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.”

And the R-Cubies Go To…

29 December 2009

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

And the R-Cubies go to…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dearest Santa – My Open List

20 December 2009

Dearest Santa,

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely, gratefully, yours,

Restaurant Refugee

Lessons Learned from my Adventures in Online Dating

1 December 2009

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

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

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

Playing Poker with Old Foes

9 October 2009

I was the last person to join the poker game and that suited me just fine.  It made me the wild card, the unknown variable.  Inexperienced players usually don’t adjust to changes well and these cats were no exception.  It took six hands for me to become the chip leader, a baker’s dozen before it was just the host and me at the table.

We took a short break so she could say proper valedictions to her dispatched friends and the game resumed with an understanding that a new one had begun.  Playing “heads-up” poker by definition differs from a full table, but our history complicates things.  Did I have an advantage because I could trace the arch of her hips from faded memories?  Did she have an advantage because she knew to kiss the exact spot where my neck meets torso that will buckle a knee?  I didn’t know.  I  did know that I had the bigger stack of chips but that she was dealing from a loaded deck.

Six hands were a virtual draw with us shuffling chips around the table but neither of us gaining tactical advantage.  In the seventh hand, I was slow playing a set of Cowboys and she was waiting for a straight draw after the flop.  As she contemplated her bet, I felt the heat of her with the crossing of her legs and leaning one against mine.

“Do you really think I’m going to show you a tell just because you’re resting your foot against my calve like it belongs there” I asked.

“You just did…” she said while pushing her cards to the middle of the table.  I told myself that it was a lucky guess but I knew she was right.

Suddenly aware of my breathing or vulnerability – it was a jump ball – I broke one of my poker rules and poured another bourbon.  When I returned to my seat I laid down a jack-ten off suit behind a pre-flop raise and her hand rested on my knee as if to say “I knew you would fold – and I’m only partially talking about the game.”

With the cards in my hands and the first shuffle underway, a hand returned to my knee and moved slowly up my thigh.  I wouldn’t make eye contact choosing to instead focus on the suddenly more complicated task of shuffling.  Another hand fell atop mine – I should have folded but I made a big bet.  I stood and rounded the corner of the table and kissed her.  It was instantly familiar: my left hand starting on her cheek and moving to her neck and hair; her right hand starting behind my thigh and moving to the small of my back.

I pulled Jordan from her chair to meet me.  With her facing away from me, she pressed her body to mine while my lips had a conversation with her neck.  There was urgency in her touch and mine. My fingers found the hem of her skirt, the soft of her skin.  Curving around her thigh until the temperature increased, I caught sight of her face in the mirror on the opposite wall.  Watching her closed eyes, slightly parted lips, I suddenly felt like I was spying on her moment.

Refocusing on Jordan, I undid the top button that had been begging for freedom all night.  Fingering the lace of the bra that I’m certain matches the panties, I appreciated the effort – liberating another button, then another until her blouse hangs open and my right hand roams unabated by fabric.

Jordan turned to face me and we kissed with the fervor of teenagers bumping against curfew.  Leaning against the dinning-turned poker table-turned erotic prop, Jordan wrapped a leg round mine until I lifted her onto the table.  Both of her legs are crossed behind me now and my hands wander up her back.  I consider undoing the clasp of her bra but stop myself for reasons I don’t know.

Urgency became insistence as Jordan unlatches my belt, trousers and zipper in rapid succession.  I raised her skirt past her thighs and over her hips, feeling a hint of a tremor on her skin.  Lace moved to the side, and Jordan took a deep and audible breath with me inside her and her nails in my back.

We moved quickly but deliberately in a slightly un-syncopated beat.  Taking off my shirt suddenly became an imperative for Jordan.  “I always hated this shirt” she moaned into my ear just before leaning back and ripping it open sending buttons across the room and me just a bit hotter for her.

Before long Jordan has reclined on the table in a sexy, spent mass.  I start to speak but am preempted by her “Shhhhh, not yet.”

