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

September 30, 2007

Overheard in Bed #4

Sunday morning, around 9am

"Why are there so many songs about rainbows,
and what's on the uuuther siiiide-"

[interrupting off key singing] "Um. You know, there aren't really that many songs about rainbows. Kermit the Frog was a liar."

[Slightly offended] "No he wasn't. You know, I had crush on Kermit when I was little."

"Well, then name me another song about rainbows."

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow." [Pause, clearly running out of other songs about rainbows]

"Ok, that's one other song about rainbows. See, Kermit was a liar."

September 26, 2007

Outgrowing the Jerk

Whenever a guy complains to me, "Why do women always go for the jerks?" I usually respond with sympathy followed by the question, "How old are the girls you are dating?"

I say this because it is a pretty well established phenomenon that a large percentage of girls in their 20s (I say"girls" and not "women" here for a reason) do find themselves strongly and often inexplicably attracted to the biggest asshole in the room.

I should know. I was definitely one of them.

I have a lot of "issues" that I'm willing to cop to. Fear of abandonment (cause: father died at an early age), distrust in men (cause: cold-hearted, still unexplained dumping by Naval A-hole, "fake engagement" to Only Child), and an often juvenile sense of humor (cause: you got me on this one). Not included among my "issues" however, is my now-reformed attraction to jerks. In fact, many of my most well-adjusted female friends went through it too. I just call it immaturity.

A brief history. In high school I loved the beer can crushing, high-fiving football players (much to Wine Guy's disgust) who seemed far more interested in football than me. In college I moved away from the meatheads and towards the potheads. These relationships consisted of sagging couches, bad TV, the munchies, and awkward kissing interrupted by laughter. These guys were basically like brick walls in the relationship. Whatever I threw at them just bounced right off and back at me.

After college, the pickings were slimmer because I actually had to do something other than "hang out" to find a guy to date. At this point I was in my mid 20's and living in Los Angeles. I'd managed to date one guy who was nice enough, but so obviously not ready for a girlfriend it was more of an exercise than a true attempt on my part to have any sort of meaningful relationship.

Then came the jerk that ended it all -Trust Fund Boy.

I met TFB at the first party in the Hollywood Hills I ever attended (and the last). I was feeling as uncomfortable in the "Swingers" wannabe crowd as I expected so I started exploring the old home. I ultimately found my way out onto a bizarre porch that was essentially the roof. I sat there smoking a cigarette (so I looked like I had a reason to be there) with my feet dangling off the edge. The next thing I knew, I was talking to a confident (borderline cocky), attractive guy who actually laughed at my jokes. (Trust me, guys in LA do not generally want their women to be funny, so this was kind of a stand out moment for me).

Turns out, Trust Fund Boy was actually not an actor. He was, however, unemployed. He told me he was a "student," which I later found out meant he didn't do anything but live in a big house in a bad but "cool" neighborhood, go surfing all day, and snort coke with his party-hopping friends. In between all of this, he studied a little bit for his stock broker's license to keep his dad off his back.

He was from old-money, horse farm Virginia and he had three names with a roman numeral tacked on at the end. I had never met a guy like this and the fact that he looked like Ben Affleck (an obsession I have since long gotten over - thank you Jake Gyllenhaal) didn't hurt either.

But what interested me the most was his money. Not that he was rich and would buy me things (he didn't). Quite the opposite actually. It was more that I was fascinated by what the hell life must be like for someone like that. I had to work all through college and since graduation had basically been one step ahead of the bill collectors. The mini-sociologist in me wanted to know more about this world. Not necessarily to be a part of it, but to understand it.

So I dated him. I met his equally unemployed and filthy rich friends with stunning homes in the Hills and Malibu. They took endless vacations around the world and housesat for each other. They dined in chic restaurants without signs and called each other "darling." I even met his textbook snob of an older sister who cornered me at the dinner table and said so all could hear, "Sooo....[Trust Fund Boy] tells me you're Jewish?" As if that was the most interesting little tidbit she had ever heard and wanted to see if it could possibly be true.

I had no business - and no real desire - to actually be in this "relationship," but I let it go on for several weeks because it was all so fascinating and, I admit, a little dangerous and exciting to the 24 year old me.

The fundamental problem was that I had absolutely no respect for the life he chose. I was merely fascinated by it. And now that I think about it, he probably felt the same way about me. I'm sure he had never dated a semi-neurotic Jewish girl who had to work five days a week. He probably found it amusing.

It finally started to dissolve when he invited me over - again- to his friend's place in the Hills where he was housesitting while they vacationed in the Hamptons. I blurted out, "They're still on vacation!?" They'd been gone two weeks already. "Don't these people work? Don't they have jobs?!"

