Saturday, May 16, 2009
If you meet anyone who knows me, they will let on that I'm a total pushover. My friend Samantha calls me a "Yes" man. And I'll admit, they're right. I HATE confrontation, and will do a lot to get out of it. It's a double edged sword as you can imagine. So, if I can say yes without causing injury to myself, even if the yes consists of me going out of my way to do something...sure, why not, life is short, I'll generally do it.
That's what makes me a genuinely good person. I like to people please, and I hate when people are upset. It's something I have to monitor because in the past I have put myself in harm's way just to make an unhappy person happy. However, through the school of hard knocks, I learned that people are generally happy or unhappy regardless of what you can do for them. But that took a long time and a few bad relationships to realize.
You see, I have that type of personality that is infectious. Think about it, I'm happy, I'm outgoing, and I'm damn handsome. The only problem, is I'm ultra sensitive to what people think about me. So, that can make me a little unsure of myself every now and then. Add that to the fact that I like to make people happy, step back and ask yourself...what type of people gravitate to a handsome, charming, yet sensitive guy?
Needy people...Yeah, that's right. And often times, those needy people are psycho. Put that together with the fact that my friends have said, "Matty would even hump that lamp post", and you have my list of ex-girlfriends. The problem is, needy people bring you down.
My coach in high school once said, "You're the dumbest smart kid I know". I took great offense, but looking back on my life's transgressions, you'd have to agree. You're talking to a guy who took two and a half years to break up with a girl who faked an abortion, threatened her own suicide at least five hundred times, and kicked in the headlight of my truck. That breakup took about twelve interventions from my best friends. All the while I was sustaining a 3.7 GPA. Enough said.
All the exes share similar breeding, or I guess similar articles of clothing...shoes...big shoes....ISSUES. Mommy, daddy, doggy, "No one loves me", shit, the list is endless. The problem is, they never really got better. You could make an argument about the last ex (we'll just call her "Dirty") not having as big of SHOES, but her own "Daddy" issues consumed her as well as her love for spending another man's cash.
Dating these mongoloids was depressing and exhausting. You see, they all saw me as their knight of hope. Shit, I was like Obama to them I guess. So instead of working out their own problems, they looked to me to fix them. And I was happy to help. You see, I guess I thought, "Keep being the nice guy, they can change, they'll get better, what would Jesus do"?.
What would Jesus do? Shit, that man would have tucked tail and run long before he caught a glimpse of them, that's what Jesus would do. But I was young and I thought I could change a person. I thought I was some kind of emotional healer. Honestly, these folks would have had better luck with a tarot card reader, or perhaps Dr. Phil.
In my effort to help the helpless, I never gave myself a shot to get something better. I guess I opened myself up too much to their own unhappy criticism. In order to stave off confrontation, I would always say "YES". Making them happy became my number one priority. Fearing the idea that I could disappoint someone coupled with my unquenchable desire to change someone for the better, I sold myself short and settled for many unhappy dating years. The evil cycle of rescuing with the false hope of change kept me doing what I was doing. In hindsight, I kept myself miserable.
And in my final epic relationship of CRAPTASTICNESS (Yes, it's a word), I finally realized my unhappiness (Shit, it only took 9 years of dating a million different people). So I decided against hiding my feelings, and shared my sentiments with my girlfriend "Dirty"(whom I was hoping to someday marry). My reward, "We should break up, I can't make you happy Matty". Gee, that was nice. A few months later, I found out she was shagging another guy all the while we were dating. That guy coincidentally was the "nice" bloke who offered to take me out drinking the day we broke up. Pour salt into the wound there and add a dash of, "They just got married", and you have irony.
But the veil of night is always followed by a ribbon of light at dawn. And you know by now, her name was Meghan. For whatever reason God put her in front of me, and I landed a date with her. She proceeded to take this wounded little fawn, nurse him back to health, and kick him in the balls by saying things like, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself, be a man, let's go, stop worrying." Sprinkle in the fact that she appreciated me, found me totally hot (dammit all who wouldn't), and didn't have a laundry list of psych problems, I was done.
