Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Subway and the Odyssey

I've seen a lot of crazy things in my life, but nothing could have prepared me for the insane adventure I had last Saturday, as I braved the New York subway system. I must say, I am no Homer. My adventures won’t be nearly as poetic as the Iliad and the Odyssey, but I assure you the events you are about to read are 100 percent factual. This is my story:

That day, I was on my way out to Brooklyn for an audition, so I made sure to allow plenty of time so I wouldn't be late. Future employers don't tend to look too kindly for people that run on their own schedules. So around 2 PM, I gathered my belongings, and set off on my journey.

The PATH ride into the city was relatively uneventful. Its 13 minutes to 33rd street where I would brave the masses of tourists and people who live for Macys 30% off sales in order to get to Penn Station about two blocks away. That much I knew, as I had done it a thousand times before. But I soon discovered that getting to the other borough would prove a little more difficult.

After “Terry Tate office-linebackering” my way through the bustling mess that is Penn, I found the “2” train, that would supposedly take me into the heart of Brooklyn. Only problem was the “2” wasn't running on this track today. Instead, I had to cross the platform and wait for the train on the other side. A small monkey wrench, but it seemed simple enough.

25 minutes later, and still no train, no heat, and no cell service. The last of those conditions proved devastatingly painful as I was waiting for score updates on the FSU-Duke basketball game and neither text nor ESPN mobile worked in these dungeons. Three trains came and went, and still no “2.” I had reached the point of impatience where I was prepared to get on whatever train came next and take my chances, when lo and behold, along comes the “2.” And my journey continued.

Apparently half of the greater part of Manhattan had been waiting for this train, because the minute the doors open, they flooded in like college kids at an open seating sports event. It was a downright free-for-all, a stampede of epic proportions, into the mass of cattle already aboard the train. There we stood and sat, scrunched into the tiny cars, each hoping the person next to us had at least had the courtesy to shower and brush their teeth. Otherwise, this was going to be one LONG train ride. The crowds finally began to dissipate as we neared the last of the Manhattan stops. At least now I would have a place to rest my arse. You try standing in a pair of 4 inch stiletto boots for thirty minutes straight. Brutal.

It seemed like forever before we emerged at the first Brooklyn stop. The seediness in the train had gone from like a 3 to a 9 almost instantaneously. Where the hell was this train taking me?? Bored out of my mind, and still with no cell service, I began to engage in the only other sport I may be good at besides bowling and air hockey… people watching. There was the single dad with the two little girls, who took great pleasure in torturing one another and destroying their brand new pairs of tights while their pop wasn’t looking. There was the group of gangbangers that walked from car to car like they were straight out of “Adventures in Babysitting.” Then, there was… a Carebear. Not the children’s stuffed animal variety, but a human size theme park rental Carebear. The bear sat on the opposite side of the train, with his legs crossed for most of the ride, and even pulled out his blackberry. Wait. The Carebear had a blackberry???.. And service?.. Maybe he would know the score to the FSU game??.. I tried to engage the bear in conversation, but he just continued to work on his Careberry and ignored my advances. Clearly, this bear was of the New York born and raised variety, which explained his standoffish attitude. So much for shiny dispositions and cute rainbow tummies. Jerk.

At the next stop, a drunk kid stumbled on to the train clutching a bag of McDonalds and what remained of his dignity after an apparently very happy happy hour. A groggy mess, he made his way to an empty seat two spots away from me. The smell of the dollar beers, the dollar menu, and greasy fries wafted towards me, and I found myself both repulsed and suddenly hungry. Snap out of it Jenn. We haven’t had McDonald’s since those late nights in Tallahassee, no sense in starting now. He began to rummage through the bag, and pulled its contents out onto his makeshift table-- the lap of his Diesel Jeans. The scenes that followed resembled something out of a Hannibal Lecter movie, as he devoured his double quarterpounder with cheese like one of those lions on National Geographic. I sat and watched both in utter disgust and sheer amusement as ketchup smeared across his face. He had little or no regard to the attention his bad table manners were drawing, and continued to enjoy his drunk eating binge.

The train pulled into its next Brooklyn stop, and a man with a long white beard and a cane hobbled on with a bag full of home-printed literature. I watched as he steadied himself and walked about the moving train surveying its passengers. One by one, he eyed them up and down, until he stopped in front of Ronald McDrunkerson, and pointed his cane directly in his face. McDrunkerson stopped mid-chew, and stared at the old man with drunken bewilderment.

“This is the face of gluttony!!!.. Of sin, of Greed!!!”

