About Albany Eden

Writer & lover of great men, fine wine, high fashion & exotic travel

If he wants to leave, he is not the one (alternate title: The Beer Belly)

There was something fundamentally ephemeral and a tad pessimistic with the initial premise of this blog as it assumed I would always have spectacular dating catastrophes. Even a self-proclaimed forever-single girl can meet someone that will pleasantly surprise her – but he is not the topic of this post. And yes, now I do believe there is someone for everyone and that you just have to be patient, which is the topic of this post.

Ten years ago I was at work when a camera crew came to interview my boss; one of them had great hair and intense eyes. He must have noticed my stare because as he exited the office, he left me a flyer for a play he was starring in. The play led to an invitation to his after party, which blossomed into a three-month relationship. Sam* was thirteen years older than me and had it together: he was a journalist and video producer. As a 23 year-old at the bottom of the corporate ladder, I was drawn to him as a boyfriend and a mentor. Our time together was nice and I thought I could be happy with him.

As we dated, I realized Sam had a lot of grown-up drama in his life unrelated to me. He was sorting out finances with an ex-girlfriend with whom he had purchased a condo, he had a gravely ill parent and he had recently been robbed of his laptop, which contained his life’s work. One day he took the production company’s van overnight so we could go on a date – this was not an authorized use of the vehicle. Sometime that morning around 5 or 6 a.m. a female drunk driver sideswiped all the cars parked on my street before police apprehended her and placed her in the drunk tank. Sam had to file a complaint and missed his morning meeting. He must have interpreted the various events of that morning, and in his life in general, as a sign that we were not right together, at least not at the time.

Shortly after this disaster, Sam broke up with me. He never gave me a reason and I was disappointed because I thought he could be the one.

Girls, and this is where I would like you to listen carefully: if he wants to leave, he is not the one. The one is out there and when he finds you, he will stay.

Last week, I went out with my friend Veronika* to hear about her perpetual struggles with the same man, yet again.

“He told me he doesn’t think he can make me happy or that I can make him happy,” she said, confused.

“Well, that is a very strong statement and clear message,” I told her.

“We will talk about it tomorrow night at his place. I need to understand why.” V was insistent.

“You may never understand why. It would probably be cruel of him to tell the truth, if the truth is something like he never had feelings for you in the first place. Why do you want to do this to yourself?” I tried to talk some reason into her but she needed absolutes.

“It was so great in the beginning, I cannot ignore that and I want it back. We will have a serious discussion.” There was no changing her mind.

I care for my friend, which is why I am her sounding board time and again through this difficult time, but I wish she would understand that men know when it is not right. We may think at the time that we want him and that he is the perfect guy for us but a man often knows before the woman that the future would not be a happy one. I am not sure it is intentional; perhaps his primal instincts play a part here. Whatever the reason, when I look back now on all the guys into whom I put so much needless effort, I am thankful to God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Tom Cruise and the Cosmos that we did not end up together.

Yesterday, I was on a sunny terrace enjoying an Aperol spritz with my friend when she had to check something on her phone. I also decided to see if I had any notifications. The available Wi-Fi networks popped up and I saw “Sam Edward Brody’s iPhone.” I found it strange to put a full name on a personal hotspot connection but the uniqueness of the name and unlikelihood of such a blast from the past incited me to look around. I scanned the terrace and there he was. The same great hair was more silver fox than raven but it was definitely Sam. He was working on his laptop, hence the personal hotspot. It was a very 2017 way of “bumping” into someone.

Now, I am within 5kg of what I weighed ten years ago and aside from going from bleached blond to my natural hair, I look rather the same. Sam, on the other hand, had developed an enormous beer belly – in the interest of providing an accurate description but not to be unkind, I would liken his body to that of Santa Claus. His teeth confirmed he had maintained his steady tobacco intake over the decade and I cannot stand cigarettes. I still wanted to say hi. I pulled out my phone with a big smile and showed him how I knew he was there.

“Hello! First, middle and last name on your personal hotspot, huh?”

“I am not afraid,” he said with a smile. Then he said nothing else.

“Well, I just saw that you were here and wanted to say hi.”

“Hello,” he said.

