Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tacky Holidays

My family values the art of giving the boobie prize. Rather like participants in the Tacky Gift party (which, sadly, did not happen this year, due to my friend’s freak beauty parlor accident, requiring pins in her wrist—now that she’s recovered, I’m thinking about throwing a re-gifting extravaganza in January), members of my family relish obtaining something hideous, wraping it up beautifully, and bestowing it upon our loved ones.

This year, I went with the holiday food basket. On a run to the supermarket, I spied Spam with Bacon and just couldn’t resist. I got quite a few curious looks when I placed these fine items on the belt.

Tacky Food

I then wrapped them up like this and placed my gift under the tree.

All wrapped up

Since I often bring home the good food for the holidays, my parents didn’t suspect this basket. The pork rinds got an especially hearty laugh. The folks plan to re-gift the love by serving up these goodies without comment to my sister and brother-in-law when they celebrate late Christmas with them.

And, lest you think that we confine the fun to gifts, behold the Christmas Hand.

Christmas Hand

One year, my father gave my mother a hand cookie cutter in her stocking. The next year, she dutifully used it, and a hand appeared among the gingerbread people display. We now demand its presence. This year it looked especially creepy.

Aren’t you glad I don’t celebrate the holidays with you?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy (Early) Year of the Mouse!

Received from a Chinese publisher. I love this.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy (early) Year of the Mouse!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Dating: Nice Dates with McAlmost and McGuyIUsedtoKnow

One evening in early December I somehow managed to online chat with both of these guys at the same time—and had agreed to go out with each of them. Wistfully I thought if only I could somehow combine parts of them, say McAlmost’s hilarious sense of the absurd with a dash of McGuyIUsedtoKnow’s wonder at it all, I would hit romantic paydirt. Paydirt, alas, I did not hit, but I still had a good time on my dates with these guys, and here are the stories.

Dinner and a Walk with McAlmost
Have you ever had one of those dates where you had a great time but just didn’t feel that desire to become someone’s special friend? Well, that was me with McAlmost. I suppose anyone after the McWorstDate would have appeared to be Prince Charming, but I really did enjoy my date with McA. Witty, smart, and an actual grownup, McA was pretty darn close to the closest thing I have to a type. What’s more, I was apparently pretty darn close to being his type. I’m not sure what it is about audio/other-type-of-computer engineer musicians, but they leap out of the screen for me. As my sister says in her best commercial voice, “If you like being an audio engineer and a musician, you’ll LOVE Sassy.” I don’t know. I can’t explain it.

In any event, over a yummy Indian dinner in Davis Square, McA and I bandied about stories and anecdotes, talking so long that we shut the place down. We then went out for a wintry walk about town, chatting and laughing some more. It would have been perfect, except that we were missing that ever-elusive chemistry. We got to the T stop at the end of the night, and we proceeded to gab for another fifteen minutes or so, shared a brief hug, and then parted ways.

Very Late to My Date with McGuyIUsedtoKnow
McGuyIUsedtoKnow didn’t recognize me for my shorter hair when he sent me what had to be the sweetest initial message I’ve ever received from an online guy. That’s the thing about McGIUK—he’s really sweet. So sweet that he waited for forty-five minutes for me when the lovely MBTA bus let me down. Yes, I was horribly late for this date. On my way, I almost wish he’d told me to forget it. I wasn’t sure if I could go through with seeing him again.

Back in the day, I had aspired to be one of those lovely, airy, peace-loving women who do Yoga and run around fire circles to celebrate the full moon. I know, funny. I’ve since learned that I am not one of those women, that I have what I call “sharp elbows” in my personality, and I’m too much of a skeptic to run around a fire circle without rolling my eyes at least a little bit. My intentions can be a bit pointed. I had given the hippie woman the college try, though, and it was around the height of this experiment that I had met McGIUK.

I don’t know how else to describe McGIUK other than to say that he’s a male version of who I wanted to be. He’s (very) smart and an activist, but he’s also a sweet, airy, Reiki-practicing man who runs around fire circles to celebrate the full moon. I didn’t know him well, but he was loosely connected to a peace group I hung around with years ago, and we had talked a few times. When I saw that he’d checked out my profile, I had a feeling I knew who he was, and when he sent me a message saying that he sensed that I had an open mind and an open heart and that he’d love to know me, that confirmed it.

I replied to his message thanking him for being so sweet, and I told him that we used to know each other a few years back. He replied that he’d sensed a cosmic familiarity about me. Wasn’t it just regular familiarity? I thought somewhat meanly, and I turned it into a joke in my message back. When he initiated an online chat session, it was apparent that he did indeed remember me but hadn’t gotten the joke—but he was so sweet that he charmed me. Or, rather, there was something about my resistance to his charms that made me feel like a bad person (what’s wrong with me that I consider “sweetness” a character flaw?). I felt compelled to give it a try.