This was the first time I heard him get defensive. I'd made snide comments like this before, but it was under the guise of a joke. This time I wasn't kidding and he could tell.

I went over there anyway. I wish I hadn't. We swam in the pool and I stayed the night. But in the middle of the night I jolted awake and sat up in a sheer panic. Mostly, I was full of self-disgust. I knew I didn't like this guy. In fact, I had not an ounce of respect for him. Yet there I was, next to him in bed. He didn't work. He was spoiled. He snorted coke with his friends when I wasn't looking (I had just found this out - yuck). What the hell was I doing there?

I jumped out of bed, got dressed and headed for the door, fumbling with the lock in the darkened room.

He woke up. "What's wrong? Where are you going?"

"I need to leave. Goodbye."

And I was gone.

He tried to call me over the next few days but I wouldn't take his call. After another pleading message, I finally gave in and picked up the phone (I couldn't believe he was willing to plead). I felt bad. "Look, I just don't think we're a match. I'm sorry."

"But why?" he asked.

"I just can't do it. It's, uh, the drugs." Who's going to argue with that one? I said I had to go and I hung up.

It wasn't his fault. He hadn't actually done anything wrong. He is who he is. The person I was disgusted with was me. Apparently, while I was sleeping next to Trust Fund Boy in that big, fancy house in the Hills, I outgrew the jerk phase.

Only Child was the next guy I dated and, although our relationship ended up being a bit of a six year fiasco, he was and still is a "Nice Guy." Never again did I knowingly pick a jerk. (Yes, one picked me, but he hid it really well and everyone agrees there was no way I could have seen that one coming).

So if you're one of those 20 something girls with a Jerk fetish, don't beat yourself up too badly. Hopefully you'll grow out of it too. I just strongly suggest you do it before all the Nice Guys get married off. Trust me, they go fast.

Dismissed.

Overheard in Bed #3

Sometime last weekend, night.

"Look at these weird bruises I have on my arm."
[shows bruises]
"Oh my goodness, where did you get those?"
"I don't know."
[thoughtful pause]
"Maybe you're being raped by the devil in your sleep?"
[astonished pause]
"Oh, because that's the most logical answer!"

September 24, 2007

Motorcycle Men

If you recall, I have a few deal breakers when it comes to a guy I'll date. A few are unbreakable, but many act more as red flags cautioning me to "be careful, don't get too invested, this guy probably isn't the one."

One of the red flags I take very seriously is motorcycle ownership.

Many of you may disagree, but if there is a motorcycle in the guy's life, you can pretty much bet I won't be. I have many reasons for this prejudice, some of which I am willing to admit are based purely on emotion and maybe a little unfair bias. But even if you were able to talk me out of those, you will never be able to erase the simple fact that if you ride a motorcycle on a semi-regular basis, you WILL get in an accident and likely be injured or killed. Period.

I can hear some of you now, "But my boyfriend is really cautious on the bike. And he wears all the protective gear when he rides."

I don't care. I assume that anyone I date would not be one of those a-holes motorcyclists who cuts people off, swerves in and out of lanes and pops wheelies around town. But no matter how cautious you are, there is nothing you can do about everyone else on the road. And the fact is, most of us don't see you motorcyclists until it's way too late.

Or maybe you’re thinking, “Clearly this girl has never experienced the thrill, the freedom of riding a motorcycle on the open road.”

Wrong again. I have experienced it and I totally agree. It feels amazing. The wind in your hair, the scenery whizzing by without any glass and steel getting in the way between you and it. I get the appeal. But it’s still not worth it.

I know what I can and can't handle, and the early death and /or maiming of someone I love (or might love in the future) is definitely something I can't handle (or I at least want to try to avoid having to handle it).

I am not alone in this.

My friend Gouda has been dating Baby Face for the last two or three months and things has been going almost too well. He's sweet, considerate, fun, open, attractive, interesting and a good listener. She's been somewhat slow in getting overly excited about him, I suspect because, like the rest of us, she's probably waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Well, something did drop - a motorcycle.

When she broke the news to me, I could tell she was reluctant to share it.

She began by telling me how poorly she slept the night before because Baby Face's Blackberry kept beeping all night (of course he slept like a baby through it, while she woke up with every beep). Then his phone rang very early with a call that his "bike came in" and he rushed out the door. Gouda continued on with whatever she was saying after that but I was stuck on the earlier sentence. I interrupted her,
"Wait, what? What bike?"

Baby Face is an avid runner so I was thinking it was a triathlon bike or something.

"Oh," Gouda replied. "His motorcycle came in this morning. He's been waiting for it to get delivered and he had to pick it up right away. He was really excited."

