Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pourquoi je suis triste

Home in time for The Simpsons.

In person he was cuter and smelled delightful. I spent the hour feeling clumsy, dull, and inadequate. It's tough to be sparkling when your date appears to show little to no interest in you. And in another language, nonetheless. I'm also fairly insecure about admitting to French people that I teach their mother tongue, the very same one I am currently butchering, to poor, unsuspecting undergrads. To top it off I was trying and failing to ignore a throbbing cold sore on my bottom lip. Don't worry, it only shows when I talk. Gah.

He said he was tired. Maybe he was. Maybe he was French and aloof. Maybe he wasn't interested. Though he did enter my phone number into his iPhone and said he'd call me next weekend, introduce me to some French people. I'm doubtful. But we'll see. On verra.

Why I took ten years of French

I'm on my way out to meet Hugo for sandwiches. I would never have agreed to go out with him, if not for the fact that he's 6'6", and French.

I'm a bit nervous. Will he speak in French? What if I forget how? Will he expect to kiss on both cheeks?

Merde, alors.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Why karaoke is for suckers

You know it's bad when your singing partner gives you helpful advice during instrumental breaks.

"Try being a little more...forceful," she suggested.

Wait, you mean you don't like this high-pitched quavering? This noise like someone whining into a tin can, this noise refracting back at me through too many speakers, this noise that I know is coming from me, but dear lord, really? Is that really what I sound like??? So this noise...you're saying I should not do that?

I only agreed to this performance, on a weeknight, no less, and having consumed not nearly enough beer, because I figured there was no way it could be as bad as the first time. I lost my karaoke virginity a few months ago, and it was nearly as traumatic as the real thing, only with more people watching. (Wait, did that come out wrong?)

And oh, Internet, you will not believe me when I tell you the song I chose to lose my karaoke virginity to. I will tell you, and you will still not believe me, because honestly, who would do that? And who would let someone do that, and more importantly, who would agree to sing it with me? I could try to explain my reasoning to you, but...well, I'll just tell you. It was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. You know, Dick van Dyke, flying car, adorably shrill British moppets? I saw it in the book, got all excited and nostalgic, and kind of naively assumed that the audience would be with me. I did hesitate, just for a second, and texted my sister, who gave me the go-ahead. (That bitch). YES, DO IT, she said. My roommate, for reasons unknown, (though what a sport), agreed to sing it with me. How hard could it be? I thought. The lyrics are mostly just "chitty chitty bang bang," over and over. Plus I watched that movie so many times in my childhood I was sure the song was lying dormant somewhere in my subconscious.

I'm sure you can probably imagine what happened, though I don't know if you can appreciate the full horror of the situation if you weren't there. The song is ridiculously fast, ridiculously high-pitched and well, let's face it, just plain ridiculous. In the grand karaoke tradition of taking a bad song and making it much, much worse, we flubbed it like no song has ever been flubbed before. Our audience was restless bordering on hostile. It was one of those moments where you wish you could sink through the floor. Even my roommate, the karaoke veteran and eternal optimist, admitted the sheer stinkitude of our performance. "Yeah, that was bad," she said. "That was really...bad."

A little while later, I had managed to shake it off, for the most part. It's dive bar karaoke, I thought. People don't even remember you five minutes later.

Coming back from the bar with a cold glass of liquid therapy, I locked eyes with a guy walking past me. "So, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," he said. I smiled, thinking this would be followed by an admission of how he used to watch that movie as a kid, or admiration of my non-conforming song choice, or at the very least, a "Nice try". But instead, what he said was, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang...Really?" I don't know if italics alone can adequately express the sheer disdain and vitriol all contained in this one word, in this one sneered word, Really? He kept walking. I swore I would never do karaoke again.

Which is why, really, Wednesday night's performance should never have happened. I have no excuse. I just...forgot? I have never felt the desire to get a tattoo, but I'm thinking if there was one thing I should have indelibly inked on my body, it would be the word karaoke with a circle and a line through it.

My excuse this time was...well, I don't know if there is any legitimate excuse for it. But I was so excited at the prospect of singing one of my favorite songs ever, a song that I know backwards and forwards, inside and out, and have drunkenly belted out on more than one occasion. Whatever the reason, I once again found myself in front of a video monitor, microphone in hand, and that godawful noise in my ears.

I've already blocked most of the details of the performance from my memory. However, after it was (finally) over, two indie guys complimented my roommate on her performance. "Great job on the Pulp!" they said. Hello, I'm right here too, my inner monologue said snarkily. As if she had heard, my roommate tried to introduce me, "Oh, thanks! This is my roommate...," but indie guys kept talking excitedly to her without even looking in my direction. My inner monologue also felt the need to point out the irony of the situation, what with me being single and my roommate being capital T Taken. That's strike two for you, karaoke.

You would think that by now I would be done with karaoke forever, or at least until such a time as I develop a sexy, throaty cold, à la Phoebe in Friends. But instead I find myself already combing through my iTunes collection, searching for the perfect karaoke song, the one that will help me redeem myself. I don't know why I feel the need to put myself through it again, when it makes me feel like shit and is obviously some kind of guy repellant, like I need any more help with that. But it's almost like a challenge. It's like karaoke is taunting me, and I have one more chance for redemption. Karaoke thinks it has me beat, but you just wait.

