Monday, October 31, 2011

The Parking Lot Date

Disclaimer: This blog entry contains content which may be unsuitable for persons under the age of 18, my parents, or anyone with a stick up their butt.

o about three years ago, I had a date with a solid, upstanding, Christian woman.

"Karol" and I had met on a dating site. We seemed to hit it off via email and phone. So we had our first date. We met halfway between our homes, at a little dive bar, for burgers and beer.

As I said, she was a very strong Christian woman. All her kids (she had 5 of them) were named things like Isiah and Jedediah and such.

We had a great date. Laughing, talking, getting to know one another. I was definitely thinking that she was worthy of a second date, and got the feeling she felt the same way about me.

So at the end of the date, I walked her to her car, and gave her a kiss on her cheek, and a hug. After the hug, I made a remark about how nice it felt. Not thinking much about it, I headed to my car.

When I got home, I sent her a text saying I had a great time. She replied saying she did too.

Then I texted her "When can I see you again?" Complete silence.

Over the next few days, we texted less and less, and I realized she tended to go silent whenever I brought up the idea of a second date.

Eventually, we just quit texting each other. Life moved on, and I started dating a high school friend who lived in Kansas City.

It had been over a year at least, when I was in Tampa FL for New Year's Eve with the Kansas City woman, when suddenly this woman started texting me out of the blue.

KC woman was jealous at the time that another woman was texting me, so I pretty much ignored her.

Fast forward to my living hell, when in a four week span KC girl dumped me, I lost my job, lost my townhouse, and temporarily lost my car.

I'm living in a hotel, waiting to get approved for an apartment with my foreclosure on my record...when she starts texting me again. We talk very openly, and she continually discusses her faith and Christianity.

Then she starts asking me about my relationship with KC Girl, and if we were intimate with one another.

I told her yes, we were two grown single adults, and we decided to show our affections for one another by being physically intimate.

She responded by telling me she wouldn't have sex with me until at least six months into a relationship. She added that the reason she wouldn't go on a second date with me before was because she thought I was too physical with my hug, and in expressing that it felt nice.

Okay, I thought, we haven't even had a second date, so that's fair enough.

She was so damn persistent though. She continually texted me, and really wanted to get together. I reluctantly agreed, and figured if I got another date out of the way with her, we could both move onto a better match for each of us.

So I drove to her town, and picked her up for our lunch date.

We went to a little Italian place. It was mid-afternoon, so the place was virtually empty.

She reminded me yet again of her strong faith, and that we wouldn't have sex for six months if we started dating. Again, my mindset was, let's just get through this date, I'll drop you off, and we can both go on our merry way.

The waiter comes over to give us water and asks if we want anything else to drink. She orders a beer, which shocks me.

I decide to order a beer as well.

Before our meal arrives, she orders a second beer. I order a second beer as well.

During the meal, she orders a third beer. And let's just remember it's about 2:30 in the afternoon. I tell her to enjoy the beer, but that since I have to drive back home, I'm done for the day.

So she has her third beer, and being small in stature, it's impacting her, I can tell.

She talks about ordering a fourth beer when I remind her that her kids are going to be home from school soon, and she was adamant about making sure that she was home and they had no clue she had a lunch date with some man.

So we head to my car, leave the restaurant, and when I get ready to turn right toward her house, she belts out "NO GO LEFT! I WANT TO SHOW YOU MY TOWN!"

We're driving around for about 5 minutes, and I notice she keeps trying to get me to turn down desolate roads and into hidden parking lots.

Finally I ask her "Are you trying to get me to park?"

She shyly admits that she is, and that she wants to make out with me.

So eventually we end up in a parking lot that overlooks a corn field on the edge of town. It's on the edge of a small college campus.

It's broad daylight, but there we are, listening to cheesy country music and thinking about making out like two high school sweethearts.

The next 30 seconds are a blur. We go from making out at the 5 second mark, to her having her hand on my crotch by the 10 second mark, to her unzipping my fly and letting the animals out of the barn door at the 25 second mark.

The next thing I know, she's busy performing an act that rhymes with palatial on me, in a college commuter lot, while I watch the corn grow.

