Saturday, September 30, 2006

When you just know

So I’ve started meeting the boyfriend’s family … only two months after we met each other. Which isn’t terribly remarkable, I guess—except I’ve started meeting his nieces. Adults can meet love interests and understand when relationships don’t work out. Children—who I believe are a lot more perceptive about meeting Uncle Jake’s or Uncle Boyfriend’s “friends” than we give them credit for—don’t need to watch adult relationships start and fail. At least in my opinion. And the last thing I want to do is drag Uncle Boyfriend into my nephew and niece’s world or have him drag me into his nieces' world and then have us mysteriously disappear from each other’s lives. Kids can learn about heartbreak and uncertainty when they’re eight. Until then, their lives should be focused on pancakes and kittens and poop jokes and a growing awareness that they aren’t as popular or cool or attractive as the other kids.

So the point of that long, convoluted paragraph—which I’m writing when I should be in bed because in five hours I’m getting up and running a whopping 26-mile training run but I’m so thrilled with where our relationship is going that I’m forgoing sleep to write about it—is that the boyfriend and I are so sure of our future together that we’re involving the children in our lives. And that state of certainty is a pretty spectacular place to be.

Two months ago I had a job and a condo and a steadfast belief that the LAST thing I needed in my life was a man. Then I went to a delightful little brunch at some friends’ house. Two months later I’m unemployed and homeless and living with those friends and so madly and surely in love with the man I met at that delightful little brunch that I just had dinner with his brother’s family (it went smashingly well, but then again his family is delightful and I’d been on eight interviews in the two weeks before the dinner so I was fully programmed to be charming and witty and adorable) and I’m going to his niece’s christening tomorrow and in a month we’re driving five hours to his cousin’s wedding, where I’ll be under no pressure whatsoever to be even more charming and witty and adorable and to remember people’s names. Good thing we have five hours in the car beforehand. I’m bringing flash cards.

And since I’m unemployed and his work schedule leaves him time for mid-week getaways, we’re talking about road-tripping to Iowa sometime soon so he can meet my family—including my uncommonly photogenic niece and nephew, about whom I now entertain domestic fantasies about being best friends with his uncommonly photogenic nieces when we get together for our extended families’ weekly croquet matches. And the sooner we get to Iowa the better—I just got him tickets with my family and some family friends to see the chorus holiday show together, and it would probably be a teensy bit awkward for him to meet my parents for the first time in a theater lobby while I was backstage putting on my reindeer antlers. It’s better to do it on a beautiful Iowa afternoon where I can be there to make sure he and his many charms don’t snow everyone to the extent that they forget they ever knew me. Then again, if he becomes the favorite uncle, I can get away with buying the kids cheap socks for their birthdays since their expectations will be so low.

Soon after the boyfriend and I met and bonded over our passion for the show-tune sciences, we began joking about which songs we wanted sung at our wedding. (Not a Day Goes By (the happy version), Our Time, You Walk with Me, Unexpected Song and maybe You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow / Love Will See Us Through as a lighthearted recessional were the first titles on the list, which continues to grow by the day.) Before he left on his freakishy long business trip—when we hadn’t even known each other for a month—I told him (coyly) that I hadn’t been entirely joking about the whole wedding thing. He told me hadn’t been either. Except for the part about Unexpected Song, of course. Ain’t nobody singing Webber at OUR wedding.

Sometimes you just know.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

NoFo No Mo’

As of about 3:30 today, I am no longer a taxpaying resident of the NoFo corridor. (I don’t know exactly where the NoFo corridor is either; I made up the NoFo name when I found out all the other blog names I wanted to use were taken, and I added “corridor” for the sake of this post because it sounded kind of official. In any case, I am now living in temporary digs south of Foster until my Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condo—which is also south of Foster—is ready for me to move in.) I will not be changing the NoFo name, though, because 1) I like it, 2) it sounds kind of naughty, 3) which means I like it even more, 4) changing a blog name is more trouble than it’s worth, and 5) the fall TV season is upon us, so I have more important things to do.

But the closing on my condo today went off without a hitch (except for the part where the buyer’s very hunky Realtor didn’t show up in a Speedo and a cowboy hat), and I am officially now in a weird limbo between homes. All of which means, of course, that I am unemployed AND homeless. Chicks dig that.

