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.


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.


Navel Gazing of No Great Importance

1 August 2010

I was walking through a familiar and frequently traveled neighborhood but had no idea I was lost and mostly adrift until I ran into a professional acquaintance who asked me where I was headed. I paused for longer than can be ignored in polite conversation before finally responding “I have no fucking idea.”

All of the makings for a delightfully lazy Sunday where there – absence of agenda, a couple of cigars in my bag, and Washington Post and New York Times under my arm. Yet, I didn’t find comfort in this but was rather awash with ambivalence and on a quest for something I could no better define than I could reasonably hope to find.

I stopped at a too-slick-for-its-own-good Irish bar for a Half & Half and to watch some baseball. I left after three innings and one pint, driven away by annoying Philly fans (redundancy intended) on my left and a couple of blathering, bobble-head blondes to to my right.

I had another iced americano at a corporate coffeehouse and watched nothing of significance occur while trying to tackle some of the tasks on my too long to-do list. A summer rain, that I found more annoying than refreshing, began to fall. Any excuse to go find a beer.

I moved down the block in search of something but willing to use a beer as a proxy for the unknown and was struck by the sight of a hotel that had some memories attached to it. The memories and the woman associated with them had never been too far from my thoughts but rarely were they this close.

I once wrote “Time plays parlor tricks with memories of all but the most horrific relationships, and time was pulling half dollars from my ear for what was surely too long.” This was another one of those moments – every good moment, every great conversation, every stolen glance, every perfect kiss and every perfect night was stubbornly in my head. I’m not certain of how long I stood there, or how long it took for harsh reality to mingle with utopian ideals, but of course they did.

I wasn’t certain then, nor do I have definitive clarity as I write this, if that moment helped crystallize the void I could not label or define. By the time I got to my next band-aided destination, the question was immaterial. I did, however, engage the bartender in a toast to “muddled memories, definitions of the murky, and women that got away.”


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.


A Few Short & Open Letters from the Week

17 January 2010

To the older gentleman & your impossibly good looking wife who sat across from me at the coffeeshop, watching you help your wife with her coat was the sweetest gesture I had seen all day, and made me just a touch sad because so few young men know (or bother) to do such gracious things.

To the 20 something couple from Philly who asked me about restaurants (oddly enough without knowing that this is my area of expertise,) I hope you had a good time at Cashion’s and thank you for helping your fiancée with her coat – it restored a little faith.

To the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, and Dallas Cowboys, somehow you all conspired to convert a great football weekend with really intriguing match-ups into a complete snoozefest.   Have fun this off-season.

To the very good looking Ginger who sat next to me at the cigar bar, complained about the smell of my La Aroma de Cuba while chain smoking Camel Lights, I would have happily moved to another seat sooner had you asked me politely instead of rudely grumbling about it to the bartender.  Perhaps that tramp-stamp tattoo should have read “Chutzpah for Days” not “too sexy 4 U*”

To the car-service driver, Tony, when your passenger would rather fake a phone call instead of talking to you, that might be a good indication that you talk just a wee bit too much.

To the Ritz Carlton bartender, flirting with my date is a pretty sure way to get me to leave your bar, leave you a mediocre tip, and give a call to your F&B director… after I have calmed down enough to not spit nails into the phone.

To the woman who used to be a friend, when I told you that “you need to stop trying to fuck away your problems one random cock at a time” I really was trying to be helpful.  Contrary to your expressed belief, taking a different guy home every night is not “owning your sexuality” it is expressing your insecurity and rubbing salt in those emotional wounds.

To the baby who kept trying to give me his pacifier in the subway, I really appreciated your generosity but I was pretty certain that you were going to need it later, your smile was gift enough for me.

* I really wish I was making that up.


Dancing with Your Own Devils in the Pale Moonlight

10 January 2010

For a man who gets paid to notice things in restaurants, I can be horrifically unobservant when I am really into something else – book, newspaper, conversation, or even my own thoughts.  Thiswas the case one recent evening when I was enjoying a cigar, a bourbon, and the editorial section of the New York Times at one of my usual haunts.  I didn’t notice the striking woman in the winter white pant suit until she was standing at my bar table.

“Hi there” she opened; “I need you to settle a bet for me” she continued without giving me opportunity to return her salutation.

“Good evening” I said while rising from my chair.  “How may I help you settle this bet; and would you care to have a seat while we resolve this?”

“Thank you, I would like to sit… and I’m Jessica”

“Jessica, I’m Refugee; it’s a pleasure to meet you.  Now what is the bet?”

“Well, my girlfriends and I” she said while pointing to two women sitting at the far end of the bar “saw your wedding ring…”

“Not  a wedding ring as I am wearing it on my right hand ring finger” I corrected.

“Exactly.  That’s the question.  We have it narrowed down to: you’re from some country where they wear wedding bands on that hand but I think your lack of an accent eliminates that, or you’re actually married but shift the ring to the other hand when you go to bars, or you’re gay and wear that ring to let other men know you’re available.”

I snickered a bit at the options before replying “There are a couple of flaws in your logic.  If I was the kind of married man who switched his ring in bars, why would I ever admit to it?  Also, I am not positive about this, but I am fairly sure that gay people, especially gay women wear rings on the thumb to indicate such – though that may just be an old wives tale.”

“OK, let’s check your left ring finger for tan lines then” Jessica said with a bit of a smile.

She inspected my hand and declared my hands tan-line free.  “You didn’t answer the question about being gay” Jessica noted.

“No, I didn’t… I am straight” I acknowledged and answered.

“So why the ring?” she pressed.

“It’s a long story, but the short version is that I bought it as a gift to myself and a reminder of the lessons I tried to learn when I took a yearlong sabbatical from women several years ago.”

Just as I finished, Jessica’s two girlfriends arrived at the table demanding to know the verdict on the bet.

“Well, none of us were right.  Apparently, Refugee here has another reason having to do with a ‘sabbatical from women’”

I stood and formerly introduced myself to Stephanie and Maria.  They sat down and we ordered another round of drinks.  Before the cocktails arrived, Maria asked “So tell us more about this sabbatical.”

I laughed to myself before answering “You know, I am normally much more of an open book type of guy, but that’s just a bit more than I am willing to discuss this evening.”

I hadn’t meant for that to be a conversational grenade, but the table was silent for an uncomfortable moment.  Stefanie broke the quiet with “Well then, Mr.-Normally-An-Open-Book-Refugee, what would you be doing if we hadn’t crashed your table?”

I drained the last of my bourbon as our server had just brought the next round and said “Literally just having a drink, smoking a cigar, reading and waiting for a phone call that I don’t expect to come… metaphorically, I’d be running towards the football and foolishly thinking that Lucy won’t snatch it away again… maybe starting another sabbatical.”


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