Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Um, how about 'No'

This happened last week, but the posts about John were way more fun and exciting to write, so they took precedence. But in any case, this situation is kinda funny/worth mentioning, so here goes.

I was minding my own business at work last week when my BlackBerry alerted me to a Facebook notification. That is not an unusual happening -- with applications growing exponentially and status comments, private messages and wall posts, I nearly always find my phone's LED light blinking at a frenetic pace.

This time, however, it was something wholly unexpected: "[The activist] thinks you should become a fan of [the activist]."

... uh, say what?

First of all, you created a fan club... for yourself? ... Seriously?*

Moreover, you date me, reject me, booty text me on Valentine's Day, pretend to ask for a second date, friend me, ignore me, and now you want me to join the masses in performing fellatio on your ego by publicly declaring myself a fan girl?

Hmm, a sound idea... but you know what? I got a better one:

**DELETE.**

**DEFRIEND.**





*SRSLY -- who does that?!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I apply John's Gospel; subsequently WIN AT LIFE

If you've been following this blog for any period of time, it's probably become pretty evident that I've been overdoing it a lot lately. What can I say? Hazards of dating. I've found a little liquid courage is necessary for any new meeting, and I have a personality that tends to err on the side of excess. I'll have a glass of wine in my hand, and I'll be chatting, and I'll be making people laugh, and, oops, I'll have had four! Shitter! I realize I need to cut back on this shit and act like a goddamned adult, if for no other reason than all this drinking is starting to make me fat again.

In any case, I've been describing my life lately as College: The Sequel for all the nights in recent memory that I've spent in varying levels of sobriety. So when my best friend and former roommate Alyssa began organizing a group trip back to our old stomping grounds of Ohio University, it wasn't just mandatory that I attend -- it was simply the natural progression of events, the universe aligning itself on its axis. Its completely shit-faced axis.

Saturday night, the plan was to hit Court Street, the magical fairyland of Athens, Ohio, where the beers are cheap, the women are inappropriately dressed and dreams really do come true. There are at least 10 bars on that street alone, and several others litter the side streets perpendicular to it. Bearing that in mind, my personal plan: Get drunk and hit on college boys using the medium risk/medium reward theory of the Pick-Up Gospel According to John.

John and I texted back and forth while I trekked Uptown from my friend Jeffrey's apartment, where I was squatting for the weekend. John advised me to remember to be confident and that the Number 1 rule was that I must talk to strangers.

"I feel pretty good about my chances here -- this is a low-risk situation," I messaged. "The guys will be drunk and I'll never see them again. Also, my boobs look big in this dress... so there's that."

Jeffrey was less optimistic for me. "I'm gonna say 'no' on this one," he commented with a smirk. "It's a numbers game -- everyone is still home on Spring Break."

Well, we'll see about that, I thought, my competitive instinct having been triggered.

The two of us joined up with the rest of our group for dinner at Jackie O's, a brew pub just around the corner from the heart of the Court Street bar scene. The group, I should note, included Alyssa and her husband, their happily coupled-up neighbors, Alyssa's parents (married, of course), me, Jeffrey... and three single girls: Alison, Amber and Jessica.

Single. Pretty. Wingwomen. Perfection.

I used dinnertime to explain the theory to the girls and lay out a plan for how we were going to do it. "Whatever I say, ladies," I intoned, "you go along with it. No questions asked. Got it?"

They collectively giggled -- I'm not sure if they understood at this point how serious I was. But they'd soon find out.

"At some point tonight, I'm going to tell a guy that one of you is releasing an album. Who's prepared to act the part?" I asked.

Amber volunteered. "OK, you're my girl. Just be ready for it when it happens," I instructed.

After we wiped our mouths from dinner and paid our tabs, the group migrated to the first designated drinking spot of the evening, The Cat's Eye. And once inside the door, I feared Jeffrey's dire predictions were all-too spot on: There were maybe eight people seated at the bar -- mostly women -- a bartender, a doorman, and us. That was it.

Damn you, Spring Break! I cursed the heavens. The college boys were undoubtedly all tanned and hot-looking, but they weren't here. Goddammit!

We ordered drinks and congregated in the back by the pool tables. Some members of the group started playing a round, but I hung back, surveying the scene. My eyes drifted across the room -- people at the bar... bartender... doorman. People at the bar... bartender... doorman. Hmm, doorman...

The doorman was tubby, fidgety, visibly awkward -- clearly a hard "no." But because I wasn't interested, I had nothing to lose. He would be easy prey.

I gathered the girls around. "OK, here's what's going to happen," I explained. "I'm going to go talk to the doorman, but not because I'm interested in him -- I'm the lioness, and he's the wildebeest in the pack that only has three legs. This is just how I'm going to start talking to people tonight."

And with that, the hunt was on. I walked directly over to him. OK, medium risk, medium reward. Get his opinion on something; get him talking. You can do it!

"Hi, so I was just back there talking to my girlfriends about this, and I figure you're the doorman so you have got to have an opinion -- when girls walk in here dressed inappropriately for the weather, like me right now, do you judge them?"

OK, so admittedly, that was kind of stupid, but I was wearing a skirt and Doorman was into it. Whatev. He assured me that no, he didn't judge people, and was just all about checking the IDs. That led to a discussion about whether or not he encounters fakes (he does), which led to me admitting that this was the bar I drank illegally at with my fake ID the most as an undergrad. That led to him describing it as a "rugby bar," saying he was a rugby coach, and letting slip the tidbit that the bartender was also a rugby player.

Why thank you, Doorman. You've just given me my in with the cute bartender.

Alison, Amber and Jessica apparently couldn't watch me from afar any longer, and came over to get in on my conversation with Doorman. I introduced them, then went to get a refill on my beer.

"Hi, I'd like a second one of these, and I hear you're a rugby player?" I smoothly transitioned into chatting up the bartender.

We started talking about the rugby scene at OU and how exactly the sport is played. It was clear I'd hit upon a topic he was passionate about; he told me to "wait one second" while he served impatient bar-goers before getting back to me more about the sport. He introduced himself as Kevin.

My wingwomen then came over to join me at the bar after removing themselves from Doorman.

"OK, well, that was OK," Alison began. "But can we go talk to someone... um... less retarded?"

"Yes, of course. Who do you want to talk to?"

"The bartender's pretty cute. Were you talking to him?"

"Oh, you mean my old friend Kevin?" I grinned. "Yeah, I'll call him over."

I summoned the bartender. "Kevin, I was just telling my friends you played on the rugby team."

And we were off and running again. We asked if he ever got hurt playing; he showed us some tiny scars over the tops of his brows.

"I can barely see them!" I exclaimed. "You need bigger ones -- chicks dig scars, after all."

I checked my phone -- the little LED light was blinking, indicating a text message.

John.

"How's it going tonight?"

"Oh my god, I'm doing so well. I just chatted up the doorman and the bartender here!" I excitedly texted back.

"Try this: Go up to a guy, and ask if he has any scars. If he says no, say, 'That's a pity. Chicks dig scars,'" he wrote.

"OMG I TOTALLY JUST DID THAT. The bartender plays rugby and he had scars!"

This exchange reinforced to me what I already had suspicions of: I WAS ON FIRE! En fuego! I could talk to ANYONE!

The group decided that the party train needed to pull out of the station, so I told Kevin to have a good night, high-fived Doorman and flitted down the street to the Pigskin and their infamous Black Widows ("If you're not ready to end the night, the Black Widow ends it for you!" they say).

Along the way, a group of guys standing outside the CI, yet another bar, started cat-calling out to us. And I cat-called right back.

"Come with us!"

They hesitated -- clearly, some of them wanted to come with us, and some of them wanted to go into the bar they were waiting in line for. One guy in particular was really pushing hard for his friends to come join the pretty girls in the bar down the street. I decided to be an instigator.

"Fuck your friends! Come with us! We're way more fun!"

Two of them broke from the pack. "Yeah! Fuck your friends! Fuck them!" I called out again as they joined us.

They were from Cleveland and were in town for a bachelor party -- the only over-30 guys in the entire city of Athens. Hey, works for me! I thought to myself. This is the age range I should be dating anyway!

As we entered the bar, I turned to Bachelor Party Guy #1: "We're all out celebrating tonight for Amber -- she's releasing an album. It's dropping June 1st."

Bachelor Party Guy #1 hedged a bit: "... Really?"

