Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why the way to my heart is through spell check

The other day I got an e-mail from my sister, with this attached:

"Saw this and thought of you," she wrote.

She knows me so well.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Why "share and share alike" takes on a whole new meaning

Luke made dinner again the other night. A simple meal of spaghetti with peppers and Italian sausage. I was in charge of salad, and I'm sure I don't have to tell you I way over-thought it. It must be the perfect salad! I thought to myself. It would be Luke's first taste of my culinary abilities (or lack thereof), and I wanted to make a good impression. This was complicated by the fact that personally, I prefer my salad the French way; just greens with a basic vinaigrette, and maybe some grape tomatoes if I'm really feeling crazy. In the end I decided to go with what I know, serving field greens with grape tomatoes, toasted walnuts, and a quickly mixed-together batch of balsamic vinaigrette. So yes, it was a cozy, romantic evening in; dinner and a movie on the couch, just him and me...oh, and Kevin. ("What are these yellow things?" Kevin asked, poking suspiciously at the salad. "Tomatoes? Are you sure they're ripe?")

As they are roommates, it was inevitable that I would see him sooner or later, and it actually wasn't awkward at all. You see, the scoop, according to Luke, is this: At the same time that I was debating whether Kevin was too short for me (he is), he was also coming to the conclusion that perhaps I was too tall for him (I am). At this very same time, he was also in the beginning stages of communication with a girl from back home, who he is now, in fact, dating. This explains his radio silence and his non-rejection rejection, and also explains why Luke took so long to finally ask me out. Luke was hanging back, thinking that Kevin was going to ask me out, and only when the coast was clear did he finally contact me again. ("Well you almost missed your chance," I told him. "Because I was this close to telling you where you could stick it.") But the kicker is this (because there's always a kicker, right?): the girl Kevin is now dating? Is Luke's ex-girlfriend. Are you laughing and shaking your head yet? I am.

They dated, according to Luke, for six months three years ago, and again last summer, an experience he then qualified as "a disaster." He provided no further details and I did not ask, because la la la, fingers in my ears, I can't hear you. Kevin, by all accounts, feels incredibly weird about it (as he probably should), and asked Luke about a thousand times if he was sure he was ok with it (he was). Luke's brother and all their mutual friends have also apparently been giving Kevin a hard time about it (as they probably should), because yeah, it's weird. In fact, the only person who doesn't feel weird about it, apparently, is Luke. "As long as they're both happy..." he says. And if Luke is happy, and Kevin is happy, and I am happy, and this girl is happy, then who's to say what's wrong or what's right? As long as I don't have to see this girl, which I don't (because Kevin drives back to Smalltown, USA every weekend to see her, and not the other way around), then I really have no opinion about it one way or the other. Though who would have figured that two such different guys--the odd couple, really--would have such similar taste in women?

Rummaging around in their mostly bare fridge last night, I noticed that someone had taken the time to start a shopping list and affix it to the refrigerator door. Shopping list, it was carefully titled, lest there be any confusion. Underneath, there was only one, hastily scrawled item: gum. I read it again, looking around at the bare fridge and mostly empty cabinets. Shopping List: gum. And then I laughed, and laughed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why just like Aretha said, it's in his kiss

Ok, where did I leave off...? So, he picked me up in the middle of a raging snowstorm, and we went to dinner. And it was...fine. We ate some tacos, we talked a bit, and he had me back home again not an hour and twenty minutes after we had left. Not horrible, but not exactly anything to write home about either. So, I was a bit surprised when he texted me minutes after dropping me off, telling me he had had a great time, and he would love to see me again sometime. Sure, I replied. I mean, why not, right? 

And then he began texting me all the blessed time. Texts in the morning, texts at night, and everything in between. Man, these boys sure do love their texting, I thought. He wanted to know what was up, how I was doing, my favorite color, and if I liked any sports. It all got to be a bit much, and finally I just said, Look, I'm better at this kind of thing in person than I am over text

Ok. When can I see you again? he replied.

Probably next weekend, I said.

And so, other than one or two more just checking in-type texts throughout the course of the week, I didn't hear much at all from him until Friday afternoon, when he proposed this: Do you want to drink some wine and watch a movie tonight? I paused. I had no idea how to answer that question. No, I absolutely do not want to drink wine and watch a movie with you tonight would have been honest, but maybe a bit too abrupt. How about, That sounds great, but not with you? Or, not with you yet, anyway. I mean, I barely knew the guy, and already he was angling for a couch date? Who are these guys these days, I wondered, who take you out on one date and then think they can get in your pants? And was there any way I could say what I actually wanted--No, I want you to take me out on a real date--without coming across as some kind of high maintenance Rules-type girl? I needed backup on this one, and so I picked up my phone and called my friend Pete.

