Sunday, August 31, 2003

It doesn't get much better than this.

Sunday morning. Big-band jazz on the surround sound. The smell of coffee. The Sunday Trib. Strawberries and toast and orange juice on the buffet. Conversation with my folks. Ultimate hosting satisfaction.

Yesterday we played big-city tourists: The Museum of Science and Industry, which could use some updating -- and a good scrubbing. People-watching from the sidewalk window of the Boystown Chipotle, which is hands-down the best fast food ever. Reckless Records, where I got a kick-ass recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. DSW, my home away from home. Then a moonlit walk along the lakefront and home for small talk in my cool new club chairs.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Take me out.

We had a company outing this afternoon: a Cubs game and then a barbecue in Anders' back yard, which is just a few blocks from Wrigley Field. The game was fun -- the Cubs are apparently very close to some world series-type achievement, so the stadium was PACKED with rabid fans ... which always jacks up the emotion and excitement.

Our seats were pretty far back in the second tier of the stadium, which offered us a sheltered view of the game -- but it also offered the pigeons a handy place to roost directly over our heads. And in the third inning, one of them dropped a HUGE load on my arm and the front of my shirt. Which sent me -- for the first time in my life -- to the Wrigley Field men's room, the fabled trough farm that approaches mass bladder voiding with assembly-line efficiency. And the place is surreal -- I think I walked past a good 40 yards of pee troughs assembled along the sides of two aisles before I could get to the sinks to clean up.

And once I got back to my seat, the Cubs easily beat the Milwaukee Brewers in a game that ended after the top of the ninth inning. (I've been to two Cubs games this year and they won both times. Coincidence?)

My favorite part of my job has always been my co-workers, and the barbecue after the game only reinforced my happiness with them. They're bright and funny and interesting and fun to talk to, and we sat around laughing and shooting the breeze for a good six hours ... until I realized it was after 11 pm and I was getting pretty damn tired.

Now I'm off to bed so I can get up early and do a ton of laundry and scrubbing and vacuuming and dusting before my folks get here for a weekend visit.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

My day just got a little bit better -- I just won $25 in a drawing at a company meeting.

Woo-hoo! Bring on the ... um ... Pepsi and Cheetos.
Yoga with a minor chest cold and related body aches. Not a good idea.

Especially when J. the dance captain for The Lion King doesn't show up for class, even though you saved him a spot right next to you so you could sneak a peek at his sexy feet during downward-facing dog.

It's not shaping up to be a very good day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

I have created a monster.

Now Bill wants to be mentioned by name here. But (he claims) he rated me a 10 on hotornot, so I guess I gotta acknowledge our friendship.

And it's my pleasure to introduce you to him.

Bill is kind of the first guy I picked up in a bar when I moved here. I'd been to Hollywood Beach that day, see, and I'd gotten myself fried to the point that the people at Red Lobster were trying to put me on the menu. But being new to Chicago and all, I had no intention of letting a severe sunburn keep me from exploring the bars that night. So I went to the Manhole, where you have to be shirtless to be on the dance floor and it's so dark no one can hear you scream when you get bumped on your burn. And that's when I met Bill. But being burned and all, the most intimate I was willing to be with a stranger was the exchange of phone numbers.

And (almost exactly) three years later, we've exchanged gifts, emails, phone calls and stories about our Chicago adventures. And now he's madly in love with a very cool guy. And I have first (OK -- maybe twelfth) dibs on being his maid of honor.
So the Iowa visit was great. Leslie and I always have fun road-tripping home together, hanging out with our separate families and then gossiping about our adventures all the way home.

This trip was all about eating and playing with the kids. We devoured Iowa pork chops and corn on the cob, had brunch in the Amanas, ate Tomaso's Pizza with Matt and Jeff and Jacob and Scott, and baked cookies that my nephew kept calling "fresh cookies" every time he ate them. (Does stuff like that mean he's gonna be queer? The jury is still out.)

I also kicked some serious family butt in canasta, but then I got my butt kicked the next day. We usually schedule our games when my niece and nephew are asleep, but thanks to a new Elmo video we were able to squeeze in some quality daytime card-playing as well.

I bought two kick-ass DVDs, and I may have also bought some fabulous club chairs. They're currently on hold while I decide if they'll fit where I want to put them. It's not easy packing comfort and style into my shoebox in the sky.

