Month: February 2014

With me, it’s all or nothing lately.

For the first time in a few months, Philadelphia wasn’t a frozen waste land this weekend. enchantedI couldn’t be happier.  I had a brunch date at a local doughnut and fried chicken joint (yes that is a thing, Non-Philly readers.)  I put on a light sweatshirt and sauntered out into the beautiful day where I would be greeted by an animated bird that rested upon my finger and joined me in a jaunty tune on my front stoop.

The Chicken/Doughnut shop was about a 30-minute walk from my place.  Four days prior, I would have been grumbling about it being too cold and too far from easily accessible public transit, but this weather had me head over heels in love with my city again.  I needed to strut.

So I’m whistling Dixie, on my way to a pile of deliciously unhealthy food and a guy I’ve been seeing with regularity when a few paces ahead I notice a man jogging towards me.  (Pfft, runners, am I right?)

As the runner got closer, I realized I knew his face.  I went on a date with him a few weeks ago.  He texted me a few times after that attempting to plan a second date but I never followed through.

This was the first I had seen him since that date.  I held my breath and felt a twinge of guilt in the back of my neck as I braced myself for what would be an undoubtedly awkward conversation.  I may have been a touch unclear about my lack of interest.  You see,  I did that thing I always do when I’m not feeling it; I politely explain I’m busy whenever they say they want to meet, promise I’ll get back in touch in a few days once I “get a better hold of my schedule,” and then never make contact again.

Somehow I’ve been able to convince myself that I do this because it preserves their feelings so they aren’t broken by the news that it’s not going to happen.  But really, I do it because I’m selfishly avoiding hard honest conversations.  And it’s making me feel like shit.

The runner passed me and without breaking his stride or smiling, greeted me with the coldest wave you ever saw.  I should have been wearing my winter coat.

In the past few months, I’ve dated a number of guys.   Very few of them have made it to the second date with me.  I keep taking an “All or Nothing” approach; either they are my Future Husband or I never need to see them again.  And their FH potential status is decided probably in the first ten minutes.

For some reason, I can’t seem to reconcile a place for them in my life if it doesn’t immediately involve a ring… wedding ring to be clear.  I started this post ready to argue that this is analogous to all gay men, but I don’t think that’s true.

mean girls walk

Over the past year, I’ve been developing a close knit group of friends, all of whom are gay men and the greatest people you will ever meet. (Yes, that is a Mean Girls reference.)  This clique has been together for a few years before I came into the picture.  I’m the new girl, the Cady Heron if you will.  (Don’t roll your eyes, Brian, I’m the Cady.)

In the early days of our friendship, I had a lot of catching up to do.  I adopted the group jargon easily enough and studied our herstory.  What I still find most surprising is that most of their friendship origin stories began with a date.  Their romantic encounters with each other turned into deep but (mostly) nonsexual friendships.

I don’t know that I’ve ever successfully made that transition.

Which causes me to realize that I am the anomaly.  I am the one with the issue.  I’m the asshole.

This is uncharted territory for me, this single, city life.  Seriously.  I moved to Philly in November ’09, fell in love the second weekend I was here.  Four months later it totally and utterly fell apart, I met the Ex maybe two months after that and was spoken for until this past July.

So maybe I’m doing it wrong.  Maybe I should be able to turn my luke-warm feelings into a friendship with my various gentleman callers.  Maybe it’s okay to keep a line of communication open even after I’ve firmly decided I don’t want to date.  I mean it couldn’t hurt.

I don’t know.

I don’t know if I want to.  I don’t know if I should have to.  I don’t know that I need to.

sad walk

I passed by the chilly runner and all of this was swirling in my head.  When I first moved here, I was 22, heart broken, wandering without direction, and working at a coffee shop.  I was every Taylor Swift song.  When I was overwhelmed by all the ambiguity of my early twenties, I would go on what I called my “Crisis Walks” where for hours I would roam the city streets reflecting on my choices.

The lush and unique landscapes of my city were always the perfect cure for the 22 blues.  Inevitably, I would applaud my bravery for taking this risk, moving here without a real plan, and enthusiastically dream of the possibilities that lay before me.  All of that terror and anxiety would wash away.

My walk to the Donut/Chicken Joint became a Crisis Walk.  (Sorry, fella! Though don’t worry, I got it together by the time we met.)

I started asking myself what is it that’s missing from my life right now.  What is this specific role I’m trying to fill that these duds aren’t satisfying? What do I want?  I have a job I love.  It fulfills me artistically, emotionally, intellectually often to the point of happy tears.  I freelance for another theater company on the side, which I totally dig.  I have a fantastic group of hilarious, ride or die friends.  My relationship with my family couldn’t be better (except, sure, I could visit more often!)  I have a great living situation with one of my oldest and dearest friends in a killer row home.

I’m pretty damn lucky.

But still, something is missing.  Something important.

