May 29, 2007

Meanwhile, in Central Florida...

It's not easy being the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They've never finished out of last in their going-on-10-season existence. They are last in the league in attendance, by a lot. They play in a charmless mausoleum of a stadium. And their best prospects tend to have bad things happen to them: their careers are derailed by drugs (Josh Hamilton), they can't stay healthy (Rocco Baldelli), they lose the ability to find the strike zone (Dewon Brazelton), they get caught having sex with a minor (Toe Nash), they get shot (Delvin James, Nick Bierbrodt), they throw a bat at an umpire (Delmon Young), or they threaten to kill their wife and children (Elijah Dukes). And those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. Oh yeah, they also signed John Rocker and Julio "Wife-Beater" Lugo. And Jose Canseco.

A lesser team would have given up and moved by now. But armed with an iron will and an ironclad 30-year albatross of a lease, the Devil Rays press on, seeking creative ways to convince people to drive a long way to a bad stadium to see a bad team. I admire their plucky, never-say-die spirit.

What's Tampa Bay's latest brainstorm? It's Pirate Night!

To quote their press release:

On Saturday, June 2, it will be Pirate Night and fans will get a choice of either Rays Beads (first 5,000) or a Rays Bandana (first 10,000). Also, there will be floats in Lot 7, the Gasparilla Cut Throat Chorus will sing the National Anthem and the Ye Old Krewe will parade on-field pre-game and will perform Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th Inning Stretch.

Why is it Pirate Day? I assumed at first that the Pittsburgh Pirates were coming to town, and the marketing staff found a clever way to spruce up an otherwise drab interleague matchup. But no, they're playing Kansas City that night.

In case that wasn't enough to entice you, the Rays are also giving away Scott Kazmir posters to the first 7,000 fans. Yes, in what may be a first for a major-league team, the Rays are offering three different giveaways on the same night. Plus the Gasparilla Cut Throat Chorus.

On the other hand, why else would you want to see a Rays-Royals game?

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 12:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 18, 2007

The Mascot Diaries

On Saturday, I got to be Uncle Slam.

That's not a typo. Not Uncle Sam. Uncle Slam.

For the 95% of you reading who have no idea what I'm talking about, I will explain. Uncle Slam is the mascot of the Potomac Nationals, the Single-A affiliate of my beloved Nats, who play in nearby Woodbridge. Uncle Slam is a... well, he sort of defies description, kind of like the Phillie Phanatic. You can judge for yourself.

So how did I get to be Slam for a day? For that story, we'll have to go back a couple months.

Every spring, Arlington County has its Neighborhood Day, which is a community festival sort of event, an excuse for Arlingtonians to get out and enjoy the nice weather and each other's company. The highlight of this day is a parade, in which a variety of community groups and organizations march about a mile or so along Wilson Boulevard. One of the parade organizers is in the Fan Club, and he extended an invitation for us to march in the parade. I thought it sounded like fun, and a good opportunity for a little publicity, so I agreed to round up a group of our guys to march. I figured we'd carry a banner, maybe hand out some membership forms, no big deal.

Fast forward a month or so. I invited Potomac's GM, Bobby Holland, to speak at our monthly meeting. The parade organizer was there, and he asked Holland if the P-Nats wanted to march in the parade. Bobby replied that he was interested, but he'd have to check their schedule. That was all, I thought.

Then, about a week before the parade, I got an e-mail from Holland. There was no one from the P-Nats who could march in the parade, but if we had an extra body, he'd be willing to lend us the Uncle Slam costume to wear.

Suddenly, I heard opportunity knocking.

I've always liked mascots. Maybe not as much as the Big Fool, but I'm a fan. And to actually get to be a mascot... I'd never even dreamed I'd have the chance. There is a side of my personality, usually kept hidden, that enjoys the sort of outlandish behavior that is the mascot's stock-in-trade. Sure, if you saw me on the street, you'd find me unassuming and mild-mannered. But deep down, I yearn to stick out my tongue at strangers, or to wiggle my backside at passersby, and have that be considered cute and amusing, rather than rude and possibly grounds for arrest. Mascots have free license to mug for the cameras, flirt shamelessly with women, hug random kids, dance like an idiot... all things that I generally avoid.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

Once I agreed to do it, I mentioned it to a friend of mine. She said, "How'd you get stuck doing that."