I also took advantage of the privacy and calm of my folks' driveway to prime and repaint some rust spots on my aging car. It's too dark to perform such cosmetic surgery in my Chicago garage, and I'd hate to do it on the street with cars whizzing by all the time. Grandma would be proud that I'm taking such good care of my things. Even if the thing in question here is one of the shittiest cars ever made.

Friday, August 22, 2003

I'm off on a road trip to the homeland with Leslie. And my weekend schedule looks to be packed with fun: Cramming in as much play time as possible with my niece and nephew, helping Jeff usher in his 34th year, attending a 50th wedding anniversary reception for Bob and Alo, and endless hours of canasta with my sister, her husband and my folks.

Be good while I'm gone.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

News from the Department of Goddamnit

So I'm sitting in yoga class today, hoping hoping hoping that J. the ultra-hot dance captain for The Lion King, takes the class too -- and maybe even puts his mat down next to mine. And -- YAY! -- he shows up and puts his mat down next to mine ... and I spend the next 45 minutes sneaking peeks at his sexy feet as I bend and twist my way to a better body. And once in a while, I catch him sneaking peeks back. :)

But I'd heard he was dating someone, and I'd given him my number a couple months ago and he'd never called, so I figured he was interested only in a say-hi-when-we-see-each-other-at-the-gym kind of relationship.

So class ends and he turns to me with those dreamy eyes and we make small talk about my running injury and how his show is going ... and suddenly we're making plans to have lunch. Today. And before I can say I have a lunch date with the dance captain of The Lion King, I'm having a lunch date with the dance captain of The Lion King. And it's going well and we're asking each other questions about our jobs and families and making other pleasant small talk ... and then he volunteers that he's "kind of seeing someone." And THEN he volunteers that he really wanted to ask me out when we first met.

ACK!

My heart almost catching in my throat, I reminded him that I had given him my phone number a couple months ago, and he said that was about the time that his "kind of seeing someone" romance started getting serious. CURSE THE TIMING.

Then he told me this amusing story about how his good friend Cher was in Chicago recently and the two of them went to see Seabiscuit together, but I was still reeling from the news that my silly little fantasy about dating the dance captain of The Lion King had not, in fact, been so silly. Or even a fantasy.

Sigh.
Dinner at my favorite fast-food joint and boy-watching with my favorite homo last night. Paul and I met after work and took the train to the Chipotle in Boystown, where we spent a few hours sitting at the window filling our guts with faux-Mexican goodness and smiling at all the muscle boys who walked by. We're the perfect boy-watching companions; our tastes in men rarely overlap, and when there's nothing to look at we're never at a loss for interesting conversation.

After we'd had our fill at Chipotle, we waddled over to T.'s salon so I could show him off to Paul. Then it was home to read to the sounds of Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby and my rattly old air conditioner.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

It's been 10 days since my last run -- and it's 19 days until the half marathon -- and I'm starting to get antsy. My hip issues are still with me, and even running to catch the bus in the morning is pretty much out of the question. I did manage to log three miles on the elliptical machine today, though. And my ass is thanking me for the workout.
Now Anders is bitching because he hasn't been mentioned by name here. So let the record show this grave oversight has been rectified. And don't forget to check out his favorite sites.

Monday, August 18, 2003

And on the eighth day, we had a good old-fashioned date.

So T. picked me up from work tonight on his motorcycle (WOOF!) and we headed for an impromptu dinner at a boobie hutch. The food was pretty good, and T. even convinced our waitress to come to his salon so he could rescue her hair. And how often does a gay man pick up a waitress at Hooters? T. has magical powers.

Then we cruised through town for a bit on his hog (I'll take advantage of any excuse to wrap my arms around him in public) and we ended up at my place watching a very cool movie in our underwear.

I give the evening an A+.

Holy highlights!

These highlights are a total dick magnet. I've gotten more smiles, more stares, more of those look-up-and-down-the-bod-and-then-lock-eyes things -- all from way hot guys -- and more gushing compliments from the girls in the steno pool in the last 24 hours than I think I've gotten collectively all summer.

And get this. So I'm at the cable machines today when a stunning muscleguy in a suit walks through the gym, looks at me, smiles, looks away, looks back, smiles, rinses and repeats, and then does that follow-me-into-the-locker-room head thing. But good things come to those who wait, so I continue my workout and he eventually reappears -- still dressed but not in his suit jacket -- in front of me at the Hammer Strength machine ... and he proceeds to hit on me so aggressively I think I may develop bruises before the day is over. He's just as hot up close, but unfortunately he's covered in bling (and NOTHING screams desperate man strugging transparently to overcompensate for a small penis like bling) and he's obviously used to getting his way because he got kind of upset that I wouldn't go take off my shirt for him in the locker room and then cancel my date with T. tonight to be his boy toy. And he walked away in a huff when I finally gave him that Dude, you're taking this to a creepy place look.

