The Non-Expert

Polaroid by Kim van Groos

You Noogie My Heart, I’ll 69 Yours

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we counsel a young man who can’t read the road signs in a doomed relationship.

Have a question? Need some questionably expert advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


* * *

Question: She broke up with me about a month ago. She asked me out to share a meal with her. We laughed till it hurts. She allowed me to kiss her passionate two times. She made eye contact. She offered to pay for the meal. We acted as if the break-up was behind us. We even noogie’d each other’s head. I said I liked her necklace, how pretty it was, next thing I know she is putting it on me, and saying it’s yours. After that month of breakup, is this good, Does a woman really do that if she doesn’t want to see you again? I even asked her to Blue Man Group, and she said yes. All the signs are there, I just need reassurance, the necklace she wore to dinner, I ended up wearing it home. Please tell me we have a possible future! Thanks.—R.B.T.

Answer: When one is involved in matters of such a delicate romantic nature it is common to feel helpless and hopelessly adrift, a rudderless ship desperately searching for some kind of sign—like a nearby ship carrying an extra rudder, or a floating department store called “Rudy’s Discount Rudder Depot,” or a quick inspection of your ex-girlfriend’s Facebook page where her latest status update reveals she is “on a strict, all-dick diet.”

Fortunately, your description was chock-a-block with telling signs, each one revealing your relationship’s potential for a romantic future. So, let’s look at what you’ve got here:

“She broke up with me about a month ago”

Clearly, she hates your face. Like, really hates it. You know how plane crash survivors sometimes become so emotionally scarred by their tragedy that for the rest of their lives they suffer a panic attack every time they get in another plane crash? Well, by breaking up with you so recently she is signaling that, to her, seeing your face is the romantic equivalent of watching a wing shear clean off a 767 Airbus. And hearing your voice is like listening to the blubbering sobs of a drunk airline captain as he attempts to lead the passengers in a sloppy non-denominational prayer as the insatiably hungry jaws of the Atlantic Ocean grow perilously closer. Also, if you send her a text message, that’s like being reminded your last meal on earth was some Santa Fe grilled chicken, half a can of Dr. Pepper, and a partially defrosted dinner roll that tasted vaguely of Freon. Oh yeah, and the CD mix you gave her? That’s like the plane safely crash-landing, into an AIDS factory. So, at first glance I felt certain the outlook was at best bleak. But, hold on, because apparently there’s more!

Don’t tell her you had the necklace appraised to see if it was made of horse sperm—it will arouse suspicion.“She asked me out…”

Whoa. Forget everything I just said. She wants you, bro.

“…to share a meal with her.”

OK, never mind. This is worse than I thought. Share a meal with you? Share a meal? Now, if you’d said, “She asked me out to eat individual meals, together” or “She asked me out to go over-the-bra on her,” I would wrap this up and insist that you immediately hop in a taxi (or equivalent service) and tell the driver, “Follow that car!” except pointing to your own chest to indicate to the driver that the “car” = your “heart” and then maybe explain he should only follow your command metaphorically because literally following it would mean running over your torso, a weight and impact that would surely crack your breastbone and kill you, rendering all this “do we have a future” business moot. (But I’ll bet it would make for a crazy fun funeral, with the right planning. See my previous Non-Expert advice column, “Planning a Killer Funeral That Won’t Bludgeon Your Budget.”)

But don’t hail that cab (or equivalent service) yet, because this whole “share” business gives me pause. An invitation to share a meal suggests three things, all foreboding:

  1. Ambivalence: Just as she’s unsure she wants to eat a complete meal, by herself, how can you be sure she’s ready to commit again with her complete heart? Don’t be so sure she wouldn’t partially love you and then expect you to pick up the slack.
  2. Thrift: Her generous offer suddenly feels not-so-generous with all this talk of “halfsies,” wouldn’t you say?
  3. Impatience: It is a scientific fact that sharing one meal takes less time than eating two separate, complete meals. DON’T YOU DESERVE TWO ENTRÉES OF HER TIME???

Finally and most portentous, if you rearrange the letters of “share a meal” it spells “a real shame.” It also spells, “a resale ham.”

“She allowed me to kiss her passionate two times.”

A very positive gesture, except according to Quaker law where a second passionate kiss negates the first. Of course, many Quakers transgress this law anyway, because a pair of passionate kisses is the only known cure for Swamp Madness. My point is, great news unless one or both of you are Quakers—in which case it’s lousy news, unless one or both of you suffer from Swamp Madness. (In which case it’s great news.)

“She offered to pay for the meal.”

Now I feel like a fool. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to “read emails from start to finish before using them to condemn the sender’s romantic future” and, less than 30 days in, I trashed it. This is a bad sign for me, but a good sign for you—unless she previously owed you money in an amount equal to or exceeding the cost of the meal.

“We even noogie’d each other’s head.”

Physical contact of this sort—playful, yet hostile—is usually a sign of sexual tension and longing. Noogie-ing each other’s heads may be, in your ex-girlfriend’s mind, a safe alternative to more intimate touching. If you continue to create a safe environment for affection, always making sure to allow her to escalate contact only when she is ready, I would not be surprised if you were soon noogie-ing more erogenous areas of your bodies, as well as 69-ing each other’s hearts. (Please do not steal that phrase; I have a three-year exclusivity deal with

The necklace

The necklace has been a traditional symbol in art and literature for centuries. For instance, the necklace in the eponymously titled Guy De Maupassant story symbolizes of the superficial obsession with social class, and the falseness of those who aspire to present themselves as something they are not. Elsewhere, in the popular ZZ Top song, “Pearl Necklace,” the necklace symbolizes sperm. Do I know which of these interpretations can be applied to the necklace in your story? No. But am I sure it must symbolize one of those two things? Absolutely.

Did you have a chance to get the necklace appraised? Is it made of diamonds or colorless glass? White gold or titanium? Human or horse sperm?

You’re correct to feel confused right now. Your ex clearly sent you many mixed signals. The good news is, while some of those signs are disastrous—I still feel sick thinking about that “share a meal” business—others are less so. My advice is to be gentle moving forward. Allow her to dictate the pace of the relationship for a little while, even if it’s somewhat uncomfortable at first. If this relationship really does mean a lot to you, avoid shaking it up with any hasty ultimatums. Don’t tell her you had the necklace appraised to see if it was made of horse sperm—it will arouse suspicion. And, no matter what any other love advice columnists might tell you, DO NOT try to win her back with some kind of broad romantic gesture, like tickets to the Blue Man Group. That would be a disaster.


TMN Contributing Writer Todd Levin was a writer for The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien. He has also written for GQ, Esquire, Vanity Fair, and Salon. He lives in Los Angeles, where he comforts himself in knowing at least the sun is bright. More by Todd Levin