For my sons and grandsons

I was just adding some advice to the page I created a few months ago for advice to my daughters and granddaughters. As I was reading over what I’d written, I kept thinking, “The boys should read this, too.” That got me to thinking about what exactly I do want my boys to remember me by, by way of advice and so I’m going to start with some of the things from that other page and then add things I think are important for them to know. Right now, my sons are already grown, and I’m really proud of the kind of men they are. Still, a little advice from the right source (that source being me, naturally) never hurts, so here goes.

The one thing that men don’t understand about women is that they imagine it is only one thing.

When the person you love is stressed or depressed or upset or angry, there is only one thing you should ask: How can I love you best right now?

MAKE WAVES! This is maybe the most important piece of advice I have to offer. Make noise. Complain.  Raise hell. Be a pain in the ass. Stand your ground. Never let someone say about you, “I’m not sure how he feels.” Let people know.

When a woman locks you out, no key will get you back in.

Way too often in our society, people don’t speak up. We bite our tongues. We swallow our words of anger or frustration. Stop it! And while we’re on the subject, love people out loud! Really do that. How is the woman in your life going to know how you feel if you don’t tell her? Yes, showing her is nice. It’s absolutely necessary, in fact. But the people you love need words, too. Remember that.

I’ve found that, if you love life, life will love you back.

When you introduce your special someone to other people, it should feel as if you’ve introduced them to the most badass person they’ll ever meet.

What is a legacy? It is planting seeds in a garden that you never see.

Fuck em if they can’t take a joke.

Be a soft armrest for wayward souls to lean on.

Pudding is instant. Real love and intimacy take a lot of time.

Learn your Bible and your Bible stories. The Bible has 6 admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love heterosexuals. It’s just that they need more supervision.

Do one thing that scares you every day.

When you kiss the right person, it will feel as if we could just step out onto the stars.

Love out loud. Laugh out loud. Live out loud.

If you want to sneak out of the house at night, you need to figure out which of the floor boards will scream like traitors and which ones can keep a secret. It is a pretty good idea to learn that about friends, too.

In case one of you gets put in charge of writing my obit for the newspaper — here’s what I want at the end: In lieu of wasting your hard-earned money on flowers, the family is accepting cash or check (with proper ID) donations.

Be someone else’s own personal rainbow.

Six Magic Word That Will Make Any Woman Fall Hopelessly and Forever in Love with You

There are six words that every woman longs from the very depths of her soul to hear from a man. The six words that I’m about to tell you are the most magical and seductive words that women can imagine. These words are more powerful than all the flowery declarations of love that you can compose. They will induce weak knees, fluttering heart rate, dilating eyes, and heavy breathing. Women have been known to sigh deeply and flush visibly at the mention of these words. Any woman can tell you, in vivid detail, the last time she heard these words from a man. And she can probably count on one hand the number of times she has heard these words from any man other than her personal own Daddy.

The Six Words A Woman Most Wants To Hear From A Man  — they are the modern day equivalent of riding up on a white stallion and plucking her from a burning tower. OK, boysamine, imagine this: The woman you desire is before you, engaged in some activity. For the sake of conversation, let’s say she’s simultaneously trying to arrange to have her car repaired, cook dinner, unclog the sink, do the laundry, make plane reservations, cut the grass, and clean out the garage — just a typical woman’s typical workload AFTER her typical eight hour workday, of course. Suddenly, magically almost, you appear. You stride up to her purposefully, you take her gently in your arms, look deeply into her eyes, and you say, very softly but firmly, the Six Words.

You say the Six Words to her — and say them pretty quick because until she hears them, she’s liable to think that you are here in the midst of the mountain of her work feeling frisky, and if you don’t swiftly disabuse her of that misconception, you could be maimed on the spot. So there she is, overwhelmed, and there you are, purposefully striding, embracing, looking deeply, and saying softly, but firmly, the six words… Oh no, let me handle this.

Gasp! It gives me a tingle just to write the words!

Once the words are spoken, and your deliriously happy lady has finished her swoon, say them again for maximum impact. Caution: If the woman is Southern, her immediate response to the Six Words will be a soft, “Oh no, that’s OK, you don’t have to do that.” We were brought up that way, but let me assure you — we don’t mean it! You must, at this point, INSIST on doing it and commence to doing it then and there or all will be lost.

