The Bullshit Art of the Non-Topical Response

non-topical responses piss me off“Which one of these do you like better?” — YES.

“I love you.” — Goodnight.

“I’ll miss you.” — I’ll be back before you know it.

“I like spending time with you.” — Good.

“Could you review the attached and let me know your preference?” — Are you coming to the meeting on Thursday?

The art of the non-topical response. Some people have it down pat while others answer your questions with the meticulousness of an OCD CPA with a 1040 in his hands. I’ve been thinking about this a lot as of late (and not alot…definitely a lot, though).

When people don’t or won’t respond to what you say and tend to deflect the conversation, I really think it says one of three things:

I don’t care what you just said – I’m going to talk about what I want to talk about. It’s the egocentric response. ME ME ME. Admit it – they completely ignored you and went off on a one-way trip to MeVille and left you on the pier wondering why you didn’t bring any luggage. We’ve all done it and it’s a pretty asshole move.

I’m not listening to you. That’s right, I’m not listening. I’m in my own head and for whatever reason it is, I can’t even hear you right now. So there. Hey – is that Elvis?

I heard you loud and clear and don’t have the balls to respond. Awwyeah. This is a common one. When something scares us, freaks our shit out, or in some cases, delights us, we can’t bring ourselves to utter the truth in return. So we say something that’s kinda what we think the other person wants us to hear. It’s a total Hail Mary move, saving our ass and the feelings of the person in front of us because we’re too chicken shit to say whatever it is we’re thinking, good or bad.

They all have something in common, however.

Hurt and frustration.

Tell me, my monkeys – how annoying is it to have to have three conversations in order to get someone to answer your question? How much time does it waste to send 4 emails on one subject when you can’t get the other person to focus? It’s like the world has ADD and we’re chasing it down with Ritalin.

How hurtful it is to sit in front of someone who professes to love you who can’t bring themselves to speak the words? Who responds with “goodnight” instead of “I love you, too?” Granted, words are precious and shouldn’t be wasted. There’s a certain sweetness that accompanies the knowledge that the person in front of you, whether lover, colleague or friend, is saying exactly what they mean and it’s genuine. But the non-topical response hurts and leaves room for question.

What’s so scary about actually telling the truth in life? Do we spare feelings more through pure honesty or through the little tango dances we do around issues that make us uncomfortable? Why can’t we say the GOOD things that scare us? Not saying them makes them…well, bad. Something to fear.

I don’t know about you, but I like to be uncomfortable. I relish that itchy feeling in my pants (and NOT the one that requires a trip to the free clinic). I want to be challenged. I want to say what no one else is willing to. I want to throw myself under love’s bus and get run over (repeatedly). When you’re uncomfortable, you offer yourself the greatest possible outcome: joy.

I went to a baseball game last night for the first time in over a year with Ryan, Elisa and her wife, Meg. I sat there watching a field full of players who make millions of dollars each year to be uncomfortable. They slide through dirt, they make moves that have no guarantee of success…they steal home base.

God, I want to steal home base. I want the people I work with to slide into that fucker and pray to whatever god they know that they didn’t just get tagged-out…and if they did, be ready to take that same risk again next game. Those players are paid well for their topical responses and you never see the second base man sitting down with a coloring book when a line drive comes his way with a runner on first.

Here are my thoughts on the bullshit art of the non-topical response:

  • If you can’t say it, find a way.
  • If you can’t say it, perhaps you don’t mean it.
  • If you can’t say it and need to find the inspiration to say it, think of how you’d feel if you never again got the opportunity to say it (as many people each day never do).
  • Understand what the person in front of you needs. Don’t assume anything and no one’s a mind reader. Ask.
  • You can’t expect anyone to read your mind, so open your pretty little mouth and SAY WHAT YOU NEED.
  • If you’ve said what you need and still can’t get what you want or need…maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your audience.

Time is precious, and non-topical responses waste time. They make us wonder why we wasted our breath and our bandwidth. Stop wasting people’s time and answer the damn question already. Don’t be cruel – be present. People deserve our attention because we demand it from them without even knowing it.


