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December 26, 2002

Torn between quite a few lovers

Dear Mr Postmanners,

After the recent ending of my longterm relationship, I've recently started dating again. Prior to the beginning of that relationship, I was never what you'd call a big dater, or even terribly popular. I determined that now that I was out of my relationship, I would leave myself open to new experiences. And now somehow -- and I'm not quite sure how this happened -- I seem to be dating five men at once. I've been up-front with all of them that I have been seeing others, and nobody seems to mind, but now it's becoming quite confusing.

I've been on dates with all of them. Some of the dates have lasted until the next day, if you take my meaning. Of the five, one is an old friend, whom I think I would like to return to that category. Is there any way other than the tired, "I think we should just be friends" speech to manage that? After all, that speech usually means "Go away, I never want to see you again," and I really don't mean that.

As for the others ... well, I'm just not sure. I could give the "Let's be friends and go away forever" speech to one of them, and not be terribly upset if he actually went away forever. The others all have wonderful qualities, and I could happily start a relationship with any of them ... but not with all of them! I don't have the time! I don't have the endurance! How do I choose any one of them (or possibly two if I'm feeling ambitious), and how do I tell them of my decision?


Overextended in Overton Park

Dear Overextended,


One should confess immediately that the Postmanners staff is severely divided on this issue. One's social secretary is convinced that it's all merely a matter of scheduling. (Well, that would be his outlook, wouldn't it?) One's dear friend and periodic advisor Gabriel is convinced that you merely underestimate your endurance, and that it's all a matter of training, as well as scheduling. Them, you understand, not necessarily yourself. Although he does recommend increasing your aerobic exercises to be on the safe side. (Gabriel married an entire militia. One is not sure that he would be reliable, or even vaguely typical, in matters such as these.)

As for Oneself ... One thinks that you should just decide which man (or men) you want, and go for it. Talk to the one you would like to keep as a friend, and determine his feeling on this relationship. You may discover that he feels the same -- these things are often mutual -- or that with a great deal of talking, you can discover the things between you that would let you remain friends after you kiss him off ... er, that is, after you tell him regretfully that you no longer desire his intimate affections. That said, you should also allow him some time without contact, if he so desires, to get over his disappointment at the way the relationship turned out. After all, the "lets be friends" speech, no matter how sincerely meant, is not easy to hear when unprepared for it.

As for the ones you with whom you wish to maintain a more intimate relationship, be certain that they know about your ground rules for nonexclusive relationships, if that's the way it falls out. After all, it would be awful to be in an intimate situation with one man and have the other unexpectedly appear, should you have given him the keys to your apartment, and the yelling and tumult could be just horrendous.

Not that One would have any experience of such things, of course. One always conducts One's relationships with the utmost probity and candor. (One's social secretary also has a very big and somewhat painful paddle. Leather covered wood. With metal studs. Not that One would need this motivation to keep one's affairs orderly. One is just saying.)

Yours in friendship,

Mr Postmanners

December 24, 2002

Parental Wedding Envy

Dear Mr Postmanners:

Recently, I attended the wedding of a family member. While I was there, my parents started pressing me to marry. Of course, they know that I am, shall we say, not exactly heterosexually inclined -- my father likes to say that I was waving a rainbow flag in the womb. (I then point out that the flag would have been awfully uncomfortable for Mum. She then agrees that it was. It's all very traditional. But that's beside the point, isn't it?) They also know that I am in, to put it mildly, an untraditional relationship with more than one partner. They know all of this and are pressing me to marry, or at least have some sort of commitment ceremony, nonetheless.

It turns out that they want me to marry my partners so that they can have an opportunity to hold an emormous wedding that will make the rest of the family green with envy. All of my cousins have gotten married (some more than once), and each of them has had a wedding even more grand than the last one. And here my parents sit, weddingless and enduring the snide comments of their brothers and sisters. I gather that it's gotten quite annoying. Luckily, I live a few hours away, so I haven't been around to hear most of this.

The problem is, I don't want a commitment ceremony or wedding of any sort. Even if I wanted a wedding, none of the people with whom I'm in a relationship want a ceremony. None of them would even come with me to this one!

Please, sir, tell me, what do I do?

Yours most sincerely,

Panicked in Pittsburgh

Dear Panicked:

Alas, one knows all too well how difficult it can be to resist the pressures of one's parents. One's own mater was quite importunate when she realized the ... er ... precise nature of one's relationship with one's social secretary. Then again, she has always been a stickler for the proprieties.

One must admit, one would like to see a wedding with several principals, as it were, just to see how it's done. Alas, this is one event that has somehow escaped One. In any event, one is afraid that when the parents have their hearts set on ceremony and pageantry, one may do nothing but endure patiently. (Though One's Social Secretary foght back by telling One's mother all about One's sexual predilections. One was frightfully annoyed. Besides, One could have told One's social secretary that One's mother had appalled One frequently with the depth and breadth of her familiarity with sexual expression. One's poor social secretary was quite pale for the rest of the day. But One digresses.)

One can but tell you to grit your teeth and bear it. And send your regrets to family weddings.

Regretfully yours,

Mr Postmanners.

for love of leather

Dear Mr PostManners:

I am in a relationship with someone which I hope will develop into something long term. However, recently, I discovered my significant other doing something that disturbed me. One night, I awakened to discover that he wasn't in bed any longer. I rose and searched through the apartment for him. I discovered him in the living room, inhaling the scent off my leather jacket. At first, I was flattered--after all, it's nice to know that someone likes the way you smell. Then I realized that he was saying "I love you" over and over again. Unfortunately, I can't tell if he was rehearsing to say the same thing to me, which he has never done, or if he has developed a deep and sincere relationship with my black leather jacket. How can I tell? How do I ask? How do I respond if I discover him whispering sweet nothings to my coat again?

