Five

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Just marked the five year anniversary of my blog.  Wow… I can’t believe it’s been that long.  I’ve come a long way since I started this, although in some ways I still feel like I’m in the same place.  While I’ve finally shaken the albatross of virginity, my sexual experience is still frustratingly limited.  Another year has ticked by with little to show for it.  However I did have a flurry of dates after my experience with Jane.  Unfortunately they were all a bust and I consigned Bumble to the rubbish heap once again.

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First one up was a 37yo nurse.  85-90 percent of the women I see online are teachers, nurses or social workers, so she fit right in.  And once again I seemed to hit it off with someone older.  Only four years older, but still.  She messaged me saying my pictures were awesome, that I seemed like a fun/funny guy, and that she’d love to chat.  So we chatted, and before long things were pretty flirty.

We met a few days later during her work break.  I’ll be happy never seeing the inside of a Starbucks ever again, but it was quick and convenient.  We were also keen to meet and didn’t want to put it off any longer.  I liked her and thought we got on well, despite her dropping a bomb about being married before.  I had no idea.  She had to get back to work at the end of the hour.  She gave me a quick hug, and when I asked about seeing her again she said “we’ll see” and trotted off.

I knew what that meant.  Sure enough, she went from texting 24/7 to complete radio silence.  Didn’t respond to my follow up either.  Apparently that date didn’t go as well as I’d thought.  But I had an old violin I’d wanted appraised and the violin shop happened to be right across the street, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.  They told me they could fix it for 300, or buy it from me for 100.  I went with Option B, and that’s another item off my longstanding to-do list.

#45
I double-booked for the second time in my life.  A few hours after I met Nurse Ghost, I went out to dinner with a 32yo who worked for a nature conservancy.  It was nice to talk to someone with a unique career, and in a field of great interest to me.  We also had much in common with our musical and artistic backgrounds.

She warned me that she was shy and awkward, but that she was also very forward and didn’t have a problem making the first move.  Shy and awkward, but forward?  Uh… okay.  However when we met she was neither shy nor awkward nor forward – just disinterested, evidenced by several glances at her phone. I’ll admit my own interest was dampened when she disclosed that she was a single mom.

talk to girl with kids

Buzzkill.  I did my best to keep things light and fun, but I didn’t seem to be making any headway.  She asked little about myself in return, and by the time the check came it was clear neither of us was keen on prolonging the evening.  Afterwards we hugged good night went our separate ways.  By the time I got back to my car I’d already removed her from my contacts.  I’ve added and deleted more girls’ phone numbers than I can count at this point.

#46
I was almost ready to throw in the towel but I had one more lined up – a young hot 26yo.  I almost couldn’t believe she was interested in me.  She was a teacher (the number one profession of online daters).  We had a shared love of animals, the outdoors, being adventurous and trying new things.  We compared our to-do lists and decided to try an escape-room challenge together.

We settled on the “Killer Countdown.” She joked that she scared easily and might be clutching onto me.  Then she wanted to FaceTime to make sure I wasn’t a psycho before we got locked in a room together.  I’d never FaceTimed before.  It felt a bit weird but it was cool at the same time.   We chatted for ten or fifteen minutes and expressed our excitement about meeting.

The next night I met her outside the escape room place.  She came round the corner already looking less than enthused.  Turns out she reread the description online and learned we started the challenge chained to the wall, and she didn’t like that idea.  Before I could worry about that, we still had to figure out how to get into the building since the doors were locked.  I joked about that being part of the challenge, but she didn’t make a sound.

We ended up having to go around the back, and she was even more uncomfortable when she discovered we were the only ones there.  It’s common to be part of a group, but it was just the two of us.  You should have seen her face.  Well, I’d bought the tickets online and they were non-refundable.  There were five other rooms to choose from so I suggested we try a different one – maybe something less scary like the Game Room?

Nope, she didn’t even want to do that.  She grimaced at me and suggested we go somewhere and for a drink instead (which had been the plan for afterwards).  Sigh.  So I talked to the guy there and managed to switch our tickets to the next night, but I already sensed she wouldn’t be joining me.  As we walked out of the building she hinted that going for drinks would have been a better way way to get know each other than an escape room challenge.

I felt like a total ass when she said that.  Was this really a bad idea?  Then I was annoyed and bewildered, because I had included her in the decision-making.  This shouldn’t have been a surprise.  I didn’t spring this on her out of nowhere.  And what happened to all that jazz about being adventurous and trying new things?  What happened to the bubbly, energetic girl I had FaceTimed with?  She was walking along with a somber expression like we were going to a funeral.

I tried cracking another joke to lighten the atmosphere.  I’d stalked her Facebook and knew she was political, so I said, “meanwhile there’s a real life escape challenge going on in DC – they locked 100 Senators in a room and they have until midnight to prevent a government shutdown.”  Still nothing.  Tough crowd.  We made small talk and then we were accosted by a homeless person.  I didn’t understand any of his rambling speech except for his last sentence when he asked for some money.

I was in a charitable mood – plus she was watching me – so I fished out a dollar and gave it to him.  Then she gave him a 20-dollar bill.  “Wow, that was really generous of you,” I remarked as we continued down the sidewalk.  That finally animated her.  She launched into an impassioned speech about how she doesn’t judge people for their circumstances and it’s hard to ask people for money and why shouldn’t he have enough to get a meal, etc. etc.  Okay, I get it.  Just tell me I’m stingy then.

