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Smoke and Mirrors

Then again, ANYTHING Jon Hamm does is sexy...

Then again, ANYTHING Jon Hamm does is sexy…

There’s an undeniably perverse sex appeal to smoking that transcends rhyme or reason.

I know, I don’t like it either. It’s a bad penny that keeps showing up in your pocket, covered in grime, but somehow still works. I can’t help seeing it and thinking, “Yea, alright then. I’ll let it slide.” Somehow still ups the tally.

The guy from this week (yet to be named; I’m waiting to see if date two occurs) is a smoker. Said he’s quitting, but I suspect that’s a dating ploy. So many people list is as a dealbreaker, he’s probably adapted to social norms. I’d much rather people be unapologetic. The Mistake was a smoker, and didn’t claim otherwise; he simply made sure I had a full drink and was content before popping outside for a quick one. But unlike with him, this week I joined.

When a date smokes, I usually send them out on their own and amuse myself talking to the server/bartender/surrounding patrons. I’m perfectly comfortable taking care of myself, and I appreciate the added proof to the guy that I don’t need his constant presence to enjoy my night. I’m not clingy, and don’t require incessant attention. It’s monotonous.

Unless you smoke gross cigarettes. A coworker of mine smokes something nasty, and each time we talk after a break outside, I have to fight gagging. And these excursions occur every twenty minutes. I don’t know which poison of choice he carries, but the smell trails after him like a shadow of ash and odor. It’s awful.

Some don’t bother me; I think it’s the more natural tobacco. The scent triggers memories of college parties and nights with Big Bro’s friends in Philly or home. It’s basement shows and late-night rages, wandering South Street for pizza and following DJ sounds to a new dive. They’re good memories. And I smoke hookah anyway, so not all tobacco rubs me wrong. As a social smoker, I see the shared enjoyment of it. The communal moments circled around a shisha or ashtray. The particular intimacy of a shared cigarette, or leaning to accept someone’s offered flame. There is something illicit in such communion; it’s dark and alluring.

What does hit me wrong are the brands crafted solely for chain smokers. You can actually smell the addiction in the air. It’s all strained teeth, yellow skin, and cancer. It’s my aunt’s chemo, head scarves, and funeral. It’s the kids that barely survived our high school, and a few that didn’t. They smell of degenerates, death, and dumbasses. I might date smartasses, and a few jackasses– but I never date dumbasses. If a were ever out with a guy that smoked these, he would never reach date two. Kissing these smokers is like kissing an ashtray of disease. Just don’t do it. I don’t want all of my kisses to taste bad.

Gained serious cool points when I added that to my party resume.

Gained serious cool points when I added that to my party resume.

Thankfully, Mystery Man’s smoke doesn’t bother me. In fact, I switched it up and joined his breaks this week. He seemed a little more nervous than me, and relaxed more in his zone. Our bartender is an industry acquaintance, and was more than entertaining on the patio. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to ensure him that I don’t mind cigarettes, though I don’t personally partake. I mentioned hookah, and he perked up that he had never tried it but was curious. So I explained, and added that one of my goals during my time in the Middle East was to learn how to blow smoke rings. We compared notes on the easiest way to make them, and promised I’d show him a few great spots if he’d like. I think this is when the date turned to more comfortable level for us both. The chemistry ignited and caught fire.

So he’s an interesting one. He’s older (a topic to be discussed in my upcoming article, “What’s Your Number?”), taller (despite size not always mattering, I really do enjoy a 6″4 guy), and new to the area. I love new people. Showing them around, sharing the city as I know it… nothing beats it. Because they’re just as excited as I am; others who have lived here as long or longer than I are typically calmer or more jaded about our town. I prefer the excitement.

And he is subtly exciting. He’s old enough to know who he is, what he wants, but young enough to still want something new. He lives rather far out in suburbia, and deeply regrets it– something I find attractive. I only want to see people interested in being in the middle of it all. He is rather good at dropping the most interesting comments into conversation in the most quietly unassuming way. Instead of asking if I like Doctor Who, he mentions how our topic is like an episode. (And I fucking love Doctor Who– very geek chic.) While talking about how he didn’t start drinking until his later-20’s, he modestly credited it to having to be out on his own at age 17, being responsible with a full-time job instead of partying. In lieu of declaring the much-sought-after ability to keep rhythm and dance, he broke off mid-thought and said he loves the blues tune the band was playing, and the inspiration to dance was distracting him. He loves live music, but also likes to be able to hear the person he’s with? Alright, then– let’s move to the back bar, where it’s a little quieter. And hey, there’s even a real fire back there! (Both figuratively and literally.)