Well, at least he got the gluttony part right. But don’t hate the man for loving his fast food.

He continued to wander down the row until he stopped in front of me.

“And you,” he said. “You are the face of Temptation and Lust.”

To which I replied, “Easy there Gandalf. Don’t you have a ring to save or something??”

My fellow passengers chuckled.

Clearly, missing my Lord of the Rings reference, he moved on to the next victim. One by one, like some scary Wizard from World of Warcraft, he pointed to different passengers on the train and cast out their sins and weaknesses. God, where was Leroy Jenkins when you needed him?... He proceeded to tell us about the plight of the Jews, and how there were no “real” Jews left anymore except for the ones in Israel. The rest were Orange Jews, Apple Jews, and Cranberry Jews. I snickered under my breath. Gotta appreciate a crazy person with a sense of humor. Finally, when he reached the end of the car, he turned around to face us all, threw up his hands in some utter gibberish… and closed his eyes as if he had disappeared. Um, no… sorry sir.. we still see you. He turned back to the door, to move to the next car, and slammed the door behind him. The entire car erupted in laughter. It wasn’t exactly a Saturday afternoon church service, but it was as spiritual as a subway ride gets.

Half way through Brooklyn, and still no where near my destination. The train had nearly cleared itself out. The drunk had wandered off after finishing his meal; though I’m pretty sure he had no clue where he was heading. The Carebear had vacated his seat and moved to another car when Merlin came through. Now all that was left was me, a cute boy with one of those trendy haircuts, and a homeless guy. Well, maybe he wasn’t homeless, but he certainly had a phobia of showering.

The cute boy had situated himself in the seat next to me, which was a welcomed change from the Drunk Cannibal. He introduced himself. His name was Ryann, with two N’s. We spent the next several stops exchanging commentary on the day’s events. This guy was totally vibing me. He laughed at my jokes, my cute little quips, and seemed generally interested in our conversation. Then, I asked him if he knew the FSU score which he quickly denied. Turns out, he really wasn’t much of a sports fan, but he could name the entire cast of Gypsy. Hmm.. Something wasn’t quite right.. this boy.. was just “too pretty” and too put together. He matched everything down to shoes perfectly. He had one of those trendy messenger bags instead of a Jansport. And he even…. Knew my bag was the new Coach line. Jenn. Wait. Your subway car named “Desire” is gay. Damn it, another one bites the dust.

The next stop was the last for my new shopping partner. We exchanged Facebook invites, and went our separate ways. Now, it was just me… and the Ablutophobe. And here is where my adventures took a turn for the worst. The train was now deep in the heart of Brooklyn, and there was no one getting on or off. Or so I thought.

Apparently, Metro Transit of NYC was doing work on the 2 Line that weekend and that meant they had extended delays and stops along the track. I felt like I was at Disneyland, trapped on “It’s a Small World,” while they retrieved some kids mouse ears from the lagoon in the Hawaiian room. So there we sat. Me and the human form of Oscar the Grouch. I kept my head down and focused on my blackberry and made no eye contact with my fellow passenger. He on the other hand, watched me intently, following my every move. The train came to a dead stop. We weren’t at a stop, or even in a well lit area. The lights on the train flickered. What the hell is going on?.. Is this out of some kind of horror movie?..Was I being punk’d? What ever it was.. I wanted out. When the lights came back up, Oscar was sitting across from me, like the “Me Scusie” guy in Eurotrip…. with no pants on. Turns out I wasn’t being punk’d, I was being junk’d.

There he sat. In all his 60-something-year-old glory, or what was left of it. He stared at me, expressionless waiting to get a reaction out of me, but I gave him nothing. The train suddenly started moving again, and within minutes we had reached the place where the subway turns around. When the doors opened, I leapt from my seat, turned to Oscar and said…”Maybe try it in the summer, not so much shrinkage.” And then, I ran. Reaching the top of the stairs proved to be like digging a huge hole in a bad cartoon, the kind where you emerged on the other side and a Chinese man was staring at you eating fried rice. I was in an entirely different country, but at least I had survived my journey.

It turns out that even with my crazy adventures; I still managed to make my audition time. I slated for the camera, gave them my best smile.. then was asked to do improve about a day in my life.

“Boy do I have a story for you… “

The ride home was far less eventful than the trek to Brooklyn thank god. After I had finished refilling my subway card at Penn, I noticed a family of tourists struggling to figure out the card dispensing machines. The dad was flailing his arms around, while the wife watched in embarrassment while trying to keep tabs on her two kids in the busy subway platform. Hoping my act of kindness would inspire others; I walked over and showed them how to buy a Metrocard for their stay. The two parents thanked me graciously, as they herded their kids through the turnstiles. As I turned to walk up the stairs they asked.. “Hey, by the way.. do you know how to get to Brooklyn??”

