Monday, August 30, 2010

Online dating

I have this crazy idea that I’m positive no blogger has ever had before, because I’m just that original.

I’m going to join a dating website.

90% of this decision is based on the wealth of material that’s sure to crop up, 5% is based on the fact that I obviously can’t meet anyone anywhere else, and the other 5%...well; let’s just say that if I do it, The Grandmother has promised to stop harassing me about going to church to meet a “nice man”. One day, when she’s older, I’ll tell her about the nice man, the nice seminary student actually, that I met at church and played hide the holy relic with in the back of his jeep. He made the sign of the cross in all the right places. Our father, who art in loud I screamed your name. Amen.

Seriously, I’ve been circling around this idea for awhile now. I’ve gone from being adamant that online dating is for losers, to being genuinely curious. It seems like everyone is doing it now. But, just in case anyone decides to make fun of me, I have a full proof plan that goes a little something like this: Bitch, I will Cut. You.

Now that that’s settled, I need to make another plan – a plan of action. This is where you guys come in. (That’s what she said.) I welcome any advice from those who’ve done the online dating gig before, and even advice from those that haven’t done it but think they know everything about everything anyway. (Yeah, you know who you are.)

I’m sure there are certain things that, for the sake of being fair, I need to include on my profile. They say that honesty is the best policy in general, but is the same true for online dating? For instance, when I tell them I’m the single mother of a kindergartener, do I go ahead and lay it all out there?

“When I was 18 I fucked my much older boss because I thought he was sexy, but it turns out that he wasn’t that sexy, he was just fertile. Now I have a five year old daughter that whines constantly and has an unhealthy fascination with her own vagina, which we actually call a “boo” because apparently “vagina” is not an appropriate word for a child. She also has a small problem with kleptomania that I’m addressing, as needed, by sneaking the things she takes back without anyone knowing in order to avoid embarrassment.”

Do I tell them outright that I live at home with my mother, her boyfriend, my teenage sister, two retarded cats, and a mastiff puppy that eats my underwear? Do they need to know the family dynamics?

“There won’t be any sex happening at my place, in case you were wondering, so I hope you live alone or have nice roommates. I generally can’t even masturbate in peace so sometimes, when I do get a little alone time, I get so excited that I injure myself and then I’m out of commission for a few days. So if I use the word “recuperating” in response to a request to hang out, that’s probably what’s going on and if you still want to get together, you shouldn’t expect anything more than a blowjob. And only if you really deserve it.

Furthermore, if you decide you want to be ‘old fashioned’ and pick me up from my house rather than meet me somewhere like a non-stalker, you will likely be subjected to a heated inquisition. My mother will ask you if you are gay, if you are aware that I may be gay and if you are - why it doesn’t bother you, if you are aware that my womb was once occupied (well, twice occupied, but I hope she’d leave that first one off knowing how some people feel about murder), and if you’ve heard of the private school she attended 27 years ago. However, there is no need to worry about my father as he lives 1200 miles away and only comes to town when there’s a bulk sale on cocaine. But should we eventually decide to get married (you never know, stranger things have happened), you should know that he will likely die before then from liver damage, so you’ll have to pay for the wedding on your own.”

As much as people say they want the whole truth and nothing but the truth, full disclosure can be a little daunting. There’s the issue of likes and dislikes.

Do I really tell them that I like to read books about vampire teenagers and make fun of fat kids on slip-n-slides? Do I tell them I hate most sports and am bored to tears by anything even remotely related to hunting, fishing, and the outdoors in general? Men around here are crazy about racecar driving. Do I tell them that I think watching a bunch of cars go round and round in a circle for over half the day is the most ridiculous hobby I’ve ever heard of in my life?

“Also, I dislike children. I plan on never having another child, so if you want any you’d better be ready to make it worth nine months of torture and be ready to hire a nanny. And the only way you could possibly make it worth it is with money. And handbags...I like handbags.”

I see online dating as a way of cutting through all the bullshit, a way for people to let you know who they really are before you come out the pocket for dinner and drinks. Or at least, that’s how it should be. I’m sure there are dirty liars and perverts on there. It’s the internet after all.

That brings us to profile pictures. I want to put up an attractive picture that makes people want to look at my profile, but wouldn’t that be false advertising?

There they see this decent looking blonde girl with fantastic fucking eye shadow (thankyouverymuch), but she doesn’t look like that except maybe half of the time. Sometimes she doesn’t put on makeup for a week and dude, she’s got some really dark under-eye circles. They take her home and nail her like Bob Villa on steroids, go to sleep, and wake up with Medusa. There’s mascara everywhere, hair stuck to the drool on her face, and her snoring could rival the noise from the chainsaw massacre.

Wouldn’t it be more prudent to put up a shitty picture? If they’re attracted to me then, imagine how much they’d like me when I fixed myself up! It would be like Extreme Makeover every other weekend.

But I guess all of that seems relatively easy compared to the issue of actually going on a date with someone. What if they put up a picture from years ago and instead of a 30 year old, I end up sitting across from some dude with a ventilator and a pair of false teeth? Do I stick it out and see if he’s got money? Has Anna Nicole been dead long enough to have a replacement?

Oh my god. What if I agree to meet with some guy and when I get there he turns out to be my mom’s ex boyfriend, Spongebob!

The longer I think about it, the more terrifying this situation becomes. I think I’ll get a taser, just in case. Is it legal to tase your date because he’s your mom’s ex boyfriend or because he smells funny?

So many questions!

