4.8 Was I right to be angry at my boyfriend…?

I love reading Danny Katz’s column the ‘Modern Guru’ in the Good Weekend magazine. He’s humour and sarcasm is far superior to any of my blogger wit. But I thought I’d join him in writing a response to last Saturday’s dating question about angry girlfriends, engagements and boys:

Was I right to be angry at my boyfriend for avoiding his best friend’s engagement party for no good reason? Is this avoidance of such an important milestone in someone else’s life a bad sign for him and me?
C.L, Woden, ACT

Keep your tennis shorts on honey it sounds like love. It’s not a double fault – he’s just a boy.

My brother still calls Mum to ask if my birthday is the 16th or 17th of August every year. Because, a) He can’t remember but actually cares about not looking silly and calling on the wrong day; b) It’s post GFC – pens, memory and iPhones are expensive; and c) He’s a boy.

Remembering dates and getting themselves to female-driven Facebook photo tagging events like engagement parties to them are like cushion covers – not really necessary.

On your annoyance of missing his best mates engagement, I think you’re forgetting how many of the important nights he was there for. Surely his mate’s first alcoholic stomach mishap? Surely his team’s 2003 AFL win, and the very first time he felt fake boobs?

Maybe give him the advantage – after all he does the hard jobs like killing the spiders, emptying the bins and eventually getting down on one knee.

It’s almost match point – you haven’t got long to go now.

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4.4 Stranger danger – and the time I got into a taxi with a cowboy and a chicken.

“But I just paid $20 to get in here – I don’t want to leave yet!” I was waving my glass of tequila-glad-I-don’t-drink-those-anymore-sunrise as I whinged at my friend Michelle. Ok, so maybe we really had been there two hours already but the night was just beginning, my tequila sunrise was just setting and guys were falling for drunk girls like shooting stars. Fine, that’s an odd exaggeration. But you know when everyone wants to go home and you don’t? That’s called “being Lorenza”.

“Ok,” Michelle finally agreed, and then waved towards the smoking area. “But I’m going to get one of my guy friends out there to keep an eye on you.”

I spoke to my smoking-man chaperone, danced like I really didn’t know anyone there – that being the truth – and told loads of people I was a dolphin trainer or lawyer because really when you’re out, wearing black and drunk you’re never going to see these people again.

A few hours later I walked out and stared at Golden Arches opposite and thought mRmm-nom-yes. Upon my exit I realised my taxi dilemma, with all the other drunk cheeseburgers out there, this was going to be harder than I thought.

Two guys were standing near me – dress-up party, clearly. One looked like something of a cowboy with tassels and pointy leather shoes and the other I don’t know whether he was a chicken or a cow. He certainly wasn’t vegetarian looking as he pointed at my shoes and asked “Can I try those on?” “Of course you can!” I responded as he tottered back and forth in them whilst ToyStory Woody and I chatted and decided we were all going in the same direction so why not share a cab.

Now 32-year-old me who have scolded 27-year-old me for getting in a cab with complete-costumed-strangers. But if you’ve lived in inner city Melbourne you know you have to lie and tell cab drivers you’re heading to the airport or Maroondarough (I made that place up) if you want a cab any time past nothing good-happens-after- 2-o’clock. And well I realllllly didn’t want to walk home alone, because that’s unsafe and these guys seemed like way more fun.

Four cheeseburgers and five minutes of drunk bonding later, I’d decided to keep partying on at theirs. Yup. WHAT? Never mind sharing a cab. Look, there was some Diet Coke deliberation and a cab driver asking me silly things like “You’re not worried they’re gong to chop you up into little pieces? CHOP! CHOP!” I guess I’ve trusted my drunken intuition for a Long-Island-iced-tea time by now and haven’t ended up a bloody mary just yet.

The house was HUGE. There were more people to play with (housemates not fellow abductees) and they even made up a sofa bed for me in the lounge. We drank more vodka, cooked McCains chips in the oven (oh the delicate details I remember) and played Pictionary or poker or was it PacMan? Till dawn.

I arrived home the next afternoon roughly 15 hours since I’d last seen Michelle. Calling … “Sorry! My phone died and I just got home.”
“Right” she said and muffled her annoyance “Well, make sure you call your Dad.”