I smiled. They had no idea what they were in for.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Confessions of a Cliché A$$hole

This past weekend, I spent lounging on the sands of South Beach with some of my favorite people in the whole wide world: my girlfriends. No worries, no drama, no internet, but most importantly… NO BOYS ALLOWED. That’s right.. we were on a “Mancation.” You see, even though its been months since Average Joe kicked up a shit storm in my life, I’m still picking up the pieces like FEMA. With boys, comes the inevitable drama: of ex girlfriends, new girlfriends, and just pesky girls with nothing better to do. So, to avoid all the nonsense and hoopla, we decided to stick to the boys we already know and love.. the Boys of Summer.
Er, uh… Spring Training.

Night before I left, I checked my emails and Facebook as I was about to do something I hadn't done in years: be without the internet. It wasn’t like South Beach didn’t have technology, but my girlfriends and I had made a pact to not log in to Facebook, MySpace, even our own personal email. It was the best way to avoid any exposure to any outside drama. Besides, a vacation is supposed to be an escape, and how the hell can you escape if you are updating your status messages. Rifling through all my unread messages on Facebook is quite a task. Most are just random “Please Add Me’s” and notes of encouragement, but every once in a while one note sticks out from the rest. This time it was the title that caught my eye. “Confessions of a Cliché A$$hole.” Intrigued, I opened the letter, and began to scroll through his opening paragraph. He first apologized for the length of his letter, as it seemed to scroll for days. Then, went on to tell me a little bit about himself. He was 20-some-odd years old, a New Yorker born and raised, now living in the south, and as he so eloquently described himself… a “cliché a$$hole.”

Though it bruised his former fist pumping ego to admit it, he told me reading my blogs had become his new secret guilty pleasure, but he personally related to one in particular… Average Joe. The reason he reached out to me… was Cliché a$$hole was a reformed cliché a$$hole. He pulled the same maneuvers, used the same lines, and did the same dirty deeds as Average Joe. At first I thought I was being punk’d. I mean, was this Joe himself, or one of his mutants, or maybe it really was just some random stranger. Turns out the kids in high school were right; the answer really always is “C.” The next few paragraphs that followed were nothing short of a serious case of déjà vu…

“This is going to be the closest thing to the truth you've ever heard about dudes: Every guy is born a nice guy that wants to meet a girl and fall in love. Somewhere along the way, one girl ( just one) who he thinks is perfect for him, that he opens up to, buys flowers for, pulls chairs out for -- all that good stuff guys do at age 21 - 29 to get a girl in the sack... only this time he wasn't trying to get in bed-- he was for real. That girl f@#$ed him up - cheated on him, dumped him for some dbag she hooked up with the next day, rejected him with no explanation---any of these plus hundreds of other possibilities. The only thing that matters is somehow she broke his heart and made it look like she didn't care because girls, as I'm sure you know, can be heartless bitches at times. I stress 'at times', because they aren't by nature but do it maybe once or twice. Guys have a hard time forgetting those one or two times, and girls just tend to be a hell of a lot more forgiving for the sake of a relationship. For a guy, it takes one girl to f@#$ it up. Once that one girl comes along, ‘home base’ is to be an a$$hole.”

He continued on with this National Geographic “Life Among the Gorillas”-esque look in to the inner workings of this Northeastern breed of the male species. Though parts may have been slightly varied, probably to protect his own reputation or ego, the main theme of “home base” continued through out the letter. Any time the damaged guy got close to something that might feel right, might feel effortless, it was his natural animalistic reaction to respond in a vicious recoil and return to “a$$hole.” It’s not like he really meant to hurt the girl, its just that he wasn’t prepared to let go of the damage done to himself just yet, and he knew it was only a matter of time this new girl would have the ability to hurt him. There it was. In black and white. The answers Joe never gave me. It was the most brutally honest piece of truth I have read in a long time. And with that, I closed my lap top, and began my journey to paradise.

Four and a half some-odd hours later, we arrived at Hotel Victor on Ocean Drive. And may I say.. it was nothing short of perfect. The five of us ran around the rooms like high school girls on their first Spring break, checking out all the amazing amenities my buddy Landy, and the hotel had set up for us. Amongst the many picture taking, the claiming of the beds, and bits of unpacking, I just fell on to the bed.. and listened to the ocean. I… was home.

