For this installment of the guide, an excellent group of guest editors sat down at Nini’s House of Tapas in New Haven for some lovely wine, delicious tapas and of course, great conversation. Why do women live longer than men? Why do today’s children feel such a sense of entitlement and how do you put an end to it? What do it yourself projects should you take on? What is Munchausen by Facebook? All of these questions and more are answered for you, so open up five or six bottles of wine, roll up a slice of Mortadella and pretend you’re sitting with us at Nini’s. Just save me a slice of Pizza, it looked really good and these other guys ate it all.
Coming out of the gate, Mary Elliot mentioned a study that said women live longer than men because they have more nurturing and emotional friendships than men do. Katie Gerhard and Mary both commented that they feel sorry for men for not being able to experience the closeness and emotional availability that female friendships possess. Katie also said that she likes a man who cries. Bruce noted that if this is the case he should be right up her alley. Jon Crane validated what Mary said and relayed that his daughters have sensitized him and that he has noticed that they possess a nurturing element to their friendships that men don’t possess. Being a contrarian by nature and a male by birth I stuck up for my tribe and called, “shenanigans” on this study. I’m no scientist, but my childhood chemistry set taught me to be skeptical of “scientific” studies that come to conclusions based on over simplified data based on stereotyped gender behavior. It was a very good chemistry set. I have always believed that for every mother of the year there is a Medea and for every Father Knows Best family, there is a Manson family. But do women live longer because of their friendships? It could definitely be a factor or maybe men just die younger because they agree with Neil young, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
The conversation moved from friendship to parenthood. Katie Gerhard mentioned the seeming epidemic of entitled young people and asked how can you put an end to it? Where do you draw the line? Bruce gave a mea culpa for what he sees as his own infractions within the entitled children penal code. Jon spoke about his daughter working through college and called it a “Life changer” that has taught her to become self sufficient. Barbie Douglas mentioned that the onslaught of media hasn’t helped by ceaselessly pushing marketing onto kids telling them what they want and need. Mary and Bruce both agreed that teaching your children to be empathetic goes a long way toward eliminating selfishness that leads to a sense of entitlement. I come from Irish catholic stock where there was no sense of entitlement. In between novenas my mom would wake me up in July just to tell me the answer was still, “No!” to something I had wanted the previous Christmas, then she would hand me a boiled potato. I also have my own issues with trying to keep my children from expecting everything to be just handed to them. My wife believes in saying, “Yes,” while I believe in saying, “No” this has confused my children so they are too bewildered to feel entitled.
After hating on the entitled punks of America we segued into the world of doing for yourself. Jon Crane discovered the overwhelming joy of cleaning out a clogged drain without the help and cost of a plumber and Mary tore out a dirty rug that had worn out its usefulness when Taft was still President. Bruce mentioned that all the DIY home improvement shows have probably cost home owners millions while I said that people should know their limitations. I just had a DIY fiasco. I put a new faucet in my bathroom and it leaked, I told my wife it was broken, she said, “Get a second opinion.” My neighbor had a plumber at their house so I went over and asked him if he could stop by and take a look. He took a quick look, came out from underneath the sink and said, “It’s broken.” I had already thrown out the box and can’t find the receipt. I will soon be eating one broken faucet.
The next topic of conversation brought us into the world of boundaries. Robert Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors” but in today’s, on line, social media world, it’s much harder to maintain a healthy sense of distance from friends and neighbors. I complained about whiners on Facebook and have named their syndrome, Munchausen by Facebook. This is when people tell sob stories in order to receive attention and sympathy. Bruce mentioned there should be a shut up button. I give a Facebook “Like” and thumbs up, to this idea. Mary believes you should keep Facebook posts light and not “suck the life out of the room.” I also give this a, “Like.”
We finished up the day on the cheerful topic of how to navigate a career during hard economic times. Felix, the owner of Nini’s, explained how diversification has kept him afloat during the downturn while Jon has had to fight harder for accounts and works another broadcasting job on top of his public relations work. Barbie described how difficult it has been even for someone who “followed all the rules”, got multiple degrees and after losing her job is still only offered ten bucks an hour at a garden nursery that she could run herself. Katie debunked the mantra of working, “Smarter not harder” that management types say as they pile more and more work upon fewer and fewer employees. Mary, a stay at home mom, thinks that the whole notion of what success is, needs to be redefined. Does staying home to raise children make someone less of a success than someone with a career? Is being successful simply accumulating money and goods or is true success having less but being happy with what you do? Alas, we didn’t get to answer all of life’s questions but give us a table, a little wine and some time and who knows? Ciao.