#17 Dismiss the Potential

When it comes to choosing a drinking establishment, if there’s a pub in town, that’s where you’ll find me, just beyond front row of the live band, drinking a cider, and bouncing my curls. I don’t know why I love pubs so much, maybe because I lived in England for a while, maybe because their historic community presence lends a thin mask to alcoholism, but we have a lovely Irish pub here in town, and half the time that’s where we spend our Friday nights.

Last time I dropped by Nelson O’Donnel’s, I went with my roomie Summer, her boyfriend, and my best friend Anne. I was anticipating a good time, but I don’t always know what that means when I go out. Going out for me means trying to strike a weird balance between quality time with the friends I went with and getting to meet someone new. And in truth, a bar [or a pub] is not a good place to talk to anyone. The music is too loud, and my processing skills are… sluggish.

Since I was out with a couple and my taken best friend, I anticipated a low key night. And I didn’t mind. I hadn’t seen Anne in nearly a week and was looking forward to catching up.

Summer had other plans.

“So, who you going to hit on tonight?”

“What? No, it’s not going to be like that tonight.”

Summer crinkled her nose at me. Like my behavior was some how reprehensible.

“Why not? You look hot, there are lots of hot guys here, go get ’em.”

I protested. I wanted to talk to Anne. It was loud. I didn’t see anyone cute. But most of all, I wasn’t interested in losing out on talking to people I actually know and love to hear about some MBA student from Ohio who likes watching NCIS and going to the gym in his free time.

Booooooring.

Well, friends, guess who got to eat her words.

Mere minutes later, I laid eyes on a tall, scruffily handsome, built, tattooed, tall guy. And I turned to Summer, poked her in the ribs, and said, “Well, if I was going to hit on someone tonight, it would be him.”

Tell me that if you saw that smile from across the room, you wouldn't be interested.

At which point she started incessantly taunting me to go talk to him. At THIS which point I realized–

I have zero game.

I couldn’t talk to him. I couldn’t. Even after I made eyes at him, after him and his wingman walked by, HESITATED by me, then kept walking. Even though I wanted to, I couldn’t think of what to say. Summer threatened to do it for me, and I’m pretty sure the only thing worse than being unable to construct your own opening is to have your friend do it for you.

But I turned my back on her, and when I glanced over at Mr. Tall and Tattooed again, Summer was there. And I barely had enough time to grab Anne and whisper, “WHAT DO I DO?” before he sauntered over.

Let me tell you, friends, he was no MBA student from Ohio.

Jake was a veteran, lived in Germany for two years, did two tours in Afghanistan, and currently lives in BAGHDAD as a BODYGUARD for American diplomats. He works three months, then gets a month, and had just flown in that day after spending a few days on the way back in Dubai.

One would almost think this was too fantastic to be real. But it also seemed way too complicated to make up.

He was nice and funny and interesting and tall. And then, at the end, so lovely, he asked for my phone number, which I hope I programmed into his phone correctly [don’t laugh, it sometimes happens when I’ve been drinking]. And he said goodbye, then leaned in, kissed me twice, and walked away with a swagger and confidence that left me dizzy.

I’ve met boys at bars before, sometimes nice and interesting, sometimes boring and kinda rude. I’ve kissed boys at bars before, somethings the nice and interesting ones, sometimes the boring and rude ones. But this was the single most perfect bar encounter I’ve ever had. And I didn’t even mind if he never called me, either because he wasn’t interested or because I had accidentally given him a wrong number, because, as a completely contained moment, I found it wonderfully surprising, refreshing, and satisfying.

I didn’t need a follow up. I didn’t need to go out with him. I didn’t need to hope for more and be disappointed [cynicism is integral to single shiksa-dom]–and even if it did work out, I didn’t need to be involved with someone who was only available one month out of every four. What I need was an excellent hope that there are interesting boys out there who can keep up with me, ones worth meeting, ones who would want to talk to ME, and who know how to execute a perfect goodbye.

Intimidatingly attractive, and he wanted to talk to ME. Not gonna lie, I'm proud to brag.

Later I found out Summer’s opening line had been, “Hey, my friend over there needs a new drink.” And while it wasn’t the suavest opening, it sure made possible one hell of an ending.

#15 Drink and Deflect

PART ONE

Since LoveAddict recently posted about her “favorite” Mr. Smother and Lizzie regaled us with her non-prostituting love slave, I thought I’d chime in with my own recent story.

