Archive for February, 2012

My First Visitor

February 28, 2012

Jill, the woman I’d met at that party a few weeks back, and I had only met up once since our initial marathon date.  She’d been busy with work and I moving but when we finally touched base she seemed excited to get together again.

“I’d love to see your new place, why don’t you have me over for dinner.” she suggested.

I loved her forwardness but feared the concept.  A woman for dinner?  I’d never done that before and it doesn’t sound easy, particularly since I own one pot and a pan with no handle.  Moreover, I only cook omelets and that doesn’t seem very dinner-like (although I’m not above it).  And what if she spends the night, do I make her another omelet in the morning?

As the day arrived and pressure mounted, I wandered Whole Foods looking for inspiration when I discovered God’s gift to men: the prepared food section.  I told the woman behind the counter I desperately needed help and she hooked me up— olives and cheese with a fresh baguette to start, then veal piccata, mixed veggies, roasted potatoes and some sort of bean salad (“Trust me, she’ll love it.” I was assured).  It looked like a real meal.  I was so proud I took a picture and posted it online when I got home, choosing to disregard the fact that all I did was pay for it.

With dinner magically ready, I set the table with my eclectic dish collection, found some music online (since all I listen to is U2 and Tom Petty, I picked an “indie artist” channel to appear more hip) and waited to impress.

The doorbell rang…  yikes, my first guest ever!  Relax, Michael, that’s when you’re at your best. I opened the door and got nervous again.  Jill looked awesome, jeans and a white button down shirt with a few buttons open, tank top underneath and running shoes.  (She’d worn running shoes every time we’d hung out so far and I loved that.)

“Happy house warming!” she announced as she handed me the bottle of wine.

“Great!” I bellowed.

Calm down, Michael, you’re shouting.

“It’s Chilean.” she continued.

Not knowing much about wine other than there’s red and white and I like both, I nodded in agreement, afraid to speak again until I resolved my volume issue.

After a quick apartment tour, I sat her in the bed/living room and set off for the kitchen to open the bottle.

That’s when it dawned on me, I don’t own wine glasses— I only have pints “borrowed” from pubs and a coffee cup.  Even worse, I didn’t own a corkscrew.  Not good.  The date was 3 minutes old and I’m already in a jam.  Must open wine.

In full stress mode, I took a knife and started stabbing at the cork, hoping to somehow impale it on the knife and pull it out of the bottle.  If you’ve tried this, you know it doesn’t work.  Instead, pieces of cork shot all over the kitchen so I changed strategies, grabbed a screwdriver and tried to dig the cork out in little pieces.  This failed, too, but I did notice the cork sinking further into the bottle— perhaps I could push it in completely and dribble the wine out around it?  I took a big stab and missed completely, spearing the counter.

“Everything OK?” she called in. I was making grunting noises.

“Great!” I answered with unwarranted enthusiasm given the circumstances.

I jabbed at the cork a second time and nailed it. Pushing with my palm, it inched down and whoomp, dropped in!

Dribbling wine into a pint glass, I discovered my next problem: the wine now had tiny cork shards floating throughout. Trying to spoon the cork bits out of the glass proved impossible but just then a box of coffee filters caught my eye and inspiration struck.  I placed a filter in a pint glass and poured in some wine.  As the wine slowly dripped into the glass I set up another wine filtration system and waited.

“Do you need any help?”, she asked.

I had been in the kitchen a while.

“Just checking on dinner!” I squeaked.

I opened and closed the oven a few times to back up my story.

“I like this music!” she called in, “Who is it?”

“Uh, I don’t remember the name.” I replied meekly.

How did I get here?  I just wanted to have a nice date in my new place and ten minutes in I’m dripping sweat and sifting wine through coffee filters.  But then I glanced down… the glasses were full!  I took a sip… no cork!

I entered the room victoriously clutching two pints of wine, announced my wine glasses broke when I moved and, silly me, I hadn’t replaced them.  How unrefined!  Jill chuckled, we toasted and the night went perfectly from there.  At least until she suggested we save the cork as a souvenir.


