Sharp Dresser

This month I took your father out to get him properly attired for events. He had gained weight and no longer fit into the one suit he owned since high school.

Read that last bit again.

Yeah. So I want to impart on you a rule that was imparted on me regarding staples in your wardrobe.

At the very least, while you are on a fixed budget, you should have what I call the interview, funeral, wedding suit. It works triple duty. It should include 1 power tie, 1 soft casual tie (pale/patterned in nature) and 1 dark tie. You should have two button down dress shirts for this suit. One white dress shirt and one of a pale/pastel color (gray, peach, ivory, blue) but whatever that pale color, it should coordinate with the casual tie and/pr dark tie.

When you get established, then you should expand your wardrobe to have a warm triple duty suit and a cool triple duty suit. (one for summer with lighter fabrics and one for winter with heavier fabric)

And you should then expand your wardrobe staples to have one sport coat. One that goes with jeans/khakis. Again, as you become more established, you will want a summer one and a winter one (winter == tweed/herringbone).

All the while, you should be frequently trying on said suiting to be sure they still fit you. If they do not, you should replenish/replace pieces as needed. Never get caught having to run out and buy whatever in haste. Bad decisions are made in a rush.

And expect this shopping to take hours with a tailor. Because well-made men’s suiting is not finished and ready to wear. It has to be tailored to your body and finished. If you buy ready to wear, expect it to wear out and be ill fitting. Take the time to get a good suit.

You are your father’s son and I hope you have his metabolism and not mine. If you have his you should be able to keep a suit for years without replacement. However if you follow me, you will need to restock/replace often due to the various weight fluctuations. Be mindful.

I know in the grand scheme of things this is the furthest from your mind; but it’s the little things I will want to mention to you before I am gone.

I’m really an introvert

You may think by my demeanor in public that I’m a socially extroverted person. Why else would I hold long conversations with complete strangers?

Because they started it.

I am quite happy to work on my own in solitude, listening to an audiobook, NPR or music of my choosing.

When I’m out in public, I’m not seeking a social exchange. I’d rather get my things and go.

So why the chatter?

Two reasons

  1. I’m nervous around others so I make the small talk to get through it
  2. I’m irritated by the interruption of the social exchange.

In the latter case, I’m apt to carry the conversation uncomfortably longer than necessary until it is a load of awkward. That way the individual is less likely to chat me up in the future.

In the case of nervousness, I use it to diffuse an otherwise tense or uncomfortable situation for all involved. Giving blood for a blood test…I don’t want to be in this slightly vulnerable situation with a complete stranger…so let the idle chatter commence.

I highly recommend babbling excitedly to a solicitor or evangelist to teach a lesson on why introverts need to be left alone.

I recall a phone conversation going on far longer than needed, so I chose to take command of the conversation and read a help guide to the person. About three pages worth. The call was being monitored for quality purposes; so it became a teachable moment for that agent and future agents in training.

I take great pleasure in turning the tables if my need for space and quiet has been threatened or dare they, infringe upon it.

And I hope you know that if I am seemingly sociable it’s not because I want to be. I’d rather be left to myself.

Fully Vetted Mates

We all think we are good judges of character. But as the reporters of Dateline would prove, it’s just not necessarily so.

The person in which you invest your time, affection, loyalty and devotion should be a person you fully trust. Their family – you would fully trust. The people with whom they keep company – you would fully trust.

I learned of a young man who is about to get married to a woman who, from all observations, should have given him enough red flags to never propose. Walking into an already established family when never having one is hard. but then top that off with a mountain of debt, and a family history of murder/suicide…

Walk away, brother, walk away. You do not want to be the highlight of next season’s Keith Morrison narrated, edge-of-your seat episode.

You’ve spoken that you have not found “the one” and there is a hint of bitterness laced in that statement. That you may never, because of your height. Though I am here to say that you will find the one at some point in your life, and now is far too soon.

You are too young to get married. You have yet to live. I mean really live. So I want you to really take an inventory of what you would be able to live with and what is definitely a hard pass. What would motivate you to walk away and never look back.

I’ll give some topics for consideration

Will you want to live the rest of your life with someone who

  • Is disliked by everyone you know? (They cannot get along with anyone you care about)
  • Is a hoarder
  • Is involved in or has/had committed a crime for which they served jail time.
  • Has killed a person or believes killing a person is a justifiable way to solve a conflict.
  • Talks down to you as if you are incompetent, childish or unable to think for yourself?
  • Berates your way of doing things
  • Controls with whom you speak/associate to due to insecurity and jealousy
  • Cannot take care of themselves due to a psychological or addictive reason.
  • Is constantly in debt or behind in their bills.
  • Has little to no respect for your belongings
  • Is unkind to animals or children.
  • Is racist.
  • Is fanatical about a belief you cannot accept.
  • Maintains the idea of marriage equates to a 1940’s role of man == provider and partner == dependent.
  • Uses physical aggression in an argument.
  • Cannot or refuses to share in the household duties
  • Has a history of cheating on their partner

Of course, there are more picayune reasons to walk away from a relationship; but really, the above should always be deal breakers. Do not let someone manipulate you with some challenge to your resolve/ethics or self esteem.