My platonic friend Matt works nearby, and when I’m not working I try to get lunch with him every week or so. A few months ago, when I was feeling very single and a bit desperate, I followed him back to his office to meet his coworkers. I only met Rick very briefly, but long enough to believe something could work out there if pursued. I would see him once or twice in the following months, but never more than a “hello” was exchanged.

Until Matt texted me one night to see if I was interested in going to a party at Rick’s apartment. Rick was trying to get rid of all his New Year’s Eve alcohol. I, of course, was a more than willing helper.

Somehow, I convinced myself from the onset that Matt only invited me because Rick wanted me there. I blame the fact that my first recollection of Matt was his arrogant “I don’t call people; they call me” life mantra. This, perhaps, influenced my actions for the rest of the party.

I went to the party and had a great time. Did you know that Jenga can be played as a drinking game? My mind was completely blown. As for getting rid of that New Year’s Eve alcohol–let me say, I can handle my liquor, but it was amazing even to me just HOW non discriminating I am when it comes to kinds. Vodka? Yum yum. Rum is a fav. Gin is an excellent palate cleanser. Bring on the tequila!

Each tile has a rule written on it, and you've got to play the rule you pull. Also, there's no way the game would be this advanced if it was drinking-Jenga style.

Suffice to say, I was most definitely not driving home. Matt offered to drive me home, but the complication of leaving my car at Rick’s and the fact that Rick was obviously too eager to keep handing me drinks with a certain ulterior motive made my decision very easy. I think Matt was barely out the door when Rick leaned over and kissed me.

Let me tell you something. Other people were staying over, but I was the only one who got to sleep in a real bed.

BUT, before you get ahead of me, no sex was had. Just four hours of making out. Until SEVEN AM, people.

The problem was, is, that I meant to stop drunk making out. Without getting into my philosophy now, I usually just feel like I’m getting used, and I’m finding it less and less, ahem, fulfilling. HOWEVER, that did not stop some very memorable moments.

Like when Rick kept saying, “Oh, girl, oh girl.” I mean, I’ve heard using babe or baby to avoid mixing up names, but can we get any more generic than girl?

Or like when Rick said that he liked me, I laughed in his face and said, “You don’t even know me.” This might have happened more than once. I may have intimacy issues.

Or like when Rick said he’d like to take me out I said, “Well, then DO IT.” Like a dare. Because most people like to be challenged into taking someone out.

Or like when Rick said, “I told Matt you had a HUGE crush on me” I tried to think up a less honest answer than, “Only in the same way I have a HUGE crush on a bottle of vodka. Nominally interested but surprisingly desperate.”

Or like how when I woke up at 8AM, after only an hour of sleep, I tried unsuccessfully to sneak out and was delayed an hour and a half.

And then, after I had finally detangled myself and navigated the passed-out partiers in the living room to find shelter in the cold fresh air of a Michigan morning, Rick sent me a text message that simply said, “I think you’re really cute.”

Ok, I liked that.

I'm going for similarities in hair style here, not musical talents.

A few days later it was Sunday, the day we had tentatively set for our date after I said, “Well DO IT,” and I received a shy little text asking me if I was still up for “hanging out.” I pushed it back. I was exhausted from getting seven hours of sleep the entire weekend and knew that going on a date in my glazed-eyes state would be a disservice to everyone. He accepted my excuse gracefully and said that while he really did want to take me out, if I wasn’t interested that was fine.

I had just needed to buy myself time. The only proper dates I’ve been on recently have been eHarmony dates that have gone…so far into nowhere they’ve gone backwards. Add in the complication of my current feelings for Logan, and I was just unsure if I wanted to pursue something with Rick.

But then I called myself out as a coward and made myself woman up. I had kept following the comments on LA’s Mr. Smother post, and a few commenters had suggested that we dismiss genuinely nice guys as being clingy and smothery because we’re scared. It’s true, while I had plenty of physical sparks with Rick, I hadn’t felt any emotional fireworks, but maybe I was too busy protecting myself from wombats to see a truly nice guy. I don’t want to be my own best sabotager, so on Monday I texted Rick my free nights to see when he wanted to go out.

And he picked Tuesday.

