Do You Thank Your Lover?

In the early 90’s, ABC had a show called ‘Homefront’ that took place circa WWII. I remember watching a scene that involved an older, father-figure, character telling a younger man to “grab your wife firmly around her waist the next morning and thank her for last night”. When I watched this episode I had only had sex a few times and I didn’t have a wife on whom I could try this form of gratitude. Nevertheless, it seemed like a good idea to me. I ran the hypothetical idea by a platonic female friend and she recoiled in horror. “You can’t say that! It will make her feel like a whore!” Wow! Those were strong words coming from an 11th-grader. But, I was young so I took one woman’s advice as the gospel.

You can bet your paycheck that no one has ever complained of being over appreciated. It’s just never happened. The sticking point of contention occurs with the delivery/expression of gratitude. This goes for all human interaction. Try slapping your lover on the ass and saying, “thanks, slut!”, after sex. Unless you’re in a role playing scene and have chosen not to break character, that may not be the ideal way to express gratitude.

FWIW: This post isn’t intended to tell you the correct way to speak to your lover. That’s left to the agreements that the 2+ of you have with each other. While there are certainly wrong ways to express gratitude I’ll try to avoid getting sidetracked with an abundance of ‘what not to do’ bullet points.

You’ll notice that I keep using the phrase “express gratitude” in reference to recreating the “thank you” scene from ‘Homefront’. That’s because some people, while grateful for the sentiment, hear the words thank you and feel as if it cheapens the experience. On the flip side, everyone expresses their gratitude in a different manner. How a person expresses gratitude often gets distilled down to their love language. If you (or your lover) are unaware of your love language, it’s a good idea to have a conversation about how you express yourself. (I’ve never read the book, nor am I endorsing it. But, you can at least recognize your patterns for expressing love.) If you’ve taken a new lover and they’re unaware that you express your appreciation through physical touch, they may just mislabel you as handsy. Despite the love language of you or your lover, most will recognize the expression of gratitude in the form of gestures. Some time ago I wrote a post that read: My lover told me that I’m the only man that’s ever made her breakfast. *sigh* Gentlemen, please step it up! That post received a huge response! In one of the comments, a friend mentioned that her BF had bought her flowers (a first) and made her dinner (another first) as a response to my call to action. He wanted to “step it up” and show her that he appreciated her. Comedian Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson) once joked about how much more sweet sweet loving men would receive from their wives if they were to make a birthday/anniversary/just because card by hand as opposed to buying something from a store. There’s some truth to that. Get in the habit of making things for your lover to express how you feel. It could be as simple as making a… phone call. Phone call! Who does that? What is this 2005? I know, I know. But, try it out. Try it out when you’re asking for that sweet sweet loving. Think it through. Would you rather receive a text message that reads, “wanna come over” or would you rather hear your lover on the line saying, “Do you want to spend some time together tonight?”

There is a marked absence of the word “please” in societal interactions. Listen to the way people speak to those that work behind a counter. You may hear lots of thank you notes in their responses. But, how often do you hear please in their requests? I’ve worked behind enough counters/bars to know that it ain’t often. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you call up your lover and go on some 90’s R&B-inspired monologue requesting, “may I please make love to you?” That just sounds… hilarious. There are other ways to say please without using the word. Just ask nicely and don’t assume that sex will happen. I’ve had conversations in the past that yielded the following response, “I’d love to see you. But, you should know that we can’t have sex tonight because reasons.” I would immediately respond with an emphatic “thank you for being upfront about that!” This post is really just about kind communication from all sides. As the moment draws near, you could make your request by taking a cue from Barry White. This is an actual quote from his song ‘Staying Power’, “Tease me with your emotion. Soon we’ll share nature’s body lotion.” (Use that one with a straight face and I’ll send you $100,000… in Monopoly money. I’ll make it $200,000 if your lover doesn’t walk out.)

