Crushed.

I’ve known him for years, he’s the flirty guy with the perfect teeth and a penchant for giving hugs. Big hugs. The pick-you-up, squeeze-you-tight, and swing-you-around type of hugs. The kind that are just a few moments short of being inappropriate when bestowed upon me, a woman who is nine years his senior and in a committed relationship.

So, I have to ask myself, why would a woman, nine years his elder and in a committed relationship, allow herself to be picked up and swung around by this other man? Why haven’t I told him to stop, if not after the first time, then why not the second? Or the twentieth? The answer is simple. It’s the reason most people do most everything they do. I keep letting him hug me because it feels good.

True, I have a crush on him, but who wouldn’t? It’s nothing more than that. I have a boyfriend; I certainly couldn’t date the hugger. Once, when no one else showed up to supper club, it was just the two of us for sushi, but that wasn’t a date. I did put on lipstick, but it wasn’t a date.

He hugs all of us, all of the women in supper club. But lately he’s been texting me, inviting me over to his apartment to watch football, or offering to buy me éclairs. Éclairs are absolutely my favorite pastry, he knows that. I don’t know how he first found out that I like them, but when he showed up at Carolyn’s picnic with a dozen of those Bavarian cream-filled, chocolate ganache-drizzled delights, I knew he brought them just for me. He insisted it was a coincidence, he claimed he only got them because the bakery was out of brownies, but I don’t believe it. He also said he didn’t know I was going to be at the picnic, but I don’t believe that either.

I’ve been having sex with the hugger. He doesn’t know about it. Whether I’m with my boyfriend or by myself, I think about the hugger every time I’m naked. He’s the one racing through my brain while my body soars and sighs. I don’t know when that started, but I can’t make it stop.

He texted me this morning and asked me to meet him at the bakery. I wanted to say yes, so I did. I lied to my boyfriend and told him I was meeting Carolyn, and then waited until I had pulled out of the driveway before I put on my lipstick.

When I walked into the bakery I was enveloped by the warm, musty smell of sugar. I wondered how long my coat would smell like that if I took a few steps backwards and walked out the door, if I just got in my car and drove home to my boyfriend.

The hugger was there, standing at the front of the line. As he turned and took a step toward me, I felt my heart skip and sputter, like a drop of water in hot oil. “Don’t!” I said. “You’ll lose your place in line.” He smiled and reached out to me.

“I can get back in line later,” he said, pulling me to his chest. “But what I want now is a hug.” It was a seven-second hug. I counted. Seven seconds is a wonderfully long time to be hugged, especially in a crowded bakery.

He bought a box of two éclairs and a bag of brownies, and I followed him outside to a picnic table. He sat down on the bench beside me. I ate my éclair while he told me about last week’s Cal State game, and predicted how they were going to win this afternoon. “Fourth quarter, fake punt and thirty yards to score.” He stood and extended his leg to kick at his outstretched hands. He looked strong and confident, like the MVP of a championship team. I didn’t mean to, but I sighed out loud.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Kick-off is in ten,” he said. “Gotta head out.”

“Aren’t you going to eat your éclair?” I asked. Beads of condensation had puddled on the chocolate, and the cream had oozed over the sides of the pastry onto the cardboard box.

“No, I got those for you,” he said. He shook the bag of brownies. “These are for me. Are you ready to go?”

I rose to my feet but then thumped back down on the wooden bench. “But, I thought we were hanging out,” I said. He cocked his head to the side, leaned over and smiled as he brushed his hand across my cheek. I closed my eyes and lifted my face up to his. “You have chocolate on your lip,” he said, then turned toward the parking lot. I swiped at my mouth with a napkin, smearing the chocolate and my lipstick with the paper, then stood and followed him. When we got to my car, he took me in his arms, picked me up and swung me around, just like he’d done dozens of times before. He didn’t say “This was fun,” or “Let’s do this again,” or “I’ll call you.”

I don’t know why I’m so spun up about this. It’s not like I ever had a real crush on him. That would be ridiculous. I am a grown woman in a committed relationship. The hugger and I are just two people who hug and happen to like baked goods. If I had a crush on him, replaying this afternoon over and over again in my head, like I am doing right now, would make me miserably unhappy, but I’m definitely not. I’ve hardly even noticed that he hasn’t emailed me. Since I don’t have a crush on him, I’m not mortified that I sent him a selfie of me eating the second éclair and he texted back a one syllable acknowledgement. And not having a crush on him means that I’m not at all hurt that my follow up text celebrating Cal State’s win got another one-word grunt. It’s okay. He’s probably busy. It doesn’t matter. I never really liked him in the first place. I’m telling you, seriously, it’s no big deal if he never hugs me again. It’s not like I’d be crushed, or anything like that.

