I wish they all could be California Guys! (NOT)

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Jack and I found some La Poussie at the store and had to text Sally to see if she’d tried any.  #LesbianJoke #Wine

 

The guys here puzzle me.  They talk to me for a little while, then ghost.  That is, they disappear without saying, “Goodbye.”  I’ve even had nice dates where the guy doesn’t contact me after.  It’s possible that their work became busy or they met someone else; but why don’t they send a simple email or text to say as much?  I’ve tried sending messages after a few days, and some guys respond, while others don’t.  Seems like this happened a bit in Texas, but not nearly as much.  How hard is it to send a simple text or message saying, “I found someone else.  Good luck!”?

Full disclosure: I dated two guys that were really nice.  They were home-bodies who liked to watch movies.  One was devoted to classic rock bands and cover bands; the other was devoted to his son.  They were so single-minded that after five minutes of conversation, we had NOTHING to talk about.  Nothing.  I asked them about hiking and sights to see around town, but they didn’t have anything to contribute.  So after two dates with the first guy (in January) and one date with the second guy (last week), I texted, “You’re a super nice guy, but we’re not a match.  Good luck!”

Both guys texted back, “Thanks, good luck to you, too!”

That’s how it should be done, people!  Don’t ghost!  Send a simple text.

Easy peezy, and no one is left asking, “WTF happened?  Did I accidentally say something offensive?  Was there spinach in my teeth?  Did they know that I secretly checked out the waiter, who had a really nice ass?”

Or maybe that’s just me.

The most recent guy that I talked to, Ray, expressed interest in me on Match.com.  Cool, he’s handsome and a year older than me, so I was interested in him as well.  We emailed a couple of times before he asked to talk to me on the phone.  Great, I’m happy to cut to the chase, especially after all the ghosts.

His text was a long one, which is odd.  It was more like an email!  The just was, “I’ve been busy…you seem really smart.  I’ll have to brush up on the Periodic Table before I meet you, haha! I’d like to talk to you on the phone.”

So I responded with a time that worked for me to talk, letting him know, “I like my schedules and lists; I’m a planner. : – )”

He replied, “So do I!  I’m a project manager : – ) I’ll send you an Outlook invite!  Lol”

Great!  So far, so good.

That conversation was in the morning.  That afternoon, he sent me a screenshot of one of my pictures on Match and said, “Looking at a few pics…this one is my favorite.”

This creeped me out a little.  First, he could click a heart on the picture to tell me that he liked it, much like clicking a thumbs up on Facebook.  Second, he now has a picture of me on his phone, and we haven’t met.  We haven’t even talked on the phone at this point.  Third, it’s a pic of me in a Supergirl costume at Comicon, which I don’t consider my best picture, so it’s an odd one to single out.

Then he texted, “Too cute.  Nice to see what you’ll do for family.”

I pondered this.  The picture’s caption is, “ComiCon Dallas, May 30, 2015.  What a great time!  I loved seeing the range of costumes.  Good times!”  My family isn’t mentioned.  He may be assuming that I went for my kids, but that’s a big assumption; I may have been there with a date.  An alternate interpretation is that he cyberstalked me and found this picture on my blog or Facebook page, both of which have pics of Jack and Ed as well.

Weird, right?

It gets worse.

That night, I ran errands and was late making dinner.  Rather than talk to him while my dinner got cold or try to talk around a mouthful of food, I asked for a raincheck on the call.  His answer was, “Of course.  I fly home tomorrow night.”  (He was out of town on business.)

Later, he texted, “Still can’t talk?  I take it you went out?”

Wow, big assumptions!  I could talk at that point; my dinner was long gone.  Since he was in a different time zone, however, I thought he’d be asleep.  No, I didn’t go out; I am quite single and looking for a guy.  If I had a date with a guy, I wouldn’t have scheduled a call with Ray.

I sighed and picked up the phone to call him.

The phone call contained the usual getting-to-know-you chit chat, plus these zingers:

  • I mentioned that my daughter was coming to visit me. He said, “I thought your daughter lived with you, and your son lived elsewhere?”
    • How did he know that I had a daughter & a son? My profile says that I have two kids, but I never specified their genders.  And up to that point in the call, I hadn’t discussed my kids at all.
  • He said that lives at the corner of X and Y street.
    • THAT’S WHERE I LIVE!!
    • Either it’s big coincidence, or he’s STALKING ME.
    • I told him that we must be neighbors; I didn’t confirm or deny that we were in the same apartment complex.
    • He may work for the NSA and be tracking my cell phone’s every move.
      • Eeek! What if he listens to my phone convos and reads my texts?!
      • If he does, he might be super bored. He’ll be sending *me* a good luck test soon!
    • He admitted to guilting me into calling. “I really wanted to talk to you,” he said.
      • On one hand, he is a manipulator.
      • On the other, he owns it.
    • “I travel Monday through Thursday. I think that’s why I’m single.  Could you handle that?”
      • Um, chip on your shoulder, much?
      • “I work Monday through Thursday, attend yoga, and play softball. I wouldn’t miss you during the week anyway,” I told him honestly.
      • “I see where I stand,” he replied huffily, then tried to laugh it off.
      • Ok then!
    • “I don’t believe in dwelling on the past,” he said, moments before asking, “Why did you get divorced?”
      • I answered, “I’d rather not discuss that, at this point. I will tell you that my divorce was final in 2001 and I am well over it.”
    • Since this was Wednesday, I asked if he wanted to meet for a drink on Friday. He countered with, “I have plans with a friend on Saturday, but I might be able to reschedule that, and meet you instead.”
      • He was finding out if I was free on Saturday.
      • He never committed to anything.
    • Later in the call, he asked if I had been to the local winery. “Sundays are fun there,” he said.
      • He was finding out if I was free on Sunday.
      • He never committed to anything.

I am a planner.  I don’t like to sit home alone on Friday and Saturday, and I don’t like to be jerked around.

On Thursday, Ray texted, “You’ve been on my mind a lot today.”

Um, ok?  What do I say to that?  “We’ve talked on the phone once and you haven’t asked me out on a date yet,” I thought.  “I’m thinking about you, too.  Wondering if I should worry about you showing up on my doorstep, stalker!”

Instead of that, I texted an answer to another comment that he’d made.

On Friday, Ray texted, “I’m staying home tonight because I’m exhausted from my travels.  My weekend opened up; let me know if you’d like to grab a drink.  I’d like that very much.”

“Well, Jerk, if you’d like that sooooo much, why don’t you ASK ME OUT ON A PROPER DATE?!” I thought.  “Show some respect!  Don’t treat me like an after-thought or a booty call.  I deserve better than that!”

I might be getting jaded and cynical.  Just a tad.

I answered, “Ok, enjoy your quiet evening at home.”

Which is just what I did.  I poured myself a glass of wine, made myself some nachos, and binge-watched “Elementary.”  I spoil me sometimes.

And *that* is why I didn’t have a date this weekend.  To all you guys who thinks that women can get laid so easily, THIS!!  If I don’t have a date, I don’t get kissed, etc.

On days like this, I call Elizabeth and she expounds on the latest sin that her husband Daniel committed and why she’s so angry at him.  Daniel is a super great guy, but (like most of us) isn’t perfect.  I let her rant, she feels better, then she says, “See?!  Aren’t you glad that you’re single?”

