The Metamorphosis Restyled: A Newly Single Man

So your wife left you, huh? You poor thing! Here, let’s dry those tears and get you started on the path to feeling better… and you know what that means: it’s makeover time.

Don’t worry, this won’t hurt. In fact, if you’re like most men, you’ll come out of this break-up relatively unscathed. And if you follow these steps, you’ll find an ersatz wifey to clean up after your messes in no time.*

  1. The makeover can’t begin until you finally reach the realization that she’s gone. To get to that point, you have to spend a weekend getting smashing drunk and telling everyone you encounter what a terrible, horrible, awful bitch you were married to. It’s not attractive, but: Camaraderie. It’ll come in handy.
  2. Use this camaraderie to ask all your friends if they know any nice girls. Realize everyone you know is still married. Download Tinder “just to see what’s out there.” Take a lot of selfies in poorly lit places and swipe right on every picture. Just in case.
  3. While you’re still not really “feeling it” — still sleeping on your friend’s couch because you trust that at any moment, she’ll let you back in — stop taking care of yourself. Spend all your free time either at work or browsing Tumblr to get ideas on what men should look like nowadays.
  4. Stop cutting your hair.
  5. Grow out your facial hair. Beards and man buns are in, you know, and all that money you’ll save on hair cuts you can invest elsewhere.
  6. Like in sneakers. Nike Frees. The brighter and more colorful, the better.
  7. And jeans. Dark wash. Just a smidgen too big.
  8. And white Hanes T-shirts and a couple of button-downs. If you’re the Oxford type at work, make these “casual” shirts the flannel variety.
  9. Join a rock climbing gym, where you will go and hang out on the weekends once you discover that alcohol isn’t all it’s cracked up to be now that you’re middle-aged.
  10. Realize that shit, you’re middle-aged. Dial down the age limit on Tinder. Swipe right but never ever contact anyone.
  11. Get a tattoo. A sleeve.
  12. Start rolling up the sleeves on your flannel to show off your tattoos.
  13. Let your beard grow as long as you can. Learn how to use hair gel and beard oil.
  14. Find ways to show off the abs and biceps you’ve got now that you’re climbing. Lift up the hem of your Hanes to wipe the sweat off your brow. Switch out your gym Tees for tank tops. Be confident in your belief that someone somewhere has got to be paying attention to you.
  15. Start drinking green juice and eating chia seeds and ordering the vegan option extra loudly in every restaurant you go to.
  16. Learn guitar. Or Tango. Or basket weaving. Whatever it is that attracts the ladies nowadays.
  17. Hit on all your female co-workers. And babysitters. Basically any woman who crosses your path. One of them will say yes.
  18. After she says yes, take her to her place. If you can, take pictures. On your phone. Make sure your ex can discover them, sit back and wait for the lawyer’s papers.
  19. Pack up all your flannels, say goodbye to your friend and his uber-annoyed wife, and move directly from their couch to your new girlfriend’s bed.
  20. Complain to everyone about how your ex keeps asking for alimony. Tell your new girl how terrible your ex was and how you had never ever done anything to deserve her insane bitchiness. Beg for sympathy without ever taking any responsibility. Bathe in it. Sympathetic righteousness gives a glow unlike any other.
  21. With all that money you’re saving by living off your new girlfriend, buy a bike. Not just any bike. A lightweight fixxie. White. With thin tires and no gears that costs about the same as a car.
  22. Delete Tinder. Neglect Tumblr.
  23. Shave.
  24. Get a hair cut.
  25. Throw away the flannels.
  26. Get a new pair of Nike Frees, this time black.
  27. Cancel the rock climbing gym. You never have time for that anymore anyway.
  28. Order a big, fat juicy steak. And a liter of beer. Now that you’re partnered up, realize your vanity really was taking up a lot of time and energy that you’d rather expend doing other things. Like planning exotic vacations with your new girl.
  29. Slip back into the old routine of being taken care of. Leave your laundry everywhere. Show up late for dinner. Remind your new girl how much you hated it when your ex nagged.

Congratulations, you’ve come full circle. You’re the same old asshole your ex left. This time, though, don’t fuck it up.

*Though not based on my own personal experience, 6 of 6 new divorcees I have met in the last year have gone through exactly this process. I can tell you: it works. Unfortunately.


