Saving On Groceries – Thrift Traps

Saving On Groceries – Thrift Traps

Now this is something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while, I just had a hard time finding the right impetus to motivate me to actually put it to keyboard. The blog has been a lot of sexy times lately, which mirrors the home front, and I figured what better way to break that up than with some good old fashioned grocery shopping.

Grocery shopping never seems to get easier does it? You add more mouths to feed, more tastes to cater to, your own changing diet and cravings, and then you have the food budget to consider. You coupon cut, you get a membership at the wholesale store and for some reason that food bill just never seems to go down. Well, I can help you with that, because you’re playing the wrong game. Saving money on groceries isn’t about math, it’s about mindset. Like many of us I spent some of my early working days in a grocery store. Unlike many of us, I stayed there long after I should have moved on; I paid attention and I learned some industry tricks. Here are some traps you may be falling into.

Ad-Chasing:

I’m going to use an absurd but true example from my own childhood to illustrate why this is wrong. Coupons do this in a directly targeted way that we’ll get into later.

One day my mother came home with 10 packages of 48 count creme cookies. We all stared at her like she was weird. We wondered how we were going to even eat all those. We hardly ever ate cookies at all and when we did they were baked in the home. They were generic too. Some sort of ultra sweet shortbread with cookie creme in the middle. Oreo’s are like crack, the originals. I don’t care much for the double stuffed or other versions where the proportions are thrown out of whack, personal taste I know. Point is, we wouldn’t have been wondering what to do if she came home with those. But these, we didn’t eat these, we couldn’t even remember the last time they were in the house. Dad got annoyed, and rightfully so, we weren’t doing well financially, we never were.

“How much did those cost?” He questioned.

Mom didn’t answer the question, she responded by indicating how much money she had saved. For her part, she genuinely thought that made it all better. She was too busy doing the math on only one side of the equation.

You do not save money by buying things you don’t normally buy just because they are on sale. It is a trap I have seen thousands of customers fall into. It’s a trap my wife falls into with some regularity. It’s an effective trick I helped pull on thousands of people. The deals are often not even that good. It’s not like when the store did a loss-leader on chicken breasts or something. That’s something most people already spend money on and we’re going to get to that in a minute. This is when we stick impulse buys in front of your face at like 10%-15% off and you happily oblige. People who never buy soda will buy that soda. People who haven’t had cheese-its in 2 years will buy those cheese-its. Oh yeah, it’s usually junk food too.

Anytime you see something like that and you are tempted I want you to stop and recite this to yourself.

“Milk never goes on sale”

You know why it never goes on sale? Because you need it, it expires quickly, and you use it. You never have to discount milk because people never stop buying it and they don’t need to be reminded of its existence. Ditto for eggs. In other words, it doesn’t go on sale because people never need to be tricked into buying it. You know what does go on sale? Cheese.

Ads are constructed around this principle. They’re designed to get you to buy things you normally don’t because they’re on sale. Does it matter if you got that steak for 2 bucks off per pound when it still costs 5 dollars per pound more than the chicken you normally get? You didn’t save money, you spent it. Always watch the money going out, because nothing is coming in when you hit the register.

Buying in Bulk:

This one is going to be short and easy because it’s a psychological thing and you can all relate to it. Buying in bulk only increases your consumption. You may save money per item but your consumption of those items will increase. Anyone who has ever frivolously spent a tax return—that’s you right?—acknowledges this effect. The more you have the more you use. It’s a well known and well understood psychological trick and grocery stores have been using it for decades. You’re paying membership fees on top of that, which creates a pressure for you to shop. There are people who actually benefit from these arrangements, they were the target audience when these stores actually first opened. Small business owners that already go through enough of the things they buy in bulk that their membership works in their favor.

YOU on the other hand are pressuring yourself to go to the bulk store more to get more ‘mileage’ out of your membership card and at the end of the day, you are spending more money. Watch where the money is going, and stop overvaluing where it isn’t.

One more example of this effect. When you make a giant pot of spaghetti, or make a large pork roast, do you eat less or more than you typically eat in one setting. When you hit the buffet do you eat less or more? This effect doesn’t just apply to bulk shopping membership stores, it applies to the decisions about the meals we cook. It even rears its head when you decide to make meatloaf instead of burger patties (can you guess which one goes farther?).

Membership Rewards Programs:

Don’t, just don’t. I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on this one, just avoid stores that do this. This is like the Ad-Chasing problem above except 10x more coercive because you categorically WON’T save any money on anything unless you participate in said Ad-Chasing. By the way, everything in the store is marked up to compensate.

Coupon cutting does the same exact thing. Membership rewards programs are just a newer form of it that also makes you a free data point for a gigantic database on buyers trends that the store keeps. You are not only not really saving any money, you are directly telling a giant database how best to exploit you. It was rare, but more frequent than it should be, that a customer would find out they were pregnant because their buying pattern matched pregnancy enough that they started getting baby coupons in the mail. Yikes!

Not Actually Having a Food Budget:

Last but certainly not least on the list. The food budget itself. Money is fungible, spent with plastic, and it’s easy to lose track of what we spent where. If you do not have a food budget, not actually sitting down and figuring out the difference between what you think you should be spending on food, what you should be spending on food, and what you are spending on food is costing you money, I guarantee it.

There’s a lot of busy, fancy apps that promise to help us with this, ignore them. I want you to pick a number for your food budget, take that money out of your bank or an ATM, physically take an envelope and write food on it with some sharpie, and I want you to put that money in the envelope. That is your food budget. When it runs out, it runs out. Your plastic isn’t allowed to save you. I guarantee your costs will come down. Oh, and takeout counts, that comes from the envelope too.

Okay Smarty Pants What do I do?

Here’s the number one knockout way to avoid falling prey to ad gimmicks and psychological tricks—the more insidious of which are outside the scope of this article, this is just an article about the ones you can do something about. It’s also the number one way to stay in your budget.

Okay, ready?

Make a meal plan, and stick to it.

I want you to take all the time you use ad-browsing and I want you to instead use that time to plan your meals, down to the portions. This is going to do two things that short circuit all of these gimmicks, and you may even find it easier to take some weight off as a pleasant side effect.

Thing number one, you are going to control what you buy. You can make it by the month or by the week, I recommend by the week. If one of your meals happens to go on sale, sweet, you’ve actually saved money, congratulations. If the ad-break happens before that particular meals day you can swap days that week, have taco Thursday instead of taco Tuesday, but your ad-chasing days are over, that is also going to save you money, you’re welcome.

Thing number two, you are also going to control how much you buy. You are going to stop making giant pots of rice that you go through too quickly when you only needed 6 ounces of cooked rice. You’re going to do the same thing with potatoes, noodles, and anything else we can be tempted to throw into a giant pot that could feed us 4x over but will only feed us twice. You’re also going to stop buying too many boxes of mac and cheese and then eating too much of that because it’s so damn tasty, comforting, and easy. I know I know, guilty as charged. Your food bill will actually come down for once.