“Thanks, Elizabeth,” I tell her.

“You’re welcome,” she says.  “Any time.  No, really, I can bitch about Daniel any day of the week, just call back if you need to hear more.”

Cheers!

Jules Rules

  1. Do not ask a person why they got divorced in the first call. Or on the first date.  In fact, don’t ask; if they feel like confiding in you, they will.
  2. Don’t infer that a person was with family if they’re dressed as a superhero. Ok, in my case it was true, but I could’ve been there on a date!  Any Doctors in the house?  (Preferably David Tennant-era.)
  3. Ask the person out if you’re interested, to a specific place and time. Don’t feel out whether I have any plans at all, then leave me hanging.
  4. Don’t be a dick!

 

 

Sex is Just Scratching an Itch

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“Sometimes you need sex like you need to scratch an itch,” my date told me.  “I told that to my 15-year-old son.  He believes that you need to be love to have sex, and that just isn’t true.”

I choked on my wine.  “I’ll take awkward conversations for $1,000, Alex,” I said, pretending that I was on a game show.  This wasn’t a conversation that I wanted to have on a second date.

“This is awkward?  How is this awkward?” he asked. “Oh!”

The San Diego Gulls missed making a goal.  Or, rather, the goalie for Oakland was too good to let the puck through.

My date wouldn’t let the subject drop.  “It’s like scratching an itch, right?”

I took a deep breath.  I really liked this guy, up to this point.  I could agree with him, just to keep the peace.  But…I’m not a passivist; I believe in speaking my mind and he was asking for my opinion.  So I gave it to him.

“I believe that women in general, myself included, form emotional attachments easily.  I can’t do casual sex.  I tried; it’s just not for me,” I said.

There, how’s that for side-stepping the issue?

But still, he wouldn’t let it go.  “You don’t think that there are just times when you need sex?”

Wow.  He REALLY was seeking buy-in here; I just couldn’t give it to him.  “I believe that we should teach our kids to be better than us.  I would tell my kids—and have—to wait to have sex after they find someone special.”

What really bothered me about this conversation was the implications of his statement.  Consider that if I have a muscle cramp, I’ll go to a massage therapist.  If I had back aches, I might go to chiropractor.  If one considers sex to be an itch, then one might also pay a professional for a fix.  I wonder if he has frequented prostitutes; he mentioned frequent trips to Las Vegas earlier.  It’s a cheap, 45-minute plane ride from San Diego, he had said.  Of course, the two conversations may have been unrelated; but maybe not.

But, may be.

Another, more logical, thought process it to consider FWBs (friends with benefits) to be normal.  Hey, if you have one, that’s great; enjoy yourself. (Cough, NADIA!)  As I told my date, that arrangement never worked out for me; I always grew attached.

Was he gaging my reaction, to see if he could introduce me to his FWB in the future?  Wondering if I’d be cool?

“He wanted to sleep with you,” a guy friend told me.  “It’s a little sick that he used his kid to bring up the topic, but he was feeling you out to see if you’d be open to the arrangement.”

For the record, this particular guy friend is in another state and happily married, so he is not trying to get into my pants.  Or, at least, I trust his assessment as much as I trust anyone’s.

Or was my date trying to justify an affair?  He mentioned only vague reasons for his marriage ending.  Maybe when he said, “my marriage was over, so I walked away,” he meant, “We weren’t sleeping together anymore, so I found someone to scratch that itch.”

Supposition aside, it really bothered me that he’d teach his kid that.

“He’s teaching the kid the way the world works,” my friend Allie Apple said, “but, wow, some things, kids need to find out on their own.  Parents don’t need to tell kids that.  Is he trying to teach the kid how to be a player?”

I’m not sure of all his reasoning.  I only know that I disagree.  I’ll scratch your back if you ask nicely, but I have to a bit more involved with you before I scratch other things.

Next

On the way to the grocery store yesterday, I met a guy.  I live downtown now, so I walk to the store with my empty backpack and canvas bags.  I love that I don’t have to drive on the weekends. (Although I did drive earlier yesterday to hike in Torrey Pines State Park.)

A nice man said hello to me at the corner near the grocery store.  Turns out that he was going there, too, with his empty backpack.  As we chatted, we discovered how much we had in common: both engineers, both in the same industry, both writers, both interested in science fiction.  He bought me a gluten free chocolate chip muffin and we exchanged numbers.

That night, he showed me around our little corner of downtown.  He introduced me to a fabulous restaurant (Seasons 52), then showed me where Top Gun was filmed.

Y’all, I had a glass of wine in the bar where Tom Cruise sang, “You lost that lovin’ feelin’!!”

AHHHHHH!!!

The place is a small dive bar, nothing fancy, called Kansas City BBQ.  The way that my date explained it, the owner sampled different BBQ sauces in Kansas City and made his version based on the best.  I’ll have to judge another day; I was full from dinner.

As my date sat there and talked about his plans to move to LA or Canada, he’s not sure which, I soaked in the atmosphere.  Bras hung from a ceiling fan.  Ball caps from various sections of the Navy were tacked to the ceiling.  And, oh yes, there was movie memorabilia everywhere.

And, yes, my date is probably moving back to Canada.  So don’t expect a long-term romance.  I don’t like to date guys who live more than 30 minutes away; a different country would definitely be a deal breaker.

Still, it’s a fun story, right?!  He may be a famous Hollywood writer one day and pitch my book to some television execs as a mini-series.  He mentioned it, so it may happen.  I dream big.

The best part of the night was when Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” came on, over the speakers.  I shouted out, “Everybody, I’m from Texas, and we sing along to this song!”

“Go for it!” several people told me.

“Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots, and ruined your black-tie affair!” I sang.  And then I sang along with the rest of the song.  Heck, this may be the alcohol talking, but I did a damn fine job!  The bar patrons applauded after every verse.  All that karaoke finally paid off!

Later, when I recapped the evening to my friend Allie, she said with a laugh, “You Texas-up California!”

“Huh?” I asked, eloquently.

“A bunch of Californians moved to Texas, and are making it more like California,” she explained.  “They’re California-ing-up Texas.  So you are in California, bring some Texas to them, and Texas-up California.”

Took a minute for that to sink in.  “You’re saying that there are so many California transplants in Texas that it’s starting to feel like California, so I should make San Diego feel like Texas?” I asked.

“Yes!” she said.

“I can do that!” I said with a laugh.

And I will.

But don’t expect me to go around scratching itches.  I sing at the top of my lungs in little dive bars when Garth comes on, I’ll cuss like a sailor when the moment calls for it, but I’m still a lady, damn it.

Cheers!

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3 Bachelors Down, 1 Still in the Running

 

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The Hotel Del Coronado was decked with Christmas Lights

My first weekend in San Diego, I had three guys lined up, and all of them disappointed me in different ways.  Three!

The reason that I made a Match.com account was because Carol told me that I should.  She gave me precise instructions, which I’ve vowed to follow.  Carol, this is all your fault!

Bachelor #1 started out strong with an email that complimented my profile and picked a specific topic to discuss.  After two emails, he asked if he could call me, and I said yes.  We had a terrific conversation!  He asked if I’d like to go out on Saturday, and I accepted.  I like that he moved quickly; it showed real interest, like we had a connection.

