The Diva and the Peacock

Do you know a woman who always comes to dinner or dinner parties at least an hour late? Does she always have something on that’s somewhat scandalous, like a see through blouse with no bra or a dress so short that you hold your breath when she sits down? Does she flirt with all the men, single or not, and then seems shocked or appalled when they proposition her? Does she require a lot of attention? If so, she’s a Diva.

What about a man? He comes late, makes a big splash, has the loudest laugh, dominates the conversation, flirts with all the women and needs to be in control of the situation. These males generally dress well too. They are Peacocks.

The thing about having friends who are Divas and Peacocks, is that they can lots of fun but hard to be around at the same time. The Diva wants all the male attention, so if you, as a female friend, get more because you are just as pretty, charming and sexy without advertising it, she gets jealous. God forbid, you happen to snag a man she has her eye on, nevermind that he may be one of many, then you will be the object of her envy and occasional comments, if not attempted sabotage. The Diva cannot tolerate the idea that she does not reign supreme and that someone, even a friend, should manage to find the one thing she truly wants but doesn’t know how to get, a stable loving relationship with a man who adores her. (Adore being the operative word.)

The Peacock, conversely, wants absolutely nothing to do with a committed stable relationship unless there is some side benefit (other than sex). Peacocks can sometimes be man-whores as they don’t feel like they are gigolos for extracting favors from the object of their manipulation because they have deluded themselves into believing that the woman they are with is so lucky to have them. Once the benefits run out or they get bored, they leave, feeling bitter and angry for no longer being appreciated for gracing the woman with their presence.

Peacocks and Divas both have a narcissistic quality to them which ultimately inhibits their ability to truly be intimate. They are generally selfish but often quite intelligent and charming, which draws people to them initially. However, a wise person quickly realizes that the Diva and Peacock are fun party friends, but not people you allow to get too close to you. Do not divulge your secrets to a Diva/Peacock. If you are having problems with your boyfriend, a Diva is liable to swoop in an try to take him from you, even just to have him for a night. Knowing she had your man will make her feel satisfied, particularly if she had her eye on him before. A Peacock will do the same with a friend’s girlfriend because he’ll know he got her to succumb to his charms.

Behavior like this fulfills their grandiose fantasies and jealous vendettas.

Do not trust a Peacock/Diva to have your best interests because if your interests conflict with theirs, you can be sure you will get the short end of the stick. Narcissists are incapable of thinking of other people first, so don’t be surprised if they don’t think of you at all, except to do something in a public manner that polishes their image.

Here is the psychological DSM on Narcissism:
Reacts to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation
May take advantage of others to reach his or her own goal
Tends to exaggerate their own importance, achievements, and talents
Imagines unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
Requires constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
Easily becomes jealous
Lacks empathy and disregards the feelings of others
Obsessed with oneself
Mainly pursues selfish goals
Trouble keeping healthy relationships
Is easily hurt and rejected
Sets unreal goals
Wants “the best” of everything (Mama’s note: The implication here is without earning it. They feel entitled.)
Appears as tough-minded or unemotional

If your friends exhibit several of these characteristics regularly, you have a Diva or a Peacock in your life. Enjoy the show, but if you allow the show into your life, the Diva or the Peacock will be the star, and you’ll be lucky to be an extra.

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Be gentle people…

My father Orazio used to say to my children when they would argue and fight, “Be gentle people.” He would take them aside and remind them that they love each other and to find a way to work out their issues without hurting each other. Orazio was a strong, kind man. He had a very civilized way about him. He was a true diplomat in his business dealings and with his family, even when things got tense. He chose his words carefully.

It was unusual for a Sicilian man because culturally, Sicilians are known to go off half cocked and impulsively vomit what ever they are thinking, like some sort of verbal bulimia, with no censor from brain to mouth. They are also quite vindictive, not having much self control when it comes to lashing out in revenge. They after all invented the vendetta.

I learned a lot from Orazio. He made me realize that when we get angry or hurt, lashing out and saying whatever comes to mind only accomplishes one thing, making you feel superior for one moment. But in the end, you have hurt the person you care for and you haven’t really communicated your point because you’ve alienated the person from listening to you at all. He/she is now recoiling in pain. Therefore, you both lose. When you lose control, you lose respect, you lose time, you lose trust and you lose love.

You have more control over getting what you want from people. It depends on how you communicate your needs and desires. You can get what you want, or you can put the person on the defensive and make it hard to get what you want. If you don’t choose your words carefully, and instead have verbal bulimia instead of diplomatic communication, you’ll have a fight or misunderstanding with hurt feelings instead of an understanding and resolution with good feelings.

Particularly when you want to tell someone how you prefer something or what you would like, diplomacy is best. Putting down edicts using words like “I won’t allow” or using negatives like “never” shut the listener off, or at the very least put the person in defense mode rather than making him/her receptive to your desires. Veronica’s boyfriend said this year while taking down her five foot Christmas tree, “I won’t allow a Christmas tree smaller than me in my house.” She responded, “So if we can’t afford a six foot tree, we won’t have one? I don’t think that’s fair. I’d rather have a small tree than no tree. You would deny me that?” He back pedaled and said, “Well, no, of course not. I’ll just have to make sure we can afford a big one.”

