Author Archives: Les Femmes Fabulous

Can father play the field and keep his image in tact?

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Read it in The Staten Island Advance

DEAR FEMMES: After 19 years of marriage, I am in the end process of a lengthy divorce proceeding (14 months and perhaps a few more to a signing).

My soon-to-be ex (can’t be soon enough) moved out 10 months ago. I would like to (need to) begin dating. My love life has been dead for years. I absolutely do not intend to get emotionally involved, but simply want to play the field for fun.

Problem: I have an 18-year-old daughter and do not want her to disrespect her father. I would never bring anyone home and will and can go to extremes to prevent her from learning about my evenings out. Obviously after the divorce is final, there will come a time when I will be “clear” to date. Do you, Femmes, think it’s OK?

FRUSTRATED

ELISE:One day someone will create an app that will allow you to plug in all the variables you mentioned and spit out yay or nay if it’s OK to start dating again. Until then, it’s an inexact science determining when is the right time to go skinny-dipping in the dating pool.

It’s admirable you wish to protect the image your daughter has of you, but why not discuss with her your desire to start dating again (editing out the “playing the field” bit, of course)? At her age, she may be more receptive to it than you imagine.

Then again, if your 18-year-old is heading off to college by summer’s end, I’d hold off on reviving your love life until she vacates the house — which is a helluva lot easier than explaining why you’re not home when she comes in for her curfew.

ELLEN:I was 17 when my parents divorced, and my father had many, many girlfriends, some of whom I remember fondly. I don’t understand this “modern” idea that kids should be protected from what, exactly?

But I’m a little confused: Are you afraid that your soon-to-be ex will get wind of your nights out and further complicate your exodus — or are you imagining that your 18-year-old daughter will have a nervous breakdown at the thought of her father on a sleepover?

The former, I understand. As to the latter, I think she’ll live. What’s the harm in your daughter knowing that you like a night out with the ladies — as long as you don’t flaunt the naughty parts?

As an aside, I remained friends with some of my father’s girlfriends even after their romance and will be forever grateful for some of the worldly wisdom they passed on to me.

Can job interview lead to dinner date?

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Read it in The Staten Island Advance

DEAR FEMMES: I recently had a job interview and was notified that the job was offered to someone else, which is OK because I didn’t want it anyway.

But I really liked one of the guys who interviewed me, who made a joke about being single in the city while we were talking. I’d like to ask him out, or at least to coffee. Do you think this would be a breach of professional etiquette?

STILL LOOKING

ELISE: I think it depends on your approach. If you plan to put him on the spot and call him at work or send an e-mail that may be monitored by his office, then yes, I’d say that crosses a line, professionally.

A safer bet might be to connect with him via LinkedIn and ask for some “feedback.”

You might write: “Mr. Brown, I very much enjoyed meeting you during my interview for XYZ job. Naturally, I am disappointed I won’t have the chance to work with you, but I’d really appreciate your input as to how I can improve my performance for next time. Can we meet for a coffee to discuss?”

If he agrees, that’s when you can make your move.

ELLEN: But let’s just say Mr. Brown takes the request seriously. Do you really want to go through the pretense of asking his advice? What if he catches on to your ruse and is peeved at being hoodwinked?

He made a joke about being single, which I say left you with an opening. E-mail him. Apologize for your (read: charming) boldness.

Tell him that you’d like to get to know him better over a friendly lunch, and promise that you won’t berate him for not hiring you. He can always say he doesn’t do lunch.

But if he’s game, all he needs to do is pick up the phone. At the very least, he’ll be flattered by the interest of a babe like you. And as far as I know, none of this is against the law.

Newly engaged isn’t thrilled with the ring….

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DEAR FEMMES FABULOUS: I read those articles in the Advance about engagement rings (published April 24 in the Relationships section) and have a question. My fiance proposed to me a month ago and I really don’t like the ring he gave me. The setting is not my style.

Do you think it’s OK for me to say something to my fiance? I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but after reading how others exchanged their rings, I’m toying with the idea of doing the same.

DIDN’T ROCK ME

ELLEN: Brad Pitt not withstanding, it’s my sense that men by and large don’t care about rings. It would not occur to them to offer a ring on bended knee if women did not insist on it.

In choosing a ring, your fiance’s goal of course was to make you happy. I suspect that he’d prefer that you speak up now than hold your peace; he’d far rather that you have the ring of your dreams (as long as it’s in his budget), than for you to wear one that you’ve settled for.

