Thursday, November 30, 2006

angst in my pants

"I meet guys I like and really connect with so rarely."

"That's because we're both romantics."

"You're right. Damn it."

This was after Coworker Chris and I downed specially concocted blue tequila shots. What better time to discuss the sorry state of our love lives. Chris has been dealing with a dramatic break-up that occurred nearly a year ago but still haunts and stings. I'm dealing with... well, nothing, which is its own problem, I guess.

I haven't talked about Coworker Chris much, but he has become a dear friend ever since we bonded at last year's company Christmas party playing Spot the Trophy Wife. Whenever there'd be a development between Chris and his ex we'd have an extensive discussion, and he was always one of the first people I went to after meeting a new guy or having a date or getting involved in a minor newspaper scandal. He's the Harry to my Sally, except that we're never going to date. Mind you, he's of the endangered Good Guy species, has a heart the size Montana, and gives good banter, but we are not each other's types and are too different in many ways (though I am not allowed to mention our conflicting music tastes, because Coworker Chris yelled at me about that last night and then went on about his love for The Cure, so I stand humbled and shamed). It's also nice to have a male friend to flirt with.

So there was alcohol flowing, there were cigarette breaks, there was banter. The bartender looked like Chris's ex, which was a bit upsetting to him, though he was holding steady.

After one of our cigarette breaks, when we went back into the bar, there was a jacket and bag on my chair.

"I'm sitting here," I said to the California-looking guy the next seat over.

"You are?"

"Yeah. I thought the jacket draped over the back of the chair and the drink were indicators of that, but I guess not."

He didn't reply for a while. A minute later, he turned to me and Coworker Chris and asked how we're doing tonight. Small talk ensued and I asked his name.


Oh lord.

"Just don't be a David."

"I'm not David. What's wrong with Davids?"

"They're trouble. Long story."

"So what's you're name?"


"Give me the first letter."

"I'll give you the second letter."

I guessed correctly on the first try. Let's call him Realtor Rick.

After some chit-chat, he mentioned a book he's working on. Bartender Betty told me a bit about it.

"Do you have a blog?" I asked Rick.

"I don't."

"You should start one. I've been a writer for 20 years, but it wasn't until I started a blog in the last year that agents started contacting me."

"What's your blog about?" Bartender Betty asked.

"Dating. Sex. I'm also friends with pickup artists, so I write about the seduction community from time to time."

"Wait, are you Dolly?" Realtor Rick asked.

My jaw dropped. "Yes. How do you know?"

Turns out Realtor Rick is a bit of a PUA himself. We talked shop for a bit and laughed at the coincidence, pausing to down another tequila shot from Bartender Betty. He invited me to the NYC lair meeting this Sunday, but unfortunately I can't make it because I won't be in town. I have to say, it was pretty cool being caught out like that. A first.

Rick emailed this morning: Let's keep in touch. You'd be a healthy addition to my entourage.

It's funny, because I recently ended my affiliation with Project Manhattan and didn't expect to have much interaction with the seduction community for a while. Then the other week, someone I know from PickUp101 emailed to let me know he's moving to NYC in January, and I heart the PickUp101 guys, so there will be hanging out. Then last night I met another freakin' pickup artist. Just when I think I'm getting out, they pull me back in.

Maybe this is a new everything-happens-for-a-reason chapter, maybe being around upbeat, flirtatious guys will pull me out of my slump. Unless it makes me more cynical about dating and courtship. Who knows. I mean, I find some aspects of pickups shady and manipulative and condescending and just plain lame, but it's not all bad. And hey, at least these guys are having the guts to put themselves on the line and approach women (unlike, oh, most of the male NYC population). Realtor Rick started up a conversation last night, and because of that I might have made a new friend. We should all talk to strangers more.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

(not) in the cards

The other day, Mom and I took a day trip to Atlantic City (because the family that gambles together stays together). The casino we favor is old school, with over-the-top d├ęcor (chandeliers the size of cars, filigree on every available column, railing, and archway, carpets with dizzying patterns and colors) and more old ladies at slot machines than you can shake a stick at. Going to Atlantic City is like a little escape from reality. I can pass the hours at a poker table, drinking free mimosas and marveling at the pot-bellied, mustachioed men and permed, over-bejeweled women sitting around me. Every other time I go, I am also mistaken by one of the dealers or pit bosses for a former cigarette girl ("you could be her twin!"), which is amusing.

