Articles for the Month of July 2013

Tea Dueling

Prepare to dunk

Now for something completely different. On Saturday, I spent the better part of the afternoon at a tea dueling competition.

One of my friends runs a company called Dryad Tea. If you’re a tea fan, I highly recommend checking it out. Anyway, she was hosting the tea dueling event, and as she’s a friend I signed up to help support her in her efforts. There are a certain segment of my friends (IFGS I mean you!) that I think would find this type of thing highly entertaining. For a description of tea dueling check out this blog.

At any rate, contestants are served a cup of tea, along with a selection of shortbreads. The contestants face off and are given the order to dunk their shortbread for a count of 5. They then remove the shortbread from the tea, and see who can last the longest before eating their cookie without it crumbling and falling on the table, or heaven forbid, in their tea.

I did not win the competition, but I did get points for having the longest, most memorable round. We had to call it a draw at 15 minutes. There were a surprising number of gentleman that participated in the event as well. In fact, one of them even won!

After the competition, I went on a lovely date with one of the organizers, and saw RED 2.  The gentleman in question is a wonderful fellow that I can recommend to most of my single friends. I suspect he is interested a relationship, and I am not, which means I have to tread carefully there, as he is also a friend.

King of Swing

20130726-094258.jpg Last night’s date had such potential. It’s not very often that you run into a guy that, on a first date, offers to take you dancing. I love dancing, and I don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like, so I was thrilled! Sadly, it did not go as well as I’d hoped.

We decided to meet up at the Mercury Café in Denver. They host dance nights at least twice a week. I’ve been there once or twice for them, and they tend to be fun. They also have dance lessons for beginners starting at 6pm, and I definitely needed a refresher. It’s been a long time since I’ve done Lindy.

I left Boulder around 4:00, thinking that with traffic it would take me until at least 5:30 to get there. I was wrong! I actually arrived 20 minutes early. Normally I’m fine with that, but upon arrival I discovered that the Mercury actually doesn’t open until 5:30, I desperately needed a bathroom, and that every building for at least a block in all directions was boarded up and abandoned. It’s decidedly not the nicest of neighborhoods. I walked for a couple of blocks until I found a Firestone and popped in to use their facilities.

As I was freshening up, I received a text message saying he was going to be late. Kudos for letting me know, but points lost for being late to a first date. When he did finally arrive, it’s a good thing he recognized me. He looked almost nothing like his photos. My question is, did he used to dye his hair dark, or is he now dying his hair blond.

We missed the beginner’s lesson, but did get an appetizer downstairs instead. I suspect that because he was late, I was even more annoyed that he didn’t offer to pay. Given that it was just appetizers it wasn’t expensive. Well, we went upstairs just in time to see the last of the beginner’s lesson, and watch the beginning of the intermediate lesson. After 10 minutes of watching, I think both of us were convinced that we should not have missed the earlier class.

We decided to try and find some actual dinner and then come back for the dance later. He knew of a sushi place several blocks away, so we headed for that. (This was turning into a much more expensive date than I had anticipated, given that he wanted to go Dutch on everything. Guys – if you’re going to suggest expensive places to eat, you should be prepared to foot the bill.)

After walking several blocks through abandoned boarded up buildings and construction areas we arrived at a place called iFish sushi bar. They did have pretty good sushi, though my favorite is still Sakura in Longmont. We had a pleasant dinner; since we both work in the music industry I have to admit, we traded horror stories and talked a lot of shop. Trading horror stories is almost always entertaining, but doesn’t leave much room for flirting or other subject matter.

We did eventually make it back to Mercury Café, and they were indeed having a dance. The thing about swing is that it’s almost as fun to watch the other dancers as it is to actually dance yourself. While he was finding his dancing shoes I had a good time watching, and had 3 other guys come up and ask me to dance. (Always flattering) I thought it would be a better idea to wait for my date and dance with him. As it happens, neither of us Lindy particularly well, so we muddled along in a corner for a while, laughing and doing our best.

There was one other thing that happened a few times during the evening that just left a bad taste in my mouth. He was apparently a regular at the Mercury, so he knew several people there. Over the course of the evening, as he ran into people he knew, he would drop into conversations with them. Unfortunately he would do it in such a way as to physically exclude me nearly entirely.

A basic rule of thumb for polite dating: you don’t turn your back on your date, and you don’t flirt with other women when you’re on a first date.