"Yeah, we're envisioning her as the country version of Kesha. I mean, look how gorgeous she is; isn't she gorgeous?" I said. Bachelor Party Guy #1 agreed. "You should see her what her picture on her album cover looks like."

"You wanna hear me sing? Ask me to sing anything -- we'll go outside and I'll sing for you!" Amber proclaimed. Brilliant. I LOVE this girl!

I left Amber to improvise while I talked to Bachelor Party Guy #2. He bought me a drink (a Black Widow, of course) and proceeded to tell me, in great detail, how hot he thought I was. Maybe another girl would have felt objectified; I, however -- having spent far too many years as the proverbial Ugly Duckling -- felt exhilarated, and more confident than I ever have in my life. It only bolstered my ability to talk to people.

The Bachelor Party Guys went to the bathroom, and that gave the girls and I a chance to regroup.

"I hope he doesn't actually take me up on my offer to go outside and sing," Amber laughed. "I can't sing at all!"

The Bachelor Party Guys came back, and I laid the Amber's-dropping-an-album story on Bachelor Party Guy #2. He seemed a bit skeptical, until Bachelor Party Guy #1 came over: "Seriously, dude -- she's going to be famous."

OMFG, THIS IS RICH!!!

"I just convinced these guys my friend is releasing an album," I texted John. "You should be shedding a tear right now!"

Our group decided to be migratory yet again, and we packed up and headed up the street to the CI. The Bachelor Party Guys came with us, but in an unfortunate turn of events for them, they were thoroughly upstaged by the bouncer -- he was HOT! And he was next on my agenda.

Medium risk, medium reward... here we go!

I didn't even have to bullshit too much for this one: "So, I've got a question for you, since I don't know you from Adam," I started (and yes, I am totally stealing that line from John). "If you were dating a girl, and you found out she had a blog about dating, would you break up with her?"

Bouncer, unfortunately, said he would (wah wah), but of course, my aim was not to make a long-lasting love connection. It was merely to have the confidence to start a conversation with cute boys and see how long I could keep them engaged. I chatted up Bouncer for a solid period of time before my wingwomen started hinting they wanted to get in on the action.

This time, Jessica was up. "He's really cute. I want to talk to him."

"OK -- I'm going to make up weird bullshit, and you're going to go with it, right?"

"Yep." Jessica had the same look on her face as an athlete right before he puts on his helmet and runs onto the field to join the formation. She was ready.

"Where are you from again?" I asked her.

"Canton," she replied.

"OK," I said. I approached Bouncer: "Hey, this is my friend Jessica -- she's the top pediatrician in all of Canton."

And with that, I walked away, leaving Jessica to figure out how to make that story work.

We hung out at the CI a little while longer, then continued roving down the street, stopping at The Junction. I felt amazing -- I was sociable, funny and, apparently, hot!

"All these guys keep telling me how good my boobs look in this dress! I TOLD you!" I texted John.

"Good for you. Now, up the ante a little bit. Insult one of them, but do it playfully," John texted back. "And for God's sake -- send a pic!"

I continued flirting my way through the bar.
And all the while, it was like I couldn't lose. Failure wasn't an option because failure hadn't even been invented in my life.

"OMG I AM AWESOME!" I texted John. "Everything is working! Seriously, I am AWESOME at this!"

"
I know you are. You know you are. But you're not awesome because it's working. It's working because you're awesome. Remember that," John texted back, attaching a smiley emoticon.

........ agggh! John, meet me at Camera 2. Everyone else, go watch this video of my best buddy from high school Mark singing a hilarious song he wrote about boobs (trust me, he's really talented and funny!). We'll all reconvene back here in about 4 minutes, cool?

------------------------------------
CAMERA 2: Stop saying sweet and vaguely boyfriendy things to me, Asshole -- I don't wanna like you! It's seriously annoying how charming you are -- seriously.
------------------------------------

And we're back! Did you enjoy the song? I told you he's hilarious!

Anyway, at the Junction, I ended up wrecking my own game because I was, well, wrecked. I fell down there, landing hard on my left knee (it KILLS, even two days later). The group moved around the corner to Tony's, where I had one final drink -- Tony's signature shot, the Hot Nut (there's a "That's What She Said" joke in here somewhere, I'm sure). And the night, which had already started to go fuzzy, went completely black. Apparently, a cab was called to come get me, and a freakin' LIMO showed up -- I spent about 45 minutes of my life in a limo on Saturday, and I don't remember any of it! WTF!

Regardless, Athens, Ohio, FOR THE WIN. This night gave me the total confidence boost I needed to be able to talk to guys back here in D.C.

I still can't believe how much I rule!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Pick-Up Gospel According to John

I have met the greatest pick-up artist who art in D.C., and John be thy name.

There's a bit of a back story that leads to John coming strong on the scene over the last week. I'll try to be as brief as possible in order to get to the good stuff you want to hear about. Because trust me, you want to hear it. This shit will blow your mind.

About a month ago, I joined co-workers out for margaritas at Guapo's in Shirlington when one of our former ranks -- the irrepressible Scotty -- came back to town for a visit after moving to Texas. The issue of dating came up, and C.Mark (another co-worker) impressed upon me the idea that I needed to find myself a "wingman."

"I already have a wingman," I said. "I go out with Sean all the time."

"No no no, that's not your wingman," C.Mark said in his trademark drawl. "A wingman is going to be loud, and draw all the attention in the bar to himself, and then shift it to you. That's your wingman."

I then suggested that it sounded as if he should be my wingman, and we should hang out sometime and put that theory into practice. Then it was late, and we all went home.

Fast-forward to last Monday, March 15. The very same C.Mark had organized a happy hour at Daniel O'Connell's in Old Town for current and former co-workers, and I was invited. I cuted up for the occasion because I'd heard tell of a new reporter verging dangerously on attractive, and I wanted to look good on the off-chance he'd be there. For the record, he wasn't, and it turns out he's got a girlfriend anyway. But that didn't slow me down -- I happily chatted my way around the room, befriending those I didn't know very well and flirting my way into quick service at the bar.

And on one trek across the room to that very bar, I was intercepted.

"Hey, so I'm having a cigarette and I'm talking to my guy friends, and we're having a debate that could use a female perspective. So I figure, I don't know you from Eve, I'll come over here and get your unbiased opinion, is that cool?"

It was John. And while he said he didn't know who I was, I did know him -- our tenures at the office had overlapped for about a month in 2007, with him leaving for greener pastures just as I was settling in. While I, as the low man on the totem pole, was busy learning the ropes and keeping my head down in a decidedly mousy fashion, John was hard to miss: Loud, brassy, headset on, hands on hips, firmly standing in the middle of the newsroom, interviewing people on the phone. He was a monumental figure.

I told him to lay his story on me. I listened as he spoke about a girl he'd been dating for about four months who had checked his e-mail as he went to the bathroom. Was that a breakup-worthy offense, he wanted to know?

Hooked. I don't know whether he had inside information or whether this was just a lucky guess, but e-mail-checking is a hot-button issue for me -- it's how I discovered Ex-BF v. 2.0 went behind my back with his ex-girlfriend. (Not my finest moment, for sure, but that asshole had it coming.) I offered my various thoughts on the subject and chatted back and forth with him.

He was snarky and quick-witted -- at once being a total dick and yet buttering me up. It was almost a test of endurance to try to take him on. But he was engaging, and I definitely was engaged.

John adeptly shifted the subject: "Now, I know where you work, but I gotta say, I get a sense from you that that's not really your thing. What is your thing?"

"Well, I write this fabulous blog," I started.

And he pounced: He had a critical word for just about everything I said I'd done and called me a "serial dater." I actually started to get genuinely pissed off at this point because the past six months notwithstanding, I AM SO NOT A SERIAL DATER. GODDAMMIT.

But just when John was about to lose my attention for good, he confessed: "I knew who you were and that you wrote a blog. I told C.Mark I was going to come over here and talk to you." He explained that his tale of woe with an e-mail-checking girlfriend was some cockamamie bullshit he'd pulled out of his ass just to start up a conversation with me.

Hooked again! "I feel like you need to teach me what you know," I said, completely in awe.

C.Mark, sitting just behind us, chimed in to confirm: "Yes -- that's your wingman. John's a good wingman."

John and I (with yet another co-worker in tow, who'd recently ended a six-year relationship and needed to be comfortably drunk) hatched plans to strike out from the work happy hour. And John would teach me the art of how to pick people up -- or, as I'm deeming it, the Pick-Up Gospel According to John.