He could have said, “I prefer to have a tree larger than me. So I’ll be sure to have enough money next year to buy one.” Veronica would not have bristled. He would have gotten his same point across without the edict, and she would not have to feel like she was having a conversation with Mussolini. The funny thing is, he is quite sweet and really cares about her feelings. It’s hard to believe he truly meant what he said, but in trying to be “the man”, be tough and perhaps be a little overly emphatic and dramatic about his feelings, he gave the wrong impression of what he truly desired. The impression was that he would fight Veronica about having a small tree if they could not afford a large one. But what he truly meant, is he really loves having a big tree, and it means so much to him, he would save money to insure they could afford it, even in lean times. So instead of sounding like a sweetheart, he sounded like the Grinch.

None of us is perfect and we all lose control and our heads from time to time. Things set us off, stress, fatigue and external factors and we sometimes lose our patience and control vomiting our words out impulsively, like verbal bulimics. We are all guilty of it from time to time, some of us more than others. In those cases, we should always apologize and explain what we truly meant to say. But we should also try to avoid the verbal bulimia by, here’s a novel concept, pausing to to think before we speak. Pensa te… (Imagine that…)

My kids have all been guilty of it from time to time, with their significant others, their friends and themselves. Even I am guilty of it. I snapped at Frank Jr. the other day because I had an injury that had me in pain all weekend. My temper was short and my tolerance low. He knew I was having a tough time and gave me some space, but when we spoke about it, I apologized. All was forgiven.

If you pause to think about what you truly mean, what you want and not how to get even, get mad or fluff your own ego in the situation, you might figure out how to communicate what you truly want….And you might even get what you truly want!

Pensa te! Imagine that!

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This year I resolve to…

It is hard to believe that yet another year passes and I’m still giving out advice, recipes and wandering the planet. Every year, I am more grateful for simply being alive and healthy. At my age, I suppose I should not only be grateful, but perhaps believing in miracles. But that’s another story…

We view the new year as a fresh start, a chance to do better at work, be a better mother, be a better partner or friend, to feel better and eat better, and so often we toss all those resolutions in the toilet by February 1st. Why? Because we often aim for perfection in the details rather than resolving to simply be a better person in the larger picture.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on the details, but before you focus on the details, you must resolve to be the best you each day. It’s not about a fresh start each new year as much as it is about each day. Each day gives you a chance to wake up and do better than the one before, but you must also set reasonable, pragmatic goals in the detailed small picture to make those resolutions work each day. The devil is in the details.

We tend to be pedantic and emphatic in our resolutions. We tend to want to correct all of the errors of the year before without thinking ahead to account for the obstacles of the future. We are, none of us, perfect, and we should not ever hope to be so either. So therefore resolving to go to the gym 4 times per week for an hour every week without fail is unrealistic, especially because a social life, a family or work may interfere with your rigid schedule. But resolving to make time each week to exercise as much as possible and necessary to stay healthy, in good shape and feel good about yourself, is a good resolution. It leaves room for error, for unforeseen obstacles and doesn’t make you feel like you blew it because you got sick on January 9th and didn’t go to the gym for 2 weeks.

For example, I tell my girls not to resolve to diet, lose all the weight and keep it off the entire year, but rather to resolve to diet and cheat occasionally, but always to return to the diet the next day. This way, you do not set yourself up for failure within two weeks of your new diet and give up.

I do not diet. At my age, I believe I get a free pass. I am sexy simply because I am still able to take care of myself, I have lived an interesting life and I have a winning personality. (I am also apparently very humble.) An 81 year old man with any sense is more turned on my ability to cook for him than what I look like in a black lace teddy. And if he isn’t, he’s not looking for another 81 year old woman. He’s looking for someone my daughters’ ages. Buona fortuna! (Good luck!)

The older I get, the more I see the value in pragmatism, moderation and tolerance of my own and others’ frailties. I am also more indifferent to other people’s judgments of me and petty annoyances by others. What other people think of me is none of my business. And what I think of them is often none of theirs either. I am not being fake or phony with people. I am genuinely pleasant, but I am careful not to extend myself or include those who have not earned a place in my inner circle on my most intimate thoughts and opinions. It is harder for people to hurt you or create chaos in your life if they have little or no consequential information about it.

I have a few friends I call close, who I trust and on whom I can depend. I give them a wide berth because they have proven themselves to be true friends. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes I do. But our love, loyalty and respect always makes it possible for us to apologize, own up to our frailties (or enough of them) and move forward. Each day, I resolve to be a good friend, and to be aware of the needs of the people around me as well as my own. It’s a difficult balancing act sometimes, but whatever I mess up today, I can always try to mend and improve tomorrow. I offer my friends and family the same opportunity when they have made little messes too.

Resolutions each year are nice, but it is truly more important to resolve each day to be the best version of yourself. Don’t wait for Dec. 31st to improve. Do it a little more each day and then use the year as a marker to see how you’ve improved.

I’d say I did ok in 2011. We’ll see how I do in 2012.

Buon anno!

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Sei disgraziato! (You’re a disgrace!)

Francesca was at a restaurant with friends owned by a dear friend of ours the other night. This restauranteur started out as a chef and now owns several restaurants and has his own sauce with his face on the jar in a limited number of stores. In short, he has worked hard to build a very successful business.

We have always been treated like royalty at these restaurants. We are treated like his family, and since we’re all originally from Sicily, we might be.

