Wednesday, July 29, 2009

S.O.S-- Save Our Style

Dear Reader:

I need your help more than ever before. This is an impassioned plea-- please, help me. Help me not really screw up this whole thing I have going on by wearing the wrong thing. Dig into your fashion sense reserves and tell me: if I see Perfect tomorrow for the first time since the first week of July the day at the Mills when everything was wonky in person, what do I wear?

Here are the choices and my thinking behind them:

In one corner, I have a short and form-fitting teal cotton t-shirt dress that's made a little more casual by its pockets. I cinch it at the waist with a braided gold belt to give me visible kickin' curves. I finish it off with a pair of purple leather gladiator-inspired thong sandals, a nice contrast with the teal that says, "hey, I'm comfy but cute." (Bending in this outfit is ill-advised. It's got a relatively modest scoop-neck and adorable cap sleeves, though, so it balances the legs and skin there shown.)

I like to think that this is the outfit that would make Perfect kick himself for letting me go. The hemline is short enough to show my super-recently tanned and toned legs from all the beaching and running I've been doing, and it hugs my ass, which he knows quite well. I figure if I can get thoughts and pulse racing, it probably wouldn't hurt my cause.

In the other corner, the opponent is a pair of super-short striped navy shorts (again, showing off the legs), the same purple glads, and a tight black V-neck t-shirt with a gold stylized guitar detail on it. And I'd totally be wearing a push-up bra, yes. The dark colors show off my tan well, and it's a more laid-back outfit that basically says, "hey, I wasn't really planning on seeing you, but I still manage to look good."

Seeing as one of Perfect's best and oldest girl friends will be with him, and she's the five-foot-nine, size 2 exotic model-y looking type who looks great and all-American classic in trademark cut-offs and a tank, I was thinking I'll be dressing as much for her impression of me as I will be for Perfect's. I don't want her to think I'm trying too hard, but I do want her to tell him I'm cute as they drive back home. So do I try to dress more her style with the t and shorts, or do I go for the knock-out and wear the dress?

As for hair, I'm running a few small braids around my hair-line and pinning them back, boho-style, leaving the rest of it casually tousled. Make-up I'm leaving basic: foundation, hint of blush, mascara, and lip balm. I've got a great golden glow going on from the beach-- I figure "fresh" is the way to go.

Please, any opinions, tips, hints, or advice would be greatly appreciated with this. I know that if I do get to see him while he's in town tomorrow, this meeting could make or break the storyline of Perfect and I.

Thanks, darlings--

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Age Is Just A Number...And Some Baggage.

It’s funny—the older I get, the more age doesn’t mean shit. Seeing as I got my “older man” phase done early with in my life, I’ve since noticed a change recently in myself—now, I’m liking the younger fellas. (A “Puma” is a “Cougar” in training, don’tcha know?) As with any man, though, regardless of his age, there are some lessons to be learned. Fortunately, I can pass on what I’ve gathered so far in my (love…or just sex) travels.

There is nothing wrong with dating an older man. They tend to be a little more mature, a little more sophisticated, a little more worldly, and a little more financially stable. They usually tend to have gone through their “wild one-night-stands” phase, and are looking for something a little more serious, which is great if you’re thinking of settling down a little bit. Bonuses include the fact that they’ve probably gone through college or lived alone by the point at which you meet and start dating them, which means they’re a little more self-sufficient than your average college dude, or at least have some idea of how to cook or balance a budget. Expect them to be mature. Expect them to know how to treat you well. Expect them to not still live in their parent’s basement.

Now for the word of warning. This all may sound great, but let me talk with you a minute about age differences and what they mean when you’re with someone significantly older. When you’re 25, dating someone 35 is fine. You’re living in the real world; they’re living in the real world. When you’re 19 or 20, dating someone 28 or 30—not so fine. And take it from my hard experience: when you’re 16, dating someone 24—so many different shades of wrong you could paint a house. This is what the problem is: when you are young, and someone significantly older starts putting the moves on you, ask yourself this—why are they still single? Why, by the time they are 28, or 30, or 35, have they not met someone their own age and settled down yet?

Please—don’t say it’s because they haven’t met “The One” yet. Yes, it may be true, but you know what? I, Miss “I Redefine The Word” Commitmaphobe, cannot even imagine myself being 35 and not in a fully committed, long-term, monogamous relationship. I can’t even see myself not even mildly committed by the time I’m 28. Sure, it may not be the same one man that I’m with from 28 to 35, but I guarantee you, even I will be slowing down on the dating and mating thing. (Well, the mating with other men. I highly doubt my sex-drive will ever grow out of the 19 year-old boy that it is.) Usually, these men are still single because there is something—some quirk, some tick, some habit, some mentality—wrong with them. The women their own age, and the ages more immediately around them, have already sussed this out and moved onto greener pastures. (The Number One problem in older men? Immaturity. Believe it. Some people never grow up, and when you’re eight years younger than your Significantly Older Other and the more mature one? RED FLAGS. ABORT MISSON.)

Conversely, immaturity is also a problem with dating younger men, but there, you know to expect it. Younger men are actually great to date, maturity or lack of it and all, if this doesn’t bother you. They’re more fun, more adventurous, more spontaneous, and more care-free. They like having a good time, and they like you having a good time. And if you’re an older woman dating a younger man, they’re actually thrilled to let you subtly take the relationship by the reins. Younger guys tend to be not so much about the details, and more just about the doing (it). Older women who know what they like, know what they need, and can express and teach this to them, which turns them on. They like a woman with a little more confidence than the average girl their age. (That’s where you come in.) They’re game for most anything, which is different from older men who have lived long enough to have found their preferences, and gotten very attached to them.

Actually, with younger men, the problem is the fact that they still haven’t gone through their life-growth experience. They haven’t necessarily had a chance to sow their wild oats. They haven’t completed college, haven’t rented a first apartment, haven’t had to live on their own; maybe, they haven’t even moved out of their parent’s house yet. They tend to be a little self-centered. They have a lot of expectations about what they want to get out of life, but not so many plans as to how to go about them, or details as how to go about maintaining an even keel. A lot of things, including you, can get lost in their excitement-without-the-details craze. Or, they just might find out that what they expected a month ago doesn’t really fit in with their plans a month from now. Life changes fast for these guys, so you either have to adapt quickly to change with them, or know when to hop off the ride.

On a more candid note, this is something that I learned from Perfect. He is, as previously stated, over half a year younger than I am. He also deferred a year from college to stay close to home (actually, AT home), and to travel a bit. Though, yes, this means he still lives with his parents and younger sister, it wasn’t the Kiss of Death. He works a full-time job that he’s been at for two years, and also works two other part-time jobs when needed. (I recently told him his work ethic was as big as his appetite.) He helps out around the house, doing chores in exchange for the privilege to still live there rent-free. He paid for his car, it’s insurance, gas, and anything else it needs himself. He’s travelled through South America, and lived in Costa Rica for two months this past spring. One of the first comments that came out of his mouth when we first met was the fact that since he deferred a year from school, he no longer has health insurance, which, he said with furrowed eyebrows, he was “really worrying about and looking into different policies.” Obviously, the boy is a pretty serious younger man.

But still. This also makes him an incoming freshmen, while I am a rising junior. I’ve got two years of college under my belt. I know the drill—I’ve had my fun, and now I’ve settled down into my routine. Life has gotten pretty placid for me. Perfect, on the other hand, while not so academically thrilled to start college (going in as “Undeclared Sciences”), is excited to get out of Dodge/I-Live-In-The-Boondocks and expand his social life and start competitively throwing discus again on his college’s track team. I am under no false expectations. He loves women, and women love him. Actually, just plain PEOPLE love him. He’s already a Big Fish in a Little Vermont Pond, and I have no doubts that even though he may be in a larger pond at school in Massachusetts, he’s still going to be a Big Man On Campus, if for no other reason than his stature. (The boy stands out in a crowd.)

He and I had a few discussions about his life in college; Cait and I had a few discussions about his life in college; and Alli and I had a few discussions about his life in college. The general consensus is that college probably won’t be a “Perfect” thing and he’ll probably end up relocating somewhere closer to home. Deep-down, he is that Good Ol’ Vermont Boy, with family and duty ties like the roots of a particularly tenacious maple sapling. Both he and Cait mentioned more than once each that he’s going to get homesick and want to come home as much as possible, at least for one weekend a month. He and I had a pretty serious conversation pre-Cease and Desist Conversation about the fact that he’s bringing the 4Runner to school with him.

“It’s a three-and-a-half hour drive from my college to Burlington,” he told me as we lolled around on my bed one afternoon. “I’ll probably be up here a lot. What about you?”

“Well,” I said slowly as I watched him watching me, gauging my response. “I’ll still have the Civic, obviously. And I like taking road-trips.”

“Good,” he said. (“Good” was how Perfect responded to most of our serious “relationshippy” conversations. When I told him how much it meant that he would be here for my birthday, he told me that was “Good.” When I told him I thought he was a pretty cool guy to be with, he responded with an empathetic “Good!” At least then in Perfect’s world, everything moving forward along smoothly was a “good” thing. I wonder when and why it changed.)

Later that night, at dinner at Asian Bistro with Cait, he brought it up again. “It’s three-and-a-half hours away. I’ll visit you guys if you come visit me?”

“Carissa has a car,” Cait said.

“I’d drive,” I reaffirmed.


My dear and oldest friend Caiti (the “i” is enough to hold all the difference between Caiti and Cait,) gave me some excellent advice about how to deal with the whole “new-to-college” thing, and she should know, because she’s been through it twice with two long-distance boyfriends. “If you’re going to try to stay close, you’re going to have to stay in his life,” she told me. “Stay in touch with him—still text a few times a week or call. Visit him. But have a pact that if he has other girls who he’s flirting with or hooking up with or whatever, or if you have other guys you’re doing the same with, you don’t talk about them with each other. If you can figure it out together, it can work. And if you can’t, you can’t.”

Will, my straight male relationship guru, backed her up on this whole-heartedly. “It’s realistic,” he agreed. “He’s going to want to do the regular freshmen stuff, and it’s good that you want him to do that, too. Just be ready and able to say “this isn’t working” if it’s not.”

