soft as nails

Here is a typical text exchange:

Him:  You’re so picky.

Me:  Did you seriously just call me picky?! …I’ll have you know that your woman is discerning, selective and has high standards.

Him:  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Me:  So you like that I’m picky…

on drunk dialing / texting

Last weekend…

I’m home from a Memorial weekend barbecue and I’ve had two whole drinks which, when one imbibes as much as I do (rarely or not at all), can render me word-slurring inebriated. And of course my natural instinct is to dial up or text Chi-guy or more-like-it or some other obscure item from my past. So I thought I’d see if I can write instead and make a go of musing about what sort of foolish crap might come out of my mouth if I actual did dial someone up.

First of all, if I did dial Chi-guy, would he be amused or annoyed with me? He no longer drinks at all, remember. He is charming and sweet and long-suffering, as far as I can tell. And, the last time we were together, he suggested I order an after-dinner drink…which were listed under “Happy Endings” on the menu. I thought briefly about suggesting that he might give me one instead which, frankly, might have opened that whole discussion a little less awkwardly. In any case, Chi-guy treats me with a certain combination of “you’re so sweet!” and “you’re a total slut!” and condescension. I know that sounds bad, but it’s actually a great balance of hysterically funny and positively charming, without being syrupy sweet. Sure, I’d watch the tone very closely if ever I were to spend time with him, but the jabs that could be mean are so well timed and outright hilarious that it’s difficult to imagine that he could ever mean harm. That said, a couple years into a relationship, one views things entirely differently…

If I texted more-like-it, would he respond? I haven’t told you that we communicate regularly, weirdly. What is that, anyway? What is that “I know you’re looking for something special, so I’m out. Hey how’s your week going?” WTF? A man who wants to be friends, really? So why are we always talking about sex? Especially when his online dating profile clearly stated he didn’t want to be friends with benefits? Yeah, I’m a little confused about that one.

But all that’s cool. Here’s why:  because I’m not chasing men. If a guy is interested, he’s going to be absolutely certain I know. Hell, even the guy in the adjacent cubicle at work has made clear he finds me attractive, even without saying anything out of line. If anything, it’s me who’s exhibited the appallingly bad behavior. I am simply not cut out for corporate HR departments…how the hell would I deal with me in a similar situation?!

So thank you for listening to my mojito-induced blather…and for keeping me out of trouble! Good night.

do men notice or appreciate toe cleavage?

It was only a few months ago that I first heard of toe cleavage…and I thought, “is that really a thing?”

So when some girlfriends recently commented on a cute pair of shoes that highlighted my toe cleavage, I thought about it again: Do men really notice this sort of thing? And, if they do, do they find it sexy?

So my curiosity led me to take an informal poll among the few men who are regularly a part of my ongoing male-female relationship dynamic conversation. Here are their responses:

  • The lobbyist:  “No and definitely not.” Further inquiry / pushing the issue led to “Yuk!”
  • Chi-guy:  “No and no. I like that you are secure enough to talk about your totally weird foot fetish.” Followed by, “Actual cleavage is often noticed… Anyway, I notice kindness.” And later, “I’ll suck your toes while you whisper kind things…”
  • more-like-it:  “I enjoy nice feet… Love to massage them…” followed by a very graphic description of a sexual position / activity to which I could only reply, “You’re naughty!”
  • By far the best response came from the guy in the cubicle next to me who I clearly should not have even asked (Hello HR!), but did:  He nodded thoughtfully and said ever so diplomatically, “Mm-hmm. Different guys notice different aspects of a woman’s appearance to different degrees. Some guys are going to be in to feet, some are more in to other things.”

For the record, I don’t have a foot fetish myself. I’m just not grossed out by feet (as long as a certain level of hygiene is employed), and I appreciate having my own feet enjoyed. I take care to keep them looking nice, and I like having them rubbed, and I think it’s lovely when a man isn’t afraid to pay a little attention to the lowly feet and toes as a part of physical intimacy.