However, the other night, an employee seemed to think he was a member of this family by his actions. He was a rather new employee, a man in his 50s or 60s, and definitely old enough to know better than to behave the disgraceful way he did.

Francesca got up to use the bathroom and on her way back to the table, she stopped to say hello to the manager and to politely inquire about his family and say how nice it was to see him again. This employee interrupted their conversation to tell my daughter how beautiful she is and then proceeded to ask her to dinner.

Call me old fashioned, but I think it presumptuous for a man of any age to ask a woman out after one sentence, but I am sure there are some people who will disagree with me. But it is even more presumptuous for a waiter to ask out a customer after one sentence, especially a customer who is like a sister to the owner. Francesca politely declined him even though she felt like calling him rincoglionito (a dumb asshole)!

Francesca decided not to tell the owner because she knew that this would certainly result in his being fired. Although she felt he was absolutely inappropriate and un cretino (a cretin), she didn’t wish to wield her power in a way that might be hurtful to him financially in such a bad economy. Francesca showed a sense of boundaries, good education and impulse control throughout. I was happy to hear that she handled it with such grace.

However, it turns out, this waiter did not deserve it. When Francesca returned to the restaurant a few nights later with another friend, the waiter discovered she is a doctor. He asked her for a prescription! When she declined explaining that she could not legally do that unless he were her patient, he became rude and angry. “Oh come on! It’s not a big deal! Why don’t you want to help me?”, he said.

Francesca and her friend were appalled. Her friend is not this waiter’s friend. How dare he attempt to guilt her into violating the law in addition to her own sense of ethics!!! He has no sense of place, no breeding, no respect and no decorum! When you work in the service business or any business, you are certainly not a slave. You are entitled to dignity and respect, but you must also give it. Working in the service industry in particular requires a sense of integrity, decorum and graciousness, not self entitlement. É disgraziato! (He’s a disgrace!)

Francesca told the owner the next day, and he fired the waiter immediately. I ran a restaurant for years and I can tell you without a doubt that I would have fired that waiter on the spot too. This kind of violation of boundaries and decorum can keep people from the restaurant. In this economy, can anyone really afford to turn customers into negative publicity? This waiter should have considered that his job was not only to serve the food, but to make customers want to return. He should have been especially gracious to long time customers and people who have such VIP status as to be treated like family.

Did he really think that he was fulfilling his obligations to his job? He was only fulfilling his own short term needs.

Again, disgraziato!

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Mille grazie! (Thank you very much!)

It’s the time of year when families get together in the USA to give thanks for all their comforts and for the love they share together.

NOT!!!

It’s a time when they to eat a gluttonous meal of turkey, potatoes and pumpkin pies and tend to forget how lucky they are. Families fight or get on each others’ nerves at best on Thanksgiving and holidays more than any other time of year. They should call it black Thursday instead of referring to black Friday as the shopping day.

Why do we seem to forget how much we mean to each other? Why do we focus on what we don’t have instead of what we have? Why do we pick on each other over minutia rather than see the big picture of how each person makes a difference in our lives? Why do families get together only to criticize each other and squabble?

We tend to forget what is really important and instead spend our holidays trying to show off, putting up our emotional walls and forgetting to be grateful for the basics, having a roof over our heads, food on our tables and for each other’s support and love. So many people don’t have such basic things, particularly today with the economic crises worldwide affecting so many families. It is more important than ever to survey what is good in our lives and be grateful.

Therefore, I thought it only fitting to take the time to tell you what I am grateful for:

My family. My son and daughters are wonderful. I had a wonderful husband, God rest his soul, at least he was wonderful to me and our children. I was ignorant to the fact that he was a hitman, for which I am also grateful. I am grateful for my health. At my age, that’s a biggie. I am grateful for my wonderful friends who are always there when I need them and appreciate that I have been there when they have needed me. I am grateful that I have enough money to have a decent roof over my head and food on my table. I may not be eating caviar, but I am happy with a nice plate of pasta and a decent chianti anyway.

I am grateful that I live in a country that is not torn apart by war and where I don’t have to wear scarves, veils and robes that cover every inch of my body. I may not have the greatest body anymore, but I still want to wear what I want, like a bathing suit on the beach in the summer. It is not a bikini, and I may not look like a super model, but at least it’s not a full length dress.

I am grateful that I have God given abilities and talents that make my life more interesting such as singing, writing, cooking, giving sound advice and marrying off couples that are still happy to this date. I am grateful that my children are healthy, happy and have homes and jobs.

I am grateful to all my subscribers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers who read my posts and support me. Grazie!

I am grateful for all the love in my life, and I’m very grateful to be alive.

At your Thanksgiving meal, take someone aside to whom you may not have shown enough love and appreciation and tell him or her, “I am grateful to have you in my life.” Give him or her a hug and a smile. You’ll be amazed at how much happiness you will have given, and that you will most likely get in return.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Siamo contenti adesso? (Are we happy now?)

I was talking with my daughters and their friends the other day and I heard the strangest thing. One of them said to me, “I finally met a guy who gives me the affection and compliments I’ve always wanted, who pays attention and dotes on me and treats me with such respect and generosity. It’s weird. I don’t know how to react.”