We sat silently for a few minutes until she rose to extinguish the lights.  There was one playing card stuck against the salty sweetness of back.  It was the Ace of diamonds.

Emotional Fluffers and Hypocrisy

4 October 2009

WARNING: Navel Gazing Ahead

“…How does any of that change the fact that I feel like you contact me at your convenience, flirt with me at your leisure, and seemingly want me mostly as an emotional fluffer to remind you of your allure when your not feeling so alluring?”

That was the operative portion of an email I sent to a former-lover/maybe-friend in response to some suggestive messages she sent me late one recent night.  It wasn’t until I reread the email a few times (a self-congratulatory and vain habit I have when I feel like an email struck the perfect note) that I realized that I had been doing the same thing to various women and in varying degrees for much of my adult life.

This barely revelatory revelation shocked me despite its obviousness – I think that we have all done this at some point, right?  The hypocrisy of my outrage was the real problem for me.  There have been too many convenient women in my past, too many women that were fun enough, smart enough, attractive enough, but far from right, and I kept them around far longer than I ever should have.

This largely anonymous admission does little more than assuage my guilt about my past, but acknowledgement of one’s faults is the first step towards ownership of them. Right?

A Path to Seeing Colors

4 September 2009

Relationship red flags can be as heavy as feather against the skin, or as subtle as a sledgehammer to the head.  The ones I ignored on the way to the altar were so glaring that when I drove past the bank in Dupont Circle, instead of the time and temperature the sign would flash “Refugee, Don’t Do It!”

Given that history, I normally have a more sensitive flagometer than most.  Being an hour late for a first date should have sent it into the “back the fuck away zone.”  Displaying the fallacy of “as comfortable at a black tie affair as a dive bar” should have been another.  But I sat through it anyway.

The School Administrator and I had plans to meet at the hip new wine bar that proved to be too hip to make me a drink for 15 minutes.  I decided that going next door to a very solid dive bar and updating SA via text message was the better way to salvage an evening.  Forty-five minutes later my date’s disagreement with my assessment was palpable.

“We don’t have to stay here; I just didn’t want to stew in my own juices next door” I said after the perfunctory “hellos” and “you look greats.”

A short cab ride later we faced each other from the opposite deep backed chairs at the Ritz Carlton.  It was yet another moment of failed logic.

We were two manhattans and two spectacularly overrated glasses of champagne into the evening when my cerebral clouds parted.  SA was neither Vicky Vale to whom to show any bat caves, a unicorn to chase, nor a windmill at which to tilt.

“SA, I think I should call it a night.”

“It’s so early; are you sure? I don’t see a second date after a first that’s so… er, short.”

“I think we’ll both be ok with that.  Let’s just call it the gift of obviousness.”

Been Thinking About Space Since Yesterday’s Morning Storms

10 June 2009

The space after the thunder but before the lightning

After the bottle is tipped but before the booze hits the glass

Between anticipation and reality

Between two bodies before a first kiss

After the pride but before the conceit

Champagne & Eggs

1 April 2009

“I want champagne and eggs, how about you?” 

It was a simple text message but from Sydney’s reaction you would have thought that I wrote “I have the winning Powerball numbers for next week, you want them?”

“I’d blow Quasimoto for Champagne and eggs right now, Mick Jagger too, if I don’t have to leave my house to get them.”

Sydney and I have always had that kind of relationship – irreverent, a little profane, but mostly platonic.  As I was feeling generous, and knew that Syd was hung-over, I grabbed a bag and made the relatively short trip to her place by way of the market.

All Sunday morning shopping list should be simple:

  • WaPo, New York Times
  • Eggs
  • Pork in some form
  • Champagne (juice optional)
  • Biscuits
  • Cheese

One hour and seven minutes after the first text Sydney opens her door.  She has managed to splash water on her face, tie a robe around her nearly six foot frame, and start coffee.  Sydney never has food in her kitchen, but coffee, is a given. 

