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The Whiskey Runner

runner

“Hey… *huff* how are *gasp*  you?”  I wheezed.

The beachfront passed us lazily on the left.  A motley mix of tourists and locals wrapping up their afternoon of leisure under the slowly setting sun.  Cyclists and other joggers shared the sidewalk, a tireless serpent of concrete that seemed to stretch for forever.

“I’m good” she breathed without missing a step, her perfect stride a constant rhythm of grace and poise.  Garbed in black spandex with her brunette ponytail swaying from shoulder to shoulder, I could set a metronome to her even steps; my heart tried but failed repeatedly, instead opting to pump blood to the rest of me to keep me alive.

“That’s *gasp…  good.” I managed after a few heavy footfalls and a weak smile.

She looked over at me, with a knowing smile on her lips.  I stood erect, puffing out my chest and attempting to keep the same vigor in my step to match hers.  But my legs were already on fire, my lungs imploding under the effort.  Talking, was a luxury my body simply couldn’t afford.

Her laughter was musical, and she did it with such ease.  I felt like a caveman being shown fire for the first time, struck by both intrigue and fear of this perfect human being able to do so much with the same oxygen and sidewalk we shared.   I watched as she began pulling away.   But in truth it was me, slowing, sputtering, stopping, until I was walking with the same unremarkable speed as the towel-toting beach goers who populated the sidewalk.  I watched her perfectly curved haunches, rounded hips and slender arms still methodically pumping as she grew smaller in the distance.

I had been weighed and measured, and in her arena I had been found so far wanting, I couldn’t keep up.  It was in essence the perfect rejection.  The one thing I knew about her, “She likes to run” was trumped by the one thing I had shown her, “I really suck at running”   There was no question as to the incongruence of our souls.

– – – –

So I ran and I ran, determined to mold my soul into something better than squishy playdough.  My ratty sneakers gave way to sporty running shoes.  I bought shorts that didn’t chafe my inner thighs after the first thirty feet.  And I got one of those little ipod bicep bands on the wings of Amazon.  I did my stretches on the benches in view of all the other runners, and in lieu of any running talent or physical ability… at least now I looked the part.

I caught up with her again in the weeks to follow.  Pink tracksuit, moving in a blur of energy and motion, her golden blond hair pulled into two pigtails, and flecks of gold reflecting off her freckled cheeks as the sun cast its final rays of the day.

“Run here often?” Bad pun, I know.

She cocked a curious eyebrow at me.

“Y’know this could be more fun if we play tag.  *huff* Y’know I’ll chase you and you chase me?”

She quickened her pace and then she was gone, a slender golden glimmering figure on the horizon.  Was that my cue to give pursuit?  Try as I may, I simply couldn’t keep up.  And I soon I was coughing and sputtering on the grass.

“Okay… I’ll chase you.”  I wheezed weakly, my hands finding my knees and my lungs seeking the ground as she grew smaller in the distance.

– – – –

My new shoes became old shoes, and the elastic on my ipod case began to lose’ it’s hold.  But still I ran.  It was months later when I saw her again.  Gray yoga pants and a fitted line green top, with her raven black hair pulled taught in a braid.

“Y’know all these people running in the other direction… they could be running from a fire and we would never know.”

“If there was a fire, they’d be running faster.  More screaming too.”

“Maybe they don’t want to cause a panic?”

“Jokes on them, I set my fire back there.”  She flicked her thumb playfully over her shoulder in one fluid motion”They’re running right to it.” she smiled, never breaking strike.

“I like you.  You’re funny.”  I blurted out.  Surprised I have enough oxygen and energy to carry on a conversation.

“You’re… interesting.”  Not quite the compliment I was looking for, but close enough.

“Do you want to get coffee?”  I ask her.

“I don’t drink coffee.”

“Me neither!”  I exclaim.  “But when I ask people if they want to get whiskey, they look at me funny.”

“I like whiskey.”

“Well then, do you want to get whiskey?”

“Well that depends.  What would you have done if I said yes to coffee?”

“Drink hot cocoa in a big boy cup and call it a double-frap-mariachi-blended-mocca-pikachu.”

She laughed, a rich and musical sound.

“Yes, to whiskey.”

And there was just enough oxygen left in me– to smile.

Bump it with:

Zipper Questions

I met her while walking around the busy tourist ladened sidewalks of Waikiki.  She, in a floppy over-sized sunhat and large Breakfast-At-Tiffany’s sunglasses that covered her eyes like some sort of rhinestone encrusted insect.  Strappy stiletto heels; pink and white sundress; shopping bags in one hand; gelato in the other.  Everything about her screamed Korean tourist, but when she opened her mouth, the most beautiful sound came out:


…Hot Damn!

No, she wasn’t singing, but she had the same voice of an angel. I learned over the course of the evening they’re called “Kowis”, (Korean + Kiwi = Kowi) ethnic Koreans raised in New Zealand and there is a sizable population of them– and they like coming to Hawaii.  She pulled down her glasses to give me a quick once-over with piercing brown eyes.

I know what I look like in my tattered boots, bluejeans, skulls, bracers, and V-neck in the 90* weather– I am clearly not a tourist.  We stood there, polar opposites from worlds away.  Like those American tourists who go to another country and all they eat is McDonalds, I was something familiar and digestible in a foreign place, but different enough to still be exotic.

“Hi.”

I ask her some innocuous question.  She replies, and I realize I want to hear her voice as much as I can, for hours on end.  We’re standing there in the sun and the heat, talking about shopping and gelato and the beach and people are just walking past us, and it isn’t until her bags are at her feet and her gelato is all melted that I realize we’ve been one of those asshole couples that just stands in a major thoroughfare and holds a conversation oblivious to everyone around them.  She’s not making any excuses to walk away, no artificial deadline or destination.  No, she’s genuinely interested in the words coming out of my mouth for some reason.

“I want to eat that.”  I point to her empty gelato cup.  “Where did you get that?”

Her second scoop of gelato becomes walking around taking in the sights, becomes drinks, becomes dinner at the cusp of the beach with the sunset glowing over the sun-baked sand ocean lapping it’s gentle waves upon the shore.  She’s a lawyers, successful and ambitious, with a musical laugh and a wit as sharp as a tack, and I am all the more, enamored and enthralled.  We spend the evening celebrating and exploring our differences.

