Friday, January 28, 2011

Flirting FAIL

I have a buddy who fancies himself quite the ladies' man. Well, let's be frank, I have lots of buddies who fancy themselves quite the ladies' men. I think it's a predisposition of the male species to err on the side of confidence, or at least the appearance of confidence, when dealing with the fairer sex. Obviously, this is not always the case and even the best looking, most intelligent, genuinely hilarious guy deals with bouts of insecurity, but when was the last time you saw a homely, overweight, snaggle-toothed girl approach a super hot guy in a bar and lay down her best game? That's what I thought. To all of the gorgeous women reading this blog, and I like to imagine there are thousands sitting on pins and needles waiting to see what I'll write next (I'm a guy, that's what we do), how many times have you been approached by a guy with a beer gut, stained shirt, bad hair, and a braided belt and had to reject his advances while he fumbled on oblivious to your rejections? Long story short: if one sex is more prone to out-punting its coverage, it's the one with the external plumbing, just saying.

Anyhow, back to my buddy; we'll call him Kevin. Kevin is not a guy who consistently out-punts his coverage. It's not that he's an Adonis or anything, but the kid has a lot going for him. He's funny, intelligent, and confident. In most cases, that will carry a guy pretty far. Interpret "pretty far" as you will. So, Kevin was in the gym at his apartment complex the other day working out when an attractive young lady we'll call Jennifer walked in to take a spin on the treadmill. Kevin was actually about to finish up his workout, but being ever on the prowl, decided to extend his run for a while in the hopes that there would be an opening to initiate a conversation. He's cagey for his age.

A good twenty minutes later and feeling closer to his aerobic limit than he would like, Kevin decided to call it quits. Women love a fit guy, but a guy who passes out on the treadmill screams manorexic. As he was toweling off and collecting his things, Jennifer decided to introduce herself by way of saying she was glad he had finished his workout because she was going to be embarrassed if she started after him but finished before him. They exchanged casual banter and then as they were leaving she gave him her apartment number and said if he ever wanted to hang out he should stop by. Success!

Back in his apartment and basking in the glory of attention received, Kevin's sense of victory was soon tempered with the realization that there were two apartments with the same number in the complex, albeit in separate buildings. One was four doors down from his apartment and the other was across the street. Thinking there was no chance he would not have noticed a sultry vixen living mere feet from his front door, he confidently concluded that Jennifer must live in the same numbered apartment across the street. When he ran this logic by me a few days later I had to agree that it made sense. All good so far.

As he was working late hours that week, he decided he couldn't just stop by after he got off work. Again, this makes sense. A knock on the door at 11:00PM screams, "I really just want to do you." Every guy knows that even if that is precisely all he wants, actually admitting to it isn't going to get him anywhere. However, he didn't feel he could wait the 10 days until his schedule settled down as she might think he wasn't interested or, even worse, forget she'd invited him over in the first place or even who he was. There could be nothing more awkward than knocking on a girl's door and then reintroducing yourself and reminding her how you met as she stared at you blankly...except maybe the spelling of the word "awkward." Seriously, it's pretty awkward. Look at it. I'm right.

Kevin decided that the best course of action was to leave a note on her door with his name and number on it that said, "Hey, I'm working odd hours this week, but if you want to grab a beer sometime soon, give me a shout," then he skipped off to work. At about 9:00PM that night his phone rang. Thinking it might be Jennifer, he answered hoping she would suggest a beer that night. A guy on the other end of the line asked menacingly, "Is this Kevin?"

Now, up until this point Kevin hadn't done anything wrong. He could have easily said yes and then explained himself innocently if it turned out, and it was looking like it was going to turn out, that Jennifer actually had a boyfriend who may have come by and seen the note before she had. Sometimes though, you're put on the spot and you freeze. It happens to the best of us. Once, during my freshman year in college, my girlfriend, who went to another university, came in to town to visit for Valentine's Day weekend. I was going to a conservative Baptist university with dorm visiting hours and couldn't have her stay with me. Additionally, a dorm room with a roommate, microwave, and no private bathroom says a lot of things, but "romantic soiree" isn't one of them. We decided to stay in a hotel close to campus. I thought everything had gone off without a hitch, but then my dad called midweek and sounded really, really put out. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey dad!

Dad: Hey.

Me: What's up?

Dad: Nothing.

Me: Ok?

Dad: [silence]

Me: Everything ok?

Dad: Yup.

Me: Ok?

Dad: [silence]

Me: You sure?

Dad: Yeah. Just getting ready to leave town for work.

Me: Ok.

Dad: [silence]

Me: You're sure everything is cool?

