"Hi S. It’s [Relief Worker's Full Name]. Please give me a call. I would appreciate it." I furrowed my brow and replayed the message. The slightly cold tone, the shortness, the fact that he used his first and last name all made it sound like a voicemail I'd leave for someone I was annoyed with at work. Maybe I’d leave it for an acquaintance, but not for a friend and certainly not at 9:15 at night for someone who I'd previously taken to dinner on a couple of occasions. I was puzzled, so I listened again, trying to discern what his message wasn't saying, imputing significance on what really was just a voicemail. I am quite experienced with this routine – the confusing voicemail, the unclear text message, the random e-mail. Courting is so very high-tech these days, Romeo and Juliet would rely on that creepy guy from the eHarmony commercials to determine if they had similar opinions on if a rose by any other name would smell so sweet. I turned down the stereo and covered my other ear, pressing my cell phone into the side of my head, as if proximity to my eardrum would offer clarity as to the message and clues to the cause of its curtness. Frustrated, I gave up and went to bed. I never did figure it out. According to Socrates, "The unexamined life is not worth living." And, generally speaking, I don't question the guy on this point, because I've reaped much from the careful examination and attention to pattern and detail in my own life. (Not that I've used everything discovered in these little S self-exams, but I have found them useful.) However, each time I waste 10 minutes dedicating an earnest ear to decoding an everyday voicemail, half an hour composing the perfectly punchy flirty e-mail to a man or an afternoon forwarding a text message around so my committee of girlfriends can dissect it, I wonder if Socrates wasn't, as Bridget Jones's mother put it, "a bit of a sh-t."
Technical problems fixed. Enjoy! In honor of the biggest shopping day of the year, (Ok, I know I’m a day late with this, but I had nonshopping-related things to attend to on Friday. Sorry!) I thought I would offer some guidance for all of you boys and girls shopping for the Charming, but single woman in your life. (This may be totally shallow, but putting it together was super fun.) Here are some things La Charming must have for Christmas:
Fleur de lis jewelry – Ubiquitous New Orleans jewelry designer Mignon Faget will be donating a portion of the sales of her (also ubiquitous) fleur de lis jewelry to Louisiana Rebirth: Restoring the Soul of America, which is an initiative of the state of Louisiana that aims to rebuild the cultural soul of New Orleans. I like the sterling silver pendant and the ring. (I’m not really a gold kind of gal.) Symbol of New Orleans + Helping rebuild a historic city + jewelry = Totally Charming. Blinged out purse by Kathy Van Zeeland – I love this one in tobacco (brown) and this one in topaz (creamy golden brown). Not too metallic, yet flashy enough for a good time. Definitely Charming. (Side note: The online pictures do not do them justice. In person, they’re super cute.) Envy Me eau de toilette by Gucci – Flowery, yet sensual and seductive. Not too overpowering, but distinctive. This is the official nighttime scent of Charming, but single. (I’ve even had girls flirt with me when I was wearing this.) (Side note: La Charming cannot wear perfume, because it makes her head hurt. So she sticks to the eau de toilette, which is gentler.) (I will stop referring to myself in the third person now.) iPod Nano – Looks can be deceiving; little package, big punch. Ch-Ch-Charming! Black, of course! (And, no, I don’t need no stinkin’ iPod video. Where would I watch these little two-inch movies? I’m all for impracticality, but I think two-inch portable TVs are a bit much.) “Pure Simplicity,” “Aromatherapy” and “Breathe” products from Bath and Body Works – Look, you could buy pretty much anything from these collections and be safe with the Charming, but single girls. It’s not the most expensive stuff in the world, but it ain’t exactly free either. I'm not as big of a fan of the olive oil fragrance as I am of some of the other fragrances, but I doubt I'd complain if I got it. I've played with them all in the store and I always leave smelling like a cornucopia of yummy fragrances. I am an especially big fan of the thick body cream, because I'm a HUGE FAN of moisturization. To be Charming, but single, your skin must always always always be hydrated. A year's worth of spa pedicures – A girl can dream, right? Fifty-two spa pedicures (one a week) would probably cost between $1,500 and $3,500 (and beyond, I’m sure, but in my area that’s a good price range), depending on where your very special Charming, but single lady gets her tosies treated. But wouldn't it be worth the joy in her eyes when she realizes that you want her to be relaxed and pampered all year? Tres Charming! Moto Razr V3 Phone – So super thin that it could fit in all of the tiny going out purses and clutches us Charming, but single gals adore. Sleek and small without sacrificing service? Be still my beating heart! Methinks