Edited by Rebecca Lomax
It Takes a Village
Imagine my surprise when my phone rang and on the other end of the line was a live person. Even better was the fact that it wasn't a telemarketer trying to switch my long distance carrier. No, it was Deborah, a girlfriend who I exchange e-mail, voicemail and snail mail with but hardly ever live conversation.
Deborah said, " We have to have dinner," code for "I need to talk and it has to be live."
We settled on the Dubliner, which is the city's original Irish pub. The Pub at Rookwood Mews and Claddaugh, however, are also fun choices where the soccer matches might be on the big screen and, better yet, the soccer enthusiasts might be drinking a pint. I suspected that Deborah wanted to discuss men, not window shop, so the Dubliner it was.
After putting in our order of fish 'n' chips and pale ale, she hit me with the loaded question, "Do you think I'm a bad person?"
Now I try to contain my meals with bad people to weeknights and this was a Friday evening, so Deborah passed muster. In fact, she and I have a lot in common.
We're both single, educated, working, gardening and coloring our hair. If she's bad, so am I.
I assured her that she has excellent company if indeed she's bad — though I inquired as to the origin of the question. Surely, she filed a tax return and bought Thin Mints from the neighborhood Girl Scouts.
She confessed that it's not that but the fact that she's seeing more than one man presently. OK, hasn't that been a part of dating life since Seinfeld and Friends came along? I can't be sure, since my television holds magazines and books, but don't we all occasionally double dip?
I shared with Deborah my current dilemma in the hope that she'd feel less bad and more normal. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago in Whirlygig, I was living life as an island when my man discovered that my version of "seeing other people" actually involved other people.
Imagine for a minute that denial isn't a river in Egypt but where some men prefer to find shelter when their favorite girl socializes with not just girlfriends but sometimes other men. When the haze clears, it can cause fireworks — which brings us back to Deborah.
I've been well aware that her love life consists of a meaningful relationship mixed with a utilitarian relationship and the occasional experimental relationship thrown in for flavor. Other discussions have explored as to how these add up to a pretty good set-up and how I also find that it takes a village. We don't want the names of the involved to end up being shouted in the square by the town crier, nor do we rub anyone's nose in how it all shapes up. Discretion is advised.
That said, it doesn't always work and you can end up exhausted or on an island when the village consists of a rebel. In Deborah's case, she felt like a bad girl — though, of course, she went on to tell me over the second pale ale how Tom likes it when she plays bad girl but it's really Peter who's the errant one because he doesn't call when he says he will. This, I pointed out, is why she has Jack, who's consistently a phone call away though unsuitable for holidays.
Sometimes it's like finding a four-leaf clover in the field and we crazy girls are lucky to have the mix that works, but other times it doesn't add up to much or it all blows up. What's a girl to do?
Proceed with caution and live like Heaven is here on Earth.
The Best Days Just Happen
Recently Bill and I had been kicking around the idea of buying a house. I've been renting since I moved to Cincinnati four years ago, and Bill has been renting here almost twice as long. We thought it was time to start getting something back for our money ... like equity.
But the home-buying process consumes your life once you begin it. After weighing all the options, viewing house after house and even applying for a mortgage, we sat down on Friday evening, looked at each other and decided we weren't quite ready yet.
It was a little disappointing, but we both would prefer to save more money first. And after the lengthy and sometimes heated discussion that led to our resolution to remain renters, there was much less on our minds for the remainder of the weekend.
By Sunday we were eager to claim the day as our own. Memorial Day weekend, open houses and a few busy Sundays prior made it feel like forever since we had a leisurely day to ourselves.
We racked up the bikes on the car and headed for the bike trail at Lunken Airport. It's one of our favorite spots to ride and it's a quick drive, so it's easy to do even on a weeknight. But a summer morning is best. Sunday was sunny but breezy enough to keep us cool.
The other great thing about Lunken is that there are usually at least a few young, scantily clad guys jogging, skating or biking, making the trip even more worthwhile. Sunday was no exception. We could have done without the hot-dogger type riding his bike with no hands — it's all fun and games 'til you wipe out — but he was at least entertaining.
Later we were back at home and in danger of napping the afternoon away, so we called Greg to see what sort of trouble we could get ourselves into. Greg was game, of course, so we went to Kenwood Towne Centre to see what there was to see.
Among other things, we strolled through Pottery Barn to see what was new and overpriced. I shop in malls so seldom anymore that my tolerance for them is quite low. But Pottery Barn is always fun because they do have neat accessories and you can usually spot at least one guy registering for his commitment ceremony. You can tell by the way they look at you. If there's one thing a queen can spot, it's three other queens ... especially in a home furnishings store.