Curiosity Killed the Pussy(cat)

Me-YOW!As most of you know, I’m the resident Sex Advice Columnist (@DearRedhead) for I have a post that I’m working on and I need your help. Please complete the following TOTALLY ANONYMOUS SURVEY and let me know how twisted you are. Thanks in advance!




Blow Jobs and Reassurance: A Girl’s Guide to World Peace

blow jobs and reassurance

I am confident that the key to happier relationships between men and women rests in one simple skill:

A woman’s understanding of when she should open up and shut up versus pet the puppy.

Let’s be honest: a woman could gift-wrap a blowjob and give it to her man for eight days straight at Hanukkah. And he’d never ask for anything else…except possibly a back rub and another blowjob later.

And then there are times where all your partner wants is your ear. His day sucked, he fired someone, your three-year-old tossed cookies on his work shirt. Whether the Yankees lost or he lost four hours of his day to some “stupid fucking database error” <blink blink>, he needs to vent and honey – you’re handy.  At times like these, they don’t really want to hear what we think. They just need reassurance. They’re puppies in need of petting. And they need YOU to do it. Those sweet, manly puppy dog eyes looking up at you…how can you say no?

For all the whining that womankind does regarding the lack of oral sex and mankind’s affinity for sports and the remote control, wouldn’t it be more productive (and orgasmic) for us to play on their field every now and then?

We gals – and a powerful, intelligent bunch we are – tend to do a lot of thinking about what they’re thinking.

Why won’t he talk to me? Is he mad at me? Was it something I did? Can I fix it? Am I fat? Does this skirt make my ass look fat? Maybe he’s pissed at me because he thinks my ass looks fat in this skirt! Well, I’ll show him. Fucker. He can get his own dinner! I’m going upstairs to write a bitchy email to six of my girlfriends because he thinks I’m fat and doesn’t love me for who I am. He’s probably fucking his secretary.

Just. Stop. It’s really not that complicated.

Stop thinking it’s always about you and acknowledge: yeah, it can actually be about him. Instead of buying new lip gloss or a dress you think he’ll notice, why not give him the killer combination that will have him look at you like the rock star chick you are: reassurance and a blowjob.

He’s awesome/right/they’re wrong/yes, that sucks/no, he’s not crazy – but he wants to hear it from you.

He knows you’re a smart cookie – but sometimes, he needs you to go back to the Symbolic Logic course you took in college and work out the following If/Then statement:

If Man is frustrated (or breathing) and woman gives him a blowjob then he is happy.


If Man is frustrated and woman gives him reassurance without trying to “talk,” then he’d appreciate a blowjob (and will then be content).

Bottom line: sometimes guys just don’t want to hear us talk. Stop thinking that guys want to “talk.” Generally speaking, they don’t. They’d be just as happy with one of two things: reassurance and/or a blowjob.

This isn’t demeaning or belittling a woman’s strength and fortitude as an intelligent and equal partner. Admit it: sometimes we don’t want to hear THEM talk. Sometimes we just want a back rub or a foot massage or for them to not stand in front of the fridge and drink the OJ out of the carton right in front of the kids. But our feminine talents for deductive reasoning and emotive response give us an edge when it comes to understanding there’s a delicious power that stems from our sympathetic nature coupled with our sexuality. It’s not objectifying women or making the case that we’re not valued by men for our conversational skills, intelligence and accomplishments. On occasion, however, our needs (and those of our partners) are a bit more primal and have nothing to do with intelligence. If we spent more energy on accepting men for being male and women for being women, we’d have a lot more energy to romp in the sack. Just sayin’.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring up the stuff that’s bugging you or pissed you off. But instead of launching into an instantaneous, petty tirade about how much of a dick he’s being, cool off a bit. If it still pisses you off 24 hours later, then you can have a “talk.” It’s likely to be a more productive talk and one that will lead to his reciprocation in some make-up sex following.

