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This month marks the tenth year that I've been doing 100 Words. I haven't missed a month, even though it may look that way because somehow several consecutive months of entries were lost when they changed servers or whatever-the-hell. Even though I have those entries in hard copy somewhere, it rankles me that they don't appear here.
The time has come for me not to say goodbye to this undertaking but to renew my vows. And to go one step further and say that from this venture I hope to bring forth a bouncing bundle of my own. (Top secret-ish?)
Our second date, and his conversation style, rather than being like soothing rain that you want to run through without an umbrella like in a stupid romantic comedy, is more like a series of lightning bolts, trying with all their jagged might not just to jar you but to zap you into smoking oblivion.
On our first date I'd told him I don't sleep with a guy unless there's a really deep connection otherwise, and I'm convinced what he's trying to do is not just forge one but force one so he can get what I know he really wants.
It has to be immediate for me. Upon meeting you for the first time, there's got to a certain "something" that draws me to you, that makes me unable to drag my eyes away, that pulls me to you in a magnetic way. Maybe not necessarily in a zingy, toe-tingly way, or anything even having to do with "that kind" of attraction, even though I sometimes convince myself that that's the end all and be all. Maybe it's an instant comfort, an instant unexplainable feeling of recognition, like being with someone I may have dreamed of, however peripherally, years ago.
No sooner do we remove our coats than he's off to check out the lay of the restaurant. I don't even have time to protest, but I figure, hey, already, within one minute of meeting face to face, I'm learning what life would be like this guy. When I find him chatting with a busboy about the fair trade coffee they serve, he says, "This is my first time here! I want to see what it's all about!" Yes, infant, but this is your first time with me, too. Never mind a life together. He won't get a second date.
His notes to me, contained within the gated community of Match.com, are divided into paragraphs as proper as an English garden, spelling errors weeded out, punctuation rooted in place. The grass is lush green. After a date in the real world, we transplant the communication to the wilds of regular email. Here the paragraphs are in need of pruning. Spelling errors run amok. Punctuation survives the cut. Areas of the grass are patchy and faded into dry gray. While certainly not a red flag, it's still a white one, where the guy is flailing, surrendering. But is it worth saving?
Two Saturdays ago, I overheard Billy Crystal telling a story through a mouthful of pastrami at Katz's. He told his companion, who was either Joyce DeWitt or Ann Jillian, that he overheard it from someone else, but at that point so much Russian dressing was dripping from his lips that I couldn't bear to eavesdrop anymore and not only stopped listening but left the premises. The gist was that Don Rickles and Meg Ryan had been conjoined twins, and a fifth leg they'd shared grew up to be Tom Hanks. Yes, it sounds farfetched, but why would Billy Crystal lie?
These guys work in midtown Manhattan and live in the Westchester suburbs. They commute on powder puff trains from White Plains and Scarsdale and Caesar-Salad-Croutons-on-the-Hudson in navy or blue suits their wives used to pick up from the dry cleaners, reading Kindle books over travel-mug coffee, pant-legs riding up to show socks devoid of personality. They find me on Match, hoping I want to be part of their barbecues and ski trips and have hushed sex with them in the master bedroom on weekends when they're being weekend dads. The only part of that scenario I want is their dogs.
If he really wants to see you, he won't let anything get in his way. He won't say he's got out-of-town friends visiting, he has his daughter for a few days, he's busy with work, he was in town but had other obligations, but hey, he really does want to meet you and after the holidays (oh, yes, THE HOLIDAYS, the perfect excuse for everything, a procrastinator's dream!) he'll come down and you'll finally meet, and then, when prodded after all that stuff should have passed, still not do anything about it. Sorry, guy, but I'm no longer into YOU.
Lying on her side, there's no mistaking that my cat is built like a Butterball turkey, with runt-sized drumsticks jutting out from beneath the bulk of her body. When she's more upright, though, in classic quasi-Sphinx pose, her tender round paws (or what I call TRPs!) tucked beneath her chest, she reminds me of a meatloaf. On her back, back legs splayed wide apart, occasional parts in her black fuzzy belly exposing white skin beneath, she doesn't remind me of food but of a big crazed bat. No matter how you look at it, though, she's 4 billion percent adorable.
I'm on my way to a first date with a guy I've been corresponding with for several days. I'm dressed to the elevens. I see a girl I'd met in October at a blessing of the animals on West 71st, walking two dogs, and stop to chat. She exclaims over my ensemble, saying the guy I'm meeting is very lucky. So why, when I'm face to face with him five minutes later, does he greet me as if he's not only already met as a mere business acquaintance before but one he's seen in this outfit many times? Great start.
A man is reduced to ashes to be scattered by the handful into the ocean in warmer weather. A man who nobody could budge when alive, whose weight equaled that of me and my sister combined (we're not big chicks, but still), is now in a form that not only can be budged but blown out of our palms like fuzzy dandelion spores. Do we make a wish when we do so? Do we wish for something for ourselves or for him? One thing I know: I'll wear a Viking helmet to honor his half-joking wish for a Viking funeral!
He lives on a farm in Woodstock with his black lab, a couple of llamas, a bunch of other animals, owns a recording studio he built in an old barn, is 46 and Jewish and handsome, has great hair and a deep sexy voice. He makes his own shiro wot and not only knows how to pronounce "Meskerem" properly but knows it means "September". When I said he could bring his 7-year-old daughter, whom he adores, down for the Ethiopian food he wants to get here in the city, he said no fucking way, that wouldn't be "romantic". Pinch me.
Every photo I've ever seen of him online from the past few years, he's smiling the same smile borne of "Cheeeeeese" followed by "Cheese, damn it, cheeeeeese, cheeeeeeeeese, take the picture already, cheeeeese", lips stretched into near oblivion over dull teeth, eyes focused anywhere but on whomever was taking the picture. Kids, use scissors to cut along his dotted line and take him on vacation! Look, there he is by an anonymous fountain. There he is by a bridge. And oh, look, he's making sure the Leaning Tower doesn't fall. He's a still life without the benefit of fruit. Cheese!
I complimented a dog in the way-too-many photos included in his Match profile, so he replies, and we correspond for a while with great levity. I say it'd be fun if he'd join me for a shindig at the home of some friends who live nearby. He bristles; he doesn't want to go in front of "the committee". He'd also used this term earlier when I mentioned I'd be meeting a friend for coffee. Would I be telling "the committee" about him? Apparently he doesn't know the only "committee" that matters is me, and that I've just judged him unfavorably.
"Tell me your story," he says from across the table at the substandard Asian restaurant we've chosen only because it's one of the only places open on the eve of Hurricane Sandy. The subways will be shutting down in an hour and a half, so he can only get an abridged version. The thing is, though, I don't want to tell any version. Why must the date be like a job interview, especially if it's for a temporary position since he lives in Seattle, not in New York? I tell him 49 years of life in three minutes. How satisfying.
Oh, I know you're in a hurry, dearest express train, but would it really hurt you to wait five, ten, or even 20 seconds as the local pulls in on the other side of the same platform, so people already on the trains can take advantage of the opportunity to switch quickly or those who have yet to board can have a choice of which train to take? You're just like the guy in the elevator who, when he sees someone else rushing across the lobby to make it before the doors close, feverishly presses the "Close Door" button. Dick.
My cat pauses mid-head-rub on my leg, looks up with lips a silent Morse code dash, huge green eyes set in a tiny black head propped atop the fuzzy anvil masquerading as a body, wondering why my lips are doing this weird quiver thing and this sound is coming out of me sort of like a purr but not happy or hungry, my eyes pouring wet stuff onto my face, my body slumped in my chair as if invertebrate. She meows gently in polysyllabic fashion, inflected with a question mark, which is more coherent than anything she receives in response.
Talking to him isn't like pulling teeth, it's more like having him jam a cold wrench in my mouth, clamping it onto a stubborn molar, and twisting the tool every which way in an attempt to yank it free for a souvenir. He's a two-hour essay test when I just want a pop quiz. He's the undertow when all I'm doing is standing at the ocean's edge, just hoping for that silky sensation where, when you look down at your feet, it feels like you're moving a little when you know you're at peace in one place. Calm, boy, calm.
My neighbors, a youngish couple, have been shrieking at each other in something that sounds like a cross between Ubby Dubby and Urdu for 15 minutes non-stop. I anticipate one of them bursting through their door into the hallway. I plan to wait until that happened and then *just so happen* to be by the recycling bins, but can't take it anymore, burst out my OWN door, bolt to theirs and shout, in all caps 72-point Cooper Bold, "Hey! Would you guys keep it down? I'm going to call the cops if you don't SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!" Aaaaand silence.
Last night my friend Chris, in town from Minneapolis for a deposition, and I toasted my Chivas-loving dad with single-malt scotch at a New-Jersey-commuter-and-Midwestern-tourist-packed bar on East 51st Street. I had Macallan 12 (with ice, because I'm a girl), at his suggestion. I managed to drink maybe a tablespoon and a half. He had two glasses of another kind. It made my earlier drink, Tanqueray and tonic, seem like Sprite. You will never be able to convince me that that any of that scotch stuff doesn't taste like the sweat from Satan's terrycloth headband after a particularly rousing jazzercise class.
You know her as the girl who always has a biting word for people who commit infractions on the bus or on sidewalk or in traffic, not shy about giving people the finger, hearing her say they're lucky that's all they get, that she could do more damage with her fist. She's got the mouth of a drunken sailor and you'd swear she could grow a full beard if she wanted. You're surprised after her dad dies to learn she called him "Daddy". You see her in a way she tries to hide. You want to protect her for eternity.
