Friday, May 30, 2008

My sister's big guns

My oldest sister, the light-eyed blonde of the family, has legs up to her neck. She's the only one of us to ever have abs (or boobs, really), and she can make you beg for mercy in a matter of seconds, regardless of your gender. That's the power of her honed-to-perfection one-handed, joint-crushing finger-squeeze.

Hate her with me: She's a tall, slender mother-of-one enjoying the simple life in a beautiful home on an unspoiled lake in Nova Scotia with her handsome husband and lovable 14-year-old son, with whom she makes regular trips to Mexico.

When I call from my modest apartment in Montreal to tell her I'll be squatting a slice of her waterfront property soon, she laughs at me. Either she doesn't know I'm serious, or she knows she can run me off with the threat of her one-handed, joint-crushing finger-squeeze. Or, her gun. Oh yeah. Her gun.

Mrs. Leggy-Blonde-Scrapbooking-Tupperware-Momma is a dead shot. She fly-fishes, hunts wildfowl and deer (and did so while pregnant), and once pulled her own tooth because it was more convenient than driving to Halifax for emergency dental surgery. "Besides," she said, "it was the weekend and they would've overcharged". Not only does my sister know how to save a buck, she swings an axe with grace, can pluck a duck, and does Mensa puzzles for fun. If you beat her at Boggle, she'll whip up some shortbread as your reward.

Are you a well-read survivalist thinking my sister might be the perfect woman? Well, let me confirm that for you: she also brews her own beer.

There you have it. Nature clearly trumps nurture. Perhaps the only thing we share in common (aside from our love of Mexico and wanting to live on her property) is our sense of humour, which is the only reason I think I can get away with writing about her here (Hi Ninner!). That, and the fact that I still totally look up to her.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Better than fuzzity, way better

So what if she wears ass-pancaking beige capris with white socks and puts her make-up on in the dark? I like her. This woman was ahead of me in line at Videotron, renting Sandra Bullock's entire filmography (which I'm willing to overlook in this context only), when she took a few selfless moments to make my day.

Lately, I've been feeling invisible, as though I exist only to field non-stop, unvarying questions about what is apparently, by neighbourhood consensus, "the-cutest-puppy-in-the-world". I've been fostering her thanks to a local assistance-canine training program.

People are drawn to her like crazed, moronic zombies. They stumble toward us, their arms extended forward and hands grabbing at air, babbling unintelligibly. All I can make out are words like "toutou-ou-ou" and "fuzzity-wuzzity" and "puppy-wuppy". It's so disturbing, I started taking less-populated side streets.

My puppy's been stalked and fondled by many a Montrealer this past month (including members of most Montreal bands you know), mentioned in "Missed Connections" on Craigslist, even serenaded by the schizophrenic busker outside our neighbourhood budget grocery store. More than anything, people wanted to know her name, but never mine. Twice, I was asked for her phone number, for dog dates. Truer than ever before (and I have significant experience with the phenomenon), I'm the pretty girl's best friend. She gets all the attention, even though she's a bitch.

So, when the woman in the unflattering pants at the video store overlooked my puppy and asked me if my "gorgeous hair" was natural, or, to please tell her where I'd gotten it done, I was willing to overlook her poor taste in clothes and movies, take her compliment and run.

"So there," I said to my puppy on the walk home, with a sneer. "My hair is way better than fuzzity-wuzzity."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Trashing my neighbour

My neighbour, while fairly cute, is a procrastinator. Or maybe he's lazy. Or standard-issue stupid. I think I'll stick with stupid, because he's really pissing me off right now, and the only way I can excuse him is to think that he just doesn't realize that the bag of trash he left in the hallway outside his door isn't going to take itself to the curb.

I wouldn't be so passive-aggressive if this was his first offence, but it's not, and his sack of crap's been ripening there for five days now, which happens to be the exact number required to awaken the beast within me - the passive-aggressive ogre I lulled into a coma at the end of my last long-term relationship.