Me: “WHY?” Suddenly very worried she’d called my parents in distress.
“Because it’s Fathers Day!” she said, and hung up.

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4.2 Boyfriend material is the new black.

“Yeah but he’s not boyfriend material” I’ve heard myself say countless times over the cotton twill wilderness of the last few single years. What does make up this elusive, oh so sexy and shiny boyfriend material? Or for the other half of the population out there – shiny Barbie, busted, blonde – cough – sorry getting carried away – girlfriend material?

For me when looking for the ultimate boyfriend-fabric it’s the fairly obvious things; They need a job, (a good job) you know something that would hold up so I didn’t have to breast feed on lunch break. Sorry TMI? I’m not on the baby-thought-train just yet – but a girl’s got to think of these things. So he’d need that job, a driver’s license, some nice non-weed smoking friends and well, HECK, he’d just have to treat me right. As I get older this is a fairly black and white world for me. Oh he didn’t text back or cancelled our date with a shit-town excuse like he had to go to the gym? Equals = Shit bloke. Move on, plank and find another. Any guy who’s a student (sorry guys) or living at the parents – no matter how entrepreneurial the-next-Facebooking he thinks he is, is going in the non-fabricated boyfriend basket for me.

I’ve heard from guy friends it’s an immediate decision upon that first up, down, sentence out the mouth look. She’s ‘girlfriend material.’  Or she’s the ‘lycra with long, bendy legs’ material instead. To put it nicely that leggy one is never meeting the parents so-to-spandex-speak. This slightly annoys me because I can clearly remember every guy that has seen me as ‘girlfriend’ material because they’ve very obviously treated me that way or in a slightly stalkerish, cutesey bought me roses to brunch type way. Then there’s alllll the rest. And sure I got sucked in. ‘Oh he’s texting me at 10pm because he must have had a busy day.’ Re-read: that girl he likes more than you fell through so now he’s texting you.

And as we get older I’ve heard myself say things like “Take that photo down off Facebook! It’s not wife material”. As hot and leggy as it was – I’m sick of being the party girl and would prefer a social media persona of ‘She’s a keeper slash she looks responsible and nice enough to raise our kids’. Nevermind she can sink two bottles of red at home on a quiet Saturday night. We just leave that off the demure photo caption below.

Most of us have an idea of ‘boy/ girlfriend material’ even though we won’t say it out loud. It’s in our unwritten rules, it’s in our silent bullet point boyfriend lists, it’s stealing a superficial glance at those brown shoes and thinking ‘Oh honey no.’ Before we decide on that piece of material we may have to wear for the rest of our lives.

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4.1 I could never date a guy who…

A guy who thinks baked beans on toast makes an acceptable brunch. No Melbourne-freaking-way. Brunch requires pancetta and egg poaching, and a guy who doesn’t get this will probably take on everything else in life with lackluster imagination. Think I’m being ridiculous? You can tell a lot about a guy by what he wants to eat, and by that I mean.. umm nevermind.

A guy who can’t iron a shirt, change a light bulb, put together a table – you know what I mean. It’s cute the first frowny half smile he gives when he’s running late for work and looking at the iron board like it’s a giant-sized tampon. But the effect wears off after a few mornings of sidelining hair washing for his wrinkles of lazy cotton.

A guy who wears a salmon pink polo shirt to the pub and thinks the ladies will love it. It’s not ‘salmon’ buddy – It’s a shade of Barbie pink left out of the fridge that’s gone bad. Stop it Ken, your T-shirt-with-matching-convertible choice is drunk, go home.

A guy who freaks out and won’t deal with you when you’re sick. Whether you’re a snot fest, a Bali belly or that 28-day punch in the ovaries. You need someone who’s going to take the good with the bad and realise when he’s coming down with the man flu he’ll get the same chicken soup and Vicks vapour rubs in return.

A guy who’s obsessed with his body and what he’s putting in it. If he needs it cooked in organic butter with grain-fed baby lamb and broccoli grown in his fairy godmother’s garden with pesticide-free unicorn dust, then he can get it himself. Ease up on the heath nut spread and eat some preservatives and red colouring – you might be a lot more fun.

