July 29, 2007

Cardinal sin #28: Pity-dating

"I know she's not the one," sighed my friend P into his pint of Red Hook IPA. He was having "relationship issues". I love talking about "relationship issues". Hence us, together, over Bang Bang shrimp and drinks, (two more things I love) dissecting his relationship with his girlfriend of a couple years.

He's never cheated (hell, he felt guilty about meeting me for some platonic female counseling), treats his girlfriends like gold, is smart and an idealist and is actually capable of expressing himself intelligently with some real emotional maturity while also maintaining a distincly masculine air. He's no weenie, but he's also no brute.

Christ, looking back at that paragraph, he's like the holy grail of men, isn't he? And, dear single ladies, he's attractive. AND bilingual.

But he's also a notorious pity-dater.

This girl, who he met and almost immediately started dating and later moved in with, was a "pretty", "nice" girl. The prettiness and niceness were, well, pretty and nice at first.

"There weren't 'sparks', per se," he said, "But she was sweet, and liked me, and it just felt right."

"Right?" I raised my eyebrow.

"Easy," he conceded. "Routine. Which seemed at the time like the way it was supposed to be, I guess."

They never fought. (Let it be known that I believe every great relationship survives because its members know how to do two things very intelligently: fight and apologize -- and mean them both). He never cheated. The sex was just okay. (I asked.) Their phone conversations were short.

"Okay, so let me extrapolate this and see if I'm getting your drift," I said, taking a deep breath. "You go to work in grey cubicles every morning, meet for cheese sandwich lunches during which you hardly speak except about the weather. You come home at night, eat vanilla ice cream after your chicken just before putting on your footie P.J.s and saying your prayers every night at 8:30 sharp on the way to your (separate) beds."

"Yes!" he said. "Exactly! This is a vanilla relationship. At first, I liked the vanilla. It was sweet and looked nice and felt good going down..." He paused for effect while enjoying my cringe.

"But now, all the things that attracted me in the first place turn out not to matter. Yeah, she's pretty. But Jesus Christ, she's boring. We're boring. We don't talk about anything. She doesn't care about anything. She's totally dependent on me, and she's clueless that I could ultimately take her or leave her. I don't know what to do. I mean, I feel bad. She's just so nice."

He spat out the "n" word like it was bitter.

There he sat in relationship limbo, dating a girl that was perfectly fine but nothing special, and it was driving him crazy. To make matters worse for him, he felt completely helpless to rectify the situation because she was literally killing him with kindess. And he didn't want to "hurt her feelings" by breaking it off.

This, of course, was ridiculous.

I, of course, pointed that out.

"Um, don't take this the wrong way, P," I said, "but do you really think anyone wants to be with somebody who is just dating them out of pity? I meam, life goes on after you. Give this girl a little credit... if you told her how you felt, I bet she'd be out of there in 10 seconds flat."

And then we played my favorite game ever: Worst to best.

This game is best played when trying to helpfully counsel your friends through a tough decision -- one they're afraid to make (or not make).

You ask them to start out by describing the worst possible outcome of a situation. In this case, if he did option 1 (break up with her), the worst possible outcome was that she'd cry, scream, slam doors and move out. And P would be single. And he'd be lonely and depressed for a few weeks. The breakup could get ugly, but even in the worst possible scenario, he'd be free of an unsatisfying relationship.

Once you've thoroughly described the worst possible outcome, you do the same with other outcomes that are a few degrees better than the last one, until you come to the best possible outcome. In this case, that would be him talking to her, her understanding and even agreeing, and them peacefully going their separate ways.

We then did this for option 2: Not breaking up with her. The worst possible outcome there was that he would spend a lifetime with her, growing to resent her, and he either ends up cheating or just hating her because she's keeping him from actually falling in love. The best possible outcome would be him getting to just be satisfied with "eh", "eh-ing" out into infinity.

"So?" I asked after P had gamely gone through these scenarios with me.

"I know what I have to do," he nodded.

That was three weeks ago. P ended it two and a half weeks ago. She didn't even cry. He was lonely for about a week (it's not that hard to break up with someone you didn't really love to begin with, you know? A few good nights out and a dirty movie or two and he was over it.)

Yesterday he called me and said he'd met someone at a wedding over the weekend and they'd spent three solid days together since.

I haven't ever heard him talk about someone the way he talked about this girl. I'd repeat it all, but the superlatives even make me want to gag a little. And let it be known that there wasn't a "pretty" or "nice" in there anywhere. Try "breathtaking", "fantastic", "whip-smart", "hilarious".

Long story short: there are sparks. For the first time ever for him. I suspect he's not going back to "eh".

Let that be a lesson to all of us who have ever pity-dated (God knows I have -- biggest purple Bronco-driving, tongue ring having, 7-foot, leg-shaving mistake ever).

Hold out for sparks. Life's too long for "eh", and too short to never know what it feels like to glow in the company of someone you think is far, far more than just okay.

July 25, 2007

Mike Birbiglia

This is one funny man.

