Whirlygig: 62: Out On The Town

Poets prove passé as the reality of shopping hits

'Bachelorette' Party
Birds and bees, flowers and trees, sugar and spice and everything nice. Hmmmm. I seem to remember something about these things from childhood. Then we go right into damsels in distress and strong virile men riding in on white, fire-breathing horses. It's no wonder that America seems obsessed with the likes of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette these days.

Of course, I never want to be left out of a party based on a trend or otherwise. So when invited by Shelly to join a few of her friends for the Wednesday night episode of the latest The Bachelorette, I said, "Sure. Wouldn't miss it."

Do I confess to only reading about these reality series though I still am not convinced there's any reality involved? I decide to keep that tidbit to myself and jump in with the girls cold.

Isn't that what a blind date is like? Minimal information given by the set-up much like a TV Guide, and then just wait and see what happens.

I show up at 9 o'clock, which the hostess Shelly informs me at the door is late. Trista and her menagerie of men came on a half-hour ago. She grabs my bottle of wine and grapes brought as a peace offering if I can't resist my urge to whine for real.

The gang consists of four single women who I've only heard about, including one Parisian visitor to our lovely Cincinnati. All are huddled around the room with wine glasses and attention poised on the job at hand. Trista must find her prince.

Gee, I should have brought a flow chart and hit Starbucks on the way if I'm going to follow the logistics of this ordeal. It isn't as simple as I thought it was going to be. All the guys seem normal enough for a spin around the block, and that's all that ought to be legal in six to eight weeks of dating anyway. Think of all the trouble women and men alike could save if we made rational decisions instead of basing them on the lust quotient.

It's hard to predict how chemistry, timing and locales are going to play into the lust quotient. It certainly seems at times like a crap shoot to me. So let's accept it and pick the hottest male specimen.

The French guest likes Ryan, whom I call Poetry Boy. He has boyish good looks and looks out from under his fringe of bangs with a certain innocence that's accentuated by his poetry-writing skills. He even gives Trista a stuffed animal. Give me a break! Is this the county fair?

Excuse my cynicism, but is Poetry Boy really going to hold up under real-life pressures? For example, what happens when the rent's due? The baby has an ear infection? Trista has PMS? Will Poetry Boy submit a sonnet to the landlord, sing to the baby and put rose petals on the master bed? Forgive me. This is when we need a man, not a boy.

I escape to the kitchen during the commercial so I don't offend the group of women who are all soft on Poetry Boy. I stare out the window and think about one of my favorite romantic types that crossed my path.

His name was Peter and he was, as you might have guessed, an artist. Peter was gorgeous, in touch with his feelings and painted pastoral landscapes in oil that take a long time to create and even longer to sell. Peter loved Kaldi's Coffee House and spent a lot of time looking for inspiration in their collection of books. Eventually he took his easel and his paints to France for the summer — which was just about the time I realized I was tired of rose pedals on the bed and being man enough for both of us. For all I know he's still painting and hanging out in coffeeshops. I'd love to be his friend and exchange Christmas cards, but loving him was never going to meld with my type-A personality.

Putting my prejudices aside, I return to the program, picking the one wearing the open collar with his sport coat. He has a grin and glint in his eyes that says, "I know you aren't the good girl you pretend to be and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it." I don't know his name, his occupation or the location of his hometown. Who cares? This is a fantasy anyway.

In fact, why do any of us have to pick just one? I say pick Poetry Boy for Sunday night with Chinese food and fortune cookies because I'm going to need Chinese folklore with him. On Wednesday send over Funny Guy to make me laugh with a pizza and action flick. For the weekend, I want Mr. Open Collar with the smirk that says, "Sushi is fine but keep the video. We'll never finish that foreign film, kiddo."

— Wendy Robinson

Shopping Therapy
After finally getting my lazy butt off of the couch Saturday after watching cartoons for nearly four hours, I open up my door to a thermal surprise. It's nearly 35 degrees outside! It's been so long that it had felt above freezing temperatures outside. I feel like putting on a pair of shorts and going for a run. I quickly come back to my senses, however, and decide to go clothes shopping with my friend Jen instead.

I need to buy dress pants for work. Over the past four weeks, I've ripped the crotch in two pair of pants, broken the zipper in one and ripped off a belt loop in another. I honestly believe all my pants are shrinking in the washing machine.

Since we did the bulk of our Christmas shopping together downtown at Tower Place, we decide to go Rookwood Pavilion instead. It seems that everyone else in Cincinnati decided to go there also. We drive around for five minutes trying to find a spot. We even try driving really slow behind people as they head for their cars, without any success.

After a failed attempt of trying to follow Abiya, a Hip-Hop performer I'd seen the night before at Plush, as she left Wild Oats, we decide to go to the Kenwood area instead. Fortunately the parking lot at the Kenwood Old Navy store has plenty of spaces. I hadn't been to Old Navy since the "incident" a couple years ago when I'd gone to the Old Navy near Tri-County Mall with my old friend Leslie.

I know it's not cool to admit this, but I'm a huge fan of Hall and Oates. They were playing a remix of "Maneater" on the speakers and I was singing along loudly as I followed Leslie around the store as she shopped. After a couple of minutes of this, she told me to let her shop in peace. I stayed away from her until she headed for the checkout line.

In the five minutes it took the high­school-aged cashier to ring her items and process her check, I decided to give the poor guy a quick summary of the history of American retail since WWII. He gave Leslie a look of "Is this guy crazy?" Leslie just sighed and said, "I'm really sorry about him."

This trip with Jen goes a lot smoother. I don't know any of the songs they're playing on the speakers, plus I'm a man on a mission.

It takes me a total of two minutes to find four pair of khakis. It takes Jen about 10 minutes to find an outfit, but then she has to try her clothes on. This comes as a complete shock to me. The last time I tried on clothes might have been when I went shopping for back-to-school stuff with my mom when I was a freshman in high school.

It takes her about 15 minutes to try on clothes. I go a little stir crazy waiting around in the store. The guys' section is really small, and it looks kind of creepy when a guy in his 30s is hanging around the women's section for that long.

After we buy our clothes at Old Navy, Jen decides we needed to go to Kenwood Towne Centre to finish our shopping. This involves another five-minute drive around the parking lot. We gut it out this time and find a spot.

Much to my dread, Jen heads straight for The Limited. There's absolutely nothing for a guy to do at The Limited but look pathetic and out of place. I just follow her around like a puppy dog while she walks from one end of the store to the other looking for a black top, a pair of earrings and two bracelets. With the stop in the fitting room, it takes us 30 minutes to get out of that store.

The best part of going to Kenwood Towne Centre is walking back to the car. I create a new game while we're in the parking lot. Since the lot is so full, we have cars following us as soon as we step foot into the lot. I start walking up to random cars, pretending that I'm getting in it, which causes one or more cars to stop and wait for the spot. Then I look up and cross over to the next isle and start the process all over again.

Jen just quickly walks away and heads for her car without me. I think she's afraid of the five cars I've managed to trick just on the way to her car. I can't wait to pull my new prank during next year's Christmas shopping season.

— R.L. Newman

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