Q. Dear Mr Know It All,
I’m just a regular, good-looking guy who gets along well with women. I don’t know why, but women feel comfortable around me. This means that I’m friends with a lot of women at my workplace, who tend to have lunch with me, and trust me with their secrets. I’ve noticed that my male colleagues are a little put off by this — they’ve started keeping their distance from me, and exclude me from their lunches. How can I be part of the boys’ club and the girls’ club? Can’t I be a member of both?
Mr Nice Guy
A. Is it just me, or have I been sleep-emailing myself again? Seriously dude, I’m also a good-looking guy who the ladies seem to have a soft spot for, so I totally feel for you! Have to admit though that you’ve taken things a bit too far and I’m not surprised it’s beginning to take its toll on you. For starters you need to start thinking practically. You know you can’t have lunch with the girls and the guys at the same time if they’re not sitting on the same table, right? You also can’t spend all your time giggling and sharing secrets with your BFFs and then expect the guys to welcome you with chest-bumps to their hang outs. It just doesn’t work that way, especially if the guys start seeing you as one of the ‘others’, which I strongly suspect is the case here. Until you become a social force that’s strong enough to unite the two groups to form one big happy lunching family, you need to strike a balance. You’ve managed pretty well with the girls, but if you really want the membership card to the boys’ club, you’ll need to start spending more time with the men in your office. . . perhaps even sacrifice a few salad luncheons for some real steak and hamburger fests to get the ball rolling!
Q. Dear Mr Know It All,
I am going to be married in a month’s time. I’m looking forward to a relaxing honeymoon in Singapore and Thailand. Trouble is, my husband’s parents say they have relatives in Singapore and will ‘accompany’ us there so that they can also take a well-deserved vacation. I have a sinking suspicion that they will soon ‘discover’ relatives in Bangkok too. Nobody seems to have a problem with this arrangement. I need a male perspective — Is it just me, or is my husband’s parents’ presence on my honeymoon deeply disturbing?
Too close for comfort
A. First of all, you have to stop calling it ‘my’ honeymoon — try involving your fiancé in all the madness as well, he might prove to be a wee bit useful. And secondly, you’re not the only one creeped out by the idea of family tagging along on a honeymoon, so relax. It’s an unfortunate thing to happen and a worry you could’ve done without so close to the big day. This isn’t the first time it’s happening, though. The concept of a private time for the newlyweds is somewhat lost on people in our culture, even more so if they were born in times of large joint-family homes and open-sky slumber parties in the enormous courtyard. There are countless, and perhaps more frightening, honeymoon horror stories to take comfort from. What you can do for starters is tweak your itinerary a bit so that you and your husband get a few unaided days in Bangkok before you join the parents in Thailand, where you can spend time together, but don’t necessarily have to tail each other all the time. And then, if you lovebirds still haven’t had enough of each other by time they’re ready to fly back home, casually tell them you’ll be staying back a couple more days to fully avail the mister’s work leave.
There really isn’t a problem in this big bad world that can’t be solved with an open mind and a little conviction. Open minds, I don’t know, but conviction, I’m sure there’s plenty of in your case!
Q. Dear Mr Know It All,
I’m going out with this really cute girl for the first time. She’s one of those empowered-feminist types — she has a high powered career, can’t stand controlling men and probably earns more than I do. When the bill arrives, what should I do? Pay for both of us, or let her split it with me? Will she insist on paying?
Broke in love
A. You, my friend, have hit the jackpot! Seriously, have you any idea just how rare cute feminists are? So if you’re lucky enough to have found one, make sure you do everything in your power to keep her interested for as long as humanly possible. This shouldn’t be very hard if you follow my three simple rules for dealing with her kind: One, pack your two spheres of male excellence off for a vacation when she’s around; two, never compliment her womanly traits and three, always agree with what she says, no matter how dumb you think she’s being…which includes letting her take the lead when she’s being adamant about paying the bill. You need to remember however that she might wear suits to work, but that doesn’t mean she has to wear the pants in your relationship. Some women, no matter how rich or empowered, will easily write you off as cheap and ungentlemanly if you don’t offer to pay the bill instantly. Thanks to feminists, the line between being chivalrous and condescending is becoming fuzzier by the day, so it’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, really, and you can only depend on your good instinct and credit limit just-in-case for a smooth ending to your night out.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 15th, 2011.
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