“Why do you call them capsicum?”  I  point to her salad garnished with onions and red peppers.  She ordered a salad because she’s watching her figure, but still manages to keep pace with me at three beers with dinner.  The perfect paradox.

“What do you call them here?”

Royale’ with cheese.”

“Wait, what?”

“Haha it’s a Pulp Fiction reference.   We call them peppers.”

“Peppers?” She tries it out, unfamiliar in her mouth.  “Then what do you call that?” She points to the black pepper shaker on the table.

“Also pepper.”

“Isn’t that confusing?”

“Not really.”

“Capsicum sounds better.” she concludes.

“Only when you say it.”

– – – –

We stumble into her hotel room, my hands caressing the supple curves of her body, hot steam radiating off our meshing flesh like… well like a radiator I suppose.  She peels my shirt off and flings it into a corner of the room.  We stumble out of shoes and heels, tripping over them our faces and hands unable to separate or even look down for the briefest of moments.  I fling her onto the bed.   She fumbles at the skull-and-crossbones of my belt buckle.

My thumb and forefinger find the zipper to the back of her pink and white sundress dress.  I give it a tug; The zipper sings as it rides down the small of her back, each unfettered tooth widening the maw of fabric, and bringing me one step closer to that beautiful moment where our genitals will high-five.   I run my fingernails playfully over her bare skin from her slender shoulders down to her well toned buttocks.

zipper

“Do you have a girlfriend?”  She asks me between hot mouthy kisses.

“Of course not.”  I reply, gasping for air.  My hands working their way up the sides of her ribs, opening up the back of her dress ready to pull it off, her soft flesh dancing under my fingertips.

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

– – – –

Doctors call them “door knob questions“.  The patient goes in, has a routine checkup and says everything is fine.  The moment the doctor is about to leave the examining room, with his hand (or her hand I suppose, because women can be doctors too) on the door knob the patient spits it out– the real reason for their visit.

Doctor-walking-away-from-patient
“I’ve got this growth on my testicle and I think it might be cancer… and I’ve been coughing up blood all morning…”
(I originally got the concept from an episode of [H]ouse.  But I tried googling “House door knob questions” and all I got are home remodeling videos. )

She had deftly avoided the question all evening, and now right when we were at the cusp of coitus, standing at the doorstep of my ding-dong’s-destiny, with her hands at my waist kissing me like she means it… There’s this awkward.  Halting.  Pause.

“…I have a boyfriend.”

I laugh, because I think she’s being cute.  It sounded so good coming out of her mouth, it took a second to register in my brain.

“Wait, say that again?”

“He’s back in New Zealand.  We’re on a break.”

“Does he know that?” She shrugs.  That’s a ‘No’.  

“I mean, I’m going to break up with him when I get home.”

The room gets very cold and quiet.  Something in the light changes: Her pink dress shifts, to salmon, and then the slightest hues of Orange begin to creep up through the fabric.  I pull my face away from hers, first by inches and then by miles.  Something in me shifts.  I no longer want to do this.  I stand up.

– – – –

I gather up my clothes.   They were flung so casually all over her hotel room in a passionate whirlwind… and now i’m participating in the world’s most depressing scavenger hunt, where the prize at the end for collecting it all is a night of self-loathing and solitary contemplation about my life’s choices.

Even once I Caught em’ All, my clothes instinctively fight me.  It’s like being a toddler again; all motor-skills flying out the window in my fevered panic to escape.  my head wants to go through the arm hole, both feet in one pant leg.  I don’t even bother to try tying my laces; I just tuck them into the sides of my shoes.  She’s just sitting there on her hotel room bed, her mouth slightly agape and her eyes narrowed into slits, just watching me stumble into my clothes.   The back zipper of her dress is still splayed wide open, the material folded over her shoulders as if she were some life-sized-zip-up-costume just waiting for someone with character to step into her skin.

“Thank you for a wonderful night” I say to her as I exit her hotel room.  I wish I had a hat.  Like a bowler, or a fedora, or even a cowboy hat because at that exact moment I would’ve raised it an inch over my head and tipped it to her.  I saunter off, my imaginary spurs jingling with each step.

Out in the long empty corridor, lined with perfectly cloned hotel doors end to end, I pause for a moment uncertain of what to do.  “I’m doing the right thing.”  I said it aloud to myself in the empty hallway.  And then again.  “I’m doing the right thing.  I’m doing the right thing.”  I repeat it over and over like a mantra  I am Bart Simpson begrudgingly writing sentences on that chalkboard at the start of every episode:

bart-simpson-generator

For some reason, I start running.  Running… from a mostly naked woman who wants me for purely superficial reasons, a goal I’ve spent most of my life running towards.   Hotel California begins playing in my head as I barrel my way down the empty hallway and through the fire exit and down the stairwell making a mad dash in concentric circles as I descend further and further away from her hotel room to the ground floor.  I imagine her giving one final piercing cackle before her hotel room bursts into unholy purple and green flames.  Because in Disney Movies, the bad guys always have purple and green flames.  I fling open the doors and spill out onto some discrete side exit flanked by concrete plant potters and shoulder high-hedges.  I hear the door lock behind me with a resounding *thud*.  It’s in that moment I allow myself to slow the perpetual motion of my fleeing body.  I turn around and try the handle.  Yep, no turning back now.  I tie my shoelaces and walk the rest of the way to my car.

I did the right thing.  God Damn.  I hate the right thing.  

A Lofty Sound

Another Flashback story.  This happened about six months ago:

I love where I live.  Everybody comes to Hawaii because it’s a dream vacation destination.  The landscape is pristine and picturesque.  People who live in Hawaii, come up to a particular scenic point to admire the view– this is where people in paradise, come to view paradise.  And my apartment is smack dab at the top of what could arguably be the best view of the island.  So the drive up to my place is its own natural aphrodisiac of sorts.