This is a strange moment in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I really love my life and to sit here and bitch and moan is not my point.  In fact, punch me in the face if I ever do that.  But I’m starting to  contemplate my independence.  I’m totally free.  As much as I love my family and friends, we don’t need each other in any measurable way.  And with the exception of my professional responsibilities, no one actually relies on me for anything significant.  The success or failure of my life will only have a direct causal effect on me.  Suddenly “independent” feels very lonely.

So the short answer is a boyfriend.  That’s what’s missing.  But you all knew that, that’s why I’ve called you here each week.  I don’t mean some one to go to dinner with, or sleep with or see my shows or hang with my friends.  That’s easy.  I can make a patchwork quilt out of these silly boy swatches for that stuff.  It’s deeper than that.

What I’m missing is my partner in crime.  Some one that I can build my life with.  Some one who cares if I succeed because when I do, we do.  Some one who, when I fuck it up, is there to help me make it right.  Some one who makes me feel as important and capable as my work does, who makes me laugh as much as my friends do, who supports me like my family does, who wants me even when I have eye boogers.  Some one who is there to share the often crushing weight of existence.

Each day, I’m going it alone.  And I’m handling it.  But like Olivia Pope: flawlessly empowered while hopelessly fragile hoping Fitz is going to get it right.  And I’m not looking to rush into something because it feels safe and cozy.  I’ve been there before and it ain’t cute.  I know this thing I’m looking for is rare and special and I’m picky.  I know it takes time.

RestlessnessAnxiety and Disappointment are all names of magazines in the waiting room of Dr. Love’s office.

I reserve that right to be disinterested for any reason at all.  Because at the same time that I think I know exactly what this man will be like, I also have no clue.  I’m a fickle pickle.  And these boys that I could give or take, I am not obligated to make space for them in my life because they bought me a beer.  I don’t need to turn boring conversation into a life long friendship.  Besides, you would have to be pretty damn amazing to join the pantheon of my loved ones.

But in the meantime, I could stop being such a scaredy cat, put on my big boy pants and tell these boys up front, thanks but I’m not interested right now.  And maybe they will become a friend instead of another person I’m trying to avoid at Woody’s.

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Something Worth Melting For…

I saw Frozen this weekend.  This was the cinematic experience I had been waiting for all year.  August: Osage County? Pfft, more like August: No-sage… HuntyAmerican Hustle? I’d rather hustle past your theater to see Frozen.  (But actually, I want to see these two before the Oscars.)

This should surprise no one when I say I found the whole thing utterly enchanting.  It was whimsical, musical, and delightfully awkward.  It was as if some one captured my essence, removed all of the potty humor and turned it into an animated feature film.

I wasn’t surprised that I liked it so much.  After all, I’ve been singing “Let It Go” for months now. Idina took me all the way to synagogue and threw me a Bar Mitzvah what that one.  And basically every one with a heart and access to Facebook has been singing its praises.

But I never ever expected to be so taken with this story’s depiction of “True Love.”  It broke the Disney mold I had so come to expect.   I arrived ready for a love story and found the central narrative had nothing to do with romantic love.  Even in the moments where that typical trope would rear its ugly head, BAM.  Some one would show up and Shut. It. Down!

I grew up watching Disney classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, stories of women on a journey to achieve that one great True Love.  They sacrifice everything; their homes, families, freedom, fins, voices for it.  And we rejoice when at last they share that perfect kiss on their wedding day!

I can’t help but wonder how much of my real adult expectations of love have been based on that narrative.  If I’m being honest, probably a whole lot.

Like Belle and Ariel, I’ve spent my life dreaming about that sweeping romantic experience wherein I spot Future Husband across the room and in an instant, I know unquestionably that he’s “The One.”  I’ve ended multiple relationships because I didn’t feel that “spark.”

Allow me to describe my vision of a perfect relationship: I meet a man and we instantly know we are “meant for each other.”  We forge that kind of relationship where there is nothing on earth more important to us than each other.  If need be, we’d sacrifice our dreams and other relationships for the sake of our True Love.  And in some mystical way, we always have the perfect thing to say no matter what the situation.

A few years ago, I fell head over heels in love with a man from Michigan the moment I met him.  And this Love had all the makings of that epic romance.  The circumstances of our meeting were beautifully serendipitous and he vaguely looked like a Disney Prince.  But like the poor grad student version.  I remember clearly, during our first kiss, before I knew he lived so far away, thinking, “Oh, this is it.”  I committed myself to him and our prospective future vigorously.

If he asked, I would have up and moved to be with him in a second.  (Instead, when I suggested I do this, he refused because I couldn’t possibly reach my full potential if I uprooted myself for him.  Ugh, whatever, he respected my goals and knew Michigan would be a dead end for me.  He’s perfect.  Moving on.)  Eventually the distance was too much and our wallets were far too tight.  Artist and Grad student, what are you gonna do?

