Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
It's been a few months since I've moved in with my boyfriend and I'm happy to report that I couldn't be happier. I was more nervous than I probably let on before it happened but now that it has, I'm ever more resolute that I've made the right decision. Of course, that's not to say every moment is perfection despite my best efforts at trying to make them so. After a few weeks, you start to get sloppier and sloppier in holding up that homey-hologram projecting how you want to appear to the other person. We had already been dating a year and a half by the time we moved in so there were no big secrets to discover, however, I don't even think I lasted a month before he realized how infrequently I actually wear lingerie as compared with sweats. I also discovered we have a big glaring issue when it comes to our TV watching that I didn't anticipate. He refuses to watch the "scenes from next week" alleging that it's tantamount to a spoiler whereas I'm desperate for every snippet of next week's episode. This really turned out to be one of the most difficult things for us to navigate in our relationship and while still not completely resolved, it has settled somewhat into a detente where oftentimes, I force him into the kitchen while I watch the last minute on our DVR but sometimes the DVR just cuts the show off and I've tacitly agreed not to adjust the settings to extend the recording by a minute. (I often wonder if every relationship ends up like this -- a holding pattern of give and takes regarding the most mundane aspects of life -- no wonder great love stories always stop once they finally get together.)
But despite these hurdles, things have transitioned pretty smoothly. Yes, I watch a lot less Bravo, but he's given in on rinsing out the sink after brushing his teeth, and I've agreed for now to buy cheese with fat (he had low-fat cheese for the first time when I bought it and said it tasted like cardboard) and he's come to accept I will never be ready in "five" minutes.
So I would say there's very little to report except that our recent move did seem to complicate things for everyone else. Being an unmarried couple living together apparently gives everyone you come across carte blanche to inquire as to your status as a couple. Our lives seem very happy but our status seemed to agitate more than a few people.
At first these comments seemed to be mere outliers. But as they became more common, I realized that many people's interest had been piqued by our living arrangements and they wanted to know: were we just trying our relationship out or were we going to get married, or were we the type of people who are against marriage? But everyone had some inquiry as to our plans and they also didn't quite know how to ask about it:
A neighbor kept apologizing for calling my boyfriend my husband. I told her it didn't matter to me and she didn't have to keep apologizing but she said something along the lines of I don't judge as I'm sure you have your reasons.
A window treatment specialist started chatting me up on the house tour wanting to know all about my plans. I see you're not engaged but are you getting married? I told her no, thinking maybe unmarrieds seem poorer and she'd give me a discount but the quote still came out to six grand.
At our neighborhood association holiday party, someone introduced us and an older woman replied, oh you're the professional unmarried couple. I didn't know whether I disliked being known as professional or unmarried more but none of it felt particularly complimentary.
And it wasn't just socially. Insurance agencies, the power company, home designers, the mailman, credit card companies, Home Depot -- they all want me to give them the magic answer to just what are we? Of course there are also a few folks who are inquiring simply to let me know they disapprove. Usually women, they often let me know I'm an embarrassment to my gender and a failure in the how to snag a man department. But these were just a select few; by and large, most people's questions seemed to be more genuine than critical.
So at first I thought most of these people wanted some reassurance that this step was temporary. That we we are still the kind of people that believed in marriage. But then I realized that it was more nuanced. They seem to be struggling because they can't figure out where we belong without the appropriate label. People just don't have a reference point in their head for what our status is: they're looking for a mental box to put us in to understand what stage of our lives we are in. It would almost be easier if I said I don't believe in marriage because then people could just think of us as unconventional-types. But that not being our position, there's not a lot one can say.
So in fact, I've been wondering what am I supposed to say? I'm left in a status conundrum. I have no good answer. But I do have a happy life. So for now, I just tell people the truth: we're cohabiting, we're proud, and we're very happy. Hopefully, that's enough.
4.26.13 at 10:07 am | It's been a few months since I've moved in with. . .
4.15.13 at 9:18 am | My timeline got married, knocked up, and moved to. . .
4.2.13 at 11:33 am | Much of the discussion surrounding Sheryl. . .
9.13.12 at 8:10 am | I signed a new lease on a house last night with. . .
9.9.12 at 8:28 pm | Yes, our little blog on the Jewish Journal made. . .
8.17.12 at 9:30 am | Women are constantly flinging those heels off for. . .