The silver lining is that it's not full of cat litter this time, that and he's not my boyfriend, but I still have to deal with his garbage. Deposited en route from my door to the building's main exit, the trash wafts its gnarly fumes into my nostrils several times daily. While I want it gone, there is no way in the hell that is paper-thin-walls-apartment-living, that I am going to get rid of it for him, because if he came to expect that from me, then I might have to kill him.

I don't want to risk starting a feud, and I despise confrontation, so I've decided to send an anonymous message that I'm not pleased with his contribution to our shared space, without outing myself as one of the building's few Anglophones. So, yesterday, under the cover of night, I drew a sad face on a piece of printer paper, and taped it to the bag. That'll teach him, I thought.

Honestly, I'd expected for him to take the hint and politely throw the bag out this morning, not push it to the center of the hallway, the sad face greeting me first thing today, which I read to mean, "It's on." So, this post is my unofficial, indirect, passive-aggressive warning to my jerk neighbour that, if the trash isn't gone by the end of today, I'll be taping an angry face to the bag tonight. Oh yeah.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Better bedtimes to come, surely

There's a bull penis in my bed and it smells awful. That's my situation.

My friend Mike would say I'm telling you this because I'm from a small town - just like the one he's from, but a few miles down the coast of Nova Scotia and minus several thousand people. Since the fishery died, not much happens outside of lobster season, so living there, we learned to self-entertain by perverting the mundane into pseudo-events worth talking about, though worthiness is debatable. Leaving out just the right important details, a skill passed from generation to generation of Maritimer, is something we do if only to force you to say, "What!?", so we can keep talking.

Now I live in Montreal - an overwhelmingly magnificent city with a population literally 10,000 times that of my hometown - where real scandals happen all the time. I could tell you about any of them, but old habits die hard and I just want to prattle on about the crusty old bull penis in my bed. The dog jumped up to chew it there. Arguably once the ultimate symbol of male fertility, it's now a dried up stick of rawhide, and it stinks.

At the pet store yesterday, I was reading its list of ingredients at the cash and got as far as, "All-natural, free-range, organic..." before the clerk cut in to say, "...bull penis. Trust me, you'll want to double-bag that sucker."

Now my dog has penis breath, and for the official record that is everlasting web archives, my bed has seen better days.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My lease, my money, and my what?

My spray-tanned building manager isn't mad at me anymore, or so he says. That's great news, because what it would've taken to make him happy, I'm really not into, and I'll need him as a reference later.

He's wished me dead since December, but I hadn't spoken to him for months and didn't know, so I was confused when he formally forgave me just this week.

"I want you to know, I'm not mad at you anymore," he announced, and paused, allowing me a chance to apologize, to redeem myself to him. Instinctively, since I was in his office asking him for a favour, I thought it best to play along. "I'm sorry," I said. But it didn't feel right, and I wasn't convincing because I had no idea for what.

"When you didn't call me back, I was really hurt," he went on, the air was viscous with melodrama, bitter with cologne. "I called you twice, and nothing. Nothing."

I had a flashback: It was winter and I'd just returned from Belize, where I'd unexpectedly extended my stay. I was there assisting a moderately renowned artist / Rastafari-turned-Freemason / alcoholic sociopath with customer relations, to beef up my resume while on the road. My building manager helped stave off the rent-hungry landlord until I got back. Having deflected all flack for the delay, I thought he deserved a little Belizean treat, and since the only thing I enjoyed about the country was the food, I brought him satchels of dry rub seasonings.

Before arriving in his office that snowy day in December, we'd never met. I'd never seen his portly frame dressed in fuchsia, his seemingly polished, hairless egg of a head, or his series of chins. Still, I somehow managed to bring him the perfect gift, because thanks to divine coincidence, he's a foodie. Enthralled, he kept the conversation rolling for an hour, until I impressed him by talking red wine, which is when he made his pitch.