Second dates (with the same guy) are more intimidating than first dates. First dates often don't lead to second dates, so you don't have to worry if anything you felt or didn't feel will carry over into the next time you see each other. With a second date, you worry if he'll still be as cute or charming or funny as you thought, after replaying the first date over and over in your mind, where he's Paul Rudd and you're Sandra Bullock. You worry if he faked princely qualities and on the second date will expose himself as a cad.
I just blocked a "suggested post"/advertisement from a local circus that slyly inserted itself into my newsfeed here on Facebook, and, when prompted for a reason, selected "against my views". Recently these shmoes also suggested I "like" Perdue chicken. Is this a ploy by Facebook, devised so I think it's *not* scrutinizing the content of my posts and photos like a bearded, hoodied, Conversed version of Big Brother? What's next, Mr. F. Book? A gentle plea for me to give a hale and hearty thumbs-up to bullfighting, Uggs, McMansions, homophobia, Joseph Stalin, Gwyneth Paltrow, the International Anti-Tofu League, and decaf?
Dear First Date Guy:
I appreciate that your collection of words extends beyond monosyllabic drudgery. I appreciate, too, your ability to speak in compound sentences, inflected with such care that I can visualize the punctuation in the event I wish to transcribe your soliloquy later. Your use of the language is more ambitious than that demonstrated by many of my other first dates. However, if you insist on showing off that you can use the word "polemic" in conversation, might I suggest you pronounce it so it doesn't rhyme with "bulimic"? Thank you.
P.S. Pretentiousness makes me vomit.
My boyfriend is in the kitchen talking to my mom. Food, I'm guessing French toast, is probably involved. Someone magically appears behind me, a little off to the side, so my peripheral vision tells me I don't have to produce a candelabrum from beneath my cloak with which to bludgeon the person since that person is my dad.
"Joey, I know it's not cool for your dad to like your boyfriend, but I want to tell you I really, really like him."
I grin from ear to ear to ear, sprouting a third one to accommodate the span.
I wonder if, in two days, he'll think, "I can't believe it's already been two years since we met." I wonder if he'll remember the breathless thrill of email, each one exchanged like a slightly belated Christmas gift, and how he couldn't wait to meet me in person the next day, knowing, even more than I did, that something good was going to happen, that we'd meet and that would be it, neither of us would look any further because we had found each other. I wonder if he'll whisper, "I miss you" aloud, the way I know I will.
A month or so ago a guy about 25 years my senior, with a rather youthful manner, attitude, and appearance, found me on a dating site and wrote me several messages. In one, perhaps to demonstrate his open-mindedness, he said he'd gone out with two Jewish women in his time, both of whom were "earthy", and he had a feeling I was the same way. Although I knew what he meant, I found it a rather odd compliment, and all I could think was, "Does he think I'm Rhoda Morgenstern?" I'd say "earthy" is best left to describing, say, mushrooms.
Although I only have eight pages left in the book I'm reading and want to finish it now and fall asleep, I'm staying up until midnight, at which time I'll ring in 2013 not with drunken, glittery Times Square groping but by reading those remaining pages, just so I can count the book among my 2013 "reads". That way, this time next year, when I compile a 12-mile-long "Books I Read This Year" list to impress you with how well-read I am, I'll have one more than I would've had otherwise had I not shown such remarkable restraint right now.
"My perfect match is really nothing out of the ordinary." This, from the profile of a random bundle of non-stop fun-a-gogo who visited my Match profile. Wow. Way to woo a woman, rustle up a romance, and stir up sizzlin' sexiness, buddy boy! It doesn't take much digging to unearth the subtext: "Hi, ladies, I'm pretending I'm not desperate, but really, you ain't gotsta read between the lame lines too much to see that I really am. May I interest you in stuffed potato-skins at the chain restaurant of your choosing?" Set your sights high, go-getter, and go get 'er!
Every once in a while, while trying hard not to slip clear off the edge of the immensely uncomfortable seat, bracing my foot against the back of the seat in front of me for leverage, pretending to be more interested in the documentary than I really am, curious if my date's hand feels as awkward as mine does with the hand-holding thing that's more like finger-suffocating, whiffing scotch I suspect is emanating from him, I become acutely aware that I am out with someone new, that this odd configuration of coziness has replaced the old order. Am I "moving on"?
An invitation to a party in Brooklyn, complete with piņata and karaoke, and more homosexuals than you can shake a dick at, hosted by a peripheral friend and his female roommate, attended by one of my best friends and his boyfriend. I briefly consider reconsidering my decision not to go thanks to no desire for hoopla or wearing anything more extravagant than pajamas, plus even less desire to avail myself of any mode of public transportation, especially with transfers. In the end, I stay home with my favorite person, who just so happens to be a cat. Happy Mew Year!
The Tip Jar