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A friend's mother sent this article to her. It's filled with all sorts of those little things that some women like to think apply to all women. In reality, women vary; I'm probably about to do a near polar-opposite of my friend's deconstruction of the article.

(Of course, "my man" in this case is my dear somewhat-platonic partner; this is not just any generic man. I should do this for $MAN at some point.)

1) My best friend knows everything. She knows all of your vitals -- from the size of your bank account to the size of your other, um, holdings -- and she knows how both compare with those of every other man I've ever dated. I have done a hand-comparison measurement so I can divulge size and girth with a high level of accuracy. When my friend smirks at you knowingly, you are not imagining it. She knows. So just know that she knows, and deal with it. (It's not going to change.) Ask her about me, or chat with her about our relationship, at your own risk. She will tell me. Even -- in fact, especially -- if she promises not to. This is not always a bad thing (e.g., if you happen to be telling her how much you love me). But, in general, remember that she is my confidante first, and yours never.

Of course I babble incessantly about you to my friends. If the topic comes up, I will burble about your charms at nauseating length. I will probably vent about your weaknesses as well, the ones that really bother me. But anything that I know you've meant me to keep confidential, I will keep so. Like that thing you told me that I think you've never told anyone else. That one. Yeah. Not sharing that. I like having secrets with you. You are my best friend, and I will often tell you things about my chick-friends, and if some female acquaintance of yours tells me things about you behind your back, I do not feel myself bound by any female confidentiality contract, because you are my best friend, and some of those bitches don't get that.

I'm aware that you're friends with both my virtual big sisters, and my virtual big brother. This is a good thing. I trust them to keep silent anything you've told them in confidence, just as they'd do for me, and I'd do for them. I'd like you to be comfortable enough with me to tell me everything, but I'm glad you have them as well, and I'm glad we're enough alike that we can be friends with the same people. If you want to know something about me, or get their take on our relationship, they're the best people to be asking, because they know you, they know me, and they already know most of the details because I've been overflowing to them, or crying on their shoulders.

(Response for $MALE: I probably haven't gotten to know you very well yet. Just because we may be dating does not yet mean that I know you as I know my friends. Since my friends are my friends, I will tell them things that I might not dream of telling you until you have been part of my party long enough for me to trust you as I do them, until you earn that same level of trust. If you ask them about me, be aware that they are my friends, and may not be yours, and so will probably tell me that you've been inquiring, and what you've been asking, and their opinion of you. )

2) Just looking at your hands can turn me on.

Well, yes. Or any other part of you.

3) When you go away, even for a day, I sleep in your favorite old T-shirt because it smells like you.

Not applicable, but yeah, I would, or sleep holding it in my hand, or something like that.

4) I'll never tell you exactly how many men I've slept with. No matter how sincere I appeared when I answered your question, chances are I wasn't. As an unscientific guideline, when a woman says she's slept with four men, the real number is actually closer to seven. Her fib is partly intentional (she doesn't want to appear a floozy), but mostly it's sexual amnesia. When a woman wants to pretend an encounter never occurred, she simply scraps the man from her official score sheet. Common excuses that lead to such an omission: The actual sex lasted only a few thrusts; or she was drunk or on the rebound.

I will give you, to the best of my memory, an annotated list of everyone I've ever loved, dated, or thought I've loved, not to mention slept with. I recite the litany to all of my lovers. Even the few-thrusts ones. Even the mistakes. Even, gods damn it, Shawn.

(Response for $MALE: I will give you the list of the full names (where I have them/can remember them) of everyone I've slept with, if I am going to or just have slept with you. I will add your name to the list, and you will be on there in days to come, for better or for worse. If you didn't want anyone to know that you've slept with me, too fucking bad -- I may not broadcast it from the rooftops, but I will tell future lovers. )

5) I fantasized about being with you at least a dozen times before we actually first got naked.

I have tried to fantasize about you, and keep getting flashes of your skin on mine. I'm tuned so high that I know what parts of you that I've never touched feel like, and those flashes keep intruding on our time together. I try not to let it, but sometimes I ride with the flow. I haven't been naked with you yet, and I know that if we ever are, that I know you, and the mystery still won't have been lost.

