History Class

goodnight kiss

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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.

Does size matter?

I swear I’m going as her for Halloween one of these years– any takers to be my Roger?

Get your minds out of the gutter– I’m talking about height.

As a rather tall woman myself [stretching out to an often-contested but even 6″], height has played quite a role in my life. But hey– if Jessica Rabbit was a statuesque sex symbol with a shorter, adoring man, then anything is possible, right? I keep repeating a favorite book quote in my head while thinking about this post, “We’re all the same height lying down.” (Kudos if you comment where it’s from!)

There are some pretty ridiculous variables that go into attraction and compatibility, so there’s no point in borrowing trouble and making up new ones… but size is undeniable. Tradition– and basic animal instinct– dictates a larger male/ smaller female dichotomy. But is it required, or just a socially-learned habit?

I don’t know how many times girlfriends joked that it would be great if I were a guy, because I’m their favorite height. Or guy friends tried flattering me by saying they would totally date me if I were shorter– as if that would make a girl feel better, you goobers.

My new standard response. LOVE IT

Apparently it doesn’t bother one of my guy friends (let’s call him Theon, because he’ll like that). He’s dated girls an inch or so taller, and had no problem with it; he actually thinks it’s girls that are ones uncomfortable with the role reversal. A girlfriend and I responded that we always thought it was guys with the height hang-up, and that taller women make them feel less manly or something. Theon laughed and said that he always feels like a man, so he doesn’t have a problem with it… for the most part. “Only, when you’re holding hands with a taller girl, your arm lengths are mismatched and it gets tiring bending your elbow all the time. It’s very hard to look cool with the awkward elbow…”

Awkward elbows aside, I’ve heard the same from several other average-height male friends. My co-worker [of the “Shit Charming Guys Say” article] says that taller women have a certain attitude that he finds attractive– he often tells me that he loves the way I walk around the restaurant with this calm confidence that says “don’t mess with me”. He then proceeds to attempt an imitation, and always fails miserably with a huge grin on his face. But his bottom line is that height doesn’t matter so much as body type. The taller women he’s dated were up to four inches taller, but curvy or slim; compared to his built, stocky figure, it matches. So I’m thinking that Pop-eye and Olive Oil might have been an appropriate representation?

Men don’t have to be taller to be charming.

My romantic history is in no way restricted to 6″4 giants– I’m an equal-opportunity dater! A number of past interests were just my height (which means slightly shorter, since I’ve great posture and a lot of guys don’t), and a few shorter. One was even significantly shorter– by a good five inches. I mostly attribute that to the fact we were friends first (persistence really can earn you a ticket out of the Friend Zone!) Another factor, though, was body type. He might’ve been shorter, but he was stocky and muscular, and I never felt big around him. Despite our reversed vertical roles, he always made me feel properly portioned and feminine.

My problem has always been that dancing and music play very big roles in my life, and mechanical issues arise with shorter guys. Especially since I also like wearing heels on occasion. So it has a lot to do with attitude and self-esteem. Do you have the confidence to date someone of the opposite height-expectation? It worked out the one time with my shorter guy, we danced naturally and had a blast with it. If you’re attracted to them and get along, isn’t the rest just a bunch of details to iron out later? You can always figure out a way to hold hands without the awkward elbow somewhere down the road.

Last night, I met up with a guy that I knew was an inch or so shorter [let’s call him the Classicist, over our shared love of ancient history]. He’s rather cute, and intriguing as hell, so I rolled with it and figured I’d have interesting conversation over drinks at the very least. It went better than well– by the end, we both admitted we hadn’t had such a great time talking to someone in a long while. And he dances; when the subject came up, he jumped on it enthusiastically. At the very end, as we decided we both had fun and would like to meet up again, he leaned in for a good night kiss– that also went very well. So I think we might be able to figure our vertical differences out… we’ll see.

Inside Scoop: The Genuine Article

Ah, the promised details on an actual guy I’m seeing– yes, folks, step right up! See the guy-wonder that has survived more than three dates with yours truly! [Well, you can’t actually see him, since this is a nominally-anonymous blog. Sorry Charlie, no bananas.]

Adorably awkward, right?

So here’s the scoop: boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-go-for-jazz-and-beer, boy-kisses-girl-good-night-and-therefore-misses-last-metro-home, girl-spends-next-5-out-of-7-days-on-various-exploits-with-boy. Textbook, right?