As I nervously scan the horizon for anyone who might be watching us, who might notice that her head is bobbing up and down on the driver seat side of my car...I notice a combine slowly moving in the rows of the cornfield closest to my car.

"There's a farmer in his combine driving by right now" I tell her. "Mmmmph hmmmph hhhmmmph mpppmhh." (Translation: I don't give a shit)

A few minutes later, after not worrying about the farmer in the dell myself, I realize that her work on me is about to reach fruition.

Being the gentleman that I am, I warn her accordingly.

Her reply: "Mmmmph hmmmph hhhmmmph mpppmhh." (Translation: I don't give a shit)

As the fruition occurs, I suddenly find myself thinking about Bill Clinton. A "man of faith" who didn't consider oral sex to be cheating, or sex.

Damn. I just had a date with the female version of Bill Clinton.

Suddenly, as if she was awakened from a drunken slumber, which in fact she may have very well been in, she blurts out "Oh my gosh. I have to get home!"

We hastily get ourselves back in zipping up my jeans, and her asking me for a piece of gum...and I begin the short drive back to her house.

As we get a block away, she asks me to drive around the block and drop her off where her kids won't see her.

I oblige, and as I pull up a half-block from her house she suddenly shrieks and ducks down.

"What's wrong?" I ask her. "Did one of your kids see us?"

"No, that's my pastor walking his dog right there."

As her pastor disappears around the corner with Fido, she slides out of the car quickly and disappears into her house.

I was in a state of bewilderment as I drove home. What the hell just happened? I didn't plan to ever talk to her again, because something completely freaked me out about the last few hours.

Halfway home, I got a text message from her. "When can I see you again?"

I didn't reply.

And I still haven't.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Second Hometown, My Mecca

Tomorrow I return to Iowa City, my second hometown.

I have written extensively about my actual hometown of Sioux City in this blog, but I haven't even mentioned my second love, Iowa City.

I began my love affair with Iowa City as a small child, when my entire family would pack up our station wagon and drive there to watch the Hawkeyes lose a football game (this was B.H. - Before Hayden, so it was a given the Hawks would lose).

It continued into high school, when my parents and I would drive down to visit my older brother and watch Chuck Long and Ronnie Harmon WIN ball games.

Yes, it's true that my love affair with the town started because of football.

But it wasn't until 1992, when I moved to Iowa City to start graduate school in journalism, that I TRULY fell in love.

I lived there for seven years, and was very active in the community as a journalist, business owner, and member of service organizations. There's not a way for me to go to Iowa City now without running into at least one person I know.

Iowa City is amazing because it combines a small town feel with a big city vibrancy. It features Broadway shows, incredible art, excellent shopping, and some of the best restaurants in the world, but you can still leave your front door unlocked at night (or at least you could when I moved away from there 12 years ago).

And as a writer, Iowa City is heaven. If you're not aware of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, google it. Trust me, there is no shortage of motivation or inspiration in Iowa City for a writer.

People who have never been to Iowa City will never know it. Iowa City is the best kept secret in the midwest. But anyone who has lived there knows it. And they're sworn to secrecy so that people don't move from all over to change it's magical little status.

But much like Sioux City, it's not the "what" that makes Iowa City great. It's the "who."

The people of Iowa City are a wild mix. Liberal baby boomers, college students, young professionals, black, brown, yellow, white, purple, straight, gay, hipsters, nerds, and even the occasional douchebag.

They all blend together to form a pretty quirky and interesting little place.

Yes, it's true that most of the time these days, it's football that brings me back to Iowa City.
But it doesn't mean I don't get the goosebumps when I drive off of I-380 onto I-80 east, remembering that this place, nearly as much as Sioux City, is my home.

That's why you'll be able to find me at Joe's Place tomorrow night, sipping a pint and listening to the same songs on the jukebox that were playing 15 years ago.

And after that you might find me wandering the ped mall looking for a gyro, or at Panchero's ordering a burrito that resembles a catcher's mitt.

And if you miss me there, look for me tailgating at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, chanting out a few hundred times "Let's Go Hawks!"

Iowa City, I'll see you tomorrow. May I not be charged with public urintoxication.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thank You For My Kids, Michael Jackson!