"Don't tell me you wanted to do it." She then proceeded to tell me of her experience. During the summers in high school, she worked at an amusement park, and occasionally played the role of the park's mascot. "It was so damn hot in that costume, I wanted to kill myself," she said. She went on to talk about the kids who, in their eagerness to greet this mascot, had punched her, head-butted her, and almost knocked her over.

I began to have some second thoughts. But I was already committed.

The day before the parade, I went down to Woodbridge to pick up the costume. I talked to a charming young woman named Jen, who offered some advice. "Drink lots of water and take lots of breaks. It gets hot in there."

"Oh, so you've been Uncle Slam before?" I asked.

She smirked a bit. "No, they haven't suckered me into it yet. The employees take turns in the costume. I've been avoiding it as long as I can."


Once I got home, I decided to unpack the outfit and try it on, so I'd be prepared for the parade. It's a good thing I did this, since it turned out that it was different than I expected. For some reason, I envisioned a one-piece costume with a zipper in the back, with the head as a separate piece. As it turned out, there were about ten separate pieces, which had to be put on in a specific order or it wouldn't work. First, I had to put on the fake stirrup socks, which were more like leggings. Then I had to put on the fake stomach, which was sort of a barrel with shoulder straps (much like what bankrupt people wore in old cartoons). Then I had to put on the pants, which had a mesh vest to keep them up. Then I had to put on the big floppy red shoes. Then I had to put on the P-Nats jersey/fuzzy blue arms. Then I had to put on the head and fasten the strap (so my head wouldn't fall off when I looked down). Then I had to put on the fuzzy blue hands. It took me six or seven tries to get it all right.

Then I went to the bathroom, so I could look myself in the mirror. Or I tried to, but I ran into the low-hanging light fixture in my living room. Uncle Slam is at least 7 feet tall, which created certain problems getting around. Eventually, I managed to squeeze into the bathroom to get a look at myself. Wow, I was big! And blue! And fuzzy! I practiced waving. I practiced a thumbs-up. I was ready to go.

Came Saturday, and I decided to drive into Arlington for the parade. Even if I could manage to drag the bag containing the Uncle Slam suit onto the Metro, I figured it would draw too many stares. ("What's he got in there, a body?" "Nah, it's bigger than that. Two bodies, at least.") As I pulled into the parking garage, I figured that it would be easier to put the suit on in the garage and walk to the gathering place, rather than trying to carry the bag around Arlington. So I suited up next to the car and started walking toward the elevator. Three young women got out of the car next to me, started walking, then did a truly amazing double-take and stopped dead in their tracks. I understood their feeling here. When you go out for a day of shopping, you have a certain expectation of what you'll see. That expectation does not include seeing a giant fuzzy blue thing in the garage. I gave them a little wave.

"What are you?" they said. I turned around and pointed to the "UNCLE SLAM" name on the back of my jersey.

"What are you doing here?" they said. This posed a dilemma; mascots aren't supposed to talk. But we were in a relatively secluded area, and the only people around were the women and I. So I decided it was safe. "I'm here for the parade," I said.

"What parade?" I explained a bit about Neighborhood Day, as they held the elevator for me (I had to duck to get in). As we rode up, one of the women pulled out her cell phone. "Oh, I just have to get a picture of this!" I smiled (a pointless reflex, since no one could see my face), and she snapped the picture. We high-fived, and I went out into the street.

This turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. I am not in Arlington very often, and I believe that Arlington's street grid was designed solely to punish people for getting lost there. There is little rhyme or reason to the layout of the roads, and streets that have the same name can be blocks apart. Add to this my very limited visibility (I could only see out of the mouth of the costume, which is maybe a foot square, plus I wasn't wearing my glasses, so I couldn't read the street signs), and it's no surprise that I made at least half a dozen wrong turns, despite the fact that I was only four blocks from the gathering point.

I arrived, and I was already bathed in sweat; they weren't kidding about the costume being hot. I removed the head and the jersey/arms, pulled down the leggings, and tried to cool off. The rest of the Fan Club group had already arrived: Don, Allen, Chris, and Barb. They were all duly impressed by the sight of me in the costume.

