Pass the Bachelor to Your Left
Sometimes I must admit that you in Whirlygigland get more or less a stream of consciousness or a Wendy spin on single life -- or should I just say life? Other times it's more of a "where," "when" and "who" with an occasional "what" thrown in for good measure. This week, however, I took one for the team and went undercover to a "single's event."
Now if I can be honest, I'd rather have stayed home on Saturday night, as I was more or less a little tired from Friday's escapades with Jill and Sandy. The girls had hit the town starting at Boca and ending at Beluga. We laughed so hard my stomach muscles were sore Saturday morning, and I wasn't particularly happy when the pupster, Maggie, had me up early (5:23 a.m., to be exact). Maggie doesn't know the meaning of weekends or, in some cases, "Bad dog!"
A commitment is a commitment, though, and so I showered, powdered and ventured to the Vernon Manor for the CandleLight Singles dinner at 7:30. Judy greeted me warmly and handed me off to Debbie, her assistant, for introductions after I was adorned with a nametag.
Now Debbie took her job introducing seriously and did a great job of walking and talking me through I'd guess 30 people, who were also wearing nametags with a first name and last initial. There were a couple of Loris and a few Marks whom I figured would help if there were indeed a test or prize later. The truth is I suck at names and am a closet introvert, so this part of the evening wasn't my favorite, but with Debbie's help I survived it and made it to the bar.
Not knowing much about this gig other than signing up at www.candlelightsingles.com, I started asking questions of my fellow diners. There were a few other virgins like myself in the room but also a lot of veterans in the crowd who admitted that they've dined like this with CandleLight Singles before. It seems the group cycles through the participants based on interest level and availability to put together like-minded singles who want to meet new faces.
Tonight's event was at the Vernon Manor but sometimes John told me it's at The Whitehouse or, in one case, a riverboat cruise. John was the most experienced guy in the crowd, having attended five separate dinners. He was amicable and an easy dinner companion, though he did question why I was at this event if I had dinner dates who took me to some of the restaurants that Lee and I were discussing.
It was difficult to explain to John or my fellow eight dinner companions that Wendy likes to get the whirl on things without just admitting I was checking it out. As you know if you read Whirlygig, I will try anything once -- and if you do it right, once is enough in most cases. Plus, it's always good to network and shop for a few new girlfriends.
The truth is I immediately liked Suzanne, who I met during the cocktail hour. She's a relative newcomer to the city with Procter & Gamble, and we had lots to talk about as far as meeting people and places for her to try. Lee was at my table for dinner and was a fellow restaurant enthusiast who I'd enjoy dining with again. Mary Lu chimed in with her experience at the newly unveiled Bamboo Club at Newport on the Levee and, again, I thought she'd be a blast to hang out with for cocktails or whatever.
Finding new girlfriends is tough post-college, and here I found a mecca of great girls -- though I suppose most come to a singles event to find potential dates of the opposite sex. But hey, why not keep an open mind and find both? Perhaps I digress and must get back to the real question of did I meet a man.
I was seated all night next to a man, but it was often a different man. The men move after each course and so there's variety served and mingling enhanced. There must have ended up to be five tables of eight or nine each, which was a pretty good mix of ages and looks. I already said the women were fascinating, and the men were interesting as well. I liked the jovial atmosphere of figure 8 balls and dice plus the ever-practical pen and post-its that the tables included. Judy and Debbie also broke the ice with tickets and prizes along with a split-the-pot for charity as the evening progressed.
The women were given an opportunity to move and, of course, in typical Wendy style, I slid next to the cutest guy in attendance. Cute really is a matter of opinion and he appealed to me, though I did knock over a blonde in my way. I'm kidding, but if she were in the way, I would have made the Bengals proud. He was hip and funny though maybe a couple of years younger, but my last name is Robinson.
It was tempting to go in for the kill but, truth be told, I must be slipping or just too tired to pursue, so instead I fell into the trap of entertaining the entire table with antics and stories. When conversation lags, as it sometimes does among mere strangers, those sales types can't be trusted, and a few of us rose to the calling to make it fun and light. I suppose the more important task of making connections and/or exchanging numbers is key, but Judy said she could help with that later if need be.
Judy called for a final guy rotation, and I talked with two more nice guys before I realized it was almost 11 and pumpkin time. With a chill in the air, my down comforter was calling, so I hung up my party shoes and bid my goodbyes. How charming can one girl continue to be? My bachelor could ask Judy by e-mail or phone later if he was really interested after all.
Hits and Near Misses in Covington
Saturday night found my girlfriend, her new man and I at the Madison Theatre in Covington. The old place has been refurbished and revived and is now a great place to see local music.
When we arrived, a few people were milling about and the bands hadn't begun playing, so we took our seats at the one of the two bars. Before I could open my mouth and say "I'd like a Heineken," one was set before me. I looked over to thank my friend's boyfriend, but he was gone to the men's room.