On the whole, I was unimpressed with his social skills, and would rate the whole experience as a 4 out of 10. Hopefully I have better luck tonight!

House Hunting is the Pits

I started my house hunting in earnest last week. Almost immediately I was caught by someone running a rental scam. The repercussions of that have not yet been made manifest, but I’m keeping a close eye on my credit card. Needless to say, they did not call me back for a showing.

Friday I managed to set up an appointment with a guy renting out a ground level room with it’s own entrance out in Lyons. For those of you not from this area, Lyons is a charming town with several good restaurants and live music all the time. It’s in the foothills, but not really –in- the mountains. All told, I’ve heard it’s an excellent place to live. As it turns out, the house was ten miles on the other side of Lyons – this would make the commute in to work every day fairly significant. The mountain lion population is fairly high there, so it might not be the safest location for the pets, and I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t enjoy living with three professional skydivers, in a house that smelled very much like pot.

Saturday:
The second place I looked at was even more interesting. An older gentleman was looking for some help with yard work/light farm work around his place, and had a separate apartment on the property that was going for $400 + utilities. Now for this area, that is a REALLY good price. I thought I’d check it out – I have no objection to doing a bit of yard work in exchange for rent.

I was a little nervous about going out to see this place. When I called the guy to see if he wanted me to bring my dog to meet his pets, he seemed really unfriendly. I decided to show up anyway. I try not to break appointments. When I got there, he actually turned out to be a decent seeming person, with a heavy accent. I’m still not sure from where, somewhere in South America I would surmise. He had three German Shepherds, two were very friendly, and one with a serious attitude problem, and a new litter of puppies. The yard work consisted of watering a LOT of trees, and weeding all around them, all by hand. The apartment was crammed full of his old furniture, and his mother’s old furniture – none of which he was willing to remove. In a 700 sq ft apartment, there were 4 couches, and the master bedroom was piled to the top with chairs, mattresses etc. Oh, and there was no Internet; definitely not the place for me.

The third place I looked at was not actually a place. I was interviewing a potential roommate who had a place in mind. She had a garage sale going on Saturday, so I waited until the evening to get together with her. In the interim, coffee shop guy from the other day was free, so we bummed around town for a couple of hours. He very dangerously introduced me to a used bookstore that I had never been to before. This is not the time for me to be bringing more stuff home.

Anyway, back to the potential roommate. She seemed very nice, but more than a little bit disorganized. She had a lovely dog, very friendly and laid back. She also managed to talk for 3 hours, and we still didn’t get around to the topic of how much for rent, where is the place, and when do they want someone in it. Still, I was considering her as a definite possibility.

Sunday:
While I was at church I got 8 text messages from the potential roommate that I met with yesterday. (Thankfully I had my ringer turned off) They all came in out of order, so required some deciphering on my part – but basically she wanted me to drive by and look at the house, but not disturb the current occupants or piss off the landlord.

After church I had one last place to look at. There was a gal on craigslist that was advertising a place but only would allow a dog or a cat. We exchanged a few emails and agreed to meet; she was willing to consider both my dog and cat. The place looked great! It’s in a great location, and the owner doesn’t seem crazy! The only problem is that there is no yard. But since it backs on to open-space I think I’ll be able to manage. Aslan (my dog) gets to come meet her cat on Wednesday. I have high hopes for this place, but don’t want to jinx myself.

Thankfully after all the stresses of house hunting, I managed a fun Sunday afternoon. I went and saw Animal House at the theater with a cute guy, and then went and saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Colorado Shakespeare festival. Definitely a good way to end a weekend.

Serendipity

20130717-233807.jpg Serendipity
ser·en·dip·i·ty
/ˌserənˈdipitē/
Noun
The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: “a fortunate stroke of serendipity”.

This was not the original title of this entry. Originally it was “You gotta know when to fold em” So far – this hasn’t exactly been the most stellar week for dates. Tuesday’s guy had a particular, seedy feel to him to start off with (even chatting with him online). So I agreed to meet up with him for coffee, with the strong suspicion that he wasn’t going to show up regardless. Luckily the coffee shop we agreed on is on my way home from work, so it wasn’t a hassle one way or the other. I was correct in my surmise, the guy never showed, didn’t bother to send a message, and either deleted his account, or blocked me from seeing his profile. Classy.

