Monday, February 26, 2007

A Thing for Blondes (Saturday Night, Part Two)

These days, it's not a normal weekend without a visit to Cozy Bar. Polly had other plans after the play, but Willow and I ended up there some time around midnight.

Every time I go there, I see more and more familiar faces. First, I ran into a friend of Sophie's, then a group of people who were also at Ben's play earlier that night, and then--of course--Magazine Mitch. He was chatting with a couple of women and I wasn't about to interrupt his game, so I waved and left him to it.

A minute later, he called over to me and made a motion like he was smoking a cigarette.

"You want to go for a smoke? Sure, let's go." I started to reach for my coat, but he pointed to the back.

"Let's go to our place." He led us to the ladies room.

"Even better."

In the bathroom, I fumbled for my lighter while he opened the window.

"So I was at Ben's play earlier. He gets naked in it. I nearly died."

"Oh yeah, we were supposed to see that together." He nodded, remembering.

"We were, but you never called."

"I know. And I have your number right next to my bed."

"Well, if you still want to go, I'll see it with you," I said, taking his flakiness in stride.

We smoked our cigarettes and before I knew it, we were making out again. There's something about being tipsy that makes me really crave kisses. It may have been a smooch of convenience for both of us, but it was fun, and what I needed in that moment.

"I think I still miss my ex," he sighed.

"So you keep saying. It's funny how we're both hung up on other people."

"Are you going to start going on about Bloody Ben again?"

"No. But you cannot ever, ever tell Ben that we kissed. This has to be our secret. If you ever tell him, I will cut you."

Mitch laughed. "Did you just say you'll cut me? Nobody's ever said that to me before."

I giggled and we kissed again.

"You're a great kisser."

"Thank you," I replied. "You're pretty good, too."

Someone knocked on the door.

"Just a minute!" I called out.

"They're going to either think we're in here doing coke, or I have you bent over the sink..." he got lost in thought a moment. "When are you and I going to get it on, Dolly? We bloody well should."

"I don't think that's going to happen."

"No, really, we should just pick a day and do it... Are you wearing a g-string?"

"Yes... Mitch, you need to stop grabbing my ass."

When we went back to the bar area, Mitch pointed to a gorgeous, Elle Macpherson-looking woman at a table chatting with some friends.

"Ben's in love with her, but she's married. He's got a thing for blondes."

"He does?" My eyes grew wide. "That's awesome!"

Mitch and I went our separate ways. Willow ended up leaving after about an hour, but I stayed and talked to anyone and everyone, including a recent Italian immigrant who works in a nearby restaurant, a couple who owns a shop down the street, and one of Polly's lawyer friends who I met last week. I also spent some time chatting with a young, adorable, but overly cocky Edward Furlong look-a-like, trying to give him pointers on how to be more successful with women (lesson one was to call them "women" instead of "bitches"... yes, it might have been a hopeless cause).

At one point, Furlong-ish was chatting up Elle-y right next to me at the bar. I don't remember what foolish things he said, but she and I rolled our eyes and smiled at each other. I leaned over and said,

"I'm trying to help him, but I don't think anything I'm saying is sinking in."

She turned to Furlong-ish and said, "You should listen to her."

Then the two of us started chatting. As is the case with nearly every female I bond with at the bar, it was a matter of minutes before I confessed my crush on Barman Ben.

Her eyes flashed with anger. "That guy is a player. He knows I'm married and tried to make out with me."

"He what? I think we should discuss this over a cigarette."

Elle-y, her married friend, and I went outside.

"She likes Ben," Elle-y told her friend, who shook her head.

"I know it's not a good idea," I sighed, "But I really can't help it."

"He's a player and he's probably bad in bed," Elle-y spat out.

How did she know?! "How do you know?"

"I can tell, just by looking at him, just by the way he carries himself. You know a guy like that is going to be bad in bed."

Elle-y's friend nodded in agreement.

I asked what happened the night he made a pass at her. Six months ago, she and a couple of friends closed out the bar and they (along with Ben) were all going to share a taxi. She and Ben happened to be in the back room of the bar and he kept trying to kiss her, which pissed her off.

As forgiving and open-minded as I am about some things, going after someone who's married is something I find utterly despicable. This woman really was beautiful, though, and part of me couldn't blame Ben (I'm as straight as the day is long, but another drink or two and I might have wanted to kiss her myself). Still, it was inappropriate of him, and doesn't bode well for his character considering he also hit on Mitch's girlfriend.

"I wish I could forget about him," I told the married friends. "I've tried dating, kissing, even sleeping with other guys, but nothing has worked. And I think I might even have a chance with him."

"You just need fuck him and get him out of your system," Elle-y said. "He's not even that cute."

"I think he's one of the best-looking men I've ever seen. And I don't want to fuck him, I just want to kiss him," I replied.

"I'll tell you what you should do. Wear lots of black eye make-up. He has a thing for Bridget Bardot. The night he was hitting on me, I came from a club, wearing tons of eyeliner, and he kept saying how I looked like Bridget Bardot. Trust me," she nodded knowingly.