I will kick karaoke's ass.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why I didn't go to my college reunion

Driving back from Ocean City on New Year's day, he checked his voicemail. Again. This time when I looked over I saw the four-digit code he had just entered glowing on the screen. I repeated it in my head once, remembered it.

A week later, I was at home, waiting for him to call. He didn't, and I dialed his number. No answer. I waited an hour, tried again. Where could he be? Why hasn't he called? I waited longer, and called again. Voicemail. I hit #. Entered a four-digit number. Listened.

"Hello, this message is for..." Skip, next.

"Hi, I'm calling from the..." Skip.

"Hey, it's me." Hold on...

Me?

"I was just calling because I was thinking about you, and I miss you, and I wanted to see if you were coming over. I wanted to talk to you...Call me."

Your own voice always sounds unfamiliar when you hear it played back, but I was willing to accept this digitized voice as my own. Only, I didn't remember leaving that message. When did I leave it? How long ago?

Options : save, delete, reply. Hmm, reply.

"Reply to...Jane Krandall."

Panic. Hang up, fast. Hands go numb, can't breathe, heart beating fast, so fast, sick. I sit in disbelief and quietly freak out. I call his number again, one last time. Heart beating fast, so fast, I can't breathe.

"You're a bastard and a pig and I never want to see you again." Click. Done. I turn off my phone, go to bed, and don't sleep at all.

The next day I'm at a wedding. A wedding! The injustice. I still feel sick. I turn my phone on. Nothing. I turn it back off.

"Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"

"I do."

I nearly leave, nearly drive to his house, an ambush. I know she's there. Remembering how I had planned to meet him for a movie. His insistence that we meet at the theater. But that's silly, I said. I can meet you at your house, we can drive together. It's so messy, he said, I'm embarassed. I want to ambush him, I want to see the strange car in the driveway, storm in. But I don't. I know it would only make me feel worse.

I turn my phone on. New text message: i'm a what? and a what? fine, have a nice life. Well. I guess that's over.

Ten days go by, and nothing. I leave my parents' house and fly back to Boston. No one calls. I'm all alone and it's awful. Then one night, another text message : so are you going to tell me what the hell happened? I text him back : I think you know. -what do you mean, what's going on? -Why don't you tell me? -can we just talk? I make him call me.

"I know you've been in contact with your ex," I say, avoiding details.

"What? How do you, I mean, where is this coming from?"

"Look," I say, "why don't you just start talking. For once in your life, why don't you just tell me the truth."

"I..." he falters. "Can I write you an e-mail? I can't...I can't talk to you about this right now. I need to get my thoughts together."

Fine, I say. Fine. And he sends an e-mail, and it says,

I have had contact with my ex infrequently...my mother is good friends with her family...i have been home when she has come over and we have gone out for lunch...sometimes the three of us, sometimes just her and i...I am a bastard and a pig for not telling you, BUT i have NEVER laid a hand on her or harbored thoughts of such...she would call me and want to know if she still had a shot and i would say no, but she never listened...again, i have no attraction to her...i know i am a fraud but i was too weak and stupid to do anything about it...please don't go back to being as defensive and closed as you were when i first met you, not everyone is as bad as me...you will make someone very happy someday...you deserve much better than me and i know this now. you were the best thing to ever happen to me."

He follows the e-mail up with a text message, and it says, I know I have a problem. I have to live with it...but everything I try to make myself better I fail at. i am so sorry. I wish i was not who i am.

I feel sick. I'm skeptical, but I decide that I do believe him. That he "never laid a hand on her." So many lies, but for some reason I feel like he's telling the truth this time. It's already over. What would he have to gain by lying? It's done.

I lie awake at night, every night, and it eats at me. It's over. What good would it do to go digging around, to find out if he's really telling the truth? There's no point. But I know her name. I know how to find her phone number. #, four-digit code, voicemail, reply. But no, I can't, because he'll see that I called, or what if he answers? Ok, I still know her name. Now it gets a little more difficult. Google. Jackpot. The white pages. I have a phone number. Her parents' home phone number. Oh, lord. Here I go.

"Hi, I'm really sorry to bother you and I know this may sound a little weird, but I was dating your ex-boyfriend and I was just wondering when you guys broke up?"

"Wait, what? Who is this?"

"Like I said, I'm really sorry to bother you, it's just that we just broke up, and I was wondering when you guys broke up...?"

"Wait, when did you guys date?"

"Well, like I said, we just broke up and..."

"I'm sorry, I'm just having a little trouble understanding this, because we have been together for the last two and a half years."

"No, I'm sorry, there must be some mistake, because we've been together for the last year and a half."

"Hold on just a second, I'm calling him right now on the other phone..."

"Oh, no, please don't do that. If we can just talk for a..."

