Organizing my mother and sister, Liza, for an outing takes coaxing and cajoling, but determination was in order for 2002. When I read about The Vagina Monologues a few months ago, it went down on the calendar. Everyone everywhere has seen it, and darn it, we finally are gonna get it!
To warm up, we saddled up to the bar at Bella and couldn't see a man for miles. Tons of ladies were decked out and filling up their bellies, prepared to hit the Jarson-Kaplan Theater promptly at 8 p.m. When the Aronoff is active, downtown Cincinnati streets, sidewalks and restaurants just bustle and this night was hopping. The three of us liked our bird's-eye view from the upstairs bar so well that we opted to order our dinners there. The bartender was cute and attentive with real appreciation for the way the women in Cincinnati were en masse for The Monologues.
He confessed, "I'm not sure what goes on over there ... but y'all seem to like it." Well, y'all seem to like what goes on 'down there', now don't ya?
Actually, a little comical commentary on any subject is fun in the dead of winter. This subject isn't all that funny most days with friends and family members having female health issues and scares now and again.
Mom, Liza and I settled into our balcony seats. The air was filled with chatter and excitement as if we had all scored tickets to the Final Four instead of to live theater discussing cootchee.
When the stage illuminated the three actresses in their red and black outfits with red coffee mugs, I was struck by the intimacy of the smaller venue of the Jarson-Kaplan Theater and how women make each other feel right at home quickly. Could it be because we are nesters and gatherers? Or do we just like a night out on the town without a man in tow asking, "When does it start? When is it over? What is it about? Why am I here?" I counted about 10 guys in the audiences and then promptly forgot them when the show started.
All three ladies on stage struck me as extremely talented but your average "girl" just the same. Sitting next to my mother who is in her early 60s made no difference as every woman in attendance was giggling at the references to "down south" and "there." When The Monologues referenced the Bermuda Triangle, I shook my head in agreement. The Average Bob monologue succumbed Liza and I both to knee slapping.
When the lights came up all too soon, Mom, Liza and I all picked a different favorite vignette, but the fellowship between us from the evening was warm and fuzzy. I spoke up quickly and admitted that I was craving Graeter's Mocha Chip ice cream, not really knowing why, but Liza said it was because Mocha Chip is orgasmic.
I guess all the talk about our womanhood was not lost on me. We scurried up the hill to Clifton to satisfy my wanton urges!
If there is one aspect of love that transcends all demographics, it is the inability to maintain a friendship with an ex. Traditionally I have either cut off most or all contact with them to spare my sanity, or I have attempted a casual friendship that eventually became tiresome.
The one exception is Jason.newspaper boy who lived across the street and for whom I made the mistake of falling head over heels, causing the worst breakup I have ever had and a new rule: no dating in the neighborhood.
The second became known as Jason 2.0 -- The Upgrade -- until I determined that Jason 1.0 did not warrant my acknowledging his existence. Then 2.0 became known as Big Jason (and 1.0 became known as What's-His-Face, Dumb Ass, etc). To this day people are capable of reading nothing but innuendo from the nickname Big Jason, despite the fact that Jason 2.0 was 6 inches taller and twice the musculature of What's-His-Face. But there would be no mystique if I provided verification for the nickname, so I let my public speculate. Plus, since What's-His-Face technically doesn't exist for me anymore, the name Jason now refers exclusively to Upgrade Jason anyway.
Nomenclature aside, we hadn't seen each other since early December, so we were both ready for a good catching-up session. We went to Uno's in Clifton on Thursday for dinner, and to check out the latest in waitstaff. Jason and I both see the same therapist (what can I say, I'm good for business) so we always have great talks about how we're doing in our sessions, how our relationships are going and how the servers are rating.
I was glad to get the chance to tell Jason again (and to remember myself) how glad I am that we have remained friends. There are some people in life you are better off for having known, and it's nice when one of them is an ex. It also helps that, from what I can tell, What's-His-Face no longer lives across the street from me, thus allowing me to further free myself from the memories of ... Whatever-His-Name-Was. (I guess there are also people who make you better off when they move to a new zip code.)
