Happy Friday

8 July 2011

If I ever get around to writing the movie script/novel that I am convinced lives in some recessed corner of my head, the following text message conversation will make an appearance:

Her: it’s too late for you to come over.

Him: um, ok?

Her: At this hour, a lady should not be receiving company lest the concierge at her building think her less than lady like.

Him: soooo… meet you at the garage entrance?

Her: See you in ten minutes.


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.


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.


I Asked, You Answered, I Dated, and I…

10 August 2010

I was looking forward to my date with the Conservative Nutter in the way that I anticipate an ultra deep tissue massage – you know it’s gonna hurt like hell but the results (a good blog post at worst) are worth it.

I prefer to arrive at first dates (especially online dates) early. Call it a function of my anal-retentive punctuality, or a tactical decision to get the seat with the best vantage points, either way twenty minutes before the appointed hour, I was seated on the courtyard patio of one of my favorite winebars.

CN was on time but underwhelming. From fifteen yards away, I could tell that her pictures were 30 pounds out of date. Five yards out, I could tell the pictures were 5 years old too. It’s not that she was suddenly unattractive or that she was outside of the rather broad range of women I find appealing, rather it’s the feeling of being duped. Bait-and-Switch is not a phrase that should apply to dating and I’m also not thrilled about the self-image issues associated with clearly deceptive images. The thoughts bounced through my head but weren’t given display on my face or in deed.

We seemed to have a certain instant comfort – there was no awkward “is that really you” moment, no hug-oops-handshake-oops-hug – and we jumped quickly into typical first-date conversations.

I wish I could you write that there were some particularly blog-juicy moments, or some grand manifestation of our political differences, but they just weren’t there. CN was about as conservative as she seemed but she wasn’t really a nutter as much as she was grossly uniformed. While there wasn’t overt flirting (at least from my side of the table) there was some casual curiosity if not a very low flame of chemistry. But that was it. No great stories to be told, or lines to be relived.

The woman I met at the bar after I left my brief date, yeah, about her there are stories to be told and a night to be relived… and I’ll tell that story tomorrow.


So I Need to be Careful What I Ask You For

6 August 2010

I am man enough to admit that I haven’t been a very good blogger lately (yeah, yeah, I know some of you are thinking “lately?”) I haven’t posted much this summer, I bailed on doing NaBloPoMo in July, I’ve abandoned a few stories without finishing, and I’ve been terrible about responding to the comments left by the lovely half-dozen readers that are still here.

Thus, when a few people suggested that I go on a date with a woman who may or may not be a complete nutter, I decided I had to do it. Not just because, as the Foggy Dew noted, being hot can overcome a multitude of failures (yes, my friend, I paraphrased you; get over it.) But really because as my favourite blonde wrote “if [I] realllly loved [you]…[my] loyal readers..[I] would court her for sport… and record it here for our enjoyment.”

I am not a fan of dating for sport. It’s cruel, objectifying, demeaning, and I know Suicide Blonde didn’t mean it that way. I am no more a fan of the fade-away technique, slow, fast or intermediate speed, it just doesn’t work for me. As my favorite Yogi noted, I “don’t want to be one of THOSE guys who just disappears, further adding to the cynicism and doubt that’s now inherent in online dating.”

So I’m going on a date tonight. I’m gonna dress in a first date suit and wear a particular shade of optimism. I will keep my mind open… but yeah, I’ll be twittering during bathroom breaks… assuming that it lasts that long.


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.


For Whom Doth The Sexy Bell Toll?

19 April 2010

My very dear friend, The Only Slightly Sleazy Lobbyist, and I deluded ourselves into thinking that we were still athletes one recent Sunday.  We played a couple of hours of “hang-over tennis” on a gorgeous afternoon.  After removing protective knee braces, ankle supports, and our respectively bruised egos, we made our way back across the river to grab some beer and sit on his patio with his neighbor and our friend, The Pistol.

