There’s an undeniably perverse sex appeal to smoking that transcends rhyme or reason.
I know, I don’t like it either. It’s a bad penny that keeps showing up in your pocket, covered in grime, but somehow still works. I can’t help seeing it and thinking, “Yea, alright then. I’ll let it slide.” Somehow still ups the tally.
The guy from this week (yet to be named; I’m waiting to see if date two occurs) is a smoker. Said he’s quitting, but I suspect that’s a dating ploy. So many people list is as a dealbreaker, he’s probably adapted to social norms. I’d much rather people be unapologetic. The Mistake was a smoker, and didn’t claim otherwise; he simply made sure I had a full drink and was content before popping outside for a quick one. But unlike with him, this week I joined.
When a date smokes, I usually send them out on their own and amuse myself talking to the server/bartender/surrounding patrons. I’m perfectly comfortable taking care of myself, and I appreciate the added proof to the guy that I don’t need his constant presence to enjoy my night. I’m not clingy, and don’t require incessant attention. It’s monotonous.
Unless you smoke gross cigarettes. A coworker of mine smokes something nasty, and each time we talk after a break outside, I have to fight gagging. And these excursions occur every twenty minutes. I don’t know which poison of choice he carries, but the smell trails after him like a shadow of ash and odor. It’s awful.
Some don’t bother me; I think it’s the more natural tobacco. The scent triggers memories of college parties and nights with Big Bro’s friends in Philly or home. It’s basement shows and late-night rages, wandering South Street for pizza and following DJ sounds to a new dive. They’re good memories. And I smoke hookah anyway, so not all tobacco rubs me wrong. As a social smoker, I see the shared enjoyment of it. The communal moments circled around a shisha or ashtray. The particular intimacy of a shared cigarette, or leaning to accept someone’s offered flame. There is something illicit in such communion; it’s dark and alluring.
What does hit me wrong are the brands crafted solely for chain smokers. You can actually smell the addiction in the air. It’s all strained teeth, yellow skin, and cancer. It’s my aunt’s chemo, head scarves, and funeral. It’s the kids that barely survived our high school, and a few that didn’t. They smell of degenerates, death, and dumbasses. I might date smartasses, and a few jackasses– but I never date dumbasses. If a were ever out with a guy that smoked these, he would never reach date two. Kissing these smokers is like kissing an ashtray of disease. Just don’t do it. I don’t want all of my kisses to taste bad.
Thankfully, Mystery Man’s smoke doesn’t bother me. In fact, I switched it up and joined his breaks this week. He seemed a little more nervous than me, and relaxed more in his zone. Our bartender is an industry acquaintance, and was more than entertaining on the patio. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to ensure him that I don’t mind cigarettes, though I don’t personally partake. I mentioned hookah, and he perked up that he had never tried it but was curious. So I explained, and added that one of my goals during my time in the Middle East was to learn how to blow smoke rings. We compared notes on the easiest way to make them, and promised I’d show him a few great spots if he’d like. I think this is when the date turned to more comfortable level for us both. The chemistry ignited and caught fire.
So he’s an interesting one. He’s older (a topic to be discussed in my upcoming article, “What’s Your Number?”), taller (despite size not always mattering, I really do enjoy a 6″4 guy), and new to the area. I love new people. Showing them around, sharing the city as I know it… nothing beats it. Because they’re just as excited as I am; others who have lived here as long or longer than I are typically calmer or more jaded about our town. I prefer the excitement.
And he is subtly exciting. He’s old enough to know who he is, what he wants, but young enough to still want something new. He lives rather far out in suburbia, and deeply regrets it– something I find attractive. I only want to see people interested in being in the middle of it all. He is rather good at dropping the most interesting comments into conversation in the most quietly unassuming way. Instead of asking if I like Doctor Who, he mentions how our topic is like an episode. (And I fucking love Doctor Who– very geek chic.) While talking about how he didn’t start drinking until his later-20′s, he modestly credited it to having to be out on his own at age 17, being responsible with a full-time job instead of partying. In lieu of declaring the much-sought-after ability to keep rhythm and dance, he broke off mid-thought and said he loves the blues tune the band was playing, and the inspiration to dance was distracting him. He loves live music, but also likes to be able to hear the person he’s with? Alright, then– let’s move to the back bar, where it’s a little quieter. And hey, there’s even a real fire back there! (Both figuratively and literally.)
