Witnessing the Fall of Civilization

“B****, you better back off…”

The day before I wrote this was a surreal one for me. It seemed like an endless parade of the very worst of humanity. I have no idea what I had done to deserve VIP seating for this shameful display, but whatever it was, mea maxima culpa.

It was my day off, and yet I still had to make the drive to Seattle because I had a doctor’s appointment. Fortunately, the building where the doctor’s office is located has a parking garage, and I decided to take advantage of that rather than circle the building for blocks, in the blistering heat, in hopes of finding a more affordable space.

Much to my shock, I got to park at the space closest to the door which is, in turn, closest to the lobby elevators. Dear Husband calls this Doris Day parking, and who am I to pass that by? So, having suitably garaged the car, I made it to my appointment in record time.

Things didn’t start going sideways until after said appointment. I expected to breeze over to my car and toodle off about my business, as one does. But no.

You always see violence going on in parking garages in the movies and on TV. It makes you wonder why anyone would even consider entering one of these places, let alone leaving their valuable car therein. But I had never witnessed anything nefarious within one myself, so I walked into the parking garage without giving anything much thought. My car was right there, just waiting to be ignited. (Well, that’s why they call it an ignition, right?) I could hear a car approaching. That didn’t concern me very much, because, you know, that’s what cars do in these places.

So imagine my surprise when the vehicle in question came around the curve and stopped at a cock-eyed angle, completely blocking the driving lane, and… just sat there. It was creepy enough that I decided to kind of hunker down in my car with my doors locked and wait until this person moved on before I pulled out. I hadn’t been seen.

Then another car came along. The driver waited about 10 seconds, because why on earth wouldn’t car number 1 move under these circumstances? I mean, common sense, right?

Once it was clear that the driver of car 1 wasn’t a team player, the driver of car 2 laid on her horn. Since we were in the bowels of a concrete garage, this naturally echoed off all the walls to the point where none but the dead could have ignored it. The air was fairly vibrating with hornage. And yet car 1 didn’t budge.

Now I was a little concerned. Did this person have a heart attack or something? The building is a medical complex after all. I peeked over my seat. Should I get out and take a look?

Fortunately for me, before I could do this, car 1’s window rolled down, and the lady within screamed, “F*** YOU!!!”

I took that as a sign that she was in great shape, so I stayed put. “Okay, here we go,” I thought.

And then car 2’s window rolled down. She screamed, “Move your f***ing car!”

These were both middle aged women, alone in their nice cars, getting ready take off their earrings and throw down. This left me with nothing to do but clutch my pearls.  And then again with the horn. Enough already!

This prompted the lady from car 1 to leap out of the car. The blaring horn had my ears ringing, so I can’t be certain of what she said, but it was something along the lines of, “B****, you better back off…”

That would have been plenty for me. I’d have thrown it into reverse so fast I’d probably leave my torque converter bouncing down the ramp. GTFO first, call 911 later, you know? But not this lady.

She leaps out of car 2, slams the door and starts screaming. “You are in the f***ing way! Move your G****** car NOW!”

I was wishing I could employ the exit plan that car 2 had so stupidly decided against. Torque Converters can be replaced, right? But by that time my window of opportunity had disappeared. They were facing off right behind my car.

Never in my life have I seen two women punching each other in the face. Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life or something, but oh shit, they were whaling on each other, and I was freaked out. As they tumbled away from me, I heard a man shout, and saw him running toward the action. I took that opportunity to take off.

When I got to the ticket booth, I told the attendant what was going on, and he sighed and immediately reached for the phone. I suspect I’ll never find out what happened next, because I was not about to stick around to talk to the cops, especially since from my perspective, both of those fools were at fault.

Oh, and by the way, the lady in Car 2 was wearing scrubs. I know that our healthcare workers have been under an extraordinary amount of stress for the past few years, and I feel for them, but come on. I’m sure there are much easier ways to get fired than to show up in your own ER, having given as good as you got.

