Thursday, January 24, 2013


Sooo, if twitter peeps are called tweeps...are blogger peeps called bleeps???

If so, you bleeps are the best bleeps out there! This month, my blog has the highest amount of readers EVER. When I looked back at my numbers since November 2009 - the very inception of this project - January 2013 blows all those stats out of the freaking water! I guess that's what happens when you actually write every day?

Speaking of which, I'm sorry I've been completely remiss since the weekend. I came down with a crappy bug and have been tucked into bed, sick and miserable and wishing I could do something, anything, besides sneeze and sleep. Finally came out of my cocoon today to brave the twelve degree New York winter weather and am curled up in Starbucks with a sandwich and a chai. It's taking me twice as long to type this entry as my fingers are alternating between the keyboard and wrapping themselves around the hot mug!

I have found a new purpose for my life in this blog. Someone (who shall not be named because his very existence makes no difference in the world) recently called me selfish. Me??? Selfish??? The old me would have been insulted. The old me would have been outraged. The old me would have cried and apologized and tried to prove that I am, in fact, the sweetest, most caring, most generous girl in the whole world.

You know what though? I AM the sweetest, most caring, most generous girl in the whole world, whether he says so or not! Maybe 31 is precisely the time to BE selfish! Maybe 31, not married, without kids, IS the time that my life should revolve around ME.  I spent years giving to everyone else and taking nothing for myself. I spent years thinking about everybody except Kim. Life was always about what would make my family happy, my friends happy, my husband happy. Today? My life is about what makes me happy. This blog is one of those things that makes me irrevocably, irrepressibly, irresistibly happy. And I blatantly refuse to give it up. Not for anyone.

I was in a relationship with this nameless man, you see, and it lasted far too long. The whole thing was a mistake from beginning to end, which I only see clearly now that the fog of him has lifted. I love this blog. He implored me to stop writing. I love going to bible study. He hated my church and didn't believe in God. I love my cats. He was "allergic" (total lie.) I love my friends. He didn't get along with them and asked me to sacrifice my time with them to spend with him. I'm ashamed to admit that I caved to a great many of his requests, but I didn't feel like me. I had gotten lost somehow.

This blog, through its ups and downs, has helped me rediscover who I am at the core. I am unapologetically myself, which is not something I could always have said. I am braver, stronger, smarter, and happier than I've ever been, and in huge part, I have all of you to thank. You've encouraged me to get back out there, to put my heart on the line, to believe in myself and, more importantly, to believe in love again. You've laughed with me, cried with me, had drinks with me. You've followed me, liked me, read me, and even come to see me. You should know that you are helping to change something in me. You are making a difference in the world. This is of utmost importance. Imagine we all did this for each other. Imagine we all encouraged every woman we know to be her most courageous self. To make decisions that are good for her. To follow her own heart. To be a little selfish. The men we date would have NO chance to hurt us because we would know how incredibly beautiful, valuable, and special we are. To ourselves, to God, and to each other.

Every one of you is special to me. THANK YOU for kicking my ass on this journey --- for making me go the distance, even when times are hard. Especially when times are hard! I have many more stories to share with you, from the gut wrenching to the ridiculous, and I'm so excited that you're all along for the ride.

Here's to Love in 2013 and to being (just a little) selfish!

Cheers and anti-bacterial soap,


Friday, January 18, 2013

No Words

Once. Only one time in my life have I been so incredibly drunk that I got sick everywhere and embarrassed the shit out of myself. I would like to take this time to publicly apologize to the girl whose birthday party that was, and don't worry - I completely understand why you haven't invited me to another one since then. Apparently, seven glasses of champagne before 3 pm on a Sunday plus no breakfast makes Kim the least pleasant drunk girl in the whole world.

As such, I vowed never to get disgustingly drunk ever again. Darren made no such promise and it's been three days since I heard from him.

Three. Whole. Days.

He got drunk, said I Love You, threw up everywhere, stormed off in the middle of the night, and hasn't been heard from since. I know that he's alive because his truck moved from the train station to the fire house to his home (not like I'm stalking him or anything...I was just worried! It's not stalking when you care!)

Point of the story is that Darren is alive and well somewhere, but he hasn't called me since the Love / Vomit incident. I am freaking out.

I finally cave and text him "Are you alive?" to which he simply responds "Yes." Well great, thanks for the confirmation. I give up. We've been dating long enough that I deserve something more than the post-intoxicated brush off. I deserve a phone call, a face to face meeting, an apology of some sort. What the fuck is going on here? Where is he??????

Later that night, after I've all but given up on my (as yet unnamed) boyfriend, he texts me "Can we meet? I feel awful." I don't know if he means that he feels physically awful but the alcohol really should've worn off by now. I can only assume he means emotionally awful, which makes me feel a little better, quite honestly. He SHOULD feel terrible for the way he treated me, for the way he acted. I've been crushed for 72 hours, not knowing which way was up. He owes me an explanation.

We meet at a restaurant I've never been to before, but Darren is already sitting at a table towards the back. There's nobody around and he clearly comes here often as the waitress knows what he's gonna order before he orders it. I chose an outfit and make up that made me look sadly beautiful, but not like I made too much of an effort. Not like I want him seeing how much I care.

He stands up to hug me as soon as I walk in. His arms around me feel awkward. The hug is forced, not our usual easy way together. I don't know what's different, but something in him has changed, and I have the sneaking suspicion that it's not for the better.

"What's up?" he asks me, like we were just here to talk about our days or catch up as old friends. "Nothing," I sit back and cross my arms, hoping he can read my defensive body language. "What's up with you?"

"So I guess that you're pretty pissed at me, huh?"

"Gee, what would make you think that?" I ask sarcastically.

"You haven't called in three days," he replies looking a little hurt.

"Me??? I haven't called in three days??? I'm not the one who got shit faced, threw up everywhere, yelled and stormed off into the night. I'm not the one who needs to call and apologize for my inappropriate and offensive behavior."

He takes this all in, processing just how much of a jack ass he must've come off as that night. "I'm sorry," he begins, clearly unaware of just what happened. I wonder if he blacked out completely then, or his brain had just drowned in enough whiskey that he'd forgotten it all.

"I don't remember being that much of a dickhead, but if you say I was, then I was. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Kim, I really am. I hope you can forgive me for all that. Did I say or do anything particularly stupid or was I just kind of a general pain in the ass?"

"You really don't remember, do you?" I feel my face flush red, not at the memory of how poorly he'd treated me on the way home, but at the idea that he may not recall having said I Love You to me. Suddenly distraught at the notion that it was purely the Jameson talking, and not him. Terrified of reminding him, in case it turns out that Darren doesn't love me after all.

"What? Did I say I loved you or something stupid?" he leans back, laughing, then quickly sits up straight as an arrow when he sees my face change.

Stupid?!?! Loving me is stupid?!?! I feel all the blood drain from my head to my feet, making me feel both light headed and yet insanely heavy. I cannot move. I am stuck to the floor, desperate to run away screaming and not let him see the tears as they start to stream down my face. But I can't. I just sit there with two ginger ales in between us, failing to wipe my salty, wet cheeks. Unable to go yet begging to be somewhere, anywhere else.

"Oh God, I did. I said I love you, didn't I? Kim, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. I never meant to say I love you. Not because I don't love you. I do. Kind of. Love you. In my own completely fucked up way. I just can't love you. I shouldn't. I don't deserve you. I don't even know why you're with me. This doesn't work. You. Me. Us. It doesn't work. It's stupid and we never should've started and I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt you. I never meant to hurt you. You're the best girl in the whole world and I'm just too messed up to be with you. Trust me when I tell you that you're so much better off without me."

Finally, something I agree with.

I let him ramble on along these lines while I sat at the lonely table in the back of the restaurant, knowing it was coming this whole time but not wanting to admit it. Nobody asks for a date at lunchtime on a weekday, at a table in a section that's not even open yet, unless they're having an affair or breaking up. I was devastated. Nothing could have cheered me up in that moment. Nothing.

Except maybe...

"You deserve an explanation. Do you want to hear the truth? Fair warning: it might hurt."

