the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Having dated walking red flags

My friend, Maggie, recently had a book published. It’s called No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog, and it’s filled with suggestions (oddly, 100 of them) of things you could write a blog post about. I thought that a good way to celebrate her success with this publication would be the practical application of one of her ideas. So after reading the book — a quick 122 pages that read exactly how Maggie speaks in person, as charmingly as humorously as if describing something unpleasant (maybe bone spurs, or four-hour erections?) as judiciously as possible to the President of the United States — I went back and picked a suggestion that I hadn’t ever used before. Today’s blog post is written in response to Maggie’s Idea Number 32: Break It Off.

“What are your relationship deal breakers? Some folks are annoyed if a date shows up ten minutes late. Others look for something weightier, like a felony record. Have you ever rejected someone over something that seems insignificant to your friends? Or do you have selective blindness for red flags?”

Only because this suddenly made me remember a certain guy who said to me on our second date, “You mean, you like elephants, too? I THINK THIS IS WHAT THEY CALL DESTINY!”

I don’t even remember his name, not a single letter of it, but I remember telling him upfront that I did not want any part of a long-term relationship. His response was along the lines of, but I already called my mother in New Jersey! And she’s knitting you a sweater! I went on a third date because he was a nice a guy, and I didn’t think it was fair to tell him that I didn’t want to marry him over the phone, although looking back now that is exactly what I should have done because he was so upset he wrapped his arms around my neck like a giant spider that wanted to eat my face off. For those of you who don’t know, that is not the most successful way to say to a woman, hey, wait, aren’t you being a little hasty?

I also dated a guy who said he couldn’t bring himself to sleep with women who had big butts. I didn’t take that stipulation very seriously because an ass is not a physical characteristic that I will ever possess, much like boobs or manageable hair. It wasn’t until I realized that his aversion to butts was just Chapter One in his memoir The Innumerable Ways I am Out of My Fucking Mind, and by Chapter Four: I Cannot Bring Myself to Sleep With Women Who Have Vaginas, I knew that I had stumbled into the wrong section of the library, if you know what I’m saying.

There was the guy who was perfect in many ways, loved the right music, voted for the right person, said the most wonderful things when I most needed to hear them, and (and!) he was an amazing kisser. It was just all the stuff that happened after the kissing that made the relationship more and more difficult to rationalize, and here is where I experience a lot of hand-wringing for all my Mormon girlfriends who got married without ever having slept with their men. It’s admirable, very admirable to enter into the covenant of marriage as a virgin, but what if smack dab in the middle of that first-night passion he starts quoting Al Pacino in Scarface? Or starts yodeling? Or says, “Do you mind if I turn on some Yanni?” IT COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN. This is indispensable research you have to conduct, or else you’re going to spend the rest of your life faking headaches.

And finally, the very good-looking blonde, athletic type who could fix things. He was the first guy I ever dated who could change a tire, and he was always offering to take care of the broken things around my apartment. When that sort of expertise comes into your life it feels like you’re seeing a blue sky for the first time. Like, you mean I don’t have to live with a shower door that won’t close? I HAVE NEVER KNOWN SUCH BEAUTY. But then I had to go and ruin everything by asking him to open his mouth and form a complete sentence, by asking the very difficult, complex question of what he thought about homosexuality. He shrugged and said, “Homosexuals are stupid.” Which, let’s give him credit, is as educated and informed of an opinion as that of an eight-year-old in a coma.

What are your deal breakers?

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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