Old Friends Found in Funny Ways

30 December 2009

Monica is the sixth child of Salvatore and Annalisa.

It is worth noting, just because it is, that a fifteen year old Salvatore lied about his age to get into the US Army and fought in the European theatre in World War II.  Upon getting out of the Army, he used the G.I. Bill to attend college and earn a PhD from Stanford.  He is an unmitigated intellectual badass with courage to spare and a drawer full of medals to prove it.

Monica seemed to have the wisdom, charm, and wit of her siblings running down hill to her.  She was one of that exceptionally rare breed of human – so kind, so interesting, so everything, that if you didn’t like Monica, it was probably your fault.  And for some reason, during her last year of grad school she chose to date me.

I was still pretty young too – fresh out of grad school and just starting to make a decent living. We were mostly up through the fall, briefly down in the winter, and the strangest of peaks and valleys that spring.  In retrospect, I am fairly sure that our inconsistent behavior, despite steady feelings, was primarily a product of two people adjusting too the new reality of adulthood.  I did have the pleasure of meeting her old a man just before Christmas and again at her graduation that spring.

Monica was stuck in New York for job interviews when she called and asked me to entertain her father until she could get back.  It happened to be the night of the inner office holiday party of the corporate titan for which I was consulting.  The party was held at one of the swanky pool hall/bar/lounge that became really popular in the mid 90s.  Being the pool snob that I was (fine, still am too) I had my sticks with me for the party and consequently when I walked in the hotel bar to meet Salvatore for the first time.

We had planned to grab a drink at the hotel and wait for Monica for a late dinner but as soon as he saw my cue case, Sal asked “someplace for us to get a game around here?”

I’ve mentioned my pool game before, and I’ve mentioned that I’m a pretty decent shot, but that doesn’t provide full context.  Standard pool ratings run from 2 to 7.  You’re average person playing in a bar that has a couple of coin operated tables is between a 2 and a 3.  The average person in my pool league is just better than a 4.  Back then, I ranged between a five and a six depending on how much I practiced.

A Short cab ride later we’re walking into my usual pool hall and headed for a corner table.  I was determined that I was not going be that guy – it’s bad enough that he knows I’m shtupping his daughter, does he really need to be a worse pool player too – but to make every game I lost look good.

In an odd way, I was playing incredibly well to just miss shots and have it appear that I really meant to hit them.  We played about a dozen games: I won three, Sal won three, and I gave him the other six.

Our conversation flowed easily and there was more of it than most games between serious competitors.  We really liked each other and, drank the same single malt.

By the time Monica arrived, Sal and I were full-on friends and I kept my losing percentage the same.  I was really proud of myself for losing so well.  When Monica went to the wash closest, Sal said to me “You know, Refugee, your games pretty good you should just practice some more.”

That burned a bit, but I was still in control.  A game later when Sal chortled at one of my misses and laughed “Poor Refugee, any time you get near the eight ball, you keep choking,” that was a bridge too far.

I didn’t quite run the next rack, but I wasn’t too far from it.

Sal just whispered in my ear “It’s about time you stopped laying down” and winked at me.

In return, I gave him my favorite line from the best pool movie ever.  “Just give me your best game, Fat Man, just give me your best.”

He laughed, and we continued playing until well after the place closed.

We played about even, if any one’s curious.

Salvatore died last week.  He leaves behind an amazing wife, six children, more grandchildren than I can count, and a really big fan on the other side of the country.


And the R-Cubies Go To…

29 December 2009

Shameless Solipsism and a Couple of Wet Kisses have arrived in the form of the first annual (probably never do this again, but whatever) Restaurant Refugee Rewards or R-Cubes for short.  They are a collection of some of the posts of the last twelve months that had particular meaning to me, or got me in trouble, or simply had subjects that lent themselves to making another joke.  There are also a few other people’s work receiving awards today – though not nearly as many people as should get them so there maybe another installment of this tomorrow.

And the R-Cubies go to…

The Carrie Prejean Award for Pretty but Vapid Restaurants goes to Bar Dupont.

The What Would Happen If Dr. Ruth Looked Like Ginger Award for Sexpert Advice in the blogosphere goes to City Girl Blogs.

The Hallmark Award for Best Invention of a Holiday goes to National Crush Day

The Carl Lewis Sings the National Anthem Award for Shoulda Stuck to What you Know goes to All of my Attempts to Write Memes – Except this one which I thought was really good.