Here I was, playing it demure and understated all this time. I'll say this much, though. On Saturday, I was showing cleavage for the first time in ages, and I loved how sexy and confident it made me feel. Yes, I did have to tell Furlong-y to stop staring down my dress and attempt some actual eye contact (that was... lesson four?), but after spending the last two months shedding close to 20 pounds (weight I had put on as a result of the depression), it felt great wearing something more body-conscious. If there's anyone who can rock the buxom, smokey-eyed blonde bombshell thing, it's me. I've played it too safe, too sweet, but no more. Ben won't know what hit him.

At this point, some might argue that I should come to my senses once and for all and give up on Ben. I told my mother about meeting Elle-y on Saturday, expecting her to tell me I can do better, etc.

"I think she's jealous," Mom replied.

"Of what? She's gorgeous and happily married. And Ben wanted her. She could've had him."

"I don't know, there's something about her anger. I think there is some jealousy there."

"Why? Because I'm available? Because her marital status prevented her from doing anything with him?"


"Mom, I'm so surprised you're not trying to dissuade me from being with him. You're usually the first person to tell me, 'he's not for you.' This man made a pass on a married woman!"

She laughed. "So what? Does that mean he doesn't deserve a second chance? Does that mean he's not good enough for you?"

Why is my mother, the perennial voice of reason, rooting for me here? Aren't I sabotaging my emotional health and stability by falling for someone like Ben?

I considered what she said, mentioned Warren Beatty and what a playboy he was before Annette Benning.

"You see? She tamed him," Mom answered.

That she did. But how the hell did she do it?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Eye-opening (Saturday Night, Part One)

I spent yesterday in a nervous haze, knowing it was a matter of hours before I'd see Ben in his play.

Polly, Willow, and I met in a bar across the street from the theater, where I sipped some wine and tried to calm down. I could barely speak, I was in such a strange, unbalanced state. Part of me hoped that the moment I saw Ben on stage, he'd become a real person again, not a star in one of my mental movies, and my feelings for him would dissipate. I hoped he wouldn't be as good-looking as I remembered, or as charismatic and intruiging.

We were in the fourth row. The lights dimmed, and there he was.

A while later, he was naked. On stage. Naked Barman Ben.

I thought I was going to have heart failure.

In my fantasies of Ben, things never go beyond kissing. That's about as much as I would ever hope for, as much as I could handle.

Seeing him naked, even in a theatrical context, sent me into system overload. I could barely pay attention to the dialogue, or anything else going on. I was also trying not to stare, on the off-chance that he saw me in the audience and caught me checking out his package. Ben's in good shape and has a decent body, but I was pleased to see that he wasn't super-buff. I need him to have imperfections and don't want him to be flawless.

There was something about seeing him without clothes that bothered me. It was the same feeling I get when I sleep with a guy too soon; a sense of regret, not at the act itself, but at the loss of mystery. I also felt very shy looking at his body, which isn't the way I would have been with any other male actor on that stage.

I don't know if Ben saw me. It's a pretty small theater, the audience was partially lit for some of the scenes, and I have bright blonde hair (the lead singer of Glam Band has told me several times that he can always spot me in the crowd when he's singing, and I don't even stand near the front at their concerts). I think I caught his eye once, but it's hard to tell, because he was in character.

Speaking of which, he is quite a good actor (great, as if I needed another reason to like him). Objectively speaking, he was easily the best part of the play, which was good overall, but a bit uneven and self-indulgent. Ben, however, gave his character layers, endearing nuances and, overall, it was still the Ben I know from Cozy Bar. If the play did anything, it reminded me why I found him so damn alluring in the first place.

After the show, I was a bit shell-shocked. I think we all were. The ticker-tape in my head repeated the same words over and over:

I just saw Barman Ben naked. Naked Barman Ben. Naked.

We waited outside the theater for a while, but fifteen minutes passed and that seemed like the cut-off mark before it would have been stalker-ish, so we left. I didn't mind not getting the chance to talk to him, because I was a bit stunned and speechless and might not have had much to say, anyway.

Besides, something even better happened later that night, at Cozy Bar. Something that not only revealed Ben as far from flawless (and not in a good way), but has also given me great ammo on how to attract him.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

odds and ends

* I've had another piece published on It's Just Coffee. It's a call for entries of sorts, for readers to submit stories of their best and worst dates. I share one of my own bad date stories to tempt others to do likewise. We're hoping to make this a regular feature, so please contribute your dating joys and horrors. The piece can be found here.

* Saturday is the big day. Willow, Polly, and I are going to see Barman Ben's play. It will mark four weeks since I have last seen him and I am terribly excited. Tomorrow I'm going shopping for something special (yet appropriately casual and decidedly not trying-too-hard) to wear. There's no guarantee I'll get to see him or talk to him after the show, but I will be looking better than my best.

* I'm going on vacation is less than three weeks, alone, to a country where I don't speak the language, where I will be exploring and hiking and undoubtedly having the time of my life. The change of scenery will do me good. I've never traveled on my own before (though I'll be with a small tour group) and am looking forward to the challenges and experiences that await. Leaving town usually gives me some perspective on my current situation in life and I'm hoping this trip will do the same.