My apartment itself is not particularly big.  It’s a single bedroom studio with a full bathroom and kitchen, and a loft storage area that can be reached by a ladder.  My apartment is joined by one wall to a larger central house where my landlord and his family live; a father and two teenage sons.  In addition to being tied into the same electrical and water lines, my apartment shares central AC with the rest of the house.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Well any storyteller worth his salt knows it’s important to create a sense of place and setting before telling his story.  It’s rude to just dump an audience in the middle of things.  And a couple of these facts will come into play in just a minute or two depending on how fast you read.

So, anytime I bring a new friend to my apartment, the first thing she wants to do is climb the ladder and look around the loft.   Not sure what it is, but that space up there seems to convert everyone to a simpler time of playing pillow-fort as a kid.    When I first moved in I lugged my 30 gallon aquarium up there, along with most of my diving and shooting gear, so there is a lot of cool stuff to poke around at.  I also tossed a sleeping bag and an extra pillow up in my loft to add to the whole, secret-grown-up-fort element.

Loft

So I have a friend up in my loft, and she’s cooing at my fish, and looking out the skylight, and she sprawls across the sleeping bag and decides this would be a great place for an impromptu game of Backgammon.   Awesome.  That’s what the sleeping bag is there for, that’s the whole point of bringing a friend back to my place.  The problem is, I’ve never played backgammon against this particular opponent.

And.  She. Was.  Loud.

Every time I would advance my pieces she would grunt and moan.  When she made her moves, she was equally as audible. Now I like enthusiasm, and I like encouragement during a rousing game of backgammon, but this was something new entirely.  I had unlocked a wailing banshee who puts the pipes of Axel Rose to shame.  When the game reached its inevitable conclusion, her voice arose in a cacophony of screams and wails, so much so that I think even my fish were scared.   We finished,  laying there panting and laughing on my sleeping bag.

And that’s when I started to hear voices.   Clear as a bell:

“Did you hear that?”  

“Yeah I think they’re done.”

“She must’ve enjoyed it.”

I look above me, and less than a foot above our laying heads is the vent for the central air.  Normally these vents are well above any normal activity going on in a room, but with the height of my loft… it put us right at face level to the vents.  In fact at one point she was mashed up right against the vent, her fingers interlocking into the grate.   I can hear voices, their laughter clear as day, as if they were sitting right across from us.  Obviously if we could hear them… they could hear us.

Drunk Dial

There are these funny stories in my head of happenstance encounters and stupid things I’ve done, that I probably should put down to the page before they get lost in the tumbling shuffle of my mind.  Flashback to about four months ago:

So  it’s two o’clock in the morning, and the bar is closing.  I’m that perfect amount of intoxicated where I still want to go out and hang out, but I’m not entirely, absolutely, one-hundred-percent in control of all my faculties.  There’s this girl that I’ve been seeing for the past few weeks, and every once in a while I give her a call and we hang out.  Sometimes we play backgammon, sometimes we just stare out at the stars and have deep introspective conversations.

Tonight feels like a backgammon kind of night.  So I scroll through my phone and give her a ring.

“Hullo…?” I can hear her hoarse voice through the speaker as she rubs the sleep from her eyes.

“Hey there, beautiful.”  I purr.

“Haha what?  I think you have the wrong number.”   Her voice sounds familiar.  But something is… not quite right.

“What are you wearing?”  I slur.

“None of your business.  You’ve got the wrong number.” the voice on the other line crackles like tinfoil in the microwave.  Yep something is definitely wrong here.  I feel a momentary sense of dread, akin to what a Meerkat must feel moments before it is snapped up by the hungry maw of an apex predator.

“Kira?”  It’s a question shot into the black expanses of space.  A life preserver cast into the ever growing void of my own confusion.

“Yes.”  she answers impatiently.

I know this voice, but something just… isn’t meshing.  And I am either too drunk or too stupid to figure it out.  Like when you’re having an amazing dream where you’re fighting off the bad guys and saving the princess and right when you’re about to kiss her she turns into your Great Aunt Gertrude.

And suddenly it all clicks.

I peel my phone away from my burning cheek and stare down at the screen.  Y’know how they say a cold shower or a hot cup of coffee is a good way to sober up after a night of drinking?  I’ve found a better solution.

This was not the girl I play backgammon with at two o’clock in the morning.    No no no, this was my old Bosses wife; a kindly middle-aged woman who I worked with at my old restaurant job. The woman who was always making sure I ate enough vegetables with  my employee meal.  The woman who constantly gave  me relationship advice on how to find a “nice girl” instead of a “crazy one”.  The woman whose kids I helped with their homework during downtime,  and helped unsnarl their bike chains so they could ride around in endless looping circles in the parking lot behind the building.  She was part Mother figure, part mentor, part all around nice lady.  And I…

(in all my infinite wisdom and clarity)

… just drunk dialed her at 2am.

She and the other “Kira” both had the same first name, and their last names were almost identical save for two letters.  Easy to notice sober, especially easy to miss drunk.

*Click*  I hang up as fast as I can.  Maybe she’ll think this was all a dream. Any alcohol left in my system has been quickly purged and replaced by the swift flow of embarrassment coursing through my veins, side effects including a painful awareness of each agonizing second and syllable I spent on the phone making an ass of myself.   Even if she doesn’t remember it, my name and number will still show up in her caller ID log.  Gah.

– – – –

It’s eleven o’clock in the morning the next day when my phone rings.  Mother-Hen-Kira is calling.

“Hey Kira, I’m so sorry…”  I stammer, even though she is miles away my hands shield my face in shame.

“It was very nice hearing from you last night.”  She begins.  “How have you been?”

She asks me about work. She asks me if I’ve been eating my vegetables.  She tells me about how before there were cell phones, boys would actually have to call a girl at her house, so when a boy drunk-dialed, usually it was a pissed off father answering the phone instead.  And suddenly, all my face-palming-shame is washed away.

“Next time, maybe don’t call so late.  Be a good boy.”  The conversation ends.

I am an idiot.  But at least I’m an idiot with good people in my life.

Bump it with:

The Fire Starting-Pencil-Fighting-Super-Saiyan

pencil fight
(Best stock photo, ever)

Every relationship lately feels like a game of emotional-pencil-fight.  I take what I fundamentally am’ and hold it between my hands.  *whack* you take a nice hearty swing.  Then you do the same, grasping your smooth polished veneer, pulled taught’ over your tender timber and graphite bones. I lean in close and I take a big overhead chop.  *whack*  I just can’t settle without testing your mettle.

