Friday, December 31, 2010

My first ever advice column

I never thought this would be something I’d be doing, but then my friend told me I should and so I’ll give it a shot. It’s a relationship/sex advice column for women.

E-mailed questions were sent to me by females, and I’m going to try my best to give them an answer.

What qualifies me to do this? Nothing tangible. I haven’t been good with relationships or sex really, and I’m sure you could find many women who would readily attest to one, the other or both. One girl I know told me the idea of me writing a relationship advice column was probably the funniest thing she’d ever heard, and she told me I should provide a disclaimer “to be fair to women.”

I can do that.

My advice might not work for you. If it seems like it might not be the best idea to follow my advice, then don’t. You don’t always have to take it when it’s offered, kind of like a hand job. If it seems like I told some kind of joke at some point in my answer, then it’s probably a joke and you shouldn’t really do it. If you can’t figure it out one way or another, just e-mail me again and I’ll shoot you straight.

Anyway, my friends who are girls have always seemed comfortable talking to me and asking me for advice. I’m not sure why at all, but that’s the way it’s been since high school, and I’m completely fine with it. I like listening to these girls’ problems and questions, and I like spending time thinking of advice they might benefit from. If I can help a platonic friend on her journey toward happiness, then that’s great. That way, I’ll have to listen to less bitching from them in the future.

I’ve been in love before, but I’m not now. Every time I’ve fallen in love, I have messed it up. I’ve messed up relationships when they haven’t even been very serious. I’ve messed up relationships when they weren’t even really defined as relationships. But, come on. 

Do you really want your relationship advice from somebody who met their significant other in high school and then got married before they were legally allowed to drink? I sure as Hell don’t. (Case in point: I just came across a friend’s Facebook status. She got married earlier this year, at 22: “My awesome husband is taking me to get paint so we can paint our living room and hallway!!!!!!! Made my entire month!! :)” ) Do you want advice on romantic bliss from a person whose month has been made because her husband bought her some fucking paint?

*NOTE: I've caught some flack for this one, and now I feel bad. There is nothing wrong with being happy about paint, or with being married. I was joking, and I apologize if I was offensive.

A lack of romance in my life -- and some misguided desire to acquire it -- has allowed me to evaluate it in others, whether it be for real, in a Nicholas Sparks book (I’ve read a few, so what?) or by way of a television show or rom-com. If you spend the majority of your life in a successful relationship, you don’t have to think about the problems that plague people who haven’t come across what you have just yet. If you spend the majority of your life not in one, then you spend a lot of time thinking about why this might be.

I’ve learned from a combination of observation, discussion, research and personal experience through the years. The amount of time I’ve spent thinking about what I could’ve done differently to make various relationships (and even one-night-stands) work out has been substantial, even if I haven’t benefited too much from it so far. I’ve always told people I’m better at giving advice than following it.

These are real e-mails from real women. I’m only using the first initial of their first name, because I said anonymity was allowed, and none of them signed their letters “Lonely in Pittsburgh,” or “Sleepless in Seattle,” or “Horny in Flint,” so this seemed like a logical way to do things.

If you like what you read and want to ask me a question, e-mail me at 


I have been dating my boyfriend for over six months, and lately something
 has really come to bother me. He never takes me out. However, when we do on
 a rare occasion I end up having to pay for myself. In addition, when he 
"spots" me money, he continuously reminds me that I have to pay him back 
for it. I understand having a guy pay for everything for his girlfriend
is greedy and selfish, but I do believe in chivalry somewhat and think
that paying every so often wouldn't be such a sin. He has a steady job
 and works, so not having money is not the issue here. I want to bring it
 up to him, however I really don't know a nice way to mention it. Do you
 think I should bring this problem up or just let it go? And if so, what 
do I say to not come off as stuck up?


At the very least, your boyfriend should be taking you out occasionally, and paying for the date. Every guy who deserves to have lost his virginity before age 25 knows this is the way it’s supposed to be, and most of us will take girls out and pay whether we agree with it or not. I know we’re not living in the Victorian era, but chivalry’s not dead. It’s understandable if sometimes you guys split a check or something, but it should kind of be a matter of pride for a guy not to allow his girlfriend to pay for dates, especially if cash flow isn’t a problem. This is borderline unacceptable, unless he surprises you this Christmas with something big, like a Lexus, hundreds of shares of stock in Apple or a gift certificate that allows you to touch Ryan Reynolds's abs for an hour.