I couldn’t believe it. We dated for three months and he didn’t remember me! I looked him up on LinkedIn and he is up to the same sort of projects for his own company this time and, ironically, I had gone on a couple casual dates with one of his junior employees about two years ago. I realized that he was right to break up with me ten years ago and I am so glad he had the courage to do it. Since he is a nice guy, if he hadn’t been so firm, I probably would have tried to make things work and one day found myself in a relationship that was just wrong. If I had stayed with him, I would have taken a very different path in life and would not be where I am today, and with whom I am today.

Readers, this is my point: the right person for you, if you two have not met yet, is out there and will also know that you are the right person. This is key. Love should be mutual. The wrong people may know they are the wrong people for you before you do and that’s OK. It is even a good thing. Sometimes, you have to trust that relationships end – or never start – for a reason, even if that reason doesn’t yet seem clear.

If you are going through a breakup, missing someone or feel like you are beating your head against the wall over a guy who cannot change, chin up! Rip off the Band-Aid. One day, you will see it was for the best, I promise.

 

– AE

There’s Always Room for Jell-O

photo

“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” many women have said throughout history. It could be true but I also believe that men express their love with edibles. I have learned over the years that when a man puts time in the kitchen for a woman, it is often a tender expression of affection he might not be able to say with words.

Case in point: the journalist (we’ll get to him in another blog post) and the ski instructor (ditto) both prepared spaghetti carbonara for me early on into our relationships, although it was a pure coincidence that they each made the same dish. I must say that while Andrew’s pasta was savory with the unexpected addition of white wine, I appreciated Jesse’s attention to detail in adding freshly shaved nutmeg on top. The point is, the more a man cares, the more complex his dishes will get. At the height of our four-year relationship, Julien purchased a pressure cooker and prepared us blanquette de veau.

So the question is, how intertwined are our sexual and actual appetites? I would argue that lovers of pleasure enjoy each and every delicious way to awaken the senses. To make my point, let me illustrate the opposite scenario: Zach was a young man I briefly dated in college. He was an Abercrombie model. On our first date, he invited me over for dinner and to watch Pleasantville. If only I had known that “dinner” consisted of baby carrots and tofu, which were also the only things he ever ate because he needed to stay in perfect shape. Needless to say, the night was as bland as the soybean patty itself, and while I am not an unhealthy eater, being around him all the while craving a plate of chili fries made me feel like a piglet. It didn’t matter how many portfolio photos he showed me of his perfect torso, I made a mental note that evening never to date a man with a smaller behind than mine.

You might be wondering, and the answer is yes, I have also cooked often for men. They appreciate it for sure but I think the ones who really care get more pleasure out of watching a woman enjoy what they made. This holiday season, take off the oven mitts and try letting him get his hands dirty!

-Albany Eden

My Best Breakup SMS

Sometimes you go on a date or two with someone and while he or she may be very nice, for whatever reason, you do not want to go out again. It happens and some of us might be afraid to admit this to the person that we no longer wish to see. Such situations can lead to confusion, frustration and accepting dates out of guilt.

I have therefore applied the management technique of the “yes sandwich” to breakups via SMS. I think it is kind, clear and effective. Feel free to use it!

“Hello [Insert name here], I had a great time with you on [day you went out]! Not only are you adorable, you are very nice! I really like you but I do not want to move to girlfriend/boyfriend mode. I don’t really know why, I must not be ready or maybe there was not the right chemistry. I hope you are not upset. It was lovely meeting you!

I think it’s better to be honest. I wish you all the best with your [insert current project here].”

An then, with a clear conscience, on to the next!

-Albany Eden

Dabbling in Adult Entertainment

photo2The lone log cabin in the forest went dark. I wished I had brought something warmer than just my sheer nightie. My bare feet sunk into the sheepskin rug and I felt its soft caress between my toes. It was getting cold, and as the sun set, I feared being in the dark, waiting for the repairman who was coming to fix the electricity. I found a scented candle and as I lit it, accidentally dripped hot wax down my neck; it burned but also felt good. A wolf howled and I could hear the owls. I got scared and began to shiver. The first stars were appearing in the night sky and the cedar scent of the candle was intoxicating. Then the doorbell rang. It was the repairman.