Because I’m terrified that I’ll lash my hobbled-heart to you, and somewhere down the line you’ll need to shoulder some of my burden I’ll discover you crumble under the weight of my uneasy gait.  So instead I instigate– I set a fire to see how quickly you immolate.  Wait!  stop drop and roll, and soldier-crawl to the nearest exits.  Do you touch the handles for heat, or do you kick down doors and hopefully… escape?  How long can you hold your breath?  How well do you perform under duress?  These are things I need to know.

I am the Fire-Starting-Pencil-fighting-Super-Saiyan.  Each encounter leaving me a little more battered, but a little more true.  A little less prim-and-polish-“yellow #2” and a bit more wood and grit.   But if you get to the core of things, I promise you’ll see what makes me write.  And I’ll scribble both our names and circle them a thousand times.  I am the Fire-Starting-Pencil-fighting-Super-Saiyan.  But clearly there’s nothing super about me.

Except maybe my hair.

Bump it with:

Dating at the Speed of Life

I’ve decided to exhaust every possibility of finding”the one”.  To say yes to more things, to take more risks and to be open minded, knowing that finding You, may no longer be the strait and narrow path I imagined as a boy, but some per-chance-happenstance unexpected twist of date.

So… I signed up for an evening of speed dating.  All I’ve known of speed dating, is what I’ve seen in the movies and on television.  It’s always some comical plot point:


So in truth I had no idea what to expect.  I get to Bar 35, and the back area is partitioned off for a private event.  The place is beautiful, the right mix of dimly lit atmosphere and interesting architecture.  A tiki-styled bar with pseudo-thatch roofing.  A raised area with low booths and chic’ glass tables, counters and high stools lining all the walls and bamboo.   High surfaces and low tables, open spaces and closeness, organic expansiveness and solid brick and mortar.  I make a mental note to add this to my list of places to bring a date… assuming it’s not a girl I meet here.

bar35

IMG_20150319_190619

The hostess greets me warmly.  I give her my name and she gives me a name tag.  She asks me if I have a preferred nickname, and I wisely decide against “Optimis Prime” for the evening.   I look around and  I notice there is just one other guy standing there holding a beer awkwardly.  Yikes, I’m too early.  Should’ve hung out in my car and sung more karaoke.    But I’m already here.  At least it gives me more time to acclimate to the situation.  So I start chatting up lone-guy-with-a-beer.

“What’s your name?”

He hesitates.

“JP.”

“It say’s Patrick on your name tag.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Where does the J come from?”

“Umm…

“So what do you do? ”  I ask him.

“I work at a hotel. ”

“What do you do there. ”

“Just… hotel stuff.”

I hope you’re slightly more forthcoming when ladies talk to you. I suspect he is some sort of janitor.

More people begin to trickle in.  Guys, one by one, looking frightened and overwhelmed, and girls in pairs or trios clinging to each other for safety like gazelles entering the lion’s den.  I introduce myself to everyone.  People start forming into protective huddles of conversation.  I  wander aimlessly, never staying one spot for too long.  Like oil separating from water, the crowd inevitably shifts with all the guys panning to one side, and all the girls to another.  It’s beginning to look like a freshman dance.  I point this out to the guys, and they chuckle nervously.

Finally everyone arrives.  Thirteen girls and thirteen guys, and lucky me I’m starting on table thirteen.  I love it.  The hostess explains the rules of speed dating: each person has seven minutes with their date, at the sound of the bell it means there is one minute left.  Each person has a card; if you like the person you’re chatting with check yes, and if they check yes for you then your contact info will be exchanged the next day.  So paper-and-pencil-Tinder.  Got it.

And we’re off!

It’s funny, how you can boil down what a person is, into five short minutes.  It’s funnier still, how after saying this abridged version of who I am over and over I begin to question what it is exactly I’m doing with my life.

“I’m a manager/server at a restaurant.  Kinda fancy-ish… steaks, pork chops, beef cheeks.  Have you ever had beef cheeks before?  It helps if the cow smiles a lot…”

“I’m writing a Vampire novel.  It’s about how being 200 years old and hanging out at a high school makes you a pedophile, not a teen heart-throb…”

Everybody is extremely nice and polite.  No weirdos, no psychopaths, no crazy cat lady like on TV.  Everybody is strangely normal.  As I’m on my third or fourth “date”, I begin to get the sneaking suspicion that I’m the weirdo, the hyperbolic characterization of comical-crude and intrusive-incarnate: I’m the one asking the workplace safety inspector what’s the most horrific injury she’s ever seen.  Limbs?  Toes?  Noses?   I’m the one asking the civil engineer is there some conspiratory plot to keep the roads in disrepair so the people who repair roads are forever employed?  And I’m the one starting the date with, “Hey let’s do shots!”  Well I did that one time, as she recoiled in horror, clutching her water to her chest, and squeaking out a tepid, “No thank you”, as if I had offered her rat poison.

And the I met The Ringer.

What happens if somebody has zero matches?  Thirteen new potential loves-of-your-life in the span of two hours and nobody likes you back.   That must be a soul-crushing realization: out of all these strangers– nobody likes you.  Nanny nanny boo boo.  But it must happen, I’m sure.  There must be a way to give each person at least one “match” so they can walk away from the experience with positive feelings and a sense of hope.

This girl was gorgeous.  Prettier and more put together than most of the other girls at the event.  She sat with an air of confidence, with her back leaning against the wall and her chin tilted in the air.  Why didn’t I see her earlier?   She had spent most of her time chatting with the hostess of the event.  That was my first clue.

We start chatting and she’s friendly and charismatic.  I ask her questions about herself, and she keeps giving me short, concise responses before turning the questions back on to me.  I can’t really figure out too much about her, but she seems interested in me.  Like really interested.  I feel the spark of hope ignite in my stomach.  I begin to imagine standing at the end of a long aisle as she slowly approaches me in a white dress with her face veiled and our friends and family on either side.  I imagine how our children would look.  I imagine her naked.  Okay, maybe I imagined that first.  But still.