"I'm going to take you to Laval's best kept secret, an incredible French bistro," he declared. It wasn't a question or an invitation so much as an obligation. It was an awkward moment I hadn't seen coming, and I knew, with every centimeter of my being, driving to the suburbs alone with my middle-aged building manager would be even more risky and unpleasant than going back to Belize.

"Ooooh, that sounds nice, thanks," I lied, "but I am going to Nova Scotia for the holidays." I sighed, using the sound of my relief to have a legitimate excuse, to help fake disappointment. A few days later, before I made my escape, he left me voicemail, "I have something for you. Call me."

From that moment, until I caught my plane to the safe, remote village that is my hometown, the ring of my phone was an air raid siren. Whenever it sounded, I'd cover my head and, filled with anxiety and dread, pray for it to end. That was back in December, and I'd forgotten all about the incident, but my building manager hadn't.

"I bought you a nice bottle of wine," he said, "but you never called me back, so I drank it."

This man manages tens of large buildings with hundreds of tenants, and yet he bought me, little old late-cheque-sending me, a present. Surely his intentions weren't pure, but still, this man will be my primary reference when I apply to rent a new apartment, so I need to handle his pride with care. I trapped him into admitting he enjoyed drinking the wine without me, and then heckled him a little for bothering to call me, when he is so clearly out of my league. It's all about angle.

Thinking I'd won and could leave, our respective pride and virtue intact, I thanked him for his time.

"Maybe we could still share a bottle of red sometime," he blurted. I had nothing left. No defence. No possibility of witty evasion. The air in his office so thick, we were stuck. Ten full seconds, or heartbeats, or swallows passed before we each, simultaneously, drew out a long uncomfortable, "Ooooooooooo-kay."

I turned the knob, pulled the door open and left, not sure which of us was responsible for allowing that final, terrible moment to happen, and praying there won't be another air raid any time soon.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fatal datal flaws

Whether or not we speak its truth out loud, we all have a list, long or short, of things we're incapable of forgiving. Fatal flaws. Rippling red pennants of lessons-already-learned. And we're particularly heavy-handed when it comes to dating.

Anyone interested in the contents of my pants is subject to a zero-tolerance policy. Any offence merits an automatic conviction, lasting for all eternity, a term to be served as hi-bye friends, if that. Whiskey is the only known, albeit volatile and temporary, Kryptonite for this class of galactic repulsion. Consider it a weekend pass.

The list isn't about high expectations, it's about compatibility. A turn-off is a turn-off. A red flag ignored doesn't go away, it's an I-told-you-so waiting to happen, in which case, your only consolation is that you can beat yourself over the head with it later.

Everyone's list is different, so there can be no cheat sheet. The list is the final word - dating gospel even more powerful than your best friend's opinion - and it gets longer with every failed relationship, every one-night-stand, every birthday candle extinguished, and with every unfertilized egg flushed down the pipes of my Montreal apartment.

Divulging details of your list (like I'm about to do) is not recommended, as you risk offending everyone around you. Your itemized fatal flaws could, potentially, mirror a friend's lover's list of attributes, or worse, those of their spouse. Or, just make you sound like a pretentious, self-important jerk-o.

So, before reading on, please consider my disclaimer: I don't think I'm the cat's ass (as we say in Canada), or the dog's bollocks (as I've heard is said in England). There are simply some characteristics and behaviours I can't accommodate into my lifestyle, things that may seem minor to you, but actually represent tips of icebergs larger than those melting in the poles right now for me. If you're offended by my inflexibility (you should see my complete list), then I think you'll agree, we shouldn't date.

I'd rather drink Pine Sol than make you breakfast, if you fit the following description, and I'm pretty sure once you sober up you'll feel the same:

You are an animal-hating homophobe with no desire to read or travel anywhere without a wet-bar. You complain that immigrants are ruining the fabric of the nation, and your favourite food is "fast". You think Africa is a country and Mexican is a language.

