Tag Archives: Legal

Ben Roethlisberger: Just Another Famous Athlete or Abuser?

Needing MORE Attention?

Patience is a virtue or so I have been told. This however has finally bubbled over for me and in the name of Normalcy I must forge ahead. Here at Normal Headquarters a decision has been made to finally discuss the out-of-sorts mole that continues to grow just beyond our reach. It is hideous from what we can tell…out of place…and needs to be addressed. We are not sure whether the mole is of any great consequence, but enough is enough!!

Ben Roethlisberger, of the famed Pittsburgh Steelers, has been accused of sexual misconduct for the second time in the last 12 months. The first woman accused Roethlisberger of raping her at a casino near Lake Tahoe. The most recent accusation states that Big Ben, as he is known to millions of fans, sexually assaulted a college-aged female in a local bar. To be fair it should be noted that Roethlisberger has not been charged or convicted of either accusation.

It is, however, fair at this point to question the motives of all involved parties. Why is a filthy rich athlete hanging out with college girls and at college bars? He just recently signed a contract in excess of $100 million dollars. Has Roethlisberger not heard of Michael Vick or Gilbert Arenas? Vick has already lost millions and Arenas is poised to do the same because of his love of comedy and guns. There is a significant issue here with Roethlisberger that stinks of disrespect for women, his family, and his employer.

Can't You ACT Like a Champion?

Can't You ACT like a Champion?

Which brings me to another curve in the road…the media and their handling of this story. I will be the first to call a timeout when I think erroneous claims are disseminated by the media…with that said, though, I have to wonder if Big Ben is receiving preferential treatment.

I know some of you have thought about it. I didn’t want to in the beginning, but I am finding I can’t shake my wonderment. Is Ben Roethlisberger given the benefit of the doubt because he is White?

Dear NFL...Don't Be STUPID!

I cannot imagine an African-American athlete dealing with a second sexual assault charge in less then a year being treated with such kid gloves. Maybe we have matured and it really isn’t about race. As a White male I hope that we have evolved and that we treat Roethlisberger the same as we would anyone else accused of similar acts. I would like to think that I live outside the city limits of Delusion-ville, but the lack of national conversation tells me that we haven’t changed for the better.

It will be might interesting to see how the NFL responds to the latest detour Ben has taken us all on. I am not one to support making an example out of someone for the sake future dividends, but I am leaning that way right now. Maybe that is because Roethlisberger has failed to grant an interview to the police or maybe I am just burned out from repeated stories of fame and the misuse of power.

Aside from an outsiders perspective…the NFL and the Steelers need to evaluate what is important to them…the almighty dollar and championships or their image and fan base. I would imagine the spinsters at the league offices are working overtime to figure out their next steps. Yes men represent the majority fan base, but there are millions of female fans that are truly rabid for their teams as well. Sending a message of deference to sexual misconduct won’t enhance gate numbers on Sundays.

Men, not just athletes, should be role models. For those of you not incensed by Roethlisberger’s lapse in judgment–raise your standards and support responsible behavior.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Will Watering Your Marriage Bring it Back to Life?

I am sure you never thought we would or could get to Stage 3 in the Divorce Life-Cycle. You must have thought that after the Irritation and Contemplation stages we would never be able to think about resuscitating a relationship that has caused great distress in recent weeks, months, and years.

It takes a lot of work and if you can, honestly, say that you are at this stage then you have put some work in. You have had to deal with the mortality of your marriage, your role, your fears, and the unknown and often maddening wonderment about your spouses thoughts and feelings.

Not an easy voyage, but possibly the very thing you and your marriage needed. A Spring cleaning if you may. But….and this is a big one…if you are like most of us–and gauging from the fact you are reading this I will go out on a limb and say you are human–then you quite possibly side-stepped the first two stages in the name of Uncle Denial and are artificially entering the Irrigation stage thinking that if you ignore the problems they will just go away.

The result? You run the risk of playing house in a world thirsting for reality if growth is at all possible. As a colleague of mine says, “A band-aid is a band-aid is a band-aid…it ain’t gonna fix the deeper problem.”