And when he spots you money, he nags you about it? That’s ridiculous. I’ve never done this, but I think it’d probably make it a bit harder for me to get laid if, as I was entering my girlfriend’s bedroom, I said, “Hey, S, just remember you owe me those $3 from when I paid your cover at the bar tonight,” or “I bought you that slice of pizza, so you’re gonna have to pick up the condoms next time. And don’t get Magnums again, either, because that’s wasteful and not funny. You don’t put a garbage bag on a broomstick, do you? We can't even use those until we blow them up and hit 'em around at the Dave Matthews concert next summer.”

You could bring it up point blank, but that’d be a weird conversation to have. I'd recommend getting passive aggressive instead. That’s how the general public addresses their relationship problems anyway. Make him realize on his own, by taking certain indirect actions. The first I'd recommend -- and probably the one that will be most effective -- is simple: Quit putting out. I guess many people would hate to admit it, but everybody knows deep down that dating is, at its core, a legal method of prostitution. In the back of every guy's mind when he's on a date is the thought that maybe, just maybe, he'll get laid; and if not, he'll be setting himself up for a time in the future when he might get laid. I once took a girl out on Valentine's Day, and we went to the wrong damn restaurant. I had to pay $140 for a two-person dinner. It was unbelievable, but my mood was lightened because I knew there was no way I wasn't getting laid after dropping that much on a meal (and also my girlfriend liked to have a lot of sex). Maybe once he locked you down in a relationship, he started to take it for granted and decided he didn't have to pay for it anymore. It's kind of like that old saying, "Don't give the milk away without selling the cow," or something like that, about not having sex before marriage. But I guess that's way outdated.

I understand not getting any might suck a little bit for you, too, (I know it all too well) but how bad can it really be? I have a hard time believing that a guy who can't find a check on a restaurant table is able to find a clitoris in any condition, especially in the dark. 

To encourage him making a payment, leave the table to go to the bathroom as soon as the server sets down the check, then come back 10 minutes later. He'll start to feel awkward when the waitress circles by for the fourth time and the bill still isn't ready. Who cares if he thinks you're taking a shit or blowing rails in the john? You ladies gotta do what you gotta do.

You could also play the TLC song “No Scrubs” at every opportunity. Play it in the car, make it your ringtone, insert it into your favorite sexual slow jams playlist, etc. If he doesn’t get the message when a song about T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli refusing to date a deadbeat is sandwiched between Kci & JoJo and Keith Sweat, then all is lost.
I guess you’re going to have to ask yourself whether you want to spend another half a year (and even more, potentially) with a guy who's going to be a douche bag when it comes to finances for the entirety of your relationship. If he’s not going to buy you an entree, do you think he’ll be very great about putting a down payment on a home? You'll have to decide, I guess, if his unwillingness to be chivalrous outweighs whatever other reasons you might have for dating him.

I dated this guy 6 months ago...We only dated for a month and then I broke
things off just because it wasn't working. Since then I recently met a 
new guy. Unfortunately....the new guy happens to be my ex-boyfriend's best
friend. We've already hooked up and gone on numerous dates....but the ex 
found out and completely forbid it. His friend is a bit conflicted, but
 clearly not conflicted enough to quit hanging out with me. Basically my
 question it ever okay to date your ex-boyfriends friend?


The answer to your core question: Yes, sometimes it is.

This has more to do with the guys’ relationship and what your new dude decides to do than it does with anything you might do, though. If new guy (we’ll call him Clyde), ignores other guy’s (Reggie) embargo on dating you, then you’re vindicated and can feel free to date him harder than Ross dated Rachael (ladies can always get down with a Friends reference).