But then he sent me a picture and said, “My face looks fat.  I’m not really that fat.”

I laughed, because women are usually the ones who feel insecure about their looks.  So I sent him a full-body selfie and said, “I’m just as fat as I look!”

Now, I’m not perfect, but I do believe that I look good.  I don’t usually call myself the f word (fat), but I was trying to make a point: pictures don’t lie.

He didn’t respond to my jest.  A couple of days later, on Friday, he texted, “Hi, Julie, how has your week been?”

I replied, “I’m about to start driving, can’t talk now, will text you when I get home.  Week has been good!”

Once I was home, I added, “How was your week?”

He responded, “Good.  I was going to ask you if you wanted to meet up for Happy Hour and wait out the Friday traffic.”

Huh.  Ok, nice thought, but too late.  He couldn’t have texted an hour earlier?

I replied, “Oh hey, that would’ve been great, but I’m home now.  How about tomorrow?”  As in, Saturday.  As in, the day that we said that we were going to get together.

“I’m meeting up with a friend at 4 p.m.  I was hoping it would be earlier,” he texted.

OUCH.

I read his words a couple of times, and every time it came back to, “I’ve got a date with someone else on Saturday, so could we do something before that?  You don’t rate a Saturday night date, but I’d like to meet you, in case I want to take you out some other time.  Or, you know, if the other woman doesn’t put out, I’ll definitely schedule you for next weekend.”

Ok, so maybe I read a little too much between the lines.  However, he could have (and should have!) said, “I’d love to take you out for lunch,” or, “I want to take you to this cool brunch place,” or a hundred other ways of letting me know that he really wants to see me.

Instead, he let me know that he’d fit me in, around the date that he’s really looking forward to.

I didn’t text him back.

I pinged Carol, “Can you believe he said this?!”

She answered, “San Diego guys are ducks.  Just go out at 1p.m. or tell him to fuvk off.”

I guess she doesn’t like to cuss.  I answered, “Ok then!”

Bachelor #2 innocently asked me for more pictures.  I told him, “You’ll see me soon enough,” because we had plans to meet up on Friday night.

But then, I thought about it, and a good way to make sure that you’re not being catfished is to ask for a candid, right-now photo.

Definition: Catfish – verb.  When two people meet online, and one posts another person’s pictures fraudulently, leading the other person to believe that he/she is someone he/she is not.  See Catfish the movie, Catfish the TV show, or the life story of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o.

So the second time he asked me (after some solid conversation), I capitulated and sent a cute selfie.

“More, please!” he asked.

“Your turn!” I answered.

He sent me a quick one, and he looked exactly like his online photos.

So just to be funny, I sent him one of me from Halloween, wearing my pirate costume.  It’s an elaborate costume with head scarf and hat.  The coat, trousers, and boots cover almost every inch of my skin, except my face and hands.

“You look sexy in that pirate outfit!  Is it bad that I got turned on by the pictures you sent me?” he texted.

He texted me that at 9:38 a.m. on a week day.  He was AT WORK.

Just…no.  I don’t sext.

Definition: Sext – verb.  To send provocative and/or nude pictures to another person online via text, email, or some other means for the purpose of arousing them.  See also Cybersex, which involves Skype or another video software.

I didn’t text back.  When he texted later asking how my day was, then I texted back.

“Are you going to take me out for drinks in Little Italy?”  I asked.  San Diego is comprised of neighborhoods (which would be cities back in Texas).  Little Italy is one of the downtown areas.

“Haha, is that where you live?” the Picture King said.

“ATM,” I responded, meaning, “Yes, that’s where I live at the moment.”

“Why don’t you come up to Encinitas?” he replied.

OMG Encinitas is at least a 30-minute drive from downtown, and probably longer at 5 p.m. on Friday, which is when this convo occurred.  It was a major turnoff that he wasn’t willing to drive to come see me, and more of a turnoff that he expected *me* to drive to see him.  Why hadn’t we planned this, instead of exchanging pictures?

“Not tonight.  Just drive up to UTC and back to check out a condo; that was 45 minutes in traffic coming home,” I wrote.

“Would that be an invite for me to spend the night at your place after going for drinkings? :-P” he sent.

OMG I haven’t even MET this guy and he’s asking if he’s going to get lucky!!

“No,” was my reply.

“Okay hah no worries,” he sent.

He and Bachelor #1 tried to contact me a few times after that with, “How are you?” texts, but I didn’t answer.  Creeps.

Bachelor #3 came on strong, calling me as soon as I’d let him and telling me how it’s going to me.

“I’m a Scorpio, baby!  Let me be a man and plan the date!  You say you want to go hiking.  I say, let’s sit on the beach and drink, somewhere nice, so you can be all dressed up and not have to worry about it.  Hiking!  Ha!  I’m wearing the pants, I got this!” he said.  “We’ll go hiking another day.”

I actually laughed.  I thought it was funny that he wanted to take charge; we wouldn’t last long.  But hey, I’m all for trying new things.

Later that day, he texted me, “Send me a picture.”

Uh oh, here we go again.  So I sent him a selfie right then – very little makeup, just me and an old t-shirt.

“Oh baby you’re so beautiful.  Don’t be shy, show me the rest of you.  Give me a full body shot,” he texted.

Sigh.  Ok, here’s me in my old t and yoga pants.  Nothing too exciting.

“You have those huge tits, I love em,” he texted.

  1. Calling me beautiful is one thing, commenting on the size of my chest is another. But, this guy had been great so far, so I tried to salvage the conversation.  “Hey, take it slow!  I’m a good girl.”

“I just meant that you look fantastic,” he quickly clarified.

Ya, right.

“Now send me one of you,” I texted back.  Again, this is a good way to ensure that there is no catfishing going on.

“Now?  I just got done working out.  I’m naked,” he texted.

“LOL no, not naked!  Put some clothes on,” I replied.

About 15 minutes later, he texted, “I’m still killing it at the gym.”

Is he working out naked?  Or did he stop in the middle of the workout to text me and change clothes?

Jack told me, “He wanted to see if you’d accept naked pictures.  That’s what he wants.”

I never did get a candid photo from Bachelor #3.  I refused to text him until I did.  And so, there goes that guy.

Bachelor #4

And then there was this guy.  He sent short answers to my emails, but they were articulate and concise.  He’s handsome and a professional; everything that I wanted.  At this point, I just wanted someone who wasn’t going to ask me for naked pictures.

He asked for my phone number and we agreed on a time to chat.  Except, he got busy at work, and asked if we could meet for a drink instead.  Since I’m much better in person than on the phone (non-verbal communication is a large part of the convo for me), I agreed.

My 2nd week in San Diego, we had a great first date!  On a Monday night, nonetheless!

Even though I’m a total dork and I said this, “My friend from high school is going to be in town this weekend, so I won’t be able to hang out.  I’m letting you know this *now* because, I don’t want you to think that I’m blowing you off.”

He looked at me a little strangely, thought about it, and said, “I understand.  Thanks for telling me.”

And so my 2nd weekend in California, I had a fabulous time with my high school friend.  We visited La Jolla (the Cove and Winden Sea), Coronado Island (which is really an isthmus), and Little Italy (Farmer’s Market and Italian restaurants).  It was truly amazing!