You may feel as if I’m being remarkably blasé about this whole “other women/other men” thing. But really, I’m being honest. I don’t expect him to be a priest, and I doubt he expects me to be a nun. While we’ve already talked about the fact that both of us don’t just have sex with anyone, and we can’t have sex with other people if we have feelings for someone else, I have no misconceptions about the fact he is a Hook-Up Whore. As of tomorrow, it will have been two months since we had sex, and I haven’t had sex with anyone else since then. (Again, misleading blog title, I’m sorry.) And as far as me and my intelligence knows, he hasn’t, either. Before we slept together for the first time, I asked him the same question I had asked Cait earlier to see if the right answers matched. “Do you ever do anything like this? Have sex with someone you’ve only met twice?”

“No; never,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”

Bing, bing, bing! This, which rings true with what Cait said about him and his inability to have sex with anyone he doesn’t really care deeply about, and a few other facts are what make me ok with an arrangement like this. For one, Perfect was raised in a household not quite as free and open about sex as say, mine was. His parents both still think, or cling to the disillusion, that their baby boy is a virgin, which hasn’t been true for the past, oh, almost five years. Because of growing up in this sort of “let’s-not-talk-about-sex” environment, Perfect can be endearingly shy when it comes to certain things about sex. For example, it made him hesitant to get it on if my roommates were home, because he was afraid to have them hear us. (I, as it may have already been stated, am unapologetically loud.) He’s already also admitted he’s nervous about having a roommate of his own come fall, so between the fact he doesn’t like to have other people around when he does the dirty and the fact that most college girls are not fans of bringing guys back to their rooms, I say that’s a pretty good deterrent. Perfect also is not much of a drinker. He’ll have a beer or two in social settings, but he’s not really one to get drunk. I can’t see him joining Greek life or being a huge party animal. When there are parties and drinking involved, he’s most likely to be seen in photos taken of the event sitting on a couch with one beer and relaxing while everyone else is staggering around. Costa Rica and the night we slept together were apparently the drunkest he’s ever gotten. (I, on the other hand, always seem to be drinking when he’s around. He knows I’m a straightened-out drinker, but the first time we met he witnessed me pour margarita mix into a blender without a spout attached and have to clean that mess up while laughing hysterically; the night we slept together I was blissfully, adorably, memory-blanking toasted; on my birthday, I drank Smirnoff Ice on the beach, sand and all.)

Every time I think about this proposition, I can’t help but make up lovely daydreams in my mind about it. If it all works out, when I go to visit him, I’d wear V-neck cable-knit sweaters and ballet flats and pearls and look so collegiate—the older junior year girlfriend!—and sleep in his wifebeaters and go to the gym with him in the morning and run on the treadmill as he lifted and we’d grin at each other, and other people would watch as I slammed my car door shut in the parking lot and ran to where he would be waiting in front of the dorm and jump into his arms, pearls and all, and they would think, “so that’s the girlfriend.” And then they would get the reason why I wasn’t worried about other women and let him do his thing—because it may as well just be us.

Seriously. I really wish you could have some sort of idea of how The Way Things Were so you know I’m not just saying it. Those of you who were around to witness the two of us together, you get it. We could (and still) talk for hours, our silence was companionable, our humor similar, body language and chemistry so attuned he would lean or start to speak at the same time. That was the magic of the almost audible, definitely felt “click.”

What I do have no misconceptions over, however, is the cold, hard, cruel fact that I am a jealous person. And regardless of how practical and chill this little plan of mine is, I do know that regardless, I would get suspicious and jealous. How I feel and how I hide it or discuss it are three totally different things, though. So I guess we’ll see how this pans out, and if there even is a need to worry about a sort-of “man-share.” As it stands right now, I’m not really seeing much of Perfect, and he’s not seeing much of me. I don’t particularly like it, whatsoever. Because what I texted to Emily the other night rang so true, and still does, I’ll repeat it here: I don’t really have anything to say to him other than “I really miss you, and when will I see you again?” I don’t know if that’s really acceptable on his end, but it’s the truth, and I see no reason to ever tell him anything but the truth. I may not miss him every second of every day, but I miss him at least a little every day, for different reasons and with varying intensities. I have no illusions that this is True Love or The End or anything, but I can tell you that when it’s been over a month since we decided to try Perfect and Carissa Apart and if someone who you’ve only known for two months sticks in your memory and daily day-to-day thoughts of survival, it means something. Sometimes it’s selfish, like when my windows in my bedroom are stuck and for lack of WD40 or another six inches of height, I can’t get push them back up, and realize in a moment of frustration and self-pity that if Perfect were here, he could tackle those tricky windows for me in a moment. And with a smile. Sometimes it’s for more logical reasons—I’ll see a cute couple or find a shirt that I think would look really good on him—and in these practical moments, I miss the idea of him. And sometimes, at the oddest times, when I’m in the shower or late at night, sometimes even in my dreams, I get hit like a ton of bricks missing HIM—everything about him, from the way he smelled to the piggyback rides he gave me to his massive hands to the sound of his voice to the over-abundant exclamation marks and various emoticons in his texts that used to drive me crazy.

It’s so simple, these three words—“I miss you,” yet so hard to say. If I don’t see him on Thursday when he’s coming to town with another friend, I’ve decided that those are three words that have to be said to get the ball rolling. It’s a start, and who knows where we will finish? And that’s why I keep thinking, entertaining the possibility of, a future with Perfect, somewhere yet to be determined, in it.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Can Ya Dig It?

There seems to be this Universe phenomenon where when you’re either in a relationship, or are in the confusing place either before or after a relationship, it suddenly starts raining men. Far from a “Halleluiah!” it’s usually more of a “What the fuck—NO!” I don’t know if it’s pheromones, or maybe if once you’re off the market men start to think of you as a “hot commodity”—that whole supply and demand thing—but for some reason, un-single girls never seem to have a problem finding interested men. It’s when you’re single that you feel like you’re going through a drought and possibly one of the most uninteresting, unattractive, unlovable people ever in the history of the world.

Maybe it’s the fact that you’re happy that men pick up on. Certainly, people in a just-budding or going-well relationship have the certain je-ne-sais-quoi about them that seems to exude that all is right with the world. Who wouldn’t want to be with that? Also, Murphy’s Law might have something to do with it—when you want ‘em, you can’t find ‘em, and when you don’t need ‘em, they’re there.

During this marathon “What Are We Doing?” silent battle between Perfect and I, I’ve gotten two other advances from guys. Normally, I would be flattered. Now, I’m just frustrated and exasperated. The first was one of my Soho Boys—we briefly touched on this a few posts back. Anyway, feeling the need for some male company in my life, as I crave the presence of testosterone like pregnant women crave pickles and ice cream (“I have to have it NOW!”), I texted him last time I went to the beach solo to see if he’d like to keep me company. His response is a good example of why I equally adore and despair of my Soho Boys—“Well, I smoked so I’m feeling lazy, and we’re drinking before my roommates go to work, but after they leave I’ll let you know.” For background information, it was 2:30 in the afternoon. (Although I’m really not one to talk. I found myself in bed one morning with a 2-month-old bottle of wine and a cigarette at 10:30 AM after Perfect came down sick and had to cancel a visit to Burlington. It was not one of the proudest moments of my life, but it certainly was a special one.) My Boy didn’t end up joining me at the beach, but it became obvious that I had unleashed a younger monster when he proceeded to text me all afternoon to “check in.” Cute? Yes. I figure as long as I drop in enough “dude,” mans,” and “yo’s,” to keep it platonic, I can stave off an awkward conversation long enough to casually mention I’m “trying to work things out with a guy I was seeing” before my Soho Boy gets any real ideas.

The second guy was a little ickier than my (relatively) harmless ex-advisee. The ex-boyfriend of one of my freshmen-year dorm-mates and friends, he sent me an email at 1 AM the other morning. It started out fine, with the usual, “hey, it’s been awhile since we hung out,” which is true, and then quickly got much more awkward. “I think you should know I’m quite attracted to you,” he said. “Maybe we should talk about it. IM me sometime.”

Firstly, I don’t think I’ve seriously used Instant Messenger since high school, unless it’s to keep up with my friends far away at college. Secondly, I really wanted to nip this in the bud. I sent him back a very prompt and business-like email, basically saying that yes, it had been awhile—life has been crazy, I hope his summer’s been going well; I’m flattered, but there’s someone else and no hard feelings. Oh, and, yes, I already have his screen name. Hopefully, that’s the end of that. Men who try and date around an exes’ group of friends just make me feel nauseous. (The Flaky Artist successfully ruined another dorm-mate friendship of mine after he started dating a girl down the hall after he broke up with me because he was “still in love with a girl from home.” Yeah.)

And it’s not just me getting onboard with this “once you’re taken, you’re wanted” idea. A friend of mine in a long-term relationship has recently been getting (rather hilarious) advances from another guy, who knows, after being told, time and time again, that she already has a boyfriend, who she’s quite happy with, thanks. And Alli discovered the magic of multiple male attention on a Greyhound bus ride from Boston to Burlington. She started out with one phone number, and had collected three by the end of the trip. That’s what we call “quick work.”


Because I also like to give hints and tips to keep other Single Girls (or Bored Girls In Relationships, too, I suppose,) busy and happy, here are a few things that have really been rocking my world lately. Hope you get some inspiration! Also, I’d really love to get some feedback from readers about things that they like or do for fun and entertainment, because I have four weeks of summer vacation left, and am rapidly running out of both ideas and funding. The cheaper or more free the idea, the better!

(I also welcome general reader feedback. For those of you who have commented, thank you so much—your kind words and interest are what keep me going when I’m feeling too tired, too bored, or too uninspired to write. For those of you who read but don’t comment, really—I’d love to hear from you! Tell me what you like, what you don’t like, what you want to see more of, etc. Frankly, I’m amazed I haven’t gotten any comments back from people telling me I’m a crazy bitch for all the drama with Perfect. Just keep in mind—downright rude or spiteful comments will be deleted—only constructive criticism, please.)

For my birthday, I got a tube of A&W lip balm. Yes, A&W as in, the root beer. And let me tell you, it’s fabulous. It tastes just like the real thing, sticks to your lips even after swimming (!) and is a nice tan color that really makes a complimentary nude-colored lip balm that accents your natural lip color. Plus, it comes in a really cute little tube shaped like a can of soda. Lotta Luv makes it—it’s one of their Lip Sips collection. Unfortunately, I have no idea where you can buy it around town. Maybe CVS or a local pharmacy?

