It’s Hard Out Here for a Good Lookin’ White Guy

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Last week I was working a shift as a host (that’s a male hostess for those who don’t speak restaurant lingo) and an older man walked in and brusquely asked about the wait list.  Our coordinator (a hostess) let him know that it would be 30 minutes before we could seat him and his family.  To this, the old man replied, “Your competition across the street can seat me in 25-minutes.”

Before the hostess could execute what might have been the most justified shrug in the history of apathetic shoulder movements, the old man glanced over her shoulder to find myself (a host) and a new guy that we were training (also a host, because he’s a guy, see).  “Is there anything that these guys can do to get me bumped up on the list?” he asked, obviously assuming that two males standing anywhere in proximity to a female absolutely must be her supervisors.  She gracefully returned the courteous equivalent to “Nope.”

Here’s the thing:  This hostess has been working at our restaurant for like over 3 years.  I’ve been working there for about a month.  The new guy has been working there for not at all because he’s technically still training.  I have surprisingly gotten through many situations in my life by appearing more confident than I actually am, but I was a silent bystander in this exchange so there is no way that I was projecting some kind of authoritative aura that led this geezer to believe that I was the boss.  He just saw a woman and assumed that she was a man’s underling.

My co-workers and I expressed our annoyance to each other about it after the old man walked away and that was the end of it, for me at least.

It was one of many incidences in which I’ve realized that I’ve never been discriminated against or looked down upon for my gender (I’m a man).  

I’ve never been discriminated against or looked down upon for my sexual preference (I’m straight – unlike the new guy who was also assumed to be in charge).  

I’ve never been discriminated against or looked down upon for my race (I’m white).  

The only assumption that people have made about me based on my appearance is that I would be a swell guy to share some crazy with.

Seriously, I’m a good-looking, heterosexual, white man.  If there are glass ceilings for me, I certainly haven’t found them yet!

Brantley Newton picture

My mom actually commented on this picture to let me know that she’s proud of how handsome I am…as if my appearance was actually an achievement.

The lack of discrimination in my life is something that I work hard not to take for granted.  The sheer volume of incredible bloggers on WordPress covering women’s issues and LGBT equality is so invaluable for achieving this.  Obviously reading a blog post is far from “walking a mile” in someone else’s shoes but it is certainly capable of broadening your horizons, provoking thought, and challenging perspectives and I think that these brain exercises are exactly what the world needs.

It’s hard out here for a good lookin’ white guy.  There are so many societal problems that I will never directly encounter and there’s an enormous danger that I could go my entire life overlooking them.

I challenge you, reader (s – hopefully).  I challenge you to observe how people treat each other, especially when those people don’t know anything about each other beyond appearances.

Would their interactions play out differently if you subbed out either person for a different demographic?  

Would the old man have just nodded and walked away had I been the one to inform him of the 30-minute wait?  

If he knew about my new co-worker’s sexual preference, would the old man have put up more of a fight against him?

Would I have acknowledged the old man’s sexism if he were younger?

Once you start thinking of things this way, it’s really difficult to stop.  Consideration for other people’s perspectives could go a long way towards solving most of the problems that plague the human race.

It’s hard out here for a good lookin’ white guy.  I make a conscious decision to notice when I’m not being discriminated against, otherwise, I could spend my entire life in a privileged little bubble.

 

Need Disney World Advice?

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I’m probably not going to get around to writing up another juicy post for this week.  Sorry bout that!

Instead, I figured I would take this opportunity to share with you some of the fruits of my freelancing labors.  Below are links to blog posts that I wrote for a travel agency in the UK.  As an Orlando resident and a Disney World Annual Passholder, I’m greatly anticipating the influx of theme park savvy Brits that can attribute their efficiency to my writing!

Be warned that these are a bit dry (lacking of the Brantley trademark drunken debauchery and staggeringly bad decisions).

If you found this post through the Disney World tag, let the education/debate begin!

A Beginner’s Guide to Orlando’s Theme Parks

Top 10 Theme Parks in Orlando, FL

10 Tips on How To Enjoy Disney World Like an Annual Passholder

Dear woman that found a 15 minute wait to be “unacceptable,”

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Dear woman that found a 15 minute wait to be “unacceptable,”

I was unsure of whether to laugh or frown at your overreaction.  I’m sorry that your blood sugar was low and that you had a long day, but after the way that you raided the chocolate covered mints at the host stand while you pouted, I’m certain you would have survived the next quarter hour without keeling over.