And yes – he’ll still want the blowjob.

On the Prowl: A ‘Cougar’ Scratches Back at the Denver Post

“You and I here all alone/Sunday morning here at home
The sky is blue as the coffee’s strong/It’s true
But then I open my eyes/To this dream realized
In front of me
Oh and I haven’t got a clue/What in the world is happening to me
I think I’m happy.”

“Happy” – Martin Sexton

Special note: this blog is being posted on a day where I have sworn to forego caffeine, Twitter hash tags, the f-bomb and all online conversations about food in order to benefit Autism Speaks.

cougar denver postDear Douglas –

That’s my brother’s name. I like it.  Just wanted to dash you a little letter about the article you published in the Denver Post on May 28. Yeah – the one about “cougars.” I believe it had the clever title “Cougars on the prowl in Colorado nightclubs.” Did you think of that yourself or did your older girlfriend help you with the overused play on words? Nevermind – it’s really not important. The last letter I wrote was to Chris Brown after he slapped Rihanna around. Congrats – you’ve made it to the big leagues on Redheaded Fury.

Just wanted to give you my elderly wisdom on a few things before I popped a Geritol and settled in on my couch wrapped cozily in my Snuggie for re-runs of Golden Girls. Won’t take but a sec – I can’t stay awake that long. After all, I’m 36. A cougar, by your definition. An “older woman.”

Now, being a twice-divorced and presently single woman, I think you’ve pegged my “breed” pretty well: running around town, looking for strange and preying on young, unsuspecting boys. Granted, it’s tough for me to find a place to park my electric scooter when I come rollin’ up to the clubs, but the doormen here in Denver always jump to help an old gal and then I’m parked in pretty short order. Now that I’m parked, I can put my teeth back in and have both hands free to flip you the bird.

Your article has done nothing to promote any sort of “investigative journalism” or alert the good citizens of Denver to a wrong in need of righting. What you have done, however, is heartily promote the stereotype of the “woman on the prowl” and put out some pretty jaded human nastiness in the process. Personally, I think your article belongs in the obituary section, as it’s merely a eulogy for the death of human discovery and the collective citizenry’s ability to evaluate another human being based on (deep breath) qualities other than age.

I found the woman in your article who described men her age (44) with a blanket label of “fat and gross” to be simply charming. An iconic example of what the average 44-year-old woman thinks and feels. Wherever did you find her? Ah yes – it was the Entitled aisle at the Safeway in Cherry Creek, I’m sure. Honestly, I don’t know where she’s looking as I see men of that age DAILY who are stunning specimens of what a good dose of testosterone can achieve. Then again, I’m old and my eyesight might be going.

What occurs to me is that your article has successfully achieved the creation of a complete caricature. A caricature of everyone in your article and those to whom you apply the tasteful age-restrictive labels of “cougar” and “manther.” (Personally, I’d always heard the term “Silver Fox” used, but no matter.) From the description of your subjects’ clothing to the venue and the pretty yet vapid boys, it’s all nothing but a superficial take. One thing I’ve learned in my old age is that if people are in search of the superficial, it’s what they’ll find. And honestly, they don’t quite care what designer label it’s wrapped in because it’s bound to end up on someone’s bedroom floor by the end of the evening. But maybe I can shed some light on “cougars” beyond the dim one at the bar at which you conducted your investigation on the mating rituals of the urban feline.

Riding my bike this morning along the Cherry Creek bike path, I found myself purposefully steering into every possible rain puddle I could access. Water splashing up on my legs, my face … I giggled and even openly laughed once. When I took a good look at myself upon arriving back at my car, the sight was laughable. And certainly not “pretty.” I was completely un”hit on”able. But you know what?

I had fun. Fun at 6AM this morning playing in rain puddles. And then I summarily went back to my house, hopped in the shower, got my girl on and headed into the office. Today, it’s a fabulous denim pencil skirt accompanied by a Calvin Klein wrap top and a pair of kick-you-in-the-nuts Charles David strappy sandals.

