Tuesday, June 2, 2015

5 Things Mom Was WRONG About

Mom and I were close, particularly after 2001 when we simultaneously moved from California's Bay Area down to the American Southwest: She to her home state of Arizona, and I to Nevada. We then made a sort of pact which promised that she would visit me once a year, and I would visit her once a year. Those twice per year journeys were consistently and happily traversed--right up until she died, near the end of that decade.

She was a wise woman who was deeply in touch with her spiritual side. A devout, lifelong Catholic who never drank an ounce of alcohol, never smoked a cigarette, nor who ever even used a swear word. As such, some of the best advice I've yet received, e.g. "Always go with your first instinct," "Avoid gambling, drugs, and alcohol," and "Embrace diversity" were lessons learned straight from mom's mouth.

But nobody's perfect, and there were times (five of which I can recall) when she was undeniably wrong:

1.) "If you want a girl to like you, then be 'extra-nice' to her." As a boy and young man, this terrible advice proved the most sabotaging to my inner-player who was at that time desperate to be released from my geeky, nice-guy (actual) self. Based on her making this ridiculous suggestion (and upon some of her other actions), I believe mom did everything in her power to stifle my well-thought-out plans to earn the affections of my many young crushes. I'm guessing she had no interest in becoming a grandma at a (somewhat) young age. And although she tolerated the nerdy marching band girls who occasionally came over, she'd throw an absolute fit each time the hot (and usually provocatively dressed) neighborhood blonde chick ("Crystalyn") showed up around the house.

But back to that "be extra-nice" advice: Why else would mom have encouraged this particularly weak type of behavior unless she wanted me to fail with women? Nice just doesn't work! Women are confused and skeptical whenever a "nice guy" enters their aura: 

"Why is he being so nice?" "Is he gay??" "He must want something." "Maybe he's a psychopath!"

Each year, People rewards and recognizes the Sexiest Man Alive...never the Nicest.

But the absolute end game to this entire nice guy routine arrives when the girl you're trying to date declares you to be "too sweet." When those apocalyptic words leave her lips, it's safe to say that you have a better chance of winning the state Lottery than you have of ever becoming romantically involved with the likes of her.

2.) "Decide on things together (when on a date or in a relationship)." I've honestly never made plans with a woman who didn't expect me to call at least 90% of the shots. I'd actually prefer a more democratic method of making plans, but the girls I've dated would have thought I was crazy had I meekly asked them, "so....what do you feel like doing tonight?" or "would you prefer to see a movie, go on a hike, go to the beach, or just stay home and work on our singing?" or (even worse) "what kind of food do you feel like for tonight?"

Single women expect at least some leadership from men. And, even beyond that: Just about every woman I've ever dated has expected me to have worked out 100% of the date details. That's not to say I don't appreciate my date's input, because I do. It's just that most women appear to be more comfortable with allowing the man to decide.

If a guy were to ask the girl he's dating what she wanted to do each and every time they went out, he'd drive her crazy. Believe me, I know: I behaved in exactly that manner during my early relationship days (due to having followed this wretched advice), and was bluntly told (by more than one girlfriend) to "start wearing your big boy pants," "stop being a 'mama's boy,'" and to "grow a pair."

3.) "Work Hard." If I could go back in time and change just one thing, it'd be to not work (anywhere near) as hard as I did during my young adult years. I unnecessarily expended a tremendous amount of precious life energy, and I very much regret it..

But back when mom was growing up, "working hard" was great advice: you started "at the bottom" with a big company, gradually "moved up the ladder," and--as long as you worked hard and remained loyal to them--they would in turn never fire you, consistently increase your pay, provide you with excellent benefits, and even make large contributions to your retirement pension. Back then, most full-time jobs in America were sufficient to raise a family, own a home, a car, and raise several children--and spouses were typically able to stay at home with the kids!

Those days are of course long, long gone. Companies are now loyal only to themselves, and employee loyalty is too a thing of the distant past. It's, sadly, a dog-eat-dog world out there, and it's every person for him or herself. 

Working hard will still enable someone to quickly climb the corporate ladder, but the full-on efforts given are rarely worth the hard fought for rewards reaped. Burning out looms largely on the horizon, and when you're constantly performing at a very high level--well then, the only way to proceed from there is down, right? 

"Work smart" is what mom should have advised! 

4.) "Pick one thing and stick with it" makes no sense at all. Sure, if I had stuck with my high school and college trumpet lessons up until the present day, I'd likely be a virtuoso, highly respected, and well-paid classical musician. But at the expense of what...never having discovered my singing voice? Never having developed my writing talent? Never having ventured into the world of business? Never having discovered bicycling, hiking, volunteering, or public speaking?  Life would be considerably more boring had I listened to mom about this! 

5.) "Cold weather (and rain) will make you sick" is obviously erroneous advice. What in the world was mom thinking when she gave it?!

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