Showing posts with label men. Show all posts
Showing posts with label men. Show all posts

ghost guy

Ghost guy doesn't want to be seen. Not really. He lurks in the hallway, rattling chains, muttering the occasional, non-commital moan, hoping to be glimpsed in your periphery. But by the time you turn to face him straight on, he's vanished.

Ghost guy wants to haunt your life but not actually be in it. He'd rather be a secret than a centerpiece. He fancies himself mysterious and elusive, but if you could hold him still long enough to lift the sheet you'd see there's not much underneath.

Ghost guy will tell you he's "complicated." He likes the subtly self-effacing sound of that, likes the way it unhooks him from the responsibility of trying harder--of being better.

Don't be scared of ghost guy. He isn't real. Turn on some lights and he'll float away.

black mark

"Would you live in New York, if you could?"

He was leaning back in his chair, his body angled sharply away from me and his legs crossed. The noises of the busy cafe had already set my nerves on end - the tinny crashing of porcelain saucers against marble tabletops; the heavy din of caffeinated conversation bouncing off unadorned walls. I was exhausted. It was exhausting trying to figure this person out. What he wanted from me. What he was willing to give back in return. 

"Would I live in New York?" I echoed, surprised. Of the few personal questions he'd asked me, this one was especially unexpected. It was apropos of nothing, as best I could tell, and it felt accusatory. I felt my mind limbering up to do the mental gymnastics required to win one of his smiles. 

"Yeah," he said. Then, after a pause: "You just seem like the kind of person who'd live in New York."

And that's when I knew. It wasn't a question. It wasn't even a trap. It was simply another nail in a coffin he'd been constructing for weeks. He already knew the answer, and he already didn't like it. Which is precisely why he'd asked it. It was one more shovel full of dirt to throw on what he saw as a dead end. I was just making it that much easier for him, by being exactly who he knew I was.

His disapproval settled on my skin like ash while I struggled to answer honestly. The truth was I would, of course I would. But I wouldn't want to stay there. Not forever. That would be too much. But as I cobbled together my reply, I saw in his eyes that he'd already checked out of the conversation. 

It was the last black mark I'd be given a chance to earn. Later I'd think back and tally the others, clues to my inadequacy delivered via small, cutting remarks and condescending cracks that went unregistered by my crush-consumed brain.

Well, I thought, as I watched him float away from me, at least now I can quit with the gymnastics

One injury per summer is plenty. 

jones break

Last night I was looking for information online about my foot fracture, because that is what you do when you're uninsured: you consult Dr. Google. (His bedside manner sucks but at least he accepts walk-ins.) Dr. G taught me that my particular fracture - the 5th metatarsal - is called a "Jones break." Cut to me searching under those terms and bringing up a page full of results...about the recent separation of Catherine Zeta and Michael Douglas. LOL.

Rather than ignore this useless information and refine my search to include the word "foot", I spent the next ten minutes laying in bed, bemusedly fleshing out a scenario in my head where the opposing bits of my broken bone are a fiery but beautiful Zeta Jones-type and an equally passionate (but noticeably more wizened) Douglas-type. But, like, bones instead of people.

A heated argument, neither even remembers how it started. Michael's been hitting the Macallan pretty hard tonight. He's still not over the time she accidentally cried out "Oh, Antonio!" in bed. Words are exchanged. Catherine calls him an anws blewog, and after thirteen years of marriage, you know he's learned that particular bit of Welsh. When Michael tauntingly asks her when the last time she fit in her Entrapment catsuit was, she loses it. She grabs her Louis Vuitton duffel, stuffs a few essentials into it, grabs the keys to the Bentley, and heads out the door...

....and Ellie's foot goes snap.

---

Got my ticket for The Vaccines show, which is just a couple of weeks away. Hoping against hope I'll be able to walk to it (I still have bruising on the bottom of my foot, so I'm scared to put weight on it yet even though it's been six weeks).

If you haven't heard of them, or if you didn't check them out the last time I banged on about them, seriously do so. Much awesomeness.

---

I got cold hit on yesterday. By a stupidly good-looking guy. Story time!

Late afternoon, I'm a hot mess. No makeup, unbrushed hair, baggy jeans, t-shirt. I'm taking Chaucer out for a quick potty. As we wheel out of the elevator, peripherally I notice a guy sitting in the lobby. I hear him say something, How ya doing? or something, to which I mumble a reply without looking up, because a) I think he's someone else, specifically a guy from my building and b) I know I look like hell/ridiculous on the scooter.

I let Chauc pee around the corner, and we return to my building.

As we're coming in the door, a very tall and handsome guy and a short blonde woman in glasses are exiting. The way the guy says hello and smiles at me makes me think I must know him from somewhere, and I wrack my brain trying to figure out who he is. Then I realize he was the guy sitting over by the elevators five minutes before, though I still don't understand the grin.

He and the blonde start chatting me up about Chaucer, with her asking most of the questions (Oh, is this your dog? Do you live in the building? He's a mastiff, right? "Chaucer"? Are you from England?), while the guy just sort of stands there watching me. I cannot for the life of me figure out why they're being so solicitous and chatty. Then she tells me she's a dog walker, and I prepare to be handed a business card. But she just introduces herself and her friend, and both of them shake my hand. He then chimes in to say that's why he was sitting by the elevator - he was waiting for her to be finished walking a dog from my building. The way this information is relayed by them - along with the very intent way the guy is looking at me (which, seriously, was starting to make me blush) - makes me realize they're purposefully clarifying their relationship because the guy, for some reason, digs the cut of my jib.

I have no idea what to do or say. I'm obviously done walking my dog, introductions have been made, what am I supposed to do? I maintain eye contact with the guy as directly as I can without it being ridiculous (because I really am blushing at this point), tell them it was nice to meet them, and wheel off towards the elevators. The last lingering look from the guy as they head out the door seals the deal. Yep, totally digging me. I wonder as Chaucer and I head back upstairs if he'll maybe come back by, leave his number at the rental office or something? The thought occurs to me that for the first time in my life there may be a Missed Connections listing on Craigslist in my immediate future. It feels like that kind of encounter.

I unclip Chauc, wipe off his feet, and then roll back out to grab a Starbucks across the street. My regular barista is there and we're yammering away as he's making my drink, so at first I don't notice: the guy and girl I just met are sitting at a table right outside the window.

A second later, they both turn their heads to look in at me. I realize they must have seen me leave my building, cross the street, and come in to order. I make the appropriate Oh! Hey again! face, and we wave at one another. Nervous, I pull out my phone and pretend to be engrossed in Instagram while I wait for my macchiato. I glance back out the window and see the guy slowly stand and sort of stretch while saying something to the girl (who remains seated). He looks at the cup in his hand for a second, then lifts his head to look at me. I have no idea what expression to compose my features into, but I realize I'd better pick one quickly, because now he's coming inside.

He's sweet and very direct about it. The pretense is to get some ice water from the barista, but right smack in front of another customer (and the barista), he looks me square in the eye and says something about not wishing to be weird, but could he give me his phone number?

I'm smiling all over the place despite feeling extremely awkward and ugly and self-conscious (seriously, not a drop of makeup - and I was wearing an absolutely beat-to-hell v-neck that shows my awful sun damaged decolletage), because his manner is really soft-spoken and lovely, and I appreciate the fact that he offered me his number, rather than asking for mine (and thus affording me the choice of whether or not to follow through). A minute later I've got his business card in my hand and he's got my word that I'll use it.

I have, as is my specialty, turned a very not-big-deal ten minute situation into a massive blog post, like a diary writing tween, so I will wrap it up with this: dark floppy hair, massive brown doe eyes, absurdly cute, actor/singer/media manager, huge internet presence that I resisted looking into beyond a quick survey (okay maybe I watched ten seconds of a video of him singing and playing guitar), lives six blocks from me, and is probably, oh hell I don't know, late twenties? But I mean, he saw me in the harsh light of day, and kids, yr blogmistress fully looks her age in the harsh light of day. Fully. So who knows. Maybe he likes the oldur wimminz.

I haven't texted him yet.

half-hearted

The first thing I want to say is that I am drunk. That is the first thing.

The list of categories in my sidebar tells me that this is the not the first time I have done something like this. I do not know what to make of that. Whether that adds legitimacy (?) to this post, or whether it just makes it more pathetic, I am not sure.

In any case, that is the first thing I want to disclaim: I am drunk.

The second thing I want to say is that I love my friends. I mean, fuck do I love them. I can say that it is not exaggeration or hyperbole when I declare that I am alive because of them, because I am. They do not like when I tell them this (I do not blame them), but it is true. I am alive because of my friends. When I am at the absolute end of my rope, the thought of good times and laughs with my friends is the only thing that keeps me tethered. It is the only thing that keeps me from letting go.

All my life I dreamt of having friends like I have now. I don't know what I did wrong, in high school and college and the years afterward. I don't know if I was just a complete asshole, or if the people I was choosing as friends were complete assholes. But I have never ever had friends like I do now. People who save my life without knowing it, with their humor and grace and kindness.

Tonight I went out with mah girl Kerrbear. She is a lovely, wonderful, huge and beautifully hearted person. She has a job she hates, but she works very hard at it. She commutes every day, driving for hours each way. She deserves better, and I have every faith in her that she'll get it, soon, because she is spectacularly dedicated and has a thing which I lack, which is an eye on her long game.

Kerry's long game is amazing. It involves living in Italy. I hope I am allowed to visit.

Anyway.

Tonight, Kerrbear and I went out. We had drinks at one bar, and then another. Lots of drinks. (Also, lots of fried food.)

And I told her. I said, "Kerry, I think I'm going to end it with the dude I have been seeing."

And she made the appropriate face, which was something between sadness and surprise, with understanding thrown in. Because she knows I have liked this dude, and am disappointed that it is not working out.

But I explained to her the thing that I will now explain to you, which is that it could not be clearer how not into me this dude is.

Alas. It sucks, but it is true.

What do you mean, Ellie? you say. How could he not be into you? You are so cool and funny and smart, albeit slightly ridiculous and rather self involved and oh yeah, you're thirty-eight years old and sort of mostly jobless and divorced, and that doesn't exactly recommend you to members of the opposite sex BUT OTHER THAN THAT how could he not be into you?

To which I say, I don't know. It is a thing I have puzzled over for the better part of six weeks, as I have rode the roller coaster which is His Interest Level, which waxes and wanes depending on how close it is to the weekend (i.e., how close it is to the day in which he will be sleeping with me).

I do not know, I tell you verily, but it makes me sad. It makes me sad that at first he seemed very interested in me. Texts and wine and making me dinner and stolen kisses and you know. That sort of thing, which made parts of me (which I will not name lest I embarrass myself further) swell up and feel full of promise.

It makes me sad that despite my doing everything I could in my power to communicate my interest in him, it was not enough to win his interest back.

What do you do? he asked me, understandably, and I tried to explain. I write, I said weakly. I told him I'm writing a novel (which I am! I really am!) and do you know how many times he asked to read something I've written? Any old thing at all?