Dating suspense: drives me almost crazy enough to smoke.

Dating suspense: drives me almost crazy enough to smoke.

He’s comfortable with who he is. He admitted the first thing he drank was a period of Rumplemints (of which he had to get the bartender to hit me a shot, since my lack-of-girly-drinking had never had it). So maybe he actually is unapologetic in personality; he laughed enough at himself for it, and maintains it’s a delicious liquor. He mentions his experiences being single in DC in a relaxed way, and has no problem with questions. He asks some on his own, too. By the end of the night, he offered to drive me home. We parked outside my house to finish a conversation long enough to make me wonder if I should kiss him. But I refrained; I made the first move twice with him already. First, in contacting him; second, in asking him out. I know he’s older, but he needs to make the next move.  I need him to make the next move.

When I mentioned earlier in the night that I usually go to Madam’s on Thursdays for salsa and karaoke, he looked thoughtful and said he could probably make it. So I texted him yesterday that my friends are definitely going; he has an early flight Friday, and said maybe. Today, I texted that I promise the roof patio will be open to smoke this time, and I promise I won’t make him do birthday cake shots with the bartender again. He wrote back laughing. I understand flights and late nights don’t mix, but I can’t help hanging on the suspense if he’ll put in the effort. (And therefore judging a possible lack of it if he doesn’t show.) He’s attractive, tall, older, interesting– and fuck me, he looked hot smoking those damned cigarettes.

I don’t know if his smoke is hiding mirrors or if this is a genuine and sustainable interest, but color me intrigued.

Holidazed and Confused

Bahahahaha... me in a nutshell

Bahahahaha… me in a nutshell

Overwhelmed with scheduling holiday parties, making sure you don’t miss out on cultural events, or tracking down those seasonal activities you always seem to miss? Or the worst: not taking advantage of those favorite seasonal beers/drinks finally back for winter? [Speaking of which, where did my whiskey-nog run off to….]

Yea, I have trouble with that, too. Not just the leaking-glass issue, but keeping the season straight. Nothing is more traumatic than finding out you RSVP’ed to five different parties on Saturday, but Friday is empty. OH, THE HORROR.

So I’ve added a new page to help. All my favorites are there: family favorites like the Zoo’s lights and the Nat’l Christmas tree at the W.H… to non-family-friendly classics like bartender competitions and late-night holiday shenanigans. My personal mission: as many beer/liquor sponsored holiday parties as possible. I have two this week alone. The page is constantly under construction as the days tick by, so keep in touch!

My next week:

Wednesday, Dec 12:

HA! Get it? Get it?

HA! Get it? Get it?

Wednesday is my only full night off this week– so I’m spending it with my favorites. Sally, Theon, and any other of the crew interested in throwing back serious holiday cheer will be gathering at one of our local spots. I’m campaigning hard for the first one:

DC Brau’s Holiday Party, via Meridian Pint. As the Pint says, “the Brau boys will be in-house spreading holiday cheer as only they can”, with 19 Brau drafts at happy hour prices all night. I’ve sent out the alerts, folks– I’ll be there in full force. Those barrel-aged beers are MINE. And I adore the bartenders; you know my weakness. The younger ones are cute and flirty, the older ones are badass, and they all know their shit. Sit and ask for a pull of their favorite, and you’ll never be disappointed.

OR

Head to the Churchkey for  the unveiling of L’Interimaire, the new Bluejacket/ Dogfish Head collaboration. No cover, pours start at 6pm, and individually priced. As Dogfish Head holds a special place in my heart, this event might bring me unique seasonal cheer. We’ll see where I decide.

Thursday, Dec 13:

Beer in front of roaring fire: can actually be accomplished at Madam's Organ, first floor, back bar. Totally awesome.

Beer in front of roaring fire: can actually be accomplished at Madam’s Organ, first floor, back bar. Totally awesome.

Though I will likely go to Madam’s Organ for drunkeoke and my favorite salsa band, I’m insanely tempted to check out the Secret Stash Party at Scion. With over 50 beers not usually offered in DC, this is a brewnerd’s winter acid trip. Regardless of venue, I will likely be seeing a gentleman caller for our second date Thursday night. Mildly nervous. Details to follow.

Friday, Dec 14:

I’m stoked to finally check out an After Hours event at the Crime and Punishment Museum. This month, they celebrate the end of Prohibition with an all-out Roaring 20’s party, hosted by Canadian Club whisky. Throw on your pinstripes and flapper dresses, get to the speakeasy bar, and run free in the shut-down museum from 7-11pm. I’m so flustered, I don’t know which of my gangster getups to wear! Tickets may be purchased on the Museum site, or for half-off for one more day on Groupon— doesn’t matter for me, I’m on the guest list!