John 3/15

We decided to go to Crystal City Sports Pub because... well, I didn't have any better ideas. It's my home turf, my default bar. I know it like the back of my hand. I'm Facebook friends with some of the bartenders. I'm sayin', I go there a lot.

And so do my neighbors, apparently -- as John, Sanborn and I walked in the door, Megan C. and my college friend Emily were walking out.

"Hey, ladies!" I exclaimed. "What are you guys up to tonight?"

Before they could answer, John turned the charm button up to 11: "Ladies, I see you're leaving, but it's still early, and we just got here. I think you guys should go back inside and have a drink with us."

Megan C. and Emily looked at each other hesitatingly, and John pushed: "Come on -- one drink."

And with that, they folded! These two are my friends, and I wouldn't have even been able to get them to turn around -- John did it in two seconds flat! This guy is SCARY GOOD!

So we went in and had the drink, but the group got sort of separated -- Sanborn, Megan C. and I were in one conversation; Emily and John in another. When Megan and Emily said adieu, John came back over to me: "You SUCK as a wingman. You should have been over there helping me out."

He described chatting Emily up by saying his 17-year-old sister wanted to get a tattoo of her boyfriend's name. John said he told Emily that he was a Marine and had lots of tattoos, but this was clearly a bad idea on his sister's part, right? As someone who was a 17-year-old girl once, could Emily provide advice for how to get through to his sister?

"Do you have a 17-year-old sister?" I asked.

"No, I don't even have any tattoos!" John said.

John then delved into his patented style for engaging anyone -- and I mean ANYONE -- in conversation. He broke it down into three types of approaches: 1. High risk/high reward ("Nice shoes. Wanna fuck?" It's clearly a balls-to-the-wall way to hit on someone, and total failure is likely. But if it works? YOU'RE IN.) 2. Low risk/low reward ("What time is it?" Everyone will tell you the time. But that doesn't mean they'll give you the time of day! Zing!)

Finally, and this was the golden one: 3. Medium risk/medium reward. It's the kind of approach he used on both me and Emily -- creating a believable scenario and asking for advice on it. It always gets a conversation going.

"So what do you do when it becomes apparent that you lied and you don't have a sister or any tattoos?" I asked.

"Oh, that's easy," John pooh-poohed my concerns. "All you have to do is say, 'Girl, I was just saying that to try to get with you.' She'll be flattered."

"Holy shit, that WOULD TOTALLY work on me!!!" I chortled. I was flabbergasted, fascinated, utterly intrigued! "I feel like I should be taking notes!"

John went on to give one final bit of wisdom: "What really helps is when you divorce yourself from the idea that YOU can be rejected. YOU can't be rejected -- they don't know you. They can't reject you because they don't know who you are. They can only reject your approach. If you got shot down, your approach was wrong."

STUNNING! Sanborn and I wanted to see John in action. There was a group of four girls sitting down at the end of the bar; we sent John in to use his moves.

"I'm going to use the exact same line I used on you," he said, looking me in the eye. "And it's going to work."

He added the caveat that what he was promising was not to snag a girl for a one-night stand or even get any numbers; he was just going to get a conversation started. We said OK, and sat back to watch.

And it did work. He chatted the group up with gusto.

At that point, it was ridiculously late, and I needed to be up at the crack of dawn for work, so we called it a night. And I went home bewitched, bothered and bewildered, contemplating medium risk/medium reward approaches and the inability for ME to be rejected. What a brilliant concept!

John 3/23

Unfortunately, over the weekend I discovered it was only a concept -- I did a Girls' Night Out on Friday and was on a mission to talk to boys while armed with my new-found knowledge, but when I ultimately found myself in a bar full of them I panicked and couldn't muster up the nerve. I went home frustrated, moderately drunk and cursing myself for being tongue-tied.

What would John do (WWJD)? He certainly wouldn't have completely lost it like I did. I needed more lessons.

We exchanged a few text messages, and agreed to meet up on Tuesday night (and I ditched out on trivia night with another friend to do this -- oops). Originally, he'd wanted me to venture into the city and get us tickets for open-mic night at Busboys and Poets in the U Street Corridor, but I REALLY needed to do laundry in the afternoon, so I totally dropped the ball on that. I figured it wouldn't sell out... but I was wrong.

"Fail" read the text message from John when he discovered there were no more tickets.

As a backup, we agreed to meet at RFD in Chinatown. He got there way before me, so he got a table and had a drink waiting for me when I arrived.

And then... the night commenced! Somewhere in between the previous week, where we'd worked on picking up other people, and the moment I arrived at the bar, the evening turned into... dare I say it? A date? I don't know -- it was a gray area! Bwah!

I'm not even sure what to call it, but whatever it was, I was having FUN. John is a funny motherfucker -- I laughed harder with him than I have IN MONTHS. My abs felt like I had been doing sit-ups nonstop for approximately the last decade. There were several moments where I came horrifyingly close to spewing my beer out of my mouth from laughter. (I held it in, though).

We had two beers and noticed a kung-fu gift shop across the street -- John just HAD to go in. And buy nunchucks. Hilarity ensued, as well as some creative Facebook updating that had several of my friends panicking ("Why is he buying NUNCHUCKS!?!?!" read the freaked out message from Natalie. Stepf also BlackBerry Messaged me to ask if I was safe.)

We continued down the streets of Chinatown and meandered into Clyde's, where we faced the same bartender I'd seen the previous night with the videographer. (The bartender smirked at me -- I wanted to explain the situation, but never got a chance.)

Then I texted Al -- her new man works at Bar Louie right around the corner, and I wanted to see if he were scheduled for the night. Indeed he was, and Al was headed over! I dragged John with me in the pursuit of discounted drinks.

We settled in at a table, and Al eventually joined us. There were introductions all around. There was some discussion of what a chair would look like if your knees bent the other way (don't even ask; we'd been drinking for hours). Then John started describing his pick-up game to Al, and how it always -- ALWAYS!!! -- works.

Much like the previous night I'd hung out with him, we decided the game was something we needed to see and expressed a desire to send him out into the wild. This time, we picked a table for him to approach: two guys, two girls -- clearly a double date.

Awkward times 10, right? Not to John. "Here's how this is going to go down. I'm going to engage the guys first, and shoo off the girls like, 'Hey, guys talkin' here, go away.' And then the girls are going to immediately want to get in on it. Just watch; it's going to work."

Off he went. Sure enough, it worked.

And then, Al pointed her finger in my face: "DO NOT LOOK AT HIM WITH GOOGLY EYES," she admonished. "A guy who just spent a whole evening telling us how easy it is to run game is NOT AN OPTION."

Indeed -- no. Hell no, even. John is the physical embodiment of he is not different, you are not special. The man could sweet talk his way into a PETA rally while wearing a fur coat and scarfing down a juicy burger. He'd flirt with a tree if the wind were blowing it all sexy-like. Hell, he got the information from our server at RFD, and I was sitting right there with him! Going out with him would be the dater's equivalent of getting a giant snake tattoo across my face -- the entire world would subsequently question my ability to exercise good judgment. He is The Creature from the Planet Don't Date Me.

Still... I can't deny how much fun I had with him. I can't date him -- can't date him -- but I can still hang out with him... right? Right?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The videographer

A few weeks ago, a new fan page started circulating amongst my friends on Facebook: Secret DC. The idea behind it was that people could suggest off-the-beaten-path places to go around town for various things -- best places for karaoke, best places for Middle Eastern cuisine, best places for brunch, etc. I chipped in my two cents for myriad topics, but overall found it less than illuminating ("Georgia Brown's for brunch!!!!" wrote the masses... not exactly a secret, that one, is it?).

In any case, coinciding with my "fanning" of this page, I got a friend request from a stranger. We had no mutual friends and didn't appear to belong to any same groups.

"Hey," I wrote in a message. "Who are you?"

"You don't know me," the stranger responded. "Just see your name pop up on Secret DC a bit, just wanting to say hi."

OK, sure, whatever. I accepted the request and chatted with him a bit. He told me he is a videographer and sent me a link to his Web site. I took the opportunity to share the link to this blog, since everyone seems to tell me I'm a good writer and, frankly, I love the ego boost.

And the videographer came through on that front: "Checked out the blog... it's great writing!"

But then, he asked if I wanted to get a drink somewhere, and I was a little wary about that. For starters, the videographer is 41, which, clearly, is a lot older than I tend to date. Moreover, going on a date from a random friending? Could be fishy. And, if the latest poll results on here are any indication, you guys didn't think accepting that date was a good idea, either (out of 23 votes, 18 were against).