If it’s just the setting that offends, suggest that you design a ring around the oh-so-beautiful stone he chose. Or just cut to the chase. Most jewelers are willing to take back the ring, so you can start from scratch and choose one that delights both of you.

ELISE: Just-turned billionaire Mark Zuckerberg could have bought his bride the most expensive diamond on the planet, yet he gave Priscilla Chan a simple ruby ring he designed himself. Even if red isn’t her color, I bet she adores it, since it came straight from Mark’s heart.

When it comes to the most sentimental, and expensive, piece of jewelry a guy ever will bestow to the love of his life, I believe most men try their absolute best in getting it just right.

Unless your intended flatly ignored hints about the setting you desire or didn’t put thought into the selection, I’d rethink asking for a do-over. If you don’t grow to love it, a milestone, like the birth of a child or an anniversary, can be a fitting time to pick out a new one together.

A moment of silence, please!

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Read it in The Staten Island Advance

DEAR FEMMES: My company recently moved to a new office space. Many of us have gone from having our own private offices to open pods that have as many as four people working in them, which I hate.

One of my “pod mates” has a series of habits that drive me around the bend. If he’s not sucking his teeth, he’s tapping his fingers or burping. I think he’s even farting occasionally (judging by the smell).

Help me! And don’t tell me to wear earphones. I want peace and quiet, not music blaring in my ears all day.

DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION

ELISE: Now that you mention it, Driven, earphones may be the way to get back at him. Download annoying songs onto your MP3 player, and just as this ogre seems to be in the zone, belt one out. Imagine his face as you’re crooning, “Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof!”

Seriously, though, with today’s noise-canceling headphones and an app like SimplyNoise or Zen Music, you can have peaceful sounds drowning out his irritating noises. Just saying.

If not, be frank and explain to him or your supervisor how distracting his habits are.

As for the farting, sometimes embarrassing offenders is the only way to get them to quit. Waving a folder frantically, innocently blurt, “Pew! What is that wretched smell?”

ELLEN: Four pod mates? Time for an intervention!

Reach out to the others, who are no doubt keeping a lid on their irritation. Suggest that the three of you take your finger-tapping mate to a friendly lunch and deliver a little of the tough love he so richly deserves.

In these matters, it’s wiser to talk about how the situation makes you feel rather than apportion blame – as in, “I love you, Alan. But when you suck your teeth, I feel as though I’m just seconds away from strangling you.” OK, maybe something a little gentler.

There’s safety in numbers, and you won’t jeopardize Alan’s standing with the higher-ups. If things don’t improve, take it to the boss. But until then, let’s just assume that poor Alan imagines that no one notices him.

Ducking dinner plans

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Read it in The Staten Island Advance

DEAR FEMMES: I have an old friend who’s been happily married for years. Recently, his wife has been spending some time on and off in Florida, and while she’s away he calls me to ask whether I’m free for lunch or dinner.

I’ve pretty much dodged the invitation up until now. I know he has no ulterior motives, other than that he hates to eat alone, but I’m afraid it would bother his wife if I accepted the invitation. I want to ask him if he’s mentioned this to her, but I feel like it would sound as if I think he’s up to something. How should I handle this?

A FRIEND INDEED

ELLEN: If you feel his wife might be bothered, – or that there is even the possibility that he might not be forthcoming with her — I’d continue to beg off, unless he’s willing to meet you for breakfast. Eggs and bacon spell romance only when you’re wearing clothes from the night before.

Tell it like it is. “Arthur,” I’d say, though I’d be more likely to e-mail, “nothing would give me more pleasure than dining with you, but Lucy might think it was odd. That’s what you get for being so damnably attractive.”

Suggest that you all get together for dinner when Lucy returns. With the wine uncorked, maybe you can figure out if Lucy is cool with Arthur dining with gal pals while she’s on the road. Then again, maybe it’s better to zip your lips …

ELISE: Some men and women can share a meal, catch up like old times and they, and their spouses, think nothing of it. While that may be Arthur’s plan entirely — and you’re just No. 9 on the list of old pals to call while his wife is out of town — you don’t seem as uncomfortable.

It’s Arthur’s responsibility to ensure his wife is OK with the dining arrangement, yet you keep dodging this old friend. Why? I think the reason goes beyond a concern for Lucy’s feelings.

