~Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Miracles

Text message received Friday, December 24th at 10:05 p.m.:

Miss me? I kinda miss you.

I heard my phone chime. I was sitting in the kitchen of my childhood home with a couple of canvases in front of me. Last minute Christmas presents. I put my paint brush down and wiped my bangs from my eyes.

It's from Valdosta.

Valdosta had kept his word that he would call me and bug me while he was out of town. He had left me the sweetest message wishing me luck at my dodgeball games and what to do if/when I get injured again. In the voicemail he had uninhibitedly laughed at a couple of his own jokes. I had been re-listening to the voicemail periodically just to hear that laugh. He says that I have the greatest laugh, but his isn't bad either.

Smugly I called out to my mom in the other room, "Valdosta misses me!"

"Aww, that's nice," she said sincerely.

I typed back, Kinda? LOL. I miss you.

Valdosta was four hours away in the southern part of the state with his family. His plans were to then drive North to visit more family. He decided to make a pit stop in the city on Christmas night to see me.


This is what dating should be. It should be like this.

"He misses me so much he's going to come back and see me tomorrow," I hollered from the kitchen.

"Wow," she said. Even my mom isn't used to that kind of behavior.

After the I miss yous had been exchanged, Valdosta sent me several well wishings for Christmas. He's coming home to see me. On Christmas day. It's a damn Christmas miracle.


I stomped my wellies and stepped inside Valdosta's apartment. It's snowing outside as heavily as I have ever seen. This is a big deal. Valdosta greeted me with the same silly grin that he gave me that one day at brunch. The I'm-having-thoughts grin.

I put my bag down. Valdosta went into the kitchen to mix us some Christmas whiskey sours. I took a seat on a bar stool. "Now I want to hear all about you missing me. Don't leave out any details please," I chirped.

He laughed and brought me my drink. He started talking; I didn't think he would actually answer.

"It was my first night there. I was lying in bed and wanting to cuddle and you weren't there." Valdosta's silly grin made another appearance. He took a sip of his own drink. "Did you miss me?"

Still seated on the bar stool I opened my knees, allowing him to step closer to me. I pressed my thighs against his hips.

"It could be a Thursday and I could have just seen you on a Tuesday; you don't have to leave the city for me to miss you."

A smile very slowly spread across his face. Whiskey sour kisses were exchanged.

Valdosta looked out his window. Snow was still falling. "Can you believe it?" he said. "It's the first white Christmas the city has had since 1882." It's been 130 years. Another Christmas miracle.

I took a long sip of my drink. "It's the only white Christmas in your lifetime, and you'll always remember it was spent with me," I said.

He kissed me again. The power of suggestion is strong. And now he'll always remember it that way. "Let's get back to missing me," I teased. "Was it you missed me kinda? Or you kinda missed me all the way?"

"I kinda missed you all the way."

~Thursday, December 23, 2010

Skating By

On the way to the ice skating rink, Valdosta brought up GM.

"I was cool with everything, but I did not appreciate him calling me Pledge."

I looked ahead at the highway and scratched the back of his head.

"He really was being a dick, wasn't he?" I asked.


We were both thoughtful for a moment. "Has there ever been anything between you two?" he asked.

"There hasn't. There really hasn't. We were close friends this summer and he was my plus one to a lot of things, but it never left the friends zone." I then explained my theory about Jenna and GM and that seemed to placate him.

Val brushed the whole thing off. "I'm cool with it. It was no big deal."

We arrived. He grabbed his hockey skates out of the back of his car. "When was the last time you went ice skating?"

"Uh, 3 years ago?" With S. I expected that to not be a bad answer. We live in the South; we don't ice skate.

Val sputtered. Clearly this was a bad answer. "Are you going to be okay?"

He walked up to the skate rental and just casually asked for skates for me. He tried to get me hockey skates, but I refused. And then the guy just hands me a pair of skates. I looked at Val.

"I spend a lot of money here. They let me skate for free."

"I didn't know you came with perks."

Fresh ice scares me. It's too slick. I stepped out on it and just coasted the first quarter lap while I tried to remember my bearings. Valdosta took this time to show off as he flitted around me in bursts of hockey stops and near misses.

"Can you skate backwards on one foot?" I called out to him. "You know, whoosh whoosh whoosh?"

He spun around and faced me and did the backwards one-skate thing.

"No! You have to go 'Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!'" I called out.

He grinned. "Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!"

With every lap I remembered my childhood at the skating rink. That was the one thing my father would do with me, he would take me ice skating.

Valdosta buzzed by me. "You're pretty good. You're a lot better than the girls on our hockey team."

"I can skate backwards if you hold my hand," I said.

"Then I'll just have to hold your hand." I spun around and he reached out both arms to me. I started digging big C's with my skates. I can do the same things as him, I'm just a lot slower.

He pulled his camera out and took some pictures of me skating. "I wish someone could take a picture of both of us," he said.

I got more comfortable and we chased each other around the rink, darting around the children and the high school sweethearts. We were by far the oldest people skating. At one point, Valdosta stopped dead in front of me. He had been faking me out the whole night, but as I got closer to him, he didn't move. Instead, he lowered his shoulder.

Oh, this is going to happen, I thought.

He braced himself. I trusted him. I crashed into him and he grabbed me and we spun in a quick, tight circle. We did not fall.

As we got off the ice, several parents watching their children stopped Valdosta to tell him how much they enjoyed watching him skate. "I know! He does look good!" I winked at the mothers.

We headed upstairs to the bar that overlooks the adjacent hockey rink and Val ordered us a couple of Molsons. "This is the only place where they taste good," he explained.

