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Prints Charming

I'm a 20-something guy with a hobby of taking pictures of myself with female friends. Nobody objected in high school, and collecting memories of girls who were kind to me brought me comfort, since girls rarely talk to me. Now, in the workplace, everything's complicated. Although some friendly female co-workers agreed to be in my photos, someone complained, and my supervisor said I could be fired for sexual harassment. I was depressed, and lonelier than ever, then I discovered volunteering. I began asking to photograph some of the female volunteers; some, near strangers, but 60 years from now, will I care? The following week, the coordinator said I was making other volunteers uncomfortable. She asked me to delete the photos, but I only pretended to because I'd done nothing wrong I'm just a normal guy taking photos with female friends. Now she says I can't bring my camera to future events. How do I continue without getting in trouble? Misunderstood

"I'm just a normal guy who enjoys collecting fingernail clippings to remember women who've been nice to me. Uh ... 'Scuse me, ma'am. I know you don't know me, but would you mind if I took a swab of your DNA?"

Quit kidding yourself. You aren't making friends, you're gathering specimens. You call this a "hobby of taking pictures" and refer to yourself as "just a normal guy." Sorry, "normal" is going home to a wife or girlfriend, not a photo of a girl sitting next to you at a bus stop in college. I say this as somebody who's quick to precede "normal" with "boringly," and who sees "everybody's doing it" as no reason everybody else should be doing it, too. The problem is, women don't find your behavior normal, they find it creepy. Sure, maybe they agree to be in the picture, but probably a good many of them picture it as a prelude to ending up in a 55-gallon drum in your garage.

If you like being a loner, fine. Go live with the grizzlies. Otherwise, cut the charade. Alleviating loneliness with pictures of people is like giving a homeless guy a picture of a cheeseburger, and telling him, "I'll be back later with a picture of an apartment!" Your problem isn't that you might get rejected but that you absolutely refuse to be. Yes, but what if some girl laughs at you or tells you to bug off? What if? A ball of lightning will not rise from the floor tile and reduce you to a pile of ash. Lock up the camera and make yourself talk to 100 people, men and women, and you'll see. It's really pretty simple. Express interest. Ask people about themselves, and not just if they'd mind standing a little more to the left.

This little program is sure to start out hard and unfun. But, is being blown off, or the mere prospect of it, really so devastating that it's less painful to sentence yourself to 60-plus years of creeping over photos of the life you wish you'd had? There are some real dorks out there who have wives, friends and girlfriends (some, all at the same time). The difference between you and them? They had the guts to try to mouth-breathe their way into the girls' lives. If you're going to try, you'd better hop to it. Creepy at 23 can be adorably awkward, and it is probably fixable. Creepy at 43 is probably permanent, which isn't to say there's no hope for friends or girlfriends providing you aren't too lazy to inflate them.

Adventures in babysettling

I'm 25, and was into the guy I was dating until he told me he had a young daughter. I've tried to be accepting, and even bought her presents to show I'm comfortable with this. Truthfully, I'm not, and wasn't the last time I dated a single dad. Is this weird considering I want kids of my own someday? Not The Momma

Like dating alone isn't challenging enough. I know! Let's add the snake pit and the alligators! Just a warmup for the vindictive ex-wife and the bedwetting child of divorce. (If only you were out of the way, Mommy and Daddy might get back together.) What fun! Maybe you can have your first date on Dr. Phil. And maybe you'll have to, because, with Daddy's alimony payments, the free pre-show snacks might be all the fine dining he can afford. Even if the reality isn't so bleak, there's a big difference between wanting a family someday and joining one already in progress. Remember, you're single, 25 and at the peak of your hotitude. Maybe what you need to accept is that it's time to be shopping for something black and skimpy to show how much you care, not the Ultimate Fairy Princess Kit to show how much you wish you did.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail adviceamy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

  • If you like being a loner, fine. Go live with the grizzlies. Otherwise, cut the charade.

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