Let me explain something, though: If you’ve hooked up with both guys, then they are now Eskimo Brothers. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you become another’s Eskimo Brother when you have both had sex with the same girl. (I’m assuming by “hooked up” you mean had sex, and my apologies if I’m incorrect. I understand the term means different things to different people, just like the terms “dating” and “mature” and “biscuit”. Usually my friends and I just walk around yelling that we fucked someone, so there’s very little ambiguity.)

Once a guy knows this, it cannot be erased from his mind unless he has some sort of accident that induces amnesia. Eskimo Brothers are such for life, and you need to realize that Clyde will never look at you and not know that Reggie also has carnal knowledge of you. Since Reggie wasn’t all like “Bro go ahead and date her because I’m not going to be a jealous prick who’s holding onto the past,” he’s probably going to make sure Clyde knows it on the regular, or at least when he gets wasted.

I know my duty here isn’t really to make you worry about something you probably weren’t even considering before, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t. Hopefully, he’s like me and most other people, and can look past the fact that you’ve been with his friend. Not everybody is this way, though. I once had a girlfriend who would wig out frequently anytime we were in the presence of a girl I’d had sex with before I’d even met or begun talking to her. It was uncomfortable.

What you need to do is tell Clyde you have absolutely zero feelings for Reggie, and that you’ve totally and completely moved on. Then, have him talk to Reggie and set him straight.

In lieu of the upcoming holidays [I got this e-mail a while back, but procrastinated], how about something about gifts for significant others for Christmas, etc. Like, worst gifts you've ever heard of/best ideas you have. Also, I'm curious to your thoughts about whether these gifts should change as you get older/ as your relationship grows/ as you get hitched and babied [letter writer and her husband just celebrated their first Christmas with their brand new baby boy] and all that adult stuff. I.E. - I bought my husband a pair of slippers, a fancy, funky toiletry bag b/c he packs more than I do when we travel and a bag to haul firewood so that I can enjoy our fireplace. SO LAME, I know. Two years ago, pre-wedding and definitely pre-baby, I bought us a weekend away in an awesome hotel with a fancy romantic package that included a king-sized bed, an in-room jacuzzi tub and two giant flat-screen tv's for New Year's. I was pretty much Super Girlfriend that year.


Well, since the holidays are already over I guess I blew it on gift ideas, but for next year: Most guys will like most things, as long as it’s something that will benefit them more than it will benefit you. If you’re having a tough time with ideas, just go through an issue of GQ or Esquire, find something you think he’d dig, and then buy a version of the same thing that’s less expensive.

As far as worst holiday gifts, I can tell you that one time I took a girl to Ponderosa on Valentine’s Day. In my defense, I was young and it was kind of spur of the moment, so I hadn’t been able to make reservations. Also, my hometown is kind of short on fine dining, and those buttered rolls they have there are fucking awesome. Anyway, shortly thereafter the girl got back with her ex-boyfriend and didn’t talk to me or tell me about it for like a month, when I finally heard the news from her friend. So, yeah, that one was pretty bad. And best I’ve heard of? One time, a girl got me a basketball that was autographed by Steve Nash and all the other Phoenix Suns. Guys like that stuff. I miss that girl. Another time, I took a girl to a concert and afterward she took me to the bar she worked at, gave me free Johnnie Walker all night and then took me to a swanky hotel room she’d booked. That was great. Your Jacuzzi tub room with two TVs? That’s top of the line, too. You can never underestimate a man’s adoration of a nice television.

But yeah, I’d say those gifts should change throughout the years, because once you get married and start having children, I imagine the practical things become more and more important. Your husband probably values slippers more now after he’s been at work all day and caring for a child after than he probably would have when he was fresh out of college and his biggest worry was when the box of wine was going to run out (though I’ve always enjoyed a nice pair of slippers). These things aren’t lame, they’re just different. That doesn’t mean he won’t like them just as much as something you got him a few years ago. Once you get kind of “settled in” to your life, I’ve found you kind of want gifts with longevity. Sure, the romantic weekend getaways provide memories that last forever, but a man can rock the same pair of slippers and get stoked on always having warm feet for years and years. The romantic getaways can start up again whenever your children are a bit older. This is how my parents did it; they had their 25th wedding anniversary and went on a little weekend trip. Now they go away for a weekend like at least once a month. They go up to Erie, Pa., get hammered on wine and never, ever, have sex.