The Long Aisle
(Funny how in my own imagination I still create the girliest of weddings)

 

I start talking about vampires, and she doesn’t recoil in horror.  She doesn’t burst into peals of laughter either.  She just says, in a very soothing and encouraging voice “Oh that’s very nice.  I think you’ll do very well”  Or something to that effect.  It’s reminiscent of  being in pre-school and showing the teacher my finger paintings, and she ooh’s and aah’s over how good it is.  Up until this point I was lapping up all the good feeling and encouragement, but this sits funny with me.

I start giving her all the gory details of my writing.

“He doesn’t survive by biting people on the neck, no instead he tricks high school girls into letting him go down on them on their period…”

“Oh and there’s another vampire, she looks twelve and all she does is spend all day masturbating and luring men to the house to eat– Chris Hansen style…”

She doesn’t flinch.  She’s not grossed out.  But she doesn’t get excited the way fans of my work do either.  She just endures it, like a power point presentation on the migratory habits of the red breasted finch.   At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve tanked any chance of getting a second date with this girl.  My mouth has a way of doing that.  I’m trying to come up with more ways to weird her out when the bell rings, and I’m off to the next table.

– – – –

I go through more people.  I’ve got my canned questions down now, and I’m hitting a cadence and a stride with these dates.  Ask her about that thing she just said.  Okay laugh now at her joke.  Okay now a funny anecdote.  What does she do again?  Oh crap.  Ask her about hiking, and waterfalls…

Everybody is polite.  Everybody is nice.   But nobody is that right mix of proverbial freaky-fuzzy to stick to my wall of emotional Velcro.  They just roll down the side and are soon forgotten as soon as that bell rings.

– – – –

Finally  I’m at my last table.    I’ve had three beers so I’m at that right mix of honest and brave, but with no bathroom break, so I’m just waiting to make a mad dash to the restroom.  This girl is cute, with an easygoing smile.

“Drinking Guinness?”  She asks me as I sit next to her.

“Yeah how’d you know?”

“I’m a bartender.”

“I’m an alcoholic.”

“We’re going to get along great.”

What unfolds is perhaps my most genuine conversation of the evening.  No canned material.  No pre-conceived questions.  We just talked about beer, and the service industry.  Heck, I didn’t even ask her who her favorite Disney princess was.  Maybe it’s because I had to pee so badly, but time has snarled to a slow crawl.  I’m literally hanging on her every word, each syllable one second that separates me from that blissful stream of urine exiting my body in a torrential hiss.  I’m torn between my urge to soak her up like a sponge, and my urge to unload like said sponge twisted and wrung dry.

The bell rings.  I thank her for a lovely evening and make a mad dash from my seat.  When I return the hostess is giving everyone directions on how to fill out their cards.  Check anyone you want to talk to again.  At the end of the night I checked three yes boxes.  The Ringer, The Bartender, and one engineering girl who was mousy and boring, but had really nice big pair of… eyes.

I hang out for a bit.  So does the Bartender.  We sit we talk and we laugh.  I offer to buy her a drink.  She says she’s got a long drive home, but she hopes to see me again soon.  That’s got to be a good sign, right?

IMG_20150319_212447

– – – –

I got my emailed results the next day:

The Bartender and the Ringer would like to hear from you again.

I’ve yet to reply to either.

Bump it with:

Language Barrier

So… I went on a date a few weeks ago with a girl from Japan.  Her English was limited, And  I– I am a word man; my ability to talk has always been my golden ticket to making any progress with the opposite backgammon… I mean sex. (that’ll be funny in a minute) Women don’t fall for the way I look, no they get lured by the sweet sugary saccharine supplication of my mouth.  I’m like that late night infomercial promising a better life for only three easy installments of $29.95, you don’t need me, heck you don’t even want me, but when you hear how I can saw through a block of cement as well as tomatoes for the hundredth time, eventually someone reaches for the phone.

Without my words, I am a turtle without its shell, I am Iron Man without his really fancy high tech… goatee, and things get boring really quickly.  So instead of talking I was uncharacteristically animated and charismatic, overly so to make up for my lack of words.  Physical comedy, dancing, lots of close body contact.  And somehow, I managed to stumble from just a really good date into the guest bedroom of our friend’s place for some… well let’s call it “playing backgammon”

So we’re, “playing backgammon”.  And things are getting hot and heavy as “playing backgammon” is wont to do.  Now, I think “playing backgammon” is such a raw and primal thing, that we as human beings just resort back to our most basic and natural tenancies.  For me, this means grinning stupidly from ear to ear like a nine year old the first time I found playboys at the park during soccer practice… for her this meant speaking Japanese.

So as we’re “playing backgammon” she whispers, “Iku…”

I don’t say anything.

She whispers it again, “Iku…”

Oh crap, is she asking me a question?  I’m not sure.  I’ve heard this before somewhere.

“Iku…”  she purrs, her hot backgammon breath panting on my chest.

“Yes?” I respond meekly.

God I hope that was a question.  She kisses me.  Okay, maybe it was a question?  Think man.  Think…  Oh!   know.  I’ll just say exactly what she’s saying.  I’ll be like a sexy parrot.

“Iku”  I whisper sensually.  She squares her hips away from me and pushes her body upright on the pillows.

Oh shit.  Okay not that.  Don’t say that.  She can say it, but I shouldn’t.  Maybe it’s a gender thing?  What if I just told her, “I have really good lady backgammon parts?”

We resume our game of backgammon at a rhythmic pace.

“Iku…”

I nod.  But it’s dark, so I don’t think she can see my nodding.  I kiss her.  Yeah that’ll stall her.  If I could get to my phone, I could look this up.  Is that… squid? Like the dried squid in the clear package?   Really dude?  Why would she be talking about food during a time like this?  I dunno… tentacles.  Something about tentacles.  

She runs her hands through my hair, catching fistfuls on either side of my head before moaning, “Kimochi…”

Kimchi?  Wait more food?  Oh wait, she’s Japanese not Korean.  And why do I think she’s talking about food while we’re “playing backgammon”

“Kimochi…” her nails dig into my shoulders.  I really hope she can’t see me in the darkness, because I know I have that scrunched befuddled look on my face, like I might be having stroke.