Hold off on dinner for two until you figure out more — like why Lucy recently has joined the frequent-flyer program. It makes a difference if business or an ailing parent repeatedly is bringing her to Florida vs. another kind of “get-away.”

The finale of a friendship?

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Read it in The Staten Island Advance

DEAR FEMMES: I want to “break up” with a friend, but I’m having trouble doing it. We’ve been friends for 11 years, but we started growing apart about halfway through.

My biggest problem with her is her flightiness. I’ve accepted it all these years, but I’ve had enough. I’ve talked to her about it, but nothing has changed. I want out. How should I proceed? 

BFF NO MORE

ELLEN: What if friendships were like jobs, where “areas needing improvement” could be addressed in a face-to-face sit-down annually?

Imagine this Hallmark opportunity: a BFF’s Day, in which friends achieving the highest standards of on-time arrival and emotional triage are celebrated.

Sadly, most friends are flawed — although, in my self-evaluation I was awarded a 9.9 score out of 10.

Kidding aside, when a friend disappoints me consistently, I wonder if my expectations are reasonable. Your friend’s always been flighty, you say. So, a decade later, should you expect her to be anything other than what she is?

If she ever had a place in your heart, I think the answer is to reassign, not fire her. Kick her upstairs. From BFF, say, to BFF Emeritus. Enjoy your friend for what attracted you at first, though maybe you’ll choose to see a little less of her.

ELISE: I agree, seriously reflect on it before pulling the plug on this 11-year friendship. But if it’s clear in your head that the relationship is at the Do Not Resuscitate stage, don’t second-guess yourself or feel guilty.

Too often, women sign up to be BFFs without properly vetting the candidates or simply outgrow the friendship and want out, but remain friends, or more likely frenemies, out of a sense of obligation.

Since she did nothing egregious, skip the bridge-burning “I don’t want to be friends anymore” confession and Facebook defriending. You just may wish to reconnect at a later point.

Instead, do a gradual pullout. Make yourself less available and don’t initiate contact. If she questions your MIA status, blame it on work or another endeavor that’s vacuuming up your time.

Dissed by his sister

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Read it in The Staten Island Advance

DEAR FEMMES: I have tried for years to develop a close relationship with my sister-in-law. We live five minutes apart and have kids who are close in age. But she never wants to get together and never returns my calls. The last straw came last weekend when I invited her and her husband over for a special dinner and she canceled a half-hour before they were supposed to show.

I want to say something to her, but my husband is trying to convince me not to. He says that after all these years of knowing her, I should be used to it by now. What are your thoughts?

SLIGHTED
SISTER-IN-LAW 

ELISE: I appreciate how much you crave a close connection with your sister-in-law, but interactions between extended families never are like the ending of a “Modern Family” episode with everyone giggling and suddenly enlightened.

You could say something, but I doubt it’ll accomplish what you’re after. No matter how you frame such a conversation, it won’t act like a magic hex, extracting respect and fondness from a sister-in-law who has dissed you time and time again.

Instead, save the talk for your husband. It’s important to know he’s got your back in case of a more severe breach of the in-law code down the road.

ELLEN: As the expression goes, you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. Add to that: Just because they are family doesn’t mean they have to be your friends.

My sense is that you feel your sister-in-law is obliged to be your buddy because the friendship would be mutually convenient to you. But it seems to me that she’s no more obliged to be your BFF than a co-worker and your dentist are.

In fact, she has even less incentive to be pleasant, given that she’s trying to keep you at arm’s length.

Why squander your valuable friendship on someone who doesn’t see your fabulousness? And why be a glutton for her punishment? I can think of 50 reasons why she might not want to be your friend, none of them having a thing to do with you.

Trying to be a member of a club that won’t consider your application — to borrow from another expression — doesn’t get you in the door.

Who is the third wheel, daughter or girlfriend?

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Read it in The Staten Island Advance

DEAR FEMMES:  My father has had a new girlfriend, “Susie,” for a few months now. They spend a lot of time together, and I feel like I’ve really gotten to know her and like her.

The problem is, I never get to see him alone anymore. He and I used to grab dinner together or just sit around at home and watch a movie. Now, she’s always there or he brings her along. I’m afraid they’ll both misinterpret it if I tell him how I feel. Any suggestions on how to handle this? 

DISTANT DAUGHTER 

ELISE: In my book, children trump a new love interest. I bet your father feels the same, even if of late he’s residing in La La Land of infatuation.

