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.

     

 


Introductions – The Good, The Bad, and The Fraudulent

8 October 2010

When I got to one of my favorite watering holes, the only seat at the small bar was next to two guys (deliberate use of the term.) Both were more than a couple of drinks into their evening – a red flag given the fact that it was barely after 6pm on a Thursday. They were annoying but affable. Their conversation was two notches louder than polite society dictates but they were discussing the relative merits of various Sinatra songs.

I was content to try and ignore them and work on my computer until they were consternating about the meaning of “I wanna wake up in a city that never sleeps.” The line from the classic and iconic song New York, NY didn’t make sense to either – “how can one wake in a city that rejects sleep” they kept asking the other. As a bit of a Sinatra Nerd and a man that has a problem with not answering questions when I know the answer, I finally interrupted to explain that “It’s metaphorical; he wants his life to begin – to wake up – in NYC.” After a couple of added and explanatory comments I returned to my computer and they returned to the loud, the singing, the annoying but affable.

Eventually the guy two stools to my left departed, and the one hard next to me asked for his tab. I was convinced that my evening was about to be free of them, until an attractive 30something blonde walked in and took the seat of the first of this duo to depart.

The next part of this story is as predictable as a sunrise – the remaining guy delayed his departure to try his best to find a reason to stay and talk with the pretty lady. He was still drunk and still annoying, but the lady was too polite to dismiss him. I kept an ear and eye on the evolution of their conversation (probably because I have a low grade savior complex when it comes to women in these kinds of situations.) When I heard the tell-tale sign of eroding civility, “we’ll have to agree to disagree,” I suspected that the interaction was nearing the tipping point. It took me another ten seconds to catch her gaze; at which point, she looked at me and gave him an eye-roll.

I took a deep pull from my beer, hoped that I correctly read the situation, and proceeded to intercede.

“Pardon me for interrupting; I saw you when you walked in but I wasn’t sure it was you from your pictures… I hope you’re here to meet me. I’m Refugee.”

She took just a beat too long (if the rouse was to fool a sober person, but fine for this moment) to recognize and respond to the play, but once she got it, she went with it.

“So nice to meet you; I kinda thought that was you too, I was just about to call you. I’m Hazel, so nice to finally meet you after all of the emails we traded… let me just wrap up this conversation and I’ll come over.”

The drunk dude left (but not before slurring gin too close to her one more time.) Hazel moved a seat over for appearances. “Thank you for helping me out there, I’m never any good at getting out of those situations… you said your name’s Refugee, right?”

“Yes, Refugee, and it’s nice to meet you.”

We chatted for a while after our introduction. I gave her some advice about avoiding the type of conversation that precipitated our meeting – little white lies are helpful. She gave me some advice about the date I had later – a woman would rather be captivating than engaging. We parted with a hug and good luck wishes all around.



Coffeeshop Conversations with an Ex

6 September 2010



Dirty Do-Gooder: Why didn’t you ever shave your head when we were dating?

RR: I suppose I could ask you the same thing about the thigh-highs you were wearing the last time we ran into each other.

DDG: first that’s a bullshit equivalence, second you didn’t answer the question, and third, how the fuck did you know I was wearing thigh highs?

RR: shall I address your points in chronological order or by degree of magnitude that they annoyed you?

DDG: Ya know, every time I start to wonder why I dumped you, you drop one of those sentences with a whole bag full of words and I don’t have to wonder any more.

RR: I know you actually love that about me so you can protest all you want… and I ‘ll just move along to your questions. You’re right, it was a false equivalence, but it tickled me to say it. Regarding the underlying query, we dated in the winter and I only shave my head during the summers and even then infrequently…

DDG: and the thigh-highs?

RR: we stopped dating, I didn’t go blind or lose my powers of observation… There was a moment at the bar when you recrossed your legs. There was just a sliver of the top band of lace that showed before you adjusted your skirt.

DDG: for the record, I never knew you had a preference for thigh-highs… not that we dated long enough for me to learn those things.

RR: also for the record, I’m calling bullshit on that. You’re too smart not to know that every straight man likes thigh-highs… if only because so few women wear them these days. And I’m pretty sure you know that because you were waiting for your date that night we saw each other at the bar. Speaking of which how did it go?

DDG: put it this way: it’s a good thing that someone noticed the stockings, because there was no way in hell he was going to see them.

RR: so what did he do that was so bad?

DDG: first he was late without calling or texting. Second, he ordered a Long Island [Iced Tea] like he was some undergrad trying to get maximum bang for the buck. And third, he actually suggested we go to Lauriol Plaza for dinner after drinks. I really blame you for the snobbery of most of that – you’re like some highly contagious elitist infection.