Repulsive personality notwithstanding, I'd be lying if I said I didn't love every minute of the attention. And now I have a very special thank-you to give T. tonight.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Call me queer. I met T. at the salon where he works this afternoon and we decided to drag my barbershop 'do into the 21st century. So I'm now sporting some sun-kissed highlights and that just-got-laid tousled look.

And I swear I got more looks than normal when I walked up and down Halsted afterward. Of course, it could have been because of the hunky man I had on my arm.
After more than two years in my building, I finally used our pool. Who knew it was so nice? Brian and Dave came over yesterday afternoon, and the five of us headed to the pool and the rooftop sundeck for some afternoon relaxation. And now I know why my assessments are so high: We have some gorgeous landscaping up there.

After a long nap in the sun (under the relentless protection of SPF 45), we headed to Brian's for a Boystown barbecue. T., who doesn't even realize he's undermining all my vows to remain a swinging single, joined us after he got off work. After a couple hours, T. and I climbed on his motorcycle (WOOF) and headed to his house so he could shower and change. Then it was back to Boystown where I could show him off at a chorus birthday party.

We got back to his house around midnight, just as the heavens opened -- and we enjoyed each other's company by candlelight for a good two hours as the rain pounded outside, then we fell blissfully asleep.

This morning Matt and Jeff joined us for brunch at Nookie's on their way home from a five-day visit. T. and I headed back to my place ostensibly so he could get his stuff for a beach volleyball game, but we got distracted. Now he's finally playing volleyball and I'm supposed to be boning up on some music for my chorus reaudition this afternoon.

It was a very good weekend.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Felled by a headache

I spent yesterday morning sleeping off headache-induced exhaustion while Jeff and Matt worked out and putzed quietly around the house. I was back to normal by the afternoon, so we went to a late lunch and stopped to check out the Male Hide moving sale. I'm now the proud owner of a Daddy hat.

Last night I saw a better-than-mediocre production of The Women with Bob, Dave and Steve, and then we joined the boys at Sidetrack for an evening of camaraderie, gossip and boy-watching. We were home at 3, and we woke up today at 11.

Now it's time for Mickey Mouse waffles and another bout of physical therapy on my hip. Two more days until I can start running again!

Friday, August 15, 2003

Another alfresco dinner last night with Jeff and Matt -- this time at Reza's, which is a short walk through the beautiful neighborhoods of Andersonville. We got to enjoy a gorgeous night, great food, fun conversation and the occasional hottie walking by on his way home from Cheetah ... what more could a boy ask for?

Then we met Brian and Dave for some shouted conversation over the music at @mosphere. THAT got old in a hurry, so we headed to Madrigal's instead where it was quiet enough that we could talk ... about the cheesy-ass strippers there. One was incredibly hot. The rest were fair-to-middlin'.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

I took a lunchtime yoga class to help heal my not-so-stretchy self. B. the instructor is pretty cute -- we flirt shamelessly when we see each other out -- and he always takes advantage of every opportunity to provide hands-on correction to my poses when I take his class.

But today I had competition for his affections.

When I got to class, I discoverd that J., the adorable (no -- make that HOT) dancer who's in town on the national tour of The Lion King, was taking class today too. WOOF. And there was a nice open spot right next to him. WOOF again. Naturally, I plopped myself right down for some chatting and scoping. But apparently J. the professional dancer needed a LOT more hands-on yoga-pose corrections than Jake the copywriter did today. B. touched him three times for every one time he touched me.

Gay men can be SO transparent.
Jeff and Matt are visiting this week. Matt, a chiropractor en route to becoming a doctor, worked on my hip flexor (and my hamstrings and my adductors and my spine and my neck) last night and made a huge improvement. Apparently I -- the trained dancer WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER -- haven't been stretching enough during all this marathon-training fun. Hence the pain. Hence the limp.