My 3rd weekend will be spent with Bachelor #4 on Friday night and a new guy on Saturday.  Even though I’d like to believe that Bachelor #4 is the man of my dreams, I’ve got to be realistic.  And the reality is that the new guy (#5) asked me to go a play on Saturday before #4 asked me out.  Even though I’d really rather spend the time with #4, because he’s awesome.

More about him another time.  I don’t want to jinx it by saying too much!

But he really is awesome: handsome, smart, sarcastic…and he has great taste in women, because he wants to see me again!

YAY!  Thanks, Carol!

Cheers!

Jules Rules

  1. Don’t ask me for more photos.  I put 10 online and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see me in person.
  2. Ok, you can ask for one candid.  But don’t make rude comments about my attributes!  (By which I mean my titties!)

Moving Day

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Today, the movers packed up the house.  Tomorrow, they’ll put the boxes and furniture onto the van.  Then, the adventure truly begins.  Our Journey will take us to these fabulous cities:

Midland, TX – known as part of the Midland-Odessa area, which has a plethora of oil drills.  Also known as West Texas and The Middle Of No Where. We plan to visit the hotel and that’s it.

Tucson, AZ – Home to Corvus Tomatillo!  Can’t wait to see him again!  Of course, it hasn’t been long since we went to Utah together, but he’s been around the world since then.  Maybe he has some thoughts about Carol’s Rules.

San Diego, CA – Our final destination.  Jack and I will live in a condo downtown while we look for a place to buy.  It’ll be difficult, but we’ll manage.  :-D.

The decision to leave Texas was a difficult one.  I wanted to find a new job, which would challenge and interest me more than the one that I accepted just over a year ago.  I wanted to follow my passion, which is primarily worked on the West coast.

Plus, I need a change of pace.  I’ve been living in my surburban home, writing about past relationships, wondering if I’ve kissed all the frogs that I can stand.  I want to visit a new pond with new frogs.  Heck, I don’t want to just visit, I want to live there!  I’m looking for a condo downtown where I can walk to the bars and really be a part of the action.  The prices are high, so Jack and I may end up in a small two-bedroom place without much room to move.  You know what? I plan to be outside, experiencing life, kissing more frogs!

Just in case I’m sounding like a mad person (which happens more than I like to admit), I mean that I’m going to het out there again and try dating in California.  I’ll go by Carol’s Rules, because they make sense, but also because I don’t have anything to lose.

Many friends (and even aome coworkers) have promised to visit.  Something about having a condo near the ocean appeals to them.  Who can explain it?

I’m starting a Grand Adventure and I am excited!  And nerveous and OhMyGod I’m leaving Texas!  Eeeek!

Jack is pretty calm, all things considered.  He’s visited Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.  However, he’s only ever lived in Austin and Dallas.  He’s reserving judgement until he’s had a chance to experience California firsthand.

Follow me on Facebook or Instagram for up-to-date posts on our progress.  Should be interesting.  Today, Jack explained how yellow firetrucks are the runts of the litter, and how the red paint helpa firetrucks move faster.  That’s right, firetrucks are born in litters.  You know the utility boxes by the sides of the road?  Those are firetruck eggs.

Yep, it’s gonna be a wild ride!

Cheers!

PS Love to my fabulous friends!  They werr too busy to come together for a big party, so they’ve been visiting with me one or two at a time.  These gatherings have been very precious to me.  And I get to drink wine!  Score!  ❤ ❤ ❤

PSS Kevin sent me another text, “I’m kinda drunk.”  Wow. Didn’t he get the message after my last blog about him? Apparently he should have, bc our coworkers gave him shit about it!  Oh, ya, they figured out who he was!

So my response to him this time was, “You may need rehab.  Or a new hobby.”

Cheers!

 

Cali or Bust! Married in a Year!

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“I can have you married in a year!” Carol Courgette told me, assessing me with her serious gaze.

Shocked by her confidence and her words, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or run.  “I don’t want to get married!  Been there, done that!” I said.

“Oh, you just want to get laid,” she said, putting down her wine glass.

We sat on the deck of a wine shop in Seaport Village, San Diego, California, overlooking the water.  The weather was a perfect 65F and I was buzzed from the wine that I’d already imbibed.  Mary and I were in San Diego on a house hunting trip, and Carol was sitting next to us.  She had jumped into the conversation when she heard us talking about neighborhoods, and as usual with me, the conversation had turned to dating.

That’s right, I was in San Diego to look for a condo.  I’m moving to Cali!  On Facebook I joked about moving to become an actress; that’s not strictly true, I’m moving for my day job.  If I get discovered one day while looking fabulous in a coffee shop, well, who am I to question fate?

Until then, I’ll see if Carol knows some magic tricks that I don’t know.

“Um, no.  I would like a boyfriend,” I answered.  “What’s your formula for getting me hitched?”

Carol Courgette’s Rules for Snagging a Husband

  1. Don’t put out for a while. Make him wait for it.  Ok, we’ve heard this one before; The Bitch’s Guide to Dating stated, “Don’t give away the jujubes; make him want the candy store.”  Or was it, “Men Love Bitches”?  You know, I get those two books mixed up.  Anyhow, I’m sure that rule has been around for a while; it’s just not very fun, so people choose to ignore it.  Hey, I didn’t say that I ignore it, I said   You know, in general.
  2. Let him pay for the meals. “Wait a minute,” I said, “I like to pay, so that I don’t feel obligated.”  Carol snorted and said, “Guys like the old fashioned shit.  Trust me.”
  3. Create a very specific Match.com profile. Ok, I feel like I’ve been there & done that, then widened the search because the guy I wanted, didn’t exist.  “Trust me,” Carol said.  “I wanted a guy over 6’ tall, blue eyes, professional.  Here sits my husband, the lawyer.”  Can’t argue with that evidence, counselor!
  4. Join clubs, so that you can meet people. Ok, so I feel like I’ve done this before.  Maybe all the engineering clubs are full of men, but they’re either too young, too married, or too…well, not my type.  I need a cool engineer, like me.
  5. Wear sandals; you get used to them. Hey, Mary and I walked all over the city, and through several condos, so I wore sneakers with my dress.  I wasn’t there to pick up guys.  So what if I looked like a tourist – I was one!

I asked a couple of bankers what they thought of these rules (ok, not the last one—that one’s solid).  Yes, bankers—they were nice, we were having a good time, and so I asked ‘em what they thought.  They were married, so they had no vested interest in whether I used the rules or not.  The convo went something like this:

Banker #2 said, “I’m sure it’ll get you married, but it might get you divorced.  You should be yourself.”

Wait, I should be myself and put out as soon as possible?  What kind of a slut does he think I am?  And does he expect a guy to divorce me because I love sex?  Or does he think that I’ll get married and go back to wearing sneakers with dresses?

“Well, uh, I’m not going to comment on whether you should or should not put out.  I do think you should join clubs, so that you can meet people who share your interests.  And then, if you hit it off, great!” the first banker said.

The second banker said, “No, don’t join groups just to meet people!  Join them because you want to be there and want to be doing those things.  If you meet someone, they don’t have to love all the same things as you; you should share some interests and have some things that you do, that he doesn’t, and the other way around.”

“That’s what I said,” Banker #1 (the hot one) said.  Too bad he’s married!  “Join a running club, meet some people, and if you find a guy there to date, then you know that you have running in common.”