Finally, I had stopped scraping the bottom of the barrel. I had met my perfect match and I was happy. I had at last found an environment where I could grow as a person and didn't have to reconcile with a hopeless head case.
When I used to work at "America Restaurant", I had become friends with this guy named "Roy". And he said to me one day, "My 30s were my best years, not my 20s. You see, I was stupid then. In my 30s I still had my looks, but I had a clue about how the world worked...less mistakes, more payoff".
My addition to that statement would be the following...
"Back when I was in my teens and twenties, I thought I could change people, and I cared too much about what they saw in me. So that would get me down, I never gave myself enough credit, and always settled for the bottom of the barrel. I was stuck in a perpetual motion of dating shitty people because I thought I could change them. But in my mid twenties I found an angel, and somehow I decided to act right, and she kept me, now I'm 30 and I'm happily married....less mistakes, more payoff".
Shit, even the dumbest smart kid can finally learn to do something right.
Here's to you Roy.
One other thing, "Dirty" married that "nice" bloke for his money, and she spends a ton. Now that's JUSTICE with a capital J
You know how when you say, "Yeah so and so is a doctor, or lawyer, or mechanic", and you get that mental picture of what they look like? Our dentist was born to be a dentist. He just looked the part. A little disheveled, but not sloppy, a little nerdy, but not in a bad way. He could have never been a teacher, or mechanic...it just didn't fit him.
As campy as it sounds, he changed the way I clean my teeth by actually taking time to show me the right way to floss and brush. He did his own cleanings, x-rays, and of course whatever surgical procedure you needed. He was the first dentist who didn't just come in after the hygienist finished ripping out your gums and say, "Hmm, yep, ahem, well, we'll see you in 6 months Mr. Jacobs". His only assistant merely handed him some things and made you rinse that disgusting fluoride wash at the end of your session.
It's strange to write about someone I feel so close to, yet know nothing about. He was just one of those positive people who made differences in other people's lives. He was kind and extremely benevolent. I once heard a story that he married a lady from somewhere in South America, and then paid to have her immediate family sent to America so they could join the "American Dream" and not be separated.
Meghan and I would often joke about how long our dental appointments would last. Honestly, he'd take 90 minutes a piece cleaning your teeth, making you feel really bad you didn't floss correctly, and patiently review how to floss, brush, and do whatever you needed to to promote dental health. When I first started going to him, he started giving me discounts because I was a friend of Meghan (who had been going to him since she was a child). He understood I was a poor student without dental insurance. Later, when I had insurance, he still gave me courtesy discounts.
Funny enough, last summer we even snuck our dog into his office. I don't think he really knew we were going to do that, and I'm sure he wasn't psyched that his practice could get shut down if the health department found out. But his office assistant gave the green light and said, "Where is your wife?" I said, "Well, we brought our puppy and she's in the car keeping watch". "Oh, bring the dog, we'd love to see her, Dr. Orbach wont mind". The look on his face was priceless as our little Boston Terrier puppy came bounding past the waiting room door and started sniffing his crotch(I was at that moment having my gums ripped out). Of course we apologized and placed the dog in the empty waiting room. He just smiled and said, "She's a cute pup".
Meghan and I both work in a field where too many assholes live to see another day, beat another wife, and suck the life out of the taxpayers so they can keep living on welfare. And we see people just like our kind hearted dentist, die an untimely death. My farewell to Dr. Orbach is quite lonely for me, as most farewells often are. His death appropriately has me asking the question of why things happen the way they do to so many good people, and the not so good people get to keep living?
It's a faith shaking question, but the thoughts of everything good that he did, within his short window of life eases the unsteadiness of that question. To me, everyone is here to die but not everyone around us is here to make a positive difference. For whatever those positive differences are worth, what he did was worth quite a bit to me. And I guess I come to the epiphany that he wasn't on earth just to help people have better overall health through dental hygiene. He was here to make us all be better people, his craft was just the vessel he used to accomplish that feat.
Friday, May 8, 2009
I stand at the precipice of a dilemma, again. Manny Ramirez was being "Manny" again, this time, instead of whining about fake hurt knees and loafing on his team, he got caught using performance enhancing drugs. The benefit for me as a baseball fan is that at least he's not still playing for my beloved Red Sox.