How To Be Single—A Novel, by Liz Tuccillo. You may know Liz’s name from He's Just Not That Into You, the single-girl almost-Bible she co-wrote with fellow “Sex and the City” writer Greg Behrendt. Her first foray into fiction, Tuccillo examines the relationship between five (thirty-something) single women in (surprise) New York City, and the relationships that they go through with other men, from the two yogis getting hot and heavy in a supposedly celibate ashram to the trek around the world that the main character makes, trying to decide if anywhere in the world, women have got the hang of being single and happy. From poignant to hilarious to introspective, How To Be Single draws from experiences you can certainly relate to to make you feel as if you personally know the characters. Honestly, reading this, I felt like I was out for a girl’s night. It’s engaging, smart, and will really make you think about the single lifestyle, love, both platonic and love relationships, and what makes you truly happy. (I read books with a highlighter in hand to mark down passages I particularly like or find interesting as I feel it’s good practice as a writer to identify what works. I killed a highlighter on this one novel. That’s how well-written it was. Never once do you feel like you’re being lectured to—it’s more like listening to a friend tell you about her last night out and give you advice about the guy you’re seeing. I got a lot out of it. I’m looking forward to what Tuccillo does next.)

I am brown as a roasted little chestnut from going to the beach this summer, and I love it. Previously this spring, I was paying $6.95 per visit to the tanning salon—Body Le Bronze on Pearl Street; it’s really nice and clean and calming, plus you’ll smell like coconut oil after you leave even if you didn’t use any—but now that I can be on the beach and rolling around on my towel like I’m roasting on a spit every nice and sunny day, I’m getting my color for free. Plus, I get to go for a dip right afterward to escape the heat, and let me tell you, Lake Champlain is warmer this year than I’ve ever felt it. It’s heavenly. Get thee to the beach!

Summer is the time for road trips, and as the New York City set moves out to the Hamptons in the summer, my group of friend and I drive 45 minutes to Montpelier and Worcester on the weekends. We started out in Stowe, but it was too small and touristy for us; plus, we didn’t know the local spots. Having Cait, a ex-Worcester resident, really opened up all the backyard swimming holes to us, as well as spot-on restaurant recommendations for eating before the drive back. (Dairy Crème is a must-go for their enormous soft-serve ice cream cones—a medium cone is enough for dinner, believe me. I prefer the classic Twist with rainbow sprinkles.)

This Sunday, Emily and I, and maybe Cait if she’s not busy, are going to make a day of exploring Montpelier. As a native Vermonter, I’m ashamed to say that before this summer, I’ve only been to the state capital once, in fifth grade on a fieldtrip to watch bills get passed in legislation. This was also during my bloody-nose phase, where, at least once every day, my nose would randomly unleash a waterfall of blood at the most random moment. (It happened to my mom during puberty, too, so I guess I only have the genes to blame.) One moment, I was sitting in a plush chair, watching gray-haired men push paper at each other and wave pens around, and the next minute, I was clutching both hands to my nose to try and pinch the flow closed. Business on the State House floor stopped as aides and my homeroom teacher rushed me to the closest ladies’ room. It was mortifying. I literally stopped legislation because of the amount of blood flowing from my tiny little fifth grader’s nose. When it stopped twenty minutes later and I walked back to my seat to join my classmates, there was a single nickel-sized spot of blood from my deluge staining the carpet. Suffice it to say, I made my mark on the politicians enough to not be considered for a page.

Hopefully, this Sunday will consist of coffee at Capitol Grounds, a nice sit-down on the State House lawn, some window-shopping at the trendy clothing stores like Salaam, a dip in the Pots possibly accompanied by Perfect and John, getting naked on the side of the road as tradition insists while I change, eating ice cream at Dairy Crème, and no bleeding. Here’s crossing my fingers.

I picked up Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane at Borders for $4 during their book sale this past week. I figure, as someone who writes about love and sex, I also need to read up on what other people are reading about love and sex, right? Assess the market. See what works, and what’s lacking. Carve a niche, and all that. The low sticker price was what originally caught my attention, and I figured that even if it wasn’t so great it would be worth the four Washingtons. It’s actually quite good. Zane, probably best known for her erotica, is a straight-shooter who holds nothing back from her advice. Opening every chapter with a short essay or reflection on the content, she covers letters written to her asking for advice ranging from cheating to communication problems to oral sex to orgasms to how to ride a man like a rodeo star. (My favorite chapter? “Relationship Confusion.” Of course.) At times explicit, but always truthful, honest, and well-intentioned, she had me hooked at her disclaimer: “Warning: If you are sexually oppressed, sexually repressed, or have any sexual hang-ups whatsoever, please put my book down and slowly walk away from it. It is too damn hot for your ass.” Zane is a woman after my own heart.

I absolutely adore wearing men’s clothing: wifebeaters, boxers, hoodies, t-shirts, boys sport shorts for the gym; over-size rolled-cuff button-up shirts belted with a cute belt to give it a feminine flair and some shape; boyfriend-cut jeans, preferably rolled or cuffed in the summer; girl’s boxer briefs, etc. I’m the kind of girl who’s ridiculously happy wearing a guy’s wifebeater to bed and nothing else, or a clean pair of boxers or shorts around the house while reading the latest issue of “Cosmopolitan.”

I own a few pairs of “girl boxers” bought from the Aerie line at American Eagle (also known as my Place of Longest Employment,), as well as a pair of real men’s boxers. (Don’t worry—I bought them new for myself.) I tend to finagle to keep or steal a few men’s shirts or hoodies from my guys—sometimes it’s as easy as asking male friends if they have any clothing they’re thinking of getting rid of, and sometimes it’s stealing a t-shirt from the guy you’re sleeping with. (So worth it.) I also, as previously stated, have the bad habit of buying clothing for my men, and so usually end up with a few items I can’t part with in the end-run, like the large purple hoodie I bought for Jersey Blunt and then decided to keep. (He made a good bid for it one night though, hoping I’d forget it in his room, but I remembered right before I walked out the front door. It’s like my second bathrobe and favorite thing to curl up in with nothing underneath because it’s so warm and snuggly.)

We’ve been seeing a big influx with men’s-wear inspired clothing in the fashion industry lately, which I like. Just remember—keep it feminine. If you’re going to be wearing a large button-up, belt it or wear nice jewelry. Pair your boyfriend jeans with a fitted top and painted nails. The best (and cheapest) V-neck rugby shirts I ever bought were from the men’s sale racks at Old Navy—classic, flattering in the drape and fit on a woman’s more curvy body, and CHEAP! I bought a cashmere sweater for $20, people!) Wear a strand of pearls and tight jeans, and you have the perfectly relaxed, yet put-together preppy outfit.

There is almost nothing men like to see more than a woman in their clothing, or clothing like theirs. When Perfect slept over, I furiously pawed through my underwear drawer to try and find an acceptable pair of undies to sleep in while he was in the bathroom. My time ran out, and as I heard the toilet flush, my fingers closed around my pair of girls’ boxer-briefs that I bought in London, complete with a British flag on half the ass. I yanked them on as Perfect opened the bedroom door and then stopped dead. “Yeah?” I asked. “Hot,” was all he managed to say before staggering in and pulling me back to the bed. When not entertaining, and as an added bonus, boxers are possibly the most comfortable thing to lounge around in since, well, being naked, and certainly more roommate-friendly.

Burlington used to have The Second Floor, a nightclub that while decidedly a little seedy, was also the place where under 21 clubbers could go to get their groove on. Ok, so, it wasn’t the best place, but it was the ONLY place to go clubbing without a fake ID. Unfortunately, it closed in January. Lift opened in its placed, newly revamped, redecorated, with better music and DJs, and more high-class, with stricter dress codes, and more selective about who they let in. This was good; this was nice; this was what Burlington needed. BUT. Lift is almost an exclusively 21+ establishment. Obviously, for reasons such as alcohol and predators, this is safer, but at the same time, unless it’s a special event that’s 18 and up, (which happens about once a month or so,) the 20-and-under college crowd is getting STIFFED, and stiffed HARD. I, personally, love dancing. I love getting dressed up, getting a bunch of friends, and going and shaking my thang at night. I will pay to do this, too, as will most of my like-minded friends. Right now, Lift is seriously missing out on making some serious dough as well as having a hand in further cramping the nightlife of under 21’s in a city that already doesn’t have much of a nightlife during the non-school year if you won’t have a driver’s license pre 1988. What do you say, Lift? Rise to the challenge and let me and my friends come and rip up the dance floor? You won’t regret it, I promise.

That’s it for now—I’ve got a shower to take, an outfit to pick out, and places to be and people to see.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Turbulence: The Worcester Diaries

[DISCLAIMER: Sometimes, the majority of the time, when I write, I do it very informally, sitting or sprawling on my bed. My room, as I’m sure many young people in cities across America can sympathize with me here, is abysmally tiny. No—if I were to ever be incarcerated, my bedroom in this apartment will have already trained me for it. I have about 12 by 6 feet of bedroom, complete with funky wall angles that eat up more room, leaving me with about 10 cubic feet of walking space, total, plus extra-long twin bed, desk, bookshelf, and closet. My dresser is in my closet. My desk is a flat space for important things to rest on. My desk’s chair is where my purses, Uggs, slippers, and often-worn lounge clothing live. This leaves my bed to be where I sleep, and sometimes multi-task entertaining, watching movies, eating, doing homework, working, and writing. (If you were wondering, sex falls under “entertaining.” I’m trying to bring some class to this place.)

Because of this, I rarely use my desk. The only time I actually EVER write at my desk is when I’m feeling particularly unproductive, scattered, uninspired, and unprofessional. The Desk whips me into shape. It makes me feel all Carrie Bradshaw because it’s in front of a window. (I believe in good desk karma.)

I am writing this, after it has sat open in Microsoft Word on my desktop for 2 weeks in bits and pieces, at The Desk. I’m sorry it’s taken so long. You have my heart-felt apologies. Now do you see what I’m working with here?]

