Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: assertiveness

Trucker Bob from Nashville

I had pre-booked my American Airlines seat for the aisle seat, row 17, seat D.  When I arrived at it, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was seated next to an attractive woman in her thirties in middle seat E. She was reading a fashion magazine, and dressed in a funky blue and white striped cotton dress. I imagined her to be a model travelling to Nashville to star in a country music video.

“I should strike up a conversation with her,” I thought.

This was surely a bright spot in what was the worst scheduled flight of my life – leaving LAX at 11PM, a stopover in Nashville at 4AM, and arriving at LGA at 9AM. American AAdvantage Frequent Flier Program, what has become of you? Was this the only available flight that I can take on the most travelled route in your system, Los Angeles to New York? Did you give away too many free miles, and now, after years of excess, are you punishing your own customers?

I glanced over to see if the woman in seat E was wearing a ring. She was not.

The window seat to her left, seat F, was for now, empty.   Across the center aisle, there were another three seats in the row.  In window seat A was a young college male college student.  In middle seat B, was his girlfriend.   In aisle seat C, directly across from mine, sat a gentleman with a grey beard.

The center aisle was busy with boarding passengers.  An older woman with dyed-red hair appeared from nowhere.

“Are you here alone?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“My husband and I were split up into different rows,” she sputtered, pointing to the bearded gentleman across the center aisle. “There were no seats together,”

The bearded man smiled at me, shyly.

“I have an aisle seat a few rows backs,” continued the wife. “Would you mind if we switched so I can be closer to my husband?  It’s another aisle seat.  It shouldn’t make any difference to you.”

I glanced over at the beautiful woman to my left.  She was reading some article in her fashion magazine about “Pleasing Your Man in Bed.” I did NOT want to move my seat. No, not at all.

The wife hovered over me and I started to cave.

“Let’s be honest,” I thought. “You’re never going to talk to this beautiful woman sitting next to you. What does it really matter where you sit?”

“Fine,” I told the wife. “I’ll switch with you.”

“Thank you so much! You’re so nice!” she said.

I grabbed my black Everlast carry-on bag from overhead, took one more quick glance at the beautiful woman, and retreated to the back of the plane, passing the restless, angry, bitter, sleepy coach travelers, all vainly struggling to shove their too-large carry-ons into the too-small overhead compartments.

It wasn’t until I reached my new seat that I understand my horrible, terrible mistake. I had just traded in my perfect aisle seat next to the hottest woman on the flight for an aisle seat in the back, one row in front of the bathroom. My seatmate was a sweaty, overweight man, barely able to contain his hefty body in his narrow seat.

“How ya doin’?” he asked in a Southern accent. His arm completely extended over the common arm rest and his elbow practically poked me in the ribs.

“I’m Bob!” he said.

Let me be perfectly clear. I don’t believe that larger-sized people should be penalized for their weight, or be forced to pay for two seats on an airplane. No, the villain is the airline industry. Airline seats are designed to fit twelve year old Japanese girls, forcing Americans to buy business class. I’m thin, and I can hardly fit comfortably in my coach seat. And God help me if the person in front of me slides his seat back. Flying coach today is reminiscent of how my poor European immigrant family came to this country by ship in 1917.

Bob was not only a big man. He was a garrulous Southerner, way too friendly for my East Coast self.

“You flying home?” he asked, eating some peanuts he had hidden in his pocket. Bob was about fifty, with thinning black hair and a tiny nose like a rabbit.

“Yeah,” I said, limiting myself to one syllable.

“Me too,” he said. “Just came to LA to attend my Grandma’s birthday party at the nursing home by my sister’s house in Reseda. Of course, my sister said it wasn’t necessary for me to come. But I told her, this is my beloved grandma too! I’m coming faster than a Navy private in a hooker’s hooch!”

I reached into my lime green khakis and took out my iPhone. I made believe that I was sending important messages back to my office. In truth, I was on Twitter, asking for advice on how to survive this flight.

I stood up to stretch, and looked over at my old God-given seat, the one that I had reserved weeks earlier, and was now occupied by the red-haired woman.

There was now a passenger in row 17, seat A, the window seat next to the beautiful woman with the fashion magazine. He was a strong-jawed man with a cowboy hat. He was confidently chatting it up with her. I could hear her laughing.

“I see you’re using one of those new phones,” said Bob, jolting me out of my thoughts. “You should save the battery until the flight.”

“I’ll be OK,” I said.

