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Boyfriends’ Mothers, “Compassion,” and Les Misérables

1. My husband and I are religious, so that meant no messing around — at all — before we got married, which … obviously has pros and many cons, but after a year and a half I think we have the basics down. BUT. I just cannot get myself to give him a blow job. I can’t do it! It seems so gross to me. I feel bad because he’s gone down on me lots of times, and I’ve never returned the favor. We’ve talked about it and he’s really nice about it; he says he would like to try it out, but he doesn’t want me to do anything I’m not comfortable with. So part of me thinks, great! I’ll never have to worry about it, but the other part of me wants him to experience that. So, two questions: 1) should I worry about it at all, and 2) if yes, how can I make myself do it? It’s all salty down there … Please don’t say I don’t have to swallow. That’s not the only gross part to me.

A Lady: She has to give him a blow job, obviously, right?

A Dude: Well, first of all it is in no way obvious to to me that no-messing-around-before-marriage has any pros whatsoever. Second of all, is it actually “all salty” down there?

A Lady: What do you mean? Yeah, sperms are kinda salty.

A Dude: But is a penis, like, more salty than human skin, because we’re pillars of salt who turned to look back at Sodom or whatever? She’s clearly not saying sperms are salty, she’s saying his nether-regions are salty.

A Lady: Okay, well the overall bouquet is some combination of penis skin and sperm.

A Dude: Oh, this is interesting. 

A Lady: The skin is usually normal-salty, though I guess it can be sweatier than, like, arm skin, because it’s all in your drawers all the time, and sweat is salty.

A Dude: Right. So is it the case here that maybe he needs to wash up better or something? Maybe she should give him a blow job in the shower. IF that is the major gross point for this person. If not … then, well, I think these two have just made a horrible, horrible mistake.

A Lady: Hang on, I think this marriage can be saved. Remember when we were talking about the kinds of blow jobs?

A Dude: No.

A Lady: We were talking about this the other day. So there is the only-mouth all-the-way beej.

A Dude: Oh yeah we did talk about this.

A Lady: Then there is . . .

A Dude: What, licking and kissing?

A Lady: Just quiet snuggling. That’s the other kind, snuggling. No, there’s hand on the shaft, mouth on the tip.

A Dude: Where are we going with this?

A Lady: Okay the point is (1) if you have never done a blow job and you think all mouth is the only way to go you might like to know there are options, and (2) I forgot you can also use your hand near the top and do mouth stuff further down the shaft, which, in any case, the shaft is the least weird part, so can she try to basically jack him off while doing some limited licking and kissing stuff away from the tip, in the shower, Sam I am. And then it’s right there and sometimes you get inspired by proximity.

A Dude: I’m still worried about these two. If she can get zen about it and learn to think of blow jobs (in whatever style they settle on) as an extension of kissing all over her husband or whatever, then maybe she’ll like it . . . so yeah, if she can get herself into that zone (which he clearly gets himself in when going down on her, because frankly many of the same principles apply) . . . I dunno the really important thing is to not marry someone who wants to do sex things you don’t want to do.

A Lady: Thank you, Dan Savage.

A Dude: Just because Dan Savage said it doesn’t mean it’s . . . what?

A Lady: In a perfect world where we all recognized our desires and their relative priority, it would be perfect if obsolete advice. And in this dumb world, it is still pretty good advice, but sometimes you accidentally marry someone who thinks dicks are gross, and there you are.

A Dude: And the joke’s on you. Sigh.

A Lady: Quick question. Like, she has to give him a blow job, duh.

A Dude: You said it, I didn’t say it.

A Lady: But why did I say that? I don’t think I’d say she HAS to have anal sex. Probably.

A Dude: Right. I think she doesn’t have to give blowjobs, but to answer her question? Yes. Yes, she has to worry about it.

2. So tell me about ‘Les Misérables.’ What does it have to do with Occupy? And what does it have to do with Christianity? And have you ever seen a tongue as pearly and perfect as Hugh’s? This is the advice I want: Should I see it again in theaters? Should I buy it? Should I re-shoot it, shot-for-shot, in my living room? Look, I have a pedicure that looks like the French flag. It really affected me. Vive la France.