I’m planning on setting up my profile tonight, so if you have any suggestions, warnings, or advice – come out with it now. Or, if after reading all of that you decide you just can’t live without me and there’s no need for me to look any further, tell me that too. But only if you’re loaded. I can’t support my crumb snatcher on love and sexy time, you know. Well, technically I could support her on sexy time, but my grandma would be really upset if I took up prostituting.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seven things I like - Part seven

7. Sex

Who doesn’t like sex, right? Honestly I think you’d be surprised.

I used to work with a girl who loathed it, said it made her skin crawl. And not just with a certain guy, with any guy. She just couldn’t enjoy it. I, of course, assumed that she’d had some kind of bad experience in the past, but after getting to know her, becoming friends, and point blank asking – I found out that there was no real reason at all. She’s been with the same guy for about five years now and he has to pretty much beg for it, the poor lamb.

I love her to death, but if I were her man, I’d be singing “What’s love got to do with it” as I moonwalked out the door on my way to stick my wang in the first hot chick available. Which might be why she calls me Al instead of Alyson.

I wasn’t always that way. I suppose in some ways I used to be worse.

When I was younger it was quantity over quality – As long as you were getting some, who cared if it was great? Like smoking cigarettes, it was cooler to do it than it was to abstain, even if you weren’t sure you liked it. I don’t know if that attitude was simply peer pressure or more of a combination of things.

My mother never mentioned sex to me. Ever. I figured that I knew the basics well enough anyway from reading the Judy Blume book Forever and watching my cousin Ashley demonstrate with naked, dry humping Barbies. And then there were the scenes in Days of Our Lives. Until the age of 15 I was convinced that if sex was going to be any good at all, it had to be done between purple sheets, in a candlelit room, and he’d better be using his John Black raised eyebrow face right as the over the top saxophone music started playing. Which really made going to that Kenny G concert awkward because I kept looking around in horror, waiting on the other spectators to start arching their eyebrows and touching each other.

My first time was so far away from any of that. I remember thinking, “This is what all the goddamn fuss is about? THIS is what guys want? Psssh, whatever.” There was no pain, no bleeding, nothing. Now that I’m older that doesn’t surprise me. I spent my summers riding horses, jet skis, and tubing on water rougher than two day stubble on a transvestite. My cherry hardly had time to settle in before it was being popped unobtrusively, like just another zit on the collective face of adolescence.

Being introduced to the world of “sexual activity” with so little fanfare had a marked affect on my attitude. There was power to be had, and all I had to do was assume the position and make a bit of noise. A horrible outlook for a teenage girl, but there you go.

After discussing it with my therapist there is, I suppose, a distinct possibility that I was a complete whore bag because my daddy didn’t love me enough. And, of course, a bit later, because sleeping with one person for any length of time brought up that nasty word “commitment”. I couldn’t say exactly how many people told me that most women end up marrying men like their fathers, but it was enough to fuel the fire for quite awhile - better to be safe and dip out in the middle of the night carrying your panties in your purse, than be sorry and have all your hard earned money and your gold wedding band spent on the crack rock.

The sad truth about all of my sexual encounters in the beginning was that they were unremarkable. I accept partial blame for those first however-many-we’re-talking-about-here, because I didn’t know any better and I didn’t care. Sure there were small moments here and there when something was “ah’ight” or “felt kinda nice”, but in general it was just a whirlwind of who really gives a fuck?

Did I tell the guys or my friends that? Absolutely not. Sex was totally awesome and shit. Me? I came all the time. Yep.

The one exception was oral sex. Though I didn’t enjoy receiving it at all, I enjoyed giving it quite a bit. In the beginning because it meant I wasn’t required to demonstrate just how much I was enjoying his sexual prowess and later because of that old ego booster – power. Being good at anything can be a welcome rush. Being good at giving head, having a man bigger and stronger than you trembling under your mouth and your touch, well, it’s twice as welcome.

It was unfortunate that my very first orgasm happened with one of the most revolting men I’ve ever met in my life. My therapist would have taken one look at him and asked, “Is his middle name ‘I Told You So’? Or maybe ‘Predictable’?” He was blonde, lanky, and good looking, but clearly from the wrong side of the tracks. The sort of boy my grandmother would watch from her window with the cordless phone in her hand and a scowl on her face, whether he had a plausible reason for being there or not.

I was living with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend at the time and that was a whole new experience in and of itself (threesome number one, in fact), one I’m glad I don’t remember much of. One afternoon I needed to get some things from my parent’s house and decided to take Mr. Bad News with me. My mother was absolutely horrified. She pulled me aside and asked me all sorts of questions about him, most of which I didn’t know the answers to. “You’re going to regret it”, she said. And she was right, though not for the reasons she implied.

I regret it because I hate him. And I hate that the memory of my first really good bout of sex, the one with the big finish, if you will, belongs to him. The sleazy bastard.

But as much as I dislike the man that started it all, I can’t deny that it completely changed my sexual outlook. I went from giving in, to actually wanting it. And if I reached numbers that a woman my age really shouldn’t be reaching, well, I can blame that on him too. Because after the first orgasm, you’re always in search of the next one and the next one. And I found them, sporadically and in between some of the most horrific and amusing sexual encounters likely known to woman, but still, I found them.

The funny thing, though, about those horrific and amusing sexual encounters, is that I started to like them too. Even if I didn’t get the desired result, the story itself was almost as valuable. This has less to do with the sexual aspect of it all and more to do with my love of writing and/or making people laugh. I’m sure the male inspirations behind my stories wouldn’t be too thrilled with my logic, but hey, I didn’t fuck them for the story. That was just a bonus.

For instance, I doubt the Brazilian would be thrilled to know that I made fun of his child molester van and the way he said “I fuck you, yes” repeatedly. Though props must be given for introducing me to being slapped. Well done, Junior.