People are poor because they're lazy, you declare, as you drive to the corner store two blocks from your house, in your fully-equipped yellow SUV so you can blare prime time TV en route while you run out to grab another carton of smokes and a couple 40 oz. big boys of Maximum Ice. You put off this grocery shopping because the drugs you snorted last night gave you a wicked headache, but you're pretty sure that by tomorrow you'll be back at the gym getting pumped doing your usual routine: bench presses and vanity curls.

Intentionally purchased one-size-too-small, your shirt shows your eraser-hard nipples like exclamation points beneath the logo emblazoned on your top-heavy figure. When you're near, I can taste $80-cologne in the air. I know how much it costs, because you tell me. You spritz your balls because "the ladies love it".

If you were ever ready to stop doing body shots off college girls in beerkinis, and ask me to marry you, you'd buy me a gold ring with a huge sparkling diamond, just like your coworkers told you to, proving that you never really listened to anything I said.

No reason to worry about that, though. We'd never get to that point, because everything I am, my entire living, breathing being, is fer-EFFEN-sure on your list, too.

red flag / on the left, originally uploaded by seitlich.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Return of the filthy puppy

You know that cruel and common saying that's supposed to make you feel better about splitting up with someone, but totally doesn't? The one that begins, "If you love something set it free...", and then goes on to suggest there's a glimmer of hope for a future together, and, even though you'd never admit it, when you're really bummed you reassure yourself with it anyway? Well, I tested it, for real, and it worked. My discovery was accidental, and not very scientific, but as for much research concerning matters of the heart (and other essential organs), it began with animal testing.

Last Friday, I said good-bye to a puppy I'd been fostering for a foundation that will later train her as a Super Dog to assist a child with special needs.

While I'd grown completely attached to her in the little time I was able to keep her, the foundation found her an "excellent", more permanent foster-family, with kids and a yard and stability---all things I can't offer.

Saying good-bye sucked the big one, even though I knew it was for the greater, longer-term good, because once something turns you upside-down, righting yourself can be a challenge. Anyway, I let her go. I had to. I signed a contract that said so. Short of puppy-napping her, and running off to Mexico in disguises, there was nothing I could do to make the relationship last.

Yet, right now, the little carnivore is sleeping on my lap, dreaming of chasing a warm-blooded and delicious snack. She came back, the same foster puppy that left me last Friday, the one I cried myself to sleep missing.

During the first two days of her absence, I'd consoled myself knowing that she was better off in her new home, with more people to love her and snuggle her and give her chewy treats. She'd be having so much fun in her wonderful new home, I told myself, that I'd soon be a mere memory of a friendly kibble dispenser to her.

So, when I got the call from the foundation early Monday morning, I was shocked, re-traumatized. Every consolation I'd offered myself in the days she'd been gone, which I spent gorging on comfort food, was annihilated with the declaration, "They don't want her." She'd eaten their child's homework, they said.

Of course, I agreed to love her more, while the foundation searches for a new, more reliable home. One where all my hopes and expectations for her are realized, although I'll have to try a lot harder to convince myself it's true next time.

I love her and I let her go, and she came back to me, tail wagging. But somewhere, in the small-print of that cruel and common saying, is the warning that even if what you let go comes back, there's no guarantee it'll stay. You might as well enjoy the time you have, and I have two bonus upside-down weeks with the puppy of my dreams.

The night before she left, I interviewed her about how she felt. She was terribly filthy (we'd gotten caught in the rain) and not the most cooperative subject. Looking back at the way she licked her butt, slobbered mystery bits onto my hand, and ultimately tried to destroy me, I think she knew the new family wasn't going to work out, and was trying to tell me:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Man vs. Mimbo

It was the moment of truth, the day-time equivalent to last call. If he didn't close the deal before we parted ways this sunny afternoon, he may never have another chance.

"Is this where it ends?" he asked when we reached the park boundary, and seductively peeled off his sunglasses (if that's still possible since the Eighties). In the same movement, he turned to face me, allowing his sparkling green eyes opportunity to enchant me, and hit me where it hurts so good. He did it with such confidence, that it was clear the move has worked before, but likely on younger, far less jaded prey.