She paused, waiting for my reply. At this point in our friendship, I don't think the subject of motorcycle revulsion had come up so she probably wasn't sure how I was going to respond to this news.

I said, "Oh my God. I'm so sorry." She might as well have told me that she found out he moving away to Sweden or something.

She perked up realizing we were on the same page. "I know! I can't believe it! I hate motorcycles. And this one is a total crotch rocket too!"

It was getting worse. A retro bike for occasional back country road cruising might be something I could accept if I really liked the guy. But a crotch rocket? Hell no! Plus, it just didn't seem to fit the sweet natured guy I had met the week earlier.

"What is wrong with him?" I asked. "Why the hell would he want such a thing?!"

Gouda was equally perplexed. She made sure to communicate to him just how unimpressed she was with the idea. A few days earlier when Baby Face was waiting eagerly for his new purchase, they were driving around town and pulled up next to a couple on a bike, the female seated behind her beau, her arms wrapped tightly around his waist as they sped off through the intersection.

Gouda pointed to the couple, "You see that?"

"Yeah," Baby Face replied.

"That will never be us."

At least she wasn't mincing words.

She then told me how he showed up at her place later that day with his new ride, excited as a little boy. To make matters worse, he was decked from head to toe in the street pads and leather get-up I thought were reserved only for guys with mullets.

All I could muster up was a redundant, "Oh, [Gouda], I'm so sorry."

"Thanks."

There's not much else to say really.

But Baby Face does seem like a pretty quality guy. So Gouda, God bless her, is trying to see the silver lining in the situation.

"Well, if things do work out with us, I guess it's better that he gets this out of his system now. I'm sorry, but I come from a long line of Jewish mothers and there's just no way I can marry a guy who's going to ride around on one of those."

I think that sounds like a fair compromise. When he's settled down and married, he'll have something to yearn for from his "single days" and they'll have something to bicker about for many years to come, right?

Dismissed.

September 21, 2007

Overheard in Bed #2

Thursday, September 20
Approx. 10:20pm

"When you come over, it's kind of like a special occasion. That makes you my special occasion boy. [pause] You're my S.O.B!"

September 19, 2007

Alone Time

It's kind of funny how an evening alone, doing laundry, tidying up, and channel surfing used to make me feel like the loneliest, saddest person on the planet. Now it feels like heaven.

No offense to Wine Guy or couplehood in general, but every well-adjusted human being needs quality alone time.

I say "well-adjusted" because back when I was somewhat less than well-adjusted, the thought of any time alone terrified me. I was perfectly content passing all of my free time with roommates, friends and whatever boyfriend I happened to have at the time. As long as I wasn't left alone with me and my thoughts.

But now....well, I am perfectly capable of entertaining myself for an entire evening. Even a weekend or more.

We've all heard the cliche "You have to love yourself before anyone else can really love you." I'll buy that. But to me, loving yourself means more than just having high self-esteem. It also means giving yourself the same quality time you'd give a boyfriend or spouse. Time to do whatever it is that keeps you in touch with who you are. Whether it's an art project, writing in your blog, or just folding your damn laundry.

I think Wine Guy has been mistaking my need for "alone time" as a need for "time away from him time." We've had a few exchanges (yes, sometimes even fights) where he felt rejected or unimportant and I felt resentful for him feeling that way.

I think (hope) we have managed to communicate our way out of this potentially deadly black hole. Not only does he generally understand where I'm coming from now, but I think he's finally starting to get that my alone time gives him some freedom too. And it doesn't offend me if he thinks of it that way.

Tonight, I had a dream date with myself. After work, I met my friend Gouda for a competitive tennis match. We both became pretty flustered when we walked onto the public courts to see four short-clad, hunky firefighters playing a spirited doubles game on the court next to us. Let's just say we both LOVE our fireman fantasies and we couldn't focus on the game much until their walkie talkies went off and they scurried off the court to jump in their nearby truck and race off, sirens blaring.

Then I headed home tired and sweaty to enjoy what used to be my ritual single-girl dinner of a hearty bowl of Progresso Chicken Dumpling Soup. True, not quite as savory as a gourmet meal cooked with love by Wine Guy, but remember, this is my alone time. Unwashed bowl in sink, I then did a couple loads of laundry, watched my Daily Show re-run, pet the cat and finally, wrote this.

Did Wine Guy sit home and sulk? Hell no. He went to his regular Wednesday night Wine Tasting without me (sorry, but I like tennis more than wine). He stayed later than normal to catch up with old friends he hasn't seen in a long time (probably because he's been spending too much time with me).

And you know what came out of this night apart? We chatted on the phone, happily catching each other up on our evenings, then eagerly made plans for tomorrow night - together. The call ended with mutual "I miss you"s and sweet good nights.

