It’s That Time of Year Again – International Crush Day

4 March 2011

Two years ago some blog friends were hosting a Happy Hour with the theme “It’s Just a Little Crush.” While a business trip kept me away from that particular boozefest, I extrapolated the concept to propose that the date* be declared International Crush Day.

Among the things I wrote at the time:

I endorse, embrace, and enthusiastically support the crush.

In the same way that some would argue that the single cell organism is the purest form of life, I argue that the crush is the purest form of affection.  It is perfect, wholly contained, and needs no augment.  It can exist in a personal vacuum absent acknowledgment or reciprocity.  The Crush can be romantic, professional, artistic, vocational, social, bloggerational, and can even exist within the confines of a healthy relationship.  The crush is perfect.

To have a Crush is to engage whimsy, to embrace possibility, and in the extreme case to wrap oneself in the courage of romance.

So it’s that time again.  I encourage all of you to spend some time next Friday, 11 March, declaring your appreciation to someone you’ve been crushing on.  It doesn’t matter what kind of crush it is, or whether it is based on affection or admiration.  What matters is telling someone that you like the way they make you smile when they enter a room, bend a phrase, play a horn, or curl a lip when having the first sip of coffee.  Whatever it is that makes you tingle, tell someone – across the room, or across the country, embrace the notion.

* yes, I realize that the initial proclamation decreed that ICD was 20 February. However, the trouble with trying to invent a holiday from whole cloth (unless you’re Hallmark) is that you have to remember it, and I forgot /wasn’t really blogging at all much in early February. The good news about inventing a holiday is that you can just change the date since it hasn’t exactly gone viral yet… and oh yeah, it was too close to Valentine’s Day anyway.

********

Funny thing about the photo montage at the top of the page: before York reprised their “When I eat a Peppermint Patty, I get the sensation…” commercials, they were mainly known to those who came of age in the 70s and early 80s. Back in the mid 90s I was dating a substantively younger woman – the first time I had such a large age gap in that direction. At one point during our courtship, I left a Peppermint Patty in her purse with a note that read “When I think of you, I get the sensation.” She didn’t get it. It was a missed reference too far and I stopped dating her.

and few people who have known me for more than a cup of coffee would be surprised to learn that Eva Cassidy has an emeritus place on my Crush List. The last frame is a picture of her before her last concert at Blues Alley.

p.s. please feel free to re-blog this, tweet about it, Facebook it or whatever other new media thingamabob you wish.  I really love this idea and would be thrilled if it spread.

     

 


Looks Like a Duck, Quacks Like One Too, But We’re Calling It an Escape

2 September 2010

Wanna grab a drink after work tomorrow?” read the text message from Jessica.

I’ll be in Pittsburgh for the day but should be be back in time. Can we say 7pm, but in pencil rather than indelible pixels?” I replied.

I returned to DC a little later than planned; Jessica worked later than she anticipated so we skipped drinks and went straight to dinner.

She walked into the restaurant in a navy blue pencil skirt with big brass buttons on the back, and a lacy, racy top that I know she didn’t wear at work. The peep-toe platforms probably weren’t standard 9-5 issue either. Her make-up was perfectly applied – striking a balance between effortless, displaying effort, and it’s Friday night.

I stood to greet her and for just a moment, had a flash of awkwardness – it’s not supposed to be a date, but we’ve already been pretty familiar – wondering about the appropriate level of physicality in our salutation.

Where I had doubt, Jessica possessed absolute certainty. She sauntered more than walked towards me, dropping her work bag from her left shoulder as she went. She leaned forward on her toes and placed her right hand against my cheek guiding my lips towards hers for a hello that was two beats too long to be friendly.

I thought this wasn’t a date” I stated in a whisper just loud enough to be heard over the bar’s iPod playing a Latin version of Take 5.

It’s not” she countered as we released our hug. “This is a ‘I’ve had an incredibly shitty week so I decided to wear something really pretty and have some escapist fun with a man I’m not supposed to like.’”

You practice that on the way in?” I teased.

Yeah, you wanna make something of it?” Jessica shot back with a mock tough-girl look.

Our night of escapism unfolded as expected. We didn’t talk about her suburban lifestyle & desire to have children. Nor did we discuss my night-owl nature and its incompatibility with her early rising.

A few days later I sent Jessica an email asking her to have drinks with me in a couple of days because I had a meeting with a restaurant in her neighborhood. Her reply came quickly and in the affirmative, but with some caveats.

I would love to have drinks with you, especially since you’ll be just around the corner. But just to be clear: I won’t have shaved my legs for two days, and I will most definitely be wearing granny-panties.

Fair enough, I laughed/mumbled to my computer.

The universe has a really strange sense of humor.

Reader Question: assuming you are the kind of person who places oneself in situations where one must actively avoid, *ahem*, entanglements, what steps do you take to avoid such things?


Sometimes You Get Lucky After the Date

12 August 2010

My date with the Conservative Nutter lasted just under two hours and while her company wasn’t unpleasant, I am certain that at least some of that time (ok, just about all of that time) was spent in obligation. I felt obliged to give it every effort, give her every chance, and to be fully present despite our obvious disconnects. I might have been overcompensating just a bit, but the compulsory portion of the night had run its course.

I walked CN to her car, dodged an awkward moment when she tried to kiss me, and headed for the subway. Out of courtesy, I didn’t make post date plans, so I spent the subway ride texting for a drinking partner… that and hoping the bottle of benadryl I swallowed earlier would outlast my allergy to suburbs and wingnuts.

