Note: Coming off of hiatus for a bit. To get some Katrina context, read my posts from a year ago here, here and here. And this one too. A year has passed and the wounds are still very fresh. I don’t know what to say other than that it is heartbreaking to see a place you love in ruins, to see people on TV suffering and know, “That is in my backyard.” To hear your family members talk about their homes. Their old homes that were underwater. Their new homes that could never be the same. New Orleans is a city about emotion and wonder and merriment. And life without it could never be the same. I don’t have wise words to say or things to offer. I still blink twice when I’m in New Orleans. And rebuilding is hard. Anyone who tells you that it isn’t has never really hit rock bottom. But the signs of rebirth are around us – like the street cars rumbling down the streets, Mardi Gras and JazzFest, the new roof Superdome, beignets at Café du Monde, mail service, electricity. There is much left to do. Areas of the city look like a hurricane hit there yesterday still, one year later. But in a town that still manages to cheer for one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Saints’ bumper sticker rings true – “You Gotta Have Faith.” New Orleans, for all your faults and problems and oddities, if ever I cease to love … For the thoughts, the prayers, the money, the charity, the tears, the food, the donations, the clothes, your love, your support, your attention, the Gulf Coast says merci, mes amis. Beaucoup.
All -- I am taking a blog vacay starting today and running until September 1. It is for a lot of reasons, all of them personal. But the most important is that I simply need a break from blogging and if I just stop posting for a few days that won't be enough. I need an actual moratorium on blogging here. Days and days of no new content to cleanse my blogger's palate. I am tired and working constantly, I’m stuck in a dating rut from hell and am feeling like to put myself out there too much – and, in the wise words of my favorite cheesy country song of the moment by Julie Roberts, “Men and mascara, they always run.” I know what you're thinking. How many blogs disappear after a hiatus? Go on break and never come back? And how could I need a break from something I enjoy? Not me my friends. I enjoy having this journal too much to leave for good. It's become an extension of me, a cherished placed for my thoughts and a special secret that only I know about. In short, I simply love it. But it can be rough sometimes. I feel pressure to produce new and higher quality posts, to go on more dates, to give more of the dirty details about my encounters, to live the Charming, but single life … and sometimes it gets tiring. And I don't always have something fun to do and I like to just hang and I really need some down time. To be notified via e-mail of my return, please join my fancy Yahoo! Newsletter group and by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting http://groups.yahoo.com/group/charmingbutsingle/. It is announcement only and I'll be sure to send y'all an e-mail upon my glorious return to the 'sphere, feeling refreshed, relaxed and metaphorically tanned. And you can still send me e-mail at the address on the right. I will try to read and respond as I can. Now drink a cosmo with me and go play with the other bloggers on my 'roll … Bye (for now), La Charming
You know what I hate about dating? So much potential around me, but the time it takes to cultivate the seed and have it grow into something more moves at a snail’s pace. And I’m left just sitting here tapping my fingers impatiently waiting. For the good stuff. With The Nurse doing finals, our status is pretty much left hanging, though I have to say that we do talk everyday, which I think is promising. I wanted to have the Talk, but I’m very not very confrontational when it comes to these matters. But he hasn’t signed on to Match in two weeks (not that I know how to check without him knowing I checked … who me? Stalker?), which I think is probably a sign that he actually has been busy and stressed. Or that he’s not dating half of the city. Or that he’s already dating half of the women on Match, so he doesn’t need to sign on anymore. And my frustration-fueled Match.com Man Spree of a few weeks ago left me e-mailing a few guys, but that seems to have fizzled, probably because I wasn’t very dedicated to it. I also chatted with The Blackberry, who I think doesn’t really remember too much about me, honestly. Which is hysterical. And The Crier has been messaging me. He’s moved into a new townhouse and he said he wants me to have me over for a glass of wine. (Even after I told him I was seeing someone. Because, you know, if you’re going to overstate a relationship, you should at least have a good reason, like not having to see the guy who cried on a date again …) That sound you hear is me blocking him on Messenger and running away quickly in high heels …
