The K Rules

1. Never Outweigh Your Boyfriend ~ When taken at face value, this statement can seem a little cold and quite harsh. This is NOT in any way meant to encourage you to starve yourself to fit into a size-two spaghetti-strap mini-dress. This also does not mean that your boyfriend (or anyone, for that matter) has the right to assume or otherwise imply that you WILL starve yourself to fit into a size-two spaghetti-strap mini-dress. What it DOES mean, however, is that in order to be the happy, content, joyful and all-around sunshiny person you want to be, you have to be comfortable in your own skin. This is about self-image. And having a good one. One that is undoubted, undeniable and unshakeable. And when you feel damn good about yourself, it will be really hard for other people not to feel damn good about you, too.

2. Always Dress As If You Have Somewhere Better To Go Later ~ If the previous rule sounded cold and harsh, this one must seem equally as shallow and snobby. But it is rooted in one simple word… R-E-S-P-E-C-T. (Thank you, Ms. Franklin) How you present yourself is a reflection of respect. Respect for yourself in wanting to display your most amazing self; respect for the other person (or people) you will be seeing; respect for those fabulous shoes that spend most of their lives just sitting in your closet. And I, for one, am a huge proponent of the look-good, feel-good, do-good mentality. When you make the effort to look good, you will automatically feel good, and somehow everything you say and do while looking and feeling good will be just great. Doesn’t hurt to store away an interesting story or two, however, about that better place you have to go later to aid your hasty getaway, just in case your current surroundings or company don’t quite measure up to what you had in mind for a particular evening.

3. Always Keep The Jewelry ~ There are times in our lives when something once so wonderful (a romantic relationship, an important friendship, a business partnership) will, for whatever reason(s), cease to be. But even when it’s (painfully/weepinging/disgustingly) over, there is nothing that can take the good times or the great memories away from the experience. Those are the important things to hold onto. There really is no point in dwelling on the rotting leftovers of the sordid past. You will never feel like you’ve lost something by letting the bad feelings go and only remembering the good times. So hold tight to that good stuff. But I must say, go ahead and keep the actual jewelry, too. Everyone deserves a lovely parting gift… or five.

4. Take What You Can Get, Whenever You Can Get It, From Whoever Is Going To Give It To You ~ Invoking this particular rule (especially if done out loud in the proper tone of voice) could make you come off as more than a little bit slutty. Not so. Unless you want it to be – but that’s none of my business. It may also sound like I condone being okay with simply settling. This has nothing to do with settling. Quite the opposite, actually. This rule allows you to AVOID settling for something or someone less than what you dream of, and at the same time, still allows you the spoils (even if they are short-lived) of the here-and-now. Example: If your tire blows out on the freeway, are you really going to shoo away the offers of every guy who wants to play the shining-armor-clad knight to your damsel in distress? NO! You’re going to take what you can get (a hands-free tire change), whenever you can get it (on the side of the freeway at rush hour), from whoever is going to give it to you (the kind and hopefully devastatingly-handsome stranger – who may or may not include his phone number, or the offer to follow you home “just in case” something happens between the highway and your driveway… either of which you will gladly accept based on this rule). This rule also, but not exclusively, applies to compliments, free drinks, better parking spots, extra samples at the make-up counter, and discounts at hotels, especially in Oklahoma during tornado season.

5. It’s Not A Road Trip Until You Make A U-Turn ~ I am not one who particularly enjoys failing. In fact, I’d say I’m much more apt to completely avoid those things in which I do not especially excel. Luckily there are things at which I proverbially suck that can easily be avoided. Things like volleyball, cutting along a straight line, initiating The Talk, or painting my own fingernails. Unfortunately, in this wonderous experience we call life, there are challenges from which I simply cannot escape. Things like participating in The Talk when painfully initiated by another person, speaking in public, or driving in an unfamiliar city where mapquest.com has led you horribly astray. Thankfully, life is not a one-way highway with no off-ramps. And I figure it’s a sign of NOT failing if you recognize the error of your ways and make the decision to remedy the situation. It’s okay – and often times highly advisable – to change your mind in life. And it’s okay to make a U-turn. Especially if, after you’ve cut off three people and a police officer, you smile and wave adorably, and mouth the words, “Sorry, I’m from out-of-town!”