RR: I’ll happily take that description, but only because I know you and know that you meant it with love. So, where did you meet this clown?

DDG: OK-Harmony-Match-JDate, who even knows anymore.

RR: I hate to say it, but you do know that the only constant in your string of lame dates is you, right?

DDG: You realize that you’re among the people counted in that string of lameness, right?

RR: Touche, even though I might argue that we had great dates just different priorities and objectives.

DDG: Yeah, but I’m still calling you lame.

RR: fine, but it seems that you can’t stay away from my lameness these days. What is this, the third time in a week or so that you keep appearing in places where I am? What are you, some kind of stalker?

DDG: I prefer the term “Enthusiastic Follower” thank you very much.

RR: the really funny thing for me is that for the last ten days I keep running into women I used to date all over the place. Including you, I’ve seen a half-dozen ex’s in that time frame.

DDG: how many of them did you have to hide from?

RR: I only actively avoided two… which is probably three less than I should have.

DDG: What’s that line from When Harry Met Sally? “You’re gonna have to move back to New Jersey because you’ve slept with everybody in New York.” Maybe you need to start packing, Mr. Refugee.


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?


Buried Leads, Great Evenings, and Deal-Breakers

25 August 2010

I spent the better part of the day in bed – body spent, a little hungover, and generally exhausted. I was fairly certain that I would spend this Saturday quietly at home, despite a low murmur of restlessness rumbling in my brain. Then my very dear friend and best date sent me a text message inquiring about my availability for drinks that evening. Lately, Heartbreaker’s schedule has been as crazy as mine so a random night with both of us free was an opportunity not to be wasted.

We settled on early evening drinks at an off-the-beaten-path bar downtown. Joe, our friendly bartender, had already poured Heartbreaker a glass in celebration of ProseccO’clock when I arrived. By the time I had hugged and kissed my nominal date, Joe had stealthily poured me a pint of the beer I drank the first night I met him about a year ago. He’s always so good about getting my libations without prompting, and generally taking very good care that I haven’t had the spirit to tell him that I prefer another drink most nights.

Heartbreaker and I set about catching-up on the random goings-on of our lives. Work stuff, family stuff, and of course, dating stuff. Given that this was the evening after my date with the Conservative Nutter, that unfortunate two hours was discussed at length.

I suppose – just like I have done in this blog post – I buried the lead in recounting the events of the prior night. I took a while to mention that after leaving CN, I met an exceedingly charming woman at another bar later… and had a fatigue inducing night that quenched a number of desert induced thirsts… and that as much as we found delight with each other and in each other, sadly, Jessica and I aren’t suited to dating in the long term.

Heartbreaker was shocked… hell, last night Jessica and I were shocked too when we learned about some fundamental incompatibilities and deal-breakers on each side.

So what’s the problem?” Heartbreaker asked.

The short version: she’s a suburban girl… who wants kids, plural kids-kids” and I am so decidedly not. [ed. note: I acknowledge this exception, but that doesn’t change the rule]

Really” Heartbreaker questioned, “Is that really that big of a deal?”

Yeah, it really is. She works downtown, lives in the suburbs and kinda just tolerates the city. She likes that, is happy with that, and that is just incompatible with the life I want. It’s a deal-breaker.”

Heartbreaker accepted that status and we moved along to other subjects, and our favorite pizza joint. We always sit at the bar, preferably the side that overlooks the pizza making station and with a direct view of the wood-fired oven. At a certain point, I got a little lost in the movement of the flame and the choreography of the pizza chefs.

Why would anyone want to sit anywhere but these two seats?” I asked Heartbreaker. And that question led me back to the topic of deal-breakers.

I would never want to date a woman who would prefer those booths to these seats… I guess sometimes you don’t know what you’re some of your deal-breakers are until you cross them.


Insomnia Friday – Thoroughly Random Thoughts

2 July 2010

Insomnia’s been intermittently kicking my ass for the better part of the last 20 years. I cannot recall a stretch that has been as bad as the last few months.

…in other news, Netflix on Demand has been a friendly and faithful companion lately.

…in still other news, the movie TAPS somehow has endured the years quite well.

_______

My Week in Bars…

To the lovely barmaid with the pixie cut who kept me in good beer at Fat Heads in Pittsburgh, you’re the kind of restaurant professional who makes me wish that I still ran a restaurant just so I could hire you.

To the blowhards sitting next to me at The Uptown in Chicago, I appreciate the very strong feelings you so loudly expressed about illegal immigration. By the by, I wonder who picked the avocados for that five dollar guacamole you were eating?