This happened almost five years ago and I still I’m regularly visited by the nagging thought that he’s not only “The One” but now “The One that got away.”

In the past few months, partially due to this blog, I have scrutinized my concept of love and what it is I’m looking for.  Well, I’ve come up with the resounding conclusion that literally no one is good enough for me.  I told my mom this a few weeks while we were both complaining about men and she laughed and said, “Maybe we just demand too much. We expect everyone to be perfect.”

Duh.  Because I believe that my love story, my final ever-lasting love story, will be made of perfection and rainbows and I’ll sing songs with animals when it happens.

Why do I expect that? Have Disney movies and all the romantic comedies I’ve watched in my life informed my expectations of the kind of love I want?

I mean, YEAH.  I didn’t grow up witnessing that perfect true love at home.  My family is far from “traditional.” So I didn’t learn to value it by experiencing it.  (No, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything or I’m trying to compensate for it in my adulthood.  And if you or any one you know wants to talk to me about how children only thrive in a “nuclear family,” I’ll shout you the hell down.  But I’m not here for that today.)

Ok, so admittedly, growing up as a young boy, I was having alternative gendered experiences with Disney Animated Classics and Rom Coms by associating myself with the heroines.  As a gay man, I do allow my self the license to have a more fluid understanding of my gender.  That’s just me, not necessarily all gay men.  But still, the way I value love and, more importantly, the way I have come to expect Future Husband to value me have stemmed directly from these stories.

And in comes Frozen.  This film not only reinvents the rules of “True Love” for this genre (Animated Princess Musical Rom Coms) it blatantly criticizes them.

Early on, we meet Anna, the younger sister of the ice queen (really, guys?) who craves a life beyond her castle walls. (Ariel, much?)  Anna, eager to see the world, meets the charming albeit bumbling Hans, a young prince about five minutes after leaving the castle for the first time.   They declare their love for each other during a deliciously campy musical number ending in a sudden engagement.  And I believed it.

I sat and listened to their silly song and swooned thinking, “Aw, I wish my love life were like this.”  As she as she announces her pending nuptials, everyone is all like, “Anna, gurl, you just met this guy.  What’s his last name?  What side of the bed does he sleep on?  How much student loan debt does he have?  You’re really jumping the gun here.”  Her sister, Kristoff, and even the damn Snowman who has been alive for like 30 minutes calls her on it.

Like Anna, my first response was to cross my arms and fight back with a “You don’t even know him!”  And then, I calmed down, stopped shouting at the screen and realized that they’re probably right.  Maybe they should go on a few dates first or something.  I guess people shouldn’t jump into an engagement after only four hours.

Ok Hans and Anna aren’t the love story here.  I’m sure something will come up.

anna and kristoff

Enter Kristoff, the smelly reindeer guy who sells ice.  So every word I just used to describe him immediately would have sent me running.  And had Anna not actually needed his help she probably wouldn’t have given him the time of day. 

But because they had mutual objectives, they had to work together.  As they continued to overcome obstacles by supporting one another while also having friendly conversation, they started to notice an interest budding.  Ahh, here’s my romantic fairy tale couple.  It had all the tell tale signs; flirting, secret smiles, he caught her when she fell off the mountain.  Call me India.Arie because I am ready for love.

After all the build up and drama and other hilarious happenstances, Anna’s heart is frozen.  The cure: an “act of True Love.”  If every love story ever has taught me anything, a kiss solves all of the problems.  That’s the only way.  I was a little put off when Anna, Kristoff and Olaf conclude Hans has to deliver the kiss.  Didn’t we already establish that her relationship with Hans was stupid and Kristoff was her soul mate?  Whatever, she’s committed I guess.  So she finds Hans and, OH NO, he’s a secret villain! I knew it! She and Kristoff were the It-couple!

But once again, the movie totally obliterated my expectations.  Anna, on the brink of death (or ice death?), was faced with a choice: run to Kristoff for  20ccs of “True Love” by kiss injection or save her cold mopey sister.  The big dummy chose to save her sister, forever turning herself into ice.  When Anna froze because she chose Uteruses over Duderuses, I was really disappointed in her.  Doesn’t she get that True Love will break all spells and make life everything you dreamed of?  ISN’T THAT WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING WITH MY LIFE?

However, it turned out that the love Anna had for her sister ended up releasing her from a frozen death.  And I was floored.  Because really it should have been obvious that Anna’s love for her sister was the only thing that could be deemed “true.”  It’s literally the only significant relationship she’s ever had her whole life.   She may be crushing on Kristoff or even Hans but it’s unreasonable to expect that given the choice between these men she’s known for maybe a day or so and her life long (albeit cold and distant) sister, she would choose the Crush. 

And yet I never saw it coming.

Like most people, I’ve learned to expect certain outcomes from these narratives.  True love wins. A kiss breaks the spell. The hot couple winds up together at the expense of the heroines whole life.  And I love it. I dream about it happening in my own life.