I do want to get one thing off my chest here: I sold my house on the first showing. In case you missed that, let me say it again: I sold my house on the first showing. In a buyers’ market, no less. And I got damn near my asking price. I didn’t want to write about it here until the deal was closed, though, for fear of jinxing everything. But now that I have the check safely in my bank account, I want to mention once again that I sold my house on the first showing.

That weird limbo between homes
I have some wonderful friends. And some wonderful luck … unemployment notwithstanding. This weekend, amid tornadoes and drenching rain, my friends and I loaded damn near everything I own into a POD, which was soon trucked away for safekeeping. In exchange for their backbreaking labor, I fed my friends brownies and sodas and promised them pizza, which they all refused, saving me a good thirty bucks. And then I moved into the lovely and spacious home of two other friends, who have promised me their guest room and their cooking and their company for as long as I need until my Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condo is ready. If I time the offer right—like maybe right after a huge meal—maybe I can get them to refuse my pizza as well, and I’ll be a whopping sixty bucks ahead. And through this whole adventure, every weird scheduling glitch ended up becoming a stroke of good timing, and every unexpected expense turned out to be pretty nominal. (For instance, did you know you can rent dollies from U-Haul for a mere seven dollars a day? SEVEN DOLLARS for an afternoon of back-friendly labor. The only way it could be easier is if you were watching a movie about movers—though you’d actually end up paying more.)

Romantic Date Guy No Mo’
Amid all this chaos and change, Romantic Date Guy sadly stopped being my Romantic Date Guy. Because somewhere along the way, he officially became my BOYFRIEND. (Sorry for toying with your emotions there—unemployment sometimes makes me sadistic.) And if I didn’t love him more than shoes and ice cream before he came home from his freakishly long business trip, the way he so cheerfully commandeered my weekend packing and storing and moving adventure from the moment he got off the plane pushed me way over the edge. So pardon me while I get all fizzy and funny and fine here just by blogging about him. And pardon me while I quote someone other than Sondheim when I declare what a catch I have caught. You haven’t heard the last of Jake and The Boyfriend. And you haven’t even begun to retch in nausea over our preternatural happiness.

In other news,
I realized as I was unpacking my power bars and energy gels at my temporary digs this weekend that oh yeah, I’m training for a marathon. It’s been two weeks since my last run, and this weekend we’re pounding out a whopping 26 miles. I grabbed five miles today and felt fine, so I think I’ll be OK.

Which means all the pieces are falling into place: The closing happened right on schedule. I just got a signed contract for my new Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condo, complete with all the changes I’d requested. My interim housing is lovely and wonderful and, quite frankly, more than a fellow could ask for. Marathon training is going well. And the boyfriend makes my heart flutter and jump and leap damn near out my chest every time I see his smile or feel his hand in mine or even see his name in my inbox. All that’s missing is the damn job. And I have a very good feeling about my prospects. Stay tuned.

So start saving up for: housewarming gifts, new-job gifts, marathon-completion gifts and gay-wedding gifts. The reader who gives me the most loot gets the nicest thank-you card.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Romantic Date Guy

He's back. After his freakishly long business trip.

Let the little happy dance commence.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It! Finally! Happened!

I've lived in Chicago for more than six years. I ride the bus and take the train and work (well, at the moment, worked) downtown and run along the lakefront and go to big splashy events and eat at restaurants and in general am quite the man about town. By some definitions.

And yet I have never run into a famous person here. Or anywhere, for that matter. Co-workers will tell stories of running into Bill Murray on Michigan Avenue over their lunch hour. Friends will recount breathlessly how they saw Jennifer Aniston at the Holiday Club over the weekend. But not me. I keep thinking I'm going to look up from my Show Tune Weekly (which I keep hidden in a copy of Tap and Clog World so nobody thinks I'm some kind of queer) one day and discover I'm sitting next to Oprah on the 147 bus, but it never happens. (She must be a 151 gal. Or maybe she's one of those snooty 136ers. They're so smug with their even numbers and their I-don't-have-to-take-the-inner-Drive-to-get-to-work attitude. Let's make fun of their shoes.)