Strano (strange). Isn’t the answer obvious? I almost smacked her over the head asking her, “Ma che cazzo stai pensando?” (What the fuck are you thinking?), but I restrained myself and kept it simple.

“ENJOY IT!!” I replied.

“But I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. I mean, can it be real?” she said.

“Do you think he is insincere?” I asked

“No. I think he is very sincere.”

“So what’s the problem?” I asked

She sat there sheepishly trying to explain her statements. “I don’t know… I just guess I waited so long to get it, now that I have it I don’t know how to deal with it.”

“You mean, you’re so used to men treating you badly, when one finally treats you well, you don’t know how to enjoy it.” I said without skipping a beat. “Don’t you believe you deserve it? Don’t you want to be happy?”

“Of course I do. I mean I think I do. Why? Do you think I don’t? I mean he’s sweet and not needy. He just wants to make me happy, but it seems I don’t know, weird.” Before my eyes, she had tied herself up in knots.

And therein lies the problem. This girl could not believe this man was treating her like a princess because after years of negative reinforcement, she had begun to believe she did not deserve it. And something inside her was afraid to be happy and enjoy the moment. Even if the relationship is fleeting, why shouldn’t she enjoy the best part of it while it lasts? She won’t know what’s going to happen in the future, anyway, so why predict doom and gloom when there is no reason to?

I have said it many times that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Only time will tell to which category one belongs. I don’t advocate this woman losing her head and heart completely over some man she’s only just met. However, I do believe in living in the moment and enjoying it. I also believe in keeping fear at bay when it comes to relationships. This girl is beautiful, smart, funny, talented, a hard worker, passionate, generous and kind. She’s not perfect, but she’s definitely a catch. Her fears have her wondering why this man is so kind to her after so many were not? Is it her fault? Is there something wrong with her that he would soon discover and therefore revert to the asinine behavior she was so accustomed to? Or is it a façade, a tactic, a lie? Only one way to find out, spend the time, and enjoy it while keeping your eyes open.

We tend to get so worn down by the weight of our past relationships, that we often forget to be happy in our current ones. There is no guarantee that any relationship will work out. People change, sometimes not for the better. Life is full of surprises, some good and some challenging. It takes time to discover who people really are and whether or not we can get along with them. And discovering someone can take a lifetime, and even then, do we really know them? I discovered my husband Franco was a hitman after he died! He’s lucky I didn’t find out before, or I would have killed him myself!

We must work on ourselves every day if we want our relationships to flourish. We must remind ourselves and each other to be patient, tolerant and be constantly appreciative, considerate and respectful of each other. Verbalize your contentment. Don’t be stingy about it or use it as a control tactic to have the upper hand in the relationship. Tell your partner how nice he or she looks, how much you like what he or she does for you, say thank you and tell your partner you appreciate the little things. Never take each other for granted, and don’t forget to say I love you and I miss you often. There is no such thing as too much if you truly mean it.

When you give a relationship the best of yourself, you should expect the best of your partner in return. And when you are getting the best of your partner’s self, don’t wonder why. Appreciate it! Enjoy it! Don’t just think it, say it!

Because if you want to keep your thoughts to yourself, you might as well be by yourself.

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Un po’ di simpatia perfavore… (A little sympathy please…)

My daughter Veronica just suffered heartbreak…again. She’s resilient and smart, but she just has not been lucky in love. Timing is everything in life, and love seems to be the combination of good timing for two people. In her case, the man cared for her deeply but just isn’t ready due to past circumstances that left him with a broken heart and a lot of trauma. With time, he may realize that he misses her, and if she is still inclined to give him another chance, he may return. In the meantime, it remains a painful loss for her.

Veronica called me just after it happened. I could tell she was in shock, in pain and just wanted to be comforted. Giving people advice when they are nursing a fresh wound is the worst time. Giving altruistic trite responses, such as, “When you are open to it, the right man will come your way,” is even worse. It is insensitive and not helpful.

One of her friends did exactly that. This girl knows little about Veronica’s life and has been in LA exactly a month. She herself is in a precarious marriage due to her rather naive view of relationships. As such Veronica took her advice with a grain of salt and tried to tell her nicely that she didn’t want to hear it at the moment. Instead of being sensitive and understanding, she became insulting.

“You’re good at giving advice, but not at taking it,” she snapped at Veronica. Veronica then attempted to explain her situation and defend her mostly positive outlook on life. No one is positive and happy all the time. We all have our moments of despair and sadness. We are all entitled to a pity party every now and again. The trick is not to allow your despair and fears to influence your choices. Veronica always makes her choices from strength.

Feeling more empowered by Veronica’s defense, this girl took a step further on her train of insults. “Find a guy who’s older, has his life together and then you’ll be happy.” When Veronica tried to defend herself again, the girl replied, “Forget it, you’ll get it someday.” Che arroganza!!! (What arrogance!)

Veronica reeled in pain. Her boyfriend who had asked for time to think about things was quite together. He has a good job, he’s quite intelligent and he’s been totally honest with her. However, the ghosts of his past relationship were influencing his choices with Veronica and he was afraid to take the next step. Fear is a powerful thing, and it can paralyze you. Veronica understood and cared for him enough to lovingly give him time to think about it, all the while knowing that he may or may not be able to heal his heart. She realizes that in a couple weeks if his fear of losing her is not more powerful than holding on to his past pain and fears, she will have to heal herself and move on.