I have Michael Jackson to thank for my wonderful boys.

Wait, what?

Yes, I understand that statement seems quite odd, and ironic.

But it's true!

How do I owe Michael Jackson for my two amazing sons?

Really, it's quite logical when you think about it.

Oh and don't make it simple just because it's logical.
If you're guessing right now that I met the boys' mother at a Michael Jackson concert, that's not it.

Here's the explanation:

1. Because of Michael Jackson's live performance of Billie Jean on the Motown 25 TV special, where he moonwalked across the stage for all of 10 feet, I became addicted to breakdancing. In fact during my freshman year in high school, my friends and I ended up making good money teaching lessons and doing performances around Sioux City. If you know my breakdancing name, then you know me well, fyi.

2. Because of my obsession with breakdancing and hip hop in general, I became hooked on a song called "Rock It" by Herbie Hancock. Hear the song
here. In fact, one day my mom came into my room and heard the song playing, and asked me what this noise was. I told her "Herbie Hancock." She dropped her jaw. "Herbie Hancock? I went to college with him." Ok, my mom suddenly seemed cool.

3. With new found information regarding my mom's coolness in knowing Herbie Hancock, I decided that I would indeed enjoy attending my mom's college reunion. I was totally going to get Herbie to autograph my extended play single LP of "Rock It." So off we went to some weird place called Cornell College or something. It was in the middle of nowhere I heard.

4. It was in fact Grinnell College. Herbie didn't show at the reunion. It didn't matter. I fell in love with the place the minute I saw it. Beautiful buildings sprawled across a small, but open campus. I toured the campus, and saw the swimming pool. I instantly knew I wanted to swim at this school, if I was lucky enough to ever get to attend it.

5. Fast forward 3 years and it was time for me to choose between a full scholarship to swim at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, or pay my own way to go to Grinnell College. I ended up choosing Grinnell because I just had a real pull to the place. And I'm so glad, because I spent four of the best years of my life there.

6. And in the spring of my freshman year at Grinnell, I met my now ex-wife, and the mother of my amazing children.
My relationship with her was never perfect, and I have no regrets whatsoever that it's over. Mostly because that relationship gave me the two most important things in my life.

So, Michael, I want to thank you for helping bring Gman and Nile the Crocodile into my life. Oh and also I really did love Off the Wall.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't Go Changin'

"Nothing endures but change."
- Heraclitus

hate change.

Absolutely and without question I hate it.

The best example of my fear of change happened in the Fall of 1990, when I studied for a semester in London.

Fresh off the plane, and looking for a place to stay for the night, my then girlfriend, now ex-wife, and I found ourselves lost on a street corner in the largest city I had ever set foot in.

I was losing my mind. "What am I doing? What was I thinking? This was a big mistake!"
As we tried to figure out where we were on a map that was literally a book, and we didn't even know what page we were on, I wasn't sure I was going to make it through this.

The fear of the unknown overcame me.
I became paralyzed by my fear of change. The girlfriend went off to find a cheap B&B in the neighborhood while I sat guarding our luggage on the street corner. I wanted to curl up in a ball and click my heels together and go back to the good old campus I knew at Grinnell College.

Just as I was about to find a way to get a taxi ride back to Heathrow Airport and fly home, the girlfriend arrived with keys in her hand to our home for the night...the seediest B&B I've ever spent the night in. But I was rescued.

Fast forward 15 years, and you'll be able to understand how I've become able to deal with major life changes now. In the last 6 years I've lost:

- My wife of 13 years, and my girlfriend for another 4
- Three additional relationships with women I cared deeply about

- Two jobs to bad economies

- A townhouse, and with it a large amount of equity

- My car (for a day anyway)

- At times, my dignity

In addition, I've had to learn how to be a single dad (there's no tag teaming when I have my sons), and how to do everything it takes to run a household, because I'm both the mom and the dad in my house the time I have those boys.

I also had to re-learn (or in reality, learn for the first time) how to date. And if you don't think dating is scary, then you obviously are reading my blog for the very first time.

But I still manage to get up every day, put a smile on my face (sometimes admittedly a fake one), and make a step toward embracing these changes as they hit me.

