The kids are all right

Get home and take care of them kids before they rob me in ten years. You gotta get your kid on, or your groove on. You can't get both on at the same time. I got a little cousin got left back in the first grade. You know how dumb you got to be to get left back in the first grade. That's the mama's fault. I'm tellin' my cousin, 'Teach him somethin'. If you said more words to him than 'Mommy be back,' he might know somethin.' -Chris Rock

got an email from one of my favorite former interns the other day. He's out west now. He concluded by asking, "So how's Mr. Impressive?"

I had to think back...

Let's see...he was followed by Professor Impressive for a while, and most recently, Dr. Impressive.

I made a half-hearted new year's resolution (since abandoned) to communicate better with people close to me, and as it turns out, my initial instincts to clam up were well-founded.

For example, when somebody says they love you (or even that they think they might), the appropriate response is not that you really love...their Viking stove and subzero refrigerator.

Even if it's true, nobody wants to hear it.

And when you exchange somebody's completely thoughtless Valentine gifts for something more deep and meaningful (in this case: store credit), you probably should not bring them with you into the store.

A little honesty goes a long way.

Frankly, I blame Danny for all my recent screwups. Some interns write, some proofread, some design-and some manage my personal life. It's a volunteer gig (comes with flow charts, colored pins, and a map). Danny was the latter, for the better part of one semester. (And I did not sign off on that gold thong he insisted on wearing whenever he was "on assignment.")

I was really only with one person during that particular semester, but saw no need to discontinue volume dating on his account. Purely in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I'd misguidedly tried to raise the discussion once (early on, in a Small Talk), but he misinterpreted me so thoroughly-quickly and defensively launching into an Anti-Commitment speech-that I shut my mouth and never opened it again for the duration of the relationship (at least for the purposes of conversation).

I was so horrified at being unfairly mistaken for That Girl (the one with the 5-year subscription to Brides Magazine) that I was practically rendered mute for about six months. Obviously, I had some work to do in the area of clarity.

So, this year, as I was telling Danny, I'm sticking to one at a time.

In each case, I just explained up front -real slooow-that exclusivity does not (necesssarily) equal commitment. It's just an indication of a willingness to hang out indefinitely (but with no other members of the opposite least not any who are naked), and see what happens.

Knowing my feelings in this area, one of my college classmates called me last week to invite me over to dinner with his wife, their teenage kids, and a divorced friend of theirs.

I hate fixups, but tried to keep an open mind. He looked good on paper (PhD, only one kid, joint custody, housing in a zip code inside New Circle Road). Then my buddy paused, before launching into the disclaimer...

"The thing is," he stammered (and here I was anticipating, maybe, a great personality, but I should be prepared to look past the large goiter) "this is a guy who wants to get married..."

" me?" I asked, more than a little confused.

"Nooo," was my friend's response, "just in general...He wants more kids too. But don't worry, I told him you'd ruled all that out."

Three people. All planning my future. One of whom had never met me. I find that disconcerting. On so many levels.

Technically, I haven't ruled out anything (at least surgically). I just don't seek it out. Marriage doesn't make sense to me as an abstract "goal," any more than kids do.

Both can follow logically if you happen across the right person at the right time (or the wrong person, at the right time).

I'm always asked when did I stop hating kids. That's inaccurate. Children aren't an abstract, to love or hate. As with adults, some are great (like the savagely sarcastic four year-old fashionista, Lucy). Some others are obnoxious, poorly-behaved dullards. Some have traditional two-parent families. Some have single parents. Some have four.

Where I put my foot down is my unbudging reluctance to enter the life of a child capriciously, because I think it's irresponsible. Adults are fair game. Kids deserve the benefit of our better judgment. And judgment takes time. (Hell, my dogs know that.)

I just went through this with one of the divorced wingmen, Spike, who lives in Austin. He'd called me up, beside himself, at having met The One. Technically, I think she would be The Two, because he divorced the first "ONE," about three years ago.

(She likes music. If you can imagine. She reads books. Really? Whole ones? Renaissance woman!)

It lasted about a week.

That's the point of "intimacy" at which she felt it was appropriate to introduce him into the life of her (impressionable and clearly confused) 10-year-old daughter, her parents, all her siblings, and their respective spouses. By Week Two, she'd shared all the joint plans she'd devised for Spike and her for the rest of the summer, the fall (including Halloween costume planning and potential menus for Thanksgiving), along with Christmas, and accompanying travel and custody arrangements. This was not a "let's see where it goes" kinda gal.

He was smart enough to retreat with no advice from me. But what I really wanted to say was, I think there was a Glenn Close movie about this. And you'd better not let this middle-aged-crazy around any bunnies, because it sounds like she doesn't like to be ignored.