Even in her shock she understood that. The fact that she feels tired of the disappointments of dating and feels like hibernating is healthy. As longs as she does it to recharge her heart batteries and doesn’t use it to hide and withdraw, it is actually quite wise. It does not mean she is not open, it simply means she’s taking a little pause to consider things and heal.

However, this “friend” saw fit to judge Veronica and insult her because her belief in her lofty opinions was so strong. As a result, she ended up hurting Veronica instead of helping her. Instead of being sympathetic, the friend was arrogant and pedantic. And this arrogant advice comes from a girl who married a man she knew for two weeks, whom she has been supporting financially because she comes from wealth and whom the girl herself had serious reservations about re-marrying in a ceremony several months later in front of her family and friends.

I happen to know Veronica is open to finding the right person, but she lives in LA, a cesspool of vagabonds, Hollywood poseurs and wanna bes. Finding a good person worthy of her in that environment is like finding a needle in a hay field. It can be done, but it will require time and a little luck. Veronica has had a tough time due to the economy as well. It has seriously limited her ability to socialize and meet people which does not help. Her break up compounded with her financial situation felt at that moment like the weight of the world was on her shoulders.

When people are hurting, what they need is sympathy and empathy. To be a true friend is to try to comfort a friend in need. Too many people think they can “fix” the situation and start dispensing advice and trite phrases in an attempt to pull the person out of despair. Save the advice for later. Just be a friend, give TLC and tell the person you care. Tell him or her that you’re sorry it happened and offer a hug, literally or figuratively. The time to give advice is once the person is no longer in shock, when the hurt party has had a little time to think and reason. Reason cannot penetrate when a wound is fresh. So no point in force feeding it to someone. Giusto?

After a good night’s sleep, a little TLC from Mama and from a couple of more sensitive friends, Veronica felt much better. She awakened the next day in good spirits and ready to face whatever life had in store. She had returned to her strong self again. She even said, “Mama, it will be fine. Que sera sera. If he realizes that he was running scared unnecessarily and comes back soon, then he and I will be stronger together. If he doesn’t, life is simply making room for someone better to come into my life and love me the way I deserve to be loved. Either way, I am happy.”

Brava!

Veronica had also considered the source and decided not to take offense by this friend’s foolish behavior. Molto saggia! (Very wise!) However, she had said in anger to this friend that she was more worried about her situation than her own, which was Veronica’s polite way of saying that perhaps this girl should not be dispensing advice. Feeling bad that Veronica had perhaps offended her, she sent the friend a message that she was in shock the day before, couldn’t process and then thanked the girl for trying to help. I thought that was rather big of her, especially since she was practically thanking her for being an insensitive ass. However, Veronica believes this girl did not mean any harm, she just doesn’t know any better.

That’s my daughter. She may only be 5 feet tall, but her heart and capacity to forgive are enormous.

Two days later, the friend had still ignored Veronica’s attempt to smooth things over, proving once again that this girl has no business dispensing advice.

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Mama’s Rules for Dating

When it comes to dating, I constantly get asked advice on what to do, how to handle the relationship and what is the right course of action. I have matched over a dozen couples who remain happily married over a decade later. So I must be doing something right… Giusto? (Right?)

So I decided to put down Mama’s Rules for dating.

If you have read the book, “THE RULES”, throw it out. It is an antiquated book with antiquated ideals on how to catch a man. It advises a woman to to lie, manipulate and be passive agressive in her approach to dating. I cannot see how this is a good basis for a relationship, regardless of whether you are male or female. The ladies who wrote this obviously do not agree with me, and you are welcome to disagree too after you’ve read my rules.

I will concede that men generally do not know what they want. They do often need to be led into the decision and the decision must come from them, not from your insistence, but that’s most people in general. However, men still feel a certain pressure once a relationship starts to become serious to decide whether or not they are ready: 1) to give up their “perceived freedom”, 2) to be in a serious relationship.

I say “perceived freedom” in quotes because men often feel that even if they still have the same ability to see their friends, work long hours and basically live their lives the same way, they like the idea that at any time, they can just do what they want when they want and sleep with whomever they wish. Even when they have no real desire to be with anyone else, they like the idea that they can. This ideal is often hard for a man to give up, especially if he has not given it up before or if he has given it up for a long relationship just recently that ended badly.

Dating requires honesty, patience and sometimes cajoling. If a man is slow to commit the best answer is simply just letting him know subtly that if he doesn’t figure it out within a reasonable time frame, you will move on. My husband Franco used to tell our daughters to give an indecisive man about six months because it is often the thought and choice of losing you over their freedom that makes him finally choose whether or not to commit, but he needs to get to know you to have a real choice to make. So do you. Dating is like a long interview process, with a lot of emotional investment in the outcome. I’m not even talking about marriage, simply just becoming a committed dating couple! When the time is up, sometimes, he won’t choose you. Maybe you won’t choose him. In either case, avanti! (Onward!)

I have always said that when a relationship ends, it was no longer right for you. This is God’s way of making room for another person, better suited to you. Don’t dwell on the past, go forward and be open to what it ahead. Positive energy attracts positive things.