We talked about all the childhood mischief we've caused. He lit up at a few of my stories. I'd forgotten that I even have good stories. He brought up his last relationship, was quick to mention that it lasted a couple of years, and why they broke up. He brought up the marriage thing again, but this time it didn't seem to be in such a negative light. There was a lot of overt flirting and a lot of hypothetical future plans made: we nailed down a week for him to come play dodgeball with me, his hockey schedule that's starting back up in a couple of weeks, joining me on one of my group of friends' weekends away, my beach house.

"You come with perks too," he said.

He's heading out of town to be with his family for Christmas, but he told me when he's coming back. "The earliest chance I'm going to get to see you is next Wednesday," he offered. "And I'm going to call and bug you in between."

I think because I was so sure in wanting Valdosta and being at peace it, I'm further ahead of him. I feel about him as if we've known each other longer than three weeks. But I think he's catching up.

~Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Relationship Gun

I pulled out the gun too soon.

Early last week, after we were done dancing to Mumford & Sons, Valdosta and I were lying in bed having some pillow talk all cuddled up together.

"Are you still e-mailing other girls?" I asked.

Valdosta paused. "Kinda," he admitted. "What about you?"


"It's still pretty early on with us."

"I know." I don't think I hid my disappointment very well. It's just that I've dated. I've dated more than anyone I know. I did some math a couple of years ago and I estimated that I've probably dated around 100 people. That's how much I've dated. And I just can't remember the last time I met someone and instantly felt this excited. Normally I go out of the gate trying to talk myself into dating the other person (see: Memphis). But with Valdosta, there is no decision to be made; I know what I want.

Unfortunately Valdosta doesn't know me like this. He doesn't know what a big deal this is for me. And I don't really feel like starting a conversation with him that goes, "So I've been around the block..."

I agree with him. Intellectually I agree that it is too soon to stop dating other people. But emotionally I know what I've found in Valdosta and, dammit, I don't want to share. And to be a total hypocrite, I'm okay with dating other people because I know he's top priority. I just don't want someone else to be his number one.

I guess the silence lasted a little long. Valdosta rolled over and scooped me up in his arms. "Just so you know," he said. "You're the coolest."

I'm hoping that's guy speak for saying that I am top priority as well.

So now I've gone and pulled out the gun. You can't ignore the gun.

After everyone left my party, Valdosta and I sat drunkenly on my couch. My apartment was littered in beer bottles and cups of hunch punch. My coffee table was pushed against the wall. Glow bracelets and boa feathers were scattered on the floor. I couldn't be bothered with any of it.

Valdosta picked up a picture of me from 9 years ago when I was probably 20 pounds lighter. "Who is this you're with?"

"My brother. Incidentally, that picture was taken 2 days after the dentist glued my tooth back on from when I lost it playing hockey. My mom was so pissed. I was hot then," I slurred. I gestured at the side table. "Did you see the rest of my pictures?"

"I'd been looking at them all night." He picked up the one taken 2 summers ago at the beach with my step-family. "You look really good in that one."

"Pshaw, I look fat in that one."

And somehow we transitioned to talking about family. Well I guess I can deduce how that happened. I talked about mine, probably revealing that I have more daddy issues than what is healthy. He talked about his.

His parents are divorced. It's fairly recent. He wasn't living at home when it happened and he was fairly shocked at the development.

"Oh," I said. "So you got to have a whole lifetime with your family."

He sighed. "Sometimes I think they stayed together for me and my sister. It wasn't good. They both made mistakes."

I sucked in my breath, "That was always my dream."


"For my parents to stay together for my brother and me."

He continued to talk. He put his head in his hands and told me the entire scenario of his family. There's a lot of pain there.

"I just don't think I can get married until I figure this all out. I need to sit down and talk with my parents about what happened just so I can understand it. I don't want to make the same mistakes my father made."

All of a sudden, I felt the gun in the room. The relationship gun.

I had always been honest with Valdosta. I told him the very first time that I met him that I was looking for a boyfriend. At the return question, he'd just sort of shrug with an I don't know. I had brought it up that night in his bed and he basically said Go with God and date other people. And now he's talking about marriage and how he's not ready.

And now this part of the conversation is fuzzy, but this is what I think had happened:

Me: "What are your intentions?"
Him: [Shrug] "I don't have any intentions."
Me: Something something
Him: "What are your intentions?"
Me: "I want a boyfriend."
Him: "Why?"
Me: Maybe something about wasting my 20's. "'Cause it's time."
Him: "It should be because it's right for you, not because of your age."
Me: "That's what I meant! It's time for me." Maybe something about being in a good place in my life. Maybe something about having my best year ever.

And end scene because I don't remember what happened after that. We made it to bed and things were good.

We wake up the next morning and promptly chug two Gatorades. I count the bruises on my arms and can't recall how I got them. Hmm. My knees appear to be bruised as well. There's two glow sticks in the bed.

Ice skating is not a possibility. He suggests we go out to breakfast instead. I pick this trendy place up the street.

My blood sugar is so low that I'm shaking at the table. I would punch someone in the face for a mouthful of starch. Valdosta is all grins.

"I was thinking maybe you should come over and have another movie night at my place," he says. He's smiling funny, like he's nervous or up to something.

"Yeah, sure."

"I get to pick the movie this time. What kind of movies do you like?"

"I'll watch anything." FOOD. NOW.

"I'll pick out something I think you'll enjoy."


"I had a really good time last night. You're a good listener. I can't believe I opened up to you like I did."

"Yeah, well I'm sure I rambled on about some things too."

He chuckled. Apparently I did.