I left his message on ice for a while, and then my birthday and all related shenanigans happened, and I completely forgot about the whole situation.

Fast-forward to last Thursday. I had just posted my blog about my nightmare date with the management analyst, and I got a message from the videographer: "I must tell you I love your blog! Not only is the writing incredible, but I found myself laughing out loud at your 'St. Paddy's Day Massacre,'" he said. And again, he asked if I'd like to go get drinks sometime.

I considered the proposition. Not pushy, by any means, but persistent enough to ask me out again after I'd ignored it the first time. And he flattered me. And it's 2010, the year I've decided to give caution the middle finger and say yes to the opportunities presented to me, whatever they may be (e.g. I'm going skydiving next month).

I decided to write the videographer back. "If you're technically 'asking me out' right now," I warned, "I will blog about it."

He confirmed his intentions, said he was OK with being reviewed and even weighed in on his blog nickname.

I have to admit, the idea of it all was intriguing to me. I have had guys find out about the blog after the fact (and promptly reject me, wah wah wah), but no one has ever gone into it having full-blown access before. Could I really be 100 percent honest about what I was thinking and feeling on a date, knowing the videographer would be sure to read it?

Well, I can't compromise the integrity of the blog... so here goes.

I agreed to meet the videographer at Jaleo in Chinatown on Monday night for sangria and tapas at happy hour. It was about Friday when we started formulating plans, and all weekend long I joked to my friends: "So, I'm going out with a guy who randomly friended me on Facebook. Is he going to murder me, or just rape me?" I was kidding, but a little part of me still was a bit wary.

The plan was to meet at 6, but in my true fashion, I shot that to hell almost immediately. I tried to pack too many things into the afternoon between getting off work and getting out the door for the date, and then, BOTH my mom and my sister called... sigh. The three of us are from the same family, but those two speak their own language. For example, when I say, "Hey, I can't talk right now because I need to take a shower and get out the door," they hear, "Hey, tell me all your problems and spare no details." (Ironically, when I actually say, "Hey, tell me all your problems and spare no details," they still hear, "Hey, tell me all your problems and spare no details.")

I didn't end up getting into the shower until almost an hour after I was supposed to. Then, when I finally got out the door, I hustled over to the Metro in time to see the train I needed pulling away -- its passengers blissfully on their way to Chinatown and beyond, me shaking my fist at it. Add to that that the day was moderately humid, and seven blocks to the Metro stop from my apartment was all it took for my hair to frizz out of control. When I at last boarded the Yellow Line train, hopped out at Chinatown and bounded down the street, the stiletto heel of one of my shoes got caught in a sewer grate on 7th Street, ripping my shoe off, tripping me, and knocking my other shoe off in the process. Yes, I was barefoot on the streets of Chinatown -- sick!

Bottom line, I ended up being 45 minutes late, and looking like A HOT MESS. Ugh! When I got into the restaurant, I didn't see the videographer. That's it, he left, I thought to myself. Well, I deserved that one.

But then, I caught the eyes of a gentleman coming toward me -- the videographer. He hadn't left! He was shorter than I would have preferred, but at least it wasn't a situation where he blatantly lied about it. And he looked younger than his pictures, also a good thing.

"I feel the need to apologize to you," I said as he approached. "For my lateness, and for my hair."

We took a seat at the bar, I ordered a sangria, and we started getting to know each other. The videographer grew up locally, moved to Portland, Ore., for a while, and now is back and looking for a permanent place.

It was really easy to talk to him -- he's very animated, and isn't your typical 41-year-old, in that he's still interested in going out and socializing, he's never been married, he doesn't have kids, etc. (a good thing because that last item would have been a deal-breaker). We ordered a few items of tapas and continued talking for at least another hour.

At some point in the evening, however, something started to fester in the back of my brain. Something is off here, I thought to myself. I can't put my finger on it, but something is off. What is it that's bothering me?

The obvious answers would have been the age or the height, but that clearly wasn't it. And the videographer wasn't egotistical or otherwise odd, so that wasn't it either. What was it? What was giving me pause?

And then I realized -- animated, swears a lot, flirts with immaturity -- holy shit, it's like I'm on a date with myself!

Yes, the videographer reminds me somewhat of a 41-year-old male version of me. I almost had a hard time conversing back and forth with him after that because I was so thrown off by that idea.

When we were finished with tapas, he asked if I wanted to go somewhere else. It was about 8:30, and while I was having a good time, I also didn't want to overdo it and stay out too late. However, I agreed to walk down the street with him and go to a different location, just to switch things up a bit.

We ended up going into Clyde's, as it's pretty much the first bar between Jaleo and the Metro stop. I didn't drink any more; the videographer got a beer.

We continued to talk -- I described how passionate I feel about creative writing, and the videographer deemed that "sexy." He told a story about dropping lighting equipment off of a hotel balcony (could have been a real horror show -- luckily, no one was hurt). After he finished his drink we walked to the Metro.

It was at this point that in my head, I started analyzing all that had befallen me during the evening. I did enjoy the videographer's company, but he did remind me A LOT of myself -- does that equate to a relationship chemistry, or a friendship chemistry? Or some sort of combination of both? I wasn't sure what I was feeling.

I said goodbye to the videographer at the top of the escalator down to the Yellow Line. I hugged him, and at first I thought that was going to be that... but then he suddenly pulled me in for a kiss. I was caught a little off-guard -- we were blocking the escalator, and there were people all around us, walking really close! Bah! I don't mind PDA, but I do like it to be off to the side of the room instead of smack dab in the middle. We said our final goodbyes and caught our respective trains.

I woke up this morning to both an e-mail and a text message from the videographer. I wrote him back and told him I'd had fun!

But to analyze -- friendship or relationship? I'm not 100 percent sure where my heart is falling on this one, but I'm willing to give it another shot to find out. He's definitely a fun guy, and I'd enjoy having him in my life regardless.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh, this is rich (Participation entry!!!)

My date with the management analyst sucked, and it was pretty clear to me we both knew it. I didn't contact him afterward, he didn't contact me, and we both went on living our lives as if it never happened.

Until today, when apparently he felt compelled to write me an e-mail:

It may be a moot point by now as you haven't tried to contact me since Wednesday either, but I've always been an advocate of closure/honesty with dating. I had a good time chatting with you the other night, but something happened last week right before we finalized our plans and I'd be remiss to not pursue it. I didn't want to cancel last minute, but at the same time I also now feel guilty that I simply wasted your time. I presume the is probably a common conundrum in the world of eharmony. I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit of something similar.

Uh, yeah -- it is a moot point. We had each other's info and neither one of us chose to use it, and now it's nearly a week later. I think that's all the closure that was necessary. But what's really irritating about this is that it's douchebaggery in nice-guy clothing. You don't need a break-up e-mail after one date, particularly if the person didn't contact you to ask you out again. This e-mail was done entirely to salvage his ego -- "You didn't contact me, but NAY! It is I who reject YOU!"

I deleted the e-mail, but part of me feels like writing the management analyst back and saying, "Buddy, you wasted my time the moment you wrote 5'9" on your profile." But I'll maintain some semblance of decency and not be snarky...

... but that doesn't mean you can't.

Dear readers, if you could write back to this e-mail in any way you chose with no reprisals, what would you say? Please leave me a comment with your snarkiest responses. I'll be waiting!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fifth date with the assistant project manager: I'm giving up

... I'm so disappointed. I don't even know if I have it in me to do a fully in-depth write-up of this date.

After having a fourth date with the assistant project manager last Thursday, I went back to Ohio to spend the weekend with my parents. I didn't hear from him all weekend, and by Monday I was starting to worry about the implications of that.

To figure out whether or not that was a red flag, I conferred with a few friends: Alyssa, Stepf, Kirk and Sean. Their opinions were divided by sex -- Alyssa and Stepf wagered he knew I was home and didn't want to bother me ("OK, you went out on Thursday, he knew you were going home to be with family, he's not going to bug you while you're there and now it's Monday... HOW is this a red flag?" exclaimed an exasperated Alyssa). But Kirk and Sean said simply: "He could have sent a text."

True story -- he could have sent a text. Hrm. I wanted to believe my female friends' optimism, but I couldn't deny that those with penises probably knew better. Still, I e-mailed the assistant project manager that afternoon to say I was back in town and to let me know if he'd like to get together this week.

