Thursday, January 17, 2008

When it rains, it pours ...

... but sometimes that rain is toxic.

Ok, so that's a little dramatic, but it was the hook that struck me this morning as I groggily (more so than usual) stood in the shower and reflected on the sorts of thing one reflects on, in the shower, at 7 AM (which is very early for me), after going to bed about three hours before.

At least I wasn't hungover.

Anyway, the title of this blog, lame though it may be, is Cleveland Bachelor. The first 40+ posts have had a far greater emphasis on the Cleveland aspect than the Bachelor. Today's post, however, will focus a bit more on the latter.

Since moving to Cleveland about 5 months ago, I've met a bunch of interesting people. However, as mostly a function of being busy with starting a new job, being broke because that new job pays shit, and just a general bad luck streak, none of those interesting people have been eligible bachelorettes.

In the last few weeks, though, that has changed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still as much a non-attached guy as ever before. I didn't say these gals liked me, just that, in theory, they are available. Kind of.

Let me take you through the hilarity and strangeness of my social life.

First, meet J. J is a cute, mid-twenties indie rock groupie. I shouldn't call her a groupie, as that has certain negative connotations that aren't really applicable, but I just can't think of a better word for someone who spends their time and resources in such a way as to maximize proximity to the various underground pop-rockers of Northeast Ohio (a group which is surprisingly large and quite impressively talented). A hanger-on? Too cumbersome. Anyhoo, J is the prototype young Lakewood woman, solid education at a good private liberal arts school, good starter job doing medical research, and enough cultural literacy to at least pick interesting folks over whom to swoon. I met her at a show at the Beachland Ballroom where, for whatever reason, she came over to the corner where I stood watching the Patriots dispatch the Jaguars with relative ease, introduced herself, and talked and talked and talked. She asked lots of questions, too, so it isn't like she's vapid. Eventually, we get around to talking about jobs, she tells me hers (like I said, in medical research), her job reminds me of an amusing set of experiences when I was in grad school, which I recount to her in what I believed was a very clever and humorous manner. Silence falls. Persists. Eventually a few more banalities are haltingly exchanged. More silence. She grabs her coat and says, sorta nervously, "Well, um, I'm gonna go." I say, "You are going home? I thought your favorite band was on next?" She says, "Oh no, I'm not going home, I'm just going to stand somewhere else. Bye."

Awesome. I wish I had a video of those last 3-4 minutes to post on youtube. I'd probably title it something like "Not Game."

But that's just the beginning. Now I'd like you to meet T. T is in her mid-thirties, not quite as intellectually gifted as J (though not stupid or even dull by any stretch), but a lot more worldly and mature. Unfortunately, she's a lot more world-weary and, well, a good example of the working poor. College educated but never consistently employed - for 15 years - but she's spunky and funny and really kind and generous with what she does have. We met at an art show before Christmas, had a great conversation, traded a bunch of emails, but never managed to synchronize our schedules before the holidays. After my winter travels, and upon my triumphant return to NEO, we met and spent a nice relaxing day of conversation and people-watching at the West Side Market. Trade some more emails, have some more difficulty synchronizing schedules, and then, last night, she asks me to call her so we can to try and nail down a time to meet. We aren't able to pull that off but we do end up talking for quite a while. Like 6 hours. Literally. But 9 PM to 3 AM went by like a snap of the fingers. To me, that's a good sign. We talked about all sorts of stuff, from the politics of funerals to why Deadheads are so ironically close-minded, and around hour 5 she begins a twenty-minute monologue about how tough things are financially. I don't know what to say, and she clearly isn't looking for solutions, more it seems that she just wants to share where she is in her life. When she pauses and asks what I think in a way that I'm pretty confident isn't merely rhetorical, I respond with brilliance: "Um, I don't know, man, that's pretty heavy. I mean, life is tough, but, um, if you are in a valley, that means there is a hill, right? And there's got to be something over the hill, right? And, well, maybe whatever is over that hill isn't just another pile of shit, you know? Um... anyway, I don't know... so, what are you going to do?" She sighs, soap-opera style, and then says, "Well, I have a really serious boyfriend and he says he'll help me, but I just don't know if I should do that."

She said more than that, but I don't remember what, as I was exchanging quizzical looks with my dog, trying to telepathically communicate with the canine my shock that the girl on the phone said she had this long-term relationship. I was pretty sure she hadn't mentioned that before. In fact, I was almost positive she told me, during our market afternoon, that she'd been single for about a year, since her last boyfriend moved out and took her cat with him. Eventually, what I did say was something like, "Yeah, that's a tough call, you know, involving your significant other in that sort of thing .... so, um, you have a boyfriend?" She says, "Oh yeah, I told you, right?" in the tone of voice you know she knows damn well she never mentioned it and that her failure to mention that one little detail wasn't exactly accidental. We talked for another 15 minutes or so, as she alternated between apologizing and insulting herself.

At least she gave me some good tips on places to get a haircut. And it isn't that much of a loss anyway, as she informed me she's allergic to dogs right before she started her hand-to-mouth monologue. Not only do I have a dog, but I've spent my life with them and plan to continue to do so until I kick the bucket. So, dog allergies are pretty much a non-starter.

All is not lost, though, dear reader ... at least not yet. Now I'd like you to meet K. I met K last week at this sort of community dinner kind of thing. She's funny and crafty and a bit outlandish, an artistic type recently returned to her hometown after a few tough years trying to "make it" in more cosmopolitan, competitive, and expensive places. I don't know how old she is, but she seems to have a world-view similar to my own, one that has been shaped by a certain amount of time and experiences, so I'm guessing she's well out of college but no older than 30. Anyway, I sent a post-meal email a day or two later (i.e., it was nice to meet you blah blah blah), she replied (i.e., I had fun meeting you too yada yada yada), and we have tentative plans to go see a band play this weekend. She could cancel, not show up, or come with a boyfriend or maybe even hubby and 2.2 children. Or she could come out, we have a nice time, and we hang out again. All I know is I'm not making any assumptions and definitely not any "clever" remarks about her occupation.

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