The James Lipton Award for Seemingly Simple but Terrifically Textured Questions goes to Megabrooke of Skrinkering Hearts who asked me “How Much is Too Much” in that interview meme that was going around at the beginning of the year.

The Infield Fly Rule Award for things you Should Know but Maybe Didn’t goes to Advice for Black Tie Galas and Capitol Hill Style’s Ball Tips and Tricks for Ladies that inspired it.

The Cowbell Award for Things I Need More of goes to Jimmy & Sophia.

The Urban Dictionary Award for Teaching me my Favorite New Phrase, Skin-Hungry, goes to I’m Gonna Break Your Heart.

The Oscar Wilde Award for Booze as Creative Lubricant goes to My Weekend as Three Rounds of Jeopardy.

The Max Roach Award for Consistently Leaving Comments Better than the Post that Inspired Them goes to my friend Brad.

The Joe Isuzu Award for Forcing Me to Be Creative with Truth goes to the Unnamed Woman Who Inspired This Post.

The Sarah Silverman Award for my Favorite New Funny and Irreverent Blogger goes to –The Fooler Initiative–.

The Don Imus Award for Unintentionally Causing Controversy goes to The Open Letter to a Few Women and the Subsequent Follow-Up.

The Snuggie Award for Ideas that Seemed Fun Conceptually but in Reality Not So Much… goes to Blog Reader Bingo.

The If Dr. Phil Wasn’t Such a Tool Award for Good Advice Given goes to A Guide to Fighting Fairly.

The Jennifer Tilly Award for Fiction Inspired by both Women and Poker goes to Playing Poker with an Old Foe.

The Donald & Ivanka Trump Award for Being Married to Each Other and Not Inflicting Themselves on Anyone Else goes to Sam & Toni.


Positive Vibes Project – A Guest Post

28 December 2009

I first read about the Positive Vibes Campaign over at Coming Home – by the by, Positive Vibes Campaign is my made-up name for this project.  She loaned her blog to a friend who could use some positive energy/prayer/good thoughts.  I thought I would lend a virtual hand.

I’ll be back with some navel-gazing, year-in-review type stuff tomorrow, but for now, the floor belongs to Brandy.

My name is brandy. And I have a blog.

And a plea.

I use my blog to showcase the crazy I meet everyday, share the stories of the kids I teach and document my love for tequila, dairy products and the abdominal muscles of Ryan Reynolds. Rarely do I talk about personal issues on my blog- as personal as the dude that I adore (who I actually met through my blog- single ladies, let that be a very good reason to blog, the possibility of meeting someone as wonderful as my man), but I need your help. And it involves my dude.

He’s a guy who made math comics for my class, so they would love learning about addition. He’s the kinda guy who sends my friends gift cards when they are having hard times, who remembers every story I ever told him, who was the first person I celebrated with when I got a teaching job. He’s the guy who sent flowers to me at school- dozens of my favourite pink roses just because he loves me. He’s a guy who has spent a year patiently explaining (and re-explaining) everything there is to know about football during the important games when silence is preferred. He’s made me word puzzles and comics and stayed up late playing Scrabble with me (even though I beat him almost every time). He’s listened to me cry about school and family and jobs. He is everything I never knew I needed and everything I always knew I wanted.

The holidays have hit us hard. He’s recently been told he may have something called multiple myeloma- an incurable cancer, that gives a person an average of five years of continued life. Though this news has came as a shock, he continues to be exactly who has always been- spending his time worrying about me, rather than worrying about himself. He’s the most selfless individual I know- (he stayed late on Christmas Eve to work, so his co-workers could leave early) and a post like this would never be something that he would promote or encourage but when I’m overwhelmed and feeling helpless, the blogging community has always given me tremendous support and comfort, two things I desperately need at this time.

As I write this, the future is uncertain and we aren’t sure what’s happening. He’ll need to see an oncologist soon, to verify what’s going on in his body. My hope is that everyone who reads this think positive thoughts and if you are a person who prays, could you add him to your list? (You can refer to him as ‘brandy’s hot awesome dude’). If you don’t pray, please keep him in your heart.This cancer is only a possibility and I believe that the prayers and positive thoughts of people can make sure it never becomes a reality.