The ingenious design of casinos, from the bright din of slot machines to the absence of windows and clocks, make it easy to get lost in the moment. Add to all of that the possibility of losing/winning lots of money for doing nothing more than pushing a button, putting down a few chips in the right square, or gesturing at a few playing cards, and you have yourself a place of vague squalor and surreal possibility.

I was dealt a full house my first hand out. Still groggy from the ride to New Jersey, my win didn't fully register. I didn't feel that rush of adrenaline that usually accompanies a gambling windfall. Gradually, I became more alert and started to enjoy the game and the people-observing. There was the pretty Asian lady who provided non-stop commentary at every hand and called out, "Gimme lady! Gimme lady!" whenever her hand contained a queen. There was a group of dopey Kevin-Federline-types who shouted monosyllabic comments to each other across the tables, proclaiming their dim-wittedness for anyone within earshot. There were the usual elderly married couples in sweatsuits. Then there was the young guy in a leather jacket who bore a passing resemblance to Peter Krause (Nate) from Six Feet Under, who sat down next to me--

Wait, hang on a second. Huh?

This wasn't possible. I rarely saw guys my age at the casino, and never, ever, ones I found attractive.

The second he sat down, I won a hand.

"See, you won because of me," he said.

I laughed. "Are you saying you are my lucky charm?"

"Clearly. Of course, I expect a half of your winnings for my cut."

"Oh, is that your commission?"

"It is. My name's Mark," he held out his hand.

I smiled and shook it. "Dolly."

Mark took his chips and placed a bet.

The dealer pointed to the spot for the bonus bet.

"I don't play it," he shook his head.

My eyes widened. "I thought I was one of the only people who don't play it. People even get upset with me. But it's a sucker bet."


I liked this guy already.

The next half hour or so was spent chatting and flirting, and being thoroughly distracted from my cards. I learned Mark is in marketing and lives one borough over. In fact, we're on opposite ends of the same subway line, which we take to the same stop to go to work.

"So what else..." Mark would ask, evidently wanting to keep the conversation going.

"Did you get here today?" I asked.

"Yeah, a little while ago. You?"

"I'm here with my mom, just for the day."

"I'm here with my mom, too," he seemed faintly sheepish, which was very cute.

"Mom doesn't really play the tables, though. She's more into slots."

"Same with my mom."

More pleasant chatter and then he said, "Well, I'm going to try my luck at roulette. It was nice talking to you."

"You too."

Just like that, he left.

Okay, so I can't always tell if a guy likes me (case in point, Neighbor Neil). In Marketing Mark's case, however, it was more than evident that he was into me. We were vibing and clearly had things in common (I mean, how many people go gambling with their mothers?). He was bold enough to sit down beside me and chat me up, yet didn't close the deal by getting my number. I don't know what happened. Could be that my avant garde movie tastes were a dealbreaker, or he just lost his nerve, or changed his mind. Either way, disappointing. Pretty much the theme of the season.

Ah well, at least I took some money home playing poker. Lucky in cards and all that.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

switching teams is not an option

"In a way, it's like we're dating," I said to Roommate Rachel.

We were at Bar S, shaking off the Monday blues over a drink.

"I mean, we spend lots of time together," I continued, "And we've grown pretty close the last couple of months. We just don't do the smooching part."

"Yeah, no offense, but I don't want to smooch you."

"Same here. Still, in some ways, it's like we're having a relationship. Except that it's more fun and not as draining as dating can be. I never feel like I'm wasting my time when we hang out."

