Time to grow up

I ran into a former date at a local cafe this morning.

This one, unlike most of the other former dates, was someone I had met the old-fashioned and organic way - at another neighborhood cafe.  So it was kind of appropriate that I ran into him this way.  He is a writer, after all, and so spends much of his time cruising the free wi-fi establishments.

This former date - let's call him Schmitty - must have taken a page from Kelly Clarkson's ex when he met me, because he was totally dedicated, and took the time; so much so that I even fell for the stupid love songs (in the form of frequent and sweet-as-honey texts) Schmitty sent for the first four or five weeks we dated.  

It was a heroic effort on his part to woo me; dinners out, phone calls, sharing of emotions...blah, blah, blah.  All the shit a normal girl looks for when contemplating giving it up. So I did - give it up, I mean - and for all of a week or so after that, Schmitty poured on the sugar, using it to drug me into a false sense of security.  

Now, I'm a pretty perceptive girl; I'm no Ivy-leaguer, but at this point in my life, it's pretty hard to pull the wool over my eyes where men are concerned.  Because unlike some women, when a man shows me the first time who he is, I tend to believe him.  And when I say showing me who he is, I'm not talking about the lusty stuff that comes at the beginning.  Even the most emotionally challenged and developmentally arrested person can spend three weeks imitating molasses on a stick.  No, I mean that first hiccup, when he does something irritating or hurtful, or both, in this case.  

It started with a drastic reduction in whisper-texted sweet nothings, followed by an utter dearth of phone calls.  I got one more dinner out of him, at which his internal filter failed him completely.  Because he told me, "When I'm with you, I'm really happy, and I have a really good time, and I love talking to you.  But when I'm not with you, I wonder, what am I thinking?"  

Shortly after that little revelation about his inner dialogue, it occurred to me that Schmitty must be showering someone else with, well, everything in his arsenal.  So when he called one last time, I asked him if he was fucking someone else.  He sputtered and tripped over himself, told me that yes, he had kind of slept with someone else.  Which is sort of like saying you're a little knocked up.  You've either been poked, or in this case, have been doing the poking, or you haven't. 

Unless he couldn't find the hole, I guess.

That was our last phone call until about six months later, when he called randomly and caught me in a particularly confrontational mood.  Even more than usual, I mean.

He said he was calling to...

and I said, "Apologize for being an asshole?"

And he said yes.  So I cut him some slack and told him I appreciated the phone call.  

And that was that until this morning.

So he, his friend, and I were all chatting, joking about dating, Match, meeting girls, etc., and right there, while on his man-date, Schmitty said, "I was an asshole; I acted like an idiot."

In other words, he manned up.  

No longer will he occupy that overstuffed, bursting-at-the-seams corner of my brain filled with emotionally retarded boys.  

He's moved to the grown-ups' table.  Welcome, Schmitty...have a drink on me.


What's in your tool box?

Proper Tools are the key to life.

Brilliant insight?  Maybe not.

But it was the weekend's epiphany, so I'm sharing it here.

When I say tools, I don't just mean the anemic drawer of household necessities that help me put up pictures on the walls, or unscrew battery compartments on annoying toys, although having a good hammer and screwdriver are part of the arsenal I deem Proper Tools.

What I realized is that there are eleventeen other things, otherwise known as Proper Tools, that I employ in order to get through my day.

Merriam Webster's online dictionary gives the following definitions of "tool:" 1. a handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task; 2. something (as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession; 3. a means to an end.  

So here I am, a practicing mother of two boys, devoted to my professions of, in no particular order: sanitation engineer, chef, butler, chauffeur, mother hen, psychologist, writer, vice headmistress of the RAD school, freelance bookkeeper, housekeeper, medic, tailor, costume seamstress, teacher, and disciplinarian.  My means to the end of staying sane and rational while raising Luca and Dash on my own?

Proper Tools.

Let's take a more in-depth look at some of these.

Not Ray's Pizza, corner of South Portland and Fulton - good in a pinch when another evening of peanut butter sandwiches, hummus, and crackers just seems cruel.  Also works in conjunction with Stern Words and Bribes (see below) to calm the masses.

Stern Words - "Watch your tone with me;" "I'm sorry, I don't understand Whining;" "Please don't make me ask again, because I will freak out;" "I'm sorry, did you want to watch television later?" "Make a better choice."

Bribes - Hot Wheels, money, cookies, an extra book at bedtime, five more minutes on the computer, ten more minutes in the bath, playdates.  Any of these can be used, sometimes together, and often several in a day, in order to maintain an acceptable level of reason and patience on my part.

iPhone - used on a daily basis, in a variety of capacities - distraction (games); moral support (phone calls to friends); alarm clock (on the one day a week I have to get up earlier than Dash normally does); timer for time-outs; lifeline to those who would otherwise not hear from me until both boys are in college, jail, or married.

Zoloft - two a day, per shrink's orders; non-negotiable; goes well with Wine (more to follow).

Tweezers, q-tips, nail clippers, washcloth & soap - keeps 'em clean, dirt- and splinter-free; must sometimes be used with Brute Force (definition below).

Brute Force - often employed when doing the necessary, but irritating (to them) and disgusting (for me) work of making sure Luca and Dash are presentable to the world at large. Can manifest as holding down flailing hands while large, breath-impairing boogers are being extracted; tilting heads back to ensure teeth are brushed properly, medicine gets ingested, and any visible and offending wax is removed from ears; wrapping arms around waists in order to encourage forward movement on any given surface - sidewalks, floors, etc.

Wine - particularly useful when the children are running amok, and/or being screaming hellions.  Good tool for prevention of child abuse.