Don suggested that I wear the costume out to a bar that night to pick up women. Barb took a look at me and said, "No way are you getting any action in that costume." (Considering the fact that I smelled like the Nationals' locker room at that point, she probably had a point.)

We got lined up. I discovered that we were marching directly behind a Dixieland jazz band, and directly in front of a group of Bolivian dancers, who brought their own music. The contrast of styles was, to say the least, interesting.

Kids kept coming up, some bold, some shy, several more than once, but they all wanted the same thing: to touch Uncle Slam. They hugged me, they held my hand, they high-fived me, they posed for photographs. I patted them on the head and put my arms around their shoulders. I'd never been the center of attention this way before; it was a heady feeling.

Just after I finished posing with two young Bolivian dancers, I heard Barb (who was acting as my spotter, since I couldn't see anything that wasn't right in front of me) say, "Behind you, Uncle Slam." I turned, and there were two winsome and attractive young women, perhaps 19 or 20 years old. They said, "Can we have a hug, Uncle Slam?"

Naturally, I was happy to oblige my fans.

I was feeling good at this point, so I began to boogie to the Bolivian music behind. "Tio Slam!" my compatriots shouted. At this point, I discovered another major upside to being a mascot: bad dancing is not only allowed, it's encouraged. As some of you may have guessed, my sense of rhythm is extremely Caucasian, and my dancing skills leave much to be desired. But when you're dressed as a giant fuzzy blue guy, it's okay! Dorky white guy dancing = awkward, unsightly nightmare. Mascot dancing like a dorky white guy = fun for the whole family.

"Come on, Uncle Slam," Barb said, "let's go find you some more honeys." I flashed a double thumbs-up. Maybe wearing the costume to the bar that night would be a good idea, after all...

We swung onto Wilson Boulevard, the official beginning of the parade route, and I kicked my mascot mugging into high gear: waving, flashing the thumbs-up, blowing kisses, dancing and high-stepping. And the kids lining the parade route ate it up! They waved, shouted hello, cheered. I was even more popular than the people throwing candy into the crowd in front of me. Some of them even ran onto the parade route for a hug or a picture. "You're the hit of the parade!" one of the organizers said as I danced past him. Ah, I love the mascot life, I said to myself.

My love of the mascot life lasted about halfway up the parade route. At that point, the temperature inside the costume hit sauna levels, and I started to hit the wall. (Maybe I should have made time to eat lunch, after all.) I cut back a good deal on the dancing, and stuck to waving and blowing kisses, with a little jumping up and down thrown in. Someone mentioned that it was starting to rain, but I couldn't feel a thing. There was a hair tickling my nose, but I couldn't reach it.

A fugitive breeze reached through the mouth of the costume, and I savored it. Invigorated, I broke into another little jig. Bad idea. It used up what little energy I had left. I soldiered on.

The longer I went, the hotter I got. Jen had advised me to take lots of breaks, but I couldn't really manage that in a parade; there was nowhere for me to rest. And I certainly couldn't take the head off. I was trapped. And I felt like I was about to faint.

In desperation, I tapped Chris's shoulder, and pointed to Uncle Slam's mouth. "You need water?" he said. I nodded. He had a bottle. "So, where's the hole I pour it into?" he said.

Alas, there was no such hole. Uncle Slam's mouth covered my entire face, and there was no opening for me to drink through. I tried throwing the water at the mouth, but it was all caught in the mesh that concealed my face. Not one drop made it through. Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

Finally, Chris suggested that I lift the head just enough to fit the bottle underneath. It was a great idea, save for the strap. The higher I lifted the head, the more the strap dug into my windpipe. But I was in dire straits, so I went ahead and lifted. It nearly garroted me, but I was able to get a swallow of water. Never did a single lousy mouthful of water feel so good. I did not pass out.

The end of the parade route was in sight, but it was still three or four blocks off. I was almsot staggering by this point, but I had a duty to the kids, so I kept waving and blowing kisses. My body was on the verge of giving up, but I figured that if I conserved my energy, I could make it.

Suddenly, Chris tapped me on the shoulder. "The reviewing stand is up ahead," he said. "That's where they have the camera. This is where you really want to give it all you've got."

So much for conserving energy.