There are another set of Six Words that has an almost identical impact and I hope that all of my sons and grandsons are in a position to use these Six Words as frequently as the ones above. These words, however, are not a substitute for the Six Words above. The other Magical Six Words are — I love you. Here’s some money. 

Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen.

SHOPPING FOR HER

Listen up. Do not EVER give your girlfriend, fiance, or wife (or mother, for that matter) a home appliance as a gift. Period. The end. Cause I promise you that if it’s her birthday, and you, all on your own, select, purchase, and present her with a Crock Pot, then, well, you will be so over that you won’t even be in the same zip code as over.

Also, she does not want anything that can be described as “cute country.” Talk about your oxymorons.

And for Goddess’ sakes, pay attention. If her ears aren’t pierced, don’t buy pierced earrings. If she wears only silver, don’t go buy a gold necklace. If she always wears dainty jewelry, don’t just decide, all on your own, that clunky might be something she’d really enjoy.

Don’t buy her something YOU want, on the theory that you two love all the same things.

Do not believe her if she says you don’t have to get her anything for some special occasion. It can be something small and inexpensive, but here’s the thing to remember: Make sure your gift shows that you’ve been paying attention. You’ve heard what she’s said. You know what she likes and doesn’t like, and you got her what she likes.

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Don’t ever assume that your wife is a mind-reader, that she understand who you are, or that she knows what you think or how you feel. To make that assumption is to ask for terrible pain. She might understand, she might know from time to time, but don’t expect her to understand you one bit more than you understand her. Decide to be happy by doing what you want to do. if your happiness makes her angry, or if you hate it when she’s joyful, then you don’t have a marriage, you have an experiment that was doomed from the start.

When your feet are not touching bottom, that’s when you do exciting things.

There is a difference between marriage and ceremony. Real marriage isn’t between two people dashing across a bridge in rice and ribbons. It’s discovering after a lifetime that they’ve built the bridge together, with their own hands.

The difference between masters and victims is that victims haven’t learned to use the master’s tools — choice and change. Choice is the enchanted blade, with an edge that shapes lifetimes. Yet if we’re afraid to choose anything but what we’ve got, what good is choice? Might as well leave choice wrapped up in its box, don’t bother to read the instructions. We fear using choice because it makes us different.

Food Manners in the South — In the South, we’re big feeders. People come to your house, and you trot out more food just for lunch than they and all their kind can possibly eat in a month — all in the name of hospitality. The guest is expected to rave endlessly about the quantity and, of course, the quality of this feast. The hostess is expected to disparage the whole thing as absolutely pitiful: It was all she had time to prepare, and not even close to what all she would have prepared if she’d had an ounce of human decency and another thirty minutes or so. This little dance should be repeated frequently throughout the duration of the visit.

My grandfather was once the guest of the most acclaimed hostess in the South. You could drop by her house at any hour of the day or night with a bus full of people, with no notice whatsoever, and she would lay out a spread that would feed and significantly raise the cholesterol level of the entire county. The table groaned with the sheer weight of all the food she had prepared for my grandfather, and so as to be polite and not hurt her feelings, he dutifully sampled all of it, in no small way. He ate and he ate and he ate. She waited graciously for him to begin the praise cycle. He never did. He just kept on eating. She waited as patiently as she could, and still he said nothing. The whole rhythm of the meal was being thrown off.

She tentatively began to make brief unsolicited sallies into the denial/disparage/denigrate cycle of the thing. “The beans were a little mush, I thought. And the biscuits were hard, weren’t they? I just dried that chicken out. I’m always so afraid it’ll be red at the bone, I just overdo it. I never could fry chicken like my mama.” He would dutifully refute all her unwarranted and untrue statements as just that, but he would not follow up with the culturally appropriate and desperately sought hymns of praise for her food. She grew more distraught by the minute until finally she could stand it no more and she broke the cardinal rule of Southern hospitality: She just flat out asked him if he liked the food. Being entirely cognizant the whole time of her horrendous discomfiture, he leaned back — back being the only direction he could lean, so engorged was his belly — gazed about the table at the ruins of the feast, and said, “Well, yes, it was pretty good — (long dramatic pause) — what there was of it.” Knowing at last that she’d been had, she began beating him about the head and body with a wooden spoon.

This saying, “It was pretty good — what there was of it,” became the accepted code in the South for the highest possible praise for a meal.