Part of being from the great state of Florida is getting a sneak peak at the upcoming baseball season. Sure, it’s Spring Training.. so none of it really counts, and it has no real relevance to how the season itself will REALLLLY pan out… but it sure as hell beats sitting around waiting for March Madness to get going.

So, on Saturday afternoon my girlfriends and I loaded ourselves up into my Shelby, rolled down the windows, and blasted some Britney spears as loud as my speakers would allow.. And made our way to Jupiter. No, not the planet, but Jupiter, Florida where the Florida Marlins have their spring training. My buddy Dan had promised me a day in the sun, and a good game of baseball. And he didn't disappoint. It had been months since I had worn a pair of shorts, so long I had almost forgotten what my legs even looked like. The temperature wasn't too hot, or too cold, it was just right. When you’ve spent the greater majority of the past few months of your life holed up in your apartment, wavering in and out of moments of self pity. You forget those simple things that made you smile.. Kicking back in the stands at a baseball game, eating a ridiculously gross ballpark hotdog that you pray doesn't have too many crazy animal parts in it, laughing at your girlfriends as they drink beer from a straw... Or your one friend that despite her diminutive stature has the lung capacity to make her earnest attempts at heckling heard throughout the ballpark. I believe her exact words were... Knuckledragger?? I had forgotten that the sun does remember to show its face when its not cockblocked by 10 inches of falling snow, and like every year, spring did keep its promise and show up on time. I used to think fall was my favorite season of the year, because well, fall meant my other favorite season had arrived.. Football season. But when fall came and went over a single weekend in October, and left me with this awful freeze, I couldn't help but feel a tad bit shafted. All it took was a few days in the south Florida sun to realize... That like most things in fashion, fall suddenly seemed “so last season,” and spring, was in fact “the new fall.”

As I sat on the first base line, my mind couldn’t help but wander back to Cliché A$$hole’s words. Maybe he was right. Men didn’t mean to be bad; they weren’t even born that way. They simply evolved as a means of survival, as a means of getting past that one “Molly Connelly” in their life. It certainly didn’t make their behavior excusable, but it did shed some light on an otherwise dim situation. Maybe Joe was just returning to whatever was familiar, regardless of how it hurt him before and the damage it caused. We all know how that story will end, because rarely do people really change. But, if chasing that “what if” helped him sleep at night, and feel like he gave it a shot then.. so be it. Who was I to be the girl standing on the third base line blocking the plate?.. The answer was.. I wouldn’t. Sure, I could put up a fight in a “pickle” and throw the ball between home and third, home and third.. but all I would be doing is playing little league ball. And let’s face it, I’m just too old and too uncoordinated for that crap. If being an a$$hole was what kept him feeling “safe,” then so be it.. but I didn’t have to subject myself to it. I'd take my ball, and go home. I’d play my own game, one where you didn’t have to be an a$$hole to protect yourself… because you don’t get involved with people you have to protect yourself from in the first place.

The rest of the weekend was a blur. The kind of stuff legends are made of. I can’t divulge all the crazy details, but I can tell you that it was Legend.. wait for it.. DARY. As we sat around Sunday brunch reviving our livers, the conversation turned from giggles, to sentimental. It had been such a long time since we had all come together, that this weekend had come at the perfect time. We were all either over worked, overstressed, or overly heartbroken. Our time in the Miami sun had certainly lifted our spirits, but more than that… it had rebuilt our friendships. All the time I had spent in the miserable cold with no real friends to hang out with had left me feeling like Carrie Bradshaw with no girlfriends, and certainly no Mr. Big. I needed my voice of reason, my party girl enabler, my bodyguard, and my personal comedian. All of my friends have their different roles, and to me… it makes them an irreplaceable part of my life.

As I touched down in NYC on Thursday, I was greeted by a burst of bitter cold air on the jet way. Sigh. Home Swoot Home. A short cab ride later, I plopped my bags on the floor, and booted up my computer. There in my overloaded inbox… was a letter.

“Hope you had a great time on your trip… and you’re looking ahead to bigger and better things.
Cliché A$$hole.”

