i probably shouldn't

I want to text Gyan. But I’m pretty sure it’s not ok to send a text saying, “Do you want to make out? I do.”


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He touches my upper arm when he laughs. And he leans forward and touches my forearm when he can’t hear something I’ve said.

We are sitting across from one another at a tall bar table. He runs a finger along my jaw line. His hands are really soft.

I think I know where this is going.

And suddenly, he’s kissing me. Is he really out of his chair? How did this happen?


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drinking and dating

I keep hoping he just won’t call. I can’t believe I’m already having dating burnout, but I just really really want to put on my pyjamas and stay home.

My phone rings as I’m unlocking the door to my apartment. Of course.

I don’t change clothes. Instead of doing something to my hair, I just re-ponytail it. I make sure I don’t have smudges under my eyes and put on some lip gloss. Done. That’s all I care.

He wants to get coffee, and we end up at a Starbucks. Lame.

I hate dating because I’m so tired of drinking things. In my non-dating life, almost all I ever drink is water. Would it be rude to order water on a date? I can’t do coffee. I grab a bottle of some juice blend. He orders a something-iato something-accino something something Starbucks concoction. With whipped cream. Super lame.

Add to the ever-growing list: I want to date a boy who drinks his coffee like a man.

I should have just gotten some water. I pay because I have a gift card. Super-duper lame.

“I guess I’ll get the first round later.”

Does he really expect me to go somewhere else and drink more things? Not gonna happen.

There’s nowhere to sit, so we go sit in a park. It’s cold. I hate this juice. I hate dating. This is going poorly, and it’s my fault.

We walk around a little. He should have had a plan.

I just want to go home.

I say I don’t feel good. It’s sort of true. I mostly just want to go home. And I really was sick earlier in the week.

We part ways. I go to the grocery store, then home to cook dinner for myself.

It is delicious.


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good luck

I meet up with this pediatrician from Brooklyn at noon. We meet in Union Square. I think I’m getting better at recognizing these boys from their pictures, but maybe I’ve just learned to recognize the look people have about them when they are waiting for someone they don’t know.

He’s a little awkward, a little shy.

He has a plan to go to some coffee shop, but it’s closed, maybe closed forever. We go to a different one. I’m not supposed to be drinking coffee, but I order a café au lait anyway. I figure there’s calcium in milk so it’s good for me. He doesn’t like coffee at all, so he orders hot chocolate. I’m not sure why we are here.

We talk. Mostly I talk. It’s like he’s never done this before.

“So. . . what do you do on the weekends?”

I think it’s the third time he’s asked me this.

And I’m hungry. He says he thought the other place, the closed place, would have food.

We walk back to Union Square. He says he needs to buy new shoes.

I wish him good luck.


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just saturday

I had things to do when I left Gyan’s Saturday morning, but not urgent things.

So while I’m lounging around in bed, I get a message from Christophe:

“Hi, Beatrix. Can we talk? I don't want you to be upset with me. I'm sorry.”

In a way I’m flattered that he thinks I’m such a prude that I’d be offended by his grampa cheek-kiss. I wonder what he’d think of me if he had any idea what happened last night at Gyan’s.

And then I feel terribly guilty. Cooper reassured me that it was better to just let him think it was the kiss, to let him have a reason so he could just move on. But I don’t want to scar the boy into never kissing a girl on the cheek again.

I don’t know what to do, but I do what I always do when things are hard: think about something else. I meet up with my boss, run an errand at the Plaza, talk to a boy and set up a date for Sunday, and go to Barnes and Noble to sit on the floor with Pete.

Pete would be a recurring peripheral character on the Harper and Beatrix Show. As I’m having trouble with a desperate and needy boy, Pete’s being one. I read a few million lines of a chat he had with some girls he’s crazy over and try to tell him gently that he needs to calm down a little and not scare the girl away.

He knows, though, and the conversation turns to more Overheard-in-New-York-worthy topics. Pete once slept with a girl on a first date after they played hangman. And, unsolicited, he’s trying to help his pretty friend make extra money by hiring her out as a wingwoman. His Craigslist ad is brilliant, and has already gotten two responses. I’m laughing so hard, I seriously hope other people are enjoying this conversation.

“You want cookies?” he asks me.

We have some pre-dessert dumplings, then head to Milk Bar. I’m not feeling great, so he won’t let me touch the cookies we get. Instead he breaks them all and gives me halves.

“You realize the kind of relationship it looks like we have, don’t you?”

Before I go in the subway, he asks me when my next date is.

“Tomorrow at 12. No plan-- I’m just supposed to meet him in Union Square. The real question is should I go hungry or full?”

He assures me that there will be food since the date is at prime brunch time, but advises me to eat something small (he suggests a yogurt) before I go.


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I tilt my head, “That’s never going to work.”
He furrows his brow, “Yes, it will.”

He says it like a spoiled child, used to getting whatever he wants.

But he’s right. It works. He takes my bra off over my head, no fussing with clasps.

I was ready to walk out the door. Maybe it was the bottle of sake, maybe it’s the way he effortlessly helps me on with my coat, or the way he took my hand in the cab on the way to his place. Maybe it’s his accent. Maybe it’s the way his stern seriousness crumbles and he erupts into absolute giggles or the way he kisses me in public without it being awkward at all.

Maybe it’s the way he gestures and says, “That’s my plant.” And it really is quite a plant.