See? Alone time feeds the together time too.

Well, good night to you as well. I've got to finish my perfect solo date off with a good book in bed and drifting off to sleep with the bedside lamp on. Damn. I'm a hot date.

Dismissed.

September 18, 2007

Overheard in Bed #1

Welcome to the first "Overheard in Bed" posting. This new sub-category on Dating is Warfare is intended as a repository for direct quotes uttered while just waking up or drifting off to sleep in bed with a partner.

I don't know about you, but some of the best one-liners I've ever heard have been during this marginal time period when your guard is down and the rest of the world seems really far away. For me, it's usually about uninhibited silliness. Running with a stupid joke far longer than you ever would or could out in the vertical, everyday world. Basically, it's like 6th grade -- but without the social awkwardness (and the clothing).

The more "Overheard in Bed" contributions the better, so chime in if you've got 'em!

A few clarifications first:
1) This is intended only for conversational events that take place in bed. It does not cover any -um- activities that may (or may not) take place on the mattress . So if you're looking for those kind of quotes, there are plenty of other places for that on the web. I won't be offended if you move on.
2) For those concerned with privacy rights, I have received Wine Guy's permission to share all Overheard in Bed quotes. However, I will avoid attributing the quotes - not that I imagine it will be all that hard to figure out who said what!
3) Yes, I "borrowed" this idea from my new favorite site Overheard in New York.

OK, here we go.

Overheard in Bed #1
"Maybe that's why you annoy me so much! Because you remind me of me -- and I annoy me so much!"

September 16, 2007

Doggie Addendum

Right after I hit "publish" on my last post and went back to showering Toby the blind dog with love, I realized something. I always try to be fair minded and see both sides of an issue, especially when I'm putting it out here on the internet for everyone to read. But I missed something on the last one.

Even before I took on this dog sitting gig, I gush over this dog. Whenever he comes over with his mom Mendoza, I'm focused on him. But so is his mom, so I'm sure Wine Guy doesn't notice as much. But with mommy Mendoza out of the picture this weekend, it's just me oohing and ahhing over the cutest dog in the world all the time. I'm sure - if I'm really honest with myself about it - Wine Guy's feeling a little ignored. What's to say he's not also thinking, "Oh my God? Is this how it's going to be if we have kids?"

My mom, as you know, is a therapist. And she has told me many times that one of the biggest causes she sees for marriages falling is apart is that the women forget all about their husbands once they have a kid. It's all about the baby, baby, baby. I always swore I would never be that kind of wife and mother.

So I guess, in all fairness, he has a reason to want to push my buttons or get a rise out of me (as one of you readers so wisely observed). Duly noted.

Well, better go. Wine Guy is waiting for me to come over for a trip to the park. Yes, I'm bringing Toby but I'll make sure to shower most of my affections on the human instead. Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Dismissed.

p.s. Yes, the dog is very fuzzy and he does get quite warm on those warm southern California days. But his mom shaves him down a few times each summer, which only makes him more adorable (but in a pathetically cute sort of way).

September 14, 2007

Doggie Disciplinarian

Is it bad that I'll take the side of a blind dog over my boyfriend? Well, if it is...so be it.

I'm dog sitting my friend Mendoza's dog Toby this weekend and, well, let's just say I'm in doggie heaven.

Yes, this picture is him - and he really is THAT damn cute.

I have desperately wanted a dog for years and the desire only grows more intense as my biological clock ticks louder. Unfortunately, my asshole landlord does not allow dogs and I don't feel like moving (nor do I want to get a dog just so he can sit home alone all day torturing my cat or vice versa).

Luckily, Mendoza allows me to pour affection on Toby whenever I want. She is a spectacular dog owner. Not only did she willingly adopt a "special needs" (blind) dog, but she has given him a life any fully sighted dog - or person- would envy. Toby is one happy boy.

I hang out with Mendoza a lot and Toby is always invited over right along with her. He's become part of my extended single girl family. So when Mendoza mentioned she was going to Portland for a long weekend to visit some friends, I shouted, "I'll take Toby!" before she even had the chance to ask me.

I brought the dog and all his accessories over to my place last night. So far, we've already had three walks and two successful poops. Life is good.

I was eager to come home from work today to be greeted by a happy, panting pup. No offense to my beloved cat, but a squeaky meow and a homicidal dart under my tired feet does not quite say "I love you" like a jumping, happy doggie does.