When you spat “I live locally,” you may never know the tidal wave of Brantley sarcasm that you so narrowly escaped.  “I’m sorry miss!  Why didn’t you say so!  Let’s just give the shaft to the 15,000 tourists in town for the convention, especially the ones that had the common sense to make a reservation.  I’m sure they will be completely understanding because you live in Orlando whereas they are just pesky invaders that came to spend money in our city.”

We’re a tourist economy.  If you think that anyone other than citrus farmers would be living in this muggy, landlocked chunk of Florida if not for Disney World, you are completely out of your mind.

I’m still angry that you got a table.  You acted like a child and should have been treated like one.  Throwing a tantrum over a 15-minute wait should have earned you a time out with your nose in the corner so that you could think about what you did.

In a Brantleytopian future, people like you will have to wear a scarlet letter so that all of society will know that you are rude and can treat you with the disdain, indifference, and discrimination that you deserve.

If you must be the portrait of despicable human behavior that you were yesterday, I suggest that you ask yourself, “Is the $7/hour motivation enough to keep this person I’m being rude to from head butting me?”

I couldn’t help but overhear you bragging to your business associates about how the hostess told you there was an hour wait and how you were able to force us to seat you immediately.  The man sitting across from you called us in advance to get on the waiting list and we told him 15 minutes as well, so that makes at least two people at that table who knew that you are full of it.

The most impactful thing you may ever do in your life is to piss people off, because yesterday you taught me something:

First impressions are powerful, 

but only impressions are absolute.

I hope I never see you again, but if I do, I just want you to remember that the only thing I know about you is that you are a deplorable turd of a human being.

 

Maybe you should think about the perceptions you give those that you treat with disrespect,

The Blonde Guy at the Front of the Restaurant

A Brief Explanation of Chicken Pot Pies for British People

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Followers of the blog know that I’ve recently started a new job at a fancy restaurant on the tourist-y side of Orlando.

Many of our guests are from all over the world, especially the UK and Brazil.  While customer service encounters with Brazilians could be an entire blog in and of themselves, today I want to address an issue that I’ve noticed with the British.

Last week, I overheard a friend telling a British family:  “The vegetables are inside the chicken pot pie.”  It was the only sentence that I picked out over the cacophony of the entire restaurant and it was so random that I laughed about it and shared it with some friends, who also chuckled.

Then, it happened to me.  I dropped off a chicken pot pie to a British couple and was asked:  “Weren’t there supposed to be some vegetables and mash with this?”  I politely explained:  “The vegetables and potatoes are inside the chicken pot pie.”

Now I can’t be bothered to Google the history and origins of the Chicken Pot Pie.  I can only assume that it must be an American invention.  Working with that assumption, I will try and define this dish for those unfamiliar with it:

A flaky pie crust is filled with a creamy mixture of carrots, peas, chopped potatoes, and chicken.  It’s completely sealed with more crust on top and then baked together.  It’s a pretty magical little thing the way that we serve it at my restaurant, but housewives also like to freestyle with it in more casserole-like variations.

The problem with Chicken Pot Pie Unfamiliarity is that the above stated location of the vegetables and potatoes is impossible to say without coming across at least a little bit condescending.  I know that my friend came across that way, and I did too (hopefully just minimally though).  Neither of us were trying to be snooty, it’s just an impossible sentence to say without that tone.

Obviously I don’t expect people from all over the world to memorize the construction of American dishes.  If they don’t have Chicken Pot Pie where you’re from, I’m not judging you or looking down on you for having some questions.

I mostly just wanted to apologize to anyone who felt belittled by the sentence:  “The vegetables are inside the Chicken Pot Pie.”

 

 

Strange Encounters with the Strangest Strangers

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Facebook friends will find this post a bit familiar, but I got a like or two on it so I wanted to share with the WordPress crowd.