(Response for $MALE: Probably. I fantasize about a lot of people that I probably will never sleep with, just because that's the way my mind works. Deal. )

6) I still think about my ex-boyfriends and compare them to you. Mostly you win. Sometimes not.

Yes, yes I do. But there's a reason that I've broken up with them, and generally, it's been me doing the breaking. OK, so Nick broke up with me, but that was because I dated him specifically so he could break up with me; we were dating for less than a minute. He had this line that he wanted to use. You have heard me whining and complaining about the bad ones. You have heard me fondly reminisce about the good ones. Mostly, I don't usually think of them unless something reminds me.

If I fall out of love with you, it will be very, very difficult for anyone to measure up to the standards you've set. This is a good thing, as it'll keep me from dating a whole bunch of species of jerk.

(Response for $MALE: You'll have to work against the standards that my best friend set. Specific details are fairly irrelevant: you won't have to get me a certain number of roses or call a certain number of times. Instead, I'll measure how trustworthy I think you are, how willing to understand me I think you are, how caring, how loyal, how much of a dickhead. If you fall short and it's not made up for by other qualities, and I break up with you, know that it's for my safety and sanity that I keep those standards, because I was jerked around by a lot of previous dickheads, and I won't stand for that again. I have high standards because I deserve them, and my best friend has been the best yet. )

7) I have Googled your exes.

No. I have not Googled your exes. I have Googled you, your father, your mother, and figured out your paternal grandmother's name, because I found her obituary. I found your mother and father, but you have kept a low profile so far on the internet. I've Googled myself, I've Googled my father, mother, and sister, I've Googled my roommate -- wait. So I have Googled your ex. My bad.

Seriously, I trust you, and I trust her, and it is nice to know your beloved's exes, and know why they didn't work out together, and still be able to be friends with both of them.

(Response for $MALE: Yes, I probably have Googled you, if I'm interested in you, and any names that you may have dropped. I like to see how the information on the 'net reflects on anyone I'm involved with. I am probably not paranoid that you're going to get back together with your ex, unless you keep talking about him or her. And if you say that your ex is a [insert insulting term here] and you want to get back together with them, I probably don't want to date you. )

8) When I'm falling in love with you, I completely lose my appetite.

When I'm falling in love with you, I'm happier and healthier than I ever have been, and I like it.

9) My body really isn't naturally this hairless and smooth all over. But I will never allow you to see any indication whatsoever of all the shaving, tweezing, waxing, exfoliating, and moisturizing that gets it this way.

You have seen me at near to my absolute worst. You have seen me with unbrushed teeth, ratty hair, and circles under my eyes. You have seen me shaking and crying in panic. You have seen me on the edge of suicide. You have seen me lying face-first on the table, unresponsive from exhaustion. You have seen me too stunned and hurt to cry. I have allowed you to see me at my most vulnerable, my least beautiful, because I trust you. You're afraid that there's something darker and uglier in there? You shouldn't be. You've already seen it, and you weren't scared off entirely. So even though I try to look my best when we go out, I still know that you know me as I am.

10) I only appear to have it all together. My true organization (or lack thereof) is revealed in my closet, my makeup bag, my desk files.

I only appear to not have it all together. Since you see me at my worst, you rarely get to see the professional, sharp side of me that I try to present to the rest of the world. I can decompress around you, but I wish you'd get to see me as other people see me once in a while.

11) I have discovered your porn stash and your frequently visited porn Web sites and think the things that turn you on are hilarious.

You told me about that box of videos, and I want to know what ones you have, because chances are I'll like them too. I think your little arrangement with your father is hilarious.

12) When I say, "I'm ready," I'll need exactly 7 more minutes to get ready. Don't try to cheat the system by showing up 7 minutes later; I will still need an extra 7 minutes.

My state of readiness is erratic. Either I'll be instantly ready, or I won't be, and there's no real way to predict beforehand which it's going to be. Sorry.

13) When I say, "I'll meet you in 15 minutes," I mean I will leave in 15 minutes, and thus won't actually arrive for at least 30 (but probably more like 40).

When I tell you a time that an event is going to be, I have no idea if you're going to arrive two hours early, or two hours after I thought you would. I still treasure the memory of the time you showed up just after six in the morning when I'd set the event time for eight. I'm glad I'd cleaned up the night before Just In Case. Sometimes, I do deliberately tell you an earlier time to have you show up before everyone else, so I'll get some less-crowded time with you.