He’s comfortable with who he is. He admitted the first thing he drank was a period of Rumplemints (of which he had to get the bartender to hit me a shot, since my lack-of-girly-drinking had never had it). So maybe he actually is unapologetic in personality; he laughed enough at himself for it, and maintains it’s a delicious liquor. He mentions his experiences being single in DC in a relaxed way, and has no problem with questions. He asks some on his own, too. By the end of the night, he offered to drive me home. We parked outside my house to finish a conversation long enough to make me wonder if I should kiss him. But I refrained; I made the first move twice with him already. First, in contacting him; second, in asking him out. I know he’s older, but he needs to make the next move. I need him to make the next move.
When I mentioned earlier in the night that I usually go to Madam’s on Thursdays for salsa and karaoke, he looked thoughtful and said he could probably make it. So I texted him yesterday that my friends are definitely going; he has an early flight Friday, and said maybe. Today, I texted that I promise the roof patio will be open to smoke this time, and I promise I won’t make him do birthday cake shots with the bartender again. He wrote back laughing. I understand flights and late nights don’t mix, but I can’t help hanging on the suspense if he’ll put in the effort. (And therefore judging a possible lack of it if he doesn’t show.) He’s attractive, tall, older, interesting– and fuck me, he looked hot smoking those damned cigarettes.
I don’t know if his smoke is hiding mirrors or if this is a genuine and sustainable interest, but color me intrigued.
Overwhelmed with scheduling holiday parties, making sure you don’t miss out on cultural events, or tracking down those seasonal activities you always seem to miss? Or the worst: not taking advantage of those favorite seasonal beers/drinks finally back for winter? [Speaking of which, where did my whiskey-nog run off to....]
Yea, I have trouble with that, too. Not just the leaking-glass issue, but keeping the season straight. Nothing is more traumatic than finding out you RSVP’ed to five different parties on Saturday, but Friday is empty. OH, THE HORROR.
So I’ve added a new page to help. All my favorites are there: family favorites like the Zoo’s lights and the Nat’l Christmas tree at the W.H… to non-family-friendly classics like bartender competitions and late-night holiday shenanigans. My personal mission: as many beer/liquor sponsored holiday parties as possible. I have two this week alone. The page is constantly under construction as the days tick by, so keep in touch!
My next week:
Wednesday, Dec 12:
Wednesday is my only full night off this week– so I’m spending it with my favorites. Sally, Theon, and any other of the crew interested in throwing back serious holiday cheer will be gathering at one of our local spots. I’m campaigning hard for the first one:
DC Brau’s Holiday Party, via Meridian Pint. As the Pint says, “the Brau boys will be in-house spreading holiday cheer as only they can”, with 19 Brau drafts at happy hour prices all night. I’ve sent out the alerts, folks– I’ll be there in full force. Those barrel-aged beers are MINE. And I adore the bartenders; you know my weakness. The younger ones are cute and flirty, the older ones are badass, and they all know their shit. Sit and ask for a pull of their favorite, and you’ll never be disappointed.
Head to the Churchkey for the unveiling of L’Interimaire, the new Bluejacket/ Dogfish Head collaboration. No cover, pours start at 6pm, and individually priced. As Dogfish Head holds a special place in my heart, this event might bring me unique seasonal cheer. We’ll see where I decide.
Thursday, Dec 13:
Though I will likely go to Madam’s Organ for drunkeoke and my favorite salsa band, I’m insanely tempted to check out the Secret Stash Party at Scion. With over 50 beers not usually offered in DC, this is a brewnerd’s winter acid trip. Regardless of venue, I will likely be seeing a gentleman caller for our second date Thursday night. Mildly nervous. Details to follow.
Friday, Dec 14:
I’m stoked to finally check out an After Hours event at the Crime and Punishment Museum. This month, they celebrate the end of Prohibition with an all-out Roaring 20′s party, hosted by Canadian Club whisky. Throw on your pinstripes and flapper dresses, get to the speakeasy bar, and run free in the shut-down museum from 7-11pm. I’m so flustered, I don’t know which of my gangster getups to wear! Tickets may be purchased on the Museum site, or for half-off for one more day on Groupon– doesn’t matter for me, I’m on the guest list!
Team United Nations will merge again for a night of combined alliance for seasonal shenanigans.
Saturday, Dec 15th:
This coming weekend, my newest favorite neighborhood dive, The Pinch, is hosting a four-day Holiday Apocalypse Party. I’ve been a few times for food and late-night fun. The owner is a great guy, and passionate about quick, fantastic service, and the staff definitely deliver it. Plus, the downstairs stage throws me back to my years as a college live-band-party coordinator, and I mean that in the best way possible! Drinks are strong, beers are quite choice, and it’s all served with the neighborhood dive vibe we all love.
