Friday, May 28, 2004

10 Worst Pop Songs of All Time

Joyride Roxette
What if God Was (sic) One of Us? Joan Osbourne
Borderline Madonna
Lucky Star Madonna
Like a Virgin Madonna
Carwash Rose Royce
Nasty Boys Janet Jackson
I Feel Like a Woman Shania Twain
I Wanna Sex You Up Color Me Badd
Rhythm is a Dancer Snap

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Dropping the kids off at the pool.

Check out this post on pooping.

Then notice how many comments it got. Then notice how many comments MY posts typically get.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

My New York Adventure

I was all set to write about yesterday's focus groups here. About how this was one of the more boring focus-grouped projects I've had to endure: the repositioning of a no-frills credit card. About how the poor members of our focus groups -- who could have been taste-testing cookies or sniffing shampoos or grading TV commercials -- were asked to parse the differences among four excruciatingly similar positioning statements and discuss exactly what they expect in a credit card. About how these groups (in surprisingly scenic Teaneck, NJ) were a lot more articulate and educated consumers than I usually encounter. About how some of them -- though they were ostensibly screened to be not involved in advertising, marketing, banking or research -- casually, suspiciously used an awful lot of industry buzzwords in conversation. About how it's strangely flattering to have perfect strangers spend so much time and energy and genuine effort evaluating my writing.

I was even going to make a snide comment or two about one of our clients wearing jeans that were so tight and so unnervingly low-slung that I would bet money she wouldn't let her teenage daughter wear them to school.

But all of this was eclipsed by The Woman at the Hotel Bar.

See, after the focus groups, Darin (my colleague) and I headed to the fabulous W Hotel in midtown Manhattan and then grabbed a bite to eat before we met an old frat buddy of his for drinks. By the time we got back to the hotel bar, the buddy was chatting up this reasonably attractive woman. At least she seemed attractive ... until we got up close to her.

She was the archetypal neurotic starlet, painfully superficial, drug-addled in the best Judy Garland/circuit boy tradition, dressed closer to the threes or fours than the nines in shabby designer knockoffs, and clinging both to her fading beauty and to her delusions of professional success. She also had a huge black eye that she unflinchingly told us she got from her ex-boyfriend. And in the mere 45 minutes of our lives she sucked away from us, she went from tipsy freak to incoherent alcoholic -- and I saw her down only a drink and a half.

She claimed to be a professional TV and movie actress ("I was a nurse on General Hospital. A blind nurse.") on her way to an A-list gala premiere for some movie, but when we pressed her for details on the stuff she'd done or the premiere she was invited to, she couldn't produce a single name. (She wouldn't even tell us her own name. I wanted to google her to see if there were pix or biographical information about her that I could mock here.) But she did dig in her purse and produce a 10-year-old publicity photo of herself to show us. Topless. What's more, she then flashed us her droopy-ass breasts in full-chest Revolt-A-Vision while digging around in her blouse to find the tan line she thought she had. And like a horny octopus, she managed to grope our crotches and butts and arms and pecs with alarming frequency as she sloshed her way through our conversation. But when we made even the slightest insinuation that she was a scabby old whore, she got all defensive.

Why did we hang out with her so long? Only the straight guys know for sure. Thankfully, they eventually realized how irritating her dubious charms were, and we poured her into a cab and headed to a funky sports bar that was packed with white yuppies but rockin' to the beat of hard-core hip-hop. And even after an hour away from The Woman, we still reeked of the embalming fluid she wore as perfume.

Part of our evening with her made me laugh (derisively, of course, though still in a fun way). But most of it made me cry for all humanity. I have low tolerance for drunks and NO tolerance for sloppy, belligerent drunks, so it's not like I feel any pity for her. But she's someone's sister, daughter, (god help us) mother -- and obviously someone's punching bag. And if we hadn't been there to see her to a cab, there's no telling what she'd end up with to complement that black eye.

And while I'm on the topic of messy, slutty barflys, I have to report that the W Hotel, despite its amazingly cozy beds and reinvigorating showers and wide assortment of Aveda products, has the distinctive aura of a high-end whorehouse. Even though I've never been in one (high-end or otherwise).