It was that tween part of the night – happy hour crowd mostly onto other things, post dinner crowds yet to arrive – and I found myself at one of my favorite bars/restaurants. I occupied one of two empty seats at the smallish bar while drinking a Santero and finishing my newspaper.

About ten minutes after my arrival I heard “Is this seat taken” asked by a well dressed 30something woman over my right shoulder.

Just by you” I replied moving my briefcase to the back of my barstool.

Just after she settled into her seat, Jimmy, the bartender and a friend of mine, said “Jessica, whatcha drinking, and what the hell are you doing back so soon?” His tone was a touch louder than required – but that’s just Jimmy; there was no intent to harm or embarrass but Jessica turned a bit red nonetheless. I tried to focus on my paper, not wishing to deepen her blush by changing my body language or otherwise providing visual acknowledgment of the obvious fact that I overheard what should have been a more private question.

To Jessica’s immense credit, she channeled her blush into a subtle chide toward Jimmy and a conversation starter with me. “Dontcha just hate it when people ask you questions when the answer is obvious?” Jessica snarkasiticly querried with a slap to my right arm. She continued – in my direction but clearly intended for us both – “Jimmy knows full well that I left here ’bout an hour ago for a date and that if I’m back this quickly it must have sucked donkey balls.”

I’ve long found the well-timed and sparingly but properly used profanity to be particularly charming from a woman’s lips.

So I guess we’re gonna start with a shot before I pour you a glass of wine?” Jimmy asked with just the slightest hint of sheepishness.

Uh-huhhh” Jessica nodded as we all shared a half-laugh that didn’t fully indicate the levity of the moment.

Jimmy gave me a look, pointed a cocktail shaker in my direction, and asked “Refugee, you in on this?”

I almost have to be since my date, though not quite hitting the inauspicious benchmark of sucking donkey testicles, wasn’t much better than Jessica’s.”

Do you always use too many words like Cornell West, or is that just an affectation to impress a pretty girl?” Jessica asked in what was becoming clear was her favorite color of speech – a pale shade of snarkasm.

I thought you had a disdain for the obvious questions” I replied as we shared the first of many flirtatious smiles. I changed the subject and inquired “So what was so what was so bad about your date, did he not get your particular brand of humor?”

And why would you ask that?” Jessica responded in a thoughtfully suspicious tone that made me instantly think she was a barrister by academic training if not profession.

Well, I get the sense, more from the tonality of your dialogue than its actual substance, that yours is a particular type of humor that is contraindicated for those lacking in appreciation of sarcasm and snark or as I like to say snarkasm.”

Good god, you do love your 25-cent phrases, even when a nickle would do” Jessica replied as she cupped her hand to her forehead. “Are you a lawyer?”

No, I’m not a lawyer, but I was just wondering the same thing about you… your tendency to answer questions with queries and all.”

Jimmy interrupted our sparring by placing three shot glasses on the bar and pouring a brownish liquid into each.

Shall we drink to nights that don’t suck donkey gonads?” I offered. All agreed, we toasted, Jimmy & I tapped the bar with our shot glasses*, and all were upended.”

Perhaps sensing the problem-solving look on my face, Jimmy proudly declared “I call that Looziana Swamp Whater” in an exaggeration of the cajun accent he used to have and now mostly turns of and on whenever it suits him.

So-Co… Lime Vodka, splash of sour, wait, no… Lime Vodka, splash of OJ, splash of coke?” I stated as more of a question than it should have been.

Fuck you and the super-tasting palate you rode in, Refugee… I’ll get you one of these days” Jimmy replied with a melange of frustration and pride.

So you wanna tell me why your date was… can we say ‘licking the donkey nuts’ if not sucking them?” Jessica said by way of returning us to a prior unfinished point of conversation.

Well, Counselor, the short version is that I met my date through some online dating site. I wrote her a message, she replied and accepted my invitation to have a drink. However, in her acceptance, she gave me her email address and some internet stalking led me to her blog which seemed to indicate that she was a bit of conservative/libertarian nutter… like, is a birther and compares Glenn Beck to Edward R. Murrow kinda nutter. And for the record, of the two things, I am not sure which I consider the greater offense. But I met her for drinks because I had already extended the invitation, and I thought she was hot. Turns out, her pictures are old as hell – and the ensuing miles were city miles not highway miles, and 30 pounds out-of-date too. That’s the elevator version of the story, but I’m not saying another word until you answer one of my questions; why was your date so bad?”

Jessica took a deep breath, a mildly dramatic sigh, and did that look-down-look-up-look-down-pause-look-up maneuver, and finally said “You guessed that he didn’t get my humor and you’re slightly right… he spent most of the evening trying to impress me with his ‘Harh-varhd’ degrees and success. It was bullshit. He talked for 50 minutes and the only real question I got in, he didn’t get the question, and really flubbed the answer. It wasn’t just that he didn’t get me, it’s that it didn’t matter to him if he did. I could’ve been any woman sitting there… Ya know most people like to jack-off to something but this guy likes to do it to himself, so all I was doing was sitting there holding the mirror.”

I get that, mostly because of my general understand of and disdain for Harh-varhd Men, but also and more specifically, because that behavior doesn’t surprise me from any man… but what question did you ask?

He said something which prompted me to ask what he saw as the difference between foolish and romantic. He didn’t even understand the question.”