“Are you sure?” he replied. “I work as a trucker. So recently, I’m driving with my buddy, Duke, who is always playing these games on his phone. One day, he’s playing so much that his battery runs out. And it just happens that on that day, his wife calls him and can’t reach him, so she gets all freaked out, thinking the truck crashed and he got killed. So when we get back home, his wife is waiting for him, and whoa, did she kick his ass that night!”

“Uh, yeah, those mobile games are pretty popular,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“You play these games on the phone?” he asked.

“Not really. I mostly read stuff on the phone.”

“Yeah. I like reading. You ever read “In Cold Blood?”

“No, but I know what it is. I saw the movie.”

“Read the book.”

“I’ll check it out,” I said, hoping that this conversation was reaching the end.

I closed my eyes, and faked that I was asleep. The plane departed LAX.  Bob really fell asleep, his head resting on my shoulder.

“Why am I such a sucker?” I asked myself as we flew over Nevada. “Why did I switch my perfectly good seat for this awful one? Sure, I was being nice. But “nice” is now the biggest insult in the word, according to some article I recently read, worse being called an asshole. At least an asshole “knows what he wants.  Soon, the beautiful woman and the cowboy will be sneaking off back here, into the bathroom together, having mile high sex, and I’ll be hearing it all from my seat!  And if I wasn’t such a fool, that could have been ME!  Instead, I am stuck with… Bob.”

Bob woke up from his nap, drooling on my shirt. He saw that I was awake, and was in a talkative mood.

“Hey, where in Nashville do you live?”

“I live in New York. I’m just stopping over in Nashville.”

“Oh. New York. New York. If you can’t make it there, you can’t make it anywhere. Except it is a bad place to drive a truck.”

I closed my eyes and faked sleeping for a second time.

We landed in Nashville. The moment the light flashed green, I was up, the seatbelt flying open. I grabbed my black Everlast carry-on bag from the overhead compartment.

“See ya, “ I told Bob, and ran like hell, pushing aside old and pregnant women to exit first.

I had ninety minutes to kill in the Nashville airport, so I did a little exploring. It was a nice airport, making LGA look like a Greyhound terminal. It was clean, bright, and country music stars like Randy Travis greeted you on the loudspeaker, suggesting you visit the local tourist spots, like the zoo.

I thought about my experience with Bob on the plane, and how I frequently sabotage my own potential. I was about to attend a blogging conference in a few days. I promised myself not to make the same mistake that I just did on the plane when I attended this conference. I needed to focus on networking with the right people, those who can get me work, success, or advancement, the beautiful and talented artists and entrepreneurs of the world — not the Trucker Bobs of the world, those who offer me nothing but useless conversation, wasting my precious time.   If the beautiful woman on the plane symbolized success and power, Trucker Bob represented despair.

There was an announcement on the speaker system, interrupting Shania Twain talking about Nashville’s famous music clubs. It was a voice from American Airlines.

“Would the passenger who just flew in from Los Angeles, flight 17, and who has the black Everlast carry-on bag, please come to Gate 2. You have the wrong bag.”

I looked down at my bag. This WAS my bag. Or at least I thought so, until I opened it. Inside, I found an assortment of XL tank-tops, dirty crew socks, a razor, and a copy of “In Cold Blood.”

When I arrived at Gate 2, I saw Bob standing with an American Airlines attendant. I handed him his bag.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, blushing, worried that Bob would think I stole his bag. “Who would guess that we would have identical carry-on bags?”

“No problem,” he laughed, smiling goofily. “Honest mistake.”

The attendant said my bag was already in the lost and found. I should wait there while she retrieved my bag. Bob remained behind, standing at my side.

“You don’t have to wait for me,” I told Bob.

“No problem,” he said. “I just want to make sure you get your bag, like I got mine.”

“Thank you,” I replied.

“It’s such a weird mistake,” I said, trying to be friendly.

“Yeah, like one of those Alfred Hitchcock films where there are switched suitcases, and one of them is from a spy.”

“Exactly!” I laughed, surprised that Bob knew that reference. “Do you like Hitchcock films?”

“Of course,” he said, and told me his favorites. “Rear Window. Strangers on a Train. Psycho.”

“Which is the movie with the mixed up suitcases?” I asked, not remembering.

“North by Northwest?” he asked.

“No, definitely not,” I said. “I’m not even sure it happened in a Hitchcock film. Maybe we are thinking of Charade, which wasn’t by Hitchcock.”

