The first Saturday in June for me means a trip to Fergus, Ontario, for Gender Blender. It's a weekend coed Ultimate Frisbee tournament and campout about one hour southwest of Toronto. This year we were going back as the defending champions. Saturday we made it through pool play, crushing teams from Toronto, Montreal and other parts of Canada.
Saturday night, during the dinner at the main tent, a Bluegrass band called The Backstabbers played. They even played our team's unofficial theme song, "Cincinnati, OH." Of course they misspelled Cincinnati on the CD though.
We cruised through the quarterfinal, and semifinal games on Sunday, only to have an all-star team from Toronto beat us like we had beat every other team for the past two years. Losing 15-5 was a humbling experience, but it's definitely motivation for us to go back.
All I have to show for my weekend this year, since we didn't get the trophy, was a bruised left rib, a bruised left shoulder blade, and two hamstrings and a lower back that felt like they were beaten by a Cincinnati police officer. I felt worse last year, but having the trophy made the pain seem worth it.
Just like last year, I took Monday off for rest and relaxation. I went to Body Concepts in Hyde Park and had my friend Beth give me an hour-long massage. The first time Beth gave me a massage a couple of years ago was a weird experience. We had gone out on a couple of dates, but it didn't quite work out, so it was strange at the time being near naked and having her rub her hands all over me. I just could not relax and enjoy it as much as I would have liked.
But Monday none of that tension was there. She is recently married and I'm dating so I could just totally give in. Plus now she's licensed to do this type of massage, whose name I totally forget, where you lie on your stomach and she gives you a massage while she stands on your back holding onto bars attached to the ceiling to support her. It's the deepest type of massage I can imagine. Except for the lower back pain, which will probably take a chiropractor to work out, all my other injuries went away.
After the massage, Mary and I went downtown for lunch. We were fortunate to find a parking spot that had a broken parking meter around the corner from Mullane's. It was such a beautiful day out that we decided to lunch outside at Mullane's.
I had met our waitress a few times at The Comet, but I can never remember her name. Two years ago she dressed up as the painter Frida, and that image totally blows her name out of my mind every time. Mary ordered a K.C. salad with the soy vinaigrette dressing and I ordered the Cobb salad.
I remember the first time I went to Mullane's and someone ordered a salad that cost over $5. At that time I just didn't think anybody could make a salad worth more than that. Mullane's has totally changed my mind on that point.
I hadn't seen Mary in nearly a week. She was in New Orleans for a conference for most of last week so we spent most of the lunch talking about her adventures in the Big Easy, filled with oysters with pearls, tours of voodoo museums and the requisite nights of drinking.
She has never seen anyone play Ultimate Frisbee before, and does not quite understand the cult-like devotion I have to the sport, so it was a little hard to explain exactly what happened at Gender Blender. But it was an awesome lunch nonetheless.
A Budding Romance
A date is an appointment to meet socially at a particular time so dating must be multiple social engagements with the same person. How does one get from the first date to the status of dating someone? Are there a particular number of dates required? Is there a conversation between the parties involved? Experience tells me that it kind of just happens and I enjoy watching how it all unfolds especially when a friend is the happy recipient of another's affections.
My friend Joan recently met and is now dating Robert. I admire Robert in that he picked up the ball and ran with it by getting Joan's number, calling her and asking her out on a date within a few days. She accepted and after the initial dinner at Teak Thai Cuisine in Mount Adams the relationship seemed to take on a rhythm of its own that was pleasing to both parties.
Robert called Joan casually after their first date and asked if she had time for a quick drink after work downtown at Nick and Tony's. Over a cocktail he suggested they go to the Contemporary Arts Center opening and have dinner with friends of his at Bella's where he made a reservation. Joan liked the idea of meeting another couple to learn more about his taste in people and because it's fun to mix it up in the early stages of dating someone by adding others for the conversation and amusement.
Joan and I met for lunch at the Dilly Deli to catch up live as it was mostly phone and voicemail updates for the last couple of weeks. Joan told me that she really liked the other couple a lot and reported that she had gotten a nice kiss after the date midweek, which I hadn't even heard about yet. Yes, Robert had taken her to the Vineyard for an early dinner while her daughter was at Girl Scouts and had given her the kiss when he walked her back to the car. I wanted details as all good girlfriends do and she assured me that it was more than a peck but not the going for the tonsils type. He got two thumbs up and all systems still say go according to Joan.
She laughed when telling me that Robert called with last minute invites for a drink or dinner drive-bys and that she was losing count of how many dates and/or drive-bys they have had. Over tuna and egg salad we both wondered if the invite to do more than kiss was imminent and from the glint in her eyes, I could predict that Joan was hoping a sleep-over date was next on the agenda. Logistically I offered to provide overnight entertainment for her 10-year-old as summer is the easiest time in the world to keep kids happy and I want nothing more that Joan and Robert to have a fun summer as well.