What Men Should Never Say to a Single Mom

A couple of weeks ago, a guy I knew announced he was splitting from his wife. It shouldn’t have surprised me. Dude had been flirty for months but since we hardly knew each other, I’d assumed that I was reading these situations incorrectly (not impossible, given that women only recognize flirtation 1/3 of the time) or that he was maybe a little unclear on the touchy-feely boundaries (also not impossible, given that I am American and people in Germany seem to think that means that I like to be touched. I don’t. You put your hand on my arm and I will burn a hole in it with my eyes until you remove it.) This guy really liked to put his hand on my arm. And the small of my back. And ask me if I was dating anyone. Clearly, he was expressing interest but I was too caught up in his being married to notice.

When I finally did notice it, I asked, “How long have you been talking about splitting up?” Because I have ethics and before I can even look at a guy to determine if he’s cute or not, I have to know that he is not attached to someone else. I’m told I’m unusual that way, but whatever. If you’re with someone else, you got no business trying to get in my business.

“Six months,” he said.

They say it takes three years to get over a divorce. Six months would still be a rebound. But rebounds can be fun, right?

“Why are you splitting up?” I asked him.

“It’s her decision. I have no idea.”

Ruh-roh. This could go both ways — she could have someone new in her life or he could be completely tone deaf during their arguments. So I asked her why they were splitting up and she very nicely but not without a lot of hurt in her voice explained that she wasn’t happy with him and that she knew she never could be and that the decision had been a long time coming. Fair enough.

Before I could get interested, though, I needed to know more about their situation so we sat down to chat. I was expecting something similar to what the ex had said, perhaps a confession that he’d found her with another guy. Instead, he proceeded to call his ex an asshole, claim that he had done absolutely nothing wrong in the marriage, and accuse her of being out for his money. Lots of anger. But that wasn’t what bugged me most. It was how familiar it all sounded.

You see, just the week before, I’d sat down with a couple of dads I knew who’d split from their baby mamas so that I could get their perspective on things. Because while in some ways, Diva’s dad is a nice fixture in her life, his presence in it brings me a lot of unnecessary headaches and I’m trying to iron out the wrinkles in the way least detrimental to diva. I thought maybe getting a man’s perspective would help me understand what needed to be done and since her dad and I can’t communicate, maybe these guys would give me some good advice.

After I asked them how they envisioned their roles in their kids’ lives and how best to attain those ideal roles, it became clear very quickly that a) these dads had zero idea of what their baby mamas were juggling at home in terms of responsibilities, that b) they thought the baby mamas were only out for their money, and c) that they personally had done nothing wrong to lead to the demise of the relationship because d) the baby mamas were batshit insane and completely illogical. Also, there was the big statement of entitlement on their parts: “I made this child with my sperm, therefore I am entitled to it.”

It shouldn’t have surprised me. Those are the exact sentiments Herr Lederhosen has. And while I agree wholeheartedly with all the psychologists who say that children need to have their fathers in their lives, I cannot abide men who lack the self-awareness to say “Here’s how I fucked up, this is my role in this situation and here’s what I’m doing to make it better.” I cannot abide any more men who diminish the difficulties that mothers, both single and married, face when raising a child or children while juggling a job. Nor can I ever tolerate hearing again that your child’s mother is “acting crazy for no reason.”

No, she is not acting crazy. You’re not listening.

That’s ultimately what I told that dude with the interest. No one is completely innocent when a marriage comes apart. It might be her request to divorce — and the last stat I read said 2/3 of divorces are initiated by the women because men are too lazy to move out — but that doesn’t mean you didn’t fuck up in some way. That way could be that you couldn’t love her the way she needed to be loved but calling her an asshole (or a Tussi or a bitch, insert your favorite degrading curse here) ain’t going to change that. Sorry, sweets, but it just makes you look bad.

Next time you’re trying to impress the divorcee single mom, admit your mistakes. Show how active you are in your kid’s life. For heaven’s sake do not disparage your ex wife to everyone. Save that for your best friend or your mom.

And here’s the last part, which I can’t emphasize enough: instead of hammering on and on about what sucks in your relationship with your ex and how that impacts your visits with your child, ask her what you can do to make life easier on her. Because nothing is sexier than a guy who, despite all the hurt, actually acknowledges the difficulties of the mom raising his kid mostly alone and does something to lighten that load.

#Dailydeutsch Eierfeier

This one I’m making up, which is a true feat given my inability to even make a German children’s book rhyme when I read it aloud. I may be getting better at German but my wit and alliteration are at its minimum in this language. I’m no Nein Quarterly.

But I’m especially proud of coming up with Eierfeier.