I'm not sure how anything could hurt more than hearing that loving me was stupid, but sure, go ahead and try.

"There's this girl. Megan."

Oh sweet heavens. Please. Please don't tell me there's someone else. Is this why we're not sleeping together? Is this why he refuses to call himself my boyfriend? Is this why loving me is stupid?

"It's not what you think. Megan is not my girlfriend. She's not even really a friend. But she's someone I've been involved with...for quite some time."

What the fuck is he talking about?

"Megan is a dominatrix..." he trailed off, unable to look at me anymore. "She's a professional dominatrix and she's been MY dominatrix for the last several years. We have a very...ummm...intimate relationship."

He's kidding. He's got to be kidding. Right? Am I being punked right now? Ashton Kutcher better jump out from behind the bar any minute because if not, I am going to SCREAM!

"She found out that I was dating you from one of her other partners, and we have a very open relationship, but she was angry with me that I didn't come to her first, so she withheld contact from me this whole time. It's part of the power, the control - her part in the relationship is complete control. We work because we trust each other, I trust her absolutely, she would never do anything to hurt me or push me beyond where I want to go, and she trusts that I will do exactly what she tells me to do. All the time. No questions asked. At first, she didn't tell me not to date you, she just didn't say anything about it, but then as time went on, she told me what to do and what not to do and I know that you were worried about why we---you and I---weren't being physical together. Megan didn't want me being with you in that way. I knew she had her reasons, and I can't question them."

Wait a minute. A professional dominatrix was controlling my relationship from behind the scenes the whole time? The whole fucking time??? What am I, some puppet in their little game?

"Essentially, yes," Darren replied without the slightest hint of irony. "She controls me, my life, my sex life, everything. I want her to. I like it that way."

Oh. My. God. This is 50 Shades of Unreal.

"Anyway, when I started introducing you to my friends and family and saw how much they loved you, I knew I couldn't just walk away from Megan and start a life with you. She means too much to me. Everything we do means so much to me. She gets me, she understands me, she pushes me to do all sorts of crazy, weird, uncomfortable things that nobody else would approve of, nobody else could comprehend. Megan has made me do things to her I wouldn't even speak of in front of you. She does things to me. She has other people do things to me. Women, men, groups of people, all for her pleasure. I am at her whim. I can't help it. I do love you, but a life with you is not possible without Megan in the picture. And you don't want that. You want me all to yourself and so does she. I can't choose between you. She'll make me choose her. I will always have to choose her."

There are some moments in life for which there are no words. This was one of them.

"Megan called me over last night and demanded that I fuck her. A lot."

My mouth dropped open in shock and horror. He'd been with me for so long and we'd never even fooled around, let alone slept together! I was simultaneously offended and grateful for our lack of a physical relationship, thanking the powers that be for no need to get tested after this break up (although it didn't stop me from feeling icky and wanting to scrub my body with hot bleach and a dozen pumice stones!)

"I didn't do it," Darren said, finally looking at me. "I didn't do it, but I know I should have. I disobeyed her and it hurt both of us. It may have ended our relationship by not fucking her last night. But when I was over there, looking at her, all I could picture was your sweet face - looking much like you do right now - how hurt you'd be if you ever found out. So I can't do this anymore. I just can't be with you. You're too good for me and I don't deserve you. You need someone else. Anyone else. I'm sorry, Kim. I do love you but..."

In that instant, that "but," my heart connected with my brain and kicked my feet into high gear. I stood up from the table and walked away as fast as I could, not even looking back. Darren called after me, but I couldn't be anywhere near him, couldn't even bring myself to say goodbye. He'd said enough for both of us. There was nothing left to say.

And that is the story of how a psychic told me I'd meet my soul mate in a bar, he turned out to be my junior high crush, we fell crazy head over heels for each other, I got thrown up on, and was dumped for a professional dominatrix who forced my boyfriend to fuck other men.

I guess there are words after all.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Save The Date

He said I Love You!

He did say I Love You, didn't he?

I'm pretty sure he said I Love You.

Why did he say I Love You?

Why did he throw up right after he said I Love You?


Just to recap: Darren and I have been dating for a while now. I've met his family. They loved me. I've met his friends. They loved me. I've met the guys at his firehouse. They loved me. And tonight, Darren has met my friends for the first time and confessed that he too, loves me.

Right before he vomited everywhere.

He threw up in the bar. He threw up on the street. He threw up on the train. He threw up at the train station. He threw up on himself. It seemed like every time he looked at me on the way home, he threw up. I was trying to blame the whiskey for his spewing and not take it so personally. To be perfectly honest though, when a man says he loves you for the first time, and follows it up by regurgitating 48 hours worth of food and drink, it's a little more difficult to believe that the two are not related.

I want to think that Darren loves me. His kisses tell me he loves me. His hand in mine tells me he loves me. His calls and texts and our time together tell me that he loves me. His friends and family quite literally tell me he loves me. But now he's said it. Now it's out there. Now the words are hanging between us, mixed with the sour stench of alcohol induced puke, and they're tainted. This is not the sweet, sincere, soul-mate profession I was so badly hoping for. This is love at it's most putrid. The foul odor of destiny gone terribly, horribly wrong.

I get him out of the bar, across town, on the train, and all the way back to our hometown safely. He bounces back and forth between throwing up, sleeping, and saying I Love You a few more times. I don't know whether to be flattered or humiliated so I decide it's best to wait until he's sober to approach the topic again or declare my reciprocal feelings for him. Besides, at this exact moment, I don't love him very much. He  slid with alarming velocity from fun / happy / life of the party drunk to sloppy / sick / disgusting drunk. I hate that I'm forced to live in his shadow again, everyone following us out of the bar with "Is Darren ok?" and "Can you make it home with him?" and "Tell him we had a great time tonight!" My awesome show is quickly forgotten, even by our most loyal audience members. You'd think they came out to drink with Darren tonight, instead of to see me and my team perform on stage. Frustrated and hating my sudden responsible, good girl, mommy image, I drag him through Manhattan and back to Long Island. His head on my shoulder while he snoozes on the train is sweet, and I am tempted to forgive him and forget the whole evening. After all, he did kick in a locked door and rescue a trapped girl tonight! Then he vomits profusely on the inside of the train door before it opens, stinking up the entire carriage with his Jameson infused bile, complete with greenish yellow chunks of indistinguishable stomach contents and I flip right back to angry.

This is NOT how I imagined our date. It is especially not how I pictured the first time a man I *may* want to spend the rest of my life with would tell me he loves me. I want to stomp my feet and ball my hands into fists and throw a full on Toddlers and Tiaras style temper tantrum at him. But I don't. Because I am a grown up.

(But I want to. Just for the record.)

Once we are safely off the train and away from the hoards of rightfully pissed off passengers, I tell him that he has two choices: he can come home with me, or I can drive him back to his house. He immediately stiffens up and declares that he is perfectly fine to get home by himself thankyouverymuch. I insist that he is not, in fact, ok to get himself home and I refuse to allow him to drive in this condition. If he wants to get himself killed, he can do it on his own time, but he is not risking anyone else's safety and well being on the roads just because he over imbibed tonight. If anything happened to him or someone else while he was driving, I could never forgive myself. I take his Jeep keys away so he's forced to take me up on my offer. "My place or yours?" I insist. Darren's whole face changes into an expression I've never seen. If I didn't know better, I would think it was rage. If I didn't know better, I would think he was capable of beating me down for those keys. I take a step back. He steps towards me and falls in a snowbank.

"Fine!" he yells, "I'll sleep at the firehouse. I don't need you!" With a few stumbling starts, Darren turns and walks away from me. It is 3 in the morning, he has to cross the highway, and I am really worried about him, but the way he treated me puts me in no position to argue. I speed away and head to the firehouse, waiting around the corner to make sure he arrives safely. Then I drive back to the train station and leave his keys inside the tire, figuring I'll send a text in the morning when he's sobered up. Wondering how much of this he'll remember. Wondering if the night will exist in his mind at all. Wondering if this will go down as the date where Darren first said I Love You, or if it will be the date he got stupid drunk and scared the crap out of me. Wondering if this is the beginning of love for us, or if it is just the opposite. Wondering if it's The End.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mozzarella Sticks

Darren and I have been dating for several weeks but because we were friends first, it feels like much longer. It feels like he was always my boyfriend, he was always supposed to be my boyfriend, and he always will be my boyfriend.