And I doubt The Shump Daddy would like everyone to know that he sweats more than should be humanly possible, and screams in the faces of the women he’s bestowing his penis warp speed.

No, I doubt they’d appreciate that at all. And neither, I’m sure, would my family. Which is why I suppose I’ll have to wait until the majority of them are dead before I publish a book entitled: Daddy Issues – How I fucked my way through my fucked up life and enjoyed almost all of it.

And I have enjoyed almost all of it, aside from the first few encounters when I was too young to be enjoying it anyway, though as most of you know I’ve slowed down considerably. Eight months and counting, goddamn it.

It’s frustrating, of course, missing out on one of the things I enjoy so much. But just like all those years of unimpressive practice, all those orgasms, all those clit stabbers, sweaters, and fetishists – being (not completely unwillingly) abstinent is a learning experience. I’m sure I’ll come off of this long stint of inactivity enriched by all the knowledge it’s created. Or, I’ll just accidentally kill the first man that gets there with my super human vagina that’s had eight months of kegels and relatively little else, and end up as a character on the Lifetime Movie Network. Either way I still get laid, so it’s a win.

I haven’t yet decided if I’m still afraid of commitment. It really just depends on what day it is and whether or not I’ve eaten breakfast. I have, however, decided that it’s ok to be a woman with an impressive list of past lovers, no matter what people say. It’s not really shameful if you aren’t ashamed. If I ever do settle down with a nice man, maybe I can teach him a thing or two. And if hell doesn’t freeze over, I’ll always have a valuable life skill.


Now that I’ve finally finished this meme it’s time to pass it on to seven more bloggers. But before I do, let me tell you this:

I thought choosing seven things I like and writing an entire post about each one was going to be cake. It wasn’t quite that way. I made a list of things to write about in the beginning and only two of them actually made the cut. For me, probably like most people, I never really thought beyond the basics of what it means to like something. I like cake because it tastes good or I like reading because it’s a welcome distraction. I realized that if I really wanted to test myself, I needed to approach things a little differently. So I did. Or rather, I tried to. Several of the posts were about things I hadn’t planned on sharing at all, but I think we all know that sometimes blogging takes us in directions we hadn’t before considered. I hope you enjoyed reading my seven things, as unorthodox as some of them were. And I really hope that the bloggers I’m about to name decide to continue this meme in the new tradition.

They don’t have to be seven things you like/love. If you choose to participate, you can do seven things you wish you knew back then, seven influences on your life, seven ways your mother in law tried to ruin your marriage, or seven things the neighbor does that makes you want to shank her in the ovaries. Whatever you want, it’s your choice.

All of these bloggers are favorites of mine and I look forward to seeing what, if anything, they come up with.




Vegetable Assassin

Girl Interrupted


Didactic Pirate

Thank you. Come again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seven things I like - Part six

6. Mail

“Was there any mail today”, mom asked 12 year old me when she returned home from work.

“Nope”, I replied, eyes wide and suspiciously innocent behind my glasses. As soon as she turned her back I scampered off to shred the stolen evidence that was burning a hole in my pocket.

Disciplinary letters from school were a frequent occurrence at my house. I had a smart mouth, clogged up ears, and an immense dislike for authority. Especially one authority figure in particular: The bus driver. Her name was Ms. Wessinger and she was an absolutely foul creature. No one was exactly sure how old she was, but her face was wrinkled and scrunched up like a bulldog, jowls flapping in the breeze from the always open side window. She detested me and had a stack of pink suspension slips already filled out with my name. It’s likely to her that I owe the beginning of my love affair, my obsession, with our mailbox.

Every afternoon when I returned from school, by way of bus or someone’s car, I’d glance furtively around and approach the beckoning black boxes lined up on an old water pump. Even though what I was expecting to find was bad news, the thrill of pulling out an envelope and opening it was always the same. If there was an extra letter covered in stickers and drawings from my grandmother alongside the inevitable pink slip, so much the better.

I was sneaky and I was thorough. If I knew I was going to receive a disciplinary slip, and one always knew, and realized that I wouldn’t be the first person to arrive home, I made alternate arrangements. Older kids that lived around the corner or a certain middle aged neighbor with a penchant for mischief could always be persuaded to slip by our box and whisk away the proof. On the rare occasion that one of my cousins was unable to retrieve their own matching slip, I’d do it for them too. All for one and one for all.

However, there were times that getting caught was unavoidable. Times when a parent took sick and returned home unexpectedly, times when the school became suspicious about hearing no comment from a parent on their daughter’s active life of crime. But those times were rare, especially when I became driving age and didn’t have to bum rides or pretend to wait at the bus stop in the mornings.

The pink slips slowed to a trickle and I had to rely on pen pals for my weekly mail fix. I loved to write letters, loved to fold them and sign them with a flourish. My writing was a bubbly scrawl of mismatched cursive and print, taking up entirely too much room. I’m ashamed to say that I even went through a phase of dotting my i’s with hearts. But writing letters definitely took second place to receiving them.

It was that someone thought of me enough to write or that they took the time to mail the things they could have easily called to say, in considerably less time. It was just the mailbox...just the mail. But it seemed like such an important thing. I mean, they made their employees get up and deliver my adolescent musings rain or shine, sleet or snow. Bills even seemed exotic to me, with their little plastic windows and bright red letters proclaiming this or that was late.

Once, in typical idiotic kid fashion, I met a guy on the internet in a chat room. We exchanged addresses and, fortunately for me, he happened to be my age and not a child molesting murderer that planned to show up at my house and hog tie me in the basement. He lived halfway across the country and we wrote letters back and forth so often that I’ve got a shoebox full of them. (He’s actually the one that got me started on this whole blog thing in the first place, though we’ve lost touch since then.) Getting one of his letters in the mail used to make my day.