And that was the moment, either the question or the shared look afterward, but most likely the combination of the two. That was the moment when the potential became possible.

p.s. There is more to the story, but this post was getting a bit long. See ya tomorrow.


How We Met… Telling My Story

1 May 2010

Given my disclosed fascination with “how we met” stories, I decided that it was about time that I shared the only really good one I’ve ever had…

It was the kind of early spring Friday that is the balm for the last couple of winter months when the fun of the first two has turned to fatigue.  Nothing was going to keep me in the office (I was in a prior career back then.)  I took the top down on my car, lit a cigar and took the longer but prettier route back into the city. About an hour later (suburbs suck or as my friend Lexa would say “suburbs are something that happen to people,) I was driving down U street, your standard issue four lane urban road through a kinda trendy area.

At 9th and U, a woman  driving the car next to mine at the stoplight waves at me just before the light turns green and we drive to the next light.

“Forgive me, have we met before?” I asked the woman who waved, although I was 95% sure we had not because despite my occasionally sieve-like memory for faces, there was no way I could have forgotten the acquaintance of a woman this stunning.  She strongly resembled a younger and Latin American version of Penelope Cruz.

“No… I was just flirting with you” She replied just as the light turned green and we drove to the next light.

“Was this random I’m-bored-on-my-ride-home flirting or deliberate flirting?” was my next question.

“Oh, it was very deliberate” she replied when true to our timing the light changed again.

Down this block she moved into the left lane so I shifted to the right. Now at the 15th street light, I asked “So since this was deliberate, if I gave you my card you’d give me a call sometime?”

“Probably” was all she could get out before the light changed again.

The business card was already in my hand by the time we reached 16th street.  I tried to hand it to her passenger, but she (intentionally, I think)  couldn’t quite make the reach before the light changed and the shockingly pretty woman who had waved at me turned left while traffic forced me to go straight.

It would be two blocks before I could make a left turn to look for her, but I was determined not to have the story end this way.  It just couldn’t end with being two inches short of “maybe.”

I drove around the very trendy neighborhood for what felt like ten minutes without success.  Could she be going further South?  Should I stay on this street, turn left, turn right?  The questions bounced through my mind until I made one lucky turn and saw her giving her car keys to the valet at a restaurant.

I found a close-enough-to legal parking space and walked toward the restaurant.  The two women were already at a table.  I went to the bartender and told her I needed a favor.  I told her the whole story… the bartender (who has since become a friend of mine) promised me she’d take care of everything.

Before the unbelievably pretty woman and her stingy armed friend ordered food, the bartender went to the table with two glasses of champagne and my business card with a note that read:

“The story about meeting a woman at stoplights needs a better ending.  I hope you’ll give me a call.”

******

Post Script

She waited an agonizingly long two days to call – That annoying book, The Rules, was still popular back then.

We had our first date the Thursday following the Friday we met

I swear she got prettier by the day

We Dated for almost a year, broke up for almost a year, got back together for close to a year, broke up for another two years or so, got back together for a couple months, broke up for good.

Our love was very real, but there were a couple of fundamental incompatibilities.


Writing the Preface on How We Met

22 April 2010

I love hearing the stories of how couples met.  I’m not sure where or when the fascination began, but I’ve had it for a rather long time.  Having heard hundreds of “how we met” stories (this is among my all-time favorites,) I have learned the following:

  • One member of the couple always tells the story better (if not more accurately) than the other.
  • There is neither correlation nor causation between interesting stories and successful relationships.
  • It doesn’t matter how two people have met, no matter how boring or even bleak the circumstance, when a man’s eyes don’t get a little brighter when recalling the meeting of his partner… well, let’s just say that I’m rarely optimistic for their prospects.

A couple of months ago the Washington Post added the “On Love” section to the Sunday Arts & Style.  The stories of meeting and courtship quickly became mandatory reading for me.  I have blogged about being affected by that section, been frustrated by stories that made me think “Why the fuck did they getting married?” and certainly have been alternately challenged and charmed.  (The editor has made it clear in responding to reader complaints to the ombudsmen that the section is, by design, not always a bucket of sunshine and kittens.)

This Sunday the article opened with the shocking (to some) declaration that they “had spent fewer than 30 days in each others company before they got hitched.” As the kinda guy who is thoroughly enamored of The Story,  I was a completely interested in the tale of the Nurse and the Military Officer.  As any good writer wants to happen, I, the reader became invested.

I was invested in their childhood meeting, moving, and eventual reconnection many years later.  I invested in his divorce, her dying father, their friendship.  I invested in their moment when potential became possible. I invested in their engagement and mostly electronic courtship.  I invested in his difficult times when he identified with Tom Hanks & the volleyball on the island.  I invested when she said “you’ll never be a castaway again.”  I invested in their individual and collective steps to deal with his pending deployment to the Afghan Theater.

And then I had to put the article down.  I was about 80% through the piece but I was emotionally petrified and gripped with a fear that this couple, this lovely couple with the bravery to love ambitiously, would be felled by his bravery in service.  In my head, I was stomping my feet and throwing a tantrum at the Washington Post.

“Promise me there’s a happy ending, promise me he makes it back” I actually said aloud, giving voice to my demand but not sure to whom it was directed.  “There’s no way that they would make me care that much only to…” I didn’t finish the thought.

I did finish the article, and then I went shopping for a care package for a friend in Iraq because I didn’t know what else to do.