However, my homecoming was hampered a bit. I was on the phone with Wine Guy as I came through the front door. He was in the grocery store parking lot about to buy food for tonight's dinner. He needed me to go online and read him the ingredients from an online recipe since he (yet again) left it on his desk at work. I knew Toby had to go for a tinkle but I also wanted to help Wine Guy since he was volunteering to do the shopping (he knows how much I detest this task). My plan was to get on-line and read him the ingredients quickly so I could get Toby out for his walk ASAP.

My crappy internet connection had other plans for me. While that annoying little circle kept spinning and spinning, Toby began barking - neither of them showing any sign of stopping. I've got a frustrated chef waiting on the line, a determined barking blind dog standing by the door, and a useless computer whirring on my desk. I'm stressing. I had to make a call. "Look, I've got to take Toby out. I'll call you back in a few minutes."

Wine Guy didn't sound happy, "Well, it might be too late. I'll just try to remember the recipe the best I can."

Whatever. No time to argue. This dog had to pee. I said bye and hung up quickly.

Once on his leash and bumping his way up the unfamiliar steps, Toby's barking ceased and he was back to his cheerful self, happily squirting away on every bush and post he inadvertently bumped in to.

Five minutes later, I'm back in my kitchen and on the phone with Wine Guy who is, of course, still shopping. While Toby munches on his dinner, I tell Wine Guy I'm sorry for having to basically hang up on him. "It's just that the barking gets me so anxious and he really had to go."

Wine Guy accepts my apology but quickly ruins it when he says, "Well, Toby is just going to have to learn how to delay self gratification."

What?! I know Wine Guy is not a dog person necessarily (something I hope he gets over), but blaming poor Toby for saying "Hey! Lady! I've gotta pee! Let's go!" is just insane.

I respond sternly, "He wasn't asking to be gratified. He had to pee for God's sake!"

Wine Guy counters, "Relieving his bladder is a form of gratification. He needs to learn to hold it."

"Uh...what do you think he's been doing all day?! Holding it!"

Wine Guy pauses. Then continues with a smile in his voice, "Well, I can see whose side you're going to take!"

Damn straight. It's the dog all the way. Toby could very well have said (if he could talk), "Screw her. I'm pissing right here on her kitchen cabinets." But he didn't because he's a good boy.

Now, if you are a guy reading this, you're probably not thinking too much of this story. Big deal, right?

But you ladies, tell me I'm not alone on this one. All I could think the moment he gave me the whole "delay gratification" line was: Is this the kind of father Wine Guy would be?

I know, sounds ridiculous, but I think that is a pretty typical response for a woman who keenly aware that she is in the midst of her supposed reproducing years (talk about delayed gratification). Was Wine Guy being an overly harsh disciplinarian? Did he lack sympathy for Toby and his bladder? Would he get mad at our child for wetting his pants if he just couldn't hold it any longer?

I'm sure I'm going off the deep end here so I'll stop obsessing. No one's perfect. And I could very well be wrong in my interpretation of this brief exchange. I've heard owning a dog as a couple is a pretty good way way to find out if you are compatible in parenting styles. Do I really want to know that? Don't most people just jump in and figure it out (emotionally damaging their children in the process).

OK, I'll really stop obsessing now. Instead I will choose to focus on the wonderful meal Wine Guy is going out of his way to prepare for us. Oh, and making sure Toby gets some serious petting too. Enjoy your weekend.

Dismissed.

September 10, 2007

True Crime Dream Come True

It's not every day you see a guy you dated on prime time network television.

That day happened for me not too long ago. It was already an unusual evening because, for some reason, Wine Guy had actually ceded the remote control to me. This meant I could actually identify what was on before I changed the channel.

That was when I saw him. The blond, wispy hair and receding hairline. The tan, boyish face contrasting with the conservative suit and tie. It was definitely him - the DA.

In all honesty, I wasn't surprised to see him on television. In fact, I knew he was going to be featured on a major network news magazine program within the first hour of meeting him.

It was last summer and I was with a small group of girls at a popular dive bar celebrating a co-worker/friend's last day on the job. This was pre-blog and when I was on a dating rampage. It was kind of second full time job. Everywhere I went I was on the lookout, which only made the advice I kept getting from people even more annoying, "He'll come along at just the moment when you aren't looking for it." Whatever. That is the lamest piece of advice I've ever heard. If you say, "don't look at this thing in my hand, " what's the first thing you are going to do? Look at it of course....

So we're at the dive bar and I'm just buzzed enough to crave a cigarette (this habit being the last remnant from my six years in New York City). I leave my non-smoking friends and head to the patio to see who I can bum off of (only real smokers own their own cigarettes, dontcha know?). As I'm sitting on a stool puffing away and riding my buzz, I notice the table I'm sort of sitting at has a pile of opened presents on it and a group of about 5 or 6 very happy people.