Why and how do men cheat when they are "in love"


Why are men even in relationships when they cheat on their girlfriends?
This happens ALOT, and I've been on both sides of the situation. Being
cheated on sucks. And being the "girl on the side" - led on, lied to, and
snuck around - also sucks. Men don't genuinely seem to care about either
one of the girls, and I just wonder, whats the point? Is it some type of
power/control mind game that guys just enjoy playing?

I’m going to take these two together.

E, the how has never ever been the question for me, if we’re talking physically. I’ve woken up every single day for as long as I can remember with a full-on erection, and until you reach a certain age or level of intoxication, it’s pretty easy to get a boner, and with it certain feelings that are almost uncontrollable. I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about my distaste for Lady Gaga and Drew Barrymore, and about my subsequent non-attraction to them, but if you were to put me alone in a room with one of them, I’d probably have no problems physically having sex with them. It’s disgusting, really, but that’s the way it is.

So how is easy to explain, but why is not. Oftentimes, guys use the how (the hormones and such) as the why, but that should never, ever be an excuse. Nor should being drunk. If you’re not too drunk to get an erection, then you’re not too drunk to lose all inhibition and get on someone who isn’t your girlfriend.

Cheating is a terrible thing that people shouldn’t do unless their significant other is a big cockbag, in which case they should just break up with them then go rail other people. S and E, I can’t tell you really why a guy would even bother being in a relationship if the girl he’s in one with isn’t the only one he’s going to have sex with. I think a lot of it might have to do with the fact that society makes being in a relationship seem like a pretty sweet deal, so people may actively try to get into them when the circumstances aren’t ideal; then, they go and do something fucked up like cheating.

I could get on my high horse and talk about how I’ve never (officially) cheated (though some girls might beg to differ, different stories for a different day), but I can’t really talk about that. I’ve spent like seven months in the last five years in an official relationship, but the reason I haven’t been in one is because I haven’t had a sustained connection with somebody I want to be with all the time and have sex with exclusively where all the circumstances have come together to make it work out. More guys and girls should take this route, I think. Less heart damage in the long run, and more appreciation for that person you finally find who most closely resembles what your imagination calls “the one.” Instead of worrying about why somebody may have cheated on you, or cheated on someone else with you, put your energies into finding somebody who won’t cheat period. I think if you find somebody you’re completely happy with, and vice versa, cheating will never be a problem. And, if you’re not going to be completely happy with someone, why enter and stay in a relationship with them?

I have been the “guy on the side,” so I can empathize, S. If this is happening to you and you’re somehow bothered by it, just don’t do it anymore. Don’t let yourself be put in that position; tell the guy if he likes you, then he should break up with his girlfriend. If he doesn’t, then just move on with your life. I understand this may be difficult to do if you care deeply about somebody, but if after a while they don’t ditch the girl and give you a monogamous shot, then they don’t care about you as much as you care about them. Find someone who does.

My Year: A Review and Recap

2010 was a pretty big year for me. Lots of stuff happened. Normally, on the last day of the year, I like to sit around thinking about the momentous occasions that have taken place throughout the past 365 days and nights while I listen to songs like “A Long December” by Counting Crows (because who doesn’t?) and “February 15th” by Bright Eyes.

This year, though, I’ve decided to recap some of the significant events of my year, while not listening to Counting Crows. It’s not that I don’t dig the song, it’s just that if you listen to the same song at the end of every single year that pounds it into your head that maybe the coming year will be better than the last, it kind of gives you a pessimistic view of the year that’s ending.

Fuck that. I had a pretty decent year, in some ways. And, since I’m a huge narcissist who likes to write things about himself in the first person, and since I think people want to read it if it’s put into a public forum, I decided to write about it.

-I made my Mom cry. Twice. But in a good way. The first was because I graduated college. I don’t remember much about the actual graduation ceremony, because I spent most of it Tweeting nonsense because I was still drunk and didn’t want to really walk in the first place (@scottmuska). I do remember afterward, though, when my parents took me to lunch and I drank my first ever shot with them. That was kind of a momentous occasion for somebody who ranks drinking in his Top 3 favorite activities alongside masturbation and eating -- after much thought, actual sex was booted from the Top 3, due to infrequency. Later on, my Mom cried a little bit. She doesn’t cry too often, so it meant a lot.