Zero. He asked zero times.

One day not so very long ago he told me the name of his favorite book, and said I should read it. So do you know what I did? You know, yes. I bought it and downloaded it the very next night and read it. And do you know what he said when I told him I'd done so?

Nothing, basically.

He didn't ask me what I'd thought of it, or express any surprise or appreciation that I'd spent three hours of my life trying to better understand him.

There are, apparently, dudes who will sleep with you, spend an afternoon with you, and then not talk to you for three, four, five days at a time. You can reach out to them and send silly texts to say hello, or just to lob the ball over to their side of the net to say Hey! It's me! Just letting you know you're on my mind, and I'm interested in getting to know you further! - but they will not do the same.

And if you let them, these dudes will continue to do that for weeks on end, under the guise of being OMGbusy.

But it does not take very long to send a thirty second text. In fact, I timed how long it takes to send a thirty second text. It takes thirty seconds.

Also? The only times he ever picked up the phone to call me were to ask for my help with his fundraiser. So that sort of sucked, as well.

Christ I am drunk. Probably screenshot this if you hate me, because it will not stay up long. Or maybe it will. Fuck, I do not know.

This is the saddest thing I have ever written, but also maybe one of the funniest, because I am totally okay with it. I am okay with the fact that some dude is not as into me as I would like, and here I am on the internet being sad about it, like a teenager. It is okay because it is a thing that happens to all of us in our lives. Boy meets girl. One of them likes the other more. Sadness ensues. It doesn't mean I'm not worthy or awesome, or that I won't find someone who CANNOT BELIEVE I haven't been taken already.

Still, I think it's kind of dickish to never even ask to read anything I've written.

I mean, it's what I do.

Anyway.

Now everyone is up to speed. Ellie was seeing a dude who was only half-heartedly interested in her. She realized on Thursday how much that sucks, and decided that she's done with being the object of half-hearted interest.

But she still has fucking awesome friends, and that is something.

Goodnight.

heavier stuff

I published this post a few days ago, and then pulled it, because I realized

Last night, the guy that I've been seeing mentioned the name of a 19th century political tract that he considers one of his favorite pieces of writing. "You should read it," he said. He didn't say why I should, though. I don't know if he wanted me to read it because he thinks I'd find it interesting, or because the ideas in it form the basis of his personal political beliefs - things we talked briefly about over drinks this past Friday night. I don't know if he wanted me to read it because he wants me to better understand the philosophical issues that came up in our talk, or if he wants me to better understand him.

Whatever his reasons were, tonight I did read the piece, for reasons of my own, some of which are listed above, and some of which are not. I'm not someone who typically reads 100+ year old political pamphlets. It would be phony of me to claim intellectual curiosity as a motivating factor. However, if it's a subject about which he's passionate - which it is - then it's something I do want to understand better, because I want to be able to speak with relative confidence about a subject that's important to him. Because I enjoy talking to him. And because I want to know the things that make him tick.

At some point, I assume we'll talk about the piece. I assume, since he encouraged me to read it, that he'll want to know what I think of the ideas in it. And I've been thinking about what I'm going to say to him. I think it'll be something like this:

Right now, I don't care what you think about taxes or gun control or welfare. There are interesting conversations to be had about those things, absolutely. And I recognize that getting to know your beliefs on them will help me better understand you. And maybe the way you feel about those things has something to say about you, fundamentally, as a human being - which will help me know if you're a human being I want to keep spending time with.

But for one thing, I already know we're not so vastly different in our beliefs as for it to be an issue for me. I can only speak for myself, but I don't require that the people I date have political beliefs that match up 100% with my own. I'm usually good with somewhere around 75-80%, provided the other important stuff is in place: trust, communication, mutual respect and care.

And for another, those conversations, while interesting, are also mine fields. And right now I'm enjoying just keeping things lighthearted, because I think laughter and fun are a great foundation to lay down, when you're first getting to know someone. I think those are good things to pave the first few miles of road with. The further we get down that road, the more we know one another, the better chance we have of navigating difficult subjects with success.

So yeah, right now, I don't care about your political beliefs. I care that the other day, you stopped at Walgreen's before coming over, to see if you could find more slushy pops for us. I care that you always take a minute to play with Chaucer when he greets you. I care that when I hobbled back from the bathroom at the bar, you stood up to clear the crowd and help me to my seat. I care that you chose to stay with me Saturday morning and work from my bed, rather than leaving and going into the office. I care that you stay in touch with me even when you're busy, and that you've not once complained about coming downtown to see me for a month straight, since I broke my foot.

And right now, I hope you care less about my political beliefs than the fact that I took the time to read something that's meaningful to you.


What do you say we save the heavier stuff for if and when we've got something solid enough under our feet to support it?

Something like that, is what I think I'll say.

spoon

He texts me at ten o'clock on Friday night, as I'm fixing something to eat. I think you gave me AIDS. Or a cold. Nope, wait, nope, yup. Yup, it's totally a cold. And I probably got it myself. Disregard. 

I feel myself smile, maybe bigger than I have all week. Maybe bigger than I should. I haven't spoken to him since Sunday, and wasn't sure I would again. I saw him only long enough to have a couple of drinks with he and a friend of his, the night following our first date a week ago - and something had seemed off then. I couldn't tell if it was distraction or disinterest or something else, but despite his having invited me to join him at the bar, he didn't seem overly excited to see me again. And our texts on Sunday had been few and short.

So I'd more or less written him off, assuming the fun I'd had on our date was because I'd had too much to drink. And that I was alone in having had that much fun.

All of this considered, I'm feeling cautious. I'd been surprised by the weird vibe on Saturday, and don't want to walk myself into...something. I text him back a picture of me on crutches. Don't talk to me about your "problems". That's my new Late Summer 2013 look.

What did you do? Oh, is that your apt. complex? I wouldn't remember what those are like because I'M HOMELESS. Sawyer problems > Ellie problems.

I explain how I sustained my injury and he explains how he caught a cold: overworking, lack of sleep, and the stress of couch surfing until he finds a new place to live. When I ask specifics about a fundraising event he's directing, he begs off. Too long to text about right now. I'm falling asleep. Must. Rest. Before. Drinking. Tomorrow. 

I spend most of Saturday dozing on and off, my foot throbbing. When I finally wake up around six pm, I've got a handful of missed texts from him, starting around noon. He's in Venice with friends. My drinking has cured my cold for a couple hours. I'm gonna crash hard tonight. ...in your bed. Beware. I can't tell if he's serious.

- I'll put on my sexiest Ace bandage. 

- Rawr. Tell me more.

- I"ll beat you with my crutches?

More tipsy, slightly incoherent banter, as his phone is dying. I have no idea if really intends to come downtown tonight, and can't get a straight answer. He's sick and been drinking but he wants to see me, but he probably shouldn't, but he'd like to, if I don't mind hanging out with a sick person, or he can go back to Hollywood for the night, he's losing battery power...

I bristle a little bit at the idea that this is some kind of drunken booty call, and debate between telling him to get back to me when he's sober and ignoring him completely, knowing that when his phone dies in a moment he won't be able to get permission/confirmation from me.

I choose the latter.

He finds an outlet and charges his phone enough to continue the conversation.

He wants to take a bus from Venice to downtown and come spoon with me, if I'll have him. "Spoon" momentarily disarms me like kryptonite, but I let him know in no uncertain terms that I am a bit of a mess with a jacked-up foot and there will be no messing around.

- I'm not asking for that!

- I didn't say you were! ...Just disclaiming. 

He gets to my place an hour later, and I'm mildly surprised that's he actually come. I know an hour bus ride sucks under any conditions, but is hellish when sick. I feel a little bit of my wariness melt away, seeing him walk into my apartment.

He laughs at my jerry-rigged rolling desk chair scooter and greets Chaucer, who is thrilled to have someone ambulatory to play with. He doesn't look sick, but he's clearly miserable, sniffling and coughing and pressing his palms against the sinus pressure points on his face. I announce that he needs Emergen-C, and hop one-legged into the kitchen to fix it for him. All of my glasses and mugs are in the running dishwasher, so I stir the powder into a small bowl, which he looks at with skepticism.

"Just pretend it's a cafe au lait," I instruct, handing it to him. "Like the Frawnch."

He's genuinely exhausted, and we don't stay awake for long. Rather, he doesn't. I spend most of the next five hours laying quietly awake beside him, knowing I should get up and work, but loathe to move away from the warmth of his body. When we face one another, I steal moonlit glances at his shoulders and chest, and at the tawny scruff along his jawline. When he feels me turn away, he wraps his arm around my waist and pulls me tight against him, careful not to bump my bad foot. He finds my fingers underneath my pillow and laces his own through them.

I may as well be strapped in with cables, for how able I feel to move.

I try to direct my thoughts to the inchoate storyline of my novel, but it doesn't stand a chance against the skin, the breath, and the hips of the man pressed to my back. Eventually I disentangle myself, hungry and restless. I fix cereal, tipping the box an inch at a time, not wanting to disturb the guest sleeping just feet from where I stand. I eat in the dark, sitting atop my kitchen island, Chaucer staring silently up at me. I hop back over to my desk, adjust the brightness on my laptop screen, and answer a few emails. He wakes periodically, sniffling, moaning exaggeratedly, and joking with me.

Daylight finds me tucked back in beside him, finally starting to get tired myself. He slumbers on. I reach down with one hand to pet Chaucer, who snoozes deeply on the rug beside the bed.

Late morning. We're both awake now, though diametrically opposed in sleepiness, with me entering the state he's passing out of. We spend an hour or two talking, lazing about, walking/crutching Chaucer, climbing back into bed, and rinse, lather, repeat. We decide to watch an episode of Orange is The New Black. One episode turns into three. We watch with my laptop propped on a tiny three-legged table we balance on the foot of the bed, pillows piled behind us, and his arm around my shoulders. He plays with my finger tips; I let my hand rest on his thigh. We doze in between the second and third episode, my head on his chest. When I wake to find myself still in that position an hour later, I'm amazed; very rarely can I fall asleep cuddled up like that.

At some point, he leaves to procure lunch, walking four blocks to the grocery store to get himself soup and me a sandwich. I text him my order. HELLO THIS IS MY SANDWICH ORDER PLEASE AND THANK YOU: turkey, cheese, tomato, onion, peppers, olives, oil and vinegar, and a Shetland pony.

- Pony meat is DELICIOUS.

- PONY FOR RIDING ONLY.

- Too late - shit's on the grill.

He returns with soup, a sandwich, heat-and-serve vegetable lasagna, beer, and a box of E.L. Fudge cookies. We eat and return to bed, where we watch a comedy special. We take turns playing favorite songs on Spotify. When I play this for him, he taps the beat on my back while I lay against him. I try but fail to recall the last time I spent an entire Sunday laying around like this, with someone else. I know it's been years.

