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My friend Julie in Baltimore decided to dip her toes in the OKC waters, which inspired the two of us to go at this together. Much like workout buddies, we are there to remind each other to hold our heads high and not to give up — and to share some of the insanity that runs rampant on the Internet. We also thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the Los Angeles and Baltimore dating scenes.

Because some of this material is too good not to share, we’ve decided to share it with you in the form of weekly highlights. You’ll get them until either one of us finds love (don’t hold your breath) or gives up (more likely).

From Julie:

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“’tis true ’tis pity” (Hamlet: Act 2, Scene 2)

Shakespeare, who imagined myriad things both wondrous and bizarre, probably never conceived of a smart, attractive young man who wanted to pay a forty-year-old woman for the honor of cleaning her bathroom and rubbing her feet (with, perhaps, some sucking of the toes).  And yet, such a man exists and perhaps I *am* a bit mad for turning down his offer.  I messaged him at length, debating over the morality of taking advantage of his fetish, and trying to figure out what made him tick. Should I have been offended that he offered the same services to Dahlia?

Houseboy: I think your guilt is making you see things as being totally one-sided, where only you benefit. And most people would see it that way. But the part you are not considering is that you are allowing me to live out a fantasy. This is what I WANT.

Me: No, no, I do get that. I was just 1) saying that even if I whole-heartedly believe that, it might still make me feel guilty, whether that’s logical or not, and 2) I wanted to see how self-aware you were about the reasons why you dig this particular thing.

Houseboy: What specifically would make you feel guilty?

Me: Hmmmm… Good question.

Houseboy: Just curious how self-aware YOU are 😉

Touché.

I wonder how many comedies old Will could get out of OKC…

WEEKLY RECAP
Dates: 1 (with Mr. Lovecraft – see BEST OPENING MESSAGE)
Phone Calls: 3 (all with Mr. Club Soda, Lime and Muddled Mint Leaves of last week’s BEST OPENING MESSAGE)
Messages: Too many!

BEST OPENING MESSAGE:
Hey there! Thanks for visiting my profile.

Oh! You are a fan of Eliot, Lovecraft, Moore AND BKV. . . impressive, most impressive. And Veronica Mars. Well, that cinches it. . . we need to chat a bit more.

On a parallel, but perhaps tangential, note: what’s the validity of the Myers-Briggs test? I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that so many people on OKC and elsewhere find listing an acronym as valid shorthand for describing yourself. Then again, I have never had a Myers-Briggs test done so I suppose I have no stakes in believing it is a good indicator of anything (I know that if *I* paid for something, it would provoke a slight confirmation bias in its results). I don’t profess to know, but have wondered why so many folks subscribe to it. . .

Well, hope you are well, that the new year’s being good for you and you’re keeping warm in this spot of cold weather.

Hope to hear back from you soon!

WORST OPENING MESSAGE:
Spa-quality massage! Me want one! But seriously, I had a bad week in 1986: got kicked hard in the head in a kickboxing match (I sucked) and had a motorcycle accident. Now my neck hurts. Please help me! Incidentally, I no longer kickbox or really ride a motorcycle. I own one, but it sits unused year after year… Let’s see what else…you’re quite adorable and seem pretty groovy, so that’s all good. Oh: and there is that whole massage thing. I’ll be right over.

BEST RESPONSE TO “WHAT I’M DOING WITH MY LIFE”:
I’ve lived in the DC area for over 13 years. I’m a photojournalist, and I spent the last few years covering politics on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail. Now I tend to shoot a mix of cool features and portraits for various editorial clients. I’m very passionate about my work and can’t imagine doing anything else. I have no regrets and wake up with a smile every day.

WORST RESPONSE TO “WHAT I’M DOING WITH MY LIFE”:
Do you really want to know? No fancy words are gonna sway you to contact me… You’ll have to see what my life looks like first hand.

PROGRESS (OR LACK THEREOF):
I had several lovely phone calls, emails, and instant messaging sessions with Mr. Club Soda, Lime and Muddled Mint Leaves.  His words, whether spoken or written, quicken my pulse and make my heart leap up in my chest.  Alas, he lives outside of Philly and our schedules are not in sync to meet up for another few weeks.