After all is said and done*, be careful not to say thank you too soon lest your lover think that you’re about to leave. If it’s that time during the sexy rumpus when you get up to get some water, juice, more condoms, a fresh towel, etc. that may be too soon to say “thank you”. Are you going somewhere? Your lover may wonder.

*-Done should not be defined by an orgasm (for either of you). Keep going until someone taps out.

Gentlemen, still at a loss for words as to how you can say thank you? Here are a few phrases that you can edit to make your own.

-“I’m glad that you came… to see me.”

-“Thank you for making the time, I know that you’ve been busy with reasons.”

-“Goddamn!” *high five* [You can get up and dance from the excitement. Have some fun!]

As I mentioned, expressions of gratitude for sweet sweet loving should be happening between any and all genders. Nevertheless, Gentlemen, we can take a lesson from the airlines when we express gratitude to women for their company. “We know that you have many choices for penis travel and we’re glad that you chose us.”

In all seriousness, my personal definition of work ethic is to never make my employer regret their decision to hire me. That same work ethic applies to making sweeeet love. If she’s made a decision to be with me, I don’t want her to regret it during or after. That’s why I express my gratitude.

The Gratitude Project

If you believe the newsfeed, the world is hurting. If you believe the comments on social media. Everyone is angry and spouting venom. It’s true that a lot of people are unhappy. That’s nothing new. Social media has given everyone a voice/platform for those frustrations. Even before social media was the ubiquitous force it is today, the average person could fill a legal-sized sheet of paper with what they disliked about their day. It even felt like a competition to see who could bottom out first. “You think YOUR day was bad! I had to shovel shit with a teaspoon into an active volcano!” Then and now, anyone could (and still will) tell you their pet peeve at a moment’s notice.

How often do people talk about what makes them happy? Michael Che (in his hilarious Netflix special) spoke about how the average person is willing and able to share the details of their favorite horror movie. While that same person is shy/hesitant to talk about the type of porn they watch. We talk about the gruesome while keeping distance from our pleasures. I say “we” because I’m certainly guilty of it. When asked what I seek in a partner, I can rattle of the sins of my exes and the type of woman I’ll never date again much faster than I can just leisurely imagine an ideal mate. You know, someone who makes you feel gratitude just to be around them. Gratitude (and expressing it) is important. We have no control over the habits of others. We can only control our thinking and our habits.

About a year ago, I decided to revisit an old exercise that helped me to manage my anger. The gratitude project. It is designed to redirect focus. You can do this for as many days as you want. I’d recommend a minimum of 21 days (in hopes of forming a habit). I started with the goal of thirty days. For 30 consecutive days, my intent was to list all that for which I was grateful. I’ve been up to it for over a year. Today is day 398! When you make your list (assuming you want to start this challenge – I mean, what’s the best that could happen?) The list can have 1 item or 100. Sharing is optional, but it must be written. I chose to share mine via Social Media. I’d also suggest that you journal what your days are like during the 30 days. This exercise will not (I repeat – WILL NOT) make your days better. The hope is that you’ll redirect your focus from those pet peeves and petty things and find yourself focusing on everything you love in your daily life. I don’t really believe in the concept of good days or bad days. The concept of good/bad are just perceptions that we attach to events.

So, try it out. Take a moment every day for the next 21, 30, or 398 days to write down that for which you are grateful. Pay attention to the things you start noticing. Here’s my entry for the day.

A wild turkey was trying to cross a busy road. I stopped traffic to assist in the matter. I saved their life a few times by standing in front of cars. As I chased the turkey, I was carrying a bag of fried chicken. Does that make me a #hypocrite ? Some dude watching this all happen asked, “Hey, man! Is that yo turkey!?” (with the intonation of WTF!?) I responded, “Ha! Yeah!” (with the intonation of lampoon).
Dude: “Really!”
Me: “NO!” (with the intonation of, “Duuuhhhh!”) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I proved that I live in the future by having MMJ delivered to my door in under 8 minutes.