My friend R. stops by around six with a load of groceries from Trader Joe's for me, a list of things his wife insisted upon my naming, when she found out about my foot. This is not an optional situation, she'd said. We deliver. Sawyer waits upstairs for me while I hobble down to the lobby to let my friend in. "Remember that guy I told you and K. about, that I'd met? I showed K. a picture of him, when we went to trivia?"

R. nods. "Yeah?"

"He's in my apartment," I say. "So when you walk in and see a dude, that's who that dude is." I'm strangely pleased about getting to introduce him to R., who has only heard tell of the guys I've dated over the past several months - none of whom ever made it to the meet-the-friends stage.

Sawyer doesn't leave until dark, and I fall asleep almost immediately after he goes. I don't move an inch until midnight, when an incoming text wakes me up. Spooning would be nice.

I smile and answer immediately, feeling sleepy and warm and glad for the disturbance.

Indeed, I start...

serves two

Ingredients
  • 1 female, 38 years of age
  • 1 male, 30 years of age
  • 1 English Mastiff, 6 years of age
  • several servings of sushi
  • several ounces of alcohol
  • 1 premium Spotify subscription
  • 1 teaspoon optimism (if not in season, substitute with additional alcohol) 
  • 1 surprise kiss
Directions

1. Arrange sober, unfed humans on opposing barstools in neighborhood tavern. Slowly mix in six to eight ounces of alcoholic beverages, pausing occasionally for casual conversation, sustained eye contact, and laughter. 

2. When thoroughly toasted, remove from tavern and allow to cool momentarily on city streets before placing in nearby Japanese restaurant. Pour in roughly 3/4 of remaining alcohol. 

3. In separate room, allow Mastiff to slumber undisturbed for two to three hours. 

4. Divide sushi into three portions: what male will eat, what female will eat, and what female will leave behind on the plate for male to eat even though she really wants to eat it herself. Stuff humans accordingly. 

5. Carefully combine male and Mastiff in pre-cleaned apartment, using a dog treat to unstick Mastiff from female if necessary. 

6. Add surprise kiss.

7. Quickly, while kiss is still warm, sprinkle female with optimism.

8. Transfer humans to overly crowded scenester bar. Add remaining alcohol.

9. Return pair to apartment and add Spotify at maximum volume. Keep music on high until a loud pounding on adjoining neighbor's wall is heard; then adjust volume to low. Allow male to rest while whipping female and Mastiff into music-induced frenzy. 

10. Marinate overnight in separate zip codes.

Reviews

★★★★☆
Delicious! I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe, but I would probably use less alcohol next time. - Ellie, 7/20/13

★★★☆☆
The leftovers were a little lacking in flavor, so I just added a few tablespoons of perspective. Changed the taste completely though. - Ellie, 7/21/13 

★★☆☆☆
Hmmm, I don't know. Seemed pretty good at the time, but I'm not sure I'd make this one again. - Ellie, 7/22/13

★★☆☆☆
Needs moar treets. - Chaucer, 7/21/13

part the first (?)

People, I'd planned to flesh this out with more detail and context, and more snippets of our chat, which has been very lolzy. But I wanted to get it published before I left for the actual date,and be, like, all chronological for once. So I'm sorry it's not my finest and it's very sloppy and abbreviated and such, but you get the idea. 

Okay, gotta jet. Happy weekend you guys!


---

Sunday

Closing my tab at the bar. My friends are waiting outside. I'm fairly tipsy. "I like your boots." I look up to see a tall, dark-haired guy beside me, smiling and gesturing towards my feet. I hold up a finger: just wait. I reach down and grab my right ankle, then fold the back half of the rubberized heel of my combat boot nearly ninety degrees. Tall guy laughs. 

"See that?" I say, pointing at what looks like a glob of dried honey on the edge of the heel. "That's rubber cement. I've already Superglued them twice." Tall guy nods with mock seriousness. Says something I don't remember. I say something I don't remember back. This continues for another minute, while the bartender retrieves and then runs my debit card. As I'm signing my receipt, tall guy says something else that makes me laugh. I don't remember what it is. 

The important part is what I say: "Okay, this is what's happening now. My friends are waiting for me, so I have to go, but you're very cute, and I wish I'd met you earlier. So," I continue, tearing off the bottom half of my receipt, "here's my number. Use it." Tall guy holds the slip of paper up to the light. The digits are not very legible. 

"Here," he says, and pulls a business card from his wallet. "Just in case." We make solid, smiling eye contact for a moment before I say goodbye and leave.

I join my friends outside, triumphantly waving the card in the air. "I got a number! I got a number!" D. and I get bacon-wrapped hot dogs from a street cart vendor and compare notes.

"I saw him," he verifies to the others. "He was cute." 

"Ooooh," says L., "What does he do?" I read the card aloud. He shares a surname with a character from a novel I read and loved. His occupation is listed as "Executive Director" of what I gather is a non-profit. 

We'll call him Sawyer. 

Monday

I wake up to a missed text. Nice meeting you last night. You're going in my phone as "Ellie Boots". ...(This is Sawyer ___ btw...)

I Google him. There is a Linked In, which backs up the information on the business card. There is also an IMDb listing for someone of the same name. I glance back at the Linked In, compare photos. It's the same person. Director of a non-profit and an actor. The profile photo appears to be from some kind of awards ceremony, or possibly an opening. I Google some more. There are professional head shots. Classy, cute, not overly cheesy. There is a Twitter, similar to mine in spirit and popularity: snarky one-liners and the occasional personal tweet. There is a private Instagram. There is a sketch comedy video on a popular website, which I watch, biting back a smile. He's undeniably cute and funny, in a John Krasinski sort of way. Exceptionally blue eyes. Great hair. I do some quick math, based on his graduation date. Early thirties.

I text back. In that case it's a good thing I didn't wear clogs. ...Nice meeting you as well. I'm glad my hastily scribbled receipt survived. 

- If I lost it, I would have just searched "Ellie Boots" on FB and found you.

- Good thinking. Though you'd have to wade through thousands of comments on my fan page to find any dirt.

- All boot-related comments I'm sure.

- Yes. I'm like a meme. Ellie Boots. You should see my Reddit presence.

He texts a photo of a billboard. A blonde in a skimpy halter top, cut-offs, and Timberlands. The heading reads WORK BOOT WAREHOUSE. This is you, isn't it?

- BRB, calling my publicist.

We text on and off over the next few hours, some banter, some genuine questions. He sends me a photo of himself in a suit, seated at a desk with multiple computer monitors visible behind him, mugging with an exaggerated pout. Look at me in my monkey suit! All official up in hea!

- Well this is awkward. I thought I gave my number to a middle-aged black man. 

He tells me he lived in Malibu until recently, that his landlord died and he lost his place, that he's been couch surfing and housesitting until he gets settled. I have tons of friends still in Malibu, though.

- I met a really cool seagull in Malibu a few months ago. ...Maybe you know him? Frank.

- Frank Ramone or Frank Arnell? ...Did you get his number?

- Fassbender. Of the PCH Fassbenders. ...Don't be ridiculous. Seagulls don't have phones. 

And so on and so forth, here and there, all week, until Thursday night, when we make plans to get together Friday night.

And oh look, it's Friday night. I better go find some boots. :)

dichotomy

I know a man who mistakes arrogance for confidence.

Every morning, he dresses himself in his accomplishments. One by one, he lovingly pulls them on like beribboned medals, pinning them across his shoulders, checking the mirror to see how they reflect on him. He's quite satisfied with what he sees.

He walks out into the world, clinking and clanging, proudly announcing to anyone within earshot what each token represents. Everyone he meets already knows, though, because he's a record on repeat. They nod politely, abiding his conceit with patience, wishing he'd stop making so much noise.

He fancies himself an expert in the art of achievement.

He's happy to tell you what you're doing wrong, because it's an opportunity to talk about what he does right. He is his own favorite example of success.

He is the master of the humble brag, and he never met a buzzword that didn't get him hard.

Women exist as an abstraction to him. He'll talk all day about how much he "values" them, but that's because he thinks he's supposed to say that. But listen to him speak about them and you can sense his misogyny. Women have hurt him, and he's out to hurt them back. He views them as challenges, as objects to be conquered. Beauty is their only selling point. The more attractive a woman he can place on his arm, the more impressive he deems himself.

He belongs to several dating sites, because he thinks he looks irresistible on paper.

He is incredibly, devastatingly, transparently insecure. Validation is heroin to him. The envy of others, crack cocaine. He is exhausted by the need to prove his worth to others.

He is extremely passive aggressive. When he cannot have something, he immediately and loudly dismisses it. He finds ways to subtly criticize the choices and lifestyles of those who threaten him, because he cannot stomach coming in second in any of life's competitions. And that's what life is to him: a series of competitions.

---

I know a man who has no idea how sexy his humility is.

He places his achievements deep in his pockets, assured of their existence, but with no need to put them on display. He makes me dig to find them, and when I do, they are like treasures unearthed. I unwrap the details of his life with delight, while he quietly watches. He doesn't need to say anything, because they speak for themselves.

He accepts praise with modesty, often deflecting it. And when he does, I am moved by a need to make him understand how impressive he is. I want to cup his face, look into his eyes, and tell him that he's amazing. I want to kiss him, utterly charmed by the secrets he's too modest to wear on his sleeve.

He's outgrown the need tick off boxes on a public bucket list. He either does things or he doesn't, but he doesn't parade his privilege in front of others, tone deaf to how entitled and boastful he appears.

If you asked him about the woman he loves, he'll tell you how smart, funny, and talented she is. "And she's pretty," he'll add as an afterthought.

I know a man who makes me feel like there's room for me in his life, because it isn't already too full of himself.

youth and beauty

Haha, only I could turn three hours into three million words...
---

Sure enough, there are two floral love seats in the sitting area of his bedroom. They face one another across a coffee table littered with cards and crumpled wrapping paper. Two foil balloons on their last breath of helium hover just above the table.

"Birthday?" I ask.

"Graduation. Did I tell you that? I thought I told you that." He did. I'd forgotten in the space of an hour.  He walks to the further sofa and stands behind it, running his hand across the back to showcase the print: cabbage roses the size of his palm, strewn across an optic white background. Designed by a friend of his, using vintage fabric from the UK. She's amazing, so talented. They're one-of-a-kind. Cool, right? I suspect that the friend he's describing is a current or former lover. There seems to be no other excuse for these couches, which sit there embarrassedly, like a pair of lace hankies left in the men's locker room. 

I turn to take in the rest of the room, but when I sense Matthew approaching me, I bound across the bed, pretending to inspect the stack of books on the opposite nightstand. The top one is a collection of Matisse prints. I touch it absently, as if admiring the texture of the jacket's paper. "That's nice," I say, pointing towards a painting on the wall. I'm kneeling on his bed, turned completely away from him, still in my heels. "Who did that?" I'm given a short speech about the artist, a local woman who's "about to blow up", according to my host, who has now rounded the bed to stand in front of me. He tries to push me backwards, but the position I'm in prevents this from working very well, and instead I just sort of tip over awkwardly onto my side, in the way Chaucer does when he finishes a particularly arduous side scratch.

