Saturday, May 31, 2008

Smelling Good

A colleague and I were invited to a black tie benefit gala for the Whitman-Walker clinic last night. Our tickets should have been $1,000 apiece, but as we were guests of the caterer, we got in free of charge. Of course, as my usual attire consists of jeans and tanks, the sudden appearance of a black-tie invite sent me scrambling in a last-minute dress-finding frenzy.

I ended up borrowing a long black number from Cheshire Kitty, and I gave myself a pedicure, carefully styled my ordinarily wild curls, used all my best makeup, and donned silver stilettos. I don't clean up often, but I clean up well, and if I do say so myself -- I looked pretty damned good.

I love my neighborhood. In walking myself (and my now spotlit cleavage) to the Potomac Ave metro station in the broad daylight of late-May 7PM, two guys commented in the span of two blocks. Not catcalled, mind you, just commented, as if they were noticing a change in the weather.

"You look very nice today!" said one guy, which took me aback. I smiled and thanked him.

In the next block, an older gentleman walking with a younger woman remarked "Ooooooh-WEE! Someone's gettin' ready to go out!!" This of course made me, and the younger woman, burst into laughter. After I had passed them, the man turned around halfway down the block and shouted at what was now my back: "And you smell GOOD!!" Which of course made me laugh even harder.

Upon arriving at the reception hall, I sauntered through the doorway and opened my purse for the security guards, then stepped forward to get in line for the metal detectors. Ahhh, DC: likely the only city in the world that requires women in cocktail dresses holding wraps and clutch purses to go through metal detectors. I mean, come on -- I had to force my clutch closed after cramming my keys, phone, and a Stila lipgloss into it. How on earth would I fit a handgun in there?

At this point, one of the security guards called after me: "Oooh, you smell NICE!" ...For those keeping score, this was the second time in a half hour that strange men told me I smelled good.

But I have to wonder why guys always sound surprised when they say this sort of thing to me. Once, wearing a halter, I had a close male friend tease me by saying something patronizing and placing his hand on my bare upper arm. He then recoiled in horror and declared "Oh my god! You're really SOFT!"

And I suppose it's because I give off a somewhat hard emotional air, but all the incident could make me think was, What kind of cracky-ass girls have you been touching, that this surprised you?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shooting Hoops

Well, it's official. The Caterpillar has left me.

She's off to take the world by storm, as if she hasn't already. First stop: home to beautiful southern California for some R&R (sigh... how I adore Los Angeles). Next up: Scotland, to wink her way into free pints and otherwise charm the pants off cute Scottish boys with thick accents. Lastly, for the fall/winter: El Salvador and other Central and South America miscellanea, where she already has people she knows and places to stay (for $100 a month, no less... not that I'm bitter).

And I'm happy for her. Really, I am. But I would be lying my ass off if I said I wasn't truly heartbroken to see her go.

I roused myself from a restless nap late on Monday afternoon to make my way to the Caterpillar's surprise goodbye dinner at Jaleo. I left my new apartment and, as usual, passed the convent on the corner. Have I mentioned? I live next to a convent. The real Girls Next Door. You know, "Bleeding Heart Sisters of Eternal Misery, " or "Our Ladies of the Virgin of Perpetual What-Have-You..." Okay, so clearly I'm not the foremost authority on this particular Catholic facility.

I've seen the nuns before... and by that I mean I've seen a single nun out in the backyard, head down, somberly tending to a plant, wearing a light- and royal-blue habit. But Monday night was different. I breezed out of my apartment and strode toward the corner, instinctively glancing over my right shoulder when I passed the convent.

The nuns were playing basketball.

I stopped dead in my tracks. They were out in the yard, scrimmaging on the courts outside of the adjoining Catholic school. Laughing, shouting, shooting hoops. In full habits; enter inappropriate "Shirts or Skins" joke [here]. I grinned, collected myself, and continued my quick pace towards the Potomac Ave station.

This made me surprisingly cheerful, considering I was on my way to say goodbye to my darling Caterpillar. But it makes sense, I guess. Women with strong principles doing something unexpectedly brazen should remind me of the Caterpillar, seeing as how she sings in her church band but doesn't hesitate to initiate candid dinner-table discussions on the subject of dry-humping.

Goddammit, I'll miss that girl.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Defying Precedents

The other day I decided to take the bus home from work. Sometimes this fares well for me, as A) it's cheaper, B) it doesn't take any longer than the metro, and C) on a sunny day, it allows me to soak up an extra twenty minutes of DC loveliness.

It's also a fairly strong risk, as DC bus riders A) make that repulsive sniffly-snort noise like it's going out of style, B) often attempt conversation with me when I'm really just not having it, and C) get into screaming matches with the bus drivers. Who I'm generally fond of, as they tend to sass insolent riders right back, and then say things like "You have a nice day, sweetie" as I exit and thank them for the ride. I get the feeling they don't get thanked as often as they should.

So I'm on the #32, on Pennsylvania Avenue just past the Capitol Building, when a young black guy gets on the bus wearing an oversized black t-shirt featuring a photo of Ms. Rosa Parks superimposed onto the front of an old-fashioned bus.

I watched him pay his fare and turn towards the bus to choose a seat. He walked right past the side-facing seats in the very front; past the first few rows of front-facing seats where I happened to be sitting.

At this point, I was deeply curious. I turned my head to watch where he was going, and I'll be goddamned if the man didn't walk himself all the way to the rear of the bus and take a seat in the very last row.

Really, guy? The very back? What on earth would Rosa think?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Living Alone

I've never lived alone before.

For college, I went straight from the house where I grew up to the dorms to my sorority house and back to the house where I grew up, to live at home for two years (hey, don't judge me -- I worked for Stanford and had no rent, it was a pretty sweet deal).

And don't get me wrong; living arrangements for this past year suited me just fine. Typical group-rowhouse-with-your-friends scenario: utopia at first, tolerable next, tense at the end.

But I've realized that it's time for me to grow up. Mostly.

This means I'm still young enough to get drunk and do backflips on the metro; still immature enough to giggle at poorly veiled sexual innuendo (that's what SHE said! ...uh, I mean... what?); still innocent-hearted enough to get butterfly-inducing crushes on boys. BUT, it also means I'm grown-up enough to have a Blackberry and an intern; wise enough to know better than to trust blindly; confident enough to believe (but not to need) compliments.

Independent enough to live on my own.

The lease to my new one-bedroom starts on Wednesday, May 7th, and I am absolutely aflutter with anticipation. I'm excited to have my own space -- my own bathroom; a patio; a fridge all to myself. I can stay up late, turn in early, cook with reckless abandon, watch TV when I want, and (yes) boycott pants. I can make a mess without apology, grocery shop without labeling every garlic clove, and make dinner without worrying that one of my key ingredients has mysteriously gone missing.

And last, but certainly not least: I will never again be subjected to the abhorrent nagging vessel that is the passive-aggressive note.

Sweet mother of mercy, hallelujah.