Enter The Matrix... Of Your Relationship

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Greetings and welcome once again to my weekly examination of all that's current in the world of paper-based planning and giant pumpkins. Today I'm going to be talking about how to solve one of the worst relationship problems guys have, how to remember important dates, such as anniversaries and birthdays. I will discuss in detail how to use The Matrix template to remember anniversaries, birthdays and other assorted stuff that will keep your girlfriend from shaving off your eyebrows while you sleep.

I'd like to start off this week with first a clarification and then a self-serving boast. To begin with, I would like to issue a correction to last week's column, in which I said that one of the writers for this site, Sacha Chua, is actually a covert secret agent assassin. This, it turns out, is absolutely incorrect and I don't know where I could have picked up the idea in the first place. Actually Ms. Chua is a house-painter, just a plain ordinary house-painter, that's all she ever was, honestly. Just a house-painter. Now give me back my cat!
The second item on the list is a little bragging. I wrote a post on my blog a couple days back thanking the Canadian government for their efforts in protecting us from all all the terrorists and other lunatics and especially from Martha Stewart As you may know, the Canadian government had decided not to let Ms. Stewart into Canada. She was planning to race in the giant pumpkin race in Windsor, Nova Scotia this Sunday, but the government decided that this was a terrible threat to our way of life and national consciousness, because of Martha's felonious past. Surely we could not let a billionaire interior designer paddle across a lake in a giant hollowed-out pumpkin. I wrote a post essentially saying that this was, perhaps, completely bone-headed and Martha herself spoke about it on her talk-show yesterday. Tonight, the evening news reported that the Canadian government has decided to let Ms. Stewart enter the country and the race after all. I think it only fair to give credit for this where credit is due, for exerting public pressure on the government to exact reform, for spurring democracy in action. Well, I was only doing my part. To be fair, Martha probably helped too.

Turning to today's topic: I was looking through the paper today and I came across an article about a new site called SaveMyAss.com. This site sets up a semi-random schedule to send flowers to your girlfriend or wife, incorporating information such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc., as well as a function for emergency flowers to diffuse a crisis. Now, I think this is a fabulous idea. I personally have terrible trouble remembering important occasions: Not only am I a guy, which makes me deficient in this area to begin with, but I am also dyslexic, which means that even if I do remember an important date, I'm likely to get it turned around. I've tried everything. Not even Habbits Of Seven Highly Effective People could help me. (Yeah, yeah, I don't blame you on that one, that was pretty bad.) I gave my girlfriend flowers for our anniversary last week and she asked me if I could take a picture of them...clearly a sign that she's not expecting to get more any time soon. My first thought was that a woman would be offended if a guy used this service, but the site FAQ states that women would rather receive flowers through a service than not at all. Now, I don't mean to offend any females reading this, but it seems that women would rather live in a relationship dream-world than deal with the reality that their mate is an insensitive putz.

It seems to me, gentlemen, that the first thing we need to do is to admit that, left to our own devices, we're unlikely to remember flowers on important dates, or, I should say, dates that are important to our girlfriends or wives. I think there are likely more of these if you're dating than if you're married. If you're married, there is the one big anniversary, the one of the day you were married and that's basically it. If you're dating, there are many different and very specific anniversaries (the first time you met, the first date, the first kiss, the first movie rental, etc.) and you don't want to be caught in this sort of conversation: “Honey, do you know what today is?” “Oh crap! No!” So I think that there is a do it yourself solution, which will save you money over a paid service.

The do it yourself answer is out there, gentlemen. It's the question that drives us: What is The Matrix... and how can I use it to keep my girlfriend happy? I've been trying to think of different uses for The Matrix, a sort of open-ended scheduling, uh, thingy, which Doug Johnston adapted for his planner, intending it to be used as an, um, scheduling thingy, a sort of catch-all for various things not covered by the innumerable other scheduling devices built into the D*I*Y Planner kit. He tells me that people have found very creative uses for The Matrix, but that many are still having some difficulty coming up with uses for The Matrix. Well, this is a perfect use for The Matrix. Using The Matrix to schedule when you should buy flowers, you will be able to pull the wool over her eyes, to blind her to the truth: that you are a hopeless, insensitive, nose-picking Neanderthal. She would prefer to live in a dream world and The Matrix is just the tool to do that.

