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Advice Goddess: August 2014
Thursday, 07 August 2014 13:45



Cheat exhaustion

Q: My girlfriend and I are mostly happy together, but we have this ongoing fight where she accuses me of wanting to cheat whenever I so much as glance at a woman she perceives to be my “type” (any woman roughly her age and ethnicity). Even flipping through a magazine that shows a woman in an ad is enough to set her off. She says I need to eliminate all contact with other women, or I’m being unfaithful. But I don’t see how I can stop doing things like talking to the checker at the supermarket or looking at someone crossing the street.

— Blamed 

It’s normal for a girlfriend to expect her boyfriend to “keep it in his pants.” Only yours wants your eyeballs in there, too, as she considers crossing the street with your eyes open a form of cheating. 

When you love somebody, it isn’t exactly outrageous to fear losing them. And the suspicion that a partner is cheating can often be an instinctive response to subtle signs that they are. But such signs include flimsy excuses for working late or ducking into the hall closet to take phone calls -- not merely daring to open a magazine that includes pictures of females who lack beaks, paws, and tails.

There’s a good chance your girlfriend behaves this way because she has a giant crater where her self-worth is supposed to be. As for her paranoia, to be human is to have a tendency toward ridiculous, overblown fears, but we also have the capacity -- gone unused in your girlfriend -- to follow them up with a chaser of reason. The sad thing is, you might have compelled her to work on changing if only you’d told her “enough is enough” instead of just wagging your tail while she tightened your choke collar.

Thanks to your enabling, there are now 300 of you in the relationship — you, your girlfriend, and her 298 fears. If you’d like to change that, wait for a moment when you aren’t being prosecuted for something and ask to talk about the relationship. Explain that you love her and want to be with her but that she’s increasingly pushing you away with her irrational (and, frankly, insulting) accusations and behavior. Tell her that she’ll need to see a therapist and show meaningful improvement if she wants to keep you around. (Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people use reason to solve emotional problems, is probably the best bet.) 

Give yourself a deadline, and reassess — maybe at the three-month mark — so you don’t keep getting used to crazy little by little until crazy becomes the new normal. That’s how a guy ends up being the one apologizing when he comes home to a bonfire of his clothes, computer, and Xbox after his girlfriend catches him in the act — smiling and thanking the supermarket checkout lady instead of staring at his shoes and wordlessly extending his palm for his change. 


Fling theory

I’ve been casually seeing a woman for a year. Early on, I told her I wasn’t looking for a girlfriend. I think she was disappointed, but we continued seeing each other nonexclusively. She never pressures me for more commitment, but I suspect she’s getting more attached. I’d like to keep seeing her, but is it on me to break this off? Maybe she should be trying to find a real relationship with another guy.

— Informal


Maybe she hopes you’ll eventually come around — at least to the point where you’re standing beside her at the altar, sliding her wedding ring on, and saying, “Hey, don’t read too much into this.”

Still, even if she does want more from you, she might prefer having less to having nothing at all.

Also, if she is looking for something “real,” this thing with you can help her avoid coming off hungry and desperate, much like snacking before grocery shopping can help you avoid waking up next to a bunch of empty doughnut boxes. 

Let her know you’re still up for less, simply by saying you want to make sure she’s still okay with how you want to keep things casual.

If it’s too painful or unrewarding for her to continue, it’s on her to break it off. The thing is, though “serious” relationships are supposedly the only “real” relationships, there are people out there — women, too — who are most comfortable with a less intense form of togetherness.

This kind of slimmed-down relationship can end up lasting for years — even decades. In other words, 50 years from now, when you’re reserving side-by-side burial plots, you could find yourself whispering to the cemetery guy, “Wouldja do me a favor and bury me a few extra feet from her? I don’t wanna give her the wrong idea.” 


Tales from the cryptic

My boyfriend of two years got an early birthday present from his sister and her husband: a really expensive, second-row ticket for a major sporting event next year. The trouble is, it falls on my 30th birthday (a Saturday). He knows I usually don’t care about my birthday, and I confess that I also judge people who care about theirs. Still, I can’t help but feel that my 30th is a bit of a milestone, and I wanted to spend my birthday weekend together somewhere with my boyfriend. I understand that he doesn’t want to seem ungrateful for his sister’s gift, and he’s courteously told me about this conflict well in advance. Do I need to just get over myself? Or should I raise my concerns?

— Neglected

As a child, I was not one to turn down birthday loot, but around age 8, I developed a sort of jadedness about birthdays that continues to this day. The way I see it, if you are over 12 and not a cancer patient, do we really need to throw you a party and give you prizes for surviving another year?