Monday, May 24, 2004

An email from Paul

"Guess who's out to his family....FINALLY!!!"

Sniff. Our little boy is growing up.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Three words: Brad Pitt's butt

You don't see much of it in Troy -- and what you do see is from the side -- but it is indeed a marvel of structural engineering. And so is the whole movie, actually. It takes major liberties with the original texts by Homer, but it sews everything together to make a fascinating, entertaining, beautiful piece of cinema ... with the occasional bonus glimpses of Brad Pitt's butt.

The plot.
I was pretty lost when the movie started -- mostly because all the kings of all the armies have the same wigs and beards and outfits and I couldn't tell who was fighting whom. (I still struggled at the end during all that Trojan Horse mayhem when I had no idea which king was threatening the priestess with the indignity of a lifetime of servitude.) Thank goodness people refer to each other as "cousin" or "my brother" or "my step-nephew three times removed on my sister's side but from her third marriage" throughout the movie. That helps. It also helps that people refer to themselves in the third person ("Homer don't play that") once in a while. And the movie starts with a parchment map (shot in the obligatory sepia tones) showing how everything collectively known as Greece is on the west side of the Aegean Sea and the lone holdout of Troy is over on the east side. Which helps make the whole thousand-ships thing make more sense.

The men.
I may never eat a muffin again. The three lead bodies manage to fill the hearts of gay men with simultaneous levels of admiration, jealousy, lust and inspiration. And this movie may single-handedly bring back the smooth circuit-boy aesthetic that the fashion world has been trying so hard lately to cover with body hair. In addition to the ripped, sinewy, endlessly luscious body on Brad Pitt, we also have the hunky Eric Bana flashing his mighty physique around pretty often. And even twinky little Orlando Bloom is pretty buffed out -- though he looks very much like a little boy in comparison to the aforementioned beefcake.

The rest of the cast.
The actress playing Helen is pretty, but I think her face would have better luck launching a thousand campaigns for open city council seats than a thousand ships. The actor playing Achilles' "cousin" (more likely his lover, according to the original texts) Patroclus isn't so terribly hot either.

Random thoughts.
How nice that the city of Troy was set back far enough from the beach that the royalty could sit in the shade, sip mint juleps and comfortably watch a bazillion guys slaughter each other on the front lawn outside the city gates. Speaking of a bazillion sweaty dead guys lying on the beach in the sun, I'm glad the plot made mention of the troops gathering and burning their dead, because after the first battle all I could think of was how bad the place would smell if they were left there to rot. Speaking of the dead, each corpse gets coins on his eyes before he gets burned -- which had to cost a bundle -- except for the one character whose death prompts a conversation that specifically mentions putting coins on his eyes.

More random thoughts: Every finger and every foot on the screen -- even in the heat of battle -- is noticeably well-manicured. Which is nice, because nobody likes ancient warriors with scraggly cuticles. Eric Bana's baby is frighteningly huge. Brad Pitt's Achilles is a nicely nuanced, wholly complex character: savage in battle, arrogant in politics, tender and loyal in personal relationships, openly atheistic ... and blessed with that amazing honey-baked ham tucked in the back of his skirt. When the men take their shirts off, the camera often cuts them off right above the pubes -- which has given me a new appreciation for (OK, obsession with) the treasure-trail area.

So it's a very cool movie. Go see it. Bring a Kleenex if you don't think you'll be able to contain yourself during the butt scenes. Meanwhile, I have to do a thousand crunches and slather myself in self-tanner.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Two weeks of vacation and nowhere to go.