Ok, ok, I know it’s not. I rarely make it to a third date with a guy, let alone introduce him to friends and invest that much time. Half of my chalks it up to a slow work week and high boredom level, but the other half has to be honest– he’s a truly great guy. He’s sincere, he’s attractive, he’s intelligent and funny. Like I’ve said before: he’s the genuine article. Everything about him screams all kinds of wonderful, desirable things like ‘well-adjusted’, ‘stable’, and ‘STD/addiction-free’. The biggest aspiration woven into every fiber of his subconscious being, though: ‘boyfriend’.

Which has me promptly wanting to turn-tail in the opposite direction for my first run since grade school gym class. [Yes, I’m aware of the absurdity of my reactions.] No, I’m not actually writing him off, and I’m certainly not running away. For full disclosure, I thought to be honest and include this gut response. At this point in my life, someone as emotionally mature as myself apparently freaks me out a little bit.. Now I understand why I sometimes make other guys back-pedal.

Date one: drinks at my favorite blues spot, Madam’s Organ. There was an amazing soul band playing, one of my favorite, crass bartenders working, and plenty of space on a Sunday night to talk without having to shout over drunken morons. We talked well past the time I should have cut him off to catch the metro, and the conversation was amazing. Everything from general background and music/books/etc tastes to aspirations and past intense experiences [getting jumped, moving from home, etc]. The good-night kiss outside the metro was memorable, and resulted in him missing the last train out of the city [he had to take a bus that took an extra hour, it was very romantic-comedy-esque]. An all around impressive, relaxed, and exhilarating first date.

Date two: coffee on my work break the next afternoon. I know, the next day? Already? Went to another personal favorite, Tryst Coffeehouse, and talked for hours. Again, hopping from jokes and society to deep personal stories. Even the heaviest topics weren’t conversation downers, though, just examples of real-life experience. It was liberating sharing that part of me without someone cringing because they don’t understand and pull away from knowing how to handle it. I don’t think I’ve told most of my new friends in DC even half of those major life events I shared with him.

How classically romantic, right?

Date three: I attended an event at the White House halfway through the week, and we met up on the National Mall after to stretch out in the sun and enjoy the weather. My first sunburn of 2012 was soaked in showing him hidden spots around the memorials. He asked where my favorite place is, so I showed him: I call it the Duck Pond. [It’s technically called Constitution Gardens Pond, but I prefer my name.] It’s a gorgeous spot by the WWII memorial with an island jutting into the water with a few willow trees and cherry blossoms. We walked out there, sat under a willow tree, and watched the ducklings learn to swim. [After a bunch of them fell asleep, he charged in a very 5-year-old manner that I still smile to remember.] It was all quite sweet and idyllic. The romantic-comedy trend persists.

What he doesn’t know is that for years, this is the place I’ve thought to eventually have my wedding ceremony. Since middle school, I’ve told my family that I’m going to get married on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial– everyone wants to have some epic nuptial scene, and I’m pretty damn sure that tops the best of them. After deliberating more recently, I don’t want a bunch of dumbass tourons wandering through my ceremony. Then I fell more in love with my Duck Pond. The island is a perfectly picturesque spot to say our vows, and then go take legendary wedding party pics on the Lincoln steps. [If I find out ANY of you take this dream from me, I will hunt you down and ruin the rest of your life. DON’T FUCK WITH MY UNIQUE WEDDING.]

Date four: a movie night in. On a Friday. Just us at my house. Here’s the deal, my dear readers. Up until the past month or so, I had spent less than a dozen weekend nights at home since moving here nearly a year ago. Those few nights were mostly due to insane work weeks, low funds, or intense illness– and even THAT rarely stopped me from going out with friends. I don’t stay in on weekends, and I definitely don’t do it to play house with a guy. So this is new. And it was wonderful. We ordered Thai, ate it in bed, shared music, and watched an off-genre zombie spinoff that blew my mind. [Thank you, Canada, Pontypool is absolutely brilliant.] We cuddled, and kissed, and again kept him well past the last train home. Whoops! So he stayed over for a DETERMINEDLY shenanigans-less sleepover. Yes, it was tough, but I didn’t regret it.

Date five: drinks and games with my friends at the bar. Went to a frequented local bar, The Red Derby, for beer, Jenga, and Pictionary. They liked him, he liked them, and it was another successful night. This sleepover was decidedly less-determined than the previous one, but also not regretted. I refer you to my RADD update on intimacy and attention spans. Since then, I’ve spent a full week of Me Time, including less-accessible contact with my Genuine Article. [Date six: He did come with me to see Hunger Games with a friend and her guy last night, though.]