The Date I’ll Never Forget

1 April 2010

I will never forget this date because it’s the day when I finally, blissfully, decided to stop fighting the want within me.

Like the song says, It began to tell round midnight.  Round midnight we shed the artifice of friendship and accepted what had been fait accompli to those around us, to strangers on the street and close friends alike.  In random places, random people would frequently comment “you make such a lovely couple” while friends would charge “really… nothing happening there????” with the usual follow of “why not?”

We dated for more than a year but none of our dates were capital D dates with a capital C crush, or a big R romance.  We dined, we went to theatre, we walked down streets arm in arm only to part each night with fond memories and protestations of friendship.  I don’t know what took me so long and my only defense is that whenever you decide you want to start the rest of your life to begin, everything before – the good, the other dates, the mistakes, the placeholders – was not time wasted, but precursors and preparation… to this date.

So round midnight on this date, this celebrated day in spring, I asked the question and she gave the answer that will bring our lives together, welcome what we ignored until ignoring it wasn’t an option.

On this date, we’ve each had our last date.  On this date, we grabbed the haystack needle and agreed to happily tilt at windmills together. On this date, I happily entwine my life with a woman on my blogroll.  On this date I introduce you all to my future wife I’m Gonna Break Your Heart.


If I Ever Played Never-Have-I-Ever, I Have a New Thing to Which I Must Drink

25 March 2010

I’ve had near-death experiences and contrary to rumors*, life did not flash before my eyes.  I’ve never had that flash of an experience before… until last week that is.

Plans for my evening were simple – take a stack of work to my local, have a couple of pops, smoke a cigar, decompress.  Half way through a La Aroma de Cuba Corona, and a great basketball game (which necessitated ignoring work) a voice behind me announced my full name (including my middle name which is only known to a handful of people.)  The very big voice came from the very petite Michelle.

Michelle and I have known each other since high school – our respective best friends were an item and they constantly tried to push the two of us together.  We remained fairly close through college, grad school and ensuing years.  One day, having fully grown into our careers, personalities, and bodies we connected romantically.  Our maturity couldn’t change our poor timing.

I hugged Michelle with all of the affection reserved for someone who requires no exposition for your stories.  I hugged Michelle like a dear friend and former love for whom there is still a deeply rooted emotional connection.  I don’t know how long it had been since we last saw each other but we shared a hug that was tight enough to melt the years.  She then turned to introduce me to her date, Damian.  To his great credit, Damian was not unnerved by our exchange.

After brief introductions but before the ordering of drinks, Michelle turned to Damian and announced “You need some history here!”

In that instance, the entirety of our romantic lives flashed before me:

The first moment when the potential became possible,

The shared laugh at the expense of all of the people waiting to enter the shopping mall parking lot for a day of Holiday shopping, while we simply valet parked at the Ritz Carlton,

The explanation of a proper Gimlet – gin, fresh lime juice, simple sugar, and a dash of bitters,

The gentle first kiss in the back of a Town Car between dinner and a night cap,

The torrid kiss in the same back seat between the bar and my place,

The exhortation while I unzipped her dress “I’m only taking this off if I get to wear your shirt,”

The first time on my couch… and the floor, and in the kitchen, and finally the bed until an exhausted entanglement of bodies collapsed into a mass of limbs indistinguishable from the other,

The entirety of the six week long and sensual escape from the reality of her return to a doctoral program 500 miles away.

It all passed through my mind in a seemingly slow motion instant that cumulated with the question of “how much history was Michelle about to explain?”

Michelle turned to Damian and in a stunningly display of understatement said “Refugee and I have known each other forever, we practically grew up together,” then she instructed the bartender about how to make her a proper Gimlet.

* every time I write or hear the phrase “contray to rumors” it is in the voice of Morris Day and The Time singing it from the chorus to the song Gigolos Get Lonely Too.  Don’t Judge – we all made some *ahem* questionable musical choices in the 80s.


Dating Advice from Me and LiLu

8 March 2010

My Dear Restaurant Refugee,

I am that cliché, long time reader but first time commenter (or emailer is more accurate) and I was wondering if you’d give me your opinion on something.

I work with a guy that seems to be a lot like you – smart, good looking, well dressed, and pretty comfortable around women.  I wanted to use International Crush Day to tell him that I’ve been crushing on him for a while, but he was out sick that day.  I’ve kind of lost my nerve since then.  What’s the best way to approach him?  Our office goes out sometimes for happy hour and such but I would never make a move in front of other people.  I’m pretty sure that he’s single and straight but don’t know what to do next.  Help me.

Afraid of Unrequited

p.s. I also wrote to Carolyn Hax, but I am pretty sure I have a better shot at getting a response from you.  If she responds too, I am probably going to ditch your advice in favor of hers.

Dear Afraid of Unrequited,

First, I thank you for reading and taking the time to write me this email and for your very kind words (ed. note: I did ask AU’s permission before using this as a blog post.) I am always flattered and humbled by the notion that people would ask my advice on anything.  As always, it should be noted that free advice is frequently worth exactly what you pay for it.

You don’t indicate how directly you work with this gentleman and that matters a great deal.  You also don’t indicate how big your organization is.  I am going to assume that this chap is neither your direct boss nor one of your reports – sexual harassment is never sexy.  If he is either, you need to put the crush down and back away… quickly.  The same thing applies if you two work in a really small organization or small office of a larger organization.

