Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

July 19, 2007

The Call of the Captive Wild

Just so you don't start thinking, "Jeesh. She sure stresses a lot about this thing with Wine Guy. Maybe she should dump him.." I wanted to share this with you: Tonight I felt those butterflies twitter again. It felt great and it was so simple. Instead of trying to analyze what we are or what we aren't, I just let loose and enjoyed an evening with him.

Actually, it wasn't just any evening, but my absolute favorite activity in the entire world. A trip to the zoo. Not just any zoo...the San Diego Zoo. Not just any trip to the San Diego Zoo...the nighttime zoo. My first nighttime zoo of the summer. And we went with my friend Occam (an excellently chosen name and something we should all consider when overanalyzing our relationships), who gets just as excited about the animals as I do.

I'm surprised it took me so long to take Wine Guy to the zoo. I usually get that out of the way within the first three dates with a guy. Basically I turn into a ten year old at the zoo. I get very energetic, childlike, and feel the compulsive need to point out everything I see as if it's the most amazing thing in the world. And for that moment, it is. I guess when I'm at the zoo, it is me at my most "me-est" and I figure the guy should see it right from the get-go.

I must have not have felt the need to take Wine Guy there, probably since I started out as me from the very beginning of our relationship. Well, until recently anyway.

Let's just say he passed with flying colors and I felt free as a bird (just not one of the birds at the zoo). Not only that, he got pretty excited too and seemed to have a great time. I was a bit nervous when he first told me that zoos made him sad thinking about the animals being cooped up. I get that. But this place is different. At least it is for me. Without wanting to admit it, this trip to the zoo was extremely important in dictating how I would be approaching this relationship from here on out.

After we got home and it was just the two of us, I felt that little skip in my heart when I looked at him as we sipped wine on the patio. That romance was there again. And it wasn't just me. He seemed, well, softer. He even said he missed me and couldn't wait to spend the weekend with me. The kind of things he used to say. It felt nice. I'm sure he felt more at ease because for the first time in a few weeks, I was more at ease. He is highly intuitive and I'm sure he has been feeding off of my negative energy. Or maybe he read yesterday's blog entry.

Either way, I don't care. I feel good. And it didn't hurt that the meerkats were more adorable than ever, the koalas were awake and chomping away on their eucalyptus leaves and we got a terrific glimpse of the perpetually invisible clouded leopard. As Wine Guy stated when my nameless friend and I were raving how "Every trip to the zoo is completely different than the last," we sounded like we could be Zoo spokespeople. Even more so now that it got me back in sync with my boyfriend. Here's to animals in captivity!


July 18, 2007

The Role of a Lifetime

I have this tendency to be a terrific "buddy," or "pal," or sidekick (see The Buddy Comes Out to Play entry)...whatever you want to call it. I do it well. I admit that a lot of this is my own making. I've always found it much less taxing to be the smart-ass sidekick whose job is to chime in with something witty every once in a while. It's much easier than having to actually carry the movie if you know what I mean. Hell, I even got a trophy for "Best Girl Friend" in 8th grade because I was so good at playing the part.

In college, when I had the self confidence of a flea, I elevated this to an art form and managed to completely hide myself behind my leading-lady best friend. Of course, years after college it all came out that she was hiding behind her own self deceptions.

Today, after some therapy and just living life, I get it. I'm good enough to be the lead in my own movie. But I think when it comes to relationships I sometimes slip back into this supporting part. Especially when I get scared.

When I first started dating Wine Guy I was the absolute box office star of my own romantic comedy. I loved the attention, relished the compliments, and thrived off of the romance that I finally knew I deserved. This was a big change for me and it felt great.

But things calmed down a bit and the drama subsided, and I've been noticing lately that my leading lady is starting to get overshadowed by that old sidekick role of mine. I've been generally confused as to why this is happening, but today I think I came up with some sort of explanation. See if it flies with you.

Wine Guy has had several long term relationships and, from what I can tell, they all had a "best friend" quality to them. Don't get me wrong. I think that's terrific. Only Child and I had that same kind of relationship and that is why he and I can still be friends today (and why Wine Guy and Ex-Wine Gal are still good friends). But the thing is, Only Child and I became, in my opinion, too entrenched in our friendship. So much so that I think it cost us that invaluable spark that makes you think this relationship is special enough to be "The One."

In contrast, my relationship with Naval A-hole was all sparks and no friendship. So when he decided the sparks were dying down, he gave me the kind of goodbye you give someone you shared an elevator with for three floors. Not the painful goodbye you would endure for a dear friend.