He e-mailed back to say his schedule didn't leave much room for going out, "but maybe Thursday."

OK, that's a blow-off, I told myself. I sighed, chalked it up to another loss, and e-mailed him back with something like, "Just let me know what you're up for, either way." I wasn't really expecting to hear back, and I told Stepf not to feel bad if it didn't work out between me and the assistant project manager.

But then, Tuesday night, he called -- actually picked up the phone and called -- to set up something for Thursday. We talked for about a half an hour, then agreed to play it by ear and meet at the Chinatown Metro station. Aha! The dudes are wrong on this one! I thought, feeling triumphant.

Anyway, to make this as short as possible, so I don't waste your time like I feel mine has been wasted:

We meet at the Metro, have an awkward moment with a homeless man (as I was giving the man some money, he asked how long we'd been together; I ignored it and kept counting my ones out loud, the assistant project manager answered with "Not long"), and decide to venture a few blocks down the street to Momiji for sushi. Good conversation; I say something awkward about how if you just force yourself to take your coffee black eventually you'll never want it with cream and sugar again (I literally started the sentence, "Once you go black..."). We laugh. We laugh really hard. We finish dinner and go to Rocket Bar to play pool (he'd never been there before). There are many things I am good at in life; pool is not one of them. He soundly beats me. As I am bemoaning the fact that all my balls are on the table and he only has to sink the Eight Ball to best me, he puts his arm around me and pulls me in, lingering there for a while. That hug situation repeats itself several more times. We decide to play a board game because me losing another round of pool is just too humiliating. I beat him this time.

Then, it's late. We walk to the Metro. We chat for a few moments prior to me going downstairs to the Yellow Line platform and him walking over to catch the Red Line. He pulls me in for a hug... and says goodbye.

He didn't kiss me goodnight. This was our fifth date. THIS IS HORSE SHIT.

Why would he call me to plan an evening, hug me like he means it but then not seal the deal at the end of the night? I know he's not gay, and I was having a particularly good hair day. What the hell? Shouldn't he be trying to take my clothes off by now?

Kirk analyzed for me this morning: "He's on the fence about you."

Hmm. Sigh. Indeed. If that's the case, I'm giving up. This is too much work to try to make him like me, and I'm not going to waste any more time on a guy who isn't sure. If he wants to get in touch with me, he knows how. But as for me, I'm moving on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The management analyst

I repeat: Don't waste your money on eHarmony.

On Wednesday night, I went out with the management analyst, one of two guys eHarm has delivered to me with whom I've gotten to the "e-mail" stage of the process.

For the uninitiated, the way eHarmony works is once you've got a match you'd like to communicate with, you first send each other five hand-picked multiple choice questions. Should the answers there be deemed acceptable, you move on to sending your "Must-Haves and "Can't Stands" -- 10 traits each you choose from a list eHarmony has cooked up. This part of the process is completely ridiculous to me because aside from one or two traits that it's conceivable people could disagree on, e.g. being a neat freak, the likes and dislikes seem pretty universal (I mean, seriously, you can choose "Infidelity" as one of your "Can't Stands" -- what reasonable person has no problem with being cheated on?!).

Anyway, after that, you can send three short-answer questions, and, again, if those answers are deemed acceptable, the floodgates open and you can e-mail with reckless abandon.

So, the management analyst and I made our way through the process. I always choose to send some of the zanier short-answer questions in the third round -- for me, I'd prefer to get a feel for your personality through your telling the story of the worst date you've ever been on rather than knowing your feelings on "traditional gender roles." The management analyst had a pretty brilliantly awful bad-date story, and I decided he seemed like someone whom I'd like to meet because he could make me laugh.

We exchanged e-mails to plan, and initially I agreed to his suggestion of meeting Tuesday for a showing of Repo Men, which he'd snagged free passes to. However, Monday night, I went to a happy hour with co-workers and ended up staying out waaaaay too late learning the art of picking up people and how to be a wingman with a former co-worker named John (blog entry on that evening coming soon, I promise -- it was just so mind-blowing to me that I'm taking a few days to let it all marinate). After only getting about four hours of sleep that night (in addition to being slightly wary of the movie date, which I don't necessarily think is a good idea for a first date), I e-mailed the management analyst to say I was wrecked and wasn't going to be able to make the evening happen.

He was cool about it, but unfortunately both of our weeks didn't leave much room for rescheduling. Wednesday, of course, was St. Patrick's Day, and the management analyst mentioned getting together with his friends later in the evening for the requisite blatant mid-week alcoholism and faux-Irish pride that go hand-in-hand with the holiday. So, I suggested meeting for happy hour and subsequently parting ways so that he could join his buddies and I could go home, be a responsible adult and get to bed at a reasonable hour.

The management analyst said OK and offered James Hoban's Irish Restaurant and Bar in Dupont Circle as a St. Patrick's Day meeting point. We agreed that if it were too crowded, we'd mosey over to any one of the other bars in the area as a backup.

Wednesday finally arrived, and I fretted over what I was going to wear most of the day. I have plenty of green T-shirts, but I was going on a date! A T-shirt simply would not do. I ended up picking a cute patterned dress with flecks of green in it that I'd bought myself from Gossip for my birthday. That ultimately necessitated a new-shoe purchase, which I did that afternoon with gusto: I am now the proud owner of taupe Steve Madden peep-toe wedge heels. HOT.

I felt pretty confident as I walked the seven blocks between my apartment and the Crystal City Metro station... until I felt a burning sensation near my heel. Not even halfway to the Metro, and the infernal new shoes had already rubbed my ankle raw! I soldiered on -- pain is beauty, after all, and these shoes really are cute.

Once on the Metro, I got a text from the management analyst: "Well. It's packed." Apparently he'd gotten to James Hoban's early, and it was standing-room only.

As I arrived, we texted back and forth a bit to try to figure out how to locate each other in the writhing green sea of humanity that is an Irish pub on St. Patrick's Day. Eventually, I spotted the management analyst at the bar trying to get a Guinness and close out his tab.

... Eh, hrm. OK, that's it -- I'm done being nice. I swear on all that is holy, the next time I agree to go out with a guy who claims he's 5'9" but then shows up looking like he represents the Lollipop Guild, I'm going to kick him in the nuts with my fabulous wedge heels.

It's not even about the "I don't really want to date a short dude" issue anymore so much as it is the blatant falsification of information. Height is the EASIEST thing to verify -- all you have to do is open your eyes and assess your spatial relationship. I know what 5'6" looks like because I am 5'6". You're not fooling anyone! And when you lie about something obvious like that, it calls into question everything else you've written in your profile!

(Imagine if I said I was 150 pounds and showed up clearly at 175. You wouldn't be happy, either.)

Anyway, the management analyst was closing his tab so we could go outside to drink. It was so packed inside I didn't even attempt to meet him up at the bar, so for the first 15 minutes I was there I stood back and waited for him to be served. Finally, he got the drinks he'd ordered and his credit card back, so we introduced ourselves and went outside... where we promptly ran into some chick he knew, and he spent the next 15 minutes catching up with her ("Haven't seen her since October!" he proclaimed). Yes, you're reading that right: A full half hour of a date where I'm just standing there -- in my sexy but painful new heels, no less -- waiting for him in some form or another.

Mercifully, the chick figured out we were on a date and left. We started having an actual conversation. We hadn't covered much ground by the time we finished our beers (we had 15 minutes with our drinks before even starting our conversation, after all), and it was super crowded and just getting worse, so we decided to go someplace else.

"Any ideas?" I asked politely.

"Let's go to Lucky Bar," the management analyst said. "It's just down Connecticut Avenue, and it's a pretty good place."

I groaned a little on the inside -- it's several long blocks from James Hoban's and it was becoming clear my new heels were not high-mileage shoes. But I hadn't been there in a while, and it seemed as good an option as any. We set off down the street.

The management analyst and I continued talking as we walked, and it was reasonably relaxed and comfortable -- though, the further we went, the more apparent it was that we had little to nothing in common. (What gives, eHarmony? Aren't you supposed to have this shit down to a science?)

Lucky Bar turned out to be just as crowded as James Hoban's was. There were no seats there either... more time on my feet... GREAT, GRAND, WONDERFUL!!! AGGHH!!!

