Happy Annivorceary

30 March 2009

Nine years ago today I emerged from a courtroom a divorced man. 

I celebrated that day with a really good cigar that afternoon and  spectacular wine that night.  The next morning I made a list, I like lists, for my summer and maybe the rest of my life.  I am not sure where that list is now, but I am celebrating my ninth Annivorceary with French press coffee, a morning cigar and writing a new list for a new summer.  Thus far the only thing that is certain to make the list is Tony Bennet’s show at Wolftrap.


Looking for Harper

26 March 2009

I envy Harper and her easy sleep as insomnia mocks me and I vacillate between nocturne and semi-consciousness.  When I stir I try not to wake her, but she rustles the sheets anyway.  I hear a soft purr before she repositions herself and finds comfort again.  The clock reads 2:31 and I am struck with a sudden disdain for digital clocks.  Somehow the impersonality of an LED reading to reflect time seems impersonal and vulgar at this moment.

The only determent of time’s passage was the advance of the sterile digital clock telling me that it was now 3:09.  Since I do not recall the intervening thirty-eight minutes I presume it passed for sleep.  I feel Harper adjusting next to me and twist my body towards hers, as she angles her back, hips and head into the crevices of space between us.  Aware but not alert, Harper uses her left leg to draw my right between hers.   We are more entwined than two people should be.

Harper’s digits rest atop my left hand which sits languidly on her torso.  Slowly she moves my hand from just north of her belly button to the valley between her breasts.  My pinky finger on her right mound and my thumb on her left, she cranes her neck forward to kiss my middle fingers.  I pull her closer towards me in a gentle but lustful motion that closes any remaining distance between our bodies.  She can feel my alertness next to her and she is clearly more alert.

In seemingly one motion, I steer my lips to the left side of her neck and she digs her head into the pillow on the right which exposes a vast expanse of skin for my lips to explore.  Kissing her neck, caressing her breasts – we are both fully awake now.  I can fell her heat so close to mine. 

My hand traverses the length of her and confirms her warmth with a caress to the top of her spot.  Harper moves with the rhythm of my touch and reaches back for me.  Impatiently she finds me and guides me inside of her.  Slow, slow, slow, fast we move.  I pull her towards me with each thrust and she greets them with indistinct sounds. 

“Slow… just like that” are the first words spoken since we kissed good night hours ago.  Harper is slow like me, hotter than me, and wetter than I have ever known.  “You feel so good” is all I can muster in reply – I wish that I were more sexually emotive.  I am so happy inside of her but lack the words to tell her so.

I slide from her and guide her shoulders flat against the mattress. I find my way atop Harper and move inside of her while kissing her neck.  It is still slow, slow, slow, fast.  She protests as I pull back, pull out, but I kiss my way down her neck across her breasts – pausing for a beat and a bite at her right nipple – down her stomach, and stop just before I reach her.  I spend some time between her belly button and her hips before moving along.  I breathe heavily between her legs exhaling deeply to let her feel my breath on her. 

Harper pulses the moment my tongue touches her.  I crook my arm under her thigh and move her closer for a deeper pull.  I love the feeling of her leg against my shoulder, her calf angled against my back.  Harper is crumpling sheets in her right hand and cradling the back of my head with her left.  She tastes of sweet, salty and satisfying.  I her excitement feeds mine, until her legs quiver against me. 

The clock reads 4:09 when I wake to find myself alone in bed, awakened from a dream and still looking for Harper.

Emotional Critters that Live Under a Rock

23 March 2009

“Lots of emotional critters live under the rock of cognitive dissonance” I wrote a friend in a recent g-chat session.  Fear of Rejection is one of the inhabitants under my rock.  Lured from hiding by three rejections in a relatively short span, he crawled into other spaces of my mind all weekend. 

The disquiet of each rejection is borne of the fact that each should be irrelevant:

  • A woman who gives radio silence after two dates which ended in her expressing fondness is a woman made unsuitable by that behavior. 
  • A restaurant owner who is more than an hour late and completely unprepared for an initial meeting would make a painful client. 
  • Some stringy haired harpy who is pissed at me for reasons I neither know nor should matter to me is, well, a stringy haired harpy of dubious standing for friendship. 