The food arrived. My stomach is empty and I wish I could just take the food through an intravenous infusion to get it in my body instead of having to go through the hassle of tasting and chewing. I don't feel well enough to eat, but I know I need to.

He asks me what he should get his mom for Christmas. My brain is so dead that I can't even think of anything beyond, "Cracker Barrel has a nice Christmas selection."

"I'm leaving town on Wednesday, so we need to get together before then."

It takes me two solid seconds to realize that it's Sunday. And then I have to count. "That leaves tomorrow."

"And Tuesday."

"We'll go ice skating. Tomorrow after work?"

I grunted. Omigod, I can't believe I have to work tomorrow. I cannot think.

The outside of the restaurant is lined with bird cages. They are filled the giant parrots. One of them said "hello" as we pass. I stop.

"Hello," I say.

"Hello," says the parrot.



Valdosta grabs my hand. "We should go to the zoo sometime."

"I like the zoo." But what I would really LOVE is to know what the hell changed from last night and this morning.

All I know is if he is spending all of his time with me, he's not going to have any time to date anyone else.

~Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Government Mule vs. Valdosta

After 8 years of working and going to college part time, Swayze finally got his degree. We're all very proud of our last man standing. In honor of his accomplishment, and for our love of theme parties, I threw a party Saturday night.

I called it an Eskimo party and held it on the roof of my building. To be honest, it was the best party I've ever thrown. I made 4 gallons of hunch punch, ordered a ton of pizza, bought enough beer for flip cup, served vodka out of shot glasses made entirely of ice, wrapped up a bunch of whammy white-elephant gifts and plugged in the Wii.

I also invited Valdosta.

I had seen my group of friends the previous night at Government Mule's house where we'd gotten together to play Rock Band. I told them all that he was coming and that I really liked this one, and please let's all be on good behavior. That meant no comments about how much or how many people I date, no comments about the sex story about The Hungarian that I told, and no razzing Valdosta like they had done with Memphis.

"I don't want to make a single mistake with this one," I explained. They conceded. And then they spent the next hour thinking up a nickname for him because we already have a person in our group with the same name as Valdosta.

The party gods blessed my party by having the first four people arrive at exactly the same minute. God bless punctual friends. Valdosta helped me mix the hunch punch and met everyone. He immediately asked everyone if these were the people I play dodgeball with. I think he's intrigued and plans on coming to a game in the next couple of weeks.

"I don't think I could just sit there and watch you get roughed up," he said.

"Oh, you won't be sitting. You'll be playing," I informed him. "I'm going to need you to bring your game face." Being a hockey player, Valdosta is built pretty solidly and would make a good ringer. Maybe then we'll stop getting our asses kicked and I can go to a game and not leave limping.

We headed up to the roof with The Femme Fatale, a sled dog who fit perfectly into my Eskimo party theme. I handed out glow bracelets to help with the lighting. Valdosta chose an orange one in honor of UT, and Government Mule grabbed it out of his hand and threw it over the roof. Harvey's husband grabbed two and stuck them in his wool hat as antennae. We played several rounds of flip cup. My team lost. Schmoozer was on the opposing team and he wasn't kidding when he told me that first day I met him that he was a flip cup champion.

With every glass of hunch punch, Valdosta's nickname kept getting shortened by my friends. Eventually it was shortened down to a single sound. Not even a syllable. He was a good sport about it. He was, until, Government Mule started calling him Pledge.

I know my friends are close knit. I know we don't let in outsiders easily. Schmoozer went through some teasing because he was being let in as a friend. That shouldn't be the same with Valdosta though. Valdosta was coming in as my love interest. That should be a free pass. And it was with everyone but GM.

At one point Valdosta went to stand on my balcony. As he shut the door behind him, GM locked the door.

There was a point in time when Government Mule and I were really close. And there are times presently when we still flirt back and forth. But the friendship line has clearly been drawn: Jenna has developed feelings for him. I'm half-convinced that they are already seeing each other and just won't admit it to the rest of us. Bottom line is, I don't understand why Government Mule would have any investment in teasing Valdosta.

The hunch punch worked. It did the same number on me that it did in Jacksonville. I tried to take a bow and lost my sense of balance and toppled over in my living room. I'm covered in bruises that I don't even know how I earned.

Everyone left; Valdosta stayed behind. He told me several times what a good time he had and how he was glad he came. We had a bit of a drunken heart to heart on the couch (to be written about later). Then we climbed into my bed where I told him I had missed him, which now that I'm sober, I'm horrified that I said that.

"I like having you in my bed," I slurred.

"I like you having me in your bed," he mumbled back. "Let's go ice skating tomorrow."


~Monday, December 20, 2010


Phone call received Thursday at 7:05 p.m.

"Hey." It's Memphis.

"Hey." I still haven't decided what to do about the Memphis situation. The couple of commenters who said to give him another shot seemed to stick with me.

"How was your day?"

I groaned, "Long. I am just now leaving the office." I switched on the windshield wipers. Everywhere else in the country gets snow. We get rain. Humbug.

"I was calling to see if you wanted to get together tonight," he offered.

"No." It came out loud and clear before I had a chance to filter it. "It's just it's been a long day and I'm pissed off from being at work so late, and I really just want to go home, relax and have some me time."

"Well that's the thing," he tried again. "I thought we could just hang out and open a bottle of wine."

"I really can't," I said again. "I have all of these knitting orders to fill before Christmas, so I really need to sit down tonight and work on them."

When my mother went through her second divorce, she found empowerment through reading the same self-help books my therapist had me read. They focused mainly on drawing boundaries and protecting yourself against abusive situations. After she read all of the same books I did, she then read every book on the subject.