Why is the beginning always the best?

Yes, I consciously acknowledge that I was distancing myself over the past week. No, I’m not entirely sure why. I’m mildly concerned this is a (500) Days of Summer situation. We really like each other, we’re both attractive and have a lot in common, but I just don’t think I’m interested in the same romantic lifestyle that he’s looking for. He’s always holding my hand, and had his hand on my leg or knee the entire movie. [I’m watching the HUNGER GAMES, sweetheart, I don’t want to play fucking footsies while some of my all-time favorite literary characters slaughter each other on screen. I’d like to get lost in the story, thankyouverymuch.]

Like I said in Chemistry Class, there should be way more sparks flying in the first few weeks, and far less windows into the casually affectionate future of a long-term relationship. I have a sneaking suspicious that he’s a border-line Serial Dater. I know, I know– that’s no bueno, guys. Not just because they need a girlfriend to feel whole, but more-so because I simply cannot relate to it. I’ve mostly been a single girl my entire life, and can’t grasp the idea of only feeling whole when with someone else. I’m whole all by myself. He usually has a year between relationships, apparently, but he still acts like my Serial Dater friends. But who knows, maybe he’s acting like a boyfriend not because he doesn’t know how to act single, but because he wants to act like a boyfriend with me. Scary thought.

So a month or so ago, I’d thought that I was open to finding a boyfriend [or letting him find me]. But maybe I’m not. Attribute it to the uneasiness of still being on the job-hunt, but I think being single suits my current life much better. It’s nice to have the consistency of this Genuine Article, and I like practicing my girlfriendly arts– but I doubt this will lead down any monogamous paths. Maybe it’s because he isn’t the right guy for that job; maybe it’s my the point in my life; maybe it’s just who I am. Who knows?

When I first watched (500) Days of Summer and this totally damn adorable montage from it, I gushed to myself that I wanted a guy that felt that way about me. But that’s only half of it, right? I want a guy that is tapping his toes in anticipation to see me, sure– but I want to act this way about a guy, too. Because it ends the way it does because the love in their relationship was one-sided, and no one wants that. I think I identified with the movie way more than I thought. This blog about my life isn’t a love story– it’s a story about love. And it isn’t over ’till it’s over.

Relationship Attention Deficit Disorder: it’s RADD!

“DC is like dating in Grand Central Station– everyone is coming and going and moving too fast to really see,” he tells us between sips of beer and over the music and noise of Marvin’s.

How to get guys to talk about their feelings: get them very drunk.

Sing me a song, piano man.

The other night at the bar, with most of the group respectably intoxicated, conversation swung over to our District dating world. I only knew the romantic backgrounds of two of the guys [one at the ‘interested but decidedly not committed’ level, and the other mixed-signals-confused], but then another of them [let’s call him Peter] pipes up with that line and floored me. Brilliantly put, my friend.

He threw his hands in the air dismissively and asked, “What’s the point?” With everyone coming and going so often, the city’s in a constant upheaval and no one stays put. Everything is always changing, which means when you do fall into a relationship– more by chance than anything else– it has to continually adapt to new surroundings. New friends, new places, new activities. We’re a city forever in transition, and our relationships follow suit.

He says we’re a city full of very attractive, very intelligent people– and I had to interject my addition of ‘very ambitious’– so it gets overwhelming. Maybe it’s just our personality differences, but those are the exact reasons why I do love dating in DC. The endless new people and captivating conversations have utterly fascinated me. I fully admit that it might be my newness playing a part in that– Peter and the guys have been here for years, whereas I’m still coming up on my first anniversary [I expect a big celebration, Washington!]. And yes, for once I’ll grant that my age might also have a hand in it– though I prefer to refuse the entire age premise.

One of the concerns for singles today is how long to hold out for 3rd base, and what that wait implies. Protest too much, and you’re a prude; immediate gratification makes you easy. A recent relationship developed swiftly [let’s call him the Genuine Article, more details to come], and he told me our intimacy didn’t take away from his interest or opinion of me– he won’t become bored. My gut response was to think to myself, “Who said it was YOUR attention I was worried about losing?”