"Hold on, one second...Jason? Jason?! Why the hell is this girl calling me telling me you guys were dating? She called me at my house, Jason! At my house! Well you better get over here right now. Right now!...No, I don't care, you get over here! Ok, bye."

We talked for over an hour. She seemed to adapt to the news remarkably well. Though, she was going to kick his ass! she shrilled repeatedly. Meanwhile I was shell-shocked, dumbfounded, temporarily stunned into silence. We traded holiday stories. I had Christmas, New Year's eve, his friend's wedding. He told me he wasn't allowed to bring anyone! she wailed. She had Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day. He told me he was in the hospital, I said like someone you see on the news at the scene of some catastrophe, wrapped in a blanket, eyes wide and staring, their voice flat and affectless.

His family, his friends, they all knew. His mother, who claimed to love me and loaded me down with gifts each Christmas and sometimes out of the blue, for no reason, she knew too. They all knew, all along, and they never said anything. It was his life.

They had never broken up. He told her that we were friends. He told her that one night at school I came on to him, I told him that I had never had a boyfriend, and I wanted him to be my boyfriend, just for one night. He felt sorry for me, and he kissed me, but that was all. He told her she had nothing to worry about, because I was going to school in California now. That we didn't talk anymore. He told her he was going to job interviews in Boston. She drove him to the airport. I picked him up, we went home, we went to my bed. I took him back to the airport, and she picked him up. He ran to her and kissed her and told her how much he had missed her.

I wanted to tell her, leave him. I tried, I did tell her, knowing already that she wouldn't. Don't you see? I wanted to scream. How can you not see??? I wanted to say, you deserve better. Everyone deserves better. Except him. He deserves nothing. He certainly doesn't deserve to come out of this with a clean conscience, a weight off his shoulders, and a girlfriend who has decided to stick by him. He was in this because he couldn't find a way out, and all of a sudden a way out was handed to him, like a gift. Now he's free from the lies and the cover-ups, and he still has someone to sleep next to at night. He comes out of this better off than he was before, while I'm the one trying to piece my life back together. Wondering how I'll ever be able to trust anyone ever again. Doubting everything I once thought I understood about people, the world. Pouring out questions to the cosmos...Where do I go from here? How do I fix the broken parts of myself? Will I ever be ok again?

There's no moral to this story, at least not yet. I still have questions without any answers. But maybe I will be ok, someday.

A form, cloaked in a dusty canvas shroud. A sign : work in progress.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why did the Freudian cross the penis? I mean road

IM conversation with the ex:

me: burning the midnight oil?
ex: web stuff
check out my site...
me: donne-moi l'addresse
ex: one sex
sec


GAH!!!

And now it appears that he will likely be attending a show in October, which happens to be a show that I will also be attending. And why is he going to this show? How did he find out about it? Well, because I told him about it, of course. (What the hell is wrong with me? Seriously, what?) We've both seen this band live before, twice, while we were together. The idea of seeing this show and him not being there seemed so strange that I kind of just assumed that he would naturally be there. And now, thanks to my apparent need to inflict pain upon myself, it seems that he will.

The last time we saw each other was The Returning of the Stuff, otherwise known as The Reason I Currently Own Four Black Eyeliner Pencils, Three Eyelash Curlers, Two Hairdryers, and Way More Lipgloss Than Is Necessary Considering That I Have But One Mouth, Oh My God. I can only hope our next meeting will go better than the last, which was, hmm, how to put it, not good. There was much hysterical crying on the one hand, and on the other what could either be described as stoicism or as not really giving a shit. But we'll call it stoicism. (I'll let you guess who was who).

And now, five months later, maybe I'll see him again. And maybe I won't.

Gmail, you asshole.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why I don't know why I even try

So, after the resounding success (aka a tree falls in the forest) of my last post on unsuccessful virtual come-ons, I decided, why not give the people what they want, which is obviously more unsuccessful virtual come-ons.

And so, I bring you one more in the series of E-mails from Totally Inappropriate Suitors. Let's dive in, shall we?

E-mail #1:

Have you ever gotten the feeling that writing to strangers over the internet is like playing a really difficult video game where you only have one life?

There's a lot of pressure to convey all the necessary things: not a weirdo, casualness, being interesting, showing off positive qualities, etc. All in one message! It's a monumental task and I don't think I'm going to even attempt to accomplish it.

Aww...did you write this e-mail just for me? I can tell by the way it's so personal and heart-felt.

So the truth is, I just moved to Cambridge, and my friend showed me your page.

Your friend sounds like a nice guy. Is he single?

I don't want to be one of those million other guys on the internet that send gross messages to girls, but a lot of the things you have on your page are my favorite things too!

Really?! Which ones? Wait, that's the end of the e-mail?

Well, nameless guy, I just don't know. We have so much in common and yet...I find something lacking. Maybe one day we'll meet, after we've both been reincarnated as video game characters, and we have as many lives as we need to get the introduction right. Until then...

E-mail #2:

Hey there! My name is E.J., and you look so very beautiful! Acually you look soooo hot that you could start a forest fire! And that is the truth! Anyhow, I would very much like to here from you! Even if we would only be friends, then that will be ok with me! E.J.