We got another round of drinks and found an empty spot to stand near the rear of the bar. As we talked, I got frustrated... because I should clarify: He talked. The management analyst started monopolizing the conversation, and I couldn't get a word in edgewise. Moreover, it was blaringly loud in Lucky Bar (mental note: Too many decibels for a date!), so I ended up just smiling, nodding and hoping he wasn't saying something that required a response (ha -- he wasn't, go figure).

A break in his monologue allowed me to speak the following: "So, have you heard from your friends? Where are you guys going tonight?" Hint, hint. It was about 8 p.m., and I was so ready to leave.

"No, they haven't contacted me yet," the management analyst said.

"Hmm. Well, I'm going to use the restroom. Be right back!"

I didn't really need to go -- just wanted a release from the barrage of information pouring from his Napoleonic frame.

The restroom was cramped, but I breathed a sigh of relief while in there. Then, the frustration I felt manifested itself: "OK, ladies, I'm on a date that needs to end. How do I get out of this?"

The other women in the restroom swarmed upon me and started excitedly giving me suggestions.

"Here, girl, give me your phone number -- I'll call you with an emergency!"

"Just tell him your best friend broke her ankle and you have to take her to the hospital!"

"It doesn't even matter what you tell him -- your time is precious, and you deserve not to waste it!"

That last one came from a charming random girl in a pink sweater. She put her hand on my shoulder and looked me directly in the eyes as she was giving out this advice. Ah, you've done this before, I thought to myself.

"I'm just going to tell him I'm really tired -- I think that's the ticket," I said. "Pulling the rip cord via emergency phone call is too obvious."

I returned to the management analyst, and as luck would have it, he was checking his phone -- his buddies had finally texted him to meet up. We made our way through the crowded room to settle the tab at the bar.

"Hey! Did you do it?!" a joyful voice exclaimed.

I looked down -- it was Random Pink Sweater Girl, fresh out of the bathroom and back at her seat at the bar.

"Uhh... I'm working on it!" I replied, semi-panicked that the management analyst had heard.

And then it was like a scene out of a cartoon.

On instinct, I looked over my shoulder to where the management analyst was standing. He was looking directly back at me. Then he looked at Random Pink Sweater Girl. Then back to me. Then I looked at Random Pink Sweater Girl. She was grimacing and looking at the management analyst. Then she looked at me, still grimacing. Then I looked back at him. He was looking at Random Pink Sweater Girl. Then back to me. It only took a couple of seconds, but it seemed practically choreographed.

HOLY SHIT, YIKES. AWKWARD.

We left and started walking toward the Farragut North Metro stop. Lucky Bar is equidistant between that and Dupont, so it didn't really matter which one we went to. But now, the air was uncomfortable, and we were on a mission to get this thing over with.

We made polite small talk as we walked to the Metro. I started to stumble a little bit over my shoes. Damn shoes! I made a joke about how I'd made a bad shoe decision for walking from Dupont to Farragut North.

"You know you're not dressing for us, right?" the management analyst said. "We don't know the difference whether or not you have cute shoes. I only know those are cute because you tell me they're cute."

Oh, Jesus, I want to DIE.

Finally, we got to the Metro. The train pulled up right as we got to the platform -- but it was PACKED. It was like every single Irish Pub in the District decided to kick its sloppy drunk patrons out at the exact same moment, and they'd all boarded the Red Line to Chinatown. We weren't able to force our way on to the train. The next one was 16 MINUTES AWAY.

No way in HELL we were making small talk for 16 minutes. I said I could walk to the Farragut West station and catch the Blue Line instead. The management analyst said he'd walk me there then take a cab to meet his buddies.


That is the trek we made together while I sported my sexy new shoes that were rubbing layers of skin off my feet with every step. My feet hurt bad, and the management analyst knew it -- in fact, at this point, I think he took a sadistic pleasure in watching me suffer.

We waved a quick goodbye at the top of the Metro escalator and I hurried down it, making a beeline for the first bench I could find. I ungracefully plopped down with my full weight, kicking my feet out from under me with a heaving sigh. I am never wearing these fuckers again, I thought.

"But they're so cute though," a lady on the other side of the bench said to me.

"THANK YOU!!!"

In two seconds flat, she justified every decision I'd made that night.

I am SO wearing these every day from here on out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"My mother says I'm awesome!" or "new marketing campaigns for dating sites I've tried"

I've been on eHarmony now for about three weeks, and here is my assessment: Don't waste your money.

Every morning, eHarmony sends me e-mails with new matches, and I sigh and say to myself, "Oh dear, what ragtag band of misfits am I to face today?" Seriously, I am not interested in ANY of these guys. They're all short, bald and located outside the Beltway. Strike one, strike two, strike three. No, no and no.

I'm getting the sense that eHarm is "Last-Resort Dating" -- the site guys turn to when they've exhausted all other options and are getting desperate and lonely. (Perhaps it's the same for the girls on there? I most definitely joined in a fit of desperation/loneliness... well, that, and they sent me a coupon.) I'm thinking I'm likely to get one date out of this site, if that.

Until then, I'm left to contemplate all the different dating sites I've tried. As far as my experience goes, it's been an exercise in succumbing to false advertising. Match.com promises you "The Beginning"; eHarmony promises you your soul mate and "true compatibility." I'm not quite sure what OkCupid or Craigslist promise, but what they promise is certainly not what they deliver.

So, I've taken it upon myself to rectify the errors in their marketing campaigns. Without further ado, here is -- based on my personal experience, of course, and in order of my use of them -- how the dating sites should be advertising themselves:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fourth date with the assistant project manager: More people need to date their friends' exes. Seriously.

After the assistant project manager came with me to my dinner party club on Sunday, I e-mailed him to thank him for coming and say that I'd had fun. When he e-mailed back, he asked if I'd like to get together this week -- a suggestion completely unprompted by me! Woohoo! I got really excited about that.

He originally asked to meet up on Wednesday, but I'd already made plans with the Foreign Service Officer that night, so I asked if he was free on Thursday instead. Unfortunately, he'd made plans to hear a speaker at George Washington University... but he said he'd miss it if there were a better option, or I could come with him, or we could meet up afterward.

... I liked that train of thought. That made me feel pretty good about life :)

In any case, the speaker turned out to be Neil deGrasse Tyson, a charismatic astrophysicist whom I'd seen on the Daily Show before. I told the assistant project manager that he shouldn't miss hearing him speak because it would undoubtedly be a good lecture, and that I could just meet up with him afterward somewhere nearby.

I did a quick Google search of the area for a non-college bar (at 32 and 27, respectively, the assistant project manager and I are far too old for that nonsense), and gave him a couple of options. We ultimately decided to meet at Elephant & Castle so that he could get something to eat while we hung out.

I was so excited all day... I couldn't stop thinking about him, and I couldn't stop having one thought in particular: Oh god, please kiss me!!!

I spent the afternoon with my friend Gwen and her baby, which helped distract me from thoughts of the assistant project manager and made the time fly by. I came home and got ready for the date -- and then life threw me a bit of a curve ball.

"I would have preferred to be called 'the diplomat'," read the Facebook message from the Foreign Service Officer.

"FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK," read my subsequent Facebook status.

Apparently, Facebook's privacy settings* had failed me, and the Foreign Service Officer had gotten a hold of my blog and read my recap of the date. SHITTER SHITTER SHITTER SHITTER SHITTER. Not that I'd had anything terribly negative to say about him (Reader's Digest: Great guy, but I'm not so hot on the idea of long-distance love), but still -- past experience dictates ignorance is bliss and it's better when the guys don't know about this thing.

The message sent me into panic mode, and I started freaking out that I had made an EPIC FAIL and that all the guys I'm friends with know about the blog, including the assistant project manager.

I continued getting ready for our date anyway, but my stomach was in knots. The assistant project manager had estimated that the speech he was attending would end at about 8:30, so he'd be at the bar between 8:45 and 9. I got there at 8:45 on the dot, nabbed a seat at the bar, ordered a drink, and waited.

And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

At 9:05, he still wasn't there, and I nearly started hyperventilating, thinking I was being stood up. I started BlackBerry messaging Stepf (his ex, of course, but also one of my best friends, whom I probably would have been BBMing anyway), in complete and total meltdown mode.

"Is this seat taken?"

I looked up from my phone to see the assistant project manager grinning at me and putting his coat on the bar stool next to mine. Oh, that line was SO CUTE! my brain squealed girlishly. (Though, I have to say, I am now at the "Complete Idiocy" stage of infatuation with him, so ANYTHING he says I'm going to find cute. He could say, "Ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little," and I'd be like, "Awww... babies do that TOO!")

