Shane and Tyler

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This post is also on DiscoverThePractice and Patreon

I walked down the hillside field, its slight slope gently amplifying winds and making it easier to get kites aloft. Everybody uses the park. The city built ballfields and a playground on the other side of the parking lot and a big gazebo in the middle of the field. A friend caught one of my kites’ lines in the gazebo’s roof once and it took some good flying to get it free.

I could hear the cheers and catcalls from people in the ballfields – must have been some exciting games going on – and laughter and chatter from families on the playground. People must have parked on the far side of the ballfields because this parking lot was practically empty.

An empty parking lot is one of the things I look for, a good sign, it means the field will be open, plenty of room to run out my lines and fly a kite or two between the gazebo and the street. A good wind rustled the trees high up, their tops dusting the sky, and I had already chosen my SkyDancer as the kite to fly. I walked down the field carrying it, its tails, lines and two ground pegs in my hands.

A man and boy had a little area set up on my right, between the gazebo and the parking lot. Not a problem, still plenty of room. A t-ball stand stood beside them, a whiffle ball rested on top, a broad, plastic yellow bat and several more balls lay on the ground next to it. The boy, a toddler based on his size, slightly awkward movements and shrieks of joy, threw the balls back and forth to no one. He’d throw one, go get it and throw it back to where he started then repeat the process over and over again.

The man knelt on the ground, his eyes focused and his hands busy. It looked like he was rigging up a single line delta. I thought that a small, single-line delta would be more work than it would be worth but said nothing. I had the day off and wanted some time to myself.

Child's Delta Kite

They got their delta up. Then down. Then not quite up, then definitely down. Then down and down and still down.

But the man wouldn’t give up. He’d get the kite up and he’d hold the line with the boy and let the boy take the line and the kite would come down and he’d go to work sending it back up.

And on one attempt, the boy called out, “I love you, Daddy!” and the man called back, “I love you, too, Son!”.

I’d just finished driving my ground pegs into the earth and had walked out my lines, my SkyDancer still in its pack along with its tails, and something told me to offer them my Big Sled. The Big Sled is actually a fairly small kite. I got it long ago. A local kite store was going out of business, I got there their last day, there wasn’t much left and I refused to go home empty handed. It’s more a kid’s kite than something an adult would fly, but I have close to one-hundred kites, kites for all levels of skill, all sizes of flyers, all types of wind and I love all kites. One more would round out the bunch so got it I did.

I went back to my car and got out the Big Sled.

The father was kneeling again, the delta in front of him as he adjusted the harness. I walked towards him and said, “Sir, excuse me, sir?”

He looked up.

I unfurled the kite. “This’ll be much easier to fly. It’ll catch the wind better and ride high on top of the wind.”

BigSled Kite

He was hesitant. “That looks like a professional kite.”

I laughed. “I’d never call myself a professional.”

He offered me his hand and said, “I’m Shane.” He had broad, flat palms. Thick fingers, calloused. A welcoming grip. A practical smile, open and evaluating at the same time. More laugh lines than frowns and deep brown eyes that took in all of you without leaving your face. He stood wide and solid with hair the color of his eyes and ruffling in the wind where it stuck out from under his green baseball cap. I took him to be a skilled laborer, someone both comfortable with himself and with tools in his hands, someone to whom making was automatic, without thought. He didn’t smell of resins or wires. Doors and walls, I decided. Not cars, there was no grease or grime under his nails or etched in his palms and a whiff of wood welcomed me as he moved. Not tanned, so a finish carpenter, someone who works inside, not someone who frames and builds houses.

“That’s Tyler. Say hello, Tyler.”

Tyler, a cherub as only little boy toddlers can be cherubs, called out “Hello!” Thin but healthy, both well and goodly fed, with clear eyes and a trust because he’s a little boy and everyone should love him, because that’s all he’s known is love of family and friends and, it seemed, a mirror that would grow into his father’s easy good looks. He stood beside us comfortably, neither anxious nor wary, following his father’s focus on my hands, watching me stringing the line, his eyes full of joy and his father’s smile echoed on his toddler’s face.