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Now I have told my daughters about the Four Hour Rule and the Twenty-Four Hour Rule…

and you might want to look both of those up on the “daughters” page. It is up to girls to enforce the Four Hour Rule, however, so I’m going to tell you only about the Twenty-Four Hour Rule:

Twenty-four Hour Rule — If you engage in any kind of sex with anyone, whether friend, acquaintance, girlfriend, fiance, or wife, at any level at all, then it is absolutely mandatory that you be in full compliance with the Twenty-Four Hour Rule. This Rule state flatly that within (WELL within if you have any sense and/or any hope for the future) 24 hours following said act of sex, you must telephone and/or email to repeat all of the pre-sex compliments that I certainly hope you paid her regarding everything from her eyes/face/hair/outfit and legs to the unbearable sweetness of her disposition. Plus, you should have thought up at least 15 minutes’ worth of new and additional compliments about the act itself. These compliments should contain glowing references to the smallest efforts she might have made on your behalf. Graphic compliments regarding specific body parts not included in the previous listing are also nice. As a general rule, you should keep in mind that women prefer that some body parts be praised for their amplitude, while others should be lauded for being the tiniest thing you ever saw.

There are virtually no exemptions from this momentous decree. Only death or prolonged coma are even considered. Flowers are an extra-nice gesture, especially if the sex was extra-nice. Post-coital women are also very crowlike in their attraction to things that go sparkle, too. And remember — women are like ice. There just ain’t no substitute.

Don’t settle for less than you deserve. And don’t ever believe you don’t deserve it all. But maybe your job isn’t all that terrible. Your marriage is not really hideous; it’s just sort of beige. Flat, dull, lifeless – these are not good adjectives when they refer to your hair; they are infinitely worse if they apply to your life. If you are stuck, sweating, on a sandbar in the river of your life, you’ve got to find a way back into those swift, effervescent currents of joy that are your birthright.

ESSENTIAL

Lots of times in my life, men, or even other women, have asked me what I really want in a relationship. Of course, there are a million answers to that. Part of it depends on what kind of relationship it is. But the one thing I want and, in fact, must have in every relationship that matters to me is that I must feel essential.

I don’t think I’m the only person who feels that way, even if others may articulate it differently. We all want to feel essential. In any relationship that matters, I don’t want to think that I’m fungible (look it up). I need to believe — no, I need to be convinced — that I am the only person in the universe who can fill this particular role for that person.

One time, about 20 years ago, a woman I knew only as an acquaintance called me on the phone. We had never even had a conversation before that and, in fact, we have not had a conversation since then. But I will never forget her because this is how she made me feel so essential: She said that she had a problem and it presented a very troublesome ethical dilemma to her. Then she said that she called me because I was the most ethical person she knew. Me? OK, so obviously, she didn’t know me well, but still — it just made me feel so essential.

The memories I hold most dear in my life are the moments when I felt essential, when I felt that no one could have taken my place. I have had those moments with each of you and, from the bottom of my very grateful heart, I appreciate those moments as essential to me, just as each one of you is essential to my life.

Make the people in your life feel essential. Let them know — in words and actions — that there is no one who could take their very essential place in your life.

Don’t be afraid to need people. We all need to feel needed. It is much harder to ask for help than it is to give it. But if you want to make a friend, don’t offer your help. Ask for theirs. That’s how friendships are formed.

GETTING OVER HER

I hope that generations to come will read the glorious advice I’m giving you here, but to the three sons I’m writing to at this moment, I have seen all of you with broken hearts and it breaks my heart every single time. And honestly, I know that there is never one magic word I can say that will change one star in your lonely sky at those times. But here’s a thought that, even if it doesn’t help at the time, will ring true to you later.

You’re in love and planning for the future and the next thing you know — the girl is OUTTA HERE! And you are what is commonly referred to as In A Hole. If you could find an actual hole, deep enough and dark enough, you would happily crawl off into it and sever all ties with life as you know it. Life is just bleak, and nothing, with the notable exception of drinking maybe, holds any appeal for you.

Stop!