Feeling nauseous from the adrenaline dump, I then had to drive back home during rush hour. And people were road raging right and left. (Did I mention it was an extremely hot Tuesday afternoon?) People were tailgating and honking and swerving. I just tried to focus on getting home in one piece.

But before I got home, I needed to stop for gas, and since the station is right in front of a grocery store, I decided to go in and pick up a few things. Because, you know, what else could go wrong, right?

Wrong. I walked in, and there were no empty carts anywhere in the store. They were short staffed, and no one had gone out to collect the strays in the parking lot. People were pissed. I decided it was too darned hot to go back outside, so I just figured I’d put things in my grocery bags, and if anyone accused me of shoplifting, I’d try not to react like the women in the parking garage.

After I had picked up about half of my items, I noticed that a fresh-faced stock boy had left a line of carts full of things to be shelved in the middle of the aisle and had walked away. So I grabbed the cereal boxes out of the first cart, dumped them into the second cart, and pretty much ran away with the empty. People were eyeing my cart as if it were a porterhouse steak. It’s a jungle out there. What had come over me? I felt no sense of remorse for stealing from someone who is probably still in high school, and most likely couldn’t care less. And besides, to quote Ferris Bueller, “If I’m going to be caught, it’s not gonna be by a guy like that!”

As I wheeled the cart away, my items comfortably ensconced therein, I considered the irony of stealing a cart so as not to look like a shoplifter. I headed toward the deli section. On a day like this, I deserved elephant ears. Nothing less would do.

My timing was just abysmal that day, because I rounded the corner just as a very large man grabbed a tiny woman by the arm and spun her around. That was going to leave a mark. He bent down, inches from her face. His eyes were bulging, his face was red, and he spat out, “WE’RE TALKING ABOUT TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!!!”

Whatever that means. My instinct is always toward rescue, but I couldn’t have overpowered that guy. And besides, the woman just rolled her eyes at him as if she was used to such treatment. (If he’ll do that in a grocery store, she’s probably used to a lot more behind closed doors.)

I stood there at a distance, bearing wimpy witness, until he let her go, though. She just scoffed and walked away. I wish I could have told her that his behavior is unacceptable, but I feared escalating the situation. And she was an adult, after all. If she wanted rescuing, she could have run toward the cashiers and screamed bloody murder. If that had happened, I might have mowed him down with my stolen cart to increase her lead. Oops. But there’s only so much you can do for people.

I finished my shopping, feeling sad and tired and wanting nothing more than to go home to Dear Sane Husband.  Naturally, the checkout lines were long, so I just stood in queue with my eyes closed, waiting for this fresh hell to be over so that I could stuff my face with elephant ears on the drive. At home, I’d create a distraction from all the self-soothing carb crumbs covering the front of my shirt by giving a couple ears to DH. That would make him, effectively, an accomplice.

After finally getting past the cashier, I headed toward the exit, past the jewelry department, through women’s wear, feeling disgust that they are already trying to sell sweaters when it’s 90 degrees out. And then I walked into the alcove, the sliding doors within reach, my car within sight like a light at the end of a beastly tunnel, and that’s when I saw a guy off in the corner. He was conveniently located where he couldn’t be seen from inside the store. He was dressed in black from head to toe. He had a duffel bag that appeared to be at least three feet long. He was squatting down with his back to me, and he was rummaging through it as if he were on a critical mission.

I didn’t stick around to see the contents of that bag. I ran to my car, hopped in, pulled to the other side of the parking lot, and called the store. I asked for security. But what I got was voicemail. FFS, if someone is calling security, maybe there should be someone available to answer the phone! I called again and pressed zero and got some teenager who clearly hates her job. When I told her about the sketchy guy rummaging around in a big duffel bag in their north alcove, she just said, “Okay…”

Useless. I sat in the parking lot for a second, thinking how crazy the cops were going to think I was, because there’s no law against rummaging around in a duffel bag. But after the day I’d had, with its constant reminders of how uncivilized and hate-filled people have become since 2016, and how many innocent people have died because of it, I had no choice but to call 911.