9.16.11 at 11:01 am | Last weekend, I stayed at my boyfriend’s. . . (69)
2.27.12 at 4:35 pm | Internet porn has entered your bedroom. (36)
3.15.12 at 10:08 am | At some point during your dating career, you will. . . (26)
April 15, 2013 | 9:18 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I used to love Facebook. Of course, I would have never admitted it. But the truth is, up until about 2010, Facebook was mainly a website for young people. Young people doing stupid things. And it was glorious. But now, I can't stand it. Now, all it is is one big family photo album full of weddings and babies all the time and I'm so bored with it I can barely bring myself to go on.
A new study is out about Facebook regret. Researchers explored what type of information people post to Facebook that they later regret and why. Interestingly enough, it reads to me like a litany of the Facebook posts of yore that are so frequently absent from newsfeeds nowadays. People regretted posting pictures of themselves partaking in illegal drugs or underage drinking. One of my favorite research subjects is the woman who regretted posting a video of her husband and her having sex when she accidentally tried to post a video of her daughter's first steps and didn't realize the mistake till the day after when she read the comments from her husband's coworkers. But most of the regrets are more trivial and reminded me of the small mundane ways people used to constantly embarrass themselves on social media: After being broken up with, one guy writes on his ex-girlfriend's wall "I f&*#ing hate you! You will never be loved again you anorexic piece of s#%!." Another guy said on his page that he wanted sex with a newly divorced friend. Another woman wrote on a friend's page congratulating her on her pregnancy only to be told that the friend wasn't pregnant but had undergone serious weight gain. Most of the participants then talked about how they became more careful after these experiences, sanitizing their walls and comments.
Which is exactly what I've noticed, and it's made Facebook suck. Facebook used to be one big dare to see who would really throw caution to the wind. People used to drink too much, use the grainy pixelated cameras on flip phones, and take truly embarrassing photos of themselves passed out on bathroom floors. Just from my newsfeed alone, I used to regularly see pictures of bongs, learned what a vaporizer was and began to wonder if maybe the life of a vandal was for me. I remember finding out an acquaintance of mine's husband was cheating on her when their status got changed from married to single, and a friend of the woman posted on her page about the lying cheating jerk she was married to. People used to write lots of flirty messages on the walls of their crushes or make plans to go to the spa in the middle of the day on a friend's wall as opposed to texting each other for no apparent reason except to make other people jealous. But just last week, one of my friend's posted on another friend's wall about Coachella plans and the next comment read "why don't you PM me," as in private message. I found this incredibly irritating. How am I going to know now if the place I'm staying at for Coachella is cooler than their place?
Facebook used to be about us. About my friends' lives and thoughts. But as my friends have gotten older, begun taking their jobs more seriously and started families, my Facebook experience has changed with them. It's like my timeline got married, knocked up and moved to the suburbs, and now all it wants to do all day is talk about new social networking sites for kids. It's practically impossible for me to go on and not come across new bridal pictures and baby photos. And, I'm sure this makes me a horrible person, but honestly, am I the only one that thinks all my friends' babies look alike? I get it, they're cute, you've dressed them well in ironic hipster onesies, but would it kill you to put up one drunk photo of yourself now and again? The worse is when they change their profile picture. I get it, now that you're a mom, you've moved so far beyond vanity that you no longer care about how you look, and the only thing in the world that matters is your kid. But come on, usually this is the same person that put up 500 different pictures posing in her wedding dress and is carefully culling every photo tag for unflattering pics to detag. It seems more plausible that you've changed your profile pic to your kid's because you are sure you officially have the most adorable baby in the world and want everyone to know.
This has all happened gradually, over the last few years, as our parents and bosses have become Facebook friends and as we've entered a new stage of life. But it seems to be at a critical mass; my friends only posts now are about what kind of food they're eating, where they're on vacation or how great their spouse and kids are. The only friends I have that post anything interesting are the ones that use Facebook to broadcast their extreme political views, usually with some preamble in the post about how they never normally post things but this petition is so worth it, or this one video will make you cry, or this one article will change your life. This group is somewhat annoying, but also somewhat tolerable because they're still willing to put themselves out there in a way; I may snicker behind their backs or talk about how crazy they are to all our mutual friends, but at least they're still interesting.
