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By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, December 23, 2007

Have a question only the Three Wise Guys can answer? Send it to wiseguys@washpost.com .

Dear Wise Guys:

There's this girl that I've known for about six years now. We talk a little bit, but not enough to be called friends. More like acquaintances. I've been wanting to ask her out, but I don't really know how to approach her. My friends tell me I should just go and ask her out, but isn't that being too forward? I just want another opinion before I make the big leap.

Ted

Joe: Ted, Ted, Ted. Six years of waiting around, and you want to know if you're being too forward? Unless she's married or in prison or has a restraining order against you -- or, you know, you're related -- you should definitely ask her out. Don't think of it as a big leap; think of it as a tiny step. Maybe that'll make it seem less intimidating.

Dear Wise Guys:

Do men really want to date their best girlfriends if given the opportunity? If yes, how should girls approach telling their guy friends they're in love?

Mimi

Joe: Mimi, you don't happen to know a guy named Ted, do you? If so, I think he's interested in you.

Dan: People say a straight man and a straight woman cannot truly be friends without the specter of romantic love hanging overhead, but it's ridiculous to believe all men want to date their "best girlfriend." It sounds as if you'd like that to happen, however, so your approach should be direct even though the friendship may be at stake.

Think of it this way: You can spend your time waffling and regretting, or you can say something like, "Look, I'm not sure, but I think there could be something more here if we explored it. Does that sound appealing to you, or am I just crazy?" This introduces the topic as deftly as possible but stops short of the potentially relationship-killing admission, "I want your babies now."

Dear Wise Guys:

When watching my favorite reality TV shows, I often see T-shirts, artwork, household products and license plates blocked out or pixelated. Okay, I get why the license plates are obscured. But to block out the label on an obvious bottle of Pine-Sol -- could it be the DMV, network censors and intellectual property lawyers are conspiring to protect me and my progeny or deprive me of my right to know?

Karen

Justin: There is no conspiracy: Reality TV producers pixelate things for all sorts of mostly boring reasons, such as protecting the identity of the (non-release-signing) innocent, protecting their viewers from lewd images or protecting their sponsors from unintended product placement by the competition. Luckily, this is a trend with which you can get on board. A few enterprising online retailers are producing pre-pixelated clothing, so you can hit the town with all the glamour of a reality television star minus the hassle of the accompanying camera crew. My favorites can be found at Ironic Sans ( http://www.ironic sans.com). They even have a pixelated Christmas tree design to help you celebrate the season.


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