Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Oompah Loompahs

Great time at salsa last night, the class flew by and there were TWICE as many men as women - how is that for a Manhattan novelty? Alan, an ex, always like to claim there were seven single women to every single man in Manhattan – wishful thinking on his part I think, but sometimes it certainly feels true. There's very little Sex & The City going on at my apartment I'll tell you that for nothing. Apparently the ratio is supposedly more like 81 single men to every 100 single women, which sounds a bit too optimistic to me, so I’m betting it doesn’t take the gay ones into account - sexual preference probably isn't a question on the census. You only have to take a look around the city's restaurants where women dine in packs alongside couples to feel that straight single men are a rare commodity in this town, so I am absolutely thrilled by the odds in salsa.

Who'd have thought that men were so into partner dancing? Must be all the hip wiggling the women do that attracts them - and the fact that they lead so they get to boss women around on the dance floor. Have to say it’s hard to let you self be led, especially when a guy gets the lead a bit wrong. I'm a bit resistant to it, in a "don't push me around, I'm independent" kind of way.

Still haven’t managed to brave going out to clubs just yet, but have upped the ante to 3 classes a week and loving it. I am meeting lots of new people which is all to the good, because quite frankly my friends have ditched me as far as the dancing is concerned, despite initial enthusiasm for classes, but who needs them when I have the lovely Salsa Beppe to take me dancing. He asked yesterday if I'd be interested in going to a social with him sometime. Swoon. I played it cool and casually said 'sure' and gave him my business card so he could email me, but internally I was thinking 'Absolutely Beppe. Ab-so-f**king lutely'. I suppose I really should make an effort to find out his real name. I was so thrilled he suggested we go dancing sometime that I completely forgot to ask.

I only wish I was enjoying the attention from the men on the healthy singles dating site half as much as the salsa boys. Honestly I don’t think there’s a normal one among them. I don’t understand it, when I had my pre sign up perusal of the site the men looked normal enough, but for some reason the ones that have been winking and emailing me have a fondness for posting photographs of themselves holding body building poses, while wearing just a pair of teensy black briefs to cover their modesty. Gag!!

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING???? Could it be because men would probably like to see pics of women wearing nothing more than a bikini on dating sites, that they assume women like the same types of pics of men? Some of the photos leave very little to the imagination. Poor deluded boys. I would be interested to know how many requests for dates they've had since I couldn't even bring myself to go for a coffee with a guy who thinks posing in his pants – in the British sense - is a good look. Many of them also appear to have a serious fake tan abuse problem and have skin with such a severe orange hue it looks as if they’re suffering with a serious beta-carotene imbalance. Ash has nicknamed them the Oompah Loompahs.

I got a note from a guy today and almost snorted my tuna salad up my nose when I read this snippet from his profile.

"I adore muscles on women, they turn me on. I also love to be lifted and carried by a strong woman. People have told me that makes me submissive, but that's it. Extra points for body builders, martial artists, and erotic wrestling. NY/NJ/CT preferred. Must be D & D free, and adventurous."

I don't think he caught the bit where I listed myself as 5ft 1 and 110lbs. Can you imagine my trying to carrying him around, he's only 5ft 8, but still.....

At least he’s honest I suppose. Better to know that now than discover it later. Miles on the other hand thinks I should go on at least one date, because ‘surely there must be at least one decent bloke’, but I don’t think so. I'll hedge my bets with the salsa boys I think.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Bah Humbug

Thank f*** for that, Valentines is finally over, all I need to happen now is for the resulting cloud of depression to lift and I shall be right as rain. Unbelieveably, and for the first time in living memory, I actually had a dinner date on the dreaded day. Well, okay, it was only a date if going out with my GBF counts.

Miles was in town from London last week and was insistent on “experiencing Valentines as part of a straight couple,” so I booked us a table for two at the Klee Brasserie for 8.30pm with plans to stop by Employees Only for a few pre-dinner cocktails to numb the Valentines inflicted pain.

Our pretense at straight coupledom was almost complete when we nearly had a pre Valentines tiff at brunch the Sunday before because he invited the 2 other women at brunch to join us on our romantic evening a deux. What was he thinking???? Our V day dinner date may well have been a total sham, but no-one else at the restaurant was to know. Turning up with 2 other floosies would have completely given the game away. Honestly, three women, the man is insatiable.