6. Don’t Drive If You Haven’t Eaten ~ Forget the stigma of “Don’t Drink and Drive” – okay, don’t actually forget it, because that really is an important one – but a high blood alcohol content is not the only danger to you, your passengers, and all other drivers on the road. Everyone knows that vision is the first thing to go when you’re dying of starvation. And seeing as how vision is probably close to 99.4% of the driving requirement, this rule is pretty much a no-brainer. So be prepared. And not just when it comes to road trips or shopping sprees or other events that may take you out of your normal routine for food consumption. Being prepared means that you have confidence in your ability to handle any situation that may arise with poise, know-how, and even a little bit of grace. Familiarize yourself with your “outs” (of both physical and emotional situations) and know what factors (more commonly known as “deal-breakers”) may immediately precipitate your needing to use them. Also know your “ins” and be able to employ them appropriately and tastefully. And just remember that a well-timed snack break can keep a normally mature and polite person from becoming a blind, tantrum-throwing, two-year-old with car keys.

7. If He Calls After Wednesday To Make Plans For The Weekend… You’re Busy ~ I can’t take all the credit for this rule. My Uncle Dan is a stickler on this one. And I must say that I have come to realize the special significance of such a rule. It’s simple, really. You. Should. Matter. You should matter SO much that he is practically stalking you to make sure that he is lucky enough to get onto your schedule. A phone call at 10:30 on Thursday night with the monotone and ever-creative, “So, what do you wanna do?” doesn’t really make you feel like you matter very much, now does it? And normally I am very much against any type of game-playing and all that hard-to-get garbage, but in this case, I’m a big fan of gritting your teeth into an audible smile, being sweet and sympathetic, and saying something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, I guess I just figured that you must have an awful lot going on since I didn’t hear from you all week, so I went ahead and made other plans for this weekend.” And the truth of the matter is, your probably DO have plans already… with the guy who called you on Tuesday on his way home from work.

8. Kiss On The First Date* ~ So often we hear “don’t rock the boat” or “play nice with your friends” or “don’t kiss on the first date.” But you know, sometimes a little boat rocking is totally called for, and sometimes your friends just don’t deserve nice playing, and a date without a Kiss is really just an appointment. All day long we have appointments and meetings and obligations to uphold, complete with agendas and goals for the mutual advancement of ideas and plans. And how many of those appointments are painfully boring and lifeless and completely unstimulating? Herein lies the reason that meetings are not called dates – during meetings you are not anticipating The Kiss. (unless, of course, your office happens to have a very lenient policy towards on-the-clock coworker-canoodling.) The beautiful distinction is in knowing there’s the possibility of that long good-bye at the car or the impromptu make-out session on the front porch… or on the living room sofa. It’s the anticipation of something wonderful that changes your entire frame of mind. We’re encouraged to be involved and energetic and “go for the gold” at work. And since you only get one shot at living, I recommend a good healthy dose of “just do it” in all aspects of your life. So in the spirit of all those Nike-commercial-worthy catchphrases… Take a chance… Live in the moment… Life is short… Kiss on the first date.

*Note: This rule in no way mandates a kiss in situations such that a date does not actually require the classification of “first” because there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that there will ever be a second date to justify needing the qualifying adjective. Your friends will not need clarification of which date it was that his supposed compliments about your house and your car actually came out as jealous rampages about how crappy his life is, how much he hates his job, and how “nice” (you know the tone) it must be to be able to just throw your money around and to have all the nice things you have. p.s. Yes, it IS nice, and no, I will NOT make out with you.

9. If You Can’t Be Good, Be Sure You’re The Very Best At Whatever Bad Things Are Going On ~ There is absolutely no sense in me spouting off about being good and maintaining a pristine public image and etiquette and being on your best behavior all the time. Please. So in those instances (and they will pop up occasionally – or frequently, if you happen to be in your early-to-mid-twenties, which, coincidentally, covers the 18-31 age range) when “good” isn’t quite the definition that Sister Mary Margaret at Saint Whoever grade school would give, I say it’s time for a re-defining moment. All of a sudden, “be good” doesn’t mean sit-still-and-quietly-read-until-the-nun-asks-you-a-question. In your re-defined situation, “be good” could quite easily mean clock-the-fastest-time-for-shot-gunning-that-Bud-Light or log-the-highest-number-of-Jell-O-shots-consumed. It is important to a) know that you are good at things, and b) demonstrate to that fact as often and brilliantly as possible. So be good – no, be the BEST – at Beer Pong and Quarters, and come up with the greatest “I Never” questions ever. Be good. I have a feeling you’ll be very good at it.

