Dear Penthouse Forum

This morning I was opening up shop and had just taken out the tables and chairs, so the front door was unlocked. I had about ten more minutes of peace before I had to turn all the lights on and was fiddling around with the mini-fridge under the espresso bar when I heard someone say my name. I stood up and shrieked. Right in front of me was my fireman, “Aaron,” grinning in the dark. “I didn’t want to scare you, but I just saw you walk in,” he said. “I know you’re not open yet, but I’m running late for work. Is there anyway I can get you to make me a drink?”

I was still clutching my weak heart, but told him it wasn’t a problem as long as he wanted a bar drink because I hadn’t started brewing coffee yet. I hesitated a moment before going to turn the lights on because all that was running through my mind was “Oh, my god, are we gonna do it?” In my little fantasy world, it was a total porno moment. You know, the hot fireman walks in to the coffeeshop and seduces the saucy barista before the store opens.

Unfortunately, a couple of other regulars walked up, all excited that I was open early and I had to make small talk with everyone. The moment was lost.

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Seven (and a Half) Year Itch

I won’t bore you with detailing how much I care about Charlie or how physically attracted to him I still am. Or how great the sex still is, despite doing it with the same person for over eight years. There isn’t anything I can say to excuse the following statements, and I won’t try to do so, other than saying I’m a girl who’s fond of one-night, casual sex, and I miss it.

I also don’t find myself sexually attracted to very many men. Chuckles lucked out in that I didn’t get bored with him right away. Used to be, guys were an easy way to pass the time while I sought relationships with other women. If we ever split up, I doubt I’ll be in another relationship with a man again.

All that being said, there is one particular man who I can’t get off my mind. So to speak. He’s a regular customer as of late, someone I haven’t seen coming in much until recently. He’s a shorter guy (I prefer 5’11” as a minimum), maybe 5’8″ or so. I realize that’s significantly taller than I am, but what can I say? I’m a height queen. He’s also blonde – not usually my preference, either. He’s married, has three kids, and is a firefighter. I won’t use his name, because I’m not fond of it, but I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to call him. Bruce Wayne? Too cheesy? How about “Aaron”? That seems like a nice name.

When he first started coming in, Aaron was so nice to everyone that I thought he had to be gay or a Bible-thumper. It has been my experience that there are very few straight, young men who are polite to young women. Period. They’re either smarmy, or flirty, or kind of dirty, or just plain rude — that is, when they’re no longer able to at least try and get into your pants. No offense, straight male friends of the Interwebs.

So I figured Aaron was either nice because he loves Jesus (those regular customers are always super-nice, which is cool), or just wasn’t in to women. I’ve made his drink on more than one occasion and swooned in silence most of the time at his absolutely, ridiculously amazing body, sparkling eyes, and knock-out smile.

I ran into him once on my way to the psychiatrists’ offices who ran the anxiety study. He was all decked out in his uniform, something for which I am usually not a sucker. He had just resuscitated a woman who had a heart attack and we had an awkward conversation over her stretcher as we waited for the elevators (“Oh, hey! How are you?” “Um, okay, I guess.” “Do you work here, too?” “Uh, no … just going to see my doctor.”)

Until yesterday, I assumed it was completely one-sided. A guy that looks like that (like, Brad Pitt, movie-star-good-looking) must have a drop-dead gorgeous wife, right? Why would he be interested in the dumpy, weird-looking, tattooed chick with bad skin who makes his coffee? That’s a bit of a joke, people. I’m not weird looking. [smirk]

But then yesterday he came in and waited in line to get to my register, despite the fact that there were two other people behind him that he let go ahead of him to Sarah’s register.

Then, this morning, we were completely slammed and I was pounding out the drinks on the bar. I leaned forward and called his name, asking if he wanted his drink for here or to go. “To go, please, Courtney!” He said, using my name, which makes me go all wobbly in the knees. I asked if he wanted me to throw in the extra shot, since I had one left over. He responds with, “Whatever you want to give me, I’ll take,” with a twinkle in his eye.

I melted into a little puddle in my shoes. I almost said “You just have to get a few drinks in me first,” but I just clammed up. Did I over-think that? He probably wasn’t being flirty, right? Either way, it’s the first a guy has made me feel rubbery in a very, very long time. And here I thought I was basically a lesbian, excluding the husband.

The Local Flavor: Inappropriate Sexual Remarks

Remember when I told you about the man who hates tattoos on women? Well, he was back today, and got his first gander at the new octopus on my left arm. I swear to whatever you want me to, people, this is exactly what he said: “I don’t think I could ever make love to you because I would be too busy reading everything on your body.”