!

The DREAM!

I grew up watching these movies and I base every romantic encounter on how much “magic” I feel.  And I won’t settle for less than Harry Potter.  Step aside Siegfried and Roy.  Get back in your box, Harry Houdini.  If it doesn’t feel “real” then I don’t want it.

The longer I live and the longer I’m single, I start wondering how realistic my ideals are.  Probably not very.  That’s why I find Frozen to be such a positive depiction of love.  Now that this story is part of the Disney cannon, it’s going to be as ubiquitous as The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast.  Frozen will be irrevocably tied to the childhood of so many young people (ugh, I feel old.)  Maybe they’ll see that love doesn’t come from magic and maybe you don’t have to give up your family or your power to find it.  Maybe two people who share similar goals will discover a mutual attraction while working together as equals and explore the possibility of a romantic and sexual relationship over time and through open communication.

Now for the record, I don’t think Frozen is a shining beacon of socially progressive children’s entertainment.  Actually, it’s quite problematic.  I mean, the central conflict of the whole thing is that a woman has too much power and is ruining everyone’s lives because of it.  The people of Arendelle only love Elsa once she learns to suppress her power.  (It’s cool as long as she used it for like fun stuff like ice skating or snowman preservation.)     Oh and every character is beautiful, white, able bodied, and straight.  So yeah, Disney has work to do.

But I imagine 5-year-old Tim growing up today watching a movie like Frozen.  First of all, I’d be belting “Let it Go” in the Disney Store at the mall instead of “Part of your World.”  The idea of a child me singing a song about accepting myself instead of giving up my identity for love already brings a tear to my eye.

I wonder if he would grow up into a person who has a healthy sense of romance but understands it shouldn’t come at the expense of his family, friends, or self worth.  It’s taken me a lot of years in my adulthood to figure that out.

That alternative-reality version of myself might still be single, sure.  But I bet he would be less hung up on it.  I bet he would scoff at the idea of having an online dating profile and writing this blog about desperately seeking love.

It may be too late to save myself.  Even now, I hear a not too quiet voice in my head screaming, “BUT LOVE IS REAL! Stop being a cynic!”

My heart, like Anna’s, is warmed imagining a future generation of little weirdos who understand that love isn’t a zero-sum game.

Frozen-Elsa-strut

Look out, I’m Fabulous!

14 Ways to Be Your Own Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day lovers of all sorts!

Can I be honest with you all? I love Valentine’s Day.

Before you give your screen a side eye and close the tab on your browser, hear me out.  I totally get that Valentine’s Day is stupid.  It is.  Greedy executives who are interested in making a quick buck by propagating heteronormative mores created it.  I went to a liberal arts college.  I get it.

But that doesn’t stop me from swooning every February 14th.  There is something magic in the air.  Valentine’s Day generates a kind of energy that puts people in a better mood.  It’s probably because every one is excited about shamelessly eating chocolate. In my case, I’m secretly hoping a secret admirer will step forth and confess his undying devotion (hint hint.)

This is my first Single Valentine’s Day in a long time.  I don’t have any dates set up and I’m not really the type to ask some one to be my Valentine or anything as lame as that.  This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Valentine’s Day.  After all, how much can we really hate on a day that asks us to tell the people in our lives we love them?

But for some, today bares the ugly moniker of  “Single’s Awareness Day” or other debasing epithets.  And that bugs me.  Because being single isn’t something to feel bad about.  It’s taken me some time to realize that and you’ve all sort of been witness to part of that process.

So today I say, Single is great! Valentine’s Day is for all who love!

To those of you who, like me, don’t have any plans, I’ve come up with a wonderful list of ways to spend this day celebrating your one true love: Yourself.

Please enjoy my recommendations while listening to my collection of the Greatest Love Songs of all time:  (The Beatles aren’t on Spotify, so you may notice a significant emptiness.)

The Cupid Shuffle

Take all of the digits of your birth date and add them up to find your Love Number.

For example: If your birth date is 2/14/1987, then you do the following:  2+1+4+1+9+8+7=32

Then go to your OkCupid profile (any Dating site would work.)  Set your Matches to “Special Blend” and search.  This will provide a random assortment of people not based on your alleged match percent, location, or how recently they joined.

Count from the first profile of the results all the way to the one that lands on your Love Number.  Without hesitation or qualification send that person, whoever he or she may be, the following message:

“Happy Valentine’s Day!

romeo and julie

Let’s make the most of it.  Meet me at (INSERT YOUR FAVORITE SPOT) tonight at 8pm.  I’ll be the one wearing (INSERT YOUR BEST OUTFIT)

Here’s to the magic.”

Then brace yourself for an exciting new encounter.

What you will need:

  • An OkCupid account or other dating app/profile
  • An adventurous spirit
  • Back up plans if/when he doesn’t show up

The Show Stopper

Everyone loves a musical.  Everyone.  I don’t care who you are; you love them and know all the words to at least one.  Tonight is the night to let your inner Sutton Foster shine, girl!