#12 Keep it in the Family

I promised a post on family. And so you shall have one. Except, of course, this blog is also about love and relationships. So you shall have one of those too. There is only one exceptional way to combine these two topics, and that is to reminiscence about the on forbidden fruit that’s tantalized us all, the cool one, the one we click with oh so well, just like they’ve always known us. Which they have…

Because they’re family.

Ok, it’s never really family family. My friend Calvin had a terrible crush on an ex-step cousin, affectionately called “the cuz” by us, his loving friends. And then there was the couple who went to family reunions only to have their mutual great aunt go through their mutual family tree… every time.

(That relationship, btw, did not last.)

Sometimes it’s your first real crush, and I think I’ve figure out why. It’s not creepy. It’s just that, around the time that you stop believing in cooties and start wondering what happens after “just friends,” you don’t really have many friends of the opposite sex. In fact, the only ones you may know well are the ones you’ve been playing with for years at family reunions. Usually these realtives are made cooler by the fact that they are older, someone whose teenager wisdom and class has esteemed them in your eyes.

I never was into a blood relative (that’s not the norm, by the way, to go full on medieval monarchy, but it’s so much more fun to say everyone’s had a crush on a relative). But my weird family of family love connection happened way after my first crush. I was, sadly, advancing into my twenties. My sister happened to marry a man who had a brother my age, and while this brother of my brother-in-law and I didn’t exchange much at the wedding, we did a few years later when he was living with his sibling. And mine.

Hercules when I first met him. Nothing to take notice of.

It started out with friendship. Then flirtation. And once you threw a little bit of alcohol into the mix (and the fact that this kid sorta looks like a Greek god with his chisled features and curly hair), and it was a done deal. He was nice to begin with, because he learned at least one thing from his mama. But the truth of the matter is that we were both at the top of our game. We were 21, and we both were pushing and pulling and lying and double entende-ing just to see what hoops we could get the other to jump through. I knew exactly what to say to get him to come out to see me spur of the moment. He knew exactly how to use the flexibility of our romantic entaglement to get away with treating me like a lover one day and the ugly sister of the sister-in-law the next.

(Btw, that extra “sister” or “brother” modifier is very important. One of my friends–the one with the twisted step-cousin Cinderella complex–kept asking me about my relationships with my “brother-in-law” and insisiting that the extra “brother” of my brother-in-law was superfuluous. It was not. There was no affair.)

(But WAS it weird that sometimes the shared family characteristics reminded me of his brother, my brother-in-law, my sister’s husband?

Yes.)

Hercules when I met him again. Chisled features and curls, ladies, chisled features and curls.

It got very ugly towards the end of our several month trip into insanity. We had agreed to keep our little non-incestuous fling a secret from our respective and in-lawed siblings. Even after he moved out of our siblings’ apartment into his own apartment, still in the same city, we were covert. I was going out to see my sister one winter, and he suggested that I arrive a few days early and stay with him. I did, and the first night was fabuluous fun. The second day he avoided touching me or kissing me and spent most of the time playing online poker. When confronted (I did not come out a few days early to watch movies at my brother-in-law’s brother’s apartment–by myself!) he hid behind professed residual feelings for his ex-girlfriend.

Listen, this was not one of those relationships in which I cared where his FEELINGS were. My feelings for other people weren’t preventing ME from having a good time with him when I was with him.

Under his prompting I called my sister, said I had surprisingly shown up in town a day early without warning, and had found her husband’s brother to hang out with until I had gotten ahold of her.

How she fell for this, my intelligent, PhD student sister, I do not know.

I left his apartment that night, though I was to fall victim to his charms again in the upcoming months (did I mention his curls?) for just one night, and then I made a clean escape. After a long noncommunicative, nonhostile break, we saw each other again (we do have mutual family…).

We went out for a drink, updated each other on our lives, swapped stories about on going romances. After confessing to his own on again off again flirtations with a girl he worked with, he said, “Yeah. I think I’m going to see how it goes next weekend. I’m going to ask her out, like on a real date. I’m tired of these hot/cold games. I used to be really into them, about a year ago, but now I see that they’re just a waste of time…”

And he snuck a carefully planned Bambi-glance at me.

Puh-lease.