“You’re my hero” she says as she leans forward to kiss me on each cheek – a gesture I usually consider an annoying affectation, but she somehow makes natural. 

“Good to see you too” I reply before heading to the kitchen.  “How much time do I have to feed you before ‘Cranky Syd’ emerges from that desperately hungry and dark part of your soul?” 

“I’ll be fine for a bit once I get some coffee” she says and I believe.

I’m unpacking groceries as Sydney grabs to mugs and the sugar.  Depressing the plunger on the Frieling French Press Sydney suddenly asks with hint of animation “Do you remember this birthday?”

I have very clear memories of it.  Sydney and a gaggle of her girlfriends took over the bar at the restaurant I was running.  Three courses (served family style,) and copious amounts of wine served as prelude to Girl’s Night unleashed on an unsuspecting city.  It was the evening I knew that there would never be anything romantic between us, but I will never forget the look on her face when she unwrapped the French press I gave her.

“Was that the one you had at Anonymous Restaurant” I asked feigning uncertainty about the answer.

“Sure was.”

“You wanna open the champagne” I ask to change the subject, “I’m read for a mimosa.”

“So what are we having for breakfast?”

Fried Pork Tenderloin, Egg, and Gruyere Biscuits, and cantaloupe.”

“Oh my God, what do I have to do to get you to come over every Sunday morning?”

“You could start by changing the music; this techno stuff is giving me a headache.”

Sydney swaps the electronic whatever for an opera I don’t recognize and brunch is served on her patio.  We sit – mostly without words passing – reading newspapers and eating.  I’ve always known that our mutual recognition that every silence is not a void is among the reasons we work as friends. 

I have just popped the top on the second bottle of champagne when Sydney asks in a more contemplative tone “Seriously, Refugee, why can’t we do this every Sunday?”

I read the subtext of her question.  This is normally one of the moments when I would have deliberately and deeply inhaled before answering, but I didn’t need extra time to think.  “You’d tire of me Sydney.  I know it, and what’s worse is that you know it too but you asked the question anyway.  We have a friendship that has a lovely balance, do you really want to mess with that?”

We both went back to our newspapers and back to our silence.


Fried Pork Tenderloin, Egg, and Cheese Biscuits

1 pork tenderloin, cleaned and dressed

1 cup Buttermilk (half and half can be substituted)

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1 teaspoon of ground mustard*

1 teaspoon garlic powder*

1 teaspoon of dried rosemary*

3 eggs

4oz of Cheese – just about any decent (non blue) cheese will do, but I prefer Gruyere

1 package of biscuits (One of the very few things I refuse to make from scratch are biscuits – the ready to cook Pilsbury Grands are my favorite)


* nice to haves but do not buy them just for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (according to manufacturer’s instructions) to bake the biscuits. 

Cut the tenderloin into two four inch pieces.  The smaller half should be wrapped in saran wrap and stored for later use.  Slice the larger half into ½ inch thick discs.

To make your dredging station, use three cereal sized bowls.  In the first bowl, pour the buttermilk.  In the second bowl, crack one egg and beat until smooth.  In the final bowl, add all dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.  

In a pan suitable for frying or preferably in a deep fryer, heat oil over medium flame just prior to the point of smoking.

While the oil is heating and the biscuits are baking, prep the other two eggs.  If you have a two or three inch metal round that is best.  If not, then use a large sauté pan coated with cooking spray and over medium heat.  In a bowl, beat the eggs until smooth adding salt and pepper to taste.  Spread ¼ of the eggs onto the sauté pan.  When cooked enough to fold, fold the egg in twice and remove.  Repeat until you have four neatly folded egg segments. 

The biscuits should be just about ready to remove from the oven.  Dredge the pork discs through the milk, then eggs, then coat evenly with the flour mixture.  Drop each disc in the oil.  They will cook in 2.5 minutes. 

Remove the biscuits and make your sandwiches. 




You know it is Wednesday and I took my turn as contributing editor at DC Blogs. Go on check out that which moved me more than most this past week.


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