January can be kind of a hard time because of all the philosophical wonderment about the year just past and the year ahead, and it's good to have someone who can help you keep everything in perspective. And who knows you better than an ex? Maybe we should create a new holiday. Exmas: the day to appreciate an ex who still enriches your life. If you're lucky enough to have one, make sure you let him or her know. Your words are the best gift for Exmas.
Up and Down Main
With a new job sometimes come social obligations. When I took over Crystal's position she introduced me to people at the work place. I felt it necessary to help celebrate her birthday.
She wanted everyone to meet at her place and then drive in her car to the Rhythm and Blues Café. For me, it's quicker to drive downtown myself. Ever since I got my own car, I like driving solo because it solves several problems: You can leave when you damn well want, you don't end up going home with some fellow and you can leave when you damn well want.
After driving around the block four times searching for a parking place, I found rock-star parking in front of Main City Bar and decided to walk. Nothing's more ridiculous than paying for parking on Main. Nothing's interesting enough to validate it. While walking down Main, I ran into a female cop standing outside Mr. Pitiful's and asked directions.
"See those neon lights?" she asked
I didn't tell her that no, I'm blind as a bat. "Yes," I said.
"Well, near the end of those lights on the left. You'll be okay," she said. "I'll watch you walk."
It was sweet of her to do that, but I'm not all that threatened by Main Street, maybe since I went to high school in Over-the Rhine. I'm more likely be hassled by an intoxicated suburban yuppie than a native of the neighborhood.
I avoided eye contact with passers-by. One said "Hey Cinderella" to me as I walked past. It made me laugh as I envisioned my Chevy becoming a pumpkin and my black coat a massive white gown.
I found the "R & B Café" and went in, happy there was no cover charge, as a cover band was playing. It seems weird to play music you could hear by tuning the radio to Q102, which I wouldn't do anyway. These guys weren't too bad. They played a few songs I liked, even if they missed a couple of the lyrics. I took a seat at the bar since I am too blind to spot any work people, and the crowd was so homogenous I couldn't differentiate anyhow.
Finally, a girl I sort of recognized approached and re-introduced me to co-workers whose names I should very well know by now. I'm beginning to wonder how old you have to be before the onset of Alzheimer's. Then I saw Crystal, the birthday girl, who was so happy I'd come, it made me glad I didn't bail out.
Eventually, a couple of 40-year-old guys surrounded me and Crystal gave me the "are you okay?" look. I'm used to shark-infested waters, so I smiled that I was fine. After a couple of beers and a longer-than-expected conversation about illegal substances with one of the "sharks," I decided to make my way out. He'd wanted me to get high with him, but I turned him down. I graduated from weed about the time I graduated high school. But, if I ever need a used car, I know who to call. Crystal thanked me again for coming which made me wish I had conversed more with my coworkers.
Back on Main Street, I ran into the lady cop I met earlier. She had since multiplied into five cops, which made me wonder what was so exciting about Mr. Pitiful's. I will someday explore. Hopefully, it doesn't live up to its name.
"Did you find it?" the policewoman asked, smiling.
"Yeah, thanks," I said, grateful, but quickly passing.
I ducked into Main City Bar, where I spent the remainder of the evening. Seated at the bar was an old flame, Steve, who I had taken an anthropology class with in college. We reminisced a bit and laughed about our professor's theory on why women have breasts -- so men would have something to hold onto during rear-entry sex. I wonder if he ever considered mammary glands the primary cause?
Steve offered to take me out to dinner using the same mental Rolodex Dennis had used two weeks before. (That evening, by the way, went downhill after Dennis bragged about his travels, spoke pompously to me in Spanish which I don't speak, and corrected my pronunciation of "habanero.") As for Steve, I'm looking forward to his call, I just hope his memory is better than mine.