I’ve been getting naked a lot of different places lately. Two weeks ago, on the 5th, it was in Worcester alongside Minister Brook Road, which from now on will be The Road I Got Naked On The Side Of, and not so much The Road Perfect Lives Off Of. (I’ve always been one to eclipse things that my men do with things that I do. Hence, one of the reasons I’m going to study abroad in Italy at the same college in Florence that Legs did. I want Italy to be nice, and not associated with him anymore, and mine.) This also may be why I, although not someone it really takes a lot of convincing to strip down in the first place, was so blasé about dropping trou right next to the swimming hole on a fairly well-trafficked road. Also, I was feeling a little reckless at that point.

Yesterday, it happened again, on a different road next to a different swimming hole in Worcester that also happens to be another road Perfect lives off of. However, this road was far less trafficked. And Perfect was actually in my town, and not his. Safer. (Granted, and I mean, hello—it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before. Or anything the people I do swimming with haven’t seen before. If you can’t tell, I was raised in a Naked House.)

July 5th was the first time I saw Perfect since before The Conversation. Alli, Cait and I had gotten bored with Lake Champlain, and were hungering for some river water. Cait offered to take us back to her hometown of Worcester, where the water is cold, the rivers are clear, and the waterfalls are abundant. Also, where Perfect lives. (Cait doesn’t know about Alli and my little adventure. There was some wonderful play-acting from the peanut gallery about being surprised about certain things. Oscars could have been won.) Cait’s been going through a rough patch in life lately, so when she called me the night before our excursion and I couldn’t do anything to help her or figure out what the right things were to say, I grappled for about five minutes with the idea before saying to her, “You know, I’d love to, but I really don’t know what to say to help you. When you went through this before, Perfect was the one who helped you through it. We’re going to be in Worcester tomorrow—do you either want to call him and see if he can meet up with us, or do you want me to text him and let him know what’s up?”

“Are you sure?” Cait asked, always sensitive to the feelings of others, in her own distress.

“Yeah,” I said on an exhale. “We have to see each other sooner or later, and it might as well be tomorrow. You really need him, so I can deal with it.” What I didn’t say was that I knew in my bones that it was the longest since meeting each other that Perfect and I had gone without seeing each other, and I was ready to end that streak. Also, I needed to see him in person to figure out if the weirdness that I was feeling over text and message was for real, or just imagined.

“I’m calling him right now,” Cait told me. “I’ll call you back after to let you know what he thinks and what’s going on tomorrow.”

Five minutes later, my cell rang again. Cait was almost border-line laughing. “He said the same thing you did,” she told me. “It was the whole, ‘I don’t know if she wants to see me, but we have to see each other at some point, and since we’re both your friends and you need us, it might as well be now.’”

Frankly, I wasn’t so surprised. For two people who are so opposite physically (if you want proof other than the written, that picture heading the “Perfection, Or Lack Thereof” post is of Perfect and I. He’s hulking and dark and manly, and I’m small and blonde and feminine. There, at least. He brings out the girl in me;) and in the way we deal with things, Perfect and I are startlingly similar when it comes to the way we approach things about each other. We’ve always been on the same wavelength, from the very beginning. I think that was the magic of the ‘click’.

And so on the 5th, I woke up, had an orgasm, ate fruit salad, did laundry, and worked out so that I would be glowing, toned, clean, and fresh when I saw him. I wore the teeny green bikini that was my mother’s when she was my age, one of my good luck charms. We got to the Mills about twenty minutes before Perfect, and I was sitting on a rock in cut-offs and my bikini when he appeared emerging from the trail down to the river behind me.

What was it like seeing Perfect again for the first time since we called it off? Oh, lord. I said before that it would be a success if I either didn't burst into tears when I saw him or tried to scale him like a very sexy tree. So I guess it was a success as I did neither, but for starters, the Earth dropped approximately two to five feet from beneath me, like it always does. If there is one thing that remains constant with that boy, it’s that every time I see him, it always feels like the earth drops out from beneath me. It leaves me a little short of breath, a little anxious, and more than a little nervous. The rabbits that always gnaw on my stomach lining went into flurried overdrive like they always do about him. With other guys in my past, there were cute, sweet butterflies of nerves. With Perfect, they were replaced by much larger, much more ravenous, much more solid rabbits. Then it became apparent after the initial “hey,” “hey,” “what’s up?” “not much,” that the weirdness was omnipresent and effusive. I realized that a lot of the bravado about being ready to see him again was just that, bravado. Seeing him, actually seeing him, standing there in the afternoon sun in green shorts and a guarded look made me turn unsure and off-balance. There was some shifty eye contact, and some very brief face-searching on both our parts. He looked tense, guarded, and a little bit unsure. I’m not sure what I looked like to him, but I’m pretty sure awkward and trying really hard to keep cool would top the list.

I was nervous; he was shielding. Though I may be adept at keeping most of my feelings and emotions to myself, when it comes to romantic things, I am an open book, hurling my feelings around through the air. I may not ever say the words; I may not ever be the girl who can talk about her emotions or what she wants or needs to whoever she’s with, but if you’re even passably good at picking up vibes, you’ll know how I feel. I’m not talking freaky-deaky paranormal bullshit here, even though I do believe in all that. What I mean is reading good, old-fashioned body-language, noticing small details, and opening yourself up to what feelings another person is projecting. I do believe it’s called “empathy”—you try to feel what the other person is. I am a very empathic person—when it comes to relationship feelings, I can’t wait to pass them off to the next person and try to lighten my load. I think this comes from being single so much, so often, for so long. I’m so used to having to live with myself and try not to hurt my own heart that when I meet someone like Perfect, I can’t rip my own heart out of my chest and hand it over to them fast enough. I tend to trust men to take better care of my own heart than I do. It doesn’t tend to work, as evidenced, but, I keep doing it. Someone once asked me if this is why I “fall in love over and over and over.” But I don’t fall in love over and over and over. To me, I have been in Love once. That’s capital Love, not “oh, I love you too. I love being with you and I love spending time with you. I mean Love as in, “I would move mountains for you, I would have your children, I would die for you, I feel like you complete me and I can’t be without you.” To me, that is Love. Love is not a word that I pass around freely. It seems like a lot more people are willing to just toss it out there. I’m trying to keep the meaning of Love sacred. What I do tend to do, however, is to fall for a guy hard, and fast, with all of my heart and head and soul. I never do anything half-assed.

The one time our eyes actually met for an extended gaze, I was shocked by what I saw there: hurt, and wariness. I wanted to reach up and grab him by the shoulders to shake him while screaming, “I’m not the one who did this! I was willing to hang on! You were the one who jumped ship! All I want is things to be normal; why won’t you be normal? I need you to be normal!”

Thankfully, he brought one of his best friends, John. I’d actually met John for all of about ten seconds previously at U-32’s high school graduation. It was a fly-by introduction—Cait got a hug and a “how are you?” and she pointed Alli and I out to John by our names. I rapidly realized that Perfect’s decision to bring John was a very good one when another ten seconds after he appeared behind Perfect, he looked from Alli to I and went, “Hey! I remember you!”

As normally out-going and effervescent as Perfect normally is, so is John. When it became apparent by his standing apart and lingering minutes standing on the various concrete jumping obstacles that the Mill has to offer suicidal swimmers that Perfect was not going to be his normal out-going self, John stepped up to the plate and jumped in to join Alli and I in the pool of water beneath the falls. He’s an easy conversationalist, instantly likable, and easy on the eyes to boot. (I think the word that comes up most often when I talk to someone about him is “adorable.”) He is someone I would really like to kidnap and stuff in a closet and keep them around for bad days when I need an instant pick-me-up. The kid has a great aura. (Excuse the New Age-ery.)

So what was it like watching Perfect, the first time I’d seen him since we called it off, dive head-first off of things into churning water in apparent suicide attempts? Here I was, watching one of the few guys that I actually deemed worthy of potentially being the father of my children (i.e—I was willing to have sex with him. I felt clarification was needed. I like to protect the few men that hold the chromosomes I would consider meshing with mine. It’s biology, baby. It’s just natural,) jumping off of a concrete bridge 40 feet that sloped out above the churning and rocky water. I may have screamed once, I’ll admit it. Even though he’s been doing this since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, I still got the feeling of “I could watch him die right in front of me.” Waiting for his wet brown head to break the surface felt like one of the longest-held breaths of my life. Both John and Cait also agreed, and they’ve been watching him do this for years. I’m pretty sure the only thing in my head during that time was a desperate repeated mantra of “oh please oh please oh please oh please.”

It’s the waiting for people to surface that always takes the longest.

Growing up fuck-nuts crazy and jumping off of things like the Mills have given Perfect a sort of Superman complex that is completely at odds with his emotional self, which is what really drives me nuts. The cliff-diving, wheelie-popping, discus-throwing, weight-lifting, tree-hauling, adrenaline-freak, while willing to put himself through all sorts of potential physical damage, is so cautious of emotional hurt that he refuses to take chances.

At the beginning of Perfect and I, Alli made the premonition that I would break his heart. I countered with a vehement “no, he’ll break mine.” Neither of us turns out to have been right, but the fact still stands that both parties involved know it’s a possibility. Perfect saw this and made his decision about what to do, which was the right one. I’ll even admit it. He saw possible heartbreak in his future, so he let go now while it was easier. Maybe it’s the masochist in me, but when I looked into that same future and saw that it could fall apart at some point, I thought, “ok, whatever. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I can hurt myself again—I lived through it the first time; I can live through it a second time.” Myself, I’m of the school of thought that feelings should conquer all—if you feel something, you should fight until the end of the earth for it. This is how I live my life—very focused. I see something, I want it, I find a way to get it. Perfect is more of the "things-just-come-to-me-and-I-assess-them-and-make-logical-decisions" way of thinking and living. I think this makes him the wiser one, but I also think this makes me to one who stands to gain more in the end.

But then the strangest thing happened. We were all standing on the sandbar, chatting as John told us about his new girlfriend, who was actually a girl he had previously dated a few times before. Cait asked him how it was going, and he admitted that he really liked her.

“So are you going to keep dating her?” Cait asked.

“Yeah,” John said, a cute and shy grin on his face.