He was burly and had that country rugged masculinity about him. He smelled of freshly cut pine and white musk. I could tell that he had skilled hands: they were strong and solid. His presence suddenly made me feel safe, but somehow I was still shivering.

“I have been waiting a long time,” I told him as I approached. He seemed to notice the spot of candle wax that had stained the silk on my body but quickly looked up at my eyes.

“Well, I better get to work.” He bent over to get something from his toolbox.

“Yes, indeed you better! I was making a chocolate cake when the power went out! It’s my grandmother’s birthday tomorrow, very important!” I pleaded.

He looked at me, looked at the haphazard pile of ingredients on the kitchen table and then nodded with a grin.

“You will have your cake. Don’t worry, I have all the tools necessary to take care of things here” He assured me.

Less than half an hour passed and he had repaired the power.

“Oh thank you, thank you!” I was relieved. Then his phone rang.

“Yeah. [pause] Seriously? Ok, well, cancel the others then. All right bye.” He put his phone back in his pocket.

“Sorry Ma’am but the road has been snowed in behind me. I am afraid I will be stuck here all night…”

“So uh, how much do I owe you?” I asked.

“Tell you what, you seem not to know your way around the kitchen and I love to make cakes. I’ll finish it up, you let me lick the spoon and we’ll call it even.” His smile was deviously adorable.

I watched as he cracked and whipped the eggs with methodical perfection and then added the cocoa powder. This man definitely had skills. I wondered why first names had not been exchanged.

“Time to pour it into the mold.” He said, proudly.

“No, let me!” I wanted to contribute more to this cake than making a mess. He playfully kept the bowl out of my reach. I prepared to pounce on his back.

Suddenly, the power went out again. I could see nothing but was already in the air. As I jumped on him, he turned around. The two of us ended up on the floor and the bowl went flying, its contents then dripping all over me. Then the power came back on.

“What a mess!” I said. “I’ll have to wash up!”

“No need for that,” he reassured me as he took my finger in his mouth and licked off the chocolate.

The next day, I blushed when my grandmother asked me what had happened to her cake. I simply replied, “Sorry grandma, it was just too good!”

*      *      *

This did not actually happen. I am writing this post for my friend Ricardo, who when I read him my last one about the unemployment agency suddenly looked disappointed after a couple paragraphs. When I asked him why, he said:

“Well, you describe your clothing and this room where you might be alone with an attractive man, it really sounded to me like the start of an erotic story.”

His comment made me think about ways to make this blog post more enticing for male readers like him. I aim to please!

-Albany Eden

Will Write For Food

albany_edenLast week I went to my appointment to register at the local unemployment office (the Cosmos sure loves its writers…). Having spent two years with an unemployed 39 then 40 year-old who became progressively whiny the longer he stayed at home, I did what any normal girl would in this situation: all in my power to avoid attracting a man at this place. I wore my baggiest sweater and old boyfriend jeans and my juvenile-looking glasses I have had since the fifth grade. I topped off my look with Ugg boots, which, men have told me, are not sexy.

As I played Free Cell on my phone in the waiting area, I just wanted this meeting to be over.

Then I saw him. He was lean but muscular, in cool casual jeans with perfectly rugged facial hair. I let down my ponytail and took off my glasses. He was just close enough for me to get a slight whiff of his yummy cologne.

“Eden, Albany Eden?” I heard a voice say.

“Yes, that’s me!” I said as I popped out of my seat to face the Adonis of the unemployment agency. Then my Greek god looked at me, confused.

“Albany Eden” I heard again, but sexy beard’s mouth was not moving. Suddenly the enchanting cologne dissipated as Adonis made his way to the middle-aged man sitting beside me.

“Raymond Dawson, please come with me,” he said, matter-of-factly as he walked away. Then a cloud of foul body odor seemed to fill the whole room.

The man who had called my name was standing behind my Adonis. He was cross-eyed in one eye, heavily overweight and proudly displayed his open fly. When he shook my hand, he squeezed my ring so tight that it hurt. I held my breath as he led me to his office.

He took my documents and looked them over, not speaking for almost ten minutes.

“You are missing page 3” he said. I took the file, located the page, and gave it back to him. He continued eyeing the document.

“Well, your file is incomplete. I cannot accept it.”