I do not condone playing games. Live your own life, go out and see your friends, do your job, travel, have your “me” time and don’t wait around for them to call, to text, facebook or to make a date with you. If a man hasn’t called you by Thursday for a Saturday night and you want to make other plans. Do. But conversely, if he waits until Friday and you don’t have anything planned for Saturday, don’t say no to him just to make him think you’re busy. Believe me, he isn’t thinking that hard about it.

One of the biggest mistakes women make is they expect men to show too much interest in the beginning. One woman couldn’t understand why a man who had asked her out didn’t call anymore after she had been “too busy” to see him even for a drink or coffee the week before he left for a three week business trip. She wasn’t actually too busy, but she wanted to seem busy so he would keep asking her out because in her mind that meant he was really interested. This meant to him she wasn’t really interested. She yanked his chain all week. He left for his trip and never called again. Che sorpresa! (What a surprise!)

A player would love this behavior, but most nice guys loathe it. It’s scary for a man to ask a woman out. He risks rejection, so if you want to go out with him. GO THE FIRST TIME HE ASKS! Don’t wait for three invitations engraved in gold!

If this girl had made time, even if she was truly busy, to see him for even one hour, or if she had made definitive plans with him when he got back, “I’m sorry I really am swamped, but let’s get together on the Tues night after you get back so you can tell me all about your trip,” he would have found it endearing. Most likely he would have looked forward to seeing her again when he returned and might have called her while he was away to keep the interest going. Instead, he felt rebuffed. It was no small wonder why she never heard from him again.

Players will adore you from the start, will overly flatter you, make grand overtures again and again and do everything to make you think they’re nuts about you. BUT, just because a man pursues you, sends you flowers and gift and takes you expensive places doesn’t mean he’s interested in a substantive relationship. Over-flattery and barrage of attention generally means he wants to seduce you. If that is the case, best not to fall for it and have sex the first night, unless that’s all you want. If you take your time, you can suss out his intentions. A player will lose interest and move on to easier prey if you seem to want more substance. Substance is like a four letter word to a player.

There’s a difference between seduction and wanting to get to know a woman. Men who really are interested in a woman don’t pull out all the stops in the beginning. It’s not because they don’t want to sleep you with you. Let’s be honest, all men will still try to get you into bed as soon as possible, but it is not their main objective if they’re not players. Their main objective is to see if you have chemistry and if they want to see you again. If they get you into bed sooner rather than later, all the better for them. It really is that simple.

My advice is have sex when it is comfortable for you. If you think it’s right the first night, do it. I’ve known many married couples who met and had sex on the first night because the chemistry was that strong between them. If you want to wait, wait. If he likes you, it really won’t matter. Men separate sex and emotions in the beginning. Emotionally, most men take their time to get to know you before opening up. Sexually, they’re always open. Men have no problem being physically intimate, but they are slow to become emotionally intimate mostly because they fear losing their themselves in the relationship and ultimately losing control of their emotions. Falling in love seems to be more scary for them than for us.

The truth is, we are the stronger sex. We are stronger emotionally. We bounce back from failed relationships more easily too. We are more able to take risks emotionally as a result because we are brought up culturally to want to be part of a couple. Women get far more pressure to be in relatonships, married and have families earlier than men. Plus we handle our emotions better. We have friends we talk to and air our concerns. Men are more internal and rarely discuss their feelings with each other. Men are also lauded for their bachelorhood and then chided when married for having “the old ball and chain!” Porca miseria! (What a misery!) It’s no wonder they fear commitment when it’s described like that!

So, you as a woman, have an uphill task of showing a man that being with you will not be a prison sentence that limits his freedom (except the freedom to mess around) and takes away his ability to make choices and have a life, friends and ambition. At the same time, you must decide if you want this man as well. Women often get so caught up in the chase themselves, they never stop to think whether or not this man is good for them! It is fair of you to expect his honesty and to let him know what you want out of the relationship. Don’t insist or talk about this frequently, but do make your desires and needs known, and then be zen. Che sera sera.

As for men out there, my advice to you is to be honest and fair. I’m sorry to say it, but in your equivocation, you can often be unfair to the women you date. You often want it both ways. You want us to be available to you when you want us, but then you don’t want us to have any expectations. That can last a couple of months, but then after that, you’re gonna have to step it up or step out. The worst is the player who lies in a predatory manner and the serial monogamist who just doesn’t like to be alone. Neither really cares about the women he’s with, but he simply wants company for a night, a few nights or a year or two, and will tell a woman what she wants to hear to get it. Neither has any intention of being serious. Neither can truly commit. Being dishonest about it while in this promiscuous society of available non committal partners is to be cruel to those with more serious intentions. I have no kind words for predators of this kind from either sex. You are stronzi!

But for those who are honestly giving it a try, in all relationships, there must be some compromise, but one person should not have lien share of them. Compromises should somehow balance out, and each person must try to make the other happy in addition to himself or herself. Relationships require patience and tolerance on both people’s part and a willingness to listen, support and respect each others’ desires and needs. They also require communication, not just of what bothers you about the other person, but what makes you happy too.

If you make a man happy, and he perceives his happiness with you to be greater than the happiness he would have alone. He will most likely want to commit. He may have to break up with you to find out this truth. If he does and he comes back, he’ll have to earn it the second time around to show that this time, he knows what he wants. Don’t let him back easily, and think hard about whether or not you want him! A smart man (and yes there are some), a mature man and a good man, will eventually realize what he has within a reasonable time frame and make a decision you’ll both be happy with. Give him space and time, and in the meantime, live your life. There is nothing sexier, stronger and more attractive than a woman who knows who she is and what she wants.