Apparently, the lecture had run long, and he was in the middle of a row and couldn't get out, accounting for his lateness. It didn't matter -- my tension had eased the moment he smiled at me. GOD, the assistant project manager has nice teeth.

Anyway, we got a table and talked about his lecture, about our days, and about various and sundry other things. I got to know a little more of his family history and stats -- parents divorced, family in Michigan, family here, etc. And of course, he's from Ohio originally, and lived in Columbus for a while. My aunt and uncle live in Columbus, and I lived there for a summer while I was interning at the local newspaper.

As much as I've tried to escape Ohio as an adult (it's boring, it's conservative, and you have to drive everywhere), it's actually really comforting to be around someone with the same points of reference. I don't have to explain to him what Skyline Chili is; when I mentioned the Short North, he knew exactly where I was talking about.

We'd been at the bar for about two hours, and I knew that if I stayed any later, I'd be dying at work the next day. I had driven, so the assistant project manager walked me to my car.

He hugged me again -- the same deep meaningful hug he'd given me after dinner party club. And then he kissed me. And we just stood there for a while, alternately embracing and kissing.

Finally, we broke apart and said goodbye for real. I drove home, my heart still pounding.

Siiiigh. I really like this one.

And I'm telling you, this whole "he-dated-one-of-my-best-friends" thing is GENIUS. Truly genius!!! This is a guy who has been put through the paces by someone I know, love and trust. It's like vintage clothing shopping -- when you go that route, you can find some truly special things that the original owner just, for whatever reason, didn't want anymore. It's still high quality and fabulous; it's just not for them.

I feel that way about Ex-BF v. 1.0 -- he's a good person; he just wasn't the one I was meant to spend my life with. I'd fix him up if I knew someone with whom to pair him (and if he weren't still dating the girl he rebounded from me with, which I suppose makes her not actually a rebound at all). And it's the way Stepf feels about the assistant project manager. He just wasn't for her, which is good news for me! Hooray!

So now, I'm off to Cincinnati for the weekend. Seeing Stepf is on the agenda, as is seeing my best buddy from high school, Mark. He and I are planning to barhop on Saturday night, and I'm hoping to flirt with some of his friends to the point of enticing them to buy me drinks.

*I'm pretty sure that the Foreign Service Officer Facebooked me following my party last Friday night, and I drunkenly accepted the request without putting him on the specific "Boys" list that blocks a bunch of things from him. The next afternoon as I slept off my hangover, I got the text from Natalie about him asking for my number, and only then did I put him on the list. He had about 12 hours of unfettered profile access, and I was hoping that was enough time for him to peruse my photos but not enough time for him to check and see if I had a blog. On our date, I semi-suspected he'd gotten wind of the blog because before entering the Foreign Service, he was a lawyer, and he asked some leading questions about whether I liked to write. Can't fool me with your cross-examining, Mr. Foreign Service... I am the spawn of two lawyers, and I know all the sneaky tricks!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Foreign Service Officer

As I've mentioned, the Foreign Service Officer is a friend of my friend Natalie, and he came to my debauchery-laden birthday party this past weekend.

He also came to a surprise party Natalie's husband threw for her in October. He also came to a Halloween party.

I met him at both these occasions. But I did not remember him.

"I'm not sure that bodes well for tonight," I remarked to Megan K., whom I was chatting with on the phone before prettying myself up for the evening.

"Do you even know who you're going out with?" she asked.

"Oh, yeah," I said. "He Facebooked me; I did my homework."

I agreed to meet him for dinner at 7 p.m. at Bailey's Sports Grille in Crystal City, which is just a short walk from our respective apartments. I'd planned to leave my place 15 minutes before for the walk, and so I started getting ready at about 5:30. It ended up taking me a lot less time than I'd anticipated, and I didn't want to be freakishly early, so I decided to dick around on my computer for a while.

Of course, Facebook, the go-to site for time wasting, was on the agenda. As I scrolled down my Live Feed, reading the latest statuses of my friends, I noticed the Foreign Service Officer had updated: "going on a date tonight." At the time, two of his friends had "liked" it, and another had wished him luck.

Uh-oh, I thought to myself. Dude, you Facebooked ME... you know, the girl you're going on said date with... play it cool!!!

It immediately made me a little skittish. Clearly, I update my status about my dating escapades ad nauseam -- but I hide it from the guys! The mystery and the chase are all part of the game, I'm slowly learning. By putting it right out there, the Foreign Service Officer made my brain concoct the scenario that he's already having visions of a future with me, and it freaked me out!

In truth, though, I was probably looking for reasons not to get too attached to him. For starters, there's the assistant project manager, whom I'm already somewhat attached to.

But in addition, between the time I agreed to go on a date with the Foreign Service Officer and the time I actually went out with him, I learned that he doesn't have his Foreign Service assignment yet -- he's actually finding out where he'll be shipped off to at his Flag Day ceremony tomorrow.

I'm not sure where I got this idea, but I was under the impression that he was already on assignment, and that assignment was in the D.C. office. It's not. In six months' time, he's likely to be in Mozambique, or Rio de Janeiro, or some other exotic locale. And, if he gets sent to an English-speaking post, there could be an ocean between us as early as May.

Dude, I won't date a guy who lives in Herndon, and that's in the same state. I did the long-distance thing once before, with Ex-BF v. 1.0. It's emotionally draining, it's expensive, it's lonely, and I'm not doing it again! If you're not Metro-accessible, I'm not interested.

At dinner, we actually had a really good time -- the title for this blog entry could also be "the quintessential 'nice guy'," because that's what the Foreign Service Officer is. We had a good conversation, and I enjoyed spending time with him.

But the whole "I might be in Mozambique in six months" thing brought a cloud of complication over the horizon. That's a relatively short amount of time with a person to then embark upon a big-ass commitment, and I just don't think I have it in me.

Also, I get the sense that he feels the clock is ticking too, because he talked about being single in the Foreign Service and how difficult it is to find someone after you've entered it. I felt like finding someone has become Mission Critical for him, and it just was a whole lot of pressure.

In the end, I did have a good time and sent him an e-mail saying so, and telling him to let me know where he gets assigned.

The Foreign Service Officer wrote back saying he'd had a good time too, and to let him know if I'd like to meet up again, but that he'd be "super busy for the next week or so."

Hmm. Now that is an interesting turn of events -- usually when guys pull out the ol' "B" word (that's "busy," mind you), that means they're hoping to lose you in the shuffle. Because in my experience, if they're into you, they'll make it happen, come hell or high water.

So maybe the Foreign Service Officer didn't actually like me that much after all? If that's true, I feel a little better. He really is a nice guy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Remembering my Allessons

I went out to dinner with Sean tonight -- apparently, while intoxicated on my birthday, I was a major bitch from hell to him, and we got in a big fight. But we talked it out and subsequently went to dinner at Cantina Mexicana down the street to catch up on the weekend's events and to sit outside and enjoy the warm spring air.

As soon as I felt the tension between the two of us had officially eased, I lapsed into giddy-school-girl mode and started gushing over the assistant project manager. I really like him... I really really really like him. And I was psyched because after Sunday, I'd e-mailed him to thank him for coming and to say I'd had fun, and he'd e-mailed back and asked to meet up again this week (Quick pause for a girl moment: Eeeeeeeee!!!).

But mid-gush, I let this sentence slip: "You know, I think he might be different this time."

Sean's whole facial expression melted into disgust. "Do you even hear yourself?!?!?" he asked incredulously.

"I know, I know, he is not different, you are not special," I said, dutifully repeating Allesson No. 1. "But seriously, I really think he might be different!"

"I should slap you!" Sean exclaimed. "He is not different! You are not special!"

"I know, but..."

"No! You need to learn this lesson," he continued. "You thought the lobbyist was different."

"Oh, that doesn't count! He was the first cute tall guy to date me after [Ex-BF v. 2.0]!"

Sean was merciless: "You thought the real estate company owner was different."

"OK, but that doesn't count either; that was the one I learned the lesson on!"

"You thought the pastry chef was different."

"Yeah... fine... you got me on that one. He hurt my feelings."

"You thought the computer security guy was different."

"Well, he WAS different -- just not in the way you're referring to right now," I said, exchanging a knowing look with Sean about a certain something about the computer security guy that has decidedly NOT made the blog. (All of my closest friends know what I'm talking about. Sorry if you're left in the dark on this one... it's not for mixed company.)