Have to say that in hindsight it probably would have been nice to have been out with a crowd. It wasn’t quite the cheesy, fun, ironic dinner with my GBF I’d hoped for, which is not to say that the food wasn’t delicious (hats off to Klee Brasserie for a lovely dinner with fabulous service) and that the company wasn’t divine. It was, but as usual I couldn’t help but be sucked into the Valentines vortex of the despairing single. Sigh. All the joy of being footloose and fancy free was drained from me as soon as I was handed the pink hued prix fixe menu (barf) and I found myself missing Gobshite terribly. I couldn't believe it, it’s been a whole 6months since we broke up and I thought I was wayyyy past missing him. It was v v annoying to feel so despondent, especially as I’d been feeling so much more like my happily single self and had more or less nipped any residual wallowing in self pity in the bud.

Pah, Valentines schmalentines, I hate the way it always makes me feel so bad about my spinster status!!! Next year I vow to stay in and watch CSI. In fact I am going to write a note to the producers suggesting a story line for Valentines '08 where a formerly devoted fiancé chokes his bride to be with decorative Valentines beads, because that will make me feel a WHOLE lot better about being single. And to think I missed a salsa class for that too.

Fortunately it’s all over for another year and the shops have been quickly swept of nasty heart shaped chocs and replaced with the much less judgmental Marshmallow Peeps. I am feeling much lower levels of emotional upheaval about popping into Duane Reade now that the shelves are readied for Easter.

Valentines aside it was lovely to have Miles in town, even if he did accuse me of being schizophrenic about nudity, simply because I balked at the Gap Ad of yoga posing Christy Turlington with her tits practically hanging out of a red vest top, but had no qualms about stripping down to a paper thong for my body scrub at the spa last Friday. The cheek of the man.

Can I help it if I happen to feel you should leave something to the imagination when you’re in company/on a public billboard, that there is a time and a place for getting your baps out? It's not even that I’m offended by the Gap Ad, but neither does it make me think “oh that Christy, she’s such an earth mother. I really must pop into Gap and buy a red top to help those affected by AIDS in Africa.” No, instead I think ”Christy love, your nips are showing in that top, why don’t you run off and pop on a bra and get yourself some support, otherwise the girls will be down to your knees by the time you’re 40.”

Anyway Miles is one to talk about me being schizophrenic. He was practically flashing people in the communal waiting area of the spa we were at on Friday in his very loosely tied robe – mine was firmly cinched – but as soon as he was in the privacy of his own treatment room it was apparently on with the strategically placed modesty towel.

Schizophrenic? Me? Err, hello pot, it’s the kettle calling.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Floating on a Vicodin cloud

Phew, having my wisdom teeth out wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I was expecting. It only took the oral surgeon about 15minutes to whip them out and thanks to the Novocain it was wonderfully pain free. He prescribed a week worth of antibiotics and painkillers, advising me to pick up the prescription immediately and take the first dose before the Novocain wore off. That had me a bit worried about exactly how much pain I would be in, but I’m happy to say it’s been a breeze, not a sniff of any swelling and the medication is DIVINE!!!! I'm a bit 'my-body-is-a-temple' about drugs and what not - well, except for wine and $12 cocktails - but I'm all for enjoying the benefits of legitimately prescribed medication every once in while. I floated on a Vicodin cloud for the best part of four days this week and enjoyed every moment of it. I’ve never slept so well in my life. I have a newfound understanding for all those celebs and their addictions to painkillers.

Eating wise it’s also been easier than I expected, a mere 6 hours after leaving the surgery I managed to suck down some baked beans and scrambled egg that I’d mashed together. Clearly the mark of a culinary genius at work, Joel Robuchon must be quaking in his boots. Ha ha. Disgusting as it sounds I had to get something in my stomach as the antibiotics were making me a bit queasy. Happily the cupboards were stocked with comfort foods from last weekend’s trip to Myers of Keswick, the English grocery in the West Village.

I love Myers of Keswick, but it’s an odd shop, decor-wise it's like going back in time, but with prices from the future. You could get five tins in Asda for what they charge ($2.99 for a tin of Heinz tomato soup), but as far as I know it’s the only place in New York where I can buy Tizer, Walnut Whips and pickled onion Monster Munch, so I’m willing to cough up the dosh for those special occasions when only a tangy corn snack in the shape of a monster's paw will do.