"Hang on," I say, aware that a passive-aggressive primness has crept into my voice. I take my time pulling the jewelry from my fingers and wrist before setting it delicately on top of the Matisse book. "Don't let me forget those." Rolling over to sit back up on the edge of the bed, I reach down to unbuckle my shoe straps. I hear myself sigh with genuine difficulty at the maneuver and wonder what interest this paragon of youth and beauty could possibly have in me, and how many minutes I have before he sobers up and I see the desire evaporate from his perfect face.

As if to answer my question, Mathew, still standing beside the bed, pulls off his shirt. He has the sort of physique that comes from natural athleticism vs. long hours logged in the weight room. Proportionate and muscled, but not unnaturally defined or bulky. I can see the yoga; the football is long gone. It's a delightful sight that I can certainly appreciate, though that's about the extent of my response, mental or physical. But even bad pizza is still pizza, and this is a delicious slice of localganic deep dish that any foodie would scold me for not, at the very least, trying a bite of. So I place a napkin on my lap and pick up my knife and fork. 

Five minutes of disastrously bad making out ensue, during which I alternately deflect, unsuccessfully attempt to redirect, and just plain suffer through more of the weird chin biting, some alarmingly rough handling, and general ineptitude of touch. When I can't stand it any more, I launch myself out of the bed, claiming a need to use the bathroom. I pad back down the main hallway in the dark, unsure of where I'm going. I sense more than I see an open doorway beside me, reach in to fumble for the light switch, and stand gaping at a room that I instantly decide I could happily reside in. 

The master bathroom is about a third the size of my loft, with a toilet room, a walk-in shower, and a massive, gleaming, stand alone bathtub at which I stare for a good minute. Nearly as long as my sofa, the smooth white lip of it reaches to my mid-thigh. An impressive network of chrome hoses and four-pronged faucet nobs anchored to the wall beside it promise unfailing efficiency. And the sheer, egregious size of the thing promises relaxation on a level I don't reach unless Vicodin is involved. It looks brand new, but I know it's not. I know the housekeepers just want me to think it is.

"That tub," I say, walking back into the dark bedroom.

"Yeah, you like it? You want to take a bath?" Before I can answer, he springs from the bed, injected with purpose and, I suspect, hope for amplified interest from me. "Let's take a bath!" Despite my better instincts, I follow him wordlessly back down the hall and into the bathroom.  

I watch as Mathew expertly wrenches faucet dials left and right, calibrating the temperature with his bare feet as water pools quickly around them. I shed the last of my clothes, silently cursing my cheap underwear, and climb in beside him, feeling childlike in the oversized tub. He uncaps a bottle sitting on the ledge beside the tub and tips it carefully into the stream of water. Creamy white suds form around my ankles, and an unmistakable scent fills the room. "Lavender," I say.

"Lavender," he echoes. "Lots of lavender. Be right back." Mathew steps nimbly onto a crisp white bathmat and then disappears back down the hall. I sit down in the bubble-filled water and look at my surroundings. A shelf behind me is lined with various bath and grooming products, mostly Kiehl's. There are fluffy white towels stacked on a built in shelf below twin sinks. I can't tell if the walls are painted the same icy blue as some of the other rooms, or if they're greener. A small silver square has been pressed into the edge of the tub's enamel: the manufacturer's seal. I run my fingertip across the single, cursive script "m". 

When Mathew returns, he hands me a highball filled with some pungent, amber liquid and lights a candle on the vanity. I sniff the glass, but cannot determine the contents. I set it on the ledge behind me and watch the man I've known less than two hours join me, naked, in his tub.

Several minutes of tragically comic fumbling follow.

At some point we move to the shower, which is large enough for me to lay completely flat in, with my arms extended straight above my head. But the change of location doesn't improve things, and after what feels like a polite amount of time has passed, I announce that I need to go home. When Mathew expresses surprise and disappointment, I am genuinely befuddled. Our complete lack of chemistry and physical incompatibility could not be more glaring. But his objections seem sincere, and I reject offers of breakfast in bed and an early morning ride home as kindly as I can. "I'm sorry. I really need to go now. My dog has a small bladder," I lie. 

"Okay, but you have to come for yoga on Tuesday," he says, reaching for his phone to arrange a ride home for me.

"What, like, here? Private instruction, at your house?"

"Yeah."

"Fancy!" I exclaim teasingly. I don't actually respond to the invitation. Instead I inquire about the car service. "So, this isn't a taxi then? I don't have much cash..."

"No no, don't worry about it. It's taken care of." I thank him, feeling guilty as I gather my things. But he doesn't seem fazed or upset or hurt, just mildly surprised by my abrupt departure. He walks me as far as his door, slipping on a pair of seersucker shorts he grabs along the way. He thanks me for coming over, for the dancing, etc, and I thank him once again for providing a car for me. I close the door gently behind me and walk to the elevator, glancing at my phone to check the time. It's just after four am.

When I reach the lobby, the first thing I see is Doc, his hand on the backseat door handle of a shiny black Lincoln MKT. The lobby doors have already been propped open in preparation for my departure. I'll tell Mason about this moment later, too. It was like an invisible red carpet leading me straight to my Ride Home of Shame. I walk the ten steps to my waiting chariot and Doc bids me good evening with a tired but neutral expression. 

I feel pretty tired and neutral myself. 

I tell the driver my cross streets and he nods quietly before asking me if I'd like some water, or gum, or a change in the temperature. I decline all of these and relax into the cool leather, grateful that the sun hasn't yet risen. When we reach my building, I unzip my clutch to look for cash to tip the driver. "No, is payed for," he says, shaking his head. I hand him a ten anyway.

The next morning there's a missed text from Mathew on my phone: a picture of the two rings and the bracelet I left sitting on his Matisse book, captioned Perfect for a still life. I mentally kick myself, hard, before replying.

- Gah! I knew I'd forget those. 

- I take it as a lovely reason for us to hang out again this week. 

I have no idea what to say to this. I finally settle on Yeah? What do you have in mind?, mostly because I'm curious.

- Hmm, putting me on the spot for an adventure... Picnic in the park? Reflexology in side by side chairs?

- Wow. Those are some graduate level activities right there.

- Haha, I also cook dinner and watch movies.

I don't answer. Instead I text my best friend. Are you around? I had an adventure last night...

---

Mathew texts a couple more times over the next few days with invitations that I decline. On Friday, I take a break from writing the final lines of a blog post about him to ask if he'd mind dropping my jewelry in the mail. No rush, just whenever you have a chance. He answers immediately.

- Boo! No hanging out for us? 

I tell him that he's awesome and very fun, etc., but that I don't have a car and he lives hecka far, blah blah blah. I put the phone down and return to writing my post.

He counters right away with an offer for a "subway date" - meeting me somewhere I can easily take the train to, like Hollywood. I also bike downtown all the time, he adds. I stare at his text, reflecting back on the evening, wondering if it was really as bad as I've since made it out to be. His enthusiasm for wanting to see me again is, after all, really nice, and not something I've experienced very much in the past year. I think of what L. and I discussed that night, about the attentiveness of younger men. 

I look at my phone. 

I look at my computer screen.

I don't know what to type in either place.

I don't know how either story should end, or when.

senators

Alright you pervs. Here's part two of this

---

Once outside, we spend several minutes confusedly trying to coordinate plans with his friends, all of whom have scattered into smaller groups and couples, and none of whom seem to know where any of the others are going. Some are trying to flag taxis, which are in high demand. Some are waiting for the valet to retrieve their cars. Let's go to McNare's, someone says. Hearing his name, McNare joins the conversation. No, not my place. I don't have any liquor. Frowns. Shrugs. I get the feeling Matthew's friends are gamely trying to accommodate his desire to keep the evening going for our sake. I also get the feeling that what they really want to do is go home.

We walk up and down the sidewalk, milling with faces familiar from the past few hours, trying to put together some kind of plan with a quickly vaporizing group of people. One of the men I'd spoken to earlier, Alexis, is standing on the curb with a pair of his friends, waiting for his car. I can sense him staring at me as we walk past, Matthew leading me by the hand. I don't look up.

After a few more moments of chaos, he finally stops and turns to me. "Okay, look. Do you want to just go to my place, maybe open a bottle of wine and talk or something? I can take you home whenever you'd like." The trepidation in his face makes me laugh.

"That sounds great," I say.

A moment later, we find ourselves in the backseat of a cab. He's incredibly polite to the driver, apologizing profusely when there's confusion about the address of his condo, which is just a few blocks away. As soon as that's settled, Matthew leans close to me. He puts both of his hands on my legs, just under the hem of my dress, and squeezes, hard. Too hard.

Ow. It takes a second for me to register why I'm in pain: fingernails.

I don't really have time to adequately process this fact, however, because now I'm being kissed. His kiss isn't particularly aggressive or forceful - certainly nothing to match the attack on my thighs - but it isn't exactly skilled, either. The word for it, really, is immature.

I have the first stirrings of a thought, floating to me from a familiar place: This is why we decided to stop dating so much younger, remember Ellie? It's been our experience, says my brain dryly, that the under thirty-five set has some learnin' to do in this arena, yes yes? 

Chastising myself for not feeling more gratitude for the gift sitting beside me, chatting me up about law school and writing and the Los Angeles light rail system and how nice my "energy" is, I try to get my head in the game. But I can already tell that even if I bully my brain into submission, my body wants nothing to do with this scene. My body, in fact, is making some brutal calculations and comparisons.

We head down one winding street, then up another, onto what appears to be a private drive. Seconds later we're parked on a semi-circular drop off in front of his building. Plate glass windows frame a small, minimalist lobby, manned by a single, suited employee, who opens the taxi door, greets Matthew by name, and hands him a bundle of pressed white shirts shrouded in cellophane. "Thanks, Doc," he says jovially, taking his dry cleaning and stepping to the elevator, me quietly in tow. Doc reaches in, hits 17, and nods goodnight to both of us. I haven't said a word since we exited the cab, though once the elevator doors close, I ask if the doorman's name is really Doc.

Matthew shakes his head no. "Long story," he smiles.

The lobby, Doc, and the sheer proprietorial air with which Matthew entered the building have all prepared me, so I'm not surprised when we exit the elevator into a lush hallway lined with tasteful carpet, textured jacquard wallpaper, and glinting, mirror-finished tables. Still, I'm not expecting what comes next.

He slips his key into the lock of a door a few paces away from the elevator. After you, he gestures. The first, slightly echoing footfalls of my heels on the hardwood floor give it away: his place is large. Exactly how large I won't realize until a few minutes later, but just walking into the kitchen, which opens to a grand living room, connected to a full dining area, which is lined by an entire wall of floor-to-celing windows, is enough for me to realize that, three years into my residence here, I'm about to have my first glimpse of Serious LA Money.

