The Vine: August 19, 2004
I know that you are a cat-lover like so many of us. I'm hoping I'm not asking you a question that you haven't already answered a million times. I had a beautiful, wonderful, affectionate cat for fourteen years. She had been my companion from the time I was three years old. Recently, she became suddenly and gravely ill. We tried to do what we could for her, but the veterinarians explained that she was beyond our human help. Unfortunately, she passed on.
Now, a bit of time has elapsed since that point. I still spontaneously cry when I think about her. She used to sit on my lap when I checked my email, and she liked to watch Queer Eye and Law and Order with us. It has become hard for me to get through these simple tasks without tears.
My parents are very sympathetic, especially my mother. Still, many people (and sometimes even I) question whether my intense emotions are strange. Because she was an indoor cat, everything in our house reminds me of her. I miss her so much and I feel sad when I come home after class because she is no longer there to run up and play (she interacted with me quite a bit for a cat).
I am not sure what to do in order to escape these feelings. I have considered colleges that are far away from my home just to avoid coming back during vacations. My mother and I talked about getting another cat, but decided against it because no cat could ever take her place and soon I will be leaving and unable to take care of it in any case.
I suppose this sounds dreary and maybe a little silly, but I just don't know what to do. I loved my cat and am very sad that she's gone, and I wonder if I'll ever be able to move on.
Please, suggest and advise.
Missing My Meow-er
How does the Girl Scout song go? "Make new friends, but keep the old / One is silver and the other gold"? I think that's it. Anyway: You can't replace old friends; you can't substitute a new pet for one who died. But a new pet might help you to move on — to remember what's good and fun about that companionship, and to distract you from missing the cat that passed away. Plenty of wonderful cats (and dogs, and rabbits, and so on) need loving homes, and you could sort of pay tribute to your cat's memory by giving another cat the kind of affection and care you gave to her.
But even if you decide not to do that, it'll pass. It's grief, and I think sometimes it's harder when an animal passes away, because you never get any verbal confirmation that they know how much they meant to you — but it'll pass. You miss your friend, but that will get easier in time.
I don't know if this is a Vine question exactly, or me trying to inspire a ranting essay on your part, but I was wondering how you felt about dress codes and the way kids (mostly girls) dress these days.
The local high school in my town just updated its dress code to this: Gone are clothes that bare the midriff. Also out are spaghetti-strap tops, low-cut necklines and other revealing tops, tube tops, halters, and sagging pants or any display of underclothes. Skirts, dresses and shorts must be long enough to go beyond the students' fingertips when their arms are at their side. Also clothing that: depicts violence or the use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal substances, could damage school property or be used as a weapon, such as chains, that could be associated with gangs, eyewear that distorts the pupils, sunglasses and hoods.
Local kids are getting all upset about it, replying with things like "Teachers said that students were showing 'way too much skin.' Too much skin for whom? You don't have to wear it, so you shouldn't judge it," and "Seriously, what's next? School uniforms and security checks at every entrance? I don't see the distraction in wearing spaghetti-strap tank tops or sagging jeans…" I agree that some of the new rules are a little much (no hoods? come on!), but I don't see why students feel they should be able to dress like they're going clubbing at school. So, I was wondering what you think about all this.
A HUGE fan,
My high school threw out the dress code when I was a freshman. Prior to that, it was, like, six pages' worth of instructions in the handbook, but then they updated it to "no pajamas, no military garb, no underwear worn on the outside, nothing torn." And we all started dressing better. More neatly. Once we could wear more or less what we wanted, we didn't spend nearly as much time trying to get around the code, so we just put on whatever and went to school.
Pretty crafty move on the administration's part — but on the other hand, I went to high school in the era of giant sweaters over turtlenecks, borrowing your dad's button-downs, two pairs of socks in two different colors, et cetera. We wore everything big and baggy, and while some present-day dress code restrictions make me roll my eyes ("no advertising"? Yeah, good luck with that), teenage girls dress a lot shorter and tighter than we did back in the late eighties. We would never have worn skin-tight tank tops to school, but it wasn't the style then.
Now that it's the style, I don't know. I have nothing official to back this up, but it's my sense, and my recollection, that kids understand that how they dress sends a message — that they're cool, that they're into this thing or that, that they're grown up enough to whatever. But I don't think they always think that message through all the way. The average twelve-year-old puts on a tank top and a mini and her kitten-heel flip-flops, and she's like, "I look like one of the big girls, awesome" — which, fine, we all did that, we all wanted to grow up faster. But the thing is, she isn't a big girl. A mini does not imply intent, necessarily, but the first few times I wore one, on the one hand I was like, "Wow, my legs have this power," and on the other hand I was like, "I have no idea how to control this power."
