Probable Cause

17 July 2013

Metro signs told me the train was only three minutes away. I almost didn’t take the seat on the platform bench. I looked at the two women on opposite ends of the of the concrete seat and all of the space between them, felt my aching knee and decided I would sit. I sat in the middle and continued reading the Washington Post on my iPad. Both women had purses sitting next to them toward the middle of the bench. The woman to my left suddenly felt her purse would be more secure in her lap. The woman to my right had a new inclination to wrap her arm through the loop of hers.

I noticed both actions via peripheral vision while I continued to read an op-ed about Trayvon Martin being profiled.


From an Actual Exchange on a Dating Site

29 May 2013

Her: Your profile is terrific. Your passion for your work (in specific) and life generally really comes through and that is very charming. I leave for grad school in late July. If dating a short timer isn’t a problem for you, I’d love to have a drink sometime. If that’s not what you’re looking for, I will totally understand.

RR: You’re leaving in 6-8 weeks, and I think that’s fanfuckingtastic. As it happens, that is just about the amount of time it usually takes for the mutual falling, lots of great dates, and then my seemingly inevitable but subconscious desire to fade away / screw things up because a woman has gotten too close to me. Another thing that typically occurs round that mark: the charms of dating a chef (the exquisite food, the random left-over sweets brought to her office, etc.) begin to fade in the face of late night hours, lack of weekend availability, and the like.

I think our caveats are different in nature but equal in measure. Now that you know mine, still wanna grab that drink?

Her: are you always so candid about your failings, or is this the dating equivalent of it being easier to tell strangers your deepest & darkest?

RR: I would like to think that it’s equal parts from each column, but the truth is more the later than the former… though I generally have no problems talking about my short-comings. That admission about the 6-8 week thing is a new one though.

What about you? Are you always so cynically realistic as your profile seems to suggest?

Her: I’ve already gave you one for free, you gotta buy me whiskey to hear more… but I swear if you even mention frequent-flyer miles, I’m out the door.


A Poem in Search of a Muse

2 May 2013

Her notes demand to be read aloud

Words beg to linger on the palate

Like soft syrah - Lush, ripe, full 


Something Crossing My Mind Today

1 May 2013

When I first wrote a list of what I wanted in a woman, I was 21, inspired by some movie I cannot recall. It was two pages long.

When I next wrote that list, I was 30, inspired by a failed marriage and finding the impossibly shallow first list while unpacking in a new place. The second list was one page long.

Now I am just past 40, inspired by a question in a tweet and my list can fit on post-it note.


Odds Are It Ain’t the Last, But…

22 March 2013

Every kiss is its own dance, has its own rhythms… hell, kisses are goddamn snowflakes in their infinite uniqueness… and any smart man would want a wide swath of them even if he only wants them from one partner.  However, were I forced to choose just one for the rest of my life, I would choose our first.


Call me Crazy, but…

6 October 2012

I don’t know if she wanted to take me home because she was lonely, horny, mad at her ex, or didn’t have cab fare… but I know it wasn’t because she liked me.

Sometimes maturity = making the right choice even when it’s a bad one. I thought about that the whole ride home.


Don’t Reenact Scenes from Platoon and Other Mistakes

9 April 2012

Unless you live under a rock that does not offer television coverage, surely you have seen the DirectTV commercial that is a funny “When you do this, then you do that” exercise, you know: When your cable goes out a bunch of things happen that conclude with reenacting scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen.

Admittedly, they’re only funny the first time you see it. By the third viewing, they’re horrifically annoying. But still, I liked it so much that I decided to write my own… based on a true an entirely true story.

Don’t spend gorgeous Sunday evenings drinking at bars that don’t take credit cards and ask for your ID to start a tab.

When you go to those kind a bars, on those kinda nights, you might have several lovely drinks.

When you have several lovely drinks on a patio you might think it a good idea to call an, *ahem*, old partner of mutual convenience who now lives in a hoity-toity party of town.

When you settle your tab at the bar that doesn’t take credit cards to go see that convenient woman, the bartender might forget to give you your ID back.

When the bartender forgets to give you your ID, and you have a buzz (but not in the same neighborhood as drunk) before heading to see a woman in a hoity-toity part of town, you might have written the wrong address and passed such to the taxi driver.

