Why Age Isn’t Just a Number

I chased P for roughly five months, and by chased, I mean awkwardly drummed up reasons to interact with him at work and pretended that these interactions weren’t meant to be romantic in nature. He quickly earned the title “Dr. Boyfriend” among my group of nurses several weeks before he asked me to get a drink with him after work and the secret nickname became a reality. Before our first date, I hastily forced my best friend T to give me an age that I would deem “too old,” since I was having trouble pinning him with an estimated age. The number we arrived at was 33, which turned out to be exactly right. He was 33 years old, a doctor from the Middle East who had moved to the U.S. four years ago and Rhode Island five months prior to our date. Family was what brought him to RI, something that drew me to him immediately, but not the only thing. He was smart, but in a way that I thought to be uncommon. It was an intelligence that could only be earned through experience…I guess we could call it wisdom at the risk of sounding cliche. He oozed self confidence and genuinely seemed to give a damn about the people he cared for, something that is less common in the world of healthcare than one might assume. I could listen to him tell stories from “back home” for hours in his particular brand of broken English, and many days I did exactly that. He was, in all honesty, a good man.

From the beginning I was very skeptical of the relationship because for the life of me, I couldn’t understand what this successful older man from halfway across the world saw in me but for whatever reason, he was amused by me and treated me like a princess. I was so skeptical, in fact, that I flat out asked him if he even liked me, which was met with laughter and reassurance that “of course, and if that ever changes, then you’ll be the first to know.” It was a seemingly perfect relationship- P and I could discuss our jobs in a way that only two healthcare workers could, he “loved” how “American” I am, and I enjoyed his typical Persian male persona that was, at times, eye-rollingly adorable. We could laugh at each other, helped each other, and, were quite simply, good together.

Roughly one month later, he stood by his word, and ended the relationship in what was certainly the most surprising but amicable breakup I had ever experienced as we were sitting on his living room floor one morning. He assured me that we could date for a very long time and it would probably be a very happy relationship, but that he just wasn’t sure and was too old for uncertainty. He told me that we would be friends and that his time with me would always be very important and special to him, and with a look on my face that I’m sure can only be described as dumbfounded, the only word I could muster was “okay” as I walked out of his apartment to digest what had just happened.

The strange thing about the breakup was that while I was both surprised and disappointed, I wasn’t all that upset. Ten minutes before my descent in his elevator, I would have told someone they were nuts if they informed me that P was about to break up with me. But when it happened, I was, in a way, met with feelings of respect and understanding rather than devastation. Not a single tear was shed. So for the past two and a half weeks, I have found myself asking why this is the case. Why did such a wonderful person that I had chased and was so drawn to not leave a more lasting impression on me?

The fact of the matter was that he did leave a lasting impression, but not in the form of being “the one”. An easy answer is that whatever “it” is wasn’t really there. I have, of course, experienced “it” before and yes, maybe this was different, but I don’t think it was that simple, because in a lot of ways “it” was. I enjoyed every second I spent with P and hung on his every word, but something was missing. P was, to the day, nine years and six months older than me. We tend to overlook the parts of our lives that may be in the relatively recent past so quickly that those nine years and six months were a much bigger obstacle than I had initially thought them to be. P had experienced things that I am likely years from understanding, and I am experiencing things right now that P is years past. My life became full of “act like you’ve been there before” moments as we frequented expensive restaurants and fancy bars that without P, I wouldn’t even know existed. While I smiled ear to ear and laughed through every second as I toured P’s life, we were missing a common ground that my time dating P has made me value more than anything.

There is something to be said about experiencing your twenty-something years with a fellow twenty-something. Your first big kid interviews, your first real person job, your first (seemingly) baller paychecks that you can blow on nights at rock clubs, laughing and talking over random bands as the thirty-somethings next to you tell you to pipe down. That was what I missed with P, and while being wined and dined was beyond enjoyable for the months that it was my reality, I subconsciously missed living life as a lost twenty-something trying to find exactly where I fit into this world, as I’m sure P missed living life as a thirty-something who already had that figured out. In short, P was right- perhaps my time is better spent navigating my twenties with someone whose imperfections and insecurities are similar to mine, so that they can be hashed out in a way that only another twenty something can understand- a lesson that only P could have taught me.

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Val’s Top Five Best Picture Nominees

It’s that time of year, folks! Although the Academy Awards are still about a month away, it seems that the year in film that was 2013 is getting more hype than most in recent memory. From artificially intelligent operating systems to Miss Congeniality being catapulted through space, 2013 delivered in a big way with diversity of subject matter and a range of performances (by the men, in particular) that won’t soon be forgotten. With that, here is a look at my top five in the field of Best Picture nominees.

5. The Wolf of Wall Street

When I started to put this list together, I was surprised that a film I enjoyed as much as The Wolf of Wall Street barely made the top five. The shockingly true story of wolfstock broker Jordan Belfort was a long one, but one of the strongest points of the film was its length (Scorsese actually had to cut an hour of the film to make it slightly more palatable for a cinema audience). While it has been criticized by feminists for its portrayal of women, and the families of Belfort’s victims for romanticizing the criminals as they made their living  stealing from those less fortunate, it told what the real life Wolf has deemed an accurate interpretation of his rise to royalty. The film begins by presenting the viewer with a “nature versus nurture” type quandary as we are introduced to the character of young Belfort who, upon meeting Matthew McConaughey’s coked out, weathered wolf, refuses to have a single drink at lunch while McChonaughey does all but poor vodka down his throat. As the viewer navigates through the cocaine, liquor, and Quaaludes, it’s easy to lose sight of where we started with Belfort and how he became the monster in the film’s most sobering sequence. The, as Leo called it, “film within a film” or “lemon scene” is a seamless transition from the first 3/4 of the story that focused on the sex, drugs, and the false sense of security that comes with having money to blow (in the most literal sense) into the world of darkness and despair of the people surrounding Jordan Belfort as his empire crumbled before his eyes. Scorsese and DiCaprio were brilliant as ever, and with Kyle Chandler’s performance as the FBI lead on the case, specifically on Belfort’s boat, and lest we forget, Jonah Hill as Belfort’s partner in crime, Wolf was nothing less than a masterpiece. That being said, the big awards will likely allude Wolf. An adapted screenplay win would be a stretch with the next film on my list in the running, but a well deserved stretch at that.

4. 12 Years a Slave

Again, it’s downright absurd that a film as poignant  as 12 Years a Slave didn’t come in at my number one spot. The, at times, nearly unwatchable story of Solomon Northup, a free man from New York, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery was director Steve McQueen’s crowning achievement in storytelling but for me, the real slavebeauty of 12 Years were the performances. Starting from the top, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s lead performance as Northup couldn’t have been more perfect. He was desperate, destitute, yet hopeful as a man who has his dreams of returning home to his family and life as a successful musician crushed time and time again by the horrific men who owned him. Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender played foils of each other- Cumberbatch as Ford, a man as merciful as a slave owner could be, and Fassbender as Epps, possibly the most hateable man on screen since Leo’s Calvin Candie in 2012’2 Django: Unchained. Last, but certainly not least, Lupita Nyong’o as the tortured Patsey- raped every day of her miserable life when she is finished collecting hundreds more pounds of cotton than her male counterparts. Nyong’o delivers in the most horrifying scenes in the film- begging to be allowed to clean with a bar of soap, screaming as she is whipped by Northup at the demands of Epps, and sobbing in the arms of Northup, pleading with him to end her life. There isn’t an actress nominated in the supporting category (or lead, in my humble opinion) that delivers a performance that comes close to that of Nyong’o this or even last year, and though her scenes were short, they were vital. While, as I mentioned earlier, I found Wolf to be a stronger adapted screenplay, there is a very good chance 12 Years takes home both that and the big prize of Best Picture, and I for one wouldn’t mind that at all.

 

3. Her

If I’m being completely honest, I have struggled to find the reason I enjoyed Her as much as I did since I walked out of the theater. Was it because Scarlett Johansson has the greatest voice in the history of voices? Was it because, prior to this film, I had never seen Joaquin Phoenix smile? Truth be told, it was both, and so much more. The true beauty of Her starts with the mind of writer and director Spike Jonze, who with Her, gave us one of the most imaginative and ingenious stories in years. While HERPhoenix and Johansson embody the characters of Theodore and Samantha perfectly, it’s the imperfections in their performances and things that are left unsaid in the postmodern love story that leave the film largely open to the interpretation of the viewer. In a beautiful way, the film makes the viewer forget that they are watching a man fall in love (and make love) with a computer and instead, remember what it’s like to find yourself through love as Samantha learns what it truly means to be human. The film made me feel a lot of feelings- it was awkward, heartbreaking, adorable, and at times, terrifying- in the way that love and relationships can be. In a recent Daily Show interview, Johansson talks about writer and director Charlie Kaufman, who, upon seeing the film, thought it was the “most terrifying thing he had ever seen in his life,” but that is the beauty of the film. While telling what becomes a more classic love story than one might think upon meeting Theodore and Samantha, it’s also a kind of cautionary tale on the age of intelligent technology, where not only every character but every person on screen is alone with their computers. In a way (at least for me), it was the right film at the right time, and will hopefully nab Jonze an original screenplay and maybe even director win.

 

2. Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club received a lot of hype early in the game for star Matthew McConaughey’s dramatic weight loss in order to play Ron Woodruf, a man who begins the film in a threesome at a rodeo and learns within ten minutes he is dying of AIDS. In a time where the disease was believed to be exclusively a gay man’s illness and dallastreatment often did more harm than good, Ron Woodruf not only changed the face of AIDS but the face of AIDS treatment with his “buyers club”. Patients would pay a membership fee in order to receive from Woodruf the drugs that kept him alive many years longer than his original 30 day prognosis. As I’m sure anyone could predict, the DEA takes notice of Woodruf fairly quickly, but it’s his own will to live and to help those that he previously saw as less than human live that make the film so incredible. The true dark horse of the film is Jared Leto as Rayon, a transgender AIDS patient who, through helping Woodruf run his club, changes his view of the world and all of the people that live in it. For me, the film was a very interesting look at a medical issue that at a time, was very real. The treatment of AIDS and the discrimination against its victims is a truth that is hard to believe ever existed- not only from the general public, but those in the medical field who take an oath to help all those ailing, regardless of the ailment. Rayon broke barriers between male and female, gay and straight, homophobic and open minded by being a soul that no character could help but love. In the most shocking scene in the film, Rayon knows her fate, and removes her makeup and puts on a suit to see her father for the money she needs. While her father initially spews hatred at her that is hard to imagine a father has for his child, he ultimately gives her the money she needs because, frankly, he loves her. The film had me sobbing over the death of a fictional transgender played by an actor whose talents I have never fully appreciated. If it’s possible to have a mortal lock on a statue, Leto has it. An amazing story, only made more amazing by the fact that it’s true.

 

1. Nebraska

No one was more surprised than me that a film as simple as Nebraska holds my top spot this year. The story of Woody Grant, an ailing old man, who believes that he won a million dollars after receiving a letter in the mail. It’s obvious from the start of the film to everyone but Woody that the sweepstakes is a scam, but what starts as a story of a man who is in the beginning stages of dementia quickly becomes the story of a man who simply wants to believe in others. As his son David, played surprisingly well by Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte, drives him from Montana to Nebraska, we learn a great deal about Woody and the man he has always been. Annebraska alcoholic, perhaps, but a man who gave everything he had to help those around him that he believed needed his help but largely ruined him over the years. As they visit the bars Woody used to frequent, they have short encounters with his friends of old who demand a share of his “winnings” under the guise of elation over his return home to Nebraska and good fortune. The true success of Nebraska comes with its simplicity- one story told in black and white with a minimum of characters and a bare bones dialogue used only to tell essential details of Woody’s history. In contrast to the year’s biggest disappointment, American Hustle, Nebraksa was as minimalistic in all the places that Hustle  was not. Bob Odenkirk and June Squibb as Woody’s oldest son and wife respectively rounded out the cast as the “voices of reason” trying to stop the trip to collect his winnings before it starts, but it’s in the journey where they join Woody and David that reconnects a family that had fallen apart over the years. Though Woody ultimately learns of the scam, the journey to the ultimate disappointment is a both hysterical and heartbreaking look at family dynamics, aging, and belief in humanity. Nebraska will likely leave the night empty handed, but I couldn’t have been happier that this movie was made.

 

Well there you have it, my top five Best Picture nominees. As always, there were a few films that were left out of the picture altogether that, while I don’t think they necessarily were snubbed, were among my favorites of the year. If you missed The Place Beyond the Pines and Inside Lleywn Davis, find them and give them a shot. Both are achievements in storytelling and examination of the human condition. James Gandolfini’s last role in Enough Said was so much more than a romantic comedy, and Julia Louis Dreyfus at her finest. Spring Breakers, was, well, Spring Breakers, and Blue Jasmine was the annual Woody Allen classic. Now that the Grammys are over, it’s officially Oscar time, and I for one couldn’t be more excited for the awards and for the year in movies ahead. With that, “get the fuck off my boat.”

Everybody Hurts: Thoughts on the End

In Breaking Bad’s final episode, we see Jesse drive off into the sunset and Walter die, perhaps redeemed, alongside his precious blue meth. There have been countless influential and memorable characters that have made their way into our collective memory and have become more like friends than fictional characters used to tell us a weekly installment of a story. For me, the series always come back to the importance of one character that only survived a few episodes but who was instrumental in the fate of every character we said goodbye to last night.

130808173526-breaking-bad-2-horizontal-galleryWe meet Jane at the beginning of season two managing the building that Jesse is forced to move into. Eighteen months clean, Jane is revisited by her demons when she is confronted by Jesse’s and quickly spirals back into the familiar world of addiction. While meth is not Jane’s drug of choice, Jane gave us something that the show chose to omit- the face of the buyer. A personification of the customer that kept the Heisenberg empire afloat. Breaking Bad would have been an entirely different show had the addict been a bigger focus, but this is where Jane’s influence lies and most importantly, where her death set the most important details of Vince Gilligan’s story in motion.

Was Jane a problem for Walt? Of course. Walt let Jane die because of the blackmail and because she was enabling Jesse’s vices. As he watched Jane die, Walt watched many of his immediate threats die along with her. However, if Jane lives, does Jesse go to rehab? Maybe. It wouldn’t have been feasible for both Jesse and Jane to survive the season. Gus wasn’t interested in employing a junkie in Jesse, and it’s doubtful that the couple would have used their sack of cash to straighten each other out. But do Gus’s dealers die if he never knew Andrea? Does Gale die if the dealers don’t? Does Hank put the Heisenberg puzzle together if Gale lives?

I recognize that it’s borderline psychotic to sit in my bed and write this conjecture based on the fate of fictional characters, but as I watched the final episodes and simultaneously rewatched the series, I found that the period of Jesse and Jane that I had always found the most beautiful of the series may have also been the most important. Jane’s death left Jesse a broken human, but ultimately led to the shattering of the Heisenberg empire.

In the end, Breaking Bad wasn’t a story about a drug kingpin but a story about the human condition against a backdrop of a real world evil empire. I for one will be smiling at the thought of the masterful gift of a conclusion we were given last night and will remember Jane as one of my favorite television characters of all time.

The Most Important Muscle You Never Knew You Had

Chances are, if you’re not a dental professional, you probably don’t know what a frenulum is. More specifically, the  frenulum labii inferioris, beacuse a quick Google search will show you that there are quite a few of these in the human body that I am definitely not referring to. I certainly didn’t, and I’m a registered nurse for God’s sake! Well folks, let me educate you before it’s too late. You know the little flap of skin in the middle on your lip that connects your top and bottom lips to your jaw? That. That’s your frenulum. The most important muscle you never knew you had.

:-(

R.I.P.

On Tuesday, I had dental surgery that included a massive gum graft across my entire bottom set of chompers and a frenctomy- or, the removal of that ever so important muscle. Going into the procedure, I didn’t think twice about my frenulum. Completely neglected its role in my day-to-day life. I am here today to stop you from making the same mistake I did, because when you don’t have a frenulum, all you long for is to get that damn flap of skin back.

First, it’s a painful procedure and requires more than the two days of recovery I gave myself before a shift of work, a wedding, and a weekend in New York for the US Open. I was cocky- just thought I could ditch the frenulum and be on my merry way. But no sir. It’s making its lack of presence known in a big way. By definition, a frenulum is a small fold of tissue that secures or restricts the motion of a mobile organ in the body, and man, was that thing great. I am having trouble eating- not the raw pain that comes with a major grafting procedure, but mechanical trouble keeping food in my mouth. My smile is different. My speech is different. My lower lip feels like it’s on the ground without its natural suspension cable to keep it in place. Worst of all, I’m fucking drooling like a mofo. I was never a nighttime drooler, but in this postop, frenulum free life, forget it. My mouth can’t control itself…exactly what this hopelessly single girl needs to get her dating life back on track.

Why am I sharing this with my little Blurg family? It’s a cautionary tale. Don’t let this happen to you. Appreciate your frenulum while you still can. Take it out every now and again. Let it choose what movie you go to see, even if it’s a stupid rom com and you hate Patrick Dempsy. Go on a weekend getaway. Make it dinner. Have a quiet night in, just you and your frenulum, and tell it how much it means to you so that you don’t end up like me, a frenulumless dope drooling all over herself, just trying to find her place in the world.

I’m a Loser, Baby: The 2013 Newport Folk Festival

“This is a folk song from the 1990s,” said festival headliner, Beck, as he prepped his drum machine for the twangy opening cords of one of the most iconic songs of the aforementioned decade. While Beck has at least one song that can be forced into almost every genre imaginable, his foray into the folk world began very recently and didn’t seem to be established enough to be headlining the biggest folk music festival in the country, leaving festival goers asking the question of the weekend, “what on earth is Beck going to play?” The answer: Beck plays what Beck wants, and will tear the metaphorical roof off of Fort Adams State Park.

The Money Spot

The Money Spot

Day one opened with Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers and half of my group destroying grilled cheeses before we made our way over for the opening of the beer garden to claim what would be dubbed the “money spot” on the sea wall overlooking the main stage. Langhorne Slim took over where Trampled by Turtles left off at the 2012 Fest as an early in the day band absolutely destroying on banjo and slide guitar and getting people ready for things to come. Frank Turner was next, and as the first artist of the festival that I had been looking forward to for months, and he didn’t disappoint with a classic high energy set that he is famous for. After Frank, we finished our drinks and parted ways: the boys went to see Father John Misty while the girls made our way up to the standing room area of the main stage for the father of all things Newport Folk, Mr. Jim James. James played his classic, eccentric, and at times, puzzling set complete with his purple suit, golden bear, and head veiled by a black towel for much of his time on stage.

As the night came to a close, we made our way to the main stage to claim our posts for the day one headliners, The Avett Brothers, and were pleasantly surprised by this year’s staple funk/jazz group, Trombone Shorty. The crowd congregating at the main stage quickly changed from thousands of fans politely waiting for their band to finally play to thousands of folk fans getting down with Trombone Shorty and his alternating trombone and trumpet riffs. I for one was disappointed that we couldn’t keep the party going a little longer, but alas, it was time for The Avett Brothers. Powering through their set of their folk hits and more than a few American Standards, the highlight of their set was their cover of Just a Closer Walk With Thee performed in quite possibly the most beautiful three part harmony I’ve ever heard. They finished their encore with the title track of their album that quickly became a folk music staple, I and Love and You, in the biggest sing along of the day (Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in/Are you aware the shape I’m in?) and with that, day one was finished.

The Avett Brothers

Day two was executed to perfection. We arrived to the sounds of the Berklee Gospel Choir and patiently waited for the beer garden to open up at noontime to get in some brew dogs before it was time for Lord Huron, one of my most anticipated acts of the year. Blueberry beers go down entirely too easily (thanks Newport Storm Rhode Island Blueberry), and needless to say, I was feeling pretty good for Lord Huron on the Quad Stage. We made our way over and ended up splitting the group. The guys got great spots up front, the girls were a little further back BUT were behind some of the best folk dancing of the weekend, complete with a scary chick with armpit hair of lengths that can only be described as unfortunate. Lord Huron was the Tallest Man on Earth of this year, in that they drew a much bigger crowd than was expected on a smaller stage and absolutely nailed their set from start to finish. With that, it was time to wrap it up with The Lumineers and headliner, Beck.

The Lumineers drew what was probably the biggest crowd I have seen at the main stage, and while I did enjoy their set, the word on my tongue when they finished with Big Parade was “underwhelmed”. I was tired, hungry, and pretty far from the stage at this point, so there was a real chance it was just me, but for a record that I have listened to from start to finish more than any other in recent history, the highlight of their set was their cover of Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, and not the songs that I have been humming for months. The sun was setting, the seagulls were circling the grounds, and it was starting to feel like rain as the stage was being set for a modern music legend.

Beck, Where It's At

Beck, Where It’s At

Beck walked on stage to an alarmingly smaller crowd than the Lumineers enjoyed and looked less like a rock star and more like a middle aged Orthodox Jew. In his black, wide brimmed hat, black suit, and black pointed toe boots, he started to pluck his way through and throw a folky vibe on a few tracks from his most well known albums, Odelay, Mutations, and Mellow Gold.

“This is a folk song from the 1990s.” The opening bars of Loser rang across Newport Bay as Beck rocked his beloved drum machine and his mustachioed right hand man plucked a sitar. No one seemed to mind a folk free minute as he played through two verses of Loser and proved that while the crowd may have shrunk before his time, the act on stage was MUCH bigger than The Lumineers could have hoped to be. He swooned as he belted Lost Cause and covered The Everly Brothers’ Sleepless Nights, and closed his set with Sunday Sun as the sun set on the final set of Sunday. As we made our way to the car, we planned to listen to the encore as we walked because it was a Sunday night and ever so unfortunately, Monday was coming on fast to snap us back to reality, and I for one was exhausted. But when I heard the opening bars of Where It’s At, sleep could wait as I ran back to the main stage to join the crowd and belt “two turntables and a microphone” in a live performance that I won’t soon forget.

I’ll leave you with this: Beck’s new album is not a digital release. It’s not a CD, it’s not an MP3, it’s not even on vinyl. Beck’s new “album” is a book of sheet music. One might ask how one might listen to a book of sheet music, but that’s just silly– Beck asks listeners to learn the music and play it themselves, or find a musically inclined friend to play it to them. Like I said, Beck does what Beck wants, and with that, I give you the 2013 Newport Folk Festival. See you next year.

Bears Everywhere, Ruining Everything

I was feeling like absolute garbage. I hadn’t been running in about six days due to a knee injury and it was effecting every system in my body. Unable to stand it any longer, I decided to go out for a quick one early Saturday morning to get my body back on track. About a mile into the run, I started noticing a lot of police cars driving by me on the fairly busy main road that is my usual route. The road is a speed trap, so I initially brushed this off and turned up my music to make myself more oblivious to my surroundings. Before long, it became impossible to ignore the heavy police presence in the area. What the hell was going on?

300 lb Killing Machine

The bear in question, destroying bird feeders like it ain’t no thing.

I was about two miles from home before a cop put his sirens and lights on and pulled up next to me as if I was running well over the speed limit. I pulled my ear buds out of my ears and the cop said, “You need to get inside. There is a loose black bear in the area and it was just seen less than a mile from here.” Without, I don’t know, offering a ride to the slow little girl in the bright red shirt that had probably been actively hunted all morning, the cop drove away, leaving me to run two (unprecedented) sub eight minute miles home. Getting mauled to death by a 300lb killing machine was not on my agenda that day.

Sunday morning, I needed to go out again because I felt that I was cheated out of my Saturday run by the rude ass bear. I ran without incident, but in the back of my mind, I had a feeling that it was only a matter of time before I woke up with this bear in my living room. He had been hunting me for months, just waiting for the right time to make his move and rip me to shreds. This morning, I thought that perhaps the bear had moved on, but woke up to a text from my friend warning me that the bear had been spotted in my town again! I tried, admittedly foolishly, to take a walk by a local pond because I was not about to let this bear ruin my summertime outdoor routine, but the police had already barricaded the pond. The officer told me that the bear was at large in the area again, spotted about a mile from the pond and it was only a matter of time before the bear went on a killing spree and we were all dead and bloodied on the ground (there may be some embellishment in that last part, it’s really all a blur of horror at this point). I immediately went inside and did my workout in the gym, but I was not happy about it. Seriously, how rude is this bear?

There are a few articles floating around claiming that I have nothing to worry about and that the bear has moved on to a heavily wooded area about 40 minutes from my town, but I’m skeptical. I think it’s much more likely that my tiny little state has become overrun by a bear gang and they are slowly planning their massacre of the area and building of the first Beartopia. It’s only a matter of time before five bears are standing on each other’s shoulders knocking on my third story window or trying to trick me into opening my door for them, Landshark style. Soon there will just be hundreds of bears, wasted on honey running through the streets and feasting on my little human bones. Just when things are going great, I’ve got rogue herds of bears hunting me. Fucking bears. This is their world and I’m just living in it.

Carlos & the Mustache Challenge

While I have said many times that I do not want to make this Blurg about the life of single Val, my escapades have become slightly amusing as of late. Since I have this Blurg and, believe it or not, a few dozen loyal readers, I feel it necessary to throw this story out there and grab some thoughts from the Blurgies. This is the story of Carlos and the Mustache Challenge.

Carlos is a regular at my home bar who also happens to be the supervisor of a very good friend of mine (we’ll call him Brian). For the time that I have been aware of his existence, he has frequented my home bar with his girlfriend, but recently, he has been late night after work drinking sans lady. About a month ago, a large group of my friends went to the home bar and ran into him there. He walked over to our table to say hello to Brian, and when Brian made intros, I pointed out that I knew him and had talked to him before because he is also a member of the second shift after work crew. This, I quickly learned, was a mistake. Carlos is a nice enough guy, very funny, but I wasn’t interested. He, on the other hand, set phasers to stun and went into a very aggressive hour of relentlessly hitting on me. He talked about his high school football records, his views on abortion why he hates Obama, told me that being a vegetarian is stupid (why does this always happen to me?). Let me remind you that this was at a table of about six of my friends, one of whom happens to also be my brother…but this did not stop Carlos. He was determined to get my number. Which he finally did.

Sidenote: Being asked for your number is a weird situation. I don’t know what the socially acceptable “no” is, and always just end up throwing it out there no matter how uninterested I am. Is this shitty? Yes. But I stand by the fact that a guy puts a girl in a very difficult and awkward situation when asking for her number. I’d also like to point out that it’s a bold move to ask a girl for her number, and I admire the chutzpah since I am 100% sure that I would rather be alone forever than approach someone I find attractive at a bar.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, Carlos texted me a few times, I answered a couple, and the conversations finally fizzled out– perfect. I was off the hook. Except I wasn’t, because this, of course, took place at my home bar. I didn’t plan on changing my watering hole just because he might be there, so needless to say, I ran into him there a few times after the fizzling. He would come over, talk to Brian for a while (casually mention that he ran a sub 10 second 100m dash in high school…flirting with the world record…) and walk away without acknowledging me at all. Ideal. Passive aggressive conflict resolution is my M.O. Crisis averted.

Last night, after a particularly stressful night at work, I went to the home bar with my nurse friend (we’ll call her Marie). I noticed him sitting on the last seat of the horseshoe shaped bar immediately, and tried to avoid eye contact. Score one for maturity. I asked my bartender friend (Matt) for a Harpoon, and when I went to pay for it, he informed me that it was all set…Carlos had paid for it. Faaaantastic. I asked Matt to quickly move aside so I could give Carlos a thank you wave, and then made sure he moved directly back so that a conversation would not follow. About ten minutes later, he stepped out of the bar and casually brushed my arm on the way out. Sigh. About five minutes after that, the following took place:

(Carlos inserts himself between Marie and I, who were actively discussing the happenings at work.)

“I don’t mean to interrupt, but (to Marie) don’t you think this girl should let me take her out on a date.”

(Cue uncomfortable laughing)

“I mean, would one date be so bad? She refuses to answer my texts so I guess this is what I have to do.”

“Alright, you’re making me look bad here. I did not refuse to answer your texts,” I said, getting ready to throw down.

“Well, I’ve been talking to Brian about you a lot, and he says that I’m just not your type. He said that I need to wear flannel and suspenders and grow a mustache and then you might be interested.”

Marie handled this one: “Well, I don’t think Brian is far off. If she has a type, that’s it.”

I had to add: “Also, I don’t think the way to a girl’s heart is to embarrass her in front of her entire home bar. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’ve caused a bit of a scene.”

(Everyone in joint was staring at us, mouths agape)

“Alright alright, I get that. But I still think you should let me take you out. What do I have to do? Wear earth tones or something?”

Sidenote: I don’t like to pigeonhole myself into a type, BUT, this is generally the type of fellow that tickles my fancy.

I laughed, he walked away. Thank God it was over. Except, of course, it wasn’t. He took one last swing on his way out. A swing that very well may change Carlos forever.

“What do I have to do, grow a mustache or something?”

“Yes,” I said, “You should grow a mustache.”

“So if I show up here next Thursday with a mustache, you’ll let me take you out?”

“Well it would show some serious dedication, so yes, I will.”

“Can I have a beard? What kind of mustache? Are you serious?”

I was very serious. I told him he could have complete creative control over the mustache (old timey, Hitler…whatever he wanted), but no supporting beard was allowed and he had to shave his signature chin hairs. If he completed this mission, I would go on a date with him. I would be absolutely floored if he showed up next week with a mustache. As I said before, Carlos is a nice enough guy, but he is very arrogant and very into his own appearance. While I would bet a large sum of money that he shows up next week looking exactly the same with a load of excuses as to why he chose not to complete the challenge, I would be lying if I said that I hope he sticks to his word, strictly for the comedic value of the situation. Mostly, I just hope this makes him think I am a complete loser weirdo and he loses interest. I guess we shall see.

“I’ll see you next week, Val. Decide where you want to go for our date.”