“No!  Don’t do that!  If you like running, then join the group, fine.  But don’t do it expecting to meet someone!” Banker #2 (the funny one) said.

“Um, I think you’re saying the same thing, in different words,” I finally said.

Banker #2 wasn’t sure, but he quit arguing.  “So, do you know anyone in San Diego?” he asked.

“No, I don’t,” I answered honestly.  “I’m going for a new job.  It’s exciting and scary and OMG I can’t believe I’m leaving TEXAS!!!”

“Have you visited yet?” Banker #2 asked.

“Yes, my friend and I went house hunting,” I said.

“Ah ha!” he said.  “So you DO have a friend there!”

I just looked at him.  Then I explained verrrrry slowwwwwly, “My friend and I bought tickets and boarded an airplane, so for the short time that we were in San Diego, yes, I had a friend there.  However, since we are now back in Texas, having returned from our trip, I no longer have a friend in that city.”  Like, DUH!  I imported a friend for the weekend!

Ok, that sounds a tiny bit pathetic.  Stay with me here.

“And who is your friend?” he asked, voice dripping with suspicion, leaning forward and glancing slyly at Banker #1, as though saying, We’ve got her now!  She has to confess!

I wonder what I was supposed to be guilty of.  Having a friend?  Having a lover?  Did he think that I was hiding a hot guy in my closet?  Well, sorry to disappoint!

I answered, quite honestly, “My friend Mary.  She’s a 65-year-old grandma, who is a dear friend of mine.  I was very grateful that she agreed to house hunt with me.”

Sigh.  I wish my travel partner had been a hot guy!  (No offense, Mary.  I’m sure you wish that I was a hot guy, too.)

The movers will be here on Monday and I’ll drive into the sunset on Tuesday.  Ok, I’m driving west, so technically, I’ll be driving into the sunrise.  At any rate, I’ll be leaving my beloved Texas, friends, and family behind to start a new life on the west coast.  As much as they’re sorry to see me go, several have promised to come visit.  It warms my heart to have such great friends.  Ah, who am I kidding—they’ll be visiting San Diego, not me!!

And who can blame them?!  The city is gorgeous, the weather is fabulous, and there’s so much to do!  Legoland, the zoo, Balboa Park (which is 140% the size of New York’s Central Park and boasts 17 museums PLUS gardens, and more!), Little Italy, the Gaslamp District, Old Towne, and…what else? Hmmm, what did I leave out?

THE OCEAN!!

Jack told me, “Mom, I don’t like the ocean.”

I answered, “Sweetheart, you’ve never seen the ocean.”

“Yes, I have,” he answered, “I’ve been to Galveston and Port Aransas.”

I stared at him in silence for a moment.  Oh, no, the boy was serious!!  “Um, Jack?  Those are Texan cities on the Gulf of Mexico.  Comparing the Gulf to the ocean is like comparing a bathtub to a swimming pool: they both have water, but they’re verrrrrrrry different.”

He said, “I reserve judgment until I see it.”

His sister first saw an ocean in 2010, on the east coast: she ran to it, jumped up and down like a child (she was a mature 12 years old at the time), and insisted that I splash in the waves with her.  Then we had to build a sand castle—YES WE HAD TO!  It’s MANDATORY when visiting a REAL BEACH for the first time.  At least, that’s what Sally I-Love-the-Ocean-And-I’m-Never-Going-Home Strawberry told me!

So now you know why I haven’t posted in a while.  And now you know that you have much to look forward to: stories of my adventure in a new state with foreign customs!  Ok, so California isn’t really “foreign,” per se, but Trust Me when I say it’s a different culture!  Who knew that you’re not supposed to wear sneakers with a dress!

(Ok, so I knew that.  I was just throwing out a convenient example.)

And I may just have to try Match.com again, with Carol’s pinpoint precision instructions.  Who knows – maybe I’ll actually meet a guy.  And maybe—just maybe—I’ll want to marry him.

Hey, I’m a dreamer!

Cheers!

P.S.  “All my exes live in Texas.  That’s why I hang my hat in San Diego!!”

P.S.S. It’s not strictly true, but I’m going to say it anyway.  Sorry, King George, for misquoting you!

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My sad face when I had to get on the plane leaving San Diego.

Hello, Handsome – Part II

 

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My first real cowboy hat!  2006

“Have you ever been to San Antonio?” Harry asked me on Tuesday during our nightly conversation.

“Why, yes.  Back in 2002 my friend Edward—the gorgeous black bodybuilder—took me to San Antonio to check out a club.  Turns out it was a swinger’s club.  I danced on a pole and chatted with a really cute, nice couple.  Edward sprang for a hotel room (for just the two of us; I don’t get into the swinger thing).”  That would have been the most honest answer, but may have been a little too much honesty, so I opted for a shorter answer.  “I’ve been there a couple of times, but haven’t been there for years.”

“Let’s go.  I’ll drive and get the hotel rooms.  What do you say?”

“Separate hotel rooms?” I was just seeking clarification; didn’t want him to think I was scared of him, but I didn’t want to make assumptions, either.

“Of course.  We can go this weekend if you like,” Harry said.

“Sounds great!” I answered.

I called Portia to let her know.  She was excited for me.  “If ya’ll are still dating in February,” She joked, “You’ll need to send candy to Dawn to say, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day and Thank you!’  What am I saying—ya’ll don’t need to send candy, Harry will!”

We giggled.

“I’ll be in Austin this weekend, too.  Ok if I stay at your house?”  Portia’s ex-husband still lived in Austin (she had just moved to San Angelo the year before) and so Portia dropped their son off every other weekend for visitation.  I had given Portia a key to my house long ago and told her that she was free to come and go as she pleased.

“Of course you’re welcome.  Mi casa es su casa,” I told her.

So Portia was there when Harry arrived.  I had her take pictures of us in front of Harry’s truck and the grin on my face was so goofy in love that it was my favorite picture for a long time after.

My house is about 1.5 hours from San Antonio, on the north side of Austin, which means that Harry and I had plenty of time to talk along the way.  I’ve never been shy, so I came right out with what was on my mind.

“What’s your definition of a girlfriend?  I mean, when can you call someone your girlfriend?”  I asked.

“I don’t know, I hadn’t really thought about it.”  He replied, pensively.  “What do you think?  Clearly you’ve had time to think about it.”

“Well, there are three main criteria,” I said.  “First, a couple has to agree to be exclusive, which means they aren’t dating anyone else.”

“Ok, I can agree to that.  I’m not dating anyone else; are you?”

“Nope,” I said, a little surprised that he was applying the list to us immediately.

“Ok, what else you got?”

“You’ve got to date a certain period of time.  I’m not sure how long—my friends and I talked about at least 2 dates, or at least a month, but we couldn’t really agree.  What do you think?”

“Well I think that if you like someone, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been dating,” Harry said, with conviction.  “What’s your third criteria?”

“That both people agree to use the titles.  I say that because I’ve known guys that just hate to be called ‘boyfriend.’ It scares them off, or they just don’t like titles.  What do you think?”

“I think,” Harry said, taking my hand while watching the road, and observing me with little glances to gage my mood, “That I know that I like you, I’m not dating anyone else, and I’m fine with calling you my girlfriend, if that’s what you want.”