That was promptly wiped off when Perfect, in the most un-Perfect voice I have ever heard come out of his mouth, butted in with a “But only until college.” That was it. Final. Perfect said it, so it was going to happen that way. And that’s when I knew, hearing that voice and those words, that what Cait had said was true—Perfect had gone to Baby Mix for advice, and Baby Mix had nixed me. I got the Kiss of Dating Death from the best friend due to the best friend’s own fucked-up long-distance relationship. Because in Baby Mix’s world, if it didn’t work for him and Cait, it wouldn’t work any better for me and Perfect. That was Baby Mix talking out of Perfect.

Now, I know you’re thinking I’m fucking crazy. I know you’re thinking I’m one of Those Girls who just can’t understand why they’ve been broken up with an grasps for straws and excuses and possibly answers. But you haven’t met Baby Mix. I have. I’ve spent HOURS talking to both Perfect and Cait about him. I spent HOURS of my birthday talking to the man himself, trying to prove to him that I was a good girl for his best friend, whom goes to him for everything and values his opinions and thoughts above all else. (When Baby Mix says “jump,” Perfect asks “how high, and would you also like me to orchestrate some music to go along with it?”) I would know a Baby Mix statement coming out of a complete stranger’s mouth. And the hard truth of the matter is it’s because Baby Mix and I are so alike. We’re both cunning, calculating people who spend more times planning and plotting in our heads than most people ever do. I actually knew, within moments of being introduced to him by a very nervous Perfect, hoping for the best, that Baby Mix and I weren’t going to get along because we are so similar, as you often know with people like you. You generally can’t tolerate them. I see Baby Mix as cold and self-serving, and he probably sees me the same and as his greatest threat to his best friend and their time together. (It also didn’t help that Perfect was staying at Baby Mix’s place during this time and was seeing the hours and hours of texting we were doing, combined with the fact that the next day, Perfect ran away to my apartment and me for over five hours, leaving Baby Mix behind. I’m sure he loved that.)

John, to his immense credit, didn't back all the way down, instead sputtering a little bit and shrugging, giving a “Well…uhhhh…” while Cait looked at Perfect, as horrified as I was, and leaned into John to comfort him with a “Just see what happens—you can always try long-distance.”

Perfect remained stony. In other words, Perfect remained a (not so) miniature Baby Mix. I have never, ever, not even during our dissolution, liked Perfect less.

Between the suicidal diving, brooding and ice-cold water temperature, (guaranteed to give you hypothermia!) Perfect and I managed to maybe say five complete sentences to each other before he decided it was time for him and John to leave. Bereft of our men, Cait and Alli and I decided that was our cue to leave as well. As we all walked back to the car, John kept the conversation going while Perfect toweled down and hopped in his 4Runner. Come to find out when he complimented my Civic, which NEVER gets complimented being the Plain-Jane of the car world, John works at a Honda dealership. When the words “Let me know if you ever need expensive parts and I can get them for you at my discount,” came out of his mouth, I knew he was one of my new Favorite People. John is my white knight in shining Honda armor. Him, I love. He promptly responds to Facebook messages and is optimistic and charming and eager. His best friend, the one who now can be surly and unresponsive and cynical, is the one who drives me crazy.


A week after this less-than-stellar encounter, I was over at Cait’s and finally managed to speak up and ask for some help with the whole “what’s going on?” thing. Generally, I tend to try and not exploit Cait and the trust that Perfect puts in her by talking to her about things, because I know that like a five-year-old, unless expressly told not to repeat something, Cait will regurgitate it to the first person who asks. Which, sometimes, works in my favor. I’m sure it works not in my favor a lot of the time when Perfect talks to Cait.

Seated on her kitchen floor, both a little inebriated, I managed to finally say out-loud, “So. Things have been kinda weird between Perfect and I lately. You saw it at the Mills. What’s going on with that?”

Cait, always a beautifully cheap date, looked me dead in the face. “He’s not over you. He’s realized that the feelings that he had for you were a lot stronger than he thought and he still feels them. He’s having a hard time.”

I didn’t know if I wanted to dance on the rooftop or rip the shelving behind me apart by hand.

“He’s not going to get over you if you guys keep texting and talking and seeing each other,” she continued. My first thought was, apparently the “hostage relationship” thing works, to mixed results. My second thought was, keep texting and talking and seeing him and possibly rattle the teeth in his head around until he admits his mistake and fixes it. Or, at least, it’s time to have a civil conversation about “what we both feel.”

“Are you over him?” Cait asked suddenly, looked much more sober than she had a minute ago.

I didn’t answer.


The next day, I jubilantly sent Perfect a few casually flirty texts, which he responded to promptly and similarly, talking about when he’d be in town next. (To see Baby Mix, the relationship-ruining fucker. No, really—I can be civil to him in person, and really, I try. He means a lot to Perfect, ergo, he should mean a lot to me, and he does: I value his thoughts on me, and I value his friendship with Perfect. But he’s screwed-over one of my best friends in a long-distance college relationship, and now helped screw me over with some biased statements about long-distance college relationships. There are some hard feelings involved.)

After some continued nice texting and planning, despite Baby Mix and all, I now realized I had the upper-hand, and something that Baby Mix couldn’t control—Perfect’s feelings. I'm feeling like I need to write something like "He's Just Not That Over You." Hello, truth.


Yesterday, Alli, Cait, Cait’s boyfriend Justin and I all went back to Worcester to go swimming at another place called the Pots, complete with two deep swimming pools, four waterfalls, and a natural stone water-slide. I like to now call it “Heaven On Earth.” John, who has kept in touch with me since the day at the Mill, was planning on meeting us, but a family dinner came up. Perfect was back in Burlington visiting Baby Mix. So Alli and I scrambled over rocks and trees and pine needles and stones and water, and Cait and Justin cuddled on the rocks. Alli and I, an original native backwoods Vermont Girl, got back to nature, while Cait and Justin got back to basics, otherwise known as first and second base. We had a perfectly lovely time, and Alli and I found the place we were searching for that makes summer feel like summer. We’re planning on heading back this weekend, maybe to meet up with John and/or Perfect.

In the meantime, I’m getting very familiar and comfortable with Worcester and Montpelier. Worcester reminds me very much of Tinmouth, where my best friend lives, and I’d always spent at least half of every year there through high school. I now know where I can get gas or food, where the house with the cool mural is, and what two roads I can take to go swimming or get to Cait’s old house, Perfect’s house, or John’s house. I can now find my own way from swimming to the Dairy Crème with no directions asked. My stomach, sometimes like my vagina, is my compass. And the supreme fact of comfort—I get naked there, which we have decided needs to be a new tradition, even if swimming isn’t involved. (I’m one of those people who can’t stand to stay in a damp bath suit, so I would rather shuck it off on the side of the road and change than marinate in it for the drive home. Mold, people, MOLD.) Especially if Perfect and I get involved again and visiting becomes a common thing, (re: we really need to have that talk about the lingering feelings on both sides,) I foresee some very interesting introductions to people, maybe sans clothing, because I’m that strict with tradition. Thank god I’m not that shy.

So there you have it—the good, the bad, and the naked. A lot has happened in these past few weeks that has either cleared some things up or made others more complicated, but hey—I have the facts, and whatever happens, happens. Sometimes, surprises can be good, like Perfect and I again being mutual with the feelings, and sometimes, they can be bad, like the whole Baby Mix advice debacle. To wrap this beast of a post up, men need to stop surprising us. I know we women always bitch about how we want them to, but really—when they actually start to, it throws us for a loop. Another male friend who was previously given up for a lost soul started being decisive—even doing things like making reservations. Clutch you uterus and hold on for dear life, ladies. The men—they are a-changin’.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Proposal: Time, Work With Me For Once, Please.

Hind-sight being what it is, maybe "The Proposal" wasn't the best movie to go and see today, on the 1 month anniversary of my "I Feel That Way, Too...But I Think We Should Just Be Friends" conversation. Yes, the movie was funny, and sweet, and everything that you would expect from Anne Fletcher, director of both "The Proposal" and the previous "27 Dresses." At one point, as Sandra Bullock waved an adorable fluffy white Samoyed puppy at a golden eagle in exchange for her Crackberry, I found myself doubled-over and shaking in hysterical, breathless, noiseless laughter. (The last three times I've gone to the movies I've ended up in hysterics this way, even if it wasn't a particularly funny movie. I cracked up in "Watchmen" because of Malin Akerman's chin-mole, otherwise known that night as her "second profile, or Pale Mole Rising." She was yet again in Fletcher's second movie-- you may know Akerman as Katherine Heigel's entitled younger sister in "27 Dresses" as well. Apparently, Fletcher has a director-crush on her.) Not an overwhelmingly "chicky" flick, as Ryan Reynolds plays someone a little bit more downtrodden and submissive than most leading men tend to be, and there are no "shopping spree" fashion montages, but a really solid showing at a movie about men, women, and how complicated relationships can sometimes be-- can you imagine marrying your boss so they can get their green card? I don't think so.

It seems like I'm destined to spend the night of the 18th of every month around 8:30 feeling queasy. Last month, it was because as soon as I heard my phone ring with Perfect's "3 AM" ringtone, I knew it-- I knew I was losing the relationship, the sex, the plans we'd made for things like travel and visiting and motorcycle rides and roughhousing. I stood in Cait's kitchen, staring at the ID on my phone's screen before even flipping it open and thought, "here it all goes." I was so uncharacteristically quiet during our relationship negotiation (or "downsizing") that Perfect asked not once, but twice if I was ok, still there, and handling it. Both times, it took me a moment or two to fight back the "end of relationship and sex" nerves and nausea and answer him. I remember staring at my feet a lot, and once, leaning over the sink, thanking god I was so close to it if that's what it came down to.

This month, I gorged myself on about half my body weight's worth of popcorn to try and stop my feelings, which were simmering all throughout the movie, from actually exploding in a theater full of middle-aged strangers. (Lots of middle-aged women friends in groups of two or three, and a few middle-aged couples...Alli and I were officially the youngest patrons at the showing.) For the day, the circumstances, and the tender yet never overly mushy moments in the movie, it may have been a bad choice in casual Saturday afternoon flick, as it put me on the warpath for love to conquer everything. If a tyrannical book editor can inspire love in her beaten assistant, I should have no problems convincing Perfect that my feelings + his feelings= let's try for the best, you fucking dumbass. Right? Wrong. My life script wasn't written by Pete Chiarelli, and I do not have Sandra Bullock's capacity for wit and grace under pressure. I just tend to pop, like I was ready to, both emotionally and physically, by the time the lights came back up at the end of the credits.