Here’s the last hurdle though, and this is less of a hurdle and more of a conscious choice you need to make, and it’s one of the reasons food bills never seem to come down. When we save money in the food budget we tend to re-appropriate it immediately to food reward. This is when we buy ourselves steaks or seafood or whatever your reward food is. The fancy cheese, the more expensive bottle of wine (that’s food right?), or even some takeout we normally don’t have. These rewards can be psychologically comforting and rewarding and you need to make the conscious decision on whether shrinking your food budget is worth going without them. If not, here’s another challenge, implement the changes above to have more reward steak. Now that’s a motivator if I’ve ever heard one.

Dildo Review – Tentacle by Goblin Dildo Emporium.

Dildo Review – Tentacle by Goblin Dildo Emporium.

This toy has been in almost every way a pleasant surprise. For those of you who need a tl;dr just go buy this thing you have absolutely nothing to lose. As always, the details are a little more nuanced than that, but this is going to be a pretty glowing review. There was a downside but it is so incredibly minor that Emily didn’t see it—I kept it from her on purpose to see if she’d notice for the review, and I just asked her. Without further ado I give you the Tentacle—small size.

Part 1 – Aesthetics:

Tentacles are no stranger to the fantasy toy community, but they can be pretty polarizing. Some people just are completely turned off by the look of it, while others are really turned on. A lot of us just wanna know how those suckers feel. Goblin’s version of the tentacle comes with the standard suckers but he also adds scaled ridge texture to the backside which I think is a nice touch. Our ‘ready to ship’ model came is a very pleasant pink. There were some slight perfections on the scale side. This is the thing that was so subtle that Emily simply didn’t notice. They’re very very tiny depressed lines in the texture that if I had to compare with anything, would be stretch marks. Again, Emily didn’t even notice these and I don’t think the camera picked them up either.

[On third inspection this texturing appears to be intentional]

They’re included in the review for the sake of completeness. On the flip side, the sucker detailing is superb and there were zero imperfections on the sucker side. The finish is nice as well. I have a toy from another indie manufacturer where you can see 3d printer patterning on the final product. I find nothing remotely resembling that here. There’s not much else to say about the aesthetics for this one. We didn’t get custom colors or sparkles for ours (more on that later). Great job Goblin.

Part 2 – Texture:

Texture is a big selling point of tentacles, mostly for the side with the suckers on. The idea of the suckers sparked curiosity and a little bit of apprehension in Emily when we first started looking into them, and she is by all rights a texture fiend. Would the suckers be too hard? Would the perpendicular angles be too rough? The answer for both of those would be no. I asked Emily to describe how the suckers felt.

They’re very noticeable. It’s not really something I can describe. I can say they felt exactly how I thought they would after watching all that hentai.

-Emily on suckers

Sufficiently aroused, Emily did not need to use lubricant when using this toy vaginally, but we’d both recommend it if you’re using the tentacle to warm up, which it does a great job at. Emily also found the texture comfortable anally, which was something of a shock to both of us and warrants its own section in this review. The 00-50 firmness of the silicone compliments the textures perfectly. It stands firmly on its own but comes with plenty of compressible squish.

To wrap up this section, the texture is noticeable but comfortable and pleasant. This is no Nova and it’s not going to leave you raw or sore after use, which is only a bummer if that’s what you were going for. Another clear win in our book for this tentacle. We would call it beginner friendly even.

Part 3 – Size:

We picked up our tentacle in small. Don’t let that moniker fool you though, ‘small’ in the fantasy toy world is often ‘standard’ and sometimes even ‘large’ in the mainstream sex toy market. The small tentacle measurements are below.

Quick Reminder: D-score is a measurement that essentially gives us the number of median sized dicks to equal the girth of a toy. You can read D-Score more easily as “This is how many dicks this is worth in girth”. So a D-Score of 2.5 would be 2 and a half dicks of girth, to make it simple.

Usable LengthDiameter of TipLargest Diameter
Tentacle6.6″0.9″2.1″
D-ScoresN/A0.42.2

Here you can really see the control the tapered size gives you in managing the girth. The tip starts at a downright petite D-score of 0.4, that’s less than half a median penis. This is straight up beginner friendly. As you move down the tentacle it widens to a D-Score of 2.2, that’s a pretty nice range! A little note on the ‘tip’ measurement, it’s take a small way down. The actual tip is pointed to aid insertion and I’d call it pinky sized. It’s pretty useless to measure the toy there though.

As I’ve mentioned before, Emily is something of a size queen, but the small tentacle gets girthy enough and has the requisite texture to push her buttons satisfactorily when used vaginally. It won’t be winning any A-spot awards but it’s not designed for that, not at this size anyway. On the flip size, Emily is an anal novice, and she found the starting diameter downright pleasant and very workable. This is only the second toy we own to get that praise, which includes our 3 plugs, and the first one she’s comfortable using as a starter.

Part 4 – The Anal Thing:

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this toy for us are the anal applications. But to talk about that we’ll have to talk a little bit about Emily’s body and her brain. When it comes to anal stimulation Emily has very sensitive brakes as Dr. Nagoski would put it. Emily has to be very aroused (or a bit drunk) to want anal stimulation, but when she wants it she really wants it. Small difficulties in the warm-up and prep process for anal play however, will knock her right out of the mood. She’s sensitive to hard firmness and finds it uncomfortable at best. High firmness is, as near as I can tell, usually regarded as a positive for anal experience. Most plugs are very firm, even the silicone ones, the rest are glass or metal—speaking in a body-safe context of course. So Emily’s anal tastes are counter-market and very sensitive to disruption.

So we were both very surprised by the fact that she had a great time with the tentacle anally. She can’t quite hilt it yet, and experienced anal users may find that a bit adorable in a ‘look at the beginner’ kind of way, but that’s exactly the point. We want to stress this toys potential use to people who may have had an interest in anal play but found the same roadblocks Emily did. Another surprise is that Emily wants to work on hilting the tentacle. She’s never enjoyed any toy enough anally to think about its future sustained use.

Part 5 – Usage:

So lets wrap this all together. For us the small Tentacle is a wonderful multi-purpose foreplay-to-coreplay toy whether enjoyed vaginally or anally. It is the first toy in our entire warchest to earn that distinction. Our small Echo from Bad Dragon in medium firmness is another toy she finds comfortable anally but it just doesn’t get the job done vaginally.

Emily also enjoys the small tentacle in a double penetration role for our smaller-to-medium vaginal toys, or as a partner for me to fill whichever area I’m not occupying. On that note, I can somewhat feel the texture of the tentacle through the posterior vaginal wall when the tentacle is used in that role and it’s an intense sensation.

I’ve already mentioned that the tentacle is a good warm-up toy, and that it’s good for core play as well, but we’ve also found it satisfying as a cool down toy too. Our last session involved Emily riding a Large Nova in Firm from Bad Dragon and after and orgasm or two with that she switched to the tentacle and had a great time with it. The shaft of the Nova has a D-Score of 3 by the way, and the harder firmness is intentionally punishing.

