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You Are Here is a weekly column by Andrew Bucket, regular BYT contributor and stand-up comedian. You can follow him on TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM @andrewbucket where he’ll try to not be annoying.

Hello everyone! Happy Valentine’s Day! Since I took last week off I have a big post for you today.
This month we are talking about friendships and romances, the double helix of the heart.
Whether you live in the city or in a shot-gun shack, it’s good to have a friend because life is so damn hard, and it’s good to be able to ask for help when you need it, and also important to truly value friendship – which means knowing when one is toxic, and when to end it. A great classic read is On Friendship, by the 16th century writer Michel De Mantaigne. He writes, “Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.”
Friendships are often more difficult in their endings than romances, because the exchange in humanity is often more ineffable, and if you don’t have a sweetie this V-Day, go share some love with your pals. If you do have a sweetie, I think everyone can agree you should go fuck yourself.
Thanks for reading, my friends!

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Dear Andrew Bucket,

I met this guy on the bus and we were chatting on the bus the whole way home, and right before I got off he asked me for my number. BUT I HAVE A BOYFRIEND. But I didn’t want to be rude so I just gave it to him and then when he texted me, I just ignored him which is the most pathetic way of handling the situation.

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SO

When I am having a conversation with a guy I’ve just met, when is it a good time to mention that I have a boyfriend? Cause if he’s lookin’ for a date I don’t want to lead him on, but I don’t want to seem like an ass by announcing it right away and making it seem like I’m so arrogant I just assumed he was trying to pick me up or whatever.

And also, I don’t want to embarrass him. It just sucks how so many dudes lose interest in talking to me as soon as they find out I’m not “available”.

wha’do’i’do?

Unavailable to Most Dudes

Gentle Reader,

Here is a phat blunt of truth for you to blaze – masculines who chat up feminines on the bus are, from minute-one, conducting an investigation to deductively tease out your relationship status.

If you’re wearing a cool Alice In Chains tee, then you can assume that while you are indeed having a great conversation about the Gadulka, which is of course a Bulgarian folk instrument that is unique for having four main strings and up to ten sympathetic strings, that maybe this strange boy on the auto-bus is a lil’ more interested in the contents of your bloomers.

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Gadulka

So don’t be naive, the bus is not the bookstore.

However, let’s say you are at the bookstore and you are loosely fondling some pages of Lorrie Moore’s Birds Of America. You have already read it, but you are trying to remember what the word disaster means etymologically. You recall that there is a line in the short story “Terrific Mother” that tells you what it means.

The clerk notices the book you’re holding and he says, “Oh, Lorrie Moore is great, she’s got such a devious interest in words.”

“That’s so true!” You say, and ask him what disaster means and he tells you “Bad star,” and then the two of you talk about Anagrams, your other favorite book. Then you yap about college, and about how you wanted to move to Portland last year but how you got over it, and then a long convo all about your post-college freak outs and the epic woe of not having a plan. Basically the story of how you ended up here at this bookstore in the first place. The great tragedy of your life.

You notice he is kind of gross though. A patchy, sickly, Keanu-Reeves-beard and a subtle pee-smell from laundry done poorly. You would never, ever, you subconsciously decide.

Soon enough you are talking about where you live, and you’re all like “Oh, I live in Petworth,” and he asks how you like it and you say it’s great because its way close to your boyfriend.

There you go. See, in reality, if you’re having a legitimate conversation with somebody and you really care about the subject, and are just looking for a human connection – then your relationship status doesn’t even really matter, because there is no flirty imperative to hashing about how miserable you were after undergrad.

But if you’re on the bus and some guy is asking about what music you like, or some other fluff like that, then you should just drop a lil’ BF-bomb into the convo so that the dude will either take a hint that his Mystery DVDs are failing him and he should move on, OR if he doesn’t bail, that this conversation has a boundary that begins and ends with asking for your cellular digitals, which are classified.

Go play,
Andrew Bucket

Dear Andrew Bucket,

I am pretty sure my good friend has Asperger’s. I’ve read up on the subject after I had watched a documentary about Temple Grandin, and was baffled by how perfectly the signs of Asperger’s or austism described my friend.

Should I do something? I’m fairly positive he has never been diagnosed, and might have an easier time if he knew why some situations were hard for him.

‘Bergs in the ‘Burbs

Hi Burbs,

Our generation is more aware of the autism spectrum than any generation before us. The field of computer engineering and the boom of Web-based companies have respectively introduced a whole new wave of people to the work force that were shit out of luck in the days of yore.

So much so that Google brought Dr. Temple Grandin, who you mentioned, into their Googleplex for a huge consultation on how they could improve their work environment for people who were on the autism spectrum.

Interestingly, many people argue that we are all “on the spectrum” at some level, but as you have noticed in your friend, some people are closer to the middle than others. Asperger’s is a close relative of autism that allows very often for high-function and in a significant percentage, the mythologized “rare abilities” of autistic savants.