Television - if I need to explain this tool to you, I'm afraid I can't be friends with you.  Because having to explain likely means you don't use this tool, and frankly, I don't have it in me to like someone who eschews television.

Playdates - withheld as punishment; employed as a means to freeing up an afternoon, or alternatively, freeing up a friend's afternoon, who will then owe a reciprocal playdate.  

These are the most important, and most crucial implements in my Proper Tools box.  Feel free to mention some of your own.

Just don't rag on mine.  Cuz I'll have to use some Stern Words on you.


Match gets interesting...

Every once in a great, long, eternal, and freak-filled while, some really cute and interesting boy will somehow find his way to my profile on Match.com and find it appealing enough get up the gumption to write.  This is no small feat, as my Intro says things like, "I need a man like a giraffe needs a step-stool," and, "You enjoy a good snog and a good debate, maybe at the same time," and of course, "Please note that Winks won't get you very far."  This last little tidbit I threw in at the end of my epic tome, just to make sure people are really paying attention, and not just spam-winking me as if I'm some starving duck in heat they can throw bread crumbs at when they need something to do and someone to pay attention to their antics.

So I know that whoever is writing likely has at least something resembling a spine, perhaps even something that more closely hews to an actual personality.  This is not always the case, as evidenced by Swoon1060's imploring me to give up my book club discussions so he can implant another bun and kiss my Latina lips.  Yes, that is a direct quote, and no, I didn't answer him. But just so you understand, dear reader, that there are few messages whose words make sense, much less inspire anything more than a resigned sigh and a short, but carefully worded, reply that does NOT include my real name.

But then...

just when I'm getting ready to cancel my subscription and contemplating a sandwich-board approach to dating - AGAIN...

Mark5787 sends a sweet little missive from his computer up in western Massachusetts.

"ahhhh...the best ones always live so far away.  tell me you love the berkshires and that you come up every week during the summer :-)            Mark"

Short?  Yes.  To the point?  Yes.  But he did suggest I was one of the "best;" which might not be that hard to achieve in the sea of Matchelorettes swimming around this vast digital ocean, but which definitely got us started off on the right foot. Because I am a sucker for a compliment.

There was the added bonus of the note coming with a picture of his impish, grinning face and his contending in his stats that he is 6'2".

What 5'11" girl wouldn't answer an email from him?

His intro, as I was to learn over the course of several days' worth of emails and phone calls, does not in any way do him justice.  Keeping up with my witty repartee and parrying back with enough in the way of 10-dollar-words and smarty-pants comments to keep me interested and on my toes is not for the faint of heart.  It's not often that I find a man secure enough in his own shoes and place in this world that he can deal with a girl like me.  And if you've read any other part of this blog, you know what I'm talking about.  I freely employ words most polite company would find offensive; I have little tolerance for ignorance or meanies; and there's the, ahem, small matter of my height.  

Mark seemed okay, if not totally pleased with, finding someone to chat with who could dish about the dysfunction of men AND women; someone whose very identity did not hinge on finding a man to save her; someone who can answer his ironic sarcasm with just enough of a bit of honey to keep it civilized and interesting.

He must have come to trust me rather shortly after our first emails, because he shared more pictures with me.  Pictures I'm glad had not been on his profile on Match, as they should be taken in context.  Of course, it's hard to provide that context here, but trust me, this shit is funny when accompanied by commentary from the peanut gallery up in Massachusetts.

In various stages of shaving his facial hair, Mark decided a Facebook flip-book-style photo montage would be an appropriate homage to a friend of his.  I'm not even sure what that homage was about; frankly, I'm almost afraid to ask, what with the psycho-FedEx-delivery-guy look and Limelight-reminiscent sunglasses.  But it makes sense if you know Mark even a little, which I'm almost sure I do now.  Plus, I'd already seen his work as a photographer and graphic designer, so I was pretty sure his aesthetic and sartorial senses did not bend to cable-guy-chic or fly-by-night-truck-driver.  

So we exchange emails, he sometimes calls; he's been to Brooklyn once, with a little help from his GPS, since I was relatively useless when it came to getting here efficiently from his hometown. 
I don't know where this will go; I've become an expert at not having any expectations of anyone, since it leads, almost inevitably, to disappointment.  But if Mark is half as good at developing a relationship as he is at making me laugh, there might be something there.  And if not, at least there's some glimmer of hope that smart doesn't have to equal dorky, that younger men do indeed find me attractive, and that Match does very occasionally, stupidly not-often for what they charge, in an effort to pull me back in, spit up a winner.  


Alcohol & Ice Cream

On his way home from school with the nanny last week, Luca passed someone on the street who was having trouble staying upright.  Monica, the nanny, proceeded to explain that the man was probably sick and not feeling well and would likely get medical attention, and not to worry.

He still seemed concerned when he got home, though, so I proceeded to assuage Luca's mind by offering up my theory: the man was drunk, honey, and just needed to get home to sleep it off.

Now, this is one of those times when I feel pretty sure I shouldn't have been allowed to leave the hospital with the well-being of this child in my hands.  


Luca asked what did it mean to be drunk?  I resisted the temptation to remind him of those copious weekend afternoons when we are with friends and I tell him that no, he can't drink from my glass because it's Mommy Juice and he wouldn't like it anyways.  And instead tell him that it's when someone has had too much alcohol.  Which of course results in asking what alcohol is.  Because I am a dumb-ass and exhausted mother and did not see that one coming, even though it was right there, a foot away and flailing its arms for me to shut my mo-fo mouth.

Like I said, the maternity ward nurses probably should have asked something more than, "Do you have enough diapers?"

So I did what any reasonable, thinking mother would do in that moment - I told Luca we were going to get ice cream.