this Charming, but Single gal needs a camera phone. (Black to match the iPod Nano!) (Look, the pink one is cute, but do you want to be in the middle of a meeting at work and have to pull out a bright pink cell phone to take a call?) Gym membership – Before you go gifting a gym membership to the Charming woman in your life, make sure that she wants one (This Charming, but single girl does!) and that there's something there that she'll like. (Like good classes, an array of machines to work out on, shirtless towel boys). Don't go offending your Charming baby by making her think that she needs to work out. Spin it: Tell her you want her to have a healthy year or get her a membership so that you can work out with her and spend more time together. Charming girls need all of the energy we can get. (And if you’re having problems figuring out exactly what kind of spin to put on the present you buy, e-mail me. I AM a professional spin-doctor, you know.) Dangly earrings – They don’t have to be from Bebe, I just like that they had an array of them online. I love love love Dangly earrings. They add a special touch to dressy outfits and make casual outfits a bit more Charming. Jeans, black boots and a sexy black sweater can go from boring to bling with the addition of the right jewelry. (I swear, I’m cutting my fingers off after writing that last sentence because it sounds like something that would come from Lucky magazine. Although, this whole damn post is tres Lucky, so …) Cashmere hoodie – There are expensive ones (Juicy) and less expensive ones (Gap). But they’re all soft and clingy and sexy. And Charming. Are Men Necessary? by Maureen Dowd – I say “Probably not, but they sure are fun to look at!” (Don’t send me hate mail, that was a joke.) I’ve heard a bit about this book and I’m curious as to see what La Dowd has to say on the subject.Charming’s general rules of Gifting: For significant others –
- Discuss. Try to feel out the other person for ideas on price range and such. If you’re at the point in a relationship where you feel obligated to buy a gift for your partner, you should have an idea of what is appropriate price and content-wise. Right? (I’m just saying, don’t buy a kitten for someone who is allergic, etc. etc. etc.)
- Schedule. Set a special night aside as a Christmas night just for the two of you, especially if you have family engagements or will be in separate cities for the holiday. This gives you a shopping deadline.
- Confer. Enlist the help of a friend of the same gender as your significant other.
- Impress. Keep it unique by not buying prepackaged gift baskets or sets. (Although putting together your own gift basket is a great idea for anyone. Pick a theme and the get stuff that goes with it. For example, a “Relaxation” basket could have nice candles, bubble bath, a CD (Sarah McLachlan, David Gray) and a nice bottle of wine.)
- Spin. Explain why you selected the gift. For example, if you make a “Relaxation” basket mentioned above, make sure you point out that you picked “Calming” because you want your Charming lady to have a break from her stressful life.
- Get lists. Shopping for Dads and brothers is the worst.
- Don’t break the bank. I always set a price that I’m going to spend on my family members. My parents always get upset if I spend too much on them because they say I should be saving my money. I also always make sure I spend about the same amount on all family members. (My momma taught me this early on.)
- Be creative. Don’t be afraid to opt for a less-expensive, but very special family present. For example, old family photos reprinted and touched up in black and white and framed simply make wonderful gifts. (And with the advent of Photoshop, scanners, digital photo media and big, cheap home stores, many times you can crop and adjust the prints yourself at home, print them up at your local photo center and frame them yourself.)
- Team up with siblings. This can save you a lot of time shopping (and also money).
- Discuss. If you’re broke and your friends are broke, come clean and opt for cheap presents or no presents at all. (My brother and I did this one year when we determined that we were going to each buy the other a $25 gift certificate to a CD store and decided to save the cash and just have a beer one night. It was great)
- Play gifting games. If you are a social butterfly with a lot of friends, suggest that you do a Secret Santa thing or one of those White Elephant Christmas games. Set a price limit and have a nice dinner at someone’s house and play. You’ll have more fun and spend less money.
- Keep it small and simple. Have your girlfriends over for dinner and give them a special pretty Christmas ornament. Fun, relaxing a cheap. You can use it as a decoration on the outside of a moderately priced bottle of wine or as a table or dessert decoration. (Just call me Martha Freaking Stewart.)
- Play along. A lot of companies do Gift Games like Secret Santa.
- Ask your buddies. See what your work pals are planning to do. Copy them. (Because you don’t want to overdo it and look silly or annoy everyone else or make them feel bad.)