A guy who’s not into his family at all. We’re all allowed to have a personality clash with a sibling or crazy cousin. But if he’s dissing his Dad and calling kids ‘little shits’ – unless they’ve stomped on his foot and run away – then he might need some mummy issues therapy before starting anything with me.

A guy who doesn’t eat salami or pasta. Get out of my kitchen and don’t let the pasta maker hit you on the way out. If you can’t roll gnocchi off a fork and take the heat of spicy salami on a stick, then you’re not going to understand my passion and crazy for fettuccine and deli bacon goods. I suggest you date a girl who comes in the colour beige.

A guy who won’t sing karaoke, or drink wine out of a bottle on the street – whaaat? – or do 14 Jager shots and dance on a podium at Spice Market. You want a guy who’s not scared to act like an idiot and not be worried what everyone thinks. If he’s not going to let his perfectly coiffed hair down every Friday night then he’s only going to be embarrassed by Beyonce-singing me.

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3.8 In the name of the father, the son and the grown up conversations we need to have.

I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there are like me – skipping along in the blissful world of in-love without a flicker of grown up thoughts entering your mind. I mean I’m thirty TWO – No need to worry about babies or any of that business right now. But what if you have some strong beliefs in the way you want your children raised? If you don’t want them smacked? If you don’t want them baptised? If you don’t want them going to a public school? If you’re dating someone and you’re in your thirties and you want children – you should probably have some of these discussions now. Yes now. Not in five years when you realise you live on opposite-parental-polar sides of the world.

But you both like each other so much, so surely you’ll just agree on everything, right? You don’t want to be seven months pregnant, fighting about baptism and public schooling while your undelivered foetus can listen and keep score. By then those conversations might be a little too late. I’m not getting all Gandhi on you – I’m not the wise, well-thought-out one here. I’ve never thought about any of this stuff in my life, likely because I’ve never dated anyone and thought ‘Ooh I’d like to have half your DNA inside me to create something that can’t speak or do the dishes for the first seven years of its life.’

Realising some of these tough questions need to be answered, my first port of head-breaking call is my “nope, not baptised, I’m going to hell and why are you asking?” friends. A temple-tonne of my friends have been raised strict Catholic and I was aghast to hear the straight-down-the-baptism-barrel answers I was getting – clearly these guys had thought about it? Or hated something enough to know they didn’t want it all over again.

I had a Catholic upbringing and I haven’t come out the other ordained end hating on all things churchy and yes, I want my children baptised. But how far am I going to take that? Would I break up with someone over this? It’s a little odd how your brain, head and heart all start to feel a bit twisted about this. I’ve found someone who meets every requirement, ticks every boy box – but if we can’t agree on this, is that it? Should I start only dating men at local churches who won’t have 99% of the things I really want? Do *I* need to compromise a little more and take down my church-o-meter a notch?

If my partner was from a different religion (cripes don’t tell the parents) that had a very different baptism-esque ceremony would I dare let him bathe the child in it? Of course I would. Because isn’t this more about respecting each others’ own faiths, upbringings and finding that middle ground of compromise to raise your children on? I’d like to think so. So I need to get my partner across the line on this one too. “Shiraz wine please and all the kids baptised to go”.

I don’t think this is one conversation to be had and ended. No-one knows how you’re going to feel once you have a little version of your mixed selves sitting there and you need to decide what water and blessings you’re going to douse it with. But I do know I don’t want to be all wishy washy about it now and not stand up for what I want and years on simply hope my partner will want the same. I’m not stupid enough to think someone will forget or change their mind over years of wearing down. You’d have to have Jesus rocks in your head. (Jesus rocks aren’t a thing, I just made that up. I imagine they’d be heavy though and open doors at Easter time.)

So my basic baptismal thoughts for you are: keep on skipping, keep on being in love, but speak about these things and have these uncomfortable conversations now. Make sure you’re on the same psalm, Buddha belly or Bible page before you get those keys cut, open that joint bank account and spend a small fortune down the aisle to say, “I do”.

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