Most people, it seems, don't see an immediate use for The Matrix and so ignore it and lose out on all the benefits of The Matrix. However, I can't describe exactly how it will work for your situation. The Matrix is infinitely malleable and complex, with many variables. Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is: you have to see if for yourself.

My picture nameUsing The Matrix to keep your mate in a dream world, you will forestall many relationships problems and arguments. Honestly, fellas, she never had a dream that she was so sure was real. She won't want to know the difference between the dream world and the real world. In effect, the Matrix will help to keep her in a dream all the time, not just around the issue of anniversaries and important dates. The Matrix will be everywhere, it will be all around her. She will feel it when she looks out her window, or when she picks up her telephone. It will be there when she goes to work, when she goes to church, when she pays her taxes. So guys, if you want to be the One, use The Matrix to keep her happy.

Well, fellas, that's all I can do for your relationships this week. Until next time, keep your pen on the page and flowers in the vase.

Steve Sharam


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Well, I know you shouldn't

Well, I know you shouldn't take a humorous column seriously, but....

Another way you could use your DIY planner to score points with the significant other is to create an 'SO Cheatsheet' card. See, one of the things that makes just about everyone feel special/important/cherished is discovering that the other person has actually NOTICED and REMEMBERED even 'unimportant' little details about you.

Think about it -- when you go back home for Mom's cooking, isn't a big part of what's special not so much what she cooks but rather that she remembers exactly what you like? You don't have to say anything, and magically your sandwich arrives with the bread toasted really dark, a light scraping of butter, raspberry jelly and crunchy peanut butter. *Exactly* what you like, in other words. Mom knows this...because you are special and important and she loves you.

The goal is to give your SO that same feeling of being cherished, even though you actually are lousy at remembering that kind of stuff.
(Keep this top secret, btw, a lot of the impact will be lost if she knows how you are doing it.)

Label a page in your planner as "SO Cheatsheet' and proceed to keep your eyes and ears open. Every time you notice anything 'personalized' about your SO, make a sneaky note about it.
Record details such as:

Clothing sizes (easiest way to get these secretly is to check the tags on newly purchased items.)

Favorite flower/perfume/ice cream flavor/color/candy/etc.

How s/he 'takes' anything: Does she butter her toast or not when adding jelly? What's his favorite order at Starbucks? Ice tea -- sugar/lemon/both/neither? What's on his hot dog? What pizza does she choose?

Every time s/he mentions a book/magazine/actor/etc. as being a favorite or especially good, make a note.

Every time s/he says "I wish I had a (better) whatever" -- note!

Eventually will come a time when you want to score some Brownie points. Maybe it's one of those 'anniversaries' you noted down as Steve suggested. Maybe it's a traditional gift-giving holiday. Maybe you recently screwed up massively some way and want out of the doghouse. Maybe you simply are supposed to bring takeout home for dinner.

Mine your Cheatsheet for hints. Any flowers may turn away wrath, but salmon colored gladiolas will work a hundred times better, so long as you deliver them with a 'I know these are your favorites' comment. No blindly trying to guess what perfume she might like: you *know* she will love that Opium scented body lotion. No lame 'well, she's about your size' remarks to the sales clerk; she still may exchange the sweater you select because she has too many with crew necks already, but you will rack up a zillion points anyway because you knew to get her size small and in her favorite lavender.

Incidentally, a copy of the new release from a favorite singer/writer/actor 'for no reason, just because I know you like him/her' is a fabulous way to make your SO feel cherish.

And SO's who feel loved can think of all sorts of glorious ways to make you feel loved in turn. ;)

good ideas

Good suggestions Susan. I was being silly, but that all actually sounds like good stuff. To take it further, you could write down all kinds of other, uh, details about what makes her happy, but for some of it...well, you'd need space to draw diagrams:)

"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err."
Mahatma Gandhi

But I like your cat! Can I

But I like your cat! Can I keep it? Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase? <bambi eyes>

As for remembering stuff about people: Yes, yes, I confess. I keep files on people. ;) Not just birthdays, either, but anything I find worth remembering. It's not for nothing that the software I use to do this is called the Big Brother Database... ;)