I learn from each loss - what can I do differently in the future to avoid this happening again? I dissect it with the passion of a high school biology teacher dissecting a frog.

I still hate change.
I don't like it when my world comes crashing down around me.

When it happens, I will still have my short bursts of panic/paralysis, maybe a bit of anger thrown in.

But now I know that just because you don't like change, doesn't mean you can stop it.

The only thing that is constant in this world is change.

Nope, you won't find me sitting on a stack of luggage on a scary street corner in London, waiting to be rescued, anymore.

I'll be off searching for that key, so I can find a place to call home for the night.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Letter To My Sons

Dear boys,

We're about to enter a new period in our relationship.

You're about to enter what the world calls the teenage years (Nile, you technically already have, and Grady, you've emotionally been a teenager since birth).

And I'm about to transform from the "Dad You Want To Talk To," to "'Oh No, Here He Comes' Dad."

I'm not sure I'm ready for it.

I already felt the tug at the heart last week when I dropped you off at school. You admitted you wanted me to drop you off on the street instead of the front entrance not because it saved me time, but because you didn't want to be seen with me.

I do understand. Believe me, with your Grandma, when I was your age, I have stories that would give you ginormous knots in your stomach.

But that will have to wait for another time, because I'm talking about the three of us.

Please know, that no matter how stupid and lame I become in the next few years, you are without a doubt the reason that I walk this Earth. We may not have the most traditional family, but that doesn't stop us from having our own kinds of traditions.

So I am going to make sure that I can come up with some non-lame ideas for things we can do together once in awhile, when you're not doing homework, hanging out with friends, attending football, basketball or baseball practice, or generally hiding in your room away from me.

Something that when you're my age, you'll be able to look back at and say "Those were great times."

Ok, now to the really important part of this letter . Girls.

No matter how many times I tell you that you can talk to me about "girls and stuff," I know that you won't. No kid wants to talk to their parents about that. I certainly didn't.

So I'm going to tell you some really important things now that I hope you'll remember.

Don't be someone that you're not for a girl. Be yourself. If they don't like you for who you are, they're not worth it.

Respect not just the girls you like, but even the ones you don't. Because every single one of them is somebody's daughter.

Don't date a girl to impress your friends. Date a girl who impresses you.

Girls will hurt you. It's a fact. But you will survive the hurt.

When they tell you they want to talk, don't roll your eyes.

Oh yeah, one more thing, you're not allowed to date anyone until you're 21.

Love you,


Monday, October 3, 2011

A Date With A Mumbler

My first date back in the single game was quite interesting.

Sure, it wasn't the Hickey Girl, or Tongue Ring Girl, but it was definitely not what I was hoping for.

Christy and I had been texting and emailing for about a week, and I decided I should probably talk to her on the phone before we meet.

When I called her, I could hardly understand anything she was saying.

I had been having trouble with my droid in the past few weeks, so I thought maybe it was just my stupid smartphone. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. WRONG!

On our date, as we sat down at the restaurant and started looking at the menu, I realized something.

First off, the picture she sent me recently saying it was two weeks old was more likely two years old. She looked nothing like her pic. (Ladies, seriously you do yourself no favor by using these tactics).

Secondly, my smartphone was just fine.
She was not.

"I mumble mumble mumble hockey mumble mumble mumble LOVE mumble mumble."

As she repeated her answer, she put her hand in front of her face. Because THAT always helps when you're articulating and enunciating!

"I mumble mumble mumble hockey mumble mumble mumble LOVE mumble mumble."

Ok, so she's loves hockey I think.

As our appetizer came, she dove into them like she hadn't had a meal in months. I was afraid to put my hand near the plate for fear that it might get bit.

"Mumble mumble LOVE mumble mumble these mumble."

Ok, I think she loves the appetizer.

After about 30 minutes, it got so bad I texted a close friend and requested an emergency call - say my son got hurt at football, my apartment is on fire, whatever it takes!

Luckily she ate so fast that we were done before the call could be made.

I quickly walked out to my car, and as I was saying goodbye, I finally understood something she said.
"I'd love to go out again sometime."

I just looked at her with a blank stare.

"Mumble mumble mumble bye!"