Wow, E.J., I'm blushing. But let's get serious; forest fires are no laughing matter. They are devestating and catastrophic and wreak havoc on the ecosystem. My last boyfriend died in a forest fire. While I am indeed flattered by your remarks, let's all remember that, as everyone knows, hotness doesn't start forest fires. Smokey the Bear does.

Unfortunately, E.J., I'm going to have to pass. I hope you understand.

E-mail #3 from Christopher, 33 in Cambridge (bisexual, polyamorous)

When I looked at your pictures, I actually suspected we'd make good friends. I wonder what will happen when we meet? Good conversation, if I'm any judge of anything.

Really, Christopher? You could tell all that just from looking at my pictures? Because the only thing I could tell from your pictures is that the only way I'd recognize you in a coffee shop is if you came at me ass-first. And naked. Because while the picture of your face is dark and grainy, the shot of you sprawled sunny-side up on your bed is crystal clear.

And oh, bisexual and polyamorous? My, aren't you ambitious. That's like, doubling your options to the infinitieth power, isn't it? Why don't you just simplify things and change your profile to, I want to sleep with you. And you...and you and you and you!!!

Alas, Christopher. Perhaps we might have shared good conversation, but I fear it wasn't meant to be.

E-mail #4 from Mike, 35, in Bedford

Hi,If you would like to meet someone new... here I'am

Well, this sounds intriguing. Let's check out the profile...

I'm in the mid 30's, married and from Switzerland. I'm in Boston for vaccation and to have a good time. I'm looking for a woman who likes to show me Boston from it's best. A woman who likes to talk and have good conversations.

Wait, married? I didn't sign up for meeting married guys. What a jerk. But wait...perhaps he's just looking for good conversation, like he said. Let's keep reading :

The most private thing I'm willing to admit here :
- I didn't had sex the last 30 months


Yes, conversation. Totally in it for the conversation.

You should message me if :
- you like to talk to a non US Citizen - you like to meet a man not a boy - you like to show an alien Boston from it's best


Whoa, whoa wait...aliens??? I definitely didn't sign up for that. Well, this totally confirms my belief that aliens do exist and are living among us, but really, shouldn't they have their own dating website? (Oh wait, they do. Though those ladies don't really look like aliens...They must be undercover, like in Men in Black).

Well, "Mike," unfortunately I don't think I'm progressive enough to help you out. But good luck, my alien friend, and godspeed.

Well hey, look, it's a woo! From a 26m and f from Manchester, NH. Wait, what's a m and f? Profile says...

We have been married for almost seven years.

Wait, married, again? What is with you people?

For the last several years we both wanted to try it with another woman.

Um, "it?" Could you be more specific?

We are looking for a FWB, the one we could spend time together (BBQ, hiking, camping, Friday night pizza, movie).

Oh, well I love movies! And pizza! Although I'm confused by the FWB. Hmm...Flat...White...Bitch? Hey, in that case, I'm just the girl for you! Unless it means Female With Boobs, in which case I'm out of luck.

If you don't have any experience in this, it's even better - all of us would feel more comfortable with one another. But if you have some experience (but not too much), it's fine too.

Ok, so just to make sure I have this straight...You're looking for some kind of female, although with or without boobs we aren't sure, who has prior hiking, camping, and pizza-eating experience, but not too much hiking, camping, and pizza-eating experience. Well, I must admit, I am intrigued, but unfortunately I'm just not sure if I comply with your strict and admittedly confusing criteria. Let me think about it, and I'll get back to you.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Please cast your votes now for Most Ridiculously Unsuitable Guy! (aka MR. UG). Submissions continue to pour in from new contestants at an alarming rate, so this contest may go down to the wire. Check back often for updates!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why the internet is the reason I need therapy

While attempting to look up log-in information for my Express credit card account, I found this in my inbox, dated 7/21/05 :

I love you more than kisses or words could ever express. I love you more than the possible number of combinations of toppings at Emma's. I love you more than all the animal crackers in the world.

Well, fuck.

I bet breakups were probably a lot easier before technology, don't you think? Way back when, in the early nineties, before everyone had a cell phone and MySpace was something angsty teens would post in big, angry letters across their bedroom doors, you didn't have to worry about the potential emotional damage resulting from drunk dialing or obsessive online stalking. Is he seeing anyone? Does his MySpace profile say single or in a relationship? Or even, why am I still in his effing profile picture??? (Seriously, why? It's been 5 months. Change the damn picture). ((Although if you do I will cry)).

Technology makes it hard to move on. Just when you think you're safe, technology is always there, lurking around the corner, ready to jump out at you, all, Hey! Remember that one time you went apple picking together, and his sister was there and you played with babies, and then you went home and made a pie? That was a great day, huh?!