Dad: Yeah. Oh hey, I got something in the mail today asking me how I enjoyed my stay at the Courtyard Inn across from your campus on February the 13th. Care to explain that to me?

At this point, a laundry list of innocent excuses went streaming through my head at warp speed but none of them seemed even remotely plausible and I'd already paused for about 10 seconds so I answered with about the only honest thing my mind could muster at the moment.

Me: Nope.

Kevin similarly froze and came up with the considerably less honest but equally idiotic answer, "Wrong number," and then hung up.

Clearly, the guy was going to know it was not a wrong number. Seriously. Kevin had written it down on a piece of paper and even if the guy thought he'd misdialed, he could look at his phone and check what he had dialed against Kevin's personally handwritten and signed number.

About an hour later, wondering why on earth a chick with a boyfriend had asked him to stop by, his phone rang again. The caller ID displayed the same number from the menacing guy who he'd told had the wrong number. Not having come up with a better game plan in the interim hour, Kevin let the call go to voicemail.

The guy left a message. It went something like this:

Menacing Guy: Hello, Kevin Pearson, and this is in fact Kevin Pearson's number. Kevin Pearson from Wabash, Indiana who went to Indiana University and studied political science and lives at 3301 146th Street, Apartment 3B. You need to call me and make things right on your end because, to be honest, you're getting into creeper territory and you need to explain yourself. If you don't sack up and call me, things will escalate because I will escalate them.

Holy. Shit.

At this point, Kevin is FREAKING OUT. Who does that?! And what does "escalate things" mean?! The guy already did some serious internet digging to get ALL of his personal information and then called him back and told him about it. Isn't that already an escalation?

So, seeing no other way out of things and not wanting Ike Turner to break down his door, Kevin called the guy back.

Menacing Guy: Hello, Kevin.

[So creepy!]

Kevin: What the fuck, dude?

Menacing Guy: This is Cornelius. You've got some explaining to do.

Kevin: Dude, I left a note on a door because I met the girl who lives there in the gym and she said to stop by some time to hang out. There isn't anything to it. We're both new in the area. I'm not trying to be shady. How did you get all of my personal information?!

Cornelius: You let me worry about that.

Kevin: What is your deal?

Cornelius: That's all there was to it?

Kevin: Yes! I had no intent. We didn't even talk about relationship stuff or anything. She just said you guys were new in the area and didn't know many people.

At this point, Kevin is assuming Cornelius is her boyfriend (a safe assumption) and, although he's not lying, he's definitely spinning things for damage control.

Cornelius: Ok, man. If you say so. I just gotta watch out for my girl.

Kevin: Seriously.

Cornelius: Why'd you say I had the wrong number earlier?

Kevin: What? I haven't gotten any calls this evening.

Cornelius: Whatever, man. Say what you want to.

Clearly, this is an awful lie and Kevin really has no way out of it, which makes the next part SO MUCH WORSE.

Cornelius: Sharon's a hot girl and guys are always trying to creep on her.

Kevin: Wait, did you say Sharon? The girl I met was named Jennifer.

Cornelius: Whatever.


The girl he met was Jennifer. And she lives four doors down from Kevin. No way Cornelius believes any of this.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I love...

My sister and I used to play this game on long road trips out to my grandparent's house for Christmas where we would wish one another a happy holiday by very earnestly and sincerely ornamenting the beginning of the greeting with all sorts of florid language and then putting a horribly obscene capstone on the sentiment. An example: On this Christmas Eve, the commemoration of our Lord Jesus Christ's birth, I would like to bestow upon you my most sincere and heartfelt hope that you succumb to a particularly aggressive strain of syphilis and die insane and alone. Merry Christmas.

Before you assume that we come from a dysfunctional family or that we genuinely despise one another, let me further explain that we usually both fell out in belly aching laughs at the conclusion of each greeting and that we genuinely love one another more than probably anything else in this world. Well, that may not be true. She has a husband and a son at this point so I'm cool with being number three on the list. Sorry mom and dad!

A buddy at work and I have recently started playing a derivation of this game in which we text one another all of the things we love and then put a bow on our texts by concluding them with something like, "But above all, I love my job." This is funny because we do not in fact love our job and insist on playing this game in the hopes that all the things we love will somehow rub off on our real feelings for the job and thereby make the job more bearable. Or maybe it's sort of a Big Brother double speak thing and we think that if we say we love our job enough, above all other things, that we will eventually really love our job. This hasn't worked yet, but it won't stop me from trying. In the meantime, at least, it keeps me entertained.

A sampling of our exchange:

Me: I love puppies. I love BBQ. I love Tex-Mex. I love beer. I love books. I love soccer. I love girls. Mostly though, I love my job.