After our little torture session we met Brian and Dave for a delightful alfresco dinner at Firefly, and T. -- who couldn't keep his sexy hands off me, which was kind of embarrassing in front of everyone but I still loved it -- joined us for the hilarious "Match Game" sendup at Roscoe's.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Kelly -- not content being a nameless member of the steno pool -- wants a specific mention in my blog. So here it is. Since she has no blog of her own, I'll include links to some of her favorite sites.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Boy Meets Boy and Queer Eye with Paul and Mike tonight.

The first show is inherently cruel, but it's the first "reality" dating show I've ever deigned to watch -- and I'm FASCINATED. Train-wreck clich├ęs notwithstanding, the whole thing is a mess. But some of the boys are totally cute, and I find myself rooting for James to find True Love ... or at least to wrap those sexy legs around someone's neck and let me watch. And who knew the show's nelliest queen would claim to be straight when he got dumped?

The second show is the best thing on television. I love Queer Eye -- it makes me laugh, it makes me double-check each morning to make sure I don't have a nose hair problem, and it has already inspired me to exfoliate every day AND paint my kitchen. Gay men have been mocked and teased and told how to act by straight guys for generations. It's way about time we turned the tables -- and got to be fabulous while doing it. But the breeders may have the last laugh; the show has become an opportunity for slovenly straight guys to get a bunch of fags to come over and clean their houses for them. Free.

How to look like a loser after the first date:

Write down his number wrong. Leave three messages on someone else's answering machine. Give the impression that you don't call when you say you will.

Fortunately, T. isn't one to pine away by the phone and jump to drama-queen conclusions. Yet another reason to like him.

Monday, August 11, 2003

So T. called me at work today. Twice.

And when I was telling the girls in the steno pool that he's a model, we realized we could probably find his comp cards online -- and we did. They all swooned.

The news from the Department of Goddamnit tonight is that my sore hip flexor has become a sore whole upper inner thigh. So my 5-mile run turned into a quarter-mile run with a painful limp back home. And it's overcast and cool and slightly windy here -- perfect weather for a jaunt along the lakefront. Goddamnit indeed.
I wrote a haiku
And posted it on my blog.
Now you're reading it.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

We are moving
way
too
fast.

But it's FUN. T. and I had a marvelous lost weekend -- albeit one that involved a party with his friends and inordinate hours wading hand-in-hand through the sweaty throngs of Market Days. But he's sweet and interesting and fun and way more social than I'd ever hope to be. And he has beautiful blue eyes. And then there's that smile. The smile that melts my cold, cynical heart every time I sneak a look at him. (And every time I look, he's usually already staring back, smiling at me.)

Did I mention he's a model? And an ex-gymnast? And he has not one but TWO photo albums of him and all the beautiful famous people he's worked with? And that he drives a motorcycle? Grrrrr.

Jesus. Am I in a romantic porno fantasy? Or am I just projecting WAY too much onto a meet-cute weekend fling? Either way, I'm having/I've had a great time. And I'm diving in with my eyes wide open. And a newfound little skip in my step.

HOLY SHIT

So I'm at Market Days yesterday and I run into my friends Bill and Gabe from Miami (because it IS a small world) and we're wandering through the throngs admiring all the hot men and dodging all the dogs and strollers (who brings dogs and strollers to a crowded street fair?) when my eyes lock with a beautiful man standing in one of the booths. Since we're not able to move very fast in the crowd, our eyes lock a good 10 more times -- and we both get these huge shit-eating grins -- before I'm fully past him. Now, the Normal Jake would panic and keep moving because What If He Didn't Like Me. But I'm getting pretty tired of the Normal Jake, so I -- palms fully sweating -- break away from Bill and Gabe and actually WALK UP TO HIM AND SAY HI. That was Saturday about 3:30 in the afternoon. It's now 9:17 am on Sunday...

And Jesus if he doesn't score high on the Boyfriend Aptitude Test:
Doesn't drink. Check.
Doesn't smoke. Check.
No drugs. Check.
Polite to strangers. Check.
Cool friends. Check.
Fun to talk to. Check.
Gainfully employed. Check.
In a career he loves. Check.
More of a homebody than a party boy. Check.
Amazing kisser. Check.
Decent and kind. Check.
Into me. Check.
Cuter than all goddamn hell. Check.

I'm either in the middle of a very fun weekend fling or at the beginning of a very cool romantic adventure. And you heard about it here first.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

I ran my first 7-mile training run this morning and I actually feel pretty good. I've had some issue with my right hip flexor all week, though -- it's gotten so bad that it's given me a noticeable limp -- and so far it's the only part of my body that isn't too happy with today's run.