Part 6 – Cost, Conclusion, and Manufacturer Rating:

We actually picked up the small Tentacle on a lark. We were talking in reddit about having apprehensions about getting some tentacle styled toys from a competitor, and we were noting the slower taper and worrying about running out of vaginal length before getting to a satisfying girth. Another redditor mentioned the quicker taper on the Goblin toy and the quick shipping from Goblin Dildo Emporium. So we took to the Etsy shop not really expecting to buy anything. Then we saw the small Tentacle on discount for 25 dollars. That’s an absolute steal in the silicone fantasy dildo market and we had a very impulsive “what have we got to lose” buy moment. We were worried that for the price, surely we’d be getting something lower quality. Those were unfounded fears. The finish on this toy is very professional, easily as good as the finish on Bad Dragon toys, which is one of their strongest points in our opinion. The shipping was stupid fast, just as the other user mentioned. Our experience with Goblin Dildo Emporium has been nothing but good. We will probably be getting another larger tentacle in the future for vaginal use and we are going to customize that one.

In conclusion, this is another one of those fantasy toys that has broad appeal and strikes gold in its simple and effective design. Unless the aesthetic of the tentacle turns you off outright, we can recommend the small Tentacle as a nothing-to-lose everything-to-gain staple addition to any warchest and at this price, or even the normal price, we’re issuing a hard buy on this item. It’s making me reconsider adding ‘editor awards’ to my review format—if I had to make one up on the spot, it’d be the “warchest staple”. As much as we enjoy our other toys, and how well they fit us, they all come with lots of caveats when recommending them to others. We love this but….(Emily is a size queen, Emily loves aggressive textures, It’s stupid expensive, etc). The small Tentacle doesn’t suffer from these reservations. Go get one. Get it now (there’s a sale on).

I am not a paid reviewer. My content comes from me and I was not solicited in any manner for this review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Blog Updates

Our normal post schedule, insofar as it is scheduled, has been disrupted by some classic whole-house-sickness that’s crippled basic operations over here.

We’re still having trouble deciding on a good audio format, not because of lack of ideas but because there are 3 or 4 we really like and we’re having a hard time choosing. If there’s an audio format you’d be interested in put it in the comments, now is the time for feedback. Otherwise I’ll just pick one ­čśŤ

Tell you what though. One format we aren’t considering is ‘talking head’. Whatever format we’re deciding on is going to involve other people.

We uh…got greedy. We’ve started receiving the sexy items we ordered earlier and that number has gone up to eight! The blog is gonna have a sexier tone for a while.

Between sickness and focus on my last review the book reading ventures haven’t been coming along as fast as I’d like. That might be the books fault, these might make it on the did-not-read pile, which would be a first. Normally I can power my way through one in an evening. I’ve had these over a week and one of them is like pocket-reference sized.

Circling back to the audio. That’s the biggest thing on our minds right now. We’re both nervous and excited to get that off the ground.

Dildo Review – Apollo by Bad Dragon

Dildo Review – Apollo by Bad Dragon

Introducing Apollo:

Our Valentines Day happened to closely coincide with a tax return, so in light of the timing and in light of thoroughly enjoying reviewing our warchest for the blog, we dropped some serious cash on expanding our collection. So before all of our new shinies arrive I’d like to give the old guard a proper send off. No I’m not getting rid of them, but a lot of the things we ordered are new to market and we’d like to review those as soon as they get here. Yes, the blog is getting sexier for a little while. Based on our metrics, y’all really don’t mind that.

Last weekend I laid out in great length why fantasy toys are far more niche than they ought to be, and it seemed only prudent that the star of this particular show would be something that perhaps the readers of this blog may just be able to wrap their head around, well, among other things. I’ve already introduced you to our two Apollos but the star of tonight’s show is going to be our medium sized, medium firmness model. I will compare it directly with its large sized option where I think it makes sense, they both deserve some discussion, but the medium is remarkable for being in a sort of Goldilocks zone. For some people it’s going to be about as big as they can handle, for others, about as small as they can go before it’s not interesting anymore, but truth be told, I think the vast bulk of this audience will have a fantastic time with Apollo, and we’re going to show you why. Quick note, this review is written from a vaginal perspective, we do not use this toy anally and will not be stepping outside our area of expertise here.

Part 1 – Aesthetics:

One of the main draws of that fantasy toy market is the aesthetic, and would you just look at this glittery, sparkly, pink-and-gold-and-seafoam hunk of dildo, all six usable inches.

getting the sparkles to show in photos is difficult
from the back

Usually to get a look this bold you have to get a promotional color (fortunately those seem to happen very frequently), but many options available all year long are beautiful and striking. In fact, the ‘signature’ color of Apollo is quite fetching and is never not available.

example of signature

Now the color and the shape are easy to admire and I for one find Apollo to be very easy on the eyes in general, but something else that lends to its overall appearance is probably leaping out at you too, and that takes us to our next section.

Part 2 – Texture

Apollo is an aggressively textured dildo, and your choice of firmness is going to affect greatly just how rough your experience is. Keep in mind, as the size goes lower the ‘felt’ hardness of any given hardness goes down. Emily notes that our medium sized Apollo, the star of this show, nevertheless has more pronounced textures than our large Apollo. We got our large in soft, and our medium in…well, medium. That small change in firmness, even given the massive size difference, is enough to give the smaller version of the toy more aggressive texturing. Most of the community reports, and we concur, that when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with medium firmness.

Lets start with the head, which Emily describes as convincingly finger-like, though much softer, almost like a gentler more accessible form of fisting, it’s easy to see on close inspection how that feeling is achieved.

along the back-side of the head are some tiny ridges, which Emily only really feels if they are pointed posterior and not anterior.

Your mileage of course, may vary. Both features end in a pair if rings, you can see them just below the ‘fingers’ that make up the head and you will definitely feel those. They drive Emily crazy and she emphasizes their definition.

As you clear the head the tiny ridges turn into large pronounced scales. Emily loves to switch-up how they’re oriented. Posterior facing, they stimulate the perineum, which can subtly contribute to orgasm and also relax the anus. Switch the scales to anterior-facing and you get heavy stimulation of the g-spot. These ridges are no joke, and they sit opposite the only area of the toy that lacks in aggressive texture.

Introducing the knot

Say hello to Apollo’s final challenge, the knot. This bulbous feature not only gives a wave cresting sensation but holds Apollo inside you, making the pull-out an aggressive sensation of it’s own, this effect is aided by going ‘against the grain’ of the scales. If you can overcome the knot you should be able to hilt Apollo—fantasy toy slang for touching the base of the toy—and say you trained this dragon.

Part 3 – Size:

Here’s where things get a little number heavy, because choosing the correct size of Apollo can radically change how the toy functions. First of all let’s sort something out, even in medium size you will want to give Apollo plenty of lube. Only if you’re the type to get extremely wet will you be able to go without, and it will probably diminish the experience anyway. Emily can take a large Apollo to the hilt with enough time, but even she won’t tackle a medium without some lubricant. As a reminder, NEVER EVER USE SILICONE LUBRICANT ON A SILICONE TOY, YOU WILL RUIN IT. We went over Apollo’s exact measurements in a recent post illustrating why we use D-score. It’s the same post I linked earlier in the article. There are some handy tables there that should be quick to find that give the stats. Here they are again for the sake of convenience. Keep in mind, the only place you’ll encounter the shaft measurement is the tiny area between the head and the knot, and below the knot.