But all my other Facebook friends are just perennially lost to me. What happened to them? These are the friends that used to seem edgy and cooler than me and like their lives were one misstep away from an arrest. But now, every time I login, it's like going to Grandma's house in Florida while she flips through pictures of graduations and Bar Mitzvahs and weddings of people I don't know on occasions I don't care about it.
I'm guessing this may be acutely noticeable for my age group. Having been in college when Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook and having joined very early on in 2004, I feel as though my generation is aging with Facebook -- literally I've almost spent a decade on the site. I understand, now that we're all older and care about human resources trolling through our online profiles and that our lives have changed and our posts will be different, but maybe that's a sign we need to bow out of Facebook. Maybe it's our time to turn it over to the younger generations. Let the younger generations make fools of themselves the way young kids do in epic ways on social media. But maybe we, the generation that started it, need to stop using it? The same way you stop going to college bars and get too old to sleep in your car or have blue hair or a tongue ring or work as a waitress for a living. Some things are better left for the young at a particular time in life -- maybe Facebook should be on that list. I was recently at a college bar where half the kids looked they had used fake IDs to get in. It was fun to look around and see how young and nervous everyone looked and how little they knew about their tolerance level. We had one drink but then we left. I didn't want to stay. It would have been weird now if all my friends wanted to go hang out there and talk about wedding planning or who was pregnant or how much being a lawyer sucks.
Dropping in on a college bar brought me a nice nostalgic feeling, but it's not where I belong anymore. Is Facebook really so different? It's something we did in college and our early 20s when we were reckless and didn't have a lot to lose. Can't we leave it at that? Embrace it for what it is, so it stays fun in our memories instead of trying to turn it into something we grow with? Once you have the urge to turn Facebook into a family album, let that be a sign that you've outgrown these britches. Join Flickr and send the albums to your friends. Turn your wedding website into a family website where you post pictures of your kids for the grandparents to see. Email links to Picasa. But please, I'm begging you, leave my news feed alone.
April 2, 2013 | 11:33 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Much of the discussion surrounding Sheryl Sandberg's dictum in her recent book Lean In that women self-sabotage their careers by not speaking up and failing to be assertive has revolved around a woman's struggle to fulfill a desire for motherhood and a career. Having not yet entered that stage of life, I cannot speak to the motherhood aspect, about which much has been said. But it seems there is little controversy about this idea that women's docile behavior early on in our career or before motherhood is hindering our success in our professional lives. Sandberg argues women don't speak up because we want to be more "likeable" and cites research to support the contention that there is an inverse correlation with likeability and success for women. She specifically calls out young women, presuming that the reason we won't risk being labelled unlikeable by exhibiting aggressive behavior is because of our inclination to seek our colleagues' approbation. She says to us "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" The thing is, she may be right that we young women self-censor ourselves, but she ignores an alternative and very plausible reason for this -- one that women discuss privately in embarrassed tones. As junior high cliché as it sounds, single, ambitious women often wonder "will he like me if I speak up at the meeting? Will he think I'm obnoxious, overbearing or too aggressive? Might he be turned off and see me as unfeminine if I demand attention or claim leadership?"
This question has played a small part, but a part nonetheless, in my own life, and I wonder if for some other young women, it's an even bigger hindrance. For most of my life, under the tutelage of a mother who never in her life feared being labelled obnoxious, I followed Ms. Sandberg's advice. I was professionally aggressive, the only woman to walk up to the mic at a Q & A, the first to volunteer, the one who asked the most questions in a class. But there was a time in my twenties when I started to doubt myself when engaging in this behavior. When you're single for a while, you naturally start to wonder, am I doing something wrong? And so I began a biopsy of my behavior -- do I come off as too masculine? Do I scare men off? I remember being on a first date at a talk with "This American Life's" Ira Glass at Royce Hall in UCLA years ago when a Q & A session arose and a burning desire to ask a question quietly flared up inside of me. Usually, in situations like this I had always aggressively jumped up or loudly yelled to get a question asked with no fear. But this time, I looked at the man next to me and asked myself what would he think if I did that? I liked him and I wanted him to like me and I started to consider the cost of yelling out my question. Most men don't list aggressiveness as a quality they desire in a mate, so might he just label me as being weird or annoying or attention-seeking if I stand up to raise my hand? By the time I listed out all the possible names a man might call me for asking my question, the Q & A was over and I missed my chance.