I want to give a big thank you to the blog owner who scraped their original blog plans and graciously put this up. My goal is to get as many people as possible to see and read this post. If you are reading this and want to help, copy and paste my plea into your blog or send a link through twitter, so more people can keep him in their thoughts. I would be so very grateful (even more grateful than I am to my friend who first showed me the picture of Ryan Reynolds on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. If you haven’t seen it, google it. You. Are. Welcome).

I realize this all sounds dramatic, a Lifetime movie in the making- but this is life. Right now. And I’m throwing away any hint of ego and am humbly asking for you to pray or think kind thoughts. If you are able to pass this on, thank you and if you know anything regarding MM- please email me (my email is on my blog). This isn’t a call for sympathy or a plea for pity. It’s just one girl hoping you can think positive thoughts for the person she adores. If my current heartache provides you with anything, let it be with the reminder that life is short, love is unbending and no one knows what could happen next. Maybe it is silly, but I really do believe that positive thoughts can make a huge difference. Thank you for reading this and if you haven’t already? Please tell someone you love them today.

I did.


Worst Christmas Gift Ever

24 December 2009

My blog reader had grown like a woman who hadn’t shaved her legs in two weeks.  With the holidays providing me with a mostly free morning, I was determined to make a dent in it when I came across this week old post from my virtual friend who writes the Skrinkering Hearts blog.  It’s a delightful Christmas themed meme which asked, amog other questions, “What was your worst Christmas gift ever?”  What follows is my answer.

My first relationship that lasted more than six months began during an internship at a large pharmaceutical company.  I was in the marketing department and Trina Freeman was interning in the research arm of the organization.  As is typical with big organizations, Anonymous Big Pharma Co. hosted many social events for their interns, a blatant attempt to lull the young minds into believing that working there will be all sunshine and puppies kind of fun.  Trina and I met at one of those cocktail receptions.

I wasn’t even a little bit cool.  As soon as I laid eyes on her, I double timed it across the room to introduce myself.  Our courtship was quick, and our relationship intense, like summer loves are supposed to be, but we tried to make it last when we returned to our respective graduate programs.  That 900 miles separated us was inconvenient but our effort and affections remained strong.  We talked on the phone every day, wrote letters frequently, and saw each other once a month.

Christmas eve we had just finished dinner at a charming restaurant in the little Italy section of her city and were walking back to her place.  Unable to contain her excitement, Trina said “You’re gonna luv your gifts” with a Cherry Hill, NJ accent that I still found endearing.   When we got back to her place, she opened my gift to her first – a sapphire and diamond tennis bracelet.  She gave me two boxes, one jewelry sized, and the other about the size of a book.

“Which should I open first” I asked.  By way of answer she pointed excitedly to the book sized box.  For reasons still unknown to this paper ripper, I carefully undid the wrapping at the tape joints and opened the box.  It was Calvin Klein’s Obsession Fluid Body Talc.  I try to be gracious when receiving any gift but my look of confusion was easily read.

“You don’t like it” Trina asked with more than a hint of disappointment.

“I’m sorry; it’s not that I don’t like it” I said while leaning over to kiss her.  “I just don’t quite understand it” I continued.

“Well you already wear Obsession, so I figured that the accessory would be something really nice to use after a shower.”

“Trina, I don’t wear cologne.”

A look descended on both of our faces and all of the air left the room as we mutually realized the implication of her error.

I never found out what was in the other box.


Post Requiem on the Only Blizzard of the Oughts

23 December 2009

During a recent bar conversation, a few friends remarked on the laudible snow removal efforts in DC.  While I would agree that the DC government did a nice job, in the big picture of clearing streets, I am not willing to hold the bar quite so low.

Since the snow stopped falling on Saturday night, I have traveled by foot, Metro Bus, Metrorail, and Cab through the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, Brightwood, Petworth, Cleveland Park, Adams Morgan, Woodley Park, Dupont Circle, Farragut, Midtown, Georgetown, Penn Quarter, and maybe a few more.  Sidewalks are still hazardous to an athletic adult male fully equipped with snow boots because of large swaths of unshoveled walks with compacted snow/ice.  They are extremely arduous for women with baby strollers, and they’re impassible to anyone in a wheelchair.

I get resource allocation theory.  I understand that we needed to focus on the largest and most heavily traveled streets first, and then work down towards smaller streets.  I further understand that sidewalk clearing is largely the responsibility of landowners whose property abuts said sidewalk but what about the intersections?  What about the accessible ramps at intersections that are covered by snow-banks that the road crews had to build? What about the sidewalks adjacent to public parks?