And that can be a problem if you are any ole’ man or a Normal Male because we have been raised to fixers of problems. Men of all backgrounds have been taught that to have value we need to be able to fix things. Guys, the problem–fixing a marriage takes a lot more than a socket wrench to stop a leak.It is going to take hard work, open communication, sharing in safe environments, and personal ownership of your part.

So why is it so difficult to properly Irrigate your marriage? Why is it so hard to sit down and evaluate without judgment? Because we are all afraid that if we truly examine or autopsy our marriage we will find residue from our family of origin, past relationships, and a mirror that seems to be coming closer and closer to showing you…you.

Who on earth wants to open the proverbial Pandora’s Box? Who wants to think about why they treat their spouse poorly and its connections to other events and people? Who wants to think about how badly they have emotionally hurt the one the professed love to not so long ago? No one does! Nobody with a sensible approach to life wants to think about all of these horrible possibilities. What we want is to think about tomorrow in terms of yesterday. We want to act and react as if the endorphins are skyrocketing towards our spouse in a way that will cure all past ills and propel happiness into the cosmos for eternity. Irrigation can and should be tempered. It should be approached with a feedback loop that demonstrates to your spouse that you think of them when making decisions about the relationship. And, it should be understood by BOTH parties that nourishing your marriage is what you are attempting and planning to do. Too many, desperate, adults commence Irrigation plans without asking or gauging the interest of the other party.

Your marriage arrived at this place for a reason and traveling at the same speed to the same locales in life probably hasn’t been common place so why would fixing it be any different. Patience can be fleeting during lean times and marriage is no different. If you rush the “fixing” of your marriage without having your partner on board will only perpetuate your tangled communication patterns. Sit down. Breathe. Realize that if you are going to read a self-help book together you should both WANT to.

Bringing back your marriage will be the hardest thing you will ever do in this lifetime. You have to prepare yourself for the journey with the knowledge that if you’re a successful Sailor, you will cross the horizon to find a new land and relationship different and more palatable to the present you…not on the hopes and dreams of the past you.

Sometimes the odds are with us and sometimes they are against us, but what we do know is that if we make an honest effort to Irrigate our marriage we can rest our head at night in peace…whether we remain with our spouse or move on to new adventures. Check back tomorrow to continue on the Divorce Life-Cycle.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Boys, Divorce, Dumb Men, Education, Family, Fathers, finances, Girls, Good Men, head of household, Males, Marriage, men, Mothers, Relationships, Sports, Success Stories, Work

The Divorce Life-Cycle Part 2

Well then. Here we are. And, if you have been with me from the first leg of this journey then you know that either you are in a “rough patch” or you are looking for direction with regards to your relationship.

You have entered Stage 2….Contemplation A scary place to be…yes! You are beginning to think about your life in rewind while trying to fast-forward at the same time.

This process is akin to putting your foot on the gas and the break at the same time….result?

You become exhausted with worry and discourse;
You wonder what will be;
You wonder if you can make it;
You worry no one will support you;
You worry your kids will hate you;
You worry about holidays and birthdays and all the little things that WILL be different if you leave;
You wonder who you are and what you have become……

Contemplation is the delicate assessment that one goes through…weighing the checks and balances of love in a very fiscally and condemning world. Both genders can worry and stake claim to the very same ideals and items all the while puffing ourselves up to state our case and “leave” with what is “ours.”

And…as we contemplate our life after divorce or after reconciliation we begin to experience feelings and imagery looking a lot like a set of flashbacks.

Flashbacks from our youth to the present day about previous relationships and the manner with which we handled that conversation can be an eerie trip down memory lane. I remember I broke up with my girlfriend, if you can call it that in Elementary school, because I didn’t like the Roo’s tennis shoes she wore…ridiculous I know. Am I proud of myself? No. Have I broken up in ways and for reasons that are foolish looking back or did I make decisions that helped to light my path to my mate?

We have a memory that suits us well in so many instances that we are able to prevent redundancy and befuddlement. This memory, though, brings to the surface every little nook and cranny that spurned us, excited us, and challenged us.