_______

So here’s a question for you all…

Recently I found myself in the company of a woman whose professional acquaintance I had just formally made after several email exchanges. After the business portion of the evening, she invited me to join her and several others for cocktails. The preponderance of the others were men, and it was evident that most of them had a more substantive social relationship with her than I, and I also suspect that most of them were quietly interested in her. At a certain point in the evening, this woman began to be less than delicate in concealing her knickers given the length of her skirt. I presume that the booze was the primary factor.

How does one discreetly tell a woman that she is being less than discreet?

How does one discreetly tell a woman he does not know well that it might be time for her to go home… especially given that she is surrounded by closet suitors who have known her longer?

_______

Get well soon, Tracee Hamilton. You are my favorite WaPo sports columnist these days, and I will miss your voice.

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The One Question Meme: if you could create a version of Netflix that would enable you to have short term rentals of something on a revolving basis, what would it be?

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Something you should know about drinks…

If you’ve ever had a Bellini, chances are you’ve not had a good one. The Bellini is perhaps the simplest of all classic cocktails with only two ingredients, prosecco and white peach puree. It is also one of the most commonly mishandled where people substitute fresh peach puree with something from a can or even worse – fucking wretched Peach Schnapps. Invented by Giuseppi Cipriani in 1948 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, the Bellini, when made with fresh and honest ingredients and poured into a proper champagne flute, immediately evokes elegance and sophistication.

  • 3 white peaches peeled and diced
  • 1 bottle of champagne
  • In a blender, puree the peaches. (If you’re like me and sensitive to pulp then run the peach puree through cheese cloth after blending.) Pour 1 ounce of pureed peach into a flute and top with 4 ounces of champagne.

I have also made variations on the Bellini with pears, green apples, and mangoes. The most import thing is to get good and in-season fruit.

______

This post is tacit acknowledgement that there is a small chance that I am going to participate in NaBloPoMo for July… I gotta do something to get myself above my non-writing / non-blogging rut.


In Other News, Clichés are Clichés for a Reason

17 April 2010

“There is nothing more dangerous that a woman does than getting drunk in public.”

That chauvinistic declaration, with some elements of truth, belonged to my father and the first time I can recall hearing it was around age eight.  For reasons best left to a therapist to explain, those words have stuck with me and resonated in my behavior.

The thought crossed my mind recently as I watched a 30somthing woman weeble her way down a subway platform taking anything but the shortest distance between points A and B.  She wasn’t my responsibility and I had no intention of making her so, but I did keep a cautious eye on her… just in case something really bad was to happen.

When the train arrived we both made our way to the same door.  She grabbed different poles with each hand but still was less than steady as the train moved.  At one point, she leaned her hip against the pole I was holding, pinning my hand there.  My instinct was to prop her up, offer a steadying hand, but I resisted because no one wants to be seen as the guy trying to take advantage of the drunk girl.  Two stops after our boarding location, we exited the train. She walked the first set of escalators – zigzagging her way.  When we reached the second set of escalators, she again walked for a bit before surrendering and standing still.  I walked past her for a few steps before the momentum of nature or nurture (jump ball) could not be quelled and I turned to ask her “When we get topside, may I help you get a cab?”

“No, no, I’ll be ok” she replied with a surprising level of syllabic acuity.

I assured her that “we’ve all been there” and that it’s “not a big deal” while I tried to make the argument that walking home, even the two blocks she needed to travel, wasn’t a good idea.  I volleyed, she countered but her protestations where not very vehement.  Eventually, after we had ascended the last escalator, I had to exercise the guilt option – “My grandma would be really upset if I let you walk home by yourself; I’d walk you home myself but you don’t know me so that wouldn’t be a good thing.”

“It’s only two blocks, I can make it” she said before taking my face in her hands, getting kissing-distance close and saying “I’ll be fine.”

“I’m not worried about your ability to get there, I’m concerned about all of the people you’ll pass on your way there – look there’s a cab right now” I said while waving him over. “Cab’s here, just take it as fait accompli.”

She got in the cab and I paid the driver enough to take her those two blocks with a sufficiently large tip that I am hoping he made sure she got inside as I asked him to do.

Two nights later, I was sitting in the bar where I was headed the night that I helped that woman into a cab when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“We met the other night, but I never caught your name” the same woman said.

“I’m Restaurant Refugee” I replied using my full name for introductions the way that Miss Manners has taught me.

She thanked me for getting her home, insisted on buying me a drink as compensation, and then explained that despite the fact that she was grateful, thinks me a gentleman and kinda cute, cannot date me because she could never get past the embarrassment of our first meeting.

…and the trend of good deeds not going unpunished continues.

…as does the trend of attractive women mistakenly thinking that the dating decision is entirely theirs regardless of their behavior.