My friends know just how much I was dreading this date—some of them asked my why I was even going. “Well, we know each other, and he still knows a few of my friends. How can I be the bitch who turned him down for a date? Who wouldn’t want to date McGIUK? He’s so SWEET!”

Well, meet we did, forty minutes later than originally planned, and I’m glad that I went through with it. We had an interesting conversation about things I don’t normally talk about on dates. I don’t know too many people these days who still work in the nonprofit sector. The years and all of the crap going on in the world had altered his understanding of possible change, and he was seeking some kind of employment that would allow him to pay the rent, but his basic optimism remained undimmed. It was refreshing, and he made me think.

Unfortunately, our time together did not convince me that we would make a good couple, and I think perhaps he felt otherwise. Our goodbye was a bit awkward. I do sincerely wish him a lovely, peaceful woman who will run around fire circles with him to celebrate the full moon. He’s a wonderful guy, and he deserves to be happy.

I did have one more date this holiday season, but I don’t entirely know what the story is there yet, so I’m not going to jinx it. Suffice it to say that I panicked a bit, but I didn’t completely lose my mind this holiday season. Instead I took advantage of holiday dating to branch out (OK, too far in a couple of cases) and see what’s out there. This isn’t the time of year to find the perfect date—but it is a great time to experiment. And even if things don’t work out with the last date, January’s coming, and that’s often when I find a guy who’s just right.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Dating: My One Hour and Fifteen Minutes with McWorstDate

Before he became McWorstDate, there were warning signs. McWD’s profile indicated that he was into polyamory (I’m not—in nursery school I declared, “Sharing is damn yucky stuff!” I’ve learned since then, but there are still some things I don’t share), and it didn’t look as though we had all that much in common. All the same, he seemed quirky and fun, and you just never know.

Now I know. Our date lasted one hour and fifteen minutes. We had agreed to meet for hot chocolate at a chocolatier’s in Harvard Square on a Sunday afternoon. McWD had arrived before I did, but didn’t snag a table before they filled up, and so we had to get our hot chocolate to go instead. We ordered, and I pulled out my wallet to make the obligatory gesture to pay for my drink. McWD let me pay for him too. We decided to wait for a few minutes by the candy counter to see if a table would open up. He wanted to talked about what a ripoff the high-quality chocolate was.

When it became obvious that we were going to strike out on the table front, we left. “I’m starving,” McWD said. “I really need a sandwich.” Then why didn’t you ask me to lunch? I thought. He led us into an Au bon Pain, not the big one in the square (bad enough), but a little hole in the wall next to a Bertucci’s. There I watched him eat a sandwich and drink a container of milk, as he told me about different people he’d dated from the web site. He then said, “I’m surprised my profile didn’t freak you out.”

I’m freaked out now, I thought but said something more polite. After he finished, we agreed to go to the Harvard Book store. “Where do you usually hang out in the bookstore?” he asked.

“Oh, usually the fiction section. Sometimes I check out criticism or poetry, but mostly I just stick to fiction.”

“Well, I really like the erotic section there,” my date said exactly thirty-five minutes into our first less-than-successful encounter. Not only did I find this comment to be a bit sketchy, but I also found it to be just plain odd. The erotic section in this store is one skinny little shelf, and so far as I can tell, it has mostly best-of collections. Odd pick, that one.

We wandered around the front of the store a bit before heading back to the fiction section. “Oh there’s your section,” I said to him, pointing out the little shelf right before the fiction.

“Did they move it?” he asked, surprised by its location.


There, in the section, was a best-of gay men’s short fiction or something like that, featuring a ripped torso on the front cover with a book covering the goods. “Oh my god, that man is hot,” McWD said lustfully. “There is nothing like a really hot man’s chest.” Drool was practically dripping off his chin.

Excuse me? I know you are Mr. Polyamory Man, but you are out on a date with ME! I don’t want you talking about men. I don’t want you talking about other women. I want you to be talking about ME! Tell someone else about the bod!

“Yeah, that is one hot faceless torso,” I said and wandered into the fiction section. My date picked up a book, one I had actually enjoyed, and I said so. He found a damaged copy and decided to try to get a discount on it. “I used to work in a bookstore,” he said knowingly. Just then, his phone rang.

He answered it. Then he proceeded to talk for about fifteen minutes in the store. I nearly left, but for some reason, I didn’t. Instead, I wandered about the store pondering just how bad this date really was. He finished talking and then walked over to me and explained that a friend of his was contemplating dating her professor and she really needed advice. OK.

Next he went to the counter to try to procure a discount, only to be informed that discounts apply to the last copy only. “We have four available now,” I heard her say pointedly.

We left the store, and I informed him that I needed to go. He walked me to the T, gave me a weak hug, and then left to get his bike. I stayed down in the T station for about five minutes, walked back out and did some shopping. I got an e-mail from him saying that although the sparks didn’t fly that it was great to meet me. Yeah.