After the usual explanations and descriptions, they said they’d send someone out, and I truly hope they did. They had my number if they had any questions, so I took myself out of firing range as I dove headlong into my elephant ears. Home has never been so sweet.

I spent the evening in a stupor, and that night I slept as if I had been hit with a brick. No one ever called, and I didn’t read about a mass shooting in women’s wear the next day. So maybe sometimes a duffel bag is just a duffel bag. Unfortunately, these days, you can never be too sure.

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Lightning Bolt Eyes

What’s your super power?

I don’t lose my cool very often, but when I do, I’m a little scary. I get that from my mother. She was a quiet woman who hated confrontation as much as I do, but there was this line that one dared not cross. If you did, lightning bolts would come out of her eyes, and you could easily be charred to a crisp.

Just like with me, it takes a lot to create that particular weather system. It usually has something to do with putting someone in danger, or picking on someone (human or animal) who cannot defend his or herself, or acting aggressively toward someone we love. That is not to be borne.

I’m not strong or menacing, but I’ve been known to make very large men turn pale and step away, hands raised. I don’t do anything physically. It’s just the eyes and the tone of voice. I mean business. Zap!

I doubt I could even create my lightning mode artificially. I don’t know from whence I conjure that particular power. It tends to disappear as quickly as it comes. In fact, I’m usually exhausted after the fact. But it’s highly effective. It always hits its target.

So behave yourself. You never know who has a super power.

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Sweet Relief

I felt as though 500 pounds had been lifted off my shoulders.

Unless you have no pulse at all, you are carrying stress within you, even as you read this. We all do. It’s part of modern life. It comes from a feeling of being overwhelmed, and thinking that you can’t cope with a situation.

According to Wikipedia, that font of all human knowledge, stress can increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, ulcers, and mental illnesses such as depression. So needless to say, stress is bad for you.

What I find particularly scary is how easily I fool myself into thinking I’ve gotten used to a certain level of anxiety. It’s as if I am coping simply because I’ve come to expect that I will have to wade through some crap, and that’s just the cost of doing business.

That doesn’t mean the stress, with all its toxic side effects, has disappeared. It just means that I’ve resigned myself to it. That’s problematic, because it also means that I’m no longer trying to do anything to relieve that stress. I’ve concluded that there’s no solution, so I just bathe in it, regardless of the pollution this brings into my world. After a while, I seem to forget it’s happening.

But every once in a while, some fortuitous thing occurs that removes a stressor from my life. That happened just this month. And the change within me has been profound. I started off by feeling slightly sick from the sheer release. Then I felt as though 500 pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. Freedom! Sweet relief.

And then there was the inevitable shock that I had been carrying that weight for so long without even realizing it. (Actually, I knew of about 50 pounds of it, but not the full 500.) It makes me wonder what other burdens I’m carrying. No wonder I’m so tired much of the time.

I think I need to work on being more aware of what my body is trying to tell me. I need to address issues whenever possible, even though I hate confrontation. I need to stop walking around with my head in the clouds and take better care of me.

In the meantime, I’m going to go do a happy dance to celebrate my newfound freedom. Woot!

Happy Dance

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Put Up or Shut Up

“A true friend should be able to have a respectful conversation.”

We are a country divided. We all know that much. Some of us don’t care. Some of us encourage it. Some of us aren’t quite so willing to let go of those who are on “the other side”.

I’d like to think I was in that third group. I really would. But I admit that I struggle. My opinions and beliefs are as strong as the next person’s. I don’t really understand people who don’t think the way I do.

I want to believe that my views could be swayed by hard evidence. But I wonder. Because I don’t think I’ve ever persuaded anyone else by presenting facts.

I don’t usually stop liking or loving people just because we don’t agree. I do my best to judge people on the content of their character. Are they kind? Do they mean well? Are they trying to be their best selves? These things are vitally important.