Except he hasn't actually called himself my boyfriend yet. Weird, yes???

Anyways, we've gone on so many great dates, I have fallen harder and harder for him as time has gone on. We are just so easy together, so playful. He is incredibly proud to introduce me to his friends, show me off, tell our story. I love who he is and what he does for other people too. His friends and family say great things about him, this man I only knew as a boy. This new side of him, this grown up side is romantic and interesting and very impressive. He throws me over his shoulders on a whim, making me laugh and squeal and giggle and scream like a silly school girl. We have great back and forth, we are passionate kissers, and nothing seems dull or boring around him. Life is fun and exciting and new.

I realize after weeks of being in his world, that he is not nearly as enveloped in mine. I've met all of his friends from various places but he's spent no time with the people I care about the most. This must be remedied at once. When I find out that he has off on a night I'm performing in the city, I insist that he spend the evening with me in Manhattan and he is happy to oblige.

Our comedy team is spot on. We have great chemistry on stage, the audience erupts with laughter no matter what we do. Darren even throws out several "suggestions" for our improv games, making me adore him a little more for taking such an active part in the show! He laughs the hardest and the loudest, especially when I'm being ridiculous in a scene, making me want to work even harder to keep that lightheartedness going. The atmosphere is infectious and I don't want the night to end.

An hour flies by before we know it and it's curtain call at last. I am two parts proud and one part extremely embarrassed when, as we take our quick bow before running offstage, Darren doesn't just applaud --- he stands up, cheering, whooping and hollering at the top of his lungs. This causes a wave of standing ovation in the small and less than packed theatre, but it feels so good to know that we all experienced something magical that night. A live performance with high energy, great enthusiasm, and tons of memorable moments, which had never been done before and will never be seen again. Improv is like a rainbow that way. One minute it's here and absolutely amazing. The next minute, it's gone and leaves no trace behind.

Darren felt like my rainbow everlasting. He made me seem funnier, sweeter, smarter and sexier than I ever had before.

Although we weren't having sex. Also weird???

As I exit backstage, I hear someone crying. I cannot figure out who would be crying after an awesome show like we just put on, but I approach the bathroom and knock on the door. A girl's voice answers and I ask if she's ok. She cries harder and through broken words tells me she's locked in. Actually, she's been locked in there for several hours. Since before we went on stage. She's upset because she is stuck in a theatre bathroom but even more distraught that her boyfriend never came looking for her.

This poor girl! I try as hard as I can to get the door open but it is no use. I grab a screwdriver and try to take the knob off the door, thinking it will unlock but there is no way to undo it. I talk to her the whole time, trying to keep her calm, reassuring her that I'm doing everything I can to get her out (and so is the theater manager!) Finally, I go grab Darren because I can't think of anything more to do besides call 911. He's a firefighter, after all, so he must be able to think of something.

"What's her name?" he asks me. "Laura," I reply.

"Laura?" he says through the door, his voice confident and full of resolve. "I'm with the Fire Department. I want you to get as far away from this door as possible. Do you understand me? Back away from the door."

Laura calls back that she's safely tucked into a corner. Three seconds later, Darren has kicked the entire door down, busting it at the hinges, sparking riotous cheers from all the onlookers. I fly through the hole, seeing her shaking and shivering in the corner and hug her tightly. She grabs hold of me and just keeps repeating thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou. I escort her carefully out of the bathroom where Darren takes her from me and sits her comfortably on a chaise in the lobby. I get her water while he talks to her, keeping her calm and trying to stop her shaking, as the patrons file out past him, all offering their congratulations and slapping him on the back. The theater manager tells me that my group can perform anytime, as long as I bring the fireman with me! Everyone says they'll meet us at the pub and Darren will be drinking free all night long.

No one was kidding. Darren doesn't pay for a drink all night (and neither do I, for that matter!) He saved the day. He rescued the girl. He is the life of the party amongst both my friends and total strangers. He even got rid of Laura's useless boyfriend when she burst into hysterics over him not coming to check on her sooner. The guy showed up eventually, but it was too little too late for her. What can I say? Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have such a super great guy!

Darren pounds back one whiskey after another, keeping up with my teammates, my friends, the theater manager, the bartenders, and eventually drinking most of them under the table. It's late and I'm hungry so I order us onion rings, chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks. (Fried food makes me happy in times of intoxication!) I put a little plate together and find Darren in a booth, entertaining everyone around him as I've become accustomed to him doing. He is charming and witty and just the right amount of sarcastic. He's an excellent story teller and knows how to stay in the spotlight long enough to make everyone around him think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. This would normally be a compliment, but ever since he kicked the door in, nobody has even mentioned our show. Nobody is talking to me, other than to say "Your boyfriend is the best!" I smile because they're right, he is the best. But inside, I feel a twinge of sadness, because they're wrong about one thing. He is not, in fact, my boyfriend.

I approach the booth where Darren has a captive audience, regaling them with tales of the NYFD. He freezes mid story when he sees me, wrapping an arm around my shoulders and kissing me hard. "Isn't she just the sweetest, most beautiful girl in the whole world?" he asks. (Out loud. To the whole table. To practically the whole bar.) "And she's funny too! Can you believe it? She's tall and beautiful and smart and funny. I'm the luckiest bastard in all of New York!"

I hand him the plate of mozzarella sticks and force a smile. "Wait. First you're sexy as hell AND you also brought me mozzarella sticks?" he continues loudly. Yup! That's just the kind of girl I am. I wanted my friends to like him, and now they definitely do. "That's it. That does it. I love you. I seriously fucking love you."

And then he throws up.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Snowed Under

There is a sense of accomplishment in every relationship that comes when you hurdle over that first big thing. Everyone's "thing" is different. Maybe it's spending a holiday together. Maybe it's the death of a pet. Maybe it's a new apartment or new job or big promotion. That thing is what takes you from "just dating" to "dating" - as in, dating exclusively. Not dating anyone else. Because together, we survived the thing.

For Darren and I, the thing was meeting his friends. We got through it together. He had successfully introduced a woman to the people who mean the most to him. They loved me and I loved them. We all got along and his relief was palpable. I couldn't believe that it had taken him the better part of thirty years to bring a woman into his circle of friends, but in his words "there was never anyone else worth introducing before."

Darren wasn't a serial monogamist, like I am. He dated here and there, but it was mostly short term relationships. In fact, he never used the phrase "relationship" - that was all me. He'd had a few flings, a few girls he was interested in, but most of them were "hot enough but dumb as a stump" and thus, did not warrant any interaction with additional people. So why bring me around? "You're hot and smart and funny and sweet and people like you. I like you."

I knew that "I like you" was the most I was going to get out of him, at least for now, so I replied with my sweetest "I like you too" and sealed the sentence with a kiss. Several more dates went by; dinners, a few movies, drives around the island, nights out at the bar with guys from the firehouse. Every time we saw each other, I got those same butterflies I'd had the first night we reconnected. He flip flopped my stomach in unexpected ways. Who ends up with their Junior High school crush? Who gets to date someone today who's even more amazing than you thought they were all those years ago? Who doodles the same name in their grown up journal that was surrounded by hearts and Lisa Frank stickers in the Trapper Keeper two decades prior? Could I really be this lucky? Could Darren really be it?

"Babe?" he texted me, always the precursor to a question he didn't want to ask me. "Yeah babe?" I texted back, unsure what to prepare for next. "It's supposed to snow tonight, so I was thinking we shouldn't go out to dinner too far away." "Ok, no problem," I wrote back, waiting for the other shoe to drop. "Wanna come pick me up? We can stay close by."

I didn't do much of the driving while we were dating so this was a strange request, but I was happy to oblige. Being a modern, independent woman made me incredibly happy. Even more exciting was dating a man who appreciated these things about me. I packed a snow brush and shovel in my car (always be prepared!) and drove over to his house. When I got there, Darren invited me in to meet his parents "real quick before we left" --- yet another surprise meeting. I was getting used to him springing things on me at the last minute. He had done it once at the firehouse and once at the bar since the meeting of the friends party he didn't warn me about either. It seemed to freak him out less to introduce me to people if he didn't have to think about it too much beforehand. I realized that tonight, meeting the parents was no different.