So now I'm stuck in this potential no man's land. I'm glad Wine Guy and I are comfortable with each other and still manage to have that sexual spark that makes us officially "more than friends." But I'm realizing that this leaves me feeling like I'm treading dangerously close to "buddy" territory. Like the only difference between me and his other good girlfriends (of which he has many, all of whom I like) is that we happen to get naked with each other at the end of the night.

If we want to avoid this slippery slope, I think we need to discover that middle ground between what I had with Only Child (and what he had with Ex Wine-Gal) and the surreal, sparkly glow of what I had with Naval A-hole (without the A-holeness of course).

Here's the issue boiled down (and it should apply to everyone seeking "the One" in my opinion): How we treat each other and feel around each other needs to be exceptionally different than how we treat and feel with anyone else.

Of course, I have yet to articulate any of this Wine Guy. I probably should now that I'm able to actually understand what it is I'm feeling (unless perhaps he reads this himself, or one of his friends who reads this blog spills the beans). But I don't know if saying it will actually result in anything. Can you tell someone, "Hey, treat me exceptionally, would ya?!" Don't they have to kind of come up with that themselves?

I am trying to follow my mom's advice (she is a shrink after all), "Turn it around. Do for him what you want him to do for you." And I'm doing that as best I can. I just hope I can keep that smart-ass sidekick occupied with something else in the meantime.


July 16, 2007

Update: Boob Tube

I came home early from work today with food, fun. Wine Guy stopped by to bring me some ginger ale and while I sipped tentatively on the glass, he channel surfed. From Tour de France to some sexy female carpenter with a nail gun on HGTV, he was all over the place. Nonstop flipping for the entire 2 hours he was here. I wanted to follow Melissa's advice (see comments on earlier Boob Tube entry) and seize control of my remote, but being that I just puked my guts out, I thought rest was probably my first priority.

But I did tell him a bit about the thoughts I posted here earlier in the day (while I ate the lunch that would have me puking within 60 short minutes). I asked him, "Is it true that you are just hitting that button, not really looking for anything to actually watch?"
With a little smile on his face he replied, "Well, maybe if porn was on, then we'd stop flipping."

I guffawed. He is a kidder and enjoys trying to get me riled up (the consequence of being the youngest of four kids, it is VERY easy to get me riled up). But I persisted, "So really, all you are looking for is some version of porn?"

"Pretty much!"

That explains the half-naked chicks shooting AK-47s and just about everything else.

A few channel clicks later and he lands on some latter day version of Star Trek which inspires Wine Guy to clarify his earlier statement, "OK. Porn or Star Trek."

A few more clicks that lands us on some sexy animated women in tightly drawn clothing that shows off their unreal curves and overinflated cleavage. "Correction again," says Wine Guy. "Porn, Star Trek or animated porn."

Hmmm...I wonder in what order?


The Boob Tube

I've been told that, when it comes to relationships, there are several areas where I'm probably more "male" than "female." This usually applies to anything connected to the kitchen, or any homemaking activities at all actually. But what is probably my most marked male characteristic is my absolute need - almost a compulsion really - to know where the remote control is at all times while watching television.

I'm a lot better than I used to be. Before, I had to have it in my possession and be in full and total channel control. I was happiest with the remote resting gingerly on my stomach, my protective hand gently draped over it. I've aways likened the feeling of calm security I get from this to what I imagine men feel like when they absentmindedly shove their hand under their waistband and sort of cup their penises while lounging on the couch. Sort of like, "Hey, I know I don't need it right now, but at least I know where it is for when I do."

After a few boyfriends who felt equally strong about possession of the remote control, I learned to lower my demands. No longer do I absolutely have to have it in my possession, but I at least need to know where it is. When girlfriends come over, this usually allows me full control. I've never seen another woman come into someone else's home and commando the remote (except maybe me:-). But when a man walks through my threshold, forget about it. I've learned to just roll over and let them have it. Gotta pick your battles, right?

When it comes to how the remote is actually used...well, that's where I lean toward the female side, and proudly I might add. Actually, the more I think about it, the different genders seem to approach channel surfing the same way we search for a mate. Tell me if you agree.

When women channel surf, we are genuinely looking for something to actually (gasp) watch. Meaning, if we see something interesting, we will actually STOP on the channel and WATCH it. Shocker here...we are willing to pick something and COMMIT to it - at least until it disappoints us or says it needs to "take a break."