Since I'm not going to London and Paris with Bob in the fall, I suddenly have two weeks of unplanned vacation and no idea how to spend them. A few ideas I'm tossing around:

Los Angeles to see the Frank Gehry's spectacular new Walt Disney Concert Hall. The L.A. Philharmonic's full season in the new facility doesn't kick off until October -- and one of the first concerts is programmed with some amazing music, including Saint-Saëns' epic Organ Symphony, which I've never heard live. The concert hall is reported to have some of the best acoustics in the world, and the installation of the new organ has been the subject of endlessly giddy media coverage (at least among the media that consider the installation of a world-class pipe organ to be endlessly newsworthy). Unfortunately, the concert is the weekend before the Chicago Marathon, so I'd have to do a lot of rationalizing to justify missing my last training hurrah before what promises to be the most miserable (and theoretically the most exhilarating) weekend of my life.

Seattle to check out Rem Koolhaas' funky new public library. (I know. How lame is it to travel halfway across the continent to visit a library? But I've never been to Seattle, and this building is creating as much buzz in the architectural world as Gehry's L.A. Concert Hall. And I've already started an architectural-vacation trend with my recent road trip to check out Santiago Calatrava's alar new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.)

D.C. because I'm a sentimental fool for American history, and I haven't been there since my family and I watched the media circus outside the courthouse where Monica Lewinsky was giving her crucial-to-the-security-of-America testimony in 1988 or 1999. We're long overdue to impeach another President -- this time for legitimate reasons -- and maybe I should plan my trip now so I can be sure I won't miss any of the fireworks.

New York City for a dedicated vacation instead of these one- and two-day work trips. There are tons of shows I'd love to see and tons of museums I have yet to experience there. I've never been in the Guggenheim, and I'm dying to get back to The Cloisters and Rice to Riches. And I have yet to encounter an A-list celebrity in my 36 years on earth, so I'm thinking a long NYC stay might be the place to accomplish that noble goal.

Other suggestions are always welcome. So are tour-guiding offers.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Dinner Alfresco

I ran into Paul last weekend after losing touch for at least a year, and we decided to get together tonight after work. I met him up by his place and we had a great dinner (peppercorn steak salad ... mmm) on the sidewalk in the tony Oak Street shopping district.

That's one thing I love about living here: When the weather's nice we Chicagoans just POUR out onto the sidewalks to enjoy dinner right up next to the cars and the pedestrians and the trees that drop things in our drinks.

On the way home, I stopped at Express Men to get another pair of the low-cut, ass-hugging, crotch-accentuating jeans I bought last week on my shopping adventure with the other Paul. Now I have three pair of jeans that are exactly what I want, and I hereby disown all the jeans that I don't really like and I never wear but I bought them because they were on sale. (Best of all, now they won't all fall on me every time I open my closet. So three pair of $60 jeans is really more of a safety investment than a fashion obsession.)

I stopped at Dan's on the way home to love up his cat and take in his mail while he's off becoming a new uncle. And now I'm safe at home in my 24th-story perch watching an amazing storm rage outside. Very cool.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Getting the euphemism.

The monkey has a nosebleed.
Temporarily out of service.
A visit from Cap'n Bloodsnatch.

I'm laughing so hard I can't see.

Monday, May 17, 2004

The niece's first voicemail


You have ... ONE ... new voice message and ... TWO ... saved messages.

Say, Hi Uncle Jake.

Hi, Uppa Jake!

Say, I went potty.

I weh paaee.

Where did you go potty?


Where did you go potty, sweetheart?

On the toyla.

Say, I love you, Uncle Jake.

I la ya, Uppa Jake!

Say, bye-bye.

Bah bye.


Happy Syttende Mai!

[break it down: sytten = seventeen, de = of, Mai = May]

As I'm sure the endless media coverage has made you thoroughly aware, today is Norwegian Independence Day -- celebrating the 1814 Constituent Assembly at Eidsvold where we signed our new Constitution and began our quest for independence after 400 years under the oppressive reign of the (not so great, it would seem) Danes. (We joined into an unholy union on this day with Sweden and didn't gain our full independence until 1905, but that's a rant for a different post.)

First of all, I thank all of you for wearing red and blue today to help me honor my heritage. It's touching. Really.