As soon as I walked in, I smelled it. Dinner was in the oven. His parents were busy in the kitchen, his mom checking the potatoes for doneness, his dad chopping the salad. I was greeted with warmth and kindness, open arms from both his mom and dad, very reassuring and inviting. When all the pleasantries had been exchanged and my coat had still not been taken off, his mother looked at me with her head tilted to one side and said "Aren't you kids staying for dinner?" Darren sighed, "No mom. I told you we were going out." His mother looked deflated. "Oh. But you said she was coming over. We're so excited to meet you dear, we were so hoping you would stay so we could get to know you a little better."

I pleaded with Darren through my eyes, the uncertainty of the situation resonating between both of us. He shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets, not wanting to decide either way. If he said yes, we should stay, he was admitting he wanted me to forge a relationship with his folks. If he said no and insisted we leave, he was suggesting that no relationship was necessary between myself and his parents. Plus, he'd be disappointing his mom. If there's one thing I know about Jewish boys who still live at home, it's that they despise disappointing their mothers.

"Are those sweet potatoes you're making?" I smiled at Mrs S. She nodded with delight. "I guess I can't pass up sweet potatoes. We'd love to stay!" She clapped her hands together and practically squealed with delight. Dinner was almost ready and Darren was grabbing glasses for wine and setting four places at the table. I saw a deferential side of him that had never come through before. The obedient son side. The respectful family man. The tough guy at the firehouse, the bigshot with his friends, the romantic lover with me, they all gave way to the man he was brought up to be. A good son.

"Darren said you don't eat red meat, so I made chicken instead. I hope chicken is ok?" Mrs S chattered on in the kitchen while I stood against the counter, sipping my wine. "And he told us that you can't have red wine, only white so that's Chardonnay you're drinking. Chardonnay is good, yes?" I nodded my approval, feeling my cheeks flushing bright pink. "Oh, and don't worry, we know you're allergic to peppers so there are no pepper in the whole meal. I made everything pepper free!" She smiled at me so earnestly that I realized this had been the plan all along. I was simultaneously flattered at the amount of effort she put into a making a Kim-friendly meal and positively humiliated that he hadn't warned me this would be the first ever Dinner With His Parents. I would've made dessert! I would've brought the wine! I would've worn a different outfit. I at least wouldn't have been so shocked when she acted like the world crumbled around her when she thought we were going out to a restaurant because I thought that we were, in fact, going out to a restaurant. Darren saw me flushed and flustered and excused himself for a few minutes.

"He likes you, you know," she half whispered to me once he walked out of the room. "He won't admit it, but we can tell. A mother always knows."

Really? How can you tell if he won't say anything?

"For starters, you're the first girl he's ever brought home. In fact, you may be the only girl he's ever talked to us about. We know he goes out, he dates, he does his own thing. He's a grown man, we don't ask too many questions. But you...he can't seem to stop smiling over you. It's very sweet actually, finally seeing your son so happy with a woman. Encouraging, you know? You'll understand someday, when you have children of your own. You two do want children, don't you? His sister has children, obviously and we love them to pieces, but I simply cannot have enough grandchildren."

I wanted to shrink down like Alice and dive headfirst into my wine glass to hide. How could he leave me like this? How could he put me on the spot like this? And why on earth hadn't he brought any other girls home? Ever???

Mrs S sensed my hesitation and apologized. "I'm so sorry, Kim. I didn't mean to embarrass you. It's just that seeing him so happy lately, it's been very reassuring. We want him to find love and have a great life. I know he'd have that with you. You're good for him."

Thank goodness, the timer on the oven buzzed and the men came back into the kitchen, sensing it might be safe to return. We sat down for dinner and the conversation continued to be about how Darren and I reconnected, what we'd been up to while dating, where we wanted to go from here. They'd heard his side of our story but hung on my every word. I loved knowing that I wasn't the only person who thought this relationship might really go somewhere. It just might be the real thing after all. Darren and I might be the story to end all stories. We could make it work. We could make it last.

He cleaned up after dinner, clearing my place and his parents' places too. He loaded the dishwasher and wiped down the counters and put leftovers away in the fridge while they asked me about work and my family and my writing. They were so genuinely curious that I couldn't be mad about sitting through their personal version of the Spanish Inquisition (at least it was over wine!) Darren had that kitchen spic n span by the time his mother jumped up to make us tea and his dad peeled clementines and cut up fruit for dessert. While they took over, he showed me around the house, pointing out photos of him and his sister, his niece and nephew, family vacations, holidays, and childhood memories. I loved seeing him in his element, his home, his world. This was where he lived when we went to school together and I couldn't believe I got a sneak peak into that place. It felt like going behind the scenes in someone else's life.

When the tea and dessert were over, Darren said good night to his parents and we escaped with our mugs to his room for some much need snuggle time. There was a Top Chef marathon on tv and cuddled up in his arms in front of my favorite show was exactly the decompression I needed after the intense evening we'd had. His parents were incredibly nice people, I thought as I settled back against him, and I'm so lucky they're open to us being together. My ex husband had a dreadful family who never accepted me and my ex boyfriend's family was simply awful. They never liked me nor I them, so this whole "getting along with the parents" thing was definitively new territory for me. I could get used to it.

Two hours later, I woke up to alarm bells ringing. Abandon ship! Abandon ship! Women and children first! What the fuck is that noise?!?!

I didn't know where I was. I didn't recognize anything around me. Who was this person next to me? How did I get here? What are those alarms going off?

Darren reached over the bed and lowered the volume on his firemen's walkie. "Sorry babe," he said slowly, stretching out, completely unfazed. "Guess we fell asleep." It all came back to me. The television was still on Top Chef, the volume turned way down, the lights lowered, the half full mug of now cold tea on his night table. "You dozed off and I must've followed soon after. That was some good snuggling though. I needed that."

I couldn't focus. I was still shaken up from the Abandon Ship sounds reverberating through my head. "Be right back," he kissed the top of my head, took his Walkie out to the hall, and I laid back down. I sank back into the pillows he'd gotten off of, feeling his side still warm and inviting, smelling his comforting scent on the sheets, the fear receding as I knew I was safe with Darren. Maybe it was just the firefighter thing. Maybe it was just his size and strength. Maybe I just loved knowing he'd protect me, take care of me, no matter what. Maybe it was the fact that he'd been a gentleman despite having me curled up in his bed. The combination of factors intoxicated me and I found myself drifting off once again.

An indeterminate amount of time later, Darren came back into the room and brushed my messy hair away from my sleepy face. He kissed my cozy warm cheek and said "Babe? You wanna get up?"

"Mmmmmm," I grumbled, "why?" (I've never been easy to wake.)

"It's a blizzard," he said, "I got called into the firehouse. We have to go shovel the engines out and I'm on emergency standby. You can stay here til morning if you want. I'll let my parents know. I just thought you might like to go home."

I begrudgingly opened one eye. It was two in the morning. My life suddenly flashed before me, a life of Darren getting called into work at every hour of the day and night. Always being on standby. Always having to wake up and leave me. But that's the thing about everyday heroes. They don't get a day off.

I tugged my boots on, zipped up my coat, wrapped up in my scarf, hat, gloves, and searched for my keys. My mother's voice as I left the house, warning to "take a snow brush Just In Case" echoed in my ears and I was immensely grateful she always reminded me to take things like extra sweaters and a spare shovel. My bag was on the chair where I left it, but the keys were nowhere to be found.

"Oh, sorry," Darren whispered. "I warmed up your car already. Hope that's ok."

Stepping outside into the arctic chill, I saw that he had not just warmed up my car. He had completely cleared it of all snow, started the engine, defrosted the whole thing. He'd also cleaned off his Jeep, his parents cars, and shoveled the walkway up to the house.

