Dear Zelda Wisdom Fear Factor bulldog humor advice therapy dog advice column

Men (6/21/06)

Dear Zelda,

Where have all the men gone? The Clark Gable, Cary Grant types who swept women off their feet. I'm in my 30's, single and still looking for the man who will make me swoon. I watch the old movies and wonder whatever happened to the men who brought women flowers and chocolates? Where are the men who would write poetry as well as protect you?  All I see are guys drinking beer, playing video games and acting like children.  What's up with men today?

Wanted: Clones for Clark and Cary

Dear Wanted: Clones,

Personally, I have always been a Bogart girl, but then I do have a thing for jowls. Regardless of the identity of your classic-film crush, whether it was Clark Gable courting Vivian Leigh in Gone with the Wind, or Cary Grant being cavalier with Audrey Hepburn in Charade, the stereotypes for men were very different in those days. But to be fair, it isn't just the stereotypes for men that have changed today; take a look at us women. While we've been busy burning our bras, starting our own companies, and generally saving the world, there are probably men out there still longing for June Cleaver clones. That doesn't mean I'm going to put on the apron tonight and make a meatloaf, but I would say that modern gender roles are confusing for a lot of people, myself included. If you can bull-ieve it, sometimes I come off so tough that people think I'm a boy! Let me tell you, it's a very embarrassing situation for a diva to find herself in.

In your case, it sounds like you are looking for an 'old-fashioned' kind of guy, for lack of a better word. The answer to your predicament boils down to one word... communication.  I've seen people, and I watch them all the time, walk away from a problem without discussing it with the other person. How many relationships have you lost that could have been saved if you'd just let the man know that it is important to you that he opens the door or brings you flowers?  Women AND men need to communicate better today. The next time you meet a man who interests you, tell him what you're looking for, and be discerning about his responses. Let him know that perhaps gardenias are your favorite flower, and that nothing makes you happier than a box of Moonstruck Chocolates. I bet he'll get the picture, and soon you'll be surrounded by gardenias and swooning over the way he treats you. If not, have the resolve to move on to the next audition, and hold another casting call for a Clark or a Cary. Be persistent, look in the right places, be honest and respectful in your communication, and you'll find him.


Dear Zelda,

How can I encourage my boyfriend to take more risks in his work? This is his first job out of college and he works for an insurance company. He isn't exactly setting the company on fire, and I'm afraid he might even get fired. I love him, but yet can't imagine being married to someone who doesn't have bigger goals or more ambition. What can I do to ignite a spark in him?

Sparkle Plenty

Dear Sparkle Plenty,

Well there are a lot of effective ways to ignite someone's fire; the only one I wouldn't suggest is pouring gasoline on him and lighting a match! But there are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself before deciding whether it's worth trying to start that fire in the first place.  First, has your boyfriend been a risk-taker or a go-getter in other aspects of his life? If not, he may just not have a very engaged or aggressive personality. Or, is it just that his present job doesn't excite him? I can't say I blame him for being a little bit bored at the idea of working in insurance every day. It doesn’t make my tail wag either, but maybe he just needs to find something he's more passionate about getting up to do each morning. The easiest way to find out is to simply talk to him about it.

If you think it's the job that doesn't excite him, encourage him to take stock and think about what would light his fire. Help him look for a job that makes him want to jump out of bed in the morning. You're both young, and this is precisely the time to figure out what it is you actually want to do with yourselves. Maybe he wants to be the boss and own a company. Maybe he wants to write for the local newspaper. Maybe he'd like to be a fishing guide. Maybe he'd like to just work as a bartender for a few years. The truth is, there are a billion different paths to success and happiness in this world, and the most important thing isn't what you do, it's how you do it. Help him find his passion, and be patient if that passion takes a while to emerge, or isn't exactly what YOU'D like him to be doing. Ultimately, where there's passion, there's fire.

You may need to take stock too.  If "soaring with the eagles" is how you want to live your life, and your boyfriend isn't into soaring, you may need to go find yourself a fellow Eagle Scout who's ready to swoop down and grab the world by his talons. Someone once said the most important thing in a partner is to find someone whose dreams are the same size as yours. Relationships need to work for both parties involved, and you need to find the right match for you. Remember that a good match, both in your relationship and your career, will light your own fire too.


Dear Zelda,

My dog, Mable, hates my mailman. Why does she aggressively bark at him and what can I do to stop this?  Mable never barks at my friends when they come to visit.  It's just the mailman.

Mad for the Mailman

Dear Mad for the Mailman,

I don't think it's the uniform, or the fact that the mailman is bringing bills and junk mail, that's making Mable mad. The answer really lies in dog language, or more specifically, body language. We dogs instinctively like to be the guardians of our homes, and often we bark when someone comes to the door, sometimes even when we know the person. So when the mailman deposits the mail, then turns around and walks away from the house, we interpret this as submissive body language in dog terms. Originally we just barked because someone was there, but when he actually turned around and walked away we think our courageous barking scared him enough to leave. A big woofing win for us! Hence every time we "scare off" the mailman with our fierce displays, we get more confident and more aggressive. And once this cycle is in place, it can continue until there actually is a problem between the mailman and your dog. Hence, mad-dog-mailman syndrome.

You humans shouldn't sit idly by and let this happen.  You need to work with your dog on some obedience lessons to correct the barking and aggressive behavior.  It would also be helpful to take Mable outside on a leash to meet and socialize with the mailman. My mailman, Chris, has let me crawl around in his truck, and you can just imagine the many intoxicating smells coming from all those letters. After that, I was hooked. Give your mailman a bag of Mable's favorite treats in advance, and have him carefully offer one to her. (I'd suggest initially tossing the first biscuit for fear of possible damage to your letter carrier's fingers.) Finally, stop Mable when she's barking at him, and tell the mailman that it's okay for him to tell Mable "no" when she barks, so that she understands his position of authority.

Do this consistently and soon Mable will be willing and able to meet and greet your mailman with her own special delivery of licks and love.