Our office had a huge Cinco de Mayo celebration (on May 5, for those of you struggling with the translation) complete with margaritas, burritos and a roving mariachi band. I wanted to stage a similar Norwegian celebration today at work, but -- as you can imagine -- all the local Norwegian shouting choruses had been (regrettably but understandably) booked months in advance. And I ran out of time this weekend, so I didn't get any lefse or lutefisk or rommegrot made to bring in and share. I'm sure we have some leftover piñatas lying around somewhere and we could probably get that mariachi band back here muy pronto, but I don't think Great-Great Grandfather Gustav -- who came to America on a boat with a fjord motor -- would approve.

So I will just leave you with some Norwegian good cheer (which is easily confused with Norwegian bad cheer because we're a stoic people) and sincere wishes for a very happy Syttende Mai.

Go Norsk!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I'm not a stalker. Honest!

I'd never even heard of Nate Berkus until last Tuesday when the Chicago magazine photographer told me she wanted to fix us up. Since then I've learned that he's Oprah's favorite designer, that my sister would give anything to be his sister-in-law and that my friend Anders is friends with a woman who works with him.

And then tonight came. The night I peed in his old toilet.

But let me back up a bit here: I've always loved Matthew's fabulous Gold Coast condo. I knew his ex-boyfriend is an interior designer who gutted the place and redid it when they bought it from some other designer. And tonight, when I was sitting on Matthew's couch talking about all these sudden Nate Berkus connections in my life, I learned that Nate Berkus is the designer he bought the place from.

Matthew also reports that Nate is very cool, and he thinks we'd make a nice pair. And now I'm officially intrigued.

And terrified. What if he finds out I still have a card table in my dining room? ACK!

Famous boyfriends, TiVo and Cartman's naked little wee-wee

My sister has been beside herself with excitement contemplating the potential implications of the Chicago magazine photographer's offhand remarks last week that she wants to set me up with Nate Berkus. (The photographer has not done anything to follow up on her remarks, by the way. And I think that my sister is far more interested in the benefits of having a talented and disarmingly handsome designer-in-law than in securing her brother's romantic happiness.)

Anyway, I had never heard of Nate Berkus (who is apparently Oprah's favorite designer), and when my sister breathlessly informed me that he was going to be on Oprah yesterday, I TiVo'd the program and watched it last night. And aside from being affable and talented and filled with a charming aw-shucks self-confidence, Nate is also an undeniable hottie. (He has this Jude Law thing goin' on, and I've been a Jude Law fan since I saw him naked on Broadway in Indiscretions in 1995 -- way before he was famous.) I also really like what Nate did with the apartment makeover on yesterday's show. (I also like the fact that the apartment belonged to a woman named Jenny (my sister's name) and she had a son named Jake (my name). Coincidence? Fate? You decide.)

I have since learned, though, that I have another tenuous connection to Nate through my friend Anders. And Anders thinks that Nate is a lot shorter than I am. And everyone knows that you choose the filthy homosexual lifestyle so you can meet someone your own size and double your wardrobe. So the Nate-and-Jake thing probably would never work out.

While I was getting caught up on my television culture last night, I also saw the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy featuring the breathtaking figure skater with the thighs and abs of death and the brilliant South Park featuring the Ninja weapons, a not-so-invisible Cartman tiptoeing naked across a stage, and a message lambasting our culture's fascination with violence and misguided offensensitivity to nudity.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Another gorgeous evening in Chicago.

Another chance to run along the lakefront and enjoy the last fading blooms and faint perfumes of the lilac trees. (Wow. That was almost poetic.)

And another six miles. Oy. I could NOT keep my pace up tonight. And I think it was because I ate a lot of crap at work today (new employees and big-wig client meetings = lots of tempting doughnuts floating around the office) and because I didn't eat enough of anything before I took off running.

I'm also becoming very bored (and very frustrated) with my inner dialogue. No matter what I try to stick in my head as I run -- be it a song or the conversation I imagine I'll have someday when I find myself sitting next to Oprah or Ted Allen on the 147 bus -- my mind invariably wanders and I find myself running inexplicably to an endless loop of the bridge from Billy Joel's "Pressure":

All [run] grown [run] up [run] and [run]
no place to go
[run] [run] [run] [run]
Psych [run] 1 [run] Psych [run] 2 [run]
What do you know?
[run] [run] [run] [run]
All [run] your [run] life [run] is [run]
channel 13
[run] [run] [run] [run]
Sesame Street
[run] [run] [run] [run]
What does it mean?
[run] [run] [run] [run]

You can see how frustrating it can get.