Men, on the other hand, generally have no intention of actually watching anything. Their purpose when they pick up the remote is simply the act of searching itself. It's almost as if they are trying to see how much variety they can stumble upon with each push of the button.

OK, it's not their fault if they are just not interested in the same content as me (I understand Antiques Roadshow and endless Law & Order reruns aren't for everyone), but it seems like even when they find something they like, they keep going. Are they hoping to find something better up the dial, even if it means missing out on the thing they like that's right in front of them? Is it because of the male short attention span? Or their genetic need to "spread their seed?" What is it? I'm willing to admit that I am reading way too much into this and would very much welcome any input from the male population out there.

If you recall from my previous entry, this was all sparked by Wine Guy's fascination with America's Funniest Home Videos. But what made me rush to my computer to put the question to the world was yesterday afternoon's channel surfing session. Of course, I forfeited my remote control rights and watched with incredulity as he surfed through the most inane crap I have ever seen. F-List celebrity dating shows, teen tramp reality programs, weather disasters (OK, this I like). But the kicker was some show on CMT (yes, Country Music Television) that showed redneck, bikini-clad women with crooked teeth shooting AK-47 rifles while the announcer critiqued their form and lack of protective eye and ear wear. Apparently, their obviously protruding nipples, clearly in danger of getting accidentally nicked by an errant shell, are not in violation of CMT's rigid safety standards.

I watched with disgusted horror while Wine Guy, an enlightened supposed feminist, was laughing his ass off. I understand staying on the show for a few seconds merely to take it in and get a giggle. But he kept it there for many, many minutes. Loving every second of it.

With this blog entry in mind, I took the opportunity to ask him WHY? His answer made me feel better -- briefly, "Because of the sheer absurdity of it."

True. It was absurd. I replied, "Thank God. As long as you aren't watching because you actually think these women shooting guns are sexy."

As I walked into the kitchen he stopped me in my tracks with this reply, "Well, they are kind of sexy too."

Ugh. If only I had an AK-47 handy.


July 10, 2007

One, Two, Three Months.....

The three month mark with Wine Guy looms…it arrives tomorrow in fact. You know, that magic number when your relationship either picks up steam or dies on the vine. Not quite sure why that is but I can tell you that it seems to be a universal phenomenon among the many fellow Troopers I’ve surveyed.

When I told my cousin about the recent downward spiral Wine Guy and I seemed to have hit (see previous entry) which, for the moment, has slowed to what I hope is a permanent stop, she said, “It sounds like you are just coming out of fantasy land and realizing that he is not perfect - nobody is. The next step is to decide if the things that are bugging you are ones you can live with or if they are so freakin’ annoying that you must dump him immediately.”

That’s putting it rather simplistically, but a good question nevertheless.

So far, I can live with whatever imperfections I may have discovered about Wine Guy. I have no idea whether or not he feels he can live with mine. I mean, sometimes I can barely live with mine, so I can’t imagine another guy willingly doing so. But I guess that’s the neurotic Jew in me….sadly, sometimes the old Woody Allen (?) saying “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member” does apply to me.

Perhaps I should be worrying less about potential loss of emotional interest and more about the deflation of sexual interest? Actually that part is going pretty well overall, but I will say that as regular life creeps in (money issues, family, jobs, etc), it gets a little bit harder to find the time. Once we first got physical, it seemed like our full time jobs were to be together and gaze into each other’s eyes between passionate kisses. We found time for nothing else. But eventually, the bills got paid late, the laundry piled up, the waistlines got bigger while the gym memberships were used less, and the list of unreturned phone calls grew longer. At some point we had to start re-engaging in our lives and, as a result, some of that intimacy had to be scaled down. But, all in all, it’s pretty darn good.

Except for last night when I was basically rejected for a re-run of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Before I get into this little story, let me state that I did get Wine Guy’s permission to share it here (this might be important to note for all of you participating in the Loverville-inspired debate about telling your dates about your blog).

OK, so last night we had a rare evening of just hanging out around my place with nothing to do except little chores. I cleaned (he loaned me his Dyson vacuum – holy crap is that thing amazing!) while he read my new Vanity Fair. When I was done, we lounged on the couch while I suffered through his unbelievably terrible channel surfing. (Thank God we rarely watch TV together because he is by far the worst channel surfer I’ve ever dated - another entry entirely, perhaps coming soon). Anyway, he lands on AFV (the new "hip" abbreviated title, like KFC) and, as anyone whose ever watched this show clearly knows, hilarity quickly ensues.