Exploring our memory for the good times in our marriage when it is going through a cold-snap can be difficult and unforgiving. We can feel like beating ourselves up…questioning our actions and intentions and those of our spouse.

We can find ourselves in a place reminiscent of a kindergarten playground where mine and don’t take on fiery tones for we are staking our claim, our land, our litter box of the world…and we autopsy our marriage. We grade each others contributions, estimate damages, and always come up with an equation that has our best interests finishing first.

Marriage isn’t easy. Contemplating the end of your union even harder. Being honest with yourself about your contributions, successes, and missteps will allow Normal Males and Normal Females to accurately evaluate the role they played to determine whether or not they want to continue with their original commitment. Then and only then can you sit down and think about the contributions, both negative and positive, your spouse has provided the relationship.

Being real with ourselves goes along way in communicating needs, fears, wants, and decisions in a humane and thoughtful manner. If your relationship even has a shot to get to the Irrigation stage, you have to tread with soft gloves as you sift through your memories, past actions and decisions, reasons for break-ups and hook-ups…because not doing so keeps you in an emotionally high gear with your feet firmly planted on the gas and the brake of your marriage.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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The Tuesday Tiptoe-When Divorce Seems Inevitable


The day after. How do you feel? Did you make it through the night? Hopefully you did and can look out on the other side. You might be asking what did I survive or outlast? Well….According to some in the universe, The 25th of January is the Saddest Day of 2010.

Now there could be a number of reasons not the least of which are associated with gray skies, a depressed economy and on and on….right?

Or could it be just a seasonal thing…something that occurs because the euphoria of the holidays is over and we are left with only tax season on the horizon…or could it be something entirely too close to home?

I am not sure what it is or why it is or why we would bring focus each year to something not exactly uplifting, but what I am sure of is that gray skies outside can translate into gloomy nights inside.

As this week steams ahead like a runaway train we are going to explore the Divorce Life-cycle. Gloomy to some…liberating to others. Divorce can be a very lonely and desolate place for the individual and the couple as a whole.

We are going to look at how one assesses where they are at…the decision before them…the internal and external pressures…and the outlook once a decision is made. In short, we are going to breakdown divorce into the following categories:

1. Irritation
2. Contemplation
3. Irrigation

4. Condemnation

5. Reconciliation
6. Emancipation

Why should I be tackling this series? What do I know about it? Well,in short order I am a divorcee and have worked with divorce from all angels and situations. I have seen the impact on the adults and the children and know of many individuals who struggle to answer this question:

“Am I just in a funk or is this state-of-mind permanent?”

And of course we hear of the “7-year-itch” aptly depicting the rash-like feeling we can feel when every move taken or word spoken by our spouse elicits anger, irritation, and debate. So let’s examine this first stage and try to get a grasp on this stage of a relationship entering the E.R.

Stage 1: Irritation

Whether it is the man or woman that becomes increasingly irritated with their spouse one thing becomes clear…as one partner’s irritation increases—the likelihood is that their spouses irritation goes up too! And as we begin to experience our once perfect spouse as not-so-perfect we begin to have conversations with ourselves. Often we do not share our thoughts with our friends, relatives, coworkers, or spouse. What we do is go down a list, in our head, that mimics a security checklist for a school field trip:
1. Where are we going?
2. Why?
3. Did anyone ask if I even wanted to go?
4. How long do I have to stay?
5. What will I need to take with me?
6. What’s for lunch?
7. Who is going?
8. Am I responsible for work I am missing?
9. Who do I HAVE to sit by on the bus?
10. Am I the only one who doesn’t want to go on this trip?

You might think that this list is either limited or exhaustive, but what you cannot do is deny the mental tussle one goes through on a moment-to-moment basis when contemplating the survival rate of their relationship.

Let’s Translate shall we…

1. Where are we going?= What happened to our original plan and why do I feel like this relationship is out of control?

2. Why?= Why have you changed and do you even care about me anymore?

3. Did anyone ask if I even wanted to go?= I feel like you never ask me what I want. I feel like I am trapped doing what everyone else expects a wife/husband to do.