I saw the camera approaching on my right. I came over and did such dancing as I was still capable of. It's a good thing that there was a permanent smile frozen on Uncle Slam's face, because I certainly wasn't managing one. I kept waving, kept dancing, and waited for the blackout that seemed inevitable.

But then it was over. I'd planned to stay in costume for a bit after the parade was over, spend some more time entertaining the kids, but I couldn't help myself. The minute I finished, I ripped the head off and grabbed the nearest bottle of water. Then another bottle. I was finally free.

One of the groups in front of us had used a trolley in the parade, and they offered us a ride back to our cars. I accepted gratefully. Once inside, I removed the jersey, put the head down, took another drink of water, and accepted the compliments of my friends.

"I'm surprised that none of the kids were frightened," I said. "Some kids are scared of mascots."

"If you wanted to frighten 'em," Don said, "you should have taken off the head and shown them your actual face." I was tempted to make an un-kid-friendly gesture, but I didn't have the energy.

The Dixieland band was on the trolley with us, and they struck up "When the Saints Go Marching In." I started singing along. Pretty soon, the whole trolley was singing. It was a lovely ending to the day.

On Monday, I brought Uncle Slam back home to Woodbridge. Jen was there to receive him. "So, would you do it again, or is this your swan song as a mascot?" she asked.

I pondered for a while. I thought about the kids. I thought about the suffocating heat. I thought about the young women. I thought about the dehydration. I thought about all the people who smiled when they saw me coming. I thought about the muscles that were still sore, two days after the fact.

"Yeah, I'd do it again," I said.

And I would. I liked being Uncle Slam. For all the physical exhaustion, I loved the opportunity to inhabit that outsized personality for a while, to dance in the streets, to wiggle my backside at complete strangers. I wouldn't want to make a career of it, necessarily, but I'm not sorry I had the chance.

And who knows? Maybe next time, I will try going to a bar with the costume on.

Oh, here I am in the costume, in case you were curious:

big gang.jpg

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 09:54 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 16, 2007

A Micro Amateur Comics Review

I have been absent, and this particular feature has been missing for about a month, but I have one question for those who run Countdown: Just how in the hell does Jimmy Olsen know who Jason Todd and Dick Grayson are?

Posted by Frinklin at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2007

Spring Is In the Air

News bulletin: Uncle Millie is still not dead. Despite his best efforts.

America’s best romancer, at least as measured in number of paternity suits, is still in Mexico. With the coming of Cinco de Mayo, I became concerned for Uncle Millie’s health and safety. Faithful readers of his column know that Uncle Millie loves his alcohol, and Cinco de Mayo (at least as practiced in the United States) is basically an excuse for everyone to get smashed on tequila anyway. It was shaping into a perfect storm, centered in Uncle Millie’s liver.

Fortunately, as it turns out, Cinco de Mayo is not a major holiday in most of Mexico. It is a big deal in Puebla, site of the Mexican victory over France that Cinco de Mayo commemorates, but not so much in the rest of the country. Once Uncle Millie found out about this, naturally, he rushed off to Puebla to join in the revelry. Fortunately, as faithful readers of our column also know, Uncle Millie’s sense of direction is on a par with his knowledge of the Spanish language, and he would up going in the opposite direction of Puebla. By the time he realized his mistake, he was well up the Yucatan Peninsula, and it was too late to get back. So he traveled on to Cancun, world-famous resort town. And there, he has found… well, I’ll let him tell the story.

- - - - -

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cancun, by Uncle Millie

Como estais, lads! (Thank you to dear PG for the language tip.) Uncle Millie is here in the Spring Break capital of the world, or at least the Western Hemisphere, Cancun! Regrettably, poor planning has caused me to miss the great fiesta of debauchery that is Cinco de Mayo. (Who knew that I’d be better off celebrating a Mexican holiday in Houston or Los Angeles, rather than Mexico itself?) However, Cancun offers quite a number of compensations, I assure you. While I am a bit late for Spring Break and a bit early for summer vacation, there are more than enough bikini-clad beauties to satisfy my needs. The weather is lovely, sunny and in the 80s. At least I believe that it’s in the 80s. The weathermen keep saying that the temperature is 30, which is obviously wrong. I suppose that they might be using the Celsius, but I never learned the conversion factor, and I don’t remember how many millimeters are in a degree and all that. So I’ll just say that it’s nice.