I love contradictions in people. I certainly possess many of them myself, and Wine Guy’s contradictions continue to surprise me. At first I thought he was Mr. Highbrow Culture – lover of fine wine and a gourmet cook, ultra-left politically, super feminist, etc. Then he morphed into Mr. New Age – former vegan (former being the important part for me, a meat eater), astrologer, wears Birkenstocks on occasion. Now I’m being introduced to Mr. Lowbrow Culture – loves AFV, eats Taco Bell regularly and burps far more –and far louder –than I would prefer. He really is ALL of these people rolled up into one. And that’s what makes him interesting.

So, last night, I got a little frisky after a few glasses of wine and started kissing him while wearing a little, red cotton nightie. The reaction I got was sort of a tentative hand on my butt and a weird, sideways kiss as he craned his neck to try to see over my shoulder. When a guy (my guy) passes up a nightie-clad frisky girl for some grainy home footage circa 1999 of a cat going ballistic on its owners…well, that could be a sign of a major problem, right?

To his credit, TV is a rare treat for Wine Guy (he does not have cable at home). And as a very recently reformed TV junkie, I can certainly relate a little to his behavior. So I let him have his few minutes of stupid laughs (OK, I laughed a little too, but only at animal footage – nothing that involves human injury is funny to me) before I began to mercilessly mock him for choosing terrible TV over me. He took it well and when I jokingly threatened to “out" him for it in my blog, he actually told me to go for it (God, I hope he wasn’t kidding!). So I let him off the hook and made sure he made up for it later (wink, wink).

I guess I’ve discovered one more layer to Wine Guy. Happy 3 month Anniversary to us!


July 5, 2007

Downward spiral

This has been a rough week for just about everyone I know. Anniversaries of dead parents (one of mine included), sucky jobs, breakups, disagreements, lame mid-week holidays, pointless feels like everyone is on edge. Wine Guy (who is into astrology if I must remind you), says it's because Mercury is in retrograde. Whatever. Something's going on, so if that's what you want to call it fine. I just call it a "funk."

All of this to lead into the touchy subject - Wine Guy and I have been butting heads, fighting, clashing. I'm not sure exactly what's going on or why. At first I thought it all started during a recent trip to Target when I said, "Why don't I pick up a few things to keep at you place?" We'd discussed it earlier (packing every other day is a pain in the butt), and it didn't seem a big deal at all. So I got some face wash, moisturizer, a hairbrush, blow dryer, and - what probably was the kiss of death - tampons.

Actually, I would welcome it if that was, indeed, the problem - something solid I can put my finger on. "This relationship is moving too fast. We need to slow down." This I can understand and respond to. But, unfortunately, it's just not that simple.

I've been dreading putting it here in this blog for two reasons:
1) He may read it, or at least his friends might read it
and, more importantly,
2) I don't actually understand what the actual problem is.

If I don't understand it, how can I possibly explain it to a bunch of strangers (and friends, moms, ex boyfriends, etc) on a blog? So for now I'll just say this, it all feels like a big, jumbled cacophony of noise in my head.

One second I'm thinking, "He's being a jerk."
Then it's, "Why am I being such a whiner?"
Followed by, "Would it kill him to say please?"
Then, "I don't even know why he likes me."

The thoughts are like machine gun pellets - unceasing, one after the other. And I think he's feeling the same.

We did have some relatively insightful conversations the other day about whatever is going on and, to his credit, he claims a good portion of the responsibility. My gut says, "Damn straight it's your fault!" But in truth, I am reluctant to hand the blame entirely over to him, as I'm sure I'm playing a part in all of this. I mean, I bring enough baggage into this relationship to fill the back of a Humvee, so I'm sure I've got something to do with it! The problem is, what exactly?

One thing is very clear, our mutual insecurities are the guiltiest of the parties. I think he's losing interest. But when we talk it out, he claims just the opposite, saying he's only acting this way because he's worried and scared that I'm losing interest in him. Oy vay. It's exhausting.

So it's now a war between our lame-ass insecurities, which are based on everything but fact. And I think his might just win. They seem stronger than mine and, frankly, I am surprised by that. The whole time we've been dating, I've been thinking, "Wine Guy is so terrific. I'm lucky he likes me." So when I discover that he is holding onto such a sophisticated arsenal of insecurity ("She's so terrific, why does she even like me? She probably will lose interest soon"), I'm a bit shell shocked. I didn't see this coming at all.