When you give the taxi driver the wrong address, you might have to walk a few blocks in that hoity-toity neighborhood.

When walking-while-black in that hoity toity part of town, you might draw the attention of the local police.

When drawing the attention of the local police for walking-while-black and not having your ID because the bar that doesn’t take credit cards forgot to give it back to you, you might get “detained” by the local police.

When you get detained – not arrested but it sure felt like it – because the local police “can’t confirm your identity” despite all of your credit cards, and other identifying information, you still spend hours in a police station for no good reason.

Don’t go to bars that don’t take credit cards because you’ll eventually be detained by police… since not walking/driving/breathing-while-black is not an option for me.


I am Trayvon Martin

26 March 2012

We are separated by a generation, a thousand miles, and I haven’t worn a hoodie since I was an undergrad, but I am still Trayvon Martin…

when I am (still) followed around stores

when I cross the street at night before some random she has a chance to just so I won’t have to suffer the indignity of watching her jaywalking away from the dangerous me

when I hear doors lock as I pass near a car

when I am unfailingly polite to rude police officers because the consequences of not doing so are disproportionate

when I am routinely passed by empty cabs on the street

when I am reminded that my tailored suits and fancy education don’t really make me immune to the everyday slights

when I encounter (too goddamn frequently) the realization that the color of my skin is probable cause for suspicion

and I am Trayvon’s father when I delivered the “Talk” to my 20year old nephew who I pray will never have to give that talk when he is my age 


A Few Open Letters… Just the Ladies Edition

1 February 2012

Dear Dreadlocked Woman Driving the Top-Down BMW* Yesterday,

I don’t know why you waved at me as you drove past the coffee shop. The truth of the answer matters not as you kept driving leaving my mind to complete its own question. I choose to believe that you found some sort of kindredness of spirit, some commonality in appreciation of enjoying the glorious weather days when they come. I choose to believe that you waved because something kept you from stopping even though you wanted to join me as much as I would have liked to have been your passenger. Some days it doesn’t matter where you’re going.

Thanks, I needed that.

Sincerely,

The Cigar Smoking Guy from the Coffee Shop Patio

* model of car only referenced in case someone knows a dreadlocked woman with a new drop-top 3 series and you wanna point her this way.

**

Dear New Girl at my Favorite Bar,

There are rules to this; rules for flirting at the bar, rules for servers flirting with guests. I know better than most that every restaurant professional uses flirtation to enhance tips. You break the rules, however, when you traverse the distance between the harmless and the “I want you now” flirting. You crossed the line not when you invited me to your place to drink rum the bar didn’t have (yeah, ya kinda did,) but definitely when you didn’t mean it.

When my friends did everything but bolt me to the chair to get me to stay for a night cap after they had left, you made me look like a fool. People are entitled to flirt in what ever (reasonable) manner they wish. Servers making a guest feel foolish because you mislead them, issued false invitations, and created a phony impression, however, break rules for civility and professionalism.

Sincerely,

The Gentleman Who Never Sit in Your Section

and p.s. Do not try to hug me again.

**

Dear Woman I Wish I Could Like More,

Concern and desire to make a partner happy are great. Being excessively deferential, on the other hand, is decidedly un-sexy. I am sure that there are some men out there who want to hear “Whatever you want” in reply to every question. Certainly some men are charmed when you tell the bartender “I’ll have whatever he’s having.” But those men are either: seeking stepford wives, or soon to make a guest appearance on Law & Order SVU.

Sincerely,

The Gentleman Who Thinks Smart, Opinionated, Assertive Woman are Sexy.

**

Dear Women I Hope to Kiss in the Future

If you, like the last few dates I’ve had, believe that you should lead with the tongue when kissing, let’s just agree to disagree. If you think that porn is instructional not recreational (as applies to the kissing,) let’s just not bother. If you prefer tongue to be the main ingredient in kissing not just the salt that accents it, please, the good lord willing and the creak don’t rise, may our lips never cross paths.

