Throwing Stones

“Curling! That seems like my kind of sport,” Frank said. “It’s more like a board game. Hey, Kid, this might be how I finally check ‘Olympics’ off my bucket list.”

“Frank Hampshire” might have been the most nonathletic man I had ever dated, but he was certainly among the most endearing. I like that he called me “Kid” instead of “baby” or “sweetie” (Big called Carrie “Kid,” after all.) But more than that, I liked that Frank saw dating as an opportunity for an outing, for an activity, for an adventure. Dating Frank was like real dating. Where my Ex before him was mostly into dinner and the bedroom, Frank was keen to organize doing something (other than each other…)

Our first date was a ramble around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our second: The Jazz Age Lawn Party. Our third: the US Open. We ventured to craft fairs and on hikes. We went to concerts from alt-punk to classical piano. We saw movies in theaters rather than on Netflix. Eating was about finding or attempting to make a new ethnic cuisine. Our final date was a college basketball game. My Alma vs. his. Mine won. We broke up three days later. I don’t think the game had anything to do with it, though it was perhaps an apt metaphor — in our relationship, I always needed to win.

With that in mind, one of my favorite dates with Frank Hampshire was something of a competition: I suggested we try curling.

For those that didn’t get addicted to the sport during the last two winter Olympics (thank you, MSNBC for airing something other than figure skating), this is curling:

My home town is home to one of the few curling clubs in the NYC Metro Area, and it was open house season. I signed us up.

Curling may not seem all that hard, but when you’re 6’3, can barely touch your toes, and have questionable balance just walking, throwing a 40 pound stone down a sheet of ice, from a ground-skimming Warrior 1 pose is nearly impossible. Whereas I had spent more than half of my 28 years in a lunge thanks to fencing, Frank’s primary sport was Fantasy Football. Once our instructor had explained the mechanics, I was throwing stones with some competency. But then it was Frank’s turn, and I threw the worst stone of all. As I watched Frank fumble around in the “House,” all the aforementioned strikes against him, I started laughing… uncontrollably. Doubled over. No words of encouragement, just sheer laughter. #WorstTeammateEver

After several hours, we called it quits and headed out for some curry.

“I take it back, Kid.” He said. “I don’t think an Olympic curling medal is in my future. How about next week I just let you win at ‘Scattergories.'”

 

 

The Right to Ask for Mr. Right

He looked at me with distaste, and slammed his beer down on the bar top. He began to chastise me:

“Don’t go looking to marry another Ivy-Leaguer. That’s douche-y. You want to be one of those couples in the Sunday Times? Don’t do that. The fancy diplomas, the championship ring — those are your things. Find someone who has his things. Find yourself a real MAN. I mean, a MAAAAN. Someone who thinks you’re fabulous, not ya know, fab-u-looooous, ’cause that’ll open a whole ‘nother door of problems for you.”

Jimmy swished his hand in a stereotyping display, and if I wasn’t offended I might have laughed.

I had been judged unfairly, by someone who knew me better than most.

I was being scolded for holding out for someone who could keep up. To him, that read as I was looking for a man with all the checks in the column — multiple top-tier degrees, a power job, an All-American past and cross-fit future, a golden retriever, and a perfect hairline. This wasn’t the case. He clustered me in with “the 800 other 20-something women I know in New York who are over educated, under paid, and who just can’t find a guy who can keep up.”

“I have a right, you know, to ask for Mr. Right, whoever that may be.”

Luckily, just then, the drunk male Red Sox fan standing next to us started a fight with a drunk female Yankees fan, and a bouncer intervened. His chastising of me was forced to a halt.

When I first finished my MA and ended years of traveling round the world as an aspiring athlete, people were quick to warn me that I’d have a problem finding a guy who was good enough — who was smart enough, who was successful enough, who was worldly enough, etc. It seemed important to the people who met me that I be worried about finding a Mr. Right. I wasn’t and people couldn’t understand that. Sure, I wanted competent companionship… but after I found a job with health insurance.