I guess Cliché A$$hole wasn’t such an a$$hole after all. The funny thing is… he was right.. I was looking ahead for once. And for the first time in a long time, I was happy about where I was heading.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Average Joe

Since that fateful day in September of 2005, my life has had its ups and downs. It’s hard enough being a single girl in today’s mean dating pool. My mother tells me every day she doesn’t know how I do it sometimes, how I put myself out there the way I do. For those of you that read my blog on a regular occasion, you have been there with me, through the good dates, the bad dates, and the ugly dates. Many of you write me comments, or personal notes about your own similar situations, that I take a lot of comfort in receiving. I may not be able to answer all of you, simply due to the sheer volume of messages I receive on the daily, but I assure I read every single one of them. Some of you tell me I am dating the wrong guys, and that may be partially true. Some of you say I date jocks, or guidos, or narcissistic pretty boys… and I am sure there have been one or two of those archetypes in my dating resume, but it is by no means fair to lump them all together. I won’t lie. There have been quasi-celebrities, sports figures, and various public personas hidden in my thinly veiled relationship blogs, but I have always respected their privacy, and certainly never ousted them no matter how badly things ended. But intermixed with the familiar faces, were the regular guys, the everyday guys, and the “Average Joes.”

This is one of those stories.

I had been seeing this guy for quite a while.. well, especially when most NYC relationships last about as long as the small sizes on a sale rack at Bloomingdale's. He was seemingly an amazing guy, who was the true definition of what any man should be: he was kind, considerate, and prided himself on doing right by others. He wasn't really my type physically, but, it didn't stop us from hitting it off from the moment we meant. We’ll call him Joe. Joe was the kind of guy that just didn’t care what people thought. He was going to party, and be the life of it. Some people can walk in, and just own a room. Well, Joe was the electricity that kept the lights on.

He was so much fun to be around it almost made me forget the months of misery I have endured in the past year. Unfortunately, we were both fresh out of mentally and emotionally abusive relationships, so neither of us was quite ready to make the jump back into the fire. So instead, we decided to take things as they came to us, and just wait and see what evolved. We began spending a ton of time together, to the point where even my door guys eventually stopped interrogating and frisking him upon his arrival. I guess most people around us just assumed we were dating. But you know what they say about assuming.. “It only makes an ass out of you and me.”
Apparently in this case, it was just me.

We were out at dinner one night, when Joe brought up the subject of relationships. He knew my theories on giving things official titles. I've always been from the school of thought that if you don't label it, it has a better chance of survival. He on the other hand, was familiar with my dating history and was slightly intimidated by the roster of predecessors. Not like there weren't plenty of average decent guys on there, but there were also a few names that came with that certain edge of intimidation. Joe was always scared that he couldn't be everything I wanted and that I'd inevitably “one up” him when something better presented itself. He said he felt like I was ashamed of him, when in reality, he couldn't have been further from the truth. I liked the fact he was normal, unpretentious, and didn't seem to be easily phased by the attention I received. I liked the fact he did something noble with his life and worked with underprivileged kids in bad neighborhoods. I think it made him more of a compassionate, understanding individual. It kept his party boy persona in check.

I guess somewhere along there, between leaving his job with the kids, and accepting a new position doing something far less noble, he forgot the reasons why I liked him in the first place. He became someone else, someone I wasn’t quite sure I even “liked.” He was like Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde. Only, Dr. Jekyll began making fewer, and fewer appearances.

One night Joe and I had made plans to have a nice dinner at home together. I had spent all day shopping and planning this elaborate Italian meal, including learning how to make an amazing meat sauce, as I have been informed that serving sauce out of a jar in this part of the country is considered blasphemy. It started to get late so I texted him, asking “where he was, if he was okay,” as this was generally out of character for him. No answer. So when midnight rolled around, and I still had no date, I arrived at the saddening conclusion.. That I had been stood up.

Every bit of that dinner went bad, as I had suddenly lost my appetite.

Fast forward to a week later. I was out on the town, at one of Joe and my normal haunts when I was confronted by a blond girl.. I had no earthly idea who the girl was til she launched in on me regarding my “relationship” with Joe. She told me she was his “ex girlfriend, whom he still regularly asked to get back together with.” And that she “had no idea I even existed.” She then proceeded to tell me how I had “never mattered to him, and that I was insignificant.” Then she dropped this bomb..

“Sweetheart, did you honestly think you could compete with what we had?? That a few months could surpass everything we have been through??.. Aww.. you did, didn’t you?.. That is sooooo sweet.”

I could feel my face flushing, and my eyes beginning to water. There were stood, in a crowded room of people, all of whom had gathered to watch these two trains that were gunning for a collision that was my life. I was on the verge of a breakdown, while she sat there… and SMILED. Why had no one stepped up yet?.. Why had no one pulled her off of me?.. What kind of REAL woman operates like this? Furthermore, what kind of man, if you can call him that allows his ex to do this to the girl he has been seeing?? I gathered my things, and what was left of my self esteem and soul and left the bar, without so much as a word to Joe.