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked.

“In this box next to title, your employer checked ‘other’ but did not ‘specify.’ See, it clearly says ‘other’ then ‘specify.’”

“I have that information, she is the payroll manager. I can just fill it in for you, or we can give her a call.”

“No, you must get her to fill it out herself, sign and stamp where she adds the title and then bring it back here to me.”

“Really, sir, could you please make an exception? I have already been here three times.”

“Well, you can drop off the file in the mailbox downstairs, then we will have to schedule another meeting. You have a web cam right? Because, we can meet online too.”

He was so clumsy with the printer and the computer; I could not bear the thought of him and his open fly—or what he might show my by mistake—on a web cam.

“Well, I have Skype but no web cam. Unemployed you see, don’t have budget for the luxuries” I did not want to take any chances.

As he input my information into the computer, he had to call in his boss to help him. It seemed to take forever. After 50 minutes of stinky air and saying nothing as this guy fumbled through the registration process, I was free to go—until next week.

I don’t know if it was deliberate on behalf of the unemployment agency, but avoiding another meeting with this guy is very powerful motivation for me to find a job quickly!

I realize this was not a dating catastrophe, but, lately, I have been meeting more interesting men who do not do wildly inappropriate things, so I had to look elsewhere for inspiration!

– Albany Eden

The Mile High Club

“Come on, get your mind out of the gutter! It only happened once and it was his girlfriend on the flight,” Eric said, his warm eyes laughing at me.

“But how did you know?” I asked, fascinated by all the tidbits of his exciting lifestyle.

“A pilot says he needs 15 minutes alone in the cockpit, well, not alone. Anyway, it’s a small enough company, so the reputation stays with him.”

“What about you? Have you ever…?” I asked.

“Of course not!” He told me as he winked and took a bite of his extra crispy bacon.

We both laughed. Eric was about the fifth guy I had taken to my favorite brunch restaurant in the past couple months. I don’t even care to know what the hostess might be thinking, but over the eggs benedict and freshly pressed juice, I was beginning to like the view from the top. This is how I developed my 20:1 rule. For every 20 guys you meet who are completely wrong, there will be one who just might be right.

Eric was a pilot on long haul routes, which, I learnt, meant that his flights averaged 10 hours in duration and that he mainly flew to paradise beach destinations. Long haul is the most coveted route, so it meant he was great at his job but that he was also away from home two weeks a month.

Now in my previous post, I explain my aversion to dating lawyers. I feel the opposite way about scientists, so when I found out that Eric was also an aeronautical and spatial engineer who taught flight theory to new pilots, if I had been a man, I would not have been able to stand up right away without knocking over our basket of croissants!

It had been a long time since I had such a great first date. It was a sunny autumn day and we stayed out for hours. Walking in the park, sitting in the park, kissing in the park, I got to know everything about him. I couldn’t wait to book my ticket to Punta Cana on one of his flights.

On this park bench, as he told me about trajectories and how the airlines throw dead chickens into the engines for testing, I was staring down his checkered shirt, admiring his ample and masculine chest hair (a fetish of mine I never share with hairless men), wondering what it would it would feel like under my fingers. When I wasn’t staring at his chest, I was staring at his mouth as he spoke, subconsciously licking my own lips whenever he would pronounce a long “u” like in “prune.” When he would stop speaking, I would look into his deep blue eyes that reflected into mine a joyful admiration.

One of the reasons I love scientists is because I myself love science. I love to understand things, like why vinegar dissolves calcium deposits in the bathroom or how to hybrid my orchids (I’m still working on this). As I listened intently to every interesting word he said, I knew I was starting to like him.

“What about you? Did you always want to work in marketing?” He inquired.

“Actually, don’t laugh, but I have always wanted to be a plastic surgeon. If I could do it over again, I would have gone to medical school.” I revealed something I share with few people.

Now this is a true story and while some of my posts poke fun at guys, it is not my intention to do so here. The following is what happened and in writing about it, I do not in any way mean to make light of the situation.

With his next remarks, Eric effectively made me wonder: how much information is too much to provide on a first date?

“Plastic surgery huh?” he said. “That’s interesting because…” He went on to tell me about the different genetic disorders he has inherited from both parents, one of which required multiple plastic surgeries. It is not important to list the specific conditions but, needless to say, this is something I have not before heard on a first date.