"When men say no," she once told me, "It's the end of the conversation. When women say no, it's the beginning of a negotiation." For some reason, I remembered that line as I was driving home in the rain. I had said no clearly, stating that I wanted to be alone. It wasn't good enough for Memphis.

"I see," he said. "You don't have time for wine or me."

My stomach twisted. Negotiation. And now his tactic was to revert back to passive aggression. I also remembered the commenter who advised me to call him out on it.

"Um, there is nothing wrong with spending a night alone," I said slowly.

Memphis began stammering, clearly upset, "I, uh, I mean, I was just giving you a hard time."

I felt bad for making him so uncomfortable. It didn't even matter anymore that it began with him making me feel uncomfortable.

He quickly got off the phone with me. I felt like crap.

~Friday, December 17, 2010

Mumford & Sons

"And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears."
--Mumford & Sons, "After the Storm"

The first time I recognized Mumford & Sons, I was sitting in the passenger seat in Memphis' pickup truck. It was raining and he was lazily driving back to his apartment Uptown.

"Wait. Who is this?" I asked, staring at his radio.

"Mumford & Sons. I think this song is called 'Little Lion Man.'"

"Turn it up. I like it."


The second time I heard the band, I was lying naked atop The Hungarian's bed. As soon as I realized things would never go anywhere with him, I accepted his advances and slept with him. I had yet to meet Valdosta and I still wanted to get my jollies while the opportunity was there.

For awhile I would show up at The Hungarian's doorstep, strip off of my clothes and walk naked up the stairs to his bedroom. I never felt so empowered as I did while he followed me up the stairs.

We'd have sex and listen to music. If either of us smoked, we'd be doing that too because it so perfectly fit the scene. So we were lying naked on his bed and The Hungarian would play me music from his iPad on his Apple TV.

He turned on Mumford & Sons. This time it was "The Cave."

I inhaled sharply. "I love this band."

"I know. It's good."


On my second date with Valdosta, he had the Mumford & Son's album playing while we were driving through town in his car. I had switched it to "The Cave" when I first kissed him in his car.

Because that ended up being the epic 10-hour date as we drive to dinner, heavy metal karaoke, my apartment, pancakes and his apartment, we heard the entire album. Val turned up the volume to "Timshel." "This is my favorite song," he told me.


For Thanksgiving, Government Mule gave me his old 20 GB iPod and filled it with music for me. I had used it for my drive up and down the East Coast. As I travelled North again for my Grandmother's funeral, I was listening to the iPod.

He filled it with the music I love. Really terrible music from the 80's and 90's. I was singing along with Jon Secada, Milli Vanilli, Erasure, you name it. I would just put the iPod on shuffle and squeal with every new song. I don't think Government Mule realizes that his gift made my entire Thanksgiving and weeks after.

I had just finished rocking out to Skid Row when it shuffled again. Mumford & Sons' "The Cave" began to play.

"What? No way!" I said to myself.

I about swerved off of I-95 as I scrolled through the iPod containing 2,500 songs and discovered that Government Mule had put the entire Mumford & Sons album on there weeks ago. I called him.

"I can't believe the album is on here. I just discovered it this week. I looooooooove it!" I cooed at him.

"You are the only person I can share my taste of music with," he answered. "Listen to 'White Blank Page;' that's my favorite."

On the car ride, I could not grasp the role this band has so unexpectedly and so significantly played in my life. Every man had brought it to me within days of each other. I turned up the volume.


Valdosta was sitting in front of his lap top as I came out of his bathroom. He turned on the Mumford & Sons album again.

"So I discovered that I already had this album in my iPod. I listened to it for 5 hours straight as I drove through South Carolina and North Carolina."

"Did you think of me?" he asked innocently.

"I did. I couldn't remember which song was your favorite."

"The one with his buddies' last name: 'Timshel,'" he said.

He stood up and grabbed me by the waist and began kissing me. Long, good kisses. The music continued to play. I pulled away.

"I know this song," I said. "It's called 'After the Storm.' It's one of my favorites on the album."

He smiled at me. "It is." He began kissing me again. I began to feel unbalanced so I moved my foot. And that's when I realized it.

We were dancing.

~Thursday, December 16, 2010


I am toast.

I like Valdosta. I like Valdosta a lot. He always says and does the perfect things at the perfect time.

Text message received 5:28 p.m.:

I am getting sick :-(

Outgoing call placed 5:39 p.m.

"Hey, baby," Valdosta answered.

"Hey, sicky. You not feeling well?"

"I have a head cold. I've been fighting it all day."

"Do you want me to--"

"Yes, I still want you to come over."

"I was just sick a couple of weeks ago," I said, thinking I may have given him the cold.

"Good. Your immune system is probably built up because of that." I could hear him grinning. No fault placed on me.

"And I have been drinking green tea all afternoon, so I am feeling extra antioxidant-y," I added.

He laughed.

"Okay, well I'm still at work and will be leaving in a half hour to 45 minutes. Then I have to let the dog out."

"That's okay. Take your time. Go home. Freshen up. I'll see you whenever you're ready."

WTF? WHO SAYS THIS? Fictional characters created by women, that's who. Not men who hit you up on a free Internet dating website.

I had Val over to my place earlier in the week. I made him watch my newest favorite movie, (500) Days of Summer.

"Is this a chick flick?" he asked warily.

"No. It tells you at the very beginning that it is not a love story."

I knew he would like it. People who have had broken hearts like this movie. I love it.