They were an odd bunch, mostly because they just didn't fit together. A couple of middle aged women, a dad-looking guy wearing a polo shirt, two gruff mustachioed men, and the thin-haired blond mentioned earlier. They seemed friendly enough. I was buzzed enough. The blond guy was cute enough. So I ventured to step in...

"Is it someone's birthday?" I ask the blond guy, nodding towards the pile of gifts on the table.

He turned to me still laughing from the last exchange with his friends, "No, uh...." his smile fades into a nervous grimace when he notices that it's a girl talking to him. I can tell that, underneath that buzz, he's shy. That's always a refreshing thing to see - especially in a dive bar.

"No, it's actually a...well, really we're uh....celebrating a court case. We just convicted someone today."

My eyes lit up. "Really? Are you guys jurors then?" We're not far from the court house and, having never made it past the main corral during jury duty, I'm fascinated to know what it's like to actually get picked for a jury.

"No, no. Well, actually those three people are jurors," he points to the middle aged women and the dad-type. As he continues, I can see his face redden. "I'm a District Attorney and those two guys, " pointing to the gruff gentlemen who are listening in on us with far too much interest, "they're the cops who investigated the case."

At this point, I'm already deciding how to retell this story to our grandchildren. I'm a bit of a closet True Crime junkie (Law & Order too if you recall). Sometimes my interest borders on creepy, I must admit. Lots of American Justice, Cold Case Files (not Cold Case the TV show - big difference), City Confidential, Power, Privilege and Justice (Dominick Dunne), etc. You know those shows no girl who lives alone in a basement apartment where no one can hear her should ever watch. If this guy is telling the truth (he is), than I just met a man who could keep me entertained for the rest of my life.

We chat more and he answers all my over eager questions. He seemed pleased when I told him I had heard about the case. Apparently I wasn't the only one, since one major primetime news program (I use the term "news" lightly here) had taped the entire trial and planned on dedicating a program to the case to air sometime in the coming year.

The DA also tells me that he doesn't own a TV and has never heard of the show that's taping him. Since I am in the TV business, I find it incredibly refreshing that he doesn't know a damn thing about it.When I tell him this particular program is a very highly rated show and that this is "kind of a big deal," he seems genuinely alarmed. Especially when I tell him people will most definitely recognize him on the street. This is a really small town and locals don't get an hour program featuring them very often.

I can tell he's far more drunk than he realizes and by now I have learned that the jurors and the cops all adore him. They were clearly won over by his modest charm and genuine personality as they watched him over those weeks in the courtroom. I got the distinct feeling they all shared something pretty important. Like they all lived through - and survived - the same real-life drama.

They were all also very aware of his single status. Over the 45 minutes or so that we talked, they each took a separate opportunity to tell me what a great guy he was, how hard he worked to convict the killer, and how his shyness means that he doesn't work it with the ladies like he should.

This was a pretty damn good "meet cute" I must say. But the whole shy thing became annoyingly true when I told the DA I had to make my way back to my friends before they got concerned and he didn't ask for my number. Just said, "Oh, OK. Bye. Nice to meet you."

By the time I got back to my table, I was a little giddy but also worried that he would leave before we had a chance to exchange information. I talked it over with my friends (none of whom are single and found the whole thing just a little amusing). They encouraged me to go back over there and hand him my card.

I stood up, took a deep breath, turned around to walk back to the patio and on the way, bumped head-on into the two cops. They were more than happy to see me since what they were doing was coming to get me. See, they knew the DA liked me and was kicking himself for not asking for my number. So they took it upon themselves to make it happen for the shy guy. After they told me this, I held up my hand to show them the business card resting in my palm, ready for the hand off to the DA.

They marched me back to the patio (was this a pick-up or an arrest?). When we got to the table, the DAs back was turned to us. They brusquely turned him around and said, "Here she is!"

The jurors and the cops were laughing, the middle aged women were mouthing "he's a great guy" with overly exaggerrated thumbs up signs and gestures. It was terrifically embarrassing and funny and just plain ridiculous. Basically it was 8th grade for grown ups (two of whom had badges and guns).

"Here, " I shoved my card in the DAs hand. " You should give me a call."

"I, I...will. I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow -- you can imagine I need one. Anyway, I'll be back in three weeks and I promise I'll call you."

Why are the promising ones always heading out of town when you first meet them?! I said, "I hope you do. OK, I better go," the audience was getting very worked up and my friends had wandered over and were now snapping flash pictures of this terribly awkward exchange.

I thought our connection was pretty strong and that I would hear from him. But after three weeks plus two days without a call, I lost patience. I needed to get this thing moving if we were going to share this story with our grandchildren!