But I kissed him a little more, and end up being carried to his bed, with my coat, scarf, bag, shirt, gloves, and bra in a pile by his front door.

Maybe I just like him.

I wake up before he does. I have things to do. He admits he’s hungover and lies in bed watching me get dressed.

“You’re cute,” he says, seriously.

I’m on the train by 10:30.


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a pregnant pause

Is it just my facebook friends? Or have yours been popping up with profile pics of themselves holding pregnancy tests?

I’m thrilled for you, really. I’m glad you’re having that baby. I will make him a hat.

But did you forget that you just PEED ON THAT??


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the alley rule

I have a lot of rules.

I don’t date military guys. I don’t date clarinet players. I only date guys between the ages of 26 and 38. Et Cetera, Ad Infinitum.

So I think I’m going to implement a new rule:

If I don’t want to take a guy into an alley and make out with him by the time our second date is winding down, no third date.

(This does not mean there will be alley makeouts, just that I would want there to be. And I’m not sure I’ve ever made out in an alley before, even though I did make out with Tal on 83rd street once for, like, an hour.)

That’s the new rule.


I was seriously busy. I think I was taking a shower, then I called my mom. And maybe I needed to dry my hair. And my internet connection went all spazzy.

But Christophe sent me a message:
“hey what's going on?
I'm sorry if it was the kiss.
I thought it would have been nice to do.”

I didn’t ignore him. . . on purpose. But I ignored him.


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By 11:30 the next morning, Christophe texts me to say he had a great time and to see if I want to have brunch on Saturday.

I am very busy working. I forget about it, because that is what happens when you don’t want to deal with something.

And it’s a good thing I saved Friday, because I’m seeing Gyan.


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A case of the Mondays, updated

I never know what to expect on a Monday. Sometimes, you wake up to a street strewn with bagels. I'm not sure what that means for the rest of the week.

Update: I got home from work and the bagels were all gone. Beatrix thinks birds ate them.

Giant jewish birds.

(And yes, they were sesame.)

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i love sandwiches

I had a really delicious sandwich, which is important when you’ve spent the previous day puking.

I’d felt like I should give Christophe another chance because you can’t talk to people while you are watching movies. And he’s nice, I tell myself. There’s nothing wrong with him.

He laughs too hard when he tells me about a room mate he had who smoked marijuana. He laughs, like, really hard. And that was the whole story: sometimes this guy’s room smelled like. . . marijuana. And. . . um. . .maybe he should never meet some of my friends. Or my boss.

He’s wearing a sweatervest.

The sandwich is good. So is the soup.

He tells me lots of things look good on the menu, and you’d have to come back a few times to try them all. I don’t bite (in a figurative sense, but I’m doing lots of literal biting. I was so hungry).

I tell him I need to go because I have to stop at the grocery store on my way home. He offers to help me with my groceries, but I assure him I’ll be fine.

We walk. He wants to know if I want to have dinner Friday. I don’t want to commit, just in case Gyan wants to see me. I feel bad, but I lie. I tell him I think I have a going-away party for one of the interns at work. I am pretty sure the party is on Wednesday, but I say I don’t know when it is.

I need to turn right for the grocery store; he needs to turn left for the train. He hugs me, so I hug him back. And he plants a big kiss on my cheek.

I wander around in the grocery store for a while and leave with only a loaf of bread and one apple.


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Dating boot camp, Jake the actor

Jake the Actor and I have talked a few more times on the phone. We talked about his childhood, and his hometown, and his choice in hair products. It’s so nice to talk to someone who doesn’t feel obligated by social graces to ask me a single question about myself. Ugh.

I am still in Dating Boot Camp even if I was briefly AWOL with the Mark debacle, so I agree to have dinner with Jake.

“Acting is so difficult,” he explains to me. “I had a tough audition for a Best Western commercial today.”

“How fun. What did you have to do?”

“I had to look at the bed and then at the door.” He stares at me as if he just told me that they had asked him to juggle chainsaws. “It’s really hard to do that with energy in your eyes.” He adds. “Can you tell I’m wearing make-up? I had a runway show today. I totally forgot to take it off.”

Josh did not order anything to eat. He’s got a modeling job next week, he explains. As he stabs another roasted potato off of my plate, he looks up as if he has just realized there is another person at the table.

“So,” he begins again. “Tell me what you like about me.”

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[B: I didn’t go to work and it might have been because I was sick and it might have been because I was hungover.
H: Haha. How was the date?]

I timed it perfectly, so when I got there, he was sitting at the bar, facing the door.
“You look lovely,” he told me.
That immediately became my compliment of choice.

[B: Really good. He was cute and really nice and we talked about things like puppies and we had drinks for over 3 hours.]

Somewhere near the end of my second glass of wine, he put his hand on mine. He narrowed his eyes, and said, “You’re cute.” I hate being called cute, but he says it and I don’t mind.

[B: And he kissed me, but I only let him kiss me a little.]

It was a good kiss. I wanted more, but after a few seconds, I turned my head and gave him my cheek.

[B: And then he walked me to my subway, and he let me wear his jacket.
H: Wow. Very cute. What does he do? Let me guess-- finance?
B: Hedgefund. He went to business school in ----. . . . I never thought I’d know so much about the quality of MBA programs, but I sort of do now.
H: How old is he?
B: 30, I think.
H: Good age. And he likes puppies.
B: Oh! And he has a plant!
H: Like, is it still alive?
B: For two years.
H: Shut up.
B: I know! Isn’t that cute?]