Looking for pictures of myself for online dating profiles, I waded through literally hundreds of pictures from the last three years, which coincidentally enough is pretty much the span of our relationship. France, New York, New Orleans, Maine, Maryland and Massachusetts. Turducken, Halloween, Christmas, driving, hiking, skiing, the beach. I can't look at any of it without being overwhelmed by the memories. To delete it would be like erasing an entire three years of my life. I did all of those things, I went to all of those places. I go out on dates with these new guys, and I say Yeah, I love that bar, but what I mean is we love that bar. I say, I've been to the Cape, and I mean, we've been to the Cape.

Technology is the reason I check to see if he's online, and then hope that he'll chat with me, and feel bad if he doesn't, and sometimes worse if he does. Technology is the reason I have three years of archived e-mail and daily back and forth, I'm at work and I'm bored and what do you want for dinner tonight chat conversations. (Thanks, Gmail. No really, thank you). Technology makes it easy to wallow in it, if you want to. Luckily, so far I haven't been tempted to. It's enough that I have to accidentally come across this stuff, I don't need to seek it out. Although if I ever feel the need for a good cry, I know just where to go.

So, technology, right? What's your worst/best technology story? (And don't say you don't have one, Molly and Talia, because I know that you do, and it involves a cell phone, joyriding underage minors, and a nosy and very determined Southern woman. I will blog about it, don't think that I won't!!!)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why I'm not scared anymore

Bikini waxing, along with bike riding, is one of the things I started doing Post Breakup. Both are things I had wanted to do for a while but had put off interminably because of my fear of the potential pain involved : of the searing and ripping of wax all over my most private of bits, on the one hand, and of being flattened by a car and dragged for blocks on the other. After the soul-crushing trauma of a breakup, however, I figured I had already been through the worst and decided it was time to face all of my fears head on.

Like most things, I have discovered that bikini waxing requires dedication and perseverance. Lately, I had been putting it off a little longer, and then a little longer still. Saturday, the only day I can make it to the salon, rolled around again; I woke up to rain and gray skies. Fuck it, I thought. It's not like anyone's going to see it anyway. Not helping the issue was the fact that My Waxer was out on maternity leave, so I would have to deal with Someone New. I went back and forth all day, dreading the visit, and knowing that ultimately I would feel all around better if I went. I finally forced myself to call to make an appointment, knowing that once I did I would have to go.

My Original Waxer excelled at putting me at ease, an amazing feat considering that at certain points she was eyeball to eyeball with my anus. And she did all this while managing to not put me in any outrageously awkward positions or feeling the need to show me the hair she had just removed. Not so, this time! The New Waxer had me spread-eagle, legs pointing straight in the air, as she gleefully showed me the wax strips, covered in hair. Look! she would say, with perverse pleasure. So much hair! Heh, yay, I agreed half-heartedly. Once it was over, however, I have to say the results weren't half bad. The New Waxer was able to achieve a much cleaner, more professional line than Original Waxer ever was. I feel better already, I thought.

I walked out of the salon and squinted at the bright sun. The sky, which a half hour earlier had been gray, cloudy and glum had dissolved into bright, crisp blue sunlight. I felt good, like I had a new outlook on life.

Damn, I thought. She really IS good.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Why speed dating is looking more and more attractive

Tonight's date must set some sort of record; somewhere in the neighborhood of exactly 27 minutes long. Just enough time to meet, down an ice cream cone, wipe crumbs from mouth, and say goodnight. I spent more time getting ready than I did actually on the date.

It was somewhat refreshing, actually. Now, if I could do five or so of these in a night, then maybe I'd be getting somewhere.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why there's probably a perfectly logical reason for the sorry state of my digestive tract

Meals I prepared with my own two hands and ate during the month prior to returning to grad school:

1) spinach and feta quiche

2) stuffed peppers

3) dijon chicken, corn on the cob, asparagus, rice pilaf

4) vegetarian chili and jalapeno cornbread

Things I have eaten as meals in the week since returning to grad school:

1) macaroni and cheese with cut-up hot dog

2) a hot dog

3) Bagel Bites with a side of tortilla chips and that cheese dip you heat in the microwave

4) ice cream

I kind of hate myself. Please send help. And green leafy vegetables.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why X=Y?????

I've been talking to the ex online off and on since it happened, for the last four and a half months. Mostly more off than on, although lately, for whatever reason, there's been somewhat of a resurgence.

The other day he was talking about quitting his job, or going part-time, in order to focus on teaching and practicing yoga. (He's been saying the same thing for quite a while now; it's all I've heard about for the last year and a half).

"It's this promotion," he said, "it got me all off track."

"Well, money talks," I said.

"Yeah, it kissed my earlobes," he said.

"Money's a sneaky bitch," I agreed.

And I tried, quickly, to think of something else, anything else, but it was too late. It was there, in black and white on the screen, kissed my earlobes, and suddenly I was overcome by a flood of sensations rushing over me: the taste, the texture, even the fucking temperature of his earlobes. Did he do this on purpose? I thought. Is he trying to DESTROY me??

Fuck him. Fuck him and his perfect earlobes.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Why I'm no longer sure I want to be a Buddhist

If there was ever a time I would have wished for a camera crew to follow me around on a date, documenting the sheer horror and insanity, last night would have been the night. This date was ripe for thought bubbles popping out of my head, filled with sarcastic remarks, question marks, and WTF????'s.