When I'm late, I was probably either panicked, or oversleeping.

14) You've made me cry more times than you'll ever know.

Sometimes you say things that hit a nerve, even when you didn't mean them to. I am working on telling you every time, but when you get all nervous or dismissive when I tell you, that doesn't help.

15) I obsess about when you're going to call me again. The period of time between our first date and your "Thanks for a great night; when can I see you again?" always seems stretched into slow motion. So don't worry about looking too eager. Call. Even if you only wait until noon the day after, it will feel like a lifetime to me. And don't send me an e-mail unless you want me to put you in the figurative trash can along with your message.

I wish you'd call. I wish you'd e-mail. You have finally gotten the message that I just want to spend time with you, however I can get it, because you have the schedule from hell. I'd rather spend time with you in person. E-mails don't replace getting to hear your voice, but talking with you on the phone doesn't half replace getting to see you in person.

16) I want you to talk a little dirty.

It always surprises me when you make dirty jokes, because you've always tried to be so gentlemanly around me. Of course, I'd prefer it if you talked dirty to me, but only if you intend to follow through.

17) At the beginning of our relationship, I save all of your voice mails and listen to them (and make my friends listen, too), repeatedly.

I save the caller ID records from when you actually call back. I log how long we spent on the phone each time. I'd save your e-mails if you ever sent any.

18) I might wear granny underwear and purposely not shave my legs because I like you. As crazy as it sounds, the more I like you, the less likely I am to sleep with you on an early date, because I don't want to sabotage having a "proper" relationship with you. So I just might purposely hunt out the ugliest underwear in my drawer and not shave my legs -- all to prevent myself from getting naked with you too soon. Sometimes I might get a little tipsy or carried away, and this plan will backfire.

I dress nicely when I'm on a date with you, Just In Case. It's been three years. I know I want you. I know we're both mature and restrained enough to not get into anything we can't handle.

(For $MAN, I don't have to dress down under my date clothes in order to stay out of bed with you, because I have my best friend watching out for my best interests, and I must ask permission of him to have relations with you. So don't touch me in ways that you wouldn't want him knowing about, because either way, he will.)

19) I split the cost of my fashion purchases over two or more credit cards, so you don't notice the gargantuan deficit.

You can be sensible where I am not; I occasionally think about whether I would be able to justify getting that to you, were you to ask. It's sort of irrelevant, as you don't see my bank statements, but you're good as a backup conscience.

20) I'm constantly testing you. I observe, analyze, and judge every action, word, gesture, e-mail, and facial expression. When I ask you if you want to have a threesome, I don't mean it. If you want me to speak to you again, let alone sleep with you after this conversation, the answer should always be, "Why would I want to sleep with another woman when I have you?"

I'm constantly analyzing you. I dissect everything you say to me, and I think I have your body language pretty well figured out. I have a long memory, and will remember some of your offhand silly jokes as if they were actually important. When I ask you questions, please answer honestly, even if you think I won't like the answer. I have answers that you don't like either, and you usually pry them out of me. If I ask you if you want a threesome, I'm probably serious, but your choice of third partner will reflect on you. You have learned what some of my hotbutton issues are, and I appreciate you avoiding them, and I have learned not to pry for your original, uncensored thoughts on them, because I know that you are not PC, and that you would prefer to not hurt me.

21) I check out your butt every time you leave the room.

And your uniform pants aren't as opaque as you thought they were.

22) I need constant indications that you want me around. That's why it's better, for example, to say, "I want you to come away with me for the weekend. Could you come with me?" than to ask, "What are you up to this weekend?"

I do like reassurance that you actually do like to spend time with me. Logically, the fact that you do talk to me on the phone when I call and that you are willing to occasionally escort me to movies ought to be enough. However, the insecure part of my brain wants to make sure that it's actually you wanting to be with me rather than me just being a pushy brat and you putting up with me.

23) I love it when you get a little jealous. So if you ever see me flirting in front of you with the waiter, the bus driver, or another guy at a party, know I'm actually flirting with you -- through him.

I like it when you are protective of me; it thrills me because I've chosen to be submissive for you. If you get possessive of me when other men flirt with me, I am happy, because I have chosen you as Primary, and your rules about who I may be with while with you go. I will bring up asshat exes on purpose just because I want to hear you suggest what should be done with their nuts. I actually get less flirtatious with other men than I normally am when I'm around you, because most of my attention is focused on you.

