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August 9-15, 2006

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Ask Sydney

Welcome to an advice column penned by Sydney, a Sonoma County resident and our new weekly sage. Go ahead! Ask her anything.

Dear Sydney, I know lots of folks who recognize that being too attached is a bad thing. It leads to anger, sorrow, greed; there are a million ways to die in the big city. Is it possible to be too attached to being unattached?--Confused

Dear Confused: If what you strive for is complete nonattachment, then seek neutrality in all things. It's not good, it's not bad, it simply is.

Unless, of course, that sounds totally boring. For instance, hmmm, I could get up and meditate for an hour every morning. Then again, I could just sleep in and grab a cup of coffee on the way to work. Would I feel better if I got up an hour early and meditated every morning? I'm sure that I would. Does this make me want to do it? Not at all. In fact, I could safely say that I am all the more drawn to the sleeping in and the coffee, just knowing that I am making a trivial, but nonetheless significant, sacrifice of my own well-being.

There are sacrifices to be made in nonattachment-based relationships, just as there are sacrifices in attachment-based relationships. Nonattachment has its appeal, liberating and all that, but there's something a little bit sad and lonely about it. Like maybe something has been lost. As for total attachment, God, what a mind fuck. So there you have it. You want love, you have to suffer. You want perfect love? Good luck.

Dear Sydney, every time I go out on a date, I'm expected to pick up the check. It's gotten to the point where it's starting to feel like bribery, but if I suggest we split the bill, I come off as cheap. How can I escape this uncomfortable gender construction, but still date an attractive woman?--Disgruntled

Dear Dis: Many men feel trapped by the financial obligations that go hand-in-hand with dating. I have male friends who claim they can't "afford" to date. Apparently, chicks are just too expensive. The idea that men should have to pay for dinner is an outdated one. Just as many women no longer feel that they should stay at home and tend the hearth, nor should they feel that it is perfectly acceptable to allow a man to buy them dinner after dinner, lunch after lunch, drink after drink.

This doesn't mean that it's never OK to let someone else foot the bill. Generosity is a beautiful part of any personality. But if you are still in the baby stages of a relationship, then why not take turns? You pay sometimes, she pays sometimes. Any hip woman will not expect you to pay for everything. Unless, of course, she has no money and you are filthy rich. But even then, she would have to be a fool to put herself at your financial mercy, no matter how little money she has. Do you want to date a fool? Of course you don't.

"Sure," you might be thinking, "but what about that first date? I have to be the gentleman on the first date, or she will think I'm a tight-fisted loser." I'm not going to argue with this possibility, because chances are she just might. Of course, if she's a thinker, she is aware of the implications of allowing a man to pay for her dinner or her cocktail. Because of this, she should offer to pay her own way, and possibly, if she's really smart, even insist.

Be a little more creative, and once you have established some sort of friendship, you should be able to talk honestly about whose turn it is to foot the bill. Some day, you might marry and have babies. Then you'll have to pay for everything. Why start sooner then you have to?

Dear Sydney, there are all of these cool, excellent people around me. How do I find one who will share the rest of my life with me? --Hopeless

Dear Hopeless: If you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by cool, excellent people, then you should consider yourself blessed. More then blessed. Do you know how many people out there feel like they will never have love just because they don't know how to meet anybody excellent or cool? (Me neither, but I'm pretty sure that it's a lot.) Obviously you are doing something right. Right on! Keep it up!

As for whom to choose, relationships are like a new album; you never know what you're going to get until you listen to it. Ultimately, most of the songs pretty much suck, and only one is the one you really love. If what you want is to find a life partner, there's no reason for that not to come around. You just have to look for your greatest hit and not be afraid to turn the volume up when it comes on.

Dear Sydney, what's more important: food or sex? Thanks for your insight--Another Fan

Dear Fan: Food and sex are both necessities. Without food, we die. Without sex, we also die--as a species that is, not as individuals. The question, then is what is more important, the individual or the entire race? On a global level, sex is ultimately more important then food. But as an individual, one would be foolish to ignore the deeply intrinsic need for nutritional sustenance. For lack of a better term, it's like a Catch-22. You can't have one without the other. In any case, good food is tantamount to good sex, thereby ensuring that, in their individual ways, they are both equally essential.

Dear Sydney, what odds do you give with regard to a total fascist takeover of the United States--Mucho respect, Che

Dear Che: Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but hasn't there already been one?

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