Then he went on to tell me, “And also, the occupation of airline personnel reduces their life expectancy by 8 years.”

With all the tact and grace of a drunken hobo, I said, “I had no idea. You should ask for more money.” Like a true gentleman does in a situation where a woman says something stupid, he pretended not to hear it and we moved on to a lighter topic.

Now, I will definitely see Eric again. First of all, while my flaws are not genetic per se, they are enough to place me firmly within the most fragile of glass houses.

Still I cannot understand what transpired on this first date. Was he already thinking about having babies with me? Had we gotten so close that we passed the attraction phase into being chums? Was he trying to turn me off? Was he just nervous? Is this something he just discusses openly with near strangers?

I will give him a free pass and assume that something I said on the date was equally inopportune and that we are at par. He has messaged since and expressed a desire to meet again. Now I have to wait two weeks; I just hope he brings me something nice from Thailand!

-Albany Eden

My Date with Mr. Burns

I am back on the dating scene and last week  accepted a dinner with a lawyer I met online. He seemed almost cute from the front although had a slight albino vampire look, kind of like Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but appearance is not everything. However, when I saw him in person, I realized why none of his photos showed him from the side. Matt Groening must have met this guy when he decided how to draw the profile of Mr. Burns. I have never seen such a nose on a real person and still feel sorry for him because many personal care apparatuses were not developed for people of his nasal corpulence. Poor guy must have gone his whole life not being able to use facial steamers!

Luckily, he was facing me at the table, except when he would ask the waiter for something, so, I decided to give him a chance. I don’t usually like to date lawyers but made an exception for Marvin*. He loved to talk about his work, so that made the discussion easy.

I never thought I would have to add the following to my list of things never to say to a girl on a first date, but thanks to Marvin, here is number 11 of what you should never say to her shortly after meeting:

“I routinely hire private detectives to trail people.”
“Excuse me, what?” I was in disbelief.
“Yes, I hire private detectives to look into people’s backgrounds and financial situations.”
“Isn’t that a violation of their privacy?” I asked.”
“It’s completely legal, and my cases are about debt collection, so I will not accept a client if the person he is suing cannot afford to pay him back.”
“That seems very discriminatory.”
“I don’t want to waste my time, so I will have the detective find out how much money the person has in the bank, which banks and find any assets he has in this country and abroad.”
“Wow, but how can a detective get a hold of such information. Isn’t it, like, confidential?”
“He has access to their tax returns. Aside from that, I don’t ask questions, I give him a flat rate and he finds the information for me. Where do you live?”
“Well, I live in [my neighborhood]”
“No, but what street do you live on?”
“Umm, well, you know the neighborhood, I think that’s enough.”
“And your date of birth?”
“You know how old I am, why don’t we talk about something else?”

Actually, after I shut down his attempts to procure invasive personal details he was quite OK telling me about all the other ways he uses unscrupulous techniques to recover debt and screw over his law firm by abusing its resources and keeping clients for himself. By the end of the meal, my salmon en croute was somewhere in my esophagus working its way up. I was trying to be polite, but I could never date a guy who exercises so little morals in his professional life. Just imagine ever being on the other end of a divorce with someone like this.

We left the restaurant.

“I’m going to grab a taxi.” I told him. Earlier, he had told me his neighborhood, which is on the opposite side of town from mine.
“I’m going to take one too, I can drop you off.” Even when a date really does not go well and the woman clearly did not enjoy herself, men will still try for sex. This deluded confidence is really a problem among what I have coined as “Big little boys” or men in their thirties who are not yet adults and who have unjustifiably inflated senses of self.
“That’s really ok, thank you. Good night.”

I split as quickly as I could and when I got home, I had a message on the dating app: “Fun night, you should give me your number, easier to talk.”

I politely told him that I did not wish to pursue this, waited a few hours to be sure he saw it then blocked him. I was glad I had the smarts not to give him my address because otherwise I might live with the anxiety of worrying whether the homeless guy stationed outside my building was actually a detective.

Moral of the story: don’t give up, but keep your expectations low. It’s a jungle out there!