MediumLargeCoke Can 12oz
Diameter of Head2.25″3″2.6″
Diameter of Knot2.5″3.25″2.6″
Diameter of Shaft1.75″2.5″2.6″
Total Length7.75″9.75″4.8″
Usable Length6″8″4.8″
D-Score Head2.44.23.2
D-Score Knot353.2

Quick Reminder: D-score is a measurement that essentially gives us the number of median sized dicks to equal the girth of a toy. You can read D-Score more easily as “This is how many dicks this is worth in girth”. So a D-Score of 2.5 would be 2 and a half dicks of girth, to make it simple.

Part 4 – Philosophy of Use:

How close Apollo is to your limits is going to affect how you play with him, and ultimately what size you choose. It should be noted, that there are small, and XL sizes, but since we don’t own either of those we won’t pontificate on them. For some of you I’m sure medium will be near or at the edge of what you can currently take and you’ll have to work to conquer Apollo. You can enjoy the medium the way Emily enjoys the large, as a stretcher toy.

But what is a stretcher toy anyway? It’s not something that’s generally advertised. Most toys are billed as penis replacements and are built around the idea that you’ll be heavily thrusting with them. With large Apollo, Emily has managed to have an orgasm simply from the sense of fullness after conquering the knot. This is what a stretcher toy does.

For others, the medium experience will be much like Emily’s, if not now, at a future date, and after a little bit of warm-up you’ll be able to enjoy Apollo as a girthy, highly textured thrusting toy. Emily doesn’t last very long when using Apollo this way, and you may want to practice edging, though that’s a whole ‘nother blog.

On the note of enjoying medium Apollo as a thrusting toy, at 6 inches usable depth Apollo is squatty enough that he may not hit your cervix if you find that painful, though he might bump it a little. If you have a very sensitive cervix you may want to consider dropping a firmness level to soft. You’d be amazed at just how hard most mainstream toys are, even compared to medium firmness. This squatty but girthy design gives some women options they didn’t have before when it comes to how forceful they can be while thrusting a toy.

Part 5 – Accessories:

Apollo can be equipped with a cumtube and/or a suction cup. The former allows you to apply lube while in use, and also to simulate having the toy cum inside you—a sensation many find uniquely stimulating, and that many more enjoy watching. This is definitely a couples feature if nothing else. The suction cup option is built into the base, and if you’ve ever used suction cups before you might be thinking “oh there’s no way that’s sticking to my wall”. Well, you might be right but I doubt it, the suction cups on Bad-Dragon toys are very strong, in fact, you might want to be more concerned about taking the paint off your wall than the toy slipping off. I’ve seen these toys, when appropriately left alone, remain attached to a wall for weeks.

In our opinion an Apollo without a suction cup is 10 bucks you shouldn’t have saved. The cumtube is a matter of personal preference and if you’re on the fence about it, I’d actually not include it, especially if this is your first round with a fantasy toy. If you do opt for the cumtube—for the record, we find it a ton of fun—you will also get a complimentary 8oz bottle of cumlube which we’ve already reviewed.

Part 6 – Cost and Conclusion:

An Apollo in medium size can be had for between 105-155 U.S. dollars depending on your coloration choices and options. The former is with a ‘free’ color, such as the natural coloration or glow-in-the-dark purple with no accessories and the latter is with the signature coloration and both a suction cup and a cumtube. A middle of the road configuration might be the promotional coloration and a suction cup, which would land you at 130 dollars. Whichever route you go remember that you’re not spending any less than 105+Shipping and I suggest getting what you actually want rather than trying to save 20 bucks on a 150 dollar toy. The cost may be a deterring factor but Emily and I find it quite worth it.

You may want to regularly check the clearance section on Bad Dragon for an Apollo in the configuration you are looking for, you can save a non-trivial amount of money if you strike it lucky and toys from the clearance section do not have to be made before they are shipped, that can get your toy to you weeks or even a month or more faster than ordering made-to-order. Something to consider.

In conclusion, despite the price, we find Apollo to be worth absolutely every penny, we bought two, and the large is even more expensive. Whether you are using Apollo as an orgasmic stretcher or a punishing thruster, we are sure you will not regret owning one, the only thing you may regret, is the wait.

You can customize yours here. https://bad-dragon.com/products/apollo

Wakfu – The Best Children’s Show You’ve Probably Not Seen

Wakfu – The Best Children’s Show You’ve Probably Not Seen

A good children’s program is a more important part of household dynamic than you might think. Children can cause enough discord without you also hating the things they watch. Unfortunately children’s programming frequently ranks as the cheapest, ill thought out, cash-in garbage there is. It’s funny how we use our children as a precious resource to justify giving in to any demands made by teachers unions but accept as a matter of course that modern programming would do well to live up to the standards of Thomas and Friends, you know back before they were CGI animated. A children’s show that is not just tolerable, but that the parents enjoy watching with their children is rarer than it ought to be.

That takes us to an entertainment company in France called Ankama. They’re known for an MMORPG called Dofus and Wakfu is an animated program based on it. Typically, this is the last sort of situation you’d expect anything worth watching to come out of. So just how enjoyable is Wakfu anyway? Well, let’s put it this way, the show being quite old was shown to me by my at-the-time 24 yearold roommate because he enjoyed it thoroughly. You see he was a fan of Japanese anime and Wakfu managed to penetrate that fandom to a certain extent. Fan-made subtitles were done to translate it out of French, and in the last couple of years it’s received an official English translation on Netflix. It got there through a kickstarter fundraiser to fund the translation. Yeah, this show was good enough that a kickstarter campaign actually worked and a product came out of it.

I’ve watched Wakfu’s first season with my children at least six times now (I really recommend leaving it to the first season and we’ll get to that later). It’s that enjoyable. The main villian is convincing and genuinely dangerous. Encounters with him go badly, often in ways that last most of or the whole way through the ending of the first season, his motivations are relatable, and his goals are clear. Silver screen villains rarely get the formula as correct as this. Character flaws of the protagonists often result in permanent consequences for the group and they become such trouble that they have to overcome those flaws and grow to proceed. One of the main characters literally starts the show unable to control his demons, that remains a serious issue for most of the first season. The show can get very serious, but it doesn’t stay that way long enough to be detrimental, nor does it stick to the innocuous for too long. Wakfu gets extra points from me for being brave with consequences for bad decisions. This isn’t one of those shows where the reset button gets hit at the end of every episode. There are a lot of shows for adults that can’t seem to get over that trap. It takes most of the first season for the narrative arc to really find its footing, and prior to that the pacing can seem a bit off, but once it hits that stride mid season it just does not let up for a moment and the experience is immensely enjoyable.

