Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The term “man-cave” has always bothered me. This quaint nick-name given to the space that is located, generally, in the cellar and serves as the primary residence for the man of the house has never seemed quaint to me.
Initially, I assumed that the man was relegated to the basement thus leaving the rest of the house which he is helping to pay for to the woman. She, reigning supreme in the upper world of air and light, would proceed to decorate the entire place from the ground floor to the attic, singularly in her own taste. Shouldn’t both partners have run of the house?  Is the man but a family pet not trusted to leave the upstairs carpets unsoiled? It used to be that nothing said “buddy, grow a pair” like a guy all hunkered down in his man-cave. Then I began to consider the possibility that the man happily escaped to the shelter of the basement, thus leaving the management of household to the woman. Relegated or escaping? This was a bit of a puzzle. That is until I heard the news that British men were generally granted nothing but a single drawer in a shared bedroom dresser. A dog crate is bigger. Men in Britain don’t even rate the space given to a dog? Can this be true? I shudder to think. Is this the final evolution of the man-cave? If so, then my little puzzle is most assuredly solved. No one escapes to a drawer.
Anyway, I bring this up because it occurred to me, in startling revelation, that I have a “man-closet”; less than a basement, but more than a drawer. Although as if from a dream I feel that I may have long, long ago shared an entire house, I do very distinctly recall, with great clarity, that I once had the entire main floor office as my own. Living was easy then. I was so young and naive. Robert’s rainforest had yet to invade and the great horde of “hey David, 70% off” Asian furnishings and oversized celadon pottery had yet to breach the entry. But these days are gone now. The gates have fallen and Robert’s rainforest grows within the bastion walls of my once uncluttered office. Oddly, working amidst the great swath of South Pacific decor and eco-system, the demise of my “man-room” hadn’t even occurred to me until I noticed something in the corner of my beautiful, soon to be overgrown Dutch mahogany desk.
It was a box of tissues. Huh? And the box of tissues was underneath a smart cube of textured blue faux-leather that was embossed with the gilded emblem of the Carleton Club, the quintessential gentleman’s club in London. What?
I have personally never purchased a box of tissues in my entire life, let alone concealed one inside a spiffy Kleenex-cozy. Anything tissues can do, toilet paper can do better. That’s my motto.
Immediately after the significance of this new presence on my desk sank in, I slowly peered out from behind my laptop and the tropical Far East rose before my eyes, ‘too silent to be real’. Lo and behold, I was in the heart of Middle Kingdom, but only really noticing it for the first time. It was too late, the room was lost and the desk was under siege. With great trepidation I looked back over my shoulder to the final stronghold of my “man-closet” that was still, by all appearances, intact. I will be purchasing a lock for it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thoughts on Flattery

I have been remiss in keeping up with my unsolicited advice for straight women on how to date like a gay man. So, what better day then ‘hump day’ to carry on with my quest to save the world – one date at a time...until 12.21.12 of course.
There is a great deal of similarity in how to find someone between the gay and straight worlds except for one crucial and significant difference, flattery. It’s also for giving. And it is an important difference because it is very effective way to be more attractive. According to the book ‘Are You Normal About Sex, Love, and Relationships?’, 51% percent of single people surveyed say that flattery is the best way to attract someone. If you want to stand out from the ‘debutant’ or ‘cougar’ or ‘sperm bandit’ or ‘simply a single gal’ herd you are going to have to practice this and practice it regularly.
Where women can’t seem to start, gay men can’t seem to stop. A man’s interest is quite evident. Any man that I have dated has given me more compliments in one evening than all of the women that I ever dated have uttered over the entire course of our relationship - combined. Okay, slight exaggeration, but only slight. Men have complimented me on such areas as my lips, chest and butt and, being honest, we all know that I wouldn’t hear that coming from a woman in a bazillion years. Caution: while complimenting physical traits is where you want to end up, it is not where you want to start. Read on.) Given all of this, you would understand why I believe the flattery vacuum is enough of a concern to warrant noting in this blog.
In case it is required here is a refresher on how flattery works (if you are a woman younger than 35 my observations and experiences suggest that in all likelihood you really, really need to review this):  The compliment must be said aloud. It must be said to the man to whom the compliment refers. It is not something awful that you trudge through begrudgingly once in your life and never need to worry about again. Gird your loins; to be truly effective your efforts should be ongoing.
When it comes to compliments remember TUDS:
  1. Think.
  2. Utter.
  3. Direct.
  4. Sustain.
In the broadest sense it works a lot like criticism or even nagging - which I’m not suggesting you dole out on an ongoing basis, I’m merely providing alternate frames of reference to behaviours that you may be well versed in – for whatever reason.
Do not overdo flattery initially. As with a fasting man being fed chocolate, the sudden sweetness could put his entire system into shock. Alright, seriously, too much flattery too soon can spook a man so pepper it very lightly into a conversation.
Avoid anything to do with his looks initially because that has a high probability of setting off alarm bells. Unless he is either incredibly stupid, an egomaniac or needy or a combination thereof (any of which might be your thing – I don’t judge) you will unintentionally rouse his suspicion because sober women just don’t do that. He will believe that you are either a hooker/gold digger or dangerously unhinged alla ‘Fatal Attraction’. Start by complimenting something he’s done. Sad, I know, but true. Such is the state of flattery in straight world.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This is no ballerina

