The Rob Wohl Story

For those of you not in the know, Rob Wohl is my dear friend, running buddy, roommate and straight man. He is The Man Of Many Meetings. The Vanguard Of White Liberal Guilt. The Protector Of Semi-Relevant Leftist Ideologies.  A K-Pop Scholar and much more. Here is a list of the titles for the many volumes of Rob Wohl’s Memoirs.

 

Rob Wohl

1.You’ve Made A Powerful Enemy Today
2. Our fight is freedom; the Nate Turner Rebellion: The Rob Wohl Story
3. Death Camps For Whitey
4. Unbearable Whiteness of Being
5. So Much Guilt So Little Time
6. Sophie’s Choice

sophie's choice
7. “We’ve Figured Out What We’re Going To Fight About” A Love Story
8. Maybe It Would Be Better If I Knew Less About The World
9. Kill Whitey
10. Its Wasn’t A Crime, It Was Just A Clash Of Cultures
11. It’s Been Said That Rob Wohl Is A Powerful Social Vector For Change
12. Prom King of Occupy
13. The Rob Wohl Story Vol. 6 “Its Been Real”
14. Capital 2
15. How I Saved The Bees and Other Stories
16. Just Do It Boo!
17. It Came To Me When I Was High
18. How Did You Get Into This Line Of Work [And other things I ask strippers]
19. He Said Yes. The Rob Wohl Story

angry
20. Collective Residual Anger The Rob Wohl Story
21. Fear And Loathing In Ikea
22. The Rob Wohl Story Vol 1: Destroying the Petty Bourgeois Ideology About the Political Neutrality of Childhood
23. The Patriarchy Is Insecure
24. Whatever Cracker You’re Just Jealous
25. How Can I Have Privilege If Sometimes I’m Sad: The Rob Wohl
26. If Opinion Were Ass Holes: The Rob Wohl Story
27. On The Yuppie Question

condecend

28. I’ll Condescend To Your Juvenile Politics Later
29. OWS may have failed as a social movement, but hey I got laid

30. Constant State Of Arousal: My Life With Sophie Vick
31. Die Yuppie Scum
32. Unsubscribe, Rob, Choose Life!
33. A Contribution To Hegel’s Critique Of Weed and Gundam
34. Rob Wohl Story Vol 7 “The Great Facebook Drought”
35. Full Fucking Communism
36. Hating So Hard [The Rob Wohl Story]

I Reject Your Bourgeoisie Notions and Other Potential Titles For My Memoir

Swagger Like Us

1.My life in the Smaller Yet Still Impressively Vast Left Wing Conspiracy
2. The New New Negro
3. Blacker Than Obama
4. The Blackest Man Around—Why All My Friends Are White
5. The Unbearable Boughieness of Being
6. Vegan Straightedge in the Era of Beer and Bacon
7. Vegan Straightedge [and other things I’ve tried for a month]
8. What Happens to a Dream Defaulted?
9. Why didn’t anyone comment on that post? [and other things that stress me out]
10. Faking It Till I Marry Someone Whose Made It
11. Das Yo Family [Life As “Those People”]
12. Rarified Air—Growing Up Black at 6,800 ft
13. Ashy Elbows
14. Good Morning Philosophy, its Aaron
15. Impenetrable Darkness
16. An Unexplained Fear—The Phobias That Shaped My Life
17. Charmingly Neurotic
18. Uncorrected Proof
19. If These Sweats Could Talk
20. My Presence Here Is Charity
21. Never Do For Yourself What Other Are Willing To Do For You—and other advice I gave my niece
22. Unless You Find Yourself In Dire Need of the Friendship of White Person: Avoiding Camping At All Cost
23. Get Some Order About Yourself: The Buddy Boy Years
24. Natural Born Wingmyn
25. How Not Okay Is This?
26. Rosy Doesn’t Have Black Gums—Aaron Goggans The Elementary School Years
27. “Why Are You Still Crying?”—Aaron Goggans The Middle School Years
28. “Wait, You’re On the Football Team?”—Aaron Goggans the High School Years
29. “So, Are You Gonna Comb Your Hair Or….” –Aaron Goggans The College Years
30. “Guerrilla Pooping…That’s All I’m Saying” –Aaron Goggans Campus Organizer
31. But He’s Such A Nice Guy…
32. Just Throwing This Out There
33. It’s Not Who You Know or What You Know… Its Who Knows Your Sister
34. Ashy and Unapologetic
35. I Blame The Schools
36. It Makes Sense If You Don’t Think About It