* I ran into Neighbor Neil on Saturday, for the first time in nearly three (!) months. He was leaving his apartment and I was just coming into the building, home from a party, dressed to the nines, with perfect hair and femme fatale red lipstick. We made chit-chat for a few minutes, then I said I needed to get to bed and was the first to say good night. I have no feelings about him, and that one time we kissed feels ages ago, but it was nice to see him after all this time knowing I looked polished, dressed in shiny boots and a suede coat instead of sneakers and a sweatshirt (I always expected to bump into him coming back from a workout).

* The other night I had a dream that Ben and I were at a karaoke bar. There was only time for me to do one song, so I had to choose carefully. It was my one chance to impress him with my karaoke prowess, and I felt a lot was at stake. I decided that I would probably sing Concrete Blonde's "Joey", which has gotten a positive crowd response in the past. I was both anxious and thrilled that Ben would hear me sing, though I woke up before my turn at the mic. I've decided my crush on Ben is something that will go away in its own time and until then, I just have to learn to live with it-- like a limp, or walking pneumonia. In a pale attempt to comfort myself, I started reading Wuthering Heights. Hopefully a wistful, doomed love story will make me feel better about the one I'm living out. "At least I don't live in isolation in the Moors pining for my beloved", I can say to myself.

* My online personals subscription runs out next week and I'm not going to renew it. I've been too busy to check the site much, even to reply to others who have contacted me (well, except for that one James Spader look-a-like with great music taste, because... well, if you're going to resemble any male celebrity, a young James Spader is a hell of a good one). I guess this means I'm pretty much too busy to date. I like that. I should make an effort to keep it that way.

Monday, February 19, 2007

the regulars

I don't know where to begin. There's a lot to update.

I guess I should start with Valentine's Day. Willow and I wanted a pretty low key night out. We weren't in a social mood, but ended up in a bar where she was accosted by an over-the-top Irish guy, who was flirting with every woman in sight. I turned to the guy sitting next to me, fairly attractive and there by himself, and said,

"Thank you for not being a loud, cheesy Irish guy."

The guy (I'll call him VDay Vlad) turned to me, we started talking about lord-knows-what (I was pretty tipsy at this point) and we hit it off. Willow went home pretty soon after, but VDay Vlad and I stayed out a few more hours, discussing music and movies (two of my favorite topics), among other things. He was very sweet, and kept buying me drinks and giving me cigarettes when we went outside to smoke. I thought we might end up kissing later, but I drank a bit too much and hopped in a cab before the walls started spinning.

Vlad made it clear he wanted to see me again, so we made tentative plans for Sunday.

Fast forward to last night. Vlad was nice enough to come into my neighborhood for an early dinner (I know I say it a lot, but I love local dates; maybe it's something about a home court advantage). An hour before the date, Polly sent me a text asking if I wanted to go out. I said maybe later, if the date didn't go well.

While Vlad and I had plenty to talk about on Wednesday, last night's conversation was strained. I'm a pretty talkative person, so I was definitely holding up my end, but Vlad was frustratingly reticent unless replying to a direct question (and even then, not the most dynamic talker). There were actual uncomfortable pauses in the conversation, something I cannot remember happening to me on a date in ages. At first, I went into Barbara Walters mode, and asked questions to get him to talk. After a while, I decided that I was making too much of an effort and focused more on my salmon than my date.

Maybe he was nervous, shy. Vlad is a few years younger than me, and though he struck me as being mature for his age, maybe he was still somewhat intimidated. I don't know. It was one of the most uncomfortable dates I have been on in recent memory.

In the middle of the meal, I went into the bathroom and called Polly, then left her an SOS text, telling her I most definitely wanted to go out later.

I returned to the table, praying that Polly would save me, and sipped my second drink. Even the alcohol didn't help the conversational flow. What happened between Wednesday and Sunday? Vlad went from being chatty and charming to unbearably subdued.

My phone beeped and one surreptitious bathroom call later, Polly and I had plans to meet at Bar Z at 9:30.

Vlad asked if I wanted to go somewhere after the meal, and I said I had promised to meet my friend and flaked on her the previous evening blah-blah-blah-please-get-me-out-of-here.

The check finally, mercifully came, and I offered to contribute, but he insisted on paying, which made me feel guilty.

"Would you like to do this again sometime?"

What can you possibly say to that, right after a man has bought you dinner?

"Sure... though this coming week is pretty busy for me." I stared at the table, hating myself a little.

"This week is busy for me, too. But maybe next weekend."

And then it was mercifully over.

I stopped at home to shake off the bad date energy. I knew the best part of the night was yet to come, because Polly and I always have a great time.

We had one drink at Bar Z, but I wasn't feeling the vibe there, so we went to Cozy Bar.

Despite Barman Ben's absence, I have been spending a lot of time at Cozy Bar, visiting the place at least once a week. It's officially my favorite bar in New York City, and I love being a regular there. Friday night, Coworker Chris and I met there, and I ran into my friend Sophie as well as Magazine Mitch, who I hadn't seen since I spent the night interrogating him about Ben. The other main bartender, Cocktail Carl, now recognizes me and also gives me free drinks. Friday, I was even bold enough to ask Carl if Ben was ever coming back ("I hope not!" he replied, then told me that yes, Ben will return).