So, there you have it. There are men who are completely foot-phobic. And, while it’s a little, simple thing, this whole discussion clearly illustrates that the kind of guy who is grossed out by feet is not the guy for me.

can’t wait to get me some Chi-guy (part 4)

About 8 months ago…

All this flirting with Chi-guy was beginning to show some promise. I had finally made up my mind on the sex question and the answer was Yes! I was definitely excited by the thought of getting physical with him, and I was beginning to think that he might actually be ready to go there, too.

Thus, my texts, emails and conversations with him, while entirely genuine and from my heart, were definitely directional in nature. I wanted to feel confident, when I next traveled to Chicago, that we were on the same page. I was leading the conversation, looking for proof positive that he was thinking the same thing.

Meanwhile, the work I was doing this trip would require a day of running around, doing errands. I asked Chi-guy to spend the day with me; I needed a local with a car to assist, I argued. He would be compensated, and it would be a win-win, costing less than the car rental, parking and lost time if I were doing it all myself. I would take him out that night — off the clock, of course — to celebrate his upcoming birthday over dinner. He agreed.

I made flight arrangements, thinking ahead to fly in early Friday and fly out mid-day Monday, so that I (we) would have the opportunity sleep in that final morning.

Things were going well. I was feeling confident. He texted things like:  “Good morning, Goddess. What are you up to?”

And I:  “Oh, the usual Goddess stuff…listening to a little Kate Bush, dancing in the kitchen, saving the world, etc…”

We had even exchanged some suggestive (though less risqué than prime time television) photos, which is how I know the specific brand of boxer briefs he wears.

The week before my trip, I took a road-trip with my children. As we drove through the countryside, I saw an exit sign for a town with Chi-guy’s last name on it. I texted him a photo.

He shot back:  “Oh, yeah, I’m also the Mayor there in my spare time.”

I texted:  “Well, your Honor, what do I have to do to get into your CKs?”

Him:  “Nothing. You don’t even have to say ‘please.'”

Even writing about it today, I can feel the joy flood through my body. I was immediately relaxed, happy and confident that things were going my way. As a matter of fact, when my girlfriends asked about my prospects in Chicago, I smiled coyly and used the words “locked and loaded.”

The few days before my trip, I coasted on this confident knowing. Chi-guy was silent. Finally, two days before I flew, I texted him:  “SO EXCITED to see you this Friday!”

He texted:  “Oh, sorry, change of plans. Can’t make it.”

After an initial moment of shock, I thought it must be a joke…still, I couldn’t be sure. I didn’t know him that well…

Me:  “Bummer!”

Him:  “Just kidding. Looking forward to seeing you, too.”

This is what I call douchebag humor. Douchebag humor is when a man has a perfectly decent opportunity to pay an amazing compliment and, instead, chooses to try to be funny because it’s more satisfying to his own ego. In other words, if you are the woman on the receiving end of douchebag humor, you know how un-funny it is!

And, even though he had paid me a half-assed compliment in the end, “looking forward to seeing you” was stiff and formal compared to my “SO EXCITED” gushiness. He was running hot and cold, sending mixed messages…something was going on with him…

I decided to stay positive. After all, what single guy — after more than a decade of married sex — would turn down the opportunity to go to bed with a long-time crush?!


Chi-guy, part 3

About eight months ago…

One Friday I went to dinner with a colleague. He has a great mind and we always have fun talking together, and that evening was no exception. After dinner, I asked him, “what next?”

“You’re inviting me to your place,” he said.

“Okay,” I said. I wasn’t 100% sure where this was going, but I had a pretty good idea, as this fellow had been a little suggestive on occasion. I was still well within the time frame I’d designated for having casual encounters, so I figured, “why not?!” I won’t bore you with the details just now (you can find them here), but…I looked at the clock after he left; it wasn’t even 10pm.

I texted Chi-guy: “Just sent my date home. Ugh. U up?”

Him:  “For what?”

Me:  “Chat?”