There are two ways to do this:

1)   Pick your favorite movie musical (Netflix has some amazing choices right now.  West Side Story?! If you need more, please contact me.)  Lock the doors to your home, put on your best cut off T-shirt, Jazz pants, and Capezios.  Hit play and perform the shit out of every musical number.

2) Invite over your most talented friends and cast them in your favorite movie musical.  You’re the casting director, remember?  So no one gets to call dibs.  You are always Maria or Effie or Mimi.  Perform a concert version of that musical and maybe a second one to make sure everyone gets a featured part.

effie white

What you will need:

  • Beers or Wine (in bottles) as these are the best vessels for alcohol/microphones
  • Ample floor space
  • A solid warm up
  • Preferably a dance studio style room with a mirror on one wall and Ballet Barres.

*Costumes optional.  Nay, mandatory.

The Lady with a Past

In the grand tradition of every role Jessica Lange has ever played, put on your sexiest outfit and head to a dark, romantic spot.  Take a seat at the bar where you are sure to grab the attention of everyone in the room.

Jessica Lange

Flirt casually with the bartender (so every one looking on see’s how charismatic you are.)  Order only whiskey or scotch on the rocks, the world’s sexiest drink.  Sit and sip alone as if you’ve just gotten out of a terrible situation.  Appear vulnerable yet resilient.   Look off into the distance with an expression that tells everyone the weight of the past is heavy on your heart.

Drink the whole night and laugh with the bartender until some gentle yet commanding man comes and rescues you.  And don’t worry if you sit alone all night.  That just means you’re broadcasting an air of mystique so powerful, it’s intimidated everyone.

What you will need:

  • Your sexiest black dress (or whatever appropriately gendered equivalent you have)
  • Whiskey.  Lots of Whiskey.
  • Optional: Cigarettes to help the mystique but only if you have a cool cigarette case to store them and you find a bar that allows smoking.  Better though if it doesn’t.  You’ll seem infinitely more dangerous.

The Text Mess

A personal favorite.  Start by drinking a whole bottle of wine.  Then send the following text message to all of your Exes:

“That was a lot of fun.” 

Immediately reply with the following:

“Oh my! I’m so sorry this was meant for a different (INSERT THEIR NAME).  This is awkward.  Hope you’re well.”

Oops

I’m not suggesting you do this with the intention of rekindling any type of romance.  It’s just a way to stir the pot.  In my experience (because I have done this many many times) you may get to hash out some painful feelings, exchange some kind words with each other that might surprise you, or (in one particular case) offer one of the greatest loves of your life some relationship advice while also confessing that you will, in fact, always love him.

Somehow this will feel great.  It literally can not go wrong.

What you will need:

  • Wine.
  • Extra Wine.
  • Not a shred of dignity.

The Undercover The Bachelor

So I just love The Bachelor. Not because I think it’s compelling television or how I think love should work, but because it’s about a bunch of crazy people committing to strong feelings.  I’m here for that.   And I’m also certain that if I were to compete I would win the $250,000 grand prize. (Wait, that’s not what they get if they win? Nevermind.)

Any way, send a text to all of the people you’ve been sort of dating or flirting with over the past few months.  Tell them you’re meeting a few friends out at the bar and you’d love it if they would join.  When all of them show up at the same time, act as though this is a Bachelor group date.  Pull them a side one at a time and “get to know them better.”  If possible, create a group challenge or two. the bacherlor

At the end of the evening, tell the guys you’re going to another bar.  Bring them to a previously selected alley where you have already hidden a dozen roses.  Then reveal that they’ve been part of your Bachelor challenge and present a rose to the guys you’ve liked the most.

 What you will need:

  • A Camera Crew
  • No sense of decency
  • As many roses as you have guys you want to bang

The Cake War

This may be the best one.

First, decide what your favorite type of cake is.  Set aside plenty of time.  This is a decision not to be made lightly.  You may think, “Oh, I like chocolate cake, I guess” but what about cheesecake? Or Carrot Cake? Or Angel food?! There are too many options.  Don’t jump into this without considering all of them.

bruce cake

Once you take the appropriate amount of time to decide, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to visit every known bakery in your neighborhood and try a piece of their version of your favorite cake.  Once you finish, post your results on all social media.   You’re supporting local business or whatever!  Mostly, cake. Lots of cake.

What you will need:

  • A journal to record your deep spiritual thoughts about the cake experience
  • Loose pants.  You know what, just wear your pajama bottoms!
  • Any extra Weight Watchers Points you can save.  (Yes I did say Weigh Watchers, because if it’s good enough for J. Hud it’s good enough for me.)