Dear Modern Day Feminists with Successful Professional Careers

[***disclaminer this satire…well…its funny and not meant to be taken seriously….unless you want to go on a date with me…then it’s kinda serious….***]

 

IMG_2116

Dear modern day feminist with successful professional careers,

I know dating is very difficult for you. You’re beautiful, intelligent and driven which means you have high standards and precious little free time to spend weeding through semi-inebriated young professionals at the crowded and loud Happy Hours frequented by your profession. I get it. I’m here to make sure your laundry gets done, cook you warm meals and take care of your [by which I mean our] children while you’re busy leaning in. There is no need for you to balance a career, hobbies, hosting parties and children…that’s what husbands are for.

I’ve read enough reviews of Sheryl Sandberg’s book on jezebel to know that one of the many problems of “leaning in” is that it makes it difficult to have the things that make life worth living, namely fulfilling and sustaining friendships and family. Yet what is an ambitious and driven young woman such as yourself to do in today’s modern landscape of 24/7 hours e-mails, virtual conference calls at 3 p.m. Tokyo time and astronomically priced [and sub-par] child care services?

Well, you can either attempt have it all and end up neurotically plunking all of your eyebrow hair every quarter or marry a man secure and strong enough to hold on to the belt of your pant suit and prevent your from leaning in too far.

 

Hi, my name is Aaron Goggans.

I am a single, childless, graduate of University of Chicago who also happens to be an employed African American 25 year old man standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall. I want many things out of life and I consider myself to be very ambitious. However, I don’t want to work [not because I’m lazy mind you]. I hate capitalism and used to view a 9-5 as the most perversely necessary and evil of necessary evils until I thought “is it really necessary for me to work?”

I would like to spend my time volunteering to help those who need it, raising children and supporting you in your chosen career. That’s right. I want to be a house husband. More specifically, I want to be your house husband.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my own goals. For instance, I’d like to write a novel [I’m a currently a freelance writer and my resume with list of publications is attached] but all of these goals are secondary to my desire to be a kind, loving, and supportive husband and father. I love children and after spending my post-collegiate twenties hopping from coffee shop to used bookstore like a character in a Dandy Warhols’ song, I’m ready to settle down and start a family. It is my hope, after reading this cover letter and attached resume, that one of you lovely women would consider marrying me.

I have very few requirements for a life partner. I am open to any race, ethnicity or religious background. I prefer high powered non-profit attorneys, human rights attorneys, politicians, successful writers and artist though I’m also willing to consider seasoned teachers, tenured professors, mid to high level civil servants. As long as my partner is an avid reader, critical thinker, enjoys open and honest communication, and is open to having or adopting children and of course, fine with carrying at least 95% of the families financial burden, I’m good.

I should say that I am an exceptional [and improving] chef, a decent [and coach-able] maid, amazing with children [taught children with special needs for two years], and very good and hosting dinner parties as well as talking up professional women at work events. I am a surprisingly good networker and conversationalist willing to be perfect First Man to your every executive ambition. I

f you are interested please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you shortly. We can go Dutch on the first three dates but after that all further dates, social events, vacations and engagement rings must be funded by your ambitious career.

Thank you for your time, and your consideration.

Your future fiancé,
Aaron Goggans

Life Before The Revolution

Image For Life Before The Revolution

 

Booing Up When All Your Friends Are Lesbians…& You’re Not

 

 

Here it is…the moment [a few of] you have been waiting for. The debut of my play writing prowess…a comedy of queer proportions…the story my dating life as read by my friends…the hilarity that might could be the DC Queer DIY Punk Scene… one my favorite things I’ve ever created.

This play is a compilation of pieces of my life with the boring taken out, names changed and background slightly rewritten. Most of the dialogue is real. Some of the events happened. All of them could happen…at group house near you. I’m really proud of this play as it represents a lot of personal and artistic growth. Not only is is better writing but it is more honest writing. Some of the truths contained within might surprise people who haven’t talked to me in a while…if that is the case, I encourage you to ask about anything that surprised you.  I will probably write more about this play later and will post the script soon but for now…here is my first ever radio theater comedy podcast!