If you all know me well, you know I am a ridiculous Red Sox nut. I love the "SAWX". And everyone always asks the same question, "Are you from Boston?" Nope, I am not. However, the Red Sox became my identity at age 20. You see, I had taken to leaving my hometown of Mt. Airy, NC, and exploring the rest of the world. That summer, I had booked a gig as a canoe instructor at a summer camp in New Hampshire. Coincidentally, my girlfriend (at that point in time) lived an hour away. Before she became totally crazy(one day I might tell the tales), she took to touring me around all of New England. And penultimately, the tour consisted of locking me into the lore of the Red Sox. She knew I was a hopeless romantic, and I guess she figured that since I was a sucker for lovable losers, I was a perfect candidate for the "Sawx".
I'll never forget that day, the park, the smells, the enthusiasm, every pore of that place oozed life, newness...a fresh start to a 20 year old with new ideas who just wanted to leave the repressing ideals of small-town America. It was like being reborn. The New Englanders adopted me at Fenway Park..."Oh a southerna who wants to cheer for the SAWX, you like to be miserable? Ok, have a beer and a Fenway Frank."
I was a welcomed stranger in a land I had been taught to fear all my life. "Those "NORTHERNERS"....THOSE "YANKEES" up there, they're so rude, they can't drive, you'll get shot if you look at them cross eyed". All my life, those were the quotes I heard from my "The South Shall Rise Again" compatriots of North Carolina.
On that day, and many days to come in the land of the "Northerners" I was adopted as the favorite son from the south. I was an honorary "New Englander". And I finally felt a place where I belonged. I could swear with ease, not trust anyone until I actually knew them, wear sear sucker suits, bowties, pastel shirts and pants, and say stuff like, "Wicked Good". I was looked at as intelligent for thinking forward, rather than just being a "fancy smart kid". Yeah, the Red Sox and New England became my identity.
And until 2004, the Red Sox kept losing with style. You see, they hadn't won the World Series since 1918. This was big, and I was a small cog in the Red Sox Nation wheel. There were old people hinging every last breath on living to see them win in their lifetime. Folks, this Red Sox thing was serious business. And countless times, the "SAWX" would get to the precipice, only to be knocked back down to base camp. They didn't just lose, they lost with style. Get your heart and soul into it, and they would gut you, stomp on your organs, burn them, and then feed them to birds of prey. Yet, again and again, the whole fan base would come back for another season.
In 2003, they broke my heart. Pedro was left in too long, Posada hit the game tying double, and Aaron "Bleeping" Boone hit the walk off in extra innings. However, I was back for '04. By then, I had adopted the same mentality as any New Englander/Red Sox fan. I was used to being miserable, never expecting anything to come of something that seemed good. "Yeah we're playing well May-July, just wait till the playoffs, they'll find another way to break our hearts again." In fact, it was my mantra for life..."Yeah life seems good, but I'll find some way to fuck it up when it counts."
And in 2004, everything changed. The greatest comeback EVER happened, we finally beat the "Evil Empire", and the curse was reversed when we swept the Cardinals. At the same time, I had met a girl named "Meghan" who later became my wife. Coincidentally, my attitude started to change. Things that were good could stay good, they didn't have to turn bad.
In 2007, when they won again, I was engaged, had bought a house, and was working at a successful job in Neurosurgery. My life had changed from dating fat psycho chicks and thinking I could do no better, to a guy who was a consistent winner. No longer was I waiting to fuck up, I was expecting to win.
When Manny was traded for Jason Bay last year, I asked my wife, "Do we have to change our cat's name to Jason Bay (Of course I named our cat Manny, and of course they won the series in 2007 when we adopted him)?" And now, tragedy has struck again, and I find myself thinking, "Do we need to change his name, or will our cat be associated with steroids and cheating?" On a broader level, do the recent championships count, or do they have the dreaded asterisk beside of their name?
More deeply, does this somehow give my life an asterisk? Did I really ever deserve everything good that happened to me? Quite seriously, you can correlate the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004, and Meghan and I first meeting and deciding to seriously date. In 2007 when they won again, I got an amazing job that boosted my self confidence to what it is today, oh yeah, and right around that time Meghan and I got married. Have you seen my t-shirt that says "My Wife is Hot"?...yeah, damn hot, I married the prom queen.