"That may have been a bad movie for me to watch," I confided in Alli. "And the popcorn made me sick."

"Yeah, I was thinking that it was a little positive with the whole love-conquers-all," she said.

"I really just want to call him now and be like, "look, this is what I feel, and this is what you feel, and we can make this work, and WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING?!"" My voice raised progressively higher throughout this diatribe. "But I know I can't, because then I would be proving every Crazy Bitch or psycho woman stereotype he ever had true. Do you know how many miles stand between me and a bad life decision?" I held up my fingers. "Four. Four miles between Perfect and I right now. And a whole lotta words."

"I feel like leaving this theater right now would be a bad choice," Alli conceded.

"Yeah. A.) I would probably get sick, and B.) I would make a Bad Life Decision. Again. Can we start abbreviating these to BLDs?"

And do you know that the kicker of the movie's moral was? When you love someone, you do whatever it takes to let them know. You fake a heart-attack. You try to stop a plane. You run from Alaska to New York City. (Not really, but you know, you hurry via private boat, plane, and foot.) Walking out of the theater, a clever mix of the smell of popcorn invading the entire theater and sidewalk in front of it and raw emotion and frustration made me want to vom. Why, WHY, I do not understand, can I not get my own "love conquers all" Hollywood ending? Why can't I even get a meeting with Perfect to discuss this? Why does Father Time in cohorts with The Universe keep making our schedules opposite and therefore, us unavailable to each other? Why were we even allowed to meet in the first place, and "click" and have one of those (previously thought to be fable-like to me,) instant connections like "I need and want this person, and this person needs and wants me, and the Earth drops from under me when I see them"? (Apparently, love-at-first-sight comes in a few different varying degrees, and I achieved one of them, maybe known as "I Care About You At First Sight. And Find Myself Ridiculously Attracted To You, Too.") If this is a test of patience, decidedly one of my worst-honed and almost nonexistent virtues, I like to think all this practice and good behavior while waiting is going to pay off in the end. Pay off BIG.

In the meantime, what they usually all say to you during your whole "I'm broken-up with and hurt phase"..."Times heals all wounds"...fuck it, it's all a big, fat, bleeding-heart lie, and you know it as well as I do. Time doesn't heal all wounds-- time just makes you forget a little bit and not think about it as much. Every time you do remember it, it smarts just as much as it originally did. There is no "getting over" some things-- first love, big betrayals, hurt feelings, crushed dreams, favorite memories together, or sometimes, just the scent of the deodorant someone used.

Some things are easy to quit: one day, I woke up, thought "I'm going to quit smoking weed," and POOF! Haven't felt the need or urge to sense then, and I'm the girl who used to host Weed Wednesday and Tweaker Tuesdays. Some things are harder to quit: drinking when your body tells you there's no need to stop yet, and in fact, another, please--; driving on the left side of the road oversees when you're used to driving on the right; dialing a friend's old phone number. And some things are nearly impossible to quit: obsessive-compulsive habits; using your dominant hand to to everything; and for me, having Perfect be a Big Thing in my life or getting over him. Maybe the fact that I'm having such an impossible time cutting him out means something. I've always been one of those girls who finds it much easier to just cut-off an ex when the relationship ends and then feasibly never talk to them again-- in fact, The Flaky Artist is the only one I was able to salvage a manageable working casual friendship with after a year. But Perfect? Perfect's just THERE.

He was there for me on my birthday; there when one of my best friends found out she was pregnant and I needed someone to go to who wouldn't judge either of us for freaking right the fuck out. He watched me brush my teeth, and put on deodorant and acne cream the next morning without even a flinch. He politely said, still reclining on my bed in just his boxer briefs, to say "hi" to my mom for him when she called after we had had sex. He always, still, lets me know when he'll be in town, even if we won't get a chance to see each other, just so I know he's in the area. (This is more than any other man has ever done for me. Usually, I hear, "Oh, yeah-- I was in town that night," two weeks after the fact.) He somehow, through leading by doing, got me to be more honest and open with him than 99.9% of the other people in my life by being open and honest with me and then asking questions and being persistent about them while still supportive. One of his favorite things to tack on to the end of a question if it looked like I was stalling with an answer was "I'm sorry if it's too personal; you don't have to answer it." But I always did, anyway, no matter how personal the question was or how loathe to part with the answer I was. I don't think I have ever once flat-out lied to him. I have never had a man be so solid, so dependable, and so there for me. Well, there within reason. I have to admit, now that we are no longer "us," it feels a lot different to not be able to just expect him to drop everything and show up to see me. I don't like the way it feels, but I'm coping, more or less.

In the end, of course Ryan Reynolds gets the girl. In the end, I ended up being able to keep my over-indulgent popcorn down. In the end, Alli and I got home safe without any side-trips or phone calls or freak-outs. In the end, I may not see Perfect tomorrow as we had hoped, but I will see a friend of his in Worcester, and that will hopefully be enough to keep me present and in his loop. And in the end, I may not get my rom-com ending, complete with swelling chorus of violins, but maybe, just maybe, I will be able to get the chance to salvage this relationship. And that's all I'm really asking for.


P.S: And, oh-- no Perfect and Baby Mix illicit bro-love sightings. Of course. Silly.

Girl About Town, Cont.

So, it's a lovely Saturday afternoon. You know-- Saturday afternoons in the summer, when there's tons of stuff to do, places to go, people to see, all sorts of free entertainment in downtown Burlington like art shows and waterfront festivals and free music, and it's finally stopped raining long enough for sunlight to be seen through the puffy white summer clouds. It's the kind of Saturday summer afternoon that makes couples rejoice and single girls believe in romance.

What am I doing while I should be frolicking in sunlight and trying to entice men with my tanned limbs and sun-kissed hair?

I'm going to go see "The Proposal" with Alli. That's right-- I'm going to go sit in a dark theater this afternoon with my roommate, split a large bag of buttery popcorn, and all for the price of a regular ticket because I am so cheap and so broke that I am literally cashing in my hoarded Susan B. Anthony coins my family used to give me on my birthday for gas and groceries. (And, the occasional movie, apparently.)

I have already exhausted all of my summer keep-busy/have-fun hobbies and events. In this past week alone, I have taken myself out for a bubble tea and chocolate reading date at Sapa, went to lunch at the Skinny Pancake and dinner at Asian Bistro in the same day, went with a friend to Yankee Tattoo as she got inked, went for a wander down by the waterfront with Madison, went to North Beach two days in a row with Alli, went to the gym twice (and it closes on the weekends or I'd be there again), spent my Thursday night playing beer pong and meeting new people at Justin's, went for an exploratory drive on 127, had an over 2-hour texting conversation with Perfect yesterday, and tomorrow am going back to Worcester to go swimming at the Pots.

I am running out of ideas to keep myself busy and (relatively) out of trouble, and there could not have been a worse time for this to happen. Why? Because Perfect is in town, less than four miles away. I am removing myself to a movie theater to try and resist the temptation to text or call Perfect and say something like, "So, I'm really, really bored and you're in town, so why don't we meet up because I have this blog that's kind of coming into it's own and unfortunately because of your decision a month ago (exactly today,) I no longer really have a love life, which is something I'd like to discuss with you, and I figure hey! A really awkward but needed "this is how I feel" conversation would really spice things up and give me something to write about you for the rest of the world online to see. Sound like fun?"

Perfect does not know about this blog. Nor does he know, (I think, I assume, I kind of hope,) that I write about him. I figure though, it's a casualty with dating a writer-- you have to assume it will happen. He knows what I do; he's read some of my articles I wrote for "Moss on the Moon." No one has supported this fact better than Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash, who once stated: “There are three things men can do with women: love them, suffer for them, or turn them into literature.” I believe the same is true vice-versa the genders.

So instead of making further Bad Life Decisions, I'm going to a rom-com. I'll let you know how it was later.

Being a woman, though, and having a very active imagination paired with a memory like a steel trap for random facts, I remembered right after I signed on for this endeavor that Perfect and Baby Mix (AKA: the Best Friend since knee-high and training pants) usually like to go and catch a flick together on their weekends together. And we happen to share the same theater in common, compliments of living in the same town. (Baby Mix and I, that is.) Instantly, this makes me think about how awkward it would be to run into them in the (very, very slim; in fact, microscopic) chance we all decided to go see a show at the same time. But still, with most things in life, I apply the 50-50 Rule: despite all the chances, it all boils down to a 50% possibility-- they either may be there, or they won't be. I love the 50-50 Rule. It makes almost anything seem possible.

And then, right after the "What If They're There?" daydream comes the "What If They're There And Furtively Holding Hands?" daymare. Now, bromance is nothing to kid about, and no one loves a good bromance quite like I do. I am also the last person who should be ridiculing a close bond between two friends of the same sex, as I myself have been at the receiving end of lesbian rumors because of how close (and possibly, how explicit) Madison and I are together. I also, obviously, have nothing against gay people. However, I HAVE had an ex-boyfriend who ended up being secretly gay (guesses, people?), and I obviously really, really like Perfect, so this is something that would crush me. He and Baby Mix are so close and so secure in their masculinity that they joke around about being gay lovers all the time, but really, if I were to stumble upon the truth in Essex Outlets Cinema, I think I would die right there, on the cartoon move-reel carpet, spilled Nerds, Snow-Caps, crushed popcorn, and all.

Again-- the 50-50 Rule applies here: either they are, or they aren't. I am willing to stake the rest of my meager savings that they aren't, but still, it's something that makes me panic. Right up there with the possibility of being 40 and still single. Because my boyfriends turn out to be gay.