I was a little surprised.  “Yes, of course!” I said.  Wow, what a great guy!

“Good.  Now that we’ve got that taken care of,” he said, “Do you want to stop at Cabella’s?”

Cabella’s is a new store located in Buda, just south of Austin.  It is a huge sports/hunting/fishing store featuring an indoor waterfall, stuffed animals (real ones, not the kids’ toys), and all the equipment a sports nut could dream up.  It was so huge that it had become a tourist attraction; the signs on the highway announced the exit.

“Sure,” I said.  Though not a hunter myself, I was curious to see this colossal superstore.  And it was everything that I expected it to be.  From the outside, it looked like a mall.  On the inside, it still reminded me of a mall; only, instead of stores, it had departments:   Fishing department, Gun department, Clothing department: different camouflage patterns, shirts with deer heads printed on them, hip waders, rubber boots, etc.  As we toured the testament to man’s love of nature, we chatted some more and held hands.

“Help me out here—I’m a little hazy on the dates.  When did you marry Jamie?” I asked.

“I knew this would come up,” Harry said, visibly nervous.  He looked around, trying to decide how to word his answer and said, “We got married in April 2003.  We were married just over two years.”

I tried to do the math in my head and it just didn’t sound right.  “That means you got divorced—when?”

“In May.”

“This past May?”  He nodded.  My mind was having trouble digesting this info.  That meant that he was married in April when we met.  Was he wearing a ring?  I couldn’t remember.  But it wouldn’t matter; lots of married people had bare hands.  The engineers that I worked with called rings a safety hazard.

Harry saw the confused look on my face and said, “I know you have a rule against dating guys within a year of their divorce,” Harry said, tensely, carefully, “That’s why I didn’t mention it before.”  Damn right, I have a rule, and for good reasons!  I’ve been bitten by this one before.  I struggled against the urge to run, scream, or both.  I took a deep breath.  I decided that given the opportunity to go home and wonder “What if” or spend the weekend in picturesque San Antonio with the handsome Mr. Handsome, I’d take the latter.

I smiled at him and said, “Well, we’re here now, I’ll take my chances.”  He let out the breath he’d been holding and smiled back at me.  We walked around for a while talking about the various equipment.  He carried around some ammo for a while, but then thought better of having to transport it all the way back to San Angelo, and put it back.

We were walking through the clothes—thermal underwear for the cold mornings tracking deer—when I asked Harry, “Where would you live if you could live anywhere?”

“My sister is in Tennessee, so maybe there,” he began.  “Or Fort Worth.  I’ve done some job shopping online—nothing serious, just seeing what’s out there—and FW has some ME jobs in the medical manufacturing industry; I could live there.  San Antonio’s nice, too.  I’m vested at J&J; if I stay two more years, then I’ll be fully vested.  So I’m going to try to stick around until then.  What about you?” he countered.

“I love Texas and I want my kids to be around family, where are here.  If I could have any job, it would be working for NASA.  But the jobs I wants are in California or Colorado.  Since I don’t want to leave the state, I’d rather live in Austin, San Antonio, or Fort Worth.  San Angelo is nice, too.”  I smiled at him.

“Did they tell you when you’d find out if you have the job?” Harry had insider knowledge yet pretended that he didn’t.  I respected his strong ethics; a lesser man would have told me what the interviewers decided.

“The HR rep said two weeks,” I replied, “Which was over last week. I sent an email to Kathy and she responded that I should hear back from them next week.”

Harry shook his head.  “That human resources department is so slow.”

We had walked around most the store (though not seen everything, I’m sure, since it is so huge), so Harry asked, “Ready to go?”

From there we went to San Marcos, which is the next major city on I-35.  San Marcos is known for its outlet malls.  Buses of Mexicans arrive every weekend, since the border is only a couple of hours away, and Texans drive for miles for the chance to get a name brand outfit for a good price.  Harry and I decided to look around.  I wanted some cute tops and Harry wanted some sunglasses.

Harry bought me three different tops from three different stores.  He’s a very patient shopper.  Maybe because has four sisters.  He pointed out shirts that he thought were cute.  We stopped in the Sunglasses Hut to get shades.  He tried on one wrap around pair and said, “Look!  McFly!”  He would have been happy to shop longer, but I felt like I was taking advantage as it were.  So we stopped for lunch.  I had seen a Schlotski’s Deli on the way in and suggested that, but when we started driving to it, we realized that it was on the other side of the interstate.  “Never mind,” I said, “We can eat at Applebee’s, right here.”

“If you want to eat at Schlotski’s, I don’t mind driving over there,” my ultra-sweet Boyfriend (!!) offered.  He was sincere in wanting to make me happy; there was no spite or frustration in his voice or eyes.  I didn’t really care; I could eat at either restaurant (they’re both franchises).  So we went to Applebee’s.

While we were sitting at the table, Harry said, “There’s this girl that I like…”  I stiffened up.  Was he dating someone else?  No, he told me in the car that he wasn’t.  “I’m taking her to San Antonio.”  OH he was talking about ME!  Duh.  In third person, how cute!

“Yes?”  I encouraged him to continue.

“How do I know that she likes me?”  He asked.

I laughed.  I couldn’t help it!  Here I was, all goofy over this guy, and he wasn’t sure that I liked him?!  I began in a Socratic way.

“She agreed to go with you to San Antonio?”

“Yes,” he responded.

“Does she ever hold your hand?” like in Cabella’s, surrounded by stuffed dead things, while pretending to enjoy the scenery?

“Yes.”

“Then she likes you,” I concluded.  Maybe not the best or well-thought out argument, but it worked.  Harry beamed a pleased, slightly embarrassed smile.  He looked so boyish and young, he was just too adorable!

“What about you?  You seeing anyone?”  He prompted.

“Sure, I’m dating this guy,” I responded.  “But I’m not sure about when we should—you know—be physically intimate.  In my experience, guys quit liking a girl afterward.”

He looked confused.  “I think physical intimacy should bring two people closer together,” he said.

“Well it seems to me that beforehand, there’s romantic dinners and flowers and such, and none of that afterward.”

“I think there should be more romance after,” he said, confidently.  I hoped that he was right (despite my experience to the contrary).  I smiled flirtatiously.

The rest of the weekend was like a dream: so perfect.  We checked into the hotel, which was the Hilton on the Riverwalk.  Our rooms were on one of the high floors and were gorgeous; the hotel had recently renovated, so the paint was fresh and carpet was new.  The rooms were spacious, too.  From that and the location, I could tell that Harry had spent some cash and I appreciated it.

After checking in, we went down to the Riverwalk.  It is beautiful.  It’s below street level, with lots of trees and plants, so that its mostly cool and shady.  (Texas is hot, even in October.)  Restaurants and shops line the river and at one end there’s a mall.  The river is only four feet deep in most places.  Harry and I walked and talked and ducked into a few art shops just off the Riverwalk.

That night we had dinner at a great TexMex restaurant.  At least, I think it was great; the margarita certainly was!  Then we walked over to Howl at the Moon, a piano bar.  We had fun watching the Aggie vs. UT Fight Song war!  He’s an Aggie (graduated from Texas A&M) and I’m a Longhorn (I attend the University of Texas at Austin.)  One piano player would start playing the A&M fight song, then someone would tip the other piano player and he would play the Longhorn’s Eyes of Texas Are Upon You.  This would go back and forth, as the crowd got more worked up and the tips piled up, until finally a winner was pronounced to much cheering and booing.  This night, the Longhorns were more generous than the Aggies.