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


How High the Moon

1 March 2010

It’s Friday night and I had a familiar perch for such an evening, a bar stool.  This barstool however, was in Chicago where I was summoned for an urgent meeting with a new client.  Two stacks of paper and my shiny new netbook, whose name is Ava, are open in front of me.  I tucked into this Lincoln Park bar mostly because there seemed to be plenty of space to lay out my work, and the bartender had an easy smile about her.

Just about the time that I finished my Manhattan a couple of women, who would have gotten noticed even if they were not two of only a few people in the place and a gust of cold air had followed them in the door, entered the bar and took residence a few feet from me.  Their interaction with the bartender suggested that they were regulars if not friends with her.  Without ordering, two glasses of wine appeared on the bar.

I’m mostly ignoring my beer while scribbling notes, clicking keys, and reading reports when one of the women looks in my direction and said “It’s Friday night, why are you still working?”

I took a pausing breath before responding, “Well, I’m in town for work, and there’s still work to be done… being here is better than the service bar in my hotel.”

“Didn’t think you were from here – Chicago guys don’t work on a Friday night.”

A few more random lines were bandied to and fro but they went back to their wine, and I went back to my work after a minute or so.

Just after 8pm my Crackberry buzzed.  I was dumbstruck by the message.  I must have read it four or five times before I exclaimed “Wow” far louder than intended.

“Care to share?” the woman sitting closest to me asked.

This was one of those moments when you have to tell somebody so I just told these two women I was certain I would never see again*.  “So, I write this anonymous blog… well mostly anonymous as I have met a few people through it, but that’s not really germane.  Through the blog, I invented a holiday last week, International Crush Day, dedicated to declaring crushes.  I wrote a blog post declaring a few of my crushes.  I wrote that I crush on Katty Kay because ‘smart with a British accent just sounds better.’”

“You mean Katty Kay from NPR?” one of the women asked.

“From NPR, and the BBC and newspapers, and the Meet the Press, and bunch of other stuff too” I replied.

“Yeah, she is pretty hot” the ladies concurred.

“Well she, Katty Kay for the love of bacon, just left a comment on my blog, and frankly, I’m a little school-girl giddy about it.”

Andi and Monica spent the next hour or so peppering me with questions about the blog.  We spent the next four hours drinking, eating, letting the place fill around us, and talking about whatever, but I was still floating on the notion that one of my famous crushes bothered to send me a message.

* I’ve seen them both again… and just might see them a bit more, but I’ll tell that story tomorrow.


Goodnight, Goodbye, and Good Luck, Old Friend

23 February 2010

My affection for the recently shuttered Polly’s Bar & Grill is at least fifteen years old.  It was never a place for fine dining, or quaffing sublime wines.  If you asked for some frilly nonsensical cocktail, odds were six-to-five-and-pick-em’ that you would be unceremoniously given a PBR or asked to leave.

Nostalgia was easily found when my first visit was in the winter and sat by a wood burning fireplace with a good beer and one of the best chicken sandwiches I‘d ever had.  It was even more ingrained the first time I was considered a sufficiently good regular that I was entrusted/commanded to maintain said fireplace.

As I write this, I am trying to determine my favorite memory of the venerable English Basement joint on U Street.

· There was the insanely good jukebox – for a longtime among the best in the city.

· There were the handful of New Year’s Day brunches I attended with as many people still wearing the clothes form the prior evening as those wearing pajamas.

· There was one day I was obviously on a date with an author I had just met at a signing at a bookstore upstairs.  I, young and relatively broke at the time, had to cut things short because I could only afford to have a couple of drinks.  I asked for the tab when my date went to the ladies room.  The unobtrusively attentive and keenly aware bartender asked me where I was going to take her next.  When I replied “nowhere, I can’t afford to,” she gave me another round and told me to order whatever and worry about it later.

· There was the night a friend and I started with one table but by the end of the night, had pushed together five tables to accommodate the strangers, and friends who joined over the course of several hours.  There may have been a game of “I Never” played that evening.  There may have been a “I have never had sex today” question.  There may have been a couple for whom only one party to a drink.

There are too many memories of Polly’s, too many friendships formed or cemented in that bar.  There were too many lovely evenings, too many first date stories, and a couple of break-up stories too.  Polly’s opened when U street had become a place where people didn’t venture at night.  They gambled on a revitalizing and ultimately gentrifying neighborhood and for many years the return was as high for the owners as it was for the patrons who were the bedrock of the bar’s community that made it such a loveably quirky place.  I suspect that the people who loved it for all of those reasons lost touch with it because of all commercialized for commercialization’s sake that came to surround it.

Polly’s, I thank you for all of the good times.  I will miss you.

******

p.s. Thanks to U Street Girl for alerting me to this news, and to Prince of Petworth for alerting her.


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.


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.”


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