I attached the line and handed Shane the line hoop. “It’s going to have a little pull, so hold the line with Tyler. Let him get a feel for how much pull it’ll have so he can brace himself for it.”

The father looked me in the eye, confused.

“Enjoy yourself. Have a good time.”

I went back to the SkyDancer and lines, strung it up and, as is my habit, talked to the kite and the wind. I was rewarded with some great flying and LineSong – the wind pulls the kite causing the lines to tighten then the wind vibrates the string like a bow crossing a violin and you can hear the lines sing.

It’s the wind letting you know it’s having fun, too, me thinks.

SkyDancer

I flew for about an hour, maybe a little less. Every now and again I’d hear Shane and Tyler laugh from the other side of the gazebo. I’d glance every so often and see the Big Sled high in the sky, swooping and swirling as the winds whirled it about.

I told the SkyDancer and Wind, “One more flight, girl. Come on down when you’re ready and we can pack up and go home.”

We had one more glorious flight. Some people had gathered so I had the SkyDancer live up to its name and perform a little ballet. The wind, as promised, grew tired, which was fine because I was, too. I brought the SkyDancer down and began untacking the lines.

Shane and Tyler came up to me. Shane had the kite against his chest, the line hoop and line in hand. “Thank you, Joseph. That was great. Tyler and I really appreciate your letting us fly your kite.”

I said, “Did you have a good time, Tyler? Did you have fun?”

“Yes!”

I said, “Keep the kite. It’s a gift,” looking at Tyler.

Shane said, “We can’t do that,” shaking his head.

“You and Tyler gave me a gift when I walked onto this field.”

“We did?”

“Tyler called out ‘I love you, Dad,’ and you called back, ‘I love you, too, Son.’ That’s a gift. Please. Take the kite as my thank you for that gift.”

Shane slowly shook his head, not quite believing. “Are you sure?”

I stood. “Yes, and here’s the catch.”

He pulled his head back a bit.

“Whenever you and Tyler don’t want to fly kites any more, or when you think it’s time, you pass it on to the next father and son, you give it to them as a gift because they gave something to you as a gift.”

Shane nodded slowly. “Okay. We can do that.”

“Pass it on. Pay it forward. That’s how it works.”

“Thank you. Thank you so much for this gift.”

“Thank you. Have a good day. Have a good life.”

They walked away and stopped. Tyler started running towards me and Shane called him back. They huddled for a moment then both came up to me. “Tyler has something for you.”

Tyler ran up to me and gave me a big hug. “Thank you for the kite, Joseph!”

I put my arms around him, held his precious little body next to mine. “Oh, thank you, Tyler. You’re the man, Tyler, you’re the man!”

You never tell me you love me

One of the most frustrating arguments to watch goes something like this:

“You never tell me you love me.”

“Of course I love you. Everybody knows I love you. I talk about you all the time.”

“But you never tell me that you love me.”

That middle line, the “Of course I love you. …”? That’ll be spoken by a male. It won’t matter if this is a gay or straight relationship because males, as a group, aren’t good at verbal communications.

And when those verbal communications are about feelings and emotions, ie, about making one’s self vulnerable?

Oy!

What’s fascinating about this is that the male’s last sentence, “I talk about you all the time.”, is probably quite true. Men, as a group, will share information with other male or mixed gender peer groups gladly.

Note the use of “groups” in the above.

That’s the kicker; Men will talk up their partners in peer groups gladly, loudly, proudly and unequivocally. But one-on-one, in an intimate verbal moment? Not so much.

The disconnect here is that people like to hear that they’re special, that they’re loved, that someone special feels for them as they feel for that someone special.

Fortunately there are ways to reconnect. Does your significant other male lack verbal skills? Ask them to write you a love note. Nothing elaborate, just something for you to keep and hold to yourself. Most men are happy to do so (although sometimes trust can be an issue. Promise not to share it with anybody). Their prose may be a little rough, a little awkward, and remember, it’s a start.

Give them time. They’ll be bringing you flowers, taking you out to dinner, the movies, and generally courting you all over again soon enough.