If you like the music [and really how could you not?] check of Spoonboy and Hot Hyms for more!

 

I Got A Lot Of Problems With You People!

festivus

 

[For all of you who were unable to make it to my festivus party last night, here is my airing of grievances.]

 

My dear dinner guest. My dear Woodys and Wienberger’s, and my dear Yates and Goggans, and Dalbys, and Kollins, and Divacks, and Cohens, and Also my good Sackville-Bagginses that I welcome back at last to Bag End…Er…Anacostia Today is officially Festivus; the satirical oppositional holiday valiantly standing against the oppression of Christmas. As foot soldiers in war against Christmas we gather together all of our darkness, queerness and Marxist rhetoric to pay vitriolic homage to end of White Supremacist Christian Centric Hetero-normative Patriarchy. I hope you are enjoying yourselves as much as I am. I shall not keep you long, I have called you all together for a purpose. Indeed, for three purposes! First of all, to tell you that I am immensely fond of you all, and that I am so fortunate to live among such excellent and admirable people. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. Secondly, to celebrate Festivus. Thirdly and finally, I wish to make an ANNOUNCEMENT! I regret to announce that- I have a long list of grievances. I know I promised to keep it short but I lied.

 

1.)       To The Snow Flake Theory: Here is to every child and grand-child of the Baby Boom Generation. Here’s to every black rimmed glasses wearing, sandaled, tattooed, pant sagging, God Fearing or Dawkins loving side show freak that wanted to the write the great American Novel. This is for everyone who refuses to conform because they feel that they were born to be different and for every conformists who does it because it’s not cool. Here’s for the teetotalers, for the drunks, the druggies, and the high-on-lifers. This for the weed smokers, the abstainers, the occupiers, the workers and couch potatoes proud to be the grandchildren of the Tool Makers, Stackers of Wheat, Players with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handlers. This for everyone who was told by their parents and grandparents, by their teachers and coaches, and by everyone who ever thought that they could sing or act that they were special. And this, is for everyone, everywhere, struggling under the daily oppression of a society that makes us think average is a dirty word. I’m here to tell you that your gut was right, that nagging feeling telling you that striving to be “more unique” is as pointless as it is absurd, was the one you should have been listening to.  We have become a generation that conforms to nonconformity and is only unique in the sheer ubiquity of our attributes. I’m sorry if I am the first to tell you this but…you’re not that special.  Do not despair. You are in great company. Your boss is also probably not special. Your favorite teacher, your mother, your mailman, your bartender, most congressmen and the lady who cooked your egg Mcmuffin are also, probably, not special.

2.)      To the Extreme Right Wing of the Republican Party, or shall I say, the Crazy Wing of the Grand Ole Party. To all the Neolithic -Conservatives. Tea-Partiers. Ironically Religious Ayn Rand Acolytes. Stop. Just…Stop. I get it. You have spent the last 30 years becoming whiter and whiter. You’ve spent all your energy fleeing the inner city and sending your daughters to Catholic Schools to insure your whiteness. And congratulations, other than your daughter who is dating the Asian woman she met at St. Mary’s and your grandson who inexplicably dropped out of his MBA program to teach in the inner city you have succeed. You are whiter than you have ever been. You make Ronald Reagan look like Malcom X. We applaud your dedication to trying to whitewash America’s Technicolor Quilt even as we hate just about every political action you take.  So, there is good news and there is bad news. The bad news you need to stop…because I hate you and because you are a dying breed. The good news is that your daughter’s girlfriend is awesome and if you stop being crazy, you’ll get invited to Thanksgiving again.

3.)      To the “Radical” Black Nationalists who wear $1,000 Italian Suits while shouting Black Power at “community meetings.” Either donate your suit to the United Negro College fund or sit down and shut up.

4.)      To my beloved family, whom I care for and cherish: If you keep taking my Apple products I swear fore God you will feel my wrath. They are not interchangeable. Mine are still in mint condition, yours are broken…that’s how you tell the difference.