“Maybe.”

I glanced at the overhead clock to make sure I was doing OK with time. I still had 45 minutes.

“Hey, you want to grab a cup of coffee and apple fritter before you take off for New York?” asked Bob. “I know a good place in the terminal.”

“Sure.”

Bob and I went to have a cup of coffee and apple fritter.

“Why’d you take such a bad flight to New York? Nashville at 4AM?” he asked, munching on his treat.

“Stupid American Airlines frequent flier program. This was the only flight I can get.”

He understood. It was the same reason he was taking the flight.

“I can’t believe how bad American Airlines has become,” said Bob. “They used to be the best!”

“The reason I still fly American is that my father would ONLY take American Airlines when he flew. He thought they were a class act.”

“Mine too!”

“We’re American Airlines…. Doing what we do best.”

We both sang the long-running commercial jingle from American Airlines. We laughed. We bonded by mocking American Airlines, and how far they’ve fallen, suggesting that their only hope was to be bought by some Chinese airline. We talked about our fathers. I learned that Bob was divorced in 2000. I promised him that I would read “In Cold Blood.” I showed him how to use Twitter.

It was the best forty-five minutes I’ve ever had in the Nashville airport.

What Would Sophia Do?

Is it being in New York, with all the tough-talking characters?  Is it being on my own?  Is it out of necessity?  Whatever the reason, I seem to be growing some balls here in New York. 

I think I can both blame AND praise Sophia.  She has bigger balls than me, so when I am with her in Los Angeles, I pull back.  I even go the other away to counteract her, so the scales are balanced.  But — I have seen how she does it, how she deals with people in an assertive manner, and wins the respect of others.  Who needs therapy?  I can learn from the master!  When I get myself into a situation that requires some cojones, I have a model to look up to.  I can ask myself, “What would Sophia do?”

Yesterday morning, I started my day with breakfast at my local Dominican-owned coffee shop.  I ordered the breakfast special — a cholesterol-laden mess that comes with coffee and orange juice for — $3.99!  It probably wasn’t good for my health, but — $3.99!  After I gulped down my meal, I went to pay.  I had a long subway ride to Coney Island to meet Sarah.  I handed the owner by Mastercard.

“Your bill was $3.99.  There is a $10 minimum on credit cards.”

I suddenly remembered that in these days of credit cards and Metrocards, I didn’t have any cash on me.

“I’m sorry,” I replied.  “I don’t have any cash.”

He pointed to a greasy-looking ATM machine standing by the men’s room.

I told him that I didn’t have my ATYM card.  I was from out of state.  This was true, but even if I did have my card, I wouldn’t want to get the “service charge” from this ATM, conveniently owned by “Giovanni Brothers, Inc.”

“I don’t have my ATM card.” I said.

“You’ll have to buy something or I’m going to have to charge your card ten dollars.”

“Why’s that?”

“Cause they charge me for using the credit card.  The breakfast was only $3.99.  It would be like giving you the meal for free.”

Although I knew this was partly bullshit, I was feeling sympathy for him. He was a hard-working restaurant owner.  He probably didn’t have much money to his name. 

I had a debate with myself.

“Of course, I don’t have any money either, but I bet he doesn’t even have a wii-fit.  And a $3.99 breakfast special IS an amazing deal.  Especially in New York.  Should I just buy a tuna fish sandwich and a diet coke to go?”

I forced my brain to stop kvetching.  Did I call my therapist?  No.  I did something better.  I asked myself, “What would Sophia do?”

“Listen,” I told the owner, “You have two choices.  You can charge my Mastercard the $3.99 or I can walk home — I’m just a few blocks away — and I will bring you back the $3.99.”

He caved in.  He charged my card $3.99, cursing under his breath.

Before I left, I thanked him, apologized, and told him that I will bring cash the next time.  I’m still polite.

At the Mermaid Parade, I met up with Sarah and a few of her friends she knows from Flickr, all of them amazing photographers.  They had come to the event to get some cool shots.  I’m not much of a photographer, but I felt competitive, and tried to impress Sarah with my photos.  As she ran around with her cool camera, I tried to find shots that interested me.  Surprising, most of them ended up being shots of women’s asses.

I came across some girls who were hardly wearing anything at all.  I tried to grab a photo of them surreptitiously, but I ended up chopping their heads off in the frame.

“What would Sophia do?”

I called out to them, like I was a paparazzi  photographing Paris Hilton in Hollywood.”