I hated myself for censoring my behavior for a guy, but it was not the only date I went on where I chose to act more demurely and avoid incidents that might make me seem like a firebrand. Considering that recent surveys suggest 39% of people have dated a colleague (some surveys suggest the number is as high as 56%) coupled with the existence of a number of women whose love interests go unrequited, a certain percentage of women are monitoring their behaviors at the workplace based on what a guy might think. How many women hold back in speaking up at a meeting, asking for a raise or criticizing a work product because of how a perceived love interest might react?
Of course, this whole discussion is regressive and embarrassing to admit. While for a sizable measure of the population, it is noble and respectable to limit one's career ambitions for the sake of a prosperous household, no woman wants to admit something as juvenile as having not spoken up in a meeting because of a secret workplace crush. But anecdotally, it seems to happen all the time to women I know who are lawyers and executives, so it doesn't seem far-fetched to say some percentage of women out there are doing this. And for single women who desire a relationship, potential love interests are anything but trivial. The desire for love and companionship in navigating the quagmires of our futures is real and universal and a strong motivator in our actions so dismissing these fears is no easy task.
So the next question that arises is how well-founded is this fear we have of turning off men by being "aggressive" or "obnoxious?" Do men really find women who speak up less attractive, or are we just doing this to ourselves because women are as guilty of men of being misguided by societal notions to believe traditional notions of femininity are what men want? I have no idea. But I do know that it doesn't happen to all men. Over a year ago, I was at a different talk for an NPR show, this time it was "Radiolab," and again, when the Q & A rolled around, I had a burning desire to shout in a booming voice my potentially noisome question. This time, I was next to my current boyfriend and for a fleeting second, that old self-doubt entered my mind -- would he think I was obnoxious? I could check with him first and ask him what he thought about my question or tell him to ask for me. But I could no longer pretend to be something I'm not, namely quiet -- maybe I am a little obnoxious, but shouldn't he still like me anyway? So with no warning I shouted out to the hosts on the stage, Jad and Robert, and heard my voice echo as the thousands of people in Royce Hall quieted down to listen to the lone women in the audience who had asked a question. "Good question" my boyfriend whispered and squeezed my hand.
Maybe if we do what Sheryl Sandberg suggests and 'lean in' by risking more aggressive behavior, although there will still be men who will label us as unlikeable or annoying, not all of them will. At the end of the day, all you really need to find is one guy out there who will like you even when you are obnoxious. And if someone thinks you're annoying for being aggressive, then he's probably not the one anyway. And perhaps if we all give up our fear of being a little obnoxious, we'll stop thinking of loud women as obnoxious and redefine what's considered sexy and attractive in the first place. There was a time not that long ago when any woman with a career was considered unattractive and had to listen to countless warnings of you'll never find a husband. But now, that seems as ridiculous and outmoded as Patti Stanger trying to convince women that men don't like curly hair. Men's opinions of what is sexy and confident evolves as our culture's opinions of what is sexy and confident evolves. If we decide we all need to speak up more and be more aggressive in our career-driven daily lives, we can redefine what is attractive to a man. In the meantime, let everyone else talk behind my back about how unlikeable I am. I found one person who's going to like me anyway. Meanwhile, I get to take Sandberg's advice to lean in and be as assertive as any man would be while pursuing my career.
September 13, 2012 | 8:10 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I signed a new lease on a house last night and so officially on October 1st, I will move in with my boyfriend and become one of the millions of cohabiting unmarried un-engaged couples that have begun to define my generation’s demographics. After an exhaustive, stressful search which required a grueling schedule that included looking at almost forty places, five websites, filling out four credit applications, making three offers, two realtors who now hate me, and one tantrum, I am so relieved it’s all over and so excited about creating our little home together. But as I signed last night, I realized, as an unmarried couple, this was the first formal commitment we were making to our relationship. I began to wonder is signing a one year lease a commitment to stay in my relationship for one year?
One of the first places we looked at (which happened to be on “Hart” street) offered an awkward glance into our relationship status. We were wandering around empty rooms, trying to picture our life within the freshly painted white walls, making conversation with the landlord. He asked where we currently lived and after we told him, he exclaimed in mock astonishment “oh, moving in together for the first time?” We laughed politely and said yes. Then he turned more to my boyfriend and said, mostly-jokingly I’m sure, “are you sure you’re ready to make a commitment for one year?” I had never thought about it like that before and suddenly felt a little embarrassed at this assumption that us moving in together meant the man in the relationship was true-to-cliché and reluctant to make a formal commitment and the woman had pressured him into cohabitation. I just smiled while my boyfriend with more aplomb than I could muster in the moment said “hopefully a lot longer than that” and kissed me on the forehead.