4. How long do I have to stay?= I am not sure that I want to continue feeling this way and I don’t know how to tell you or if this thought is fleeting…either way I want some control over MY life.

5. What will I need to take with me?= I don’t even know what I need to do that will help me feel better if we are going to work this out…and if we decide to end it I really don’t know what I need to do!

6. What’s for lunch?= I don’t feel nourished by this relationship. My tank is empty and I hate feeling and knowing that one of us is going to have to “give back” with only fumes. I hate this vicious cycle of bartering for our needs.

7. Who is going?= Am I the only one that is scared my marriage is falling a part? Do my friends ever go through this?

8. Am I responsible for work I am missing?= Our routines are killing any opportunity to “get back” what we had. Why can’t life wait so that we can recapture our magic of yesteryear?

9. Who do I HAVE to sit by on the bus?= If I am to risk “losing hand” by bringing up my sadness…what conciliatory acts am I going to have to take on?

10. Am I the only one who doesn’t want to go on this trip?
= Does he/she not notice how bad things have gotten? Do they not care?

The result of this long and drawn out conversation is that many are left wondering…“Why should I care anymore?”

And, instead of sharing our fears (speaking to the men out there) we close up shop, build up walls, and act out for hope that she will notice. Normal Males will work hard to share their feelings and concerns sending a message that the relationship is that important to them.

Easier said than done. I know. I struggled mightily to fight routines and speak up when I so desperately wanted answers to my growing frustration and irritation. But, I am human as are you and sometimes men and women demonstrate their fears by acting out in hopes that their spouse will translate the community theater production being put before them on a daily basis.

It hark-ins back to a friend of mine who became so irritated with his job that he wanted to send a message to his superiors, of which he had many, by playing the movie Office Space on repeat in his section of the “cube-farm.” After the movie played 62 times…my friend glided into work one day to find his computer gone…vanished…no more secret “telegrams” to be sent.

Relationships go through bumps and bruises and so many in the media and in mental health want to lie to you and say that, “It’ll be ok…just hang in there.” I am here to tell you a truth…sometimes the Irritation reflects the different paths you each are on and that is Normal.

It does not imply that one person is at fault or malicious. It might simply mean that as you have evolved as individuals your values, goals, dreams, personalities and outlook might have taken a separate and individual path. This country prides itself on “finishing what we started”….”never giving up”….and that one gender has to “go down with the ship.”

These can be destructive messages to both men and women resulting in children and friends who no longer understand or enjoy being around you. As we walk through the Divorce Life-Cycle please be cognizant that you are NOT alone, you ARE Normal, and if too much damage hasn’t been done, you can work it out. Be aware of your thoughts and actions and look beyond the Irritation to understand the cause and source…it might very well be You…I know it was Me.

See you tomorrow when we will look at the progression of the Divorce Life-Cycle and Stage 2: Contemplation

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Who’s Your Daddy? Women and Children Struggle to Understand Men’s Absentee Ballot


Another day…another daddy crawls out of his shadow signifying 6 more weeks of, “I told you all men are shameless pigs!” Yes, former political giant John Edwards has finally come clean or downright filthy…not in the fact that he has fathered an adorable little girl, but that he has done so in a not so Normal or acceptable fashion.

Mr. Edwards has found it in his heart to issue a publicist 101 press release stating that he is the father of 2 year-old Frances Quinn Hunter from his extra-marital affair with Rielle Hunter

What has he done you might ask? Has this changed anything since Edwards political life is already in shambles? Are we even asking the right questions?

Let us peel the onion…knowing that tears may be shed…not for John and his life, but for the result of his infidelity. Does anyone else find it a bit curious that his admittance came from a press release? Why not on television or on YouTube? I find it quite sad that when Quinn grows up she will be able to, at the touch of a button or screen, scroll through the archives finding not public admission and emotion about his defenseless little girl, but rather slick political maneuvering that discounts any connection to her as a real, breathing human being (Bob Woodruff interview August 8, 2008).

I feel for the Edwards family, minus John, Quinn, and even her mother Rielle. It is sad commentary on the American male when men propagating Southern values and family, while his wife and mother of his children battles terminal cancer, are out classed by an American icon if not favorite t.v. father of all-time.