It was such a simple, innocent pleasure. I had a few other pen pals over the years, but none as prolific. And while I shudder to think of my own letters being stored in someone else’s shoebox, proof to the world that I was a complete and utter weirdo, reading their side of the exchange always makes me smile.

Now I get bills, fliers, invitations, bank statements, cards, and packages. And I can’t lie, I love them all. The bills, fliers, and statements I pile up without opening until there’s a leaning tower of correspondence on my book shelf to indicate just how important I really am. Only when it’s big enough will I open them. Cards, invitations, and packages I rip open immediately, gleefully. But letters...I don’t get those anymore. Not now, with email and text messaging being the preferred method of communication.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I love getting emails and instant messages and texts. I just love opening my mailbox more.

Lately, thanks to several of you bloggers, I’m been excitedly ripping open more packages than in previous years. It’s definitely made up for the loss of pink slips and pen pals.

So, a lovely thank you to the following:

Baglady – Who I believe was the first blogger to send me a care package. It contained not only a bag of delicious Percy Pigs, but a beautiful black and white photo in place of a postcard. Brilliant idea.

Erin – From whom I actually ordered a lovely array of crocheted items, but really, it was still a package.

Mylittlebecky – She sent me a huge box full of goodies! A float (which I LOVE because I live by the lake and rarely get out of it), my favorite candy, writing goodies, etc. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she’d been stalking me to find out what I like.

Ally – I commented on an awesome necklace she had and she actually sent me one AND a package of the cutest earrings ever, shaped like Russian doll things. I love her for it, but my family is so very tired of the vulgar message displays...especially "MyCuntRocks", which is the one I use most frequently. I mean, it's not like it's false advertising. Pssh.

Jules – From whom I won a lovely bright pinkish purple sex toy. So technically it was mailed in a discreet brown box from Babeland, not Jules, but she was the force behind my win. (Also, somehow the brown box wasn’t that discreet...)

Oh, and of course, I can’t forget about Kid in the Front Row. He sent me the DVD Lost in Translation because I’m smart and I won his contest a million years ago. And an English coin (2p?), which was cool because I collect them. Coins, that is, not specifically English money.

I currently have two packages that are LONG overdue to be mailed out and I’m remedying that immediately. Judearoo and Erin, that means you guys.

As for the rest of you, I’d like to offer to have a little contest and mail something fabulous to the winner but for some reason people are afraid to receive mail from me. I promise I know nothing about anthrax and I do not have a habit of sending strangers my underwear.

So, if you aren’t afraid leave a comment saying so (etc! I mean, don’t just comment on THAT.) and I’ll drop your name in my bra, swish it around, and pull out a winner. It might even come with your very own disciplinary pink slip.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seven things I like: Part five

5. Home

There’s a house at the end of a short, winding dirt road. It sits on an incline, the stormy blue sides looking almost grey from a distance. It’s a normal house – small, comfortable, and filled with people to keep it clean and running. A Bradford pear tree, planted 10 years ago, has finally grown tall enough to reach the shingles and the large, sloping lawn is a beautiful shade of green.

The patio furniture has clearly been used often and a grill stands ready in the corner. Sidewalk chalk drawings litter the pavement and gardening supplies lie scattered on the surrounding brick wall, the remnants of an abandoned Sunday project. A deaf, fat yellow lab lolls on his back in the half empty flower bed, convinced that his owners are just as lazy as him and won’t be back to finish their planting.

The front door opens to the rarely used, pale yellow dining room. It’s simple, with a small gold chandelier and heavy, unadorned antique furnishings. The old table looks more at home covered in the debris of their day than it does under the spread of china – school drawings, book bags, purses, mail, and a grocery bag or two. It’s the hub, the quickest way in and out, where everyone stops to rifle for their keys or tie their shoes, where they shout “I’m home” and open waiting arms.

On either side of the dining room there are two large bedrooms, added on years ago. One is blue and one is Pepto-Bismol pink, though they are both covered in obnoxiously printed carpet – colorful fibers swirled together and punctuated with white stars, moons, and spirals that glow in the dark. The blue room’s closet doors are made up of four sliding mirrors and while originally thought to be a luxury, the room’s resident is in constant upset over the traffic they’ve caused.

In the blue room the furniture is heavy and dark, a matching antique set, and the bedding a chocolate brown with blue accents. The blinds stay closed and the dark curtains stay drawn, giving the room a distinctly gothic vibe, not unlike its owner’s thick black eyeliner. And though the resident of the pink room had no hand in choosing the hideous color of her walls, she is quite confident that her room is superior. The furniture might be mismatched and the closet might be smaller with economical white folding doors, but it’s homey.

The walls are covered with artfully framed paintings and the desk with attached shelves is filled with books. Pink and green homemade curtains hang open at the windows and the tall bed is covered in a worn, white flowered comforter. A wicker chair with a palm tree printed cushion sits in a corner next to another overflowing shelf of books. Everything looks orderly on the surface, everything neatly placed and dusted, but one flip of the bed skirt would reveal a different story entirely.

The dining room runs into the kitchen, wall papered with a flower and pottery design that no one will own up to choosing. It’s a small room with the same pale hardwood floors as the dining area and a set of white folding doors in the corner concealing the laundry room. A wooden breakfast table serves as an island. Two stools are nestled underneath on the slotted bottom, but rarely used because of the broken piece that gets knocked off every time one is moved. Nailing it back in place is, apparently, out of the question.