After a week of seeing this truly great guy nearly every day [and loving every minute of it], I was a bit burned out this week and needed Me Time. The result was this romantic malaise whenever I thought of him– am I bored already? Do I only want something that I can’t have [or just don’t have yet]? Our quick level of comfortable intimacy is just a little too committed-feeling. Is there something wrong with me? It reminds me of my ex, and how everything felt more like a habit than a desire– that is no good. The start of connection should be all fire and longing. I’m an intensely passionate person; casual affection will not keep me interested.

My general energy level out'n'about DC.

So there it is. Hi, I’m Jules, and I have Relationship-Attention Deficit Disorder. [It’s RADD!] Maybe even R-ADHD, because my high-energy lifestyle is definitely hyperactive. It’s not stress-related, stemming from some PTSD break-up baggage. I don’t have commitment phobia. It’s not environmental, because I’m up to my ears in commited couple friends. Everyone has a significant other this spring.

But I honestly have no problem whatsoever that I am not one of them– I rather enjoy this RADD lifestyle of meeting multiple new people in a short amount of time. The city’s always full of them coming and going, with wild stories to tell about their travels and experiences. Each new acquaintance for me is like giving sugar to a five year old [okay, maybe it’s just like giving sugar to me; the effect is the same].

Isn’t that the charm of Washington? Peter’s right about the Grand Central chaos– going out in DC has you on perpetual social sensory overload. There are too many trains pulling in and out of the station going to wild, new places, and I can’t bring myself to narrow my possibilities by going in just one direction. I enjoy who I am, I enjoy meeting new people, and I really do enjoy dating. Maybe that’s why this is the perfect city for me. Only Washington is ever-shifting enough to keep me captivated with its constant influx of fascinating new people to meet and play with.

I’m not writing off this Genuine Article; we’ll see how this unfolds. But if it does turn out that I just get bored and disinterested, I don’t think it means there’s something wrong with me. I just don’t think it’ll turn out that he’s what I’m looking for, or that the lifestyle his relationship offers is right for me.

Go On, and Kiss the Girl

If I don’t want to kiss a guy by the end of a first date, then what’s the point? There, I said it.

I’m not in the market for a frog prince—I’d like a post-transformation guy, with no sign of sliminess to be seen. I really don’t think that is too much to ask.

I’m not saying there’s always a goodnight kiss—I know I’m a forward girl, but it’s not always the right time. BUT if that lack of a kiss isn’t disappointing—or if it’s preferable, even—then I don’t think we’re in the cards at all. That fundamental desire has to be there.

There’s a question asked about first dates: do you expect to determine your compatibility emotionally, spiritually, financially, or sexually by the end of it? My answer is definitely physical compatibility. It’s always been the easiest for me to determine, but not because I’ve a specific ‘type’. I actually have crazy eclectic taste.

There just needs to be that certain sort of spark, on top of whatever about various guys is attractive to me. I generally like them tall and lanky, though some more muscular guys have been thrown in the mix. Blondes aren’t on the list too often, but it’s always a personality thing and not physicality. Eye color doesn’t have much impact—I like the whole color wheel. I’m bigger on eye CONTACT. And someone who’s comfortable in their own skin.

I might find out something incompatible intellectually about a guy further on—say, he’s actually a neo-fascist with the hots for Mubarak, or maybe a closeted NRA member running around in a Democrat’s clothing—but I might not find that out the first date. What I CAN find out without much detail is if I want to kiss him, and by the end of the night if there’s potential for more.

I also wait to see if he’ll make the first move to kiss me. My history has seen a lot of kissing initiated by yours truly rather than the guy, because at that age I “intimidated the hell” out of guys. I’m not all that old-fashioned, it is more about testing him out. I can be a bit of a headstrong girl, so when it comes down to it, I want to know if the guy sees my challenge and wants to meet it.

Recently, I was on a really cute date. The night had gone great, definitely feeling mutual vibes going on, and we had already talked about meeting up again several times. Since we were in my neighborhood, he offered to walk me home, and did the dragging-out-conversation-on-the-front-stoop” cliche, that eventually ended with “so, can I kiss you?” I made the wise choice, and nodded. It definitely added to the night.

If it’s a first date– especially a blind date– I think it’s alright for the guy to ask as his segue into a goodnight kiss. Typically, I’d rather a guy just go for it, but this time around it was damn charming. Maybe it was his puppy-dog brown eyes, or scruffy dimples, or just the whole combination in general… but it worked.

This spark just might be catching flame.