(Note: This is long. Sorry. Treats for people who read all 1700 words and comment!) Friday night I had plans to get all gussied up with The Lawyer and pals because she was in town for some sort of law-related meeting for the day. I’d had a long week and I was feeling generally grumpy, hormonal, emotional and restless. I’d already cried once in the past few days from sheer frustration about nothing really important and a night out with my good friends sounded like just the salve for my wounded spirit. I know what my friends like. And when The Lawyer comes in town, I always chill a bottle of cheap champagne and get guacamole, salsa and other nacho fixins for a pre-dinner cocktail-hour-slash-hair-and-make-up session. A few glasses of mass produced champagne, some serious hair straightening, two black dresses and some heels later, we were off to eat at a new bistro I love with Southern Belle. We’d wanted to have a small girls-only dinner alone for the three of us to catch up about work and life and, most importantly, men and sex. Now, I have to flash back to say that I did invite The Nurse to come meet us after dinner for drinks at a Fancy Downtown Wine Bar, but he declined due to low cash flow. He explained that he was on a tight budget while he waited for his fall student loan to come in and because of his lighter work schedule (he takes summer session finals next week) and that he couldn’t afford the Fancy Downtown Wine Bar. I felt for him because I remember being in school and looking down at my wallet, thinking, “How can I possibly only have $23.12 to live off of until my loan check gets here?” I thought about offering to pay, but decided that might bruise his ego too much. That said, I was pretty hurt. TOO hurt. I explained that a friend was in from out of town and how we were getting dressed up all pretty and he apologized for not going. And I said it was okay because I didn’t want him to feel bad, even though it felt not okay at all. There was a little part of me that was furious – how did he not know how important this was to me? And I could feel the tears of frustration returning and I rushed to the bathroom at work and splashed water on my face and decided that before I let my outrage overtake me, I’d give myself a day or two to calm down. After all, I’d almost flown into a rage earlier in the week when I couldn’t find a Diet Coke at a store – clearly I was in the middle of hormone-induced hell. (As an aside, I don’t normally blame being emotional on my hormones and generally think women who use PMS as a constant excuse for bitchiness are pretty lame, but for various health-related reasons I had a much rougher time than normal this month. I feel much better now, thanksforasking.) Also, I didn’t say, “[Nurse] this is a good friend of mine from college and I’d like you to come be my boyfriend for tonight so that my friends will get to meet you because I think you are fantastic and that they are fantastic and it would be nice if y’all met.” Instead, I said, “Oh, it’s okay! Another time.” And I decided that before I let Irrational Charming take over, I’d at least give it a few days to see if I was still mad. (And I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, because apparently he isn’t a mind reader? Who knew?) But back to dinner. We talked about a lot of things, but my giddiness about my blossoming relationship caused me to gush. A lot. And I’m sure I yapped on about him, as you would expect from someone who is generally over the moon with the person he or she is dating. And I didn’t feel bad about it because I have been in the opposite role many a time with The Lawyer when she was all breathless over some guy and couldn’t be stopped from sharing every detail of his wonderfulness. Sure, we all may gag and roll our eyes, but true friends sit there and listen to you drool about how cute it was when he cradled you while you were watching Rent that time and how cute he is when he smokes a cigarette. (Somewhere in the Best Friend Contract is a clause about listening to about your friends’ new relationships and new men because you know that they will listen about yours, which has a partner clause about breakups and broken hearts and men to hate.) We left the restaurant and headed to the bar, texting people to meet us. In the end, The Banker and Prom Date joined us and we ran into some other friends once we got there. They were arranging our table and we were settling in when The Nurse called. I left the group to stand in the lobby and talk to him. “Heeeello,” he said, sounding so damn cute. “Hi, how are you?” I replied, my voice raising a few octaves to my I-am-swooning-because-you-are-so-damn-cute level. I was hoping he was calling to come meet us. “I have a song stuck in my head,” he said. “Oh? What’s that?” I was confused. He called because he had a song stuck in his head? And then he started singing the most ridiculous version of “Today For You” from Rent, which reminded him of me because we’d watched it together. It