1 Comment

Filed under autobigraphy, dating, food, humor, irony, memoir, relationships, sarcasm, single, Uncategorized, women

Smoked Him

for Everett

“You mean, on a date?” she asks.

“Well, if that’s what you want to call it,” he says. He kicks at the grass growing up through a crack in the sidewalk. “I was thinking I’d pick you up, we’d get some dinner, see a movie, and then I’d bring you home. Yeah, I suppose that is a date, if that’s what you want to call it.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she says.

“Why not?”

“Because of the smoking.” She leans back against the white picket fence that lines the sidewalk and exhales from of one side of her mouth to avoid clouding his eyes.

“But I don’t smoke,” he says. You’re the one who smokes.”

“Yup. That’s the problem. I’ve been through this. I know exactly how it’s going to go down.”

“What?”

“Okay, see, I’m going to end up liking you, probably a lot. Enough, I’m sure, to quit smoking for you, and that will ruin everything. Now, don’t get that look on your face and try to argue with me. I know for sure that I’m going to systematically ruin our relationship, in three succinct phases. Want me to explain?”

He watches her toss her cigarette to the ground a few inches from his foot. He worries briefly about fire when it lands on top of a wrinkled brown leaf and then relaxes as he watches her grind it into the concrete with the toe of her shoe. She picks up the crushed butt and puts it in her pocket.

“Sure,” he says. “Enlighten me.”

“Okay. Think of it as a bell curve. We start out on the far left, the place where things are new and fun. I fall for you, and this is Phase One:  Dedication. I convince myself that smoking is bad for me, and that you’re a really amazing guy and I’d like to get closer to you, and what the hell, I’ve quit before so this will be easy.

“We’ll get about three weeks of that before we plateau at the top of said bell curve. I call this Phase Two: Elation. We’re having a great time together, everything is sunshine and roses. I have a sense of accomplishment. I’m feeling good physically, I’ve conquered my demons, and I’m happy. The duration of this phase is unpredictable – in my experience it could be a month, maybe even a year, but what’s right over the hump is Phase Three: Resentment and Hatred. This is the phase where I realize that I’ve changed for you, that I’ve lost sight of my personal promise to never change for a man. This is when I remember that I deeply love smoking; that it’s not hurting anyone, and furthermore, I can do anything I damn well please so back off, mother fucker!

“And on that lovely sunlit evening you’ll find me here, leaning against this fence and waiting for you to come pick me up for a date. I’ll have a blazing cigarette clamped between my fingers and a look in my eye that says, “Go ahead, asshole, I dare you to say something.” And, that, my friend, is how it’s going to go down. The end.”

“You’ve got it all figured out, don’t you?” he asks.

“Well, yes,” she says, “Yes, I do.” She takes the butt out of her pocket and drags it along the fence in a long black smear.

“Well, then,” he says. He leans forward and kisses her. On the cheek. “As long as you’ve got it all figured out,” he says. His feet crunch in the fallen leaves as he walks down the sidewalk and away from her.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobigraphy, communication, conflict, dating, humor, irony, memoir, relationships, sarcasm, single, women

Cold Chicken, Hot Bun, Not What I Expected.

Why do we assume anything that includes the words “Hot Bun” is going to be about sex? At what point did radiant heat and flour/water/yeast become so licentious? I certainly don’t know, and I didn’t mean it that way.

Today’s lunch didn’t turn out as expected. I made a sandwich of cold chicken, served on a hot bun (stop giggling). Cold chicken is sublime, completely different from warm chicken, and a mini-baguette, hot and crisp, is much better than tepid white bread. Add mayonnaise and a leaf of romaine you’ve got the makings for a tasty and satisfying lunch. But it didn’t turn out that way. The crispy bread shattered upon contact, and the chicken fell out and hit my plate with a mildly wet smack. I got mayonnaise all over my face. It occurs to me that the last sentence, paired with ‘hot buns’, has the more lascivious of you rolling in the aisles. Notice that I used Licentious, and Lascivious to describe you people, as if SAT words could ameliorate your libidinous minds.

So, appearances were deceiving. I seem to have many stories about the deceit of appearances, and I doubt I’m the only one who has fallen deeply in love with someone who turned out to be as hollow as, well, that flaky bit of golden brown bread I tried to enjoy for lunch. I also seem to have a lot of stories about falling and failing in love – but hey, I’m an artiste, we’re known for the angst of our amour and besides, never since Romeo and Juliet has a tragic love story failed to entertain.