It wasn’t a total loss though. While waiting for him to show up, I was chatted up by a guy sitting at the next table with his nephew. Ok, so the chatting up was mutual, and the conversation was delightful. The nephew appeared to be -greatly- amused. (He was college age, so I didn’t feel as bad taking over their family time) Eventually we all had to move on to our various appointments, and he kindly provided me with his card, and I provided him with my blog address so we could keep in touch. We texted briefly that evening, and I went to bed.

Wednesday rolls around, and I’ve got another essentially blind date. This one in Loveland. Well, this guy initially seemed interesting when we were talking online, a few common interests, but a little shy. We had arranged to get together last week some time, but he had to cancel the day of the date. I was pleased that he told me in advance, so we set up another time to meet. I mean, things do happen, there are legitimate reasons to cancel things. Well, I’ve messaged him once or twice since then to confirm today’s date, but never got a response, so I was starting to think he wasn’t going to show up. Against the advice of my co-workers, I drove to Loveland anyway (It’s at least an hour away) and sure enough, no-show, no-message.

While I’m waiting on this guy – and trying to decide what to write about him, I texted coffee shop guy from yesterday. I’m telling him about being stood up again, and he asks me out! For tonight! I believe what he said was something to the effect of “to apologize for men everywhere, let me take you out this evening. I promise I won’t stand you up.” Sure enough, when I arrived back in Longmont he was actually there, and we had a lovely dinner and chat.

Word to the wise, if they don’t give you a phone number; if they don’t confirm the day before, or the day of, they probably aren’t going to show up. It is, in my opinion, exceptionally rude behavior. A couple of my guy friends have had that happen to them more than once, and it’s no prettier from the other side. If you’re going to take the time to make a date, the least you can do is show up.

The MBA

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I worked for an MBA Program for a number of years, and I’ve always found MBA Students to be driven, energetic, goal oriented people with a definite end game in mind. That’s one reason they’re so successful. That’s also one reason they go back to school. So I figured, when this guy asked me out, that’s what I’d be in for.

Well, the first date was a bust anyway, he had to work late, and never showed up. He did at least txt me and let me know, but he only texted me after he was already running late. Well, MBA – works too hard for his own good – not actually all that surprising. So I figured I’d give it another go.

We did finally manage to get together for coffee. (Not actually coffee, since I don’t drink coffee) He was curious about the dating more than one person thing, which is not unusual, and he quizzed me about it at length. I quizzed him about why he wanted to get an MBA, and he said it sounded like a good idea at the time. That he had no plans for after he graduated. Now tell me – WHY would you spend $200,000 + on an education that you have no plans on using? Moreover, using an MBA to it’s greatest potential definitely requires ambition – if you don’t have any, then why bother with the piece of paper.

Anyway – that would have turned me off enough not to see him again, but then he kept talking. Apparently the reason he wanted to go out in the first place; he was bored with his girlfriend, and wanted to find a piece on the side. Guys, this is NOT ok. It’s not sexy, it’s not cool, it might be fun for a while, but people get hurt, and it’s wrong. If you don’t want to date someone anymore, then don’t. But don’t lie to them about it. Let me tell you, I ditched this guy so fast after this his head was spinning.

The first time’s always the hardest

20130712-141905.jpg I remember my very first online date like it was yesterday. Ok, I don’t actually remember it all THAT well, but the highlights were definitely enough to keep me from trying it again for a long time! This was back when I was living in Texas, and one of my friends introduced me to OkCupid. He liked the questions feature, and wanted to see how much of a match we were. We’d been friends for a long time, so I let him convince me to join.

This was also back in the day when I had time, and was more amenable to chatting online. I met this guy online and we chatted for a few days, and we seemed to have a few common interests. He also looked relatively cute, well muscled, and not too creepy in his photos. Photos sure can be deceiving!

I agreed to meet up at a coffee shop in town (Austin that is). I no longer remember which one – but I seem to recall that it had really good deserts. I was early – no surprise there – and I was nervous, having never done this kind of thing before. He was late – and I’m fairly sure his photos were photo-shopped. Instead of this lean, well muscled 20 something, I got a pimply, scrawny, in need of a shower and probably lives in his mother’s basement reprobate. But the entertainment doesn’t end there!