I do my best to take it in stride. I don't stare in the way I would have, had I been even five years younger. But details are popping out at me left and right, and I'm frantically cataloguing them for my memory. Oh yes. This will be blogged. 

His home is astonishingly beautiful, in the way that would make me sigh with envy and delight, had I seen it in a magazine, or on a Pinterest board. Immaculate. Stylish. Youthful. Stunningly decorated and accessorized. Every last inch of it has had, if not love, plenty of consideration poured into it - and plenty of cash. I'm already strategizing how I can sneak a few photos for my friends. I note random things. The wall-mounted rack of radiant copper cookware. The kitchen cabinetry, which is white, but manages to be everything unexpected about white kitchen cabinetry. It's fresh and pretty, the cut and hardware like something out of Restoration Hardware, but still somehow nontraditional. A crystal chandelier above the dining table, the prisms of which bear not a speck of dust.

Crown moulding lines the entire apartment, which has several built-ins filled with books and framed photos. Walls of a pale blue the exact shade I can't make out in the dimmish light. Two giant midnight blue velvet chesterfield sofas face one another across a flat file that I suspect was commissioned. And the piece de resistance: a giant glass-framed vintage American flag, spanning an entire wall. It's easily fifteen feet wide and ten feet high. I step over to examine it, marveling at both the flag itself and the frame, which is a solid, chocolatey wood, a good six inches thick. I cannot fathom how something like this could be framed, much less transported up to the 17th floor and through a standard doorway. I want to ask how old the flag is, but I'm afraid the question's subtext (how much it cost), will be too obvious. Instead I point at the velvet chesterfields.

"Those aren't floral," I say.

"Those ones are in my room. I'll show you in sec. Come here, help me pick out music." Matthew rounds the corner of the living room into the adjacent room. I follow, and find myself walking into a space about the size of my apartment, divided clearly into office/workspace, and den/library. I bite my lip lest I laugh. I'm standing in a residential library. An honest to goodness home library. I pivot on my heels and take it in, less concerned with reading the titles on the shelves than getting a good impression of the whole room, before we open the wine and my short term memory gets drowned. I suppress a hilarious urge to twirl in my dress and sing Little Town.

Meanwhile, my host is leaning over his desk, clicking through his music library. When I join him, he sinks into a leather office chair, spreading his knees to invite me between them. "Your home is beautiful," I say softly, telling myself to leave it at that. He knows, after all. But he smiles in acceptance of the compliment.

"I did it myself. Gutted the place. Picked out everything, all the furniture, the fixtures, the art. The floor was parquet. It was a disaster. Do you like art?"

"I do, but I'm not all that educated about it, I'm afraid." I watch him select a playlist, his face bathed in light from a desktop monitor roughly the size of my desk. "How long have you lived here?"

"Three years." He rises and takes my hand, leading me out of the room through a different entrance. I realize the apartment is even bigger than I'd thought. "Do you want anything?"

I ignore him momentarily, thrown off by my realization that we're now walking through an entirely separate wing. Before I can stop myself, I ask how many square feet the place is, my voice almost accusatory in tone. I can't help it. It's one of the biggest apartments I've ever set foot in.

"Little over thirty-five hundred," he says lightly. There's no arrogance, no boastfulness. He's matter-of-fact about it. Matthew walks back down a hallway lined with built-in shelves towards the kitchen. I trail him like a puppy, glancing as I pass them at the dozens of framed photos that line the walls. Many are black and white. In the kitchen, we contemplate the contents of his fridge. "Do you want wine?" he asks.

"Not really," I say truthfully. He pulls out a large blue glass bottle of water and walks backwards out of the kitchen, grinning and pulling me to him for a kiss. He dips his head slightly to kiss my chin, which he then bites. Hard. And it hurts. And not in a good way. I wince and pull away and laugh a laugh that I hope communicates Slow down. I'm starting to second guess my decision to come. It's the second time I've been in actual pain since he laid hands on me.

As we're making our way through the room I suddenly realize there's a massive sliding glass door next to the dining room table. "May I?" I ask, letting myself out onto a balcony with a small contained garden and a few teak lounge chairs. Matthew is saying something about the food he's trying to grow but I'm not paying attention. Instead I'm staring out across the glittering city lights, at the cluster of high rises in the distance that denote my own neighborhood. I sigh. I feel arms wrap around me, again, too tight, too rough, and I realize that if I'm going to leave, I need to do it now.

"You look amazing in this dress," he says, the fabric pulling under his weird, pinching grip. "Oh yeah, let me show you those sofas," I'm taken by the hand and led back through the photo gallery hallway, where he stops and pulls a frame off a shelf. Black and white. A football team. {Ivy League University} football team. He isn't bragging. He's only showing me because when he'd earlier mentioned having played, I'd been skeptical, due to his lithe frame. "See? Thirty pounds heavier."

I skim the picture politely but my eyes flit almost immediately to another on the bookcase before us. A family photo, which, when Matthew follows my gaze, he lifts down wordlessly to let me examine close up. Later I'll tell Mason about it. You should have seen these people, I'll say. They all looked like senators.  

LOL, he'll reply. My family photos everyone looks like bank robbers.

I hear myself saying something inane about the photo but now it's my companion's turn to ignore me, because he's busy pulling me down the hall, toward his bedroom and the two floral sofas that constituted our initial talking point about an hour ago.

---

Ok kids, I gotta get ready for a BBQ, so I'm stopping there for now. I've been charged with preparing and bringing the all-important potato salad, which is lolzy because I'm such a lousy cook and should have just offered to bring more liquor. In fact I'm half tempted to just throw some sliced potatoes on top of a garden salad, just to fuck with my girlfriend.

Hope my American friends are having a gorgeous Independence Day filled with sunshine and sulfate-laden grillin' meats! Merica, fuck yeah!

- ellzebub

same team

I wake up around 7:45 pm, my forehead pounding. I've been unsuccessfully trying to sleep my way through what I've come to realize must be a sinus infection, because my symptoms are worsening by the day. I have a couple of missed texts and a missed voicemail; invitations from friends to hang out that evening. One is from someone I haven't seen in some weeks and am keen to. But I feel like hell and want to be in better form when I do.

The second invite is from a girlfriend who lives in West Hollywood. Ellie! I'm heading out with D. to Pink Taco on Sunset around 8. Come!! I haven't seen you!! 

I take inventory of my body. Headache. Stuffy nose. Dry throat. Stomach still stuffed from the two slices of pizza I scarfed down that afternoon before falling asleep. Definitely an empire waist kind of night if I do go out, which I know I probably shouldn't, but I really want to see my friends. It's one thing to stay in when there's nothing going on, but I hate the feeling of missing out. 

I listen to the voicemail. L. reiterating her invitation, making sure I get the details in case I want to join them. I glance at the clock before calling her back. She tells me the plan: swing by Pink Taco for a drink and to say hi to some friends of D's, then Bagatelle, then some club in Beverly Hills. D has the hookup and we won't have to wait in line or pay a cover. Also - and this is pitched as selling point - the club is straight. I laugh and tell her I'm in, but that they should go on ahead of me. I'll get ready, take the train to Hollywood, then cab it the rest of the way and be there as soon as I can. 

It's been gorgeous out at night, and I'd love to wear something tight, black, and stylish, but my earlier lunch plus a nap immediately afterward has ruled that out. I guzzle water while I'm getting ready, telling myself futilely that I shouldn't drink tonight. Knowing that I will anyway. I pull on a sundress with a forgiving waistline. It's cute, but not the right look for where I'm headed. I stare at my dress rack for half a minute, trying to envision what I can get away with comfortably, then decide not to worry about it. I need to hurry anyway.

The subway feels like a swamp, and I'm grateful not to have had to dress more warmly. While I'm waiting at Wilshire/Vermont to switch lines, I text my other friend to let him know I slept through his invitation, but would love to make alternate plans. A young man on the bench besides me asks if I'm getting cell reception. I nod and point above us. "I think we're right below the entrance," I say. He offers me his seat, and his friends groan, pretending to object to having to move. I laugh and tell them to stay put, that I'm fine. They ask where I'm headed. I cautiously say West Hollywood, not sure how deep into this conversation I want to go. But they're very chill and friendly, just being generally chatty. They're on their way home from watching jazz and drinking wine at LACMA. 

One of them sits beside me on the train, and we make small talk for another two stops. Have I been to the jazz nights at the museum? No, I have not. Sounds fun though. It is, I am assured. I'll have to check it out sometime, I say. How about next weekend, he smiles. I smile back. No, thanks. Can't make it then. He's unoffended and impassive, and wishes me a goodnight as he and his friends disembark.

The tourist throng at Hollywood and Highland isn't too thick, and I get a cab with ease. It's a van, and I have trouble shutting the heavy door behind me as I climb in. The driver - a hulking, smiling Eastern European - realizes as we're stopped in traffic a minute later that I haven't closed it properly. He reaches back with one arm and pulls it tight. "Oh, I'm sorry about that," I say. Without turning around, he points at his cheek. "One kiss," he teases. I laugh and my phone lights up. L. telling me they've made a first stop at Saddle Ranch, and to let her know when I'm close so they can walk over to meet me. Don't get whiplash riding the bull, I say. Oh god no please, she replies. 

Distracted by the scenes of Hollywood street life on a Friday night, I don't pay attention to where we are, and before I know it, we've arrived. I send a quick text before pulling cash out of my wristlet. Oops, I'm here. She fires back: We're walking down now. 

Getting out of the van with anything remotely resembling grace proves beyond me. Our proximity to the curb combined with my ridiculous clog heels spell disaster, and I nearly break my neck in front of an amused patio full of diners. I scuttle to a corner out of view and text L. I just made a scene trying to get out of the cab. Totally mortified. We have to go somewhere else now, sorry. 

The two of them walk up a minute later, bubbling over with Friday night energy and smiles. Hugs are exchanged and we go inside, where D. greets a large table of friends of his. L. and I hang back, use the restroom, get a drink. We only stay long enough for D. to have made an appearance at his friend's birthday, then we take a taxi to Bagatelle.

We spend the next hour drinking champagne, sharing appetizers, and taking turns updating one another on the men in our lives. D. makes us groan with jealousy when he shows us pics of the model he's seeing. L. and I have had very similar romantic lives for the past few years. She and I are the same age, yet we both tend to date younger guys - as much as ten years younger. For her, this is a deliberate choice. She likes how playful, affectionate, and attentive they are. For me, it's accidental, and something I've been trying to avoid of late, for various reasons.

But I definitely agree with her on the benefits.

Sufficiently liquored up, we join some coworkers of D.'s who are heading to the aforementioned club in Beverly Hills. The three of us ride in the backseat of a spotless black X5, joking and singing along with the music. My headache, I realize, has been temporarily bullied out of existence by the champagne.

We valet the car in front of a smallish club entrance with a massive line of anxious looking, stunningly beautiful people. I'm too tipsy to pay attention to exactly where I am, to glance up or down the street for landmarks - not to mention note the name of the club we're entering - but the immaculate state of the sidewalk registers with me. Yep. Beverly Hills.

