The Adonis of Derry

So I arrive in Derry the day after my date. I'm staying in a room with this gorgeous, perfectly proportioned boy going to Georgetown. I'm fairly certain he was interested in me. But I deflected his flirts. I think this is a sign of maturity. A few years ago I would have been totally into him. He wanted me to go to a pub with him and the others Saturday night but I declined. A few years ago, I would have gone with them and flirted as much as I could and then when he was drunk enough let him kiss me, a lot, for a long time. Then I'd have to stop him and tell him we aren't having sex. Which part is always not fun. That doesn't appeal to me anymore the way it used to. It really kind of sucks actually. But I did enjoy waking up in the morning to see him walking around the room without his shirt on with his golden skin and chest glowing in the morning sunlight. I don't think you grow out of enjoying that.

It's a darn good thing this boy had that stupid long hair. He reminded me of the surfer boys I went to high school with and that curbed my attraction to him. If he had short hair there might've been problems. He probably would've made me stupid.

I don't even regret not going for it with the guy, (he was all pouty the day after I spurned his pub invite.) This shows major growth for me I think.

Waiting to hear from Dublin about what he wants to do next week with his holidays!

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He Stealth Dated Me

Ah, yes. And now I will write the details of my stealth date with the home teacher (aka HT).

Here's how it happened. I had avoided him a bit since the BBQ when he made it unmistakably clear that he had new interests in me. But Monday morning he called in the morning when he know I'd be sleeping and wouldn't answer the phone. He left a strange message saying that he had a question for me, no he didn't, yes he did. He's subletting his place and wants to know if I'm interested blah blah. I called him back later in the afternoon. I told him I had 3 days left in the country. He asked me if I had plans for Tuesday night. I did not. He said he'd be cooking dinner and could cook for both of us if I'd like to come over. It could be my farewell dinner. I said yes.

I wondered if he had special plans for the evening but I thought it not likely. He's cooked me dinner before and we hung out in his place for hours just talking. I didn't think he'd have the initiative to actually make a move.

Tuesday night as I walked up his block, I saw him on his neighbor's stoop, they're old friends and had talked about real estate stuff. HT surprised me by wearing a button-down, collared linen shirt and his fancy flip flops. He was working the southern california cool look. He looked at me and said, "So, I was thinking of going out to eat instead. I don't really feel like cooking." !!! I know he had to see the surprise and shock in my face. He gave me three options of food venues, all real restaurants, and also asked if I had a favorite place I'd like to go to instead. I told him that I don't eat at restaurants that don't have value-meals or cost over $5 so I had no favorite restaurant. I told him to choose because I was tired of making decisions. So we took the subway to the west-side, to one of his favorite italian restaurants, Pomodoro. It was excellent.

The atmospere definitely aimed for romance, with candles and all. He ordered an appetizer for us to split. At this point, I figured this must be a date. But I still prepared to pay for the meal and not expect anything from the man who surprised me so many times before. HT even complimented me on the shirt I had on, he'd never done that before. Then, before the appetizer he said he hasn't been out in ages. I said me too. Then he said he hasn't had a date in months, not since he went out with Cruella. I told him I had him beat because I hadn't been on a date since December and that hardly counted anyway. Even I know that this meant he wanted this to be a date and was letting me know that too. I was so pleased to be out somewhere nice, he is actually a good date and not rude at all.

That lead me to the conclusion that last summer he was rude to me to make sure I didn't think he wanted to date me. Good to know but I wish he had made it clearer then. We had a nice meal and then ordered desserts. When the check came I asked if he wanted to split it evenly between us and he said no. I asked if he was sure and he said no again, this was his going away gift.

He invited me to watch a movie with him at his place but I declined since I had so much to do. But after the meal I walked to his apt. to see if the fan he picked up off the curb worked or not. I laughed that he carried the big industrial fan all the way back to Harlem. We bet $5 on whether it worked or not. It did work but made a hideous noise. So I said we had a draw, since it worked but was unusable. He walked me out to the street and gave me a hug. Then he kissed me on the cheek and left his arm around my shoulders longer than necessary. I thanked him for dinner and he told me to email him while away. He asked me to call him when I got home and he'd give me his email address.