5.)      Last, here is a list of things I don’t like

  1. Chief Keef
  2. Playtionships
  3. Almost irresistible urge to engage trolls online
  4. People who use fake science to justify their faith. I get it, you believe in God. So did Charles Darwin. I don’t want to hear how Methuselah lived so long because the atmosphere used to be ice. Just say you take it on faith and I promise not to question you.
  5. People who don’t understand what the first amendment is
  6. Hipster Racism
  7. Black people who refuse to acknowledge how racist the redskins name is
  8. People who think Obama is Muslim AND that he believes everything Rev. Wright ever said about anything
  9. People who wear socks with sandals
  10. Men who wear sunglasses inside
  11. People who say retarded to mean dumb
  12. Everyone who has every followed a racist statement with “…but I mean, not like you, you know…the OTHER BLACK PEOPLE.”
  13. People who start sentences with, “I’m not racist but…”
  14. People who put empty jars of peanut butter back on the shelf
  15. People who interrupt me when I talk
  16. When people don’t get my references
  17. When women tell me they once had a crush on me…after telling me they just got married
  18. People you leave facebook without telling me
  19. People who tell obvious lies and hope that I won’t call them out on it
  20. People who stick their favorite fragrance under my nose when I tell them I can’t smell
  21. People who don’t know when to shut up
  22. People who make lists that are too long
  23. People who ignore social cues telling them to shut up
  24. People who continue to talk because the they love the sound of their voice
  25. …there’s really two types of people I hate: people who are intolerant of other people’s culture…
  26. And the dutch.

Unsent Letter To All The Girls I’ve Loved

bell hooks on love

[Below is an unsent letter to every female friend I’ve been secretly in love with whom I sent really long e-mails to or hand written notes to after/before I went to college/when you were studying abroad/when I moved back to Falcon in 2008/when I moved to Colorado Springs in 2010/when you moved to a coastal city once I made it back to Chicago/when you went to grad school/visited your family for Hanukkah/ moved with your significant other [sometimes another female friend I had also once liked] back home/I moved to D.C.  If this sounds remotely similar to a letter I once sent in you in one of these moments then this was probably the first draft of a letter I wrote and decided not to send for one reason or another. I realized that this a recurring pattern in my life that I need to analyze…so I did…and what better way to process self-analysis than self-parody?]

To All The Friends I’ve Loved,

[There always start with some  overwrought and florid metaphor for whatever I’m unhappy about in the moment. In most of these letters it is my hometown] I’m not sure if a tree makes a sound when it falls in the forest with no one to hear it but I know from experience that the speed at which it falls is in direct proportion to number of observers. Falcon is not a place for me to write. Falcon is where writers are born. It is where the bigotry and backwardness drips from the lips of neighbors destined to be characters; cold as molasses and twice as black, pumping sweet visceral into an author’s creative glands.  Falcon will serve as the time capsule I use to write of time so long ago that it never really existed, at least not in the way I remember it.

In my stories I call it Mesa Valley, my Yoknapatawpha County [always includes an oblique reference to writer whom I feel an unjustifiable though visceral connection to. Sometimes I’ve only read their shortest published work but count them among my favorite authors] I write about the villains and saints of my childhood in this Mesa Valley so that the fictionalized grandiosity of the moment evokes the same emotion as the tonnage of years of microagressions and mini miracles. Put simply, the events are lies but the emotions are real. My neighbors will undoubtedly protest but I imagine my fame will soften their protest the same way their privilege softened mine. Their bigotry bit into my psyche layering trauma upon trauma [I actually had a pretty chill childhood but I thought for a while that I need to be a tortured artist to be a good artist.]