The living room furniture is thick and comfortable, with overstuffed cushions and pillows with geometric designs. The sides are scored with nail marks from disobedient cats and the stuffing is leaking in a few unobtrusive places. Two side tables and a matching coffee table are decorated with candle holders, lamps, and coasters. Recently the coffee table has started to match the worn couches, with its edges being chewed to rough nubs by a certain new puppy. The walls are covered in cherry framed photos of The Battery, Rainbow Row, lighthouses, and other Charleston landmarks. A lone plant stands on a hand painted stool, flourishing in spite of several murder attempts, next to a table full of family photos – graduations, birthdays, football and cheerleading.

On one side of the living room is a bright purple bedroom with shiny white furniture, and a playroom covered in toys and sticky fingerprints. Attempts to clean either are rather half hearted due to the overwhelming amount of items. There simply isn’t enough room and things often spill over into the adjoining bathroom decorated with seashells.

On the other side is the last bedroom, the master suite that, ironically, is one of the smallest rooms in the house. It’s painted a pale blue and covered with large paintings of Charleston ghosts walking amongst the town. There’s nothing remarkable about the room, really, other than the fact that that particular bed is where everyone gathers on Saturday mornings. From the smallest resident to the oldest, five in all, piled together in pajamas with steaming cups of coffee, laughing and talking about the day ahead, begging for breakfast, or just lying in a pool of early morning sunshine.

And saving the best for last: the porch.

Long, carpeted, and screened in – it functions more like a lounge. Three ceiling fans stir the humid air around, making the summer a bit more bearable. Two tall glass tables with four tall chairs each are all that’s needed. A pair of binoculars, an ashtray, and a glass candle holder shaped like a frog sit atop the table with the best view of the lake and, of course, the neighbors. It’s where the most action happens – Parties and spilled glasses of wine, late night discussions in the pitch dark, broken toes and petty arguments, tearful confessions, secret make out sessions, videos, thick novels and condensation rings.

The entire house, even the porch, is lived in, memories good and bad around every corner. Some faces have changed, some claw marks on the couch are new, and sometimes it gets a bit crowded. It’s not fancy and expensive or stylish. It’s just home.

My home.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Seven things I like - Part four

4. Office intrigue (alternate option: being noticed)


“Guess who’s in the lobby?”

A redheaded coworker from down the hall stood grinning ear to ear in front of my office. I figured she was getting excited about the old Xerox man again, so I just shrugged.

“The new account manager. And he’s gorgeous.”

That caught my attention for a brief second before I remembered that our taste in men is vastly different. “Meh”, I said and shrugged again. She gave me a look that clearly said “You’ll see” and shuffled back down the hall.

A few minutes later, while I was absorbed in Excel spreadsheets, the Big Boss (who, ironically, is a very small man) stopped in the same spot my coworker recently vacated and cleared his throat. I looked up and he introduced me to the man at his side. (We’ll call him Juan.)

And for once, Red was right. He was gorgeous – incredibly tall and muscular with dark hair, dark eyes, and a naturally tan complexion many women would skin him alive to have. And he had an incredible smile. I was suddenly very self conscious about my less than put together state.

But after he left, my boss said the magic words: “It’s a shame he’s married. Got a six month old baby too.”

Sigh. Yes, a crying shame. Oh well, I thought, at least I can still enjoy looking at him without worrying what he thinks of me.


I strutted into the office wearing the lovely new heels I bought on vacation and stuck a pose in front of my boss’s office. “Ta-Da!” My favorite grey pencil skirt and turquoise top completed the ensemble. She gave me the teasing “I know who you dressed up for” speech and after a swift, yet completely true, denial...I went in search of coffee.

An hour or so later, when Juan came strolling in, I was standing in my boss’s doorway once more. He did a double take and said, “Well! You’re all dressed up this morning!”

“Yeah, this is how I’m supposed to look.” I laughed and took a sip of my coffee.

“Hmm. Yeah, because Friday you were, um...whew.” His unpleasant facial expression did the rest of his talking.

My mouth dropped in disbelief. Did this man, who’d only met me once before, just allude to the fact that I looked like shit on Friday? Granted I did look like shit on Friday, but that’s not the point.

My boss laughed and gave me a playfully stern look. “Yes, Juan. Maybe you can help me enforce the dress code around here.”

He looked me up and down and said, “Visible tattoos. The one on your back was showing on Friday. I’d make you cover them.”

I smirked at him and leaned forward. “Then I guess it’s a good thing you aren’t my boss then, isn’t it.” I turned on my heel and walked away.


When I got to work and sat down at my desk I said to myself, “Self, he’s new. He’s young. This is his first major account and he’s probably nervous. He probably heard you and D (my boss) ribbing each other and was trying to fit in. Give him the benefit of the doubt before forever labeling him a pompous fucker...even if his demeanor is telling you just that.”

When he stopped by that morning I smiled and said hello.

“So I just got hit on by this old lady employee”, he said.

“Oh yeah?” I smiled again encouragingly. We could bond over old people hitting on us...happened to me all the time.

“Yeah. I took her the mat ya’ll ordered for her to stand on and she...” blah blah bullshit bullshit ... “then she winked at me and asked if I was going to give her a raise. I told her no and...”

I was standing behind my desk, sifting through paperwork and looking for what I needed him to sign. Without looking up I said, “You should have said ‘yeah, I’ll give you an inch’.”

I was referring, of course, to the mat the woman was standing on which was about an inch thick. (It’s supposed to make standing for long periods of time more comfortable.)

He immediately burst out laughing. “That’s good. You’re witty.” He continued chuckling on his way out the door. There, I thought, that’s better.

Later, when I relayed the conversation to D she also started laughing. But, as it turns out, only because she thought I was referring to his penis and not the mat. Psssh! As if I would refer to a man’s penis when I barely know him.