If someone plays into a weakness of yours to manipulate you to a proposal – like a fear of being alone and delivers an ultimatum such as,

“I expect a proposal by <insert timeframe here> or we are through!”

Your response had better be, “Thank you for the notice, we are indeed through.”

Additionally, just because your friends are marrying all around you and starting their families, this is not a competition or a race. Your life’s path is yours and there is no falling behind or getting ahead. Do not let others’ expectations dictate when you should find a life partner. You may end up settling with someone who is simply not the person you are best suited experience the rest of your life.

Be choosy. You deserve the best.

Power Trips

I know that you haven’t had a ton of experience dating but alas, I worry. I worry for the hurt you might experience at the hands of a master manipulator, a predatory user, or simply a narcissistic psychopath. A wolf in sheep’s clothing as it were.

Some folks are kind and sweet upon first meeting, or just mysterious enough that their true nature is withheld. You may not see it until much much later, or maybe after a significant challenge to your relationship that reveals it. I can describe all the ways a person could turn out to be the worst possible excuse for a human being but this post is about the aftermath, the recovery in the event you sever the bond.

For your health and heart, when you discover you are in such a relationship and the hurt is beyond what any reasonable person should bear. You must break it off. Don’t look ahead and try to preserve it just because you fear being alone or you think it is mendable.

Once a person hurts you, it is what you do in that moment that defines the relationship. If you stay with them after being hurt repeatedly; you are effectively giving them the power to do it over and over again. The strength of knowing when to leave is the challenge.

You’re going to second guess your choice, because the hurt may cut so deep it feels never-ending. Reconciling with that person may seem like the panacea for this pain, but then you are saying to them “What you did to me that caused our breakup is allowable from this point forward.”

I recommend you walk away and do not look back. It is tempting to look back – to see if they are hurting as much as you are. That’s a torture you should never inflict upon yourself. It will spark outrage, more pain and hurt, immense sadness for your own situation and incite an obsession over them and why they are faring well and you are not.

No matter how they play it, if they reach out you do not respond. If you open a door a crack they’re going to push on through to deliver more of a hurt than before. They may have others reach out to you to taunt and bait you – picking at an open wound that is not theirs to pick. Seriously there are some sick people out there.

Sadists.

If you show weakness or sadness and it gets back to them, they use it. You keep your healing private. I know you’re not a social media user but you may have mutual friends and it will matter with whom you confide. Yes, confide in close friends of your feelings but only the ones you truly trust and will not allow your status to get back to your ex.

Some things I need you to do on a breakup, which helps the healing process:

  1. Block them from contacting you – block their number, their ability to email you.
  2. Remove all reminders of them (pictures, notes, gifts) for the time being. This may mean a donation to a charity shop or just putting things in storage but get it out and away from reminding you.
  3. Do not listen to the music that reminds you of a moment with them (either positive or negative)
  4. Do not watch programmes or films which may immediately remind you of moments with them. (this is not forever, just until the association is distant enough)
  5. If there are still belongings of theirs in your possession place them in a box and drop it with a mutual friend or if the break is exceptionally bad, leave it out on the street and tell the mutual friend to inform the ex to get it before others do.
  6. Do not – I repeat – Do Not ever expect closure. Do not try to maneuver for an apology. Just be okay with never getting closure or an acknowledgement of their transgression and any sort of remorse on their part. It will not happen.
  7. Get involved in new activities & change your routines to get you away from common haunts which could allow you to run into them.
  8. Find ways toward understanding what you need and what makes you happy. Invest in yourself. Go on a trip, take a class to learn a new skill, pamper yourself. Be with supportive and loving people.
  9. Give your time to a charitable cause to make life better for others. See my prior post to you on healing your heart.

And lastly, build your confidence up to find your inner peace before embarking on a new relationship. Rebound relationships do not really help. Give yourself at least a year to really recover from a bad break before getting back out there.

Rehab Time Rebuttal

Trent Shelton is promoting a video where the tag line is “It’s rehab time!” Much of the message is quite true – it seems to miss the mark by a margin. I will leave the link here for you to view:

I understand what he’s trying to convey. However, he still leads the viewer down the path of expectation in which others are there to support you throughout your life and if they are not they should be cut from your life. This is categorically not a realistic expectation.

It would be lovely to think that everyone was here to help you achieve or self actualize, but to tell you the hard truth. It is all on you to get there. People cheering, assisting or promoting you along the way is just extra.

My grandmother told me from early on, “There is no one truly looking out for you but you. Never forget that. Not your siblings, your teachers, your doctors, your government, your parents, your partner or your friends. Only you.”

