Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vera's thing.

I was very close to my grandmother. She was very rigid - not strict - but rigid in her emotional bearing. She held back her feelings because she was born in England in 1911 and that is what they did. Since my mother had to work, she and I were always together. She was a good "third" when my mother was around, for holidays and functions. She was up for having fun and going places. We often said we should get a "fourth" meaning my mother should get re-married and then the real fun would start. I'm not sure I loved her, but I was the closest one to her and she is all I had and I miss her now that she is gone.

My grandmother moved her whole life to be near me. When I was 6 years old, I was placed with a babysitter during the half day so I could attend kindergarten. She looked after a bunch of kids and stored us all in the basement while she watched soaps, only letting us in the kitchen to eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I could not eat them. I never tried. Her house smelled. She always yelled at me. One weekend my grandmother asked what I did in the basement and I responded, "Sometimes I cry." I truly have no independent recollection of the basement to this day. My grandmother had rented an apartment across the street and moved in by the following week. We were never apart for the next 12 years.

My grandmother died in the summer of her 100th year after 8 years of prolonged illnesses that took away her ability to speak and everything else. She asked to be cremated and it was done. While she was not religious, in the fall we decided to have a Mass in her name and I would host brunch to say a few words. I sent an email advising anyone who was interested to come. A few outside her immediate circle told me they would.

Less than two weeks before the event, I got an email in my inbox that arrived with the subject heading "Vera's thing." Immediately my heart stopped. I figured someone did not know she was dead. Then my brain flashed to the literal meaning, as in, Vera's things. I thought maybe someone was telling me to remove her belongings from the nursing home. Of course! I thought, I had not been back since the night of her death and I had to collect her stuff. Silly me to forget her stuffed animals!

But I opened it and realized that it was a response to the Funeral Mass. Someone in the email chain had changed the title of "Mass for Vera Moore 24 Sept 2011" to "Vera's thing." and was telling me they would be there. WHY? I was really insulted.

So I thought about it for a week. I thought seriously and at great length about my relationship with the people involved; about what the future would be if I complained, and what I was saying about myself if I did not. Funerals are for the people still living. Everyone wants to see a loved one squared away, but truthfully the spirit has flown. I do not think we attend our own funerals. Only those left behind do. If you are going to a funeral, you are going to support the living. If they were coming to "Vera's thing.", they were coming because of me.

But it seems they could not do that without first insulting me.

So I complained. I returned the email to the offending party and - without laying blame - asked that she ensure the person who changed the title did not attend. She admitted it was she would did it and that she was sorry but it was really my fault (not sure how she got that one in there) and that she was really busy when she was forwarded the email (still not her fault) but if I still do not want her to come that she would understand.

"Don't come." I wrote. She was not a blood relative. It's hardly the end of the world. Besides, she "would understand"...right?

I never heard from her again.

But I did hear from her father.

In the end, she was not as understanding as she led me to believe. I can only imagine the conversation, but somehow her father was to blame because he had forwarded the email to me keeping the offending subject line intact. He began that he was sorry he had done it and it ended with "under the circumstances [he] and [his wife] would not attend either". What really caught me was a line in the middle, where he said that he apologized for not taking the time to craft a proper response. I was stung. Until that moment I did not realize that he had not done that. I did not realize he was capable of more than what he did write. I had never seen that side of him. I had always assumed the limited amount he gave was his best. I have been misled all these years.

What is evident is how casually they approached this function and how quickly they blew me off. They did not want to come, they did not really know Vera, but they could not lose face and not attend. However, she could not leave it at that. She had to insult me first. She changed the title of the email to that specifically because she wanted her dad to know how little she regarded me, and she wanted him to be in on the joke. There are no accidents, there are no coincidences.

Then - when she was found out - she complained to her father so that he would write that email to hurt me. And like a fool, he did. It had nothing to do with him... and yet it did. I wonder if he would have written a different email if I had a father of my own at home to protect me. I believe he would have gone to some lengths to salvage the relationship if he feared retaliation. But then, if he had the smallest amount of respect for me, he would have sent that carefully crafted response he mentioned. When I did not do the right thing and "forgive" the slight, they decided together to sever the relationship within a few hours. I know this because he "wished me all the best". This sentence always has the taste of sour grapes. It's a response best saved for couples that are breaking up. I was shocked at the heartlessness of doing this to a grieving grandchild. This was not adult behaviour. If anything, he should have passed his regrets through my mother, to prevent doing more harm.

