Now that Bill will be staying in town, things are getting back to normal. Along with the warm weather this week came invite after invite from friends who, like us, have emerged from winter hibernations.
Tuesday we finally got hold of Greg and Carlos, whom I'd called weeks ago. I was convinced they had dematerialized. Turns out they'd recently moved to a new apartment, so they had been busy taking care of the joyful tasks that accompany schlepping all of your belongings to a new dwelling.
They invited us for drinks at the Pub at Rookwood Mews, and we were strongly in favor of trying a new place. The Pub is quaint with lots of dark wood, definitely done in pub style. It had attracted quite the crowd, too. Not only did a bunch of Greg's friends eventually show up to join us, but by the time Bill and I left, the place was pretty well packed, a surprise for a Tuesday night.
We had a fabulous time catching up over some drinks and a shared plate of curry fries, which are basically steak fries with a curry sauce on the side. The only downside was that our waiter, while young, brunette and cute, had apparently just completed "upsell" training that day, as it became his unrelenting mission to get us to buy more food and drinks than we wanted.
Don't get me wrong. To a degree, this is fine, but when you order a plate of food and the waiter responds "just one?", about the only reason you want to drink at that point is to wash out the bad taste in your mouth. Helpful server good; pushy server not good.
But as a group of gay men who have endured the trials and tribulations of dating, we're accustomed to dealing with pretty boys whose allure is ruined when they open their mouths to speak. Thus, our good time wasn't marred.
And, because when it rains, it pours, our friend Dave also called on Tuesday to invite us to dinner -- fortunately for Wednesday. We met him and his former roommate Maureen and their beaus at Amol India. Even though I don't like to lose touch with friends, one benefit is that when you haven't seen someone for a while the stories are always amazing. The things that happen in people's lives -- jobs, apartments, houses, people, families, you name it -- can make you feel like you're not the only one whose life is constantly in flux. I tell you, it's good medicine.
Plus the Chicken Vindaloo is so hot it'll clear your sinuses. Forget Claritin -- if some good, spicy Indian food won't relieve your allergies, honey, nothing else will.
But the burning question among my guy friends, which became the subject of many dinner conversations and phone calls this week, is "When does the Mount Adams pool open?" (In case you aren't privy to one of the city's best-kept secrets, there's a pool on top of a little hill in Mount Adams, right below the Playhouse in the Park. It's a city pool, so you pay a ridiculously low $3 for a season pass.)
It's become tradition for a gaggle of us to go there on a blazing sunny Saturday afternoon in summer. The Mount Adams pool attracts an interesting mix of people and usually some good eye candy, too. After we've had enough baking in the sun, a trip to Aglamesis to cool down with sinfully good ice cream caps off the experience (and for me, locks me into going to the gym every day the next week to work off the ice cream).
But the pools don't open until after Cincinnati Public Schools close, which I have confirmed is May 31
I never thought I would be so happy for kids to get out of school for the summer!
Hitting the Wall
I guess the proverbial term "hitting the wall" is a sports reference, though I've never run far enough to hit the wall or to find those endorphins of which the true runners brag. I do know a few hundred marathoners will hit the wall on May 5 in the Flying Pig and I will sympathize, because I ran into a wall abruptly in the dating world recently.
It takes a few minutes to understand what that "da" feeling is when your dinner date is slamming head first into nowhere or "I'll never see him again" territory. "Surely it isn't happening again" is how I reacted this time, followed closely by, "Why didn't I hear the train coming, since I seemed to be standing on the tracks?" It takes days and weeks before you admit to your mother and your friends that another man has bitten the dust. Road kill again.
Hell, here's the whole story.
Let's call him Canada, though that's not a reflection on the country that shares our northern border. I still like Toronto (very clean), Vancouver (very cosmopolitan) and Montreal (can you say Grand Prix?). I would jump at the chance to visit Quebec City, except that Mr. Canada did the asking. He asked right after I hit the wall.