Team United Nations will merge again for a night of combined alliance for seasonal shenanigans.

Saturday, Dec 15th:

This coming weekend, my newest favorite neighborhood dive, The Pinch, is hosting a four-day Holiday Apocalypse Party. I’ve been a few times for food and late-night fun. The owner is a great guy, and passionate about quick, fantastic service, and the staff definitely deliver it. Plus, the downstairs stage throws me back to my years as a college live-band-party coordinator, and I mean that in the best way possible! Drinks are strong, beers are quite choice, and it’s all served with the neighborhood dive vibe we all love.

Friday the 14th is a JAILBREAK party, with four DJs bringing 70’s punk, glam, garage, and power pop on vinyl. Saturday night is an album release party for PRIESTS, with three additional performances. Sunday is Hangover Brunch Day, highly recommend the french toast and donuts; bottomless screwdrivers rock my world. The Apocalypse ends with a final show Monday, with DC’s the Sniff and a hometown throwback with Philly’s Cousin Brian. No Cover, any night. Killer atmosphere guaranteed. Wish Big Bro and Jules Junior were here to enjoy a joint DiscoCity-Philly bash.

ALCOHOLIC GOAL OF THE WEEK:

I want this in my mouth SO BAD. #dirtysecrets

I want this in my mouth SO BAD. #dirtysecrets

If I don’t track down and consumer the new Crown Royal Maple whisky, I will die. This is not a joke. I don’t joke about whisk[e]y/bourbon. Unless I tell you your drink doesn’t have any, because that’s a funny lie. If I made the drink, it’s in there. And the joke is, you’ll enjoy it.

So if you help me find this, I will buy you a drink (of your choice), on a night (possibly of your choice). I have been searching like a heartbroken, lost puppy every since my stepdad told me about this over Turkey Day. Message me here, or please tweet me, so I’ll receive news even faster. Thanks for keeping my holidaze cheery!

Late– for a Very Important Date!

Hint: never leave a girl waiting at the bar.

Hint: never leave a girl waiting at the bar.

Or at least it could have been.

Waiting for a date at Jack Rose, I learned more about Notre Dame basketball than I care to remember (my F’in Irish friends would be so proud). By the time he arrived, I had already turned one attractive guy down and had been chatted up by the charismatic bartender for a solid fifteen minutes.

Here’s the thing about being late: it’s not just what it says about your priorities on meeting me. It’s not just my time you waste. It’s about the interest you lose to the hotter, more ambitious men at the bar who are not only approaching me– they’re present. Too bad this kid struck out before he even arrived.

I swear, I gave him a chance. He was as tall as advertised. Definitely as smart. But just not as cute, and his lack of punctuality cost him. Time is money, no? This is why, when I give advice to guy friends, I tell them to get there early. That way, they don’t leave opportunity for this to occur. And bonus: they have time to down a Scotch to calm any nerves. [Or just to enjoy in solitude.] Honestly, that’s why I don’t mind arriving first. Just sucks for the guy when the unfortunate happens…

He shoots! He misses...

He shoots! He misses…

The dating collateral lost by running late creates a sub- or fully-conscious predisposition to judge any further dealings with you at that level. Before you even take your seat, I’ve seen cute guys. I’ve been hit on by cute guys. And now, I expect you to match or improve on my night so far. No matter how cute some of you are, these memories will remain. If, at the beginning, I think, “this bartender is hot”– at the end, I will still think, “this bartender is hot”. With the addition of “and my date is not”.

Sorry, but the truth’s a bitch. If he had shown up on time, I wouldn’t have had attractive experiences to get me all charged up for disappointment. I still wouldn’t have been attracted enough for a second date either way [probably not]. But it might’ve been a more successful date [maybe]. He at least might have had the chance to ask to meet up again [unlikely]. Instead, we had interesting conversation while I internally had to block myself from scoping out the bartender too often.

The night would've gone so differently if the bartender had been wearing that awful turtleneck...

The night would’ve gone so differently if the bartender had been wearing that awful turtleneck…

So while you’re banging you head against the metro door, cursing yourself for running late [or just not giving a shit, because you’re an asshole], just remember this: all those thoughts of the girl you’re meeting being stolen by some charming stranger at the bar? It isn’t paranoia. It’s actually happening.

Because while my date was struggling with the Red Line, I had a bourbon bought by the bartender who then introduced himself, asked again where I mentioned I work, and talked about returning the favor by coming to visit my bar sometime.

Guess who had my number in their pocket by the end of the night.

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