Next Post: Nice Dates with McAlmost and McGuyIUsedtoKnow

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday Dating—A Series of Panic-Induced Encounters

Not to make a sweeping generalization or anything, but no one wants to be alone for the fall and early winter holidays. True, true, Valentine’s Day can suck, but at least one can disdain VD with impunity. No, there’s nothing like the dark days of November and December to strike terror in the heart of the singleton. Faced with yet another season of wandering through glittering parties alone, the object of pity and scorn, not to mention all of the questions from family, many lonely souls turn to the Internet to save the holidays.

Those of you who read this bloggy thing know that I am actually a big fan of online dating. It might not be the most romantic means to meet people, but it does have its advantages. After all, that adorable guy in the bar just might wind up trying to romance you with his Elliott Smith covers that he’s uploaded onto YouTube before sloppily kissing you in front of your friend. With the Internet at least you usually have a general idea of what you’re getting into. And right around the holidays, you stand a pretty good chance of someone wanting to (ahem) get into you. Unfortunately, while you are statistically more likely to get a date this time of year, you also run a greater risk of having a bad one.

I am attributing the fact that I have had arrangements for dates with a several suitors since Halloween to the annual holiday rush. And I’ll be honest. I think I’ve succumbed to the panic as well, as a couple of my dates passed my highly scientific selection process on a sliding scale. Over the next few posts, I will be regaling you with stories of my holiday dating life. Allow me to start with the tales of McNeighborBoy and McSleepyMcDorkwad.

Brief Fling with McNeighborBoy
In true postmodern fashion, I met my cute neighbor on the Internet, and we had our first “real life” meeting on Halloween. It went very well. We had ourselves a fine time for about a week or so, when we realized that we didn’t have all that much in common other than a mutual appreciation for each other’s (pardon the pun) bones. We decided to be neighbors instead, and that has worked out just fine. We chat every now and again when we see each other, and McNB shoveled out my car after last week’s storm. Now that's neighborly.

Stood Up by McSleepyMcDorkwad
About a week after McNeighborBoy and I decided to be plain-old neighbors, I signed on to check a message from what proved to be a disappointing lad. Sighing, I prepared to log back out again when I got an instant message from a more amusing character. We chatted for twenty minutes or so, and he seemed like a fun guy. He asked me if I was up for a drink sometime, and I said yes. The only problem was that the only night I had free between then and Thanksgiving was that night.

“Well, what about tonight?” he wrote.

“Why not?” I wrote back, and we agreed to meet up around ten at a decent watering hole in Union Square.

I got dressed, put on lipstick, and headed out into a rather cold evening excited for my spontaneous date. I arrived at the establishment, and he hadn't gotten there yet, so I stood outside and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited a bit longer until I realized that I had been stood up. What the hell? It was his idea to meet up! Why would he do that?

Ooooh, I was pissed, and I was even more pissed that I didn’t have his number to call him and tell him what-for. I had to console myself by going into the bar and having a drink anyway. I talked a bit with another guy and then left. I got home to an e-mail with the subject line, “So I fucked up big time :(” (yes, he used an emoticon). Turns out, McSMcD had gone down for a nap and slept until 10:45. He was deeply apologetic and asked if he could make it up to me after Thanksgiving. I wondered why he couldn't set an alarm, but I replied to McSMcD that I’d think about getting in touch with him after I got back.

I was bored the Saturday after the big T-day, so I sent McSMcD an e-mail saying that if he was up for it, I could meet him for a drink and gave him my number. I got a text message at 11:55 PM asking me if it was too late to meet up. I didn’t answer until the next morning. I know how to have a good time, but I’m not a booty call. I didn’t hear from him again until the following Saturday night when he sent me a text at 12:17 AM asking me out for a “light lunch” (WHAT is that?) on Sunday. No thanks, McSleepyMcDorkwad. I have to wash my hair.

Next post: My One Hour and Fifteen Minutes with McWorstDate

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seeing John Malkovich

So on Sunday, I went to the Bazaar Bizarre, an annual alternative craft fair (I believe one of the mottos is “No cozies without irony!”) I’ve attended a few times over the years. At one of the booths, I moved in to look at a bizarre ware just as this guy swung around. He sort of bumped into me and muttered an apology. “Oh, no problem. Excuse me,” I said and looked up at him. The guy was John Malkovich. In our brief moment of eye contact, he saw the gears in my brain turn, and he shot me the biggest Don’t You Dare look. I shot him back a Don’t Worry look, eliciting a half-smirk from him before he went along his way.

A few minutes later, I spied him wandering about again, as did the crafters at the booth I was at. One of them observed, “Dude, that guy totally looks like John Malkovich.” His co-crafter said knowingly, “It IS John Malkovich. He lives in Boston.”

“Oh yeah. It’s him. He bumped into me,” I confirmed. For a moment, the crafters looked at me like I was the famous one. Don’t You Dare.

In other words, I got Malkoviched by Malkovich on a Sunday afternoon.