You’ve Heard of Ghost Writing Before, But Ghost Dating??

A ghostwriter is hired to write literary works that are officially credited to another person as the author. There is normally an included clause for anonymity so the ghostwriter can never steal the person’s thunder, which doesn’t seem quite fair since he/she is the person doing all the hard work!

I’ve ghostwritten material before, in fact even other blogs. Consider this: You may have just come from reading another post on WordPress that I am secretly the author of? Hey, it could happen!

But in the online dating world? You betcha! I’ve created many profiles for people who pay me to compose a creative ad because they’re at a loss for words as to how to best describe themselves or what to say to captivate someone to be interested enough to respond.

I charge a fee for this, which gets rather tricky when my friends approach me and ask me to write one for them “as a favor.”

In instances like this, bartering seems to be the best approach. For instance, I recently did a complimentary profile for a local eligible bachelor acquaintance who just happened to be a renowned surgeon. In return, he took my daughter’s tonsils out for free. That’s a great deal, right? (Especially when you consider that my “chatty” teenager had to be quiet for days ….yay! — and his new cool profile might procure him a wife who births bunches of children with more unnecessary body organs he can operate on all he wants!) That’s a win/win if ever there was one.

By the way, I created his profile headline to go something like this:

I’m Good With My Hands, So Can I Grab Your Heart?

Nobody had to know it involves anesthesia, right?

The big game-changer in all of this was when my female best friend not only asked me to write her a stunning profile, but begged me to go one step further and also compose (on her behalf) any replies to interested respondents. In return she would trade a month’s worth of homemade meals since she was a professional chef. Yum! (Cyrano de Bergerac  without the big nose anyone??)  Game on!

In the beginning it was easy because my friend didn’t attract many intelligent potential suitors. These dullard men were impressed by anything I wrote that went above “Hey there, Handsome!” or “Wow, you have a nice smile!”

Soon she wanted me to modify her profile so she WOULD draw in a higher caliber of man. Yep, she wanted me to (gasp!) lie about her appearance, her profession, and her hobbies. Within minutes I took her from a mousy brown-haired receptionist in a law office who enjoyed scrapbooking — to an alluring raven-tressed attorney with a passion for naked chess.

(Hey if there can be strip-poker, why not a more intellectual game also played in the nude?)

And by the way, I crafted her profile headline to go something like this:

If You Can Sustain an Objection, Let’s Adjourn to the Bedroom Cuz I’ve Got a Great Rebuttal!

Soon the responses began to pour in like crazy and I was very busy fielding them back with clever, smart retorts. The first week I got paid in lasagna, chicken cacciatore, beef stroganoff, and cobb salad!

I met with my girlfriend to show her all the people I was corresponding with “as her.” She was quite impressed with the lively conversations I was able to develop. But one online dialogue stood out the most for her. It was with someone in the medical field and our messages were full of volleying sexual quips back and forth and our tremendous internet chemistry literally leapt off the screen. Here’s an example of one of our initial communications:

Me: Hi! I’m sure you’re a doctor with a lot of patience. Maybe you’d like to give me a shot?

Him: That depends. Would it all be in vein?

Me: Oh you’re so funny. I can’t wait to hear what you’ll prescribe for my relief from this excruciatingly painful experience of online dating.

Him: Well I’m actually a surgeon, so I hope I make the final cut. You might say I’m The Wizard of Gauze.

Me: Haha. You have me in stitches, Dr!

“Ohhhhh! That’s the guy I want to be with,” my friend announced matter-of-factly after reading page after page of our witty rapport.

“Are you sure he’s the one?” I asked. “Maybe one of the other men would be a better match?”

“Nope, I’ve made up my mind. Can you set up the initial meeting date?”

“Okaaaaay. I’ll write to him tonight,” I hesitatingly confirmed. “Should it be in the day or evening?”

“When are you available?” she inquired.

I stood there incredulous. “Wait! You want ME to go and meet him for you?  Am I supposed to sleep with him too??”

She deliberated a moment, then told me that wouldn’t be necessary because she’d take it from there. I looked at her skeptically, but she threw in a fettuccine alfredo PLUS key-lime pie, so at that point I had no choice but to proceed.

The night of the big meeting approached and I was nervous at how to explain this entire complicated predicament. The doctor and I got along famously, just as well in fact as we did when he first hired me to write his dating profile and then again in the recovery room after he’d taken out my daughter’s tonsils.

Handsome, smart, funny. I almost wished I was available to date him. But then I remembered what was happening.

Him: So thank you again Stephanie for handling all these many email responses for me. Boy these women sure like to type, huh? It’s been a really busy week in the hospital and you’ve responded to these even better than I could.

Me: Yes well, I guess that’s what happens when you have a son who breaks his leg in football and needs a cast. Thank you for your medical barter —  Can you give me a quick eye-lift next week too?