Obviously, he'd been told---aside from his dark brown skin, athletic build, sculpted facial structure and caramel-smooth voice---that his eyes are his most striking feature, the big guns, and that's why he saved them for this final play. After spending an hour with him, I believe that to be true; they are his best feature. At least he has something to fall back on.

Essentially, bringing a puppy to a city park is an invitation to speed-dating. A floppity, irresistible "in". This particular candidate's off-leash, tennis ball-addicted Boxer facilitated our initial introductions by shamelessly sliming my legs, toppling my coffee and, finally, snuggling up to my own furry-fiasco in a disarmingly cute display of puppy love. She was sweet and clever, and more subtle than her master, her end game well-executed.

I wasn't impervious to the twenty-something's immediate charms, physical (and fleeting) though they were, and my body language is the likely culprit that encouraged him to settle onto the grassy patch beside me. From there, he asked all the right questions while I wondered if I had croissant flakes stuck to my problem tooth, the one that seems to attract them.

He spoke to his dog with calm respect and control, and he touched on my small-talk favourites right away: bicycles and travel. Since my daily necessity is to exhaust my puppy (so I can work at home without sacrificing a summer shoe or two for a few moments of chew-free peace) I welcomed this harmless flirting to pervert my routine, and suggested we walk our dogs together.

Maybe it was beginner's luck, but he was off to a big, strong start. Despite his shortcomings, he did better than most so far this season, and it took him at least twenty minutes to out himself as a graphic sex-talking, bestiality-references-are-funny-thinkin', agree-with-everything, urban legend-believing, pretty-boy with an eye for my ass. When we stopped for a drink at a kiosk near the park exit, I found myself explaining that, although it looks similar, Sprite is not "sparkling water". I'd gotten myself a Mimbo. A male bimbo.

And now it was last call, and he'd made his move. There we stood, face-to-face in the moment of truth. "Thanks for the dog-walk," I said, edging away. One cute, needy mammal is really all I can handle. I softened the split with a gentle "see you in the park someday".

"I hope so," he yelled at my back, and a few more comments, but I thought it best not to stop. I kept walking until I was out of range of his enchanting green eyes, his best feature, and then circled around. Sure he'd gone home to ponder what went wrong and then promptly forget about me, I returned to the grassy patch, where my puppy slept at my feet, and avoided eye contact with strangers for the rest of that sunny afternoon.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My mother, my muse

Ever since my mom realized I was writing about her online, she's been tattling on my dad. She's trying to divert my attention, but the harder she tries, the more hilarious she is, and off I go to write about her some more. "Oh, pick on your father for once," she'll say, her last ditch effort.

Here she is, laughing hysterically:

My mother, fellow lover of ridiculousness and inappropriate behaviour, is a sensitive woman (and vulgar and loving and neurotic and wonderful and I could go on-and-on) and I want to be careful not to make her feel self-conscious, or overly exposed by what I'm telling the world about her, so for years, I've refused to give her the link to my blog. It was the only solution. What she doesn't know won't irk her.

There's no way I can stop writing about her, she's a major player in this little life of mine, I was her doing. Dad didn't want any more kids. He was busy with my older sisters and the neighbourhood boys they'd sneak in through the basement. Safeguarding two virginities was exhausting work for a father of two beautiful teenage girls in the Peace-and-Love era, and he wasn't sure he'd have energy to do it again.

While my father is truly the greatest, a wholly interesting and lovely man (who decided I was a good idea after all), my mother is the real antagonist, the character of the family. Dad's just not controversial, not outside the context of his marriage to my mother, in which his primary commitment, she says with a twinkle and a smirk, is to slowly and definitively drive her mad. I love them both dearly, and want them to know that everything I write, I write with love and respect, and I only occasionally write about sex.