The second Polly and I walked into Cozy Bar, our spirits lifted. This place felt like home.

Magazine Mitch was there again last night and we laughed when we spotted one another.

"We haven't seen each other in two whole days!" we said, hugging each other hello.

I introduced him to Polly and Mitch introduced me to his friend, Designer Dan. Dan was cute in the semi-nerdy way I like: glasses, blue eyes, big nose, a thin veneer of confidence covering up a core of awkwardness. This was somebody I thought I might be able to make out with.

Dan and I did well flirting. At one point, I had to ask if he was a pickup artist, because he put his fingers through my hair and said,

"Your hair is so perfect. Is it real?"

I laughed and called over to Polly a few feet away.

"This guy just negged me! Can you believe it?"

Ultimately, I determined that he wasn't studying seduction techniques. Or if he was, he wasn't using using the knowledge in any beneficial way. For example, a few minutes after being introduced to Polly and I, he said that he never talks to women as gorgeous as us and made a crack about having a threesome. We rolled our eyes.

"Real original, Dan," I said.

"Yeah, nobody's ever mentioned that to us before," Polly added.

When I was left to chat with Dan on my own, he made a few more "joking" remarks about going back to his apartment to have sex. He was uncouth, but still cute, and intelligent enough that it wasn't boring to talk to him. I wasn't interested in sleeping with him, but I've been in kiss withdrawal lately, so I saw the potential smooch opportunity.

Dan and I ended up talking about sex and threesomes. I said I wasn't interested in having one with two girls, but would consider one with two guys.

"You know, Mitch lives right upstairs," Dan said, an excited gleam in his eyes.

"Yes, I know," I laughed dismissively.

"No, I'm serious. We could all go over to his place. Hey, Mitch," Dan waved him over. "What do you think of me, her, and you, at the same time."

Mitch looked amused. "I'd rather have her to myself, mate. I don't want to have to...for there to be any..."

"Crossing of swords?" I helpfully supplied.

"Yeah," Mitch nodded, "If you could figure out a way that the two of us don't have to touch..."

Dan looked like he was seriously contemplating a way to make it work. I'd be a liar if I said I didn't consider it for a second or two myself. I mean, I'm not like guys are when it comes to threesomes (most of them, anyway), who find it the biggest turn on in the world and absolutely must experience one before they die. Neverthless, given the right circumstances and the right two men... let's just say I wouldn't rule it out.

However, last night did not provide the right circumstances (I was too tipsy by then, not to mention sporting unshaven legs).

Designer Dan was somewhat touchy-feely with me and at one point, we came in close enough that I thought we were going to kiss, but for whatever reason we didn't. Then he went to go flirt with some of the other women in the bar, and by the time he returned, I lost all interest in him. He had a bit of a sleazy streak, which I might have mentioned as he was leaving (though in a cute, flirtatious way--I think).

I don't know what time Polly left, but I stayed behind to chat with Mitch.

Even though I don't consider him a dating prospect, Mitch is a blast to hang out with. He's funny, laid back, playful, and easy to talk to. And yes, pretty cute, especially when Barman Ben isn't around to cast a shadow over all other men with his motherfucking gorgeousness. Also, I am no longer fazed by British accents, but admit that Mitch's is nice on the ears.

"I was so drunk that first night we met. I hardly remember what I might have said to you," he said.

"You said you were still hung up on your last girlfriend."

"Blimey, I really was drunk. I don't know if that's true, though. I was with her for superficial reasons."

"You also tried to get me to come over and smoke pot with you. And it took you about two hours of endless questions about Ben before you realized I had a thing for him. It wasn't until I asked if he was a player that it dawned on you, and then you said you think I could 'get with him.'"

He laughed, remembering. "That's right. I still think you could get with him."

"Really?" I looked at him with all the hope in the world. "Will you go see his play with me?"

"Sure. But we need to find out the details."

"I know all the details," I rattled off the dates, times, and location.

"When do you want to go?"

"Thursday. But if we talk to him, can you please please please tell Ben it was all your idea?"

I know I was putting a lot of trust in Mitch, but--

  • I think he's a good guy.
  • I am absolutely dying to see Ben's play.
  • I was drunk.

I realized when I drink, I talk about the last two things in the world I should be talking about: my secret internet identity and being in love with Barman Ben. I don't think I mentioned this blog to Mitch, but it's pretty impossible for me to talk about Ben without getting all starry-eyed.

It was so great being able to talk to Mitch about Ben, because he's known the guy for a few years (also, I've been trying to discuss Ben as little as possible with my friends, because I can only imagine how tired they must be of hearing about him). Apparently, Ben made a pass at Mitch's last girlfriend ("It's not a big deal, I still think he's a great guy").

Somehow, and I'm betting the alcohol had something to do with it, Mitch and I flirted with each other.

"It's funny, considering we're both in love with other people," I said to him. "I mean, you're still hung up on your ex."

"And what about you?" he rolled his eyes, "Oh right, you're in love with the bloody bartender."