Your fear and hesitation is rooted in an aversion to rejection.  Everyone has it, men have just gotten more accustomed to dealing with it than women because of societal mores that have men deluded into believing that we almost always make the first move*.  The larger and more realistic question is what are you afraid of?  If you invite someone for drinks and they say no, what’s the big deal?  They have done their worst and said no, but what does that no really mean?

If the worst case scenario is a poor reaction followed by gossiping to coworkers, is that a guy that you would want to date?  From what you wrote, that seems an unlikely outcome, but if it did occur I would consider it a dodged bullet.

Some might consider a public and messy break-up that creates an untenable work environment the worst case.  I consider that situation the cautionary consideration to other questions: should I have sex with him, should I get serious with him, as those are two questions that can not occur without a first date.

My advice:

  • As with any dating issue, consider the potential risks and rewards.  The risk here is relatively low, so just ask him already.
  • Choose an activity of mutual interest (gallery opening, new bar, billiards, whatever) and issue the invitation.  More than a week in advance can lead to heightened expectations, over-thinking and the like; two days or less can seriously reduce the likelihood of his availability.  Four days feels juuuusst right.
  • If he says no, don’t over-analyze** his answer.  Do pay attention to what he does.  You’ve made it clear that you’d like to socialize with him outside of the office.  Even if he is among the breed of men who needs to be bashed about the head with a flirtatious club before he understands that someone is interested, you extended an invitation.  If he wishes to see you in a non-working context but cannot on this date, he will reciprocate the offer.  Whether or not he reciprocates your affections, is another question.
  • Do not allow or initiate any physical contact (kissing counts) until you have an all-caps NEED for it, until you cannot imagine the earth rotating even one more degree without it.  It is throwing your cap over the wall in an office environment and you better NEED it before you go flinging it.
  • Don’t create an evidence trail.  Email might be an easier way to ask but resist that urge.  If you do make plans / start dating / get serious / whatever, do not send flirty emails via the office network.  This applies to office cell phones, voicemail too.  You must erect an emotional firewall between your professional interaction and your personal.

However you choose to proceed, please let us know what happens.

Best of luck to you,

-rr

* 96.34% of the times a man “makes the first move” it’s a reaction to something subtle and deliberate that a woman has done to give us permission to make the nominally inaccurate but perceived first move.

** notice a pattern developing here?

For a woman’s perspective on this question, I turned to my dear friend, LiLu for her thoughts…

Dear Afraid of Unrequited:

I must admit, my first response is NO, BACK AWAY FROM THE COWORKER, DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200.

This reaction may or may not come from personal experience. *cough*

That said, it sounds like you want to go through with this, one way or another. So, (sigh), let’s figure out the best way to do it.

Eons ago, back when I occasionally exercised my own feminine wiles, my Plan of Action probably would have looked a little something like this.

Let’s call it…

The “SCORE” System, a la LiLu.

Step 1: “S” is for Stalk.

Stalk the hell out of him. Facebook, Twitter, Google- do what you have to to find out that he is IN FACT straight ‘n single. (A little research never hurt the cause, neither.) There is nothing worse than batting your eyelashes at the Christmas party only to have his less-than-approving girlfriend- or boyfriend, for that matter- take his arm and proceed to kill you dead with eye lasers.

Trust me. They burn.

Step 2: “C” is for Corner.

Corner him at an office happy hour. Get some alone time! Wait until he goes up to the bar, and “remember” that your own drink is empty, too. (After you down it. Duh.) Finagle the seating so you’re both on the end of the table, affording you some privacy. Last ditch move: arrange for some friends to be at a bar next door, and casually suggest he come with you for “one more” when the office group breaks up. Do what it takes, my friend. Get Creative. (Oh, look! Another “C”!)

Step 3: “O” is for Obvious.

Look. Dudes are dumb. I’ve said it, Refugee’s said it… while we have to consider the possibility that this may be a case of He’sJustNotThatIntoYou-itis, because the workplace is involved, there’s no way to know for sure. He could be reluctant to date a coworker; he could be your average dude who is completely effing clueless that you’re interested. So, once you’ve cornered him, make your affections obvious… while leaving him a “Get Out of Jail Free” card all the while. That way, you can both pretend it never happened.

You know, after those first five or so awkward meetings at the copier.

Step 4: “R” is for Read.

Read his response. For the love, try to be objective. Do keep in mind that you are trying to save yourself from having to suffer through eight hours of utter humiliation EVERY. DAMN. DAY. Look for encouragement, watch for disinterest. Pay attention to whether he asks about and listens toyou, or whether he talks about work or {insert other purely platonic subject here} the whole time. Huge, red flag signs of interest are the following:

  • Any on-purpose touching. At all. This clearly crosses a boundary between coworkers. You win. (Well, halfway. He at least wants to get in your pants.)
  • Insisting on paying for your drinks. This is an easy way for him to show interest/make your interaction more date-y, especially without alerting other coworkers.
  • Inviting you to a future anything. See phrases like: “This was fun, we should do it again.” “Have you ever been to XYZ Bar? We should go sometime.” “Want to go to a Pants Party next Friday?”

Just kidding on that last one. Don’t answer that.

Step 5: “E” is for Execute.

Now, depending on how Step 4 goes, you might be “executing” your future forever Entanglement as lovers… or making an entirely mortifying tail-between-the-legs Escape.

I warned you.

Good luck!