Have you ever met someone who is like a caricature? Of himself? This guy I met, Greg, it's like he exists in another dimension, and it bears a passing resemblance to this one, only in his world everything is cartoonish and freakishly out of proportion. I'm not just talking about his appearance, although, yes, let's start with his appearance. First of all, he's 6'7", a giant of a man, and I suppose he could be considered handsome in a way that I don't particularly consider handsome, but apparently a lot of other women do. He looks almost like a Disney cartoon; the broad shoulders, the large jaw...yes, that's it, he looks like Gaston. He's a real, live, three-dimensional, boasting, swaggering Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast. And I'm the sensible, bookwormish Belle.

We met, and he started talking, and didn't stop for the next two hours. His discourse was full of posturing and pseudo-intellectual blather. He, supposedly, is a Buddhist, and lives by the five precepts. Though I wanted to believe him, after conducting a thorough search, I was unable to find any remotely buddha-like qualities in him. Instead, what I got, was this:

"Hey, hey, turn around, look at that woman behind you."

"Umm, I really don't want to..."

"The one reading a book, right behind you. Just look."

"I really don't...fine."

"When I got here, at first I thought she was you, so I called you, and man was I glad when her phone didn't start ringing!"

Then, a few minutes later:

"Hey, look at that woman's earrings over there!"

"I really can't, it's just rude."

"Here, use this." (Holding up his shiny black motorcycle helmet to my face as a sort of really ineffectual mirror).

"Yeah, that's, um....all I see is myself. Let's just change the...So, uh, have you ever done yoga?"

"Yeah, I dated a model once, and she showed me some stuff. I didn't really like it though."

"Oh, that's too bad. Maybe you should try a class sometime, you might like it in a different context."

"Well, I'll tell you the truth. I don't want to take a yoga class in (name of suburban town), because I want to take a class with women like you in it. You know? Not like middle-aged housewives."

"Uhh...well, huh, thanks? I mean, I really think that that's not the point of yoga though...Maybe we should talk about something else..."

"Sure. So, do you like to write?"

"Yeah, actually. I do."

"What do you like to write?"

"Actually, I, heh, just started a blog."

"Well I'll have to read it sometime."

"Yeah...maybe...So, what about you?"

"Yeah, I'm actually working on a novel. It's a mythological epic."

"Wow, that sounds...ambitious."

"Yeah, it's going to be awesome. Like Lord of the Rings. But better."

"So, wow."

"I actually wrote a book already. It's questions."

"Questions?"

"Yeah, like, two questions per page. Apparently it's become kind of an underground phenomenon."

"Really? Like, what kind of questions?"

"Well, philosophical questions. I really wanted to write a philosophy book without arguing with anyone, so I wrote questions. Like, for instance, here's one: Wouldn't anything bigger than a ship have to be wicked broken to work?"

"Umm, I...uh huh?"

"See, I paid homage to my northeastern roots there with the wicked. You like it? Ok, here's another one: Can you predict the future? And most people would say no, right? And here's the next question: Do you think you're going to wake up tomorrow? You see? So, it really is possible to predict the future, you just have to start with small things, like that."

"Wow. Questions, huh? I'll have to look for that."

"Oh, it hasn't been published."

"Gee, really?"

At this point we finished drinking our tea, and he suggested going to get some pizza. As I had not eaten in preparation for our date at a Moroccan restaurant, I was starving, and while I had been looking forward to a falafel, at that point, anything would do. "Pizza sounds good," I said, relieved that at least we would be eating something. He stood up, and I mentioned we should probably take care of the bill here first. "Nah, we can just walk out," he said. I laughed nervously. "No, you're right," he said. He walked over to the balcony overlooking the first floor, and started yelling down. Loudly. "Hello? Excuse me? Excuse me? Hello! Man, she's not looking up far enough," he complained.

"It's ok, I can go down," I said quickly.

"No, it's ok, I can go," he said, heading for the stairs. He walked across the room, reached the top of the stairs, and then turned around and came back, sat down. "Actually, yeah, you can go. Thanks for offering."

"Umm, ok?" I said, baffled. You have got to me be kidding me, I thought, as I squeezed and inched my way between chairs and tables and went down the stairs. As if that wasn't enough, then we went dutch on a $6 tab. I never, ever expect a guy to pay for me on a date, but dude, my tea was $2.50, and I had been personally offended at least three times in the last hour. At least offer to pay for my tea.

The pizza place was closed, so we went to a burrito joint, where in his defense, he at least paid for my quesadilla. (Quesadilla of doom! Dooooom!)

"I'm surprised you got sour cream," he said.

"Why is that?"

"Oh, I don't know...I don't know anyone who likes sour cream."

"That's funny, everyone I know likes sour cream."

(Doom! Sour cream of dooooom!)

"I guess I don't like it because it's like mayonnaise. I don't like mayonnaise either."

"But, it's not really at all like mayonnaise."

"Yes it is."

"But, no, they're completely different. One is eggs and oil, one comes from a cow...Totally different animals."