I realized once I accepted that level of expectation – that I am the captain of my own ship, I guide the sails, I maintain it, I decide the course I am on and when to correct it; no perceived let down from others mattered.

If you go into life knowing that everyone is ultimately out for themselves and you are not their primary concern, then you can not be phased should they turn away or leave your life.

Read “The Giving Tree” again. It is an important message. You give but you do not expect a return. This is parenting. However, eventually, I will let you down – when I die. I cannot be there to give until you die. That’s just not how life works. Does it mean you should cut me out of your life? No.

You shouldn’t cut anyone out of your life just for not “serving you”. That’s a horribly self-centered point of view. I have a ton of friends I enjoy in my life but I would never expect them to constantly lift me up in times of crisis or need. That is on me – not them. They have priorities outside mine. I need to respect that. There could be things going on in their lives which need their full attention and I am not a part of that.

Making a Mean Sauce

We’ve made this together before and I shared how I learned it as well. But for the sake of your occasional lost memories, I’ll go though it again.

My grandfather (my mother’s father) cooked. He taught me how to grill, bake pies, make a decent roast. And he taught me this basic barbecue sauce recipe.

Remember this is a recipe of unmeasured amounts, though I always mix mine up in a 2 cup Pyrex measure. And like the dressing, make only what you need.

This recipe is flexible too. The base consists of a tomato sauce (catsup, tomato purée, unseasoned tomato sauce, or during desperate times – a can on condensed tomato soup), a sweetener (honey, OR brown sugar OR molasses), a mustard (yellow, Dijon, brown), liquid smoke, seasonings (Worcestershire sauce, OR BBQ rub seasoning) AND liquid smoke

The one we made together was pretty basic but my go-to for ribs or chicken on the grill.

You need:

1 c tomato base (catsup in this case)

1 generous handful of brown sugar

2 TBSP of BBQ rub seasoning

1 tsp of yellow mustard

And a few drops of liquid smoke (to taste)

Mix until all is incorporated and smooth. Taste it and be sure it is how you remember it.

If it’s too sweet add more tomato base and a little more mustard.

Not smokey enough? A few more drops of liquid smoke.

Not sweet enough? A little more sweetener.

Too Smokey? Make more of the base without the smoke and add to your too smokey concoction.

This is another where you use whatever is on hand that fits the basic recipe premise.

This should cover both sides of a rack of ribs or all areas of a whole chicken.

Never reuse the sauce days later if you have leftovers. Cross contamination of meat juices from partially cooked meats is a recipe for an all night date with the toilet.

Seriously only make what you need. If you had to double it due to a “too smokey” situation, split what you have into two containers so that you don’t have to pitch any leftovers.

You should be able to keep the overage for about a week tightly covered in the fridge.

**A note about molasses: a little goes a long way and it has a powerful dimension of flavor. If you use it start conservatively until you have the taste where you like it.

Dressing for Success

I will not leave you without you knowing how to make the dressings and sauces I made for you. My grandfather’s cousin made a killer dressing for salads which I never had the recipe. She made it from scratch every time and would pour it over iceberg lettuce and it was hella good!

Another was made by my mother’s mother and it was simply a hot dressing made from what I believed to be hot bacon grease and scratchings with vinegar and she would dress bitter greens with it. I never knew how to make them, lord knows I tried some experiments; but they never quite met my memory of them.

If anything I can leave you in terms of knowledge about cooking, is that you do not have to buy bottled dressings or sauces. You’re better off making it on the fly. Use only what you need in the moment.

If you need a salad dressing you need to know I make one dressing but then doctor it to be whatever I need it to be.

The base consists of an oil, a sweetener, a seasoning, and some acidic agent. I start with 1/4 c of olive oil. Then the sweetener (to taste) is either a balsamic vinegar reduction (light or dark), OR honey. Any acidic agent could be a citrus juice, pomegranate, cranberry (unsweetened), dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar. Seasonings, could be any herbs, spices or onion or garlic – just to give it punch.

It is a flexible dressing.
Honey mustard dressing you say?
1/4 c Olive oil
2 TBSP Dijon Mustard (either creamy or the seedy kind)
A generous squeeze of honey (but be careful- start small and add to taste)

Use a fork to whisk it together until smooth.

That citrus salad dressing?
1/4 c Olive Oil
The juice of one lemon (lime) (orange)
A generous squeeze of light balsamic vinegar reduction glaze (you can make this from scratch too)
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
Fresh ground pepper

Use a fork to whisk it together until all is incorporated. It is best if you let it rest for a while to let the garlic infuse with the dressing.

An Italian dressing?
1/4 c Olive Oil
a splash of the apple cider vinegar
2 crushed garlic cloves
Fresh minced oregano and basil

Whisk until smooth.

Get creative with it. I did a lime and crushed mint vinaigrette for a fruit salad using this method.