Even though I had nothing to do with the introduction of these two and I have only briefly met Robert myself at Bella, it seems like a breeze of fresh air to see budding romance take flight. I much prefer my friends have the glow of a new beau than the mystery of not knowing why a guy asks for your number but never calls or the painful incidents of going on a pleasant first date only to find out that he isn't really ready to be dating and is still hung up on his ex. No, I hope that Robert is really the great spontaneous guy he appears to be and that Joan has got what she needed the next time we have lunch. Then I will have renewed faith in the possibilities of summer love for all of us.
Birds Do It, Monkeys Do It, Even Art Exhibits Do It
Holding myself to a promise of more diverse outings, I went to the Cincinnati Zoo to see the latest arrivals. Each spring, the zoo babies are put on display. Surprisingly, it was my boyfriend who was excited to see them. It had been years since I'd been to the zoo, partly because I'd already been dozens of times. The other reason was a physical anthropology professor who used to refer to the zoo as "That prison on Vine Street."
We drove around looking for a place to park and noticed the lot across the street charged $6.50. Since it seemed a little outrageous, we found a spot on the street. After paying $11 for a ticket and $1.50 for a baby-sized bottle of water, I began to wonder just how the zoo was able to keep afloat.
The first babies we saw at the zoo were strapped in wheeled contraptions, which had to be dodged or else get run over. Strollers are the first step on the short journey to SUVs.
Soon we found the black bears frolicking in their large outdoor "prisons."
"Now I see why they're called black bears," one astute youngster remarked.
Next on the trail were the polar bears. Unfortunately, I got a gander of polar bear uh, droppings, which doesn't do the pile justice. An elderly man standing beside me said it best, "Wow, look what they leave behind."
We moseyed along to see a real zoo baby. Behind a large glass home was a cozy little family: mama monkey, daddy monkey and baby monkey. Baby monkey was being sweetly carried around from branch to branch on its mama's back. Daddy monkey was in the back watching football and drinking a Coors Light. Well, that's what it might have translated to. Anyhow, baby monkey let go and played alone on an upper branch. Daddy monkey came over to the glass, looked at all the observers and, as if sensing we needed a show, started humping mama monkey.
At that point, I'd have to say we got our money's worth. We moved on to give them their privacy.
Less scandalously, we saw a young zebra, some sort of gazelle and a "baby" insect, which I don't care to ever see again. We also spotted two white lions, which are practically extinct due to loss of habitat. It was very gracious of us to offer them some of it back. One of the animals I enjoyed most was the manatee, which looks like a giant bloated water slug, peacefully pushing itself along through existence.
After what was an unusually long trek for my boyfriend and I, we were homebound.
Later in the day, Kristine, her boyfriend and I landed at Semantics for the Struck by Lightning opening, an art show about light and sound. One installation included a video of the actual arrest of a local man. While we watched, we could see our own expressions on a screen above. I wasn't sure it we were being videotaped, but it was a very interesting way to be made witness.
In the next room were two TVs, one playing a video called "What It's Like to Be Black" and the other playing, well, you can probably guess. In the videos, people went about their daily business, crossing streets, talking to people, etc. Maybe I'm dense or maybe I'm correct, but I didn't see a difference in the two.
Beside the TVs were, coincidentally, a white man and a black one sitting on chairs. A girl beside me asked what seemed like a valid question,
"Are you guys part of the exhibit?"
"No," they said smiling.
Kristine and I turned to find a table of snacks. "I like this installation best," I said, munching some pretzels.
In the far back room was the most memorable artwork of the evening. On one wall was a large screen with a silent film of a couple making love. Well, a rated-R version anyway. On the opposite wall was a film of a girl complacently looking on. I guess that made us voyeurs twice over.
Another on-looker remarked how boring the movie quickly became without any sound. I have to say I agreed, but I'm not sure why.
After Semantics, we crossed the Parkway for SSNova, which was holding an anti-war art show. A swarm of bicycles were lined up outside, one with a stuffed animal of a cow's head mounted on the handlebars. It was later explained they belonged to a travelling bicycle clown act.
Once inside, I looked around for something to focus on -- always a challenge in the overwhelming space. I felt a tap on the shoulder and turned around to find my old high school friend Terrence. A brilliant artist, he was dropping by SSNova to scout out the space. He loved the space, but wasn't too impressed with the art that night.
After spending time in Boston, he was living here again in what he called a dangerous area of town. Terrence had grown up in Over-the-Rhine, so when I remarked on the fact, he informed me that his new neighborhood was scarier. On his way out, I offered him my mace, but he refused, ready to brace the journey.
After he left, I roamed around to judge the art for myself and had to admit a lot of it was a little overkill. I agreed with the anti-war sentiment of the show, but could've lived without the more-than-one painting of someone shedding tears.
Kristine's boyfriend and I observed a statue -- the reclined naked lower half of a male with its backside facing us. I pointed out that it was going the wrong way. He objected, saying, "It doesn't always face up." Apparently, we were talking about two different things.
When the travelling bicycle clown act burst through the room singing, I felt like hibernating. Shortly thereafter, my friends and I headed out.
After that, we headed to the place where all roads lead -- The Comet -- once again in our natural habitat.
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