Him: I love the Stacked Pickle, movies, yoga pants, but most importantly, my job.

Me: I love Deadspin, fantasy football, adult internet sites, Thanksgiving, Bjs, ribeye steaks, Banana Republic, road trips, and again, above all else, my job.

Him: I love Facebook, Texts From Last Night, dill chip, Hooters, girls with daddy issues, your mother, and still, more than anything else, my job.

Me: I love Buffalo pretzels, Timmy O'Tooles, my mother (appropriately), your mother (inappropriately), Jesus Christ, tigers, Japanese vehicles, hip hop music, thongs, but more than anything, my job.

Him: I love text updates, dating, boneless wings, chicken nachos, Benny Hill, Great Big Sea, Steve Yzerman, spandex, and once job.

Me: I love lingerie, Tosh.O, Lil' Wayne, flannel sheets, hot showers, running, iPods, but first and job.

Asinine? Probably. Hours of mindless fun to pass the time? Yup.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Paper Route - Carousel

I'll eventually get back to Marathon Man, I promise. I just sort of burned out writing the damned thing at about midway. If you look closely, I think it's pretty obvious where I reached the how-can-I-put-a-bow-on-this-thing point. It sounds cliche, but the whole lead up to the event and then the actual event itself were accented by so many other confusing, frustrating, energizing, emotional, humorous, and all around cathartic events, that, to be honest, writing about it is a little exhausting. Oh, poor tortured me, right? Bullocks.

Anyhow, I thought I'd follow a thread that's snaked its way through a number of the previous posts, and is not altogether unrelated to Marathon Man, and throw another music post your way. This band is outstanding. They are originally from Illinois but call Nashville home now. Much of the lyrical content of their songs touches on faith and Christianity, but they vehemently reject the idea that they are a "Christian band" out of a philosophical distaste for that industry. Very interesting. If you're interested, you can read a great article about them here.

I'll post a video of one of my favorite songs of theirs along with the lyrics. Definitely a punch to the gut and I think anyone can relate.

You and I are gonna get it right
Don't let me go
It takes two to make a leader but
One has to follow
Help me, help me understand
What we've become
We fell apart and then proceeded to
Both play the victim
On and on and on we go
Just like a carousel that's lost control
We don't know why, we don't know why
We go, we go, we go in circles
I want you more than anything
Just as you're leaving
For every wound there's an apology
That's lost its meaning
You and I, I think we're better off
Without each other
The last ride, the unavoidable
Keeps getting farther
On and on and on we go
Just like a carousel that's lost control
We don't know why, we don't know why
We go, we go, we go in circles
On and on and on we spin
To find an end where we begin
We don't know why, we don't know why
We go, we go, we go in circles

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quote of The Year...So Far

My roommate and I were discussing relationships and music with a bartender when he dropped this pearl on us:

"I met my wife singing karaoke. I dug her Journey and she dug my Danzig."


Friday, January 07, 2011

Marathon Man

This post will be seriously revised in the next few days and I'm not happy with it at the moment, but I've been sitting on it since November and wanted to somewhat wash my hands of it!

I recently ran my first marathon, and as it turns out, running 26.2 miles is not easy. Who knew? I'm not going to say it's the hardest thing I've ever done physically, but it's pretty damn close. I enjoy running and can wax philosophic about the Zen like trance one falls in to on a long run when one settles into an easy stride and breathes just so and it feels like the wind is blowing one effortlessly along one's route. I can do that. This was not least not after mile 15 or so. I was pretty vigilant about my training schedule, but toward the end of the 16 week cycle, I started to take a few liberties. It's not that I lost motivation or commitment, but that life happened. Life always happens. Work and travel and any number of other things conspired to cut a few miles off this run and delay that run by a day or so. By the end of the training, my initial goal of breaking 4 hours had been somewhat tempered by the realization that this was probably a bridge too far and that finishing with some semblance of self respect was a more realistic carrot for which to strive. All foreshadowing pointed to a disastrous outcome.

The ominous feel to the event started long ago (although I didn't realize it upon registration), when the marathon was scheduled for Halloween. Let's be honest, a celebration of the macabre seems an inauspicious date on which to do anything except celebrate the macabre, but at the time I registered for the marathon, things in my life were going swimmingly and an extended weekend with loved ones all endeavoring to the same goal seemed like a great idea. That was before two of the original participants succumed to catastrophic injuries and had to withdraw their participation. Then one of the aforementioned catastrophically injured and I broke up. Without going into detail, morale dipped. My roommate and I pushed on with our training and achieved a level of confidence that started to taper off long before our actual tapering should have started, but plane tickets, a planned proposal (to the other catastrophically injured original participant), entry fees, and hotel reservations committed us for the long haul. Our last long run with one another, a 15 miler that kicked off at 6:00AM, was completed as a cold front blew in and sleeted all over our final seven miles. Our conversation for the last hour of the run consisted of my roommate saying, "This fucking sucks." And me replying, "Yup."