When the folks over at Uberlin blog asked on Twitter if one could translate Sausage Fest as Wurst Fest, I found myself struggling to find the right replacement. See, I tried hard once to get a German friend to understand the concept of a sausage fest using that translation and it went nowhere. This is the same friend I tried explaining a cock block to — a concept well understood but seemingly untranslatable. And the same with trying to translate a meat market as a Metzgerei or Fleischerei (for the record, it’s die Fleischbeschau). My friend had tried to give me a suitable German phrase to substitute it but nothing really had the same impact in that way that few sexually-connoted slang words do in German.

And since Germans don’t usually refer to their penises as their Wuerstchen (do English speakers actually refer to them as sausages?), I went through all sorts of possibilities in the whole five seconds it took to Tweet back with the most suitable replacement, including rehashing the meaning of the Gliederzug before arriving at Eierfeier — a balls party. Because for whatever reason, I’m finding that it’s only kids who talk about their penises. Grown men seem to prefer discussing their balls more, though why I will never know. Plus, it’s reminiscent a bit of the idea of balls-to-the-wall, which, let’s be honest, is often what ladies’ night and other assorted sausage fests often feel like.

#dailydeutsch: Schmierpapier

One of my neighbors is a professional tennis player. And by professional I mean he’s a tennis pro at a local club, not that he actually plays on a circuit or anything.

You know all the cliches about tennis pros? He fits them to a tee. He gets tan from traveling to all the tennis events in Australia and Miami and then comes back to Germany and turns his skin orange with self-tanner to maintain the bronzed look. He thinks nylon running pants are the height of good fashion. He looks an awful lot like Ivan in “The Squid and the Whale,” actually, with the same hairstyle and everything.

And because he’s my upstairs neighbor and the walls/ceilings/floors here are pretty thin, I think I can safely say he sleeps with quite a few of his clients. Just like Ivan.

Now, normally I’m all about acceptance. Everyone makes his or her own life choices and who am I to judge, right? If you feel good in your skin, that’s all that matters. Except this dude has a really bad habit of being a super sleaze when he’s talking to me. This isn’t necessarily unusual for men to do, I guess because of either their inability to be gentlemen or my propensity for making vulgar jokes, but I have learned from far too many encounters with super sleazes to always make these jokes in safe company. You know, like with my female friends. Who speak English. Not with guys who could mistake my frequent use of the word fuck to be some sort of attempt at flirtation (which we all know I stink at). So I’d say it’s them, not me.

Super sleaze’s last try at coming on to me came right after his trip to the US. Like all Germans, he wanted to express his confusion at the Americans and their choices (me too, buddy, me too). And part of his confusion came from what, in his mind, was the typical American woman. Bottle-blonde, botoxed, big-busomed and always, always in pairs on the arms of wealthy gray hairs. His opinion of American women was that we are all super skinny but big breasted gold diggers. Um, ok? Maybe in South Beach? Or LA? But, um, maybe not? I raised one unwaxed eyebrow and suddenly, he pulls out this gem of a pick-up line:

“So what are you doing here, all alone in Germany, if you could be stepping out of a Lamborghini in Miami?”

Wait a minute, did you just compare me to a Playboy bunny who has no qualms about sleeping with an elderly Hugh Hefner if it means she’s set for life? Is this really what you think of me? He went on to explain in a smoky bar voice, wink wink, that he meant this as a compliment on my appearance.

What brand of low self-esteem does this dude think I have, if he expects that comparing me to a bimbo is the best way to get me into his apartment? Argh.

In the words of one of my other neighbors: a real schmierpapier, this schmuck. Though it really means something like a slimeball (based on my friend’s definition), I originally thought of the German propensity for curses involving caca and translated to mean a real piece of toilet paper. Fitting, I think, even if it’s not entirely accurate.

**Note to men in my vicinity: If you use bad pick-up lines, I’m going to call you out on them on this here blog. You’ve been warned.

Flexing Your English Fitness

I’ll admit it: I’m a gym rat. I started working out with regularity right after I left my husband on the recommendation of a friend who told me about the awesome day care service at a local gym. Before that, I’d been a yoga junkie, but with no one to look after the babe while my ass was up in the air saluting the sun, I converted to a fitness freak.

You wouldn’t necessarily know it to look at me, but thanks to a series of injuries that may have put me off running for good, I’m at the gym now nearly every single day. Of course, when the sun is shining, I’d much rather be running laps around the FC’s training grounds, waiting for the footballers to take their shirts off while dodging duck poop, but since that ain’t often in the cards for me anymore, I’m limited to getting my cardio kicks from classes with names like Body Combat and Body Attack! Because, you know, becoming healthy is similar to going to war. Plus, the class titles are English so they are like a million times more effective than if they were called Koerper Kampf or something to that end.