My beautiful brindle dog has only increased my magnetic effect on quirky strangers. On a long walk, Magic and I pulled off of the bike path to let a woman in a motorized wheelchair pass. This was necessary because he is a dog and so he has absolutely no idea what to do with the fact that motorized wheelchairs exist and that people ride in them, thus making this woman appear like some sort of cyborg centaur that was stalking us on our walk. Seriously, he wouldn’t stop looking over his shoulder to track her pursuit of us.

Of course when she caught up with us, she had to stop and talk to me. According to this lady, my adopted mystery mutt Heinz 57 is “Part Pit, Part Shepherd, Part Dingo, and Part Wolf.” This diagnosis accounts for his brindle coat, large ears, and something about the color of his eyes makes him Part Dingo/Part Wolf – though he was allegedly found in Georgia Animal Control and I’m fairly certain that the dingo population in The Peach State are confined exclusively to zoos and people’s imaginations. But this woman knows her stuff because she volunteers for SPCA and was born on a reservation and has two wolves at home.

Then, she wanted me to bring my terrified best friend closer to her mechanized mount for closer inspection. I halfway tried to politely oblige, but Magic dug his heels in and I soon found myself scrambling to come up with a genial way of saying: “Dog isn’t about your Hoverround, ma’am.” Luckily, she caught Magic’s meaning and dismounted her whip to introduce herself. This only further baffled my dog, who before today has never ever in his entire life met a human being that he didn’t assume wanted to be his best friend.

At this point I was trying to wrap up the encounter, which probably didn’t do much to relax Magic. The problem was that I was cornered. If we walked away, she would resume stalking us on her Jazzy (to the dog’s tremendous dismay). She had to be the one to drive off into the sunset in order for us to conclude our walk. Magic tentatively sniffed her hand and let her pet his head for a couple seconds, which thankfully was enough for her to climb back aboard her wheels and go about her business (whatever that may be for someone driving their wheelchair on a bike path).

Why do these people always find me?”

Relationship Champion

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After mentioning to a new co-worker that my girlfriend and I have been together for 6 years, I was immediately knighted relationship champion.  6 years is just about my entire adult life (see Brantleyism #001 for my thoughts on adulthood being an 18+ condition).

It’s one of those accomplishments that make people assume that you actually know what you’re doing.  When people ask me how we’ve made it so far, I give one big goofy shrug and a Scooby-Dooesque “Idunno!”

That’s too broad of a question.  When it gets more specific, it gets more awkward too.  “You’ve been together that long and you’ve never cheated?  She’s never cheated?  You never even thought about it?”  The tone that people use with these questions make it sound like there’s something wrong with the answer, “no.”  It comes out like:  “You mean you’ve never even considered potty training?”  “You’re telling me that neither of you take showers ever?”  

It really makes me think, though.  Not about cheating, but about the absolute absence of any interest in that.  There’s no place I’d rather be than with my girlfriend.  Why would cheating ever even cross my mind?

Being perceived as some sort of relationship Saskwatch sighting is nothing compared to the weirdness of situations when I’m treated like a sage.  Here’s something that most of my readers would probably guess about me:  I have absolutely no idea how to give relationship advice.

The problem is that my girlfriend is perfect.  Being in love with her is as easy as breathing.  Actually with the amount of pollen in Florida this time of year, being in love with her is easier than breathing.

She makes me want to be my best self, and she knows exactly how to tell me when I’m not living up to the person I want to be (and in a way that cuts through my impenetrable stubbornness).  It’s hard to explain, but it’s everything I’ve ever needed.

We never run out of things to talk about because we share interest in some “evergreen topics” like movies, politics, and nature.  There’s a whole big interesting world out there and neither of us can get enough of it.

Best of all, however, is our love of stories and conversations when we discuss fiction as if it’s real.  Recently, we wondered where J.K. Rowling’s Wizards and Witches were during World War 2.  Rick Riordan mentioned the role of his demi-gods in the major wars of history.  There’s no way Jo hasn’t considered these things, she just hasn’t told us her answer.  (Seriously though:  Is the privacy of a small portion of the population more important than the lives of the millions of Jews that were being rounded up and slaughtered in concentration camps during World War 2?  Wouldn’t a societal decision by the Wizarding community to do nothing to stop the Holocaust color the very psychology of their culture?).