I’m your cougar.

The people in your article aren’t looking for love. They’re looking to hook-up. And what you fail to mention in the stunning examples throughout your article is that it takes two to tango and it ain’t about a “cougar on the prowl.” If an older man/woman is looking for fun and fun alone, they’re generally going to turn to a younger mate. Why? It’s the “fun factor.” And the fact that they’re not looking for anything serious. Have I done it? Oh, most certainly. And it was fun.

But at 36, I’m looking for more than the “fun factor.” Yes, fun is a huge consideration in the men with whom I choose to spend my time, but it goes beyond that – it’s humility as well. The humble process of opening yourself up to learning about someone (and allowing them to learn about you in return) – their history, their loves before you, their life. Their quirks.

The endearing quirks and idiosyncrasies that take a person from being someone who tells a good joke at a bar to being the person you want to laugh with on a Sunday morning in bed.

Your article brazenly bypasses any and all mention of the things that make us each human, painting a pathetic, two-dimensional view of dating after age 35 for those of us who refuse to settle. I think your piece is the weak antithesis to that Lori Gottlieb rib-tickler in The Atlantic last year (Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough) that chides women for not settling for any one of a slew of Mr. Good Enoughs and holding out for Mr.Right.

But I won’t settle. The lyrics above – one of my favorite songs ever – are what I’m looking for. The daily surprise of discovering something new about the man I’m learning to “fit” with, not really knowing where it’s all going to go but embracing the childlike laughter that escapes my lips each time we splash through one of my aforementioned rain puddles. And laughing even more each time I see him laugh back.

That’s why I’m single. Not because of what “society’s handed me” (as your character Ms. Spuelher believes). I’m lucky enough to have had two men in my life whom I’ve loved enough to take a swing at “forever.” While they didn’t ultimately end up with the fairy tale ending, I’m delighted. The gift of being 36 and single is that I learn more each day what I love, what I want…what I don’t…where to compromise. Why, looking back down my life’s hallway, even two years have changed my perspective on a lot of things. Time is a gift and not the curse or something to battle as your characters purport. I think the man to find me today is a lucky one, and he’ll be grateful for the time I’ve taken to be with myself, to explore my demons, revisit them and emerge a better person.

I’m the cougar you speak of, along with every woman out there who enjoys time with her friends – regardless of their age, gender, looks or financial status. We go to bars on occasion, we carouse and engage in mischief…and we’re delightfully embracing the value of friendship and self-discovery while we look for our own “Happy.”  So take your kitty-cat labels and characters shaped with your superficially glazed pen and step aside. This cougar is looking forward to the day she has a man in her life whose lap she can curl-up on, soaking in a sunbeam as it glides through a window on a lazy Sunday morning. As he strokes my hair, it’s likely I’ll even purr. And I look forward to doing the same for him.

There is one thing you DID get right in your article, however:

…Cougarism is more complicated than the reductive picture forged in TV shows, comedy monologues and the snide commentary of office e-mails.

It’s about being 36, loving my life, and having enough balls to tell you your article was the most ridiculous piece of pulp I’ve read since Gottlieb’s abomination on the inherent value of “settling.” We cougars – we’re snappy little cats, ain’t we?

Now excuse me – I have to pay my bar tab and get my scooter out of valet.

Yours Truly,

Erika D. Napoletano

A New Leaf: The Redhead Goes Straight

Image courtesy of wandee007 at FreeDigitalPhotos.netI’ve gotten a fair amount of shit lately for my uproarious tone, blue language and apparent irreverence towards the goodness inherent in human nature. It’s led me to thinking: why am I such an asshole?

Last Sunday, I went to church. (Yes, The Redhead went to church – fuck off.) I’ve been searching for awhile for answers that that elude me on this terra firma I walk daily and figured that I was due for my own little personal “Come to Jesus” moment. Big believer in those moments in life, I am. They shake foundations and realign thought processes like only the most almighty of bitch slaps can.