Sadly I had to leave the Monster Munch on the shelf this time; probably not the best food choice post oral surgery. Instead I restricted myself to purchases of easily suck-able food; baked beans, Heinz tomato soup, ambrosia rice pudding and Devonshire custard. Mmm mmm mmmmmmmmmm!!!!

I was quite productive in my recuperation and posted a profile on an online dating site aimed at health conscious singles which I'd read about in Shape magazine. I'm not usually one for online dating; too much frog kissing before you meet your prince and really, who can be bothered? It also gets a bit disheartening after a while to keep putting yourself out there without much luck. I think people can be too picky online, plus it never feels good to know the person you're seeing probably has a whole harem of internet dates, but with Valentine's day looming I've been feeling the pressure of being single, a feeling not at all alleviated by last week's "Why You're Single" Time Out cover. Cheeky f****rs!!!

Still, nothing ventured nothing gained I suppose and I like the idea of meeting someone similarly health conscious, although initially I was a bit leery of the site being full of body builder types, but I checked it out before signing on and the men looked normal enough, so here goes. Unfortunately I made the mistake of telling Miles who has taken it upon himself to set me a goal of dating “at least one internet man a fortnight.”

Miles was my manager in London before I moved to New York and, at times, clearly thinks he is still in charge of me. Love him to bits, but he can be a little over zealous with setting targets for friends. Last year he reduced one to tears by making her complete a diary of her alcohol and cigarette consumption out of concern for her health. Good thing I live 3,000 miles away and he’s unable to berate me for any potential dating disobedience in person, well, except for the fact that he is over to visit in a few days.

I also started a new salsa class this week with a different instructor, a female this time. I thought the change of perspective would do me good. I’m in desperate need the practice since moving to the advanced beginner class with my other instructor has been more of a leap than I expected. Most of my new classmates are at level 3 and only take the level 2 class for extra practice. I'm feeling a bit out of my league, so taking another class to polish up on the basics couldn't hurt.

I enjoyed the new class a lot. It moves faster than my other class, although she is less of a stickler for how well you do the steps, so I think his class will make me a better dancer, but I had a lot of fun and was walking on air when I left the studio. I like the fact that the students are closer to my own age, late twenties/early thirties-ish, about 20years younger than my other classmates. There are probably twice as many people in the class too; about forty or fifty; which is not so great for personal attention from the instructor, but it might be good for getting to know a few more people to go out social dancing with. Some of the socials can be a bit intimidating for a beginner so it’s good to get to know people to go with.

I was also happy to note a sprinkling of rather attractive guys, including one cutie that’s the spit of Beppe from Eastenders, albeit a taller, leaner, Latin version. I was thrilled to rotate around to him three times. He’s a pretty good lead to say he’s only been taking classes a few weeks, holding me firmly but not too tight and not letting me spin off to the side on the turns. I was a bit off in controlling my turns this week and rarely ended up in front of my partner as I’m supposed to. I think the Vicodin had a lot to do with that. Salsa dancing and prescription painkillers are not such a good mix. Still, it was nice to have Beppe catch me and he had a very very hot bod going on underneath his conservatively attired exterior; I could feel the muscles on his arms and shoulders rippling as we danced in closed position, his biceps were so toned it was as if he was smuggling a couple of tennis balls up his shirt sleeves. Phew!! I feel a bit hot all of a sudden for some reason.

A couple of guys in class looked as if they were straight out of central casting. One was like a stereotype of a Brooklyn Italian (fuhgeddaboudit) a la John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, or Joey-Bag-of-Donuts as my Brooklyn born friend Melody likes to call them. Next to him was a swarthy Latino hunk, straight off the cover of a bodice ripper romance novel. He had mid length black wavy hair, and was dressed in a black shirt unbuttoned a little too far, chest hair on show and - I kid you not - a medallion. He was a pretty good lead and, I suppose, attractive if you like that sort of thing, but not really my type, a little too ‘Fabio’ for my taste. I definitely got the impression from the way he stared intently at me, occasionally wiggling an eyebrow, as we danced that he fancied himself as a bit of a ladies man. I half expected him to run a moisten finger over an eyebrow and growl at me Austin Powers style. It was highly amusing.

Grrrrrr baby!!!!

Friday, 2 February 2007

Isn't arse flattery the whole point?