When oddball, small-time writer and editor, Maxim Jakubowski, asked to include blurbs of this blog in an anthology of online journals (2005), I chose excerpts I could show my parents. How fun, I thought at the time, to read my stories to them from a book that is for sale, in real-live stores.

When I received two complementary copies in the mail, they weren't what I'd been expecting, and I realized what I'd gotten into. Published in New York under the title, Sex Diaries, and in London, Erotic Online Diaries, my sex-devoid contribution begins on page 208, inexplicably sandwiched between sodomy, masturbation, bondage and sadomasochism. You might think that's why I decided not to show my parents the end product.

They're not so squeamish, though, and I think they could have handled the graphic sex stuff, or at least leafed past it. It was me with the problem. The web address to this blog was on every published page, and I wasn't ready to expose myself to them. My parents don't need to know a lot of things, for their own good, and selfishly, I wanted to preserve my freedom of expression without fear of familial persecution or guilt. A growing readership means my parents will see my blog sooner than later, though, or worst case scenario, one of their friends will first.

Little-by-little, I've tried to prepare both parties. I've read select entries to them over the phone, and copied-and-pasted others with minor edits, like the story about how I tactlessly brought up oral sex to my mom (a regrettable incident): Me, Mom and Polish Sausage.

She laughed while I read to her, and chastised me again for sharing "too much information". Feeling like we really made progress, I later mentioned that I'd gotten some funny feedback on that story. She was shocked.

"You let people read that?" She reacted as though I'd peed in the kitchen sink.

"Yes, Mom, it's on my blog," I was confused by her reaction. "I told you that."

"And you show people your blog?" she asked, incredulous. I explained to her that my blog is available on the internet for all the world to see, for as long as there exist web archives, possibly outlasting civilization, even cockroaches. Realizing what this meant, she began shouting, "People know what you DO! People know what you DO! They know what you do with your man-friends!"

It was my turn to laugh, repeating the term "man-friend", over and over again, and finally catching my breath to say, "You know I'm going to write about that."

This Mother's Day, she requested two gifts: an ornamental shrub, and "too much information". Finally, somewhat reluctantly, and not without fair warning, I welcome her to my blog. It's really only fair.

World, meet my mom. She's here, right now, reading this, wondering if you know what I do with my "man-friends".

Mom, make yourself at home. These people already know you.

Your love is still unconditional, right?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dear Puppy,

This is one of those letters parents write to their children when they're small and unreasonable, so when they get a little older, they'll understand the cruel and usual punishments of parenthood, and that they were loved and/or tolerated regardless. Writing letters also helps parents sort through stockpiled last straws, and remember that there are cleaner and calmer days to come. Probably, anyway. At worst, documentation will help doctors pinpoint exactly when things started to go wrong.

What makes this letter different is that, after this morning, I may never see you again. That, and you're a dog, and you will never read this. You're leaving to join your new, more permanent foster family, one with a yard to poop in and kids to fight over who has to walk you.

I worry about you, but I know in a week's time you won't give a flying crap-in-a-baggie about me. Your new people will give you cheese-and-bacon-flavoured Buddy Biscuits, and we all know, just like the musicians I crush on and their bands, your relationship with chewy treats takes priority over all others. I would only ever have come second to you anyway.

The weeks we spent together were intense. At times, you were a total pain in my ass, and others, you were the sweetest, most wonderful hairy mammal I've ever cuddled. You followed me everywhere, forgiving me daily for making you go outside to poop, to where people would coo, "What a cute puppy!" while your back was arched and tail lifted. You'd shoot me a sideways glance, and I knew what you were thinking.

I fell in love with you, fast and hard. When you first moved in, I was really nervous. I wondered what we'd talk about all day, how I'd keep you entertained. You followed me everywhere, which is great, because again like some musicians I've dated, you couldn't be trusted alone.

Once, I was in the shower washing my hair, and when I rinsed the suds from my eyes, there you were, watching me. You'd pushed the curtain aside with your snout, and poked your tiny head over the edge of the tub. The spray was hitting your face, and you were blinking furiously, looking slightly miserable. It was then I knew you loved me, too.