Sincerely,

The Gentleman with a String Tonsil Inspecting Dates


A Few Open Letters

3 January 2012

Dear Woman from the Other Night,

When you said that I sound “delightful” and I replied that “it’s just the booze that makes you think so,” I wasn’t trying to be rude, or imply that you were loaded. It’s just that I have never been good at taking compliments and my natural inclination is to deflect them. If anyone knows Theresa from Dupont, please pass along my apologies.

Sincerely,

The Man Who Blew It with the Really Cute Girl (not the first time that’s happened)

**

Dear Bus Driver Who Saw the Guy Running to Catch your Bus but Kept Driving,

I could have dismissed your unmitigated meanness as inattention… but I saw the woman at the bus stop point to the trailing guy and ask you to wait. You, are in fact, underscoring the largely false stereotype about DC writ large and Metro in specific. That you did so on New Year’s Eve when people ought to be filled with good will for all makes your dickishness even more egregious.

However, I do wish to thank you, because it gave me an opportunity to show kindness to a stranger. Even though I was running late, and had very little room in the car because of all the kitchen equipment, I stopped to offer the gentleman you left behind a ride. I stopped, moved things around to make room in the front seat, and offered a ride to a complete stranger. I stopped and was willing to delay my day to take that man wherever he needed to go. I stopped because you were an arse, and by stopping I found a way to demonstrate generosity of spirit. So thank you for you for your asshattery; it tested the veracity of my convictions… and unlike, you, I did not appear wanting.

Sincerely,

A Man Who Tracked Down Your Bus Number and Reported this Incident to WMATA

**

Dear Guest at my NYE Dinner,

Your marriage is not my business… but in case you were wondering why I looked so familiar, no, it was not from the picture on my website… but it very well may be that you remember looking at my profile on the that online dating site. I remember looking at yours, and I don’t recall it saying anything about you being married (open or otherwise.) As Rick Perry might say, oops.

Sincerely,

A Man Who Has no Problem with Polyamory but isn’t too Fond of Cheating Spouses

**

Dear Guy Next to me at the Bar the Other Night,

I know that there are lots of things about me that beg the food question… like the miniature copper sauté pan that hangs from my bag. I am humbled by the fact that I have a job/life that I love and understand when people want to talk food with me. However, asking me fifty questions that all began with “So what’s your favorite ____” is not really a conversation. That you did so while I was using what little energy I had to will my Steelers to victory while also trying to get the feckless Bengals to help out by beating the hated Ravens did not help matters.

Sincerely,

The Guy Who Finally Found a Food Conversaaation He Didn’t Want to Have


Getting Past the Biggest Block

11 December 2011

 

I have been trying to write this post for a while. Since November 5th actually as that was the day that one of my heroes was knocked of his perch and the resulting scandal landed too close to me.

I have viewed the seedy world of college football as an avid fan, a recruit and a player. I always placed Joe Paterno in the too short column of good guys. We now know that there is an irremovable tarnish on his once sterling reputation. Any adult who knowingly abdicates our collective and inherent moral obligation to protect children deserves a reserved corner in hell.

While it is easy to conjure ex post facto outrage, the three big reasons that prevent child sexual abuse from being the light our hair on fire issue that it should be are: the abusers almost always have friendly faces, the abused almost never have faces, and the abused often allow silence to be the second abuser.

He wasn’t a beloved football coach with a child-focused charity, he was a priest with a youth group in his charge. It wasn’t in a field house shower, it was the church rectory. It followed the same too worn path: find vulnerable child, groom with attention, then affection, make incremental moves across a line until a confused child forgets where it is. Just writing these words ties knots in my stomach.

I do not write this post seeking your sympathies. I write because I am no longer willing to let my silence continue to victimize me. I write because I am willing to stand with survivors everywhere. I write to be another face for the faceless. I write because more than 25 years, and a life well lived later, this still makes cry in a fucking coffee-shop as I type. I write this post because I feared I might never be able to write anything else if I didn’t write this.



Farewell DADT… Is the Sky Falling Yet?

20 September 2011

 

 

I usually reject generalizations as a hallmark of a lazy intellect. I usually dismiss the demonization of people as unproductive in reasonable discourse. However to all of the preachers and false prophets who are warning of the coming wrath of God because of the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, you are all a bunch of hateful intellectual bantamweights who traffic and profiteer in ignorance. All of you can go pound sand.