Also part of that conversation is the notion the epic veracity of the old saying “knowledge is power” in the Wizarding World.  Why would anyone study a minute less than Hermione if it meant being able to do incredible things?  Of course, my girlfriend cited mentions of inherent talent and power in certain wizards that determines the range of their potential for magic.

Sorry.  What was I blogging about again?

In short, our relationship is great because we work together.  We are similar in all of the right ways, but dissimilar enough to prevent ourselves from becoming one with the couch in a mutual comfort zone.  We strengthen each other, nurture each other, challenge each other.

She’s perfect, so I’ve got it easy.  She’s the one with the hard part.  I’m very, very far from perfect!

Regardless, our relationship certainly impressed this co-worker.  She wanted to know how after 6 years we still aren’t bored with each other; how we didn’t “go through a rough patch” after so much time together.  It all led to that inevitable moment when I’m placed on a relationship pedestal, and find myself speechless, dizzy and disoriented from the heights.

Luckily, I was saved in this particular situation.  Conversations like these at work are frequently interrupted and rarely carried through to their conclusion.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it though.  Every time I’ve ever been asked for relationship advice I feel like a deer in the headlights.  I don’t know what to tell people who are in trouble with their boyfriend or girlfriend.  If you don’t want to be with someone, don’t be with them.  Life is too short to spend with the wrong person.  As for me, there hasn’t been a single second since I first kissed my girlfriend on August 26th, 2008 that I haven’t wanted to be with her.  For all of my endless imagination, I can’t even begin to understand what it would be like to consider giving up on what we have.

Like I said, the conversation wasn’t ever finished, but I did come up with a few tips on how to be relationship champions:

  1. Don’t ever take each other for granted.  My girlfriend and I have something that people search their entire lives for and some never find.  Remembering that puts everything else into perspective.  There isn’t a single argument or disagreement that we could possibly have that would be worth throwing it all away.  When someone loves you, they will put up with you at your worst.  When you love them back, you know that they deserve nothing short of your very best.
  2. Don’t go to bed angry.  Fighting sucks, but it’s as temporary as you make it.  It’s better to be happy than right, especially because being right counts for so little in most arguments.  When it comes to relationships:  fixing things, apologizing, making up for your mistakes should be your top priority in life.  Arguments are no fun, but they happen.  Bury the hatchet as soon as you can and get back to loving each other.
  3. Finally, the most lame advice I can give people is this:  Have a little bit more money than you need. It’s not romantic at all, I know, but I can’t tell you how many fewer disagreements my girlfriend and I have now that we can pay our bills and go out for dinner and drinks every once in a while.  Being broke is an all-consuming stress that can poison your health, your mind, and your relationship.  It warps your sense of reality and your priorities, which is extremely dangerous when it comes to the most important people in your life.

It’s not much wisdom to impart and it’s probably not all that impressive, but that’s my answer.  That’s how we’ve made it so far, through so much and are still happy with each other.

Next time I suddenly find myself on the relationship pedestal and am completely flabbergasted, I won’t even try to speak.  I’ll just pull up this post, show it to the supplicant and scram before they can ask anymore broad, confusing questions!

Ice Cream Houses and Batmobiles

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As I’ve mentioned before, I recently started a new job at a fancy pants restaurant in the tourist-y area of Orlando.  It’s my first restaurant job and I’m basically learning everything by doing everything.  I’m a host/food runner/serving trainee.

If the volume of learning wasn’t daunting enough, I’m now faced with a brand new cast of characters in the co-worker department.  Most (read “all”) don’t yet understand my strangeness.

Exhibit A:  Part of training to be a server involved trying the food that the restaurant serves.  That way, you can describe and recommend dishes to the guests.

Well, the 4 or 5 other trainees and I had just tried the “Chocolate Uprising.”  That’s two cinnamon chocolate brownies forming a sandwich around some vanilla bean ice cream.  The whole damn thing is topped with dark chocolate walnut fudge and served over a bed of caramel and chocolate sauce.  I know what you’re thinking…yes, there is a dinosaur-sized dollop of whipped cream on top.  Oh and don’t forget the shaved chocolate garnish.

My review:  “I want to build my house out of this.”

My peer’s reviews:  “Wait, what the hell did that guy just say?”

Readers, I’m not sure if you’ve ever found yourselves surrounded by people who think that building a house out of ice cream is a ridiculous idea or not.  It’s not something I would wish on my worst enemies.