The job came, my career was finally on the move and people stopped being interested in my dating life… or at least, it wasn’t the first thing they asked about. People stopped prescribing a rich husband and started asking how much was too much to pay for an artwork. I become more than a single girl with an advanced degree in something people didn’t understand. It was a relief.

And then I had lunch with the Professor…

“It must be hard for you,” he said, after confessing that he’d googled me and found my blog.

“What must be hard for me?”

“Dating. I imagine the pool you have to choose from is very limited.”

“What do you mean?”

“Someone with your education — there aren’t many men that can keep up, I bet.”

I suppose, I should have been flattered, but I wasn’t.  He was exactly 20 years older than me, I was unclear about why we were having lunch together (the encounter walked a fine line between networking and well, not networking), and he didn’t know me.

“An ivy league degree doesn’t guarantee intelligence, or intellect, or sensitivity,” I replied. “What makes my dating pool small is not that fewer men have graduate degrees than women. It’s that I have passions and ambitions. If all I wanted to do was settle and have 5 kids, I’d be married by now. But I want more than that. I am more than the sum of my degrees and I expect my partner to be as well.”

He could sense the irritation in my voice. We proceeded to talk philosophically about happiness and relationships, about being a Marine during the sexual revolution and the pitfalls of being a dating blogger.

Ink Me Up

“Why would you want to add a tattoo to that perfect skin? You’re beautiful just the way you are. Besides, you already have this…”

The Admiral ran a finger over a small candy-cane shaped cluster of freckles on my arm. It’s not a marking you’ll readily notice, but it’s a distinguishing feature — my birth-given tattoo, courtesy of god’s (or whoever’s) henna-inked pin-pricks.

Then he added: “I hate tattoos, especially on women. It’s almost a deal breaker.”

I had just shared that I had wanted a bit of ink since I was a teenager. Something small and meaningful. It was an inevitability, I just hadn’t all the way settled on what and where. He was clearly less enthused, and while I appreciated the compliment, I was less keen on the attempted coercion. (When the Admiral and I broke up, one of the first things I did as a purge was cut my hair short because he liked my hair long. His need for dominance brought out the insubordinate in me.)

Two years later, I was dating Chris, a muscle-bound, bearded guy I met at my gym. Like oh, so many New York/Long Island/Westchester bred late 20-somethings, Chris had tats you could see… and several you couldn’t. He was a soft-spoken physiotherapist who liked the outdoors, adored his sister, and played an acoustic guitar. The elaborate ink, including a large inscription across his chest, which peeked out from under his workout wife-beater seemed in total contradiction to his mild-mannered ways. The tattoos were among his most attractive qualities — it suggested a little bad boy behind a teddy bear exterior.

Our first date was at a craft-beer gastropub on the Hudson River. Our waitress, a tall, slim alabaster-skinned woman with jet black hair restrained in long braids a la Bo Derek, had more than a few tattoos emerging from every corner of her outfit — stars creeping up her neck, roses growing down her arm onto her hand, a flock of swallows on her shoulder blade.

I could tell he was fascinated.

“Yea, I mean, I like women with ink,” he said when I asked. “I have ink. I think it’s sexy. It makes you different, and I like different. Have you ever thought of getting a tattoo?”

Well, actually… now that you mention it, I had this one idea…

When I was 12, I was all about henna and temporary tattoos. When my parents and I would vacation in Mexico, I would get those string wraps in my hair and then visit the airbrush-tattoo parlor for something. A butterfly on my arm. A heart on my ankle.

Beyonce is just one of many celebs and private citizens rocking metallic tattoos these days
Beyonce is just one of many celebs and private citizens rocking metallic tattoos these days

In the 90s, much like now with sponge-on metallic tattoos, temporary tattoos were all the fashion. Maybelline made this liquid temporary tattoo ink in different colors that came in a bottle like liquid eyeliner, complete with fine-tipped brush. I had several of those. Then I bought a body-art stamp and body-ink pad — a small pepper I’d always add to my shoulder when it was summertime. #HotTamale My parents (well, my mother) even gave me a henna kit for Christmas. They seemed to have no beef with the prospect of their daughter rocking some body art… as long as it was temporary.