Friday the 14th is a JAILBREAK party, with four DJs bringing 70′s punk, glam, garage, and power pop on vinyl. Saturday night is an album release party for PRIESTS, with three additional performances. Sunday is Hangover Brunch Day, highly recommend the french toast and donuts; bottomless screwdrivers rock my world. The Apocalypse ends with a final show Monday, with DC’s the Sniff and a hometown throwback with Philly’s Cousin Brian. No Cover, any night. Killer atmosphere guaranteed. Wish Big Bro and Jules Junior were here to enjoy a joint DiscoCity-Philly bash.
ALCOHOLIC GOAL OF THE WEEK:
If I don’t track down and consumer the new Crown Royal Maple whisky, I will die. This is not a joke. I don’t joke about whisk[e]y/bourbon. Unless I tell you your drink doesn’t have any, because that’s a funny lie. If I made the drink, it’s in there. And the joke is, you’ll enjoy it.
So if you help me find this, I will buy you a drink (of your choice), on a night (possibly of your choice). I have been searching like a heartbroken, lost puppy every since my stepdad told me about this over Turkey Day. Message me here, or please tweet me, so I’ll receive news even faster. Thanks for keeping my holidaze cheery!
Tomorrow, I will be seeing my high school sweetheart for the first time in eight years.
It’s a crazy thought on so many levels. The fact I’m getting to see him; the fact we’ve kept in touch over the years– hell, the fact it’s been EIGHT YEARS. I’m not even close to old enough to have that long since I’ve seen someone significant, but there it is.
I should start at the beginning.
We were just kids when we met. When I started high school, I went on a volunteer trip with my church group. This one guy was a bit older, and I had a harmless schoolgirl crush on him. That is, until we talked a lot the last night of the trip and found out he liked me, too. Our group had stayed at the church we were rebuilding in the Blue Ridge mountains. We started talking about his training in the Army Reserve and plans to join after high school, and my particular hippie leanings as a pacifist. We wandered around the grounds and ended up in the field behind the church, under the night sky. Epic, adorable, romantic. Sparks flew. My teenage heart didn’t stand a chance.
And neither did our relationship. When my mom found out how old he was, she was [ok, fine, somewhat understandably] unsettled. I was a freshman, he was a senior. Three years is a pretty big difference, at that age. But I had always been an old soul, and a damn stubborn one at that. We fought over it. I had my first real taste of teenage rebellion, and relished the secret online contact and late-night phone calls that ended in us falling asleep. We talked constantly. I daydreamed in school. He wanted me to visit, meet his family, even go to Prom. I was smitten with the whole Romeo and Juliet vibe of it all. Not only was he a soon-to-be solider and I a card-carrying pacifist, but our families didn’t remotely approve.
This continued for months, until we had another church trip that winter. By then, the strain of distance and family disapproval had weighed on me. The adult supervisors were keen to the situation, and it soured the experience. It was bittersweet to see him, knowing I might not again. I crumbled under the pressure, and we agreed to get emotional distance to match the physical separation. I gave him a peace sign ring I always wore, as a joke to remember me by. I was utterly heartbroken.
In retrospect, I was a kid and bounced back just fine. We hadn’t been exclusive the entire time, so it wasn’t much of a social change for me, but the emotional impact felt real. The romance was over.
But the story didn’t end. We looked each other up over the years, and kept in contact pretty consistently. I found out that after we lost touch after the initial break, he did actually sign up with the Army. He was deployed to Iraq from ’05-’06, and was injured twice. The second injury was enough to have him sent home.
I heard through the grapevine that something had happened to him, and tracked him down via the wonderful interwebs. It had been two years since we’d talked. He said he had wanted to find me the second he got home from Iraq, but didn’t think I wanted to hear from him. Absurd. Of course I wanted to hear that he was alright. So we caught each other up, and went back into a sort of pen pal connection. We’d talk about our days, what kept us busy, who we were seeing, the heartaches, the happiness. Our favorite color. That awesome band we just saw live. The usual conversations of our age. Friendship.
There were sweeter moments, too. On nights when he couldn’t sleep after work, or I was up late writing a paper for college, we’d talk about that summer night under the stars, or the winter trip in the snow. It was fun to think back. When that movie, Dear John, came out about an Iraq War romance, we both watched it online together. [The movie is total crap, don't watch it; we ended up just laughing the whole time.] At some point over the years, he confessed how often he thought of me in Iraq. It comforted him to have someone to fight for, and it brightened his day to think of how I would have hated him holding a gun in the first place. Said he could hear me in his head sometimes, railing against the concept of war. Surrounded by bombs thundering and guns firing, I made him smile.