Is life so miserable? Is the darkness seeping in, encroaching on my happy moments? No, I suppose not. [almost all of these letters start the second paragraph with a refutation of the overwrought opening metaphor…insecure much?] In reality life is bland and it is that blandness that frightens me. Like Oscar WildeI live in terror of not being misunderstood. [quote is purposefully out of context. In an example of hipster letter writing, it serves as an illustration of my meta awareness] Drama and vibrancy are my heroin. In their absence I fiend for the thematic like a smoker turned niciderm addict. I lust for action with all the gusto and impulsiveness of a sex addict.  In the late hours of the night, when time seems to drip like a leaky faucet in a silent kitchen instead of flow, I try to figure out why this is. I have always had an overactive imagination and I have always been vicarious reader, living the lives of the characters as I read them. If you had asked my 12 year old self what I wanted to be when he grew up he would have said “a living legend.” Yet no childhood trauma or tendency could explain this burning desire of mine in its maturity [though, when I was 8 I used to scream “I’m going through a stage!” at my family when my siblings complained about my parents bending over backwards to not accommodate my latest fixation. I heard my parents discussing my habit of hiding eggs around the house and whether it was a “stag” or ealy onset mental illness one night and decided to use the phrase to justify my weirdness…jury is still out about early signs of mental illness]

There is an answer to the question. And yes, that is the short one. I’m doing fine. [you are supposed to assume the unasked question “how are you?” Man, is this guy meta or what?] Living with my parents has been interesting though not ideal. I am doing what I can to not waste way. When the monotone hum of prairie life turns into a tempest of passive, almost inert, aggression that threatens to overwhelm me I try to think of you and your adventures in [insert study abroad program, grad school, or new city her]. I imagine your [insert distinguishing feature] as you [insert activity that can I think can only be done where you are]. How is it in [insert colloquial/pretentious nickname for current location]? How is the air? What are you thinking about? What things are challenging you? Forcing you push your limits? What do you know now that you didn’t before? [still not sure where this habit of asking these sorts of questions to people became a thing that I do…constantly… but I can remember doing it as early as middle school]

I know you are probably laughing at my intensity. You mention that intensity often and each time I want to tell you how I really feel. [this when I show my insecurity in a self deprecating way. This portion is usually added to qualify previous or subsequent statements that were overly florid or ridiculous but I found too well phrased to delete.]  I spend so much time trying to calm that intensity for fear of scaring you away yet sometimes restraining my love for you seems more intolerable than your absence. I want you too know, finally, that I love you fiercely. [this is the part that is ALWAYS cut out of the final draft. The unspoken longings off…ugh…I’m doing it again!] When we take our walks through [insert significant place in our friendship] I’d be convinced that my feet never touched the asphalt if hearing you about what’s one your mind this week didn’t make me feel so grounded. I love the way your mind unravels in those moments. Your thoughts are distinct and intricately laced like braided steel cables supporting intellectual bridges from Kafka and Morrison to Weber and Du Bois [I always reference Kafka but never actually read Kafka until like 6 months ago.] Sometimes I am too mesmerized by how an individual thought of yours develops that forget how your smile gives me butterflies.

Your wild and frantic idiosyncratic hand gestures that increase in their assertiveness as the topic turns from history to your theory of how we constructive our identities through narratives remind me of the awkward girl I first met and not the poised woman I know now. As your passion burns through your light brown eyes I’m tempted to believe that my world has the same golden haze has its reflection in your gaze. In these moments I want to tell you that I love you. I know you would just smile and say “I know.” I know that I would have to hold your heart-wrenchingly beautiful gaze longer. I would lock my eyes with yours to add weight to my words; to tell you this was that kind of the love. The kind of love that causes me to fear that I’m losing myself in you, the terror of thinking that maybe falling so hard for you that I forget who I am sounds more like heaven than white clouds and halos. [who says that…seriously….I mean…it has a nice ring to it though…reminds me of this poem I wrote about my first “real” love]

Instead, I smile and hold my tongue. We walk miles through this city, you and I, with the secret of my love between us like a warm invisible sea. Swimming through it is the most exhausting endeavor of my life but living without it seems dry and barren in comparison. When we hug goodbye I wish I could wrap my hands around your soul instead of your waist and I pretend that my sadness is contemplation and not the awareness of the inevitability of your departure. [this would typically get re-written to something about missing you but not loving like THAT.]