Maybe this was just a phase, they thought. She’ll grow out of it. She’ll never get behind the idea of having to commit to one of those butterflies forever and ever…

One could argue that I did indeed grow out of it. Eventually I stopped adorning myself with things that pressed on and washed off. In college, I had a few friends who did that stereotypical college thing — get plastered and then get terrible, terrible, terrible tattoos. That was a bit of a turn off. So I quieted that desire to get ink of my own.

Then I turned 30, and in a rosé-dazed moment I made a deal with a friend that we would get tats together before the end of the year.

“You know, you could just get a custom designed bracelet,” a friend witnessing the pact suggested as a less permanent alternative.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been working my way through the sheets of temporary ink, designed for teenagers and purchased at Claire’s. I have a hidden pintrest board where I’m collecting line drawings that suit my vision. The temporary tattoos in more visible spots, like my forearm and wrist, have been met with universal enthusiasm. My new assistant has even come up with a handful of tattoos all members of #TeamGallery can get together – “we can each get one of the women in Picasso’s Demoiselles D’Avignon! And then when we stand next to each other, we’ll be a masterpiece! Or you can get a hammer, and we’ll each get nails!”

I’ve listened to the stories and meaning people imbue into their ink. People with tats get incredibly excited when they hear someone is thinking of getting their first. I’ve picked up willing moral-supporters who will go with me when I get mine done. I’ve racked up a long list of artists I should work with. I’ve heard people tell me they’ve made their appointments for laser removals. I’ve shared my own idea with people, including my mother, who said: Aww, that’s nice (it’s about my family), but it could be ugly. Can’t you come up with something better?

All of this sounds like I should be leading to an ending of this post where I share a photo of my new tattoo. I haven’t quite bitten the bullet yet. I’m getting there. In the meantime, I still have a sheet of temporary tats to work through…

Confessions: The Chair in the Bedroom

Honestly, I can deal with messy, I said. But not dirty. I abhor dirty. My last serious boyfriend, he was dirty. I always thought his dresser was grey, until one night, when he was sleeping, I took a Swiffer to it. to get rid of a few strands of dust that had been driving me craaaazy. Turns out the dresser was brown. The grey was dust! Took 4 Swiffer sheets to restore it to the original color…

I didn’t know why I felt the need to tell him all this, but once I started I just couldn’t put it back in, so of course, I kept going…

He’d have me over to cook dinner and the sink was piled high with old dishes. He’d leave the condoms on the floor by the bed for a few days, so that I wasn’t sure if they were from us or from someone on the side. Yea, I didn’t jibe with that. Yuuccck-o. But a little mess, now, that’s OK. My desk, if you saw it, you would knooooow I’m a creative type. Totally belies all the spreedsheets I make to organize my life and office. I go on clean-up sprees almost weekly – you know, attack some tiny corner of my life – but I have this chair…

There are moments in your life, decisions you make or things you say when you’re grateful you had too much to drink, because you can always blame the alcohol for whatever you said/did. I didn’t have that excuse.

So this chair, it’s piled high with clothes. It could probably be a pretty comfortable chair, if I could only find the seat. I’ve never sat on it. But my closet has. The clothes on this chair, they’re not my good clothes. So, like, that makes it okay. My good clothes go on a hanger or in a drawer at some point before I go to bed at night. These clothes on the chair are mostly lounge clothes. And they’re on the chair because I don’t wear them – they’re out of season. So yea, I say I don’t date messy guys because I guess, I’m messy and I can only imagine what kind of chaos would ensue if I ended up living with someone who had a chair or desk like mine.

I took a sip of my iced tea and finally shut up. That was a long-winded answer to a simple question: how do you feel about a guy with a messy apartment. I tried to make my eyes all big and doe-like, but much like “cute,” I’ve never done naïve convincingly. He laughed and proceeded to tell me about his collections of pop-culture memorabilia that had yet to make their way to a shelf or drawer.