But because we’re not married, I hadn’t thought much about moving in together defining our commitment as a certain length of time. We are making a commitment to move our relationship to the next level and I have given a lot of thought to that. But I also imagined that in an unlikely worst case scenario situation (I blame law school for these types of thoughts), I would move out, not that I would stick it out, for the year. And these are two very different worst case scenarios. I started to wonder if what I was agreeing to was a little different from what I had imagined. Am I making a solemn pledge to this relationship for one year?
This past weekend, my parents knowing I was paying less than half of the rent asked us if I was going to be signing the lease or if it would just be my boyfriend’s name on the actual document. I hadn’t considered this before because my assumption always was that I was going to be signing. My boyfriend quickly jumped in saying it was completely up to me. I realized he was giving me an “out” if I wanted. He was saying if I wanted to make less of a commitment, I could. Did I want an “out”? If the purpose of moving in together is to enter into a commitment that’s less than marriage, wouldn’t tying myself up with a tangential legal obligation defeat the purpose? If I’m not on the lease (and paying a small portion of the rent), I could make a clean break at any point. I could walk away pretty easily and it wouldn’t be messy.
Last night as I sat with my new landlords to negotiate the lease, they mentioned the other offers they had received and divulged that though they very much wanted us as tenants, they had talked over their slight apprehension about renting to a young unmarried couple. They admitted it had given them pause as it could potentially create problems down the road. Essentially, they were worried about getting screwed on the rent if we broke-up, but they had a good feeling about us and ultimately decided they were willing to go forward.
So then it was just me who had to decide. How committed to this relationship did I want to be? With the pen in my hand, about to sign, I remembered that I still hadn’t talked to my boyfriend about a contingency plan for breaking up or moving out. I thought about not putting my name on the lease. I could still back out. If I haven’t made the active decision to spend the rest of my life with him, didn’t I want the ability to leave if things turned out in some unimaginable way that resulted in us breaking up?
But I didn’t want the out. I pictured the next year of our life in this house and its garden. I pictured us making dinner in our new kitchen, and reading in bed, and even having the very occasional fight in this new place. I tried to remember everything that’s ever given me pause about this relationship in the year and a half we’ve been dating. And in that moment, I decided I didn’t want the ability to make a clean break and walk away easily. I wanted to make more of a commitment than that. I decided that if I felt I might need an out in the next year, I shouldn’t be moving in with him at all. I wanted him to know that I was all in.
So I signed. In some way, I guess I have made a legal commitment to my relationship for at least one year. But it felt good to do it. A little nerve-wracking yes, but also like I was officially saying l have faith in us. And if I want more of a legal commitment than one year, I’ll just have to have faith in him.
September 9, 2012 | 8:28 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
According to Maxim I've been selected as one of their favorite nightlife bloggers. Let's not split hairs over the nightlife description. It was an honor to be included. Sorry, it's taken me so long to get it up here. I was on a vacation and then we've were updating our website, but it's all done now and new posts will be up shortly!
Check it out here, where they say:
These are the Hunter S. Thompsons of the digital age...but better looking.
These lovely ladies have one of the best jobs in the publishing world: Write about parties. Here are the coolest, smartest, and hottest nightlife writers and bloggers the internet has to offer.
August 17, 2012 | 9:30 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Having spent a lot more time in an office lately, I’ve come to notice a troubling trend: women are constantly flinging those heels off for flats or flip-flops and I just can’t stand it any longer. These women wear their heels for about two minutes total and the rest of the day, they’re trudging around in shoes more fitting for the beach with their pants held up around their ankles with rubber bands. Therein lies the problem: the outfit they planned for the day and checked in the mirror before they left the house was a smart outfit perfectly tailored to those stylish heels. But the outfit most people throughout the day will see them in is a netherworld of messiness nobody was intended to view.
Now, I’m not telling all women they have to wear high heels all the time. In fact, if these women never want to wear heels again, they should go right ahead. But what I can’t stand are all these sloppy half-office half-vacation outfits that seem to dominate the work place these days. This could easily be fixed by just wearing flats. If you want to plan every outfit with a pair of flat shoes, go ahead. Buy a pair in every color. Have every pair of pants tailored for flats. (Remember pants should always be hemmed for either heels, never being more than ½ inch to 1 inch away from the ground, or for flats but never to some in between length.) When trying on new clothes, assume you’ll be no taller than you are in your bare feet and shop accordingly. But please stop asking us to hold-up so we can wait while you pull your sweaty feet out of your heels and throw on shoes you can actually walk in.