"Me neither."

We did some more girl bonding, and I recounted Saturday's encounter with Neighbor Neil.

"On one hand, I'm glad we kissed, I needed to be kissed. On the other hand, he made it pretty clear that he's not interested in dating me, so I'm all out of prospects. I kind of officially give up. Which is fine, because that's when they say it happens, right?"

Rachel nodded.

"Great. Then from this moment on, I totally and unequivocally give up. I state for the record that I never expect to meet another suitable man ever again."

We laughed.

Rachel talked about her dating woes a bit. She was out on a couple of dates with a guy Coworker Chris nicknamed Slice, probably because of his generic nature (or maybe because we were drunk and Chris hadn't eaten dinner). Slice was attractive and attentive but, ultimately, fatally bland. Roommate Rachel couldn't bear the thought of hurting his feelings. We tried to figure out a nice way she could end things.

"Don't tell Slice you like someone else," I advised. "That's never nice for the ego. How about you tell him you have all this other life stuff to figure out, and it's overwhelming you?"

"Ooh, that's good. Because it is true."

"And that way it's not about him, it's all you."

"Brilliant. That's what I'll say."

I paused. "I believe what we just came up with is: It's not you, it's me. Very original."

"Poor Slice."

Back home, around 10:30, while Rachel and I watched Favorite Show, there was a knock on the door. Neighbor Neil.

"Just a minute!" I scrambled into my room to put on a bra. Damn, I'll never be able to lounge in sweats and no make-up now.

"Hey, I just back from classes, and wanted to return this to you."

At the door, Neil handed over the bottle what was left of the vodka we drank on Saturday.

"Wow, did we drink that much?!" I looked at how little was left.

"Well, it was open when we started... but, yeah, we did a pretty good job."

"High five."

We chatted for a few more minutes, with surprisingly little awkwardness.

When I returned to the living room, Rachel nodded and said,

"You two have chemistry."

"I think I'm shaking a little bit. Damn it, that means I like him."

"He likes you."

"What do you mean, how can you tell? You think so?"

"Yeah, he's just confused. He's young."

"He's my age."

"But you're still older."

"You're right. But how could you tell we had chemistry?"

"It was the rhythm of your talking. You and he have this rhythm that you and I don't have."

"The banter."

"Exactly. Like that Nick and Nora thing you were saying you wanted."

"I do want it. I mean, we don't need to solve Jazz Age mysteries together or name our dog Asta, but if I wanted a martini at ten in the morning, it would be nice to have a man who would make one for me. And vice versa. But it's not even about the martinis--I don't even like martinis all that much. It's more the playful banter; it's downright crucial."

"You have very high standards."

"Which is why I plan on being single for a while yet. Except that it's going to happen to both of us, and soon."

"You think so?" Rachel asked.

"You bet. It's going to be the winter of our content, remember?"

Rachel and I giggled.

"Yes. It has to be. It will."

Score one for optimism.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Wacky Neighbor

"I have been going through serious kiss withdrawl," I said to Billy on Saturday night. It was shaping up to be a typical night at Bar K with Willow and the gang. "Even so, you can't let me make out with anyone icky, no matter how much I drink tonight."

It wasn't going to be an issue. Bar K had an especially rowdy, fratty crowd that night, and the only man who flirted with me was an obese gay man who said,

"Honey, you are fierce. I'm gay, but I could do terrible things to you."

There isn't enough rum in the world.

The night got cut short by Willow's over-consumption of generously poured apple martinis.

"I think you should take Willow home, she's not feeling well," Billy said to me.

I won't get into the pukey specifics, but there was some hair-holding while Willow purged the evil alcohol from her belly. I bought her some ginger ale and, after some frustrated wandering, we finally managed to flag down a cab. There was a lot of apologizing on her part, and I offered sympathy, knowing her nausea that would make way for a monster of a hangover the following day. I've been there. I'm just glad I could offer a tiny bit of help.