My mind flashes through a thousand images of Japanese pictures and videos archived somewhere in the wasted caverns of my memory, where math, the periodic table of elements, and basic geography, once resided.  Dragonball?  No that doesn’t help.  Attack on Titan?  No.  But we’re getting closer.   Something about school girls and tentacle monsters?  I need to change my Internet viewing habits.  Why didn’t I pay more attention in school?  Who knew the Japanese I squandered away in college could result in a bad “backgammon ” performance years later?

Pixels.  Something to do with blurry pixels.

Aha!  I know where I’ve heard this before.  Watching professional “backgammon” on the Internet.

I am gross.  But hey, knowledge is power.

Bump it with:

Blind Date: Now You See Me… Now You Don’t.

I walked out on a blind date.

I think this might’ve been the single most asshole thing I’ve done since I’ve been single.Ten  minutes in, I just realized “nope this isn’t for me” and there was no pleasant way to say all that without needing a significant amount of explanation, so I just walked out, got into my car, and drove off.  This may need a little back story and explanation to really understand the whole experience.

So I’m semi-active on two dating sites, Tinder and OKCupid. While on OKCupid matches people on algorithms and levels of compatibility, Tinder pretty much boils down to:

“Does your face want to fuck their face?

[  ] Yes
[  ] No”

And for the most part my response to this is,  “Meh… what the hell.”  I read somewhere that the way to optimize dating with Tinder is to just like every single person’s picture, which statistically expands your dating pool to everyone who likes your picture, and from there you can prune down your matches to people you actually like, all while getting a slight ego boost from the ones you un-match.  So I do that.  Because maths.

Tinder Unicorn
Unmatched.

This girl, was a Tinder girl.  Our conversation was very light and easy at first.  We talk about beer, and about our careers and any number of that small chit chat people do. Within the first day, she was already talking about meeting up.  Suddenly I became acutely aware of that slow sneaking, heavy musky reek of desperation.  Most girls exercise a bit of caution before meeting with a stranger, y’know there are crazies and serial killers on the Internet too.  Heck, I’ve had to submit a credit report, a blood sample, and a carfax before getting to go on a first date, (not literally, but you get the picture).

But she was completely gung-ho: “Hey stranger I just met on the internet, and know inherently nothing about aside from a picture and a little blurb about yourself (remember this, because it will become important later)… lets meet up!”

That was red flag number one.

I’m off the next day, and she’s been pleasant so far and again she asks me if I want to meet up… I figure heck why not. So we start figuring out where to go for dinner, and she begins rattling off the names of a few high end sushi places in the area. And now I’m thinking to myself, I like her, but I don’t necessarily $150 worth of dinner and drinks like her… maybe not even $75 and a Groupon.  Which to me should have been a good warning that subconsciously, I was already trying to minimize my losses, like a part of me had already made up my mind how much I wanted to date this girl, and that monetary sum was somewhere between ramen and happy hour.

That was red flag number two.

So we settle on a ramen shop that’s in the area.  And as I’m driving over I get a series of three texts from her almost simultaneously.

“Oh by the way, I don’t drive.”
“Can you pick me up from work? ”
“Oh and I picked up juice for my dad because he’s sick.  Can we drop it off to him afterwards?”

Christ, I’m not a taxi cab.  Again, I should’ve trusted my gut.  Because instead of feeling like I was given the opportunity to curry favor with my potential future father-in-law, I’m feeling irritated and used.  I google her work place, and it’s two blocks from the ramen shop.  How hard is it to walk two blocks?   Wait what’s that guts?  More foreshadowing of the impending doom to come?

That was red flag number three.

So I get to her work place, and inside are two male patrons, and a girl behind the counter and another girl leaning on the counter from the opposite side.  It’s in these first few seconds, I realize– I’ve been duped.

– – – –

Now I will be the first to admit that my profile pictures on these dating sites show me in the most advantageous light.  It’s the picture where my hair looks awesome, and my chin looks chiseled, and for some reason my biceps look extremely ripped like I was lugging telephone poles around all day.  It’s the picture where I’m at the top of a mountain, or skydiving, or surrounded by a bunch of friends.  But in truth, I’m not that muscular, I hike infrequently, I’ve been skydiving twice and I screamed like a girl the first time (and most of the second time too), and I don’t really hang out with people that often because… well I’m an insufferable dick.  My profile pictures are a glossy, hyper-saturated representation of my life, but for the most part that is me.  If you see me walking down the street, and someone where to show you my profile picture, you would recognize that it was clearly me.

I will also be the first to admit, I’m a shallow person.  I know what type of girl I find physically attractive, and I know what type of girl I find physically un-attractive.  The media has attempted to guilt men into believing liking one type of shape over another is somehow a form of shameful discrimination, but honestly it’s like getting mad at someone for saying their favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip instead of rocky road.  You can’t argue or reason why you like one more than the other… you just do.  And in the grand scheme of things there are people who really love themselves some rocky road, so by all means more for them.   As for me, I know what I like and I know what I don’t like– and I like mint chocolate chip.

But… what I got was a gallon tub of cookie dough, with a bunch of red warning flags sticking out the top like she was a double black diamond ski slope.

Looking back, her first few profile pictures were strategically cropped photos of just her face and cleavage,  so I already knew she was a bigger girl coming in to this.  But her third or fourth picture was a slightly out of focus shot of all of her her doing some sort of cheerleader-esque pose in a t-shirt and shorts.  Not quite big, more like Penny from Big Bang Theory when she puffed up a bit in the later seasons.  (which coincidentally, is how I figure out how far along into the series I am when I’m catching a random episode) That’s who I was expecting to meet today.  In retrospect, that was probably an old high school or college photo, at least five years and fifty pounds ago.

The Bait     And Switch
The bait…                                              …and switch.

You lied.  That’s my first thought.  I’m not angry that she’s big, I’m angry that what little information I know about this girl, has been falsified.  That picture was you at some point, but it’s definitely not you now.  You know what you look like.  You see you in the mirror every day, and that picture, is – not –  you.  That little picture, that little blurb… it’s the twist of the truth; it’s an omission and misrepresentation of facts.  I’m reminded of the days of picture brides, where middle aged women would send a picture of themselves in high school, but by the time they arrived, “ha ha too late Husband, I already here.”  I’ve been tricked.