Just in case, I was wrong and you were right, I looked outside for locusts, or other signs of a falling sky. I found a sun struggling to peak from the cloudy and occasionally rainy skies… but it’s late summer in DC so that’s not unusual.  What freakish occurrences have marked the hours since the end of DADT?

  • I overcooked my roasted red pepper risotto.
  • I went to sleep without having a bourbon and cigar first.
  • The Red Sox continue to fold like a house of cards in hurricane… (oh, wait, that’s not that unusual but let’s blame the Gays anyway.)
  • Right to Life organizations decided to protest the extremely questionable execution of a man in Georgia… (oh, wait, that didn’t happen but wouldn’t that be a sign of the Apocalypse… or intellectual & moral consistency?)

A Few Vignettes / Recent Thoughts

14 July 2011

Hours after a conversation with friends that featured a bit more candor than planned, I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment. I found myself sitting on my patio with a cigar, a bourbon, and this computer to contemplate the following:

How do you know if you made exceptions because you felt something exceptional, or if the exceptions were made for dubious reasons? Does it even matter after the relationship is over and all that’s left is the getting over it?

I didn’t answer any of those questions. I just took another hit of bourbon, watched blue gray smoke curl into the sky, and thought about how small the world must really be for me to have a Carrie Bradshaw moment.

~~~~~

New Rule: Baseball players who wear old-school stirrups instead of long pants are automatically 3.62 times cooler than their slack legged counterparts.

Addendum to the New Rule: The aforementioned does not now and never shall be applicable to Alex Rodrieguez.

~~~~~

The incomparable Aaron Sorkin has twice written that the only reason a man gets really good at anything is to impress a woman*. Ignoring the heterosculsivity** of the concept, truer words may never have been penned.

~~~~~

All of the excitement about Restaurant Week reminds me of people getting all a flutter about New Year’s Eve – the anticipation and hype almost never matches the reality. That so few restaurants get this promotion right is an annual disappointment to me.

~~~~~

* References made in both West Wing and Sports Night, there happens to be a great website that tracks the overlap between the two shows.

* Heterosculsivity and its related adjective Heterosculsive have already been sent to Urban Dictionary


Some Ironies are Meaner Than Others

6 July 2011

As a man who finds serenity in food, I almost always enjoy “making groceries” as those from certain parts of the south might say. On Friday, I spent some time at a local market getting provisions for a very busy food weekend. While jawjacking with my fishmonger, an attractive 30something with an unmistakable Boston accent came to the counter.

Since we were just talking about food geek stuff, I offered to let her order ahead of me. Just before turning attention to the woman in the I-Must-Be-An-Attorney pant-suit, the fishmonger said to me “Oh, I didn’t forget about your head-on shrimp, Refugee; I’ll have em’ for you next week.”

The Suspected Attorney (who had the most perfect and perfectly appointed lips) ordered a couple pounds of crab legs before pausing for a moment to ask me “why would you want head-on shrimp, isn’t that just more work?”

“Yes, it’s most certainly more work” I began. “But two things – one, I like slow food and the process of making it, so when I’m making shrimp bisque I like to make the shrimp stock myself instead of getting it from the shelf; and nothing makes shrimp stock like the heads.”

“And two” she volleyed back.

“Well, two was going to be me making a lame joke about how you would really need to taste my food to understand… but I thought better of it.”

“You thought better of the lame joke as invitation or thought better of the invitation itself” she said with a smile that elicited a butterfly feeling I haven’t known for quite some time.

“Let’s go with the former” I said with an admittedly sheepish chuckle.

We talked some more about food, some of my menu for the weekend, and her plans too. It had all of the hallmarks of one of those surely apocryphal stories about two city dwellers meeting in a grocery store. Even the fishmonger winked at me as we walked away our carts headed in the same direction.

Whether it was me actively trying not to jinx things, be too assertive, or my flirting skills were just a bit rusty, I suggested that we meet in the check-out line to continue the conversation.