"Well, you have a few options," he said. "You can say 'no, that's a terrible idea, let's do something else,' or you can say that you can't tonight, and propose an alternate activity for tomorrow, or you can just say that you think it's a bit soon for that, and then suggest something else for tonight." 

"Wait, I can say that? I can say it's a bit soon for that? That's ok? It's not too...?" 

"Of course you can say that. If a guy likes you he's going to want to see you, and he won't care what you do."

"So I can say, 'I think it's a bit soon for that, how about we go drink wine at this wine bar instead?'" 


And so that's just what I did. Luke, as predicted, did not have a problem with that. When we arrived the place was packed full of middle-aged jazzercisers (for real, I asked), and yet we still managed to snag the best seat in the house, planting ourselves on the couch right in front of the fireplace. We talked, we flirted, we drank too much wine. In other words, it was pretty much perfect. The place emptied and we finally made our way out, too. In the parking lot, saying our goodbyes, there was no hesitation--he leaned down, and he kissed me. And it was good! Oh heavens, hallelujah, it was good! 

"I have to go to my parents' house to help my dad out tomorrow," he said. "But have lunch with me before I go?"

In my swoony, post-kiss state I probably would have agreed to anything, and so, "Mmmhmm," I replied. 

And so we did, going to the little restaurant on the lake that he had proposed for our first date. "Can I see you tomorrow, on my way back from my parents' house?" he asked. And for some reason, I said yes again. It's what he says at the end of most of our dates. "Can I see you tomorrow?" Sometimes I say no, but a lot of the time I say yes. More and more I say yes.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why I love a man who can cook

As it turns out, when it comes to cooking he leaves his indecision at the door. "How do you feel about scallops for dinner?" he asked me the night before. I felt pretty good about it, and I told him so. "Do you like tomatoes?" he asked. "I like everything," I said, and he was off and running. 

The wine, apparently, was a different story. Luke is not a wine drinker, but he knows that I am. So after hitting the grocery store last night, he stepped into the wine store across the street for the first time. Not only was it his first time in that particular wine store, but in any wine store at all, and as he entered, he looked around helplessly. The way Luke tells the story (because unfortunately I wasn't there to see it), he was soon approached by a store employee who gave him a long once over: all 6'6" of him, straight from the job site in his work boots and grubby jeans, and obviously way out of his element. "Let me guess," the employee said drily, the way only a haughty gay man can, "you're cooking dinner for a girl, and you don't know what kind of wine to get." 

"Um, yes," Luke said, a bit taken aback. "That's exactly it." 

"Well, what are you cooking?" he asked, and Luke told him. "And do you know what kind of wine she likes?"

"Well, I know she lived in France for a while," Luke said.

"You look like the kind of guy who can cook," the wine store employee said, looking him slowly up and down once again. "I think I can help you out." And he was right on both accounts, sending Luke on his way with a bottle of Muscadet, and another of Saumur Champigny.

Later on that evening, Luke met me at his door with garlicky kisses, and showed me to a plate of bread with homemade garlic butter, paired with a Colorado IPA. Then it was a field green salad with carrots, radishes, blue cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette. We switched to the wine, then: a light red with the bread and salad, and then the white for the main course: pan-seared scallops cooked in butter and a little bit of bacon grease, flavored with shallots and fresh parsley. Corn frozen fresh from his parents' garden, cooked with a chopped up red pepper, and a tomato salad. That wine store guy knows his stuff: not only was the wine spot-on, but, as he predicted, this is a man that can cook


Friday, March 18, 2011

Why there's plenty of sunshine heading my way

This morning I got in the car, and out of habit, poised my finger to change the radio station to the usual NPR doom and gloom report. I have my routine, you see, and it goes NPR in the morning, and music in the afternoon. But my finger hovered over the button for a minute as I listened to the song playing, and then it moved away. I had just caught the last minute or so of the song, but it had a good beat, and I found myself bopping along to it as I drove. You should listen to it, too:

Then the next song came on, and, man oh man, what was this feeling coming over me? My mouth was stretching involuntarily into a smile, and I had a warm, funny feeling inside. Could it, could I be...happy?

All the footage in this video was filmed at Mythaca College and Mythaca Falls, by the way, so you should totally watch it.