While it’s taken me three days since to let it all settle in – I came to a realization over the past few days:

It’s possible to rant without being an ass.

I don’t need to call people “motherfuckers” and make allusions to Deadwood and the ripe language that litters their scripts.

I don’t need to listen to celebrity shenanigans and waste my time (or yours) with diatribes on their behavior.

YOU sure as hell don’t need to hear me pontificate on the grammar-challenged populous that riddles the online dating world.

So I’m turning over a new leaf. In my own little Redhead Redemption, I’m going straight. Having toddled and torn down the crooked path for so long, I’m wondering what life and writing will be like with a bit more sugar and a lot fewer bees.

Hope you decide to hang around for the ride.

So I’m asking my readers to complete a poll: STRAIGHT OR CROOKED? You read me for a reason and I need to know.

Click HERE to take the poll. Your feedback is, indeed, appreciated.

Common Fucking Courtesy: Grammar, Usage and Online Dating

grammar online datingOnline dating. Yup – we’ve been here before. If you missed my post on my professional blog (Online Dating: A New Way to Think About Branding, SEO and SEM), have a gander at that once you’re done with my weekly diatribe.

Having utilized various online dating sites over the years (and with statistically wondrous results – no shit), there’s one thing for which I’m a complete sucker: a well-written profile. A man who can write an intelligible profile and introductory email is, by far, enough to make me drop hundreds at Agent Provocateur in anticipation of meeting this rare, elusive and delicious beast.

That’s right: RARE.

In a sense, I owe this blog to a man I recently met on Our initial phone conversation went the way of profiles and our mutual agreement of how difficult it is to find one that:

  1. Reads as if it’s written by an adult with some functional grasp of the English language;
  2. Isn’t laden with a litany of usage errors, punctuation nightmares or smiley-fucking-face emoticons;
  3. Gives you a hint as to the personality of the computer operator writing said profile and isn’t merely some generic iteration of Joe or Jane Anybody.

Said gentleman inspiring this blog shall remain nameless at this juncture. However, our conversation on the subject ended with his statement that, “Good grammar – it’s just common courtesy, isn’t it?”

Why, yes…yes, it is.

That said, school is now in session. Whatever the hell it is you might have forgotten since you last took English composition, we’re going to run over it now so you can stand a chance of getting a date. Well, a date with someone who doesn’t live in a home that they (proudly) “just took the wheels off of.”

The Redhead’s Rules of Online Dating Communications: Profiles, Emails, and (for fuck sake) WINKING/POKING and other Offensive Practices