Since Cancun is, as I mentioned previously, a haven for college students on Spring Break, the bartenders here are stocked with a dizzying array of alcohol options. I was recently introduced to a marvelous potion called Goldschlager. Goldschlager is a German liqueur of some kind, which is not Uncle Millie’s usual preference, but it contains real gold flakes! It’s gold you can drink! What a marvelous world we live in. I tried a couple of shots of it, but alas, my good lad Fred’s expense account does not allow me to make Goldschlager a regular part of my life. Nonetheless, I shall cherish the memory fondly.

[Editor’s note: Uncle Millie does not have an expense account to purchase alcohol. In fact, he does not have an expense account of any kind. If he intends to present me with a bill for all the alcohol he has consumed in the writing of this column, words will be exchanged. At any rate, back to the column.]

There are a number of heart-rending queries in the mailbag this week, and I hope that you will be as moved by the plights of these poor lads as I am. I fear for where these lads might be forced to turn for advice if Uncle Millie were not on the scene. I realize that there is no Nobel Prize for romantic advice, but if there were, I am sure that I would receive my due recognition for the humanitarian work I provide to lads in trouble. But enough about me. Let’s look at our first letter!

Dear Uncle Millie.

I’ve always had a little trouble with women, so I decided that I would try one of those online dating sites. No sooner had I signed up than I was matched with “Marla.” We seemed like a good match: similar interests, similar backgrounds, and a few off-the-wall matches (we both want to visit Portugal, for instance). I sent her a message, and we started e-mailing back and forth. She had a good sense of humor and seemed pretty smart, but not too smart. There was definitely chemistry there.

After a couple weeks of e-mailing and a phone call or two, I asked her out. The only thing I was curious about was that she hadn’t put a photo on her profile. I thought this was unusual, but I didn’t worry about it too much; I think that our society is too fixated on appearances, and what’s on the inside matters most.

Well, when we got to the restaurant, I understood why she hadn’t posted a picture. She was, to put it mildly, not at all attractive. I don’t even think I could find her appealing over time. When the date ending, it was obvious that she wanted me to kiss her, but I couldn’t do it. It’s a shame, too, because she was still funny and smart and everything.

She had a great time, apparently, and she’s been trying to get me out on a second date. I’ve been putting her off, saying I can’t find the time, but I don’t want to string her along. She’s the right woman for me in so many ways… except that one. Should I try to make it work? Is it possible to go on dates with your eyes closed?

Paul in Muskegon

Ah, lad, you have run head-on into pitfall of online dating. A number of people use it and swear by it, but Uncle Millie is not one of them. Call me old-fashioned, but by and large, the only people desperate enough to turn to online dating are those who are socially retarded or too hideous to get dates the old-fashioned way, by chatting up drunken strangers at a bar. Occasionally, a good one will slip through the net, but as you’ve discovered, lad, all too many people go the online route for a reason.

That said, I wouldn’t be so quick to write off “Marla” simply because she is, let us say, a bit canine. As you yourself pointed out, there is more to a mate than mere beauty, and it’s quite possible that your lady friend has important compensating qualities. For instance, perhaps she is quite good in bed. Understandably, this may be hard for you to determine, given the fact that you find her appallingly ugly, but I urge you to find out. Fortunately, our society has devised a wonderful way to make otherwise repulsive people seem acceptable: alcohol. For hundreds of years, it has allowed millions if not billions of ugly lads and lasses to get some action between the sheets. Sure, “Marla” may be a woofer now, but after a beer or twelve, she’ll look like Scarlett Johansen to you, at least if you squint a bit. Trust Uncle Millie on this. There have been many times when I have used the water of life to lower my standards. Particularly that one time in New Orleans… but I digress.

If you find that you cannot drink her pretty, or that you cannot hold your liquor well enough to manage it on a regular basis, there are alternatives. Fortunately, American culture associates low light with romantic situations (also with episodes of “24”). Take your lady friend to a candlelight dinner, or to the movies, or to a jazz club. When you get her home, turn out the lights and tell her that the two of you will have to feel your way toward each other. She’ll think that it is foreplay. Or you can try blindfolds, if she is into that sort of thing.