The Yoko Oh-No You Better Don’t

Find a band that’s playing locally.  If possible, look them up online to find out if any of the performers are dreamy.  Or at least cute enough that with enough booze you’d make out with them without feeling bad about it tomorrow.

sexuality

Work your way back stage using your secret weapon… your sexuality.  Pay close attention to the group dynamics of the band.  Identify the leader and then flirt with whoever comes across as the weakest band mate.

Subtly convince the weakling that he is the true talent of the group and encourage him to confront his band mates in front of you.

If all goes well, the band should be broken up by morning.

What you will need:

  • Sexuality
  • Powers of Manipulation
  • Filthy Band T-Shirts

The Cultural Elite

For the fancy ladies,

Get your self some culture! Put on your finest tweed blazer complete with elbow pads and begin the night with a visit to your nearest art gallery.  Stare long and hard at paintings that make you think of sex and war.  As Future Husband comes up to look at the same painting, try this move:

Cross your arms and bring your left hand to your chin as if you’re stroking your beard (actual beard not required.)  Look the piece up and down with a furrowed brow.  Let your gaze land at a specific spot, stare at it for a moment, let out a “hmmm,” reach your left hand towards the work of art and before you touch it, stop, and then return it to your chin.  Turn and walk away.  As you leave, look back with a knowing smile and make sure he’s checking out your rear.

Grab a glass of wine and then let him come to you.

janet snakehole

If he doesn’t come to you, get yourself to a damn theater and experience more art! It’s good for you!

What you will need:

  • Maybe smart looking glasses
  • A sincere interest in art
  • Something to say 

The Gwyneth Paltrow in that movie about karaoke.  Duets, I think

Drag your best friends to a Karaoke Bar, even if they hate it.  With your BFF in tow, strike up a conversation with another group of people, making sure one of them could possibly be your Future Husband.

karaokeOnce you start talking with the new guys, demonstrate how fun and witty you are but make sure you seem a little demure.  Eventually, you are going to be called up to sing.  Create a rouse like your BFF signed you up without telling you and act so embarrassed.  In reality, you’ve had this song prepared for months.

Once you wow everyone and the ovation dies down, drop the mic and run right into Future Husbands arms

What you will need:

  • A Legendary song (Celine Dion or Salt-N-Pepa come to mind)
  • Three months of practice with a vocal coach
  • A BFF ready to go along with this whole charade

The Survivor

All the Single Ladies! All the Single Ladies!

Gather your best friends over to your place for a night of  trash talking the exes and celebrating being the Independent women you are.  It’s your Destiny, Child.  Build a quick trashcan fire to burn old pictures/items from your Ex and proclaim loudly, “I’m a Survivor, I’m not going to give up!”

Then head to the club with just your friends.  No Tops allowed! survivor

**For added authenticity: Invite your three best friends.  Just before you leave, kick two of them out of the party and meet a new, better third person at the bar.

What you will need:

  • The flawless sexuality of Beyoncé
  • The Horrible style of Tina Knowles (aka just buy, like, camo T-Shirts and cut them up)
  • A Fire extinguisher or some one ready to dial 911

The Mom-mom

Affectionately named for my grandmother.

michael

Movie tickets are expensive.  So plan accordingly.  Make a list of every movie you’d like to see.  Then based on all of the show times and running times, create a schedule for the day.  Buy a ticket for only the first one on your list and then sneak from theater to theater until, like Pokemon, you’ve caught them all.  The apathetic security guards at the movie theater are likely 1) not to notice and 2) not to care.

What you will need:

  • A large trench coat to hide all of your refreshments.
  • The organizational skills of a Type-A Gay (Eyes on you, Brian and David)
  • 3D glasses should any movie on your list require them.

The Barechest Contessa

Create a dinner party as elegant as Ina Garten.  Spend hours watching her show and choose the recipes you like best.  Once selected, invite your most fabulous gay friends over for a meal they’ll not soon forget.  Spare no expense.

barefoot contessaIf you aren’t a good cook, incept a friend who is a master chef into thinking it was his the whole time! He’ll be super excited to host a glamorous dinner party and you’ll get to gorge yourself! Every one wins.

For added fun: Invite that hot friend of yours.  You know, the one who is sort of part of your group and is very attractive and flirts with you once in while but it never really goes anywhere.  Tell him it’s an underwear party.  This is in no way related to food or the meal but if you ask me, sexy men are the only thing missing from The Barefoot Contessa.

What you will need:

  • A shopping spree at Williams Sonoma
  • Elegant table settings
  • A breath taking home in the Hamptons and an aloof husband who is always out of town

The Puppy Party

puppy kisses

Head to your nearest animal shelter, pet store, or neighbor’s house whose dog just gave birth.  Lie on the ground and allow yourself to be showered in unconditional love and slobber from no fewer than 5 puppies.  Their soft fur and energy is sure to pull even the most hardened of hearts out of a grump slump.