Why you might ask would I even dare compare John Edwards to Homer Simpson? Well, let’s see…Mr. Simpson, if I may, has spent north of 450 episodes showing us how faulty his faculties might be, but one thing he hasn’t done is ever send the notion that he isn’t around, a part of his family, and/or interacting with them.

John Edwards and the countless, unaccounted for fathers littered outside the American family send mixed and often sad, lifeless signals that they are even breathing. We have a crisis on our hands of immeasurable proportions, though we have tried valiantly, and we have not yet figured out the solution to this campaign to get men to care about acknowledging and participating in the lives of their offspring.

According the the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 85% of children with behavioral issues come from fatherless homes, 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes, 85% of all youth in prison come from fatherless homes, and 75% of all youth in chemical abuse centers come from these homes as well.

Startling to say the least and, to this point, we have little to no direction for even a sliver of hope. It has me thinking about some work I did last year for a book on counseling fathers. My contribution, chapter, focused on new fathers and what we found is that so many of them feel left out from the pregnancy and birthing processes by all involved and interested parties (i.e. doctors, classes, hospitals, family) that the detachment begins very early in the budding of a new life.

This does not imply that there are good men just waiting and wondering if someone will call their “number.” It simply means that there is growing research that depicts a different story then the one we all have known and been told by the media to this point.

Because whether or not it is a “John Edwards” or a young man with no education or connection to society, men of all backgrounds are finding themselves as observers when they should feel and act like participants.

My hope for the “Quinn Hunters” of the world is that they come in contact with good people and Normal Males who are proud to be in their presence and communicative on multiple levels.

John Edwards might think that he can right a wrong through a press release, but what he has done is put generations at risk within his own family tree. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and it only takes one splintered branch to deaden a tree over time.

More and more women and their girls are having to battle centuries of folklore and fact about the men they are “supposed” to love in an effort to love the ones they want as partners. Mrs. Edwards, Rielle and Quinn Hunter my thoughts and best wishes are for you all as you share sadness even if on opposite sides of the coin.

Normal Males please speak out against those shirking their parental responsibilities, communicate your experiences with young and new fathers to normalize their emotions and experiences, and look out for the boys in our communities who treat girls and women as commodities to be bought and sold through a press release or text message.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD
The Normal Male

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Normal Males are Marrying Up?

Well…we knew it was coming! Like the waft of garlic at an Italian eatery coating us with cultural adornment and fantastic memories…we have seen the financial and educational shift and its’ impact on marriage…leaving men wondering about the aftertaste and just when will it go away and if not…then when and what do we do about our change in position at home and at work?

Stories abound in the NYT and morning talk shows with research just released from the Pew Research Center that reveal a startling analysis of census data for men and women aged 30 to 44 years old.

The report finds that this generation of women out number their gender counterpart in college attendance and degrees and where their earnings have been increasing since 1970. How could we have not seen this coming? We all watch Jake Pavelka, The Bachelor, right? Well, if he is actually going to propose at the end of ABC’s commercial scam then that lucky lady will have to be “ok” with Jake only being a pilot…and we have all seen the stories of how little money pilots actually make.

The research discusses the challenge for African-American women who are struggling to find adequate mates who hold degrees and stable jobs and who will emotionally support a change in breadwinner status. That will be a component for another day and another post. One that remains of monumental concern for the long term development of African-American boys…but let’s stick with the “simple” implications for the genders shall we…

Ok, let’s “Do It” as Nike might say even though they might want a revision to that tag line given Tiger Wood’s recent activity and rumored therapeutic interventions.

Are we talking about women or are we talking about men and their underlying fears and fragile egos? Are we talking about saving the next generation of young women from same-aged males who are feeling the effects of a splintered and cracked windshield to the world?


These findings are another example of the absolute need for Change, if I may borrow from President Obama, within the Normal Male community. Not only are we, as a country, losing steam in the “Race-to-the-Top” for educational prowess in the world, but males are the ones dragging us down.

Women and girls have, frankly, been kicking our tails in every descriptive statistic available while we have been on the couch relieving our youth or at least hoping to as if we could do a “Brett Favre” and show the world who is still the “best.”