As a general rule, no one should be taking their shoes off out in public. This means if you go out for a night on the town no one wants to see you at the end of the night walking barefoot outside to find a cab with your heels slung over your shoulder. Nor does anyone want to hear a woman complaining all the time about how much her feet hurt. Once, you’ve walked out the door in heels, you’ve committed to them till your back home and inside. They shouldn’t be coming off.
Part of the problem is many women buy the wrong kind of shoes in the first place. When you try on a new shoe, you should not just be checking to make sure you can fit all your toes inside. You really need to walk around in them to be sure you can actually WALK in them. Yes, you need to be able to walk and walk well, as in heel to toe without holding on to someone, in order to make a determination that you should own those shoes. Many shoes need to be broken-in first so wear them around the house before you wear them to work. If your shoes are giving you blisters, they do not fit you properly. Try some sort of Dr. Scholl’s pad or gel or try them with stockings or band-aids, but if you can’t wear them without getting blisters, donate them to Goodwill because they don’t fit you. If you’re not getting blisters and they still hurt see if you can wear them for short outings to build up your calf muscles or perhaps just admit that heels are not your thing.
But you’ve got to stop buying shoes to pose in. Shoes are for walking not posing. This pandemic that has spread through the workplace which requires us all to accept that women will be taking their shoes on and off all day has got to stop. Men aren’t untying and retying their ties all day long every time they leave for lunch. If a change is necessary, treat it like you are changing your clothes. For instance, if you wear flats with a dress to work and you want to wear heels with the same dress after work, change in the bathroom or in your office if you can close the door. I understand there are certain circumstances where a change is going to be unavoidable. But the normal workplace environment should not include women in flip-flops with long pants being held up by rubber bands all afternoon after changing shoes at lunch. Nor should it require all of us to become accustomed to watching women take on and off their shoes all day. Lincoln said be sure you put your feet in the right place, and then stand firm. If you put your feet in the right shoes, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you can’t walk firm in heels, your feet are in the wrong shoes.
August 16, 2012 | 9:33 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Check out my review in The Huffington Post on The Ultimate Yogi here.
July 16, 2012 | 10:01 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately; almost every weekend for a while now and in addition to a terrible case of jet-lag I have picked up some tips on how to approach the complications of the TSA without sacrificing your dignity. With summer travels upon us, many of us are preparing to brace the security lines of airports around the world. Some of this advice would seem obvious but based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence, it seems that it still needs to be said. Perhaps if we all adhered to some simple Security Manners, our lines will move a little swifter.1. Sunglasses
Don’t try to go through the metal detector with sunglasses on, only to be told to take them off and go through again. No one, let me repeat, NO ONE is that cool. They’re going to have to come off. Don’t pretend you forgot you were wearing them and force us to wait while you get reminded that you’re just like everyone else.2. Clothes
Be prepared to take it all off. If you’re wearing an unflattering shirt under that jacket and hoping no one will see it, change. If you’re wearing a see-through camisole, prepare for an appearance as an exhibitionist. If you’re not wearing a bra, you have no right to be mad about anyone looking at your nipples. Have a bottom layer on that you are not embarrassed to bare. And per common sense, please let it be more than your new Victoria’s Secret purchase.3. Toiletries
If you’re carrying it on, these are coming out. There are no secrets when it comes to the TSA. Any weird creams you’ve ordered, any anti-aging Chinese herbs, any embarrassing prescriptions, any old retainers, whatever it is, it’s going to be exposed. Be prepared for the TSA officers, any nearby strangers, or any traveling companions to see them. I learned my lesson on this one the hard way. Just six weeks into dating my boyfriend, he took me on a romantic weekend in Mexico. At that point we were still getting to know each other and I had not yet slept over his house so he had not seen the big embarrassing nightguard I wear to prevent teeth grinding when I sleep. The whole time we were there, I went to great pains to keep hiding it from him, waiting for him to fall asleep till I snuck back into the bathroom to put it in. I thought I had made it through the whole trip with my secret safe till we were going through security on the way back. TSA went through all my stuff, holding up my retainer as my boyfriend cracked up, asking why he’d never seen me wear it before. Luckily, my shame was no more than teasing fodder for my boyfriend. But if it’s going to cause you more serious consternation, take the extra ten minutes to check your luggage. Standing by your stuff, hoping to shield your toiletries from prying eyes not only holds up the line but plainly doesn’t work.4. Never Flirt First, But Feel Free to Flirt Back If They Start It