His name was Cameron. Six foot three in his bare feet, muscular, quiet in that stoic, brooding way that I can’t resist. There was a frayed denim jacket he wore everywhere. And, he drove a gold Trans Am, white firebird emblazoned across its hood. Everything about him was manly.

Now, you don’t know this, but I have sat here at my desk for an hour and have used over 700 words to explain, in a languorous and extremely boring way, how I finally ended up in that gold Trans Am with Cameron. But life is short; at least I’m sure your attention span is, so I’ll get to it. I strapped myself into that passenger seat, put my hands on the dashboard, and braced myself for the ride I’d been waiting for. I listened for those six cylinders to rev, for the squeal of rubber on pavement and the snug knock of the gearshift as Cameron slammed that thing into second for a mindboggling lurch of a jump start. It was not what I expected. Instead, Cameron carefully set his foot upon the clutch, gently turned the key, and cautiously looked both ways before he eased into the street. There was no ‘foot to the floor’ as I’d dreamed of; there was just a gingerly tap of the gas pedal. I’d thought we were going to race around the hairpin turns of the Asheville mountains, but no, Cameron chose to use the turn signal every time we went around a bend. My grandmother channels Mario Andretti compared to this guy. I have to say ‘guy’ now. I can’t say ‘man’. There was nothing manly about Cameron, he was about as lame as warm chicken on a cold bun.

wp-1462044417954.jpg        wp-1462040016168.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under autobigraphy, conflict, dating, food, humor, irony, memoir, relationships, sarcasm, single, the 80's, women

You’ll Do

Men pick women because they think they won’t change, but they do.
Women pick men because they hope that they’ll change, but they don’t.

wp-1460243538729.jpgHere is my lunch today. Looks good, yes? It should. I forced it in to submission and made it what I wanted it to be. I wanted mexcian for lunch. Specifically, tacos. But I didn’t have taco stuff, I had lentil dal and palak paneer leftovers.

So, I made do. Forced by an immediate need, I looked around and did the best I could with what I could get my hands on at the time.

I added Penzey’s Southwest seasoning to that lackluster stew-like filling. I put it in a taco shell. I topped it with cheese and nuked it until it was all melty. I had some cabbage, which is kind of like lettuce. I had plain yogurt, which is kind of like sour cream.

In the end, it tasted pretty good. Nothing you’d take home to meet your parents, but fit the bill.

Clearly, I thought about an ex-boyfriend while I made lunch today. So much potential. I got him to go to college. I bought him a suit and tie. I taught him how to play chess and balance a checking account. But, in the end, he was, although good hearted and doting, still a country bumpkin whose idea of breakfast was two king sized Reeses, a Mountain Dew Big Gulp, and a couple of Marlboro lights.

Today I know better than to date a man for his potential. Because, my friends, men never change. But in a pinch, they’ll do.

2 Comments

Filed under autobigraphy, dating, food, humor, irony, memoir, relationships, sarcasm, single, Uncategorized, women

Sass and Ass

Got your attention, didn’t I? Well, so did the name of the restaurant I visited last weekend, I mean, how can something called “Mulebone” not spark curiosity? Plesae know that I think it’s a horrible name for a restaurant, that’s my opinion.

All told, I had a great time at Mulebone. My friend Rebecca joined me, and there’s nothing better than catching up with a friend and criticizing a restaurant at the same time. Actually, Rebecca has never said anything bad about anything or anyone for as long as I have known her. She does laugh at my comments, though, so mark her down for collusion.

I take a sketchbook with me when I go to restaurants, and make pencil drawings of all the things I eat. Used to be I’d take a picture, but then everyone started taking pictures and the more upscale establishments (the ones I aspire to patronize) said that pictures weren’t allowed, so I started drawing. Not really “started” drawing, I do have an art degree. I never mention that when I’m drawing though, so as to protect the reputation of my alma mater. I don’t draw very well, you see.

Entering the restaurant, I was overwhelmed by the multicolored things to look at. They have all sorts of vintage items hanging from the walls and tossed over antique coat racks. I was mostly taken by the candles placed all around the foyer and the reception desk – real candles that cast a warm and inviting glow all around the room.  STOP. This post is beginning to sound woefully “Washingtonian.” A real Mulebone, if you know what I mean.