On the most personal of levels, I used to really like doubting and hating on myself. I loved to "almost" get to date the hottest girls, but then I would fail with the same style the Red Sox would, losing when the games counted most. I loved feeling sorry for myself, worrying about failing, failing, and then crying about it. Honestly, the early 20s of my life were the most inconsistent and stressful because I couldn't close the deal, and at the most opportune times I put myself in bad situations.
You can say what you want about Manny and whether these championships are now tainted by the dark cloud of steroids. But you can't put an asterisk on the positive changes in my life. Will I rename my cat? No, I can't, because to me, that places an asterisk on my life, that sends a message that says, "And I've changed to become a permanent winner, and now I'll go back to when life was less certain...when we hadn't won since 1918". Manny is Manny and will always be Manny. And Matty will always be Matty, it's just that ever since those Sox won, Matty did too.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
And so I went. We loaded up the dog, got dressed up in our pastel "Prep-tastic" Spring colors and made a day of it. And dagnabbit, it was fun! The whole party was really a lot of fun. Picture a bunch of 75-80ish year old really wealthy women (who have by now mostly outlived their husbands) sitting down for a formal luncheon. The event was fabulously done; elegant China (Grandma has about 300 place settings of priceless hand painted China, I've seen nothing like it), hand cut crystal, silver, and some really nice gourmet courses that my mother-in-law and wife put together. Seeing these old ladies start with Mary Ellen's signature vodka cocktail at noon was more than humorous.
The overall atmosphere was a really happy place for me. Watching the old timers get doted on by their children, grandchildren, and close friends was probably more of a reward to the hosts of this event than the guests. And although the event was all about Grandma and her entourage of "Golden Girls", it felt a lot like a date with my wife and me. Meghan was dressed to the nines, smokin hot, and I felt like were had just started dating again. I kept stealing glances while we prepped our dishes, bussed the tables, and washed the bone china, crystal, and tiffany glass that easilly tripled our salary.
And honestly, I was happy I said "Yes". After the party had ended, Mary Ellen said, "Matt, thanks for coming, I know you'd rather spend your day off in many other ways, but it was nice to have you". And I thought, "Sure, I guess I'd rather be having a nice selfish day doing what I want, but in hindsight, this is what I wanted to do. I may have griped about it, and I may be a terriffic Martyr, but I really enjoyed myself today."
Folks, I am terrific at whining, and I have been schooled well in the annals of Martyrdom. But there are a lot of times (and many more lately), when I have found that shutting up and doing is much more rewarding. Because, when it's said and done it was never as bad as that selfish ego made it seem. In fact, why is it that we bitch and whine so much, why is it that we all have the fault of being selfish?
For me, I find that being selfish and making excuses is better than trying and failing. Not that I was worried I'd fail at cooking for a bunch of old ladies, but more globally, I constantly battle fear of failing with a lot of things I end up investing in. For me, it is much easier to hide from events that, "Might not turn out to be a success" and use excuses of "I'm too busy".
This is no revelation, and I am certainly not the only one who experiences these emotions. However, I'm lucky to know who I know, and have wonderful inspirational people around me who challenge me to rise up and be that figurehead, and not a bumbling idiot too afraid to take a chance. Thus far, I'm 30, married to a really hot wife, becoming more and more successful at life and my job. So, "Thank You", to my wife, my friends, enemies, mentors, and any remote inspiration that makes me say "Yes". "Yes" is much more empowering than worrying about saying "No".
Friday, May 1, 2009
1) If you have had fun without them, you're already minus two when you get home. If you have had fun without them and come home late, you had better been saving some stray kittens, cooking at a homeless shelter, or something else Mother Theresa would do. Have a bad excuse, your score card looks like Tiger's...except you're not in the running to win anything but a night on the couch.
2) When they say yes, generally they mean no, or they have a caveat to the yes. However, they don't really let on to the caveat until you proceed with whatever they gave you permission to do.