Snivel a little and have a beer or two, and then get over it. Here’s why. One guy had a girl who just absolutely ripped his very heart out and use it to fix a flat, right before his very eyes. And he crawled through life for months and months and spent all kinds of money on therapists trying to figure out what happened (she dumped him) and what he could do about it (not a damn thing). Then one day she called him out of the blue. And he felt… nothing! Shortly after that, as soon as he realized that he felt… nothing… he was so happy. He felt really good. Well, as it happened, there was a young woman who worked in his building. A nice enough young woman, although he didn’t know her personally at all and frankly, had no desire to. Her name was Jane and she sat at the front desk. When he was relating the story to me of how the bitch had surfaced in an attempt to weasel back into his life and how he had lived and breathed and prayed, waiting for this very moment, dying to have her back, and when she finally called him to make all his dreams come true, he felt… nothing, he practically shouted into the phone, “Nothing, I felt NOTHING! She could have been Jane at the desk for all I cared!” And so “Jane at the Desk” became synonymous with being totally over somebody. They become Jane at the Desk.

Another guy had a hideous relationship with a girl that lasted literally years. And it was awful the whole time. When it finally ended, he took up permanent residence in The Hole. Chain-smoked. Took mood elevators that did little to distinguish him from a bug stuck on its back. Cried into his beer. He was just hoping she would come back. He was well along in that aspiration, when one day she approached him from the opposite end of a large parking lot, and she called out to him by name. He waved and thought to himself, “Who is that big ol’ girl hollering at me?” Not only had he not recognized her, he perceived her as “that big ol’ girl.” She had become Jane at the Desk. And the good news is, no matter how bad you feel, sooner or later, they’ll all become Jane at the Desk.

Nearly every guy in the world has fallen into this trap, so let me help. Your girlfriend says, “Oh my, isn’t Eric’s new girlfriend pretty?” And you, believing that she actually thinks the bitch is attractive and sincerely wants you to agree with her about it, stupidly exclaims, “God, yes, she’s fucking gorgeous!”

And with those words, the End of the World is set in motion.

Of course, what she really meant by your question was, “Eric’s new girlfriend is fucking gorgeous and I am a cow. I hate myself for eating that entire pie. My clothes are about to explode from the sheer stress of trying to contain all that is me. Soon buttons and shreds of fabric will fill the air, and when the dust settles, small villages will be lost in the sudden fat-slide of my nekkidness. I used to be pretty. I remember it and the memory kills me. Look at me and love me anyway.”

And what she wanted in response was, “You are absolutely gorgeous. You are much more beautiful than Eric’s girlfriend. That woman is only average at best. I wouldn’t want to be seen with her. I can’t imagine what Eric sees in her.”

But no. And all of a sudden, the whole night has gone to shit and you have no clue why. You were just being agreeable and looking goofily ahead to what you were pretty confident was a sure thing, and now you’re sitting somewhere by yourself, bewildered as to where you went wrong. Don’t make that mistake.

BOXERS OR BRIEFS

If you are a guy and you plan on taking your clothes off in front of us, we’d really prefer that you wear some cute little boxer shorts. We really do hate tighty-whiteys – all of us, each and every one. I have never in my life met a woman I respect who liked them, not ever, not one. And no, it doesn’t help if you buy them in colors; everything about them is repulsive, not just the color. We may not openly complain to you about how gross we think they are, but you should not mistake this polite silence for genuine appreciation.

If you are a guy and you just looooove your little white man-panties, then you should know that we believe they are in the same class as our own beloved granny panties. In other words, wear them when you’re flying solo. We will wear pretty little panties if you’re going to be seeing ‘em, and you, please, return the favor by investing in some big-boy underwear to wear for our viewing pleasure. And if you really do think we like men’s bikini briefs, you’ve been watching too many porn flicks.

 When she says she wants plastic surgery

This advice is mostly from Jill Connor Browne, and its just as good as the best advice I could give on this situation.

When the woman in your life mentions that she is considering having herself, well, altered in some fashion, your immediate and vehement reaction should alternate between swearing that she will do such a thing only over your dead body and begging her not to change a single thing about her most perfect self — you cannot even bear to think of it. You should go to considerable lengths to convince her that the way the crepe of her eyelids actually hangs down far enough to distort her vision is adorable and that the way her chest is completely devoid of anything breastlike — well, that’s just the way you always dreamed breasts would be. Whatever it is she has determined, after endless hours of scowling into the mirror, to have fixed — that should be your very favorite part of her.

