Monday, April 23, 2012

First Date Foibles

While I certainly can't guarantee you (or myself, for that matter) a second date, I can share with you some things that will guarantee you won't get one. Also, I love a list. So here goes...

How to Guarantee You Won't Get a Second Date

  1. Mention what your and your date's future children will look like, what you will name them, and how you're completely okay with adopting children if your date is unable to bear his or her own children.
  2. Try to get to second base. Or, Try to get to second base at a party in front of small children. You know, like you do...(or don't...if you're not still going through puberty!)
  3. Pick up your date and offer him or her Ritalin to get the evening started off right.
  4. If you're trying online dating, make sure your pictures clearly indicate you are six months pregnant. Otherwise, your date could be in for a shock when you show up glowing and eating for two.(This one probably just applies to women, but you never know.)
  5. Mention your hatred of whatever gender your date is. Save that until at least the third date.
  6. Use the word "tits" or any of its derivatives at least five times in the first fifteen minutes.
  7. Offer your date a lap dance.
  8. Bite your date.
  9. Tell your date you can't wait to call him or her your boyfriend or girlfriend.
  10. Lick your date's eyeball.
  11. List in great detail all of your past suicide attempts.
  12. Explain that you're a grad student at NC State. Then clarify and say you're really still an undergrad. Then clarify further and say you're actually not at NC State, but that you're attending Wake Tech. Wait for dessert and then explain that you're actually no longer at Wake Tech, but you are at least working. Next, mention your job is working as a waiter at Applebee's. When the meal is over, let your date know that you've recently quit your job at Applebee's, but that you are at least spending your time dreaming about your future career as a NASCAR driver, once you learn how to drive a fast car, and buy one. Of course, this is purely a hypothetical situation.
  13. Smack your date on the ass.
  14. Refuse to tell your date your real name.
  15. Begin an in-depth discussion of your recent gastric bypass and/or lap band surgery.
  16. Tell your date how important your child is to you and then find yourself at a loss as to when your child's birthday is or how old your child is.
  17. Cry. For any reason.
  18. Use finger puppets to communicate.

My hope is that this list is useful to you, as these are all things that have really happened.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Can't Hear You...We're Breaking Up (Part One)

As someone who’s survived a breakup at least a dozen times (split about 50/50 in terms of dumper/dumpee role, so I’d say I’m a minor expert on both), I can say that most of the time, it sucks no matter which side of the break you’re on.

I could talk all day about how much it sucks to get dumped, and I don’t think there’s a soul out there who would disagree with me.  Sometimes it hurts so very much that it can be hard to acknowledge that the process is hard for person initiating the breakup, too.

Especially if it happens like this…

(the famous Sex and the City post-it breakup)

It absolutely SUCKS to break up with someone (unless it’s because you find him pinching his mother’s nipples in the kitchen, and then he justifies it by saying “Mama likes to have fun,too”…but I digress). I learned that in the not too distant past, and it was a tough, tough lesson. I finally had the courage to end a relationship with a great guy who “wasn’t the one,” and it was brutal – for both of us. I think I cried for 24 hours straight, before and after. I didn’t think I could do it in person, but I felt like I owed him at least that much. My therapist, however, said one of the best things anyone has said to me in my life.

“It is going to suck no matter how you do it,
and no matter when you do it.”

And she was right.

Breakups are shitty no matter how you go about it (well, maybe you don’t need to do it on a post-it note, or at a party in front of your closest friends in a crowded room while screaming and stroking another girl’s hair…but I digress). The important part is that you do it and are clear about meaning it.

I learned, the hard way, that staying with someone you don’t really love is selfish – NOT selfless. I was staying with him because I didn’t want to hurt him. Meanwhile, he was being lied to every time I smiled, held his hand, slept with him, or told him I loved him. I was also taking up his valuable time – time he could’ve been spending finding someone who actually appreciated what he had to offer. That someone just wasn’t me (no matter how much I tried or wished it were).

So, I did it over the phone. And it was every bit as rough as you imagine it might be. He didn’t see it coming, and didn’t believe me at first, but I had to be persistent. Repeating yourself over and over again, knowing that each time you do, you’re leaving a scar (that will, by the way, heal one day) on someone you care about is a form of torture that I suppose governments haven’t yet explored, but I assure you, it is almost unbearable.

Did he deserve a face-to-face break up at the end of what was a serious relationship? I think a lot of people would say so, and I don’t know that I even disagree with them. But I know that, for better or worse, I just couldn’t make it happen in person. Maybe I’m a coward sometimes, and I’m kind of okay with that, too, because in the end, he was free to go find happiness, and so was I.