Before we met the homeless guy I was already wondering why I was bothering with this chick.  Apparently she was wondering the same about me, because she was texting every two minutes at the bar.  Each time I’d stop talking and wait for her to put the phone down.  I asked her about her teaching and her eyes lit up as she gushed about working with developmentally disabled kids.  Otherwise she was a bit clammed up.

Another text came in.  She picked up her phone yet again and I was stunned when she asked if I minded her friend Zachary joining us.  Apparently he lived in the area. Say what?  Were things going that badly that she needed the phone-a-friend lifeline?  I was so caught off guard that I didn’t know what to say besides, “um, no, I don’t mind.”  I figured she must have been really uninterested to pull a stunt like that.

In retrospect I should have just said good night, but I stupidly sat and continued talking to her.  I had a tall glass of beer I didn’t want to waste, and a small and silly part of my brain that thought I could still salvage things.  As soon as we finished our drinks she asked if we could cut things short so she could go meet her friend elsewhere.  Fine, whatever.  I waved her off, and erased her from my phone before she even reached the door.

Thus concluded one of the weirdest and worst dates I’d ever been on.  At least she bought her own drink and gave me the money for the escape room ticket, so I didn’t spend a single dollar on her ass.  I’ll give her credit for that much.

***

I was in a bit of a funk after three bad dates in a row, but a good night’s sleep cured all.  But upon reflection, many of my online dates went like that.  Either I thought they went well but apparently didn’t, or we got on well in text but there was a disconnect in person.  I’m sure most of those dates would have flopped regardless, but at the same time I can’t help think I should have had a little more luck out there.  Especially when I read about the online dates other bloggers are going on.

Of course, dating is harder as a guy.  I’ve also had more success offline than online, as I’ve noted before.  I’m still convinced that I’m better served getting off the apps and putting in the effort meeting people the old-fashioned way.  Half of what we communicate is through body language.  Chemistry is best figured out in person, without pretense or expectation.

So I’m shifting focus back onto the real world:  I went to another jam session, talked to some new people and may potentially join a new band.  I attended my old band’s fundraiser.  I’m getting back on the open mic circuit (I mean it this time).  I signed up for a Habitat for Humanity build.  I’m volunteering at my friend’s animal sanctuary next weekend.   I’m scouring Meetup for new activities.  Things are happening.

Kiwi

Fortunately my escape room tickets did not go to waste.  I had a do-over the following night with a friend visiting from New Zealand.  Second time was the charm for the Killer Countdown, and this time we were part of a group.  Of course.  And it wasn’t scary at all, nor did they lock the door or really chain us up (fire code regulations).  Not to mention we were on camera the whole time.  It was a hell of a lot of fun.

Afterwards Kiwi and I went to the same sports bar on the corner (returning to the scene of the crime).   It was trivia night and we got in on that after missing the first few questions.  (Too bad, because they were about musical instruments and I would have gotten them all right.)  Finally we went to a really cool place across the street for brews and board games.  I had a good time, but it was almost like being one of my online dates.  Kiwi said she had fun but seemed so flat and bland.

Was she always like that? Then again, this is the same chick I watched Planes Trains and Automobiles with and she didn’t find it funny at all.  A weak chuckle at most.  I’d asked her what she thought of it and she was like, “I thought it was annoying, but I understood the point it was trying to make.”  Jesus.  Between that and Bad Santa, I’m thinking I should compile a list of movies to watch with potential friends/girlfriends in order to vet them properly.

Our next outing proved that it wasn’t me – at least as far as Kiwi was concerned.  I met her and her mother and her friend (also from NZ) and we went into the city together.  If it weren’t for me talking or asking questions, there would have been near silence in the car.  We were munching on pretzels when someone pointed out St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and I was seized with inspiration.  I did a bit on Jesus and The Last Dessert that I thought would have killed, but I was greeted with more silence.

Of course, stand-up comedy isn’t my thing… I know because I’ve tried that as well.  I seem to be funnier when I’m not trying.  On the ride home I kept my mouth shut, but they still said hardly anything.  When Kiwi’s brother called from Alabama, their mom put him on speaker phone and it was nothing but one-word/one-sentence answers back and forth for ten minutes.  Christ.  Are all New Zealanders like this, or am I just too New York for them?

But it was a nice change of scenery for a day.  And while Kiwi was here we went ice skating, to One World Observatory, and to the Shake Shack (it was awesome).  My goal for the winter is to cross as many things off my to-do list as possible.  Items keep rolling over from previous years and it’s getting rather lengthy, but I’ve been making good progress lately.  Next up I’m going to try some new recipes and burger joints, explore some local history sites, and do some painting.

Instagram Girl

Even after she flaked on our date, she’d message me every once in a while and we’d chit chat.  Eventually she made noises about getting together so I took that opportunity to ask what happened.

Me:  “I know we were supposed to go on a date a couple of months ago but then you said you couldn’t make it… I didn’t think you’d be interested in meeting me after that.”

IG Girl:  “I’m sorry, I have issues hahah.  I really overthink a lot when it comes to the opposite sex.  Negativity consumes me.  I always choke up at the last minute.  What if he didn’t like me?  What if he finds me annoying?  What if I’m not cool as he thought I was?  That kind of stuff.  I’m working on that, though.  My confidence with myself is slowly getting better.”