And I'm not bashing Billy Joel or even "Pressure." It's just that I've been running -- unintentionally, I repeat -- with that song in my head for 10 years now. Maybe if I train myself to run faster than my well-entrenched 9-minute-mile pace I can upgrade to something faster. Like "Uptown Girl."

(Note to self: The Polo Ralph Lauren tighty-whities are too old and waaaaaaay too small after repeated shrinkings in the dryer to be worn running.)

Expanding my horizons -- one lesbian at a time

You know how you can get in a rut, doing the same things and going to the same places, and when you break out of it you're pleasantly surprised that there's a world of people out there beyond your scope of personal experience? That's what happened to me last night, when I discovered the delightful world of lesbians.

Paul had invited me to join him last night for A Taste for Every Palette, a food-sampling social event raising money for the women's services programs of the Howard Brown Health Center, which is best known for serving the health needs of Chicago-area gay men. As with every expensive fund-raiser serving the Chicago gay "community," the see-and-be-seen homosexuals were out in legion force -- though not at the Stepford levels you usually encounter at the events serving specifically men's interests. The wonderful twist at this event, though, was the prevalence of gay women. I just never see gay women in my usual social tracks that take me from home to work to Boystown to the Chicago lakefront trail, and it was so great to be in a room filled with gay women unafraid to hold hands and smooch and socialize and have a great time together just like us fags do.

And I feel the need to make a few comments about stereotypes here: They exist for a reason. Gay men -- at least the ones I encounter at bars and social events such as these -- tend to dress on the trendy side of normal, use copious amounts of hair product and go out of their way to show the world they've spent a lot of time at the gym. (I realize this is an overgeneralization, but by and large it's a very observable truth. And I am more than guilty of helping perpetuate this image.) In contrast, the women at the event last night tended to have short, sensible hair and dress in pants and conspicuously unsexy tops. And they were far more gregarious around strangers than the status-conscious gay-male stereotype allows. Just an observation.

One more observation: This lesbian gender-bending stuff was seriously jamming Paul's and my gaydar last night. There were a couple times when we commented on a cute guy across the room, only to discover that he was really a boyish woman with a sexy haircut. ACK!

The event itself was a lot of fun. There was an amazing variety of foods, and I think I sampled every dessert available. (Of note were a chocolate cr�me br�l�e with fresh raspberries and a chocolate ganache cake with a raspberry pur�e. And I'm not even a big fan of chocolate and raspberries together. But I am a fan of including diacritical marks in the names of foreign dessert foods. Such fun!) It was held at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which I've always wanted to check out. The exhibits that were open to us party-goers weren't all that amazing, though. There was a large butterfly sanctuary that was kind of cool, but everything else seemed to be artificial representations of things -- an odd curatorial choice for a place that bills itself as a "nature museum."

While I was there, I even got my picture taken by a Joe Photo guy from boystownchicago! The Joe Photo guys never take my picture at the events I go to, and my photo op makes me suddenly feel so relevant in the gay Chicago social scene.

After the event died down, Paul and I headed over to Sidetrack for some lesbian-free show-tune fun. The place wasn't as crowded as usual, but we put in a good couple of hours of musical theater therapy and then headed home to sleep with our heads full of kicklines and our bellies full of chocolate.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Check out the new blogger options!

So blogger has added a ton of cool new things I've always wanted to include here (like a comments section) and a ton of other things that are at once meaningless and confusing to me (but I turned them all on in the formatting options window anyway -- I hope they don't initiate the clubbing of a seal or a voting for a Dubya every time I make a post).