Juan called my office line and asked if I’d like to have lunch with him, his wife, and their baby. Seeming almost like an afterthought, he suggested I also invite D.

“Um...I guess.”

I wondered why on earth he’d think I’d want to have lunch with his family. I only just met him and yes, though we semi bonded over a shared love of insulting the people that hit on us, I still hadn’t really decided if I liked him that much as a person. He still, at times, seemed stuck up and holier-than-thou.

D, however, was thrilled and couldn’t wait to get her hands on the baby.

He showed up in the suite with them in tow, made introductions, and we all walked to lunch.

The baby was very cute and chubby, if you like that sort of thing, and the wife was very thin and quiet. She looked a tad foreign, like Juan, with a long nose, dark complexion, dark eyes and hair. She seemed very nice, but the whole situation was awkward. His personality switched to, well, goofy.

If I were a nice person, I’d simply think that he was proud of his family and wanted to show them off to his new coworkers, thus creating a bond and ensuring future conversation topics.

However, since I’m not a nice person, the first thought I had was: I’ll bet his wife just wanted to see what kind of women he’s working with.

But after meeting her I decided that couldn’t be it. I settled for thinking: He’s super weird.

Thursday and Friday

I realized that he is indeed super weird.

Not for the first time that week, he sat in my office and basically said a lot of nothing while staring. One minute he would say something borderline offensive and the next he’d be awkward and nice.

I began having elementary school flashbacks of pigtail pulling and name calling, all while assuring myself that I surely had it wrong. There was no way...

Monday morning

I had to take the kid to the second part of her kindergarten registration, so I wanted to look nice. I wore a simple, black cotton dress with spaghetti straps and a low ruffled neckline, and silver sandals. I took the time to straighten my hair, which I hadn’t done in a very long time because it takes forever to tame my curly afro, and wore my usual makeup. Nothing very flashy or different, just how I usually look when I don’t roll out of bed and run screaming “I’m late goddamn it!” out the door.

I arrived at work around 10am, sat down, and immediately started working on reports. A few minutes later, Juan stopped at my door.

“Your hair...” He had a surprised look on his face.

“Yessssss”, I replied slowly.

“It’s straight!”

I widened my eyes with pretend shock. “Yes.”

“It looks good.”


“Your eyes...”

I narrowed the objects in question. The conversation was starting to sound like a joke in the making. “Yesssss.”

“They’re dark...”


“You know, they look kind of...goth.”


“Not in a bad way, but yeah, they look kind of goth.”

I sighed. “They do not. This is no different from the makeup I’ve been wearing for the past week.”

We took the issue to D, who surmised that it must just be the straight hair that made it all look different.

Monday afternoon

About thirty minutes before quitting time D said she had to run upstairs for a minute. I nodded and went back to whatever I was doing.

Then he poked his head around the corner. Not Juan, though he’s every bit as gorgeous as the irritating Juan.


I’ve worked for this same company twice – once for two years and now again, for almost another two years (with a two year break in between). And in that time, I’ve seen Josh a lot in the halls and in the cafeteria. He’s even been in my office a handful of times and we’ve spoken briefly about work related things. I used to hear rumors about what a womanizer he was, but then he got married and they had a baby. Well, he’s apparently not married anymore.

So there he was – all sharp angles, blue eyes and messy hair.

“Where’s my girlfriend”, he asked grinning. (That’s what he calls D.)

“She went upstairs for a sec, but she’ll be right back if you want to wait.”

He edged completely around the door frame and glanced at my name on the outside wall, then back at me. “Alyson? Are you new?”


“Are you married?”

I cocked my head to the side and smiled, like I do when I’m wondering what the hell is going on. “No. But you are.”

“I’m divorced.”


“You’re beautiful”, he retorted immediately.

“Heh...thanks.” I smiled awkwardly.

“I can’t believe I haven’t noticed you before...”

“I’ve met you several times.” I shrugged. “I don’t always wear makeup.” It was a peace offering, forgiveness for not knowing who I was. He continued to stare at me and he commented on my hair and makeup (I mean, what the hell is going on around here all of a sudden?). Then he said, “I don’t suppose you’d want to go on a date with me?”

I’d heard the back door slam a moment earlier and before I could reply there was my boss, D, standing next to him. “No, she doesn’t want to go on a date with you!”

They stood next to each other, facing me in the doorway, and I was dumbstruck. I had no idea what to say. Was this all some kind of joke?

“She’s gorgeous”, he said to D.

“And she knows it”, she replied.

They continued to speak about me as if I wasn’t there for a minute or so. Then he said, “No, I guess you wouldn’t want to go on a date with me.” I smiled, but D started to shoo him out the door. He grinned and said “I’ll see you later” and was gone.

D came back and stood in front of me and I stared at her with undisguised irritation.

“I knew you wouldn’t want to go out with him”, she crowed.

“How the hell did you know that”, I yelled.

“...we call him the man whore? I didn’t think you’d”

“I haven’t gotten laid since fucking NEW YEAR’S! He’s hot AND a guaranteed lay. HELLO!”

“Oh!” She started laughing. “Don’t worry, I’ll fix it then.”


She left and I attempted to go back to work, only to be interrupted again a few minutes later by an older male coworker, B, coming though the door. “Man! You’re hot stuff today!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Josh just stopped me in the hall outside to ask me all these questions about you and tell me how hot you are.”

I smiled, couldn’t help it. But I left it at that.

I really needed to stay late, but right at 4 I rushed out of the office and to my car. I couldn’t sit still any longer. As I drove down the ramps in the parking garage, I replayed the conversation in my head. By the time I hit the interstate less than five minutes later, I realized I was grinning like an idiot.