We moved around to Lazarus, where Greg and I had intended to check out swimwear since the pools will be opening soon. While we didn't find anything to "suit" our tastes — nothing was short enough — one thing we would all have liked to try on was the lifeguard browsing in the section. Bill's reaction was something along the lines of "Yum." And guys that hot should never wear a shirt that says "STAFF" on it — that's just too provocative.
Disappointed I could no longer get a Bailey's shake because the Haagen-Dazs store has disappeared from the food court, we dropped Greg off and went home for dinner. But all wasn't lost. After dinner Bill put on his guilty grin and said, "I want to go to Aglamesis." So we blew all the calories from our bike ride (and then some) on our favorite sugary treats.
Not to be defeated, however, we went for a walk through Clifton up to Mt. Storm Park. The weather on Sunday was much milder than predicted, so it was a great evening to do so. In the end, we packed a lot into the day for having no plan to start with. But sometimes that's how the best days happen — they just happen.
The weekend was a blur. How original is that? But true, when you spend a lot of time with the same person, you begin to have the opposite of déjà vu, repeating the same stories over and over. But I digress....
Saturday, working on whim where decisiveness often fails us, we decided to go shopping. His goal was to buy underwear for me and mine was to find shorts for him. Our first stop at Kenwood Towne Centre was The Gap. I was touched and in awe, watching him cautiously pick out shorts. He wouldn't even take them off the rack without asking what kind and color I thought was acceptable.
I waited outside the dressing room until he came out and dragged me in with him. I felt a little motherly taking the shorts off the hanger to speed the process along and deciding if they looked right. It was hard to imagine with the long, black socks he refused to take off.
My man is pretty fashion savvy, but we're both more winter weather dressers than summer clothes fanatics, as our ghostly white legs will attest. That was by far the shortest time I've ever spent in a dressing room.
After The Gap, we proceeded to two more stores, where we couldn't find a happy ground between middle age wear and juvenile hang-off-your-ass gear.
"I will not wear Dockers," he said. Thank St. Vincent DePaul for that.
Finally, I gave up and parked myself at the Lancôme counter, where I had Buff No. 2 slathered on my chin, and he went solo. When he returned with Gap bag in tow, I smiled.
Now it was my turn. I love lingerie, especially when someone else is buying, but these days bras are made with at least two inches of polyester padding or— worse yet— some unidentifiable liquid. And the gorgeous piles of underwear were turned over to reveal butt floss.
I'm not a prude by any means, but if I have to have a wedgie I'm not gonna pay for it. My boyfriend doesn't even like them, further cementing my distaste for the fashion industry's swindle of charging more money for far less fabric.
We had lunch at Andy's, the Mediterranean restaurant in Walnut Hills. The seemingly well-kept secret is in a transitional period, expanding their space. A wall of wine beside our table forced me to quiz myself: how do I love thee? Let me count the wines.
My boyfriend ordered a pita wrap with marinated chicken and tahini. I had the unwrapped version over rice. Our swarthy, bald server — I called him "Bruiser" — looked like he wanted to hang me for requesting ketchup. But I felt sorry for him when he tried to carry all our plates away with one hand and, with a grunt, nearly dropped them.
After a night at the dingy and desperately-in-need-of-air-conditioning bar that is Top Cat's, where I saw, among others, Holy Crap (a band name I can't help but smile when I say), we awoke without hangover and headed downtown to the upbeat and soon-to-be-legendary Hamburger Mary's.
I'd heard about Hamburger Mary's, but obviously the abbreviated version, as I suffered what can only be called culture shock when entering. Our host, a friend of my boyfriend, was straight (well, sort of) out of a John Waters film. The movie posters and flamingos hanging from the ceiling confirmed what the red nail polish of our host didn't. When we were waiting on our table, I was surprised (if not slightly offended) that a guy facing us was staring blatantly at me instead of my boyfriend. He's handsome!
Two skylights beamed light down on us and I stared at a mauve wall before me. It looked like lipstick when you remove the cap, having forgotten to lower it. Mashed mauve, I will call it.
It was a fun place, but I'm a French Breakfast girl — cigarettes and coffee. This would be a fun place to come at night. My stomach wasn't ready for the combo of hollandaise sauce and dance music. I watched nauseously as my boyfriend quickly inhaled a steak. In the eating Olympics, he'd be a close competitor for a gold medal.
Spying a poster of her, I decided that Debbie Mazar was my fashion hero. When I pointed it out to my boyfriend, he asked, "Is that a French maid outfit?"
I stared incredulously at him. No wonder he couldn't pick out shorts. Lessons are in order, I thought.
"I can see you in that," he said, smiling. Training unnecessary, I concluded.