My Own Place

February 21, 2012

At last I had my own apartment and, while hardly luxurious, I loved it.  True to NYC living, the shower was in the kitchen and toilet in the hallway– as in not in the apartment.  To use it you needed to get appropriately dressed, get the key like you’re at a gas station and go down the hall to a little locked closet.

The guy who lived there before me sold the bathroom situation as a positive for women.  “They like the privacy”, he explained.  It has been my experience that he’s incorrect or at least dated very different women than me.

Another quirk, the 110 year old building had limited electricity so if you turn on more than two big things at once the power goes out.  To avoid blowing fuses, I often used candles instead of lamps which has caused more than one misunderstanding when I have company.

Despite the discomforts, moving in made me feel like a man– up there with getting my driver’s license and the first time I bought beer.  I was graduating from “post college” to an adult, at least in my mind.

“Guys like nice things— just not enough to make things nice.” – My Brother

Between living at my parents, in my office and various sublets, I’d never been charged with decorating an adult living space from scratch.  The first thing I discovered about living alone:  anything you want done is up to you to do.  (Suddenly those annoying “painting party” invites made more sense.)  This realization quickly led me to revise my project list— eliminating things like “refinish floors” and “sand molding to original wood” (my dad’s idea anyway, I was never on board).  The new list started and stopped with “paint ugly maroon walls”.  And even then I debated if I could live with the “redrum” motif, ultimately deciding to paint for the sake of potential female visitors.

From there, my decorating strategy became “comfortable enough that women won’t be afraid to come over” to which my brother added, “but not so comfortable they won’t leave.”  (He’s a charmer.)  Every other flaw got fixed creatively.  Hole in the wall?  Put up a poster.  Hole in the floor?  That’s where the lamp goes.

My place settled, I needed stuff to put in it– utensils, furniture… actually everything.  My mom enthusiastically offered to help me shop as having no daughters left her desperate for this kind of activity.  I usually tried to indulge her but not this time.

“I’m not buying anything.” I announced.

My parents had accumulated hundreds of sheets over the years and had enough spare dishes to open a restaurant.  My brother had a couch in storage, my grandma an extra table— I had access to everything I needed to fill an apartment and even decided I’d be doing them all a favor by helping them de-clutter.

So my apartment became a hodge podge of items from the last three decades, a Pacman pillow case on flannel sheets, my great aunt’s arm chair from 1950, the old (and ridiculously heavy) TV from our den.  Sure the place looked odd but living in Greenwich Village I passed it off as ‘vintage’.  Who wants a matching bedroom set from some generic furniture store anyway?  That kind of symmetry creeps me out.

Besides, using a lifetime of family items seemed a more creative ode to my roots than putting some staged family portrait on the wall.  My place became sort of a Somerville museum— on one visit I swear I even saw my dad reminiscing by his old bureau.

My mom, on the other hand, cringed her first visit, “It doesn’t bother you that your sheets don’t match?”

“Not at all, my eyes are closed when I’m using them.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2012

Ah, Valentine’s Day– a chance for guys to show that special someone just how they feel.  But these days some relationships are hard to define and often times a store bought greeting card doesn’t fit the bill.  So to help those guys searching for the perfect words, I created a one size fits all love letter suitable to any relationship— be it the love of your life, booty call or that secret coworker crush.  Just follow the directions and enjoy the rewards!

Dear (insert her name here),

I just want you to know how much I enjoy having you in my (circle one): LIFE / BED / CUBICLE.  No one has ever made me feel quite like this— when your name comes up on my phone I GET BUTTERFLIES / HIGH FIVE MY FRIENDS / SPILL MY COFFEE and I get chills when you HOLD ME / DON’T WEAR UNDERWEAR / WEAR JEANS ON CASUAL FRIDAY.

