An imaginary conversation about people who wear cologne

Is it OK to kill people who wear cologne? Especially people at work?

YES! No question. They deserve death.

I’m glad someone agrees.

Totally. I’m not against fragrance in general, but you shouldn’t be able to smell it from more than neck nuzzling distance.

I’m suffocating because the guy in the cubicle behind me is wearing a shit ton of it. It’s not a horrible smelling scent, but I can’t fucking breathe.

Death seems appropriate.

On the other hand…


Hear me out: if I pin a note to my dress explaining why I suffocated and died, he will feel bad forever. I’d like that, and all humanity would be better off because he would mend his ways out of guilt.

That is a great point, but he should be the one who dies in this scenario. We’d miss you if you died.

Even if he would be punished more if I die? I’m willing to make that sacrifice for the good of humanity.

You are practically a saint.

Or I could sack up and just tell him that his cologne not only makes me sick, but violates our company’s  “fragrance fee” policy.

That seems a little extreme.

Like…communicating directly…

Who does that?

Exactly. Oh good–now he is sneezing too.

Is he connecting it to his own bad acts?

No. I need to hurry up and die or he’ll think it’s just a coincidence.

Make sure the note explaining your demise is pinned firmly to your dress. You don’t want it to fall off when you fall gracefully to the floor.

I should write the note in gold Sharpie, don’t you think? Maybe on red or black paper?

Good idea. It would add flair.

It’s important to die dramatically if it’s to benefit humanity. There is a side benefit, too.

What’s that?

I’m coming down with a cold.

I’m not following…

Have you ever been around me when I have a cold?

Apparently not. Are you awful?

I like to think I am.

You like to?

Yes, I pretend to be awful and demanding when I’m sick. In real life, though, if people just leave me alone I’m fine.

Do they?

If they’re smart. Don’t laugh. I can be terrible to behold at times. Especially if someone tries to be nice to me when I’m sick.

I’ve known you a long time and haven’t beheld anything too awful.

Of course you haven’t because I stay in my cave when I’m sick.  You won’t tell anyone I’m not horrible will you?

Your secret is safe with me!

An imaginary conversation about anger

Why do you get so upset when you think I’m angry?

I don’t. Your being angry isn’t about me.

You are quick to push it back on me when you do something would make any normal person angry, or at least irritated. I’m not angry as often as you think I am, anyway.


There are things that I get mad about, just like there are things you do.

Don’t I apologize when I do something you don’t like?

Sure. But then after telling me it will never happen again, it does.


Yes. And each time you apologize and say it won’t happen again.

I shouldn’t apologize?

You should actually stop doing the thing that makes me angry in the first place if it’s a reasonable request.

I do what I say I’ll do.

For a while. A  month. A year. But that’s achieved by not talking to me at all.

That’s not true.

It is true. It feels like you punish me for speaking up.


Or like that’s all you have to say to me. It’s all on your terms or there’s nothing at all.

Definitely not that.

Do I have to keep guessing?


No? Are you embarrassed? Angry? Sad? Afraid?

A little bit. I don’t handle anger well. I withdraw.

Do you think you might be too quick to see it even when it doesn’t exist?

I guess, but mostly I just can’t handle it when people react to me with anger.

So much that you handle it by punishing me with silence for speaking up about how I feel?

Now you’re angry.

No, now I am asking you questions that you find uncomfortable and you are attempting to deflect it onto me by saying I’m angry so you have an excuse to avoid a conversation.

I can’t talk when you’re like this!

What, logical?

No, emotional.

I’m a little of each at the moment. Feelings make a person feel. Not angry, for the record. Still. The question stands.

What is the question?

Why you shut down when any actual emotion is displayed?

I don’t think I do.

So when I disagree with you, or ask you not to treat me a certain way, you’re totally fine with it?

I guess I was hoping I could have it both ways.

You mean you want to have your cake and eat it too.

Well. It sounds shitty, but pretty much.

Am I I ever unclear about how I feel about things, usually?

No. You’re annoyingly clear about what you don’t like about me.

Thanks for putting it so kindly. I’m pretty clear about the things I do like, too aren’t I?

Yes, you are. But you’re fixated on the bad stuff.

It’s really just one particular bad thing over and over.

Don’t be mad. I can’t talk to you when you’re mad!

If anything I am puzzled. And sad.


About why I continue to let you play this game with me.

It’s not a game.

It shouldn’t be. So if I seem angry right now, you’re right. But not at you. At myself.

It’s not that simple.

It is. It really is. You just have to treat me like a real live human being with feelings.