This impacts pubic safety, the local economy, civic morale, and very well might be a giant civil rights law suit because of violations to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I am a native Washingtonian, thus I understand that DC Government doesn’t handle snow as well as some localities because we don’t get it as much.  It would be an illogical and grotesquely wasteful use of funds to acquire equivalent resources as a city like Chicago when snow’s like this only occur once a decade or so.

The sidewalk issues are more about human resources, however. This work requires people with shovels, and snow blowers, and salt/sand dispensers.

What’s the unemployment rate in the District?

********

When I was a much younger Washingtonian, snow days were a source of elation not just because of the promise of a day without school but at least in equal measure, they provided the opportunity to make some quick cash clearing sidewalks for people who were unable, unwilling, or simply preferred not to do it themselves.

As a neighbor who is a few years my junior and I cleared our own sidewalks and those of three other neighbors who are many years our senior, I kept waiting for those tweens and teens to arrive with shovels and an entrepreneurial spirit.  They never came.  Four hours spent on walkways and freeing cars from snow banks and we didn’t see a single one.

I am now – officially – a curmudgeon as I have made more than the statutorily allowed references to things that happened “in my day.”

********

In case you haven’t seen it, the Washington Post has a terrific op-ed piece by the “guy who wound up being detained by police” in the Great Snowball Fight of 09.


Woulda Twittered Tuesday Volume III

22 December 2009

As you most of you all know, I steadfastly refuse to Twitter (though, I will confess to having registered the name of this blog and my real name just in case either suddenly become famous.)  As I have done in the past, the following 140 character or less thoughts, questions, statements of philosophy, etc. crossed my mind in the last week or so.

I just won a beer for my stirring and complete a’capella rendition of Slick Rick’s hip-hop classic LaDiDaDi – beat that bitches.

ME: You’re out of half-n-half you want Bailey’s in coffee instead? Old Friend: how long you known me? It’s 9am of course I want the Bailey’s

I’m going to see It’s Complicated on opening weekend because Hollywood needs to learn that women can be sexy beyond age 30.  Who’s in?

I don’t understand the people who drive in bad snow except in case of emergency: life or limb, aid of a friend, out of beer, etc.

My new Netbook is named Ada, after the woman who kept a very irritated me from walking out of Best Buy after being ignored for 30 minutes.

I spent 30hours planning 6 courses.  Ironically, the amuse bouche that I made up 20 minutes before service was the star of the night.

Regarding my last, if you ask really nicely, I just might share the recipe for Guacamole Mousse with Bacon Essence.

Regarding my last, before any of you ask, yes, I do make lots of things without bacon, but with some flavors, why would I bother?

Yes, it’s December, and we can attire ourselves lazily when many layers are involved but come on ladies, this is remedial fashion advice.

When the aforementioned tights are worn with Ugg style boots (really wish that fad would go away and die,) it is particularly unflattering.


Dearest Santa – My Open List

20 December 2009

Dearest Santa,

I begin by explaining my belief in you – it has never wavered.  Sure, there was that one time in fourth grade when I may have pretended to be a non-believer, but that was just a front.  I only let people conclude such heinous things because snotty-nosed Johnny, who I am certain received lumps of coal that year and many that followed, was leading a chorus in which he and his evil cronies accused all believers of being “big fat little sissy babies.” Setting aside his horrific and illogical sentence structure, I assure you, Santa, that I only denied you once and only because even then I deemed arguing with the ill equipped to be a fool’s errand.

Like many bloggers this season, I am making my requests electronically because snail mail to the North Pole would burn hella fossil fuels, and publically because… well because I had to write something.  I am going to skip the obviously impossible requests (world peace, and end to suffering, a return to reason in political discourse, good service at CVS, etc.) because so many folks more worthy than I have made those requests and they seem not to be within your purview.  I will also forego the trappings of materiality (though if I were to find a 1961 Zenith Constellation Chronometer under my pretend tree, I wouldn’t be even a little upset,) because if I have learned nothing these past few years, I have learned that I have everything I really need.