Why am I so insistent that you try to make it work with “Marla,” lad? Well, you said yourself that you find her good company. And if it turns out that she is a good lover, then you’ve got a keeper, even if you can’t take her out in the daylight. Uncle Millie has found, again through experience, that ugly women are often the best in bed. They know that they can’t rely on their looks to attract men, so much like Avis, they try harder. That time in New Orleans certainly convinced me of it.

Uncle Millie is certain that he will hear from the feminists about this, but I would argue that this is actually a pro-female position. After all, what would a typical female advice columnist have to say to this lad? Probably something like this: “If you don’t think she’s pretty, you don’t deserve her. Do her a favor and cut her loose so she can find someone who will find her attractive.” What sweet, well-meaning, soft-headed poppycock. If this lass is as ugly as the lad says, what are the odds that she will find someone who finds her attractive? Slim and none. If the lad followed the feminists’ advice, who knows when this poor lass would find herself a mate? If he follows my advice and discovers her compensating virtues, however, everyone goes home happy. If Uncle Millie were truly the heartless chauvinist that the feminists claim, I would surely advise him to kick her to the curb and find a woman who didn’t make him wince. So stay your poison pens, my dear lasses, for Uncle Millie is truly a ladies’ man at heart.

Dear Uncle Millie,

I’ve been seeing “Erica” for six months now. She’s wonderful, tons of fun; every time I see her, I get a big goofy grin on my face. Whenever we’re together, everything is great; she’s the life of every party. She’s the woman of my dreams in so many ways.

But. (You knew there was a “but” coming, right?) She does ecstasy. I found out when we ran into a friend of hers at a restaurant last week, and the friend mentioned that they’d done it at a rave. When I asked Erica about it later, she said that she does it recreationally, a few times a year, and that it was no big deal.

Well, I think it’s a pretty big deal. It’s illegal, for one thing, and if she gets caught she could go to jail. Also, I know her office does random drug screenings, and if she takes one and fails, she could lose her job. More importantly, it’s dangerous and it could kill her.

Erica thinks I’m being a worrywart. She says she takes precautions, drinking water beforehand and so on, and she doesn’t do it often enough to be a health problem. When I mention the possibility of being arrested or losing her job, she laughs and says, “What fun is life if you don’t take risks?” That may be true, and I know she’s a free spirit, but it seems to me like a stupid and dangerous risk to take.

I don’t want to be her dad or the morality police; I just care about her and worry about her future. Should I keep bringing it up, or let it drop? If she still ignores me, should I take bigger steps (like trying to get her into NarcAnon)?

Doug in Charlotte

Lad, are you familiar with the Biblical question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Let me assure you, lad, that you are not your lady friend’s keeper. Let the lass have her fun. What harm?

I will do all you lads the favor of sparing you my lecture on the silly and hypocritical nature of American policies on drugs. While Uncle Millie favors the old-fashioned, societally-sanctioned methods of diversion and amusement – namely, alcohol and lovemaking – I do not stand in judgment of those who find their sanctuary with Mary Jane, or Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, or any of their illicit cousins. As long as people are adequately informed of the risks – and it sounds as though your lady friend is well aware – I believe we should all be adults about it. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

More to the point, how is “Erica’s” drug use impacting your life, lad? Is she forcing you to do drugs with her? No. Is she even doing them in your presence? No. Is her behavior while on drugs causing you embarrassment in public? Not that you mentioned. Most importantly, is it negatively affecting your sex life? Again, not that you’ve mentioned. If anything about her drug use is going to negatively affect your sex life, it will be you nagging her about it to the point that she stops making love to you. Fortunately, you don’t seem to have that problem yet. So get off her back, lad, before she exiles you to the couch or worse.

If, down the road, your lady friend develops a problem that actually affects your relationship, such as gaining 50 pounds, then feel free to write Uncle Millie back. Unless that happens, though, laissez les bons temps roulez! (which, as we all know, is Spanish for “if you dig it, do it”)

Dear Uncle Millie,

I’m in a bind, and I hope you can help. Last year, I was set up on a date with “Rachel” through friends. Rachel and I saw each other a few times over a month or so, but frankly, I didn’t feel any sparks and I didn’t think the relationship was going anywhere. When she told me she was breaking up because she was “too busy right now,” I figured that she’d noticed the same lack of sparks and was trying to be polite. I didn’t mind. Frankly, I was a little relieved that I didn’t have to dump her myself. Neither of us made an attempt to contact the other, and I let it drop from my mind.