Summer: We've been like Sid and Nancy for months now.
Tom: Summer, Sid stabbed Nancy seven times with a kitchen knife. I mean we have some disagreements but I hardly think I'm Sid Vicious.
Summer: No I'm Sid.
Tom: Oh, so I'm Nancy...
[Pancakes arrive]
Summer: Let's just eat and we'll talk about it later. Mmm, that is good, I'm really glad we did this. I love these pancakes... what?
[Tom gets up and walks away from the table]
Summer: Tom, don't go! You're still my best friend!

Valdosta cringed at the best friend line. I looked at him quizzically, "Aren't we friends?"

He put his arm around me and said abruptly, "No, we are not friends." I knew what he meant.

"Oh that's right. You won't let me get away with that," I said, referring to his first e-mail to me: Friends first never works.

During the movie, the Tom has a monologue where he talks about wanting to break down Summer's emotional wall. I squirmed a little. That was a chick flick moment.

"Okay. That's a girlie thing to say. 'I want to someone to tear down the wall that previous boys have built,'" I mimicked.

Valdosta then squirmed. He opened and closed his mouth like he had something to say. Then he leaned his head towards me, "Guys want that too," he eventually spoke.

I waved my hand. "No way. Everyone knows boys don't have feelings," I joked.

Valdosta stiffened. All of a sudden I was Memphis. I had made an inappropriate joke at an inappropriate time. He had given me an in and I threw it away.

The movie had ended. "That was good," he said. "But it's still a chick flick."

We both hemmed and hawed. It was getting late and he was starting a new position at his company in the morning. Neither of us moved.

"Could you set your alarm?" he asked.

He climbed in my bed and groaned. "These are the most comfortable sheets ever."

"Thanks. They're bamboo." I climbed in my side and before my head even hit the pillow, he slipped an arm under my neck. That's what Valdosta does. Everything he does is exactly the way I like it. There is no learning curve with him; the way he kisses me, talks to me and touches me, it's like he's known me for years. Like this isn't our first sleepover.

Normally I gain some sense of night vision in my bedroom, but it was pitch black that night. To kiss him, I had to reach my hand up to find his furry face. It was hot.

So as you can see, with this guy I am toast. I can't remember the last time I met someone and immediately liked him with without reservations or talking myself into it. Without first and foremost tallying a list of all of his faults before I even considered his good points. The last time I just went with it.

I am toast.

I am also sleeping in sex sheets.

~Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The "Nice" Guy

When I first wrote about Memphis (Date #6), several people remarked that maybe it wasn't the age difference that bothered me about Memphis. Maybe it was something else. I thought it was the fact that he was so optimistic and eager that he couldn't be able to relate to me at all.

So I spent time with him. I took him to meet my friends. We met for pizza. We met for sushi. And as much as I tried trying on the younger and earnest date, I could not stop myself from getting annoyed by him.

The first time was when we were going out for pizza. It was a rainy, cold Monday night. The weather was such that I contemplated canceling just so stay warm and cozy in my apartment. I decided what I needed to jump start my night was a hot shower.

Memphis sent me a text saying he would be at my apartment in a half hour. I had only just walked in the door. I sent back could he please give me just 10 more minutes.

What if I said no? he wrote back.

The shower was running and I was trying to strip off my work clothes. Instead of hurrying up and getting ready, I was now stuck texting.

Then you'll be waiting. I typed back decisively. I was not leaving this apartment without a shower.

Or the train might leave the station.

I groaned and hopped in the shower without responding. If he wanted to play chicken, we could play chicken.


While we were out that night, he asked if I was free that weekend. I ran though my mental calendar. Friday was my heavy metal date with Valdosta, Sunday was my company Christmas party at the metropolitan museum of art. I had the option of bringing a date to the Christmas party, but in the spirit of friendship, I decided to take Katie as my date. She had just bought a red cocktail dress and was antsy for an occasion to wear it. I thought cocktails at the art museum was a perfect occasion.

"I'm booked all weekend, but I think I am free Saturday," I offered.

"Saturday? Saturday is prime dating real estate. I'm not sure if you're a big enough deal for a Saturday," he joked.

Even though he was joking, I was taken aback. "Hmm, good point. I'm not sure you're worth a Saturday night date either."

He started kissing me. He leaned in romantically and whispered in my ear, "You're replaceable."

It made me laugh. I accepted the Saturday night date. Only when I got home and logged on Facebook, I got a reminder that Harvey's big, annual Thanksgiving party was that Saturday night. It's one of the best parties of the year where all the friends get together and bring Thanksgiving dishes and celebrate our friendship. This party is a big deal to me. (On a side note, that was the morning my grandmother died and I still went to the Thanksgiving party and company Christmas party before heading back up the East Coast. That's how much I was looking forward to it.)

Knowing he was already asleep, I still typed out a text when I knew I had double-booked myself. The next morning I received this response:

No worries. I'll have to line something else up for Saturday night. Maybe if I'm free we can do something next week.

Er, that seemed awfully passive aggressive to me. I'm the busy one, not him. I knew he was trying to turn the tables on me.


When I got back in town after the funeral, Memphis asked me out for later in the week. I accepted.

"Okay on two conditions," he added.

I'm sorry, but did he just ask me out, and then apply conditions after I said I would go out with him?

Nothing is easy with him. Everything has to be turned into a bit. Would any of this annoy you, or am I really just not that into him?

~Monday, December 13, 2010


On Laughing:

In the early days of The Hungarian, when he had me pinned against his black leather couch with his roaming octopus hands, I would giggle at his advances.

He sat back against the couch and huffed, "You laugh too much."

I thought about this for a minute. "Laughing is a mechanism," I quietly answered.