I don't mean that dressing skimpy makes anyone a tramp, or is a slippery slope, or any of that asking-for-it bushwa, but strictly speaking, school is the workplace for kids, and if it's not appropriate for adults to wear in the workplace — and in most workplaces, you're not getting away with a strappy top or a micro-mini, because it's considered unprofessional — it's not appropriate for kids to wear to school.
It's a very complicated question which I could argue both sides of all day, but I'll leave it here for now.
I had a male friend with whom I shared a mutual attraction, but due to his commitment phobia we never ended up dating. We were really close until he moved across the country to my hometown with my cousin, but then he became miserable and begged me to rescue him and let him stay in my house. I was a little cautious about the idea, since I did have feelings for him, but his situation sounded bad enough that I decided I had to help him.
He was jobless and car-less when he moved in with me, so I had to support him. I kept encouraging him to go find a job, but he didn't want to take any of the jobs open at the time. During all of this he kept talking — without my invitation — about how he'd stay with me for the next two years until I finished my bachelor's and then move with me when I went away to grad school and possibly even follow me to Europe after that. He repeatedly went out with mutual friends without ever once inviting me, which just added insult to injury. After almost a week of him being here I told him how I was feeling a bit used and unappreciated. It seemed like things were improving until one unfortunate morning a few days later.
It was nine o'clock and I was about to go to work, but he wasn't up yet. His bedroom door wasn't shut, so I pushed it the rest of the way open to tell him he should get up if he wanted to use the car. I guess he'd thought the door was shut all of the way, because he'd been masturbating. I acted like it was no big deal and figured it should be shrugged off. I fired off a few giggling instant messages to my best friend about it before work and pretty much forgot the incident for the rest of the day.
When I came home there was a nasty note from him on my keyboard — which is in my bedroom — saying that he'd read my IM conversation, he was moving out, and he didn't want me to try contacting him. Most of his things were gone. I heard from my cousin that he claimed I was being creepy and watching him too closely. I'm willing to admit that I was a grouchy roommate and should have knocked and that the IM conversation was probably poor judgment, but I don't appreciate being made out to be some sort of stalker by a man who moved two thousand miles to leech off of me. Now, I'm stuck with the things he forgot here, as well as all of the boxes of his stuff that are being shipped here.
I have no idea what to do now. Do I try to apologize? Start dropping boxes off at some neutral place? Do I try to defend myself to my cousin and our mutual friends? Do I just respect his privacy and let people think I went Fatal Attraction on him? One thing that's clear is that I do NOT want him moving back here.
Trapped in Bizarro Land
He read your IM conversation — after treating you like you ran a hotel — and you want to apologize? Um, no. Get in touch with him and ask in a business-like manner what he wants done with his stuff; make it clear that it cannot stay with you, nor can he from now on. Arrange to get the stuff to him, at your own expense if necessary, and wash your hands of this cretin.
If any mutual acquaintances mention the "watching him too closely" thing, say simply, "That's not what happened," and change the subject. Don't complain; don't explain. Excise him from your life and be grateful his true colors showed when they did. Dude's an asshole. Pack his shit up and move on.
I believe you probably have a good bit of TV knowledge from doing TWoP (which I love), so hence this question.
Last night, TBS was showing Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I caught the scene where Ferris says, "Pardon my French. But Cameron is so tight that if you stick a lump of coal up his ass, you'll get a diamond." That's not an exact quote, of course, but TBS did something interesting. Instead of ass, they had Ferris saying "fist," which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If Ferris says "ass," we get that Cameron is incredibly uptight, which he is. If Ferris says "fist," then it sounds like Cameron has superhuman arm strength, which is ridiculous.
If TBS doesn't like the word "ass," why not just bleep it or something rather than make it sound stupid? This happens all the time on some networks, sometimes with very funny results, but why do networks do this?
I have no idea. It's dumb, I agree. I guess bleeping draws attention to it, and just muting it…well, we can all read lips, so maybe this is the best compromise. I wish they'd just leave the dialogue alone and let parents deal with whether they allow their kids to watch movies with "language," but that's not the world we live in.
Worst example of this: The scene in Breakfast Club where Bender is ranting about his father, and TBS dubs it to "What about you, Dad? FLIP YOU!" Oh, good one. Had me fooled. Not.
Dear Sars –
I'm looking for some good, cut and dried advice for a kind of messy situation. I'm a 29-year-old lesbian (well, mostly) who's been dating a bisexual woman for almost nine months. I'm fully out to my family and friends, and had previously been in a four-year relationship with a woman (who is also 29), so I'm very comfortable with my sexuality and with the prospect of settling down with a woman in the long term. This is the first major same-sex relationship for my girlfriend, though she casually dated a few women in college. She has had two major long-term relationships with men, the most recent lasting five years. This relationship ended a year before we met, and she casually dated during that period (I think she might have gone on a few dates with a woman other than me, but other than that, all men).
We met online, and though I knew she was bi (her profile said she was looking for men), she told me that she liked women just as much, so it wasn't much of an issue for me. However, after a few months together, as my feelings for her started to grow, I began to have some doubts and insecurities about her sexuality — specifically, whether she could really see herself being in a long-term relationship with a woman. When I brought this up, she admitted that she asked herself these questions too, but that even though she knew it was more difficult in many ways, it was something that she was open to. She was immediately very open about our relationship with her friends and has always been very comfortable being affectionate and couple-y in public. The relationship progressed, we fell in love, and overall we are really happy together — we are kind, caring, and loving to each other, have great chemistry, have so much fun together, and very rarely get into any type of argument (when we do, it's usually about silly stuff).
However, every so often, I am wracked with a bout of insecurity and fear that ultimately she is going to decide that she would rather be in a traditional, straight relationship, whether because of the extra societal pressures of being in a same-sex relationship, or just because she realizes that she likes boys more. We're both at the age where finding someone to settle down with is on our radar, so the issue of whether she would ultimately be willing to have a woman as a life partner is on our minds much more than it would have been in our early twenties. This issue came to the forefront recently due to her family's complete lack of support for our relationship.
She told her mom and her brother that we were dating relatively early on (she did not tell her dad), and her mom has been awful about it. Her mother has apparently said some really hurtful things (I don't know all of the specifics), and also did a lot of "What will your father think about this? What are you going to tell your grandparents?" She also asked a lot of very personal, prying questions. My girlfriend has a really complicated relationship with her mom anyway — she sounds really bitter and kind of mean, and has a history of making my girlfriend feel bad about herself. During a particularly nasty conversation about a month ago, my girlfriend ended up telling her mother that we weren't dating anymore to get her mother off of her back. Her mother told her brother, so now her brother also thinks we're no longer dating (while he hasn't been awful about it, he hasn't been particularly supportive either).
My girlfriend only told me this recently, and the revelation led to a bigger conversation during which I told her that I wondered whether, at some point, the extra struggles of being in a same-sex relationship would not be worth it to her, and she would decide that she ultimately wanted to be with a man. She said that she has thought about this a lot as well, because her family does mean a lot to her (and they all live within a 20-minute radius) and that it's hard for her that she can't be open with them. She is in love with me, and loves being with me, but she's not sure if she can see herself ending up with a woman or not — in fact, since the whole thing with her family she is a bit LESS open to the idea than she was when we started dating. She's also still attracted to men. Ultimately, she worries that she might hurt me somewhere down the road if she discovers that a traditional relationship is what she really wants.
And, of course, I'm worried about that too. I'm torn, because part of me has legitimate fears that this is only going to end badly, in a way that is really painful for me. But then another part of me thinks that maybe it's just a part of the growing pains of being in a same-sex relationship and coming out. This is, after all, the first time she's really had to deal with these kinds of issues, and I know that it took me YEARS to feel comfortable with my own sexuality and to come out to my family. I don't want to give up on a relationship that makes me happy in so many ways because of a decision that she might or might not make at some unspecified point in the future. Plus, I really love her. But then again, I don't want to set myself up for heartbreak if, in fact, it's clear that the axe is eventually going to fall.
So what do I do?
Okay. The issue here, to my mind, is not so much that she's bi. Yeah, she could decide that she wants to ditch you for a man. But she might decide to…ditch you for another woman. Or she might fall out of love with you with nobody else even in the picture. Or she might get hit by a garbage truck. Do you see what I mean? I think her bisexuality makes it a more conscious concern for you, but you do have to decide to trust her (or not), and if she does something down the road to break that trust, well, then she'll suck, but you can't spend too much time bracing for something that might never happen.
On the other hand…something did happen. She denied you to her family. It's good of you to empathize with the situation surrounding that, and I see your point, but when the going got hard, she threw you under the train, and you need to make it clear to her that that's unacceptable, because it is. It hurt your feelings, it made you doubt the relationship, and she knew full well it was bullshit because she didn't tell you about it when it happened. She needs to be called on that. Again, I hear you that it's the first time she's had to deal with these issues, but when it came down to it, she didn't deal. She ducked. No good.
Maybe you're afraid to speak plainly to her about these things, because you're afraid it'll tip the scales against you — that if you make it too hard for her to Be A Lesbian, she'll give up on it and go back to men. And, you know, she might. It happens. But I think you'd better put it all out there, right now, if you haven't already — everything you told me in your letter plus a few upside-the-heads for negging you to her mom — because you don't make it hard for her. You make it easy for her, because you love her. You support her. You bring her to your family and say, "This is my girlfriend." And if she can't do that last thing for you just yet, okay, but she's got to do better than she's done so far. She's got to be sensitive to your situation, too, and to how her ambivalence makes you feel.
Maybe she's just not there and it's bad timing, but don't be afraid to insist that she own up to you, because she should.
Tags: boys (and girls) cats etiquette kids popcult sex