He tells me I have amazing eyes. He’s backlit, and it’s hard to see his face. I wish it wasn’t a work night.

[B: It’s not like we are serious after 3 hours.
H: Of course you are. You are practically engaged.
B: I have to meet his plant first.]


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Breaking old habits

I’m not going to get back together with Mark. Really. I mean it, stop giving me that look. Hey--it’s not like you’re perfect either. Remember the other night when you said that you were only going to have one more Oreo and then put the rest away? And then you ate three more but told yourself they didn’t count because you were standing up? Mark is like an Oreo. A self-esteem crushing, manipulative, deceptive, blue-eyed Oreo.

I admit it; I have no willpower (with Oreos or blue-eyed jerks). So how do I get out of a rut? How do I break bad habits?

Beatrix and I have always agreed that the only cure for boys is more boys. So, I guess that’s my answer. I vow to shave my legs daily (or at least three times a week). I will paint my nails. I will flirt. And I will go on dates. Whether I like it or not.

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I got of the train a stop early so I could swing by the good pizza place on my way home. I was so hungry it hurt.

The date was fine. We’d planned brunch for Sunday, but when I mentioned wanting to see Coraline, he said we could go then, Saturday night. Which was cool because I wanted to see it so much, but you should never go to the movies for a first date.

Before the date, I was trying to explain to Hugo why I didn’t have high hopes.

“He’s too interested. And he’s doing things like telling me I’m pretty.”

It sounds crazy, and I realize I might be a bad person.

He’s an economist. And he was wearing a (completely non-ironic) cardigan. And he’s nice.

On my way home with my pizza, I sort of hope that he won’t call.

But by 10:30 on Sunday morning he’s asking if I want to have brunch anyway.

“You had to choose one or the other, remember?”

But he tells me that he thinks I’m cute and that he’d really like to see me again. And that even though he’s not sure he made it clear, he’s looking for more than friendship.

Dude, I figured it out.

So he suggests dinner on Tuesday. Fine. In his neighborhood or mine. Or he can cook dinner at his place. I tell him I’d feel better going out, and that my dad would feel better about it, too. I might have to use that line again.

I want a boy who is honest and sincere and crazy about me. But if I want all of that, then why is it so unattractive when they act like this?

I could never put it into words, but the internet has taught me a strange and disturbing concept: alpha versus beta.

I am a bad, bad bad person.


p.s. Now that i think about it, I was wearing a cardigan, too. Mine was neither nerdy nor ironic, just preppy and adorable.

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my perfect match

Match.com, you’re crazy.

We share culinary interests and find skinny-dipping a turn-on. (Do I?)

We both enjoy gardening and landscaping. (Did I really check that I like these things?)

But he’s wearing no shirt, clutching the underpants that are sticking out of his jeans, lives in the Bronx, and has kids.

As for his favorite hot spots, he says, “i’ll take her to apple bees or oliver garden or wherever she want to go.”


I’m pretty sure I do not need the internet to help me get boys like this.


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The end of Mark, the beginning of summer

Quick update on Mark:

We talked on Friday. He told me he wanted to marry me on Saturday. We spent Sunday with his family. By Tuesday, he informed me that he loved me, but he wasn't in love with me. (Seriously, do people still say that?)

The good news is that this time I did not go on a two-day bender. It hurts, it sucks, but frankly it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. I haven't figured out why though. Maybe I wasn't in love with him either. Maybe it was just nice having someone miss me when I wasn't around. Or maybe I'm just so worn out that I can't fight anymore.

Also, it's summertime in the south and I bought a cute sundress. If there's anything that feels like hope to me, it's a cute sundress in summertime.

Update number two:
The zipper on the sundress broke and Mark's birthday is tomorrow. Ugh.

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Stages of a broken heart

I have been absent lately. Absent from work, friends, blogging, even hair washing (gross but true). I have been going through the stages of a broken heart. These stages are similar to the stages of grief; After all, I suffered a loss. The main difference is that you only wish the other person were dead.

Stage one: Oversharing
“Mark was at the concert with another girl. And she was ugly. And he was wearing the shirt I gave him.” The bartender listened sympathetically. So did the guy sitting at the bar next to me. And the waitress. And the valet. And the guy selling drugs by the bathroom. Everyone looks like Dr. Phil to me when I’ve been crushed.

Stage two: Intoxication

Stage three: Anger
Now that I’ve got a good buzz going, and the drunk guy next to me confirmed that I’m way hotter than the other girl, the rage sets in. Who is he to drop me? I’m fantastic. I’m cute and funny, and the drug dealer totally checked out my rack. I Am A Catch.

Stage four: Flirtation
For a drug dealer, he’s a great listener…

Stage five: Hangover/sadness
I wake up in the same clothes I wore to the concert last night. My head hurts and my mouth tastes like Parliament Lights. My bed is empty and I can’t call the person who always puts me back together, because he’s the one who broke me. I now remember that I left my phone at the bar on purpose because I knew I would call him if I had it.

I picked up my phone from the bar the next night after work. There’s a message from him:
"I broke up with her after the concert. I would rather be with you. Please call me."

I don’t respond. Hell, I’m already at a bar—time for another drink.

Repeat stages one-five.