was so silly that I wished he was right there because I would have pushed him up against the wall and kissed him full on the lips in front of the Fancy Downtown Wine Bar and God and my friends and the whole damn world. “Toooodaaaay for yoooou, toooomorrow for meeee,” he continued. I could tell his was dancing around being silly. “You’d make a pretty mean drag queen,” I joked. “Maybe you can borrow some of my shoes.” We talked for a few minutes and I decided then in there that The Nurse does like me and that while the relationship was far from ideal right now, the strong physical chemistry we have and the affection we both obviously feel for each other was a good enough combination to at least try to see where this goes. I wished him a good evening (he was heading to his dive bar, where we both could drink all night for the cost of one glass of white wine from Argentina that I drank with glee) and bid him adieu. We sent cute text messages back and forth all night. I had a good time we my friends at the bar and I slowed my drinking to a crawl because it was obvious that The Lawyer was too drunk to drive us home. After several glasses of water and a few hours, I felt fine. “Where is Nurse!” she slurred at me. “He’s at his bar, I told you he wasn’t coming.” “Then we’re going to his bar.” “Oh, no we’re not.” “Why?” “I invited him to come, he didn’t want to and so I’m not going over there. He had his chance to see me tonight and he didn’t take it.” “Are you ashamed of him?” “WHAT?” I was floored when she asked this. I was so far from ashamed of The Nurse. I wanted to run around with him next to me and tell random strangers on the street, “This is The Nurse and he is my boyfriend and he’s a really good kisser.” “Well, are you ashamed of us?” “No, babe, I’m just unsure of our relationship and I’m not ready to bombard him with everyone right now.” And then she went on a tirade about how she never came in town (not totally true) and she was never going to get to meet him and it was unfair. And she tried to grab my phone and send him a text message, saying that she’d explain that it was her and asking if we could meet up with him. “No. Absolutely not.” I tucked my phone in my clutch and set it on my lap. “He’ll think it is cute!” “No, he won’t. He’ll think it is neurotic and weird and we are not doing it. Men do not think that stuff like that is cute.” I shot Prom Date a glance and he nodded in agreement. “We used to do stuff like that back in the day!” “And none of our relationships have ever worked out before.” She was silent. We left several hours later after I was cornered by a man with the hugest ears in the world who talked my normal-sized ears off about school and work and whatever else interested him. He asked for a business card and I apologized for not having one and breathed a sigh of relief when he left. I gathered The Lawyer up and got her to the car. And she slurred the whole way home about not getting to meet The Nurse. And I called him to tell him goodnight and she was yelling in the background about him coming over. “So, what are you doing now?” he asked. “Putting my extremely drunk friend to bed,” I said. “Wanna watch a movie?” “Um, no movie tonight.” And The Lawyer started yelling, “Movie! Watch a movie!” I finally got her home and she put on her pajamas and ate her leftovers from dinner. We talked while snacking and somehow the conversation took a turn back to how upset she was that she hadn’t met The Nurse. “I’m sorry, it just wasn’t the right time,” I said. “Well, I had to hear about him all night, at least you could have introduced us,” she said, with a hint of venom to her voice. I rolled my eyes and went into the bathroom to change into my pajamas. When I came out, she was asleep on the couch. And I didn’t know it then, but she would be gone before I woke up the next morning. It took me awhile to get to sleep that night. I kept thinking about what she’d said. Had I talked about him that much? Had I been unreasonable? Had I acted any different than any of my other friends would act if they were in the midst of a fledgling courtship? Why did she seem so angry about this guy I was clearly starting to adore? I didn’t get the answers just then, but I felt better about it all by the time the sun started peeking through my shades the next morning.
There was a time when I used to get all excited about my new matches from online dating. I’d get the little “potential matches” e-mails and think, “Oh! New guys! Yay!” Now, not so much. My thrice weekly match.com e-mail of potential matches recommends that I could "match" with the following people:
- A guy I went to elementary school with, not to be confused with any of the other guys I went to school with that it has tried to set me up with.
- The Nurse, which is nice, because it's good to know that Match thinks I'm compatible with a guy I'm dating.
- A guy who has a screenname that indicates that he is a "nuclear" provider of oral pleasure for women. (Seriously.)