Him:  You’ve earned it, Sugar. And I love how you had me say, “All in vein.” Ha ha. I wouldn’t have thought being so punny could turn a woman on so much. And look at her response about being in stitches after finding out that I’m a surgeon…boy she can certainly hold her own, eh? She must kill the jury in the courtroom.  Please write to her immediately and tell her I want to set up a meeting with the woman who entertained me so much!

I wanted to tell him, “Uh, You’re actually having it right this very moment.”

Instead I went home, quickly gathered up my recovering son and daughter, (plus all my deliciously pre-made meals!) and absconded to a deserted mountain cabin.

Whether the both of them finally figured out they were simultaneously paying me to write their emails and that all along, I was actually just talking to ….. myself, I’ll never know. But that will be the last time I dabble in ghost-writing!

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What I Wouldn’t Give For a Rhyme

 

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It’s more challenging than playing Gin and waiting for your right card,

Finding a rhyme for poems is frustrating and just so very  …. difficult.

 

Sometimes I come incredibly close, both in syllables and in the sound,

But the words seem awkward or gross, and rhymes are never….discovered.

 

Other bloggers have a gift, they just immediately know how to rhyme.

Quick, fast and swift — perfect couplets every single …. duration.

 

They don’t have to Google or force ’em — they never struggle or strain.

Cheater’s dictionaries,  I don’t endorse ’em, so I just rack my …. mind.

 

Maybe I should write free-verse for adults, more sophisticated, I know,

Who needs matchy kiddy jingles? Just be loose and let the words … stream.

 

Here’s to non-rhyming grown-up topics like death, taxes and lovers’ scorn,

Maybe even controversial issues like politics, war, and stuff you find in porn.

 

Hey!  Did you see that?  Once I stopped trying, it suddenly occurred on its own,

I don’t mean to boast or brag, but it’s obvious dear reader, I’m finally in the zone.

 

Look out Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss — your competition is gonna be rough,

You could just make an excuse, cuz next to me you’re both just a cream … pastry.

 

Oh no, now it’s gone! But you can bet I’m not goin’ down without the good fight.

You might say I’m tenacious, stubborn, relentless. And you’d be exactly ….correct!

Leave a link to your favorite blogging poet in today’s comment section!

 

Should You Start Parenting Yourself? “We’ll See!”

There’s a theory floating around these days that if you missed out on crucial emotionally satisfying input from your mother and/or your father as a child, you will walk around seeking what you lacked in your past via other people in your present. Particularly in romantic relationships. Uh oh!

There’s another theory wafting about that says (and I’m over-simplifying) that when you become upset in life, you actually have what it takes to soothe and comfort yourself.

Now nobody has come out and combined both of these theories together in a weirdly logical way, but I will boldly integrate them right now by asking the obvious question. “Can we just be our own parent and become happy and content forever??”

Always up for a multiple personality experiment to help my blog content, (Translation=I LIKE talking to myself!) I will give it a try for the next 24-hours.

My name is Stephanie so therefore a Capital “S” IN BOLD will be the version of my parent side and lower-case “s’ will represent me, the woman I actually am today.  Ready?  Here I go….

s: Wow, it’s really colder outside than it looked. I’m freezing right now.

S: That’s what you get when you don’t keep an extra sweater or jacket in your car.

s: Yes that would have been smart. But right now, I’m super hungry and am going to focus on picking up some food at Le Fondue.

S: Le Fondue? Do you think money grows on trees? And stop frowning, do you want your face to freeze that way?

s: The answers to those questions respectively are Maybe and Botox. But seriously, all my friends get salads, soups, and crepes from Le Fondue.

S: Well if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do that too? Now go home and cook something healthy.

s: Why would all my friends do that? Unless of course, they all had a mother like you.

S: Don’t you get smart with me! Did you hear me? Answer my question.

s: No, of course I wouldn’t jump off a bridge. But why do I have to go home?

S: Because I said so.

s: Well then can I eat at Le Fondue tomorrow night?

S: Ask your father.

Alright, alright. I’m not doing 24 hours of this nonsense, I cannot even do five minutes. I guess the point is that our “inner parent” may not be much better than our original childhood role model was. (Oh hi mom! This blog is not about you, it’s supposed to be humorous and fictional.)

Well if theory number one (above) is true, then I guess the man I’m embarking on a new relationship with may get slightly frustrated with me from time to time. I suppose he can always just say, “As long as you’re living under my roof, you’ll behave appropriately.” Wait a sec, that doesn’t seem quite right either. Hmmm.

Well until I figure all this relationship/childhood/happiness/life stuff out, this post can serve another purpose — my covert way of officially welcoming him to the WordPress blogosphere because he’s trying out blogging for the very first time.  If you’d like to read some terrific and eclectic poetry and prose, you can take a shortcut to peruse his stuff right HERE. 