Then she apologized because her hormones were all out of whack and she was feeling lonely.  Good grief.  So I still feel like a dodged a bullet.  If nothing else she sounds like work.  I’d rather be involved with someone with more confidence and less issues.  Otherwise… been there, done that, didn’t work.

I haven’t heard much from her since, nor have I reached out.  I’ve moved on.  And that’s the round up.  So there’s nobody else on my radar, no prospects in the pipeline, and I look to be sexless and single for the near future.

But, as I’ve found out, things can turn on a dime.

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Downtown

So, my next post was supposed to be about politics and dating, and indeed I have several pages of rambling notes I’ve been agonizing over. I’ll get to that post eventually, but I have to write about something else first.

I met someone new.  Here’s how it happened:

It all begins with Winery Girl.  We still talk on occasion even though she’s had a boyfriend for the past two years.  Funnily enough, she actually took his virginity.  He had to wait six months to have sex with her though because – as she put it – she’s not a whore.  Uh… okay.  I wasn’t sure what to say to that.

She’s not too crazy about her boyfriend.  He’s basically a seat-filler because she can’t stand the thought of being single again.  She’s also been using the BFF function on Bumble to find new female friends.  She’s having a hard time of it, since all she sees are girls with nose rings and that’s a huge turn-off. I know that because she’s been griping to me and sending screenshots.

Winery Girl dared me to go back on Bumble to see how many nose ring girls I could find.  Ok, why the hell not?  I thought it might be funny.  And since I was treating the whole thing as a joke, I put in next to no effort.  I only posted one (albeit unique) picture and put one sentence in my profile.  Within a couple of hours I had nearly 40 matches from my careless swiping.  I hid my profile before things got crazier.

I spent the new few days culling the herd.   I decided that if I was going to entertain anyone on the app, then they’d better stand out.  A good portion expired without a message.  Many messaged with nothing more than “hi” or “hey” or “what’s up” so I deleted those.  Several messaged me and I responded, only to hear nothing further.  I deleted them as well.  The remainder matched me in goofiness and witty banter, and Jane was the finalist (no nose ring, btw).

#43
We got on so well that I asked her out, despite my original intention not to ask anyone out.  (Yeah yeah, I know…. so much for swearing off online dating.)  Our first date was a few days later at a wine and cheese place, and we were as fun and flirty in person as in text.  However she had a few more extra pounds than were evident in her photos.  Hmm… well, okay.  Not enough to be a deal breaker.

It was light and easy and comfortable with her.  I could relax and be myself.  Still missing that spark from meeting the old-fashioned way, but still better than most other online dates.  We spent a good chunk of our first date planning future dates, and we were at the place until closing.  I walked her back to her car, which happened to be a few spaces from mine.  We stood there talking until the well ran dry and then there was a slightly awkward silence.  “I don’t know what happens now,” Jane giggled nervously.

I did.  I wrapped her in my arms and kissed her. I didn’t hesitate or wonder if I could or should, I just went for it.  I wasn’t even nervous.  Big change from when I was going on dates three years ago.  She really got into it, too.  Almost immediately she was frenching me and running her fingers through my hair, and almost immediately I was super hard.

Our second date was that Saturday.  Jane needed help stringing Christmas lights on her tree so I gallantly offered my services.  She proclaimed that there would be no sex until at least Date 5 or 6.  No problem, I assured her.  However, I remembered Rebecca wanting to wait, yet we fucked on Date 2 when we couldn’t control ourselves any longer.  So with that in mind I came packing a box of condoms.  Just in case.

When I got to Jane’s place I couldn’t help notice the lavish furnishings.  She seemed a bit materialistic, which she confirmed by telling me how much she liked to shop.  She also told me she liked being spoiled.  Fortunately I’d brought a bottle of wine along, but I frowned to myself.   I wasn’t going to overthink things, but I couldn’t help imagine our lifestyles clashing down the road.  No matter.  I decided to not worry about the future and just enjoy the present.

I also couldn’t help but wonder whether Jane wanted kids…?  It never came up in conversation, and she was already 38.  In fact she was a year younger than Rebecca was.  Hmm.  39, 38… for some reason older women seem to be the only ones I’ve been having any real success with.  Interesting.  I do seem to connect better with those a few years older.  And I do find them appealing in a way.  That is, as long as they’re child-free.

We ate take-out and then I helped her put the lights on the tree.  Unfortunately, while the boxes were labeled the same, the two strings of lights didn’t match.  Dammit.  We sat on the couch gazing upon her half-and-half tree.  Then we snuggled together to watch the rest of The Santa Clause on TV.  That didn’t last long.  I’d been there for over an hour, and I was running out of self-control.

I reached over, cupped her chin in my hand, and tilted her face up to meet mine.  A heavy make-out session ensued.  God, it felt so good to do that again.  First time in a year and a half.  Before long I was sprawled on top of her.  After a while of grabbing at the hem she finally pulled my shirt over my head.  Yes!  This was happening!  Once it was off I asked whether she wanted to move things to the bedroom.  At the very least it would be more comfortable than the couch.