But that all changed tonight! My friend Rich (who is not the famous person) is here on business from San Francisco, see, and I met him at his hotel at an hour that could be considered "after work" if I actually had any work to go to, and we grabbed a late-night snack (raspberry tea and caramel brownies!) and took a little walking tour of downtown Chicago together. We meandered as far north as Oak Street and as far south as the river, where we descended those lovely terraced steps at Wacker and Wabash to explore the new war memorial. Which is pretty impressive. And the space down there with the fountains and the landscaping and the out-of-the-way places you can sit and watch the river go by is so gorgeous it makes me wish Romantic Date Guy would come back from his freakishly long four-week business trip sometime soon. (Wish granted! He comes back tomorrow! And I'm so excited I could seriously exhaust my lifetime allotment of exclamation points in this single paragraph!)

Where was I? Oh, yes: I heard a rumor that Mary Cheney is a lesbian.

Oops. I backed up too far. I was talking about that lovely new area on lower Wacker where I was about to run into my very first famous person. And it wasn't Mary Cheney. Thank goodness. Anyway, as Rich and I climbed back up the steps at State Street, I heard a familiar voice. I looked up, and standing right there at the end of the State Street bridge talking to some blond woman about her camera as though doing something that pedestrian were acceptable behavior for a person of such fame and stature was ...

Did I mention that I think Mary Cheney is a lesbian? And don't you think that lesbian is a funny word anyway? Say it with me: LEZZZZBEEEEEEUUUUUNNNNN. See? Funny!

Anyway, as Rich (who was not impressed) and I were walking back to his hotel, I kept harping on the fact that I had finally seen my very first famous person. Rich was all "I have to get home and call my husband" and I was all "I have first dibs on your bathroom" and he was all "OK" and I was all "cool, because I really have to pee" and he was all "I said it was OK" and I was all "are you sure? because it's your bathroom" and he was all "seriously--you can use it first" and I was all "cool, thanks" because I've always maintained when I finally ran into Fred Willard on the street, the first thing I was probably going to do is pee.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Unemployment: Why I don’t recommend it

1) It’s exhausting. Finding a new job is a full-time job, with all those emails and phone calls and more emails and more phone calls and even more phone calls and adding all those damn accents to résumé and going on interviews and dressing for interviews, which is the most stressful part as far as I’m concerned because it’s advertising and nobody wears a suit in advertising so if you show up in a suit it might look like you’re totally out of touch with advertising but if you show up in something other than a suit you might look like you need to show some damn respect which is the wrong impression to give for a first impression, at least at a job interview.

2) It’s exhausting part two. You spend half your energy convincing people you’re not going to need therapy and a 24-hour suicide watch. Really, people. I lost a job. Not a limb. Not a relative. Not a supermodel’s phone number. Yes, it sucks. But no, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, the timing is bad. But there rarely is a perfect time to be laid off. No, it didn’t happen on my terms and I didn’t get a goodbye party and a card signed by everyone the routing folder managed to make it to on my last day. But I had a good six-year run and I’m actually excited about what adventures the future holds. And I got severance, so I have a little time to explore options I never even considered. I’m a smart boy with lots of friends and more connections than I even realized I had. And I can be so charming at an interview you wouldn’t even recognize me. I’ll find another job. Thank you very much for your concern, but you can save your tears for Suri Cruise. That poor thing has problems.

3) It’s complicated. I went to the unemployment office the day after the layoffs. I filled out the paperwork. I listened as the guy explained what I needed to do. I took notes. I assume the whole process was designed to be so easy that even uneducated laborers with language barriers can figure it out. Yet I still don’t get it. And, quite frankly, I’m a little freaked out at the prospect of calling the system to check in on my first designated call day. Maybe I should revise that “smart boy” statement from section 2 …

4) There’s no structure. I like structure. I’m used to structure. (Hell, I even shopped at Structure before it turned into Express Men. But let’s just keep that as our little secret, shall we?) My day used to play out thusly: Alarm. NPR. Breakfast. Shower. Bus. (Or train if I was feeling like mixing it up.) Work. Work out. Lunch at desk. Work. Bus. (Or train if I was feeling like mixing it up.) Home. Evening activities. Sleep. Rinse and repeat. Now that I’m unemployed, my days play out like the first chapter of The Sound and the Fury where poor little Benjy tries to explain what happened but he just fords aimlessly through every stream of consciousness he can find. And where there’s no structure, I can lose entire days in a fog of cereal and CSI reruns.