"Let's go outside for a cigarette."

"It's too cold out there. I have a better idea."

Mitch and I waited until Cocktail Carl wasn't looking, snuck into the ladies room, opened the window, and had a smoke. Just as we were finishing, somebody knocked on the door.

"Ha, they're going to think I was in here giving you a blowjob."

Back at the bar, and this is where things get a bit hazy. More flirting and laughing and drinking, and Mitch became more physically affectionate, putting his arm around me, running his fingers through my hair, etc. It was nice. At some point, while we were leaning in to each other laughing the laugh of drunk people, he gave me a peck on the lips. I smiled, turned away, and started chatting with some girl at the bar. Turns out, a friend of hers had a fling with Ben a year ago (I wonder if he was getting divorced at the time). She also mentioned that Ben passed out fliers for his play a couple of weeks ago. Perfect.

It was time for another smoke break, another furtive trip to the bathroom. We opened the window and shivered over our cigarettes.

"This is fun," we said and laughed again.

Mitch got a serious look on his face and came in for another kiss, a longer one. I went along with it. We made out for a minute or two, holding out our lit cigarettes.

I was happy to get kisses, but a nervous feeling told me it was time to go home.

"This is going to be our secret," I said.

I gave Mitch my contact info so that he could get in touch about seeing the play on Thursday. If he doesn't call, I might just go anyway.

I talked to Mom, admitting that no matter what I do to try to distract myself, I can't get my mind off Ben.

"That's because things are still unresolved for you with him. Things are still unfinished."

It looks like this story is going to need at least one more chapter...

[ETA: Not five minutes after posting this, I got copied on a mass email from Ben about the play. Quite the coincidence, no?]

in brief

Tonight... (in no particular order) I had a date, got propositioned for a guy-girl-guy threesome with two attractive men, went drinking with Polly, found a way I might legitimately be able to go see Barman Ben's play, and got kisses.

But I'm way too drunk and tired to go into the details...

Friday, February 16, 2007

in dreams begin responsibilities

I have been enjoying the company of a very special male this week. He's affectionate, attentive, playful, and a great cuddler. He shows boundless joy when he sees me and is despondent when we have to part ways. He has also been waking me up at ungodly hours and is responsible for my current weary, sleep-deprived state.

In other words, I'm dog-sitting. Luckily, I'm looking after one of the most lovable pooches on the planet. This is why I can forgive being woken up at 7:30am on a Saturday. It's why I have tolerated extra commutes to come home, walk the dog, and take the subway back out into the city for my evening plans. It's why I didn't even get too upset when I came home the other night and found the garbage can overturned, trash strewn on the kitchen floor, and a puddle of leftover Chinese food vomit in the living room.

I knew a dog was a lot of responsibility, but this is the first time I have taken care of one on my own. It has surprised me just how much of a dent it has made on my schedule and lifestyle. Saturday night, I walked him before and after (we're talking 3:00am) I went out, in the hopes that I would get to sleep in, and was still woken up early (though he was kind enough to wait until 9:00am). And there's nothing like navigating snowy/icy streets in the bitter cold, waiting for a dog to do its business.

At the same time, it has been such a pleasure having him around. I find myself not wanting to go out as much (though I've had to because of a number of social obligations) and feeling a bit guilty when I do. I have this crazy, protective love for the dog, because he is so dependant on me to take care of his basic needs and loves me back, unconditionally. It's also a bit intimidating.

This week made me realize just how much I enjoy my independence. Some day, I'd like to have the full package (husband, dog, child), but can't imagine it being any time soon.

I wonder if I'm developing some committment issues. The idea of being responsible for a living being is terribly daunting to me at the moment, especially in the romantic sense. I can't even deal with being instrumental in providing for a dog's happiness, to say nothing a human being's. Obviously, I should remove the word "date" from my vocabulary for the foreseeable future. Whenever I have started feeling a bit emotionally open in recent times, it has spooked me, made me want to go away. If that doesn't say "not ready" I don't know what does.

Still, I've crossed paths with a few interesting men recently and want to keep an open mind. I might even have a date this weekend.

Maybe it's easier to focus on a romantic illusion. Yes, Barman Ben. Yes, he is still haunting me. Not as much, but enough.

Ben still hasn't sent out the email about his play, but it's now running. I want to see it, but cannot just turn up, because I'm not supposed to know about it yet. Whenever I think about him, I feel something tightening within me, a ghost pain, a terrible sense of longing. How did a smart woman like me get hung up on somebody so perfectly wrong for me, so unattainable? I try distracting myself with a myriad of activities, but the only thing that helps, that makes me truly forget him, is flirting and going out with other men. It's like having some kind of emotional virus. I wish I could get Ben out of my system once and for all. I thought I did, but had a bit of a relapse in recent days.

I'm looking forward to this upcoming three-day weekend. I need to spend some time on my own, shake off some of this confusion, and (maybe most importantly) sleep. I've had a minor setback with some of my personal projects and need to get back on track. Right now being alone, being responsible for only myself, is the most appealing thing I can think of.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


It starts with a rash. Bits of red everywhere: in drugstores, in storefronts, in coffee shops and restaurants. Here it comes again: the parade of roses, crimson hearts, cloying plush animals, glistening boxes of candy, and those damn chubby cupids pointing their arrows in every direction but yours. Pain and irritation are sure to follow. Once again corporate America has conspired to remind you that on this day in mid-February, you are alone.