"I'll be at the fire house all day if you need me," he smiled, kissing my still sleepy forehead. "Let me know if you want help shoveling out tomorrow. I'll get the guys on the engine to come by with the snow blowers so your dad doesn't have to break his back."

Like I said. Everyday hero.

No Pressure

Friends. They're the people who ground us, keep us steady, smack us upside the head when most needed. They're the reality check when our heads are in the clouds, the ones who know us best, sometimes better than we know ourselves. True friends will tell you when you have spinach in your teeth, or cat hair on your sweater, or when you're dating an asshole.

Darren asked me to meet his friends first.

"Hey, so I know that we were supposed to go to dinner tonight..." Darren started on the phone. I could already sense the blow off happening. I braced myself for disappointment, waiting for the (hopefully) gentle let down. We'd been on several dates already, each more amazing than the next. We were old friends who stayed up all night talking on the phone while he worked late, or texted until I dozed off. We were cutesy, cheesy, and in all other ways sickeningly adorable with each other, much to the chagrin of anyone who overheard our conversations. I felt kind of terrible that his EMT partner got stuck listening to many a mushy midnight call between us, the product of him working overnights and not being able to see each other on a regular schedule. I made a special batch of cookies for his partner as a means of apology / thank you for putting up with us. (We were quickly forgiven!)

"Anyway, I really wanted to take you out to a nice restaurant tonight but Mark and Michelle called and invited us over for dinner instead. They're my best friends and they really want to meet you. Is it too soon?"

No, no it's not too soon. That's really sweet. Yes, let's go.

"Great, it's just gonna be us and the kids will go to bed soon after we get there. I'm really looking forward to you meeting them. Their opinion means more to me than any of my other friends, even the firehouse guys ... or my parents."

This sentence was followed by a substantial pause when I realized what he was saying. These friends were IT. They were THE friends I needed to impress. They were the deciding factor in us continuing to date. They could make or break our fledgling relationship.


He picked me up in the Jeep as usual, chattering on the whole way over to Mark and Michelle's house. Darren was no stranger to talking, but this rambling...what was this? Was he nervous? Was he shaking? Oh holy crap - he's nervous about me meeting his friends. Or them meeting me? Or what happens if they don't like me? Do we keep dating? Ok. Officially freaking out.

I had to find a way to calm him down. We'd only been together a few weeks and things were going really well. There was nothing to be nervous about. We were happy and if that wasn't enough for anyone else, then I didn't care about their opinion one way or another. "Babe?" I blinked up at him as he took my hand, getting out of the car. "Yeah babe?" he looked petrified. "It's just us, ok? I'm sure I'll like them. And I'm sure they'll like me. You're ok. We can do this. It's just dinner. Just us."

In that moment, I swear Darren took his first real breath of the night. It hung half frozen in the chilly darkness between us, a sigh of relief. He squeezed my hand, kissed me quickly, and into the house we went.

Mark and Michelle were the kind of friends whose house Darren didn't need to knock to walk into. Their kids attacked him with flying hugs and killer kisses, refusing to let go of Uncle Darry. Two toddlers in cartoon print footsie pajamas wrestling the grown man you're dating may very well be the cutest thing a woman can see on a Thursday night. It's not fair! Little kids are my kryptonite!

He finally put the children down and introduced me to them as their future Aunt Kim. My heart melted. He held my hand as he said it, and I squeezed back, reminding him that it was "just us." He smiled as the girl toddler stomped her foot and stormed off to her bedroom with a huge "harumph!" and a slam of her door.

Holy crap! What just happened???

At that moment, Michelle walked in and said "She thinks that she's marrying Uncle Darry. You stole her husband." Wow. Did not see that coming! Nothing like disappointing someone's kid as a first impression. This didn't stop Michelle from hugging me hello and introducing herself. She had a huge smile and teased me again, "So you're the girl who's been breaking Darren's heart for twenty years!"

Oh heavens, I hope not! I have no intention of breaking his heart, and I'd be truly grateful if he didn't break mine either!

Mark walked in from the barbeque (yes, even in the dead of winter) with a tray of sausage and an ear to ear grin. "Hey, you must be the girl stealing all my bro's time! What's your secret? He's been retarded over you for weeks."

Michelle punched Mark in the arm as Darren blushed and looked down. He wanted to defend himself but was clearly caught out as the-guy-who-really-likes-a-girl. No worse fate for a man!

Wine was poured, snacks were laid out on the table, kids were tucked into bed, laughter and conversation ensued, the night was going splendidly. And then, the doorbell rang. Again. And again. And again.

Darren invited me to dinner with Mark and Michelle. Mark and Michelle invited everyone on the block to the Darren-brought-a-girl-over party. Before I knew it, there wasn't enough room at the table and people spread out through the living room, hallway, kitchen, and some of the guys even hung out near the still-fired-up bbq in the backyard. I circulated as best I could, helping Michelle clean up dishes, pour more wine, set out food as it was cooked, and meet and mingle with everyone who walked through the door. They all had the same reaction of back slapping, handshaking, and goofy grinning at Darren. I was asked a hundred questions, introduced a hundred times, told the story of how we met all night long. I hardly even saw Darren, I was so busy entertaining his friends and bustling around the party. When at long last, the guests finished the ample amounts of wine and started to make their exits, I had a few minutes alone in the kitchen with Michelle, my original hostess. I asked her for some Tupperware to keep the pies fresh when she turned and gave me the strangest look.

"What's your story?" she glared at me. I felt my face flame. What did she mean, my story? Hadn't I been the perfect guest all night, helping her host a party I didn't even know I was invited to??? "You and Darren - is this for real?"

Absolutely. I mean, I think so. I hope so. I like him. I like him so much.

"Good," she declared, very matter of factly. "Because we really like you too. A lot. You're good for him. This is the happiest we've ever seen him."

"Didn't you like his other girlfriends? Wasn't he happy with any of them?"

Michelle almost dropped the plate she was loading into the dishwasher. "Oh honey, what other girls? You're the first person he's ever brought over here."

No pressure...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stars Align

There are so few times in a person's life when they can say the stars aligned to make something happen. This was one of those nights. 

Darren texted me "Dress warm --- very warm :-)" which seemed awfully mysterious for a first date. He picked me up in his Jeep, the real kind where the whole top comes off and the doors come off and it's basically like driving around in a tuna can. The stick shift made me incredibly happy (I think that all real men should know how to drive a stick shift and I'm really excited to have someone teach me!) I knew we were going to have an awesome night because as soon as he opened the door for me, Sirius radio was set to the country station.

If there's anything I love more than a firefighter in a truck, it's a firefighter in a truck playing country music!

The January air was biting at my nose, my toes, and everything in between. I dressed in warm layers as he suggested, but I didn't want to closely resemble the StayPuft Marshmallow Man either, so I brought a few extra pieces with me. He smiled and said, 'You're gonna need more than that to keep you warm!" I glanced in the back seat where he'd stashed a few blankets. Where in the hell were we going?

"Do you trust me?" he grinned. I squinted my baby blues at him and scrunched up my nose. "Should I?" I replied with cautious optimism. "Absolutely," he nodded, "I have a precious cargo theory. And you, my dear, are precious cargo." 

With that, he handed me a large mint hot chocolate from DD (yum!) and laughed a little suspiciously. "It's a long ride. Figured you might need that." Off we drove into the darkness.

Let me be clear. I am not someone who likes surprises. I am not someone who easily surrenders control. I am not someone who hands over the reigns to her life. I am not someone who can relax into the passenger seat. I am the driver. I am the planner. I am the only person in charge of me. But there was something about his confidence, his charisma, his strength of character that made me trust him, made me want to sink back into this seat and go along for the ride. Wherever Darren wanted to take me, that's where I wanted to be. 

We drove and drove and kept on driving. We sang along to country music. We both knew the words. We talked about our lives since high school, played some catch up, recalled some memories. We chatted about good times with our friends and who was doing what now. We each restated our total disbelief that the other had been interested and never said anything about it until now. We drove for so long and I was enjoying the conversation so much that when he turned off the highway onto a sandy little road, I almost choked on what was left of my hot chocolate. 

