Dear Abby?

Every generation thinks they invented oral sex.

-Michael Stipe

It's official. I'm middle-aged.

I got home late from work last night, and my new neighbors were hanging out on their front porch.

I waved in their general direction - as I usually do. That's about as friendly a gesture as I've ever mustered with incoming neighbors since that time the crack whores moved in several years ago.

I'm not openly rude, but I don't go over with homemade cookies and introduce myself the way I used to. (I must've picked that idea up from television, because nobody in my family ever did that while I was growing up.)


The new guy walked over to his porch rail, as I fumbled for my keys, and asked, "Are you Rhonda Reeves?"

I was tempted to answer (and not for the first time in my life), "No," - because I figured this probably couldn't be headed anywhere good.

When I reluctantly admitted my identity, his response was, "Ohhhhhh, I think I read one of your stories today."

Well, I've written a lot of stories, so I asked for clarification.

"Something about love I think," was his response. "Kinda like, you know, Dear Abby"

Dear Abby????

I don't think he meant to be insulting, but as a 35-year-old blonde shiksa, I was hard-pressed to find the relevance of his comparison.

And love?

As I recall, last week's column was largely devoted to the importance of a good bikini wax and oral sex - topics about which Abby and Ann have been noticeably (and blessedly) silent, I do believe.

Besides, I really try to be conservative with my advice - because my own personal life is, believe me, nothing to write home about.

Nonetheless, my wingmen (for some reason) constantly look to me for love, support, and reassurance. And I try to help as best I can.

But I always point out the disclaimer that I am wrestling at least TEN YEARS outside their age-class, which makes any insight I might offer instantly suspect.

The problems I have to deal with in relationships are NOT the same ones they face - though I do have some dim memory of those early-morning walks, in search of my car, they are long ago and far away.

In fact, the last time I had to walk through the Park at dawn to find my car at a nearby music establishment (about a decade ago), I realized that I had outgrown such behavior when I had to pause by the swingset to throw up. It wouldn't have been so bad, except a nearby preschool was leading a troop of kids through the park on a trot-line, and their teacher was quietly and tersely instructing them to avert their eyes from the poor homeless lady. I think my response was something like, "but I'm your neeeeeeighbor...I live on this street," as the children were shoo'd away, quickly and efficiently.

That's just not my life these days. I always know where my car is. I never need cab fare. And I never end up at ANYBODY's house where I have to scan their desk for mail so I can remember their first name. (Not since college.)

My idea of foreplay, at 35, is a guy who kills bugs and gets things off high shelves for me.

The most perplexing problem I've faced in the last year was trying to figure out - in a few circumstances - if I was going to live in NekkidLand or if I was going to add yet another damn friend to what is already a full roster. (Though they are NOT a blessing I take for granted, I'm not made of WOOD people. I can't be everybody's sister. And I don't mean that in an eastern Kentucky/stereotypical/appalachian kinda way.)

Even the guy I spend most of my free time with now gave me pause when we were a good three, maybe four dates in without so much as a chaste kiss goodnight.

I'd come in to the office every morning, grouching around like a bear with a sore head: "DAMMIT!!!! FriendshipLand AGAIN??!!! This is NOT MY STOP!!!!!!" Where the HELL is the bus for HibbityDibbityVille?!!"

I was just gunshy because of the rejection I'd been through last spring. I handled it very badly, because I am nothing if not a sore loser.

Hop Sing finally sat me down last week and gave me a lecture about how anomalous that situation was, and how I was going to screw things up with the guy they all really like if I didn't stop projecting last spring's imbroglios onto him. (And when I say they really like him, I mean that, given half a chance, they would perch on his lap every time he stops by the office, gaze up at him adoringly, and ask, "are you our new daddy?" - if they hadn't been expressly instructed, by me, NOT to. I think they frighten him, but he hides it well.)

After a careful review of quantum physics and the laws of probability, Hop Sing finally cajoled me with the suggestion that, "Look, that Other Guy was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. There's more chance that Sputnik will land on you. That lightning will strike you. And that you will win the lottery. than there is that you will EVER again run across a guy who tells you 'take that outta your mouth.'"

"At least a straight guy," he added.