That’s how my love goes: Honest advice about romance and relationships for my teenage kids to scoff at and ultimately ignore

“This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy. He thinks he’s a chicken.’ And the doctor says, ‘Why don’t you turn him in?’ And the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs.’ Well, that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships. They’re totally irrational and crazy and absurd but I guess we keep going through it, because most of us need the eggs.”

Driving Jacob and Zachary from one activity to another, if I turn off Lithium and they put down their phones, is a great opportunity to talk about life. Recently, Zachary mentioned his friend Dave was in a pickle.

“Dave told Whitney he liked her, but he also likes Alice and wants to date Alice first.”

“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.

“Mom,” Zach said. “He wants to date two girls at the same time. That’s bad.”

Very few statements crystallize my failure as a mother like that one.

“There’s no cheating when you’re eighteen. You should all be touching each other all the time.” – Mistress America

Despite the title of this column, I don’t give advice. Giving advice would suggest, on some level anyway, that I know what the fuck I’m doing. I don’t. Far from it.

At a glance, I probably look like a goddamn expert. Marc and I have been together since 1988. For Christ’s sake, Reagan was president. We made it through the 90s without beating each other or getting arrested. And here we are. Happy. Still going strong. We get freaky 1.5 times a week. It’s almost all good.

But if you were to press either of us as to why it’s worked for so long, we couldn’t give you a magic formula. Oh sure, we’re nice to each other. Honest. Respectful. We like the same dick and fart jokes on South Park.

There’s this myth that as people get older, they know a thing or two. I don’t know shit. The older I get, the less I know and the more confused I become. Wouldn’t it be great if you fall in love with someone, the universe opens in a way that clears up all confusion and you’re enlightened until you die? That’d be awesome.

“Love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect…We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit.” – Moonstruck

Getting married to your soulmate doesn’t mean you’re immune from lustful thoughts or crushing on a co-worker because you like the way she licks her lips when she changes copier ink. It doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with an old friend or wind up on Craigslist or Ashley Madison and blame it on a brain tumor. Love and all its crazy confusion happens to lots of people, despite age, marital or socioeconomic status.

And no one knows why.

When my kids ask about love and how it all works, all I can offer are suggestions. Ideas. Shit that sounds feasible. I’m not sure that any of this is 100% correct, but it’s the best I can do. Here’s what I tell them:

  • When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.

(Okay, that one above isn’t mine, but I added it anyway.)

  • If you feel for someone, make sure it’s not indigestion – and then tell them.
  • Strong people don’t keep their feelings to themselves, weak people do. Sure, heartbreak hurts. But it doesn’t kill us because we are stronger than that.
  • If we’re smart, we let heartbreak guide us into feeling more compassion for others.
  • Even those who listen to Celine Dion songs.

“The good news is you’re feeling stuff. And you’ve got to hold on to that. You get older and you don’t feel as muchyour skin gets tough.” – Boyhood

  • Great movie, but that line is a bold-faced lie. At least with me. I went the other way.
  • So fucking tell someone when they rock your world. It’ll probably make them smile. I can think of worse news.
  • Don’t require or insist upon reciprocation.
  • If they don’t feel the same way, suppress the desire to get even.
  • If you get together and love each other thoroughly and then break up – suppress the desire to get even.
  • It’s no one’s fault when love dies. Buy some ice cream, cry a little and watch Annie Hall. In a few weeks, run a race or join a bootcamp fitness class.
  • Don’t post nonsense online until you’re sane again.
  • And still don’t post nonsense.
  • Including bootcamp fitness photos.
  • You will know love again. It doesn’t just happen once.
  • Or twice.
  • If someone says you rock their world, be kind. That’s some brave shit right there.
  • But don’t ever fake it.
  • And don’t ever accept what you cannot give.
  • Tell the truth if you love them back.
  • If not, say Thank you and move on.
  • She will eat ice cream, cry a little, run a race and eventually get over you.
  • Stay friends with as many people as possible.
  • You never know who you might wanna go back and bang when you’re 40.
  • If you do all this, maybe you’ll live to 90 and have no regrets.
  • Maybe.
  • I don’t know for sure.
  • I’m not 90 yet.
  • Oh, and listen to Depeche Mode. Strangelove and Shake the Disease and World in My Eyes and No Good. In my defense, Celine Dion appears in none of them.

“Maybe I didn’t really know you. Maybe you were just a mirage. Maybe the world is full of food and sex and spectacle and we’re all just hurling towards an apocalypse, in which case it’s not your fault. And one more thing: about the letter. Nuke it. Flame it. Destroy it. It hurts me to know it’s out there.” – Say Anything

Seriously folks…I tell my kids to listen to Strangelove.

If that isn’t stellar parenting, I don’t know what is.

I wish I could offer certainties, safe bets, and sure things. But I can’t. Ain’t that a bitch? All I can say, in the end, is: most of us need the eggs.

Happy Valentine’s Day.