Ugh, I had a 6monthly check up at the dentist on Friday and not only did he give me an enormous filling, but he also told me I need to have two of my wisdom teeth taken out and gave me a referral to an oral surgeon. Great, just the news I needed.
I called to make an appointment as soon as I left and cannot believe they can fit me in on Tuesday. Tuesday!!!!! That’s only a few days away. I thought I’d have more time to get used to the idea.
I suppose it’s better to get these things over and done with, but the very thought of having my wisdom teeth out makes me feel sick to my stomach, especially given the horror stories I've heard from friends. Ash had to have a general anesthetic and was in hospital for a week!!! Fifteen years later she still turns green and unusually silent at the memory, not something that puts me at my ease about my own impending extractions. I had to pop into Bloomingdales after my check up and ease the gnawing sensation in the pit of my stomach with a bit of retail therapy.

I'm looking for new jeans and had a $50 gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so popped in to see if they had any to suit me. I need new ones pronto; the ones I have are falling to bits and there’s a hole growing dangerously close to my right buttock. I’m worried that if I sit down in a hurry they’ll tear completely and I’ll be left with my arse hanging out in denim hot pants, a sight no-one needs to see. I suppose that’s only to be expected from a pair that was $15 on sale in Urban Outfitters; you get what you pay for.

Decided to see what all the fuss is about with this high priced denim every other woman in New York seems to be have been stromping around in for the past couple of years - I'm fashionably late to this trend. My working class northern roots are shocked at the prices, upwards of $139 a pop plus sales tax for the CHEAPEST pairs, $200plus for some. I’m no cheapskate, I'd spend it on a pair of shoes, but $200 for jeans???? Whatever happened to making do with a $40 pair of Levi’s? I'm so out of touch.
Unfortunately I'm in dire need, so decided that if the $139plus ones really looked that good then I’d splurge since on a cost per wear basis they’d be a relative bargain to some things I have tucked in the back of my wardrobe.

I can’t say I was overly impressed, I took four or five pairs into the changing rooms – awful bright white lighting which made me look like death warmed up, suiting my post dental mood – and gave them a whirl. Lovely and soft, but not a single pair looked good on me. They weren't so bad from the front, but from behind...complete disaster. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m on the short side (5ft 1), or whether it’s just the style, but the pockets sat way down on my arse and ended a couple of inches down my leg, making my bum look as flat as a pancake instead of nicely rounded. Sooooo not flattering. I was very disappointed to be thwarted in my attempts to cheer myself up with retail therapy. Adding insult to injury were a whole gaggle of British female tourists a couple of cubicles down also trying on overpriced jeans, and commenting to each other about how cheap they were and their plans to buy 'at least 3 pairs.' Damn them and their pesky favorable exchange rate.

This weekend I couldn't help but compare other women’s behinds in their designer jeans to see if everyone else looked good in them and it was just my arse making them look bad. They didn’t. Seemingly there is an epidemic of women who feel fine about leaving the house in extortionately priced jeans with pockets extending a good 3 inches below the curve of their bum giving their arses a pancake like appearance. Why would you do that? Isn’t arse flattery the whole point of jeans? They must have money to burn these girls. I ended up stopping off in The Gap on the way home and getting a perfectly nice pair of dark wash denims with pockets that sit nicely on my cheeks for a bargain $40; they're the right length too, so no need to have them hemmed.
Take that overpriced Bloomies denim.

At least Michael Douglas has his own teeth

My salsa instructor finally told me this week that I’m ready to move up to the level 2, advanced beginner, class. Whoo hoo, it’s about chuffing time. I’ve been slogging away in the basics class for almost 6months now and if I'd had my way I'd have moved up at least a month ago, however he's a bit of a perfectionist my instructor, but you only have to see him dance to realise that he probably knows what he's doing.

I've been biting my tongue and trying to be patient, but I was definitely getting bored of practising the same steps week in, week out. I'll give him his due though, he’s worked miracles given my lack of coordination in my first few lessons. You would have never have guessed I took dance classes for 11years as a kid - although admittedly that was 20years ago. It took me two weeks to get to grips with the basic step, which is essentially walking backwards and forwards.

Happily I’ve come a long way since then and I’m pleased I stuck with it and worked through the frustrations, although I still find it hard to get over my innate British-ness and lose my inhibitions with the styling, the flourishes that supposedly ‘add a sensual flair’ to your dance steps. It looks amazing when done well, but it doesn’t exactly come naturally to me and I always feel my moves are more ‘I’m a little teapot’ than sexy salsa goddess.