Even if you think he’s looking you up and down, never never under any circumstances initiate flirting. The situation is too rife with potential dangers for you to test the waters. However, if your TSA agent starts it, feel free to joke back. In two recent times I’ve gone through security, an agent has joked with my boyfriend about me and pro forma my boyfriend attempted to joked back. It happens, same as anywhere else. The obvious difference is here the consequences are potentially a lot more serious if your rejection is rude. So if you have to take off your jacket, it is inappropriate to point out to the TSA agent that it was so tight in the first place, there isn’t any room to hide anything (I literally saw this once). On the other hand, if he’s asking you for a date as you’re taking off our shoes, all bets are off. Which brings me to…5. Shoes
Boots that require laces are simply rude. Don’t make everyone wait for you to wear the one pair of shoes you have that take five minutes to put on. Essentially, any shoe that takes more than ten seconds to remove needs to be taken off before you leave the house. Seriously, if you’re sitting on the conveyer belt imploring your husband to use both hands to tug your boots off, is it not obvious you’ve made a serious travel blunder? If you can’t walk well in your heels (that means heel to toe without holding on to anything) keep them in your luggage – really this should be true of every day but it’s especially irritating when you’re holding up people with flights to catch because you can only take one step every five seconds. And lastly, if you only have one pair of socks without holes in them, let this be the day you use them.6. Jewelry
As a general rule, you must be able to get it on and off quickly. I thought belly chains were a lost relic from the 90’s along with Ace of Base, hair wraps, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Until my most recent jaunt through security, that is. The girl in front of me went through. She beeped. She took off more layers. She beeped again. She got felt up. They made her lift up her top and expose the culprit: a belly chain. What are you doing wearing a belly chain under three layers of tops? You knew you were going to being flying that day! If your outfit requires a lot of jewelry, leave it in your purse that day and put it on after you’ve gone through. Pieces with simple clasps are preferred as it’s inappropriate to ask the TSA gentleman to help you take off your necklace as you sweep up your hair (see #3).7. Laptops
As a writer, I understand a woman’s attachment to her laptop. But come on, do you really think you’re the first person to try to keep her iPad in her bag and argue that you didn’t think it was a laptop? If you want it to be the last thing you send down the conveyer belt, I understand. But there is nothing cute about trying to hide your laptop in your bag. And speaking of bags, if you know you’re going to have to take it out, why is it in the bottom of your oversized over-stuffed Louis Vuitton bag?8. If A TSA Agent Asks For Your Phone Number…
Of course, you don’t have to give it. But you might want to let him down with deliberate gentleness. Perhaps, smile and say thank you but you have a boyfriend is my recommendation. Even if it feels like just another guy asking for your number, he’s still a member of the TSA and if he wants to, my guess is making you miss your flight is one of the nicer things he could do.9. Be Polite
I’m so sick of seeing people roll their eyes because TSA asked them to take off another layer of clothing or put a watch in a bin. They’re just doing their job. If you tried to sneak something through and they catch you with five ounces of hair gel, stop giving them attitude. If you have to throw away the commemorative special edition hot sauce you just bought, it’s not their fault. Don’t expect them to make a special exception for you because you’re a cute girl and then be irritated with them for simply trying not to get fired.
10. Differentiating Between Pick-Up Lines and Security Instructions
I know that sometimes it’s hard to tell but here’s how to differentiate between some of the more popular ones I’ve heard:
Ma’am, you’ve set off the metal detector – no.
When you walk through the metal detector, you make my heart beep – yes.
Belts off please – no.
I handle the belts around here – probably yes.
Wait, till I’m ready – probably no.
Where you heading to today? – unclear, need more information.
You getting on a plane to paradise because that’s where I’d be taking you? – yes.
Shoes and Jackets off – no.
You can take a lot more off if you prefer – probably yes.
Only three ounces of liquids and gels are allowed – no.
You don’t need to bring any liquids when you’re with me – yes.