Monthly Archives: November 2014

Complimentary Nuts

Eleven years ago, a girlfriend and I were sipping expensively oversalted margaritas at a dive bar in Chicago’s south loop as she lamented, “I just want to find someone who isn’t crazy.

  1. No, you don’t. How incredibly boring that would be.
  2. Even if you wanted that, it’s not actually possible, unless you start volunteering in the lobotomy recovery ward rather than joining e-Harmony.

Turn your selfie-cam on for a few hours and take a come-to-Jesus approach to inventory your own crazy: your weirdly ritualistic approach to cooking eggs, your inability to focus long enough to put both socks on before wandering off to sort the recycling, your completely disgusting reluctance to brush your teeth until after you’ve had at least one cup of coffee because then the coffee tastes revoltingly like spearmint… you’re not exactly the sanest popsicle in the Frigidaire, are you?

And yet, somehow, many humans manage to not only put up with but in fact thrive on someone else’s crazy. One of the most interesting couples I know is so successful because they’ve enthusiastically rejected absolutely anyone else’s opinion of social norms and only co-exist with each other’s crazy. She’s deeply into medieval dress-up (is that called something?); he voraciously reads physics literature and Manga and laughs like a hyena at astronomy jokes. They are both such dedicated introverts that they could and sometimes do spend days or weeks without speaking to anyone, even each other. They have an apartment which they have furnished so each “bedroom” is a private office/sanctuary/study, with their bed in the living room (which sounds awkward, but it’s not like they entertain). Back before there was internet-only television, Hulu, Netflix, etc., they chose to have, rather than TV service, a membership in a Japanese Anime DVD rental service, which sent them 7 disks a week…sometimes, they watched one each night, but sometimes, they saved them all up to watch in one marathon of an Anime-day! When they dine at restaurants and enjoy their entrees, he will dissect and analyze the specimens with scientific precision so she can attempt to recreate them without the necessity of interacting with the outside world (this somewhat unsurprisingly makes them less-than-optimal dinner companions for others). These are people who were actually made for each other.

Online dating ensures everyone frontloads their assets and deeply obscures their crazy, requiring three or four dates (or weeks) before glimmers of lunacy start to bleed through the normal façade. When they do, you will be faced with the decision to accept and ante up or fold your hand. Upon being told that new fella didn’t want to get together because he was hoping to run to the grocery, buy both a melon and a melon-balling tool, and spend the afternoon balling his melons instead of my Friend, Friend wisely sussed out that they were not compatibly crazy and sent him on his fruity way. (He will live in infamy as the self-proclaimed “Selfish Melonballer,” however, which is definitely on the short list for my next superhero costume party persona.) I once was gently let go from the dating process with the apology that he “wanted to spend more time with his bees.” (I pointed out, confusedly, that he did not in fact have any bees, before realizing that this was an excellent indicator that we were not compatibly crazy in the first place and just letting that conversation die on the hive.) Part of my crazy is that I really need you to think that food – particularly the food which I lovingly prepare for you as an expression of how much I care for you – is a fucking magical experience. If you are unable to differentiate in appreciation between the gustatory experience of consuming handmade pasta versus frozen burritos, I’m never going to be able to actually love you (and yes, I am totally judging you while I watch you pop that toasted almond croissant I spent literally six hours making into your hopefully-appreciative face-hole). Conversely, your willingness to try anything I put in your mouth and your near-orgasmic reaction to my experimental pumpkin-spice-and-maple-candied-SPAM cupcakes will elevate you to a sexiness level roughly on par with George Clooney.

I can’t shake an abiding feeling of guilt for only enhancing my friend’s reticence to experiment with anyone else’s crazy as a result of that tequila-soaked bar conversation, since she has been unwilling to date virtually anyone in the subsequent decade. I admit it is ludicrous to maintain the smoldering belief that one can ever find someone whose crazy not only is tolerable but in fact invigorating, and who feels equally exuberant in return. As I drained my tumbler and popped a handful of cashew mix into my maw, I pointed out the irony of having, at that moment, just exactly what we were looking for: complimentary nuts.