There was no one around. There were no cars. There were no people. There were no lights, not even in the distance. There was nothing around us but the cold, dark, January night, and looking out the window I realized --- he had taken me to the only place on Long Island where you can still see stars. 

"Remember all those layers you brought? Now might be a good time to put them on." I could tell by the smile on his face that Darren was pretty proud of bringing me out here. I know what you're thinking: this is a scene from Law & Order SVU waiting to happen. Normally, I would not be caught dead (pardon the pun) out in the middle of the dunes with a guy I hadn't seen in fourteen years. But the look on his face was more "excited to show her something amazing" and less "can't wait to kill her and bury the body where no one will find it." Thus, I bundled up and got out of the Jeep.

I was shivering despite my layers, and officially looked like a cross between the StayPuft and Michelin men. It wasn't sexy in the least, but Darren jumped down from the truck, took his fireman's coat off of himself and draped it around my shoulders. I looked up at him, my eyes tearing up from the cold, the winter wind stinging my cheeks, when he cupped his warm hands around my face, leaned down and kissed me. It was the gentlest, sweetest, most sincere kiss I can recall in all the dates I've gone on. The cold melted out of my body and his warmth spread from my lips all the way down to the tips of my fingers and the bottoms of my feet. In that instant, he defrosted my heart.

"I've wanted to do that since 1992," Darren smiled down at me, still holding my face in his hands. It was the only part of me not covered by jacket or gloves or scarf or hat. His touch was electric. I needed more. 

Grabbing the blankets out of the Jeep and taking my hand, Darren led us down to the strip of beach off the side of the road. I saw we weren't far off from the lighthouse and only imagined how far out on the island we'd actually driven. Guessing we were on State Park property also made me wonder if we were allowed to be here, but I quickly quashed those thoughts and decided to stop being a goody-goody and just enjoy the moment. 

He spread out a few blankets for us to lay on since the ground was partly frozen. I situated myself on top of them, and he piled a couple more blankets over us. Looking up at the stars in the pitch black night, I felt incredibly small and yet very safe. I hadn't seen stars like this in a long, long time. Maybe since I was a child? It was comforting to know that these same celestial beings were here long before I was, and they'd be here long after I was gone. They existed when Darren and I first met, and now here they were, half our lifetimes later, bringing us back together. He looked up and pointed out a constellation...and then another...and another. 

A fireman who drives a Jeep, sings country music, brings me hot chocolate, gives me his jacket, kisses me under the stars, AND knows the names of the constellations??? This is much too much romance for one girl.

We laid under the stars, talking and kissing and picking out constellations for hours. He had an app on his phone that showed the night sky at the exact time of year at our exact location, so for all those millions of stars we couldn't identify, there was (quite literally) "an app for that." He held me close and knew it was time to go when I started to shiver again, despite my protesting that I was fine. I wanted to stay there all night. I wanted to camp out under the winter sky with him. I wanted to fall asleep to Cassiopeia and Orion and Jupiter and Saturn, waiting for Venus to rise. I wanted to know that his coat and the waning moon were my covers, his arms my protection, his kiss my lullaby.

Darren helped me to the car, warmed it up, and drove us back to civilization, leaving the lighthouse behind. In all my wildest Junior High school dreams, this night would still have been impossible, despite my vivid imagination and penchant for uber romantic tales. He created between us a memory, a moment, captured in time and yet utterly timeless. He brought us out of the past and into the present. The whole ride back, all I could think about was our future.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Beer and Bear Hugs

When a psychic tells you that you're only days away from meeting your soul mate, you listen.

When she says that it's someone you already know but will see in a new light, you listen even more. 

I'm not the kind of girl to hit the bar on a random Wednesday after work, but I was really looking forward to seeing one of my besties who'd been going through a shitty break-up. She convinced me to meet her at the bar for drinks, wings and catch up. Before I got out of the car, she texted me "Oh, and let your hair down. You look so much prettier when it's not up in a ponytail."

I swiped on some lip gloss, blushed my cheeks a little, untwisted my bun, and strolled into the pub. It's a freakin Wednesday. Why on Earth should I care what I look like?

Oh right. Because there's my soul mate.

There he was, clear as day, sitting at a table full of firefighters I knew from around town. We went to junior high together, then separate high schools, but stayed in touch as friends. I haven't seen or spoken to him since 1998. "Kim???"

Oh. My. God. How did he recognize me?

"Holy shit, you haven't changed since seventh grade!"

I wanted to be insulted. Technically, I grew out my bangs, I stopped wearing all black, and baggy sweatpants are now banished from my wardrobe. Plus I like to think that at thirtysomething, I'm prettier than I was at twelve, but he's right. I don't look much older than a high schooler and as my mother constantly reminds me, "Some day, you'll be grateful for the compliment of looking younger than your age!"

Darren grabbed me in his arms and swung me around, the product of beer and reminiscence. "Guys, this is Kim. I had the biggest crush on her in junior high but I was too much of a chicken shit to ever ask her out."

What?!?!?!? "Shut the F up!" I yell at him and playfully punch his arm. "You did NOT have a crush on me. I had a crush on you. For like six years."

"Are you shitting me?" he stares in disbelief. "I liked you practically forever and then you went away to college and I didn't get up the nerve to ask you out. Cause I'm an asshole. That's me. I'm the asshole who didn't ask out the only girl he liked as a teenager."

"Bull shit!" I smile at him, wondering if this is a very elaborate set up. 

"No, it's true." pipes up a scrawny kid at the far end of the table. "He liked you a lot. He was a punk for not saying anything but I had to hear about it. A lot."

Holy macaroni! The scrawny kid is Justin, who I always referred to as Darren's sidekick. They were best buddies in school and I can't believe they still hang out now. Actually, as I look around the table, I count five more guys I went to junior high and / or high school with. Each one throws his two cents in about how Darren talked about me then, and I can tell from the ridiculous grin on his face that he's super excited to see me now. 

"Please, please give me the chance to make up for lost time. I was an idiot back then, but I'm not anymore. I promise. Can I have your number? I'd love to ask you out for real. On a date. With me." 

Awww, he's nervous! Those awkward tall, thin, pale, junior high girl in sweatpants feelings creep up on me and I get nervous too. The entire fire department is waiting to drink their beers, hanging on my every word, suddenly invested in Darren's romantic future which is immediately dependent on me giving him my number. 

"Sure. Yes. Of course." I say as he puts my digits in his phone. "Call me sometime. It'll be good to catch up."

I smile my sweetest smile as he hugs me another one of those big bear hugs boys with too much beer in their bellies are want to give, and I hear him high fiving the crowd as I walk away, suddenly desperate to find my girlfriend and escape to another bar in town. 

"Where the hell have you been?" she pseudo whispers, grabbing her purse as we head out the door. "Sorry I'm late," I casually reply, "I think I just met my soul mate."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Scott Free

His name was Scott.

I feel that it is important to mention upfront that I change the names of almost everyone in this blog to protect the innocent (and more so, the guilty!) There are only three names I've never changed, but I'm telling you right now, his name was Scott.

Although to be fair, he lied about everything else. He probably lied about that too.

We met on the train while I was heading into NYC. I looked particularly cute because I was going in for a date. Technically, I suppose I was going on a series of dates --- speed dating just doesn't get old for me! Still, it's not like I was tied down to any of the men I hadn't even met yet, so why not flirt with the very cute train conductor for 42 minutes?

It was a packed Saturday. Standing room only. Of course it had to be one of the few times I wore heels! Standing for 42 minutes on the train, walking 8 blocks and 3 avenues over to get to the place, walking all the way back, I knew my poor little feet would hate me by the end of the day. Yet even when a seat opened up halfway through the trip, I didn't take it. Scott was fun and flirty and overtly interested in me! I felt my tummy flip flopping around and I knew it was more than just the motion of the train cars.

When we pulled into Penn Station, he'd left the carriage I was in, but one glance up the platform told me he was searching for me too. His head was out one of the little conductor windows, frantically looking up and down until he spotted me. "Hey," he said, a big smile creeping across his face, "I thought I'd lost my chance to talk to you. Was about to work overtime figuring out which train you'd be going back on!"