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You smell so good to me (Matings Bonus)

Continuing with the thread introduced yesterday in You Smell Funny, we discovered some more research about how humans non-consciously use their olfactory sense (sense of smell) for mating purposes (like dating, finding the one you love, finding the one you’ll love once versus forever, finding the “me love you good Charlie, me make you happy long time”, all that kind of stuff) and thought to share it because we know you’re all out there just dying to know…

Guys and gals, are you in the courting/flirting/tension release stage of a relationship? You may tell yourself you’re looking for someone long time and if, in your heart of hearts, you know you’re only looking for someone short term, go to the ones who are heavily perfumed/masked/scented. They won’t disappoint.

It turns out that one aspect of our evolutionary heritage is to emit scents that let potential mates know our fecundity (“The state of being fertile; capable of producing offspring”).

And here’s the interesting way this has gotten disabused in most modern societies; We now lather and immerse ourselves in baths, oils, perfumes and such to mask the very scent that would tell the world, “Hey there hiya how you doin, I’m a’ waitin’ and ready!”

But wait, it gets better.

Those individuals who so obviously lather and immerse themselves? Consciously or not (we’re betting on not) are trying to signal potential mates’ olfactory senses that they would be a good long term catch when studies show they’re not good long term catches at all. Quite the contrary. At least on average.

But what about those folks who don’t put a lot of effort into masking their natural fragrances?

It turns out that on average the men and women who don’t lather and immerse themselves, who are subtle in their use of perfumes and colognes and such, are the ones who are consciously or not (again, we’re betting on not) signalling that they are genuinely good keepers, worth the effort and will be fruitful (in more ways than one) long term investments.

Canis Major (A Tale Told 'Round Celestial Campfires), by Joseph carrabisIf any of you have read Canis Major in either its Kindle or Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires form, you may remember that it was Sherry’s subtle use of perfume that drew Iggie to her.

And, in the end, he was quite the catch.

So, ladies and gents, are you looking for someone to be with you throughout the years regardless of what life brings you?

Sniff out someone who uses fabricated scents at their minimum, to hint and suggest.

Are you looking for someone for an hour to a week or month at most?

paintbrush
They won’t be subtle. They’ll have applied their favorite scent with a housepainter’s brush.


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You smell funny

[[this post originally appeared on the other platform on 29 Jan 2010. We’re resurrecting it because J found some more research along similar lines and will be sharing it in You smell so good to me (Matings Bonus), which will be available about this time tomorrow.]]

Perfumers and associated industries spend an incredible amount of money producing various scents for our use. Deodorants mask the caucasian from smelling like goats for example. And I’m not kidding about the goal smell, either.

Some people appreciate that there’s only one scent/perfume/olfactory mask they can wear and all others make their scent foul. I’m one of those lucky ones. I can only wear musk based scents. Wear any others and I quickly clear rooms.

Ah, the joys of individual body chemistries.

And that brings us directly to this post’s topic; how do you pick a scent that will be pleasing both to you and to those you want to please?

what ever happened to love potions 1-8?

Pleasing perfumes, deodorants and their kin evolved from what we once called love potions. We would go to our village wisewoman and she would ask who we wanted to have fall in love with us, when we would see them next and whether others would be present. You’ll find this mix of questions in fairy and folk tales from around the world and with good reason.

What pleases us olfactively and vomeronasally (collectively “our sense of smell”. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of your vomeronasal sense. Nobody knew it existed until the late 1990s) is first based on our common biologies — we are designed to like certain scents and not others, then on our family’s preferences, then on our culture’s and then on our society’s as a whole.

Our olfactory senses are among the most primitive. The only older sensory system our bodies have is also the most dominant; our sense of touch. Our whole body is devoted to that sense and even our other senses yield to it. This is why it hurts when we poke ourselves in the eye. Why should it hurt? Why not just go blind for a moment or two? Because our sense of touch signals the eye is damaged before our sense of sight signals “Cover Your Eyes!”

Because olfaction is one of the oldest it often goes unnoticed by most people until there’s a really good smell or a really bad smell wafting towards us. Does the smell of freshly baked bread or frying garlic or apple pie cooling or pot roast cooking or bao steaming make your stomach growl? Or maybe just the thought of those things?

