The new man bag

I rarely date, but when the mood strikes, I’ll give it a whirl when the guy sounds nice. Or brilliant. Like this guy I talked to recently on the phone who shared my foodie obsessions.

“So what’s your favorite pizza on the North Shore?” he asked.

“There is no edible pizza on the North Shore,” I said. And yes, I heard the food snob in me. “I go to Regina’s in the North End when I need a fix. What about you?”

“The best pizza place is twenty minutes away,” he said. “It’s rough.”

I sympathized. Ferrying that pizza home would not end well. We have standards.

“So that’s when I discovered a pizza delivery bag on eBay. It’s really increased my pizza radius,” he said. “Wait, does that make me sound weird?”

No, I thought. No, no, no, no no no! That makes you sound like a genius. Here was a man who cared deeply for optimal pizza temperature; this was a man worth getting to know.

“I love it,” I said, emphasizing the it so he wouldn’t misread my enthusiasm as We’re getting married tomorrow. “We should meet for pizza.”

“Oh, God. I’m too nervous to eat on dates,” he said.

That should have been a sign. He suggested we see a movie instead, which always strikes me as lame. To be fair, we both talked about our love of film, but if there’s no possibility of conversation, what’s the point? Still, I wanted to see Argo, so we made a plan. We weren’t a match, but the movie was gripping. I was, no exaggeration, on the edge of my seat chanting, Go, go, go go go! in one scene (if you’ve seen it, you know what I mean), while at the same time thinking if my date thought I was yelling at him, I would be OK with that. In the end, the promise of a man and his pizza delivery bag lost out to a movie about the Iran hostage crisis. And that, my friends, is the story of my life.

Brooksby Farm and an opportunity missed…but not really

Brooksby Farm in Peabody with its barnyard bevy, autumnal offerings, and quiet orchard is a treat to wander now that the apple picking vultures have disappeared. Wedding guests spilled out of the barn, a spot some people might think of as odd for a wedding, but that I find charming. Rest assured the shindig was taking place in a renovated barn—not the one where the sheep hunker down for the night.

So I’m watching the bucktoothed llama and the irresistible, angelic-faced goat when a tuxedo-clad gentleman wanders over to the fence where I’m standing. It’s true that most men look good in a tuxedo, but this man looked especially good. And then he opened his mouth.

“Do you know what kind of animal this is?” he asked, pointing to the ostrich. The ostrich. Not a wooly mammoth or a zebu cattle that might be hard to identify on a little farm in Peabody, but a run-of-the-mill ostrich. Who doesn’t know what an ostrich looks like?

Before I could answer, he was out of the running despite the aforementioned very nicely tailored tuxedo.

“It’s an emu,” I said.

Please. Like you can tell the difference.

He snapped some photos with his iPhone.

“Fleeing the wedding?” I asked.

“Looking for a date, actually,” he said.

Now, this is where one might come up with a clever retort (“Might I apply for that job?” or “Give me two minutes; I have a dress in the car.”) before an adventure ensues. Others might insert the phrase “opportunity missed,” but I would like to reiterate that the man could not identify an ostrich. Also, his boutonniere suggested he was part of the wedding party, and what kind of friend wanders off and leaves his buddy at the reception?

I glanced from him to the ostrich/emu.

“Looks like the emu is free,” I said.

Stunted trees

In an ideal world, my friends’ boyfriends and husbands would be a good source of single men, their network of male acquaintances branching in every direction like a long-limbed tree—flowering, reaching for the sky, bountiful, fruit dripping from the boughs waiting to be plucked. They’d have brothers and friends, co-workers and buddies; odds are that some of them would be single.

Instead, these men we count on to produce male friends are stunted trees, lifeless stumps, charred trunks left after a forest fire. Dead ends.

It’s not their fault. Some are brother-less; some live or work in the burbs where marriage is a pre-req; some are introverts, bearing no male friends. Some do have friends, but wisely wouldn’t set me or my other single friends up with them.

Lest this sound like a selfish pursuit, it’s also in their best interest to help a girl out; the lack of men in the inner circle can be tough for a guy. I’m thinking of my friend’s husband who endures Sunday football games with his wife and her girlfriends. All that estrogen can make a guy feel outnumbered.

So really guys, branch out. Don’t just flirt with the girl at the watercooler; chat some guy up and bring him home for introductions. Don’t be shy. So what if we go out with him once and discover he lives with his mother or practices polygamy? You did your best to overcome your stunted tree status—and that’s the first step toward re-growth after the flames have cooled and the forest is on the mend. Soon, the wildlife will return.


Stunted tree

Stunted tree

A lid for every pot

I was talking with a group of friends at the beach recently about relationships (a combination of women who are married, dating, and single), and the two of us who are single were lamenting how hard it is to find the right person when my optimistic friend declared, “There’s a lid for every pot.” Such a satisfying phrase, I thought. So sensible and simple; it made me think, Of course we’ll find our lids. I’m not even looking for a shiny copper lid that matches perfectly, so it should be as easy as boiling water.

But then I got to thinking about my disorganized kitchen cabinet and how actually half of my pans don’t have lids, have maybe never had lids. Most of them are just sturdy pans doing a great job flying solo; in fact, my favorite go-to pan didn’t come with a cover and is not any less of a pan for being lidless. And you know when I think about it, I rarely even use the lids I have. What do you need a lid for? Really, are lids necessary?

lots of lidless pans

lots of lidless pans

Love is a battlefield

I was on the phone with a guy the other day arranging our first date. That same night, I dreamt that I was going off to war. I didn’t want to go, of course, and it didn’t take much for me to make the leap: my subconscious was suggesting that I didn’t want a relationship either. Surely, Freud would say a dream that straightforward was like cheating.

Pat Benatar was spot on when she sang “Love is a battlefield.” Embarking on a relationship is not unlike going to war—possibly worse because you don’t have the benefit of weapons. True, we hadn’t even met yet, but you know how the mind works: a nice conversation leads to marriage. Content in my single life, I was clearly reticent to embark on this dangerous endeavor. I suspect I’d be happier safeguarding my liberties from the home front than on the battlefield manning artillery.

Turns our our date was postponed for logistical reasons (no, not because I let slip my nightmare), granting me a reprieve in which I can huddle with my subconscious troops and strategize a new plan of attack that perhaps involves retreat…

Being single on Valentine’s Day ain’t so bad

Because this is an excerpt from my last date:

I’m at the cafe first, seated, and when he comes in, he’s cute in a quirky way and our phone conversations reveal that he’s smart, so I overlook the Cosby sweater and awkward greeting characteristic of most IT geniuses. He chooses to sit as far away as possible—in the chair across from me, so I have to lean forward, which has the unfortunate effect of making me appear more engaged than I actually am. We talk about our jobs, histories, habits. He tells me that he enjoys role playing games, and I perk up. I’m visualizing us picking out French maid costumes and think huh, I didn’t think he had it in him. Soon, I realize he’s talking about online games and virtual worlds. Super. That’s pretty much my idea of hell. But hey, no judging. I regroup.

We talk politics and he can articulate the reasons he supports John Edward (back when he was in the race), a good sign. But when the conversation wanders into music, he admits that he loves musicals. Deep breath. I cut him some slack; at least he goes to the theater. But no, he had to go and overshare; he tells me just loves the soundtrack of “The Little Mermaid” and in fact, it’s in the CD player in his car. Faced with a lifetime of listening to a crab sing “Under the Sea,” I politely wish him well and try not to run out the door.