With those caveats and qualifiers, my dear Santa, I give you my Christmas Wish list for 2009:

  1. I would like more uncomplicated relationships, or at least fewer relationships that offer conspicuous complexity.
  2. I would love it if you packaged some emotional availability and put that in my stocking.
  3. That ego deflation valve for my head would make a lovely bauble.  If you accompanied it with some supplemental humility packs it would really pop.
  4. A self-righteous-o-meter complete with the internal warning whistle that sounds before I get on Tilt would be splendid.
  5. While I appreciate all of the virtual friendships you’ve given me in the last year, I would love it if you made a few more of them more tangible.
  6. Santa, I love the delete-all-history function on that phone you gave me last year.  I am wondering if I could have the corresponding functionality for my brain too.
  7. I know that I have asked for a bunch of relationship stuff, but if you’d indulge me one more, I really wouldn’t mind if you helped me redevelop my relationship with Her.  No not that woman, Santa (she’s the reason I asked for number 6;) I’m referencing God, who I am convinced is a woman until I hear definitively contrary information.
  8. More cowbell
  9. A third ear – something stealthy, who wants to be that guy with an extra ear on his forehead – so I can listen a little bit more.

Well, Santa, that’s my list for this year.  I know that most of the things I have listed are within my control.  I suppose that is an implied acknowledgement that you, Santa, live in the heart of every boy and girl, no matter how old we get.

Sincerely, gratefully, yours,

Restaurant Refugee


Evolving Backwards

17 December 2009

I’ve read Holla Back DC for several months now – I may not always agree with their pronouncements but I am endlessly fascinated and disheartened by the uncivilized behavior of my brethren with non-matching chromosomes.  I also found my friend, Urban Bohemian’s, question about Catcaller Zero to be an interesting take on the knuckle-dragging courtship ritual of yelling random and frequently vulgar things to women on the street.

Like the two aforementioned bloggers, I also wondered about the implied positive reinforcement of this behavior.  Surely some woman, at some point, responded affirmatively to this, else evolutionary law dictates that it would stop.  I just had never seen it… until Monday.

I was walking through Columbia Heights, which can be argued is ground central of the Holla problem, when I heard a typically crude cat-call.  The object of this vulgarity responded with “You can’t speak to me that way; that’s not my name.”

“Well, I don’t know your name; what’s your name” was the hollarers attempt at a logical response.

To my horror and more than slight amazement, this woman replied “My name is Foolish Woman Who Rewards Troglydyte Tendencies.”  Increasing my horror, FWWRTT reversed direction and walked towards the hollerer to speak with him.

I don’t know the outcome of their conversation, and I am not in any way suggesting that we blame women, the subjects or victims (depending on your perspective,) for the behavior of the offenders; but at least we now know that it works sometimes.

*****

Speaking of encouraging negative behavior…

I had just left the wash closet of the restaurant when I was conspicuously distracted by a Long Lashed Ingénue, and her severely hot boots, as she walked into the joint.  When she settled into the bar a couple of empty chairs away, I said “I love your boots.”

“Thank you, it’s the first time I’ve worn them and I was a little nervous walking here because I couldn’t walk to fast.  Surprisingly, I am on time for something for the first time in like ever.”

“Are you on a first date” was the question I asked despite knowing the answer.

“I will be once he gets here.”

We chatted for a moment or two more before my friend, the Only Slightly Sleazy Lobbyist, returned from his phone call and we returned to conversation.  LLI’s impatience grew after ten minutes elapsed with her date still not there.  When it hit fifteen minutes late, I joked that he had five more minutes before she should ditch him and come drinking with us.  When it got to twenty minutes she was visibly annoyed and said that the first words from his mouth better be a huge apology and an explanation of a lost cell phone.

LLI’s date eventually posted.  He was attired by accident, a subject that I’ve never understood, and there was no apology offered.  He went to get their table and she asked for her check.  I insisted that the bartender put her bourbon on my tab and wished her good luck.  She replied with a not too hopeful “thanks.”

Thirty minutes later we walked by their table on our way out the door.  She was holding his hand and looking wistful and happy.

I don’t know what the exceedingly tardy gentleman said in those thirty minutes, I don’t know if he waited until he got to the table to issue the profound apology that was required.  I don’t know if he lost his iron along with his cell phone, and the power was off so he had to dress in the dark.  I don’t know if he made a case for himself that mitigated all of the lateness, the absent apology, and the sloppy dressing.  I would however, bet dollars to donuts* that it never happened.

Am I blaming women for the poor behavior of men? Maybe just a bit.  I know that most of my lady friends and suspect that most of the female readers of this blog don’t contribute to this problem; but there is little room for debate about the fact that “bad boys” have their behavior rewarded by too many women.  When behavior is rewarded it is defacto encouraged to expand.  Please talk me down from this position.