The car dropped me off at my place some time after 1:30am, which felt early since I was still buzzed, but alert. I smoked a cigarette on the stoop, deciding to catch up on a Netflix or two before bed. I also wondered about Neighbor Neil.

I hadn't seen Neighbor Neil since our initial meeting on Tuesday. Despite any pathetic tactics I used to try to run into him again (humming as I entered the building, jangling my keys and taking a little too long to enter the apartment, taking out the recycling several times a day), I knew it would happen when I least expected it.

Just as I unlocked my apartment door and was about to step in, the door across the hall opened, and out walked Neighbor Neil. Looking taller and cuter than I remembered.

He asked about my night and I gave him the brief rundown, making sure to mention that I was still wide awake, since the evening ended sooner than I anticipated, and painting myself as a most selfless and heroic friend.

"What about you, are you just starting your night?" I joked.

He laughed. "No, I just came out to check the mail."

We chatted for several more minutes, about Favorite Show and a few other things, while I stood with a foot propping open my front door. We both kept finding reasons to prolong the conversation and Neil finally asked,

"Hey, since you're still up, do you want to come in for a drink?"

Hell. Yes.

"Sure. Let me just drop off a couple of things."

Once inside, in the space of about 90 seconds I managed to go to the bathroom, fix my hair and make-up, throw my jacket and scarf on the couch, eat a breath mint, and do a happy dance. I took nothing but my keys and crossed the great hallway divide...

Neil gave me a tour of the apartment, which has an identical layout to mine with a few differences (my bedroom is bigger, his kitchen/living area is more spacious, etc.). He then asked if he could take a quick peek at my place. He did show me his, after all, so I showed him mine. I apologized for the clutter, but he was too busy staring at my Collection, which fills the living room. The Collection is a constant source of amazement/bafflement to new people who meet me.

Anyway, we went back to Neil's place and settled on his couch with a couple of drinks. I learned a bit more about him: he's my age, from the Midwest, and in grad school, with a fun and unusual concentration. I also discovered that we have practically no music taste in common. Neighbor Neil gave me a CD holder to choose music to play in the background, and I didn't even recognize half the bands in the book. Which is a shame, because I love to bond with people over music, which has served as the core of many a friendship/relationship over the years. Whatever, he was still attractive... and appeared to be attracted to me, too. He asked me questions, cracked jokes, and made light physical contact, but also had that I-fancy-you gleam in his eye. Roommate Rachel was right.

The more we talked (and drank), the more comfortable we became physically, sitting close, legs and sides pressed together, touching each others' arms, laughing and leaning our heads together.

And then we were holding hands, foreheads pressed together, sitting quietly.

"I think this is where you're supposed to kiss me," I almost said, but didn't. I didn't want to rush the moment.

Neighbor Neil took my other hand, laced his fingers through it.

"Here's the thing," he began. "You're my neighbor. I want us to be able to hang out and watch Favorite show and movies."

"Me too."

"And if I kiss you..."

"I don't want there to be any awkwardness, either."

"So we're friends, it's casual...?"

"Yeah, of course."

"Okay, good."

"Though one of us has to be the wacky neighbor. Which one do you think?"

"I think that would be you."

I smiled, pleased. "It's because of the Collection, that's what pushed me over, right?"

We got silent again, and Neil ran a hand over my body, still not moving his face, still pressing his forehead to mine.

"Were you really checking your mail at 1:30 in the morning?" I asked.

"I forgot to earlier and was expecting a Netflix."

"Hm." I was skeptical.

I waited and gradually he tilted his chin and gave me a small kiss.

"See, that was friendly and neighborly, right?" he asked.

"Hm, I don't know, I think it could have been a little more friendly."

"Why don't you show me?"

Full on making out ensued. Once he checked that there were no strings attached, he did his best to get in my pants. Which of course wasn't going to happen. I was kiss-starved, but casual sex is something I'm trying to avoid indefinitely. Still, after some initial clumsiness, the kissing was good, and got us both pretty hot and bothered. If I had decided to sleep with him, I probably would have been in for quite a treat based on how--ahem--excited he was.