"For what?"



Memphis (Date#6) stood beside me as I tried to fit my key in the lock of my front door.

"Live well, love much, laugh often." He read off of my front door mat.

"Yeah," I bought that back in 2003 before I knew it was this huge cliche. And now I'm too cheap to replace it."

"Sure, Whatever," he teased.

I rolled my eyes.


Valdosta stood beside me as I tried to fit my key my front door lock.

"Live well, love much, laugh often." He read. He put his toe under the laugh often part. "That you definitely do," he grinned.

And this time it didn't feel like an insult.

On My Lack of Dodgeball Prowess:

"I'm sorry, but I jacked up my hip playing dodgeball this week. I was a half hour late this morning because I couldn't put my pants on and I'm currently sitting on a heating pad. Can we reschedule walking through the art gallery and do something else instead?" I asked Memphis.

"Sure. Pick you up at 7 at your place. Wear some running shoes. We will get a practice 5k in too. Sound like fun?"

The guy can't be serious about anything. So I tried to give him a taste of his own medicine. "Cool. And if I'm not there, it's not because I'm standing you up, so you just wait there as long as you need to."

"Serious? Because I don't play that waiting business."


"Are you limping again?" asked Valdosta.

"New week. New game. Now it's my hip instead of my ankle. There was a loud pop followed by stabbing pain. I don't know what that's all about."

"Here, use me as your crutch." He grabbed my side as I hobbled in the Chinese restaurant. "It sounds like you aren't stretching properly before these games."

"No, I don't think I stretched my hip, I remember doing my shoulders and legs though. Wait! Curb! This is the worst part." I gasped as I took a step upwards.

"Does it hurt when you move up and down or side to side?"

"Side to side. Definitely."

"It sounds like you hurt your [whatever he said] tendon. I'll show you some good stretches for that."

On Grandma's Death:

"Hello, [The Hungarian] calling."


"I was checking up on you to make sure you are okay. When are you leaving?"

"About a half hour ago."

"And how long will the trip take?"

"Almost 7 hours because I had to drop my dog off at my father's house. I'm set to get there at 2:30 a.m."

"I checked the weather and it's snowing up there, so take care, okay? Safe travels."

I got an identical phone call after I returned home from my trip.


Valdosta and I were standing on a curb while the Femme Fatale relieved herself in a bush.

"How was your day today?" he asked.

"Miserable," I answered. "I was tired from the trip, hurt from dodgeball and then got some shitty news at work. I almost canceled on you because I had such a bad day."

"No, never cancel," he said. "Just tell me what I can do to help."


I winced from climbing in Memphis' enormous truck. My hip was still bugging me. At my request, we were now going to eat sushi instead of walking around marble flooring.

"You don't seem like you're in a good mood," he asked.

"It's been a long, tough week," I sighed.

"Well you should be happy now because you are here with me."

Yes, because you totally trump dead Grandma, I thought.

After a few minutes of silence. "You know, I can just turn around and drop you back home and I can have a good time eating sushi by myself," he teased.

I cringed. "I'm sorry. I'll try and do better. I just have a lot of things of my mind."

"Well I was only halfway joking."

~Saturday, December 11, 2010

Death Knell

Going out again with Valdosta (Date #7) was nice. We ate Mexican, had one margarita apiece and then headed to heavy metal karaoke. We each sang a song and I was tucked away in bed by midnight.

If only.

I'll always choose a frozen margarita (no salt) over on the rocks. And usually frozen drinks are pretty light on the tequila, so I didn't think twice when ordering a second one. Halfway into it, I realized I was more than a little buzzed. I said as much.

Our plates arrived. I continued with the standard, getting-to-know-you roster of questions. "What are you looking for?" Val dropped his silverware on the floor. "You know, other than your fork." I added.

He shrugged. "I used to be into the whole marriage and kids thing, but I don't know anymore. After you go through so many relationships..." he trailed off.

I asked my new favorite question, "Have you ever had your heart broken?"

He looked up at me. And then he said the most perfect response I have ever heard. "You don't get to be 29 and single without having your heart broken." I briefly thought back to Date #6 and his 25-year-old eager self. It encapsulated everything that was wrong with him: You don't get to be 29 and single without having your heart broken.

I switched topics. "What's your signature drink?"

"Gin and Tonic."

"NO WAY!" I burst. "You can't have that one. That's my signature drink. G&T's or gin and tonnies, depending on how many I have. When do you turn 30? "

"This summer."

"Well I'm turning 30 in the spring, so I'm older. It's my drink."

"But I've been drinking them longer, so it's my drink," he teased

We left the restaurant. I bundled my jacket; it was cold out. As we crossed the street into a little neighborhood where we found free parking, my ankle gave out and I nearly fell to the ground. He caught me. Dodgeball season has begun and I've taken quite a beating. I had rolled that ankle during the game and it was still weak. He took the opportunity to tuck my arm inside his. He chuckled. "I was worried for you when we were crossing the broken stones. I didn't know I had to watch you while we were crossing the flat street."

As we drove to the second location, he played the Mumford & Sons album. I broke Cardinal Dating Rule #2 and I touched his stereo while he drove and switched the song to track 2. "I love this song," I breathed.

We pulled into another little neighborhood for the free parking. "No, let's not get out of the car until the song is over," I pleaded. We nestled in the bucket seats. Maybe it was the tequila, maybe it was the warmth of his heater and maybe it was Mumford & Sons, but as the song swelled into the last chorus, I tipped my index finger against his bearded cheek and kissed him indulgently. I'm normally a traditional girl who anticipates the great firsts: the great first phone calls and the great first kiss, the asking of the great first dates. But I had been running around town lately kissing a whole lot of boys. So really, what was one more?

I wasn't shy in my kissing and did exactly what I felt like doing. Lips teased, tongues mingled, noses rubbed. We did that thing where you just breathe hot air onto each other because you're too busy smiling to kiss. The song ended and I pulled away. I giggled in a fit of awkwardness.

There are two types of singers: those that use the mic stand and those that don't. I am of the latter philosophy. He used the stand.

He's like me: he can hold his own, but he's not a great singer. He's comfortable on stage. About two-thirds the way into his song, he pulled the microphone off the stand. I smiled.

I sang No Doubt's "I'm Just a Girl." Obviously heavy metal karaoke only has a handful of songs sung by female artists. But singing with a live band really is different than singing standard karaoke. For instance, there are no scrolling words. You have to know the song forwards and backwards and know when to jump in and out. And when you're on stage, you can't hear yourself and all of a sudden the band part all sounds the same. This is a long way to say I got lost in the second stanza and had to find some creepy guy wearing a trench coat in the audience who was singing along to get back on track.

Heavy metal karaoke was accompanied with gin and tonics, beer, and then Jaeger shots for the death knell. We both got sloppy. But the good news is that we were both equally drunk, so if one of us was acting like an idiot, the other didn't notice. We danced and grinded and made out to Toadies' "Possum Kingdom" and Guns N Roses' "Sweet Child O Mine."

He ran into some girls he knew. They exchanged hugs. Afterwards he leaned into me, "Don't worry, I've never slept with her."

"How did you know I was thinking that?"

"Because you said you are an overthinker. I know how those are."

"Well, fine." I started pointing to other girls he knew. "Did you sleep with her?"


"What about her?"


"Do you want to?"

"No." He reached out and ran his hand through my hair and kissed me.

We shut the bar down. I thought it was midnight and it was after 2:30 am. We go back to my place because I was insistent that the Femme Fatale had to be walked at that moment. Only I was so drunk that I dropped my building access card and we were locked out in the freezing cold. In the middle of the night. All of a sudden that security I loved wasn't so sexy.

Valdosta got impatient and said we should just go back to his place. I reminded him that I had the Femme Fatale. He said to just bring her along. My coat was inside. And I knew if I left, I'd never see my building access card again and it would cost me $35. I ignored him and started drunk dialing random apartments. That didn't work. And then, thank jesus for living in the city and a block from the region's largest gay club, a gay guy was escorting out his hookup for the evening. He made sure to escort that guy all the way out of the building. In the middle of the night.

I excitedly ran up to him. "Hi! I'm drunk and I live in the building. You can tell I live here because I'm not wearing a coat and I have my dog with me. I mean, what kind of person would steal something without coat pockets?" I rambled.

He let me in the building and then in the elevator. I found my building access card on my front door mat. I dumped off the Femme Fatale, still forgot my coat, and went out for pancakes and sausage because it seemed like a good idea at the time. By the time we made it back to Valdosta's apartment, it was 5 o'clock in the morning.

He's a cuddler. He cradled me like he's known my body for years. He knew the right spot on my thigh to rest his hand. He stroked my hair. Kissed my forehead--

"Um, do you sleep with your closet doors open?" I asked.

"Yes. Does that bother you?"


"You want me to get up and close the doors?" he asked.

"Yes, please."

"What are you, afraid of the Boogey Man?"

Some things are just scary in the dark.

The next morning, the room was spinning. Clearly I drank too much. Clearly I broke the rule of mixing liquor colors. I had a coughing fit from shouting and singing the night before. Valdosta got a text message. He laughed and read it to me.

"'Want me to get your girl a cough drop?' It's from my roommate."

After laying in bed for a few more hours, I felt ready enough to get up and go home. However, I did not account for the fact his car is a stick shift. The first time the car lurched into first gear, I groaned and rolled the window down for some cool air on my face.

"I thought you were going to get sick there for a minute," he admitted.

"Yeah, me too," I admitted.

It was the most awful car ride I've ever had in which I did not get sick. After he pulled away, I hovered over the one bush in front of my apartment building in case I was still going to. I crawled into my own bed, wishing for sweet death.

My mom called. "Your grandmother just passed away," she sniffed.

~Friday, December 10, 2010

Date #7

What I liked about Date #7 is that he immediately called me out on my bullshit. I met Date #7 through Plenty of Fish and not eHarmony. Plenty of Fish had gone by the wayside and I had screwed around with my profile and let guys know up front that I loved both bad music and had nerd-like tendencies. And then to prove it, I quoted the great Michael Bolton: "How can we be lovers if we can't be friends?"

Friends first never works, he wrote me. And I can't believe you quoted Michael Bolton in your profile.

I checked his out. It was a good profile. So good in fact, I wouldn't have contacted him because I was so sure he hears from swarms of girls.

This coming from the man who uses animated emoticons in his, I quipped.

I was hoping you'd respond, he sent back.

After some good e-mail banter, we agreed to meet. He greeted me with a hug; I realized I was taller in heels. He graduated from a smaller, non-SEC college, and is a UT fan. He has a roommate. He plays hockey; I'd already been there and done that.

I pointed to my front tooth. "That right there was lasered on by my very excellent dentist. I was fighting for the puck and took a stick to the mouth. Just so you know, it's really embarrassing to stop a game so you can look for your tooth on the ice."

He was impressed. "When did all this happen?"

"Um, 10 years ago. My boyfriend at the time played in the minor leagues in Vegas for the ECHL."

"So I saw that you sing karaoke," he said, referencing one of my pictures on my profile. "Have you ever been to heavy metal karaoke?"

Heavy metal karaoke is a live band dressed in skinny jeans and long hair and only plays classic rock songs that have been deemed awesome by the band. The song choice is limited and there are a lot of rules to sing with them.

"I have. I went a couple of months ago with my roommate from college who was only in town for one night. Singing karaoke was our thing, so we checked it out."

"Did you sing?" he asked.

"Hell yeah, I sang. I always sing. I'm not good at it, but I enjoy it."

"What did you sing?"

"Bon Jovi."

"Oh, 'Living on a Prayer?'" he smirked.

"No. 'Dead or Alive.'"

He raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Bold choice."

"Awesome song."

"I go to heavy metal karaoke pretty regularly. I know all the guys. I use a stage name when I sing."

"Oh yeah? What's your stage name?" I asked.


Now it was my turn to be surprised. "You were there that night! I remember that name. It was like real name, real name, Debaser. You sang twice."

He laughed. I spun my pint glass. "I was the girl in the corner. You should have flirted with me. I looked hot that night."

"You're looking pretty good right now," he smiled.

And so we set up a date to return to heavy metal karaoke.

~Thursday, December 02, 2010

Winter's Here

I stepped onto The Hungarian's porch and shivered. Although it was in the final days of November, it was the very first time it was cold out. I pulled on the coat that I brought just in case and zipped it up. The Hungarian, who usually watches to make sure I get to my car okay, had long shut the door and moved on.

It was also cold inside the house after the Great Dishwasher Incident of 2010.

I exhaled, but I didn't see my breath like I expected I would. The very last thing The Hungarian said to me was "It looks like Winter's here." I'm glad the outside matches my inside.


The next morning I had my appointment with my endocrinologist. He flipped through the results of my CBC and serum chemistry. It was good news. For the first time in three years, I was healthy.

"Now it looks like your body is never going to process calcium naturally," he admitted. He put the chart down and looked at me. "How far away are you from getting pregnant?"

I looked down at my feet and gurgled. Really? We have to have this discussion hours after I decide I don't want to see someone anymore? "Um, pretty far," I mumbled.

"Well you're still in your childbearing years."

What? I'm 29. I'm in the infancy of my childbearing years.

He expressed concern for my calcium levels if I ever do become pregnant. "The second you become pregnant, we'll want to see you immediately. Your calcium will need to be monitored carefully." He kept talking about pregnancy and pregnancy and pregnancy. I wanted to roll off the table with the paper sheet and die.


I've been dating in punctuation marks. Periods. Question marks. I want to date in commas, colons and ellipses. I want to date in prose, not statements. Let there be more to the story.

There has to be more to this story.

~Wednesday, December 01, 2010

And... scene!

My relationship with The Hungarian has run its course. I think my mistake was taking too long to realize he wasn't playing games. His mistake is that he's completely self-absorbed. Once again, here's a man who says he wants a wife and kids, but doesn't have room in his life (or house) for them.

His house. That's the reason it's over. When he cooked me dinner, I tried to be hospitable and clean up. He told me to just put my plate in the sink. I did and then I cleaned the plate and stuck it in the dishwasher.

He turned around and saw what I was doing.

"What are you doing?" he yelled.

I looked up, confused.

"I told you to put it in the sink. Why are you touching the dishwasher?" He had always barked when he spoke, but now his voice was raised.

Completely aghast, I took the dish out of the dishwasher and put it back in the sink.

"Why did you close the dishwasher door!?" he yelled. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" He stomps in the kitchen and unlatches the dishwasher door.

By this time I had completely evacuated the kitchen and put two pieces of furniture between us: the kitchen island and kitchen table. I was acutely aware that the front door was directly behind me and my purse and car keys were within my reach. I had no idea what was happening or why he was yelling.

"You Americans with your hospitality," he sneered. "I told you to put the dish in the sink. Why didn't you listen to me?"

"I, uh, don't know," I whispered. "My intentions were good." I stood very still and didn't make any sudden movements.

The Hungarian fixes himself another plate and sits back down at the table as if none of this just happened. He gestured for me to sit. I did as I was told.

"If you're going to pout for more than 5 minutes," he began. I halfway stood back up, waiting for him to tell me to leave. "Then we are going to have to talk about this," he finished.

"I grew up very poor," he said. "There was no car, there was no dishwasher..." He had certainly come a long way since then. He drove a brand new Audi and had a BMW motorcycle for the weekends. He lived in a 5-bedroom house in the nice area of town. His house is completely paid off. He had achieved the American dream by anyone's standards. "...I have lived alone my entire life—even my mother would agree—and I am very proud of my things..."

I looked around his kitchen as he spoke. Inside a glass cupboard were six shot glasses perfectly lined up. Everything had an exact place.

"And I don't use my dishwasher," he continued. "They are a waste of time, water and energy."

He got up from the table and walked back to the scene of the crime. He explained to me his life as he hand washed all the dishes. It was not the life I have had. I grew up in this same neighborhood where he worked so hard to live. I have always lived in the upper-middle class bubble. Every label in his house I take for granted because it's always been accessible to me.

"See? All done." He put the last dish in the dish rack adjacent to the sink. I had never even noticed it. He approached me, still sitting silently at the table.

He stood in front me and clutched his heart. "Oh, I am so upset," he joked in a falsetto voice. "I need to go home, have a Valium, a glass of wine, and an appointment with my therapist." Well he had certainly nailed upper-middle class life. "No one has ever spoken to me that way!"

I didn't say anything. That wasn't the problem. The problem is that too many people have.


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