[I feel like some of my friend must have suspected that I was not so secretly in love with them. Yet, I still write letters to some friends like this, long after I’m crushing on/overly-dramatically in love with them so I think most of friends probably just think its par for the course…and I guess it is par for the course. I love all my friends dearly, male or female and I’ve had a crush on like 95% of the women I’ve met who are no more than three years younger or 10 years older than me. I think if I had to put a number on it, which I don’t but will anyway, I’ve been in love with about 30% of my good female friends at some point in my life. I don’t actually think I’m using the phrase “in love” lightly here either. I have a natural tendency to love easily, deeply, quickly and fiercely. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been with a female friend and thought “we should just get married…like… right now. Why wait.” Yet for most, the timing was off or I was too shy. By the time either changed, we had changed.   But I’ve been in love with almost 1/3 of my female friends even if only for a moment and while that might seem pathetic and laughable…well…it might actually be laughable…it is not pathetic. I feel very fortunate to have befriended such amazing and beautiful women in my life.

I’ve been blessed to love women who have pushed my intellect, who have encouraged me to follow my dreams by pursuing theirs, who have shown me what it means to live by your principles, who have become teachers, and mothers, and executives and dancers and writers and organizers and PHd candidates. They are the unofficial therapist of their friends, the shoulder to cry on, fierce advocate for justice, level-headed and practical guides, the uplifting jokers and gorgeous wordsmiths of my world. I have learned and grown so much from these friendships and am so glad that we got  through the infatuation, the puppy love and the romantic love to richer and more sustaining and truly platonic love with my friends. I feel that with a few of my friends our relationship has matured into something greater than any romantic love I’ve ever experienced; we’ve learned to “love each other well.”  So to all the girls I’ve loved. From the playground to county fair to the main quad and whether I loved you for a conversation, a week or since the moment we first talked about our passions, I’d like to thank you teaching me, for bearing with my florid passion and intensity and, most of all, for accepting my love even if you were unaware of its true form. Know that every letter I send and note I write expresses the truth of how I feel about everything, even if only a part. Though honestly Erin, if you are reading this, my offer of marriage still totally stands. My romantic love for you is eternal and forever enriches my platonic love for you which is equally eternal. So, uh…call me, Maybe?]

With love [in all its varied forms and meanings],

Aaron

True Love

Dating In The Chocolate City? A Humorous But Impotant Excursion Into Beltway Dating Rituals

singles-dc

You would think, for a man recently reentering the dating game in a new city, living with two beautiful D.C residents would be a huge added benefit. My sisters are both attractive, accomplished young professionals in the DMV with goals and ambition and laid back [broadly speaking] demeanor. They must have insight into the befuddling and majestic alien creature that is a beltway woman. In all seriousness, I recognize that all women are individual human beings with their own wants, desires, strengths, quirks and insecurities. Yet, I also know that each region has it norms and regional ways of going about social interactions. I was hoping my sisters, DMV veterans that they are, could enlighten me. Yet let’s examine how these conversations actually play out.

[**Disclaimer the following account is a fictionalized account of true events. Everything in this account happened but the timeline, names, and minute details of the dates were changed for illustrative and entertainment purposes** **Irritable Bowel Disease is a real condition and if you identify with any of the symptoms, please seek out medical attention**]

Sister #1 [we’ll call her…Lindsey.] is currently wearing sweat pants and flowing flowery shirt. She is rubbing her stomach and smiling a satisfied smile.

Lindsey: Hey, have you noticed anything different about me?

Sister #2 [We’ll call her…June] is currently wearing her red dreads wrapped up the Do-Rags Lindsey bought for the community clean up last month. She eyes Lindsey and gives her a patented “really?” look.

June: [looks at me now, one eye brow raised] Don’t say anything…maybe if we ignore her she will go away.

Lindsey: [Has lifted her floral shirt above her belly and is now unabashedly rubbing her stomach that is significantly smaller that it was yesterday] I finally had a bowel movement…I just lost like four pounds.

Me: [In a true testament to how not-at-all-out-of-the-norm this is] Yeah, you look great Linds. [I give her a proud look like she just chugged a beer and smashed it on her forehead.] That’s a lot of shit kid.

June: [Clearly disgusted] Tsk. Don’t encourage her, she needs to go to the doctor.

Lindsey: No, I think one more bowel movement and I’ll be good.

The Conversation continues like this until we wake up. My sister’s bicker back and forth for about 10 minutes.

June: How was your date?

Me: It was great. She was really nice, smart and pretty. We had a really great conversation; I’m hoping to see her again.