The Pistol earned her nickname because of her fierce mind, liberal politics, staunch feminism, irreverent wit, and more than occasionally profane vocabulary.   She is near the top of both of our lists of favorite people.

As we were leaving the corner store with a few six packs of Bell’s Oberon in tow, OSSL told me that he had recently received an email from Southern Charmer, once a relatively recent college grad who OSSL helped land a job in his field.

“Refresh my memory, which one is the Southern Charmer?” I inquired.

“You met her that night at Cashion’s.”

“OSSL, over the years, I’ve met more than a couple of women with you at Cashion’s, more information please.”

“She was the one with the really see-through shirt and the great rack.”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, I remember her now. How’s she doing?”

“Eh, she’s alright I suppose… she’s just contacting me because she wants to change jobs.”

“Refresh my memory about why you stopped dating her?” I asked.

“We weren’t dating, I was just helping her out.”

“You took her to a nice restaurant, you each dressed for the occasion, you paid the tab, you two flirted.  Call it whatever you want but it still smells like a rose.”

“Fine, whatever, but it stopped that night you two met… it was the hypocrisy that really turned me off” OSSL declared in a partial confirmation of the rosy aroma.

“What hypocrisy?” I asked.

“Well, she wears this see through shirt with her rather large rack on display in some fucking Victoria Secret Wonderbra, and then bitches about how ‘gross’ it was that men always leered at her.  I mean, you can’t have it both ways.  When a woman wears a shirt like that it’s because she wants men to leer at her.”

“Pump your brakes for a second” I replied.  “I’m not saying it’s likely you’re wrong, but it is dangerous to ascribe motivations to the actions of others.  I’ll concede that she might have been foolish not to expect the looks, but it’s not appropriate to suggest that she actively wanted them.”

“I call bullshit on that” OSSL fired back, “Women who dress that way want that kind of attention.”

By this point, we were parking the car. I tried to make my point more clear – “I’m saying that you’re probably right in your assertions about Southern Charmer, as you are probably right about most women who attire themselves that way, however, it is a bridge too far to suggest that all women who wear something revealing or particularly sexy do so for the attentions of men.  Perhaps they dress for themselves, perhaps they wear something like that because it makes them feel sexy.”

We argued for a few moments more before I said “Let’s let The Pistol weigh in on this… and I’ll bet she’ll agree with me.

The Pistol was already sitting on OSSL’s porch when we rounded the corner of his building.  We popped three bottle caps and immediately delved into the conversation.

“I gotta say, I am more aligned with OSSL on this one” The Pistol said in a declaration that surprised all three of us.  “For most women, sexy is inter-related with how other people react to us… and I would bet that the same is true for men too.”

“I’m not saying that reaction from women isn’t a part of it for men, and vice versa for women, just that it is only a part of it.  More importantly, I am stating that surely some women, and men too, dress exclusively for how it makes them feel.  She surely would be a fool to expect that with her boobs essentially on display that men wouldn’t look.”  It was another unsuccessful attempt to convince OSSL and The Pistol of my point.

“Refugee, are you seriously telling me that when you wear one of those fancy suits of yours” The Pistol began before pausing briefly and concluding with “You really don’t wear them for how women respond to you in them?”

“Pistol, I have three kinds of suits in my closet: good suits, great suits, and meeting ex-girlfriends suits.  When I wear the latter, there is an extra spring in my step but that spring exists on my way to the Metro before I have seen another person.  I wear those suits for me first, and any extra attention I get from women is just the cherry atop the sartorial sundae.”

We argued for a few more minutes before I admitted the failure of my persuasion and changed the subject to that day’s edition of Meet the Press…. But, Gentle Readers, I pose these questions to you:

  • Does a woman wearing something revealing inherently want the eyes or attention of men, or women if she is so oriented?
  • Is it possible for women to wear something risqué just because of how it makes them feel and not as a cry for that attention?
  • Or does the answer exist in some other explanation?

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.


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.


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