Dear Ms. Behavior:
I am 17-year-old gay girl. I want to have muscles or at least just be fit for my senior year in high school and for college because I want to play basketball and probably many other sports. I do not want a whole lot of muscles though. I’m emailing you to get pointers and tips. Can you please help me?
Dear Elizabeth T:
You are hunting for a chinchilla on a zebra farm. Ms. Behavior generally handles matters far more delicate (and often less attractive) than muscles.
Please take yourself to the gym and try to locate a helpful young woman who can offer “pointers and tips.” If you like her a lot and have romantic feelings toward her, see if she is willing to teach you things and also to go on dates with you. If so, woo her with kindness and gifts and try to get her to become engaged to you. Once she is your wife (or even just your girlfriend), ask her to provide ongoing assistance with your development until you achieve the sleek physique you’ve always wanted. Remember to offer her as much of yourself as you can in return—whether your skills lie in math or car repair or legal matters—so that she knows you’re not just using her for her personal training skills.
After you’re involved with your fit new bride for four or five years, if you find she spends far too much time developing her gluteus maximus muscles or assisting middle-aged women to feel the burn at the expense of your cuddling time, then you may feel free to write to Ms. Behavior for advice.
(If the gym suggestion doesn’t work out for you, Ms. Behavior has heard a rumor that yoga can help you to become fit and strong without bulking up.)
Dear Ms. Behavior:
I started seeing a very interesting woman recently. We haven’t been intimate yet; we’re getting old, so that hasn’t been the priority. I’m wary about getting too close anyway, because of a rumor I’ve heard about Dee. Apparently, about five years ago, she followed her then-girlfriend into the supermarket during an argument and bit her girlfriend’s ear hard enough to draw blood. Dee got tossed in jail for the night. There are a couple of other legends about her, too.
None of these stories are confirmed by anyone I know, and it all seems hard to imagine. Meanwhile, I like this woman and she’s always been perfectly nice to me, but I’m not sure how to handle this. Do I ask her directly about the ear thing? Should I just break it off and run for the hills? Or do seniors get dispensation for past bad behavior?
Dear Needing Guidance:
The real question is not whether or not Dee bit her ex’s ear in the produce aisle at Stop ‘n Shop, but rather what that piece of information means to you. If a reliable friend had personally witnessed the ear chomping, would that scare you away from Dee? Or would you assume that Dee’s tooth just happened to get caught in her ex’s earring? What if her ex bit first, and Dee just chewed back in self-defense? Since you’ll probably never understand the circumstances of these events, the real question is probably how to assess whether or not Dee is now sane and trustworthy.
Normally, people don’t change very much. If Dee did bite her ex, that doesn’t mean she’ll bite you; however, it’s likely that an aggressive person will remain aggressive unless she’s had the benefit of intensive therapy or effective medication.
Seniors don’t get dispensation for bad behavior but sometimes they (or others) forget what they’ve done. Also, older people are often seen as “gentle” but this isn’t always true. Sometimes they just become smaller and less menacing or they forget what they learned in their karate classes so many years ago.
It may not be comfortable to ask Dee about the incidents you’ve heard about, but you may as well find out if she’s able to reasonably talk about herself and her past. If she can’t or won’t—or if she bares her teeth at you—that’s useful information, as you assess whether or not you’ll feel safe sleeping next to her as you grow even older.
© 2010 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.