I’ll jazz it up with by telling you about my chat with the hostess. “Do you have a reservation?” she asked. “Yes, I do,” I said. “Jennifer Moore. I know, I know, you’ve probably heard of me.” I say this all the time. It is one of my favorite hobbies, outside of making diners nervous by sitting alone in a restaurant and drawing my food. I have a penchant for throwing hostesses off balance by suggesting I am some sort of celebrity. It delights me to see their faces go blank, that kind of non-committal blank one gets when the fear of not knowing something one should know sets in. I enjoy watching the proverbial wheels in their head whirl as they try to place me, as they begin to think maybe they have seen me on TV or have heard my name on NPR. They stammer a bit, struggling with their conscience as they try to decide if they want to shame themselves by admitting they don’t know me, or lay out a bald-faced lie by saying they do. It’s just then that I laugh, swat at their shoulder with a playful hand, and say “I’m just kidding, I’m nobody.” Does it make me mean that I consider this fun? I don’t think so. I think it’s what makes me fun. It certainly sets a mood. You might want to try it. In my experience, it guarantees the best table in the house and fawning waiters who are all too eager to bring you extras, like a whole bowlful of limes for your tonic water and a heaping plate of butter for your bread. Delightful.

Oh, that was the best part of the evening. The food sucked. The broccoli rabe was overcooked and tough, the shrimp on the grits was tough, and the smoked vanilla ice cream was tough to choke down. “Mulebone?” I should say so. Thank goodness for those free corn muffins.

wp-1458428949223.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under autobigraphy, essay, food, humor, irony, sarcasm, single, Uncategorized

I’m Ready for My Close Up, Mr. El Paso

It’s all about the lighting.

Good lighting can make even the intolerable desirable. Take my lunch, for instance. Leftover burrito* with carrots and chips- monochromatic, tepid and mushy, should be disgusting. But scroll below** to see what two-o’clock afternoon sun in the northern hemisphere can do. See how the salsa glistens? Delicious, right? Can’t wait to dig in.

Yes, I’m going to parallel this to dating. It’s what I do.

Take that mediocre guy from accounting. As he walks down the alley of cubicles and turns the corner toward reception, you see him eclipse the morning sun as it streams through the window. In his silhouette, you see no pocket protector, no black smear where the pocket protector failed. You don’t see the worn, shiny ass of his Dockers, nor the bit of jelly on the back of his left hand. No, what you see is the dark shape of a man, sun glistening around his tall, narrow form, and your mind wanders…

Then there is that lackluster friend of your sister’s. And here he is, at the family picnic once again, another valiant effort by your sister to orchestrate a Certs encounter between the two of you. And this time, it might just work. The sun is setting, the men are wrapping up their game of touch football, and as your man draws back his arm in what will surely be another botched pass, the setting sun breaks through the clouds, and he is haloed by brilliant rays of gold, azure, and ruby red. Your mind wanders…

And, let’s jump in the time machine for a bit, back to those days of our youth. Was it not lighting, pure and simple, that drove us to make our decisions vis a vis romance? Prom, with its strobe light flashing; roller rink and its laser show; the dusky bar illuminated by nothing more than the neon glow of the Budweiser and Jose Curevo signs. Your mind wanders more than it already was wandering, what with the beer and tequila and all. Yes, it was lighting that made the good look better and the better look great. Never underestimate the lighting.

‘* Yes, I eat leftover burritos every Saturday. I have dinner at Tacqueria Pablano in Arlington every Thursday night, and leftovers are pre-planned frugality.

‘**I put the pictures at the bottom so you can read the good stuff without having to scroll down down down past dozens of glamor shots of food before you get to anything interesting. I hate when they do that.

wp-1457289813922.jpg

2 Comments

Filed under autobigraphy, beauty, body image, conflict, essay, food, humor, irony, memoir, sarcasm, single, Uncategorized, women

but she has a great personality and she makes her own clothes

We can’t all be pretty. Some of us have to count on our abilities and that something ‘inner’ to draw people to us. You know, those qualities your great aunt would be sure to point out as she introduces you to the most handsome man at your cousin’s wake.

If they’ve told you beauty is fleeting, then you are not one of the beautiful ones. They’re right though, a quick search on Facebook reveals that the beauty of the high school quarterbacks and prom queens has, indeed, fleeted.

It turns out that all those dreadful clichés about “pretty being as pretty does” are right. Take last night’s meal, for example. Not much to look at, but if my great aunt described it, you’d invite yourself right over for dinner and volunteer to do the dishes.

Baked salmon with garlic, steamed broccoli with orange zest and pomegranate molasses, fresh gnocchi dripping in butter.  A salad of cool, crisp romaine and plump blackberries sprinkled with piquant blue cheese… Tasty, right?  And so very good for you. But, just like at your first boy/girl party in grade school, when that bottle spun and landed on Steve Keller and his acne-riddled nose, you’ll need to close your eyes before you go for it.

wp-1456878256952.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under autobigraphy, beauty, food, irony, memoir, sarcasm