In a particularly bold move (shockingly unlike my normal self) I pulled out a Sharpie and a napkin to write my name and number down. He made me laugh and feel sexy and I loved that rush. Surely, he was worth taking a chance on?

"Awesome," Scott replied when I handed over the napkin, "I am single and ready to mingle! I'll call you."

"Single and ready to mingle" --- who actually says that??? That's like the cheesiest sentence on the face of the planet. I was starting to doubt my decision.

True to his word, Scott texted me later in the day and we chatted back and forth for a few hours. I'd warned him of my plan to date 25 guys in 3 hours and he promised to come save me if need be. "Anyone who wears boots like those deserves to date a man who appreciates her in them!" he assured me. "Your ass looked HOT in those jeans!"

"Hmmm, I guess you noticed me walking away?" I asked him

"Baby, I noticed a lot of things about you."

I remained undecided as to whether this statement was cute or creepy so I just kinda let it slide. We made plans to meet up the following day. Scott texted me when he'd be available and where we could meet.

The place he chose was a seedy dive bar next to the highway in the middle of a pass-through town. The kind of place I'd driven by a thousand times in my life and never even noticed before. The kind of place you wouldn't necessarily want to stop in and check out. The kind of place men take women who are not their wives.

He was waiting at the bar when I walked in. There were five other patrons spread out around the bar. None of them were speaking to each other, just drowning their lives in lukewarm beers and bowls of half soggy pretzels. The three huge flatscreen televisions were each showing a different sport, and all of them were on mute. The whole scene was eerily quiet. In walks a very tall blonde girl with knee high boots, a low cut sweater, and admittedly tight jeans that make her ass look amazing. All five heads turned, all five men stared, but as Scott stood up to kiss me hello, the other four just sighed and swallowed more Coors Light when they realized I was not up for grabs.

He was already two beers into his evening, positioned at the corner of the bar where he had optimal viewing of all three screens (and possibly me.) We made some polite conversation but it was stilted at best and he eventually offered to buy me a drink when the bartender approached us. I ordered a Cosmo (my usual) and he did some sort of weird double take. Like he'd never been out with a woman who drank anything but beer before. Ever.

"Are you sure you want that? Don't you just wanna grab a beer?"

"I'm sure. Thanks."

The bartender actually seemed relieved to do more than just grab a bottle from the ice chest for once in his day. Maybe it broke up the monotony of loneliness for him. I'll never know. What I do know is that Scott looked at me and my pink drink rather sideways when it arrived, simply muttering "Fancy."

Things I learned about Scott that night:

He was not, in fact, mid-30's as he told me. He was 48 years old. The grey hairs showed through a lot more without his train conductor cap on.

He was not, in fact, divorced as he told me. He was "technically" still married and she still "technically" lived in his house because he "just didn't feel like moving out yet."

He was not, in fact, single and ready to mingle as he told me. He "technically" had three kids he was responsible for raising, including coaching his sons' baseball teams and chaperoning his daughter's high school dance.

*Please note: I am all for dads doing great things for your kids, unless you're hiding your kids. And also, your wife. This is a dick maneuver and I am unimpressed. Sort your shit out.*

By the end of my Cosmo and two more beers for Scott, I'd had enough. He'd turned cocky, arrogant, and uncomfortably forward. He paid the drink tab (I didn't even offer) and said, "Do you wanna get out of here?"

Yes. Yes I do. So very badly.

Scott walked me out to my car and as I thanked him for a nice night (read: deleting his number the moment I get home) he suggested we go home together.

Excuse me???

"I mean, I think we had a great time, and you're really hot, and I don't wanna go home right now anyway. We could grab a place across the street. You don't have to stay all night if you don't want to. There's a room at the motel I put a reservation in for. Just in case. Come on, it'll be fun!"

M-M-Motel? As in, not even a H-H-Hotel? You thought you could buy me one drink at a seedy dive bar and then fuck me in some rented room by the hour to avoid going home to your wife and kids?

Oh honey no.

I'm taking my hot ass home alone thankyouverymuch.

And that is how I got off, Scott Free.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

News At 11

This is the story of how you almost saw me on the news. 

You know those women who end up on the 11 o'clock news? The teaser comes on in an ominous announcer's voice: "How a Long Island English teacher seduced her vulnerable teenage student...News at 11!" 

Or "Coming up next, the terrifying tale of a troubled teen beguiled by his beautiful older tutor. Details right after Revenge!"

So here I am out at a networking / dating event having a great time. If you like someone, you write your number down on their paper at the end of the evening, and if they like you, they do the same. Hopefully, everyone goes home with a call list and a few potential dates. It's a great no-pressure way to meet members of the opposite sex and weed out any weirdos in person. 

So I thought. 

The day after the event, I send preliminary text messages to the seven guys who gave me their numbers. (Seven! Hooray for me!) They all write back with varying degrees of interest and availability. (Also, varying degrees of literacy. It's amazing how a person can hold a face to face conversation but then text stupid things like "ur2cute" --- Ugh!)

Anywho, "DJ" writes me back and he is VERY excited to hear from me. He thought I was especially sweet the night before and would LOVE to take me out and get to know me better. Think, Kimberly, think! Which one was DJ? "I'm the guy who was wearing the denim jacket."

Oh right. It's kinda hard to forget an acid washed jean jacket in 2012. Maybe he was being ironic? Either way, we agree to meet at the diner for hot chocolate in half an hour. No time like the present!

I simply don't have the energy to recount the entire crazy-ass-true-crime-novel-waiting-to-happen conversation, but here are some of the highlights:

1) He's the oldest of four half-siblings by three different fathers, none of whom his mother is married to "anymore."
2) His mother divorced his father when he "held her upside down over the stairs and threatened to drop / kill her." He does not speak to his father.
3) His most recent stepfather is in jail for "raping" his mother.
4) His grandmother is no longer speaking to his mother for "accusing" stepfather #4 of rape. The remaining stepfathers were all divorced for similar reasons, none of which his grandmother believes to be true, all of which provide more ammunition for her case against her daughter - she's filing for custody of all the kids on the grounds of mental instability and claims that his mom is "unfit to be a parent." 
5) To escape the madness, he proposed to his high school girlfriend so they could be engaged and run away together. She broke up with him as a result. He still calls her "sometimes, just to be sure she hasn't changed her mind."
6) He is not in graduate school (as he told me) - he's in undergraduate. 
7) He is not 25 like he led me to believe. He's "not quite 21 yet." He is, in fact, 19. 
8) He pays for music school by playing Pokemon in Nintendo tournaments around the tri-state area. His 9 year old sister got him into Pokemon and now he's some sort of expert player and wins money (mostly against other elementary school kids, but some adults) in officially sponsored games. 
9) He talked about Pokemon for approximately 45 minutes.
10) He ended the evening saying how much he desperately wants to get married. Soon. Very, very soon.

To say that I ran away quickly would be a lie. I wanted to run. I wanted to run many, many times. The only reason I survived 45 minutes of Pokemon talk is because it replaced crazy mother / rape / jail talk HOWEVER there was an underlying morbid curiosity there. Could I help this kid? Rehabilitate his life somehow? Take him under my proverbial wing and give him a fair chance at normalcy? A real family, a good education, a stable home environment? 

No. No I couldn't. It's just too darn creepy. It's "News at 11" waiting to happen.

I very promptly came home, deleted his number from my phone, threw all my clothes in the wash, and pretended this date and in fact the whole day had never happened. I refused to text or call back any of the other guys on my list. You just never know who'll want to marry you on the first date. Those are not the sort of headlines I want to make.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013



If someone asked me to describe New York City around the holidays, at least for persons over the age of 21, it could be summed up in one word: alcohol.

Sure, there are tourists, and trees, and trimmings, but if you're in New York and you're from New York, chances are you spend the entire month of December running from one crazy party to the other. Upper West Side, Lower East Side, Chelsea, Tribeca, SoHo, so what? There are so many parties to choose from, each more fabulous than the next. And fabulous parties + glamorous dress + open bar = the confidence to talk to the cutest guy in the room.

