Sounds Like a Plan

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:13

    Dear Mark, I’m head over heels about my neighbor. He is perfect in every way—he doesn’t even slam the door like the other folks on our floor—but I can’t seem to get him to notice me. We’ve made conversation in the hallway, had drunken stumbles home from the bar together, and he’s even come over to slay bugs, but I am having trouble taking things to the next level.

    What can I do to let him know that I’m interested in something more, while not ruining what we already have?

    Well if he likes it, then he’d better put a ring on it! Wait. Sorry. I’m kind of obsessed with “Single Ladies” right now. In case you haven’t heard it, that’s the song that introduces us to Sasha Fierce, Beyonce’s “unstoppable diva” alter ego. It’s an irritating gimmick when she mentions it in interviews, but it doesn’t distract from the rock-stomping awesomeness of the track.

    For those of you that know it, just admit it: Every time the song comes on, there’s at least one part of you that wiggles. Every time the beat drops, you feel a little bit fierce yourself.

    And in your case, dear reader, fierceness is just what the love doctor ordered. Because despite being a cartoonish oversimplification, the Sasha Fierce character has a kernel of truth: Sometimes, you have to speak up for yourself. If your man is mad that he lost you, then let him know he needed to work harder to keep you. If there’s a man you like, then tell him how you feel. I’m not saying you should go sitcom crazy. Don’t rent a band to play the bridal march when you come down the hall or anything.

    But someday when you’re in a neutral space—i.e., not in your apartment building—casually ask to him go out with you. Say, “Would you like to go on a date sometime?” If he says yes, great. If he says no, try to let it go quickly.

    Mostly, though, don’t build it up in your mind too much. If you feel like your future happiness rests on dating him, then he’s likely to sense your desperation and back away, regardless of how he feels.The more laid back you are, the more comfortable he’ll feel about answering honestly.

    And seriously, you deserve to be laid back. He’s already your friend, so he obviously thinks you’re cool. Even if he doesn’t want to go out with you, he’s not going to stop liking you because you asked. A real friendship would never break down because of something like that. (I know from experience on both sides of the equation.) Own up to your feelings and you’ll be empowering yourself.That kind of self-confidence is valuable because it makes you Sasha Fierce. Or Alexandra Flawless. Or Betty Perfection.You get my point.

    Dear Mark, I recently went on a work-related vacation with my boss. He told me to save all of my receipts so that I could submit them as expenses. Once we came back to New York and started figuring these things out, he put all of his own paperwork through and ignored my requests. I don’t want to seem petty, after all they’re just smallticket items like cab fare and sandwiches, but I deserve to be reimbursed.

    How can I explain that I’m not trying to be cheap but that I could use the money (and probably a lot more than the boss needs it, who makes twice what I do)?

    Uh-oh! Sounds like we need more Sasha Fierce! Well OK, we need Sasha Fierce with a workplace edge, which means we need Dolly Parton.

    Your letter didn’t specify your sex or sexuality, so if you’re a straight man, please understand that gleaning wisdom from Dolly Parton will not shrink your testicles.

    The world she sings about in “9 to 5” belongs to all working people, not just secretaries with acrylic nails and sassy, no-nonsense attitudes.

    Based on what you wrote, I’d guess you feel like a “step on the boss man’s ladder,” but you don’t need to feel intimidated by his authority. He specifically told you that he’ll reimburse you for your receipts, so you’re entitled to follow up. And remember: It doesn’t make you petty or cheap to ask for what was promised you. It’s not like you begged to get your cab fare covered. Since your boss offered, he should respect you enough as a colleague to file your receipts.

    It’s possible he just forgot about your request and will be grateful to be reminded. When you talk to him, don’t give a speech about why this money matters to you, and don’t apologize for requesting it. Just be polite, direct and succinct. And make sure you remind him face-to-face. Emails are too easy to gloss over. Keep me posted on what he says. If he gives you guff, it may be time for a different song altogether. As in, “Take This Job and Shove It.”

    Mark Blankenship also runs The Critical Condition , a groovy site for pop culture criticism.

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