“Hey, ladies!” I cried out. “You look gorgeous.  Can I take a photo of you?  I love your smiles!”

It worked.  I mean, I’ve done this before a million times with YOU on your blogs and Twitter, but NEVER in real life!”

Women DO respond to flattery in real life TOO!

On the way home from Brooklyn, I took the bus.  It was crowded, so I had to stand with several other passengers.  All of the seats were filled, except for one open window seat.  It was part of a two seater.  The outer seat was occupied by a tough-looking guy, a bald black man wearing intimidating Wesley Snipes sunglasses.  He was sitting with his legs wide open, sending out the non-verbal message that “this seat next to me is NOT available.”

No one dared make a move.

For two bus stops, I thought about the rudeness of this dude.  And why was everyone so scared of him?  Even if this guy was someone who would kill you in the alleyway, the chances are slim that he is going to shoot you, during daylight, in the middle of a crowded city bus?

“What would Sophia do?”

Remember, Sophia is a Republican.  Republicans always get a bad rap for being “racist” and “anti-minority.”  Actually, I’ve never met anyone who treats everyone as equally as Sophia does. She doesn’t resort to stereotypes.  She does not get pushed around by the wealthy in Beverly Hills or the aggressive-looking black guy on the city bus. 

There is no way Sophia would let this asshole get away with taking up two seats.

I adjusted my crotch, and John Wayned over to him.  I could feel the eyes of the other passengers burning a hole in the back of my shirt.  I think they were trying to figure out their next move.  Should they stop me?  Should they pull the emergency cord?  Should they jump out the window, women and children first?

“Excuse me, sir,” I said to him, trying to disarm him with kindness.  “Can I get in there?”

“Oh yeah,” he said in a deep voice, sliding his legs over to allow me in.  “Sorry about that.”

After I sat down, I also had to open my legs a little wider, since I could feel my balls growing.

Not Saving the Rainforests

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I might as well end the week with another tale of assertiveness gone wild. 

Sophia has a cold, so I went to Whole Foods to buy some chicken soup.  It must be “Green” month at Whole Foods because at the check-out stand, there were numerous displays and posters about energy-saving and the environment.  Instead of the organic chocolate bars lined up as impulse buys as you wait, they had  energy-saving lightbulbs in green packages.   Gift cards were displayed that bought you “wind-powered” energy.   I’ll have to go back a second time to read how these cards work.  Do you fan yourself with them in the summer?

After serving myself the soup from their self-help soup vats in the deli department, I stood on line to pay.  There was a bearded man in front of me buying organic garbanzo beans.  The very pretty check-out girl rang him up, and then asked him, “Would you like to donate a dollar to the Whole Foods Rainforest Campaign?” (or something like that)

“Of course,” he answered.

His answer bugged me.  Why did he answer so quickly?  Does he even know what this campaign is about?  Is he assuming that just because Whole Foods is doing it, that it is worthy?  Shouldn’t he ask to see the literature first?  How much of the dollar actually goes to the rainforest?  Would he be so eager to give money if the girl wasn’t so pretty? 

“Thank you for you donation,” said the girl.  “Your dollar will save 230 acres of the Amazonian rainforest.” (or something like that)

S**t!  Why did she have to say that?  How can anyone — after hearing that — say no?  If I dare no, it is like I am personally destroying 230 acres of the essential rainforest. 

It was now my turn.  She rang up my chicken soup, then looked at me with her large green eyes.

“Would you like to… blah blah…” 

I didn’t need to hear the rest because I knew what she was saying.  I knew what she was thinking.

She was thinking, “Oh, here is a smart-looking man with glasses who surely knows about the problems with the rainforests of the world and must be pretty well-off if he is shopping at Whole Foods, so he would look like a real loser if he didn’t give a measly dollar as a donation.”

I was about to say, “Of course,” when my new assertiveness training took hold.  Why am I giving a dollar to this charity right now?  Do I really WANT to or am I being a pushover?  You know what?… I can be my own man.   Screw the rainforest.   Why not be a little selfish today?  I’m going to take that dollar and… buy myself a lottery ticket!

“I’m sorry.  Not today,” I told the check-out girl, referring to the donation.

“That’s fine,” she replied, her green eyes squinting at me with disappointment and seething hate.

Now, I realize that many of my readers are environmentally-conscious and believe that the rainforests are very important.  The world’s rainforests are currently disappearing at a rate of 6000 acres every hour (this is about 4000 football fields per hour).