I mean, she thinks that she’s a mess and something need to be done and soon — she knows this — but she does not want the man in her life to agree that she does, in fact, look like a dog-faced Al Capone. You should swear that any alteration to her perfection would be a shameful waste of good money, money that could better be spent buying her jewelry and cruises. You should acquiesce only to please her. Then you should, of course, pay the doctor and smile indulgently as you write that big check. After its done, you should, for a very brief time, mourn the change; then you should forthwith endlessly extol her beauty. And you should never ever mention the procedure again.

The Best Advice Ever Given in the Entire History of the World

For the most part, I prefer the giving of advice over the taking thereof, with a few notable exceptions. The following story from childhood represents advice I am proud I was given. Naturally, I want to pass it on to you. My father’s people (in the South, your family is called your people) lived out in the country. My granddaddy always wore the same thing – gray wool pants, black belt, white long-sleeved shirt buttoned to the neck, black hard-soled shoes, and gray felt hat. Winter or summer, it never varied. He was old, always old, and thin as a rail, with skin like parchment paper. He rolled his own cigarettes from a little cotton pouch he kept of Country Gentleman tobacco. He smoked the entire thing. There was no cigarette butt, ever, not even so much as what would be called a roach today. It was simply gone. Ecologically sound, I suppose, in a twisted sort of way. I once brought him some strawberry flavored papers I’d bought at a head shop in Atlanta. He looked like a really old, skinny Jerry Garcia puffing on a joint. He could squat for days, his skinny little butt just grazing the ground. He would sit like that for hours. When he got tired, he would simply rise. No groaning. No pushing with his hands. He would simply stand straight up and walk away. I did not inherit his knees.

When the time came for us to leave, he would walk us to our car. “Us” being my parents, my siblings, and me. We would be getting into whatever model Ford Daddy was driving at the time – that is, until he got mad at Ford for something and started buying Buicks. He was like that. Totally brand loyal until the manufacturer did something he didn’t like, and then he would quit them forever, never to reconcile. He quit Gillette and Falstaff and took up with Schick and Old Milwaukee the same way, just for spite.

My grandfather would walk us out to the car and he would always say the same thing as we were leaving. He never used any of the usual ones, like “Be careful,” “Be sweet,” or “Be good.” Mama used all those on a rotating basis. Daddy’s parting shot was always, “Don’t fuss with your mama.” Granddaddy would wait for Daddy to roll down his window. Then he’d prop those skinny elbows on the ledge and stick his whole head, hat and all, in through the window. And he would say, “Y’all come when you can,” which was of no substantial pith or import, but then he would add, “Be particular.” Except he pronounced it “p’ticklar.”

Be particular. That is, without a doubt, the Best Advice Ever Given in the History of the Entire World. Consider, if you will, the profound effect that following that advice would have on, say, your diet, your love life, your financial situation, your decision on whether to have that next drink. I mean, what do those two words not cover?

Dating Age — Here’s the deal. People in their teens should date other people in their teens. People in their twenties and thirties should date each other, as should people in their forties and fifties. The only acceptable exception to this precept would be if I happen to be the younger woman. Actually, anything I do is fine. I’m only interested in passing judgment on the behavior of others. This is because I am so good at it, and I always want to excel.

Is the world a different place now that your place in it is different?

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The Time Is NOW — I cannot imagine who came up with that phrase about “time marching on.” For whom is time merely marching? And I have to wonder why it seems to be moving so slowly for them: Poor things must be bored slap to death. For me, on the other hand, time is whipping by so fast, I feel like the way dogs look when they hang out the window of a fast moving car — hair and ears blown straight back, tongue hanging out, grinning and blinking in the wind. This must be because I devote so much of my life to having fun. I love to play.

Don’t fear being near-death — but rather fear, dread, loathe, and do all you can to avoid near-life experiences. Nobody goes to the grave or to the nursing home wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth and just wishing they’d served on a few more committees, worked a few more hours. Too often we are waiting until we, and then later, our children, finish school, finish paying off the mortgage, lose weight, meet our soulmate, or retire. We are always, as we say in Texas, just “fixin’ to.” After this thing or that one happens, THEN we will live. And, lo and behold, before any of that stuff can happen, it is over, and we never got around to living. No more near-life experiences, please. Whatever it is you are going to do someday. well, someday is here. Have at it. I am here to tell you, it is way better to live your dream than it is to dream it