My dating experiences in NYC have really been enlightening. They just make me feel incredibly sad for this generation of guys that don’t realize when they have found that one person who is so great, and they f*ck it up. Most just walk away and continue to live their lives as if the other half never existed, while there are others that return and try to make it all better after the fact. I guess it’s just youth, because when you’re young it is so easy to look ahead to the rest of your life. But then, there comes this one moment of clarity when you get older, when you realize the defining moment that changed the outcome of your life. Then, you spend the few years you have left torturing yourself on all the really stupid decisions you made...especially on the good people you let slip out of your life.

Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens. Why had an Average Joe’s past come back to haunt me?... Until he and I had started talking, the ex was a non issue. She only wanted him back, once she realized he had in fact found something better… something that wouldn’t cheat on him, lie to him, or sleep around. The circumstances surrounding her confronting me that night were all wrong. The fact, I was just an innocent bystander in their unresolved issues. Then I realized, the two of them were still living in the past, still living in the hurt… while causing a world of pain in my present. It’s always been my belief that people who live in the past generally are afraid to compete in the present. I've got my faults, but living in the past is not one of them. There's no future in it. Unfortunately, with my career goals, and my drive… I’m perceived as a bit of a gamble, even despite my other endearing qualities. But, he knows how their story ends… she was a sure thing, a safety net. Sure, it hurts, but maybe its all for the best. I will always be the Anna Scott to his Average Joe. He just couldn’t handle being with something like that regardless of the fact it just “worked” effortlessly.

I haven't seen Joe since that night, though I did get an email from him, that simply said "not a day goes by I don't think about you."

If only that were really true.

Who's Number 1??

ADMIN UPDATE: OK, ya, these last few posts by Jenn are a little late...sorry...I'll get better...:)

It’s 20-some-odd degrees outside right now. Earlier today, we had this winter mix crap roll through, which for those unfamiliar with northeast weather terminology… it sucks. It’s kind of like snow, but enough like rain to leave you soaking wet and miserable. Why on earth did I even bother leaving my house???..

Though, this was not my first winter in NYC, it has certainly been the least interrupted one. I haven’t made as many jaunts down to Florida to visit my friends and family. And that alone has left this Southern belle feeling a little down in the dumps. How else are you supposed to feel when every day you look out your window it’s gray, murky, and misery? Even when the sun rolls in, it’s really only a farce to lure you outside long enough for you to realize that it is in fact.. still 20 degrees. Sucker.

While football is kicking up, and your days at Jones Beach are dwindling, more and more people are coupling up and setting in for a long winter’s… “something.” It was during a weekend afternoon, commonly referred to as Sunday Funday that I was introduced to the theory of “Winter Number 1’s and Winter Number 2’s.” The theory behind this “ingenious” idea was that you paired up with a designated someone of the opposite sex, in order to have a cuddle buddy for the rest of winter. A guy picks a girl they don't mind spending time with, so long as it’s freezing outside and bar hopping with their buddies is a lot less appealing. Once summer’s warm temperatures roll in, and you all report to your summer houses of debauchery along whatever shore it is you prefer, your relationship status becomes null and void. Many women up here are totally familiar with this dating concept. In fact, up here, it appears to be much of a standard procedure. – And for those of you playing the home edition, you may be asking yourself, why is there a Winter Number 2??.. Well, everyone needs a back up plan.

This whole notion of winter relationships though has one giant flaw. People, real people, have feelings. At some point, between the bar crawling, weekend afternoons of awesomeness, and huddling for warmth, something no one expects happens. You have that one moment where you stop and think to yourself, this could actually be perfect, this could be something more. That’s the difference; More times than not, its fairly easy to dismiss certain people or random dates from our lives because, there was never that moment of “clarity.” In fact. I usually have just the opposite. I have that, “well, this will be fun while it lasts” moment. But, with the real deal, you discover you have created actual memories about specific events the two of you have shared. Thus, the whole premise behind Winter 1’s and 2’s is severely flawed, unless you can find a girl that is a willing participant in your shenanigans. But, odds are if she is willing to take part in your games, then she is probably playing her own, Milton Bradley. And is that the kind of woman you really want to have a relationship, let alone a physical one with anyway?