But every once in a while someone I care about will voice an opinion that horrifies me to the very marrow of my bones. It’s usually related to racism or intolerance or cruelty. And this leaves me in an awkward place.

I hate, hate, hate confrontation. I really do. So in these situations I can either a) ignore the comment and secretly lose respect for that person, b) wash that person right out of my hair, or c) speak up and risk losing that friendship, but maintain my integrity.

Well, I can’t choose option a. I’d develop ulcers. It’s just not in me to pretend something I don’t feel. Option b would certainly be the easiest route. Unfriending a person is so simple now that most of us only interact via social media. God knows people have done it to me. Even relatives. It doesn’t feel right to me. If I ever cared about someone, I kind of feel like I owe them more than just disappearing without explanation, without at least trying to understand why they feel the way they do. So that kind of forces me into option c.

Ugh. I loathe option c. It ties my stomach into knots. It makes me stew over what to say for hours. It makes me feel sick. It’s just so important. It’s a pivotal moment. I don’t want to screw it up. I try to do it in a decent one-on-one kind of way, rather than in a public forum. But it’s still hard.

I’ve had mixed results with option c. Sometimes we agree to disagree. But I feel better, at least, for having spoken up. Sometimes I’ve experienced blowback of epic proportions. That’s never fun. And it tends to result in the severing of the relationship. But as a wise man recently told me, “A true friend should be able to have a respectful conversation.”

As this country becomes ever more divided, those respectful conversations seem to be becoming fewer and farther between. They aren’t easy. But if we ever reach a point when they become impossible, I think we’ll have lost one of our most important qualities. We’ll have taken a really ugly step back from what it means to be human.

Locked Horns

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Part of Me Sleeps

This will come as no big surprise, but a very large part of me likes to avoid conflict, stress, and confrontation. Decades ago, I decided that the most effective way to not deal with the slings and arrows of life was to sleep. I absolutely love to sleep. My spirit animal is probably one of those fainting goats.

I wish there were some sort of internal switch that I could flick on and off so I could just check out when I’m overwhelmed. Kind of a Sleeping Beauty effect without having to rely on some evil witch to knock me out or some handsome fool to kiss me awake again. But then I’d probably sleep my life away. Heaven knows that I wouldn’t deem housework or errands to be adequate incentive to rise.

Even when I’m alert and functioning, in times of high anxiety I feel as if there’s a part of me that is sleeping. She wants to be left alone. She doesn’t have the slightest desire to engage. She curls up. She dreams. I’m amazed I wasn’t a thumb-sucker as a child.

Here lately I’ve been feeling the urge to wake that part of me up. I want her to come to the party. I want her to live life. She’s not happy about this. She doesn’t like change. But it’s time to grow up and face the world, and experience it.

I sense there are many adjustments I’m going to have to make in order to become fully conscious. I doubt it’s going to be easy. I’m definitely a work in progress. Wish me luck.

Sleeping beauty

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Obfuscation

I am very confused by people who don’t say what they mean and mean what they say. That seems to be the case with a lot of people here in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s why I’ll probably always feel like a stranger in a strange land as long as I live here. I prefer straight shooters.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Seattle area. I just seem to spend a lot of time befuddled by its residents.

But it’s not as if Seattleites have cornered the market on such behavior. As a matter of fact, it should feel quite normal to me. My mother was the poster child for obfuscation. She would do anything, absolutely anything, to avoid confrontation.

For example, when I was about 6 years old, she bought me a pair of Keds tennis shoes. I was a creative and precocious child, so my solution to this boring white expanse of canvas was to take a magic marker and write “dirty” words all over them. (At that age, it was probably words like “poop” or “doofus” or something.)

I was proud of those shoes. By wearing them, I felt like I was pushing the envelope. Living on the edge. I thought I was being rebellious and cool.