Have you ever talked to someone that has just recently gotten out of a cult? You get to hear all about the cult, and how great it was. Thankfully that was followed by how bad it was, and how happy he was to be out. I’m just glad he wasn’t trying to recruit me! The primary focus of this particular “cult” was also exciting! Apparently he had been in a sex cult for the past year – and so I got to spend 3 hours listening to how fantastic he was in bed, and how much endurance he had. This is –just- what you want to hear on a first date!

I did finally manage to extricate myself – it took some doing. Back in those days I wasn’t as confident about just telling people what was and wasn’t ok.

Four things I’ve learned from that, (and subsequent) experiences:
Don’t just rely on the pictures – go with your gut
If it feels creepy, it is. Leave.
If a guy mentions sex in the first five online messages – you probably don’t want to go out with him. (Unless of course you’re just looking for sex.)
If a guy can only talk about his junk, then he’s not interesting enough to warrant a second date.

Girls’ Night Out

20130711-083046.jpgLast night my co-worker and I decided to hit the local country dance hall. Now, this got a number of comments on Facebook, apparently several folks didn’t realize I do the country thing.

So for them – I have been visiting country dance halls since I was about 5 years old. Growing up in South Texas, that’s what everybody does…or did back in the day. It was a family affair. My mom would go to dance and I would have a great time chasing the other kids across the dance floor, or conversely, being chased, and trying not to get stepped on. I have vague memories of learning to dance, standing on top of some random cowboy’s boots as he shuffled around the hall teaching me the steps, and then trying it out with the boys and girls my own age. I have memories of falling asleep on benches with the base still going strong, and the sound of boots doing the two-step long into the night.

In Jr. High/High-school when I occasionally got to go to the dance halls with my friends, it was always the awkward teenage thing, where boys and girls are on opposite sides, and nobody really dances except the few couples that have already paired off. But you still got to watch the adults dance, and join in on the Cotton Eye Joe.

In college, and after, I never spent a lot of time in the dance halls – I was stuck with a guy that didn’t dance and didn’t like country music (no idea how that happened) but every once in a while I’d go out with girlfriends and we’d have a great time.

The nice thing about country dance halls; and maybe this happens elsewhere, I don’t know, is that there are always a number of old guys around that can REALLY dance. I’ve never been able to determine if they’re hired by the dance hall, or if they just show up, but they wander around and ask the un-partnered ladies to dance. If you’re just there to dance, or you want to improve your skills, these are the guys to find. They tend to be friendly, good at what they do, they’re less likely to grab your ass, and they’re usually happy to show you new dance steps.

Last night at the Grizzly Rose, they even had an actual lesson for about an hour before the band went on. We showed up for the lesson, and boy I’m glad we did. Apparently the traditional steps I learned growing up, all through college, are not what the “kids” are doing these days. Pretty much everything has been changed into country swing – which is fun – but wasn’t what I was expecting, and I definitely needed a refresher. I think I ended up learning at least 3 new dances – the country Cha Cha, the new improved two step, the three step (formerly known as polka) and I got a refresher on country swing. Even with all of the new dance moves, I’d say I still cut a pretty good rug.

I think my partner in crime probably did a better job getting hit on by the guys, but I’m pretty sure I danced with every dance teacher there, and I got several compliments about my ability to follow properly. I must be in better shape than I thought though; normally after a night of dancing I’m sore and tired and ready to go home. I’m pretty sure last night I could have gone for another few hours, and I’m certainly not feeling the aftereffects today.

About the only downside – every dance partner I had insisted on counting the steps out loud throughout the entire piece. Next time, just shut up and dance.

Déjà vu with tattoos

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Have you ever seen someone that you’re sure you’ve seen before, but can’t place where it was? It’s apt that I’m writing this from the same location that it happened.

I was sitting in Starbucks (you may hear that a lot from me) getting some work done on my laptop one afternoon, when a guy walks in looking really very nervous. Being me, I take more than just a passing glance at him. He’s good looking, well built, slightly shorter than me, and covered in pretty distinctive tattoos…and I’m sure I’ve seen him somewhere before.

He comes in and sits at a table near me, still looking really nervous, and obviously not reading the book he brought…and he keeps looking at me like he knows me too. Eventually we strike up a conversation; he’s waiting on a blind date to arrive – hence the nervous, and he exacts a promise that I will text him something urgent if it looks like his date isn’t going well ( I’m planning on being there for another hour at least anyway). So we exchange phone numbers. At this point I am seriously amused at this random stranger asking me to extract him from a date situation… And right before his date arrives we figure out where we’ve seen each other before.