10. Be Nice ~ These are some of the earliest words of advice we ever hear. When you pulled your little sister’s hair, at least one of your parents warned you to “be nice.” When that brat in pre-K knocked down your tower of blocks and you were just about to bash his face in with a Tonka truck, the teacher (who, like referees in every sport, always sees the second foul/offense/punch) piped in with a stern “be nice.” When the adolescent girl-talk turns a bit smacky (as it is always sure to) that friend who has always been a better person than you interjects a calming “be nice.” And here’s the thing, there will always be people who, for any combination of eight million possible reasons, you don’t particularly enjoy. Oh let’s just face it, you hate their guts. And there are inevitably going to be times in which you and they will be required to exist in (too) close proximity. (note – the odds of these times of unwelcome togetherness increase exponentially during the summer months when weddings and reunion – of the family and high school varieties – seasons are in full and inescapable swing) Now, there is a very real and VERY important distinction between “nice” and “friendly.” I don’t expect you to be friends with everyone, mostly because I REALLY don’t expect ME to be friends with everyone. But that “be nice” idea has worked in my favor many more times than not. The greatest personal compliment to receive in those dire situations would be “I’m so impressed at how you handled yourself with such grace” rather than “Wow, you verbally/really kicked his/her ass out there!” And believe me, it’s far more personally validating to be hated because you’re charming and pleasant and lovely and gave absolutely no reason to be disliked. You come of kind and graceful, and they just look mean and ridiculously spiteful. Which in turn makes you the winner. And isn’t winning nice?!

11. Go Out With Anyone… Once. How often have we heard the words, “well,  you never know…” when someone (usually Mom) is trying to convince you to do something (usually what THEY want to do) about which, for one reason or another, you have some kind of reservation. It might have been trying that new kitchen-concoction – also known as dinner-brought-to-you-by-Dad – or a dress that’s questionable-at-best on the hanger that your girlfriends are just dying for you to try on. Sometimes it’s cowgirl-ing up and deciding to go to that house party with your friends when you really would just rather stay home in sweats and watch the marathon of Real World/Road Rules Challenge re-runs. Trying new things is hard. And meeting new people becomes more challenging when you’re not frequenting the campus bar scene three-to-five nights a week. Quality people are everywhere, but they’re not just going to come knocking on your door – and who would want them to, if you’re vegging out in sweats watching this week’s marathon of Real World/Road Rules Challenge. There’s just really no need to start slamming doors that you haven’t yet even cracked open to see what might be out there. And having an open mind and trying new things is how you found out that Dad makes your all-time favorite meal, and how you ended up with that fabulous dress that always gets you noticed (and complimented!) And maybe, just maybe, there’s someone at that party who might be just the right person to someday stay home with, in sweats, watching marathons of Real World/Road Rules Challenges. Hey, you never know.

12. Know why you’re friends with your friends. There are so many tiers of friendships in your life. You have your best friend, your other best friend, your best friend from home, your best friend in the sorority, your childhood friends, your high school friends, your college friends, your neighbor-friends, your friends from class, your friends from the gym, your party friends, your bar friends, and your friends from work. With so many circles of friends, it’s not difficult to see how one might lose perspective on one or two of them. Some of your friends will be life-ers, but there are others that you will find no longer have a place in your life. And you have to break up. This is not to be confused with simply “growing apart,” though growing apart can in fact lead to a break-up. Friend break-ups are permanent. (at least in my world where once the decision is made, the decision is MADE) They happen because the friendship is neither healthy nor fun, and usually because you have become acutely aware of the fact that either you don’t like being friends with them, or you don’t know why you’re friends at all. Sometimes you just out-grow a friend or a group of friends. It’s important to realize that this is OKAY. You should always know why you are friends with someone, and it’s very important to tell them. So the next time your friend says something so perfectly witty or verbalizes the exact opinion you have of this week’s American Idol performances, be sure to tell them and everyone around you that “this is why we’re friends!”

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5 responses

15 03 2007
Sue Perry

Kristen,
I was right, you are a TEN!! I love your rules and I think you are a brilliant woman. I am thankful I get to know you! You actually inspire me to write, write what you ask?? Who knows, the point is I always wanted to “write a book” haha. But now the simple truth comes back to me if you want to write then you need to write… duh.
Sue

16 03 2008
Paulette Richardson

Great rules! You really should be an author!

10 06 2008
Peter Bhatia

Hey, Kristen … I gave forwarded The Rules to Megan … this is important information for her to have! Great stuff …

1 06 2009
Dean Z

I was the master of rule No. 9. Hence the few extra hours (years) at Moo U. Here’s my rule and two reasons men are better than women (real Men)

Rule 1.
No line dancing. If you can’t at least hold hands while dancing it ain’t worth it.

The Only two reasons men are better than woman.
Reason 1. We don’t have to screw with our hair

Reason 2. It’s easier for us to pee.

Other than that it’s about even in my book

Love, Uncle Dean

1 06 2009
Dean Z

You forgot about Grandma Z’s main two rules.

No wrestling in the house and she won’t feed you if you have a motorcycle.

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