“It would melt.”

“We live in Florida.”

“That would be a sticky mess.”

For starters, who in their right mind would build an entire house out of ice cream in Florida?  Construction would begin somewhere freezer-like, duh.  Think Alaska, or Siberia, or something.

Then there’s the explicit temporality of a house made of ice cream.  It’s not a real estate investment.  You don’t take out a 30 year mortgage on an ice cream house.  You eat that SOB.  Not all in one day (well, hopefully not), just over a couple of months or something.  Invite friends.  Ice Cream House Party at my place this Sundae.  BYO Whipped Cream.

I suppose it’s a miracle I’ve made it this long without ending up in some witch’s oven or something.

There are moments that I’ve shared with people that “get me” that really stand out when I find myself surrounded by “realistic” people.  My closest friends not only understand exactly what I mean when I say something this ridiculous, but they go along with it and encourage it.  As I shut up and simmered in my uncomfortable skin under the weight of their judging stares, I could only appreciate the people in my life that not only reserve judgement of my lunacy, but actually love it.

Here’s what one of them would have said:

“What would the frame of the ice cream house be made out of?”

To which I would have responded:  “Probably something sturdy and capable of holding up ice cream, like waffle cone.”

It could have gotten even better from there, but not with the lot at this table.

Exhibit B:  A conversation about people building houses out of strange things (freight containers, 747s, and dumpsters to be more specific) soon evolved into anecdotes of eccentric rich people.

Me:  “Forget the strange houses, if I was rich, I would just be Batman.  End of story.”

Silence.  Strange looks.

As if every right-minded person on the planet hasn’t wanted a Batmobile at some point in their life.  I don’t know if I’m getting too old to say such awesome things or what the deal is, but these people need to get on my level.

Note:  Things have improved dramatically after these first gaffes.  I think I just opened up a can of crazy at a somewhat inappropriate time.  I can’t help it.  I think it would be awesome to live in a house made of ice cream and I don’t care who knows it.

 

 

Letters to the People of I-Drive: How to Buy a Tube of Lube

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I was recently hired to work at a fancy pants restaurant on International Drive, the most touristy of tourist places in Orlando (just short of Disney Planet and Universal Studios, of course).  With such diverse crowds coming into our city from all over, spending lots of their money, and then continuing on their merry way, this side of town is ripe for bizarre encounters.  People on vacation like to “let loose.”  Some people should absolutely never, ever, under any circumstances “let loose.”

Below is the first of (potentially) many letters to some of the many visitors that come to Orlando to let their freak flags fly:

Dear Gentleman Thoroughly Browsing the Personal Lubricants in Walgreens,

Your bedroom pragmatism is only surpassed by your total lack of interest in the opinions of others around you.  For that, I envy you.  Thank you for resting your glasses on your forehead and bringing the box to within an inch of your face to read the fine print.  I shudder to think of the words that those tiny letters spell, but you are brave in the face of unabridged (and probably horrific) side effects and disclaimers.  
Sincerely,
The Guy in All Black

 

Pressing Pause

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I owe an apology to the handful of my followers that like and comment on each and every post that I publish.  I know that I’m in the middle of telling a story, but I’ve gotta take a break.

These blog posts are about things that happened to me about seven years ago.  I was working my way towards the present slowly, because it’s hard to make an entertaining story out of wounds that are still too raw.

The gist is this:  I left my first post-college job, which I thought was going to be a really solid foundation to my career.  It wasn’t.  I ended up delivering pizzas for a year.  Now, I’m training to wait tables at a fancy pants restaurant and I’ve never been less certain about what to do with my life.

For right now, I feel like I need to get out of Orlando.  I’ve scoured this area for opportunities and have come up empty handed.  My girlfriend and I want to move to New York City.  All of the woes and heartbreak of trying to find a job down here are evidently non-existent in NYC.  Yes, I know that it isn’t easy to get an interview.  Yes, I know you need to know someone to even get your resume looked at.  I’ve heard it time and again.  It doesn’t scare me.  I welcome the challenge.

I recently fell into a nice-paying freelance writing gig.  I’m hooked.  I want more.  I want a pile of clients that pay me enough money that I can quit or at least scale back all of these other jobs that eat so much of my time.