See? I'm such a total woman-- over-active imagination and the ability to turn worrying into a professional, full-contact sport. Now excuse me-- I have a dark and air-conditioned theater to remove myself to, far away from all the happy couples PDA-ing in the parks, and the temptation to either call Perfect or go for "a little drive". Pay no mind to me. In about twenty minutes, I will be replaying the "Sex With Mr. Perfect" movie-reel inside my head, and will be realizing that there is no possible way he is gay, or in love with Baby Mix any other way than really deep and abiding bro-love, like my Bitch-Hitches with Madison and Nora. Because a man who asks you if you like RECEIVING oral and obviously loves loving the snatch I don't think would be capable of the same enthusiasm for dick. Really. (By the way-- best oral of my life. Just needed to get that brag out there. Unfucking believeable. Oh yeah. Totally not gay.)

So enjoy the nice weather for me. And if you see a really massive, attractive guy with shaggy brown hair and a perfect toothy white smile lurking around with another really tall guy with long and wavy blonde hair, probably pulled back in a ponytail, who looks like Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom miraculously copulated on the set of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and holding hands, please-- don't tell me. No, wait, scratch that-- tell me. No, better-- ask them who's the bottom. Morbid curiosity.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Girl About Town Seeks Resolution

One of the things about writing this blog is that it’s my job to go out, meet people, and do things in the name of single girl-dom. Although sometimes there’s really nothing I would love more than to stay home with my Shaw’s Le Bakery chocolate chip cookies and play Russian Roulette with my physique and will-power by keeping the bag within arm’s reach, duty calls when friends call and say that they have things I should go to. Hindsight being 20/20, I really should have named the blog something like “Celibacy in the City,” and kept the expectations low. Sex, not so much of. Orgasms, yes, but sex—not lately.

Instead, it remains “Sex and the College Girl,” and so sex this college girl will try to have. Though I may not being hitting it up and down and all over town, I rarely turn down an opportunity to go someplace and meet people. Church Street, with all its tourists and locals on foot, is one of my proverbial play-grounds. Flirting on the run is so easy to practice there. I enjoy eating out (and wish I actually had an income to do it more often,) for the chance to see and be seen. The other night, when one of my Soho Boys had drunkenly cornered me on Facebook chat to try flirting with me, though it was SO WRONG and I finally could relate to the hot young high school substitute teacher who has to deal with the horny teenage boys must feel like—flattered, but still, icky—, I couldn’t help myself from promising to bring him to the beach with me next time I went. I figure, hey—if nothing, I’ll get a few free beers and some male company out of it. Things like this make me the quintessential Girl About Town. And though I may have to recycle a few outfits, and although I sometimes don’t really feel up to it, I rarely pass up a chance to go out, especially if it looks like I might get a column out of it.

Tonight, Cait called saying that two of her boyfriend’s friends from home were up visiting, so why don’t I come over to Justin’s house where they were having a little get-together, play some beer pong, and meet some new guys? She promised that they were attractive, and I come at an easy price. Though really all I was feeling was staying in my apartment in my boy’s Adidas soccer shorts and bra and eating my cookies in front of the new episode of “Royal Pains,” I instead lied a little bit about being out to dinner, which bought me enough time to shower, get dressed in something boy- and public-friendly, grab a beer, and go. Though it was hard, and I was grumbling under my breath, I kept repeating the mantra “You have a blog and it’s your duty to go out, and you never know who you might meet,” like a record with the needle stuck in a groove.

Well. I met two very nice, very casual guys, who were, as Cait promised, attractive. Both were tall; one had dark hair and long eyelashes but a vaguely lumpy body, and the other—well, when I first peeked into the kitchen and saw him, I felt like I had taken a punch to the gut. He looked like a watered-down blonde version of Perfect with a bad haircut and a weed habit—half the body-size, but with a similar enough nose and facial features to give me internal existential break-downs every time I looked at him, searching his face for more Perfect, and less Other Dude. There is nothing like being young, out-and-about, meeting new people, and desperately wishing with all of your being that they were someone else.

But you can’t force this into happening. This stranger couldn’t turn into Perfect any more than I can morph into Sarah Jessica Parker at will. Yes, I could have gotten black-out drunk and spent the night and slept with this Less-Than-Perfect Perfect substitute, but when it comes down to it, I am a girl with morals and restraint. (I am also ridiculously committed, as it has been pointed out; even when I am not in a committed relationship, I remain a one-man girl.) And so, I drank my one beer, played two rounds of pong—one of which I won—ate some delicious Wings Over boneless golden barbeque wings, made small-talk, and then peaced out after an hour and a half using the (valid) excuse that I had created my own parking spot and didn’t want to get ticketed or towed to come home, back to my apartment, my laptop, and my cookies. (Which I haven’t eaten any more of, because I. Have. Willpower.)

Though I may be a Girl About Town, I am not quite yet a Girl Without Commitments, even if those commitments are tangled, twisted, and unexplored and unexamined. I still feel them, and that’s all that matters for now. Depending on the outcome of this whole Perfect affair, I still have time to regroup, get my A-game back together, and meet lots of other new people. I’m just not ready for it yet. I’m still living in Perfect’s shadow, and though sometimes it’s hard to understand, I’m happy with that for now. Until things either get worked out with him, or I meet someone else who completely blows my panties off, I’m fine with staying in the same place Perfect is and not being over us yet.

(Aside note: Oh, wait—what’s that, dear reader? You say, “What?!” to that comment about Perfect not being over us that I tried to so subtly slip in there because I didn’t want to have to end such a poignant column with one of these explanations paragraphs in parenthesis? That’s right—I’m horrible at keeping you up-to-date. There will be more to come later when I actually finish the column I’ve been working on about life’s most recent events, but to make it short and sweet, while having a serious conversation with Cait last week, she let it drop that the reason why Perfect has been so weird lately is that he’s not over me, or what happened with us, and has realized that the feelings he had for me were bigger than he thought, and he, in fact, still has them. Since this revelation, the Crazy Girl part of me wants to snatch up my cell phone about four times every day and scream at him, “Maybe if you’re having such a hard time getting over me, you MADE A MISTAKE!” But the Sane Girl in me always stops my fingers from pressing “send” and instead says just one word: “Wait.” So I’m waiting—I’m playing it cool, I’m waiting it out, and we’ll eventually get to talk, in person, about what we’re both going through and decide where to go from there. See? Even I mature, after all.)

And it gets later yet, mon petits choux, and I need my beauty sleep, so—


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

For Finding and Keeping

How To Be A Stellar Girlfriend, Or, Ways To Make It Virtually Impossible For Him To Leave You Without His Buddies Killing Him And Jumping To Line Up For You:

#1: It starts simple—the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach. If you can, cook for him. Or if baking’s more your thing, bake yummy things that will make the entire house or apartment smell edible. Even if you think you’re a horrible cook, just seeing you doing something in a kitchen hits a man in some primal part of his brain. Baking brownies from a box is remarkably simple and hard to screw up—try it sometime when he’s around. Or, invite him over for a dinner. I have a fail-proof recipe for seared steak and parmesan oven fries that very well could inspire fights, marriage proposals, or un-ending relationships. (Though you may say, “then why are you still single, smarty-pants?” Well, I haven’t gotten the chance to cook it for any of my men, yet, although a friend’s boyfriend DID have some of the oven fries and declared that if he weren’t an already taken man he would ask me to be his girlfriend. And that was just the fries! Imagine what a good steak could to do a red-blooded man!)

#2: Sneak their favorite treats into their car, gym bag, locker, refrigerator, office, apartment; whatever. Whether it’s chocolate covered gummy bears, like one of my exes, or a six-pack of their beer of choice, a new set of tongs for the grill, a pack of the condoms he likes, or the newest issue of Maxim or the movie he’s been waiting to come out on DVD, when he finds it, he’ll instantly think of you and how considerate you are.

#3: Treat them out to dinner, a drink, or a movie, like they would normally take you out. It’s a cute way to reverse roles and seem like you’re saying, “See? I’m with him. I’m proud of him.” They’re so used to being expected to pay for the women’s way , or at least attempt to offer if you normally go Dutch, that he’ll feel like he has a girl who’s really happy to be with him, and not with his checkbook.

#4: Ok, so, this one is a bit cliché, but so true. Give them head while they watch their favorite movie at home. The only thing that could possibly make “The Departed” more is if his dick is getting sucked or whacked off while the mobsters onscreen are getting whacked, too—just in a different, more Italian, Cosa Nostra way.

#5: Go buy something new from Victoria’s Secret or your favorite local lingerie shop that they’ve never seen you in before so you can spice up a night with the newness of it. Bonus points if it’s something you don’t normally wear, like garters and a garter belt, a corset, or a teddy. It will give him a new sort of thrill to see you in something new to both of you. Plus, hey, you both get to christen a new item of clothing. Ahhh, memories.

#6: If you live farther apart, make sure you split drive-time to visit each other equally. Gas is expensive, and plus, no one wants to feel like the host all the time. Swapping who drives each visit shows that you’re willing to put in your share of time, mileage, and gas to make this thing you two have going work—that you will physically drive to see him.

#7: Bone up a little bit on his favorite sport. Wikipedia is a good place to start for quick information. Really, if during a game you can tell the difference between a three-point shot and a free-throw attempt and what it’s worth, he’ll appreciate your effort and enthusiasm. Also, it might behoove you to know what the real definition of a “tight end” is.

#8: If he’s going to be spending nights at your place and needing someplace to wash up in the morning, get a couple extra toiletries to make him feel more at home. Get some manly soap so he doesn’t have to use your girly shower gel and then go into work, or worse, use nothing at all because he doesn’t want to smell like magnolias and jasmine. Buy a spare toothbrush in case he forgets his; believe me, this is a godsend to you, too. Make sure there’s an extra-big towel in a gender-neutral color that he can use—blues, greens, browns, and reds are good. No man wants to have to use your pink, you-sized towel, because let’s face it, you won’t be able to stop yourself from laughing when you see it wrapped around his waist like a dishtowel from the kitchen.

#9: Respect the “guy time.” Like you need your time with the girls without him so you can tell them all about your life with him, he needs time with his boys without you so he can either tell him about life with you, or actually not have to talk about you for once because you’re not there. If you do want to be included in the guy-time, ask him if he wants to invite the guys over to your place for a movie-night or casual Friday night. Offer to cook or provide the snacks as an incentive. Once they’re there, don’t monopolize conversation or try to distract them for the real reason they’re there: the movie, the beer, and your boyfriend. Let them do their thing. Watching the dynamics can be interesting and educational because you get to see your guy in his natural habitat—with other guys.