Ok, so HT had NEVER kissed me on the cheek before in all the two years we've known each other. And it was a sloppy one too. The next day he called me to say goodbye and said we'd talk about stuff when I got home. We don't have any stuff to talk about. Unless he wants us to have some stuff to talk about and that's the stuff he wants to talk about. So, that was a real date. I was excited because it had been so long, actually 10 months since a man had taken me out to dinner. It's really nice to eat with someone and have their undivided attention for a few hours.

I haven't emailed him yet. Time is running out on my internet card. The end for now.

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I have to move to Ireland!

I'm here safe and sound now. I didn't arrive very soundly since I hadn't slept in two days straight and had to wait until 2 pm to get into my room. I arrived at 6 am. Since then I have slept more soundly then I can remember. I actually took a nap this afternoon! I haven't had a real dead-asleep nap in more than a year. It's so wonderful to wake without stress, to breathe the clean air, smell trees on the rain. I saw the Book of Kells on Saturday and a very cool statue of Oscar Wilde reclining on a large stone in a bright green smoking jacket and he's wearing gold rings. I've been wandering around a lot, that's my favorite thing to do in a new city. Went to church today and it was fantastic. Got invited to the YSA fireside at the stake center tonight and was given a ride by one such single!

My posts from here will be shorter. It costs 2 euros for 40 minutes which is 2.60 us. But, I've already got stuff to write about after tonight and I'm probably going to a YSA party/fhe tomorrow night too!

My first impression which hasn't changed yet is that Ireland is the South of Britain. And I mean that in a positive way. The people are much friendlier than England and Scotland and it's cleaner and they seem to take a lot more care with the appearance of the town and buildings.

I LOVE IT HERE!! I Love the Lord, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to see this part of the world. I'll try not to waste a minute of it.
Read more later.

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So sorry but

I have been 'packing since 10 pm and it's now 6 am and i have completed almost nothing because I have ADD and packing is a total nightmare for me. I feel like I've been stuck in a mirror maze funhouse for hours and hours and hours. I can't organize, or keep track, or make little decisions....I leave in about 8 hours and have nothing packed and still have errands to run. So, I'm not going to be able to write about my date until later. I really meant to. This wasn't supposed to be this bad. I always forget I'm so packing-retarded.

I want to scream. I did scream. Several times. Check back in a couple days. But I can tell you HT called to say goodbye and to give me his email address. The last thing he said was that he'll see me when I get back and we can talk about stuff. Unless he is in Spain for the rest of the summer. So, if he's around I guess we'll discuss our dating or not. I'm leaning towards not.

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Guess What?

HT took me out on a real, actual non-ambiguous date tonight! He paid and wasn't wearing a t-shirt.

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The Flirting Line of Death

Months later I told one of my girlfriends about what happened. She didn't know what went wrong. I said that I didn't understand northern men. Why do they always ask stupid questions like, "What do you do for fun?" I told her the sexy prof had asked me that, as did all the other men I've flirted with in this city. But none of them ever went any further. She asked how I answered the question. "I tell them the truth, 'I don't have the time or money to do anything fun.'" She almost fell on the floor laughing. She pounded her hand on the table of the restaurant and it took a few minutes for her to calm down. Everyone stared at us.

Then she explained. "That question is a lead-in to asking you out. You are supposed to say something like, 'going to the movies' or 'going to see plays' so they can say, 'Me too, do you want to go to...? EVERYONE knows that!" She laughed again. And then some more. "Oh. I didn't know that." She explained that when I answered 'I do nothing', they really heard me say: "I'd rather sit at home bored and do nothing then go out and do something with you loser, so don't even think about asking me out!" That's what she found so funny. I wanted to cry I was so horrified.

So I had insulted all those men I wanted to go out with. Brilliant. How was I supposed to know all this? Not everyone is born with common sense, especially those of us who spend too much time in our heads. Men think I'm rejecting them when I'm really just clueless. I should probably work on that.