One night, he told me that he even brought the ring I had given him with to Iraq, and sometimes kept it on his dog tags for good luck. The second time he was injured, his Humvee was blown up. The explosion tore away both his tags and our ring. He told me how furious he was to have lost it. He always thought to come home safe, find me, and show me that it had been his good luck charm. I cried that it hadn’t been good enough to keep him safe. He replied that it did work; he was alive, wasn’t he?
Our relationship has represented a sort of romantic nostalgia over the years. It’s mellowed into a calm, warm place inside me. No matter how small other heartbreaks might tear me, those memories can always piece me back into a smile. He’s my chicken soup.
And now I get to see him, after all these years. He’s from Silver Spring, so he’s back this week for the holiday family visit, and we’re meeting up tomorrow. Jules Junior asked if I’m nervous– I can’t lie, butterflies have invaded my stomach. He hasn’t seen me since I was fifteen! Now that we’re adults, is this going to be weird? What the hell should I wear? And I’m concerned that he might want to initiate something! I don’t want to ruin what we have together by reigniting long-distance yearnings that spoil it. [And if Fairfax is too far away for me to date, South Carolina is practically the moon!] But it will be unreal to be in the same place just the same.
We’re going to meet on the steps of Natural History and kick around the museums and monuments. He hasn’t been down to DC proper in years, despite being a semi-local, so we’ll play at being tourists. Apparently we have a knack for being a picturesque, cliché duo. I’m not complaining. I’m pretty confident about our status in each other’s futures as the bright light/ chicken soup, and am bubbling with butterflies at the chance to add another day of memories to the story.
You know you’re just as excited for the sequel.
To be continued….
I’m not a patient person– what can I say, it isn’t one of my virtues. (The ‘good things come to those who wait’ cliche has always made me nervous.) So this tends to be quite the struggle in both my work and love lives. How long should you wait to call? How long is ‘too long’ when waiting hear back?
Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spent the past year waiting for my life to start. Waiting for the bus; waiting for an interview; waiting to hear from a guy. Just waiting for the water to boil, so I can get cooking! [You should see me on a slow business day at my restaurant, the minutes seem to crawl slowly over my skin until I'm bouncing off the walls from boredom.] Apparently professionalism and romance have a lot in common. In a lot of ways, it’s the pursuit of who you aspire to be, either as a career or relationship. They’re both presenting your better self in hopes of getting the future you want. Whether in the dating world or job market, the game’s the same: you’re looking to score. You want to win, and only your persistence will earn you results. But how long should you wait to hear back from your thank-you note after an interview? Do you text the day after a first date, or the night-of? [For that matter, should it be the guy or the girl who contacts first?] There’s a fine line between perseverance and nagging, and you don’t ever want to come out on the wrong side.
One of my home-state’s Senators is currently in the market for a new Staff Assistant. Not only did I vote and volunteer for his election in college, but he’s on Foreign Relations and anything international is kind of my thing. Thankfully, I know one of his DC staffers, who kindly pulled my resume and got me into the top group to interview. After being told the Assistant to the Chief of Staff would probably be my first interview, I was understandably stoked when I got the call last week to meet with the Chief himself. The interview went exceedingly well, and ended with him asking how my writing skills are, and to expect an exercise soon from his assistant to gauge my style. Two days passed, and I still hadn’t heard back from my message to his assistant. I know that scheudles on the Hill are far busier than my lowly life in hospitality, but he asked for my writing sample as soon as possible, and I didn’t want someone else’s tardiness to reflect on me. I emailed my friend again, communicating my concern, and eventually got a response from the Chief’s assistant over a week after my interview. I’m now waiting again, after sending in my writing response. I expect I’ll hear back by the end of the week (though I’m not really optimistic about my chances…), but it definitely struck me as a similar struggle to what everyone deals with in dating:
“How long is ‘too’ long a wait?”
However long it takes for that thought to enter your head– then it’s been too long. It really is that simple. If it takes you a week to think, “huh, wonder why I haven’t heard from them,” then it’s likely past its expiration date. If only three days have passed in what felt like agonizing radio silence, then you’ve reached your limit. Everyone’s lifestyle is different, so it’s unreasonable to tout some number-specific rule of a ‘Three-Day Deadline’ or some such nonsense. You never know how busy or slow someone else’s life is, just as they don’t know yours, so it’s unfair to judge. But it’s equally unfair to make yourself wait.