On the morning we were supposed to leave to catch our flight to DC for the marathon, my roommate, his girlfriend (now fiancee!), and I were rerouted at 4:00AM from our planned route to the airport due to a horrific looking car accident. And by "horrific," I mean I'm pretty sure someone punched out for the final time. At least two cars no longer resembled cars and the entire road was closed down. This was Omen #1.

We boarded separate flights with plans to meet up at the airport in Baltimore for the short trek to DC. Their flight came off without a hitch, but a guy died on my flight. Seriously. I don't mean to make light of the gentleman's death, but as far as bad omens go, an unexpected death on your flight tends to get one thinking. This was omen #2. By the time I finally got to DC, I was tired and a little on edge.

I was staying at a friend's apartment in Cleveland Park and needed to catch the Metro to Georgetown to deliver my roommate's engagement ring to him (he asked me to travel with it to avoid his girlfriend potentially finding it and ruining the surprise). After an epic plane ride and ensuing cluster fuck at BWI waiting for a shuttle bus that never came then finally renting a car to drive to DC, I decided a long walk from Cleveland Park to Georgetown was just what the doctor ordered, so I decided to forgo the Metro. I immediately reconsidered my decision as I settled into my jaunt south on Connecticut Avenue. In front of the zoo, a bird flew inches from my face, into the backside of a bus stop shelter, and then fell dead at my feet with a crushed head. This was omen #3. At this point, I was feeling a little like The Become Death, but I pressed on.

Things started to look a little better that afternoon when my delivery of the engagement ring met no snags and my roommate and I were able to get some passable BBQ into our stomachs (side note: BBQ isn't exactly what I would call optimal pre-race fueling). The uptick in omens continued that evening when my Baylor Bears managed a famous win against The University of Texas (this looks much less famous now that the Longhorns weren't even in a bowl, but whatever), but after leaving the sports bar at around 11:30PM, I realized all that had really happened was that I had managed to stay up way too late, had 2 too many beers, was stuffed full of grilled meats, and was about to spend a short night's sleep on an air mattress. Non of these things were recommended in my training plan as Ways to Succeed in Your First Marathon.

4AM came fast and furious just as it had come the previous morning when I woke up to catch my flight to Baltimore. Mercifully, things started to look up at the metro that morning. I met and wound up running much of the race with a wonderful woman who lived in the area. This is one of the things I love about runners, especially runners in what guarantees to be a difficult event. I used to race bicycles and there's an alpha male element to cycling that just really pisses me off. I can remember rolling neutral onto a course for a 60 mile road race in one of my first events and being told by the guy next to me in the pace line that he wasn't at the race to make friends. He told me this after I asked the horribly offensive question, "How are you doing?" Cocksucker. Runners would never do this. They're more likely to offer you a banana and make you believe that you're about to qualify for Boston than they are to look you up and down and describe how thoroughly they're about to destroy you.

I met Juliette on the platform of the Cleveland Park Metro stop. She was obviously a runner which made my, "Are you running the marathon," question that much more ridiculous. What else would someone be doing in the Metro well before sunrise in running gear on race day with a what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into expression on her face? As it turns out, she was also running her first marathon and had the same target time in mind...and she didn't drop dead in front of me which was good considering the previous day's events.

We boarded the Metro and as we snaked our way underneath the DC streets more and more runners started to filter onto the train. By the time we had gotten to the Pentagon City stop, the train was packed to capacity and the buzz of excited anticipation was palpable. My roommate had met us on the Metro after spending the evening proposing to his girlfriend and celebrating when she mercifully said "yes." I say "mercifully" not because there was any doubt she would say no, but because I couldn't stomach the prospect of running the whole event with a heartbroken buddy...or doing the "good friend" thing and bowing out of the race to go help him drink his sorrows away. I mean, I may or may not have been responsible for multiple deaths and a bird suicide the day before. I had to participate.

The three of us made our way off the Metro and followed the crowd through a security checkpoint and into the staging area where we reluctantly stripped into our race clothing (it was cold!) and started to limber up. This will be entirely too much detail, but I'd not been able to take care of business AT ALL the previous day as I was never in the company of an unoccupied and/or quiet restroom with more than two minutes to spend using it and now I was eyeing the phalanx of Port-O-Potties with increasing anxiety. Everyone's seen the photos of marathoners who suddenly lost bowl control during their run and I was convinced that I'd better not push my luck (those damned omens again).