So here we are, smack dab in the middle of an downward spiral of insecure bullshit. It makes me want to wave a white flag ferociously and scream "STOP!!!! Let's go back to when we both felt terrific about each other and ourselves! This is a complete waste of time and energy!"

A few weeks ago, probably when this downward spiral first kicked into motion, we had a moment of clarity. As we stood in the parking lot about to get into our separate cars and go home feeling bad for equally wrong reasons, I wrapped my arms around him, looked him in the eye and said, "This is lame. I'm feeding off of you and you're feeding off of me and, frankly, nobody's eating. So let's just stop it, clear the slate and start again."

He agreed, we smiled and kissed, and each drove back to his house to spend the rest of the evening together. But that didn't seem to stick. Can we stop the spiral? God, I hope so. Because I agree with you guys, Wine Guys sounds - and is - terrific. If only our little insecure demons (he calls them trolls) would get the f*ck out of the way.


July 1, 2007

Meeting the Mom

Friday night was the first official outing with Wine Guy and my mom, or Mama Jack as I fondly call her. If you recall (see "The Yentas are Watching" entry if you missed it), they actually first met very early on in our dating because we happened to all have theater tickets on the same day. But, as I made clear to them both at the time, this was by no means the "official" parental introduction. So Friday was the first, you-me-and-my mom orchestrated event. The plan was to meet for dinner, then go to see a play at a local theater.

I couldn't tell who, if anyone, was more nervous - my mom, Wine Guy or me. As terrific and fun as Mama Jack is, I have learned since I've become a "grown up" that she is actually somewhat shy. And I'm realizing that Wine Guy is as well. Shyness is a trait I do not understand. I mean, I understand it intellectually, but I simply cannot grasp the way it must feel. It must be something far worse that I imagine if it is so overwhelming of a feeling that you can't simply decide to "get over it" when you need to.

I wish I could understand it. It would make my life a lot easier if I could fundamentally "get" why someone would be resistant to going somewhere with a group of people they don't really know. Instead, when I sense this kind of resistance from Wine Guy, my mom, or other shy people, I tend to think it must be because of some underlying reason that, of course, has to do with me (self-absorbed, anyone?). Or something else more sinister than shyness that keeps them from enthusiastically saying, "Sure! That sounds fun!"

Anyway, this may seem like a digression, but as I typed it I realized that it actually just helped me answer my earlier question. Clearly, I was the most nervous of the three of us. That must be why I was so surprised during the car ride and the first half of dinner when both of them seemed so, well, normal. The conversation flowed, jokes were made, everyone seemed generally at ease. I actually didn't even notice how normal it seemed until Wine Guy got up to use the bathroom and my mom turned to me with an excited smile and said. "He is SO nice! What a genuine person...."

That reaction struck me..."Oh yeah. They just met, didn't they?" I then began to realize just how relaxed my mom was during dinner. No nervous smile and stiff nodding of head at whatever he said, no awkward, "So, where did you grow up?" kind of questions. It felt pretty good to think that the two most important people in my life might not just tolerate, but actually like each other.

Unfortunately, Wine Guy has speedy urination habits because that was pretty much all we had a chance to say before he came back. The play ("Arcadia" by Tom Stoppard) was intense and brilliant, and that pretty much occupied the rest of the conversationAnother terrific sign. How many men (in San Diego no less, a bit of an intellectual wasteland) would not just appreciate this kind of play but genuinely LOVE it, stating as the lights came up for the first intermission, "This is the most amazing play I've ever seen." It had a little bit of everything - science, philosophy, art, physics, spirituality, love and - as Wine Guy humorously pointed out - landscape architecture. I knew my mom was sold on him when they started gabbing about the intricacies of the play while everyone else in the theater got up to relieve their bladders.

This has been a really busy weekend (I got Wine Guy to play volleyball and tennis - both of which he picked up very quickly and, even better, seemed to enjoy and want to do more of!), so my mom and I still haven't had a chance to debrief on the mother-daughter-Wine Guy date. In fact, I think I'll call her right after I hit "publish" and get her full review. Especially before she reads this so I don't get a biased response. Hopefully I'm right. Otherwise, you will certainly read a correction here shortly. Though I can't imagine that she would not have adored him.

Stay tuned for more details about Wine Guy, a few of my war buddies' recent injuries on the dating battlefield (some more serious than others), and even a flashback to my engagement to Only Child that never was (but is worth a retelling)!

Happy 4th of July!