And how macho-cool is this new template? It doesn't have a dedicated space for all the links I've amassed since I started blogging last July, but I'm gonna try to figure out how to get them back in the next few days. It also didn't import all my hand-bolded headlines into the new headline format, but I think we'll all manage as we scroll through old posts and relive the magic of the last year. And as far as I can tell, the new template also doesn't let me include pictures in my posts either. But my mugshot should appear in the profile section at the top right of your screen someday soon.

While we're on blogging news, Rich introduced me to chicagobloggers this weekend. Too fun!

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Another beautiful day yesterday. I ran six miles along the lakefront, took three loads of recyclables to the dumpster, scrubbed the shower and stayed in the house for an hour to watch the dishwasher run (last week's Drano adventure has made a noticeable difference in my slow kitchen drain, but I didn't want the dishwasher to back up through the sink and make a mess). See what a glamorous life I lead?

Dan came over last night for a long-overdue viewing of the finale of The Apprentice. We were going to have a leather bar night and wear all the leather we own but never use, but we just found out the Cell Block closed. And the Eagle is gross, so we didn't really want to go there. So we compromised: Sidetrack in black T-shirts and leather wristbands and then the Eagle in our vests. Sidetrack was waaaaaay more fun. Among the tons of hot, friendly guys there was Steve, the erstaz dream date from Tuesday night. Once again, he was all friendly and flirty and genuinely glad to see me when we talked -- but I watched him for a while and he's the same way with everyone he talks to. Kudos to him for being such a damn nice guy all the time. Frustrations to me for misinterpreting it all.

The Eagle was just as gross as I remembered, and Dan and I were easily the hottest guys there (which is not saying much of anything, I assure you). But then this sexy little go-go boy walked by and grabbed me before he did his thing in this caged-in stage area. And he kept smiling down at me the whole time he danced. And by the time he left to go wherever go-go boys are obligated to hide after their little featurettes, I had his phone number in my pocket. (I always feel so pretty when hot go-go boys like me even after they realize I'm not gonna stuff any dollars in their pants. But it's always such a hollow victory when you try to talk to them.)

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Hsueh Day Fun!
(Say "Shay Day")

Yesterday was Hsueh's birthday, and about three lanesfull of us helped her celebrate at the new 10pin in the House of Blues Hotel. In typical fashion, my bowling started pretty impressively and got steadily worse as the night wore on. We bowled three games (rounds? innings?), and I went from finishing second in the second game/round/inning to finishing second from the other end in the third. ACK!

But I do want to take this opportunity to thank Mrs. Hutchinson, my grade-school gym teacher, for showing me the proper bowling choreography when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. Thanks to her skillful instruction, to this day what I lack in downed pins whenever I go bowling, I more than make up for in form.

As for the much-ballyhooed 10pin, I'm not too impressed. The decor is cool but not quite cool enough, the food we had was fair to middlin' and the automatic scoring machines failed to notice about every third ball we sent hurling down the lanes, so it required endless resetting. But there are HUGE big-screen TVs playing over the pins, and I bowled my first two games/rounds/innings right into the cartoon set of The King and I. (Come to think of it, my scores dropped precipitously as soon as the show tunes ended. Coincidence?)

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

No cavities.

My teeth are actually "boring," according to my dentist. But my hygienist told me that with all the bleaching I've done, my teeth are never going to get any whiter than they are now.

Don't these people know I'm gay? How am I supposed to find a decent husband if my teeth are only marginally blinding? Sheesh!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I guess you could call this a very good day

The photo shoot.
Six words: I should do this every day. I spent an hour an a half being LOVED by these people. Someone brought me water, someone picked out my wardrobe and STEAMED it for me, someone fussed over my hair and makeup and lighting, someone fussed over my clothes every time I shifted my body in front of the camera, the photographers kept telling me how hot I looked and cracked jokes and acted like they were having the best time of their lives taking my pictures ... and now I officially want to be a full-time model. It really IS the high-glamour lifestyle we'd all suspected it was! I also now have two names to drop:

1. Hunter Hillenmeyer, a Chicago Bears linebacker, had his pictures taken after mine. The man has amazing eyes and a pretty decent body. But he's all of 23 years old, and I'm guessing he could buy and sell me. And I learned that while most of us anonymous Top 20 Singles were nominated and picked based on our personalities/profiles/looks, people like Hunter were ringers specifically recruited by Chicago magazine to add star power and increase sales. So I can't decide if I should be insulted that I'm not a big enough name to sell magazines (as if) or extremely flattered that I was picked to appear among some certifiably famous locals.