Lindsey: Hm, did you pay for dinner. [June gives Lindsey her “WTF?” look] It may be the 21st century but a man should always pay for the first meal. [June’s look now says seriously cuz?]

Me: Well, I…

June: See this is way you should come to me with this. [Pause. Looks at Lindsey and back to me.] Some people [look back at Lindsey and rolls her eyes] No, I’m playin’. But seriously. What was she like?

Me: She was really cool. I had a really great time. I’m starting to really love the life I’m been building for myself in D.C. Being proactive, meeting great new people…it’s nice. I’m not sure if I should write her today or wait…I

[simultaneously]

June: call her now, it’s not the 90’s

Lindsey: Wait a few days. You’re a grown man, you have shit to do. You don’t have time to be writing her every moment.

Me: Uh…I feel like… I should just be able to…

June: [fainting anger] What kind of shit is that Linds?

Lindsey: What? He shouldn’t appear needy. Just wait a day.

This continues until they get distracted arguing about their exact same opinions of “The Rachel Ray Show.” I have learned nothing from this conversation other than that my sisters are two very different people. I enjoy it because they are hilarious in their sibling bickering. They are polar opposites who have grown eerily similar due to prolonged exposure to each other’s idiosyncrasies. As they continue to argue I turn to Google to solve my dilemma. As I type in “dating advice” into Google I revel in the butterflies flirting through my stomach as I think about the date. It is been a long time since I’ve had butterflies and so they are a welcomed feeling. What is even more welcomed is their background presence in my day. They are a dull echo compared to my college crushes.

The online advice is basically ten different versions of be yourself, don’t do anything borderline rapey or stalkerish. Check. Check and Check. Phew. I’m glad got out of the clear there. It can never hurt to make sure you are not exhibiting rapey or stalkerish tendencies.

[**Disclaimer. For real though, EVERYONE should check themselves for rapey or stalkerish tendencies. Just because I joke about it, doesn’t mean it’s not serious. I’m looking at you “I’ll get few drinks in her before I go for the kiss” Happy Hour Dude**]

While this confirms my hope that I am perhaps not as out of the loop as I thought, it provides little insight into my current situation. Undeterred, I type in “advice for e-mailing after a date,” and I try my best to wade through the sea of rules for dating.  I lack the focus to stay on task and end up reading a series of variations of Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus [MFMWFV.] I’m fortunate at least that as writer this is now no longer procrastination but will be referred to as “research.”

I continue my research as I try to find the nuggets of truth in the universally misguided and oft times bigoted glimpses into out dated courting rituals and blindly binary hetero-normative written projections of loneliness. I am slightly encouraged by the fact that these thirty and forty somethings whom deem themselves worthy of bestowing their wisdom to my generation still believe in being yourself. A few young millennial writers note that people are just people, and therefore women are in fact not from Venus but Brooklyn and Hyde Park and Tarrytown. I am heartened by this but am still left thinking, great, but do I write her today or tomorrow? How do you tell if a person [any person really ‘cause it might help with these job application follow ups] values immediate communication or if that seems too eager? Do I tell her she’s beautiful or should I tone it down a bit? How do you know whether someone is a hugger?

After about 30 minutes of distress I decide to call back on my sisters. I try and channel my mother and project the face that always gets them to stop bickering pleasantly. They see the face and, reminded of my mother, are ashamed for a second. June in turn imitates my mother’s “I’m listening intently but also kind of mocking you face.”  After listening to my blown-out-of-proportion-because-I’m-really-bored dilemma, June says that older people [read: in their 30’s] call this dating etiquette.  I relax a little and peruse those articles before finally settling on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/dating-rules-better-than-3-day-rule_n_3403137.html.

I silently thank Arianna Huffington for solving my immediate problems and write a heartfelt message about how much I enjoyed the date and plainly asked for another. I feel much better at this point and am glad that, unlike 18 year old me, I feel confident that I can go about my day without waiting for a response. The more I think about the series of MFMWFV articles though, the more unsettled I become. The feeling of unease creeps up on me like after you get off the 90 in D.C or the Redline in Chicago and aren’t sure what to make of the man selling apples out of a biohazard bag. You know it’s not okay but you are unsure as to the extent to which it’s not okay.