That’s the plan:  Become geographically independent through freelancing, and then uproot and move to the big city.

There’s just one problem:  I totally don’t have time to look that far forward in my life.  Between the new job, an old job that I’m keeping just as an insurance policy, my WIP that collects dust for entire weeks at a time, this freelance opportunity that I don’t want to botch, planning for my future, this blog, and the rest of my life in general, I’m just not doing anything more than halfway these days.

I’ve spread myself too thin and The Brantley Blog has become a chore that I muck my way through so that I can cross it off the to do list.  Seriously – did you read those last two posts?  Did you notice that I haven’t bothered with a “Brantleyism” in like a month?  I just don’t want to do this halfway and I don’t want it to feel like work.  It was tremendously enjoyable once and I’m sure that it can be tremendously enjoyable again someday (hopefully really soon).

In the meantime, I’m going to try and finish this damn book of mine and establish one of those “careers” that grown ups are always talking about.

I’ll be back once I’ve got my head straight.

 

The Greatest First Date Ever

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Somehow or other, I managed to bounce back from the catastrophe of The Last Girl I Ever Led On relatively quickly.  And by “bouce back,” I mean “found another girl.”

Before I get into all of that, however, I have to explain my headspace after Spring Semester ended that first year of college.  I had overcome a lot of my own faults and had managed to finally make some really close friends.  This triumph was tempered by several romantic failures.

Somehow, my failures in the girl department accompanied by my victories in the friend department made me feel like a good guy that no one was giving a chance.  In short, I felt mopey and “unlovable.”  This was exacerbated by the departure of the vast majority of the on-campus population for the first half of the Summer semester.  It was a lot of time alone in my own head.

I felt like I was probably a catch and I wanted girls to notice how much of a keeper I was, so naturally I decided to develop flashy skills to impress them.  Why couldn’t I meet a nice girl?  Because I didn’t know how to give proper massages, I reasoned.  Why weren’t the pretty ladies that I was so kind to interested in more than friendship?  Because I wasn’t yet a master chef, of course.

Summer-long projects that began immediately after I said farewell to my friends included:  learning to cook, and teaching myself the basics of massage therapy.  I read an entire freaking textbook on massage and learned legitimate techniques and terminology.  Then, I christened my new Resident Assistant apartment with some cheap kitchen equipment and started trying to recreate the meals that my mom raised me on (which of course she had no recipes for because she memorized the directions and eyeballed all of the measurements).  These new skills would undoubtedly make me a lovable dude.

That’s when I met Meryl (not her real name, of course).  She was a friend of my friend Wendy (who was part of my doomed group of friends).  Both girls lived in Orlando, but Meryl went to school in Tampa (an hour south of Orlando).

After hanging out with Wendy, Meryl, and another girl one night, I got some phone numbers.  These would come in handy once Wendy left for a Summer-long internship elsewhere.

I decided to test out my cooking progress by inviting Meryl and the other girl over for dinner one night.  It wasn’t a date (though that would have been cool because it was two girls).  We ate dinner, made dessert, and watched a movie.  Other girl dozed off and eventually ended up sleeping in my bed (this was a studio apartment).

Meryl and I stayed up until like 6 AM talking while I massaged her.  There was no booze, or sexy time hullabaloo involved, just pure conversation.  Meryl seemed like an interesting girl and she was fun to look at, so that didn’t hurt either.  Eventually they departed that next morning and I was all gooey and infatuated.

The next weekend, I went home to Alabama to see my family before the full swing of all things Resident Assistant began that semester.  At one point during that trip, my grandmother randomly gave me a $100 bill for absolutely no damn reason whatsoever.  I was so excited about it that I forgot to ask my mom if my grandmother was sick or gonna die or something.  That’s how random this $100 bill was.  Mom confirmed that everything was cool, and to this day my grandmother’s rationale for giving me that money is a mystery.

That’s not really what this story is about, though.  With that Big Face Ben Franklin hot in my pocket, I decided to ramp up my courtship of Meryl.  I was gonna drop that whole bill on one magical night to impress this pretty girl.  Then she would HAVE to admit that I’m not “unlovable” (my word, not anything she ever said).