My favorite stand up comic by far at the moment. Click the links above, watch, laugh, and then memorize these jokes and attempt to pass them off as your own. Seriously. It works 3 out of 5 times.

His site is here.

Happy hump day!

July 19, 2007

I'm apparently a jersey-chasing scavenger.

“Well, you’re all set”, landlordlady said, handing me the extra housekeys. “Let me know if you have any questions about the place, otherwise, welcome home!”

I was giddy. A new house! With roommates! And a yard! I was already planning my first three parties: BBQ housewarming, a “naughty” party for the girls, then a Beer Pong and Paper-Scissor-Rock tournament, complete with Manny’s keg.

“Oh,” Landlordlady’s voice snapped me out of my party-planning reverie. “…and sorry about that,” she said, gesturing to the overflowing recycling bin at the corner of the garage. “That was left by the previous renters, but they’ll pay for garbage pickup this week. He was a Seahawk, so they had a ton of stuff to throw out when they moved.”

My ears perked up.

“A Seahawk, huh?” I tried not to sound too eager for details. “Who?”

“Oh, well… if you look around, I’m sure you can figure it out. But I don’t want to say, you understand…”

Well, I didn’t understand, but as she droned on about “privacy” and “out of respect”, I was scanning the house and tapping my feet, waiting for her to leave so I could really apply my brain to this new, fun mystery: Who used to live in my new house? And as a football fan, was there any possible way I could parlay this into free tickets? Or paraphernalia? I can’t explain it, but I suddenly morphed into an insta-jersey-chaser. As LLL left, the recycling bin again caught my eye.

Maybe just a little peek inside…

I was actually considering digging through a stranger’s recycling bin like a homeless lunatic, hunting for “clues” as to who lived here before me, as if that mattered in the slightest.

I knew it was wrong. I even found myself whistling and shuffling around a little, nonchalant-like, trying to pretend I wasn't thinking what I was thinking.

But the bin beckoned, and it was the not-knowing that was killing me.

I needed help.

I whipped out the blackberry. In the absence of an actual human, perhaps I could recruit some rational support electronically.

I texted the new boyfriend, who we’ll call Jim for reasons I plan to eventually explain, but just not right now:

So a seahawk was the last renter of my new house!

15 second delay, and then:

Liar. Who?

Well, that’s the question that has me considering digging through his garbage.

Delay… delay… delay…

Me again: No, seriously: I want to climb into his recycling bin and snoop. I need help.

Radio silence. No response.

Next thing I knew, I was surrounded by a flurry of cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, children’s drawings and old newspapers – the contents of the paper recycling bin strewn around me like the edge pieces of some giant puzzle, and me in the middle of them, examining each piece like a bag lady inspecting a shopping cart. I had succumbed. And then –

“Aha!!!” a box with the label still intact:

Lofa Tatupu.

Only my very favorite Seahawk linebacker – everything about him appeals. Big USC career, pegged as too small to play MLB but played the shit out of it for the Hawks last year with some seriously impressive plays, and…um…yum. I have a Tatupu jersey. I’m not kidding.

And then, while crouched on the floor of the garage, giggling insanely and clutching an empty shoebox with a wrinkled label (proof!!), I was again interrupted:


I dug down a layer or two in the paper to find my blackberry buzzing. New text message from Jim.

Please tell me you didn’t.

Response: Um… I didn’t.

You did.


Jesus, you crazy person.

Delay… delay… delay…

But that’s awesome. Do you think we can parlay this into tickets?

I think I love this man. Also, if you happen to want an old shoebox of Lofa Tatupu’s, lemme know. I’ll sell it to the highest bidder.

And Lofa, if you’re reading this, I am not as crazy as I sound (only partially a lie) and have nothing else of yours…. Except maybe one thing, which I’d be willing to return to you in exchange for a signed ball and some kick ass tickets. Oh, and another thing: would it have KILLED you to mow the lawn and fix the fence?

Not that I'm complaining...

Thank you.

July 12, 2007

Condiment courtesies and my scuffle with sauce

As I mentioned last week, I just moved from a place I've been for a little over a year, by myself, to a place with three roommates just down the street. Though my more skeptical friends can't believe I'm getting roomies after being alone, I'm looking forward to it. I'm good with change, and am pretty easy to live with, if I do say so myself.

But there are courtesies you have to attend to with roommates that you don't have to worry about when you're alone. With roommates, you can't walk in the door, take off your pants, and spend the rest of the evening on the couch in your undies burping and watching Friends reruns or Sports Center while trimming your toenails. You also don't park in the middle of your driveway. Or leave your clothes in the dryer for a week. Or hog the condiment shelves of the refrigerator, which occurred to me as I was cleaning out my fridge as I moved: I was moving from a home where the whole fridge was mine to a place where it was only 25 percent mine. I was going to have to do some major downsizing.

And that's where this story begins. Me and the cat, cleaning the fridge. Just us and the condiments. I couldn't remember the last time I used the ginger - garlic marinade I found in my door, much less the sweet onion mustard that looked like a tiny jar of earwax. Both went into the trash. Even Akeelah wrinkled her nose at some of what I found -- and she'll eat anything, alive or dead.