I actually said out loud, “Jesus, Alyson, knock it off!”

At first I wasn’t sure just what was so great, why I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. After all, it’s not like we actually had a date. Then it dawned on me: I couldn’t remember the last time a man called me beautiful.

It’s sad really, I mused, that I can be won over so easily. But still, it’s nice to hear.

Tuesday morning

As soon as I walked in the door D ambushed me. “I sent an envelope through his department secretary with your phone numbers and a note that said “call her”.

“Thanks”, I replied a tad sarcastically.

“I thought that’s what you wanted?”

“It is...I think...” Suddenly I wasn’t so sure. What if he’d just been talking a load of shit and flirting with me like he does everyone else.

Tuesday afternoon

I sat down at the lunch table next to Red and D, and across from Juan and B. We’d been laughing and joking for awhile when D brought up Juan’s comment about my “goth” eyes. He attempted to argue his case, but I interrupted him. Leaning across the table I said, “You know, you comment on my appearance more than anyone I know.”

He had nothing to say to that, instead looking down at a piece of paper he was rolling between his fingers. Everyone else roared with laughter.

A short time later everyone suddenly quieted down and looked to my left. I turned and Josh was standing there with a grin on his face. “Hi”, he said to the table in general and taking the seat next to Juan, across from me.

“Did you get my envelope”, D asked him immediately.

“Yeah”, he replied with a wink, “I’m going to take care of that later.”

After he and Juan were introduced the others continued their conversation. Josh glanced at my tray covered in lunch debris and pointed at the empty yogurt container. “YOplait”, he said with strange exaggeration. “Is that any good?”

I glanced at the container and back at him, catching Juan’s look of barely suppressed glee in the process. “Yeah, it’s decent.”

“What else did you have?”

I told him what I ate, he told me about his meal, and then we were drawn into the surrounding conversation. Red was silently laughing with her head down and Josh, figuring out that she was making fun of him, decided to cut his losses and leave.

“I’ll see you later”, he said with a smile.

As soon as he was out of ear shot, everyone lost it. Juan leaned across the table and wiggled his eyebows at me. “YOOOOplait”, he said mock seductively.

Even I had to admit it was quite funny. Until he said something that, for the life of me, I can’t remember...but it borderline irritated me. And when he followed it up with a line I DO remember, I snapped back.

“You”, he said in a cocky, insulting tone, “have awkward conversations with men.”

“ExCUSE me?”

The tension in the air was palpable. He attempted to make light of his remarks, but his tone was completely contradictory. Everyone started to get up and clear their things and as I rose with them I said, “I’m not talking to you anymore.”

Like a five year old child. Sigh.

Wednesday morning, today

My office phone rang at 9:20am and I answered, already knowing who it would be.

“Hi. It’s Josh.”

“Hi.” I couldn’t fight my stupid grin.

“I was wondering if you wanted to have breakfast with me. We didn’t really get a chance to talk yesterday with everyone around so...”

“I don’t usually eat breakfast”, I replied, then immediately slapped myself in the forehead. What the hell?

He laughed. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to...”

“Oh no, that’s not it! It’s...I don’t know if D will let me.”

“You get breaks don’t you?”

“Yes, but you hold on a second?”


I placed him on hold and hit D’s extension. “D! Josh is on the phone! He wants to know if I can have breakfast with him!”



“Um...ask him if he can wait until later. Big Boss might wonder where you are and” blah blah blah bullshit cock blocking bullshit.

I went back to him and told him that I couldn’t go.

“That’s ok. I’ll try and come by for lunch or just stop by your office later.”

“Ok. Sorry.”

Wednesday afternoon, today

We sat at the same lunch table as the day before, missing only Juan. The others left the seat next to me conspicuously empty and before long, Josh came along to fill it.

We ate, laughed, and had a great conversation about random things. Cars, the weekend, work. The more I talked to him, the more I liked him. But for some reason I had trouble looking him directly in the face for any length of time. He’s maybe too good looking...and with the stubble he was sporting, mmmm. Bad thoughts, bad thoughts, bad thoughts. Deep breaths.

Juan joined us halfway through the meal and sat at the other end of the table. Every now and then I’d look up and catch him staring at me with amusement. It was unnerving and at one point Josh noticed. He asked me a question about him, but I couldn’t hear everything he said. Rather than ask him to repeat himself, I made a “meh” back and forth gesture and a half laugh. No idea if that was a good thing or not.

Everyone behaved themselves and when Josh got up to leave, he said he’d catch me later.

Wednesday afternoon, today, an hour ago

Juan stopped by my office and leaned against the frame. Seeing a coffee cup sitting on my desk, he reached for it and said, “Did you make coffee?”

“No, that’s from this morning, but I was thinking about making some. Do you want some?”


“Go make it.”

“I don’t know how”, he said with a grin.

“I’ll show you. For future reference, when I need my coffee made.”

“Great.” He followed me to the break room/kitchen.

As I moved around the room cleaning the carafe and getting the filter, we talked about work. While the coffee was brewing I took out cups and placed them on the counter. I opened the top drawer with the packaged sugar, sweeteners, and creamer and interrupted him. “What do you need?”

“This.” He leaned across me to grab a container sitting on the counter.

The conversation turned to his time in the military and as he demonstrated what he was talking about with his body, he boxed me into the corner of the cabinets. For the few remaining minutes we were there, it felt like he was closer than he should be.


I have no idea what is going on. One minute the office is quiet and normal...and the next it’s exploding with testosterone. Where did they all come from?

Juan is married. I keep telling myself that I’m imagining things, reading into things, but everyone around me says otherwise. “He’s got the hots for you”, D and Red keep saying.