Note: Kittens, while adorable, will not work.  I have two cats and I love them (yes, I know, I’m single and own two cats.  Spare me the Cat Lady jokes.)  The only thing you will get from them is a cold sense of ambivalence and maybe a nuzzle when they want food or their litter box cleaned.  I get enough of that from my gentleman callers on a daily basis. 

What you will need:

  • Puppies
  • No animal allergies or tons of Claritin
  • A lint roller

The “Best Gift is the Gift You Give Yourself” Gift

Whatever it is you decide to do today, make sure you take a moment to love on yourself.  Being single can be hard especially on a day when the world wants to celebrate everyone who happens to be committed to some one else.

People in relationships are no better or happier than those of who are not.  Valentine’s Day may be a silly Fauxliday intended for people who lead a certain life style, but this year, let’s allow it to be a celebration of all kinds of love.

Remind yourself of how wonderful you are and don’t be defined by your relationship status.    Relationships come and go, but you’re stuck with you forever.  Make the time to love yourself.

Today, you are all my Valentine.

With love,

Tim

blow kiss

Showing up is half the battle.

I went out with the Ex this weekend.  This was the first we spent any one on one time together since the Great Break Up.

On Friday morning, he and I were part of a group text with another friend; something about Catwomanalive, which is not an unusual topic of conversation.  I asked the group what the plan was for the evening.  Drinks? Dancing? Painting the town various shades of red?  It was Friday morning and, baby, I was alive!

As it turned out everyone was busy except for him.  He said he planned on eating a pizza alone and I was welcomed to join.

I wasn’t sure if that was a sincere offer or one of his classic snarky remarks.  But I accepted and was surprisingly exciting.

We met at our favorite pizza place having already agreed to split a large pie.  He’s one of the few people on the planet in front of whom I can unabashedly be my grotesque self.  I don’t need to feign modesty or posture like eating a half of a pizza is something I wouldn’t typically do. There were no “oh I can’t believe I’m pigging out like this!” or  “I haven’t eaten anything today” conceits.  Because clearly I had already eaten Chinese food for lunch AND dinner earlier that day.

I caught him up on everything that had been going on at work and provided hilarious updates on the state of my family (which could easily be a spin-off blog.)  He briefly filled me in on his work and family, things he never liked to talk about any way.  Everything had a familiar ease to it.

We finished the pizza and decided to find a spot to drink too many martinis, a once frequent past time of ours.  It wasn’t long until we started talking about his new relationship.  Previously, this was a powerful source of tension for me.

He started seeing this boy shortly after we split.  (I’ll henceforth be referring to New Boyfriend as Shelly Stewart, after Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in The First Wives Club.)  And, no, he didn’t leave me for Shelly Stewart.  They met on a camping trip we were supposed to go on together with some friends that I opted out of after the break.

The first time the The Ex, Shelly Stewart and I were in the same room, I found myself sitting next to them on a sectional sofa with the rest of our friends looking on while they were blissfully canoodling and I was eating the loneliest hamburger you ever saw.james_franco_sad_burger

 

But with each passing time the three of us are together, it gets less and less awkward.  I had to get used to my newly single life and his rapidly attached status.  Seven months out and I’m finally at peace with the whole thing.

Can I be honest?  I’ve never admitted this to any one before now, but they’re a wonderful couple. Really.  They’re happy.  Like actually happy.  The Ex is not a particularly warm and fuzzy kind of guy, and yet, in the few times I’ve been around the two of them, he’s affectionate.  And kind.  And shows Shelly compassion in ways that are foreign to me.  And it’s weird, frankly.

But seeing this new side of him, this side that I only caught glimpses of in rare private moments, I know something there is right.

We were never right for each other.  Never.  We didn’t exactly make sense.   I tend to be effusive and carefree while he was… well… more rigid and exacting.

This was the unspoken truth of our relationship.  Neither of us admitted it until we finally had the relationship-ending talk.   Unless, of course, you count the time at his parents’ home, when his sister asked if we were ever going to get married after a couple (hundred) drinks, he replied “Oh no, we know we aren’t perfect for each other.”  (He’s honest, god bless him.)

We were both operating under the assumption that eventually this would end.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work.  And I don’t begrudge that.  Sometimes two people aren’t meant to be in love.

But when the wound was still raw, I found myself frustrated.  Mostly at myself, mostly for staying so long in a relationship that just wasn’t doing what I had expected that kind of thing to do.  I’ve burned considerable hours since then trying to understand why I got so stuck.

But the longer I traverse the world of singledom, the more I’ve figured out which spell this dark wizard cast on my heart and judgment. The answer is simple.

He showed up.  Everyday.  Without exception.

There were no wicked games in the beginning.   I didn’t have to do that thing where I obsess about if I would hear from him again or try and decide what’s the sexiest number of days to wait in between communiqués.

During the first few months of our relationship, when everything is so tenuous and one wrong move can ruin everything, he avoided the biggest mistake of them all.  He never made me doubt his interest.  And damn it, that’s a turn on.