I could get lost in your (FILL IN HER EYE COLOR, IF UNKNOWN, WRITE “AMAZING”) eyes and wonder how you manage to look so beautiful WHEN YOU FIRST WAKE UP / AT 2AM / IN OFFICE LIGHTING.  At the risk of sounding silly, you make me want to BE A BETTER MAN / GET A KING SIZE BED / WORK OVERTIME.

I will never forget the day you asked me if I AM HAPPY / LIKE THONGS / WANTED ANYTHING FROM THE DELI.  That meant the world to me.  But our relationship is so much more– you taught me how to LOVE MYSELF / UNHOOK A BRA WITH ONE HAND / USE THE COPY MACHINE and for that I will be forever grateful.

So on this special day I want to say thank you for LOVING ME / GETTING THAT BRAZILIAN / NOT TRANSFERRING DEPARTMENTS .



Can Men and Women Just Be Friends?

February 9, 2012

One night around 2am, I awoke to someone crawling into my bed. It was my roommate, Paige, wearing nothing but underwear.

“Hi.” She said.

“Are you OK?” I managed, groggy and confused.

“Great, how are you?”

“OK…” I responded, trying to ascertain the situation. She smelled like cocktails, I quickly caught on.

“I’ve been wondering… what you’re like…” she half-whispered, running a freezing cold hand across my chest.

I started laughing, a nervous response that’s caused more trouble than it’s solved over the years. I tried to redirect the conversation with a joke– another bad habit.

“You live with me, you know what I’m like!”

Her hands continued seductively as I lay there rigid. A few seconds passed. It was quiet.

“Do you want me to leave?” she inquired, likely sensing my paralysis.

I didn’t want her to stay, at least not under these conditions, but was too polite to say so. A thousand thoughts raced through my mind— mention her boyfriend, tell jokes until she falls asleep, waking up to a naked woman is fun…

Then, amidst all these thoughts, came a sudden realization: I liked her. And not just because she was lying next to me practically naked. For all my talk of respect and friendship, underneath the surface I was attracted to her. Her sarcasm cracked me up, her enthusiasm for life was addictive… and I knew the real her, not the face she presented the world. Because we’d been so trusting as roommates I think I suppressed these feelings. But here we were, both half dressed and half of us drunk…

Only one thing stopped me– not knowing what she’d remember. How much did she drink? Would she be mad that I didn’t stop her? If we really liked each other this didn’t have to happen right now… I cursed my sense of responsibility.

“You should get some sleep.” I said, trying not to sound patronizing while reaching over and moving the hair from her eyes– which was kinda patronizing.

She let out a light sigh.

“You’re too nice.” she announced, seconds before her first snore. That word had never sounded so insulting.

I awoke at 6am, alone, and went to the bathroom. Paige’s bedroom door was closed. I considered peaking in to make sure she was alright– and having second thoughts– but instead went to bed.

Our schedules were such that we didn’t see each other for the next two days and, when we did, Paige’s boyfriend was over. Seeing him annoyed me (suddenly I was competitive) but I put on my best face.

That Friday, I had a date with a woman I’d met at a party two weeks prior. We went out for drinks and she wound up spending the night.  We spent Saturday morning drinking coffee in my room and laughing. Paige was home, at least until I heard the front door slam.

The apartment quickly broke up soon after. Paige decided to follow her boyfriend cross country, a sudden decision that bothered me more than I let on. I’d just realized how much I cared about her yet now didn’t even feel comfortable in the same room.

Neither of us addressed our situation and a good friendship was lost.

After this, I concluded that men and women can only be friends after the issue of sex gets resolved. Whether a.) you’ve had it or b.) acknowledged you never will, the topic needs to be settled in both parties minds. (And it doesn’t need to be settled, or even discussed, together.) But when it remains an unsettled curiosity it can flare up given the right kindling. Paige and I never addressed it— we flirted with it, didn’t act and, other than a half-hearted hug goodbye, never spoke again.

I decided to move out as well. My next apartment and where I still live now would be the mother ship— my own place. I even signed a lease, albeit with a clause I could cancel at any time with 30 days’ notice.  Baby steps.