I’ve been feeling sexy again. (A lot of pre-summer heartache wounds have finally healed.) There’s nothing wrong with feeling yourself and celebrating that! I’ve also seen evidence that some women are smelling my pheromones and picking up what I’ve been putting down. Life is good. 398 #DaysofGratitude

Did You Ask?

It’s a simple question that I find to be the catalyst for most solutions. I find myself asking the question to people in an unapologetic (and sometimes condescending) tone. “Jet, I didn’t get that thing that I wanted!” I often reply, “did you ask?” To elaborate, “Did you ask the decision-maker involved if you could have that specific thing?” Living in California, for the past eight years, I’ve had my fill of listening to people “ask the Universe” for what they want. More on that later.

Here are just a few examples of ideal times to ask for what you want:
Do you want your lover to be more affectionate? Did you ask? Were you specific? Did you leave nothing to their imagination/decrypting ability by conversation’s end?
Do you want to create art with/for a specific group of people? Did you ask? Were you specific? Are you resilient enough to not take it personally if said group doesn’t want to create any art with you?
Do you want to get stronger at an exercise after a fitness class humbled you? Did you ask the coach for homework (or any other help)? Most group exercise coaches work with many people 1-on-1. Most of us love our job and are excited to help those that want/ask for the help.

A word on expectations. You can’t have disappointment with equal parts expectation and assumption. My mother and I have had the conversation about conflicting expectations. I was sitting in front of her eating some food. She had a fork at the ready looking for an opportunity to reach in and help herself to some of my vittles. Hanger level notwithstanding, I was irritated at her attempts. I snapped at her that I found it rude to expect something be owed to you due to proximity. She responded with a laissez-faire, “well I think it’s rude to eat in front of someone and not offer them some.” Not sure if I should cite the generation gap or my mother’s southern upbringing for that difference in opinion. I truly believe that no one owes me anything. Thusly, no one owes you anything either. (It’s worth mentioning the fact that the world owes you nada. If I’m going to write about asking for what you want, I would be remiss not to point out that no one owes you shit. Not a damn thing.) When others find themselves wronged that I have not met their unspoken expectations, I just remind them that asking helps me to fulfill their needs. How does the story go? Partner A gets upset with Partner B since B didn’t know what A wanted as an anniversary gift. In that story, not only did A not ask, but A feels that they shouldn’t have to ask. B should just know! Can you say, “PROBLEMATIC”? *insert my horrid Mr. Rogers accent* “I know that you cay-an.”

I used to work for a company that was constantly ranked highly in Fortune 500’s best places to work (or WTF ever). Funny, not many of my colleagues agreed. During one of my reviews, I was asked, “How will you make sure that this restaurant meets the expectations of the guest?” I tried to get some clarity on the question, “don’t you mean exceeds the expectations of the guest?” They stood firm in their statement. I tried to explain that a restaurant can exceed or fail to meet expectations because we don’t know what the guest’s expectations are before they walk in. Therefore, we can only over or under perform. We can’t hit a target that’s hidden (read: unbeknownst expectation) unless it’s by accident (or if the restaurant were staffed by ninjas-it wasn’t).

I believe in asking for what I want and I’m willing to ask for the things that will make me happy. Does that make me selfish? No. Expecting the Universe to give me everything that I want just because I sit around and wish for it is selfish. Getting angry at people, lovers, partners for not meeting my expectations (hint: mind reading only happens in folklore, it’s not a real thing) is selfish. Say this out loud: “It’s all about me and everyone knows what I want without me saying a word. I will get all of what’s owed to me based on the merit of my awesomeness.” Did that feel really silly? Good. Recently, I asked for something I’ve always wanted. I’ve helped to plan surprise parties for a few people and they’re a staple of the American sitcoms that influenced my youth. I’ve always wanted one, so I asked for it. I asked 200+ of my friends to plan a surprise party between August 4th and 21st (my actual birthday). I called it the “Not-So-Surprise Party”. I gave them over a month to plan the party. There were a few close calls when I thought I was being duped into a party. But, each one was imagined not actual. By the time my birthday passed, I was all pouty-mouthed and butt hurt because there was no party. “You lousy, no good, rat soup eatin’ muthafuckas!”, I wanted to scream. But, I took some time to check myself and cool down for one simple reason.