A Lady: Did you see this? I didn’t see it. I saw Django? And Lincoln?

A Dude: I didn’t see Les Miserables. Like, i’ve never seen the musical either

A Lady: I’ve seen the ads on bus stops? For both the musical and the movie.

A Dude: And yet this letter writer seems nice and I say she should go for it. Yes to all the things.

A Lady: BUT ALSO what DOES it have to do with Occupy and Christianity? Occupy France! Wait. Shit

A Dude: Because this is Ask A Lady & A Pretentious Twat, I want to remind everyone to watch Raymond Bernard’s four-and-a-half hour 1934 adaptation of Les Misérables, because ugh it is so good, that’s all I’ve got. Sorry.

A Lady: Yeah. Pedicure sounds cute. Pix pls. Toes or GTFO.

3. I’m a lady in my early twenties, currently in grad school, and many of my friends are in a similar situation. Maybe this is just how life works at this stage in the game, but lately I can’t help but feel like several of my otherwise fabulous lady friends have been making decisions I’m struggling to understand. I know that none of us are exempt from life’s occasional (or frequent) fuck-ups, and I know I sure as hell don’t have it all figured out, but when one friend thinks marrying her mentally unstable and extremely needy boyfriend of less than a year is a great solution, and another recently decided to move back to the middle of nowhere to live with the military-school-employed boyfriend she’s had doubts about for months instead of pursuing her own artistic goals … what’s a lady to do?

How do I manage to remain supportive and compassionate when all I want to do is bean them with the nearest weighty volume and give them a clear, bulleted summary of why what they’re doing seems irrational and, to me at least, like the absolute wrong decision? (Of course their positions are much more complex than that, and I’m definitely not saying I have all the answers.) I love my friends so much, and I wish I could get behind them 100%, but I think I need some serious advice on how to do that when every instinct I have is screaming that these choices aren’t what’s going to make them happy. Please help?

A Lady: Early 20s makes me want to be like THROW IT BACK.

A Dude: I am confused about what’s bad about working for a military school, is that not a reasonable job?

A Lady: You can never tell your friends anything about how to manage their shit. Liferule #1.

A Dude: Resolved.

A Dude: I also want to point out that we have absolutely no way to give advice about what her friends should do because letterwriter is what we call and unreliable narrator. “Thinks marrying her mentally unstable and extremely needy boyfriend of less than a year is a great solution.” That sets off my unreliable narrator alarm like nuts.

A Lady: Tell me more, tell me more/like did he have a car.

A Dude: Oh god, it’s an all-musical-theater episode. Do we have advice to give her? Besides chill out? EARLY TWENTIES THROW IT BACK?

A Lady: I mean, there could be advice on HOW to chill out. Like, when you see me about to do something intolerable, how do you deal?

A Dude: I just let the baby touch the fire. None of these babies are actually going to fall into the fire, and that’s why I’m so hung up on this letterwriter’s attitude. Even though entering a terrible marriage with a terrible person is, I guess, kind of falling into the fire, not just touching it. But I strongly suspect that she’s exaggerating the awfulness of her friends’ dudes.

A Lady: Also when has this conversation ever happened: friend 1) Imma get married friend 2) Don’t get married friend 1) K cool. All you can really do is live a just and wise life. All you can do is not get wifed by idiots and live as an example of joy in serving that rightful order which leaves idiots unwifed.

A Dude: So she should read Epictetus or what?

A Lady: Yes.

4. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with my boyfriend’s mom. She’s a perfectly nice lady who’s always asking me to do things with her one-on-one (go to lunch, see a movie, etc.) that I don’t really have any interest in or time for. I feel like I barely have enough time in the week to see my friends or relax on my own, so why should I cut into that precious time by hanging out with someone 30 years my senior who I don’t have a lot in common with? I almost always accept her invitations, because I don’t want to be rude or blow her off, and I feel some pressure from my boyfriend to see her, too. But he’s not the one who has to put the time in! Can I start making excuses to avoid her? Or just accept that putting in parent time is part of being a good girlfriend/person? Thank you for your help.