5) There’s no structure part two. How much free time have I had since the layoffs? How many blog posts have I made? I rest my case.

6) You start to think poor. I sang at a conference Saturday afternoon. There was an hour-and-a-half break between sets. I was hungry. I bought a muffin at the little muffin vendor to help me kill time. It was $3. I spent waaaaay too much time thinking about how the unemployed really shouldn’t spend $3 on a muffin.

7) You become a food hoarder. I also ran in the AIDS Run/Walk 5K Saturday morning. There were free bananas and oranges and breakfast bars and energy drinks after the run. I filled my backpack. If there had been free soup, I would have lined my backpack with tin foil to try to get it home as well.

8) You have to write thank-you notes. People have been crawling out of the crawl space where I thought I’d buried them woodwork to give me job leads and referrals and words of encouragements and offers of help and actual interviews since mere moments after the layoffs. I’m gonna have to write so many thank-you notes when this is over, my hand is already starting to cramp.

10) Your professional skills atrophy. For instance, I have forgotten how to count to 10.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

OK. Seriously.

If I were the type to get all weepy in the face of kindness—and if I were the type to wear mascara in a non-football-photo kind of setting—I’d have some serious smeary-face issues today.

The fact that my friends and colleagues started networking for me mere moments after I got laid off is pretty amazing. It’s a professional courtesy that happens pretty regularly in the face of layoffs—and I’ve done the same thing for other people on many occasions—but when people do it for you it takes on a whole new significance … and it takes a HUGE ugly weight off your shoulders. And it makes you feel loved, albeit in a non-sexual, office-appropriate, highly professional, no-need-to-involve-HR kind of way. Except for the part where we touch tummies.

This networking (and follow-uping and put-in-a-good-wording) has generated about five serious job leads including interviews. (Dress shoes! Matching up ties and shirts and suits! ACK! I’m so not gay that way!) All within 48 hours of the layoffs. I’m not out of the unemployment woods yet, but I have every reason to believe I’m gonna make it after all. And sooner than later.

And then there are your comments on my post about the layoff. I mean really. All I’ve ever done for you people is tell poop jokes and make fun of Ann Coulter. And maybe once in a while ask for money. Or a kidney. And your outpouring of support and good wishes and even legitimate job leads is nothing short of beautiful. I’m talking Nick Lachey beautiful. Sibelius’ Second Symphony beautiful. Cookie dough ice cream beautiful. Romantic Date Guy beautiful.

(And have you seen the comments count? 35 at this posting! I don’t think I normally get 35 comments in a week. I feel so Joe.My.God right now!)

So thank you. And when I get my new job and get my ass moved (there is moving drama I haven’t even BEGUN to cover here) and RDG gets back from his ridiculously long business trip and back in my arms where he belongs, we can all sit down and have a good laugh over the events of late 2006.

But in the mean time, I have to go touch up my mascara.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Welfare Queen!

I’ve been in advertising since … well never you mind the fact that I started in advertising the year Head of the Class went off the air.

In that time, I’ve survived more than 15 rounds of layoffs—both big and small—at two different companies.

And on Monday it was my turn.

And you know what? Being unemployed is not all naps and marshmallows. It’s exhausting. At least on the first day. My damn phone—actually, my damn phones—have been ringing off the hook since I crawled home drunk and smelling mysteriously of jasmine and motor oil late last night. And it hasn’t been just friends and family members desperate for a vicarious glimpse of the abject horrors of living on the public dole (and what color shoes are you supposed to wear with torn sackcloth?)—it’s actually been recruiters and HR people and creative directors asking for my résumé. Because the moment I got laid off, my friends and colleagues apparently all started networking for me. Which is so George Bailey I can hardly stand it.