But I was also relieved.

In truth, the relationship was faltering for some time. I had attended a number of events for these people. I had done my best to be a good guest and yet I always felt judged. There was always something I wasn't doing correctly. I did not greet ugly strangers warmly enough. I did not smile gently when the fat one openly insulted me. Their interests - no matter how arcane - were always paramount and at the cutting edge of chic. Mine always needed hours of explanation. It was exhausting. I opted to play the buffoon rather than interact seriously with them. And when that failed to protect me, I just made excuses.

I gave a 20 minute eulogy at my Grandmother's Wake and ended with a poem that brought me to tears. It was beautiful. I could only have done this in a room full of friends. I could not have them arrive late and leave early. I could not have them insulting the waitress or looking down on the table manners of others. I could not have them being "ironic" at this function, I could not allow them to be snobs. I was looking for a way out and my grandmother gave me one. Grandma is, even now, self-satisfied and smoking in the Hereafter with shining eyes and a down-turned pout that was her way of smiling when she got her way. Back when I was a child, members of the offending family had said they were related to kings and queens of Ireland. This is likely true, but my grandmother laughed her head off when she heard it. She lived poor with three sisters, through two World Wars in London, England. She knew only too well about middle-class families putting on airs.

Someday, one of them will die. And I'll wear a red dress to the thing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Date #53 -The Saddest Place on Earth

This man wanted me to go to a swingers club with him. He wrote in it the subject line of his first email. I am open to new things and I had been wanting to go to this place for a while, but my best guy friend would not take me because he is a prude ... and probably a communist.

But first, a quick primer on swingers clubs.
Swingers clubs are legal in the province of Ontario since 2005.
And the following is pulled directly from Wikipedia:
Swingers clubs are either groups that organize sex related activities or an establishment where patrons can engage in sex acts with other patrons. A sex club differs from a brothel in that, while sex club patrons typically pay a fee to enter the club, they have sex with other patrons rather than with sex workers employed by the establishment. Larger establishments may also include the facilities of an ordinary nightclub such as a bar and a dance floor. Each sex club sets the rules for activities which take place at club organised events. Traditionally swingers' clubs do not discriminate in regards to physical appearance or age, the average age of a swinger is 39, while the ages when people first enter the swinging lifestyle average 31 for women and 34 for men.

This man was a regular at this club. You had to be a member to even get in the door, plus cover and drinks cost a fortune. My date J. paid in cash. The husband and wife owners were busy mingling and pretty soon one of the nearly naked hostesses was giving us a "tour". The club is a converted 3-storey Victorian home. The first floor is a beautifully appointed resto lounge that also serves dinner. The second floor is not accessible without a wristband because this is where the swinging happens. You must also be naked to be on this floor. Clothing is stored in a locker. No exceptions. Floor Two is a large white open concept room with a bar at one end and a Jacuzzi and glass shower at the other. In the middle are a variety of beds covered with a white fitted sheet. The third floor "penthouse" is more intense with various toys, rooms that can be rented for the night and walls covered in black paint. Everywhere there are bowls filled with condoms and we were told that sheets could be changed upon request. I found all this incredibly interesting, especially since it was completely empty. Midnight on a Friday night and the place was totally abandoned. When does the fun start?

My date was recently separated from the mother of his very young children. He had met her at university 17 years ago and said "we don't get married on Quebec" with an arrogant air, like marriage was a silly concept. I did not argue with him. It was too loud and I did not care as long as he kept buying drinks. This wasn't a therapy session. He talked endlessly about his prior adventures at this club. He reminded me of the hilarious character in American Pie who begins every breathless sentence with "One time, at band camp..." He kept asking if I knew what went on at this club, if I had ever seen the website and how you had to be really open-minded to come to a club like this. Blah, blah, blah. Well, frenchie, where I come from we don't talk our women to death.

In short, I was bored. I stared at every individual in the club and pictured myself having sex with them. Women included. It did not help that was the youngest one in there by 10-15 years, excluding the hostesses. Single men have to pay an outrageous fortune to enter alone, if they come with a woman it is less - hence, the reason J. asked me here. I was his ticket in at a lower price. He wanted discounted anonymous sex. What a charmer.