At one point he was on top of me and I asked, "Your roommmate isn't going to walk in any second, is she? Because then this would be even more like a sitcom."

"No, she's at her boyfriend's."

When he tried to get the clothes off, I knew it was time to go home. I sat up on the couch and we shared a couple of soft, tender kisses. Those kisses in particular, however brief they were, made my night. Obviously there wasn't any great emotional connection between us, and those sweet kisses were not reflective of any true feelings, but even the pretense was comforting.

I stood up.

"So we'll watch Favorite Show some time."

"Yeah... I can leave my email or something..." I said.

"Or I could go across the hallway and knock on your door."

"That, too."

"Cool, so alright... we'll be friendly and casual."

Okay, I get it, you're Casual Guy.

A brief make-out session at the door and I commenced the world's shortest Walk of Shame.

I checked the time: 5:00am. I checked my face in the mirror. My lips were slightly swolen, reddened from recent kissing.

Sometimes, if you send a request to the universe, it gets heard. Yes, it has been lonely, all the more isolating because of the recent depression. And kissing is my favorite thing in the world, so it was tough to go these last couple of months without it (the weird guy from the Halloween party doesn't count).

The kisses from Neighbor Neil, casual and illusory as they were, helped bring me back to life in a way. After findout just how many bad surprises life can pile on, it was cool to experience a moment of pleasant happenstance.

Of course, the problem with kisses is that once you get some, you want more. I don't expect this to become a pattern with Neil, and I'm pretty sure we're not meant for each other, so it has to be enough. It'll hold me over until something less casual crosses my path.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Good Day

"It's going to be a good winter for us, I can feel it. I think we had to endure such a difficult autumn, but now things are going to turn around."

There's still a month of autumn to go, but I believe Roommate Rachel. After our collective moping of the last couple of months, yesterday we both had good days.

It was nothing major. Work was pleasant, then I had an amazing workout before meeting Rachel and a friend for drinks. Rachel's meeting ran late, which gave me an hour to wander around Union Square. I bought a pair of boots on sale, some specialized shampoo I had been hunting down for the last two weeks, a new lipstick. Rachel finally made it downtown and she, her friend, and I had a lively conversation in a cozy pub. The subway ride home was smooth, and Rachel and I chattered away, our moods boistered by a stress-free day and the bottle of Riesling we shared at dinner. I persuaded her to go for one more quick drink at Bar S, wanting to prolong the evening's fun just a bit further.

Bar S is two blocks from our apartment, and its proximity and relaxed European vibe make it one of my favorite local places to go. We settled at a small table, I smiled at the Velvet Underground song being played, and Rachel and I talked about everything and nothing while extending our buzz. What's this, is it possible I felt the traces of happiness? Wonders never cease.

"All we need now is a cigarette."

"Yes!" Rachel agreed, "But I left mine at home."

"Me too. Luckily, we don't have far to go."

We smoked our cigarettes on our front stoop. Shortly after we lit them, a neighbor came out to take out the trash, and introduced himself to us.

"I'm Neighbor Neil."

He shook hands with both of us, and stayed outside to chat.

Neil was cute! Tall, slender, with dark hair and eyes. And he seemed straight (the other men in the building I encountered haven't been). Not to mention friendly; this was the first neighbor either of us really talked to.

The only thing better than getting to know a neighbor is getting to know an attractive neighbor. The three of us made small talk and I don't know if I managed to flirt at all, because after weeks of seeing no cute guys anywhere, I was so surprised to find one living across the hall from me.

"Did you also not have heat in your apartment for over a week?" I asked.

"Yeah, it was pretty bad."

"Wasn't it the worst?" I might have had a little too much enthusiasm in my voice.

Neighbor Neil and Roommate Rachel talked for a few minutes, and I wondered if he was more interested in her (presuming he was interested in either of us). As he was going back inside, he turned around and asked,

"Have you two been watching Favorite Show?"