I pretended like I didn’t hear him. Him, the 70-plus-year-old, obese, sweaty, pasty misogynist with the cirrhotic, W.C.Fields-ish nose. He repeated himself again, word for word, at which point I responded with what I call my “Grandma Switch.” You know, the part of you that won’t let you scream or swear at a person because they’re old, or because you’re at work and you don’t want to get fired? I said, “Yeah, you should see my back. It gives my husband a lot to look at when he’s behind me.”

Yes, that was inappropriate, too, but not nearly as inappropriate as my initial reaction would have been, where I wanted to say, “Yeah, that’s not really going to be a problem, because I would never fuck you, you disgusting old pervert.”

Deep Breaths

I wish I had more time to tell you about things. I wish I had interesting things to tell you. All the fun, productive crap I got to enjoy over the summer has already fallen to the wayside. We finally got Mario Kart for the Wii and have only played it once. I haven’t seen an episode of The Daily Show or been to my therapist in over two weeks. Audrey and Jay and Scott got me great tools that I’ve been wanting for a while to utilize in crafting and I’ve barely had a chance to look at any of the books or patterns. Yesterday I didn’t even have class, but it was a ridiculously busy day.

As soon as I got home from work I had to start buckling down. What less productive way is there to spend your time than sitting down and reading pages and pages of stuff? I skim through the readings for all four courses, only to find myself saying “I’ve seen this all before.” If it’s for the feminism in art class, I’m reading stuff I’ve seen in Bitch and on Feministing. In anthropology, it’s the same crap I’ve read in five other history, literature, and sociology classes. In Buddhist philosophy, it’s the history of Siddartha Guatama I’ve already gone over in Intro to Religion or the books I’ve read on Buddhism. For psychology, it’s a description of the schools of thought and famous psychologists that have started the first chapter of at least three previous textbooks. Argh!

I couldn’t focus so I checked my email. There was a hysterical message from the girl who’s doing most of the actual site-planning for our reunion. I had to send her a check right away to put a deposit down on a space, she’s telling me, because she’s in the middle of moving, things are crazy busy at work, and she doesn’t have any spare cash. I was supposed to get some money in the mail from the chick who planned the last reunion, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

I check the account balance online, and, to my horror discover Charlie had accidentally made a credit card payment out of that account, rather than the one he usually uses, which is in his name only. So, a check bounced. Suddenly I was running to the bank to deposit cash, writing out a check for the reunion space, trying to find stamps, the dogs are all over the place and need to go for a walk, and I still haven’t finished any homework.

Then Charlie calls to tell me the armoire is in at Pier 1 and he wants to know if I can have everything in the living room taken apart before he gets back. I still haven’t had anything to eat, or walked the dogs, so I take them around a few blocks as I’m calling the new reunion girl to tell her the check is in the mail. I run over to Patachou for a sandwich, and head to the coffeeshop to sit down and force myself to read.

Matt’s there, and it’s the day before his vacation, so he’s completely unmotivated. While I’m trying to read about the history of child psychology, he’s repeating lines from the Borat movie, which he apparently just watched again the night before.

I can’t focus on studying, so I head back home and start rearranging the living room. Once I get tired of that, I finally get some homework done and Charlie gets back. We’re unplugging and moving and dusting and shifting and cleaning things off, and suddenly I feel really nauseous. This is not a new feeling for me. I get nauseated a lot for some reason. Then I’m in the bathroom, dry-heaving and get a nasty headache.

The living room looks great, though.

Catching Up

I spent the better part of my day yesterday catching up with a friend I haven’t seen in several years when I really should have been catching up on my homework, having finally purchased all my textbooks for this semester. Greg had all the dish on the friends, friends-of-friends, and acquaintances from high school and afterward — most of whom I also haven’t seen in at least three or four years.

Unfortunately, “dish” is rarely positive. The guy who everyone called my “soul mate” for a long time (as in, he was a male version and I was a female version of the exact same person, which, of course, is completely untrue — we’re not very much alike at all) is currently stuck in a bitter and unhappy marriage for the sake of a child. That’s something I’ll never really understand. Although my parents’ relationship was never poor, and I don’t recall them ever fighting in front of us, I can sympathize with children who get trapped in nasty divorces and horrible relationships. I often think it would be better for people to split up than to force a kid to stay in a negative environment.

Most of my long-lost friends have gotten married, although I was the first in the group, and a few of them seem, according to Greg, to be happy and healthy. A few have made some rather poor decisions, and more than one is already divorced and remarried. The funny thing is that, those of us living in Indianapolis are all on practically the same street, spread out through the city. Take, for example, 86th Street — I say “for example,” because none of us live anywhere near there, but it jogs here and there on an east-west path. It runs all the way outside I-465 on both sides of town, through the city.
Greg, one old acquaintance, and our unhappily-married friend are both on the far west side of town, right around the same numbered street where Charlie and I live, which is smack-dab in the center of the city. Two of our other pals are on the far east side. Getting from one place to another isn’t exactly simple, but I find it funny that we all ended up as dots along the same route through Indianapolis.