I don’t know how my sister and his brother never caught on. He and I would go out for drinks together. I “showed up” in town a day early. We made out in their apartment. But I never did tell my sister, which pains me because I feel like this is the most post-modern relationships I’ve ever had and she would just eat this up. (Plus I don’t think she really likes this kid anyway, and after the flip-flop way he treated me, I’d enjoy a good gripe session where we could point out all his character flaws and how his life’s a sham.)  And I should have know better, that a relationship between us would have no future, and even a relationship that seems like “just fun” at the time turns sour when you’re nearing the obvious and inevitable end. Or maybe I should have picked up the clue when, during the first night, he said to me, “Hey, let’s not tell Geena and Vincent about this. I don’t think they’d like it.” Maybe I should have agreed and then walked away, because a relationship that you can’t share with your sister is never going to be a relationship at all.

But now we’ve got a great story for our mutual nieces and nephews one day.

So long, Hercules. It's been relatively nice.

#8 Limit Your Options

The other day the girls from my church and I were discussing boys–or our lack of [this actual causes a near crisis of faith for young Christian women. A loving God allows poverty, war, crimes against humanity, and singleness? Yeah, it seems petty of us. It is. We’re far from perfect.]

At this point my friend Rachel raises her hand.

“I have a confession,” she says. “I joined eHarmony.”

Rachel and I might soon be having eHarmony coffee dates together, complete with our laptops.

When I so recently decried the difficulty of meeting available boys, when is it time to bite the bullet? Time to succumb to the tear-jerking commercials of people finding their true love and giggling on the beach? Is there a magical age where you give up on meeting any potential man as they all appear to be already married or they disqualify themselves for some reason? A time when finding a boy who’s age appropriate and dateable becomes like a treasure hunt. After I bemoaned the difficulties of even meeting a single Dateable male, the next logical step is moving on to online dating. Welcome to the virtual meat market. I’m sorry, I meant to say village market square.

Listen, maybe the matchmakers of old didn’t have it so wrong. What’s the point in getting yourself all primped up, handshaking and flirting with a half dozen men, giving and taking phone numbers, going on risky dates, JUST to see if someone’s compatible? Especially when someone else can do all the dirty work for you.

When I turned 23 and was still single, I signed up on eHaromny–the free version, just so I could see my free matches. I just wanted to see what it was like. A little experimentation never hurt a girl. But what starts as innocent interest soon spirals into something bigger. Don’t be deceived–they, just like any old matchmaker, are a business selling a product–and it’s a big one. Love. It’s an easy web to get caught in.

So I scan some matches, see some that are intriguing, and then, there are the free communication weekends. Sometimes I get in touch with these guys. Maybe I’ve gone on a date once or twice.

But there is something that makes me hesitate about online dating. Rachel articulated it perfectly. She is also a literature lover, captivated by life stories, and she confessed that she doesn’t want to look at her future children and say, “Well, honey, Daddy saw Mommy’s profile picture, and he thought she was really cute so he sent her an Icebreaker! So she sent him some multiple choice questions back, and before we knew it we were emailing!”

Blech.

And then there’s my friend Sofia, who we tried to cheerlead into signing up on eHarmony, but sat to the side texting the entire time my friend and I tried to engage her on the process. But Sofia has never had a boyfriend and wants one, so it stumps me as to why she’s so cynical a road as of yet untraveled.

Is that person you're texting going to date you? Let's get flexible, Sofia. Life is not a romantic comedy.

And honestly, how is an online website meet-cute story any worse than many other stories? Anne and Tim recently told me excitedly about a guy they had recently met–“He’s tall, a law student, and his name is… Graham? Graham!” I know less about Graham than I do after reading anyone’s profile on eHarmony, and yet I’m just as excited to meet him. Will that be a better story? “Mommy’s best friend knew she was desperate, so she kept thrusting her at any single man she met along the way.” Or how about the guy I stalk at my completely platonic guy friend’s office? “Mommy asked her friend Harvey if he knew any single guys, then she dropped by their office every week for six months until Daddy asked her out.”

Then again, I’m still on the free version of eHarmony. See, for those of us who can’t commit to ordering a subscription to an online dating website, maybe we’re just not ready for a real committed relationship either.

#4 Marry for Convenience

Yesterday I was hanging out with a couple of my guy friends. One of them was bemoaning the fact that he doesn’t have the time or motivation to cook for himself and eat healthy. He looked at me and said, “Don’t be offended–but what I really need is to get married so someone will help take care of me.”

I said, “Don’t be offended–but what I really need is to get married so my husband can go make me money and I won’t have to work anymore.”

Maybe this could be mutually beneficial.