- Bake. Make a big batch of muffins or brownies or cookies. Either drop them off at your coworkers cubes or put them in the break room with a note. (This is what I am doing for the people in my section. It is inexpensive and is open to everyone. Plus, who doesn’t like brownies at about 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon when you’re stuck on a three-hour conference call and need a sugar shock to keep you from falling asleep in front of your boss?)
- Be fair and equitable. If you are good enough friends with someone that you want to give them something special, do it outside of work and save yourself the stress of slighting someone else, either accidentally or on purpose.
- Expensive and sparkly and shiny
I don't have any particularly wise words on this Official Day of Thanks, other than to say that I feel damn lucky that my family and friends are safe on this day. I'm thankful for my home and my job. And I'm thankful for hope and rebirth. (And that, counting today, there are only SEVEN days left in hurricane season. We are all tres thankful for this.) I saw Rent last night. (Me and every awkward young teenage girl and sexually-confused boy this side of New Orleans.) I'll leave you with the song I've had stuck in my head since then.
There's only us There's only this Forget regret Or life is yours to miss No other road No other way No day but todayI am so damn cheesy sometimes. Have a Charming day, my six readers. I am so very thankful for all of you, dears.
There are many reasons why I don't do online personals, most notably, because I'm skeptical that I could meet someone based on checkboxes and drop-down menus. I'm also kind of morally opposed to people making money off of my misadventures in dating. If anyone's going to do that, it is going to be me.
But every now and again, I wonder if it is worth giving online dating the old college try.
And then I read a story like this one:
Online daters sue matchmaking Web sites for fraud
By Martha Graybow
NEW YORK, Nov 18 (Reuters) - It's not easy finding love in cyberspace, and now some frustrated online daters say they were victims of fraud by two top Internet matchmaking services and have taken their complaints to court.
Match.com, a unit of IAC/Interactive Corp. (IACI.O: Quote, Profile, Research), is accused in a federal lawsuit of goading members into renewing their subscriptions through bogus romantic e-mails sent out by company employees. In some instances, the suit contends, people on the Match payroll even went on sham dates with subscribers as a marketing ploy.
And suddenly, being dateless is not looking so bad.
Can you imagine finding out that someone you dated was literally paid to go out with you? I'm sure the Alleged Match.com Fake Dater went back to work and dished about the Fake Dates she went on, just like I'm sure teachers secretly gossip about their students in the teacher's lounge.
This only makes me more skeptical of online dating services and their free personality tests. I can barely handle classic rejection, let alone manipulated Cutting Edge rejection by some money-hungry corporation who, in all honesty, has no reason to WANT you to be happy and meet someone. They want you to get enough physical attention to keep you happy and subscribed to their service, but not enough to where you don't need them anymore or gain enough confidence to go out and seek dates offline on your own. They want you to be hungry and single instead of full and committed.
Of course, if this were a Cheesy Romantic Comedy, the plaintiff in this lawsuit would take the Alleged Match.com Fake Dater back and they'd get married, because even though they dated under false pretenses, she would repent and they'd be in love.
Blah blah blah.
This is from last weekend. What can I say, I'm a busy girl and posting takes time.
I went out with the boys on Friday night. We hit up a downtown bar with a loud band, and while I enjoyed myself, I was well aware that I was the only female in the group.
Don't get me wrong, I can be just one of the guys. I like college football and basketball. I can acknowledge when a woman is beautiful. I drink beer.
I can hang.
But some nights, especially after I've attempted to curl my hair and eyelashes and am trying out new "Dehumidifying" hairspray, I don't want to be one of the boys. I want to be one of the girls. Or even one of the girls who hangs out with the boys. But definitely not one of the boys who grunts and checks out women.
Suffice it to say, I felt like one of the girls who was dying to not be the only one of the girls with the boys on Friday night.
First off, there was the parking. I did not realize the great lengths to which I go to park in spots close to bars that are well-lit and safe-looking. (Bonus points if they have an attendant.)
We were driving down the street when the Male Driver asked for parking suggestions. I motioned toward a bright, clean, half-full parking garage less than a block from the bar. He scoffed at the idea of paying $5 to park and continued up the street, where he squeezed his card behind a dumpster. I guess boys don't think about things like getting jumped by an attacker hiding behind a dumpster, which is why they think paying to park in a guarded garage is stupid. Must be nice.
I looked at my pointy boots with two-and-a-half inch heels and sighed. The boys took off to the bar while I trudged down the street two blocks and grumbled.
I finally caught up and we settled in at an outside table. It was only a touch chilly and I was enjoying a nice local brew when it all started.