So yes, I've had a bluebird on my shoulder all day today, and maybe it's the 60 degree weather, and maybe it's that it's Friday, and maybe it's that today was my last day at the middle school, and thus filled with surprise cookies and cake and cards and heart-felt thank yous, and that everything the kids today did was adorable and not at all annoying. I was in such a good mood I accidentally smiled at my cafeteria lady arch-nemesis, who hates me for no good reason and has had it in for me since my very first day. By the time I realized I was smiling at her, instead of carefully avoiding eye contact, like I usually do, it was too late. She looked...startled, to say the least. Whoops, I thought to myself. And then, No, good. Kill them with kindness, I thought. Yes, I will kill them all with kindness! Well, not literally, of course. But man, it feels good to smile, once in a while.

So, yes, any of the above might be the reason for my spring fever, or it just might be that a very nice, very tall guy is making dinner for me at this very moment. And now I am going all out of order, because the last time you heard from me, my feelings about said guy ranged from a smidge annoyed to just merely ambivalent, at best. And you know I hate to ruin a perfectly good story with a plot spoiler, but sometimes it can't be helped. I'll fill in some more detail later, but for now, it's the weekend, and I'm happy.

Happy, happy, weekend, everyone.        

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why it may be rocky, but it's a start

Ok, no one freak out or anything, but I am maybe, kind of, sort of, a little bit seeing someone. If you happened to read the comments on this post, you'll have noticed that Kalee predicted, "You do know that now that you've posted this that both are suddenly going to think about you and call, right?" And she was right! Or, half right. In any case, not three hours after hitting publish on the very post in which I lambasted the two guys in question, and in fact every man alive or who ever has lived, my phone beeped. Twelve days after his last text, Luke now wanted to know if I had plans for the day, and if I was interested in getting some dinner with him. I had my reply handy for just such an event, having spent the previous week honing the perfectly pointed response: I would probably have said yes two weeks ago, but I've pretty much lost interest by now, sorry. Or, no! I would not say sorry, because I had nothing to apologize for! So there! Except...I didn't say that. Though it might have felt good for a minute, there was still the chance I would have to interact with him in a professional capacity, and I thought it best not to end on a dodged-the-bullet, girl-be-crazy note. Instead I replied noncommittally, I might be able to do that. What did you have in mind?

I don't know, I hadn't gotten that far yet, LOL, he replied. You pick.

Already vaguely annoyed that he had picked now, of all times, to ask me out, after I had already written him off for good, and after I had already blogged about it for heaven's sake, my blood now started to boil. Hadn't gotten that far yet? He had two weeks to think about it! And now he had the nerve to ask me out and then place all the responsibility for the date on me? I didn't think so. It doesn't matter to me, I replied. You think about it and let me know.

When I got back from yoga class a few hours later, I had two text messages waiting for me. In the mood for anything specific? he asked. My blood pressure rose again. Just pick a place, I mentally pleaded with him. It's not that hard. Happily, in the next text, he did just that, and suggested a little restaurant on the lake several miles out of town. Which, great. Except. It had been snowing all day. It had been snowing a lot, all day. So much so that we had a snow day at school the next day, and believe me, they never close the schools here. Having just returned from yoga class, I knew the roads in town were in bad shape, let alone the roads outside of town. It seemed like a lot of places were closing up shop and going into hibernation mode, so would this little restaurant in the middle of nowhere even be open, I wondered? I decided to call to find out, and it was a good thing I had, because sure enough, they were closing early. Growing steadily more annoyed that the responsibility for this date was falling more and more squarely on my unwilling shoulders, I texted him with the news. So, where do you think we should go? he asked.

Argh! I wanted to scream. Let's just go downtown and we can decide when we get there, I said. Though normally I would have met him downtown, I accepted his offer to pick me up, since he mentioned he had four-wheel drive, and I had no desire to get behind the wheel on those messy roads again. Once we arrived downtown, he appeared similarly aimless and indecisive. "Let's just go to Viva," I suggested, and, not really being in a position to disagree, he agreed. As we walked, I did some quick, first date mental math: so that was minus one for waiting so fricking long to ask me out, plus one for picking me up, and another minus one for not being able to pick a restaurant. So far, it was not looking promising for Luke... 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why I'm not a girl, not yet a cougar

We were out for fancy drinks for a friend's birthday last weekend, when suddenly, we spotted them. If you live in a college town, or have ever set foot in one on a Saturday night, you've seen them, too--undergrads in tight tops, bare legs, and the shortest skirts imaginable, teetering drunkenly in towering heels, even as the snow falls gently all around. I shivered looking at them. My eyes drifted for a second to my own hemline. Though I had convinced myself that by wearing boots and thick, winter-weight tights under my short and clingy dress, I wouldn't be committing any crimes of decency or of fashion, it never hurt to get a second opinion. I caught my friend Eric's eye. "Is my skirt too short?" I whispered to him across the table. And that's when he said it. The c-word.