Oh well, maybe the styling will come with time, although it’s hard enough trying to keep a straight face while trailing my fingertips across my hair and down around my neck, all the while giving my partner a come hither look, so throw in having to do the footwork and following the guy’s lead at the same time and well...it’s a recipe for disaster. I worry that one of these days I’ll get so caught up attempting to coordinate the styling, the footwork and the following, that I’ll accidentally smack my dance partner in the face with my flailing arms and either break his nose or give him a black eye. It doesn't bear thinking about.

The good thing about moving up to the advanced beginner class is that not only will I learn some new steps and get to dance with men who are more experienced at leading, but I’ll no longer have to fend off the attentions of the geriatrics that seem to have taken a shine to me in the basics class. I'm flummoxed as to what it is about me that encourages 60plus year old men to ask me out, but deters men my own age. Answers on a postcard please.

I’ve been fending off the attentions of Walter, for about 3months now and the man will just not take no for an answer. I think he assumes I am just playing hard to get and that persistence will win through in the end. It won’t. It was even worse last night when he brought along his friend, Jorge, who also took a shine to me - WTF??? - and pestered me to come to a Latin music club in Canarsie– way way wayyyy out in Brooklyn – with him on Thursday. I declined several times, thankful to have my new level 2 class as an excuse, but was he put off? No, of course he bloody wasn’t. ‘Oh you can just come after your class, I’ll meet you at the subway station at 10pm.’


I was very relieved when the instructor shouted at us to ‘rotate’ and I was able to escape Jorge and move onto my next partner, although my relief was short lived when I spun into the waiting arms of Walter. Better the devil I know I suppose. Unfortunately, perhaps sensing competition for my affections in Jorge, Walter resumed pestering me to visit him in Coney Island for a tour of the neighborhood, his home town. About 3 months ago I made the mistake of mentioning I’d never been and he’s been bombarding me with invitations to experience the delights of the boardwalk ever since. I was only making conversation when the instructor was late to class one week. That’ll teach me to be polite.

He’s been quieter these past couple of weeks and I'd mistakenly assumed he’d finally got the message that I had no interest in someone 30years my senior. Unfortunately his fervor hadn’t dimmed, it was just napping and bristled quickly awake at a perceived threat from a romantic rival. The fact that I’ve no interest in either Jorge or Walter is of little relevance; my rejection having about as much success at halting their advances as a pea shooter against an approaching battle ship.

Walter must have asked me out 20times over the past 2-3months. I can only assume that he thinks he’ll wear me down eventually. After declining his Coney Island invitation for what feels like the zillionth time, he changed tack and insisted I go to Tuesday night salsa at Club Copacabana – yes, the one from the Barry Manilow song – with him sometime so that we can practice dancing. Hmmm, not before hell freezes over!!

Miles, my GBF who lives in London and an eternal romantic optimist, suggested I give one of these older men ‘a chance’ since my love life has been ‘almost as dry as the Gobi Desert’ since moving to New York five years ago. I can only assume he must be suffering from some sort of mental breakdown, since besides the fact that I’m generally not in the habit of dating men older than my father, we’re not talking about a couple of suave sophisticated older Cary Grant types here.

Walter bears a much closer resemblance to old man Steptoe than Mr. Grant. He’s very tall and skinny, with knobbly knees – he favors shorts for class, worn with socks and heavy work boots, all the better for crushing my toes when he steps on me - is rarely clean-shaven and has the air of a heavy smoker about him, not that he smells of cigarettes, but he does have an attractive hacking cough that’s a dead giveaway to him being an ex-smoker, and more often than not he turns up with lunch stains down his t-shirt. Delightful eh, just the type of man you want leering at you, commenting on how attractive you are and pestering you for dates. If I didn’t admire my instructor so much I would have run screaming from the studio long ago. With all this attention I’m beginning to feel like the Catherine Zeta Jones of the NY salsa scene.

Thankfully now that I’m moving up to level 2, I’ll be taking classes on Thursday instead of Monday, so chances of running into my admirers are slim, especially given their troubles with the most basic of steps, they’re even worse than I was, so fingers crossed it will be a while before I bump into Walter or Jorge in the advanced beginner class.