J. interfered with my reverie when he began to talk about something new. He mentioned that during his (non)marriage, he had had a "secret" older, Colombian girlfriend for a year. That he had fallen in love with her. That he had left his (non)wife and 2 infant children to marry this woman but that she would not leave her husband and 3 daughters because - of course - she was married too!

He suspected - he continued with no prompting from me - that he was not her only boyfriend on the side but that she had always sworn she was faithful J. - to the man with whom she was having an affair. And he went on to say that after they had broken up (two short months ago) he had gone back on Craigslist and the first woman he emailed ...was her!

I could barely contain my laughter, but I managed to keep a straight face. After all, what kind of people did you expect would love a place like this?

It was clear he was trying to fake that he wasn't dying of a broken heart. He tried his best to act like he wanted to fuck me (a total stranger!). He put his arm around me. He tried to hold my hand and then looked for any reason at all to let go of it. He kept smelling my hair and telling me I smelled nice. The first time was cute, the 11th time was pathetic. I was tempted to tell him that my last boyfriend who had a hair fetish is now doing 25 to life in the penitentiary for armed robbery. (Fact.)

He got into a conversation with the (older) couple seated to our right who were (ahem) married. Immediately the 3 of them began to talk: about what goes on at a place like this, what the website looks like and how you had to be really open-minded to come to place like this...etc.

I decided to call his bluff.

"When are we going upstairs?"

"Well" he sighed and leaned away from me, "there is no rush."
Really, son? That's not what most men say.

This was my cue to make like Cinderella and run. "Wow! Look at the time! Thank you! Goodnight!"

Thirty minutes later I was tucked up in my immaculate bed reading a book with a pussycat purring beside me. Pure Heaven.

Oh! Did I mention that I stopped to get a cheeseburger on the way home? Apparently the place did inspire a craving within me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mr. Kiddo

The following is an actual text exchange with a 34-year-old man

Him: When are we going for the VQD
Reader Note: VQD stands for Very Quick Drink. I invented it. I copyright it.

Me: I'm usually free eves and weekends

Him: Well one of those nights, you are mine.
Reader Note: This is a non-commital answer. Warning bells! He is not as serious as he sounds. To test my theory, I write...

Me: There is a [place] at [location]

Him: That could work...
Reader Note: Second non-commital answer. The idea of a date is effectively dead in my mind. Single Girls don't text.

Him: and what are we doing after this VQD
Reader Note: If you want a sure thing, I accept cash.

Me: depends on how cute you are (read: depends how successful you are)

Him: I have a few ideas. And they involve both of us naked.

Me: only if you are very lucky (read: only if you are very successful)

Him: I should bring my horseshoe and rabbits foot then

Me: very funny

Him: do you have a blackberry

Me: only nerds have blackberrys

Him: so thats a yes then
Reader's Note: It's too bad he is a schmuck, because this is fairly entertaining.

Me: There's a great app for your blackberry. It's called an iPhone.

Him: There is a great app for you. It's called the back of my hand. (Hawt!)

Me: Biter

Him: You like biting?

Me: No comment, Badboi. I know you do.
Reader's Note: badboi is his online name. I wasn't trying to be cool and write like Avril Lavigne's first album.

Him: and so what if I do?

Me: I like being bitten. By the right person. (Fact.)

Him: Note to self...Me likey the fun kinky stuff

Me: Then why are you saying it in a baby voice? (EW!)

Him: Haha. Fine I like it fuckn kinky. That better?

Me: Yes. Better question: Do you have your own place? I live with roommates.

Him: Nadda. Ever home alone?
Reader's Note: You live with your parents?!?!

Me: Then I guess it ends here. Too bad, so sad.

Him: So I take it you're never home alone?

Me: I'm interested in sex, not running a hostel.

Him: And I want to fuck too (well, son, we all want things...)

Me: I only date guys who are successful. Sorry kiddo.

Him: Don't call me kiddo. Like you're my babysitter.

Me: You bit off more than you could chew, Mr. Kiddo.

Him: Ha. that comment tells me everything I need to know about you. Lose the Ego.

Me: I forgive you, Mr. Kiddo. Maybe I'll dress up like your babysitter for Halloween and we can work out any unresolved issues.