And as I have always said, make all your choices from strength, not from fear. The outcome is always better, and you will be happier.

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Bridesmaid-zilla

My daughter, Veronica, and her friend Kate called me last night to discuss a little hiccup in Kate’s wedding. Veronica is the maid of honor. Apparently, Kate was having trouble with another bridesmaid, Helen. Kate was exasperated and Veronica was starting to feel the same. In the four meetings the bridesmaids had for fittings, addressing invites, etc, Helen was over 45 minutes late to two of them and a no show to the other two. Each time, Helen showed absolutely no regret nor did she apologize. She simply gave some excuse and defended her flakiness with some sort of emergency.

Veronica said, “I find it hard to believe that each time she legitimately had a problem. She’s either totally disorganized or lying. Either way, the end result is the same. We cannot depend on her. And although it’s an annoyance to me and the other bridemaid, it is hurtful to Kate.”

Kate had tried on numerous occasions to explain that she felt abandoned and slighted by Helen’s complete lack of sensitivity. Helen only defended her actions and never apologized once. When Veronica tried to intervene and explain it her, she retorted, “Well I don’t show my emotions that much.” We all agreed that was a total cop out. Disgraziata! (She’s a disgrace!)

Veronica explained that as a last resort, she tried to mediate a meeting with Kate and Helen to come to some understanding. Kate’s frustration with Helen had escalated to the point where she and Helen could no longer discuss things calmly. Veronica, clearly following in my footsteps, arranged for them to meet on a Friday night at a neutral location to talk, with her sitting in the middle to keep things calm and reasonable.

Veronica had planned to let both girls air their frustrations, so that both felt heard. She then planned to explain to Helen that accepting the honor of being a bridesmaid was not just about wearing a dress and walking down the aisle. It required you to help the bride and be emotionally supportive to the fact that she has to plan a huge party, balance family politics, keep to a budget that will invariably go over and that she is about to enter into a legal arrangement for the rest of her life. No matter how much one is in love, marriage is daunting. Therefore, it is the duty of the bridesmaids to be present physically and emotionally for the bride. Kate, on a Bridezilla scale of 1 to 10, 10 being worst, is a zero. She is so easy going, not demanding at all and really just wants to have a wedding that everyone will enjoy.

Veronica gave up other plans with a man she’d been seeing to go to a reading of a script, an evening that was not only personally important but could have been professionally important. This was the only night Helen had available. Kate came all the way from the other part of LA to meet somewhere in the middle so Helen wouldn’t have to do all the driving. Although Veronica confirmed with Helen twice, including the night before, and had tried to make Helen understand that things had escalated to the point that the girls needed to talk immediately or trampled feelings would be hurt further, Helen was a no show. She texted them at the last minute with some supposed allergy attack that left her unable to drive. There wasn’t a hint of regret or regard for the fact that Veronica and Kate had given up their evening for this meeting. Veronica was livid!

Veronica said, “Short of seeing a photo and getting a doctor’s note to prove it, there’s no way I can believe a word that comes out of her mouth anymore. I’m sorry, but she just didn’t want to come. It’s inconsiderate, immature and selfish. If I were Kate, I’d tell her to Vaffanculo!”

Brava, figlia mia. (Good girl, daughter of mine.)

So what to do with this maid of dishonor?

Kate didn’t want to kick her out because they have been friends for years, have too many common friends and she felt that their might be trouble and gossip. I agreed that was certainly a possible consequence. But that said, Kate was uncomfortable with the idea that Helen would be in her wedding having shown such disregard for her responsibilities and feelings.

Veronica offered a solution, although I’m not sure she meant it as a solution. “I have half a mind to write her an email and tell her just how selfish she’s been, detailing her lame excuses for her tardiness and absence and tell her that we all feel we cannot depend on her further.”

I interrupted. “Actually, that’s not a bad idea if you can find a way to do it matter of factly and without attacking her. If you simply tell her that these are the facts and that they have led you and the other bridesmaid to feel that you cannot depend on her to participate responsibly. Tell her that you are concerned that whatever she has agreed to do, you will now have to make other arrangements because she has proven herself to be unreliable at best. Explain how that hurts you, Kate.”

Kate asked, “But, what if she doesn’t do anything to make it right?”

I responded, “Then she doesn’t care. But maybe she just needs a serious wake up call to see that she’s not been as attentive and responsible as she should have been. If she doesn’t come around, I’d tell her you’d prefer she just come as a guest.”

Veronica retorted without hesitation. “Be sure to tell her that her total lack of regard for our time and efforts is just inconsiderate to all of us.” My daughter never had a problem expressing herself. Maybe that’s why she’s a writer, and a good one too.

Kate was a little more hesitant. “I don’t know. We’ve been friends for years, and I know she’ll be pissed off when she gets that email.”

“Do you feel she’s been a good friend, Kate?” I asked. “Well, not really. I’m actually really really hurt. And it seems like the friendship has become very one sided,” she replied.

“So then, you won’t be losing much if she goes away, except maybe an even number of bridesmaid and groomsmen,” I said trying to inject some lightness. “If she’s really your friend, even if her feathers get ruffled, she’ll want to mend things.”