2. Nate Berkus, who is apparently Oprah's favorite designer and quite an accomplished young business man to boot, is now a potential blind date for me. One of the photographers today is friends with him, and she insisted that he and I would make a great couple. I told her to fix us up and she seemed genuinely excited at the prospect, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Because I'm gay, I also feel obligated to mention that I got in a pretty killer chest workout yesterday and a major killer arm workout today so my guns would look their buffest in all the tight short-sleeved shirts I packed for the photo shoot. Of course, of all the 20 shirts I brought along, the stylist picked one of the two long-sleeved ones for the pic. I just thought I should mention that.

One more piece of news: After all my fretting about having to bring "something special to me" to the shoot, they decided not to use any of the crap we lugged to the studio for our photos. Whew.

The run.
I got home from the shoot at 5:30 -- which gave me plenty of time to get in a nice long run before my dream date with Steve. And what a gorgeous day for it! The weather was perfect, the trees were in bloom, the lilacs were flowering and deliciously fragrant, the sky was a gorgeous blue rivaled only by the shimmering blues of the lake, and I just kept drinking in the sheer fabulousness of it all and pounding away until I'd gotten in a good six miles. And now my thighs are screaming.

The date.
Ah, the date. Steve picked me up promptly at 7:30 in his sexy black SUV, and he took me to Hopleaf, a nearby tavern/restaurant that serves delicious Belgian food and offers an endless menu of Belgian beers. He looked amazing -- even more amazing than I'd remembered. Better still, he had interesting things to talk about, he's traveled all over the world, he was unfailingly polite, he was absolutely fascinated by me and our conversation was effortless -- until we got to the topic of the gay cruise I took two years ago. Which got us to circuit parties in general and then drugs in specific. And it turns out he's an unapologetic (and rather proud, actually) drug user. AAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH! (I was profoundly disappointed by this revelation, but it sure took the pressure off as far as me trying to make a longstanding romantic impression -- and I spent the rest of the night just enjoying our date.) Anyway, it didn't spell the end of our evening, which also took us to an obscure little bar where he wanted to hear a friend of his give (of all things) an accordion concert -- but he had the wrong night and the place was deserted when we got there -- and eventually Pause, a cute little coffee shop just around the corner from my place.

Then we got to the sitting-in-his-car-in-front-of-my-place conversation, where our undeniable physical spark was dampened by his out-of-left-field declaration that he didn't see us ever dating, specifically citing our divergent attitudes toward recreational drug use (well, DUH), but he'd love to be friends. Which is fine by me. Our goodbye lasted a good half hour, too, which was also fine by me.

And now I have the memories of a pretty spectacular first date (all things considered) with none of the concerns about compromising my singlehood before the big Top 20 Singles launch party on June 25. Mark your calendars!

Monday, May 03, 2004

How's this for a coincidence?

Steve -- Mr. Oh My God from last weekend -- just emailed me. We're having dinner tomorrow night! So I'll be going from my photo shoot tomorrow afternoon where I have to dress "for the biggest date of my life" to actually going on the biggest date of my life. And I have NO idea what to wear.

(I know: Dinner with a guy I barely know -- no matter how hot -- hardly qualifies as the biggest date of my life. But it sure adds a nice dramatic parallel to the above story, no?)

Three things that aren't working so well:

The Drano
After an hour of chemical triage last night, my kitchen sink drain is still as slow as a Bush brain cell. But at least it now has the fresh scent of bleach.

