The Anonymous Dater

The ironic truth about living in a densely populated city is though you are surrounded by people, it is easier to go unnoticed than residing in a small Southern town just West of the Tennessee line. You see, unlike those tiny towns I grew up in, in New York, people realize they could know your business if they asked, but most of the time,they  just don’t care.

Though we may never realize it – any place we decide to go and grow roots – there will always be more strangers than friends. There will always be people coming and people leaving, and even if we travel the same route or road the same way, every single day, there will always be someone new who shows their face. And the reality of it is, if we’d like to not display ours for the world – we don’t have to. Especially here.

If you want to be anonymous, the second you take a step out of your apartment, you can put iPod buds in your ear, raise the volume on a song with a beat to wake you up, and off you go. To the subway, of course, if you’re trying to lay low – after all, if you ask the monetarily blessed of Manhattan, they feel sorry for the “poor people” who have to take the train. Down the stairs you’ll ascend into the darkened transit and there you will sit alone, with a very rare chance you’ll recognize anyone at your stop. After bravely leaning against a pillar or walking the track to pass the time, your chariot will eventually arrive, but there will be no Prince to lend his hand as you step up. (You don’t need his help anyways). As you ride uptown or downtown (the direction never quite matters), you’ll sit to yourself, music still playing (but probably lowered), as you read the latest magazine or yet another Vampire-inspired novel that I still can’t jump on the bandwagon for. When the doors open to your destination, you’ll exit, without slipping a word to anyone or touching anything. Out onto the street you’ll rush, walking past people eying an underground performer, a foreign family unsure of which colored-line to take, and a man who thought your blue scarf looked stunning on you. But did you notice? No, you were lost away in whatever playlist you picked, thinking about getting to instead of living in. And then, just as one could predict, your feet touched the glimmering pavement and you blended into the crowds, bumping your way through elbows, and mumbling “excuse me” only when absolutely necessary.

It is one thing to be an anonymous New Yorker – the city is actually quite ripe with them. They are those people who’d rather not be bothered by the things you can’t predict or the chance conversations that can actually be the very thoughts hat turn your perspective. They are the ones who simply don’t want to be interrupted as they go from point A to point B, they just want to leave and arrive, without experiencing anything between.

But what they don’t realize is so much of the best of life is in the in between. And like one of my friends always says, “If I’m going to pay this much to live here, I’m going to get my money’s worth!” She’s right – if you’re ignoring the characters and the connections that  your address entertains, what’s the point?

After all, if you’re anonymous on the streets, do you really expect to meet anyone captivating? As much as we all complain about our single status and how we are never noticed by the type of guys we like, are we making ourselves available for someone to approach us? As lovely as it sounds that a man was so astonished with our beauty, that from across a crowded subway cart, he battled the straphangers to simply ask our name, and then vowed he’d find us again (maybe through Craigslist’s Missed Connections) – don’t you think that’s a little far-fetched?

Worse than being an anonymous resident is being an anonymous dater – but more often than not, they are one in the same. I’m lucky to not be a shy type of person, but even with as outgoing and normally fearless as I am in the dating market, I have to push myself. I don’t always feel my very best or my most attractive, but I also know that confidence is more important than anything – zits and bloated tummies aside. Anyone, man or female, is intrigued by someone who is intrigued by themselves. And if your eyes are peering toward the pages of a book for ten stops or at your drink for thirty minutes, how will anyone see that fire that only belongs to you?

They won’t.

There are times that call for anonymousness. Sometimes it is refreshing to ignore the rest of the world and go at your own pace, without worrying about what someone else prefers. It is a nice cloak that New York offers to its inhabitants – as if it is saying, “I know I’m tough on you, so every once in a while, I’ll let you disappear.” But remember, that robe is only meant to be momentary -not permanent.

Because the longer you engage the anonymous title and make yourself more into a stranger than a person, the more difficult it is for someone to remember youR name. Or even worse, the more you lose touch with who you are, drowning in a sea of people you’ve never seen and have stopped noticing. Take the chance – take the dive – and try looking up, instead of looking away. Remember to love yourself and know that that love will translate into conversation and give you that energy you need to be alluring. Notice the unnoticeables, listen to the city instead of the Biebs, read the lines on someone’s face instead of the WSJ, and give yourself more credit than just a statistic in this city’s census. Make yourself someone who lives in your own life, in this city, or wherever you are- not just someone who is passing by, anonymously.

Tequila vs. The WTF Moment

I once went to a free open bar at a joint in Murray Hill. This was before I discovered this particular part of New York is breeding ground for frat guys who never wanted to leave college and still enjoy beer pong more than making a career or adult life for themselves. Even in school, where I was in a sorority and I thoroughly enjoyed Greek life, I never dated or slept with a guy in a fraternity. There has always been something about their Solo cup-decorated apartments, perfectly styled hair (or looks that resemble the Biebs), and stained Ralph Lauren Polos that turned me off.

Imagine that.

Nevertheless, when a friend found booze for free on PulseJFK and invited me to come, I followed in suit, high heels and push-up in tow. Fast forward to midnight, way past the penniless power hour: picture my friend with smeared red lipstick and crusted mascara, sucking face at the corner of the bar with a guy I believe was named Todd. And then there’s me, turning on the charm with a dude who told me he worked for MTV. I’d say what he did for them, but instead of telling me, he told my tequila – which is gladly no longer with me.

At this point in the night, my friend lets me know she’s going home with Todd, who claimed he was one of the Mets. She later confirmed he was, but more of a benchwarmer than an actual athlete. Still fairly new to Manhattan and as broke as an early-20s gal can get, I asked her not to leave (I didn’t want to pay for a ride home). Obviously not one of my closest companions, she encouraged me to go with the MTV man and said she’d text me when she arrived in Hoboken with Todd. I responded with a half-drunken smirk, followed by thoughts of how much I felt sorry for her that she was leaving for dirty Jersey.

Even knew to the city, I knew that wasn’t a favorable ending point for an evening. (Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who takes the PATH at night).

As I watched her exit into the rolling crowds of the M.Hill, Mr. MTV turned his attention to me and asked if I needed another drink. I refused while nodding my head in agreement. Intrigued by my drunken stupor, he welcomed more company from the liquor that not only heats me up, but makes everyone around me instantly hotter. And thus, in the next 20 minutes, I fell for Mr. MTV.

In the bits and pieces I remember, I imagined him opening doors (both literally and figuratively) for me at his company and attending fancy parties ripe with celebrities. I may have devised a fantasy where he introduced me to Ryan Reynolds at rooftop gala in the middle of June, where he instantly found me irresistible and I left Mr. MTV in a dramatic exit as I whisked away to Paris. Perhaps Rome. Hell, I’ll settle for Madrid, if need be.

Mr. MTV, noticing my inability to focus as he enthusiastically bragged about his corner office (or was it a cubicle with a view?), whispered, “Do you want to go back to my place?” Before I could comprehend, tequila (who knows this dude better than I do, apparently), nodded yes.

In barely enough time to grab my bag and cardigan, I found myself hailing a cab, hand-in-hand with Mr. MTV. “I live, like, really close by, in Union Square,” he reassured. Unable to comprehend my coordinates (or to really care), I again, allowed tequila to control my motions by giving him a slurred, encouraging grin. In what seemed like an eternity but probably equated to ten minutes, Mr. MTV had us heading cross-town to an apartment he lived by himself. Somewhere between allowing him to cram his tongue half-way down my throat, telling me to relax, and he does this sort of thing all the time -I woke up.

I could give it an eloquent name, but in all fairness, it was simply a WTF moment.

As Mr. MTV is chatting with the driver, I looked out my window to catch a glimpse of a familiar landmark and realized what I was doing. As if it was in slow motion, I looked down to see my hands, still stamped from the beginning of the evening. I wiggled my fingers to make sure they still had feeling. I was glad to find, they did. I checked to see if I had everything with me that I started with and minus an earring, I thought, “Good job, Linds. All together.”

But then the sobering side of me argued, “Um, no. Look again. You’re a hot mess. Where are you going?”

So, without a word to Mr. MTV or gaining enough courage to look at him, I shouted to the cabbie to stop. Maybe the driver had been in this situation enough times, but he pounded the brakes immediately. Without hesitation, I threw open the door, stumbled my way ten steps across the street, shot my hand in the air, and magically, another yellow-and-black carriage swept me away to a place much better than the place I was heading: home. Alone.

Sometimes it is easy to know when it is time to walk away.

Unfortunately, most of the relationships that leave the most damage aren’t created and ended in a matter of hours. They are often the ones that are a collection of times where we depend on our staying graces as much as we peer over at our boots-made-for-walking, and the ones that Katy Perry claims are measured by fluctuating temperatures. They are the ones encompassed by exhaustion and often leave us, just as I was in my tequila haze, one hell of a mess. And though we know it is so not right and against our better judgment, we always stick around. Because somehow we think – or we convince ourselves- there’s a way for it to work out. If we can only get over one thing, if we can only be brave enough to stick around while he makes up his mind, or if we can establish a scenario where he’ll miss us. That’s when we will be justified in our one-night stand or our shouldn’t-have-lasted-as-long-as-it-did.

Maybe for some couples the patience pays off and the rewards are plenty.

But most of the time, tequila (or denial) comes in the form of syrupy romantic notions that against all other rational thought processes, tells us to keep going and going, when really, it’d be best to steer away from another tall drink of complication. Because while shots in a glass can be difficult to swallow, a shot to the broken heart and at our swollen pride, burns much longer. It is only when the rose-colored glasses are removed and the love drunk haze wears off that we see a relationship or a man for what he really is: a bad idea that’s best left on Saturday night (or in the past), where he belongs.

Margaritas, Mayhem, and Meagerly-Dressed Men

What happens when you mix three pitchers of highly-intoxicating margaritas, five flirty friends (including a wonderful gay work hubby), free blowouts and styling, unlimited drinks, and half-naked men dancing within three inches of you?

One hell of a hangover and one fabulous lesson about being a single gal in New York City.

With the kickoff for New York’s Fashion Week (where I enjoyed a lovely presentation from Timo Weiland), an online women’s magazine and deal/coupon site, The Luxury Spot hosted a Bachelorette Party that instead of celebrating the fact someone was ending their days of singleness, they invited people to commemorate that flying solo could just be beginning.

Intrigued by this spin on a typical girl’s night out that involves tiaras, phallic shot glasses, and bridesmaids drinking themselves into a depressed oblivion, I gathered a group of my favorites and headed to Chelsea to play tribute to my unaffiliated with a man relationship status.

Like most great evenings, the gang hit up a spot the work hubby, J and I discovered a few months ago where prices are cheap and the tequila is abnormally strong. Well, stronger than usual, anyways. In my leopard print pencil skirt that’s probably a tad too tight (but I rock it like its not), we devoured chips and salsa while discussing current events that really matter – like the Biebs and our anticipation for the Grammys, sexual positions that hit the right spot, and LLilo’s latest disaster. Filled with warmness – both from the great company and the green magical liquid – we hopped a cab to Juliet Supper Club, where we were greeted with many women (and men) dazzled to dance away and toast to The New York Singleland.

Once one of The Luxury Spot’s leading ladies led us out of the crowd and into the festively decorated space, the group found its way to the open bar – where all of the Southerners squealed over a drink named Scarlett O’Hara. The intention of the drink was rather clever and by about number two, when you swear a male dancer is locking eyes with you, you frankly, don’t give a damn.

Or at least I didn’t and that’s when from across a bedazzled room, as a Remington stylist curled my hair while I sipped my red concoction, I started doing The Look at a man I’ll call Mr. Thong.

Oh dear.

Of course, its part of his job to flirt with the lovely, eligible or taken ladies who feel a little less guarded than normal, but Mr. Thong formed some sort of strange attraction to me. Maybe not strange, but by my somewhat reserved upbringing in the rolling hill of North Carolina, seeing a man roll his peak in such an enticing (and hilarious) manner, was quite the experience. And being a newfound lover of my single title, was curious to nail the story. I mean, I heard this particular has his own bobble head and all – though I’m pretty sure my friends and I were more distracted by his other gyrating one.

After posing for a few pictures with us, where Mr. Thong attempted to liplock with me, I returned to my seat, where my friends and I, captivated by our first experience with nearly nude dancers, continued to snap pictures and well, giggle, continuously. As I was looking at the shots with my friend E, Mr. Thong came over to our booth and cuddled up next to me.

“So, my name is Mr. Thong. What’s yours?” He smiled, as the light reflected off of well-oiled, chiseled, and tan body. Even in my haze, I made a plea to someone (not sure who, at the time) that he didn’t get his goo (from any place) on my silk top. Ew.

Never mind my distraction of his stickiness, I was stunned by the fact this dancer-dude was speaking to me, I somehow managed to tell him my name, what I did, and hand him my business card. You know, the one with my phone number, email address, and link to this blog?

Smart move, Linds. Smart move.

My friends, equally tipsy from Scarlett O’Haras and the residue of margaritas a few hours earlier, found themselves hysterical over my willingness to entertain the entertainer and we cheered again to the absurdity of the evening.

After gathering our goodie bags and coats, and splitting a cab uptown, I thought about how long it took me to get to this place. To a place where I could freely let myself and my inhibitions go. Where I could enjoy an evening without expecting a phone number, without wondering if someone would hit on me, without hoping Mr. Right would be at the next door, the next bar, or the next street corner. That an interaction with Mr. Thong didn’t mean I’d met my match, but that I just had an interaction for the books. Or the blog, I suppose.

That instead of focusing on the fact I was alone, I relished that I had the opportunity to be selfishly fabulous with my friends and enjoy their smiles as much as I would ever enjoy the grin of a stranger. That without a man, without the desire for one, without valuing the validity of anyone’s approval or interest, I was still happy. If anything, I was happier to not be obsessing and not be upset about things that fate has a hold on anyways.

Walking a block to my apartment, shivering in the cold, my hair curled up something fierce, and designer stilettos carefully avoiding New York’s influx of black ice, I realized I was actually living a phrase I’d always sang and quoted, but never really embraced:

Sometimes, girls just wanna have fun. And J, too, of course.