Punch-Drunk Love

Halloween officially starts the holidays: two months of gluttonous abandon spent cramming our rosy faces with sticky toffee pudding and drinking dazzling amounts of mysterious punches. The lovechild of the Drink-Me potions colluding with merry optimism (or melancholy escapism) is the gloriously-intoxicated roll in the holiday hay…and the much anticipated morning parade-of-shamehonor that is the unofficial and ironic All Saints’ Day tradition.

The moment when you muster the nerve to look in the mirror on November 1st is one of abject terror, something akin to realizing you’ve accidentally put down a gray rather than a white chip on red to win and could very likely lose two months’ rent. With good luck, you’ll look like the Heath Ledger joker (regardless of whether you started as Princess Elsa or Zombie-Princess-Diana), with hair matted into Walking-Dead-worthy clumps and only light bruising. If your luck tends more towards the Hope Diamond, well… (We never let a colleague live down the post-Halloween shift when he came into work heavily and peculiarly shellacked with greasepaint. Eventually confessing after the dinner rush had washed away his last semblance of applied dignity, he admitted that in the previous night’s stupor he had hypothesized that adhering a suction-cup-based dildo to his forehead would be a fun, sexy addition to his evening’s pursuits. Mercifully, he didn’t share how the shenanigans themselves turned out, but the removal turned out to be a hematoma-inducing debacle that he was extremely grateful to have no memory of whatsoever.)

Once you’ve hooked up your saline IV or resorted to witchcraft to try to abate the little knives behind your eyes, and done the mandatory full-body inspection to determine whether any scrapes, bruises, or lacerations seem to warrant Dermabond or a tetanus shot, it’s time to mainline caffeine and try to yank the fuzzy memories back from the misty swirls of All Hallow’s Eve. If you’ve woken with a partner you’re not planning to chew an arm off to escape from, he or she might come in handy, as this regrettably-amnesiac friend shared:

He and his ladyfriend had spent the evening in a charming little Oyster Bar, experimenting with whether Herradura (his) or Belvedere (hers) paired best with recently-deceased bivalves the consistence of loogies. Two subsequent parties later, finding themselves miraculously returned to their own rented sleeping space, they began to attempt some pearl hunting of their own. Regrettably, narcolepsy defeated Captain Mezcal’s consciousness quickly. Ladyfriend, recognizing the rhythmic sound of gentle snoring, retreated in irritation, resorting to self-sufficiency in the lean times of war. However, the defeating army of darkness had forgotten to march southward to the Confederacy, whose flag was still flying proudly, and after a few stealthy prods, she climbed right aboard Old Whitey and started her wholly-satisfying ride of pride…twice around the barn, using both doors.

Having woken in the morning to hear that he was a dynamic comatose lover, this one seems like an all-in win, despite the Captain’s protestations in retelling the story that the inability to remember his wartime glory significantly reduced his ability to revel in it. The fortitude to impress a lover with your prowess, style, or strong resemblance to a Mesopotamian demigod while utterly unconscious seems like the worst kind of humble bragging (with extra points if you wake from your undead episode to find responsibly-implemented Durex wrappers glued to your calves like stick-on tattoos).

Somehow I’m much less surprised to look in the mirror and see a purpling shiner, swollen zygomatic and what is hopefully my own blood crusted on my upper canines. Sighing in resignation, it seems that another season opener has trailed off into a heartbreaking loss. Then again, I have way more practice licking my own wounds than resting on my laurels, and there are eight endless weeks of nutmeg-spiced punches and Festivus poles before the New Year’s first cruel quarter of abstention arrives. In the meanwhile, let’s head off to confess those sins to Bloody Mary, because if I’m going to drink enough to make these kind of bad decisions again tonight, I’m going to have to start well before noon.