I feel worse the next day, if that’s possible. There's an e-mail from him. His words were the emotional equivalent of pleading no contest to a crime: He didn't do it and he won't do it again. He misses me.

I've already called into work sick on account of the hangover and greasy hair, so I decide to go talk to him. We’re not in a committed relationship, he reminds me. And I wasn’t supposed to be there that night. And I should know that I am the most important person to him, and he loves me, and he has missed me for the last three days.

Of all the stages, the worst is the sixth: Reconciliation.

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showing off

I went downstairs to get a bagel at 8:30, so the place was full of children.

There was this two-and-a-half-year-old (I was eavesdropping) sitting across from these cute, blonde twins who were probably about four. He wanted their attention, but they were busy chattering with each other.

He extended one of his arms, then, having gotten no reaction, shouted, “I am showing you my muscles!”

And I though, Oh, baby, you are in for a lifetime of trouble.


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Crazy check

Is it crazy to sign up for clinical trials in hopes of meeting a cute doctor?


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groceries for one

Today I bought asparagus.

And because I am so very single, I was about to spit apart a bunch. It is just too much, and it’s by the pound.

But there was already a perfectly sized bunch there, with one rubber band instead of two.

And I thought, Somewhere in this city, in this neighborhood, maybe even still in this store, there is a person who eats the other half of my bunch of asparagus.

I should totally write a Lifetime movie.


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time out

Everybody. Take a deep breath. And, please, just stop getting married for a minute.

It’s making me dizzy. And a little nauseated. Though, I suppose that part could be all the Easter chocolate I ate.

Maybe I’ll just take a break from Facebook. Or maybe I’ll just take a break from it on the weekends, because nobody gets engaged on Tuesday.

Speaking of Facebook-- I don’t know why I looked up Ali in the first place. I sent him an email in January, but he didn’t answer. He un-friended me a long time ago, and I can only see his tiny profile picture. I think he got married. I don’t know when.

I guess that would explain why he’d moved out of the apartment he shared with a room mate and into a one-bedroom. And it might even explain why he was so insistent that he see me on that one specific night.

It does not explain why he wanted to see me. We had a very non-dramatic chat, and I drank some water.

And I know sometimes I’m self-centered, but I remember asking how he was and what was new.

But I guess I had asked Brian that, too.

Getting married is something that is new, something you mention.

And you know, people want to marry me. David did. Gary asked me when we were six. And once in college, three different boys asked me to marry them within two weeks. True story.

I am highly desirable.

And I am not going to turn into one of those girls. You know, the ones who are just out to find a husband.

Not me.


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frankly, my dear

I ate a regular (not snack-sized) bag of Baked Lays for lunch. And almost a whole pint of chocolate ice cream for dinner.

Maybe I’m just a chub, but it is possible that I am suffering from PMS.

And we all know what the green pills in the dialpac do to us. (Boys-- if you don’t know, you should.)

It’s Sunday. So I was sort of hoping Simon would call, you know, to help out with things in the green pill department. But when he pops up online, I know he’s not still in a plane and must be in New Jersey. I shouldn’t talk to him, because if he’d wanted to see me, he would have called.

But you never want to end up like Scarlett O’Hara. You know, you fall down the stairs and have a miscarriage (or whatever your particular situation happens to be), and you want to ask for Rhett. And Rhett’s outside, wanting to ask for you. But you’re both too stubborn to say anything. But if you’d just spoken up, you probably could have just kept living in your fancy house with the only person in the wide world who will ever really understand you and you’d never have to wear your curtains again.

I still wish I had a transcript of that phone conversation. All I can remember him saying is “I value our friendship. . . “, “It could be worse-- I could have knocked you up,” and “I need to take this call.”

At any rate, I think I think it might be time for a full-on offensive.


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just busy, being a baller

I got up and dragged the bottom of my bag. I stacked up the quarters in fours. $7.75. Paying with change makes buying things feel free, because it’s like using money you already spent. Kind of like recycling. Anyway, the only cash I had left after buying beer the night before was $100 bills. And sometimes being such a baller is just embarrassing.

I put on some pants and a jacket, so I didn’t have to worry about a bra, and popped downstairs for a bagel.

Miguel was there, so it came with a free side of self-confidence.

Miguel taught me the second-best pickup line ever a few months ago when, after weeks of the other guys refusing to wait on me, he’d finally started talking while he rang me up:

“Can I ask you a question?”
“What is your name?”
“Beatrix. Can I ask you another question?”
“Can I see you. . . in my dreams?”

This morning, they are busy, and all he says is, “Beatrix. Good to see you,” with a shy smile.

I decide to break a rule. I have the budget for it. I’ve broken all my other rules, so why not? I ate cake twice at work, not even counting during lunch, even though I was trying to stop being such a fatty and eat real breakfast and healthy snacks. And I hooked up with Simon even though I’m trying to stop being such a slut and maybe get myself into a real relationship. So I order a cup of coffee. I hadn’t had any for five weeks, and who cares about heart palpitations and flutters anyway?

Saturday morning with a bagel and a cup of coffee and 30 Rock on internet tv is my favorite part of the week.

Later Pete calls me from a beach in Hawaii where he’s hanging out with a bunch of sea turtles whose names I can’t remember. We talk about his trip and how to avoid shark attacks and clichés in online dating profiles.