And so, I did what any confident, well-adjusted thirty-year-old would have done: I screamed obscenities at him (confusing and slightly terrifying all those around who had not been following the conversation), grabbed my purse, and stalked off indignantly. (To the bathroom. I find it convenient to combine my moral outrage with calls of nature. Two birds with one stone, and all that.)

Arriving back at the table I picked up my drink and carefully avoided eye contact with Eric. A while later, when he dared address me, "You're on thin ice," I warned him. 

"Why?" asked the guy next to me. "What happened?" And so I told him.

"You can't be a cougar," replied a guy from the other end of the table, overhearing. "You have to be thirty-five to be a cougar."

"Wait, really?" someone asked.

"Yup," he replied with conviction. "Thirty-five is the cut-off. Thirty-four, you're not a cougar, thirty-six, you are." All this in his social studies teacher voice, as if he had just this minute finished reading up on the behavior and mating habits of the modern American city-dwelling cougar. 

"But it also implies someone who is actively pursuing younger men," someone mentioned.

"It has to do with success rate, as well," Eric said. 

"Well in that case I am definitely not a cougar," I said.

"So what about a woman in her fifties? Is she still a cougar?"

"No, then she's a MILF."

"No, she's only a MILF if she has kids."

"Not necessarily..."

"Yes, necessarily! It's in the name. Mom I'd like to--"

"Ok, now, fancy restaurant."

"But sometimes you don't know if she has kids."

"If she's married and over the age of forty you can assume she has kids."

"That is not true! You can't just assume that."

"Well, most of the time."

"No, having kids is not the default mode for women. You can't just automatically assume that all women over the age of forty have kids."

"So who would you rather hook up with?" one of the guys asked. "A cougar or a MILF?"

"MILF, definitely."

"I don't know..."

We left the restaurant that evening no closer to any answers in the great Cougar vs. MILF debate. All I knew was that there are cougars, and there are MILFs, and happily, I was not either. I had learned, however, that in the interest of preserving one's own sanity and any shred of perceived youth one might still possess, twenty-nine-and-twenty-three-month-year-olds should probably not fraternize with twenty-five-year-olds. 

All this cougar/MILF talk had got me thinking, though... If it really came down to it, what would a cougar vs. MILF showdown look like? I'm thinking it would probably look something like this:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why I guess this makes her an "athlete"

As seen on Facebook just now:

Rebecca added pole dancing to her sports.

Two thoughts:

1. I'm so glad they're calling it a sport now, so pole dancers can finally get the respect they deserve.

2. It will be nice to finally have something to say when people ask me, "So what does your sister do?" I mean, phew.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why you can't win if you don't play the game, but you can still lose either way

Hey, how was your weekend? I typed, in what I hoped was the perfect, casual, friendly-but-not-too-eager text message. After a flurry of back-and-forth text messages of the get-to-know-you variety four days earlier, I hadn't heard a word from Kevin since, and I was starting to get nervous.

("He's probably just waiting for the weekend to ask you out," my friend Pete had assured me. "Knows he has a better chance of getting laid.") 

It still couldn't hurt to at least touch base mid-week, I figured, and so I waited anxiously for a response, which came almost immediately. 

His weekend was good, he said, and mine? Also good, I said, and mentioned I had just returned from Philly. And how is your week looking? I said, inching closer to my real reason for texting. He was busy, he said, and felt buried under work at the moment. Sensing that this conversation was going nowhere fast, I decided to take the bull by the horns, and typed, Well if you ever have some free time, we should hang out.

I will definitely make time, he replied, and added a smiley face after. And that was it. 

My heart sank. I've been playing this game long enough to recognize rejection when I see it, even when it is cloaked in feigned enthusiasm. If he had actually planned on seeing me, he would have said something like, I will definitely make time. How about Saturday? Or, I was thinking Friday, but I'll have to let you know. Though to the untrained eye it might appear otherwise, I knew that by not including any kind of time frame in his response, what he actually meant was I will definitely never make time to see you, the smiley face alleviating any vestiges of guilt he might have momentarily felt. A peace offering made of a colon and a parenthesis and a non-rejection rejection, and then--a clean slate. Absolved. 