Needless to say, my mother was less enthusiastic about them. But rather than say, “Oh, hell no! You are not wearing those shoes in public!” she simply gritted her teeth and let me wear them, rather than enduring the tantrum that most likely would have ensued. (I must admit that I was a brat.)

Then one day, we were leaving a grocery store, and as I got into the back seat, one of my shoes fell off in the parking lot. I said, “Mommy, wait! My shoe fell off!”

She must have thought she had died and gone to heaven. She accelerated. She said, “Sorry, honey. I can’t stop. There are too many cars behind me.”

“Well, then pull over there, and I’ll run back and get it.”

“We’re in a hurry.”

“I’ll run.”

“Too late. We’re on the street now.”

I cried in frustration and confusion as I looked out the rear window, watching my beloved shoe get smaller in the distance.

From an adult perspective, I think my mother was being spineless in this instance. She missed a teaching moment when I first created those awful shoes. She could have talked to me about the use of words, and how they can hurt or offend some people. She could have talked about common courtesy. She could have reinforced some much-needed and ultimately comforting boundaries. We could have sat down together and covered those words over with colorful flowers or something.

Most of all, she could have avoided having me think that the adults in my life are strange, unpredictable, and incomprehensible. Those are scary thoughts when you’re a kid. Instead, she took the easy way out.

Oh, I could tell you a thousand stories about how I came to feel as though the inmates were running the asylum in my household. I spent most of my youth wading through lies and excuses and pure fantasies. The sands were constantly shifting beneath my feet.

This kind of behavior made me prize integrity and honesty and safety and trust above all other things, simply because I didn’t experience those qualities very much. I longed for a world that made sense.

That’s why I say what I mean and I mean what I say. You can count on that. I don’t ever want someone to be confused by me. I hate that feeling of being misunderstood, not only because it hurts on my end, but also because I know how baffling it is for others. I lived it.

So just say I can’t have the damned shoes, already. It will only be awkward for a second. And I’ll respect you a lot more.

Sneakers_over_water

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I Love Tall Guys

Heads up (literally) for one extremely biased blog post. I refuse to apologize. I adore tall men.

When I was in high school, I was very close to a set of twins, Ronnie and Donnie. They were 6’3”. They pretty much towered over everyone else at the school, and I sort of considered them to be my posse. Of course, the tables sometimes turned, like the time they lifted me up and deposited me in a large trash can. Good times.

About 15 years ago, I had a herniated disc that was proving to be unresponsive to all traditional treatment, but I didn’t relish the idea of any kind of surgery that close to my spinal cord. But the pain was excruciating. Something had to be done. As a last resort I turned to acupuncture.

I was nervous the first time I went into that office. Talk about bias. I was expecting a tiny, wizened Asian man. (I’ve seen too many movies.) In retrospect that was rather silly of me, because the man had a Polish last name. When he walked in, though, I was struck dumb, because he was 6’9”. He was also kind and intelligent and cured my herniated disc, to the utter disbelief of my neurologist, within two visits. I began to visit this man regularly for a whole variety of issues. He was a magician. He was the best doctor I’ve ever had. He could gently touch one of my vertebrae with two fingers, and within 20 minutes my whole spine was realigned. I had a mad crush on him. I still do, actually, but now he’s very happily married and 3100 miles away. Dammit.

But perhaps my best tall guy experience happened very recently. I was about to get into what I expected to be a very heated and potentially life-ruining confrontation. I felt sick. I had nightmares. But I also had help, in the form of one very lanky lawyer. I had met him before and he inspired confidence, but today he brought a coworker along with him. Each one of them was every bit as tall as my acupuncturist. Riding the elevator, flanked by these two gentlemen, I felt extremely tiny. And I’m a big girl. I’ve never felt so protected in my entire life.

Safety is a huge issue with me. I never met my father, so I didn’t grow up feeling as though someone strong had my back. I didn’t have a protector. I didn’t have an advocate. The handful of times I sat on a man’s lap as a child, it always felt uncomfortable and pedophilic and wrong.