Since we've tagged along with a friend of a friend of the promoter (or something along those lines), we are escorted through and past the waiting crowd, to present ourselves to an attractive middle-aged woman in a skintight cocktail dress. She verifies who we're with, then deftly outfits us in wristbands before unhooking the velvet rope to let us pass. I don't make eye contact with anyone waiting in line as all of this happens, but I make a point to politely thank the door staff who usher us inside.

The club is small and very dark. A tiny bar, smallish dance floor, and a raised seating area with about ten sofa groupings for bottle service. There aren't many people here yet.  The three of us fix ourselves drinks at the table the friend-of-a-friend has, and look around. I stash my wristlet and phone under the table, and we take our drinks to the near-empty dance floor. The DJ is jump-cutting crowd favorites from the eighties onward, and we sing to one another as we goof around, still plenty of space between us. Two minutes have barely passed before someone bumps into me, spilling vodka and Red Bull down the bottom half of my dress and my legs. I'm unbothered by the accident - in fact the splash of cold actually feels good in the stuffy nightclub - but we're forced to move to a dryer patch of floor lest we slip.

It fills up fast, and with people that are even more beautiful than I remember them being outside. The three of us have a grand time nudging each other, pointing, giggling, and speculating. Is he looking at you or me? Another drink and another half an hour later, we're ready to mingle.

It's actually a fun little club to be at; it's small enough to not get separated from your friends for too long, but it's filled way past capacity, stuffing patrons into a space that's obscenely undersized for the crowd, and therefore allowing for (forcing, really) plenty of opportunities to socialize with the people you've bumped up against. The three of us are having lots of laughs and enjoying ourselves immensely, and I get pretty brave in my flirtation. L. and I have only hung out a few times, and we're still getting to know one another - including figuring out one another's "type", for wingman purposes. She nods towards a tall, polished-looking guy in a white button down who's dancing near us. "What about him?" she asks me. I check him out. Kind of smirky looking. Smug, really. But he has an interesting face, and I put him closer to my age than most of the crowd.

The man notices us noticing him, and before I know what's happening, he's navigated the two or three steps between us and is dancing with me. In the space of five minutes, I learn his name (Alexis), his occupation (investment banker), and the depth of his arrogance (vast). I almost immediately forget the sarcastic crack he makes about barely being able to afford going out in LA, but it's enough to give him my best really?? glare before mumbling something about needing to find my friends and moving off. But as I do, he says something I don't quite catch. I lean towards his ear to ask him to repeat himself, and he suddenly turns his face to kiss my cheek, though it feels rather like he was aiming for my lips. "Whoa!" I say, pulling back and putting both my hands up in front of me. If Alexis even recognizes my indignation, his face betrays no embarrassment or regret. He just disappears back into the crowd, as randomly as he'd appeared.

The night goes on. Emboldened by the drinks and unfazed by Alexis, I press on, making a game of singling out for conversation any of the men the three of us find cute, just for fun. They're all twenty-something. They're all gorgeous, in my opinion. And for the most part, they're very friendly. We take turns being wingman and recruiting for one another, but nothing really sticks.

I have another mildly shocking interaction with a guy who I notice, and who notices me back. Blondish, chiseled, built but very pretty. A poor woman's Tom Hardy. We throw looks at one another for a few minutes before he maneuvers himself next to me. He's about to speak when suddenly a dazzling platinum blonde appears, wrapping herself around him like a blanket. He kisses her. I turn my back.

A moment later the girl moves away from him. As she does, the man extends his arm just enough to touch my waist and back with a deliberate, slow stroke. I jerk my head around to look at him, and his expression is clear. No, he hasn't mistaken me for his companion. He knows he's touching me. My jaw falls open and I laugh out loud. Unbelievable. I shake my head at him, trying to swallow the remnants of a smile as I step away. As I do so, the man reaches out behind him once more, smacking me lightly on my ass, a half-sheepish grin on his face. I'm too drunk, too surprised, and too amused to react in any way other than to return to my friends.

---

I see him once before we speak. He's stepping past L. and I, his body and face mostly angled away from us as he squeezes past, trying to get out of the seating area. Thick, wavy, sandy blonde hair that he's bound up in ponytail at the base of his neck. I can't tell how long it is exactly, but I suspect chin length. Smooth, slightly tan skin with an even tone and pinkish cheeks. The kind of skin that betrays an excellent diet and more daily water consumption than I manage in a week. Pale eyes, though at first I can't tell what color. He isn't smiling, so I won't see the diastema until we're in conversation a little while later. But I do see his very full lips. About six foot, maybe a bit less. A healthy but not ridiculously-so build. There's definitely cardio in his regime. He's wearing a chambray shirt underneath a kelly green blazer, and black jeans. I put him at twenty-five. He is, in my opinion, easily the best looking man I've seen tonight. A true California beach boy. Probably a surfer.

I point him out to L. as he passes and she gives me a look that says, Yep. Definitely nice. Also definitely young, girlfriend. She's right, I know. Out of my league looks-wise and way too young. I inwardly sigh and think not for the first time how much aging sucks.

A few minutes later I head to bathroom. I'm not really paying attention to where I'm stepping, other than to avoid the toes of the patrons I'm walking with, so I'm surprised when I feel my foot connect with something solid, send it flying across the hallway, and into the wall next to a photo booth. I realize I've just kicked a glass, full force. I look around guiltily, or perhaps to figure out whose glass I've just punted, and I find myself face to face with Probable Surfer.

He smiles widely in sympathy. Diastema. He looks like Heath Ledger, but prettier. Less angular, less gaunt in the face, which glows with...something.

"Don't worry about it," he says. "I think I kicked it before, too."

"You can't take me anywhere," I reply. He laughs and we just sort of look at one another for a moment, assessing. Are we going to keep this going? Do we want to? I want to. Do you want to?

Apparently he wants to, because he makes a subtle join me gesture with his arm as he moves out of the flow of foot traffic, to the only space where we can stand that isn't in the way: next to the obnoxiously glowing photo booth, which is pouring hallogen light on my face at one a.m. I am not happy about this.

I also have a thought as it happens: This is what they mean by "falling" into conversation. 

Over the course of the next several minutes, I gather the following bits of information: he was born and raised in ____. He went to {Ivy League University} for undergrad. He just graduated from ____ law school. We've been to some of the same music festivals - like, on the same actual dates, where we could conceivably have seen one another (we didn't; I would have remembered). He wishes he were going to Burning Man like me. He likes my dress. He really likes floral prints, in fact (I greet this statement with a skeptical smile, as I suspect he's teasing me. No really. I have two floral print sofas at home.) His name is Matthew. He smiles a lot.

Enough time has passed that now I really have to use the restroom, and I say as much. "So what," he says playfully. "You're walking out of my life, just like that?"

Walking out of his life is the very last thing I want to do, but I refuse to ask him to wait for me where he's standing. "I'll meet you back inside," I say with much more nonchalance than I feel. I'm only 80% sure I'll be able to find him again - it's a tiny place but the crowd is thick - but it's the only option.

"Ok," he says. "You better. Same team, right?" he asks, raising his eyebrows in mock seriousness.

"Same team," I nod. He nods too, and then we turn away from one another.

---

While I'm waiting in the line for the bathroom, I chat up two tipsy girls behind me. They compliment my dress, which, if nothing else, is inarguably unique in the mix of sleek, fashion-forward outfits everyone else is sporting.

"I look like I just came from church," I reply. One of the girls shakes her head vehemently.

"Do you have a ponytail holder?" she asks me.

"I wish," I reply. She bites her lip thoughtfully, looking me over.

"A ponytail and some eyeliner. That's all you need," she declares. I smile, not offended at all. She's exactly right.

"Next time," I assure her, feeling as if I've just promised my daughter to make a bigger effort towards looking cool at her soccer games.

---

It takes a few minutes to find him again, but serendipitously, his table is just a few feet away from ours. The next half hour: dancing, drinking, talking, joking. I introduce him to my friends. I try not to stare at him. He slowly ups the physical ante, and eventually, his arm is wrapped around my waist. I am okay with this. There is no arrogance in the gesture or, it seems, in him at all. In fact, I'm beginning to get the impression he's pretty crunchy. I squint at his ponytail. How long? I ask. He responds by reaching back and pulling the band from his hair. I notice it's the same "ouchless" kind I use. I watch as he finger combs his hair down to show me. Yep. Chin length. Golden and wavy and soft-looking. Devastating. I want to run my hand up the back of his head and gather it into my fist. Instead I just smile.

I allow myself one more moony question. "Twenty five?" I say, cocking my head as if studying him. He snorts, throwing me off. "Hmm, really? Twentyyyyyyy-seven?" I say, hoping I don't sound hopeful.

"Twenty-eight," he says, and that line of discussion stops there. He doesn't reciprocate the inquiry.

The club lights come on. Lots of lights, in fact, which seem unnecessarily bright. I catch my reflection in the mirror beside us. I am, undeniably, a hot mess. I've had a sinus infection for a good week, and have been losing sleep steadily because of it. I haven't touched up my lipgloss in hours. I cringe, taking myself in, and think wryly of the expression we used in my dancing days: ugly lights. Strip club owners, it seems, take malicious glee in flipping the light switch the second the clock strikes 2:00 a.m., leaving the girls to scramble to collect payment from their customers and scurry back to the dressing room, lest the brutally unflattering light turn them into pumpkins in the eyes of those men.

Knowing that these ugly lights aren't doing me any favors, I brace myself for a blowoff. But it doesn't come. In fact, the opposite: do I want to come to after hours with him and his friends? I consider. I know my friends are going to be heading home anyway. But if I leave with Matthew, it'll most likely mean spending the night with him. It doesn't necessarily have to, of course - but I don't predict asking him to drive me back downtown at three, four in the morning.

But I'm enjoying him. I can't say that it's any kind of off-the-charts connection, but he is so, so very nice to look at. My ego is tugging on my sleeve. Do it. Come onnnnn, please? You never go to straight bars! You never meet straight guys! What's the harm? Please? For me? LOOK AT HIM.

He turns to face me directly, and his eyes search mine. "What do you say? Same team?" It's that moment - the one where two near-strangers have an unspoken, closing-time exchange. I'd like to hook up with you. Would you like to hook up with me? Where the terms of the hookup are undefined, precisely, but not by a whole lot.

"Same team," I reply, and he accepts this answer with what I decide is an appreciative smile.

I say goodbye to my friends, and we head out into the warm night.

---

Okay, wow, that was quite a post. Your blogmistress wasn't expecting it to take so long to detail this particular adventure, and she's thinking maybe she should stop there, at least for now. I intended to tell the whole story, and I'm sure I will, but goddamn, this is is already eleventy billion words long as it is.

So lemme just publish this and I'll tell the second half later when my elbows recover from four hours of resting with a complete lack of ergonomic kindness on my hard, hard desk.