"Oh, gross," Sean said. (Sean is one of my closest friends.)

And with that, the conversation sort of devolved for a bit ... but ultimately, we made a bet: Sean wagers that in two weeks, the assistant project manager is going to prove himself not different and thus me not special. Should that come to pass, I owe him a beer. If, however, I am victorious, he owes me a drink. We shook on it.

But that said... though I want to think otherwise, in my heart, I know Sean's right. As much as the assistant project manager makes me swoon, I need to put a damper on my excitement. It's when I get all twitterpated that I get disappointed, that the rejections hurt worse, that I start having fleeting thoughts of going back to Ex-BF v. 2.0 (but I KNOW that's not a good idea, and no matter how lonely I am, I'm not doing it -- just in case anyone felt the need to weigh in on that subject).

So, there it is -- the Al Mantra of Early Dating. I'm going to repeat it to myself until it sticks.

He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special. He is not different; you are not special.

Also, I'm going out with Natalie's friend tomorrow, which should help temper my excitement. Who knows -- maybe I'll like this guy even more than the assistant project manager? Only one way to find out.

(And for anyone who wants to sit in judgment of me for agreeing to go on a date with one guy when I'm really feeling another guy: Ain't no RING on this finger! At this stage of the game, neither one has any reasonable expectation of fidelity. Guess what -- I'm not different! You're not special either!)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Third date with the assistant project manager: Wherein, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I redeem myself

As previously mentioned, the assistant project manager agreed to come to the March meeting of my dinner party club with me.

Take this in: This is a BIG DEAL.

Dinner party club started as a drunken idea between Natalie, Megan K. and I at a Halloween party in 2008 -- it was suggested that since the three of us now lived close to each other in the neighborhood, we should start a club where we eat appetizers at one house, dinner at another and dessert at a third, and roam from location to location. I put muscle behind the idea and actually organized it, and to this day I coordinate its monthly meetings. I've made a ton of close friends through it, eaten ridiculously delicious food, and overall I just feel warm and loved when I leave the meetings. Dinner party club is my happy place. For a guy to come with me to my happy place, it is a BIG DEAL.

And what's more, for the assistant project manager to venture down to my 'hood in Crystal City from his 'hood in Bethesda, it is a BIG FUCKING DEAL. As a Marylander, the assistant project manager is not geographically desirable. There are not many guys I would be willing to brave the Beltway or traverse the whole goddamn District of Columbia for. But I'd do it for him. And, if tonight is any indication, he'd do it for me, too.

However, after I was a drunken asshole on our second date, the stakes were raised this time. This date had to go off without a hitch. I needed to show this man that I have many layers, and not all of them are soaked in alcohol.

It started with wardrobe, the key piece of which was a white lace headband I'd purchased from Lou Lou, a cute little accessories boutique in Dupont Circle. A headband is the international symbol of preppy girl -- it is country club rather than dance club, argyle sweater rather than tube top, zipped up rather than unzipped. The headband says, Who me? Why, I go to bed at 9:30 p.m.! I've never been to a party in my life! I coupled it with a white sweater I got from a vintage shop over a red camisole and jeans. I looked conservative and cute!

Moreover, I'd cooked chicken parmesan and homemade garlic bread for the evening, so I was oozing a vibe of domesticity. The scene was set.

The assistant project manager was a little late because he missed the exit for my apartment, so when he got here I quickly showed him around, then we collected my neighbor Rob and walked to the first house.

The evening was fun! It can be hard in social situations where you're the only one in a group that doesn't know anyone, but the assistant project manager held his own.

And, I should note, at the first house, I drank water. At the second house, I had a little wine with dinner, but didn't go overboard. And finally, at the third house, I had some coffee. Megan C. checked on me at one point to make sure I was keeping it reasonable, and I was.

After we'd finished dessert, I leaned over to the assistant project manager and whispered that we could go at any time. He seemed ready, so we grabbed our coats and walked back to my place. I opened up my door, and he followed me inside.

I didn't specifically invite him up; I just opened the door and walked in, and he joined. At this point, he could have EASILY escaped -- he'd parked down the street, and it would have been a natural break for him to say, "Well, I've got a long drive back up to Bethesda, thanks for the food!" But he didn't do that, and I took that as a sign that things were going well.

We sat on my couch and chatted for a while about various topics, including my Nintendo 64. It's definitely a conversation piece -- boys just seem to love my 15-year-old video gaming system. I mean, it's got some good games! Including, of course, the GoldenEye 007 shooter game, which is possibly the best video game for the N64. And with GoldenEye 007 comes the Slappers Only option.

Oh, Slappers Only! I could write a sonnet about how much I love playing Slappers Only. If you couldn't absorb this through the name of the option, what it does is take all weapons out of play in the multiplayer mode, so all you're left with is your hands to slap your opponent silly. It is HILARIOUS.

When the assistant project manager eyed my N64, I started talking about how awesome Slappers Only is. He'd never heard of it! So, we busted it out and played two rounds, and I beat him both times. The whole time we were virtually slapping each other, we were laughing like idiots.

At that point, my N64 malfunctioned (it is, after all, a 15-year-old system) and wouldn't let us play anymore, and it was getting late anyway. The assistant project manager said he should probably get going, so I walked him to the door.

My heart was beating fast... did I do OK? Was he going to kiss me goodnight? Obviously, I was hoping for the kiss, but I wasn't sure what was going to happen.

We said goodbye, and he went in for a hug. It was a tight hug -- definitely more than a friendly hug. And then -- he kissed me goodnight!

YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!

I think I did it -- I think I successfully recovered from the second date. We didn't specifically schedule a fourth date, but there was some discussion about going to see Avatar, since the assistant project manager and I are apparently the last two people on Earth who haven't seen that movie.

I guess we'll see! But I'm feeling good about it! Yay!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Birthday week roundup

What a crazy week!!!

I'm not going to spill out the details of all of it because most of it pertains to being completely obliterated and NOT to dating, but there are some things to note:

1. A friend of Natalie's asked her for my phone number.

Apparently I had met him before, but I don't remember it. I only vaguely remember talking to him this time (hey, it was my birthday party, what do you want from me), but when Natalie texted me to ask if she could give him my number, I told her sure! So, we'll see if anything materializes there.

2. The assistant project manager is coming to dinner party club with me tonight.

OMG THIS IS SO AWESOME.

For starters, it's awesome because I am super into him, and now I have a chance to salvage things from the other night. I texted Megan C. and her friend Brendan this afternoon when the assistant project manager called to confirm that he was coming: "OK so now that you guys are in the know, here is your mission if you choose to accept it: DO NOT let me get sloppy drunk tonight!!! I CANNOT fuck this up again!!"

Megan C. texted back with the following: "I will rip the glass from your hand!"

I love Megan C. She is a good friend.

And, it's also awesome that the assistant project manager is coming because FINALLY, the Dinner Party Club Curse is broken!!! This will be the first guy whom I have invited to dinner party club who ACTUALLY comes with me!

I'm psyched!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The audacity of hope!!!

So the last time I updated, I was bemoaning the fact that the assistant project manager hadn't responded to an e-mail I sent him and that I thought that meant all was lost.

ALL IS NOT LOST!!!

I woke up Monday morning to another semi-cryptic e-mail from him, in which he expressed a desire to "slow things down." I immediately sent the note out for analysis -- is being told by a guy that he wants to "slow things down" actually code for "he's just not that into me"?

The first analyst was less than helpful.

Dave: Maybe it's a rejection. Or maybe he really likes you.

Ya think?! Yes, I'm sure it's one of those two possibilities. Thanks for that coveted "guy perspective," Dave.

Alyssa and Al took a crack at it next. Both said they didn't think it was a brush off, but warned me to proceed with caution.

I sat on the e-mail for a while, then responded by saying slow was A-OK by me, this week's likely going to be busy for me anyway and maybe we could catch up next week? Then I held my breath and waited for a reply.

And I got the OBAMA of all replies, instilling more hope than I have ever known in me for a happy ending:

"Maybe next week would be good, or this weekend. "


YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!

And just like that, my sour mood from the other night has lifted. He's willing to see me again, despite all my many, MANY foibles and peccadilloes. Also, as Al rightly points out -- this "taking it slow" he speaks of is actually GOOD for me, since I have a little trouble with the whole "self-control" thing.

Add to that my birthday is tomorrow, my party is Friday and the fact that I think I just got asked out via Facebook message, I am feeling pretty darn good about life indeed.