Me, I had the civic duty of attending a bachelor party.
Next, when they say "yes", they really mean "no", except they aren't sure if they mean "no", but after you do what they say "yes " to, they wish they would have said "no". Therefore, you put yourself in the wrong.
And when you think you are really good at mind reading, you just get smacked down with the bludgeons of "Marriage Honesty". I'm still licking my wounds from last week.
While training for our honeymoon/wedding day photos/beach shots/six-pack abs we both lost a good amount of weight. Those beach pics were pretty sweet, and I was definitely ripped up and sexy. Even after the honeymoon we did well, trained for a half-marathon and kept those beach bodies for a few more months. However, as the cold weather set in, we started to sit more, exercise less, cook a lot of really rich food, and drink heaps of good wine. Needless to say, I put the 15 pounds I lost back on. Thankfully, I just lost a good 7 pounds in Colorado, but need to lose just a few more in order to get that bad ass body back. And as my own worst critic, I know I need to shed just a little bit more. However, during the weekend I always happen to place myself back up deNILE river, and I engage in cheeseburgers, beer, and fried goodness.
But I guess that will have to stop because the honesty police showed up at our house in the form of my wife as she said, "Yeah, you need to tighten up your abs some more, maybe Pilate's will help". Gunshot wound to the ego...ouch. We all know I'm not a fat guy, more or less I'm completely obsessed with my body, anything less than a 6-pack of abs, and I'm putting myself in the Morbidly Obese section. Suffice it to say, honesty is perhaps the best medicine, but damn it stings like the dickens. And I find it more prevalent the longer I stay married. I could bore you with more examples, but you married boys out there feel my pain.
Tomorrow, we head to Grandma Burton's house. My mother-in-law has decided to cater a lunch for Grandma and her 12 closest friends as an early Mother's Day present. The outsiders can only agree this is a very nice thing. I too think it is wonderful. However, Meghan has been mandated to "Help" at this event. This essentially means she will be preparing most of the food being that she is the gourmet. Since both of us are conveniently off of work, Meghan presented the situation as such, "Mom told me I have to go and help, I have no choice, but you don't have to come if you don't want to".
Stop!!! Hold it right there! To the buffoons who decide to heed that teaser statement, have fun. You will be sorry. Just like the statement, "Don't get anything big for my birthday, we are trying to save money". You might mean it when YOU say it, BUT they do NOT mean it. It is called lip service. You don't get anything nice for their birthday, you're done. You decide to stay at home and not help cook because you can't bear to stand the thought of wasting your day off with Grandma...good riddance, back to minus numbers.
Women are tricky, they cannot be figured out. It's like "Jedi Mind Tricks"...if you have an intuition and it reads, "I don't understand why she would say "yes" or "you don't have to if you don't want to"...do the opposite. If you somehow get in trouble doing the opposite thing, tell her you were just trying to make her happy. That generally suffices for the time being until you can figure out another method to crawl out from the busted up dog house.
Lastly, I find myself listening less and less. This is subconscious as I find myself an intelligent and thoughtful guy. However, I'm started to succumb to the disease I saw my father and grandfather go through. The disease of muttering "yes", and never knowing the words pursed my lips.
The other night we got sushi. Meghan said the following (note, I don't remember any of this), "I got napkins, chopsticks, and soy sauce, you bring the sushi"). And I muttered, "Yep".
As I moved from the kitchen to the living room table I said, "Did you get napkins, chopsticks, and soy sauce?"
My mother and grandmother and everyone else's mother call it selective listening. I just call it "Overload Protection". Face it, men aren't as smart. Their brains work in the process of one at a time thinking. We cannot multi-task. When we try to multi-task we generally screw things up or end up in the fetal positioning with our heads splitting from information overload. Although we are generally physically stronger we are mostly mentally handicapped when it comes to listening and processing what our wives tell us. Admitting your weakness is 99% of the battle. Try hard to listen, and when you fail just get that blank look on your face, shrug your shoulders and say, "You were right, sorry about that".
And those words are sometimes better than those three little words, "I love you". Heck, if you can master combining the two phrases together, you will be married to a happy wife, equaling a happy life for the eternity you promised.