#10: If it’s not a big deal, and you can realize this, don’t tell him and try to make it his big deal, too. I see so many girls who make drama because they can’t help it and then drag their guys into it, which then drives him nuts, which then she can’t understand why he’s freaking out at her, too. Really—if you can work it out for yourself, lady, you do it. If you can’t handle it, then go to your girl friends. Only if you can’t help yourself, or can’t turn to your friends or mother for advice or an ear to rant to, then you go to your man. Half of the crap, yes, crap that is going on in your life or your friends’ lives he doesn’t want to hear about. The other half he’ll be more open to hearing and helping you with if you don’t burden him with made-up drama. A hiring, firing, pregnancy, win, loss, or piece of insightful personal information is worth sharing. A chipped nail, missed or lately-responded to text, misplaced ATM card, bicker at work, or jerk that cut you off while driving home isn’t worth the raised-voice, flapping hands spill-fest. Don’t be the “fulla drama mama.” Yes, there are some exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, dudes dig cool chicks, and that goes for laid-back personality. To your friends, roommates, and parents you can be a mess—to the guy you’re seeing, relaxed is a better mood to go for.

If you have any other tried-and-true tips, tricks, or hints, please, write in and leave a comment! I’d love to get a long, interactive, and informative list going that can be referred back to in times of confusion or need. Really, I need your help here, reader. You must have at least one fail-proof trick, you captivating creature. And guys, you’re not exempt. Let us know if something we “swear by” is complete bullshit, or if there’s something that would send you over the moon if your girlfriend or the girl you were dating did for you.

As Magnets Don’t, Opposites Attract Me:

Couples are a touchy subject for me, if you haven’t figured out by now. Just about the only couples I can stand are either ones I know, and not even then in some cases. I try to spend as much time in couple-free zones as possible. (Emily and Travis may be that exception, but they also have figured out the perfect blend of cute couple-dom while still retaining separate and non-overly touchy-feeliness around other people.) However, I can tell you what couples I do like. Couples who are complete opposites, because it always makes me wonder what brought them together. Couples who are mismatched in height. Couples who do decidedly un-coupley things, like skeet shooting or kayaking. Couples who just stay in and don’t feel the need to inflict their couple-ness on other un-coupled people. Couples I am a part of. (Ha. Ha. Of course.)

I’ve learned a few things from the couples I find cute. I’m a notoriously hard-to-peg person when it comes to having a “type” or categorizing what I like in a man—really. Let me take you on a written slide-show. First, there was the Inappropriately Aged Boyfriend—24 (I was 16, hence the moniker), red-headed, beardy, five-eight, with no real defined hobbies or interests other than ultimate frisbee, cooking, and working on expanding his beer-gut and bedding younger women. Then there was Catholic Boy, a grade below me in high school—dark, tan, soccer-boy fit, five-six, ten pounds heavier than I was, and into art, country music, and obeying his Mommy and priest. Then there was the Douche, half a year older—a short, stocky, and swarthy Italian with a Beatles haircut, who played the guitar, loved classic rock and partying, and never followed through with anything he said. The Flaky Artist was tall—six foot and one inch—had just shaved his head and looked like a lanky neo-Nazi and twenty days younger than me. He was into drawing, alternative music, cuddling, and videogames. Then Legs, a graduating senior in college when I was a freshmen—five-ten, 185 pounds of stocky soccer-body and those infamously toned legs, big blue eyes, pouty Cupid lips, receding hairline, baggy-casual clothing, hip-hop music, photography and a snowboarding and World of Warcraft addict. (You wouldn’t have ever known it looking at him.) Jersey Blunt was older than me while a year in college behind due to a probation stint, six-four with black hair and bright blue eyes, thick and expressive eyebrows, a nose with character and a mouth that matched it with what came out of it, and lanky while still managing to be broad in the shoulders and muscular; a button-upped dealer with a gangsta lean. He owned Timberlands, but he also owned a really nice pair of khaki Dockers which he ironed out. He loved his “mugobs” or “gobbies”—what we would call “sunglasses” and owned pairs made by such insignificant people as Dolce and Gabbana, as well as a watch by someone called “Movado”. And then, Mr. Perfect. Six-three, six months younger and two years behind me in the college adventure time-frame, 204 pounds of broad and thick muscle, floppy brown hair, clean-cut Vermont farm-boy attire like the classic broken-in jeans and waffle-thermal longsleeves in colors like muted lake blue, bright hazel eyes that always seemed to laugh, cheekbones that could cut glass, eyelashes a girl would kill for, a strong, straight, “perfect” nose, and a smile that could stop crime. Yeah. Obviously, this guy did, and still does nothing for me. Yeah, right. Hubba hubba.

There are some similarities. I’ve dated more men with brown or hazel eyes than blue, and I don’t really like blonde men—I prefer brunettes, usually with longer-ish hair; you know the cut: it comes down over their ears, the back of their neck, and their forehead resulting in a need for them to flick or toss it out of their eyes when they go too long between cuts, which is often. But I love it. I seem to be partial to Italians or darker-complexioned men, or men who at least tan well in sunlight. I also much prefer tall men, and they have to weigh more than me. I like muscles, quite a bit—after The Inappropriately Aged Boyfriend, I decided that was one thing I could be shallow about. I tend to be attracted to men whose physiques do the classic “V” of broad shoulders and slimmer middles and hips, although Perfect was a “perfect” rectangle, and I loved the sense of broadness and solidness he had. However, I seem to attract blue-eyed men with criminal records of average height and pot-smoking habits. Hmmm. Other than that though, personality seems to be what really draws me in. None of my past relationships really share looks or personality in common, so it seems to be a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about a guy that pulls me in.

So what does this have to do with me and couples? Well, dating all these diverse guys has made me realize the things I find adorable in couples. One—I love height-mismatched couples, especially if the guy is really tall and masculine and broad and the girl is really small and cute. Being with tall guys always made me feel more tiny and feminine than I do normally, and I have a “big personality”, so this is usually hard to accomplish. Most of the time, until I need to reach a shelf, I think I am about five foot and ten inches. When Jersey Blunt could tuck me under his chin up against his chest, or the Flaky Artist would draw me up next to his body and tuck me into him under and arm and rest his head on top of mine where I cuddled in his nook on the couch or Perfect could lift me up and move me around , or carry me piggy-packed for over half-an-hour, I finally got to feel like the petite girl I really am. This directly correlates to my behavior—you can visibly watch me become softer, sweeter, more girlish and less dominant. I bat my eyelashes more. My voice raises an octave, and my mannerisms become more delicate. When I see couples like this—him clearly masculine, her clearly feminine—it reinforces this idea, which I love to see; two people, so comfortable in their roles and with each other that he gets to feel like The Man and she gets to be quiet and lovable and light and airy. Call me traditional, but I can’t help it—when I see these couples on the street, I always think one thing: Love.

I also like couples who are complete physical opposites in their features: he’s dark and she’s light, or vice-versa. If he has really heavy features and black hair and dark eyes, and she’s refined-looking and pale and has wispy and almost silver hair, I think of things like the evil prince and the peasant girl who melts his heart from my childhood story books. (I’m a sucker for storylines, especially in couples.) Or if she’s all sultry and mocha, and he’s icy and cold, it makes me wonder how their opposites attracted. (Again, with the storylines.) The couples that look alike, like they’ve been together so long they’ve started to become one another; they don’t interest me so much. It’s the ones that look so striking together that get me thinking, wondering, and liking.

Where The Wild Things Are:

Every week, an alternative newspaper called “Seven Days” hosts an iSpy section along with the personals. Like a little kid with Christmas presents, I know which one I want to open up to first, but I do love the delicious sense of putting off desire, so instead, I pretend-casually flip through the first section, read all the pertinent area news, open up the second section (getting warmer now,) and read through all the club listing, checking out who’s coming into town. I then read the personals, just for fun, and to play “Guess That Person” because it is, after all, a small town, and finally! On the next fold, the iSpys.

An “iSpy” is basically an ad someone takes out with a description, time, and place that they met someone they want to reconnect with or meet. Or, it can be a shout-out to a friend, a thank-you to a dear lover, or a general note to a group of people or establishment. To me, the iSpys are the ultimate Valentine. Though not especially a fan of Valentine’s Day myself, as I have always, always, always been single and generally tried to avoid the masses of happy and money-spending couples, there is something so fantastic, so novel about a witty and clever blurb in an old-fashioned, black-and-white newspaper whose ink rubs off onto your hands as you turn the wide pages.

I desperately want to be Spied. Every time I go about town, I dress in something distinctive to mark me out from all the other short, small blondes across Burlington with blue eyes. Every week is like a new birthday or Christmas—my heart speeds up and as I get closer to that page, I always think, “Maybe this will be it.” Who would Spy me? That’s half the fun. What would it say? Would it be smart, or would it be totally corny? (I guess this boils down to “what sort of total stranger would I attract?”) How would I respond? Would I respond, or would I take it as the most flattering thing of my life, move on, and never read the iSpys again, mission complete?

I don’t think so. As this hasn’t happened yet, I instead read the iSpys to see what sort of people DO get Spied in my place, or what particular towns are particularly Spy-heavy. Montpelier, actually, attracts a lot of Spying. There’s one blonde, 30-something worker at the Meadow Mart with a great smile who was getting consistently Spied in a bunch of consecutive issues this past Spring. Sometime when I’m in town next, I’m going to stop by and try to find her and see what all the fuss was about.

And an Honorable Men-tion:

A special thank-you tonight to Will, who still gives me the best relationship advice a straight guy can give his female friend, not sparing the gory details of the inner-workings of the young male mind, always sticking up for the manliness and spirit of the guy I’m trying to force into submission to make me see it from his point of view, and for saying the hard things even when he knows I may not want to hear it though it’s the truth—all of this even after the completely unfounded rumors going around campus that we were hooking up. Now that’s friendship. (Also, if anyone knows where/how those rumors started, feel free to fill us in, because we’re clueless. Though I’m sure anyone overhearing us in the cafeteria as I ask him something like, “Hey, what do guys think about when they’re watching porn?” or say something like “I had the most amazing orgasm last night,” would think they knew what’s going on. But honestly—that’s how I talk to all my friends. Aren’t they the lucky bunch?)