I lock eyes with her.  She looks away and busies herself.

“Hi” I say.
“Hi.” she says back.

And I stand there awkwardly.  At this point I’m already committed to the date.  I said I would do it so I’m going to do it, pride, wallet, time, and happiness be damned.  She makes no effort to continue the conversation, and resumes talking with the girl across the counter.

So I walk five feet off and flop down in a chair by the door, fumbling with my phone absently.  Maybe she’s busy.  Time passes, and I’m stuck sitting in this chair ever aware of each passing second and the growing discomfort in my guts.  What else has she been dishonest about?  What else will she be dishonest about?  “daddy’ is just the nickname of my drug dealer, and ‘juice’ is what we call our meth, you didn’t ask” or  “You asked if I had AIDS, technically I only had HIV… should’ve been more specific”

I look over at her.  There is so much more of her to look at than I was expecting.  Am I an ass?  Yes I am an ass.  But still… I am an honest ass, with an ass the same size as my picture.  She makes no effort to end her conversation with the girl at the counter.  I stand up again, and walk over to the register.  I hover there awkwardly, like a fourth grader trying to find the right moment to interrupt the teacher from correcting papers at her desk, before returning to my seat unacknowledged yet again.  I’m still willing to bite the bullet and take her out for some food and chock it up to poor reconnaissance on my part.  All she had to do was say something.  Just make some eye contact– something!

I saunter back to my chair.  It’s at this point my guts I’ve been suppressing all this time, begin to take over.  Like a trapped animal, the fight or flight instinct begins to take over me.  Maybe I can pretend like I didn’t see her in there, because I was looking for a girl half her size like in her pictures.  Ha ha.  Yeah that’s fucked up.  Is it?  But if I had told her I was 8′ 2″ and she didn’t see me because I’m actually 5’7″, that would be the same thing right?  All I want to do is not be here, not in this uncomfortable awkward situation with this person I am beginning to resent more with each passing second.  Maybe tell her I’m sick?  Tell her something came up?  A family emergency?  I don’t want to drive extra to give her dad juice, or meth, or whatever it is.  

And then a turning point.

Fuck it.

…I don’t need to spend the next hour talking to someone that I already don’t like.

So I stood up, and I walked out.

And that might’ve been the worst thing I’ve ever done on a date.  And I’m pretty sure the Universe  will be punishing me soon.

Bump it with:

Shallow Waters

“Shallow” is such a funny word.  We write off people for being shallow, for not having more depth and dimensions, or for not digging for meaning and significant layers of character in others.  Because a “shallow” person keeps everything on the surface, and is looking for everything on the surface.  But when you really think about it, isn’t that just another way to describe… “Honest”?

Because honestly, I’m shallow.  And I embrace my shallowness as an intrinsic part of me.  I can use all the big words and read all the thick books I want, but at the end of the day I’m still googling  and ogling “big tits” and “skinny waists” and not “character” and “personality”.  Thank you Internet.

Because we can’t all be onions.  Some of us are just skin deep.  And that’s me.

Shallow Waters
“No Diving.  And No Deep Conversations.  And Don’t ask about Nietzsche.”

– – – –

I met this girl through Tinder.   And I knew right away she wasn’t like any other Tinder girls.  She was smart and articulate; she had a clever comeback to just about everything I said.  The written word flowed from her so quickly and spontaneously, I knew she wasn’t musing and mulling over her answers.  No she was lighting quick,  her thoughts manifesting as fire-from-the-hip quips.  And we exchanged volley after volley of clever turn of phrase, like a game where something is volleyed back and forth and back and forth in rapid succession.  Volley after Volley Like, with a ball… Like lacrosse.

I remember, I messaged her for the first time just as I lowered myself my hot bath to soak for the night.  And I typed and she typed.  I was still grinning and laughing  as our conversation filling up the memory of my phone even after the water had long gone cold.  And my pruned fingers stopped making my touch-screen work after awhile, but still I stayed not wanting to lose the glory of that evening.

She was amazing, and I had to meet her.  So five days and a lifetime of glowing-screen finger-roaming hours later we agreed to see each other face to face.

She was ordinary and comely, so much so that I walked right past her the way to our first date.  “Looks fade” my father always said, “find someone who you can have a good conversation with”  And in the grand chromatic scale of vibrant colorful girls… she landed somewhere between khaki and beige.  But once she opened her mouth, I was reminded of everything I was drawn to. She had a dry piercing wit and a near encyclopedic knowledge of all things movies, pop, culture, and TV.  So we had a lot to talk about.  Imagine an Asian Julia Stiles before she did that crappy escort series for Netflix.   More like, Julia Stiles when she did that dance movie with where Hip-Hop meets Ballet… and Hip-Hop doesn’t steal Ballet’s purse.   Damn, She would know exactly which movie I’m talking about.

2001_save_the_last_dance_005
“Oh noes, interracial dancing!”

So we dated.  Somehow I squeezed myself into the ill-fitting facade of a gentleman, where I didn’t get us liquored up and laid out on the first night, instead I was opening doors and we were holding hands, and the prospect of kissing her was something I strategically planned’ on the third date instead of my usual, blitz-kiss-do-or-die-dive-bombing-strafe attack.  And it worked.

Fighter-Pilot-and-Active-Shooter-Prevention-Advice
(pew pew pew… hormone missiles away!)

So after several dates, weeks, and a healthy grownup investment of time later, she comes back to my place.  And between the wine and the movie, and the hormones and the uncertainty, things get heavy and we begin a game of backgammon.

She was always wearing long pants and these flowing tops, like a cross between a poncho and maternity wear that seems to be so popular with girls these days.  So most of her was mostly covered most of the time.  But I felt like this always added to the allure, like a modern-day self-imposed body-burka of sorts.  And because I had been doing my best impression’ of a gentleman this whole time, I never tried to grope, poke, or magically David-cop-a-feel.  So I began to undress her, eager to explore the treasures beneath.  But as I removed each subsequent layer (notice how I’m alluding to my first paragraph about depth and shallowness here, because I’m fuckin’ clever and shit) I became more confused.