“We’re not having sex, but we can do other stuff,” she said.  I assumed “other stuff” meant oral.  Who’s the lucky boy? I thought to myself.  I’d never gotten a BJ to completion before, so it sounded like it might be a good night!  We resumed making out with some ferocity, and eventually my hands made their way to her chest.  I hesitated a bit, wondering whether she’d let me cup her breasts through her shirt.  She did.  Yes!  Her shirt came off shortly afterwards, followed by her bra.

I’ve fantasized about it many times, but actually removing a girl’s shirt and bra is truly a magical experience.  I don’t think it’ll ever lose its luster.  I relished the skin-to-skin contact, spending eons with my mouth on her neck and tits.  I started inching my way down, sucking and kissing and licking and nibbling as I went.  As I approached her belly button, I wondered how much further I could go.  No girl had ever let me go down on her before.

One time with Rebecca, I’d barely started on her when she pulled the blankets around her and proclaimed she was cold.  I guess that meant we were done?  After that, anytime my face ventured too far south she’d stop me and tell me she wanted me inside her.  Wasn’t going to argue with that.  Plus, I figured that like a lot of women she was self-conscious about how she looked or smelled or tasted down there, although she looked tantalizingly perfect.

After a period of time Rebecca told me she wanted me to go down on her, and I said I’d be happy to oblige.  I sent her descriptive texts about how I wanted to put my head between her legs.  Unfortunately that was also around the time she started getting weird and told me she was feeling overwhelmed and needed space.  Whether my texts contributed to that, I don’t know, but in any case I approached Jane’s nether regions with caution.

I hooked my fingers in the hem of her pants and pulled them down. Her panties came with them, and she assisted me in pushing them off.  Then I started to tease her.  I worked my mouth along her inner thighs, first one leg and then the other as her breathing intensified.  I kept teasing her until finally I was face-to-vagina.  My mouth hovered over her lips as I waited for the red light, but she didn’t seem like she was going to stop me.  She was naked and waiting.

So I took the plunge.  I went all-out, working my tongue in and out and all around.  I kept that up for a while, occasionally coming up for air and another mini-makeout session before going downtown again.  This time I stuck my tongue in even deeper, sucking on her clit while working my fingers inside her, trying to remember everything I’d ever seen or read.  Her moans and cries grew louder and louder and I smiled at her reactions.

Suddenly I felt a wave of heat as her body shuddered, and she wrapped her legs around my head and nearly yanked my hair out as she came.  Wow.  That was intense.  I made her cum two more times like that before I stopped.  I’d been at it for at least a half-hour and I needed a break.  My mouth was parched.  She held me tight to her chest and I enjoyed being suffocated by her 36Ds (I’d peeked at the label when I took her bra off).

“You’re bad,” she said.  “You’re not as innocent as you look.”

I gave her an evil grin.  “Definitely not,” I said.

“I didn’t think we were going to do all that…”

“I didn’t so either,” I said, laughing a little.

“What’s so funny?”

“Can I tell you a secret?” I asked, then immediately debated whether I should.  Ah, why the fuck not.  I wanted to see her reaction.

“Sure!”

“You’re actually the first person I’ve gone down on…”

There was a pause.  “What do you mean??”

I told her I meant just that.  She actually sat up and made me look her in the face as I said it again, because she wanted to make sure I wasn’t lying.  Then she goggled at me.

“But… like… how did you know how to do all that?” she sputtered, astonished.  “YouTube?”

“Google,” I grinned.  “Was it really that good?”

“Yeah,” she said, sinking back into the couch again.  “I’m still trying to catch my breath.”

“Well, I’m sure there’s room for improvement.”

“Well, you can practice as much as you want on me,” she said with a kiss.  And then I revealed a little more of my history to her, which further shocked her.  She couldn’t believe that not only was she the first I’d given head to, but only the second I’d been intimate with.  “So I’m your first vagina…” she said dreamily.

However, I was getting the sense that she wasn’t going to reciprocate, and I was right.  Dammit.  While disappointed, I didn’t whine or complain or make her do anything she didn’t want to.  Instead I was just glad I’d had my first opportunity to give oral and I did my best to make it count.  And I quite liked it.  I wanted to do it again.  And I would have gone down on her again had my tongue not felt like sandpaper at that point.

By then we were halfway through The Santa Clause 2 (a sequel which did NOT need to be made).  We cuddled on the couch for a while before moving to the bedroom, but only to sleep.  I’d already figured on staying the night, especially since it was snowing and the roads were treacherous.  She put on her PJs and I stripped to my boxers.  It didn’t take long before we were fooling around again.  We were spooning when she told me I could hold onto her breasts.  No problem!

Her shirt came off once more and I went to town, especially after she told me she likes her nipples pinched and sucked, which I was more than happy to do.  Then I sat against the headboard and told her to lean back against me.  That way I had a great view and easy access to her tits, and I fondled them to my heart’s content. Finally I ended up lying on top, grinding myself against her.  She bucked her hips against me in return, and went harder and faster until she came one last time.

Jane assumed I came too after I rolled off her, and was astonished to hear I hadn’t. Yeah… dry humping doesn’t do it for me.  And her hands never ventured past my waist, true to her word that she wasn’t going to touch me.  Which was a shame, because I had the biggest erection ever and would have loved to have shown it off.  But getting so worked up for so long was a mistake.  I went into the bathroom to whack off, but it was too late.  Wham.  Blue balls.  Jesus that shit is painful.

But I had to relieve myself or else I was going to be wired all night. After that I was able to sleep, and as I drifted off I mused how surreal it was.  If somebody had told me two weeks earlier that I’d be in a new girl’s bed, I’d have said that was crazy.  Yet there I was, and her bed was comfortable as shit.  I didn’t stay for breakfast as I had to get going, but we made plans to meet again during the week.

The following Tuesday we had a bonafide movie night.  And I take movie nights very seriously.  I actually watch the movie, and I even have my own popcorn machine.  She was surprised, but even more so at my choice of movie: Bad Santa.  Not only is that one of my annual holiday flicks, but I chose it specifically to test her sense of humor.  That is critical to me, and I was having doubts.

Well, she did not find it funny.  While I was roaring with laughter, she was going “awww!” every time the kid was onscreen.  When it was over I wiped tears from my eyes and relayed the tale of when I saw it in the theater with my mom and brother, and how people kept turning to stare at us wondering why we were laughing.  “Yeah, I was wondering the same thing,” she said.  Um, because it’s a comedy?  Yup, as I’d suspected we were definitely a mismatch.

After that we had a quiet time snuggling and chatting.  No fooling around, no groping, no making out… I wasn’t getting all worked up again for nothing.  If she wanted to wait to get physical, then we were going to wait.  Until then I was content with running my fingers through her hair, massaging her head and neck and shoulders… all the while marveling at how amazing it was simply to touch another human being.

Eventually we called it a night and I took her home.

We had a fourth date lined up – a Paint Nite – but there was more goddamn snow and it wrecked our plans.  She said she was feeling sick anyway, so that put the kibosh on the next few days too.  During that period I noticed our communication dropping off.  I was holding up my end but she was getting quieter.  Sigh.  My gut told me what was coming.  I’ve been down this road a million times.  So I waited.  Finally the word came down the pike:

“I’m sorry for the late response I have been running non-stop and can’t seem to catch up! I am an idiot for taking up a second job- I have to be at work at 6 am. This is just such a busy time of year etc.. plus holiday, plus my trip, I’m not sure if this is really a great time for me to start a relationship. It’s not fair to you. You are a really nice, sweet, kind of guy and you deserve a girl that has time to give you. And unfortunately I can’t be that girl. I realized all of this today as I finally have a chance to catch my breath and think…”

My suspicions were correct.  And it sounded like a polite way of saying, “I’m just not that into you after all.”  Which would have been fine, because I was starting to feel that way about her.  But I gave her a chance and it was fun while it lasted.  So I told her “no worries” and that I understood.  Thus concludes my latest dating experience.   So while 2017 won’t go out with a bang, at least I got to eat pussy for half an hour and play with tits for another hour.  It was a good thing I went down on her when I had the chance, because who knows when I’ll get another one.

I’m still convinced that Bad Santa was the beginning of the end for her. 

bad santa

Shindig

For the longest time I’d wanted to host a party of my own, and I finally threw a little Halloween shindig at my house this past weekend.  It’s the first of many to come, as I’m turning this into an annual tradition.

The idea for a Halloween party came to me last November when I noticed all the decorations in the store were 50-90 percent off.  What better time to start stocking up for next year?  Then I realized I could combine my desire to throw a bash with my love of Halloween, so I stocked up on discounted party supplies as well.  I packed all that stuff away until this September.

Autumn was approaching and I was waffling.  I’d wanted to have a party, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready.  Even though I’ve been living here for ten years, I still had a lot of work to do on the house and yard.  I finally pulled the trigger on the first of October, creating a Facebook event and inviting everyone I could.  That was just what I needed to spur me into action.  Unfortunately I waited a bit too long, because the weekend before Halloween was even more popular than I realized.  I was in competition with a lot of other parties and other invites had already gone out.

No matter.  Regardless of how many people ultimately came, I was determined to show those who did a memorable time.  I got to work immediately, and since my party was outdoors I had a lot to do.  I rushed to reseed a good portion of the lawn.  I condensed my enormous woodpile.  I fixed the broken Adirondack chairs.  I rented a jackhammer to bust up concrete pilings left over from a deck that was taken down years ago.  If anything, I was finally crossing off long-neglected items on my to-do list.

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Then I started shopping for more decor.  Last year I’d bought 30 bags of spider webbing and figured I’d use those and some strings of lights to make everything look festive.  But I wasn’t satisfied with that.  I wanted more.  So I bought a couple dozen headstones to make a cemetery:

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I still wasn’t satisfied.  First I had to glue on bigger stakes, because the little plastic ones that came with them were useless.  Then I wanted more, but not at full price.  Instead I decided to try making my own.  I’ve always considered myself an arts n’ crafty little bastard, but never really put my skills to the test before now.  This was a chance to cross another item off my endless to-do list.  So I went out and got some foam board and went to town:

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Not bad.  But they needed some color.  And snark:

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Much better.  I ended up with nearly 40 tombstones in all. But I wanted more.  So I took some leftover wood that’s been lying around here and finally put that shit to use.  I made an archway for the cemetery, from which I later hung webbing and lights.  I also made a path through the cemetery using rolls of wooden fencing:

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Pretty good.  But guess what?  I still wanted more.  I made trip after trip to every store selling Halloween stuff, looking for good deals.  Finally I scored big at Home Depot:

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Hey, I needed more bones for my graveyard…  Plus I needed skeletons to hang from the trees and another one to go in a wheelchair.  I hung more lights in the front of the house, eventually using 20 boxes of 21ft strings of orange.  I put out plastic pumpkins, scarecrows and hay bales.  I stretched webbing between all the trees in the front and hung giant spiders on them.  But I.  Still.  Wanted.  More.

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I was envious of others who had those big spooky figures in their yards.  Animatronic witches and goblins and zombies and whatnot.  A family in my old neighborhood had a plethora and they used to hold a spooky walk-thru in their front yard every year.  Sadly they stopped one day, citing financial hardship.  It’s been over 15 years, but every October I still drive past their house, looking and hoping that they’ll bring it back.  But then I started thinking I could just do my own spooky walk-thru instead.  I’d already invested in a couple of climbing figures and hanging ghosts, but I had nothing life sized.  Once again, I decided to try being crafty.  I bought mannequin heads, PVC pipe and black costume fabric and started experimenting:

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Not bad for 30 bucks, and I later added skeleton hands and a scythe.  I was pretty pleased with the results, but some re-engineering is needed after seeing how it functions outdoors.  I still had space to fill outside, so I bought one more big item at half-price:

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The final result:

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With that I brought my decorating to an end… apart from the luminaries I used to make additional paths through the cemetery and into the backyard.  And the lights I hung on the fence.  And the fog machine I had running.  The funny thing is, this isn’t even half of what I ultimately wanted to do, but my guests were sufficiently impressed anyway.  The headstones in particular were a big hit (note to self).

In the end I only pulled in about 13 people.  (Ooooh, spooky!)   I could have easily pulled in twice that had I sent out my invites a little sooner.  Holding my party on the weekend of the 21st would have been even better, since there was less stuff to compete with.  Another note to self for next year, which I’m already planning for.

I spent 200 bucks on food and drinks – definitely more than I needed to, but better to have too much than not enough.  (I’d also forgotten that people typically bring stuff with them too.)  I had burgers, hot dogs, beer, soda, marshmallows, cupcakes and a big bowl of candy.  Next year I’m thinking of adding pizza, lasagna, baked ziti, potato salad, etc.  I’d also like to add more lights and a heated tent (even though we had a perfect warm night this year).

When all was said and done I must have forked out nearly 500 bucks after buying all the extra decor and party supplies and stuff I needed for the yard.  That’s part of the reason why I’d never held a party until now: the cost.  At least, the cost of putting on the kind of party I’d envisioned.  But now that I’m in a great place financially, money is no issue anymore.  Plus a lot of those were one-time costs since I’ll be reusing this stuff next year and beyond.

It was definitely a learning experience for me, as far as what logistics to improve on. It also helps me to be more social and have things going on in my life.  I’d barely finished decorating and setting up before the first people arrived, so I was a bit stressed and frazzled as a result, but I did my best to be an attentive host.  The whole affair lasted about five hours, and by the end of the night we were down to a handful of people.

My buddy Tim got into a heated political discussion with three others.  I could see him getting visibly agitated.  Oh boy.  I knew ten minutes in advance that it wasn’t going to end well, and I was right.  He accused them of romanticizing their struggles and wanting to commit genocide.  Finally he stood up, bade me adieu, called the others cocksuckers, and flipped them off before walking away like George Jefferson. Classic Tim fashion.  I got a kick out of it, as did the others.  We cracked up as he burned rubber down the street.  And what was the argument over, you ask?  Universal basic income, of all things.  When it comes to politics, some people just have no chill.

And that provides a great segue into the subject of my next post: politics and dating.

Boo

I knew it was too good to be true.

Let me rewind a few weeks:  Not long after I joined Instagram, I started combing through other users who’d tagged themselves at my gym.  I followed a few of them – men and women alike.  One girl went to my gym, albeit at a different location.  It wasn’t long until she followed me back and soon after that we started messaging, swapping workout tips and discussing our progress.  She suggested working out together sometime, but I was about to depart for California.  When I get back, I promised her.

I didn’t go on Instagram to find someone, so this was an interesting turn of events!  Was this a real possibility…?

I was a bit under the weather upon my return, so last weekend was out.  In the meantime I had another idea.  How about a haunted house this weekend?  I made it clear that it was a date.  She was totally game, agreeing to it right away and joking that she’d probably be sharing my shirt.  And she liked that I’d chosen something unique.  Conversation was fun and flirty up until that point.

That was last Saturday.

Sunday night she posted an Instagram story.  She had gone out pumpkin picking with some guy.  I didn’t see him, but I saw his shadow while he was filming her goofing off with the pumpkins, pretending they were kettlebells.  Well… okay.  That didn’t necessarily mean anything.  Could have been a friend or family member for all I knew, but I made a mental note of it all the same.

Tuesday night she posted another Instagram story.  One of the clips was of her flipping through the pages of a new workout book.  I noticed “To Katie” scrawled on the inside cover.

“Awesome book!  Gift?” I messaged her.

No.

“Oh.  Autographed?” Maybe the guy who authored the book signed it for her.

No again.  “What’s with the questions lol.”

“I saw ‘To Katie’ written inside…”

“You’re very observant lol.”

I guess I am.  And I wasn’t asking out of suspicion, just genuine curiosity.  However she never did say who gave it to her, and I didn’t press the issue beyond that exchange.  I made another mental note.

Thursday night arrived. We’d still been chatting throughout the week, but not as much nor as flirty as it had been in the weeks prior.  I couldn’t put my finger on it but something felt slightly off.  Then I saw her latest Instagram story.  I swiped through and suddenly I saw some guy’s mug, captioned with “three days late but here’s my #mcm.”  (Man Crush Monday, for those of you who don’t know.)

Dafuq?  “So who’s your man crush?” I asked.

“Oh that lol.  It’s just a dare.”

“A dare?”

“Yeah a nice guy I talk to on here.  Into #gymlife and all that too.  He sent me this pic on here and I told him I’ll post it on my stories.  He said no you wouldn’t, so I did lol.”

“Gotcha,” I said.

But no matter which way I turned it, I couldn’t swallow it.  I can connect the dots.  I felt like telling this chick to pound sand, because it seemed clear there was another guy in the picture and I was wasting my time.  I was busy all day Friday, and by noon on Saturday I was considering giving her the standard, vague “something came up” line.  But instead I asked her whether we were still on for that night?

Unsurprisingly, she messaged back with: “Actually I can’t make it, something came up.  But have fun!” LOL.  Of course.  Probably doing something with this other guy.  Seemed like my hunch was right.  So that’s that.  Another one bites the dust, but it was worth a shot.

Instead I called up a couple of friends and the three of us had a blast at the haunted house.  I jumped a few times, but for the most part it was hard to be scared when I knew to expect people hiding in the corners and such.  It was still pretty cool.  At one point we walked across a gangway inside a spinning tube, and we were dizzy and disoriented as fuck afterwards.  A couple of rooms and hallways were completely dark and we had to feel our way through, and it was those times that I was startled by horns and loud noises like firecrackers.   And naturally we made Samantha walk in front, because she scared the easiest and was great entertainment as a result.

And with that I crossed another item off my bucket list.  We did the haunted corn maze last year, but I wanted to do a proper haunted house.  So that’s done.  Next up I’d like to go apple picking while there’s still a little bit of time left and before everything’s picked out.  Hey – there’s still the rest of the weekend!  And the invitations to my Halloween party have gone out.  A few people have RSVP’d that they’re coming, but it looks to be a small, intimate gathering.  Well… gotta start somewhere.

New

I replaced all my furniture last week, and it’s like being in a new place right now.  And since I acquire so much for free in life, I don’t mind paying it forward by giving a lot away too.  This time I put a mountain of stuff out to the curb: a bed frame, a table, lamps, sofas, books, kitchen and bath supplies, a snowblower, a wood chipper, a bicycle, computer parts, Christmas decorations, electronics and miscellaneous items – you name it.  I posted it on Craigslist and it was all gone by the next morning.

So that’s more stuff off my list, and I crossed off a few others as well.  I went to my first bar trivia night.  I went to goat yoga (as seen below).  I don’t even really give a shit about yoga, I just wanted to frolic with goats.  Another highlight was the female-to-male ratio of 25:1.  But I was still more interested in the goats, who in turn were keenly interested in my water bottle.  No sooner had I sat down did three of them clamber over me, trying to eat the plastic label.  Talk about getting up close and personal.


Now I’m busy preparing my fall bucket list, even though it’s still technically summer for another week.  A week from today I’m jetting out to California (has it really been two years since I was there?)  When I come back I’m going apple picking, going to a haunted house, going on a haunted river paddle, hosting my first ever party for Halloween, and taking trips to Block Island, Old Saybrook and of course NYC.  And now that my car is up and running again, I’m thinking about getting a second one.  Maybe even a classic car.  That would be nice.

I’m gradually retooling this blog (as some of you have already noticed from the updated blog title).  There’s going to be a new focus over time and a streamlining of old posts.  I’ve also taken down my Descent Into Dadness blog.  It’s not getting the readership I’d hoped for, it’s not coming together the way I’d like, and I just don’t feel I should be airing dirty laundry – even if I have changed names and other information to protect privacy.  So that’s that.

And… I lied again.  I always swore that Facebook would be as far as I’d go with social media, but I broke down recently and joined Instagram.  I thought it would be a good way to document my fitness journey.  As a result I’m more inspired and motivated than ever, especially now that I know people are watching and following.  I’ve made new connections, and in fact I’m actually talking to someone new at the moment…

Stay tuned.

Quarterlife

You know you’re getting older when you start pining for the good old days.  Those days of youthful, reckless abandon.  When we felt immortal with limitless futures and endless horizons.

Christ said we must be as little children, and God knows I try.  Just the other week I fulfilled one of my lifelong ambitions by tying an old pair of sneakers together and throwing them over telephone wires.  Now it’s done, another item off my bucket list.

We were the last generation without cell phones.  We were the last ones to make the trek by foot or bike to our friend’s house to ask if he could come out and play.  We even had special knocks so we’d know who was there before we answered.

Kids today will never know the struggle of scrounging for quarters in parking lots, and searching for a pay phone to call home and say they’ll be late.  Now I see them immersed in their screens, standing at the bus stop.  That used to be me at the bus stop.  That used to be me in Walmart in August, buying my supplies before going away to college.  When did high school kids start looking like babies?

I certainly don’t look as young as I used to.  A couple of months ago I heard loud music at midnight.  I went to investigate and found 200 high schoolers partying it up, bottles of Hennessy at their feet and clouds of marijuana smoke overhead.  I thought I could pass myself off as part of the crowd, steal a drink or two before heading back home.  Then some dude asked if I was looking for my daughter.

Ouch.  Then again, what did I expect? I had my first gray hairs before my first sexual experiences.

I miss the days when I could walk down my old street at midnight and find my friend sitting on the curb in front of his house, smoking a cig or nursing a beer.  We would call up another friend, then another, and another… all of them still up at the late hour and down for anything.

We’d hang out until 4AM.  It didn’t matter that we had to be up for work at 6AM.  We were invincible.  Now we’re older, another decade closer to yelling at kids to get off our lawn.  We still work the same jobs, but now we have keys.  Now we have responsibilities.  Now we won’t come out past 10PM.

I miss when we did things spur of the moment.  Now everything is planned.  Hanging out requires consulting schedules and making appointments.  House parties when the parents are away are a thing of the past.

I remember Tim’s dad pulling into his driveway with his motorcycle and leather jacket.  Donny’s mom yelling at him, “You go through girlfriends like they’re fucking water!”  Victor’s parents laughing and swing dancing at the block party.  My friend’s parents were vibrant and full of life.

Now they stoop a little, move a little slower.  Others have had heart attacks or were diagnosed with diseases.  My own father has cancer.  None of our grandparents are left, they’re all long gone now.  Our parents – our last line of defense before facing our own mortality – are endangered.

Outside my front door are two more pairs of sneakers tied together.  On my bulletin board is a list of places to go and things to do.  And sometimes I’ll wheel my bike out of the garage at midnight and race up and down the streets, eventually finding myself in my old neighborhood.

I’ll stop outside my old house, gazing at the window of the room I used to sleep in.  Like Doug Spaulding who came back home to kill Ralph Underhill, I’ll call my younger self out to play.  Then I’ll pedal away, my tires humming along the pavement and the wind whistling through my ears as I tear up and down the hills, savoring how wonderful it is to be alive.

I may not be able to return to the days of my younger self, but at least I can still travel with him in my heart.

Unexpected

#42
I lied.  Apparently I’d only disabled my Bumble profile, not deleted it.  I should have known that, given that the icon was still on the screen.  Derp.  But imagine my surprise when I was notified recently of a new match and message.  I must have swiped for her before I disabled things.  I liked what I saw, and I liked our conversation even better.  When an opportunity arose, I asked her out.  We met tonight.

I went into this date feeling good and without expectations.  I was neither pessimistic nor optimistic, and I didn’t breathe a word to anyone lest I jinx it.  I’ve been especially happy and confident lately, in the best shape of my life, and killing it at work.  There were the usual flutters of nervousness as I approached her, but they dissipated quickly.  We had the same nerdy and geeky interests, and conversation flowed easily and with plenty of laughter.  Unfortunately the place I’d chosen was hosting a “Wine Down Wednesday Karaoke Night” and it was noisy as fuck.

As we neared the end of our meal I suggested going somewhere quieter.  Most girls I’ve dated would take that opportunity to call it a night, but she didn’t.  She was game.  Another good sign.  We walked down the road to an ice cream place for dessert, and she treated me since I’d paid for dinner.  Bonus points.  Meanwhile I was admiring her from head to toe.  She looked good in her pictures, but even better in person.  Damn.  We strolled around town with our treats, eventually grabbing a bench to people watch and continue our conversation.  We swapped adventure stories, compared travel plans and talked about family.  It was relaxed and comfortable and felt right.

After two hours she called it a night.  She lived at home with the parents and grandmother, and since the parents were out she was worried about her grandmother being home alone late at night.  Hmm.  Okay.  I couldn’t stay out much longer myself – tomorrow is hell day at work and I need all the sleep I can get.  We bade each other goodbye and I gave her a hug, just as I’d greeted her.  We each expressed what a good time we had and a desire to go out again.  I promised to get in touch soon.

I’d wanted to go for the kiss, but the moment didn’t feel quite right and I didn’t see how I could do it without it being awkward.  That should have been a sign right there, and I had a funny feeling all the way home.  And I was nearly back home when the texts starting coming in.  Ping.  Ping Ping Ping.  I sighed and wondered what the story was going to be this time.  Finally I got a chance to read what she’d sent me, and I was right:

“Hey. Thanks again for a really nice evening. I want to be honest with you, because I think you’re a great guy… I don’t think seeing you again would be the best thing for me. See, my boyfriend and I broke up a few months ago, and I thought I was ready to start dating again. But as I walked back to my car I kind of just broke down and started crying. I miss him, even though I don’t want to, and I’m realizing now I’m not emotionally ready to see other people. I feel so bad, because I genuinely had a nice time with you – and I don’t want you to think I’m making this up, because I’m not. I’m more of a mess than I thought I’d be. My feelings for him haven’t gone, and I’m just really sad. I’ve deleted my Bumble account because until I get my shit together, I can’t be dating anyone. I’m so so sorry. You are really sweet, please stay positive about this dating crap we have to go through. Thank you again for dinner. It was fun talking with you.”

Christ.  Another long-winded way of saying “you’re a nice guy but you just don’t do it for me?”  Then again, maybe that really is the truth.  She did mention that I was her first Bumble date.  So who knows.  All I know is that I didn’t even bother responding.  I’m deleting her texts and number and moving onto the next girl… whenever and whoever that may be.  Disappointing, but that’s the way it goes.