Congratulations, you’ve just noticed one evolutionary purpose of our sense of smell — to find good things to eat.

Likewise does the smell of a ripe horse or cow field cause a hasty retreat? Excellent, that’s another of it’s evolutionary purposes — to keep us out of nasty environments and situations.

And both of these grew out of our sense of smell’s original purpose — finding us someone to love.

That’s where the wisewoman’s questions come in. Did we want everybody to fall in love with us or just one person (and if personal genome sequencing kits ever come to WalMart®, be careful)? Was this someone from our village or another village? When would we see them?

The last question deals with dispersal method. Do we ingest it so that we disperse that magical scent through our pores (it takes a while) or apply it topically so that our body heat activates it (fairly rapid)?

The second question deals with those things we smelled as babies and growing up and have long forgotten. Just as there are comfort foods so there are comfort smells. Knowing where someone is from answers this.

The first question tells us the type of scent required; animal, vegetable or mineral.

The wisewoman’s questions are the same one perfumers deal with today. Much more scientifically, of course.

And usually with far worse results.

So the next time you’re considering which $150 bottle of perfume to purchase for that special occasion, consider whom you’re wanting to entice. If you know enough about them you might be just as well off with some bread, wine, cheese and a flower for your hair.


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The Stranger The Better (Matings Finale)

[[…continuing what was started in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1), Sex on the Beach (Matings Part 2), Sing Me a Little Song (Matings Part 3), Sing Me to Sleep That I Might Learn Thee Loves Me (Matings Part 4), Want to kick the habit? Play Some Music (Matings Part 5) and Appropriate Dress (Matings Part 6)]]

A fascinating piece of social research has made it to my desk. It deals with males’ success rate with females in typical mating situations.

To readers outside of social anthropology, this means “What can guys do to make sure girls notice them in bars, at clubs, in the mall, in the hall, in the cafeteria, at the dance, …?”

The research points out one of those things that’s obvious. So obvious, one might ask, “Somebody had to do research on this?”

Well, yes. Because when you think about it, it’s not what most guys do in typical mating situations and that’s probably why few males have the kind of success they want.

The Trick Is

Be a little different from your mates, your buddies, your pals, whatever you want to call them, when you go out as a group. Or if you’re not going out as a group, be a little different than most other guys when you go out where other males will be.

For example, wear flashy suspenders with bright accessories on otherwise drab, run of the mill clothing. Or a different kind of hat. Or a clown nose.

The trick is to get women to look, even for a second because that one second puts you one second ahead of the…umm…competition.

Women may not flock to you and they will, generally, be more receptive should you approach them.

It Works Because

It turns out that women of all ages cue to the different in mating situations. Neuroscience uses the term “difference sorters” for this and it means that, given one-hundred things that are all the same and only one thing among those hundred that are different, females as a group will devote attention to the one different thing before they’ll pay attention to any one of the one-hundred similar things. Evolution has designed them to look for the one perfect jaw and good teeth (for example) among all the other jaws and teeth because that one perfect jaw and good teeth meant a good hunter, good provider and better genetic material for her offspring (than the hundred other fellows with common jaws and teeth), meaning her genes had a better than average chance of survival, too.

Those evolutionary factors are still hard at work even though the pampas or forest or mountains have been replaced by malls, dance halls, cafeterias, offices and so on.

So if you’re just a little different — not a lot different — females will notice you and make a mental note that you’re interesting.

Specifically, they will note that you’re more interesting than the other males around you.

And guys, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, being interesting works really well when it comes to attracting females. Nice cars, big bankroll, great job, expensive clothes, great bling, these are all good things to, no question about it.

Of course, they’re good because they’re interesting. Especially when your competition doesn’t have them. Such things make you…umm…different.

Here’s What You Can’t Do

Different is nice and it has to be different within certain boundaries. You can’t land your hovercraft in the company parking lot and expect to get the kind of attention you want. You’ll get attention, I’m sure, simply not the kind you want from females you’d want interested in you.

You can’t wear gold like Mr. T in his heyday if you’re going to a friend’s moving party.

Be different, yes, but be different within the setting’s limits. Stand out enough to be seen, not stared at.

You’ll do fine.


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