Is it shitty to break up with someone over the phone or email instead of in person? Maybe. Probably. Is it shittier to stay in a relationship in which you are unhappy and the other person is being denied the opportunity to find love? Absolutely.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

All the Single People...of Durham

As we go about this process of finding another single person with whom we are compatible, it can often feel as if there are just no single people left in our city. Sure, logically we know this isn’t true…but still, it seems like it’s true. So just how many single people are there in Durham?

The government gives us a good estimate. According to the 2010 census, there are approximately 49,348 available men over the age of 15 and 62,202 available women over the age of 15.

I realize that most of us would not date anyone under the age of 18 – at least those of us who prefer not to have to register as sex offenders – and most of us are not looking for someone over the age of 65, but you get the idea. Similarly, I can’t tell you how many of these people are in relationships or cohabiting, but I can say they’re not married or separated (not that there’s something inherently wrong with dating someone separated, but it just seemed easier to look at the numbers this way). I also know that this number doesn’t count members of the LGBT community whose unions are not (yet) legally recognized.

Even though there are what seems like many more available women than men, it still seems like there is a decent pool of people out there for all of us to explore.

Now if I can only find one who meets these requirements…

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What I Wore

Month: April
Weather: Perfect spring weather
Location: Pop's
Time: 6:30 p.m. Sunday night
On the agenda: Dinner
Date level: Second

As a casual second date, I still went with my jeans (I seriously need to wear something other than jeans on my next date!), but I broke tradition and opted for flat sandals. It was warm, sunny, and a comfortable way to look cute. Plus, as much as I love my heels, I also love being relaxed and comfortable on Sundays. My flat sandals are brown with gold metal detailing, have a thong between my big toe and second toe, and an ankle strap that zips up the back of the heel to connect. The Bagley by Dolce Vita is a nice substitute for mine, though I didn't pay nearly that much!

I topped it off with my white Old Navy Tank from my Federal date and my berry colored Old Navy Cardigan, which I love because it's comfy, inexpensive, and honestly the color looks amazing on me, if I do say so myself.

I didn't wear much jewelry - my silver ball studs and a silver watch, since I wanted to keep it as casual as possible. I looked relaxed AND put together, which is often what I strive for. I also think the color brightened me and brought out my hair and eye color, so I felt great.

Cuddlequette - A Guide to the Lost Art of Cuddling

Admittedly, I am not reduced to a misty-eyed floral sachet of estrogen when I watch romantic comedies, receive flowers, or am serenaded by a date who “plays the guitar poorly a little.” But you know what gets me every dang time? A good cuddle.

I don’t want to cuddle the whole night, and am honestly usually the first to break the embrace, but a good cuddle is tough to beat. (I mean, obviously there’s one thing that can top cuddling in bed, but you see my point.) It melts my cold heart instantly and turns me to putty in the right man’s capable hands and arms (and maybe even legs).

Which brings me to this: (you’re welcome, in advance)

So aside from being creepy AND hilarious (who doesn’t love that combination?), there are some valid and helpful lessons hidden in this “tutorial.”

To begin, the Stamos Soother is EXCELLENT when combined with running your fingers through a woman’s hair. I’m not partial to the scalp massage portion, but to each her own. If a man touches my hair or face, my defenses are useless. I also really enjoy laying my head on a man’s chest and being able to kiss his neck and stroke his chest. Sure, the video makes it cheesy and funny, but it’s really nice.

The Stamos Spoonful is kind of given the shaft here (haha…get it?) so I feel the need to highlight that spooning can be awesome. What makes it less awesome is the poke factor if you’re not in the mood for round two with Mr. Cuddler. That aside, I tend to think I feel safer and more protected while being spooned than I do in the “Stamos Soother” position. I can occasionally enjoy being big spoon, but most of the time it’s not my favorite. I tend to select that only if I’m also giving the guy a back rub or scratch of sorts.

I also enjoy the Stamos Swadler as a cuddle position but enjoy nothing else he mentioned! Do not ever rub noses with me, give me “butterfly kisses” (seriously?!), or STARE AT ME, INCHES FROM MY FACE, WHILE I SLEEP. I will call the police. That is all.

And then there’s the Stamos S’Touching (her with your fingers).  A good caress IS excellent, but it really needs to be combined with one of the previously mentioned positions. Otherwise, caressing without cuddling in bed can come across as timid, lacking confidence, and sometimes even annoying. If you’re going to cuddle, commit to a position, gentlemen.

I was a little disappointed that Stamos left out suggestions on how to break the cuddle without hurting your significant other’s feelings (a problem I run into often as I tend to get squirmy and can’t hold a cuddle all night). What I have found to be most effect to use with a guy – or to have a guy use on me – to prevent hurt feelings is to kiss your partner, perhaps on the neck, forehead, or arm, rub them gently on the back, side, or arm, and then roll away to your own side of the bed. This generally makes me feel cared for, rather than abandoned, while clearly signaling that cuddle time is over for the moment. Win-win, no?