~LiLu

ood luck!

~LiLu


Don’t Think I’m Fragile Just Because I Crush Easily

19 February 2010

As today is the day that International Crush Day is Celebrated, I have a few things to share…

I crush on the woman on the subway because she’s reading the Financial Times and for a geek like me, that’s kinda sexy.

I crush on Dianne Rehm because she can take the most divisive issue and find the civility amidst the cacophony.

I crush on Air Force Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach because he spent 18 years serving our country, has a drawer full of medals, and still wants to serve despite the fact that the USAF is trying to discharge him because he happens to be gay.

I crush on Christina Hendricks because she looks like a real woman with real curves, and yes, also because I have some sort of genetic predisposition in favor of redheads.

I crush on Rachel Maddow because it’s impossible not to crush on a woman who is simultaneously the smartest and funniest person in just about any room… and when the room is a Meet the Press Studio, that’s saying something.

I crush on the woman at my coffee shop because she wears stilettos in the snow… yes, I know that is highly impractical, frequently an indication of high maintenance, but also not mutually exclusive to being kinda hot.

I crush on a whole host of bloggers, because they write things that leave me breathless either in that hand-over-mouth kinda way, or because I’ve used all my air on laughter, or because they turn a phrase that leaves me thinking “damn, I wish I wrote that.”

I crush on my butcher because she can talk about meat the way I can talk about wine which is to say for hours on end without conversation fatigue.

I crush on Katty Kay because wickedly smart with a British accent just sounds better.

I crush on Nia Long because of the movie Love Jones and that’s reason enough.

I crush on Adam Van Houten because he reported himself for an error on his scorecard that cost him an Ohio High School state golf championship and honor is very cool.

I crush on Eva Cassidy (yes, I am allowed to have posthumous crushes) because there’s never been another voice like hers, and I’ve never had more fun at Blues Alley then the times I saw her.


A Doctrine of Exceptionalism I can Support

17 February 2010

One good thing about being snowbound (or really snow lazy) was that I had an opportunity to catch up on work, among other things.  Like I suspect many of you also did, I vacillated between productivity and television/movies/books.  One of the movies that I finally watched (and no, I am not necessarily proud of it) was the Sex and the City movie.  I have no problems admitting that I followed the show during its early seasons – I may have attended and even hosted a SATC party or four – but I felt no real inclination to watch the movie.  I’m going to blame HBO for showing it a bunch of times and my insomnia for choosing it over infomercials.

This has never been a space for movie reviews and I certainly won’t change that by discussing a 2+ year old movie of marginal cinematic consequence.  But after watching Carrie get left at the alter by Big, I just knew there was no way they were getting back together… and then I wanted to throw day old Domino’s pizza at the screen when they did reconnect and marry at the end of the movie.  “How could she put herself in this position?” I yelled at the screen, followed by the thought “this is the bullshit message that ends a once formidable cultural phenomenon?”

A day or so later the distaste was still lingering in my mind when I trekked to a bar to meet a friend.  The Only Slightly Sleazy Lobbyist and I were sitting on a mostly heated patio lamenting our NFL-Withdrawal while sucking on discount beers and La Flor Dominicana Cabinet Selection #1* for me and American Spirits for him.  A few minutes later a slightly inebriated woman ambled over to our perch at the bar.

“Excuse me, I just broke up with my boyfriend and would like a cigarette please” she said with just a hint of affect.

My reaction to such information has long been the optimistic “Congratulations.”

Over the course of her smoke, Katerina revealed that it was a mostly good thing and that they split because he lives two time zones away.  In an attempt to find the good news in a painful situation, I offered “That’s a good reason to split if for no other reason than the fact that he didn’t inspire you to want to move.”

Eventually Katerina thanked us for the smoke and the company and returned to her friends.  Before we left the bar, she returned twice more for a tobacco intermezzo and some of the breezy yet serious conversation that is most easily found with imperfect strangers.  On her final visit, Katerina broached the subject of the distance again.

“How do I know the difference between not wanting to move and not being inspired to move?” She asked.

“You don’t really know the difference until one exists.  In my little world, if someone really makes your socks roll up and down, you’ll want to do certain things… like move out west because that’s where he is.  Or he’d want to move here, or you two might find some hybrid between because you want home to be wherever they are.  You see, the veracity of anything we have planned for our lives is never truly known until it’s tested.  I used to think, and now think again, that I don’t want to have children.  Then one day I was knocked on my ass by a love I had never even known could exist.  That exceptional woman wanted children and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world for me to want them too.”

“I never knew that” OSSL interrupted but I was on too much of a roll to respond to his statement.

“We believe all of these things about our world and what we want and then suddenly an unordinary love comes along and shakes our sensibilities like a fucking snow globe.  Only in the face of that test are a lot of our really core ‘deal-breakers’ and ‘must haves’ really proven.  It doesn’t happen often and sometimes not even easily, but it’s that exception that you just know, that you feel in the deepest part of your soul.  Call it the Doctrine of Love’s Exceptionalism.”

In that instant, I realized two things 1) I had shifted from answering Katerina’s question and started speaking for some part of me, and 2) that I had to forgive Carrie for marrying Big.

*****

Ya know, just in case any of you ever need to know what kind of cigars your favorite restaurant refugee likes to smoke.


It’s That Time of Year Again – International Crush Day

16 February 2010

A year ago some blog friends were hosting a Happy Hour with the theme “It’s Just a Little Crush.” While a business trip kept me away from the boozefest, I extrapolated the concept to propose that 20 February be declared International Crush Day.