But I’m not leaving my professional future solely in the hands of the people I know and love and trust. No! That would be silly! I’m also going to whore myself out to the strangers who read my blog! So dear blog-reading strangers: If you know of a fabulous Chicago job in the fields of advertising or the show-tune sciences—particularly one in an ultra-plush, space-needle-like office with a view of Nick Lachey’s tanning chaise—please let me know! Here are my skills:
• Marketing, branding, advertising, complaining how Madonna always sings flat
• Direct mail, Web, print, POP, DRTV, radio, rhythmic clapping
• Blogging, checking my hotmail, stealing company pens
• Writing! I almost forgot! I can also do lots of writing!

Email your leads, job offers, bequests and pictures of your neighbors naked—soon!—to dax18@hotmail.com. Because we all know: The sooner Jake gets a job, the sooner we can all get back to poop jokes and Ann Coulter/Mel Gibson eviscerations and shirtless pictures of me posted under the pretense that I’m not, in fact, fishing for compliments.

But before we go, I want to share a few things about the process of being laid off:

What are the first two things that go through your mind when you realize your job is about to crash and burn?
1) Maybe this isn’t a layoff. Maybe all the HR people called me into a remote conference room to promote me! (They didn’t.)
2) But my friend and coworker Jennifer and I are going to have dinner tonight! Do you think they’ll let me … you know … hang out in my old office all afternoon so she and I can still go out? (Turns out it took me all afternoon to pack, so Jennifer and I did indeed get to have dinner—and we saw Little Miss Sunshine, which is AWESOME.)

The worst part about getting laid off: Realizing you don’t know how to assemble the boxes they give you to pack up your stuff. Seriously. It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to assemble a box. I’m too stupid to be unemployed. We need to get me a job!

Wow.

So I write a long, heartfelt post on gay assimilation and almost all the feedback I get is about … my mugshot. Which I guess is better than no feedback at all, but still.

For the record, the face I was making in that mugshot reflected nothing more untoward than the act of tying my shoes while wearing running shorts that are so short they look like underwear. But somehow when I cropped the shoe-tying and the shorty-short short shorts out of the picture you-all saw something base and vulgar. Shame on you. Shame!

But I was starting to get worried; I was running out of mugshot-worthy pics that were both recent and able to fit pleasingly within the technical specs of blogger’s mugshot window—and every new pic I did post generated tons of scathing mockery helpful feedback from you, my loyal reader(s). Fortunately, my friend Drew is a fledgling photographer who has a lot of equipment, a lot of free time, and the burning desire to practice with light and composition and all those other artsy things that photographers think about.

In addition to a photography series he’s working on for an exhibit, he has a few connections for some actual print work, and he asked me to model for him on Sunday in exchange for a bunch of free pics of myself that aren’t taken with my ghetto camera that was made during the Civil War.

The print job he specifically asked me to model for is the football-themed (don’t laugh!) cover of Boi magazine (stop laughing!), one of Chicago's trendy gay rags. It seems they needed someone who looked like a football player (seriously—I’m going to have to ask you to stop laughing now) to wear football gear (this is your fourth warning) and look all sexy and appealing and relevant to the young gay party crowd. (That’s it! You and your laughing have gone too far. You are no longer my friend. And you don’t get to borrow my football.)

And this is one of the many bazillion shots he took of me. Notice the black smudgy stuff under my eyes. Can you smell the street cred? We weren’t sure what real football players use for black smudgy stuff, so we used mascara (on sale at Walgreens for only $4!). Also notice how limp and lifeless and mousy-blah my hair is. That's from wearing the helmet. Honestly, I don't know what they pay football players nowadays, but for the havoc those helmets wreak on their hair, it can't be enough:


We also took some interesting shots in other funny hats. I like this one because I didn’t have to hold my stomach in:


For headshot options, we took the basic Serious Face And Black Shirt shots, though this one seemed too serious for my blog:


And we did some Serious Face And Black Shirt shots with interesting poses, but if we cropped this one for a mugshot, it might look like I have a fleshy bow in my hair:


This one also seemed too serious for the blog, but I liked the way it made my eyes look Mel Gibson matinee-idol-who-is-NOT-batshit-crazy blue:


And this is the mugshot pic I settled on. I like the half-serious-half-smirk thing Drew captured that will float effortlessly between posts about poop, Ann Coulter, pooping on Ann Coulter and killing hookers in the basement. And marathon training. The shirt around my neck seemed like a fun idea at the time, but now it looks like maybe I dislocated my shoulder or I need to go back for remedial donning-a-wifebeater training:


In other weekend news, we ran a whopping 23 miles on Saturday—in blessedly cool, overcast, breezy weather. I felt fabulous when we got done, but I got home and crashed HARD for four hours. Then I talked to Romantic Date Guy (who is still on his long-ass business trip) for a couple hours. Then I had some dinner. Then I went back to bed. Which is exactly why I qualify to represent the young gay party crowd on the football-themed cover of Boi magazine:


(And stop laughing already!)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thursday begets Sunday

She hasn’t been working for us very long. And I hadn’t worked directly with her until this week, so I have valid reasons for not knowing her very well. To me she’s just been this incredibly talented, widely respected, freakishly busy, hugely pregnant producer I’ve made small talk with in the elevator a couple times.

So she was in my office yesterday to discuss the project I’m doing with her, and after we finished talking business, she lowered her voice to a whisper and asked me if the woman in the office next to mine is … gay. I’m not in the habit of outing people just to make conversation, but the woman in the office next to mine is openly gay and she competed (and won!) in the Gay Games and her gold medal was announced at the last company meeting, so I wasn’t exactly violating confidences when I told my visitor that my office is indeed in the company’s gay ghetto. (It takes just two homos in adjacent offices to make a ghetto. Look it up.)

But curious why a straight woman would want to know something like that, I asked her—jokingly—“Why? Are you?”

She looked at me as though I had just asked if she were black—she is—and said: “Hard core!”

And once again I was faced with the reality that my gaydar is as reliable as Ralph “China” Reed’s Christian integrity. (Anyone up for some casino gambling?) Just because my co-worker is pregnant, I ignored all the signs that she might be gay because lesbians never get pregnant.

But seriously, when I look at her as a gay woman, I still don’t really see that many clues. Which is either a sign of my obliviousness or of her just-like-everyone-elseness.

My views on gay assimilation are all over the map. If homosexuality were instantly recognizable (like skin color) I bet we wouldn’t suffer such vitriolic hatred from people too stupid to realize gay people are all around them. (I’ve seen many racists look around to make sure the room is “clear” before they launch into a black joke, but the homophobes dive right in with their fag jokes since they have no way of knowing how many of us are in the room.)

At the same time, I’m not a fan of big ol’ screaming queens—an opinion that used to come from my (what some people would describe as self-loathing, and today I wouldn’t disagree) position in the why-can’t-you-queens-just-act-normal camp, but is now more a product of the fact that I’m old and tired and people who bounce around and make a lot of noise irritate me simply because they bounce around and make a lot of noise, whether they’re six-year-olds, sorority girls, drunken bar patrons, disruptive bus passengers or big ol’ screaming queens. (And really, how can you get through my 90-word sentences when you’re bouncing around and making a lot of noise?)

Then again, if gay people were just like everyone else, the world would lose a lot of its texture: our creativity colored by our unique brand of oppression, our growing fearlessness in the face of bigotry, and the delightfully dark sense of humor we develop to laugh off the 24/7 attacks on our character and our morality and our worthiness to be treated as equal citizens.

If we assimilate we could be forced to embrace the same failure-prone marriage paradigm that straight people live—and divorce—under. But if we don’t assimilate we may never get the same rights and protections that paradigm provides.

If we assimilate we could perhaps eradicate the one tool—us—the Christian Hate Industry uses to rally the sleeping troops and mislead them into voting for monkeys who ironically haven’t yet evolved. But if we don’t assimilate we could undermine the growing zeitgeist of awareness and compassion that our struggles have also focused on other victims of oppression.

Wow. I didn’t mean to get all philosophical here; I was just writing a blog post about how much I suck at identifying fellow ’mos. But somehow I went off on a tangent. Imagine that.

But since I’m wandering, I’ll close with something seriously—but not entirely—unrelated: the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by Stephen Sondheim:

Sunday, by the blue purple yellow red water
On the green purple yellow red grass.
Let us pass through our perfect park.
Pausing on a Sunday

By the cool blue triangular water
On the soft green elliptical grass
As we pass through arrangements of shadow
Toward the verticals of trees
Forever.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The signs we didn’t heed

Sign #1: On the crowded rooftop patio of Sidetrack on a beautiful Labor Day weekend afternoon, a huge group of guys suddenly got up from PRIME guy-watching seats and disappeared as fast as Tom Cruise’s fake baby.

