Whirlygig: 51

Out on the Town

The Drifters
There are those people in your life who keep up on a daily basis or at the least weekly. They're good candidates for a phone call if you show up missing, God forbid. These are the ones to whom you tell your secrets, fears and dreams. Most often you carry confidential information on them as well.

I'm fortunate to have two girlfriends for this who are worth their weight in platinum, but what about the men in my life? Hmm, are men good confidants? Are they there for the everyday stuff? Would they come running with plunger in hand?

Well, men are good for some things. All joking aside, just like some friends are the best ones, others are the sometimes ones and others I exchange occasional e-mails or, at the very least, Christmas cards, so is the pattern with the men of my life.

For instance, Christian is a longtime buddy I know from my hometown and tell most anything. He's a great flea market companion, house tour participant and dinner group member. We dish and giggle. I have genuine affection for him, but he's gay. He strikes out on meeting my physical needs, but he's still a key player in my life.

Macy is a flaming heterosexual guy who my gay friends would love to convert and my girlfriends often remark looks years younger than 39. More than one has offered to take him off my hands. I'm not offering him as human sacrifice, and he admits he would do anything for me but draws the proverbial line in the sand at 'putting out.' We see each other once or twice a week usually running or something outdoors, grab a meal and bond.

This week we shopped at Target for a new cordless phone, ate at Schlotsky's and hung out like best friends. He definitely scratches my itch and falls into the category of middle-of-the-night emergencies — I am there. Where is the problem? He wants to take it to the next level. I like the level we're on.

Which brings us to the drifters in my world. Drifters are the guys whom I have some limited history with, attraction to and distance built in. In the case of Matt, we dated a couple of years ago but flunked getting past the four-month mark. He calls now and again to check in or check out if I want to get laid. Well, at least if we get down to brass tacks, I think that's what he's calling for. It's good to hear from him, but I'm not sure I want to re-open our sexual past.

I did go grab a pizza with him at Dewey's recently and brought up the idea of drifters to him. I was hoping to make the point that something is lost when we speak so infrequently. There's a lack of connection and, for me, incentive, much like a mediocre dining experience — i.e., the food was OK but not good enough to go back. He didn't like that analogy and said he has insight to things people closer to me don't have since he sees me rarely as opposed to often. Really? Does he see a new haircut or what?

Another type of drifter is really a drifter in that he's drifting back into the picture. This would be Tom. He's recently come back to the area from Marblehead, and we went to the Vineyard and later Sitwell's to catch up. He's as beautiful as ever and shares a great deal of passion for the arts, but after not being in touch for over five years we're reduced to pals. Yes, I could take him for a roll in the hay, but instead we rolled our eyes and laughed about everything.

The last drifter on the menu of my life has to be Paul. He's a special case. There's enough distance built in our pseudo-relationship that having a meal together is like scheduling a meeting with the Pope. When his plane does touch down, Paul will ring me up after the dust settles to touch base. It's really more like he charms the pants off of me. I think I'm having an affair with Paul, though both of us are single — yet we both have someone else in our lives. Does this make it wrong?

I believe that people tell us what we need to know if we're listening. Paul told me ever so bluntly over dinner at Sonoma that he could offer me an occasional orgasm. Of course, the context of the conversation softened it a bit, but I agree it's hard to hear. I like Paul in ways I can't explain. I put up with his brand of crab because it's periodic. I'm not sure we'd like each other 24/7.

Recently I admitted I was struggling a bit and that being in the shadows of his life was cold. I told him ever so gently that being with him was hard. He came back with, 'Now you see the trouble I'm having.' We must be hopeless.

— Wendy Robinson

Gas Attack
Last Friday night I was all set to spend the night curled up on my couch watching TV. In case you didn't know, November is sweeps month. It's one of the times of the year where new and interesting shows are on for four solid weeks. Either last Friday was an off night or maybe I'm too cheap to buy cable, but there was nothing worth watching at all on TV.

After an hour of constant channel surfing, I decided to head up to The Comet to see if my friend Shannon was up to anything for the night. She was just about to get off work and was ready to go out to dinner. It took us 15 minutes to decide on a place to go. Shannon is a near-vegetarian — she eats fish — and we couldn't think of anything in Northside that had a decent vegetarian meal that wasn't overpriced. We ended up going to the Red Pepper in Clifton on McMillan, showing up close to 20 minutes before closing time, with rock star parking.

Our waitress was a very nice and sweet younger Chinese woman who didn't have a very large vocabulary of English, but what words she knew she spoke perfectly. She did, however, have trouble with the word 'Welcome.' Anytime we'd say 'Thank you,' she'd just say, You're wel.' It was so adorable. Every time she said it, I just wanted to reach up and hug her.

Shannon, as usual, ordered the appetizers. This time around she ordered Cheese Wontons and Salt and Pepper Calamari. Her entrée was Vegetable Delight with Thai Hot and Sour Soup. I ordered Sesame Chicken with the normal Hot and Sour Soup. The highlight of the meal was the Thai soup — unlike my Hot and Sour Soup, it was actually warm and had plenty of spices.

Halfway through my meal, I noticed that Shannon hadn't touched her entrée, and I asked her if anything was wrong. She whispered, 'I'm a little gassy.' She sounded so much like my grandmother, I couldn't help but laugh.

'Go ahead and let one rip,' I told her. 'It might make you feel better.'

She said, 'I would, but the seats are covered in vinyl and I know it would just amplify the sound.'

I didn't feel right eating my food with her in so much pain and not being able to eat, so we asked for to-go boxes.

During our ride back to The Comet, while waiting for the light at Clifton and Calhoun to turn green, Shannon said, 'So R.L., we've been friends for quite a while.' I've had women for best friends for about as long as I remember, and I've learned that when a girl brings up the 'friend' question, something bad is going to happen. Knowing this I still said, 'Yes.'

Then she quickly became less gassy, and we reached what I call the second level of friendship between a girl and a guy. The first level is when you can burp in front of each other. The third level is when you can, in the words of my mother, have a bowel movement with the other person in the same bathroom.

After desperately rolling down the window, I prayed that we'd put off that third level for a while longer.

— R.L. Newman

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