-Albany Eden

My First Bar Kiss

cat cornerThe first time I ever kissed a man in a bar also coincided with my first time in a bar (growing up law-abiding in the US, I was making up for lost time!)

When you’re 17, you feel like it’s an accomplishment to get an older man to converse with and want to kiss you (in retrospect, I realize how creepy this sounds) but on that, my third evening in France, I was looking to move on from my ex and first boyfriend who broke my heart for a leggy henna-tattooed piece of white trash (see The Making of Albany Eden); what better day than his birthday to dance on the grave of the relationship he killed? But I wasn’t thinking of Jackson that winter evening at the Cat Corner nightclub off La Croisette in Cannes.

My friend Linda was 23 and she knew men. She was beautiful, Swedish, with perfectly flipped natural blond hair. I hoped that being in her company would help me fool guys into thinking I too was a natural blond.

“If I don’t want to talk to a guy, I’ll say I’m from Nebraska because every time I say ‘California’ it leads to more questions,” I explained to her.
“No, say you’re from Finland and your English is not so good. As long as you don’t say this to a Finnish guy, no one else speaks this language….40km from Helsinki, end of conversation.” Linda was wise beyond her years.

I noticed a pair of eyes from the other end of the bar. I was sure he was looking at Linda. I turned my head from her to me and his eyes smiled, as if almost to say “yes you!”

Before I knew how I felt about this, he and his friend were on their way to our table.

Dammit, I thought to myself because I wanted to shoot a few guys down before committing to one for the whole evening, but he was awfully cute.
“Hi ladies” he said. “I’m James and this is Don” James was the more handsome of the two.

James barely looked at Linda and cozied up next to me. Oh my God, I finally got to try out my material on a live one! He’s quite attractive, but I needed practice.

“So where are you from?” He asked, looking intently at me.
“Nebraska” I said, suppressing my proud grin at my coy cleverness.
“Oh yeah? I’ve never been! What’s the capital of Nebraska?”

Note to self: review fifth grade notes of state capitals and remember that not all guys are stupid and trying to get into your pants. Some are clever and genuinely interested. I liked him immediately.

“Actually, I’m from LA,” I admitted.
“Wow, I’m sorry to hear that,” his grin made me uneasy: on the one hand we just met and, on the other, I wanted to bite him lovingly.
“So what are you ladies drinking?”

Linda was having white wine but I was determined to finally try all those drinks I heard about in the movie Cocktail but didn’t yet know what they were. It was this evening that I initiated my ritual: new guy, new cocktail.

“I’ll have a flying squirrel,” I said with confidence that was sure to impress even the Sultan of Brunei. Swoosh. He’ll think I come to bars all the time in France, I thought to myself.

Don and Linda stopped their conversation and all three looked at me. I must have impressed them. After all, I knew about sophisticated cocktails and was decked out in my best Gothic skirt and motorcycle boots with my platinum hair and dark roots. I had the Gwen Stefani style while she herself was Just a Girl. My confidence was soaring.

“Right love. And why don’t you take a look at the menu and tell me what you’ll have if they don’t know how to do a flying squirrel.”

I perused the cocktail menu. “Kir Royal,” that sounded sophisticated, “that’s what I’ll have.”

When he came back with the drinks, I realized I’m not a huge fan of Kir Royal. I would later discover the Tequila Sunrise (thanks to the move, Desperately Seeking Susan), which would become my signature nightclub drink for the next five years.

Two sugary cocktails later, I had learned that James was from Down Under, surfed, and had his own business in England. Prior to this evening, I had only had those intense conversations with Jackson and was pleased to learn that other guys could be as engaging and passionate.

Our lips were locked by midnight and we stayed until the barman turned the lights back on. After that, we parted ways (I was 17!). Linda and I grabbed a taxi back to our dorm and the boys walked back to their hotel.

James and I ended up being sexy pen pals for ten years to follow. He would call it “the kiss that lasted a lifetime” and although we tried several times to meet again, it would take us twelve years to reunite. But that’s another story…

-Albany Eden

The Making of Albany Eden

When I was six years old, I remember crying hard. It was mostly out of frustration and intense feelings of inadequacy over my funky pedicure. I couldn’t understand it: I was great at coloring within the lines but when it came to applying that Maybelline fast-drying raspberry nail polish, I got more on my skin than nails and what I did manage to get on my tiny toenails had marks and smudges and chunks of cotton in it. Older girls could do it; I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. After several failed attempts, my eyes were so full of tears I couldn’t see clearly and I was wallowing in a pool of my own exasperation. I cried for several minutes.