"Yes, but they're both white. And you put them on stuff."

"Ok, well I guess if you look at it like that. Sure, why not."

"So have you had any really disastrous Match dates?"

"Oh, haha. Heh, yeah, umm...."

Since he was already up to date with the proceedings of our own rendez-vous, I instead told him about the tin foil guy and the gum guy. Breezy, light-hearted anecdotes, not too much detail, just the punchlines. Then I turned the question back to him. He told me about the time he met a girl online, and she didn't have a picture. But she told him about all the sports she did, how she ran, swam, biked. What great shape she was in. How good she looked. They e-mailed back and forth, and the e-mails got longer and longer. They im-ed, talked on the phone, and finally arranged to meet at a location that was about 45 minutes away from both of them. When he got there, he discovered she had lied to him. Lied! Because she did not look good! I mean, her face was pretty and all, and she had nice hair, but her body! It was not good. And he said he couldn't believe she had made him drive 45 minutes to meet her, I mean, what a waste of time.

"So, should we go for a walk?" he said.

"Yeah, let's do that," I agreed, thinking being outside was one step closer to being home. We started off, and he immediately jumped to the other side of me, to walk between me and the street. We started talking about the reasoning behind that, why the guy is "supposed" to walk on the outside of the woman. I said that I thought it started hundreds of years ago, when people used to throw the contents of their chamber pots out their windows. The man would take the brunt of that unfortunate accident while the woman would stay dainty and clean.

"You know why I do it?" he asked. "In New York City, the number one cause of death is from falling air conditioners."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah, so if I walk on the outside, I don't have to worry about being creamed by a falling air conditioner, and meanwhile, I still get to look like a great guy."

"Uh...huh. That's, um...yeah. So."

It was about this time that things started to go very badly. Something very wrong was happening in my body. Yes! The Quesadilla of Doom! Damn you, Quesadilla of Doom!!!!

We were walking in the direction of where he had parked, so he could show me his bike. We passed a couple other bikes on the way, and he started explaning them to me. "Do you know anything about engines?" he said. I mutely shook my head no, and he launched into a long, rambling explanation of pistons and shafts and compression, and now that I think about it, it all could have been very sexual, but at the time it really wasn't. Meanwhile, we kept walking further and further in exactly the opposite direction of my home, and my situation was becoming more and more dire. He showed no signs of slowing in his explanation of the inner workings of the motorcycle, however the only thing I was concerned with at the moment was the inner workings of my failing digestive system. I had no choice but to interrupt him, mid-sentence, and blurt out, "I have to go! I'm really not feeling well...I'm sorry."

"Oh geez, I'm sorry," he said. "Yeah, you should go home. I hope you feel better. Here...," and he kissed my forehead.

"I really am sorry," I said, feeling like a complete jerk. I knew it probably looked like I was running away and making up excuses.

"Well....here," he said, and this time he kissed me on the lips. It was short, sweet, and quite frankly, I could have done with a bit more of that. Unfortunately the circumstances were not allowing anything of the kind. I started out on the long walk home, cursing my luck. I listened to this guy talk for over two hours, only to get cut short right before the good part! I need closure, I thought, I need a real kiss!! Dammit, that's probably the only thing this guy is good for. He's tall, big enough to provide that kind of warm safety that I crave, and confident enough to actually put his arm around me, touch me, and kiss me without that nervous, will-he-or-won't-he dance that so many other guys do. He'd be just about perfect, if he just wouldn't ever open his mouth.

Dammit, now I want to see him again! If only I could have had a proper ending to that date, I could be done with him right now. Instead I feel the need for a do-over. I just need an end. Which means I would have to go through the beginning and middle again too, which kind of makes me feel queasy all over again.

I somehow doubt I'll be getting a call from him, though. Because for some reason our society doesn't think women with stomach ailments are "sexy." I can't imagine why. But hey, he's a Buddhist. He doesn't go for that shallow, superficial stuff. I'm sure I'll be hearing from him soon. Any day now.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Why you should get to know your neighbors

I decided to mix business with pleasure today, on my last day of freedom before the new semester begins tomorrow, and take my Maximes de la Rochefoucauld outside, to read on the patch of grass outside the old main branch of the Cambridge Library. I try to do this every once in a while, and I've started to recognize people. The regulars, if you will. There's the guy with the baby stroller and the wandering dog. There's the solo horseshoe-playing sunbather, who I remember particularly because, mid-game, an irate older gentleman approached him, screaming, from across the street. He was from the neighborhood association, he said (screamed), and playing horseshoes was prohibited. When questioned, he indicated a sign around the corner that supposedly stated this fact (it didn't). When pressed, he admitted that, well, in any case, The Sign did state that doing anything that damaged the (very ill-maintained) lawn was not allowed. (This, also, was conspicuously absent from the sign. What was specifically prohibited, according to The Sign? After a laundry list of offenses, and added almost as an afterthought : "posting of signs.") Add laptop guy sitting under tree, and a few miscellaneous kite-flying, picnicking, or ball-playing extras, and you have the full cast of the weekend (or holiday Monday) afternoon in the park.