Now, you have to go. I agreed to give you love and attention until the Foundation was able to find you a more permanent foster home, where you will stay until you are all grown-up and ready to be an assistant dog for someone who really needs you, not just someone who really wants you, like me. I can't give you the commitment you require, so it's the right thing to do, to let you go and do your good work. Yes, I'm reassuring myself.

I just want you to know that you've changed me for the better (and my house and its chewed and punctured contents are changed only slightly for the worse). You were my first, for this kind of love anyway, and someday, when I grow up, I want a puppy just like you, for keeps.

Your belly-scratching provider-of-treats.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

New puppy-owner lesson #99

"Are you doing what I think you're doing?" my friend asked when she came out of the bathroom and saw me crouched low to the floor, shaking my head and making noises.

"That depends," I said, looking up, removing long, coarse and strangely salty hairs from my mouth. "What do you think I'm doing?"

"I think you're blowing on the dog's belly. That doesn't even work," she said.

"Yeah, I figured that out."

Monday, May 05, 2008

My heart on a platter of sleeves

Every time I go to Latin America, it steals a little slice of my heart and a portion of my liver. Soon, I'm going to have to gather all the little pieces into one place, so I can get on with things.

Providing emotional all-access visas to select foreign candidates (a habit of mine) does me no lasting good. The more incredible they are in bed and conversation, the more incredibly difficult it is for me to evict them from my mental real estate. In the long run, I end up with little more than ongoing lessons in flirtational Spanish. Sure, I've made a few valuable, lasting friendships, but now I want more.

I decided that this last trip to Costa Rica would be different. This time, I was travelling with my sister and fourteen-year-old niece, and my running off with some beach-brown heartthrob and returning in the middle of the night with chapped lips, messy hair and a foolish grin, wasn't the story I wanted them to relay to the rest of the family. Not every trip to Latin America requires a steamy romantic encounter, however tempting and served on a platter it may be.

I resisted. I did. My mother doesn't believe me, but my sister, who orchestrated the fiasco can vouch for me.

This was their first trip to Central America, and I intended to make them fall in love with it. I wanted them to talk about the basilisk lizard a stray kitten chased into our cabin, about eating fish eyeballs, about doing things that had never occurred to them, or me---the kind of experiences that would leave us changed, from which recovery is not possible, or necessary. All that happened, and of course, not as I'd planned.

We rented a cabin on the beach for a final lazy week in budget luxury ($40/night), and that's where my sister spotted him. All three of us in agreement, despite generational variations in taste, dubbed him "Hot Brown", and took note of his daily activities: diving into waves and resurfacing, tanned and glistening, and walking past our rented beach chairs in his wet trunks with milkshakes. I was content in objectifying him. It's nice to turn the tables.

My sister, however, who'd clearly been in the sun too long, was consumed by the idea that I meet him, convinced that he might be "The One" for me. She actually said that. She'd met him at the dairy bar, and now she wanted to be related to him. I moved her into the shade. I was determined to enjoy my final days on the beach without dealing myself anything more complicated than a crappy hand for Crazy Eights.

Obsessed, my sister eventually (with only 48-hours of our trip remaining) lured him to where I was napping on the beach, so I couldn't get away. I awoke to his nearly perfect English and the wet torso I'd been ogling. Had he not been so beautiful, so charming, so dryly funny and well-travelled, I'd have been really, really pissed.

Antonio is a hot, tanned teetotaling (nearly-forty-but-swings-twenty-six) private Spanish instructor (who has lived and taught internationally, from Spain to New York), and long-divorced-father-of-three (who maintains a healthy relationship with his ex-wife and spends lots of time with his kids), and thereby got the ultimate green light from my sister, who spent the day nudging me in his direction. Still, I resisted.

