Relationship Lessons From the Mango

In an effort to incorporate green smoothies in my diet, I’ve come to realize I don’t like mangos. (Mangoes is also correct plural spelling in case you were wondering). Why has it taken me 61 years to figure that out? I figured my food tastes were all pretty set by now. While at this point in time I realize mangos and I must go our separate ways, I admit I don’t remember when I first realized my relationship with mangos turned from good to bad.

That made me think of how many times in the last 15 years since I divorced, I tried to figure out when, during my 20 year marriage, things went south. I don’t ever remember being attracted to mangos. I just remember noticing they were showing up in salads and the odd dish, like maybe a curry sometime over the past couple of decades. I googled “when did mangos become trendy” and much to my surprise they’ve been consumed in India for millennia and some suggested they are the worlds most popular fruit. In fairness to my marriage, I do remember a brief period of conscious attraction and in fairness to mangos- well never mind.

I just remember always being ambivalent to mangos- they always seemed rather tasteless in whatever dish they were in. I guess I didn’t want to give up mangos to spare the other fruits- but now that I’ve made the split, the apples and bananas knew all along.

Disclaimer- I never cheated on mangos, abused mangos, smoked snorted or injected mangos. I did see a mango with a papaya once but who doesn’t like a little “tropical fruit on tropical fruit” display now and then.

Should I have dropped mangos when I realized I was no more than ambivalent to them? Was it worth all those years trying to make mango things work? I do realize that we make subtle and not so subtle changes in our lives over time which both cause and are caused by good and bad choices. Otherwise, I’m now as confused about fruits as I am relationships. Well, truth be told- it’s not the mangos fault. It’s the journey of self-awareness that’s the issue-and my ability to confound myself after all these years.

A Gathering of Male Friends is called a ….

Four friends and I go out to dinner once a month. It started “innocently” with a friend and I having a regular dinner out and grew organically into this Five Man group. Our dinners consist mostly of therapeutic laughter, inspired by sometimes witty, (more often not witty), clever jokes, bad jokes, puns, and inappropriate comments which are politically incorrect. In other words, it’s a nonjudgmental safe space where, once a month, we can take a deep breath.

I have grown increasingly astonished by the questions from female hostesses and waitresses along the lines the lines of “What are you guys doing out?” “Is it a special occasion? Birthday?”; combined with tone, facial expression and body language that ranges from sheer confusion to mild disgust.

I’ve compiled some responses, which might be helpful. (Which have not gotten past my filter).

1. We have a visa from immigration which allows us to gather outside a golf course, sports bar, fishing hole, marina, bowling alley or sporting event

2. We wrote Jeff Bezos about a “Prime Porn” service and he’s asked us to further develop the concept. (Think about it- unlimited server capacity, no buffering, better selection, available in the kindle store). He already sells a 55 gallon drum of lube. See my post on “55-gallon-lube-on-amazon-com”

3. We’re working on a Ted talk, “Keep and Maintain your teenage Male Sense of Humor”.

4. A gathering of more than two male friends is not, absent proof of emails to Russians, aliens or a non-Christian religious group, a conspiracy. Ok, not an ILLEGAL conspiracy

5. Yes, our wives, almost wives, girlfriends and sex buddies know we’re doing this and employ the full range of emotions from amusement to annoyance, sometimes simultaneously.

6. Yes, we go to a different restaurant monthly to reduce the consequences of getting kicked out for bad behavior, and wait at least a year before returning to a previously visited location. (We’ve never been kicked out but have had some nearby tables ask to move and repulsed a waitress or two). (We leave huge tips as open and blatant bribery)

7. We are not LGBTQIA (see two above) BUT- it would be PERFECTLY OK if we were. (No animals are harmed or abused during our meetings but may be inappropriately mentioned in jokes or in reference to illegal behavior)

8. If you find several same-sex friends over the age of 24, dining out together as odd or weird, you need more or better friends or better priorities.

9. We call ourselves the “Dirty Old Mans Club” because the title is kind of stupid, juvenile, accurate, and self-deprecating. Thanks for noticing. If we can think of something dumber, we’ll change.

10. Sometimes, our comments “cross the line “. (Is there a line? Where is the line? Who sets the line?). Nope- nothing is sacred. Thank God.