I don't know if the boys just forgot that they had a woman with them or if they just didn't care, but they proceeded to critique every woman (and some of the guys) in the place. They even referred to one woman as looking like she was "rode hard and hung up wet," which is just harsh. She was looking pretty tired/strung out/messy, but come on.
Most annoying was one of the guys (who I do not know very well) who would say, "I would pay your bills" when he saw an attractive woman.
This is just tacky and really unattractive for several reasons:
- Cockiness is almost always a sign that a guy is generally an ass.
- Most women I know pay their own bills. (I know many who make more than their husbands or boyfriends.)
- You can't cuddle with a credit card.
- This isn't 1950. We have brains. (I'm going to put that on a T-shirt.)
- People who talk about how much money they have typically don't have that much. (The same goes for people who discuss their great talent in the sack or the degree to which they will treat you like a princess. People who HAVE a lot of money/sexual prowess/skill in treating a woman right don't have to sit around and talk about it, right?) (Although I guess the same could be said of people who talk about how "charming" they are. But I am charming. I am! I've charmed all of you!)
I rolled my eyes and tried to ignore this guy.
Then, there was this dude making out with a girl in the bar. When I say "making out," I mean, "sitting down licking a woman's neck while she straddled and dry humped him."
(Sidenote: Look, I'm not saying I've never kissed someone in a bar. It happens, you're drunk and you feel all lovey dovey, so you plant a kiss on someone. It's nice. But humping and neck licking is definitely not a barroom activity. Find a bedroom or a hotel room or a car or a living room or a hot tub or ANYWHERE BUT A BAR. Seriously. Leave me and my beer alone!)
So the dude being humped asks one of my male friends for a cigarette. And then someone says something to someone and before I know it The Humped Dude is yelling at my friends and I have no idea why.
My guy friends are mildly amused and I'm thoroughly mortified and a touch worried that someone's going to end up needing stitches. And then The Woman Previously Humping the Humped Dude tries to intervene and he pushes her and then they leave. The Humped Dude comes back later to apologize and to note that he has no problem with me. (Because I was losing sleep over this.) And when one of my friends accepts his apology and also apologizes for whatever it is that he did, The Humped Dude starts saying, "Dude, don't be that guy. Don't be rude to me, I'm apologizing."
I don't know exactly what happened, but for awhile The Humped Dude would walk by and kind of eyed my guyfriends. He eventually left alone, because I'm assuming the Woman Who Was Humping decided that she may not have had the self respect to avoiding humping someone in a bar, but she definitely had too much respect for herself to go home with a guy who pushes her around. (And amen to that, sister.)
My male friends' take on this? "Man what a loser. He couldn't score with a woman who was DRY HUMPING him in a bar!"
Shortly thereafter a crew of girls I knew showed up and I ended up joining them for some late-night French toast. (I'd been craving it since my conversation with B the night before.)
To recap what I learned about men from my night out with the guys:
- Parking must be free.
- Boobs are good.
- Guys actually ARE looking for golddiggers.
- Yelling over nothing in a bar is okay.
- Apologizing is not.
Had one of those amazing, two-hour conversations with B last night. It was nice, albeit slightly painful at times. He was talking about a girl. I choked back my feelings and offered my friendly advice and a woman's perspective. After all, I have not spared him details of the boys in my life. Ever. "I don't want to sound like I'm butting in," I said before I offered any advice. "No, no. Any perspective you can give is good. Very good," he said. So we talked about her and the Relief Worker and then that lead to a conversation of fears and opening up and how hard it is to let someone in when you've been hurt in the past. The fact that I'd been hurt in the past by B was danced around, although we both knew it was there. He seemed to want to acknowledge it at one point. I was saying that sometimes it is tough to want to put yourself out there and then be rejected, but you realize after doing it a few times that rejection hurts, but it doesn't kill you. You can live to tell the tale of a broken heart, I told him. "It hurts to put all of your cards on the table and then be left hanging out there," I said. He paused and sort of smiled and shifted in his seat. "This, um, this is odd," he said. He stopped himself. "What?" I said. "What do you want to say? Why did you stop." He shook his head. I knew he wasn't going to come clean or cop to his feelings or anything like that. I think that was the closest he's come to ever acknowledging that he'd hurt me. And yet he stopped short. We talked about things I've always known about him -- how he holds things inside and won't let people in. We talked about why, but that's not really mine to share. We talked about relationships and what we want out of them. "I wish I could be one of those people who just dates someone and breaks up with them and then starts dating someone else," he said. "So you want quantity over quality?" I asked. "I'd rather have something special and real than months of just getting by with something that is just okay. I'll wait my whole life for something real. And if it never comes, then I guess I'll just have to be enough." We kept talking. He is stressed and confused and any number of other things. As we left the bar, I leaned against his truck. "What would make you happy?" I asked him. He paused and thought for too long. "You think too much," I told him. "What would make you happy right now? Don't think about it. Stop trying to intellectualize your feelings. Just say something that would make you happy right now." He paused again and looked at me. "What would make you happy?" I giggled. "French toast," I said coyly. But I was lying.