Cooper sent me link for a free week on Match on Friday. If he’d sent it on Wednesday, before I started all the rule breaking, I would have been excited. But I tell Pete I’m not so sure about it now that I’ve broken all the rules, that I’ll decide on Monday.

He thinks we should pick out someone for each other and go on a double date. I agree.

But I’ll decide on Monday. The day after Some Day.


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thinking like a girl

Harper tells me, “Stop thinking like a girl. If he talked about his feelings, he would just say ‘Gosh, I want to see you naked’ over and over.”

She’s right. Just because Simon kissed me after I told him I liked him (kind of), does not mean he loves me.

Even though he started it.

“I was doing so well. I went a month without kissing anyone, but just because it was 33 days between Simon’s visits.”
“So that doesn’t really count.”
“It did until I kissed him.”
“It’s like saying your diet went well, when really you just got the stomach flu.”


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Julianna’s fine with Simon crashing our Thursday night dinner plans, but when I text to tell her, she replies, “I guess we can’t talk about him now.”

Jules has known Simon a long time-- since this whole mess began really. Since the night junior year of college when Simon came to visit me and was my date to a sorority party. The night me and Julianna drank five kinds of champagne before we went out. And Julianna pointed out that Simon was hot, causing me to notice it for the first time. We both decided we’d hook up with our dates if we had a chance, and the dates in question heard the whole conversation through a bathroom door. The night that, after the party, I decided it was a good idea to walk to the next location and that I didn’t have to wear my shoes because my room mate wasn’t wearing hers. (Bad bad idea if you don’t want to be scrubbing New Orleans street gunk off your feet for the next three days.) It was the only time I’ve ever blacked out, and I (reportedly) did a ballet demonstration, had a drink taken away from me, and briefly spoke only French. At some point in a third location, Simon and I started kissing, and I only took momentary breaks from it to see if my cheese fries were ready yet. And the making out was a good idea, because then I didn’t have to worry about the awkward question of where Simon would sleep that night.

Julianna and Simon have lots to talk about-- work, life, and whether it’s ok to get engaged in a restaurant or not. And his crashing dinner is fine because Jules likes Simon. And also because Simon pays.

There’s nowhere to sleep in my apartment except my bed. Being in bed with Simon without touching is strange and sad.

We talk until he falls asleep. His snoring is notably less cute when there is no cuddling.

He only sleeps a few minutes, and when he wakes up, it‘s easy to tell. I look at him. He puts his hand on my back. Fuck.*

I don’t know what to do. He rubs my back slowly, softly. He puts his hand under my shirt.

Fuck. I don’t know what to do.

I reach over and put my hand on his side. I think he pulls me to him, but maybe I do the pulling.

This feels better, even with the nervousness.

I don’t know what to do. Our faces are touching, my eyelashes move against his cheek. I think I feel him moving like he wants to kiss me.

But it’s hard to tell who’s in control here. Kind of like a Ouija board. I don’t want to make anything happen.

But things happen. Maybe not as many things as usual, but things.

I wonder what he thought I meant when we had that talk. Why can’t everything just be Google so I’d have a transcript of the phone conversation? I should have done it over gchat so I could read it over and over and memorize it and analyze what he might have understood.

He gets up early to catch a flight.

“I’ll call you some day when I’m passing back through.”
“Some day?”

Sunday. I misunderstood. He really said Sunday.

(And then I noticed I’d put my underpants back on wrong-side-out.)


*As I am a lady, I do not talk like this. But it is what I was thinking. (And, yes, ladies do eat cheese fries and get blackout drunk and put their underpants on wrong-side-out, but we do not say the f-word, even if we think it.)

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Putting down the hammer

"You're making it much harder than it needs to be. It's like pounding your hand with a hammer because it feels good when you stop," Mr. Wilkes used to tell me.

Mr. Wilkes was my high school physics teacher. I was terrible at physics. It is the only class I've ever taken that I deserved to fail. I used to write apologies to him on the bottom of my tests.

Dear Mr. Wilkes,
Please don't take my performance on this exam as a reflection of your ability as a teacher. You may not even want to grade it. I totally guessed on questions 3 and 5, and I didn't even attempt number 7. I did, however, draw a picture of a cat wearing a bowtie and top hat.

I learned a lot from Mr. Wilkes, just not about physics.

"You're making it much harder than it needs to be. It's like pounding your hand with a hammer because it feels good when you stop."

Mark was surprised when he saw me last night. I was supposed to be at work.

I was surprised when I saw his arms around that girl. He was supposed to be in love with me.

He was wearing the shirt I bought him for Christmas.


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1 2 3 GO

So now that I went a month without kissing anyone, I need a date as soon as possible. Everything else is all set, I just need to start back.

1 2 3 Go.

I was thinking about it anyway, and there was a poster for one of those free dating sites in the subway. I decided to look into it.

I had looked at the other free one, but there was a little too much of a Kid Rock vibe there: too much waist length hair and shirtless-ness.

This other free one? Too much of a desperate vibe.

You have to write approximately four sentences about yourself while you are signing up. Mine was filler garbage. I just wanted to have a look at the boys before I made an effort to be clever and flirty.

Within seconds, I got an instant message from a guy telling me, “Nice profile.”

What? Did you even read it?

And I didn’t post a picture, so it wasn’t that.

The boys on that site aren’t from Manhattan or even boroughs. They’re from suburbs. Gross.

I guess I’ll have to go back to free internet dating the old-fashioned way: making up new email addresses and doing free 3-day trials on Match.com .