- A man who is, no lie, dressed in a tux with no shoes and is standing with one foot on the ground and one propped up really high on the arm of a couch. (Really? That's the BEST picture you have?) Also, he doesn't want kids, which is not in line with my preferences at all. (Even when I SAY what I want I don’t get it!)
I was snuggled in bed the other night when a text message from a high school buddy (My Prom Date, actually) invited me to come have a drink. He's recently moved back to town and it seemed like a good idea and he was at a nearby bar and I figured what the hell. I slid back into my wrap dress from work that day – minus the camisole that made it work appropriate. In 10 minutes I was out of the house and heading to the bar for a Cosmo with Absolut and good company.
I found my friend and joined him in a slouchy leather couch and immediately saw a good friend's ex-husband sitting across the way. He had to have seen me and my friend and it was made worse by the fact that both of us were in the wedding. The ex-groom unites with his ex bridesmaid and ex groomsman? Classic.
I procured a Cosmo and settled in to catch up with Prom Date, who is looking for a job and generally enjoying his first few days back in town. He's sweet and when I was 16 I was so sure he liked me oh so much. (He didn't.) But there's no chemistry at all and we just get along really well and it is nice to have him back from
In the middle of out nice conversation, I noticed a group of people enter and gather nearby our couch. And one of them looked oh-so-familiar. It was The Crier, with his friends.
Of course he rushed over to say hello and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek and started talking nonstop about how his divorce was final Monday and he was closing on his townhouse on Thursday and he's been so busy and he misses talking to me. And then he invited me to join their group in the next room for a birthday celebration and I politely declined.
I settled back into the couch and Prom Date was like, "Who is that guy?" And before I could tell him the story, The Crier was dragging a friend over to meet me. I stood up and shook hands and smiled.
I sat down on the couch again, slightly annoyed because I really just wanted to drink my Cosmo with my pal and talk about stuff. And I finally got a chance to tell Prom Date about The Crier and seeing the movie. Prom Date interrupted me.
“Wasn’t that movie a comedy?”
“Yes, but that really isn’t the point.”
“Well, that guy OBVIOUSLY likes you.”
“Yes, really. Obviously. Totally.”
I giggled uncomfortably and we continued our conversation.
Then, Prom Date giggled as a man walked by. I raised an eyebrow.
“That’s your friend,” he said.
The Blackberry actually knows Prom Date and was there the first night we met. And after the messaging and finding me on MySpace and trying to get me to come out, The Blackberry never actually met me for a date and it kind of fizzled. And he sat at the bar near our couch and didn’t come over and say hello. He just drank a lone glass of red wine and played with his Blackberry.
“Are you going to go over there?”
“Um, no, he never asked me out. He e-mailed me and found me on MySpace and we chatted, but he never went as far as asking me out and he could come say hello now and I’m not running over there. Plus, I’m kind of dating someone. Not, like, exclusively or officially or anything. But, you know, we’re seeing each other.”
And then I told Prom Date about The Nurse and got all mushy and it was fun.
I ordered another Cosmo and snagged a cigarette from Prom Date. I lit it and took a drag. It tasted not as good as when I share them with The Nurse.
In walked The Crier, with another friend.
“[Charming], this is my college roommate. He’s the birthday boy.”
“Oh, Happy Birthday. Nice to meet you,” I said, standing up for the third time, regretting ever having smiled and waved and hugged him when he came inside. We talked for a few more minutes. I was starting to feel more than slightly uncomfortable with this attention. His friends seemed mildly confused as to why he was introducing me. We went on two dates. Hardly anything to write home about.
He left us alone and I rolled my eyes and settled back into the couch.
I tried to determine if The Blackberry had noticed me. There was no way that he hadn’t. Had he not recognized me? My hair was back, but surely he saw me with a mutual acquaintance.
We rambled on and I labored over my second Cosmo, just enjoying hanging out with Prom Date and not being at work and getting to relax and have a good time.
And then The Crier and company came in. They were leaving. So, of course, he had to come tell me goodbye. And talk to me. For the fourth time that night. (That’s TWO times for each date we went on!)
He gave me a hug and kept an arm around my waist, promised to check in with me (yay, right?), told me how great I looked and how glad he was to see me and how he missed talking to me and how happy he was to be divorced.
I smiled and nodded a lot. I waited for him to leave the bar and collapsed (in a very ladylike way) on the couch next to Prom Date.
“What did I do to deserve to have this guy that I don’t even like fall all over me like that? I mean, really. Who did I piss off?”
He just laughed.
We finished our drinks and decided that it was probably better to sleep than for me to have a third Cosmo. As I headed out, I put my shoulders back, smiled and walked past the bar where The Blackberry was, wondering if he’d check me out.
Sunday morning, er, early afternoon, after being up much, much too late with The Nurse on Saturday night, we finally managed to pry ourselves from sleep, only to hear the rain coming down hard against the window in my room.
A rainy Sunday. The best kind.
He suggested that we watch a movie and we decided on "Rent," which amused me, since most guys I've dated would rather die than watch a musical. We propped up against the pillows and watched and I tried not to sing along too much, seeing as I know all of the songs from the movie version.
I love "Rent." It is one of those movies that I imagine will always make me cry, like "Steel Magnolias" when Sally Field is in the cemetery and she starts screaming, "I could run from here to Texas and back. But my daughter can't! She NEVER COULD." Or when Maggie reads that ee cummings poem in "In Her Shoes." Or when Carrie and Aidan break up at Charlotte's wedding in Season Three of "Sex and the City."
I'm girlie girl and a sucker for a good tear-jerkin' plotline and when Angel dies in "Rent" and Maureen gets to the part about them being the lucky ones and then Collins sings the reprise of "I'll Cover You," well, I turn into a tear factory.
I am aware of this on Sunday morning and I'm trying to keep it all in check, but of course I feel the tears coming on. And I'm trying not to sniffle, because I feel like it is a bit too early in my nonrelationship for blatant displays of emotion and that I've recently dumped a guy for crying during a movie – although that was arguably different. I tried to slyly wipe my eye.
The Nurse noticed and stretched out an arm around me.
"Come here," he said, and he pulled me into the crook of his body and my head rested on his chest. And I tried not to cry too hard for poor Angel and the Rent family, which of course, is impossible as Collins booms in his deep voice the song that just months before spoke to his and Angel's blossoming love.
It felt nice, like I could stay bundled up in his arms all day. Like something a couple would do. Like what I' ve been wanting. Like maybe I've been overreacting to the things he does that annoy me, like his tendency to not plan in advance.
After the movie, we decided to eat lunch and then he headed back to my bed. It was still raining and I was feeling like putting the afternoon to good use, so I crawled on top of him and tried to take away the remote.
"Oh! Rambo is on!" he said, glimpsing around my head.
"What?" I leaned in closer to him.
I stared at him blankly and attempted to wrangle the remote from his grasp.
"You can't honestly want to watch 'Rambo' right now," I said, pressing his wrist against the pillows and heading for his neck.
"Hey, seriously, 'Rambo' is on," he said, and in one swift motion he grabbed me by the hips and set me beside him on the bed.
At that moment, I hated and Sylvester Stallone and Brian Dennehy and Green Berets and the Vietnam War and trees and Rocky (just for good measure) and testosterone and boxing and guns and helicopters and dirt and rocks and remote controls and anything and everything even loosely associated with "Rambo" for ruining my perfect Rainy Sunday. I fumed silently and eventually took a nap, telling The Nurse grumpily to "wake me up when Rambo dies." And he laughed, because apparently, Rambo survives to make a sequel. (But not because anyone asked me for my opinion as to what should happen to him.)
As I drifted back to sleep next to The Nurse, who was enthralled with the movie, I started to get a feeling in my stomach – if he's stealing the remote and passing on afternoon lovin', then maybe we are becoming a couple.