Everyone I know– myself included– has wrestled with this issue. As women, we wonder if we should: a) be assertive as a femme moderne and make first contact; or b) wait for him to man-up and show some damn initiative. Guy friends similarly deal with brooding over just how many days should they wait until calling for a second date, and does their decision make them seem desperate/ stand-offish/ God knows what else. A work friend insists that the guy should call first; she says that too many guys have gotten lazy these days, and need to put in some more effort woo a girl. I can’t say I disagree. From personal experience, I sometimes feel like I’m too assertive. My insecurity isn’t in wondering if the guy knows I’m interested, but that he knows JUST how interested I am. I suppose it’s possible to be too open a book, especially when it’s an audio-book on the loudspeakers. Once that precedent is set, a lot of guys will sit back and let the girl do the chasing. [For the record, I prefer two dominant people in a relationship; I want someone who can match me.] But if I’m genuinely interested in a guy and I haven’t heard back within a few days, then my emotions start to sour. What could have been a period of eager anticipation has now turned into feeling like I’ve been stood up, and that’s a damn ugly feeling.
So once you know it’s been too long, the next obstacle to deal with: what do you do now? Should you man- (or woman-) up and call? Continue to twiddle your thumbs and practice patience? Or should you just move on?
Depending on how many days it’s been, I wouldn’t just write someone off– like I said, you never know what’s going on in their lives. But don’t let yourself get strung along by a complete flake, either. I’m a firm believer in the whole “if someone wants to see you, they will” concept. If the connection you thought you had was genuinely mutual, they’ll find a way to get ahold of you (both communicably and physically, hey-yo!) There sure as hell are enough communication options these days, so there’s just no excuse for radio silence. Either you want to see someone, or you don’t– be honest about it. But stop checking your phone. If they want you, they’ll get their shit together enough to dial seven numbers. When/ if they do eventually call, its up to you on whether you think they’re worth another shot. But if you pass the point of wondering where that call is, then stop checking your phone for their name; you’ll only wear your battery [and nerves] out. Instead, find something/someone else to amuse you.
It’s a tough habit to break. Even as a self-proclaimed Impatient, I find myself sliding into excusing away my waiting. I haven’t heard from interviewers? Well, they’re busy. A crush I finally made some butterfly-inducing headway with still confusingly hasn’t called? Well… it bums me out, but I was away for the weekend and work schedules are a bitch. I did my best with the Hill job process, and all I really can do is wait on that one. With the guy? Well, I’m actually proud of myself for waiting on that one; I’ve fought against my childhood shyness in order to be assertive for so long, I’ve forgotten how to let a guy do the chasing for once. If this one doesn’t have the guts [or interest] to rise to the challenge, then it is certainly time to move on. At the moment, this radio silence has left me significantly Not Impressed.
In the end, a job and a guy really are the same thing: if they want me, they will make their interest known. But I’m sure as hell not going to wait around forlornly watching the phone for their calls, either! I’d much rather go play laser-tag, or discover a new favorite local band. If he remembers himself in time to manage transforming that sick forgotten-feeling in my stomach back to butterflies, I’m open to the possibility. In the meantime, it’s a lot better to make your own future rather than waiting for it to happen.
So who wants to go cheer the Phillies as they crush the Nats this weekend? I bet you a Dogfish Head that Werth-less drags DC down to his level and my baller Phighters come out triumphant! My Big Bro will be visiting for the game, and Jules Junior and I look forward to showing him around our town.
Though I prefer more than one a week, Big D and the Kids Table have the right idea:
I’m actually nervous for a date tonight. It’s unusual for me to get butterflies over something like this, since I err on the side of being a cool cucumber. It’s the whole guy’s friend thing, I was trained early on not to get all fluttery like a girl.
Now I don’t know what to do with myself.
It’s a second date. The first was enough of a surprise, since I thought I was meeting a potential awesome new friend, and was pretty swept off my feet with chemistry. I went in without any expectations, and was floored to the moon with how incredible it was.
Tonight is the exact opposite. It’s been a week of crazy adorable messages and contact, while waiting for our schedules to click again, and now there’s pressure. Should I wear the leggings and top I think look hip [and am totally comfy in], or should I be trying a little more to look nice? I’ve no clue. Normally, I don’t care.
Or I just need to get out of my head and chill the fuck out.
We’ll see. I still have high hopes, even though I can’t stop my leg from bouncing.
To be continued…
[Status report: just as amazing as the first date. Gotta love when your memory is just as great as reality.]