The voice acting by the French cast is competent, energetic, and expressive. The English cast, not so much. Depending on the age of your kids you may have to bear with it, but I used it as a motivator to get them reading faster. That’s something you’ll have to feel out but use the original audio if at all possible. Though not as strong a recommendation, I also don’t recommend going past season one, not just because season one is the strongest season but because season two ruins one of the best endings in any children’s show ever. Season one, on it’s own, is simply a better story. I’d say, as a target, the optimal age group for this show is 9-14, most of the cast is dealing with the troubles of early adolescence. Between finding your nerve, liking who you see in the mirror, dropping your facade, learning how to take risks, and of course love, the show deals with many issues in that age group without using kid gloves, and I absolutely love the lack of coddling. I don’t know if this show represents French television well, but if it does they are worlds ahead of the United States in figuring out that treating your children like infants will cause them to stay that way.

If you can’t tell by now, or by the title, I really do adore this show, and you should do yourself a favor and stop suffering through dreadful children’s television and watch Wakfu instead. It’s just that good, you may end up enjoying it as much as they do.

She Needs to Feel Sexy

I used a word as strong as need intentionally. We’ll get to that in a second.

So I was reading through some posts on Ashley Danielle’s page and she had something up about picking a sexy dress out for Vegas. As she was communicating her desire to feel sexy—which in itself is the emotion of feeling sexually desirable—I recalled moments when my wife expressed the same thing.

The thing I remembered in particular was when Emily was having body image issues after our third child. Yes, some things happened to her body that she felt were less attractive, but she was focusing on those to the point she couldn’t see the beautiful woman that she still is. My attempts to convince her otherwise weren’t working. In our case we did something a bit drastic, risky, but something I was real confident about. Emily is a stunning woman, pregnancy battle scars included, and she was not only succumbing to a negative internal image but her photoshop detector wasn’t working properly either. She couldn’t really perceive the laughably harsh soft filtering on pictures of models and insta. I just happened to be learning photoshop at the time.

So I did two things. One, and this is admittedly extreme, I got her to throw her image out to the harsh judgement of the internet, something I assured her would be positive despite its reputation, and I was right. The next thing I did was take a picture of her, and photoshopped it until it looked like what I was seeing through my husband goggles. For some reason, that maneuver really punched through, though the first thing also did its job very well. Emily started to feel confident and sexy again.

I think that’s an emotional need that often isn’t treated as seriously as say, the need to be loved. There’s a little insecurity in accepting praise at face value from your spouse. How can your wife be assured that you aren’t just trying to avoid the couch after all? By seeking the honest validation of strangers she can be assured that your praise is not a white lie. A little black dress is more than an outfit, it’s a reminder with each noticed sideways glance that your desire for her may be based on something more tangible than just aiming to please, it will let her accept the idea that you actually desire her, the way a stranger might. I guarantee you, that will make her feel better about her body, and it will turn her on. She needs to feel sexy because she wants to know you want her. Deny yourself the benefits at your own peril.

NSFW: Why We Collect

NSFW: Why We Collect

So we did it, we pulled the trigger on that Mystic from Bad Dragon I told you about here. That brings our Bad Dragon collection to oh, eight, once it arrives. There are a lot of you in my audience that may think that’s a large number, and as far as the median toy collection goes you’re probably right, but we’re talking about Bad Dragon here, and while I’ve touched on it lightly in the past you need to know your first Bad Dragon toy probably won’t be your last. These things are like pringles, I’ve never seen someone buy just one. But why is that?

Emily and I have our own reasons for growing our Bad Dragon collection, but I got real curious about why others were doing the same thing. The community is scattered, but it exists, and whether it’s on the Bad Dragon official forums, or the subreddit, or the many other communities across the internet, a crowd we now feel a part of, one trend blazes brightly—photos of gigantic collections of Bad Dragon and other fantasy dildo manufacturer’s toys. Everyday people like Emily and I dropping several grand on brightly-colored vaguely-phallic hunks of silicone are a staple of these communities. Emily and I are well on our way and our modest collection—sometimes referred to as a family photo—is growing and is pictured below. Update: Banner image has been replaced with a more recent picture.

I decided to ask other members of the community how they felt about it. The following comment from this thread is from u/KittyLordSavior is something I found especially interesting.

Ya know… I actually hated dildos before I was introduced to bad dragon. Traditional dildos that I’ve used were boring, too firm, and made of potentially harmful materials. They never turned me on or made me feel good while using them.


I initially bought my first toy, a small ika, because i love tentacles and I thought it would be hilarious to own. Once it arrived I was blown away by the craftsmanship, quality, and over all aesthetic of the toy. That ika totally hooked me, I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to try every model Bad dragon offered.


The color and accessory options add another layer of depth to collecting for me. Not only do I want one of every model but it also has to be pretty and have a suction cup. For some reason the “hunt”, if you will, for the perfect toy is really satisfying for me. I enjoy browsing their weekly inventory drops and checking out their special promotional color options.


Collecting fantasy themed dicks is a hobby that I greatly enjoy. I’ve started to branch out to other indie toy makers as well, so many cool and unique designs are out there!

u/KittyLordSavior
KittyLordSavior’s Collection, used with permission.

That’s just an amazing statement to me. I know Emily and I grew out of low-end toys because of how unsatisfactory and potentially unsafe they were, but to think they were so bad that someone willing to build this stunning collection thought that they hated dildos as a matter of course! This is a classic example of why I call our love of Bad Dragon toys the “fetish that isn’t”. These toys have a broader, mainstream, I dare say universal appeal that just isn’t being appreciated yet. Also, totally jealous of that table and I love the normalcy that it brings to the photo. You have this giant collection of out-there sex toys sitting on top of one of the most normal of objects.

Let’s break down that not-a-fetish thing. First, let’s get our definitions straight, otherwise we get nowhere. A fetish is “a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc. ” Emphasis mine. I’m actually pretty on the fence on this. If you limit the scope of this to fantasy dildos, guilty as charged. If these are just sex toys then this is normal enough to be a PornHub category. Statements like LordKittySavior’s and my own experience with them leans me towards the latter interpretation. The bulk of the responses in that thread reinforces the normalcy sentiment. It might be abnormal if they weren’t just superior sex toys in both form and function to mainstream offerings. If they weren’t we could just call this a fantasy fetish and be done with it but mainstream dildos simply provide inferior stimulation—which is why weak vibrators are crammed into most of them—and don’t look near as gorgeous. Photos don’t do them justice either. They aren’t quite Kantian disinterest beautiful, they have a utility after all, but sometimes I just look at some of the things we own just to look at them for a minute. Some of these pieces easily rival some of the pathetic things passed as art in trendy galleries. These items are hand poured, gorgeous, and intrinsically unique—that’s a collection motivator on its own.

I think a lot of us, even inside the community, are reluctant to admit the appeal these have outside their targeted niche group. The subreddit is full of reluctant first time buyers discovering that they’re now hooked and looking for advice in taking the first admittedly confusing steps. Is that abnormal? Emily and I were the same way and went through a period of asking ourselves “are we that odd? are we strange? is this kink?”. Now I don’t even feel like this qualifies as unusual. In fact, yeah, let’s share that story.