As long as you make this a conversation between you and your dad, I don’t see how your intentions can be misconstrued.

Set a dad-daughter date sans Susie. Pick a restaurant that generally books up and specify a few times that work for you. Once he gives his preference, say, “Great! I’ll make the reservation for two.”

At dinner, explain, “I think Susie’s great and love hanging out with her, but I really miss our one-on-one time, Dad.”

How could he resist such a sincere admission  –  even if used as a response to a request to make the reservation for three?

ELLEN: Children trump a love interest while they are still children, in my view. After that, only in cases of a real need or an emergency.

Remember that children move on in their lives, finding their own love interests, marriage, children, and jobs, leaving Dad to microwave his own popcorn and watch TNT in his Jockeys.

Bravo to your Dad for locking in a future that doesn’t depend on you for social sustenance.

I’m not saying give up on one-on-one time with your Dad. But imagine what a bummer it would be if he demanded your attention just as you were launching a scorching love affair after a long, dry spell.

No relationship stays the same. Let the dust settle, and kindle that intimacy with your dad in ways that evolve for both of you naturally.

The Late Date

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Read it in The Staten Island Advance

DEAR FEMMES: I’ve been dating a guy for four months now and it’s really starting to get to me that he’s always late. I mean, when it’s 10 minutes or so, that’s not too bad, although I don’t even like that. 
    
But he’s been up to an hour late and doesn’t even seem to understand why I would be upset. How can I get him to change his ways or is it hopeless? 

LATE DATER 

ELISE: An hour late without the slightest excuse or apology? And this has happened multiple times? And you’re still with him? 
    
Dater, it’s not his “I’ll show up whenever I darn well please” attitude you need to work on; it’s your tolerance for BS. 
    
This worm clearly isn’t showing you the respect you deserve and, honestly, neither are you by allowing him to continue beating you up in this matter. 
    
A tactic that may get him to change? Arrange to meet him out and never show up. When he calls asking where you are, sweetly say, “Oh, babe, you were late again, so I left. I hope your next girlfriend is more understanding.” Click. 
    
A bit cruel? Yes, but he’s asking for it.
   
ELLEN: I once kept my chronically late date waiting for 45 minutes in a restaurant so he’d know how it felt. He was fuming when I arrived, and indignant that I had put him through the experiment. 
    
Was he cured? I can’t remember, but the romance was limping along by then anyway. 
    
Your late dater might be not that into the date, but more probably one of those people who couldn’t make it on time to his own funeral. I wouldn’t bother pitching a fit, or even explaining how frustrating it is. He knows. He’s just used to getting away with it. 
    
In the final analysis, he’s killing the romantic vibe, and you might phrase your complaint in just that way. Tell him the choice is his. If he keeps it up, you’ll make easy. He doesn’t need to bother showing up at all. 

So, about your ex….

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Read it in The Staten Island Advance

DEAR FEMMES: The husband of a good friend of mine left her for another woman, though he told my friend that he just didn’t want to be married anymore. Everyone knows the “other woman,” but my friend seems to be totally unaware of the truth.

I go back and forth between wanting to tell her what’s going on, so she won’t feel like she was the “last to know” and not wanting to be the bearer of this old but bad news. What would you all do?

BEFUDDLED FRIEND

ELLEN: The predicament of your friend, Befuddled, is curiously like walking around all day with a fleck of spinach caught between your front teeth.

You wish someone had mentioned it at first, and yet ignorance is bliss, until you are faced with the evidence.

If I were your friend, I would want to hear it from you. I’d feel patronized if friends “protected” my innocence with their silence and at the same time pitied me for my cluelessness.

Her philandering husband is a weenie for not telling your friend what she was bound to find out eventually. Let her know that your motivation for spilling the news is to spare her the shock of hearing it in a way that might not only cause her pain but undue embarrassment.

ELISE: Indeed, at some point your friend will learn her husband really hadn’t been “hiking the Appalachian Trail” or whatever other lame excuse he gave when sneaking off with this other woman.

But should you be the one to deliver the blow? Only if you’re prepared for the possibility of your friendship being tested. Especially if your friend harbors any wishful thinking about repairing the marriage, she may end up projecting her anger onto you.

I’d try to find out first if she’s the type to receive such news with an open mind. You might say something like, “I just saw that movie ‘The Descendants.’ It got me thinking about whether I’d want to know if my spouse had cheated …”