It seems you communicated some similar thinking to your boyfriend. Bizarrely, he believed you. Yet, apparently out of love and consideration (and perhaps the suspicion men have that all women are at least a little nuts), he let you know a year in advance that hockey or auto racing or whatever’s special day coincides with your usually-not-so-special day. What more was he supposed to do -- well, other than travel back in time and ask your mom, “Hey, can you hold the baby in one more week? There’ll be a scheduling conflict in 30 years.”

Wait…were you expecting him to turn down the ticket? If so, what’s that really about? Maybe a recent public service announcement from your ovaries? “Hi, we’re also turning 30, as in, it won’t be long before we retire, move to the countryside, and take up scrapbooking.” You may also be looking for what evolutionary psychologists call a “costly signal” -- some show of commitment requiring such a big outlay of money, effort, or forgone opportunity that it’s likely to be sincere. (In the absence of a proposal and a diamond, maybe it seems the least he could do is light that ticket on fire.) 

If you do want more from the relationship, you may be able to get it, but expecting a man to read your thoughts is like expecting your dog to understand algebra.

Tell your boyfriend you’re feeling sensitive about your birthday, your future, or whatever else, and you’ll at least find out where you stand.

Assuming you get the reassurance you need, maybe you can do the loving thing and put your partner’s interests up there in importance with your own, perhaps by celebrating your birthday the weekend before the actual day.

You might also try to get in the habit of using spoken-word communication — fun as it can be to surprise a man with a game of naked charades, aka “Guess what I’m thinking when I weep inconsolably during sex!”

(c.) 2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail


ALO’s ‘South Pacific?’ A treasure
Thursday, 07 August 2014 13:41
Special to the Daily Planet

Asheville Lyric Opera brought the classic production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” to Asheville on July 18 weekend — and to say that this reviewer’s opinion is biased would be correct, seeing as I sat on the opera company’s board for the first six of its 15 years.

Those were six challenging years for the company, but through much hard work, David Starkey and company have stayed true to the art form and have consistently delivered quality opera and musical theater to the Western North Carolina audience —  and “South Pacific” was no exception.

The story is based on James Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Tales of the South Pacific,” which he wrote in 1946 about his  U.S. Navy experiences in the South Pacific. Rodgers and Hammerstein then adapted it for Broadway in 1949, and to say this was a masterpiece would be an understatement. While the story was written and is set more than 50 years ago and may seem a bit dated, the brilliance of the music remains as timely as ever.  

Thomas Joiner conducted a well-balanced orchestra, which was positioned on stage, behind the performers. I always worry this will make it hard for the singers to be heard, but Joiner kept consistent control of the volume, making a pleasant background for some really good singing. Nellie Forbush, the naive nurse from Little Rock, Ark., was played by Michelle Seipel. She falls in love with the cultured Frenchman Emile de Becque, who was played by Mark Owen Davis. Seipel and Davis, both with impressive credentials, did not disappoint, blending their voices well. Their solid acting carried the audience on a believable journey of love found, love almost lost, and then love found again. 

Directors Jon and Elizabeth Truitt gave solid guidance in the adaption of this musical, but — for a concert — their efforts seemed too involved. Occasionally, the timing was a little slow during the scene changes, but this hardly affected the overall flow of the show, especially with the strong talent of all the performers.

The Chorus Boys and Girls were very strong. Simone Vigilante as Bloody Mary and Strother Stingley as Luther Billis tried to steal the show but, alas, the final embrace of Siepel and Davis (Nellie and Emile) was the true scene-stealer.

Yet, the real stars of this classic work are its timeless songs, including “A Cockeyed Optimist,” “There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame” and the very hummable “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair.”

Embodying the underlying message of the show is the song “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” which is preceded by a lyric saying racism is “not born in you! It happens after you’re born....”

However, the real workhorse of the musical is “Some Enchanted Evening.” This is probably one of the finest songs ever written for a musical to date, but being a baritone myself and having sung the tune many times, again, I am biased.

The ALO provided an enjoyable evening of theater with “South Pacific,” and I do not believe anyone left disappointed. “South Pacific” was the second-longest running Broadway musical to that point (behind Rodgers and Hammerstein’s earlier “Oklahoma!”), and has remained popular ever since.

ALOS’s next season will present “Die Fledermaus” at 8 p.m. Oct. 3 and at 3 p.m. Oct. 5.

In 2015, it will present a “Gala” in January, “West Side Story” in April and “Rigoletto” next summer. For more details, visit the ALO’s website at 

I am proud to say I have been a part of this opera company and the art form it brings to the community — and wish it continued success in the future.



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