What else is a single thirtysomething girl supposed to do on a freezing Friday night? It's too cold to go out, too depressing to stay in. The answer? Bulk up on liquid courage in the form of expensive champagne (on someone else's tab, I might add!) and saunter her swinging hips up to the most metro hipster in the room. The guy who makes button down shirts and dark washed skinny jeans look good. The guy who has seemingly effortlessly perfect hair. The guy who started his own business and is already on the top of everyone's "must watch" lists. The guy who makes quiet conversation with a small group of guests, until they all erupt into laughter and you're desperate to know what the joke was. The guy your friends warn you about the minute you walk in.

"Kim, I just want you to know that there's a guy here. He's hot, he's straight, he's single, and he's trouble!"

Trouble??? How much trouble could one guy be?

Of course, this does not dissuade me. If anything, it fuels my morbid curiosity. It entices me to seek him out. A hot, single, straight man is at this party and you're telling me to stay away from him? Challenge accepted. Game on!

I await the opportune moment and casually slide in next to him at the seafood buffet. I smile at him with a little head tilt, a little batting of the eyelashes, a little flip of my blonde locks. I have spent years perfecting the "sweet but seductive" slow, sly, slide of a smile. It's my signature move and it works every time.

"Hi, I'm Grayson. I don't think we've met."

(Like I said, works every time!)

"Hi, I'm Kimberly. No, I don't think we have. I'd remember you." (Smile, smile, bat, bat.)

We exchange a few downtown opening lines. How do you know the hostess? What are your favorite bars down here? What industry are you in? As I reach for a few shrimp to delicately place on my plate (to be eaten later --- there is no sexy way to eat anything covered in cocktail sauce in front of a gorgeous man!) he says, "What? No oysters?"

I felt my skin squirming all around me. The cool, calm, confident Kimberly slipped away, and about-to-be-embarrassed junior high school Kimmy took her place. I wanted to crawl off and hide but I tried to remain in control. "Nah, never really cared for them. Pretty sure they're not delicious."

Grayson smiled my same slow, sly, slide of a smile back at me, batted his gorgeous baby blue eyes, complete with lashes any woman spends all her time and money trying to emulate, and whispered so that only I could hear that I felt like the sexiest, most beautiful woman in the that the two of us were sharing a secret so intimate, no one else in the world could know what he was about to say. "That's a shame. They're supposed to be an aphrodisiac and make everything more amazing in bed."

And then, I swear, he winked. 

Everything inside me melted. Everything inside me flip flopped over. Everything inside me was screaming "Nooooooo! Don't do it!" but I couldn't resist. Those eyes. That hair. The secret whisper. He was so close to me, I couldn't escape. It was like he saw right through me and wouldn't let go. I gave in.

I smile-smiled and bat-batted back at him and whispered soft and low, "Would you show me how?" Ladies, lesson one: Invite a man to teach you how to do something, anything, from holding a baseball bat to driving a stick shift to eating oysters, and you'll have him eating out of your hand. Grayson grabbed a little plate, piled three oysters on it, squeezed a bit of lemon juice on each one, and spooned a tiny dollop of cocktail sauce on each one. 

"I'm giving you three," he said, "in case you like the first one so much that you keep going back for more. Personally, I can never get enough."

Swoon, swoon, double swoon!

The paralyzing fear of putting these sea creatures anywhere near my face was slightly overshadowed by the mesmerizing tranquility of his eyes. "How do I eat them?" I asked, my nervousness growing by the minute. "Just close your eyes, lift it to your lips, tilt your head back, and enjoy. Relax - it'll be a delicious moment for you." Wink again!

I was pretty sure we were no longer talking about oysters. I picked up the smallest shell on my plate, closed my eyes like he said, tilted my head back, and opened my mouth. I felt him waiting on my reaction. I felt his breath hanging in the air, hoping that he would be there for my virgin moment. I felt everyone around us staring at the girl Grayson had cornered by the buffet table, seducing her with seafood. 

I felt like I was going to throw up. 

The oyster did not go down easily. The oyster fought back. The oyster was sticky and slimy all at once. The oyster was not delicious. The oyster got stuck in my throat. The oyster would not be chewed. The oyster did not want me to eat it. The oyster did not want to get me into bed. The oyster was determined to ruin my chances with Grayson. The oyster ruined my life. 

My eyes popped open. I was stricken with grief, humiliation, and terror all at once. A waiter appeared out of nowhere, held a napkin out in front of me, and I spit the oyster out once and for all. Grayson waited a moment before rolling his head back in loud, uproarious laughter - the same kind of laughter that was used to entertain his holiday party entourage earlier was now at my expense. He smirked a mean little Grinch smirk at me and said "Well, I guess that answers that question." 

"Question? What question?" I blurted out, wanting to wipe my tongue clean with the napkin.

"Spit or swallow" he laughed, winked, and walked away.

There is simply not enough expensive champagne to wash down the taste of an oyster, or help you swallow your own pride.

Lesson learned ladies: When your girlfriends warn you about a man you haven't even met yet, chances are - they're right. Don't go looking for trouble, or trouble is exactly what you'll find. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Blog 365

    • Dearest Readers, 

      I know I haven't written in a long time (a long, long time) and there are reasons which I'll get deeper into very soon. You should know, however that I've been reading your emails and facebook messages and tweets, and they've kept me going this whole time. I wanted to start this 365 days of writing off with some "fan mail" that really meant a lot to me. 

      Warning: You may not approve of this message...


      You're not funny anymore. I am taking you off my newsfeed. I read your blog and at first, it was the adventurers of your dating life, now it seems like your quest to complete yourself with a man. Find happiness in yourself. You could be missing out on chances and opportunities if you focus on being completed by another person. Best of luck to you,


      Not to worry, I wrote her back!
    • Dear Beth, 

      You are of course completely entitled to read me or not, although I always appreciate new (and old) followers. Thank you for writing to me with your reasons behind not wanting to read any more, but my life isn't incomplete without a man. I have an amazing family, the best friends a girl could hope to have, a fab job that I love, and I get to pursue some of my favorite passions. Why go on all these dates? To meet someone I could share all those things with. Having a partner, a *real* partner to love and share my life with, as happy as I am, would make me even happier, and my life so much more full. It's not my other half I'm looking for. It's another whole person who appreciates me, teaches me new things, enhances my world just by being in it. I've been through a lot, as so many women have, and the goal has always been to share my stories with all of you - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some dates are hilariously funny, some days are full of heartbreak. The point is that I don't hide any of it in the hopes that someone can relate to something I write. Maybe it's a guy offering to pay for a hotel room after one drink. Maybe it's the fear of never being a mother. But it's all there and it's all my life.  

      Love and light, Kimberly

      And yet, I get emails (like the following) from readers (like you) on a daily basis. May I just start by saying Thank You.

      --- First of all, I love your blog and your writing! There were many nights that I just needed a laugh, and at your expense, I got it :) I know you’ll get your happy ending. You deserve it. Love, Amy

      --- Hi, I’ve been waiting on your blog... but no new posts?  I want you to know it makes me feel better though when I read your story.  To know I’m not the only woman going through reject men like this. Yours, Kim in Texas

      --- I just wanted to say thanks. I've been reading your blog all day and cracking up!! Thank you so much for writing these and sharing them! It's been an emotional week but your blog is all I seemed to need to make things better! Thanks again and can not wait for new posts!!! ~Shannon

      --- I just want to let you know how much I appreciate you and your honesty. Reading your blog I no longer feel alone. I know that I am not the only strong woman that struggles with the same daily bullshit of con artist ex boyfriends and horrible dates. Keep on being true to yourself. You have a fan for life in me. Randi

      I know that I'm not always funny (though there's more of that coming up!) but I am always honest and I always write from the heart. My humor has helped me get through a lot of crazy stuff this past year, and I hope that it's helped some of you as well. Thank You to everyone who has written to me, commented on my Facebook page, tweeted me, listened to me, and come to see my show. You are all collectively the reason I feel strong enough to start this blog again, and turn it into something AMAZING!!! As of now, I will be posting every day. Did you hear that Coffee Lovers??? EVERY DAY!!! 2013 will be our Year Of Love. I can't wait to get this party started and you are all invited! 

      Hugs and Cupcakes,