Sunday, January 25, 2009

The British are Coming!

Questions are opportunities. Every time someone asks me a question there are two answers: the serious and the farcical. More often than not I provide a sardonic retort to the posed question.

It was with great difficulty that I resisted the urge to answer the innocuous request to "Briefly describe yourself" for my company's weekly digest. Being one of the new hires, the communications director emailed me for some info. While I decided it would be best to play it straight, since my employer isn't a comedy venue, part of me still wishes I went with this:

Andrew was raised by a pack of wild hyenas. This upbringing has left him vulnerable to the sounds of laughter since he never learned to make the distinction between people laughing with him and at him. After the State intervened and separated him from his surrogate parents, he was thrown into a rapid immersion program and forced to abandon his native tongue. He still prefers a cave or open prairie to a cubicle, but it is an ongoing struggle. When dining out, he prefers his steaks rare and doesn't like cutlery. In his spare time, he likes chasing things and cleaning himself with his tongue. Plus, he's single.

In other news, work is going fine. I received my first strike for listening to music and not hearing my boss when he summoned me. The office policy is to write the song and artist on the board for the offense in question. Of course Pandora had to have an uber feminine song on: Title: "A Boy Like You." Despite clamoring that she wrote the song explicitly for me, my coworkers were not impressed. So much for claiming my devotion to jazz.

I have graduated the training program and have started writing real copy for real clients. Thus far, my filler content for the email bulletins has done quite well. On Friday, my three fillers each garnered about 200 clicks. My coworker/competition's fillers averaged about 40-50. I made sure to alert my boss of the victory.

Taking full advantage of my insurance, I went to the dentist during my lunch on Thursday. Fearful at the prospect of a stranger with a drill inside my mouth, I nervously waited for my check-up. With great pleasure, I discovered that aside from my wisdom tooth with a cavity there were no other flagrant offenses. I think the dentist was disappointed. I asked how things were other than the wisdom teeth. He didn't want to admit it. He whimpered "fine." But I will need to have my wisdom teeth out. What joy.

In regard to the wisdom tooth with a cavity, he commented, "That's a ticking time bomb."

I replied, "So THAT's what that noise was."

He was not amused.

Next week, one of my coworkers returns from her business trip to the UK. I've asked when it's my turn to cross the pond. One of the managers from the home base will be joining us this week.


If I Wanted to Watch ESPN, I Would've Stayed Home

Circling the narrow slushy streets of Chicago, I eventually found a space to store my car for the evening. The relative ease with which I found a place to park, turned out to be a poor indicator of the future of the night.

Walking to the address I was given for the meeting place, I quickly hopped and power walked through the icy terrain toward the apartment. This evening out was intended to be a celebration of finally finding a job and, hopefully, meeting some new ladies.

With gloved hands, I dialed my friend to alert her that I was downstairs and ready to party. In a minute we were ascending the stairs. Upon opening the door to her friend's place, I was greeted with a collective glossy gaze and the pungent stank of weed. My inner Woody Allen started to kick-in:
"Great, I'm going to get baked off of residual smokage. Now my clothes are going to reek of drugs and people I meet at the bar will think I'm a stoner. Then my hair will soak up whatever the chemical is in weed that they check for in drug tests. Then I'll lose my job...and if I lose my white picket 2.5 kids...end up in jail being some brutish man's wife..."
It was a regular trip down the winding street of Paranoia Boulevard. We eventually left the opium den for the bars of Wicker Park. I had solicited advice from some residents of the area on where to go and provided that info. The ringleader of the group had picked a place for us to go.

Bar #1 wasn't the type of place I would have picked. It was more of a hang-out with friends bar than a scrape drunk women off the floor bar. After hovering for a while like vultures over wildebeest shortly before their death, we got a couch. The setup of the bar was a bunch of couches and booths, plus a pool table, which isn't the most conducive for going up to the ladies, who are already in groups and in conversation. It could be argued that you can meet someone at any place. Or at least that's what the dating advice book (the title is something like How to meet anyone, anytime, anywhere) my mom gave me for my birthday advises.

After a round of drinks, the munchies started to kick in. I know this because some in the group started to be vehement about the need for pizza and potato skins. Following their drug-induced cravings, we headed off for another pub place where the focus is on your group, not on tackling drunk women. After an hour there, we went to bar #3 across the street. Pretty much the same as the first place, but smaller.

At this point, I figured it was time to call it a night. Traversing the icy sidewalks once again, I walked hastily toward where I parked my car. This is when the self-loathing thought process started; questioning why I even came out and what a waste of my time the evening turned out to be.

As I strode, I thought about giving it one more shot by going in to another bar by myself and salvage the night. I walked by this one place that had some heavy bass seeping through the door and two guys outside smoking. Sounded like the club atmosphere I was after. Considering entry, I was asked by one of the gentlemen if I were interested in crack or smack as I approached. I opted to walk on by, as Dionne Warwick advised.

This was one of the worst nights out I've had in a while. In the past, I tend to invite people to meet me someplace that has some promotion. Typically, my friends don't show and I end up talking to strangers attempting to make new friends who leave their houses.

The underlying issue is expectations. When I go out, I expect to have a good time. I can sit at home and feel sorry for myself for free. Why go out and pay for the same experience? I did look at the positives for the night: I made good time on the expressway, I found a place to park, my car wasn't stolen. I've tried the minimalist, Buddhist no expectations approach, but it just doesn't work for me. I will always have expectations and goals, which I don't think is a horrible thing.

Here's how the argument goes in my head:
  • No expectations = never disappointed
  • Expectations = likely to be disappointed, but if they are met you don't end up with a nagging rash

The gameplan for the next week is to join some more social groups and hope to meet people that way. This one is called AA. It sounds very supportive. Plus, I did see a date-and-dash event downtown for older women and younger men. They avoided calling it the "Cougar Edition," which I think was a misstep in terms of branding. Everyone needs some love, even geriatrics. Plus maybe she got all her smoking out of the way in the Sixties.

If/when I meet someone at one of these events, there is a strong possibility that if she plays her cards right, she could be spending Valentine's Day with me at Chipotle. At least I know what to expect there.