Well, screw you too!  I’m gonna be a mega-millionaire on Saturday!

(editor’s note:  the author does love the rainforests and will donate 10% 8% of his mega-millions to charity)

Man vs. Boy

duel2.jpg

Later today, I’ll be walking into therapy with my head held high.   Yesterday, I took an important step towards being assertive.   I spoke up for myself.  I stood my ground, despite the aggressiveness of my opponent.

It all started when I entered my local coffee shop, a business named Hawaii Coffee or Aloha Coffee — I’m not entirely sure, because although the coffee shop has been opened for a year and a half, they still haven’t placed a sign outside.  Inside, the walls are brightly decorated with photos of surfers and real ukuleles, all there to remind you that the shop is Hawaiian-themed.  It is a decent-looking place, but they should have saved some of the money they spent on the kitschy ukuleles, and bought a sign instead.

The “Hawaiian” coffee shop have several different types of coffee, including their “famous” Hawaiian Kona coffee which, ironically, is their worst-tasting coffee.  But there are free re-fills and free wi-fi, so I can’t complain too much.

Usually the shop is empty when I come in, but today it was packed — with mothers and kids.  It was Martin Luther King Day, so the schools were closed, and all the mothers were schlepping their kids around as they did their shopping.  All the tables were already taken.  The only available seating was in the corner — two cushioned chairs with a large table in front.  An eleven year old boy was kneeling in front of the table, playing with a toy construction set, similar to the Erector Set I had when I was a boy.   There were dozens of metal pieces strewn all over the table.  His mother was seated elsewhere, gossiping with her friends.

I bought a cup of coffee and headed over to the chairs.

“Are you using this chair?” I asked the Kid, smiling at him.

“Yes,” he quickly answered.

I made note that he was kneeling on the floor.

“How about this other chair?”  I asked.

“I need that chair, too.”

“Why’s that?”

“I need a lot of SPACE!” he announced.  He went back to playing with his metal, a Donald Trump in the making.  He smashed the pieces together as if he was building a Transformer.

“Screw it,” I said to myself, and decided to go outside.  I would drink my coffee while sitting on top of my car.  Then I stopped.  What the hell was I doing?  This was an eleven year old kid!  I retraced my steps back to the Kid.  I leaned down to face him.

“You’re not using these chairs right now, and you can’t use both of them, so I’m going to take one of them, OK?”

I probably shouldn’t have asked his permission because it just made him more adamant.

“I need the space!”

Let me remind you that during this entire exchange, his mother didn’t even look over once.

“You can have your space,” I told the annoying Kid.  “But I’m going to take this empty chair and move it over HERE, so I can sit.”

“Fine!”

I slid the chair several feet away from the kid.   I sat and enjoyed my coffee.  The Kid went back to destroying his metallic city.  The mother kept on gabbing.

I was proud of myself.  I didn’t back down against my young, but worthy, nemesis.

It was a moment to remember.

Now, who’s going to take me on next?!

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:   Why I Write

When I Grow Up to be a Man

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A few months before we got married, Sophia and I went to a dinner at at Chinese restaurant with a large group of people.  As we left the restaurant, the two of us had an odd conversation about one of the guests who took the last shrimp from the large banquet serving plate.

Sophia:  "If you wanted the last shrimp, why didn’t you take it?"

Me:  "There are three types of people.  Those who take the last shrimp on the plate, those who take the shrimp after asking, and those who never take it, even when offered." 

Sophia:  "And you’re the last one?"

Me:  "Exactly."

Sophia:  "If you wanted the shrimp, you should have just taken it."

Me:  "I know it sounds stupid.  I would feel too guilty.  It would be like everyone is looking at me and thinking I’m selfish."

Sophia:  "That’s ridiculous."

Me:  "I know.  I’m just like… my parents."

It’s something that always upset me about my parents, mostly because I’m the same way.  Always eager to help out, but too wimpy to take the last shrimp.

I’ve grown a lot more assertive in the past few years, mostly because I’ve seen how Sophia goes after what she wants, and rather than people hating her, they actually respect her.  Maybe that’s because she mostly uses her natural power to help others first.

Today, I still hesitate taking that last shrimp, but at least I might actually take it — once I ask everyone four or five times if they didn’t want it first.