For me, it’s hard to wrap my head around the idea of someone being disposable just because of a change in seasons. It’s that very naivety that may have actually made me a victim of this foreign concept a time or two myself. I’d try to play like I understood the rules of the game, when in reality it was much more like a kid trying to play rugby that had spent most of his life playing American football. The balls may look similar, but that is where the comparisons end. I’d try to be lighthearted about the fact I knew this relationship would last as long as a newly bought carton of milk in my fridge, but in reality the idea of knowing how this story would end was quite disheartening. I once joked that I would have my lawyer draw up standard papers for our imminent divorce, to which everyone would just smile and laugh, but in reality, I was like a clown at the circus: laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.

Part of being one of the guys is unfortunately saying things you think men want to hear, or that make you appear to not be the glass case of emotion so many women are. You are constantly thinking like a man, and in his lifestyle, that you often lose track of why he may have actually liked you in the first place. Maybe that is why I constantly find myself trapped in the friend zone. Because while guys may respect a woman for being an independent, Angelina Jolie-esque, “I don’t need a man” bad ass, it often leads to nothing more than a few good nights of debauchery with the guys. Some would argue my outlook on life would make me a perfect candidate for a winter girlfriend. I’m fun, outgoing, can hang with the fellas, but in reality they couldn’t be further from the truth. Behind the ballsy tough girl exterior, is a super sensitive Southern girl, with larger than life feelings. And girls with feelings, well.. we just don’t make good Winter girlfriends.

When I told some of my friends down south about this “Winter 1’s & 2’s” theory, most just seemed baffled. Don’t get me wrong, my guy friends down south are far from angelic, and have done their fair share of slimy things in their day, but this whole concept of having girls be willing participants in this game, was just mind-blowing. And don’t get me started on my girlfriend’s opinions on the subject. They hated the fact that the relationship was essentially dead in the water from day one, because its days were precisely calculated with the changing of the seasons. Some argued whether or not a winter girlfriend could ever become something more. But one brought up the interesting hypothetical: “If someone told you how your relationship would play out from beginning to end, would you still go through with it?” It was one of those questions that sparked a lot of heated debate amongst the girls, simply because as cynical as I may appear, I am a true romantic at heart and I want to believe that anything is possible. But, when someone tells you there is absolutely no future possible between you two, is the juice really worth the squeeze??

Can Winter Number Ones and Twos ever evolve, or are they destined to be just that? It would be a shame to never see the full range in dynamics of a person in the different seasons. Think of all the cool things you'll miss by not seeing this scenario really play out: Opening day at Yankee stadium, Fourth of July fireworks, the public drunkenness of a Hoboken St Patty’s day.. I mean, you haven’t even seen them in a swimsuit yet. The point is, for all the special memories you can create in winter they'll never compare to the potential ones you could create in the warmth of summer. Like many, I'm a happier person in spring and summer and parts of fall only because I don't cope well with winter, when seasonal depression is in full effect.

If two people turn out to be truly compatible, well... they're only cheating themselves by putting punctuation at the end of a relationship that isn’t complete yet. I guess, at some point, you have to be ready to draw a line in the snow and say I want more than this. If they aren't willing to pony up, then maybe Winter Number 2 will. Besides, baseball season is only weeks away… a new season, a new start, and everyone starts off with the perfect record.

How I survived another Singles Awareness Day

ADMIN UPDATE: OK, ya, these last few posts by Jenn are a little late...sorry...I'll get better...:)

It seems every day I am mystified by the behavior of men around me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am definitely “one of the guys” when it comes to my way of thinking, but still.. their inability to really understand and cohabitate the earth peacefully with the females around them astounds me.

Take for example, my roomie Christian, who you guys may affectionately know as “Spot.” He has spent the past few nights streaming live video feed from our house, with no real premise or agenda. He’s just capturing his day to day life, whatever that may be. The other night, he spent his time on “Spotcenter” cleaning the inside of his shower, while 80 some-odd people watched. REALLY?.. Is this what life has come to when we are watching a 28 year old dude clean his showers so as to not disgust his girlfriend during her upcoming visit?.. I felt like I was watching the gorillas at the zoo, in their “natural habitat,” or as natural as one can act when they know they are being watched. (Please, don’t tap on the glass... he tends to get very angry.) Or maybe you caught his Valentine’s Day special where he stole one of my pink bras and stamped a red heart on his cheek just to be “festive?”

Then there is my buddy Mike, who decided as part of he and his live in girlfriend’s “fitness theme” of 2009, decided to buy her a treadmill as a Valentine’s Day gift. REALLLLLLLLLY Mike?.. A Treadmill?... Why don’t you just dangle a box of chocolates from a fishing line in front of her attached to a gift certificate for liposuction?.. Way to go buddy.