I used to have a chair like that in my bedroom, too. He confessed.

Oh? Yea?

I got tired of seeing the mess every morning when I woke up. So I got rid of it.

That’s what I need to do. Just get rid of the “easy way out!” I thought he had just uncluttered my life with one swoop. My hero!

I moved the chair into my hallway. With the clothes still on it. They’re at least 3 seasons old by now…

GargantuanPavilionComposedofHundredsofChairs

Changing Decades: I’m OK with not Turning 29 Again

“Are you terrified of turning 30?” my lovable Gallery Coordinator asked me when she realized by birthday was a few days away.

“Terrified! Try ecstatic!” I replied with a little skip. “I mean, you only get to change decades once every 10 years…”

It’s my birthday. My 30th birthday. And while many of my friends have found it difficult, nay, painful to leave behind their 20s, I’m stoked.

So, this is 30...
So, this is 30…

Birthdays, are often a time of reflection, and as I look forward to the new decade ahead, I can’t help but notice how much things have changed…

When you’re turning 20, a night out with your best girl friend involved your highest, most uncomfortable heels, perfectly coiffed hair, high hemlines and low necklines, and at least one bar you can’t afford and two you can. Your important question of the night: Are we cabbing or taking the subway?

When you’re turning 30, a night out with your best girl friend, is most likely a night in, at her place… making soup. You know you’re not going anywhere where anyone is going to see you, so you don’t even bother with mascara. Your most important question of the night: Can you find your pasta maker, or should I bring mine?

When you’re turning 20, your social media feed is littered with your friends uploads from parties, semesters abroad, backpacking trips, weekend campus hops, house parties, and dive bars. You think: Oh, god! Everyone is having so much fun! I’m having fun. Wait. Let me take a selfie.

Let me take a selfei
Let me take a selfie

When you’re turning 30, your social media feed oscillates between wedding news/pictures and baby-bump shots. You think: Oh, God. That guy I had a crush on when I was 20 looks so hot in that gray suit… too bad he’s the groom. And gee whiz! Didn’t anyone read that “Your Body, Your Birth Control” pamphlet in the GP’s office? Seriously. I get it. You’re “preggers.” All your BFF’s are “preggers.” You’re all one, big, happy “preggers” family. But do I really have to watch this for 9 more months. Oh! Look! A “hide” feature on my timeline! Thanks, Facebook.

Hide.

When you’re turning 20, you celebrate your birthday by lining up as many (semi-illegal) shots are you can stomach, and you keep the party going as far past sun up as you can. Two days later, you’re still wearing the same dose of mascara, expect now it’s eyeliner, and you think the valet still has your car... where did you park your car???

When you’re turning 30, you decide you’ll invite your friends to brunch. Not since spring break 200X were you all able to day drink, and Brunch is classy day-drinking… because, you’re real adults now, and real adults do classy things, like brunch. Plus, all your married-with-children friends prefer brunch because they can get home in time to put Junior to bed and you can get home in time to binge-watch season 3 of “House of Cards” on Netflix… and still make your 10PM bedtime, without fear of a hangover the next morning.

When you’re turning 20, you order $5 margaritas at happy hour, when they don’t card, because that’s all you can afford.

When you’re turning 30, you’ve figured out how to get someone else to pay for your $15 top-shelf martini, with a twist.

When you’re turning 20, everyone asks what you’re going to do when you’re done with college/grad school/your internship. You have some kind of lofty, made-up answer because you only half know.

When you’re turning 30, you get to lead with a business card. You’ve had a promotion, or two, and while you still may not know where you’re going, at least you know where you are and where you’ve been. You’re still a little green, but you’ve earned some color round the edges. You were smart. Now you’re savvy.

When you’re turning 20, your heart gets broken by a “player” and your best friend says: don’t worry! You’ve got plenty of time to find someone else. Players gonna play.

When you’re turning 30, your heart get broken by a “player” and your best friend says: Players gonna play, but you’re getting too old for this. Have you ever thought of trying Match.com? I hear that’s where all the serious guys go.