Today is hot and muggy, and felt disgusting as I was walking the dogs around 8am. Our stroll was slow and deliberate, but I was still sweating when we walked back in the house. To top it off, I have a summer cold and a ton of homework. My one main assignment is due Wednesday, though, so right now it’s just reading chapter after chapter from my four classes. One instructor apparently gave us an assingment prior to the first day, so I felt irritated when she asked to raise our hands if we’d read everything.

Last night my glands felt swollen and I went to bed early, sleeping for about 9 hours straight. I still feel worn out and achey.

Grindstone. Apply Nose Here.

Today was the first day back to school and this semester has already proven it’s going to be challenging. The one course I thought I’d be able to glide through turns out to be more complicated than I thought. I should have expected as much; the 100-level, introductory courses are usually taken by students fulfilling last-minute requirements and the instructors expect more out of us. They also tend to be PhD students who are still young, energetic, and excited about putting together lesson plans and stuffing knowledge into our heads. Unfortunately, this anthropology class is one I feel like I’ve taken a thousand times already. Most likely we’ll go over Gilgamesh, the instructor will tell us that evolution is a theory that isn’t contested by anyone in the scientific community, someone will try to argue against that, and we’ll have to watch a lot of really boring videos.

My online psychology course seems pretty straight-forward, but I’ll have to find a way to work the reading and online activities into my schedule. Those are always the ones I forget about as I quietly freak out about homework in the face-to-face classes.

Last, but not least, my two higher level courses: feminism in art and Buddhist philosophy. There’s going to be a lot of writing. I knew that going in to it, but today we went over the syllabus and, while the feminism in art course seems really interesting, it will definitely be a lot of work. We took a field trip to the Indiana State Museum where we saw the subversive knitting exhibit. I was really excited about it since I’ve been wanting to see that, but I was a little disappointed by how small it was. A nine-year-old boy came in to class late for the Buddhism course and sat next to me, while I wondered for an hour and fifteen minutes how much smarter than me he is.

Totally unlike me, I haven’t gotten any textbooks yet. I was hoping if I held out I’d discover we didn’t need one or another for each class, but that isn’t the case. I guess I’ll have to figure that one out in the next couple of days, meanwhile getting my expired license renewed, and working about 30 hours between tomorrow and Saturday. Oh, yeah, and I have a doctor’s appointment somewhere in there.

Yay.

The Awful Truth About Me

I discovered this morning that I have two ways of looking at a pregnancy (and the trying-to-conceive) of someone I know. Three ways if you count the mildly indifferent, 3-billion-miracles-is-enough attitude I have toward most pregnant women. There’s the happy-for-you I’ll-babysit-for-free-if-you-need-me-to feeling, and the oh-my-god-it’s-the-antichrist feeling. [Genders assigned randomly to fetuses from hereon out.]

In one situation, the mom-to-be is beautiful, smart, funny, talented, artsy, and capable. I know she’ll provide her son or daughter with a wonderful, loving, and warm home full of knowledge and opportunities. In a way, I’m slightly envious of that baby. I imagine he or she will end up being a polite, clever, contributing member of society who fights for the rights of others and advocates for the less fortunate.  Mom and her partner have been TTC for a while now and everyone I know is elated for them.

In the other situation, a manic-depressive, undiagnosed (as far as I know) borderline personality has also been feverishly TTC for the past couple of years and, word on the street is that she’s “finally” gotten pregnant. I feel sorry for that child. Not just because it will most likely be an overweight, unhealthy, unhappy, unattractive kid (yes, I know, I’m a terrible person), but because I see an upbringing similar to mine. Most likely worse. Whereas mine was mostly cold with bouts of anger and what some would consider abuse, hers will be an intense yo-yo full of screaming fits and crying jags. She won’t understand her mother’s mood swings, and she’ll spend a lot of time either in her room, trying to avoid the inevitable, or acting out in an attempt to punish her parents or get her father’s attention — attention that will most likely be taken up with catering to her mother.

I see a future where the kid ends up being an anxious, lonely person who has difficulty making intimate connections with other people.

I imagine guilt trips and co-dependency, the boy being held responsible for other people’s (his grandparents, father, uncle, former friends of his mother) mistakes, riding his mother’s emotional roller coaster while he tries desperately, and to no avail, to get off. He’ll be taught that food is love, love actually is conditional, he can never really please his mother, and he’ll have to deal with his mom’s jealousy if his father so much as pays a moment’s worth of attention to him.