Location Review - West End Wine Bar

Location - West End Wine Bar (601 W. Main Street, Durham NC)

Overall Rating: 3
Food: 3
Drinks: 5
Service: 3
Atmosphere: 3
Recommended for: First dates, drinks with friends and family.

Interestingly enough, when I went to West End a few weeks ago for a first date, I asked my date if he had any favorites on the wine list as he had chosen the date location (and also because he wasn’t making conversation). His response was that he doesn’t like wine, and he proceeded to order an Italian beer.

I know.

Anyway, it was a nice night, so I asked if we could sit outside. There were two other groups seated outside; one, a couple on a date (clearly not a first date, as they proceeded to make out a little bit later – though, I do suppose it could have been an AMAZING first date) and the other a pair of friends catching up. The PDA going on next to us was a little distracting, but it’s definitely not West End’s fault. Generally, I enjoy people watching when I’m out in Durham. Really, it’s one of my favorite pastimes anywhere, but there’s almost always something or someone fascinating to watch in Durham, more so than other places.

Except there is never any good people watching to be had at West End.

This has been my chief complaint in going there over the last few years. I love wine, so I want to love West End. Their hummus plate is pretty decent (it’s not the best I’ve ever had, but I generally don’t go to a wine bar for food; it’s good and gets the job done, keeping me satisfied without stuffing me so that I still have room to enjoy my fourth second glass of wine) and I’ve enjoyed a few other small plates there from time to time. They have a great selection of wine and I always get to try something new. But for whatever reason, the people who frequent there (except for my fabulous group of friends and myself, naturally) are just…well, they’re there. And that’s about all I can say. I can’t relate one funny story (that my friends and I didn’t create ourselves) or recall one funny moment I witnessed at West End, and while I know that those things are far from requirements for a first date, it is nice to have a decent crowd of interesting people around to comment on, in case the date goes south. I also can’t recall meeting and talking to any interesting people there, which if nothing else is a given in almost any bar or night spot in Durham.  I’m not sure why people don’t frequent it more, but there seems to be a drought of young and lively folk there. Sigh.

However, I do know that I will periodically go back anyway, hoping, wishing, dreaming that I will find amazing wine AND a lively time in one place.

So, I give West End three stars out of five. It is by no means a bad place for a date, but it’s not particularly noteworthy or amazing either. (Especially if you don’t like wine!)

Location Review - Pop's

Location: Pop's (603 W. Main Street, Durham NC)

Overall Rating: 4
Food: 5
Drinks: (didn't try any)
Service: 3
Atmosphere: 4
Recommended for: First dates, second dates, casual dinners with significant others, meals out with friends and family.

For a second date, I recently went to Pop’s for a Sunday night dinner (6:30pm). I was excited to go because, I am ashamed to admit, I hadn’t been since they moved locations two years ago. Parking was easy (my date scored us a spot without having to circle), and the location definitely has curb appeal.

Inside, the hostess asked us if we’d like to sit in the dining area or at one of the high tops in the bar section. My date deferred to me, and I chose the high top because it was next to the window and had a pleasant view.

My entrĂ©e choice was the gnocchi with duck meatballs, and it was fantastic. The gnocchi was good, but what really delighted my tongue were the meatballs. Not always a huge fan of duck, I was very happy to discover this was delicious. (My date went with the salmon, but we weren’t at that “level” where I was going to ask to try his food, though the thought briefly crossed my mind. He seemed to love it, and didn’t leave a bit on his plate, so I’m going to assume it was equally as good as the gnocchi and duck meatballs.)

Being a Sunday night and having gone out with friends the night before, I opted to pass on having wine with dinner, so unfortunately I don’t have anything to say in that department. Perhaps a future date (sadly, with someone else – we lacked a “spark,” which I use as code for “anything to talk about”) will afford me this opportunity?

The atmosphere was pleasant, though not particularly romantic, which was fine by me as it was only a second date. The walls were painted red, which seems a bit obvious for an Italian restaurant, but it did look nice. Because it was earlier in the evening, it was very light out, so that may have contributed to the casual feel. I think it might have felt a tad more intimate if I had chosen a table in the main dining area rather than the bar. The bar was great in that it had a lovely view and there was a TV so I could glimpse college basketball highlights between the long and boring pauses in conversation as we focused on eating rather than talking. The huge drawback of sitting at the bar is that it’s right next to the open kitchen, so there is a TON of noise. I sometimes have random hearing trouble, so when that was combined with a soft-spoken waiter, it made things a little difficult. Plus, it’s hard enough talking on an awkward second date, so it would have been nice to be somewhere a little quieter. Oh well, you live and learn, and I take full responsibility for our seating choice.

It was a great meal, a good location, and has good date seating options, even though we didn’t take advantage of them. I would give this date location four out of five stars.