Being a DA in the news recently, I quickly figured out his email address and popped him a "breezy" checking-in email. Oh, and I attached one of the excruciatingly awkward photos from my friend's camera --just as a "reminder" in case he dared to forget how he met me.

My office phone rang within 30 seconds. We had a date set by the time I hung up 5 minutes later.

Judging by the fact that I am writing this story after having blabbed on and on about Wine Guy these last 4 months, you can guess that things didn't quite work out with the DA. Not only did they not work out, they never even got past Date #1.

He was perfectly nice, though far shorter than I imagined (I guess I'd missed that important detail since one or both of us had been sitting the entire time we interacted at the bar). But once the small talk was out of the way, there wasn't much to say. OK, I had plenty of questions to ask him about his job - which I did. As entertaining as that was for me, I can't imagine he particularly enjoyed being interviewed (interrogated) by a girl with a slightly twisted fascination with true crime stories.

Let's just say I wasn't surprised - or disappointed -- when I never heard a word from him again. Where was that grandchild-inspiring connection I felt so strongly just a few weeks earlier?

So back to the couch with Wine Guy. As I watched the highlights of the DA's closing argument on my TV screen, I suddenly felt that vivid connection again. That spark deep in the pit of my stomach. I recognized the feeling instantly. It's exactly how I feel when Bill Kurtis introduces me to another ghastly crime in some Midwestern town.

It wasn't the short, blond DA I connected with. It was the prospect of a commercial-free true crime show whenever I wanted!

I wish it was that easy to explain to Wine Guy. Upon seeing the DA on screen ( I had been quietly keeping an eye out for the program all these months) I couldn't help but excitedly blurt out the story of my stunted romance with the DA. I'm sure Wine Guy mistook my enthusiasm for "the one that got away" nostalgia. Hopefully he'll read this and believe me once and for all.

Now, I wonder if Bill Kurtis is single?

Dismissed.

September 6, 2007

Cruise Ship Sociology 101

I want to go back to grad school just so I can write a dissertation about human interaction aboard a cruise ship.

This was my first cruise and I now understand where the oft-heard term “first-time cruiser” comes from. When you step on board your first cruise ship, you are asked to leave one world and enter an entirely new one - a vastly different culture and way of life in just one short step off the pier. A new pace, language,currency trade, gastronomic habits (not to mention portion sizes), dress code, standards of polite societal interaction, what qualifies as a “good" stage show” ….basically every single thing about “regular life” is gone once you enter the cruise ship society for however long you signed up. In my case, it was one week.

This may sound like a good thing to many of you. It is a vacation, right? Aren’t vacations supposed to be all about putting aside your regular life for something entirely out of the ordinary? Isn’t that supposed to feel like escape, like freedom?

Well, it didn’t for me - and I was even on a “freestyle” cruise, which I quickly found out means no fixed meal times or style of dress. And it wasn't just the whole claustrophobic “there are too many people on this small, closed off ship” thing either. Yes, that bothered me for the first day or so. But once I got over it (martinis help), I still felt closed in. Trapped by the space itself with several thousand strangers, many of whom are likely the types of people I’ve spent my life avoiding.

I know it sounds like I had some sort of panic attack on my cruise vacation. But I didn't. Instead this ominous sensation turned from scary to giddy...right about at the moment when I realized that not only was I going to see some spectacular Alaskan scenery, but I was in for the Super Bowl of People Watching -- one of my favorite activities.

So, back to my dissertation. First let's discuss the system of governance aboard a cruise liner.

The poster-boy "President" was Brad, our harmlessly handsome, bubbly, ingratiating --yet surprisingly stern when needed--Cruise Director. Brad welcomed us to every possible occasion over the loudspeaker with a chirpy "AaaaND, goooooOOD [morning, evening, afternoon] ladies and gentlemen. Hope you are having a faaanTAstic day so far!"

And just like in our off-the-ship reality, this President was not the one really running the show. Nope. Brad was a sham. A smiling puppet of the taciturn nordic Captain who graced us with his presence on two occasions: when his disembodied voice announced our highly anticipated arrival at a glacier, and his stage appearance for a Q&A about the running of the ship - which was very brief and largely intended for show over substance. Sound familiar?

But even our Captain wasn't running much more than the vessel itself. Again, just like the world I'm living in right now, 4 days after disembarking (a little cruise ship lingo for ya), it's the Corporation that really makes the decisions. And we - the passengers- are nothing but the little minions feeding the corporate machine, with Brad eagerly encouraging us to hand over our money to buy all the little "extras" the ship offers that would ensure we will have the absolutely FanTAstic vacation that we deserve.