(Response for $MALE: Yes, I am interested in other males than you. I will tolerate a certain amount of posturing, especially that designed to make me aware of just how manly/strong/cool/l33t you are. Unless I tell you otherwise, you are not the most handsome, sexy, wonderful one out there. Yes, that one is my best friend; he is also my Primary. Deal. If you try to wedge between me and my Primary, one of you will be leaving, and, catch a clue, it won't be him.)

24) Even though I may complain that I don't see you enough (or that you work too hard), I find nothing sexier than watching you put on a suit in the morning and rush off to work.

Screw the work -- well, I know you won't, you're too responsible -- but you are HOT in a suit. Our mutual professor joked that I should burn all of your other clothes that are not suits. Suits suit you. You are hot, you are gorgeous, and I walk around with a grin when you're wearing them, even though you hate them.

I do think you work too much, but I know you need to. I don't see you enough.

25) I start fights with you because I'm feeling ignored. I'm trying to force emotion out of you. Don't retreat into your cave; just give me what I want: some attention. And never tell me to "calm down," unless you want to guarantee that I absolutely won't.

I start arguments with you for the fun of it. You enjoy them too. If I dredge up something bitter and spiteful and painful, it's probably an issue that I've been working on for a while that needs to be aired, and I'll probably yell about it for two minutes before I start crying. And you generally know what to do when I cry. You're very good at that. I often don't know how to deal with something painful other than to start a fight about it; I admire you for keeping your general cool when I'm being provocative.

26) Even if I insist on paying or splitting the bill on our first date, I'll think you're cheap if you let me.

I am embarrassed about being so thoroughly broke. I have no problems with splitting the bill, and was secretly thrilled by the fact that last time, I covered the movies and you covered lunch.

27) I may find your best friend repulsive, but I've fantasized about sleeping with him. Not because I want him, but because I want a piece of a guy who is so close to you.

I'm glad I'm one of your best friends. I do want to be introduced to all of your good friends, because I'd like to meet the other people who are close to you. They might want to meet me as well. I have fantasized about sleeping with your high school best friend, but that was because he was a cute guy and single and so was I. That did not last long at all.

28) If I'm going to break up with you, all of my friends know way before you do. I've been talking about it for 2 weeks.

If I'm going to break up with you, half the internet knows, because I've been angsting over it and weighing the balances for a month in my LJ. Of course, half the internet wouldn't know you if you walked up to them and handed them your resumé, because I call you by an excessively silly nickname in public, and only a few friends know even your first name.

(Response for $MALE: If I'm going to break up with you, three quarters of the internet knows about it, and will probably start telling you either that they're sorry or you're lucky before I've told you it's over.)

29) When we do break up, I put all photographs of you and mementos of our relationship in a shoe box and store it in my closet. Just in case I get nostalgic. Just in case you come back.

If we do break the friendship off, I will be devastated, and probably won't be able to say your name without crying for a year. I will remove the LJ icons with you from my journal, and take a number of the entries about you private, but won't delete them. If we do get together and then break up, I will fight tooth and nail to keep you as a friend.

(Response for $MALE: When we break up, I'll probably toss the mementos of the relationship that I associate with good things into the depths of my closet, continue using the practical things, take this as an excuse to toss anything that I never liked that you gave me anyway, and then file the photos in chronological order with the rest of my life, or give them their own folder or whatever. And I'll bitch about your bad points in my journal and to my best friend.)

30) I want you to take control in bed. Yes, I have a successful career, I'm financially independent, I live on my own, and I don't need a man to make me happy (in theory). I still want you to pick me up, carry me to the bedroom, and take without asking.

I just want in bed with you, period. Hell, I ...
... why yes, I do curl up and purr if you pet me, and as the law of averages goes, I'm excellently happy submitting to you, but there are some days that I just want to pounce you until you're all pounced out, and then pounce you some more. Other days, I want you to make me kneel and say "Uncle". (Hmm, safeword.)

(Response for $MALE: Sometimes I want that. Sometimes I don't. Assuming that I'm the Sub and you're the Dom is a mistake. Don't.)
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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