Him:  “Oh, sweet! I’m out tonight. Tomorrow?”

Me:  “Sounds good. Enjoy!”

The next day, well after noon, I received this:  “I definitely had more fun than u last night! Call u after I get the little one to sleep.”

Me:  “If your fun night just left, I don’t want to hear about it. Talk later.”

Was I jealous of the thought that Chi-guy might have had better sex than I had the previous night? Or was a I jealous about the thought of him with another woman? Then it occurred to me:  I wanted to be the girl to recharge his mojo, dammit!

Chi-guy called at 11:15pm and we talked about relationships, marriage, divorce, children and more. He confessed that, leading up to the dissolution of his relationship, he’d begun to drink too much, maybe been a little depressed and other admissions that eerily paralleled the demise of my own marriage. At one point, he told me how the end had begun:  his wife asked him to see a counselor with her, a safe venue in which she could ask him to move out. The counselor advised him to respect her wishes, move out, cooperate and “make things easy on her,” because she would ultimately realize that he was not the problem.

“Dude, your counselor sucks!” I teased. “Mine told me to go out and get laid before my ex had even moved out!”

“I want your counselor!” he joked.

We confided and shared, comforted and laughed for more than two hours. His voice had grown more resonant than I’d remembered from years before and, while still not terribly masculine, there was something kind of sexy about it. I had always felt some sort of energetic connection with Chi-guy, but now a genuine emotional warmth was beginning to blossom.

Late the next morning I texted him:  “Can’t remember the last time I talked on the phone for more than 2 hrs and enjoyed it!”

Him:  “I know, so high school. Now I just need to hang your picture in my locker and give you a hickey.”

I immediately updated my Facebook status:  “Was just offered a hickey…tempted, but it’s not quite turtleneck weather.” Within moments, my bawdier girlfriends had commented, “Who says it has to be on your neck?” and the like.

“Going to wear your Letterman’s jacket everywhere. p.s. ck my fb status,” I texted.

Him:  “Now I see where u get your inspiration. If you out me, I will give you a hickey next time I see you! p.s. you’re going to have to give more than a hickey for my letter jacket.”

We bantered in high school terms for the day, until I wrote: “Why, I do believe you’re flirting with me!”

“I like flirting with you,” he wrote back.

And so my crush blossomed, and I began to believe in the possibility that Chi-guy could be back in action by Labor Day.

Meanwhile, my girlfriends were asking about the men in my life. I was still texting with Max, Anthony and Brendon, who were unavailable for various reasons, but gave my ego a little boost. Add Chi-guy — who was not a match geographically or astrologically. And I had dated a guy in college with the same given name, which sullied even that. Whatever this might be, it was going nowhere…but it might be a fun romp (and just what the doctor ordered).


reconnecting with Chi-guy, part 2

About 9 months ago…

I was back in the office at my big, corporate job, where each and every day was rife with irony, inconsistency and hilarious examples of English gone awry. Knowing Chi-guy was well-educated and literary (as well as baffled to find me in a buttoned-up corporate environment), I found regular inspiration for messages to him — e.g. “New word heard in meeting today:  ‘choiceful.’ Used as synonym for discriminating or discerning, as in ‘we need to be more choiceful about…'” and another day, “talking Kathy Griffin here — new word ‘vajazzle.'”

Chi-guy played along:  “You’ve got to be choiceful about who you let vajazzle you.”

Meanwhile, I thought about how excited I’d been to learn that he was single and what Suzanne had said. Chi-guy and I, it seemed, had nursed a mutual crush for more than seven years. We were miraculously single at the same time. He looked better than ever. And I was going to be traveling to Chicago three more times in the autumn, a short six weeks away.

We bantered via text and email for a few weeks. One day I texted, “Listening to Bob Schneider & thought of u:  ‘It’s not the end of everything, it’s just the end of everything you know.'”

Him:  “Wait, is that supposed to make me feel better?”