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Pub Games: NJ vs. Mass

They came from all over. Internationals and locals converged on the city to attend our graduate conference of 2003. Ok, it wasn't that many people, but some from out of state. A large contingent from the New Jersey University came because our keynote speaker was one of theirs. One guy from Massachusettes came to give a paper, he somehow knew all the Jersey people. I actually went to his reading. It wasn't that great, but I asked a question. Which is thrilling enough for me, it makes me so nervous. A gentleman in the back of the room asked some questions too. He had an English accent and looked familiar to me. When the session ended, I walked towards the exit and looked at the man. He looked back. He had greenish-blue eyes behind his steel rimmed glasses. And crazy hair, dark with silver streaks. He looked like Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but cuter, and way less uptight.

Then I recognized him. I had seen him a few weeks earlier at a seminar somewhere else, when the Oxford don I wrote my thesis on discussed his latest book. I asked one of the first questions then kept asking because he didn't answer it, so I know I stood out. (I was also one of the four women out of 40 people there.) This professor had been there and sat opposite me at the table. He might have remembered me. So I smiled as I passed him and went out the door. A minute later, he came out to the hall with the Mass guy and the Jersey student with the ponytail. He asked me and Kyle where they could eat dinner. We told them we had planned a conference dinner at a restaurant afterward. Then I asked the English professor, "Weren't you at that symposium with __(Oxford Don's name excluded to protect the innocent) ?" He said, "Yes. I remember you, you were there too." We both smiled.

We didn't talk again until hours later, when the group walked to the Chinese restaurant for dinner. He talked first. He asked about my work. He had contributed a chapter on my thesis subject for a forthcoming reader. That was exciting, we're doing the same kind of stuff. I wanted to know all about it. Then the big Mass guy suddenly appeared and interrupted us.

During dinner, I had the misfortune of sitting across the round table from our keynote speaker. 'Lush' accurately describes the famous man who ate too much and drank too much and whose shirt popped open at the navel. Eww! Yes, I had to sit across from his rotund belly with his navel peeking through the opened buttonhole. It taunted me. The fuzzy chasm amidst protruding flesh. I lost my appetite.

Meanwhile, Mass dude tried talking to me across the heads of Mike and NJ ponytail boy. but he had to shout. He kept trying until my friend Kyle put his arm on the back of my chair. Kyle asked if we could share meals since he didn't know what to order. Ok, I couldn't afford one by myself anyway. So we ate off of each other's plates. I realized that Kyle might've wanted to make it look like we were dating. Maybe MA dude seemed a little too interested in my...thesis? Was Kyle jealous? If so, it worked and the guy stopped shouting at me.

At the time, Kyle was my best friend in the city. We did everything together and were very close. Predictably, tension had been building. I was ready for things to heat up. But we hadn't talked about it. I wasn't sure how I felt about Kyle's territorial behavior. It annoyed me because of his presumption, we were 'just friends'. But I also derived some hope from it. Maybe now he wanted things to get romantic too?

The sexy prof spent dinner talking to the other tenured grown ups. After, the remaining students and visitors went to a nearby pub. The prof, hereafter 'Giles' and I talked on the way. It felt like flirtation but I couldn't really believe that. This man was a real person with a real career and success (he taught at one of the best departments in the country!), he had class and style (comparatively speaking), was distinguished and older, sexy, and very published. I'm just an unaccomplished grad student, with breasts.

He made me very nervous. He asked a lot of questions about my studies and papers. I couldn't remember the names of anyone I had written about or read. All the names got jumbled together in my brain and I said several stupid things. Painfully aware of my errors of erudition, I tried to steer conversation towards more mundane things, like his accent. What part of England was he from? How did he like New Jersey? I felt like an idiot. We went from questions on the nature of substance to stupid small talk.

At the pub I scooted to the very end of the bench by the wall. English sat at the end of the table next to me. The Mass dude sat on my other side. Bore. Kyle sat directly across from me next to Giles. Everyone else was at the other end. Giles and I continued to talk only to each other. He made me laugh out loud, I liked him. He had a charming sweetness.