And I've started stealing training strategies from people I've run with. M., the highly disinterested date, makes a game of passing everyone he can when he runs -- especially those who pass him first. I tried that this morning and was able to overcome a good third of the people on the trail. Now I just have to discipline myself to throw sprints into my runs -- and stick with them -- to get me to a faster level.

Now I'm off to join Paul and Mike et al. for some Market Days crowds and noise and sweat. Wish me luck.

Bounce!

It's midnight and I just got back from a fun evening with Dan. We met after work at my gym and lifted together. (We followed his Body for Life workout, which shook up what my body was used to and generally KICKED MY ASS.) Then after a better-than-mediocre French dinner at Brasserie Jo, we caught Sondheim's latest musical, "Bounce," which is in previews here before it winds around the country on its way to Broadway.

The show, which is generally lacking Sondheim's trademark verbal and musical sheen, is nice -- but I don't predict it's going to haul home any awards. It got its best reactions from our audience over the gratuitously clever set design (like a wedding altar that opens up to be a wedding bed). And while Richard Kind owns the show, the rest of the cast looks a trifle embarrassed to be in it. And rightfully so. The show isn't horrible, but I had expected a lot more from its creators. And when in my life will I get to see another brand-spanking-new Sondheim musical?

Now it's off to bed so I can wake up early and run 8 or 9 (if I'm feeling ambitious) miles before the Market Days festivities.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

A single person

That's what I'm called on my refi documents. Not a good tap dancer or an attentive listener or a conscientious flosser. Just A Single Person. I don't know why that bugs me -- especially since I've seen it all four times I've signed mortgage and refi papers over the last three years.

But I'm all refinanced and locked into a rate that's so fabulously low it needs a booster seat when it eats with me. And this time I had none of the Chicago Title and Trust fuckups that have plagued my mortgaging and refinancing efforts since I moved to Chicago. At my mortgage closing, the attorney for the developer kept commenting on how hot my arms looked instead of telling me important things about when I needed to get checks to her people. Then CT&T lost my entire mortgage package and I had to come in and sign everything again. My first refi got my tax information fucked up and my taxes got paid TWICE -- which was more than a bitch to resolve with the Cook County Treasurer. My second refi was calculated using the doubled tax figures from the first refi, and fixing it was so complicated we just abandoned the whole effort and started over. That was in March, and today we finally got all the numbers checked and the papers signed and the new low monthly payments smiled at.

Whew.

Monday, August 04, 2003

It's a great night for running. I was going to do only three miles, but it felt so good outside I did five -- and this is after a back/shoulders workout right after work. I'm such a STUD.

But now it's 10:15 and I stink. And all I want to do is crawl into bed.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

So yesterday's date went smashingly well. Great conversation, frequent laughter, easy camaraderie -- and he has a really cute butt.

And I made it to two of the four parties. The first was a Venetian Night get-together in a downtown highrise that gave us a fabulous view of the fireworks in the harbor. The second was a chorus get-together with all its attendant fun. And suddenly it was 1:30 and I was tired. So I went home to bed and slept until 11.

Now I'm off to look at the Venetian Night tall ships docked in the river and the harbor and then catch "28 Days Later" with Bob, Alex and anyone else who tags along.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

I guess I should stop complaining that I never get invited anywhere -- I'm going to FOUR parties tonight. At least I'm going to try to hit all four. They're actually spaced chronologically so I could easily make an appearance at each one. But they're spaced geographically to make full attendance for me as challenging as possible. Plus, I have a coffee date at 4:30 with the nicest, cutest guy. He's clever, gainfully employed, totally hot, funny as hell, into me ... and HE DOENS'T DO DRUGS. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before I find out he's really a woman or a serial killer or a Scalia fan or something horrible like that.

I had a second date with M. last night. But I need to stop even thinking of our get-togethers as dates. As soon as he got in the door, we picked a movie from my growing DVD collection ("Some Like it Hot" -- which we didn't find to be entertaining in the least), we popped it into the player ... and sat quietly next to each other with our knees BARELY touching for two hours. And as soon as it was over he got up and headed for the door. But he decided he wanted to run with me this morning (and he's a much more experienced runner than I am, so I was just a big, gasping pussyboy dragging him down as he sailed through our five miles), and he talked about cooking me breakfast, but that didn't happen. Oh, well.

Friday, August 01, 2003

I think I finally figured out how to make the links at right open in new windows. Oh, the excitement of learning new things!