Emily and I have a mutual friend of the equine persuasion. That is, she actually cares for, rears, and trains horses. One day she came complaining to us out of the blue that she was really a size queen but there was just nothing at the local sex shops remotely big enough for her that weren’t outright gag gifts, poor quality ones at that. Emily and I lit up. We joked about her love of horses and how exactly it was she came to know she was a size queen, and when she was completely unembarrassed by that joke we showed her Chance, Tyson, and Bumble Hooves on the website—for those of you who don’t know, these are all horse shaped offerings. That’s her nickname now, Bumble Hooves. She wants a Bumble Hooves in large as soon as she has the funds. Emily and I think we’re gonna send her some store credit to get her started. Why store credit? Because gifting someone a custom dildo as a surprise gift is weird; her husband would not be about that. Yep, that’s the part of this story that’s weird to us. Not the group shopping, not the toys themselves, just the general notion that gifting someone a custom sex toy may be crossing some personal boundaries. The fetish that isn’t. By all other measures, we’re a bit conservative. Did I mention “Bumble Hooves” is a devout salt of the earth country catholic girl? This story has echoes of how we got our first Bad Dragon dildo. Abnormal? You be the judge.

u/Lapras_Lass has an enormous and gorgeous collection of her own, over 50 of them! But she reports in the same thread that her reasons for starting were remarkably similar to ours.

Haha, you sound like me and my husband! We definitely have fetishes, but we collect because we love the variety of shapes, textures, sizes, and colors.


My husband and I were once unable to even imagine affording one BD toy. Then our situation changed, our careers took off, and we were able to afford a little luxury. We bought three to start with, and that grew to about 12 in less than a year. Now, we have over 50. (blush)


We do have other hobbies, but they don’t cost much money at all. We like browsing thrift shops for used books; I enjoy birdwatching around the neighborhood; we do play video games, but we’re the type who buys a game and plays it for years. Our entire video game collection can fit on a single small shelf (plus we usually buy used). Collecting and using sex toys is our primary recreational activity, and it’s awesome. We’re now branching out to other toy-makers, and finding some definite new favorites!


Congrats on your newfound hobby!

u/Lapras_Lass

The unique shapes, colors, textures, sizes, craftsmanship, all the primary reasons Emily and I started collecting. Lapras is very busy in the subreddit helping the community out with their questions about the overwhelming variety of options available and also runs a blog where she reviews the items she’s collected. I’m especially a fan of the post for beginners. I highly encourage you to check it out. One of the reasons we started talking about fantasy toys on this blog was because we felt we had experience it would otherwise take a non-trivial amount of money and risk to make a guess on and we felt obligated to start sharing those experiences. I asked Lapras if that’s why she started reviewing hers as well and we share that experience. When it comes to experience though I think it’s very safe to say that Lapras has us beat by a country mile. Check out this collection!

[COLLECTION] Had to Move Down to the Next Shelf
Used with permission from u/Lapras_Lass

As you go through the thread comments you start to notice a theme. Sample size not withstanding there’s overwhelming support for the idea that the thing that really makes these toys attractive are the shapes and aesthetics. A few people also mention the functionality perks—suction cups and cumtubes are wonderful things, those suction cups can manage on slightly textured walls and there’s just nothing like a toy that can creampie you—and a few actually are into the fantasy fetish itself, which, I’d have expected more of if it was primarily the fantasy fetish crowd buying these things. But that’s kinda the point, I don’t think it is primarily that crowd doing the buying—at least not based on the composition of reddit and forum posts. In serving that community Bad Dragon seems to have stumbled on a formula that speaks to a much broader group of people. I think that’s awesome, and I think it’s high time sex toys were pleasure focused rather than focused on being a facsimile for a person. In the latter case, you have a superior option in the person in every way, in the former case the person may still insist on using the toy and without the person the experience is nonetheless unique. Apparently a lot of other people agree.

It’s not just the thread we created to ask the question either—that was just a way to get a few of those responses in one place. You can see this all over the community if you hang out long enough. There are constantly threads about reluctant first time buyers taking the plunge after having looked into it a while, waffling. It seems for every thread showing a very large toy being conquered (size is something these toys are famous for) there’s a thread about someone worried that going bigger than a mini might be too much. Buttressed against the nervous newbies are the people like us that have a few models already but want details to make an informed decision about the next one. They already know what they’re into and what they want out of the toy, but they have questions about whether or not the model they’re looking into actually does that. Many very experienced buyers still get the ‘big eyes’ phenomenon and buy more than they can handle—that was another reason we started using D-score, and it’s another reason collections grow.

People also use these toys to explore preferences they didn’t know they had. Some discover they’re size queens, some discover they certainly are not! Some figure out they really love texture and others really enjoy a smooth ride. Some, Emily being one, discover they can orgasm off of sheer size—no thrusting required, thanks Apollo. Many have purchased several toys in pursuit of the Goldilocks size, we sure did, that alone can start a collection, it’s yet another reason we devised D-score, and it’s one of the reasons fantasy dildos have a vibrant second hand market—though the ability to 100% sanitize a silicone toy is another big reason. There’s so much to learn about yourself, your body, there’s the thrill of the chase for the next great experience, and some sell their previous toys to help them keep chasing, keep hunting, for that perfect toy, with the perfect texture, the perfect size, the perfect shape, the perfect color and pattern, and the perfect pour. The gaming community once made sending people ‘Dragon Dildos’ a meme, and some of these people started with a ‘gag’ gift that turned out to be more pleasurable than a comedy club. It’s why we collect.

If none of that’s your thing, that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone is into spanking or being tied up either (we call that a fetish too even though it seems a plurality of us are into that, I guess 50 Shades sold so well for being too weird eh?). Some people just don’t like toys—though, as mentioned above, that could be due to unfairly poor experiences. Some people can’t get over the animalistic aesthetic. Heck, there are shapes we find to be a turnoff, like the ones that look a little too much like a dog. I personally don’t dig the sheathes either and I’ve never once wanted for a masturbator, much less one that reminded me of a horse. That however, is the point. I’m not saying that all of Bad Dragon, or all of the fantasy dildo scene is for everyone. That certainly isn’t the case with us. What I am saying is that inside the fantasy toy scene, there’s something for everyone (maybe a lot of somethings), and of that I am absolutely sure.

We’ll end on a couple of imgur galleries just for fun, in order: Individual shots of u/lapras_lass’s collection, u/ainaakjama’s collection, and u/a_dirty_account’s collection.

Upcoming Stuff, Updates

So far I’ve been using the rules of the WP reader to keep NSFW images from popping up in y’alls feeds since we have a lot of mixed content here. My next feature length post won’t be able to avoid that, there are too many pictures. It’s nothing too bad, just some inanimate objects you probably don’t want showing up in a work context. So I’m planning to drop that piece on Saturday and I think you should look for it. It’s not going to be boring!

On a related note, we pulled the trigger on that unicorn horn shaped dildo from Bad Dragon. That should be arriving in a few weeks.

I’m currently reading two books at the same time because one is witty and the other is really dry. One is Getting To Yes and the other is If You Are In My Office It’s Too Late. So those are the book reviews that are coming. Most of my time recently has been spent on the post mentioned above.

