Baby, Bathwater

“You can never go down, can never go down, can never go down the drain!”

Mr Rogers sang this song today on Channel 13. It’s one of my favorites. I like to blog to Mr. Rogers—something about puppets talking over twinkly piano soothes me. Also, how can you not love a children’s TV show that got away with naming its mailman Mr. McFeely?

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Mr Rogers, perched tub-side but thankfully clothed, ran a hot bath and performed “Never go down the drain” to illustrate how we shouldn’t be afraid of pulling the stopper because we’re way bigger than our plumbing and fear of losing a hand is irrational. A drain, after all, is no Superbug.

Back in late May, I was approached by Glamour Sex and Dating blogger Alyssa Shelasky for a possible collaboration. Unfortunately for me, just as we were making plans to meet for fruity drinks with umbrellas, she went on Hamptons hiatus and transferred her column to this guy:

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Mike Cherico. A 32 year old single Los Angelite with a Glamour nickname of “Edgy English Teacher,” because, well, he teaches English, and has a self-proclaimed proclivity for edgy sex (whatever that is.) Even though Mike has trouble committing to relationships, he doesn’t have trouble committing to blogs: because there I am, every day, to the left of his column, linked to his “Blogs I can Commit to.” I feel like I don’t belong. I feel like I’m at the wrong party but might as well stay for the open bar. It’s an OK party. I’m attempting small talk with “Charming, But Single” and “Miss Match,” but I won’t shut-up about hot wings and poetry, and can’t for the life of me figure out why no one has yet to ask me to leave.

When I was 24 and working as a dorm mother on a dry campus (read: no alcohol) in rural Virginia, when passing Mennonite buggies on my way to Walmart constituted Weekend Fun, I dreamed of having a highly publicized sex column. Some of the girls in my dorm set me up on a blind date with the resident liberal Psychology Professor. They cooked Italian in my apartment, lit tapered candles –did everything short of putting in a DVD of “Lady and the Tramp”– and a week later, he was my boyfriend. My friends called him “The Professor.” He was seven years my Senior. He lived in a renovated clapboard house with Ralph Lauren wallpaper, a pool table, and a black sheddy dog he got, for me, so that I could have something to neckkerchief. I used to sit cross-legged on the warped floor of his attic and peck out poems on my typewriter. It was winter. I threw open the shutters and chain-smoked. Sometimes, just for kicks, I typed “I Couldn’t Help But Wonder…” I was in love with myself.

On the nights I had off from dorm duty, the Professor and I liked to split a bottle of red wine and watch “Sex and The City.” He had a touch of the OCD, and when he wasn’t prepping lessons on Freud and Identity Formation or rearranging the pool balls I deliberately mis-ordered for a laugh (my own), he gathered data. Once, he calculated prudish Charlotte’s number of partners and compared them to Miranda’s to show how Charlotte’s number was actually higher than Miranda’s despite Miranda having more on-screen sex. It was a sweet gift. I had yet to live in New York City, so I still believed in the Carrie Bradshaw of Manolo Blahniks and whee! cabs everywhere! on a sex columnist’s salary. Now, cynical adult me, personal assistant me, calls her “Carrie Bad Shawl.”

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Which brings me back to Mr. Rogers. My blog has maintained a steady stream of readers. It has done so, much to my surprise, without my focusing on bad dates or break-ups or He’s Just Not That Into You aphorisms like You deserve a fucking phone call! Lately, relationship advice strikes me as obvious old-hat. It’s about as obvious as Mr. Rogers telling me, albeit nicely, that I won’t go down the drain. Of course I won’t.

Take a site like Miss Match. Miss Match herself is a rich relationship guru–she runs a matchmaking company– with a fondness for excitable punctuation! She suggests that to meet someone, a woman might “sit at a bar alone and try talking to people.” This tidbit is self-evident to the point of condescension—or maybe I take for granted sitting at bars alone and talking to people? I sort of hear Mr. Rogers on a stool singing to adults:

Sit at a bar, sit at a bar, sit at a bar and talk to people!

And poor Mike Cherico over at Glamour is having a rough time of it. This week he came under estrogen attack for admitting that his “type” is blond, that in his search for “the one,” he’s apt to rule out women of other hair color despite compatibility. His method of reader recovery? A tired entry entitled “Cut a Brother Some Slack.” In a PR move reminiscent of our President, he posted a picture of himself with… a baby . I just wish Mike would try a little harder, be a little more…edgy?

(Bush on right.)

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So I guess I’m grateful for some degree of anonymity, and that I don’t go slathering my blog with updates on Dan, or poll my readers on whether or not I should go on a date with my Deli guy. Or maybe…maybe I’m jealous of Mike—that secretly I want the Glamour gig, that there’s still a pre-NYC part of me holed up in The Professor’s attic, cow manure wafting through the windows while I dream up my very own sex column.

Mike always ends on a question, so today, I will too: What do you think? Do you believe in taking relationship advice from strangers?

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6 responses to “Baby, Bathwater

  1. Only strangers who hold babies for photo-ops, and yes, I think you should go out with the deli guy.

  2. lol…..i have enjoyed your writing so very much! about taking advice from strangers….yea, as long as you keep in mind they may be nuts! 🙂

  3. Although I do believe, truly and with every fiber of my miserable being, Mr. Rogers oft-stated dictum that “you are special”, I must disagree with his assertion that one can never go down the drain. Fred, as you now must know, one CAN go down the drain.

    Great post trybecca, thank you.

    Maybe you’ve already seen this post by Moonbeam McQueen but for any other lovesick readers of trybecca, please enjoy.

  4. My answer is no- it’s so easy to tell someone they deserve better, or they should wait three days to call someone, or whatever bs is popular at the time. You could run (write?) circles around either one of those boring bloggers. That stuff is drivel. Yours stays at the party bc it’s better. 🙂 just my opinion.

  5. Only if it was given by you… stranger!

  6. Great post – I actually came upon it doing a search about Mr. McFeely and Mr. Rogers. I doubt that now days a children’s program would allow one of its characters to have a name such as “Mr. McFeely”, but I do know that it’s some sort of family name of Fred Rogers — I think his full name is Fred McFeely Rogers (maybe his mothers’ maiden name?), and thereby came up with his delivery man’s name. I know, I know, boring stuff for a blog such as yours, but as I sat here writing, I thought you may actually be able to relate it somehow, regarding last names and like the guy who would only date blonds, ask your female readers if a guy’s last name would prevent them from marrying them, despite compatability? My last name has thousands of tired jokes surrounding it, and just last summer, a local car dealership of a family named “Menlove” sponsored my cousin and his buddies on a cross-country road trip. Because of the sponsor’s name, many people thought they were gay and that’s what the road trip was about. It was pretty funny. Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble.

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