Mr. Canada had fed me lunch on two occasions and dinner on two weekday evenings. We hadn't escalated to a weekend night due to busy schedules, and the jury in my mind was still out. I had only let him past "go" to the "yeah, I'll see him again" stage. I had previously met him at the restaurants for our dates and had intelligent conversation. Simple. Easy. No pressure. Well, he did drop the hint he'd like to be "closer," but I reserved judgment. We will see in time.
Well, the time had come to visit a legendary steak place of my childhood, since his son is in the restaurant business in New York and Mr. Canada had said that Cincinnati has limited great steakhouses. I chirped up and mentioned the Pine Club in Dayton. Mr. Canada said, "Let's go."
This meant he would pick me up at my house since it was north of the city and he lives to the south. He joked that he would pack a knapsack and stop for rations at the I-275 and I-75 interchange. Hey, a lot of Canadians will be there!
He arrived with a CD of a rare piano concerto we'd discussed over the last meeting. I thanked him, then showed him where the vodka is kept and finished my quickie lipstick application. We headed north with light conversation. Light conversation is all I ever have had with this guy, but who wants to discuss Middle Eastern politics with someone you've only just allowed to know your home address?
The Pine Club enveloped us in its darkness that resembles an English pub, and we were shown the bar, where they still serve Coke in a small glass bottle and pour a really stiff drink for $4.50.
Our wait passed quickly with the excitement of Mr. Canada saving an older lady when she slipped and fell on her way back from the ladies room. What a nice guy to jump up and play Superman to a virtual stranger!
Food at the Pine Club and the wait staff is the same as I remember it when my father first took me there as a child. A comforting sort of familiarity rings true in a steakhouse that doesn't brag but has been in business since 1947. They don't accept credit cards, and I had remembered to tell that to Mr. Canada when we'd discussed this culinary field trip.
He complimented my recommendation and noted that the steaks were in the Pittsburgh style, which was news to me. I liked his choice of cabernet. The evening was a success until that ugly thing jumped out and bit me -- the tip. He'd rolled off two $100 bills for a $127 bill. The waitress who's been there as long as the photo of President Bush (not George W., but his father) was efficient and non-obtrusive and brought his change. He riffled through it and left money on the tray before he excused himself to go to the men's room.
I don't know exactly what caused me to check, but I looked and he had a $5 under the $10 with a couple of coins. I had never noticed his tipping habits before and normally don't check, but tonight a little bird in my ear said the comments to the waitress about the cost of the wine plus the mention that the owner was getting the bill weren't lost on me.
He returned to the table, checked his tip again and said, "Yeah, that's enough. Let's go."
Well, that's enough if the check was $80 and you were short on cash. Mr. Canada brokers steel all over the world, travels across the Atlantic to go to a party and likes to dine in wonderful restaurants in every city I know. He flunks generosity. Doesn't pass on social graces. Hell, he's cheap.
I hate to jump to conclusions, but a spade is a spade. Some of my friends wouldn't say it if they had a mouth full of it, but not this girl. I call it as I see it, and he saw it and didn't fix it. Plus, to put the nail in the coffin just in case you think I overreacted on the tip issue, he came clean in the car (a Bentley mind you) that the mother of his youngest child was 19 when he started dating her. His son is 3 1/2 and the mother is 25 now. Legal, but barely.
My chin hit my navel. I blame myself for not clarifying this sooner, because he'd mentioned that she was young. With class, though, he continued that it wasn't her fault but his. I figured young for him was thirtysomething, since he was born right around the time the Pine Club was a glimmer in the original owner's eyes. Silly me.
It didn't overly bother me that his son was unplanned, because he's clearly a devoted father who shares custody. I did have a problem with the facts as they revealed themselves as we drove south. He lived with this woman for three and a half years and admitted that her friends "hung out" at his place smoking pot and having fun. All fine and good if you're also college age and not a potential member of AARP.
Of course, his relationship broke down when the baby came along. Spare me the details. He could clearly see that I was having trouble digesting this information and the look on my face was as if my airbag had gone off.
"Are you going to get over this?" Mr. Canada asked gently.
No. By the way, not only do I not need to know how a 19-year-old held your attention for the better part of five years, but I won't join you in Quebec for the formal event at the end of May. Plus, I slipped the waitress another $10, buddy.
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