Full Disclosure: Mr. Kiddo began texting again on a Thursday afternoon about a week later. He did not identify himself and so I simply asked him to call after 5pm and then deleted it. He really did not want to do that so he basically ignored me and tried asking me out on a date via text message. This read: "What are you doing Mon or Tues of next week?" and "Do you want to hook up next week?". Again I deleted it. When I got up the following day he had filled my text inbox during the night with this message "??" and "So?".

Me too - Mr. Kiddo - me too... *sigh*

The moral of the story is ... there is no moral. Do not allow men to endlessly text you! It's childish, it's annoying and no grown man who actually wants to date you will rely on this technique to close the deal.

Date # 52 - The Buddy Date

This man saw my online profile and managed to schedule a date without getting my number. This is never ideal, but it's not a total red flag. It does, however, indicate a lack of commitment to something simple like a first drinks date. Or that he is married. From experience, I prefer to never agree to this kind of date, because it means that if he intends to cancel, he will send a message via internet. Thankfully, modernity makes this easy to check, but you should not be on pins and needles before a date because it's terrible for the skin.

I am very vain about my skin.

He also did not send a follow up message to confirm the date. This, together, with the no phone number IS a red flag. It's not that he is married - married men tend to be catches because another woman has already trained him in good manners- it's that he was a commitment-phobe... And before I knew it, I was on a "Buddy Date". *cue the Gilligan's Island theme music*

The Rules details are as follows; He got in touch with me, and selected the date and time, then - since he was coming to see me and not the other way around- he asked where I would like to meet. I suggested a place very close and convenient to me (because I am a Rules Girl) and he agreed. He was sitting in the bar early, he complemented the location (men love it because it is at the corner of 2 highways- Eat that Date#50!) and already had a beer going. These are great starts to any date, right?

This man was a territory rep for a home installation firm. He lived in Hamilton and he drove ...a lot. As a result, he was not physically fit. He leaned back in his chair and looked at the football game on TV and I realized that whoever did share his life better not hope for much better. He asked a lot of questions. This is great. Our conversation really flowed and he kept finding things we had in common. He told me about his hobbies: gardening, cooking, that he should really work as a chef but that his experience was in home improvement. He kept mentioning a future us, as in "I'll remember that for the next time I see you" and - like any normal Canadian woman - I began to imagine a Mike Holmes-esque future with my new ...buddy.

Then he said something that made me stop. He said that he was new in his job but that he hoped to open his own PR company, and that he was a big fan of social media.

What? You are forty, you deal in home improvement ...
and you want to be covering parties at the film festival?

Well, yes. He said that we all had a personal brand and that he would like to help people develop their "brand". I briefly shuddered. I said that I used to go to the TIFF movies but my friend got married and did not have time to do it with me anymore. But before I had the words out of my mouth, he said "I NEVER WANT TO BE LIKE THAT".

What? (for the second time) Now I am really stumped, l'il buddy-ol' pal o' mine

The waitress arrived and asked if we needed another drink. I ordered some water because I was only staying for one drink. But the Buddy Date does not operate like that, and he ordered a second beer - thus locking me into waiting for him to finish it, or allowing him an excuse to not walk me to my car. What an asshole.

He said that he never wanted his marriage to prevent him from going to a movie.

What? (for the third and final time. Follow up question: What's the point of dating?)

He scoffed at people that change after they got married. I gently reminded him that marriage is a lifestyle change and that nothing can come before building the foundation of your marriage, especially in the early years. He looked at me blankly. Then he began to argue with me, using the most reductionist arguments.
(I guess he was surprised that his ol' buddy did not agree with him).

"So you're saying that I can't go to a movie if I'm married?!?"
"Well, you are not being fair, that is not exactly what I said." We both knew he was deliberately trying to misunderstand me.
Me: "Did you not hear what I said?"
Him: "No, I heard you."
Me: "But you don't believe me..."
And he didn't have to say anything because I saw it in his eyes. His beady little eyes.
You see, I said, this is why you are not married
(Buddies are supposed to be honest, right?)
and the hard look in his fat face got even harder.
I told him I was "gonna wind it up" and got up and left.
Thanks L'il Buddy for sabotaging this date.