So, walking into the heart of darkness with these two guys beside me, I imagined we were moving in slow motion (again, too many movies) with a soft breeze blowing my hair back, and the song “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background. These towering heroes had my best interests at heart. That’s another sensation I’ve rarely experienced. If the age difference hadn’t been even more extreme than the height difference, I’d have probably fallen in love with both of them on the spot.

Yup. When I see a tall man, I often have to resist the urge to climb up him like a koala in a eucalyptus tree. So far, though, I’ve managed to control myself. There’s no accounting for taste.

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Territorial Disputes

One of the best things about having two dogs is that you learn a great deal about the concept of territory. The alpha dog spends a lot of time defending his turf, and the beta dog uses up a great deal of energy demonstrating that he knows he’s not in charge. “I’m just a submissive visitor in your land, sire. Please don’t hurt me.”

Even though it may not be as blatant in humans, the concept can be quite similar when you encounter a hostile individual that for some reason you have to get along with. For example, if you are being trained at work by someone who resents your very existence, there are many ways to handle it, of course, but my thought process is as follows: This person has been a grumpy old troll for years, and nothing I do or say is going to change that. There’s really no point in wasting energy by getting into a confrontation with someone like that. The situation will remain the same. So I let them pee on their psychological fire hydrant until they get it out of their system. And usually after that we do fine.

While this person has now forever lost all my respect, I never show it, because I am crossing into their land. There will be taxes incurred. It’s best to just pay them and move on.

And yes, it galls me to have to put up with someone’s crap, but the older I get, the more I realize that I have to pick my battles. I have very little energy to spend on territorial disputes. I’m much more content letting others be the landlords, if it’s all that important to them. I just nod and say, “Yes, sir, whatever you say sir,” knowing full well that they have absolutely no control over my opinions or my thoughts, so in the end, my inner territory is completely and utterly mine.

I used to kind of feel sorry for beta dogs. They seem to be constantly picked on. But now I actually feel more sorry for the alphas of this world. It must be exhausting to have to spend every waking moment trying to control everything and everyone around you. Especially when all of us puppies tend to wander around the yard willy nilly the moment your back is turned. It has always been thus.

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The Power of Persuasion

This should be a very short entry, because I’m fairly convinced that I’ve never changed anyone’s mind about anything. Ever. I mean, EVER.

Wow. It feels good to admit that out loud. What a load off my shoulders!

If there were a 12 step program for people like me, I’d be at step two. Step one was “Admitting I’m powerless to persuade others”. Step two should probably be, “Stop wasting your time engaging in debates”.

And it’s true, I do debate a lot. Facebook is probably the last place on earth I should hang out. It’s bad enough arguing with people face to face, but when you can do it from the relative anonymity of cyberspace, people can get downright hostile.

Ironically, I hate confrontation. Absolutely despise it. It’s not like I’m going around getting into shouting matches with people or exchanging emotionally charged epithets. (And one rarely gets to use the word epithet, so I will give myself a moment of silence to appreciate the opportunity.)

But when I hear someone say something, well, stupid, I have a hard time not providing facts and logical counterpoints, and, yes, it’s true, a few well-placed opinions. But the only result I can really see from my actions, if I’m completely honest with myself, is a marked increase in my stress level.

I am finding this blog helpful, though, in terms of having a safe place to vent. But I need to totally detox from the anxiety roller coaster that I have constructed for myself. So I am hereby going to make an effort to live and let live.

But if you would care to help me in my emotional growth, you could start by trying to be right a little more often. Thanks in advance.

persuasion

(image credit: de-motivational-posters.com)

Come the Apocalypse, I Want to be with my Dog.

I have a new theory. The best possible thing that can happen when you are searching for a mate is a horrible first date, because then you can see how that person reacts under pressure. Stress separates the men from the boys. It cuts through all the surface bs and shows you what someone is truly made of. There are all sorts of ways of dealing with negativity, as evidenced by nature. All of these ways are legitimate, but only a few of them are viable in terms of a life partner in this modern world. Here are a few examples.

