An Open Letter to Men

In the wake of all this Petraeus nonsense, it is becoming obvious to me that many of you men lacked a sorely needed Uncle Gene in your family.

Uncle Gene is the inappropriate uncle that was supposed to pull you aside for the talk.  (Forgive my use of the phrase “supposed to.” Sometimes it is unavoidable.)  Not the birds and the bees talk, that was 101 and delivered by Professors Mom and Dad.  No, this is B&B 200: If you’re going to misbehave, follow these rules.

  1. Mistresses are a bad idea.  They never end well and they are always more expensive than you think they are going to be.  Always. However, if you ignore rule number one…
  2. Do not associate your mistress with your work.  Ever.  She does not visit you at work, she does not e-mail you at work.  Hell, she doesn’t even need to know where you work.  You do not e-mail her from work.  Mistress and work do not mix.
  3. This means that you also do not find your mistress at work.  Period.  Ever.
  4. Do not keep photographs.  Do not take photographs.  Not of her good stuff, not of yours.  EVER.
  5. Do not buy gifts that are engraved or could only have come from you.
  6. Wrap it up.  Always.  Going back and forth between your wife and your mistress with mysterious stuff on your junk is a bad idea.
  7. Do not lose your head and compromise the big stuff.  National security, the big red button… stuff like that.
  8. If you are publicly employed, if she loves you as much as she says she does, if she respects you and what you are trying to accomplish in the world, she is not going to get involved with you.  Because true love doesn’t willfully and recklessly ruin the love of their life.  If you must get some strange, see rule #7.
  9. Finally, and most importantly, do not expect an amateur to do a professional’s job.  This bears a little explanation…

Everything costs something.  If you have a professional and she’s getting professional wages, you can expect a professional result.  If you don’t get a professional, you’re going to pay in other ways and it ain’t going to be pretty.  For examples, see Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, and General Petraeus.  If you have a professional, she she wont get knocked up, she won’t keep a spunk-covered gap dress in the back of her closet (just … ew), and she won’t get emotionally invested.  A professional knows her role, the services she is expected to render, and she won’t send threatening e-mails to family friends.  She doesn’t want to.  Because she is very aware of what she has to lose as a professional and she’s not about to go off half-cocked because she’s suddenly caught feelings.  For someone who has this figured out, see George Clooney.  He’s got a pro for a girlfriend and he doesn’t even need one.

An amateur poses risks.  She’s likely to forget that this isn’t some epic love that must be honored at the expense of sanity, two marriages, and one very important career.  She’s going to want some evidence of your passing so she can go back and remember the wonderful night when you wanted her so bad you just couldn’t help yourself.

Don’t worry, a pro will still let you smoke that cigar.  A pro will come up with inventive things you hadn’t even thought of, pull them off with panache and a smile, and never suggest that you might need to leave your wife and your life for an fated love that we all know is going to devolve into an argument over who does the dishes given enough time.

And then when the time comes to end things, you hand her some diamonds, thank her for her time, and offer to serve as a reference should she ever need one.  Done.

I have an Uncle Gene.  The only advice that I know for sure he ever gave anyone was when he pulled my ex husband aside and said “Son, you can be right or you can be happy.  Decide which one is most important to you and stick with it.”   However, I like to think of him pulling the various and assorted nephews aside at the grand old age of 21 and educating them on the art of behaving badly in a way that is going to cost them the least.

An Open Letter to Men

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