Yours most sincerely,

Lost in Leather

Dear Lost:

There is no doubt that "I love you, too," is the only really acceptable reply to "I love you." Acceptable to the lover, that is. Of course, since he seems to be saying it to inanimate objects and not to your undoubtedly thrilling self, then one suspects that he isnít demanding a reply. Unless, of course, he is just trying it out as a proxy, hinting about his true feelings toward you. (One confesses that one is a devout romantic. Oneís social secretary would dispute this fact, since said person has called one many other quite unprintable names on more than one occasion -- degree of unprintability depending on the particular activity in which we may be engaged, of course. But one digresses.)

It is, of course, possible that he feels both love for you and love for leather. Many a young man has been confused by his attraction to the accoutrements, and been unable to determine whether or not it is the man or the trappings.

First, of course, one advises that you simply ask him. This is always the simplest path. Of course, it is also the most fraught path; after all, he could always say that he really does only love you for your jacket.

Second, you can always decide to encourage his love of you through his love of leather. One has discovered that the cross your heart harness is almost always a fail safe item. (Of course, this assumes that you have the build and/or the chutzpah to wear such an item.) One has been told by one's social secretary that one looks quite fetching in one's leather pouch. And one's social secretary looks quite lovely in his chaps, wearing nothing beneath, brandishing his studded paddle and shouting, "Who's your daddy! who's your daddy!" ... Ahem. Yes. Well. I digress. The point is that by intertwining his love of leather with his love for you, soon you can encourage an entirely codependent relationship!

One suspects that the best path, however, would be to ask The Question first. If you receive an affirmative answer, then you can go forward with the leather.

Floggingly yours,

Mr PostManners

December 23, 2002

Wedding Bell Blues, Greens and Whites

Dear Mr Postmanners:
My partner and I have been living together for five years, and last week, he proposed to me! I was so thrilled! We would like to have a nice, simple garden wedding. What we would like to know is, what exactly constitutes a small wedding? How many and what types of invitations should we send out? How many people can we get away with not inviting? What sorts of preparations do we need to make?

Also, we would both like to wear white tie and tails for our wedding, which we hope will take place around eleven in the morning. Is this allowable?

We very much look forward to hearing your advice.

Sincerely, Committed in Cuyahoga County.

Oh, dear.

One has not had such a difficult question to answer in at least a day or two.

First, a small wedding is one of those highly variable events. One has seen small weddings with as many as three hundred people. One has also seen weddings where only the parents of the participants, as well as the best man and woman of honor were present. Reasonably speaking (and weddings are seldom reasonable), anything smaller than 150 people is a "small" wedding.

Invitations should always be issued upon white cards, with engraved printing. ENGRAVED, do you hear? None of this "embossed" nonsense. One has had to speak quite sternly to one's friends when one has received embossed invitations; after all, one's friends should know better than to send embossed invitations to ONE, given One's profession. And One advises you to acquire several invitations more than you think you will need, as it is almost inevitable, once the guest list goes over two, that you will remember people that you have forgotten, and to whom you simply MUST send invitations.

As for the white tie and tails .... well .... One supposes that it is your wedding, after all. But you would not catch One in White tie and tails ... well, ever, if one could avoid it. (One must admit that One does not look One's best in them.) Certainly not at a daylight gathering, in any event. As you say you have been living together for some years, One hopes that at least you can find off-white, for obvious reasons. (Properly speaking, for a wedding at that hour, you should wear morning coat and pinstriped pants. But One understands that you have dreams, that you have envisioned your wedding a certain way ... even though that way may have nothing to do with actual etiquette. One would sigh Heavily, but One is used to such things, after so long as an etiquette maven.)

December 22, 2002

Toyland, toyland ...

Dear Mr PostManners,

Recently, my significant other and I decided to introduce the concept of "toys" into our bedroom. If you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Now. I'm perfectly amenable to, shall we say, insertable toys. When they are of a reasonable size. However, the toy that my partner wishes to introduce into our bedroom is the size of ... well, it would be entirely at home on a large elephant. And not only does it vibrate, but it twists and twirls and turns and is altogether too active. I was able to persuade my partner to put away the toy for the night (my jaw still hurts), but I fear that it may make a reappearance. How do I persuade him that perhaps we should start with something a shade more reasonable?


Not That Kinky

Dear NTK,

One is reminded of a tale from one's dear friend Gabriel, who brought such a toy into his bedroom after the bloom had gone off his marriage to his militia. (It took about a month.) Of course, Gabriel is gifted with a silver tongue, and was easily able to persuade them of the benefits of such a device, since which time, they've all been walking and sitting quite ... gingerly.

Since your partner has not been able to so persuade you, one must assume that he is not so gifted. Therefore, there are two paths you can take:

First, you can simply tell your partner that you feel that this particular toy is inappropriate for a "starter", as it were, but that perhaps you might be more comfortable with it at a later date. (This presumes that you would be more comfortable with it at a later date. Otherwise, just stop at "inappropriate" and see what happens. You may be dealing with his disappointment for some time to come. One understands that there are exercises that you can do to strengthen and stretch your jaw muscles.)

Alternately, you can simply bring in what you would feel to be an appropriate object and demonstrate its proper use on yourself or your partner, should he be so amenable. (One must admit that this way may be rather fraught, however. One's social secretary once bought something called an AccuJack into one's house. One had to be quite forceful in stating that one was not prepared to place into such an intime portion of one's self an object the size of a Volkswagen. However, when one tried to demonstrate the use of a similar but rather smaller object, one's social secretary went off in a huff. One had to try quite hard to persuade him. Parts of One were quite sore for weeks afterward. But one digresses.)

Yours in Toyland,

Mr PostManners.