Add to the win-win title a load of flashing colored lights and instructors screaming Mo’ Mo’ Mo’ along with Usher and it feels a lot like being at a disco on the Ring on a Saturday night replete with bared shoulders and see-through pants but without the empty calories. And just like at the disco, at my gym, if you’re lucky, someone will ask you to get naked with him or her after class — one of the great perks of having a sauna at the gym and German unabashedness. But I digress.

Point is, these classes, fun though they may be, have been extremely difficult for me to get through in recent weeks. It’s not just the broken foot giving me a hard time, though the teacher does like to remind me every week that it’s okay to take it easy while coming off an injury. No, the thing doing me in at these classes is the music. First, Les Mills released their new soundtrack for the quarterly choreography and they included a new track by Flo Rida titled “Whistle.”

Now, Les Mills is not known for choosing awesome songs to pump iron to (Nickelback anyone?), but I like their classes and the music sure beats the death metal playing at a lot of Cross Fit gyms. Still, they decided this go-round that it’s a-ok to have a room full of sweaty, scandily-clad people listen to a dude giving instructions on how to blow his whistle.

Les Mills comes out of New Zealand and last time I checked, Kiwis spoke English, so I know these choreographers know exactly what’s going on in that song. The problem is that so far, not a single one of the instructors at my gym seem to have gotten that message. So each week, some very well-chiseled triathlete will get up on stage in front of dozens of people and do some stomach crunches while innocently singing along with Flo Rida, “you just put your lips together / and you come real close / can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby.” It’s a bit ridiculous when it’s the twenty-something blonde woman singing, but I lose it when it’s the forty-something gay guy telling people to blow his whistle. I feel sorry for him, I really do, but I’m too busy laughing at the dude’s naivete to show him any pity.

I mean, it’s not like he’s intentionally trying to come on to his students, not like these amazing aerobics instructors out of Japan, who have found the best thing to happen to aerobics since Jazzercise, Zuiikin’ English:

Ever since The Honourable Husband introduced me to these Learn English aerobics videos, not only have I been on a mad hunt to find myself a Fraeulein sports bra, I’ve been dying for a dude to tell me, “You look sensational in that dress,” and “I want us to be more than just friends.” At least in those cases, the guy would know exactly what he’s saying as he sings along.

Not like the instructors at my gym, who seem to be completely clueless about what’s actually happening in the songs they play — and even more clueless as to why I act like a pre-pubescent who’s just found her dad’s Playboy in the closet, giggling uncontrollably and unable to make eye contact. Case in point: Tuesday’s spinning class, in which the fireman who leads the class (and whose English is so terrible he can’t even understand me when I speak German) put on a 90s dirty rap mix as we practiced mountain climbing. We kicked off the climb with Juvenile’s “Back that Ass Up,” came out of the saddle (not a metaphor!) to “Whoop There It Is!” and peaked to L’il Kim’s “How Many Licks.”

Now, I like old school dirty rap as much as the next girl (my first CD was by 2 Live Crew, replete with Explicit Lyrics sticker on it). I have even been known to karaoke those songs after a shot or ten of bourbon. But this was all just too much for me to handle. I literally fell off my bike laughing by the time the cunnilingus karaoke came on. Of course, fireman and the rest of the Germs in the class were able to maintain their composure, remaining completely clueless as to what on earth my problem was. And at the end of the class, when the wheels stopped spinning and the disco lights were turned down, the instructor even came over to me and apologized for the difficult ride. Because RIGHT, the workout was too intense — that was why I fell off my bike.

I thought about explaining the real reason. And then I realized I don’t know the German word for cunnilingus so why bother, right? If the song’s got a good hook, do we really need to understand all the words? In the meantime, I’m switching my spinning class to Thursdays. The American instructor for that class only plays instrumentals. No laughing allowed.

#DailyDeutsch Diatribes

Trying something new on the blog: a post a week to help you learn German with me. Since we’re all advanced speakers, you should know these are only going to be words for, ahem, advanced people. Advanced of age. Of maturity. People who have no qualms about snickering over silly gaffes and ridiculous slang. Who don’t mind me using words like schnitzel or schnauzer (Jesus, that image is just, ugh, get out of my mind! And also, be thankful I don’t have Photoshop to provide you with the image in my mind and I can instead just give you this little cuddle love).

schnauzerIf you follow me via Facebook, you’d already know today’s #Dailydeutsch would come from this ridiculous thread on the troll-filled Toytown forum titled, “Why are German girls so rude and impolite?” It’s a fun read if you’ve got tolerance for the kind of conversation among dullards that goes something like “I’m trying to date online and no one’s responding to me so it’s clearly not something I’m doing wrong and I can blame it on a whole people so….” followed by “that’s not true at all because this one person I met once proved that wrong and OP you sound like an ass.”