Meanwhile, I’m off to buy a special Time-Out chair so that when I tell myself, “I’ve had just about enough of you and your shenanigans, Young Lady!” I’ll have a designated place to sit in seclusion — because I’m really not disciplined enough to ground myself (without a car or cellphone!) for an entire weekend.

 

Do You Recycle, Reuse, Repeat Yourself in Future Relationships??

 

“I used to have a lot of close connections. But they lived in Connecticut so I cut them off. Get it? Connect-I-Cut?”

Noooo! If I EVER hear that stale old line uttered again, I may have to pour grated parmesan over the head of the speaker, because that’s how cheesy I find it.

Unfortunately the speaker was my 1st husband. This was a husband who told the exact same jokes and one-liners for the entire decade of our marriage and expressed great disappointment that I didn’t giggle just as heartily after hearing them the millionth time as I did when we were first dating. But I was the dutiful wife and thus we had an agreement —  at any get-together, party, or date-night out with another couple, I’d laugh hysterically at his stuff, dab my eyes with a napkin, pretending to catch my breath so I could sputter, “Ohhhh. Isn’t he hilarious? Such a card!”

This set him up for his next line which was, “Yeah, but instead of the Jack of Spades, I’m the Jack of all Trades!” And he’d launch into his many talents and skills. Pleeeease!

“Look, either get some exciting new material or get a new audience,” I’d say, stifling a yawn once we were home together alone in our bed. (Note: I may or may NOT have been referring to his comedy routine.)

He chose the latter option. We divorced.

My second husband and I were together for many years and like any couple we developed our own routines and distinctive little ways of relating to one another that I called, MMM (“Memorable Marriage Minutia.”)

Examples would be a) Taking a Selfie of ourselves with our eyes closed while each person held up a number of fingers behind the other person’s head. When we’d look at the photo, if we each had the same number of fingers we “won” and rewarded ourself with a nice dinner out or a picnic on the beach. b) If there was just one piece of our favorite food left on a plate, we’d split in half, in half, in half and so on until there was the tiniest of crumbs too infinitesimal to split in half — and then we’d play rock/paper/scissors to see who got it. c) I’d write messages to him on the outside of his banana peel in his lunch.

(Hey! I didn’t say these were sane rituals, just OURS.)

Fast forward to our breakup and I’m walking down our same favorite sandy shoreline exactly one year later (What? It’s not like he was awarded the entire beach in our divorce agreement!) when I spot two people taking a Selfie by their picnic basket. Wait! Are they actually holding their fingers up behind each other? As I suspiciously head closer, they sprawl out on their blanket and a lively game of rock/paper/scissors ensues. Really??? I wait until my ex loses (he always picks “paper!”) and run up to them shouting, “Noooo! That’s mine. I copyrighted that. What do you need, a patent? A registered trademark? You can’t steal that!” I am (of course!) pointing to the banana with the Sharpie scribbled writing that’s grasped in her hand as they look incredulously at me.

Sheesh. C’mon folks! Don’t recycle. Can nothing be reinvented for the new person in your life? Maybe I should teach a class called, “How to Have an Original New Relationship!” I’ll walk around during test days and chastise, “Don’t look at each other’s papers, ya bunch of copycat romantic wannabes!”

Fittingly, last night I was dining in a quiet Italian restaurant at a secluded booth with a date of my own (trying to create a new fun little tradition between us regarding the bill the waitress had just set on the table!) when what familiar snatch of dialogue should I hear floating through the air?

“Did I ever tell you about my close connections in Connecticut?”

That was it! I couldn’t help myself. As my 1st ex-husband’s latest girlfriend stared with astonishment, I proceeded to dump powdered parmesan cheese all over his head. She burst out laughing and said, “Ugh. Thank you for finally silencing the “Jack of all Trades.”

I have a feeling I just laid the groundwork for their own future unique ritual — albeit a remarkably cheesy one.

READERS: Do you have secret little rites or actions you do with someone special in your life? Don’t share them in the comments section….someone will surely refurbish, revamp, and reclaim them as their own! 🙂

Do You Ask For What You Want? Or Just Drop Hints?

That depends on what it is we want and with whom we are making the request of, doesn’t it? We’re all aware that nobody can intuitively know what we want/need to be happy. We know people can’t read minds. Yet in some cases, we’re NEVER gonna ask directly, simply because it’s awkward and scary.

However NOT in this case:

Me: Kids, I want you to clean up this kitchen before I return. I’m not going to be happy if I come home to this disgusting mess!

Can you imagine my resorting to dropping a hint because it’s too uncomfortable to ask?

