Two years ago, a woman asked me to build her a web site, costing some 50 hours of my time. When I went to show her, I learned she'd asked someone else to build her a site. She spent 15 seconds looking at mine, then directed me to coordinate efforts with the other guy. I walked out and never saw her again.

Until last night.

"John?" said a woman getting out of a parked car.

"Bitch?" I replied in my imagination, right now.

She hugged me and we briefly chatted. I told her that I live here now. She asked where, and I explained that I'm living in a hotel while I look for a house. This excited her.

"Did you know I'm a realtor now?!"

I went to sleep with dreams of her showing me home after home after home, then not getting a commission. I think about 50 hours' worth will do.


  • Posted on
  • by

Sorry for my absence lately. Lots o'girl crap going on, and it's going as badly for your narrator as usual. Our drama is dominating my life of late, and I just can't think of anything else to write about.

Oh wait! Remember the days when you'd be taking an elevator down, and then a guy would get on on 7 and press the button for 6, and he would at least have the courtesy to fake a limp?


My friend Mike was around 10 years ago, when I last went to Portland with a girl, watched things explode, and never saw her again. "It's my new metaphor," he said. "Usage: I thought things were going well, but then the relationship just went to Portland in a hurry."

like a booger on my finger

  • Posted on
  • by

A few hours after writing yesterday's Ingrid post, I was having dinner alone in a favorite restaurant, not hers. "Would you like a drink with that?" asked the bartender.

"He's gonna need 12," said Ingrid, standing behind me.

I have to give her credit. She has style.

straight to portland in a handbasket

  • Posted on
  • by

On Friday, I drove to Portland with a girl in order to meet her best friend and kids. We were to stay the whole weekend. Friday night, I flew back alone.

Ingrid is a waitress, curiously never mine, and 80% of our relationship has occurred between her seatings. I was looking forward to the intensive quality time that the long car ride would afford us. As the date grew closer, however, she noticeably withdrew. She wasn't as happy to see me, and affection vanished. Reports started to appear that she was euphorically humping the leg of every guy who came into the restaurant. I was, of course, deflated.

Last week, her girlfriend and I and went out to breakfast to discuss the situation. I was inclined to just quietly wash my hands of her and disinclined to go on the Portland trip.

"No one here has met her kids or best friend," she said, making the case that I needed to go for data-collection purposes. She knows me well.

With four days to go, Ingrid told her friend that she intended to blare music the whole trip just so she didn't have to talk to me.

"That would be so rude," the friend replied.

"Fuck her. I'm out," I said upon hearing of this.

"You guys need this trip," the friend said. "You have got to sort this out."

"We're either going to come back healthy, or we're going to end," I replied.

And so we embarked on the trip. I proposed we fire questions at one another. Mine were probing, and I asked follow-ups. Hers were perfunctory, and she asked none. She couldn't even make herself listen to my answers. It eventually petered out. She blared the stereo incredibly loud for the next two hours. That, I fumed, was that. I would ask her to drop me off at the Portland airport, still two hours away.

She noticed that I was tense and turned down the music. "What's up?"

I wanted to talk about it when we were 15 minutes away, not when we were two hours away. I begged off. She was having none of it. I said "Not right now, okay?" and that really set her off. I was adding to her stress on an already horrific day, she snapped. Just spill it. So I did. I started by talking about how she'd been distant. And that would be our last moment of civility.

She adamantly disagreed that she'd been distant, then out of the other side of her mouth said that February was always a hard month for her. I let it go. I tried to concentrate on my own feelings. Basically, they kept getting hurt.

"The story of my life!" she raged. "Great. You're just another guy who's going to quit on me because his feelings keep getting hurt." You read that right. The pattern is our fault.

She railed at me for the crimes of all men until the next rest stop, where I remained in the car while she talked to a homeless guy for at least a half-hour. I picked up her phone and deleted myself from it. 90 minutes to go.

She got back into the car and blared music once more. That was fine with me, but an hour out she turned it down. The argument resumed. "Just drop me off at the airport," I sighed.

She refused. She would refuse two more requests. We picked up her kids and checked into separate rooms in the hotel. I had done a little work when they knocked on my door. "You coming to dinner?" she snapped. I said I didn't think it was a good idea. "Just come," she said, and for some reason I did.

In the parking lot we met Brandon, her best friend of many years. He did not know I was coming, so he looked at me quizzically. "This is John," she said. There was still no recognition. "He's the guy who bought me the Taser," she said, and then he vaguely remembered my existence.

Not for nothing, but if Ingrid and I surprised Allie by knocking on her door, Allie's first words would be "Oh, hi Ingrid! Nice to finally meet you!"

Dinner was atrocious, with Ingrid criticizing my quietness and lack of appetite throughout. Brandon and I attempted conversation, but her palpable rage made everyone uncomfortable. As we left the booth, he and I lagged. "I'm sorry, man," I said. "I shouldn't have come. I didn't mean to ruin your time together."