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Dating boot camp: Jake the Actor

Karaoke night. It's still early, but a group of gay guys at the next table are already pouring over the song books. One of the guys strikes up a conversation with me. He explains it's his birthday, and that most of the people at his table are from his acting class. He's an actor, he tells me.

He's not gay, he adds.

Jake the Actor, meet Harper the Blogger.

He started with "Paralyzed" by Used. It's not a favorite song of mine, but Jake certainly knew how to work the stage. He had a great voice and clearly enjoyed performing.

He said the second song was a suprise for me. It was "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak. It was cliche. I totally swooned.

A week later, I'm laying in bed after work. The only light is from my cell phone.

"Do you want me to sing you to sleep?" he asks.

He chooses "Hold You in my Arms" by Ray LaMontagne. It's not cliche. It's perfect.


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almost there

One more hour. One more hour and I will have done it: a whole month (31 days) without kissing anyone. Not even a little.

It feels amazing.

I’ve done no kissing. I have not a single loose end remaining. I’ve been sleeping in my own bed a lot. I even made a girl friend.

The days are getting longer.

I did my taxes and bought some food with vitamins (frozen edamame and veggie burgers count, right?).

I think I can make it through this last hour. Things are looking up.


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Dating boot camp: Domino Dave

Domino Dave and I had flirted and exchanged numbers, but we had yet to hang out. Unless, of course, you count the times when I brought him chips and salsa at the pub. Which I don't.

"What are you doing tonight?" he asked as I set down the chips and slid his Sprite towards him.

"Um, I'm working." You would think the salsa would have been a clue.

"What about later tonight?"

"Later tonight is late. I won't be done here until at least 3 am." (This is a major occupational hazard, by the way. Most men are willing to go grab a bite to eat at 3 am-- until they realize that you actually meant that you wanted to grab a bite to eat.)

Dave didn't care about the time. The plan was for me to call him when I finished work, and we would go to an all-night diner for our date. It seemed sort of romantic, getting to know each other over pancakes and bad coffee in the glow of the "Open 24 hours" neon sign. It had to be better than trying to talk to him and he and his friends played dominos. As luck would have it, I finished work early and was able to rush home and change out of my beer-soaked shirt. It was only 2:30-- I was early.

"Hey, it's Harper. I finished up early. Do you want to meet at the diner or do you want to pick me up?"

"Oh, hi.... Where do you live?"

"Right by the diner."
"Uh... (murmur murmur in the background) Umm... hang on."
I look at the phone. Had I somehow misunderstood? An hour ago, when Dave said we should go out tonight, had I failed to clarify his definition of "tonight"? Did I miss something when he said "go out"? Was his definition of pancakes different from mine?

"Listen," I say, clearly annoyed, "We can reschedule if this is a bad time."

"No, it's fine," he says. "It's just that I'm all the way at my buddy's house now. It's kind of far from you. You can come over if you want."

Silence on my end.

"But I don't want it to be awkward," he adds.

Good! He's not an idiot. He gets that this is weird, and I don't want to drive 45 minutes to watch him and his friends play dominos until the sun comes up. Not to mention, this was a first date. And I wanted pancakes.

"So," he says, "Can you bring a friend for my buddy? So he doesn't feel weird about it."

Yeah. Let's make sure he doesn't feel awkward.

I patiently explained that none of my friends were awake at this hour (now after 3 am) and I don't think they would appreciate me waking them up to drive to his friend's house. "Maybe another time," I offered before getting off the phone.

Worst part? No pancakes.


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what happens in teaneck. . .

I was dancing and squirming around in the bus shelter. It was freezing. And I had to pee. And I couldn’t feel my butt cheeks because I had tried sitting on the bench.

We’d waited in Blockbuster for a while, eating five different kinds of snacks that we bought for $8, making us consider going to Jersey to grocery shop. But now Blockbuster was closed, and we were stuck outside eating chocolate-covered pretzels, Milk Duds, Peanut M&Ms, Pringle-like chips, and Starburst.

We’d missed the second bus because it turned out that you needed to consult both a chart and a graphic to know how the 12:45 bus back to the city works. When I’d jumped around pointing “A bus! A bus!”? it didn’t turn the corner because it wasn’t our bus so much as because this wasn’t its stop.

We’d missed the first bus not so much because we’d taken a wrong turn so much as because we’d failed to take a right one. And it took us a while to figure out that the street we were on was curvy and dark and residential and not leading to the bus stop intersection.

We were in New Jersey in the first place for a party, which turned out to be full of old hippies. I’d done shots with men old enough to be my father, thrown things off the second floor balcony, and danced with a guy named Bob.

We both kept saying, “I don’t really feel drunk, but I know I must be.” And we must have been, because sober people do not get stuck in Teaneck, New Jersey at 1 o’clock in the morning.

I should have been worried and annoyed and anxious, but I wasn’t. I don’t think it’s because I was drunk either.

Alix is funny, and she thinks I’m funny. We have compatible tastes in junk food. She’s slutty enough to confide in, but not too slutty to trust.

Guys, I think I’ve made a girl friend.


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boy rats and girl rats

John starts with, “I have a question.” so you know it’s gonna be good.

“Woman troubles,” he explains.
He laughs, “Yeah. . . I can’t figure this broad out. That’s where you come in.”

