There’s Always Room for Jell-O

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“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

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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

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

The Interview Date

One of the unexpected pitfalls of being a management student is that you tend to hang out with other management students and, sometimes, the guys you meet and date will also be from this crowd. Superficially, you might be thinking “jackpot” but, on closer inspection, having too much in common with a man can kill the romance.

albany eden interview date

It goes something like this:

Dale* and I were fixed up. He is a fellow former management student and an entrepreneur, as well as a close friend of a previous colleague of mine. For our first date, I told him we’d meet outside Prada, because if I am to date him, he might as well know where he would often be picking me up. I always estimate my walking time in terms of Ugg boots but today I was wearing heels. Since it had just rained and my head was still healing (see The Orangina Miser), I decided nothing more than a cautious gait would be advisable. I was thus almost ten minutes late. When I got to the boutique, I saw no one. For a brief moment, I was crestfallen but that quickly subsided as I contemplated having a look at the new collection (I am used to disappointment and thus easily get over it). Then I noticed a reflection in the store window. It was like Matthew Fox in the early 2000’s had left the set of Lost, changed into preppy clothes, lost ten pounds, grew a mole on his face, and came to meet me! I thought to myself, “if this is not Dale, and he does not show up, I sure hope you and I go for coffee!”

But it was him, and I felt very optimistic as we walked towards a café. Knowing little about Dale, I thought it would be interesting to ask him about his business. It was. He gladly and openly discussed his project, which, it should be no surprise to any recent grad, revolves around a mobile app. Like many “revolutionary” concepts, his was not really a new idea but offered what he was sure to be a better interface and more varied functionality than the dozens of apps already providing a similar service. I did not at first find anything strange about this conversation. We ended up talking for two and a half hours. Of course it was now 8:30pm and he did not invite me to dinner, however, like so many before him, I guess he might have been hoping for a firm invitation into my bedroom before forking out a knife and fork. Still, I wanted to see him again.

Later, he messaged me about alumni contacts. Since I’m used this behavior, it didn’t strike me odd coming from a potential suitor.

The next day, he wrote: “would you like to have a cheap lunch with me tomorrow?”

I try not to read too much into text messages because jokes are often misunderstood. I replied: “That’s an interesting choice of words!”

He came back with: “better a cheap lunch with a good guy than a good lunch with a cheap guy.” Again, I think his humor was lost in the bandwidth but I also sometimes say stupid things unintentionally, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I accepted the date.

I really wanted to get to know him better. I was hoping we could get more personal since we had already discussed every aspect of his business, and I was unemployed, so discussing my professional life should be quick.

This time, he showed up late. When he found me, we walked to the restaurant. What started as small talk (“What did you do today?” “Oh, I sent a couple CVs”) turned into the primary axis on which our conversation rotated. I do not believe I formally asked him for his advice but I got it. Honestly, he is quite clever and has the networking bit down to a science–too much so even as he greets and chitchats with every waiter, bus boy and hostess, regardless of whether that person seems completely uninterested and too busy to deal with someone like him.

As he went on about how I needed to lower my expectations in terms of salary and the types of companies that would value a native English speaker (things I have heard many times from the school’s career counselor), I allowed my mind to drift. He was so into what he was saying and also so inattentive to me that I could probably have been playing on my mobile phone without him noticing, but that’s not what happened.

I started to think about him in other ways. He was so good looking. I pictured what it might be like making love to him. He was fit and handsome enough to make the cut but then my imagination gave me a wakeup call. In bed, I thought, he is probably a talker who gets turned on by his own words. Phrases like: “Oh, I have a meeting with the VC firm,” “Oh yeah, Porters Five Forces,” “Give it to me HBR!!!” and as he climaxes, “Mmmmmmmmmmmmarket capitalization!!”

As I thought of this, I almost laughed. I decided then and there that I might be better off with someone from a different world, a different background, to whom I am a success for merely having a management degree, rather than a failure for not having found a job yet.

In the end, I gave him the business card of my friend working in VC (Venture Capital) and decided I wanted a partner in love, not business. I’m sure we’ll remain friends and help each other network but the man I will fall for will challenge me intellectually with his own original thoughts and opinions, not those imparted upon him from a cookie cutter business school.

-Albany Eden