We stayed for a couple of hours watching the piano players perform, then walked back to the hotel.  Harry was a perfect gentleman.

I was not the perfect lady.  I kissed him, letting him know that I wanted more.  We really could have gotten just one hotel room; but I’m glad that it was a choice.

Cheers!

********

This was part II of the story of Harry and I dating.  We were together for another month before it ended; that story isn’t as fun.  If you missed Part I, it’s here.

Come back next week; I hope to share some life-altering good news with you.

May your dates be hot, if you want them to be 😉

Cheers!

 

Hello, Handsome

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Jules & Portia, 2004

San Angelo is a typical west Texas town: dry, dusty, small.  Most of the occupants work for Johnson & Johnson, like Portia.  They hang out at the bar, church, or go to San Antonio (the closest big city) for fun.  So special events are exciting and get big crowds.

The Texas Wine & Food Festival was at the Coliseum, which was an all-purpose building; even the rodeo was held there.  The vendors set up along the perimeter of the oval and tables filled the middle.  The dirt floor was uncovered.

*************

This story is set in 2005, the last semester of my undergrad degree.  I needed to find a job before I graduated, because I had two little mouths to feed (well, three if you count mine).  I couldn’t afford time to look around for a job.  I didn’t expect to find a lover, too.

*************

As we walked in, Portia remarked, “They have a live band!”

“Of course, this is Austin, Texas—Live Music Capitol of the World.”  I looked at Portia’s questioning face and burst out laughing.  “I’m not in Austin, am I?!”

“Nope.”

“Well, I have my best friend from Austin with me, so I feel at home, I guess!” I told her.  She smiled at the compliment.

As we walked around, Portia introduced me to the people she knew.  Which meant that every three feet we stopped to say hello to one of her coworkers.  I didn’t mind; they were all friendly Texans.

At the Capstone Wine booth, one of her friends begged her to help.  “Just for an hour, then Jamie will be here,” the woman said.

Portia apologized to me, “Sorry.  I volunteered to help with this a month ago, and then they said that they had it covered; anyway, I need to help them.”

“No worries, I can amuse myself,” I said.

Harry

I wandered over to the cars that were parked nearby.  A car salesman was getting people to register for a drawing and advertising the cars at the same time.

A handsome man about my age was looking the cars over, too.  I said, “Yep, looks like a car.”

He replied, “Four doors, windshield, tires…yep, looks like the cars that I’ve seen, too.  What a coincidence!”

I laughed and introduced myself.  “I’m Jules.  I’m a friend of Portia,” I pointed at Portia, who was pouring wine about 20 feet away.  “I’m from Austin.”

“Pleased to meet you,” he said, “I’m Harry Handsome. I work with Portia.”

Yes, you are, I thought, and shook his hand.  “Everyone here works with Portia.”

He returned the smile and nodded, “This is J&J Country.”

We continued our perusal of the vehicles.  Harry is about 5’7”, brown hair, brown eyes, and a wedding ring on his left hand.  Sigh.  He’s married.  Oh, well, at least I had someone to laugh with for a little while.  I almost wish that I didn’t have a date; I could hang with him all night.

Harry and I joked around some more, then he wandered off to get some food.  I wouldn’t see him again until October; but that’s another story for another time.

Girl Talk

“Dawn said that Harry really liked you,” Portia told me.  Dawn is her best friend in San Angelo.

“How does she know?  Did he tell her?”

“No, Dawn said that she could tell by the way he looked at you at the Texas Wine and Food Festival.”  I thought back to April and the funny guy that I enjoyed talking to by the car on display.

“I liked him, too.  Tell me about him.”

“Harry is about Pirate Boy’s height and build.”  Pirate Boy is 5’7” and petite (that’s a nice way of saying he’s skinny and small for a guy).  Since I dated him for over two years, Portia knew that I didn’t need a tall guy.  “Brown hair, brown eyes.  He’s a mechanical engineer and well liked.”

“And single, right?”  I asked.

“As far as I know.  Since you’re interested, I’ll make sure.”

I was visiting San Angelo for a job interview with Johnson & Johnson (Ethicon), the company that Portia worked for.  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to live in West Texas, but since Portia was like a sister to me, I’d have “family” there.  Also, Austin (my current hometown) was only 4 hours away.  That’s close enough for a weekend visit.  With nothing to lose, I accepted the interview.  At worst, I’d get an all-expenses-paid visit to see Portia.  At best, I’d get a job, and not have to worry about interviewing/job hunting –I could concentrate on finishing school.

I didn’t know that Harry was going to be one of my interviewers.  I was a little taken aback when I saw his name on the agenda that Kathy, the Human Resources (HR) representative, handed me the morning of my interview.  My mind raced; I could tell Portia not to invite him out with us.  ‘Cause I didn’t want him to think that I was hitting on him to get the job.  Then again, he was one of a dozen people that I talked to that day, and they all voted on whether to extend a job offer; so he didn’t have much pull as to whether I got hired.  Jeez, I hate being in this situation!

I put it out of my mind and concentrated on the interviews.  The whole day was packed from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Harry was part of my second interview, along with Ed, the HR manager.  When Harry shook my hand, he said, “Good to see you again.”  Shocked, I was momentarily at a loss for words.  He remembered meeting me in April, 6 months ago?  Cool!

I pulled it together and smiled at my interviewers.  Now was not the time to flirt, it was time to be charming, intelligent, and dazzling.

Harry said, “One of the advantages of working with J&J, is that they have different locations.  I could transfer to Tennessee if I wanted.”

I hope he didn’t want to move; I was looking forward to getting to know him.  Shifting my focus, I concentrated on the human resources rep, because my thought about Harry were too distracting.

After the interview was over (I nailed it, btw), Harry walked me to the next interviewer.  At the door, he shook my hand formally, but smiled warmly and winked.  I blushed and totally wished that it was time for happy hour.

The rest of the interviews went well.  The last interview was the most challenging.  Three interviewers (two engineers and one HR rep) sat with me in a small room and asked me more behavioral questions.  The last question they asked was, “Describe a time where you failed and how you handled it.”

I said the only thing that came to mind.  “My divorce signaled the failure of my marriage.  The root cause, I believe, was communication.  So after the divorce, I studied communicating.  The most helpful books were How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray, and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber.  The last is a parenting book, but it helped me to talk to other adults as well.”

The interviewers seemed to appreciate my answer and thanked me whole-heartedly for my time.  A couple looked like they wanted to hug me.

I was done and thoroughly exhausted at 2 p.m.  Went to the library to check email, called Mom.  I told her, “They have some cool machines, but I don’t want to work there.  Manufacturing is not what I want to do.”

Mom said, “That’s why you do these on-site interviews, to find out that you don’t want to work there.  That’s not a wasted trip.”

“You’re right,” I said, because Mom usually is.  “Still, I felt guilty, especially because Portia was so excited about the possibility of us being neighbors and coworkers.  We wouldn’t work directly together, we’d be in different departments in different parts of the complex, but we could still have lunch together.”