What if you're (un?)fortunate enough not to be alone? Then this is the day you must assess your togetherness to just the right degree, via edibles and gifts (or even edible gifts, if that's your thing). Whether it's love, like, or lust, be sure to get it right, or you'll risk joining the ranks of those poor suckers who have to navigate the bloody rivers of Valentine's Day in a single-person kayak.

Oh, wait. I'm one of those poor suckers.

I was starting to brew up some really good Valentine's Day angst; part annoyance, part anger, part melancholy. I was getting some fierce emotional bile building. Then it went away.

The thing is, I don't feel like letting V-Day get me down this year. I don't want those pre-printed Hallmark sentiments or heart-shaped boxes to have any power over me. Yes, I do feel a sting every time I see a women with a bouquet of flowers (I don't know why it's always the flower thing that gets me). Yes, I'm irritated that my last three relationships ran their course during the non-Valentine's Day part of the year, which will make it the fifth year in a row that I'm single on this sadistic holiday.

So f-in' what?

One of my worst Valentine's Days went down when I had a boyfriend. One of my best was spent entirely on my own.

It's just another day.

I thought of taking a personal day, to avoid all the lovey-dovey propaganda and enjoy some me-time (no, not that kind of me-time). Instead, Willow and I are going to meet downtown and take advantage of the various V-Day drink specials on offer. Perhaps I'll send a smutty drunken text or two as well. That's it.

It's tempting to use this day as a point of contemplation, to take stock and assess one's personal State of the Romantic Nation. I advise against it. The best way to survive the potential pressures of V-Day is to remain indifferent to them. I refuse to let this day be an excuse to whine and mope about being single. At this moment in time, I'm actually quite happy being single. And if I start to feel otherwise at any point during tomorrow night's outing, there will be plenty of tequila readily available.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for the big V tomorrow. Let Cupid and Co. do his worst.

Monday, February 12, 2007

It's official: I'm a writer

Or, rather, a published writer.

I have a piece up on the It's Just Coffee website, a tongue-in-cheek online dating site with humorous and informative articles on dating, self-improvement, and relationships.

I'm pretty excited about this. Here's the link.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

0 for 2

Telecom Tom sent the following email yesterday:

Hey Dolly, I really enjoyed meeting you on Wednesday. I was not expecting to talk with you for 3 hours, and I know it could have easily been 4. Strangely, I don't think we had that spark, though.I don't know why, since you are smart, fun, and adorable. It's a mystery. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to drink and talk with me on a cold winter night, and have a great time in [country I'm visiting next month].

Which clearly means Tom was not looking for a female version of himself to go out with.

It's never fun to get emails like that, but truth be told, I was a bit underwhelmed myself. However, I would have considered a second date to see if any chemistry would develop, because sometimes these things don't happen right away. When I first met Ex David, I wasn't attracted to him initially, and had we chatted for a mere hour or two, would have remained uninterested. However, some time into the fourth or fifth hour of conversation, I realized a spark was building. That doesn't mean it would have gone the same way with Tom, though, and I respect his decision not to take things further.

My other date was fairly fun, but less-than-spectacular. He showed up twenty minutes late, with no apology or excuse, was in jeans and sneakers (I don't mind casual, but a little effort is nice), did not offer to buy me even one drink, and I did not find him at all physically attractive. The conversation was fine, but I didn't want to kiss him, or even befriend him, so it's not going to go anywhere.

I was saying the other day that online dating has never produced long-term positive results for me, so I don't know why I expect it might this time. Actually, I don't. I went back online to get my mind off of Barman Ben, and it worked. The problem is, once I begin the cycle of dating, I can't help but hope that it will lead somewhere. The false starts have a way of wearing away the optimism a bit. Only a little, though.

If this week has affirmed anything, it's that I am much happier when focusing on outings with friends or my own interests/projects. When I'm out with Willow or Polly or Podcast Penny or any of my other friends, I don't need to meet a guy in order for it to be a fun night; I inherently enjoy their company and the mini-adventures we have. Neither my heart nor my ego is at risk for being bruised (provided I avoid Cozy Bar). I would quite like things to stay that way, at least a little longer.

I'm not going to make a general statement, the way I have in the past, of whether I am taking a break from dating, or getting back out there, or whatever. I'm still cautious, but still optimistic. The magic will happen when it will, not when I want it to.

Luckily, there's a hell of a lot for me to be pleased with in the meantime. Now it's time for me to make myself look fabulous for my night out with Willow...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Would you date...yourself?

Telecom Tom and I did not get into a heavy correspondence before meeting. A few lightly flirtatious emails, and Tom asked if I want to meet for a drink. Which is great, because I'm not crazy about doing the penpal thing only to meet up and discover there's no chemistry.

Tom lives a few subway stops away from me, and suggested meeting in my neighborhood. Considering the arctic temperatures, I chose a bar a block away from my apartment.