Perception can in-fact be reality and Normal Males need to respond to such findings and support the women in our lives that are providing and modeling responsible commitment levels to family and work.

Redefining Normal Males is imperative for our economy, our communities, our families, and our own personal development and growth. If we, as men, continue to sit on the sidelines waiting to be called into an intramural basketball game for rickety ole’ former “has-beens” we will end up just like they do after a sad Saturday game at the Y…sweating, discombobulated, and wondering where the years went.

We cannot afford apathy of any degree…we need to understand the world we currently inhabit…not the one we came from…and understand the demands and requirements of this world so that we can be better to ourselves and those in our lives. If we refuse and treat these findings as a threat, then we run the risk of sacrificing another generation of boys who are starving for direction, support, and social-emotional development.

Luckily Darwin has long sense passed, otherwise our entire gender might succumb to Natural Selection and be booted off this rock for failing to provide anything of substance to our species. Maybe we need a natural preserve where we can be studied…where we are provided food, water, and shelter for the scientists to better understand our natural patterns of behavior and communication. Shoot, 60 Minutes did a story recently where researchers are doing that very thing for Forrest Elephants in an effort to develop an Elephant dictionary.

With today’s news let us celebrate the unbelievable accomplishments of the females in our lives, minus the Heidi Montag’s of the world, and look for solutions and support measures that speak the truth to all generations of males and work towards a positive evolution of Normal Males…one that we can all be proud of.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD
The Normal Male

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Do Normal Males Really Desire the Heidi Montag’s of the World?


If you haven’t read about the “Hills” star Heidi Montag than you have missed a golden opportunity to see how young girls and women are impacted by media and men (click here to watch GMA interview with Heidi). Ms Montag is showing off her new look after completing 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day.

As I watched the story this morning on the news I was struck by my flat affect…does this really surprise me? Should I be shocked that this reality “star” turned singer had so many procedures? And…my answer came only when I heard that she is a mere 23 years-old.

To think that a 23 year-old young woman who states that she is promoting inner beauty stinks of arrogance and ignorance for the role she plays in the very people who will probably buy her new album. “Superficial” is the name of her new album and titled quite appropriately if you ask a Normal Males opinion.

My hope is that young girls and women call out Heidi Montag for her approach to beauty and ridiculous statements that…”tripple D’s aren’t big enough”…and support those in the spotlight that provide healthy examples. Actress Emmy Rossum did just that blasting Heidi for her poor example during a time of global heartache and need.

The question to ponder is this…What role do men play in young women’s approach and possible addiction to perfecting their outward appearance? Is this a matter of “natural selection”…that we males will only select females based on perfected body features for marriage and procreation?

Normal Males know, even if they don’t want to admit it to their buddies during football and beer, that though they may desire or dream about “fake” women for short-term sexual prowess…they all know that long term love and companionship are nearly impossible with someone so consumed by themselves. Let’s think practically…if a man or woman is so focused on the perfection of their bodies what time do they have to share with you.

Men play a significant role in the responding to the “Heidi’s” of the world…we need to let all females know that we fear being accepted, looking “buff” enough, tall enough, and we sure won’t survive being with a woman who perpetuates that fear of never falling “below” the line of perfection.

On the Bachelor last night, Jake Pavelka made two decisions that could make Normal Males proud. Faced with a majority of female contestants that appear to have gone “under-the-knife”, Jake sent two packing because of their in-authenticity. .

Young girls and women hear this…(trumpets bellowing in the background)…Normal Males want to find someone to love, to be loved by, to share with, to feel safe when scared, someone who is comfortable nurturing our fragile ego (See Jake last night ask for that of Vienna after bungee jump), someone who understands being lazy on a Saturday, and one who challenges us.

None of the above hopes require looks that resemble packaging and plastic…they require comfort in ones’ skin. We, Normal Males, will work hard to support you and hope that adult women will support Normal Females as well.

Looking perfect only masks the imperfections on the inside. We’ll work hard on our end to treat you better and communicate those things we love and would never trade for physical alterations.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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