A week later, I was leaving my childhood home two days before I started my first job. I was about to get into my car, and my Mom started crying, again because she was proud of me, she said. That might’ve been the proudest of myself I’ve ever been, in that moment. Well, it’s up there anyway.

-We had this thing called senior week at the end of our final college semester. It was between finals and graduation day, and I hung out with my college friends for most of it. It was an amazing time, and kind of our swan song. We’d spent four years doing a lot of dumb shit, always together, and this was the end of it. One day during this week, we had Beer Olympics, and we won. The teamwork was the best part.

-I was pretty broke around spring break time, so I forewent a trip to Florida in favor of a week in majestic Tidioute, Pennsylvania. Basically, it’s the middle of nowhere. A bunch of us went to camp, and bonded the entire week. While we were there, I helped actually brand one of my friends with a fire poker. I also ate a lot of red meat and shot a gun for the first time in my life. This place was the closest to being in Woody Creek living like Hunter S. I might ever get.

-As I mentioned, I got a job. It’s at a newspaper in central Pennsylvania; I had to start somewhere. I dig it, though. I get to write all day and stuff, and one of the days somebody actually called me a journalist. I’m actually doing professionally what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can recall. Or at least since I figured out I wouldn’t make it to the NBA. This helps me sleep a little bit at night, but not much.

-The day I found out about this job was probably one of the most memorable of the year. I’d pretty much figured I wasn’t going to get it, for one reason or another, but then my editor called me one morning.

I was sleeping at the time of the call, so I rolled out of bed and answered my phone. I sat down on the little chair in my bedroom and braced myself for rejection. Instead, I got a job offer, and immediately began freaking out.

Yep. I accepted my first job as a professional staff writer while I was wearing only boxer briefs.

-In June, I moved into my first real apartment, where I live alone. It’s amazing having your own space. Girls have been there, but not romantically. Actually, it has been the exact opposite: Something resembling a romance that had taken place over a period of years came to a conclusion in that apartment. I’m hoping to change that pattern this year. Ladies?

-In July, my family’s dog, who I had grown up with, died. She lived a long time, though. Long enough in people years to have her driving learner’s permit. I wrote an essay about it that got me probably the most recognition I’ve gotten for anything I’ve written so far. So, yeah, I guess in some way I ended up profiting from my dog’s death, which is weird, but I don’t think she would’ve minded. She probably would’ve given me a pound. Yes, Tori did know how to give pounds. I taught her that once.

-I saw Ben Folds play “The Luckiest” for his wife the night before Valentine’s Day. It made me re-evaluate my attitude concerning living and dying alone. That was a good night.

-I had several encounters and interactions that proved to me that people are not always who they seem to be, and a person must be very careful when they’re trying to imagine a certain person into existence. A person with these traits you’re imagining may be out there, but they might not be that person you’re trying to attach these traits to.

-I grew out my hair, and then I cut it all off. I’ve finally made peace with the fact that I can’t do much more than rock a buzz cut, but I’ll probably still keep trying. Maybe someday I’ll end up with a fucking awesome haircut, and I’ll be very excited about it. Because there is no better feeling in the world than doing something even you thought -- even fleetingly -- that you couldn’t do.

-Fifteen minutes ago, my Mom came into the room and we started talking about something very unserious that quickly became serious. Eventually it came to her telling me that, in life, you can’t spend time doing things that aren’t fulfilling to you or that contribute to the quality of life of others. I could die when I’m 40 from something I have no control over. If I do, I’m probably going to be pissed that I spent so many hours running on a fucking treadmill. You’ve got to do things that make you happy. Hunter S. Thompson had this quote that goes like this: “Kick ass, die young.” I don’t completely agree with that, but you may as well do the ass kicking part, and you may as well get started with it now. Years from now, you’re not going to want to be thinking or saying the words “too late” too often. Because that will make you bitter.

Have a really happy New Year’s celebration. Enjoy yourselves.