Among the things I wrote at the time:

I endorse, embrace, and enthusiastically support the crush.

In the same way that some would argue that the single cell organism is the purest form of life, I argue that the crush is the purest form of affection.  It is perfect, wholly contained, and needs no augment.  It can exist in a personal vacuum absent acknowledgment or reciprocity.  The Crush can be romantic, professional, artistic, vocational, social, bloggerational, and can even exist within the confines of a healthy relationship.  The crush is perfect.

To have a Crush is to engage whimsy, to embrace possibility, and in the extreme case to wrap oneself in the courage of romance.

So it’s that time again.  I encourage all of you to spend some time this Friday (International Crush Day is the rare holiday that ought to be celebrated a day in advance when falling on a weekend) declaring your appreciation to someone you’ve been crushing on.  It doesn’t matter what kind of crush it is, or whether it is based on affection or admiration.  What matters is telling someone that you like the way they make you smile when they enter a room, bend a phrase, play a horn, or curl a lip when having the first sip of coffee.  Whatever it is that makes you tingle, tell someone – across the room, or across the country, embrace the notion.

********

p.s. please feel free to re-blog this, tweet about it, Facebook it or whatever other new media thingamabob you wish.


Visiting an Old Love – The Rest of the Story

26 January 2010

Easy banter and casual flirtation became the tangible, the inevitable on the night of my going away party.  It wasn’t my speech about why I am a horrible person to date, or YALIUD asking me why I never asked her on a date.  It became inevitable the moment the she and I caught eyes as the band started to play Besame Mucho.  It was the look of mutual agreement, of adult coconspirators acknowledging a carnal pact.

A few hours later we were a collapsed mass of tangled bodies and damp skin.  Spent but thirsty from drink and activity, I fetched two glasses of water from YALIUD’s kitchen.

“You know that I work as much as you do, right?” was the question YALIUD gently asked when I got back to the bed.

She was right, our schedules were different but the volume of hours was roughly the same.  We made a go of it for a couple of months.  Drinks after my shift, or dinner at the bar of the restaurant one or two nights a week, and most Sunday mornings – that was the routine.  And like most routines, it grew old fast.  We had lost the light, the breezy, the banter that made it so pleasurable in the first place.

When we first ended the unnamed thing that we were doing, we both had difficulty not using the other as a stress relieving crutch.  It made her career driven move to New York City easier.

We traded emails over the ensuing years, had drinks together if we were in the same city (unless one of us was dating someone else,) and somehow kept a very weak but very real tether to each other.

Last week, after the happiness and the hugs, after a cocktail or two, after the conversations about making partner and her buying her flat, after eyelashes were lowered slowly and legs crossed carefully, the question finally came.

“Refugee, why didn’t we try harder?  Why didn’t you try harder?”

“YALIUD, you know if we try to hold too tight we’ll find a way to choke it, not make it more secure.”

“Yeah, I know, but I like knowing that you’ve thought about the question too.”


Moths Have Candles – Apparently I Have Hot Attorneys… or How YALIUD and I met – the Full Story

24 January 2010

YALIUD and I met back in 2004.  Close to eleven and a few times a week, she would arrive at the bar of the restaurant I was running at the time.  Three years removed from law school, she was a mid-level and fast-tracked associate at a white shoe law firm.  Most nights she would have a single malt while perusing the menu (for no good reason as she only ordered a pair of the same four things) and scribbling on a yellow legal pad.  When her appetizer arrived, she would move to a glass of red wine – whatever we recommended – and continue scribbling.  By the time the entrée arrived, she was ready to nurse her second glass and put away her work.

We were a convenient anesthetic for her as we were only a block away from her condo and we had a habit of sending her a complimentary dessert, and always ensured that someone walked her home if she had enough for that to be prudent.  The nights of her visits fluctuated, but she was always there on Tuesdays – the night that I chose to keep my bartending skills sharp.  We would always do the three drink, 45 minutes of work, maybe one more dance.  After a few weeks of regular patronage, she asked me for “a last drink of the night.”

After a few moderately successful but far from spectacular attempts, we settled on the Long Kiss Goodnight as her valedictory drink.  It was the right balance of soft, and spice, and cream and subtle for her.  She and I had the casual flirtation that is a tool a bartender’s uses more frequently than any jigger or shaker, but nothing further.

YALIUD had been coming to the restaurant for several months when I invited her to my private “Going Away” party for my last night there.  I was headed to another, higher end, restaurant.  One of the my favorite bands was going to play, one of my favorite distributors donated plenty of booze for the open bar, one of my favorite bartenders from another bar was kind enough to “guest” that night so all of the staff could attend.

“Have you ever seen the movie Good Will Hunting” YALIUD asked me as soon as she arrived at the party and before I could even say hello.

“It’s one of my favorites… according to my definition of favorites which is movies I have seen at least seven times and would watch again tonight” I replied.

“Ferfuckssaake, do you have to use every question as an excuse to pontificate?” YALIUD stated testily.

I wanted to give some variation of the “have you met me” defense but I have learned enough to know that sarcasm’s most receptive audience is not an angry woman – even more so when you don’t know why she’s angry.  I went with “Sorry – bad habit” instead.

“You know that scene in the Will and Skylar first meet in the bar?”  YALIUD said in what was only partly a question.