A quick note - with floor space now going at a premium, Robert has taken the only next reasonable step, he has begun to decorate the ceiling. A mobile now resides above his desk. This progeny of a wanton tryst between a Chinese kite and a daddy long-legs spider remains ever en pointe in a slow and fluidic pirouette. But I’m not fooled, this is no ballerina. I remember all too well the truck load of Asian furniture that began with just one entry table.

Cagey in its silence, this thing is scoping out the place, biding its time until one day – blamo! - a stealthy hovering flock takes up permanent residence above the jungle of the thousand or so tropical plants that have now come to adorn our home. That’s right Mr. Mobile, if that’s what you really are, I’m on to you. And I know you’re watching me, watching you, watching me.  

However, this could all be a ruse on Robert’s part, as I have also noticed that rugs have somehow suddenly started popping up and flopping down like stray Shih Tzu's all over the once wonderful, pristinely bare, floors. Our decorating concept has clearly gone from ‘open’ to ‘encroach’.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Looking forward to 2011

I was going to do a “Living Robertly” year in review wrap- up, but then I took a gander back on the year that I would be reviewing and reconsidered. Rather, I’ve decided to jot down a few (three to be exact) looking forward notes.
1.       2011 will be the year of promoting my novel ‘Pairs’. My publicist is off to a bit of a shaky start, what with her placing it with various conservative Christian blog sites for review. Not that I have any issue with conservative Christians or their right to blog – it’s just that common sense would suggest that they might not be the most sympathetic audience for a book where the protagonist discovers her own bisexual inclinations and has a lesbian crush or where the third chapter is a post-coital scene between two men. The book is clearly not for everyone. And although I am prepared to receive criticism because of that, I’m not too keen on my publicist going out and pursuing it with conviction. Ever adaptive, she now believes that promoting to the gay & lesbian community is the way to go. Having been down this path with my first novel, I’m not so confident. My suspicion is that ‘Pairs’ won’t be gay enough. I may have written in a genre of one. If that turns out to be the case I will console myself with the knowledge that ‘Pairs’ is the best in its class.
2.       When Robert and I moved into our place in 2010 we had discussed the overall aesthetic that we were hoping to achieve. Knowing that I would be the one doing the cleaning, I opted for minimalism and Robert agreed…at the time. For a few joyous but all too fleeting months that is what we had. I could take a broom, sweep out the second floor, sweep the mess down the stairs, then into the kitchen and on through the rest of the main floor until finally whisking everything out the front door. I look back on those days fondly.  After achieving what I thought was the pinnacle of uncluttered comfort, Robert began his “cozy magpie’s den” campaign with the purchase of a rainforest load of plants. A jungle that, having started off in just two footholds on the main floor, has now spread far and wide. A large broad-leafed busybody with no sense of personal space now resides annoyingly behind the headboard of our bed. With the slightest excuse it clumsily brushes against my forehead and blocks my reading light while sneaking glimpses at any passage to which I happened to be opened. What’ch you got there? Hmm? What’ch you got? In 2011 I will try not to kill off any of them (with malice of forethought, anyway) in Robert’s absence. Particularly during this cold, soggy and all around miserable winter when he is away for an extended sojourn in warm and sunny Florida. Nope, not one.
