be interpreted to mean that he thinks I’ll change my mind one day.

    1. Ugh that sucks. Here’s the the African Violet of never gonna happen!

    1. Ooh! I was actually coming down to recommend a Tumblr post/Star Wars fic which grew out of that one!

      Backstory: the author is writing a Star Wars AU fic where Anakin, a couple years into being Darth Vader, relizes that he’s been an idiot (with the help of an elder on Tatooine) and becomes a spy for the Rebel Alliance (code name Ekkreth). Leia eventually becomes his main contact, although at this point in the story they still don’t know they are related (Bail didn’t trust Anakin enough to tell him, for obvious reasons).

      So Fialleril (the author of this fic) saw that bouquet of loathing and was inspired to write a couple Tumblr ficlets involving spy!Anakin sending bouquets of loathing to Palpatine:

      And a link to the actual fic, in case anyone’s interest was piqued:

      1. Oh dear, I didn’t realize it would do that giant wall-of-text thing. I just wanted to put in a link. Mods, help?

        (also, for anyone who, like me, doesn’t have a Tumblr account, you don’t need one to see this particular blog).

      2. OT, but, HOW did you make it do the thing where it basically reprints the post with formatting and everything?! It looks amazing! (Also this is a great fic, thanks for sharing it :D)

  27. To be a bit meta: I would be curious to see if posts like this drive more traffic to your site. As in, it’s self-reinforcing maybe? Like do more people come looking for info on making someone jealous because you posted the answer to, “How to make crush jealous at school.” from June 2015.

    1. I haven’t measured this but given the amount of traffic on this kind of post, my guess is “yes.”

    2. Yes— also, wasn’t there a similar letter to #13 at some point in the past?

  28. for the love of god don’t buy someone Monkshood, that doesn’t just mean an enemy is near it mean’s someone is trying to kill you cause those flowers are toxic to touch. I made the mistake of picking a pair of wild ones once and dropped it after a few seconds when i realized what it was, my hands still burned for about 15 min. They aren’t also called the queen of poisons for nothing.

    1. Really, the only acceptable ending to that is “… a delicious cake?”

      1. Amen to that.

        Or “…a fabulous supper,” or “…a hot toddy because they have an awful cold (and don’t mind alcoholic drinks),” or “…[insert delicious food/beverage here].”

      2. My mind keeps going:

        “How do I make someone?”
        “Well hold on there, Dr Frankenstein, that’s not going to end well.”

  29. I would dearly love to send someone a liver-shaped flower arrangement, made entirely of lilies. :-” (There are one or two candidates, yes, but more as a general concept in its own right 😀 ).

  30. I find the answer to (9) a bit harsh. “Admit that looks are really important to you” carries MAJOR connotations that the person is shallow, how dare she consider looks an issue in a relationship. But in fact she may be just not being physically attracted to one man, and that’s OK. Yes, possibly they should break up, but I really don’t like the implication that there is something inherently shallow or wrong about a woman because she doesn’t like a man’s personal appearance, and that is what the wording seemed to me to imply. It may not have been what was intended, but it plays into a larger social theme of not letting women choose their relationships, that we don’t care about appearance because it’s personality that counts etc. Why not just say, OK, maybe you don’t fancy this man, that’s all right, but it might mean you should break up, because why go out with someone whose appearance you don’t like?

    1. It’s really interesting to me that that’s how it came across to you! For what it’s worth, when I read (9), my interpretation was that the Captain was acknowledging the pressure you’re reacting to – the “larger social theme of not letting women choose their relationships, that we don’t care about appearance because it’s personality that counts” – and then saying, the hell with that, I know that’s what you’ve been pressured into believing about yourself, but maybe you’ll be happier if you admit that that isn’t true.

    2. You and I are in agreement! I don’t think that’s a shallow thing at all.

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