I began doing my research, finding out her favorite foods and flowers from Wendy and asking my guy friends for recommendations on where to take her.  I was lucky enough that she agreed to let me take her on a date to begin with, so I knew that I had to really do it right so that maybe I could get a second date out of it.

For starters, I spent a solid chunk of my first paycheck as an RA to get my car washed and detailed.  I went all out and did it big.  Somehow it cost me $80, which is madness, but I was younger then and probably got hustled.

Now, let me lay out for you how the date proceeded:

I arrived at Meryl’s mom’s house dressed as well as I did back then (probably like khakis and a short-sleeved button down).  As Meryl answered the door looking way better than I did, she was greeted by a big, beautiful Sunflower (her favorite).  Looking back on it, I wish she had a different favorite flower.  Sunflowers tend to come in pots of dirt (because they are big and ridiculous so they make for strange bouquets).  She smiled, thanked me, took the enormous-flower-and-dirt-bucket-combo and put that sucker inside so that we could continue on our merry way.

We had early dinner reservations because those were all that were available at the California Grill atop Disney World’s Contemporary Resort.  This place was NICE.  Had I been able to make my reservations for later at night, we could have watched Magic Kingdom’s closing fireworks show as we dined on fancy food.  Instead, we just enjoyed the awesome cuisine and atmosphere and I picked up the enormous check.  If we had been over 21 at the time, I would probably still be paying off that bill today, but since we couldn’t order booze it wasn’t all that bad.  This restaurant was recommended to me by my best friend, Bobby (shout out).

After dinner, we went to her favorite ice cream place.  I think it was called “Twisty Treat.”  I don’t really remember.  It’s the chain that has buildings shaped like giant ice cream cones.  You can’t miss it.

Once we finished our ice cream, I drove her out to Shaq’s neighborhood and we hung out on a playground in an enormous neighborhood of McMansions.  It wasn’t technically a “fancy” thing to do, but I thought it was neat and she humored me.

Now, you may not think that this sounds all that extravagant.  I have to remind you that I was 19.  I’m not a terribly “together” person when it comes to things like this.  I’m more the type of guy that sometimes forgets to put on pants.  This was a big freaking deal for me, and Meryl seemed to notice and appreciate that every step of the way.

Until I went to drop her off.

I walked her to her door, she told me that she had a great time.  I leaned in for a kiss and she dodged me, mumbling something of an apology as she countered with an awkward hug and then went the hell in her house and shut the door.

I was totally confused.  I really thought that I was doing well the whole night.  Meryl was a semi-religious girl, so I figured maybe she doesn’t kiss on first dates.  Maybe she likes to take things slow.  Like really slow.  Really, really, really slow.

I was probably misogynist for thinking this way, but I really felt like I earned a kiss after that date.  She didn’t even have to like me or ever go out with me again.  I just needed that kiss first, then she could feel free to bring on the rejection.

I called her a couple times after that, and she never responded again.  Wendy told me to give her space.  Whatever happened after that was never really explained to me.  We just never talked again. She had probably forgotten about me by the time that flower wilted, a symbol of our date – big, extravagant and impractical but destined to wither into nothing, leaving only a plain old pot of dirt.

It certainly didn’t chase away that feeling of being “unlovable!”  I mean this was the best game that I had to offer at the time and it STILL wasn’t good enough.  To this day, I still have her Elephant Man and It’s a Wonderful Life DVDs for some reason.  Those are some decent films, but I’d be willing to give them back should she ever come around with an explanation for why I didn’t get a kiss after that $100 date.

On a side note, I was experiencing technical difficulties with my phone during this short courtship.  It was a Motorola Razor.  You know, the ones that are only seconds away from breaking irreparably the moment you take them out of the package.  The hardware problems really forced me into some strange situations creatively.  You see, the 2 key didn’t work and these were the olden days of texting.  You texted by pushing 2 once for “a,” twice for “b,” three times for “c” and so on and so forth with the other keys and other letters.

Try texting someone without using the letters A-C.  It gets weird.  Quick.  One time I wanted to ask her if she wanted me to come over and give her a massage.  I did my best without those letters, ending up with:  “Rub you in your house?” – only that didn’t work either because of the “b” in “rub.”  Instead I opted to called her – but had I actually sent that text, I would at least know why she stopped talking to me!