3.       In 2010 I exchanged my doctor who told me that I needed to drop 5 more pounds for a doctor who has yet to tell me that I need to drop 5 more pounds. I feel that it is important to point out that my previous doctor was (and I assume continues to be) gay. Therefore, I am certain that the 5 pounds he suggested I lose was not to get me to my ideal heterosexual weight, but rather to get to my ideal gay weight – which, as everyone knows, is trimmer, more body conscious and vanity based. However, on the extreme outside chance that is not the case (i.e. it actually might be long term health related) - I plan on loosing 5 more pounds. It’s a clingy and gregarious group of pounds that has a propensity for merriment and inviting other pounds over. Nevertheless, I am determined. The plan for 2011 is fat eviction. Robert is so encouraging of this endeavor of mine that it practically feels like insistence.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Since the onset of winter here in Ottawa, Robert has nostalgically said from time to time that the snow and crisp temperatures remind him of his childhood in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. Truly, he has taken to the cold and blustery days with gleeful abandon - as anyone residing past the 49th parallel does ...... when they own property in Florida.
With Christmas and New Years now behind us, Robert has booked his flight and by mid-January will be on his way to the warm and sun-drenched jewel of the Gulf Coast that is Sarasota, FLA. His exact destination is Sun-N-Fun Resort where he had purchased what he refers to as his “cottage”, initially so that he would have a place to stay when he visited his sister there. 
However, with his sister’s passing a few years back he is reconsidering his address. Not the Sarasota part, because he loves the city, but rather the “cottage” part, which is actually a trailer.  I have no idea why, as I love the place and apparently so does the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds which awarded Sun-N-Fun “Mega Park of the Year” in 2008 and 2010. I’m not sure what happened in 2009. That was my first year there. The place looked fine to me. I enjoyed myself so much that I even went to Lowes and bought a bicycle, which I proceeded to fully kit up with a bell, a halogen light with a seizure inducing strobe feature (should I want to pull someone over, I suppose) and a wire basket that can be conveniently unfastened to serve me on my hypothetical jaunts to the market. I love my bike! I want to get a flag.
Sun-N-Fun’s website design also won some sort of prize – and it should. It is wonderfully misleading, in a lies-of-omission way. Make no mistake that Sun-N-Fun is an upmarket trailer park, as Robert likes to refer to it, on the outskirts of Sarasota. With the setting being an adorable mix of house proud trailer sprawl and “Truman Show” suburbs, it is not sophisticated. The poolside menu includes such refined delicacies as the impressive ‘belly-buster’ Polish hot dog. And this is the charm that the website completely glosses over, if not indeed entirely ignores. Though the website does purport that Sun-N-Fun hosts corporate retreats, weddings and family reunions, and I’m sure they do, one would have to suspect that the event planner would have a name like Bubba. Who’s kidding whom?
In spite of its appeal, Robert is looking to leave and currently has his eye on a cute house that is less than fifteen minutes walk to the impressive Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, the world-class Sarasota Ballet and the Sarasota Opera House, which he loves. The proximity to downtown certainly holds appeal for him – but the actual impetus to move is based more on hubris.
Bluntly, he is very hesitant and even more nervous, to invite any of his friends from either the Opera Society or Ballet Society to visit the Mega Park of the Year. Our Sun-N-Fun neighbour, after all, uses a snow shovel affixed with decal letters as his address signpost. And sitting in a lawn chair in the front yard drink’n is not an uncommon pastime. Simply, Robert is not sure that his society friends are ‘belly-buster’ people. I say invite them and find out, one never knows...