I had the perfect attitude going into this date: I had no expectations, but felt like my best, most outgoing self, and was ready to enjoy a drink or two with a new person. Since I didn't know much about Tom and didn't have a lot pinned on the situation, I was determined not to let the date drag out longer than necessary if we didn't have any connection.

Tom ran into some subway problems, but called to let me know (he ended up only being ten minutes late, but I put a lot of stock into small, thoughtful gestures like that). I got to the bar just after he did and was pleased to see he looked like his photos. Medium build, dark hair and eyes, a few inches taller than me (though I was in heels last night, so we were the same height), reasonably attractive.

The music playing in the bar was by one of my favorite bands, which I saw as a good sign and instantly put me in a good mood. I told him as much. We got a round of drinks (he paid), and launched into a pretty effortless conversation.

What I like about Telecom Tom is that he seems a pretty well-adjusted and happy guy, but hinted at a few unusual and less pleasant aspects of his life to balance out the cheer, so he wasn't all fluff and insufferable cheeriness. Our conversation stayed pretty light, but there were a few moments where it got a bit serious, and I got a sense that this is somebody I could maybe open up to once I got to know him better.

We discussed our careers and when I mentioned my passion for writing and interest in the ways the internet is changing communication, he suggested that I start a podcast. Oh boy. At least he didn't suggest that I start a blog, right? Tom himself is doing some very creative things with telecommunications and I was fascinated to hear some of the ideas he's developing.

As for sparkage, I'm not sure. We sat at the bar, not very close to each other, so there was a limited amount of physical contact we could have. However, we did mimic each other's body language quite a bit, and at one point Tom moved his chair so that he was sitting closer to me. We would also occasionally put our elbows on the bar and lean into each other a bit (the bar got pretty loud, so part of it might have been to hear each other better). Seemed like there was a bit of interest on his part, but hard to tell where it would go.

Tom and I have a fair amount in common: we both went to college in the same state, both lived abroad in the same country, both come from very quirky families.

We stayed for two hours and two drinks. As we were putting our coats on, I said,

"This was fun."

"Yes. I feel like you're a female version of me."

"Wow!" I smiled, not sure how to react.

I'm still not sure. What does that mean? That he thinks we're so similar we're better off pursuing a friendship? Or that we're so much alike it could be the beginning of something more? I don't think anybody has ever said that to me before. I guess I would need to have a better sense of what Tom thinks of himself.

It made me wonder whether I would date a male version of myself. On one hand, I know I'd be a fabulous kisser and have terrific music and movie taste. On the other hand, I can be a bit tightly wound and am not that great when it comes to managing stress, and I don't know if my male counterpart would be able to diffuse that. Oh, and let's not even get into my impatience and moodiness. I don't know, dating a male me could be spectacularly passionate and perfect, or disastrous, or maybe even dull.

In other words, I still have no idea what Tom meant by that comment (seriously, outside opinions are welcome). My first thought was: friends.

We got on the topic of karaoke, which he enjoys. As we left the bar, I mentioned that my friends and I are doing karaoke this weekend, that he is welcome to drop by if he wants (I thought this was a good way of showing him I'd be interested in seeing him again, but am happy to keep it casual for the time being).

He took a moment to consider it.

"I want to do karaoke with you, but I'd rather do karaoke one on one."

"Yeah, I'd be up for that," I replied

"It would have to be... next week."

"Sure. This week is pretty crazy as it is."

We nodded, smiled, said good-bye with a quick kiss on the lips. Too brief to tell its potential.

I think it went pretty well. It's going to take at least another date or two to see if there's something there, but I'd be interested in going out with Tom again. It was actually a pretty ideal way to get back into dating: a pleasant couple of hours spent with an interesting guy, resulting in the possibility of a second date. At the same time, the evening didn't leave me so swoony that I feel like I'll die if he doesn't call. I wonder if he will...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

on the horizon

Web Wesley asked if I was excited about my dates. I have one tonight and another tomorrow night. I'd like to go on a date with Wesley, but he is thousands of miles away, so that would tricky (and--oh, yeah--we're trying to work together, so perhaps not the best idea).

I wouldn't say "excited" is the word. A little nervous, yes. I have this nice equilibrium going, and I'm uneasy about having some guy disrupt it. That's why I am re-implementing the rotation (dating more than one guy), to make sure I don't get hung up on one person. Of course, when I did that last year I ended up frazzled, confused, and ultimately exhausted and depressed, but this time it will be different (and God laughs).

This time, I'm putting the emphasis on having fun going out and flirting, taking my time to get to know people, and not rushing to get emotionally attached. That's my big problem. I tend to like people too easily, and those positive emotions create a halo effect. I end up justifying flaws and incompatibilities, pushing my optimism to the limit by convincing myself that things will work out, as soon as we get past Problems A, B, and C. Sometimes it feels like I don't have a choice in the matter; it's as if the universe knocks me over the head and decrees that I will become enraptured with a man, regardless of his suitability for me. I fall in love easily and get disillusioned just as easily. It's a pattern I'm trying to break.