Although we love Bad Dragon to death, we’re going to be exploring items from some of the other fantasy toy manufacturers soon. We’re looking at items from Pleasure Forge, Twin Tails, Dread the Empire, and Primal Hardwere[sic].

We recently crossed 30 subscribers and I’d like to thank all of you for following us. I remember being concerned about getting 5. It means a lot.

Nothing to announce yet, but I’m looking at the idea of doing audio in a group discussion context. Let me know if you’d like to see err, hear that. You’ll be hearing a lot more from Emily directly that way. She likes how I write so much she doesn’t do it herself >_>. Until next time.

Parental Bonds

I don’t always manage to stay on topic here. Most of the content is supposed to be about relationships, specifically marriages, from the point of engagement onward. I also would like to focus on things you’re not typically hearing or prepared for. Today I’m going to deviate from that just slightly, and on purpose. We’re going to talk about something you’re probably sick of hearing about, but you’re simply not prepared for, at least if it hasn’t happened yet.

Your first child.

I’m sure you’ve heard it from your parents. I’m sure, long before you decided to get married, you’ve played out the scene where one or both of your parents throws their hands up in exasperation and exclaims some permutation of the following: “When you have kids you’ll understand.”

Well, they’re right, it’s one of the many things your parents were right about. We all go through those face-palm light bulb moments. My parents didn’t spend so many words on it, perhaps they thought an explanation would be wasted, or impossible. Impossible, probably, but not wasted. I’m going to attempt, I’m going to do the best I can to convey just how powerful that love can be. I’m sure, like many before me, I’ll fail to exhaust all the words necessary to convey the meaning. I’m sure the words sufficient to do so do not quite exist. I’m just going to do my best.

When I decided to marry Emily we had the strongest romantic bond I had ever felt in my life. I had a separate bond with my parents and siblings that felt on par, but it sure wasn’t romantic and Emily came slightly ahead anyway. I didn’t think there was a situation that was likely to happen where I would choose say, my parents, over Emily, but I could imagine them if I tried hard enough. When Emily became pregnant with our first child, that immediately changed. Emily was now unequivocally first, above and beyond the bonds of siblings or parents, not even on the same playing field. If we were in some impossible SAW movie scenario and it was push my mom into a wood chipper or lose Emily it would be the wood chipper no problem. It would suck, as understated as using that word there is, but it wouldn’t be a difficult decision. Hell, mom would probably ask me to push her into the wood chipper, but she would have had the advantage of knowing the love of a child already. It’s a little graphic, and you might think I’m spending a little too much time on that already, but there’s a point to it. On other fronts, my aggression increased. My eyes were wide open and everyone was a potential threat. That hardly ever manifested itself anywhere but my heart rate, but even the act of Emily driving herself to work became nerve racking. I wanted, selfishly, to ensure that if anything happened to her that it was either unpreventable or my fault. I anticipated each day the grief that would befall me if something happened to Emily that I could have prevented had I been there.

Sound a bit obsessive? Good, because that’s what was going on. Her safety became an obsession of Don Quixote proportions that took an extraordinary amount of will power to prevent from manifesting into daily actions. Oddly enough this obsession started self-soothing as time went on and the baby bump was getting bigger. Not until the “any day now” phase did that feeling rear its head again.

Then it happened. I watched our first child come into the world. I’ll clarify this right now. I can only write this from a father’s perspective. I can’t under any circumstances imagine that Emily doesn’t experience these feelings on a more powerful level, it’s impossible to compare however, so I won’t. I swear with everything I have I could feel my brain chemistry changing on the spot. I was never the same again. I started noticing changes in my behavior and mood almost immediately.

I noticed that sad news stories involving children and particularly murders hit me like a ton of bricks rather than the just-another-bit-of-info that they were before. I thought parents whom’s children died of neglect were unbelievably incompetent before. I abjectly hated them now, I actively wished for their deaths. Prior to this, I’d go to the seedy underbelly of the internet on occasion and take some morbid satisfaction in some gore threads. I don’t enjoy those anymore—I can’t even stomach them. I don’t know if something was just fundamentally broken with my empathy back then, but it was fully armed and operational now.

I recall, not long after the event, Emily and I were up late watching a very old episode of Deadliest Catch. It was during the two or so weeks I had off after the birth—I’m lucky to work for a place that affords me such luxuries. An episode like this wouldn’t have bothered me before, despite being the eldest of four and the youngest indeed being a little sister, but one of the fishermen got news that his little sister had cancer, or had succumbed to it, I forget which, it doesn’t much matter, I bawled. It came from absolutely nowhere, I was just fine and then I wasn’t.

During the first several months I would wake up in the middle of the night, not because of crying or anything, but because I was afraid my child had stopped breathing and I felt the urge to check. That remained constant with each subsequent child. I was a tosser and turner prior to my first born. Emily decided she wanted to co-sleep. I instantly and immediately stopped tossing and turning in my sleep, I lay mostly still now. Did I mention the terror of SIDS and the need to make sure my child was still alive in the middle of the night, and didn’t die for literally no understood reason?

I know a mother whom’s child did die in the middle of the night, inexplicably. You hold your children tighter when you get that news. I think the absolute worst thing was when a friend of mine passed away suddenly as a result of a seizure. I have to impress this, I have to make this absolutely crystal. Losing my friend was not as painful as imagining, and witnessing, the grief of a father that’s outlived his son. I get emotional just typing that out. Losing an infant is immensely terrible, but I have to be honest, I think losing a young man or woman in their prime is that much worse. You know SIDS is a thing, you know that’s a possibility, a terrible and tragic possibility, you are hyper aware of their frailty in that stage of life, but losing someone in their mid-twenties to a seizure, it just doesn’t compute.

Realizing that the love of your life, isn’t. That was an eye opener. Here you have this beautiful, loving wife worthy of all your adoration and you think that nothing will ever top that. You’re wrong. My wife had become above my parents, now she was the second banana. Between her and any one of my children, Emily gets the wood chipper. She feels the same way about me, and neither of us feel a hint of guilt about it. If you’re married now, but don’t have children, I really want you to take a second and try to imagine loving someone else enough that condemning your spouse to death is even an option.

That aggression I mentioned before when Emily was pregnant? Multiply that a few times. I had never before seen Emily get short or aggressive with anyone. Beware parents with young children, they’re not to be messed with, you just don’t understand what that chemical cocktail can do until it happens to you. There’s a reason society frowns on messing with other parents kids. You’d be surprised just how much spine and rage you can find within yourself when you feel they’ve been mistreated, or even that they’re about to be. Maybe you’ve encountered some really meek parents before, granted. Don’t press your luck, you’re going to run into something entirely different someday if you do. I can’t express that enough. Playing that game is dangerous, physically dangerous. Socializing your kids isn’t just about them getting along with other children, the parents of the other children are threats too. Seeing your child overtly physically mistreated, especially by a significantly larger kid, is enough to make you forget that you aren’t supposed to come at children with the intention of seriously hurting them. Do not let your kid turn into that if you value their safety. Ignore that if you want, think that extreme if you want, it kinda is, but it’s also the truth, you don’t know rage like that until you do. Don’t let it surprise you.