My former therapist said I have trouble letting go of control. That’s an understatement, to be sure. But this is the sort of situation that might give me anxiety because I feel like a huge mistake is being made and there isn’t anything I can do about it. To me, the idea that someone is bringing him into the world without forethought and introspection on the mom’s part is just another prime example of her BPD. The mom has no business conceiving, or believing she has a right to bear and raise a child. I think I know the mom-to-be better than she knows herself (it’s not difficult for her to ignore and deny the negative aspects of her personality give her disorder), and despite the fact that I haven’t had any contact with her in quite some time, I sincerely doubt that she has made any personal or psychological progress. Her personality disorder is nearly impossible to treat because getting a person to recognize their issues is nearly impossible.

I suppose some would say that I have no business saying things like this, but since Heather tagged me to tell seven things about myself, this would be the first, if you didn’t already know this about me. I guess I’m the sort of person who passes judgment on others and their decisions and then shares that with the world, as if admitting to it makes me less of an asshole.

I have chosen not to try and get pregnant for all my adult life, knowing that I don’t think I have the skills to properly raise a child the way I’d like. Being a mother isn’t something you should do just because you have ovaries and a uterus. It’s not a choice you make when you’re bored and you decide you want the unconditional love and support of another human being for whom you are solely responsible. She’s not a puppy, she’s a human being.

It’s not like buying an armoire at Pier 1 on a whim, when you know you really can’t afford it, but you do it anyway and figure you’ll pay off the credit card when get your next student loan check. It’s a lifetime commitment that takes lots of work, and will eventually take the constant demand for attention off our BPD mom-to-be and create a whirlwind of problems as this child’s development is stunted.

Perhaps, in time, I’ll make more of an effort to conceive, but I think if someone like me recognizes my faults and chooses not to bring a child into the world, I know there are many more people much worse off than I am in that department who feel it’s their god-given right as a person to procreate. No matter what the consequences will be to that child.

And that’s one awful truth about me.

Not Necessarily “News”

I’m getting ready for work this afternoon and I hear a blurb on the news that China “faked” part of their opening ceremonies for the Olympics. Rather than continue watching the crappy local station, I get on the computer and Google the phrase, coming up with pages of “news” stories about how the fireworks displaying the footprints of the 29 Olympiads was fake, fake, fake.

Considering I watched this part of the opening ceremonies, and heard several of the announcers talk about the “cinematic effects,” I wasn’t confused as to whether or not this was “real.” It wasn’t, for me, the viewer, sitting at home. For those in Beijing, it was, because they saw something similar, but the hosting country didn’t want a helicopter flying through them, so they were added later for the benefit of people who couldn’t be there in person.

How this constitutes as news is beyond me, and the fact that so many bloggers, local and regional stations, web sites, and radio cling to this as somehow representative of China’s deceit of the rest of the world is really pathetic. I don’t feel my “experience” was somehow less, knowing that they added a digital representation of what was there later in the day, after the helicopter photographed the city.

More Spam & Corn Dogs

I received a spam message this morning that read “Shocking Video Shows Spongebob and Gay Sex!” in the subject line. I know there are some people out there who like to watch animated pornography. For a while, when the Interwebs was still a young pup, there were little video clips or jpegs going around of Homer and Marge Simpson or Looney Toons characters in compromising positions. I didn’t think it was especially funny or arousing, but I guess some people did. Still, I can’t imagine the sort of person who would a.) believe that Spongebob Squarepants was caught in a scandalous homoerotic embrace (does he have a sexuality? Isn’t he supposed to be a kid?), or b.) actually click on a link and pay to see something like that.

I pigged out at the fair yesterday. We wandered around for a few hours, looking at the horses, baby goats, people. I knew with the weather being so wonderful we’d be in for a crowd, but it was so much more than I expected. There were foot-traffic jams every few yards, and lots of children bouncing off strangers as they ran in circles, high on cotton candy and funnel cakes. My one regret was the fried Wisconsin cheese, which really did me in. If I had skipped that delicacy, I might have appreciated my funnel cake more.

It was nice to see people come out and celebrate with me, though. Molly from work and her friend Andrew, Leticia and her housemate (also named Molly), Cavan . . . Those who couldn’t make it are either coming out for dinner tonight (Annie, Audrey, Katie, Maureen), or we’ll see them Thursday (Jennifer, Julie, Liz), or Sunday (Jay and Scott). I guess it’s nice that my birthday gets stretched out into an entire week because it’s so difficult to coordinate one thing for everyone, but it also gets expensive and time-consuming. I hate asking people to rearrange their schedules to just go out and spend more money, but I also can’t say it doesn’t make me feel a little special.