Category Archives: Relationships

Another reason to be happy…

…I’m a guy.

Showers.

Of course, I’m not talking about the kind where you stand under streaming water to get clean. I’m all in favor of those. I’m talking about bridal showers, baby showers, and any other kind of showers that are little more than shake-downs, cleverly disguised as social events.

Mrs. Poolman and I were looking over our calendars for the next month or two to see what is coming up. Mrs. P noted that on one weekend later this month, she has a baby shower on one day and a bridal shower on the other.  I am SO glad neither of the hostesses was crazy enough to declare one of the events a “couples shower.” I hope I don’t give anyone an idea.

I understand the concept behind the showers. In theory, a group of the bride’s/new mother’s friends get together to “shower” the recipient with gifts to help them get started with their new married life or parenthood. Great idea. Keep it to the friends and immediate family who really want to help, and I’m all for it. What happens however, in an effort to increase the mass of presents, the guest lists extends out another generation to include the friends-of-family, etc. Attached to that invitation is an implied social obligation to pony up a gift and attend, whether you want to or not. Saying “no” is not an option. (“You know, when our daughter gets/got married…”)

In the case of the upcoming bridal shower, Mrs. P was invited because the groom’s mother is a long-time co-worker. I’m not sure Mrs. P would recognize the bride if she bit her on the leg.

The family organizing the baby shower doubled down on the misery. It seems the honoree and her sister had the poor timing to get knocked up with their first child within a few days of each other. (Must have been a heck of a weekend!) So the family decided to have a double baby shower.

That is an insidious little trick. At face value, it looks like a great idea. The more the merrier, right? But think about it for a moment. While family members obviously have connections to both mothers-to-be, many of the friends may be close (or maybe not really even that close) to only one of the guests of honor. Even so, they are now arm-twisted by a social obligation to purchase gifts for both of them.  (“The shower is for both sisters. I CANNOT show up with only one present.”) Nice trick.

I had an idea for Mrs. P to reduce her invitations to future showers, at least the bridal showers anyway. One of her good friend’s, daughter’s, partner (It’s complicated, sorry.) manages a sex-toy shop. I suggested she shop there for the bridal shower gift — the larger and more inappropriate, the better.

Her gift would certainly be remembered, and maybe even appreciated. You certainly can’t say the same thing about that off-brand chafing dish, or a cutting board. Plus, the word would get out and she would probably receive significantly fewer invitations to future showers.

Two birds with one stone.

Although Mrs. P laughed at my idea, she rejected it quickly. (In her defense, I think she really enjoys these girl-parties. These opinions are my own.)

“I can’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“Showers – they are part of the girl code.”

And that’s one more reason…

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Hello? Anybody there?

In an earlier post, I discussed some of the differences between men and women. The other day at work several of us were talking about another significant one – the way we use the telephone. With Mrs. Poolman and me, there is a very clear difference in how different we view things.

Some examples:

I will answer any call, but I feel absolutely no obligation to have a lengthy conversation with who is calling.

“OK, I’ll be happy to pick you up in the morning. But I’m a little busy right now, so I need to go. See ya later.”

Boom! It’s over. That’s it. And if it’s a guy on the other end of the call, no offense is taken.

Mrs. P, on the other hand, will not answer her phone unless her called ID shows its someone with whom she wants to spend at least a half hour talking. The person calling may just have a simple question, but they won’t have the chance to ask if Mrs. P doesn’t have at least 30 minutes of free time on her hands. The same goes for outgoing calls.

“So why don’t you call Karen and ask her what time we should pick them up tomorrow?”

“No. I really don’t want to take the time right now to listen to her tell me everything she did today and everyone she talked to.”

“You do realize, don’t you that you have the power to say good-bye and hang up.”

“You’re a guy. You don’t understand.”

Yup, she’s right about that.

Then there is the issue of calling someone just to chat. I call my out-of-town family to ”chat,” because it’s the only way we can keep in touch. However, I cannot imagine calling one of my local guy-friends just to pass the time. I’m trying to imagine calling Matt the Welder.

Me: “Hey, Matt, this is Poolman. So what are you having for dinner tonight?”

Matt: “What?”

Me: “I just wanted to see what you were doing.”

Matt: “Seriously, dude. What do you need?”

Me: “No. I just called to chat. We haven’t talked in a day or two.”

Matt: “Are you drunk?”

Me: “No, but that’s not a bad idea.”

Matt: “So you want to know what I’m doing?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Matt: “I’m wasting my time talking to you. So I’m hanging up now. Don’t call me. I’ll call you. Not.” Click.

One more reason I’m glad I’m a guy

Men reasonsI ran across this poster, and it reminded me of one more reason, #87, why I’m glad I’m a guy.