Kate said she wanted to think about it. She didn’t want to make any rash decisions. That’s always a good plan.

So while she’s thinking, I decided to write this post. Perhaps Helen will read it and get the message. What she does with the message, I cannot control.

It’s devious, I know. But don’t be shocked, I am, after all, Sicilian.

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Figurati! (Forget about it!)

My sensitive daughter Veronica called me last night, and I could tell from her voice she was upset about something or someone. I asked her, “Cosa c’é, tesoro?” (What’s wrong, sweetie?)

She proceeds to tell me her story. Her friend, Paula, had a screening of her short film at a small festival. Veronica drove almost an hour in traffic to support her friend and see the film on the big screen. She had already seen it online. There were a series of shorts being shown, her friend, Paula’s, being one of the first. After seeing Paula’s and then several other terrible shorts, Veronica got up to use the bathroom during the last one. By the time she was done, she peaked in and saw the last short was rolling credits, so she waited in the lobby and ran into Paula’s other friends. They were all going to a bar to have a drink and toast Paula. It’s LA, and they all have separate cars. They texted Paula that they’d meet her at the bar, figuring she and her director would be right behind them.

It turns out the screening had a Q&A after. There had been no announcement and Paula hadn’t mentioned it. Paula was upset that her friends weren’t there for it. However, plenty of people had questions for them, so it’s not as if it was a disaster. Paula and her director met up with them at the bar and was visibly annoyed with Veronica and her friends. Veronica explained that she didn’t know there was a Q&A and would have stayed if she had. Paula seemed to have accepted it, and they all enjoyed the night.

Or so Veronica thought…

Apparently Paula had gone home, chewed on her annoyance all night and all morning, and unable to contain her disdain and disappointment that her friends had “abandoned her” for the Q&A, decided to call Veronica and tell her exactly how she felt about it. Veronica listened and explained again. Paula insisted that every screening at a festival has a Q&A. Veronica told me, “Mama, I’ve been to tons of festival screenings, and they don’t always. And they usually announce it before the screening so that people know to stay in their seats when the lights come up.”

Veronica explained that no amount of apology or explaining that it was an honest mistake placated Paula. In fact, Paula took her explanation as being defensive rather than as an attempt to clear up the misunderstanding. Veronica said, “I asked her what I could possibly say to make her feel better? She started yelling at me saying that she had a right to tell me how she felt. But I don’t think she had the right to tell me ten times! I felt like she just wanted to reprimand me for being a bad friend and she had no interest in clearing the air. Of course I got defensive! She didn’t accept my first ten apologies or my explanation! I’ve been nothing but a good friend to her, and she went off on me like I had killed her dog! Tremenda!” (She’s unbelievable!)

I told Veronica she was right. She had already apologized and explained more than necessary. When Veronica let Paula know that she had gone too far, that made her ignite. No one who is being unreasonable wants to be called out! It usually makes them angrier.

It seems Paula is very sensitive, but in this situation, only about her own feelings. I happen to know that Veronica has been her most supportive friend. She’s helped her with contracts, introduced her to producers and directors, helped her get auditions, helped her prepare for them and advised her on how to handle her agents, managers, business friends and boyfriends. Veronica is not without faults, and I am not just a being partial Mama, but she is truly a generous and loyal friend.

Veronica, “I talked to one of the other girls, and she said that Paula had mentioned it to her the night before, but was only mildly annoyed. What the hell did I do differently to get blasted?”

“You were was probably the first one Paula called who answered,” I said only half kidding.

Finally, Veronica chuckled, “Why couldn’t I have been busy? Porca miseria!!” (What a misery!)

Paula had gone home focussed on the misunderstanding, rather than focussing on the positive which was that Veronica and Paula’s other friends had driven an hour to the other side of Los Angeles to watch a 17 minute film and support their friend. But it sounds like Paula’s insecurities and need for validation made her question her friends’ support and loyalty, instead of chalking it up to a simple misunderstanding.

Paula lost her perspective in the situation and her perspective of her friendship with Veronica. By focussing on the small misunderstanding and her disappointment as a result, she let her emotions spiral out of control. When she called Veronica, there is nothing Veronica could have said that would have made Paula calm down because Paula was not interested in calming down. She was interested in laying blame, guilt and shame at Veronica’s doorstep. It was a no win situation. Impossibile!

Veronica asked me what I thought she should do. I told her to write her a nice email explaining that she came out to the screening to support Paula, that she was not aware there was a Q&A and that she was sorry that the misunderstanding left Paula without her friends at that moment. Gently remind Paula how supportive she has been over the years and that Paula should focus on that, rather than the misunderstanding. Tell Paula that she had a right to voice her disappointment, but she also had the obligation to listen and accept Veronica’s apology and explanation if she wished to clear the air. By going on and on instead of letting it go, she distorted the whole situation into an unnecessary drama that left them both unhappy.

Drama belongs on the page, the stage and the screen, but not in friendships.

Then, I told Veronica, “Figurati (forget about it). You did your best, you’ve been a good friend, and you’ve been the bigger person in the situation. Now the rest is up to her.”

“If she doesn’t respond, I’ll just use it in a script as catharsis.” Veronica giggled.

Good idea. 😉

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