After doing a couple of unnecessary laps around the frozen food aisle, I found The Suspected Attorney in the bakery section and we went towards the cashiers. I wasn’t certain that coffee or drinks would be in the immediate offing (I did get some ice from the fishmonger just in case) but I was fairly confident that we would exchange at least one mechanism for communication.

We stood several people back in the slightly longer than usual lines and after a couple of minutes of random chatter, I asked “I know that you have some perishables in your bag so a quick drink right now might be a risky offer, but one I extend nonetheless… and if you can’t or won’t accept now, I do hope you’ll take a raincheck.”

“I can’t do drinks right now” The Suspected Attorney said in sail-deflating tone. “I’ve got people coming over to my place, but… maybe you can give me a call this weekend and we can set something up” she said while handing me her business card.

Sails restored to full extension.

I gave her my card too while we changed the subject back to our respective plans for the weekend.

Apropos of nothing in particular, The (Now Confirmed) Attorney let out a sigh of frustration at the slowness of our line and said “Ugghh, you know don’t take this the wrong way – I’m glad I met you – but I should have known better than to shop on the 1st of the month.”

“Yeah, I imagine that the holiday weekend is making this place more crowded.”

“Sure, the holiday weekend, but you know what happens on the first of the month right?” she asked in tone that indicated I really should have known the answer.

“Sorry, I don’t quite follow… well, lots of people get paid on the first so that could be contributing to it.”

“Not just that” she stated with more animation than I had previously seen, “The government gives out welfare today, welfare and food stamps, and unemployment too! I try to avoid shopping around now, but I always seem to forget and then get stuck in line behind Latifah, the Welfare Queen.”

I suspect that The (Now Confirmed) Attorney read my expression and wanted to clarify her statement – I didn’t give her the opportunity.

“I’m thinking we should probably stop talking now” I stated in as flat and unaffected tone as possible.

“Listen I give to charities, and do community service projects with my sorority, but I just think…”

“You just think that people who need help are a drain on the public coffers. Seriously, we should just stop talking” I said as she began to move her groceries to the belt… and I tried to say it as harmlessly as possible.

The conversation ended there and my disappointment and annoyance were milder than I would have expected. And then I got to the exit.

The (Now Confirmed) Attorney was waiting for me just outside the doors.

“What the Fuck, Refugee? I’m not some crazy-stalker-broad but I thought that we had some kind of connection and I’d love to know why you are willing to trash that – before we even find out if we really like each other – because of some political bullshit.” [ed. note: I really wish there was a Boston Accent font]

“(Now Confirmed) Attorney, I understand the desire to know things… and since we have clearly taken a flame-thrower to our bridge, I am comfortable telling you: it’s not enough to be nice to me, when you’re mean to the weakest of our people… well I don’t reference the bible very often, but to paraphrase ‘whatever you do to the least of my people you do unto me.’ Being nice to your friends doesn’t make one a good person when you’re mean to people for whom there’s no consequence to being mean. And blaming the poor and unemployed for being broke and jobless is just mean… and not for nothing, that Welfare Queen Latifah line was what shifted things from disagreements to be discussed to I don’t need people like you in my life.”


Highlights of My Week Interpreted as a Game of Would You Rather?

1 July 2011


Would you rather…

Run into your Ex while s/he looks fabulous and you look more raggedy than the Redskins offensive line?

See an Ex that you’re not even close to being over get all kinds of shmoopy-shmoopy with the new partner?

Run into (and be situationally forced to have conversation with) the Ex’s friend, you know the one that never liked you, never thought you were good enough?

Would you rather…

Open your last bottle of a very rare (and now virtually unobtainable) wine and have it be corked?

Look for your last bottle of a very rare (and now virtually unobtainable) wine only to see that it is missing or you somehow miscounted it?

Get your very last bottle of a very rare (and now virtually unobtainable) wine to your patio, and have a stray black cat run across your feet leading to a cartoonish but ultimately failed effort to save the precious nectar from crashing to the ground?

Would you rather…

Ruin a favorite pair of shoes (cognac colored monk straps) through a rather unfortunate and completely avoidable wine spill?

Find a favorite fountain pen… in the breast pocket of a favorite sports coat… and a popped capped leaked enough ink for it to soak through the jacket?

 Yeah, it’s been that kinda week.


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