All of these were justifiable causes for my rejection irrespective of the other person’s thoughts.  Yet, their rejection has stuck in my craw long enough for me to vent to friends, and write this post.  As natural as the human desire for all forms of affection may be, we all know better when we should know better.  People tell us how to treat them with their actions more than their words.  Their actions have told me that I need waste no more energy on the rude, the disrespectful, or the stringy haired harpy*.


*Yes, I enjoyed typing that one more time.  I guess petty can crawl from under the rock sometimes too.

An Ordinary Reminder of the Unordinary

23 March 2009

It’s the little things I remember most: the first time I caught a hit of her perfume, the moment her ankle crossed mine and she decided to leave it there, the exact height of her bed and color of the sheets, a certain sundress and the way she let the left strap wander down her shoulder.

I am deluding myself – I remember every fucking thing about ADA.  So when I saw her virtual fingerprints on certain parts of this blog yesterday morning, I swallowed hard and blinked four times hoping to refocus my eyes after a long Saturday night without a decent interval of sleep.  Between StatCounter and my imagination, I was left with the indelible mental picture of ADA lying in her bed of certain height and linens slightly off white and reading my thoughts about our time together.

The picture was at least as hard to remove as the questions, and thoughts of wishes left unfulfilled.

Does she know that it was unordinary for me? Am I really over her?  What was she thinking as she read?  Why do I care so much?  Will the thought of her always have this power over me?  These questions and more ping-ponged through my mind while showered.

As I dressed for day four of basketballapalooza, I closed my laptop with more force than required.  I wonder if that chapter of my life will ever close, or if I ever want it to?

Jimmy & Sophia

19 March 2009

It was obvious to me the moment I met Jimmy that he had some cash – the IWC chronograph on his right wrist told me that.  Through dinner, at which he was a guest, he never made obvious declarations of his wealth.  There were no mentions of extravagant vacations or profanely expensive cars.  Jimmy was simply a guest at his friends well appointed Arlington condo where I had been hired to make a five course Valentines Day dinner. 

Three days later Jimmy called me to ask if I would have an interest in cooking for him and his wife, daughter and her boyfriend and another couple at his Vermont ski house one weekend.  Vermont ski house = wealth clue #2.  After a generous fee (not inclusive of food cost) was offered “It would be my pleasure” was my only response.  We had the standard discussions about culinary preferences and dietary restrictions (none) and set the date.

When I inquired about travel arrangements Jimmy indicated that he would send a car to ferry me to the airport.  Wealth clue #3.  When I arrived at a completely unfamiliar airport (via a shiny black Lincoln Town Car with Gus, who would not allow me to touch a door handle, behind the wheel) I was a little unnerved.  That is until jimmy greeted me on the tarmac in front of a Gulfstreem jet.  I have been on a private jet before, once, but this was so much nicer.  It was adorned with mahogany like most places are adorned with Ikea.  Gigantic, slap you on the forehead with a sledgehammer wealth clue #4.

Jimmy and his cadre could not have been more gracious.  I prepared breakfast and dinner (they ate lunch on the mountain) and they oohed and ahhed with every bite.  They said please and than you at every turn; and there was a cleaning attendant to do the heavy wash lifting in the kitchen.  Every night after dinner Jimmy and I sat on the deck and under the heat lamps smoking cigars, drinking another bottle from his amazing wine cellar, and talking about any and everything. 

The third night of our long weekend Jimmy’s wife joined us on the deck after dinner.  Sophia is gorgeous, not a “Second wife, I traded my first for a younger and hotter model kind of gorgeous” but a “I married my college sweetheart and she still makes me smile when she enters a room” gorgeous.  She sat with us long enough for us to discuss her affinity for opera, his preference for the symphony, and her love of Shakespeare (she and I bonded over Sonnet 116.)  they were/are so obviously still in love that I asked them to share the story of their meeting and engagement. 

In the manner that great couple often do, they told the story in sequence with one finishing the others sentences. 