I feel like you push me away. I am thinking about everything you’ve said.

That’s good. I’m not sure if I can keep this up if all I get out of it is what you want. There isn’t much in it for me.

Don’t give me an ultimatum.

It isn’t an ultimatum, it’s a clarification of my feelings.

I’m a good person.

Yes, you are. So am I.


Let’s just treat each other that way, can we?

To tell the truth

To tell you the truth, I don’t know you well enough to tell you the truth
–Shall We Dance

Telling the truth can be somewhat subjective, but trust is more or less absolute.

Or maybe it’s more like this:   truth is a graph with a much wider axis than trust.  Truth might go from 1-100, but trust is more of a 1-5 scale.

Let’s say you just met someone. If you’re like me and you try to trust people by default, you have a set point for a certain level of trust. You’re chatting and the conversations veers to matters that are very personal. Sexual preferences. Your last name and address.  You have no reason NOT to trust this person, but you aren’t going to give him your address just yet because you aren’t that kind of crazy. You probably trust him at a healthy 3.  Not enough to tell him how you feel about blow jobs, or where you live, but enough to tell him other things about yourself in a getting acquainted sort of way.   Or if you’re me, you might tell him about blow jobs because it’s good advertising.  To me, giving someone my last name and address are more of a level 4 revelation but I’ll talk sex with just about anyone if they don’t seem like too much of a delicate flower. To me, sex requires more of a level 2 or 3 trust scenario so it’s something I can talk about early on in the process of building trust.

Think about it–would you rather find our your new love is into diapers on date 3 or after you move in together? Right. Not at all.

You might feel very differently about it, but that’s the point: our trust points are all very different.  And none of us are wrong. Well, most of us. Some people don’t trust anyone with any information at all or trust people who’ve clearly demonstrated that they’re bad news. That’s pathological.

In the online dating world, there is a little of everything.

There’s a profile I saw the other day which contained a tasteful photo of a man in leather administering punishment to someone. If that wasn’t enough of a flag, his profile declared that he was a sexual dominant and that if that wasn’t something a woman is interested in she should not message him. And that is at least partly a matter of establishing trust.

His need to share that information up front has at least a couple of reasons– one is because that’s his thing, and he wants to hear from someone with the same interests but also because it’s a violation of trust not to let folks know what they are getting into with him.

If there is one thing I really admire about the BDSM community, it’s their insistence on sex being fully consensual in every particular. It gets talked about far more than it does with other groups, and I think that’s a very good thing. Someone I met once told me that he considered himself a leather clad Boy Scout.

Don’t worry, Ma–I am not considering a career as a dominatrix. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The other side of trust is truth. It seems so clear, right? I’ve talked about it before, though, and people definitely have different ideas of what truth is. Maybe I can describe what I think it is more easily by saying what it is not:  it is not a technically correct answer to a specific question.

If I think my hypothetical lover is cheating on me, and I ask “are you sleeping with her?” anyone would know that I don’t really mean “sleeping.” So if my lover has never actually fallen asleep with her and answers “no” because they have never fallen asleep together after fucking, then he is not telling me the truth. Even though he is not TECHNICALLY incorrect.  We both know what I mean. Lawyers do this all the time. Their truth scale is a very particular one based on literal accuracy rather than moral or ethical transparency or a desire for clarity.

To me, truth is about emotional and ethical honesty and a desire for clarity as much as factual accuracy. You need both. Not telling a lie is not the same thing as telling the truth.

Let’s say I think my hypothetical lover is cheating because I keep seeing female names on his phone messages,  and I ask “are you cheating on me?”   There’s more leeway there, right?   What is cheating? Sending flirtatious messages?  Having female friends who I don’t know about? Maybe he’s sexting with a different woman every day. Maybe he’s sending or receiving lewd pictures. Maybe he just has a lot of female clients and the communications are totally business related. Maybe he’s looking for someone to fuck but hasn’t done it just yet. Maybe he has no intention of progressing to actual physical contact, but just likes the spark of the illicit messages.  If he’s doing some of those things, I would consider the  truthful answer to be something along the lines of yes, he’s cheating or at least something to indicate that he realizes there’s something not quite right going on with what he’s doing.   There’s a scale to the truth here.  If people have different ideas of what sort of communication it’s OK to have with people outside the relationships, it can be a problem and clear communication about it is crucial. They can’t have that clear communication unless they are on the same page in what it means to be truthful with each other.

My preference would be for a partner who balances out tact and truth. Not to use truth as a weapon but as a tool to make things better for both of us.