Me: Children, it sure would be nice if somehow while I was at the gym, the birds and forest creatures from Snow White scurried about doing these dirty dishes while singing “Whistle While You Work!”  Gosh, I wonder how I’d feel to see a surprise like that?

In the latter example, I came home to our front door left ajar, a parakeet flapping around the kitchen table, and a squirrel licking the cake batter from a mixing bowl left in the kitchen sink. Oh well.

Let’s try another:

Me: I have been writing this humor column over a year now for your magazine and I’m aware that readers tell you I’m their favorite. I feel my value is worth more than you’re currently paying me and I’d like a substantial raise.

Versus….

Me: Last night I had a bizarre dream that readers picketed your publication with signs saying “Bring Back Stephanie’s Column!” after it disappeared because the amount of $$  I make doesn’t cover my electric bill and my power was turned off so my computer wouldn’t work.

In the latter monologue, I received a laptop battery pack.

And last example:

Me: This is a new dress I’m wearing, and I took great pains putting my hair in an up-do so it wouldn’t be sticking up in a million different directions (like usual!) and I was hoping to hear you liked how I looked tonight.

Versus…

Me: What a coincidence! At the wedding tonight, the parking valet, the doorman, the bartender, the DJ, the waiter, the justice of the peace, and even the groom all told me I looked gorgeous and wished I was on their arm tonight. But there was only one guy I really wanted to hear that from…

In the latter example I was marched up to the garbage man in the parking lot who sheepishly wolf-whistled at me after my boyfriend prompted, “Well?? . . . ”

By now you may be catching on that anything I ask for inevitably backfires on me. First of all in a relationship, I shoot myself in the foot before I even do the requesting because a little voice in me says, “Well…if you have to resort to asking, it’s not really coming from his own mind/heart so it’s going to be forced and contrived, and not sincere. It only counts if he thinks of it himself.”

Poor guy! Can he ever win?

But what about looking at this proverbial “Ask and you shall receive” philosophy on a larger scale? We’re talking God, the Universe, a Higher Power?

For years, (like everyone!) I desired certain things .  .  . to meet my true soulmate, to have a baby, to get a Hollywood agent to represent my writing, etc. I had no problem (or ever felt awkward!) asking for these things by way of prayer (don’t worry, I also prayed for sick people!)) or using the Power of Manifestation that everyone talks about these days.

But then something ironic happened. I met folks who had received their hearts desires and were absolutely, positively certain that it wasn’t because they had put in requests or tried really hard. In fact, they claimed it was when they STOPPED wanting these things that everything finally happened in their favor.

Yep, my best girlfriend tells anyone who listens, “When I took my online profile down and gave up on dating, I was rear-ended by my handsome soul-mate driving a garbage truck” (I guess he graduated from wolf-whistling to fender benders!)

And my sister-in-law loves to tell the story about accepting that she couldn’t get pregnant. But the moment adoption proceedings began, she was puking in the kitchen sink (I guess there was no squirrel in hers!)

Aha! I would use this theory to my advantage. But instead of just stopping my efforts and nonchalantly moving on with my life, I would do one better. I would fool the Universe by acting as if I did NOT want the thing I really REALLY wanted. Are you following this? Do you believe you can trick the universe? I did!

I sent this letter:

Dear High Powered Hollywood Agent,

I’m so grateful you’ve never responded to my many requests to peruse my blog, check out my novel, or called about representing me in a movie deal. I mean can we be real for a minute — what kind of life would that be for me? I don’t have time for nagging fans and paparazzi. Look what happened to Princess Di! You’re doing me a favor by ignoring me. Don’t even think about reading me on Huffington Post. Stay away! You’re banned!

Stephanie D. Lewis

It worked! I was gleeful when I saw his name in my email inbox. Seriously — 137 attempts had been made to contact this man previously and none of them elicited any response or acknowledgement. Eagerly I clicked on his message.

Dear SDL,

You’re very welcome. And to reciprocate, you are now also officially banned from coming anywhere near my Beverly Hills office. See attached restraining order, you nutcase.

Sincerely,

HPHA

Ugh….really?  Sorry God. I’ll be returning to the power of prayer tonight, if you’ll let me back into your good graces??

Readers: Do you ask for what you want? If you’d like to read a more serious article (of course that would probably mean I am NOT the author!) on how to accomplish this in healthy ways, just go HERE. 

PS. I really want you to leave me a comment … so will you? 

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The Day the Doctor (and the music?) Died!

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Photo by Miguel Arcanjo Saddi on Pexels.com

(Sung to the Tune of Bye Bye Miss American Pie)

Bye Bye Little Miss Menopause’s Guy

Took an Uber Car to Urgent Care, the receptionist did cry,

Them good ole nurses were eating Apple-a-Day pie,

Singing ‘he had a fatal heart attack, but we don’t know why?’

The day the doctor died.

And that’s when his entire office staff asked me to attend his funeral. Not only that, they said I was the patient who visited the most frequently and therefore Dr. Danzig would have wanted me to give his eulogy.

Sure he would! The man who called in sick whenever he saw my name on his appointment log?

We always had a real love/hate patient/doctor relationship going on, but right now I was in shock. Here was a guy I had faith in and went to each and every time I found a lump of cancer, suffered a stroke, had a heart attack, diagnosed myself with Early Onset Alzheimers or had numbness in my hands.  Each and every time he’d calmly tell me I was overreacting, and that symptoms of death didn’t manifest as a reflexive cough, a scratchy throat, itchy skin, flaky scalp, or a stomach that hurt when I laughed too hard.

I can own it. Yes, I was the proverbial hypochondriac. But I finally had begun to relax. Believing that he was right, and that by always following his sage advice, I would remain amongst the living.

And now he departs this earth without any warning?

You know what that means, don’t you?  Everything he told me to do — how to eat, how to drink, how to exercise, how to breathe, how to sleep, how to blow my nose, was entirely wrong. It had backfired on him and it was only a matter of time I would suffer the same fate.

This is different than your hairdresser showing up with gray hair, your teller at First American Financial declaring bankruptcy, or your mechanic’s own car brakes failing, — this is your doctor, the professional health expert that you trust to know what he’s talking about suddenly DYING!!

OMG! Before I meet my maker, maybe I should give serious consideration to writing my doctor’s eulogy. Here’s what I’ll say….

Dr. Danzig — it’s me, Little Miss Menopause. The one who’d sit in your waiting room, wringing her (numb!) hands, planning her own funeral. And now I’m attending yours, and reminiscing over all the visits and phone calls we shared…

I’ll always fondly recall the following little games we played:

  1. You’d leave the room after commanding me to undress. I’d panic, frantically trying to get that rattling, flimsy paper gown over my body in thirty seconds flat. And then, (I kid you not!) you’d strategically time your loud knocking on the door to the split second when my jeans/panties were off, but my thick woolen sweater was stuck over my head — so my voice muffled as I’d try to shout, “Give me one more minute!” You’d barge in and say, “What’s the difference if I see you naked standing vertical? I’m just going to gawk at you naked when you’re horizontal on my examination table?” You had a point, but still.
  2. Speaking of your table. Remember how you once admitted your nurse is forgetful and might not always remember to change the tissue paper between exams and how your last patient had syphilis. You little prankster, you!
  3. That time when I came in complaining that whenever I inhaled, I felt sharp pain in my lungs and you said, “The remedy for that is simple. Stop breathing.” What a card you were!
  4. Our cute phone tag shenanigans! I’d be desperate to find out my blood work results, (certain I had leukemia) and you’d (I have zero proof of this, but I wouldn’t put it past you!) have your leisurely breakfast at your desk, peruse my normal hemoglobin count which you’d record in my chart, then tell your receptionist, “Hold all my calls. I have an important meeting.” Next you’d chuckle as you’d overhear your front office phone ringing incessantly. Oh what fun!
  5. I’d bring freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to the lab, thereby bribing a technician to give me my blood results directly, breathe a sigh of relief they were fine and then proceed to hatch my plan. In your own sweet time, (bless your heart!) you’d finally return my phone calls, but hear the following outgoing message. “I’m sorry I missed you. If this is Dr. Danzig phoning, I have something urgent to tell you about glimpsing your wife in the restaurant where I was having lunch today. Leave me a message and I’ll get right back to you.” Then I’d go to a double feature at the movies and out for dinner. Wheeeee, good times!

Wait a minute, this really wasn’t a nice eulogy. It was more of a “cruelogy,” I thought as I imagined his bereaved family sobbing by his casket, none appreciating the humor in what I wrote. Serves him right though for always downplaying my symptoms, telling me they were nothing, that I was the boy who cried wolf who happened to wear dresses, and that everything was gonna turn out just fine.

A tear ran down my cheek as I imagined him experiencing his own chest pains, shortness of breath, left arm numbness, while optimistically telling himself it was probably just something he ate. Poor man believing his own propaganda. Doctor, heal thyself!

My phone rang and I answered immediately upon seeing the caller ID announcing Dr. Danzig. Really?

“Gotcha good this time!” he heartily laughed. “Now you know how I feel when you always insist you’re dying. And also — that’ll teach you to imply my wife is cheating on me!”

I seethed on the other end of the line. “You just wait, Dr. Danzig. I’m going to come in next time with bizarre mysterious symptoms and tell your entire waiting room that I was bit by a yellow-bellied sap sucker in your parking lot and it’s highly contagious.”

He chuckled, “Yes, but I saw you naked!”

Ugh, he had me there. But I was relieved he wasn’t a Dead Duck…. just perhaps a living Quack!

Readers — Do you have a healthy relationship with your physician? Do you wanna strangle him or do you love him “to death?”

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Have You Heard About “1st Date Dilemma Dissection” Sessions?

 

Everyone knows when spouses get into trouble, it’s wise to go and see a specialist to help sort out communication and major issues before a divorce ensues. Next came Pre-Marital therapy which started with a member of the clergy (but eventually any psychology specialist went into the business) meeting with the engaged couple to talk about commitment and honoring their vows and getting the soon to be newlyweds off to a healthy start emotionally. After that there was the Invention of Couple’s Counseling which sounds like what it is — a couple has been dating exclusively but maybe there are some problems they’d like to nip in the bud before they become more destructive.

But why stop there? I think I’m on to something by introducing 1st Date Dilemma Dissection.  In fact, I will volunteer to try it below with a reputable trained therapist….listen in!

Therapist:  Okay, so you met on Match dot com and you both felt you had something in common worth pursuing after the initial coffee meeting.

Him: Well weirdly she doesn’t like coffee, but I love it.

Me: He didn’t say “weirdly” back then. He said he found me an original.

Him: An original with freakishly white teeth.

Therapist: Be that as it may — after your first meet-up, the two of you agreed to go to dinner and a movie.

Him: Even though you can’t really talk in a movie. But if that’s what the lady wanted….

Me: The Oscars are coming and I’ve only seen 8 out of the 10 contenders.

Therapist: Seems pretty OCD. So at the restaurant, Stephanie turned to you and said? Stephanie?

Me: I’ll have the cobb salad, without bacon, substitute feta for the crumbled bleu cheese, and dressing on the side.

Therapist: And how did that make you feel, Him?

Him: Kinda like a waiter.

Me: That’s simply not true. I never ….

Therapist: (raises a finger) Bup, bup, bup….his perception is his reality, dear.

Him: To be fair, I had asked her what she felt like eating.

Therapist: Be that as it may, you were starting to sense perhaps a power struggle or control issues.

Me: Well I had given him a head’s up that I am kind of a picky eater so it didn’t come as a surprise.

Him: No biggie. And after we ordered I noticed she was shivering so I put my jacket over her shoulders.

Therapist: And how did that make you feel? Like she was needy? Codependent?

Him: I hadn’t thought of that.

Therapist: And how did that jacket make you feel, Stephanie? Like he was a rescuer?

Me: Well honestly, he misconstrued my body language. I wasn’t cold. I was trembling because someone walked by the window with a python and I have a snake phobia. And also his jacket smelled of cigars which I find disgusting.

Him: Uh, I didn’t know that. I raise snakes. But I’m trying to quit cigars.

Therapist: Cold turkey?

Me: Yes his turkey arrived cold and I encouraged him to speak up to our server and send it back and …

Therapist: Bup, bup, bup. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here. It’s not time to discuss assertiveness. I’d like to focus on his lack of disclosure about his smoking habit.

Him: I give you my word, Stephanie. I’ve just had my last cigar. You’re worth it.

Me: Awww, I totally trust you.

Therapist: Snakes AND Cigars?? You do know what those things symbolize in Freudian psychology, right?

Him: Done! Why don’t we plan a second date and go to Disneyland and I’ll pack us a pic…

Therapist: Bup, bup, bup. Be that as it may, I’d like you to turn to Stephanie and look her in the eyes and tell her what bothers you right now.

Him: (looks deeply into my pupils) I can’t stand this shrink saying “bup bup bup” every two seconds.

Me: Right? And what’s up with “Be that as it may??”

Him: What are the odds we’d both feel the same way at the exact same moment? That’s some hot chemistry we have going on.

Me: Smoking hot!

Him: Please don’t mention smoking.

Me: Sorry. But seriously, who talks like that?

Therapist: Well I do. I do? I do! Oh, that’s right. We should discuss both of your feelings about marriage.

Him: Wanna lose this chick and grab a drink and then go dancing?

Me: Oh what do you drink? And what’s your last name again so I can put you in my contacts?

Therapist: That’s all the time we have this week. We’ll have to discuss his last name and his drinking problem when we reconvene.

Tada!  That’s how you get a first date off on the right foot….pick a really crummy therapist to dislike equally and bond over.

Happy Vow-entines Day (I Vow not to let this day impact me)

February is just a month. 14 is just a number. It’s all about commercialism anyhow.

These are the things I’ve told myself ever since I was in the 4th grade and Mrs. Gerson had us craft little mailboxes out of empty tissue boxes, (the open slit at the top was perfect for dropping notes inside) paint cute red hearts on them, and then distribute valentines to our classmates. Note: There was no rule back then that you had to give everyone a valentine. I received exactly three. One was from Mrs. Gerson.

Lesson learned? Only cry if you have a second tissue box that hasn’t been converted into a mailbox.

But here’s some big Valentine news to me. It’s not just a single day I’m dealing with anymore, now it’s an entire week! Did anyone else know this?  Click HERE

Starting on February 7 the official days are called: Rose Day, Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day, Promise Day, Hug Day, and Kiss Day.

Oh my god. Can I add another week of days to follow after Valentine’s Day?

Feb 15: “What the hell just happened?” day. Feb 16: “Argue and Fight” day. Feb 17: “Makeup Sex” day. Feb 18: “Presidents” day (contemplate what sleeping with Washington or Lincoln would be like) Feb 19: ” Back on Diet” day (Chocolate Day got a little out of hand) Feb 20: “Flirt with others” day. Feb 21: `”Discuss whether the above mentioned ‘Teddy Day’ was supposed to just be about an adorable stuffed bear or something more like this” day.

Does every male now know this type of lingerie is called a Teddy?

I would now like to offer some alternative solutions to this confusing holiday of Love. We could simply change the V to a P and it easily becomes “Palentine’s Day”– Honor the friends who are there after each heartache we suffer.

Or change up the ending of the word. “Valentwine Day” — Tie up those we love with rope until they say “yes” when we ask, “Will you be mine?”

Or we could pay tribute to five overlooked letters of the alphabet that need a little more attention because they’re constantly reminded they’re not consonants. A-E-I-O-U and Y. That’s right…..

 “Happy Vowelentine’s Day!” 

(Hallmark, listen up!)

A — is for “Adore” which is always much easier to say instead of the L-word.

E — is for “Everything” that I put in my dating profile that I am looking for in a match. And you decide to pretend to be all of those things to win me over in the beginning and now you’re feeling put upon. But when you try to go back to being your real self, I’ll cry out, “You’ve changed!” in an accusing sort of way, but really you just went back to being who you originally were in the first place. Gotta love E.

I — is for “Ice-Cream.” Any flavor works after what E stood for.

O — is for “Overwhelmed” which is something you can say (“I feel overwhelmed!”) anytime you want someone to give you space.

U — is for “Unite.” But also for “Untie.” Which is very scary in a relationship if anyone has dyslexia.

Y — is for “Yawn.” Are you feeling bored in your relationship? Console yourself by remembering that Y is only sometimes a vowel! Occasional boredom you can live with, yes? Y is also for “Yes!”

Readers: Feel free to leave me a comment describing the worst thing that ever happened to you on Valentine’s Day. 

Object of Affection Vs. Object of Obsession?

Have you seen the new Netflix television series called “YOU?” It’s based on the novel of the same name and it’s unsettling, to say the least. But the concept can also be confusing because . . .

Falling in REAL love can make you act irrationally and exhibit emotional and physiological instability. Don’t believe me? Click HERE for scientific research. That’s right! You become focused solely on the person you’re head over heels with, and think of nothing else for weeks on end. It closely mimics obsession.

How then can you tell the difference between someone exhibiting the above symptoms (especially with love at first sight, or the beginning stages of becoming smitten) and an imbalanced type of personality who may even have stalker potential?

Obviously certain cases of the latter are extremely easy to identify. Having lots of experience in the single, online dating world has earned me more than my fair share of horror stories.  One man I messaged with (a mere two times!) is an example of someone who needs to wear one of those tee-shirts that proclaim, “I am the guy your mother warned you about!”

 

Long story short, my dating profile made the mistake of mentioning I was published on The Huffington Post. Somehow he ascertained my real last name and found my articles there. From that point he was able to find my cellphone number and then (utilizing a kind of “reverse caller ID location app”) obtain my home address and show up that night ringing my doorbell. You can imagine my shock. Especially because he wasn’t holding a large cheese pizza since that was what I’d just ordered.

But let’s not write-off these Creeper types as ignorant or unintelligent. They read! They google!  All they need is one article like this “17 Signs of Falling in Love that Make it Real and they can adopt every single one of these traits and voilá … you’re likely to be fooled!

That’s why you have my blog to demonstrate sure-fire ways to discern the difference (using examples from a wide variety of categories and behaviors below) just by examining subtle nuances. Stuff you’d never even think about if it weren’t for me. You’re welcome!

Level of Observance

With Love — They’ll watch you doze

With Stalker — They’ll watch you decompose

Favorite Veggie

With Love — Heart-shaped red radishes

With Stalker — Celery Stalks

Social Media

With Love — Finds you on Facebook

With Stalker — You find yourself on How to Use “MaceBook.”

Telephone Etiquette

With Love — “You hang up first. No YOU hang up first. Okay, let’s both hang up together. 1, 2, 3 Go!”

With Stalker — They hang up on your voicemail message. 123 times a day.

Thoughts

With Love — You’re always on my mind.

With Stalker — You’re out of your mind.

Favorite Dessert

With Love — Raspberry crêpe with whipped cream

With Stalker — HarrassBerry Creep with unzipped scheme

Gifts

With Love — Flowers, mementos, cards, candy, concert tickets

Stalker — All the above, but given as Stalking Stuffers — even though it’s not Xmas!

Favorite Scent

With Love — Calvin Klein “Obsession”

With Stalker — Victoria’s Secret “Love”

 

I know that seems reversed just to throw you off track — but never fear, “The Nose Knows!”

Favorite Song

With Love — “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles

With Stalker — “Jeepers, Creepers, Where’d Ya Get Those Peepers?” 2nd Fave – “Every Breath You Take” by the Police

Favorite Quote

With Love — “Love means never having to say you’re sorry!”

With Stalker — “Love means never having to say calamari.”

This means when you’re in a seafood restaurant with a Creeper type, you won’t be forced to order the squid. And that’s a pretty redeeming trait!

Readers: I’ve made light of this topic in this post, but stalking is a serious crime. If you or someone you know is a victim, there are resources for help HERE.

Beware — The Vulnerable, Vacillating, Vanishing Valentine Villain!

 

 

It all began on February 1st because I went to see my therapist for ideas on how to feel closer to my neighbors and become a bigger part of my local community.

Therapist: How can I help you?

Me: Every day I walk exactly 11 miles before 11:11 pm on the clock and…

Therapist: So you’re here to address your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Me: No, that’s just my lucky number. The point is I encounter tons of neighbors on my walks but nobody says hello or acts friendly at all. And if I wave, they just ignore me.

Therapist: So you have a fear of rejection and a wounded child syndrome.

After I convinced her I was emotionally healthy, we decided the approaching Feb 14th holiday was the ideal opportunity for me to foster a more neighborly attitude. I would bake heart-shaped cookies and leave a sweet message on nearby front porches. Perfect. It would be a “Love Thy Neighbor” type of deal. Hey! Maybe I’d even start a new trend like that “Pay It Forward” kid did and become famous!

Then came all the trouble over “LOVE.” Because it was centered around the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, of course I wrote “I Love You!” on a sticky Post-It and attached it to the plate. Hallmark says it and so do those putrid conversation heart candies — why can’t I?

The next morning my neighbor confronted me at the mailbox with raised eyebrows and asked me what exactly I meant by that? I assured him I’ve lived here for nineteen years now and had just grown fond of his entire family. He frowned and hurried away, issuing a warning about mounting one of those video surveillance cameras on his front door.

I consulted my therapist who advised me to omit the “I” from “I Love you!” It was too overt and felt threatening to people, she told me. “Besides if you’re signing your name, they all know who you are anyhow,” she further explained.

Okaaaay. Cookies went out again, this time with a card that simply stated, “Love You!”

That afternoon, I overheard two neighbors talking in suspicious tones underneath my window.

Neighbor #1: What’s up with this Stephanie chick and those weird, mushy sentiments?

Neighbor #2: Yeah! Why can’t she just wait until Halloween and leave the normal, “You’ve been booed!” scary anonymous goblin note with treats instead?

So essentially I live in an area where people would rather be spooked than loved!

My therapist next recommended I try a different cul-de-sac of homes and dial it back even more. She suggested writing “Luv Ya!” because that was somehow more appropriate. Why I had to intentionally misspell words didn’t make any sense, but if that’s what it took, I was on it.

My children were annoyed that I kept baking heart-shaped cookies around the clock but not a one was for their consumption. Nevertheless I was determined to make this plan a success. The next batches went out late at night and I felt really good about it — plus my signature was now, “From Your Secret Valentine Vixen!” so it would be completely anonymous like the Halloween ghost thing they mentioned.

I was confident my neighborhood would now be a much nicer place to take walks in! But that was before I ran into five women standing in a huddle and looking disturbed. I moved in closer to hear what all the fuss was about.

Neighbor #1: There’s a Valentine Vamp after our husbands!

Neighbor #2: Yes! And she’s also a Valentine Vandal. There were cookie sprinkles littered all over our brand new front doormat.

Neighbor #3: Plus she’s undermining our parental authority because we don’t allow sugar anywhere near our children.

Me: (enthusiastically joining in) The sheer audacity of this woman. Let’s intercept her mail!

And that’s how I hit on the best way to get close to all my neighbors . . . I would bond with them through everyone’s anger and disgust over me – the loving Valentine cookie baker!

But for good measure, I left a plate of exactly 11 heart-shaped confections on my therapist’s office door with a note that said, “Wuv U!”

She called me immediately. Her voicemail said, “We really must work on your OCD and that neglected Inner Child of yours!”