  • Spell Check – It’s What’s for Breakfast. For the love of all that is holy, cut and paste. While MS Word can occasionally offer useless advice, it’s generally pretty spot-on about the whole spelling thing. Just follow the little red squiggly lines! When writing your online profile or an introductory email, drop it into MS Word (or some other product that’s not a spawn of the satan that is Microsoft) and click on that little icon that checks the spelling. Members of the opposite sex will THANK YOU. It blows my mind as to why online dating sites (not a freakin’ ONE of them) never have a spell check in their messaging or profile building applications. Maybe they believe in Darwinism. But I say see the beginning of this blog. I’m offering to go lingerie shopping for men who can SPELL. Seriously – make me spend.
  • Capitalization – Use It. Your online profile and initial emails with a prospective mate are nowhere to be sloppy. The first word of a sentence is Capitalized (like that…see?). There are no exceptions here and unless you’re a published author with a New York Times best-selling novel and you want to go toe-to-toe with me on this, sit the fuck down and hit the shift key. Oh, and profiles and emails are also NOT the place to use text messaging lingo. It’s mind boggling how many emails I’ve chucked from would-be suitors (urp) who have written me emails saying something to the effect of, “UR gr8. Wuld u like 2 chat?” (uh, no.) Use whole words. Real words. Fo schizzle.
  • Usage – It’s Not a Crime. I can forgive a simple slip up between “its” and “it’s.” Once. But when a profile is riddled with poor spelling and horrific usage, I throw up just a little bit and wonder what I (a professional writer) am doing looking for love in a place where it all begins with images and the written word. I’m likely a masochist. However – let’s have a simple usage lesson that can serve as a gentle (shin kicking) reminder for use even beyond the glorious realms of online dating:
    • It’s vs Its – One’s a contraction…one’s a possessive pronoun. No, that doesn’t mean a noun “in favor” of something. Check it out:
      • It’s (it is) likely that The Redhead is a masochist.
      • The Redhead has lost its (possessive) fire.
    • Your vs You’re – Again, it’s hell on earth to determine the difference between these two words that sound so much alike, but it’s contraction-versus-possessive pronoun time again:
      • Pardon me, but your (possessive) car is on fire. Is that your ex-wife I see running away?
      • You’re (you are) going to be my next ex-husband. I can feel it.
    • There vs TheirHoly crapola. This one’s a doozy. Well, not really. One indicates a location and one is a (shocker) possessive pronoun:
      • After realizing her reaction to his collection of belly lint, he picked up his coffee and decided to end the line of conversation there (location).
      • On their (possessive) first date, it was clear by the second drink that they were going to bone.
    • Too vs ToI’m all for letter conservation, but sometimes ya just gotta buy a vowel, Vanna. One indicates direction and one “additional.”
      • Aw, honey…I think the chicken fingers at Applebees are great, too (as well/additionally).
      • I gave the house to (loss of mine/gain of his) my ex-husband in the divorce.
      • Actually, “to” has a plethora of uses. Check ’em all out here, Walt Whitman.
    • Moot vs Mute – OK, this one’s just really a pet peeve.
      • Moot – means “doubtful,” as in a “moot point.”
      • Mute – means silent, incapable of speech…or DUMB. Anyone who confuses these two is just…dumb.
    • If you confuse any of the above, please go to the bookstore and purchase a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves.
  • Winking and Poking – Just Fucking Quit It Already. You…yeah, you with the finger stickin’ out. Don’t even THINK about poking me on Facebook or Winking at me on Here’s the rub: write me a goddamn email. If you wink, I’ll think you have something in your eye and hand you a bottle of Visine. I would personally rather have my ass slapped by a random stranger on a street corner than have a “wink” or “poke” thrown my way online. Why? Because I’m a woman. I want you to be a man, not some pansified oh-my-god-will-she-write-me-back-shudder-in-the-corner-after-I-dip-her-pigtails-in-the-inkwell girlie boy. Ladies, I think that in general, men like a woman who’s not afraid to make the first move. Why? Because from what I’ve heard from my dates as well as male friends who partake in the petri dish of online romance, IT’S RARE. Make the first move. Read my profile. Say something witty, strike up a conversation. After all, we may actually meet one day and if we can’t talk…boy, are we fucked. (and not in the “I bagged the hot guy/gal on the first date” way)
  • Extra Credit Assignment – Use the Buddy System. Before you go releasing that profile out into the wild, you virile guys/gals, grab a pal and get some weigh-in. Do you sound like an ass? Is your profile a psycho magnet? Are you coming across as a “listmaker” who won’t reveal your income but wants to date a man who makes at least $150k a year?

Now, in all honesty, I’ve made errors with both grammar and usage. I make them daily, but hopefully my audience never sees them. The point of this blog is that proper grammar and usage really are common fucking courtesy. They’re like opening the door for a woman, being on time to a scheduled appointment, sending your mom a card on Mother’s Day or bringing your buddy a six pack to his backyard barbeque. When you take the time to spell check, use real words, capitalize, write complete sentences and treat online conversations more like real world conversations, your online dating experiences will improve drastically. Don’t hide behind the online shield or think that, “Oh, it’s just an online dating profile. This stuff will never work.” Whether you’re on a free site or a paid portal, take the time to show the men or women out there that you’re concerned about your appearance…in writing. After all, you never get a second chance to fuck-up a first profile view.