Me:  “I take great comfort in the possibility that what I don’t know might be better than what I do know. Besides, maybe it’s the part about the single girl thinking of u that makes u feel better?”

Him:  “Oh, yeah, that does make me feel better.”

I had a few Chicago contacts and offered to connect him for an informational interview, so we set up a time to talk on the phone. He thanked me for the regular messages and told me they were a bright spot in his day. It seemed we joked and laughed from the moment I picked up the phone to the time I hung up 30 minutes later. Whatever was between us was adding an unexpected and pleasant dimension to my work and single-parenting routine.

That’s when it came to me:  I could try to be for Chi-guy what Max had been to me — I would help him move on, remind him of his positive qualities and, though six weeks was an aggressive timeline, I made it my mission to help him get his mojo back. I wasn’t yet sure whether I would sleep with him, but I opened myself to the possibility of a romp. Neither of us were in a position to consider any sort of a relationship, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t enjoy each other in the moment.

I shared my plans with Suzanne. “You’re so altruistic!,” she mocked, rolling her eyes and laughing with me. “Sounds like fun!”

Chi-guy had seemed pretty devastated about the demise of his marriage when I’d met him for coffee. But I was determined to do what I could to resurrect his confidence, swagger and smile…and I would enjoy every minute of it!

My next text to Chi-guy:  “U r so smart & funny; I could talk to you 4ever!”


about that guy I did like a man

About eleven months ago…

A few days after returning from my trip, as I was reflecting on how thoughtful my one-night lover had been, I decided to send him a note.

“Anthony, it was lovely,” I emailed. Short and sweet.

“It’s been a week, and I’m still smiling,” he replied. Thus began another long-distance flirtation. We emailed or texted a few times a week, and even spoke on the phone.

I enjoyed the attention, and I loved crafting 140 or fewer character flirtations.

“Your messages are like haikus,” he texted.

“More like Zen koans,” I corrected.

One night, while out for drinks with girlfriends, I confessed to him that I barely remembered his name, much less what he looked like. He wrote, “I was your first kiss, the first lover’s poem to grace your ears, the first flutter of breath on your neck, the first touch of your breast… Lover, you know me!” The girls and I swooned.

I’d previously held a belief that casual sex was cold, awkward and impersonal. Anthony, with his musical accent and charming banter, had taught me that it could be warm and playful.

A few months after our meeting, at the end of one of our conversations, he asked me if we might meet in another city for a weekend. And that’s when I realized we were on completely different pages in our lives. I was living a flirtation, and it was enough for me. He was thinking of seeing me again. My daily life felt like a struggle to pay the mortgage and parent my children with almost no support from their father (who was, at the time, still trying to be difficult). This was no time to think about jetting off to see a lover, particularly one with whom I could envision no future. The only way I could have made this work at that time was if he were in a position to be a sugar daddy. Does is make me a whore to think that way — that I might have considered it if he were picking up the tab? Looking back, I think I really needed an escape, so I won’t judge myself too harshly.

Anthony and I continue to be in touch occasionally. I think he likes my coolness (cruelty?) or views me as a challenge. Perhaps, given its effectiveness, this is an approach I should adopt towards men I really like…

trying to pluck the low-hanging fruit

About a year ago…

A couple of jobs ago, I worked in a building on the other end of downtown, with a suave and charming guy who always had a bit of a thing for me. Despite not really being my type at all, we had chemistry. When I was feeling neglected in my marriage, I sometimes fantasized about running into him in the library and making out among the stacks.

He went through a divorce around the time I was moving on to my next gig. But we stayed loosely in touch, occasionally catching up over coffee. He changed jobs, too, and was now a lobbyist. I ran into him downtown one day and he hugged me longer than was comfortable. Pretty much everyone described him as “smarmy.” But that was all years ago…

Now I was newly single again and on the prowl — and Brendon should have been an easy target. Smarmy and lobbyist are irrelevant terms when one has a specific mission in mind. I had absolutely no interest in a relationship with him. In fact, I wasn’t even interested in him as a human. But sex, yeah. Think of Aaron Eckhart’s character in Thank You For Smoking. So I texted him, “What happened to that coffee date we had planned? Let’s upgrade to a cocktail to celebrate my being single and fabulous!”