A Dude: I like this one because it’s clearly from my ex-girlfriend. That one hit close to home for me. My mom was always wanting to hang out with the former future Mrs. Dude.

A Lady: Your mom is awesome.

A Dude: I know you like my mom. My mom likes you. My mom also liked my ex and was inviting her to hang all the time. And I was always like “do it! it’ll be fun!” And i thought she (the ex) was all about it, too. But then she went ahead and wrote to The Hairpin and now I’m all second-guessy. In other words this is all about me and I apologize to the letterwriter for THAT. I will say I don’t like this writer’s attitude about the mom being “30 years her senior.” I mean we’re all adults here. We can be friends with older people. Get over that aspect of it.

A Lady: I bet you LW is in early 20s Throw It Back, so 30 years her senior is like 29.

A Dude: Also can we just say “be glad his mom wants to hang out with you”? “Your boyfriend’s mom seems to like you, and I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that’s not a standard thing”?

A Lady: His mom is probably cooler than he is. 65 percent of moms are cooler than the people they are moms of.

A Dude: My mom is cooler than me. I bet my ex still hangs out with her.

A Lady: Dump him, date his mom.

5. Why does everyone on ‘Intervention’ have a boyfriend and I don’t? I’m serious. The episodes of ‘Intervention’ where the subjects aren’t stealing drugs or money from their significant others are the exception, not the rule. And yet these people stay together! WTF? When I read about the incest twins in Dear Prudence, I thought, that’s it. This is definitive proof that I am the only person on earth who can’t get a boyfriend. When I was younger and more insecure I totally swallowed all the self-help baloney about how you have to be happy with yourself before you can be with someone else. This is clearly a lie. Plenty of terrible people are in relationships. (I don’t mean people with addictions or incest twins are terrible; they just present extra challenges, and yet they are loved by someone.)

I have no illusions about my great beauty or charm, but I take care of myself, I’m smart, independent, financially secure, funny (or at least have a sense of humor about things), I’m not a drug addict, I care about pets and small children and stuff … what gives?? I’ve had a few boyfriends over the years, but I’m definitely the more perpetually single type than the other way around. While I’m mostly happy I’d also like to try being in a long-term relationship, because why not? I feel like that’s probably one of life’s biggest experiences/challenges. Am I not codependent enough? How does one become codependent? Maybe my breath stinks and no one told me.

A Dude: What is the question? Yeah, she could totally date someone on Intervention.

A Lady: I don’t think . . .

A Dude: Actually that’s probably not true. Very very few junkies actually make it on TV. But she could definitely date a junkie no problem.

A Lady: I should have given her one of my junkie boyfriends. I don’t think they would have noticed.

A Dude: I’m curious why caring about pets and small children should get you a boyfriend. I don’t think it matters if her breath stinks.

A Lady: I’m spiraling here. I’m totally codependent and I can’t get a boyfriend EITHER.

A Dude: That’s definitely wrong.

A Lady: Well, I can’t get a new boyfriend for like another three hours, because I’m in the office and no one else is here. So that’s bad enough. Also, “one of life’s biggest experiences/challenges.” Hm. I think it is more one of life’s medium experiences. This girl is rubbing me the wrong way. I really don’t know what to say, she was just trying to be funny. What is up?

A Dude: Yeah, I feel bad.

A Lady: Maybe you should go out with her.

A Dude: I doubt it a lot, no offense? But I think it’s that there is something funny about “I’d like to try a long-term relationship, where do I sign up?” Insofar as that’s not the way things work. Also, though, where you sign up is on the internet. If all you want is a long-term relationship with literally whomever then just go on the internet and say that, and don’t be weird about it.

A Lady: Was that the question? Or was it “how do I become more codependent?” Because I know the answer! And it is “get God and some dude’s cock confused.”

A Dude: Big sighs all around.

A Lady: Hey, the words kind of sound alike. It’s an easy mistake to make.


A Dude and A Lady are two of several rotating dudes and ladies. Do you have a question for either or both of them?

Photo via Flickr/zoetnet


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