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No, Really, After You

By Michelle Martin

Oh, the single life: The stuff I put I the refrigerator is still there when I go back for it. The clothes on the bathroom floor are mine, and that's a good place to keep them because I'm probably going to use them again tomorrow. No one misplaces my new magazine or my CDs or takes my favorite section of the paper and refolds it the wrong way. I can do whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I want. I can walk around looking like absolute crap. I can leave the bathroom door open no matter what I'm doing in there. And if bodily functions occur that are say, noisy, or otherwise less than pleasant, well that's perfectly fine. I'm certainly not going to turn myself off!

Oh, the hooked-up life: I indulge my love for cooking tasty food and sharing it with someone who appreciates it. The sexy clothes in my closet go to good use on dates, and wind up on someone else's floor, where they still look pretty enticing. And I probably wear them again tomorrow. My CD collection doubles overnight in a romantic frenzy of sharing, swapping and introducing the world's luckiest guy to my favorites (and hearing his, which are always great because I only date men with exceptional taste in music). Same goes for books and magazines. I indulge in all manner of cool activities that I wouldn't be likely to do by myself. I walk around naked and someone will care, in a good way.

But the whole bathroom door/bodily function thing is another matter. Entirely! Mind you, I'm an enlightened woman who doesn't need a man to open my door, buy my dinner or dictate my sense of self-worth. But I do need a man to be the first one in the relationship to make bodily function noises. I'm not going to start it. But I want the man to do so before too much time passes, because as we all know, it's part of life and you can get abdominal pains if you suppress things for too long at a stretch. And I know that firsthand! And pain is bad, so I like to get to the comfort zone, as I like to think of it, as soon as possible when I'm dating someone.

Once, when my former fiancé and I were getting our relationship underway, we had a conversation about the fact that farting in the presence of one's significant other represents a certain stage in a relationship, and that a relationship can be clearly defined in terms of before and after that stage has arrived. And then the stage arrived for him, then later it did for me, and one night (we were visiting his mother, and we were spending the night in the guest room, and it was our first night there and we had been out with his high school buddies for vast quantities of beer and pizza, and he was in the bathroom taking his contacts out and I was in the guest bedroom already in bed…there, now the stage has been set) he walked into the room, and let's just say the room was not like it was when he had walked out a few minutes earlier. He became very alarmed and said a number of things quite loudly, ending with "I want to go back to the stage we were in before this stage." It sounds kind of rude in the retelling but he was justified.

That episode did not lead to our demise. He was actually not stuffy about women having bodies that function, so he got over it and we went on to cause each other lots more pain. What is noteworthy is that that occurred when we had been dating only a couple of months. And we were already there and joking about stages. Whereas, I've passed the month mark with the newest in a long line of luckiest men in the world, and the fact is that he has not fulfilled his manly duty to get us to that stage! And I cannot step in and take the reins! No, no, no!

What to do? I'm thinking a dinner of Mexican food - refried beans and stuff like that. Carrots and eggplant are my kryptonite. It would be much easier if this issue found a deserved spot in relationship timeline lore. So it was just understood: diamond earrings for the first birthday you spend together means you are golden. Date for a year before moving in together. Don't have sex on the first date if you want to have a second date (I'm not saying I adhere to all of these, just that they're well-known timeline items), don't meet the friends until after at least three dates, etc. I propose this: Once you've been sleeping together for at least a month, it's time to open up the wind tunnel. Gentlemen first!