Ms. Behavior®: Pay Attention…and the Dry Cleaning Bill


Dear Ms. Behavior:

I met a woman about three months ago who seemed too good to be true. Cindy started out to be the most attentive girlfriend ever. She sent me love letters and flowers three or four times a week. She wrote incredible poems, declaring her passion for me, gave me long backrubs, and has been a sweet and generous lover. We are both interested in film and language and architecture, and we laugh a lot together.

The problem is that Cindy has seemed somewhat distant for the past couple of weeks. When I ask her about it, she tells me that she has a lot on her mind from work. I know that she has been stressed about her job lately, but WHAT ABOUT ME? What happened to all the cards and letters and flowers? What happened to all of the attention? Is this what just happens in a relationship? Is it wrong to expect the passion to stay? If only I had not tasted the sweet nectar of love, I would not be impaled by the sword of longing.

-Hot Potato

Dear Hot Potato:

“Tasted the sweet nectar of love”?  “Impaled by the sword of Longing”? If you are quoting Cindy’s poems, consider yourself lucky that she’s run into a literary dry spell. Did anything precipitate Cindy’s withdrawal? Cindy could be one of those approach/avoidance people who seems capable of great passion and romance just until you’re hooked in. Then this type of person only gives you tiny drippings of love, just enough to make you hungry for more, keeping you in a state of constant longing, wondering what you did wrong. Her attentiveness in the beginning is like a drug; once you have it in your bloodstream, you never want to do without it again. You are the rat in the cage, anxiously pressing on a bar, hoping desperately for that pellet. You will probably soon get thin and tired, because the love pellets won’t be released too frequently.

But consider this, too: Is it possible that Cindy really is just temporarily preoccupied with work, and that you’re a giant black hole of neediness, unreasonable in your demands of her attention?  Do you have an empty, shell of a life that you are trying to fill with the soul of another person? This can make people run for their lives.

Just in case, Ms. Behavior would strongly recommend that you do a little self-assessment and make sure you have a life. This means trying to be as happy as you can be, with or without Cindy. Once you have as many friends and activities and interests as you need, you won’t spend your time counting your love letters or flowers. You will be busy writing and sending your own.

Dear Ms. Behavior:

I recently attended my first drag party, and had a wonderful time.  My friend, Joseph, lent me his fabulous scarlet silk dress for the occasion and I was a knockout.

The problem arose the night of the party. As I was getting dressed, I noticed a small, oily stain over the right breast of the gown. It smelled a little like peanut butter. I tried gently washing it out, but it didn’t work, so put a faux emerald pin strategically over the spot and I wore the dress anyway. Otherwise, the dress was totally unharmed. I was very conscious of it all night, and careful not to allow anything to damage it (including the make up of other queens who all seemed to want to hug and kiss me.) But the day after I returned the dress to Joseph he called and yelled at me, and said that I had stained the dress. I told him that the spot was there before, and that that was why I had to wear a pin. He didn’t believe me, and says I should have dry cleaned the dress before returning it. I don’t see why I should have, because it was in the exact same condition as when he lent it to me. What do you think, Ms. Behavior?

-New Queen

Dear New Queen:

Even if you believe you had a sweat-free, scent-free night, never return an article of clothing without washing or cleaning it first. Don’t be cheap. Dry clean the dress. (And remind Ms. Behavior never to lend you anything.


© 2012 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to [email protected].

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