How could it be any other way? Who else would you endure that many sleepless nights for? Not your spouse I can tell you that much. Your children are utterly dependent on you. They’re not just dependent on you for their nutrition or their physical safety, neither of which do they make easy, they’re dependent on you for emotional support too. Lack of love and touch can literally be fatal to an infant. So not only do you need to change every diaper, never miss a meal, deprive yourself of sleep, you’ve got to do it while totally in love with them. Willingly and lovingly exploited. That’s the bond with a child. I hope I even got a tenth as far with that as I needed to.

That Time My Brother Hated My Wife

So this is a thing I don’t often speak of, but it’s pretty darn relevant to this blog. What do you do when a family member dislikes your spouse? Depends on what kind of family you have, ultimately. I consider what happened between my brother and I to be about as good as that could have gone. I don’t think there’s a method or trick or rule that’s going to solve this problem for everyone that experiences it so I’m just going to share the story as is and my feelings about it and let you make up your own mind from there.

James and I always had a very different experience with women as we grew up. I’m not sure if it’s because of luck or because he’s more attractive or because we were aiming different. Perhaps I was more naive. I was under the strong belief that it wasn’t worth wasting my time on temporary pair bonds. I was in it to get married and have children from the word go. There were girls I found highly attractive in middle school, but I didn’t want to be with them, there’s no way that was going to last. I kept that opinion until my Jr. year or so of high school. I started looking for mates, not girlfriends. Turns out that was a little early to get started too, at least with that stated goal. Looking back that seems obvious to me. James on the other hand was quite successful with the temporary pair bonding and didn’t seem to want for a longer term arrangement and especially not children.

James rarely approved of my girlfriends. The first was a strict, “you can do better” and he was right. In fact, those words ended that relationship. Actually at this point I feel I should point out that I’m not just the older of the two of us, I’m the eldest sibling. My brother’s opinions carry lots of weight, always have. Emily got a much better approval rating, which is to say that James didn’t voice disapproval until after the marriage. Here’s where things get interesting, and perhaps instructive. This story could end up being more useful to the people doing the disliking than the recipients.

The timelines on this are really fuzzy, so I’m going to try and just stick to the narrative order of events here. For instance, I can no longer remember if James first voiced his opinions before or after his nephew was born (One of the reasons for starting this blog was to get those things out before they were completely forgotten). I do however remember being physically in his presence when he broached the subject. He had lived out of town for a while at this point and was visiting for some reason. He waited until he was with me physically and we were alone to break it to me. That wasn’t too difficult, one of our favorite past times is taking long lonely walks together.

James told me that he was sure Emily was a good wife and didn’t mean to disparage our relationship—waiting until after the marriage was pretty good evidence of that I thought—but that he just couldn’t stand being around her and that he hated her. Hate has been a diluted word for some time and I knew at the time and from his tone of voice that what he really meant was strong dislike. He couldn’t stand her attitude and being around her was an exercise in restraint, which he demonstrated admirably.

I kinda felt sorry for James, not quite pity but sorry for him. I wasn’t angry, but I wanted him to like my wife. Who doesn’t want their brother to like their wife? Heck, who doesn’t want their friends to like their wife? I knew however, that the way he was telling me and the timing with which he broke it to me indicated that there wasn’t any use in trying to change his mind. Both of us obviously thought it was in everyone’s best interest not to relay that opinion to my wife, but that I should be mindful of it when arranging get-togethers and that sort of thing. For his part, James didn’t seem angry or resentful either, just solemn, almost like relaying a sad story from a newspaper. I’m not sure he knew what to do with those feelings. I was just going to give it time. I assured him sincerely that it wouldn’t affect our relationship.

That’s the thing about being brothers, we’re stuck with each other for a while. At least, we are in my family. Who else is going to keep you honest? Family has to be able to tell you things you don’t want to hear, it’s the test on whether you really care about someone. If you can’t disapprove of really bad decisions when it really matters, the way James did with my first shot at a relationship, when can you disapprove of them? Is your capacity to care about someone limited to brow beating them about how many calories are in that snickers bar or other social niceties? Well then you probably aren’t really looking out for them as well as you should, at least that’s how I view it. Actually yeah, a side bar on our particular family dynamic may be instructive here.

I’m well aware that not all families work that way, and I’ve noticed that the more broken a family is the more the individual members tend to subscribe to the idea that friends can be family. Stable and strong families like mine tend to subscribe to the blood is thicker than water mantra. I can’t say I’ve done any sort of study on that or anything, that’s just been my life experience. We do however have research on how real mom can make stepmom’s life hell┬ájust┬áby┬áexisting. Worth thinking about. Seems a pretty obvious explanation to me really, absent a genuine family bond there’s no reason to value that relationship over a good friendship. I can guarantee you though, that families that get it right are experiencing a more powerful and more useful bond than any friendship could. I have plenty of both. Perhaps your family isn’t so close, you can break that cycle. Emily’s family has some problems, they backbite, have petty squabbles over inheritance, some even steal from the elders outright—I mean actual petit theft. These things are unheard of on my side. I told Emily that her family’s behavior ends with our home and our generation; she likes that idea.

My family is the only group of people I can count on to always have my best interests at heart whether they are praising me or knocking me down a few pegs because we’re stuck with each other until we die. That attitude tends to keep needless fights at bay and motives on the right course. They’re not going to spite me out of jealousy, but they can also be counted on not to be sycophants. There sure were fights though, not to get too deep into that but don’t think I’m trying to paint some idealistic picture of a family here. I’m just commenting on the nature of the bond itself. We have fights, and when we do it’s intense and bitter and feelings are really hurt. Those fights tend not to be needless and those criticisms almost always have truth buried in them, perhaps that makes them hurt more. The strength of those bonds let James and I keep our cool.

James didn’t disapprove of my relationship with Emily, he just couldn’t like her, but he could have disapproved, and I would have listened. That doesn’t mean I’d have left her, I didn’t drop my first girlfriend just like that, I gave that plenty of thought, but I’d question the motives of any non-family member for telling me such things out of the gate. I can count on my family to come from a position of looking out for me as their sincere motive. That means my spouse can be a source of disagreement between my brother and I without turning into a source of conflict. That’s why adding Emily to my family came with a ceremony and vows. Words of adoration and good sentiment aren’t good enough.

Patience ended up winning out and eventually James came to like Emily without any persuasion or brow beating from me. Time and exposure. He came to like certain qualities about her. Indeed, when James switched gears and started dating with marriage in mind he suddenly noticed qualities about Emily that lent themselves to such a relationship and was suddenly very appreciative of them. James simply couldn’t see them before because his goals were different. Ultimately, family thing aside, that’s why I was able to take his initial criticisms of Emily in stride. His outlook on relationships and their purpose was obviously different, and that was okay. He also didn’t turn his personal feelings in a mission to change me or Emily. He said his piece and left it alone.

Disagreements like this don’t always go so smoothly, but they can. Hope that’s helpful, or that you enjoyed the read at the very least.