Mass got more drunk and more obnoxious. He reminded me of an annoying frat boy. He was very loud, bombastic, and too much in my personal space. He kept trying to talk to me and distract Giles. Kyle grew increasingly perturbed as he watched me and the men around me. Then, Mass started a brain teaser contest. They all took turns describing a puzzle that everyone else tried to solve. (The nerd version of a pissing contest.) I didn't care to participate, and as the only woman I wasn't expected to. Giles took it rather seriously and spent a few minutes with his forehead in his hands while he worked out the answer. He got it right. He grinned from ear to ear for solving a puzzle, this prominent scholar, among the most important in his field. It was very cute, Giles had totally won the contest for my attention. Mass solved more puzzles but his extensive conversation about his new XBox disqualified both him and ponytail boy. Sorry, try again when you grow up.

As it got later, I wondered if Giles would get around to asking for my phone number? Then Kyle and Daniel said they were leaving. We all lived in the same building so I needed to go with them. But Giles and I weren't done yet. Sigh. I told him I had to leave now because I was going with the guys. I explained that I lived in the ghetto and shouldn't go home alone this late. He didn't say anything. Everything got confusing, people were getting up and moving around. I didn't know what to do. I stood up while Daniel settled the tab. Then ponytail boy started talking at me, wanting to know if I ever came to NJ and when our next department event was going to be, could I let him know about it, blah, blah. Go away and play XBox! I wanted to say goodbye to Giles, who just went to the bathroom! Argh.

Daniel got insistent and agitated about leaving NOW. So did Kyle. I saw Giles standing in line for the toilet. I went over to say goodbye. I shook his hand and said it was nice to meet him. I tried smiling and being flirty but he didn't really respond, he'd had a lot of beer. But, he's English, so. So, he wasn't interested? I didn't know what else to do. The guys were calling me.

As soon as we got outside, Daniel said in a taunting older brotherly voice, "That professor liiiked yoooouuu." I said, "Really?" He replied, "Oh, yeah. You should have seen his face when you stood up to go. His whole face fell, he was so disappointed. He reeeaally liked you." Kyle agreed and mumbled something. I said, "I would've gone out with him. Why didn't he ask for my number or anything?" They didn't know nor seemed to care. I didn't understand. What did I do wrong?

Kyle was definitely jealous and very intoxicated. We had an interesting ride home, followed by even more interesting events. It might have been worth the loss if things had worked out differently with Kyle that night. Instead, I just lost twice.

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The Voicemail Mystery

My courage is at it's peak
You know what I mean
How do say you're O.K. to
An answering machine?

Voicemail games always bring that song to my mind. Technology has changed the dating games we play, both email and fancy phone features have really muddied things. I remember the days before caller ID, way back when I was an undergrad in the mid-90s. I could call my dating target 20 times a day without him ever knowing it, as long as I hung up before the answering machine caught me. (But I only did this to one person when I was a first-year and 18 years old, honest!) The risk came from mis-calculating the number of rings before the machine recorded a hang-up, and the possibility that the person was actually home screening calls. Either way, he equally busted you for your psycho-obsessive lameness.

Those days are long gone. Thanks to caller-ID, no one can get away with the blitzkrieg calling tactic, not without sacrificing one's dignity. My best friend's ex-boyfriend actually denied calling her when his number showed up on her caller-id. She asked him how his number got there if he hadn't called and he said, "I don't know." Genius. She regrets letting that one get away. He also broke up with her after three years via email.

Obviously, breaking up by email after three years is more than insulting. But other things aren't as clear. Many single folk struggle with the phone message question. One of my friends says he never, ever leaves a message when he pursues a woman. Because you never know if she got your message and then you wonder if you should call back but if you do and she got your message then you look like a loser. He has a good point. But if you never leave a message, you may never reach the person. So, what do you say if you do leave a message? And how long is too long to wait before returning a call or getting offended at not having a call returned?

I think I waited too long and offended someone. While in Philadelphia for the holiday, I got a phone call from HT. I forgot to take my cell phone charger and my phone died when I got to Philly. I didn't mind. A few days without a cell phone is a nice break. So nice that when I got home on Tuesday I decided to continue the silence and not answer my phone all day. Nor did I check my messages. On Wednesday I mentally returned from the trip to go to my office and finish grading. Then I finally checked my messages.

HT called on Monday. He left a voicemail saying he was in the garden and didn't know if I was in town or not. But if I was, then I should call him. He was thinking of going to a movie or something later that night. He'll talk to me later.