Watching him and his date was really entertaining, though not a very flattering character reference for him. Every time she looked away he’d look over at me and roll his eyes, or make a pleading -get me out of here- face. I did txt him once, but he opted not to take the out, so I left him to his misery.

As it turns out we had seen each other before. We’d checked each other out on OkCupid a few times and for whatever reason didn’t connect. (He gave me more than a little grief over that when we were setting up a date) We did eventually set up a date for later the next week.

The date was fine…hard to go wrong with a coffee date at Starbucks, but we had seriously different goals, so didn’t opt to get together again. Except that every time I had a coffee date at that Starbucks, for months afterwards, we would run into each other. It was entertainingly awkward to introduce him to whoever I was with; although he was attractive, he was also intimidating with all of his tattoos! It never failed, if he was around, he always came over to say hi and chat. I haven’t seen him at this location in several months, so perhaps he’s moved on. Or maybe he’s just waiting to pop up again later!

The Policeman

3411156745_7d35b3cb11This was not my first online date, nor the craziest story I have, all told it just seems like a place to start, and an excellent illustration of why I prefer not to date men younger than myself. As with many of the men I’ve gone out with, I met him on OkCupid. I agreed to meet up with him because we had a, as he put it “crazy high match percentage”.

It took a while to arrange our first date, he lives in southern Colorado, and I live in northern Colorado, and even meeting in the middle it was a long drive. The distance in and of itself made things challenging, particularly since I don’t like chatting online, or excessive texting, I’d rather just get together and meet face to face. His pictures made him out to be relatively cute, if a bit on the skinny side.I planned our first date, and it went fairly well. We met up in Denver at Tattered Cover and then went out for sushi at Domo. He was full of interesting conversation about his work, a bit about a case he was working on, and various other topics. On the whole, I was feeling that this had some possibilities, and was worth the trouble it took to get together. That date ended well, with an agreement to get together again as soon as it could be arranged.

The second date was an unmitigated disaster. We met up in Colorado Springs, a town that neither of us was familiar with. He was in charge of planning this round, and we met up at a lovely little tea shop that I’ve since forgotten the name of. It started out ok…the tea shop was a good place to meet for lunch. We sat and chatted for about a half hour before we absolutely ran out of things to say to one another. Because it was such a long drive for both of us, we didn’t just give up there. Recommendation to readers: if it’s going badly, end it sooner rather than later

I asked what the plan was, and…there wasn’t one. Recommendation to guys: Have a plan, or at least a few ideas! We ended up wandering around a mostly dead mall in Colorado Springs for nearly two hours. Then, we ended up at a Starbucks, still with nothing to say to one another. We parted ways that evening, with a tentative agreement to try again, and an almost certain knowledge that we wouldn’t.

You would think it ended there. We did not set up another date, and I hadn’t really heard from him since, until about two weeks ago. He accidentally texted me a picture of his .. manly bits.. in full salute. Followed by three or four texts begging me not to open the attached picture and apologizing. Apparently he was trying to send the picture to someone else.  Having an IPhone of course, I didn’t have to open it; the picture just appeared in all of it’s glory. Isn’t technology wonderful. Needless to say, I will not be seeing him again.

The often crazy world of online dating

I’ve been dipping my toes into online dating for many years. No, I wasn’t cheating on my significant other, or looking for a replacement for him, it was a way to meet new people and keep life interesting, and was entirely above board on all sides. After some of the dates I’ve had recently, and the funny stories that have come out of them, I thought I would share. I’ll be changing the names of my dates or giving them well deserved nicknames to protect their privacy (and because there’s a very real chance that I don’t remember their actual name and don’t want to). Friends, if you guess their identity, please keep it to yourself.

Currently in life I’m dating for fun, and not looking for a significant other. (I probably won’t turn one down if he turns up though!)  I want to explore the single side of things for a change and only be responsible for myself. I don’t believe in paying to meet people, so I use OkCupid as my primary dating site. I’m also on MeetUp.com…which technically isn’t online dating, but still provides some good stories.

I’ll post fairly frequently until I get caught up to where I am with dating, and then you’ll get them as I do! I’ve got a few friends that are also recently single, and they may appear as guest bloggers now and again as well.