Sales “Parties”

If you are a girl, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you are a guy, I strongly suspect you have never even been close to one. I guess they started with Tupperware back in the 50s or 60s, but it seems in recent years they have multiplied. Here is the way it works.

1.) Woman takes on a job selling a product with other women as the target customer group.

2.) Saleswoman approaches friend or co-worker and asks if she would hostess a “party” and invite some of HER friends. The purpose of the party is to provide Saleswoman with a captive audience to hock her wares. Not really wanting to produce a party, but not wanting to disappoint a friend, the Hostess agrees.

3.) Hostess then spends some of her “social capital” inviting her friends to a “party” at her house. Hostess typically provides drinks and snacks, or more.

4.) The friends/guests frequently accept, even though they have no desire to attend the pseudo-party, because they, in turn, don’t want to their friend/hostess to look bad. The implied understanding is that the Guests have a social obligation to purchase something from the Saleswoman.

Mrs. Poolman attended one such “party” last week. In this case, the product was handbags. Mrs. P came away $55 poorer, but with a handbag, to be delivered at some future date. I don’t know whether she needed the handbag or not. That wasn’t the point. She bought the bag because she attended the party, and she only attended the party, because she didn’t want to disappoint her friend, Carla. Carla wasn’t the hostess. The party was being hosted by her daughter’s partner’s mother and sisters on behalf of some cousin. Do you see how the web grows?

One of our friends here in the neighborhood, Louanne, was a real sucker for any “Saleswoman” who called on her. For a while there, it seemed like Louanne was calling every couple of weeks or so to invite Mrs. P to a party where she could/should/would buy lingerie, perfume, jewelry or candles. (The thought of giving up a Saturday afternoon during football season to go listen to someone try to sell me scented candles would drive me to socially unacceptable behavior.) At least one party she hosted was for a line of “marital aids” which was interesting. I would have gone to that one myself, but no guys were invited. Louanne finally shut down her run of parties after the other women in the neighborhood politely told her that were considering not answering the phone when her number showed up on caller ID.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Perhaps I should call up my friend Matt the Welder and ask him to come over to learn more about scented candles. “Oh, and be sure to bring your checkbook.” I think I seen an intervention in my future.

Passing of my evil twin

We had a weird experience last week. Mrs. Poolman and I were over at Poolboy’s condo for dinner when Mrs. P’s cell phone rang. It was one of our friends asking if I were OK. There was a rumor sweeping the hospital where they work that “The Poolman” had died suddenly that afternoon. I pinched myself and then asked Poolboy a question to make sure I was still really there. (Remember “The Sixth Sense” with Bruce Willis.) Once I confirmed I really was alive and breathing, I started wondering which of the other “The Poolman”s in town had deceased. The next morning I discovered it was the many I jokingly referred to as “my evil twin.”

We were never very close, but we had a long, and incredibly coincidental relationship.

We first encountered each other in 1984. I was a TV news director in Nashville. I read in one of the trade journals that another “The Poolman” had recently been promoted to news director at a station in Kansas City. I wrote him a letter (This was before e-mail, twitter, Facebook, etc.) to congratulate him.

“I hope you do well, so anyone who confuses us will also think well of me.”

Several months later, we met in person at an ABC affiliate news director’s meeting. A couple of years after that, again at a news directors’ meeting, we met on a sidewalk in Salt Lake City. Our conversation turned to family history and, to both of our surprises, we discovered we grew up with a few blocks of each other in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon. He was about six years older than I, so we weren’t there at the same time. By the time, my family moved back about the time I was starting high school, he was already off at college.

We ran into each other from time to time in the world of television news. In 1992, I moved to the CBS station in Savannah. In 1995, I returned from lunch one day to find people in the newsroom acting strange towards me. I pulled someone over and asked them what was going on.

“Well, Poolman, your secret is out. We all know you are moving across town to the competition.”

“What?”

“They announced it to the staff this morning. The Poolman is the new news director at the NBC station.”

I knew immediately what was going on. So for the next five years My Evil Twin and I competed directly with each other as rival news directors with the same name at TV stations in the same town.

We both left our respective stations around the same time in the early 2000s, and both stayed in Savannah. My Evil Twin, aka “the other Poolman” ended up with two tours of duty at the third station in town. So we continued to run into each other until he got out of the business entirely a couple of years ago.

His death leaves just three “The Poolman”s left in Savannah. So to quote Mark Twain, “Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated.” — hopefully, for some time to come.

A great holiday/wedding weekend

We had a great time over Memorial Day weekend. (Yes, I am a little late catching up.) Our neice, Ellen, got married in Greenville, South Carolina. She is my middle sister’s daughter, so the event attracted a large number of my side of the family. I am the oldest of five. All are married, most with grown, or nearly grown, children. We and our cousins are spread all over the eastern half of the country. It’s been this way ever since I first moved away from Pittsburgh to Florida in 1971. While we are not geographically so close that we can call and say “Come on over for Sunday dinner,” we do have a good time when we do get together.