After waiting in line for over 30 minutes, my time to take care of business finally came. I rushed into the Port-O-Potty, dropped my shorts, and...nothing. The fact that the race was scheduled to kickoff in mere moments and there was still a line of hundreds of people ALL WAITING ON ME mere feet from where I was then anxiously seated conspired to induce the most distressing and crippling stage fright I've ever experienced. I left the Port-O-Potty empty handed (full boweled?) and made my way to the start line with Juliette and my roommate to begin what I was now sure would be an epic disaster to entail possible death or, at the very least, violent and embarrassing bowel distress.

My thoughts and feeling per mile:

Start: It took us 10 minutes to get to the start line from the 4 hour corral so by the time we crossed the start line much of the pomp and circumstance of the official start was over. Also, I imagined the Kenyans being halfway through the course and I suddenly felt pale, pasty, slow, and lumbering. Sort of like an Imperial Walker from Star Wars.

Mile 1: Smooth, effortless gliding. We ran a mile already?!

Mile 2: I'm still feeling pretty good. Good conversation. Good friends. Good people watching.

Mile 3: Cake.

Mile 4: Seconds on the cake.

Mile 5: Maybe BBQ and constipation are secret recipes for success.

Mile 6: I could shit right now.

Mile 7: That was a big hill. I could REALLY shit right now.

Mile 8: I have to stop to shit RIGHT NOW.

Luckily, mile 8 is apparently where a lot of people feel this urge and a nice sprawling bank of Port-O-Potties was set up on the side of the road for just that purpose. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel this urge at mile 8 and I had a good 10 minute pit stop when the wait and actual performance of the deed are taken into account.

Right before I ducked off the course, Juliette said something like, "I'm going to keep going! Catch up!" I didn't realize it at the time, but this is terrible advice to give anyone in an endurance event.

Mile 9: Unencumbered by extra weight, I'm feeling great. Breathing through my nose.

Mile 10: Let's gear it up a bit. I'm flying.

Mile 11: Did I just run a 7:15 minute mile in the middle of my first marathon? Yup.

Mile 12: Maybe I should dial it back a bit.

Mile 13: Halfway there!

Mile 14: That 7:15 minute mile may not have been a good idea.

Mile 15: This is kinda staring to suck.

Mile 16: This sucks.

Mile 17: Hey, it's the Washington Monument. Whatever.

Mile 18: Sweet Baby Jesus, my calves are tight.

Mile 19: Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Mile 20: Second wind! Awoooooooo!

Mile 20 1/2: That didn't last long.

Mile 21: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming....

Mile 22: [white noise]

Mile 23: Where are my legs? Oh, there they are. Why can't I feel them?

Mile 24: Pain. Hurt. Legs.

Mile 25: Dooooon't stop...BELIEVIN'!

Mile 26: I'm seriously going to finish this thing!

Finish: Those people who say they get choked up are so full of it....wait, why am I crying?

The end, and I knew this from my previous marathon experience as a spectator, is the most chaotic, frustrating, and endless process of the whole event. Unless you're super badass or super not badass, you're going to finish with a whole gaggle of runners and it will take an eternity to go anywhere. During this eternity your legs will feel like someone has tapped into them with a funnel and poured molten lead into them. If you're like me, you eventually find a place to lay down, stretch, and JUST STOP MOVING. This place will be maybe a mile from where you're actually supposed to meet everyone but you just won't give a shit. You just ran a freaking marathon.

Eventually, I made my way over to the reunion area and met up with Juliette and my roommate's fiancee and relived the marathon mile by mile as we waited for him to show up. I'd known during the race that he wasn't feeling it (silence, a grimace here and there), but I figured a night of engagement celebration would have that effect. I lost track of him at mile 8 when I ducked off the course to relieve myself. Apparently he'd had a similar need at mile 13 and it was then that I'd overtaken him. When he finally did show up, he revealed that he'd started cramping up at mile 8 and had seriously considered running straight to the hotel at mile 16, but he'd stuck it out and now here we all stood, Juliette, her parents and a friend, my roommate, his newly minted fiancee, and myself among a bustling but exhausted crowd of runners. It had been a tough few months of training, least of all because of the training, but we'd done it and that odd, twisting course replete with bird suicides, actual deaths, catastrophic injuries, brutal training runs, bowel distress, new friends, cramping at mile 8, and an engagement all somehow seemed to fit...or maybe I was just too exhausted to make sense of it all.

Either way, I'm definitely doing it again.