Mom sympathized with me, “Yes, that would’ve been fun, but you’ll find friends to have lunch with, at a job that you like better.”

“I guess.  Thanks, Mom.  I love you,” I said.  She echoed the phrase and we ended the call.

Happy Hour

The pool hall was the next stop.  Portia said that she invited several people, including Harry.  We drank, played pool.

An old man flirted with me, half-heartedly.  “We don’t see too many pretty women in here,” he said.  “You must be new in town.”

I laughed.  “You may be old enough to be my grandfather, but you just made my night!  Thank you!”

Harry showed up with two friends (Jeff and Mack).  Jeff was a hunk: tall (~6’0”, muscular (obviously worked out).  I was tempted, but stayed focused on Harry.  After all, Jeff wasn’t an engineer.  I’ve dated guys without college degrees and they just don’t understand my nerdiness.  I couldn’t talk to Mike the Plumber about physics class and the disparity in our educations made him a little defensive.  So now I’m looking for a guy as nerdy as me.  With a little sigh of regret, I tore my eyes away from Jeff’s pectorals and concentrated on Harry.

He seemed surprised by the attention.

Jeff was miffed that I wasn’t more interested, evidenced by how much he teased Harry.  “Come on, Harry!  Have a drink!”  Then to me he said, “Harry gets drunk after 2 beers.  Once, we drove to the edge of town and drank in the park.  He was falling down after 2 and a half cold ones!”

I just rolled my eyes; like I cared whether a man could hold his liquor.

Portia let her boyfriend Frank lead her onto the dance floor (the open area by the juke box).

“Wanna?” I asked, and nodded in that direction.

“Nope, I don’t dance,” Harry answered.  “But I like watching.”

So I went on the floor by myself.  I’ve never been very shy, and I love to dance, and so I did.

Later, we exchanged numbers and hugged goodnight.  I didn’t have a good read on how well the night had gone.  Sure, he had stuck around until Portia and I said it was time to go; but was he just being a gentleman, so that I wouldn’t be a third wheel?

Saturday

I didn’t have long to wonder.  The next morning, Harry called me about 9 a.m.  I took it as a good sign that he didn’t wait a day or two to call me.  I agreed to lunch and he picked me up promptly at 11:30 a.m.

After the usual, “Where do you want to go,” conversation, we wound up at Chili’s.

“I love Chili’s,” I told him, “It’s a good, American restaurant with a variety of foods.  You can a hamburger or fajitas, a salad or flatbread pizza – which means that you can decide while you look at the menu.  It’s a great place to bring kids, too.”

“So you have kids,” he said.

“Yes.  Jack is 11 and Sally is 8.  They are blonde-haired, blue-eyed little angels—though I may be a little biased,” I said, and we laughed.

“When did you get divorced?” he asked.

“We separated in August 2000 and our divorce was official in October 2001.  We waited over a year to give the kids time to get used to the idea.  What about you, ever been married?”  I always hold my breath when waiting for someone to answer that question, ever since one guy told me that marriage was forever and he was only doing it once.  Well, duh, don’t we all hope for that?!

“Yes, I was married for just over two years.  She was young and we rushed into it.  We just weren’t compatible,” he said, then quickly changed the subject.  I’m glad; I didn’t want to spend the entire meal commiserating about failed marriages.  “So you went out with Joe back in April, is that right?” he asked.

“Yes.  We got along fine, had a good time.  Talked on the phone once or twice since then.  Guess we just didn’t like each other well enough to have a long distance relationship.”

“That happens,” Harry acknowledged.

“We’re friends now.  Had dinner last night, even.  It was nice.”  I paused, not really knowing where to go from there.  So I did what I always do when I’m nervous and don’t know what to say: I babbled.  “Portia set me up a couple of times before that.  Once was a plumber who left me on my 30th birthday.”

“No!  On your birthday?!” Harry exclaimed, shocked.  He was so animated that, had it been anyone else, I would’ve thought that he was being sarcastic.

“Ya.  And then there was the guy that bought me jewelry and poetry after our first date.”

“What?!”

“I know I’m beautiful, but he went a little overboard.” I rolled my eyes.  “Of course, I was the first person that he dated after his divorce.  Now I have a rule that I don’t date a guy within a year of his divorce.”

“Really?” Harry seemed interested.  I swear his ears perked up.

“Ya.  Guys—girls, too—go a little crazy after a divorce.  They aren’t centered.  Even people like me, who were separated for a long time before the actual divorce, need time to get their heads together.  You know Portia; she really went wild.  She hadn’t been with anyone but her husband, and was kinda of a prude.  Since the divorce, she’s been with three different guys.  She’s like a new person.  I’m ready for her to calm down and go back to normal!”

“You’re right, she has been different since her divorce.  I didn’t know that she was that wild.”

We paused for a minute while he struggled with what to say next.  He surprised me by changing the subject entirely.  “What do you think about San Angelo?”

“Well, I like what I’ve seen so far, which isn’t much!  Are there any parks where we can go hiking?  Or at least go for a walk?”

“Parks, yes—but they’re not big enough for hiking.  I can show you, if you like.”

The park was representative of domestic West Texas: mostly grass, some trees, with an unexpected garden oasis.  We talked and walked for a couple of hours.  The flowers delighted us, we swung on the swings, and in a magical moment under a canopy of green trees, he kissed me.  It was a perfect moment.

“What do you think about joint checking accounts?” Harry asked.

“I had one when I was married.  Not at first; in the beginning, I was writing checks out of two checkbooks and balancing two checkbooks.  That seemed silly; it was just extra work; so we combined our accounts.  Why do you ask?”

“When I got married, I wanted to keep our accounts separate, but Dad said that married people should have joint accounts.  He talked me into it.”  Harry made a face like he just tasted a sour pickle.

“What about the kids?” he asked.

“What about them?  They have a father and a father figure (in my father).  I’m their mother.  They’re good.”

He thought about that for a moment.

“I’m not looking for a dad for them.  I’m looking for a partner for me.”  He accepted that and looked a bit relieved.  I can only imagine that going from single with no kids to being a step dad of two half-grown children would be intimidating.

That night he had a prior engagement and invited me along.  His friend Tanya was in a beauty pageant.  Tanya is a beautiful 20-year-old college student intern at J&J.  She’s about 5’6” with shoulder-length brown hair, brown eyes, and dark that skin implied a Mexican ancestry so common to Texas.

The pageant was interesting: besides Tanya, the contestants included a large girl who barely concealed her nervousness as her family and friends cheered her on and a couple of professional contestants who (we later learned from Tanya) traveled to different pageants.  One of these last women won.  She was a bleached blonde, tanned beauty who looked more like Ms. Santa Monica than Ms. San Angelo.  Afterward we went to a restaurant for dinner with Harry’s family and friends.  She confided how the new Ms. SA had stretch marks and cottage cheese fat that looked awful up close, but weren’t visible in the audience.  Plus it didn’t seem fair that residency wasn’t a requirement; the winner was from Houston, an 8-hour drive away!

Harry dropped me off at Portia’s house with a kiss good night.  I floated in with hearts in my eyes.  I might have to rethink whether I’d accept the job, if I were offered it; San Angelo just got a lot more attractive.

**************

What a great memory!  Come back next week for the second half of this flashback.

Cheers!