Mrs. Poolman and I took off on Thursday to make it a five-day weekend. Our first big surprise was Greenville itself. It has a very cool downtown. There is a small river with a waterfall cutting right through the middle of town. My sister commented, “You know, we lived here for ten years before we even knew we had a waterfall in downtown.”

Greenville's waterfall

Greenville’s waterfall

Wedding 3w

Brother taking picture of his son and daughter-in-law.

Wedding 4w

(l-r) Girlfriend, Poolboy and Writer Princess

Wedding 5w

Nephew, Mrs. P and myself

The rest of downtown is nicely landscaped, pedestrian friendly, and full of shops and restaurants. We went sightseeing both Friday and Saturday afternoon.  We had a very nice time. Greenville, South Carolina! Who ‘da thought?

In between the scheduled functions and parties, our family had a fairly non-stop party going back at the hotel. We were all in a Holiday Inn Express. At almost any time you could wander through the lobby and find someone to visit with. Lots of fun and laughter, and a fair amount of ethanol.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law's room works just fine.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law’s room works just fine.

I guess I should show at least one picture of the couple. Here is Stan and Ellen, zoning out at the rehearsal.

We all had such a great time, we started looking around at the single children and asked “So who’s next?”

Ugly unis, saving bears and other pearls

It’s a nasty day in the Gator Nation. Last night, the Gators embarrassed themselves by allowing Louisville to have their way with them in the Sugar Bowl. If you are going to be trounced, I guess it’s best that it not come from a big rival. And at least we like Louisville coach Charlie Strong. Coach Strong spent most of his coaching career as an assistant at Florida and was very well liked and respected.

I blame it all on the Curse of the Ugly Uniforms. Teams simply do not play well in ugly uniforms, and the Gators’ unis were stinkos last night. Blue jerseys and orange pants look terrible. They have perfectly good white pants to wear.

From The Gainesville Sun

From The Gainesville Sun

At least they didn’t wear orange over orange. They would have looked like Clemson. Well, at least Clemson won their bowl game.

*    *    *

I get marketing emails from Barnes & Noble. They advertise the impending release of “bestsellers.” How can a book be a bestseller when it hasn’t been released yet?

Similarly, I was talking with a neighbor last week. She said her family had “started a new Christmas tradition.” Isn’t a “new tradition” an oxymoron? Like the frequently mentioned “instant classic.” I think you have to do something for a while before it becomes a tradition.

*    *    *

Presents 2Several of us parents with adult children were talking last weekend about giving our offspring Christmas presents. Several mothers, including Mrs. Poolman, were sharing their difficulties in making sure that they spent the exact same amount of money on each child. One mother keeps a careful list with her receipts and adds it up to make sure there isn’t more than a $20 difference in the multi-hundred dollar gift lists. They even got into discussing whether it matters if they get a present on sale. Should they count the sale price or the regular retail price in their computations?

I thought the whole issue was ridiculous. Gifts are supposed to be an expression of affection, respect or appreciation, not a mathematical model. If I ever heard even an inkling of a complaint from one of my children that I had not spent enough money on their Christmas gifts, it would make my shopping next year a lot easier and a lot cheaper.

*    *    *

And finally, I ran across this video today and was astounded. Apparently it’s been out for several months. It’s only about a minute long, but it will make you feel good. The world needs more people like this.

 

 

You’re how old? No, really…

I’m getting old. I don’t feel like it, but the calendar and the date on my driver’s license don’t lie. I turned 60 last Friday.

Holy Metamucil, Batman! Where did that come from? It seems like it was only yesterday that I was in high school, spent nearly every evening throwing a football in the front street with my brother and didn’t know how to talk to girls. WTF?

Actually, I had a very nice birthday. As difficult as it may sound, coming from someone who writes a blog, I really don’t enjoy being the center of attention. Last year, the kids and I threw Mrs. Poolman a pretty nice party for her 60th.  I really didn’t want that. It makes me feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s my natural social insecurity. I never know which good will-wishes are sincere and which are just for show.

In any case, Mrs. P made sure I had a very nice weekend. I had some work issues that had to be handled on Friday morning, but then I took the rest of the day off. Mrs. P and I had a nice lunch out. Then she had made an appointment for me to have my first professional massage. Very nice! On Saturday night, Poolboy, Girlfriend, Writer Princess and Son-in-Law joined us for dinner at a nice tapas restaurant in downtown Savannah.

I guess if you have to age, that was a pretty good way to celebrate a milestone. Thanks, guys!