How many guys have I started talking with recently only to wait days for a reply?  How many dates have been cancelled, rescheduled, politely avoided?

The Ex spoiled me because I’m finding now even the best of men seem to lack this ability.

For example, a few months ago, I was dating a guy pretty regularly.   He had a lot going for him: handsome, smart, super good body, a doctor… or, more specifically, a resident.  I still don’t exactly understand how the whole medical career system works but from what I can gather being a resident means you work insane and irregular hours rendering yourself hopelessly unavailable.  Only fueling my desire.

We would see each other at least once a week and I was starting to develop significant feelings.  But things weren’t without complication.   His demanding job made it challenging to get a hold of him or make plans.  And I like to keep a schedule.

If you read my bio somewhere on this page, then you know I’m a theater artist.  Meaning I work tirelessly to put together performances and am constantly brimming with feelings.   AND I work with children who absolutely amaze me all of the time.  So, yeah, I get being swept up in your career.

When the Doctor and I started dating, I had just cast my latest production and started rehearsals.  The show was a regular topic of discussion.  As was his job.  We both happened to be two people who were just as eager to share as we were to listen, a truly rare combination.

The week leading up to my show, we were able to squeeze in a dinner date somewhere between my hectic production schedule and his ungodly rotation that seemed like it might have been killing him.  But there we were, sitting in an Indian restaurant, both worn from work but appreciative of the company.

I expressed my concern for our well-beings over a casual joke.  But he laughed and said it wasn’t too bad.  Anyway, he would finally have time off that weekend.  (The first time in a month.)  How perfect!  That meant he’d have an evening free to see the show I’d been blabbing on about for the last three months.

And then he broke eye contact and started stammering.  “Yeah, you’re right.  I guess I could see it.”  I ignored any notable ambivalence and instead listed all of the dates and times of the show.  He didn’t confirm that he would come to any of them but he said he would “check his calendar.”  I’ve heard that before.  I’ve said that before.  I know what it means.

And yet, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  He definitely wasn’t prepared to receive such an aggressive invitation and maybe he did need to check his schedule.  The subject was dropped.

A few days later, I sent a Facebook message to some of my friends, including the Doctor, letting them know I had two comp tickets if any one was interested.  I won’t say I wrote the message solely with the intent of sending him a subtle reminder.  I really did want my friends to come as well.  But I had hoped that that would have given him a kindly nudge without seeming too pushy (read: insane and needy.)

I never heard back. He never came.  He sent me a text a few days later asking how it went.  “Brilliantly,” I responded but I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t disappointing.

Rationally, I can understand all of the reasons why he wouldn’t want to be there.  Sure, it was his first weekend off in a month.  And, ok, maybe watching a bunch of anonymous kids perform isn’t the most exciting thing a grown man can do with his time.  And maybe I wasn’t clear about how important my work is to me.   But I couldn’t have made it any easier for him to show up for me.

The Ex, who hated theater, came to every one of my shows.  Even a tragic little one I was in only a month or so into our relationship.  He was there for everything that was important to me.

I told my mom this story and she hit me with a harsh truth. “Well, say what you will about the Ex.  He was always there.”  But then she did that perfect mom thing where she followed it up with a slight dig at him as if to remind me she’s on my side. “You might not have wanted him there, but he always showed up.”

The Doctor and I never dated or made contact again (except for one unfortunate time a few weeks ago when we both happened to be on separate dates at the same restaurant.  I would later text him to finally hash out my feelings.  Because I can’t stop myself.)

It was hard enough scheduling dates and harder still to get a reply to a simple “How’s it going” text message.  But to actively miss something as significant as that was for me for a reason I can only assume was as callous as “I don’t want to” was unforgivable.

The importance of presence cannot be discounted. And I don’t just mean to show up at a performance or family function or random theme party thrown by an acquaintance.  We show up for people in all sorts of ways.  It’s the act of letting some one know that you are making space for them in your life.

So often, I feel like I’m constantly fighting an up hill battle with these trifling boys.

I get what it’s like to be uncertain of my feelings.  But texting back takes all of two minutes.  You can do it on the toilet for crying out loud.  And it goes a long way.  If I’m not worthy of a “Sup” while you’re pooping, then I say “To the left, to the left.”  (And yeah sure, I should probably take the hint.)  All I’m looking for is confirmation that I’m somewhere on a list of priorities.

I give it up to the Ex.  He’s a man who got it right, who never let me doubt he was interested.  And because we didn’t waste any time emotionally terrorizing one another, our relationship blossomed quickly and into something that for a time was as lovely as any relationship could be.

At the end of the day, we made the right decision to call it quits.  We’re now on a path towards greater happiness and have been able to salvage our friendship.  I’ll always love and care for him.  But now in a way that makes sense for us.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but he has set the bar pretty high.  Damn, that’s depressing.  Oh well, cue the Dusty Springfield!

you don't own me