Oops. He probably felt snubbed that I didn't return his call until Wednesday. I left him a message apologizing and explaining that I was away and being anti-social. I told him I finished all my work for the semester so he can call me back if he wants to. It's now Friday morning and he has not called. I don't mind, I've got too much to do anyway. But I can't help wondering. He's used to my anti-social stints and that I sometimes take a few days to return his calls. Maybe my unenthusiastic message scared him away? Except he's not good with hints, so maybe he is just returning the discourtesy? I couldn't tell from his message if he wanted the movie to be a date or not. He made it sound casual and we've gone to the movies before. But...

Standard practice for phone messages is to play it down as casually as possible. That way you can pretend you didn't mean for the person to think you wanted a date. Most people leave messages saying something like: 'Hey, it's so and so. Just calling to say hi and to see what you were up to tonight/today/this weekend. I was thinking of doing x. If you want to come too give me a call." That way you can still keep your dignity if no one calls back. Hmm. That's exactly the message HT left me. OK, fine. He was probably asking me out via voicemail. Now I may or may not have offended him and/or sent him the 'no' signal. There's no way to know.

Try to breathe some life into a letter
Losing hope, never gonna be together ...
How do you say I miss you
To an answering machine?
How do you say I'm lonely
To an answering machine?
The message is very plain
Oh, I hate your answering machine.

--the Replacements,"I hate your answering machine"

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The Sexual language of strawberries

They promised to have a roasted pig. The missionaries said they'd roast a whole pig for our church BBQ this weekend. They did not, thankfully. One of the best things about not being in a traditional ward is the food selection at church functions. Only two people brought dishes from the mayonnaise food group: one potato salad and one crab pasta salad. No jello. No casserole. No bag of grocery store stale white bread rolls. I had two bowls of home-made pico de gallo salsa made with avocado. It was so good, I ate it with a spoon.

HT arrived after I did. While I watched one of the toddlers, given instructions not to let him wander into the street nor back to the garden, HT asked me to come back and check out our plants. I said no because I had to watch the kid. He wasn't having it, so he told a girl nearby to watch the boy for a minute. Oh, so that's how it's going to be? Ok, I followed him behind the roses. He picked our first strawberry and ate half of it, then he offered me the last bite. I said 'no thank you'. He said, "Come on, it's the fruit of your labor." I looked down at the red and white pulpy berry in his hands. I could see his teeth marks in the white meat. No. "No, I'll have the next one. It's ok."

After an hour or so I went home. I told Barbara about HT's attentions. How he put his arm around my shoulders but I thought it was just friendly. She said, "A man and woman? I don't think that's friendly." Well, "I didn't like that he did it in front of EVERYBODY there." Then Barbara said, "Then that was not friendly! He was claiming his territory." But, "There were no other single men there, he had no reason to claim me." "It doesn't matter. You know how people are at church. They all saw it and now they're going to talk and it'll get around until everyone thinks you're together." Ugh. "No, I don't think that's what he was doing."

Then I told her about the strawberry. "He fed you a strawberry?!" "No! He tried to." "You are in such denial. Feeding you a strawberry is flirting." "Well, ok, maybe that's true for normal people but this is HT. You know how weird he is." "I know it, but it doesn't matter. HE FED YOU A STRAWBERRY!"

He also sat next to me when he didn't have to, and he tasted the salsa from my bowl with my spoon. Then when he said goodbye he kept looking at me, lingering. His eyes smiled at me. That I couldn't deny. That look in his eyes was new. Did I miss something? Why is he looking at me like that?

"What are you going to about this? You should talk to him." Barbara wanted me to make a decision. "Why do I have to do anything? I'm leaving soon and by the time I come back he'll be into someone else." "Because he fed you a strawberry. Do you want to do it directly or indirectly?" Then she started telling me the various ways I could reject HT's advances. She witnessed the whole summer debacle with him in 2003. She also knows a lot about these things and helped me reject someone else. "I'm not doing anything."

I'm not sure I want to resolve this. No drama, not now. Sunday I slept through church again. Maybe I can slip away from all this.

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