The act of asking is not a magic wand for receiving. The next time you don’t get something for which you’ve asked, say this out loud: “Hey, at least I asked!” (“It can’t hurt to ask” is also acceptable as a preliminary pep talk.) Sometimes you won’t get what you ask for and you must be cool with it. If you find yourself back at the drawing board to ask for what you want a second time, the following details are worth examining. How did you ask? (Were you kind, clear, concise?) Who did you ask? (Did you ask someone that was capable of making it happen? You shouldn’t ask a store clerk to change Pottery Barn’s corporate policy.) Why did you ask? (If you asked for something that creates inconvenience for others, they may just not want to build you a scale model of the Eiffel tower-even if they are capable.) Where did you ask? (Did you ask for a day off in front of several colleagues? Perhaps the senior colleague wants that day off and is pissed because you didn’t cover their shift last week.) When did you ask? (Did you ask for a raise after the CFO dropped some news about being over budget?) After examining the how/who/why/where/when of your asking, you may just have to accept not getting the thing and suck it up. It’s true, you won’t get everything you seek. (It’s worth mentioning that asking should not be an ultimatum. Never hold the “or else” knife to someone’s throat when you ask for anything. Even if you get that dinner you requested the wine may be poisoned.)

Many of you may be familiar with the book and video “The Secret” that swelled in popularity circa 2007. Well, for any of you that paid attention to the gap in the story, you noticed that the action step was missing. Vision boards are a fun art project and they make it so easy to ask the Universe for what you want via a cut and paste ransom note made up of magazine clippings. If you ever took the time to make a vision board, you should never make fun of anyone that owned a pet rock, troll doll, or beanie baby. FTR, I made three of them shits. I made three goddamned Vision Boards. They’ve all found their way to the shredder by now. Hey, at least I asked. I destroyed them when I realized that staring at magazine cut outs as if I were planning a bank heist won’t actually create anything. I needed to take action and I can do that without staring at pictures pasted to multi-colored poster board. In the event of an action plan, I still have to ask. “Self, are you ready to take the necessary steps to become awesome? You are? Let’s do this.” I’m glad that I asked.

Ask for what you want. If you’re tired of litter on the streets, ask how you can help clean up. If you want to choke your lover as you enter her from behind, ask for her consent. If you want to be a burlesque performer ask about schools that teach the art of striptease. If you want to correct your client’s form without disrespect, ask for consent before touching them. Be smart about how/who/why/where/when you ask. Express gratitude when you do get it. Be cool with not getting it. Take action to make it happen (read: earn it) if it’s not given to you. Let’s not forget, be patient. The person(s) you asked may be excited to give you whatever you wanted… in due time. Remember that Surprise Party that I wanted? Well, my friends surprised the shit out of me when I walked into a friend’s house and was showered with confetti and love on August 29th. Since my birthday had already passed, I put the request out of my head.

To those friends that had any and everything to do with my surprise birthday party, I love you all so much. That party put some pep in my step and I’ve been feeling good ever since you all nearly gave me a heart attack. Seriously, my friends are amazing, loving/lovable humans that I wouldn’t trade for anything. These are the people I want to grow old with. Even if I move to another country, I hope that we’ll always stay close. Growing up with bullies and friends that turned out to be dishonorable I wanted a group of people that I could consider my chosen family. Hey, I’m glad I asked. I’m grateful for my chosen family and the serendipity that brought us together.