Tag Archives: Annoyance

Touchy Feely

What is it about pregnant women that makes most of us feel like we have the right to just come up to them and start rubbing on their bellies?

No, seriously.

I saw something like that the other day and it got me started thinking about it. I was in the library when a very, very pregnant woman came inside near where I was sitting. She greeted another woman, but you could tell from their stances that they weren’t actually close friends. There was a definite, visible reserve there.

The non-pregnant woman then pulled her youngish dude (maybe six or seven years old) over to them and just thrust his hand onto the pregnant lady’s belly. She was shocked. Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open a bit, but the non-pregnant mom and her son were completely oblivious to the pregnant woman’s distress. They then said good-bye and moved on.

The pregnant woman just stood there for a little while before shaking her head and moving on.

From experience, being around a pregnant woman for a long, long time on three separate occasions, I’ve seen this happen again and again. People would walk up to She Who Must Be Given Her Space and, with the barest of pauses to get any kind of permission, start fondling her belly.

Is a pregnant woman’s belly community property or something?

I really don’t think so. But there’s something in our culture that says pregnant women get to endure this unique form of annoyance.

I know it’s a wonderful thing, a wanted pregnancy that’s going to produce a wanted, loved child. Many pregnant woman do have almost a glow about them from their healthy bodies and their excitement about the growing life (when they’re not suffering from hemorrhoids or swollen ankles) and most people do want to share in that kind of joy. It makes us feel good.

But, seriously, dudes and (mostly) dudettes. Don’t just automatically assume that a pregnant woman wants you to feel up her belly, just because she’s showing. And if you just can’t help yourself, ask for permission first and actually — I know this is a bit out there, but go with me here on this one — wait for permission before you get all touchy feely.

I know I’m not talking to the dudes out there all that much on this one, because we’ve been pretty much conditioned against just randomly touching people we meet in the street. Still, I’d like to see a little thought here, folks. It actually is her pregnancy, not ours.

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Freaky Friday: Who Am I?

by Richard

Knowing if you’re happy or now right now is a pretty easy task. Knowing whether you’ll be happy in the future, however, seems to be a bit more difficult, especially when we forget who we really are.

According to the latest research, most dudes and dudettes are appallingly bad at predicting their future happiness because they tend to forget one tiny fact in their calculations: Are they basically happy or basically sad people?

The new evidence comes from Jordi Quoidbach, a psychological scientist at the University of Liege, Belgium. Quoidbach and Elizabeth Dunn, his collaborator at the University of British Columbia, found that our natural sunny or negative dispositions might be a more powerful predictor of future happiness than any specific event. They also discovered that most of us ignore our own personalities when we think about what lies ahead – and thus miscalculate our future feelings.

Quoidbach and Dunn call this phenomenon “personality neglect,” which they tested in connection with the 2008 U.S. presidential election. In early October 2008, a large sample of Belgians predicted how they would feel the day after the U.S. presidential election if Barack Obama won and how they would feel if John McCain won. Then the day after the election, they reported how they actually felt, and completed personality tests. Nearly everyone in the study supported Obama, so most predicted they would be happy if he won.

What happened is that people who were grumpy before the election were — surprise! — still grumpy after the election. People who were happy before the election were basically happy after the election.

We are who we are.

“It might be worthwhile, before you make a big decision, to think about your personality and how you usually react,” Quoidbach says. Think about planning a vacation, for example. If you have a happy disposition, you probably don’t need to waste a lot of money and effort finding the perfect location (because you will be happy with most vacations anyway). By contrast, if you have a less happy disposition, you might be more prone to regret the slightest annoyance, so carefully planning every detail of the trip might be the best strategy for your future happiness. “Don’t focus too much on the event; think about who you are,” advises Quoidbach.

Okay, now this is pretty interesting. It goes with something I’ve thought for a long while now. Our outlook on the world influences what we see in the world, which influences our outlook on the world. That is, if we’re grumpy dudes, then we’ll be more likely to see stuff that will keep us grumpy. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle.

And it’s something I’m trying to change in myself. I know I’m one of those grumpy people. I always seem to see the bad things and not the good. I am, as I said, trying to change that. Instead of complaining about people tossing empty beer cans along a roadside that I have to see when I’m out riding my bike, I now try to be happy that there’s fewer than there used to be. It’s a small thing, but it’s a good thing.

Hey, there’s another one.

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The Land Of Women

by Richard

August is a busy month for me. I’ve got to content with young dudes suffering breakdowns because their school is getting ready to begin again, break out the swords and cudgels necessary to successfully navigate the school-supply crowds at Walmart, and find a way to help celebrates the births of the first two women in my life.

Yes, today and tomorrow we celebrate my mom’s birthday and then that of my sister.

Today is a big year. My mom turns 70, which is something I find absolutely amazing. When I was younger, I always thought of 70-year-old people as so decrepit and old it was a wonder they didn’t just fall apart whenever they took a breath. My mom, though. . . Despite having multiple sclerosis for decades and going through breast cancer, my mom is an amazingly energetic and fun lady.

She’s able to laugh at anything life throws at her and then make sure the rest of her family is having as much fun as she is. She’s warm and funny and loves her grandchildren more than is possibly healthy. Just ask her. She’s also more adventurous than I can believe.

This is a lady who has to use a wheelchair to go any significant distances and must use a walker to drag her MS-damaged leg around her house. And yet. . . This Christmas she’s going on a cruise to Antarctica. Yeah, the land of permanent ice and snow. The most rugged place on earth and she’s headed there for fun. With a wheelchair.

It’s hard for me to think about my sister as anyone other than that little ball of annoyance who had a habit of biting her own arm and then blaming me for it. And yet. . . she’s grown up into her own type of amazing woman.

I only wish I had half her grace under pressure, half of her parenting skill, heck, half of her maturity. I never thought it would happen, but she’s definitely someone to whom I’ll turn for advice whenever I’m stuck.

She and her husband produced two of the five greatest kids I’ve ever met. Admittedly, her kids are probably ranked 2a and 2b (right after a three-way tie for first taken up by my three little dudes). . .

I am a lucky dude to be surrounded by three (can’t leave out She Who Must Not Be Forgotten) strong, intelligent, moral, loving, amazing women. Thanks to them, I know what real women are like. I see the best of femininity on a daily basis and I’m thankful for that kind of luck.

Happy birthday, Mom. Happy birthday, Leslie.

Thanks for everything.

Now get out there and enjoy.

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