Friday, November 6, 2009

Mea Culpa

I know, I know. It's been too long. And exactly what have I got to show for my lengthy absence? Bupkis. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

OK, well let's not get overly dramatic.

While I may not have spent the time as "fruitfully" as I might have hoped, I do return to the blogosphere with a renewed sense of purpose. Well, at least for tonight, that is!

So today's hot topic?

Ahem...Why in my opinion prest-o/change-o is an absolute no-go, or, in other words, why you should always look like the guy/girl in the picture.

That's right kids, I'm talking Internet dating and the extreme (sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious) shenanigans that go on when men and women put up profile photos that are not just out of date, but so out of date that they seem a miracle of science (or of science fiction or better yet of just pure fiction...shout out to all the Dorian Gray lovers out there).

Now lest you think I'm just having a rant, let me set the scene.

I made plans earlier in the week to meet up this evening with N, nice late-30s lad from the Manchester area, now making it in the big city as a high street solicitor. All good so far.

We'd exchanged a few emails and both felt ready to take the plunge. He asked me to suggest the location. So, in very unBritish, but very SoCal fashion, I picked a multi-level shopping complex (all steel, glass, and white marble) about equidistant between our respective homes, with the idea that we'd have our choice of over 15 different bars/restaurants and an opportunity for a little retail therapy if the mood struck. First stop--a quick dalliance at the Apple Store; second stop--on for a drink and a little get to know you better chit-chat.

So there I am at Shepherd's Bush tube station at 8pm (or thereabouts). If you know me, you'll know why I say "thereabouts"...always need that 15 minute grace period. Never longer, I promise!

Anyway, so I text my impending arrival and get a message back saying..."It's raining" (um, like every day lately), "so find me just inside the station near the maps and ticket windows." Easy peasy, I think, and head inside confidently upon arrival. Try to keep it very cool and casual, like I'm not meeting some random stranger for the first time. As I make my way over to the ticket counters, I see that there's just one set along the far left wall, and I wonder why he's not there?

Did we miss each other? Did he take a walk to one of the other exits to look out for me? No worries. Figure I'll stake out a nice spot and await his return when I realize that there's a kindly, but "oh-so-not-the-person-I-was-expecting-to-meet" guy in a dark blue suit trying to catch my eye. And then the realization dawns...slowly...that this is the guy.


The rest of the evening was fine, honestly. The shock of it all wore off quickly enough but the possibility of romance was dashed before it ever got started.

No matter what the context, no one likes to be on the receiving end of the "old bait and switch." And so I say, even if you aren't super confident about your looks, isn't it better to know that the person you're about to meet is genuinely attracted to you, that is the you you are now, not the you you were 10 years, 30 lbs and several lost follicles ago?

And believe me, I've dated all types, so I can honestly say, it's not that being older, somewhat paunchy and slightly balding means you don't fit into my attraction spectrum--just ask T, the 50-something Paul Giamatti look-alike that I went gaga for this past spring. (Or for that matter, ask Paul Giamatti himself, on whom I have been crushing for years.) It's just that I don't want to feel duped into making the connect.

Moral of the story: You just can't cheat chemistry.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday on the Heath

So what makes for a perfect first kiss?

Is it the anticipation? The mini Vesuvius of delight and expectation that wells up within and then bubbles deliciously over the top of your curiousity.

Is it the unknown? The terra incognita you travel when crossing from the desert of wonder to the oasis of awareness.

Is it the body language? The twinkle of eyes meeting, the crookedness of smiles upturning, the softness of lips brushing.

Well friends, whatever it is...I just had one.

But let me start at the beginning.

It was a simple enough invitation. "Meet me at the Hampstead Tube at 7:30 for a drink."

But since that doesn't give you any idea of the felicity about to unfold, I'll set the scene a little better. As Sophia used to say on The Golden Girls, "Picture this, Sicily, 1942."

It was a warm summer evening. I was facing a fairly light...alright, alright, downright calendar. The request had come from a tall, dark, handsome man I'd never met before.

Let's just say it didn't take much persusasion to dig out the heels and the go-to dress.

Oh, you know the one. Blue and white print, falls just above the knee, cut close in all the right places. Hot rollers in the hair...thank god for modern eyeliner at the ready, a splash of Chloe to set the mood and I was off for my adventure.

An hour and 10 minutes, 2 tube lines, and a bumpy lift ride later, I was there. Not wanting to look like a wally meeting someone for a blind date, I languidly reached into my purse, fished out my new pay-as-you-go mobile and gave R a ring. So Keira Knightley. So Londonista.

Well, how did I perfect this particular move, you ask? Experience has taught and I'm a quick study...that the phone call on arrival is all basket, no net...and it's a two-for-one play to boot. You look fully engaged as you step out onto the curb, and even better, you know it's him when he reaches for his vibrating pocket.

Well I didn't have to wait long because there he was...all long legs and liquid eyes, leaning casually against the side of the station. A rake of the fingers...not at all affected or self-conscious, just practical...and I saw him brushing his thick hair back from his forehead. And smiling. At me.

"You must be R."
"Yeah, get here OK?"
"Sure. No problems. It's nice to be back in the old neighborhood. I used to live in Hampstead, you know."
"Ahhhhh. OK. Nice. So I thought we'd go to this little pub I know just down the street here and around the corner."
"Sounds good."

So that's how the evening began. And how it all ended, well you know that much already. But in between it was magic.

We talked, we laughed, we pet the 14-year old golden retriever visiting the pub while his owner had a glass or two of Sunday chardonnay. We nibbled on chips...that's fries for y'all Americans...enjoyed a couple of pints and sampled some chenin blanc.

We debated politics, we interpreted each others' strange childhood dreams. We shared growing up stories...about me in the US and he in Iran...and then grown-up stories too. How he came to London to study for his Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and how I just moved back after a long hiatus. And all the while, we drifted closer and closer to that kiss.

So what makes for the perfect first kiss?

You know it when you feel it.

I did.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Diving In

It's Saturday night. Errands have all been run. Dinner dishes are in the sink. I'm sprawled on the couch and Wentworth Miller...yowza, what a fox! entertaining me on the telly. Everything's just as it should be. In fact, it's a rather unremarkable evening. Except, oh wait. Did I mention that both the couch and the bum on it are in London?

What gave it away? Was it the "telly" reference? Or my use of the word "bum?" Or the fact that when you called my cell number back home, the call went straight to voicemail. (Sorry Uncle Bob.) Whatever your clue, I'll confirm it's true. This New Yorker has flown the coop.

And she's loving every minute of it.

So what better way to celebrate than to document my adventures in cross-cultural understanding with a blog. Virgin territory all around. Hmmm, I guess I meant the blog part, not the living in London part. For those in the know, this is round two. But what a difference 10 years makes! In me, in the city, in the number of planned road works mucking up traffic. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

So stay tuned and watch this space. The fun has only just begun!