My attempts at self-manicuring
In an unexplainable fit of homosexuality, I bought a six-in-one nail buffer ("two surfaces for shaping and four surfaces for buffing!") yesterday. I guess I wanted to have manicure-fresh hands for tomorrow's photo shoot without all the bleeding that a real manicure produces. So this morning I started hacking away at my fingernails, and now that I'm sitting at work checking out my handiwork, I'm finding weird ridges and little cross-hatch scars all over my nails. And now my buffing mishaps will be preserved for all eternity in the pages of Chicago Magazine. The horror!

The Home Depot's marketing department
One of the beautiful things about all that personal data that's out there for marketing departments to exploit and citizens to irrationally fear is that it prevents you from getting things you absolutely won't buy. It's why I don't get coupons for feminine hygiene products in the mail and Antonin Scalia doesn't get invitations to circuit parties. But someone has to let Home Depot in on the secret. My nine-digit zip code alone tells every marker in the world that I live in a highrise in a very population-dense neighborhood of Chicago -- and by extension that there is a very poor likelihood that I have a garden and that there is near absolute certainty that I don't own or use a garden hose. So what did Home Depot send me this weekend? A coupon for a hose extender for watering my garden.
The weekend with the folks was fun.

They got in Thursday, and since Mom really wanted to go to DSW (bless her heart), we headed right down after I got home from work for some shoe-buying fun, and then I took them to Nookie's, my favorite people-watching diner in Boystown. Little did we know that Thursday was Dining Out for Life in Chicago, and to get in the spirit, Nookie's had transformed itself from an upscale diner to an upscale restaurant -- complete with upscale table linens and upscale prices. We decided to stay, though, and we were rewarded for our loyalty with a Cher impersonator who struggled all night to stay on the fence between engaging the diners with her antics and staying respectfully behind her fourth wall. And while female impersonators always make dinner with the parents fun, it's the awkward, nervous female impersonators who take the dinner experience to a whole new level.

Like a moron, I never got the bright idea to take Friday off while my parents were here, so I trudged off to work in the morning and they came in to join Bill and me for lunch at P.F. Chang's, which brought us disappointment on many levels: mediocre food, silverware with dried bits of other people's mediocre food all over it, plastic chopsticks (what the hell is the point of plastic chopsticks?), and a room temperature hovering somewhere between arctic blast and ice age redux.

That night we headed back to Nookie's so the folks could have a proper Nookie's experience, and then we sat up and chatted at my place well into the night.

Saturday was a day of Chicago shopping fun. After a leisurely morning reading the paper and listening to Mozart, we headed out to the Brown Elephant so I could drop off a massive garbage bag full of clothes that had been clogging my closets for too long. Then we headed back to DSW and Marshall's, where I got two kick-ass pair of Steve Maddens for $30 each. Then we trudged off to Roy's Furniture so I could look at dining-room tables. (I'm 36 and I still have a card table in my dining room. How sad is that?) I didn't find anything I couldn't live without, so my dining room will maintain its dorm-level charm for the foreseeable future. Poor Dad had had more than his fill of mom-and-gay-son shopping by then, so I took us to Architectural Artifacts, where all three of us wandered slack-jawed among the fascinating inventory of fireplace mantles, tables, chandeliers, store signs, cabinets, tiles, statues, fountains and anything else of interest that could be pried from historic buildings around the world before they were destroyed.

We headed home so Mom and Dad could get ready for the big reason for their visit: Dad's college's 150th anniversary party at the venerable University Club downtown. Meanwhile, I headed to Bill's house for his birthday party, where a bunch of his friends and I invented a tacky little party game for the politically-aware set: If you had to sleep with a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, which one would it be? (I was the lone holdout for David Souter, while the rest of the (completely gay) room was divided between Stephen Breyer and that boner-killer Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We had one vote for the hateful Clarence Thomas, but thankfully, there was universal loathing -- both physically and intellectually -- for the vile and repellent Antonin Scalia.)

This morning we met my cousin Eric for brunch at Melrose, then Mom and Dad headed back to Iowa and I headed home to nap and clean and read more of the paper. Now I'm waiting for some Drano to work its magic on my kitchen sink and then I'm off to bed to rest up for a week that involves my Chicago Magazine Top 20 Singles photo shoot and another trip to NYC for a client meeting.