Everybody needs a tribe. If you don’t have one, get one. If you have a tribe, thank them. And go disturb a restaurant hostess today. Your mental health will thank you.

Relationship Lessons Gleaned from Lead/Follow Dances

Dancing Argentine Tango for seven years, many of my classes and workshops are on perfecting the skills of being a good leader and follower. I’ve noticed many of those lessons are good for relationships in general. While men are often leaders and women followers, anyone can lead or follow, so to be as all encompassing as possible, my references will be to leader and followers only, as opposed to gender. After all, I’m not North Carolina.

1. Both parties should stay on their own axis (balance). If you are leaning on your partner to the point they are having to hold you up, the dance will never work. Have we not all dated someone like that?

2. Leaders should not pull, push, shove, or otherwise forcibly try to get the follower to “get it”. I mention this since SC is quite high on the national list for Domestic Violence, and because reading followers posts, it seems to be epidemic. Maybe you really want to be in mixed martial arts or wrestling instead.

3. Stated differently in different languages, “the leader proposes, the follower disposes”. A lead is not a command, but an invitation, to which the follower accepts or rejects. (or maybe interprets differently then you intended in an even more lovely way) Followers, like people in bars, appreciate your picking up on this after your third invitation is rejected (or first). Know the difference between persistence and harassment.

4. If your lead doesn’t obtain the intended response, my advice is to consider this to be something you miscommunicated rather than an error on the followers part. Here’s why, there’s nothing you can do about an error on the followers part (during a social dance) , but there’s a lot you can do to make your non verbal communication skills better. In fact, one of the greatest benefit of lead follow dances is that you ACQUIRE non verbal communication skills. What married person wouldn’t like THOSE to be better? For themselves and their significant other (SO). For workshops, consider that most issues between couples are a combination of both parties. Take a “how can we make this better approach”, as opposed to a “you need to do or not do X,Y,and Z.” Even if it is one person’s issue, it’s easier to accept if determined in a cooperative format.

5. Likewise, as a follower, if you are confused by your partners lead, you can’t do anything about that in the moment. What you can do, is focus on what YOU’RE doing and go through your mental checklist: posture, balance, arm position, looking at partners chest, etc. Wouldn’t most relationships be better if we worked hardest at “fixing” ourselves, rather than taking our SO’s inventory.

6. Follow etiquette. “Etiquette is a code of polite conduct. If you practice proper etiquette, you are less likely to offend or annoy people — and you may even charm them.” https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/etiquette Rules regarding the dance moves in a counter clockwise circle, that one does not instruct during a social dance, that one doesn’t talk DURING the dance (before or after is fine) are all designed to avoid injury, and create an opportunity for everyone to have a pleasant social experience while dancing. While some neglect etiquette in relationships, one might argue that relationships need just as much etiquette as public situations. Like not talking during a dance. Who hasn’t been in relationship and far too often thought, “will they just not shut up”.

7. You will not have chemistry with everyone. This is not a surprise. You may even find that someone you had chemistry with at one time, you no longer do. Or you may find that they no longer have chemistry with you. Usually some distance is all that’s required. Stabbing, poisoning, shooting them is not recommended, nor is defaming them, trying to cause them financial ruin or slashing there tires. While intentionally hyperbole, anyone who’s been to divorce court knows exactly where I’m coming from.

8. Personal Hygiene. Who hasn’t wished this was a more popular endeavor in ALL facets of life. Whether dancing or in a relationship, applying the Golden Rule to yourself for any situation in which you will spend significant time cheek to cheek is not rocket science.

9. Your current lack of ability at “whatever” is not an excuse for not learning, participating or getting better. This is one of my favorites. When I tell people I take yoga classes, a typical response is “I can’t do that, I’m not flexible.” “Neither was I when I started, but I can now stick my head up my ass, and you’re apparently flexible enough for that”. Or, “I can’t dance, I have no rhythm”. Uhhh, that’s why you take lessons. Just say I’m not interested in that rather then suggesting a lack of knowledge is a good excuse. We could have all gotten out of public school if saying, “Wow, I can’t go, I don’t know math”. Over seven years, I’ve been told I have no rhythm, can’t move to a beat, act like I’m always at a funeral, lack musicality, have no creativity or imagination. And those comments were just from my former marriage.