OK, so you can see my thesis forming now, can't you? (I know, it's starting to sound more like a manifesto - sorry). But that is just the bird's eye view of the society. I am eager to dive into the fascinating subcultures that function within - and around - this world. Namely, couples.

But that will have to wait til next time. Wine Guy is almost finished toasting my yummy tuna melt and I can't write when the stomach's growling (it still thinks I should eat like I'm on a cruise ship. Those days ended when I disembarked, baby!)

Dismissed.

September 2, 2007

Towed Away

It’s the second to last day of my vacation and I finally have a chance to write a quick update.

The cruise was incredible --- well, let me restate that. Alaska was amazing. The cruise was just the most reasonable way to see it. It took my mom and me a few days to get used to the immense ship and for me to not feel claustrophobic trapped on a vessel with 3,000 other people (and hand sanitizers conveniently placed every 5 feet didn't make me feel any more at ease). Although this cruise helped me to realize how young I really am (when compared to my fellow passengers, that is), I had very little incentive to primp since the only single man in my age range was Brad the Cruise Director who, if I had to guess, didn’t play for my team.

Now we are in Vancouver for another two days of sightseeing before heading back to San Diego on Tuesday. Vancouver is a terrific city and I wouldn’t mind living here one bit (and not just for the health care). But I have to admit that I am incredibly homesick too. I think that’s a sign of a good vacation. I enjoyed what I experienced, but I’m ready to get home and be back with the comfortable things that make my life mine.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I have missed Wine Guy terribly. And judging from the short, hopeful emails he sent (which I’ve only just read now that I finally have Internet access), he missed me too. In addition to pining away for me, Wine Guy is also watching my cat. As a fellow cat owner, he fully understands this is a duty that consists of far more than dropping in every other day to fill a bowl and scoop the litter. We’re talking quality time here and, from what he tells me, he has bonded with my kitty quite a bit. And having access to cable TV at my place didn’t hurt either.

I have to admit, it feels wonderful having someone miss me while I’m gone. I tend to get a little depressed when I travel, thinking nobody misses me except my mom and my cat -- and the cat is iffy.

About halfway through the cruise I stumbled onto a cell phone signal and took the opportunity to give Wine Guy a call. He seemed quite excited to hear from me, but it sounded more like panic than pleasure, “I’m so glad you called!”

Concerned, I asked, “What is it?”

He then unloaded the story that was clearly eating him alive. Wine Guy had taken my mom and me to the airport on the day of our departure. My mom parked her car on the street at my place and, at Wine Guy's suggestion (a good one), my mom gave him her car key just in case he needed to move it. While we were gone, he stopped by my house and checked on both of our cars regularly. Then one day my mom’s car was gone.

After several frantic phone calls, Wine Guy discovered that my mom’s car had been towed. Apparently, sometime on day three they had put up a small ground level sign with penciled lettering saying no parking would be enforced starting the next day. By the time I was able to reach him, he had already called the city and fully researched the laws on proper parking notifications (they are required to provide 5 days notice before implementing new parking regulations). He even had the city fax him the documentation of when the sign was posted (the day before enforcement began). He felt absolutely terrible. Not just that the car got towed under his watch (how could he have known?), but that he was tainting our vacation by telling us.

I urged him not to feel bad. Of course there was nothing he could do and and he had already gone above and beyond. He insisted that he would help my mom pay the fine and that he would absolutely fight to get the money back since he has all the proof he needs (including photos of the substandard sign) to win the argument.

Anyway, I’m sure you don’t care about the legal intricacies of parking violations in the City of San Diego. The point is, Wine Guy demonstrated some truly honorable, responsible behavior. Far more than I or anyone would ever think of or ask of someone. I was proud of him. Proud that I picked a man like this to be with and proud to have my mom get a taste of what he’s like.

As Wine Guy told me the story and I relayed it to my mom who was sitting across the table, I could see she was growing visibly upset. Especially as she was probably counting all the days we would be gone and how much that would cost her at the impound lot.

It is very hard for me to see my mom upset. And with Wine Guy so in control of the situation, I made a slightly panicked move that truly put him to the test. “Would you mind reassuring my mom? I can tell she needs it.”

I was nervous asking him to do this. But my faith in him was well deserved when I heard his response, “Of course. Put her on.”

I handed her the phone, and as she listened to whatever it was Wine Guy was saying, I saw her frown lift. I don’t know if it was what he said, how he said it, or just that he was saying anything to her at all, but by the time we got off the phone with Wine Guy we went on with our cruise like nothing had happened.

Absence – and integrity –do make the heart grow fonder.

More on the cruise when I get back home and unpack the ungodly amount of clothing I lugged along with me (all of which I actually wore). With so many couples of varying marital stages surrounding me for a week straight, I have much to share.

Dismissed.