* That phrase used to have a great deal more meaning before the price of donuts got pretty close to a dollar.


The Compliment that Convinced Me

15 December 2009

Most of my friends have never seen me without my goatee, so I am never surprised by their surprise when they see me without the facial hair that I had worn for more than fifteen years.  Of the friends who have expressed a preference, a solid but not overwhelming majority have indicated they prefer the clean shaven look.  I am still on the fence about it… or I was on until last night.

I walked into one of my locals to meet my dear friend, the Only Slightly Sleazy Lobbyist, for a drink and dinner.  Our favorite bartender greeted me with a big hug and a “Daaaayummm, you look so different without the beard.”

I was about to ask her to amplify her thoughts before she continued “I mean, you looked great before, but then you had that ‘professorial look’ now you look like his younger much hotter grad student TA who makes all the girls want to attend the study labs.”

Yeah, I’m never growing facial hair again.


You Cannot Be Serious

11 December 2009

First things first, I hope that we’ll see you tonight.  Good, now that that’s settled, back to regularly scheduled programming.


Reema reached over and had a gentle hand rubbing just below my shoulder blades.  The gesture wasn’t flirtatious in any way, rather it was a calming, circular motion that communicated a non-verbal “you know I agree with you but don’t start an argument with that guy – you can’t win because intellectual arguments with the unarmed still, somehow, leave everyone bloodied.”

Reema and I are frequent bar mates and almost always in political agreement.  We initially met a couple of years ago when she asked me where I got the “Yes We Can” – in Hebrew – sticker on my computer.  She’s a Hebrew speaking Indian Jew – not as rare as one might think, she keeps insisting.

Early on this random Tuesday evening I sat between Reema and an unfamiliar gentleman to my left.  At one point, Reema or I – my memory fails – asked for the channel on one of the televisions to be changed from FOX News (I had to type that three times before I could force my fingers to form FOX versus FIX) to a game.

As the channel changed, my accidental bar mate to my left said “oh, I was watching that.”

The bartender and I said, in almost unison, “Sorry about that, would you like to change it back?”

“No, no, I’m good” he replied.

In what was, at the time, a question of genuine curiosity, but in retrospect a very large mistake, I asked this gentleman “Do you watch FOX for entertainment, news or both?”

“Absolutely, both… I mean they’re the only ones putting the real news out there.  Come on, Glenn Beck is like a modern day Thomas Payne.”

Many of you may not believe me, but I really don’t seek conflict, and I tried to back away from this one by saying “Oh, I understand” and turning back towards comfortable conversation with Reema.

It took about five seconds for me to learn that starting another conversation would not end the previous one.  “I mean, FOX is the only major media outlet that talked about Obama’s birth certificate, the death panels the democrats are proposing as a health care solution, the fallacy of global warming, and all kinds of things that the left wing media ignores.”

This was the first moment I felt the calming influence of Reema’s hand on my back.  Her hand was the reason my tone was moderated, and my response a restrained “Yeah, well we disagree on this issue, and agreeing to disagree is never a bad thing.”

“You must be one of those typical lefties that think disagreeing with a conservative position is the height of intellectualism, but when conservatives disagree with liberals, you just shut down the conversation because you don’t respect our opinions.”

Reema’s hand urged me to take a moment and a deep breath before responding “It’s not that I don’t respect your opinions, Sir, it’s that I think that they require a dramatic rewriting of history to reach… the notion that Thomas Payne, a vociferous advocate of the equitable distribution of wealth, shares more than a passing resemblance to Glenn Beck is a laughable notion.”  My powder was still mostly dry, and my voice well within acceptable tones, when I continued “That you really consider FOX the bell ringer of unbiased information is as laughable as the people who consider Keith Olberman to be that as well; it’s not that I don’t respect your opinions, rather, it’s that I think that they are so diametrically opposed to mine that there is no middle ground on which either of us could change the other’s mind, and therefore, it’s best that we leave things with a gentleman’s agreement to agree to disagree.”

This conservative gent to my left capitulated to my neutral-corners offer for about five minutes before he offered “So I guess you hate Sarah Palin too?”