Fast forward a year or so, and out of the blue, I get an e-mail from Rachel. She said she was sorry if she hurt me, but that her life had become less busy, and that if I was interested, she’d like to resume our relationship. Well, it’s true that she didn’t hurt me, but frankly, that’s because I didn’t care all that much. She’s nice enough, and I respect her, but I haven’t been pining for her. On the other hand, I’m not seeing anyone now, and Rachel wasn’t bad company or anything. I could think of a lot worse ways to spend an evening than with her. Still, she treated me well in the break-up, and I wouldn’t want to hurt her by playing around with her heart. (She’s been hurt before by guys who played with her like that.) Every time I think about it, I go around in circles like this.

So, Uncle Millie, what should I do? Should I tell her I’m not interested? Or should I give it another whirl, maybe see if I feel a spark this time?

Will in Chicago

Ah, lad, Uncle Millie has faced this dilemma many times before. As you may have noticed, I am a legend in the romance department, and my motto is, “Always leave them waiting more.” I do, and they do. As a result, I’ve had any number of lasses come running back after we parted ways, realizing that they just can’t recreate the Millie Magic with anyone else. So I certainly know whereof you speak, lad.

Now, you mention that you are currently without a lady. This is a direct violation of Uncle Millie’s commandment that you never allow yourself to be caught short, but no matter. For you have your deliverance at hand, in the form of “Rachel.” Now, it seems clear that she is not destined to be your lady love. But she will suffice perfectly as a place-holder. Have you ever noticed, lad, that men with lady friends are invariably more attractive to other lasses than those without? (This is one reason I recommend that you never allow yourself to be caught short.) Sure, Rachel may not be your ideal mate, but she will provide you with the company necessary to make yourself more appealing to the lass who is your ideal. In this way, Rachel could be far more useful to you than she was the first time around.

Just do not allow yourself to get sucked into some romantic fantasy that you’ll “discover the spark” on this go-round. Uncle Millie has spent a great deal of time rubbing sticks together in the hopes of producing a spark, and let me assure you, lad, that if there was no spark previously, there won’t be one now. This is not a problem, provided that you understand it and set your sights on short-term amusement only.

You mention that you don’t wish to hurt this lass, and you may feel that this attitude is hurtful or that you’re “using” her. I assure you that this is not the case. If you don’t believe me, consider: Why did she suddenly pop out of the woodwork after a year of radio silence? You’ve made no attempt to contact her in all this time; she can’t possibly believe that you have spent a year lighting candles and praying for her return. So why now? Uncle Millie knows: Like you, she finds herself companionless, and she is feeling a bit lonely herself and seeking some company (or, better yet, casual sex) with someone she knows and trusts. She cannot expect any more to come of this than you do, unless she is too crazy or stupid to be a suitable companion anyhow. There is no shame in what I advise, only short-term happiness and the possibility of something finer, if someone special takes a shine to you. So Uncle Millie blesses a happy reunion. Go forth and live it up, lad!

That concludes the advice portion of this column. I did want to close today with a message for my beloved Aunt Beatrice. Despite my heartfelt appeal a couple columns back, my good lad Fred tells me that he has heard nothing from you. Perhaps you were offended by my gentle joshing that I missed Irish whiskey more than you, my love. If so, allow me to assure you that this was simply my rapier-sharp wit at work. I miss you far more than Irish whiskey. Besides, now that I am in Cancun, I have found several purveyors of my favorite thirst-quencher. But I still have not found you!

Are you still upset about my roving eye? A trifle, my sweet, a trifle. Surely you do not believe that those other women meant more to me than you? Believe me, lad, you mean far, far more to me than Shelly. Or Tricia. Or Roxie. Or Vanessa. Or what’s her name, the waitress at that Polynesian bar in LA… Kathy? Katie? Kelly? No matter. Next to you, they are nothing. Come back to me, my love, and I will show you how true that is.

In the meantime, I must away. I have been asked to lend my expertise to judging a wet T-shirt contest. Happy hunting, lads!

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 12:36 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack