So, this New Year’s was supposed to be a couple of friends at my place. Snacks, drinks and a late-night trip to the little cigar bar across the street. Simple, relaxing, low key. Gone are the years of big house parties, renting out the back room of a bar, going out of town. Big New Years plans always end up causing too much stress – where are we going to stay, how much will it cost, what will I wear, who will drive us home, etc. “People who make huge plans for the New Year are really partying amateurs,” College Roommate informed me. “We don’t need to have some big to-do for New Year’s Eve because we are partying all-stars.” I’d agreed enthusiastically. Perhaps we were both covering up for our subpar plans. Me, drinking with a few people in the bar where I always go. Her, hitting bed early because she had to be up at the crack of dawn to drive to go see her boyfriend’s college football team play in some lame bowl game. (Our college plays in an ACTUAL bowl next week, thankyouverymuch.) I turned down an offer to go to New Orleans for a party that sounded like fun. I didn’t have a place to stay, wasn’t going to pay for a hotel room and was less than thrilled by the prospect of being anywhere near the French Quarter on New Year’s Eve. The last time I did that was several years ago and the guys we were with ended up getting in a fight with some guys from New York as we walked down Canal Street to the Quarter. I remember they were from New York because College Roommate had yelled, quite drunkenly, “I am from NEW ORLEANS. Why don’t you go back to BROOKLYN where you belong!” And I thought this was pretty funny because while my dear friend was from the general vicinity of New Orleans, she definitely didn’t live within the city limits. (Which I guess is splitting hairs when you’ve consumed countless cups of daiquiri, purchased in “milk jug” size for the occasion, while preparing to go out, so we let her slide.) And then the cops showed up and I remember crying for the purely selfish reason that if these guys got arrested, it was going to be me and my drunken belligerent friends wandering the city streets alone without a ride, unable to return to the suburbs where we were sleeping that night because I simply didn’t know the address of the apartment complex, so we wouldn’t even have been able to hail a damn cab. I love New Orleans, but I get lost almost every time I go. I have a terrible sense of direction and I don’t know the city well at all – I once led an expedition of revelers five blocks the wrong way down Canal because I didn’t pay attention to the fact that cross streets changed names – Bourbon becomes Carondelet, Royal becomes St. Charles. Alas, on that New Year’s Eve many years ago, the guys were able to slip out of the cops’ sight, grabbing us and pulling us down a side street and away from the action. “Outta mind, outta sight,” one guy, another friend’s older brother, told me as he patted a little bit of blood off of the side of his face. I nodded and wiped my eyes. I was 22. I’d seen my share of bar fights, but this was my first walking-to-the-bar fight. After some bar hopping and ridiculously overpriced drinks, we ended up at someone’s house in God-knows-where. (I thought we were on the West Bank, but each of my girlfriends has a different opinion as to where we actually were come 3 a.m.) I have a sneaking suspicion that our male tour guides insisted we go to this house to buy drugs – because no one offered us any drinks when we got there, which is pretty much unheard of for the Big Easy, and because we didn’t stay that long. After the hellacious hangover that I’d tried to stave off by drinking mint juleps the next morning with my Dad at Pat O’Briens before we went to a football game, I swore off New Orleans for New Year’s Eve and I’ve stayed closer to home. Since my overnight house guest just cancelled and it is looking like it is going to be a much smaller affair chez moi tonight, I’m thinking I don’t need to go buy more wine and chips at the store, as I planned. I also probably shouldn’t bake the brownies I’d planned to share with my guests. But I will. Just in case there is an early morning brownie-related emergency to which I need to attend.
The end of another year has turned my thoughts to what I have achieved in the past 12 months and what I haven’t. I have gotten a better job. I have become friends with my parents. I kept my New Year’s Workout Resolution for three whole months. I’ve grown up considerably, even though I still have moments of panic, like on Christmas Eve when I realized I left my spare casserole dish at the office potluck and didn’t have anything to contain the Christmas Morning Breakfast Strata and called my mom freaking out and later flipped out while I was wrapping gifts because they looked so ugly and you would think that I would be GOOD at gift wrapping because everyone else in my family is and I am so talented at so many things, like falling down in high heels, spilling things and, to a lesser extent, dating. Dating. Oh, have I dated. I was hoping 2006 would be THE year. You know, the year where I fell blissfully in love over romantic candlelit dinners, afternoon picnics and evenings at home cooking and had a date for weddings and parties and Saturday nights and got flowers on my birthday and had someone other than my brother for whom I could buy comfy sweaters that I would later steal and wear because they smell so much like a man I loved. (I love my brother. I won’t be stealing his sweaters because that’s kind of creepy and he has a girlfriend to do that.) Not so much. I did, however, find a surge of confidence in the Spring and decided to get out there and online date – which has proven to be every bit as scary as I thought it would be. But it has also been fun. And as much as I complain about it, I will probably continue on for a few more months at least and take advantage of the confidence boosting effects of my New Year’s Resolution workout plan. (Finally putting that gym membership to good use!) But I’ll probably be switching to Yahoo! Personals when my Match.com subscription runs out in January. Maybe. And I did learn a lot of about how you can be happy even when you’re alone and how you at times have to buy those flowers for yourself and not rely on other people – especially men – to make you feel sexy and loved and special and beautiful and charming and irresistible. Sometimes. That will be the case this New Year’s Eve, as I seem to have alienated my only chance at a midnight kiss (or after hours fun) for the glorious celebration of the changing year. The whole detailed mess is probably best left between the two of us. I can’t decide if, in the end, I owe him an apology or if he owes me one or if the whole thing is being blown royally out of proportion. Suffice it to say that the correct response to your divorced Man du Jour when he tells a story that ends with, “And that’s the main reason why I’m not married anymore,” is NOT “Well I know one person who is very glad that you’re not married anymore,” followed by a soft kiss on the lips. No matter how cute you are. No matter how drunk you are. No matter how low-cut your dress is. No matter how sexy you look in those shoes. Just, you know, for future reference, in case you ever find yourself in that situation after a night of too many cosmos with one of your girlfriends while she downs something on the rocks and laments the parting of her boyfriend of six weeks (She really felt like he was the one, y’all!) and you decide that a late-night visit to your Man Candy’s house is, like, totally the best way to occupy the hours between closing time and hangoversville.
So, my "Romantic Daily Horoscope" from today says the following:
Astral influences indicate that love and abundance are coming your way, but you have to clearly visualize the bounty. It's your job to figure out how to improve your life using your vast store of inner resources.I'm sorry, I can't move on to figuring out how to tap my inner resources to improve my life. I'm too busy clearly visualizing every sweaty moment of the hot, juicy bounty of sexy, tall, cuddly man love that I'd like to come my way. Look, the horoscope said I had to VISUALIZE these things! And WHO am I to argue with MY HOROSCOPE? So tonight's birthday celebration? Could be looking up.
As of today, I am no longer in my mid-20s. I’m in my late 20s. I’m almost 30. Twenty-seven used to be my “scary” age. The age when I was starting to get old. I don't have words of wisdom. I should HAVE some words of wisdom by now. Aw, hell.
For some crazy reason, I want to read chick lit this holiday season. First on my list is BreakupBabe, which I bought months ago and never read, not because I didn't want to read it, but because I haven't really had the time. Then I could sift through all of the publicist-gifted books I get. "Dating Up" or "How to avoid marrying a Jerk," to name a few. (Seriously, Publishing Publicists, I love the free books. I do. Keep on keeping on. But don't fashion publicists want to help a sister out? Maybe some cute shoes like these or a Hobo International clutch in, say, Ocean? Didn't I once call "Envy Me" by Gucci the official scent of this blog? I also like the new Burberry scent! Free online dating? Don't you people want to use me for something other than book reviews that I sometimes don't even write? No? Just books?) Leave book suggestions in the comments. Remember, I’ve never brought myself to read an entire Shopaholic book. But I did like Bridget Jones.
Sunday afternoon I saw “The Holiday.” I happen to love seeing matinee movies alone with a big diet coke and candy, which I bring in my large purses, naturally. I get there early, pick out a good seat – high and in the middle. As the previews began, it was obvious to me that there was a projection error. There was a two-foot black stripe at the bottom of the screen and the actors’ heads were cut off at the top. I am not one to settle for a subpar movie experience. Theatres cannot always control their patrons. People will talk. Cell phones will ring. But they can definitely fix projection issues. So I abandoned my good seat, gathered my purse and diet coke and headed to the lobby to find a staff member. A theatre manager quickly agreed to have the project fixed. By the time I got back to the theatre, the film had been corrected so that it projected correctly. Fantastic. Not wanting to disturb my fellow moviegoers, I hunted for a row with several empty seats on the end. And as I found one, I missed a step and fell face first into the row. My drink splashed on me. My purse flew open. I was in a denim skirt, so I bashed my knees against the hard floor and I felt a breeze on my bottom. The theatre was dark, but everyone around me saw and the women around me gasped and jumped up to offer assistance. I was mortified. It was all I could do to reach under seats to put my belongings back in my purse and slouch in a seat so that I could examine my knees and assure everyone I was okay. Cheeks burning, I swigged from the diet coke that hadn’t spilled on me and slumped in my seat, hoping that the start of the movie would distract from my faceplant on the dirty movie theatre floor. The Holiday was good. Not spectacular, but entertaining.. It had all of the elements of a good romantic comedy – beautiful women finding their way in a cruel world, montages of budding romances, idyllic settings, charming male leads, great clothes, predictable plot. Exactly what I wanted. It won’t be a spoiler for me to say that one woman makes movie trailers. Needless to say, this is sort of a running theme, as she has a few flashes of what the movie trailer of her life would look like. This, of course, started me thinking about what the booming voice in a movie trailer would say if narrating the trailer to my little life.
“[Charming] grew up with in a typical Southern family …” [Cut to footage of 23-person family dinners.] “… surrounded by opinionated women …” [Cue shots of gossipy Southern ladies] “… who married young and raised children …” [Montage of cousins running through the house] “But when [Charming] was 17, she laid out a life plan ...” [Cut to footage of our young heroine telling the other girls at the lunch table, “I’m not going to be one of those woman who gets married and has babies young just because! I’ll wait until I’m 25 before I settle down! And then I’ll have my kids in my late twenties.”] “ … ten years later, [Charming]’s finding out that the best laid plans of Southern girls …” [Cue montage of clicking down the street in heels with coffee in hand, chatting on a cell phone, “It’s a date!”] “ … often go awry …” [Montage of falling on her face; hissing into her cell phone, “my date is CRYING about his ex wife!” and announcing “I’m going to be the ONLY single bridesmaid in the wedding!”] “ … This Spring, follow one woman as she tries to get herself back on track …” [Cue clips [Charming] making to do lists, going to the gym, smiling at men, with voiceover, “This will be the year that I get it all together.”] “… and finds that sometimes straying off course …” [Cut to [Charming] covering face and moaning to friends, “I was supposed to be married by now!”] “ … brings you where you need to be.” [Cue powerful chick lit pop music and scenes of dancing, kissing hot men, fabulous shoes]I swear. I am too cheesy for words.
A few nights ago I was sitting in the cigar bar with Prom Date, after having been out to two bars after work with co-workers. I spied The Blackberry across the bar. He was talking with a Tall Man and it took me a few minutes to realize that they were looking at me pointedly. The Blackberry came over. “What did you and your friend have to say about me?” I asked The Blackberry “Oh, he wants to f—k you.” I almost choked on a sip of Merlot. I dismissed him as being silly. But then the Tall Man came up behind The Blackberry and mouthed, “I want you.” I raised an eyebrow. “I want you,” he mouthed again and motioned to the bathroom. I grimaced and shook my head. They walked off and I died laughing, “Do I look like the woman who has sex in the bathroom of a bar?” A few minutes later, The Blackberry was back. “You should thank me. I got that guy to go away.” “Oh. Really?” “Yes, I told him you were my girl.”
So, say you were shopping for your younger (24) brother's girlfriend and (probable) future fiancée. And you need a present that says, "I'm sorry my brother is a dirty hippie who would rather wear Birkenstocks and an old Phish T-shirt than get dressed up and shave and take you out to dinner, but I really do like you and hope that you marry him some day because even though you are very different people, you complement each other very well and he is always so happy to be with you and we all know that he is a very sweet man and will be a good father one day and I swear I am going to be very happy on the INSIDE when you tie the knot, even though on the OUTSIDE I'll be sitting in the corner of the reception mumbling into a champagne glass about being an Old Maid without a date to my own little brother's wedding. Oh, also, Merry Christmas."
Note: I have previously given her a gift basket of relaxation and beauty products and a scent diffuser ( like this one, but more expensive) and various members of my family throughout the years have gifted many picture frames and journals and candle sets.
Also, I've got a long shopping list. Less than $50. (And $50 could be pushing it.)
Welcome Glamour.com readers and much thanks to Alyssa Shelasky for the shout out on her blog See Alyssa Date on Glamour’s Web site. I was shocked – shocked – to see 400 to 500 extra readers today. Go visit Alyssa’s blog, where you can vote on her every dating move, and tell her that being evil makes for better blogging.
After I left the show at the dive bar, I headed over to my regular cigar bar for a glass of red with Prom Date. I'd planned to do this all along – my other friends aren't night owls as I am. While they turned into pumpkins at midnight, I was still looking for some fun.
As previously discussed, I looked cute – sheerish wrap top over a camisole, jeans, pointy heels and smooth hair, thanks to the bitter cold that scared away the humidity. I didn't check my cell for texts before heading into the cigar bar, so I had no idea that The Blackberry had been asking for me. (Until I later checked my phone and saw a cautionary text from Prom Date. Too late. I was already in the bar.)
"Well there she is," The Blackberry commented as I walked in. I was mildly horrified that the only barstool left was next to him.
"And she sits next to me."
I rolled my eyes and ordered a Merlot. The Blackberry immediately started his pursuit in full force – complimenting me, doling out mild insults immediately followed by "I'm kidding! Just kidding, baby!"
I was having none of it and tried to maintain the cold exterior I keep up so well when he is around. The best offense is a good defense, especially when you're dealing with a terribly offensive guy who will stop at nothing to bed you and any other woman in a skirt who walks into the bar.
The Blackberry made a point to speak of text messages from another woman who needed a ride home – joking that she needed more than just "a ride in my car, if you know what I mean." He was clearly trying to bait me into showing some jealousy, though it clearly wasn't working. As I clicked through some late-night e-mails on my blackberry, The Blackberry complained that I never texted him.
"I don't have your number."
"I'm only going to tell it to you one time," he said, and then told me his number. I responded by sliding my blackberry and cell phone back into my purse.
"What was that?" I teased.
He repeated himself. Realizing that I wasn't taking the number down, he showed me that he had me in his blackberry – but only the address I use for junk mail and online personals.
"See, I have your information."
"You also have my blackberry number and e-mail address," I informed him. "So, no, I don't feel bad about not texting you. You've had my number for months. Because there is a process."
He paid his tab and leaned over so that only I could hear him. In the lowest of voices, he made his final serious plea.
"You know you want to come home with me."
"You do, I know you do. You want me."
"You just live across the street."
Defeated, he stood up and announced that he was going to pick up the woman who'd been begging for a ride home. He made reference to a local figure, a notorious playboy, and said, "You know why he got a lot of women? Because he didn't let rejection get him down. Nine out of 10 women may say no. But one will say yes."
He paused as he stood up and walked over to shake hands with Prom Date.
"The law of averages," he said, looking at me.
And then he walked back over to me.
"You were giving me this look like you were upset that I didn't kiss you goodbye," he said.
I rolled my eyes and turned my cheek, denying him a kiss on the lips. He wrapped an arm around me for a hug, but I looked forward and did not acknowledge it.
As he left, his friend said, "You do realize that he just called you a statistic, right?"
"And that was a pretty good line about needing to give you a goodbye kiss," his friend said. "It caught you off guard and you didn't have time to protest."
At this point, the female bartender had to step in.
"Oh please, that is a terrible line," she said, rolling her eyes. "Notice that she didn't jump up and go home with him."
"Amen, sister," I said as I leaned over the bar to give her a high five.
"That guy, sitting behind you, is cute," I told my married friend. We'd settled into a table and in the group sitting nearby was a guy I'd spotted at the crowded bar earlier. He was most decidedly my physical type, which is so certain that my friends could point to the men I'm checking out at any given moment in any given situation. He was tall, broad-shouldered and stocky with dark hair.
She glanced over her shoulder and spied an older man. I shook my head no and talked her through the crowd until her gaze landed on the gentleman of the hour.
She nodded in agreement as I straightened up in my chair and coyly played with a section of my hair, trying to casually make eye contact and draw his attention.
A few minutes into this game of me silently willing him to notice me — a technique that I have much hope for, though it has been largely unsuccessful thus far — he stood up and left his table. As he walked by, my friend's husband leaned over to me and interrupted my thoughts, which at this point consisted of if I could trip this guy and make it look like an accident so that he would notice me and fall madly in love.
"See that guy walking by?"
"Yes …" I answered, planning to continue with, "Isn't he hot!"
My friend's husband interrupted me, "That guy, he is a total ASS."
I slumped back into my seat and shook my head, my dreams of innocent injury causing love halted by cruel reality.
"Of course he is."
“Well, THAT was an experience,” the Older Woman said as she exited the stall in the subpar restroom facilities of the dive bar where I was Friday night. For some crazy reason, a singer of Rat Pack-style music that we adore plays his yearly Christmas show at this hole-in-the-wall joint. The show attracts an odd mix of revelers – groups of people in their mid 20s, couples in their thirties and forties and gray-haired folks who like to relive their past days by dancing circles around us young whippersnappers. “Yes, the restrooms leave something to be desired,” I said, as I ran my fingers through my hair. “Well, I guess I can’t complain. I’m 65. Back in the day we went into the mens’ room in bars because the line was shorter.” “I wouldn’t recommend that now. A lot of bars only have troughs,” I said, smiling. “Really!” “Yes.” “May I ask how old you are?” “Almost 27,” I said. I had moved from hair to lipstick. “Honey, I have two children, 32 and 19. I’ve lived all of the stages of your lives.” “It only gets better, right?” “Oh yeah, honey, it only gets better,” she said, a grin spreading across her face. She didn’t look many days over 50. She was wearing plum denim slacks and a tan jacket and her hair showed no gray. I straightened the straps of the camisole that peaked out from under my wrap-style top. “That’s a very nice shirt,” she said. “It looks pretty on you.” “Thank you,” I said as I continued my adjustments. “But the camisole doesn’t stay in place and then it dips down too low.” “Well, honey, that’s because oh … you know …” she trailed off as she motioned to her chest. “And as someone who never really had much in that department, I must say, they are nice,” she continued. I was floored. I managed to stammer a “thank you” before heading out of the door. I sat down at my table and turned to my friends. “A 65-year-old woman in the bathroom just told me I have a nice rack,” I announced to my friends, who were equally floored that a stranger would compliment my breasts in the womens’ restroom. “Did she use those exact words?” A friend’s husband asked. “Not those words exactly. But close enough.” I said. “On the bright side, at least if I got hit on by someone tonight.”
On Saturday night, after my social plans fell through and I’d watched my fill of football and grumbled about different BCS scenarios, I had considerable time to myself to think about my current dating status. (I was a pensive mood, not in a “woe is single me for being home alone on a Saturday night” mood, because, truthfully, a belly full of gumbo and beer makes cuddling under blankets on a cold and windy Saturday night that much nicer.) Things with On Paper, well, are disappointing. And I think this is because I we have varying expectations. This is completely my fault – he wanted to date me back in June and I freaked out about his pending divorce and broke things off after a bad experience with him. And then I remembered how much he liked me when I saw him out one night and text messaged him late one evening after being rebuffed by The Nurse. (And while we’re talking about The Nurse, I got an instant message from him the other day that said, “Want to find your match? Visit this site” and gave some URL. Before I could think twice, I’d responded with an “Excuse me?” because the fact that he'd send me THAT message or all messages made my blood boil. It took me about a minute to realize it was IM spam and that he must’ve had a virus. This whole experience confirmed my suspicions that when he decided he didn’t want to see me anymore, he blocked me on his friends list so I couldn’t see when he was online, which makes him the least mature person I’ve ever dated as an adult.) But back to On Paper. Since that fateful night where we met for a late night drink and then went back to his place under the guise of watching a movie, I have hung out with him twice. Once we met up for a drink and nightcap and then two weeks ago we went on an actual date – a movie, James Bond – and I had a really good time. And so when he called to apologize for not calling and we discussed hanging out this weekend, I’d assumed he wanted to move back to the dating track. And despite some concerns of my own, I was ready to do this as well. Which brings me back to being alone on Saturday night when he rebuffed my suggestion that we get a drink because he had to clean his house for company the next day. And it was like someone let the air out of my tires – a man opted for chores over Charming? Not good for my self-esteem. Of course I understand why he would think I was only interested in seeing him casually. Until recently I couldn’t see him as much more than a late-night phone call. But something made me want to give it a go, perhaps because he’s so polite and can be the perfect date. He even won me a teddy bear from one of those claw vending machines. Seriously. A teddy bear. That is so cute I that I think I might vomit.
You’ll notice that I removed the NaNoWriMo button. I didn’t finish. I think I wrote 2,000 words. I couldn’t focus. I obviously wasn’t ready to commit to that much writing. Congrats to those who were.
I was pleasantly surprised to have a message from On Paper* last night. He was genuinely apologetic for not returning a text message I sent last week. (We'd gone on a movie date two weekends ago.)
I returned his call and we had a quick conversation where he apologized again for not calling – "It was sweet of you to call and I was in a grumpy mood so I didn't call back. I'm sorry."
We didn't make formal plans for the weekend, but we did talk about possibly hanging out. I just want to do something low-key, and I'm thinking of suggesting a movie in, away from the cold and the wind.
I relayed this via e-mail to College Roommate this morning.
"Don't let him off so easily," she warned. "How convenient that he calls right before the weekend."
* On Paper = the man formerly known as The Crier.