While he was gone, I congratulated my friend on her mate. He seemed intelligent and cute and, apparently, gentlemanly. After a while, people were clapping and we turned to find Culture Queer pounding out their tunes. It's always inspiring to see a female drummer. We decided to move to a table to see better and, amazingly enough, we could. The Madison, unlike Bogart's, is laid out so you can actually find a nice little table and still see the band from wherever you are.
I recognized my friend Paul, of the local band Underwoods, who'd played there last week. My girlfriend went over to say hello, leaving her boyfriend and I alone. Paul came over to chat, but it was more like yelling. We caught up, as I hadn't seen him since my birthday when the band played "Happy Birthday" to me and it was their drummer's last night in the band. Since then, they've acquired a new drummer who's working out well.
While we were talking, or yelling rather, my friend's date disappeared. I was the first to notice. Hasn't he been gone a long time, I asked her. We scanned the place, only to locate him one level below, sitting at a table with his back to us. My friend went to retrieve him and a semi-animated talk ensued. I decided it was time to visit to the ladies room.
When I returned, I nudged my friend to find out what was wrong. Apparently, her man thought she was neglecting him and flirting. I looked incredulously at her. How could he possibly think that? Then I remembered times she and I had gone out together and I would find myself alone and feeling abandoned. I had been in his shoes, only mine had higher heels. And that means that, no matter what, you're never alone for long.
Once Culture Queer's set was over, a buddy of my friend's man's stopped over and squeezed in beside me at the table. I thought we'd have nothing in common, and I started hoping the loud between-set music would drown any hopes for conversation. The music being piped in was some bizarre crap that reminded me of the scene from Twin Peaks when Laura's mother has a nightmare and, well, let's just say after a few minutes I was out the door and searching the street for solace.
I ran into a woman on her way to Midnight Bingo, who gave me the lowdown on Covington and its metamorphosis. We walked briskly down the street together and gabbed until we reached a fork in the road and I wished her luck. Then I realized such a conversation with a total stranger might not have occurred in Cincinnati.
When I returned to the venue and my table, the buddy and I struck up a conversation. I was surprised to discover we'd both written for the same college weekly. We shared "worst interview" war stories and got on rather well. When my girlfriend suggested we leave and told me for the second time I looked tired, it seemed time to go. I figured the two had some things to work out, so I began to gather my things. Unfortunately, we'd miss the band we'd specifically come to see -- Ruby Villeos. Another time, another time.
But the night wasn't over yet.
"I know I might be overstepping my boundaries," said the buddy (uh oh), "but would you like to go out some time?," he asked
Ah, man. I felt like I'd just stepped in something or spilled beer on myself. I had that sinking feeling. Not because he was unattractive -- he wasn't. Not because he was unintelligent -- he was pretty sharp. But somewhere in Cincinnati there's a girl looking for a great guy like him, someone who hadn't just moved in with her boyfriend. And that someone wasn't me.
A Little Short at Dinner
Last Friday, my friend Cathy called me at work to invite me to happy hour at Cock and Bull in Covington with a couple of her friends. When we arrived, her married friends Stan and Heather and the husband's brother Robert were already at the bar. I was a little distracted during the introductions, since it was my first time at the Cock and Bull. I was expecting a more pub-like atmosphere, but it felt like just about any other American neighborhood bar except for the English and Irish flags hanging from the walls.
I ordered Kathy and myself a couple of pints of Harp. Since Heather was seven months pregnant, she ordered a non-alcoholic beer. I told Heather about the time I ordered what I thought was a new beer from Guinness called Kaliber, only to find out later I spent $2.50 on a non-alcoholic beer.
After a few minutes wait, Cathy decided it would be a good time to grab a table. When I turned around I noticed that she was putting together four tables. I asked her why, and she told me that she had called about 15 people. So much for a quiet little happy hour.
In about 15 minutes there were more than 10 friends of Cathy's who I'd never met before but who all knew each other. There's nothing like being the only person in a crowd of people who doesn't really know anyone else. Luckily, the waitress brought out the menus, so I had something to read while everyone else was catching up. I was impressed with the beer selection and the choice of English entrées.
Most of the people at our table ordered the Fish & Chips. I was the rebel of the group and ordered Bangers & Mash. The sausage in the was very good. The spices were the type that sneak up on you but never set your mouth on fire. The only problem I had with the entrée was the lack of potatoes.
During the wait for dinner and during dinner itself, I took a couple of walking tours of the neighborhood. In other words, I had to smoke and everyone else at the table were non-smokers. I've never spent much time in the Mainstrasse Village area before. Two things surprised me during my walks -- the number of refurbished houses that looked like they could have easily been in Mount Lookout but were right next to abandoned buildings, and the insane number of bars in a two-block radius. I can only imagine what that place is like at midnight on a Friday or Saturday night.
After dinner we sat around chatting and drinking for about an hour. During that time, small groups of our party were saying goodbye and leaving what they thought was the amount they owed for dinner and drinks. After a while, it was just Cathy and me, a pile of cash and a check for $180. We added in what we thought was our share but found out we were over $30 short. I haven't had anyone short me on a dinner check since I was in college. Needless to say, I won't be hanging out with those folks again for happy hour.