I know I’ve been online dating, which is really just dating en masse. But really, I just wanted to go out with some guys until I found a nice one to actually date. I never wanted to be with several men at once. I’m a terrible juggler and really disorganized. And maybe I won’t be dating a lot of people at once. Maybe The Nurse will call me up tomorrow and announce that he wants to just date me. Maybe he’ll never call again. Either way, I just winked at five boys and e-mailed another five. Am I being silly and passive aggressive by looking for guys to go out with instead of just asking The Nurse what the hell is wrong with him? Maybe. So why am I doing it? Because he thinks I’m dating other men anyway. Because if he can go out with multiple women, then I can go out with multiple men. Because I don’t want to wake up in two months and realize that I’m being strung along by a guy who is never going to only date one woman. Because I deserve a guy who only wants to date me. Because I want to have someone to kiss on New Year’s this year. Because I’m scared I’m falling for him. Because I’ll need someone to keep me warm in a few months. Because these boots were made for walking. Because I would be a fabulous girlfriend. Because there are so many love songs to dance to. Because I don’t need a reason. Because I’m too fun to stay at home alone. Because this woman waits for no man. Because I forgot how much fun it was to hold hands. Because my ovaries want me to. Because I have a little black dress that’s begging to be worn. Because I can.
So, I told my parents that I was seeing The Nurse. It wasn’t because I have any idea where this relationship is going after almost a month of dating. It was mostly because I couldn’t come to a family dinner because I was going out with him. And partially because they act as if I am a lost cause – a spinster, a permanent singleton, a future hermit shut in cat lady. I wanted them to know that I am not totally hopeless. That I do interact with guys and that men like me and that – gasp! – I do sometimes have a date on a Saturday night and I can’t come to dinner. That I am hot stuff! So far from Spinsterhood! So! Far! Their reaction left a little to be desired. “A date?” My Mother repeated loudly into the phone in that tone that you’d use if someone, say, announced that they were joining the circus or something. “Where did you meet this date?” In the background, I could hear shuffling and noise like a herd of people running to the phone. And my Father echoed her sentiments, “[Charming] has a date?” It was only mildy humiliating. And the humiliation only got worse the next day when I visited them for lunch. I barely made it into the door and my Father came over to me. As I took a seat at the kitchen table, he put on arm on my shoulder and said, quite patronizingly, “Don’t worry, I don’t think meeting someone on Match.com is weird. I know they all think using a Web site to find a date is weird, but I don’t.” He motioned to my Mother and my Brother, who were anxiously awaiting the details of my dating life so that they could pick it apart. You would have thought they’d never spoken to a single woman in her mid-20s before, which is odd, since I am their daughter. Like this “Online Dating” thing was something I made up for all of the other Trekkies and Star Wars fans. “You’ve been out with several of these guys?” Mother asked nervously, like I was letting rapists and serial killers into my home. “You, like, let them drive you places?” Mom expressed concern for my safety. I felt as if she was judging me for turning to personal ads and I knew that she’d probably told my aunts about this and was considering how she’d tell my grandmother and that soon my chatty, judgmental Catholic family would be buzzing about my dating life and how I met a man on the “Internets,” with that hushed tone of voice that Southern Catholic women save for the really juicy gossip, like when the couple down the street gets divorced because he was sleeping with his secretary or when So-and-So’s kid doesn’t get into Fancy Catholic Private School because she is a behavior problem. And that if I did stop seeing The Nurse, they’d want to know if I’d still be on Match.com. I answered the basic questions – where he is from, what he does, what he looks like, why I liked him. “Is he nice?” Mom asked. “No, Mom, he’s a total jerk and I hate spending time with him,” I sniped. “What didn’t you tell us about him sooner?” “Because it’s a casual thing. We’re just dating and I didn’t want it to be this BIG THING.” My Brother, who at 24 has a live-in girlfriend he’s been dating since he was 18, was less kind in his questions. “So, is this guy, like, damaged goods?” he asked from across the table. I almost choked on the air I breathed in. “Damaged goods? Like, how?” “Well, he’s 30 and he doesn’t have a woman.” “I’m 26 and I don’t have a man, does that make ME damaged goods?” I crossed my legs and folded my arms across my chest and gave him the Oldest Child Staredown, just daring him to answer. He changed the subject. “So, when do we get to meet this guy?” he asked. “I gotta meet this guy.” I threw my hands up in the air. “This is exactly why I didn’t tell you I was kind of casually seeing someone,” I said. “Why?” asked my mom. “Because of this questioning! And wanting to meet him! This is like the Spanish Inquisition,” I said. “Only, without the killing me after questioning.”