Roommate Rachel and I have, in fact, been indulging in mini-marathons of Favorite Show; it has been our happy place in recent times.

"Yeah, I own all the episodes and have been getting Roommate Rachel into it."

"I have all the episodes of Favorite Show, too."

"We're in the middle of Season Four right now. You should come over and watch Favorite Show with us some time." I'm sure I wouldn't have been bold enough to say that if it hadn't been for that last drink.

Neil and I geeked out on the show for a few minutes, and he went back inside for good.

"He likes you," Rachel said, barely two seconds later.

"Shhh!! He might hear... You really think so?" I whispered.

"Oh definitely. He wasn't interested in anything I had to say, but when you talked, he gave you his full attention."


The rest of our conversation was hushed, because his bedroom window, like mine, faces the street, and that any talking outside the building can be heard clearly.

Later on, I also recalled that he didn't seem to have that much trash in the bag he brought out (and seriously, who takes the garbage out at midnight?). Which means he might have heard us chatting and came outside with the intent to meet his cute female neighbors. Of course, I could be over-thinking it. Either way, it was a nice surprise and a perfect cap to the evening.

To me, happiness isn't about having grand life events occur; it's about the accumulation of small, pleasing things, paired with hope and anticipation. Having a good day like the one yesterday was like seeing a trailer for future happiness.

"When it comes, you'll recognize it and appreciate it so much more because of everything you've been going through."

Rachel's right. Who knows, maybe the wretched autumn will indeed make way for a cheery winter.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Misery and Co.

Just now, it sounded like a noir movie outside my window: rain beating down, sirens shrieking past, and somebody in a nearby apartment playing the saxaphone. It's a good week for melancholia, with wet and gray weather promised for a few days yet. There's a lot of gloom in the air and many friends around me are miserable. There's the one whose job make her cry, the one who moved thousands of miles only to have her heart broken, the one whose job and man make her cry. There's my mother. There's me.

"It's even harder for you because you don't have a man in your life," Mom said, wiping my tears in the back of a taxi. "You don't have anyone to go to for extra support besides me. And I don't have anyone but you. We both need to find good men."

"A man wouldn't solve everything. That wouldn't make me realize my place in the world. I don't want to be a wife and mother and nothing else. I want to accomplish something more... I just don't know what."

"But it would make it easier."

I looked at the blurred empty streets beyond the rain-speckled window. The car jerked at the turns and stops, the driver grumbled at traffic lights.

"Maybe. But there aren't any good ones. Or none around here."

And even if there are, I'm not about to go looking for them. I can barely maintain minimal contact with a third of my friends at the moment. I have nothing to say, because nothing is different. Every day that I don't cry at work or on the subway is a small battle won. Every minor thing that makes me smile is miraculous. I can pull it together for a night out here and there, have moments where I feel at ease. On Saturday, out with a college friend, sipping on a glass of wine, waiting for a band to come on, hearing a Depeche Mode song, and I felt a tiny sense of elation filling me up. For those few minutes, I felt content and pretty and upbeat and in the moment.

Those moments have been increasingly more elusive. I wonder how long it's going to go on, this hazy, aimless sadness. I don't know what's worse, the hours of not feeling anything at all or the flashes where I can't keep it together, where it hits me all at once and not always in the best time or place, like outside a movie theater or in a taxi. It's so familiar, this bleak nothingness, but somehow it hasn't gotten easier. Not yet.

Change is inevitable, but seems inconceivable right now. I can't see a way out of this dark and lonely place any time soon, so it seems better to keep to myself. I have some time off coming up and will probably plan a small trip away. New York is grating on me, so it will do me good. Haven't decided where to go, though. Finding direction has never been my strong suit.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour...

I saw Mom yesterday, for the first time in a couple of weeks. I took her out to a show, bought her a gift, tried to cheer her up. She looked better, but still fragile, still grieving. It made me feel guilty that I haven't been doing more to help her aside from calling. More than guilty, devastated.