That’s when my dad came onto the patio where I was sitting in a mess of acetone-drenched red cotton balls. He took one look at my raspberry fingers and the stains all over my clothes and sat down beside me. He really hadn’t ever painted toenails before (as evidenced by his side-to-side brush strokes rather than from cuticle to tip). With stern concentration and a steady hand, he gave me the most beautiful pedicure I would ever have.

Thanks to him, I developed a high esteem for men at a young age. However, as I got older it became more difficult for him to save me from the things that made me sad.

photoWhen I was 16 years old, I met my first love. Jackson was cute, Midwestern, athletic and one of those popular guys everyone likes to be around. In high school, I was the serious studyholic too prissy to smoke a cigarette or miss a homework assignment so I loved the way being around Jackson made me popular too. We would have intense discussions that would last all night. He made me mixed tapes with Paul McCartney and even handcrafted many lovely gifts for me including a wooden jewelry box and a needlepointed keychain. I trusted him completely. I thought we would be together forever. Then, when we ended up in different universities, a girl from my high school contacted me to tell me that Jackson was cheating with a white trash bimbo named Dawna. Up until that day, I was unfamiliar with the feeling of betrayal from a man. I cried for weeks.

When I was 26 years old, after many years alone, I started what would become a serious relationship with a former work colleague. Julien helped bear the burden of stress from life and took care of me. A woman who goes from her father’s house to the sorority house to her husband’s house might not appreciate this but I had been doing things on my own for years; his attentiveness and helpfulness were much appreciated. After we had been together for over three years, I decided I would surprise him with a romantic island vacation so, one day when he was in the shower, I went on his PC so he would come out and see the resort I had chosen on the screen. I started typing in the URL but then mistakenly pushed ‘enter’ on a strange site that appeared in the history. I was not at all prepared for what I saw. Julien, who that same week was begging me to start a family, had an online dating profile and was chatting with multiple other women. I cried for months.

*     *     *

Most of the men you read about in my Dating Catastrophes came after these three, who shaped me. Luckily, only one of the three matters and he is the one who gives me faith that great men do exist.

My dad left this world much too soon. Of all the men for whom I cried, only he truly deserved it. Remember that the only men worth crying over are the ones that will love you enough to stop your tears, not cause them.

 *     *     *

Where are they now?

Jackson: He called me multiple times every day for two weeks and I never took his calls. After time passed, he made a few attempts on MSN Messenger to reconcile. I never saw him again.

Dawna: I checked her facebook page (which is completely public) and Dawna today cannot be recognized as the cute girl she once was. She married a guy physically comparable to her and I wish them all the best.

Julien: He never got over the breakup and made multiple efforts to get back together. I do not return his messages. One person said it best, “trust is like an unlit match, once you burn it, it goes away forever.”

– Albany Eden

Gliding into Friends: The Pisco Sour

Whenever I start dating a man I think I could really like, two things happen. First, my mind is flooded with a series of highly inappropriate questions my brain cannot filter. Second, I order a new cocktail for the first time and secretly associate the flavor with the man. This allows me to relive moments with him long after I have scared him away with a ridiculous interrogation.

“Are you gay?” This time I endeavored to keep the question to myself.

Brandon had soft skin. He was stylish, did yoga and made a point of telling me he went to a “hair dresser” (not a barber). Yet, he seemed interested and our first date lasted five hours.

“What would you like?” he asked.
“Hmm, pisco sour, that sounds good.” True to form, Brandon would thereafter be a pisco sour to me: sweet, strong and laced with some flavors I cannot identify but that I think I like.

I was lost in his eyes as he told me about his passion for the opera. I never realized how interesting something I previously cared nothing about could become when it came from his mouth.

“And I got these new shoes from Berlutti, I’d love to break them in for the first time at the opera with you.” Just when I thought I had him figured out, he made me wonder again.