Full Disclosure: There may be larger forces at work here. There was a point early in the date where he mentioned his hobbies and then said that "[his] friends must think [he's] gay". This is a major red flag on a first date. When people mention things like a hypothetical, it's to convey a deeper truth that they themselves can not face. Dear Reader, if a first date ever mentions a deal breaker like this (i.e. I'm looking for a man, he's also looking for a man) then immediately make your excuses and leave. Do not ask any questions, just go. Straight men to not make this comment on first dates with women they are trying to score.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Date # 51 - The Mouse Stops For No Man

This date was my first experience with deliberately ignoring phone callsPlease note, Dear Reader, that The Rules NEVER indicate that you should be a pain in the ass. At the same time, you should never be too available too a man.

This man got my number within four emails and called during daylight hours. However, this is the bare minimum that a Rules Girl should expect, you should not jump on every call you get. For whatever reason, I decided not to answer it. He left a nice message, but I was truly busy with the fiasco of Date #50. Ironically, he called a second time while I was waiting for [rhymes with fenk] (see Date#50) to call and so I answered it.

He was adorable but he had no plan except that he was willing to come out my way. I asked him to meet at a great place on College but car trouble prevented it. I called to cancel and he was a little disbelieving. I didn't blame him. I hung up and concentrated on the problem at hand. I figured that was it. But he called back to offer assistance and when I got that message the following day, I thought it was sweet. I sent a text to re-schedule and he responded favorably.

He was early.
He was polite.
He was a lawyer.

The first 5 minutes were pretty bad. He seemed very nervous and quiet and I briefly considered making an excuse and leaving. But then I asked what he did for a living and when he said "lawyer", suddenly he had a lot to talk about! I was thrilled to be on a date with a man who had an actual job. He warmed up but always stayed very polite. He was a gentleman. He reminded me of Forrest Gump. This is not an insult. He was open to new ideas (i.e. he did not mock me when I said I drove to Graceland and stayed in roadside motels - which was an experience I loved, and that most people poke fun). He fascinated me with a long story about watching "A Fish Called Wanda" twice a day with his brother and learning to speak basic Russian in a Montreal bar while getting a Master's degree in Public Policy. These two stories are charmingly inter-related. 

After 60 minutes, I called for the cheque because there was an evil a/c vent pointed right at him and despite being cold I could tell he would have stayed longer (sweet). As we parted I told him to call me. He said he would, but then he sent a text message that night. It said that it was nice meeting me and if I wanted to go out again, then I should let him know. 
This is less than ideal. I want a man who knows he wants me, not a guy who needs encouragement to do basic things. So I did the nicest thing I know to do in this situation. I deleted the message and I will continue to hope that he calls with the intention of asking me out. But it may not matter because Date # 52 is already booked for tomorrow night.

And I decided that I am going to be artifically inseminated.

Full Disclosure: Date #51A
Well, colour me surprised. This man not only called me and asked me out. He showed up early, with minimal discussion and dressed better than when I first met him. He had yards more game than I first imagined.

He bought me 2 drinks and mushrooms neptune which he allowed me to devour by myself (smart man). Since he was a lawyer by trade - a civil litigation lawyer - he proceeded to fill the next ninety minutes by arguing finer and finer points of minutae with me. He simply could not help himself. It was totally adorable... but exhausting. And I was into it, I really was, if only he was not still in love with a woman who broke up with him 3 months ago.

They were both atheists (How do they meet each other?).

When he leaned in for a kiss goodnight - truly adorable - I discovered that he smoked, too. That and the no-God-thing is probably a dealbreaker. Oh, win some, you lose some, you burn others at the stake. Just sayin'.

Still More Disclosure: I thought this man had moved on, but I think he just went on vacation. He texted after 10 days (on a sunday night) asking if I wanted to go for a drink sometime in the next week - but he prefaced that with "My week is really hectic". It goes without saying that I do not care because everyone's life is hectic. Except mine. I work hard at having a calm life. And yes, this makes me a better person than you.

When I deleted the text, as he knew I would, he called on Wednesday (three days later). He called at 11pm at night and he left a message. He did not mention a hectic week in the message. I wonder what changed? I deleted that message too because I did not want to go out with him again. And truly he did not want to go out with me, or he would have called earlier, at a better time and made sure it happened rather than letting it die on the vine.