Reema was in the restroom so the calming influence of her hand on my back was absent when I finally snapped back “You’re about two sentences from convincing me that you’re a real ass – not because of your political view, but because you seem insistent on arguing about it with someone who has made it clear that they do not wish to discuss such things with you.”  I took another deep breath before concluding with “I don’t know why you insist on trying to snatch conflict from the jaws of peaceable drinking, but…”

My voice trailed off as my mind caught the place my mouth was about to go.

“…Listen, when my friend gets back, I’m going to talk to her; but I do wish you a really happy holiday season, sir.”

He finally got the hint – and his check.


I Wonder if This is How Bernie Did It

10 December 2009

I met Tracy walking down the street Sunday night.  We both stepped into the street to jaywalk and laughed when we both retreated in the face of a car rounding the corner way too quickly.  We bonded over our shared roots as native Washingtonians as we traversed the two blocks to the grocery store.

We talked about her children, and my business.  As we parted, she said “I think we should talk, we might be able to do some business together.  That’s a throw-away line in DC as common as empty pizza wrappers on an Adams Morgan Saturday night.  So I was surprised when she called me to ask for a meeting on Wednesday.

Our intended location, a neighborhood coffeeshop, was too crowded so we headed to her living room a block or so away.  We talked politics and economics for twenty minutes or so before she launched into the sales pitch.  It was boiler plate sales slogans.

  • Are you making your paycheck work for you?
  • Is your income stream diversified?
  • Shouldn’t your money work when you aren’t?
  • Aren’t you tired of someone else controlling your destiny?

Being annoyed by platitudes and rhetoric, I finally asked “So how can this help my business?”

Tracy finally got specific.  She outlined how I could purchase the things I already buy through an online mall, and my clients could buy through it as well.  She talked for several more minutes before I finally said “So how is this different from some sort of Amway pyramid operation?”

“Oh, so you’re already familiar with Amway?”


There is a pretty short list of reasons for a gentleman to refuse a drink…

8 December 2009

There is a pretty short list of reasons for a gentleman to refuse a drink…

Mr. Thomas was a perspective client… well that is a bit of a misnomer as he and his partners spent the better part of a year jerking my chain and pumping me for free information regarding their new venture.  I allowed this one sided flow of information for so long because it held the promise of a perfect gig for me, one which would intersect my loves for dark liquors, wine, cigars and restaurants.

I spent untold and uncompensated hours dropping meal-sized bread crumbs of information about how to open and operate a successful place. My efforts to ration information in a manner that would underscore rather than eliminate their need for me were mostly effective and resulted in numerous confirmations that “I [was] their guy.”

My spidey sense told me not to invest too much emotional hope in their promises, however, when third parties began to congratulate me for the new client and contract, I let my skepticism relax.  Still, I was surprised but not shocked when other second-hand, but very reliable, sources told me that they were “going in a different direction.”

For the last couple of months, he’s moved in another different direction when we shared the same space – cowards tend to avoid issues – as occurred with some frequency due to our sharing of a bar or two, which was the impetus for our intial meeting.  Last night was different.

I saw Mr. Thomas sitting at the far right end of the bar just after I gave salutations to the bartender.  It was a brief glimpse, a sideways glance in which I identified him more from his distinctive shadow rather than his face.  I ignored him and expected that he would get his tab and flee as he has done most times since I heard “the news.”

About three quarters of the way through my bourbon, a server produces another with a cheery “This is compliments of Mr. Thomas.”

The server was two steps away before pride kicked-in and I said “take it back; I don’t want a drink from him.”


Those Boots Were Most Definitely Not Made for Walking

7 December 2009

Old Flame and Current Friend: Refugee, did you just check out her ass?!?  Really, I mean I am sitting right here.

Me: While not above the random appreciation of a woman’s ass, I was looking at her shoes.

OFCF: Uhhhhh, I’m calling bullshit on that one.

Me: Seriously I was looking at her boots.

OFCF: I mean, it’s OK if you were checking out her ass; you know I’m just busting your chops.

Me: Actually, I would think that a bit rude… the whole ogling versus appreciating thing and I try to avoid doing one either when out with a lady, date or no.

OFCF: You are so full of shit.

Me: Me being full of shit and having checked out her boots versus her ass are not mutually exclusive positions.

OFCF: Fine, then describe her shoes to me.

Me: Really? You have so little faith in me?

OFCF: You do remember that we dated, right?

Me: Fine, twenty bucks says that I can not only describe her boots, but I can probably get the designer too.

OFCF: OK, Mr. I’m-too-classy-to-admit-looking-at-a-girl’s-ass, you’re on… and you know I’m gonna ask her.