In the meanwhile, I had a “date” with Mr. Lovecraft of this week’s best opening message.  I actually wasn’t sure if it was a real date or just two fans of graphic novels meeting to swap titles.  We met at a lovely bakery near where he lives in Baltimore and chatted over hot chocolates and sweets (a croissant for him, lemon pound cake for me).  He paid, which this girl appreciates.  When the bakery closed, we made our way to a tavern a couple of blocks away.  He had a couple of local beers, I had a couple of Smirnoffs with cranberry and orange.  I paid, which he appreciated.  We talked about politics and music and movies and OKC.  Perfectly lovely.  Then we left the tavern…

WHAT I LEARNED FROM OKC THIS WEEK:
I’m going to preface this with a bit of background.  I haven’t been with a lot of people.  High school and college were for studying and pushing myself forward towards some sort of destiny of excellence in the academy.  College was about achievement, not romance.  And I *did* achieve. I graduated first-round selection Phi Beta Kappa with a full ride to a prestigious Ph.D. program in anthropology.  I was all set.

Except I wasn’t.  I hated grad school.  I hated my racist Yalie roommate. I hated being far away from friends and family.  I hated having to read all the French post-modern thinkers.  I was miserable.  So I left my “destiny” and returned home.  And I finally gave myself some time to explore relationships, a handful, with guys and girls.  And it was good to focus on that aspect of my life after having neglected it for so long. Not every relationship ended well, but that was part of the learning.

Then I moved to Baltimore and started a new job and then another and then I decided to go to law school while working full-time.  Needless to say, I had precious little time for anything else, and with that time I focused on growing and maintaining friendships rather than looking for anything romantic.  And then law school turned into a prestigious clerkship which turned into a nightmare.  I again left and found a new job and then another and then more years past without me feeling the need to put time or effort into new relationships, well, romantic ones at least.

Then I turned forty.  And whether it was the beginning of a new decade of life or the odd series of events that led me to a wonderful, but brief, whirlwind adventure with a guy on the other side of the continent, I
decided it was once again time to focus on what I’ve long neglected.

So after the lovely conversation at the bakery and tavern, Mr. Lovecraft walked me to my car.  I asked him if he wanted a ride to his house (a few blocks away) as it was dark and late and foggy. He accepted.  I drove him home and we hugged goodbye and the hugging turned into kissing and the kissing turned into the awkwardness of being in a car and wanting more.  I suggested he invite me inside and he did.

It wasn’t the worst sex I’ve ever had, but it also wasn’t anywhere near the best.  I awoke to the morning light and the strains of Liz Phair’s signature song in my head.  We made our goodbyes and I drove home listening to anthems of female sexuality, from Sleater-Kinney and PJ Harvey and Tegan and Sara and Ms. Phair, women owning their bodies and their desires.  But the songs also reflected what I knew as I drove, that ownership means owning the day after as well as the nighttime moments of visceral release. This was the first time I had sex with someone I didn’t love, either with the giddy in-love goofiness of eros, the more stable softer friendship love-warmth of philia, or the core soul-deep selfless love of agape.  And I realized how amazingly lucky I had been before to always have had sex paired with some form of love.  And how empty sex felt to me without it.

I went in seeking novel experience, and I got it.  But maybe if I had thought more about who I’ve been and who I want to be, I would have made a different decision.  I wish I had reflected longer and not just given into novelty and yearning and a stupid misguided desire to make up for lost time.  I wish I had made a more self-aware decision instead of seeking momentary escape from self.  But I learned from last night, and I know I won’t make that choice again.

I sent this to Mr. Club Soda, Lime and Muddled Mint Leaves to read before it posted.  I wanted him to hear it from me, not read it in a blog.  While we haven’t even met and certainly can’t be said to be in a relationship yet, I still felt a little guilty, a little unfaithful (Yay cultural Catholicism!). He said he had no expectations that I was talking to him/seeing him exclusively and sympathized with me that I didn’t enjoy the experience.  He also admitted he was a little thrilled that I was unimpressed with Mr. Lovecraft, which brought a smile to my lips as well.

So I end the week chagrinned to acknowledge that OKC is probably right in assessing me as having “less life experience” than the average user, and thinking that a twenty-something who yearns to be a slave may have his shit together better than I do.

But I’m learning.

And I’m cautiously hopeful about the weeks to come.

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