He explains how he thought everything was great-- he made her dinner, everything was perfect, he took her out to breakfast the next morning. Now she suddenly won’t make plans.

I’m sorry John’s having girl trouble, but secretly, I love it when boys act like girls.

I immediately lay out what John calls “advanced tactics”: Step one- calm down; step two- make plans with someone else before Saturday; step three- be excited, but don’t be aggressive. . . . But I stop myself because this is the old Beatrix.

“You know what? I have all these rules. But I’ve been trying to tell myself this lately, too: you should do whatever feels right and whatever is honest.”

I surprise myself, like the day I told Sam not to lead a boy on and he looked at me with an open mouth.

This is my new leaf.

John gets new information that the girl in question is mean to her friends when they talk to him. (Did I mention that she’s 22.5 years old?)

“So maybe your advice is correct! I should find another girl to hang out with!”

That was not what I said or what I meant.

“I just need to talk to other girls in front of her. . . I’ll be fine. . . Maybe get caught giving a shoulder rub of some kind to another girl. . . I can see it now.”

Again, definitely not what I meant.

But I tell him, “I read in National Geographic once that girl rats like boy rats who smell like other girl rats. And I was like, this isn’t news. Those scientists just need to watch The Bachelor.”


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psa for boys

Here is some advice for boys who want to date girls: Ask girls out on dates.

We rarely say no to a first date when the asking is done properly.

And if you want to ask properly, you just have to follow a few simple rules.

First, use the telephone. Texts, email, gchat, etc. are all too informal and, honestly, a little wimpy. I suppose asking in person is fine, but this makes everyone a little anxious. The phone is better because it shows you were thinking of your girl even when she’s not around.

Second, use this simple formula:
A [I was wondering if you would like to]
B [ have dinner]
C [with me]
D [at Gemma]
E [on Tuesday night]?

Part A - You must pose the question in an interested and hopeful manner. Possible substitutions include [I was hoping you would like to] and [I would like it if you would].

Part B - The possibilities are endless. Just make sure that you have a destination and activity in mind. The activity should be something that both you and she will enjoy and should be conducive to conversation. First dates should rarely involve sitting in silence, so movies and theater are best saved for later dates when maybe she’ll let you hold her hand. Possible substitutions include [have drinks], [go out for coffee], [eat pie], [go on a picnic], [go for a walk], [go see an exhibit], [tango]. Never say [hang out], [do something], etc.

Part C - You must say it these words. This lets the girl know that this is a date. This is not a group activity, and she will be spending time with you alone There are no substitutions.

Part D - Having a specific plan is thoughtful, and it shows that you are serious about wanting to spend time with the girl. You should, however, be flexible. If, for example, you suggest going out for sushi, but the girl explains that she is allergic to rice, you may want to use a backup plan. Possible substitutions include [at Verlaine], [at Joe’s Coffee], [in Central Park].

Part E - Having a specific day in mind helps to ensure that you will make solid plans with the girl. If, for example, you ask to have dinner [next week some time], you run the risk of pushing the plan-making process to a later date. You should be flexible, but offering a specific day will give a starting point. Possible substitutions include [on the 3rd], [this weekend].

After the girl has, no doubt, said yes. You can work out details such as time and where you will meet.

When in doubt about what to say to a girl you want to date, pretend you are asking out a girl on a 1950’s television program. You will appear thoughtful and endearing. And it is ok to be nervous! That quiver in your voice is charming. Take pity points when you can get them.

Best of luck.


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but you are so cute

“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Why not? You are so cute.”

I hate hate hate this conversation.

I try to respond, “Oh, well I don’t marry every boy who asks.”

But next time, I’m gonna say, “Oh, because I’m crazy. I’m clingy and needy plus, you know, really insane. And my sexual appetite is truly insatiable. I can't find anyone to keep up with me.”

I think maybe I need to stop listening to so much Lily Allen.


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so how do you feel about bald?

“My friend wants me to meet his cousin. . . .”

Alix and I, simultaneously:
“Meet him!”
“You should meet him!”

“But I don’t want to. I think he’s ugly. I think he’s bald.”

Alix and I, simultaneously:
“That’s ok!”
“Bald’s not so bad!”

And Alix laughs, “We are going to die alone.”

But seriously, I kind of like bald.


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two fatty tears

John: i'm excited that i've found a girl that i really like. she will probably ruin me though.
Beatrix: good ruin or bad ruin?
John: bad ruin. i'm just a worrier.
Beatrix: no. don’t worry if you like her. things work out when they are supposed to.

I talked to Simon. It was fine. We are going to try to make things less complicated. We are friends.

“Um. . . I have a flight out of Laguardia in two weeks. . . . “
“Yes, of course you can stay with me.”

When I hung up, I let myself cry. I only had two tears.

I stared at the ceiling for a while. Then my phone buzzed.

It was my new girl friend Alix: “Want to come out tonight?”

Things work out when they are supposed to.


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Dating boot camp, part one

As I mentioned before, B and I are quite different. Another key example: She is great at dating, and terrible at relationships (her assessment, not mine). I, on the other hand, am great at relationships and pretty awful at dating.

Ok, I'm bad at both but there's no reason to point out all of my flaws at once.

It's not that I am bad at the actual dinner and movie portion. I don't talk about ex boyfriends or order the surf and turf. It's more my choice in my date that seems to be flawed. In my attempts to change (because that's possible, right?) I decided to start a dating boot camp. Dating boot camp means that I had to accept a date with anyone who asked, even if--and especially-- if they did not fit my "type". It was a social experiment designed to challenge my preconceptions/misconceptions about what constitutes a good partner. And worst case scenario, I'd get some free dinners and great stories.

First up: Domino Dave. Dave was a regular at my pub, but not like Norm or Cliff from Cheers. Dave caught my eye because he and his friends just came in to play dominos. They'd find a quiet corner of the bar, spread out the pieces, and play for a few hours. Dave never ordered more than a Sprite, and I certainly never saw him drunk.

Dave was tall, blonde, and sober. Certainly not my type.



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2008: the exciting conclusion

part 2

Part 3: December

Alistair texts me while I’m out shopping. I’m surprised because I haven’t heard from him since April? May? When I wouldn’t give any explanation for not wanting to see him anymore. The truth is that I had bigger hopes for how things would happen with [Nickname].

Ali wants to get together. It’s not a good night for me because [Nickname]’s having a party. But Ali insists, so I say I’ll stop by on the way.

It never rains, you know?

I’m careful not to drink straight out of bottles. I want this to be a good party. I’m in a party dress and everything.

I don’t realize how drunk [Nickname] is when we all head out to a place across the street. He insists that I leave all my stuff in his apartment “because you’re coming back.” But while I’m talking to Tabor, Ty pukes on us. Seriously. Then he disappears. [Nickname]’s doorman lets us in even though no one’s answering the phone. [Nickname]’s there with some girl. And my stuff’s in the bedroom. Mac doesn’t live there, but he’s locked in there with a girl of his own.

I insist that I’m taking the subway home. It’s 3 a.m. Tabor hails a cab, puts me in it, and follows me in. He wants me to just stay at his place because it’s closer. I’ve just met him that night. And I’m covered in puke. I do not understand boys. He tells me he’s not like [Nickname] and Mac, but I want to go home. He gives me money for the cab ride the rest of the way and gets out.

Things are out of hand, and I’m exhausted.



I’m great at dating. I’ll wear something cute and curl my hair and the conversation won’t stop.

I’m trying to be better at relationships. So I’m taking a break, and I’m not going to start back until I’ve tidied up all these loose ends.


p.s. we named him Prince Charming.

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2008: the plot thickens

part 1

Part Two: Summer

Summer is easy with its long days. Work is busy. I don’t eat much, but I thrive on adrenaline and sunshine and boys.

I worked 77 hours that week. And I kissed five boys.

Fred was in town the weekend before. He’s my last college boyfriend. I wonder how things would have ended with him if we hadn’t had to just walk away from it. Monday night is nothing like the wild night we had in his hotel, but he stops in for goodbyes and a little makeout.

Wednesday is a late night at work, and the sky bursts open. [Nickname]’s place is much closer than mine. By that point, I knew that things were never going to work out with [Nickname]*. But he fed me Cheerios before we got in bed.

Saturday, Hugo’s in town. It’s good to see him. We get caught in the rain, and find shelter in the big windows of the Met. We finally give up on staying dry, and make a dash to a dive bar. We get a little drunk, so he suggests we take a hot shower. I laugh, but I know he’s not joking. So we do it.

Later that night I get a text from Mac. He wants me to meet him at a wedding reception. I say no, but when he prompts “live a little”, I give in. I get a call from Cooper, a boy I’d met the week before, and talk to him in the cab on the way to the Mandarin Oriental. I try to catch up with Mac by downing tequila shots. We dance, and after giving him my cheek a few times, I let him kiss me on the lips. I sleep in his bed that night.

Sunday morning, it’s a cab ride of shame, with me in gold heels and a cocktail dress that plunges most of the way to my belly button. But this new boy Ben wants to take me to the Botanical Garden, so I shower and change. I fall asleep in the grass, and when I wake up, he kisses me a little.

It was fun, but this can’t last. Karma catches up with me, and I fall for Cooper. He’s not what I’m looking for, and he’s juggling almost as many girls as I am boys. It’s a mess. And he doesn’t choose me.


*As this boy is our only overlap, I'm consulting with Harper on what we should call him.


part 3

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2008: a year in review


I’m just lounging around in my apartment with big hair, full makeup, gigantic vintage clip-on earrings, a cut-up t shirt, and panties thinking about how, for someone who claims to date so much, I’ve been a little boring. Sure, there are always boys, but this winter I’ve been doing a lot less dating and a lot more moping and contemplating than usual. I’ve been eating a lot of pasta.

I should probably explain the kissing moratorium. And the sudden desire to simplify everything.

So to get you all up to speed, I have prepared for you a recap of last year: a work in three parts.


Part One: Winter

I woke up in David’s bed. He wanted to marry me, and I’d been playing along. I sort of wanted to believe in it.

I woke up, and I just knew it. My whole face hurt.

I can’t remember what started it. I guess we were arguing, but I wasn’t putting up much of a fight. It had been four months; I am so predictable. And the light hurt.

He said I was immature because I wouldn’t move the sheet from my face. But I couldn’t.

I couldn’t do it. I just woke up and knew it. It was over. This time for real.

He had to go to work. It was Saturday. That’s how things were. He left. I wanted to leave. But I couldn’t. I went back to sleep.

The next day I stopped by, picked up my things, and left his key. He stashed cab money in my stuff, and I found it when I got home.

The dark months are hard


part 2

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