So: Since Asperger’s is not associated with delayed speech development, as with autism, it often goes undiagnosed and the time and attention needed to develop good social skills are simply withheld. In that case, the person with Asperger’s will be left alone, having been deemed a recluse or a “weirdo”.

My feeling, though, is that you aren’t a behavioral psychologist and it isn’t your place to confront your friend with such a jarring proposition, especially if you might be wrong. But maybe you could be a little more graceful about it. If you have a genuine interest in Asperger’s/autism, then you should inform yourself on the subject, and talk about it freely as something you are reading about.

Maybe it will spark a curiosity in your friend, or maybe it won’t, but you will definitely learn a thing or two about the condition and you can help your friend in a practical way, since you’ll understand some of the inner workings of the Asperger’s mind.

Thanks for writing!

Andrew

Dear Andrew,

I’ve always had a problem making female friends. I don’t hate women and I don’t claim to “get along better with men,” it just seems to have worked out that I have only one close female friend, a girl with whom I grew up and whom I love like a sister. The rest of my close friends tend to be male.

I’ve been told that women are prone to dislike me because I am relatively attractive and they think I will “steal their man” or something, even though I have a steady boyfriend myself. I’m at a point in my life where I want the close group of girlfriends that every television show about women ever seems to assume that every woman has. Any advice about making female friends?

Friendship Wanted

Dear Friendship,

I think you’re already halfway to salvation. Television is brilliantly designed escapism because it let’s is see the impossible play out, whether that be dragons, or boozy detectives solving satanic murders (if you’re not watching True Detective, you’re letting life pass you by) or groups of friends who stick by each other through thick and thin.

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I know there are always a few of them you know from high school that are still shooting pool in that same place and loving every minute, but mostly we have friends through our adult lives that reflect the various seasons of us. You have a yoga friend, a cocaine friend, a “going to shows friend”, a friend that you got close with after a fight with another friend and you mainly just made fun of the other one until it got old and now you don’t really talk anymore, a friend that drove you places, a friend that liked to stay in when you were 31 and started to feel old but then you were 32 and had a renaissance, a hot friend from when you first got single that empowered you to be kinda promiscuous, a friend that listened to your relapses into break up depression, a fat friend, and of course the friend you’ve always kinda had a “thing” with but never really dated.

Were some male? Maybe. But they were real, right?

I don’t think anybody is worried about you stealing their man, but I do think there is something about the male vibe that puts you at ease because you’re anxious that you don’t fit in with this TV style girl dynamic that doesn’t have to be real. Also, there are probably some non-gendery things about the dudes you like to chill with that can overlap with certain types of women. If you can zoom out and examine what it is you look for in a friend, and approach new peeps through a futuristic lens of queer bliss, then things may finally come into focus and you will have a new mosaic of unique friendships that in the sum of their parts reflect the current image of your life.

Or something,

Andrew Bucket

Dear Andrew,

I have a friend who likes another boy- friend of mine. BUT he is not interested in her. not only that, he actually dislikes her. He calls her the “wretched one”.

She wants me to arrange hangout situations so they can get to know each other but he does not want to hang out with her at all.

I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I also don’t want to piss him off. Another thing is that she does this a lot… I’m always doing the legwork for her romantic pursuits, and I’m not even sure she has any friends besides me. We haven’t even been friends that long!!

What should I do Uncle Bucket?

Not a Matchmaker

Dearest No Match,

Men have these friends too, only instead of having to set the bammas up, these duds surreptitiously holler at girls that their friends have just stopped hooking up with. Lazy game, they call it.

lazy-3

In your case, “the wretched one” is having you do the romantic bidding because she is terrified of rejection. The thought of putting herself out there and taking a risk is just not something she is willing to gamble on, which means her self-image is probably not-2-hot-4-tv.

It also means she admires you very, very much…so much that she would tap you to be her diplomat of the heart/vag.

She latched onto you because you’re unflinchingly “nice” and she desp. needs to be somebody’s second banana…somebody cool…somebody to borrow from… to steal from….somebody to KILLL!!!

HOW DO YOU LOCK THE TERROR OUT, WHEN YOU ALREADY INVITED IT IN!?!?!

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It can feel scary and a lil’ unnappealing when somebody new clings to you so hard. I imagine she wants you there as a buffer when these awkward ‘hang outs’ actually happen right? This is where you are.

Basically, if it isn’t you, its going to be someone else. So you shouldn’t feel too bad about drawing a boundary. What she admires about you may not even be real… this “hot friend” shtick you’re forced to play out. That isn’t fair and makes the whole friendship this weird medal ceremony with you on a slightly higher box.

It will actually be a good test of your friendship if you discontinue these charities, THEN wait and see how much she wants to be your friend under the-new-deal. You’ll get a more legit sense of what she aims to get in being your friend. Either way, it sounds like you need a break from lugging this dead weight around.

You aren’t an orphanage.

Andrew Bucket

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