When you’re turning 20, your idea of “dressing to seduce” involves showings as much skin as is legally permitted. Hemlines go up, necklines go down. Your crop-top barely covers your nipples and when you bend over the whole world can see the top of your very tiny panties.

When you’re turning 30, your idea of “dressing to seduce” is still “less is more,” except your less is, less skin, and your more is “more designer labels” and “more butt coverage.”

How Crop Tops look in different decades...
How Crop Tops look in different decades…

(Note: Summer 2015 is the summer of the crop top. Of the 6 shirts I brought with me to my birthday celebrations in Napa Valley, 4 are very tiny….)

Turning 30 can be scary, because it’s crossing a threshold. You have to leave behind excuses of youth and naivety and take responsibility. You’re accountable to something — to a boss, to a dog, to a spouse, to a family member. You’ve hit significant milestones and most of your first are behind you. It’s exciting because it’s the start of your prime.

29 was awesome — a memorable year with magazine covers and mega successes. An exclamation point to a well-enjoyed decade. Now, I get the fun of starting something new.

30 is the new 20, anyway.

Nuff said
Nuff said

You Can Have Spin Class, I’ll take the TRX: Collateral Damage of Dating at the Gym

In all my years in the weight room, I’ve only nearly killed somebody once with gym equipment. It was a kettle bell, and it wasn’t officially in use yet — so, I’m going to go ahead and say it was mostly his fault. I was taking the bell off the rack, and as I turned, nearly swung it into the chest of a tall, burly, inked, innocent bystander.

I took an ear bud out to apologize.

With a chest like that, how could I not say hello?

He seemed unfazed — didn’t he realize I had nearly crushed his rib cage? Then again, with those pectoral muscles, the kettle bell probably would have bounced off him and knocked my teeth out instead. That’s one way to have your insurance pay for your invisalign

“Well, now I have to introduce myself,” he said. “I’ve noticed you here before and meant to say hi. You do some pretty intense workouts.”

[Note: Best pick-up line to use on me, ever.]

We introduced ourselves more formally, and chatted a minute or two before we went on our merry ways.

“See you by the TRX tomorrow?” he said.

“Tomorrow’s spin day, but maybe Thursday.”

I had noticed him before too. With a red beard, a half-arm sleeve tattoo depicting a praying angel, and an upper body buff enough to compete with a young Governator, he was hard to miss at the gym — even at my gym, where you trip over a beard, ink, and strapping upper body with every step on your stairmaster.

Thursday rolled around, as did my bosus ball workout by the TRX frame. We made eye contact across the gym, and he swaggered over. He was at school down the block, working on his doctorate of physiotherapy. Being relatively fresh out of nearly a year of physio for a damaged ligament in my knee, I had reason enough to give him my number. A few days later we had plans to meet for drinks.

There’s a lot of statistics and articles about how doing Cross Fit as a singleton leads to more dates. That might be true, but none of these pieces warn you about one simple fact: if things don’t work out with the someone you met while working-out, someone will have to change their gym routine.

This didn’t occur to me till nearly a month in, when I realized there were exactly zero chemistry between us. I wasn’t sure how our mornings would look when chatting on the stretching mat was no longer a kind of foreplay. Would we avoid all eye contact? Wave awkwardly? Would he throw a medicine ball at my head?

“So, like, if things don’t work out, which one of us is going to switch to an after work workout? The only morning you can’t have is spin morning” I asked only half-jokingly, with a kiss as we watched the sunset over the Long Island Sound.

Romance isn’t always my strong point.

In my head, this is what I look like when I'm on the bosus ball...
In my head, this is what I look like when I’m on the bosus ball…

“I’ll just use the gym closer to where I live. I was only coming to this one to watch you on the bosus ball.”

When we broke up, he played the part of the gentleman and kept to his word. We haven’t crossed dumbells or medicine balls at the gym since.

Pre-nups, apparently, are not just for property and bank accounts — they should include all your investments, including the ones you make in yourself… like your fitness routine.