It was as if her body was a stage and once the curtains were raised, her bra and panties were a series of pulleys and straps designed to keep the scenery in place.  And once those came undone the sandbags and catwalks came tumbling to the ground.  She was a work of art, assembled from a mix of parts by a blind schizophrenic reading Ikea instructions in Chinese.  The worst was the hair.  She had a unkempt hedge of black curly brambles so thick and so deep that David Bowie was wandering around in it twirling glass orbs while rocking a codpiece.  Her tangled mass sprouted a long and winding misery-trail that traveled up and into the valley of her navel like a reverse Rapunzel… with Bran climbing his little unbroken-legs to the top to see incestuous siblings mid-coitus.  There were oddities and novelties of her naked body too numerous and confusing to explain.  Like, don’t you girls have meetings about these things?

broken stage
“Grooming?  Tweezers?  Exit, stage left.

She was always talking about “going to the gym” and “just leaving the gym” and “can’t hang out tonight because I’m at the gym” which only added to my confusion.  How could she be at the gym so often, but have what seemed to be… the opposite of results?  Was she battling gym leaders for badges while trying to Catch em’ All?  Or did Gym stand for something else entirely, like Generous Yogurt Man?  or Gravy, Yams, and Meat?

Fully clothed the next day’ we make plans for our next date.  Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was my lights I tell myself.  Maybe I was nervous, maybe it was all in my mind… Oh I know!  The beach!  Under the harsh truth of the sun all shall be revealed.  I pick her up a few days later, and the conversation in the car is great.  We laugh and we share.  And when we get there I’m elated and happy.  And we sit on the sand and she begins to strip…

Her sprawling mass of curly black brambles spilled out.  It peeked out of the corners of her bikini to greet me, with creeping tendrils climbing up her pale thighs eager to escape, no longer hidden in the shadows of my drunken bed but out in the open for the world to see.   And she waded out into the shallows beckoning me to join her, and I noticed the water turned her fuzzy patch into a waterlogged sponge, that hung and clung in a thickening mass of damp hair between her legs.  And I kept thinking, if she just went in a little deeper maybe I could forget it was there.

So I joined her in the water and she hugged me and our stomachs touched with hers meeting mine more than half way with just’ a little too much fuzz.   And her hairy pubic-pseudo-penis tucked into her bikini brushed against me.  And I… I couldn’t pretend to be a better man than I am.

She wasn’t polished or glossy.  She didn’t tilt her chin and angle her chest for pictures.  She didn’t wear makeup, or own any dresses.   She didn’t wax, she didn’t shave.  And all that plastic bubble gum pop, superficial surface that I profess to hate– I realized I secretly crave.  More than scintillating, stimulating, intellectually-titillating conversation.  More than an emotional fit.  And  didn’t want to change her.  So things ended.

Because I’m shallow.

I am shallow.

But I embrace that.

Bump it with:

Voldemort had the Right Idea

the-dark-lord-collection

I think Voldemort had the right idea.  Not the whole, evil-wizard-genocide- thing, but divvying his soul up into Horcruxes.  He split himself into seven different pieces, so no one singular event could ever destroy him in his entirety.  And while that may seem like an obvious ploy to stretch a four book series into seven, I think the sensibilities of He-that-must-not-be-named are pretty sound for the dating world.

Because when I review my life and I think about the moments that were most likely to kill me, aside from one bad car crash and that one distinct (but possibly fictional) memory I have as a child about almost falling into a volcano– the rest of them were all relationships.  It’s the post apocalypse of a failed relationship that was most likely to put a rope around my neck or a bunch of pills and whiskey in my belly.  And it’s silly and stupid now looking back on all that emotion or angst (thank you Xanga for saving all those fun memories), but at that time I was wrecked.  And I’m not the only one.  Everyone I talk to has some big battle-scar from where someone carelessly ripped their heart out.

And it’s silly, because we learn about love and dating completely the wrong way.  We’re taught at such an early age that there’s just one person out there, one person you fall in love with and marry and that’s it.  But that’s the over-simplified end result.  That’s the finish line of a very long and lonely journey; I’m talking Lord of the Rings three movies of walking just to get a ring… hey that movie makes sense on a dating level too!   Nobody ever bothered to explain that all the couples I saw growing up were the evolutionary survivors over many bad dates and dead ends.  They’re the finalists of the super-championship-playoffs-bowl of a very long bracket game of “dating, destruction, and dysfunction” (which coincidentally, sounds like a really great book title).  Parents never mention their crumpled-dance-cards, or sordid past because “mommy and daddy and a few other boyfriends and girlfriends before we met” is never a good bedtime story for anyone.

And all the books, tv, and movies aren’t any better.  They teach us that love is this magical absolute all or nothing event.  It either satisfies you completely, or destroys you entirely.  There is no middle ground.  You’re either standing in the pouring rain with a boombox raised high overhead, or walking down the aisle in a white dress, with the handsomely rugged man waiting at the end.  So we go through life throwing our whole hearts at other people, screaming “Love me, damn you!  Love me!”  And if that person isn’t throwing their heart at you, at the exact same time, with the exact same velocity– it ends like a really bad game of water balloon toss.  *Splat!!*

Because I really think Voldemort had it right.  Split your heart up, so no one person can kill you.  Everybody who has a possibility of happily-ever-after gets a piece of my heart (yes this includes you cute girl at the Gelato place).  And if you fuck it up, well you get your piece taken away, and I remain more or less intact.  But if you do well, eventually you get a bigger piece.  And eventually, one girl is left holding all the pieces… like the end of a really long Monopoly game where she has Boardwalk AND Park Place, and everyone else just has a railroad and one of the purple properties.

I still want the forever and happily ever after do-or-die romance, but at least now I have a system where I can figure out if she’s worth the dying part.   Because I’m not expecting anyone to give me their heart lump-sum anymore.  But I haven’t given up hope, that eventually I’m going to have all of someone’s pieces, and they’ll have all of mine.  Like Backgammon.

Love is like Backgammon.

Bump it with: