Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Tale of the Coke Guy

I promised that if you shared your dating stories, I'd share some of mine. Well, in the interest of time, and of not digging up too many painful memories, I've chosen a single story that effectively illustrates my luck with the opposite sex (prior to meeting My Love, of course).

It was 1996 or so, and I was home from college for a weekend or a break. I'm not sure which. a couple girlfriends and I, who were known to drive around talking and listening to our favorite music, decided to stop in to McDonald's for something to eat. Instead of going in, we thought we'd go through the drive-through and sit in the car to eat--it's easier to chat and listen to music in the car.

I was driving, so I pulled up to the speaker and ordered our food, paid at the first window and crept up to the second window to retrieve our heart-attacks-in-a-bag. Then I pulled into a parking spot. We happily dug into our burgers and fries until my friend in the passenger seat said, "That guy next us wants me to roll down my window."

I leaned forward to see who it was, thinking I might know him from somewhere. He was frantically moving his arm in a cranking motion, so I put the passenger-side window down with the switch on my arm rest.

"Hi, do you go to [my college name]?" he called from his own car.

"Yeeeeaaahhh," I answered hesitantly, realizing he must have seen the sticker in my back window.

"Yeah, I thought so," he said getting excited. "I thought I recognized you."

"Oh, do you go there?" I asked, wondering where this conversation was going. He was semi-attractive, but I was getting more and more creeped out by the moment.

"No, I deliver Coke on campus. I've seen you in the C-store."

Now I was starting to wonder if I shouldn't just roll up the window and peel out of the parking lot before this lunatic got any funny ideas. The other girls were giggling quietly, no help at all. I did work at the campus convenience store part-time as part of my work-study and was in there pretty regularly for quick food between classes, but I didn't remember ever being in there during a soda delivery.

"Oh," I said, "ok. Well..." I started to blow him off, reaching for the switch on my arm-rest again when he interrupted.

"Hey," he yelled. "You ever go to [town]?"

"Uh, sometimes..." I said.

"I live there. My address is [address]. You should stop by some time. I don't have a phone or I'd give you my number."

I turned to my friends who were laughing audibly now. "Is this guy for real?" I whispered. "Did he just try to pick me up by giving me his address?" Then I called back to him, "Yeah, OK. Maybe I'll see you around." And I rolled up the window before my friends' laughter got out of control.

And thus began the legend of Ami's tool belt, where she quickly and aptly collected stories of all the tools that took interest in her. It filled up fast, let me tell you.

Got your own dating horror stories? Share them in the comments of the Bloggy Giveaways contest post and you could win a copy of Perfect on Paper.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Review, a Guest Post and a Giveaway

It turns out that this week is the big Quarterly Bloggy Giveaways Carnival over at Bloggy Giveaways. Since I'd already posted this when I found out, I decided to jump in and modify this post to make it part of the Carnival. After you're done entering my little contest, head on over to Bloggy Giveaways and enter a few of the other contests and giveaways there!

Well, I'm back from Arizona with lots of tales and pictures to share. Hopefully I'll have time to start posting them this week. In the meantime, I thought I'd tell you a bit about a book I read recently, share a guest post from the author, and give you the opportunity to win the book.

The Review:

Perfect on Paper is a story about a twenty-something woman, recently left by her fiance and attempting to navigate the not-so-smooth dating waters of San Francisco. Waverly Bryson, the story’s heroine, is relate-able, sarcastic and ironic, and her dating mishaps and misfires keep you wondering if she’ll ever figure out that finding Mr. Perfect is less important than finding herself. Perfect on Paper was a quick-read with several laugh-out-loud (and quite a few cringe-worthy) moments. If you are now, or ever have, maneuvered through the dating scene, I'm sure you'll relate to Waverly's story in some way or another.

The Guest Post (from Maria Murnane):

I thought a guest post about dating would be appropriate. It's funny because now that I've written this book, people seem to think I'm an expert on dating, which is hardly true, given that I'm still single! Although I guess you could take that to mean that I'm really really good at uh, weeding out guys who are wrong for me...? Hmmm.

Anyhow, I have a ton of great (i.e. not great) dating stories that aren't in Perfect on Paper, and it's not just my female friends and I who have bad dates. So for a fun twist, here are three good (i.e. bad) ones from the male side:

1. Just the other day my friend Stu told me about a date his friend had recently been on with some woman. It was very new, not like they were "dating" or anything. I have no idea how this woman did this, but somehow she ordered her dinner TO GO and then told the guy that something had come up so she had to leave early. So she basically got this guy to buy her dinner without actually having dinner with him. Who does that??

2. My friend Greg asked a girl on a second date, for dinner on a Friday. She showed up with a small suitcase, expecting to spend the weekend with him. There's really not much more to say than that.

3. My friend Charlie has some CLASSIC stories that I will probably put into the sequel if I write them -- they are truly hard to believe. My favorite is this girl he dated twice, or maybe three times. She blew him off and said she was getting back together with her ex. Then about three months later he forwarded me an email from her that apologized for not having been "a good friend" and that she'd been "going through a hard time." The email was clearly a cut/paste job that she probably sent to everyone she knew - so classy. Then she went on to say that she had broken up with her boyfriend (who was apparently her meal ticket), and she now wanted to go to law school, so would Charlie be willing to lend her $1500 for an LSAT class? She would pay it back of course, and she'd be oh so grateful, of course. Uh, are you JOKING? Then at the end she finally personalized the email a little bit and she'd still like to date Charlie if he was interested. Nice touch honey. I'm surprised she didn't paste in the wrong name.

Those are just a few in a huge stack of many. I really do need to write a sequel to Perfect on Paper!

Maria Murnane, the author of Perfect on Paper, is currently an independent business writer and works mostly with technology and financial services companies, but like the main character in her book, she did spend a few years in sports PR. One day she quit her job and ended up in Argentina for a year, where she played semi-pro soccer and also wrote the first draft of what would eventually become Perfect on Paper. She has dedicated the book to any woman who has ever been on a really bad date or realized halfway through the workday that her skirt is on backwards.

The Giveaway:

Now here's your chance to win a copy of Perfect on Paper. Just share your worst (or best) dating horror story in the comments of this post by Tuesday, February 3rd at 11:59PM ET. Then I'll read all the horror stories, post my three favorites and let you all vote for the best (worst) one. The person with the most votes will win Perfect on Paper. I'll contact the winner via email (so make sure your email address is clearly visible in your profile or leave it in your comment). The winner will have 48 hours to respond with a mailing address so that I can ship the book. (US addresses only, please. Sorry to any internationals out there.)

I can't wait to read all your horror stories. In fact, I just might share my own this week. Boy do I have a few!

And if you're interested in learning more about Maria, visit Write Out Loud for an interview with her.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Walmart Engineer

I was checking out at Walmart the other day, when the cashier, an attractive African-American man about my age, hit on me. I'm not usually good at picking up on these things, but I know he was hitting on me because he specifically asked me if I was buying the gift card I handed to him for my boyfriend. When I told him no, he asked, "Do you have a boyfriend?" To which I obviously answered, "Yes."

He was very charming and made me laugh with his insistance that he would make a much better boyfriend than the one I already had. He asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I work as a technical writer. And that's where this interaction took a surprising turn. He wondered where I worked and if they were looking for engineers.

"Why?" I asked, smiling and half-joking. "Are you an engineer?" He glanced around quickly, smiled back and said, "Shhhh..."

"Well, we're not hiring right now," I told him when I realized that he was serious. "But I'll let you know if I hear of anything."

As I walked out of the store with my bags in hand, the weight of that conversation struck me. My Walmart purchases had just been rung-up and bagged by a man with an engineering degree. Now mind you, I have no idea why or how Mr. Engineer ended up behind that cash register, but I do know that he didn't belong there. And not only did he not belong there, but it's likely that if the people who hired him had known he was an engineer, they never would have hired him in the first place. Talk about being overqualified.

I still see Mr. Engineer occassionally when I stop in to pick up a few things on my way home. I find myself using his presense as a guage of the economy. When Mr. Engineer is gone, I can assume that he has found himself a wonderful engineering position and that our economy is once more on the mend. It's probably not fair to lay my hopes for new jobs and economic recovery on the shoulders of a Walmart cashier. But he is an engineer, after all.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Numbers Mean Nothing

I stepped on the this morning scale after a few weeks of avoidance. Who wants to weigh herself when she's been in "holiday mode" for two months? I've been eating like crap lately. I have very little self control. I've been craving sweets and carbs like crazy and I don't really seem to care what I put in my mouth. Sure, I still eat my fruits and veggies, but ever since Thanksgiving, my days have been filled with cookies, chocolate, and carbs galore. I'm not binging, not stuffing myself until I can't move, but I'm definitely not making regular healthy choices. I'm not exercising either.

Imagine my surprise when the digital screen on that scale showed me that my weight was...the same. Almost exactly the same as it was the day I left to go home for the holidays almost three weeks ago. I stepped off the scale and slid it back into the closet. And then I had what I like to think was a double-whamy "Aha!" moment.

Could it really be that I don't pack on dozens of pounds when I turn my back on the scale and stop worrying so much about what I put in my mouth? No, I'm not eating as well as, or exercising as much as, I would like but I'm not gaining weight by the minute either.

Then I realized that I weigh exactly what I did three years ago at this time. But how could that be? At that time, I was following Weight Watchers religiously and exercising obsessively. I was one to two sizes smaller (depending on the store and the cut) and much more sleek-looking.

This morning, standing in the shower washing my hair and contemplating the numbers on that scale, I realized just how misleading they really are. I know I'm not supposed to measure my health by the number on that digital read-out. I've heard it all before. But today it really smacked me in the forehead.

It's clear that my body looks better (and I feel better) when I'm eating well and exercising regularly. But how I look and how I feel has nothing to do with the numbers on that scale. Now let's hope I remember this the next time I get it in my head to weight myself and find the numbers aren't all that appealing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday

Today is my 33rd birthday. I can barely believe that I've been on this earth for 33 years. I mean, wasn't I just in middle school?

I didn't do anything out of the ordinary this weekend to celebrate, although I did go see Yes Man with My Love, his daughter and one of his nieces. And tonight we're planning on a quiet dinner at Olive Garden. I know it's a chain, but I love the place and I haven't been there in years. I hope it lives up to my memories.

I also bought myself flowers this morning on the way to work as my gift to myself. They're part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge (#87). Speaking of which, I created a separate blog where I can keep track of my 101 Things progress without bogging down subscribers' feed readers with rather regular updates to the list.

My big birthday gift to myself is a trip out to Arizona in a couple of weeks to visit my sister and see some amazing sites. I'm really excited to spend some time with Baby Sis and to enjoy some R&R. A week without work or any pressure to meet deadlines will certainly do this body good. And I'm hoping to take some fabulous pictures of the Grand Canyon while I'm there!

Here's to another wonderful year. Happy Birthday to me!

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