Crumbs and Bones
Everyone has moments where they feel they're undervalued or less than appreciated. Anyone who has responsibility for grocery shopping and household laundry service would agree that accolades don't come flowing from the benefactors or these chores. It's taken for granted that services will continue to be rendered, and usually that's the case.
Not so, though, in all areas of life. Take, for example, the world of dating or personal relations. Here's a unique situation where there's no contractual agreement to noncompete or no vow to stick around in sickness and in health. The truth is both parties can choose to stay or choose to move on.
I usually base that decision on whether there seems to be mutually satisfying benefits and the possibility of learning something. I suppose the same could be said for a job, a place of residence or owning a pet. If the job didn't pay well or lacked advancement potential, I'd get my résumé together and job hunt until I found a better opportunity. The house that no longer fits the family's needs is put up for sale, and house-hunting ensues. A pet is a little more difficult in that I'm still trying to figure out what I'm getting out of rising at daybreak to go outside in subarctic temperatures, but surely my dog Maggie is teaching me patience.
It's just harder to make a decision about a dating relationship when it's so dreadfully cold and body heat is at a premium. Plus, let's be honest: It's always tough to say "so long" when there are feelings and body fluids involved. Should he stay or should he go?
He is, at this point, a peripheral player in my life as he travels a good deal for business and isn't a great communicator. The occasional one-line e-mail is like throwing me a bone that even Maggie would shrug over. When he's in town, there are demands on him professionally -- but who has a corner on busy? Everyone I know is extremely busy.
The truth is I can hang with it if I feel I'm getting someone's best instead of someone's crumbs. By this I mean a quick phone call to touch base instead of the lame e-mail and the quiet dinner now and again where the truth reigns supreme instead of mixed messages. Obviously, this isn't the case, as this relationship is handing me lemons. I table a decision and decide to add vodka in true Scarlet fashion. I'll worry about it tomorrow.
Tonight I will have drinks with friends. It's Wednesday, and the week is half over. Drinks begin at Andiamo Ristorante in Oakley, where Richard and I have olives with our vodka. We talk about his life decisions, which are a diversion from mine, and resolve to find him new living quarters. We try the capriccio and find that it's about as fulfilling as my current love interest, so we head out to meet more friends at Bonefish Grill.
Just a short drive back to Hyde Park, but I feel better already when I walk into Bonefish and find it's mostly men standing around. It's been said that surrounding oneself with fresh faces is a surefire way to brighten January -- or did I make that up? Oh, well. The theory is working for me. As the bar fills to the brim, it appears everyone is looking for good cheer.
Karen appears along with Laura close behind in time for the guys to explain that hardly anyone ever catches a bonefish, much less eats one, but the fishing tales are entertaining. I throw out the fact that staying in a treehouse in Belize with or without actually bonefishing would be fun to me, and these would-be fisherman tell me that they prefer the comforts of a resort. Well, OK. When do we leave?
No passports? No problem. The conversation quickly moves to how to turn on a woman they spotted sitting at the end of the bar. Larry says she really gets excited if you take her to the Jeanie machine. He did so one night and withdrew $1,000, which we all agreed was better than the $200 the rest of us are limited to per visit. He grins and says, "I didn't tell her that I couldn't go back for three weeks."
The group heads around the corner to Beluga, where we quickly order sushi to go with the cocktails already consumed. The funny guys gather all the flower vases they can find to adorn our dining spot at the sushi bar, which begins to look like a flower shop. They even participate in the "best lips on a business card" contest the sushi chef has going on the wall.
It's been a long time since guys in lipstick made me smile, but smile I do as I lay my head down on a pillow at 11 o'clock. I'm grateful the room doesn't spin from the vodka consumption, but even if it does whirl, a little laughter makes for sweet dreams.
Saturday night, I made plans with my new gal pal Anne. We started the night at Buzz Coffee Shop in Corryville. We're in the same book club, and the plan was for us to catch up on the book we both needed to have read by Monday night.
Anne ordered a decaffeinated espresso. I told her, "What's the point in paying over $2 for a coffee drink without caffeine?" She said, "It does have a little caffeine. Plus I don't want to be hyper when I read."
I ordered a hot chocolate. It turned out to be one of the loudest drinks you can order there. They take a glass of milk, add a little chocolate syrup and place it under the pressurized steam gun. It sounded like a fighter jet getting ready to take off.
Anne has never smoked in her life and I was on day 18 of not smoking, so we made our way to the non-smoking section of Buzz. There were more people smoking in the non-smoking section than there were in the smoking section. In fact, every table in the "non-smoking" section had an ashtray on it. We actually ended up sitting in the smoking section.
We sat down and opened our books. I kept reading the same line over and over again. I just couldn't focus on my book while I was sitting right next to a very smart, funny and hyper-attractive woman. After a minute or two of silence, we both just looked up at each other and closed our books and talked.
I always love asking Anne what she does on the weekend, because she's always volunteering for a good cause or taking an incredibly interesting class on self-improvement. The first time she agreed to go out with me, she actually had to postpone because she forgot that she had to bake bread for a homeless shelter that night.
This Saturday was no different. While I was lying around at home watching college basketball all afternoon, she was cleaning the home of a family in the West End who had a child who was recently disabled.
After talking about high school, why we both chose to major in engineering in college and our mutual favorite park (Winton Woods), we decided to head off to SSNOVA to see the opening reception of a multi-artist show.
It was about 20 degrees outside, and, unfortunately, the downstairs at SSNOVA was the same temperature. We both liked the abstract paintings there -- Anne the abstract seashell and me the abstract clock. The highlight of the first level might have been the working fireplace in the other room. We huddled close to the fire for quite a while before heading upstairs to look at the main attraction.
Mike Mullins had a multimedia show of digital pictures and a movie of homeless children who live in Katmandu. Anne, as it turns out, was a Peace Corps volunteer to Nepal a couple of years ago. Watching her as she walked slowly through the exhibit taking in each picture and every word was amazing. I don't know quite how to explain it, but she almost glowed with empathy for those children.
Hell, that experience with Anne made her appear so near saintly to me that I was to humbled to even ask her out again as I walked her to her car.
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