While I did find some items that were a little... um... fuzzy, green or lumpy (occasionally all three), it was also kinda fun. It was like when you clean out your closet and get rid of crappy stuff you never wear, but while you're downsizing you also discover awesome stuff you forgot you had. Last time I did this, i found a great pair of tall brown cowboy boots I forgot I owned. This time, cleaning my fridge, I found my favorite homemade barbeque sauce -- made by a friend in another state and hands down the best I'd ever had.

Because it was so good and I'd forgotten about it, I thought perhaps I should open the jar and just make sure it was still a) good (not expired) and b) good (delicious). Basically, I wanted to stick my finger in and taste it. So before twisting off the top, I absentmindedly gave the bottle three really good, solid shakes so as to ensure all the barbeque-y goodness was thoroughly mixed up.

And this is where the fun began.

The second I stopped this vigorous shaking, the smell of barbeque sauce was all around me. It was like I was swimming in the stuff because, well, I was.

When I looked up, my kitchen looked like a murder scene.

The cap must have popped off during the first hard shake, because my kitchen had become a meat-eater's dream come true: there was barbeque sauce on the floor, refrigerator, walls and counters. There were globs of barbeque sauce on the ceiling, which dripped down in great barbequey clumps onto my shoulders, which were covered in the sticky-sweet goo.

My face, hands, chest and legs were drenched in barbeque sauce.

Akeelah the cat sat befuddled, licking herself in the middle of the kitchen floor, her face, tail and paws completely slick with brown, delicious sauce.

And I collapsed on the floor of the room, hysterical with laughter and completely beside myself that I had just shook the entire bottle of barbeque sauce out on every flat surface (and some not so flat surfaces) of my kitchen. If somebody had walked in at that moment and seen me there, they would have immediately flashed back to the Scarface bathtub scene -- it looked that gruesome:

"You wanna fuck with barbeque sauce? You wanna get rough with me? Okay, say hello to my little friend, the loosened twist off cap!"

There was no way for me to go to another room for cleaning supplies without squishing and dripping sauce across my carpet and furniture, either, so right in the middle of the barbeque sauce bloodbath, I had to strip down to my underwear, throw away my clothes, and tip toe out to safety and cleaning materials.

Later, when the scene had been mopped up and the rags (and my clothes) thrown away, L came over. As she walked through the door the first words out of her mouth were "Uh, what's that smell?" I shrugged nonchalantly as the strange mix of barbeque sauce and 409 wafted through the apartment. She then went straight to the kitchen to throw something in the trash (remember -- the trash is full of the barbeque sauce scuffle carnage), and before I had a chance to warn her, she shrieked and jumped back, confused and shocked.

"Jesus Christ!" she gasped, peering into the mess of saucy clothes and rags, which looked now more than ever like a bloody mess. "What the hell happened?!!"

Let's just say I kill a condiment for fun, but for that barbeque sauce, I carved it up reeeal nice.

[God, I hope you get that reference.]

July 09, 2007

Oh, eff yes.

Indiana Jones IV. It's really really happening. And that hat still looks sexy, I don't care who you are.

[Video of the first day of shooting HERE].

Is it normal to feel a little tingly all over?

July 06, 2007

Transience is bliss...

"You moved?" K's voice crackled a bit on the other end of the phone as I adjusted the volume so I could hear her over the 1970's pickup truck I drove in high school, which I was borrowing from my family to haul my furniture for the weekend. "Again??!"

"Yeah," I said. "But I swear it's the last time until I buy a house."

"Riiiight. I've heard that before."

"Seriously, this time I mean it."

"All I know is I'm not buying you another housewarming present."

"Ouch," I rolled my eyes. "You mean you're not going to bring over a bottle of wine which you then proceed to drink all yourself? Bummer."

"Touche," K laughed. "Okay, gotta go. Good luck!"

Yep, that's right: I moved. Again. Last weekend.

After a year and a half of Akeelah (my Abbyssinian) and I living alone in a cushy two-bedroom in the middle of Kirkland, we learned three things:'

1. Living alone means you can spend a lot of time totally naked (!!!)

2. Living alone costs more, and there's nobody to hold you accountable for not washing dishes or watching The Notebook three times back to back (both a good and a bad thing).

3. Living alone means you occasionally stub your toe or get bit by a huge spider or choke on something and are completely convinced you're going to die and your friends will finally find you a week later lying on your kitchen floor naked and blue with those toe-separators between your left toes and nail polish splattered everywhere, your cat perched on your cold (but still perky!) chest, licking your dead face. (um, a bad thing).

So, even though I have twice in the last two years sworn I wouldn't do it again, Akeelah and I moved last weekend. Into the master bedroom of a really beautiful, large house I found for me and three acquaintences just down the street from my old place. I gave my old place to my best friend, who has yet to experience the strange wonders of living alone.

More on the move (involving barbeque sauce, football and garbage -- no, really) coming soon...