The Hard Way

The suspect chooses between doing things the hard way and doing things the easy way, and the scene ends with either gunfire or the gentlemanly application of handcuffs You're sometimes led to believe that this person is actually relieved, but I've never bought it. Though it probably has its moments, the average day spent in hiding is bound to beat the average day spent in prison. When it comes time to decide who gets the bottom bunk, I think anyone would agree that there's a lot to be said for doing things the hard way.

-David Sedaris

Y'know that saying about "be careful what you wish for you will surely get it?"

What does that mean anyway?

See, if I go to the trouble of wanting something, I usually try to pause (at least for a moment) and be grateful when I actually get it.

Take this weekend, for example.

And that sound you just heard was the collective collapse of every guy I so much as ran into this weekend as they hit their knees in prayer, offering up the supplication, "Please GOD, don't let her be writing about me."

As one acquaintance pointed out to some of my friends at a party last week, "watch what you say, your life is an open book."

I told him I didn't think he'd suffered too badly so far.

(Last week, for example, he got described as "impressive," and who's going to take offense at that? Sure, I was using sushi similes, and yes, I said "octopus" when maybe "eel" would've been more appropriate. And ok, in fairness, I didn't exactly call him impressive, it was more of a simple anatomical acknowledgement - but still, that's hardly the kind of thing anyone would think of as mean-spirited. And it's not like you could pick him out of a lineup based on that characterization. Not as long as he keeps his clothes on anyway. If his current career collapses, at least he has a promising future in adult films. So what.)

I'm not guilty of any sexual McCarthyism, because I never name names.

In fact, I really take pains NOT to invade anyone's privacy.

Like with one guy I know (who does have a reasonably sensitive job - but one that lends itself to reallllly good stories), I've told him he just has to tell me when something is Off the Record - because that's a seal I'd never violate. His argument is that everything should be assumed to be off the record, unless he tells me otherwise. My response is that everything is for public consumption, unless he tells me it isn't. He's also learned to clarify distinctions for me - like the fact that there are stories I can tell, I just can't write them. That's fair.

I make all kinds of exceptions, for all kinds of reasons (especially if I'm asked to).

This weekend, however, was not one of those times.

When finally, I got a glimpse of HibbityDibbityVille.

For once, I cruised right past Friendship Boulevard. I waved jauntily to the bored onlookers over in Marriageopolis.

It was great, which is not to be confused with "easy."

The path was long and hard. There were many obstacles in my way.

I had to draw on every resource I'd ever gleaned from 12 years of Catholic school. Overcoming Reservations and Objections, Prom Night 101:

"We can stop anytime you feel uncomfortable."

"Nothing has to happen that you don't want to happen."

Fortunately, I stopped long before I got to, "We can do this the hard way or the easy way."

Or, "Stop crying. You're ruining it for me." Because those are lines that can, deservedly, get you arrested.

The truth is, I'm rusty. There was a time when I was comfortable and confident in this arena, but not anymore. It's not at all like riding a bike.

OK, maybe it's a little like riding a bike, but my point is, you can lose all kinds of skills if you don't use them.

Can I talk now? Can I talk yet? Should I just shut up?

What passes for acceptable conversation? "Looks like rain?"

I could - in some strange way - hear the voice of our sports columnist in my head, "let's hear some chatter out there!!"

But that didn't seem right either.

And I guess not everybody appreciates a well-timed one-liner. I remember thinking at one point, "Man, this is a tough room."

Also, "what am I supposed to do with my hands during this part? Should I crochet? Do I remember how? Is it still knit one, pearl one?"

Sometimes, it felt like I'd showed up for a test, and forgotten to take the class.

Then there's always the Aftermath that follows the afterglow. I didn't know how to deal with it at 25, and I'm not any better at it at 35. (I mean, 36.)

I guess it's the endorphins that make me want to be kind and reassuring and sometimes even (dare I admit this?) warm. But those tendencies are always impeded by my steadfast horror that someone will confuse me with "That Girl."

You all know "That Girl."

The one who brings a U-Haul on the second date. The one who's always writing out the guy's last name with a "Mrs." in front of it, just to, you know, try it out.

The thing is, I like the weather fine in HibbityDibbityVille.

It's a perfectly great place to hang out for an indefinite period until somebody gets their first chance to better-deal you.

All I got was a day-pass though. Not citizenship. Not even a passport.