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The Shark. In times of great tension, the shark will not only attack the source of the problem, but will also turn on anyone and anything that happens to be in his vicinity, even members of its own family. When in the midst of this feeding frenzy, the shark has absolutely no regard for loyalty, and does not care about who is on his side. When in the presence of this type of fury, there is nothing you can do except prepare to be eaten. Frankly, I find the shark to be tragic and self-destructive. And the most depressing thing about the shark is he cannot see why this type of behavior is a problem. Somehow being eaten will become your fault. You’ll never feel completely safe with a shark.

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The Fainting Goat. Also known as the Myotonic Goat, this poor creature freezes in times of panic and keels over, thus rendering him utterly useless to himself or anyone else. I used to date one of these. Don’t ask me why.

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The Turtle. When the sh*t comes down and you’re with a turtle, you are on your own. He will pull himself into his shell and wait for the boogeyman to go away. Oh, he’ll protect himself all right, but he won’t confront anyone or anything and prefers to live in a state of denial. He’s completely resistant to change, which makes improvement impossible. Also, if you come by his house and he doesn’t feel like talking, he simply won’t come to the door. Who needs that?

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The Badger. No need to wait for a crisis situation when on a date with a badger. He’s going to be in a foul mood regardless, even if you could potentially be the best thing that ever happened to him. He’s never going to see it.

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The Porcupine. Now, here’s a guy who is prepared. He doesn’t want to be messed with, and has made sure that he won’t be. The problem is, since all he wants is to be left alone, he’ll never let you in.

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The Octopus. I have to admire this guy’s ability to avoid conflict. I like his stealth and intelligence. But if none of that works, he shoots ink. Do you want someone who’s going to throw stuff at you? No. That, and he tends to be clingy.

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Frilled Lizard. You’ve probably seen one of these guys on the National Geographic channel. When you piss one of them off, the frill on their neck expands and they’ll chase you on two feet. Yes, they look intimidating and they get the job done for the most part, but honestly, what would happen if you stood your ground with them? Not too much, I suspect. I think you’d win that confrontation. These guys are all sizzle and no steak.

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The Rattlesnake. The rattler is sort of a first strike kind of guy. He prefers to be the aggressor in anticipation of any possible antagonism you may or may not have in mind. Don’t hang out with the rattlesnake if you’re hoping for cozy get togethers with groups of friends.

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The Praying Mantis. Honestly? Do you really want to hang out with a guy who is so desperate for sex that he’s willing to go there with you even though he knows he’s going to get his head bitten off for his troubles? This guy is so focused on what he wants that he has no concept of the consequences.

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The Meerkat. I have to admit that I have a certain fondness for meerkats. They’re loyal. They’re family oriented, they’re protective, they’re cautious. But they’re also an emotional drain. They’re constantly anticipating trouble. They’re always on the lookout. Their watchword is paranoia. They never seem to relax.

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The Benobo. Scientists have dedicated their lives to studying benobos, because these cousins of ours seem to be totally devoid of aggression. They’re the hippies of the primate world. They’re all about free love and live and let live. I could see myself getting caught up in this lifestyle, but I suspect I’d get fat and complacent, and years would go by without my realizing it.

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The Dog. Dogs don’t seek fights, and in fact try to avoid them, but if you eff with them, they’ll take you out. I can respect that. They tend to restrict their aggression to those that deserve it. They’re loyal and protective, and usually generous and kind unless they’ve been abused. They’d much rather cuddle with you than argue, but they’ll do what they have to in order to protect themselves and the ones they love. A dog will always have your back. They also know how to heave a heavy sigh and release all tension. This, to me, is a very healthy and well-balanced approach to life. Yup, I’ll take a dog every time.

So next time you’re thrust into the dating world, pray for a flash flood or an earthquake or an armed robbery, because then you’ll know exactly what you’ve got on your hands. Disaster can save you a lot of time and heartache.