“Well you’ve always been fabulous!” he replied. “Sorry to hear about your divorce. Pick the coziest place you can think of and you can tell me all about it.”

So you see, I thought this would be easy. Incredibly easy. The low-hanging fruit is always easy to reach and usually ready to be plucked, right?

But apparently smarmy lobbyists have an entire season of fundraisers to attend to, and his work demands kept getting in the way of any plans we’d made. When he cancelled on me for the second time via text, I ignored him. Note to men:  you may be able to cancel a date via text once. But if you have to cancel the very next one, it merits a phone call and apology.

He began texting me again while I was out of town on vacation with my children. We vowed to make something work when I returned.

One day, as I was walking downtown, I saw Brendon coming from the other direction. He excused himself from the work colleagues he was with and embraced me in the middle of the street. I felt butterflies in my stomach and weak in the knees — classic crush symptoms, which were even more pronounced than they’d been back in the day. Brendon had to endure a work dinner with an out-of-town colleague, who would soon become his boss. After the sexual tension I felt right there in the street, I was sure Brendon would call after dinner …but he didn’t.

Brendon’s inaction was not helping me achieve the mission my counsellor set me on. And it was killing my self-esteem that someone I thought would be so easy and seemed to be interested in my charms was not motivated to take action! In the end, I never did hook up with Brendon.

And, looking back, I’m okay with that.

me or Max, misunderstood

About 14 months ago…

It was actually before we broke the news to our children that their father was moving out that I had a “lovers’ quarrel” of sorts with Max. Of course we weren’t lovers, and it was more of a misunderstanding that went something like this:

I misinterpreted a joke (I took it too literally) and thought, with disgust, “Who does he think I am? Does he really think I’m that stupid?!” I probably should have responded with this thought, but I’m sure my reply (I no longer recall exactly) was something more passive-aggressive in nature.

He replied with a text, “One of the things I always liked about you was your sense of humor.”

In a haze of loneliness and hormones (read PMS), I escalated, lashed out and started a drama cycle that lasted from one evening through the next morning from text to email and back again. I confess I spent a few hours in tears for, during this “spat,” three things happened:

  1. I recently mentioned a conversation about being alone with a divorced colleague who asked me if I’d ever feared being alone for the rest of my life. Well, this emotional crisis, this exchange with Max took me there. Somewhere in the midst of it, I experienced that horrific fear that maybe, just maybe, I would be alone for the rest of my life. I had connected with another man, but connecting with unavailable men was only going to get me to where? Alone.
  2. I realized how emotionally dependent I’d become on a man who was not available to me. And then I realized this was my pattern. Many of my relationships had been long distance, I had crushed on too many fellas that were gay or already in relationships or, for whatever reason, were not going to be able to commit to me. And, as part of this realization, it dawned on me once again that…
  3. I don’t want to be anyone’s fantasy. I want to be a wonderful man’s wonderful reality. And if he’s not in a position to commit to me and be in a relationship and create a real life together, then I want nothing to do with it! I mean, I can flirt and play, but I’ll be in control and I’m not going to let myself get attached to or involved with another man who sees me as a distraction, a daydream or fantasy. The men can fantasize all they want, but I’m going to keep myself from being emotionally drawn into it.

And with these realizations, I knew that my relationship with Max could not go on as it was, that I needed to be less dependent on him. As much as he and his attention had been gifts and had helped me to reclaim my intuition and confidence, our flirtatious friendship — or, rather, my reliance on it — was now doing me as much harm as good. To him, I may have been an intelligent, beautiful, attractive woman with whom he shared chemistry and mutual crush. But no matter how much he respected me, our relationship could never be one of equals, because he was going home to his wife and step-children each day, while I was sleeping alone.