While it’s true that the OP does sound like an ass who’s really having difficulty meeting chicks, the tips he gets for meeting “girls” after his assy-ness has been verified, are positively hysterical. Tip one: go to a yoga class at the VHS. Tip two: socialize with people you do not want to date.

And the best tip, from which today’s new German word comes: “…get hammered and go dancing, go crazy and simply take the next best chick regardless her looks and have fun. … ‘Resteficken’ is a valid method…”

Resteficken. I guess that’s what When You Live In Cologne says the Venus Celler on a Saturday a.m. is good for? Consider yourselves informed.

On Not Asking Guys Out

Ages ago, I posted a call for confidence boosters on my personal Facebook page. I was thinking of it as a more general, give me your best mantra to get through the tough times kind of call for proposals, but what I got in response was all dating-relevant. Tips like “You’re cute. Go for it” and “Everybody’s afraid of rejection but that gets them nowhere” were followed by “Try online dating. It worked for me.”

Of course, my friends are much more eloquent than that, but you get the gist. What could have been a Facebook wall full of platitudes that could help me power through a shitty run turned into a crowd-sourced push toward asking a guy out. Which initially pissed me off, because why was everyone just assuming I was after a date and not after a running mantra or some sort of Viagra for my impotent self-confidence? But I took the ball and rolled with it, shortly thereafter posting this blog about how I was having difficulty (to put it mildly) with the whole notion that it may be true that in Germany women do all the work leading up to a possible date.

After a whole lot of nonsense and back-and-forths with friends much more confident than myself about how to actually wrangle a date, I finally decided to attempt to be a German woman and ask a guy out.

I won’t go into the details here but I will just note that the whole “being rendered mute in dude’s presence” thing I wrote about in the other blog post did not ever change. It still hasn’t changed and it’s been forfuckingever since this happened. And it certainly didn’t suddenly change while I was attempting to ask him out.

Here’s what’s weird, though. Something in me changed (albeit briefly). Because immediately after I did the asking (like seriously hours later), I hopped a train for Copenhagen (nothing says I’m interested like asking a guy on a date and then saying oh, yeah, by the way, it’ll have to be in a week or so since I’m leaving town). And suddenly, strangely, men were interested in me. I must’ve been giving off serious pheromones because literally, on the train ride north, the guy sitting next to me was interested in getting to know me better (I wasn’t). And then some random guy I was interviewing was very interested in getting to know me better (I wasn’t). And the streak continued for like a week straight, where everywhere I went, some dude was asking for my phone number. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Everywhere I went when the Diva was not with me, some dude was asking for my phone number (nothing serves as an invisible cloaking device as well as a stroller).

And that’s when I was like, woah, wait a minute! I thought the ladies had to do all the work here?!? Where did all these men come from? And why are they asking me for my phone number?

I had bought into a myth perpetuated, I believe, to allow the women to feel some modicum of control. But it’s a scam, I tell you, this whole “woman on top” fantasy here in the Fatherland. It’s part of the Germany-specific fairy tale version of feminism that makes women believe they have some sort of equal-opportunity say in their dating lives. And it’s this exact scam that has kept many lovely Teutonic ladies single way past their prime. Not because they’re as terrified as I am of asking. But because the guys they ask are too soft to be the right guys for such strong women and the women figure this out right-quick and drop those dudes in search of a more equal partner (whom they never find because they are too busy asking the wrong assholes out and their equal is actually doing the asking himself).

I decided shortly after I tried to ask the dude out that I was having none of this fairy tale anymore. If someone wants me, he can let me know. Though I’m sure there are respectful gentlemen being asked out, if even at the beginning of the relationship, a man cannot be bothered to muster the courage to chat a lady up, the likelihood that guy’s going to see his future wifey as a replacement for his mom is pretty high. At least in my random sampling of the one relationship I’ve been in during my entire 30+ year existence, that was the case. And I’m too old to take care of another person who’s not pulling his own weight anymore. I don’t want the power imbalance that comes with someone thinking I wear the non-gender-specific pants in the family when really I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing most of the time. I would very much prefer a partner who contributes equally to the relationship and I think for me, at least at this point, that’s going to have to be shown through a little wooing on his part.

Then again, since I have turned down every single man who’s come within ten feet of me in the last year, I may not be the best expert on the whole gender dynamic aspect of dating. What say you, readers? Who should do the asking?