"It's all right," he said, and then Ingrid yelled across the room, demanding to know what we were talking about. I told her. It pissed her off. On the way back to the hotel I was criticized for looking out the window. For texting Mariko. For picking up bags. For dropping them. On the elevator, her eight year old daughter stood rigid, eyes welling. "What's bothering you?!" snapped her mother, scaring the child more. I ducked into my room without comment, sadly waving to Brandon, who nodded.

That's when I bought a plane ticket, checked out, and Ubered to the airport. I wouldn't tell her until I was on the plane.

90 minutes later I got a text from her girlfriend, saying Ingrid was trying to find me. I told her where I was, and she asked if I was okay. I noted how unusual that felt. That was the first time all day anyone had expressed the slightest concern for my feelings.

Deleting my phone number having been proven ineffective, I texted Ingrid that I was flying home and needed space. "I think everyone will be happier for it."

She railed at my rudeness and, amazingly, demanded an explanation. 20 minutes later, my jaw would hit my seat-back tray-table.


Just how many bridges does a guy have to burn?


Last Friday with Mandy was easily the drunkest I've ever been, and in my prime, I once did 26 shots of tequila. I forfeited a competition that day. Something about seeing a drunk guy and going, "Man. That guy is fucked up!" and then realizing it was my reflection compelled me to wave the white flag and induce something. But at least I remember everything about that evening, including my criticizing Dorkass' driving of my Jeep on the way home. Not so last Friday. Mandy's freakout was pretty much my last recollection. I woke up in my bed and assumed she drove me home.

"I can't believe I let you drive," I said to her a few days later.

"I can't believe I let you walk home," she replied. Well. At least that explains the bruise on my arm.

Last night, I returned to the dive bar in question. "You walked out on us Saturday!" the bartender crowed loudly, with obvious delight at embarrassing me. Good lord, and I thought Sober John is an idiot. I texted Mandy that we stiffed them. She was mortified. I apologized to the bartender and tipped her heavily. "It must have been Friday, though."

"It was the night you were here all flirty with that girl."

"Oh come on. We had a table between us."

"You started up there," she said pointing to the Place of My Last Memory. "But then you came down here to the bar and you were really flirty."

"How bad?"

"Well, you made out a bit."


"That too, I assume."

I texted Mandy: It got worse.

What? What else happened?!

Thank god, a free pass. I'm letting that sleeping dog lie. And next time, her boyfriend is coming. Hopefully I can keep my tongue out of his mouth.

valentine cluster

  • Posted on
  • by

One of the sweeter people in my life is a bartender, Mandy. Half my age, she is as yet untrodden by life's cleats. For example, when we shared our scars over drinks, she led with her parents not letting her wear makeup in the eighth grade. She was so teased by the other girls! I pretended to empathize while I discreetly texted my mocking to Allie. "She is a Disney character without the fur."

When Mandy's boyfriend sent her flowers for her birthday, I groused that I'd spent $64 million on flowers in my lifetime and never received so much as a carnation back. On Valentine's Day, there was an arrangement waiting for me at my barstool. "I'll always be first, now," she smiled.

"Um, Elan sent you flowers, you ingrate" observed Allie. Shut up, Allie.

Friday night when Mandy's shift was over, she joined me for a drink. We talked about our respective love lives. We talked about how Mandy wants to have babies more than any other life goal. We discovered we like the same dive bar, so we headed over there.

Many, many drinks later, Mandy freaked out. "I JUST CAN'T DO THIS, JOHN!" She kept repeating that. And she kept repeating that she loves her boyfriend. She was very upset. She pleaded for my assurance that I was okay with just being friends. Oh. Seriously?

Uh, considering that's where I already was? "Not a problem."

As I laid in bed that night, I mentally replayed romantic entanglements in my life and marveled at how I nearly never know a woman sees me that way until she comes out and says so. (Or as I told Allie, I am always shocked when someone wants to sleep with me.) I flat-out didn't see Mandy coming, despite the flowers. Perhaps I am particularly dense. As the candy hearts say, all signs point to yes.

marketing twinkies

  • Posted on
  • by

From almost the first day of my career, talking to corporate marketers has made me long for the sweet release of death. The worst was a man named BJ at Microsoft, with whom I battled on multiple and impossibly unrelated products over a decade. When we crossed paths a fourth time, we both heaved an audible sigh. "Oh, so you've met," his boss said.

My current boss, Sal, and I just met with some marketing twinkies. Clearly, it was not my idea. They kinda explained what they wanted, and I explained what was possible and legal, and they did not understand. I took another run at it. They did not understand. Sal tried to explain. Nope. If anything, they were getting stupider. The marketing boss said something vomitously dumb, followed by "But that's why I have smart people working for me. To figure stuff like this out."

"Who are these people?" I asked. "And can we get them on this call?"

• • •

Sal has a great pained, breathy, exasperated "John..." in his repertoire. It sounds very much like an exasperated girlfriend or mother. I really need to record it. This was such an occasion.

the left armpit problem

  • Posted on
  • by

In anticipation of surgery, I've been practicing one-armedness. The good news is that I can drink left-handed. Everything else is bad news, especially hygiene. Shaving my head left-handed was a debacle I shan't soon forget. I am now the Morgan Freeman of scabs.

Is it poor form to start dating just so I have someone who has to wash me?