I don't often have a choice about what I feel for whom, but I do have a choice in how I act on those feelings. Over the weekend, at a gathering at Willow's place, Polly was praised my willpower at avoiding Cozy Bar and told her boyfriend about how Ben instantly liked me from the first night we met, how there was something between us, etc. (Why, Polly, why?). It started hurting all over again, as he returned to the forefront of my thoughts. The other night, I was a block away from the theater where his play is to be staged, and I wondered if he was rehearsing, or on his way to rehearsal, and prayed I wouldn't bump into him. At this point, I don't even want to go back to the bar, because I'm healing nicely and don't want all my progress undone. In this way, my actions are aiding my emotions (out of sight, out of mind, out of heart).

Then there's Wesley, who I don't know well, but gives every indication of being the real deal. He makes me laugh, he's a great flirt, and he gives me faith that the good ones are out there (even if they aren't in my time zone). Wesley is proof that the seduction community can be used for more than a get-laid-quick scheme, when I was starting to have some major misgivings about men (mis)using PUA materials.

This is my favorite part, the what happens right before. The anticipation. I have these two dates lined up for this week, a big vacation scheduled for next month, and several outings planned in between. I have all this to look forward to, and part of me wants to keep it that way: in the near future, where it's real-but-not-quite, where it can't possibly disappoint me, because it hasn't happened yet.

No, "excited" isn't the right word, but "nervous" isn't quite it, either.


I'm hesitant.

Here goes...nothing? Something? We'll see.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

protect me from what i want

I'm a little sad today. A little lonely. Only a little, though. It's too cold to take my usual walk in the park, I've been sick the last couple of days, and I know I need to give my body a day to properly recover, but being cooped up has me restless. Haven't had any alcohol in a week, and the lack of Sunday hangover is nice, but illness always makes me a bit emotionally fragile.

So, where am I? Still trying to move forward. I did a little online investigating and found out the details of Barman Ben's play. It opens later this month and he's the lead (he would be). Ben hasn't sent out the email for it yet, but I probably shouldn't go, regardless. I don't want to see him and risk a relapse. Avoiding Cozy Bar this past week has been easy because of being sick, and hopefully it will get easier. Sophie was there the other night and said she didn't see him (rehearsal?). Every day, Ben exists less and less to me.

I've been emailing various bachelors from the online personals (doesn't that make them sound all classy-like?), and it's reassuring to discover it isn't a total desert out there. Since I don't feel invested and am not making a finding a relationship a top priority, and since I don't care whether or not I impress these guys, it's easier to be honest, irreverent, and have fun with it. I've been asked out on two impromptu dates this week, but had to turn them both down for various reasons. I spoke with one of the guys over the phone, long enough to know we don't sync up well enough to meet in person. The other one I'm in the midst of scheduling a date with for this week.

When I decide to get back out there, I don't like to waste any time.

Meanwhile, I have also been e-flirting with a man across the country, let's call him Web Wesley. I might be doing a bit of freelance writing for him, so we can't get too carried away with the flirtation, but we've had this strange instant rapport. I'm really enjoying our correspondence and I think we're kind of developing cyber-crushes on each other. The great thing is, Wesley knows all about the blog, and is familiar with the PUA world (we even agree on the instructors we favor versus ones we think are shady), but exhibits no symptoms of being a social robot. He's charming and genuine and reminds me of why I supported the seduction community in the first place. He is also inspiring me to do some serious thinking about where I want to go career-wise.

Wesley mentioned something recently that I've been thinking a lot about ever since. I never realized this before, but when I come across somebody I'm interested in, I get anxious, but not always in the same way (and not always in a good way). Sometimes it's the nervous butterflies, the elation, all those warm and fuzzy feelings that accompany a strong attraction. It's a happy anxiety. Other times, it'll be a similar lightheaded, elevator-dropping, tingly feeling, but warped somehow. A darker anxiety. With Ben, it was always the it'll-end-in-tears kind of anxiety, like it was too late to do anything because I was already pushed off the cliff, so I might as well enjoy the freefall and not worry about where I might land. I've had that feeling in relationships, too. I would go along, knowing I was emotionally invested but not being able to truly relax, truly be myself. Wesley mentioned that the darker anxiety stems from knowing deep down the other person is unavailable somehow. It's so true.

It can be difficult to distinguish between the two anxieties, because the heart wants what it wants. I've followed my share of unwise relationships to their untimely ends on the strength of that sentiment, ignoring my deepest instincts. Love can be a potent cocktail when mixed with delusion or false hope. At the same time, I've also had laughingly brief relationships, or ended things before they began because I did listen to those instincts.

In the end, I didn't refrain from asking out Barman Ben because I was shy or scared, or stubborn that he be the one to ask me out. It's because deep down I knew, despite any potential interest, he's not available. He's not for me. It turns out I was able to save myself from the freefall after all, and take a step back from that cliff.

Being in touch with other men this past week has reminded me how much better it is when there is an actual dialogue generated, when there's attraction that feels like it can lead somewhere. I just need to remember to distinguish between the positive and negative anxiety, pay attention to my instincts, and be a little more careful. The heart wants what it wants, but it doesn't always know what's good for it.