I was concerned with the lack of practical non-patriarchal relationship advice for men. Again, I’m super excited that there is a lot of advice on how not to be a creepy needy slightly rapey date. And, admittedly, dating etiquette was helpful for the more banal questions like what to wear, what to say, where to go. Yet what about the more meaningful concerns. Even though I’ve only gone on first dates my mind inevitably wandered to questions about more serious relationships. What does courting look like without patriarchy?

[**Disclaimer. Mom/Dad/ random other adult figures in my life. I’m going to talk about some adult themes so if this is going to make you slightly uncomfortable or[ worse] make me slightly uncomfortable, please stop reading**]

How do you bring up physical intimacy and sex without offending someone or worse pressuring them?  How do you clearly state where you’re at and what you want at the different stages of courtship, dating, and being a couple? What if you’re not sure if you what kind of relationship you want? Is there a way to bring it up without your date being like “dude I’m not even sure if I’m going to peace out on you when my friend calls to see if I need an excuse to leave?”

I tried relationship advice but found that far too broad and again, obvious. Thank you Doctor Phil, now I know that I probably shouldn’t talk about my emotional scars from previous relationships in the first or second date. Really? I probably shouldn’t pretend to be interested in a committed relationship if all I want is sex? I then tried “dating advice for feminist allies.” This advice was only slightly more relevant to me. There were some interesting discussions about not using the word rape to describe things are not rape and how you can show women respect [ http://www.anamardoll.com/2012/11/deconstruction-how-to-be-male-ally.html ]. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the article is awesome. I think everyman should read it and if everyman took it to heart we could end large swaths of rape culture in America.

My concern is, are there really so few men in my position? Most of this discussion is, quite frankly, obvious to me. This would be fine if I were some saint of new age maleness. I would be fine if it meant that I was so far past my Neanderthal-lite contemporaries that I didn’t need this advice. Unfortunately, I struggle with and perpetuate patriarchy every day. I still am not sure how to confidently approach sexual topics with women as equals. How do I make my wants and desires clear and respected while giving her space to do the same? How might I ethically navigate a hypothetical partner’s “sex-positivism” with my odd mix of slightly old fashion views on “common decency” and unique sexual desires? Basically how and when do you create a safe, non-awkward space to talk about physical and emotional intimacy from kissing & sex to commitment issues & mental illness?

To be clear, my concern is less at the practical lack of easily available discussions of these sorts of issues now that I’m dating, it is about the symbolism of the absence in our discussion. Past experience has told me that often these sorts of things resolve themselves organically in my own relationships. I’m fairly confident that if I continue to be the honest, open and caring person I try and often succeed at being it is unlikely that any potential partner will feel uncomfortable pressure or offense. Yet what does it mean that there is no cultural conversation about this. Do people either accept offense and pressure as hazards of dating or possess some sort of brazen honesty on these subjects that risks scarring off potential partners in order to avoid said pressure and offense.

And if I’m perfectly honest with myself [and by myself I of course mean the 20 random people who will read this], it would be practically helpful for me too. What if I’m wrong about things working out organically? What if one of my many unknown unknown’s was that I am doing things in my organically developing relationships to offend women? It’s been known to happen [ “nice guy patriarchy” or back when I used to dance beside girls and pretend like I was dancing with them in college].

So, Facebook friends, random bloggers, fellow allies, womanists, feminist, queer theorists and free thinkers: how do you date ethically in the modern world? I suppose I should also ask, is it reasonable to expect to be able to date, hold true to your needs, wants and beliefs without inadvertently benefiting from or perpetuating patriarchy? I’m not asking about how to date without getting your feelings hurt [mom I know that probably what you’re about to send me a heartfelt message about…send it anyway just in case] I thinking dating, like all human interactions, come with risk and miscommunications. My question is can it come without rape culture, patriarchy, emasculation and WTF moments? Not only would I like to know but I think this conversation (which is undoubtedly taking place somewhere in the interweb) needs to be more main stream. Please, if I’m simply missing out on a great conversation out there, post it in the comment section. Can’t wait to hear from you!

p.s. what’s the deal with :)’s. Is that deal breaker? What if I’m really excited about what I just said?