He joined us for lunch, swimming, sunning, cards, dice, pranks, sunset and dinner, and left long after the restaurant closed, just long enough to wear me down. When he ran out of excuses to stay with us, I panicked. He noticed, and I noticed him noticing, and he noticed me notice that, too. You know how that moment goes. Slice.

So, to make a short story significant, he'll either be here in a few weeks (because he says he wants to travel), or I'll be there by September (because I say I want to improve my Spanish). Unless, of course, it ends as suddenly as it began.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Speak easy, speak freely

Dear Friend/Reader/Nemesis/Stranger (and the person who found my blog by Googling the phrase: "How to make a woman [you-know-what] all over the place":

I've waited out the wrath of wordy ex-boyfriends (and it only took two years!), and I'm celebrating by re-enabling my comment function. I'd love to hear from you. Really, really.

Note: If you've dated me, are related to me, or just want to hate me, and you think/know I've written about you, and you're totally savagely, want-to-rip-my-face-off pissed about it, please email me to confirm I was actually talking about you (savagekatie[at] Then we'll talk.

Love Kate

Friday, May 02, 2008

My banker boyfriend-hopeful

The bank was on high alert when I arrived to cash my paycheque yesterday; they were waiting for me. The phone rang at the front desk as soon as I arrived, and the receptionist, a slightly manic male newbie, surveyed the line-up and honed in as I took my place. He nodded, said something into the receiver, and stood. Something was happening.

I began rifling through my purse for nothing, prepared to ignore him and whatever it was he wanted that didn't have to do with me cashing a cheque. Timed as predictably as a doomed one-season sitcom, he approached me, nervously. "Excuse me, Miss," he interupted in falsetto. "Are you So-and-So?" Unfortunately, I was.

His cheeks flushed. This wasn't a professional call. "Georgio says hello." He fidgeted. He was talking about the bank manager. The guy who's been wanting to impregnate me for years now. The guy with access to all my account information and can make important decisions affecting my finances. The guy who clearly has a window office, who called on reception to stall me and make sure I wouldn't leave before he had a chance to catch the elevator down to my level.

"He, uh, wanted to know what you're doing these days, if you live around here" said the newbie, knowing the line he'd crossed was a fault line, quickly becoming a chasm with no easy route back to his post at the front desk. I gave him nothing to go on, no encouragement, no help.

He became increasingly uncomfortable as I was herded closer to the tellers, stepping further from where he stood on the other side of the velveteen rope. "Well, uh, do you come here often?" Hearing himself say it, even he cringed, and his stubbly baby-face turned blotchy. He sounded like a yes-man, a gopher-newbie, totally inappropriate and unprofessional. "Yes, it's my branch," I said. I was at the front of the line now.

Three, two, one.
Enter Georgio.

He sauntered through. Six feet of wool pin-stripe, cuff links and cologne, blank envelope in hand, acting casual. Very, very casual. He walked in the general direction of the head teller, waited until he was directly beside me, pivoted on one heel and stopped with a click. "Oh, helllllllllllo," he drew from his raspy throat, feigning surprise. "How nice to see you." The receptionist vanished, relieved of his duties.

"When I first met you, you had a boyfriend, right?" He went straight for the kill. "Is he still around?" I wasn't prepared for a direct attack and foolishly answered honestly. "No."

"Well, I have to get back to a meeting upstairs," he said, "but next time you come in, call me first and we'll go to Starbucks for a coffee and catch up. Take my card." He followed up with a series of questions, the kind any stranger might ask. I said something about having a boyfriend in Latin America (a white lie/major exaggeration), but he couldn't hear me through the filter of his fantasy.

Done with his nervous monologue and crucial fact-finding mission (regarding my marital status), he retreated directly to the elevator, never delivering the blank envelope, and forgetting to pretend he wasn't there just for me. Shit.

At the front of the line, it was my turn to make a transaction. I approached the smirking teller. She verified, stamped and cashed my cheque, and then asked, "Is there anything else I can help you with?" I considered it, very seriously. Someday soon, there will be.

synchro, originally uploaded by superlocal.