Last night, while I was on the phone with the Relief Worker, I figured out why I am so hesitant and generally wishy-washy about him.
I was settled into my new Sunday night routine, watching "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" while having a glass of wine. A friend of mine was over and we were debating the relative hotness of the different doctors on the show. Very important stuff.
The Relief Worker called, so I excused myself to the balcony so as to not interrupt the television-watching. He asked what I was doing, and I told him without hesitating, "Drinking a glass of wine and watching TV with a friend."
"Oh, you're all snuggled up with someone?" he asked, which is a lame way of asking if I'm seeing someone.
I assured him that I wasn't and we had a short conversation. Toward the end he said, "Well, it was good talking to you. Go enjoy your bottle of wine."
"Glass," I said. "I'm having a glass of wine."
"Well, one always leads to another," he said. "You know how that works."
And that's when it hit me. I am ambivalent about him because he makes me feel self-conscious about my actions and because no matter what happens, I will always be the "bad" one in the relationship.
I am an adult. I'm 25 and I drink and I wear shirts that show off my cleavage sometimes and I hobble around on three-inch heels. I sometimes smoke and I look forward to a glass of wine after a long week at work. I get manicures and so I don't save as much money as I should and instead of drinking house wine, I'll have a $10 martini.
I stay out (and up) late. I enjoy trashy TV shows and watch silly reality TV when I should be vacuuming or mopping or Windexing something. I eat tater tots and grilled cheese or pizza and potato chips when I should be having a salad and apple slices. I play my music too loud and I dance around my apartment in my bra in the middle of the day without shutting my blinds.
I sleep in or go to brunch instead of church on Sundays. My last thought at night before I go to bed is about what time I should set my alarm. I often skip breakfast, but I always have my coffee. I am slightly addicted to Diet Coke and at least once a week, I sneak off to the vending machine for a white chocolate Reese's peanut butter cup.
And I am fine with it all.
I'm also a good sister and daughter. I love my family and friends. I work hard for less money than I should because I believe that I am helping people. I am a shoulder to cry on, someone who will listen and a person you can go to when you just want to laugh. I will cook you dinner (veggies only!) and make dessert.
I will dance all night for your birthday and buy you a drink when your heart is broken. I'll give you advice I know you won't take and I will do my best to avoid saying "I told you so" later. (I sometimes fail at this one.) You can cry to me and I will never tell anyone. You can tease me and I'll tease back.
And what I really need is someone who is fine with it all, too.
As the seasons change, so must the look of Charming, but single.
The new pink shoe is Christian Louboutin, much too expensive for me to afford. But I love it so very much. Very sexy (high heeled, strappy) but still very innocent (bow) while also being flirty (hot pink). Imagine that shoe with a little black dress, perfectly pedicured light pink toes and a bright-colored clutch. Very "night out dancing with the girls" or "breathtakingly gorgeous at a cocktail party."
I wonder if I could get my landlord to waive my rent for a few months in order for me to have these shoes …
I am also updating my blogroll. I try to check the Technorati links, but I always fall behind. So, if you would like to be blogrolled, please comment on this post and tell me the name of your blog, the URL and what your favorite imported beer is and why. (Mine alternates between Hoegaarden because it is smooth and has a nice taste and Mackeson XXX because it has this great hint of coffee or chocolate.) And forgive me if it takes awhile for me to add you, I am nothing if I am not constantly overwhelmed, slacking or making excuses as to why something has not yet been done. My apologies in advance.
I'd also like to give a shout out to the Singular Man, who has twice linked to me in recent weeks without so much as a comment from me. (This is dating blog equivalent of him leaving two voicemails and me not returning them, except that I don't think he's trying to sleep with me, so maybe not so much.)
Anyway, go read what the Singular Man has to say about me here and here. And while you're there, read some of his other stuff, because he is very good and he comments on an array of dating/single issues (when he is not preoccupied with bashing online dating sites).
Things are sort of on hold with the boy because he's not here and we're not so great on the phone. At all. It is odd. Will keep ya posted.