No, you say? But he said he was buried under work, you say? He said 'definitely;' surely he will call, just give it time, you say? And oh, my poor, dear, naive reader, I do hate to be the bearer of bad news, but grab the bull by the horns enough times and you learn to spot some bull shit. Anyway, that conversation took place eleven days ago, now. With two weekends in between. 

And Luke? I haven't heard anything from him since his last message suggesting dinner or drinks "later this week," twelve days ago. 

Now, Internet, you know I have experienced some rejection, in my day. (Which is kind of like saying that Bill Gates has some money.) I am queen of the Charlie Brown-style flying leap, forever chasing that football, and like Charlie, always landing flat on my back with the wind knocked out of me. But it used to be that a girl had to actually put herself out there before she got rejected. Used to be she had to actually date a guy before she could be dumped, but no more. Now they can reject you before they even go out with you

I took myself out of the game months ago because I just couldn't take it anymore. Took myself offline, laid low, told myself I would finish up the semester and get out of this town. Done. I go to school, I go to work, and I go home and curl up in a boring, comfortable little ball. You can't hurt what you can't see, after all. But the universe, with its twisted sense of humor, said ha, we'll see about that, and now guys are coming into my place of business, just to reject me. 

Next guy who so much as smiles at me is getting his head ripped off.

I'm done. You hear me, Universe? Done.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why one plus one equals too (many)

I stared at my phone in disbelief. Two days following our text message marathon and still no word from Kevin, and now Luke pops up at 9:30 on a Tuesday morning just to say hi? 

Hi Luke, I tapped out in response.

How are you? he replied.

I sighed, not particularly in the mood for chit-chat this early in the morning. Fine, I replied. In Philly for a few days.

Oh, that's a great town! he wrote back. Whatcha doing there? 

I sighed again and tried to cut the conversation short. Visiting friends. About to go to a museum now...

Well I won't keep bothering you, then, he said. But we should get together for dinner or drinks later this week.

 Cool, talk to you later, I replied, hoping my reply conveyed a breezy friendliness and an openness to the possibility, rather than the hurried brush-off that I was afraid actually came across.

Later that day, I talked things over with my friend Pete, hoping to gain a male perspective on the situation. "Well, you know what you can't do," he said, "is hook up with the one, and if that doesn't work out, go for the other."

"Well no," I said. "Clearly."

"'Cause no one wants to be your second choice."


"So you have to choose carefully. You have to choose the one you think is most attainable."

"Well, they did both give me their phone number," I said. "I mean, aside from any wingman-type scenario, I think it's fair to assume they're both at least somewhat interested."

"No, I don't mean attainable just right now, I mean long-term."

"Are you saying you don't think I can get the cute guy?"

"No, it's not necessarily about looks. I'm just saying. Choose carefully."

"Well the cute guy and I did have that whole text message conversation. Although, he is pretty short..."

"How short?"

"I don't know, exactly. As soon as I get back to the office I'll have to pull his file and see if I can find a copy of his driver's license."

"Psshh, that means nothing. That's all self-reported, anyway."

"Yes, would still be good to know. I mean, I've dated down to 5'10" before, but I don't think I could do anything less than that."

"Yeah, that could be weird."

"So, wait. What if Luke asks me out first? If I go out to dinner or whatever with him, I can still go out with Kevin after, right?"

"No, I already told you, you can't do that."

"Wait, even if we don't do anything?"

"Absolutely not."

"So what do I do? I mean, what if Kevin doesn't ask me out first?"

"You could ask him out."


"Why not?"

"Because he should ask me out. He's the one who started this. It's the whole hunter and prey thing. The deer doesn't just turn around and start chasing the hunter. That wouldn't make any sense."

"Well, send him a text or something. Say hi."

"I don't know..."

"Look," Pete sighed heavily, as if divulging a long-guarded secret. "This is what girls just don't understand. If a guy likes you, calling him, or sending him a text, or whatever, isn't going to make him like you any less. I promise."

"Hmm," I said.

"Just do it. First thing tomorrow morning."

"No! I hate the morning text. No one needs to be texting first thing in the morning."

"Ok, first thing tomorrow evening, then."

"Ok then," I said. "Maybe I will. Ok."

Later the next day, back from Philly and in my own home once again, I took out my phone. Pete's words echoed in my head. I hoped he was right.

I had spent the four hour drive back to Mythaca racking my brain, mentally composing the perfectly casual yet friendly and encouraging text message. And finally, I had it, the perfect text message, and it was almost brilliant in its simplicity. Hey, how was your weekend? I typed.

I hit send, and then, I waited.

To be (sorry, but you had to know this was coming) continued...