Over the last week, the depression was beginning to wane. All the effort I put into not moping, from exercising to socializing more, was starting to pay off. I wasn't exactly brimming with joy, but I no longer felt like an emotional black hole. Last night, that awful, hopeless feeling started creeping up on me again.

Then I had this dream that instead of living four blocks away, TV Tyler and Film Felix lived across the hall from me (isn't that a sitcom waiting to happen). One day, I heard a noise across the hall, so I looked in the peephole and saw the two of them leaving their apartment with a couple of friends. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but they were pointing to my door and gesturing, and their muffled voices sounded wry and mocking. Then Film Felix glanced over and, as if seeing right through the door, gave me a dirty look. I woke up feeling all kinds of hated and humiliated. Great way to kick off a Monday.

There are so many days to fill and I don't know what to do with them. I don't have the inspiration to write, I don't have the attention span to read, and all the other things that used to make me happy...don't. At least, not for long. The best I can hope for these days is temporary respite. I thought about seeing a therapist, but I don't think it would help. I know what's wrong with me. I have people to talk to. I'm not suppressing anything or in denial about part of my identity. I'm just trying to cope with the hurdles as best as possible and not always doing the best job. I don't need to pay someone lots of money to tell me things I already know and I don't want to be prescribed anything that will turn me into a shiny happy me. I'd rather slug out this crisis (existential and otherwise) on my own.

Besides, it's more than the fallout from a break-up, death in the family, illness, and work badness. I turned down a possible book deal (long story, I don't want to talk about it) and my agent is leaving her company and agenting altogether (which has nothing to do with me). While I have taken this latest news in stride and not fallen apart like I did in the previous weeks, it has made me wonder if I'm even cut out to be a writer and if I'll ever develop a career I love. This whole finding-your-place-in-the-world thing can be so damn tricky.

I had a feeling the Worst Autumn Ever had more in store for me. These days, it's a struggle to hold on to any shred of optimism and not succumb to cynicism. I try to focus on the good things, really I do. I'm privileged in many ways and taking that for granted only makes me feel worse, guiltier. My problem is lack of perspective. It's inconceivable to me that things will improve any time soon. The best I can hope for at this point is that my outlook does.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


We finally found a bar that didn't have any hipster or slutty pirate patrons. That's because there were six people there, total.

He came over specifically to talk to me.

"What's your costume supposed to be?"

I held up the wig, which had grown uncomfortable after several hours spent at several bars, and explained.

"What about you?" I examined his sweatband, hotpants, sunglasses. "Are you someone from Boogie Nights?"

"No, but that would have been a great idea. I'm just an 80's kid."

Even before he took off the shades, at my insistence, I knew he'd be good-looking. Ridiculously tall (6'3"? 6'4"?), light-haired, blue-eyed, the usual suspect. Except that he was more conventionally attractive than the men I normally like. Very healthy-looking and All-American, he wouldn't have been out of place on a WB show. Willow said he reminded her of Ashton Kutcher.

Turns out Ashtony and I went to the same college, though I graduated a few years earlier. Willow and Cowboy Carl were also fellow alums, so Ashtony bonded with my friends, enjoying the impromptu reunion. When he went to the bathroom, Cowboy Carl turned to me and said,

"Oh my god, he is bad news. I knew his ex-girlfriend in college."

"What did he do to her?"

"There was this weird sex stuff. He also cheated on her three times."

"Good to know."

Ashtony and I flirted, sat close together, smiled at each other. He asked a lot of questions and took pictures, holding his arm way out to get us both in the frame.

"Let's do one where we look pensive." We pouted into the camera.

There was no weird sex stuff. No kissing, even. The smooching circumstances weren't right.

He sent me a drunken text while I was in the taxi home and another one the next morning, translating his previous message. He hopes to see me again.

Once again, I learn that not looking for male attention is the best way to get it.

I would like to see those photos, though.