Me: You do remember that we dated right? I fully expect that you will ask her…  They look like the stiletto boot from Burberry, but since she’s only 23, 24, she’d have to be a Trustafarian for them to be real.  So I am guessing that they’re Nine West knock offs or whatever the house brand is over at Macy’s.

OFCF: If I hadn’t slept with you myself, I would seriously wonder if you were straight.

Me: I’m just gonna ignore that.

OFCF: I’m about to go ask her, you get your wallet out.  [walks a couple of bar stools over]

OFCF: Excuse me, I love your boots.

Woman with the Hot Boots: Thank you so much, I just got them.

OFCF: Would you mind if I asked where you picked them up?

WHB: Not at all, 9 West was having a big holiday sale, they might still be 30% off.

OFCF: Thanks, and have a great night.

OFCF: [returning to her seat] Stop grinning like that.  I always hated that Checkmate grin of yours.

Me: The what grin?

OFCF: That look of satisfaction you get when you know you’re about to win something… or about to get laid.

Me: We can explore that conversation in a bit… Where’s my twenty?

OFCF: You know I never carry cash.

Me: That is not on the rather long list of your charms, my dear.


Struggling with Instinct in the Pale Moon Light*

6 December 2009

“I love the new look” was the salutation from Juliet, a woman I’ve know for several years.  The greeting wasn’t strange in light of the fact that I had recently shaved the goatee I’d worn since grad school.

“Thank you; I have to admit that I’m still on the fence about the change” I replied.

“Trust me, you need to keep it off… I mean you looked great before but now there’s nothing hiding your lips.”

As soon as the words were out, I could see the holyshitdidIjustsaythat look fall across her face.  It was the wee small hour part of the night and she had been at the bar for a few beers more than me.

Alcohol is the lubricant that often pries difficult truth from the mind

Gentlemen don’t revel in a lady’s embarrassment, so I changed the subject with a “So how was your holiday?”

We continued with the worst kind of cocktail conversation for another few minutes but that look never left her face.  She went back to her friends and I went back to crafting the menu for a Cajun Holiday dinner I may or may not be preparing in a couple of days.

Minutes always seem to move faster the closer you get to Last Call and this night was no exception.  As I hate being in a bar when the lights get brighter and everyone get a little less attractive (myself included,) I started packing my things before that moment.  Just as I’m buckling the straps on my briefcase, Juliet came over and asked “Refugee, you mind walking me home?”

I’d done it at least a dozen times and I was happy to do it again that night.

On the sidewalk, Juliet slipped her arm inside mine like she always does.  It was one of the first really cold nights of the season and I enjoyed having proof of my exhalations.  Two blocks later, we’re in front of her building and said our usual valediction as we hugged.   She took a few steps toward her door and made an abrupt about face.

Juliet closed the distance between us so quickly that I didn’t realize she was going to kiss me until her lips were already on mine.

It was a lusty, hungry kiss, the kind you’d expect from a woman who deserves to be kissed, and often, and by somebody who knows how, but hasn’t been.

I started to speak but Juliet placed a gentle hand to my lips and said “I’m sorry; I’ve wanted to do that for a very long time and since I obviously told you that earlier, I figured I had nothing to lose.  Your lips are softer than I imagined and I wish I could date you, but I have height issues… and I know that their mine but…”

I cut her off with “I understand and you don’t need to say anything else” mostly because I didn’t want to hear any more.  I am not a bitter short guy – well I am bitter with the doctors who told me as a child that I would be at least six-two and I do want those extra five inches – but this does get tiresome.

*Sting, if you ever read this blog – yeah, I know it ain’t likely – I hope you’ll pardon my paraphrasing your brilliant lyrics.


The 18th is Among My Favorite Amendments

4 December 2009

5 December 1933 was the date the United States’ failed experiment with national temperance came to a foreseeable and justifiable end.  Seventy-six years ago tomorrow, the booze which continued to flow during prohibition was finally legal again.  Bathtub gins, bootlegged whiskey, and moonshine were replaced with permissible varieties of spirits and state tax stamps.  Speakeasies flung open their doors to the public and once again a civilized society could have an adult beverage without flaunting the law.

As you proceed with your weekends, I hope you will all raise a glass of something and celebrate your ability to drink freely, well, sometimes poorly, and sometimes to excess.

Happy Repeal Day to you all.


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