Incidentally, I really hope it doesn't come across as braggy. Like, oooh, look at me, cute dudes be hitting on me! Really, I'm only sharing it because I know some of you guys get a kick out of the (rare) juicy stuff. I totally would too! And I was pretty mum about what went down with my last manpanion, so I dunno, maybe I feel like I owe you something a little more fun?

Just don't get your hopes up too high; from this point on it was a tragicomedy, but I know it's at least more entertaining to read this stuff than me droning on about the sads all the time. 

Ok, done disclaiming. Thanks for caring/reading about my "romantic" life!

- Ellie

a handful of impressions: bonnaroo 2013

In no particular order, other than that in which I wrote them.

Grief

Sunday, early afternoon, still at the hotel. I'm in a state. I've barely slept the past three nights. I've taken loads of drugs. I've hardly eaten a thing in four days. I'm depleted, exhausted, starving, and dehydrated. I've sent David* on ahead of me since a) my stomach is threatening revolt and b) I'm feeling like I need some time alone to get emotionally centered for the day. It's the second Father's Day since my dad died. Normally I'd not let myself sink into that hole, but my body is pissed at what I've been doing to it, and has nothing extra to give me, to keep me afloat.

On the shuttle to the festival, I send text messages to all my friends who are dads. I text David to remind him to call his father. He answers almost immediately. Sent him the sweetest text in history. An ugly, ungenerous part of me responds back in my head. Must be nice. At the fest, I spend the first hour struggling to dial into a happy spot. I watch The Mowgli's, the most upbeat of bands, from the back of the tent, leaning my face against the poles of a raised lounge area. I cling to the posts and mouth the words as I listen to The Great Divide and San Francisco, tracks I've been looping for weeks back at home. I can't sing, because my lips are inches from the ear of a guy reclined on a sofa in front of me. Instead I just press my forehead to the bars like a prisoner, close my eyes, and will myself to count the blessings of the moment until genuine gratitude takes hold. But my throat is tight with grief, and I miss him with an inexplicable fierceness. I wish I could tell him about it, all of it, even the drugs. He'd shake his head and chastise me, but half-heartedly. He'd get it. And he'd delight in my delight. I miss him.

The Mowgli's = very happy, but Ellie = very sad. Worst festival math evar.

Joy

Two a.m. Sunday morning. That Tent. Billy Idol has just finished playing. Most of the crowd is staying exactly where they are, holding fast to their good spots. It's been a strange Saturday evening. The cancellation of Mumford and Sons cast a bit of a pall on the festival, which, by and large, is vocal about its dissatisfaction with the replacement act of Jack Johnson. Lots of bitter, sarcastic jokes being cracked. Lots of disappointed Mumford fans. There's been a weird hole in the evening where the much-anticipated headliner should have been. People have been wandering, ambivalent about what they wanted to do or see instead. Energy has been low for a couple of hours, as clusters of bummed out fans trickle around the festival grounds in search of something to keep them going. But now the buzz and hum are starting to build again. Empire of the Sun is about to start, and the crowd is fidgety with excitement, despite the late hour, and despite the fact that they're going on nearly half an hour late.

And then they do start. And the roar of the crowd ripples out from in front of the stage, back through and over us, and electrifies several thousand people, all eager to be recharged for the late-late shift. They sound absolutely amazing live, and I'm instantly transported. Everything is blue lights, lasers, and fog. The Australian duo are outfitted in psychedelic costumes, with LED lights lining their instruments. It feels like being in a video. We've somehow, miraculously managed to carve out enough room to dance, cornered against a railing near the back of the tent. While we're not close enough to make out all of the action on stage, we've got a decent view and incredible sound, and I'm beyond thrilled to be able to move and jump like a maniac when Alive comes on. Everyone who knows the words is throwing his or her head back and belting them out. I'm turned around, facing David, dancing with him, singing to him again, smiling and laughing and out of my head with joy.

Some form of pre-performance prayer, I think.



It doesn't look like we had a good spot, but trust, it was amazing.

Affection

It's the Saturday night hole. The empty place where Mumford and Sons should have been. We've just left The Lumineers, but we don't know what we want to do until Billy Idol, at midnight. There aren't any shows going at the moment that are particularly compelling to us. Neither of us is interested in Jack Johnson; in fact, I'm terrified that watching him will actually bring me further down and put me to sleep. We briefly consider the Ferris wheel, but the line is outrageous. Should we take a pill? he asks. I'm unsure about starting on ecstasy this early. It's only a bit after nine, and I'm planning on going all the way until morning. Pretty Lights played until sunrise the night before, so I'm guessing Empire of the Sun and Boyz Noise will go just as late. I want to time my high to maximize on those shows. We could just get high and hang out in the Christmas barn, he suggests. Fuck it, I say, realizing there's nothing else to do. But two caveats, I say. If we start now, it'll be a two pill night for me. He nods. And the other? I reach into my bag, pulling out the tiny baggy from my coin purse. I'm a handful on two pills. Like, I will need to dance. And I might disappear to go do just that, no matter what's on. 

We place the capsules on one another's tongues and toast with our water. See ya later, I say, like always.

The Christmas barn is going strong, and we hang out there for a bit, bobbing to the beat and smiling at all the weirdness of it. It's a barn, in the middle of a farm in Tennessee, in June, decked out like the North Pole, and filled with ravers. It's spectacularly bizarre.

Christmas barn, covered in Christmas lights. Just the right amount of weird.



They weren't really this grumpy, I promise. That was just their schtick for photos.

I know the moon rocks have kicked in when I start to obsess about the Silent Disco. Jared Dietch is starting at eleven, and I want to catch as much of his set as possible before Billy Idol. I caught some of his set the night before and it was a blast. But I know that with the fest crowd largely disbanded by the cancellation, there'll probably be a line to get in to the Disco. A very, very long one that starts early. So I ask David if we can go sit on the grass near it, to make sure we don't miss out. He agrees, and we step out of the Christmas chaos into the cold night.

My high ramps up noticeably as we do so.

Cold. I run to the locker to get my hoodie. I return to find the line has grown. David is socializing with some other very high people. A guy and a girl, who, a moment after introducing herself to me, literally crawls off on all fours, disappearing back into the dark. She just fell into my lap, he says. We sit cross-legged. We chat. We chat faster. Moon rock. Heart thumping. My eyes are wide and I'm rocking to a beat somewhere. I run to the bathroom again. I refill our water bottles. David waits for me. I'm thankful for my warm layers. Recorded music pours over us from a nearby tower. Something awful. Some awful artist. We're too far away from everything live, it's all we hear. What it is? Why aren't they changing it? We laugh. We sit closer to one another. Watch out, I say. I'm coming up. I climb onto his lap and wrap my limbs around him. Cozy. Warmth. I do not love this man. I barely know this man. But he's strong and he's kind and he's here with me, and we're having a good time. We're in a great mood now, the headliner hole forgotten. We're ready to dance. The line grows long behind us, and I feel a rush of gratitude and relief that I'm not going to miss my DJ, that David has patiently waited an hour with me, in the cold grass. He holds me. I bury my face against his shoulder, his neck, this man I do not know or love.

I'm glad he's here.

In the Disco, I cut loose fast and hard. He keeps up with me for a while. We retreat to the grass behind the tent. Room for us to goof, to spread out, to sing to one another. The music is a mix, and frustrates me. Some spectacular EDM tracks, some randoms from the 90s. David sits and watches me. Takes photos of me. He points at me, licks his finger, makes it sizzle on his shirtsleeve. I laugh and dance harder. The line to get in has quadrupled. They watch us enviously. I'm giddy. This is my zone. When fireworks start over my shoulder I can't even stop to watch. Alive comes on and I explode into movement and laughter. I sing the words to David, ecstatic. I mean them. Loving every minute cuz you make me feel so alive, alive. And I do feel incredibly alive. I never feel more alive than when I'm dancing to music I love, and here I am, at Bonnaroo, my god, what an amazing thing, what an incredible experience, out here among the stars, thousands of joyful people around us, listening to musical thrill after musical thrill. My heart fills with affection for this person, for being here with me, witnessing and sharing in my joy. He's made it real, more real than when I do it alone, and even though I don't love him, I love him for being with me in this moment.



Oh Silent Disco, how I love thee. 


Stalkers will need to do their own exposure adjustments, sorry.

Drugs 

Friday, late afternoon. The sun is slowly dripping into the magic hour. The weather is a gift - a godsend really. Nowhere near as hot or humid as last year. There's even a light breeze valiantly working its way through an eighty thousand-strong mass of bodies, lifting skirts, hair, and spirits even higher than they already are. David's younger brother has joined us for the day, with a one-day ticket so they can rock out to Paul McCartney and ZZ Top together. They haven't seen one another in two years. Lots of laughter, smiling, teasing.

The three of us grab a patch of grass near a hip hop show. We sit only long enough to share a truly wretched soft pretzel and a handful of shrooms before we get up and wander the grounds, soaking up the chill sunset vibes of the festival. They're not attached to anything until the classic rock shows starts a few hours later, and I'm content to meander and take in the sights while the mushrooms gently, slowly curl their fingers around my senses. I let my gaze linger on things as we pass. Colorful clothes, face paint, signage, the oversized grotesque statues spiked in the ground. Everything has the potential to be a playground for my mind. I loosen my thoughts and relax my body into the drugs, letting them take me where they will.





Where we sat to do The Deed.

As usual, it starts with water. Water has always been the gateway for me, with shrooms. Especially in the fading light of dusk. The twinkle and sparkle, the splatter and trickle. When water suddenly takes on an extra dimensionality, I know I'm high. The water of the Centeroo mushroom fountain captivates me as we come upon it. I jump on a bench as the guys walk ahead, snapping pics, entranced by the sound and sight of it, which blend together. Synesthesia, my favorite thing about mushrooms.

Mild giggles kick in as we walk up to This Tent, where Jim James is just starting. It's the perfect musical backdrop. A. E. I. O. U. sounds lush in my ears, drippy and loopy and sexy and silly all at once. I post to Instagram with one hand, my other arm wrapped around David as we half-dance, nodding and smiling and laughing.



Weird stuff to look at when you're high. Thanks, Bonnaroo!


Surprise

Here's what I expect of watching Paul McCartney: I expect it will be a ton of fun. I expect an eighty thousand person singalong. I expect to enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is: a once in a lifetime experience. I'm a Beatles fan, but I'm certainly not a rabid one.

Well, I get the singalong, and I absolutely get the fun. We end up in a very cool little cluster of people with whom we sing, dance, and high-five throughout the show. But the whole experience is heightened by the fact that while I'm not a rabid Beatles fan, my companion, David, is. And watching any show in the company of a die-hard fan is always much more fun. He knows every word to every tune, and is just generally beside himself, he's so into it. He sings the ballads in my ear and plays the guitar solos on my hip and my arm. And somewhere along the way I get hit with a wave of holy shit emotion, as in holy shit, I'm watching one of the most famous musicians in the world, a man who's not going to be up to doing these shows for too many more years. I think of all the times I've listened to The Beatles either by myself or with friends who were fans.