My concern was appeased with a surreptitious graze of my thigh…but wait, was this gesture due to carnal attraction or him trying to cop a feel of my Chanel tweed? I figured if he was into fashion, at the very least, we could have a good conversation. So I asked his advice on a future purchase.

“Well, my favorite color is turquoise, but if it’s something you’d be wearing, I’d love to see you in red.” I loved how he dignified all the silly things that were so important to me with a serious response from him.

Weeks later, we had another dinner filled with awkwardly honest conversation.

“In the hospital after the horseback riding accident, I completely lost bladder control because of the concussion.” I could not believe what had just come out of my mouth. This time he grazed my thigh and it was for sure deliberate.
“But you don’t have that problem anymore, right?” We both laughed. With him I needed no filter. It was nice.

The waitress came to take our orders.

“I’ll have the salmon,” Brandon said.
“Sorry, no salmon today.”
“All right, then I’ll have the salad nicoise”
“We’re out of lettuce.”

After some more back and forth, we identified one of the few items on the menu still available; we both had cheeseburgers. And I, a pisco sour.

“I was kind of nerdy as a kid, I would play video games every chance I got,” he revealed. It was endearing.
“Haha, Dungeons and Dragons, you and my brother would have gotten along!” I liked teasing him because then he would smile.
“I would like to take you to a very special wine bar I love. It’s in the Marais, you know, the gay neighborhood.” He said, matter-of-factly.
“Sure, sounds great!” I decided not to over-analyze his second sentence. We took a cab and when we arrived at the destination, Brandon briskly sent the cab away. On the wine bar door read a sign “Closed for the holidays.”

“Oh no Brandon, looks like we won’t be going here after all!”
“Don’t worry, I live just around the corner. We could have some tea at my place,” he suggested. If he did in fact live around the corner, I wondered how he didn’t notice the sign before.

Although he looked great that night and maybe had earned it, I wasn’t about to reward this kind of sly technique—if it in fact wasn’t a chance occurrence. As we parted, no hand holding, no kiss…then I wondered if he really did just want me to come over for chai tea lattes and to read his Colorology book. I put the thought out of my mind.

As time went by, we continued to see each other and I eventually did make it into Brandon’s apartment. I was pleasantly surprised. It was well decorated and neat…although he didn’t believe in curtains at all—even in the bathroom where his shower door was transparent! Weird as I might find it, this was something I decided I could address later or not at all.

“You like pisco sours right?” he asked with a devious smile. I wondered if he had figured out my rule.
“I looove them, thank you!” I was mesmerized by his muscular forearms as he squeezed the limes and I almost forgot my bursting bladder.
“Be right back, bathroom’s over there, right?” He nodded and I got ready to put on a show for his neighbors. In the sleek modern bathroom, I couldn’t help but wonder if Brandon belonged to another alpha female. The temptation to investigate was too great. I scanned the counter. One toothbrush–and it was blue. Hallelujah! No tampons. No depilatories. No hair scrunchies (although this was a little annoying because I am pathologically scrunchie-less and wanted to wash my face). I was feeling increasingly relieved as I noticed the masculine bathroom products—I could even forgive the loofah but then I saw…IT.

It was just sitting there in the drawer, the possible answer to these questions I had been asking myself about this wonderful man still single in his thirties. It was like road kill—something I couldn’t bear to see but had to look at long enough to properly identify it.

The little orange foil packet read “Gliding into friends” and on it were two male symbols artfully intertwined. As I picked it up, I realized this hot potato had to be handled with finesse; but a passionate woman often lacks this quality. Packet in hand, I left the bathroom and approached him. I figured the best way to deal with the gay lube was to toss it right on the surface where he eats breakfast. I wanted some explaining.

“Relax, I got it as a gag from a party. It’s not like I bought a full tube, it’s just a sample!” I wanted to believe him. His dancing eyes made him look capable of mischief but somehow his explanation appeased me. I think this finding with any other man would have me running for the hills but Brandon knew how to hold onto me.

He put the pisco sour up to my lips and it tasted good. I stayed over that night and learned, once and for all, that he only had eyes for women, and, more specifically, this particular one.

Sometimes we ask silly questions because deep down we already know the truth…and it scares us.

-Albany Eden