February can't end too soon in my book as the cold, gray skies wear me out. Weekends, however, always end too fast.
From college to the present, I admit the Sunday night blues just thinking about Monday starting. The idea of a fun alternative to getting out the planner then is very welcome, and Cafe Cin Cin obliges with the Soul Food Sunday.
Granted, many choose to snuggle in on a winter Sunday, but to break the routine and the dread my friend, Kyle and I decide to head down to Sixth Street to try the home cooking. Much to our surprise, we aren't alone. Cafe Cin Cin is hopping and festive. On a Sunday.
We feel lucky to be seated by the pool table since we didn't have a reservation. Who knew we'd need one? This is Cincinnati. Downtown. Who said no one is going downtown?
My spirits are lifted almost immediately just from seeing groups of people laughing and eating, seemingly oblivious that the work week is about to kick off. As we begin to take it all in, the disc jockette gets some of my favorites spinning. Brian McNight can lull me out of a bad mood any day of the week, and Tyrese can just have me. Throw in Maxwell, Keith Sweat, Gerald Levert and Luther to boot, and we can just say we've had our cocktail.
The aromas coming from the kitchen make us realize we're hungry! The menu downplays that there's anything special about the offerings, but how many places can casually put fried chicken, walleye, green beans, mashed potatoes and collard greens on the special page?
It all sounds like comfort food, and we decide to go all out: fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. Bring it on. I'll run it off at the gym or, if the forecast is correct, I'll shiver if off.
Kyle and I bring each other up to speed on our dating highs and lows. We plot our strategy for March and long openly for spring to arrive in the form of new faces. Our conversation is dull, though, compared to the table next to us. Entertaining us is a group playing pool and another chatting it up nearby at an eight top. The pool players are dressed to the nines and darn good with their cues and balls. The big table seems to be engorged in conversation about a recent event and also dressed up.
Kyle and I wish we'd known this is a place where leather is commonplace. Animal print? Perfect. Heels? If you have legs, girlie, show 'em here.
If there's ever a thing I can't stand, it's missing an opportunity to dress. Make a note in the planner: "Cafe Cin Cin -- dress." You'll feel more at home and get the dust off the hangers at home.
I venture off to the ladies room only to find a line forming. It appears to be a one banger, so I get a closer look at the music area. Lots of choices and you can make requests. Could you send R. Kelly over to our table with dessert? Guess not. Anyway, we wait and wait. No one comes out of this ladies room. My newfound best friend in line and I check the knob and tap lightly. The music prevents knowing if there's a response, but we're patient.
Finally a woman comes over and tells us that she waited just like we did and opened the door for us. We all laugh.
Are we silly or did we just wait 10 minutes for nothing? Hey, we covered shoes, purses, food and next up was world problems. Who minded waiting, anyway?
My dinner was waiting at the table piping hot. My taste buds were as happy as the rest of me. Kyle seemed to be elbow deep in the walleye with a smile. I really wanted to try the cobbler, but no room. Guess I'll have to return another Sunday.
This is a good night. The people are having fun around us. The atmosphere is warm and friendly. Yeah, the soul food is good, but it isn't the only reason I'm glad we came here.
It makes my soul feel good to do something different, to be downtown, listen to good tunes and be with a good buddy. Who cares if it's Sunday night? I'm ready for Monday. Bring it on.
After a crazy week at and outside of work, I was looking forward to decompressing on Saturday evening. I spent the day helping a friend move, then headed to my friend Barb's house for some snacks and, more importantly, drinks with some other friends from work.
We went to a movie at the AMC Newport on the Levee, followed by a feast at Dewey's Pizza (which always prompts the question of what the hell ever happened to the Cheesecake Factory we were supposed to get last fall?). But I digress.
It was great to spend time with my work friends and meet their respective other halves, even though Bill had to work so I was by myself. More preoccupying while watching these couples, however, were the details of my friend whom I helped move Saturday. I was helping her move to a new apartment because she's leaving her husband.
I had never been called upon for such a task, but Jen is one of my closest friends, so I felt it was my duty to support her no matter what her decision. One of the hardest parts of helping her move was adjusting to the idea of her leaving at all. She and her husband were the couple I always thought were made for each other. It's a challenge to one's faith in, quite frankly, the endurance of any relationship, no matter how good. I'm just relieved that I'm not in her shoes, because I can't imagine how hard it must be.
Jen and I can't get through a conversation without stumbling upon some crazy memory of our college days. We often miss those days because they were so much simpler. Our actions had fewer consequences. What we don't miss is having no money and huge credit card balances from eating pizza continuously.
By the time we got everything moved to her new place, I was feeling better. I could see she was also relieved at having overcome the first big hurdle in starting over. She was very grateful, and I felt good about being able to help her with such an overwhelming emotional task.
Flash back to Dewey's that evening, where I sat staring at a 13-inch pepperoni, bacon and sausage pizza (aka Coronary on a Fresh Baked Crust). Talking with Barb and her husband about their kids and listening to Tina and her boyfriend discuss their new apartment was a good reality check for me. It can be very easy to let events in someone else's relationship make you wonder about the durability of relationships in general.
In truth, however, relationships -- like most things in life -- are what you make of them. The only person who can decide what's right for you is you.
And what was right for me on Saturday was a couple of Stoli screwdrivers, some good company, comfort food and the knowledge that, no matter what, everything's going to work out all right.
For Valentine's Day, my manfriend and I decided to have dinner. Although he's not my boyfriend, he is the closest thing to it that I have at the moment. He invited me out, as he put it, to celebrate our one-year anniversary since he started hitting on me.
When we got to Uno's in Clifton, the place was wall-to-wall lovebirds who had the same idea. We decided to get our pizza to go, which I preferred over staring at the multitude of couples and pondering my loveless state.
Later that evening, I was invited to a party in Loveland -- go figure -- for a TV watching event. A group of single girls from work gathered to watch the Vagina Monologues on HBO and celebrate womanhood. I left full of pride in my southern regions, even though they remain, as of late, unexplored territory. On the way home, I passed several shops on the "bridal mile" and wondered whether I would ever become a patron.
Friday night, I caught up on my lack of alcohol intake at another friend's party. A party is always a nice time to catch up with old friends and meet new and interesting people. I met one such person, who was a lab assistant and sometimes mortician. This would normally be unusual, but I've chanced to meet three morticians in the past few weeks.
Much thinking about this line of work has made it seem a desirable profession. You'd never be able to complain about how annoying the people you work with are. Cold Hands (the mortician) expressed his sense of humor when he gave the host and hostess a body bag as a housewarming gift.
Cold Hands seemed to arrive at my side whenever my male friends dispersed, but it wasn't long before another arrived, so we never got the chance to talk. When I was preparing to leave, he offered to walk me to the door. Considering the door of this two-bedroom apartment was less than a couple yards away at all points, my curiosity was raised. I got the hostess aside to get the lowdown on him.
"What's up with Cold Hands?" I asked.
"Well, he's very nice, he works with dead people and he has a girlfriend," she said.
I didn't know whether he was a bad boyfriend or just had a warm heart. So I snuck out alone and escaped home.
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