“Yeah” was my very cautious reply, you know the kind of “yeah” that takes almost three syllables to articulate because you’re not sure where things are going and don’t think you’ll like the destination.

“As she’s leaving she walks over to Will and says ‘You’re an idiot’”

“Right.”

“Yeah, well, you’re an idiot.  Why have you never asked me out?”

Mission Control to Mouth, Mission Control to Mouth, come in Mouth.

Mouth here, go ahead Mission Control.

Mouth, you are instructed to proceed with extreme caution.  The very attractive, and slightly annoyed woman is a notoriously dangerous creature – move forward with great care and godspeed, Mouth…. Mission Control out.

“May I get you a drink while I think of the best way to explain my obvious stupidity?”

I went behind the bar and grabbed the hidden bottle of scotch, Glen Garioch 21 year old, that I reserved for really great or really craptastic nights.   I poured two fingers into a heavy bottom rocks glass and returned to YALIUD.

“The explanation for my idiocy is more complicated than you might think” I said while placing the rich and complex single malt in her hand.  “You asked, so you’re going to get the full answer.  You are a stunning woman with a rapier wit and intelligence that you wear so gracefully.  Only a moron wouldn’t find you incredibly attractive.  But I’m in the restaurant business, which means that I generally avoid dating my guests because it’s most often bad for business.  Of course, I have made exceptions and I would be lying if I said I never thought about dating you.  The real problem is that despite the light flexibility of the aforementioned rule, there is no flexibility about staff asking out a guest.  I have fired people for doing that, so certainly couldn’t do it myself.”

YALIUD’s look made it clear that she understood my point, but I sensed a need to preempt the next question, now that I am leaving…

“And as much as I’d love to take you to dinner sometime, now that I am going to another restaurant, you should know what it’s like to date someone who runs a restaurant:

  • I will break plans with you at the last minute a minimum of three times before we actually have dinner
  • Most frequently we would only see each other after midnight
  • We would never get together on a Friday or Saturday night because I will always work those nights
  • When we do, finally, go to dinner, I will be interrupted by phone calls at least twice and leave you sitting at the table while I attempt to resolve the crisis du jour over the phone
  • I will never get to meet any of your friends unless you bring them to the restaurant, and even then I will have severely limited amounts of time to spend with you
  • Our social life will exist, by necessity, based on my schedule and there won’t be much that I can do to change that
  • I will be constantly distracted and preoccupied with thoughts of the restaurant.

“You still want to go on a date with me?”

“Wow, that was like a bad romantic comedy all condensed into forty seconds there” YALIUD replied snarkastically.  “You’re right, I probably don’t want to date you any more… taking you home is a different story though.”


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.


Lessons Learned from my Adventures in Online Dating

1 December 2009

  1. Apparently, every man inflates his height by at least two inches
  2. People who claim to “look X number of years younger” usually have a maturity level that is multiplier of X number of years younger too.
  3. Less than 10% of women are more attractive than their pictures upon first meeting. Usually it’s the women with the accidental and or group photos who are in that 10%
  4. There ought to be a mandatory “honesty window” after the first drink, during which one or both parties are afforded opportunity to end a date without explanation or harsh feelings.
  5. The slim response rate to “real” emails (differentiated from the vulgar, the one liners, the barely literate) encourages men to use such passive approaches like the wink, woo, or whatever one-click measure a given site has.
  6. Despite the slim odds expressed in #5, the wink is still the hallmark of a lazy flirt and/or an inactive mind.
    1. Rule #6 applies primarily to men. Yes, it’s a double standard, yes, all men need to get over it.
  7. If a woman is interested in you, there is no volume of messages in her inbox that will delay a response to a well written message.
  8. Women with only one picture posted have a tendency to prefer an informational imbalance. That passive power play will extend to other areas of virtual and actual interaction.
  9. Match algorithms are a terrific guide, but musical preferences are an incredibly accurate predictor of compatibility.
  10. Women who don’t read are almost certainly going to be poor conversationalists (further evidence provided in the form of Sarah Palin.)
  11. Just as a gentleman doesn’t have the option of refusing a drink from a lady (he is required to offer at least 10 minutes of polite conversation,) he is similarly obliged to respond to all valid initial messages from a woman… if only to encourage the practice of women choosing rather then waiting to be chosen.
  12. The existence of true chemistry cannot be confirmed via email exchanges but the absence of it can.
  13. Women and men who are obviously hiding something in their pictures (i.e. – always wearing hats, all pictures taken from slimming angles, facial close-ups only) have esteem issues.  This shouldn’t inherently eliminate them, but it is an important data point.
  14. Optimism is a good thing – I know six married couples who met via electronic assistance, and three more who are engaged or about to be – but should never be confused with the over-eager.
  15. Reasonable caution and pessimism shouldn’t be confused, one is pragmatic, the other unattractive.
  16. The effort may not always be appreciated or rewarded, but one should always dress with some effort and intention.  Failure to exhibit effort may be a sign of latent pessimism.
  17. Always have a reason to meet someone in person. “Why not,” ego boosts, and “nothing better to do” are not reasons.

This list was originally drafted in response to a message received from a woman and her list of lessons.  Feel free (not like any of you lovely blogtarts* need permission to express your opinions) to disagree with any of the aforementioned and/or add your own.

* term lifted from the incredibly talented author the Skrinkering Hearts blog, a woman I am delighted to call a virtual friend.


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