Harmless flirting is fine, I can deal with that. It’s the intense looks, the verbal sparring, and the taunting smiles. It’s like he’s deliberately making me crazy.

I will NOT do anything stupid. I have some integrity. Plus there’s Josh for that, and I’m excited about my prospects there.

But just between you and me, no man has ever made me this unnerved.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Seven things I like - Part three

3. Fiction

In elementary school our librarian’s name was Ms. Sakovich. She had short, spiky blonde hair and a thin face with a nose like the blade of a knife. Her clothes were a constant source of wonderment – vests with spirals of bright colors and huge wooden earrings shaped like animals. I remember thinking she had a strange, almost grating voice. But when she read to our class, cross legged and eager on the huge oval rug, her voice was never her own. Every character had a different accent, a different tone.

When I started middle school things changed drastically. Apparently it wasn’t cool to check out books from the library anymore. Girls weren’t trading stickers and chapter books over recess; they were being chased by boys and whispering about crushes in giggling huddles. I wasn’t very interested in that. In fact, I wasn’t much interested in our lessons either. I preferred to sneak a paperback behind my textbooks and binders, often getting caught and reprimanded. Had my parents known that I’d grow up to be such a difficult teenager, I doubt they would have complained so much about the notes on my report cards that, back then, read: Often caught daydreaming, does not pay attention, needs to read assigned material.

The middle school library wasn’t what I was used to – light, airy, full of skylights, and boasting a special reference room and a bank of computers. There was a reading garden with a small fish pond, flower beds, and stone benches, but I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to read out there. It didn’t have the inviting atmosphere of the old elementary school, with its wooden floors and thick, bright rugs. It took a year for me to get acclimated to more modern surroundings.

There was a program called Accelerated Reading that was meant to encourage students to read. For the most part, it didn’t. Only a hand full of students were interested in the points gained from checking out a new book, reading it, and then taking a test on its content. I, being the consummate nerd, decided that not only would I participate; I’d have more points than anyone. It was the first tangible goal I ever set for myself.

I began spending lunch and recess hunting for books with the most points. The librarian, Ms. Gibson, took a liking to me and offered me the job of checking in and shelving returned books. I became such a fixture there that I was allowed to leave classes early and help her, as long as I’d finished all my work. She was a tiny, dark haired woman with a ready smile and a soft voice. Sometimes when I stood behind the big counter, with my glasses slipping down my nose and my volunteer badge swinging on its lanyard, I’d pretend I was her. Everyone there certainly treated me like an adult, like a fellow faculty member, each time I walked in the doors. It was a heady feeling.

There was only one other girl in school that read as much as I did – Christina. We couldn’t have been more different if we’d tried. She had a round face with a turned up nose and long, thick brown hair. I wouldn’t have called her pretty, but she certainly wasn’t a geek in glasses and braces like me. She had an air of superiority about her and when she started spending more and more time at the computers taking AR tests, I was worried. I thought maybe we might become friends for our shared love of reading, but no. She was quick to inform me that her reading tastes were far more advanced than my own and she intended to win the AR contest by a landslide.

She didn’t. She only won by a few points, but at the awards ceremony, when they called my name for second place, I couldn’t see it as anything but a failure.

I didn’t try at all the next year. And, though my reasons for backing away from the competition weren’t very admirable, it ended up helping me in the long run. I realized that I was happier reading just for me than I was reading for the purpose of winning.

That was 14 years ago and I still love reading more than anything else, even writing. I still sneak paperbacks behind binders and walk and read at the same time. I’m still often caught daydreaming about a novel I just finished and paying attention will never be my strong suit. I’m still the consummate book nerd...just with a slightly cooler exterior.

And while my taste is rather eclectic, I still prefer fiction. I’ve read nonfiction books and thoroughly enjoyed them, but they don’t have that same magical pull.

Because in a nonfiction world, I’m a 25 year old single mom that lives at home with her mother.

I have a decent job for someone with no college degree, but no clear idea about the direction of my professional future. I have bills and responsibilities that overwhelm me on a day to day basis. I fear that I might never meet anyone special...and I fear that I will. My five year old daughter starts kindergarten this year and I will attend parent/teacher meetings and have adult conversations I’m sure I don’t know the first thing about.

I burn meals and cry about broken eye shadow compacts. My sense of humor is, more often than not, tasteless and I could never, even at my best, be classified as elegant. In a nonfiction world, everything is real...boring. Sometimes unbearably so.

Oh, but in a fiction world!

In a fiction world I’m a 17 year old red headed Russian, passionately in love with a Chinese communist. I pick pockets for the fun of it and take off on dangerous adventures, making friends and enemies both along the way.

I’m a sultry Southern belle in love with the wrong man for all the wrong reasons. Greedy and self absorbed, but passionate and strong. I wear gorgeous gowns, dance at balls, and kill a solider or two when they deserve it.

I’m a vampire, an actress, a time traveler, a hobbit, a secret agent, and an intellectual with a horrendous hat. I have steamy sex with virtual strangers and shoot bad guys down in dark alleys. When I fall in love with my best friend, he falls in love with me back...even if it takes him a few chapters to get there.

But life is what you make it, I know that. In the nonfiction world I’m also young, healthy, and there’s no telling what excitement or adventures the future may hold. There are a lot of pages left to turn...and I’ll turn them with relish.

I’m learning to set limits on my forays into the fictional world, because it’s obviously easier for me to get lost in it than most. I’m learning to look up and participate in this nonfiction life, even if the hurts are real and the sex isn’t made for a Harlequin novel.

Even so, a part of me will always be that girl hunched over the latest fantasy, with her glasses slipping down her nose and a worn out library card burning a hole in her pocket.