Jimmy: we met sophomore year of college but…

Sophia: I was dating someone else…

Jimmy: not just someone else, but one of my close friends…

Sophia: not so close that you were uncomfortable stealing his girl…

Jimmy: only because I thought you deserved better…

Sophia: and I did; I deserved you, baby…

Jimmy: but I have never been man enough to deserve you…

Sophia: anyways, I was yours the moment you asked…

Jimmy: right after graduation, I went to New York…

Sophia: and I went to DC

Jimmy: but she was always on my mind, in my closest of dreams every goddamn one included her.  One day I caught the train down to DC to take her to dinner…

Sophia: Dinner! Ha, if you want to call IHOP dinner, then sure…

Jimmy: that was all I could afford; I thought that IHOP was good eating back then; but after dinner, I took Sophia for a walk along the C&O.  we walked for…

Sophia: too goddamn long, actually.  I had no idea what the hell he had planned.

Jimmy: I was screwing up my nerve to finally drop down on one knee and ask this beautiful woman to marry me.  I didn’t have any money to speak of; so the only ring I could afford…

Sophia: was from a Cracker Jack box; and I didn’t care.  All I wanted to do was marry this unbelievable man.  He told me that the plastic ring was a promissory  note and that we would one day replace it; and he has.  But I still keep that plastic ring in my jewelry box because that is the ring from the man who proposed to me.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.


I am sure that we talked more throughout that evening, but I do not recall what else might have been said.  As over the top as that story was, I still long to feel that way about a woman, and have her feel that way about me.  Just the thought of it gives me a chill.

Chopping Block – A Spectacular Failure

18 March 2009

I make a habit of not criticizing that which I have not experienced.  This habit has led me to read awful books, see dreadful movies, dine at forgettable restaurants, and partake in other avoidable experiences – all in an effort to avoid being trumped in countless cocktail conversations with cries of “have you read it, seen it, been there, etc.”

I am making a very public break with that habit since NBC premiered its latest salvo against decency and quality entertainment, The Chopping Block.  I don’t care that this is another reality television show, I am disturbed by the notion that the “Chef who made Gordon Ramsey cry” is being celebrated.

The premise, for lack of a more appropriately derisive term, is a well worn notion of the genre: competing teams operate two faux restaurants with a weak link from each team being booted at the end of each show.  The center of this reality circus is Marco Pierre White who I know from first hand experience to be a culinary thug and a bully with the all of the manners of a petulant child ampped on Ritalin and a satchel full of lollipops. 

I have asked the questions before – In what other profession do we make vitriol a virtue?  In what other environments would we allow the throwing of dangerous objects (a.k.a. felonious assault) to pass for leadership?  More importantly, when did we as a society accept this abhorrent behavior as the going rate for genius, as a reasonable price for greatness?  But those questions miss the point – it doesn’t work.

Leadership through fear and emotional abuse is as effective as interrogation through torture.  It is long term counterproductive.  Sure some people might be willing to subjugate themselves at the altar of a bully for promised knowledge and future riches, but as surely as a leader who goes ape-shit over apples, that person will flee abusive employ at the first opportunity.  As any first year business student can attest, turnover is expensive, and truly great chefs and restaurateurs know it.  How often can one go to the well of extreme before it will not quench anything?  How effective is the same f-bomb laden tirade when one’s default language is constantly dyed in the blue tint of profanity?

There are numerous examples of smart chefs who eschew the tantrum throwing business model, but Eric Rippert and Thomas Keller top the list (by the by, if you want to read a terrific piece of food porn describing a meal at French Laundry, check out Betty’s latest blog post.)

NBC, not only are you rotting our brains with this drivel, you are promoting an ineffective style of management.  This is one train wreck from which it is easy for me to turn away.

Gone Deep Quiet

10 March 2009

The first time I unplugged from the world was right before I entered high school.  Spending a week as alone as possible has been an infrequent ritual since – a periodic respite to recharge.  Whether an act of safety (like an auto-shut-off switch for your life,) deliberate vacation, or one day of avoiding someone (usually a woman) that simply crept into seven this has been a part of my life for which I am usually grateful.

Even though nothing is wrong, life is good, and my optimism is unabated, I have spent the last week or so away from the trappings of the electronic world. 

I’ll see you all in the morning, and thanks to all of the people who sent emails of concern.