Then, there are a number of my other male friends that pride themselves on being “AWESOME.” Everything in their lives revolves around having the best time humanly possible. Think “fraternity” with no dues, no rules, just a good old time. Much of being awesome revolves around getting “faced” (intoxicated) and picking up girls. That’s why the majority of them are still single and celebrate Valentine’s Day every year with their own tradition, “The Lonely Hearts Club.”

Don’t get me twisted, I see nothing wrong with being “awesome” and having a good time. In fact, that statement pretty much sums up my entire college experience. But, at the same time, I know when it’s last call for awesomeness, and time to grow up. After all, is it worth being awesome, if you will always be alone???..

Society has expectations for men to behave a certain way, a dangerous and break-up provoking combination of overly macho and extremely juvenile. We live in a world where doing nice things for girls makes a man a “pussy” or "gay". Newsflash! It’s not gay: I'm a girl. You’re supposed to go out of your way to be sweet, and polite, and a tad chivalrous every now and then. It’s not about opening doors and laying your nice coats in puddles, it’s simply about being a good human being. So while watching Music and Lyrics and Notting Hill may not be your idea of a good time, it shows your ability to sacrifice watching Bruce Willis blow up shit for two and a half hours with Carl Winslow-- all for the sake of making your woman happy.

Instead of spending Valentine’s Day with some random date for the sake of not being alone-- that and the fact I was coming down with a nasty bout of the flu made me a terrible make out partner-- I decided my time was better spent playing matchmaker in my own sick twisted way: picking up a shift at my buddy’s bar. Sure I wasn’t matching people “based on more than 26 points of their long-term compatibility” like, but I was certainly doing my part by helping hapless saps find romance on a night where being alone, plus drinking equals… the second highest rate of suicides, next to “Holidays.” And THAT, my friends, was reason enough for me.

Valentine’s Day has forever ranked in my mind right up there with getting a tooth pulled, or possibly the girl equivalent of the old “turn your head and cough” routine. It was pure misery. A disaster waiting to happen. It seemed somehow, someway, no matter how perfect life and relationships seemed to be going, something was bound to come along and screw it up. This theory dates way back to my days as a lonely fourth grader. You know, the age where boys stopped having cooties, and suddenly weren’t the disgusting mutants you and your girlfriends used to throw sand at on the playground. Now, kids in my grade were having boyfriends and girlfriends. Unless you were me that is. I was a chubby cheeked, ringlet wearing, Curly Sue stunt double. Though a bit of a nerd, I was always the sweetheart and hopeless romantic.. hoping that if I let my crush, Kyle (as we will call him for all intents and purposes) copy off my spelling test, he may sit next to me at the lunch table, or better yet, leave a Valentine for me in my Valentine’s Day mailboxes we had all fashioned out of our parents crusty, old shoe boxes. Of course, when Valentine’s Day rolled around, and the cards had been handed out and counted, somehow Kyle’s Valentine to me.. was no where to be found. Never mind the fact, all the pretty girls like Megan, and Ashley got cards from Kyle. Somehow.. the mailman must have lost mine, either that. or perhaps Kyle was just too “awesome” and cool to be bothered with someone like me. I guess that’s why they call it a crush. If it didn’t hurt so much, they’d call it something else.

Nearly fifteen years or so later, I am still plagued by the same problem: Always picking the “awesome” boy, the Barney Stinson’s of the world, over people who may really be worth it. Maybe that is because I think I can change, or save them. Or because I think I see something in them that no one else could. Both of these could be entirely accurate, or maybe it’s the fact that I just have spent the past twenty years of my life making the same mistakes in my choosing of Valentines.

So this year, I sacrificed my own single awesomeness for the greater good, and joined my own lonely hearts club aimed at helping other lonely hearts.. not be so lonely. A ‘rum and coke’ and a ‘gin and tonic,’ may not give you the same warm and fuzzy feeling a real life Valentine will, but a couple of Jaegerbombs could certainly heat things up a little. Two by two the patrons seemed to leave in pairs til finally we closed the bar. Everyone it seems… went home happy.

I may not have built lasting marriages and unions, but Jenn Sterger helped find someone’s Mrs. right (now) that night. Sometimes people need a little help from their friends and friendly neighborhood bartenders to get past their “Kyles” and demons, and get back out into the dating pool. And I had seemingly accomplished just that. I left the bar sometime after three AM, and spent the rest of the evening on my bathroom floor, hugging the toilet, and battling my flu. Ugh. It may not be a boy, but hey.. at least it was something to kiss.

That kids, is how I survived another Valentine’s Day in the trenches. After all, love is a battlefield. And while we may not win every battle, we will certainly win the war.