(OPRAH.com) -- "I love you," says the voice on the phone. We were just about to hang up. "Love you, too," I chirp back without missing a beat.
Now, had this declaration come from a sweetheart, a parent, a friend's 4-year-old, I'd be suffused with the milk of human kindness for a couple of seconds before returning to the stack of work on my desk.
But this "I love you" came from a publicist in Los Angeles who wanted me to check out her client's new sitcom.
I'd be hard-pressed to tell you the capital of North Dakota, the chief export of Uruguay, the square root of anything. I can't explain football, Congress, or the film career of Adam Sandler. But there is one thing I know with crystal clarity: This L.A. publicist doesn't love me any more than I love her.
It's a Barnum & Bailey world, just as phony as it can be, and there was a time when I embraced every artificially sweetened, fake-fur-covered inch of it. I've engaged in that "you show me yours and I'll show you mine" exchange of faux familiarity that passes for communication. I've played fast and loose with my inner thoughts. I've gone looking for intimacy in all the wrong places. Enough is enough.
I don't mean to suggest that we should line the borders of our personal space with razor wire, I just want my podiatrist to quit hugging me hello. Granted, if my podiatrist were Jude Law this piece would be about the importance of pedicures, but he's not and I don't think it's too much to ask that touching be confined to below the ankles.
Had my boundaries been crossed by a single podiatrist, I could chalk it up to the price of fallen arches, but when a stranger waiting in line for cinnamon raisin bagels and designer cream cheese casually divulges that her husband thinks foreplay is a brand of yogurt, it's time to establish a few golden rules for a tarnished age.
1. My rent is my business. In fact, unless you're my mother...no, strike that -- especially if you're my mother, the question "What did you pay for that?" has to go.
2. I don't need regular updates on little Dakota's potty training. I wish the kid well. When he finally masters the concept, I'll send him a check for $20 and a pair of Batman underpants -- but it doesn't need to be part of your outgoing message. Even toddlers are entitled to maintain a touch of mystery.
3. Let's get this kissing thing straight once and for all. The only time it's acceptable to kiss me by way of introduction is if the introduction goes as follows: "Denzel Washington, meet Lisa Kogan." Note: This rule does not apply to George Clooney and could potentially be waived for Josh Hartnett.
4. I don't wish to mark the one-week anniversary of your dachshund's hysterectomy. If Sparky needs her dressing changed twice a day, let that be your special secret.
5. Despite what they told us in junior high, I realize that getting pregnant isn't always easy and I sympathize more than you know. But there's an old saying, Lazy sperm does not cocktail-party chatter make. All right, so it's not an old saying -- but I for one still plan to needlepoint it onto a pillow. Sit down with a close friend, a glass of merlot, a box of Kleenex, and be sad. Blurt it out to the guy serving crab puffs and you'll hate yourself in the morning.
6. And speaking of waiters -- attention, restaurant personnel: Quit calling me Honey. I'm not your honey, I'm just a girl in need of a chicken salad on whole wheat toast and a side of fries.
7. I'd be willing to walk through fire for the man I love, but I am not willing to share a toothbrush. There will always be an extra in my medicine chest.
8. Stay out of my medicine chest.
9. You might think you know me well enough to pop by for an unannounced visit. But I need ten minutes to stuff everything I own into a closet and change from my pure-unadulterated- slob clothes into my "Can you believe how fabulous I look even when I'm just lying around?" clothes. Call first.
10. Love is a many splendored thing -- don't let's cheapen it. The proper response to a publicist professing love is "Fabulous...because it looks as if I may need a kidney transplant. Why don't we get you tissue-typed."
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