Recently, I’ve been working on the Flash design and content of a online "Stress Management" course.  (You can see a sample here, under ABOUT — but remember, I’m still working on it).  One of the chapters is about "Assertiveness and Stress" and how a lack of assertiveness can add to a person’s anxiety.  One of the most common problems with non-assertive people is their inability to say "No" to people. 

For an interesting perspective on this, read Megan’s post about how she’s finally learning to say "No" to her co-workers’ constant asking for help. 

I thought of the importance of assertiveness while watching the aftermath of the Katrina disaster.   I asked myself, how would I act if I were there?  Would I be heroic and help others?  Would I take off on my own?  Or would I go to the convention center and sit there for days, helplessly waiting for help to come?   I think we all saw what being helpless gets you.

One of the hard lessons of life is that you can’t always wait for someone to help you.   I know I’ve missed opportunities in my own life by assuming that things were going to come to me — like women and jobs.  Sometimes I wonder how I even had enough nerve to propose to Sophia (unless I’m remembering it wrong, Sophia, and you proposed to me?)

Lizriz wrote a post complaining about the lack of "balls" in men today.  They seem to have trouble asking women out and even paying for the bill on a date. 

I’ve mentioned before that Sophia and I had some problems because our basic natures went against the traditional gender roles.  She is the more assertive one, and vice versa.  We loved each other because of this, but we also fought about it constantly.  When it comes down to it, women still want a man who is "manly" and a man wants a woman who acts "womanly" — whatever that means.

Last week, Sophia and I went to an outdoor concert of Latin music.   During intermission, we bought some coffee.  There was a ledge along the wall where we put our styrofoam coffee cups down so we could add cream and sugar.   At the same time, a young girl was walking along the ledge, coming towards us.  Her mother, a well-dressed woman of about thirty-five, a Beverly Hills type, was holding her daughter’s hand, guiding her along.

Daughter:  "Coming through!  Coming through!"

I lifted up my cup so the girl could pass.  Sophia was in the middle of pouring creamer into her cup.

Sophia:  "One second."

Beverly Hills:  "She needs to come through.  There’s no stopping her."

Daughter:  "Coming through!  Coming through!"

Sophia:  "You’ll need to wait a second, I’m almost done." 

Beverly Hills:  "You don’t have to be rude to my daughter."

Sophia:  "I’m not being rude.  You’re being rude.  You can tell your daughter to wait a second."

Meanwhile, I was tensing up.  I hate conflict.  It’s the reason I don’t take that last shrimp.  It’s the reason when Tatyana and ACG were arguing about looting in one of my posts earlier this week, I threw in a sex joke just to defuse it.

Beverly Hills:  (to daughter)  "Let’s go.  "We don’t have to stay here and hear this." 

They left.

Five minutes later, Sophia and I were at our seats, drinking the coffee and waiting for the show to begin.  All of a sudden, I see the Beverly Hills Lady walking towards us.  I can feel my blood pressure rising.   I figured she was coming to say something to Sophia, but instead she stops in front of me.

Beverly Hills:  "You know… you really can do A LOT better."

My body went into overdrive.  I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to say.  I came up with a lame joke, making believe I misunderstood her. 

Me:  "You mean these seats?  I think they’re pretty good."

The woman took off.  Sophia turned to me.

Sophia:  "She just insulted me… in front of everyone.  Why didn’t you say something?"

Me:  "I did.  I said, "You mean these seats?"  I showed her how ridiculous she sounded."

Sophia:  "No, you didn’t.  You just wimped out."

Me:  "She’s the one who looks like an asshole if she had to come here and say that." 

Sophia:  "She mocked me.  Why don’t you say something to her?"

Me:  "Like what?"

Sophia:  "For one thing.  You can say the same thing about how you feel about rude spoiled children that you did on your own blog."

Me:  "Look, it’s too late.  I don’t even know where she is anymore."

Sophia:  "She’s over there.  About ten rows up, in the center."

Me:  "Aw, Sophia, it’s a big nothing.  I’m not going to make a big scene.  Forget it." 

Sophia:  "Wimp."

Me:  "I’m a lover, not a fighter."

Sophia glared at me.  If we were still together, it was a look that would mean there wouldn’t be ANY loving for this lover for a long time.   Since we were already separated, it just meant that she wouldn’t speak to me for two days.

OK, bloggers, I’m ready for the attacks on my manhood, especially after I told you how Sophia always comes to my rescue.  At least I now know what flowers to send all of you as apologies for you disappointment in me — from the information you gave me during the last post.   I can buy all the flowers at the same place I did for Sophia.

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