I think of the fact that my brother was the one who introduced me to them.

And as Sir Paul pauses in between songs to muse about "his friend John", it dawns on me what an amazing, momentous thing it is, to be living at a time when I can watch this incredibly famous and influential man perform. A man whose life and experiences and connections and friendships are so intermeshed with the 20th century historical musical narrative that it's hard to think of someone more important, or integral to, well, the whole fucking thing.

And it moves me, tremendously. And I think of friends that I love, and who I would be crushed to lose, in the way that Paul lost John. And I cry. Unexpectedly, I cry. And I'm strangely happy to be surprised by this moment.

I'm not a fan of pushing up through crowds, but push up we did, and we got pretty close...

See?

Not too horrible a view of Sir Paul. 

Peace

I don't meet up with David on Sunday. I don't want to. I'm burned out physically and emotionally. We talk about meeting up for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which is the final show, but he's already buried deep in the crowd when I get to the field. I'm feeling really low at this point in the evening. So low, in fact, that I actually consider skipping the show and just going home. Everyone else just seems so connected, and I feel so incredibly alone. There's a special kind of bittersweet energy at the last show on the last night of a festival. People stand closer to one another. They're quieter. It seems like they listen to one another more, perhaps soaking up the last of their interaction with each other before saying goodbye forever. It honestly feels like 79,999 people, and then me.

And then it starts raining.

It isn't pouring, but it isn't misting either. The covered tents at the back of the field quickly fill up, as some people retreat for shelter. But most just hold their ground, some in rain gear, though most not. I'm waiting in line for the bathroom, pulling my ninety-nine cent poncho out of my bag, when the band starts to play. And I know instantly that I'm not going anywhere. The sound is so good, so rich and full and pretty, even way back where I stand, at the far end of the field. It lights up the night and grabs a hold of me and says Hey, look, don't leave yet, ok? It's Tom fucking Petty after all. You can be sad, but just be sad to Tom Petty is all's we're saying.

So I don't leave. I go to the bathroom, where I unfold and don a flimsy, transparent triangle of plastic, and then I step back out into a massive, moonlit singalong. I wander around the field for the entire show, socializing a bit, but mostly just stopping in one section long enough to listen to a song or two before moving on to another area. I watch lanterns being lit, and set out to float off into the night sky amidst cheers and applause. I watch fire breathers and glow stick dancers and hula hoopers. I spend a few minutes running in circles with a group of people who are just randomly running in circles, for the sheer fun of it, in the rain. I do all of this alone, and my heart, which has felt so empty and hollow all day, suddenly is full again. I throw my head back and yell out lyrics along with everyone else. Heyyyyyy baby, there ain't no easy way out. Heyyyyyyy I will stand my ground. And I won't back down. 

I won't say that I feel joyful, exactly. Not akin to other, higher moments of the fest. But I find peace back there, in the dark, aimlessly wandering and singing to myself, to the crowd, to the band, to the sky, to my past, to my present, and to my future. It isn't some great revelatory moment. I'm not high, and I haven't had a single drop of alcohol. It's just a clean, peaceful feeling, standing there in the rain, being alone, and being anything but at the same time.








Connection

Thursday night. We've got our festival legs. It's the warm-up day. No major shows, none of the big stages are open, but there are several smaller or lesser-known acts scheduled to kick the weekend off. Last year A. and I missed Thursday entirely, so it feels like a bonus to even be here tonight.

We drift and sample shows at will, having fun and enjoying the scene but not getting too amped up about anything. Until we stumble upon Django Django. And that's when our festival starts. I've never heard them before, and David has only briefly checked them out online when making his schedule. They're indescribable. Part EDM, part funk, part question mark, and one more part question mark. I've since listened to them on Spotify and something definitely gets lost in their studio recordings. But live? Live they are unreal. So fun, so funky and danceable.

We catch the show from the outside of the tent, nowhere near close enough to see the stage, but the sound hits us - and the crowd around us - just right. We have a blast dancing with one another, laughing and goofing around to the music we can't for the life of us describe or classify, but which is rocking us hard. Some guy near where we stand shines a handheld disco laser under our feet, twisting the grip to change the pattern as we dance. I'm mesmerized and delighted. David is loving the music, loving dancing, loving his first taste of Bonnaroo.

There aren't a lot of moments during the weekend, that he and I truly connect over the music we're watching. But we connect over Django Django, and it's the perfect sleeper hit start to the weekend.

Luck

I lucked out so many times throughout the festival, in terms of catching the one or two songs I'd wanted to see, at shows that I wasn't otherwise interested in. This happened with Maps and Atlases, Beach House, Wilco, ZZ Top, David Byrne, Divine Fits, and at least a couple more I'm not remembering. I just happened to be walking by, or walking up, or on my way to another show, and I caught some of my favorite randoms this way. Super lucky timing.



Regrets

I missed On an On entirely, because we got to Paul McCartney so early. That's my biggest regret. I also missed The XX completely (I missed them at Coachella, too - double fail).

I wish I'd been much closer for Of Monsters and Men and The Lumineers. The Lumineers put on an awesome show, but their sound got completely lost in the back. We could barely hear them. I would have been much more bummed about it if I hadn't seen them here in LA last year, and smack up against the stage at that. And I can't really complain about the Of Monsters and Men show, since this is the third time I've seen them, and both times before were really amazing for me, emotionally.



About how close we were for Of Monsters and Men. Bummer, but damn, that crowd was THICK and it was HOT. Would have been hellish to try and get much closer. 

There are a couple other smaller bands/performers I wanted to see that were earlier in the day, but I was just way too trashed from being up until 6am the night before to get back up early enough to catch them. C'est la festival vie.

EDM

Porter Robinson, Wolfgang Gartner, Boyz Noise, and Pretty Lights are all, predictably, incredible. Danced my face off, loved every minute of them.

Standard issue blurry EDM photo. Could be Christ himself up there and no one would know. Good job Ellie.

David got this amazing shot of Pretty Lights which I may Instagram, because it is so fantastic.

Romance

Negative. Chemistry, yes. Lots of laughs and great conversation, definitely. Romance, no. Ellie is officially still single, kids. Hide your menfolk.

Moment of Random Dancing In the Middle of Everything

One particularly Bonnaroo-esque moment was actually on Thursday night. We took moon rocks, which neither of us had ever had before, and it hit us like a tsunami. I consider myself, for lolz or for lolsobs, to be a pretty savvy user of ecstasy/MDMA at this point. And I've never experienced anything like it. It was nearly incapacitating. We both had to sit down when it hit, lest our legs give out from under us. This happened as we were walking through the middle of the festival. We just plopped down right where we stood. That lasted about thirty seconds for me, at which point, I, of course, needed to dance. The closest music source was the crazy Christmas barn, and it was perfect. David just sat watching, dazed but laughing, as I broke it down right there, in the middle of foot traffic. I didn't have a choice. Then we just sat there for a while marveling at how unbelievably high we were, and every few minutes I'd pop back up to dance some more of it off.

To me a festival isn't complete unless at some point I'm randomly dancing in the middle of nothing/everything. So I got that covered.

Favorites

Band - The Vaccines. Holy shit they rocked. Loved loved loved seeing them, especially since they were a last minute, very exciting discovery for me. I've since added lead singer Justin Hayward-Young to my rock star crush list. I mean, come on. If The Strokes + Weezer + a dash of Vampire Weekend sounds good to you, check them out. Family Friend (just the tune, no video) is fucking amazing, I cannot stop listening to that track. Also great are If You Wanna and Norgaard. Oh, and Wetsuit, which was so, so fun to hear live.

Performer - Matt Berninger of The National, who drank his way through the show like a boss, jumped into the pit inches from where I stood, and wandered around the audience for a couple of songs, dragging and violently yanking his mic cord behind him. Such a badass. I Need My Girl almost killed me. I wish it would have. Then maybe Matt would have revived me when he plunged into my personal space, which he totes did on purpose, I'm sure of it.




Song - Alive, by Empire of The Sun. So magical. I was in heaven. One of my favorite festival moments of all time, if not THE best moment, actually. Can't wait to see them again at HardFest in August.

Were There Any Groups of People Dressed In Banana Suits?

You bet your potassium there were.



So help me god next fest I'm wearing my owl suit on the last night.

vs. 2012? 

Gah, do I have to? Put a gun to my head and I'll say 2012 was better. But that's not really fair. Such wildly different experiences. Last year I went with A., and we were pretty head over heels, though the fact is we fought terribly when we were there. Drugs and romance, I have learned, do not mix. Like, at all. 

That being said, some of my favorite moments of this year way, way trumped some of my 2012 moments. It's just too hard to compare, really.

Gonna 'Roo Again Next Year?

Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm going to wait and see what the lineup is first this time. And I'm itching to do a new festival, if I can. Maybe Osheaga, in Montreal. Or, dream fest - the Isle of Wight. And if I don't go to EDC next year, I can pretty much never go, because it'll be my last chance to go before I'm 40. And your girl really doesn't give a whole lot of fucks about age and all that nonsenserry, because she still has a blast going to EDM shows and such...but EDC is a whole 'nother kettle of (very young) fish.

I'm also thinking of maybe just taking a trip to see one of my huge favorites somewhere cool, such as Explosions in The Sky, or The Walkmen. Making a weekend out of visiting a new city, capping it off with a concert. Dunno.

How Bad Was the Comedown After Bonnaroo?

Suicidally bad. That's not an exaggeration, I'm sorry to say. I was an absolute, utter mess. Even worse than after Coachella, which was unbearably bad. Hence my silence on the blog and IG. I was in the throes of some of the deepest despair I've ever experienced. I don't know if it was the moon rocks, or the combination of lots of moon rocks plus lots of mushrooms, or the fact that I barely ate while I was there (I lost ten pounds over the weekend), or WHAT was going on, but I crashed worse than I ever have. Disastrously bad scene. Spent most of Wednesday wanting to hurl myself off of the roof. Really. Luckily friends near and far were there for me, and I had a ton of support when I needed it most. Like, unreal amounts of love and support, which probably saved my life.

Serotonin depletion is bad news for anyone, at any time. But for someone prone to depression, it's actually incredibly fucking dangerous. I've now learned this lesson twice, the very very hard way. It's something I'm factoring into consideration for all of my subsequent festival plans, including Burning Man. That much usage spells serious trouble for me. One or two nights in a row is one thing, but four nights in a row is just not doable for the Ellster.

Assorted, Leftover, Unremarkable Crowd Shots



And that will conclude your coverage of Bonnaroo 2013, which was written by your blogmistress all at once over the past few hours and therefore on no sleep, so apologies if it's not her best work, etc and so forth, and also apologies in advance for a few more IG shots she's probably going to post because they're pretty and she wants to, even if they're totally redundant (read: sunset Ferris wheel shots) and to all a goodnight zzzzzzz.....

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*Blog code name. His choice.