Sign #2: The group of guys we walked past on the way to grab the good seats cryptically advised us not to make eye contact. But they didn’t say with whom.

Sign #3: A purse and a pair of tacky bejeweled flip-flops lay mysteriously abandoned in the spot the all-male Suri crowd had just fled.

But we sat there anyway. And within seconds it came at us us: Drunken Mess Woman, a besotted, barefoot little fireplug with a mane of overprocessed pre-Raphaelite tendrils and an apple-shaped midsection squeezed into tiny black stretch pants in a way that violated every decency and kindness-to-fabric code ever written.

She instantly declared herself our best friend, sipping our drinks, blathering on and on about her friend Shawn who would be perfect for us (all three of us, apparently), and moving from our arms to our shoulders to our laps with alarming speed.

I’m never comfortable around the chemically sloppy, so I clammed up faster than Tony Snow at an unscripted press conference. But my friends quietly tolerated her. For a bit. Then she got violent (well, as violent as a 120-lb lush can get). But she aimed her violence only at me (probably because at 6’1” and 195 lbs, I was the runt of our group), punching me in the shoulder for not listening to her unfocused ramblings and then trying to strangle me when I wouldn’t let her straddle me lapdance-style. I gently pushed her away the first two times, but when she lunged for the second strangle, I pushed her hard—just as the quieter of my two friends suddenly bellowed “That’s enough!”

She landed, stunned, on her butt and stared up at us like a kitten being scolded for peeing on the baby. My heretofore quiet friend quickly launched into a stern lecture, telling her she was out of control and a mess and it was time for her to leave.

And then we left, which was totally unfair because she still got the good seats on the rooftop patio—all because she was a drunken lush in an unfortunate outfit.

But that was the only low point of my holiday weekend (other than the part where it ended, of course). My friends, who were in town from North Carolina for a weekend of Chicago adventure, took my offer to be their part-time tour guide and stretched it to a three-day stint as their Third Amigo—we hung out practically from the time I met them Friday after work until I took them to the airport on Monday afternoon. Which was an awesome—but not entirely successful—way to distract me from the loneliness of my first whole weekend away from Romantic Date Guy.

Speaking of RDG, we have only two more weeks to endure until he’s back in Chicago. But through the magic of text messaging, email and cell phones, we’re still as nauseating as ever. We just don’t get to be as obvious about it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

It has come to my attention

that my new profile pic is not so flattering. “Creepy,” some of you have said. “Child molester,” some of you have declared. Thankfully, none of you have compared it to Ann Coulter. I’d rather be a creepy child molester.

In my defense, the picture looks pretty good when it’s not shrunk to the size of Mel Gibson’s common sense. But I agree: When you cram all those pixels into that little window, my teeth somehow grow into piano keys, giving me an eat-an-apple-through-a-picket-fence overbite. And nobody likes a creepy child molester with an overbite. Well, maybe Ann Coulter. (Dear Ann Coulter’s lawyers: I’m KIDDING! Just like when she said that Clinton’s heterosexual promiscuity means that he’s gay! Or when she called Al Gore a fag on national television! It’s just like that! She and I are exactly the same! Except I’m not a scabby whore!)

WHEW. Where was I? Oh, yes: Even with a mouth full of piano keys, I’m still prettier than Ann.

And why do I think this picture looks pretty good in its larger state? Because the smile on my face is the smile of a man sitting next to Romantic Date Guy a few hours after they met. You just can’t get a smile more genuine than that. I’d love to show you the whole picture, which features his alarmingly handsome mug as well, but for various reasons (privacy, judiciousness, manufactured suspense), RDG is going to remain a faceless enigma in these parts for the time being.

In any case, until I find a less bucktoothed mugshot to post here, please scroll down to this image every time you visit. I just don’t have the insurance to cover fright-induced shock, piano-key blindness or derisive-laughter-induced pee-covered furniture.