Dear Faux

Clemson & Dating; Bar-Ceiling Fusion & Blissful Inertia

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that an advice column would be coming soon, so here it is, the first “Dear Faux” of the Mo’ Faux era.

We’ll do advice columns once in a while, depending on the volume and intensity of your problems. Send them to me at

Dear Faux,

As a long time Clemson fan, I have become used to winning, and I’m so proud of what the program has accomplished. But this year’s team has me feeling like I used to years ago, when an 8-win season was not a guarantee and there was plenty of heartbreak. But there was also excitement. Am I wrong for being glad that, so far, the excitement is back in the regular season?

Conflicted in Carolina

Dear Conflicted,

It’s true, your 2021 Clemson Tigers have fallen off the pedestal of the super elite, and I have to confess that the rest of us are enjoying it a little bit. It’s nice to have the Tigers slumming it down here with the common folk for a change.

And you’re right, this season will be more exciting for you, because you’ve been released from the grips of Bar-Ceiling Fusion. I’ll explain.

Before every college football season, each school’s fan base silently examines its team’s roster and schedule and sets two things:

  • THE BAR: The minimum number of wins that will be acceptable for the season

  • THE CEILING: The maximum achievement that can be expected under the season’s best-case scenario

The Bar reflects the fan base’s expectations; the Ceiling contains its dreams.

The Ceiling is important, but practically speaking the Bar is everything. If a team does not reach its Bar there will be consequences (message boards will be angry, promises will be made, the coach’s seat may get warm).

An average team might have a 6-win Bar and a good bowl game as its Ceiling. An excellent team will have a good bowl game as its Bar and making the playoff as its Ceiling. In almost all cases, there will be a gap between a team’s Bar and its Ceiling. It’s just math.

Occasionally, however, a team’s outstanding talent and wild expectations will elevate its Bar so high that it actually melds into its Ceiling. This affliction is known as “Bar-Ceiling Fusion,” and the only known cure is winning.

For teams suffering from Bar-Ceiling Fusion, anything less than playing in the national championship game will be a disappointment, and winning the title will be the preferred result. The Bar and the Ceiling conspire to require the team to land a spot in that final game; its season will essentially begin and end on championship night.

Bar-Ceiling Fusion is the domain of the super elite and it’s not a recipe for fun. For these teams, Saturdays are simply about avoiding disastrous losses that can instantly vaporize Bars and Ceilings in one spectacular explosion. Wins are important not because they are victories, but because they aren’t losses.

Conflicted, the good news for you is that Clemson is no longer suffering from Bar-Ceiling Fusion. Don’t worry, your Ceiling hasn’t changed – a national championship is still your goal. But your Bar has dropped a couple notches. I mean, it’s only September, but your team is ranked #9 in the AP poll, which is really good but not an ideal position in a sport with a four-team Playoff.

Enjoy that gap between your Bar and your Ceiling – it allows you the chance to overachieve again. Let Alabama suffer its Saturdays of joyless survival alone for a change.

Welcome back, Conflicted. You may not like it at first but it’s more fun down here.

Dear Faux, 

There’s a girl at work that, at times, seems into me. I’m definitely into her. I want to ask her out, but I've been too intimidated. How do I build up the courage?

Adam J.

Dear Adam,

Ah, young love! The thrill of the chase, the sweet discomfort of the unknown. What a great time to be alive.

Just kidding, I know you’re in hell.

When you start falling for someone, the shoe always feels like it’s about to drop and every sliver of data seems like a signal. What does “sure, fine” mean in her texts? Why did she come to your party but bring five people? Who is that dude, is that her brother? Some days you think you have a shot, other days you think it’s definitely over.

As painful as this stage can be, it beats getting rejected. So sometimes we avoid forcing the issue for a while. I mean, if you ask her out, she might say no, and then this whole thing will be over, right? So if you don’t make a move you can continue to believe this girl might like you rather than confirming she doesn’t. Welcome to Blissful Inertia.

Blissful Inertia is the root of procrastination. If you don’t go to the doctor, your imaginary clean bill of health remains intact. If you put off checking your bank account balance, you might have enough money for everything. If you don’t finish your painting, you don’t have to acknowledge it’s not perfect.

Blissful Inertia encourages us to delay taking action until tomorrow, or maybe the next day or the day after that, so that all of life’s happy outcomes can remain theoretically possible.

This is bullshit, of course. Blissful Inertia doesn’t want us to be happy, it wants to be paralyzed. It wants to trick us into thinking that risks must be avoided because they might cause pain.

We must avoid Blissful Inertia at all costs, because it wants us to accomplish nothing. Sometimes the painting doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be finished.

Adam, as goofy as this sounds, your subconscious mind may have decided that if you never ask this girl out, then dating her can remain possible forever.

But here’s the thing. The answer to your question already exists; she either likes you or she doesn’t. You just don’t have that information yet. Asking her out will be like checking the score of a game that’s already happened — you’re not going to change the outcome, you’re just going to learn it.

This whole exercise will require just a little planning and 60 seconds of guts and vulnerability, and then it will be over. Adam, we haven’t known each other very long but I’m confident you already have all the courage you need to make this happen.

Once you’ve asked her, you’ll either have your date or you’ll move on to other opportunities. The truth will set you free. (By the way, pining after a girl at work who’s not interested in you is not only a total waste of time, it’s not a great look — don’t become known as The Creepy Guy Who’s Always Staring at That Girl in Marketing.)

I want you to break from the shackles of Blissful Inertia and go find out what’s up with this girl. Be the charming, confident version of Adam that comes with knowing that no matter what she says, you’ll be better off having heard it.