I settled myself onto my blanket with my book. Laptop guy sitting under tree was back, and he had a dog with him this time. I've seen that dog around before, I thought. Usually a girl walks it. Must be his girlfriend. It's hard to miss a three-legged dog, in any case.

Two solid hours later, after more sunbathing and covert people-watching than reading, it must be admitted, I stood up, gave my blanket a few good shakes, and packed up my backpack. Looking over, it appeared laptop guy sitting under tree was preparing to leave as well. He attached the leash to his dog, and gave it a few good shakes, encouraging the dog to frisk about, jumping up and biting at the leash. Playing up the cute factor? I wondered. It worked, and I found myself smiling as I watched them. Then, as I walked by, laptop guy sitting under tree waved at me, and I admit, I didn't know quite what to do. Four years of living in the northeast has rendered me incapable of knowing what to do in such a situation, because, quite frankly, it doesn't usually happen. People don't say hi to strangers, and they most certainly don't wave. I played up the dark sunglasses factor and politely smiled back, although since I was already smiling from the cute dog antics it could very well have been indistinguishable from my previous expression. Besides, I thought, why would he be waving at me? He has a girlfriend. Unless...I mean, how many black, three-legged dogs could there be in the neighborhood? And then I thought about it, and realized that this dog seemed to be a bit bigger, more muscular, than I remembered. And what leg was that other dog missing, anyway? I thought it was the back leg, but this dog was missing his front leg...By this point I was nearly home, and the time for any reciprocal waving had long since passed.

With school starting tomorrow, I don't know if I'll have the time for relaxed, blanket-sprawled reading anymore. But maybe I'll be back there, on the parched, scratchy patch of grass next weekend, if the weather holds up. Maybe this time I'll say hi. We'll see.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Why, cupid?

I've discovered a new (free!) dating website. I say "discovered" as if I'm the Indiana Joan of the online dating world, however, according to the millions of already established users, it appears that I'm the last one to the party again, as usual. I've made my way around several online dating websites at this point, so it's no small thing when I say that there's a lot I love about this site: the fun (and addictive) quizzes, the profile format, the system of algorithms that gives you a percent match with any other user that actually seems fairly legit (unlike some others that I've come across that are complete bunk). My one complaint is that at this point, I haven't yet found one suitable guy on this site. There are plenty of men, yes, and I have been contacted by quite a few, however, they are so far from anything I would consider remotely dateable...well, let me give you some examples.

E-mail #1:
you are tall
do you like shorter sexy dwarf men?

No.

Email #2:
Subject: hit here

Hit where? Oh my god, is he a masochist? Does he want me to spank him? Ohhh....hi there. Gotcha. Well, after that excitement, the ho hum nonchalance of his one line e-mail ("looking for friends in the Cambridge area") just isn't doing it for me. Next.

E-mail #3 from the 52 year-old in southern Maine:
Hello; how are you?

Fine; thanks; how are you?

I live in southern, ME, therefore, close enough I hope you agree.

No, actually, I really don't.

You teach French; wow; languages are so hard to me.

As evidenced by your confusion and haphazard placement of commas and semi-colons.

In most areas, I'm fairly intelligent, though.

Hmmm.

Love to get to know you,
Bob
PS: you're very pretty!

Dude, you're old enough to be my father. Eww.

E-mail #4:
(Blah blah blah), you sound neat, (blah blah blah) ping pong, (blah blah blah) brit pop. In conclusion, hooray for cats and gnomes.

Er, um...next?

E-mail #5:
A 465 word (I counted) rambling treatise from Danny, of which this is but a small taste:

... im lonely.. not in the wierdo way but i mean like i live alone i have tons of freinds and yet still i have a void to fill....I cant uderstand where i go wrong with women i seem to find women that are really egotistical or money hungry and we cant forget to add in the few that are nuts, so yeah i could go out to the bar or clubs... wich i do but not usually to pick up girls anymore... but i guess im hoping this ok cupid thing works and i can find a good women to spend time with

I'm sorry, did you fall asleep there? Me too. But just imagine that after that excerpt, there are still 361 more words to read. Here's a tip: Danny, don't send form letter e-mails. If you do send form letter e-mails, at least try to make it not quite so obvious, and also, not quite so, ahem, ranting. A simple hi and how are you would be fine. Save your manifesto for your profile page where it belongs.

Then there's the 21 year-old guy in Jersey (Hello? Why are you writing me? and everyone else from the mid-west/south/anywhere that's not within 10 miles of Cambridge...I just don't care) who's looking for an older woman with big lips. No, it's not what you're thinking of....just think a little...lower...yes, there you go. Now it is what you're thinking of. And now that you're thinking about it you can't stop thinking about it and aaaiiyeeee! Gah! Make it stop!!!

Ommmmmmmm....*Cleansing, restorative breath.* Ok, I feel better now.

Ok, cupid. This girl has been wooed, winked at, and womanced, er, romanced, but still hasn't met her match. All she's looking for is a little chemistry, and maybe some harmony. Is that so much to ask?